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In this video Jesua shares wisdom from Brené Brown regarding a super simple breathing technique used by Yogis and Navy Seals alike, to summon the choice to respond, rather than to react—in everyday moments of stress or trigger…
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This morning as I drove my boy Ezra (10) to his basketball camp in Medford, we dropped into a mutually surprising dialogue.
At first we were actually discussing egoic fixation according to the lens of the Spiritual Enneagram, a system that has profoundly impacted my perspective for over twenty years.
Personally, I found this to be an entirely delightful way to share our time in the car together, but I think Ezra must have been getting a little bored, because suddenly he changed the conversation, asking me with a playful glint in his eye, “What kind of car do you think that is, Mom, right there in front of us?”
I looked at the car he was referring to, a sleek silver car driving directly in front of us in the left lane of the highway. I squinted my eyes a little, looking for clues, and admittedly knowing nothing about cars, I offered up meekly, “Gosh. I don’t know… is it a Porsche?”
Ezra’s eyes widened in disbelief: “NO! Oh my God, no.” He shook his head wildly, laughing a little at my ignorance.
I giggled and tried guessing again: “Is it a Lamborghini?”
This time both of his hands went to his head, horrified: “No! Mom, those are like three-hundred-thousand-dollar cars! That is NOT a Lamborghini…no, Mom, no.” He shook his head.
I shrugged off his outrage, defending myself, “Well Gosh, how am I supposed to know what kind of car it is? It just looks like a fancy little race car to me. What kind of car is it then?”
His eyes were shining bright and wide. Clearly he was enjoying being the expert.
He said slowly: “It’s a MUSTANG, Mom. A Boss Mustang. It’s a muscle car. See how it’s got curves, like a muscle? It’s a race car with an engine built to perform.”
I nodded with interest, saying, “Wow, ‘built to perform’, huh? You sure do know a lot about that?! Have you been, like, studying race cars privately in your spare time?” 😉
He laughed, “No…I just like them, I guess.”
I asked, “Are you thinking you might want a car like that someday?”
He shrugged, still studying the one driving in front of us, as he replied, “A Mustang? Nah… That’s not really my kind of car.”
I asked: “No? How come?” I found it fascinating that he had somehow come to have so many opinions on this topic, something so far from my own mind and attention.
He sighed and seemed to be sorting through plenty of thoughts in response, but was figuring it would probably go over my head.
After a few moments, he said, “Anyway, I’ve heard that Mustangs are ‘Small Penis Cars.’”
Ha! This shocked me a bit, and laughing out loud I said, “What?! What does that even mean?”
He giggled. He said, “It’s true. That’s what people say. That Mustangs are usually bought by men with small penises who are trying to feel more powerful. You know—they’re like, trying to appear bigger, with their car?” 😉
My jaw dropped. This conversation was definitely veering off in a completely new and unfamiliar direction.
Still humored, but also feeling the potency of the topic, I chose my words carefully as I commented, “That’s a really interesting idea, isn’t it? That we might buy something like a car, or some other object that appears powerful or valuable, so as to try and make up for some way we feel like WE aren’t enough?“
He nodded in agreement, saying, “Yep. It’s interesting alright…or just weird.”
I was quiet, thinking it through for a moment. I mused—here is my vibrant and innocently growing boy, raised with consciousness and awareness, carefully guided and protected, and already he’s received potent societal imprints and notions about preferable ways for a man’s body to be. I likened it to the damaging body-image conditioning our girls also receive in this culture from the time they are small.
I took a breath, and asserted: “But you know, there’s really nothing wrong with having a small penis…”
My son’s eyes got really wide, his eyebrows lifted, and chuckling, he said, “Oh really, Mom?! Fabulous! Thanks for sharing that…” He shook his head with mortified disbelief.
I continued: “Seriously though, I know men can get caught up a bit with penis size. And I’m sure as a woman I can’t completely understand what that’s about. But in my perception, it’s much less about size, and more about the powerful connection between a man’s penis and his heart, and his capacity to work with his energy.”
Ezra laughed, squirming a bit in his seat. His face reddened, as he said sarcastically, “Great, Mom! Great to know!” I could see it was making him a little uncomfortable, but he also seemed to be genuinely enjoying this open dialogue.
I added, “It’s true. It’s not so much about the shape or size of our bodies, but more about our true love for ourselves, and our courage and confidence in letting our bodies be an expression and extension of this love.”
I added, “And you know? Personally I’ve known men with smaller penises who are incredibly powerful, confident, beautiful, amazing men…who don’t feel any need to compensate for anything.”
At that, Ezra held up his hands in protest, chuckling: “T.M.I. Mom! T.M.I.!”
I giggled, glancing at him, saying, “Really? I crossed the line right there?”
He laughed, “Yeah, I really don’t want to think about my mom ‘knowing men’ with any kind of penises. God, Mom.” He was shaking his head, looking at me like I was a little crazy, but with a lot of love splashing out of his eyes.
I winked at him, “Fair enough, dude.” 🙂
We pulled into the parking lot of his camp, and he grabbed his backpack and water bottle and tumbled out of the car, tossing out affectionately, “See you later! I love you!”
I shouted after him, “I love you!” And internally I said to him: May you continue to innocently love your body, your penis, the wholeness of your human self, and never feel any need to compensate for any sense of lack within.
May you continuously respect yourself, your sacred life and body, and allow this respect to inform the way you respectfully walk in the world.
May you know your true worth, your extraordinary value—simply in being yourself.
Last year during fire season, as the fires began encroaching upon the periphery of our town here in Southern Oregon, I began to regard the dry, brittle trees standing closest to our house with an anxious eye.
My strong, gallant partner (at the time) quickly got to work, devotedly clearing away the trees and branches that could most naturally lend themselves as kindling, should the fires arrive to our land.
It was a powerful act of loving care and protection that carried a particularly poignant weight. This gesture of protecting our home from the local wildfires came in a moment that found us simultaneously navigating fast-moving flames of a different nature, actively threatening the viability of our sacred union and family.
The icing on the cake of that devoted act was when my partner sweetly surprised me by mounting a few wooden birdhouses in place of the missing branches he had removed.
It made me so happy when I looked out into the trees from our house and saw what he had done! The birdhouses were like a prayer—bringing in the potential for hosting new life. Life that could thrive.
For a few weeks the birdhouses remained empty, but one day a small, black-capped chickadee moved in to the birdhouse just adjacent to our master bathroom.
Every morning while we showered we would watch that magnificent little bird flit and flutter, emerging from her tiny house, perching at the entrance, and then flying off into her day.
In a time that found my heart often wrought with angst and uncertainty, that little chickadee filled me with innocent joy and hope. We fondly and somewhat humorously named her “Hope”, and played with the word, saying silly things like, “Hope comes and goes,” or in harder moments we’d mutter wryly, “Nope, Hope’s nowhere to be seen.”
All fall we enjoyed her presence. She was our precious neighbor, bringing such sweet and joyous medicine. I was delighted to read online that Chickadees as animal totems are symbolized as cheerful and truthful beings who teach us the art of flexibility, along with protection, defense, bravery, and adjustment. All of these energetics were ones we were working with on a daily basis in our home.
Then it got cold, and colder still. Finally it snowed, covering Hope’s house with ice and several inches of snow. I can only imagine how she must have needed something warmer, safer, more stable and nourishing.
And so, unsurprisingly, she left.
Not long after, in the coldest, darkest part of Winter, after eighteen months of carefully making a family together, my partner and his little boy moved out of our house. The fiery circumstances that had burned at the periphery of our home for so long had finally made their destructive way into the very center of our home and family, breaking our tender hearts and requiring us to separate.
One chilly and snowy morning, a few weeks after they left, I got into the shower, and when I turned to look out the window I could hardly believe my eyes! It was Hope! She was back, flitting and fluttering in and out of her snow-covered house. I ran dripping naked through the house, looking for my phone, then quickly ran back to take a picture of her, which I sent to my partner. I texted happily: “Look who’s back?!” And he replied: “She’s so attuned.”
But two days later she was gone again, never to return.
For a little while we didn’t know if his needing to move out meant we were actually breaking up. Through everything we had weathered, our love and passion remained so deep and strong.
It was difficult to accept that such a profound love could be dismantled by an external destructive force. But with time it was clear that the mystery of life was simply choosing a different path for us and our love than either of us could have expected or desired.
Spring came, and tiny green buds unfurled into leaves. Every morning in my shower I would glance to the little birdhouse and make note of its persistent emptiness. I thought to myself—I understand why Hope can’t return. But couldn’t another little bird maybe come and make a home?
I longed for the return of that sweet, innocent joy I had received simply in witnessing a bird being itself. I wondered if maybe birds mark their territory in some possessive way, making it an instinctual faux-pas to move into another bird’s abandoned home?
And then yesterday, on the first day of my children’s Summer break, I rose to shower. And when I looked out the shower window, I noticed, for the first time in many months, there was movement surrounding Hope’s house.
I stood there for a long time, the hot water pounding down upon me, as I took in this startling sight. Big, golden wasps, too many to count, were buzzing in and out through Hope’s doorway. The nerve!
The wasps made me frown. They worried me. I didn’t enjoy their vibe. I thought to myself with a tone of sarcastic cynicism: How fucking perfect.
Their presence didn’t inspire joy, but instead a feeling of irritated defense. I wondered what it would take to remove them, and then I felt a bit futile, imagining it would be fairly impossible to remove them without using poison or causing multi-faceted harm to the natural order of things.
Then, this morning, slowly waking alone in my bed, I curled onto my side, noted the bright light of new day shining in, and openly pondered the reality of the wasps. Quietly, I asked myself: I wonder what Wasp medicine is about?
And so the first thing I did when I sat down at my desk and opened my computer was to look up Wasp Medicine.
I opened a link from Rev. Nancy Schluntz, who wrote eloquently: “As a Shamanic totem, Wasp is a powerful female warrior and healer energy who urges us to another level. She takes care of her own, and fights back when disturbed. She helps others learn the hard lessons of humility and the appropriate use of power—that stinger is not to be used indiscriminately.
She’s also reminding us that resistance to change is self-sabotage. When wasp buzzes by, she’s reminding us to follow her example. Make dreams a reality by actually working on them: plan, persevere, take action, and don’t let anything get in your way. Remember the hive mind, allowing yourself to believe that all things are possible, and that you deserve to have your dreams come true.”
When I read these incredible words, on point in so many ways, I immediately felt a defensive armor around my heart soften. Humbled tears came to my eyes. I thought to myself—Wow, Wasp—my friend and ally. Who would have known? How perfect your arrival is indeed.
I mean, truly. What an astounding and magical mirror all of life is, if only we dare to look and listen.
Undoubtedly, Life can be hard on our hearts. We don’t always get our way. Perhaps it’s even skillful to assume that we get what we need, more often than we get what we want.
Wildfires come raging, recklessly claiming cherished forms.
Things break and fall apart, again and again. And before we can wisely remember that it’s perfectly making space for something new to arise, it just feels horribly broken.
Sweet, joy-bringing birds fly away and we grieve, and then the wasps move in, bringing lessons of humility and hive-mind manifestation.
Ok then, Life. I say Yes to you.
Life says: Are you sure?
I nod firmly.
I say: Yes. Once again, Yes.
Yes, yes, just as you are. Yes to your Love that looks and feels like this now.
Yes to your Love in all the gritty, grueling and graceful ways it lands upon my heart—teaching me, healing me, asking more of me I ever knew it could.
I say Yes to you. I say: Thank you. I say: Bring it on, Beloved. I say: I’m in.
Single working parenthood has gotten the intimidating reputation that it has because it’s no joke. I mean, obviously any form of parenting is quite the rigorous task. And married or partnered parenting certainly brings its own set of fierce and complex challenges; I remember well.
But single parenting can be a particularly sobering, humbling shitload to juggle—requiring a tremendous amount of ongoing self-compassion, resilience, humor, and devotion.
And sometimes, no matter how much we might wish or will it otherwise—our stress and exhaustion, hormones and triggers can get the better of our parenting. We make painful mistakes with our children, and then get to work with remorse and the blessed opportunity for repair inspired by those mistakes.
One recent evening, I invited my children to join me at our living room altar. They came willingly—open and curious. “What’s up, Mom?” Arayla (14) asked, plopping herself down on the copper-colored meditation cushion to my right. I patted the other empty cushion to my left, motioning to Ezra, as I replied, “I just want us all to have a chance to sit together and share a bit.” Ezra (10) planted his bottom dramatically on the cushion beside me, exhaling deeply.
We all faced the altar. I sat in the middle, between them, and carefully lit the center pillar candle, and the two candles beside it. Everyone was quiet. Then I lit the small bundle of cedar in our abalone shell, letting the sacred smoke cleanse my body, mind and heart before handing the shell to Arayla, who did the same, before reaching around me to hand it to her brother.
After a moment I took a deep breath, and vulnerably shared, “I just want to acknowledge that I’ve clearly been carrying some extra stress lately, my Loves. And I know there have been moments when that stress has leaked out onto you both, through my voice and my energy; moments when I’ve lost my center and my temper.”
They both nodded quietly, listening with presence.
I continued, “And I know I already apologized in the moment, but it’s been weighing heavy on my heart—those moments when I fail to live as love with you. And so I just wanted to say again how sorry I am for any and all of those ways that my energy has felt abrasive to you, or for the moments when my words have been reactive and sharp. I always want to be so skillful and graceful with you, and I’m sorely aware of the ways I fall short.”
I picked up the lighter and burned some more cedar, offering it to Spirit, acknowledging the power in my own prayer.
The kids were quiet, just taking this in. Then Arayla placed her hand on my thigh, and with compassion responded, “Oh Mama, Thank you. And it’s okay, really. You’re holding a lot. I’m sorry we stress you out sometimes! I’m sorry for when we’re bickering and driving you crazy. And thank you for everything you’re giving. Thank you for everything you do for us all the time.”
Then Ezra piped in, “Yeah, Mom, thanks for everything you do for us. And…. I’m sorry for my part too. Like the mess I left in the kitchen yesterday, and for forgetting my homework and my lunch twice this week! And for, you know…when I don’t listen.” His shoulders slumped down, clearly feeling his own remorse of shortcoming.
I smiled at him tenderly and pulled him close. “Thank you, and it’s okay. We are all growing.”
I made eye contact with Arayla, feeling the simple grace of forgiveness flowing between us. I took another breath, and continued, “There’s something else I wanted to say, perhaps especially to you, Ezra.”
He turned to me, looking straight into my eyes, asking, “Yeah, what is it?”
I shifted my position back a little, so we could all see each other. I chose my words deliberately, “I’ve been noticing lately that you’ve been working extra hard to be so helpful around the house, Ezra. You’ve been helping out with cleaning, and taking out the garbage and recycling without being asked, and you’ve been setting the table, and taking out Freya in the morning. So many ways you’ve been really showing up as such a helpful member of our family.” Ezra’s face brightened and his golden chest lifted proudly.
I continued, “And I’ve been praising you every time, haven’t I, and letting you know how wonderful it is to feel your support?” Ezra nodded happily in agreement.
I glanced over at his sister, who raised her eyebrows at me, curious about where this was going. Then I turned and looked deeply into Ezra’s eyes, and slowly, with power behind my words, I said to him, “I just want to make sure you know that you don’t have to be good in order to be loved.”
The room got extra quiet.
I looked back and forth between them, as I continued, “You don’t have to be helpful, or act in a certain way, in order to secure my love.” I paused, to see how this was landing.
Ezra said quickly, “Oh I know Mom, it just feels really good to show up! I like it.”
I nodded in understanding, and then added, “Hey, helpful behavior is a wonderful skill to have in life. It DOES feel good to show up. It’s so important to find meaningful ways of contributing to one another and to our home and to our world, in all the ways we can. And it’s very important in a family that all the work doesn’t fall upon one person.”
I looked at both of the kids, beaming, as I accentuated, “Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE your help. It’s awesome and necessary! Please don’t stop.”
Ezra giggled a little to feel how excited I get about receiving support.
I continued, “BUT I just want to make sure you know that you don’t have to be good. It’s not your job to be good in life. What you give, and what you do, and how you perform, and act—these are not the reasons I love you. Sometimes your behavior triggers me, and sometimes your behavior delights me. But my love for you is constant, having nothing to do with what you do. I love you just for your being, okay?”
I dove into Arayla’s ancient, wise-blue eyes, and echoed to her softly, “I love you just for your being, okay?”
She smiled at me, cozying up to me sweetly, as she mumbled shyly, “Okay, Mom.”
Then Ezra galumphed all of his 105 pounds of ten-year-old boy into my lap, straddling me, almost knocking me over, as he said into my ear, “You don’t have to be good all the time either, Mom. We always love you too.”
I laughed out loud at his quick reversal of the teaching.
I said, “Hmmm, are you sure about that? I thought Mamas were supposed to be good all the time? I’d certainly like to be.”
Ezra shook his head and said, “Nope. Nobody’s supposed to be good all the time Mom, not even you.”
I sighed then, resolutely, and shrugged happily, “That settles that, then.”
Sooner or later, most of us find the need to trade in being good, for simply being wholeheartedly ourselves.
Do you maybe wish to burn some holy cedar now, and truly apologize, and be forgiven, and once again surrender being good for being wholeheartedly yourself? I left my candles lit on my altar for you. Be my guest, my friend. Please be my guest.
In this video, Jesua explores the vulnerability of letting ourselves be seen just as we are. She shines a light on the deeper reality of who we truly are beyond our fleeting appearances, and the every-day ways we can discover to cross the bridge from shame and self-loathing to self-compassion and self-love.
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Lately as I’ve inquired bravely into what is in the way of my absolute surrender to Love’s outrageous use of my life, I’ve seen that I’m still afraid.
Like most of us in the spiritual sub-culture, I’ve come to see my fear as a mostly un-useful bi-product of conditioning; one which serves to keep me small, tight and hesitant in self-doubt; mired in past hurt and future projection.
And yet at times our fear appears to be our evolutionary ally, shining the light on precisely what we need to do, simply because we are afraid of it. When our fear is our ally, it actually points us in the direction of deepening fearlessness, inviting us to rise more fully into our dharma, our genius, our love, our capacity for breathtaking generosity.
Afraid of what, you might ask?
Honestly? At some deep, soul-cellular level, I think I’ve actually been afraid of being killed for taking a huge stand for love.
How many times, I wonder, have I been killed, have any of us been killed, for taking a huge stand on behalf of truth and love? Innumerous times indeed.
Call it a Witch wound, or a Christ wound, or a Gandhi, MLK Jr., or Joan of Arc wound. And so many countlessly nameless, forgotten others. Those of us who have stood up and spoken out boldly for love, for holy truth, for justice, for peace, for freedom have proven this to be a risky calling. The imprints on our collective psyche are undeniable and run deep.
And so, whether it shows up in this current day, age and culture as a fear of social-media stoning, or being burned at the stake of massive projection, or shot for standing out in the human crowd, or imprisoned for blowing a whistle, or otherwise crucified simply for being ourselves—fear in this case is clearly my wise and precious ally, pointing me in the direction of deepening liberation.
This kind of fear dares my heart to live courageously and presently, nakedly, honestly and truly. It invites me to take a stand even when it makes me tremble in excruciatingly tender vulnerability to do so.
What do I stand for in this life, and what am I willing to give for this? What am I willing to risk for this?
And what about you, dear Love? What about you?
How many lifetimes have we been brought to this moment, this very threshold, and asked to make a vital choice? How many times even inside this single lifetime have we been brought to the cliff’s edge of our soul’s evolution, and asked to choose between clinging to the safe, outgrown familiar, and leaping boldly into the wild, vast unknown?
What are the costs, of not taking a leap? What do we live with as a result of not listening to what calls us deeper? What do we potentially take to our deathbeds, when we overlook what burns inside us to be chosen, to be said, to be sung, to be shared, to be claimed, to be given?
How poignant indeed that we might withhold ourselves from LIFE, for fear of death, or judgment, or failure, or ruin.
haps it is only when our fear of not living what we were born to live surpasses our other fears, that we then can finally surrender all the way into life.
I’m spreading my wings open wide beside you—One, two, three….are you ready?