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.

The Wisdom of Life’s Immoveable Objects

How to handle life's immoveable objects via theorganicsister.com

(This was originally shared on another lovely blog which has since been taken down. I’m reposting it here, as a reminder to myself as well.)

We all have our paths to walk down in life. As we walk we experience the things we tend to experience – the valleys, the marshes, the darkness of the woods. Sometimes we travel alone. Sometimes we travel with others for a time, and then our paths diverge again.

As we walk down our life’s path, we get to do some clearing along the way. The brush gets thick and we clear it, some branches have fallen and we move them to the side.

But every so often on our path we come across an immoveable object, a boulder that creates such an obstacle that we can not move. A scary diagnosis. A heavy divorce. A lost job. A project that flops and leaves us broke. An overtired child melting down. A running injury that sidelines us. The engine that couldn’t.

It’s funny when we look at life’s immoveable objects and how we usually respond to them.

We tend to push and push and push against them, insisting we can move them or force them, without so much as a budge on their part. We pound our fists and wail and scream and stomp our feet and shout our injustices and curse this thing in our way and say it must be out to get us (and only us). But of course, the boulder – the immovable object in our path – doesn’t mind. It stays what it is; an immoveable object.

Other times we admit defeat. We sit down in front of this looming barrier, maybe even leaning our whole being against it, and we sink into our despair. We tell ourselves this is just how it is, this is where our journey stops, we’re not allowed, not good enough or deserving enough or loved enough to move forward. And again, that object remains what it is.

We spend a shitload of time with these immoveable objects instead of just doing what the obvious thing would be:

Move on around it.

I don’t go for a hike expecting the mountain to rearrange itself to open up a path for me. I don’t move through the woods insisting the trees adjust their lean to create my perfect clearing. I expect rocks, boulders, the possibility of obstacles. I look forward to them. To the divergence they may inspire, a new view they may reveal.

I don’t fight it. I move through it. I diverge from a path. I climb over a boulder. I seek out the clearing (or the place where the sun peeks through the leaves) without any thought of what should be or shouldn’t be, or what it means or is saying about me. That would be as crazy as it sounds.

I don’t try to move immoveable objects. Without missing a beat, I become the one who moves.


I use to think that meditating meant the absence of thought. I’m coming to understand that’s not true. Thoughts will still come. It’s just my relationship to them that changes.

In Life, immoveable objects will arise in the same way our thoughts arise. No amount of enlightenment will suddenly make the Universe stop being the Universe. It actually doesn’t rearrange itself to support us. Instead, it helps us rearrange our ideas, our perspectives, our patterns, our relationship to the mountains and the boulders they drop in our path, so that we can fall in alignment with the greater awareness of what actually already is and wants to be.

When we fight life, trying to make it our version of Perfect, we miss the very thing Life is trying to offer us…the ability to experience all that shit and not see it as shitty, to come across any immoveable object and take it in stride. To feel grounded and at peace, regardless of the ground we’re walking through.

It’s not a sign of an “enlightened person” that they have no immovable objects. What makes us enlightened is HOW we experience it and if we forget whether it still means nothing.

And this is what I’m always learning. It means nothing. We don’t need to push, force, warp, control, or fight what is happening around us. We only need to become witness to what is happening within us.

Yup, again. Get out of your head. Get into your heart.
 
 

Heeding the Siren and Letting Everything Go (big changes for 2014)

We are not enlightened by what we speak, but rather what speaks to us. Yet we pass Truth around, instead of letting it pass through us. - Tara Wagner, www.theorganicsister.com

We are not enlightened by what we speak, but rather what speaks to us.
Yet we pass truth around, instead of letting it pass through us.

These were the words I wrote over a year ago, words that went ringing in my ears, setting into motion a train that’s only now pulling into station, that last sentence like the line of cars being pulled along, showing itself to me again and again.

I want to try – possibly unsuccessfully – to explain how it’s changed me and what that means for this space. Be patient, please…and be gentle…

——

We watch as wisdom flashes across our screen – a quote, a message, a reminder, a graphic – some ancient knowledge speaking to us, jolting us awake from our day-to-day shuffle, but we fail to let it permeate us, to sink in through muscle and bone, to the marrow of our soul, the space between our cells where transformation and Truth spring forward.

Instead we Share it, Like it, Pin it, and then move on without it. It doesn’t matter how deeply it moved us, doesn’t matter the goosebumps it brought us, or the lurch it spurred in us. The earth can move the seat beneath us, then be forgotten in three instants later as we continue to scroll down the page. I can even come across the same exact words, the same exact graphic, and not remember it had already spoken to me, rattled me, tried to awaken me. (I know this because of that handy little feature on Pinterest that says “Pssst! Looks like you already pinned this.” or when I recognize that what I’m looking at was actually shared from me in the first place.)

This is my sad reminder of a shallow distraction, when the scripture being written on my heart is so easily dropped into the file of no return.

Every day I’m so bombarded with so many of Just the Right Words that all they become are empty words, a passing thought, a glimpse of Truth, a mop passed ’round and around the puddle of Light, pointed out and handed off to one another to show our own enlightenment, but not truly lapped up by our own hands.

We are not enlightened by what we speak.

And so Life is not letting me do that anymore.

It’s not letting me skim across the pixels on a screen, trying to turn intangible into tangible, quickly distracted by the next dinging bell or onslaught of information. It’s not letting me pass around enlightenment without absorption. It’s not letting me speak too quickly, often times leaving me not speaking at all. (I’ve sat quietly in more situations in the past year than I have in a lifetime before.) I’m absorbing, absorbing, absorbing, opening every pore on my body in hopes that more will pervade.

I can hear the siren call. It’s saying to drop out, turn off, tune in. It’s saying things can’t go on the same, and can’t go back without facing certain death.

It’s saying spiritual suicide is committed when we don’t give ourselves completely to the lover gripping us at the waist.

I feel it when I sit down at my computer, like the hands of God being placed on my back, pushing me out of my chair the moment I lose myself to distraction, to the things that strip me of time, rather than strip me of my own Ego. I feel the pressure to go, move, get up, shut it off, step away, be done with, and I can’t ignore it. It’s become that train, first only echoing in the distance, but now rumbling so loudly in my chest that it can’t be disregarded, talked over, brushed aside. Instead it is stampeding through me, rattling my ribcage, demanding I take heed before it barrels me over.

This is what Life is saying to me…

Get up, get offline, get out.

The virtual handshake is no longer satisfying the need for a physical embrace. It’s not enough to see one another in avatars and condensed pixels and 140 character blurbs that have been repeatedly edited to portray just the right image. It’s not enough to know what you had for breakfast but not know the voice that’s sharing it.

I need touch, I need voice, I need face. I need to know what spills out of your mouth before you can backspace and try again. I need to see the flashing in your eyes that tells the rest of the story. I need to hold your hands and see us both get real with one another (and ourselves).

I don’t want to just listen to a woman on the phone; I want to take them in, seeing what Spirit shows and what they show, when we are face-to-face. I don’t want to only talk about essential oils; I want to drip them into hands, rub them into necks, anointing feet and Soul.

I don’t want to just work, lose myself in the paying of bills, or the marketing of products and services, and forget that none of this matters, that my only real job is to realize my own Self, to awaken to my own Consciousness, to see and experience Life with those I love and with that wide-awake presence I can’t find when I’m constantly distracted by the tiny computer in my pocket.

So, I’m taking the jump. I’m plunging off the high dive. Delving into the deepest of deep ends. Marrying my own Self-Realization, prioritizing my own spiritual practice, and allowing it to show me what gets to fall away.

And I can see glimpses of it already.

I’m already leaving my phone in the other room, on silent, at home.
I’m making the shift to a planner that feeds me, not just organizes me.

And now I see my mentoring hitting the pause button.
And I know the Organic Sisterhood is being retired.

I know that my time is being reallocated to make space for meditation every morning, and satsang 3 days out of every week, maybe four. For less Facebook, more dancing. Less marketing, more personal creativity. Less planning, more movement.

And I know that what is left after all this shakes out will be driven by something other than my Ego, other than my business plans and marketing goals, other than my own mind. (I’ve talked so long about “getting out of our head and into our hearts”; it’s only now that I’m seeing the ways in which I resisted doing that.)

Because I can’t anymore. I can’t ignore my own Dharma, the role Life wants me to play, the flow it’s asking me to relax back into, give into, allow. I can’t ignore that inner guidance saying it’s time to do more than pass Truth around, time to truly allow it to pass through me, to embody it, to spend more time living it, than teaching it.

And I don’t want to. (Ignore it, that is.)

Last year I learned how to surrender. Through fear, through trepidation, I gave in reluctantly, hesitantly. I trusted the process, but only through a lot of deep breaths and self-pep talks.

This year I’m not surrendering. I’m devouring. I have a hunger, a gnawing growl in my belly that is ready to rip through me with desire, that’s ready to consume and be consumed, whether it be professional suicide or not.

I know I’ll lose friends, lose some of you lovely readers, make some family uncomfortable, and maybe piss a few people off.

I’m sorry. I love you. And please understand me. There comes a point when you have no choice, when you’re willing to look crazy and disregard reason because you know, you know, you KNOW the Truth that sits at your side, holds your hand, and tells you it’s time. You know it like you know the face looking back from the mirror, because it’s your face, and it’s been looking at you all this time.

And it is time. Time for me to change what I do, or maybe just how I do it.

Dharma (my guiding word for 2014) is said to be a divine order, a natural flow to life, that gives us a role and a path, a job or a duty. I resisted those words, the connotation of force, of unwillingness, of obligation they seemed to smack of. I didn’t want a duty; I wanted only freedom. But that was a lens of fear and misunderstanding I was seeing through, and that lens is being shattered. Now I’m finding freedom in that flow, in the giving in to the path laid before me, into the blessing of it, the way it fits me so perfectly, comes together so easily, feels so right. (How could it not? I helped create it.)

This Dharma thing is speaking to me…

About making a community…
A home here in Florida…
About rooting down…
Spending my free time with my guys…
Helping Zeb prepare for the possibility of high school…
Helping him step out of his box and confront his fears…
About writing on paper – real paper – what’s written on my heart…
It’s speaking of a role, a duty I have to my Self first, and my guys next…
It’s telling me there is a time for everything, and that this time is for the here and now…
For real life friends, and bonfires on the beach, and paint under my fingernails…

I’m trying, I’m really trying to articulate this, but I promise you, no matter how much you think it’s making sense, my words aren’t conveying the deep and powerful message Life is laying down before me about where I need to be and why it’s all part of a perfect plan.

If there is one thing Life has given me this year, it was my own heart, wide open. It laid it’s strong and heavy hand against the marble I had built around me, and it slowly, gently wore it down, until what I thought was impenetrable became porous, became sandstone, became twigs and brush, became a mist of smoke, and it didn’t take a huff or a puff to blow my house of self-preservation to the ground.

With one soft and sweet and sexy breath upon my neck, my walls scattered and my heart was exposed.

I’ve experienced more joy, more laughter, more silliness, more delight, more hilarity, more dancing than I thought my boxed-in soul was capable of. Here I was thinking that “who I am” was embodied only in depth, the kind that manifests as reverence and seriousness, never recognizing that my true Self, once unlocked, extended into the depths of gratitude, magic, perfection, and bliss as well – that I had the capacity to see and enjoy both the revered and the ridiculousness of the Absolute. I’m overcome by emotion at the beauty of life, overwhelmed by the brilliance of the human condition. I’m moved to tears and laughter at this stage performance we all keep losing ourselves in. It’s so much more than I imagined.

(I know I’m not explaining this well. Profound Moves lose much in translation.)

Simply put, I’ve been transformed.

My own son hardly recognizes me anymore, and in the best of ways.

I feel my heart pounding its wild fists against my chest, stomping its wild feet in tune to its own wild dance, a declaration of its existence, a finding of freedom and trumpeting the song written across it, like a tiny Footloose playing out amongst my ribs. It manifests itself as silliness and joy and utter stupidity. And people I’ve known all along, including myself, are marveling at the woman they are only just now meeting.

I’ve sat with this story for months, just trying to hear it. Then more months, listening and relistening, interpreting, absorbing, and making sense of it. A year now of being spoken to of astronaut wisdom and forgetting cell phones

And then my Granny’s hands…her life, her love like the bushel that broke the camel’s back, shattering my illusions of what matters, what’s real, and what we’re here to do.

Life has been talking to me about Life, about living it, about wringing the juices out of it in real and tangible ways, about celebrating with our movements and our hands, about things we can touch, Truth we can’t skim and scroll past.

I thought I had done this as we’ve traveled for the past four years, but in Truth, as we explored the country our lives became less tangible, more online, and lacking in a quality that it needed. A depth and connection that goes missing when you drive by so quickly.

There no doubt in my mind that this year has changed my life. Took me places I never thought I wanted to go, exploding ideas into splinters of inconsequential particles that landed softly and dissolved before I even realized they were gone, and there I was…exposed.

The ship is going by a mighty engine, and you are busy rowing. - Mooji

I’ve thought long and hard about this choice to stop rowing, to let the mighty engine do what I can’t really stop anyway, until thinking no longer made sense and all that was left was the doing, the getting out of one’s own way, the admitting, the owning of not only what this girl’s gotta do, but who this girl has gotta be.

Yes, I could feel scared. I have bills to pay and there is still a habit of mind that asks how the hell it will come together, work out, fall into place. But that’s not a game I want to play with my mind anymore, not a place I have the desire to go any longer, and so I’m not. Just like that, I’m just not. Because I know that when I step into the flow, stop fighting the rapids, and allow Life to rush over me, it may not ever look the same, but it will never drown me, can’t drown me.

How can the ocean drown in itself?

So I don’t feel scared (okay, maybe a wee bit). Mostly, I feel excited. Ready. I feel as though I’m hitting a permission button on my heart, a process that has taken me 10,000 steps over 10 years (or lifetimes), something I thought I had done again and again already (and realize I might end up doing again and again later too).

Before, my heart, my spirituality came only after my practicality. But a wide awake heart has no patience for that. Not when it’s hungry to know itself. To know Life. To realize more and more of what’s beyond the makeup of the mind.

So this is my coming out…

I’m wildly in love with that place beyond. Head-over-heels for the mystical divinity within. I’m putting the “oooooo” in Woo-Woo, people. And I’m owning my joy, not just because it’s bubbling up and making itself impossible to hide anymore; I’m owning it because it’s just that freaking good.

It’s not going to change me; it already has. I’m just finally ready to admit it to all of you. I don’t want to just be “The Organic Sister” anymore, locked into something I feel I must maintain for good looks or sensible business strategies, for competitive edge or God knows what. I’d rather wipe the slate clean with my own admission, paint into it a new image (or no image at all), one guided by Buddhi, that inner wisdom that tells me how to align myself with Dharma, the right path; how to let go, let flow, and watch the magic taking place.

Is all of this making sense? Let me try to say it in simpler terms:

My heart has woken up, my spirit is the captain of this ship, my Ego is below deck, learning to take orders. This boat is heading in a new direction. Some things around here are disappearing, left at the horizon; some are just changing. Some things might just be getting my whole attention, and some may come back later, but some most certainly are not.

I’m closing the Organic Sisterhood, taking a break from mentoring, and allowing the rest to happen naturally.

You may not be a good fit anymore for the direction of this voyage, and I honor that, but not by dishonoring my Self.

I still love what I do, still love my oils and want to talk about them, still love my work and want to practice it, still believe in what I’ve created and want to share it.

But the How has become my Optimus Prime, reconstructing itself into something bigger and more imposing on my soul. It’s accepting no excuses, no distractions, no second chairs. It’s transpiring only as a result of inner guidance from now on. If it doesn’t come from the Universe, from my own heart center, if it doesn’t place my own spiritual practice front and center in my life, it’s just not happening.

I feel vulnerable putting this out there. I know the voices that can crop up, the criticism, the snide remarks, the fear, the judgment, the worry, the frustration. (I know it because I got to move through all of it myself to get to this place of peace.)

Please know I’m not totally abandoning this space. Please know I’m here to answer questions.

Please know I love you.

Please, if this change might affect you in any way, please sit with your questions and emotions for a moment, a day, a week, and then reach out to me with patience and an open heart. I’m here to talk with you.

And please, if you feel the draw, hang around. I don’t know what 2014 will look like around here but I’m excited to find out. ♥

 

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.
 
 

Gratitude Is All That’s Left (when we stop trying so hard)

Very last page of my very first #artjournal.

It’s Thanksgiving week. Our little family of three is planning our dinner and a long weekend, disconnected from the ‘puters and connecting with the tangible world.

We have yet to finish building our table. We’ve yet to find a couch we love. So we’ll be eating our meal in a camping chair. And we’re okay with that.

We have new friends offering us furniture, but we’ve happily declined. Vast and empty space is a luxury we’re not willing to give up. But more than that I recognized something in my past that’s no longer there: the urge to “settle”.

We can spend years of our lives settling for things that don’t light us up, don’t make us happy, don’t inspire us. Sometimes we do it “for now” and sometimes we do it forever. And sometimes “for now” turns into “forever”, because that’s how we humans work – firmly within our comfort zone.

I’ve done a shitload of settling in my life. People doesn’t often believe me when I say that. They think I lived some charmed existence where I get everything I want.

But the truth is I’ve had to work hard to overcome my own resistance to the things I want.

(I know a lot of you know what I mean.)

We see something that’s beautiful, that feels so divine, but for one excuse or another we keep it right outside our reach, we never go for it – maybe because it’s “too expensive”, or “too hard to find”, or “too much work”.

But let’s get real. Usually it’s just too much for our tiny sense of self to believe we can have, deserve to have.

I spent a lot of years listening to that tiny sense of self and allowing her to keep me from fully embracing the things I thought were beautiful or wonderful or worth it. I would buy things (like furniture) that were “okay” because I couldn’t imagine having what I really loved. I’d accept hand-me-downs that didn’t light-me-up because “I should be grateful for the offer”…which is often just a hidden way of saying “who are you to say no”.

I would also keep happiness itself – fun and laughter and enjoyment – just beyond my fingertips. If things were going too well, I’d unconsciously screw it up. I can’t count the number of holidays or birthdays when I woke up feeling like a raving bitch, spitting venom at the world, and not knowing why. I’d have this quiet, bewildered voice behind the wall asking me “WTF Chuck?” and I’d bite its ever-loving head clean off.

Some people experience this because they have expectations the holidays be perfect. I experienced this because I was afraid of how good they actually could be, and if I could only bring it down a couple notches, I’d be safe within my comfort zone of Just Okay again.

Pretty tragic, no? Pretty common, too.

I was sitting in satsang last weekend. The topic was “Thanksgiving” and we were discussing our experiences with it when I decided to share this very shift.

It’s a shift of the heart. From barricading behind the brick wall of my own stories in order to protect myself from a perceived threat of heartache, to gently removing those bricks – one at a time – and discovering the expansion of love and trust that fills that space.

I used to want the negativity, because it meant things were safe – not too bad, not too good to be threatening.

I use to keep myself 10 degrees off joyful; settling, settling, settling for Not Great. Just Okay. Then, for awhile, I believed that since I didn’t want the negativity anymore, it was up to me to CREATE the Joy.

But both were wrong.

What I’ve experienced this year is that when I let the wall down, and let go of the expectation that happiness is something I have to work hard for (ahem, another form of postponing our joy, another form of making sure we can’t have what scares us), then the only natural response from Life is to flood my world with Joy.

The spaces I used to fill with my own attempts get overwhelmed with the only thing that’s left.

Love is what is left when you let go of all the things you love. – Swami Jnaneshvara

The ironic part is that by letting go of everything I so tragically loved (i.e. my own thoughts), I stopped settling for what I didn’t. I found that I am perfectly comfortable in an empty house, because it’s not actually empty. I found I have no desire to fill it with temporary things, because it’s already full. I’m finding that I don’t actually want or need anything, but just the right things are finding us in just the right ways.

So this is what Surrender (last year’s Guiding Word) has brought me to…surrendering my fear, my thoughts, and my own will to force into existence some egoic form of Joy…surrender to what was, what is already and always there.

It’s cheesy and wonderful and 6 or 7 years ago I would’ve rolled my eyes and gagged if I had heard anyone say it.

But it’s true. When we let go of our perceptions, our expectations, our sad attempts, the tragic things we love too much, the only thing left is the overriding experience of what’s been waiting here all along.

A Love Letter to Mindful Parents of Little Ones

A Love Letter to Mindful Parents of Little Ones, via theorganicsister.com #quote #marianne #williamson #parenting

I remember when we first starting parenting from a place of gentleness.

A place that taught us how to not use our hands to get our point across. A place that teaches us to breathe and listen and connect first. A place that models patience and kindness so he’ll know how to use it too. A place that showed us how to trust.

It was hard. Just as hard as I know it now is for you.

On one side we had the voices in our own head screaming, yelling out years of conditioning, of fears, that love is not enough, that kids need discipline, they need someone to control them, they sure as hell don’t need a friend. The voice within that was afraid. Afraid of screwing this up. Of “creating a monster”. We had our triggers and our angry to peel back and heal. And lord knows, we never got a fucking break.

On the other side we had well-intentioned families or neighbors or strangers, and their voices. Voices full of doubt. Or voices held behind the sideways glances of condemnation when he was having a meltdown and we weren’t coming down on him. Voices that actually told us our son would be a “detriment to society” and then got angry and offended because we didn’t respect their opinion on that matter. Voices that told us “we turned out alright”, we “survived”. Voices that rolled their eyes when we explained we want our child to do more than “survive” his upbringing.

Voices that were offended, voices that thought we were judging them, voices that told us he was turning into a brat. Voices that yelled at him when we didn’t. Voices that made us all cry a time or three.

But we also had glimpses. We had glimpses of support from another mama in the grocery store. Glimpses of support from family and friends who really wanted to believe the crazy-ass vision we had that this whole “respecting him as a person” thing could work. Glimpses from other parents who had gone before us.

And that’s why I’m writing this to you today.

Zeb turns 14 tomorrow.

For almost 7 years we’ve been following our hearts, and doing the very deep, very hard work of parenting him with patience, trust, compassion, and kindness.

It has not been easy. And there were times we wondered.

Times when he tried to climb the walls of a restaurant, and we struggled to find the right way to handle amidst the criticism. Phases that can really only be called “obnoxious phases”, where he tested out his autonomy in ways that weren’t much fun for any of us. Times when he made bad decisions and we allowed him to, not with “tough love”, but with patience and lots of gentle conversations as we guided him through the consequences. Moments when we watched him struggle and deny any guidance at all. Moments that made us cringe and wonder if we were doing the right thing.

This too shall pass” became my mantra.

This is not his life sentence” became my reminder.

This is not about impressing others” became my own personal practice.

And even when I was sure I was wrong, I was right.

At 14, he’s neither a “detriment to society”, nor a “spoiled brat”.

In fact, this past week, as he’s been visiting family and friends out of town, we’ve been privileged to read the thoughts and impressions of those he’s with. We’ve been honored to see him through the voices of others for a change.

To hear his cousin remark how smart he is and how happy she is that he has a mind of his own, and how much she loves being friends with him…

To hear how he’s opening doors for others and helping with the dishes…

To hear how much he makes everyone laugh…

To hear my own mama say that the rest of the questioning and ridicule we’ve received was all wrong, that we are all lucky to know this amazing young man…

To hear that others can see in him what we’ve seen all along…

And this is what I want to share with you.

There are, what I like to call, “the messy years”. Years when it very much does look like you’re creating a monster. Years you’re not sure will pass.

Years when you sure as hell don’t think you’ll ever hear words like I’ve heard above.

There will be times when your kid will scream at you and you’ll wonder just how patient is patient enough. Times when someone doesn’t see the 14 conversations you will be having with one another over the next week about this situation and the way you’ll come together with love and apologies and deep heart lessons for both of you, and instead they’ll only see that you are to blame for “the problem with kids“; you know, the ones who get neither love nor appreciation and truly do act terrible because of it.

There will be doubts. Moments when you want to go back to yelling or spanking or shaming because “at least it got shit done”, and it sure as hell wasn’t so tiring.

And there will be mistakes. Bad choices of your own when you look like a terrible example of conscious parenting, or a terrible example for any kind of parenting for that matter. Moments you’ll handle poorly enough to embarrass yourself. Moments you’ll wish you could do over for years.

It’s going to be hard.

Really hard.

Really fucking hard.

You will – at least once, I guarantee it – change your mind, throw in the towel, and be absolutely assured that this hippie-dippy shit only works for some kids. That love and respect and kindness isn’t actually universal. And that if it is, you just don’t have what it takes to make it work.

You will get to that place, trust me.

And in that moment I hope you’ll remember to have these words tucked away in your heart, and to come back to them to remind yourself what I’m saying here.

It. Will. Pass. The doubts, the fear, the messy years. It’s not their life sentence. Love and patience and kindness is universal (although how your kid needs it to look isn’t). And one day, standing before you will be this incredible person (who still challenges the bullshit out of you), with a grin on his or her face, and a big wonderful heart, who learned to share it with others because you shared yours first.

You will not have “created” this amazing person who opens doors and speaks up for the little guy and has intelligent conversations…but you will know you nurtured them to their fullest potential without getting your own triggers and  inner fears in their way.

Again, let me repeat, there will be times where it is impossible.

I’m not saying it will “seem” impossible. By all means, you’ll know it IS impossible.

And in those times you get to make a choice.

A choice for your values or immediate results.

A choice over who is going to win: the voice of fear or the voice of Love.

This is parenting for the long-term. For the big picture. So remind yourself, through all these messy years when there are boogers dragged across the walls, and screaming matches over LEGO, and the first time they ever steal something, and words you wish you’d never taught them, and everyone is so kind as to point out their perfectly manicured children who never talk back or make mistakes because they’d get their ass whooped if they did…

Remind yourself that real, mindful, conscious, organic, peaceful, respectful parenting doesn’t look good in the beginning, in the same way a freaking souffle doesn’t look like a souffle until it comes out of the oven. (And if you keep poking and prodding it’s not gonna come out looking like a souffle at all.)

This kind of parenting doesn’t come with instant gratification like spanking and threatening and shaming does.

Instead it comes with real gratification, the kind that comes when one day they are taller than you and out there making their impact on the world with the kind of tools you modeled for them.

So this is my love letter to you, as much as it is to my younger self.

This is my reminder that your kids chose you as much as you chose your kids.

This is my reminder that the only things that really trigger us is our moments without love and trust.

This is my reminder that whether you pushed an 8 lb baby out of your vagina or simply caught one with your hands or your heart, both prove that you ARE in fact cut out for this, that you DO in fact have enough love to give, and that you WILL in fact find out how incredibly amazing of a parent you are – not when the world finally sees it, but when you finally do.

Wisdom for the Newly (or not so newly) Self-Employed

by Scott Biersack

I’m over on the always wonderful, Kind Over Matter, sharing some words of wisdom for those newly self-employed sisters.

I find that business – like relationships, like parenting, like our health, like Life – comes into our world for one true reason. Not to make us money. Not to make us happy. But to make us grow. To show us what we get to learn.

I got (and still get) to learn a lot. In all my adult years, I’ve only been self-employed. This means 13+ years of Spiritual Growth coming at me masked behind the costume of Big Ideas. It’s been intense, exasperating, liberating, enlightening, exhausting, exciting, and mind-blowing (depending on the day or the lesson or the way I approached it).

Anytime someone is starting a business, they tend to ask questions like “How do I find the right business name?” or maybe “What do you think about this color scheme for my branding?” Necessary questions, for sure.

But what I really want to do is invite them in for tea, show them to the nearest cushy seat, and share some hard-earned sisterly wisdom. Not to freak anyone out, or turn them off from business. But to help them see through the easy parts – the excitement and fun of getting started – to the real gift of self-employment: the ways in which you get to expand. And also to share with them the wisdom I wish I had had from the very beginning so they can move through it with more grace and fewer bumps or stalls along the way.

Where would I start? With these three words of wisdom:

Click here to read more.

 
 

Hello Life, My How You’ve Grown

Dappled. My #widn is really more of a #wiwdt since I'm driving now and this photo is cooler than the glove compartment.

June 2nd marked the longest we’ve ever been in one place since we’ve traveled. (I’m totally not counting the months we were in Vegas upgrading rigs.) We’ve now been in this spot for two and half months. In this area for 4 and half months. In this state seven and a half.

No, I don’t consider us off the road yet. Yes, I realize I’m being stubborn. 😉

We’re still in the RV. We’re still not making any real plans.

We’re only looking day-by-day. Today, tomorrow, maybe this week, a little into next month. We’re open. Open to the idea that we have no idea. Open to the experience of Whatever This Is. Open to be directed through it all, just flowing with it, a little Lazy River of Life right now.

The synergy has been tremendous. Tree. Men. Duss.

It’s like planting these seeds in our little RV Garden. We pushed them down in the soil, and then we waited. Hours, then days, even weeks went by. We questioned how we planted them, if we were nurturing them properly, even what it was we had planted. And we kept watering and watching and waiting.

Destined for the smoothie. #green #localfood #rvgarden

I had little idea when we planted ourselves here in FL what the hell we were watering or watching for but it’s just beginning to poke through. At first it looked a little like what we’ve been calling weeds and I had to call about a lot of patience (our monthly Guiding Word in the Sisterhood for June) to not pluck it out of the ground right then and there. But instead, we watered and watched and waited for it to grow, to see what it would become.

And it became clear pretty early on that this space is not really about me (ahoy! what a novel idea!). This space, from what I can see, is Justin’s space. His turn. He’s taking on challenges he only just told me he couldn’t handle 3 months previous, and with an expertise and a hunger and a certainty his quieter nature is not accustomed to. He first took on a job that he knew would be fun and challenging, then received a promotion that would be more challenging than fun. Now he’s got a fancy title, his own business cards, a work van and a voice in a company that is teaching him to embrace his gifts and strengths and sharpen the duller edges of his axe to match. He’s got a roadmap and a stepping stone and bigger things to come.

He was waiting at the door when I got home. #turtle

My role has been to hold space, to support, to ground, to bear witness, to stoke fires, and to send him out into a whole new world with a lunchbox full of affirmations and iced coffee. Life hasn’t ignored me though. It’s sent me spiritual teachers and new friends and the very thing to that will enable me to be patient: community to tend my own fires and reminders of what I get to do myself. His being “at work” has given me more space to do my work here and elsewhere, to delve into creative projects, and tweak and finesse the things that need tweaking and finessing. I’ve had time to do more in less hours (how the hell did that happen?).

It’s not without puzzles. Justin and Zeb still haven’t found their community yet, and that’s something we’re ready for. The dance between home and not home is still resulting in a few bumped toes while we work out the subtler aspects of timing and pace and oh yeah, there’s a grocery store to get to today. And the “stuff” accumulates the longer this RV stays in one spot.

Perhaps the ONLY sane response to a deluge is to go splashing through the puddles it creates. #surrender

But I can’t say there is anything off, anything “bad”, anything that isn’t working. Even the heavy rains…they seem crucial, necessary, a needed part of the operation of whatever this will show itself to be. They seem integral to what is to come. The deluge to infuse the growth. And they keep create these warm puddles of laughter to go stomping through.

It all looks and feels and IS exactly wonderful, even if I’m not quite sure if it’s going to be complete in 2 months or 2 years. I don’t feel like I’ll live here forever, not even for a long time. But the definition of “long time” is slowly morphing in my mind, and my fears are turning into jokes as we laugh about not really living here, even though we kinda do.

How we rock a date night. Wagner style.

We’re just Here for now. And when it’s time for Here to change, we’ll find ourselves in another Here. And until then we’ll keep plucking caterpillars off our tomatoes and having date nights at the water park and surrendering all those ideas that any of this means anything other than All Good. Because it could all change again in an instant, as Life is prone to do, but that doesn’t mean anything more than another Right Here, Right Now.

Don’t get me wrong. All the ingredients are here for a This Sucks recipes. But it’s just not what I’ve been cooking. So it’s good. It’s just all really, really good.

Am I enjoying this ride?

Am I enjoying this ride?, via theorganicsister.com

I dreamt that I was riding a bike. The town was new to me, the road was foreign. And I was faintly aware that I was not familiar with this whole “bike riding” thing.

But I rode anyway.

As the roads went up steep hills, I was only aware of the tension and burning in my thighs. It didn’t hurt, and I didn’t have the thought of walking the bike up the hill instead. I was just aware and steady,  my attention to it like a mindful parent: encouraging, calm, focused, and invested in this uphill-ness.

As the hills went down, I picked up speed and recognized I had no brakes and I quickly realized my expectations of controlling this thing was a joke. But instinctively, I shifted, leaned forward, and found that I could slow things down by leaning heavier, pressing my feet into the pedals themselves. And I marveled at it, just slightly. Like a “Huh. I’m not totally screwed after all.”

The corners were sharp, and often on the downgrade, but I found I flew around them with grace and ease. Aware of the cars or pedestrians or bikers around me, but without paying attention to them.

My mind was only on my body, the feel of my legs, the wind wrapping around me.

Once I got distracted (by a woman with a badass mandala tattoo, I might add) and found myself nearly tangled in the road with a handful of others. But I simply shifted back to myself and found my way easily around the traffic. And once I noticed a middle age man doing some pretty wicked tricks with his own bike. This was about the only time I really connected with another person, as I laughed and admired his Tony Hawk-ness. Celebrating with him, in a way.

What struck me most about this dream was my inattention to the Outside World, and my mindfulness on my own experience. I was fully present in my own body, in my own sensations. My mind wasn’t wandering, wasn’t worrying how I looked as I slowly pedaled up those hills, didn’t feel less awesome than the trickster flipping his ride like a pro, didn’t take it personally or get wrapped up in the traffic jam, but just was simply present in myself.

It came with its “ups and downs, twists and turns”. It challenged me but I didn’t get lost in my ideas of being challenged (“I’m not good enough. This is hard. I’ll never make it.“). I didn’t worry about “the road ahead” either.

I simply stayed present to my body, my movements, without judging them. And I found myself traveling just fine.

In real life?

I would’ve hopped off that bike at the first sign of even a tiny hill, and complained as I walked it the entire way up.

I would’ve panicked on the way down, likely wiping out (or walked it down as well).

I would’ve done everything in my power to slow down, stop, and avoid the sharp turns, including mapping out my entire route ahead of time to ensure nothing out of my control might happen, and quite possibly not even getting on the bike in the first place.

I wouldn’t have even noticed the badass tattoo, too absorbed in my own BS to pay attention.

If I found myself in a traffic jam, I would be frustrated that I didn’t foresee it, embarrassed that I couldn’t avoid it, profusely apologetic for being a part of it (possibly under the assumption that I may have somehow caused it – because it’s always about me right?), and I would’ve been self-conscious as I tried to move on from it.

And I would’ve seen the flips and tricks, then heard my thoughts criticize for not being able to do the same thing (even though I’d likely have done everything in my power to avoid such risky business in the first place).

And I certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed the ride.

(Care to continue this thread with me? Join in on the Sisterhood.)

Why is it so hard for you to receive?

Why is it so hard for you to simply receive?

I wander around department stores about once every 7 years, as evident by the two gift cards I’ve been carrying around for nearly that long. It wasn’t for a lack of trying that they hadn’t been spent. Justin and I had looked, but we don’t tend to find much of ourselves on their shelves.

But my wallet needed cleaning out and the summer heat and humidity is sneaking up on us, and I set upon it, determined to spend these damn cards, knowing (hoping) I’d at least find a cami or a tank top.

(Shopping is always an experience in itself for me. I could probably write about it alone, but that’s not what stole my attention that day.)

I found what I had been looking for, and with a armful of stripes, totaled up my swag to find it just exactly what I needed to spend to get rid of these damn snowmen and Santa’s I’ve been carrying around for nearly a decade.

I was wrong. Four dollars left on one card.

I’m not taking this thing home. I’ll find something in here to spend it on.

I was only about halfway down the main aisle when I stopped myself.

This is stupid. I’ve walked these aisles. I found what I want. I don’t want anything more.

So I walked back to the register to pay it forward instead. There was a woman there with her teen daughter, their items being totaled. I honestly didn’t expect the conversation that followed.

“Excuse me. There’s not much on this, but I’d like to give it to you.”

“Huh? Oooooh, no, no. I couldn’t take that from you.”

“No, really. It’s not a big deal. It’s only a few bucks and I won’t use it.”

“No, I wouldn’t feel right. You’ll regret it.”

Uh. What? Although my knee-jerk response flowed out without pause, my head got a little stuck on that phrase of hers. I’ll regret being kind?

“I live an hour away. It’s taken me 7 years to spend this much, and I’m not going to be driving out here again for $4.”

“No, no, you keep it. I couldn’t possibly…”

At this point I was pretty much over the debate.

“Seriously, you’re doing me a favor.”

And I placed it on the counter and walked out. As I walked to the truck, Life spoke so loudly in my ears that I almost acquiesced to the urge to turn back and repeat them.

Why is it so hard for you to receive?

Life is constantly walking up to you, trying to give you a gift of generosity, a show of love, the tiniest token of how much you are held and supported. If you can’t receive with gratitude something as small and meaningless as a little plastic card today or a compliment tomorrow, how in the world do you expect Life to be able to pour out the ocean of goodwill into your heart that you so deeply deserve?

How is it that you can expect the young person standing next to you to learn to receive with graciousness, to reach out for support when she’s depressed or has her hands full with a new baby or God forbid, is sick and hurting? What do you tell her every time you tell yourself no, you couldn’t possibly, it wouldn’t feel right?

That you’re not worthy? That others will regret showing you kindness? Who told you this bullshit story and why in the hell do you decide to believe them still?

And then Life turned the tables and asked me, why is it so hard for you to give?

Whether it was $4 or $400, it didn’t matter. Why do you diminish it, take the focus off the act of kindness, and pretend the recipient is doing you a favor? Why do you insist that what you are giving means so little? Why do you put a monetary value on kindness, instead of honoring the act for what it truly is – something that runs so much deeper to others than some service to you.

This isn’t about you. It is about what Life wants to show someone else, and you let your own discomfort get in the way of the words that really needed to be heard; words of self-worth, and a message from the Universe that kindness comes in seemingly small, unexpected ways. This wasn’t for you to value or devalue, but simply to allow.

How many times have you felt the words play on your tongue, the uncontrollable desire to walk up to a stranger and tell her she’s beautiful or that Life is working magic for her as we speak? How many times have you talked yourself out of it for no other reason than you put your own head in the way? You made it about you – how you’ll look, what others will think of you – instead of surrendering to the flash of revelation lighting sparks against your heart.

There is nothing to be uncomfortable about. Nothing to argue or debate. Nothing to be embarrassed for. Speak the words rubbing against you, share what you are called to share, and let the Divine decide where the chips will fall. Let a greater Mystery guide a conversation you yourself won’t fully see.

Let it all go. Let yourself receive, and let yourself give, without all your damn excuses.