Tag Archives: A Year with Myself

Many True Things and One Wish

New Year's Day SkyI know, I know–this post is supposed to be Three Truths and One Wish. But lately, it just doesn’t want to behave, doesn’t want to conform to the rules, and since my goal here is the truth, forcing it to be something it isn’t doesn’t make any sense. Today, what really wanted to be said is that in the past month, there have been practices that have helped me to get at the truth, to go deeper, to consider what has happened in the past year and contemplate what might happen in the next, and I really just wanted to share them with you, in case they might be of some benefit for you as well.

1. Truth: I am so happy that Kat of I Saw You Dancing decided to host Reverb12 this year. For starters, I now have another wonderful blog to read, one where I find myself constantly saying “yes!” and “me too!” as I read. I have entire conversations with her in my head, only a tiny part of which ever get shared with her in the comments. She is a kindred, and even though I am officially about half a month behind in posting responses to the Reverb prompts on my blog, I am so glad I took part this year, gained so much clarity from the process, and hope to again in the next.

2. Truth: Sarada’s New Year’s Eve Yoga class at Om Ananda, my favorite yoga studio was amazing. I attended this special event for the first time last year, and was so happy I did. This year’s practice was the same, the best way to say goodbye to one year and welcome the next: Sarada’s amazing teaching–her warmth and her wisdom, the light and warmth of the space (twinkle lights outside, candles on the window sills, the studio lights dimmed, the hum of the heater), my fellow practitioners, and the focus of the class (union, carrying the strength of the past into the new year, surrendering residual tension, moving forward with intention and love, opening our hearts and being present). I left feeling blessed, blissed, and so so lucky.

newyearseveyoga3. Truth: Reset. Revive. Restart. was so worth doing, and I plan to do it again next year. Sandi Amorim and Cigdem Kobu are amazing women and put together an incredible program. It’s over now (*sob*), and there’s a rumor that our private Facebook group will be shut down in another week, but I’m still in denial about it, am going to miss it so much. It was like virtual summer camp for grown up women. The good news is I can now restart A Year With Myself (another awesome program Cigdem put together), since last year I only got to about week 15 before I crapped out, (another year with myself isn’t the worst thing that could happen).

4. Truth: Signing up for the Open Heart Project, and then joining at the Practitioner level was one of the best things I did for myself this year, maybe ever. Today is the final day of a seven day retreat and it was such a good thing for me, to intentionally focus on reflecting, practicing and contemplating, to not jump ahead into next year or the next thing too soon. I absolutely adore Susan Piver, and the community that has formed around her, the practice and the project, is such a support to me, such an amazing opportunity.

shrinenewyears5. Truth: There were so many prompts and videos and posts and people and practices that helped me transition from 2012 to 2013.

  • Rachel Cole’s Wisdom Notes: Rachel has a quiet, gentle yet powerful way of leading you to the truth. This came at just the right time, and her emails were such a comfort and inspiration during the busy and sometimes stressful holiday season, the overwhelm that can happen this time of year. Her upcoming Ease Hunting promises to be the same sort of wonderful.
  • Susannah Conway’s Unravelling the Year Ahead workbook. I did this last year too, and it’s one of my favorite New Year’s rituals.
  • Picking a word for 2013. This originates (for me anyway) with Ali Edwards, Susannah Conway, and Andrea Scher. Last year I selected Retreat, and this year it’s Freedom.
  • Andrea Scher did a really great post with a series of videos this year, A New Year’s Ritual, a short practice that you might want to consider if you haven’t had time for anything else.
  • Patti Digh offered Two Questions for the New Year, another practice you might still consider if you are short on time, but big on intention.

New Year's Day Sky

One wish: Neil Gaiman offers some of the best New Year’s wishes, so I will share his from this year as my wish for all of us, kind and gentle readers.

It’s a New Year and with it comes a fresh opportunity to shape our world.

So this is my wish, a wish for me as much as it is a wish for you: in the world to come, let us be brave – let us walk into the dark without fear, and step into the unknown with smiles on our faces, even if we’re faking them.

And whatever happens to us, whatever we make, whatever we learn, let us take joy in it. We can find joy in the world if it’s joy we’re looking for, we can take joy in the act of creation.

So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.

Three Truths and One Wish

The theme of last week’s A Year With Myself (AYWM) was “In Love With Me: Getting Good at Self-Love and Self-Acceptance.” I had a rough time of it. I was in this place, deep and old and sticky, where I could see, was aware, but couldn’t seem to move. It felt like I was stuck in cement. I felt broken and hopeless. “All this work, all this time, and I am still here?”

As I have mentioned before, I realized last year that I was in a long term abusive relationship–with myself. I had lost Kelly and Obi to cancer, was reeling from a longstanding abusive work situation, and dealing with some difficult family situations. I was carrying around so much grief, carried it into the year that followed. I couldn’t seem to let go, to process everything that had happened. I was a ghost, broken down the middle. And, like Jackie Walker said in AYWM Chapter Four, “The boat was safe, and it floated. The fact that it was uncomfortable, and going in the wrong direction didn’t matter, until it did.” What I knew was that I had to save myself. So, not knowing exactly how, I started.

Since that realization, I have been trying to be a better friend to myself, to even love myself, to learn how to do these things. But, 30+ years of habitual patterns, ways of being is really hard to shift. Maybe the worst of it is I generate even more suffering by punishing myself, criticizing the fact that I am smashing myself to bits–I beat myself up for not getting there yet, then beat myself up for beating myself up. It is utterly ridiculous.

As I try, struggle, fuss, collapse, get back up, and let go, I practice patience, love, forgiveness, kindness. I am unlearning self-hate and relearning self-love. I am figuring out how to care for myself, really care and not just feed my neurosis, fuel my dis-ease. I am creeping, crawling my way towards the truth, one small step at a time, sometimes on broken hearted knees.

Brave Belly

1. Truth: Your relationship with yourself is the only one that will last your whole life. It is the only one you can trust will remain. Everything, everyone else will at some point leave, be lost, or let go. Our relationship with our self, that partnership with our one true soulmate, is the only constant. Everything else is external, apart in a way that makes it transient and impermanent. All the other people, places, things, (even our own body), will eventually leave us, fail us, even if they don’t want to, even if they desire and try to stay. But You, you can count on her. She will never leave you, and if you would only let her, she will always love you.

:: Something to read:It’s You” from Tiny Buddha.

2. Truth: No one can ever give you all that you can give yourself. As Daniel Collinsworth explained to me, “be the source of what you need, let it come from that central still point. When you feel that restless searching bubbling up, stay with it — let it show you where that healing and restoration is needed.  The rest is a journey that unfolds in time, not always easy, but so worth it.” Remain kind, gentle, patient, mindful, and aware. Relax and trust your own intuition, your own voice, your understanding of what you need and who you are. That self, You, can be trusted. She is faithful and committed, and if you would only let her, she will always love you.

:: Something to read:The Great Lesson of Loneliness” by Daniel Collinsworth on Metta Drum.

3. Truth: The best you have to offer, the best you can be is exactly who you already are. You have nothing better to give. Who you become for others or who you trick yourself into believing you are can only ever be a deluded, weakened, watered down version of your true nature, your essence, your power.

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.”
― Pema ChödrönStart Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

One wish: Easily and naturally arising self-love and self-care in our lives. “If we are doing our true work and living authentically, it will be with ease, naturalness,” (Gwyn-Michael on Scoutie Girl, “Returning to Self and Life’s Simple Pleasures“). My wish is that we unlearn all the bad habits, the ways of being that no longer serve us, and we learn to love our self, be our self wholeheartedly and completely, always.  And that we remember if you would only let her, she will always love you.

Wishcasting Wednesday

If you listen closely, what wish do you hear?

image from Jamie's post

The wish I hear is that I would own my story, my truth, hold it and believe it and protect it, not allowing anyone to convince me to deny it ever again.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. ~Brene’ Brown

Three things converged to inform this post: Jamie’s Wishcasting prompt, week three of A Year With Myself (“Self-Portraiture: Rewriting Your Beautiful Story“), and a Sacred Mountain Reading gifted to me by Daniel Collinsworth, (author of one of my favorite blogs, Metta Drum).

This week in A Year With Myself, the focus is your core story. C.A. (project instigator, “the creative alchemist and project midwife“), describes it this way: “one’s personal narrative that is based on the unfiltered ideas she collects and internalizes about herself and the world around her. Some of these ideas are positive and empowering, but some of them…turn into invisible obstacles.”

Your core story includes your core values and core beliefs, the narrative that tells you what to do, what you’ve done, why you do it, who you are, “your personal fable. Your personal mythology.” Working my way through the reading, I was thinking about my core story. I started writing, and this is what came out:

It makes me sad to think about my core story. There is a lot there that is still that old self-hate: you aren’t good enough, you have to be perfect to earn love, you have to perform and change in order to be loved, who you truly are is unloveable, flawed, broken, wrong, you aren’t really an artist, you are just self-centered and self-absorbed and confused. You are too boring, don’t have enough talent to make art anyone will care about. You are fat, too old, not pretty enough, not strong enough. Your intuition, your knowing is wrong, a lie. You can’t be trusted.

What I realized, trying to write it, is that my core story is fundamentally all the things I KNOW are true being denied by people I trust, people I want to accept and love me, and when they deny my truth, they deny me, so to stave off that rejection, I agree with their denial and thus deny myself. It’s not “their” fault. I don’t mean that. I am the one who gave up, gave in and accepted their story as my own. What I wrote, what I collected and saved and carried around, probably wasn’t even their version, but rather one I’d cobbled together from various hints and clues, snippets of conversation and remembered pain, and in the end, an utter misreading, misinterpretation of reality, but sticky and heavy and solid.

DENIED. My truth denied. My self denied. My light, my gift, my joy, my medicine–all denied. Rejected. Refused. Refuted. Disallowed. Disbelieved. Forsaken. Doubted. Negated. Opposed. Discarded. Restrained. Discouraged. Hindered. Limited. Frustrated. It started outside myself, was an external issue, but I internalized it and became my own abuser, dug my own hole, spun my own cocoon, built my own prison–and called it my story, called it “me.” In that way, I am a liar.

Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. ~Shel Silverstein

Here’s the truth: I have a generous spirit, a big and wide open heart. I am wise and intuitive. I can see the motivation, the truth that is hidden underneath, the place where we are stuck and the way out. I remember my truth, my experience, and the stories I tell about it are accurate. My power, my medicine is my ability to be honest, to share, to touch and transform. It’s simple. Gentleness is my superpower. I am a source of ease and comfort. I am funny in a way that invites joy and release. I am kind. I am brave. I believe in magic and love. I am an oracle, a warrior. I am curious and creative, interested and interesting. I am capable of being fully in and open to reality, just as it is. I use the words just and so too much, have to look up the difference between lay and lie, and still don’t use them correctly. I love too much, but it makes me a really good teacher and friend, as long as I take care not to lose myself in it. I love my dogs, all dogs, beyond reason. I am utterly monogamous, which is lucky because I married the right one. I am too hard on myself, but I’m working on it. I find comfort in food, take that practice beyond healthy limits, but I’m working on that too. I am a seeker. I am a compassionate visionary, a knower of the way love goes. I am a wholeheARTed and embodied practitioner of yoga, meditation, writing, and dog. I am a thousand shades of gray. THIS is what feeds me, what I am called to do, called to be. This is my core story.

There comes a time in every life when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your heart. ~Sarah Dessen

Daniel Collinsworth‘s Sacred Mountain reading reinforced much of this for me. There are five cards, each representing a lesson. Sacred Mountain is “a place of balance that exists within the Sacred Space of each individual.  To reach this place of wisdom and enlightenment balanced with faith, trust, innocence, and courage, you must climb the mountains and hills of your own limitations and conquer the fears that keep you from flowing.”

My first card (the lesson needed to remove any present limitation) is Self-Expression, and counsels “Don’t deny how you feel, what you think, or what you can offer the world.” As I made clear earlier, I have always been too ready to do this, if I thought it would get me the acceptance and love I longed for. I do it still, even as I move towards not doing it.

My second card (the lesson to restore your trust, where you need to heal the hurt of being betrayed after you trusted) is Self-Sacrifice, “what needs to be sacrificed so that they sacredness of our lives may be restored.” This self-sacrifice card counsels “if some bad habit has limited our capability, that habit needs to be conquered…overindulgence can thwart the abundant life we seek.” Gulp. This one is pretty obviously about my food issues. Part of the difficulty is even though I see the danger this behavior poses to my health, the destructive outcome, the negative aftermath, the despair and desperation it causes, I don’t want to give up the comfort it provides.

My third card (the lesson needed to find your personal truth, a limitation you have put on yourself regarding your ability to know what is right for you) is Truth as Protection. This is about finding personal truth, owning my core story–“It does not matter what others think of you.  You know the truth.  When you honor that truth, you cannot be hurt by the lies of others” and “Drop those who would no longer honor your path or truth.” In the past, I’ve thought I could find safety in denying my truth, in hiding. If I didn’t allow people in, didn’t let them really see me, they couldn’t hurt or reject me. It turns out, the opposite is true.

My fourth card (the lesson that will assist you in acknowledging your personal talents or gifts) is Viewpoints/Options. Listen to the wisdom imparted by those you trust, those who know, and consider other options or ways of doing and being. Don’t stay stuck in your same old approach.

My fifth and final card (the lesson needed to find personal freedom) is Release. Relief through release, freedom, ease, letting go, trusting, relaxing, sharing, dropping the fear. Let go of needing to be liked or accepted, to be seen as good or even perfect. “Don’t get stuck holding on to anything that no longer serves you.”

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could. ~Louise Erdrich

Do you see, kind and gentle reader, how all three of these conspired to remind me of my calling, my medicine, my true story, my true self, my truth?

The wish I hear, if I listen closely, is that I would own my story, my truth, hold it and believe it and protect it, not allowing anyone to convince me to deny it ever again.

Something Good

This is my first day back in my Eddy Hall office at Colorado State University, so I need this list as much as you.

Well-Fed Woman Mini Retreatshop.

Rachel W. Cole is on tour, and you don’t want to miss this! I have instigated an event in Fort Collins on February 19th, and you should register for it if you are in Colorado.  Otherwise, check out her website for other dates and locations.

Testimonial from Retreatshop run-through attendee: “There is something really empowering about witnessing someone unravel their truth and their story to how they got to that truth. You can feel it reverberating in your body at its core – and the shifting begins to happen. The shift towards being present with yourself and your truest desires. It’s this re-learning process of being true to ourselves, being loving and kind to ourselves, and reconnecting with our intuitive selves that crochets into self-magic. I thank Rachel Cole who masterfully created a safe forum for other powerful women who had come to explore a greater understanding of their true hungers and left feeling a deeper trust for their true intuitions.”~Sanaz Ebriani

Positively Present 365 Photo Project

This looks really fun, and I’m sad that I don’t have time to do it. “The purpose of the Positively Present 365 Photo Project is to help you live a more present life by paying attention to your surroundings and capturing them with a camera.” There’s also the opportunity to share your photos.

image from positively present

A Year With Myself

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth saying again: you should do this!

Go on thematic weekly quests of self-love and self-discovery. Be best friends with yourself. Hone your strengths and reshape your true mission. And gently empower yourself and your work by taking one tiny transformative step at a time. Give yourself the power to steer your life in the direction you want it to go. Follow your aspirations. Be stronger and more confident. Every Monday throughout 2012, a fresh weekly quest theme, a stimulating writing prompt and one actionable idea will be published on the blog. And we’ll have more than 70 amazing guest Instigators who will contribute to the weekly prompts, generously sharing their wisdom and experience with us!

25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing

This list, from the Terrible Minds blog, was inspired by this post “30 Things To Stop Doing To Yourself.” Author Chuck Wendig says “I read this cool article last week…and I thought, hey, heeeey, that’s interesting. Writers might could use their own version of that. So, I started to cobble one together. And, of course, as most of these writing-related posts become, it ended up that for the most part I’m sitting here in the blog yelling at myself first and foremost. That is, then, how you should read this: me, yelling at me. If you take away something from it, though? Then go forth and kick your writing year in the teeth.” It’s a really great list.

Writing Prompt from Gwen Bell

I actually heard about this prompt from Patti Digh during her website launch party. She described it this way “If you had 15 minutes left to live, set a timer for 15 minutes and tell the story that must be told.”

SF Girl by Bay “Hot Tin Roof” Post

As much as I love tiny cabins, cottages, treehouses, and restored campers, I love churches converted into living spaces. This one that SFGirl shared on her blog is absolutely dreamy.

12 stupidly easy resolutions for 2012

Written by Mark Morford, this article is a must read. Need more convincing? Here’s one of the twelve:

6) Drink the awe: It’s a brutally fast-paced, Facebooked, hypertext-drunk world, my loves, and it’s just ridiculously easy to take it all for granted, to sit there and type your message into your glorious little device and attach a video and send it halfway round the world as you sip your coffee that came from 8,000 miles away and think nothing of it all, when in fact there are roughly 1,008 astonishing miracles banging around your life right this second if you just were able to realize their wobbly gifts. What a thing.

Creativity Requires Time


“Be Brave” Commercial

Love it, *sniff*

a little bird told me: Daily Truths from the Brave Girls Club

These are so encouraging, every day you get a sweet love note in your inbox. This one from January 4th was just what I needed:

Dear Fantastic Girl,

So often there are beautiful, comforting and helpful things right in front of us…waiting for us to notice and take hold…yet for all sorts of reasons, we keep looking past those things.

Often we feel like we have to do more to “earn” help or comfort or blessings. Often we want to struggle through to prove that we can do it on our own and we run ourselves into the ground before we ask for help. Often we are so busy with our heads down, plowing through and suffering…that we simply fail to notice things that would ease our pain that are right in front of us, and often have been there all along.

Take some time, sweet friend, to look around and see what is there to make things better. Notice good books, helpful people, generous offers and random acts of grace. When something shows up, open yourself up to it…simply saying thank-you is enough…you don’t have to earn it, you don’t have to do anything to “deserve” it.

You are worthy of comfort, blessings and help.

You are so very very very loved.


Daily Peace Quote

Another gem I get in my inbox on a regular basis. My intention for yoga class today, “I am already free,” and my resolve to tend to my body during this year of retreat was reinforced by today’s quote from Cheri Huber:

The body knows how to heal itself, but it needs support and cooperation. If we keep taking energy from the body and giving it to egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate, the body will weaken and egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate will get stronger. If we give attention, awareness, energy, life force to what life is offering us in each moment—pure, undivided focus on what is, here/now—our experience will be freedom.

I Was a Dancer All Along

Britt Bravo shared this video on her blog, saying “Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved to dance, which is why I keep watching this video that my friend, Gabriela, posted on her Facebook page last month: ‘Two year old doing what she loves. Dancing.’ ” I had to pass it along, because it is one of the cutest things ever, and absolutely inspiring–you want to be this kind of joyful.

Wishcasting Wednesday

Today is Wishcasting Wednesday, hosted by Jamie Ridler, and the question for today is:

“What or whom do you wish to make peace with?”

picture from Jamie's post


It’s that simple.

I wish to make peace with myself.

I wish to stop smashing myself to bits. I wish to let go of who I think I am supposed to be and embrace who I am, love who I am.

This Wishcasting prompt was a happy accident. I thought I was going to have to write a whole other post related to the first two prompts of “A Year With Myself.” This program is a perfect fit for my year of retreat.

More about about A Year With Myself: “C. A. Kobu is the creative alchemist and project midwife” and she explains “Ditch those lame old New Year resolutions! They don’t work! Instead, go on a yearlong adventure along with other courageous women. This will be your best year ever! Go on thematic weekly quests of self-love and self-discovery. Be best friends with yourself. Hone your strengths and reshape your true mission. And gently empower yourself and your work by taking one tiny transformative step at a time.

See what I mean? A perfect fit for someone in the midst of a life-rehab and year of retreat.

My responses to the first two prompts are a further explanation of my wish: to make peace with myself.

Prompt #1: Liminal Spaces by Patti Digh

Q: What spaces are you standing between? Now, and then? Here, and there? Whole, and broken? A: I am standing between who I tried to be, who I thought I was, who other people wanted needed expected me to be–and who I really am.

Q: Now imagine those spaces as trapeze bars: what would it take to throw your heart over the bars and let your body follow, as one veteran trapeze performer has advised? A: I have thrown my heart over the bars, but as usual, my heart is way ahead, brave and ready, but too fast for my body, impulsive when my body needs more time, more practice. So, I’ll wait for my body. I’ll leap over and over, try again and again, until it learns what that feels like and what it needs to do, how to move, how far and how fast, when to hold on and when to let go. I’ll do all this knowing there’s a safety net below, and there is time.

Q: So what monkey bar are you moving from, and what monkey bar are you moving to, in 2012? A: Moving from careful, obedient, quiet, measured, victim, lazy, anxious, depressed, numb, confused, angry, hopeless, abused, desperate Jill, to kind, brave, silly, creative, curious, present, strong, open-hearted, balanced, wise Jill.

Q: What does the space in-between feel like, sound like, taste like? A: It feels like water, sacred space, love. It sounds like quiet, heartbeat, breath, waves. It tastes like fresh strawberries, freshly baked bread, grapefruit juice, mint.

Prompt #2: Why Not Begin Where You Are by Jen Louden

Q: What gifts do the parts of me I don’t like have to offer me? A: Acceptance, the opportunity to learn what I don’t yet know or understand, practice letting go.

Q: What gifts could the parts of me that I’m afraid of have to offer me? A: The chance to be brave, to stay with the shaky and raw energy, to wake up to things as they are.

Q: How could these aspects of me help me create more of what I desire? A: The more I practice not grasping or getting attached, and not rejecting or numbing out, the more present I am. The more I can stay with what is, the more alive I am. The more I can be with what is, the more myself and true I am, the more reality I can manifest.

For those of you, wishing like I am to make peace with yourself, take a look at A Year With Myself. I think it’s going to be just as amazing as we already are, full of opportunity and wisdom and love.

And for you, kind and gentle reader: may you also find peace, in whatever way would please and benefit you, and may you do so quickly and without obstacle.