I ask myself, what would a masochist do?

 

First of all, I had to look up this word because you know when you think you know what a word means but there is a bit of fuzziness around it and you definitely would not go on a game show and raise your hand? I just knew that one of those words does the spanking and the other word gets spanked.

Masochist. A person who derives sexual gratification from their own pain or humiliation.

Also, a person who enjoys an activity that appears to be painful or tedious. Bingo.

Whenever I am in a situation that feels shitty (and when I can remember to do this) – stuck, hurt, ashamed, doubting, hopeless – I ask myself the question, what would be the hardest thing to do right now?

I started doing this because it became obvious that I was already doing the easiest thing. That just happened naturally.

When I felt stuck, I just let my negative programming have at it and it would race away and convince me that nothing would ever change and that this was my life forever.

When I was emotional bruised, I would close down physically and emotionally so nothing could get in to hurt me again. I fed my wounds.

When I felt shame, I isolated so no-one would ever know.

When I doubted myself and my work, I just sat in that pile of shit and let those waves of self-diminishing wash over me and get into every cell of my body.

Actually, all of that was really easy to do. It fit with all of my human training thus far and I didn’t even need to think about it. Those responses happened just like breathing.

The thing is, doing what was easy also felt like shit because there was something about my reactions that kept me there. They protected me from everything including being able to move through and out of where I was.

Hence the question, what would be the hardest thing for me to do right now? Perhaps if the easiest thing didn’t do shit, then the hardest thing would be the answer.

When feeling stuck in our bodies or mindsets, the fucking hardest thing to do is to move and let go.

When feeling heartbroken and bruised, the hardest thing to do is to stay in the room and stay open.

When feeling shame, the hardest thing to do is to tell someone else about it.

When feeling self-doubt and self-hatred, the hardest thing to do is loving self-care.

When overwhelmed and panicked, the hardest thing to do is to slow down and take a break.

When hating our bodies, the hardest thing to do is to touch them with love and treat them well.

When rejected, the hardest thing to do is to not take it personally and to stay turned on to our amazingness.

I have found that this technique usually points me in the right direction of GETTING THE FUCK OUT OF HERE. It also always reminds me that I have a choice, even though everything in my body might be clinging on for dear life to the victim.

In the comments below, I want to know what you think. Have you ever tried this? Do you have a question you ask yourself to try to move out of where you are and towards where you want to be?

I’m really good at self-care and here’s what I’ve learned about it

 

I am really good at self-care. It has been and is the work of my lifetime.

Here’s what I have learned:

Self-care has many levels. There is surface self-care and there is deep self-care. We have our own versions of all the levels. For me, a hot bath is surface. A movement session where I burst into tears and crack somewhere is deep. I need both.

Self-care is always changing. Ha! What used to soothe, re-fill and re-fuel might not work anymore. We are always changing. We are never ever static in how we feel and what we want and need. Yoga might have done it for you before but it might not anymore.

Self-care is a call-and-response. The body (or heart or soul) calls for something. The mind decides whether or not to fulfill the request. For example, body tells mind I am tired and want to sleep. Mind tells body, push through, I can’t stop to give you what you need. Conversation over. Self-care dead.

Self-care bangs up against everything. Self-care hits walls everywhere it goes. It bangs up against what your partner wants you to do. What your kids want you to do. What your work wants you to do. Anyone who expects self-care not to bang up against anything will never do it well.

Doing self-care in spite of what it bangs up against builds our warrior. When we are not building our warrior, we are building our victim.

Self-care is the hardest when it is needed the most. This still boggles my mind. When we need it the most, we do it the least. Most times, when we are in crisis, instead of increasing our self-care (more massage, more physical activity, more meditation, more good food, more sleep, more orgasms), we decide to just make it through as best as we can. And we survive it all. We survive the crisis because we are so good at surviving. But we might arrive at the end of it in a total physical or mental breakdown, depleted and depressed or just numb.

Self-care is work. It requires an iron will and tons of discipline. It is where a woman must stand in her own power and for her own worth. This is where the battle is fought, day in and day out.

Part of what is essential to me is my feminine soulful movement practice. For those who live in Toronto, you can join me every Monday night.

In the comments below, I would love love to hear what you have learned (or are learning) about self-care.

 

I can’t teach you…or me…this

 

When I started this business, I had this idea, perhaps unspoken but there, that I would teach a way to reach perfection. I would teach my way to reach perfection. Learn what I know, do it my way and the result of your hard work will be that you will be forever perfect! Sheltered from the storms. Fitter. Thinner. More beautiful. Happier. Cleaner. With glowy skin and white teeth and everything you have ever wanted.

(By the way, if you want a soundtrack while you are reading this, I recommend Bon Iver, “I can’t make you love me”.)

You will be finished. Done. Complete.

Except that, even though I did this work-o-mine, stuff kept on happening to me. Feeling lost. Failure. Shame. Challenges that seemed endless and unsurmountable. I lost weight. Gained weight. Got fitter. Got unfitter. Long hair, short hair, danced in the ecstasy of being fully fucking alive and then drowned in heart-pulling tears in my bathtub. I was up, I was down…I didn’t know where the fuck I was.

So….problem. If I was doing all of this right stuff, then how come shit kept on happening to me? Was there no guarantee? Was there to be no place reached where I had finally made it and didn’t need to worry about that pesky business of being a messy human? Was NOT THE WHOLE FUCKING POINT to learn (and then to teach) how to live a life free from all of that crap, holding it back with the right movement, tools, mantras, blah blah blah?

And if that wasn’t the whole point, if that wasn’t what this work could give me (and what I could promise to others), then…ummm….what the fuck?!

What was I doing, really? With my moving and my dancing and my body connection and my devotion to pleasure and sensuality and my own flavour of sexuality and my blah blah blah? If I wasn’t SOLVING THE PROBLEM OF LIFE, what was I doing? And if I couldn’t tell women that I could SOLVE THEIR PROBLEM OF LIFE, why would anyone care about what I did?

(Insert months of thinking here…and by thinking I mean crying, drinking red wine, dancing, swearing, writing, breaking down while dancing and hot baths.)

So, here’s the thing. I don’t solve the problem of life. It took me a long time to realize this but now I know for realsies that stuff will always happen. (Please don’t laugh at me, I am sometimes a very slow learner.) I will lose people I love. Maybe in a nice way. Maybe in a tragic way. I will forever face new challenges and some will feel like they will break me. I will have problems in my relationships. I will have distances between myself and my children….I may struggle to know how to love them. I may go through periods where I feel shut down. Where I am very very sad. Or very very tired. Or very very unsure of myself, my work and the world.

This I know is true. I cannot solve your problem of life. I cannot solve my problem of life. Mostly, because it’s impossible. And also, because I don’t want to.

And I also know this. I will go through this life fully alive and fully creative. I will rock myself back and forth with tears as all the truth spills out of me. I will face my inner voice, calling to me. I will write out my rage and dance in my anger. I will face what comes with all of me awake and alive and real. I will open up my body and my heart and my soul to my greatest pain and let it have it’s way with me. I will do this because I want to be fully alive and fully creative in my life – not just the easy parts but all of it.

I will let those hard parts break me apart. I will try to open into them, I will try to breathe, I will dance in my tears, I will move my truth, I will leave no stone unturned. I will grow deeply into myself. I will feel what comes out, what I become out of the ashes. I will try my best to face my life not as something to be conquered but something to be faced with my naked courage and rawness. I will try not to hide from it. I will try not to let things shut me down, turn me to rock, make me hard and joyless.

I will try every day to do this. And this, THIS is the work I do. I can’t solve all of your problems or make the bad stuff go away or shelter you from the gut-wrenching joys and pains of life. But I can help you, me, us, go through this life fully alive, fully creative, fully ourselves and FULLY TURNED ON no matter what is happening.

Please join me for my marketing workshop titled “My business will definitely NOT solve your life problems”. Grab a spot NOW because it’s sure to sell out! (I’m joking.)

Thank you. For reading this. For caring. For thinking and living every day of your life with your dreams and hopes and failures and wisdom and triumphs and learning and hard and beautiful moments. Even when we feel isolated and alone, we really are all in this together. xo

 

Diaries of a retreat – Part 3/3

 

This is the final installation in my “Diary of a retreat” writings. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

Day 3

The theme for me this retreat has been belonging. A big challenge to the story I’m holding on to about not being worthy of love and belonging.  I know on a cellular level what it feels like to be the outsider. It feels like my natural state. But I don’t want that anymore. The more I want to fly, the more I need a tribe. So that was where I opened this retreat. I allowed myself to belong. In however and whatever shape that took. And I do feel that I belong here. I belong to the women here. I belong to this movement. I belong to my friends here. I belong! And in belonging, I can bring my whole self here and be a part of this for everyone else. I become part of their belonging too.

Today we had class on the beach. It was one of the highlights for me. Being in the sun, feeling the wind, moving outside. Hearing the ocean. The teacher’s voice was low enough that I could move as I wished. And then we went to the ocean. And I danced all the way there; it felt like it took a million years. I dragged my toes in the sand, I curved my hips, I leaned back, I took my time. And then, in the ocean, I called a few women to join me in swimming (sometimes we are the pusher and sometimes we need to be pushed) and we took our suits off and swam naked. It was glorious. The ocean waves would come and knock us over as if to say, Snap. Out. Of. It. THIS is who you are. THIS is how you should always be, in this state. Free! Wild! Alive!

I know now that by not going to class and taking my own time, I was creating the safety that I needed to jump. And the jump I want to do is to show my truth to this tribe. I wanted to break apart. I wanted to show ME. Because when I can show the truth of me, I can truly belong. Here. There. To myself. To the world. Anywhere. Everywhere.

Day 4

I had my first group dance and it was okay but nothing emotionally happened, except that it felt good to move. It was a safe dance for me. I knew I wanted something more. So then Sheila (Kelley, S-Factor‘s creator and leader) asked me to tell one of the leaders to put me with a group of women that would want to dance to a “break apart” song.

This is what being a co-creator in jumping into your fear feels like. You actually seek out what will break you apart. 

When we got assigned our new dancing groups for the second round, I said I want a song that will break me apart, that will make me cry. The second woman said, I want to dance to dirty sexual music that talks about fucking and licking pussy. (Honestly, I fucking LOVE this stuff!) So, that is where we started off. I just had this knowing that I needed to push for my song and that this dance was mine. We finally all agreed to dance to “Delicate” by Damien Rice. (Even women who love to dance to dirty sex songs have a tender, delicateness about them. We are 100 shades of the rainbow.)

I went to the middle of the floor right in front of all of these women because I wanted to be seen. I started on the floor because I didn’t think I could stand up. I danced. I broke apart. I cried. I showed my fear in being seen and then I was seen, as I lifted my shirt over my head and showed my tear-stained face. And then, at the end of the song, I wept. Lying on the floor. I let it all out as I was held by my tribe. And then, I felt so fucking glorious that I yelled out a cry of victory. I did it! I gave my self the time I needed, I listened to my own voice, I trusted when I was ready and then, I jumped.

I belong. Exhale. 

The evening after the retreat ended…

I spent this night with people! I went out to dinner with them! I belong here! (As you can tell by the exclamation marks! this is not what I usually do!) They weren’t stopping me from belonging, I was stopping myself! Gosh darnit, fucker head shit!

After being home for 4 days

I’ve been back for 4 days now. This re-entry is different Last time, I merged with life effortlessly. So I thought I got it and that is what would happen this time. But it didn’t. I am still quiet about the retreat. I am still holding it in my body and heart like a treasure. I don’t know how it will move through my body and my life but I know it will.

But here’s what I learned. I belong. I trust myself to know what I need. I know how to make myself safe. I want to jump.

Thank you for reading.

Sophie

xo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

    

Diaries of a retreat – Part 2/3

 

This is the second installation of my “Diary of a retreat” writings. You can read the first one here.

Day 2

I don’t like this retreat. I am not feeling at home or good; I’m feeling uncomfortable. We had an experience with horses with the amazing Jen Zoe this morning and I had an uncomfortable realization. I thought the horse I had connected with was paying attention to Jen Zoe and another horse and wasn’t with me. And then, something shifted and she was with me. Jen Zoe asked me what I thought had shifted and I said I didn’t know. She said, maybe that’s what you are going to find out this weekend. And then I realized that maybe I had been thinking that I wouldn’t be enough to hold that horses’ attention and so, of course, she was wanting to be somewhere else. That is one of my tender spots. Bah. Sigh. Cry. Release.

During the dance in class today, I had a moment where I was crying and I looked at one of the women there (because I know she can hold space for me) and afterwards she said that she could feel me get emotional and then close down and why didn’t I just let it go? Then I felt badly that I hadn’t let it go and I said it wasn’t time and I don’t know if that’s an excuse or the truth and I can feel all of my old patterns of thoughts which make me wrong or bad come up and I don’t want to feel like that.

I’m repeating to myself – I am so perfectly where I am right now. I am perfectly where I am right now. And I am open-hearted and ready and trying and being and it’s all okay. And I don’t hate this retreat; it’s just that I’ve come up against some real shit here.  

Last night, I had the thought that maybe my body has to be so pleasured in order to overrule my brain. I could feel how my brain patterns were taking me right out of my body. I could feel my body (that flow, that total feeling of rightness, that joy in being everything I am) was crying out “please don’t leave me!” as she felt all of my overthinking and critical thoughts take me away from her. I think that the more she is pleasured with good food, the right clothes, movement that allows her to express what she feels, deep breathing, touch, sensual/sexual pleasure, her volume gets louder. When in doubt, always go to the body. Funny, that was the lesson I learned at the last retreat. When in doubt, go to the body. She knows fucking everything.

Then we danced for teacher again.  It felt okay to me but there was some performing I could feel. So I was half in my body and half just showing. In her comments, my teacher said that I was going in and out of two different things. That I was like a sea anemone, flowing big and small…and she didn’t know what I wanted. Okay, so it is all true, I am not dancing to show what I want. And what do I want? I’m afraid to show it. Because then everyone will know how I am. I might want to actually be unknowable. Do I really want that? How can I get what I want if I am not knowable? If I can’t show the women here and at home, then how will I show the world? I am afraid of it. My power. My big sexuality. I don’t know what to do with it or how to fit it into my life in a way that serves my desires as well as a life with a husband and kids and the domesticity of it all.

I want to live in my power and not shrink it behind other stuff anymore.    

I decided not to go to class tonight. I had too many voices in my head. When my teacher talks so much during the class, I can’t hear my own body. It feels so disconnected and awful. So I decided to go back to my room. I had a bath, I read, I went to bed. It was exactly what my intuition told me I needed. But I had all of these voices saying, you should stay, you need to push through it, this is when you need to NOT run but I was having strong resistance to going and so I was fighting on two fronts; one was to follow my truth and not go to class and the other fight was to believe I had done the right thing and to trust myself as deeply as was required. And it turned out to be the perfect thing for me to do. This has been a pattern for me – I engage and connect and then something triggers me and I have to retreat. I need to find my centre and think about it on my own before I can go back out again. And when I go back out, it’s as if I’ve made a big decision while being on my own that allows me to experience a breakthrough.  

And then shit really happens.

Stay tuned for the final chapter of my “Diary of a Retreat” series!

 

Diaries of a retreat – Part 1/3

 

I decided to do a diary of a retreat I went on because I want to share what a retreat can be like (this particular one and my particular experience) in the hopes that I will inspire you to go on one, or at least to consider the value of investing in time away just for you. 

This is my experience of the fourth S-Factor retreat I have been on. As usual, there were moments of darkness and moments of transformation and ecstasy. They come hand in hand, it seems….

So here is Part 1. From me to you…

Diary of a retreat – Part 1/3

It’s a few days before I leave and I am, for the first time, noticing a pattern about where my thoughts are taking me. 

And now that I have noticed it, I can see it everywhere in my life. Whenever I am in a situation (or approaching one) where I am not the boss, not the leader, not the expert and I have to learn from someone else and they have control over me and I will need to show some stuff in order to grow, I go into very big resistance. If I might break down, show emotion, talk about my feelings, appear that I am not in control of everything, that I don’t know everything and that I am vulnerable and tender, just like everyone else, I freak out. 

So, with this retreat, here’s what I’m thinking.

This is definitely the last retreat I’m going on.

I don’t really like this stuff anymore.

It’s all bullshit.

I don’t agree with anything they say.

I don’t want to go anymore.

This level of resistance is totally my MO. I pretend disdain, I diminish everyone’s leadership role and expertise, I doubt every word, I roll my eyes, I tune out, I “do my own thing”, I resist, resist, resist.

Why? Why can’t my brain just say I’m worried about all of the uncomfortable and dark feelings I might have and that I don’t want people to see me as “weak” when I show my vulnerability? I don’t know why my brain doesn’t say just that. It’s so weird. My big-hearted but twisted ego wants to save me from something…wants to keep me small where she can protect me, I think.

My body has no such problem. She can’t wait to move, to dance all day, to discover, to play, to be so fully alive in herself. She’s so much fucking cooler than I am.

My final day is filled with buying travel health insurance, doing last-minute laundry (stop, stinky armpits), packing, shaving astounding amounts of body hair, filling my man in on all of the details of our daily life with two young kids, etc.

The ride in the cab as I go away can be the darkest moment. This morning, my body is flush with heat, my stomach has a ball of rolling snakes in it and my head hurts. All fear. Or mostly fear and then anticipation, excitement, panic, anxiety and probably some other stuff that I don’t even recognize. I am trying to think of Pema Chodron’s quote about how living life fully requires that you are continually tossed out of the nest as every cell in my body is screaming, GET BACK IN THE NEST! Is this normal? Is anyone else feeling this?

I notice that fear shuts down everything about me. I forget who I am, what I want, HOW I am. It is a mojo-killer.

And it is dark in the cab. The day hasn’t begun yet. I feel anxiety about going through security, making the flight – I always have a secret fear that I have the wrong time, wrong destination, wrong day. Mostly, but not exclusively, because I have done it before. (Ssshh…don’t judge.)

This time around, however, I have less “mummy’s abandoning her family” syndrome. Something has shifted but I don’t know what yet. Before I had a lot of anxiety about leaving my tribe in their cave all alone. It wasn’t guilt so much as this instinctual prerogative that my job was to be their protector and caretaker and to be there. But on this retreat, I don’t feel that. That comes as a lovely surprise. Evolution does exist.

Once I get to the airport, the gap between me in my nest and me moving towards adventure (and out of the nest) starts to feel more comfortable. I become more ready. The fear melts away from my body.

I arrive at my hotel and write this a few hours later.

I belong here! I was feeling a bit lonely – swimming in the ocean, walking along the beach, going for dinner. And then, this awesome chick, the amazing mover who knows everyone and has been around and belongs here, said “hi” to me! She recognized me! I have arrived. I garbled “hi” back and walked out the door of the hotel smiling like a crazy woman. And THEN! I introduced myself to one of the lead teachers. We talked. She knows my name now! And THEN! I introduced myself to someone else and then WE talked. And then, JUST NOW, someone I recognized and have met before said “Are you going to the retreat?” And I said “yes” and then we gave each other our names. I BELONG! I HAVE FRIENDS!

Sigh. Nothing has changed. This is a page out of my 11-year old diary.

I go to sleep excited, scared, feeling both alone and belonging. Being human is confusing.

The adventures continue in Diary of a Retreat – Part 2/3. Coming up next!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

I aM sTuCk

 

I am going through a stuck period right now. And this is what I usually do when I’m stuck.

Watch movies in the middle of the day. While eating a hamburger and chips.

Get angry at the teacher because I was late for drop-off and because IT’S HER FAULT I’M STUCK!

Rage at everyone. My kids. My husband. Strangers. Above teacher. And then smother them with hugs and love because I feel so badly. (Not teacher.)

Sit in front of my computer, looking at the screen and doing…nothing.

Watch movie trailers. For a long time. Or videos from SickKids and just cry.

Look at my “to do” list, feel immediately exhausted and take a nap.

Take another nap.

Look everywhere for help. Watch videos. Reach for books. Listen to interviews. All of me is screaming out SOMEONE HELP ME BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO NEXT.

I also dance, do yoga, cry, journal, meditate, try to breath, try to eat healthy food, make green juice, tell someone else I’m stuck.

Drink wine.

I feel so jealous of everyone who is doing well, who has something exciting going on, who is a SUCCESS.

I doubt every idea, every blog, every dream and think I MIGHT JUST BE WRONG ABOUT ALL OF THIS.

I say “no” to things I should say “yes” to…

My body feels so sluggish. So stuck. So bored. So blah blah blah. I haven’t the energy to do the littlest thing. I know I should get up but I only feel like being down.

AND.

and.

And there are times when I am wise enough to say…

“Oh baby, you’re stuck! That’s why you are watching this movie in the middle of the day with a bag of chips. You’re stuck! You poor thing. I know it feels like shit. You know, why don’t you have a nap after this movie? And you know what? This too shall pass. How do I know? Because we’ve been here before. I remember. It passes and one day, you’ll be on fire again. And it’s okay that you are feeling stuck right now because a) it’s just what’s happening and b) it’s the truth right now and c) there is always something in the gaps for you. Remember? I do. This is when we are forced to sit in this really freaking uncomfortable place and just be. This is where we practice being really kind and loving to ourselves. This is when we have conversations with other people and we say “I’m stuck” and they say “Oh my god, I’m so glad you said that, I’m stuck too!”. This is where the stuff we don’t really want to do just gets left behind and the stuff that really pulls us, that really gets us excited, is the only thing we have energy for. This is the place of Giant Remembering. We’ve been here before. It will pass. See what’s there for us in the gap. Be ever so kind and compassionate. Be still. Be so present in the gap and also, let it pass. It will.”

And it does pass. Until it happens again. Which it always does.

I’ve been thinking about how it also seems possible that whenever I’m stuck, it’s not because things aren’t going anywhere but more that there is about to be a shift into something different. I am not actually mired in the mud but just at the edge of something completely new.

In the comments below, I’d love to know how you go through being stuck without losing your mind.

Audacious, scary, body buzzing, delicious desire

 

Desire – Part 1

Desires are weird and wonderful. They are basically what you want but when you change the word want for the word desire it sounds so much more….ballsy. Daring. Delicious. Illegal. Naughty.

Desire seems like a slap to everything I grew up with. It’s the opposite of almost every message I received. I think that desire would have been a dangerous word to use; a dangerous concept to even bring up. Too audacious. Wasteful. Indulgent. Bad.

Here are a few things I’ve discovered about desire.

Desire is a tricky and complicated muthatrucker.

Desire gives fruit at both ends of it’s cycle. And in the middle. It has a magic to it regardless of whether it comes true or not.

Desire is fun. It makes your whole body feel very alive.

Desire writes the resume of who you really are at the deepest and truest level.

Desire isn’t just a happy wanting. It is often a kind of amazingly wonderful but also makes me feel slightly sick at the thought of it but only because it’s so freaking amazing and also because it scares me so much….kind of thing.

In May of this year, I attended a retreat. It was the third one of this particular kind and previously, I had always left about a year and a bit before I went again. It was the time I needed to digest what I had experienced. I left each retreat with a hunger only to go home and try to live as the woman I had opened into.

In May, at the end of this retreat, things felt very different. My whole body hummed with I WANT MORE. It was a ravenous hunger. I wanted more. I wanted to go deeper. I wanted to see what else there was RIGHT FREAKING NOW.

I was filled to the brim, bubbling over with this desire to go on another one. Hunger. Wanting. Desire. Yearning. Ache.

So, I signed up right away.

Now, when you go away for about 6 days and leave your husband with two young kids and spend a lot of money going on a retreat and then you come home and say, by the way, can we do this all over again in 6 months, well, it can feel kind of…selfish. A bit too much.

You have to say something like…”By the way, I want us to spend a lot of more money (which we should be spending on things like our mortgage and our future) so I can go and have fun and just generally feel fucking amazing.”

You see what I mean?

So, I came back from the retreat and said more or less, the above.

Okay, he said. (This man. THIS MAN. Wow.)

I had to do some juggling. I had to do some really deep financial wrangling. I had to ask for more than I was comfortable with. I had to believe I was more worthy of this money than our bank account (and children) were. I had to borrow from our future. To just generally feel fucking amazing.

It was extremely stressful.

And one night, I took a walk around the block to clear my head. I was surprised by the amount of stress I was feeling about this. I started to peel the layers back by asking myself, what’s the deal here? Is it the money? And then I pictured myself having paid for it and being able to relax. And nothing changed in my body. My heart rate was elevated, my stomach was tight, my skin tingled. Hmmm, so it wasn’t a money issue after all?

What the freak was going on?

I kept on peeling. And then I hit it. The sweet spot of epiphany. It wasn’t a money issue. It was a desire issue. It. Scared. The. Shit. Out. Of. Me.

The stress I was feeling was just a big bundle of FEAR. I was afraid of it being really great. I was afraid of it being really bad.

It wouldn’t be good. I wouldn’t get what I wanted out of it. I would have wasted all of this money and time and energy (everyone’s) and it would suck. My desire would have been a dud. There was nothing else for me to experience. Nowhere else to go. Nothing else to discover. I was done with this work. I had opened all I could open. Everything else was bullshit. This retreat was bullshit. This desire was bullshit. It was too much. Not going to happen. Not up in here. This desire, actually, was wrong.

Then…

What if it worked? What if it was amazing? Incredible? What if my desire was leading me just where I wanted to go? What if I opened, melted, experienced, expanded…what if my mind got blown and it was fucking incredible? What if it worked?

Silence.

How do I come home? How do I integrate? Will I come home? What if it’s too good? What if I never want to come home and I just disappear into the world, following my crumbs of desire until the postcards to my family just dry up? What if I go to a place I can never come back from? What if my husband can’t follow me there? What if my friends can’t follow me there? What if I can’t maintain this woman as a mother? As a wife? What if feeding this desire just makes me hungry for more?

(And somewhere, there was a voice that just kept on repeating are we even allowed to want something so badly like this just because it’s going to feel so freaking amazing?!)

Sigh. I was just so scared of this desire. This desire was so big. So deep. So hungry. So fucking fearless. And I was just the shaking, trembling little human attached to this rocket, trying my best to both hang on and enjoy the ride and to prepare my parachute.

But. But. Butt. To say “no” to this desire was scarier than saying yes. So, I said YES.

I leave in a month. With my passport (literally and figuratively) and my parachute.

I think desires are so important. Having them. Knowing what they are. Letting them live in your body and in your heart and then, when it suits, following the breadcrumbs towards them.

I think we have to believe that we are worthy of our desires.

That our desires are not only good for us but for everyone around us.

That our desires are right for us. Perfectly matched for our souls.

That our desires can be a compass. Are signposts along life’s path. (Otherwise, sheeeeet…..what are we following?)

And I think that our desires have meaning in our lives. That they are important. That they are not just the fun stuff, the good stuff, the wild stuff. But the really, really important stuff.

And that they are bigger even than themselves. That they are all leading us somewhere. Somewhere important.

Tell me, what is your relationship like with desire?

Truth telling. Deep breath. Open mouth.

 

 

Telling the truth.

It’s big. It’s hard. It takes remarkable courage. (Not to say something like “I don’t like peaches” but to say something like “Yesterday, I broke down in tears because I realized that I’m not really happy.”)

I believe telling the truth can save our lives. (Along with Wonder Woman.)

I had to start telling the truth to myself. To admit how I was actually feeling. To take off the blinders and allow myself to feel and allow the truth about it all. The resentment. The anger. The sadness. The fear. The wanting.

And who it involved. My family. My kids. My husband. My parents. That person.

Can we tell the truth to someone else if we haven’t spoken it to ourselves first?

Our truth is so sacred that we need to own it first. To speak it to ourselves first. To allow it. To feel it’s edges. To feel it’s heat, whether it’s burning or frozen. We can only move past it when we speak it.

The truth that we don’t speak (or that we tone down so we only speak a part of it) just buries itself in our skin. In our cells. It shuts down our joy. It is a barrier between us and someone else. It keeps us the victim. It festers into self-criticism and self-hatred.

Truths like…

I’m having a hard time with life right now.

I don’t like it.

No.

I am not happy.

I don’t know what to do.

When we don’t tell the truth to each other, we continue this isolation. Each of us in our own small world, thinking that everyone else has it together. That we are the only ones that can’t get it. Can’t hold it together. Don’t know what we are doing.

We think we are the only ones struggling.

We all stay down in the dark. All struggling alone. When we tell the truth, it’s like a ray of sunshine shines in that darkness. And we begin to see a way out of it. Together. Whew. We don’t have to do this alone.

Speaking the truth is a hard-won freedom.

Speaking my truth used to feel like something that diminished me. Made me weak. But now I know better.

Speaking the truth requires trust and someone to hold that truth like an egg they will never drop. Speaking the truth to someone means that you have determined that they are worthy of hearing this whisper from your heart. That they will honour it. Respect it. Hold it for you.

Never speak the truth to someone who can’t hold it for you.

I am learning every day to speak my truths. Some are getting easier. Some are hard. Some still get stuck in my throat. Maybe it is my fear, or my ego, or my heart that is trying to keep the words trapped there; I can feel the constriction as it fights to be set free.

I want to tell the truth. I want to set myself free by telling my truth. I want to set other people free by telling my truth. Maybe one of my truths is one of your truths. Then we are, all of a sudden, not alone anymore. Not crazy. Not wrong. Not unable.

Telling the truth comes with risk. To be hated. To be judged harshly. To be labeled. To be shamed. To be misunderstood.

But it’s a risk worth taking because the truth does set us free.

Here are some of my truths.

I still struggle with feeling that my story is worth telling and hearing. So sometimes I don’t tell it.

I struggle with believing that I am loveable. And worthy of love. I am still surprised how much people like me.

I am resentful (in various degrees from background noise to eruption) over how much my life “stopped” with kids and wifedom.

I have a hard time asking for everything I want. I have a hard time asking for help even though I tell people to do it all the time.

When I yell at my kids, it’s like I am split into different selves. One is totally shut down because she feels out of control. The wise part is shaking her head, sadly. And one part is enjoying it, whispering “Let them feel your rage. They deserve it.”

I miss the days when I got instantly turned-on just thinking about sex. I miss what the first kiss feels like. 

Every time I walk into a group of people, my heart is beating and I’m trying to act cool and confident but inside I’m afraid no-one will like me, I won’t connect with anyone. I won’t belong. I’ll be on the outside. Which is a place I know the pain of well.

I judge. When my heart is tight, when I’m tired, when I’m depleted, I judge. And I rank. I can feel smug about thinking I am a better mother, cooler wife, cooler woman. I can feel superior. (It’s all bullshit, obviously, and the only difference on this one is that I judge less and it now feels like shit. Damn.)

I envy. I have an ongoing battle with scarcity. Somewhere along the way, I claimed the idea that there isn’t enough to go around so I want it all. All of the attention. All of the validation. All of the love. I need to be the best, the brightest. In everything.

I am very comfortable when I am bright and shiny and sometimes disappointed, frustrated and impatient with my quiet, shy, withdrawn, self-doubting self.

I’m afraid of dying because I don’t want to be alone.

Thank you for reading my truth. I hope you can hold it for me.

The next time you are with someone whom you trust with your truth, tell them something. Something real. Something close to the bone. Something tender. Be the first one. Be brave. Save your own life. And theirs.

 

 

To any woman in some darkness right now

 

 

This post is for any woman who is in a dark and challenging place right now because she has dared to begin to listen to her own voice, to hear her own desires, to voice her deep truths and to want to become the writer of her own story.

Sometimes, this journey is a choice we make. And other times, it is put upon us by circumstances beyond our control.

Being in the space of questioning everything, desiring everything, being courageous enough to face both fears and mightiness, standing alone and asking “What do I want?” without looking to others for approval or direction, is a scary, lonely, dry and hopeless feeling place.

So, to you, brave warriors – if you are in darkness now, please don’t think you are wrong. You are not.

If your husband doesn’t need what you need, you are not weak.

If your friends don’t seem to want what you want, you are not damaged.

Even when you wonder if anyone else feels the way you do, you are not wrong.

In your darkness and in your doubt, you are not wrong. You are not crazy or unable. You are a warrior on a quest.

Here’s what I wrote to myself when I was inside a dark journey.

Invite in the aspect of you that is your most compassionate nurturer, your mother, your fiercest advocate. Gather yourself up in your arms and gently rock back and forth.

Welcome in your rebel, your agitator…unleash she who goes one way while everyone else goes the other way.

Unleash your sassy rockstar superpower goddess who knows that nothing is wrong with her. The one that wouldn’t change a thing about herself and thinks she is perfect just the way she is.

Turn to your own wisdom inside. Listen to the one who has been there, through it all. The part of you that sees and knows all. The part of you that knows you deeply, fully and completely. She is not your enemy. She is your best friend, your heroine, your saviour.

Trust yourself so fucking deeply that you turn away from the experts and write the guidebook to your own life.

Part of being on a dark journey sometimes means not being with the crowd, the friends, the advice, the experts, the magazines, the self-help books, the courses, the workshops. It means being in the dark alone. Turning towards yourself with faith and love and holding on.

It means being your own light.

You are not wrong. Your courage to look inside your shadows and see beauty and promise, your courage to feel and see your truth, that courage is you being in your warrior.

So, if you are swimming in questioning and everyone else seems to be swimming, happily, the other direction, you are not wrong.

If your children don’t understand you, if your husband doesn’t get you, if none of your friends seems to understand what you are talking about, you are not wrong.

If you have the courage to stand inside your own heart, to be still inside your own struggles, to stop and FEEL your self, you are not wrong.

You are so right on.

You are not wrong or broken or weak or crazy or selfish or stupid or a complainer or a whiner or emotionally unstable.

You are a fully-alive, red-blooded, yearning, magical, imperfect, glorious, human and divine woman.

When it is so hard to be your own light, if you can, remember that you are not alone. Behind you is the lineage of women who came before you – the women who survived wars, famines, tragedies, heartbreak, loss, family ruptures, broken marriages, moves across oceans into new lives, financial ruin. These are the warrior women of your line. There are women in your line who dared to go their own way. To face their dragons to get to the gold. Women who let themselves hear their own truth…and honour it. Even when it was difficult. Or rebellious. Or forbidden. So you are not alone.

I’ll end with the following quote from “Coming Home to Myself” by Marion Woodman with Jill Mellick.

“Ursula LeGuin, in a commencement speech given years ago (you can read the full speech here – it is unlike any commencement speech I have ever read before) to the women of Mills College in Oakland, California, emphasized that women grow things in darkness, not in light. It is darkness – with it’s secrets, earthiness, and joys, with its pains, losses, and despair – that we celebrate. The woman who takes the time to grow herself in the darkness becomes familiar – perhaps for the first time – with the real source and containment of her psychic strength. No longer is her strength dissipated in obeying an idealized father figure, in pleasing a lover, in trying to satisfy a perpetually unsatisfied mother figure, in accomodating to a patriarchal organization or culture, in appeasing the inner witch who tells her she is worthless. No longer is her strength lost to obeying compulsions, drives, and obsessions that can slip in during the dark night of the soul and substitute for the real thing.

And what is the real thing, the thing for which she longs? The love affair with her own spirit, the inner marriage that commits her to her destiny, the rituals of soul that feed her deepest hunger, and the sense of being pregnant with her Self, her creative essence.”