Archive | June, 2016

the crossing.

“I think mid-life is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing- these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt- has to go.

Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever. 

Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”

| Brene Brown |

 

“A good life is full of failure. Like the scraps we throw on the compost heap, our inadequacies and defeats are what give our human soil character. Without them we would be barren, with nothing to offer our surrounding ecosystem. A noble life is rich in failure embraced.”

| Toko-pa |

 

new-growth-crossing

 

“At any time, you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing? At this time in my life, what am I leaving? Where am I about to enter? What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold? What gift would enable me to do it? A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres. Indeed, it is a lovely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience or stage of life that it intensifies toward the end into a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up. At this threshold a great complexity of emotion comes alive: confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, hope.

This is one of the reasons such vital crossings were always clothed in ritual. It is wise in your own life to be able to recognize and acknowledge the key thresholds: to take your time; to feel all the varieties of presence that accrue there; to listen inward with complete attention until you hear the inner voice calling your forward. The time has come to cross.”

| John O’Donohue |

 

 

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Never, never, never, never…

…lie to yourself.

 

never lie to yourself

 

The Buddha or Confucious or Lao Tzu or somebody from way back said:

There are three things that cannot be hidden: 
The sun,
The moon, and 
The truth.

The fact is, you can hide the truth- for a long time. Most people can do it for about a decade. A few people can do it for a lifetime. But hiding the truth tends to result in a lot of damage emotionally and spiritually. And when it does finally come out, you’ve got the original mess to clean up plus all the damage from the years of hiding.

It’s so much more efficient to tell the truth.

But telling ourselves the truth is tough, right?

We’re not used to doing it, most of us. Emotional truth is not a standard we are taught or given as a model. We’ve gently lied to ourselves for years. Maybe about innocuous things, but still- that just makes bigger lies easier to swallow. How many of us started in junior high with “I like him/her, but I can’t tell him/her”? And we proceed from there:

“I’ll totally do that.”    [No, I won’t.]

“Yes, I love you.”    [Not enough, and I know it.]

“I would never…”    [Except in my fantasies.]

Or, “I can’t have that.”    [But goddammit, I want it.]

Lying to ourselves is a human trait. I don’t think some of us could make it without this coping mechanism. But maturity brings wisdom, and with wisdom you begin to realize lying to yourself just makes a fucking mess in the end. A mess for us and for those we care about.

The other thing I find interesting is that our intuition still tells us the truth, even after years of not listening to it. We know, in an instant, or sometimes in days or weeks, that something is not right, not working. Our intuition knows what’s up. [But then, we lie to ourselves and keep doing the wrong thing anyhow. Sometimes we run right back to the wrong thing, desperate for the beauty or hope it provides…even though we know it’s not the truth. Humans are so weird.]

The only way out is through, of course.

Better to stop the nonsense now.
Be done with it.
Be done with telling yourself lies.
Be done with crushing your own spirit.
Be done with guilt and self-hatred.
Be done with fear.
Be done with hiding.
Tell the truth.

It’s really the only thing that works, in the end. Because while the truth might be painful, at least you don’t have to heap all the other shit [and suffering] on top of the lies.

Yesterday was the Summer Solstice (in the Northern hemisphere) and it is a time of release. The releasing energy of the Solstice still exists for a few days. So, if you need, let go of lies you wish to set free. Let go of fear of who you really are. Let go of hurting yourself so deeply. Whatever needs to go, let it. Say your prayers to the Solstice and live in the utter truth of who you are.

And never, never, never, never lie to yourself again.

 

 

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I’m actually not a very nice person.

A dude friend of mine, who has known me and read my work for years, wrote to me this week and said, “You make me want to be a better person.” As you might imagine, I felt really amazed and warmed by that. I really cherished the fact that he felt that way and shared it with me. [It’s a huge validation of my work and I’ll take it. xoxo]

But it got me thinking about the fact that I haven’t always been a very nice person. And in some ways I’m still not.

I used to be a mouthy bitch when I was younger. I was opinionated and wanted to be dead sure you knew where I stood. Before I had kids, I told strangers how great their kids were acting in restaurants. [WTF did I know??? Shit. I knew shit about that. But still…opinionated!]

Since I am supah dupah smart, I can always find three different ways to shoot down an argument. And I was oh, so happy to load that gun of intellect and shoot it. Because I also see people at multiple levels I would not only take down a line of reasoning, I’d decimate your heart, too.

I’d talk shit behind your back.

I’d tell half truths.

I cheated- on tests, papers, whatnot.
Not a lot, but really-what’s the difference?
Loss of integrity is loss of integrity.

I would burst with anger when pushed to my edges.

I’ve stolen things.

I blamed all my issues and unhappiness on other people.

I was controlling.
Like, a lot.

 

But then, I started to see the results of those behaviors.

Broken relationships- friendships I fucked up because I’d ripped their heart apart.
Or noticed something too deep and used it against them.

I wasn’t happy when I was angry most of the time.
It wasn’t fun living with that inside my head.

Having my professional ass handed to me because of a half-truth I had told.

Watching my husband crumple when I blamed stuff on him.
(That was one of several turning points, let me tell you.)

These choices weren’t giving me the life I wanted.
These choices also weren’t who I really was. And I knew it.

I didn’t want to have my life be like this anymore.

::: ::: ::: :::

Lots of people in my life call me by diminutive names. They call me ‘sweetie’ or ‘kid’ or ‘small.’ They mean it in a gentle way. They call me this because they love me and want to protect me. They think because I’m good I must be innocent.

But this could not be further from the truth.
(Although, yes, I am short. So ‘small’ qualifies.)

I know the darkness and depravity of the human heart.

I’ve watched people die.
(People who didn’t want to die, which is the worst.)

I have seen people wounded to their soul who hide in themselves until they die.

I have walked through the pain of wounds from my childhood.

I have been the object of another’s cruelty.
[A couple of weeks ago I got a call from a country club- someone was prank calling me. They wanted to ask me to do their wedding, but not actually have me complete it. Which, now that I think of it, isn’t cruel so much as it is immature. The last time I made a prank call was 6th grade.]

I have watched myself hurt other people.

I know how dark my thoughts can be- what I want and would kill for; how much I can hate another human; feeling unworthy and ridiculous and how awful that feels, how angry it can make a human.

I am not good because I’m pure.

I am good because I choose to be.

 

beyourownheroine

| hero works, too. |

 

I don’t remember when it started, perhaps the threads were being pulled together for years, but at some point I realized: I was going to have to live differently if I wanted the good things in life.

And that is when I began to choose to be a good person.

One of my big lessons and changes was understanding why I blamed other people for my own circumstances. I learned that I blame because I hurt. Blame is a way to defend against emotional pain.

And I had to examine why I hurt.

Where did that come from? What happened that I had to be defensive? Why did I feel threatened in certain situations? When did I first feel that way?

Whatever the answers were, that is where my pain came from. I revisited the stories that caused this pain.

The story where I didn’t understand some adult concepts and got in trouble for it.
The one where I could not comfort a wounded parent and felt inadequate.
The story where if I let someone down, they wouldn’t love me.

Once I saw the old stories, and felt their pain, they began to heal.

And I found it easier to be a good person.

To choose compassion.
To shut up (or listen!) instead of dismantle an argument.
To be vulnerable, instead of hiding, as a way to find love and support.
To not blame, but look at my own behavior and see what I did to create the situation.

 

I also learned what was most important to me. My priorities are three: love, truth, health. I will fight to the death for those three things.

When I choose those three things- when I choose to be loving in an argument, or tell the truth about my fear, or take a step towards healthy behavior- my heart felt so much happier. It was and is a positive feedback mechanism. The more I did what was good, the more good I found in my life.

The work pays for itself.

When I feel compassion and act compassionately (do unto others…), relationships deepen.
When I listen and support, instead of scream, people felt seen and love gets created.
When I see how I contributed to the argument or the predicament, I get to fix it.
When I try to see it from the other person’s perspective, I find better solutions that help us both.

We can all become better people. This may be hard work, but the rewards are so huge. You feel good again. You feel like the holes inside yourself are not sucking you into hell. Life runs better.

Do I make mistakes still? Oh, yeah.

But each one is an opportunity to learn and grow.
To be better so that my life is better.
To heal so that I don’t hurt and lash out.

Personal growth and healing make this world a better, safer place for us all.
Be as good as you can and see what happens.

 

 

2

sex. spirit. + pain.

| This is a story in four parts. |

One.

In the past week, I have had the honor (and I do consider it a deep honor) to listen to six women who needed to talk about their rapes and sexual assaults. And I want to say two things:

1. No matter where your emotional pain comes from (sexual assault or bad day at work) please do not negate your pain by comparing it to someone else’s pain. There are stories in our society that comparing pain helps us feel better. This is generally untrue. What negating our pain does is hobble our emotional self. It leaves our story untold. It diminishes our capacity for self-compassion. And it leave us feeling guilty for our pain, and feeling our pain is the only way to heal it.

Your pain is your pain and that is all that needs to be said. Do not compare, please. It only hurts your heart further.

2. Although there are legal definitions of what constitutes ‘violation’ (sexual or otherwise), on the human level, ‘violation’ happens the moment you feel violated. Emotional overwhelm (trauma) is the definition of ‘violation’ and it occurs at a different point for each person. Just because your violation does not meet legal standards does not mean violation did not occur.

Rape and sexual assault are not just perpetrated on the body. They hurt the heart and spirit, too.

 

Two.

In Tantra, the emotion or intention of each person in a sexual coupling is very, very important. Tantric texts and beliefs state that how and why a man thrusts into a woman matter deeply. That his energy and intention are thrust into her as much as his penis is.

This means that when a man rapes a woman, he is thrusting in to her with an energy and intention of dominance, degradation, power over, fear, frustration, and brokenness. These emotions are deposited inside the woman just as much as his cum is- and she is left to carry them and deal with them.

This also means that when a man thrusts into a woman with love, curiosity, kindness, excitement, joy then what is left behind in the woman, emotionally and energetically, is positive. She has not been violated. She has been respected and loved (even if the people aren’t in love).

This is also why you can fuck someone – quick, hot, dirty, raw- and still have it be a loving experience. The intention matters because it produces a different energetic connection between the two (or more!) people involved. If the fuck comes from a place of respect and good intentions, the heat just makes it more satisfying.

 

Three.

My gentleman readers, please don your ‘hat of empathy’ – we’re going to imagine something. [My lady readers get a break. You already know this story.]

Imagine yourself waking up super groggy. Like, you know you’re going to need at least an extra cup of coffee today. (Or maybe like when you had a lot too much to drink in college.)

As you wake up, your realize: someone is on top of you. And they are heavy and you can’t figure out how to get them off of you. It’s a big guy. Football player big. And although your hands and legs desperately want to defend yourself, they are not working right- everything is in slow motion and just doesn’t connect.

As you try to defend yourself, you realize: this person is moving with you. When you roll or move, they do, too. In fact, they are inside you. You desperately double check around you: yes, pants are down; yes, shirt is out; yes, legs are spread. Someone is inside you- fucking you up the ass.

(And yeah, I’m gonna say it that way, because that is what most heterosexual men fear the most.)

Now, good for you if you’re the kind of guy who likes to be pegged on occasion. We all know a little prostate massage feels like a million bucks. But this is not a prostate massage your requested. This is someone fucking you up the ass and you can’t get away.

How would you feel?

Angry?
Violated?
Terrified?
Might wanna puke?
Humiliated?
Desperate to get away?
Run and hide and cry?
Murder the person?

Yes. All of that, I suspect.

This is how it feels to a woman, too.

This is just one of the many flavors of rape. And it is horrific.

The worst part is, women know this story from the time they are 11. The fact that I have to ask you to imagine this means it’s not part of your reality in the same way it is for women. Think about that. Think about how lucky you are that you don’t have to know these secrets from the time you are in 5th grade. What a privilege you have.

 

strong-woman

 

Four.

I have this belief that Life gives men who used to be cads little girls as their own children. Cads- the guys who maybe had two or three girls on the line at the same time. Dudes who maybe didn’t give a fuck if she felt more connected than he did. Guys who screwed around and spent a little too much time at the strip club. Those guys.

I think Life gives those guys little girls for kids sometimes, so they will understand how precious women actually are. So they can see the innocence and joy in their little eyes and wonder, ‘were those girls like that once, too?’ I like to think Life gives those guys little girls so the former cads can teach their girls how to stay away from men like they used to be. And in this way, make more strong women who will not put up with male bullshit. Of course, doing that would mean they have to admit what kind of men they used to be (or maybe still are).

I want a society full of strong women. Women who will not put up with bullshit.  I also want a society where women who do not have to fear men, because men have their back. Just like those former-cad dads did/do for their little girls.

If you love women, if you profess to love holding them or caring for them or just having sex with them- if you love women in any way, you need to start creating a society where they are safe. Where rape is such an irregular problem that we are surprised by it. Where women are so respected for their basic humanity (not to mention their super powers) that no one would even think of raping them. This also includes a society where men are trustworthy, kind, expressive, and vulnerable.

Rape violates a woman (or man, if he is the victim) at every level. This is not okay. This is not the best we were designed for. And we must do better, because we all – men and women – deserve it. We deserve a society that is safe for everyone.

 

 

2

You are being called forth.

I want to write something really beautiful and sexy today, but my heart isn’t in it. I’ll write more about that later. Instead I want to tell you this:

“You are being called forth. To find clarity in the confusion and rise out of the depths of ignorance to remember who you are and what you came here to do.

You are being called to shake up the status quo of a life half lived in several shades of mediocrity and take up the quest for greatness.

You are being called to find the spark that can never be extinguished and create miracles that bring hope and possibility to those who have forgotten their impossible dreams.

You are being called to hide nothing and hold nothing back in our commitment to a vision of a world of wonders.

I want to see you stepping into your destiny and surfing the waves of living wholeheartedly in what you know to be true. 

I saw my granddad today. Riddled with dementia and Alzheimers. Saying he’s sorry and that he doesn’t know. You are being called to stand out and say you’d rather burn in the fires of creation than that fate belong to you. 

If you feel that call. Dare greatly. The world needs your art, your passion, your business. 

We need you to lead and show people the way to claim their power, their sense of possibility. 

Though we may walk through the valleys of the shadow of death. Fear not that you might fail. Fear only that you heard the call and stayed sleeping. 

| Anthony Ogley |

::: ::: ::: :::
This doesn’t mean you have to do something big. We are not all built for greatness that is large or has deep cultural impact. But we are all built for the greatness that resides within our heart and soul. There is something inside all of us that can make the world better for other people. Do that. That is great work.

Love from my deepest heart,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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