Being real on the holidays

Sometimes the holidays make you miss the people who are gone. Maybe they died … maybe they left. If you are feeling sad or lonely today, you are not alone. More importantly, you know you have a heart … and it’s all going to be okay.

Wish I Had a River.FB

My holiday wish for people all over the world

may joy be your greatest gift.FB

A holiday wish for you …

may you feel the love

How I Learn to Let Go and Love the Holidays

151812328This holiday season I’m being prompted to do more with less. I find I have no interest in spending a lot of money on gifts, nor have I bought into the ‘crazy busy’ intensity of Christmases past.

It’s been this way ever since my daughter Teal died in 2012. The only thing that really matters to me is extracting the peace of the season, the golden threads that are in the everyday.

And they are there, shining more brightly than usual.

I walk through Whole Foods and revel in the sheer display of chocolates –Dark Chocolate bars with coconut and mint! Ginger bread this and eggnog that. Dungeness Crabs stacked up like gold bars, ready to take home and eat right now.

I walk out of the store with nothing but my senses refreshed. I don’t have to own these things, or even give them. I can just observe. Somehow that is enough.

It’s as if my heart has been stripped so clean by the flow of life that there is no longer any resistance to what is. So I become sensitive to the beauty inherent in everything.

I no longer need to give gifts out of duty, or impress anyone with what I’ve chosen. Nor do I need to labor over homemade presents that cost so much and take so long that I end up hating them.

I’ve been letting myself just feel my way along this holiday season, without having any particular plan. So there is no Christmas tree. No annual Christmas letter. No weeklong deep immersion in cookie baking. None of those things seemed right.

Instead, I walk in the park and enjoy the sun coming through the trees and the mud underfoot. It puts me in a generous mood, a life-loving mood. Suddenly I’m inspired to make really good granola for my yoga teacher, Kashi. Why? Because I want to!

Will she be giving me a gift? I highly doubt it and who cares? She has made an enormous difference in my life this year. Then I think of a book that I simply have to give my son – he will love it! Which takes me online to order it. Which is when I bump into a rap poetry video that inspires buying the CD for my sister in law.

I can’t even connect these dots, except to say that flow is present.

On my daughter’s birthday I walk the streets of San Francisco where she lived and died. I stop for ice cream because it’s a special day. Sitting in the sun eating a scoop of roasted banana-fudge, I get inspired to buy my ex-husband a jar of really good fudge sauce. He loves hot fudge. We created two amazing children together … so why not?

Then there are the moments when I choose not to buy a gift. Like the Mexican tin Christmas ornaments I almost bought this morning. I took a moment to check in and realized that old unconsciousness had crept in. I was in auto-grab, needing to compensate for something lacking – I couldn’t even say what.

I put down the ornaments, walk out into the sunlight and smile. I feel utterly free this holiday season … free to be me, loving life just as it is.

That’s when I realize this is all new. For so many years I kept it together, forcing my life into a tightly coil of perfection, especially at the holidays. But all that is gone now.

In a flash I understand: this is the same free-spirited joy Teal lived every day of her life. “Just be, Mom!” she used to jubilate. I never had any idea what she meant, but now … I know.

So I give myself the best gift of all this holiday season as tears of joy run down my cheeks.

Happy Holidays.

 

 

How I am Learning to Become Independent

o-WOMAN-ALONE-FIREWORKS-facebookI wrote this in late 2012, about four months after my daughter’s death:

I have come to a startling conclusion lately: I am living my absolute perfect life, right here and right now.

Unlikely, right? After all, I am alone out here now in California. And my old paradigm of what I needed to be truly happy is toast.

One child is gone, the other across the world. Former husband is now a cordial friend, that’s all. Mom is dying. Former ‘love of my life’ romance expired and is no longer relevant. Even my beloved brother and sister-in-law are 3000 miles away, and my dear sisters just as far.

So I am unhooked from all that held me fast all these years — particularly the belief that I need another person to save me.

Oh how this kept me small all these years. I applied this notion willy-nilly across the board, in love, business, and even in my health.

How I needed this husband or that lover to provide me with a great fallback position, whether it be financial security or emotional sustenance. Somehow in my mind, they always knew better than me.

I could rely on my former husband to be the expert, and yank me back when I slid off course, spiraling down into my own emotional sludge. And for a while that expert became my former partner, who enjoyed teaching me how to dress and how to process my massive, ever-swirling emotions.

Most importantly, I wasn’t alone – God forbid! Even in my grief over the end of my last love relationship, I found myself in the arms of yet another women far too soon – this one kind and devoted, wanting only to please me.

 I couldn’t go there as it turned out … not even close. Because the minute Teal died something snapped. I knew that I had to come to terms with my weakness. That for some reason it wouldn’t be enough just to grieve her loss.

Her death wouldn’t mean a damn thing if I didn’t reshape who I have been as I have trundled through this life. Or as she told me from the afterlife, “It’s time to get your mojo on, Mom.”

There was to be no escaping into the endorphins of new love to avoid my pain. And no sucking my thumb in the background while a business partner tells me how to build my next body of work.

Turns out I knew and I know — and will always know — exactly how to do all of this.

In this naked, stripped clean place I am facing my fear head on now. Not only am I facing it, I find myself reveling in it. I lie in my very comfortable bed in a big patch of sunlight and let wave after wave of emotion pour through me, no longer resisting. 

It is as if I am an old earthenware jar lying in a creek bed, the bottom knocked out so the cool water of my emotion pours through me now. No longer does it collect and become stagnant. Instead it runs clearer and clearer, faster and faster. And as it does, I become stronger.

Ah, so much has changed as I have come full circle.

By avoiding being in relationship for two full years, I learned a powerful lesson. First, that I do indeed have mojo all by myself. It could only come to light by retreating into myself.

Alone I found I could hear myself think. My old tendency to be a people pleaser got put to the side, and for once I focused on pleasing myself. Gone was the need to distract myself with other people’s pain. Instead I spent time healing my own pain. And in the process, I discovered who I am.

I found my way back to ‘Little Susie’, a tender, funny, fun-loving and yet wise little person from my past. A long time ago she got shelved, so we had to make friends again.

Then, secondly, I found a whole heap of new desires to act on. Once the waters of my grief departed, I found myself hiking again and loving my deep connection to Nature. I rediscovered my love for cooking, and took that passion to the homeless by cooking in a soup kitchen. There I found an interest in helping the homeless that I never realized before.

I learned a lot about my values. A new commitment to sustainability and very simple living came up as I shed more and more stuff, including a home. I renewed my own personal vow of integrity as I walked away from my former world of Internet marketing.

I lost interest in trying to be a guru, or an ‘anything’, and decided to just be for a while instead.

The Universe did her part, providing me with everything I needed each step of the way. Money arrived right on time, removing the need to make offers and sell things I didn’t believe in. Friends showed up, including my dear pal Linda, who invited me to come live with her in exchange for cooking – an easy and delightful fit.

Not surprisingly, just when I was ready for it, love landed on my doorstep as well. And now, because I have my ‘mojo’ on, it’s a serene, unrushed experience. She has her world and I have mine, and the two of us co-mingle like happy planets in perfect sync.

What I have learned was the oldest lesson in the world: Once I finally learned to take care of myself, the world showed up as whole and complete. I want for nothing and am, indeed, still living the perfect life.

These days my idea of bliss is marked by less, not more. And so I go, one foot in front of the other, married to myself first and foremost … and so far more open to receiving bliss.

 

 

 

 

Advice for the Heartbroken

On the path of love.FB

A thought as you begin your holiday shopping …

Give a little bit of yourself.FB

What Odysseus Taught Me About Going With the Flow

1-wave-hokusaiWe can learn from the Ancients. Read this from William Bridges book Transitions.

Odysseus (yes, of The Odyssey) was once a powerful warrior who then lost everything. And I do mean everything as he traveled back home. It was a voyage that was supposed to take just a while, but it stretched into ten years.

See if you can relate to how Odysseus felt …

“ … And at the end he was alone, his last boat sucked down and ripped apart in the great whirlpool of Charybdis. Metaphorically, he is stripped of the various supports on which he had earlier relied. As grievous as that loss is, it also leaves him able to know himself in a new sense.

“In suffering this attrition, Odysseus discovers a kind of courage that is different from the cunning and the aggressiveness of the battlefield. That courage is manifested when his boat is caught in the whirlpool. Just as it is being sucked down to destruction, he reaches up and grabs the branch of a fig tree that hangs over the water.

“With a new kind of bravery, he holds on, not knowing whether it will really matter, until suddenly the whirlpool regurgitates all that is left of his ship: the naked keel and the bare mast. Letting go at last of his painful hold, Odysseus drops athwart the keel and paddles with his hands out to sea. This king and hero, who began with a fleet of ships, leaves the scene like a child astride a log.”

I love the part about summoning up a different kind of courage. That has been my experience again and again in this massive letting go I have been experiencing for more than two years now.  Just when I think all is settled another gaping cavern opens up and more is meant to be released. So I just go with it.

Again and again I pull up that uncommon courage and put it to use. These days it is the courage that decides even the extraordinary bill I got at the end of my IRS audit is God’s will. As in, “Yeah, you really do have to let go of EVERYTHING.”

I get it. I’m willing. Just show me where to go next. I have no doubt my own keel and naked mast will appear.

Can you relate to this?

Something we often forget to do …

Don't forget to ask for your heart's desireHow easy it is to assume it’s all up to us — and yet, it’s not. Whether you believe in angels, God, spiritual entities, friends in the afterlife or goddesses and deities … you are not alone.

One way or another, the Universe has your back, now and forever. You just have to surrender enough to receive. Because you really were put on this planet to be happy.

Oh yeah … and don’t forget to ask for help.

 

How to Stop Doing So Much & Start Receiving More

Relaxing-TimeMy beloved yoga teacher, Kashi, has presented me with a challenge.

“Stop striving,” she suggested. “Go for only 70%, instead of 100%. It’s part of letting go.”

OK, I get it. I can’t strive for one more minute if I want my business to magically unfold from Spirit. But the doing only 70% … Hey! That hurts!

If you are like me, you have had a relentless (and I do mean relentless) taskmaster in your head, commanding you ever forward. This quest for excellence is intrinsically linked to my survival. I must, at all times, deliver 100% — more, if possible.

Or at least I think I do. Maybe … I don’t?

What if Kashi is right? What if I’m really am powerless over making anything happen in life?

Who am I if I am not a ‘human doing’ as opposed to a human being?

So I go to yoga class and refuse to push myself. Then I go to my office. I work only until I’m mildly tired instead of dead exhausted, and permanently bent into ‘chair shape’.

Then I wander around with apparent time off. I feel aimless and slightly worried – I should be doing more! Will I really be provided for? Or has Spirit gotten me confused with someone else?

This is awkward. Part of me doesn’t trust this 70% effort. A little voice stamps her foot and says, “You can work all you want, honey, but won’t EVER be enough!”

Then I remember that I actually do have enough, right here and right now. And I am enough — I’m better than ever, in fact. Every last need of mine has been amply provided for since I ended my business in 2012.

Yes, there are times when circumstances dictate that we work extra work, but this doesn’t have to be day-to-day for us to succeed. In fact, it can’t. What if genuine self-care (i.e. not overworking and pushing but chilling instead) was part of a successful business plan? My body says yes when I think about this, and my central nervous system relaxes. I know the truth of it.

It’s simply a matter of getting used to doing less.

So I go forward more tenderly now, Today, for instance, I will put away my work at 2PM and drive an hour to my girlfriend’s house. Then I will … just relax.

Maybe I will go for a walk before she gets home. Maybe I will bake an apple crisp. Maybe I will just do absolutely nothing … or take a nap! Slowly I am beginning to savor these little pockets of time off.

Can you relate to this idea of doing less, becoming more balanced, and then letting the Universe provide? How do you do that?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

What Sarasvati Wants You to Know

Sarasvati_by_Sedeptra

Have you ever heard a really good song — one that filled your soul and lit you up, so you truly felt better for hearing it? Or read a book that was so rich you couldn’t keep from sharing it with your friends? Perhaps you saw a movie that changed you in some way … making you feel whole and inspired again.

That is the Hindu goddess Sarasvati at work, for she dwells in the magic of creative expression. Within that seed she is all heart, all beauty, all all the time.

According to experts, Sarasvati is “a goddess who embodies knowledge, arts, music, melody, muse, language, rhetoric, eloquence, creative work and anything whose flow purifies the essence and self of a person.”

I want that. Don’t you? The next time you feel stuck, less alive, or simply wanting more out of life, ask Sarasvati to come visit you in your prayers. Don’t be shy … for she is always listening like any good deity. Reach out and prepared to be inspired, either by your own creative expression or the magic held in a speech, a book, a performance, a song.

So your own personal rebirth will begin …