fearless

This Isn't Right, I'm Not Right [Yet]

I am in tears as I sit here before the blank screen, trying to figure out how to say what I need to say.

This isn't right.

This. She of the Wild. This work.

It is good work, this I know. It is honest and needed and I believe in it. I will keep doing it for these reasons.

But it isn't quite right, not quite in alignment with The Thing that's inside me and wants to, needs to get out, be born, be in the world, be there for you if you choose it, if it chooses you.

And god, that is hard to admit, because I've worked so hard and so long and have tried to believe, have kept showing up, and for all that, for all my own personal soul-growth, it's still not right (dammit).

And then I realize -- it's not just She of the Wild that isn't yet fine-tuned. It's me, too. My life. My whole life.

For those of you who've been with my along the way, or part of it, you know that it's been a journey. I started a numb girl child in the body of a young woman, and through the initiation of an eating disorder and then the anguish and grieving of my daughter's stillbirth and then the necessary burning of my religiosity, I've grown. God, I've grown. I wouldn't have chosen that path if I'd been given a choice, but since I found my feet on that road, I'm grateful for what it's given me.

And to now come to this moment and realize that there is still so much work to be done, still so much growing? Well. It's frustrating. But mostly it's exhausting.

And I'm right in the thick of it. Or (oh god) maybe just the beginning. Regardless, I find myself in another dark night. And here I thought I was done with all that [insert dry divine laughter here].

The spiral of descent (or is it ascent? I can't even tell anymore) that I am currently winding around has to do, I think, with my own strength. How I've never really learned to stand on my own two feet in the world. How I don't believe I'm worth getting paid a living wage for whatever work I happen to be doing. How I never learned to be my own beloved, my own true love, my own twin flame/soul mate/best friend/truest companion.

I came to this realization yesterday. And, later in the day, still cradling this bleak epiphany tenderly, I happened to lock eyes with mySelf in a mirror, and nearly crumbled at the sensation of being met by my Self. Of being on my own side, perhaps for the first time ever. Of being happy, content, fulfilled alone.

I didn't think it was possible.

I didn't think I was capable.

But in that moment, I believed. In that moment, I met myself with love and power and it rocked me and changed my mind.

I don't know where this is going. I don't know what will become of me. And god knows I really don't fancy another descent into the dark night.

But I know that this is good work. I know this is needed. For She of the Wild, sure, but first mySelf.

Will you walk with me, will you wait with me?

What to Do When Positive Changes Freak You Out

There are positive changes for my family in sight on the horizon. A new opportunity, different housing, and (hopefully) an expanded sense of freedom in our day to day lives.

In a word, these changes are good.

But one night, as I was putting the baby down in his crib, it hit me all at once that with these good changes would come other shiftings, ones that weren't as much fun but were necessary.

OMG, I thought in a sudden panic, clutching the baby close in the night-dark room, we're going to have to change our health insurance.

I proceeded to then freak out (like, quietly, because near-sleeping baby).

But about a minute after that, after putting the baby down and slipping out of his bedroom, I started to giggle at myself.

Because a) a great new job opportunity certainly warranted enduring an change of insurance, and b) changing from one decent coverage plan to another is not exactly the end of the world. More annoying than anything else.

But my brain and/or that primitive, survival-oriented part of my being would have me believe that this shift was cataclysmic, that everything should stay exactly it is in order to avoid the change of insurance . . . even if current conditions are less ideal than the future conditions that come packaged with said change of insurance.

So, what to do when you're in the midst of a positive change in your life, like starting a great new job, or opening an art shop online, or trying to get pregnant, or joining a gym . . . and out of no where you find yourself freaking the hell out?

Consider trying the following:

Breathe . . . and don't do anything else. Don't rush to turn down that job offer, or cancel your gym membership. Just hold as steady as you can, and breathe deep. Like, a lot.

Consider what it is that you're actually worried about . . . or not worried about. Get out your journal and free-write, or go for a walk and ponder. Is it your animal brain worried about risks, even ones that seem like pretty sure things? Are you afraid of the success that may come from your positive life change?

Accept the uncomfortable. Change, even good, expected, celebrated change, can still be scary. Understand that it's not the wrong move if some discomfort is involved. In fact, that may actually be a sign that you're on the right track.

Be amused. As a friend of mine would say . . . be amused at the inner workings of your mind. Some of its mechanisms are great, and others are a little more rusty or complicated. If you know that this change is right for you at this time, breathe through it, attempt to understand it, accept its discomfort . . . and smile. It's going to be okay.

Have you ever had this happen -- where you're flying high on some fabulous new changes, only to be knocked sideways by unexpected anxiety or general "what the hell am I doing?" freakouts? How did you navigate it, either successfully or not? I invite you to share what you're thinking in the comments below. I'd love to know!

How to Transform Discomfort to Strength

“Even though February was the shortest month of the year, sometimes it seemed like the longest.” ― J.D. Robb

Well. It's February.

Each February, I find myself giving myself a pep talk about how Februaries aren't all that bad, really.

C'mon, I tell myself. It's not that bad. A little cold, sure, which has gotten quite old by this point. But it's a short month, and soon March will be here, and that will mean that it's practically spring.

And yet it kind of does feel that bad. Overly long, inspire of its dearth of days, dreary, and not all too warm (here in Montana, anyway). I'm ready for the sun warming my bared shoulders, for sandals and tank tops without any jackets, for naked feet pressing into the earth.

But

it's not that time of year for us [yet].

So I'm trying really hard to practice being in the here and now, no matter how much I may dislike it or long for spring or feel uncomfortable. (Doesn't putting it like that make such an endeavor seem so much easier than it actually is? In reality, this kind of works makes me feel like a rookie in the big leagues.)

But I've been having lots of opportunities for pressing into the uncomfortable. One of the biggest of which is my reason for being mostly absent online in the past couple of months -- I've been working on becoming a certified OULA (sassy dance fitness for body, mind, and soul) teacher. And now I am one! I just learned this weekend that I passed my audition and that I'm in. What a relief and a joy!

And what a journey. A good one, but not one without discomfort. First there was attending the training weekend (on no sleep, might I add, thanks to a puking toddler), and then teaching my first song there. Then I taught my first song in a real class, and then a few songs, and then a whole class all by myself. And even now that I'm certified, there are new challenges ahead -- getting insured, applying to be a sub at gyms, and bringing in students so I don't find myself in the red with space rentals, to name a few.

I take in a lot (a lot) of articles/podcasts/videos/blog posts on being an online entrepreneur, and read a lot of inspiring success stories. But something that I feel too many of these stories gloss over is the discomfort involved -- the discomfort of trying, of failing, and even of succeeding.

Every positive opportunity comes with its shadow side of discomfort, of nervousness, maybe even of fear and anxiety. This is true for me, and I'm guessing I'm not the only one. So if you've been dismayed or surprised by the difficulties that come with even the good things in your life, you're not alone.

Press into the discomfort, don't walk away from the good in order to avoid the discomfort. By sticking with it, by facing at what's hard while celebrating what's great, you will eventually transmute that uncomfortable aspect into strength.

What kind of strength? It depends on what the opportunity in question is. For me, in pressing forward through my OULA training instead of fleeing when it got hard or [really damn] scary, I gained courage to perform in front of an audience. I discovered that it's not too late for me to be a dancer. And -- perhaps best of all -- I've regained a great deal of vocal power by pressing into the challenge of singing, shouting, and generally making a ruckus while teaching a class.

So if you're walking through a door into a spacious new opportunity only to be knocked sideways by an unexpected challenge, discomfort, or difficulty, stop and take a breath, then look that sucker in the eye. What strength or gain is standing beyond it, just for you? Is it worth it to press through that mucky part to stand in the sun? If so, keep going. Endure. Screw up your courage. Be gentle with yourself. And most importantly, do that hard-but-leading-to-awesomeness thing. I don't think you'll regret it.

p.s. If you need a little support, perhaps my mini e-course, Your Fearless Year 2016, might be of some help? Get it for just $10 USD with discount code BEFEARLESS16.

I Believe in the Night {On Decembers}


There's something about December.

I've long resisted it.  The depth of night . . . the buzzing of the holidays . . . the overabundance of delicious and bad-for-you things in all the places. 

I used to say that this was my least favorite time of the year.  And that was before my baby was stillborn days before Thanksgiving.

But this year feels different.

Maybe it's that I'm resting with the hibernating earth, staying away from the manic hustle and bustle of holiday to-do lists and presents and unnecessary obligations.  Maybe it's that I'm doing the holidays my way, perhaps for the first time, and choosing only what is nourishing and enlightening for my spirit.  I feel like I'm wrapped up in a cloak of star-marked night, breathing in time with the bears sleeping winter away in their mountain dens.

Maybe it's that I'm pregnant -- a time that always makes me feel more visceral, more embodied, more sexy and sacred.  Maybe it's my body waxing around the seed of life in the darkness within that makes me appreciate this time of thick, cold night.

Or maybe it's that it's my fearless year (just for a little while longer now), and I'm reaping the benefits of challenging myself to find treasures in winter's darkness. That I'm learning to not run from the dark, but slowly turn my face toward it and invite it in for tea.

This year is different.


I hope next year is different in the same kind of way, too, more and more different-in-a-needed-way, as I learn to trust this soul of mine, and the feeling coursing through my marrow. 

I hope I never forget to honor these long, dark nights. 

I believe in the night, when dreams run free across the stilled landscape.  When the moon wanes and waxes and wanes above, her eternal dance that tells us so much about ourselves.  When the stars play behind the wandering clouds, and all the earth is a question.  When I teach myself again and again, and sometimes learn, to surrender to myself, to this body, to rest.  When slumber makes us children again for a time, trusting in what is, if only for this night.

I nestle into December's darkness and try to heed the quiet throb of my own heart's pace.

"You, darkness, of whom I am born–
I love you more that the flame
that limits the world
to the circle it illuminates
and excludes all the rest.
But the dark embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations–just as they are.
It let’s me imagine
a great presence stirring beside me.
I believe in the night."
- Rainer Maria Rilke, from Rilke's Book of Hours*

Your turn: how is your December different this year?  Is it a welcome kind of different, or something less desirable?  How would you like it to be different next year?  Let your thoughts wander over how you can make December 2015 a good-different for yourself.


*affiliate link

My Fearless Year: Farewell, For Now


Well, my dear Fearless year, we've had quite the time, haven't we?  We crashed into 2014 together, intent on growth and success and soul-knowing.  And we did it.  We grew.  We saw some successes (and some failures).  And today, I know my soul far better than I did at this time last year.

It's been quite the year.

I wrote a book.  And published it.  And then wrote most of another book.  And a book of poetry (coming soon, I hope). 
I did a lot of things to my hair, intent on discovering what is most me-ish.
I pierced my nose, after much dreaming, and made plans for future tattoos.
I made art.
I made love.  I enjoyed my first orgasm.  And then a bunch more after that.
I fought for my marriage.
I fought for my soul, reclaiming it for myself from all those darn shoulds.
I fought depression
I released.
I said hello, hugged beloved kindreds.
I said goodbye.  And it hurt.  A lot.  Especially when my farewell went unnoticed. 
I traveled (twice!!).
I went down a scary water slide . . . and liked it.
I said no.  And yes.
I explored.  I found a cave.  I found my self.
I thrashed.
I burned
I howled at the moon.
I said hard things.  I said nothing.
I made mistakes.  A lot of them.
I cursed more.  I listened harder.  I tried to love better.
I wore real lipstick for the first time, and loved it.
I charged forward, and stepped back. 
I rested.
I healed.
I danced wild. 
I (with some help) gave a new person life within me.
I whispered "I love you" an extravagant amount of times into my beloveds ears.
I was afraid.  I did it anyway.  And sometimes I didn't.

Quite the year.  I've never lived a year so full, I think.  Not ever. 

What I've loved about my Fearless year is how I went after it, sometimes aggressively, went after the life I longed for, the self that I wanted to be, the way that I wanted to walk in the world.  I went for it.  And what I found difficult about my Fearless year in hindsight, is, um, that selfsame aggression.  Sometimes I went too hard (and sometimes not hard enough).  I was not always the most nuanced in my awakening.  I stepped on toes, quite a few of them.  For that I am sorry.

But

I also pulled my own toes out from a number of different heels, of things that snagged my soul and kept my knotted up and small.  So, for all my mistakes and stumblings, it was worth it.  I look back at my Fearless year and am satisfied.  Because I went for it.  And that is, if not everything, then a lot.

Thank you, my Fearless year.  You taught me a lot about how I want to be, and how I don't want to be, and who I'd like to walk with, and where.  You taught me that fearlessness is not a state of walking without fear, but a state of being fearful but daring to walk anyway.  You taught me about the nature of courage, and how sometimes it is loud and sometimes it is soft, and sometimes it can look a lot like sleeping, which was unexpected.

I felt so young this year, my Fearless year, so full of life.  And then sometimes I felt excruciatingly old.  That was harder, but you had lessons for me there, too.  You taught me more in the art of turning the everyday into magic that is no less sparkling for its mundanity.

You taught me to be me, and you taught me well, I think.  And now it is time to say goodbye, my Fearless year, to release and renew and rediscover.  I'm sure I will meet you again one day, and perhaps even one day soon.  But for now, we part.

Thank you and thank you and thank you, my Fearless year.  I will never be the same, and I will never stop being grateful for that.










 





We are Made For Changing

one of my poetry holiday ornaments -- find them all here, with new ones like this going up soon

I really don't know what brought it on.  Maybe it was the early morning dark, or the fact that I was still bleary from recent sleep.

But all of a sudden, it dawned in the dawning hour -- the next shifting.

Don't you know, we all shift in small ways and large throughout the day, month, year, and all years together?  Or we should (and not that icky, "do more, do better, rush rush rush" kind of should -- I mean the slow and nourishing and natural kind).

We are made for changing, not for staying the same.  Look out the door, the window.  See how the earth makes way for roots and greenery, how the trees blossom then turn skeletal, how the sun and stars and moon turn and turn, always turning.  Watch the snake shed her skin, the woman shed her bloody monthly lining, the child shed his baby teeth.

We are, all of us, made for changing, growing, shifting.

This morning, my next one came.  Or arrived.  Or began.

I had begun to think that it wouldn't.  That I was trapped in this sameness, and while it's not a bad place to be, you may have heard that we're made for changing.

Then, there it was, blooming wide in my heart and mind: I don't want to live that way any longer.  I can't. I have decided that I won't.

And that was it.  An end, a beginning, and the start of a new middle-ish place.  I can't say where this will bring me, only that I am glad.  Because I am made for changing.

I wrote it down so I wouldn't forget it:


A declaration?  An anthem?  Maybe.  A fitting way for starting to bring my fearless year to a close?  Absolutely.

I've been wanting this for a while.  But I wasn't brave enough, wasn't quite ready.  I was too afraid of what -- who -- I might lose.  Until I saw that I lose those things, those people, anyway, because I guess people can sense when you're not being all of you, or that maybe you really weren't meant for each other anyway, not in this here and now, at least.

This time, I'm ready, I think (I hope).  I feel like I can't afford not to be.  We are made for changing, you know.

I can't, I won't keep asking permission for the things no other person has the power to permit or deny.  I refuse to keep asking if I'm allowed to be who I am, because I am.  You are.  It's allowed.  It's necessary. 

Just like that, the inner walls of stasis and stagnation begin to crumble.

Because we are made for changing and changing and changing, becoming ever more of who we truly are at the core.


Your turn: what are you asking permission for that perhaps you don't need to be?  What's one think you'd like to try on in order to become more fully and authentically you?

When Forwards Feels Backwards {On Depression, Pregnancy, & Other Things}


This summer was hard.  Hard.

It shouldn't have been.  Everything lined up.  My son was napping regularly and sleeping well, not to mention continuing to exponentially grow in cuteness daily.  I had time for creating -- lots of time, in fact.  I traveled -- alone! -- to a writing retreat and got to meet some of my dearest kindreds.  The weather wasn't too oppressively hot, much to my relief.  I was in good physical shape, doing dance workouts that fed my soul as well as tended my body.

It should have been a glorious summer.

But it wasn't.  It was hard.  Damn hard.

* * *

In June, I stopped taking my depression medication (under medical supervision).  At first, everything was okay.  Great, even.  But then my eyes started leaking all. the. time.  And then I got tired.  Really tired.  And soon after that, the iconic what's-the-point's set in.

And the summer that should have, could have been wonderful felt like a forced march with no known destination. 

Most of all, creating was hard.  Sitting down to write or paint felt like an exercise in self-hatred.  It got to the point where I had to either step away or risk losing my love for these outlets entirely -- not to mention launching myself deeper into depression, and possibly back into eating disorder land.  This has happened before, and it's not an ordeal I care to repeat.

So I did.  I pulled back.  I spent more time at home, focused on snuggling my sweet son, and waited for fall.  Because surely the cool spice-scented air of fall would bring the refreshment and soul-growing it always seems to.



But it didn't.  And then I became pregnant.  It was (is) a planned and wanted pregnancy, but oh those first trimester hormones had me reeling more than I already was.

Now, though . . . now, I slowly feel myself coming back to my self.  There's something about pregnancy that, as the second trimester draws near, protects me from depression.  It's happened in my two previous pregnancies and, thankfully, seems to be happening again.  I'm finding some words, finding some energy, some much longed for want to.  And that is very good.

* * *

But.

I look at this year that I called my fearless year, of all things, and only about one third of it so far feels fearless.  The first part of the year, I pushed every envelope I could get my hands on, challenged myself and my thinking, tried on new practices and ditched old ones, and set so many things alight in the renewing fires of needed destruction.

This summer, though?  I existed. And maybe, when depression comes back on the scene, maybe that's enough.  Maybe that's fearless.

But what it feels like is backwards movement.  Like I lost all the ground I'd taken.  Even writing these words, a thing that used to feel fluid and effortless, feels odd, awkward.


For the last year or so, I felt like I was in the midst of a battalion of lioness women charging up a mountain toward its pinnacle of freedom and authenticity and love and enough.  And now, it seems like all of those women are [awesomely!] continuing onward and upward, while I'm trying to extricate myself from a mud hole somewhere around halfway -- or worse, slipping back down in slide of scree.

And it's scary.  I wonder if I'll ever reach that peak.

* * *

But then I wonder -- maybe it's not about reaching the peak.  Maybe this isn't the peak that I'm supposed to be sweating and loving myself toward.

Maybe I'm supposed to be climbing another mountain entirely.

* * *


It's a funny thing about pregnancy -- that while it is a very real and literal growing, there's also an internal stripping away.  

It was most stark and obvious in my first pregnancy, which ended in an excruciating and incredible life-altering stillbirth, but happened with my second, too.  I came home with a beautiful baby boy tucked against my breast -- and a sense of my soul tearing away from itself and morphing into something new.

I already feel it happening this time around, and this time instead of being scared of it or flailing against it, I am trying to allow.  

Because maybe at the end of this pregnancy, I'll know if indie-publishing-mama truly is the present incarnation of my soul goals, or if I should be looking at some other work.  Maybe I'll have a clearer picture of who I am, and how I want to be that glorious woman.

Maybe I'll find the mountain I'm meant to climb.

* * *

That doesn't mean that depression will never rear it's ugly head again, of course.  But I've learned (the harder way) that I need medication to help me fight this very real disease, and that that's okay.  That my life, my mothering, my creativity, my courage, my everything are better when I'm getting the help I need.  

There is no shame in this.  I already knew that, but I was stubborn, didn't want to rely on what might be a crutch.  

But when you have a broken leg, you need a crutch.  And sometimes, when you have depression, you need medicine.


And while part of me hopes that when I start taking my medication again sometime after this pregnancy ends I will find myself back among the lionesses, growling and purring and climbing together, I have a suspicion that I very well might not.  That this part of my journey is perhaps more intimate, more solitary.

* * *

There's no good way to end this post, of course.  I'm still here, twelve weeks pregnant, incubating both this child's new life and my own, wondering.  I am wiggling my toes in the mud and keeping my eyes open for the next signpost to show itself to me on this odd and winding path.




It's a little early to be thinking holiday shopping, but holiday shipping is not to be toyed with, so make sure you order your Epiphany Art Studio holiday gifts by the end of November to guarantee delivery by Christmas!  Check out these yummy one-of-a-kind handmade poetry ornaments.  And don't forget my fabulous art originals, fine art prints, and the sale section! I'm also still offering signed copies of my sassy love story for people who don't like love stories, The Light Between Us.