Mother Nature…You’re One Sly Mama

Were you like me…mesmerized by the Weather Channel for the first time in your life last weekend? Consumed…watching this massive, spiraling red, green and yellow blob as it slowly inched its way through the Caribbean and then slid up Cuba before ransacking Florida and creating havoc for millions of Americans across the Southeast?

Family and friends, fellow American brothers and sisters, being stalked by a slow-moving monster…nowhere to run…like waiting for a spanking from your parent and knowing it’s going to be the spanking of your life. And to add insult to injury, your wounds haven’t even begun to heal from a previous “hurricane spanking” in Houston, just weeks before (Petition: To name hurricanes something other than sweet human names (Examples: Hurricane Hellwrecker and Hurricane I-aint-no-f’in-joke)).

It appears that Mother Nature has had enough.

Quite honestly, I don’t blame her. She has sent warning after warning that we aren’t treating Earth with respect and we haven’t listened…we’ve been environmentally selfish and greedy. From these devastating hurricanes, to Mexico’s strongest earthquake in a century, to flooding in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh (that has claimed almost a thousand lives), and over 100 fires in the Western U.S. and more, Mama’s apparently hit her breaking point and is shaking things up.

Indulge me, if you will. Mother Nature is acting like the alcoholic parent…stalking through the house, throwing crap everywhere, overturning beds, tearing down walls, and kicking everyone’s ass.

In her path is the family that has been at odds and fighting with each other.

Because of her wrath, that family must unify, stop fighting and start working together to survive. You see, my friend, we humans are that family that hasn’t been treating each other or our home with dignity and respect, and Mama is beyond pissed.

Whatever might be creating the latest “breaking news,” which is typically the political dissension in our country or, to keep it real, whatever will get the news more ratings, these storms are forcing us to prioritize and give our disagreements a rest. We, not just the American family, but other human families around the globe, are having to unify…to come together…to start doing what we should have been doing all along…treating the rest of humankind with kindness, compassion and dignity.

Why? Because it’s the right thing to do and because our survival depends on it.

So, a side-effect of these devastating natural disasters is the welcome sight of humanity in action. It’s the sight of people of all cultures and backgrounds caring for each other, our human family coming together for the greater good, and it’s comforting and relieving. And, don’t get me wrong here…it’s come at quite a cost.

Mother Nature is one sneaky woman…creating unity where unity appeared to have left the building.

She “brought it” this time and damn, I have more respect for her than ever (and I already had a butt-ton (that’s a lot)). She’s a badass who has entrusted us with an amazing mansion filled with beautiful landscape, humans, and animals…with water, food, and air, everything we need to live a mind-blowing and incredible life.

So, I for one, would like to bow down in respect to her power and her grace…it could have been worse, AND it was more than enough and is going to take a long time to recover. I’d also like to thank her for creating a reason for every culture and every color to come together and give each other, our human brothers and sisters, a helping hand. I hope and pray that this joining of hands, this show of unity, is the beginning of us putting down our differences and coming together to co-create a world where we can all thrive.

So, thank you Mother Nature for reminding us that it’s an equal opportunity shit storm out here…

That wealth, culture, color, gender, or any other factor that we use to separate us is equally susceptible to the fragility of Your power. And thank you for the wake-up call that we must help and care about each other, because we haven’t been doing a very good job of that.

Lastly, I’d like to send my heartfelt compassion, empathy and prayers to those of you who have been in the direct path of Mother Nature’s devastation, whatever that devastation may be. My hope is that we all keep showing up to support your needs in getting back on your feet during the day and sleeping safely and comfortably in your bed at night.

How Much are You Worth?

What makes you worthy? Is it the color of your skin, how much money you have, who you love, where you were born or live, how much you weigh, or who you do or don’t call your “God?” Let’s raise the stakes…How about if you’re in prison or on parole, or a drug addict, or you have mental illness, or you’re gay or transgender, homeless, orphaned, an immigrant…who did I miss?

Seriously friend, in a world where there is comparison and discrimination at every turn, what makes someone more “worthy” than someone else? Is it a number, a feeling, a birthright, a rite of passage?

Drum roll…Nothing does…No Thing…Nopie…Zero…Nada…Zilch.

Your true “worth” is your “self-worth,” which is all about you and not what you’ve done, who you love, your circumstances, gender, culture, or any other external factor. You have a beating heart and expanding lungs, which means you qualify for the same “worth” as anyone else with those same physiological traits, which mean all humans (#crystalclear).

One of the problems that contributes to this “self-worth dilemma” is that we mostly measure our self-worth by comparing ourselves to others. How many of us emphasize something external or someone else’s successes or failures to validate self-worth? How about, “A lot” (scientific answer).

But true self-worth has nothing to do with any external factor.

It’s not about living in the suburbs or on the streets, having a million dollars or going bankrupt, losing or gaining 20 pounds, being single or in a relationship, not having a car or driving a Range Rover, being fired or getting a promotion. True self-worth is a “who-I-am-right-now…as-is” thingamabob (yes, I was happily surprised that’s a word).

The dictionary defines self-worth as “the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person.”

As a person (not a beautiful, skinny, millionaire…doesn’t say that (and I looked)). Self-worth comes from an intrinsic (within you) force. It’s “how you sense your value.” It’s “how you sense your worth.” It’s all about how you sense and embrace your limitations or perfections.

So, how do we find this “take-me-as-I-am” self-worth?

A great first step would be to determine how you feel about your own worth (money, job, relationship, health, etc.). If you tell yourself, “I am not…as good as, rich as, happy as, etc.” then you have a good indication for where you have low self-worth by comparing yourself to others and thereby rejecting yourself.

If you find some self-worth based on comparing yourself to the struggles of others (i.e. “I’m not rich, but at least I’m not a homeless bum.”), I might offer that this is not self-worth…this is judgment, lack of empathy and maybe just a “tad bit of self-righteousness” (she said with air quotes and a squeaky voice).

Having empathy and compassion for that person in struggle might help you have less self-judgment and find some self-compassion for your own challenges.

That long journey from self-rejection to self-acceptance requires a deep look at where you lost or rejected “You” and a huge dose of self-kindness and self-compassion in the rediscovery-of-self process.

Okay, we’re getting near the end of our time together and I can’t leave without this last bit. If it scares the crap out of you to believe you’re worthy…as worthy as the skinny, rich, confident, or successful person you compare yourself to, try this on for size…tell yourself, “I am not my job, my bank account, my weight, my education, what I did, where I came from, how many “Likes” I got, who I love, or who or what I believe in.”

Then add this, “I am me…awesome and amazing…a beating heart and expanding lungs…a miracle. I am worthy and I am lovable. I am a kind, compassionate, breathing, feeling human being. That’s who I am and that worth is priceless.” Do it again…and again…eventually, you will believe it and your heart will be beyond grateful.

Lastly, the next time you’re with your partner, parent, child, friend, pet or other make-you-feel-good person or animal, give them a big hug and allow yourself to truly “feel how you feel about you.” Worthy? Content? Loved? Lovable? Yes. That “worth” is coming from your heart and maybe, just maybe, by connecting you with someone or something you love, that worth is connecting you to you. There is no price on that worth…I promise.

Self-Doubt is a Mind Game

Do you ever experience self-doubt?

It seems ridiculous to start by asking that question, but I went there anyway…you’re welcome. Expressing your creativity, this jumping in and putting-yourself-out-there, it’s scary stuff. For me it means removing my turtle shell (my vulnerability armor) and doing one last review before hitting the “Publish” button.

At first I experience the joy of accomplishing a new project and I feel fulfilled and proud. And then my inner critic shows up and sends me into a “self-doubt spin” for a few minutes, hours and sometimes even days, all depending on the material that I “published.” “I hope they like it.” “What the hell am I thinking?” “Did I say too much?” “Who do I think I am?”

“There is nothing more vulnerable than creativity. If it’s your art, then it’s something you love…and when you love, you’re vulnerable,” — Brene Brown

Sharing yourself with the world is a balancing act of connecting to how people experience you (their opinion) and not being defined by those opinions…not easy stuff here, my friend. It feels scary as hell sticking your neck out there and speaking about the things that matter…and for those of us doing it, we simply keep doing it. Why? Exactly. Because our “Why’s” are stronger than our fears or doubts.

Our “Why’s” are calling us to speak out, to give more…to express…to show up.

Indulge me here…your self-doubt is your scared mind that’s trying to protect you. It believes that by keeping your life small, predictable and consistent (and controlling you with fear and doubt if you step out too far), you won’t get hurt. And collaborating with your scared mind are your inner critics…doubt, fear, uncertainty, and comparison…all working diligently to keep you afraid and in line.

Good so far? Cool. Now imagine that the remedy for your self-doubt is to do that thing that scares you. It requires “courage,” which emanates and is birthed from your strong and amazing heart, to acknowledge the mind game of self-doubt and keep moving forward anyway.

You see, if you’re moving in the direction of your “Why,” you will be doing new things, which is vulnerable, exciting AND scary. But, because you’ll keep moving through it, your mind game of self-doubt will give way, because your heart always overrules your head (it’s the anatomy chain of command (yes, I made that up)).

Back to me…because self-doubt decided to creep (because it’s creepy) in a few days ago and I felt myself retreating into my turtle shell, I chose to move through it and find some of its benefits (yes, I’m a little crazy…yes, I’m good with it).

What I discovered is that Self-Doubt has great purpose for self-realization.

Here we go…If Self-Doubt is:

  • A Fantasy (a projection of fear, rejection, dread, failure, and judgment…all things that haven’t happened) – Bring yourself back to this very moment and your “Why” (to connect, to serve, to love, to co-create peace, etc.).
  • Fear of Rejection – Find where you might be rejecting yourself. This, in turn, can create a beautiful opening for self-compassion and ultimately, self-acceptance.
  • Disbelief and Distrust– Do some soul-searching for where you lack faith…for where you underestimate the magic of this world and the miracle that you are.
  • Comparing Yourself to Others – Gain insight into how you place others either above (“my hero”) or below you (“that poor soul”).
  • Uncertainty and Lack of Confidence– Engage in some self-compassion and validate the courage you are expressing by jumping in…and then “let go” and trust.
  • Fear of Judgment – Explore where you might judge others for doing exactly what you’re doing, as “judgment” typically is self-projection. See The Good and Not So Good of Judgment (ye ol’ judgment blog).

Okay friend, you have a choice…

If you don’t want self-doubt to knock on your door, stop growing, expanding, contributing, stretching, and constantly challenging your comfort zone. You will stay predictably numb and seemingly comfortable. You will shut the door on your creativity. Your mind might feel safe, your heart and your spirit will feel shattered and rejected…and I guarantee you, self-rejection is much more painful than self-doubt.

But I know you (I’m a wizard) and I know that won’t happen…that’s just not who you are. You challenge yourself, you grow, you expand, you contribute and you constantly kick your own ass into more creativity and less comfort…because that’s who you are and because you care.  As a result, self-doubt knocks on your door, maybe a lot and maybe a little, and you get to celebrate because if you’re not having self-doubt, you’re not pushing your limits.

It’s humanly okay to want to be accepted, liked, acknowledged, and embraced for your ideas and creativity.

If your “Why” is clear and you enjoy what you’re doing, keep doing it and embrace the courage that it takes to keep putting yourself out there. And when self-doubt knocks on your door, thank it for reminding you what a frickin’ badass you are…as it wouldn’t be there if you weren’t showing up and stretching.

Can I get a “Hell yes?” Hell yes.

Taking a Trip…

I got home last night from a quick and fabulous birthday trip to some of the most amazing and beautiful places in the western United States. I know…I’m a lucky girl (for real)! I love seeing new places. I really dislike the “traveling to new places” part of traveling, have high car anxiety, and usually go kicking and screaming but, when I finally arrive at my “travel destination” (I lowered my voice there), it’s usually worth the blood, sweat and tears that “traveling” takes out of me.

One of the many “highs” of seeing new places is that I can avoid the comparison game…the one that my ego plays where it compares whether this experience is “better or worse” than the last time (you know that game, right?). Because the comparison game is off the table with a new place, it’s fresh, exciting (I almost broke out into a dance, too!), and keeps me “in the moment.” It’s probably my favorite part of exploring new places.

I’m curious, playful and welcoming…fully immersed in the moment…taking it all in.

IMG_1720
I wonder why it’s so hard to do this in normal, everyday life? I just answered my own question (you should try this writing thing…it’s very therapeutic). It’s because I’ve labeled it, “normal, everyday life.” Doesn’t that sound exciting? To me neither. It sounds very “ho hum…just me, going through normal, everyday life here…I’ll be okay…”

Now I feel selfish (great…).

Is there such a thing as “normal, everyday life?” Maybe, but I kind of doubt it. It’s pretty much a miracle that my birthday, 276 years ago (yes, I founded the West…it was me) even happened. I’m not sure of the exact percentage (and I doubt humans that even think they know the exact percentage are accurate), but the probability that I was even conceived are like a gazillion to one (which is a lot). In that exact moment a miracle happened, and a “little ME” started growing. There was a bunch of other “little ME’s” that got passed over that day. Apparently, not to brag here, they hadn’t done the prerequisite “being-human” checklist to the Design Team’s satisfaction (mini-lesson: not everyone makes the team every time).

IMG_1748.jpgSo now, many years later, it takes a trip or a new experience for me to fully be in the moment…feeling everything…experiencing every drip of it. And maybe that’s true and maybe it’s just ME, being a little hard on myself (know anything about that?).

What I’ve learned in these two and a half centuries is that this life is amazing and that I’m more grateful today for living than I ever have been.

This is one of the gifts (and there are many…another gazillion) of aging. The older I get, the more I truly live…it’s a trip, I tell ya (little slang thrown in there for effect…you’re welcome). My appreciation for how I experience new places is really me experiencing myself in new places. I have a better appreciation of “ME” these days…new places help illuminate that and I am beyond grateful for that.

IMG_1834So, what’s the lesson here? Great question (you’re super good at this). My “birthday” reminds me that this life and ME in it are miracles of my internal and external world effortlessly colliding together. Many times, I (apparently) take that for granted and move through my day, my “normal, everyday life.” But this life?

It’s not normal…this life is mind-blowing.

This life, the older I get the more I truly believe this, is beyond what our human ego can comprehend…which is why sometimes it takes a trip to a new place to experience beautiful canyons, a lake that is pristine and perfect, big-horned sheep walking up the side of a rocky mountain (where humans need ropes and equipment), majestic beauty in canyon country, and an earth that is far more beautiful and perfect than I can do justice with this blog.

You see, what opening my mind and being fully present in a “new place” does for me is opens my mind and allows me to be fully present with me in the beautiful life that I am living.

What we see is what we project.

So, I took a trip. I let go and “suffered” through my car anxiety to get to a place that taught me that what we see is what we are. Sometimes the Design Team gives us a new experience to wake us up…a little more…to the fact that our internal and external world are one world…a world of perfection.

The Sun is Human Too…

I woke up this morning, semi-excited about the solar eclipse, and did what all good Boy Scouts do…I found the instructions to make an eclipse viewer. I got an empty shoe box, grabbed some aluminum foil, white paper, tape, scissors, and a thumbtack. I finished my duct-taped-together project, and an enthusiastic me went outside to “watch the show.”

And there I stood, like a complete geek, walking in circles, trying to get the little pinhole aligned with the eclipse. People drove by in their cars, seeing the weird lady peering into a shoebox. Me?

I’m focused…I’m trying to get the damn pinhole aligned…I’m on a mission! I’m moving around, tilting my head, and finally see a little glow of a half-moon…and then it’s gone again. After a few minutes of trying it this way and getting a neck ache, I went back inside to find some different instructions (apparently, I am not a Boy Scout), which I did, which worked much better.

So back outside, and I’m sitting on my little lawn chair with my back to the solar eclipse (which just seems weird), watching (through my state-of-the-art viewer) the moon drift over the sun and smother its light.

I’m curious what this eclipse means to me.

I’m told (by many YouTubers, which means it’s true) that this eclipse has significant meaning. Is it a new beginning, as some are saying? Is it an ending to something old, as others profess? Is it a message from a faraway land to bring the world into a deeper consciousness? I’m like, “Whoa…Is it all of that?”

What literally happened today was the sun drifted behind and fell into, for a moment, the moon’s shadow. Metaphorically, I believe sometimes we can give way to the shadow that is trying to make a stand and take over our light. But it’s momentary…the light always comes back to reclaim its natural place in the universe, just as the sun did today. The shadow is still there, but it’s submissive again…it requires the light to survive and can’t dominate…it must shift and move and dodge and adapt to the presence of the light.

There are an extraordinary number of “light-workers” out here who want light, freedom, equality, and a humane, peaceful and loving world.

And sometimes, just like the sun, those of us who want these things for the world fall into the shadow, I believe out of frustration, fear, anger, and a shame that what we’re trying to do isn’t getting through. So, I’m sitting there, looking geekily into an old shoebox and receiving my eclipse lesson for today.

Sometimes even the sun falls into the shadow.

The brightest and most powerful light in the world, the one that keeps us alive and warm…even it, on occasion, falls into the shadow, for a second…and then that amazing and brilliant sun comes out the other side, retaking its rightful place as the light of the universe, while also honoring that the moon also has its purpose. Both are necessary for balance of the universe.

Sometimes it’s not easy staying out of the dark; falling into judgment, fear, criticism, and anger, and eventually projecting that darkness, that thing we’re upset about, outward onto others. I also know that it’s necessary to experience life as it unfolds and understand that, as a “human BEing,” navigating our own perceptions of this life, it will not always be bliss and peaches.

As Carl Jung would say, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

It’s a daily practice of bringing awareness to the darkness, having self-compassion, coming back to center and away from the extremes, and staying the course to co-create the world we envision.

So today, the sun fell into darkness…I guess that makes the sun human too.

Objectification of Women…The Trauma Spiral

Yesterday was a tough day. I felt irritable and edgy…a fogginess, which let me know something deeper than I wanted to feel had been triggered. I let it be and knew that it would reveal itself when the time was right. I woke this morning realizing that some of that deeper stuff was that I had again crossed paths with a previous trauma. I was in the “spin cycle.”

So, how did my trauma cross my path?

It happened when I saw a picture posted on social media, which I interpreted to be sexually objectifying women. Seeing that picture knocked me off center, I froze, and then my heart sank and my head started spinning. I scrolled through some of the comments looking for validation, but mostly noticed virtual high-fives, some sexual comments, and a few people (men and women) stating that it was inappropriate. But me? I’m angry…silent…in shame and pain…there’s no other way around it.

I know what you’re thinking: Nothing has personally happened to me in seeing that picture, right?

That’s true. What did happen was seeing that picture, even though it wasn’t intended, connected me to a trauma. Unfortunately, that’s what happens with sexual jokes about women (“boys will be boys”) and other things, where women are sexually objectified…I’m sensitive…it’s just my reality. It awakens the slumber of the sexual assault that I endured.

“Come on…lighten up. It’s no big deal…I was just kidding.”

Those types of responses only add to the shame and fear, as then I’m told that my reaction, which is subconscious, painful and confusing, is not okay. That picture and the comments delivered a message to me that women are sexual objects to many and that objectifying women is not only funny, it’s normal and acceptable in our society, to both men and women.

And because I’ve had my power stolen from me, I flash back to that powerless feeling and immediately feel threatened, unsafe, afraid, ashamed, and confused. I’m in my personal hell. It can happen as quickly as seeing a picture on my phone. It’s subtle and it’s scary.

Think of trauma this way:

You’re a veteran who has been to war and has experienced many times where you felt unsafe, hyper-vigilant, and fearing for your life. You were constantly looking over your shoulder and were very careful about every door you opened and who was behind you. You’re back from deployment and are in a crowded shopping center with your family. You’re already on edge being in a crowded place when someone accidentally drops a large bag behind you and it lands with a “BANG!”

Your fear, hyper-vigilance and lack of ease send you emotionally and physiologically right back to the warzone…right back into reactivity…it’s unconscious and, because it’s a trauma reaction, it’s nearly impossible to avoid. Other people in the shopping center don’t even hear the bag and keep moving on. Not you, you spin around ready for an attack…or you dive to the ground and cover your head…or you get your family out of that “zone” as quickly as possible. People think you’re crazy…it’s just a bag, after all. You aren’t.

You’ve experienced trauma.

You learn new ways to cope with the unpredictability of the world, which you do with some help, processing and learning new ways to cope. Then 20 years go by and something happens and you feel unsafe, confused, and spinning again…this is the world of trauma. It catches you off-guard…it’s tricky and unpredictable.

You see, words and images have power for those of us that have prior trauma.

This is like the time when I was riding in a car, listening to two male friends discuss the terms they use for various ways they sexually use women, while I shrunk in confusion, shame, and what I now know was trauma, in the backseat.

That one cracked open the dam that had been holding me together for 20 years and, even though not one finger was laid on me that day, the thick wall that kept my hidden (to me) trauma at bay started flooding out. This is also like the time when, a few years ago, my sexual assault became more of a reality, when one of my counseling peers made a statement about how “young naïve girls join the Navy and they shouldn’t let themselves be alone with men…they should know better.”

Again, not one finger was laid on me that day, but I was still sent spinning right back to my assault because I was a young naïve girl who got sexually assaulted by a senior Navy guy on my first ship. Again, many of us push trauma into a corner in our subconscious that, when triggered, opens the floodgates of unresolved pain.

Then there was the time when I was in a process group and one of the participating men said about a woman in his life, “She is a c**t. I was so angry I went out and would f*ck anything with a hole.”

I was frozen, propelled into trauma and confusion…and I shrunk. I didn’t know what to do with that at the time. The one thing I did do was speak to that man a week or so after that comment, with my heart about to explode out of my chest I was so nervous. It felt like I was confronting the guy who personally attacked me. It was not an attempt to shame him, but an attempt to honor and respect me and let him know that type of talk about women was not okay with me.

It was a huge step toward owning back my power.

So, this objectification of women…no big deal, right? Think of it this way… When young boys and men are taught that women exist purely to satisfy their sexual needs, it dehumanizes women and makes it easier for the men to disconnect from the shame and pain that dehumanization creates.

Heflick and Goldenberg state, “objectifying women led others to perceive them as less competent and less fully human” (p. 600). Certain religions and cultures perform female genital mutilation (more than 200 million have been subjected to this torture) and, although it is done in the name of religion, some of it is to increase male sexual pleasure, decrease female sexual pleasure, and ensure fidelity during marriage (keeping the women as possessions…i.e. objects), even though this horrific practice has been banned by many countries and the United Nations.

Imagine getting your penis cut off but retaining the ability to urinate, and all other functions you need to stay alive, so that you remain faithful to your wife or partner. Does this seem like something your God would want for you? In Sudan, thousands of women and children (as young as 6 years old) are being kidnapped and raped by government soldiers and allied militias (Dixon, 2016). And women who have joined our armed forces, get raped every day around the world (over 6,000 sexual assaults reported in fiscal year 2015 (DOD, 2016). I am just so sick of it.

I don’t know many women who haven’t endured some form of sexual trauma in their past.

Many of these women use some type of unconscious coping skills to keep their trauma shoved deep into their subconscious, to keep men from noticing them and wanting to use them as a piece of meat again, such as obesity, anorexia, and other food addictions, perfectionism, excessive masculinity and strength, and many others. “If I’m obese, he won’t want to sleep with me…if I become a physical badass and become less feminine (which I now see as weakness), he won’t control me.”

My experience of talking to other women who have had sexual trauma is that we mostly keep it silent, because we have shame and guilt and we don’t want to see the looks of pity or feel the judgment of men and even other women. Many of us feel that, “if I didn’t go out with him” or “if I wasn’t wearing that cute, short skirt” or “if I had said ‘no’ sooner/with more force” or “if I was stronger” it wouldn’t have happened…so we blame ourselves.

Turning the corner from believing we were responsible to truly knowing that it was not our fault is a process that is different for each of us.

I don’t know when or why men lose some or all respect for women, but my guess is that it happens early in their life, when some woman they loved, counted on, and were vulnerable with, betrayed and/or hurt them. Objectifying women gives them the illusion of having control and of getting their power back.

And I don’t know what it will take for these men to start respecting women again, especially with the promotion, normality and acceptance of female objectification that is pushed daily in our faces with skinny models, photo-shopping of ads, and our sexual portrayal of women in beer, sports, erectile dysfunction and food commercials.

Let me place something out there that’s reasonable, because I don’t believe this will entirely go away. I will make a pledge: I will not allow men in my life to speak about women in a way that objectifies me or you. Any man that believes a woman’s primary purpose is for their sexual gratification is not one that falls in line with what I want for a safe and meaningful relationship.

There are too many women (and men, just to keep it real here) walking around this world who have been sexually traumatized. If you don’t have enough sensitivity to that fact, please be aware that every time you sexually objectify another human being, you don’t know who might be watching or listening, you touch on a deep wound within many, and you sexually objectify all of us. Like I said, I really can’t imagine that it will ever totally go away.

What I do know is that I’m sick of it sneaking up on me and I’m tired of being silent about it.

When men start to respect women for our emotional, mental, spiritual, intuitive, physical and yes, sexual gifts that we possess, it will be a glorious day. Actually, when all humans start to respect every other human for their unique and common traits, the world will take a huge step toward the world that I envision. The common word I used in each of those sentences was “respect.”

Have I told you I’m just sick of it? I am.

References

Department of Defense. (2016). Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military. Retrieved from http://sapr.mil/public/docs/reports/FY15_Annual/FY15_Annual_Report_on_Sexual_Assault_in_the_Military_Full_Report.pdf

Dixon, R. (2016). LA Times. The terrifying land of gang rape and brutal killings that is South Sudan. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/world/africa/la-fg-south-sudan-atrocities-20160311-story.html

Heflick, N.A & Goldenberg, J.L. (2009).  Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 45 (2009). 598–601

Connecting to your Heartbeat.

I don’t gamble, but if I was a betting woman, I’d feel pretty confident betting that you seek a world that is more peaceful, unified, loving, kind and compassionate. I do too…I’m on a quest, per se, and one of the ways that I’m finding a more peaceful world is by becoming more peace-full.

In psychology this is called projection; when I project peace, unification, love, kindness and compassion, I find those things reflected back at me. Since sharing my experiences to connect with you is at the top of my priorities, and this blog is intended to do just that…share with you so that we can co-create the world that we seek.

Are you one of those people who believes you can’t meditate?

Me too…until recently. I have heard so many people say that one of the best ways to peace and happiness is found through meditation, which I have attempted on and off for years, yet have never really  felt like I “got it.”

I’ve tried various forms of meditation, to include: focusing on my breath, walking meditation, guided meditation (using audio CDs and mobile applications), body scanning, and the list goes on and on. My struggle is my very controlling mind (or ego) that wants to keep me disconnected from my heart, in my thoughts and disassociated from being present.

I’ve recently engaged the art of self-compassion about how I meditate (I just heard you go, “duhhhh.” You know what they say, “the teacher appears when the student is ready”). With meditation, I believe I always tried to do what I always do, which is go down the slippery slope of perfectionism and be the best meditator ever (“if I can’t do it perfectly, I’m not going to do it at all”).

That said, when I started down this “quit hiding, get real and show up” road, one of the things that my heart was calling me to do was to connect, get quiet and listen.

So I started meditating…one five-minute (now 15-minute) period at a time. In my first meditation, I heard my heartbeat and I intuitively knew that was where I needed to connect, so that’s what I now do… I listen for, connect with and breathe into my heart’s “thump, thump, thump.”

On occasion, I’ve have the incredible experience of momentarily “falling in” or “letting go” in meditation (which has happened in small bits as they were too beautiful…too perfect…and quite honestly, scared the crap out of me and sent me back to my mind).

As a result of these moments, I’m now meditation hooked. I sometimes feel a tear or two slowly falling down my cheek when the awesome of all that is has encompassed me. It’s a momentary loss of my mind, who wants to tell me that it didn’t happen, that I’m making it up, and that I shouldn’t share it because you will think “I’ve lost my mind.” And here’s the best part…for small moments I have lost my mind, which tells me that I’m being controlled less by my mind and am finding a deeper connection with my heart.

Here’s what meditation has taught me so far:

I am not my body, my relationships, my job, my accomplishments or my material possessions. I am love (you are love)…at my core (at your core)…meditation has shown me that. I get quiet and I listen to my heartbeat…one “thump” at a time. And then my head starts to think about what I’m going to do that day, what I’m going to eat, where Paco (my dog) is, when I’m going to workout with my girlfriend, that email that hasn’t been responded to, and more…and I thank my head, apologize to my heart for disconnecting and reconnect to that soft “thump.”

So I attempt to go into meditation now with an open heart and just be present with whatever happens.

I feel the beat of my heart and ask my mind to serve the agenda of my heart and my heart to respect the intelligence and necessity of my mind. I’m hopeful that this practice will allow me to keep opening, and show me those small glimpses of perfection that is everywhere as often as I’m open to receiving it.

And sometimes in small glimpses, my heart shows me the magnificence of all that really is, this connection to my soul, my heart and my creator…and I am overwhelmed, because there are no words, and because it’s very seldom that I can’t find words 🙂

Lastly, in a world afflicted with disconnection, addiction, broken hearts, disillusion, and wandering souls, what if you knew that meditating would largely contribute as a remedy toward a cure? Would it then be worth 5, 10 or 30 minutes of your time?

If yes, join me and the billions of other humans who got here sooner than I did…I’m definitely a work in progress with this meditation stuff. However, if the level of peace that I’m feeling after this short time is any indication of what is possible, I’m going to keep “falling in.”

Four Steps to Becoming Your Own Wizard.

“If you change anything today, what would it be?”

If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing that you would wish for? Or asked another way, if you could change one thing today, what would you change? This is a common type of question, known as “the miracle question,” that is used in counseling.

It can be extremely effective when used in conjunction with specific steps to figure out if you really want what you “think” you want. This is an extremely useful process that can shine a light on the reasons you might be self-sabotaging (wanting that thing…and then sabotaging it either before you get it or after you have achieved it).

Here are the four steps with two examples of how I use them in my life:

1. Speaking the Dream…Literally.

For many, it’s “I wish I was skinnier; I wish I was in a relationship; I wish I was rich; I wish I had a different job, etc.).
My Literal Dream(s): “I wish I lived in Hawaii” and “I wish I was more fit.”

2. Determine the Metaphoric Meaning to your Wish.

Find the deeper meaning for your literal wish. To do this, you can ask yourself, “What would it mean if I were (skinnier, in a relationship, rich, etc.”) For example, “If I were in a relationship, I would feel lovable, not alone, worthy, and connected.” This can illuminate areas where you are looking to an external source to essentially “fill up” a part of you that “feels empty.”

My Metaphoric Meaning(s): Living in Hawaii would mean that I was more peaceful, content, relaxed, and successful (it’s what Hawaii represents to me).

Being more fit would mean that I was healthier; more balanced, less stress, and looked better. The deeper meaning is that I would have less fear about being in pain and having illness, as I get older (as I’ve witnessed in other family members).

3. Determine the Positive and Negative Consequences of the Wish.

I love this step, as it is great for illuminating why you might not really want the “thing” that you think you want. For example, to be in a relationship means that you give up some of your independence; to be skinnier means that you might get some unwanted attention; to be rich might mean that you have to work harder, that family members and friends want support, and that you have to pay more taxes. These unwanted negative consequences are what subconsciously sideswipe our dreams.

After determining the positive and negative consequences, you then have to decide if you’re willing to accept all of them. If you aren’t, then you will most likely sabotage your dream.

Hawaii — 
Positives: Sunshine, relaxation, casual lifestyle, beaches, beautiful island.
Negatives: Paco (my dog) would have to go into quarantine, would be confused and would go through abandonment issues again (he’s a rescue); the cost of living; and leaving family and friends in Southern California.

Hawaii willing to accept? No (not the changes Paco would endure).

Getting Fit
Positives: Healthy, more energy, look better, feel better, etc.
Negatives: Sore muscles, time commitment, and then the deeper meaning: Being unfit gives me a deflection from something (unconscious) deeper that I don’t see. If I get fit, that “hidden” thing will probably surface (trust me…I know it will).
Getting fit willing to accept? Yes

4. Get Creative about your Dream.

This step is where you tap into the creative aspects of your dream. You can journal about what you want it to look like; you can create art around the images that you envision your dream to represent; ask your future self how he or she will feel about you going through what you are today to get there; you can do one thing that will take you in the direction of your dream.

After discovering that I’m not willing to accept the consequences (for today) of moving to Hawaii, I now understand why I have been sabotaging my dream of moving back there.

Getting fit: I asked my future self what she would say to my current self and she said, “thank you for caring enough about yourself today to put the necessary effort toward having a healthier future life.”

Lastly, “the world is your oyster.”

I believe you have all of the capabilities to get whatever you desire.

The key is finding it within yourself and then you’ll be able to realize it externally. If you want to be rich, find the riches within You. If you want a relationship, have a quality relationship with You. Find that “thing” that is holding You back from realizing your magic wish.

My “magic wish” for you is that you get where you’re going with peace, self-compassion, and with an intrinsic knowing that your dream is already living within you.  It really is.