As I witness all this outrageous trauma playing out on the global stage between man and woman, one of the most poignant components it illuminates for me is the power we hold in how we choose to steward our daughters and sons in these times. What is our part to play in creating something different for the rising generations?
I pray we can model for our daughters what it means to powerfully use her voice; what it looks like to embody true self-respect and self-care; what it is to know her sovereign worth and power in the world; to cherish the sanctity of her sexuality, and treat her own body as a temple. I pray we can model for her how to deeply honor the masculine; how to respectfully perceive his vulnerability and not feed his shame. How to honor him for his whole self, his strength and passion of purpose alongside his tender uncertainty; how to celebrate his accomplishments while embodying compassion for what’s still growing in him.
I pray we can model for our sons how to become self-respecting men of true power and integrity; men who value their own capacity to feel, listen, empathize, emote and attune with others; to boldly stand up for truth, and to know their sex as a sacred extension of their powerful hearts. I pray we can raise him to deeply respect the feminine; to honor her intuition, her body and her multi-faceted expression. How to honor her for her whole self, her depth and radiance alongside her sensitive needs; how to celebrate her victories while holding space for her evolving maturity.
I want us to continuously teach our children how to stay vigilant and aware of any signs of danger or violation, to trust the wisdom of their instincts, and to speak out bravely if they notice anything is off. I want them to value their ability to be brilliantly discerning and to clearly distinguish what’s ok from what’s not ok.
I want us to continuously model for our children how to stay in right relationship with alcohol and other substances; how to recognize the difference between medicine and poison in their own bodies, and how to directly meet their discomfort, grief, rage and despair, rather than seek to numb their pain.
I want them to know that what’s really, unbelievably “cool”, like, truly the coolest thing of all~ is to be real and honest and accountable; to say thank you, and I’m sorry; to take responsibility, to apologize, and to forgive.
Children who learn in the deepest way how to love and respect themselves—their own bodies, hearts and souls— grow into adults who inherently love and respect those around them; who come to lead others in a way that shines with radical dignity and decency and life-changing kindness.
In this way, modeling self-love, self-respect, restraint, courage and integrity feels to me like one of the most revolutionary actions we can take in these times. It’s no small task, but hey, we signed up for this. ~*~
When I discern the distinction between what is and is not my business, this immediately impacts my experience of life. It directly informs my embodiment of honesty, integrity and dignity. It frees up my life force to be directed only where it’s meant to go.
There is a subtle mechanism of self-listening that can alert us to whether we are attending to our own business, or something other than our business. I’ve found it can be extremely useful to turn up the volume on this mechanism of overhearing oneself— in thought, in action, in where we are placing our attention— and see if what we are attending is truly our own business, or in fact something else?
Sometimes this can be a surprising and counter-intuitive revealing! At times what seems to be entirely my business— such as an intimate unfolding in my personal life— when I check and see, is actually NOT my business at all! And the opposite can also be true. Sometimes the struggles or needs of seeming “strangers,” or global issues of far-reaching impact, when I really inquire within, are exposed to be entirely the business of my heart and prayers.
When I fail to mind my own business, sometimes the first clue is feeling bothered by something I can’t control. Another clue can show up as an intensely opinionated or righteous stance about my own or another’s life unfolding. Tending to business other than my own can conveniently serve to distract me in avoidance or procrastination around that which IS my business. It can also be a way of subconsciously resisting the discomfort of continuous uncertainty.
What IS our business—yours and mine??
I can tell you why this question matters for me, personally. It matters to me because life is fleeting, presence is precious, and attention is the currency with which we “spend” our life energy. I can’t speak for you, but I want my life to be of good use. I want to find fulfillment in the tedium, as well as the glory. I want each day for my attention to flow in the directions that can best serve my life’s offering and expression. I want to make LOVE my primary business. And to do that, to BE that, I need to clearly and honestly face everything else I make my business that runs contrary to this love.
When our own peace and love is truly our main business, and we take responsibility for the creation of anything other than that, we have a chance to move into right relationship with life. We no longer demand that Life dutifully perform and provide us with the experiences and people and exchanges that will bring us joy and security and peace. We instead realize that it’s none of our business what Life does, or what other people do. Our business is to meet our lives and whatever they bring with the precise presence of heart we wish to experience.
How about for you? How are you at minding your own business? 😉 When it really comes down to it, what is the business of your lifetime?? What do you want? Where is your attention?
I love you! ~*~
Today as I feel into the vitality of self-love within me, it feels most essentially composed of self-respect, self-compassion, self-trust, self-forgiveness, and a generous dose of no longer giving a fuck about anything it doesn’t serve me to!
Granted, these qualities are far easier to string together in a sentence than to truly embody. I’m inspired to try and articulate some of my thoughts on self-respect, specifically. Because I don’t know about you, but for me, self-respect has been particularly hard-won. It has come with time and grit, vigilance and resolve; an ongoing willingness to intimately face inside myself that which hasn’t been respectable in the least.
Almost two decades ago, my masterful spiritual mother Gangaji said to me: “You must learn true self-respect. You must learn to be as fierce as a mother lion in your own care!” This comment did not come out of the blue. She had been watching me caught in an unbearable cycle of suffering with a lover who was not a healthy match for me. There was a way I had become oddly addicted to the painful emotional drama this relationship entailed. Somewhat masochistically, I just kept going back for more.
Due to what I now understand must have been some degree of unresolved wounding, at that stage I still lacked the true self-respect necessary to know my own worth, to value my own deep listening about the truth of what I wanted, to speak this clarity and choose to align my life with it, come what may. As I discovered the courage to break this pattern, the toxic relationship was released once and for all, leaving in its place a wholehearted prayer to fully receive the lessons I had been given, so I wouldn’t need to attract them in that way ever again.
In retrospect I can say that from that point on, I was able to stand true to my realization and my prayer to embody deeper self-respect in relationship. I never found the need to attract another partner whose qualities might tempt me to repeat that specific masochistic pattern again. However I would say that every relationship since then has profoundly served to trigger and test my resolve for true self-respect.
What true relationship doesn’t?
It’s such a juggling act— the way relationship asks us to neither abandon nor betray ourselves to cater to another’s needs, while surrendering bravely to the humbling commands of Love.
One of the most important ways we can foster true self-respect is through active inquiry; through listening to our own heart, and then daring to honor what it is we hear. When we realize we are accountable to our own living Truth, we stand tall in the self-respect this awards.
When we realize what choices are in alignment with our evolving self, and then line our living actions up with that, this tends the garden of self-respect. If instead we choose to ignore or minimize what we know to be true, the cost of this pattern over time is a vitally diminished self-respect, and a lack of trust in our capacity to live from our holy integrity.
Have you ever noticed how we become trustworthy and respectable to others only in direct proportion to the degree we trust and respect ourselves?
When we do not respect nor trust ourselves to live in alignment with our deepest hearts, how can we expect anyone else to trust or respect us?
This cycle of self-deceit and self-betrayal feeds an insidious pattern of self-loathing, potentially causing dis-ease on all layers of our being, which then easily translates to dis-ease at all levels of our world.
What does it mean to be “as fierce as a mother lion” in our own care? To me it means that we defend our own integrity, our sacred sovereignty, own tender aliveness, the sanctity of our soul’s worth, and we treasure our deepest knowing with all the ferocity we can muster. It means that we love ourselves enough to not betray our own bodies, our health, our heart’s wisdom, our sacred attention, by behaving in ways that diminish our dignity and honor.
It means that when the temptation to follow an addicted or fixated response arises, (whether that be to a substance, a person, a behavior, or an emotional/mental tendency) we know better. We know from experience what following this temptation will lead to, and we know all too well the cost to our self-respect. It means that we finally choose the delicious sobriety of self-respect over the tempting familiarity of avoidant distraction, reactivity, or some glory of fleeting pleasure.
One of the most valuable ways we can cultivate self-respect, is by discovering firsthand our capacity to meet any discomfort and challenge that comes our way. When we discover that we can face the dreaded boredom, loss, aloneness, shame, rage, futility, despair, illness, failure, and rather than indulge a habitual reaction to this discomfort, instead choose to simply feel the array of feelings rising within us— then we discover the invaluable knowing that we are capable of bearing this life, as it is.
But of course in our still-learning, ever-humbling human ways, inadvertently we fail. We fail to be sober or mature in our response each time we get triggered. We fail to be unwaveringly vigilant. We fail to be consistently respectful of another’s perspective or psychic space. Like just yesterday morning, when I lashed out angrily at one of my Beloveds, from a place of deep internal hurt. Ouch. 🙁
And yet how important to notice the ways in which each mistake serves to hone our self-awareness, while beckoning an authentic path home towards repair— inside our own hearts and that of those we hold dear.
When we recognize how to balance this fierce sword of discerning self-respect, with true respect for others, gracious self-compassion and self-forgiveness for all the human ways we undoubtedly fall short, then we know we can trust ourselves with our life. What a thing to know: we can be trusted with our own life!
When we trust ourselves with life, this is deep self-love. From resting in this love with ourselves, absolutely anything is possible. ~*~
We just got home last night from a week of gorgeous ocean air and family beach play down in West Sonoma County. It was such a sweet relief to escape the smoke for a bit. It was a tender time for us as well, as we all stretched open wider into these deepening bonds.
This was the first time in a year Wilder and I became ready for him to be carried in the pack on my front body, and as we walked the long stretch of beach he snuggled so deeply into my Mama bosom and heart. I’ve carried him in the pack on my back since I met him, but there’s a particular intimacy in carrying a child on the front, snuggled close into the belly and chest. It invokes a delicious feeling of primal connection and sacred togetherness.
It’s been an utterly profound, humbling, and at times deeply painful process this past year to allow the attachment between Wilder and I to organically find itself; claiming our mammalian cells and human hearts. Creating secure attachment as a mother to Arayla and Ezra was a process I was able to completely take for granted. Our attachment felt (and feels) like a divine given; as natural, simple and enduring as love itself.
And yet creating secure attachment with our beloved Wilder— this child I did not consciously wish for, nor conceive, nor grow inside my womb, nor birth, nor nurse from my breasts— has been an altogether different journey. It has asked for unending patience with myself, maturity, careful listening and deep respect for Wilder’s process.
With all the layered complexity and inner conflict my Mama presence has invoked for his heart at times, learning to feel safe and bonded in our love has taken a lot of courage for both of us. Maybe that’s why it feels particularly special when I can feel the trust opening and deepening between us; when I can feel this primal unmistakable presence of maternal love for him surging raw within me; when I can feel it moving into the realm of “a divine given; as natural, simple and enduring as love itself.”
What a fierce teacher and teaching this has been! Allowing our bonding to take its own path, form and timing— has broken, opened, seasoned and wisened my heart like no other relationship. I’ll be writing more about this potent and vulnerable topic, I’m certain.
For now I’ll simply say: here’s to Love in all its wild and wily forms and the many wondrous ways Love brings us to our knees, so as to grow us up into the very one we want to be!
My son Ezra and I had a glorious breakthrough about boredom a few days ago, and I’m inspired to share it with you, in case it just might be contagious. (And no, it wasn’t about boredom breeding creativity or genius or whatever it was someone wise once said, though I’m sure that’s totally true too. ;-))
It all started when I found myself navigating a serious Saturday morning funk. These weeks of unending smoke in our valley— making the children stir-crazy in full-blown complaint— were really starting to get to me. Along with the simple challenge of needing to keep our active kids inside, it was consequently invoking a seemingly endless battle with Ezra about screen-time. The combination of his restless agitation and a constant vying for passive entertainment was becoming as exhausting for my ears as it was excruciating for my heart.
I’d also had a nasty headache on and off for days, and was pining for the personal space needed to work on my book. It was all feeling rather depressing and maddening. In my pain I began getting grouchy with my beloveds~ stingy with kindness, nit-picky, critical, and sloppily tossing around my agitated scowl.
Thankfully I finally overheard and oversaw myself, noticed the essential choice at hand, and realized an immediate attitude shift was in order. I escaped momentarily into the privacy of our master bedroom, took a cleansing shower, and then softly and deeply invoked the remembrance of gratitude.
Oh my, oh wow, thank you. Thank you for the sweet truth medicine of Thank You. How it changes everything!
I dropped through the sticky layers of emotional discontent, all my wants and un-wants, and simply let my guard down— to myself, to the smoke, to the day. I looked around my bedroom through these fresh-seeing eyes of my heart and gasped to notice white gladiolas standing tall in elegant bloom on our bedroom altar!
I had placed them there myself, two days earlier, but I hadn’t really seen them until now. Oh the gift of seeing flowers offering their open bloom~ what an honor this is! And just like that, I found my heart flooded with humble thankfulness for the abundantly blooming love and beauty of this lifetime.
I took a deep breath and knew I needed to go out there and meet my amazing boy Ezra and his restless struggle in an utterly new way.
I found him in the living room and wrestled him into lying on one of our healing mats. I started giving him some bodywork~ shiatsu style~ really working his meridians, reveling in the powerful trust between us. I even sat on top of him while I massaged his points, giving him something tangible to struggle against. Ezra’s such an incredibly embodied being and I knew if I could help him move his physical stagnancy, it would immediately loosen up his emotional energies as well.
It was then, while I sat on top of him, smooshing and trapping him, working his heart, lung and large intestine meridians, that Ezra and I stumbled into a fairly fabulous breakthrough about boredom.
It went something like this:
Ezra, sincerely irritated, his face scowling with aversion, whined: “It’s just because I’m SOOOOOO BORED, Mom.”
How many times have I heard this plaint of boredom? But for some reason this time, freshly cleansed by true gratitude, I just dove freely into it with him.
I said, “Oh my God, I know. Me too! I’ve NEVER been more bored than this. Ugh~ what a boring day and boring life. It’s the most awful thing in the world to be SO BORED.”
Ezra seemed shocked by my response. He was incredulous: “Well I’m even more bored than that! WAY more bored than you. Like, the most bored EVER!!”
I retorted: “Impossible. I’m the most bored person of all! And, you know what? YOU are the most boring! Wow oh wow this is just SOOO BORING.” I yawned loudly for emphasis.
Ezra, looking horrified, but a slight smile starting to appear, squealed: “What? Me~ boring? How DARE you?!”
I guffawed: “Oh my God. Truly? This is the most boring conversation I’ve ever had! I mean— talking on and on about being bored? What could be more boring than this? It’s the worst! I’ve never been more bored in my life!”
Ezra, laughing hard: “YOU are so boring! YOU are the MOST boring person and this is the MOST boring day, and the most boring Summer EVER. And this is the most boring thing to even talk about! God, Mom!”
By now he was giggling madly, squirming as my meridian work turned into deep tickles in his ribs. I was still sitting on him, giving him as much weight as possible to push against.
I gave another exaggerated yawn, patting my mouth, saying loudly: “BOR-ING!”
Ezra, wailing with laugher, cried out: “We are the MOST BORED!!”
Laughing too, my heart so deeply glad, I agreed wholeheartedly: “Truly, we are bored beyond belief.”
We grinned at each other.
Then I said, “Can I take a picture of you being SO unbelievably bored?” I grabbed my phone and took his picture. He howled with laughter. Then I showed him the picture and said: “This is you, bored out of your mind. Looks pretty fun, huh? Maybe we should try to get bored more often?” 😉
Ezra took my picture then as well, saying: “This is you being the most boring Mom a boy could ever have.” His undying fondness for me was oozing from his shining blue eyes.
From that moment on, we decided we rather fancied being bored. I suppose we discovered the gem of not resisting it?
I mean how many times have the kids complained of being bored, usually invoking some fleeting mixture of irritation, futility and helplessness, imagining I was then supposed to think up something great for them to do, or generously remind them of their capacity for creative brilliance?
How fabulous instead to just be completely bored and boring and let this wild moment of fresh presence trample all over it.
How wondrous to remember the transformational power of simply allowing something to be. And to remember how easily a challenging dynamic can shift— with a little rapport, openhearted humor, and a refusal to insist that it shift.
So here’s to finding gratitude in the grumpiest, scowliest moments, and to discovering the riveting nectar of absolute boredom!