Death of Ego

The Hanged One asked me to hang out for a while on the World Tree. He asked me to see life, time, and fate from a different perspective. He flipped me upside down and suddenly everything was dissimilar, unfamiliar. The vision that I acquired betrayed what seemed to be everything I had known and held dear. That betrayal made me look again, re-spect, what I thought I had seen before. As I contemplated the nature of that betrayal, I wondered, “Who is actually betrayed here?” Further reflection helped me see that it is my ego that is betrayed, and not my Self. When someone I have been helping or teaching finds her own legs, when a friend’s life takes a different turn and he is no longer in my life in the same capacity, or when I realize that a value I have been standing on is something I now find inappropriate, I can feel betrayed. But it is really my sense of ego, of importance and fulfillment, that is betrayed.

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My ego has a desperate fear of non-existence. That fear is the one thing that keeps me most tied to the safe and comfortable, or at least familiar, places in my life. When I say ego I am not talking about that arrogant part of me that makes me egotistic, or that psychic part of me that Freud explored…the ego, the id, and the super ego. I’m not even sure I know what that means. What I am talking about when I say ego is the piece of my knowing that tells me that I am separate from all of you, that I exist in space and time, that I have a past, a present and a future. It is the part of me that wears clothes…and masks. It is the part of me that thinks it needs to be something. It’s the part of me that tells stories so that I can know who I am, who you are, what happened yesterday, my place in the world, and what I hope, or maybe fear, will happen tomorrow. And…it’s that part of me that keeps me from being the all that I am.

The all that I am. What is that? Eastern religion might call it the void; physicists might agree and say that I am mostly just empty space. Some might even call it transcendence. I call it dissolution: when every fiber of my being is no longer my being, but the universal Being. It is in those moments that I check my ego at the door. It is in those moments that I can exist as the pure spirit that I inevitably am…nothing to define me except the spaciousness that I feel when I am in my center. No stories. No ego.

I have heard it told that we need that ego. I’ve argued that myself. I say, “How can I have a relationship to my life if I don’t tell stories about it? After all, isn’t that why I incarnated – to have experiences, to feel the broken heart of true love gone awry, to know that I am me and you are you so that we can relate to each other, to feel the sunlight and the rain?” These are things I struggle with, answers I do not have. What I do know is that darn Death card asks me what is essential? and I find myself standing in front of a closet full of dreams, deciding what to wear.

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The stories in that closet hold me in so many ways. They keep me feeling in response to them, and confirm my weaknesses, my strengths, my friends and my foes. They confirm my past and create my future with an assurance that a place for my past will be held. They tell me what to expect and what to fear, what to look forward to and when not to hope. They keep me dancing in the safe embrace of my ego, skirting the edges of the all that I am.

It is said that once you stand for something, you can no longer stand for everything. Quantum physics proposes that a ‘thing’ is not a ‘thing’ until we define it as such. Until we limit objects by saying “tree, dog, person, chair,” they exist as swirling, ambiguous potential…pure energy. When something is nothing, it has the possibility of being anything. I wonder if that’s what I am when I stop identifying myself with my stories. That’s the part that scares my ego, scares it so much that I run back to that closet and quickly find my favorite, comfortable sweater.

So here’s a handy little trick I have learned. I ask myself, “And what would it feel like if I don’t tell this story?” Whatever that story may be…maybe it’s the story of my life’s purpose. Maybe it’s the story of what I need from you; that I am OK if you will tell me I am. Maybe it’s the story of my childhood, the one that carries forward into my future and what I expect from people. There is a plethora of stories that I use to walk through the world; they hang in the closet as I contemplate which one looks right with these shoes.  At any moment, I can slip the current story on or off, like my favorite pair of faded old blue jeans…you know, the pair with all the holes. I can slip them down over my thighs and step out of those jeans, those stories. I can take off all those comfortable, familiar garments and stand naked with mySelf. That is what  my ego is worried I will do.

There is a tool I once learned that helps me step out of my stories and into my center. That version of this tool is made of laminated disks.  One laid in the center, aptly called Center, which is the place of no stories, pure spaciousness.  Left and right from center are Self and Other, the places where these stories of who I am and who you are reside.  Forward and behind center are Past and Future, the place of these stories. When I lay out those disks, my ego knows it is in trouble. I get up out of my chair and stand fully in the story I am telling. I feel it…I feel it on my skin, and on my soul. Then I step out of it and into the center of my existence…into a place where there are no stories, not even the ones I am telling that are true. Just because I choose to not define myself with a story doesn’t mean the story isn’t true. I step to the center, a place of pure being where I am not defined, the place of utter innocence and total spaciousness where everything is new, everything is happening for the first time. There is no fetid air to rebreathe here.

The next time you find yourself in a story – a story of your pain, your past, your greatness, your future hopes and fears, or what you think or feel about another – I invite you to try this exercise and see how it feels for you. How does it feel to walk away from that closet of dreams, of responsibilities, of misunderstandings and desire, to be naked with your Self? How does it feel if you don’t tell the story?

 

Image credits:

Hanged One – Pamela Coleman Smith – RWS

Death – Lady Frieda Harris – Thoth

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New Photosynthesis

It was summer 2001.  California was suffering perhaps the largest blackout in history, which started late 2000.  Politicians were all over the news talking about conservation.  It sounded more like an empty prayer for political support than real hope. The US was at war in Afghanistan.

I was listening to a lot of Ani DiFranco, working in an extremely conservative environment, and finding hints of mySelf playing peek-a-boo from behind the walls of a paradigm that wasn’t really mine.

In my usual sardonic tone, this crept out the end of my pen…

New Photosynthesis

The parking lots have begun to photosynthesize
And the air out there, well it smells real nice
A better version of grass has taken hold
But the kids don’t mind cutting it as much as the old
We cut trees away from the power lines
The squirrels and the birds are doing just fine
But the folks in Californ-I-A
Can still only see by the light of day

The man on the hill cries conservation
To a crazy, confused, and misled natioin
Captivated by every word,
Believing the truth is what they heard
But the folks in Californ-I-A
Can still only see by the light of day

The White House is still white
And the politicians are too
At least from what we can see
By the liberating things they do
Equality and freedom were the promise
White christian male the default premise

Thank God for those old blues guys from Mississippi
And the generation that invented the hippie
Or we’d  be up to our ears without any soul, brother
And in a war over a war that was fought for another

Oh yeah, we are.

 

Photo credits:

http://www.pintrest.com, Hippie Movement, pinned from tree-nation.com

My Top 3 Tips for Becoming Perfect

You’re still reading. I bet it’s because you’re either entirely skeptical and want to see what sort of poppycock I’m trying to make you believe, or you’re curiously hopeful that maybe, just maybe, you will be able to shed the shroud of ‘not enough’ and ‘only human’ and step in to that exquisite, perfect self you know is really you.

These are powerful suggestions – unorthodox ideas – and they have the potential to impact your state of perfection by the mere reading alone. However, as with most tips, hints, and how-tos, they find their fullest potency when lifted from the page and carried into daily life. I invite you to try them on for size, take them for a test drive, dress in them for a day – or two. Take what you find helpful, make it your own, re-word, re-order, re-shape the ideas so they fit like your favorite pair of jeans, then step on in and walk around.

These tips are presented like a countdown, and without further ado:

Tip #3: [Don’t] Make Mistakes

In Drum! Magazine’s December 1999 issue, drummer Cindy Blackman quotes Art Blakely as saying, “If you don’t make a mistake you’re not trying.” Personally I have an aversion to the word ‘try’, but maybe that’s another story. Instead of worrying about making mistakes, looking foolish, or casting shadows…live from your heart – be courageous.

My understanding of the origins of the word courage [OF. Corage, curage, fr. Cuer (F. coeur), fr. L. cor heart.] has shaped my definition of courage as living from my heart..

If you make a mess that needs cleaning up – clean it up. I used to tell my kids “people don’t get mad at you for making messes, they get mad because they don’t want to have to clean it up.” If you clean up your own messes, it’s really ok to make them! Life is messy.

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When the mess leaks in to someone else’s space….it’s ok! Everyone has areas of struggle and often a reaction to your mess is an indicator of those struggles [or successes]. It’s not a statement about YOU. That doesn’t mean we’re absolved from the being able to choose our response1  – from being responsible­ – for our mess. What it does mean is that we don’t have to shrink ourselves down to some very small version that never bumps in to anybody.

The reason we can’t see ourselves as perfect is because we have a distorted view of perfection and inaccurate criteria for determining mistakes.

Understand what mistakes are and how to identify them when they happen. Too often mistakes are defined as some negative outcome, some wrong action, some flawed state of being. According to my 1940 Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, a mistake is a misconception. It’s when we see something other than how it is. It is a mistake to see ourselves as flawed. It is a mistake to view other people as flawed. It is a mistake to judge some situation as flawed. Judgments are that: judgments. They are not the inherent Truth of that which we are judging.

Tip #2 Be Authentic

Bring on your weirdness, embrace your quirks, honor your crazy. JUST BE YOU. You were created by design. Perfection is supreme trust in the Universe – God doesn’t make mistakes…or junk. Bring 100% of who you are to the table.

YOU is what this world desperately needs.

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Percentages are relative – a relationship between the part and the whole. 100% is whole. The whole is WHO YOU ARE; the part is who you are in this moment.  How much of yourself do you bring to each moment?  100%? 72%? All of you…except those parts you think aren’t beautiful?

Giving 100%, doing your best, being authentic, means making the part match the whole.  It means bringing ALL of you to EVERY moment.   You, in this moment, are whole…even if in this moment you are thinking about yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. Even if in this moment you think you are not perfect. And, if 100% today is 50% of what it was yesterday, that’s ok. Lay down the harsh judgments of yourself.

Perfection is the state of ultimate  acceptance, especially self-acceptance. 

Imagine you do what you do – art, write, music, therapy, teach – whatever it is, and you happened to create the best masterpiece of your entire life. And imagine that by some strange circumstance your masterpiece took on a life of it’s own and was able to talk to you…and with its words it told you how flawed it is, pointed out every little detail that you missed, and implored you to fix these shortcomings.  At some point, without a doubt, I know that I would scream in frustration:

“I meant to do that!!!” 

What if our creator feels the same way?

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Be who you are, all of it, even the parts you don’t deem worthy and see as flawed. You were made by design, after all.

And the most important tip I can give you about becoming perfect…

Tip #1 Realize that you already are…

Perfection has been perverted to mean some unachievable, external state of being…something apart from who we are. Human values vary from culture to culture, and with those values so do the measures of perfection, and the standards to which we hold ourselves.

Perfection is finding beauty and meaning – and the possibility of purpose – in our ‘mistakes’ and ‘shortcomings’. 

We’ve been culturally conditioned to believe that seeing ourselves as perfect is arrogant, or some form of megalomania – a disordered mental condition in which the patient has grandiose delusions (Webster’s, 1940). The belief that we were born bad and will never measure up is insidious. Quit buying it!

I love my dictionary, with actual word meanings rather than definitions that reflect common usage.

Perfect, adj.

  • 1. Having all the properties naturally belonging to it; complete; sound  2. Exact; precise; as, the perfect hexagon; pure; utter; as, perfect red.

You have all of you, everything you were given. You are whole. You are exactly who you are and, being authentic, you are utterly YOU.  What could be more perfect than that?

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The only flaws you have are the ones you think you have. Look in the mirror. See the beauty that you are. Be whole – there is no greater perfection than you are right now. Or… right now. Or… right now.

 

Image credits:

Spilled milk klockworkkugler.com

Footnotes:

1. The definition of responsible as ‘the ability to choose one’s own response’ is from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey.

My Secret Love of Playing in the Mud

I find great comfort with my hands in the dirt, the earthy musky scent feels like home and carries me away to some place that never was and always is.  You know, it never occurred to me until today that my love of mud might be inescapable. I have a Capricorn sun and a Cancer moon/rising. Both strong in their element, Earth and Water combine, their life force the essence of who I am.

No story about the love of mud would be complete without the rain-soaked gardening-turned-mud-fight expedition. It hadn’t rained in forever. Honestly I was tired of they dry. I was also tired of watering the garden with chlorinated city water. One evening, while cultivating, as all good gardeners do…pulling weeds, trimming back dead foliage, and communing with the dirt, I decided to do a rain dance. And dance and pray I did. Such was my conviction, my ecstasy; my husband couldn’t help but join me. As we danced the skies darkened. Bree (the names have been changed to protect the innocent) came out to join us….she was 8 or 9 at the time. The rain came, and boy did.it.come. Instead of running for shelter we continued to dance and play, and in our play we became muddy messes. Once we were already muddy it didn’t really matter, the mudslinging began.

I am so tempted to say “ and it wasn’t your garden-variety mudslinging either….”, but that would be cheesy, so I will refrain.

We laughed and threw mud, dodging and hiding around the various garden florae. I think Bree was in a state of wild shock. Not only were we letting her play in the rain and mud, but actually encouraging it. As our fun and laughter found its way to a natural end, we shed our mud and rain soaked clothes and streaked for the house.

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Maybe it started when I was a kid, I don’t even remember how old. I spent some time growing up with my grandparents, and even after I was re-united with my mother and we moved to Pennsylvania, I spent many summers in that small Arkansas town from which I hail. My cousins and I loved to play in the dirt….no, not dirt. Mud. I have no idea how we did it, but we convinced my grandmother to carry a 5 gallon bucket of water out to the edge of the driveway, where we spent many afternoon playing in the mud.

My grandparents, on my mother’s side, lived outside of town. In fact, when I was a teenager we lovingly called it BFE. If you’re not sure what BFE stands for:

Urban dictionary says it means: Out in the middle of fucking nowhere. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=BFE

It took at least 30 minutes to get to town, and doing so was a grand adventure. We traveled several miles down a dirt road, the old wooden single car bridges, with boards barely wide enough for tires, always enchanted me. Ah, but I digress.

My grandmother would carry buckets of water, when we could convince her to, out to the edge of the driveway. My cousins and I made all sorts of mud beings, but our favorite was mud pies. Not the mud pies your mother warned you about….these were completely organic made only from the freshest ingredients, by hand, that day. Sometimes we even taste-tested them. One day we thought it would be a wonderful idea to rub the mud over our entire bodies.

Being from a very unaware and racist south, it wasn’t such a big deal to do what we thought of next….our grandmother and my aunt were walking back from the garden just as we had finished adorning ourselves with the finest mud a 5 gallon bucket of water and a dusty driveway can make. We ran up to them, so excited about our clever idea we could hardly contain ourselves.

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“Look grandma! Look! We are little colored children!” “Hush your mouths!” my grandmother and aunt admonished, half laughing and desperately looking around to make sure nobody heard.  Looking back I’m not sure if they were more concerned with the unveiling of a family’s racist mindset, or embarrassed that we would associate ourselves as such people.  Either way, nobody could hear! Remember…

We were in BFE.

Thank goodness I’ve outgrown the mindset that sees nothing wrong with having fun at someone else’s unthinkable expense, and being totally oblivious to the attitudes it perpetuates.

Dare I tell you the story about camp??

I was an adult this time, still just as full of wonder and adventure and silly desires as ever, on a wild adventure in southwest Missouri.  A group of folks gathered to unpack the story of Mary Magdalene, to use it as a magnifying glass, blowing up some piece of our lives so we could see ourselves more clearly. There were many paths to follow, many aspects of the story to embrace. I chose the Sex Path. Don’t giggle. It’s not what you’re thinking… It was a path about finding our authentic “yes” and our emboldened, honest “no”. It was a path about shedding culturally indoctrinated norms to find the values that were really ours. It was empowering and liberating at the same time.

And…

We did Mud People.

Mud People is an exercise involving cosmetic mud, varying degrees of nudity, and the practice of asking for and giving permission. We gathered tentatively and excitedly by the mud that had been strategically placed in a small grove of trees near the back edge of the land, ideally located next to a cool, flowing creek. The instruction was to be as clothed or unclothed as we were comfortable, and to have fun creatively, tenderly, playing in the mud…always asking for very specific permission before we painted anyone else. “May I rub mud on your left shoulder?” And as the recipient, taking a moment to notice what was happening within us, was there a gentle discomfort? A slight unwillingness? Or did our “yes” come from a place of desire for connection, authenticity, playfulness? It was so empowering, so vulnerable to ask and be willing to hear the answer, not as a message about me rather as a message about the other person’s comfort or trying on their newly empowered “no”.  When we were done, we went to the creek and, in the same caring, tender, boundary-honoring manner, we helped each other wash the mud away.

And honestly, it was so much FUN playing in the mud!

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And that, dear reader, is the story of my secret love of playing in the mud.

 

 

Photo credits in order of first appearance:

http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/8Tx_2Pktxby/Michigan+Kids+Celebrate+Annual+Mud+Day+Festivities/KHA7l8yVkha

http://www.nbclosangeles.com

http://www.mdolla.com/2015/02/bloco-da-lama-is-brazil-mud-party-18.html

 

Hear the Call

“Your nakedness is medicine.  My medicine.” Is that what I heard her say? Did I really write all that? Naked. That’s for sure… But, if I don’t lay my heart on the line, who will? If I don’t create space for vulnerability and deep connection, who will? If I don’t shed layer after layer of pretty – socially acceptable – nice – who will? These are mine to do. And, though it scares me to death, knowing what’s mine to do is the force that drives me, the fire in my belly, that hunger of my soul that will not be denied.

I have heard the call…the knock at the door still ringing in my ears. The knock at the door that caused a tremor in my being, an instant fear that froze me where-I-stood.  I have heard the knock at the door… that I can no longer deny. Once the knock is heard, there are only two choices. The knock is like a fork in the road. I either answer or I stay very still, very quiet, and pretend I’m not home. Held captive, immobilized by fear, I’m left continually wondering if the call is waiting on the other side of my door, waiting for some sign of life, waiting for some reason to keep knocking.

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Fear is there. That part is given. Do I turn toward it, offering my most fierce compassion? Or am I held captive? I have heard the knock at the door and, my friend, I answered. What I didn’t know, what I couldn’t have expected, is that by turning toward the fear a seed of courage took sprout. That tiny sprout laid its roots deeply in my heart and there it still grows with wild abandon, giving my heart more reach than it has ever known, pushing past self-constructed walls, breaking through real and imagined barriers.

Courage grows rampantly, first creating one small crack, then another and another until an opening – like a beam of light through a break in the clouds – is made. As if my heart were a substance governed by the same laws that govern gases, it expands to fill the container, the container that now is no container at all. Where once I feared expanding into oblivion, now I dance those streets in ecstasy.

I heard the knock at the door, and I answered…

It’s My Pleasure…

Pleasure.  Pleasure in my life.  Pleasure in my creative process.  Where does pleasure come from?  What does it mean to find pleasure in some thing or act?

My first thought is of physical pleasure…that very earthy, almost tangible joy I derive from my body’s sensations: the tingle of a lover’s touch, the warm embrace of a dear friend, butterflies in my belly, a really great massage, a super comfy pair of lounge pants after a long day dressed more formally, a savory meal that delights all of my senses, the sun on my skin…especially after a long winter.

Pleasure, however, is inherently an emotional and spiritual experience – the experience beyond physical stimulation, reaching deeper than my senses: expansiveness and connection created by a spiritual practice, the sensation that floods me, growing from deep in my center, when I am of meaningful service to another human being or to life itself, immersion in the flow when I am fully engaged in my creative process; when I am playing for the song…  Where does that pleasure come from?  How can I experience more pleasure – giddiness – excitement -sheer joy – deep satisfaction?

Understanding what brings me pleasure is key to cultivating pleasurable experiences.

I cannot consider pleasure one dimensionally.  In this multi-dimensional world there are at least two sides to every coin.  When I think about pleasure, invariably I also consider pain.  Pain, the places where I get stuck, whether they be in my creative process or life in general – stuck in a pattern, stuck in an attitude, stuck in some emotional prison.  Being the other side of the coin,  pain is the inverse of pleasure.  When I understand where or why I’m stuck, when I understand the source of my pain, I can shift from reaction to compassion, from reaction to response-ability.

Understanding what brings me pain is key to mitigating painful experiences.

When I contemplate the experiences in my life that brought and bring me pleasure – the times I am open, engaged, immersed in the beloved flow and when I contemplate the experiences in my life that brought and bring me pain – the times I am contracted, apathetic, fighting against that infernal ebb, my awareness is shifted to a similarly inverse relationship: opportunity versus obligation.

Being the human that I am, I have a natural resistance to obligation.  I resist demands on my time, energy, heart, creativity – any of my resources.  Whether the obligation generates internally or externally, it has the same effect: resistance.

Obligations manifest themselves as shoulds: should exercise, I should eat healthily, I should develop a spiritual practice, I should be of service, I should  be happy.  Oh…if only I had a nickel for every internal or external “I should be happy”….well, you know the saying!  Obligations manifest themselves as previously made commitments.  I said I would and now I am obligated.   Obligations manifest themselves in the form of expectations: expecting others to meet some need of mine – a need for consistency, trust, safety, love, self-esteem.  I oblige my pleasure, my happiness, to your willingness, availability, and awareness.

Oblige: to put under binding contract  (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 5th Edition,  1940)

All of these manifestations chip away at the pleasure inherent in every choice.  Every choice is born from obligation…. or opportunity.

Who doesn’t love a great opportunity?!  Everything in my life was born from a choice that I made.  Understanding that concept is the epitome of personal responsibility and freedom.  When I am free, I experience pleasure.  When I enter consciously into the choices I make, fully aware that I want to make them, fully aware that the experiences I choose are an exercise in mitigating pain and cultivating pleasure, I give myself the opportunity to derive the greatest pleasure from my choices.

 

I have the opportunity to love the way my body feels when I exercise, when I have been exercising, when I am strong and flexible; when I have the opportunity to pursue other pleasures without the limits of a neglected body.  I create the opportunity to experience self-love when I make healthy food choices, when I prepare a wholesome meal for myself.   I find great pleasure in the opportunity to experience the expansion and connection born from my spiritual practice.  I have the opportunity to witness the softening and gratitude that dances across another humans face when they feel important enough to have been cared for; when I have been of service in a meaningful way.  I have the opportunity to choose happiness in the face of adversity and move through life with joy and peace.  I get to feel the lengthening of my spine and the power of being able to look people in the eye when I either follow through on my commitments, or make response-able, alternative arrangements.  I get to experience great pleasure from your presence, and even greater pleasure from your love and esteem when my ok-ness and worth don’t hang in the balance.

Can you feel the subtle difference in your body when you shift from I should to I get to….from I have to, to I want to?

When it comes to my own creative process, when I sit down with a piece because I should, because I need to, because I’m obligated, I often experience the frustration and pain of stuck-ness.  If I seize any of the opportunities for self-love and pleasure listed above, I can often move from stuck to flow.  When I fixate on the outcome, whether it’s the finished painting, poem, blog post, or process and product of coaching, I imprison creativity and block flow.  When I am playing for the song….the opportunity to engage for the joy of engaging, fully connect with my muse in service to the connection…I am immersed in flow.  In that immersion is indescribable pleasure.

 

Time For Love — Ideas for working self-love into the over-extended schedule

I did it!  I signed up.  Even with my already over-extendedschedule, it was something I couldn’t resist. “The Blog Your Heart Out Challenge” starting on Valentine’s Day 2015 was calling my name.  I have never written a blog before, but with my intention to develop a website devoted to putting my writing, art, and personal evolution out for the world…it seemed like a good idea. So, I signed up.

The very first challenge, Grounding Your Writing in Self-Love, asked us to write for 10minutes creating a list of what we do, or would like to do, that is truly nourishing for our creative spirit, body, and heart.  When finished, we were to select 1-3 of the practices we were willing to commit to for the 2 week Blog Your Heart Out Challenge. Knowing I was going to select 1 -3 practices to do every day created resistance in me.  I know all too well the demands on my time already, and committing to adding more to my schedule felt like more than I could do.  More than I really even wanted to think about.  However, I did sign up for this.  I know there is something to be gained from meeting my resistance head-on.  I have faith in the process.  I started my list.

I am fully aware of the importance of self-care, the revolutionary power of self-love.  And,somehow, in the busy-ness of my every day, that is the ONE thing that gets sacrificed on a regular basis.  The very thing that sustains me, opens the channel to my muse, powers my creativity,gives me the strength to face a relentless to-do list, keeps me calm and centered, and cultivates my ability to connect with others through first connecting with myself is the very thing I so easily cast aside with the “I don’t have time” mantra I find myself constantly chanting.  “There are only so many hours in the day,” I tell myself, attempting to ease the pain of my own neglect.  I discovered that my resistance to this exercise was actually an act of self-love, protecting me from further over-extension.  However, the intention of this resistance and the impact were incongruent.  I need self-love to be effective in every other thing I do.  There had to be a way to meet both needs – the need to protect myself from further over-extension and the need to incorporate self-love practices.

What occurred to me during this 10 minute exercise was a more poignant awareness of the importance of self-love, a more heartbreaking awareness of how easily dismissed this practice is in my life, and, most importantly, the possibility that self-love does not have to take dedicated blocks of time.  The practice of self-love, I discovered, can be simple gestures, divine intention draped over a mundane task, easily incorporated with what I already do.

Believing that others might also struggle with the practiceof self-love and self-care, and curious if they too may have no idea how to fit the practice in an already over-full schedule, I decided to share some ideas of how I will incorporate this practice in my life.  Maybe these ideas will create a crack in the paradigm of ‘not enough time’ and generate some creative ideas of how you can add self-love practice to your life, without adding to your to-do list.

·     Add some intention to my daily shower, washing away stories that don’t serve me, negativity, and other stressors.

·     Make a little altar to myself, maybe on my dresser with its grand mirror.  Maybe leave tokens or gifts for myself.  Take amoment to                  light a candle and catch my own glance.  Just a moment.

·     NVC Body Scan. Take a moment, especially lying in bed before I drift off to sleep, to scan my body for any tension, pain, or area that grabs my attention.  Ask it what it’s trying to tell me, what its name is, what it’s born from.  See ifthere is a feeling living there, born from some unmet need.  And then ask what I can do to help meet the need.

·     For at least one meal a day, be fully present to my meal.  No multi-tasking, no reading, answering emails, occupation with my to-do list, some unresolved interaction,or whatever else may be running around my mind. Be fully present.  Notice the aesthetics of my plate, the aroma of the food, the taste and texture that explode in my mouth, and the nourishment my body feels from the feast.

·     Imbue the task of housework with an ambiance of self-love, creating space that nurtures my serenity and sense of well-being, rather than the attitude of “something I have to do” and “just get it done”.

·     Get enough sleep.  My schedule is very demanding and what I know about myself is if I don’t get 7 hours of sleep, I am emotionally incapable of dealing with the pressures of daily life. I become overwhelmed, intensely negative, and lose my ability to cope.

Hopefully this crack in my paradigm of ‘not enough time’ will grow, and my awareness will flood with more ways to incorporate self-love as a daily intention and way of moving through my to-do list.

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stay awake, stay wild, stay amazed