The very word makes so many people squirm. (Not you, you just made a rather naughty face, didn't you?)
Laughs aside, I'm not just talking about sex, here. It's much more broad and inclusive than that. As many of you know, I've been on a quest to recover my youthful, more slender, and athletic body. For years.
I've tried vegan (fail). Vegetarian (okay, but cholesterol went up, too many simple carbs, I didn't do it right.) Paleo (success for a year or two, until I quit smoking, and then it stopped working.) Recently, within the past six months, I tried keto. Then to Bulletproof and intermittent fasting. I've officially tried everything.
Looking back, I've been "dieting" since puberty. From the moment my well-intentioned mother noted that my thighs were "getting chunky." I had love handles. I still remember the feeling inside, the introduction of body shame. How rotten I felt, how I wanted to disappear. I don't blame her, that was the culture we lived in. It was the 80s. Thin was in. And she wanted me to be the best I could be. I get it. However...
Here's what I've learned, over the years...
I'd lose about five pounds, quickly, the first week... each time I tried something new. I'd exercise regularly. Each diet called for an uptake in whole foods. Lots of veggies, less processed crap. The rest? It's all just playing with macros. More fats, more carbs, more proteins, whatever. But the underlying principles are all the same: eat more healthy food, move your body, and chill out. That's it. The rest is marketing. And I have nothing against marketing if the product or idea is a healthy and helpful, conscious one. How else do we learn about things that might help us out, save time, point us toward something better? I have no problem with sales or marketing, in general. My point is that there are a myriad number of ways to regain your health. And I'm in it for the long haul. If some diet tells me I'll only eat dolmades every other week on a cheat day, well you can quite respectfully go fuck yourself. Not happening. If some book tells me to cut out coffee, I'll stop reading it. No way.
Diets are repressive. They can be punitive. It means taking away things, to optimize results in a short period of time. They are full of sacrifice and seriousness. Sometimes illness and deficiencies force people into strict diets. I have full respect and admiration for those who make this their lifestyle because it's their purpose in life. They are fitness and health warriors; it's great. But it's just not me. I'm done with extremes. Once I found my inner sanctuary, my healthy middle... I want everything to find balance. Homeostasis is my goal, in me and in my world.
So, here and now... I find myself asking... why diet? Am I healthy? Yes. Healthier than I've ever been. I've learned how to take care of myself. I have hypothyroidism, and I've learned how to navigate that. I can't really claim victim-hood there, anymore. I know what to do.
Beyond that, a few years back, I started to experience anxiety, joint pains, sleeplessness, hot flashes, migraines, acne (!?) and so many other things... that I was convinced had to do with gluten. Or a combination of gluten and hypo, at a minimum. Until I learned about peri-menopause.
Women are very special creatures. We begin as young girls, carefree and learning and absorbing the world. We grow into our bodies and start to become fertile for reproducing. Life! We create life! In our bodies! Goddesses, indeed, and we need very special hormones to do this; so we enjoy PMS and cramps and bloating and all the good things all through our childbearing years. And somewhere around... yes... our forties... our bodies start to change. We lean closer and closer into our non-childbearing years. Now, menopause isn't official until a woman has missed her period for at least one year. (Sexy-face reader is starting to squirm now, I think...periods, what? I've been fooled...)
So, peri-menopause, the time before the change, can last for 10-15 years. And with these slow, subtle changes, deep inside, within our cells and fluctuating hormones... that big change begins. A deep, subconscious anxiety manifests that may take years to name. And it spreads. And it can wreak havoc on our own inner and outer balance. It's so important to see it for what it is, and begin to manage your life, around it. it's real. And it's worth exploring, to get your life back. It's so worth it.
Once I understood what a hot flash was, and correlated it to kundalini and energy and eons of women's storytelling and sisterhood circles... I began to see the patterns. We grow into a different sort of sacred wisdom, as we age. And with that letting go, comes a new wave of creativity. Wanderlust. Art. Raw inspiration. Passion. An innate ferocity rises up. A rebirth, into the life of a cultured and curious woman, leaving the young maiden behind. And the process, as it starts, can be rattling. Life-shaking. it's literally a waking up, into a new chapter of Life. As a new woman. And it can be thrilling and inspired, or moody and repressed. Like anything, it depends upon perspective.
So, that said... I considered that a lot of the issues that I had, might not have to do with gluten. I had never been tested for gluten allergies: I just read the books, and made assumptions. I had a conversation with someone who had true celiac disease. And she salivated at the idea of being able to eat what she wanted, when she wanted. How convenient and wonderful it would be. How she'd never choose to live in such a way, and how challenging it can be. And I thought... here are all these people, on this bandwagon, intentionally choosing to live this way. And why?
I began to research. Ask questions. And experiment with food.
I tried a dish of italian pasta (imported). Bread (whole grain, proper bakery). Sweets. Pizza (drools)... Fine, fine, fine...fine! American boxed processed pastries...not so fine. So, I think American processed wheat has its problems, for sure. I don't know enough to explain it all to you adequately, or why it made me feel gross. You can look that up. But... whole and ancient grains? Especially from the Mediterranean area? I do just fine with them. My body loves them. And they're delicious. Quinoa. Farro. Buckwheat. Couscous. Even some beans, I tolerated just fine. Garbanzo and lentils, do very well. Black beans and cannelini in moderation. Small amounts. I'd read so much about lectins and anti-nutrients and I kept waiting for the discomfort I was supposed to feel. And it just. Didn't. Happen. At first, I felt duped. Then, I felt like celebrating! I CAN EAT CARBS! But I didn't overdo it.
So, I don't have a gluten problem. I have hormone problems, that beg different solutions. I learned that when the woman's body skips a period, for example, estrogen is very low. Estrogen, and balanced hormones, in general, help produce other feel-good hormones. So without that happening, we reach for the fix elsewhere. If we're cutting carbs, we'll keep reaching. This causes stress, cortisol goes up. Weight is retained, for survival. Because I MUST BE DYING to be eating in such a way. I must be starving, so let's hold tight to our water, our salt, our fat, everything... to stay alive. (Listen, this might not be true for everyone. Granted. Maybe you excel on a high-fat, low-carb diet. That's awesome. This isn't about you, so get over it.)
I'M DONE. I'm just done with it. With suffering, with sacrificing, with apologizing for my belly and my love-handles. With hurting myself, denying myself, to fit some stereotypical ideal. I'm done. I'm done suffering.
So, these days, a healthy lifestyle, for me, looks like this:
- daily meditation, sculpting a beautiful and peaceful inner world, first thing
- yoga (sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes 30), dancing (sometimes Shaun T, sometimes my playlist while I freestyle with my boy or without, for fun)
- a balanced, Mediterranean way of eating, with proper portions and occasional indulgences without guilt; lots of fresh, vibrant, living foods, much less meat
- I limit my sugar intake to less than 90 grams per day, usually way less, but never more
- lots of socializing, music, art, creativity, activity, fresh air, and beauty
Once I found a way to allow simple pleasures back into my life... even if that means one cookie after lunch, a glass of wine at night, time out enjoying myself... everything changed. Because I'd learned to handle moderation. The hot flashes slowed and seem to have stopped :knocks on wood:. The plateau broke and I began to lose weight again, steadily. I stopped retaining water. I slept through the night. I can focus and get things done. And I'm not a cranky bitch.
My body was crying out for carbohydrates, for so long... while I starved it, seeking a body that I haven't been in for about 20 years. But, listen, I love this new skin. This body. It made life. It finally doesn't hurt, or ache, and I want to care for that. I will never again take a pain-free body for granted. It's a gift. Am I giving up my healthy lifestyle? Hell no. I'm giving up abuse. I'm giving up workouts that feel like mindless torture. I'm giving up outside programming that doesn't meet my needs.
I choose to feel good. To nourish myself with a wide variety of healthy foods, and to enjoy indulgences, gratefully, with pleasure, when I choose to. To enjoy my body, to move it, to practice what it can do, to honor it. To maintain strength, flexibility, and peace of mind. With a current and healthy purpose, that honors NOW and not my past: to keep up with my son, to sculpt a new and exciting life, to make the most of my moments, to live wildly and joyfully, to explore my creativity, while I can.
We've just all got to find what works, for us. As individuals. That's all. Everything will work... for a while. What works for you... into your nineties? For the long haul? Fasting and binging for me? No. It worked for a little while. Hardcore weightlifting and high protein? No. For a little while. But I want to build lifestyle that will nourish, support, and care for me into the next 50 years. At least. I'm building a healthy and long-lasting relationship, with myself. Tasting, traveling, adventuring, dancing, playing, smiling, laughing. Gratefully. Out loud.
Life is for the living. <3
Oh...when truth hits you in the face. Do you know what I mean? You've got your reasons, right? The reasons, all sound and practical and proven, why it won't work, can't work, won't ever happen. And then one day, things get jumbled around: up is down, black is white, hope is all around you...and for a second... you try it, and it DOES work. Which turns all those tried and true reasons...into excuses.
What are you talking about, Stacie? Stop dancing around...spit it out...
Okay. I've had these reasons. Why sticking to a good fitness routine just couldn't work:
- I quit smoking, see, and my metabolism sucks, so...
- Who has time? I work. I'm not a stay-at-home Mom!
- Only when my boy is with his Dad, then I can do it.
- Joint pain. Hurts. Ouch.
- Can't afford to keep paying gym memberships and not going.
- Can't do it at home, my son won't sit still while I work out, it would never work.
- I need to write, there's only so much time!
- I'm healthy, my bloodwork is perfect!
I know, it's getting deep in here, right? Deep with BS.
I do believe that we have to want things...in order to commit to them. I believe we have to have the right mindset, we have to want what comes to us on the other side of our goals, we have to be ready for all of it. I believe in timing. All true. So, I don't know if the timing is just magically right...or if I finally just... stopped bullshitting myself. I like to think it's little bit of both. I mean, we don't intentionally get in our own way... it just happens sometimes. We don't see it when we're in it. And if you're me, you don't listen when people tell you that you're in it. You just say whatevs and keep wading through the lovely river De Nial because it's pretty there and the air smells like jasmine and honeysuckle and you don't have to get uncomfortable and exert effort.
Anyway. I'm outgrowing those bits. Shedding 'em like old skin.
I reached a milestone at the end of last year. It was a tough year in many respects, but also one that was filled with so much growth and expansion. Travel. Wonder. Connections. New experiences. New faces. Change. Pain. Hurt. Healing. Anxiety. Meditation. Massage. Reiki. More healing. So much healing. But... by the end of the year, I was at a good place... physically, mentally, emotionally. The trifecta! I felt as if...it was all coming together. Finally. My trip out west to see the horses really pulled it all together, in a beautiful way. They carry great medicine, these animals, and that's not just flowery talk.
Also, had I passed another birthday. Another year? They go faster and faster, don't they. And I knew that I wouldn't waste more time. I reflected back on 2015, a big year of changes and dramatic weight loss and pushing out boundaries and facing fears, and so many other things. And I always attributed my weight loss (95 pounds) to stress and smoking a few cigarettes every day. But... in retrospect, I remembered that I was doing hours of cardio every night. On top of spending hours packing, moving, repairing things, and walking. And working. And walking. And parenting. And writing. And walking. And writing. I was constantly moving. It wasn't the damned cigarettes. It was me.
I thought about that. And I figured... well... if that was me then, I could do it again. I had a much simpler and more concise goal, then. It was almost... survival... to keep moving. There is something to be said for that primal surge of energy, that momentum, that movement... in search of something or when running from something. That drive, the compulsion, the obsession, in it. And there was the issue... I'd grown too comfortable. I was tucked up in my hammock, relishing on the fruits of my labor, no longer running toward or away from anything. I was still. Being. Watching. Listening. Lazing.
I think everything happens for a reason and that I needed that time. I do. I think...I needed to go through the ups and downs, the trials, the surprises, the spiritual study, the internal healing, the quests, the mistakes and misjudgments, the letdowns and embarrassments. I think they all built my inner strength. I think that time focused and rejuvenated my mind, protected my healing heart, and reconnected me with my soul.
Because here's something I've learned, or rather, remembered: our bodies learn quickly and our muscles remember what we ask them to do. The challenge is in the mind. So it is with everything. Will I do what I said I would do? Or will I give in to quicker, easier fixes? It's not about the actual physical movement; it's not about the sweat. It's about the choice, the follow-through, and the resolve to finish. The mindset.
Every time I press play or lace up my sneakers, now, I hear myself...inside my own head: "how I do this, is how I do anything." I don't run or ride a bike, but I do hike, and it's what I said over and over as I hiked through Mashomack, alone, in cold, harsh November air. Whenever I hike the greenbelt. When I foolishly schlepped my luggage up seven steep blocks of San Francisco streets, when I was supposed to be resting from whiplash injuries. When I walked the northern tip from Embarcadero to the Presidio. When I explored the Pacific shore for hours, along Fort Ord's dunes... up and over jagged rock and sand. When I crept out of Austin's city streets and down to the river, into the woods, to the edge of the park, in unexpectedly stifling heat...without a bottle of water, and then all the way back again. Schmuck. And when I hike...anywhere, really. Yeah, the scenery is different, and nature compels me and invigorates me, for sure, but really...it's all the same. Start, continue, finish, stretch, hydrate. HYDRATE. And replace the negative talk inside my head with positive words. Just keep going. You're almost there. You can do hard things. It's funny...I had to travel all over the country to teach myself such simple discipline. Huh.
Also, here's the kicker: for a hoot, I loaded up a home workout and let my little boy in on it. Just to see...
"Mommy is going to do her exercise now, okay babe? Can you read those books, and do your legos for a bit?"
"Okay, Mommy." He was curious. "What exercise? Like this?" And he did his fancy yoga moves, from daycare. Can it be this simple?
The thing is... he watched the workout. And he watched me. He wasn't playing, reading, building, or doing anything... but watching me workout. He was learning. Imagine? I always say that everything is our teacher... so yeah, that applies to him, too! I even heard some "go Mommy!" And "this is how to be a hero! Yeah!" <---- PJ Mask thing. Honored to be among the ranks of Gekko, Owlette, and Catboy.
I think back to sneaking a smoke behind the garage. Washing my hands afterward, so he couldn't smell it, feeling like a dirty criminal. Vapes and oil and mood swings and more excuses. And how... if I didn't make the conscious choice to change... in so many ways... that is what he'd be learning from me. Smoking. Playing small. Hiding. Apologizing. Giving up. Eating crappy food. Laziness. Excuses. The opposite of what I'd come to recognize as... simple self-love. Nurturing. Replenishing. Nourishing. Strengthening. Persevering.
And here I was, coming through for me... and teaching him, simultaneously. Wow.
He can't wait to get his own little dumbbells and he's already practicing pushups. And PS, loves to box?! He was getting out his Lego-won't-work-angst by throwing jabs and hooks and uppercuts at my hands. He's got some fire in him.
And I said...what? What did I say? It would never work? Famous last words...
What the hell was I waiting for?
Ready or not...just like that, a new chapter begins...
Hi. That's me. Baby me. Toddler me. Right about the age my son is now. The seventies, man. My brother had given me a haircut, *just before* school pictures. Mom was pleased. :sarcasm font: I think it worked for me.
1970s... Avocado greens and chocolatey browns and burnt oranges and that putrid vomit-colored maize-yellow. Bell-bottoms. My Mom's disco albums. Yeah, vinyl. I learned to dance the Hot Chocolate from one of them. I learned about (and fell in love with) Donna Summer from another.
I saw my grandparents a lot. I had one grandmother who delivered Avon, knew everyone in town (and they still mention her, to this day) and she lived in house dresses (look it up, they're like mu mus..) I had another grandmother who was a NOW (National Organization for Women) cardholder, worked in the city, commuted in sneakers and changed to pumps at the office, knew all the subways, and took us to see Broadway shows once a year. One was Grandma...one was Mimi. Can you guess who was who?
I loved them both, dearly. But I associated with Mimi the most. Honest. Eye-rolling. Sharp-tongued. A riotous and often inappropriate sense of humor, behind closed doors. She was the one who'd laugh so hard that tears would stream down. I get my fire, my sass, my passion, the marinara in my veins, my joie de vivre...from that side. The Italian side.
My other Grandmother, on my father's side (British/Dutch/Canadian)... had lessons to teach, just in her presence. In her stories. I wouldn't appreciate them until much later. They lived hard through the depression, my father's parents, and they both worked at Grumman. They had four boys, and they both worked, and rarely saw each other. They were scrappy, they had to be. They were thrifty, because they learned to be. My grandmother, boy, she could... make a dollar holler. She hit up garage sales, tag sales, thrift stores, and always gave to others the little that she could. We often got new school clothes from the rag bag (donated clothes that we got from the church in Glen Cove, cheap). So she'd often give us things to help out, even though they weren't Rockefellers, either. She wasn't a barrel of laughs or charm or high-fashion. She was a tough old broad. She got hit by a Mack truck crossing the street and broke a hip, in her... sixties? She was up an delivering Avon again, pretty soon after. That's how she was. Tough as nails. Vocal. Opinionated. In your face if you didn't submit. I get my grit and low-bullshit-meter from her.
My childhood was informed by some powerful women, although I didn't see it at the time. I won't tell you about MY mother, because, well, she's alive and well and reads this and it's just none of your business.
But my grandmothers: one was fighting the patriarchy, working, earning her worth as best as she could, trying to lift that glass ceiling up... just a bit. Caring for herself, putting herself first. She came from an Italian family that let the boys go to college and the girls... learned to cook and keep a husband happy. From the get-go, she said... "this stinks." She just knew how wrong it was, how it didn't align with who she was. My mother's side is where I get a lot of my... resistance to conform into a role. Like Becky Sharp, Scarlet O'Hara, Jo March, and so many other controversial figures of women in literature. I will hardly just go and be a wife... Because this fire burns inside... for more. For passion, for exploration, for challenge, for vibrance, for intellect, and color and travel and excitement. For a LIFE, not a sentence.
And I think, through most of her life, (I have a recording of an oral history I did with her, that I cherish), she silently stewed and let a fire grow inside, that would emerge later. And it did.
They're both gone, now, all of my grandparents are, and I feel it's okay to discuss them here.
So entwined with my current writing, Wild Horses and Mistakes, I set out on an intentional journey... call it shamanic, call it psychology, call it catharsis, call it healing the inner child, call it whatever you want... it's all the same to me, with different labels. We are but a story, and we can revisit our stories and pull meaning out, to inform the present. It's all a big spiral dance, around and around and around.
We go through childhood and collect all these stories, these ideas, that other people make up about us, and if we already feel small... we believe them. And it takes years and years of crawling out of those stories, and becoming our own people.
I can see it now, the whole pattern, as it's taught to us (of course, not everyone follows this):
birth: we're given a name, an identity, and put into the "system"
school years: our teachers teach us to memorize things, and often scold us for our originality or finding our own answers. We're often dumbed down for being resourceful or creative. It must be done their way, or we get "bad marks." So, we must get good marks, and so we conform. And often, if we're lucky, we find those one or two special teachers or counselors, that connect... and keep us going.
college: optional, but many take this route. To... fit the right mold to get the right job, to "be what they want," so they get hired to work for someone else's dream.
then...marriage, kids, two cars, vacations: and so we get out of school, we find careers, we find a partner to play this game alongside us. And for a while it's good, life is good. We played a good game, we got there! We did it! We ticked off everything on the card, look!
And then... those lost embers of glowing imagination, of magic, of dreams, of non-conformity start to bubble up through the cracks and demand change. This isn't what I thought. I did everything right, how come I'm not happy? I have a good life? Enter the mid-life crisis. Sometimes, if they're lucky and already have a healthy relationship, couples ride through it together and they both change. Often, they split because one will not change for whatever reason. Or worse, they stay together, yet grow apart, living a show within a show, for the kids, for the neighbors, and everyone is miserable.
Or... maybe you're still single, and none of that affects you at all, and you just feel like you're in a hamster wheel. Waiting for real life to start. For that ship to come in. For something to finally make sense and give you the unmistakable direction that you've been seeking. We've a got a wacky sort of society that breaks us apart and we scramble to put ourselves together again, later in life. And some of us don't make it that far, we become that system and lose our identities, altogether. (But not really, I truly believe that there is always a spark that stays lit.)
I'm not sure what I'm rambling about today, it feels a bit messy. And maybe that's the point, but it has to do with childhood, dreams, and how our fears and self-esteem are managed. I look at this little bright-faced girl and I wonder how she did it. How did she make it to now? And she can't tell me, because she had no idea. She was a child. Innocent. She just woke up and showed up. it was later that she started hiding and living in made-up worlds that made much more sense.
I've been doing this work, this self-study, this inner-journey for a few years now. And at the outset, it was about the present and the immediate stresses of life. And then it was about adulthood, in general, and then adolescence. And so on. It's like time-traveling, revisiting my life, all the way back to here... to early childhood. I think deep within each of us are these innocent children who want to play, dream, fly, sing, dance, and maybe see outer space. And it doesn't always work out that way, because we start believing in the limitations that others give us, throughout our growing up.
And this... is the mess. The bags, the burdens, the stifled dreams in our backpack, that we walk through life with. Unrealized dreams. Attention not given. Perceptions of love withheld. Mistakes, abuses, pain, trauma, fear. Carried forward, in our bones, in our minds, in our memories. Our...mess.
I first got into this intentional self-development, living with my eyes and heart wide open, fully aware, life-out-loud, hoping to heal. To get there. To that place, where I healed it all. And life would be a walk in the sunshine where nothing caused me trouble anymore, because I did all my work. Yay, I'm fixed, let's go heal the world! :throws glitter in the air:
:insert ironic laugh here:
No, unfortunately. And for me, freedom, epiphany, boundless creativity, inner change and transformation comes not in my ultimate and grand healing... but in deep acceptance that I will always have this pack on my back; my mess. My stuff. That stuff can change, things go in, things come back out. New experiences and joy go in, fear and pain go out. But then with adventure comes risk, and more sometimes more pain, so in that goes. And this, I think, is Life. That pack will always be there, it's my story, it's who I am and where I've been. And stories change... I'm constantly emptying and refilling the pack. But I'm owning it. Seeing it, knowing it, being with it. And traveling along anyway, open and trusting, knowing that pack will always be there. And that's okay. Because we've all got one. And I start thinking more about... searching through each other's backpacks rather than... feigning perfection. Because it's a lie. One I won't buy anymore.
And that little girl? That young, sweet, innocent little Stacie? She's still in there and when she's scared or nervous or overly exuberant or excitable, I just carry her too, with everything else. I pick her up, hold her close, and carry her with me (symbolically, of course). Because I can keep her safe and I can do my best to bring her what she wants. I think that's what all of our anxieties are about, really. That little young boy or young girl that has fears and anxieties and doubts and worries... but also, also... big dreams and hope and resilience and magic and wildness and that wonderful, playful, beautiful optimism.
Hello, heart. I see you. I'm listening.
what if there is no Meaning?
what if we are here, simply to Love?
To relish in what was once an abundant paradise?
what if...we had it all:
rivers, streams, wildlife, waterfalls?
conscious thought to appreciate it all
and to see and connect with each other?
and maybe somewhere,
in the realm of conscious thought,
we began to question and seek.
the seek for meaning, we had to assign meaning
great, grand, unquestionable meaning,
to such simple beauty and abundance.
we had to explain it to ourselves,
a prime reason for existence,
for what was once Heaven on earth.
to be sure, such paradise came with perils:
natural disasters and unexpected events;
the very wrath and ferocity of nature, Herself.
let us always remember that to be natural
is to be both beautiful and serene,
while also being savage and unapologetic.
utmost beauty and Light in contrast
with destruction and darkness.
this is Life. at its most simple, without pretense
and the delicious sugarcoating that we love so much.
the glaze that makes our lives so palatable and sweet,
the desire to magnify the beautiful
and look past the broken and raw and ferocious.
but we had to find meaning,
we had to, and we do still.
and so we created belief.
and then there were divergent beliefs.
this caused conflict.
and hell on Earth,
as humans battled with their beliefs
in their attempts to understand and explain what was given
in such simplicity and ease in Being.
we are here to work and to Love,
to care for ourselves and others,
to nourish and replenish,
to celebrate, to dance, to smile.
in our search to create meaning,
we've lost our true purpose.
what Life ought to mean:
Love, effort, abundance, celebration, creation, consolation, connection
what we've created in our time here:
conflict, judgments, illness, imbalance, cruelty, distortion, stagnancy, hatred, greed
we've also created:
progress, growth, art, masterpieces,
bold and unabashed testaments to our collective existence.
we bear witness to our searching hearts,
we provide proof of our existence,
we leave imprints, we plan and calculate memories
in a desperate attempt to scream out that
WE WERE HERE.
but what if there is nothing to fix?
what if this is who we are?
what if... Life... is simply this?
but not just to live
but to dive in deep
and live loudly.
to communicate, freely.
to express, to feel,
to move beyond,
to not conceal,
but to show, to share,
to glow, to be aware
of each other, so gratefully.
and how precious is this?
these strings, these precious things,
these tethers, these threads,
a simple tug, a lonely moment,
travels and connects us
to each other, but really,
back to ourselves.
because to see each other's eyes
and to breathe each other's sighs
above and between the
clenched fists and the cries
is to be Love
to be in connection
to be awakened
to know that we are all in it together
it's not how long Life is,
but it's what we do with it.
perhaps this is the question to ask:
not the why, and wherefore, and how-come
of it all, but the what.
deep into Life.
what are we doing with it?
Hello friends. It's been a while.
I'm at one of those exquisite places...when I fall off my bike. Slide off the chair, step in a puddle, hit myself in the face with a door. You get the picture...
What exactly...do we think we know?
I've had more and more folks approaching me, talking, chatting about spirituality. Spiritual awakening, what is it? Relating to things I've said or written and I relate to what they say, and in those moments...we grow. We acknowledge each other, we nod, we smile. Even if we don't see eye to eye in our interpretations, we ponder the same things. We are no longer alone in what we were experiencing. And this is beautiful no matter where we are in the circle. Because the secret is... the further we go, the less we know. And that's the real gift: it's faith, trust, and appreciation for the unknown. Freedom of mind, of other people's thoughts. The journey of the Self. Gratitude for the exploration. Gratitude for rising each morning, starting our days intentionally, and not knowing what wonderful things might happen or what challenges we might face. What a kick in the pants. And I wouldn't change a moment, the whole ride so far has helped me to become a more compassionate, patient, creative, appreciative person, finding more courage, grace, and persistence than I've ever known I had. Humbled in gratitude. <3
This is a loaded question. And I will say, that it's different for all of us, yet similar in its scope. Awakening...is transformation. Talk to people, observe, look around, notice things. Simplicity: nature, beauty, sunsets, smiles, ocean waves, birds in flight. Kindness in strangers. Patterns, trends, similarities, differences. Pay attention to how the world works, how nature works, how people work, most importantly, yourself. How YOU work. And you'll begin to understand. There is such beauty, a stillness, a peacefulness, a great Love... all around us, despite what media tells us. See...that we are all connected. Your awakening may be different from mine in what you see, feel, and know. But yet, we change. We grow. We're evolving.
I can't paint you a picture or write it all down succinctly, or explain anything to you. I can't give you a how-to list. Not really, no one can. It's about you. I can tell you about me, but I can't tell you about you. Only you...can. And that's pretty much the whole basis of waking up. Understanding that you are an individual that is multifaceted, dynamic, interesting, shocking, boring, all of it. You are a story. A grand collection and enactment of hopes, fears, dreams, and struggle. Dark and light, sorrow and joy. A dance of all of these things. And we can change what our stories say, if we see them for what they are. Once we know who we are. We get to choose, once we can see clearly. Some of us see magic, some of us see science. It's all the same to me. The true nature of the human experience... is amazingly magical and incredible to me. So the science IS the magic, and the magic is proven. It's just reality, one that most of humanity has fallen asleep to.
Who are you?
That's a whole blog in itself, but this is the direction I will leave you with: remove time. Who you are isn't your breakfast, your clothing, your mate, your job. If you were dropped into another time, far removed from this one, and you woke up, searching, exploring, seeking, feeling, acting...who is that person? That...is who you are. A soul, a being, who observes, adapts, and moves. We make the rest of it up, based upon history, experience, the thoughts of others, the ties we make, family, friends, jobs, adventure. We create stories of identity. Wake up to the idea that...you can create your life, on purpose. Consciously. Intentionally. Not as a victim of life, but as a creator of life.
I can tell you that there is great freedom to be found in facing fear, although I can't tell you what your fears are.
I can tell you that you're worthy of an amazing life and that it's okay to want things, although I can't tell you what to want.
I can tell you that I've had the most humbling, beautiful, awe-inspiring glimpses into the worlds of spirit and energy, although I can't prove them to you or tell you how to "achieve it" yourself.
I can tell you that all you need is within you and that all you need to do is listen.
I can tell you what an awakening might feel like, in terms of internal thoughts and feelings and experiences:
- suddenly seeing the world with new eyes, as if you were reborn
- finding yourself more aware of your connection to others and to the world around you, often without reason, and often at times of great grief and sorrow
- vivid dreams that seem to convey messages to you, sometimes abstract, sometimes crystal clear
- noticing patterns and synchronicity more often, and asking questions about whether they might mean something, when you had never entertained those thoughts
- consciously wanting to learn more and more; you may feel like a sponge, wanting to soak up input, constantly
- you may begin to notice things you weren't aware of before about societal function and structure, and you start to question those things as well (government, education, food, medicine, social groups, equality)
- you may feel driven by impulse, you may feel more creative, you may feel urged to follow your heart and trust your gut feelings more
- you may find yourself in battle between fact and fiction, science and spirit, what you know and what you imagine
- you may explore religion, if you never have, or you may disband with your set religion altogether, favoring freedom and compassion, but something will cause a shift in your understanding of spirituality
- you will just KNOW...that there is more. More than you ever imagined before. And you'll find yourself drawn to others who share your new views and perspectives, and your life, as you know it, will change.
Transformation is a gift. Allow it, allow your Self to rise up. And be kind, patient, and gentle with yourself. Treat yourself as if you were reborn, because you are. Parts of you must die, in order to truly live. Know that you're not alone. Know that once you fight through the jungle of doubts and torment and pain and fear and nastiness...that you'll find beauty, joy, wonder, awe, and hope. That you'll wonder how you made it through...before. Every sleepless night of thinking and rethinking and praying for peace. Every book, every new adventure, every new soul you encounter is meant to help you and guide you...not punish you. See everyone and everything as a teacher, and you'll come through lessons very quickly.
Learn. Grow. Evolve.
And always, always, always...come back to Love. <3 It's who we are, beneath it all. xo
The passage in Ana J. Awakens about the Native American prophecy has been coming up. I'd love to say, here...go buy the book and read. And I'd love for you to read my book, truly. But, that's just not me to push it onto people. It was never about that for me. Whomever is meant to find and be transformed by my words...will be. So, find the passage here...get from it what you will. Kahente Genesee was a young, light-skinned woman, who was taken in by Northern tribe in the 1600s. She, and this following passage, were inspired by many readings from Black Elk and other indigenous leaders, the Hopi prophecy, and many hours of secluded meditation in nature with Native flute music. It was an enchanting experience, feeling and writing these parts of the book. I really enjoyed it, it was a blessing and quite an illumination. There was a lot more about Kahente that I'd written: lineage and so forth, her back story...but it didn't appear in the book.
And if you haven't heard...something epic is happening right now. Native tribes from all over, in unprecedented ways, are coming together at Cannonball River/Standing Rock, in South Dakota to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. It gives me chills to see these brothers and sisters flock together, to fight for water. Water, indeed is life. But it's about so much more than the pipeline. Our indigenous people, across our sacred Earth, have time-honored respect, reverence, and love for our planet's natural resources. I, for one...am eternally grateful to them and am inspired by their protest. To see the old ways, these ideas of caring for our Earth, as our Mother...which I do believe that she is...as God is our Father...a sacred balance of masculine and feminine divine energies... to see attention brought to these people and communities is awe-inspiring and I believe signals great changes for us.
Groups all over the world are waking up, blinking open their eyes, and knowing...that something is off. Something isn't working. Something just isn't right...and that perhaps it is time for change. And more and more, change is upon us. Welcome to the Shift. Consciousness. Compassion. Humanistic values. Collaboration. Community. Gifted communication. Dreams and higher ideals. Visions of a better world for our children's children and growing exhaustion with the status quo.
Forgive me while I let it all go and muse, a moment... If you don't get me, it's cool. Stop scrolling and go back to what you were doing. A year ago, I wouldn't get me , either. But those who do find resonance here...this is for you...or for us.
We are waking up in different ways, with different focal points: environment, spirit, exposing corruption in multiple areas, financial chaos, a government that doesn't care about us, fighting for clean food and water, vocal opposition on the front lines. It goes on and on. Some of us lean toward the physical...peak performance, stealthy bodies that are ready for anything. Survival in any condition, without excuses. These people are warriors, they inspire us to achieve our greatest health and fitness, which is important. Motivational speakers and evolvers...help us to go within and find peace, balance, and hone our mental health, developing a fierce mindset and focus. And spiritual leaders guide us back toward our souls, our spirit center, and the Great spirit or universal energy that connects us all. And women...with children or not...you are our Mothers. Extensions of the feminine divine, pumped full of compassion, nurturing, charged with inspiration, creativity, a heart bursting with love for anything small, fragile and delicate, a protective passion for nature, in all its forms. A desire to mend, heal, protect, comfort, and support. This is your true nature, and it is not weakness, by any means. It is essential, it is needed, and it is sacred. Let yourself shine, be a beacon of kindness and nurturing for your fellow human beings, in an auspicious time in our history. Whatever your line of work, rich or poor, young or old. Allow your heart to release its armor and let the Love out. Our Earth needs it. Humanity needs it. Striving for our best selves includes balance: mind, body, soul.
We are...waking up. In profusion now. Those who've learned and grown and found deeper connections can help others through as they go through confusion, mental strain, anxiety, the storms that we all talk about...wondering what the shift is going on. Help each other. Lift each other up. I would be lost without my group of evolving friends, near and far, as we fought through the chaos together, seeing the world change...or witnessing ourselves change, on deep levels. And coming through it...to see peace, connection, calmness, and purpose. Oneness. A synergy, an unconditional Love beyond what we used to believe in, was born and it spread out. As it is for so many of us. And please, if you are experiencing anything like I've mentioned and feel lost, confused, anxious, like your world is crumbling and your ideas and beliefs are being challenged...you aren't alone. Allow your process, find support, and stay strong through it. You are loved and are so much more important than you know...if you are going through this transformation. It truly is a gift. But it's harder before it's easier. You're not crazy, you're not losing your mind. If you are, than many, many, many of us are. If you feel genuinely depressed or can't get out of bed or function...get some help, reach out and talk to someone that you trust.
I believe that we are finally seeing our social structures and systems for what they are...and we are seeing through them. As if they were bars of iron. And losing these safety nets, of who we are...our very identity as members of societies with certain established norms and understandings and expectations...is terrifying. "The old world must crumble, so the new world can begin."
Many ideologies and philosophies...even prophecies...point to what may be going on for us, and I will let you find what you find, on your own. But always remember to come back to your breath. Your body. The present moment. Find and listen to your inner voice, nurture that connection. Hear yourself. And find some faith...in something. God, the universe, yourself, a friend who can mirror you and keep you steady. The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Something. An anchor of some sort.
That said...here is Kahente's vision, reprinted from Ana J. Awakens ©2016, Stacie Hammond. If you share this passage, please credit my work.
These are my words. 1675. Kahente Genesee
I see a time when Earth will take a deep, cleansing breath; her children will slowly begin to wake, filled up with love and hope. I see [that] new generations of my children’s children will shed the false world to be imposed upon them. They will know and feel that there is more. They will love, trust, and bring back the dying old ways, in the constructs of the new. This wave of awakening will spread across the Earth; some would remain asleep, but little by little most would awaken. These children will breathe in the new life and air of their Earth mother. I see that spirit, wonder, reverence, and peace will be restored. And that the Earth, stripped bare and weary, will heal, as will its people. New generations will return to the land, with respect for it, they will honor it, practice gratitude and patience in growing their crops, and in their hunt. They will respect all living things, including each other. They will honor the sun and moon and all the natural beauty of life. They will honor the wind, and the water of Life. They will honor the early ones, before them.
My words have been hidden for many years, I’ve never shared my visions. I know the time isn’t right. I know all of the people that took me in have a slightly different set of beliefs, however well meaning they are. But my vision will stand, I have seen this as well.
When the time is right for Earth’s children to awaken, my words will be found, and a series of signs will begin to pass.
A few chosen people will be awakened and inspired with Light, and they will know not why they must, but will spread love and peace effortlessly throughout the Earth, regardless of adversity, with the speed of lightning piercing the sky. Their mission will be only to love and to spread love. This love, this remembering, will be the first wave, that begins the awakening.
A Tribe will come together to aid many children, who against all odds, despite fear and hatred of others, will go into the world spreading peace, restoring natural and sacred spaces; this act of kindness will echo throughout the Earth, warming the hearts of many, leading to the second wave.
Wise ones will emerge, hidden but conditioned for years with a mission to heal the Earth, but finally having the proper channels of spreading their messages. They will continue to love but will educate others. Teachers and leaders and storytellers and healers will grow from the Earth like blessed flowers, blossoming outward with divine guidance, to lead the rest. By now, many, many children have been awakened, and they march on knowing their mission. These awakened, chosen children will always flock to each other, like the crows on the plain. They will see it in the eyes of one another, they will feel it instinctively, as the bee recognizes the flower. But they will not fight nor battle; they nurture, support, and love. They know that love, the ultimate power, is their weapon. They know it is a force of formidable power; the mightiest arrow against oppression. They work together for the greater good. This wave may last for many years. This is the third wave of awakening.
A great and terrible challenge will come, as the Earth’s people still battle one another, and many still sleep. Humanity will face a point of no return. To heal and change, or to stay sleeping and perish. The challenge of the many awakened people will be to overcome the selfish deeds, the violence, the consumption, the fears, and to maintain peace, love, reverence, respect, renewal of the Earth, forgiveness, and above all...connection to Spirit. Hate will bring more hate; the awakened must remain vigilant in their mission. They must stand firm in their resolve, allow the veil to be lifted, to show the truth. They must see their oppressor, and this will be painful. For the oppressor, is among them. Humans have created a dangerous oppressor, the violator of the sacred, and must work in peace to reverse the damage done. The people, the children of Earth, must come together and remember who they are. Remember the old ways, utilizing the new.
The Earth, their mother, will provide sustenance in harsh climates. She will cleanse herself and nourish herself, and all the creatures, big and small, that she cares for. The awakened will overcome, steadfastly. The Earth, the stars, the sun and moon, the early ones, and the elements, all work to bring about the desires of humanity. The hardships arise when humans desire terrible things, that are born of fear, regret, greed, doubts and shame. The waves of awakening will slowly cleanse these ugly feelings. With each deep breath from Mother Earth, more ugliness will be purged out to the surface, like bad spirits that corrupt us being chased away. More of the wicked and lost will awaken to the Source of love that surrounds them. They will let go their frightened ways and learn to trust their Mother, Spirit, and ancestors again. Many, many souls will walk in faith, harmony, love, and peace, with a collective vision of the healed Earth. A spiritual Earth. This will be the fourth wave.
When the spirits and grandfathers and grandmothers have been satisfied and see that humanity has awakened to rejoice in their gifts, to return to the ways of the first people, the Earth and its people will truly begin a major healing, and the path back to the sacred will become clear. This paradise on Earth will require changes. Great changes, for great changes were harshly imposed and allowed that took the spirit and beauty and majesty away. I do not foresee destruction of our Earth, as many do. I do not foresee only one kind or tribe of people to be herded together and saved. I see awakened souls from all corners of the Earth, coming together in unity, in harmony, to reset the balance of all things. When this balance and natural order is restored, a beautiful and sacred Earth can be found and celebrated once again.
If these changes do not occur, and the ways of old are lost, given to more and more heedless death, destruction, disrespect for the Earth and all of her creatures and resources, I foresee a great cleansing of the Earth, which may appear as destruction, but it will be simply a deconstruction, of a false world that was built upon the back of what is eternal.
But, if all the awakened can work together, using the tools and speed and wisdom of future generations, honoring their Creator, they can create their own paradise, once again. It all depends upon their desires and actions, and respect and love for their Earth mother and each other.
When the time is right, when enough have awakened, these words will come out and be seen and heard. Light will be shared once again. The awakening and path to healing will begin.
Blessings and Light…
(before her time; from the beautiful valley)
Stop the Black Snake. It's time for renewable energy. It's time for a shift.
Hello friends. It's been a doozy of a week or two. Let's just say that some recent revelations, crumbling of illusions...still... have led me to explore some old things. The past.
Everywhere we turn we read something that tells us that the past is in the past. "Let it go...let it go..." But I really do think that in order to have a clear picture of where we're going, that we must look at and know where we've been. And not to forget...but to remember.
I finally went through an old box that's been lurking around. Songs. Lyrics, chords, notes, poems...from the nineties. A lifetime ago, and yet...reading through these things, these snippets, these snapshots in time reminding me who I was, what I was feeling, what I wanted...was like reuniting with an old friend. I laughed, I cried a little, I sighed, I smiled. Music. I lived and breathed words and music. I came across notebooks that should've been filled with notes that pertained to the courses I was taking...but instead? Songs. Words, words, feelings, more words.
This in particular stuck out:
"June 10, 2000:
Too often our surroundings can suffocate us. We can become overwhelmed and feel backed into a corner. Our senses get muddled and at times it seems we're screaming with urgent intensity and yet no one is listening. Sometimes all we need is to wake up, in every way a person can awaken, and look at the world with a different perspective. Every day can be a new beginning. I know that now.
Looking back, browsing through the experiences I've had living in the microcosm I call 'my world,' it took a while to get here. Just like any other, my life was filled with ups and downs, high hopes and disappointments, triumphs and failures. What I've realized, is that every experience, every person we meet and every situation we encounter, help us to grow.
Bad things happen, but we can learn from them. The good things we can keep with us in our memories, in our hearts; they can remain there to keep us warm. In order to appreciate the positive, we must endure the negative."
I'm not sure what prompted these words...the perspective...although I'm sure if I ask around I'll find out something. Reading them took my breath away. I thought such a perspective, those words, were new and shiny for me. But they weren't. I always say that we are writing...our whole lives. And literally, right here, in my own handwriting...I see the impetus for the writing that became the novel I wrote and the quotes and inspirational words that I share. The vision, the seed, was planted so many years ago. Hidden, growing, in silence. With me...completely unaware of them. And maybe it's more than that.
Big picture...I feel as though I've just rekindled a relationship with my soul. With the child inside. And it's...awe inspiring. Inexplicable. It's...connection, in the best possible way.
What happens to us?
So many of us, as children, and into adolescence...have such vivid dreams. I was knee deep in these old songs I wrote, and they were just dripping with passion. Longing. Ideas of love. Mystery and magic. Heartbreak, emptiness, loneliness, feeling lost. And at the same time, envisioning a bright future, healing the world, breaking down stereotypes. So idealistic, so full of hope. All I wanted to do was write music, sing, and inspire people. Connect with people, connect people to each other. Let them know that if only for 3 and a half minutes...that I felt it too...that they weren't alone.
So, once again, looking back...I see that somewhere, some time...I decided that my dreams weren't enough. They wouldn't cut it. I got "real." A passion became a hobby which became a once in a while thing...which eventually faded into obscurity. Somewhere along the line, I let the external control my wishes. I stopped believing, in all of it. Until the desire to write finally rose back up. And I am still beyond grateful for that day...March 28, 2015. Renaissance began. The ME inside, woke up.
A lot of this awakening that we read about...this waking up, evolving, remembering "who we are..." doesn't always have to mean something profound and epic. Sometimes, I think that a spiritual awakening is an obstacle course, bursting with opportunities for insight and life lessons...learning compassion and imperfection... showing us a whole new perspective and vision of our lives and what they could be... to lead us right back to where we started...ourselves. Indeed, it starts within. Just think of all the systems that exist...within us. Each of us. From neutrinos to bacteria to organs to our bodies and minds and souls...there are indeed universes within each of us. And yes, we are in relationship with ourselves. From our cells to our speech. And then, to make it more fun and exciting, we are also in constant relationship with everything and everyone else. Perhaps that's why we see "Self-love" everywhere. There's so much to balance and work on within each one of us, and each thought and word and action...has impact.
Wow...so what does that mean? I don't know. I think it means that we owe it to the greater good of our species and planet, at least, to understand and know ourselves enough to be responsible participants in the journey of life.
We're all the same, at the core of things...and yet there is only one ME. There is only one YOU. Remembering who I am has more to do with the little girl who lost her way, years ago, then with ascending to mysterious dimensions of spirituality and bending space-time. And that's another topic, entirely.
It's fascinating to see how I've come full circle. Let's find ourselves, the ones who've been hidden, waiting, with so much to say, having been silenced for so long, before the influence and hardships of life got inside...and changed us. Let's find our Selves...from this life. Right here, right now. And let's get our hands dirty with learning and experiencing, with "ups and downs, high hopes and disappointments, triumphs and failures." Let's live...while we're here. Right? Isn't that the point? And to somehow find the balance in all of it, and find joy knowing that we are awake, alive, and participating in the writing of our own stories.
Whatever this Life is...it's happening. And to make the most of it, is to know...who we are. What we want. What fills us with passion. And maybe some things ought to stay in the past. Some things need another look, and they're let go. And maybe some things need to be reintegrated and given the attention that they deserve. And something else that fascinates me...one glance at these old words, from...1997, most seem to be...and the melody instantly came back. I sang them in my head as I read. How powerful is that? Not a thought in nearly 20 years, and then...wow. Instant recognition and recall. So, what does all this mean? I'm not quite sure...but I will say that I've started writing music again.
Hello, heart. I see you. Let's talk. I'm listening. <3