Category Archives: Sacred Becoming

When I Need to Be Lifted Up, This is Where I Turn

I know with all the swirling energy around us right now, it can feel hard to know what we need. Do we need to rest and integrate? Take action and raise our voices? A little bit of both?

Self care is such an important aspect of sacred becoming, and I believe we are all in a space of grand becoming, of shifting energy.

In the spirit of gratitude and lifting ourselves up, I decided to use the blog this week to share some of my favorite people with you (this also makes for a great holiday wish list or shopping guide).

img_20160222_085208I can feel my energy shift when I put on one of the shirts that Hannah and Jenny of Coyote Loon have created. The power to surround ourselves, literally, by the messages we need most is astounding. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and are looking for some ease and comfort, check out Coyote Loon.

When I have trouble sleeping, I reach for Sweet Repose by Plant and Spirit. I rub a little onto my wrists and sometimes temples, and the rest comes. These are the simple things that make the journey just a little easier, and sometimes just that tiny bit means so much.

img_20160426_162235Liz Lamoreux puts so much love into each piece that she creates. When I had been having visions of citrine, I knew I needed to surround myself with it. I wear the piece Liz made almost every day and sometimes I just browse her items to lift my spirits.

Melissa and I have a friendship that began in a loft in Providence Rhode Island. She has taught me so much about creating space for and stepping into dreams. She shares so much light with the world through her spirit and her art.

I never knew what it could feel like to order clothing that was custom made for me. It felt like such a luxury, and there was fear inside of it too. What if I didn’t like it? What if it didn’t fit as I had hoped? When I took the leap and ordered from Conscious Clothing, I discovered how amazing it could feel. There is something truly special knowing that the clothing hugging my body was made with love and care especially for me.

Sometimes we find just the people and practices we need, at just the right time. I feel like that’s what happened for me when I met Kate Brenton. I was at the Philly Chant and Yoga Festival and from my booth I was watching her do this unusual-to-me massage on people all day. I got super curious and finally signed up for a Lomi-Lomi massage. A few days later I went for a full session. I don’t know if I can’t put the power of my time with her into words, so if you’re local to the Philly area, just take my word for it and go check her out!

I have a feeling I’ll be sharing more posts like this in the coming weeks, because I think it’s important to share with you what fills me back up, what carries me through the hurt and pain.

And I’d love for you to share in the comments some of the people, products, or practices that help guide you back to taking care of yourself.

Lessons Learned from Pumpkin Carving

Self doubt creeps in and threatens to shut me down. It almost succeeds as I contemplate choosing easy over fulfilling or delegating the most challenging part.

I move forward with my vision as I have done in the past so many times, and this time I end up being rewarded with a pumpkin carved with love, intention, and vision, and a few lessons on the way.

img_20161031_135512Here they are…

It is always easiest to doubt yourself, but in the end it takes more energy than trusting yourself.

If you begin with self doubt and let it grow, you let yourself off the hook. You convince yourself you can’t do it, and so you don’t even try. What you lose is the chance to see the fruits of work done from a place of love, regardless of how it turns out. When you do this, you invite in regret, frustration, and if you’re like many people I know, you get down on yourself which sinks your energy a lot more than a bit of pushing through the feeling would have.

When you release perfection, beauty blooms.

This obsession we seem to have with perfection has got to stop, because it’s based on a false premise – that perfection actually exists. This is one of those times when I like to turn to nature. What would a ‘perfect’ tree look like? One with no knots in the trunk, a perfectly straight trunk? One that dropped it’s leaves with equal timing between each leaf? One that was filled only with flowers that bloomed to perfection? If such a tree existed, it would lack the character that makes a tree and tree. It is our knots, our curves and detours, our unpredictability, that make us who we are. We are so used to seeing polished versions of people’s lives, whether they are deeply so through airbrushed magazine images or just crafted in a certain way through social media. When we let go of that need for perfection, we get to enjoy life as it unfolds, whether in creative endeavors or in the simple moments. Did you see my photo of my yoga practice the other day? Things pushed out of the way, terrible lighting in the photo? I shared it to show you the truth of what life looks like around it, to help shatter this false notion of perfection.

The practice of believing you can bring your vision to fruition is more important than the outcome.

In order to keep moving forward, you have to believe in yourself and in your vision. Believing in your vision does not mean it needs to turn out the way that you see it now. There is always the possibility to shift and grow into the vision, because you are ever changing, as are the circumstances of your life. So many journeys have begun with a specific intention, rooted in deep desire, and have brought us to places we never could have expected and never would have been able to dream up, but they feel inevitable now. Have you had that happen before? If you have, you know you can trust that journey.

Ganesha showed me I could do what I thought could not be done.

Ganesha is the remover of obstacles and has been the deity that I have felt deepest connection to for many years. Ganesha reminds me to let go of what clutters my mind, to break the chains of the negative self talk, and to keep reaching forward instead of holding onto the past. This week, it was quite literally through the carving of the image of Ganesha into a pumpkin that I was reminded to remove the obstacle of the old story that was playing once again, and to just be in the moment and trust.

Allow your vision to arise from your heart.

We can spend our lives settling – for easy, for straight forward, for what we think we’re supposed to do. Or, we can quiet the mind, listen to the heart, and really tune in and discover what we desire. When we do this, we find our way into the flow, releasing obstacles, and making our way closer and closer to that vision that resides deep within us.

What lessons have you learned when self doubt has crept in and you kept going anyway? I’d love it if you’d share in the comments below!

When I’ve Been Chasing My Muse All Day and I’m Tired

Suddenly after an entire day of chasing my muse, I knew what I needed to do. I needed fresh perspective.

img_20161017_113840I moved the vacuum cleaner, the table covered in things, the dust on the floor, and I placed my yoga mat by the only real bit of open wall space in our home.

I placed my forearms on the ground, fingers interlaced, head cradled in my hands.
I took three full,
slow,
deep breaths.

 

 

I pressed into my feet, lifting myself into an upside down V and took another
three full,
slow,
deep breaths.

I walked my feet in slowly, felt my hips align over my shoulders, and allowed my body to slowly,
in its own time,
rise.

One foot gently tapped the wall, followed by the other, and I let them float away, occasionally steadying themselves against the wall, until I was ready to
slowly
release
back
down.

I took three full, slow, deep breaths in child’s pose, finding gratitude for this pause, for this reconnection, for this shift in perspective.

I went back to my desk and collected the beads, gently placing them away for the night.

I realized that all day I had been searching for words when what I needed was movement into stillness.

Because sometimes the practice of sacred becoming, with all of its vulnerability and gratitude, means giving ourselves permission to pause, to notice that we can decide the day’s work is done, to allow the movement to be the path to stillness, and to honor ourselves with compassion and patience.

This is a journey that is not complete in a single day. And even though it’s challenging at times, I’m grateful that I get to wake up tomorrow and keep traveling this path.

For the month of November we’ll be traveling the path through gratitude. Come join us.

The Story Behind the Magic of Growing with Gratitude

I’m sitting here, sweating, because I can’t make it any cooler, but I am grateful to be in clothes that are soft and comfy, sitting on my couch that is covered in a beautiful and vibrant tapestry, and trusting that we’ll return to the regularly scheduled fall weather soon.

I’m sitting here and thinking about how much I love Growing with Gratitude. I love it for the simplicity, for the community, and for the opportunity to slow down a bit and shift how we come into a season that tends to be pretty hectic.

I’m sitting here and remembering how Growing with Gratitude came to be. Do you know this story? It’s magic.

hannah-and-xandra-riFour years ago, the sweet Mary McConnell came to visit the States and Hannah Marcotti put together a visioning night. This ended up being a gathering of women who had become close in online community, but I had not met them before in person.

This was a huge edge for me – getting on a train to go to a city I’d never been to, to spend an evening with women I had not met in person. It may have also been my first time away from Chloe, probably so.

It was a night of visioning, of laughter, of vulnerability. I cried at Ruth’s feet as she wrote the word trust on my arm.

I gave myself the next day to explore Providence and the next night alone to myself in a hotel room. Even then, I knew I needed time to ease back into ‘real life’ after events like this.

I had come to Providence knowing there was an inking of a program in my mind. I may have even known it was going to be around gratitude. What I did not expect and could never have imagined was that within 36 hours I would have all of the content done for the month-long course. All the quotes, all the prompts, all the pictures, everything in order. It felt like a divine download, truly. I don’t know that I’ve experienced anything like it since.

Each autumn while I’m still in the gentleness of the season, I know the hectic time is just around the corner, and I know it’s time to share this offering again.

And so it is. We start again, for the fourth time, in just two weeks.

You’ll see me sharing some of my favorite parts of Growing with Gratitude, some of the why behind it, over the next couple of weeks. I just wanted to share with you right now the magic that began it, and invite you to come experience the magic that gratitude can gift us, if it lights up your soul.

The Power of Sacred Adornments

I used to wear rings on every finger, necklaces, bracelets and earrings – long, long, earrings – dangling from my body.

Over the years the styles changed. Sometimes a watch took up residence on my wrist and I felt naked without it.

When she was born, I learned what it was to have a baby and realized that it was time to shed the jewelry, preferring to preserve chains and intact earlobes. For a while, she was my sacred adornment and there were blessings in that amidst the nakedness I sometimes felt without the jewelry.

It took years to slowly find my way back to adorning myself and as I did so, I learned a lot about what it meant to me.

It was a way to express my creativity through the choices I made each day.

It was a way to carry comfort with me even when I went into the most uncomfortable situations.

It was a way to extend who I was outside of my skin, giving a little glimpse of the heart and soul of me.

img_20161005_202616I share this as a way to explain why I wear a mala almost every day.

For some, malas will remain on their altars and be used only for mantra meditation. And that is beautiful.

For me, I choose to carry my meditation with me.

I choose to wear the gemstones that I need as I wander out into the world, cloaking myself in patience or strength or groundedness or peace.

I choose to trace my hands from bead to bead in a short meditation while waiting for coffee, before getting out of my car for a meeting, before greeting the once baby now first grader at the bus stop.

Because I need the ability to drop back into myself through meditation whenever and wherever.

This is the same reason I carry a mini altar in my wallet and a tiny Ganesha statue in the pocket of my jean jacket.

What we cloak ourselves in – from our thoughts, our words, and our actions to our clothes and sacred adornments – are extensions of our hearts and souls.

I believe that I am a sacred vessel, and that you are too. And as vessels, we can carry our sacred adornments wherever we travel.

I Am Pursuing Subtle Threads

IMG_20160719_160333Each bead, like each part of the self, holds its own energy. Each bead is unique in color, in exact size, in design. Each bead is a reflection of what has come before and holds the promise of what is yet to come.

As I pick them up, hold them gently in my hands, begin to place them side by side, I begin to see the story that they tell together.

This one pulls out the color of that one. Contrast can sometimes create powerful energy, and sometimes more consistency allows for a sense of calm.

Each one of us is made up of many parts, whether we label them or not. The stories of who we have been, of who we think we are, of who we are becoming, are similar in a way to the beads. They can feel similar to one another, they can feel separate, they can lead us to feel like we are struggling to find a way to hold it all together, to see how all of these pieces fit.

There are the beads, and then there is the thread.

The thread that holds them all together while still allowing each bead space to breathe, to contribute its own energy to the whole.

And it makes me wonder sometimes about the thread that holds all of my parts together….

“I’m searching for the thread that holds it all together,” I said recently to some friends. In the days that followed I realized that I am that thread. All the parts of me are held together by the essence of who I am, that which is beyond the labels.

I am mama. I am wife. I am daughter. I am yoga teacher. I am writer. I am coach. I am mala maker. I am friend. I am all of this and more. These are the beads of self and I am the thread.

Driving a Boat – A Practice in Aparigraha

nh-lake“You’re going to drive the boat,” she said to me, before I even made the trip up to New Hampshire. Did she even know that I had a huge fear of boats? That I was not a boat person?

It did not matter.

Two years ago at the last Lift Up that I attended, after crying and spilling out my thoughts on all sorts of things for an hour, her message was simple, “You need to get your license.”

Yes, I got my driver’s license two years ago when I was 31 years old. There was so much wrapped up in that story, and the freedom she gave me with that push has been pure magic.

And so I can’t say I was actually surprised to hear her words.

“Are you going to come home next year flying a plane?” Jon asked me. We laughed.

***

The morning I left for New Hampshire I was full of anxiety. It was coming full circle. Two years ago I was on the verge of getting my license, and here I was now preparing for a solo seven hour road trip. It felt big to me, yet I knew I could do it.

A few days before I’d been on a boat for the first time in over a decade and I did.not.like.it. Not even a little. Even though I was with close friends, and Chloe was by my side reassuring me. So this idea of me driving a boat still seemed quite impossible.

So much seems impossible before we prove to ourselves that we can do it.

***

I arrived at the lake house and circled with some of the bravest, strongest women I know. We did the hard work of holding space for each other and of allowing ourselves to speak our truth. We talked a lot of the things we need to talk about that we don’t. We gave ourselves permission to feel less alone.

***

on-the-waterOn the final morning, the water was perfectly still and there did not seem to be any boats on the water. This was in deep contrast to a few weeks before, choppy water and boats everywhere you looked.

We got in the boat and I felt calm.

She couldn’t get the boat started and I offered to try. I got it on my first attempt, and we were off.

We cruised through the water, taking in the mountains, the trees beginning to change their leaves from green to orange, and the various houses we saw along the way.

We came to a no wake zone and she said, “This is where we teach people how to drive the boat.”

And she taught me. And I did it. And it was wonderful.

It was a reminder to me of the stories that we build up so much they become the myths that we live our lives by, they become how we label ourselves (I am not a boat person).

***

When we stepped back onto land, I found that I felt more grounded than I have in a long while. And it was in this moment that I learned a new story about myself: Water grounds me.

***

Our stories are forever changing, yet sometimes we cling to the old drafts as if they are written in stone and can never be changed. Shifting this is the work of aparigraha.

In The Yamas and Niyamas, Deborah Adele writes,

“Anything we cling to creates a maintenance problem for us. The material items that we hoard, collect, buy because they are on sale or take because they are “free,” all take up space and demand our attention. Storage boxes and sheds become an easy way to fool ourselves. Subtle attachments come in the form of our images and beliefs about ourselves, about how life should be, about how others should be. These images keep us in bondage to our own learning and growth. Clutter in our physical space blocks our ability to physically move, while clutter in our minds blocks our freedom to expand and have space for the next thing life wants to bring us.”

Can we let go of the clinging to the stories that block our freedom?

Can we honor the stories and then release them and in doing so create more space for who we are becoming?

***

driving-the-boatI drove almost 800 miles by myself. I drove a boat. I discovered that old stories were just that – stories and not truth, and I discovered new stories about myself that I will do my best not to cling to, knowing that they too are ever changing.

When we practice aparigraha, nonpossessiveness, we give ourselves the space to stretch out, to see the possibility within us, and to trust that we get to write what comes next.

With Love and Gratitude,

Xandra

Why I Create

IMG_20160617_215300I got home Friday evening, put Chloe to bed, and found myself called to vision for the first time in weeks, maybe months.

My creative energy has recently been filled with malas and bracelets and necklaces, and I have been guided by this flow.

Friday night, as I entered the final week before my first festival where I will be selling my malas, my energy felt pulled in a different direction and I allowed it to carry me.

Creation is a transference of energy, at least I believe it is.

If you try to create against the natural flow of your energy, you are bound to find yourself frustrated in the face of obstacles real and imagined.

And so I found myself wondering, why do I create?

I create to shift the energy around me.

When I make something with my hands, I can feel the energy work through me. Much like with the physical yoga practice, the energy is given a direction in which to flow. In the case of my creative work – whether writing, jewelry, vision pages, or even redecorating and reorganizing my home, the energy flows out of me and becomes something new. I free it. I do not hold into it. It is not mine, it never was. It was always ours to share.

I create to find stillness of mind.

When I am creating, this magic takes place where my mind quiets, the thoughts do not race, and I become immersed in what is before me. One knot and then the next and then the next. Cut this image and glue it here. Find the word or phrase that jumps out at me even if I do no understand why. My creative time allows me to just be, even though I am doing. It allows me to forget for a while about the stresses, the fears, the sadness, or the overwhelm.

I create out of love.

Creativity does not do the magic if it tries to be born of necessity. When I create what feels like my best, I can feel the love I am pouring into it and it is a reminder to me that there is always more love to share. In sharing love, I fill myself back up again.

I create to find understanding.

Whether insight comes through the meditative motions of creating a mala, through my ideas as I write out whatever comes to mind, or through words and images that bring forth an image of dreams perhaps previously hidden, my creative process allows me to understand more about who I am and what my path and purpose are.

I create for connection.

I know when I am in my creative process that I am in this flow of energy with everything in the world. The woman siting next to me writing, my daughter at art camp, my friends and strangers who are living creatively – we are all connected by this thread of creativity.

I create for you.

My hope, always, is that my words, images, jewelry, ideas, spark something in you. I hope to inspire you to continue to take steps towards your sacred becoming, trusting along the way that when you follow the flow, you will feel deeply alive.

Why do you create? Leave a comment in the blog and share with us!

Sharing What You Love with Yourself Too

IMG_20160427_100411Yesterday was a day of remembering to do what I love.

I got Chloe out the door in time to make it to a yoga class (something that doesn’t always happen as often as I hope, even as a yoga teacher). Later as I sat down to work on some more malas for Philly Chant and Yoga Festival and my Etsy shop, I realized that it was time to make one for myself, so I began that project.

We can share what we love and believe to be important with the world, but if we don’t allow ourselves to have it too, we’re really missing out.

This statement was powerful when it came through. There’s a lot of talk about self-care, and I’ve done my fair share of reminding women over the years about how we need to take care of ourselves before others. And we do.

What shifted about this idea is that I found myself no longer thinking about taking care of others but sharing what we love with others.

The same concept applies.

For those of us who find ourselves on the path where we get to share what we love, our own opportunities to experience these things can get lost, just as easily as it can for the mama who is so focused on taking care of her family that she forgets to take care of herself.

The yoga teacher who finds herself teaching more and more and taking less time to practice herself (because there are only so many hours in the day).

The artist who creates for others and forgets to surround herself with beauty that catches her eye.

The writer who writes for others and not for herself (I’m not guilty of this one, I write all the time).

The doctor who treats others with love and compassion and who does not take good care of her own health.

The workaholic who loves what she does but fills her time so that there is no time left for anything else she loves.

We all do it or have done it at some point in our lives. No matter how we share what we love, that light will burn brighter for others when we remember to share it with ourselves.

I am continuing this practice today. I woke up and meditated this morning before I even got out of bed. I am sitting in a coffee shop for the first time in months, sipping tea and enjoying the overcast day.

You deserve to not miss out on your life. Share the things you love with the world, and share them with yourself too.

With Love and Gratitude,

Xandra

Creating Sacred Space Within and Around You

altar collage My energy in the last week or so has been a bit off and today marked the day when I finally started feeling like myself again.

I needed down time to process all that was going on in my world, and I honored my need for that, even though at times I was frustrated with what felt like a lot of doing nothing.

Today I moved furniture around, created malas and tiny altars, and drank a lot of tea.

One thing that I love about malas and tiny altars is how portable they are. In a way, they remind me that whatever is sacred to us we can always carry with us.

We don’t need the beads or the decorated tin with trinkets in it to learn that, but in the times that are most challenging, they support us.

I remember last summer when our daughter needed dental surgery, I packed a little cotton bag with a feather on it to keep with me that day. An amethyst heart, a statue of Ganesha, some sea glass, and maybe a few other stones. Simple. And it gave me strength. Even though her surgery was short and relatively non-invasive, anytime I had a moment of worry, I could hold that back in my hand, find my breath, and find my way back to trust.

I don’t recall, but can imagine that I was wearing the mala I was wearing a lot at that time, finding comfort in the smoothness of the beads, and knowing that at any time I could meditate on a mantra that would bring me calmness and strength.

When I cleaned off my desk yesterday (again) I took a big round piece of wood that measures 18 inches in diameter and placed in one corner. No longer will my altars and sacred elements get lost and tucked away under mountains of to do lists and plans.

I created sacred space.

On it, at the moment, sits a medium size altar within a box, holding the intention of a particular wish.

There is a candle holder with a piece of Palo Santo resting on top of it.

There is my citrine orb (I will share my citrine story with you one day, it is still unfolding).

Today, I added two travel altars.

The first is one that I’ve had for a while but I finally decorated the lid. Inside is a mini visioning book and some small scraps to glue in as the time feels right. Part of the decorated lid is a scrap that says, “I am” and serves as a reminder that who I am is a constant evolution, that I am a sacred vessel, and that the words and visions I have are some of my many layers.

The other altar is a very mini one and holds a piece of amethyst, a small seashell, and a mini Buddha. This one is small enough that I can carry it with me in a pocket, a small bag, or even the palm of my hand.

I share all of this with you to express this point – we are all sacred. We need nothing external to let us know that, but sometimes it can help to have a visual representation.

As you create sacred space around you, rest assured that you are creating sacred space within you as well.

As you shift the energy of the things you surround yourself with, you shift your vibration.

I can glance over at my large altar space right now and be reminded of my wishes, my strength, my creativity, my sacred self.

The next time my energy is feeling off, I will certainly allow for the down time. Maybe now that I have created sacred space all around me, I’ll need less of it.