When I look at this photo

When I look at this photo I see my grandmother’s wedding band, the pearls my dad gave to me on my eighteen birthday, my precious grandbaby, and a mother pausing for a moment to soak in the last moments before her son is married. This moment in time highlighted by memories of the past and promise of the future.

I’m reminded of words my Dad gave to us, given to him through his mother. Words with meaning that grows deeper as the years pass.

“The past, the future, are linked together by the now. What is today is because of what was yesterday, the day before, and long ago.” – drw

From the vantage point provided by experience, I’ve begun to see that what I once thought was a past littered with missteps and fumbles, was in reality, perfect in every way. There are no missteps and past fumbles only serve to propel us a little further down the path. Every thing happens for a reason and all of it leads to where we are meant to be today.

With the passing of each life event, Dad’s wisdom comes more clearly into focus. His words echo Universal laws and teachings I have come to embrace. I believe in soul contracts, all part of a Divine plan of agreements we make before entering into this life experience. A Divine plan that provides a map of sorts for the journey that will be our life. Each journey provides opportunity after opportunity for the soul to have exactly the experience necessary in order for it to learn lessons agreed to in the original contract. The choices we make when confronted with these opportunities determine the next turn our path will take. In the moment these turns often feel like problems, challenges, tragedies, and drama leading to what we perceive as missteps. Only through the passage of time are we able to see the wisdom gained, the growth experienced, and the blessings hidden in these turns along the way.

“Each thought, each word, each deed acted in the now becomes a fragment of eternity.” –drw

Life moments are precious, each one filled with meaning. What we choose to do with these moments is up to us. We can wish them away, ignore their significance, or treasure them for what they are but regardless of our behavior, all become fragments of eternity. Every thought, word, and deed carries significance whether chosen with intention or performed mindlessly and forgotten. Given the power of choice, choose intentionally. Wake up to this moment. Use this gift to craft your life. Pay attention to the lessons as they present themselves along the way and make choices that challenge you to expand and grow to the fullest expression of yourself.

“Life means there is no choice but to use this gift…the trust, the love, the power…indenting destiny.” -drw

When I look at this photo, I hear my Dad’s voice reminding me to pause, to appreciate the moment, its connection to the past and link to the future. Life doesn’t provide a pause button. It’s up to us to create moments of pause, time to breathe, to reflect, to soak it all in.

When I look at this photo my heart fills with gratitude for the woman who wore this wedding band, for the man who gave me these pearls, for my child about to be wed, and for the baby snuggled against my chest. I am blessed with the gift of appreciation that allows me to savor moments like these, because truly, these moments are what life is all about.

This is me saying YES!

It’s amazing how a simple photograph can stir a multitude of feelings.

I love this one of me holding my grandbaby. I love it first because of his chubby little arms with the rolls upon rolls of pure sweetness. I love it because of his chunky thighs that squish in my hands when I hold him up high. I love it because his fat little feet are naked, just the way he likes them and his perfect piggy toes are there just waiting for me to kiss them!

I love this photo because it captures the serious look he often has in his eyes, studying everything in his world very carefully before committing to anything at all. I love it because it captures the peak at the center of his forehead where his fluffy baby chick fuzz is beginning to show. And I love it because looking at this photo, I can feel the weight of his body leaning into me as he presses his check close to mine in a knowing way. He’s my boy.

This photograph was taken in a spontaneous moment, a day when I was there to help capture his smile and direct his gaze for the photographer. I wasn’t there to be photographed myself. I’d spent the morning with baby kisses washing off what little makeup I had applied and had no idea what my hair was doing at the time. But when asked, “Would you like to take a photo?”

This is me saying “yes!”

I love this photo because looking at it, I remember that brief moment of saying, “No, I’m not prepared to be in a picture.” But more importantly, I remember how quickly I dismissed that voice and spoke my truth.

“Yes, I want to capture this moment with my grandbaby because this moment will never come again.”

“Yes, it matters more to me to capture the energy of the moment than the physical features.”

“Yes! For once in my life, I love myself in this moment so much that I want a photograph to capture that for me.”

I love this photo.

I love this baby.

I love this life.

I love this me. The one who says yes.

 

“The Limiting Belief of Comfort Zones”

 

There is a lot of discussion and coaching that centers around the concept of “comfort zones”. We’ve all heard sayings like, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” and “Outside the comfort zone is where the magic happens.” So what is a comfort zone?

A simple google search provides the following definition:

com·fort zone (ˈkəmfərt zōn/) noun

  1. a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.

There are countless articles, books, programs, and workshops that offer the “Science behind Comfort Zones”. Some profess how to help us “Identify our Comfort Zones” and others explore “Reasons to step outside our Comfort Zone”. Depending on your eagerness level, you can find advice from the world’s leading experts on how to get out of our comfort zone in as little as ten and as many as fifty-two ways.

We are taught that our limiting beliefs are what keep us stuck in our comfort zones. Beliefs, many of which are formed in our childhood such as, “I’m not worthy”, “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t deserve that dream”, “I’m not capable”, or “that’s not who I am” serve as anchors that keep us within a zone of comfort that we eventually believe we might not be capable of leaving.

But what if a comfort zone is nothing more than a story we tell ourselves? What if the comfort zone itself is the limiting belief? How might we change the story?

For the entirety of my adult life, I have been uncomfortable seeing and hearing myself recorded. I’ve avoided photos, videos, and facetime conversations because the experience is extremely uncomfortable. At times I’ve been forced in front of a camera for work or school and I’ve praised myself for “stepping outside my comfort zone”. I’ve told myself that the more I practice, the easier it will become. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. I practiced and practiced and learned how to look into the camera and read a script better but the process never became something that I enjoyed. However, recently a still small voice inside my head was heard to say, “it would be so much fun to make a video and put it out into the world!” And for the first time, I listened. I listened and I allowed myself to feel the excitement without shutting it down, judging it, or labeling the idea “outside my comfort zone”. Instead, I opened my computer, walked out to my deck, and without a script, said what was on my heart. And in the process of looking into that camera and speaking my truth, I began to relax and enjoy what I was doing.

I realized in that short three-minute timeframe that the idea of a comfort zone was just a story I had made up to keep me from playing big in the world. I had let myself believe that making a video was outside my comfort zone. My comfort zone was limiting how I showed up in life. It had been a convenient excuse for not listening to what my soul’s purpose was trying to express. Today I know that my soul wants me to feel comfortable connecting with people through video, facetime, zoom calls, and whatever other technical tools show up along the way so that I know there is no limit to how big I might be in this life. So, I changed my story.

As a little girl, I loved being in front of the camera. I was called a “camera hog” and over time began to feel that wasn’t an acceptable way to be. But what if the things we loved doing as children were never judged or labeled as good or bad? What if we were never made to feel uncomfortable for expressing the truest versions of ourselves by an insecure world that wasn’t capable of holding space for the enormity of our authentic passion? What might happen? Who might we be? Change the story.

What are you waiting for?

“If you’re going to be a writer, you have to f%#&’n WRITE.”

I go through life with words, phrases, sentences, messages swirling around in my head, bumping into each other in a chaotic mess that vibrates and echoes often leaving me exhausted and dazed. I’ve waited for the words to arrange themselves, thinking that was a necessary step before written expression would be possible. I’ve given up that idea. Whatever comes of this exercise is no longer of importance but only the act of release that matters, for without that, I fear I’ll soon be rendered permanently STUCK. Stuck in this plane of life, unable to move beyond what I am now.

And what is that exactly?

Aware. I am aware, aware to the possibilities before me and aware of the struggles behind me. Accomplished enough to know what I am capable of yet inexperienced enough to remain fearful of failing. Aware that failing is a natural step in the progression of personal evolution. Starving for the next step on this journey, I’ve seen glimpses of what is to come. In my mind’s eye, I’ve lived brief moments of this destiny. Through dreams and visions I’ve felt what is possible, just enough to whet my desire and leave my soul craving more. Nanoseconds of realization experienced with a divine truth signaling my soul, “this is IT.”

And what is IT exactly?

Physically, IT is adrenaline rushing through the body creating a rapid flow of blood and a pounding heart that invigorates, stimulates, and inspires. It is a flush of heat that starts in the chest and spreads up to the head, down to the hands, and radiates out in what I imagine is a visual display of vibrancy. My body feverish and my palms sweaty. My ears, clogged with a slight ringing noise that distorts the sounds around me, not unlike that feeling of floating underwater.

I imagine the physical body’s vital signs might register like those of a runner after crossing the finish line and yet inwardly, calm. There is a knowing that all is well, a beckoning to relax and let go. I’m standing at the edge of a magnificent cliff. The air is crisp. The sun is warm. A slight breeze passes over my body and sends a chill up my spine. This is the edge of destiny.

“Breathe deeply and let go. Trust that this is who you are. Everything that has happened before has prepared you for the next step. Take it. Embrace your destiny. You are worthy. This is your path. All else is a dream. You are the observer. This is your reality.”

And what does IT mean?

It means creation has already taken place. Communicate that which the soul has created.

“Step out of the way and let that which IS be received.”

It means I have only to quiet the noise and trust in the message.

“There is no doing to be done. There is only being. Trust what comes in and let it pass through without thought, judgment, or interpretation.”

There is a fear of madness, a fear of letting go and losing control. Like an addict, never knowing when the point of no return might be crossed, the high is intoxicating. To lock one’s self away and let go without timetables or commitments, abandoning all worries or ties to a world that is constantly demanding and distracting, that is the lure and there in lies the fear. But what exactly is that fear?

Loss? – Fear that connection to everything held dear might be broken and I might find myself alone and with nothing. It occurs to me that I’ve faced this fear before at another crossroad in life, only then the fear was much stronger and the outcome much less predictable. Desperation propelled me forward, not awareness or courage. The pain of the status quo at the time was far greater than the fear of change. It felt less a matter of choice and more a matter of survival. Regardless, the fear was faced and the outcome was growth, confidence, trust, self-love, expression, and ultimately, the experience of a love greater than I have ever known. Had fear won that battle everything I now hold so dear would not be in my life. This realization causes me to pause, the “what if’s” screaming inside my head. Images of the person I was never becoming the person I am makes me feel sad. Ironically, who I am now, living this beautiful chaotic life that resulted from the ashes of what was, is exactly what I am fearful of now losing.

But what if instead of losing, I win again? Instead of desperation pulling me away, what if intuition propels me forward? Imagine the power of that energy. If out of desperation, this beautiful life could emerge, imagine what might be birthed through the energy of inspired creation.

There are two choices: to rest in what is or to evolve into what might be. When what IS no longer fits, there will be no choice but to evolve or to die.

What are you waiting for?

 

To my Fellow Reluctant Activists: we were made for this

 

Lately, I find myself reading news articles, checking source validity, fact-checking video interviews, researching world history, and engaging in political discussions. Over the past few months, I’ve written letters, signed petitions, made phone calls, attended rallies, and marched at our nation’s capitol. My morning routine now consists of at least three phone calls to my representatives and one additional call to “the office of the issue of the day” followed by a tweet and a post that hopefully, in some way, informs others of what I am learning.

None of this comes naturally to me. I’m an introvert. I’m the person who loves snow days because it means I can enjoy quiet time without feeling guilty that I should be engaging with anyone other than “my people.” I’ve yet to reach that point people talk about when they’ve had too many days without human contact and they start to go stir crazy. On the contrary, more than a few hours actively engaged with strangers and I’m in need of isolation to recharge myself. I love sitting in silence and have no need to make conversation to feel connected. I love reading and writing, crocheting and yoga, Hallmark movies and The Andy Griffith Show. I have no desire for suspense or intrigue. I like happy endings…predictable happy endings. At 52 years old and after a lifetime of denial, I was finally comfortable knowing these things about myself and had no desire to change. However, the universe has recently conspired to keep me living in a state of discomfort.

Often, engaged in debate, I find my palms are sweaty and my voice is shaking. I ask myself, “Who is this person who is speaking so passionately about a subject she barely understands?” Politics has never been my area of expertise. Without Ms. Ellis’s Law & Justice lectures and the catchy songs from Schoolhouse Rock, I would be completely clueless as to how our government functions. But what I’m beginning to understand is that passions arise from unexpected places and often it isn’t until we take a step back that we are able to see the interconnectedness of life events.

Molestation and assault may silence a voice but they don’t kill the message. We go through life trying to communicate, stumbling, falling, longing to be heard. We shout. We cry. We whisper. We are ignored, talked-over, dismissed, misunderstood. For a period of time, it may seem as if we have given up. We go through the motions and conform because we’re tired from the struggle. This has, in our history, shown up as generations of women whose voices were lost amidst the noise of the times. Across the globe today, nations of women oppressed, abused, enslaved, and forgotten. Voices are muffled but the message remains, simmering beneath the surface, waiting. Waiting for the day when the pressure is so intense that the fear of speaking pales in comparison to the fear of remaining silent.

Although on the surface it appears to be sudden, the awakening happens slowly. Whispers begin. Thoughts are shared. Words are overheard that strike a cord in people who previously thought they were alone. One by one communities are formed. Voices joined together create volume and people begin to listen. For those who aren’t accustomed to being heard, the feeling is one of power, validation, and respect. Fears are pushed aside and passion takes over. From quivering voices the message begins to seep out into the universe, starting as a rumble and growing to a roar.

This is where I find myself today, empowered by the strength of other women, no longer sitting quietly by while injustice occurs. We may stumble. We may fall. We might be dismissed, talked-over, and misunderstood but we’ve been here before. We have lived in that space of fear and it has shaped us. Like pressure to coal, we’ve emerged stronger and more brilliant, built for this time.

This time, we will not be ignored. We will cry cleansing tears. We will whisper truth to our babies and shout justice into this troubled world. We will reach deep inside our hearts and feel compassion for those who need it most and having seen the darkness, we will bring the light. We will march, and write, and sing, and we will be heard.

And though we may be reluctant activists, we were made for this. img_4331

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/02/to-my-fellow-reluctant-activists-we-were-made-for-this/

Let us pray.

pray-banner

Recently, I read of a group of people who planned to be in Washington DC on inauguration day to pray for the incoming president. I couldn’t help but ask myself exactly what it was they would be praying for: His safety, given his divisive rhetoric? His heart, given his plans regarding human rights? His intellect, given his ignorance of the office he would hold and the many policies he would influence? His soul, given his inability to display modesty or gratitude for his situation?

What would these well-meaning individuals have asked God to do on that fateful day in history? To change a man into someone he is not? To step in and provide some Divine intervention that would save his soul and perhaps also the world as we know it? Many may believe that God chose this man to be our next president and therefore, God most certainly would not leave us in harm’s way.

I, myself, am not a religious person. However, I am a reflective person and as I reflect on the past year I’m reminded of a story about a man who’s house was consumed by a flood. The short version of the story is that the man sat on his rooftop and prayed for God to save him. He prayed as a friend came by in a canoe, a policeman came by in a boat, and a rescue helicopter flew overhead, all offering the man a ride to safety. He prayed and prayed as the flood waters rose until eventually, he drowned. When the man reached the pearly gates, he asked why God had deserted him. He was faithful in his prayer and steadfast in his belief that God would never forsake him. God shook her head and said, “I did not forsake you. I sent a canoe, a boat, and a helicopter. You refused all three.”

If one is to believe that God sent us this president, aren’t we also to believe that she sent the other 19 primary candidates from which to choose? The Bible is filled with stories where believers were tested. Perhaps the story of the 2016 US Presidential election is a modern day story of such a test. I imagine God might have thought this was an easy one for us to pass. After all, she had provided a book with lessons and rules as a guide.

“I’ll give them 17 candidates on one side, a few of them will be so extreme that they can eliminate them right off the bat, but I’ll leave one or two reasonable choices. Then on the other side, I’ll give them a flawed but qualified woman and a jewish guy who’s fighting for all that my son was sent to teach.” 

I imagine as the primaries progressed, God may have started to feel a bit concerned and by the time the GOP debates took place, God was most likely losing faith. Childish insults, rude behavior, false statements, shouting. At one point, in an effort to get attention, one candidate was heard to say, “Can someone attack me please ?” God watched as we officially entered the land of the absurd. Week after week she upped her game but it didn’t work. The more obscene the situation, the more popular the candidate.

The situation wasn’t much better on the DEM side. The choice for the Left was between a kickass woman who refused to play nice and a fatherly old man who fought to feed the poor and tax the rich. I’m certain God felt confident that we could get that one right. Checking in on things daily, she would see massive crowds of people supporting the jewish socialist as he spoke of income equality, human rights, worker’s rights, peace, love, and protecting Mother Earth. I imagine God felt little concern for the outcome of the DEM primaries but just to be safe, she sent that little bird to sit on the podium to seal the deal. #BossMove

Then the primary results began to come in. It was most likely at this time that God started to regret the whole “free will” thing. Realizing what she had to work with in the general election, God stepped up her game yet again. Providing opportunity after opportunity to showcase the difference between the two candidates: hateful rhetoric, Islamophobia, misogyny, mockery, adultery, conceit. Audio and video evidence was released to help us separate real facts from “alternative facts.” At one point, I imagine God shaking her head and considering a googleAd:

7 DEADLY SINS - FREE & EASY ACCESS
www.DonaldTrump.wth 
Pride. Envy. Wrath. Gluttony. Lust. Sloth. Greed.

And then we voted…

At this point, I imagine God cried. And then, like most of us, she took a few days to grieve and collect herself.

What must she be thinking now? I imagine there’s a part of her, like any parent when their child makes a poor choice, that would like to say, “Don’t ask me to fix this. I did my best to guide you toward the path of righteousness but you chose to go a different way. Now you can live with the consequences of your decisions.”

But she won’t.

She’ll listen to every voice and feel the heaviness of every heart. She will inhale a deep breath of compassion and exhale love all over the universe. With unconditional love, God will forgive our arrogance, forget our shameful selfishness, and provide us the opportunity to come together and heal the divisions we allowed to separate us from each other, but she won’t do it for us.

God has provided each of us with everything we need to fix this mess ourselves. We are, after all, each created in God’s own image, each of us a spark of the Divine energy of the Universe blessed with the gift to show love and compassion, but we must wake up and be responsible citizens, not only of this country but of the universe we inhabit. We cannot sit on the rooftop of our ideals praying to God for evidence of why we are right and others are wrong. No, we must take action or we will all soon drown.

 

 

“If your Why doesn’t make you cry, it’s not big enough”

I spent the morning responding to comment after comment from women who have read my article “An Open Letter to the ones who have never been assaulted.” The article was published 8 days …

Source: “If your Why doesn’t make you cry, it’s not big enough”