Today...I had another one of those epiphanies that I love so much. The essence of what I mean by that is...there are times when I get self-obsessed. What do I want, what is my goal, how do I make that happen? Strategy, thinking, planning, thinking...and sometimes I forget to just be. To let the flow return. After spending so much time...isolating, focusing, feeling, doing, creating...I released my little project. And then there was a space. A free, clear space to fill with whatever I wanted. So naturally, I sought to cram as much into that space as possible. New book! Research! Life, color, vibrancy! And I followed that urge. I breathed in beauty, color, and followed the muse where it took me. I would start a new novel, this one a romance, inspired by fresh florals and scent and a mysterious botanist. And then...
I remembered when I started Ana. And the novel I sought to write, and how it left me feeling empty and artificial. And how I surrendered to the higher need to write from the soul. Again, I found myself drawn to the same old patterns. So...I step back. Why? Why pursue that, why dive into the cave again? So I took a break from thinking about it. And I asked myself...silently...what do I really want? Do I simply want to embrace things that are beautiful and live my life passionately? Or do I want to write about it? I found my stillness. I sat. Cleared my mind. And I let it go.
Somewhere in the midst of writing Ana's story, I changed. And oftentimes I wondered if I had evolved beyond that of writing romance, personally. Did it really light me up? Or was it safe and easy? An on and on, the internal questions came back. I asked myself, the universe, God...give me a hint. Am I being true to myself in locking away and endeavoring to write another novel? Maybe it will be better than the first? Or have I changed in the process, and does my soul need more now? Is there a better way for me to channel this inspiration, this magic, this connection...to give it away? Which path makes sense for my long distance goals?
Some backstory: years and years ago...2005, I want to say...I spent a summer in California. Southern California. Beautiful. Perfect weather. Open, kind people. I attended a range of transformational workshops and in that year...during those meetings, those collaborations, I made a declaration that I had all but forgotten about. I stood up in front of a room of people and told them that I would start a women's center or a women's history museum. I gathered paperwork, made contact lists, contacted the state for information on chartering...and was told that it was a niche and the Island needed it. That I might get grants for it. That I should go forward. I still have files in a drawer somewhere... however... life happened. I made different choices. This led to that which led to this which brought me here. And I love my life, I don't regret any of it or what I've learned along the way. I love where I am and what I get to do.
Case in point: today, I met a woman. She was in her sixties and could no longer perform in her particular line of work, which was creative. Ironically, working with flowers. No joke. She loved it, it was her passion, but her hands were giving out. And what to do now? Where to seek more work, and what kind of work? I knew that she crossed my path for a reason. And I thought...I wish there was a place that I could send her. A place where she could go, sit down, and get the counsel, the advice, the direction that she needed. Ears to listen, other women to inspire her, a mentor to educate her. Resources to help her. And not with a hefty life-coach price tag. These services exist, for sure, if you're willing to shell out the money. But if you're looking for work? Good luck with that. And that bothers me enough to think more deeply about it.
And then I remembered my old dream, from ten+ years back. I had floated a survey recently, inquiring about forming a women's group. And with those responses, and there were a few...I'm going to see where this leads. As much as I love the idea of writing flowery romance, which I may still do, I feel like this fits. An answer to a question that I asked in a different lifetime, it seems. Perhaps...I am now ready for it.
*If you're on Long Island and would like to get involved with this...shoot me an email. Once I have a core group, I'll set up a first exploratory meeting.*
So after a few months of editing and tweaking and obsessing...I released my little novella into the world last night. Wow. What a ride...
It is an incredible thing to envision an idea. To take a first step toward it. To say it out loud, to hear yourself saying it, and to commit to it. To declare it. And to follow through with a promise you've made...to yourself.
There is an indescribable peace that floods through us when we allow the culmination of creating something new. And again...a letting go. I may tweak something here or there if typos are brought to my attention...but for the most part, my little book is free. Out on her own, living her own life, speaking to whomever listens to what she has to say. I love that.
A question I heard a few times today was: "am I in the book? Where do you get your characters?"
All I can say is this: these people are inspired by so many. The women are an amalgam of many women, both real and fictional, with such similar stories at the root of things -- just at different stages of their lives, perhaps. Real-life connections always inspire my writing, to be sure. But not directly. Meaning, I absorb some qualities, some quirks, some physical attributes from a range of people...and I throw all of that into a blender, until I have a sort of stew made from their essence. And from this ooze, I craft entirely new people. And then they start to speak. I often say, "it's not my story, it's theirs." I just listen to it, and share it...in case someone, somewhere, is waiting for those words, from those characters.
And there are a myriad of characters in this work, for a reason. They all had different things to say, different behaviors, different ways of experiencing life. But we see all of that through Ana's eyes. We interpret them through her anxious mind, we feel them through her healing heart.
Everything that crosses or exits Ana's path does so for a reason; such is life.
Once we make a decision to honor what our hearts tell us, in secret whispers, in loud thumps...once we connect to something magical, something beyond what we have always understood...we see our lives differently. Each new event presents itself differently, as an opportunity to learn more. To evolve, to be true. Each series of thoughts can bear more weight, because we realize how powerful our ways of thinking can really be. Each moment...is new.
As we move forward into a new way of seeing life and ourselves...our place within it...everything starts to shift. We are evolving, we are changing. Collectively. The freedom that comes in allowing ourselves to simply be, is exquisite. We have spent generations and years trying to become ideals of people that may not ever exist. Believing what we're fed, from an early age. So we build up these ideas about who we're supposed to become. And we struggle, and we take on the burden of being 'not good enough.' To please, to impress, to find validation. We forget that we're pretty amazing at the start. And so, we need to allow this cleanse -- this peeling back of who we thought we were supposed to be. Layers of deluded and failed perfection. All of these labels, these descriptions, these mediocre summaries of who we are.
So we live out our lives hiding, in these shells...waiting. Until we are enough. Once I have THIS job...then, life will begin. Once I get THAT house...then...then, we've made it. Once I have more money....whoa, look out. And the big clock ticks.
I do believe that we are spiritual beings and that life goes on after we leave our bodies. That time can be relative. I have my own understandings about that. But even so, this particular experience of life...is happening now. Right now. And every moment that we wait for something or put it off until we feel good enough...is a moment that could be wasted. Not all down time is wasteful...because all things take time to develop, to grow, to ripen. That's life, it's the nature of things. A small seed may be lovely, in itself. But it must break open its shell in order to grow into what it's meant to be, so that it can continue to create more life.
That's the essence of it. Our planet, is alive. The birds outside your window in the morning, the trees that sway and lean with the wind, the wind itself...all of it is life. We...are life. To awaken to this fact, that we are living, feeling, dreaming, marvelous creatures capable of growth and vision and pain and resilience and creating what we wish to see...is life-changing. Once we appreciate and see, daily, that we are alive, and part of the same system...living in connection and unity with the trees, the whales, the insects, the winds, the rain, electricity, spirit, each other, and the whole universe, really...we are given a gift. A perspective. And we get to choose, through each moment, who we are, what we want, and what sort of world we'd like to live in and leave to our children.
There is a John Mayer song, called "Something's Missing." I've listened to it so many times in my life, and it always gets better. It has levels to it. The idea is that we consume, and buy, and spend, and slave away...until we have all the things we want. The fancy car. The big house. The new gadgets. Maybe we've achieved fame and glory and amazing credentials. And yet still...somewhere deep inside...we feel lost and disconnected. Something's missing. It won't be found in things. In wads of cash. In the "right partner." In the job, the life, that looks best on paper. In all the riches you could imagine. Or in the television or on the Internet. Because it starts within. It's not out there...
If something feels missing...it's time to look inside. Feel around. Spend quiet moments alone and allow your real thoughts to surface. The only thing missing...is you. US. Because when you find your inner peace, your Source, your passion...you find connection. To all that is. You are unique and special and part of a larger system. Just as there are countless systems within us, we are also a working part of a larger system. We are all tethered together. But we've been sleeping, and oblivious to each other.
But that is changing. We are becoming more aware. Slowly. In waves. And I believe it's a privilege to be able to share what we know and to be of service, despite ourselves, and our own perceptions. If we can see that we're part of a whole...we can see how our actions affect that whole. If we can find peace and strength and harmony within ourselves, if we can find that balance inside...then maybe the big, bad world out there will echo our hearts. Give to give. Create to put something new into the world, to inspire more creation. Love to love. To place conditions and demands on these ideas...creates conflict within. And thereby...on the outside, as well.
Our thoughts...are just thoughts. Connection comes through feeling and knowing. Patience and faith. Acceptance, struggle, and release. Hiding from pain, burying doubts, swallowing secrets is like stuffing socks into a vacuum cleaner. It'll clog things up. It won't work anymore. If you want things to flow smoothly...get the junk out. All of it. It takes as long as it takes. And then...you find moments of overwhelming gratitude. Awe. Beauty. Better relationships. Pure communication. Simplicity. Peace. A joy that you never knew was waiting inside you, beneath layers of wreckage and broken dreams. It takes courage to look at ourselves in such an unflinching way: being accountable, seeing the truth. But just beyond those clouds, the funk, the stormy weather...lies peace and a fresh, clean, pure space. Where anything is possible...really, if you want it. Know what you want. Because we're attracting things to us all the time. Know what you want, and place your focus there...instead of on what you simply have no control over. (Trust me on this one.) Uncover your spark, find your strength, and be what you wish to see. Forget the rest. We can only walk our own paths -- don't surrender that privilege to someone else. You can, you will...find people who feel and think in the same way and you'll have great friends to walk beside you.
We are the world we live in. Accept every little flawed, banged up, weird, wonderful, amazing thing about you. And love all of those things, the dark and the light, because they are all you. Love and accept them...and see how you grow. Work intentionally on what you aren't fond of, and celebrate what you love. Make peace with yourself, as you are. Don't wait until you're perfect to fall in love with yourself, with life. Because it won't happen. Love now, live now. Enjoy it. Grow with it. Love that you're alive and get to do it again, everyday.
When we can interact with people and intrinsically see ourselves in them, and respond from love and patience and sincerity, in the way we'd like to be treated...a shift occurs. Everything changes. In a sublime and wonderful way. Just love. It works. It's worth it. xoxo
Tonight, before bath time, I was browsing through my old yearbooks, showing my son pictures of Mommy from...well...a little while ago. He picked me right out, it warmed my heart. I also glanced at the notes written by friends and classmates. They were lovely and sweet, but one just stuck out so much today, for some reason. Perhaps, because I needed to read it. I don't believe in coincidence, really.
"...don't get TOO mature. Your sense of humor is one the greatest things about you! You're awesome!"
What a nice reminder to slow down, take a breath, and laugh. I thought to myself..."I used to be a funny motherfu*ker!" And then life got serious and took me away.
Growing up a middle child, the peacemaker, I could always inject humor into anything. I had a knack for being silly when others were tense and it would lighten up the room, and make whatever problems were there seem a bit easier to tackle, or so I thought. I had no problems making a fool of myself in public. Laughing too loud. Dancing to my own music, in my head (still do this.) Engaging strangers in conversation because they seemed friendly. While adolescence was rocky, to be sure, I found release in writing...and also in laughter.
One of my favorite sensations in the world is laughing so hard, from the belly, until I can't stop and just start making strange snorting noises. Then I laugh even harder...
As we grow older, sometimes we let those laughs go. We take everything so seriously. We juggle so many things. Work, family, friends, goals, obligations...we can be overcome in getting things done, or improving ourselves and situations in our lives, or we become attached to a cause. Always going, always doing. Nonstop.
Down time is so important.
Sometimes, it's quiet peace, to sort out our thoughts. Sometimes, it's listening to music and connecting with it. Sometimes, it's reading. Sometimes, it's running. Sometimes, it's a drive. And sometimes...we just need to step back, stop trying to pretend that we're perfect, and laugh our asses off at t he absurdity. Laughter is healing, it soothes the soul, and it creates endorphins. And it helps you to get out of your head and enjoy special moments. Laughter, genuine laughter, keeps you present.
Sometimes we grumble along, in a fog, until we plunge a foot into a puddle and we're jolted into the moment. I love those puddles. "I should watch where I'm going..." And then I laugh at myself. We can take ourselves too seriously, sometimes. We can take life too seriously. Accomplish things. Be kind. Give. Love. Be honest. Know yourself. Act with integrity. Don't become stagnant. Yes, those things are all great. But it's okay to laugh, shake your head, and not know what the hell is going on. No one does, I promise you. We're billions of specks clinging to a spinning rock that floats through space. And somehow, we don't float away. I think that's awesome that I don't have to hold on to trees as the Earth turns. I think gravity is wonderful. I cloud-gaze. I star-gaze. I deep-think and then I think too much, at times. And then I step in a proverbial puddle.
I've been up and down and through all kinds of weather in the past year. Cages, conflict, ledges, falling, rising, flying, freezing, thawing, crumbling, rising again... Is true that this journey inside helped me to write the book I wanted to read, and that will be out soon, come hell or high water. Just in case it's a book that someone else wants to read, at a similar place in life. And through this journey, in getting to the core of things, in getting back to me...I've studied, I've read, I've meditated, I've observed, I've pondered, I've grown, I've become more aware, I've formed soulful connections that I wouldn't trade for any of it...but the most joyous moments in my life come at the most simple times. There's nothing 'out there,' there's nothing to fix. It starts within.
And I light up when singing silly made-up songs with my toddler about a green duck, or Mommy's foot, or about the red, green, and brown pillows. I love dancing to music until we're both giddy and fall to the pile of blankets and pillows on the floor -- breathing heavy, delirious with joy, smiling and laughing at each other, and he shouts...AGAIN!. I love those embarrassing stories with friends, the ones that you can only tell each other, and you laugh until your cheeks turn crimson. I feel the most inspired, the most lit up...when I make people laugh, young and old. I love to laugh, but to see others lose their cool and get silly...just fills my heart up. Especially, if they're really bent on being moody, and a good laugh frees their soul.
And that's something NOT to let go of.
We go through so many things, we are pulled and stretched and tried, over and over, but we need to laugh. We need to smile. Show some gratitude for the ride. The greatest gift that we can give to others, is our joy. A smile. An infectious laugh. It just might change their whole day. An honest, spontaneous laugh between people forms a bond. And that injection of fun, joy and lightness...will linger and spread. Ripples...
Being around small children definitely helps, but we can find humor in most situations, if we choose to. And we can let it heal us. A good, funny story is like a smack in the face...with love. It can snap us out of our overthinking. It can remind us of the little things. It can refresh us, give us perspective. It can cause a pure smile. It can create a moment of oneness, of celebration, of connection. A smile alone, will stimulate endorphins, which will tell your brain that you're happy. No, it's not magic...but it's science. And it's valuable.
Let's take a breath. Relax. Play. Let's get over ourselves. We're all this together. There's no competition, we came in the same way and we're leaving the same way, in the broad scheme of things. Let's enjoy the ride. We're spiritual beings...but we get to be human. Let's experience it, I say. If we're lucky, we'll leave some kindness, some empathy, some love, something unique, a sustainable planet, and hopefully, we'll leave some joy and simple wisdom for the generations that follow us. What if joy, love, and peace were what mattered most...and not the pursuit of perfection? What if we just allowed ourselves to be happy and didn't exhaust ourselves trying to achieve...always waiting for happiness to arrive? If our joy, our fulfillment, is always waiting, always in the distance, always contingent upon some set of circumstances...it won't really happen. It starts within.
I feel like I should end a post about laughter with a joke or funny anecdote...but I'm too freakin tired. Bedtime. But laugh, though. Seriously. Is "seriously funny" an oxymoron? Anyway. It's healing. You'll see. :)
love, love, love
I saw myself today. Well, a younger version. A teenaged girl, gathered with her friends...sobbing. Mascara-filled tears streaked down her face. She seemed so lost, so confused, so upset.
I brought over tissues and asked if everything was okay. But I knew the answer: boy drama.
I said something like, "stay strong, this will happen for a while..." with a chuckle.
But here's what I'd like to tell you, young girl:
You're beautiful. Whatever they say behind your back or whisper to each other...know inside, that you are beautiful. When you smile, it lights up a room. And someday, that same smile will bring people to their knees, and you'll have a hard time fighting them off. You'll long for the simple days, when things were easier. You'll want those same boys, who are now men, to value your intellect, your talents, and not just your looks. But for now, know that you are beautiful and exquisite, just as you are. And you don't need anyone else to tell you.
You're powerful. You have no idea how powerful you are, in fact, because you probably haven't seen it yet. But you will. If you could focus your mind on yourself, and shift away from what the boys think, you will find that you are embedded with such wonderful things that make up who you are. Your heart, your soul, your gift that waits inside you. I would tell you to think about what makes you the happiest. Who do you look up to? Who would you like to be in the future? I would tell you to work on yourself, to cultivate a dream, to make yourself a roadmap and to honor it. Honor yourself and your dreams, believe in them. The right boys will find you and respect you all the more.
You're sacred. You are a divine creation, a gift to the world. You are unique and wonderful, just as you are. The hormone-frenzy of adolescence is powerful -- it's such a tricky time. I know, because I was you. I remember. I felt so deeply, both the compliments and the let-downs, the dreams and the doubts. And I know the longing, the need inside, to fill that hole. I know the desire for acceptance, for approval, for some validation that you are enough. Sweet, young girl...you are loved, you are sacred. You are so much more than enough. Know that you have value. Do not give in to every boy who likes you. Know your own worth. Be kind, but be smart. If a boy hurts you or is selfish and cruel, he is a boy that you shouldn't associate with anymore. Let him go, and know that you deserve better. Treat yourself better. The fact that you feel things so deeply is proof of a living, beating heart that is capable of such beautiful things, and yet so much pain. I know it hurts, but it will get easier to understand, I promise.
Cherish your friends. Your friends through this time of your life can be like gold. The ones you can vent to, laugh with, dream with, and cry with. Be there for them, let them be there for you. You may be friends for a long time to come, and you'll be so grateful for them later.
I know that it's hard. I know that it hurts. You are no longer a child, but not yet an independent adult. Don't rush. Don't force it. Embrace where you are, and know that you'll be okay. You are young and have so many years to plan and dream and even to love. If a guy doesn't give you attention, then forget him. Do not diminish who you are, for some boy who doesn't even notice you. The boys that will hurt you, lie, make excuses, cheat on you, take advantage of you...are not worth your time; don't give them a second thought. You are too important for their games. Your sadness, pain, and willingness to fall in love again, now and for a long time...are all proof of a beautiful heart. Take care of it.
You are smart, you are beautiful, you are worthy and capable of so many great things in life. Take your time. Enjoy these years. I can't give you that much advice, because you will learn everything you need to as you grow and experience more things. That's how life works. We're all learning, so get used to that. And be glad for it. But I wish for you to know, that you are strong enough to get through it. That there are days full of laughter and silliness that are so very special and won't be forgotten for many years. Just as there are days that break your heart or make you want to hide away and not trust anyone again. Know that you'll be okay, know that the sun will rise, and the feelings will pass. If you just take care of yourself. Remember that you are loved, by the world that waits for you to grow, mature, and lead us, when your time comes. Give yourself the respect, patience, and care that you deserve. You will do great things.
Pay attention to these years. Hang on to those dreams, those big ideas. Play with them, nurture them. They will teach you how to dream and set goals for years to come. Find things and people that make you feel good about yourself. That cherish you, honor you, and love you at your best and also your worst. Notice the people who roll their eyes when you talk, and the ones who absorb everything that you say. This is how you can distinguish the people who really care about you. Your real friends will get excited about your dreams and want to hear more, and they'll push you toward them. They'll see when you're sad and sit with you, and maybe even run out for ice cream. Know who is important, and let go of who isn't, don't waste another minute of your time and love on them.
On the days when you smile, smile big. You change people when you smile. You help them to smile too. On the days when you're sad, reach out to people you trust and talk about your sadness. Get it out, get past it, and wait for your smile to come back. It always does. And if you can't get the words out: go for a jog, learn yoga, dance, start a journal, read a good book that resonates with how you're feeling. Anything to help you know that you're not alone in your thoughts, because sweet girl, you're not. Every woman I know has been where you are. You're going to be okay.
Listen to yourself. Learn to find quiet moments with your thoughts and pay attention. See how you feel about things. The world, people, yourself. Work on the things you don't like, and celebrate the things that you do like.
I know that you'll be okay. I know that you'll find your time to shine. If you could see yourself the way that I see you, the potential, the fire in your innocent eyes...you'd move mountains. But you'll get there. On your own, in your time. Don't rush it. Enjoy these years and learn as much as you can. Improve yourself, but have lots of fun and build memories. Find something to build towards. Find a dream that calls to you, and listen. Work toward it, in tiny steps. Your future is waiting for you. And you have it in you. But you won't hear it if you focus all of your precious time and energy on boys that don't treat you right.
Learn how to answer your own questions, how to think for yourself, and how to set healthy boundaries. Because it only gets more challenging as you get older; but it also gets so much more rewarding and special. Take your time, but pay attention. You're exactly where you're supposed to be. You're beautiful. Be good to yourself. Make good choices. The world is waiting for you and rooting for you. We know you'll get there. xoxo