Have you ever had an intense seeking inside of you that you can’t put into words? A restlessness that makes your mind grasp for answers? Even your body holds anticipation? Sometimes we know exactly what we are seeking in life . . . a new this or a change in that. However, I’m talking about a deeper query, one without a clear and focused path. It feels like more of a wave that you just have to ride.
Last month I found myself "surfing the Mavericks". It’s been an intense journey of seeking that came unexpectedly and was hard to navigate. It’s over now. I am catching my breath and seeing my ride with clarity that wasn’t there for me when just my nose was above the water.
I wonder if you might be riding the same wave. Are you seeking answers that aren’t ready to take shape?
I asked for help to calm the swell within my mind, body and spirit, calling on my beautiful circle of wisdom. You know the combination: doctors, healers, coaches, friends, family, teachers, mentors. Ultimately the greatest clarity came from the Universe delivering two blessings.
The first blessing came to me while driving to the airport. I love the belief of animal totems. They bring us messages of what we need and help us connect with our innate beings. I have always felt a connection to hawks and have many stories of hawks visiting me. While I was driving, a hawk flew up out of the field carrying a large two-foot snake in its talons. I knew this was a powerful message I needed to receive but I didn’t understand its meaning until I returned from my trip.
I had received an invitation to take the last seat on a plane and fly down to San Diego to hear and meet Ekhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer. It felt like a high end pilgrimage to hear three modern day Western disciples.
Ekhart’s words pierced through my seeking, “The need to understand your life is a mental construct. If you are looking for enlightenment like something that will arrive, you will never receive it, because it cannot be grasped. Let go and find a sense of not knowing. This is your awakening . . .”
I realized my deep seeking has actually been a shedding. Instead of grasping for something in front of me I was actually letting go of a part of myself that no longer served a purpose. And what has emerged is still taking shape. It feels wonderful.
Shedding may feel like a combination of yearning, heaviness, agitation, overwhelm, inspiration, or confusion. It may be an unexplained push towards change. It may have an undertow of a lack of trust or intuition. Shedding can penetrate your thoughts, emotions, spirit and physical condition.
Shedding is the work of change. It’s hard work work but holds a different energy. It’s an energy of letting go of a part of yourself versus trying to effort through “self develop”. If I would have recognized my seeking as shedding from the start, it would have lightened my journey.
My daughter just came home from school this week with a gift for me she made in ceramics. “I don’t really like it Mom but you can have it if you want it.” How did she know?
Are you seeking clarity using your old lens? Maybe it’s time to shed some of your beliefs or thought patterns. Maybe it’s time to shed the need for clarity. The skin I shed may not be yours. The next time you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, try letting it go.
When we feel lack of momentum, it can be unsettling. It’s easy to start judging ourselves in times of uphill. But there is also an invitation to understand our need for a constant sense of pushing forward.
Momentum is defined as “The force or speed of movement.” Our achievement oriented, fast paced society is hooked on it. Yet we can see that speed of movement doesn’t always bring momentum towards the changes we are seeking individually or collectively.
My family recently went skiing in Tahoe. My youngest daughter was stretching herself to move past the bunny slope and stay with the group, when we came upon a man made ski jumping course with one launching ramp after another. She watched her sister and others fly down it. Determined yet scared, she decided to approach the first ramp.
Slowly she started down the shoot and up the ramp only to stall out half way up and slide back down to a stop. She then had to traverse around the jump to the other side and try again. I watched her try over and over again, never making it, always sliding backwards to a stop. Her combined effort to stay in control and make it over the top brought tears of frustration and anger at the height of the ramp and her own fear that was getting in the way.
I’m a huge fan of baby steps. They are a comfortable and often strategic way to move forward in challenging times. After watching Aria I was reminded that baby steps can’t always get you up and over.
I also saw that Aria was building momentum, even though to her it felt like dismal failure. I was taken by her determination, as she approached a ramp for the eighth time. Her trial and error, mixed with the growing energy of her emotions gave her the momentum to successfully tackle the last ramp with all her might.
Momentum requires letting go and pushing forward all at the same time. The emotions that we typically feel when we are stuck: frustration, anger, agitation, regret; can be used to fuel momentum if we are aware of their energies and focused on channeling them.
Staying on life’s bunny slopes might make us feel greater “speed of movement”, but preparing for leaps, including the pauses in between, is a force in itself. You can fall down and get up over and over again. You can even slide backwards in life and still be moving forward.
How can you redefine momentum in your life right now? I'd love to know.
ps. Having no photo of my daughter in action, I went to YouTube and found tons of footage of ski jumps gone bad. The one I included above is visceral inspiration for times when baby steps are not an option.
It started with trying to drive my daughter to school with my contacts in the wrong eyes, capped with needing to open the refrigerator three times to get out the salmon for dinner (never seemed to grab the right thing!), and ended with my daughter finally finding my cell phone on the trampoline. Go figure.
It was truly a Give a Pig a Pancake
, attention deficit, perimenopausal day. I don’t imagine I’m alone.
Haven’t we all perfected the state of Scattered with increasing life responsibility, logistics overload, lack of sleep, the downpour of social media, and imploding inboxes.
Then there are our hormones. How do we distinguish the cause of Scattered among the possible symptoms of:
- “Decreased alertness” from our monthly cycle
- “Difficulty concentrating and memory lapses” during our path to menopause
- “The inability to cope with stress and fuzzy thinking” from adrenal fatigue
- “Impaired working and spacial memory” of chronic stress"Fantastic!
- “Mental fog”, an official symptom of thyroid disfunction, (my personal favorite)
There’s no escaping it!
I know you know this already but as the week continues let’s try to commit it to memory (not an easy task):
- It’s not a personal problem. It’s societal.
- It’s okay to stop. Literally stop.
- You don’t have to hide when you stop. You can actually tell your boss, your team, your family what you need. They usually see your short circuit coming way before you do.
- Feeling guilty when you stop is personal. It’s between you and your superwoman self. No one can squash that feeling but you.
- It doesn’t take much. Five minutes ~ set the timer, often.
- Know what works. Cleaning out your inbox on your “break” doesn’t. Grounding requires going inward, shutting out stimuli, finding stillness, shifting your breath. Try literally getting grounded horizontally. Conference room floors work too!
- Be the change: a cliche, but true. Model the self care that the world needs. Be courageous at work. Teach your children the life skill of self monitoring and self care by example.
Today I’m ready for more focus, more tasks, more clarity. I know another wave of Scattered will arrive in the future. I also know the more often we identify Scattered, care for Scattered, and give it the space and pace to dissipate, the faster we get back on track.
By track, I don’t mean the treadmill. I mean a conscious path of self compassion and resilience.
Where does your gaze land? . . . When it’s not on a screen . . . Do you tend to search for a horizon?
I am constantly eying up the path in front of me, feeling the need to navigate.
How funny that my eyesight is starting to wane to a blur right beyond my nose. The drugstore reading glasses are a lovely invitation to more clearly see the richness of my life within the daily transactions while paving my path.
And looking inward, well that can get a bit confusing, like a maze with no marked exit. Looking inward can quickly shift to looking back. Peering into life’s rear view mirror can feel like reversing out of your driveway, double checking left to spot the should haves and right to see the could haves.
I have recently been looking up. Straight up. This new vantage point is beautifully wide open, even on cloudy days. It’s a welcome break, a clean start. There is an intense loving energy of sunlight, the promise of space and the free movement of flight against the backdrop of stillness.
And there are sneakers ~ hundreds of them. I just started to see them, everywhere. It’s definitely a city phenomenon. Hanging from the wires that connect us all, they appear to be left behind and on pedestals for their fine tour of duty. The more sneakers my eyes spot the more I hear their messages:
“Leap!,” they say.
“Forget the horizon. Or the sidewalk down memory lane with all of its cracks. Or even your next step.”
“Try the sky.”
“Feel the freedom of movement without laces”
“Try the path you feel you can’t.”
“Know you aren’t truly held down.”
“Imagine the weight you bare is yours to let go.”
Next time you remove your shoes, let it be a reminder to lighten your step . . . lift your gaze . . . and find ease in the now.
It was my job. I would drop off our car at the mechanic’s mechanic. An unspoken place south of the city where mechanics send the cars they can’t fix. They pay in cash . . . have to speak Spanish . . . and know the job will get done.
However beforehand, I am embarking on a weekend Enneagram retreat with my sister to gain insights into myself, expand my sense of possibility and grapple with the meaning of existence on this earth.
It really did deliver. As much as one can shed new light on oneself in two days, I felt enlightened.
An aside, I love these two definitions offered for enlightened, adj.,: 1) Having or showing a rational, modern, and well-informed outlook. 2) Spiritually aware.
My sister, Jill, and I left the retreat feeling rational, modern, well-informed, and spiritually aware. We were now clear that life was full of abundance ready to show us the way if we were open and insightful enough to receive.
But first we had to cross the highway and then the tracks into what felt like a desolate Mexican town. It was a sketchy alley. An empty almost haunted dump yard, with music playing from an unknown source. Mangled, amped-up, neglected cars packed a concrete back lot. I was supposed to leave my keys.
I left Jill to fend off the heat and the ghosts of drag racing past and began my cautious search. Eventually I uncovered a back office and called out until an old man surfaced. With my husband on the phone as a translator we started spelling out the arrangement when I heard in the air . . . bells. They reminded me of the ice cream man you heard growing up or on the beach, except they were coming from, yes, wait, . . . an ice cream man.
Out of nowhere, a leathered, round face appeared, wearing a hat that wasn’t doing its job; pushing a cart and fast approaching me. I waved him off in disbelief, guarded and anxious to leave.
When I turned around I saw my sister waving frantically. I watched her dive head first into the ice cream cart. I couldn’t believe it. She was actually buying a popsicle!
I slowly came to her side, studying his pocked face in detail behind the mirrored shades. “Do you have coconut?” I asked.
He pulled out strawberry, lime and chocolate.
“Do you have coconut? I repeated.
He pulled out rice pudding, watermelon, and cherry.
“But what about coconut?” I rephrased.
He pulled out cinnamon, pineapple, and mixed berry.
I settled for pineapple. Jill paid. We said thank you. He grinned and started to push his cart along the concrete quiet into the alley.
Jill quickly backed out of our narrow spot as I held the dollar in change. We knew we wanted him to have it, so we peered down both directions of the back street, but it was empty.
He had disappeared as quickly as he had arrived.
Licking our melting wake up calls on a stick we laughed and got chills. What part of our weekend learnings needed to be driven home? The learned quick “no thank you” response when life tries to give us unexpected treats? The frantic waving for life to see us so we can partake in dessert? The abundant flavors of life that can be passed up in search of the single answer?
Stay open. Receive. Know you are supported. Try a taste, even when it's not what you ordered. And be generous with your blessings.
I took my daughter down to City Hall on Valentine's Day for One Billion Rising
. As we rode the crowded Muni I looked at her patient innocent face. She knew I wanted to dance with a bunch of other women I didn't even know. She knew she had to come with me. She knew it was about ending violence against women around the world.
I felt such gratitude that she didn't know the extent of abuse, violence, and oppression that some girls her age experience here in our own city and throughout every country on this planet.
I danced to add my own energy to the collective movement of women rising all over the globe. And when it was over, walking back to the Muni, holding hands, she said, "Good job, Mom."
I thanked her for the compliment, but then realized I needed to make sure she understood why it really was a good job. How could I explain how my dancing reduced violence?
I tried, "In life there is a lot we see that we want to change. It can feel overwhelming and futile. But when we join together in a collective voice, we are louder, we are seen, we are heard." She got it.
Dancing with hundreds of others made me want to take a stand more often to help shift the world. I want my daughters to learn how to act on their desires for change too.
On March 8 there will be one more Flash Mob
in San Francisco. If you would like to participate, I am teaching the routine next Thursday night, February 21. It's designed for everyone ~ you don't have to be a dancer. If you just want to dance on that night, please do! And if you have a daughter, bring her too!
It’s a part of life that we always know is there. Sometimes we need it more than others. Sometimes we are the one who is needed. Friendship. Women supporting, knowing, celebrating each other.
Our friends offer a space for deep honesty, to try on different dreams, test our own ability to love unconditionally and continue to practice receiving.
This weekend I found myself curled up on my couch with two wonderful friends for a spontaneous, very brief, but very real sharing. I realized that I am being held up all the time by my girlfriends’ unspoken understanding of what it means to be a woman; now, here, in all of its beauty and complexity.
And when I want to shrink, it’s my friends who are most able to help me find sure footing and continue to grow.
It is that historical, powerful, yet quiet truth of women supporting women that helps our world stay afloat in the worst of times. Now more than ever it is taking shape beyond personal friendships to a global movement of women knowing we all need to be a collective strength in order to see any shift happen for our next generation.
My wise friend Shasta Nelson, the CEO of GirlFriendCircles.com
, shares so eloquently in her blog
“Friendships let us practice being the people this world needs. We can practice:
* cheering for people even when we’re jealous.
* listening even when we think we’re right.
* empathy even when we’re tempted to judge.
* serving even when we’re busy.
* saying “I forgive you” even when we’re disappointed
I think these are beautiful reasons to practice mindful friendships. Shasta also has a new book that launches today! – Friendships Don’t Just Happen!, The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends
. I was just at her book signing last night. Check it out
It’s not often we take time to honor our friendships. I hope some time, during this month of love, you do. And remember, as my teabag told me this morning, the whole world becomes your friend when you practice compassion.
PS. Join me on V-Day
, February 14, along with hundreds at City Hall in San Francisco or at an event near you
to dance as part of One Billion Rising
, a movement to end violence against women around the globe.
It happened. My 12 year old daughter and I were standing at the bathroom mirror together getting ready for the day and I saw it for the first time.
“Eva, I think you are taller than I am!” I knew it was coming, but it still took me by surprise.
As well did her response, “Yes Mama. I’ve known for about a month, but didn’t want to tell you.”
A sweet moment of wrestling with growing up, shifting relationships and vantage points. The momentum of life.
I had to wonder what about me invited this milestone to be tucked away. Maybe my wet eyes every time we watch home videos or my promise to be able to always pick her up. Surely I have many subtle actions trying to keep her little.
Then I started thinking about my relationship with myself. I’ve done my own growing this past year and haven’t claimed it. I’ve said yes, when I naturally would have said no. I’ve taken some risks. I’ve asked for help.
When we follow the traditional exercise of forward goal setting, we miss an opportunity to look in the mirror and see the growth before our eyes.
I just came back from an amazing weekend with the poet David Whyte. He so wisely shared, “Solid ground is the meeting between what you think is you and isn’t you . . . A narrow definition of self gives us a narrow place to stand.”
How can you expand the ground of Self you stand on? Take a look at how you’ve grown. Give yourself more than a minute. Maybe light a candle, pull up a calendar to review the months of your journey, and honor your own momentum. What would you like to claim? Send me an email
! I would love to stand next to you on your solid ground, gaze at your beautiful reflection and smile, “Yes, you ARE taller.”
There is a natural gentle pause to this time of year.
It’s a holiday, vacation, calendar combination that gives you just a little more space.
I hope your pause has been loose and lazy . . . slow . . . sleepy . . . light . . . playful . . .
I hope you filled it carefully.
I hope you have the discipline to hold onto what you received.
Maybe the renewal of rest
or the energy from connecting with others.
The clarity you gained from distance,
The softness that comes when time doesn’t feel scarce,
That becomes a kinder more capable way of being.
The way we want to be always
and can be
when we have the discipline to pause.
Blessings in the New Year,
It’s happening. The holiday spin. This time of year can be a mixed bag. There are lovely traditions, more parties, more to dos, more hope for goodwill on earth, more connection with others. And often, there is less connection with ourselves.
When you feel disconnected, the intensity of life, in all of its imbalance, pressure, and pace takes over. I invite you this year to use your light-filled tree, or the trees you see smiling in the windows of others, as a constant invitation to reconnect with yourself. A favorite Mary Oliver poem came to mind as my family decorated our tree this weekend. Read it very slowly, preferably out loud. Let it be your mantra for this season. “Go easy. Be filled with light. Shine.”
Joy and Peace,
When I am Among the Trees
By Mary Oliver, Thirst
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."