pause, breathe, soften… love

wavesdear friends,

being overseas, mostly offline except for uploading some photos now and then – immersed in mama’s nature’s radiance and in relationship with so many beautiful, powerful souls, for an entire month was a sweet and rejuvenating respite.

my time, in both indonesia and japan, was rich beyond measure, and i’m still integrating at a body and soul level. i won’t try to summarize it all here, and instead happily share more in person for anyone interested. (but i’d be remiss not to tell everyone that if you ever find yourself in nara, japan – hanging in a park filled with tame deer – make sure not to miss freshly made red bean mochi rolled in sesame powder exactly five seconds before being handed to you to eat. seriously the best thing my taste buds have ever experienced.)

right after returning home, still dreamy with jet lag, i began my slow reemergence to life in america by casting my ballot in the most engaged in midterm elections of my lifetime. the results, although not the blue tsunami that some of us dreamt of, included an inspiring number of historic firsts for women, people of color and lgbt leaders. this along with some of the close races in parts of our country that would have never have been close just a few years ago, are all death rattles in the patriarch’s lung and infusions of life into a new consciousness that’s emerging.


one of my favorite sentiments from the modern day prophetess, has been coursing through me over and over these days…

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“another world is not only possible, she is on her way. on a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”   

-arundhati roy

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perhaps the patriarch, commonly associated as dominance of males over females, is more nuanced and far reaching. the greek word “patria” literally means family, the idea being that one person (historically presumed a male) has dominion over the rest of the family. however, the literal word is not masculine in nature – it simply implies that one has dominion over the rest. a construct so deeply embedded in our psyches, it can be impossible to imagine a world that isn’t built on someone/something in power over us… it’s hard to find a time in history when the storyline hasn’t been set up this way… god having dominion over humans… humans over nature… one group of people over another…

women and other under represented groups claiming roles of power, in even greater ways than we saw tuesday, is a crucial step toward healing for where we are at this collective moment.  further out, i see the the next step toward wholeness beyond simply ‘someone else’ in charge, but an entirely new consciousness all together. i sense us ultimately moving from “dominion over” to being “in relationship with” (with our earth, with one another, with different parts of ourselves).

beyond any previous structures of equality or shared power… what is being birthed on this planet now is an entirely new lens from which we as a species begin to see all of life in relationship to each other – many threads in one interconnected weaving.

every cell in my being is already feeling this way of being coursing through our collective experience. but change, especially change that upends the building blocks of how life has been structured, can be scary and has its own timeline. so let’s not confuse the tight grip and loud bark of the patriarch as regression… this is a sign of progress. when someone, or an idea, isn’t ready to die, it doesn’t go down quietly.

during the women’s retreat i co-led in bali last month our manta was… “pause,  breathe, soften… love” perhaps these four simple steps are tools we can use to move with more grace out of the patriarch and into a more relational, interconnected way of being.

what would conversations around politics, or at work, or with your family… or even with yourself, look like if you followed these four simple cues? what if everyone first included a moment to:

pause (respond, rather than react)…

breathe (draw in energy from beyond yourself)….

soften (connect to your most flowing, embodied space)…

and love (speak and move from our hearts, rather than your mind)?

may we each pause long enough today to hear yourself… and the next level of consciousness… breathing it’s way towards us my friend.

with love,

vanessa

falling leaves, spaces left

IMG_8182blessed equinox dear ones,

the first twenty-one years of my life were lived in indiana and then massachusetts, where each year at this time, the foliage began an explosion of color and the air turned crisp like the apples. for the last twenty years, i’ve called the temperate, somewhat seasonless, climate of san francisco home, but the autumn air is still my favorite, and i love detecting the little clues that mama nature leaves, showing the transitioning from summer into fall.

this fall, the autumnal experience of falling away has been heightened in my own life by loss. right around the time i would have normally written my september newsletter, two deaths in my close circles stopped my usual flow and created a spacious pause from which i am now beginning to navigate anew.

the first came as a total surprise when a dear friend very unexpectedly lost her newborn infant due to complications in childbirth. sage, the name our friends gave to this precious little girl, breathed on this earth for just a few hours. her death brought up within me, and our community, shock, confusion, anger, deep sadness and ultimately total humble surrender to the mysterious forces weaving together life beyond any of our control.

all births, like all deaths, bring us to our knees in surrender that life’s power resides beyond what our minds can micromanage or really, even comprehend. and when the gap between the two is so devastatingly short – we have no choice but to throw in the white flag and ask for grace and trust to go forward with faith.  

a few days later, while still processing the gravity of sage’s passing, a less surprising, and perhaps more digestible, loss came with the peaceful passing of my 94 year old grandmother edna. she had been ready to go for years, after a long and full life of service, creativity, devotion and deep love for her family and her faith. she left me with so many gifts, including a dedication to writing, song, art, service and witty wordplays. on her final day on earth, she was surrounded by family singing the songs to her that she’d composed earlier in life. when she transitioned at the auspicious moment of 11:11, with her children by her side, there was a deep sense of peace in all of us connected to her.

and yet losing my mother’s mother, my last living grandparent and the woman whose womb was the birthplace of the egg that came to create me twenty-six years later, has shifted the tectonic plates of my psyche in ways hard to express.

that initial week after both deaths, and somewhat even still now, my mind was fuzzy, dancing between the worlds in that liminal space where the veil is thin and sometimes even lifted.  words were often at a loss and life’s been feeling a bit like the empty branches of late fall, waiting dormantly through the winter and into spring when new life will emerge.

every season has shedding, of course – the kind we choose and the kind we have no choice around. but autumn especially reflects a spaciousness, pause and a reminder of that all that we are losing now will turn into the composted riches of next season.

in a couple of weeks, i embark on a month long journey to asia, knowing that as i explore indonesia (a land i’ve never seen) and japan (a land i’ve visited before, that my mother was raised in and that grandma edna and grandpa harold spent nearly four decades in), that both sage and grandma edna will be traveling with me – guiding me from the unknown, through the unknown.

on this equinox, whether you are grieving, growing or both simultaneously, may we each harvest the gifts left in the spaces of loss, and be guided gently toward all that life is readying us for.

much love,

vanessa

these are the emotions in your neighborhood

these are the emotions in your neighborhoodgreetings friends,

last week i went to see “won’t you be my neighbor?” a documentary about fred (mr.) rogers and his iconic television show that helped raise so many children in late twentieth century america.

my inner child and i sat in the theatre remembering this man who was our television neighbor, ally, friend and advocate.

what i mainly remembered before watching the movie was his kind presence and embodiment of pure love (as well as his puppets, train cars, sweaters and songs, of course!) but the movie reminded me that he was also passionately committed to presenting the hard realities of the day in ways that were more digestible for children; giving us all permission to safely feel and emote the wide ranges of emotion that come with being human.

his songs included bright, heart warming favorites like  “i like you as you are”, “it’s such a good feeling” and “won’t you be my neighbor” of course, but also more shadowy songs like “what do you do with the mad that you feel”? and “sometimes isn’t always”

these more somber tunes let kids know it’s okay to mad, frustrated, sad, scared or whatever else they are feeling and reminded us that whatever we are feeling won’t stay ‘always’.

the movie also showed that this man, who had become iconized for his good heartedness and gentleness, had his own moments of feeling frustrated, discouraged, angry and unsure of himself and his purpose in the world.

if mr. rogers made space for all the emotions in the neighborhood, certainly we can give permission for all of ours.

we have been conditioned, for the most part, to think our emotions rather than feel them. we’ve learned that displays of emotion can be unsafe, unacceptable or indicative of poor character. but an emotion, in its purest form, is simply e* (energy) in motion. when we feel safe enough we will naturally emote (cry, laugh, growl, moan, shake, scream, tremble, etc.)  this happens for anywhere from a few seconds to about two minutes; in fact, the full length of an emotional circuit in the body doesn’t exceed two minutes. when an emotion is kept in motion in it entirety, we almost always feel at least a little more space, ease and peace of mind with which to respond to what life is asking of us.

alternately, when we don’t feel safe enough we will wall off the emotion and begin to create stories and painful thoughts about it. the response becomes frozen and shows up in the body as tension, anxiousness or numbness (a strategy our body uses when we short circuit from an overloaded system). all of this bottled up emotion can’t stay contained forever or completely, and it will leak out in toxic ways all over our life, causing eruptive reactions rather than clear responses.  

instead of feeling and safely expressing pure rage for one minute, we might go around leaking out small amounts of irritation for years.

it is also important to acknowledge that the emotion we experience is our own. as mr. rogers tells us, when we aren’t sure what to do with “our mad” we can “stomp, stomp, stomp.” he doesn’t tell the children, you can go scream at your parents and tell them how terrible they are. reactionary emotions directed at someone else are unproductive and tend to be generative of more of the same. when we give ourselves the space to emote without story or blame, then our responses are clearer and truer to our intentions and desired outcomes.

in order to do this we don’t need to just find an outlet – we can remember that we *are* the outlet, we just need to plug in to ourselves.

there are infinite numbers of ways to plug into our emotions. (i’ve shared a fun one below!) listening to or making music is a big one for me. as is screaming in the car with windows up, punching a pillow or dancing wildly with lots of unedited sounds.  or more gently, finding a few quiet moments to do become present with myself or someone i love and trust, and simply acknowledging what feels hard, always opens my emotional gates.

one of my favorite and most and fun, accessible ways to get blocked emotion moving is “the laughing game.”  to play this simple game, you simply set a timer for a minute or two and then laugh for no reason. and then laugh some more about the silliness of laughing for no reason and keep going. you can do it on your own, but is even more fun with friends, and especially children.

i shared this trick with a client of mine who shared it with her toddler son. earlier this week she sent me an audio clip of her four year old teaching his baby sister the game. i’ve had listened to it every day since and laughed right along with it every time, always feeling better after.  below is a clip of it to get you started!

(click here to experience the pure joy of a little one playing the laughing game!)

sometimes we’ve bottled up emotions for so long it can feel like once we open the floodgates, it will never stop. but i promise you it will. and finding a safe place on your body to come back, reground and breath slowly after an wave or two, will be very helpful in that.  

so thank you, mr. rogers, and all the many allies in this world, who remind the children, and the children within us all, that there is wisdom to be found in all the many emotions in our neighborhood…. our sadness sensitizes us for compassion… our fear alerts us to potential threats… our joy reminds us to play through it all. they all play their part in the fullness of our humanity.

laughing, crying, screaming, moaning, shaking, dancing and moving through it all with you,

vanessa

interdependence day

interdependence day illustration

greetings friends —

last week around the solstice, when the sun was shining it’s peak number of hours, i danced on the roof with a small group of close friends. we laughed and posed for hilarious photos and made shadow puppets with our bodies high up on the building across the street. we created impromptu songs and moved our bodies freely and called out for one another to watch ourselves when one of us got a little too close to the roof’s edge.

i felt alive and light… grateful to be in a community of people who value wild expression and objective-free play through all ages of our lives. i felt fully seen and and able to see fully, all at once.

being with them in this way reminded me of the rhythms of my long summer days as a child, when my friends and i would create for the sake of creation and travel through our worlds, real and imagined.

it’s summer my friends — and mama nature is calling us to get out, engage in new creations, soak in the sun (or in my city’s case, the sweet layer of fog) and play. but for those of us who have spent even one minute tuned into the constant string of horrors of the news cycle, sometimes it can feel impossible to locate enough available energy to even consider ways to play and make sweet connection with your community.

today america, in it’s fractured state, observes independence day…  but perhaps true liberation and freedom comes not from the concept of independence from something, but from the experience of interdependence with all. becoming independent inherently implies separation from someone or something. this serves a purpose in certain moments of bondage, when one’s power has been stripped and their agency in life must be reclaimed, but as a way of life, the model of rugged individualism isn’t working and the visible wounds of living in this isolated way are everywhere. going it alone, protecting yourself at the expense of other’s wellbeing – as a country – or as an individual, disconnects us from the true nature of reality. 

technologically speaking the world is reflecting interconnectedness more than ever, and in the face of that, our addiction to tribal and isolationist thinking becomes increasingly toxic and dissonant to our beings.

when we see ourselves as individual beings trying to stay afloat with all that is happening “to” us or our world, connected to our devices, but disconnected from the multi-dimensional reality of the stories we are in taking in, we can feel flat, two-dimensional,  anxious and depressed. from this vantage point, things appear to get worse and worse, stress heightens and the most common instinct, micro or macro, is to isolate further in fear and a false notion of some form of an “other” who is against us and must be fought against.

it serves no one to put our heads in the clouds and ignore the atrocities happening in our country and beyond right now, nor does it serve to bury our heads under the covers in despair and ignore all the beauty and miracles that are unfolding around us every day. when we stay engaged and present as part of the larger whole, there’s room and resourcefulness to respond to it all.

we are all in that all together, friends. the air you breathe out is the air I breathe in. in fact that air contains the same molecules that every living thing that’s ever lived and died on this earth has breathed. pausing to bring attention to your breath, by design, reminds our system of our interwoven nature.

it’s easy to focus only on what’s been taken, or what we fear will be taken, but what if we each shifted our focus to what we are adding to our collective right at this moment? every thought and action you engage with ripples through us all, for better or for worse.

may we each feel supported and connected enough to choose the thoughts and actions that are the most engaging, energizing, beneficial to the whole and lead toward true liberation. and may today, in this country and beyond, be a celebration of our interdependence day – a chance to compost the idea of “other,” step out of isolation and despair and begin to dance, sing, create art and be in the community.

interdependently with you,

vanessa

mama love

32349539_10215192420791445_2679358495127502848_n.jpgblessed mother’s day dear ones,

i just got off the phone with my mother, for whom i am eternally grateful. she is a passionate, compassionate, wise, fierce and beautiful woman who not only gave me the ultimate gift of life, but also a lifelong of unconditional love, support, and lessons on living a heart-centered, creative life. much of who i am is because of her, and (she tells me) much of who she has become is because of me. i know many people have not experienced the gift of a loving, maternal presence in their life, and so i humbly bow in reverence for this gift and happily celebrate her contribution to my life and our world.

but for me, mother’s day is about more than celebrating the woman who birthed me. it’s also about looking at my own relationship to mothering.

from the time i was young i always dreamed of being a mother, and more to the point, of being pregnant. i find this so telling — that it was the magic of the anticipation and creation process that most captivated me – more so than actually raising a child. as a young child i would often put pillows under my shirt and sweetly imagine a little creation growing inside me. i was in awe of pregnant women and animals and always felt like it was god’s magic trick – bringing new life out of what seemed like thin air.

if you had told me as a child or young adult, that i would get into my early forties without becoming a mother, i couldn’t have phathomed it. i was always ambitious and entrepreneurial and had huge dreams for my life beyond having a children – but i never even considered that having my own family wouldn’t be a part of it. much of my thirties was tangled up deeply in emotional and physical turmoil around wanting to be, but not yet becoming, a mother. 

then at some point i realized….   

i am a mother.

every piece of art i make… song i write… business i’ve started… retreat i lead… even dinner i whip up….

is a creation i’ve birthed.

every person i nurture and love unconditionally (including myself)… all the inner children (including my own), that i support the healing of… each time i’ve stood up for and with someone who was cast aside, believing in their fullest potential… all the many projects i’ve nursed over time…

have all been maternal acts.

i am a mother and so are you. regardless of your gender, whether or not you have or want children, what your relationship with your own mother was or is or even whether you consider yourself to be a “creative” or “nurturing” person. the mothering instinct – to create, nurture and unconditionally love and support – lies within us all.

whether i will ever be a mother to my own children is still floating as part of the unknown…and i am at peace with that. but now and always, i will be a mother and continue to love and nurture what’s being created through me.

this mother’s day, may we each pause to feel which parts of ourselves and our world need some healthy mothering. do you have aspects of yourself that have been pushed aside, judged or altogether abandoned? do you have creations that you know long to be birthed through you? the field is ripe my friends, and you are the most present, resourceful mother you have.

with mama love,

vanessa

opening acts

happy (halfway through already) april friends!

the word “april” comes from the latin root “aperire” which means “to open.”

this is a month, within the season of spring, where there is more energy than ever to open up what has been closed… to blossom, all that’s been tightly wound into buds.

each day offers us invitations to stretch open our body, our emotions, our thoughts and other mental constructs, our heart and our souls. the experience of the circumstances we’re part of, sensations we experience and thoughts we have is directly connected to how much available energy we have in the moment. tuning into places where we’re bound up, and inviting an opening in these areas, leads to an energetic liberation that miraculously changes our experiences and wellbeing.

this month has certainly been one of extreme openings for me.

first…

right before the month began, near the end of march, i was on my way to santa cruz to co-lead a retreat. i was feeling open and connected, loving the beautiful drive along HWY 17 and listening to a podcast of one of my mentors, dr. donny epstein.

out of nowhere, while rounding a curve, my car hit a slick spot, did two 360s and went flying across the median into oncoming traffic. during the twenty seconds of so of heading into high speed traffic coming at me on the twisty,  narrow road, a portal opened where my ancestors surrounded me and left me in total peace. i began to sense, in full peace, it may be my time leave this body…. all the while miraculously, other worldly voices began directing each slight turn and move and eventually guiding me safely through to a pull off, where i came to a stop, incomprehensibly having been involved in and causing absolutely no collision or injury.

later, looking back at the narrow stretch road with no shoulder and a tight medium, it was clear that the laws of  earth bound physics morphed and opened beyond linear time and space, somehow making a way for each of us driving that morning to continue on with our lives embodied and unharmed.

almost immediately afterwarwas also able to open and fully emote in wild, non-rational ways, for a good 20-30 minutes before driving again – and somehow left the moment, able to drive and lead the day, feeling clear of any traumatic residue and beaming with overwhelming gratitude and awe.

then…

about a week later, at the beginning of the month, after a year of uprooting, envisioning and surfing through some wildly tough waters, my partner and i finally moved into a new home in san francisco. those of you who follow my letters know what an intense journey this has been. but i’m ecstatic to report, that through a series of improbable miracles, we are now cozying into our little nest in the sweet excelsior neighborhood (and “excelsior” mean, perfectly fitting, “ever upward” or “still higher”).

getting to this point required a willingness to open up the large range of emotions that came along the way. when i was able to fully and freely emote through them – i could ride them, without being snookered into believing they were permanent. the journey also required stretching open my mind into a new story, beyond the multitude of strongly held, limiting narratives about the impossibilities of bay area housing.

and finally…

this last weekend, i was in denver with dr. epstein, who had been playing on my speakers the day of the near accident. i participated in one of his “epienergetic” programs, which was three days of mind bending, indescribable magical experiencing that opened the eyes of my soul even wider to all the abundance, love and beauty that is constantly available to us beyond the blinders of three dimensional reality. i arrived back to my new little home yesterday, flooded with thankfulness and joy beyond utterable words.

and all i want now is to open more…. to each day stretch my body, emotions and soul beyond any previous point. i want to be present with any places where i’ve been containing myself and my life and see what might be ready for upgrading and opening.

what about you? where have been feeling closed in or stuck in a pattern or narrative that is clearly not working? where is life asking to be stretched? what wants to blossom through you?

down below is a soul oriented exercise to do and help get a sense of openness in your body – that may help you answer the above questions with more clarity.

and i’m fully open to your responses… let’s inspire each other on this journey, like a field of blossoming flowers!

vanessa

time, less?

changing timegreetings friends,

a little less than a week ago, i flew across mountains, fields and time zones, back to california from the midwest where i had been leading a healing retreat and spending time with family and friends.  then, a couple days after arriving in SF, the clocks sprung forward on us all and my body once again did it’s best to conform to the shaky construction of time. ever since then my circadian rhythms have been playing catch up, springing forward, finding my way back into a routine that supports sustained energy through my day.

much of the world doesn’t conform to this sociological party game with time we call daylight savings time, including indiana where i grew up. where it does take place, there is a collective agreement to go along with this new time, admitting time is an illusionary construction and not “real” in any solid sense. quantum physics has long told us this, of course, and we agree to this knowing, twice a year at 2am when we all collectively agree to add or subtract an hour from our timepieces.

this understanding – that time is an illusion, can inform how we move life even beyond springing forward or falling back. when our stressed out, overloaded mind tells us that “there’s not enough time” to get everything done – or when our anxious or bored mind tells us “there’s too much time” to wait for what we want – we can respond with pausing and simply connecting to the moment. the amount of time we have is more closely connected to our perception of the amount of time we have, than to the number of seconds that tick away.

when we are fully focused and present, the ideas of time can melt away and the infinite space in each moment arises. this awareness shifts our priorities, perspective and level of energy. our rush becomes hushed, and we somehow meet the real needs of our day and life with ease.

these spacious moments come when you are deeply engaged in an activity you’re passionate about, or spending connected time with a person or animal, or in a place, you love. it can happen when we are exercising hard or meditating, or simply when we intentionally move our breath in, and then out of our body. the perception of spacious and gracious time comes whenever we are present enough to be in what is, rather than what we think otherwise should be. below are some ways to help hush the rush, and flow through life with the perception of perfect timing.

this month, as winter winds down and the signs of new life begin to emerge with spring, may we all pause long enough to feel the nowness of each moment — and time in a new, more fluid, spacious way.

timelessly,

vanessa

 

in (co)operation

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greetings dear friends,

wednesday morning i awoke at 4:30am and took myself, along with a satchel of altar items (gemstones, cards, candles, etc.), up to the roof of our current home for a ritual underneath the eclipsing full (blue, blood, and super) moon. i soaked in the lunar power, and offered back my gratitude, reverence and requests for all that i desire to come in this next month, individually and collectively. i do these types of rituals often, especially when the moon is showing off with notable magnificence, and have seen powerful, even miraculous, shifts in my life afterward.

does my altar time alter the course of actual events or just my perception of, and ability to move with, them? does it matter?

one of the wisest women on the planet right now, caroline casey, says…

“magic is simply the willingness to cooperate with everything”

we are never operating on own and not one of us can control the patterns of the universe at whim. but we also aren’t ever left alone, powerlessly faced to deal with however life is happening TO us. rather we are in cooperation with a life that happening WITH us and FOR us… operating, creating, dancing along with all the other rhythms of the universe. we don’t just have the *option* to do this — in every single moment of our lives we *are* in this.  every thought you have is creative, and adding a thread to the weaving of your reality.

when practicing the art of improv, the main instruction is simply to say “yes” to whatever comes your way. the truth is, life is an improv performance… and when we accept the reality that lands in our path without resistance, then we are invited to the stage to come co-create the next moment of reality together. what we resist, persists. but what we play along with, plays along with us – and suddenly an abundance of untapped, bound up resourcefulness, resilience and creativity can flow from us.

life doesn’t stop being what it is simply because we heckle and argue against what we don’t like from the sidelines… but it will begin to transform, and so will we, when we open our hearts and say “yes, this is happening and i can choose what meaning i give it and collaborate toward what i desire to come next.”

“cooperators are standing by,” caroline casey also reminds us, inviting our peripheral vision to expand to see where the allies, gifts and untapped resources are within us and around us. this is where energy unleashes and magic unfolds effortlessly.

how much energy are you spending pushing against, refusing to accept, what is? where else could you use that energy this month, in support of co-creating what you desire?

in co-operation and love,

vanessa

**below is an exercise to help uncover and shift the energy of anything you’ve been challenged by saying yes to…

***if you are interested in following the work of the marvelous and magically wise caroline casey – you can learn more and listen to her radio show here: https://coyotenetworknews.com/radio-show/

soul oriented exercise:

the following exercise will help discover where you are resisting your life, and open up energy that has been previously bound. find a time when you have 15-20 minutes of time that you can mindfully journal about the following questions. if you are feeling stuck or want more support, feel free to reach out to me!

*what is something in your life that you are resisting right now?

*what do you feel is being kept from you because of whatever you are resisting?

*what emotion does this thing/person/circumstance evoke in you?

*is there anywhere in your body that feels tense or unsettled when you think of it?

**at this point, place your hands on any part of your body that feels tense, unsettled or in any way connected to this story. take a few slow deep breathes in through your nose and out through your mouth and make the sound of frustration, powerlessness or whatever emotion feels resonant. then say “sometimes i feel so… (fill in the blank of the emotion that’s here)”

afterwards notice whatever shows up — any shift in the physical sensation? any other new awareness? then, come back to these questions when you are ready…

*what is the deeper need, underneath this circumstance, that’s not being met in your life right now? (space, self-care, love, acknowledgment, rest, etc.)

*is there any way in which you can offer yourself more of what you need, regardless of what’s happening?

*if you allowed yourself to say yes to and fully accept what is now, how might you be able to respond in a new way to bring forth what you desire?

guided onward

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blessed new year dear ones!

today and tomorrow we sit in the auspicious time where one chapter ends and the next begins.  there is so much richness in these times – when all that no longer serves can be composted into the cosmic garden of life – when all the seeds for all that we hope for can be planted.

this past year, another doozy for us all, has been a time of massive transition in my own life. i moved, completed a 14 year run of teaching yoga classes, started working at two new wellness centers, and committed to putting out the gifts i’m on this earth to offer at a new level. part of this commitment included launching a series of “soul oriented” classes and retreats to support others in living a life more aligned with the essence of who they are. everything in my life that i’ve ever put energy into has has something to do with illuminating life at a soul level, so this feels like an exciting and natural next step.

sometimes it’s hard to remember to see each other and ourselves as the souls that we are.

…a body is something that contains you

… a thought is something that flows through you

 … a place is somewhere you’ve lived

  …a family is the people you’ve lived with

   …a job is some of what you do with your time

    …a hobby is some of what else you do

     …an identity is something you claim

      …a personality is something you express

       …a soul is the essence of the YOU experiencing all of these things.

you, as a soul, transcend and include every aspect of yourself – that you that includes your whole self unconditionally and ALL-conditionally.  

your soul, like all beautiful and real things, is not easily understood or explained, but when we experience life at this level we feel it. there is a resonance – with serendipitous, shiver-down your spine kind of connections and moments that dissolve all the illusions of being disconnected or alone.

your soul knows what you don’t yet know you know.

so today, at a time of year when there is a huge focus on what goals you want to focus on in your life, i encourage you first to consider what you, as a soul, desires.

  • what aspects of yourself have fragmented off in order to fit in or avoid conflict?
  • what longing knocks on your door over and over again but remains yet unanswered?
  • what did you love as a child that have been gathering dust in the closet of your psyche and want to come back out to play?
  • what gifts would you love to offer your community.. our world.. if only…?  

now is the time. the messy stew of our world needs the seasoning that only you can offer.

make life easier and commit, today, to making this coming year one that is oriented to the knowing you have at your soul.

below is a simple little exercise i created to help you start wiping the fog off the mirror and seeing your soul a little more clearly. enjoy!

with love,

vanessa

*use your name (whatever name you most resonate with and enjoy being called – it can be your birth name, a nickname or even a name you’ve always identified with, but never gone by). write out the letters of the name, vertically, like this:

M

A

R

Y

then close your eyes and recall a time in your life when you felt most alive, energized and resonate with your truest self — it could be from childhood or adulthood. if no time comes to mind – make it up! the physiology of our bodies doesn’t discriminate in responsiveness to what really happened and what we are imagining is happening. let your visualization be as vivid and detail rich as possible. if you’d like you could even draw or write out this experience to enhance the feeling of it. then, go back to your name paper and write down a word that is resonate with how you felt in that experience, that corresponds with each letter. remember – you can’t get it wrong! just write out the first, positive, energizing and congruent word that comes to mind. then see if one or more these words could become mantra words for you to focus on amplifying in the coming year

personal example from when i did this exercise:

V – VITAL

A – ALIVE!

N – NOTICING DETAILS

E – EFFUSIVE

S – SILLY

S – SENSUAL/SENSITIVE

A – ALIGNED

thanks(giving) and receiving

giving and receiving

 

blessed gratitude day dear ones,

for the first time in my 41 thanksgiving days i’ve been alive and in this country, i have no holiday specific plans for today. for the last 13 years one of my dear friends and i have co-hosted a “friendsgiving” filled with our tofu turkeys, sweet potato cornbread and cranberry buckle (i still don’t know the difference between a cobbler and a buckle, but she promises me there is one). but last month she moved away from california, and a few months before that we moved out of the home which so sweetly held all those gatherings, so i sit here in the liminal space, one tradition completed, a new one not yet created, and open my heart to the spaciousness of the day.

in the space, with much else stripped away, what i feel into the word of the day itself… thanks and giving. the “thanks” is for all we receive – and the “giving” is for all we are offering. but really, the two are one in the same.  

at a quantum level, we are (the entire universe is) made up acoustical waves. what we call cells or what we call anything, is simply (and miraculously) a patterned combination of frequencies. like the acoustic waves that we experience in the form audible sounds, frequencies go through us, activating responses from us.

what we give our attention or intention to, we automatically take from. you cannot give without receiving. you cannot take without giving something back. the laws of the universe make this so.

since everything we give gives back, it is helpful to be intentional about how and to what we are giving our time, energy and attention. when we give with conditions or out of incongruent conditioning and “shoulds,” the frequency becomes dissonant and we are likely to end up feeling depleted, burned out or resentful, with little room to experience authentic gratitude.

but we are biochemically designed to give and receive in an aligned way. our body rewards us with a rush of feel-good chemicals and expansiveness when we give and receive things congruent with our deepest truth. when we give under duress, or misplace our focus, the brilliant barometer that is our body let’s us know we are off mark by flooding itself with stress hormones and contraction. the former leaves us feeling renewed and inspired to give even more, the latter leaves us depleted and shut off from the true source of life that is relationship and connection.

start where you are.

rather than jumping to trying to find the gift in your pain, simply and intentionally offer thanks for all that, right now, IS in alignment in your life. amplify these parts, so that, like a powerfully contagious song that can slowly get everyone dancing, every part of us moves to a more resonant rhythm. eventually, even the painful aspects of life can be moved through with grace and even gratitude.

i am so grateful for all you offer to me, and all you allow me to offer to you. in just taking the time and attention to read this letter, our hearts dance as one.

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