"When I accept myself I am freed from the burden of needing you to accept me." Dr. Steve Maraboli
Those of you who have been reading me for a while, know that my dear friend, Alia, and I used to do something called "Soul Talks." These were uncensored, real conversations Alia and I happily had, recorded and shared. Originally, because Alia lived 8,300 miles away in Bali, Indonesia, these talks were done over Skype and we just shared the audio. Well, guess what? By some series of mysterious, grace-filled events, Alia now lives twenty minutes from my house. So, last week, with an owl hooting in the background, with the summertime breeze and trees and singing birds, we recorded our very first Soul Talk sitting side by side. Our very first Soul Talk where we are sharing the video form. Yikes. Though this is definitely a bit out of the comfort zone, I am stepping more and more in to this freedom space where I care more about sharing my voice than I fear criticism. Hallelujah!
In this episode of Soul Talks, we discuss the crippling effects of self-judgment, fear of criticism, and how we're overcoming these obstacles to freedom.
P.S: Alia and I are in the midst of creating a brand new something else that is going to be extra magically special. Stay tuned for the big sharing. Coming very soon. :)
I have fewer and fewer words. I mean, how do I explain
between bites of corn on the cob and requests to pass the butter
that I've been shedding layers of stuff that never
fit, that I spend hours and days crawling out of the tight
of their tiny boxes, tossing breathless stories written in handwriting I never recognized. How
do I explain that sometimes on a Tuesday afternoon, I sit still
and listen to trees, wind, rain - to that tender voice
that doesn't use words - until I join hands with the scared one in my head
and ink trickles or spills. How do I explain that I care less
about getting things done and what I might look like from their eyes and more about clearing a path that finds the God in all of it. How do I explain what I've been up to when what I've been up to is spinning
these shadows into something you and I can rest
inside, something that will help us remember our own astonishing light. So, rather than answering with an I'm fine
or listing off what I've accomplished lately, which seems
a lot more like nothing than something
I breathe a holy breath, look into your waiting eyes
and, with a smile that holds a heart full of something I'm just starting to recognize
It's been over three weeks since I've written in this space but it kind of
feels like forever. It seems the longer I go without
writing/painting/sharing, the harder it is to sit down and begin. The
more time that goes by, the more the paralyzing mind resistance kicks in.
The more time that goes by, the bigger deal my mind makes of it all.
Steven Pressfield's book,The
War of Art,he writes...
does Resistance feel like?
unhappiness. We feel like hell. A low-grade misery pervades
everything. We're bored, we're restless. We can't get no
satisfaction. There's guilt but we can't put our finger on the source.
We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party. We feel
unloved and unlovable. We're disgusted. We hate our lives. We
morning I really didn't feel like getting out of bed. I didn't feel like
making lunches for my girls for the three millionth time. I didn't feel
like tackling the overflowing basket of clean clothes that's been sitting in
the back room for three days. I didn't feel like cleaning up the kitchen
-again. I didn't feel like going to the
grocery store or thinking about what to have for dinner or taking a shower or
searching through my closet for the one pair of pants that still fits. I
didn't feel like taking out my paints and making another mess on canvas. I
didn't feel like going for a run even though I signed up to run a 5K with my
nine-year-old, and that run is coming up in less than two weeks (and I'm in the
worst shape of my entire life). I didn't feel like thinking about what it
is that I might do to make myself useful in this lifetime. I didn't
feel like thinking about what color (out of 10 million different choices of
colors) to paint our newly remodeled dining room/living room. I didn't feel
like thinking about the team mom (a single mother to three girls) for my
daughter's soccer team who just found out she has bone cancer.
a text message to a dear friend, I wrote:
such a gorgeous day but I feel so dull inside.
a tremendous amount of resistance from my mind, I somehow managed to get myself
in the car and drove to my favorite, pine-needled, mossy, fern growing,
delicious smelling, wooded running trail. The sun was shining. The birds
were singing madly. While I ran (otherwise known as a barely-moving slow jog),
I thought of all the things inside of me that are dying to get out. I thought
about how lucky I am to be healthy and moving on this bright, beautiful
morning. I silently scolded myself for having so much but (at times)
appreciating so little. I thought about how lucky the trees and creek and
birds are to be blessed without a mind. I thought about how filled with
joy painting used to be until my mind got involved. I thought about how, more
than anything, I want to make myself useful in this world. I thought
about how, running on that trail, moving my body - even though it felt somewhat
painful - it wasn't nearly as painful as the shit my mind throws at me every
day. I thought about how sad it is that I often hold back my truth, my life
force, my art and creativity, out of fear. Fear of saying too much or too
little. Fear of appearing dull or crass or stupid. Fear of what others may or may not
I thought about how critical/necessary - crucial - it is to show up for the sake of my own health and sanity.
a few minutes ago, I came across the following words, written by the incredibly
brave, honest writer, Anne Lamott...
Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and
you're 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn't
go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were
jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out
on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy
creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space
like when you were a kid? It's going to break your heart. Don't let this happen.
A reviewer may hate your style, or newspapers may neglect
you, or 500 people may tell you that you are bitter, delusional and boring.
Let me ask you this: in the big juicy Zorba
scheme of things, who fucking cares?
There was something about this who
fucking cares part that really got my attention and reminded me (I seem to need CONSTANT reminders) that the
release I get from expressing the truth, the release I get from showing up as ME, is worth far more than getting good
reviews (or likes or comments or followers or sales, or whatever).
So today, once again I remind myself that life is way, way too short (and precious) to hold back what's dying to get out - to hold back my ME-ness. Life is way too short to worry anymore about these damn jiggly thighs and too big tummy. Life is way too short to care if they will think I'm too this or not enough of that - because, really (and I say this with lots of love, with hope of release)...
I wrote the below words last week when I was in the midst of some pretty deep
sadness. Though, in this moment, much of that particular kind of sadness
has lifted -I know this depth of
feeling is something we all experience. So, in the spirit of wanting to
share the whole of it, here's where I've been lately. I hope that, in reading this, you feel less alone in whatever
it is that you walk through.
* * *
I'm going through something right now that I don't understand. This something goes beyond the everyday challenges and hardness and loss and sadness that is (as much as joy and beauty and peace and love) part of this life we live.
This morning I read the below
words and they too (like almost everything does these days) made me cry:
I felt ashamed...for all that I was blessed
with and how sad I still felt.Andrea Scher
For all I was blessed with and how sad I stillfeel.
don't understand how I can have so much, be so fully, richly blessed, how my heart can
be broken open by the beauty in a single dew drop, and yet feel - still -
I want is to open up. I want to know what's inside me. I want everybody to
open up. I'm like an imbecile with a can-opener in his
hand, wondering where to begin - to open up the earth. I know that
underneath the mess everything is marvelous. I'm sure of it.
I know it because I
feel so marvelous myself most of the time. And when I feel that
way everybody seems marvelous...everybody and everything...even pebbles
and pieces of cardboard...a match stick lying in the gutter...anything...a goat's beard, if you like. That's what I want to write
about...and then we're all going to see clearly, see what a staggering,
wonderful, beautiful world it is."-Henry
The above words just
came to my inbox (again via Andrea Scher)....and,oh my gosh, how they string the
chord of everything inside me. How they point to the sadness, the longing - the
pain that has been here since I was too young to write, wore pigtails, lived in
that burnt-grassed-tarantula-frequented-army quarters yard in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.
The pain that comes
from wanting, wanting so much - to open, to open to it all - to open
it all up. To connect deeply. Toserve.
The hurt that comes
from wanting this deeply but not knowing where to begin - not knowing (sometimes)how.
I do know that
underneath the mess, the pain, the hard of it all - there is great beauty. And I know, too, thatdeep in the midst of great pain, there is beauty. And that letting myself feel SAD is part of opening to it ALL. I know this but I can't see it right now and somehow expressing this,
sharing it with you, helps me to release some of the hard. Helps me to look up
and in and out. Helps me to inhale
and call bullshit on all that this
mind tries to trap me in. Plus, it's incredibly freeing and relieving (and becoming more and more urgently necessary) to tell the truth. Truth:I don't know what the next step is but I'm doing my best to stay open, moment by moment - to listen deeply. Truth: Sometimes I feel full of love and clarity and purpose and sometimes my heart fills split open with sadness or grief or confusion. Often, in a single day - a single moment, even - I swing back and forth and back again with this full range of it all. Truth: I'm seeing more deeply that there is room for it ALL...thatallof it is part of what it means to be a divine spirit living in a human body, in a messy, imperfect, beautiful human world. Truth: When I let my heart be split open with deep sadness, it opens me up to deep love. Great, big, all-encompassing, deep, true, L O V E. Truth: I am not linear. Life is not linear. Truth: I've been baking bread from scratch lately. Adding yeast to water, letting it sit, watching it rise, touching and rolling and baking - adding butter. Then savoring every warm bite. There is something in this process that is deep and true and necessary for me right now. Truth: This opening, waking up, is not about trying to get rid of any of it (sadness included). It's not about making myself or any of it wrong. It's about wrapping arms around all of it. Even the hard stuff. Maybe especially the hard stuff. Thank you for listening.
And thank you ahead of
time for seeing through my pain to the beauty that's here (that is there in you too) - just on the other side.
Words can't possibly
convey how much this means. How much this feels like true love to me.
I want to leave you with some words (written by Rainer Maria Rilke). The resonance of these words makes me need to lie down.
"Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
So you mustn’t be frightened, if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you have ever seen; if an anxiety, like light and cloud-shadows, moves over your hands and over everything you do. You must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall." Rilke
Life has not forgotten you (or me). It holds you in its hand and will not let you fall.
“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.” Rumi
I'm taking a deep breath as I show up here this morning. There is so much I want to say and share and this mind of my mine wants to structure it somehow, it wants to make a plan and place it inside something neat and digestible. But here's the thing this deeper place in me wants - it wants so much to let it all tumble out, however it feels like tumbling.
Years ago, when I was at a writing retreat with amazing woman and author/artist, Natalie Goldberg, she said something that stuck and keeps sticking, something I repeat inside my head continuously. What she said as we entered the room with chairs all lined up in neat little rows was, BREAK OPEN STRUCTURE. Our five days of writing time together began with moving those chairs out of their straight obedient little rows and scattering them in a way that felt spacious and free.
If there is one thing this soul of mine has been saying, whispering - screaming at me for as long as I can remember, it is this: LET YOURSELF BE FREE. Break the fuck open structure!
Years ago, while having a discussion about intelligence and all the unique ways it shows up in people, a friend who knew me well, said to me, You are smart in a very non-linear way. You know how some things just stick, how certain things just have that special kind of zing? Well, there was something about him saying this to me that's felt important and I think I'm only just now, almost twenty years later, getting the why of this.
I've spent pretty much all of my life resisting the very things that make me uniquely me - thinking I needed to be more like this or less like that. I've thought I needed to be more organized and structured, for example - less sensitive, more knowing of things that I "should" know. I've yelled at and belittled myself over the fact that I pretty much suck at remembering names and dates, that I don't know things most people seem to know. Resisting these things about myself have blocked me from truly allowing me to be me. The me who remembers feelings more than facts, the me who eats corn on the cob, not in neat, little rows but scattered and all over the place, the me who feels everything intensely, the me who wants to dive in to the depths of people and stay and stay there.
The reason I bring this up, is because I see that so much of the suffering in this world is people (and by people I mean we, us - me) resisting themselves - people thinking they aren't enough of this, too much of that, continuously comparing and judging and deciding they come up short. Containing what they have decided is shameful or wrong about themselves, their lives, their stories. Rather than wrapping arms around what makes us unique, and therefore brilliant in a way only we/you/me can be, we press down and push away.
In other words, as Rumi speaks to above, we put up barriers to love - to our own truer than true, beautiful selves. And oh - how painful this is.
These last few months have been intensely painful for me and I come here now feeling like I'm on the other side of some of the pain. I'm in a kind of clear open meadow where I can see some things I wasn't seeing when I was deep in the thick of the shit. The shit that was telling me how I should be, what I should be doing, what my lifeshould look at almost the age of 44. There was so much shit being tossed at me from the crazy lady in my head (as author Cheryl Strayed likes to say), I blocked the love from getting in - or out.
And it took my breath away.
A couple weeks ago when I was deep in the thick of that shit, I had a nudge to get Cheryl Strayed's book, Wild. At the time, the crazy lady in my head was being so harshly judgmental about what I should be doing, telling me all the ways I should be productive with my time, I could hardly allow myself the time and space to just sit down and read it.
But one gloriously sunny and uncharacteristically warm day, I took that gem of a book with me to the top of a big hill, planted myself in the sunshine, and read and read and read. I read as if my life depended on it.
As I read, something started to fill and fill and something else - something heavy and stuck - started to fall away.
As I read, a soft, gentle, tender hand-on-my-shoulder voice said, just let yourself be, sweetheart. This is your next step - to just let yourself BE - to meet yourself right where you are - crazy lady and all. To not judge any of it.
The minute I let myself be, whew...I could breathe again. I could hear the singing birds. I could stand in the center of the IS-ness of that momentwithout making any of it wrong, without pushing a single bit of it away.
And in that place of not pushing any of it away, I could hear a voice in me that told me exactly what to do next - and that next had nothing to do with trying to be productive in that way we humans think we should be. And everything to do with loving myself more, listening to myself more, quieting my mind more, sitting and feeling that nameless something that sits deep in the center of me more. It had everything to do with allowing that hand-on-my-shoulder voice to lead me to my next true step. It had everything to do with allowing myself to BREATHE again.
What is clearer than has ever been clear is that I can't hear the voice that matters, I can't know true next steps, if I'm tangled in fear. Being tangled in fear, pushing myself to do, do, do, doesn't lead to "success" and productivity, it leads to pain and paralysis. When I give myself permission to feel what I feel, to break open structure, to be who I am, to do that thing that feels gentle and loving (even when it doesn't look the least bit productive), something takes my hand and leads me gently forward, forward toward love - forward toward the only kind of productive and linear I want ever to be.
* * *
Happy Love Day to you, beautiful people. I'm so deeply grateful we're here together.
My life's work and deepest desire is to awaken to my own best self and to guide others to the same. If you feel called to let go of that which no longer serves you and to step into your most empowered self, we might be a perfect match. Click on image to learn more.
Want personal updates/coupons/news I don't share anywhere else? Subscribe here.