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

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

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lightening Up

"Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are."
~Chinese Proverb~

Photo by Lauraeleven11

Since I wrote this post last week, I've really been noticing what feels heavy in my life/in my head/in my home/in my heart.  I decided to dump all of this heaviness on to paper, in the form of a list.  It turned out to be a very long list, ranging from things that are bugging/irritating me, like the dirty car & the disorganized closets, to bigger things that have been weighing on me for decades; like this nagging, urgent feeling of needing to figure out what my "calling" is.  It felt like relief to get all of the heavy thoughts/shoulds/fears out of my head, on to paper.  

And then I started "tackling" some of those things.  I started with the dirty car.  As soon as I got the vacuum & Armor All out, I felt some relief.  And, while cleaning my car, I kept thinking about how much easier it was to actually clean the car than to think about cleaning the car.   I then made a phone call that I had been putting off for weeks. Again, much easier to do than to feel the burden of not doing.  

Notes/reminders to Self...

*If it's heavy & weighing on me, bring it to the light and ask:  what can I do about this?  Often, just writing it down or getting rid of it (clutter) or finally doing it, frees up all kinds of space in my jumbled up mind and opens up space for the fresh & new

*If I don't yet know what to do about it, I can turn it over/let it go/surrender it to a power greater than little me...there is so much relief that comes when I stop trying to figure it out with the perspective of my little-ant mind.  Often as soon as I let go of the trying, all kinds of clarity/inspiration rushes in, all on its very own

*The anxiety pretty much always comes when I start thinking I should be somewhere other than where I am or that things should be different than what they are.  Or I should be different from who I am.  When I return to a place of gratitude & trust that all is exactly as it should be, relief/release comes

*Love for self comes first.  When I feel drained/depleted/anxious/weighted down, I must fill my own well first. It is from this place of fullness that I will give the best of me to others

*One thing at a time.  Breathe.  Open.  Listen.  Stop pushing.  I can always handle what's right in front of's when my mind takes off in to the future or skips back to the past that things get overwhelming & shaky.  Just come back to RIGHT NOW.  All is well here.

So, I'm feeling a bit lighter...still plenty of shedding to go but one thing at a time.  

How about you?  Is there anything that you're gripping on to? Anything you're wanting to let go of?  I'd love it if you shared here--getting it out feels so good.  Consider it the first step in lightening the load/releasing/letting go.  Even the trees are doing it.

P.S:  I will be absent for a guy & I are taking off, heading all the way to the east coast for a wedding.   I'll be back in a week or so.  


Friday, September 23, 2011

Keep the Channel Open

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening
that is translated through you into action
And because there is only one of you in all time this expression is unique.
If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium
and be lost.
The world will not hear it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is;
Nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly,
to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.
Keep the channel open.
- Martha Graham  (As found here, thank you, Grace)

Can we just take a minute to let these words sink all the way in?

There is only one of you in all time.

If you block your unique expression, it will be lost.
It is not your business to determine how good it is.
It is your business to KEEP IT YOURS.

Keep it yours.

Happy Friday, 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Getting Comfortable with Discomfort

"Many of us feel uncomfortable revealing to others-and even to ourselves-what lies beneath the surface of our day-to-day consciousness.  We get out of bed in the morning and begin again where we left of yesterday, attacking life as if we were waging a campaign of control and survival.  All the while, deep within us, flows an endless river of pure energy.  In sings a low and rich song that hints of joy and liberation and peace.  Up on top, as we make our way through life, we may sense the presence of the river.  We may feel a subtle longing to connect with it.  But we are usually moving too fast, or we are distracted, or we fear disturbing the status quo of our surface thoughts and feelings.  It can be unsettling to dip below the familiar and descend into the more mysterious realms of the soul."  Elizabeth Lesser  (From her amazing book Broken Open)

Photographer unknown

In Elizabeth Lesser's book Broken Open, she refers to the willingness to stay awake through times of suffering and loss--to allow ourselves to be broken open and transformed rather than shrinking away in defeat, as the Phoenix Process.  

She says:

Each of us, regardless of our situation, is looking for the same treasure in the ashes.  We are in search of our most authentic, vital, generous, and wise self.  What stands between that self and us is what burns in the fire.  Our illusions, our rigidity, our fear, our blame, our lack of faith, and our sense of separation:  All of these-in varying strengths and combinations-are what must die in order for a more true self to rise.  If we want to turn a painful event into a Phoenix Process, we must name what needs to burn within us.

It is clear to me right now that there are some old, tired things within me that must die in order for me to step forward into my "most authentic, vital, generous and wise self."  

It is clear that there are many treasures to find in this place of tenderness.  

It is clear to me that I do not want to wage a campaign of control and survival.  It is joy and liberation and peace that I am fiercely committed to

It is clear that when we reach out with love and caring, when we share our stories and deepest truths, the cracks where love can get in grow wider & more open.  To each of you who have taken the time to reach out with such sweetness & love, thank you
I received an email this morning from a dear fellow blogger and new friend.  What she said below resonates so deeply:
My counselor told me to think of depression and anxiety as a fire that burns up all the bad, painful, toxic stuff in order for us to get connected in to the true and whole and beautiful stuff of our Selves.

So.  Here's to naming what needs to burn within us. (I plan on making a list of all that's toxic and un-serving and letting it burn, burn away!)  Here's to finding the treasures in the ashes.  Here's to letting go of all that no longer serves us and stepping into our most authentic, liberated, utterly unique Selves.

I'm so damn ready.  You?


Monday, September 19, 2011

Shaky Ground

"Reaching our limit is not some kind of punishment.  It's actually a sign of health that, when we meet the place where we are about to die, we feel fear and trembling.  A further sign of health is that we don't become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it's time to stop struggling and look directly at what's threatening us.  Things like disappointment and anxiety are messengers telling us that we're about to go into unknown territory."  Pema Chödrön

 Photo by Kevin Moul    Taos, New Mexico

It seems that six hours would be a long enough period of time to get a blog post written.  But, apparently not.  Apparently when the mind decides to edge its way in to every cell of your being, no amount of time is enough.  

This has been one of those days where I've started several posts, written a few sentences, deleted those sentences, opened up a page, thinking I was going to write about one thing, then decided that that really wasn't what I wanted to write about, then opened up a new page, wrote a few sentences, then decided I didn't want to write about that either.  I've thought about skipping this post altogether. I've thought about writing a post about how this is going to be my last post, for like, forever. 

My mind is tossing me so far out and back and out again, I literally feel dizzy. I've pretty much reached my limit with it, in fact. Apparently, according to Pema, reaching our limit is actually a good thing. Which is why, whenever I feel the ground quaking beneath me (which seems to be often), I fumble around for her book When Things Fall Apart.  I love how simply she puts everything, how real she is about what's real.  I love how she reminds me to be with whatever is rather than trying to bolt.  

Every bit of my being has wanted to bolt lately.  It's the human way, I guess, to want to escape discomfort rather than lean in and listen to what it has to say.  When the mind begins it's crazy-thinking, telling me all the ways I'm failing, all the ways I'm not enough, all the ways I just don't have what it takes, it's painful to stay & listen.  But it's more painful to continue to bolt, because even though I may temporarily escape the pain, it will come back again and again.  And again.

So, here I am, attempting not to struggle, attempting to lean in and listen.  Unknown territory, here I am again.  

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Red Tent

This made me cry.

I want
to talk about
things we don't talk about.

I want 
to create 
a red tent.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Introducing THE ZENDO

"Remember, the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you." ~Rumi

artwork by Lori Portka

Dear readers,

I haven't yet formally introduced you to "The Zendo" and it seems today is the day to do that. Yesterday, when I was having a particularly anxiety-ridden, flailing-kind-of-moment, I remembered The Zendo.  After listening to some of the meditations/prayers there, I felt things begin to shift--I began to settle in and breathe a little fuller. I began to reconnect with that deeper, knowing part.

My hope is that you will visit this space when you're feeling alone/anxious/doubtful, etc...or just want to feel more centered/grounded/connected.  My hope is that it will be a place that will help you remember who you really are & what is truly important, a sanctuary for your spirit, a place that will nudge you back to your sweet, just right insides.  

I will leave you with a prayer (written by Debbie Ford) that I find so soothing (it has a home in The Zendo-click at the top of the home page-so you can find it whenever you want to)...

Let all those who guide me support me in peeling away 
whatever it is that keeps me blind to what's possible,
that keeps me hidden from my greatness, 
that keeps me separate from my loved ones
today i ask you to lighten my heart, to lift my burdens,
my worries, my fears, my anxieties, my grief
so that I may know and cherish all that I am
I see it, I feel it, I acknowledge it right now
and so I know it is
And a short guided prayer...(also by  Debbie Ford))

Release Me

May your day be filled with release, gentleness & love.
May you remember your greatness.
May you cherish all that you so beautifully are.
May you be aware of the blessings that surround.
May your remember what Rumi knew...that the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.

With great love,


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Messy Wild Beauty of it All

Turn on the f*cking faucet!  Tell the truth, stop trying to make everything perfect, stop trimming and editing for what you think other people want to hear. Just let it out, let it be messy, let it be real.   Andrea Scher (from this amazing interview with Brene Brown)
Self-portrait by Andrea Scher

I'm so totally inspired by the above words, written by Andrea Scher, I had to come here and share.

More than just about anything, I want to show up real and true.  I don't want to edit out the mess of my life. I don't want to delete the details that show you my full-of-flaws humanness.

I want to tell you how, just a couple of days ago, I was sobbing in my kitchen--feeling betrayed by my body for not being willing to lose a single ounce and simultaneously feeling guilty for not appreciating it for all it does for me.  I want to tell you how sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed with the task of being a mom and a wife--of being human and having 5 bazillion choices to make every day.  I want to tell you how overwhelmingly intense it can be to feel something huge and beautiful calling me but not really knowing where it's calling me--how sometimes it feels like a massive semi-truck of anxiety has come to rest on my chest.

I don't have it all together.  Often I don't have any of it together--whatever "together" even means.

But I know there is great beauty in the messiness.  And when I share my real with you, I can see that beauty more clearly.  

Here's to turning on the f*cking faucet!  Here's to sharing the mysterious, messy, wild beauty of it all.

Hallelujah.  Amen.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Everybody wants to rush through transition like it’s a bad root canal. But transition is a threshold. It’s a sacred appointment—the crossing from one world to another. There are promises, insights, revelations, and messages during this time. You will not escape yourself here. You will not escape your deepest questions. This is a blessing.  Tama Kieves

So, I'm giggling a bit here.  I realized, after I posted my last post, and after a few comments came in, that my words could have easily been misinterpreted .  When I wrote

a whole new chapter of my life is beginning and I can't wait to come here and tell you about it

I was referring to this being the first year my little ones will both be in school full time and the reality that this is going to open up time & creative opportunities.  I have hints of what is to come, but truly, it's all pretty much a great big mystery to me.  I know this means I will have time to work on one of my dreams (which is to publish a book of my poetry & art) and that I will now have more than a couple of hours a day to explore the many ideas/sparks of inspiration that have come to me over the years.  And I am eager to share this whole new chapter with all of you...the ups and downs, the fears/questions/unknowns & sideways-ness of all of it.  

So, I apologize if you were all waiting for some specific kind of news--it's just a moment by moment, mysterious unfolding here!

And, having said all of that, I have to say, these big unknowns are feeling a little daunting right now.  With all the summertime activity/busyness, I have taken little time to turn inward, which has left a little too much space for my mind to run a little too freely.  My mind  Fear keeps insisting that I must lock in a schedule for my days so that I'm sure not to "waste" a moment of this precious time.  It's also telling me that in order to "justify" this time to myself, I really "need" to "figure out" how I'm going to make money.  All of this pushy-ness is leaving me feeling anxious & afraid & shallow- breathed.   

And my mind is having a field day with the (literal)  extra weight that my body is carrying around...telling me I must figure out how to lose this--that it's absolutely not okay to have this many extra pounds on my body.  

So, the truth is...all of this shit talk from my mind has left me feeling a little  a lot weary.  And very ready to re-center, turn my attention inward, let go of anything that is causing me to feel constricted and anxious.  Ask for guidance.  Say thank you for all that is good and right in my world.

I know there are insights & messages for me here in this place of transition.  I know that the fear that weighs heavily on my chest is there to wake me up.  The tendency is to try and escape discomfort, to run like hell from it.  But I know that in the questions and unknowns, there is great richness.  I know that I can allow all of these tender places inside of me to be, I can sit with & listen to the tenderness rather than cover it up with hardness and to do lists. 

So, I begin here--from right where I am--sitting with discomfort, breathing deeply, ready to listen for what's next.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A 3:30 AM Blurb

"The most sacred place dwells within our heart, where dreams are born and secrets sleep, a mystical refuge of darkness and light, fear and conquest, adventure and discovery, challenge and transformation. Our heart speaks for our soul every moment while we are alive. Listen... as the whispering beat repeats: be...gin, be...gin, be...gin. It's really that simple. Just begin... again."
Royce Addington 

Art by Lori Portka

I'm here at 3:39 AM reeling with all-over-the-place emotions.  My insides our jumping around with eagerness to share with you.  As good and full as these last several months have been, I've missed this space. I've missed all of you. I've missed that part of me that sits quietly, the part of me that paints and writes and shares and has deep and real conversations.  So, here I am, in the wee hours of a new morning, stumbling around, beginning again.

A whole new chapter of my life is beginning and I can't wait to come here and tell you about all of it.

For now, I think I'll put myself back to bed.  It's always good to start a new chapter well-rested.  Or maybe not--I don't know.  I just know that I'm ready for what's here.  And for what's next on this painted path.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Upstream or Downstream?

Photographer unknown

Good morning, beautiful readers,

I'm still here.  

My parents are still visiting from Vermont (until Thursday) & I'm very much enjoying being in the moment with them (which has required letting go of much of what I normally do).  I haven't spend this much "unplugged" time in years--it's actually been a refreshing break but I'm very much looking forward to coming back and reconnecting with all of you.

Today we head to the coast to breathe in some of the beautiful fresh ocean air & cooler temperatures (it's been in the 90s here!)...looking forward to soaking in the last of this summer.

I want to share the below video with you. so much sweet release here.  I'll be back soon with more Hood to Coast sharing....sending love to each of you.

Thank you for being here with me.

♥  Julia