Tag Archives: Offering

What I’m Learning Now

Love is, above all else, the gift of oneself. ~Jean Anouih

On Thursday, I worked a lot with letting the day unfold naturally, without force or agenda. I was fatigued, worn out, and took a sick day to rest. The plague (several versions) has been circling around campus and there’s a good chance my body is doing everything it can to fight it off. I stayed in my pajamas all day, fed myself well, drank lots of grapefruit juice, watched some inspirational videos while resting on the couch, taking notes and at one point having a long nap.

The Universe is bombarding me with messages about self-love, self-care, self-acceptance. The classes I’m taking, friendships I have, things I read and see and hear make clear what I can give, what is needed. The theme is that there is only one me, I have unique gifts, a specific perspective and calling, and that I must be true to that, honor it, because that’s what I have to offer the world. And most importantly, it is not selfish to be who I am, to love what I love. In fact, it is the deepest kind of compassion, the most profound expression of wisdom.

To succeed at being somebody that you are not (but think you need to be) is still a failure. But to love who you are and courageously be that fully is a life well lived. ~Kute Blackson

I contemplated this blog post that I’m writing now all day Thursday, but made the choice to rest instead. In fact, this past week, I only posted three times, when I typically post every day, sometimes twice. Normally that would make me feel bad, less than worthy and anxious because my stats were down. For years, I’ve been singing as loud as I can, dancing as fast as I can, performing elaborate routines, begging to be noticed, to be loved and accepted, cared for and safe. I can’t do it anymore, won’t–“a life lived in order to please others ends up pleasing no one at all,” (Elizabeth Lessor).

Pleasing another person is often about avoiding the conflict that might ensue if we tell the truth about our feelings, needs, fears, and dreams. ~Elizabeth Lessor

I know I have something of value to offer, but I can’t do it from a place of exhaustion and overwhelm. When thinking about how I might do this, my heart’s work, while maintaining full-time paid work and all the other things I’m responsible for, it is clear to me that the same approach that had been so unworkable, such a failure in my old job–overwork, overwhelm, anxiety, perfection, hustling for worthiness, people pleasing but self-hating–was being carried over into this. The same method of forcing and pushing and denial.

I want to continue loving what I love, so I need to soften my approach. I need to meet this work with gentleness, kindness, and be open to joy. I need to maintain my focus on how I want to feel, the experience I want to cultivate, the process rather than a product. I need to balance my effort with ease.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. ~Howard Thurman

I also must forgive myself for all that came before. All the years of trying to be good, hoping to be perfect, imagining that if I did what others wanted and expected that I would be loved, safe, accepted. The self-denial, self-loathing, self-abandonment, self-abuse, the pushing, forcing, smashing myself to bits, and broken promises. The cycle of starving and stuffing, never satisfied. I have to also forgive myself for my confusion, my disappointment, my despair, my rage, and every action that came from that dark place. I was only trying to be who I thought I was supposed to be.

Your problem is how you are going to spend this one odd and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over people and circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are. -Anne Lamott

I’m choosing that second option, dreaming bigger, cultivating courage and rest and joy, keeping my heart open, showing up and staying with whatever might arise, and doing it all imperfectly. My wish is to leave you, this space, this planet in better condition than I found it, and to ease suffering, in myself and the world.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
~Mary Oliver

Wishcasting Wednesday

image from Jamie’s post

If anything was possible, what would you wish for?

When I first thought about my answer to this question, maybe I thought too small, but then I looked back at Jamie’s post, at this picture, and rethought it from the perspective of “if pigs could fly,” which is an altogether different view.

If anything was possible my dogs would live forever, and I could bring Obi back.

If anything was possible no one would ever again lose someone they love to cancer. In fact, cancer would no longer exist, other than something to kick in the butt when you needed to get out some bad energy, wanted to break something or felt stabby.

If anything was possible those who were confused, sick, angry, sad, lost, and addicted would be whole, sane, healthy. They would remember that they are innately wise, kind, and strong, they would embody and manifest basic goodness. They would practice creation rather than destruction, rediscover that things are workable, realize joy through gratitude, and discover healthy practices to help maintain their sanity. They would heal themselves and then turn towards serving others. With open, brave hearts, they would change the world.

If anything was possible no child would ever again go to bed hungry or sick or scared. They would all be safe and well and know that they are loved. And in this way, they would grow up and make sure the same thing was true for the children who came after them.

If anything was possible there would be world peace, health and happiness for every being, no war or famine or sickness, clean water, a healthy environment.

If anything was possible for me, I would experience whole health for the rest of my long, happy life. Self-love and self-care would be my middle path, my regular practice and primary way of being. With an open, brave heart, I would first save myself and then help change the world.

If anything was possible for me, I would live the life of a writer and artist and yoga & meditation practitioner full time, with no need for paid work that wasn’t both enjoyable and easy.

If anything was possible for me, I would publish with ease, books and essays, and facilitate retreats, helping others recover and reconnect with their basic sanity and innate creativity.

If anything was possible for me, I would be able to happily and kindly follow every interest, take care of every need. I would live an entirely wholehearted life, with complete confidence and love, embodying and manifesting wisdom and kindness.

If anything was possible for me, I would be remembered for my kindness and generosity and wisdom, for being gentle and relaxed and joyful, inspiring others to be brave and do good by being brave and doing good, my whole life an offering.

*sigh*

I want to go to there…

Resolve: Mid-Year Review

On this, the first day of the second half of this year of Retreat, I have been reflecting on what I’ve experienced so far, and contemplating what’s to come. My word for the year was Retreat, with the clarifying words being rest, practice, balance, and transformation. Retreat, a time to remove myself from the usual expectations and obligations, to study and practice.

My life, my experience, my path in the last six months has been 1000 shades of love, 1000 shades of weird, 1000 shades of magic. Sometimes, I feel like a starfish caught on the beach, moving as fast as I can but my progress barely perceptible to others, or like a butterfly just out of the chrysalis, slightly confused about my new state of being, sitting on a branch waiting for my wings to dry. I am utterly transformed, but exactly the same. I am as I always was, but suddenly awake, and in that way so completely different.

image by peter harrison

Through all the classes, blogging and regular features, writing and meditation retreats, workshops, books, challenges, practices, the genuine and constant effort of the past six months, I feel a little like I’ve been in graduate school, earning a Master’s of Arts in Wholehearted Living, a Master’s of Science in Applied Practice, a Master’s of Fine Arts in Loving. My teachers and guides have been Susan Piver, Andrea Scher, Susannah Conway, Brene’ Brown, Laurie Wagner, Jen Lemen, Jennifer Louden, Rachel Cole, Patti Digh, Geneen Roth, Anne Lamott, Julia Cameron, Jamie Ridler, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Pema Chodron, my dogs, and so many others, along with an amazing group of fellow students on the same path–many of whom I’ll be meeting and connecting with at the World Domination Summit later this week.

room with a view

I still struggle with perfectionism, with lack of self-care and self-love, with being gentle with myself and present with my experience, and yet so much has changed. I don’t suffer from the crushing depression I did for so long. I’m not riddled with anxiety and stress. My path is no longer muddled by confusion or lack of clarity. Surprisingly, much of the transformation has been remembering who I am rather than becoming something else, about getting clear about the purpose and superpowers born into the world with me, a repeated mantra of “This is me. I am enough and I have enough. This is who I am, wise and compassionate and powerful.”

I still struggle to rest. I know intellectually how important it is, that I can’t give what I hope to from a place of overwhelm or exhaustion, that self-care is really just another way of ensuring the quality of my offering–but I long to know this in my gut, in my blood and bones, deep in my heart, to embody it fully. To practice it in the same way I do so many other things that are essential, that I do regularly without having to apply any special effort, like making 1/2 a cup of coffee in the morning, feeding and walking my dogs, or writing morning pages, these things that happen each and every day, no question and no matter what.

dexter and sam know how to play

Since rest is still an issue for me, balance has not been achieved–I find it for brief moments, but it’s not yet sustainable. I still work too much, which means I don’t eat or sleep or exercise or play like I should. Practice, which is deeper and richer (yoga, meditation, writing, reading, dog, walking/hiking, and love) is helping me to contemplate, consider, creep my way towards a middle path, a middle way. I have confidence, curiosity, and more clarity than ever, so there’s no despair or smashing myself to bits about it, (most of the time, anyway).

I’ve experienced so many things I wished for, longed for, imagined and dreamed about–my sense of what is possible has been expanded and reinforced to such a degree that I can start to relax a bit, sink into being, into the present moment, into “this minute of eternity.”

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ~Rumi

Full Strawberry Moon Dreamboard

From Jamie’s post: “The Full Strawberry Moon, the Full Honey Moon, the Full Rose Moon, what evocative names for this luscious, sensual moon. As we began to gather our supplies and images beneath the new moon, I invite you to consider the question, ‘What would I love to delight in this month?’  Let this moon set you free to dream with wild abandon, to bust through any barriers that have been in your way. Fill your dreamboard with whatever stirs your spirit and catches your soul – without censorship. Let yourself experience the luscious abundance of this moon and fill your dreamboard to overflowing. Let the pictures drip off the sides of the page.  Run wild with your dreams under this full Strawberry moon.”

What would I love to delight in this month?

freeing the mind
freeing the body
sweet dreams
fresh living

breathe
tucked in
easy, enjoy
drift off

something beautiful is happening
summer in motion
make every day a celebration
be gentle

journeys and destinations
get up
go
run
breathe
work it out
stretch it out
get out there

it’s life
a crazy happy life

The image of a person diving in to the water, diving in, jumping in and being submerged, immersed in life. At some point, there’s no more preparation or planning to do, you simply have to jump, (or walk away, stay stuck and numb).

Peonies, for some reason I’m obsessed with them right now, they are so full, lush and tender.

Water color paints, a flower wheel of blue. I am painting a bit, trying to stretch my creative boundaries, move beyond my comfort zone, and the blue is for the ocean, the beach, where we’ll spend a month this summer. That’s also why the book case, nightstand, all in white and blue, because there will be much reading and rest.

A woman napping in a boat, movement and rest. These are two things I crave, hunger for, would love to delight in, caring for my body, being in my body, moving and resting my body.

Typewriter and hands making an offering. These are both the same, the writing and the offering, my tender open heart, sharing it in the hopes of easing suffering.

And a strawberry–strawberry moon.