I Create, Therefore I am

IMG_7268.jpgHello friends,

This month I’ve been feeling so tapped into my creative impulse. Through a fair amount of risk taking, stepping out of my comfort zone, deep physical and emotional clearing and a commitment to speaking up and prioritizing what felt pleasurable and enlivening to me… I feel more connected to the joy of being a creator than I have in years.

Although it’s true that I have written songs, drawn pictures, poured thousands of words onto the page this last month, creativity is not actually about any skill set I have, craft I’ve learned or even the innate talent I possess. Creativity is who I am… who you are… who we all are.

Creativity is the process by which life expresses itself. It is experienced most clearly when we follow what turns us on and brings us alive.  Our very existence came because of the desire and turn on that led into a process of creation. When we are plugged into our soul’s outlet – we feel alive. When we feel alive, it feels good to do what life does… create.

If you are inspired by what you are interacting with, you’ll likely notice an impulse to create something yourself. If you can catch that impulse before your judging mind comes in and tells you why you’re not an artist, chef, writer, etc, you may surprise yourself with what comes out. My sense is this is how our soul gives our gifts to the world… by receiving another’s gifts, feeling inspired, and returning a gift with our unique take.

If the strength of our own inner critic doesn’t divert our impulses, then often our fear of the outer critics will. These strategies are wisely designed to keep us safe. Once upon a time we were likely happily doing our natural creative thing when someone told us to –

Color in the lines…

Mouth the words in choir…

Stop wasting our time…

Pick up our mess…

Keep our voices down…

Whatever way our likely well meaning caregivers squashed us in an attempt to maintain order – we learn to comply. Through our compliance, we survived – both literal, physical survival (when you’re young, it’s vital to follow the rules and ethos of the people who feed and shelter you) but also socially (connection and belonging are basic human needs too.)

After downloading this programming as a child, we take over for the external haters by repeating the script ourselves through our lives – often with dramatic flair added (we can only come up with new ways to judge ourselves because we are creative, by the way… just saying).

Here’s the thing, just because someone else says it or we think it – doesn’t mean it’s true. What is actually “true”  is whatever brings us alive and turns us on. If something brings you joy, energy and juiciness in your body – then it’s resonant with your being and therefore is true. If something disconnects you from your body, creates rigidity and tension, edits or completely stifles your creative impulse  – it’s dissonant with your being, and therefore, for you, untrue.

What’s coming alive in you right now? What wants to be created or recreated through you? Start small… sing a song to yourself in the shower… tell someone a story – experienced or imagined – with as many juicy, descriptive details as you can conjure… make a meal where you are guided fully by what smells, tastes and looks beautiful and enticing to you in that moment.

The most important “end product” of your creation is not what you can put on display for the world – but rather what has come alive within you through the process.

Creatively yours,

Vanessa

 

From A Void To A Voice

soul storage illustrationHello friends,

I’ve always valued authentic and full expression and have done my best to communicate accordingly, at least most of the time. From the time I was young, I held the role in my family and friend groups as a “truth teller,” often enthusiastically taking the hand (or in this case the trunk) of whichever elephant remained unacknowledged in the room. With age and experience, I’ve developed more skill and discernment on how, what and when something is shared…. but still, I usually favor risking too much transparency over the possibility of anything being left in the closet.

Lately however, I’ve been discovering some closet contents I didn’t even know existed. It’s as though my soul is leading me down a hallway to dusty old psyche storage units. Inside I’m discovering a whole range of thoughts and emotions that I’d almost wholly disconnected from. Little waves of annoyance, anger, impatience, frustration, pettiness and coveting have emerged right alongside huge stores of repressed desire, unexpressed joy and liberating permission to be in my fullness.

Our psyche will do all in it’s power to keep our experience consistent with our ideas of ourselves and the world. Since having too many needs did not fit into my conditioned model of relationships, younger versions of myself simply packed up any desires, wants or needs that seemed like too much or in any way selfish into one of these far away storage containers. Since experiencing any thought or emotion considered “negative” was deemed as toxic and ungodly, most of those got packed away too.

Moments of not especially liking someone I loved? 

Waves of sadness without a “justifiable” reason?

Challenges that just felt challenging, without a clear gift or deeper meaning in them? 

Aliveness triggered when I felt attracted to someone other than my partner?

Disappointment that I wasn’t getting what I wanted, and judgment/jealousy toward those who seemed to be?

… All neatly and mostly unconsciously regulated to the shadowed corners of my being.

This social survival strategy has had it’s wisdom of course. It allowed me to fit into the expectations of my family and culture and the “self” I knew myself to be…. not to mention diverting any threat to all my more beloved parts that are hopeful, expansive and trusting. But the strategy, like so many we adopt early, is outdated and the reconnection with these forgotten parts, although a bit scary and unsettling to my sense of self, is also awakening a freedom and authenticity that is far more enlivening.  Not to mention how much better my shoulders, neck and upper body feel. Repression is bad for our backs.

The deeper I go on the path of a Soul Oriented Life, the more I recognize the freedom of simply being with whatever arises, as it is. The frustration, annoyance and anger show me where I need to speak up, rearrange or simply give myself permission to take more space… the unexpressed joy show me where more courage and commitment is being called on.

When I can welcome all the parts of me that didn’t appear to “fit”, my sense of self and container for what’s allowed, expands. Instead of feeling less myself, I become more of myself. Instead of being paralyzed with fear that life as I know it will crumble, I can allow the dismantling as the start of remodeling what is possible.

The thing about all these avoided parts is that they aren’t actually void. They are ruling us behind the scenes, often in toxic or distorted ways. When we welcome them a-void becomes a-voice. And that voice can be heard along with the chorus of all your parts for whatever wisdom it has.

I invite you play with the Soul Oriented Exercise listed below as a way to initiate and support  your own unpacking process… and in this next month, consider the possibility that every single part of you has a voice that can’t serve you nearly as well in a void.

With love,

Vanessa

SOUL ORIENTED EXERCISE

“From A Void To A Voice” 

Our conditioning around what is appropriate and safe runs deep in our system. All of us have inner guardians, doing their best to keep our thoughts, actions and life consistent with these ideas. But after awhile these paths of logic become pathological and keep us from expressing and experiencing the fullness of ourselves. Below is an exercise to start to explore the parts of yourself that have been avoided, in order to gain the wisdom of their voices. The purpose is not to “fix” this part, but to get the deeper wisdom behind it, in order to integrate an express yourself with more clarity and alignment with your truest intentions.

1. Make a list of qualities you see in others that are somehow “out of bounds” to you

They could be qualities that strongly repel or attract you, but namely that you don’t feel like you currently possess, for better or worse. Examples: selfish, arrogant, cruel, irreverent, loud, loose, bold, cunning, permissive, free, self-assured etc…. try to be general and concise… rather than describing the specific behavior, use the word that “sums” up the behavior in a qualitative way

2. Go back through and choose one quality that is most triggering or feels furthest from you in this moment. 

Any quality that carries an emotional charge will serve as fertile soil for this exercise.

3. On a blank piece of paper draw a picture that represents this quality.

It may be representative of how this part would look personified, or just any colors, images, markings that come out when you feel into this part of the human experience. There’s no need for it to be pretty or even obviously representative.

4. Pretend that for a moment that you have fully embodied this quality/persona and write a letter in their voice. 

The letter could include what this part believes… is desiring… feels like they are getting or not getting… deserves or doesn’t deserve…. etc. If you find yourself judging what’s coming out, rather than editing, try to amplify this quality that feels “wrong” – keep going with it until you’ve exhausted all that this part may be wanting to say.

5. Reread the letter and then pause and notice what’s coming up in your body and then place your hands on any place that feels uncomfortable, nauseous, unsettled or otherwise activated.

If nothing is feeling obvious now, place your hands somewhere you’ve noticed tension or discomfort lately. Now take a few breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth into this place and then say out loud
“Sometimes I am ____(fill in the blank with whatever quality you choose)___”
and continue to breathe into this part, notice what’s happening.

6. Explore this part of your body gently, and let this part of you “speak”

Gentle let your hands gently traction up, down, right and left, while you continue to breathe and make the sound of the place. You can’t get it wrong… any sound works… if nothing is coming, just make the sound of the frustration that nothing is coming.

7. Make an out loud acknowledgment to this part

It may be something like “I’m sorry I’ve ignored you” or “I’m listening now” and then take a few more gentle breaths, continuing with any sounds.

8. With your hands still on this part of your body, ask (out loud) “What do you need?” 

Then for at least a few breaths, just listen, noticing if anything arises (could be words, images, or just a sense of what this part of your is really needed to feel heard and integrated.

9. Acknowledge what you experienced, heard, etc. and thank yourself of exploring and playing in this way.

If you sensed an answer to the “what do you need?” write it down somewhere and practice looking for ways to give yourself more of this in the next month.

Swing Around The Rosy… And Not So Rosy

Hello friends,

Last week in the Bay Area, Mama Nature sent out a very clear message that we had gone from Summer to Fall. On Tuesday and Wednesday the outside temp in our city’s normally mild atmosphere hit 100 degrees. By Friday the high was half of that and suddenly our tank tops were covered by shirts… sweaters… jackets and gloves.

On Saturday, cold be damned, my husband and I had the most magical day. We spent hours just enjoying the particularly quiet, spacious day. We worked on the yard, sipped tea, laughed, took a nine mile urban hike over to our friends home where we had dinner and drifted to sleep that night feeling deeply content.

The next day the coin flipped and the day was filled with hiccups and disappointments. The sweetness and ease from the day before felt distant and sadness and frustration took their place.

The swings aren’t always so extreme… but they are always there. Some moments it feels like the magic of life is being handed to me in abundant display on a silver platter. Other moments life feels like a magical famine where nothing works right.

For me, living a Soul Oriented life means I can ride these emotions in their fullness, like a surfer rides the waves, knowing that they are temporary and tell me very little about the overall nature of the ocean of my life. When our energy is in motion… the e-motions flow more easily, without getting stuck in stories about what they may mean.

What I know for sure is that whatever I’m feeling now will not last. My wellbeing is not dependent on which emotions I have at any one moment, or even the circumstances that triggered those emotions, but on my ability to feel, express, gather any wisdom or direction for my life held within the emotion, and then move on.  Instead of trying to “feel better” it serves us to learn how to better feel. This is what allows presence and acceptance with what is, as it is.

May we each learn to swing around the rosy… and not so rosy… with more grace, whatever life’s momentary weather pattern.

Loving you,

Vanessa

My Self… Centered.

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Hello friends,

I was one of those kids who loved to be in the spotlight. Maybe it was because, as a pastor’s kid, I was born into the gaze of a large community, or maybe it’s just in my nature, but I took to my role on stage with gusto. The attention felt welcome, fueling both a sense of belonging and my natural charisma and creativity.

Thankfully I have parents who encouraged my creative sense of expression from the start. I was allowed to dress myself from as early as I was physically able – maybe two or three years old. Even when members of my parent’s small rural Indiana church would vocally express distaste for me showing up on a summer Sunday morning wearing multiple uneven pigtails, a Strawberry Shortcake pajama dress and neon moon boots, my parents defended my choice and style, assuring others that it had nothing to do with my holiness or lack thereof.

My love of wild expression and time in the spotlight never changed, but how and who I showed up as, eventually did. By early elementary school, I learned that it wasn’t proper to “want” to be seen, heard or viewed as significant. If and when it happened, along with any affirmations given, I was conditioned to graciously dismiss and deflect it. It seemed to be a sign of selfishness, lack of femininity and ungodliness to have a strong sense of self or to enjoy being celebrated. I absorbed the confusing messages to give my gifts freely but also to make sure I wasn’t taking any joy in doing it. I contorted and constrained my natural expression in order to avoid being arrogant, self-centered or just “too much.”

These lessons were both in public and in private, and were heightened by my inherited role of spiritual leadership, as a member of the pastor’s family. I remember being in the car with my mother around nine years old and passionately singing along to Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.”  She turned off the radio mid-song and told me that “the greatest love of all” was not “inside of me” – the greatest love was the love of Jesus. Although my mother’s intentions with her children most certainly were to “teach them well and let them lead the way” — it was also clear that connecting to “the beauty (we) possess inside” was a slippery slope into secularism.

(To be fair, my amazing mother, like us all, has evolved in profound ways and may have a different theological interpretation of the song today.)

There were so many mixed messages like this – that I needed to accept and realize I was a unique and beloved child of God – but also, by my nature I was greedy, selfish and foolish. I learned that anything decent within me had nothing to do with me – and everything to do with what God was doing through me.

I can see the nuances and hold these paradoxes with more grace today.  As a young woman, however, these messages left me residing in a space of disconnection from and shameful distaste for my body and soul that I have continued unwinding for much of my adult life.

By now, in my forties, I have embraced my love for being in the light. In most moment, I rest in who I am, with all my quirks and confusions and contradictions and messy edges.

It’s not surface affirmation for things I’ve done that ultimately fuels me, but being seen and celebrated for the fullness of who I am. Not everyone is energized by standing on stages or taking leadership roles, but I am, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s clear to me now that my desire for personal significance is actually the portal through which I give the greatest level of collective contribution. When I do what I naturally LOVE and shine fully for who I AM without deflection or apology, others are given permission to be unbound in their fullness too.

There’s no one for us to become – just our essence to fully come out with. In our natural state we each shine — and were created to be seen, heard and celebrated – not for what we’ve done – but for the full on amazingness of who we are as a soul. When we see and are seen in this way, giving our gifts becomes effortless, because we realize our presence is the gift.

Instead of fighting self-centeredness, I have permission to be centered in myself. What a relief.

With the greatest love of all.. inside, outside and through it all…

Vanessa

Magic-splaining

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Greetings Dear Ones –

In my line of work, illusions can get a bad rap. In the context of healing and coaching, I’m often questioning the stories that may be unconsciously ruling our lives. Our mind is constantly playing tricks on us – robbing us from the gifts of the past, aliveness of the present and limitlessness of the future by projecting our conditioned version of “reality” over it all.

Often we simply watch our script of life playing out.

But even in those moments of full presence when we meet life with our eyes wide open, illusions are still at work. When I look at a tree, I’m not seeing the literal tree. The cells in my retina absorb and convert light into electrochemical impulses carried through the optic nerve in my brain, which then does it’s best to translate the impulses into a picture of what I have learned to call “tree”.

The genetic condition in my ears, which affects the mechanical functioning of my hearing, has led to many experiences where I *perfectly* heard something the person never said. They may have said “please pass the potatoes” and I heard, clear as day, “I sneezed past the tomatoes” Since my ear bones had fused together impeding the clear signals, my brain stitched it together to resemble some form of language, even if it was a bit nonsensical.

All of our senses, including our sixth sense, are constantly transmitting information through our central nervous system, which then works to translate these waves into a digestible reality in sync with our current understanding.

This reality is only as fixed as we perceive it to be. But the true reality is multi-dimensional, and stretches far beyond anything that any of our senses can comprehend or our linear minds can conceptualize.

When our experience doesn’t match what we have come to know – our minds either disregard it completely or do their best to whip up a new box that can hold an understanding about whatever just happened. When this doesn’t work – we call it  supernatural… miraculous… magic.

Speaking of magic, last weekend I attended a show of the illusionist, Brad Barton,“The Reality Thief”.  He spent the show bending our linear time and space understandings, asking our minds to do olympic level gymnastic moves.

I certainly wasn’t gold medaling in understanding his magical ways, but I made it fit with the logic that “he’s clearly not doing actual magic, he’s just really good at his job”.

But then I got called up on stage to be part of one of the tricks. The short version of this elaborate and mind-blowing illusion involved his presenting a sealed envelope containing a letter he had written before the show. While on stage he asked me some personal questions, including my mom’s name and plans I had for the week. Then, ta-da! He opened the sealed envelope, took out the letter, and asked me to read aloud what he’d written.  The letter included my specific plans for the week and my mother’s name, Lorelei (spelled correctly, no less, which even people who know her often miss). Say what???

No matter how much “magic-plaining” my logical mind reaches for, my inner jury still comes back with the verdict that what he did was totally impossible. It just literally couldn’t have happened the way I saw it.  So my only choices are to… ignore it and move on…. assume that he can time travel… crown him the slickest illusionist in town… and ultimately, to surrender to the liberating knowledge that there is SOOOO much happening beyond what my mind can see, interpret or digest.

I wonder how much magic have I missed in my life, having stuffed it into a box of my knowable reality? How often have my beliefs kept me from seeing something I wasn’t expecting?

There is, of course, a base level of stability we all need to function, and part of this stability involves leaning on pillars of what we “know” to be true. But these pillars sometimes need to expand, lean or even fully crumble to wake us up to our soul’s next evolution. When we trust knowable concepts as capital T truth, this can feel terrifying. But when we surrender to remembering that life is infinitely bigger than we are, and say yes to flowing with the mystery, this disorientation becomes exciting and even magical…. explainable or not.

With love… and magic,

Vanessa

What Are You Fixing For?

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Hi friends,

Just wanted to drop in your inbox to remind you-

There’s nothing about you that needs to be fixed.

Seriously, there’s not one single part of you that showed up on this planet, or slowly became, defective. You are not fixed and you don’t need to be fixed.

In my coaching practice the most common sentiment of suffering I hear is “I’m not enough.”  The second most common is, “I’m too much” Our striving for some unattainable level of perfection comes from the illusion that intrinsically we don’t measure up. So much suffering comes in trying to avoid falling off a precarious, impossibly narrow, and ultimately non-existent cosmic balance beam.

Along our life’s journey we pick up strategies to survive, physically and socially. At the time, these patterns were brilliant responses based on circumstances and our understandings of reality. But like everything in nature, we are meant to evolve, change and grow, never truly fixed in one way of being. Feeling the pain of what’s no longer working is not a sign of what’s wrong with you… but an indication that you are aligned with your natural rhythms of your life.

There was nothing “wrong” with the caterpillar, but eventually, it was time to grow wings.

Still don’t buy it?  Is your mind coming up with a long list of supportive evidence for all the ways you are f*cked up? Great! This means you’ll have plenty of material to mine when exploring the deeper needs buried under all these rules about how and who you should, and should not, be.

Is some part of you dismissing this as new age, rose colored delusion meant to avoid true responsibility? Awesome. Response-ability, the ability to respond to what’s really there, is a crucial part of healing, skepticism is a response.

Because, of course, there are plenty of ways in which we have disconnected from and contorted our essences. But instead of trying to “fix” them, we can notice which outdated patterns have become fixed and bring curiosity and compassion to them. Instead of asking “Why I am so messed up?” We can ask “What is the deeper need that this pain is expressing?”

*The moments I feel I am too loud, I see the part of me who has needed to scream… and in this moment, welcome the opportunity to tune in and listen.

*The times when I feel like my body isn’t the right shape, I can feel back to the earnest young girl trying desperately to fit impossible standards of beauty… and in this moment, celebrate my deep and sacred desires for intimacy, acceptance and connection.

*The points when I get frustrated at my lack of willpower, I tap into all the ways in which I’ve tried to avoid feeling powerless… and in this moment, claim the wonder and mystery of all that is beyond my ability to control.

*When I get on myself for being defensive, I can stand in awe of the protector within me, who at times has had to work hard to keep me safe… and in this moment, pause and feel the sweetness of my innocence and vulnerability.

Try this yourself… create a list of everything that you’ve assumed needs “fixing” in your life… and see if you can find both the ways that this pattern once served you, and the deeper needs that it’s now expressing.

In fix-ness and in health,

Vanessa

Falling Thoughts Ahead

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“Maybe they won’t like this newsletter. Someone may read it and think I’m too ‘out there,’ or don’t know what I’m talking about… or not sensitive to other people’s realities… or perhaps there will be grammatical or spelling errors… or I’ll mess something up and send it out with the wrong month written in the heading, and I’ll look careless….. or maybe everything will go great, and my life will expand and dreams come true, but then maybe I won’t have the energy to live up to the new demands… or I’ll never relax… or create… or… or… or maybe…”

Hello friends,

Meet Ms. W (short for Ms. Worrier), a vigilant aspect of me that shows up in my thinking brain when I’m wired, tired, stressed or stretching way out of my comfort zone.

When I’m more resourced, I barely notice her- because even if any or all of this came to be, I know I’ll be okay. Life – and most likely my newsletter – will go on, and I’ll have an opportunity to learn and expand and improve for next time. If Ms. W were a friend, and not a part of me, I’d distance myself from her, and her very narrow lens of the world, filled with some many potential pitfalls and “what if’s.”

But for better or worse, she has a physiological assignment to alert me to potential danger, regardless of the statistical likelihood or actual threat to my safety. Thankfully, through the process of learning new ways and unlearning old, she’s has been regulated to occasional consultant in my life. When I’m facing a challenge, or stretching into something new, she may show up to point out any and all possible obstacles. From there, I’ve learned to take Ms. W’s suggestions and use more expansive parts of myself to creativity prepare.

I’m guessing you have your own version of her. Thanks to evolution, this ability to scan the future and the past for any threats and/or thwarted plans is programmed into our brains. The following points may be helpful to remember for building a healthier relationship to this part of yourself:

*There’s nothing wrong with you.

This is simply part of how humans tick. And every single response you have, including this one, has a wisdom to it, even if it’s a misguided or outdated wisdom. There are times when this kind of vigilant response is perfect, the key is engaging the tools to help see, and shift, when it’s overworking or not helpful.

*You are not your thoughts.

Learn to observe…. practice stepping out and watching these thoughts. Our thinking minds are actually more like radios, receiving the thoughts that are in the collective field – some of them higher frequency than others. When you notice a thought, become curious about what happens to your body, energy level and emotional state. If it lifts and expands you, it’s most likely a thought that’s aligned with your truth. If it contracts, depletes or stresses you, it’s most likely a load of crap.

Meditation, SRI and other mindfulness practices help reprogram the brain to observe from a larger vantage point.

*Learn to identify and acknowledge what’s underneath the thought.

When you notice a thought that contracts or depletes you, speak it out loud, write it down or record it in a voice memo. Now listen back to the words, as though a beloved friend is sharing them. What’s the emotional subtext of that thought (fear, anger, loneliness, etc.)?  What might be the deeper need underneath (connection, safety, self-empowerment, preparation, etc.)? This practice helps create space to compassionately witness the emotion and respond to the need in a more creative, effective way.

The more we practice having a new relationship to our own Ms. W’s, the longer the gap between the trigger and the response.  We can see the worried thoughts the way we might see a “Falling Rocks Ahead” road sign. 99% of the time, no boulders are going to fall on us…. but the sign, like the thought, is an invitation to pause and respond appropriately.

From this perspective — we can use the information to WIDEN the view of the current conditions, rather than shrink it, making us paradoxically more able to respond to potential danger. And with that, Ms. W can relax once more.

With love, and an awareness of all the falling thoughts ahead,

Vanessa

KonMari’ing Our Souls

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Welcome to March Dear Ones,

Last weekend, I held up an old sweater of mine, considering whether it still “sparked joy” in me. Turns out, not so much. So I thanked the sweater for occasionally keeping me warm and for keeping my closet full, and placed it in the “to-go” pile along with several of its closest closet companions.

For those of you who aren’t following, recently I immersed myself with the contagiously sweet goddess of organizing, Marie Kondo, and her KonMari method of “Tidying Up.” In this work, she suggests viewing possessions in light of the energy they spark within us. Although I’m usually resistant to joining bandwagons, “KonMari” sparks flew through my home recently via a Saturday afternoon of streaming her show. I can now proudly say that every single piece of clothing, paper, and once randomly stuffed piece of “stuff” in my home has been intentionally chosen to carry into my future and has a clear, visible place to live.

And beyond my home’s newfound lightness, this process has sparked so much creativity and energy in me. Now that I can see everything in my drawers (thanks to her unconventional folding methods), I am starting to put unlikely articles of clothing together in my day’s outfit. Since all my notes are filed and marked clearly, I suddenly feel more excitement to go through them and work on my book. Seemingly unrelated to any home organization, I finally finished the redesign of my website that’s been lingering for months…. and, for no explainable reason, I’m enjoying wearing my hair in a whole new way.

I’m not simply feeling “tidied up,” I’m feeling like all my most engaging and energizing parts are suddenly available at my fingertips… and I have a hunger to take it deeper. What would life be like if we could KonMari our souls?

I summarized her method into four basic principles that seem to have some interesting parallels in how we approach our own internal clutter and vision for what could be.

Here goes… KonMari’ing Your Soul…

  1. Envision What You Desire Your Home (Body/Mind) to Eventually Be

In regards to your life… how do you sense your future self would like to feel? In the most energized fulfilled version of yourself – what are you spending your time on? What thoughts are you focused on? How do you feel in your body?

When we get a sense of what we desire –  and what our most energized self is like – we can use that version as a magnet, pulling us forward into our next chapter.

  1. Commit to Tidying Up Completely (Or, in this case, with complete presence)

Before we move forward, we must bring full presence, acknowledgment and acceptance to where we are right now. One thing Marie asks people to do is to gather up each category of of their possessions, in its totality, in one big pile. This way they can really see – and feel – just how much stuff they have. Really being with it brings up the necessary emotions to fuel change.

In a similar way, we are invited to pause and be with all that’s moving through us, acknowledging what’s true and real in the moment, with compassion and acceptance, allowing the necessary cry, scream and/or laugh in response. From here, the way forward starts to become more clear.

Unlike clutter in our house – there is no “completely” uncluttering our psyches. But we can bring complete presence to any given moment and, when the emotion comes, allow that wave to have complete expression. This is what moves us through, rather than keeping us stuck.

  1. Pause and ask “Does This Spark Joy?” & “Do I Want To Carry This Into My Future With Me?” If Not, Thank It and Let It Go.

When we do feel heavy or stuck, even after presencing and emoting – it’s good to ask what belief/story is underneath this feeling. What’s happening is what’s happening… but the story we spin about what’s happening and where we focus fully dictates our experience of it.

If the narrative we’ve been buying into sparks anything other than joy – it’s time for an upgrade. When someone says “be realistic” what they probably mean is “keep reality limited to the view I’m currently aware of and can be “certain” of.” There are always multiple perspectives from which the view the same set of circumstances. If you current vantage point leaves you feeling powerless and/or exhausted – put it in the goodwill pile of your life, thanking it for serving you over the time that it did. (Every story had wisdom at some point, it just may be outdated wisdom now.)

Your future self will thank you and a better story to navigate will have space to emerge.

  1. (Re)Organizing In A Way That All Is Visible

One of my favorite parts of the KonMari method is her clear way to display and honor each thing chosen to keep. She encourages her followers to fold and sort everything in ways that keep all our stuff visible, therefore respecting their importance.

Now, when I open my drawers, I see a beautiful palette of color and design – and my creativity feels so nourished. Nothing is in the shadows, or hidden balled up in the back of the drawer.

What if the same were true with parts of ourselves? It’s not about undiscerning exposure or oversharing – even Marie is a fan of doors and drawers. But what if, within our own awareness, we left room for every part of us to stay in the light, nothing shamed or hidden or contorted to try to be something we are not?  This means that the scared, messy and insecure parts have spaces on the shelf right along with the confident, put together and brave parts.

When we have committed to and done the work of feeling what’s calling us from our future, accepting and being with what’s in our present, tidying up our limiting beliefs and allowing all of our internal pieces to be seen, attended to and loved, there is a wholeness that brings flow, energy, creativity and new possibilities… not to mention a tidier home.

With sparks of joy,

Vanessa

The Gall of It All

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Hello Loves –

And Happy New Year to you! (A bit belated for the Gregorian calendar, but right on time for the Lunar Calendar, which begins anew today!)

I had every intention of getting a January newsletter out  – even had it half written a few days after NYD – but, so far anyway, 2019 is offering me a fresh dose of demands to stay present with what is here and asking to be experienced, rather than what I’d *planned* to do/feel/experience. Such is the way of a life committed to soul guidance, over linear trajectories.

Feeling run down and heavier than usual last month, I committed to clearing out excess – unnecessary weight from my closet, my schedule, my diet, my body and my heart. Almost immediately I began feeling lighter and more energized.

And then, as the youngsters say, “sh*t got real.” A little over a week ago, about two weeks into my “operation liberation,” I begun having extreme abdominal pain. Several hours of this, and realization that my abundant bag of self-care tricks weren’t cutting it, I went to the ER. Their conclusion: Elevated liver numbers and a gallbladder attack caused from gallstones.

What?? The gall of this diagnosis initially offended and confused me. My protective, but less evolved, parts felt self-righteous and defensive that such a thing could possibly be true after two weeks of feeling so great and twenty years of relative clean eating and well living.

But then my soul gently and compassionately nudged me, as she does, inviting a larger perspective. I paused and choose to just stay with whatever my body was communicating – to be with, even welcome, this extreme pain as a messenger carrying wisdom that my conscious mind had clearly been oblivious to. Within a few days, the composting of this  oh so “real sh*t” going down in my internal organs began clear – and insights, clarity and healing poured in.

What I know from my years studying energy medicines is that our gallbladder and liver connect not only our body’s ability to process and filter fat and toxins – but also serve to digest frustration, anger and rage. Perhaps no surprise, these are not emotions that this Midwestern gal, with deep lineage roots in both Japanese and Evangelical Christian culture, learned to experience in very healthy ways. I basically got a PhD level education in how to be “nice” at all costs.

Gratefully,  through my own healing path I’ve learned to value these – and all emotions – for the wisdom they bring. I’ve had moments of being able to just scream, punch a pillow and dance out my rage in ways that liberated and energized me and freed me from the stories.  In my role as a healer, I’ve facilitated countless people in creating safe containers to emote in similar ways and use these hot emotions for breakthrough and boundary upgrades.

I’ve learned to more easily act upon one of my soul’s missions, to be a truth teller and liberator, by feeling these emotions and then communicating them with presence and kindness – even when I need to say things that don’t sound or feel “nice”.

But clearly my body’s been holding, quite literally in the knapsack of my gallbladder – little gemstones of some unmetabolized energy – and the “attack” was my body’s brilliant way of getting my attention and pointing me to where this available fuel was hanging out.

There’s plenty to be angry about, of course – you can’t turn on the news for more than a minute without some fresh hell to digest. But anger is not the same thing as blame. Blame is a story that keeps us from feeling our emotions and can stay fixed for years, steaming and suffering.

Frustration, anger and rage, often triggered by external events, are here to act as portals into feeling our way through to a higher level of truth. When fully expressed without attachment to the story, they can be cleared of all charge in about a minute and catapult our growth and efficacy as change makers in our world.

Every time we lower our standards, say yes when we mean no, contort our desires and/or values, buy into limiting beliefs, or stay quiet when we need to speak up – all to stay safe or avoid the risk of losing approval or love – our natural energetic flow gets bound up. If enough of this energy binds up, we feel stuck – life feels like it is happening “to us” rather than “through us.” And it is… because we aren’t participating fully and truthfully.

Frustration, anger and rage are conduits that can break that stuckness and allow us to finally say… scream… ENOUGH!!!!! And then we can begin to take action and make choices aligned with the truth of our souls.

So this month, I’m saying “Enough!”

…Enough! to ignoring my intuition because I’m scared of  the uncomfortable and new territories it’s leading me to.

…Enough! to betraying my true desires just because it’s not so hard to go along with what someone else wants.

…Enough! to telling any story that credits my pain and suffering solely to external circumstances.

…Enough! to believing the cultural hallucinations about what is and is not possible.

…Enough! to numbing and stuffing my feelings with food or stimulants or alcohol.

…Enough! to waiting for permission, validation or certainty to leap toward the life I desire.

My body’s got a lot of gall, speaking up how it did… and I’m so thankful.

With love (and the full range of emotions that goes with it),

Vanessa

*P.S. – one upgrade I’m making in 2019 is changing up my stylized all lower case writing style. It was a style that’s worked well for me for the last twenty years or so, but something about this new version I’m incarnating, wants capital letters. So there you go.

*P.S.S. — I’m feeling SOOO much better – physically and in every other way since my body’s wake up call last week. I’m raising my standard for health and committed not to “getting rid of or managing” the stones – but to having the most vital, healthy, fully expressed liver and gallbladder possible!

advent of surprise

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 happy december friends,

at the beginning of the month, i headed back to my home state of indiana to celebrate my father as he rang in his 70th year. it was a surprise party that he knew nothing about, including the fact that my husband and i were coming from california for it. i’m happy to say – it worked! he was surprised indeed, and the whole night was a magical time of his family, friends and colleagues affirming his life so far and life to come.

the look on his face when he walked in, despite seven decades of life, was pure childlike wonder and awe. it was clear his brain was doing it’s best to integrate and catch up with what was happening, while his heart was bursting open and receiving the love. and the joy pulsed through my whole being as well, after seeing the vision realized. there was total and pure presence, the kind that comes effortlessly at these heightened moments.

and yet, unique circumstances like this that create heightened moments aren’t the only portals into energized aliveness and presence. within each moment lies the potential to be engaged, awakened and even amazed. the key is staying open to, and intentionally seeing life through this lens.

in the christian tradition which i was raised, december is the season of advent – a four week period focused on building anticipation toward a miracle.

for me as a kid this meant daily chocolate from my advent calendar, tearing off loops from the paper chains, lighting one more candle each week, and watching presents, containing unknown treasures, slowly gather under the tree. this coupled with the fact that my own birthday lay in the middle of advent, meant the whole month of december was laced with expectant anticipation that created a ripe field for magic to grow.

the latin root word in advent literally means “to arrive.” and operate in a state of advent — means holding space for the possibility that something miraculous is always on the verge of arriving.

our brains go partially to sleep when things feels monotonous and predictable. when we fall under the spell that we know what’s coming or at least the nature of what’s coming, energy floods out of life, and we live with our primary attention caught in the ongoing chatter of our thoughts.

however, we can choose to wake up and tune into the unknowable mysteries of the universe, understanding that within this moment – and every single moment – lies unlimited potential for change, magic and awe inspiring love. in this state our black and white life becomes technicolor… the once predictable day becomes fertile for new seeing.

but many times we don’t want to be surprised. the infinite nature of each moment include lots of frightening storylines and our brains evolved to live under a false sense that we can know – and even control – what’s coming. but although certainly not all surprises are welcome ones, living this way –  boxed into routines and life as we think we know it – doesn’t actually protect us from any potential pain, and ultimately disconnects us from thriving.

even momentary investigation reveals the truth that ultimately, the only thing we can truly control is where we put our focused attention. our souls are hungry to be fully alive, enraptured by the awake, engaged and unpredictable nature of our journey. ultimately, we long to be joyfully surrendered to the current of our life, wherever it flows.

this does not make us victims, with life happening *to* us… but participants in the fabric of life, that is happening *through* us. we are life itself, mysteriously living.

are you willing to be surprised? are you open to releasing your stories about people and situations and enter into real time, present relationships? are you able to humbly admit that most of life is beyond knowable reality? are you interested in reclaiming some of the awe and wonder you had as a child?

if so, you may want to try some of the following, to put this willingness into practice this season.

*start each day with the expectation that you will be shown an aspect of your life that you’ve never had conscious awareness of.

*when you are with a family member, partner, child or close friend, open yourself up to notice three things that you’ve never noticed about them before. (especially good for the people you feel you have totally figured out and don’t think ever change)

*start intentionally bringing novelty into your life in the meals you choose to eat, routes you take to familiar destinations, ways you wear your clothes, hair, etc.

*be on the lookout for static stories about how yourself, others or the world “just are” — when you catch one that feels limiting or draining, pause and ask yourself “what if it wasn’t true?” and “how might i contribute to a new story?”

*if there are situations you feel stuck in, zoom out and imagine you were looking at the situation as an impartial observer – what do you notice now that wasn’t there before?

hope you find these surprisingly helpful! and here’s to the advent of your next adventure – unknowable as it finds you in this moment.

with love,

vanessa

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