Indeed, some of us don't know how to let go and let loose. It is very uncomfortable. But just as the polarity is, we mull in the dismal or constraint and we lose balance in life. We teeter into, dare I say, darkness.
So for those of you who are on the proverbial "dark side" of fun, let's start by acknowledging this. Awareness is the first step to all healing. Let's start to breathe-- l o o o o o o o o o n g, deeeeeeeeep breaths. Inhaling and exhaling through our nostrils. Feeling the breath press the diaphragm muscle down with each inhale, bringing that air deep into our bellies and then up to our chest and shoulders. With each exhale, allowing the chest to fall, drawing our navel towards the spine, pulling that diaphragm up for a complete breath out. And continue with this breath until you feel calm.
Now keep breathing and ask yourself what's bugging you? Let's call whatever holds you back "fear". Be it actual fear of something or someone or an idea or negative self-talk or shame or guilt or anger or frustration, confusion, neediness or depression or some trauma or trigger that perhaps you cannot even pinpoint-- or maybe you can. Let's call it all "fear" for now.
After that beautiful, calming breathing you've done (which you can continue for as long as you like), think about this "fear" from this safe space. Do be sure you are in a safe space! Keep breathing, bring the fear to your awareness and begin to notice the sensations and feelings that come up. What does it feel like? Where do you feel it? Can you name this feeling? Is it stress? Is it grief? Low self-worth? Imposter syndrome? Stay with this until you can get a good sense of what it is you're feeling. Ask this feeling, why are you here? What do you need me to know? What are you trying to protect me from? What happens if I don't listen to you?
I know this doesn't sound like having fun but stay with me here.....
Now, consider what the opposite of this feeling would be? The opposite of the negative feeling. What would it look like? Allow yourself to feel it as if it is happening. What sensations arise? Where do you feel it in your body? Cherish it. Believe in it. Hold on to this feeling. Stay here until you've embodied the feeling-- meaning you are getting all those juicy, positive vibes from this feeling you created with your thoughts.
This is a little more fun, right?
Now ask yourself, what do I need to do to get to here? Listen in the silent space for your answer. Allow it to come from your gut, your heart, your feelings..... in other words your Soul. The language of your Soul is emotions. If it feels like you are in your headspace (the realm of the logical ego), go back to your feelings and then ask again. What do I need to do? Oftentimes these answers will come instantly. And oftentimes your logical mind might voice its opposing opinion. Try to stay with those initial, instinctual responses. The ones from your depth of heart and soul.
Alot of times, you are already starting to feel better and lighter, even before the solutions step. You may need to stay with these first steps for a bit or revisit them again before you can continue. The important healing has started: you are stopping to take notice. Your Soul needed you to listen and, feeling heard, you will begin to feel better. But let's finish this..... (If you need to do this multiple times to get past certain steps, it's totally alright!)
Now, your beautiful mind gets to help with this last step. Take action. Heed the answers your Soul brought to light and figure out how to make it happen. Have compassion for yourself. Know that sometimes you might not take your Soul's advice but, if you do that, acknowledge that you are purposely choosing not to do that. Again, awareness is key. You might act against your answers because a) you're not ready, you're feeling fear again--maybe another aspect of fear or b) you feel better just from the earlier steps and so you no longer feel the need to act. Either way, know that this "fear" voice will persistently come to you until you listen and act. It may take another form, in another situation, at a different time, but heed its needs you must, at some point. You want to not only feel better at the moment; you want to completely heal.
Now we're having fun.
It's from this space of self-awareness, self-compassion, and self-healing that you build a strong sense of self-love. And from self-love --true love of yourself-- you can let go and have fun! You can strike the right balance in life because you don't actually want extreme highs and extreme lows. In your self-aware state, you can enjoy life on your terms, for your whole Self.
And isn't that fun?
Yes. It is.
Inspiring, powerful, reflective, alliterative, genius. Not to mention a profound reminder of the power of art, voice, youth, and the message of unity. Thank you, Amanda Gorman, for this beautiful presentation of your insightful picture on our country and democracy.
I love to observe the parallels between our macro and micro worlds. Micro--our work on connecting with our inner compass; sorting through large and subtle internal, historical and ancestral traumas; finding our outward expression; and creating an empowered life aligns with all that must be done to unite our people, country and our place in the greater world--the macro. In the trials, the polarities, the conflicts seen in the world, if we pay attention we can see and feel these same struggles in ourselves. We work on ourselves powerfully to create powerful change beyond us, no matter what that looks like. Each of our contributions matter; each of us matter. As the newly sworn-in US President stated, unity amidst a deep divide is critical. Alignment and balance within ourselves require this attention as well. Notice your inner conflicts. notice the divides where your heart and mind are at odds.
The inaugural poem. I've never truly felt the need to memorize and recite poetry but this one..... yes.
With highest respect and hopes that I've captured it correctly,* I've transcribed the poem here:
"The Hill We Climb"
Amanda Gorman, poet laureate
When day comes, we ask ourselves:
"Where can we find light in this never-ending shade?"
The loss we carry, a sea we must wade, we braved the belly of the beast.
We've learned that quiet
isn't always peace;
and the norms and notions of what "just is"
isn't always Just-ice.
And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it,
somehow we do it,
somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation
that isn't broken
but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming President,
only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes, we are far from polished,
far from pristine, but that doesn't mean
we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge a union with Purpose
to compose a country committed
to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes
not to what stands between us
but what stands before us.
We close the divide
because we know to put our future first we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms
to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew;
That even as we hurt, we hoped;
That even as we tired; we tried;
That we will forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid.
If we're to live up to our own time,
then victory won't lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we've made,
is the promise to glade,
the hill we climb if only we dare.
It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It's the past we step into and how we repair it.
We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,
would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption. We feared in its inception
we did not feel prepared
to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power
to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter
to ourselves. SO --
while once we asked, "How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?" Now we assert:
"How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?"
We will not march it back to what was
but move to what shall be, a country that is
bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted
because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens but one thing is certain....
if we merge mercy with might
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
our children's birthright.
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left.
With every breath
in my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West;
we will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution;
we will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states;
we will rise from the sunbaked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover. In every known nook of our nation
and every corner called our country; our people diverse and beautiful.
We'll emerge battered and beautiful. When day comes,
we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it,
for there is always light
if only we're brave enough to see it,
if only we're brave enough to be it.
THERE IS ALWAYS LIGHT.....LET'S SEEK IT OUT CONTINUOUSLY, AND THEN "...LOVE BECOMES OUR LEGACY".
*I'll edit once I see the poem released by Amanda Gorman.
Ever since I read My Grandmother's Hands by Resmaa Menakem and started a book discussion group on it, I keep pondering his idea of culture and how do we change our culture? What even IS culture, and our culture here in the US? What do we like, what do we not like? Honoring the many great things that created this culture to which many immigrants fled to be a part of, what can we recognize as unjust and ill-conceived? What do we need to weed out, what do we want to change and how?
From my interpretation on the reading, I believe culture starts from within. Trauma --both subtle and overt, current, historical and ancestral-- shape who we are, how we respond, and our view of reality. These traumas form what looks like our personality. Trauma that impacts the family looks like family traits. Trauma that impacts a people looks like culture. Changing a culture would require the desired change in "the tribe"...... and that change happens from a spark--one voice that projects and touches the hearts and minds of its neighbors and beyond. And, a major shake-up certainly helps create space for those voices to land. Enter our 2020 experience. What a shake-up to create the perfect environment for change!! Person by person, community by community, and in the age of the Internet, more potential for reach far and wide.
Are you ready to open up to this change? A change for social justice and a culture that creatively loves and supports one another? Starting with self-healing and turning inwards to be truthful with ourselves and to know our Truth, we can begin to grow into a personality that values daily practice of love for all living things. The more of us that chooses healing and builds our own capacities, the more that spreads, and the more it can change culture. A culture that cares, supports and lives curiously with others through conversation, connection, public policy and more. MLK Jr said, "Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness". I think this is what we get to discover in ourselves in listening for our Truth. In healing and clearing so we can hear our inner voice of peace and equanimity and vision and justice for all.
Personally, the more I listen to the many new voices creating podcasts and read the writings of the people who inspire me, the people I admire, the models who pave a path for me to see my own path, the more I know that if I listen closely and stay deeply connected with the true depth of meaning and value for my life, I will be like these people I admire. Only, it'll be in my own way and with my own voice. It's frightening and exhilarating at the same time.
For sure, this is only done in concert with the necessary work of self-healing. It has taken some years to get here but, thankfully, within these years I have felt dramatic progress steadily along the way and very often it is this progress that motivated the next progress. You need not look that far ahead, simply the next step into "right action". These are ongoing practices and continued seeking of community and like-minded voices-- as well as those who do not think like me --are a cornerstone for momentum. It is, in fact, often the voices of the latter that give me deeper pause and reflection. For the dichotomy of thoughts or the polarities of life is what often creates the most clear spotlight on vital matters. It is that which evokes the strongest of emotions that sometimes was/is the necessary spark to create the most impactful change or shift in thinking.
This year, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr, I listened to a podcast with host Marianne Williamson and her guest, MLK Jr's daughter Reverend Bernice King. Through this interview, I kept hearing the message that activism is part of our work here and that MLK's words on sacrifice were akin to the sacrifice of Jesus and other such stories of heroic peoples. MLK said: "Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable..... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals". This makes me think of my recent journal writing on "what we give up" and the fear of losing privileges, comfort, convenience, and a way of life to which we've become accustomed. What must we sacrifice? Are we prepared to struggle? Can we understand that struggle can simply mean our own personal angst in dealing with any sort of change, and ultimately that struggle creates a positive change and depth within us?
Marianne and the Reverend King end the interview with the idea that, while we look to our history of great people who sacrificed and led the way, these days the sacrifice and leadership is truly collective. Perhaps that can feel like a relief to those of us who feel yet ill-equipped for a huge, solo entry into boldness but still wish to pursue social justice and change in our world. But step forward we must. As a collective. As the Reverend Bernice King said, it must be a way of life, these steps for justice. What would that look like for you?
Still the start of 2021 and things seem to be taking shape through positive vibrational currents in the minds of many more of us. I feel it and I see it happening. I see that collective altruism and multi-level leadership or leadership by abilities-- what is your best role? MLK Jr Day is a day of service and celebration. "Give voice to your heart"* especially on this day, but let it be a spark of renewal and commitment for the year going forward. It takes every one of us to change a culture. I trust that these are the individual steps within a collective that will create a brighter future for and with our youth. For and with my children and all the children of this and the coming generations. What a wonderful way to invoke the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.
*My new 2021 calendar is from Istandforlove.com created by Sarah Love and today's message is "give voice to your heart". Apropros for this day. XO
"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it". -Maya Angelou
For some of us, this comes naturally.
For others of us, this is a tall order. It could feel impossible.
For all of us, it is not only possible but the whole premise of life.
It seems we go through life seeking the holy grail of "success". The truth is, success is subjective. Your idea of success might be to create and build a company, go public, make millions, and be famous. Others find success to be seeing your child graduate high school. And yet others are successful if they can just coax themselves out of bed every day to live a "responsible" life after years of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. The common link in all of this is coming to a place where you feel you're meeting a meaningful goal; you're accomplishing something that takes inner strength, courage, and great effort. It is also about integrity. Some may accomplish a goal that seemed like "what they wanted" only to be unsatisfied, finding out that it was filled with inner conflict, guilt and/or shame. Integrity is key. These common links basically come down to: liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.
With that foundational, simple yet profound goal or mantra in mind, make choices in life that help support this measure of success. Use it to discern what matters to you and how you can support yourself to focus on those things. What activities, practices, ideas, beliefs, steps, connections, intakes, and other uses of your time and energy help you live in this success. Yes, LIVE IN IT, not reach for it. The mastery is within your NOW and living with Presence. It will get progressively easier and more automatic with the commitment or it can be a struggle each day until the switch flicks. You may slip back and forth into self-sabotage and self-esteem until its more esteem, less sabotage. This process -- if you can recognize that you are in it -- is part of that success. It is YOU living the journey itself conscientiously that can be liked and loved. What an adventure you are living! Keep going with compassion for yourself.
BE in your success.
Like yourself for living all your ups and downs.
Feel full within yourself.
"Your passion is your qualification. It is your leading qualification". -Danielle LaPorte
"Desire is transformed into drive when a dream creates a passion for action" -Dr. Robert Anthony
And excerpts from GuruMeher Khalsa's book Senses of the Soul: "Desire serves....to take you from needy to fulfilled". -and- "In Desire Consciousness, there is no containment and no contentment; but beneath it all the while is the Soul's Desire for you to experience complete fulfillment". -and- "...to let Desire do its job....Between unbridled expression and stifled suppression lies the ability to clearly discern our real needs". -and- "Desire is a powerful thing..... it is just pure energy that is there to help you get what you need. Where it takes you depends on how you use it". -and, from an interview of GuruMeher sharing his steps to success: "Follow your passion, but find a way to develop self-discipline."
Your heart's desire is the call of your Soul to allow you the experience of Wholeness-- "complete fulfillment". We all have needs but only some of us are "needy". Those who escape that label are the ones that know their needs and how to get them met. And that is a matter of discernment and self-discipline. The outline or boundaries you set for yourself is the tool of that discernment and self-discipline. It's the container in which you can powerfully connect with your true desires and needs, as opposed to the free-floating, overwhelming and misguided desires of want want want.
Passion is the energy of drive. To act. Upon the discerned Desires. As said by composer Yanni: "All you need is passion. If you have a passion for something, you'll create the talent". Whether you feel you have the talent or not, check in with yourself. Listen in silence, breathe and relax your mind and body, let go..... allow yourself to simply feel without judgment. Your feelings are your Soul's voice. What do you desire? What drives you? You may need to sort through other emotions --Anger, Fear, Guilt, Shame, etc. Your immediate need may be a base need: to feel safe, to survive (think Maslow's hierarchy of needs). Find a way to meet these needs. Create your container, like an imaginary pencil sketch with lines that don't limit you but holds you.
Looking at the numerology, this year brings a focus on our personal power ("3" from '21 or 2+1) and our expression ("5" from 2021 or 2+0+2+1). Our personal power has everything to do with our drive, our passion, our action and ability to manifest. Aligned with our Soul's needs to bring us to complete fulfillment, the container of self-discipline helps us channel our efforts to project and express ourselves with passion. With zest!
I've been drawn to my Passion essential oil these days, which led to this writing. DoTERRA's Passion includes the oils of cardamom seed, cinnamon bark, ginger root, clove bud, and sandalwood. It's called the Inspiring Blend and includes spiciness, digestive aids, and grounding. A beautiful, uplifting scent to connect with our Soul's Desires. I like to use the handy rollerball version "Passion Touch", before my meditation and throughout the day on my wrists and behind my ears, to spark joy and excitement around all that I do.
Live your heart's desire, friends. If you're not there yet, find a way. You are worth it.
A lesson that weaved through my year was about living with embodied beliefs...and where I did and didn't truly embody an idea. It sounds good to be mindful but did I really do that? It's a forced exercise if not coming from deep within. Another major lesson was about the container that holds my ideas-- the healthy boundaries. The year before that was a deep immersion into personal emotions (my soul's voice). Altogether, I start this year in a clay pot of somatic living....listening, connecting and acting upon my Soul's wishes. I call this soulsomatic living. She's been ignored, repressed, denied, overruled by an Ego that thought it knew better, could protect better, and had my best interests at heart. No, that Ego voice was caught up in the noise and was simply louder as I smothered the sounds of inner friendship.
I'm beyond grateful for what the past years have helped me see and super excited for what my Soul intends to show me. So let's go!
In grace, grit, compassion and light-- I'm ready for a soulsomatic life. Join me!
What does responsibility mean to you?
What does it mean to be responsible?
Does it differ in different areas of your life?
I keep pondering the belief --which I hold to be true-- that Freedom and Responsibility are two sides of the same coin. We all want "freedom" - to live it in our nation, to feel it in our own bodies, our own lives. The idea of freedom I will come back to. Today (and onward), I want to embody and embrace Responsibility.....whatever that means.......
Let's break it down: My ability to respond is my responsibility.
Respond to what? My life and the things that are important to me. Things that are True, that hold Integrity, and that does not harm Others. This sounds as it should be true enough for everyone:
Your responsibility is to be able to respond to your life and
the things--which are True, hold Integrity, and does not harm Others--
that are important to you.
Does that resonate for you?
What kinds of things are important to you and fit those guideposts of True, Integrity and Does No Harm? Here are 3 points of focus which can be looked at in the detail of your own life:
To live in balance with keen knowledge of MY needs, within MY means, at any given moment and to be able to respond. Technically, this IS self-care.
Self-care, living in my truth, being an example of light and meaningful expression of Truth for my family and community and on......these are the things that are important to me that are True, hold Integrity, and does not harm Others. And my ability to respond to these things, within the protective boundaries of balancing my needs, within my means, at any given moment, is the Truth I need to embrace and embody somatically in every cell of my being.
Yet still, this is all well & good but could get overwhelming where you feel you have not learned how to manage, digest, and metabolize these things. The "ability" part of it. How do you respond seemingly without the ability?
Recognizing the perceived dis-ability is the first step. Think of those who are considered to have a "disability" as is commonly known in society today. Or a "handicap". Some people need help like handrails, wheelchairs or ramps or special technological advancements to assist in speaking or seeing or some other need. Some secure tutors or nurses or other sorts of caretakers. Whatever the situation, ALL are required to look for ways to see beyond their dis-ability and acknowledge where they just need to work a little harder, where they need help and where they can creatively do things differently to balance ability with dis-ability. What are your perceived dis-abilities and how will you see beyond it?
Write it down. Assess it. Do the work. This is your RESPONSE-ABILITY.
Each of us are responsible for our own response-ability. Together, as response-able individuals, is how we create our own Freedom and how we can promote freedom in our greater world. Digging deep within is where our Truth lies. And our Truth is worth finding-- it is where our salvation thrives, and freedom and responsibility exist on the same coin.
What's holding you back?
Something..... What's holding you back?
(Thinking.....close eyes......searching......breathing....... feeling......). Fear.
Fear of what?
Fear of my hopes, of achieving, of being of great service.
Fear of not achieving and staying in my cozy shell of "nothing happens". Predictable.
Fear of the physical, internal damage that I fear will arise by holding back, holding in.
Fear of my voice.
Fear of being misunderstood.
Fear of being found out, that I am crap, my ideas are crap....I am insignificant.
How does that feel in your body?
Like a bottle of nerves being shaken, about ready to burst. Like my cells are suffocating.
Except when numbed....
Except when a sudden burst of inspiration brings me a high wave of tide until it subsides.....sometimes to a lower plane. Then I feel sunk. Worthless.
How do you want to feel-- what is the opposite of that feeling?
Calm and rhythmic ebbs and flows with peaks (from the inspiration) and back to equalized. Steady, even through "the negatives". Well-paced.
Soothed nerves and self-assuredness and a feeling of command and acceptance. A patient "knowing" and trust in the creative process. I feel strong and courageous.
What will it take to get there?
Action. Fear subsides when I take action....steps bring me one step closer. Steps of creation and proof that "I can". Steps that inform me of what comes next. Holding the vision in my heart, but don't look too far ahead (which creates the overwhelm I know all too well).
But, I've taken many small steps and the Fear remains....... Ok, a little ongoing, bite-sized fear keeps me motivated to do my best, but.......
But...... (close eyes, breathe, feel......) it's THE step I need to take that I'm afraid of.
Ahhh, now we're getting somewhere........can you define THE step?
Ahhh, yes... I can name it and I can start to look at "the why" and "the how" of it. I just needed to see the block to begin to tear it down.
And the fear lessens. The unknown becomes known.
Ok, I got this. Thank you, Friend Fear.
You're welcome. That's what I'm here for. ❤️
Where there is darkness, there is also light.
Where there is fear, there is also love.
I've heard the encouraging and loving words of parents telling their kids: in the midst of tragedy, look for the people who are helping. In other words, look for the light amidst darkness, the love amidst fear.
This idea that there is always love on the other side of fear may not feel clear or even possible when you find yourself feeling fearful. Stressed, anxious, sad, shamed, guilty, angry, scared.....it's all based in fear. (All true and valid emotions, by the way, doing their work to alert you that something is not aligned with you and needs your attention).
Whenever I notice -- as soon as I catch myself -- caught up in fear, this is a reminder for me to come to my breath. I have a few go-to breath meditations I like to use but just the very simple: close my eyes and take long deep breaths -is all I truly need. Do this for as long as you need until you feel calm and can respond (as opposed to react) to the fear....and amazingly the Monster Fear becomes a much tamer beast. And in that space, I can look for the Love.
To develop the habit of letting fear be a trigger to come to my breath, I made it a conscious daily practice for a number of days in a row to notice the fears popping up in my life-- big and small....there were plenty. The house is a mess and I'm angry at all those who contributed to it. Breathe deeply. My kids are squabbling endlessly over seemingly nothing and I don't know how to get them to stop (I'm irritated). Breathe deeply. The dishes I did not use are piled in the sink (I'm resentful). Breathe deeply. My spouse made a hurtful comment. Breathe deeply. My boss was super-critical of something I put alot of effort into. Breathe deeply. The news is deeply disturbing and threatening my peace of mind. Breathe deeply. I haven't finished my class preparations and I'm running out of time. Breathe deeply.
Each of these moments created a fear for me and I practiced noticing them. I would not have considered them fear in the past but noticing them made it possible to look at them differently.
When you can make it a regular practice to notice and find your calm through your breath, you develop the ability to do this every time, especially when your fear is maximized. From a calm place, you can then make the choice to see the situations from Love-- which is really the only Truth in life. Fearful, ugly things happen but when you get to the bottom of it, you will find a lack of love that was the cause. So finding the Love is like turning on the light switch.
Look for the people helping.
Look for your Self helping.
Look for the Love.
Create space by letting your mind release all of it. (Don't worry, you'll bring it back.....the necessary parts). For now, just let go and only focus on your breath. Your breath is everything.
Now..... bare bones. That's it. Forget all the rest.... all those extra elements that will make your creation outstanding.... for now, it's gravy. Keep the foundation and be sure it's solid. That's it.
When you are ready and your friend Overwhelm has said goodbye, smile and embrace those extras one at a time. Don't open the floodgates. Take the time to welcome and connect each new addition to your project. Savor and delight in them. Or thank them for coming and let them go.
I am the Essential Soul Mama. I am a mama, a soulful-spiritual teacher, an intentional storyteller, and a lover of stories of all kinds, in all forms. I write about parenting, natural health options, mind-body-soul connections, and anything that elevates our lives.