An Interesting Benchmark

When I was an undergraduate student, I watched “Sex & The City” on a perpetual loop.  No matter what I was reading or writing, no matter who was visiting my dorm room or apartment, those DVDs were on repeat.  I, of course, had my favorite seasons (2 and 3) and my favorite episodes (“Are We Sluts?” to name but one).  When the seasons premiered, we had parties.  Friends would bring NYC-themed foods, like hot pretzels, and we’d hang on every scene.  When the series ended, we gathered at M.’s apartment (she was the only one with HBO that year!) and gasped as Carrie’s pink-crystaled phone lit up “John.”  We were early 20-something girls watching these 30-something women tear through the city that lay just 45 minutes away from my childhood home and from my college home, just from different directions.  We all identified with different characters, with at least a little bit of Carrie in each of us.  No one wanted to be Miranda.  Radical honesty: we grew up to be Mirandas.  And I’m totally good with that.  While we’re on the subject, do not be surprised that I was never a Charlotte.

Mid-December this past year, I started re-watching the episodes that were the backdrop to my college years.  At bedtime (because I have to have the television on to fall asleep), I flick on Amazon Prime and, starting at season one (the awkward season in my opinion), I’ve been falling asleep to my past.  Through an entirely different lens, nearly 2 decades later (yes, that kind of time has passed), I marvel at my different take on the relationships.  Where I once thought Mr. Big was cold, I now see Carrie as narrow-sighted.  Where I once thought Steve was kinda icky, I now see his charm.  Fear not, I still think Charlotte is… I’ll just say lost, to keep it nice and keep it moving.

As I cooked this morning, I streamed the season 2 premiere of “Divorce.”  As it loaded on my I-pad, I couldn’t help but wonder (see what I did there?) when I rolled from “SATC” to “Divorce.”  Talk about SJP speaking to me.  Fear not, all is well in the Land of the Bunnies.  I just mean, this is the stage at which we’ve arrived.  I am the “Divorce” audience.  Frances is a 40-something to my 30-something, like Carrie was a 30-something to my 20-something.  What an interesting benchmark as we grow, evolve, stretch and learn.  Much love.

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I Don’t Know What to Say

I write these stories to you best when I don’t think about you.  When I think about you, I think about what you want to read about.  Then, I get all judgy with myself that you won’t want to read about the things I’m inclined to write about.  Are you here for the Reiki and spiritual tales, so you click away from the Rescue stories?  Are you a bunny person, but the spiritual stuff turns you off?  It’s a quick mind-spin and I almost don’t get my fingers on the keys when that “stuff” is the stuff swirling through my brain.

That’s judgment.  And projection.  That’s self-sabotage.  Consciously, those aren’t choices I would make.  When I stop, breathe and think, I want to write what I’m thinking or feeling in the moment.  Maybe if it’s not for you, it could be for you or you or even you.  But it’s always for me.  Writing this is part of my personal development, walking the walk of what I teach, putting in the work on me.

Our brains click into this judgment mode as a form of protection.  If you believe in science, our brains have evolved to keep us safe.  We judge the stimulus around us based on past experiences, past hurts.  Go to the old “hand on the hot stove” adage—we learn not to touch it again because we remember getting burned.  Some of us love to keep our hands pressed firmly on the hot stove, even after multiple burns… but that’s a topic for another day.

I sat down today and I didn’t know what to say to you.  What if you don’t like it?  I have to figure out where that all comes from… and I have just the tool to help me get started… Much Love.

JD

Balance

I’m always Even Stephen (your inclination might be to spell Stephen with a V here but I must pay appropriate homage to my uncle/best friend/birthday buddy and remain PH balanced).  There’s something magical in balance of things.  Maybe it’s because I was raised by a Libra; my mother is the one always making sure everyone else is happy and their needs are met.  When you ask her where she wants to go to dinner on her birthday, she’ll invariably say, “Wherever you want to go.”  It’s not that she doesn’t care for herself—she just likes harmony and draws on her roots as the oldest of four children when she lets others make the decisions.  It’s not indecisiveness nor is it laziness—it’s preservation of peace and balance.  But enough about her.

We all joked and prayed that 2017 would bring us out of the hardships of 2016 (and yes, I know that a slew of celebrities dying isn’t quite a hardship compared to some of the actual tough stuff that this human experience can bring but ssshhhhh, I’m writing here).  2017 was like 2016+… or +++ for some people.  But, to paraphrase Mama Ru, a butterfly doesn’t know what’s happening in that cocoon.  Just a happy little caterpillar spins this intense cocoon and the metamorphosis is violent!  Then, out flaps this gorgeous creature that we marvel at… heck, I have 4 butterflies tattooed on me.  So here’s to hoping that 2016 and 2017 were our cocoon years and we bust out with pretty wings, using our feet to taste in 2018.

Whenever the transition is complete, we can’t forget the tough stuff.  That’s the necessity in the balance.  We are all energy, sitting or standing or lying on energy, holding energy, surrounded by energy.  That energy changes form and function but it doesn’t go away.  It finds its balance.  So if you’re feeling lonely, empty, too full, pulled in too many directions or even directionless, sit, breathe and allow the balance to rush in.  Surrender to the energy.  Do the next right thing without grabbing for 5 steps in the future or being tethered to a perceived misstep in the past.  It may take longer than you want or expect and it will often take a different form that you want or expect, but the balance will come.  Allow the peace to fill your heart, your soul and your space today as we transition into another glorious year.  Much love.

Missing Piece

I am no longer allowing this missing piece translate to missing peace.  I am telling a new story.  You are the first to hear about it.  Grateful to you for “listening” today.

I’ve been holding back from truly stepping into a component of this work and of my personal development because there is a piece to my story that I’m not ready or maybe not willing to tell.  I struggle with the idea of telling my story without telling that story.  Can I be authentic and leave out a big piece?  My answer to that was no.  I’ve held back so much because I didn’t think I could share my light fully without sharing that piece.  And I do not want to share that piece.  I’m not going to share that piece.  There’s no secret link embedded here.  I’m not going to do a big reveal at the end of this entry.  These types of thoughts and the struggle arriving here has robbed me of some peace and have stunted my healing.  Thus, I’ve felt stunted in sharing healing.  It’s cyclical.

As I sat down to write to you today (or do I write this to me and you just peek over my shoulder?) I opened to a page in my notes from the Spirit Junkie Master Class that I attended last June.  On that pink page I wrote, “Be not afraid— be empowered.”  Gabrielle taught us how our inner guides are begging use to release our resistance.  I’m sure hearing that six months ago, I interpreted that as a call to reveal my missing piece.  Now, I see it as permission to release the expectation of telling it all, the expectation of being as transparent as many others seem to be.  Gabrielle taught us to step into the darkness so we can dive into the light.  I am.  I am finding my peace privately.  I can do that and still share healing publicly.  Today I give myself that permission.

Gabrielle imparted on us, her Spirit Junkie disciples, that we look at our stories from a place of power.  My missing piece deals a lot with shame and guilt.  I will find the power.  You all help to lift me up.  Forever grateful.  Big stuff coming… Much love.

Retreat Yourself

In late June 2014, I wrote a note in my phone of three simple “I am” statements to set the tone for my summer.  Pushing aside the millions of things to get done and ways to make two months off from the day job count, I set these “I am” statements at the core of my desires for that time.  At the heart of all of the “stuff” I had to do and wanted to do that summer, my true intentions were in these “I am” statements.  I typed:

I am

-reading.

-practicing yoga.

-mindful.

I didn’t even know what mindful meant or why I typed it— it just appeared there on the screen.  I am mindful… ok.  Let that sit.

I found a yoga studio near to where we were living.  I signed up for a month unlimited and then another month unlimited.  I took classes 3-5 times per week for the entire summer.  I am practicing yoga…  finally.  For months before that, I was thinking about it.  And I was telling myself that I “should” be practicing yoga.  But I never seemed to quite get around to it.  I let everything else jump the line and take up my precious time.  All it took was setting that clear intention: I am practicing yoga.  Like magic, I was.

I found two teachers whose style and energy matched what I was seeking in my practice and made darn sure to show up at their classes.  I dove all in, as I’m prone to do.  One of those teachers offered free guided meditation after classes, as the schedule allowed.  I stayed.  She shared about her practices, her studies through UMass. Medical School in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and her “real life” applications of these simple-yet-complex practices.  She had something here.  I hung on every word.

A friendship blossomed.  At the time, I hadn’t consciously revisited my note in my phone with my summer intentions, my “I am” statements.  But I was learning about mindfulness, that word I typed without knowing why.  My new mediation coach and friend recommended books that she was reading.  We started to hang out.  We shared this glorious spark of brilliance.  I knew I found a soul sister in Debbie.  Toward the end of August 2014, while rolling up my yoga mat after one of Debbie’s last yoga classes for the summer, I opened the notes in my phone… and there it was: I am mindful.  I manifested a practice, a coach and a friend with three words.  Don’t question the process.  Be open to being guided.  Set the intentions that are in your heart and take the action steps as they unfold.

This past Thursday, I had the honor of sitting at a full-day retreat of over 100 educators led by my soul sister Debbie and her colleague in mindfulness Cory.  They led us through the practices and applications of this life-saving, life-expanding gift called Mindfulness.  They are the real-deal.  I, who often cannot exhale without checking my phone 17 times, did not even check the time from 7:30 am until 4:35 pm.  That’s the magic that Debbie and Cory shared.

We learned about our relationship to stress, how to be with what is here, how to develop our mental fitness… I could go on and on.  I took 17 pages of notes.  But, if I can share only one take-away with you, it is this: replace resistance with curiosity.  Approach your day with an element of awe and wonder.

Debbie, I bow to you.  I am mindful.

Autopilot

I don’t know if there’s a name for it… that experience where you’re driving but your mind is completely somewhere else and you kind of shake your head and snap back to the present moment, having virtually no recollection of getting where you are, like that total autopilot moment… that’s August for me, every year.  I just realized it last night, as we got into bed and I shook my head fiercely and thought, “Holy stuff, it’s almost over.”   This is my brain on August, autopilot, struggling to get back to the present.

My mindfulness practices are inconsistent—but that’s why they call it a practice and not a perfect, right?  I am routinized and committed to many things so it’s not like I can’t; I just haven’t yet.  But I will.  The struggles are thematic (and I almost blush at calling them struggles because it’s really not so bad in the grand scheme of this whirling world).  I hit speed bumps and roadblocks at similar places and phases, the same way, I imagine, a serial dieter does.  I am aware of my patterns and my inclinations.  I’m here, trying to balance acceptance and growth.

Again, it’s a practice.  I’m finally at a place where I don’t feel like my vacations are too short (those of you who don’t get the number of weeks off that I do can continue cursing at me now—I can’t hear you anyway).  I don’t feel like the days or my life is racing by because I am paying attention on purpose, with purpose.  I’m making it count AND giving myself a giant break that I denied myself in the past.  I’m consciously shutting down the August Autopilot now.  So today, or even just for the next hour, give the autopilot a rest.  Let it recharge—after all, we need it in its highest working order in times of necessity—and be present with yourself.  Take it all in.  Accept your patterns, your habits, your predilections and grow through the elements that could use change.  Be here now.  Much love.

 

Perspective

You’ve heard it or read it a thousand times before… “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” -Dr. W. Dyer

That concept has swirled around me the past few days.  (Look at Summer Denise, writing on a Tuesday instead of Sunday… scandalous!).  I’m getting more and more comfortable with change, especially the changes that I didn’t necessarily invite into my life.  I’m shifting my perspective with an intention to see the value in the change for myself and for those with whom I share love.  I’ve always been the type to take words and promises very literally, particularly because I keep my own without question.  Not everyone is like that.  I’ve always assumed their breaking their word, and subsequently our trust, was purposeful.  I’m working to change the way I look at that.  I’m working, because this is wholly MY ISSUE, to see that everyone’s definition of loyalty and friendship is different.  And that’s cool.  Acceptance.

When I go to yoga classes, I rotate where I roll out my mat.  I used to be the type to want the same spot (middle row, side of the room) for every class.  When I switched studios two summers ago, I decided to change that habit.  Now I never get stuck in a rut, as I’m consciously shifting my perspective.  I’m able to be more present because the change in physical space keeps my brain more engaged.  I don’t shift into autopilot, then careen off to what I have to do after class “monkey mind” as easily.  I change the way I look at things every time I step into the studio.  Try it.

It’s not easy to move your spot, to say no, or to walk away from certain people, places or things.  Whether it be habit, pattern or sense of obligation, we sometimes find ourselves going places we don’t want to go, getting into conversations that feel “wrong,” or surrounded by elements that make us feel stifled, fake, even in pain.  Honor yourself.  Walk away.  Drift away.  Run away.  Whatever pace suites you.  I promise, I’m living proof, that when you surround yourself with the people, places and things that match your level, frequency, and power, your happiness, soul and success will soar.

Flip it on its head today.  Change that perspective.  Shed the confines of relationships and situations that no longer serve your highest good.  Hop into something that feels better, that feels right.  Then watch the miracles fly.  Much love.