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.)

But the past few weeks have been totally breathtaking in those subtle ways we don’t usually realize even when we are paying attention.

Let me start from the beginning….

First, Justin was in a car accident. Someone ran a red light and he plowed the poor guy over. Because I had been doing my own practice of mindfulness, meditation, and breathing, this totally didn’t freak me out. I just walked down to the site of the accident, gave him a giant squeeze, laughed about having a big truck, and took over calling the insurance and making him a chiropractic appt.

Justin's car accident

Because I didn’t freak out I actually felt thankful. I just had a good feeling about it.

Slightly sadistic, I know.

But here’s what came of it: No one was seriously hurt but the other guy was well-insured. His peeps took great care of us and gave us a hefty sum to replace Justin’s truck (veg conversion and all), plus time off work, and miscellaneous whatnots, including chiropractic care. We were thinking we might be needing to upgrade the truck soon anyway, and we were needing to find a chiropractor but had kept putting it off, and it was as if Life just had a funny way of making it all come together. (Oh, did I mention we had JUST met said chiropractor not 2 days before? And that she’s new to the area too, and quickly becoming a new friend? Yeah, thanks for that, Universe!)

Next up was the replacing of the truck….

Justin found the truck he wanted in Houston, did his due diligence, then hopped a plane, and was really pissed off when he arrived to a truck not as advertised. This poor guy had been stressing over finding a new truck for two weeks (not me though! yay!) so you can imagine how upset he was when he arrived to find nothing. Any other week and I would’ve been freaking out too, feeling like “Life is hard” and nothing ever works out and blah blah blah (my old old story comes up like that).

But we reminded ourselves that all things happen for a reason, and that he was indeed in the Truck Freaking Capitol of the World. So he set off to search Craigslist and less than 24 hours later he found exactly the truck he wanted in nearly-pristine condition and ideal for the veg conversion – better than what he had originally intended to buy! He text me how happy he was that he hadn’t settled, and I reminded myself how happy I am when I just trust the damn process.

Happy Justin!

But here’s where it gets good and I get goosebumps….

Because Justin stayed longer in Houston he missed one of his chiropractic appointments. Normally all our stress would’ve been oozing from our ears and we would’ve a) completely forgotten about the appointment, or b) cancelled it.

But by this time I was fully in this phase of just trusting the ever-loving process.

And when I’m in that place I see opportunities, not issues. I hear intuition, not fear and stress.

So I had this little inkling of an idea to ask our new kick-ass chiropractor (who happens to donate her patient’s first session to the animal shelter, I might add – seriously, how perfect of a fit is she?) if she could see Zeb instead.

Now Zeb hasn’t been to the chiropractor in ages, and he had just a physical with a holistic physician a month ago. ONE MONTH AGO. In her exam, she checked his spine (this is something we’ve always kept an eye on because of my own scoliosis) and had mentioned he needed to correct his posture because of some slight kyphosis (basically, slouching), but didn’t notice any scoliosis. Now, I know that’s no reason to not take our kids to the chiro, but taking him was actually the furthest thing from my mind. With what could’ve been all the stress we were under, it would’ve stayed furthest from my mind too.

But my mind and heart were clear enough to hear Life tell me to take him in.

And you’ll never guess what she found?

Yup, my man-child has scoliosis.

Now this is one of those things that is hard to explain. It seems minor when I try, but because of my own experience I KNOW the value of finding scoliosis early, how hard it can be to spot, and the things that can be avoid surgery or even bracing, and the devastation when it professes because of these things. These are things that when you learn too late for yourself, you never forget. But when you spot it early it is so easy to correct and avoid. And we caught it super-duper early.

The thing is, this thought to take him wasn’t a push. It wasn’t a strong feeling. It was just a gentle sticky thought that was plopped in my head and happened to sound like a good idea. Life created this little pocket of events that lined up all the pieces and parts to come together in half a dozen scenarios and in ways we couldn’t have created or known needed to be created with our heads in the way. There was no big fanfare, no gut reactions, just gentle shifts in course to keep us heading forward.

I’m not saying all this shit went down to get my kid to the chiropractor or to get Justin a truck. I don’t think Life takes such drastic steps if it doesn’t need to. I’m saying all this shit went down because it just did; because shit happens sometimes.

But because we remained firm in complete trust that it’s ultimately all good, these things were able to be used in ways that supported and blessed us in half a dozen ways (and counting).

And THAT is the long-winded point I’m getting to.

Sometimes we can’t connect the dots simply because we’re too far in our heads to even see them. Sometimes our stress or fear or need to micro-manage the outcome keeps us from seeing the opportunities ready to take place. Sometimes our entire world might seem like it’s falling apart – and sometimes it actually does just that – but there are still miracles waiting in the wings to take center stage.

Our fear, our stress, our worry, our complaining will NOT help us. Not even a little. (It doesn’t even feel good.) So it’s clear to me (right now anyway – ha) that there really is no logical alternative but to chill the freak out, take a deep breath, and lean all the way in. Because it’s all an opportunity for a miracle to take place.

100+ Things I Hope to Teach My Son

100+ Things I Hope to Teach My Son, www.theorganicsister.com

There’s this list going around the interwebs of 101 things to teach a daughter. As with all things online, everyone has an opinion, thinks it’s wonderful, thinks it’s horrible, thinks it contradicts itself (cuz life – or we as parents – never do that).

But mostly I just found it thought-provoking.

Like what are all the big and little things I hope to teach my son?

What do I hope he picks up from us, others, or Life?

What might I save him some time (or heartache) by showing him now?

I found myself going back and forth, between that maternal desire to impart to him the wisdom that might allow him to improve upon what my generation has done, and that cautious mindfulness that reminds me I really don’t know jack about what he needs in his own life compared to my limited perspective of his journey.

But despite my knowing that I ultimately know very little, there are some things – alright, apparently a lot of things – I hope he will come to know or experience.

  1. Perfection is a unicorn. That shit doesn’t exist.
  2. But practice does makes proficient.
  3. Another person only has the power you give them.
  4. The best education comes from travel.
  5. Learn when to jump on it and when to sleep on it.
  6. “Gay” is not a bad word. Or an insult.
  7. Always question authority.
  8. But do so with respect.
  9. Age or status doesn’t warrant respect.
  10. Character does.
  11. Never stop asking “Why”.
  12. Even when it’s driving us crazy.
  13. Mistakes can be a beautiful thing.
  14. Real success comes from tenacity + passion.
  15. Real education is only a by-product of those two things.
  16. Stand up for the oppressed, even at your own risk.
  17. Make friends with the quiet ones. (They tell the best stories.)
  18. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
  19. Speak your mind.
  20. But known why you’re doing it.
  21. And learn when silence speaks louder.
  22. Never fear alienation. (You won’t want to be part of that crowd anyway.)
  23. “Waste” your vote if it means honoring your beliefs.
  24. Get involved. This is when you most come alive.
  25. Love is not 50/50. Give more than you expect to receive.
  26. Wear vests more often.
  27. Your mind is like a puppy. Train it well or it’ll crap all over your home.
  28. Always carry something to give to crying children in the store.
  29. Don’t judge a person during their bad moments.
  30. We all have bad moments.
  31. Even you.
  32. And that doesn’t make any of us “bad”.
  33. Get to know your own warning signs.
  34. Learn to forgive instantly.
  35. But understand that forgiveness is more for you.
  36. And don’t mistake it for approval.
  37. Don’t waste your time on crazy-makers.
  38. Or excuse-makers.
  39. Only they are responsible for their behaviors and choices.
  40. Ditto for you.
  41. No one can “make” you angry.Β They can only offer you the opportunity.
  42. Choose wisely when to take it.
  43. Hateful people are really just hurting people.
  44. Every action is an attempt to meet a need, however misguided.
  45. Always seek to understand how a person got to where they are.
  46. Learn from their backstory.
  47. Everyone has fears, blocks, beliefs, triggers.
  48. Everyone.
  49. Be mindful of them, but don’t take responsibility for anyone’s but your own.
  50. No means no. In every situation. Period.
  51. Don’t judge your first step against someone’s finished product.
  52. Their first step was probably pretty hard too.
  53. Be the designated driver.
  54. Or the guy at the party who takes all the keys.
  55. Don’t be the guy who doesn’t know his limit.
  56. Treat others how THEY wish to be treated.
  57. Unless it contradicts your values.
  58. Always honor your values.
  59. And your needs.
  60. Be proud of being passionate.
  61. Learn how to love and accept yourself so much that you no longer notice who doesn’t.
  62. School is not for everyone.
  63. Education is.
  64. Make fun of yourself.
  65. But not others without their permission.
  66. Invite others to be honest with you.
  67. Don’t be offended when they are.
  68. In fact, only take personally what comes up from within.
  69. 20 min of direct sunlight a day makes all the difference in the world.
  70. There’s nothing wrong with being a “selective eater”.
  71. But please try new foods every once in awhile.
  72. When you fall in love, let yourself fall hard.
  73. Be stupid in love.
  74. But not so stupid you can’t come back from it.
  75. Memorize #27.
  76. But know your boundaries and draw them clearly.
  77. And know her boundaries so that you can help her draw them.
  78. The world is only a mirror. It shows you what you most get to learn.
  79. Nothing grows you as a person like parenting, partnership, and business.
  80. Those same things also offer you the opportunity to destroy yourself.
  81. Your own outcome depends on whether you’re paying attention.
  82. Marvel will always be better than DC.
  83. Please improve upon my own parenting skills.
  84. Hitting a child will always be a cop-out.
  85. But you undoubtedly will have moments where it seems like a good idea.
  86. So you can send them over anytime.
  87. Choose Dare over Truth.
  88. It’s okay to tell me I’m being stupid.
  89. Employment can be the worst kind of servitude.
  90. Self-employment is fucking hard too.
  91. Do what gives you a natural high.
  92. But don’t let it define you.
  93. Have something you love and won’t do for money.
  94. Money is just a resource, NOT the root of all evil.
  95. Have a lot or have a little. Don’t let anyone shame you for either.
  96. Make sure to spend some, save some, and give some away.
  97. If you’re feeling shitty, make someone else’s day.
  98. Preferably anonymously.
  99. Jump off cliffs once in awhile.
  100. Safely, of course.
  101. Eat real food.
  102. But not dogmatically.
  103. There is nothing wrong with not knowing.
  104. There is nothing wrong with sex.
  105. Cry freely. Forget anyone who’s uncomfortable with that.
  106. We’ll always back you up.
  107. Your body is a miracle. Treat it well.
  108. Learn how to breathe when you want to scream.
  109. Learn another language.
  110. Or three.
  111. Always have a dog. Always from the shelter.
  112. Life is not meant to be lived alone.
  113. But being comfortable being alone is sacred.
  114. Hold your shoulders back when you walk in a room.
  115. You will become who you hang out with.
  116. But they will always become like you.
  117. So keep mixed company.
  118. There are not enough gentle men. Try to remain one.
  119. Nothing is sexier than a man who knows himself.
  120. Except maybe a baby-wearing dad.
  121. Double-dates save lives. I’ll explain this one when you’re older.
  122. Life is too short to worry long about typos, pimples, or a dirty house.
  123. Your mother is a genius.
  124. I promise, you can tell me anything.
  125. But it’s still a good idea to preface it with either, “Can we talk?” or “Everyone is okay…”
  126. Cuz after all, I’m human too.

 
 

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.

Yes, I can BS with the best of them and complain about all sorts of “reasons” why I’m rocking the self-neglect wagon. But at least I can smell my own BS. I know it’s all a lame justification for what’s really holding me back.

And of all the things I’m nice and gentle when I talk about – honey, this isn’t one of them.

So please allow me to speak the truth for a second here, especially if it means it might get you caring about yourself, finally.

Excuse #1: I don’t have enough time.

Bullshit. You have the same 24 hours in the day as everyone else. You’re just choosing to spend them on everyone else! Now, yes, there are ONLY 24 hours in which to do the myriad of things you think must be done, but this is more about “I’m bad at prioritizing my time”, or maybe “I’m not a priority to myself”, than not having enough. (I like to use this excuse too because time seems like such a good excuse, such an immovable object. But when I finally accepted that it wasn’t, my whole life expanded.)

Priority #1 is your health and well-being. This means it’s #1 on your To Do list. This means doing it before you do anything else. Yes, I’m serious. If a million dollars (or Chris Hemsworth – ahem) was on your porch waiting for your self-care regime to be done first before stepping through the door, you’d tackle that bad boy (the self-care, not Chris) at 6am. Why? Because you prioritize it! Stop waiting for an imaginary impetus to come along before you start prioritizing yourself.

The truth: You don’t have time NOT to. Everything you do when you feel like crap will take twice a long. Why do you think you get a break at work? Because any boss knows productivity goes down with self-care. So give yourself a break – every day – and you’re going to SAVE time. I promise.

Excuse #2: I don’t have enough money.

What this excuse really means is that you’re insisting your self-care look a certain way and that way must undoubtedly cost money. Massages. Babysitters. Date nights. Pedicures. Retreats. Art supplies. [Insert yours here.] Sweetheart, you’re using all those things as reasons to hurt yourself over and over.

Yes, that’s all you’re doing with that excuse…hurting yourself. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. Keeping your heart and soul tied around a dollar sign to determine your value. Keeping yourself locked in Scarcity Mode. Subtly telling yourself you’re worthless.

The truth: You don’t “need” those things. You need a little creativity. And the permission to use it. The permission to acknowledge a walk around the block while the kids are still in bed is okay to give yourself. Permission to buy yourself and your partner a dark chocolate bar and a Redbox movie after the kids go to sleep. Permission to allow messes to happen while you read a good book. Permission to do yoga with YouTube videos and trust your emails to wait a damn hour (or four). Permission to reallocate funds for your own sanity. Permission to say “I’m worth it” and then make it so.

Excuse #3: I don’t have the support.

Point blank: The people in your life support you in the exact manner you’ve taught them to support you. If you don’t like how they are showing up in your life, the first change that gets to be made is in your own habits, then in your boundaries, then in the way you communicate your needs to them. After all that (and only after all that), it may be time to make some tough choices, remove toxic relationships from your life, or lay it down for everyone. But please don’t get angry at them for doing what you’ve shown, through your own habits, is preferred to do – neglect and ignore you.

Excuse #4: I feel selfish when I take care of myself.

And so you use this as a reason to insist you don’t need anything, right?

You, dear sweet beautiful woman, are lying to yourself. You are a human being, and as such you have needs. Needs for good food and blissful rest. Needs for beauty, inspiration, excitement. Needs for honor, love, respect. Needs for autonomy, fulfillment, order. Yes, some of these needs are met through caring for others. But not all, and not always in the best way.

This doesn’t make you selfish. It makes you real. Welcome to the human race. Please stop making the rest of us look bad by insisting you need nothing. πŸ˜‰

The truth: You are the most selfish when you are not doing what is necessary to make sure you feel fan-freaking-tastic and therefore are at full capacity. When your needs are met you have more to offer – more energy, more compassion, more patience, more creativity, more clarity. So stop holding yourself back, please. Your world needs you – WANTS YOU – at your best. Give yourself what you need so that you can keep loving everyone so unselfishly.

P.S. If you have younger women in your life – daughters, nieces, neighbors – please remember that you are teaching them THEIR self-worth by demonstration. So, if you won’t do it for yourself, can you trick yourself into thinking you’re “doing it for them”? πŸ˜‰

We could go on and on….

But you and I both know that behind every excuse for self-neglect is a Wise Little Woman wagging her finger at you, telling you to knock that shit off.

And you and I both know that if your best friend came to you with the same excuse, you’d BE that Wise Woman and tell her she’s worth more than that.

Please, please, please…for the love of all that is good in your life (and all that could be good with a little more of your time and attention), treat yourself with some respect and honor your needs. No more damn excuses. You’re worth more than that.

Photo Source

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.

This happened to me awhile back. Skype wasn’t working for a very important parenting e-course interview, with a very important person. I was swimming in my own triggers of “not being good enough” after some hoped-for cash didn’t come in. I was coming off a meltdown over improperly buttered toast.

Yeah, it wasn’t good.

Then I got an email from myself, something I had scheduled a year before when I was feeling a lot of exhaustion and hoping it was coming to an end soon.

As I read my email I started to feel even more down.

I was describing where we were as a family, what I was struggling with spiritually and in my work, and as I read what I don’t even remember writing I could sense my own dishearted-ness, as well as a deeper sense of faith and Trust.

I have just gone through some intense mentoring and have experienced serious healing. I feel like I have a long way to go. Sometimes I feel so close to being “there” too.

I feel fulfilled, and overwhelmed…

…Right now I’m struggling to maintaining my connection to Source amid the noise and chaos of other people, Facebook, the negativity of our culture and so on. I’m disconnecting from some people slowly and that feels okay. I’m enjoying my new mentoring process and I’m enjoying leaning into Source and Self instead. I’ve really been growing a lot in my understanding of why I do things and what really fulfills me. Does this make sense one year later?

Then I went on to describe where Justin was, where Zeb was, the contrasting thriving and surviving of life in that moment.

But in the back of my mind was the thought, “WTF. That’s pretty much where I am now. This shit hasn’t changed in a year??” and started to really feel like a loser.

(Way to be spiritual Tara.)

Then I read this last paragraph:

I don’t feel I have much more to say (well, that’s not entirely true, but the TV is on and I’m hungry and Justin just got home from juggling at the U of O in Eugene and so I’m ready to get offline), except to tell you I think you are beautiful and amazing and that from my perspective and understanding, you shine and thrive when you connect to Source and move from the Divine place.

And with that the perfect Nugget o’ Wisdom I knew hit me again.

Life sucks ass sometimes. Shit happens. Things blow up or implode. I have meltdowns over toast and mascara smeared across my temples because I didn’t want to wash my face before bed. Money doesn’t come in. And that doesn’t stop it from going out. Bad days happen. So do bad weeks and months.

And it doesn’t matter.

It’s all the illusion of life that I swim in, not the Truth of Life that I actually dwell in. It’s the shroud of suffering I suffocate under, not the breath of fresh air I find without it.

And it’s okay.

Okay to swim in it. Okay to suffocate. Okay to drop the F-bomb when talking about spirituality. Okay to be human and have this human experience. I can have meltdowns over toast and scream at the top of my lungs that I’m being a crazy bitch over something as stupid as this. I can talk about the depths of our humanness with yesterday’s mascara clumped in my eyes.

But I don’t have to believe it all.

I can walk around as a dreamer in this dream, just lucid enough to remind myself to drop deeper. Trust bigger. Allow beauty. See the perfection.

These crazy moments are just crazy moments. They are not Truth, reality or a life sentence. Only my attachment to them keeps them around.

Only my choice to DIG IN, to lean in, to release creates the freedom from them.

And that’s what I want: to change what I can change. My experience of all this is totally mine.

I know this email will find you at the right time.

That it did, Self. That it did.
 
 

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? πŸ˜‰

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,Β 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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ™‚

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…Β 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?