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Wednesday, Christmas Day, 2002

Could I be any more blessed? I say that truly meaning it and not just writing the words to pretend that all is wonderful and perfect. But seriously, I am sitting on a sandy beach on a warm sunny windy day able to marvel at the wonder of the vast Atlantic Ocean in front of me, listening to the waves crash against the shore. I realize I have been somewhat taking my week here for granter. When I think about the minutes, hours, time wasted on bickering with my mother, being angry, etc. This time may not come again but so often I lose recognition of that fact in the moments where I find myself annoyed, bothered, angry, etc. I don’t beat myself up for it because I am a highly reactive, emotional and feeling individual. however, the better I am at replacing those negative feelings with ones of compassion and love, the happier I will be. Sure, I don’t doubt that I will continue to be an opinionated person, but that’s why I have the stage, Jennifer. Use those where they will be most appreciated. And try to come to terms with your family, that they aren’t going to change. I know I write this all the time, but realize that the more you try, the more you set yourself up for disappointment and hurt. Turn to other relationships for support in yourcraft and day to day struggles. Cultivate those realtionships that will make you grow – stronger, better. You just re-connected with Laura to find you have so much in common. Doug is another. YiaYia, too. She is most supportive. I think you know, in your heart though, moving to NYC is not for you right now. Right now you need to embark on your own path – whatever it may be, with the confidence that you and only you know what is right for you. Talking it over with your friends, family, lovers (?), teddy bears (!), whatever, may help you discover these things for yourself by verbalizing what is in your heart – but only you know ad only you can make your decisions based on what is in your heart.

And please don’t berate or belittle yourself if things aren’t going as you think they should or as fast as you think they should. You are where you are meant to be. Remember that. This next year’s endeavors may be tough, but your rewards will be great. And you will be happy. Continue not to lose the love and light in your heart and treat every single person you meet as an opportunity to share your light and bright personality. And your gifts. Sure, there will be some dog days when you’d like to say “Fuck You” to the world. So go ahead. Do it. And then let it go and be done with it.

Monitor your ambition. Keep it focused and don’t allow it to run you ragged. Go after the things you are most fearful of – a successful relationship, career whatever. Just do it.

Connect, Jennifer. That is your strength. No matter how you do it, whatever your medium, connect with people. You are so good at it. As you were walking down the beach just now, something Patty said to you resonated in your head . . . “Look up. Don’t look down or at the floor when you dance.” that is a good metaphor for life, Jennifer. Don’t look down or avoid that opportunity for a connection with people. That’s how you affect people, Jennifer. Communicate with them. Don’t be afraid to reveal or show yourself. Who you are. What’s inside of you. Believe that what you have to express will better people’s lives. Either make them happy or force them to explore parts of themselves and emotions they never knew were there. That is your purpose. Your charge, your calling. That is what I am challenging you to do, to accomplish.

Don’t fear. I will be here – there – in all ways to guide you if you move ahead with courage, conviction and fortitude.

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Fitness, Food, Faith.

For years, I tried to change the outside. I believed my happiness and my joy was contingent upon what my body looked liked. I worked out like a fiend. I starved myself. When the starvation thing became unsustainable, I turned to raw food only. When raw food had my digestive system in complete distress I decide to go to holistic nutrition school in NYC.

It was one of the happiest years of my life, not because I learned exactly what to eat, but because I was living in a new city with new friends, surrounded by a community of like-minded people I loved. I was thriving. But when school was over, my friends gone, I once again found myself sad, lonely, wishing life was different. I was still working out – and working – like a fiend.

When all of the coping mechanisms I had employed in the past broke down, I turned to yoga. But unlike the yoga I had been practicing to this point, I sensed there was something beneath the down dogs and chattarungas. While many people prefer to skip the spiritual nature of the yoga tradition altogether, I was starving for it. I had exhausted all other resources to heal myself. Faith was my new fix and something that continues to grow and blossom every day.

Eventually however, I realized the answer isn’t in any of these things and it’s in all of them at the same time. Sometimes a good sweat is the answer. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes a crazy cleanse is just what you need – sometimes it’s the last thing you need. Sometimes more meditation or 200 rounds of mala beads saves you. Other times not so much. Sometimes all you need is a cocktail. Other times, it’s poison.

However, I’ve never found a situation that a good hug and belly laugh can’t cure.

It’s not that I’ve stopped practicing everything I’ve learned along the way regarding self- care – body, mind and spirit. It’s just that I’ve stopped relying on these tools to make things different. All of the trainings and teachings are leading me (notice the use of the continuous tense) to a place of radical acceptance. Can I accept myself in this moment, just as I am? Can I accept my pain, hurt, failure, flab, sadness, grief, anxiety, uncertainty, and insecurity knowing everything is temporal and, at some point, it will shift? To be replaced by joy, laughter, freedom, ease, liberation, success, confidence, and a stunning ass and abs you can count. (Maybe not six, but at least one or two.)

Life is flux. Life is change. Accepting it all – not trying to heal or change anything – has been the greatest lesson of all.

I have not stopped learning altogether, either. I’m still a sucker for a good self-help book and a weekend workshop or two. But I no longer take what I learn as gospel or a fix to heal whatever is broken within me. I now take it for what it is: learning. Expanding my mind and my toolbox.

All of this is why I have never been able to create a ‘system’ or program for anything – fitness, dance, yoga, etc. As soon as an idea would come and I’d get it down on paper, I’d change my mind. I’d think of a million and one reasons people shouldn’t be doing barre or  yoga or doing a cleanse or cutting carbs completely. I’d be on to lifting weights or self-massage or nothing at all. And I’d eat whatever the hell I wanted to. I never wanted to pigeon hole myself as the ‘barre gal’ or ‘dance gal’. Like many women, I am ‘all gals’ – and how I choose to express any one gal in particular changes from day to day.

I am attempting to embrace the fact that there are no answers. So I can stop looking. I can stop trying to figure out the un-figurable. My brain, which has been in overdrive for forty some years, can take a break. Quite frankly, the way mine runs, I was sure it would have quit by now. Wishful thinking.

This is a new practice for me, this radical acceptance. I’ve been conditioned to resist relaxation because you never know what catastrophe is lurking around the corner. Doing is easy for me. Being is harder. I’m now on high alert to bring awareness to those moments when I project into the future. When I find myself resisting the letting go, I breathe. I exhale. I dip into the wellspring of wisdom I’ve accumulated over my twenty years of study in the wellness space. After all what good is the thousands of dollars I threw into my studies if they couldn’t help me when I needed them most?

I confirm that there is nothing else but this moment and, in fact, I. AM. OKAY. I turn whatever tricks I need to change the tide of the momentum of my mind. And I do it over, and over, and over, and over again. Until it becomes my new normal.

Insignificant

Sometimes the level of insignificance I feel is staggering.
Like it wouldn’t matter if I drove my car
Straight through this red light into the ocean
Instead of south on PCH.
I dream of it often.
Instead, I turn left, like I’m supposed to.
Like I’m always supposed to.
And just drive really fast.
As fast as I can without hurting someone else.
Driving really fucking fast makes me feel better.
I get an inch closer to knowing death.
It’s nights like these
I’m glad a drive a manual.

 

 

#metoo

I awoke in the middle of the night last night. My groggy body and weary eyes told me it was not yet time to be up. I opened my iPad to confirm that fact. 2 A.M. I was pissed. I had collapsed into bed a mere four hours prior, exhausted from a long day at work and an even longer two months of life. I hadn’t even been able to muster enough energy to wash the day off myself and shower. I barely could collect enough strength to bring my toothbrush to my mouth. So, given the opportunity to take deep rest, why the fuck was I up at 2 A.M.?

My mind immediately began examining what I ate earlier that night. Was there too much salt in the soup? What about that one bite of chocolate chip cookie? Or had I simply snacked too late? It seems I’ve been super sensitive to what I’m ingesting lately and I was determined to blame the culinary culprit.

As intrusive as the light from my iPad felt to my eyes, I attempted to distract my ruminating mind and lull myself back to sleep with a glance at the sludge of social media. About 5 minutes in it hit me. I am super sensitive to what I take in. And not just food. As I scrolled through story after story, post after post of ‘#metoo’ the pain began to well up in my heart until it could no longer contain itself. What awoke me in the middle of the night was not the cookie or the salt or any other crap food. What awoke me in the middle of the night was the poison we’ve been ingesting collectively for years. Decades. Possibly centuries.

I began to weep. Not only from my own pain and shame of the sexual assault I experienced – something I repressed for 22 years – but also for the generations of women and men devastated by a culture that continues to shove aside the Divine feminine in the name of advancement, progress and growth. In the name of money, power and status.

All actions bear fruit. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. It is the law of the Universe. It is called karma. What is being played out in our society is a result of all our behaviors. Not just of a few. Generations of it. Years and years of disregard for Her and the world which She created. The Goddess will be repressed no more. She is awakening. She is rising and she will do whatever is necessary to wake all of us up in order to restore the beautiful balance of Divine order. The masculine and feminine must dance in love once again.

This is painful for so many of us. Too many to ignore. But never forget we suffer at the hand of Her love. The tears must be shed, the blood must be borne. The past must be so painful we have no choice but to choose a different present. Sadly, it’s the only way we monkeys known as humans seem to learn. The sickness of society must become so prevalent that it touches and affects a majority of us. We must turn the tide as a united force. Only then will the collective consciousness gaze towards peace. Towards compassion. Towards respect. Towards reverence. Towards kindness. And towards love. And if it takes a million hashtags of ‘metoo’ and ‘imsorry’ and tears in the middle of the night – if it takes a mass devastation so that each and every individual feels the pain of our ways – so be it. Her will will be done. In some way. In some fashion. But never, ever doubt her love for us all.

I know what I’m about to say will seem more than challenging – it may seem I’m asking the impossible – but thank the Weinsteins and the Trumps and the Stephan Paddocks of the world. Their actions shine a light on the prevalence of suffering we are all enduring. Without which, we could easily continue to bury, shame and push down travesties and transgressions.

I am clear. When I weep, I heal. I change. When you weep, you heal. You change. When more of us weep, more of us heal. More of us change. As awful as it seems, it is an amazing time to be alive right now. Witness the magnitude of world events in awe and gratitude. Feel the ground shaking. We are in the middle of a revolution. Like many before us have fought for our freedoms from slavery and tyranny with guns and cannons, we too are fighting for our freedom. With tears and anger and hashtags.

We fight for our freedom to feel safe.

We fight for our freedom to smile.

We fight for our freedom to play.

We fight for our freedom to laugh and be joyful.

We fight for our freedom to love.

We fight for our freedom to embrace all in a new world order.

One that honors and celebrates the feminine in us all. She is the creator of all. And She will restore all. And so shall it be.

 

 

Is Enough Enough?

Last night I got sucked into the social media abyss of Instagram. For a half hour, maybe more (but who’s counting?) I poured over other abnormally beautiful girls’ photos who seemed to glow with fairy dust and poop golden gumdrops. Every photo seemed carefully crafted to display how amazing their life is while simultaneously assuring us that arriving to this place of effortless effervescence required diligent effort and struggle. This life of rainbows and butterflies and God damn grace. And there I sat – greasy hair pulled up in an anything but beautiful bun bouncing on the top of my head. I resembled something more of a paleolithic cartoon character than a modern have-it-all woman of Instagram. I was pissed that I couldn’t get paid for simply striking a pretty yoga pose. Annoyed that I always seemed to work my ass off for peanuts relatively speaking. I astonished over one golden girl in particular. Videos of her seamlessly transitioning from a forward fold to a pose with one one foot extended BEHIND HER FUCKING HEAD and the other extending straight out in front of her. Like one of the shapes I used to create with silly putty when I was little. It’s taken me eight years to get my head anywhere near my shins and THIS is the new standard for yoga? Fuck. I’ll never win. I realized that’s always been my mantra. I will not deny my successes or that I’ve had some incredible experiences in life. But it’s not enough. I’m not enough. I’ve always come really darn close to enough. And Lord knows, I’ve fought and worked my ass off for close to enough. But I could never quite get to enough. I always seemed to land just short of enough. Just shy of top of my class. Just short of a 4.0. A few spots below #1. A few pounds short of thin enough. A couple highlights less than blonde enough. A zero or two away from wealthy enough. I’ve hovered more in the ‘above average’ range. Better than many – not quite the best. I notice, as much work as I’ve done to be above comparison, it’s not much different. I’m still trying to prove I’m smart enough. Pretty enough. Flexible enough. Enlightened enough.
I can’t do this anymore. Who am I trying to prove myself to? My boss? My colleagues? My family? Myself? God? Sometimes, I wish I were just a total fuck up. Then the bar would be set kind of low. But it seems like someone’s always inching my bar a little higher. Just when I think I’m almost there, there she is – Ms. Golden Yogini striking a handstand on the beach in a bikini drinking green juice and smiling – nudging the bar a little higher. And me struggling and straining to fulfill my potential. To get a bit ahead. One step forward. Three steps back. I’m exhausted chasing enough, trying to keep up with her. When will enough be enough?

Old Friends

There’s something about connecting with old friends with whom you share common history – like high school, or college – no matter how close you were or weren’t at the time. There is a familiar backdrop or shared experience that others who weren’t a part of will be hard pressed to relate.

Recently, I’ve had the good fortune to spend some time with girlfriends from both high school and college. As I’ve processed some traumatic events of my past over the last month, these connections and friendships have supported me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

These women knew me before I even knew what yoga was. Before the challenges of adulthood and the big decisions that have shaped who I am since the day I turned 22. Before the turmoil of depression and the highs and lows of my career. They may not know every detail of the past 20 plus years, and somehow it hasn’t mattered. There is an openness that has been automatic. A vulnerability that is easy with women you don’t have to explain yourself to. Those who know exactly what it was like to fumble through life against the same backdrop you did.

While I love my ‘new’ friends, no one will ever quite understand what it was like to grow up in Clarks Summit, PA like my three best friends from high school. We spent an entire weekend in NYC, reminiscing about inappropriate songs we sang (if you don’t know it, Google Rodeo Song and you’ll see exactly what I mean) and boys and getting caught sneaking out of the house. But we spent more time sharing our feelings about our parents getting older, our individual losses – some bigger than others – and what has broken, and mended, our hearts. We also discussed buying a big piece of land somewhere while two of them finish raising their kids and the other two of us sans children tend to things such as gardening, composting, cooking and teaching yoga. Somehow, the 25 years since graduation has changed us, but in other ways – the ones that count – not so much.

No one who hasn’t gone to the small liberal arts University in the middle of nowhere Virginia will ever understand what it was like for a woman at an institution that upheld male superiority and preference at all costs. The damage that was done. How much emotional and somatic trauma that was incurred. How utterly fucked up it was. My friend and I tried to describe it in a way that wasn’t so primitive. Neither of us could. Odd for an institution that prides itself on high education, tradition and exceptional moral values.

I hadn’t seen my friend from college in over 20 years, yet somehow I was completely comfortable sharing some of my darkest secrets with her. There was no hesitation. I knew she would understand. I knew I wouldn’t have to explain things that I couldn’t quite put in words. I knew she would empathize. She did. With one conversation, I was relieved of a heavy burden of the past.

Yes, I truly love the friends I’ve made since I’ve committed to walking a spiritual path. We share a common language. It’s easy to talk about how hard it is to pursue a conscious and awake life. But the cool thing is, my friends from way back when support and love me, unconditionally, even if they don’t understand the language I speak. Turns out, they’re on their own quest of evolvement and growth even if the dialect is different. Turns out – we’re all spirits just doing the best we can being as humans.

To those of you (you know who you are and just in case you don’t I’ve tagged you on social media) who have supported and loved me as I heal from some life changing events, this one’s for you:

Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

A circle is round,
it has no end.
That’s how long,
I will be your friend.

A fire burns bright,
it warms the heart.
We’ve been friends,
from the very start.

You have one hand,
I have the other.
Put them together,
We have each other.

Silver is precious,
Gold is too.
I am precious,
and so are you.

You help me,
and I’ll help you
and together
we will see it through.

The sky is blue
The Earth is green
I can help
to keep it clean

Across the land
Across the sea
Friends forever
We will always be

I am forever grateful for you.

My Favorite Place

After most people have turned down the lights and climbed into bed – this is my favorite time to take a walk to the beach. Long after the sun sets and the tourists have gone home, the sand and saltwater become my home again. Just me, the sea and the moon. This night, the clouds are thick enough to dim its normally brilliant light making it extra daring to tread out on the rocks that jut into the water. Even though PCH is still fairly busy, I hear nothing of cars or engines or annoying joy riding motorcycles or city busses. All I hear is waves crashing loudly – one of my favorite sounds in the whole world. To my left, I can see the lights from the ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier. To my right, a flashing color strobe light from a rager at a swanky home in Malibu. But directly in front of me, only dark dark steely grey (not quite black) gently covered by a layer of smoky fog. Until a white splash bursts forward when the water crashes into the jetty.  All I smell is sweet salt water. One of my favorite scents in life. This is magic.

Within minutes the waves crash closer beneath the rocks where I sit making it more and more plausible that I’ll get soaked as the seconds go by. I think of walking in. I do. But in this moment it seems sitting above the waves is enough to benefit from their cleansing strokes. Every crash shatters my illusions and every lapse back to sea washes away the residual debris. The purifying truth telling sea. Yes, in its vast darkness, it’s my favorite place to be.

This is the only noise I ever want to hear again. I want to stay here forever. I dread turning my back on all of this dark mystery to walk up the long hill home. It feels like one of those magical dates that starts in the afternoon and lingers unexpectedly  – along with kisses and gentle touches – into the depths of night. One you never want to end. But eventually, it does.

Even though I’m back on concrete, tolerating the occasional vehicle riding by, just as I’m ascending my ears take in something different. Frogs – tenors, bass, altos and sopranos – all contributing their unique CROAKS to the symphony of nature. It was as if I was sitting front row of a raging frog concert. Until a vehicle races by and, as if the frogs detect an intruder into their private concert, fall silent.

I continue my climb home, knowing the night and I share some very private moments. Thoughts that are never to be discussed, words that only we exchange, dreams only She will know. In Her darkness, my secrets will always be safe.

I Have Questions

I recently reached out to one of my teachers about a session I had completed with him a couple of weeks prior. I explained that while I was still bathing in the afterglow of the healing time together, I continued to feel unclear about a few things.  He said the very best answers are the ones that bring us to better questions. Yup, I had questions. I always have questions. I always want to know more. I’m like the four year old. Why is the sky blue? Why does the ball bounce? How does the car start? How did I get here? What is that all about? What does it mean? Where is it going? And of course, the biggest one of all Why am I here?
I suppose it’s good to be a curious soul. But there are times when I wish I weren’t so, well, inquisitive. Honestly, it often makes it difficult to simply sit back and enjoy the fucking ride.
I know all of my questioning is prompting me in a very particular direction. I know my curiosity propels me to my dharma – or role I play in the world order – something I wouldn’t be able to uncover without asking some very tough questions.
I do wish however, that more often, I could lay down and let shit go. That’s what I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. Trust. Faith. As simple as those concepts sound, they are challenging ideals to develop. At least for me. I grew up in an environment that for all intents and purposes, was very black and white. There is right and there is wrong. There is work and there is play. And ne’er the two shall intertwine. We live in a society that increasingly needs an explanation or proof in order to make things so. Trust? There are so many reasons not to. Sit back and wait for things to happen? Not an option. GO GET IT. Do, Do, DO.
I see the inherent beauty of my life. I FEEL it. I have a clear picture of what’s on its way. But to trust it’s coming? And believe in what I’ve ‘seen’ yet not be able to explain it? Or know exactly the next step I need to take to get there and trust She will show me the way? Well, that’s a tough one. As is patience. So here I sit, writing. Waiting for what’s to come.

Thoughts On Love.

What is love? Love is an action not a thing to be had, owned or possessed. It certainly can be given but must also be received. (One of my greatest challenges.) You can’t need love because you are it. As Rumi says “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Love never says Yes, but . . . only And, also. It is all inclusive and yes, blind in that it is indiscriminate. It is available to everyone who would like to participate. Anyone can be a participant in love. Love is timeless, ageless.

More and more I am learning it requires my active engagement and not just idle daydreaming. It requires a choice to act in a way that express it in every moment regardless of circumstance.

Thank you to my teachers who continue to usher me along this path of love. I know I can be stubborn and very often forget the truths which you so graciously share. But I do understand and I am learning to play in a new sandbox. I don’t know all the rules (are there any in love?) or playmates, but I hope and trust, as I continue my practice of deep unconditional love, I’ll find more playmates to build castles with me in the same sandbox. And my sandbox will be open to anyone who wants to join.

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