Hello, love. So I’ve been thinking. Like a lot.
I’ve been thinking about how I’m turning 39 in a few months, and about how I’m not anywhere I expected to be in my life and how I don’t have a retirement plan or a living trust or a fancy 401K, and how I have too many dogs and my house is always a mess and my kids need clean laundry and the lawn needs mowed and there’s that cabinet door that needs fixed, and what if the sky turns black and my nose falls off???
Well, not really that last bit. But you get the idea.
I often feel largely on my own. A single mama on a single income trying to take care of work and life and a house and kids and furbabies. It can get overwhelming being one person responsible for so many things. But I know that’s life, and I know you are dealing with yours, too. And I also know this:
I don’t believe in anything but myself. Because no one is coming to save me. I am my own hero. My own rescuer. And this requires great faith sometimes. And courage.
I’ve never been much of a risk-taker. I’ve always played the safe bets, curbed my impulsivity for the responsible choices. And here’s what I’ve learned:
It doesn’t matter.
Seriously. The outcomes of the safe choices have been just as unpredictable as the outcomes of the more risky ones. And the more risky ones have made me happier in the long run.
Overwhelm leads us to think we are limited. That our reserves are depleted. That we can’t take one more bad day. But I’ve also learned a thing or two about this – we can always do one less thing than we think we have to. And we can always do one more thing than we thought we were capable of.
So, my dear goddess, here is my advice for you today. Do the things you want to do. Take the risks. Buy the shoes. Fill up your soul bucket. Leave the job. Take the one instead that makes your heart sing. Downsize. Simplify. Tell fear to take a hike. When things don’t work, you’ll figure it out.
But I know what you’re thinking. What if I fall?
And my answer to you, my darling, is what if you fly?
Sometimes, my love, you have to just take the leap and grow your wings on the way down.
And I know you will. You have big things to accomplish. BIG.
Hugs and kisses,
“Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks in it.” -David Foster Wallace
Warning, my loves: this is a deep share.
I have been considering this post for awhile. I have been considering not posting it at all. But something nudged me inside and said, “You aren’t the only one. You don’t know who needs this.”
And so, here it is. A story.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, I was a broken, sad, chronically depressed soul. So depressed, in fact, that I (for a brief, fleeting moment) considered what it would be like for everyone around me if I just didn’t exist anymore.
It was October, simultaneously the saddest and most beautiful month of the year. I was experiencing recurring long, dark nights of the soul, night after night, week after week. There were explanations to my best friend Michael about how those marks got on my arms. There were 3:00 AM phone calls to my other best friend Jessica, who would patiently listen to my sobbing. Who would pound my door down the following day because I wouldn’t answer anyone’s calls or texts. Who finally one morning forced me into her car and drove me to the nearest mental health facility so I could be evaluated to prevent any chance of further self-harm.
Yes. That was me. Once upon a time.
However. There are very, very important lessons hidden between the pages of sorrow, my dear goddesses. And sometimes it takes the wisdom of soul friends to show you what they are.
There is a moment I recall more often than any other when I think about this sad and lonely time.
I was exhausted. I was tired of being strong, tired of finding myself in the same story of endings over and over again.
And I had come to believe that I wasn’t even good for my children anymore. That I had nothing to offer them.
Nothing to offer them.
I actually said this to myself.
And then, once, I said it out loud. Through tears and desolation, I admitted this to one of my closest and wisest friends.
He listened patiently while I cried, then spoke words that saved me.
He said, “Do you think your children will have an easy life? Do you think everything will always come easily to them?”
I paused. Thought for a moment. “No,” I replied.
“Do you think when things get really hard, they will go to their dad for advice? Their dad, who has never experienced this rock-bottom desperation? Who isn’t as emotionally intuitive as you are? Who never needed to learn how to admit to himself that things were beyond his control and how to ask for help?”
I paused again. “No,” I replied again.
“This is your gift to them. This is the purpose, the meaning to your suffering. You think, right now, that you have nothing to offer them. But someday, this experience – your advice, your loving guidance, your understanding of isolation and sadness and how to survive the most devastating times of your life, will be the greatest thing anyone could offer them.”
And that, my dear ones, is what saved me.
It’s still something I think about regularly. Cataloguing my lessons in difficulty as a sort of compendium of wisdom to hand off to my children. Turning my pain into power so that I can show them how to say “Eff You” to a world that isn’t always fair.
Falling down. And getting up.
Healing. Loving. Winning.
So this is my nugget of wisdom to you, my sisters. When sorrow creeps into your bedchambers and infuses you with doubt and fear, remember this: the darkest nights produce the brightest stars.
What you have to offer is exactly what the world needs right now.
You are a warrior goddess. Let’s go show them how it’s done.
In love and solidarity,
So here it is, goddesses. An unpretty but honest look at something to which we can all relate: judgment.
There, I said it. The j-word. But hear me out for a minute, and then I promise we can pretend this never happened.
Yesterday I was driving home with my son, a fourth-grader, after school and the conversation went something like this:
“Mom, do you think this drawing looks like a wolf?”
(An aside: the drawing looked nothing like a wolf. More like a squirrel-pig. On crack. But endearing, nonetheless).
“Wow! Yeah! This is awesome, buddy. Good job!”
His expression fell. “My friends all said it looked like a pig.”
(Reminder: it looked like a pig. A squirrel-pig.)
This is one of those moments that make parenting seem like a contact sport. Say the wrong thing and there is a very good chance someone will get tackled.
So I thought for a moment and then gave my reply. “What do you think would happen if you asked your friends to draw a wolf too? Do you think they would do better?”
He stared pensively out the window and said quietly, “Probably not. Josh can’t even draw a person.”
“Okay, so there you go. It doesn’t matter what they say. If they can’t do better than you, then you win.”
Let me repeat: If they can’t do better than you, then you win.
If they don’t pay your bills, you win.
If they don’t do your work, you win.
If they didn’t spend nine months and 14 long, excruciating hours in labor with your child, you win.
If they don’t answer to your dark-night-of-the-soul demons, you win.
Sometimes people like to pass off judgment as criticism. Be very careful of this, as one is easily disguised as the other, and only the most sage wisewoman can tease out the difference. Are you ready for it? Here it is.
Criticism, delivered appropriately, can be constructive. It can be a springboard for growth. It can be healing.
Judgment, on the other hand, is rarely anything but a way to make you feel less.
So here’s what I want you to do: when you are feeling judged, and it makes you feel less, remember this one thing.
A person who judges does not define that which they judge. They define themselves as someone who judges.
That’s it. It’s not about you. It never has been.
And you know what that’s called?
Your mantra, should you choose to accept it: “Do no harm. But take no shit.”
(And if you wouldn’t let them into your home, don’t let them into your head).
Now get out there and rock your life with abandon, girlfrand. You win.
So sorry for the technological inconvenience my loves! Here is the download I promised until my Selz link is up and running tomorrow. Enjoy!
I don’t know about you, love, but when I was growing up it was unacceptable, both socially and in my immediate nuclear family, to get angry. Good girls didn’t get angry – good girls bit their tongues, stayed quiet, didn’t rock the boat.
So I learned a more socially acceptable form of coping for a
girl – I cried. A lot. I was labeled sensitive, anxious, worried. But never angry. Oh, no. I made sure of that. No one ever heard what I really thought.
It wasn’t until my adulthood that I finally realized what a heavy burden it was to carry around my unspoken anger. I started to experiment a little. I started asking myself important questions like:
“I wonder what would happen if I said no?”
“I wonder what would happen if I wasn’t always the nice girl?”
“I wonder what it would feel like to just let all these words I wanna say fall out of my mouth?”
Here’s what I learned. People who think they know you will be shocked. The role you’ve been filling in your relationships will be challenged. You’ll be told you are acting bitchy, or like someone’s ex-wife, or unfeminine, or unreasonable. You’ll be called difficult, or worse, you’ll be tuned out completely.
Ah, but this is the most important part. If you want to grow as a woman, as the goddess you are, you must be willing to practice and master the art of disappointment.
You can go your entire life without disappointing a single soul – and chances are you will be miserable. The weight of living your life to please others is crippling in the end. Even the Dalai Lama gets angry – he’s admitted it. So there you go. If it’s acceptable for one of the greatest spiritual and enlightened souls of all time to admit to anger, there’s your green light.
First things first – I’m not saying all anger is justified. And I’m not condoning temper tantrums. The key is learning to deal with anger calmly and productively. But it’s important to recognize the most common hot button anger triggers for women who feel a sense of oppression surrounding their lives:
Struggling with saying no, even when she doesn’t have anything left to give.
Feeling misunderstood and/or judged.
Having a sense that no one really knows the true person she is.
Feeling powerless to change her situation.
Feeling taken for granted.
The pressure of feeling like it’s expected of her to be happy and positive all the time.
In order to honor our higher selves and to evolve into the fullest expression of our powerful, strong, goddess selves, it’s time to become cozy bedfellows with our anger.
RULE #1. Anger is okay. Misuse of anger is not.
It is not okay to hurt people. It is not okay to be violent. It is not okay to be disgraceful or tactless or unfair. Period.
RULE #2. Are you sure about what you’re sure about?
Be careful that your anger is warranted. Anytime we feel angry stirrings, it’s important to really sit with them. Evaluate what it is that is so upsetting to you and make sure that you are clear about your reasons. We tell ourselves stories all the time about situations, people, circumstances . . . make sure you aren’t jumping the gun on something before your anger takes root. Were you having a bad day already? Were you feeling stressed? Exhausted? Overwhelmed? Check in with yourself first.
There is a story I like to share about a young Native American woman who was feeling rather discontented with her life and didn’t know what to do with her frustration. She went to the village elder and asked for guidance. The wise elder replied, “First you must go to the waters. Wade into the river and be mindful. When the water is still, you will have your answers.”
So the young woman listened to the wise man and walked to the river. She stood in the water and tried to focus her mind. The ripples continued to move about her legs, the birds flew overhead, the fish swam by, the trees bowed their branches in the breeze. But she received no messages.
Frustrated, she visited the elder once more. “It didn’t work,” she said.
“Then you must try again,” he replied.
Unconvinced, the young woman went to the river once more. And again, she left without the answers she craved.
Consulting her elder once more and getting the same advice yet again, she became angry. She had already tried his advice and it was certainly not working. Nonetheless, she trudged her way to the waters once more.
This time, however, as she stood watching her reflection, she realized what anger had done to her countenance. She could see the furrowed brow, the frown lines of her face – she barely recognized herself. And then something became clear – the only person her frustration was hurting was herself.
She continued to watch the water. The ripples continued to flow. The birds continued their movement. The fish continued to swim by her feet. Nothing had changed. And nothing would. The waters would never become still. These were things that were out of her control. All she could control was her thinking – that was the only thing she could change. Her expression softened, her anger abated, and she got very clear with herself: she could only find the answers to her discontentment within, not without.
Moral of the story: be mindful of your thoughts, because thoughts are things. There will be situations you cannot change, so is what you are angry about within your control? If so, change it. If not, release it. You are only burning yourself by holding onto the hot coals of anger. Always be sure about the truth of every situation before you let it get the best of you.
RULE #3. Just because someone has been part of your life forever doesn’t mean they are good for you.
Some people are energy vampires. Some people are toxic. Some people are just mean (more on this in another blog).
And some people . . . well, some people just aren’t good for you.
I am giving you permission, right now, this very moment, to be free of the guilt you probably feel when you finally admit to yourself that your sibling/parent/family friend does not bring out the best in you, and vice versa. This person may actually be hurting you, holding you back, making you feel less of yourself, dimming your light. Here’s what you have to tell yourself, and perhaps even the person you are thinking of: In order to honor yourself and the relationship you have had up until now, you need to put some distance between the two of you for awhile (or permanently) to preserve your sense of peace and purpose.
Remember that most people in our lives say or do hurtful things out of their own limitations – 99.9 percent of the time they’re operating from their own emotional constraints. Rarely is it a reflection of you – it is most often a reflection of where they are in their emotional maturity.
One of my favorite quotes is this: “Before you go diagnosing yourself as depressed or angry, first make sure you are not, in fact, surrounded by assholes.”
Truth. And think of it this way – by allowing people to treat you in a way that is not comfortable for you, you are not doing them any favors in helping them along their own path of learning. By enabling them to make you feel sad and angry, you are giving them power for the wrong reasons and depriving them the opportunity to discover their own limitations and make changes that will help them grow on their journey as well.
Above all, remember dearest, feeling angry is a normal emotional response. How you deal with it either gives you power or takes it away.
And one thing a goddess NEVER, EVER does, at all costs, is give away her power.
Because you are beautiful and strong and radiant beyond measure.
In love and goddess solidarity,
Hello, Dear One.
I don’t know what happened, but I know at some point, perhaps out of love, you made yourself beautifully vulnerable. You opened your heart to possibilities, and something exquisite happened to you during that time. But then – something else happened that shook you to your core. A betrayal, perhaps. Maybe you trusted someone who hurt you. Maybe you got so busy taking care of wayward travelers that you forgot to watch where you own feet landed. Maybe winter crept in when you thought you still had more time. Maybe everything to which you had grown attached was taken away from you.
So here you are. Uncertain how to cope with this broken spirit. You have stopped listening to your inner guide. You have grown weary and afraid. You have locked your heart up tightly to protect your vulnerability. The nightfall no longer shelters your dreams, but instead your fears. And you are looking for a way out.
Come on over by the fire and grab a blanket. Let me offer you some comfort. Sometimes it just helps to hear a friend say “Yes, I know. Me too.”
Life isn’t fair. Here are some thoughts that help me deal. Maybe they will help you too.
Goddesses don’t react – they respond. Because there are always possibilities. You always have a choice. Reaction is instinctual. Response is a choice. Often we react quickly and without thinking because we feel threatened, or because we feel that we have been left without options. Next time something seems unfair, try to pause for a moment before your emotions get the best of you (I know, easier said than done). Put your situation in context. Instead of saying “I can’t . . .” rephrase your sentence to “How can I . . .?” Options. Possibilities. They are always there. I promise.
Goddesses own it – bad luck and all. Recognize that this isn’t necessarily happening TO you in a singled-out-by-the-Universe sort of way – it’s just happening. We often resort to blame-shifting when things don’t go our way. We blame circumstances, our upbringing, even our loved ones. But if you step back and witness life with honest eyes, you might see that this unfairness isn’t a cruel joke at your expense played by the cosmos, but more likely just an unlucky situation that could happen to anyone. In which case, acceptance of your circumstances becomes much easier. And once you’ve accepted it, you will be equipped with the personal power to put things in context and make whatever necessary changes are required to take ownership of your life.
Ask yourself, “what is being called forth in me?” Ohhhhhhh, this is a tough one, dearest. But often what seems unfair is the catalyst to our personal growth. You must reach into your depths – to your deepest reserves – and realize that no one is coming to save you. You must save yourself. Rid yourself of entitlement and co-dependence. Remind yourself that you are powerful beyond measure. Goddesses know that when they are frightened or uncomfortable, it is a sign they are growing. These times, more than ever, are moments of truth. You can either rise like the phoenix that you are, or go down in flames. Your choice. But you and I both know what you are capable of.
Within you are all of these. Be brave, my love. I believe in you.
Big bear hugs,
There is no beginning too small. Don’t get overwhelmed. Do the simple things first. Keep moving.
If it isn’t fun, do something different.
Don’t aim for balance. Aim for harmony.
Be happy where you are. Acceptance, not resistance. Always.
See what you believe. Perspective is everything.
Prayer is talking. Meditation is listening.
Challenge your beliefs (when they no longer fit the person you have become).
Go ahead. Walk away. Just because someone shares your home or your DNA or has just been part of your life forever doesn’t mean they are good for you. Remember what you deserve.
Play for one hour every day.