When Your Soul Speaks, Listen

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“Does your soul have a message for you today?”

That was the question the meditation teacher asked during session.

It turns out my soul did. It often does, when I’m paying attention.

Usually, the messages are so simple I almost miss them. Or I judge them. Or second guess them. That morning, I decided to just shut up and receive what was given to me. By my soul. Yep. I wasn’t judging it, or questioning whether it really was my soul guiding me, nor was I second guessing it, “Are you sure that’s all?” or “What am I supposed to do with that?”

It was pretty simple. I got quiet. Inhale. Exhale. Body against the chair. Sink in. Inhale. Exhale. When thoughts came that started to take me somewhere else, I floated back to my breath. Inhale. Exhale.

Then, I asked the question of my soul. “Do you have a message for me?”

Inherently, I knew to trust the first thing that came. And, here it was.

“You already have everything you need within you to receive the answers you seek.

Yes, it’s good to seek knowledge and experiences and connections that enrich your life. But, the truest answers to your deepest questions are not discovered externally. Those are found within your own inner and higher wisdom, through your direct connection to the greater knowledge that is source, God and universe. This is your truth, always.”

So simple. And, such a great reminder to trust. And, to not complicate things by seeking outside of ourselves.

Certainly that’s not a new concept, that you have everything you need within you. But, it was the message I needed to hear, right then.

The next morning I asked the question again and got another answer, equally as simple and perfect for what I needed.

That’s the beauty of this short and sweet daily practice. Each time the answer is different, the message is appropriate for what you need right then, on the day in that moment.

It happens when you’re in your body, as your breath connects you to being fully present and the mind is focused on listening and being open to receiving.

In that space, with the curiosity of a child, simply ask your soul what it wants you to know, in that moment on that day.

What’s interesting is that you can tell when it’s your soul speaking. If it sounds or feels like judgment or punishment, it’s your ego, not your soul. Soul speak comes from your highest wisdom and you know it when you hear it.

“Wise souls speak loudly in silence” ~ Unknown

What a profound way to create the day, on message. On your soul’s message. It paves the way for your divine purpose to unfold.

Simply, reverently, freely.


Soaring Above Your Personal Glass Ceiling

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On a recent flight, I ran across a story about the first female pilot to fly for a major US airline. In 1973, Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo, at age 24 literally soared above that glass ceiling. Today, American Airlines continues to honor her feat by bestowing an annual $50,000 grant, aptly titled The Bonnie Award, to mid-career female filmmakers who are blazing trails and breaking through their own glass ceilings.

It got me thinking about my own personal glass ceilings and how great it feels to be looking down through the glass floor rather than up through a seemingly unpenetrable glass ceiling, where you can see it, sometimes feel and taste it but you just can't quite get there.

Some of the barriers were societally or industry-imposed and some were created and built by me. Can you relate?

Personal glass ceilings aren’t those imposed by society or industry, but rather are our own barricades that hold us back, barriers we place there out of fear. How to tell? If you’re constantly coming up with excuses for not getting what you want, then that's likely a sign that they are blocks you’ve placed there yourself. In other words, you become your own glass ceiling. Yikes.

When you think about it, even though it was a societal and industry glass ceiling that Bonnie Caputo burst through, she wouldn’t have stood a chance at piercing through the ceiling if she’d put her own fears and excuses in front of her. “They’ll never promote me because I’m a woman.” “It’s never been done before so why try.” “I have to be better than I am to do this.” It's certainly possible those thoughts were prevalent during insecure moments, but they never became her personal glass ceiling.

Shattering a glass ceiling sounds kind of messy and dangerous. I mean the notion conjures up the vision of being cut to bits by shards of sharp, cruel edges. The same kind of sharp cruel edges that come from imposing a harsh inner critic upon your dreams. Another yikes. 

When put that way, how about a reframe on breaking through your own glass ceilings. Perhaps as you continue to blaze your own trail, the energy from your own heat will dissolve the barriers. Hmm, it’s a thought.

"I never thought I was breaking a glass ceiling. I just had to do what I had to do, and it never occurred to me not to." ~ Marian Wright Edelman

And, as more and more of us rise up and dissolve through more and more of our own personal glass ceilings, it stands to reason the societal and industry glass ceilings will dissolve as well.

Here are some heat-generating tools to aid your trailblazing journey upward:

  1. Be optimistic - “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  2. Set intentions & goals - and write things down. There's power in committing the words to paper. 
  3. Work smart and be diligent - one day after the next.
  4. Do things that scare you - stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone. Each day stretch a little bit further. You can break it down into bite size pieces that way.
  5. Recognize fear - give it voice and then forge ahead anyway. Often it's not as bad as you've made it out to be in your mind.
  6. Keep track of your progress - you'll surprise yourself when you recognize the baby steps that have grown into bigger ones. All of a sudden you're there and the glass ceiling as disappeared.
  7. Be assertive about your own worth - you are your best advocate and it starts with your own self-talk.

Here’s the thing about personal glass ceilings, as you break through one and continue to evolve into the person you’re meant to be, there will be more ceilings and barriers to dissolve. Because as we break through and start to get used to the air up there, we just keep rising and discovering and reaching for the next height or accomplishment. And, each one is a breakthrough!

So, keep soaring. Keep looking for higher personal ceilings to breakthrough.

Keep moving toward your heart’s desire.

And, take a moment to look back from time to time to appreciate your journey. Honor the accomplishment, no matter how large or small.


Time for Spring Cleaning - of the Mind

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Spring is in the air. I had the pleasure of experiencing the first week of Spring in four different states. On a cross-country road trip with my sister, we drove a car load of my family treasures that were stored at her home in Austin to my home in Los Angeles, passing through West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. I'm still mining the rich gems from that trip...

When I got home, I entered into some Spring cleaning in order to make room for said treasures. That meant cleaning out closets and drawers. It was at times mindless work, but I found my mind was anything but "less". In fact, it was just the opposite. I had to pause to journal because I had so much to capture from my amazing sister road trip.

So, pen poised over the page, and nothing came. It’s not that my mind was blank, it’s that my mind was racing. I felt the need to go from mind-full to mindful, which meant I needed some clarity.

Mind chatter is non-stop. If it’s not about the to-do list, it’s about a conversation we had or want to have. If it’s not about the email we need to answer, it’s about how we’re judging ourselves for it. And, everything.

If it’s not about the ache in our back or knee or shoulder, it’s about the movie we watched last night and our commentary on it; or the birds chirping or the lawn mower too loud at 6 am, or the cat sitting nearby, or what we’re having for breakfast, or how fat we feel, or how great we feel; or about the article we read on student activists, or the full moon, or the latest tech darling, or the rise of consciousness, or the fall of cryptocurrencies. We’re thinking about everything except nothing, which is kind of the goal when trying to clear the mind.

I realized when my thoughts were speeding around themselves, that my mind is like that cluttered closet or drawer, where things are placed to possibly be categorized or dealt with later. And if someone calls or starts a conversation, I need to store what's on my mind at that the moment so I can get back to it later.How many thoughts do we keep in there, just in case we might need them at some point, no matter how obscure the thought, or seemingly useless the information.

It got me thinking, clean out the closet or drawer, clean out the mind!

I took a gander into the storage shelves and was kinda surprised (and not) at all that was in there, besides the obvious stuff like pens, paper and tape. I also found: old glue, flower food, loose change, a 2016 calendar, recipes, gum (no idea how old), keys (no idea what for), batteries (probably dead), picture hangers, lens cleaner, magnets, cat toys, old coupons, menus (to places I’ll never go), loose nails, loose paperclips, 3 lighters, a door stopper, etc.

All stuffed in there haphazardly with the idea that their day will come; each item holding a glimmer of hope that it will be taken out and used for what it was meant to be. Not a chance of that happening while mired in the recesses of that closet!

The same can be said for our minds. There’s so much junk in there that the clarity gets buried alive, the brilliant ideas jumbled amidst the quagmire of waste. What junk are you stuffing in your mind that is not serving you and your highest good?

Clean out the closet, clean out the mind. Oh my, what to do with all of that open space? 

Empty everything out at once – It’s best to start with a clean canvas or an “empty drawer.” Meditation, the practice of clearing the mind, is a great way to start. If this has proven a challenge for you, start with just a few minutes. When the chatter comes in, focus on your breath. In, out. In, out. John Viscount in “Mind What Matters: A Pep Talk for Humanity” says the moments in a still mind are deeply healing and peaceful. He says, “In the silence between your thoughts, you will tap into the larger universal mind. This is where some of your greatest work on Earth will be accomplished and you won’t even know you’re doing it.”

Examine the contents – Pay attention to each voice participating in the mind chatter. Only then can you determine which are dedicated to raising your consciousness and which are ego-driven to keep you stagnant or small or stuck. Michael Singer in the book The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself takes it a step further by saying “There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one who hears it…If you watch it objectively, you will come to see that much of what the voice says is meaningless…a waste of time and energy.”

Give it a wipe down – Clean out the dust and cobwebs once it’s empty. Lose a bad habit; clean out your email, in other words, delete almost everything and unsubscribe from almost all of them; let go of an unhealthy relationship that clouds your mind; have the conversation you can't stop thinking about; or exercise to release negative and low vibrational energies.

Let the space breathe – Go off the grid for a while. Disconnect your phone, put down your pen, no email, no television and no social media. Spend time with just yourself. Don’t busy your mind with more incoming junk. Stay in the space between your thoughts. Listen to your breath, feel the energy in your body. I plan to do this a lot more often!

Be very selective about what you put in there – Now that you’re space is open and clear, you have complete choice about what you allow into your mind space. Be intentional. Only invite stimuli that will nurture your clarity. Monitor what your read, see and speak. Once you're mindful of this it becomes a way of life.

Do away with the Junk Mind – You don’t need it anymore. At this point in organizing a closet or drawer, this is where you would compartmentalize the items as you put them back in the drawer, in nice little neat compartments or dividers. 

But, with a clear mind you actually de-compartmentalize, doing away with the need for separation of thoughts and conflicting voices. With a clear mind, complete alignment with your oneness and universal purpose is not only possible, it’s unstoppable.

Get into daily cleaning - It's an ongoing process. When you see the thoughts gathering to dump into the junk mind stop, breathe and assess. Go back to #1. Meditate and get clear!

And, the bonus? You get to know your Self like never before, stripped bare and clean, open to all possibilities. Just think of the choices you can make from that place?

Happiness? Joy? Love? Peace? Contribution? Friendship? 

Genius.

Related: Start Today, Live Life Anew


Stick to Your Lane

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"I'll have what she's having." ~ When Harry Met Sally

I often marvel at my successful friends. I'm blessed to be surrounded by people who are riding at or near the top of their game, continually reinventing themselves and expanding their capacities for the big lives they're meant to live. 

And, as a person who is continuing to unfold and evolve herself in midlife, watching them brings on a myriad of thoughts and emotions and actions. For one thing, it can be intoxicating! And, riveting. And, thought-provoking. 

And, inspiring. And sometimes I think, maybe if I emulate a few of the things they're doing then that might possibly work for me too. Maybe they know something I don't and should. "I'll have what she's having." 

Ever been there?

Where someone you admire is on a certain track and you wonder somewhere in your always-seeking brain, if you should be on that track too? 

The upside of that is that you can learn a lot: tried and proven tips and techniques to apply to your own work and career path.

The downside? It can lead to that never-a-winner game called Comparison. Where you start looking at your life, comparing it to that person you admire or a career path you might covet or even envy. As Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." It's also the thief of success and certainly of self-fulfillment. Iyanla Vanzant said, "Comparison is an act of violence against the self." It only leaves you in a puddle of dissatisfaction and frustration. 

Hey, it's human to go there. I was there recently, after rejoicing in a friend's big successes, I caught myself in the downward spiral of comparison. Then, it went on to other fabulous friends who are kicking ass too. I started to question what path I was on, if perhaps I should be refocusing in some similar directions. Questioning all things like timing and choices and that started to lead to tiny thoughts of regret. Ugh. 

Well, there's one I did know for sure, and that was this train of thought was going nowhere good.

So, I got quiet. I did some deep work around it with some comrades who held me to my own fire, kept me accountable. I went underneath it, digging for the truths I've relied on over and over again. Then, in the midst of the quiet, when the competing inner voices had been silenced, I got the message I was meant to hear.

And, it was loud and clear: "Stay in your lane."

Stay in your lane.

And, it was an aha. Because the truth is whenever I've ventured over into someone else's lane for awhile, the lane of another writer or creative businesswoman where I want what she's having, I find that, beyond being inspired by them, I'm left chasing my tail and spinning my wheels. Why? Because it's their lane. It's not mine.

As soon as I step back over into my lane I'm reminded of what I do and what I love about what I do. Stay with that, my higher wisdom told me. Ground yourself in there, in the loving impact of your own lane.

It reminded me of a piece I'd written a couple years about a similar topic: 

In a “60 Minutes” interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tony Award-winning creator of the musical HAMILTON, Lin-Manuel talked about attending a school for gifted children. He said he looked around and everyone was smarter than him, he was “surrounded by genius, genius kids.” The interviewer asked him, “So why do you think I’m sitting here talking to you and not one of your classmates?” He said, “I picked a lane and started running faster than anyone else.”

“I picked a lane!” That lane led to the intense hard work and dedication that made him a true pioneer, recreating the modern Broadway musical. And, man is he ever in his purpose. His lane just continues to widen and elevate him and everyone around him.

This time around, it made me think about how sometimes we can lose direction when we try to run in a lane that doesn't lead to our own purposeful work, so much so that we lose sight for a moment of what that was supposed to be. 

When I got that concise, powerful message I felt something shift in my thinking, back to what's in alignment for my truth. The simple truth is I don't want to be in anyone else's lane. No one should. 

It’s just so simple. We make things so complicated at times and comparison, that pesky devil, robs us of living our most intentional and satisfying life. When seeking outside of ourselves - outside our lane - we follow someone else’s lead down their road, ending up chasing a goal or dream that was never ours to begin with. Then, we lose our way, our path becomes less clear, albeit hidden behind something other than our own truth. We then try to override our most meaningful intentions by trying to make them fit a different outcome, rather than simply trusting the truth and power of our own lane.

So, how to get back there? Get still, find your footing again. Then, deal with what's right there, inside you and in front of you. Listen to your own wisdom. Remind yourself what you love and where you're amazing. Remember the reasons you share what you share. Discuss it with your support team, those who know you and have your highest best interests at heart. 

And, follow your heart's deepest intentions.

So, good reminder, yes? I say stick to your lane. And, I'll see you along the way. 


Wise Women, Wise Words - 31 Quotes That Make Us Think

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In honor of International Women's Day and Women's History Month.

Wise words...

ON LOVE

"To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow - this is a human offering that can border on miraculous." Elizabeth Gilbert

“Love yourself first and everything else falls in line.” Lucille Ball

“Choose people who lift you up.” Michelle Obama

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelou

ON SUCCESS

“Done is better than perfect.” Sheryl Sandberg

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” Ayn Rand

“I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.” Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM

 

ON CHOICE 

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” JK Rowling

“We can choose to be perfect and admired. Or to be real and loved.” Glennon Doyle Melton

"Each day is a clean slate. How you fill it is up to you." Cindy Yantis (I couldn't resist!)

ON POSSIBILITY

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” Audrey Hepburn

"I dwell in possibility." Emily Dickinson

“Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”     Golda Meir

 

ON VOICE

“We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced.” Malala Yousafzai

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” Coco Chanel

ON TRUTH & WISDOM

"If you have a longing in your heart to hear a deeper truth, there's a mysterious way in which that truth will find you." Marianne Williamson

"Turn your wounds into wisdom." Oprah Winfrey

ON INNER STRENGTH & POWER

“Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” Mother Teresa

"If you don't know where you're magnificent, no one else will either." Andrea Quinn

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” Margaret Thatcher

ON HUMANITY & COMPASSION

"Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity." Pema Chodron 

“Until the great mass of people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.” Helen Keller

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait for a single moment before starting to improve the world.”       Anne Frank

ON BEAUTY

“I think happiness is what makes you pretty. Period. Happy people are beautiful.” Drew Barrymore

“Look your best – who said love is blind?” Mae West

"Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself." Coco Chanel

 

ON LIFE

“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” Katharine Hepburn

“You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.” Shonda Rhimes

“Owning your story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” Brene Brown

"Well behaved women seldom make history." Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

 

The inspiration and wisdom are endless. I literally could go on forever. So, just rejoicing in women, well behaved or otherwise, today, and always. 


Becoming Seasoned

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“She was a seasoned person.” That was how a woman was described at a celebration of life I recently attended. “She was a seasoned person.” And, everyone nodded in agreement. It was said in such a way that it was an earned recognition, a moniker that came after many, many seasons.

It got me thinking about what that means and what it might take to get there, to become seasoned.

So, what does it mean, to be seasoned?

Certainly there’s something to be said for the years adding seasoning. Experiencing season after season becoming really good at the thing. Vocabulary.com says “seasoned describes a person who has been around forever, doing what they do and doing it well - throughout the seasons.”

I don’t know about being around forever, but certainly when you want to know something about a topic or a skill or an area of interest, you ask someone who is seasoned, or a veteran, at that thing. You want to know about the best way to travel by foot through the south of France, you’d want to ask a seasoned traveler or hiker. You want to know how to craft a meaningful piece of prose or a photograph at dusk, you’d ask a seasoned writer or photographer. You want to find a leader for your sales force or legal department, you’d ask a seasonal professional in those fields for the best results.

When one goes through the seasons, there’s a maturation process that naturally occurs. So it stands to reason that being seasoned is a goal of maturing in life.

But, I love this idea of becoming a seasoned person in life. What is it besides experience in a field of study or industry that makes someone seasoned? Someone who has rich depth of character and possession of vast qualities. Someone who displays and lives a multitude of flavors when it comes to interests and conversation and relationships and tones of attitude.

What flavors add rich seasoning to the palate of life?

  • Yes, experience does add seasoning
  • Laughter adds seasoning
  • Pain adds seasoning
  • Grief adds seasoning
  • Deep love adds seasoning
  • Longing adds seasoning
  • Thirst for constant learning adds seasoning
  • Thought that leads to change adds seasoning
  • Contributing knowledge to new ideas adds seasoning
  • Seeing and feeling the colors of the world add seasoning
  • Having a difficult conversation adds seasoning

A seasoned person knows who they are.

A seasoned person trusts that their wisdom, knowledge and experience is embodied. It just is. And can be called upon at all times.

A seasoned person doesn’t play games. They don’t have to.

A seasoned person doesn’t care so much anymore about what people think of them or what they do or how they do it. 

Even when there is stress, a seasoned person handles it because they know they have the tools, the ingredients, to deal with it. 

A seasoned person that continues to enrich their lives isn’t afraid to add new flavors to the mix. In fact, they seek them out.

“The seasoned woman is going to offer a more seasoned character. “ Robin Wright

A dear friend was visiting for the weekend and we were cooking dinner together, trying a new recipe that included the pungent Egyptian dukkah seasoning, to be added to the roasted sweet potatoes, cabbage and onions. Okay, I have a sensitive palate so I don’t do spicy well. In other words, if something’s too spicy it ruins it for me. She, on the other hand, was a big fan. And, I wanted to be game. So, she suggested adding the heavy spice to half and lightly seasoning the other half. Then, if I tasted it and liked it we could mix the two together. So, I did and we did. It was intensely herby and delicious.

It got me thinking how being a multi-dimensional and layered seasoned person means trying new things, new experiences, new ideas that add to the mixture of life. New flavors tossed into the marinade.

The beauty of becoming seasoned is that it’s organic, it’s gradual. It’s natural human transformation. It’s evolving into being our most authentic selves.

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu

Becoming seasoned is not settling, but rather grounding into purpose.

Do I feel seasoned? At times, you bet I do. What’s interesting is I’m living into it, embracing it, actually rejoicing in it, a little more each day. Those little moments that present themselves when I say, “I’ve got this. This is easy.” Those things that I’m able to do without laboring, without stress, and with calm and grace. 

And, those things that are a challenge but I trust that I know how to fortitude through.

Those things that I’ve practiced, studied, nurtured, worked, worn, expressed, chewed, swallowed, cooked, massaged, explored, exfoliated, babied, battered, battled, loved and owned. For years. 

“In time we grow older, we grow wiser, we grow smarter, and we're better. And I feel like I'm becoming more seasoned, although I don't have my salt-and-pepper hair.”  Usher

Yeah, I’m seasoned and damn happy about it. You?


The Subtle Difference Between Giving Up and Letting Go

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Photo by Felix Russell-Saw

She had bright orange hair that kinked around the nape of her neck. She wore a black lace miniskirt, black tights and combat boots. With a smile that lit up the room and a hyena giggle that pierced it. She greeted everyone by name and with interest. She’s my favorite Coffee Bean barrister and on that day, when I was still sitting on the edges of victimhood after my computer was stolen, she woke me up and got me present.

As I watched her interact with a woman, going beyond your basic barrister and customer moment, I was surprised as I got tears in my eyes. I was suddenly really emotional.

It continued throughout the morning. But, what I realized is that they weren’t tears of sadness or loss. I had certainly shed several tears bearing those descriptions. No, these were tears of gratitude. And, hope. And little flickers of joy. Life. Humanity.

I choose this.

I was still feeling anger and wanted vengeance at some level. I’d just received a denial of claim from the valet company who’d parked my car when it was robbed, which felt like being victimized all over again. And, was getting no response from the garage company where my car was vandalized. I wanted to see the security camera footage. I wanted to catch someone to make someone responsible for the crime. Every morning I woke up with a nervous stomach. The butterflies of vengeance.

Then I saw this Lao Tzu quote: “Victimhood is staying in the suffering.”

Those feelings of gratitude, as surprising as they came, softened the edge of vengeance enough to see through it.

Gratitude reminded me that to dig deep into my own personal power for what to do next. Gratitude reminded me that people are good and most often want to do the right thing.

I appealed to a person at the valet company, with kindness, with directness. And, it worked. They paid for my broken window. Gratitude.

My insurance company (Liberty Mutual rocks) took care of me. I felt heard, believed and resolved. More gratitude.

I felt empowered. Which I realized was the antidote to the suffering. The key to unlock the gate in order to leave victim-hood.

But, could I put it behind me? The nervous stomach still persisted. It still gnawed at me that someone needed to pay for what they did. But, I noticed that what was really underneath the nervousness was something more.

The thing is, I really wanted to just move on. But, I felt guilty about that. Was I giving up if I let them get away with committing a crime against me, and who knows how many others? Why did I want to pursue it? Because, I felt guilty if I didn’t.

Is it giving up if I let it go? Or if I let it go, is that giving up?

It got me thinking about the difference between giving up and letting go. It seems there’s a fine line between them yet they’re vastly different. It comes down to the feeling behind it, the intention inside it, and the embodiment of it. It's a mindset shift.

Then, it got me thinking about all of the other areas in life where giving up or letting go can either hold you down or set you free. Where things didn’t happen like you’d planned. Where a dream fell short of realization, over and over again. Or when you wake up one day and look around at your life and things aren’t what you thought they’d be. 

In this context of giving up:

Giving up is staying stuck in the what ifs. The if-only’s. The I-won’t-be-successful-unless-that-thing-happens. The expectations that start to feel unhealthy.

Giving up is the stomach ache. It’s catching your breath and holding it. It’s shoulders that hug your ears. It’s the energy that gets stuck. It feels heavy. Like being deep under water and holding your breath, in the moment right before panic sets in.

Giving up feels sad and like failure. Falling just short, or way short. Always wondering what could have been. It feels like letting yourself down or letting another down who might have invested time and energy.

Giving up is a never-ending feeling of not quite getting there, of feeling less than.

Giving up is rooted in regret.

It can live in your psyche and permeate everything. Giving up shackles you to the very thing you’re trying to release.

Giving up keeps you in the past.

Letting go, on the other hand, is a beautiful release.

Letting go is acknowledgment of the ending of something, a moment, a life phase, an exhausted effort, a situation that doesn’t serve anymore. Whether it's a relationship or a job or a long ago goal imagined in a former self.

Letting go is releasing what isn’t working anymore. What you have no control over. Events in the past that have nothing to do with the present. That can’t be changed because they’re over with, gone, dead and buried in the past which has nothing to do with right now.

"Letting go is the exhale." Andrea Quinn

Letting go feels like a full breath with an exhale that courses all the way through the body. It feeds the present not the past. It fills it up while at the same time creates alive energetic space where the “stuff” has been taking up room.

Letting go is an unlocking.

It’s the oxygen tank under the water.

It’s air.

It’s the turbo fuel injection.

It’s freedom.

With letting go, comes clarity. It clears the fog.

Letting go is removing yourself from the one-foot-in-one-foot-out syndrome. You know that place, right?

The profound gratitude was the beginning, the way in, to letting go for me.

I was still holding the grief and violation in my body so went to see a wonderful reiki healer who helped me to work the energy out, to release it.

It was during that session when I felt a complete and full feeling of gratitude that it all happened. I actually felt grateful that the event happened.

I released the attachment to the violation. It was something that happened to me, but I let go of the suffering. And, the guilt for wanting to move on.

Letting go put it in my past where it actually is anyway.

Letting go is a 4-letter word. Letting go is love.

Related: Letting Go is a Four-Letter Word where I go into more depth on the subject of Letting Go

Giving up or letting go is a matter of choice.

What’s the solution, not what’s the excuse?” Jack Canfield

Sometimes, it’s a deep-seated desire or lifelong dream that you’re not ready to give up on. The feeling of giving it up can feel like you’re giving up on yourself. Believe me, I'm a lifelong proponent of not giving up on your deepest dreams. 

But, this is where letting go becomes a powerful tool for not giving up on yourself, where you move out of victimhood and into empowerment.

The language of victimhood is full of blame and self-pity and resentment and regret and excuses.

The language of empowerment is about the solutions and taking back your power and letting go of the energy that’s keeping you stagnant.

"When you don’t want to let go of it yet, trust that there’s a better way." Dina Strada

The empowering choice is to let go of old expectations around it, of what you wanted it to be or thought it would look like, all those years ago.

The empowering choice is to change the thoughts within the dream or goal or relationship. It all starts there. 

Give that desire or dream or goal or relationship a fresh conversation. Bring it into the here and now. Modernize it. Give is a new wardrobe. Apply today’s technology to it. Reframe it. Be open to a new way.

For me, the clarity that came from letting go of what happened with my computer, and all of the stuff that come along with that situation, has freed me to look more closely at what's really important. To inventory other things I've been hanging onto, dreams and otherwise. Reviewing and releasing some. Reframing, changing the thoughts and conversation around others. Recommitting in a new way.

That's letting go, not giving up. 

 


Want Some Purpose? Follow Your Big, Beautiful, Badass Heart

 Tim-marshall-heart hands

Photo by Tim Marshall

I was naked from the waist up, except for a thin paper vest that opened in the front. I felt very vulnerable and not a little bit nervous. 

The technician was kind, but definitely was moving through her day by rote, and seemed bored when moments before she'd called my name in the waiting room, introducing herself in a monotone voice. “I’m Julie. I’ll be doing your echocardiogram.”

A few weeks earlier I'd been driving across Los Angeles when I suddenly had no idea where I was, literally didn't know what city I was in nor what day or time it was. I literally said out loud, "Where am I?" It was pretty scary. I'd also been having rapid heart palpitations. So, I was there for some answers. 

As I lay down on the table, trying to wrap the flimsy paper around me like a robe, I said, “I’ve never had an echo before.” She grunted, which I took to mean, “Yeah, so? I've done hundreds.”

Instead, she said flatly, “Lay on your left side,” after which, with cold precision, and cold fingers, she connected me to the machine by gluing electro pads onto my chest.

She turned the monitor, so I could see. The dark pumping mass that was my heart took up the screen.

I watched the monitor as a massive electrical storm ensued. Inside the deep purple pulsating cloud was a continual flash of crazy lightning in a spectrum of color and intensity.

“It’s like a thunder and lightning storm inside my heart.”

“Yes, it is.” She could have said, 'Uh huh."

It was a mind-blowing concept, for me anyway, in that moment. I’d only really thought of the heart in terms of feeling. As in heartfelt expressing, or a heart full of love, or a broken heart because of sadness or pain. I mean I've actually done a ton of work around living and being in an open heart. 

But, this, seeing this, alive and outside of my body, all lit up and frenetic, it was a combination of delicate mechanism and a powerful electromagnetic force all at once.

“My heart is badass,” I said. Finally, a hint of a smile. 

Then the tears flowed. I surprised myself with how emotional I became. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt splayed raw and exposed. You'd think I might have been embarrassed, given the constant stream of tears. But, I wasn't. It was beautiful. I truly couldn't believe I was watching my own heartbeat. It wasn't some blip, blip on a monitor. It was my own heart, up close and personal. 

As she maneuvered the cursor, carefully taking measurements and notes, I felt a warmth seep down over my head, what I can only describe as love and a protective awe for this organ that I take for granted. And, at the same time, I was enamored and held captive by its sheer strength and will. 

Suddenly, I felt a kinship with Julie, this stranger with whom I was sharing this incredibly intimate moment. I asked her if she knew how lucky she was to be able to explore hearts all day long.

An eyebrow raised.

I asked her what she was looking for. She snickered and said, “There’s so much going on in there; there are numerous things we look for.” I paused. 

“It’s so incredibly profound to be witnessing my own power source. I could look at it all day,” I said.

She said, “I’ve been doing this for five years and no one has ever said that.”

I knew I was getting all woo-woo on her, but I didn’t care. She needed to know what an incredibly moving thing this was. I asked her what she found the most rewarding about her job. She said, "It’s the knowledge and understanding of what I’m seeing. I know exactly what’s wrong or not and the doctor relies on my knowledge. I show him what to look for."

Then, I felt and saw her pride in what she does. She is honored to be with hearts all day long. And, I saw her desire to be seen. And, so I gave her some heartfelt recognition. She looked at me for a moment.

"Everything looks good," she said. "Although I'm not the one that's supposed to tell you that." 

I exhaled. My attention drifted back to the monitor.

It got me thinking. If that lil old heart's been beating the same consistent, reliable rhythm every second of every moment of every day for my entire life, then who am I to live a less than meaningful or purposeful life? It was like, how dare I? I owe it to my heart to live full out.

So, if the heart is your power source, shouldn't it have a say in things? 

Sure, you're the one making the moves and taking steps toward what you want. But, for a purpose-filled life, the heart is the true navigator. Our very own hearts provide the blueprint for how to live.

And, really, it's a seamless balance of both following the heart and leading with the heart. When you "center" yourself, it's settling into this balance.

Lead with your heart

What does that mean? It means being respectful of life.

It means using the heart as a lens through which everything filters.

Have something you want to say? Maybe it's a difficult conversation? Take a moment and filter it through your heart. Process the words through that love mechanism and the right words will always appear.

Follow your heart

Trying to make a decision? Allow your heart to lead the way.

Trim the fat. Always ask yourself the question, “Is this what my heart wants to do?” Truly. It trims the fat from the decision.

Follow the heart-speak. She’s the ultimate GPS guide, a deeply rooted Siri, the one who knows, really knows, what you want and where you're going.

It makes you want to take excellent care of your heart. Which means we are also its pit crew. Making sure there’s fuel and exercise or training to keep it strong. And, the right amount of rest.

Listen to the clues for when she tells you something is off. For me, that little episode in the car was my heart's way of telling me my thyroid medication was too strong. A small adjustment was all that was needed and we were back on our way.

Your heart knows your purpose. Ask her. Listen to her. Honor her. Love her.

After I got dressed and tossed the paper robe away, I noticed my beating heart was still up on the monitor. I stood there for several moments, just watching it pump and thrive.

I reached up and placed a hand kiss on the screen. “I've got you," I said. "And, I’m counting on you.  To lead me. To point the way. I’ll follow you anywhere.”

You can’t go wrong when you follow your big, beautiful, badass heart.


The Moon Had a Message - It Was Simple and Profound

 It could be meant for you too

Ganapathy-kumar-163082

The moon woke me up.

4 a.m. and I was wide awake. I could practically feel its energy and like a magnet, a moon magnet, a lunar longing, it pulled me out of bed and outside in robe and slippers, just as the eclipse of the super blue blood moon was beginning.

I texted my sister in Austin to see if she was watching. She was, so we texted as we watched it together.

I tried taking pictures, to capture the view that my naked eye saw. But, nothing came close so I gave up and stayed with the moon. It was incredible as a deep, blood orange veil eased over the pale blue orb.

It was chilly so I got in my car and continued watching through the moonroof. And, it was in that container, my car, that I was able to self-contain and connect to the truly awesome cosmic experience. 

For several moments the moon remained blood orange as I thought about how it woke me out of a dead sleep. It almost felt urgent.

So, what the heck, I decided to ask her. "Is there something you need to tell me?"

I recalled a man I know who once had a profound entheogenic journey with the moon. He was in the middle of a spiritually transformative experience while utilizing the ancient plant medicine, Iboga, an African shrub root still used in rituals and healing journeys, when the moon gave him a deep message about his life.

It wasn’t through plant medicine that I felt this deep connection to the spectacular moon before me, at least not this time, but I felt like if I listened intently there might be something there for me too. It's often said that during a full moon it's a good time to release what isn't working anymore and to set your intentions, your goals for what you desire in life. But, in that moment, sitting in awe of her strength and beauty, all I wanted to do was question her.

What do you want to say? I asked. What am I to know? What can I receive from you? Is there something I should be doing? I asked these questions and more, out loud. And then I shut up. My eyes locked on her and I listened. Just listened, for a long time. 

It got me thinking about the power and life of the moon. For that remarkable moon event to occur a lot needed to meet all at once. It's been a long time coming and the moon showed up effortlessly to do its thing. Just think about all that had to happen for these to take place in concert: a supermoon (extra large because it's closest in it's orbit to the Earth), a blue moon (the second full moon in a month), a total lunar eclipse (when the sun, Earth and moon line up) and a blood moon (the moon turns red as it passes through the Earth's shadow).

Lots of preparation had to take place, astrological planning and movement and alignment had to happen precisely to meet this particular window of opportunity, this moment in time. This was her moment. And she was ready for it.

She seemed to be waiting for my stillness, for my full attention. Then, I got it.

The moon itself was illustrating its message: This is your moment.

My whole body relaxed as I opened up and received the following message from her. And, the hit I got was that it most likely wasn't a message just for me, which is why I'm sharing it. 

The Moon's Message:

This is your time.

You’ve done all of the prep work. In fact, you’ve spent a lifetime in preparation. Everything you've done has brought you here, to this moment in time. You’ve spent a lifetime of intake, studying, learning, watching, improving, gathering input.

Now is the time for output, for visibility, for communicating, by expressing intimately as well as globally, with one person and many. For imparting what you know.

You have the knowledge and wisdom. Within your stories, and you have many, you have much to share. And, you know, you know how. 

It’s all coming to you. The more you use your voice, express your thoughts, share yourself, teach others, the more will come, is coming. It’s already in your field of ownership. In your flow of momentum.

Trust what you know. Trust your life experience. Trust that you’ll do it your way, authentically. Don’t worry how others are doing it. Trust your intelligence. Trust your voice. Trust your words. Trust your body, it always knows when you’re in the flow, in alignment. Trust your mind. Trust your spirit. Trust yourself.

Trust what you love.

This is your time. Everything is in alignment with where you’re supposed to be and what you’re to do, right now. And, when it’s not, trust that you’ll know that too.

No more waiting, questioning, doubting, worrying.

Own your shadows. Behind the brightness and light there is always shadow, where growth takes place. And, sometimes, as with the moon, your shadows are going to show. That's okay. Don't judge them. Don't get lost in them but rather mine the gems and lessons. They will serve you in your best moments. 

"We are all like the bright moon. We still have our darker side." Kahlil Gibran

Embrace the decluttering. This is the reason things have been removed from your field of ownership. To cause a pause, an opening, space, more room to settle into what's real. [For me, it was a stolen computer. Think about where you've cleared or cleaned out space, or perhaps something you might have lost.] 

So, go deep, into deep wisdom. Communicate from there. Love from there. Live from there. Be, from there.

It was like getting a permission slip from the grand master teacher.

What happened next brought it all together in a way that only moon, the sun, God and universal source could do.

As the moon set, from where I watched the entire western sky was a luminous pink. What the super blue blood moon manifested by shining in her moment, in her time, was absolute splendor. A splendor that spread over and permeated everything within its sphere. In fact, as the moon set, the sky in its rich glow, remained. The moon left a lasting impression, an impact that touched so many, just by being all that it had prepared to be.

The message continued:

When you are in your time, in alignment with your truth, your soul's work, your supermoon divinity, the result is a splendor of life riches which will have a lasting impact not only on you but on everything and everyone you come into contact with. 

Then, as the moon hung for a final few moments, it greeted the most glorious sunrise. It was as if they both acknowledged each other’s beauty and purpose in their collective duty to serve the universe. It was as if the sun said, "Well done." And, the moon responded, "You take it from here." It was awesome to witness.

The next morning as I left home before dawn, the still super blue moon was hanging high above a crystal blue horizon. Once again bidding a bonjour and adieu to the sun as it rose with a gold and orange fanfare.

And, it got me thinking about how she's still in her moment, this moment. It’s still her time. She showed up to do her job. She didn't sit back and rest on her laurels, convincing herself that her moment had past or stop herself out of fear that she won't be able to live up to her previous splendor. No, because what happened the night before only further solidified her purpose, her power, her strength, her time, as she just continues to express herself, shining her light as only she can. She's the friggin' moon. It's always her time. 

As I drove toward my destination I passed a billboard that said, and I kid you not:

#ThisIsYourTime

You just can’t make this stuff up.

It was a sign, on a sign.

So, if there was something that resonated with you in that very cool message from the moon, that stayed with you, that hit you where you live, then it's definitely meant for you too.

This is your time. Trust it. Be it. Live it. Own it.


A Stolen Laptop, a Cautionary Tale and a Phoenix

Ben-white-199953
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

“Where are the cars parked?” I asked the valet attendant.

“Behind the restaurant, inside a garage,” he said.

“So it’s secure? I have my computer in here,” I said. 

“Yes,” he said and nodded. For whatever reason, I felt safe enough to take his word for it. To trust.

Two hours later, you guessed it, when the same driver brought my car back around, the passenger window had been shattered and the one thing taken out of my car was the leather bag containing my MacBook Pro, which had been placed in the dark bag on the black floor, in a locked car inside their secured garage. To say I was suspicious was an understatement. And, believe me, I didn’t like feeling that way. I believe in people. I trust in people.

I’d like to say I was clear-minded, pummeling questions at the driver and his manager. I’d like to say I had the wherewithal to investigate. Instead, I crumbled, right there on the street outside The Village restaurant in Studio City. Thankfully I was with my dear friend who had a much clearer head than I did. She supervised the situation and helped me navigate.

She said, “Please tell me you’re backed up.” The blood drained from my face. Mouth cotton dry. Crying loudly on Ventura Blvd. Feeling stupid and angry at myself and then scared about the unknowns that surrounded me. Who took it? Why did they take it? Was it just for the hardware? Identity theft? It was a deep pit in my stomach.

This is what violation felt like.

Because here’s the thing. I knew the instant my computer was gone that I hadn’t properly backed it up. And, so much was lost. Beyond the photos and memories, so much deep writing. Gone. A novel I’d been working on. Gone, along with all of my notes. Drafts of screenplays. First drafts of articles not yet published. So much creation. Gone.

Then, I entered the phase of police reports and insurance claims and claims against the valet company and changing passwords and Lifelock memberships and phone calls to Apple and texts and calls from family and friends offering support and advice and shoulders.

This was what violation felt like. This is what being the victim of crime felt like.

And, because I have no idea if the computer was wiped clean right away or if the thieves took a tour of my virtual home, I vacillated, still vacillate, between feeling like my virtual house went up in flames, and feeling like I’m stark naked with my intimate personal info stamped across my forehead as the sleazy characters stroll leisurely around, looking at me and everything else, and I can’t cover myself up or do anything about it.

I honestly think, after a week of wondering, that it’s the former of those two scenarios. Hardware wiped clean and sold. I’m actually now praying that’s what happened.

Also, in my computer bag were three journals, two old ones, some of the source material for the memoir I’m writing, along with my newest one. I had them all with me because that morning I spent some really great time writing at Coffee Bean before heading into the office.

The memoir, and all files associated it with it, also gone. Although, the first saving grace in all of this, and there are several, is I emailed myself a draft about a month ago. Grace.

Another, for which I’m so grateful, I still have my old laptop. So, older files, photos, original drafts and records are still there. For whatever reason, it doesn’t really matter now what it was, I didn’t back up my new one, for the past 2.5 years.

I went home that night and powered up my old laptop. And, in the midst of my heartbreak, which I couldn’t yet define, a warm feeling came over me, like after being embraced by an old friend. That old 15-inch Mac, my old faithful, with the wallpaper painting that always made me smile – Vladimir Kush’s Diary of Discoveries – gave me a place to land that night. It felt like restart point, or at least a familiar resting point.

And, then, after a couple of long days and sleepless nights, when I wanted to journal again, I pulled out an old favorite and started in the middle where I’d left off back then, 15 years earlier.

We Join This Program Already in Progress

It got me thinking about where I was after the loss. My first thought was that I had to start over, with all that was gone. But, the truth is I was starting over mid-scene. Mid-step. In the middle of the dance. Midsentence. In progress. As in, we are joining this program already in progress.

I can’t pick up where I left off because where I left off, as it was all written, doesn’t exist anymore.

I found myself wanting to dig and see what was there, what is still there, of what I’d created. What would rise out of the ashes of those lost files, forgotten words once expressed to be revisited another time, characters developed, broken down plots, heroines and heroes conceived and nurtured until they were on their own, photographs flashed to capture moments now passed.

I closed my eyes and suddenly the image of a phoenix appeared before me.

The Phoenix Rises

A phoenix is a magnificent, mythical bird with wild colorful plumes that burns itself to ashes every 500 years and then is born again, signifying regeneration and renewal. If someone or something is a phoenix, it means they return again after seeming to disappear or be destroyed. Out of the ashes of the disaster, a phoenix of recovery can rise.

What happens to the phoenix after it rises? What becomes of the ashes? Does a phoenix go back and sift through its ashes for remnants of what was left behind? All questions coursing through my mind.

"You've seen my descent, now watch my rising." ~ Rumi  

What is my phoenix?

I had dinner the next night with some dear friends, all of whom are successful writers, working professionals. I love these dinners. We’ve been getting together, the same group, for 18 years. We always do an around-the-table catch-up and it’s been a joy to be alongside them as their careers have risen. And, these women are killing it with lots of exciting things – bestselling books, TV shows, movies – out in the world and currently in creation. Usually, I’m a much more lively participant, giddy for everyone.

But, that night I still had ashes in my head and in my ears, which made everything a bit muted and cloudy. I kept thinking about all of my own creations that were in the ashes as well. And, that victim part of me that was still very much present felt like I would never catch up because I was going to have to start over.

I thought a lot about the dinner over the weekend as I purposefully stayed quiet, in meditation, prayer and with pen in hand.

And, here’s what happened. I was visited several more times by the image of my phoenix. And each time, something floated up from the ashes.

Creation. Over and again. Creation. Create. That was the gift from the dinner with my incredibly talented friends.

Remembering that creativity is my lifeforce.

Creativity is my resilience.

My phoenix is just that.

The Phoenix of Re-creation and Creation

And, the re-creation isn’t wracking my brain cells searching for the words and ideas I’ve lost. Not to wallow in the ashes of mourning. I have to believe a rising phoenix wouldn’t do that either.

But, rather re-creation is to mine the ashes, for the gold, for the wisdom that rises to the surface, and to trust that the best parts of creation will float up and remain, providing a new foundation that builds at the level of season, wisdom and embodied knowledge and ideas.

That’s where new creation begins. I can work with that. As my brilliant friend, writer/director/producer Kelli Bennett says all the time, “Create from what you have.”

I have to believe what’s coming from this will be more streamlined, focused and on purpose.

My higher-self showed me how much clutter was actually stored on that stolen laptop. I captured everything, every little wisp of an idea, saving it for a time when I’d get to it. And, most of them lived there, ignored.

It will be really interesting what plays out in all of this cleared space. One thing’s true. I can’t stop writing.

Phoenix Guiding Principles

So many things have bubbled up as a result of this crime, much of which will take some time to process and release: shame, anger and regret to name a few. But, what the phoenix is showing me, the way to heal is by remembering my own guiding principles.

To start by being present. To stop reliving the moment, rewriting the scene in my head, where I took the bag with me instead of leaving it the car. It’s over and done with. I can’t change what happened so replaying it with what I’d have done differently isn’t helpful.

And, then doubling down on the tenets I try to live by, the values that rise like the Phoenix, and take me from feeling helpless to feeling empowered again.

Gratitude
Kindness
Compassion
Truth
Honesty
Positivity
Creativity
Trust (I still do and will, only now with a bit more discernment)
Love


And, a really big one that is the gateway to finally letting go and releasing all with the ashes: Forgiveness. Forgiving myself as well as forgiving those who victimized me. Not quite there yet, but I know that’s the key to being free to really rise.

So, please, please, please learn from my cautionary tale. Back that shit up. Protect yourself. And, listen to that little voice, the one that said 'take your bag', the one that always knows what’s best.