Free indeed

I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten my hopes up that I was “healed” from bulimia. 

How deeply, desperately, hopefully and hopelessly I’ve searched for a cure, a healing method, a way of any kind to climb out of this hell hole. I’ve been 100% certain that it was lifted from me, and then when I wasn’t looking, it snuck in the back door. 

I’ve tried 12 step groups, yoga practices, guided meditations, Angel card readings, healing books of every sort, time alone, time in nature, smoking cigarettes, drinking caffeine, going to inpatient treatment, following strict guidelines from a dietician, excercise therapy, psychotherapy, talking to others in recovery, vision boarding like a fool, breathing, praying, crying, hiding, running, replacing it with a romantic relationship, getting a dog, getting a divorce, and having hands laid on me in prayer. 

It’s still haunting me. 

It says “you just haven’t tried hard enough. You never stick with anything. If you were just more willing, more disciplined, maybe I would go away. But you don’t really want me to. You are more comfortable with your darkness than you are with your light.”

Evil is very convincing. It’s extremely difficult to discern the true from the false when you are wrapped up in its grasp. As I have grown spiritually, I felt more and more attacked by it. As I grew, so did the problem in my mind. The battle between light and dark is real! It is within and without. 

 I’ve come to understand that sometimes God doesn’t change my circumstances because he’s changing my heart. Because he is. It has. I’m changed and still changing. 

Even though I stumble, I KNOW without a shred of a doubt, God is with me. He is teaching me to have faith on my best day, faith on my worst day. Now when I mess up, I run to him instead of hiding from him. I grab his hand again. He has his healing hands all over my life. I am not alone. 

My job now is not to obsess over my condition, but to spread the lovely light of Christ to everyone I meet. Evil will continue to attack, but I have the single greatest power in the universe protecting me! Of whom should I fear? Not the voices in my head! Not my demons. 

 I know God can do ANYTHING. I know he’s going to heal me. For a reason I can not yet understand, that hasn’t happened fully yet. But that doesn’t mean I’m not healing.  I believe he wants me to have faith even in the trenches, perseverance through any obstacle. Even in sickness, even in weakness. Maybe to show others that we must have faith in every step of the process, not just when things are going good. I know he knows my heart. All shall be well. 

I realize that I want to live my life with Jesus as my teacher. His perfect love can cast out that spirit. He can cast out all fear, all my demons. He does that regularly for me. But that doesn’t mean they stop going after me! In fact, they attack more readily when I grow in faith. This is how we get stronger! 

He is the only way to true and lasting peace. I used to pray to God, the spirits and the Angels, and sometimes at the end I would whisper Jesus’ name. When I said it, I would smile and get chills as if I were in on life’s best secret, and it was just between him and I. 

My soul yearned to know him personally. 

There were moments, the thin places, where the veil between me and God seemed almost impossible to detect. Experiences so vivid and transcendent that I was sure I needed to become a renunciate or a mystic because God wanted me all to himself. I was so sure of how much he loved me and wanted me close to him, but then my mind became tangled in a web of pain about food, body, depression, and bulimia. 

I read so many books to try and solve the issue and met many friends I’m certain I was destined to travel this journey with. Out of the dark night of the soul has come a light, a hope so beautiful that it has made all the pain completely worthwhile. 

I’ve reconnected with people from the past who have had messages for me that I’m certain were sent from God. Every day, even while in the depths of the pain of bulimic episodes, I didn’t stop reaching. I still haven’t stopped. I won’t stop

Friends, I really want my story to be a healing story. I want my headline to say “woman miraculously healed from eating disorder”. But I think God has a different working title. 

That’s not to say that miracles don’t abound, because they do. Jesus has made me new. Every time I say his name, I smile. He is the well of love, the cornerstone of strength, the fountain of hope, and the stream of peace that flows endlessly into my heart. He tells me I’m forgiven. Even when it feels like the demons have got me. He casts them out and makes my heart pure AGAIN and AGAIN. Grace is sufficient for me.

Even though I’m still stumbling, I know the answer now. And that gives me such a profound sense of relief and joy. That the work has already been done. That he wants to hold my hand until the day I take my last breath. That he thinks I’m perfect. He wipes away my tears and says “lift up your head, I’ve got you now. Unconditionally!” And I know nothing but love. Even when I’ve fallen prey to temptation, which happens all the time. 

When I fall short as a mother, and I know the parents out there know how painful that can be, he forgives me. He takes away my struggle and my stress. He says, step into my flow. Let’s see how we can love in this moment. How can we serve? How can we carry this message of freedom and strength? 

I’m crying as I write this, because I can’t understand how or why I was chosen for something so beautiful when I am so very flawed? I’m not sure. 

I know in each of us there is a yearning. A question of the heart. A desire to be full of a divine, pure love. I know that God meets us where we are. God shows up in infinite forms, different for each of us. This is the way he has revealed himself to me. For me, I feel like I’ve struck gold. I’ve found what I’ve been looking for! And I’ve been seeking for a long time. 

So I accept that it’s not gone yet. But who knows what God has planned today? Perhaps it is gone. I sure don’t feel evil’s presence in me at the moment!

Fall down 799 times, get up 800. I know that’s not how the saying goes, but it feels slightly more accurate than the 7, 8 ratio. I did not have the strength to do get back up on my own resources. Relying on my own strength had me basically on my knees praying for it all to end. I wanted to die. 

And in a way, I have. I have died to who I used to be. I am not a bulimic. 

Jesus gave me new life.

I am a child of God. Free indeed!

In the trenches

I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten my hopes up that I was “healed” from bulimia. 

How deeply, desperately, hopefully and hopelessly I’ve searched for a cure, a healing method, a way of any kind to climb out of this hell hole. 

I’ve tried 12 step groups, yoga practices, guided meditations, Angel card readings, healing books of every sort, time alone, time in nature, smoking cigarettes, drinking caffeine, going to inpatient treatment, following strict guidelines from a dietician, excercise therapy, psychotherapy, talking to others in recovery, vision boarding like a fool, breathing, praying, crying, hiding, running, replacing it with a romantic relationship, getting a dog, getting a divorce, and having hands laid on me in prayer. 

It’s still haunting me. 

It says “you just haven’t tried hard enough. You never stick with anything. If you were just more willing, more disciplined, maybe I would go away. But you don’t really want me to. You are more comfortable with your darkness than you are with your light.”

Evil is very convincing. It’s extremely difficult to discern the true from the false when you are wrapped up in its grasp. As I grew spiritually, I felt more and more attacked, from within, but also it felt like a bad spirit had attached itself to me. 

BUT, I’ve changed and grown more during this period of my life more than any other time in my life. I’ve come to understand that sometimes God doesn’t change my circumstances and that doesn’t mean he isn’t changing my heart. Because he is. It has. I’m changed. 

I realize that I want to live my life with Jesus as my teacher. His perfect love can cast out that spirit. He can cast out all fear, all my demons. He does that regularly for me. But that doesn’t mean they stop going after me. 

He is the only way to true and lasting peace. I used to pray to God, the spirits and the Angels, and sometimes at the end I would whisper Jesus’ name. When I said it, I would smile and get chills as if I were in on life’s best secret, and it was just between him and I. 

My soul yearned to know him personally. 

There were moments, the thin places, where the veil between me and God seemed almost impossible to detect. Experiences so vivid and transcendent that I was sure I needed to become a renunciate because God wanted me all to himself. I was so sure of how much he loved me and wanted me close to him, but my mind was tangled in a web of pain about food, body, and bulimia. 

I read so many books and met many friends I’m certain I was destined to travel this journey with. I’ve reconnected with people from the past who have had messages for me that I’m certain were sent from God. Every day, even while in the depths of the pain of bulimic episodes, I didn’t stop reaching. I still haven’t stopped. 

I will share with you some of the most amazing resources that have helped me find the next stepping stone on this very bumpy road. Friends, I really want my story to be a healing story. I want my headline to say “woman miraculously healed from severe eating disorder”. But I think God has a different working title. 

That’s not to say that miracles don’t abound, because they do. Jesus has made me new. Every time I say his name, I smile. He is the well of love, the cornerstone of strength, the fountain of hope, and the stream of peace that flows endlessly into my heart. He tells me I’m forgiven. Even when it feels like the demons have got me. He casts them out and makes my heart pure AGAIN and AGAIN. 

Even though I’m still stumbling, I Know the answer now. And that gives me such a profound sense of relief. That the work has already been done. That he wants to hold my hand until the day I take my last breath. That he thinks I’m perfect. He wipes away my tears and says “lift up your head.” And I know nothing but love. Even when I’ve screwed up, which is often!

When I fall short as a mom, and I know the parents out there know how painful that can be, he forgives me. He takes away my struggle and my stress. He says, step into my flow. Let’s see how we can love today. Who can we serve? How can we carry this message? 

I’m crying as I write this, because I can’t understand how or why I was chosen for something so beautiful when I am so very flawed? I’m not sure. 

I know in each of us there is a yearning. A question of the heart. A desire to be full of a divine, pure love. For me, I feel like I’ve struck gold. I’ve found what I’ve been looking for! And I’ve been seeking for a long time. 

So I accept that it’s not gone yet. Fall down 799 times, get up 800. I know that’s not how the saying goes, but it feels slightly more accurate than the 7, 8 ratio. I did not have the strength to do that on my own. Relying on my own strength had me basically on my knees praying for it all to end. I wanted to die. 

And in a way, I have. I have died to who I used to be. I am not a bulimic. I am a child of God. Free indeed.  

 

12 Songs That Saved Me

      

  
      There are times in our life where the only moments that we feel even relatively stitched together come when we immerse ourselves in a song. When we are sinking, but then a song floats up like a life preserver and in the moment prevents us from going under. The music gives us both permission and an outlet to feel these powerful feelings that can otherwise overwhelm. 

This is a list of songs that sang to me in my darkest moments, like a compass pointing me back toward my heart when I felt so separated from it. 

As my soul sister Glennon says, our soul is like a canary in a coal mine. It sings it’s little heart out until the air grows toxic and poisonous, and then it stops singing. At that point, you either get out of the coal mine or you die. 

  
Real life is more subtle. The death is not always a physical destruction of life, but more of a slow erosion of spirit. My canary had definitely stopped singing this year. The air was poisonous most of the time, and I felt isolated, afraid, and incredibly stuck. They helped me survive a horrific relapse into bulimia, a stint in treatment, a move out of state, a separation from my husband, and a year that rocked me to my core.

This collection of songs saved me in a way. They reminded me of my spirit’s song, of my canary. 

So I thought I would share my list and pay homage to the artists and lyrics that have shaped this period of my life. 

1. “It is Well” Kristine Demarco. 

There is no song that connects me to my faith like this one. This has been the chorus of my life for the last few months. It begs the question, can it be well with my soul even on the dark nights? Even the most frightening times when comfort and connection feel so far away? Most powerful line-

“And this mountain that’s in front of me, will be thrown into the midst of the sea.”

Listen Here 😍

2. “There Will Be Time” by Mumford and Sons with Baaba Maal

I feel the power of the earth, stars, and moon running head to toe when I hear this song. It is a piece of art that is both adoration and lament- a deep desire to be open coupled with the inevitable stumbling that we all do. Here’s what cultural commentator Matthew Becklo had to say:

“The result of this musical meeting of the minds is a powerful, almost ecstatic piece of world music about the tension between an all-consuming faith and human frailty.”

Damn I love this song!

Listen Here 😍

3. 3 Things by Jason Mraz

Ok, admittedly, this one is best if you are already in an upbeat place. It’s a bit happy-go-lucky for real struggle. But I love how he says, there are 3 things I do when my world falls apart:

“Number one I cry my eyes out and dry up my heart…

…The second thing I do is I close both of my eyes, and say my thank you’s to each and every moment of my life. I go where I know the love is, and let it fill me up inside, gathering new strength from sorrow, I’m glad to be alive. 

The third thing that I do now when my world caves in is I pause and take a breath and bow and let the chapter end. I design my future bright not by where my life has been and I try try try try try again.”

😏

Listen Here 😍

4. Bird Set Free (live from the village)-Sia 

Every. fucking. Word.

Want your canary to sing again? Belt this song one time or ten. Cathartic🙌🏼

Listen Here😍
5. Scars- My Brothers and I 

“I know your heart- it’s time to carry on.”

Yes it is. This song reminds me that we’ve all had hurts and pain, we are not alone even when we feel lost. It still moves my heart when I hear it. 

Listen Here 😍

6. True North- Jillette Johnson

I’ve always connected with this idea that we all have a true north- an inner compass that leads us exactly where we need to be. We can tell when we are centered in ourselves as well as when we are not. This song is about going off the path, but knowing that you’ll eventually stumble home. 

“Am I air or am I water will I dry or will I drown? I built everything I wanted then I tore it down. I am sure, As hot as cold, The more I learn, The less I know. 

I’ll find true north, and settle down. Release the lowness of my doubt. I’ll call my friends, and wipe my nose. I’ll find true north, and stumble home”

Listen Here 😍 

7. Rise Up by Andra Day

This song gave me courage and strength that didn’t originate in me- it moved through me when I heard her amazingly powerful voice. We will rise, we will rise, we will rise up. 💙

Listen Here 😍 

8. & 9. “Come Home” and “I lived” by One Republic

“Come home” is sad and sweet, a lament to my spirit that says it’s ok, it’s safe to come back and live in my body. Where my inner oak tree says to my inner acorn, it’s ok. You can put down roots and open your buds. I’ll take care of you.  and “I lived” is the victory lap song. It’s the song you sing on the other side of the fire. 

Listen Here 😍 

And 

Here 😍 
10. Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave

I’ll admit, I still struggle at times to connect with Christian Pop music. I never once thought I would listen to any of it. But the lyrics of this song have carried me a time or ten, and they describe what happens when one awakens to the Christ- self within. His essence pours through the words of this song. 

“All my life I have been called unworthy… Named by the voice of my shame and regret. But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”, I remember oh God, You’re not done with me yet”

That last line gets me every time!

Listen Here 😍 

11. Saturn by Sleeping At Last

When I hear the violins begin to play at the beginning of this song, my whole self sinks into a place of reverence and sacred awe. Sometimes instrumental parts of songs can invoke more emotion than the words and this is an example of that. This song reminds me of who I truly am- how jaw-droppingly beautiful, magical, and rare this life is. And it reminds me of that every time I listen. 

“How rare and beautiful it is to even exist…  I’d give anything to hear you say it one more time, that the universe was made just to be seen by my eyes.”

Listen Here 😍

12. Let it Be- Carol Woods

Ever since high school, I’ve felt a deep connection to this song. It’s that welling up from the pit of the belly to the top of the chest, it is HOPE. Peace. Beauty in the face of frightening conditions, internally and externally. It is a rallying cry for peace. Plus- mother Mary is a queen of the sacred feminine!  😍

Listen Here 😍

Thank you so much for reading, and I sincerely hope these tunes give your heart comfort- or maybe just get you thinking about the music that has carried you through tough times. 

Here is the whole playlist on spotify-

Songs that Saved Me
And the playlist is collaborative, meaning that if you have spotify, you can add songs to it! How cool! I want to know what songs have kept your canary singing in trying times?

Feel free to comment or add songs you like. I trust you all😊

Peace, friends✌🏻️

  

The Forbidden Fruit, and My Decision to Go to Treatment

  
 I have been thinking a lot about the story of Adam and Eve, from a metaphorical standpoint. I really like bible stories but that wasn’t always the case.  A chamber of my heart used to be locked shut to biblical wisdom for a myriad of reasons, but the inner work I’ve done pried open that old rusty door and now I’m able to bask in the wisdom that this old book has to offer. 
Anyway, Adam and Eve, stay with me on this one. So the two of them get to live in this beautiful garden, unified with their creator, free to frolic as they please. Only one instruction- do not eat the forbidden fruit. The fact that they ate the fruit is the only reason any of us can relate to the story, am I right? They got kicked out, banished from the Garden, right? I believe this directly correlates to my own forbidden fruit, for if I give into temptation, I am serving the wrong master. I am always serving something- I am either evolving or devolving, growing closer to love or drifting away from it. Either I am trusting or I am doubting. Either I am succumbing to my personal will or I am surrendering to divine will. Either I am eating the fruit that will ultimately banish me from any chance at serenity, or I am free to frolic in the fourth dimension. 

But what happens when I get stuck with a foot in each world? What happens when I eat the fruit, but want to live in the garden anyway? 

  
As St. Paul says, 

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do.” 

My ego desires the things which are despised by my spirit. Run on self will, I search out fleeting pleasures like sex, booze, food, wealth, succes, power, and earthly things. The spirit desires something more holy, heaven on earth to be exact,  and this road is quite narrow. Renunciation is often the beginning, for without it, I am a servant of the  ego, I am eating the fruit. 
Let me explain how this translates for me. For the last month or so, food has been my master. After some solid recovery time from my binge eating and bulimia, I relapsed. Last month, I fell hard into the food, exhibiting the same behaviors drug addicts do with their heroin or speed. I bought things in secret, with cash so no one would know. I ate in isolation, hiding in closets with my drug of choice, desperate to experience the sense of ease and comfort that would come from the sugar plunging into my bloodstream. While devouring one donut, my mind would be racing to the next thing I could eat. I would tell you about my binges but honestly? I’m not exactly sure it’s helpful to me or anyone. Suffice it to say that ice cream, peanut butter, and donuts played a starring role. 

I now have awakened a beast that lied dormant inside me for months. The crazy part is, it’s not the huge violent binges and purges that pose the problem. It’s the tiny, seemingly harmless things, like a stray French fry or a packet of stevia or a sip of Diet Coke or a slice of gum that fuel my mental obsession to binge. 
Food addiction is quite a strange thing, very hard to explain unless you have experienced it yourself. What I notice is a Split. A battle. Inner warfare. Between my addiction- the gremlin on my shoulder- and my soul. 

   
These images perfectly depict the split I feel internally. Plus they are awesome. 

 The wiser part of me who truly just wants to heal and be free is still in there, even when my disease is driving the bus.  What scares me is that in those moments of obsession, of extreme pull to the binge, my wisest self retreats. She knows she has no chance. She loves me. She will hold my hand no matter what, even if I am digging my own grave. But she can’t save me. She would have already if she could. 
  
My spirit can’t save me either. My creativity, inspiration, desire to dance with the universe- none of that has a chance of saving me. It must come from something infinite, boundless, and pure. The part of me that is indestructible, the part of me that is pure awareness, pure bliss. The part of me that is God. I need a big God for this job. I need all the angels and Saints, sages, spirit guides, Jesus, Buddha, ones that have gone before, earthly Angels, healers, teachers, Mother Earth, father sky, the Holy Spirit, the spirits of North, South, East and West. All of them. 

Though I deeply desire to abstain from my disordered eating behaviors (compulsive eating and bulimia), I simply cannot. No amount of willpower can overcome the mental obsession that comes with this disease. I ate the forbidden fruit and have since been banished from the serenity I find at the center of the kingdom of God, which is within. The price of admission to this beautiful, expansive inner paradise is releasing the ties that bind me to the material world, letting go of my addictions so that God can open another door. 

With each release, my soul becomes freer, my spirit is able to soar, and I am permitted to live where my innermost being desires to be. 
I have lived inside and outside the garden, and I know where I truly want to be. The pain of being a slave to the addiction has to be great before I’m willing to change. I have to have lots and lots of suffering, pain, and sickness in order to even consider giving up the thing that has granted me ease and comfort since I was a little girl. Now, bear in mind this is the case for folks like me- addicts- but may not be the case for all of humankind. (If you’re not an addict, it’s fairly easy to give up things that give you ease and comfort.) When I became ready to relinquish alcohol and accept some sort of higher power as my master, I was granted permission to live in a 4th dimension, one where the sky was bluer, words moved my soul to tears, and I experienced life in a true and open sense. I began to see the way I was designed to live, free of resentment and fear and able to co-create my reality in a dance with the divine. I loved life.
But with new awareness comes new answers, and sometimes the answers are not what I would have chosen. The path gets narrower. It gets easier to fall off the spiritual beam. The path I was led to was one of abstinence from my binge foods and the work of the 12 steps. Through The steps, I established a relationship with a new master and was granted admission into the garden of Eden, the only caveat being that I do not eat the forbidden fruit and I take action to enlarge my spiritual life. 
But I am always doing what I don’t want to do, and what I hate, I do. So I’m in this cycle I cannot break free of. My flesh is weak and my mind has been invaded by disease, and no human power can stop this thing. My only hope for a defense must come from a power greater than me. 
So I’m not going to stop praying. I’m not going to stop reaching for the light. 
I did yoga for the first time in several days after moving to a new state, and thank God for that beautiful practice that reminds me of my own divinity, reminds me that my body is not such a bad place to be. That I can love myself through this shit.  
I understand now that there is a difference between being cured and being healed. Lots of things simply cannot be cured. It’s just not the way they were designed. Addiction is one of them. It will always be in my DNA, it might seem to lie dormant but that is one of its many tricks. The truth is, it is watching and absorbing my every effort to get well. And it is waiting for an opportune chance to sneak in the back door… And when it comes in, there’s a good chance I will be swallowed entirely. It uses everything I learn about recovery against me. And there’s no telling how much pain I will have to endure from it before I give up the fight. Each time emerging from a painful binge and purge, and it tells me “Why didn’t you fight harder? What’s the matter with you?” 
I teach yoga. I love it. But leading up to my classes, I often feel extreme trepidation. I often want to run away. The ego tells me to. The disease tells me to. I briefly consider it almost every time, looking for a way out. But, somehow, I show up. I get through it. And people tell me it’s good. They enjoy it. They feel better. They thank me. The disease tells me to filter out that nonsense. Not to allow myself to believe that I could be capable of anything worthwhile. You see, the disease would like me to die, but it will settle for me binging and purging. 

 Much like cancer, it attacks me from within, it eats away at my health. But I have something looking out for me. It might be an inner force, but I believe it’s also outside of me. There were so many times I could have or should have died. Drunk driving incidences where I was blacked out, just for example. Times I placed myself in harms way and came out without a scratch. My angels have been working overtime. They just wait and watch patiently because they know that one day I am going to be one of their number one workers. That’s my deepest desire. I just have to sift through my own shit before I can get to that point.

  
Jesus said the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. There are so many people out there in pain, who need to believe in something. Who need to find meaning and purpose and faith! There are more of us who are lost than found. The crazy part is, I’ve been found. I know spirit, it moves through us in much the same way as inspiration does. I know my soul. I know An amazing God. Jesus is awesome, the single best teacher who ever lived, and he lives in each of our hearts, if we awaken to that Christ consciousness. 

 The virtues of honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, humility, peace, wisdom, devotion, and service are things I read about, strive for, and consistently fall short of. 
I know my dharma. My life’s work is to create and serve with God as my master. Lately, however, I have been eating the forbidden fruit. I am not where I want to be. But hopefully, I’m on my way there. Thank goodness for grace, for infinite chances and infinite forgiveness. 

I will be in treatment at Shades of Hope in Buffalo Gap, Texas for six days (July 17-23). I am looking forward to crossing back over to the light, but I know from experience that it won’t be painless. I would appreciate your thoughts and prayers if you have any to spare. This is an incredibly selfish disease, and I won’t be able to help create heaven on earth until I stop self destructing. 

*** I wrote this yesterday. As of today, Saturday July 2nd, I have not eaten the fruit. I have been abstinent from bulimia and compulsive eating by the grace of God. Today is what I have, and it’s a good day.***

May all beings be healthy.

May all beings be happy.

May all beings be free.

May all beings live with ease.
Namaste

Shadow and Light

“The soul journey begins in darkness. The journey progresses by clearing away an obstacle to the truth every day. At times, we make leaps into the light, great bounds that free us from the grip of an ignorant belief. More often, revelation proceeds by tiny steps, one insight at a time.”

-Deepak Chopra
For a long time, especially in my addiction and early sobriety, 100% honesty evaded me. It felt vague and slippery, as if gazing through a translucent mucked up veil that somehow kept truth slightly out of reach. What WAS my truth? Which voice in my head was telling the truth? I would experience wisdom and grace, but these intervals were quite brief, and I’d end up asleep at the wheel of life again and again. I know I had experienced feeling this amazing vibration of unconditional love. 

But then where did it go?

I needed one insight at the time, because you can’t swallow an elephant in one bite. 
I am a seeker by all means of the word.  I can find wisdom on the pages of books and from the mouths of spiritual teachers and fellow addicts, and gas station attendants. 

But there is a MAJOR difference between searching out and recognizing truth, and ACTUALLY living and experiencing that truth on the inside. What happens when the voices in my head are not reiterating the wisdom I’ve come to know to be true? Do I turn on them? Do I try to destroy the fearful voice?

I thought so. But now I see that this is not the essence of shadow work. What I’ve found to be most healing is experiencing my fear and depression without trying to escape from it. Approaching the shadow from an interested and curious perspective, as you would a child who was telling an imaginative story. Because that’s essentially what my mind is doing all the time. Instead of covering my ears and singing “LaLaLa” as loud as I can, pausing in wonder to watch the storm. 

There’s no need to label emotions as positive or negative. They are simply energy in motion. And I attract those on a similar vibration. Ever heard the saying “your vibe attracts your tribe?” It’s true. 

“Any feeling fully felt is bliss.”

-Lloyd Burnett

One practice that has been healing for me is transformational sharing- Telling the truth about who I am. I attend 12 step meetings, write, and speak about the scary stuff that used to fill me with shame. A friend reminded me that shame cannot survive proximity, it only thrives when we isolate and hold the truth inside. 

But there’s two sides to that coin- it would be a disservice to the universe if I only honored and spoke of my lower vibrations. The pain, loneliness, separation, despair, and death that comes when ego runs riot. 
It would be only talking about the crucifixion and skipping the resurrection. Where’s the hope in that?
So for this truth-telling session, I’m going to do this in a totally different way- I’m going to intersperse a higher truth with a lower truth. This will help me remember my humanity, both scared and brave, both serving and selfish, painful and yet healing. We can be And/both people. Fear and faith can and do ride in the same car. 

shadow AND light


1. I am a heart-centered entrepreneur who is just making her beginning. I believe I have been called to write, teach, and talk about things that delight and ignite spirit.

2. I am a recovered alcoholic who began drinking at age 15 and binge drank for 12 years. I have been arrested more than once, and my drinking and using could have killed me on multiple occasions.

3. There is a part of me that is completely innocent and miraculous. Anything is possible when I align with this place. This place is my heart, where the light of the entire universe resides.

4. I am currently recovering from bulimia, binge eating disorder, and exercise bulimia. For the majority of my years on this earth, my body has been my enemy

5. I have entered into a new contract of peace and friendship with my body. I see now that it is indeed a well of wisdom and has always supported me and kept me alive despite my actions to the contrary. Thank you, body.

6. I was raped on two occasions, once at 17 and once at 20. Because of these events, I disconnected from my body for many years. I touted myself as being sexually free when in reality, I felt deeply broken and forever scarred internally.

7. I have found healing through the twelve steps and yoga that I never thought possible. Shame and guilt have been replaced with a deep peace and freedom, a true awakening of my soul to a higher being who loves, nourishes, and accepts every hair on my head.

8. I had an abortion 6 months before I became pregnant with my first daughter. This was another shame story that deeply engrained itself in my inner world and led me to seek the oblivion that the bottle, food, and exercise could bring.

9. I have forgiven myself ENTIRELY for that choice. God has forgiven me, and I have peace with the soul that I carried very briefly. An understanding has been reached, healing has taken place, and I know today that everything happened exactly as it should. 

10. I still struggle almost daily with waves of fear, self pity, and depression. Sometimes it feels like hands wrapping around my ankles and pulling me into the quicksand of despair and doubt.

11. I don’t have to do battle with those demons today. My fierce warrior spirit, my angels, all the gurus and teachers who have gone before, my fellows in recovery, and my divine director have my back. There is absolutely no reason for me to feel alone today. I can just ask to be shown my own light, and I remember that it resides within, and it is always brighter than the darkness.

12. I get jealous. I have hungry ghosts that can’t get no satisfaction. When I like something, I always want more of it. I’m an undisciplined procrastinator. I judge myself and others harshly sometimes. The gremlin on my shoulder sometimes gains the upper hand.

13. I’m a creative being, full of enthusiasm and passion. I remember to turn to this current of vitality and wonder that flows through me. I am inspired and I ground myself by taking action. I align myself with a higher will than my own, and I proactively engage with my own godly nature.

14. I make a lot of mistakes. I forget to pay bills, I miss appointments, I snap at my daughters and my husband, and I freak out about little bitty things. My car is always full of random crap, old kid snacks, books, papers, and spilled drinks. Sometimes it feels like this is a reflection of my life situation. 

15. I earnestly try to love those whom I come into contact with, including myself, and especially my girls- reminding them that I love them and there’s nothing that they’ll ever do that will take that love away. I try to forgive as soon as possible, for I know that one puff of resentment fills the lungs with black smoke.

16. As a child, I felt strangely uncomfortable in my skin. I remember when I was 5 having diarrhea and not wanting to tell anyone about it because I felt so ashamed of it. I don’t know if that’s genetic or karmic, but I do know that I always felt the need to hide the truth, to hide myself. I knew the voice well that says, “If you tell anyone about this, you’ll be destroyed. Keep it inside. You’ll only make others miserable and uncomfortable if you share.”

17. As an adult, I’m working on healing that child, mothering her and nurturing her and loving her big and fierce and strong. So I do the things she didn’t know how to do, like sharing my insides. And I do things she loved to do, like dance and paint and write and sing. 

18. As a child, I spent a lot of time on my bunkbed, pencil and notebook in hand, writing page after page of elaborate short stories that my big sister would loyally read and discuss. She held space for my creativity, and it all just flowed without obstruction. As a teen, I became focused more on achieving than on creating. My spark went out.

19. Today, I light a candle for the gift. I read all about these gifts and come to find out, they are indestructible! Gifted people reunite or recreate their creativity at every stage of life. So just because my gift was not honored or cherished then, does not mean I shouldn’t start NOW. 

I could go on, and I bet you could make your own list, too! This is what it is to be human, to be half-God, half-beast. Feet on the ground, head in the stars. The Union of soul and spirit. When I think of soul, I do think of the shadow, I think of the earth, the way we grow from pain, “the dark night of the soul”, “soulful lyrics”, “Free my soul”… Etc. 

  
So My shadow grounds me. It is my roots, it is the experiences that push and evolve me, that require me to go past a certain threshold only by taking a leap of faith, a trust fall into surrendering to what lies ahead. The even numbers above are events that have shaped my soul and my shadow. And I’m grateful to the pain today because it’s been a tremendous teacher. 

  
 
Then there’s spirit, which lifts me. Spirit is the sky, the open, airy realm of consciousness and heavenly awareness that bathes me in grace. The root word of inspiration is spirit, so enthusiasm and creativity are the dance with the divine. Think “my spirit soars”, “Spirit Bird”, “Spirit of the Universe”, Crown Chakra, open up to pure, white light. This is the angel on my shoulder, my bliss body, my heart. My spirit speaks in all of the odd numbered truths above.
Today, I intend to remember my roots and to lead with spirit. I need both. This, I believe, is the nature of humility. To see all the ways I’ve erred but yet not to forget to tell the story of the redemption. That I’ve been rocketed to a fourth dimension where I don’t have to self destruct anymore. And if I do pick up an old pattern or behavior, I can simply and compassionately love that part of me and let it teach me what I haven’t learned from it yet.

I think it does a disservice to the shadow to give the light all the credit. This is just not the planet for that. So today, I know that I can love both, and experience both aspects of me. 
  

a letter to God

  

Dear God,
Why do I feel so out of whack? Alone? Depressed? In the Wrong? Cut off from the sunlight of the spirit? 
I know you are an incredibly loving and ever-present force within me and around me. So why is it that I can’t find you? Have I forgotten how? Have I chosen the shadows instead of the light?
Where do you want me, God? What is my work here? I don’t believe that you are a punishing God. That has never been my experience of you. But I am afraid. I’m afraid and I just don’t know what to do. 
I have so many thoughts, God. Most of them are generated from a not-so-loving place. I know that these thoughts are creating my reality. But I can’t seem to get past them. I do want to turn the care of my life over to you, today and every day. What would you have me be?
The two most repeated phrases in the bible are “Do not be afraid” and “Remember”. So I think you would want me to allow my fears to fall from me. To remember my powerlessness and to stop the struggle. It is only when I acknowledge that my way doesn’t work that I can walk with you. I don’t want to lead the way. When I lead, I seem to fall through endless trap doors, dropping deeper and deeper into oblivion. 
I used to eat and drink for oblivion. Now I think myself into oblivion. Somehow, I don’t think this is the design you want for me and my life. I know you are overjoyed when one of your lost sheep comes back. I know that this acknowledgement that I am spiritually bereft is a step up from thrashing around wildly trying to do this thing alone. 
I ran into my daughter’s bike yesterday in the driveway. I have left the stovetop on 3 times in the past week. I am finding myself buried under laundry and student loan debt, unable to keep up with life on life’s terms. And part of me believes the lie I’m telling myself. Part of me believes that my disease is going to kill me. That I have no chance, it’s just too strong.
But you told us to remember. So I will try. I remember the tears that poured forth each time I got on my knees and wailed out to you. I remember the cathartic waves of peace, freedom, and unconditional love I felt after surrendering. If I could live in that surrendered state with you, God, I would. I remember seeing your son Jesus’ face in my heart and mind and being overcome with pure amazement. I remember studying his teachings in the wee hours of the morning, and you joined me, God. I remember considering becoming a nun because being close with you was the best feeling I had ever experienced, and real life might not do it for me anymore.
I remember becoming fascinated with the Mystics, who truly became love drunk on you. I remember deeply meditative states where it felt like I left my body, and I got a little scared and wanted to come back. I remember deeply prayerful states, especially heart-centered meditations, where it felt like my whole body radiated light. 
I remember getting perfectly clear signs from you, God. When I asked, you appeared. You struck my tree with lightning! You saved me from my own destruction. I believed, that every single thing that happened was part of your plan and was meant for my eyes. I felt attuned to a higher plane of wisdom every time I truly tried to connect with you. Faith was never a question because I SAW and FELT and HEARD you at every single turn. You placed people, places, bad things in my life that I needed at exactly the time I needed them. How could I question you? It made more sense to me to deeply trust than to ever second-guess.
And I wanted it to be true, anyhow. This life was revealing to me a 4th dimension, rocketing me into this place where absolutely nothing happens by mistake. And great things were happening for me! “See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the great fact for us.” (AA Big Book page 164)
I have a feeling the signs are still there. That you are sending me inspiration after inspiration, lifeboat after lifeboat, but yet, I’m letting my disease win. I’m believing it instead of you. I’m allowing negative thoughts to take up residency in my body, mind, and heart, and they want to kill me. They rejoice when I am doubtful, feeding on my fears and multiplying exponentially when I am blocked from you. If you say “Do not be afraid” and “remember”, my disease says, “Forget that” and “Just quit trying, you are doomed, anyway.” 
Which wolf do I feed? Well, I think it’s pretty clear what the answer is. My disease even tries to invade my relationship with you, God! Can you believe that? It tells me that I have failed, I am blocked, and it’s hopeless. Unless I can get everything perfect, I really don’t stand a chance. And right now, I feel like I can’t get a damn thing right. So it does, at times, feel like my disease is winning. Even when I affirm good things to myself, even when people reassure me, even when I’m doing my very best, it’s just not enough for the hungry ghosts, the insatiable demons. They are thirsty for my life force, and I’ve allowed them to hang out long enough that I feel their heavy chains dragging my body down every day.
That is no exaggeration. I feel tense, tight, and not energetic. I sleep well, eat right, and am active, but it’s not enough to arrest these bad boys. I need you, God. I need you to direct my thinking, to pull me back from the gates of death, to turn my life into what it was designed to be. To transform my heart like you have so many times. To love me so much that I simply cannot question whether I am cared for. 
I love Jesus’ teaching about the lilies and the sparrows- how you watch over them and love them, making sure they are cared for. So what makes me think I am forgotten? Human beings are made in your image. Of course you love me. Of course you are here. When I take one step toward you, You take ten steps towards me. 
So this is my one step, God. I am here. I turn my life over to you, I welcome you to have all of me, to transform my thoughts and actions so that they align with your will. My way is not working! Relieve me of the bondage of selfishness and fear, relieve me of the chains of my hungry ghosts, take away my difficulties, so that by overcoming them I can be a vessel for your Power, love, and way of living. May your will be done.

I affirm this with my whole being.

Amen. 
Love Your daughter,

Amanda

a letter to God

  

Dear God,
Why do I feel so out of whack? Alone? Depressed? In the Wrong? Cut off from the sunlight of the spirit? 
I know you are an incredibly loving and ever-present force within me and around me. So why is it that I can’t find you? Have I forgotten how? Have I chosen the shadows instead of the light?
Where do you want me, God? What is my work here? I don’t believe that you are a punishing God. That has never been my experience of you. But I am afraid. I’m afraid and I just don’t know what to do. 
I have so many thoughts, God. Most of them are generated from a not-so-loving place. I know that these thoughts are creating my reality. But I can’t seem to get past them. I do want to turn the care of my life over to you, today and every day. What would you have me be?
The two most repeated phrases in the bible are “Do not be afraid” and “Remember”. So I think you would want me to allow my fears to fall from me. To remember my powerlessness and to stop the struggle. It is only when I acknowledge that my way doesn’t work that I can walk with you. I don’t want to lead the way. When I lead, I seem to fall through endless trap doors, dropping deeper and deeper into oblivion. 
I used to eat and drink for oblivion. Now I think myself into oblivion. Somehow, I don’t think this is the design you want for me and my life. I know you are overjoyed when one of your lost sheep comes back. I know that this acknowledgement that I am spiritually bereft is a step up from thrashing around wildly trying to do this thing alone. 
I ran into my daughter’s bike yesterday in the driveway. I have left the stovetop on 3 times in the past week. I am finding myself buried under laundry and student loan debt, unable to keep up with life on life’s terms. And part of me believes the lie I’m telling myself. Part of me believes that my disease is going to kill me. That I have no chance, it’s just too strong.
But you told us to remember. So I will try. I remember the tears that poured forth each time I got on my knees and wailed out to you. I remember the cathartic waves of peace, freedom, and unconditional love I felt after surrendering. If I could live in that surrendered state with you, God, I would. I remember seeing your son Jesus’ face in my heart and mind and being overcome with pure amazement. I remember studying his teachings in the wee hours of the morning, and you joined me, God. I remember considering becoming a nun because being close with you was the best feeling I had ever experienced, and real life might not do it for me anymore.
I remember becoming fascinated with the Mystics, who truly became love drunk on you. I remember deeply meditative states where it felt like I left my body, and I got a little scared and wanted to come back. I remember deeply prayerful states, especially heart-centered meditations, where it felt like my whole body radiated light. 
I remember getting perfectly clear signs from you, God. When I asked, you appeared. You struck my tree with lightning! You saved me from my own destruction. I believed, that every single thing that happened was part of your plan and was meant for my eyes. I felt attuned to a higher plane of wisdom every time I truly tried to connect with you. Faith was never a question because I SAW and FELT and HEARD you at every single turn. You placed people, places, bad things in my life that I needed at exactly the time I needed them. How could I question you? It made more sense to me to deeply trust than to ever second-guess.
And I wanted it to be true, anyhow. This life was revealing to me a 4th dimension, rocketing me into this place where absolutely nothing happens by mistake. And great things were happening for me! “See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the great fact for us.” (AA Big Book page 164)
I have a feeling the signs are still there. That you are sending me inspiration after inspiration, lifeboat after lifeboat, but yet, I’m letting my disease win. I’m believing it instead of you. I’m allowing negative thoughts to take up residency in my body, mind, and heart, and they want to kill me. They rejoice when I am doubtful, feeding on my fears and multiplying exponentially when I am blocked from you. If you say “Do not be afraid” and “remember”, my disease says, “Forget that” and “Just quit trying, you are doomed, anyway.” 
Which wolf do I feed? Well, I think it’s pretty clear what the answer is. My disease even tries to invade my relationship with you, God! Can you believe that? It tells me that I have failed, I am blocked, and it’s hopeless. Unless I can get everything perfect, I really don’t stand a chance. And right now, I feel like I can’t get a damn thing right. So it does, at times, feel like my disease is winning. Even when I affirm good things to myself, even when people reassure me, even when I’m doing my very best, it’s just not enough for the hungry ghosts, the insatiable demons. They are thirsty for my life force, and I’ve allowed them to hang out long enough that I feel their heavy chains dragging my body down every day.
That is no exaggeration. I feel tense, tight, and not energetic. I sleep well, eat right, and am active, but it’s not enough to arrest these bad boys. I need you, God. I need you to direct my thinking, to pull me back from the gates of death, to turn my life into what it was designed to be. To transform my heart like you have so many times. To love me so much that I simply cannot question whether I am cared for. 
I love Jesus’ teaching about the lilies and the sparrows- how you watch over them and love them, making sure they are cared for. So what makes me think I am forgotten? Human beings are made in your image. Of course you love me. Of course you are here. When I take one step toward you, You take ten steps towards me. 
So this is my one step, God. I am here. I turn my life over to you, I welcome you to have all of me, to transform my thoughts and actions so that they align with your will. My way is not working! Relieve me of the bondage of selfishness and fear, relieve me of the chains of my hungry ghosts, take away my difficulties, so that by overcoming them I can be a vessel for your Power, love, and way of living. May your will be done.

I affirm this with my whole being.

Amen. 
Love Your daughter,

Amanda

Fight the Battle, Warriors

  
In the spirit of not saving epiphanies for later, here’s what’s on my mind.
The mind is a battlefield. Every day, the old fights with the new. Every day, the established order and pattern gets challenged by change and growth.

 For me, I’ve been in what I like to call a funk. I get these. I used to self-medicate them with excess of food or alcohol to subdue their effects, to prevent having to feel the depths of human emotions. The phrase “hurt feelings” should really have been “feelings hurt”. Mine always did. But anywho, yesterday was an emotional joyride, with highs and lows, and I realized at the end of the day that my balance was all out of whack. I wasn’t getting enough exercise, my prayer was lackluster, and my focus and intention was all over the place. My energy was whacky. I’m a fiery girl, so my energy can be like a bonfire, destroying everything in its path, or like a torch, lighting the way. I seemed akin to the destruction.
Waking up at 5:20 this morning, the doubt started first. Isn’t it crazy how you go to bed with the firm resolve to wake up early the next morning and tackle the day with gusto, only to somehow have your mind change on you somewhere in the night?! There was the battlefield again- me vs my mind. Spirit vs ego. Heart vs brain. Move or stay stuck. The inertia of my shitty day yesterday was trying to encroach upon my Saturday, too! 

I think not, buddy. 

They say to pray and meditate before the thoughts descend…. Well my discipline is not quite there yet, I have to have my coffee first. In those first few waking moments, the strong urge comes to skip my sacred morning time and my allotted space for yoga and just snooooooze away. 

Not today, mister.
So I had my coffee. I resolutely moved back into a space of trust. I told God I would ask inwardly before making any moves today. Or at least try to remember to do that as often as I could. I began by inquiring whether I should do my yoga practice at the health club or at the yoga studio… My eyes fell upon a candle and I knew the answer right away. I’ve been enjoying candle gazing at the studio during my quiet time before classes lately. Some might say this was just me making the decision, but to me it felt like divine guidance, and perhaps it was internally motivated. A nudge from my soul. 
I turned on a playlist on Spotify at random and it was as if my soul was the DJ. Every lyric, every rhythm, every beat was in sync with the way my body and spirit wanted to move, the words my heart needed to hear. At one point, a song came on that inspired me to start dancing and jumping around the room. 

  
Sometimes it feels joyful and childlike, and other times it feels like exorcizing a demon. Like a physical release of all the accumulated anger, fear, and grief and even happiness that’s been hanging around my cells. 
Enthusiasm comes from the Latin root “en theos” which means God within.
I don’t want to live life anything less than that. 
If I’m going to be crazy, I might as well take my crazy energy and make it into a flying torpedo of love and service and dharma. 
Anyway. Amazing experience with my spirit and my body and God. There have been many early mornings for me at the studio which have had an eerie feel, as if maybe I was being joined by lower energies. My lights flickered off in the little room and I got that chill down my spine of “ah shit. Ghost is back”. Then I remembered. 

TRUST.

I sat and candle gazed. Decided to trust the light, to literally and metaphorically turn to the light instead of the shadows. To show myself that I do trust. That I am safe. That I can let go of control. That my heart can be the leader instead of my mind. 
I kept that mentality all day. And it was an ordinary day full of miracles. 
I could explain it all, but just TRUST me. You know how things just happen, meaningful coincidences? But you only get them if your eyes are open? It was like the universe rewarding me for choosing to see. An incredible conversation with my sister. Perfect music making a soundtrack. A meeting with women who share the same disease as me and who communicate from the depths of their being. Showing their belly button lint, if you will. Drawing my angel cards and receiving Spontaneity and Peace. A perfect dichotomy, exactly how I felt. Arriving at the Greenwood Mall just as they were having free Easter games and prizes, and Charlie AND Lucy winning the drawing for free bags of candy. I had an intuitive feeling they would win just before. 

   
Check out the swag.

 

Don’t just believe in miracles. 

Expect them.

I know these are ordinary things. But when you’re grinding along, barely getting by, and all the sudden an entire 24 hours goes by when it feels like the stars were aligned, it’s wise to take notice. Patrick found the shoes he wanted. I found 3 new books, one of them I opened randomly and the first thing I read was the quote from the Gospel of St. Thomas- 

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” 

Exactly the quote that my last blog was about, and every time it shakes me to my core. We can’t run from our sacred duty. So we better find out what the hell it is! 
I bought the book. 
We ate dinner. Patrick suggested we stop and do a quick round of go-karting before we went home, but I had a feeling everyone was too tired. 30 seconds later, both girls were asleep. I read some of my new copy of the Bhagavad Gita, and then fell asleep as well. I woke just as we pulled off the interstate, and was greeted at the gas station by a poster that said “Some run towards the battlefield”… I think it was an advertisement for the military. 

  
But the meaning was not subtle for me. The Gita is about a battlefield… About dharma… And about the metaphor of the internal battle we all fight. That doubt is actually our greatest foe, not desire, not sin. Doubting the wisdom of our soul is what completely wrecks our human experience. On how to proceed when we are terrified, when we don’t want to blaze the trail of our dharma because it’s too scary, so instead we settle. We reach a crossroads and plop down on a folding chair and never take the action. We go back to bed instead of waking up and chasing our dreams.
Many give up at the crossroads because the process is so agonizing, we must wrestle with doubt, conflict, and despair. That’s why the authors placed Arjuna on a field of battle- the stakes are high, decisions are complex, yet there is no escape from choice and action. 

 

I sincerely believe the universe sent me sign after encouraging sign. If doubt and fear had won this morning, somehow I feel the whole day would have been incredibly different.

This is what the hero does in the Gita- he reaches indecision and doubt, and then Lord Krishna gives him divine guidance and wisdom on how to follow his true path in spite of that doubt. 
Gandhi, Thoreau, and Emerson, among many others, were all students of the Gita. And now I’m going to be, too. 
Time to trail blaze.
Time to be a torpedo.
Time to start trusting the path.
If you can see the whole path, it’s not YOUR path.  
Leave room for miracles. For spontaneity. For Synchronicity. And for God’s sake, throw your whole heart and soul into this thing. We only do it once. I’m here to serve my soul, and I believe in doing so, I will serve the human race. What serves my highest being serves everyone. One soul is every soul. We are all inextricably linked in the web of humanity. 
Ok that’s enough philosophy out of me. Time to curl up and watch a silly show and feel deep peace. Thank you for reading, and thank you God for another day and another step toward trust.

“Our bodies are known to end, but the embodied self is enduring, indestructible, and immeasurable; therefore, Arjuna, fight the battle!”

Krishna to Arjuna 

(In other words, do your dharma!)

What is Dharma? To bring forth what is within. 

image

 

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

This is from the Gospel of Thomas.

I’m a big believer in dharma, and there are many schools of thought on the subject, but what I’m particularly interested is the soul’s true north. As a child, I remember being taught that I had special gifts, and that life is about uncovering and sharing my gifts. I wrote pages upon pages of fictional dramas and loved athletics, my daughter Charlie is a gentle spirit who loves animals and storytelling, whereas Lucy is rhythmic and musical, with a knack for numbers. Children can embrace the world and their gifts with in encumbered hearts, but things get rather confusing when it comes time to choose a career path which tends to be a much more logical, practical, and pragmatic process with an emphasis on making ourselves look good on paper. There are the lucky ones who truly know who they are and what they want and adhere to that path all their lives. But most of us get lost somewhere along the way. We need a true north, we need to be our honest, authentic selves, actively engaging with our purpose on a daily basis, or we perish

I was one of the lost ones.

I couldn’t make a choice, and instead found myself swan diving into a world of alcohol, bulimia, pot, and other lost souls who had chosen not to choose, who had lost their true north. Luckily for me, addiction was my soul’s chosen path to awakening, it eventually gave me enough suffering that I had to find the light. So Here I am.

But consider the quote about bringing forth what is within. If I do not bring it forth, it will destroy me. Yikes! But it’s true. Some of us choose addiction, others choose less obvious distractions like control, perfectionism, workaholism, and numbing out with technology. The bottom line is, if we aren’t doing our dharma, we spend a lot of time suffering.

These gifts may seem entirely ordinary upon first glance but what makes them amazing is that bringing them forth not only save us individually, they save humanity. That might sound like a bit of a leap, but if  everyone fulfilled their unique purpose, think about what that might look like.

I recently met a man who was CLEARLY doing his dharma. He looked to be in his mid-70s, slightly frail but with an aliveness and twinkle that only a man who has deep purpose can purvey. He was waiting in the jail lobby to join the inmates and teach them about Celebrate Recovery, which is a Christ-based group who use biblical principles and the 12 steps to recover from habits, hang-ups, and hurts. His service assignment from the universe did not stop there- he went on to tell us about how he was a chaplain at a nursing home, cooked the men’s breakfast at the church every week, and sang songs with the children who came for bible school. It might sound like boasting, but he was so full of joy that his overflow would thaw any icy heart. He explained how he used to be addicted to gambling and overeating, and how his heart was changed the day he surrendered. He has since used his pain as a catalyst for change, as a touchstone of personal and spiritual growth. He knew joy and peace, and he simply wanted others to find that peace.

Just like him,  my pain has also been my teacher, but I had to be ready to learn not to wish it away.

“Don’t waste the pain.”

Because I am fascinated by this concept of the soul’s true north, I am always on the look out for others who are in their dharma. I read somewhere that the people who survived the concentration camps during the holocaust were the ones with their life’s work waiting for them on the other side. The hope and  purpose of their dharma gave them the ability to survive because they couldn’t imagine dying without completing their soul work.

I know a few things about my dharma, though I’m always open to shifts and new information. The universe is ripe with hints and signs and teachers, but I have to be open to them first, and then I have to follow where they lead me. (Self doubt likes to come, too. But we’ll talk about him more later.) That means when I get a weird intuitive feeling, I don’t question it, I trust it, even if I don’t know the plan yet.

My dharma is to:

  • Share and Learn about Yoga
  • Be devoted to the path of recovery
  • Write
  • And perhaps one day be a wounded healer.The last one is the most abstract, but it also encompasses the other 3. I am supposed to use my pain to help others heal.  “Don’t waste the pain.” Just a phrase I heard recently and thought was worth repeating.  And like my favorite lady Glennon Melton says “All we have to do is tell the world, ‘I AM this thing!’ And the world believes us.”

When I am engaging with these gifts and using them to benefit my Self, others, and the universe, I am in a state of pure flow- energy and inspiration are directly flowing through me and I lose track of time- my spirit soars. Think of a time when you felt this way… If you’ve felt this way in the last 24 hours, chances are, you are dancing with your dharma. If you haven’t felt that way in years, the call of your soul may have become a distant voice, or gave up calling altogether.
No matter where we are or what we are doing, our dharma is with us. It’s in our DNA. We are either openly dialoging with it or we are hitting the ignore button. And I have done both, because I am a procrastinator, a professional flee artist, a woman who is so good at running away that I used to spend a great part of my life doing just that. Exercising like it was an exorcism of my demons, eating to numb the gnawing emotions and voices, drinking and drugging, dodging intimacy and hiding from the truth,  desperately searching for a way to avoid it ALL. The problem wasn’t booze, bingeing, crossfit, or drugs. The problem was ME. My relationship to myself. I had lost it. I had lost all ability to differentiate the true from the false. My bottom was the moment I decided to be honest, to quit digging the hole, and to reach up.
Honesty. It’s is a tough pill to swallow. It means I have to say yes to the whole story. That means not only acknowledging the stuff I’ve done and what’s been done to me, but also considering the fact that I am a  magnificent, divine, AMAZING creature with a sacred mission. We are meant to be co-creators with God. But we first have to consider that we are worthy enough of this soulful calling.
I try to hide, because coming out of my warm and comfortable shell of escape is painful. But you know what’s way worse? Seeing my favorite author publish a book that I would have liked to have written. Watching others use yoga as a way to teach self love, authenticity, freedom, and empowerment, when I’m too scared to do that.  Seeing friends in the recovery program give back in a way that I like to, but somehow convince myself I’m not ready or able to do. If you do not bring forth what is within, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

Seeing ANYONE in their dharma can be painful if I’m not doing my own. You can tell it by the sparkle in their eye, and my, is it attractive, but peculiarly aggravating.   My soul says “I WANT THAT!” That knot in my stomach which feels like envy but is really a neon sign saying YOUR DHARMA IS CALLING. PICK UP THE DAMN PHONE.

Let’s face it, if doing our dharma was an easy path with no peaks or valleys, we’d all be cruising along in the dharma lane, happy as clams, and the universe would be running smoothly, and the broken web of humanity would be mended. But if you are like me, fear plays a big role in the space between me and my true north, between me and my authentic expression of love, creativity, truth, and beauty. The adversaries, the four horsemen- terror, bewilderment, frustration, and despair come galloping in on one of the dark night’s of the soul, and like the headless horsemen from Sleepy Hollow, they stand before me and DARE me to pass. I should be more inclusive… They don’t just come on dark nights, they also swoop in on dim mornings and grey afternoons. Fear grabs ahold, no matter how far down the spiritual path I feel I have come, self doubt and evil and darkness are ever present realities, some moments threatening to swallow me whole. I reach an impasse: which way do I turn? Which wolf do I feed? Fear or love?
From a theological perspective, all the greats were tested. Mara, the Buddhist incarnation of self doubt came to visit Buddha the same night he became enlightened. Jesus was tempted by the devil when he fasted in the dessert. I could go on, but the point is, if you are faced with darkness, you have a choice. Go to the light, or focus on the shadows. Trust infinite God, or trust your fixed perception of reality, which is illusion. Next time self doubt crops up in my life, I will try to remember to smile and say, “Oh, hey MARA! How are you doing? Can I help you with anything today?” And then I will ask him to leave, politely of course.

Fear and faith cannot occupy the same space. We have the choice to watch the shadows dance, to believe the voice of fear, which really is an illusion, or to turn and face the light. The beauty of darkness and despair is that when we are really low, we finally ask for help. We reach out to a human being for connection, or we look up to the heavens and tell God our troubles. And all we need is a simple belief that God-consciousness is possible, that maybe the universe IS a benevolent, supportive place that wants our souls to soar, that we were made in that image, that all divinity and light that exists in the universe also exists within us, in individual expressions. That being human is really an amazing thing. That experiencing and entertaining our emotions, even our fears, leads to freedom. And that we can only keep the great gifts we’ve been endowed with if we share them with the world. Otherwise, they lay dormant, and I imagine they feel rather sad and abandoned, eventually destroying our connection to the soul.

If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.
And I am even more sure that dharma is real, that the universe wants us to see that we are children of God, with access to the field of infinite possibilities, but we have to be willing to plug in to Big Mind.

We have to be open to transformation, honest about our dharma, and willing to take action based on that. Get excited. And when dharma calls, don’t hit ignore.

Pick up the phone!
Simple. Not easy.

 

An Open Letter to Myself

Many of you know that I work the 12 Steps of Recovery. Part of this process that I bet you’ve heard about is the amends process. If you are not familiar, it requires me going to the people that I’ve harmed, admitting my wrong doing, and telling them how I plan to take actions to set things right. 

Humbling. 

As many humans before me have done, I am procrastinating on this step. It takes courage! And vulnerability! And willingness! And honesty! And damn it, I don’t always have all those things at once. 

But I have no excuses not to make an amends to myself. That’s not quite so scary- I found it actually quite the opposite. It’s cathartic, healing, affirming, and cleansing. It’s a promise from my highest self to my old self- all the outdated versions of me- and especially the little girl in me- to care for and protect and love her relentlessly. 

So here’s my letter to ME! 

Hello dear friend,

It’s me! Let me start by saying you are beautifully and wonderfully made. You are God’s precious daughter. You are also both child and mother, daughter and wife, teacher and student, giver and receiver. But God is not concerned with any of these identities- for they could change, they are not the true you. God is concerned with your soul, with your precious heart. God wants to purify and cleanse you and there is nothing you have done or will ever do that will change that perfect love for you. You have learned that the more you align yourself toward source, the more that conscious, awakened energy flows through you. 

That does not mean there won’t be darkness and demons, because there will. If not for the darkness, how could there be light? Some of these lessons will tie knots around your feet and you will stumble, but some, my dear, will be handled with that newfound grace and ease. You won’t get to choose, but you can certainly surrender to the flow. This will be fun! And it will be beautiful. In your stumbling, the world is perfected. 

Then there will be pain, suffering. The wound is where the light enters you. The pain is a gift- it fortified you before and it will again. It’s absolutely the touchstone of spiritual growth, but you will forget this nearly every time you are hurting. That’s ok. Come back to the light. Turn to face it, and God will take your pain and turn it into something beautiful. 

Life is your friend, your teacher. When you are ready, it will give you exactly what you need. The exact experience, encounter, book, or teacher that you need to evolve. Be open to possibility. Forget everything you think you know, and your sources of inspiration will get bigger. After all, every person is as important and valuable as the person you find most important and valuable. See yourself in your enemy. Know that when you are triggered by someone or something, that’s an invitation to look hard within yourself for what’s calling to be healed. 

When you ask, you shall receive. You live in a benevolent universe that deeply supports your healing. Trust that God has a brilliant path for you- and that your only task is to keep putting one foot gently in front of the other- keep doing the next right thing. 

When you are closed off, agitated, doubtful, or discontent, you are leading with your head, living in the illusion of control. Let go. Turn the reigns over so that you can be a part of life again. Lead with your heart. Trust. 

Invite in some mystery. Dance creatively with the gods. Believe in BIG MAGIC! And stay in that magic. Tap into source. The universe has buried jewels deep within you, and it is your life’s work to uncover them and then share them! Get to work, girl. Done is better than good. I know you once thought the only way to survive and be loved was to be perfect, but we know better now, don’t we? Just do the work, detach from the result. You’ll enjoy it so much more. 

Remember that your own healing, self compassion, self love, and desire to grow closer to God are the best gifts you can offer the world. It may not always feel that way- there will be internal whispers of guilt and selfishness, but that’s the part of you that is afraid to evolve. She’s just scared. Remind her that above all things, God wants you to heal and recover. What do I mean by recover? Return to your true nature. Back to the pure, innocent, joyful, blissful, boundless creation that you are. Neither inferior or superior to anyone. You are here to serve that part of you! Your sweet spirit, your sacred soul, your divine nature. You will stand at many turning points, so I ask that you trust that soft inner nudge in the direction of your soul. 

Let these cycles of birth and death come and go as easily as you can. Nothing is permanent. Try not to be too attached to any state of being, but forgive yourself if you do. It will get easier with practice. 

Do Not Be Afraid.

Remember. 

I love you and all of your pieces. 

Love,

Me.