Miracles Happen When I Get Out of the Way

That’s been my reminder these past few weeks. (Getting out of the way.) I have a tendency when funk hits the fan to get in there. To stress. To get upset, in the very charming woe-is-me-Life-is-out-to-get-me kind of way. (Really, you should see me some time. You’d probably have a lot more compassion for your own bad days. I know, you’re all surprised. I may have some wisdom and mindfulness, but I also still have an ego to work with and she’s a tough nut to crack.) Continue reading “Miracles Happen When I Get Out of the Way”

There is NO Excuse for Neglecting Yourself (let me show you)

selfneglect

Your idea of self-care might be as simple as showering when you’ve got little ones crawling the walls. It might be as basic as drinking enough water or remembering to eat. It might be as nurturing as a massage or some quiet time to yourself. But how it looks is inconsequential to your willingness to make it happen. Continue reading “There is NO Excuse for Neglecting Yourself (let me show you)”

Crazy Moments are Just Crazy Moments (A Message From My Past Self)

Pssst! I’ve got a brand new e-guide coming out on December 9th. Signup for my newsletter to get first dibs!

Crazy moments are JUST crazy moments, nothing more.

I love when I write things on my blog or Facebook or elsewhere in this case, only to find them a week, a month, 6 months later and at just the right time. It’s like wisdom to myself, from myself, and always in the perfect timing. Continue reading “Crazy Moments are Just Crazy Moments (A Message From My Past Self)”

My Retreat Turned Into Retreating

On my way...

I’ve got my feet up, my heart out, my head on. I’m not sure if I’m ready or just resolute, but I’m on my way. Confronting my resistance with 7 days of all day, every day meditation. It might blow my mind to bits. But that might be a good thing.

That was the photo and those were the words rattling around within me Friday. Right before I turned my phone off, handed it to my hubby, and arrived at the ashram.

I’m not sure how to describe the week that followed. People like to ask if I “had a good time”, but “good” is not exactly the word that fits. It wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t exactly good either.

Useful. That was the adjective I settled on.

It was a useful week. Enlightening. Challenging. Helpful in many ways. Heart-wrenching in others.

I knew I’d be confronting my resistance to meditation, but I had no idea what that resistance was. I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea how I was about to crumble. Shit, I’m not even sure where to start, how to explain it, to describe the gamut of internal movement I went through and where it has lead me, and where it might be leading me now.

I mean, I see it. I feel it. I just have so few words for it.

Five meditations a day (I had thought it was only four). The first one at 6:30am, to which I could barely drag myself out of bed for.

That was my experience the first 4 and a half day actually. Bone-fucking-tired and can’t drag myself out of bed (or off the couch).

I’ve never slept so much in my life. I’d be awake just in time for the first meditation (fall asleep during it of course), then wake long enough to eat breakfast and take a shower, head to the second meditation and fall asleep within 15 min after until the third meditaiton, then eat lunch and try to read until I fell back asleep again, wake up just in time for the fourth meditation, have dinner, and then either fall back asleep until the last meditation or fight to keep my eyes open until I did.

Sleep, eat, meditate, punctuated by reading and discussion circles (of which I often fell asleep during).

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I shouldn’t have been surprised actually. My body tends to put me to sleep when I’m moving through deep work. I’m pretty sure it’s my spirit’s way of making sure my head doesn’t get in the way. I just hadn’t planned for it.

I also hadn’t planned for the way in which I retreated into myself.

Or all the crying.

Cracking open is hard work. It’s messy and more than a little embarrassing. There are so many parallels drawn in my heart, so many images my mind showed me if where I was.

I went expecting to confront the things in my world that were challenging me but all those things fell away. Instead what manifested was my own bullshit, but reflected back by my immediate surroundings. Instead what I dealt with was the deep gorges held within me. (Meaning you can’t do work in your world by withdrawing from it. At some point you’ll have to step back into your world to apply what you’ve learned.)

And there were two main things I saw within me:

  1. Exactly who I am in this body, this mind, this personality, this set of needs, these emotions, this heart.
  2. How skillfully I’ve avoid it.

I saw patterns through eyes that have never seen so clearly. I saw my heart behind a brick wall – to protect it from the world, but also from myself. I saw what I’m capable of – both good and bad. I mourned the death of everything I wanted to see. I rejoiced at what I had long insisted wasn’t allowed in my world.

I realized that one of my greatest desires is to know myself, and then I realized with a sudden start that I did know myself, and part of that self was the desire to still search, to still learn, to experience the depths of myself, the parts that can never fully be known – that that is what makes me Tara. Digging into the depths with ease. Finding beauty in what others see as darkness or ugliness or fear. I realized how dangerous those very pieces of myself could be if not handled with care.

I saw a lifetime of my real self reflected in a thousand choices, a hundred styles, all the ever-changing parts of my chameleon skin pulling together to make a whole. How every varied place I’ve been in my life was really all aspects on the same spectrum I play on.

I think I went hoping to transcend myself and my ego, and instead I ended up fitting more snuggling into my own skin.

So much more happened. Things that tore my chest open and toppled me to the floor. But each time I try to write them out, they draw themselves back again.

Right now I’m unraveling what all this unraveling means for me back in the “real world”. I can feel a need to shift, to reclaim, to embrace myself (with a bit of a middle finger to the whispers in my head that I shouldn’t). I’m wanting to unravel how to hold onto this comfortable, settled place I found when I stepped away from the busy and the crazy and the push-pull of the world.

But until I get that figured out, I’ll leave you with this, because it makes me laugh…the cocktail and decadent meal I treated myself to after I left Friday night. Because every week at an ashram should be celebrated with alcohol, baby back ribs, and cheesecake, no? 😉

What? You don't celebrate a week of meditation at an ashram with a cocktail, ribs, and cheesecake?  #yesidid #keepinitreal

P.S. Synchronistically, we’re still talking about Self-Acceptance in the Sisterhood this month. Have you joined us?

My Wisdom, My Bullshit (and showing up for the right one)

She insisted we had too much to do. I insisted nothing was more important than this right here. #betweeniandme #morningwalk #meditation #consciousness #organicwisdom

I leave in just a couple hours, and I haven’t packed or even done laundry. I’ve been rushing through all the things I need to do before I leave because once I’m gone I’m actually going to be 100% gone. Off the grid.

Seven days. Nothing but meditation.

No email. No Facebook or Instagram. No internet whatsoever.

I’m not even going to bring my phone. [Insert wide-eyed look of fear here.]

Unless there is a bonafide emergency – something that (heaven forbid) involves a hospital or a mortuary – I will have zero contact with anyone but my own Self and the few others who will be on this little “retreat” with me. (That alone is a big deal. I can’t remember ever being out of contact with Justin or Zeb for more than 24 hours.)

It’s not really a retreat, in the way we’ve come to see retreats. It’s not up in the mountains or filled with yummy organic foods made by some Kitchen Goddess. It’s not scheduled on the calendar and filled with other meditators from around the world who signed up with me (although I did plan my retreat at a time when others were also planning theirs).

Nope. Nothing “fancy” or “sexy” or “dreamy” about it. Which is exactly why I chose it.

It was only an opportunity. A standing offer to anyone who seriously wants to confront their own practice, deepen it, not because it looks fun or beautiful or restful, like a gorgeous vacation; not because it will make me look like any of those things. Those things are beautiful and wonderful and meaningful, but I knew I needed to take up this offer without all that in order to take it seriously.

The offer to stay at a nearby meditation center in the middle of busy commercial part of town. To putter around, read their books on their worn down sofas, partake in endless conversation that will either energize me or totally wipe me out, scribble mad notes in my notebook, DIG IN, and most importantly, take it all a step further – practice how to fully and completely release it and come instead to meet and know my own center of consciousness.

How does one... #artjournal

I know it will be intense, not because they or it is intense, but because the shit that has been surfacing as this date approached is intense. Intense resistance, in the form of irritation toward it, fear of it, exhaustion at the thought of it, and endless, endless, endless reasons why the timing is just not good.

I used to think that resistance like this was my inner guidance telling me not to go.

I mean, it’s LOUD, and loud is something to listen to right?

But I can now recognize it for what it is: Bullshit.

We’ve all been there, right? In that space between My Wisdom and My Bullshit, and unsure of who is telling the truth when they both insist the other can’t be trusted?

I faced those battling voices – one being damn near drown out over the screaming of the other – and had to make a choice. Which do I listen to? Which do I trust to be my guidance?

It’s a question we all struggle with. Only this time I knew what personal patterns to look for.

When I made the decision to retreat, I felt a pounding heart, tears in my eyes at the sense of homecoming, anticipation and impatience that I had to wait three months for September to come around, and an undoubtably steady knowing that I needed to be here. I felt an overwhelming surge of Love; for myself, for this opportunity and those offering it, for the journey I am on, for Life and all those who live it with me. I felt confidence in my decision to confront my own meditation practice and felt the same confidence that this safe space would be the right one to support me, without taking any of my crap. I knew it all like I know I have a vagina. It was obvious. You couldn’t convince me otherwise without sounding like a crazymaker.

When the resistance started sneaking in, I felt agitated, critical, annoyed, judgmental, unsettled, uncomfortable. I felt scattered, distracted. Too busy, full of excuses. Short-tempered or full of doubt. I danced on the corner of “how could I” and “it’s just not a good time”. I tried to DIG IN and hit a protective barrier, something that told me to go “Fuck Off” because this one wasn’t going to budge no matter what I did or said.

It sounds like it was an obvious choice when I write it all out – a choice between Love and Trust…or everything else – but it really wasn’t.

Even when I could see the contrast, I still wasn’t sure which to trust. I mean, I’ve spent a lot of time showing up for that voice of fear in my life. It’s strong, insistent, convincing.

But this time I decided to show up for that voice of Love instead.

I wrote this in the Sisterhood:

But my mantra has been to “keep showing up”, steadily choosing to follow my initial instinct…Those initial instincts can be so easily buried once the mind starts gibber-jabbering, so I just keep bringing it and me back to that moment when I knew beyond any doubt the choice was perfect. I’m not giving those surfacing doubts the same power to make my decisions as I’m giving that joy and the whole-body-Yes feelings I’ve had (even if they aren’t the stronger sense right now).

I made the final decision on Monday. I chose to just show up.

To keep showing up to my daily meditation practice, even when I really don’t wanna.

To show up to this retreat and hopefully confront whatever the hell is rearing its ugly head and locking me out of the conversation.

After making the decision I had one Oh-Shit moment when I almost backed out – too much to do, too many distractions (too many excuses).

And in that moment I chose to “just show up” again.

Not perfectly. Not with a sweet smile and a fake disposition. I might even scowl at someone when I walk through the door tonight (I think they’ll understand). And I might even just own my bullshit and ask for help.

But even without the bells on, I will definitely be there. Which is more than enough.

Practicing the Empty Nest (or Our Month of Dates)

Dropping the #manchild off at the airport.

Zeb’s been out of town for two weeks now (which should show you about how behind in blogging I am). He comes home next week, just one day shy of his 14th birthday.

These trips of his are almost old hat for us now, except this time he not only flew alone but also navigated his first layover/plane change. It came about after a lot of discussion and even some practice runs following our convoluted and time-sensitive directions through a busy mall. 😉

The first thing people ask us when he leaves town is, “Do you miss him?”

The first two weeks my answer was, “No”, which I’m pretty sure puts me in last place for Mom of the Year.

But the thing is missing him would be like saying we wish he were here. And if he is having a blast, exploring and being with family and friends, why would we bring in our complaints about his absence, why would we wish for him to be anywhere but where he’s having fun, why would we damper his mood by making him worry about us?

So instead of our focusing on his not being here, we focused on his having a blast and our permission to do the same. We ate out. Went to the beach. Got to know each other a little more. We even established an Instacrack hashtag to commemorate #ourmonthofdates.

Heaven. #ourmonthofdates

But that was the first two weeks.

Now we are missing him and ready for our time apart to end. 🙂

Funny how the newness (or the much needed break) wears off.

Yes, I said much needed break.

You know, a lot of people in the mindful parenting community talk about how awesome it is to have teenagers. And when you’ve come from a paradigm of “the moment your sweet little child hits 13 they will make you want to scratch your eyes out” it is REALLY important to understand that parenting teenagers does NOT suck.

And it doesn’t.

We get to watch this man-child grow taller than us. We get to have amazing discussions on politics or social issues. We get to hear jokes that don’t end in “Red race car vroom vroom”. We get to see him establish his own identity (that he will undoubtedly reestablish 17 more times before he finally realizes none of it works) and come to know him in ways a 3 year old or 7 year old or 11 year old can’t tell you about themselves, can’t even know about themselves.

But there’s one thing all these mindful parenting circles don’t tell you….

Yes, parenting teens is it’s own kind of awesome.

And yes, it can also really blow too.

Hormones are a bitch. Don’t you remember that? Don’t you remember bursting into tears or suddenly growing fangs and ripping the flesh off some unsuspecting person while in your mind you shocked or scared even yourself? Don’t you remember that biological urge to establish your own territory, so you packed away the Slim Jims and Top Ramen in your room until finally the ants got so bad your parents called the trump card and made you eat in the kitchen?

Self-identity is a bitch. Don’t you remember how your sudden self-awareness quickly turned into self-consciousness as you re-examined everything you ever loved and suddenly didn’t even understand anymore. And your heightened awareness also meant seeing the world at large and wanting to find your place in it – and that’s some crap we still struggle with as adults, except as a teen it’s new and overwhelming and makes you wanna watch Family Guy all day until you’re comfortable enough with the mere thought to finally sort it all out. (I remember when the idea of an endless universe made me want to cry from the impossible task of trying to wrap my limited mind around it. I couldn’t even go there until I was at least 20.) That’s not only happening in mainstream, unconscious homes. It happens to mindful, relationship-based, conscious people too.

And as much as it comes with so joy and fun and utter coolness, it’s hard for teens to make the transition through such bumpy mental terrain, which makes it hard for us parents too.

#ourmonthofdates includes quiet moments of doing absolutely nothing. Together.

No one ever told me that.

No one ever told me that conscious parenting doesn’t guarantee that the child-to-adult transition still won’t suck at times. Or that those times might last longer than one short outburst, and then maybe not even end in a hug.

No one ever told me that for all the awesome sauce teenhood brings to the table, there is still a biological urge to leave the nest, and that even your kid will feel bad about how dorky you suddenly seem to him as his evolutionary switch is flipped from My Parents Are Gods to “Oh my God, my parents…“.

And well, no one needed to tell me that any of our own latent triggers we acquire as a teen will suddenly be brought up for us to finally face. That one I knew. I just didn’t recognize that he would have triggers too, and that sometimes we would both be triggered in harmony with one another, like some sick and twisted version of Satan’s Choir.

And I get why no one ever told me.

They didn’t want me to expect it, to dread it, to perpetuate that false idea that raising teens sucks.

Because it doesn’t suck… inherently.

It’s just the real deal. Like World 8 of Super Mario. Sure it kicks your ass, but you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have some epic experience defeating your own inner Bowzers to this point. And anyway, you only are playing the game because ultimately it IS fun and fulfilling. Even if sometimes you wanna throw the controller at the screen.

So yes…raising teens in a conscious, connected way, transitioning from attachment parenting to nonattachment in your parenting, and navigating the perils of hormonal fluctuations is hard…for you and your kid.

But it’s still really cool.

And like this week is showing us, the hard stuff fades away and you just end up remembering how awesome they are – when you take the time to remember.

At some point Zeb is gonna be out doing his own thing. And it’s really weird to have your offspring hanging out in Houston without you while he waits for his connecting flight; I can only imagine how much weirder it’s going to be when this is an everyday occurrence.

1. Zeb is somewhere over Louisiana. 2. He doesn't like Thai food. 3. Hence we are kicking off #ourmonthofdates with a Thai buffet.

And yes, we were enjoying #ourmonthofdates those first two weeks, practicing what it would be like to be empty nesters, but now it’s just getting weird. We can only have Pad Thai so many times before we’d rather go to his fave restaurants. And watching The Wolverine in two different states felt kinda sacrilegious to the Family Canon (“Thou shalt see all Stan Lee movies together on release weekend” ranks in our Top 5 Commandments. Right after “Thou shalt wipe your own urine off the toilet seat, dammit“.)

But the time away has also come with some great perspective…

Like how incredibly thankful we are for the way he helps us everyday.

Like how much laughter he brings us.

Like how this parenting gig, no matter how conscious or attached we are, is not going to be our full-time gig forever. That someday he will fly the coop and when the two week newness of date nights and sleeping nekked and actually having leftover bacon wears off, we’re going to miss his face and his warm hugs and his jokes (the good ones and the ones that end in car sounds), and we’re even gonna miss his mood swings.

You’d think I’d know this by now.

We always miss the things we don’t think we’re going to miss. Like the diaper phase. And the sticking-the-hands-in-the-diaper phase. And the Curious Fours and the Intense Sevens.

If we don’t miss the actual details, like the time his diaper leaked diarrhea down my leg and someone was kind enough to take a photo, we at least miss our opportunity to be present and engaged and our best Selves in the moment, like the times I wish I had taken 5 more deep breaths and reminded myself how difficult it can be on the other side.

Because it’s way more difficult to BE a teen than to parent a teen. And it’s probably way more difficult to be MY teen (I’m told, my “going Guru” doesn’t really do it for him). And it’s gotta be infinitely harder to actually be an empty nester instead of just practice being one.

So yes, we (all) appreciate our times away for one another. But for me, mostly because of how they bring us back together.

There is No Such Thing as Square One

I connected with a sweet, beautiful, wonderful client recently who was feeling overwhelmed and set back by life.

It’s a frustrating feeling, to set your heart and soul on a goal, or even just a new perspective…to feel the shifts happening in your life, the forward movement finally taking place. And then to experience an upheaval, a new challenge, a serious trigger, the whole of your world throwing up in your face.

Then to feel yourself losing all that ground.

If you're gonna fall, you may as well fall with pizzazz. #jazzhands
(If you’re going to fall, fall with pizzazz!)

Three steps forward, two back again…or four back it can seem.

We experience that backward slide in our own inner work and then we couple it with stories about What That Means. And the stories we tell ourselves about it SEEM true.

Our big, desperate, self-deprecating emotions like to tell us it’s real, we’ve just lost out again, Life is against us, this is proof we’re not good enough, and all our deep and meaningful (and hard) work has been thwarted by fate or circumstance or someone who just wants to watch us suffer.

And so we cry that we’re back to Square One, and we suffer for it.

But it’s just nonsense, you know?

There is no such thing as Square One.

You can’t get set back to it. You can’t even really start from it.

It’s like eating.

You go to the store, find the perfect ingredients, spend 30-60 minutes making a meal, 15 minutes eating it, 30 minutes cleaning it up…

5 hours later you don’t shake your fist at the sky and yell, “DAAAAAAAMMIIIIIIT! I’m hungry again! All that work for nothing! I’ll never get ahead! I’m going to be hungry forever!

Instead, what do you do? You just eat again.

Maybe you eat better food this time if you got hungry too soon. Maybe you eat different food if you ended up with cramps and as the lovely, Christie Inge recently said to the Sisterhood, “the roaring shits”. Maybe you ask for support if you need help getting good stuff on the table.

But you don’t give up on eating.

That would be suicide by starvation.

Such is the process of Life.

The cyclical nature of growth, of moving forward and seemingly back again, the leaps and bounds and roadblocks, the coming back around to what we want to think is Square One…it’s just your appetite for Life bringing you back to the table.

Offering you more opportunity to grow.

To fill your belly again.

To realign yourself.

So eat it up.

Get better tools. Get support if you need it. But please don’t go hungry today because you’ve just eaten yesterday. And please don’t hate all over yourself because you think you’ve somehow failed at filling your belly.

Because that job will never ever be complete, so long as you wish to truly live.

Howling at the Moon and the Things Captured

A full moon, a super moon, sumer solstice, and the lead-up to Mercury Retrograde. Oh I was feeling it all. And this time I let myself go, let myself create a little #howlfest to sink into.

I circled with new friends and allowed tears to flow, even though they had no obvious source. I leaned in and trusted the cleansing process that I could feel was taking place.

Barefoot wine in a mason jar. Cheesy movies on the couch. Fire and marshmallows in our future. And I might just sneak out to Mama Ocean again. #howlfest

I rested. I drank cheap wine from a mason jar and watched stupid movies and was okay with that.

I drew myself in with my guys, disconnecting for the weekend, and allowing ourselves to head to a matinee, to laugh in the truck, to make new dishes, and read paperbacks I found in the laundry room.

Forming. #howlfest #drumcircle

Drumming to the changing of the guard. #sunset #moonrise #howlfest #drumcircle

I dove into a drum circle, and took place in the changing of the guards, the drumming to the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon.

Me and Big Mama falling in step together. #howlfest #djembe #drumcircle

I let myself go in the drum circle. I closed my eyes and stopped trying to play along and just played.

I got up and danced, not just around the circle, but in Mama Ocean. Jumping through her shallows, splashing through my inhibitions.

I talked to Mama Luna, and laughed with my man-child as we sunk into the soft moving sands and he gave up on trying to keep his clothes dry and I put down my camera in favor of my suit.

I body surfed with my guys, laughing again as the moon pushed us back toward the sandbar, and I got water up my nose, and didn’t even care.

And then there was this. And this photo does nothing to show the brilliance of Mama Luna or the magic of swimming beneath her with my guys. This goes down as one of my favorite days ever. #howlfest #fullmoon

I drifted in the calm waters, laying back while I soaked up the brightness of the moonbeams, gazing up at her, while my man and my man-child drifted next to me, while we talked, while we slowed down. While we just took it all in and created one of my favorite memories of all time.

"I would rather be happy than dignified." - #Bronte #howlfest

There are some things you take photos of not because you think you can capture the moment, but simply to give you a glimpse of what you captured in that moment.

This weekend was one long stretch of those moments.

Who or what are you “trying to love”?

Who or what are you trying to love?

But, of course, what is not said in this quote is how to bring into your heart this extraordinary thing called love.

How do we love the guy that flipped us off with our kid in the car?

How do we love the dog shit we found in our shoe this morning?

How do we love the cockroach that just crawled across our glass?

We don’t.

Notice Krishnamurti isn’t saying you need to do anything, such as “loving” someone or something. He’s saying you need to allow love in and then your experience of the world – including the other driver, the dog shit, the roach even (or so I’m told – yet to get there myself on that one) – will do the changing right before your eyes.

Who or what are you trying to love?

Why are you working from the outside in?