When Past Iteration Dreams Manifest

 seemingly I opened the letter and felt a giddiness and excitement that I knew she would not understand. I shared the news with her, and she was happy with her accomplishment and feeding off of my energy. Suddenly something that was too impossible to even dream of years before was about to be reality. I discovered that this part of my identity was still alive.  But it felt lighter. The anger had gone but the passion had remained.

Chloe had participated in Read for the House which is a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House. She was one of the top fundraisers in her school, which meant she got to go to the …. Eagles Locker Room!!! And she got to bring one adult with her. There was no question who that was going to be!

If you have been following me for a few years and haven’t known me for a long time, you might not understand why I would be so excited about this. Let’s take a trip back fourteen years to a previous iteration.

I was at the inaugural Eagles game at Lincoln Financial Field with my dad and some of his friends. I grew up with football in the house but no interest at all. But I guess my dad had an extra ticket and I tagged along. It was fun. They lost (something I got used to experiencing). And somehow I was hooked.

This was a period of time in my life where I didn’t work on Sundays so I could watch the games. I screamed at the tv (or at the field on the many occasions that I went to a game) when things did not go well. I carried the frustration and anger of a loss with me for days. I was there when they beat the Cowboys 44-6. I was there when they beat the Falcons to go to the Super Bowl (let’s not talk about what happened next though, okay?). The Eagles pep band was at our wedding. Serious fan.

Eagles Band Wedding

When Michael Vick became the quarterback, I stopped watching. I began to lose interest in football in general. I soon had my Sundays back. And I no longer had this source of intense and angry energy. Pretty quickly, I could feel the space this created in my life. I have not been to a game since Chloe was born seven years ago and I don’t think I’ve watched a full game in at least a couple of years. It feels like a lifetime ago.

And yet, when I opened that letter and saw that we were going to the Eagles locker room, the excitement was still there.

The locker room of the team that had been such a big part of my life. I could not find a single name on a locker that I knew and I realized that I did not even know who the quarterback was. This would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Despite this, it felt like an honor to be there.

When we took our seats and looked at the program, I got an even bigger surprise – we were going to get to go onto the field. My excitement rose all over againA short while later I was standing on the very field where some of my favorites had played – McNabb, Westbrook, Akers, and of course, Dawkins. This was a powerful moment for me.

In all of the years that I was an avid fan, the possibility of going to the locker room or onto the field never even crossed my mind. It would have felt like an impossible dream.

In all of the passion (and anger) that I had in those years, there was still some distance from it. There was the collective energy of being in the stadium (and looking back, a lot of the draw was probably about being part of a larger community).  Even being there, there was some sense of detachment. The stands were as close as I ever thought I would get.

And then, I walked away from the anger. I let it go. I gave myself space from what had been a deep part of my identity. And years later, completely detached from the anger, I found my way back to the passion and onto the field.

Chloe wants to go to a game now, to see the field in action, and to create the context for this incredible experience. We’ll go, and I’m curious to know how it will feel for me then.

What I do know though is that even without the anger, I still bleed green.

This, my friends, is how you can hold onto the passion, let go of the anger, and manifest even the most seemingly impossible dreams.

Meditation in a Coffee Shop

IMG_20170228_123813_829

I slip the mala from my wrist and begin moving my fingers from bead to bead.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I think of those sharing this space with me and hold them in my heart.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

My eye catches the plants growing in the middle of the love of this community.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I hear the sound of a little girl beeping her plastic horn.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I feel my breath.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I feel the connection between those conversing around me.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I marvel at this experience of meditation with eyes open to the world around me.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I recognize the need to keep my eyes wide open to the world, always.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I wish more people could find the courage to open their eyes.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhanvantu.

I let the world soften for this moment.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I feel gratitude for my hands.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I feel gratitude for the tears that have found their way out in recent days.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I give myself permission for my practice to be what it needs to be in the moment.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I think of my sweet girl and the hope that lives within the love in her heart.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I wonder if my coffee will stay warm (truth, because the mind wanders).

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I feel connection to all of those around me, in this room and to the far reaches of our planet.

Lokah Samastah Sukihno Bhavantu.

The sun shines through the windows and fills my soul with light.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I feel safe in this place.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

The wood, the coffee, the conversation grounds me.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

I am reminded that home is in the heart and we carry it with us wherever we go.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

We must keep our eyes on the big picture, on the future that is built from the now.

Lokah Samstah Sukhino Bhavantu.

When we feel the connection and feed the connection we grow the connection.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

May all beings be happy and free.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

All beings all beings all beings.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

May my thoughts words and actions in some small way contribute.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

May my life be a contribution.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

To the happiness and freedom for all.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

For all for all for all.

OM Shanti Shanti Shanti.

How We Move Forward into Sacred Activism

IMG_20170208_131633_320Shift.
Control.
Option.
Command.

Powerful words.

How do we shift our perspective, release control, be open to options, and take command of our energy?

These are questions that many of us are probably asking ourselves right now, and for good reason.

It is crucial, especially in times of upheaval like we’re living through right now, to recognize the importance of shifting our perspective. When we get too stuck in seeing things the way we have become accustomed too, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.

When we raise our voices, take to the streets, call and email and fax, and still feel like things are getting worse not better, we can come to question what we can actually control, what our actions actually amount to, if anything, and that can drain us quickly.

Moments like these can lead us to think outside the box (or sometimes within, like those who got messages to their Senators by sending pizza delivery with a note), and this can be empowering because we get to explore beyond our preconceived limits.

We have the power to take command of our energy, and if we want to continue to have the energy for the battles ahead, of which there will be many, we must.

Now for the how.

Before we can shift our perspective, we must know where we stand. We must have awareness of where we are gathering our information (is it from our Facebook feed or reputable news sources?). We must have awareness of what we value and how those values impact how we see the world. We must have awareness of what is underlying the beliefs that run counter to our own (fear, misinformation, racism and misogyny that are embedded in the DNA of our country). We must have awareness of what has come before and what we desire for our collective future.

Once we have this awareness, we can see from higher ground. We can view the situation from a broader perspective, and this can help us to recognize and acknowledge that in some ways this is not about the individual battles we are fighting on so many fronts. It is about learning how to sustain this work over time.

In order to release control, we must recognize where we have control. We have control over the words we choose, the actions we take, the behaviors we model for our children. We have control over how we spend our time, our energy, our money. We have control over what we choose to value, what we choose to learn, and what we choose to teach.

When we start to recognize the ways that we do have control, the emails and phone calls and faxes that are dismissed as inauthentic matter less because we realize that we cannot control those who are already controlled by the forces of money, greed, and power. Speaking as a Pennsylvanian, I am not going to change Senator Toomey’s mind. That may not mean I stop calling his office, and it may not give me more respect for him, but it does make me realize that if I release control where it cannot be gained, I will have more energy to focus elsewhere.

We have the option to be courageous or complicit. We have the option to go to the protest or not, to make the phone calls or not, to create the art that inspires or not, to offer our gifts of healing modalities or not – and we have all of these options. No matter what the choices look like, we are choosing to be courageous when we stand up for our values and for others. We are choosing to be courageous when we take a break from social media because it is wearing us down instead of filling us up. We are choosing to be courageous when we talk to other people about the issues that matter most to us. We are choosing to be courageous when we do not look the other way in the face of injustice. We have the option.

We take command of our energy by recognizing what we need. This will look different for all of us, and that is good because we need all of us and the unique gifts that we offer. We find our strengths and we offer them to the fight. We understand what drains us and while we may not avoid those actions completely, those will not be at the forefront of how we show up in this. We rest. We nourish ourselves. We treat our bodies as sacred. We go within and learn to trust our intuition. We lean on one another. That is one of the incredible things of this moment – there are so many of us that we can afford to take a breath, to sit this day out, to go to yoga or have a massage or simply zone out in front of a movie for a little while. The work is not going to go away anytime soon, so let’s take good care of ourselves.

Shift.
Control.
Option.
Command.

Are you ready to prepare yourself for what’s next?

You Are Deserving

IMG_20160327_145108Sometimes I find myself flipping through old notebooks, either in search of something, looking to see if there are pages I can rip out and recycle (because I’m always moving towards more simplicity), or because I’m procrastinating writing something new.

As I was doing this the other morning, I came across a passage that felt really important to me right now. I am hearing many people talk about how they are supposed to be shopping for other people and there is this desire to be shopping for themselves.

This tells me a couple of things.

It tells me, as I have long suspected, that we have things backwards about giving. Giving is not meant to be done from a place of ‘supposed to’ or stress. Giving is meant to be done with a full heart. This is why I sometimes get my holiday shopping done all in one day and why sometimes it takes longer. I search for the gift that feels perfect for the person, that makes me feel like I have found something that they would stumble upon and want to buy for themselves.

Which leads me to the second thing – so many of us do not feel we are deserving. We put others first pretty much all of the time, and we do this even now as we are shopping. We discover something that we love, that feels like a natural extension of ourselves, that we could convince ourselves might make a good gift for someone else but really, if we’re honest, it’s what we wish for. And we feel like we can’t buy it or even ask for it.

Which brings me to what I wrote back in the April…

I will not live in a place of lack when it comes to things that make me feel alive. It is not about buying for the sake of buying so much as it is about filling my life with sacredness. Yes, oh yes, that.

When you find something that makes you feel alive and whole and sacred, whether it is a physical object or an experience or a person or a place or an idea, tell yourself that you are worthy of having it because you are!

It is as simple as that. Start treating yourself like you are deserving of not simply living life to serve and take care of others but to feel alive, to embrace this time that you have.

And if that means buying yourself something this holiday season, so be it!

P.S. Last weekend, I bought myself a wand. There’s a big story there, and one that I’ll be telling when the time is right.

The Wishbone

img_20161121_221255My mom handed me a box with a rubber band wrapped around it.

“Look what I found,” she said.

I opened it, and tucked neatly between the folds of an old paper towel was a wishbone.

“I wanted you to have it,” she told me.

***

When I was growing up we would celebrate Thanksgiving (and my Pappap’s birthday) with my mom’s parents. Pappap and I would always share the wishbone. I can’t say for certain, because my memory is not that good, but something tells me he knew a special way to hold it so I always got the bigger piece.

He always wanted my wishes to come true.

***

I remember being young and wrapped up in a green and black crocheted blanket, held in his arms looking up at the big bright moon. That same moon still shines, and that makes him feel close to me even now.

***

Life is full of wishes, of dreams, of desires. Alongside all of that magic come the things we cannot control – the endings, the fear, the uncertainty.

For now, I hold the wishbone in my hand and know that even when things turn dark, I will always find my way to the next wish, I will always search for that hopeful light of the moon, and I will always feel held by those I love and who have loved me.

And I wish the same for you.

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.

Space for the Beads to Breathe

img_20161012_083849I walked into the bead store and told her I broke the thread on another one.

“You’re pulling too hard,” she told me.

“I don’t know my own strength,” I said.

“You teach breathing, right?” she asked.

“Yes…” I said with a growing understanding.

“You have to give the beads space to breathe!”

And in that moment, I saw the interconnectedness between all that I do.

Perhaps you have heard, because it has been said so many times by so many people, that how we do one thing is how we do everything.

I was knotting beads with some of the thickest silk cord and snapping it because I was pulling so hard. I was trying so hard to make these pieces “perfect” that I forgot what matters most – space to breathe.

The same applies on the yoga mat. You can try so hard to come into each pose “perfectly” (which is usually some false notion of perfection and not related to what is best for your body, your being), but if you can’t breathe, or if you find yourself working so hard that you are holding your breath, you have lost sight of the sacredness of the practice.

When I try to write, when I force myself to sit down and type when the ideas are not ready to be released to the page or the screen, it feels like a struggle. Because I am not allowing the ideas to have space to breathe.

Space to breathe. That is the practice. That is Sacred Becoming.

It really can be that simple. It can be a mantra meditation practice. It can be one sweet deep inhale and exhale before your morning lemon water or coffee. It can be a closing of the eyes midday when you need to refresh and revitalize yourself.

There are so many ways to come into your breath, into your being, and to give yourself the space you deserve.