It's been a minute.
I've been doing lots of reflecting, writing, regrouping, lately. As I reflect over the past year, what I've done and seen, what I've learned, where I've traveled, what I've come to see and understand about myself, and about my perceptions of others... I am just blown away, at the process. At who I am now, when I look back at who I was then. I've made another lap around the circle. The absolute truths I knew then, versus the illuminated and ever-changing perspectives that I have now. Oh, these blessed spirals.
And I'm writing through all of it:
Wild Horses and Mistakes: The Year I Followed My Bliss, Accomplished Absolutely Nothing, and How it Changed My Life Forever
(Subtitle is a bit long...it's in progress, but that's the feel of things.)
Meaning, I didn't "do" anything but choose myself, my priorities, my health, my joy, my creativity. I didn't have a list to tackle or a pile of to-dos and must-haves. I followed my heart, my intuition. My wild horses. And that's a concept, in and of itself. It's never just about the horses, is it?
Anyway, I know you'll enjoy getting under the hood, peeling back my chest-plate and seeing my heart and my reassembled guts in this new sacrifice to the Gods of Creativity and Musing. I can't wait to share it and set it free, but I am deep into revisiting, mindfully, each place, chapter, and section.
The Soul writes; the ego edits.
The past year has had me up in the clouds, soaring with birds of prey as they watched the wilds below. Galloping across rugged terrain, not knowing where I was going, stopping at water holes, weathering storms and fire, and just knowing that I'd get there. Somehow. It's had me waking in new places to new faces, smelling and sensing and feeling new things, absorbing new vibrations, and healing on levels so deep that I didn't think I'd ever reach them. It's had me shatter illusions and chase new ones, only to see them disintegrate in my fingers and drip slowly out of my hands, back into the seamless expanse of energetic alchemy that surrounds us. Constantly. And it does. We are, at all turns, exactly where we need to be.
Hold out your hand, take one step, and begin. It really is that simple.
We are sublime players and doers and crafters and actors and creators...who can, at our best, move effortlessly through what may feel like a heavy minefield of pain, disappointment, shattered hopes, dramatic fears, deep loss... and we can get through, easily, with all that we need... when at our best, most true versions of who we are, as living, breathing, dynamic, sensing, beings.
The past year in question began last fall with a trip out to the east end of Long Island, the furthest trip I'd taken solely and purposefully on my own... it was an hour or so away. I stayed in a bed and breakfast and unearthed a sacred chest full of memories, pain, stories, and experienced powerful growth. And that trip began a quest, a Campbell-esque journey of my own. Because I saw that not just solitude, but the allure of the new and strange and unknown, brought the most amazing spiritual insight. In the way of facing our own demons, our most disturbing beliefs about ourselves and each other. Because it's all thought, really. Perception and response.
And I can't possibly sum up in one blog post all the truths I've witnessed, the stories I've rewritten, the deep healing, the pain. The numbing, seething, darkest pain that I never thought I'd see eye to eye again. And meeting it, head on... and surviving through it. And the freedom in that. Finding the most special souls who understood what I was experiencing, as I experienced it. Possibly keeping me in one piece and lending me their strength. Flashlights. Candles and Light and Love and symbolism and reminders and guidance and whispers and hope... and faith. Always faith. Just... keep... going. And the passing of Life before my eyes as we got rear-ended and sent back to the starting gates, at the peak of Bliss and perfection and understanding. Always, the pendulum swings. And the gratitude for those setbacks, for those life-changing illuminating moments: that remind us in such a powerful, unmistakable way... what is truly important.
Self, family, friends, community. And living through to heal. When we take that often painful, scary and tumultuous journey within, to know ourselves, deeply... we begin to heal. In healing ourselves, we heal others. But also, we heal the karmic past, the residue, the eons of pain that lingered heavy in our bones. Women who came well before me and were stricken down and cut out for their wisdom. And the gift that these times bring, in carrying that wisdom forward. In never letting that Light die.
I could write for days about it, and I do, in this new project. I write about a lot of things, though, because really... it's about a divine and very human balance. It's about seeing energetically and intuiting and listening, but it's about using that insight to sculpt the present moment, here and now. It's about meditation and self-love, and also about using your voice and knowing when to let your tiger teeth show, just a little. it's about loving and doting and giggling and cherishing our babies and kids... and knowing that we can also plan and strategize, make the right decisions, and plant our feet firmly in soil, getting it all done, while we dance in the clouds, looking down upon it all in gratitude. It's about a healthy, grounded, free-flying balance of all things. It's about equilibrium, and what it takes to find the right balance, for each of us. Because it's different. That's the key. One doesn't suit all. That's why we do this work. It's why I do. To find what works for me, and to utilize it here, now, in my Life, in my world, for myself and for those that I love. it's about authenticity. Truth.
Wild. It's not about being reckless and obnoxious and surly and crude and promiscuous. Although it can be, without apology, but not always. For me wildness is about nature. That includes human nature. Just as a wild mare runs through a barren landscape, she knows to stop for water when she sees it. She knows to rest. She knows to protect and teach her little ones. She knows when to run and when to fight. Intrinsically, it's in her nature. It's in her wildness.
So, finding our wildness I think, is more about finding...ourselves. And listening.
In that quest, I've made a discovery. Any of you who follow me on social media have seen my fluctuating posts about health, fitness, different diets, and so on. Trying to get back to that more slender, more youthful, more exuberant "me," from my my youth. That in itself has been a journey. I had a lot of success with the Paleo diet, in losing weight and warding off sugar cravings. it was great for that. But in the process, I developed a lot of joint pain: bursitis pain in my hips, low back pain, well, I've fought that since my c-section. Knee flare-ups. And the crash over the summer, well, it set me back something fierce. All the progress that I'd made went out the window. I was grateful that we survived, that my son was okay... first and foremost. But the glimmer of that wore off and my pain got worse. Much worse. As the summer wore on, I felt crippled. Frustrated. Defeated and bit depressed. I felt, in body, like I was twice my age. I was wearing belts, taking salt baths, sleeping with special pillows.
i turned inward.
And I did get back up and back to the gym, for physical therapy, as I healed through it. But I still felt like a chronic patient, always hurting, wearing a cloak of perpetual sadness and feigning hope and joy. It was exhausting. I was depleted and felt guilty for not being able to be...me. The cheerful, light-shining, optimistic joie de vivre type of me that I can be. But I got through it. As people do.
So, here's what happened: it all caught up with me, as things do when we ignore them. I was knocked on my ass with a bug, a virus of some sort. My whole body shut down. All I could do was lay in bed. Everything hurt. I was completely out of control. And a friend recommended I... do an enema. Gross... thanks for nothing, I thought. Or... a juice fast. Hm...
I had tried the raw diet, the juicing, the vegan lifestyle, and it never, never worked. And I now know why: fat. Ten or so years ago, when I first tried to go vegan, I went low-fat vegan. And I never did processed food. So... that didn't leave me a lot to eat and I eventually went mad and started eating people on the train. No, I made that up. But I did invade a local restaurant and wolf down an entire rack of ribs, in a very not-demure fashion. I was completely deprived and starving. After that, I swore it off and kept eating the way I wanted to. I started eating seasonally: heavier in winter, lighter in summer. I tried to listen to my body, and it worked for a while. I found the Paleo diet and it promised all the solutions to my problems! Yay! Well, I don't know anymore.
I had a re-deux, with the juicing, about two weeks ago. To get my ass out of bed and healing, I lived on fresh-made vegetable and fruit juices and my old-reliable bone broth from my Paleo book, for a few days. No solid food, although I added some probiotics and supplements, too. And within days, I was up and at 'em and nearly pain-free. As of now, I haven't eaten meat in about two weeks and I've never felt better. Joint pains that have plagued me all year, are nearly gone. I can't explain what that means. To be in "chronic pain," and accept it as such, and for it to leave. It's...awe. A miracle. I'm a believer. Spiritually, I let Gaia heal me. Real-world speak: plant-based is no joke. It works. Get the sludge out, and your body will heal. Period. We are amazing, miraculous, self-healing machines.
So, for now, amid all the other changes in my life... I am living 80/20 plant-based. I indulge in some good cheeses and free-range eggs here and there. And my collagen-filled bone broth. And my raw wildflower honey with capping. So, Moby would still hate me. But... I don't. I love me. And I'm happy to say that I'm taking better care of myself than I ever have, which frees me to do so much more good in this world. And we need it. I'm just so grateful to be here, I don't what else to say. I'm just so fucking grateful, not to hurt. I'm like Oscar-speech-emotional as I write this, which sounds hokey, but for me... it's that big of a deal. I don't know if this is my forever lifestyle and way of eating. I don't make those promises anymore, because... Life. But I promise that I will listen to what my body asks for, and come through for myself. Because to let go of this... would be stupid.
So. Good things coming. Wild Horses is writing itself, and I'll not rush it. But it's coming, more every day. Writing it, living it, has changed me. It's brought me back to my natural, wise-woman-wildness in all the most beautiful ways.
And for all my readers still feeling the dark... keep walking. Please. It doesn't last, you'll get stronger, the Sun will come. The Light is everywhere, once you let the darkness fade. Let the pain through and then out of you. You can. I promise. You're okay. I see you. And woman to woman, or human to human, I love you. We're all in this together. xoxo
It's been a week since I attended a half-day women's retreat with the lovely ladies at The Life Detox Retreats. This is the sort of event that I always push back, make excuses about, or try to work around. I mean it's half a day! But I promised myself that I'd show up. For starters. I'm so glad that I did, here's why:
I say this a lot...that magical things happen when women gather together, with like intentions. A synergy, a web of interconnectivity, is born that never existed before.
We began around 8 am, which for me, on a Saturday...is ridiculous. I wanted to stay in bed. Lounge, indulge, snooze, and stay in my luscious dreaming. But I promised, and this was, after all, the year of choosing ME (the premise of Wild Horses and Mistakes.)
I rushed a bit, but made it on time. The grass was still cool and damp with dew, the sun was still low. There was a peaceful quiet: a crispness, a clean-ness...about the energy in the air. I remember thinking... this is why people wake up early. For the stillness. Wow. It was beautiful. (Not making promises to become an early bird...)
I wandered in and found the women, chatting, standing, sitting, assembling around yoga mats. We started the day with some quick greetings and introductions from the facilitators and then eased into a gentle yoga routine. It was just lovely, being outdoors on a sprawling and lush estate, surrounded by green, at the foot of the harbor. Hearing the birds overhead in the canopy, feeling the fresh morning breeze on my skin, opening to the whole experience. It was blissful.
As the day went on, and we nibbled on wholesome foods, and moved into different areas for different methods of inner-work, like EFT (tapping), I found that I was surrounded by women from all places in the circle. Some were a few laps ahead of me, and had deeper, richer stories to tell, and deeper, more painful wounds to carry forward. Some were a few rounds behind me. We were all different, we lived different lives. We felt different levels of stress or worry or pain or sadness... and also different levels of motivation, dreaming, goal-setting, and challenge busting. Because there is both, there will always be both.
Dream and envision, while overcoming obstacles and pushing through fears and pain. And the scale of these things will vary; our best looks different at different times in our lives.
There is a balance.
I remembered and brought so much more to the surface that day, and in the days after. How beautiful it is to share our stories, to gain perspective, and to connect with each other. To observe. To listen. To see pieces of myself, in all of these women. How grateful I was just to be there. To witness. I gained a great deal of gratitude and perspective. It was a perfect little reset.
it was solidarity.
But also, the number one thing that kept bubbling up for me, all week... was exploration. Curiosity. Imagination, dreaming, creativity. All of this involved exploration. I had been in a bit of a tug-of-war, for a while, neck-deep in paradox, while writing more of my current project, which is probably the most honest and vulnerable piece of writing I've worked on, thus far. Even in that, there is challenge, a battle, a charge forward and a rush of resistance. It's all part of the experience. The give and take.
I'd thought for so long, and really took to heart, that to be spiritual... was to be silent, obedient, and stoic. Receiving, only. Just be still and grateful, and all I need will come to me. Ohm... OK. Let's get real for a minute, beyond the bullshit and chatter. I have less and less time for it.
Here's the thing with that... in real life: if I were to sit still, in blind gratitude and acceptance of what my life was and never got off my rump to see or do anything new...well, then nothing would ever change. My life would always be as it was, I wouldn't see or do anything different, nor would my son, and I would spend a lifetime limiting myself. Or him. No. Something has to move. Change. Shift. Always.
Writing my first book wasn't so much about the finished product, it was about who I got to be, as I wrote it. As I finished it. And made room for more to flow through. Chasing wild horses, or pursuing our dreams, isn't about what we catch, it's about who we get to be, what we see, how we grow and evolve...as we journey toward them. It's about adventure, the unknown, the other side of fear, the magic and mystery of encountering something new. It's about moments of awe and wonder and magic. To be still and unmoving, is to avoid change. It's safe. Simple. Less threatening, for sure. But to avoid and hide from change is to miss out on growth opportunities, as well as, oh...those simple little things like... bliss, joy, fun, excitement, passion, pleasure, meaning, and magic. All the things that make Life worth living. For me, spirituality is about embracing humanity, not hiding from it, and living in the Mind, alone. It's about coming fully into my body, from my soft stomach, to my head, and all the way out to my finger tips and toes. Being aware of twinges and discomforts and pain and exploring them. Healing them. Also, diving deep into the me inside, exploring there. Allowing emotional pain to surface for healing, and letting it go, and finding myself that much lighter and more free. Closer to wild and unfettered and blissfully abundant, with each healing and release. Stronger and more resilient with each stumble and setback.
To me, this is it. Living full-on, up-close with the Self. Honestly. Full acceptance of all that I am, light and dark. Awareness of what doesn't work, and measured action to improve. All change begins with conscious thought, with an idea, with a seed. But it lingers, unawakened, until action is taken. There must be a catalyst.
Action...is the step through the threshold, into a new world. A leap of faith. A big decision. Facing a fear. A change in plans, a new experience, a flight to another place, meeting someone new... all of these are first steps through that doorway, into a new story. A new adventure. Consciously creating opportunities to encounter new things, face to face. To engage the senses in different ways, to change perspective, to expand.
I am working with a coach now, (I'll gush about her when we're through, I don't want to detract from our work together) and it's doing wonders for staying focused and connected to my creativity. And she said something at our last visit, that stayed and rattled around in my head. Shook things up. It had to do with getting to core wants and desired outcomes, how I'd choose to design my life and experience creativity in a responsive world:
"What if there wasn't a book to write? What if there was no song you had to write and sing? No project to get done? What would it be then? What's beneath that? Without the to-dos?"
Wow. What a storm of stuff! Epic battles started raging inside, don't tell me I can't write! Why can't I sing? Why, what, why... and on and on. Silently, of course. Inside. Me against me. As is everything.
But I considered it, for the sake of the exercise...and some crystal clear truths bubbled up through the mess...
1. I am writer because it's who I am. I'll always write, I always have, because it's just me. It's how I see the world, and whether I share it or not, it will still happen. I live stories; life is art. It's not a have to, it's just me. As much as my arm or my foot is me. The same is true of music. If I went through a day without dancing around the kitchen, holding mini-concerts in the car as I drove, or hearing music within me and letting it out...I'd obviously be very ill or depressed. It just doesn't happen often. So, the answer to that question is: I'd still do and enjoy these things, even if I didn't seek to publish or share them. They're just me. It also made me so much more grateful to have these outlets in my life, and I promised to create more space for them.
2. But what if... if I didn't have those things. What else is it, what is the thing that lights me up, that sets my soul on fire, that mainlines me into Bliss? It's travel. New places, experiences, adventures, people, sights, sounds, smells, landscapes, FOOD. I write and create to process my world, and explain it in my own unique way, but I travel to engage my world. To live. For me, travel is to be in experience of Life, while art is to be in observation of life. (I did say up there that life IS art, so I don't know. Good luck sorting all that out. it might not make sense. It might, though.) Anyway. I thrive on a balance of both. So, if I had no project to work on, if I wasn't writing something or crafting something... I'd definitely be planning my next travel experience.
And here's why all of this is so important: knowing what makes us come alive and feel good, is everything. Knowing what that is, and then doing it, is a recipe for a fulfilling life. It's simple, but it's everything. Human beings, as we grow from childhood and encounter life's slings and arrows, we become wary of joy. We get further and further from it if we don't make an active choice to bring it to mind, and connect to it. Consciously. And stillness, quiet, meditation is key...because in the silence, we hear ourselves again. We hear what it is that we really want. (Pssst. We're still allowed to want things.) Or, we could hear our purpose, or the whisperings of the divine within us, our higher selves, pointing us toward our Truth. Whatever it is, way deep down, that energy, in those buried places, we get to listen to it.
I believe that we don't merely wait for our lives to happen to us, but that we consciously create them. Each day, with each choice. What great reminders I got, this week.
A simple prescription:
Find balance: nourish the body, quiet the mind, honor the soul
Listen and know what you want
Honor that voice, take a step toward what it wants, and live in gratitude of it
Repeat as necessary.
Home sick. After two days indoors, riding it out (much like my Florida friends are doing right now, be safe), I had to get out and get some goodies to help me coast through the ickiness. To the right is my arsenal...lovely tea, bee pollen granules on applesauce, Manuka honey lozenges, used some essential oils in my tea and water today... steam... naps...and yesterday's pot of homemade soup. Today, I had to get out of the house. I just saw myself moping in bed...thinking...I am sitting at the scene of the crime. Breathing in the same air, stuck in the same thoughts. GET OUT! So I drove out to Huntington Village.
It's been quite a while since I've been sick, I don't think I've been ill in a year or so. :knocks on wood: And of course, as things do, it's really got me thinking.
Why haven't I been sick? A valid question. I used to get colds constantly, I used be achey and whiny all the time. I used to be obese, too, and still shocked when I fit into smaller sizes. (And I still whine often, don't worry, I am in fact human.)
All I can figure is that I was living in constant stress, in that former life. Not to mention the not taking care of myself part.
Without delving into the past, I just want to say how important it is to tend to one's own needs. And to get to a place where we know how to discern what those needs are. And there isn't one stock answer on how to do this. And why is this even a thing? Why is it so hard for some of us...to allow that? Why are we so driven to push and pull and deplete and exhaust ourselves? Who are we trying to impress? (Newsflash: whoever it is, they don't care.) I know I'm not alone in this: within the past year alone, mostly since I finished the book, I've become a magnet for empathic, sensitive, free-spirited women. Some of them don't know how amazing they truly are, some of them are light years ahead of me. I love that.
Just tonight, at a favorite, new to me, lovely shop, I had a talk with a woman (total girl-crush on her gorgeous red hair...wow). Self-professed hippie. Me too, I said! We couldn't stop gabbing, such a lovely soul she is. We were talking about the propensity for sensitive folks like us to be drawn to head-strong, in-the-box, must-be-right thinkers. The hustle and grinders, the cold, hard, fact pursuers. And why? Why, why, why, are we? They can eat us up and spit us out, why do we go? She seemed to have a good strong sense of boundary-setting and knowing her limits. (Also bought this gorgeous lotion and the softest flannel shirt ever there...because...I decided that I deserve presents as well as presence, today.)
In the past two days, I've come to realize or remember a few things. Balance. I've always been drawn to the old ways and I still am. Back in the nineties, I was on a quest for all things ancient, mystical, and spiritual. These ideas felt more like me than anything that exists today. This quest continues, to this day... although I had quite a pause in the middle. But what I am now remembering and choosing to honor and focus on, is balance. Regarding the Earth as our mother, we can witness miracles, everyday. Just in the simplest acts of nature. The natural world...IS the magic...and we are a part of that world.
The water of Life. Water that sustains us, feeds vegetation and every species on this planet, just about. The water that our Indigenous ones are standing to protect right now. I won't get into an argument about pipelines and so forth, because it's about more than that. The pipeline was the impetus, the catalyst for this epic coming together. Our early brothers and sisters understood the psycho-physical-spiritual connection to the Earth and it's time that all of this comes back, when our Earth mother needs it to. When humanity needs it to. And have we learned? Will we choose profit over humanity...again? Everything comes back until we learn the lesson. Everything. I am still hopeful.
Air, fire, earth, water. These are the basic building blocks of life. Harnessed, utilized, and cherished...through Spirit. These old beliefs, not that old in the scheme of things, helped us to maintain a connection to our environment, our home. We understood how connected we all are...from the microbe to the ocean. From the human body to the universe itself. Insects, animals, people, trees, birds, oceans, dirt, the wind. All interconnected and interdependent. So therefore, homeostasis and balance were the forefront of their decisions and motivations, from planting and harvesting, to their hunt, to meeting other tribes, to marriages and relationships, and so on. Some call old Native beliefs spiritual hocus-pocus, but friends...they were not. The underpinnings of these beliefs were scientific and nature-based and not unique to the U.S. Indigenous cultures all over the globe understood these things. Pagans (which simply denotes any religions that were not Christianity) and other early civilizations understood these things.
Somewhere, as we became "civilized," we gave away this power to controlling bodies: big agriculture, medicine, government, etc... Becoming civilized took away the tenets of our civilization. Ironic. Today, we are completely dependent on infrastructure that is mediocre and utterly flawed (ironically, while the hypocrite types on her Macbook), and which depends upon limited resources. The insanity is that alternatives exist and are waiting to come into play. Energy. How do we provide energy, electricity, power? Read about Tesla, if you haven't. I admit, I have frustrations with this and it's a nearly daily practice of letting go of the stress that it causes me. Why not change, when we can? Why? Sometimes it makes me so angry that we got here and sometimes...that anger gets out and spills onto everything. Anyway, I have to proactively change my mindset to focus on positive ways to work toward a better world...in my own life, as one woman, making simple, everyday decisions. And I consider it to be part of my purpose to encourage others, quietly or loudly, verbally or through example, to do the same.
I digress...the point is...empathic, peacekeeping folks are drawn to their opposites because of an innate desire to find balance. Yin and yang. Light and dark. Moon and sun. If we are more light and seek to avoid conflict and stay joyful and inspired and so on, we are drawn to darkness and mystery and strength to protect our perceived weaknesses. It's about seeking balance. The trouble is, oftentimes, the allure is more trouble than it's worth.
Now, of course, we seek to provide balance within. To find and draw out the dark and love all of it, rather than seeking the dark outside of us. But make no mistake, the end game is always...balance. Equilibrium.
Tending a cold: it's about more than decongestants. Just as our world is made up of numerous systems, working together, so too are our bodies. Gut flora, bacteria, white and red blood cells, blood sugar, hormones, life-force energy, muscles, and so on. Recovering from physical illness has as much to do with our mental and spiritual state...as it does our bodies. I've gargled, taken in steam, rested, ate soup, all of it. And they all did their part, little by little. Time and rest is crucial, to be certain. But also... came the idea that...I could choose not to be sick anymore. Thoughts matter. Intentions matter. With all of the physical and herbal tricks up my sleeve utilized...I meditated. This is where we access our true gifts. And here, I was able to remove all the toxic thoughts that were causing toxic buildup, physically. Make sense? Well, it works, when I get my head out of my ass and remember to make time to do it. Consider the placebo effect...how could the human body have the same healing effects with a sugar pill...as it does with a prescribed medication? Because the control group thought that it was taking the meds that would cure them. Which shows us, plainly, how much power the mind has over our other systems.
So, with a healthy mindset and a recovering body, I needed fresh air... and I have to say I'm feeling so much better overall. No drugs. Passed a new place while I was out, that offered me a free detox foot bath if I listened to a consultation. So curious...they do all sorts of alkalinizing therapies and such. I'll check it out tomorrow. Can't fight free.
Balance, balance, balance. Now, to practice holding and keeping it despite...obstacles.
Time for some medicinal wine. ;-)
Goodnight. Be blessed. xoxo