Life is not a straight line. It's a downpour of gifts, please – hold out your hand

lovelovelovelove
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dldldldlldldlldldl
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Thank you for being here. I'm so glad you're here.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Still, She Breathes






Still, She Breathes

She decides to return to the simple, 
hummingbird sipping nectar 
outside open window, pink petals 
lit up and laughing with sun

she rests her hand on her own hurting heart, breathes
the kind of breath that releases
all trying, all wanting, all waiting - all promises 
of saviors and some day.

She allows rain to pound hard
on all that no longer shelters.

She remembers there is medicine, 
the very best kind of medicine, inside 
the tender-sweet song of now. 

She remembers it is never not now.

She decides to return to the simple, 
rolls out yoga mat, allows each stretch, 
each bow, each breath 
to teach her all the secrets.

She whispers namaste to her own reflection,
and these words whisper back - 

It is enough to be you.

She lets a lifetime of sorrow seep 
from her tired, trying bones, 
lets it rest on the ground 
with every mighty 
fallen petal. And she breathes. 

Still, she breathes.



©Julia Fehrenbacher
Image found on Pinterest



Wednesday, January 16, 2019

It's All A Doorway





"The more you love your art/calling/enterprise, the more important its accomplishment is to the evolution of your soul, the more you will fear it and the more resistance you will experience facing it." Steven Pressfield

I've been revisiting the amazing book, "The War of Art: Break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles" by Steven Pressfield. When I first read his book (years ago), there was such tremendous relief that someone put words to the thing, the great battle I had with myself every single time I would even think about creating.

It seems cruel that the things that most feed and fill our spirit are often met with the most resistance/fear/terror. Yet, in my experience, this is the case.
But, I have also found that when I break through this terrible resistance, and sit my ass down and JUST DO, magic happens.

I am so very happy to say that I have (finally!) found a way to show up despite the tremendous resistance. And it feels absolutely epic.

“To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be.”
(More words from "The War of Art")

Thanks to a very dear friend (Brooke, I love you!), who sat with me over coffee and listened and listened some more, I recently got very clear about what it is that I want/am aching for. After patiently listening forever, she prompted me to, very clearly, (I've decided clarity is pretty much everything), write down the things I had identified as spirit-feeding...things that I must do every. single. day. No exceptions. No negotiating. No excuses (well, there may be a few exceptions that are acceptable). No wiggling my way out of it.

I am so very happy to share that I am now on week 3 of my non-negotiable showing up for myself. To say that it has been liberating/freeing/healing/empowering is a huge understatement. Because of some intense resistance, I had let years (really, years?) go by where I didn't pick up a paintbrush. This is hard to believe considering how soul-feeding painting is for me. But it's true.

Yesterday (again, despite the biggest kind of resistance), I sat my ass down in my art room and, ready for this? - I let myself paint. A couple of times, I almost cried it felt so unbelievably good/relieving/liberating.

Exhale. Amen. Hallelujah.

My greatest hope for you is that you listen deeply to what your spirit is calling you to. That you respond to that call. That you sit your ass down and begin.

It will matter in ways you can't possibly measure.

From my heart to yours with so much love and appreciation,


Julia

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Holy Liberation


Image found on Google Images
Happy 2019 to you!
I hope the beginning of this new year feels free and fresh and full of possibility (because it is).
My newest poem (below) is a reflection of where I am right now. I have a renewed sense of resolve and a knowing that I am ready, so ready! - to claim/reclaim a true sense of empowerment, to step into the fullness of who I am. I see very clearly how, so much of my life, I have very much moved from a place of limitation and lack. I see how I have so often operated from my scared-little-me self, rather than my deep, empowered, aligned-with-something-bigger self. I have been far too concerned about what people may or may not think of me and my creations, rather than dedicating myself to full, FREE, ME-expression. Even though I have made many steps forward with my writing and art, a part of me has been hiding out in my comfortable place. But, most importantly, as you will read in my below poem, something big and important has shifted.
I am so very ready to stop allowing fear to be in the driver's seat. I know this doesn't at all mean that fear will no longer be present, just that I (my empowered, bigger Self) intends to do the driving.
My hope for you this year is that you know how truly powerful you are, that you take the old, worn out, limited, disempowering ideas of who you are and let them burn, burn away. That you throw out all that no longer serves you and become a true, brave, empowered, badass soldier for you own amazing heart.
In Anne Lamott's book, "Bird by Bird" she uses the phrase: Be militantly on your own side. This is what I hope for me and for you, that we become militantly on our own sides. I don't thing there is anything more important than this.
With so much love,
Julia
PS: I have been in the process of re-visiting my art and have been re-vamping my online Etsy shop. Several people have recently asked about my little wooden plaques (that have my artwork on one side and my poetry on the other). Well, they're back in my shop (in a very limited amount right now). This is one of the offerings I am most proud of - I just love these little pieces of art/inspiration.
PPS: Amazingly (and excitedly!), I am down to just 7 signed copies of my book, "On the Other Side of Fear." At some point, I will be placing another order, but, for now, this is all that's left. If you have any interest in owning a copy for yourself (or giving it to someone you love), maybe one of the last 7 is yours? Click HERE to be taken to my little shop.

Holy Liberation

Holy Liberation
I will declare it out loud—decidedly,
mightily, quietly, steadily, with the kind of fire
that burns through all
but the truest things.
I will howl it to the wild, midnight
moon. I will say it silently
to the darkest part of night.
I
am
enough.
I will gather up the flame, the fury,
every fear and fallen warrior, the tiny, afraid,
trying-to-be-good girl
who kept getting knocked down
and forgot only her own legs
could lift her back up.
I will whisper to her in the night:
You are a warrior.
Look at how far you’ve come. You never
needed to be anything other.
I will tell her, over and over
again that I am ready to be, that I will forever
be her greatest believer. I will promise
her with my pinky.
With a fierceness
only liberation can muster, I will hush
each voice that makes me feel anything less
than beautiful.
I will declare, claim, reclaim
as many times as it take:
I
am
enough.
With a roar that quakes and shakes
the whole sleeping world awake,
I will stake my flag to the ground.
I will be a soldier for my own rising heart.
It will be the most epic
homecoming ever.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

No Such Thing As Other



No Such Thing As Other

It is a perfect evening for a walk. You
and the river by my side—trees,
birds, breath, sky
filling us with color and song.
As we walk by the old homeless
couple, sitting on the riverside
bench, the woman points to my sandals. With words
I almost can’t hear, she says—I like your shoes.
Her smile reveals only a handful
of teeth, tiny rotting apples just about
to fall. The old man doesn’t speak with words
but with a grin that splashes everything
warmer, lighter.
I want to know their story, want to know
how, even without beds or roofs or bank accounts
or titles or stylish new sandals,
they show us that come as you are
is the truest meaning of beautiful.
After we chat about the upcoming
weekend weather, she says,
Happy Mother’s Day. Words that feel
more like thank you and—
we’re in this together.
We walk away with bigger
hearts—doors swung open
to let the other in. Four people sharing
the same breath and sky, filled full
with something that feels like
the truest meaning of home.
I am still floating in their warmth, bowing
to every mile walked in their old,
tired shoes, thanking them for inviting us
to sit for a while by their fire—for reminding
us that there is no such thing
as other.
©Julia Fehrenbacher

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

My Heart Can't Contain It All



"I will not die an un-lived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit." ~Dawna Markova





I used to, on a very regular basis, share my writing here in this space. I openly shared about the beauty and difficulties of being a mom to two little girls, about fear and doubt and overwhelm and presence and courage and love. I had a few beautiful followers who read what I wrote. 

I wrote and shared here in this space for many years. And then, I mostly stopped sharing my writing here. 

This morning, I'm thinking about why I stopped and I think one of the reasons I stopped is that, even though I had been sharing for years, it started to feel too vulnerable. And I started developing this fear of appearing narcissistic or too this or too that. Fear of not being a "good enough" writer. I remember there was this mean, bully voice in my head that said, "It doesn't matter if you share your writing, no one cares anyway." And there was a comment by someone very close to me about how my writing made them nauseous. (Yes, that one hurt.) 

After listening to the most beautiful Rachel Macy Stafford share some vulnerable truths via her incredible online class "Soul Shift," I felt the nudge to re-visit this blog space. Under "favorite posts," I found the below words, words I wrote and shared back in 2012. As I read the below words, something in me stirred and a big, full love for myself rose up. A love for the woman who had the courage to keep using her voice, who kept putting herself out in the world, even when it appeared no one was reading, even when her hands shook each time she clicked "publish." 

I've decided I want to be more like the woman who kept showing up no matter what. I've decided there is nothing more painful than containing what is no longer containable. I've decided that this world is in deep and desperate need of people who show up with their whole, authentic, love-filled, flawed and beautiful, truth-telling selves.

So, today, in honor of her, I pulled these words out of hiding and will share them here again. Thank you for taking the time to read. 


If you haven't yet read the above words, please read them now. Very, very slowly. And then, maybe read them again. I have a word for the year (peace) & a motto (doing it differently). This quote, I think I'm claiming it as my very own for all the rest of my days. 

I will not die an un-lived life. 

I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. 

I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.

You know how sometimes you feel like your heart might burst? Like, the love that you feel in there is running out of space because there is so much of it and you can't possibly contain it all?

I feel that way right now.

For all who live and breathe. For all that is.

For the soft, purring cat and the old, old sweet dog who are curled up and snoring beside me. For my beautiful, one-of-a-kind, precious sleeping little girls. For the seagulls that squawked all around me this morning, especially the one who tucked his little orange beak into his tail feathers and so trustingly closed his eyes. For the shadows and rocks and feathers and broken shells I found in the sand today. For the deep, deep breaths of all that fresh salty sea air. For the tiny granules of sand between my toes. For those brave, strong, moss covered oaks that grow in my backyard. For the moon that glows golden outside my window. For the messages and synchronicities that come at exactly the right time. For these miracle fingers that tap and tap. For LIFE that is so very fragile and so very strong and so very, very precious. For wounds that heal and love that grows and grows and grows some more. For my husband, my family, who continue to love me no matter what. For prayers that get said and prayers that get answered. For dreams that get dreamed and dreams that come true. For our sun that continuously, tirelessly shines and warms and lights and creates and breathes life into us all. For this heart that beats and beats - so strong, so alive, so full, so overflowing.

For the precious, beautiful ones who sob and hurt, who hurt so deeply, who are afraid and doubt. Who don't know why. Who keep putting one foot in front of another despite, despite...so much.

I want to stand at the very tippy top of the world and shout and sing and whisper, and hold every single one of your hands and hearts in my own and gently, gently whisper...I LOVE YOU.

To the whole wide messy, beautiful, just right world, I want to say-

I LOVE YOU.

To you, beautiful heart.

And you.

And you.

And a bazillion other yous. I want to say-

I love you.

You are so beautiful.

You are so brave.

You are so absolutely, gloriously, perfectly, preciously, uniquely YOU.

There is not a single other like you. Please, please don't ever be any other way.

You are just right exactly the way you are. 

You are just right. You can relax. You can just be.

I love you.

Namaste. 

Namaste to the whole wide precious world,

Julia

"Selfie" taken on the Oregon coast on February 2, 2012


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

It Could Be





It Could Be
a smile or a poem. Or new day light
that finds you through open
window. Or, perhaps, remembering 
that tomorrow
was never promised
It could be the scent
of baking bread, the first chill
of autumn that has you reaching
for your favorite
wool sweater. Or maybe
it’s the noticing of how easily
red maple becomes
and lets go
It could be taking today off
to be still, to un-know, to notice —
to practice loosening
your troubled grip
because grace can never
be gripped or grabbed
It could be choosing
softness in a world grown hard
because you’re tired of hurting
and being hurt and mercy
is the best kind
of medicine
It could be an invitation to gather
around the listening table
where every color is beautiful, where
there is no blame,
no shame — no them
no other
It could be any of these things
or no thing at all
that remind you that, really,
only a few things matter — 
Food. Trees. Words. Love. Mostly love.


©Julia Fehrenbacher 
Image found on Pinterest






Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Breathing My Way Back





I am in the kitchen
peeling sweet potatoes, chopping
the onions she grew from her own 
rich soil, gently holding one avocado
after another until I find the one
that is the perfect age
of ripe. 
Hands are busy peeling
and chopping, while mind
skips wildly from one terror
to another — cars and houses drowning
in water, forests on fire, monster
winds that rip roofs off hearts
and homes. People running
from war
to more war.
Fingers painted in soft green
avocado now, feet stand
on the hickory floor, mind 
chasing
and trying
to outrun
the fires,
the floods
of too much.
Then
I remember —
to return. To breathe
my way back
to where the body
is. 
I remember that instead of scrolling
and chasing and running, I can
roll out the yoga mat, I can
bow to every tree
that has ever stood. I can
feed myself so I can be
one of the ones who helps
rather than hurts.
For now, though, I am still here
in the kitchen, peeling
sweet potatoes, chopping
onions, making a meal
so my family and I
can sit gratefully
around the table
and eat.


©Julia Fehrenbacher
Image found on Google images

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

This Thing In You




This Thing In You

will not take no for an answer.
This that somehow
shines strong
beneath the heavy hard hurry
of your conveniently
noisy life. This shapeless
something that shows up
everywhere –
even when you forget
to notice.
It does not
understand safe
or sensible, will not let you
get away with half
hearted, lifeless
lies.
It’s that wordless
something
that does not know how
to be quiet. It will continue knocking
until you throw open
the door. Until you become –
Ablaze. Awake. Madly in love.
The dazzling artist
of your own
wild life.

*Photograph by the amazing, Christa Gallopoulos 




Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rebel with a Cause


















Bombs blame belittling bullying 
won't get us anywhere but further 
apart
more divided
separate
split
puffed up and scared
more full of mean. We teach our children 
to be kind, accepting, humble - 
to be fair, to share, yet 
our wannabe leaders are throwing sticks 
and hate.
Hello world
are you listening? Would you 
join me in being a rebel? A rebel 
whose only cause is to soften, to open
to inch closer to one another, to reach across
miles, masks, colors, borders, labels, parties
to see the other, despite - despite 
everything.
Our world is begging us 
to rebel against hate, to set down 
the sticks and run toward 
love - to vote for the only cause
that will save us


*Photo found on Pinterest

Monday, November 23, 2015

GIVEAWAY !


UPDATE:   The winners of my B R E A T H E giveaway are Beeara Edmonds and Judith (who left a comment below). Thank you so much for playing along, everyone. Judith, I will add you to my BREATHE list - you will get a welcome email/video shortly and will get week 1 in your inbox this Sunday. Judith, could you please send me your email? My email address is juliafeh@yahoo.com or, you can just share it in the comments here (if you're comfortable with that). Love to you all. xoxo


"Julia’s soul-nourishing, gorgeous new offering, BREATHE, is a gift for YOU. It is a gift of self-care, a deep breath, a warm hug, a reminder that you are so worthy of love." Jenna Whittaker





I wanted to let you all know that I'm doing a giveaway for my new online program "B R E A T H E: A deep breath for your spirit." 

B R E A T H E is an eleven week, (self-directed), deep breathing, creative recovery retreat for your spirit. Each week, for 11 consecutive weeks, you will receive a poem of mine, a writing prompt and a simple invitation to "Dive deep. Be brave." This program is all about mindfulness, slowing down - finding the holy right where you are.


"B R E A T H E, to me, is a life-giving combination of fullness and wide open space. It is the gift of simply being still, of embracing just where I am, without a need to DO anything but simply *be*. It's an offering of Julia's poetry that speaks to deep places, an outpouring of her wisdom that reminds me over and again that who I am is beautiful and lovable and *enough*, and her invitation to let those words live out in an active expression that daily reminds me of truth and light. Julia's BREATHE prompts the most grace-filled opening to write... through a doorway held lovingly open for my soul to dive deep, and be held." -  Robin Oesterwind



I will enter all who leave a comment below - (either letting me know what your favorite poem of mine is or you can leave some words about why you feel called to BREATHE, or if all of that sounds like too much, just leave a heart or a word of your choice). And please, if you know of anyone who could benefit from a deep breath right now (just on time for the holiday season), consider sharing this post so they can enter themselves for the giveaway. If you're already signed up for this program, consider entering anyway (with the idea of gifting this to someone) will choose 2 winners (randomly) on Thanksgiving day (and will announce them here, as well as on my Facebook page).

To read more about B R E A T H E, click H E R E.


Sending so much love,

Julia


PS: My new poem "RISE UP" has been published over on The Huffington Post...click HERE to be taken to that page









Wednesday, November 18, 2015

RISE UP




You think you don’t have anything 
to say, that it’s been said before
that it doesn’t matter, that you’ll get mocked 
or ridiculed, that someone won’t like it - that it 
is not good enough. That you 
are not good enough. You think 
you’re too young, too old, too tired,
too broken. You hide 
scared-silent behind 
your too much, your not enough. 

You let littleness win. 

Meanwhile - another war 
on something begins. Bombs 
explode. A child loses her mother 
a mother loses her child. Teachers hide 
children in closets to save their lives. Killers kill
in the name of “God,” in the name of mine
in the name of not enough. Division 
division division.

Mommy, I don’t understand

I thought God meant love
in every language
in every religion

Blood soaked shirts
the searing burn
of judgment. 
So.much.judgment.

Dear Child, 

Listen. Rise from the tight walls of your troubled thinking. 

Take your message of love, 
of gentleness, of unity, and, please -
please speak it. 
Write it, paint it, dance it
sing it. Look up and smile 

when another walks by. Toss love
around with wild abandon. Listen 
to trees, sky, the tomatoes that grow ripe 
and red and brave and beautiful 
out of the burn pile. Rise up.

Stop letting littleness win.

That nod of gentleness, of - 
I.see.you. 
could mean everything. It could 
mean one less bomb, one less 
war, one less mother 
or child or country 
on their knees.

Dear Child,

Put your weapons down. 
Love fiercely. 
Rise up - please.

Everything 
depends on it.



*   ©Julia Fehrenbacher
*  Photography by Christa Gallopoulos











Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Story I Just Have to Share



Dear you,

I have a story that I just have to share with you. 

A couple months ago, right after my girls went back to school, after a very full, nonstop-busy (but mostly very good) summer, I was home in the middle of the day cleaning. Scrubbing toilets and sinks, vacuuming dust balls off the long-neglected wood floors. Washing and folding and washing and folding. After hours of what felt like the worst kind of grind, I started feeling completely depleted/frustrated/angry at someone I couldn't identify. Actually, truthfully - after hours of this, I put my entire life up for question. Doubt crept in a little bit at a time. What started as thoughts like: 

What the hell am I doing in the middle of the day on a Tuesday cleaning?

Quickly went to:

What the hell am I doing with my life? I have nothing going for me. I'm a loser.

You know, the typical stuff the mind loves to throw at us when we're on the ground and when we give it permission to run free and wild.  Minds are so not unique in the way that they love to throw shit at us.

After a little while of thinking these kinds of thoughts, I became so heavy in my body, I could hardly move. But I knew I had to move. That very-hard-to-hear voice inside me was insistently whispering: 

Go for a walk. Go for a walk. Get outside and breathe.


So, quickly - before I ended up paralyzed on the couch for the day, I grabbed some water, my good walking shoes, my good dog, and my heavy-with-blah self, and heading out the door to my favorite forested walking spot.

Once in the woods, I started saying urgent prayers. Prayers that went something like this:

Please, please guide me, show me the way, show me how to serve. Use me. Show me that my being here has purpose. 

Since there was no one anywhere near me, I said these prayers out loud to the trees, to the cushion of pine needles beneath my feet, to the big sky above me, to the oblivious-to-my-pain singing birds. 

After a few minutes of this, my cell phone, which was in my back pocket, made its little chiming sound (indicating an email). I don't always check email in the middle of the forest (usually I make a point not to do this) but, in this moment, I knew I needed to. As I stood there with all that beauty around me, all the heavy-questioning inside me, this is what I read:



*               *               *


Dear Julia,

I wanted to let you know that I have been reading every poem on your blog and each one has moved me deeply.

I'm a rabbi in the midst of preparing for the Jewish New Year, a time of deep reflection and transformation, and I am always looking for poetry to open up the hearts of those who come to my services, as well as my own. My favorites have been Hafiz, Mary Oliver, Kim Rosen, David Whyte, etc. This year I may be using your poetry exclusively, with your permission. 

I want to thank you for being so bold and generous and vulnerable. It is truly an inspiration--a deep and healing breath for the spirit.

I hope our paths cross someday.

In gratitude,

Arik

(Shared with permission from this beautiful man)


*               *               *


Seriously? 

I stood there reading and breathing, almost-not-believing what I was reading - saying thank you over and over again - to the trees, to the sky, to the oblivious singing birds - thinking:  

Really - does God/Source really respond this quickly? 

Apparently.

I felt like something hit me over the head (in a really beautiful way) - something that wasn't going to let me stand there in my self-doubt bullshit lies for a second longer. It was one of those moments that felt like all the lights got turned back on and I could see with total clarity that there wasn't a problem. That all I need to do, ever, is show up as me in the fullest, most love-filled way I know how. 

In that moment I could see with such clarity that my self-absorbed, self-attacking doubt wasn't serving anyone (least of all me). In an instant, I was washed clean and a deep faith in Grace, in life, was restored. I could feel my own Light and breath again. 

This isn't to say that I don't keep forgetting, but I have this beautiful moment to go back to, this moment where I could see with crystal clarity that Grace/Love is REAL. 

And once something has been Seen, it can't be unseen. 

I wanted to share this story with you, because I want this message, this beauty, to reach you too. I want you to know that beneath the layers of doubt and insecurity and tired and perfectionism and scars and bruises and shoulds and self-bashing and your thinking you need to prove your worth - there is this great, grace-soaked Light. 

Pure light that is always right there, right here, waiting for you to open your eyes. 

I send you so much love today,

Julia


PS:  If you haven't already heard, I have created a new 11 week, self-paced online program called B R E A T H E. I've got many beautiful ones who have already signed up. If you feel like you could use a deep breath, a splash of poetry and writing and art-making, click H E R E  to read more about it. It's open enrollment so you can sign up anytime. This is an offering straight from my heart - I would so love to have you along.