I’ve been thinking a lot about the election results. It’s hard not to.
My facebook feed. My mailman. The lady at the town council office that accepted my forms. A client who had an out of the blue binge.
‘What do you make of Trump?’, ‘This is not going to be good.’ and ‘It’s all his fault.’
A mix of fearful disbelief, dismay, grief, and blame. Not fun times.
So what do I make of Trump?
I didn’t vote. It didn’t seem like the integral thing to do when I didn’t and don’t have a strong opinion about either candidate.
This might sound like a cop-out, but hear me out. A Facebook Ad made it’s way to my feed when there were only 3 days left to register for an overseas ballot and I quickly added it to my ‘to-do’ list. But then thought twice about it.
And I realized the only reason I’d be voting was because I think I ‘should’.
That as a free citizen in the western world, I should exercise my right to have a say.
But for me, jumping in the political ring at the last minute just because of all the hype around Hillary vs Trump didn’t seem like it was the real me.
I haven’t followed politics for years. The last time I voted, I voted for Bush junior because my parents were staunch Republicans and I couldn’t imagine what would happen at the dinner table if I voted for Gore. By the time his second term came around I was dating a liberal Democrat, and I couldn’t pick between my family’s values or my boyfriend, so I didn’t vote.
As I started to find my own voice, and what I really cared about, I realized that for now I don’t have the bandwidth to keep track of all the ins and outs of how government and the economy works. What I do have space for is why an individual makes a choice.
I care about why the person in the position of power, and the person casting their vote, is making the decisions they are making. Are they making it out of Pride, or Shame, or Fear? Or is it out of Love and what they believe is the ultimate good for the earth and mankind, even if it’s an unpopular vote?
As I hear the reactions toward this last election there’s a lot of emotion going on. I see Anger, Disgust, Grief, Sadness, Fear. Thankfully there are also slivers of Compassion and Love.
If you’re feeling any of those things, I can understand why, and I’m feeling those emotions throughout my life right now too.
I’m also aware that those aren’t my primary feelings about this election, and so I’ve had to check in with myself. What am I feeling instead?
Oddly, it’s Curiosity mixed with Anticipation and Excitement.
Not because I think Trump will do a good job, or is the best person for the job.
But because the only good I see coming out of this election result is that we, as a generation, have been given a wake-up call.
America is having a breakdown.
The same kind of breakdown that I’ve had.
The kind when you’re at war with yourself because you’re so caught up with fitting in and keeping up with the shoulds of who you think you have to be. The kind where you think the survival of you and your identity depends on this, and so you keep trying to keep it all together. Except you’re faced with guilt when you realize you’ve screwed up, and shame when you realize you could’ve done better, and fear that because of this, and regardless of this, you’re not OK anymore. It’s not working and you’re stuck, but you keep trying to make it work all the same because you don’t know any different. And so you lose yourself in the process.
Maybe you can relate.
Yes, it is scary when something the size of America has a breakdown. I have Fear there too. Because a breakdown on that scale means very few are left untouched. It’s no longer contained to the tears on my couch and the visits to my therapist.
But here’s what I know about breakdowns.
You either become a victim to it and let it define you…
Or you rise to the challenge and let the process of shedding and refining happen, so that you come out through the fire a more wiser, aware, connected, and purer version of you.
You get in touch with your True You.
That is the exciting part.
On the morning of Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 I did something I never do…
Aside from willingly getting out of bed at 6am (in the dark mind you) for my first day of fish feeding training (the joys of a fish farmer’s wife)…
…I turned on the TV when we got home. It was in time to watch Trump give his acceptance speech live.
My husband commented, ‘You never watch TV!’
‘I know! But this is watching history in the making!
In hindsight, I reflect on that statement, and sure, there was probably a lot of truth in that. That day is likely to end up in the history books of the future.
But here’s the other thing. We don’t have to wait for a presidential election, or any election to watch history in the making.
Every. Single. Moment. Of your Life. Can Change. The Course. Of History.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Every. Single. Moment. Of your Life. Can Change. The Course. Of History.
Every choice we make in our daily lives is us casting a vote. How we treat our neighbors, where we do our shopping, how we love (or don’t love) ourselves, our family, our friends, our enemies. How we do (or don’t) speak up and take action for what we believe.
It is the ripple effect and accumulation of those choices that matters more to the future of this planet than who is living in the White House.
Here’s something I was taught recently about feelings:
We have Anger when we have Passion and Desire for something to be different.
We have Sadness and Grief when we have lost something dear to us.
We have Fear and Anxiety when we are living in the future and forget that we have what we need, right now, this very second.
We have Shame and Guilt when deep down we know that we are capable of, and wish we had done, something different.
For those of you, and those you love, who are experiencing any of these emotions due to the state of the world affairs, or the state of any part of your life right now, first, let yourself feel. Feeling is important and necessary. Numbing doesn’t do anything except opt out of your life (trust me, I’ve tried).
Once you are feeling, here’s a few things to ask yourself:
What do I Desire to be different?
What do I have Passion for?
What is it that I think I have lost or will lose?
What can I be grateful for right now?
What is something I can do right now, or today, or tomorrow, to do my part to create the future I want to see for the world?
I started writing this to extend an olive branch to those who are hurting right now. But I am also writing this to those who are not. Because my gut tells me, that if Hillary had won, you would be hurting too, just for different reasons.
That’s what happens when the best our political system can do is give you the choice between a crook and an asshole to run the country, or so I’ve heard.
I am still undecided as to whether I will call them a crook or an asshole. Because I know two things about myself.
One, I will most usually judge the hell out of someone else when it is somehow reflecting a part of me that I really don’t like.
Two, anytime I say ‘I will NEVER do (or be) THAT!!!’, I inevitably do (and am).
So before I call her a crook or him an asshole, I’m asking myself, where am I a crook? Where am I an asshole?
Where in my life do I let the desire for power or greed or being right, or the idea that I can get away with just a little (or not so little) white lie, influence my decisions?
Where in my life do I think I am better than the other person, dismiss their point of view, and exert my own privilege or power over them?
Guess what, I do both.
Whether it’s covering my tracks when I know I’ve messed up so I don’t have to face the humiliating pain and shame of being wrong in front of family, friends, or colleagues;
Or stereotyping and rolling my eyes at the guy in front of me in the checkout line because they are taking too long to bag up all of their booze and potato chips.
At the end of the day, I am just as guilty as they are.
You might be too.
So here’s a reality check:
Blaming, shaming, and complaining isn’t going to change anything other than you will grow a lot of bitterness and discontentment. You might experience anxiety, or hopelessness, or possibly depression. You’ll probably increase your blood-pressure and see a few more wrinkles in the mirror.
You may choose that if you wish. No one is stopping you.
You can also choose to get curious about yourself. Because like it or not, that is the only person who’s words, decisions, and actions you have any control over.
You don’t have to hand over your power to the government, or any institution for that matter, and watch the show from the side of the road, or your couch.
You get to play a part.
Not only do you get to play a part, you get to cast your vote and create the ending to the story, at least for your own life.
And who knows, maybe by creating an ending that reflects your deepest truth, one that is grounded and founded in compassion, empathy, patience, kindness, courage, and more of the endless facets of Love, then maybe you get to shape the ending of the bigger story at play, that extends beyond the next 4 years, 8 years; beyond your lifetime.
And it all starts with You. With Me.
How can you and I show compassion, empathy, patience, kindness, and more to Me, Myself, and I?
How can we let go of an old harsh story that says we need to be doing and striving and pushing and trying, so our pride and ego can say we have done enough?
What about really tuning in? Slowing down enough to hear the whispers of your heart. To see where your soul wants to take you? What might you do differently then?
And how might you then BE and Become what you so desire for the world around you?
I am not promising that this is easy. In fact, heads up, it’s not. I get it wrong all the time.
I will promise you this though. It is worth it.
You are worth it. The lives of the people you touch are worth it. Your community, your country, and this world is worth it.
As you extend more compassion and love to yourself, you will have more to give to the people around you. And they will have more to give to the people around them. (Heck, there might be so much love and compassion floating around that even the White House will get the hang of it!)
And there lies the hope. And excitement for what could be.
This story was written by Corinne Birchard. Thank you for sharing your heart with us!
This was supposed to be the year of everything. Senior year of college. I was so excited to start this year as I had big goals and aspirations for the up-coming cross country season. I dedicated my summer solely to training; I discussed with my mom the idea of not getting a summer job to maximum my time for getting in my hour long endurance runs, my lifting session, my shakeout second run of the day, and my routine of “little things” to promote recovery, including sleep. My parents not only understood that, but encouraged me to hold off on getting a summer job so I could focus my energies on training. So that was my summer.
I was so excited to go back to school and compete in my class cross country season as a Division I runner. And to learn and complete my degree in biology, of course, but I invested so much time in running during my time off from school that I couldn’t wait to taste the delicious fruits of my labor.
Turns out they weren’t so delicious.
While I was focusing my energies on training, I kept putting off the dreading feeling of leaving the home I love so much. This year was different from other years. The early years of college, I would be so excited to go back to school and reconnect with my roommates and teammates, train hard and study hard. Of course, I would miss my family and friends and boyfriend back home, but the college atmosphere was different, almost refreshing. New.
Now, things are different. With one year left of college, I had my future career to look at, deciding where to get my masters of education, spending time with my parents that I enjoy so much, and planning a future with my then-boyfriend, now fiancé. And, life happened back up at school. I grew apart from people whom I was close with at the beginning. That happens, that’s okay. I went through mindset changes that maybe didn’t exactly line up with the mindset of others on my team (some may say I take my sport too seriously, but I’ve always been a serious person. That’s how I perform my best.)
I wish I realized this earlier, but underneath the focus of putting forth my best effort in training, I was masking the dread of going back to an environment in which I knew would be different.
But when I realized it, it hit me like a ton of bricks straight to the chest. I felt like I was suffocating.
The year I was expecting to be the best year ever wasn’t turning out that way. Training was going okay, but I didn’t feel comfortable with where I was at. Between the different training philosophies, eating lifestyles, practice conflicts, and levels of interest in competing and training, I felt like I was isolated and had no one to connect to. I thought that it would pass, maybe it was just everyone was adjusting to being back at school again.
But weeks went on and I never felt more alone surrounded by people. I dreaded going to practice. I ran with others, but being with people felt like I was suffocating. I would break off and run by myself, and that was equally as suffocating. I couldn’t escape it. The pressure would follow me back to my apartment and I felt uncomfortable in what was supposed to be the comfort of my own space. It felt like living in a compacted bubble that was ever pressing down on my chest.
The worst was when that pressure, the suffocating, came crashing down in my first race of the season. I went in with a happy heart and a happy head (I thought) and was looking forward to seeing how I would perform. Mid-way through the 6K race, the pressure came back and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
Not exactly the way I wanted my first race as a senior to go. It was embarrassing. My parents drove for eight hours to come watch me run and spend the day with me. I felt like I let them down, and cried in the shower as they waited in my living room to go out to dinner. They had no idea.
In a place in which I was surrounded by positive energy, I encountered negative energy at an unrelenting rate. The pressure, the suffocation would squeeze tears from my eyes on my way to class, or practice, or on my way home. But I couldn’t tell anyone there; I was colloquially known in the athletic department and on my team as the girl who was always smiling, always happy, such a great big smile on my face.
Yes, I’m smiling, but on the inside, I’m crying. I began counting down the days to graduation, not because it would a joyous occasion, but because that meant I could leave this place for good.
I decided to take a weekend away. I needed a change of scenery, a change of people, a change of everything. I couldn’t wait to leave.
And thank God I did. I left my computer at my apartment and my phone’s touch screen wasn’t working too well, so I only used it to get in contact with people on an urgent basis (like, where was my ride from the airport, and yes, I landed safely, because just to type those five or six words took a solid ten minutes. I couldn’t be bothered with that the entire weekend).
With the first breath of fresh air I took in when the flight landed, I felt all the negativity leave my body. I was able to breathe again.
Over the course of that weekend, I got the best sleep I’ve been able to get since I went back to school. I really, truly, genuinely laughed so hard in the pee-your-pants-but-you-don’t-care type of way. I genuinely smiled so much (a real, tooth-grinning smile) that my jaw cramped up.
And, I felt independent. With the suffocation gone, I felt like I could actually do things I wanted to do, instead of veg on the couch post-run thinking of all the things I could be doing but instead wasting my day away. Slowly but surely I felt strength come back to my body in the form of the warm light ability to freely breathe.
I didn’t know how much I needed to get away, but I’m glad I did. I learned so much about myself that weekend. Like I truly enjoy math and maybe I should have majored in math instead, or that I am actually able to strike up a conversation with a person I just met, instead of waiting for her to dictate the conversation.
The best part was that the happiness I felt in the core of my body didn’t leave me when I stepped on the flight back to school. Instead, I think it grew and made me more confident. I reached out to a friend and teammate who I haven’t really spoken to since the beginning of the year due to scheduling conflicts and I told her how I was feeling. It felt so good to actually tell someone, instead of letting the feeling suffocate me. I became more comfortable reaching out for help from different resources, like my coach, my sports psychologist, my journal, and you, who is reading this story. The more I shared how I felt, the more comfortable I felt, because I wasn’t alone.
The more I talked, the more I realized that there were changes I could make myself to help me truly enjoy my last year at school. I happily decided to switch my degree from a BS in biological sciences to a BA, and resign a class I really wasn’t enjoying or benefiting from. I explored places and initiated activities with my friends, either going out on adventures in town or finding a new place to study.
And, most importantly, I felt like I was able to breathe. I was able to breathe without restriction.
What I learned from this experience that it is so important to do what makes you happy. Don’t worry about obtaining perfection. Don’t worry about obtaining the ideal “senior season” because there will be someone that is out of your control that may change that vision in an instant. Instead, be malleable. Be open. Be present. Be you, do what makes you happy in that moment, and breathe freely.
It’s not often that I will drop £350 on myself without pre-planning the expense, working it into the budget, rationalizing why I, and the items that I desire, are worth it.
It was a new and rare experience when I found myself freely handing over my credit card without any of these mind games going on. A spontaneous shopping spree on the 2nd day of the True You Italia retreat as we were wandering the streets of Rome.
Technically, we were looking for a place to sit and have a drink and a snack together (when in Rome…). My mission at the time was to get us off the main street and into the quieter alleys that were not so packed with tourists (those darn tourists).
As I paused to invite the others to cross the street, I looked up and saw a dress that caught my eye. It was an orangey mustard colour with a subtle blue flower print, the light material flowing off the mannequin in such a way that stirred something in me to try it on. To see if I would feel as beautiful in it, as the beauty the dress itself created.
Plus the price was right. 39 euros? I can do that.
So I meandered into the shop, browsing the racks, imagining how the gently feminine styles would look on me, keeping an eye on the price tag.
I found a navy pullover for only 19 euro made in a light viscose material, with long sleeves and a long torso, that made me feel comfy and softly sexy at the same time.
That was a definite yes.
Then something made me ask the sales assistant if I could try on the dress in the window… the reason why I had walked into the shop in the first place.
Maybe a different day I would’ve settled for the comfy sexy pullover, but the whole Retreat was about coming Alive… part of that means acknowledging and acting on my desires. And I had a desire to try on that dress.
The young man explained that the one on the mannequin was the last one in the store, he could get another one from a sister store, but would I like to try on the same dress different colour in the meantime?
Sure. Go for it.
And go for it he did.
I put the dress on and it was shapeless. Not what it looked like on the mannequin. A subtle disappointment creeped in… once again my desires don’t look good on me.
I showed my two amici, Liberty and Becki, and they agreed… something was missing.
The belt! The mannequin was wearing a belt!
‘I’ve got a belt at home’, I said.
The sales assistant, whom we soon learned was named Emanuele, perked up. ‘No, not your belt from home. I will get you a belt. Stay there.’
He brought over a blue leather belt that matched the sprinkle of blue in the dress. He lovingly tied it around my hips and flounced the material around it.
Wait, you need the necklace.
2 minutes later I had my choice of necklaces to try on. I chose the one that felt most me.
Yup, that worked.
Something inside of me was awakening… I started to feel playful. ‘What shoes would I wear with this outfit?’ I asked. ‘Heels?’ I was picturing strappy stiletto Roman-esque adornments for my feet.
‘Ah, No. I will show you. What size are you?’
‘Ok good. Here, put these stockings on your bare feet while you’re waiting.’
Next thing I know, I am standing there with Emanuele down on his knees scrunching the soft leather of a pair of handmade boots around my calves, just so, to give the outfit the exact look and feel he could see for me.
Me? I had no clue boots could scrunch. Left to my own devices I would’ve rigidly kept them knee high. I was not expecting the inviting look, and the internal surrender, that came from the boot scrunch.
Again he eyed up his creation. ‘Something is missing’. He declared. ‘Stay here.’
I stayed and looked in the mirror. Definitely not an outfit I would’ve picked out for myself, but it was working. I liked what I saw.
He returned with a blue jacket that matched my belt, hand crafted from lambskin, as soft as a baby’s bottom.
Trust me, I was not expecting to ever try on a blue leather jacket. It just wasn’t in my view of what works for me.
But to my surprise, this more than worked.
Another look in the mirror and I could barely take in what I saw. It was like I was lifted from the page of a magazine. The outfit popped, and in wearing it, I did too.
Becki and Liberty were oohing and ahing. Turn here. Look that way.
I let myself be seen. Playfully and coyishly posing for them to admire. Hand on hip, knee bent, head tilted.
Something inside of me desired to savour this. Let myself receive the attention, care, and admiration of those around me.
Forget the outfit, this experiment in receiving was a whole new look for me. My norm is to downplay and shy away from compliments, and then crack some joke so as to dumb down the beauty.
I chose differently yesterday. And it felt damn good.
I felt like a woman. Like a divine being. I tried on the ability to receive, without any strings attached; without owing anyone anything or apologizing for my radiance.
I was empowered to own this moment, and so I chose to take that moment home with me. To own it for good; without figuring out where the £350 was coming from, or what would my husband think, or do I really need or deserve this?
It didn’t matter. Because being more of me is priceless. So is owning and living the truth of who I am… a woman who can delight in herself, and let herself be delighted in by others. A woman who knows she is worthy.
And as I did that, something else changed in me. I let the walls down between me and Emanuele.
Because at first the cynic in me thought, hmmm, he’s a really good sales person. I better keep my eye on the price tag here because he’s up and cross-selling me, all for his gain ie commission. And although he’s doing a very good job, I’ve sussed him out.
But the more I let myself receive, the more the judgement melted away. I stood back and let him do his thing, because he was actually having FUN! Decorating and dressing me was not a job for him.
It was Play. His Art. I was his Creation.
I got curious about him… Tell me Emanuele, why do you do what you do?
I like to put the colours together for people. They would never think green goes with this, or blue goes with that, but then I put it together, and dey lahv it!
His finds joy in seeing others experience joy.
His True You comes alive as he helps others come Alive.
We asked if we could capture this moment on camera, and so Liberty asked him, ‘When do you feel most alive?’
And this is when it became clear our shopping spree was not really a shopping spree, but a Divine experience. A meeting with God.
‘When I pray.’
Here, in a women’s fashion boutique in Rome, was an openly gay Jewish man who admittedly talks to God (and sometimes Jesus…) and who comes most alive when he prays. (If that doesn’t mess with your view of who’s right and wrong when it comes to religions and sexuality, I don’t know what will.)
Not something I was expecting, and not something I can explain.
It brings tears to my eyes and sends me to my knees.
Because Emanuele, God with Us, was giving me more than a new outfit. He was acting out the gift from the Creator who likes to Play. Who likes to make Art. For whom I am It’s Creation.
And for whom You are too.
Dear ones, know that you are delighted in. You are loved. You are a work of art. Let yourself receive this gift.
Surrender to the work of Emanuele. You are already adorned by your creator. Regardless of your race, religion, sexuality, gender, number on the scale, bone structure, percentage body fat, health problems, emotional problems, your failures, your successes, your pains and your joys.
You are You for a reason. Let yourself come Alive.
Awaken to your own playfulness, your own creativity. Be curious about the world around you.
Let the walls of judgement, shame, fear, expectations, and perfection, fall down around you (those same walls that try to separate Christian and Jew and Muslim and gay and straight and married and single and divorced and you name it.)
Let the beauty of your True You shine through.
Please, I beg you.
The world needs your True You. It needs you, and me, to be like Emanuele; shamelessly and vulnerably letting ourselves be seen (even the parts that could easily have us hung on a tree) and sharing our gifts to the world. Lighting up others by just being our quintessential selves.
We all left changed that day. We wanted to take Emanuele home with us. And not because we’d be guaranteed a good-outfit-day 7 days a week. But because being around him touched something in each of us; awakened us to something bigger than us that we can’t explain.
And when we put down our guards enough to connect with what he had to offer, we were changed.
Truth is Emanuele is with us always. That spirit, the delight of something bigger than us that we can’t explain, is always with us. Just look around you. You will see it.
In the wind, in the waves, in a flower, in a child, in a dog sniffing and licking your face. In the laughter and the art of another soul walking this earth with you.
Emanuele, God with us, is With You.
Living ‘List-free’, as told by Liberty Bain!
While away on a girl’s trip a few weeks ago, my phone broke. After the shock of the shattering subsided, I accepted no access to my online world, and experienced one of the best weekends of my life. On the drive home my sister and two sIL’s commented on how different I’d been during our stay. As we talked we realized not having my phone played a huge part in being totally free to experience whatever the weekend brought.
And it held a ton of goodies waiting to say yes to:
This story of the week is actually the story of the Year. It started August 2015, or actually June 2015, or actually… how far back do we ever have to go to find the beginning of our story?
It’s a story of learning to Trust. Be Open to what I can’t explain. And learning what Love is. Especially when it hasn’t always felt good..
Here’s how it begins.
On June 1, I experimented with a True You Treasure Hunt and the treasure I found that day looked like this: Don’t expect to take the weather with you when you move climates.
It was June 1st and I was taking a hot bath to keep warm. I’d rather it be jumping in a pool to keep cool on June 1st, but hey ho. Not my ideal weather, but I was trying to let it go. The weather isn’t really something to get upset about now is it?
On July 5th I left my house that morning to go for a walk in the Brecon Beacons and it was wet and gray. By that evening I found myself sitting on my couch facing my husband saying the words, ‘I need space’.
Fyi telling your husband that you need space is scary.
I didn’t need space from him, but I needed space from the gray, from wanting my coaching efforts to pay off, from the never ending saga of setting up a fish farm, from wearing gloves and having the heat on in July.
But still, you never know what they’re going to say.
I am forever grateful that he understood and could lovingly and graciously look at me and say. ‘OK. Why don’t you go to home to NY for a few weeks?’ I’m not sure I would’ve done the same.
When I heard him say that, something clicked though. ‘Home? That’s not the space I need. I want to go to Italy.’
On August 4th I was on a plane to Rome for a 10 day ‘work-away’ stay in Abruzzo. I had no idea what to expect other than sun, heat, blue sky, and that I’d be doing odds and ends at an eco-tourism village in exchange for room and board.
It turns out it was an experience I still can’t explain.
By Sunday August 9th, I was sleeping in the bed of the daughter of the woman who owned the eco-tourism project that I had rocked up to. (If that sounds kinky, it’s not.) We had started talking while chopping tomatoes and sun bathing on the beach, and it turned into one of those moments when the you look at each other and think, ‘Right, I’m not in Kansas anymore. We’ve clearly walked into each other’s life for a reason other than my trimming your olive trees and you giving me a respite from Welsh summer.’ She invited me to stay overnight in her city apartment so we could talk about potential opportunities of working together in the future.
It became clear that I could help support her and her growing business from back in Wales, which would give me the opportunity to establish some roots in Italy and let my dream of living there start to take shape.
I remember giving my husband a call and filling him in on the developments and feeling:
Now, I have never been pregnant, and I have no idea what real pregnancy feels like. But that was the second time in my life my where my womb space felt like something was growing in it.
Once, the day I opened myself up to spending the rest of my life with my now- husband. Twice, that day when I opened myself up to creating a life in Italy.
A check-in here about what that impregnated feeling felt like: Like being in the eye of a storm.
Complete calm, completeness, and certainty, in a sea of a million questions, unknowns, no plans, and uncertainty.
I was sure, even though I had nothing to be sure about. I was saying ‘Yes’, without a guarantee.
And I was holding on to that pregnant feeling while the questions of, What does this mean? Are you crazy? Where’s the 10 step plan? What about this? What about that?, were vehemently swirling around me.
It just so happened that the week I was in Italy, I was reading Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love.
She planted a seed of truth in my mind and my heart that I held on to: Only Love is real.
I guess that’s what left me feeling calm in the middle of that shit storm… I was opening myself up to Love.
Now here is where it gets really interesting.
I think Love, and I think, Yay! Hugs and kisses and hearts and roses and everything turns out perfect! No stress, no worries, no angst.
Far from it.
For the next 5 months I was tested in every way possible.
I thought this decision to open myself to Love, to say yes to an opportunity that I knew in my gut, my heart, my soul, was the way forward, would be smooth sailing. It would give me financial security, it would give me my dreams on a platter.
What it gave me instead was growth.
For 5 months I wrestled with the question: do I stay or do I go now?
The growing pains of navigating a new working relationship, of not having all expectations met, of putting your foot in your mouth and having to clean it up when your dark side is seen.
For 5 months I felt like I was on a seesaw.
But I felt so sure back in August! Was that false? Did I somehow trick myself? Can I no longer trust my gut and that feeling that feels so good and is so hard to explain?
Because this doesn’t feel good anymore! My body doesn’t feel good and I’ve practicing listening to my body! If that’s the case, I should run!
Except here’s the thing: Your body is not going to feel good when you have jumped aboard the Fear boat.
Your body will always feel good when it is in the middle of Love.
It doesn’t matter if the final decision is to stay or to go. That part is irrelevant. What matters is how you feel when you make that decision.
Whatever you choose, if it’s surrounded with Love, it is the ‘right’ decision for you.
I didn’t quite get that at the time, but thankfully 5 months ago I knew enough not to jump ship because that didn’t feel good either. And what I found by staying, was learning how to Love more. How to surrender my own expectations of how story would all unfold, and actually walk with what is.
What I got to experience was a miracle on so many different levels.
To be given the gift of watching another person’s journey to Love unfold in front of me as I was on my own. To see a Jew and Christian ‘by birth’ be able to share experiences of the same God. To discuss business challenges in two very different industries and realize that the only difference is the number of zeroes stuck on the end of the number.
To experience that although we looked different on the outside, we are actually the same on the inside.
Which brought me full circle to a place of being open, being able to listen to what’s in front of me.
And so this summer, when I kept putting off my dream of having a True You Retreat in Italy until 2017 (because of fear of not having enough time or people in my life), but then had these words of encouragement said to me 4 weeks ago: ‘Why don’t you just have it this September. You’re going to be here anyway.’
I could listen to the nudge.
And once again find the calm within the storm of How? And Who? And What do I do now?
And so begins the next cycle of Listening, Trusting, Growing, and Loving. And dare I say Healing and dare I say Living?
I am currently walking through the Growing part… the process of actually walking forward into the uncertainty and the unknown after you choose to Trust. I’ve never held a retreat before. And fyi… there are lots of inner and outer world obstacles to navigate. And even now as I am writing this on August 21st 2016, even with the certainty that 5 of us will be there in September, I still have no idea how it will turn out!
But as I look back over the past 14 months, here’s what I’ve learned and keeps me moving forward.
#1: Don’t poo poo your dissatisfactions and disgruntledness. If you’re not happy, you’re not happy. There’s probably a good reason why. And instead of trying to force the smile and pretend it’s all OK (because the weather, or my problem du jour, is such a silly thing to be upset about, I have it so good), call a spade a spade. If the weather is pissing you off, let it piss you off. You never know where it will lead you.
#2: Always be open, be present to what is right in front of you. I arrived in Italy last year with an inkling of a dream to live there and have retreats there, and imagined it was years down the road. It would require us owning a villa tucked away somewhere. When events began to open up different doors that had the potential to lead me to the same place, part of me wanted to say No, this doesn’t fit my picture. What about, oh yeah, I don’t have the whole picture.
Lesson #3: It’s ok to trust the feeling of complete calm, peace, and serene knowing from deep within. It may only last a moment, (because the minute you take the first step of action all the fear and uncertainty and doubt now has a new spot on the path to try to take over), but trust the moment.
Lesson #4: Choices when you are open, and present, and inviting in Love, will feel good. It doesn’t matter whether the choice is to end something or start something, you will still have the peace and the calm to ground you even if only for a moment. That doesn’t mean that Fear, Doubt, and Distrust goes away forever. And so when you find yourself in that boat, find your way back to Love. Chances are you’ll grow as you find your way there.
Written by Liberty Bain for The True You Project:
My 10 year old started a new school this week. Last week was spent getting everything in order; buying uniforms, supplies and going to orientation. He loves his school bag from last year but wanted it to be monogrammed.
Before we headed out on our shopping expedition, he showed me a creative design he’d dreamed up for how he wanted his name sewn onto the bag. His name begins with a W and his design included a lightning bolt.
When we arrived at the monogram lady’s shop, she laid the bag out and asked how big he wanted his name and what color thread he desired. At this point he started questioning her to see if she ever did special designs, etc. That’s when Miss Pat, as we got to know her, invited him to pull up a chair in front of her design computer and look through hundreds of possible lightning bolts. From there they perused different stitches and other options for his bag.
Five minutes turned into ten and ten turned into twenty. I got super itchy on the inside, thinking this was taking too long, and I thought about trying to hurry him up.
I asked myself a question instead: What is it about this process that is triggering me?
I realized I have a tendency to rush through things that are important because I fear ‘taking too long’ will annoy people and I’ll end up feeling rejected.
Letting that old story go began right there in the shop. I chose to watch him live like he belongs and matters, to simply let him be who he was in the moment. I also got to practice getting comfortable with my discomfort.
After settling on the size and shape of the lighting bolt, he spent a full 5 minutes choosing just the right blue thread. I almost rushed him here too, but watching his process I bit my tongue (again). His presence and trust astounded me. He never flinched about asking for more blue thread options or a bigger lighting bolt, and he didn’t settle for anything that he didn’t really love. Never once did he consider he wouldn’t be able to get what he really wanted. It clearly had not crossed his radar that he needed to hurry or that this was ‘taking too long.’
Observing my son, vulnerably and wholeheartedly, enjoying his next loving step totally inspired me. He used a basic process that included asking lots of questions, taking time, and making his best choice.
So I wondered: where can I apply a ten year old’s trusting principle of continuing to ask for what I want and how I want it?? How quickly can I shuck the lie that I need to curb my desires??
First, I need time and space to dream and practice creativity; to come up with my own lightning bolt designs for life.
Then I want to trust that everything is conspiring to help me ask for what I want to become reality.
Everything might not turn out exactly how I want – but it won’t be because I held back or talked myself out of it because I didn’t want to annoy anyone or make them uncomfortable.
How about you? Where in your life do you need to ask for more!?
What are your unique designs you want to bring to the surface?
Where could you reframe ‘I can’t because…’ into creativity for how you actually could??
Where is possibility hiding in plain site in your life??
How incredible would it feel to go for it?? Whatever IT is??
If the answers to all these questions feel like way long shots, reach out to me or Kendra for a nourishing session to connect you to your True You. Email us at trueyou.inspire[at]gmail[dot]com
Perfection. That unattainable goal that dangles in front of us and slips through our fingers just as we think we have a grasp on it.
It’s kept me grovelling, on my knees, reaching out like a beggar on a street. Please! Please! Let this time fit the bill!
Perfection has been my nemesis. It will either take over my actions, trying to force a flawless outcome. Or it will stop me from taking any action, because there’s too much risk of failure in the attempt.
I’ve been aware of this for awhile and so have slowly been embracing the imperfect. I’ve started to change how I live… evident by the mess in the kitchen, the garden that needs weeding, and the business that could have more of a financial cushion.
And while I thought I had put to bed my struggle with perfection 18 months ago, something’s been niggling at me since then.
Sometimes letting go of perfection feels like settling. Shouldn’t I strive for better? Shouldn’t I be working harder to get the results I know I’m capable of?
And so this tug of war between getting it right and letting it go continues on.
A week ago I opened an email that stopped me in my tracks. One of Richard Rohr’s daily meditations. They hit my inbox roughly around 7:12 am, just in time for my 2nd alarm of the day to go off (my imperfect start to my day).
I read this:
“If there is such a thing as human perfection, it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle the imperfection that is everywhere, especially in ourselves.
A “perfect” person ends up being one who can consciously forgive and include imperfection rather than one who thinks he or she is totally above and beyond imperfection.”
I’ve been reading and re-reading and re-reading this over, letting it all sink in.
So basically, thinking that I bagged the ‘perfectionism’ mountain, actually isn’t the point. Declaring to the world, I’m not perfect and I’m OK with that, sure that’s a start… acknowledge and accept, right? But had I forgiven and included imperfection?
Not sure I can say I have been. I’ve still be trying to find the Override button.
So what exactly is the freedom RR is offering me?
Today my answer came in another email of his, this time at 7:15 on the dot:
“The only perfection available to us humans is the ability to include and forgive our imperfection. But the ego doesn’t want to believe that. The ego doesn’t want to surrender to its inherent brokenness and poverty. Yet the truth is, realizing your imperfection is the beginning of freedom and grace. There is such freedom in no longer pretending to be something we’re not.”
Here’s my word for that: Vulnerability.
It’s beyond ‘Hey world, I’m not perfect!’. It’s spelling that out a little bit more.
I have flaws. I make mistakes. I don’t get it right all the time. I need help. I have no clue what I’m doing sometimes. I’m the blind leading the blind. I’m giving it my best shot. Sometimes my best doesn’t reach the mark I was aiming for. Sometimes my best tires me out and so I need to take a nap. Sometimes my best is so far below the world’s standards that I ask why try in the first place.
My ego fights hard not to admit all that. My ego wants you to think I have my act together 100% of the time, (even though ‘I know’ I’m not perfect…) and the blips are only there because ‘It’s not my fault! I didn’t know better!’. Sometimes my ego likes to play the victim.
I find it’s hard for me to shake the perfection when I’m looking around me, comparing my best to someone else’s, assuming that I should be further along.
It’s even harder when pesky little fears sneak in… what if they find out? What if my best is never good enough? What if I am doomed to always get it wrong?
But that’s not the picture that got painted by Richard Rohr. What he pointed out to me is this:
I am doomed to get it wrong.
But that’s only a big deal when I can’t accept the fact that I will get it wrong.
Accept the fact that I will get it wrong? Now I can relax, stop fighting it, melt into the sweet grace that I am whole anyway.
That gives me permission to give it all my best shot AND be OK with my best is not always getting the ‘perfect’ result…. It’s going to get the perfectly imperfect result instead.
For some reason the only way I could understand this seeming contradiction was as I contemplated the existence of Black and White Cookies.
You know those cookies? They’re big and round with chocolate icing painted on one half and white icing painted on the other?
Perfection is like wanting a 100% black cookie or a 100% white cookie.
Perfectly Imperfect is saying, that the cookie is still a cookie with only half black and half white. Heck, it’s still a cookie with a 75/25 split. It’s still a cookie with jagged icing edges instead of smooth ones. It’s even still a cookie with a bite taken out of it.
And a damn good one at that.
We all have our flaws, our imperfections, and our egos that work really hard to cover them up AND want a guarantee of safety before taking any action outside the comfort zone of ‘I know I can land this one’.
Maybe it’s time to accept I’m a black and white cookie… you’re a black and white cookie…
Even with bites taken out …we’re still pretty awesome just as we are.
This was written by Kendra a few days ago and is a great example of mindfulness. Enjoy!
Two Sunday’s ago I was doing a 2 hour virtual yoga class in my backyard. 2 hours! I hadn’t done anything for me for 2 hours straight, in I can’t remember how long. But something told me that morning to carve out the time for me.
Here’s what happened:
For 1 hour and 45 minutes of the yoga practice all I could think about was what I wanted to be doing for the rest of the day.
The laundry, clean the kitchen, file my nails, paint my nails, pluck the dark hairs from below my navel (the one Italian gene I inherited that is a ‘no thanks’… if you’ve got them too, I’m with you), plant the rosemary sprigs, replant the tomatoes, scrape the grass off the path.
And that list was just for me. There was also the social media plan to create, the newsletter to send, the facebook shares about upcoming workshops, and finding the code for the anti-virus software for my mother-in-law’s computer (crucial!).
For 115 minutes that was where my head was at.
Be Now. Be Here. Be with Me.
I was not in the Now. Sure my body was in upward dog, downward dog, and feebly trying to morph into other animal shapes, but my head was with my growing To Do list. Most definitely not Here.
Be Now. Be Here. Be with Me.
This is what I heard, sensed, crawled out of my subconscious, showed up as a spiritual nudge… whatever you want to call it… as I sat there in double pigeon (birds are animals, right?).
My hips were screaming at me. Ugh!!!! Aaaaggghh!!
They knew they needed this pose, but why so strenuous??
Be Now. Be Here. Be with Me.
Noooooo!!! My body wants to be doing something else! My shins don’t want to be neatly stacked on top of each other parallel to the front of my mat with my right ankle on top of my left knee. My hips don’t want to be finding the sweet spot of spaciousness as I sit with the burn.
My hips want to be in their comfort zone of go-go-going. I want to be ticking off the to-do list!
Be Now. Be Here. Be with Me.
And then it clicked.
Be Now. Be Here. Be with Me.
In this pose.
In this pose that stretches you, pulls apart what you’ve been holding onto, as you create a new edge where effort and relaxation meet. Lean in, support your feet, your Self, and fall. Just Be.
Be Here. Be Now. Be with Me.
Let it go.
The go-go-go. The To-do-do-do.
What if you had time for everything and more?
Nooooo!!! An audible groan.
Aaaaagh! A stomach lurch that mirrored the tension in my hips.
It Can. Not. Be.
This could be easy. Why are you making it so hard?
Be Now. Here. With Me.
Now. I am on a yoga mat.
Here. There are birds chirping. Beetles buzzing in the tall grass.
With Me. The sun is warming my back. I am calm. I am cared for. Everything is in its place. I am in the space I wanted to be. Now. Here. With Me.
As I continued to surrender into the pose, let go of the pattern of consistent and hyper-action that conditioned my mind and my body over the past 35 years, I found the sweet spot.
That To-do list… let it take care of itself.
Be Now. Be Here. Be with Me.
Be Present. Present to the desires of your heart. The inspiration for your soul. The pleasures of your body.
That is Me. Be with Me.
Stop thinking and worrying about the schedule.
Be with Me.
What you are looking for is right here. Next to you. Sitting here.
I gave you this. ENJOY it.
You will know when to act. When to be still.
Just be with Me.
I recorded this in my journal after I morphed from Pigeon to Corpse. What wasn’t lost on me was the fact that in the next 6 hours, I ended up accomplishing more than I normally do in my typical 12 hour day.
The peace and presence I experienced in the final minutes of that 2 hour class, stayed with me and guided me throughout the day. I kept checking in. What is on my Heart? My Soul’s Desire? Right Now. Right Here. Right with Me.
The rosemary and tomatoes got planted, the path cleared, my nails done, social media inspired, kitchen cleaned. I even got to work on my tan.
There was no list. No plan. No schedule. All I did was check-in. And I never felt so relaxed in the doing.
You can read this story and interpret the Me that is begging for you to be with it, however you wish. Your Body, your Soul, your True You, your Higher Power.
My encouragement to you is to listen. Listen to the nudges. Wherever they come from.
And just for today. Be Now. Be Here. Be with Me.
This post was written by Liberty and originally published a few days ago. Enjoy!
I cried in a coaching session last week. A client shared about a situation close to her heart and as I expressed how easy I could relate, I started crying. Because of a handful of relatively recent experiences I let my tears fall and unabashedly grabbed a Kleenex before asking another question. I felt my own humanity – all of my hopes and fears were just as much out on the table in that moment as hers. I felt incredibly glad to know I could be so vulnerable without feeling embarrassed.
In the past I’ve assumed that people who help others professionally (coaches, doctors, therapists, mentors) have already figured out life’s big secrets. That they’ve somehow figured a way off the bell curve of learning and growing, and are in the promised land of only minor life issues and small (almost insignificant!) inconveniences.
Thankfully the people who I am privileged to receive care and nourishment from practice radical honesty. A doctor who opened up about her on-going struggles with chronic illness and stress. A pair of counsellors who got real about processing their on-going relationship issues. And people who’ve been in 12-step meetings for years opening up about their own continued character defects and slow progress.
Turns out what connects my heart to others is the same radical honesty I take in. I realized as the tears rolled down my cheeks, I get the privilege of being human with people. That there’s a spark in me that’s being brought into full flame by my desire to be real, vulnerable, and totally human. As I receive encouragement and support from others who are honest about not having it all figured out, I get to bring reflect that same light to those in my life and care. And it’s not because I’m a coach – it’s just because I’m another human.