How much joy are you willing to feel?

One morning back in May I was having breakfast in Spain (because my husband and I are moving there...surprise! I was waiting to write about it to my email list because the timing was -still is- not definite.  But there you have it, folks! More on this soon...) Like I was saying, I was having breakfast, journaling and listening to some tunes when the Imogen Heap song “Can’t Take It In”  from The Chronicles of Narnia soundtrack cycled through the playlist. 


“Empty my heart

I’ve got to make room for this feeling

That’s so much bigger than me.


It couldn’t be any more beautiful

I can’t take it in.”



It’s so whimsical and lovely and it resonated with me as I sipped my Nescafe and feasted on an array of gluten free items that my pals at the hotel restaurant had grown accustomed to bringing me. (I mean, we were there for 10 days. I promised to visit upon our return.)


I realized something about this exciting move, one that high-school-Spanish-class Kate only dreamed of:  I needed to make room for the feeling. It was almost as if at times I couldn’t take it in. 



I started to ponder my tolerance for good feelings.



I thought about the times when I’m writing and feel like an idea is really clicking.  I can feel I’m about to write something that resonates with me…



And then I get up and walk away.



I go refill my coffee. Or start laundry. Or, or or...



I will literally sit back down to my journal to the phrase “but the MOST important thing is..” and the sentence just drops off.



It’s like I can’t take it in.



I thought about other “big” life events or creative projects I’ve poured my heart into that I’ve downplayed.  What is that?


When I was first introduced to the idea of being afraid of success or other positive emotions I thought it sounded absurd. Of course I want to be successful/happy/wealthy/joyful/connected …right?



In the book The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks posits that we all have an upper limit for the amount of happiness, joy, success, wealth, love etc. we are willing to feel and experience.  He goes as far as to say that we will self sabotage if something in our life starts to push us beyond where our thermostat for said emotion was previously set. We will make ourselves physically sick, make excuses, pick fights with loved ones - a whole host of irrational things -  just to stay in that comfort zone and in control. 



 I’ve become more aware of the times when I “upper limit” myself, when I’m in the flow of something beautiful in life then I inexplicably get out of the water, or worse, start drowning in my own self-constructed shame/doubt/fear cycle.  I’ve become more conscious of the false narratives that cause me to play small like the fear of outshining or making others uncomfortable, or the “you aren’t worthy of that” bull honky.  I’m trying to check my “why is this happening again?” at the door and recognize that discomfort is often a part of growth: lean in, boo. 


Most importantly, I’m trying to expand my tolerance for joy by feeling the feeling fully.  


Radical, huh?  


This past weekend I had the joy of collaborating with a number of insanely talented artists to bring to life a demo recording of my musical, “Will You?”   The experience ended a few days ago and I’m still trying to take it in. 


Last night I was sitting at my dining room table - the same spot where I completed writing said musical only 7 months ago -  when Shawn, my brilliant composing partner, sent a demo of one of the songs we recorded. I listened. I listened again.  I listened with Richie when he got home from work. Then I listened in my car on the way to the store to get a bottle of wine, and when I pulled back into my driveway the track still wasn’t over (it’s a long one).  So I sat in my car listening (and crying).



Truth be told: I’ve got to make room for this feeling.   It’s so much bigger than me. It couldn’t be any more beautiful.  I can’t take it in. 



But I’m working on it. 





I am overcome with appreciation and wonder for the artists who transform the iphone voice memo melodies and the words on the page into something beautiful.

I CAN’T WAIT TO SHARE MORE WITH ALL OF YOU VERY SOON. 

In the next few weeks we will have the project landing page live. Stay tuned…

Until then, let’s let the joy in...

How good are you willing to let life get?  



A New Promise I Made to Myself + Some of My Favorites

I’ve been posting stuff to my little corner of the interweb for 10+ years now in some form or fashion. I know the feeling of sending something you put your heart into out into the void...echo, echo, echooooo.


It is my intention to create work without fear of criticism or need for praise, work that is honest and authentic…so I am going to be honest now: Appreciation still feels good. I love when someone writes me back to say “Me too!” or, “That reminds me of this resource” or, “I never thought about it that way,” or...thank you.   


I made a decision recently:  I will make a conscious effort to tell people “thank you” when their work impacts my life. Whether they offer me inspiration via an email newsletter, a thoughtful conversation on a podcast or a feeling of “you’re not alone” from the page of their book.  I will send them a message via e-mail or whatever channel is available to me WITHOUT expectation there will be a reply because I recognize that they’re showing up in the world with their precious time to share their gifts. If they don’t reply it’s not that they are rude, it’s that they are busy living their purpose. Rock on. Plus the main purpose is an expression of appreciation.

(But guess what?  Often I do get a reply and the connection is pretty cool too. To connect with someone whose work you admire is a special thing I think.)


Point is, since we are so inundated by messaging, sometimes we forget there is a human and a heart behind the work we experience.


Another way of showing appreciation for work that you love is by sharing it.  Because sharing is caring.  In this spirit I’m going to share with my community here - that’s you! - a few of my favorites: Podcasts, Poets, & Authors.

PODCASTS

Off Camera with Sam Jones

I have a lot of shows in and out of rotation, but this one is a mainstay. Not only do I love the origin stories of creatives and their work, but also, I think Sam Jones is a very gracious interviewer, who asks well-thought-out questions and listens empathetically.  Catch some of your favorite actors, directors and creators on the podcast or the video version which is available on Direct TV.

Super Soul Conversations

The podcast version of Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday” TV show where she talks with spiritual teachers, thought leaders and best-selling authors. Not much to say here except I never miss an episode. Rich and I have even integrated O’s enthusiastic “TWEET, TWEET!” into our lexicon when there’s something really good in a conversation…even though neither of us are on Twitter any more.

36 Questions

I’m all about people testing out new frontiers in an existing medium.  The guys at Two Up Productions did just that with this original musical podcast that explores when “a couple attempts to bring their marriage back from the brink of divorce using 36 revealing questions designed to make strangers fall in love.” It’s a quirky and lovable story with beautiful and catchy original tunes by Ellen Winter and Chris Littler . It stars Jonathan Groff (“Hamilton,” “Frozen”) and Jessie Shelton (“Hadestown”). A high quality original musical from the comfort of your commute or morning walk?  What a great idea… {wink, wink}

POETS & SOUL SEEKERS

I am convinced these two are genuine light carriers.  Every.single.post they share on Instagram speaks to my core.  High praise and gratitude for these beautiful souls and truth tellers:

Morgan Harper Nichols

(+ And she just opened a shop!)

Young Pueblo

(His book Inward was 1 of 4 things on my Christmas list)


AUTHORS & INSPIRATION-GIVERS

Kobi Yamada

As the President of Compendium, Kobi and his team have produced many lovely, inspiring products over the years. I definitely owned a journal or two before I even learned of the favorite books I’m sharing here: “She” and the “What do you do with…” series. I can’t count the number of times I’ve given these books as gifts!

Also! My friend T gifted me these Compendium “Pop-Open” cards that have different quotes on the inside. Last year I decided to keep a stash in my wallet so that I’d remember to give them away. I left them on the desk for co-workers or passed them across the counter to cashiers at checkout. (I even had one barista reach across the counter and hug me! My mood completely shifted and lifted after that experience and I’m certain that whatever work I was there to get done was all the better for the new energy I brought to it.) This practice turned routine encounters into opportunities for light and connection. I’m going to restock my wallet now…

Brené Brown

Lastly, there’s this little-known person.  (I’m fairly certain 97.7% of you already know her, but consider this a gentle urging to watch her new Netflix special.) This woman keeps. getting. better.

Writing a thank you message is great, but next level is when you get to say thanks in person. Six years ago when I worked at Harpo Studios, Brené came to the studio to film Super Soul Sunday (see above for the podcast version.) I got in to work very early so I could watch the taping at my desk monitor. I basically typed notes for an hour! My sweet co-worker knew I was a super fan so she sneaked me down to the green room. I walked in, said “Hi!”…and then promptly started crying. (I guess that’s when you know someone’s work has really touched you!?) She couldn’t have been more gracious. (I have another fun story about this meeting I’ve never told, but that’s a whole over post for another day...)

They say that when you find where your talents intersect with the needs of the world then you’re in the sweet spot. In that venn diagram I think Brené is squarely in the center and I (like millions of others) am so grateful she has started and changed so many conversations for us. Find her books here.

One final note: I think expressing appreciation is a beautiful thing, but I am in total alignment with our girl Brené when it comes to criticism.  She says “if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback..” By the “arena” she’s referring to a Teddy Roosevelt  quote and inspiration behind her book Daring Greatly:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”




Spring Cleaning for your Mind

Recently I was in the back end of Mailchimp (the program I use to send out my newsletters) scanning the list of e-mails I’ve sent over the past year.  Next to each message there's a percentage that tells me the number of people who have opened it based on the total number of people on my list. Here’s what I discovered:

The cryptic “Decision” was the most opened. “Naked” was the  runner up (you guyyyyysss), followed by a more surprising “An Ode to Clean Closets & Minds.”


What started out as a silly poem I jotted in my journal without any intention of sharing has also been the source of my second most saved pin on Pinterest (Hey!  I’m on Pinterest. You can follow my boards here.) No doubt the Marie Kondo revolution and minimalism movement has influenced its popularity.


That same day I was in the back end of Squarespace (my website platform) browsing through some old blog posts that are no longer live online.

Admittedly, sometimes I’m embarrassed by things I’ve created in the past — but hey, we all have to start somewhere,right? Other times though, I’m struck by the truth and wisdom of my former self.

I found a post from 2015 called “Spring Cleaning” and I wanted to share an excerpt with you. (After reading it you may wonder, “Will she still be writing about closets in another 4 years?”  Dear reader, it is possible…)


Weeding out negative thoughts and limiting beliefs is fascinating to me because often times, I don’t realize I am holding on to them in the first place.  My subconscious mind, no matter how often I clear it out, always attracts back old patterns like tchotchkes to a junk drawer. In my recent years I have been on a clutter-free crusade, waging many wars against junk drawers.  But I know that I still have to be vigilant not to let unnecessary items collect in unseen spaces. The same goes for my thoughts.

Once I have a clear mind, I take an inventory of my desires – things I want to do, have, become, experience.  I am a dreamer, always have been, always will be. The beauty of what “could be” is a safe space for me. Yet after a while, when the dreams remain just “could be’s” without a tie to action or an outlet for realization, they become a weight.   There is a lyric in the new song “Homegrown” by the Zac Brown Band that goes: “It’s the weight that you carry from the things you think you want.” (Emphasis added).

Holding on to externally imposed, outdated or inauthentic dreams can be heavy. I am all for dreaming big – HUGE – so long as those dreams come from my core.  This step is difficult because I am clearing out “good” things.  Unlike negative thoughts that take up space, desires such as learning a language or starting a business aren’t “bad,” but they may be getting in the way of what I truly want.

Sometimes it takes time for me to let go of a long-held desire.  I may have emotional attachments to it. For example, I might think “but it’s something I always wanted to do.”  It’s still there because it’s always been there. It’s like that old shirt that was once my favorite. I think to myself, “I made some great memories in this shirt.”  But when I really stop to think, “Will I ever wear this again?” The answer is “no.” Once I get rid of the things I’m not wearing, it almost feels like I have a brand new closet, when in actuality, I have less.  I just don’t have to shuffle through the excess any more.

Arianna Huffington calls it a “life audit.”  In a conversation with Oprah, she said she realized how liberating it is to “complete a project by dropping it.”  She said admitting that she was never going to be a good skier, or learn German or be a good cook (these were all projects on her “list”) allowed her the ability to focus on the things that she was really going to put her energy into, the things that really mattered to her.

What really matters to you?  Do you have enough space in your life for that desire to grow?


Making friends with fear & butterflies

Last week I hosted a table read for two of my scripts. It was part terrifying and part thrilling. It was thrillifying.

I gathered 10 talented people in a room with with some snacks, wine, and the intention of gaining feedback and having fun.  

What is so terrifying about that, you ask?

When I prepared to email local actors to ask them to participate, I felt the fear rising.  

So I asked myself: What’s the worst that could happen? Here’s what I came up with:

  1. People tell me “No.”  “Nope, I don’t want nothin’ to do with your stinkin’ table read.”

  2. They show up but then laugh me out of the room (and not because they think my jokes are funny.)

  3. They whisper behind my back (which I of course overhear),“She should consider another trade. Perhaps knitting?”

Those silly scenarios would feel no bueno, but they aren't the worst I came up with...

4. The scripts sit on my computer for another year as I wonder in quiet desperation “Are these any good?”

Whew. You want to light a fire under my tail? Warn me against quiet desperation.  As the great Maya Angelou said: “There is not greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”

To my great surprise and delight, the majority of people I invited said “Yes, I’d love to!” The few that couldn’t make it had scheduling conflicts.


Even with the great response rate, truthfully, I had no idea how the scripts would land.  But guess what? They resonated and the energy in the room was magic. The people who showed up showed up and they brought their talent and their big hearts with them, elevating the work beyond my expectations.


I had nervous butterflies for a couple of days leading up to the read.  But thinking about that feeling calls to mind this lovely quote from Rob Bell’s book “How to Be Here:”


“Nerves are God’s gift to you, reminding you that your life is not passing you by.  Make friends with the butterflies. Welcome them when they come in, revel in them, enjoy them, and if they go away, do whatever it takes to put yourself in a position where they return.”

Now let’s go make friends with some butterflies.


JK...

This isn’t a belated April Fools’ attempt. I’m not even talking jokes, I’m talking about the author and a bit of wisdom she offered me last week.

In short, last week I didn’t feel well physically, emotionally or mentally.  I’m not going to delve into specifics. But upon reflection and through some good conversations, I’ve got lots of thoughts to share on balance, self compassion, friendship and much more, but for today I want to talk about the benefit of the “low times.”


Long before I read the Harry Potter books (which I read for the first time last year), I was a big fan of J.K. Rowling’s commencement speech to Harvard in 2008.


Somehow last week I found myself down the YouTube rabbit hole which led me back to Rowling’s interview with Oprah where a clip from her commencement speech is included: [emphasis added]


“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because it meant a stripping away of the inessential.  I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that really mattered to me.

I was set free.  Because my greatest fear had been realized and I was still alive and I still had a daughter whom I adored and I had an old typewriter and a big idea.  And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.”


I can recall other low points in my life when these words have given me hope: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” I thought: If she could turn her ashes into such beauty, why can’t I?  

To give some context, Rowling was a newly divorced single mother who was as poor as you could get without being homeless while also grieving the death of her own beloved mother. Her story definitely gives me perspective.  Not to get into “comparative suffering” - I once heard Brene Brown say something to the effect that we shouldn’t compare our suffering to others or use it as a way not to feel our own. That might sound like “Well, so-and-so is going through something so much worse so I shouldn’t feel bad.” or “There are bigger problems in the world.” I had to stay conscious and be reminded of this last week, giving myself permission to be where I was. Face it. Feel it. Move on.

No matter what degree or depth we are talking about, I believe in my heart that like failure, the low moments, negative emotions, bad days, weeks,  months or even seasons of life, are present to teach us something, to wake us up to something deeper and offer a renewed reverence for the essential.  (I also know that In the midst of these seasons, that can be an incredibly annoying statement if you aren’t ready to receive it. When we are in the thick of pain, sometimes the less thinking and the more breathing the better.)

I’m not romanticizing low times or championing them as the only space for growth.  I certainly believe (and prefer) to grow through joy. Who doesn’t? But when I am in an inevitable downturn (and I had a few good souls remind me of the cyclical nature of life and the normalcy of it all before I stopped fighting against it last week), it’s admittedly comforting to feel there is purpose and hope there.

I’ve gotten in the habit of asking “What is this trying to teach me?” Do I need to slow down?  Redirect? Reconnect with others in my life and get out of my own head? And eventually, I remember that asking questions typically signify the desire for an answer, and you can’t hear those if you keep talking or thinking the same thoughts on an endless loop.

Perhaps the most liberating line from her speech for me this time around was this:


“I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that really mattered to me.

Reading those words feels like freedom to me.

Even though I am constantly “doing the work” of self inquiry, for me, “the lows” offer a unique opportunity to cut through the static and unnecessary noise of my life.  It’s also a chance to re-examine the faulty wiring in my brain that prompts me to judge myself harshly and instead, inject a little more self compassion, which is a daily practice I assure you. It’s the push I need toward connection and away from the illusion or delusion of perfection. I recognize this makes a more fertile ground for peace and even excellence, because with a reverence for the essential, more love and energy can be poured into what and who matters to me most.


Flow & Enthusiasm: Harnessing the Power of the Universe

flow painting.jpg

Want to know what a flow state looks like?  Watch this.

That link will take you to a YouTube video of composer, violinist, and pianist Alma Duestcher playing Mozart with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.  Not only does the music sound lovely, but also, she is so fun to watch; You can sense her joy and delight!


Oh, and by the way, she’s only TEN years old in this video. She is 14 now, and a couple of years ago released her first original full-length opera. (Need a reason to smile? Look up her interview with Ellen.)


Being in a state of flow has nothing to do with being a child prodigy, but for me, there is such a purity and a whimsy in what Alma creates that it inspires me to focus and play in that way. While all of us aren’t receiving melodies in our dreams (at the tender age of 6 no less), we can all connect with and cultivate states of flow in our life.


So what is flow exactly?


I was first introduced to the concept about 7 years ago when I read Mihaly Csikszenmihalyi’s book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” which at its’ core explores the question: When do people feel most happy?

He describes flow as “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”


On a recent re-read of A New Earth (and in listening to Oprah’s re-airing of her interview with Eckhart Tolle on her Super Soul Conversations podcast), Tolle reminds me of the three ways to approach a task: with acceptance, enjoyment or enthusiasm.  To me, working with enthusiasm (from the root: en.theos, in God) carries many of the same qualities Csikszenmihalyi refers to when talking about flow. A New Earth says:


“Enthusiasm knows where it is going, but at the same time, it is deeply at one with the present moment, the source of its aliveness, its joy, its power.  Enthusiasm ‘wants’ nothing because it lacks nothing. It is at one with life and no matter how dynamic the enthusiasm-inspired activities are, you don’t lose yourself in them.  And there remains a still, but intensely alive space at the center of the wheel, a core of peace in the midst of activity that is both the source of all and untouched by it all.”



When I created the painting above, I had in mind this lovely bit by John O’Donohue:

“Unfinished Poem

I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.”


To flow with both an ease and an intensity like a river is such a compelling image to me. It’s not a passive state. It’s an active yet surrendered state.


There have been seasons in my life when I’ve lived like the river and there have been plenty more seasons when I felt more like the fish swimming upstream.  There have been seasons when I fought so hard against the current until finally my sheer will and effort couldn’t carry my any farther. Essentially, I was forced into the flow.

More and more I’ve made living and working in a state of flow a choice, one I recognize I must continually make. More and more I’ve come to appreciate being carried by the surprise of my own unfolding.  I often remind myself that this doesn’t mean I have to forfeit clarity and leave everything to chance, but rather trust more deeply in an the infinite possibility that may not fit into the small container my mind has made available.


I remind myself that showing up in a flow state is a high leverage play.  It’s the difference between plugging in the vacuum before use and just pushing the machine across the floor.


Sometimes it seems more productive to try to figure out, fix and control everything, but the irony is that it’s much simpler then that.  Showing up to the moment fully is not only the way but also the end. Because in the end all that really exists is this very moment.




Read this post with…

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

I was reminded of “flow” last week while reading Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long Happy life. The authors claim that flow state is a key ingredient for living according to your Ikigai, the Japanese concept which translates roughly as, “the happiness of always being busy,” a “busy” that is simple, focused and purpose-driven.

I learned about the book above from my pal Tavaner, a creative ninja and top-notch curator of interesting ideas who shares them in a quality newsletter called “The Art of the Edit” - I’m always delighted when it hits my inbox!!

*I included Amazon links for the books above, but don’t forget you can always find them at your local library :)

 

A Fun Story on Following my Intuition

Last month we decided to tone down the spending, so I worked from home with my tea rather then hit the coffee shop every day.  Something small and simple I wanted to do.


One morning though, I felt a pull to set up somewhere else.

I decided on a Starbucks because I had a gift card. That way I could change the scenery and uphold my monthly mission.


The one I chose was super crowded and didn’t feel quite right.  I got back in my car, took a beat and a long breath and asked myself “Where do I need to be right now?”


I had a sudden inspiration to go to a coffee shop I hadn’t visited in months - in fact I had forgotten all about it! Although it wasn’t a Starbucks like I initially intended, the idea felt right. So I went.


There’s parallel parking on the side of the shop and I got a spot by the door no problem. Once I got out the car with my bag I noticed someone struggling to squeeze in a spot in front of me- I looked behind my car, noticed I had a little room, and hopped back behind the wheel to give her some more leeway.  The driver waved thanks, and as timing would have it, we both ended up at the entrance to the shop at the same time. I opened the door and waved her through with a smile.


I distinctly remember feeling so light and at peace.

After setting up my computer, I sashayed over to the line. I didn’t even realize the same lady was in front of me until she said “And whatever she’s having too.”


When I realized that she was buying my coffee I attempted to wave her off, “That’s not necessary!”  But she was insistent. With tears in her eyes she said: “No. Your kindness meant a lot.”


I didn’t know why, but I felt pulled to that place and this felt like a nice wink for following the hunch.  And heck, I got a free coffee! Mission accomplished!


The synchronicity of it all was so lovely. It’s not that I deserve a gold star for being kind (I moved my car and opened a door for Pete’s sake), but I sincerely believe it was the state I was in and the energy behind it that made the difference.  I’ve been on the other end of that equation before no doubt and walked away transformed by a stranger’s kindness. It’s honestly one of the most delicious experiences.

But that’s not all...

I sat down to write, and another gal strikes up a conversation with me about my journal (surest way to engage me!) Next thing you know we’ve chatted for an hour about books and writing and spiritual teachers we love. A free coffee AND A new friend!


And THEN...

I saw an acquaintance at the coffee shop I hadn’t seen in the city for at least a year. An hour later - in a completely different part of town- we passed each other on the sidewalk. Can’t make this stuff up, folks.


In another post I wrote - coincidentally also involving coffee shops -  I talk about striking a balance between vision/planning and allowing life to unfold in the moment.


Sometimes finding this balance seems like an illusive, impossible task while other times it feels like the most obvious thing in the world.


In the past, after trying the first crowded coffee shop, I may have been frazzled about wasting my precious morning time to find another spot to write and chosen a backup based purely on proximity. I may have abandoned the adventure altogether out of rigid observance of my monthly quest to spend less.


While neither of these options are bad - sometimes it’s nice to quickly decide or stick to your goals - but it’s also nice to flow. To allow for the magic.


Sure, this decision wasn’t a “big” one in the grand scheme, but what if I carried this practice over to larger decisions in my life? What if I took a beat and a breath and invited my intuition to lead the way more often?

Fun mornings like this help me to remember the powerful forces at work beyond my mind.


Birthday: Appreciation over Expectation

I turned 33 last Sunday.  After excitedly scheming a 90's-themed party (including an Alanis Morissette costume), I abandoned the planning in favor of a “slow” celebration: breakfast in bed, a yoga class, lunch with Rich, and reading in the park.

The morning was overcast so we planned to spend post-lunch in our PJs with a movie (or at the theater for the Wizard of Oz 80th anniversary screening), but it was too beautiful not to be outside. We topped off the evening with an avocado & bacon sammy, beer and cookies.

Simple pleasures. Intentional living. Appreciation over expectation.  That’s where I’m setting (and continually resetting) my compass this year.

Where are you setting yours?

Speaking of birthdays, I’m taking a cue from my 30th when I threw a “reverse surprise party" - I planned a secret hip hop class for my gal pals and me. I still look back at our dance video and smile!  On a similar note, I wanted to show my appreciation and celebrate with YOU for being here…

I jammed with my pal Speedo today to bring some songs from my trio of original musicals to life. The song I’m sharing is pretty special.  It’s the title track from my show “Will You?” The concept is based on the evolution of relationships in our lives - relationships with one another, with ourselves, and with our God/higher power. It's also influenced by the beautiful quote from spiritual teacher Ram Dass:  “We are all just walking each other home.”

See below for some “party favors,” a couple of  inspiring quotes from some fellow January birthdays that I highlighted on Instagram in January. (Speaking of Instagram, I’m stepping away again, at least for the month of February. I’ve got some big life changes on the horizon and some deep work that needs my attention. I’ll be pouring my love into these posts though.

On January 17 Betty White turned 97! And in case anyone is feeling “too old” to start something or go after a dream...

"Don't try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won't live long enough to find out about, but I'm still curious about them. You know people who are already saying, 'I'm going to be 30 - oh, what am I going to do?' Well, use that decade! Use them all!” - Betty White
 

And A.A. Milne was born on January 18, 1882.  I was think, think, thinking about my favorite “Winnie the Pooh” quote —I already posted “Let’s start by taking a smallish nap or two” AND when you order a product from my shop, there is an insert that says: "How do you spell love? - Piglet. You don’t spell it, you feel it. - Pooh

Then I remembered a lovely bit by life coach Martha Beck about the iconic characters:

"Winnie the Pooh. There's a scene in which he, Piglet, and Rabbit get lost. Rabbit, the frantic intellectual, keeps steering them in circles. Then he leaves, and Pooh tells Piglet: 'Let's go home.' 'But, Pooh,' cries Piglet, 'do you know the way?' 'No,' says Pooh. 'But there are 12 pots of honey in my cupboard, and they've been calling to me for hours. I couldn't hear them properly before, because Rabbit would talk, but if nobody says anything...I shall know where they're calling from.' All I ever do is help people quiet their Rabbit minds until they hear the pots of honey speaking to their tummies. That's the way to our destinies: Follow what's sweet, delicious, and calling." —Martha Beck

Heaven is Now

After reading The Untethered Soul last fall, I wrote, or rather, I received this poem.  I say received because sometimes things flow through that feel bigger than me.  

Since I technically put the words on paper, it seems odd for me to even say this,  but they resonated with me so much.

It felt so beautiful and true…and powerful. So naturally, I hid it away on my computer…

Why do we do this?  Why are we afraid of our own light?  


Even though I intellectually understand what these words say, like everyone, I still face the practice every moment. The ironic thing is, I needed to accept what reads in the second stanza:

There is no end. There is nothing to complete. There is no over and done. There is nothing to beat. There is no game to be won. There is no finish line.

We will never be the perfect vessel (What is “perfect” anyway? A perception in our own minds.) I’ve come to believe that it’s not only possible but necessary to share the masterpiece of who we are while we all continue to be works in progress.  We exist as both. These parts of us are not mutually exclusive.



And so, here is it, Heaven is Now…


Heaven is Now

Just when I think I’m at the core,

Another layer is peeled,

And another revealed.

And I realize again:

There is no end.

There is nothing to complete.

There is no over and done.

There is nothing to beat

There is no game to be won.

There is no finish line.

We were given this time

for growth.

I take a silent oath

To self:

Let Go.

And go with the flow of the force

That is love

Not presiding from above

Rather residing in all.

Be aware.

Dare to accept the invitation.

Become a manifestation

Of the Conscious self inside.

And if the pain arises

-And it will -

Step back and play witness

Until it passes through.

No need to engage or explain,

No need to rearrange feelings

To fit the mold you have made for life,

A preconditioned container

That holds your perceived happiness.

Those walls are too small

for the mystery!

All the mystics in history,

The saints and the seekers,

Through prophecy and parable,

And unlikely teachers,

Have shared the truth

That gets lost somehow.

This life’s not a test.

Heaven is…

Now


Read With...

The first time I truly accepted the idea of heaven being in the now was after reading The Four Agreements nearly 6 years ago.  I continue to listen to it regularly on audio as I think it is one of the simplest most practical texts to create inner peace.  

And of course, Untethered Soul.  If you are looking for a transformative, rock-your-emotional- and-spiritual-world type of read, this is a good pick.  Also, the author Michael Singer has a great interview on Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast as well.


An Open Thank You Letter to Artists

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Thank you.


What you do is important.

You may already know and embrace this, but if you don’t, read on.

Never underestimate the power and responsibility you hold.  Through the belt of a lyric, the stroke of a brush, the pan of a camera, the touch of the the keys, the style of a shelf, you can shift a vibration. You can move someone’s energy in an instant.  


But I know that’s not necessarily why you do it. You make and create because it feels out of alignment not to. You do it because it’s like breathing.


I love how you show yourself to a page or a canvas  knowing that while it may remain a physical product in the world, you will continue to evolve.


Whether you are acclaimed and well-compensated or unknown and unpaid, thank you for bearing your soul and daring to share it with us.  



Thank you for bringing beauty into our world.  Thank you for inspiring wonder and awe. Thank you for shifting paradigms in our minds.   Thank you for showing us that there is always a way, that forgiveness and redemption are possible, that love is our choice. From the bottom of my heart...


Thank you.


my definition of artist…

Artist, noun | art·ist |

Creator. Concerned with beauty and truth. Someone who makes: makes a story, a painting, a song, a film, a mixed media installation, something we’ve never seen or a gazillion other works; Also, someone who makes a home, makes someone’s day, makes dreams come true, makes time to see the world anew.  *By my definition, “artist” is not an elite or exclusive type.  Whether we make a physical product or not, we are all the artists of our own life. And that...that is something to celebrate.*



Read this post with…

The Make Manifesto” video. I promise it will get you fired up to make today a work of art.

And then…

Say thanks. If there is someone, a friend or family member, or maybe even someone whose work you have admired from afar, tell them thank you.

Tag them on the Facebook or Instagram letter I posted, or write your own.  Shoot them a text or an email. Send them a good ole’ fashioned piece of snail mail.  




Penny for Your Thoughts

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I was planning to post a different piece today, something I’ve been sitting on for a year.

In fact, I didn’t even plan to share today’s poem on the blog at all!  This was a “just for fun” I scribbled this week. A “warm-up” exercise to my current writing project (or a distraction...depends on how you slice it I guess?!)

But this last-minute change is a nice example of the balance I’ve been trying to strike in my life.

On one end is clarifying what I want, identifying the direction I’m going and then planning and executing ideas in advance.  


On the other end is not holding any of those things too tightly, being present, and responding to myself and others in the moment...flowing, allowing for the surprise and delight.

Personally, I think both ends are important.


For the past 6 months, I’ve shown up to my coffee shop pretty consistently.  Some weeks I was there 5 (some times 7!) days like clockwork at 6:00 or 7:00 a.m. Some mornings I’ll change it up and work from home, or have something else on the schedule altogether, but for the most part, I’ve been there.  At my table (or the “back-up table”), like a statuette, I sort of come with the place.

For this season, the ritual of showing up to this space has worked for me.  I’ve enjoyed the consistency. I’ve also enjoyed the community. It’s a pretty busy spot with a lot of regulars: The businessmen, the four-legged friends,  I couldn’t tell you all of their names, but since I see some of them more than my actual friends and family, I feel like I know them.



People notice when I’m gone or when I’m at the “wrong” table.  The baristas know my order. As a solo worker, it’s nice to have these small moments of connection.

This week, I sat down to work on my aforementioned writing project, easing into the morning with music and my journal.  Here’s what happened:



I sat outside my coffee shop,

Early morning time,

Staring out into the void,

Lost in my own mind.


Suddenly I heard a voice say,

“Penny for your thoughts?”

I turned and with quit wit said, “Sir,

These thoughts can’t be bought!”



“They’re worth more than a penny,”

I said, and then we laughed.

We waved, “Have a nice day,”

He left and that was that.



Then a few days later,

Around same time and place,

I heard that familiar voice,

Saw that familiar face.



This time he asked about my work,

And then I did the same.

We chatted for a little bit,

And then we exchanged our names.



A few weeks go by, a couple months,

I’m outside my shop alone,

My earphones in, my head is down,

Working fiercely “in the zone.”



Then “clink!” there’s something shiny,

On my table corner spot.

I looked up and smiled when I heard:

“Penny for your thoughts?”



He remembered my name,

And even asked about my dog!

We caught up like old friends,

For whom it had been too long.



When he left I couldn’t help but think,

Of the many people that cross our path.

The stories behind the faces,

We’d never know unless we asked.



Now I’ll take out that penny,

From my wallet once in a while,

And remember that you can’t put a price,

On a kind word and a smile.



What a fun interaction!  The genuine interest and positive energy this gentleman brought to my morning was so refreshing and triggered a noticeable shift in my energy.

I starting playing with the words above and next thing I knew an hour had gone by! I was lost in carefree timelessness doing what brings me so much joy: Crafting a story.  No, it wasn’t the story I set out to work on, but I didn’t care. And I still don’t.


I will finish the other writing project, I have no doubt, but I am happy to do so with eyes and heart open to the fun surprises along the way.

Here’s to the people that cross our path today, whether at the office or the grocery store, in the park or at the train stop. Here’s to them and their stories.  Here’s to allowing for moments of connection. Here’s to the surprise and delight.


Read this post with…

I don’t have a recommendation today, but rather, a fun update!  My work in coffee shops didn’t start 6 months ago. For the past decade, I’ve worked in a lot of them!  Inspired by the quirks and culture of this world, this summer I wrote a 20-minute musical called “The Coffee Shop.”  It’s a silly and absurd parody and I can’t wait to get music to it so that we can eventually film a reading that I can share with you.  Stay tuned!


On Love & Relationships

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For the past week I’ve been savoring wisdom from the tiny treasure of a book “Gift from the Sea.”  (Thanks for calling my attention back to this gem, mom.)

This morning I was struck by this passage:

 “When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment.  It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet, this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships.  We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity, when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern. The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting not in hoping, even.  Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it now.”

After contemplating these words this morning, I came across a piece I wrote and recorded last year as part of a stunning, styled video shoot by my pals at Mon Soliel Photography.

Although I wrote to the “characters” and the visuals in the video, reading it now I am awed at how certain sentiments have been big realizations in my own life and relationship this year.

There are also a few poignant parallels between the aforementioned passage.  I bolded them. I also included the original rough audio track for your listening pleasure.

  

"From the moment you walked into my life nothing has been the same. 

What I thought I knew seems so small in the light of your love.

 Your presence, your touch, your gaze: you move me mind, and body and soul. 

I bless the many miles I walked before we met because if but a single step was lost, we may never be. 

I bless it all: the beautiful parts...the broken hearts.  I bless my belief in dreams because I have emerged in one.

I see myself not only as a reflection of where I've been, but also, as a soul ever unfolding...

And You...you do not complete me.  You help me see that I am whole. Your love gives me the freedom to roam yet the security of a safe space to rest.

 Our love is not “perfect,” and I promise never to confine it within the expectation that it will be. Instead, I will savor the moment as it is, and you, as you are.

And now that our table is laid, let us feast on the life before us - raw and real and alive with possibility. 

Let us dance, making up the moves as we go, allowing the beat of our hearts to keep time while we lose it and ourselves in forever."

 

 

I’ve written before about releasing expectations of myself and of my work, shedding weight of what should be to make space for what is to continue to surprise and delight me.  The same is true of relationships.

I am starting to find a freedom in the faith of the ebb and flow, in not gripping something so tightly or clinging to what was or how I want to it to be, rather accepting and savoring the moment or person as it or they are right now.  

Today also happens to be our two year wedding anniversary [smile], and in honor of this day I say:

 

I am appreciative for this dance and for a partner who I can make up the moves with as we go, for a partner whose heart (BIG heart) and humor (so many laughs...) and wisdom (Thank God because I tend to over-complicate things...) and so much more continue to surprise and delight me.  For a partner who reads all these blog posts before I hit publish. Thanks, Rich. I love you.







On Sadness: Being Ok with Not Being Ok

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Life is good.  I’ve been really happy in this season, not only because of circumstances, but also because I’ve been consciously choosing it.  

Recently though, I had a couple of days where it felt anything but good.  It was as if someone called “olly olly oxen free!” and alllll the sadness and nastiness came rushing out.


It felt like a thief in the night stole my joy and try as I might I was having trouble “choosing” it back.  I felt shocked, betrayed and raw. Who was this person?  And despite knowing that self love was what I needed.  I did not love her.

After a period of resisting, I finally gave in to acceptance.

Depression and anxiety are not complete strangers to me.  But somehow, in the midst of this fire hose of emotion there was a teeny tiny sliver of calm, a calm that I had been practicing. It was a space where I was able to acknowledge that even though the emotions may feel the same as they had in the past (read: terrible), my response to them did not need to be the same.

And so, I flowed a new way.  

I did not force myself to do anything, including “get better.”  I didn’t try and reason with my fears or my sadness in my journals.  If something came up that I wanted to explore, I made a note in my phone and moved on.  I slept, took baths, read a novel, watched movies. I tried my best to appreciate the patience of my husband and space that he gave me. I reached out.

The absolute insane thing about these experiences is that you can go from feeling surrounded by love to utterly alone in no time. It doesn’t matter how many people are around.  Again, in that still small space of calm, I knew that I wasn’t alone. So I decided to take action on that knowing.

This year I’ve also been practicing being a better receiver.  I wouldn’t think twice about sending nothing but big, encouraging, compassionate love back to anyone who I loved that reached out to me from this place.  Why should I deny them that chance to do the same for me? Why shouldn’t I open up to receive it myself?

I decided to identify a few people who, lately, I’ve been showing up to in all my glory.  People, who when I talk to them, I do not dim my light. I show up in my full brilliance.  And baby, I am unafraid to proclaim that it is bright!

My intention was not to weave a story around the sadness, because words are powerful, and I believe that with the force of our intention and feeling behind them, they create our reality. I simply sent a message that effectively said:  

I am having a tough couple of days.  After flowing along with such peace, I seemed to have stumbled upon a pocket of sadness and I’m feeling extremely heavy right now.  I know that it won’t last. I also know that this is an opportunity for even greater light to break through in my life. But for now, can you please send me light?  Can you please hold me in a higher vibration? Raise me up to a higher frequency?

These beautiful people did not rush in to “fix me.”  That’s not their job. Frankly, that’s not my job either because there’s nothing that needs to be “fixed.”  What they did do is put one gentle hand on my shoulder and used the other to hold up a mirror, reflecting back my own light.


They sent messages saying “I’m thinking of you” and asked me to send smoke signals to say “I’m here.”  (Funny enough the emoji for “smoke” is the same as if you type the word “fart.” Soooo, I’m here, and possibly gassy?)  Did I mention that humor helps?

Not only did I bounce back to my joy quicker, but I came back stronger, unencumbered by the burden of guilt or shame for the experience.  Lighter and proud of myself for being gentle. Appreciative for the support in my life and for being able to show up honestly in the world. Ready to share more of what I have to give.

It’s ok to not be ok.

Share with someone who needs to hear this. Thanks for being here.


turn on a light

an original song

Where?

Tell me where I go from here.

Where?

Please tell me where to go.

A place that

I’m not lost and disconnected.

Surrounded

Yet feeling all alone

I know

That the darkness won’t last

That the morning follows the night.

So this time instead of trying to fight back

I’m going to turn on a light.

See what I find inside.


Read the post with…

A musical pairing || “Heavy” by Birdtalker. You can find it on Spotify or Youtube.

The last couple of weeks it’s been on repeat for me. Not only do I love the lyrics and the sound, but I also love that it reminds me of the power of art to say important things and move people to make changes in their lives for the better…like leaving what’s heavy behind.


If A Cloud Could Talk...

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I kid you not, this poem was born from my fascination of the words cloud and could side by side. I knew they needed to live together in a title. Naturally, that led me to wonder what it would be like if a cloud could talk.  Here are my thoughts...

If a Cloud Could Talk

If a cloud could talk,

I wonder what it’d say?

That cushiony chameleon,

Constantly changing way.

One minute a dragon,

The next second a mouse,

A sleigh pulled by elephants,

An upside down house.

A six-legged unicorn,

A locomotive blowing smoke,

A plate of steaming hot dogs,

A fat man and tiny boat.

No regard for the practical,

Nor the common sense,

Clouds freely move, unbound,

No barriers, no fence.

Silly and absurd,

That’s the language clouds speak.

Careful not to spell it out,

Masters of discreet.

Their shapes and forms lie,

In the eye of the beholder.

A different picture seen by two,

Standing shoulder to shoulder.

If a cloud could talk,

I wonder how it’d sound?

Would it pssst pssst like a whisper?

Would it BOOM noisy and loud?

Would it tell me of the masks,

And the guises it has kept?

Would it tell me of its travels,

The lands below where it has slept?

Would it tell me of the action,

And the moments it has spied?

The kisses stolen in the grass,

A child’s first airplane ride?

If a cloud could talk,

I’d ask why it gets so sad.

Why some days it’s full of tears,

That rain down so fierce and mad.

Or I’d ask why other days,

It’s hidden from my sight.

Blue skies all day long,

And only stars at night.

Oh, I wish that clouds could talk.

Wouldn’t that be swell?

At least my secrets shared are safe,

Because I know that they can’t tell.


It’s fun to notice “constants” and consider them in new ways.

Creative challenge for the week:  Can you look at an everyday object in your life in a new light?


Read this post with…

“A Podcast Pairing” || There is a relatively new podcast called “Everything is Alive.”  It gives inanimate objects a voice (a lamppost, a can cola, etc.) in a “serious” interview format.  I’ve listened to a couple and think they are clever and funny. Maybe they will interview a cloud?

Restored: Awe & Wonder in the Epic & the Everyday

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Sometimes you experience things in life for which photographs can’t capture the entire essence, like the tiny, fragile first breaths of a newborn or the awesome sight of a natural wonder.

Last month included both for me.  We welcomed a precious new nephew, Luke, into the world on September fourth.  One minute he wasn’t there and the next he was. A new life. It happens every minute, multiple times over on this planet, and it still blows my mind and cracks my heart open.

Later in the month, Richie and I traveled to Sedona for a long weekend.  Maybe it’s because the stunning Red Rocks are so vastly different than our landscape here in New Orleans, or maybe it’s because of all the powerful energy flowing around that city, but I felt so inspired, receptive and restored in that space.

Restored: the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.


I was, if only for brief glimpses at a time, returned to a former condition of wholeness and oneness.  The condition we all come into the world with, like Luke did a month ago, and the condition we all still hold inside of us.

Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned on this journey is that as amazing and welcomed as epic life experiences are, they are not a requirement for restoration.  

I do not have to travel somewhere exotic, make a huge life change, or as Mary Oliver put it “walk on your knees through the desert,” sacrificing to connect with that source right now.

It is available and accessible to us all in this moment.  It isn’t reserved for the contemplatives, or the mystics, or the saints.  I don’t have to do anything or change myself first. I need only be aware and allow myself to be loved that much.

Below is the start of a song I jotted on the top of Cathedral Rock.  I hope you enjoy it and I hope you find ways to restore your soul today. You are loved. You are whole.


I stand in awe,

Of this creation,

With grateful heart,

And open palms.

No photograph,

Can do it justice,

So I’ll offer up,

This simple song.

Humbled beyond,

The Ordinary.

Shaken, my soul,

To the core.

Awakened, Aware,

It’s a new morning.

I feel alive.

I am restored.

So great and vast,

I’m but a droplet.

In ocean body,

In starry sky.


I feel so small,

And also mighty.

Cuz I’m part of it,

My breath is life.


Humbled beyond,

The Ordinary.

Shaken, my soul,

To the core.

Awakened, Aware,

It’s a new morning.

I feel alive.

I am restored.


Admittedly, this blog post took a different turn than I expected. But as this truth bubbled to the surface, I realized that much of the work I hope to release in the upcoming months revolves around this theme.  I am excited to share with you.


How has your soul been restored lately?  If you feel compelled, answer in the comments on the blog or shoot me an email in reply.


An Ode to Clean Closets (& minds)

Let’s get this straight up front: I know, I talk about closets alot.


But when I need to clear my mind, I clean a closet.  A little weird? I don’t care. It works for me.

This week I’ve been going to town, not only with my physical closets, but with my digital closets too.  

Certain pieces I’ve written are still in development or are part of a larger vision.  But some, well they’re just sitting there.


And I don’t want them to collect moth balls in dropbox or google drive.  I don’t want those little blue folders to be like boneyards where ideas and drafts go to die.

I want them to live a full life.  Make friends with other people and poems. Maybe even find love with an illustration and make great work together.

Isn’t that all we can ask for anything we create?

Today’s selection has been hanging out in one of these folders for more than a year.  It was inspired by an experience last summer.

My husband and I discovered a hidden closet in the bed and breakfast room where we were staying.  I started to ponder closets and my fascination with them. Then I scribbled a poem in my journal out of pure self amusement.  

Pretty silly but certainly symbolic.  It seemed fitting for today.



The Extra Door

There’s an extra door in my room.

Where does it lead?

Suppose I’ll do the obvious:

Open it and see.

Just as I suspected,

The only answer I could posit.

I open and discover…

A glorious, beautiful closet!

Why the enthusiasm?

What’s all the fuss?

It’s just a tiny room,

To hang clothes and store stuff.

Au contraire, I beg to differ.

Let me plead my case.

A closet can be magic,

A terrific, tidy space.

Some may say it doesn’t matter

It’s all “behind closed doors.

No need to keep it clean.

Shove stuff in and then ignore.

I’ll tell you a secret:

Closets are like our mind.

Although you may not see it,

There’s so much there inside.

Lists of things to do,

Judgments that we cast,

Dreams of the future,

Memories of the past.

If we can find an order,

A way to simplify.

Let go of what we do not need,

Excess junk won’t multiply.

There’s a peace that overwhelms,

When we take care of the unseen,

And make space for all the beauty,

Instead of bursting at the seams.



Unexpected Spiritual Teachers

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Our girl turned 13 this week and our family of three celebrated big: Science Diet beef stew with carrots and peas followed by popcorn topped with hot dogs (two of her favorite things) and a funfetti bone for dessert.  All week I’ve been smiling a lot because of the party. Dory has been farting a lot because of it.

For those of you who don’t know, Dory is my step dog.  Richie had her for 9 years pre-Kate, and when Dory and I first met it was touch and go at best. A little back story...

I’ve always liked dogs, but I would’ve never described myself as a “dog person” per se.  My family had two growing up: Otis and then Sweet Pea. I loved both of them very much, but when I set off on my own, I wasn’t in any rush to get a pet.  I didn’t want to be tied down. And then there’s all that fur. The smells.


Enter Dory, the dog whose namesake is the scatterbrained Pixar fish.  She was nine when we first met, but judging by her energy level at the time, you could’ve guessed she was three.  To me, she just seemed like alot. (I know, I sound like a wicked stepmother.  But there was no love loss on her end either.)

Despite our hesitations, after we moved in together we became fast friends.  Now, I can’t go to another room in the house without her 3 steps behind me. She sprawls at my feet while I meditate.  She stands watch as I work and occasionally will sneak her nose under my arm while I type. I hate to admit this, but she even curls on the bath mat while I read in the tub.


Of course there’s still things that frustrate me, like how her pacing across the wood floors of our raised house sounds like an endless tap dance routine; how we have to “Dory-proof” the house with TV trays on the sofa and books on all the chairs anytime we leave; how she scratches at the back door to go out only to scratch as soon as the door closes to come back in (why does she do this?!)


But despite these small annoyances, this girl has become one of my greatest spiritual teachers.

She reminds me every day what unconditional love is.  

She reminds me to greet each new day as a new day.  Yesterday is gone.  Bring a heart full of love into this one and celebrate the gift that you have another.


She reminds me to let go and forgive.  I could angrily scold her for sneaking into the bathroom trash cans AGAIN, and 2 minutes later she’s walking toward me tail wagging.  She holds no grudges.


And finally, she reminds me to stop trying so hard. She reminds me to slow down.  To take naps. To play. To be kinder and gentler with myself. She reminds me of the first few lines of Mary Oliver’s beautiful poem, “Wild Geese”

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves...


Dory, here’s to you, my girl.  I’m so grateful for your sweet soul.


Who are your greatest teachers?


Does she have fur?  Does he sing on your windowsill in the morning? Does it grow in your garden?  Do they make you laugh at the dinner table because of their simple and surprising wisdom?  

Take a minute to think about it, then say a silent word of thanks.  Or, throw them a party! I have a great recipe for a popcorn and hotdog dish...

Naked: Stripping down assumed identities to get back to your core

Ever feel like you’re not who you were, but you’re not quite who you’re going to be?  You’re not where you were, but you’re not quite where you’re going either?

I do.  And it can be uncomfortable, right?

I was pondering this curious place a few weeks ago and wrote a song about it.  Here’s the first verse:

 

When I try to run back

To the comfort of what I’ve known,

It feels like a suit that I once loved,

But somehow I’ve outgrown.

 

I look around my closet,

For a new piece to replace it,

But empty hangers line the rack,

While I’m standing here naked.

In between.

 

The In Between. 

What happens when all the identities we used to dress ourselves up in are gone, or at least they don’t fit the way they used to?  

I’m learning that the more I open myself up to growth, certain things, habits, beliefs and even relationships don’t seem to fit any more.  And that’s ok.

Sometimes when I clean out my closet and there's a piece that I know I should donate, it’s still difficult to let go of because it feels so familiar and comfortable.  Ultimately I tell myself to let it go and make room.

But then there’s that space.  Those empty hangers. And the thoughts creep in...

Like regret..I guess I could’ve paired that top with a skirt instead of jeans?  Did I make the wrong decision?

Or sentimentality... Aw, I remember when I bought that shirt.  It was such a steal! And I wore it to that holiday party when I first met so and so...

Or fear...ohmygod what am I going to wear now? I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR.

There have been times in the past when I was so uncomfortable by the thoughts and the nakedness that I grabbed at the next closest thing, even though it wasn’t my size or style. This will be fine.  I’ll make it work. Just put a belt on it, I’d say.

But the more and more mediocre pieces I accumulated, I still had "nothing to wear."  A closet full of settling seemed to feed my need for more.

What if, instead of settling for the good enough version of what was next, I was brave enough to stand naked and believe that anything was possible?

That’s where I’m trying to stand now. I’m learning not to rush and fill the space with new suits or armor.  I’m learning to appreciate the naked.  The uncertainty.

I used to think The In Between was unkind and unfair to me: “But, I worked hard! or “I didn’t plan for this.”  But now I’m starting to wonder if I’ve been unkind to The In Between, this magic space of reinvention.

Although I do believe fiercely in clean closets and minimalism and surrounding yourself with things that bring you joy, this whole closet scenario is a metaphor for the identities and roles we assume in life.

Naked is how we come into the world, before we were programmed to be the obedient one or the middle child or the one who is always late; before we wore “busy” as a badge of honor or clung to whatever ladder we perceived to be the way to success; before we imposed ceilings on ourselves for how much love or abundance we were willing to receive.

Maybe sometimes we need to go back to the birthday suit.

Maybe The In Between is just an invitation to get naked?


How might we strip down the beliefs, identities and assumptions that no longer serve us?  How can we put on our metaphorical birthday suits more often?


Deciding to Shine

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Do you ever feel like you keep bumping up against the same blocks?  You get to a certain point only to turn right back around?

This summer I went deep into the metaphorical woods, attempting to quiet my mind to determine what was in my heart.  I took time to look at what was holding me back, but also, I deliberately focused on thoughts and projects that help me feel free and alive.  I allowed myself to dive into what felt good including a collection of songs, a mini original musical, and the seeds of a screenplay.  (I hope to share all of these things in the future!)

A few months ago I knew it was time to step back, and I’m so glad I did. I also know now that it’s time to step forward to share and connect again.  Truthfully, this move holds more resistance for me.

But when I feel that, I call to mind Marianne Williamson’s quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I’ve realized that It doesn’t matter what I choose to create and share.  It comes down to a decision and a belief in my own worth and the worth of the work.

It doesn’t matter how many people support and praise my work (and there have been so many sweet supporters who I appreciate so much!), if I don’t believe in it and respect the gift, I will keep running up against the same blocks.  And if I keep shrinking, I’ll never see the way around them.

My intention is to create consistently and boldly. I’m writing this blog for me.  Hopefully by letting my light shine, it will give someone else permission to do the same.


Are there any blocks you keep coming up against?  How could you create space, step back, to see things from a different angle?