“Tonight I can write the saddest lines…”
Neruda’s sentiments echo through me this evening as I recall my 10 year old daughter’s words:
“I don’t think it’s smart to keep being myself. It makes things worse. People say I’m weird, crazy, psycho, strange. I think I have to change and just be the same. The same — like how they are all the same.”
She went stiff when I tried to pull her towards me. Her upper body tight, arms down like a straight jacket. Eyes diverted, jaw clenched. I knew then not to touch her.
“…my heart looks for her, and she is not with me.” – Neruda
I breathed deeply, tried to center myself, and not immediately react, even though I could feel my throat close in, my heart beat fast.
“Sweetheart, those kids are jealous. They see that you are free … that you’re free to be who you truly are.”
She didn’t buy it.
Her response was probably accurate: The kids don’t even know they conform, fit the mold, follow the crowd, do the ‘typical, acceptable’ things so they don’t stand out (or stand out for the ‘right’ and ‘popular’ reasons). Most of them probably don’t realize they aren’t raised to have their unique, quirky personalities celebrated, encouraged, and never dimmed.
After all, quiet, smiling, unassuming, and accommodating are better than opinionated, expressive, and self-assured, right?
Most of us were raised to fit in.
Taught that different was bad.
…if not at home, then at least through societal constructs.
“I don’t belong…” She began to cry.
I, too, want to cry.
“We, of that time, are no longer the same.” – Neruda
I want to cry for her.
For all of us — collectively — who carry this wound of feeling we don’t belong, that we are not part of something (our family, our community, our school, our church, our sisterhood, ourselves!).
I want to cry for the primordial hurt most of us have felt — at least once — that we are utterly disconnected from one another, from Source, from our hearts, from our inner-knowing.
This slicing separation is what causes us to believe we are not worthy, that we are alone, and that we simply don’t belong.
This is THE collective wound that from the core of our bellies rings out in red ache.
Is there anything more crushing?
It is the part of us that clings to whatever feels solid/stable, tells us we’re OK, lets us slip in and out — cloaked — without causing too much attention (at least in any perceived ‘negative’ way).
It’s where we compromise our truth and constantly ask others their opinions, beliefs, thoughts, ideas on what we should do instead of getting quiet and listening to our heart.
It’s where we give ourselves away.
The spiral of forgetting our truth, our Essence begins.
We begin to feel untethered.
As I listened to my daughter, I was aware of how intimately I know this wound.
It’s this very scar that I consciously … mindfully, trace my fingers over and over and over … with love.
It’s this very scar that kept me feeling separate, not-so-worthy, hidden, fairly unsafe, and much more guarded than I wanted to admit — for most of my life.
I’m 43 and only figuring it out now.
I don’t want her to feel this one.
So, I tell her how magnificent she is. How our greatest gift to the world is our uniqueness. That there is nothing, nothing, nothing she needs to change.
And it’s a tough one because my daughter is NOT a typical kid.
She’s on the Autism spectrum and she’s a girl on the spectrum. That makes a difference.
She’s intelligent, quirky, rigid, imaginative, adventurous, deeply — intensely — empathetic towards nature and animals … so much so that she cries when trees have been destroyed in a forest fire, when I cut chicken breasts, or at the thought of an animal being hunted and killed. And that’s REAL for her. Not dramatics.
(For the record, I love her wide-open heart.)
So, her pull to dull her energetic self-expression — to numb down and become chameleon-like — would create enormous distress and pressure on her (as it would anyone) … and even more so in her case since it would take incredible measures on her part to even attempt doing so.
I feel tired just thinking about it!
And that’s exactly what we have done to ourselves, by the way: Exhausted ourselves by dimming our light.
It takes a lot of work to appear the same as everyone else…
I’m going to “out” us ALL, right now.
None of us are the same.
Neither are your kids.
We’ve been playing the biggest game of make-believe — ever.
How does this affect us?
- Choose and stay in careers that don’t bring us joy
- Marry the wrong person
- Desperately hold onto unhealthy relationships
- Say yes when we mean no
- Blame outside circumstances (and others) for our not-so-happy lives
- Disconnect from our purpose, our passions, our Essence
- Feel afraid, overwhelmed, or numbed-out — regularly
- Sell ourselves out over, and over, and over…
…so that we feel we “belong.”
Even if it hurts.
This is what I have to say:
Fuck that shit.
Enough is enough.
It’s time to come out of the shadows.
It’s time to parent our children in a way that allows their audacious, wild, primal, gypsy, freedom-seeking, truth-speaking, flagrant, unapologetic selves LIVE.
It’s time to for us to love those same parts of ourselves back into liberation, too … because I know I’m not the only one who was raised to be a Nice Girl … the girl who keeps a polite smile on her face and swallows her words: That girl isn’t around here much anymore.
It’s time for our men to feel allowed to experience and express rapture under their skin, streaming hot tears, and expansive, explosive, heart-warming tenderness and Love.
It’s time to lick the salt off our tongues, arrive with full-bodied, overflowing heart-presence, and be whoever the hell we were created to be.
Stop rolling eyes.
Stop with the: tone it down; no crying; pull-it-together nonsense.
Stop telling your child to be quiet when they’re laughing so hard, they pee their pants.
Laugh WITH them.
Pee your own goddamned pants.
And let’s remember, remember, remember that we have this particular life only once.
Shall we fill it with a sense of belonging?
Shall we embrace it with Love?
Shall we adore the hell out of every quirk we see in one another — and ourselves?
Especially in these precious children?
(Even if your son wants a Barbie and your daughter wants to wrestle.)
Shall we try?
…I do NOT want to feel this line from Neruda:
“Because through nights like this I one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.”
I’m not willing to lose my daughter to the so-called dulled-out ‘normalcy’ of life.
…It takes too long to get the spirit back.
And that’s not OK.
We all belong.
(And in case you didn’t catch it: You, too, are magnificent — just the way you TRULY are.)
The Unknown is a tricky place. It’s full of … well … unknowns. It’s vast and wide open.
The structured, tidy World of Certainty feels more comfortable, fixed. A linear path is set-out with clear instructions and all you have to do is follow them so that you get from Point A to Point B … with ease, of course; there are no surprises in the World of Certainty, right? It’s sterile, clean, and you know exactly where you’re going and how you’re getting there.
Oh, but when you open the door that leads you into The Unknown, where the path is not clearly set, it’s like stepping out into an expansive, dark galaxy. What’s out there? How will you know where you’re going? What will be revealed? And when?
The simple truth is, you have no way of knowing. Not really.
The only way to navigate this vastness is to listen to your inner truth, your North Star, your intuition, and trust it. Trust it with all that you have, believing that things will unfold the way they’re meant.
I’d like to live in the World of Certainty, but the only thing I’m certain of is that it doesn’t exist. Not really.
Being a solopreneur, creating a unique business from the ashes of divorce, I’d really like to know – with certainty – what my monthly income will be. I’d really like a guarantee that clients will be attracted to me, to this work. I’d really like to know that there are no unknowns … that this path I’ve chosen for my life will be clear.
But I don’t.
I chose the path of uncertainty when I decided to combine my passions, gifts, and talents into a career so that I could be of service to others. That’s all I want to do. It’s part of my purpose; if I was a millionaire, I’d still do this work. When I made that choice, I slammed opened the door and stepped right in the middle of the Great Unknown. (I mean, hello. It’s a little crazy for a single mom returning from living overseas, just splitting from her husband, to follow her dreams, right?)
I’m learning that the only way to navigate this place is to surrender. To be humble. To surrender to my intuition, my inner guidance, the Universe, to the Goddess, to God … whatever word you choose. It means taking the time to be silent and still so I can listen to my gut – without my mind chattering away telling me what I “should” be doing – then follow it, even when it seems illogical, trusting that things will evolve and become clear as I continue surrendering to the unknown.
A few weeks ago, I was 90% certain the smart thing to do was to press “pause” on the Writing to Wholeness workshops I offer adults. The number of attendees was dwindling; it made logical sense to stop during the summer and restart in the fall. Yet, as I sat in stillness, it became clear that I should continue them over the summer … and actually create and add workshops for children. And so I am.
I have no idea what will happen along the way or if people will sign up, but I’m running them anyway.
A few days after I surrendered to that moment of clarity, I arrived at the venue for the Writing to Wholeness workshops. 15 minutes passed. I sat alone in the empty conference room of the coffee shop, about to leave. I wondered what the purpose was of me continuing with these workshops if no one came. Why would my intuition tell me to have them when I was sitting in the room by myself?
And then I had the strong sense that it didn’t matter if anyone showed up or not to the workshop … because I did.
I showed up for myself. I showed up in devotion to being of service to others, whether they came or not.
In the past, sitting alone in a conference room, without any attendees, would’ve mortified me. I would’ve been deeply embarrassed. Ashamed. I would’ve felt like a complete failure and questioned if I needed to quit everything I’ve been building. There is no way I would’ve told you – or anyone else – about this.
But, instead, I felt proud for showing up. I felt proud that I listened to my intuition, even though I didn’t understand what was going on.
Within minutes, one person arrived. We held the workshop together. My heart was filled with gratitude and humility. I felt initiated.
I have no idea what will transpire and reveal itself in this expansive unknown, but I’m here. I’m showing up. And I’ve surrendered. And I trust that whatever comes is meant to come.
What are you willing to let go of so that you can enter this great space of the unknown, trusting that it will work out in the way that is best for you?
Dear Nice Girl:
You know who you are.
You’re the one who helps the elderly couple struggling to carry their luggage up the stairs.
You’re the girl who calls after a truck full of strangers to give them the book that flew out the back. (Maybe it was important to someone.) Your boyfriend locks his eyes on yours, shakes his head and says, “Nobody does that.” But you do.
On the plane, you pick the fallen peanut package off the floor and place it gingerly on the tray table so the passenger sitting next to you – a sleeping soldier – can eat them when she wakes.
You’re the one who tidies up the dishes on your table at the restaurant to make it easier for the server.
You try to make it easier for everyone.
- Pull forward at the drive-through to put the change in your wallet so the car behind you doesn’t have to wait a fraction of a second longer
- Always check behind you and around you to see how youcan move out of another person’s way … never dreaming of making someone get out of yours. (Maybe you should.)
- Didn’t conform at school and have one clique. You fluttered between all groups, getting along with the cool kids, the smart kids, the nerds, the gangsters, the jocks – everyone.
Peeling back façades, gently lifting off masks others wear is your specialty. You peek behind and say, “Ah! There you are!”
You keep secrets. Nice Girls are Professional Secret Keepers. You safely carry stories of lost pregnancies, abortions, the steel barrel shoved in his mouth, and betrayals measured by the number of kisses down another woman’s spine.
You’re good at keeping secrets … but not at keeping love.
You attract men with war and conflict on the soles of their feet. You recognize complex Achilles-aches and provide a place of centered calm; but his feet are too tired and too wounded to carry you. His war too bloody.
For years, you help and support conflicted men, hurt men, men in crisis, men in transition feel grounded. They say you saved them.
You even get some thank yous. The Nice Girl carries them in a pearl box, knowing gratitude matters.
You think this makes you special, loved, different – almost powerful – to be The One who penetrates him, who sees his potential, his spirit … even when he does not; but it’s not your job to heal his wounds.
Eventually, he wants a backpack and no possessions. A divorce. Or he wants what you can’t offer him: his own children and a clean slate. Or he moves away to focus on his education … he can’t have you and focus on dreams.
This is the pattern. It begins to feel like continuous rejection, a cyclical sacrifice of self. You wonder what’s wrong with you.
Look: Not all people are nice.
Some betray you. Don’t keep their promises or show up for you when you need arms around you … because they’re too deep in their own hurt (all while you, Nice Girl, are empathetic about their pain and try to help them through it, even when they were the cause of yours).
The generosity you give to others you don’t give to yourself.
They push the boundaries of hurt … because they can. Because out of kindness (and perhaps, sometimes, fear), you’ve let them.
You learn that “You’re one of the nicest, sweetest people I’ve ever known,” comes with a slap-down, a “but.”
- But he tells you not to fall in love with him.
- But “I don’t want to keep you from meeting a nice guy.”
- But he’s not happy enough … because you weigh too much.
- But he’s having affairs.
- But he’s not ready for your love.
- But he’s confused.
He loves you…
but doesn’t choose you.
There are some, who at worst, know how to turn your compassion inside out.
They set fire to your self-worth and rain ashes on you.
You’ll burn, yes; but you’ll burn brightly and the moon will smile at you from afar, knowing you are the fire.
Ashes will fertilize the soil and you will grow again.
Ashes are story kindling. Stories that alight.
What looks like destruction is rebirth.
See, not everyone wants tranquility. He might like the steel cut of a knife or the desert sting of wind. He might like edgy storms.
And you know how to weather storms…
You see the front coming and unlike most – who retreat – go straight out. You see how far you can go. The air shifts. The rains come. You smile and brace for those winds and let them rip through your hair. You want to spread your arms out as wide as the tumultuous ocean lets you, embrace it all, and scream, “BRING IT!”
It’s in those storms that you feel the hot, raw, visceral energy piercing through you. It brews deep in your soul.
And you want more.
Listen to the whispers of your heart. They’ve been there all along, inviting you to generously devote time to yourself, Dear One.
Surround yourself with those who see your gifts of sensitivity and empathy as just that: Gifts. Know this for yourself.
Know there’s beauty in disappointment: It leads you to finally recognize what it is you do want.
When you’re ready, build yourself a luminescent, storm-torn door. A door that humbly stands in the beauty of its imperfections, right in front of your golden meadow heart.
Only you can open it.
There will be those who meet you there.
Watch on the horizon for the storm chasers. The ones that show up, courageous.
They drive hours just to have coffee and see your face.
He notices little things: the tiny mole above the knuckle on your index finger and the one on your heel; that you curl your toes and screw your mouth to the side when you’re nervous. He’ll kiss your crooked mouth still until he knows, you know, that you are loved.
They love in quantities the galaxies hold and go so high, they grab handfuls of stars for when you have nights that go dark.
Their soul clicks and their arms spark when they see you.
They show up when you’re on your knees.
They won’t burn you … and you’ll have stars.
Keep your palms open to the sky, Nice Girl.
Build your door. Carve beauty all over it.
Let them come to you.
And remember, always, who you are.
It started as a child. I’d scour dictionaries, enchanted by the meaning and histories of words. I still am. And I still scour dictionaries.
Words are magic. They have the potential to touch our lives – to even change our lives.
Remember those sweet, sticky words whispered to you late at night in the arms of someone you loved?
Or the time that someone rattled your soul with cruel, abusive and cutting words?
There’s power in words. They can put a spell on us and weave us into possibilities. Or into despair.
Words are magic.
So it’s no surprise that three years ago, I was allured by the idea of choosing a “Word of the Year” in January as an alternative to setting resolutions. Resolutions didn’t ever stick, but a word? Oh, a word might just entice me to stay devoted and committed. The word (or words) chosen are meant to be a guiding light to help direct you during your year.
As you adopt your word(s) (some people have three words, like a mantra, others have up to four…it doesn’t matter), you can use them to make decisions, create plans and strategies, to have as a touchstone to see if you’re on track with the goals you want to embody over the year.
My words have been the theme for my work and personal strategy. They’re utilized as a tool to check-in and see if I’m in alignment with what I’m creating.
The first year was Ignite + Glow.
Year two? True North.
This year? Gentle Effervescence.
Their deep and personal meaning provided just what I needed to gain momentum personally and professionally … with profound impact.
But how do you come up with a word of the year?
I struggled the first year, but was fortunate to have the loving support of sisters who took a creative business ecourse run by Kelly Rae Roberts. (We’re all still connected.)
They generously shared resources and their experiences or processes with finding a word; in fact, a resounding number said the word(s) would find them. This, too, has been my experience.
I talk about that in the workbook I just created for YOU so you can have a step-by-step process for coming up with your own word.
Click here to get the free workbook, “YOUR MAGICAL WORD(S).”
All the resources that I’ve been fortunate to find over the years are pulled together in one, beautiful, fun, and soulful workbook to help you find your word(s) of the year.
This year’s words
Gentle Effervescence are my words … and they certainly surprised me. While I knew that I wanted to have more energy, more connections, to sparkle a bit more professionally + personally, I couldn’t really “see” myself as “effervescent.”
It’s as if the universe knew this and handed me – quite gently – the qualifier “gentle.” I wouldn’t be able to pull off being BOLDLY effervescent. It’s just not who I am. But gently effervescent? Yes, I can get behind that. Thank you, Universe.
There are two other words this year, too, which are combined with my words of the year; they are my “core desired feelings” – something that I discovered by going through Danielle LaPorte’s book, “The Desire Map.”
So my north star leading me with all its magical twinkles and alchemical concoctions is:
Generous Devotion (to) Gentle Effervescence
It’s my hope that if you haven’t discovered your own word(s) of the year, that you’ll download the beautiful workbook and that by doing so, you will have your own north star, your own guide post, to help you throughout this year.
It will make a difference, I promise.
P.S. If you’re already signed-up for my newsletter (the Love Notes), then you’ll receive the free downloadable workbook in the next one.
P.P.S Some lovely blog posts from my beautiful friends who wrote about their word of the year:
Monica Martin, mixed media artist at The Artsy Girl Studio. Word: Purpose
Michelle Reynolds, an artist in Australia at Shells in the Bush. Word: Focus
Rene’ Savoie, an artist at Peabody Designs. Word: Fearless.
Philippa Ramsden, an incredible writer in Yangon, Myanmar, at Feisty Blue Gecko. Words: Breathe, Stargaze, and Realise.
Galia Alena, a soulful mixed media artist in Australia. In fact, she’s having a giveaway! Go to her site right away + you enter to win a customized piece of art that reflects your word of the year for your altar!
Have you chosen a word for the year? Please share it below in the comments! If you’ve written a blog post about it, please place a link to it there, too so you can get some comment love.
Last week, I sent out my newsletter and included something different: a video message. The response was positive and it was suggested by some that I post it here publicly so everyone can watch it.
So, I’m listening to my readers and posting the video. This is a little scary (and feels super vulnerable!) but I’ve felt the desire to come closer to you, to reach out in new ways … and a video is certainly much more intimate!
The video below provides tips and insights – the secrets – of letting go. It is my deepest hope that it provides some comfort, some love, some type of support to you.
What are some ways that you let go? Or what is it that you need to let go of? I’d love to hear in your comments below.
Oh! And if you’d like more videos like this, then feel free to “share” this and leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
If you’d like little love notes from me (my newsletter), then sign up here. You’ll receive little love notes periodically from me — and I promise not to overload your inbox with them.
Connecting the head and the heart isn’t for sissies. It’s tough work.
For years I counselled women making difficult life choices. Sometimes, those choices were met with ambivalence because their head pulled them in one direction while their heart tugged hard another way.
It’s uncomfortable to have two sides opened up wide with possibilities. Allowing ourselves to imagine outcomes breeds vulnerability. That can feel scary. When it appears there are the same number of pros and cons in a situation, how do you make a decision?
I’d advise women to do the logical thing when they were unsure: Write a pro/con list, review it, and then do something a little illogical … realize it didn’t matter which side had the longestlist; what mattered was the significanceof what was written on each side.
Circling the deal breakers, the things they refused to compromise on, within each list sometimes helped. This is when they got honest with themselves, acknowledged and accepted what their needs were. That brutal kind of honesty? Helps get to the heart.
It’s important to pay attention to logic, to see the “reality” of a situation (though reality can change in an instant). It’s equally vital to listen with our hearts. They carry old wisdom that whispers to us … if we can quiet our minds a little. Let your mind speak, say its piece. Then go quiet. Allow it sit and rest a bit. Then go inside.
Your heart may sometimes agree with most of what your busy mind is churning out, but it also allows you to see alternate opportunities, possibilities you may normally be too afraid or rigid to embrace. Our heart pushes ever-so-gently, reminding us who we are … that can feel slightly uncomfortable, itchy.
My step-dad is a logical, down-to-earth man and taught us the importance of rationally thinking through details (not always easy). He also taught us the necessity of not overriding the heart. He knew real balance or peace couldn’t come without both.
When I struggled with choices, he’d ask, “What’s the worst
thing that could happen?” I’d mumble the worst thing – which usually wasn’t so bad – and he’d reply, “What would happen if THAT happened?” This helped me bridge my mind and heart, allowing me to safely navigate possibilities without feeling overwhelmed. Somehow, I could see a safety net of other opportunities if I failed or if things didn’t work out exactly the way I wanted. Let’s face it: things rarely do
I’ve learned to add the following question: “What’s the best thing that could happen?” Answering that can be just as scary. We might not feel ready for the good stuff. Feel like we deserve it.
We often make choices based on fear. We’re afraid of failure. Afraid of being wrong. Afraid our dreams, our wants and wishes, won’t come true. We’re afraid of broken hearts and broken marriages. We’re afraid expectations won’t be met
. That we won’t get loved back. We’re afraid we can’t control it all and if we let go, if things don’t align perfectly or exactly as we envisage, it means we’re not in control … we might worry we’re not good enough
, worthy enough.
There’s not much we can truly control in this life though, and when a whirlwind strikes – like death
, illness, or divorce – you realize that the carefully constructed lives we’ve built can be whisked quickly away leaving us standing bare and raw.
When we look to our sides as we kneel in rubble, we see what matters: those standing next to us who love us the most, who see us for who we truly are, who accept us “as is.” It takes faith, trust to believe that if we don’t have all the answers, or if the answer appears in an unruly looking package, that we’ll still be OK. That sometimes, things aren’t what they appear to be. Sometimes, what we think we want and what we actually need
When the what’s-best-for-you-right-now is different from the way you wish things were … it’s hard. There’s a sense of loss in that. A loss of what could’ve been if circumstances were different. It can feel infuriating. Seem unfair. Hurt! Sometimes those circumstances can change with time, but it takes honesty and an open heart to look deep and see if you can accept that uncertainty in your life now.
We need to look for the truth behind the situation. When our heart and mind aren’t connecting, when we can see both sides of the coin, see how they match-up, but feel confused as to what to do (because either way it’s going to be hard and/or good), we have to peel back each layer of our feelings, until we get to the core of how we truly feel and what we really desire and need. There, the truth lies and then our hearts can be open to accept what is best right now.
When I feel a sense of calm, I’ve hit truth. It’s in that protective space I know that even if a decision may hurt, it will quickly heal because I’m standing in my integrity. I’m being honest.
Hard choices bring reflection, opportunities for us to look inward and see if we’re on the path we want to be. Scratch that. The path we need to be on so that we’re aligned with who we really are.
I have a great deal of respect and admiration – deep love and compassion, even – for those who try listening within, sliding fear aside, and decide what is best now. When people do this, they’re changing course one step at a time, accepting they don’t know what it looks like at the end of the road. That’s brave. Courageous.
So no … merging logic and the heart? It’s not for sissies. It’s reserved for the strong ones. The beautifully wide shouldered, vulnerable ones.