There and Back Again {A Tale of Thanksgiving and Spiritual Failure}

I'm not sure how we chose a flight with a four hour layover with this red eye but at least the floor looks comfortable. #travel #airport #exhausted

We just arrived home from a 9 day trip back to Las Vegas.

Let me warn you now, this post may be long, meandering, and senseless to anyone but me while I try to make sense of the many things going on in my head and my heart.

{I’m also going to talk somewhat candidly here and do so mindfully and in my never-freaking-ending practice to keep my focus on my own heart, without projecting or losing sight of my own accountability. None of this is “about” anyone, hold my experience with Life and how the hell we make sense of the seemingly senseless hurt it can deliver.}

Leaving #lasvegas

Ascending on my hometown
Feeling more like a visitor this time
{than the escapee of before}
I haven’t missed this place
Haven’t missed “home”
Although I know that’s not the story for all

Those were the words I quickly penned as our plane descended on the Vegas lights. For once, I didn’t feel that impending sense of entrapment – like I wouldn’t be able to leave without getting stuck – that I felt that last time. {That was big for me, to not feel stuck or constantly pulled back to a place with which I don’t resonate.}

I felt at peace, centered, excited for the week.

Excited to watch my little sister walk down the aisle (so moving!).
Excited to see the brother and nephew and niece I hadn’t seen in 10 years.
Excited to just BE – cooking and painting and watching movies with family.

Nephews.
afternoons with nephews

And my mama joined in!  #art #artjournal
art with my mom

Art journaling with my niece.  #artjournal #alteredbook #art #paint
art with my niece

He loves her so. #thompsonwedding2012
Their love = tears of joy.

Do we ever stop romanticizing those ideas of how things will be?

I have memories in my head of a house full of laughter and food and playfulness. Of huge family camping trips with everyone in attendance and giant games of hide and seek – kids and adults. Monthly family dinners. And holidays that stick to your heart.

And I haven’t experienced one of those romanticized holidays in almost 10 years.

Is it that as we grow up our perceptions are sharpened, picking up on things we can miss in youth and that amazing ability to remain in the moment? Or are we simply jaded by age and expectations? Or maybe things really do change that drastically and for no apparent reason than we all grew up and in separate, incomprehensible directions to one another.

It’s not that anything major happened this Thanksgiving. It’s that my heart and my head just couldn’t let go.

I’m not proud of that.

We all know family, even family we adore, can be a lot to take in all at once. And for those of you HSP’s out there, you know how compounded the situation can be when you’re sleeping in a room with two other families, four running dialogues, at least three noisy electronics going at all times, random bouts of stress and rush, and a dozen personalities and sets of needs.

I don’t pretend to be perfect. But it’s still disheartening when every tool I want to lean into seems so far away from my conscious mind as I slip back into a role I have carefully been working myself out of for most of my adult life.

Do we ever stop reverting to what other people expect to see?

Do we ever feel and respond like the adults we are when we hear the criticism or triggers of our childhood?

They mean me no harm but it’s time that I face it
They’ll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don’t belong…

That’s a Rascal Flatts song that makes me cry with heartache. Those words almost describe it except for one thing:

I don’t believe that anyone won’t allow me to change. I just believe it’s so damn hard to show them I already have.

All my best intentions for a wonderful week lead to all my expectations breaking my heart.

No one else is responsible but me.

I didn’t meet my needs. I didn’t express my emotions {until they were boiling incomprehensibly…and loudly}. I didn’t pay attention to the patterns that trigger me, patterns of teasing and sarcasm and my holding back {anything from my opinion to my own sense of style for fear of the feedback I assume I’ll receive}. Patterns of expectations, ideas in my own mind of how anyone else should be.

I placed the responsibility for my own peace and joy on what others were able to do and that wasn’t fair or responsible. It made us all unhappy.

By the time I realized it I had already excused myself from the meal, driven away – the very best I could manage. I missed Thanksgiving because I had missed my own patterns of expectations and hurt and burying the truth to keep the peace, to try to support others instead of leaning into open honesty.

Hanging with one of my very best girlfriends in the sun. Kids running around the park. Good times.  @elizabethlowery
sweet, reflective, wonderful friend

My sweet wonderful girlfriend and I had a couple long talks, and as they often do, they centered around our role in our own lives and the lives of others. And the message was the same I had been grappling with: Every time I place an expectation on someone I love, I miss the opportunity to be at peace with what is. I miss the opportunity to love them. To practice surrendering to what Spirit is showing me.

It breaks my heart to read those words. It’s the same message I’ve been receiving for the last several months, the same message I think I’ve gotten right before I realize I haven’t: Stop pushing, stop micro-managing, stop thinking it’s all your job. Let go. Surrender to the direction of where Life is flowing. Surrender to peace and love within that moment, exactly as it is, without your thoughts that it needs to change for you.

It breaks my heart because I know it. I’ve been practicing it. And I’ve been failing, again and again.

It’s fucking hard.

Hard not to offer advice, instead of holding space.

Hard not to want to “fix” it – whether it’s an actual problem, or just a bad mood – instead of extending empathy first.

Hard sometimes to WANT to do anything from love: want to DIG IN, want to speak nonviolently, want to listen, want to reach out when you have nothing to reach out with.

So I did the very best I could do…I took space for myself.

I walked out when I couldn’t find that space to listen over the screaming of my own head. I hiked a mountain and lay on the rocks and turned my face to the warmth of the sun. And I said goodbye, or even missed opportunities to say goodbye, flying home without resolve.

Sitting on the hillside talking life, plans, culture and conformity with @justinplayswithballs and looking forward to flying "home" #lifeatthismoment #lasvegas
from the hillside with my lover

As Justin and I walked and hiked he asked me the same question I’ve asked myself for almost 8 years, since my dad died before we got the opportunity to have the talk that was on the horizon. It’s the question I asked myself multiple times over the past week as I did the very best I could {which didn’t seem like much}:

If the worst happened, would you regret this choice?

And I answered him honestly.

No.

I wouldn’t regret the choices I made to let things go, or not have conversations that I didn’t feel ready for. I wouldn’t regret walking out when I couldn’t find love or patience to respond with instead. I can’t regret doing the very best I could do, listening to my intuition and my heart when it says, “This is not going to help; you’ll only cause more pain right now.” I don’t ever regret the choices to surrender, to lay down my Ego-fear that tells me to judge or fix or change or fight or expect or even help, to “save” others or even see them as someone who needs saving.

I have to address my own heartache and hurt first. I have to unpack my own stories and triggers before I can bring my authentic love into a conversation with anyone else.

It’s no one’s job to apologize or change or fix anything for me, anymore than it’s my job to do the same for someone else.

It’s my job to examine what came up for me, and why. It’s my job to find my center before I try to find a solution. It’s my job to bring my real self into challenges like these, instead of compounding them by bringing my baggage. It’s my job to find what only I am accountable for {my emotions, my reactions, my choices} and release everything else {my expectations, my assumptions, my sense of obligation} so that I can walk in with nothing left but love.

Moments like this hold me perfectly still. #manchild
melt-worthy airport moments with the man-child

I can leave without regret,
With peace that I made the best choices I could,
but being void of regret
doesn’t mean being void of hurt.

{penned from the plane home}

It’s an unconventional, even controversial, viewpoint, that I believe it’s okay to say goodbye without first making amends. {Caveat: And it’s not always the right choice. As a daughter whose lost a father during an argument, I can attest to the anguish that comes from holding grudges, instead of taking mindful space.}

But the difference is in the mindfulness and the space {as opposed to the unconscious distance we tend to put between us instead}.

Are you paying attention? #artjournal
full attention slows the current

I’m experiencing hurt and frustration and sadness. And I’m allowing myself to experience it. No under-the-rug sweeps. No grudges held. But no feeding it or burying it either. No allowing it to overcome me, or to own me.

Some serious shit came up for me {and yes, I’m totally okay admitting that – why shouldn’t I be?} and I’m opening my heart up to what Spirit is trying to show me. I’m doing the inner work that’s being asked of me. I’m learning to stop projecting {hard} and stop blaming {harder} and meet my own needs so I can actually stand in the Truth that allows me to be – fully and unapologetically and compassionately – ME.

Hardest.

And even though there is a big part of me wanting to resist this next statement 😉 I can feel it nudging me to be experienced too:

I’m thankful for this. Thankful that I lost sight of myself and damn near lost my shit. Thankful that I felt hurt and frustrated. Thankful that I screwed up. Thankful that it’s so deeply triggered and challenged me. Thankful that it’s bringing up in me the bullshit that was hiding there, because I know full well it only comes up when the timing is perfect for it to be addressed {even if I don’t like that fact}. I’m thankful for the comments that were made, the stories that were dredged, the triggers that were found. Thankful for failure in how I handled it all {or didn’t}.

I’m thankful for the nudges that keep telling me when I’m trying to do something or say something here that isn’t focused on my authentic heart, too. 🙂

I love them all. They – like me – are doing the best they can as well. That I don’t feel at home says nothing about them, and everything about me – where I am and what I’m moving through with Life as my guide.

Why am I sharing all this?

Why am I “airing dirty laundry”, as culture has taught us to see it?

Because I got the most amazing messages of gratitude over the week: messages from incredible women who totally nailed it and stood in compassion and authenticity in a challenging family situation, messages from heartfelt women who struggle{d} to do the same and are thankful to be reminded they aren’t asshats for being human and unable to access that place of compassion and authenticity at the same time,or even separately.

Because I’d rather dismember the monster that tells us we can’t be honest about having a hard go of something, the monster that tells us it’s not okay to be imperfect, that tells us our lives “should” be perfect and by the book or else we’re going to hell. {Shit, I wrote a book on dealing with triggers, and my experiences still aren’t by the book.}

Welcome to being human. Welcome to trying to be that human with over 7 billion other people, many of which are our greatest, most wonderful, most frustrating teachers.

We love our families. But we mess it up. We do. I do. Again and again. And hopefully, again and again, we do the best we can to get through that moment, to get through the challenge, to learn and grow and try to love ourselves and others a little better each time. Sometimes we nail it. At least the same number of times we don’t.

My declaration is this: I’m okay with these facts. Okay with Life sometimes being messy. Okay with the fact that I’m going to make mistakes at it. Okay being open and honest and authentic about it. Finally okay with the choices I make. {And learning to be okay if others aren’t okay with it.}

Some wisdom from my mama's wall. #bestill
wisdom on the wall

This get you thinking too?
Some questions that may support you: What do I need to get still with? What parts of myself am I bringing into similar challenges with those I love? If I was fully centered and grounded first, what would I do/say differently?

There Are No Such Things As Business Emergencies

Just finished a Tribe call with @pixiecampbell on grounding. Don't wanna get up now. #myofficetoday
Taking it easy with an outdoor office

Hi Tara, I have a question for you: I’ve been in business for myself for a couple years now, selling art and recently making some digital products, and I have a really hard time with it. I didn’t anticipate all the little emergencies that keep coming up. They take away from my family and my personal life, which I don’t like, but they also have to be dealt with…Any advice on how I can handle these things without compromising my priorities all the time? – Organic Tribe sister

Deep breath, sista…take this in, with all the love it’s coming to you with.

There are no such things as “business emergencies” that should ever take away from your family. Only our beliefs tell us to jump every time Life hiccups.

You’re an artist, not a heart surgeon. Your business is not life or death.

I’m speaking from hard-earned experience here: I use to run around, freak out, get overwhelmed, and drop everything for an email, or when my website crashed right before dinner, or when (back in my old business) an on-call therapist failed to be on-call and I couldn’t fathom turning down a customer. I’d scramble to fix everything at the sacrifice of my family.

And it was total bullshit.

It stressed me out, had me working 16 hours days, and nearly destroyed our relationships. (For goodness sake, it was a massage therapy business! There was no life or death situations there. But I treated it like I’d be lynched for not being on the ball, all the time. Even now, I’m a life coach. I’d be arrogant to assume much more.)

Your business is not your life. It’s a means to your life. Meaning your life is priority #1, and your business the mere support of that. Don’t favor the tool over the purpose of the tool (in this case, the tool is your business and the purpose of the tool is to allow you to live a joyful life).

Sure there are things to do, and there things to look at to avoid or minimize hiccups from constantly happening, like whether you’re creating these emergencies with poor planning or poor systems, and there is also the question of whether you’re trying to do it all yourself or bringing in the right support. (Case in point: my website crashed awhile back but I didn’t need to freak because it automatically backs itself up on a daily basis and drops the files in my DropBox – I just had to call in some support and it was right as rain in an hour.)

But most of all, look at the fear there. What’s putting you into a tailspin when your site crashes (when – because you’re not Ebay – it really can wait until the morning)? Why do you think you need to work over the weekend just because an order comes in Friday night (instead of setting your hours and letting your customers know those hours – since very few people will expect Amazon to ship that fast)? DIG IN and find the belief that has you thinking you need to jump every time your email bings at you (seriously, turn those notifications off!).

It’s okay if shit happens. It’s okay if you have to say “No, I can’t make that happen” to a customer. It’s okay to say “I won’t be available on my daughter’s birthday.”

For the love of all that is holy, it’s okay to be your own boss! 😉

It’s the unapologetically imperfect thing again: if you’re at peace with what you do, your peeps will be too (because are they really expecting you to answer their email at 11pm anyway).

Don’t take yourself or your work so seriously. You got into it for the passion of it. Have fun, take more deep breaths, stop apologizing for having boundaries, DIG IN to your barriers that keep you from trust and ease and what you’re afraid it will mean if you stop scrambling, and allow yourself to fall back in love with what you do.

The New Professionalism: Unapologetically Imperfect

My most ergonomic desk eva. #myofficetoday

Today is my day to breathe. Take space. Drop my shoulders.

The Organic Parenting e-course is complete, sent out, and officially off my To Do list. It was such a huge project, with so many components and dozens of contributors, making it my biggest project to date.

Over a year in the making. The last three months of which were flipping crazy.

I’ll admit. I have a bit of a perfectionist streak. Especially when it comes to the work I love to do, sharing my heart and soul. And the parenting topic is such a big, tender one that I spent a lot of time stressing about how it was coming together, how the audios turned out, the right formatting, the right voice, if it all made sense, and so on and so on.

This project alone was a full time job.

That’s without seeing clients, facilitating the Organic Tribe, holding events, and still exploring the country with my family.

As I inched closer to today’s date, I began to inch closer to my perfectionist saying all sorts of things:

“You must have all the audios completed before you go to Wide Sky Days.”
“You’ve got to send out at least 4 emails next week.”
“You need more blog posts! What happened to the 5 other posts you had planned?!”

According to my project and marketing plan, I was far from perfect.

And this would have really stressed me out in the past. I would’ve been a big old ball of nerves trying to do it all, be it all, have it all together.

But this time I adopted a very fitting motto as I worked…

“Unapologetically imperfect.”

“I’m going to unapologetically create a course I believe in, without fear that it must meet every last person’s needs…”

“I’m going to unapologetically say what’s on my heart without fear that I’ll sound crazy to people who don’t get it…”

“I’m going to unapologetically take breaks, or complete postpone pieces of the project that aren’t inspiring me in order to play with my friends and family or read or work on the part of the project that is calling my name…”

“I’m going to unapologetically get the last audios created and uploaded in their own timing…”

“I’m going to unapologetically screw up my marketing plan this time around…”

“I’m going to unapologetically be happy about it all too…”

No amount of stress can make time slow down so we can get more done and still have time to play. No amount of trying can make every last person happy, can make this everything to everyone, can possibly simplify such a big topic, or can get those last audios uploaded by my chosen deadline. No amount of stress is worth missing out on our family throughout any project either – something I did too much of at the start.

So I let it all go. And embraced something different.

Imperfect entrepreneurship. Without apology.

Of course, there’s a balance there…leaving people hanging isn’t cool. Creating less than your best isn’t cool. Not taking into account the needs of others while you meet your own needs doesn’t actually meet anyone’s needs at all.

But there is a difference between professional and perfectionism.

You can be the first without trying to be the second.

I let go of the idea that I’d have all the audios from all six modules edited and uploaded by the time the first module started. I let go of the idea that the contributors goodies would be organized and formatted before the third module.

I just let go and leaned into joy and trust.

If this “trust” thing is good enough for parenting, you’d better believe it’s damn good enough for our passions as entrepreneurs. 😉

Of course, letting go changes everything.

I did, in fact, have all the modules completed before Module One began today. And I got the Village Wisdom contributors PDF formatted and uploaded this afternoon.

I could’ve stressed over doing these things, and likely not done them.

Instead I just adopted the same philosophy I have toward life itself: Joy and Trust. And it all fell together without the stress, because I just let go and leaned into joy and trust.

What Have I (Re)Learned?

The same lesson life is teaching me again and again…

I don’t care if you’re talking about parenting, or your partners, or your work…you’ll never regret the sense of ease, wonder, and perfection that comes when you stop trying to be perfect, stop forcing it to happen or controlling how it does, and let the current carry you where it will.

Make and follow a plan. Just don’t marry the damn thing.

And stop apologizing – to yourself or anyone else – when you follow where your heart pulls you.

Ask yourself: Where do I need to let go and allow?

 

Organic Wisdom :: Are We Teaching Perfectionism?

On occasion, I like to share some of the quotes I post on Twitter and Facebook, with some of my expanded thoughts on it here.

“Organic Wisdom” is what I have found speaking to me in those quiet moments, that guides me and that echoes Truth in my life. Please feel free to download, or share this image in any way you’d like.

Many of us know what a curse perfectionism is as adults. It keeps us working too hard at a job that doesn’t fulfill us, criticizing ourselves for our natural limitations, or judging ourselves by the talents and strengths of another, instead of by our own. Or it keeps us feeling hopeless, unwilling to even try since we know we can never attain that elusive perfection we’ve been convinced is the only thing worthy of our attention (or the attentions of others).

We know what perfectionism is. We don’t like it. We actively talk against it to other adults.

Every time my own perfectionism rears its head I remember what Thomas Edison allegedly told the reporter who asked what it was like to fail at inventing a practical lightbulb 1,400 times:

“I didn’t fail 1,400 times; I created a lightbulb in 1,400 steps.”

Mistakes are good, necessary. They are a part of learning, a part of being human. I could even argue that it’s the reason we are here, since the only way we truly learn what does work is by understanding what doesn’t.

They should be honored as pathways to deeper awareness and growth as human beings.

But we tell children from the time they’re infants that mistakes are bad, that multiple mistakes are worse.

We curse children with perfectionism without even realizing it.

Punishing a child for a mistake made is punishing them for being human.

It sends a very clear message that “you’re not good enough”, that “Who You Are is bad”, that “it’s not okay to make mistakes”.

Punishing a child for mistakes – whether it’s through grounding or shaming or any other means – can teach them to never take risks, since risks are likely to lead to mistakes.

“Play it safe, mediocre even.”

“Don’t stand up or rock the boat or you’ll be punished for it.”

“And whatever you do stay aware of how others are judging you and do everything in your power to look perfect in everyone’s eyes or you will be judged, unloved, and ultimately left alone.”

A better idea is to love them when they make a mistake, wrap them in our arms and ask them what happened and how it happened and listen as they talk. And with your presence and engagement, ask them what they’d like to do next.

Show them mistakes happen, and that the best way to handle them is with love, patience, and support from those we love.

You don’t have to be a perfect parent either.

It’s a myth you’ll never attain. But that hopefully won’t stop you from learning and growing as a parent.

We have so many mamas (and even non-mamas looking to sharpen their relationship skills!) joining us on MONDAY, SEPT 17TH for the Organic Parenting e-course to do just that – learn, grow, have fun, get support and release our triggers (and our guilt).

Click here for a sneak peek!

5 Reasons To Share A Photo of Your Ass With The World

  1. Tiffani from freeplaylife challenged women everywhere to do it. And really that should be enough said, but in case you’re still unsure…
  2. It freaks out your conservative side…If you think there is ANYTHING inappropriate about sharing a photo of a women’s body I encourage you to think again. (And what’s the difference between your undies and your bathing suit?)
  3. You’re worried what others will think…I’ve spent too much time there. And I realized that I could be authentic with everyone about Who I Am and what I believe, or not really be authentic at all.
  4. You’re rattling off all the reasons you think your ass isn’t “good enough” to share…I see your self-depreciation and raise you a scar, and stretch marks. Self-love means loving all of you. Start practicing.
  5. You’re a male and think you can’t join…Meet my husband. His motto: “Asses that play together, stay together.”

I wasn’t planning on joining in. Until I heard all the women who thought they couldn’t or shouldn’t. And nothing sparks my interest like challenging the Shoulds and Cants.

I have a four inch scar across my hip and stretch marks covering the span. I also have long toes, a bald spot on my head, knobby knees, adult braces, an uneven ribcage, protruding shoulder blades and another 18 inch scar down my spine.

Inspired by my favorite line in Fried Green Tomatoes…

And I don’t give a good goddamm!

I choose to love myself BECAUSE of these things.

It doesn’t matter if you think your ass is too wide, or too dimply, or too whatever else your self-doubt and downright rudeness has to say about your incredible body.

It’s not about having a “nice ass”…it’s about challenging our ideas of what nice means.

It’s about telling the media portrayal of “nice” that WE LOVE OUR BODIES just the way they are, for the incredible, wonderful, miraculous things they can do FOR US, not for the male fantasy.

Don’t take a photo of your ass to share with Tiffani. Take a photo to CHALLENGE yourself.

Challenge yourself to love all of you so much that you’ll share it with others. Challenge what you say you believe, but don’t live out loud. Challenge the fears of others while you’re at it.

Because like Christine pointed out, it’s all about the NamASSte. Seeing the beautiful and divine in each of us…including ourselves.