I'm starting a series of video chats or podcasts, I'm calling "Truth About Me." Things I wouldn't talk about in the grocery store line. Truths that are personal and intimate, honest and raw, unedited and real. I'll talk about parts of me that are beautiful and challenging. It's all part of my work to be more visible and more vulnerable, to open to this community authentically. In doing this, I hope to encourage you to look into some of your own truths.
In this first one, I share how I was loved for what I did as a child and not necessarily for who I was. It motivated me to get straight A's in school and throughout my whole life, so it isn't all bad, it's just a Truth About Me.
I was going to compose a professional letter about growth and transition. I was composing it in my head for days and it sounded pretty good. I planned on giving rational explanations for why I am doing what I'm doing--something that made sound business sense and thanked all the right people for their help and support. It had a professional tone and used professional impersonal language.
Then I picked up the journal that sits next to my bed, a beautiful notebook with a sleeping tree and bright full moon, a gift from a woman I met while facilitating a workshop in Canada. That dreaming tree in the night and hauntingly beautiful moon just wouldn't let me play it safe. I flipped through the total of four entries--that's all just four. Each and every one of them is connected to why I am doing this.
There is the theme for 2019: "Step up, show up, align & shine and TAKE BIGGER RISKS." Next are the journey notes with the new spirit teacher who told me she would hold up the mirror for me to see who I truly am right before she told me it would be a big responsibility. I must step up, I must not fail my tribe. I must work for them and with them.
Then the entry on self-care where I make some adjustments to be home more, be more present, meditate and love myself more. The next one asks, "what do I want?" My answer, "the perfect space for healing work, circles, and teaching classes." I then go on to list everything I want.
After reading through those entries, I moved right out of my head and into my heart. I moved away from playing it safe and into being vulnerable and open. Thirteen months ago, I played it safe when I closed the retail side of TVH and opened in an office building in town. I thought I was taking big risks by closing down a successful and visible retail operation, but my heart wasn't into selling anymore. Instead I focused on healing sessions and teaching in the office space. It worked for a full 13 months. And now, my theme for 2019 won't allow me to continue that way. I must take bigger risks.
So here goes...as of April, TVH Holisitic Healing Center will be moved to a tipi on the land just outside of Millerton, NY. Yes, I'm a little worried about becoming known as the "crazy lady on the hill with a tipi," but I've made peace with that. This beautiful patch of private land offers everything on the list above--even a small farm pond! Handicapped access might be a stretch, but we can make it work.
When I realized that the office space was the safe bet--in town, not too personal, something familiar for my community--I knew I had to change that. My land has been calling for work to be done here for years and I was refusing. I didn't want anyone to see all of me. I didn't want anyone to see where and how I lived with my family. This was private space and I was very comfortable hiding behind the TVH name and brand for my public face.
No more. I am my brand and there is nothing to hide. When you join us for a women's circle or soul journey circle, a weekend workshop, or a day class, you will now sit in ceremony in a beautiful tipi that was designed specifically for the land where it sits. You will also see my home, my land, my farm. I promise the experiences will be deeper and even more transformative than before. The sunsets up here are magnificent, and the trees and earth have been singing with joy since I came into alignment with their master plan. It took a while and a lot of deep soul work on my part, but I got there.
Looking forward to sitting with you in the tipi!
I see meditation less as an emptying out of myself and more as a filling up with Self and the present moment. Becoming so engrossed in Now that thoughts of other things just slide away. Thoughts will always come, that’s how the mind works. The practice is getting comfortable with allowing them to come and letting them float away without getting transfixed or hooked. Isn't that the practice for so many things in life? As my meditation practice grows with time, the spaces between the thoughts get richer and longer and the thoughts fade away quicker. I know I am deep in a meditative state when I am observing thoughts come and go, not engaging or following them, just being aware that they are sliding in and sliding out. It becomes another awareness of the present moment alongside so many other present moment observances. I hear the waves moving in and out, I observe a thought moving in and out, I feel my breath moving in and out. I am totally absorbed in the present moment with complete acceptance of all that it is and all that is happening right now.
While I sat at the beach on Christmas Eve, I moved from a meditative state of present moment awareness through unity transcendence to a higher consciousness healing journey, which then slid into an experience of our basic humanness. Below I share some of the magic.
As I meditated this morning a light rain began to fall. It began as a mist and grew stronger. I was aware of each tiny raindrop hitting my back like so many minute pin pricks. As I listened to the waves at the beach flowing in and flowing out and my breath flowing in and flowing out, I knew I could stay focused on this moment. I knew the rain on my back would keep me focused. I was aware of discomfort as the raindrops got stronger, but with breath I was able to sit with the discomfort. Then, when I opened my eyes there was a beautiful rainbow arc over the sea. I breathed in the rainbow vibrations and smiled. It was quickly disappearing—the half on the right slowly fading, but as it did a second arc became faintly visible above the first. I could see where the water met the rainbow, where the two arcs rose from the sea while watching the other half fade even more. And this I thought was magic. This was an affirmation of life. This was a high five from the Universe for showing up to meditate today. This was peace and this was me. I felt the oneness of all things—the sea, the sand, the rain, the sky, the light, the hope and peace and unity that is present in every moment.
Closing my eyes once again, I slid back into meditation and saw my ego self, my story self, my protective self, as a small child. I was opening to my higher consciousness, what I call my higher Self and she was hiding deep within and I felt sadness with that. So I actively worked to get quiet and invite my higher Self to take up more space within. As Self grew, I could feel love and oneness radiating out from every cell of my being. Then my higher Self shape-shifted into a woman who reached down to see my ego self as a small child. My higher consciousness reached down and picked up my child self. She held her on her hip and comforted her with words and soft arms. She then shifted my child self to a sling on her back, but that didn’t feel right—who wants ego on their back? So next, the small child was shifted to a sling on the front. Here we were heart to heart, but the ego self was looking over my higher Self's shoulder, looking behind as if to the past. Always looking into the past as we walk in the present, is a problem I just don’t want to live with. So my higher Self gently guided the child’s face back to center, bringing it closer to the heart. From here the child could only be encompassed in Love as we both walked into the future.
Then I opened my eyes and watched as a little boy and his sister threw a line into the ocean in hopes of catching a fish. I pondered the ways humans have been gifted food from the ocean across cultures and time, our need to provide, and our desire to work in community. Before my reflections could go further, the little boy was excitedly reeling in a fish! I couldn't believe how quickly it happened. I watched his sister jumping around as their catch slowly made its way expertly though the maze of rocks at the ocean's edge. The boy skillfully handled the fish, taking the hook out of its mouth and placing it in a water-filled container before the pair left the beach. I had no doubt they were racing home to family to share the excitement. I thanked the ocean for its gift this morning. The gift of joy and excitement, of providing for loved ones, of satisfaction at accomplishing something, and, of course, the beautiful silver fish.
And that is what happens when I meditate, I look at the world, at all of life, in a different way. I'm just as human as everyone else--I get angry, impatient, and nasty. But the magic that happens when I meditate opens me to a more connected way of being human, a deeper experience of the oneness that is our true reality.
For the past 17 years my family has been going away for the holiday season. This trip has evolved into one of my sacred times. It’s here that I escape the holiday frenzy and recharge for the new year. No matter what you are celebrating, December is a difficult time. High anxiety is matched by high expectations for happiness and joy. You may feel closer to your loved ones as they gather around the home or you may feel even further removed and alone. The stores are filled with people buying just to buy. I wonder at the wastefulness of plastic shopping bags, miles of wrapping paper, and holiday cards that will likely end up in a landfill. Everyone seems to be trying to fit in more frivolity as they schedule back-to-back parties and dinners.
I can’t help but be aware of the families that can’t afford presents under a tree, the ones who will barely be able to scrape together a meal for the festivities. I grew up in a family that didn’t have a lot. My most lasting and heartfelt memory of Christmas morning was the year each of us six kids received one gift—I felt that deeply.
I do remember worrying in other years about my parent’s desire to keep up with everyone else by charging on credit cards so that we could have a couple gifts to open. As a middle-schooler, I was worried we were going into debt and wouldn’t be able to climb out, worried we would lose our home just because my mom and dad were trying to bring us a little happiness on Christmas morning. There was love in their hearts, but it was mixed with the need for external validation and to prove themselves. There was thoughtfulness, but it was mixed with consumer frenzy and buying into the false dream that everything in our lives is ok because we do what everyone else around us is doing. Even then, I felt how misguided this was.
Now my husband and I take our three kids to an island for Christmas. He still buys gifts but being away has certainly shifted the dynamics. When they were very young, we would hold Christmas before we left. They would open gifts and play with them for a day or two and then could choose one or two to bring along with us on the plane. By the time we returned home, the gifts that were left behind had already been forgotten and hardly seemed to matter.
As our children got older and the gifts got smaller, we started bringing gifts down with us. They would begin opening small things on the Winter Solstice and open one thing each night at dinner until Xmas morning when they could open whatever remained. This spread the enjoyment out over 5 days and seemed less of a frenzy to me. They got to experience one thing at a time and I loved that. It was my favorite way to celebrate the season because it honored the older celebration of solstice with the return of the light as well as Christmas.
We own a home on the island that gets rented out when we are not here, so it is very much a home holiday for us. Our 18 year old son doesn’t remember it any other way. We always have a tree on island and our most meaningful decorations and stockings stay down here now. What I like best about it is that we avoid the frenzy. We begin to slow down and relax the minute we land at the airport. Things just move at a different pace. I find it a more thoughtful pace. Here I meditate daily with the sun and the ocean. Here we sit and laugh together at dinner. Here we spend our days in the company of our family and that is the very best holiday gift I can imagine.
Wherever you are in this spectrum of love and compassion and anxiety and loneliness, I wish you peace and health during the holiday season. Let’s feed the hungry children across the world, be kind to our neighbors and strangers alike, work together with love, and tend to the needs of others. That is my greatest wish for us all. This morning as I sit with my coffee, acutely aware of the privilege I have—this home, the means to fly my whole family away, the gifts my husband will give us, a table full of food, the list of my good fortune is truly endless—I reflect on how I can be a better person. I reflect on how I can change the world starting with myself and my family. I hope in some way, great or small, I can bring more Love to this planet.
It has taken me a little while to get this posted, but here is a little musing I wrote up on the way home from the Celebrate Your Life weekend in October. The jars aren't an idea original to me. I think I picked it up from Gaia Wisdom School and Dakota Earth Cloud Walker. It's a great visual reminder of how blessed my life is...
I’m sitting at the Phoenix airport waiting for a flight home after an amazing weekend listening to world class spiritual leaders and coming into heart resonance with other beautiful souls. I’m happy to be going home. Excited to bring this feeling and these science-based spiritual concepts to my life and my community.
Waiting for me at home, I have two mason jars sitting in my kitchen. One has a + on it and one has a - on it. The plus is for when I do something that feeds my soul, when I honor myself, hold my boundaries, speak my truth. It’s for when I add to my spiritual growth with a practical behavior that supports me. The minus is for when I give my power away. It’s for when I agree to meet with that person who always complains, just because I think I should, or because it will make them happy. The minus is for when I do something in the real world that takes away from my spiritual being and growth. When I skip the five minutes (minimum) I set for myself for sitting at my altar everyday. It’s for when I don’t speak up or don’t express my authentic self. It’s for when I catch the negative self-talk soundtrack looping in my mind. It’s for when I ignore my spirit guides for more than 24 hours. You get the picture.
Whenever I do something that adds to or takes away from my soul growth I add to the jar. I’m using pennies, but you could just as easily use pebbles or pet food kibble, small candies... whatever. When I do something really nourishing, like taking a long walk in the woods instead of spending an extra hour at my computer, I add a lot of pennies to the plus jar. After this weekend, I’m going to have to add an entire roll of pennies!
I’ve heard of someone using the jar concept for their relationship. Whenever their sweetheart did something loving or kind they added to the “love” jar and whenever something went wrong, they added to the “less love” jar. When one jar was filled, this woman discovered that she had a lot more love in her relationship than she thought, her partner wasn’t, in fact, as selfish as she thought when she began the experiment.
You can adapt the idea however it works for you. Label the jars anything you want. It’s just a simple, visual reminder of what we are doing in the real world to be better spiritually-minded loving souls everyday.
Yesterday during a coaching session a new spirit guide came in. She was so real, I could see her, feel her, smell her, and hear her voice. It was as if she was right next to me. Spirit guides aren’t always this visceral for me. Sometimes there is just a knowing or I hear them, but every once in a while they come in fully-formed. Later in a meditation a young wounded version of myself came forward. She was taken by the new guide and held and washed and cared for; she was loved. Together, it all made perfect sense. I felt so lucky to have this wonderful new guide in my life, and so happy that she could help with this wounded child in me. The guide was the personification of a caring non-mother mother-figure - a devoted nanny of sorts.
About four hours later the doubts crept in. The guide stayed with me strong and “felt” for about an hour and then she was harder to sense. I thought it was because she was taking care of the child so I didn’t think much of it. I asked and she said “yes” from somewhere far away, down a corridor and in a closed room. With that distance between us I started to wonder why this shape and form? Why now? Nothing like this had ever come to me before. It isn’t something I would usually think of. You see she was a large black woman who was not my mother but she was emanating unconditional love and care for me. She was strong and loving and there for me. Everything felt safe and right with her. But why this throwback to an outdated and often unjust southern lifestyle archetype? I had never related to plantation life or even life in the south. On an emotional and an intellectual level this made no sense.
Then I started to connect the dots. I had been to a gospel brunch two mornings before, my first ever and it was incredible. I sat there surrounded by amazingly strong black women singing the praises of Jesus and I thought how wonderful it would feel to be in their family. How amazing life would be if I were born a strong black woman with strong black mother. (Yes, I know of the disadvantages I would face, the racism, the hate, the lack of opportunities and everything else that goes with being born black in America--but I was focused on the strength and the love of the Lord--one moment in time.)
So there was the link. I had imagined this new spirit guide because I had just been to the gospel brunch. So, how much of it is real and how much of it is my imagination bringing in something I want? I really loved this woman so I was not ready to give her up just yet. But I am not one to trick myself and I do not shy away from investigating the validity of anything—even my own beliefs. So it needed to be examined.
Later that night I was listening to a video lesson from Dakota Earth Cloud Walker (Gaia Wisdom School), one of my favorite teachers and people, and she touched on this exact dilemma. People often ask “how do I know if it is real or if I’m just making it up.” Dakota explained that our intuition and our imagination work together to provide us the guidance we need. I loved the simplicity of her words. You see our guides will show up in a form that we can relate to at that time, something we will understand. Really they don’t have form, but it is much easier to learn swimming from a dolphin than to learn it from a glowing ball of light. It is much easier to understand and feel unconditional love from a large, strong, but soft woman than from an energetic vibration of unconditional love. So I gave the Universe something to work with. When Spirit needed to show me unconditional love, there was something to work with--an opening had been created when in my heart I said I so enjoyed the gospel brunch and wished for that energy in my life. I didn’t make it up so much as I opened a door to another room filled with even more associations for Universe to work with.
And don’t for one second think it is coincidence that I was at that gospel brunch before I went into this coaching session and was asked to look at this aspect of the wounded child in me. It was all set up in divine order. I encourage you to trust your intuition, allow your imagination to expand, and embrace the growth and change that will naturally occur when you are living in Spirit. Sometimes a headache is just a headache, but often it is a sign of something deeper.
This new spirit guide is welcome in my life and I hope she stays around a very long time. The next time you wonder about how much you bring in yourself and how much comes from Spirit, know that EVERYTHING comes from Spirit. Every little thing, every big thing, every imagined thing, every lucky incident, every streak of bad luck, just everything. It is all from Universe, Spirit, God, Goddess, Source, whatever you are comfortable calling it; and it is all here to teach us something. So pay attention to the big and the small, the imagined and the ordinary. Pay attention.
It's morning in my home, everyone is still in bed and I am awake quietly enjoying my morning coffee. While the creative juices are flowing, I want to take a minute to talk about how important it is to take a break. To give yourself the day off or even just twenty minutes off. Sometimes all I can manage is 5 minutes – but either way, no matter how much time you can fit in or how little—take a break.
Your brain and your body can only handle so much information before it really starts to slow down. Think of it like a computer that is so full of stuff the processor just moves slower. It needs a good cleaning. It needs some junk files moved to the trash. When our computers get slow from being too full, we delete some information, move some files. When our minds get too full of information we berate ourselves for slowing down, and we push through. It just doesn’t make sense. So, I encourage you to pay attention to your day, to your body, to your brain—how well is your mind processing information throughout the day. Is your brain sharpest in the morning or late in the day? How does it feel around 2pm, 3pm or 4pm? What is your brain capable of at 8pm?
I noticed that I am very sharp in the morning—yes, I’m a morning person, you may not be. By late afternoon, around 2:30 or 3pm, I start to slow down. My thinking and decision making isn’t what it was at 7am. So that is my cue to take a break. Step outside and take a walk. Go sit under a tree and just be with nature. Maybe I do some breathing techniques (see below), smell some essential oils to calm me or wake me or just make me happy (see below).It’s a good time to put some music on and pop in the headphones, just jam out or jam and dance around. Usually 5-20 minutes is enough to revitalize me.
When I was a kid, my sister and I used to climb onto the sofa and hang our heads over the edge looking at the world upside down. It was crazy fun and a wildly creative break. We would dream out loud about what life would be like if it was upside down. How we would have to step over door frames to enter another room. How windows would be lower and closer to the floor—better for us! We could just step through them. Some really tall people would need to duck to avoid the tables and things stuck to the ceiling and that would always make us laugh. It’s a fun flip things around world and I still do it to get my creative juices flowing.
By-the-way, laughter is another excellent way to take a break. I mean really laugh, laugh out loud. So get up stretch your arms and legs, fill your glass of water, and listen to some ridiculously funny comedian on your headset. After a few really good laughs, you might just be ready to get back to work or whatever task you were doing and you might find that it is all fresh again.
By 5:30pm I’ve usually hit decision fatigue and just can’t get up the juice to make another decision, sometimes even just what to cook for dinner! When I’m feeling this way, it’s essential that I get up and move, even if it’s just taking a walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water or check what’s in the fridge to throw together for dinner. I need to move my body--loosen things up. Sometimes a quick sun salutation or other rejuvenating yoga pose and I am back at greater capacity. Here are some other ways I refresh when I am hitting the wall—seriously, this is important—take a break!
Today, I encourage you to take a break, and if you are able, take the whole day off. Give yourself a mental health day and just expect nothing. Do things that are spontaneous and will fill you up with laughter or relaxation or nature or any other thing you enjoy as self-care.
Breathe In, Breathe Out: Inhale Energy and Exhale Stress by Guiding and Controlling Your Breathingby James E. Loehr and Jeffrey A. Migdow
Insight Timer phone app for guided meditations
Breathe Ball app for breathing breaks throughout the day
Essential Oils--try them out for yourself, but some of my favorites are: Lavender essential oil for calm, Peppermint for waking up and revitalizing, Rosemary for restoring learning and memory capacity, Rose for joy and feeling loved, Ylang Ylang or Neroli for creativity, Sandalwood for grounding.
We spend decades trying to fit into the outside world. What we are really doing is contorting, guilting, and shaming ourselves to fit a shape of Us that is imposed by culture, society, family, economic status, education level, religion, geography, you name it.
Then, if we are lucky, we spend decades undoing that shape, shedding that skin, so that we can once again come into our soul knowing, our true Selves, our god-like, divine, goddess being.
I don't care how you break free of the cage of other people's expectations -- but do it.
DO IT NOW!
Do it in a big way or small ways...
Written one cold December evening in 2015, but still fitting today.
Tonight as I walked upstairs for the thousandth time and looked at the pictures on the upstairs landing, I stopped in my tracks. You see, I am contemplating a new path and I am afraid of where that will lead me, of who I will be at the end. I know it could lead me to an unfamiliar place and that it has the power to change me. The power to change the very ideas I hold about what and who I am. Powerful stuff and not something I take lightly.
So tonight as I reached the top landing, I glanced over the same family photos and I had a revelation. I am always changing. I am ever growing. And the person I was in each of these photos is far from the person I am now--yet I am not in a single photo.
They are pictures of my children, first my daughter, probably around 3 years old, when we lived in the city and I was younger. We had a completely different lifestyle, a different home, different friends, a different marriage relationship even. I was a different person. Then a photo of my son in a diaper and tee shirt out in the country at our small pond. Again, a different lifestyle, a different home, different friends, and now with 2 kids a different kind of marriage. Next there is a photo of our third and youngest child, our son was probably around 4 or 5 as he attempts to push a giant pumpkin out of the pumpkin patch. I realized this was yet another home, another lifestyle as we had a full on farm, and even then we had different friends, different schools and parents and kids to enter into community with.
I saw each of these photos not as I usually did. Not seeing and remembering each beautiful child, but seeing myself and remembering where I was and who I was when these moments were captured. Then there is the photo with the children and their cousins on the Fourth of July. And again, I have changed. We don't spend that holiday in this country anymore, hardly see the cousins who are now teenagers, and there are a number of new much younger cousins that we don't even have pictures of. At the time this photo was taken, I never imagined it being any different. This is what I wanted my kids to know forever. But forever is slippery.
There is a photo of our little ones on a ski mountain in Colorado with daddy. And I am still not the person I was when that was taken. Luckily, we are still in the same home, the lifestyle isn't that different, the friend groupings have stabilized and so has our marriage, but I have changed immeasurably.
So I ask myself, why fear change? Why do I dupe myself into thinking that life has been stable? Life has ONLY been change. Take a breath. See how far you have come, reflect on the distance not from ego but just from how far away it is from what was desired or imagined at the time. Embrace the different person you are now. A person that you wouldn't even have dreamt of in the first photo of your first child taken so many years ago.
There is a beauty and a grace in the gentle nature of your awaking. Continue it. Just that, continue it. Don't delude yourself into believing in fear of changing. You have always been changing and everyone of your loved ones has hung in there and gone along for the ride. They only know you as a changing evolving being. Don't fear losing them because you are awakening and come home with a new idea or practice or way of being. It is who you are now. So follow that new path, take that role, step into being more YOU. That is what this lifetime is for. That is your only purpose--to become more fully YOU.
You only think you are static dear one, in truth, you are far from it.
With love, respect, and deep awe,