Rest, Listen, Act, Repeat.

By the time I was 33, my adrenals had crashed. The "why" of that is a long story, but long story short, I had been kicking my own ass, striving, and thinking that I wasn't enough for my entire life. Especially since the age of 19, when I birthed a daughter but wasn't ready, by society's standards, to raise her, and then I went to work ensuring that, by God, I would be enough and worthy of a child one day. Add to that - worthy of a child, money, husband, love, career, etc, etc, etc.

I didn't know my own worth then. And so I worked my ass off to try to attain and to prove it. My body was sending me warning flares but I didn't stop until I crashed.

This post is about the over-extension of ourselves as we're trying to prove something. So many are in this trap. No matter how far we've come, we can still find ourselves in this trap - the trap of not enough.

Trauma exacerbates this habit of perpetual action-taking in many cases. We experience something, and we run like hell from ever experiencing it again. Who feels me on this one? Get honest with yourself.

You take action upon action to stay afloat, to keep from feeling the shame of not succeeding, to finally "get to" where it is you imagine you must get to in order to feel you've made it.

You just keep taking action. It is wearing you the fuck out. You know it is not sustainable and your body is giving you clues, and yet, you power through. Why? It's time to get really honest with the "why."

I realized what I was doing, in part, when I crashed. I simply could not GO any longer. Coffee started to have a completely adverse affect, and instead of being a crutch, it became a hinderance (because my endocrine system could not handle the additional cortisol). I simply could not metabolize stress anymore. My body wasn't having it.

At that time, I also started to recognize that I had been completely out of touch with what is innately feminine inside of me. This action-orientation that I had been living in, the career ladders I had been climbing, the mindset of success - all of it aligned with more masculine characteristics than feminine ones. My feminine told me to pay attention to my intuition, to rest, to incubate, to follow my heart. I had NO IDEA what to do with this at first, and had to allow it to evolve in me.

It was not without difficulty. I was a school principal and I would close the door, sometimes multiple times a day, and lay on my back with my feet in the air like the ayurvedic doctor had encouraged me to do. My anxiety was through the roof. Crowds were making me panic. My body was freaking the fuck out, begging me for integration.

And then I spent a period of time heavily tilted toward inaction and rest. Part of me (bless that evolving part of me) thought that to regain my "feminine" meant to sway heavily to the side of inaction and spirituality. The pendulum had to swing for me until I could find my center. The balance of action & rest. We call in the guidance, and then we act on it. If we act without the guidance - well, we could crash.

Culturally, collectively, we have been in action-mode. We have been heavily in the masculine energy of forward motion. Rebalancing our lives involves a reintegration of the feminine into our consciousness - body, mind, soul.

We find her when we begin to honor cycles. Men, you need her as well. We find her when we listen to the voice that says "slow down." We honor her when we listen to her wisdom as she shares it.

Action steps in my life now are divinely directed. Rest and periods of integration are essential. This is no longer because my nervous system can't handle it (thankfully there has been much healing and bolstering of reserves) but because it is the ONLY way I know to trust my next steps.

Action & rest. Masculine & feminine. I love them both. I need them both. I AM them both.

I hope this serves you. If you are interested in creating more divinely-aligned action in your life, I am here to support you now. I support your own growth and goals through a mindful and soul-based approach to coaching. I work in a very personalized way. We target your goals, but we do it by incorporating rest so that you can access your own divine wisdom. This is intuitive, real, loving, and we don't fuck around. You can be beautifully fierce and action oriented AND nourished and restful. You can achieve balance, and nothing feels more "successful" or whole than that. Contact me for a conversation about any of the above.

In love, 
s

Aligned action.png

Ask me.

I found this little gem I'd written July of 2017 when a friend commented on another website of mine (Patreon). I'm moving it over here to be seen in the light of day. 

...

Ask me what it was like, to clean the birth off of her and then have the nine pound weight of her body leave my hands thirty six hours later.

Ask me, ask me what it took to suppress that ocean of loss for moments, months, and years after.

Ask me. Ask me what fills the void left by the absence of a daughter. Ask me all the things you'd try if it happened to you.

Ask me what I know now. Ask me what it means when your body recoils in the presence of a man. Ask me how I had to claw and be held, sometimes simultaneously, to unearth that knowing from my soma.

Ask me how most everyone is living in a sorry combination of fear and placation, and how I know my tribe when a person has the courage to sit with a story of loss.

Ask me how my mind, body, and emotions were not permitted to be my own and the story of my own reclamation. The story of learning to listen to the whisper of deep soul.

Ask me, because I'm ready to share. A story of body, of shame, of healing, rising, motherhood, sex, and love.

#MeToo, and I'm deciding to love men anyway.

I am a woman.

I can say #metoo.

And I love men. I am actively choosing to love men.

I am survivor.

I am ex-wife.

I am the hated daughter.

I know sexual harassment. I know sexual abuse.

I have been physically assaulted by male students.

I have been lied to and cheated on by some men that I have allowed into the space of my soul.

I have been the woman on the side.

I have been talked over, mistreated, and isolated by men.

I have been rejected and outcast.

I have experienced trauma at the hands of men that I've spent years, and lifetimes, unraveling.

And I am deciding to love men anyway.

Because:

I have also healed in the hands of good men.

I have seen my own reflection in those men that could hold a clear mirror, and I am a better woman for it.

I have grown from my forgiveness of men and the liberation is sweeter than any resentment.

I have held men as they've cried and healed together as we've made love.

I have brought wounded men back to life again.

I have seen the shattered and silenced inside of the male heart, a story so rarely given voice.

I have seen the depth of the potential between two beings in sacred union and I value the masculine's place in that. I crave it and call to us that we all might know it.

I have been raising young men my entire adult life, I have seen and heard them cry at the pressure of being male, and they are half of our human population.

I have sat with male-born teenagers who wanted to escape being a man and change their sex for what it meant to them to conform to common notions of masculinity.

I am the mother of a son.

#metoo

And I'm going to decide to actively love men. And I will decide it as many times as it takes.

I'm going to own what's mine, and ask that you do the same.

I am going to embrace both the masculine and the feminine inside of me.

I am going to watch where I point my fingers.

I have been hurt at the hands of men, and I can see in every instance that it was because of the wounds of men that they actively or unwittingly hurt me.

I choose compassion. I choose love. I actively choose not to feed or fuel more aggression or opposition.

I am deciding to believe in men. And I am deciding to believe in women.

No more opposition now.

♥️

S Shoemaker Spring '18-38.jpg

Arrival.

At the turn of the year, I treated myself to an astrology reading, and in it, I asked her about the timeline of the year. It was to be, for sure, a year of transition. But when we were talking about how Embodied Breath was truly me living out my life purpose, I walked out of that appointment, and I said, “Now Please. Not in one year. Now.”

Do you have those goals you'd like to see happen... some day? What about NOW? 

And then, voila. Transition was delivered at an accelerated rate between January and March. (Did you know you could have that kind of influence?) 

I thought I’d stay and transition slowly out of my day job, but it happened quickly. 

I thought I’d be growing in my love relationship, but that ended too. 

It. Was. Hard. To say the least. And it was purposeful.

There I was, being given full blown permission to step into Embodied Breath, but I had some healing to do. 

I dug in. I don't think that I'd ever been through such a transition before. Sure, I'd changed jobs, but this move involved me doing more SOUL work than I had done before in three months time. 

Three months!?

That's how long I work with my clients! Oh now I see how truly powerful that amount of time can be! 

I don’t recognize myself from three months ago in so many ways. Who was that woman compromising all over the place? Who was that woman who was too tolerant, too sacrificing, overly hopeful in relationship? Who was that woman who was afraid to leap? Who was that woman that was still on some level, after 36 years of learning this lesson, afraid to use her voice for what she might lose?

Honoring every part of the process is so important to me. In fact, it is one of the major premises of my coaching. How is what we’re going through actually creating an opportunity for us? There is ALWAYS an opportunity.

Like I said, I took the opportunity. I took it deep into my soul, and I am changed for it.

What do you think you could accomplish in three months? I've seen my clients change their resiliency, how they show up at work, how they feel about their own abilities, their ability to speak up for themselves, their ability to LOVE themselves, their ability to BELIEVE in themselves, and the list goes on. 

You can experience a major life transition, and come through it a changed person, in three months. I just lived it. (Hey, thanks Universe for the experiential understanding!)

But you HAVE TO decide to say a big YES to getting as much out of life as you're meant to have. You HAVE TO be ready to choose you. 

And choosing you is hard. When we're parents, when we're hardworking, when there's not a lot of money in the bank - how are we supposed to choose to invest in ourselves?? I'll tell you how. When you decide that you want to put yourself on a different path altogether, you have to choose you. I mean that in the healthiest of ways. You have to say YES to what YOU desire. All this pleasing everyone else is not going to allow you to arrive where you want to be.  

Here's the honest truth. I wanted this. All last fall, I drove to work wondering when would be the perfect time to finally take the leap full time to my own work. I was enthusiastic about working with the people, but again, the paperwork and the focus on the things other than soul work were just mundane as hell. I tried to talk myself into it. I tried to look at the bright side, practice gratitude, be responsible, and on and on. I was putting my soul on hold. 

In these three months, I hired my own coach, wrote daily, woke up daily at 5AM to exercise and meditate, took on new clients and learned from them as they learned from me. I healed so many layers of my heart and soul. I let go of people (yeah, I said that.) I went to sound healings, acupuncture, yoga, dance, you name it. 

And you know what? I have arrived - in the place I wanted to be and wondered how I would get there, and now I walk forward from this place. Challenging myself, growing, and having a sincere-ass time being a personal coach to some amazing individuals. 

I'd love to know what your dreams are. What you're sitting on, waiting for that perfect time. When you're ready to go, I will help you arrive. 

Big love, 

s

S Shoemaker Spring '18-24.jpg

Trauma is a brain game.

Trauma creates a brain game. In the system with trauma, the brain is always asking, "Am I safe? In this moment, am I safe?" 

The thing about a trauma-brain is that the answer is often no. Based on previous personal experience and memory, one does not feel safe in that moment, even though, outwardly, all signs might point to actual safety. 

This is why you get a student in school who absolutely refuses to listen to a teacher when the teacher actively tries to love the student. The student's brain is already programmed against school. 

This is why you find that a lover just may not be able to connect to you, and says things to you that aren't true about you, but they're bringing up their past. 

This also might be you that does this. 

I know it's been me. Scanning for "Is this really safe? Is this relationship going to prove all of those old theories?" 

I'm watching right now as women play out their traumas against men, and vise versa. It's a long walk ahead of us, collectively, as we learn to pause to assess true safety of the actual moment versus projected threat. 

Trauma is a fucking brain game, of assessing threat on a constant basis. 

The beautiful thing, is that with continued healing, the patterns become clear. The little places we keep ourselves locked up in order to stay safe - they present themselves. When we greet those places, continually, with love, gentleness, and understanding, as we would an innocent child, those places heal. Safety is restored. 

And then, a beautiful thing happens. We live from the heart instead of the trauma-brain head. And therefore, I really believe, that healing trauma is the route to true connection. 

You can't get out of the head and into the heart until your head will allow you to. But then, when it does, and you find it doesn't rule you anymore, your heart is online and the connection that traumatized system wanted all along is available to you. 

So often, in an effort to remain safe, you stay disconnected. If trauma is a scan for threat, it is a scan that is blocking love, connection, and intimacy. 

Keep going. Keep healing. You can do it and you are beautiful. 

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-30 at 5.49.20 AM.png

In spite & because of...

I need to do something here, and I'm not even sure why I need to do it. But I do. My soul tells me that I do, and that's my guidance system. So I start typing...

I've been moving through the emotions associated with a breakup for the past few months, and I've been relatively quiet about it, because I felt a bunch of shame.

The things I did right, in my tally, were that I showed up in a way that I could be more proud of than ever and I loved, uninhibited. I loved him as is. I was excited to love him. You see, I've been trying to "get it right" as a female for a long time, so I've been keeping my own tally.

Yeah. The judgement of my female-ness came early in my life externally, and then, at some point early on, I internalized it. After my marriage, I set out to never be that emasculating woman that I had been again, and to walk toward the divine feminine. This is a lovely goal, but I see now, I was still keeping score of myself.

"Am I doing it well enough yet??" That kind of question.

I think I did. I think I was doing it, and, this other soul simply did not say yes to the invitation, or that was the soul contract - clearly. Soul mate contracts are tricky business.

But I was doing it - I was in a relationship where I was giving, and where I was trusting - more than ever - and I was foolish.

Now, I also read Tarot, and the Fool, you might know, is not all bad. The Fool meets the moment, is willing to flow, encourages lightheartedness. In my case, I was open, feeling things I'd never felt before, completely laying down my protections, learning to lean in, and then - poof.

He was gone. I was making plans to move forward and he was making an escape route.

As far as I can tell, it was all divine. I'm not writing about it now because I'm needing help working through it - that's not it. I'm through, actually, for the most part. This fool learned to love wholeheartedly, without my standard layer of protection, and it was enough to catapult me into an entirely new stage of self-love, one where the tally doesn't exist anymore.

Thank. You.

I'm writing about it because for a year of my life, I gave of myself and I allowed myself to be silenced, and for this I feel shame. And a part of my voice stays stuck.

As the feminine, I feel shame for having been kept secret while I was so. fucking. divine. while he told me he was moving toward a divorce. I feel shame for not listening to my instincts and stand up for myself earlier. And I feel shame for still feeling shame.

Shame is a shit show.

So much of this is going to release when I hit "post."

What I crave more than anything, what my soul craves, is authenticity - pure, raw, love-filled authenticity. Something in my voice is caught since this happened, and it simply can't stay that way. I think this is the remedy.

I can't sit with you and talk about what I know of love, the feminine, the masculine, if I can't also own this story of my life. I was keeping it quiet as a favor, because there was weird secrecy the whole time, and, that even feels shameful. Because I never promised to lie, and I never promised to keep my story untold. And I'll respect that he doesn't want his story shared, but where it overlaps with mine, well, I will respectfully choose what to do with that.

And what I know is that I've not been talking about related topics, ones I love, because they intersected here.

Done. I am releasing the shame that lives in silence now.

I am a warrior for love. For truth, and for divine union. I am a warrior for the sacred feminine and the sacred masculine. I am a warrior, still, for the masculine that both yearns for deep love but guards his own heart, for the masculine that craves the feminine but doesn't know her presence when it's in front of him, for the masculine that chooses fear over love.

Maybe it's foolish, but I already told you I'm okay with that.

I have been hurt by the masculine and feminine both, and I am in service to both, and I will do this work still, because the history of my body and soul has written on it the story of this suffering, as likely does yours. I have felt it and deeply investigated it each step of the way.

I am a warrior for the actualization of the divine feminine and masculine, in spite of and because of my own story. I don't hate. Fuck, I don't even fault - the problem is so much bigger than each of us. And therefore, the antidote is that we must love now, bigger than each of us. I've felt hurt, but I LOVE still, and more bravely than ever.

Shoo. That feels really fucking good to say. This warrior needed to get that off her chest. There's work to be done.

IMG_1942.JPG

Mindful Coaching

I coach through a lens of mindfulness. Let me explain what that means.

All the time, we have flitty little thoughts in our heads, repetitive thoughts, resistant thoughts. Most people have repressed emotions that feed these habitual thoughts.

AND, here’s the thing. These habits of mind that you have are absolutely instrumental in whether or not you are able to create the changes in your life you are looking for. If you’ve got the hamster wheel of thought, emotion, reaction - we need to witness that before moving forward.

You can pick these things apart intellectually. It’s an option. But it's ineffective in the long haul. You can figure something out and say, "That's it! I'm done with THAT now!" only to have that very thing come back again and again.

When you work with me, we are going to witness what arises, and with the breath, with a gentle mindfulness practice (and other tools I’ll introduce to you), we will actually INTEGRATE what arises.

What? If it’s difficult, why would we integrate it?

Because what you resist will chase you forever.

Read that last sentence again.

Most people are running from what is chasing them, from what has happened to them, or from the patterns that went into play after a traumatic event. It’s real.

It all needs to be felt, witnessed, moved through. 

And here's another fantastic tidbit - if something is coming up for you, then it IS the thing that is ready to be healed. 

And when we’re ready to stop living with the suffering of the hamster wheel of habit, we have options. My services are but one available to you.

Mindfulness allows you to sit with what is difficult, come out of that frightened brain, and to live a more grounded and embodied, less frenetic, wholly inspired life. This is the basis of my individual work, couples work, group work. We BREATHE so that we can regulate into our own experience and speak/live/BE from a centered place.

Doesn’t that sound appealing?

My services are mindfulness-based, but that’s not all we do. Oh no. It IS, however, where we start. From there, once you notice what arises and stop running from it, you are so much more naturally able to integrate, cope, and embody resilience in your daily life. I use other tools, body-based awareness, and a lot of encouragement and actualization exercises to stretch and grow you into the next level of your better self.

I love that so many people are currently hungry for change. I love that I get to be of service when you are ready. Honestly, there is nowhere I’d rather be.

The things you know you need to address that scare you - they don’t scare me. You can be scared, but the gold and glory of hiring a coach is that I HOLD THAT SPACE FOR YOU to have your experience, AND, I will encourage you to grow. Safely. At the next level appropriate for YOU, individually.

We start with the breath, with mindfulness, and then we RISE into our true potential.

I'm interested in hearing from you. How does this land? What are you interested in changing in your daily life? Maybe it's your mindset, maybe it's that nagging anxiety, maybe it's your relationship with your spouse.

Set up a free 30 minute call with me at the link below to discuss how mindfulness-based coaching might be right for you!

Much love, 
s

EB3.png

Freedom at last

We were told to look into one another’s eyes. Partner A studied partner B without speaking, knees to knees as we sat cross legged facing one another, and then, when the time came, she was to reflect to me what she saw in me.

And then she said, “I see in you freedom. You are free.” She said it with longing and that she desired it too.

I told her in the brief moment I had, “I was just recently an educator too, like you, and I left it to follow my heart. Now I work with (mostly) women on their own journeys. Thank you for your reflection.”

My dear sister, you have just given me a great compliment. You have seen something in me that is newly embodied, this freedom. And so it is with celebration that I now allow myself to claim it.

This freedom is the result of consistent commitment to growth. It is the result of deep soul work, again and again.

S Shoemaker Spring '18-22.jpg

It is eventually learning to ask for help, when I always thought I had to do it on my own and that others were simply not safe to rely on. It was a commitment to allowing my heart to open again, and maybe for the first time.

It is consciously letting go of safety, embracing risk, learning to trust and soar. It is laughter found in unexpected places.

It is sitting on the meditation cushion, day after day, learning how to breathe again after years of perfectionistic tightness. It is loving my belly that lost a child at 19 and struggled to digest food or feel at ease every moment after.

It is consciously deciding not to hold onto resentment, especially with the masculine. It is having finally trusted a man enough to let him break my heart wide open when he left abruptly, such that I finally understood that my wholeness does not come from another’s reflection. It is a determination to love instead of resent. It is the result of active forgiveness of self and other.

It is allowing myself to love and be loved in spite of the old wounded habit of self-protection.

It is the result of dedication, this freedom, because I have said yes to learning every lesson that this path brought me. This is the freedom of having not bypassed. This is the freedom of knowing myself so well that I am at home here, finally, in this skin.

This is resiliency. There is little left that I fear. This is the result of the alchemy of present moment awareness and the breath. All the nights, sister, in the walk of healing my own trauma, that I have spent in the throws of my own grief, tears pouring down my own cheeks as I felt it. I felt it and by allowing it to be felt, I learned that it could not rule me. I can gently allow all parts of me to coexist. When we stop fighting ourselves, sister, worlds open.

This freedom is having come into relationship with my own body, to unlock the patterns of trauma, to learn safety, to know my own resourcefulness. Many, mostly women, sat across from me on my journey. They held the mirror, they believed in me so that I could believe in me.

This freedom is ceasing to allow men to light the path of my own discovery any longer, and I’m talking about sexually as well, sister. Take it back, that meekness we are taught, and know your own body, claim it, prioritize pleasure, know your boundaries, know your desires. This freedom is the reclamation of knowing what you want.

This freedom is a lifetime of giving my own self permission to step into the power of my own voice when we do not live in a world that grants women this permission. This freedom is me being willing to say my truth anyway, and suffer the losses, and celebrate the gains. This freedom is having earned my own voice.

This freedom is intentionally integrating the emotional and spiritual realms into my way of being after being raised and working in a field that valued intellect and book smarts. It is the conscious reintegration of the feminine into my once overly-masculine approach that had been the majority of my life. This is the freedom that comes with remembering, and then honoring, my own femininity.

This freedom is the result of not allowing life to destroy me. When I gave away my child, my beautiful nine pound child birthed of my body, because I thought I wasn’t yet worthy of her – I got my ass back up. My mother, bless her, modeled this. I survived that loss and I survived having overachieved every day thereafter until, finally, I could accept myself and didn’t need to prove myself any longer. The striving to overachieve in and of itself can kill you, sister. My adrenals are still healing now, the stress was so vast.

This freedom, woman, unfortunately takes work, but it is not granted by anyone other than each of us; ourselves. WE must be the ones to say we will claim it. And then you walk, one foot in front of the other, answering the call of your own soul.

This freedom is owning my choice to walk out of the job that provided the esteemed position in the hierarchy and the steady paycheck in order to sit across from you now and remind you that this freedom is yours too. I will live my life in service to our remembering, sister. It is owning that my work is actually to align with soul’s purpose, to foster opportunities for authenticity and reintegration with our true self. Sister, this is everything.

It is the choice and the ability to live, embodied and alive, free of conditions.

This freedom I feel now, I think it’s a taste of why I have been answering my soul’s call my entire life. It is the other side of suffering, and yes, I’ve reached it. I did not get there by following any prescription of success, although it is true that in doing that, I did take this winding road. But the true discovery was in listening to my own self, my own internal knowing, the whisper that we so often and for so long ignore. It is courageous to listen to that whisper. And, to be true, sister, when the time really comes, the whisper becomes a roar. Are you listening now?

When I show up in front of you now, I do not take this for granted, this freedom. I am still learning to recognize myself here, and I humbly tell you, it is the best place I have ever known.

But I didn’t bypass. I didn’t stay stuck. I actively chose love, forgiveness, trust, and hope when it didn’t seem to make sense to do so. Along the way, I fucked up, I hated myself, I felt like a victim, and I did not know what to do at so many points. I was alone at times and I didn’t always appreciate those around me. This path of authenticity is not an easy path, sister, but it is calling you.

What I’m saying, sister, is yes, you see freedom. Thank you for that reflection. I’m both proud to be wearing it now, and, I also want it for you. I believe in you. Take my example, or ask for my hand – whatever you need – I will support you in my heart all the way.

(May 18, 2018) 

Women's Independence - It's not all we imagined.

Women,

Our independence, what we have fought for so wholeheartedly, has a shadow side I want to explore. I hear so many women and men talking about this lately.

Every topic has a positive and negative aspect – this is no exception, and I won’t be able to bite off the whole topic in one post, clearly, and so please add thoughts to the conversation below in the comments or reach out to me personally.

When we tout independence for women in our culture, that implies that women are able to provide for themselves, have top level jobs, raise their families, heal themselves or tuck away any unresolved emotional trauma, in order to do what needs to be done. We get it done, as women. We pride ourselves on this. 

I found myself, in recent years, in this trap. I call it a “trap” for reasons I’ll explore here and elsewhere.

Five years ago, my ex-husband and I weren’t happy in our marriage, and had decided to separate. One day in the woods, I had an awakening of sorts where I remembered the true soul inside of me that I had silenced many years before, for reasons too vast to go into here. I woke up. I thought, “I’m going to LIVE AS HER!” And I have. It has been a long, deep journey back to her.

At that time, I had just become a school principal in a truly wonderful school – I’d say the position was somewhat coveted in this progressive school and because I’d worked my ass off (for reasons both positive and negative), at 33 years old I had this leadership role that I had gone after (win!). I bought a house after my divorce (with help, but, win!) and I was supposed to be “making it.” I looked like I was. But I really wasn’t. Because all the degrees and all the status and independence didn’t actually equate to financial sustainability…..

…. or connection, or happiness, or having enough time left over to even enjoy what I had, or being the mom I wanted to be, or healing the heartache that remained mine.

When we get caught up in the cycle of go-go-go, and let’s be real, most women are in our culture today (myself too to some extent still), we are not necessarily bettering our lives. Though we’re possibly more independent, and we are getting more done, we are suffering as well. 

Independence and “I knew I couldn’t count on anyone. I didn’t need you anyway” (that was my own go-to protection when another man wasn’t stepping in the way I wanted him to) are actually also potentially evidence of a wounded, protective spirit. 

And I’ll take a detour here to say this on the topic of men: How are they supposed to step in when we have such incredibly high and defensive standards? Our independence quite possibly turns men off, but if we take a true moment to get real about this, there are reasons for that. When women took on independent and leadership roles, we also took on masculine qualities of character. That’s another conversation.

I know a lot of single moms – entrepreneurs, PhDs, heads of household – that are actually pretty damn lonely. It’s sad. In one hand, they may be tasting success, and in another, there’s a lot of pressure that goes with doing it on your own. 

And I don’t know this for sure, because we don’t talk about it, but I do wonder how many of these women are still taking money from Daddy. Because I was. Because that’s another trap. As women, we are told to believe in our independence, but we get mixed messages that also tell us to stay dependent, to Daddy or to husband or fill in the blank.

So because this doesn’t feel right, we fight against it. We rebel. “I didn’t need you anyway!”

Or did I? Do I still? I need relationships and connection. I need to be able to falter. I need to be able to slow down, lay my head on someone’s shoulder sometimes, be sexy as hell and have someone appreciate it, model healthy relationships for my son, receive touch at the end of the day, and so on. This is the true story behind a woman caught in the independence trap for some time, the story that I think more women are ready to tell.

The positive side of independence – we know it. We know what our mothers and grandmothers refused to tolerate and so they acted on it. I like that I can get a job that pays well in leadership if I wanted one. I like that I could go to school a few times and gain all that knowledge. I LOVE that I can be an entrepreneur now. I enjoy many freedoms that women just generations prior did not. I heard yesterday that a man still didn’t need a woman to co-sign on a second mortgage when her name was on the original mortgage, still in the mid 1980s. 

I enjoy the freedoms and how far we’ve come. And, part of my work is actually to remind us that this set-up doesn’t quite have it all right yet – we need independence AND connection, collaboration, and meaningful interaction with other humans.

Our female bodies that have been pounding the pavement for independence could have a deeper story to tell us. Our bodies could actually be suffering, untouched, as a result of independence. 

This old feminism actually has had a negative affect on our men, too, because they don’t exactly understand how to both support our independence and fulfill their biological role as provider. This, too, is a much bigger topic for another day.

We need to Lean In (v. & also reference to that book that sparked a movement that encouraged women to keep claiming independence) – but not only into how to achieve more success. We need to lean into one another. Into conversation, regardless of gender. Into a deeper, curious, sensitive investigation of both the positive and negative of independence. We need to lean across the table (after we get our asses to the table) and whisper something vulnerable, like, “Thanks for being here with me, human, in real conversation. It’s been a while.” Then smile. 

Step 1.

 

(May 10, 2018)

A new kind of feminism.

I am interested in empowering women. Absolutely.

There are a lot of powerful women out there that have not yet actualized the potential of their own badassery. It’s true. And, this is necessary for our collective evolution on the planet.

AND… I am also interested in a new kind of feminism altogether. I believe that all interpretations of feminism thus far have served to further divide men and women; focusing on violence and fight. Yes, I said it. Even a “fight to be equal” is still a damn fight. It’s not going to work. It’s not even a feminine approach.

Women are RISING, but many men don’t know what to do with these powerful women in their lives. So, they shut them out. Or put them down. Or cower. (Top 3 I’ve found.)

I have experienced all of these my entire life, and it’s been absolute trial by fire these last two months as I’ve stepped full time into Embodied Breath – which symbolizes a woman thinking and speaking and creating on her own. That’s hard for some to take. I get it now. You get it. If you’re a woman, you’ve lived it. If you’re a man willing to be honest with yourself, you can admit that at some point you have gotten nervous as a woman in your life grew stronger.

Here’s the thing:

I want to allow space for men to also rise into their most divine selves. In our power-over culture, most women become immediately nervous when I say this. It is not a bad thing to want our men to be in their innate power – we just don’t have a culture that has encouraged appropriate power in the masculine! There is another way! We also want men in their own sovereignty, women, trust me. THAT’s when you get the divine love, consideration, protection, and trust that you’re craving in a counterpart to match that growing Goddess that you are!!

We want men to not be threatened by the true power of the feminine – which is a fucking force! A FORCE we’ve all been waiting for! I use the word “force” on purpose here – it is not a power-over force, but a force of nature. In her own right, the feminine is powerful in a different way.

Feminism serves no purpose if it is another rendition of power-over. If we seek to trump, master, manipulate, be better than, then guess what: that’s not true feminism because it perpetuates divisiveness.

We don’t even really want “equality” because we are not happy with the dominant masculine culture that we have! I don’t want to be equal to a man that has to climb a hierarchical structure just to prove his worth. Women, WE ARE DOING THIS. Stopping this is crux. We do NOT want equality!! We want the feminine to be honored and to have Her place.

A true feminism calls each person to rise into their own best selves, through love and receptivity, connection and exchange. A true feminism isn’t male/female, because both of these masculine/feminine forces exist in each of us. The repression of the feminine has hurt women, clearly, but it has also hurt men.

It is the feminine we’re actually all craving.

I hope that this serves you. Please reach out to me if you’d like to have conversations or work with me as a client:

As a woman, let’s talk about your own empowerment or your DISempowerment and what you’d like to do about it.
AND, as a man, if you’d like to better understand what I’m talking about and potentially explore how your own biases keep you protected and at odds with the feminine, reach out.

And, forgive me if my binary language has been too exclusive. It serves to illustrate, not to box in. This is, of course, a fluid and flexible topic.

Much love,
s


(April 9, 2018)

Go get it. Differently now.

For so many years of my life, I went after what I wanted. And, I got it. Can you relate?

When my son was one, and I was working in a therapeutic boarding school (with many problems), I thought, “I can see this whole big picture! I’m going back to school for school admin. One day, I will run this show.”

So I got a second Master’s degree while he slept.

When he was three, I thought, “I want to work at Asheville’s best charter school, so that I can witness education working differently, make a contribution, and so that my son can go there.” And by the time he was in kindergarten, I was the administrator of the upper grades.

That same year, as I was separating from my husband, I had a significant adrenal crash. Here I was, supposed to be a powerhouse, and I was actually really sick from trying to be a powerhouse. I didn’t really ask for help, though, at all. I kept going being a powerhouse.

For many years in my life, I went after what I wanted. I manifested with might.

Around the same time, I started to significantly wake up to my own femininity – what had been lost, what had been sacrificed to this world of “succeeding.” I worked in education, where every answer is supposed to come from a book, where what you know is measured by the letters behind your name. And, if you don’t have certain letters, then you haven’t earned your right to talk about certain things.

I woke up to much. Too much for this post. I remembered intuition, for starters. I remembered the dance of being a female in relation to a male, thanks to one divine being who woke me up. And then I realized, that to go after, to force manifest, to endlessly give away my energy and life force was actually draining (I was already sick) and was not innately feminine. I realized that how we operate in this whole culture is not innately feminine. It’s not the foundation we were built on, even though we are all born of women. We’ve lost our balance.

It is a dance – the feminine and masculine, the receptivity with the action. Each of us, if we intend to, can learn it every day. People in relationships can learn this dance, too.

I still went on to craft and lead one more school, and what a beautiful transition that was into what I am now doing. “Leadership” in our culture means the one in charge. I am interested in dancing with different definitions of leadership. Ones that look a little bit more like “organizer” or “space holder.”

As I heal myself, as I watch my clients step back into their feminine, as I watch couples attune to this simultaneously new and ancient knowing, I trust that this is what we need in order to heal ourselves, and to heal the world.

We can’t heal the world with force, damn it.  It’s taken me a long-ass time to learn that, and I intend for the rest of the journey to be very different.

(April 3, 2018)

Expression over Repression: A weekend with Jen Pastiloff & Lidia Yuknavitch

Two weeks ago, I sat across from a friend at lunch and said, “All signs point to – get your ass to Portland.” You see, I had the coveted workshop ticket, purchased last summer the morning they went on sale, and I had the Airbnb reservation (a property of a friend’s friend, my only connection to Portland, and conveniently located one block from the workshop – evidence of the magic already in progress), but didn’t yet have the plane ticket. He agreed and was even willing to support it by buying the plane ticket: You need to go to Portland. Yes, now. Now of all times.

I had left my day job four weeks prior. My love relationship had fallen away unexpectedly a week later. I had left my job to be fully IN my business – embodying all it stands for. But I was in TRANSITION, to say the least. Was it “smart” to fly to Portland? Was it “reasonable?”

Although this post is more about what happened IN Portland, I will interject here a reminder, that there will be moments in your life where you have a hunch that you need to do something, and you can either say a big YES and buy that expensive plane ticket or you can say a weaker “meh” and pass it up, only to realize later (or never) that that may have been your gig. Portland taught me, among other things, to say YES.

Lidia Yuknavitch wrote a memoir called The Chronology of Water, which was monumental in my life two summers ago and remains a favorite. It is her story, written, and yet I saw myself in it in big ways. She also lost a daughter in her early years, and she writes “from the body” the story of how that shaped everything thereafter. Her organization is called Corporeal Writing and this workshop; Writing and the Body. The workshop is offered at least once annually and is co-designed and led by yoga teacher/writer/activist/human Jen Pastiloff, who, years ago made an impression on me with her “ENOUGH” messages to women. She also has a blog where she showcases other women’s voices. Here is my own story on the Manifest Station from late last year.

So, wow, these women are amazing humans.

Yes. I needed to be there. Yes. I needed a swift ass kick into fully embodying this transition in my life. Yes. I needed to witness a room full of women dancing, doing yoga (while singing), owning their fears, owning their regrets, and TELLING THEIR STORIES. Yes. I needed to witness the strength of Jen & Lidia holding space. Yes. I needed to trust new friends. Yes. I needed to say YES.

I said yes. The whole trip, I said yes.

I practiced surrender, practiced not making plans. I practiced setting intentions and saying yes when all the different doors opened. I said yes to owning exactly what was going on for me. I said yes to raising my hand, when Lidia asked if there was anything that needed to be spoken in order that we feel complete, and I shared a story I’d written about this last love relationship, the one that had been so sacred yet had also been, in hindsight, repressed. The relationship had not been public for reasons I tried to support, and therefore, the secrecy had also seemingly afforded him permission, in the end, to disrespect me, the relationship, and the feminine (inside me, inside himself, inside all of life itself), by abandoning it. And of course, that also meant that I was abandoning and repressing myself and the feminine as well. That story was living inside of me, hidden and confused and so mixed up with all the emotions of repression. Women know this feeling – there are things we have agreed not to speak, and I believe, collectively. So with a shaking voice, I read it, and a room full of women witnessed it. And in that moment, I understood in my bones the power of creating safe space to share stories, something I have been trying to incorporate as a part of Embodied Breath. I trusted before that it is needed, this permission, and now, I have experienced it.

Here I am. Being vulnerable AF.

 But look at that position – in between those two supportive warriors, with the eyes and love of each woman in the room holding me. Lidia Yuknavitch herself had her hand on my back, y’all.  Women supporting women in expressing themselves instead of repressing themselves.  Yes.  Yes. Yes. YES.  At one point on the first day, after this vulnerable moment, Lidia is talking to us and she says something like, “We are every woman. We are ALL of us. Telling the story IS the thing that will bring you back to life. It is the thing that someone else needs to hear. There is a woman right behind you that needs your story.”  And then I burst into tears.  Because I got it – all of these “yeses” and this trip to Portland. I needed to hear Lidia Yuknavitch tell me what she knows about story sharing – what her book did for me. I needed to remember, deep in my core, that this story of my life is the one that needs to be shared. Among others – among all the stories. This story, of placing a daughter for adoption, of never believing I was enough, of striving like hell for approval outside of myself, of wanting love so badly but guarding myself protectively against it, of remembering my own femininity, of continually fighting against the repression of voice such that now I am prepared to stand behind any woman going through the same process – Yes. This story needs to be shared.  How do you know if a story needs to be shared? If it feels repressed, that’s how. If it’s begging to be let out.  My daughter (the one I surrendered in an open adoption) starts college this fall. For years, all the talk has been about what she’s going to decide to study. In the last few years of working as a school administrator, all the time, I gave less and less and less fucks about what we were studying and put more and more and more emphasis on the people we were raising and becoming. Until eventually, I had to let go of education altogether.  My daughter, and your daughter, and your sister, mother, granddaughter – THEY are the ones coming behind us. THEY need a NEW STORY. In sharing our stories NOW, we create a new story. And we live into a different future, where voices are expressed rather than repressed. Where the feminine herself is expressed instead of repressed.  And then, I said one more yes, to a big ol’ tattoo in dedication to this purpose – I will no longer perpetuate repression, be afraid to hold space for what is difficult to speak, or deny any of the parts of the feminine divine. I will integrate shadow and light, I will look at what is difficult (and help others do the same) in order that we might grow, I will celebrate what arises from the shedding of skin. (That was a tattoo hint right there…)  This is Embodied Breath, this is the work of my life. I am here. This transition these last six weeks, this trip, has birthed me anew. Death, rebirth. In order that we get to the rebirth, we need to say Yes.  I will spend my lifetime encouraging this YES in all who feel the desire to step into themselves more fully, more divinely, to share their story, to celebrate their own becoming. I will tell the story, because I am a woman with a voice, who holds a continual and close examination of this life, and I know that we are generations of women (and men) who need to hear more truth.  Thank you Portland, Thank you Lidia & Jen & all the women, Thank you, dear opportunity to say Yes.  YES.  (March 29, 2018)

But look at that position – in between those two supportive warriors, with the eyes and love of each woman in the room holding me. Lidia Yuknavitch herself had her hand on my back, y’all.

Women supporting women in expressing themselves instead of repressing themselves.

Yes.

Yes. Yes. YES.

At one point on the first day, after this vulnerable moment, Lidia is talking to us and she says something like, “We are every woman. We are ALL of us. Telling the story IS the thing that will bring you back to life. It is the thing that someone else needs to hear. There is a woman right behind you that needs your story.”

And then I burst into tears.

Because I got it – all of these “yeses” and this trip to Portland. I needed to hear Lidia Yuknavitch tell me what she knows about story sharing – what her book did for me. I needed to remember, deep in my core, that this story of my life is the one that needs to be shared. Among others – among all the stories. This story, of placing a daughter for adoption, of never believing I was enough, of striving like hell for approval outside of myself, of wanting love so badly but guarding myself protectively against it, of remembering my own femininity, of continually fighting against the repression of voice such that now I am prepared to stand behind any woman going through the same process – Yes. This story needs to be shared.

How do you know if a story needs to be shared? If it feels repressed, that’s how. If it’s begging to be let out.

My daughter (the one I surrendered in an open adoption) starts college this fall. For years, all the talk has been about what she’s going to decide to study. In the last few years of working as a school administrator, all the time, I gave less and less and less fucks about what we were studying and put more and more and more emphasis on the people we were raising and becoming. Until eventually, I had to let go of education altogether.

My daughter, and your daughter, and your sister, mother, granddaughter – THEY are the ones coming behind us. THEY need a NEW STORY. In sharing our stories NOW, we create a new story. And we live into a different future, where voices are expressed rather than repressed. Where the feminine herself is expressed instead of repressed.

And then, I said one more yes, to a big ol’ tattoo in dedication to this purpose – I will no longer perpetuate repression, be afraid to hold space for what is difficult to speak, or deny any of the parts of the feminine divine. I will integrate shadow and light, I will look at what is difficult (and help others do the same) in order that we might grow, I will celebrate what arises from the shedding of skin. (That was a tattoo hint right there…)

This is Embodied Breath, this is the work of my life. I am here. This transition these last six weeks, this trip, has birthed me anew. Death, rebirth. In order that we get to the rebirth, we need to say Yes.

I will spend my lifetime encouraging this YES in all who feel the desire to step into themselves more fully, more divinely, to share their story, to celebrate their own becoming. I will tell the story, because I am a woman with a voice, who holds a continual and close examination of this life, and I know that we are generations of women (and men) who need to hear more truth.

Thank you Portland, Thank you Lidia & Jen & all the women, Thank you, dear opportunity to say Yes.

YES.

(March 29, 2018)

Rebalance the Masculine/Feminine to Heal... an intro.

I'm just going to say it.

In this culture, women are wounded and confused because they (we, y'all) are acting like men.

What?! We are not "acting like men!"

Here's what I mean:

In this culture, what is rewarded? Glorified?

Hard work, getting things done, achievement, earning more, more education, knowing more, persistence. To name a few. Would you agree?

Where does that leave room for valuing emotionality, perception, intuition, nurturance, relationships, instincts, love?

Regardless of the attention grabbing way I began this post, I think that we can agree that we're lacking, collectively, in appreciating and actualizing the qualities in that second list.

 March 2018

March 2018

 

We need the first list, right? So there's nothing inherently wrong with it, but, what is in that trait list is inherently masculine. The second list is inherently feminine. Where am I coming from with this? A lot of resources outside the traditional box, archetypal analysis, and, you know what? My own life.

A few years ago, as a woman and a mother, I was suppressing my own inherent feminine. In fact, I'm not sure, as a woman in this culture, I'd ever really even met her. Even when becoming a mother, while I tapped into these traits of nurturance and breastfed my child, for example, I still conducted life in a very fast-paced way. Very structured, very controlled, very task oriented. This looked like, for me, working ceaselessly, valuing only the knowledge found in books, looking to be in charge (I was a school administrator), being edgy in conversation, and inflexibility. It also looked like, when I was married, bossing my husband around.

Sound familiar?

In a culture that is built in valuing male traits, it is no wonder that we are a bit confused as women. I actually woke up to remember, a few years ago now, that women actually had this thing called intuition. And then, I set out to rediscover it for myself. What I found was far more deep and wide, but it'll take more than one blog post to tell you about all that.

That walk back to myself (because that's what it was) involved a rediscovery of what is inherently feminine and what is incredibly undervalued in this culture. My former boss, a woman, one day dismissed my input, saying that I took intuitive leaps. Well, that's right. I do. And now, I'm proud of it. There. Is. No. Other. Way.

(And, by the way, I proved to be correct in that very "leap," time would tell, and it was in regard to a child's wellbeing. We KNOW beyond the cognitive capacities that our culture traditionally values! Women, I know you feel me here.)

Women do, generally speaking, possess some valuable traits that are generally undervalued in our culture. Because, well, our culture was built on masculine, patriarchal values. I am not here (directly) to "smash the patriarchy," as that is a little radical for my tastes, but I do want to get this information out to hardworking, tired, professional, confused women. Because, a few years ago, that was me. This problem is real - it is, it has turned out, the answer, the code, to every mystery of every relationship with others and with myself. Seriously. We must work to rebalance the masculine and feminine archetypal energies (habits) within and between us. It is everything.

I was working so damn hard for so many years that in fact, I caused an adrenal collapse that I'm still working to rebalance four years later.

Women, how many of you have an energy depletion issue, or a hormonal mystery, or an endocrine imbalance. Our perpetual DRIVE, when it is not actually our nature, is at least partly to blame, I guarantee you.

I am also not here to discredit men or these valuable masculine traits. We need healthy men too. Actually, this is about an acknowledgement of the feminine in all people, regardless of gender identity. Men must heal the feminine in themselves too. We are walking around a wounded collective of people.

We must, must, admit the inherent flaws in the design of continual repression of the feminine, for everyone.

My coaching model is inherently feminine in that it values that second list, and nurtures it. We slow down, we attune, we use emotions as guidance, THEN we identify goals and purpose. Most coaching models would identify goals first, because, again, we are enculturated to do so.

You don't have to be "girly" to be feminine, by the way - I am not!

Does this conversation confuse or trigger you? Contact me! Let's have it! Does it engage you and make you think, "Oh, I never thought of it that way!" Great! Let's continue the conversation about how you may have been unknowingly repressing your inner feminine.

We need to remember our innate, valuable feminine capacities so that we can be our best selves and stop wondering why we are so damn tired. This is also the route cause of the crisis of not enough.

More on that to come.

In the meanwhile, much love and nurturance,

s

 

Be the woman they don't know what to do with.

The power of the actualized feminine is, in my experience, is a force that terrifies most men.

Men have been enculturated to believe that they need to wield the power, that they need to know what to do next, that they need to be the ones with the answers. This is terrifying to most men, again, in my experience, because the truth of the matter is that they do not know what to do with the power they’ve inherited, they do not have all of the answers, that this is actually an incredible pressure, and thus far, we do not have many models of acceptance in this society to hold the vulnerability it would require for men to begin admitting this.

This is the true power of the feminine - to hold this masculine energy, to give it an outlet, a sounding board, but to also gently guide and inform the masculine. Where we have gone wrong, again and again, is this very communion - this very node of communication in all of it’s forms.

In our vulnerability, we continually guard and fuck up. Both the feminine and masculine. In our cowardice, we keep ourselves separate. In our pain, we wield hurtful words - which are hurtful because they are masked attempts at maintaining power over. Power-over is an antiquated model of power and the time is up.

The actualized feminine is not loud, she is not dangerous, she is not the woman threatening to take your children away from you. The actualized feminine may or may not be the voice saying “MeToo” - it depends entirely on the way it is uttered. The truth is that the feminine is rising, and the truth of that is that many women are still discovering what it means to find their own voice, which is no fucking surprise given the millennia of shushing that happened. We can really not expect that a woman who has gone through trauma (nearly all) and whose voice has been disempowered (nearly all) would be well practiced and pointed in her early attempts to share her story. So, sidenote, however each woman decided to participate in MeToo or any subsequent practice of using her voice is absolutely and entirely acceptable, as each person’s expression is acceptable. The thing that matters is that we are in the collective process of healing the traumas and finding our individual and collective voice. (This is what I do, why I am here - this is my work with Embodied Breath.)

The actualized feminine is the woman you are drawn to, for her power and her mystery. She does have a voice and she uses it pointedly. Because she is not yelling, it is up to you to listen. Admit that you have no fucking idea what to do with her. Admit that you are both yearning for her and are terrified of her.

Men, the whole damn world is in the same boat right now with this. Start admitting it.

But I will tell you one thing, men. You need her. The floundering I mentioned above. She’s GOT YOU. If you welcome her in.

And women, we need to be her. We all know it in each cell of our bodies. It’s why the Women’s March and MeToo call to us. It is the longing for power, but it’s not a power over. So many are confused about this. We do not want to adopt antiquated, wounded-masculine attempts at power. We want to actualize the feminine, which is a beautiful and powerful force of nature that many in the collective have yet to experience (and hence the fear). In reading this, in joining the conversation, in acquainting yourself deeper and deeper with your true nature - it is happening NOW.

March 2018

 

A client story...

Meet Kara.
Kara is a lovely and hardworking woman, slightly frustrated on the surface with her work situation, but underneath, she is buzzing with a constant worry and anxiety that seems to be occupying increasing amounts of brain space and spare moments - and she doesn't have a lot of spare moments. The slight frustration is the manifestation of some serious worry, a fast-paced lifestyle, and pressure - she doesn't even really know where all the pressure comes from - it just ALWAYS seems to be there. Kara has been working to MAKE IT at her company for a while, and the (mostly male) competition is fierce and she feels it. She feels like she needs to keep up, be available, relate to the guys, and still rock it as a mother of two.

Kara finds Sarah.

Unfortunately, Kara didn't really have anyone to confide in. She was visiting a therapist periodically, an acupuncturist every now and again, and these things helped, but she had a difficult time integrating any lasting change. Kara wanted a lifestyle shift. She couldn't quit her job right now, though she dreamed changing to a more passionate career in the future, and she knew that there HAD to be more than just the unsatisfying grind. She knew she used to be a passionate woman, but this depletion and constant worry were causing her to have actual medical symptoms.

She wanted a lifestyle change, she wanted to feel stronger, encouraged, and remember who she was before she got so busy.

On her intro call, Kara immediately knew she could be herself with Sarah. The two hit it off, Kara got to state exactly her main goals for a lifestyle shift, for greater satisfaction, and to do something about the constant worry and monkey mind. She was nearly at her wit's end. She learned about mindfulness and breath-based awareness from Sarah, and decided to DEDICATE herself to the process so that she could change the course of her life.

Kara and Sarah created a daily routine that was both practical and powerful for Kara's specific schedule. Since worry and overwhelm were definitely all consuming for Kara, and since she was a mother, Sarah and Kara brought these two focuses to the forefront of the work, so that Kara began seeing results quickly.

She lost her temper far less often with her children. The time she did spend together with her children after work seemed to be happier - they were enjoying one another more rather than stressing about too little time in a day to get it all done. Kara's focus on life shifted from "not enough time" and "I don't know how to make it work" to feelings of satisfaction, confidence, and clarity. In this way, she was able to even tap into what she really desires from life - beyond the overwhelm and beyond the daily grind.

The skills and shifts are long lasting, applicable long after Kara is finished the three month relationship with Sarah. She is resilient, emotionally stable, and empowered!

March 2018

I am the woods.

This fall, I had a dream.

I lived in the woods. In the dream, I did not see any house that I lived in, I just knew that I lived there, and I’d emerge from the woods, walking, with my dog by my side.

Over and over again in the dream, my dog and I came from the woods to visit a man; the man I loved. We would visit his home, remove our shoes in the pile by the door. I spent many warm and rapturous nights in his bed. His arms a tent around me, strong enough to allow me to move, to climb and quake.

His kitchen full. Providing. Meals were had together.

But then something happened, and a habit was formed, even amidst our intense love. He wasn’t fully aware of the consequence of the pattern he was allowing. A knock would come at the front door of his home. And every time, my love would slither out the front door, pulling it closed behind him, to stand in the front of the house and talk. Women were out there. They were not immediate threats to our intimacy, but they were women with power - the wrong kind of power, the power he had given to them by deflecting his own. They were not good, kind women, for they had forgotten the tender nature of their natural feminine force and had instead replaced it with a harsh and wounded tone. They earned their power by manipulation and control. Many women do this. And many men, trying to be good men, relinquish their power to this type of woman.

Mother, former wife, colleague; they continued to come. Women of influence of the wrong sort. They had established their power over him over time. He did not know how to tell them to go away, because he was a loving man. He did not know how to introduce us - we were so very different.  And out the back door I would sneak, while he was performing, while he was meeting someone else’s demands, while he was denying the mighty power of what he felt while inside his house with me.

Time and again, I heard their voices, and my dog and I would leave. Back to the forest. Back to the soft ground and the pine needles. Back to the canopy. To leave felt like a loss, but I was forgiving, trusting the true nature of what we shared, and the forest was a comfortable place to come back to, and so my dissatisfaction was slow to grow.

I was in the woods, and then I would leave, and then I would return again. I would leave for a man, and return to my own home because I did not have his full attention. He did not know how to give it. In time I became a bit lost - for I loved him, but I always returned alone.

And then one day, I remembered. The knock came at the door, he chose to go, and I knew I no longer needed to feel displaced.

Because, you see, I remembered. I do not live in the forest. It is not a place I simply seek refuge. It is not where I build my house - which is why my dog and I never saw my house in the dream. It is not where I retreat or hide.

Being in the depths of the forest is home. It is warm and full, it is life and death, it is plush and providing. It is the mother wrapping us all. It is not fleeting, it remembers all stories, and it does not scorn. It envelops light and dark and integrates them both. It is home. It is me. I never need to leave again.

You see, I am the fucking woods. I am the sacred and wild feminine itself. The feminine and wild nature are one in the same.

That was the dream. Then I awoke to truly remember, and over the months that followed, my dream became prophecy. I am the woods. I am inviting, I am warm, I am strong. I have established systems within me, a divine integration of light and dark, of soft and hard, and I provide all the solace in the world. I am the feminine. I am the trees and the dirt and the pine needles. I am the mother, the divine lover, the great host.

There is no bed, there is no house, there is no front door. To imagine that there is anything other than the truth of the divine, that we found in our union, is to look to the false and wounded constructs that society has built for answers that only come when you stop looking elsewhere. You built your house on the foundation of truths you had before you at the time, but in your bed, you found a new kind of woman. A new kind of union. A new kind of permission.

You are welcome to join me, but I will not entertain false guests with you at your front door.

I have done so, on my own, for long enough. I have in my past forgotten the divinity of my nature, as so many women have, and now, I have no choice but to reclaim it. You assumed I’d be content to stay in your arms, in your bed, but you did not know that I was the forest. Indeed, I had also forgotten.

You did not know that I represent what we both need in order to let go of the power of old ways. That is what the divine feminine’s role is at this time on the planet. We hold the space and shape of love divine. Most men will not be able to meet us here and it will require choices of women - great patience or independence, or a combination. We will be patient and inviting, but we will hold a standard. We will be boundaries. We will not be held back, we will not be hidden by men any longer, we will not forget our truths, and as we remember, a power shift will occur. We are no longer looking to men for permission or even reclamation. The reclamation needs to happen within each woman. Men will have to stop addressing the knocking of ill-willed callings. They are used to responding, to knowing, to making decisions, to maintaining power-over. That time is now over. In my dream, in my life, but my experience mirrors the greater unfolding. That time is collectively coming to a close.

Dear Man, I am the forest. What is your force? Where is your divine strength? The forest, too, has a compliment; a counterpart. Be it. And if you do not know it, come to me, and together, we will discover you own wild nature. But this time, you must come to my forest home.

 March 10, 2018

March 10, 2018

The first official day of self employment

It's 7:30 AM on a Monday and I am NOT preparing for the start of a school week for the first time in... 32 years. For 32 years I was student, teacher, student, teacher, student, teacher, principal, teacher school creator. In that order.

Now, Entrepreneurial life. Embodied Breath, soul purpose, and 100% deep connection, authenticity, creativity.

Embodied Breath is mindfulness-based one on one coaching and, yes, school consulting. I have spent my career, really when it comes down to it, teaching the whole child - the hearts, bodies, minds. I work in trauma-informed, innovative, mindful models and any work I do from this point forth in education will be completely aligned with those key main focuses. As a school admin, I will work with other admin (nationally), when they are ready, to shift school culture from the center outward, to empower each student within a sustainable, mindful, soul-nurturing community. Academics, the book stuff, that is actually secondary. If children are stressed, traumatized, behaving from fight or flight patterns, or otherwise distracted (I just described most of today's youth), they are NOT learning in their seats anyway.

And now the mothers - the women. In the past two years specifically, I have learned from women as they sent their children to our residential therapeutic school. I have seen the levels of grief and shame, through these women and others, that we carry as a result of trying to always ensure we are "good enough" for our families. These women helped me to own that I really wanted to redefine my work, as a woman, for women.

I have lived the felt experience of being a woman with trauma response patterns in the body. I have lived the story of not good enough. I have lived the story of striving and eventual collapse with severe adrenal fatigue. And I have seen the other side. I bring this experience to the forefront now as I offer one-on-one women's resiliency coaching as my primary offer. I work with women who are ready to compassionately love their struggle for what it has been, strengthen their innate skills of resiliency, and see the other side.

Embodied Breath is the convergence of all parts of me - personal growth and professional knowing - because **integration** is the key, for all of us. When we value only what we know from books, what we're told to know (school), and when we're evaluated through social hierarchy, we lose our own internal sense of power and intuitive knowing.

It's time to reclaim it as women. It's time to open avenues where our children do not have to be forced to forget only to then spend their lives trying to remember who they are and the true essence of life.

I say that we start with the breath, and then we rise. We start with the breath because we need to bring mindful awareness and nervous system regulation to our present experience. We need this regardless of who we are, because we are citizens of today and today is crazy as shit. We need to know ourselves again - to know our bodies and the information it is providing us, to know our internal landscape, and to hold our own patterns in love and compassion, as we would a weary child. We RISE when we know ourselves, when we've touched the parts we've been avoiding, when we are regulated enough to attempt to **trust** one another again.

I could not be happier to be here. Today, I sit in deep gratitude for this path. Today, I breathe, because: transitions are real and I'm still recalibrating.

How can I help?? It would help me right now to hear from you all. This week, I'm writing and hopping on a podcast and having coffee with friends. I'm gathering the thoughts and meditations and connections. I am hanging the open sign, after eight months of preparation, and ready to show up for the soul of the this work, as a steward, humbled that this is what I get to now do.

Reach out, please. I can't wait to hear from you.

(Feb. 2018)

All the places I could start.

I could start by mapping out the storyline. Recounting the most recent details.

I could start after I sleep off this cold, after the fever subsides. When I have more energy. After I make it to a yoga class to remember myself. It's been six months since I've been to a yoga class.

I could start after I meditate a bit more. There's this pain in my left shoulder that I think has been there for four years. Not entirely sure. I notice, now that I pause deeply to notice, that I hold my left shoulder and my right jaw with a certain tension. I could start after I relax all that.

I could start after a shower. I haven't had lunch. Maybe after I read some of one of these books and after I catch a little bit of this sun.

I could start by recounting these two amazing conversations with two of the best of women friends that remind me to live, that I am loved, that there is much to celebrate, that there is purpose to this path and that there is value in my careful attention to the details.

I could start with the details. But I am not interested in a recount of the details. I'm simply uninterested in the same kinds of details right now.

I could start after I take this upcoming workshop. I so can not wait for this workshop. It's called Writing & The Body and it's by two women I completely admire. I could tell you that at the same time I left my job, at the same time I step fully into my calling, all the book draft I'd had was lost this week. I think. I could start after I go to the Apple Store to try to recover it.

I could start with that story of how things fall away when we don't need anymore what we thought we needed. Sometimes it's a bigger message. I could start with a celebration that I have exactly what I need, here in this moment.

I could tell you my interpretations of the Universe.

But I don't know where to start in my next phase of creation. Not yet. Not today. This is transition. This is messy. This is me remembering what it is like, if ever I knew, to have wide open opportunity without a career map or a to do list. This is recalibration, and of the sort that I asked for, but which feels so unfamiliar after so many months of a certain kind of momentum, and so many years of momentum before that.

This is me wanting to connect with you, but to say, there are so many places we could start. Each little bit is an opportunity. Some little bits are distractions.

I am orienting.

This is the start. And the next moment is a start. I could tell the story in a thousand ways, but I am living it.

Each moment right now is a different start. It is a discovery. I am starting to create a new map. It's what we afford ourselves the opportunity to do when we leap. Which I just did.

I said "yes" to the life I want. Now I start it. Now.

(Feb. 2018)

The Shadow Side of Resilience

I talk a lot about resiliency. It’s what I coach and it’s what I fall back on. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from adversity, it allows you to know that we’ll be okay even through hardship, and it is the thing that keeps you asking, “What can I learn from this?” even when you find yourself steeped in troubled thoughts or conditions.

Mindfulness is a tool for resiliency, as mindfulness allows us to pause, see beyond the current moment in a meta-view, and regulate ourselves to keep on. We need to be able to identify our emotional state before we can hope to regulate our emotions, otherwise we are swept away with them. We need to be able to recognize the cyclical nature of our thoughts, otherwise we believe them to constantly be true and they run us.

Healthy resiliency is certainly an asset. It affords you choice, it ensures that you’ll get the job done, that you are accountable. You can accept that, well, it is what it is, and you can keep on doing what’s needed. Those of us who are resilient also often know ourselves very well. We’ve sat with ourselves closely. These traits of resilience are sometimes inherent and also can be trained, but I’m pretty sure that most resilient people have done a lot of personal work. The world is full of adversity. If you are responding well, then you’ve done some work.  

I have immense amounts of gratitude for my own resilience. As a quality, it is the essence of my inner badass, and oh how I love my inner badass. I am accountable and responsible, I am attuned and creative, I am mother, partner, homeowner, school administrator and creator, business creator, group facilitator, individual coach. I am fierce and loving both. Without some relatively hard-won resilience, I know for a fact that those things wouldn’t be possible. There was a day when anxiety dominated, when adrenal fatigue caused collapse. There was a day even before that in my early twenties when alcoholism was a real possibility, it was in my genes, and I looked in the mirror and chose a different path. There was a day when I was a fighter, battling for my voice, and my personal advocacy was pretty one-sided.

Because, you see, resiliency is the ability to deal with adversity, but it is often the result of having to deal with adversity. Many of us have had others - parents, siblings, teachers - confirm limitations or inadequacies that we spend our entire lives either believing or untangling. Sometimes it’s worse than that, and the adversity is higher - no food in the house, a parent that screamed and hit, emotional abuse confusingly disguised as care.

And so, therefore, if we become resilient and are able to bounce back, there may also be a shadow side to our resiliency. And maybe because we just had a lunar eclipse in the fierce sign of Leo, these days I am examining the shadow to the fierceness of resiliency.

If you are fierce, you can take care of things. You’ve got it. And yet you may have a lot of trouble asking for help.

If you are independent, you know you can rely on yourself, and you also may be prone to being more alone.

If you are a badass, you may take on too much, because you know you will always handle whatever is in front of you.

Maybe you left an unfulfilling marriage because you remembered who you were before all of that, and you’ve done a lot of personal work, but how are you at being in relationship? How are you at accepting love?

Maybe you have learned to use your voice that so often before felt quieted, but it often still sounds like a bark.

Maybe you are so used to handling it on your own that you are embarrassed or completely unnerved to share how it is you really feel.

The shadow side of resiliency is also the shadow side of the #metoo or feminine rising movement - we risk isolation when we begin speaking up against what is unjust. We risk creating separation as we name what we will no longer tolerate. This is happening so much that the menfolk are now afraid. We need to maintain dialogue, maintain our heart, as we establish our ferocity.

I am a big, big fan of ferocity. Don’t get me wrong. If we are resilient, we are strong. If we are strong, we may misinterpret that to mean there’s got to be a fight. There doesn’t need to be a fight; that’s the shadow. That’s the part to lean in and heal.

The shadow side of resiliency, of always having the ability to rise, is that it is assumed you always will. Resiliency can make it seem like you can handle anything, because you can, or you will. You will always do what is needed. You will figure shit out.

Women are insanely resilient. As inherently nurturing as we are, we are likely going to pick up the children from school, even though we want to collapse, come home, make nourishing (or close to nourishing) food, and provide a quality activity. We’ll make sure everyone knows they are loved and probably read them a bedtime story. We’ll make sure to check in with our friend that’s been having a difficult time. That pile of bills you hesitate to open? You’ll figure that shit out, too, when it’s necessary. The work emails? You’ll wake up at five tomorrow morning to get to them so maybe you can get a robust-enough seven hours of sleep.

Being resilient can save your ass. But it also has a shadow. You can be resilient and handle anything, but can you also risk vulnerability? Can you ask for help? Can you learn to reciprocate a healthy love?

We often earn our resiliency because we needed to rise; it wasn’t an option. We have trauma. We overcame the hard stuff. Somehow, through it all, we held onto the essence of who we are and who we want to be. Most importantly, we listened to that voice inside of us that said that anything less than true survival and rising wasn’t acceptable.

First, resiliency. Then, we learn to soften. We learn to listen. We learn what we are holding at arm’s length because in the past, it wasn’t safe to let anyone any closer than that.

Resiliency carries us through. When we integrate the shadow of resiliency, the shadow side that sounds something like, “I’ll take care of it,” “The only person I know I can count on is myself,” “No one else shows up anyway,” we are able to be resilient and whole. Resilient and loving. Resilient and resourced.

Integration is required. Vulnerability is required. A little practice involving trust and surrender. Sometimes, those lessons are much harder than maintaining the fight. Vulnerability, trust, and surrender - those are strengths beyond mere survival.

Beyond surviving, there’s thriving. You didn’t come this far to hold on to the pain of what built your resiliency. You came to thrive as you, your most authentic self, free of burden, free of limitation. Integrated. It is possible. Just keep leaning in.

Written Feb 2018

All is calm, All is bright... and getting brighter still.

As I sit this morning, writing, I remembered this old post from a previous, private blog. This is a repost, written Christmas time, two years ago.

My tree this year still went up the weekend of Thanksgiving, because if I'm going to put one up, I'm going to enjoy the thing. But this year, only cloth ornaments, because - kitten.

The reasons "why" behind the actions continue to relax as healing as continued as the norm, thankfully. Creative efforts now go into developing Embodied Breath, but not for lack or perfectionism. Rather, to evolve a project from a place of purpose and passion. Less busy work, more true heart work. (On my knees grateful.)

This year, my Christmas tree is pretty much just a tree. The need to handcraft is almost entirely relaxed. Any sadness of lost tradition and ornaments now on his father's tree at another house, I didn't even think of until now.

Ode to the process... Deep bow to our internal evolution...

Keep on, bright ones.

 

December 2015...

...I feel I need to write one more explanation of this endeavor before I dive into the grit of the blog (and subsequent book).  If I begin posting about the day I gave birth to my first child, at age 19, and how that event left a mark on every decision I've made ever since, readers may be a bit taken aback.  Thus, friends, a soft overview written from this cozy couch position.

Pictured above, my Christmas tree.  Clearly, since I've used the word "cozy" and already have a tree erected and fully decorated by December 6th (truth: it was up November 28th), I am a fan.  I'm not a fan of Santa or Jesus or even family tradition, I am a fan of my Christmas tree.  How, one may ask, does a Christmas tree have anything to do with this blog or a memoir of post-nineteen year old birth?  Perfectionism, dear ones.

Perfectionism.

To put it laughably mildly, giving away a child seriously fucks with the course of your life.

Thereafter, there is no normal.

For me, the manifestation of this entire event was to strive.  Implicit was the understanding that if only I had had it together, I could have raised my baby.  And so if only I could get it right from here on out, I'll be able to feel whole again.  And so it went.  Through three college degrees, a marriage, and a second child.  None of which were a mistake, hear me now, but that is to say that this shit really played out.

So as I look at my Christmas tree, it seems to exemplify the the undertones of perfectionism that pervaded (note: past tense) my daily life for approximately the last fifteen years.  I don't quite feel the same drive to succeed now as I had (much more to come on this topic) but the evidence of this manifestation is all around me, and for one example, on this tree. Ornaments: hand-felted, ceramic, sewn, drawn with my child's sweet toddler-sized skill and hand. Ornaments purchased at the Ten Thousand Villages post-Christmas sale annually with more religion than I bring to Christmas itself cover this tree.  The tree is sweet, and perfect, really, and all of these treasured ornaments still bring me a lot of joy, even if I can now take a step back from the domestic striving that created it all.

Now, I do love beautiful things, and I love to create.  A marriage of craftsmanship and perfectionism is likely at play even now, because if we're going to create, let's have some standard of quality.  In fact, even this season, my son and I crafted real-deal Cone 6 clay ornaments, let's be honest.  It's the reason why that has shifted now.  Before, it was to feel whole.  Now, it is to create beauty.  And this blog (and subsequent book) is to tell the story of the changes that allowed for that transformation.

I also make beauty, and finding it, a priority, and I'm absolutely appreciative of this.  I love the simple way pothos flow over the rim of a small white pot in my kitchen.  I love the quilts I've made, for their heirloom quality and memory and purpose.  I love even my magazine pile, for it's haphazard nature, invitation, and promise.  I love what I've created in this life, all things considered.

My son told me this week that my husband's (still working on that "ex" prefix) girlfriend and he have matching corncob pipes.  They also have matching interests in motorcycles and large trucks, and matching sales jobs in a gear shop with a bar.  He always had wanted less responsibility than I had forced on him.  I was spending our relationship playing out trying to fill the hole in my heart, and he... well, he was looking to be loved in a really fundamental way that I didn't yet understand.  Apparently, in his defense, the new girlfriend has formed negative opinions of me based on what she knows of our relationship.  If only I could have been more fun.  You're so right.  If only I could have thrown more darts with whiskey in hand instead of evenings spent at the sewing machine.  But it's not so simple.  Because to say all of this is to essentially, at the core of it, say "Why couldn't you have just gone back to normal after giving away that baby way back when?"

We certainly lived out the manifestation of that single event of childbirth and adoption throughout our marriage (my daughter, let it be known, was not his).  Me, desperately trying to make sense of what in the world was meant by "enough" and him living that down alongside me.  Bless him.  May he be throwing darts in pure whiskey-induced bliss alongside his current love if that's what they choose.

I have now come to realize that absolutely nothing and absolutely everything is actually perfect, from the way life plays out to the ways we mistakenly attempt to shape our lives.  It is real life I intentionally choose to allow to unfold, observing interconnectedness of past and present with reverence.  In this way, ornaments can be ornaments, quilts can be appreciated as art, and blogs can be a healthy creative expression of life lived.  Beauty is there all the time, whether or not we choose to simply see and enjoy it, allowing it to unfold, or attempt like hell to manifest it.  And bless us, whichever path we choose.