The Perfect Parent (A repost – Written October, 2011)

My day had begun much like other days.  I fueled my spirit with God’s word and a lively conversation with Him about all of my concerns, joys, sorrows and fears, followed by a heart-pumping workout to send me into my day with energetic vigor.  These two things – time with God and physical exercise – breathe new life into my mind, body and soul.  When my day begins this way, I feel ready for anything.  And, like many days that get off to a powerful start, I grow weaker and less energetic as the day wears on.  How often I have left my home and arrogantly looked out at the world around me with a daring sentiment: “BRING IT!”  And how often I have found myself humbled by lunchtime!

This day was no different.  I went into it feeling especially equipped to handle whatever my ever-changing tween was going to throw at me.  I had been struggling to understand and “cure” her more recent behavior and attitudes and I had prayed for everything from patience and wisdom, to enough common sense not to be outsmarted by her (again).   I was lifted up and I believed firmly that God was going to guide me through the mine field and that my daughter and I would come out unscathed, having “done it right” this time.   I was ready to do God’s will, confident in His direction and fully equipped for the battle . . . and then she came home from school.

Everything I had pictured in my mind flew out the door when she came through it.  As our brief conversation about school, friends and other topics moved to homework and practicing guitar, things quickly changed and progressed into a downward spiral.  I left her alone in her room to engage in her more recent sulking ritual that seems to take up more time than actual homework and at some point during that process, I heard the thumpings of a temper tantrum coming from her room and that’s when I snapped.  I did not stop to consider what was going on in my heart to make me react so strongly to her behavior, nor did I allow myself any buffer time before I threw open her door and joined her in her tantrum.  She had thrown around a box that her sister had bought for her and the beating had broken the top clean off.  It pains me greatly to admit what happened next.  I did not hesitate to follow her example instead of leading with the maturity and patience she needed.  I simply asked if she was sure she was done with her tantrum as I flung the box across the room for one last flight . . . right as her sister stepped into the doorway to witness the whole ugly thing.  At that moment, I was engulfed in the aftermath of Hurricane Karen with one child crying and one child looking at me like I was the grim reaper coming to collect her soul.  A blanket of shame swept over me and I was poised to give myself a brutal inner beating.  I suddenly knew what Adam & Eve felt when God came calling after they had eaten the forbidden fruit.   I was exposed and ashamed.

I knew I couldn’t just stand there, so I apologized to both of them and told them that I needed to regroup so that the situation would not worsen.  They were more than happy to oblige.  I wanted to hide from God because I knew He saw it all and He was calling for me . . . “What went wrong, Karen?”  I took off running – literally.  I ran through my neighborhood, listening over and over again to the same song – How He Loves Us.   The song kept pouring the truth about God’s grace into my heart until I was completely drenched in it.

In addition to those beautiful words and music, I was hearing God tell me that I lost sight of Him in that exchange and that He loves me with a fierce love no matter how many times I get it wrong.  He was telling me to try again – that the day isn’t over and neither is His work in me.  God knew that I was never going to be able to make it authentically right without first receiving His grace.  Once we had taken care of that, I was able to approach my girls with humility, minus the hovering cloud of shame that typically accompanies my apologies.  There is one line out of that powerful song that puts it all in perspective for me:  “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way He loves us.”  It drove home the point that if we are focused on His love for us, our regrets lose all their power over us and we are free to move forward without dragging the weight of our mistakes behind us.  I am finally coming to “believe” what I’ve always known.

Looking back, I am grateful for this particular parental fowl because it gave me an opportunity to share with both of my daughters what grace looks like when we are truly able to “accept” it.  We cannot pass it on to others if we don’t first accept it for ourselves.  As always, my heavenly Father has brought much fruit and beauty out of my failures, ugliness and inadequacies.   Oh How He Loves Us . . .

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Angels in Disguise

“Your dad saved me from country music”  I told my daughters.  We had been talking about music in the car as I was dragging them around as my helpers for one of my events.  They are used to that drill by now after almost six years since the divorce and seeing their mother enter into the workforce as a clueless entrepreneur.  My daughters and I share a common love for music, and as we were bumping to some new songs we wanted to share with each other, I had to stop and give their father credit for his good taste in that category (he also has great taste in wives).  When we met, and well into our dating lives, I was a HUGE country music fan.  I listened to all types of music but mostly country.  Don’t get me wrong, I still like some country music, but I had no idea then how much quality music and lyrics I was missing out on.  I had to give him credit for my new and improved taste in music as my twenties moved into my thirties and forties (at breakaway speeds).

 

There was a time when it was harder to give him credit for anything but causing me pain and frustration.  We had some great years but we’ve had some very tumultuous years as well and we have both caused each other a lot of pain. That’s what happens when you love someone.  If you choose to love anyone in any capacity on this planet, you WILL get hurt at some point.  So we have to make choices.  We can choose to shut down and only give tiny pieces of ourselves as a means of self-protection, but in doing so, we will not receive the ecstasy and intense light of love to the extent that a brave few experience it here on earth.  Or we can throw ourselves into the flames of love, whether platonic, familial or romantic, and let it have its way with us and be granted the gift of being truly alive.

I know the emptiness of such an emotional prison and it was sucking the life out of me for far too long.  As a child and into my teen years I learned to shut myself off from the world as a means of self-preservation from multiplesexual abusers.  I had developed such a skill with it that I just kept right on with what seemed to be working for me well into my adult life. I was letting people see me enough to feel connected but I was never going to trust anyone with the true core of myself.  But then the crumble came.

God started chipping away at the walls around my heart and the process has been excruciating.  My healing journey with God stirred up all kinds of painful things for me that impacted me and my family until it became too much for us to manage.  I felt fully responsible for the downfall of our family as a unit.  It felt like we were all stained with the blood of my wounds.  That simply was not the truth, but I had to keep doing the work in order to understand that.  I am so thankful that I did not stop moving forward in that difficult process at the road’s end of my marriage.  There was so much more work to do.

Despite the pain that we caused each other, I can honestly say that I have grown to see every bit of the entire journey as a gift.  There are so many things that were hurtful, but there were so many things that made me who I am.  I learned what it looked like to courageously start a business and see it through even when you’re not sure what the hell you’re doing.  I learned how to call bullshit on people and on situations that are often craftily offered up as beneficial.  I learned to question things I didn’t have the courage to before. I was graced with two beautiful and powerful daughters who are already doing great things to make a difference in the world. And I discovered true music.  And so much more…all from the same man who has also caused me the most pain in life.  And, truth be told, when I stop to weigh the pain against the gifts, the gifts win out every time.  So, today was one more solidifying moment of clarity that this man I call my “ex” is not my enemy, but instead my angel.

We are all angels in this life.  Not all of our angels look the same.  Some will come as friends who tell it like it is when we don’t want to hear it.  Some will come as spouses or children who break our hearts.  Some may even bring physical, emotional pain in the form of abuse.  Yes, that’s what I said.  I know it’s a disturbing thought.  But God does not make trash.  He only makes perfection and we all come here straight from His creative design.  And then we quickly forget who we are and what we are here for.  Our task is to remember.

I don’t have all the answers.  I know nothing of God’s specific plans for us all but I know that He brings beauty out of EVERYTHING and that there are some things that are greater and more important than our own personal pain.  We can’t escape pain on planet earth, but we can give evil the bird and dismantle its darkness when we choose to love ourselves enough to let go of our right to be angry and our attachment to suffering.  As long as we hold on to these things, we ironically hand our joy and our power over to something or someone it does not belong to.

If we do that, what then do we have left to give?  It is my greatest wish that each of us can see each other and our own selves through the eyes of God.  When we do this, all we will see looking back at us are angels…everywhere.

This Christmas and always, may you remember the truth of who you are and of those around you.

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And for those of you who are standing in the debris of abuse or on your own healing path….

I want to acknowledge and honor you and the work you are doing.  You do the hard work that no one sees.  They won’t see the victory of something as seemingly simple as getting out of bed and agreeing to lick your wounds again even though it hurts like hell.  You won’t be recognized with an award of any kind by society for some of the most valuable and important work you will ever do.  You are not likely to be hailed and lauded by your future generations for giving them healthier odds for a good life.  But there are profound rewards for your efforts to remember who you are underneath the layers of pain, the negative patterns and the walls around your heart.

 

Emotional Pig Pen

Imagine…You met that special someone.  The one who yanked your heart right from your chest the moment you saw them.  The connection was there.  There was a mutual attraction and chemistry that was unlike anything you’d ever experienced.  And then that moment came.  The moment you’d both been fantasizing about for a long time and suddenly it’s happening.  You let your clothes drop to the floor and you are standing completely naked and vulnerable before this person you are sure is your soul mate.  And the “soul mate” walks out the door at the sight of you.  Imagine.

While those may not have been the exact circumstances for many of us, or even remotely close, we have all felt the sting of rejection and shame and no matter how it is served, it is so deeply hurtful that it can leave scars for generations to come…if we allow it to.  I will be completely honest here.  I never thought I’d be dating in my 40s and it’s no picnic.  Not that it hasn’t had its highlights but I can’t say it was on my bucket list.  Even so, I have learned a great deal about myself and others through the amusement park-like world of dating.  There have been days when the emotions, questions marks and WTFs spinning around my head give me a monster case of shaken baby syndrome that makes me want to vomit my brains out through my nose.  And then there are the days when my head is in the clouds, my stomach has just found its way up to my throat and the thrill of the ride has me laughing out loud like a middle schooler on on a roller coaster.  It’s been an up and down experience that has forced me to get very clear on why I would even want to invest my time and resources into something that has frankly left me more nauseous than invigorated.  So I have to ask myself from time to time…”Why?”   Why would I put myself through this?  And I guess my answer is yet another question.  “How is this any different from life in general?

We are here to love, learn and grow and to help each other to do the same.  Dating is one way we learn from each other.  We are always going to encounter people who hurt us and we will hurt others as well.  Most of us do so unintentionally.  Few people wake up and start their day thinking “How can I hurt the people in my life at champion levels today and just really fuck them all up emotionally?”  The real truth is this:  Hurt people hurt people.  We all have our wounds, some of which are healing nicely while others are gaping open and bleeding all over the general public.

The fact that we are all flawed, wounded human beings makes hurting each other inevitable. We can’t get around that fact.  We all come from different places, experiences and different bodies, mindsets, etc.  We stir each other up with our differences and also with all of the things that cause us to mirror each other.  And if we have any sense, we learn from these encounters.

If we refuse to have the courage to feel, to do the inner work on ourselves and to heal from our own wounds, then we had better get used to the fact that we will simply continue to contribute to the pain and suffering of the world, rather than exist as a higher vibration that lifts the energy  of others up with it.  So, I ask you…What do you want to show up as during your time here on planet Earth?

At the risk of being judged and humiliated, I want to share a dating experience that taught me a huge lesson.  To make a long story short, a couple of years ago, I fell for a certain man’s charm and really let my guard down.  It was a brave thing for me to do given my history and it was far from easy for me.  But I wanted to be able to trust myself and others and open myself up to my own feminine energy and to the true masculine energy I had been craving to connect with for a long time.  It didn’t take long for me to learn that I had made myself vulnerable to the wrong person.  I really wanted to hate this man but one of my gifts (and curses) is being able to see others through the eyes of God/Universe instead of my own limited experiences and understanding.  What I saw when I looked past this man’s behavior was a very wounded and broken hearted man who had learned how to build up a fortress around his heart (moat included) so that no one was getting through to what was really there anytime soon.  I saw his pain and his fear of ever being hurt like that again.  I understand that all too well.  I saw pieces of myself in him and that made it much harder for me to hate him or even be angry with him.  He was just on his journey like everyone else.

Don’t get me wrong, I still hold him accountable and I had to acknowledge that I didn’t deserve to be treated the way he treated me.  But because I saw beyond the surface of his behavior, I was able to resist the temptation to take it so personally or to judge him.  It still hurt very much, but it wasn’t just about me and my hurts.  We are all here to impact each other and stir each other up, whether we like it or not.

Think of it like this.  A good friend of mine and I have a running joke about how much time and energy it takes to shower and conduct our daily self-care and grooming rituals that we all have.  And, apparently, you have to do this shit pretty much every day if you want to be an accepted part of society.  Getting undressed and just stepping under the shower head is the hardest part.  Once we come out, we feel better and more awake.  But if we chose not to shower, after so many days, we would begin to affect those around us in a most unpleasant way.  We would not be able to avoid affecting others with our own funk (and I don’t mean funk as in George Clinton).  And if we let it get bad enough, our unpleasant odor will saturate other people if we get too close to them and they will smell it on their clothes and in their hair long after you’ve walked away.

When we are brave enough to strip down to our barest self and step into the dripping wet process of grooming our souls, we will always come out feeling a more awake and alive than we did before and we won’t have to worry about leaving a sensory trail in front of and behind us that has everyone checking their shoes for the culprit.

Are you an emotional Pig Pen?  Do you leave people wanting more of your essence or do you cause them to need a spiritual bath just as badly as you do?  How do you show up in the world to your fellow flawed and wounded planet mates?  We all have wounds.  What do you do with yours?

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The Dancing Political Dr. Seuss

Recently, I went out to a Monday night blues jam at a local dive joint with a group of friends.  I love the dive joints.  I struggle to wrap my mind around why so many people flock to the establishments where everything is the same and all the people look like they all walked right out of the same department store catalog.  It’s like a walking into a never-ending cycle of the most boring day ever.

I get it.  People like what is familiar. Maybe that’s why people look at me sideways when I create my own dance floor in places where one did not exist before. Familiar equals comfortable and comfortable often equals stagnant.  When you look at the definition of stagnant, it reads:  “1. Showing no activity; dull and sluggish.  2. A body of water having no current or flow and often having an unpleasant smell as a consequence.”  In other words, sticking with the safe and familiar really stinks.

My favorite places are places with lots of texture and character, where you could spend hours looking at “stories” on the walls and in bathroom stalls.  I love to walk into a place like no other place and see people from all different walks of life and of all different ages and races.  You don’t get that in most places.  But on that Monday night, that’s exactly what I got and I usually get that when I show up at this particular place.  You never know what is going to happen when you mix a group of people together, some of whom are total strangers. I enjoy the diversity, but when you throw alcohol into that melting pot, you have to be doubly prepared for anything and it is a fantastic opportunity to exercise self-control, grace and agape kind of love.

The evening started out immediately when we arrived.  As usual, we wasted no time getting on the dance floor.  Bands love that energy boost and everything you give them from the dance floor will be returned to you in their music and energy.  It’s always an interesting and beautiful exchange.  There are times when others will simply not feel comfortable (especially without a certain amount of alcohol) being around people who take enough responsibility for their own fun to dance and not care if anyone approves or not.

Fortunately, there were few of those people present on that night and it didn’t take us long to get people up and dancing.  At some point, I noticed two young men at a table who were wiggling in the corner, just waiting for an invitation to join in.  I went over and set one of them free from his seat and got him dancing, knowing his friend would soon follow.  Before long we were all dancing and having a great time.  It didn’t matter that we were all different ages and we all came from different places and experiences.  We were all speaking that universal language that only happens through music and dancing…until the alcohol kicked in with one of the young men and he pulled a Jeckle and Hyde maneuver with one of my friends.  They were taking a break from dancing and with a classic beer-inspired strut, he made his way over to her and asked: “Are you one of those Liberists?”  She didn’t know whether to laugh or walk away.  When she gave him an “are you freaking serious?” expression, he hit her again with his Dr. Seuss political jargon  “Are you one of those Liberists?”  She replied, “Do you mean to say “Liberals”?

“Yeah.  Did you vote republican or democrat?”  She told him she did not identify with either party and he was having much difficulty understanding how there could be anything but either black or white.  She knew she may as well be talking to a plate of green eggs and ham so she shut the conversation down quickly and starting dancing again.  When I later heard about this conversation, I could not help but think about how, just minutes before, there were no republicans or democrats or black or white on that dance floor.  There were only human beings…who all come from the same planet, who all bleed and cry the same way, who all came from the same place and will return to that same place one day.  There were only souls being expressed through the physical bodies they have been given during their time here.  No one was any better or worse than the other.

Sometimes, we can ruin a perfectly good time by opening our mouths and letting our fun-killing egos ooze out in the form of words.  Dancing requires no words, yet demands a continuous flow of communication.  Dancing entices our senses and intuition to engage with divine creativity as a means of connection.  Dancing is life…unless of course you murder the experience with verbalized political agendas, judgments and opinions.  There’s no place for that on any dance floor.  My friend understood that and she chose not to engage. But she also chose not to judge him or make him “wrong” for being a human being with different opinions than hers.  She just let him be himself in the place he is right now on his evolutionary stomp through life.  We’re all on our way to the same place. The difference is that some of us have simply learned how to love the process, regardless of whether or not anyone else wants to follow us down the soul train line.

And I wonder what our world would look like if we were all able to love others exactly where they are without trying to “fix” them or shame them into clones of ourselves.  We don’t always have to “like” them but it is possible to dance through life alongside of the naysayers and mudslingers without handing them (or anyone) your peace and personal freedom.  That doesn’t happen on its own.  It takes conscious effort and no one is going to do it for you.  We are in charge of our own hearts, our own perspectives and our own fun.  Our friend, the political Dr. Seuss, is trying to figure these things out like the rest of us.  It is my sincere hope that my friends and I were able to show him a fresh perspective from the dance floor.  These are more often moments that are taught and learned through actions, rather than words.

look at me!

look at me!

look at me NOW!

it is fun to have fun

but you have to know how.

– Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

 

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Worthiness by Way of Remembrance

I am a lover of life.  I have a twisted sense of humor that has aided me in being able to laugh in the face of some of life’s most painful or frightening situations.  Most people see me as a confident individual and that would be true in many ways.  But on a deep core level of my truest self, there has lived a cancerous dark spot with the word UNWORTHY carved into it that has influenced and affected many of my actions and inaction.

Looking back on so many things I have accepted and tolerated in my life because I believed I didn’t deserve anything more than the leftover crumbs of others, I can recall wondering what made some people capable of seeing themselves as worthy of having their basic needs met and beyond.  It has taken a pulling back of many layers for me to find my answer and the funny thing is, the answer doesn’t make a shit bit of difference.  Let me explain.  I have known for some time that the ability to see your own worthiness rests in the BELIEF that you are worthy.  It’s that simple and yet you can know this and still not believe you are worthy.  You can keep throwing out affirmations of worthiness to yourself every minute of every day, but if the proverbial devil in your subconscious mind is whispering “you know that’s bullshit, right?” every time it hears the affirmation, where does that leave you?

I’m not saying affirmations aren’t helpful and effective, but if we’re really going to get to the root of the problem, we’ve got to go deeper than that and sometimes going deeper means taking a dip in the dark and painful stuff.  The truth is, for many of us, we don’t know who the hell we are without those wounds that have been with us all along.  The letting go of those wounds can be scarier than the original cause of the wound.  We’ve relied on those wounds to keep us small.  What happens if we let go and expand and become everything we always knew we were or could be?  What happens when we can’t blame our inadequacies or lack of skills on the debilitating fear that grips our wound with generations of reaching roots?    What do we have then?

You have yourself.  No more and no less.  Unfortunately, many of us spend much of our lives in a state of  trying to be more or less of exactly who we were sent here to be.   We water ourselves down so that others will feel more comfortable around us.  We hide behind cosmetics. We try to be something we are not or pretend we are smarter, more successful, more spiritual than we are to avoid rejection or humiliation.  For many of us, anything is better than simply being our bare, naked selves…no more or no less.  We fear that others will turn away in horror and that we will not survive the pain of that rejection.  And sometimes, the most severe rejection we endure comes from our own self.

We reject ourselves before anyone else can beat us to it, thinking it will somehow render us invincible to the hurtful darts that we all get hit with by others in life.   We can’t avoid those darts.  We are all trying to get somewhere on this planet and some of us have no clue where we are supposed to go or can’t figure out how to get off the roundabout so we can make it to the freeway that leads to the life we’ve been mistakenly believing was meant for others.

I believe each of us agreed to what we would be born into before we took our places in the human luge into life on planet Earth.  I can’t imagine what those conversations must have sounded like or the emotion that might have erupted as the plans were being made.  Maybe a future lover said to his mate “I’m going to volunteer to belittle you constantly and cheat on you and then take everything from you, leaving you devastated.” to which his future mate may have responded “It would be an honor.  We are going to heal many through our work…Oh and I’m sorry for all the years I will hate you and wish ill against you because I won’t remember our agreements until I my life is nearly over.”

I’ve been aware of this concept but I had not considered the details of how this might pertain to me and my own parents until today while sitting in an emotional session with my mentor, friend and fellow healer.  She reminded me of these agreements and even though I have always had a pretty good relationship with my parents and I’ve always known they loved me very much, I suddenly saw two very different individuals.

It shames me to say that I have, at times, seen my parents in a less flattering light than I see them in this very moment.  I know only parts of their stories before I entered the world, but I know they’ve both had their share of painful challenges to overcome and heal from.  It’s so easy for us to judge a person’s growth on what we see in a person’s outer world, when we have no idea what triumphs have occurred inside the mind, body and soul.  I have been guilty of missing some of their greatest strengths because I have forgotten our agreements.

Sitting in that office today, I had a clear picture of two warriors who agreed to endure severe physical limitations and horrific offenses for the greater good.  Some of their wounds and negative emotions would be automatically passed on to me so that I could transcend them into greater healing, a higher vibration and deeper love on this planet.  My parents and I have been working together as a team all this time when all I saw was weaknesses and failures and lost opportunities.   They agreed to both inflict and endure painful experiences  so their earthly daughter and many others would not have to suffer as they did and so others could grow and heal.  Their lives have been harder than mine, but they entered in to that willingly with a purpose that was bigger than all of us.KD Paddle board

There are so many things about today’s session that healed me in so many ways, but this stands out in my mind, along with reminder of who I am as a child of God and that we have more work to do.  But now it doesn’t feel so scary.  It feels more like freedom…a freedom I finally feel worthy of.

We Dance To Remember

One of the many ways I use dance/drumming as a healing/transformational tool is through the GROOVE for Kids.  Several years ago, I got certified as a facilitator for the children’s version of GROOVE, which involves dance and drama and lots of interaction and creativity.  I often bring it to camps and other programs and it never ceases to amaze me what takes place.  I have learned never to pre-judge a child or a group of children thinking they will or will not vibe with something I throw at them.  I’ve witnessed 12 year old boys prancing around throwing scarves up in the air and catching them to “Let it Go” when just minutes before they were grunting and growling at the very mention of the song.  I’ve seen little girly girls begging for “the zombie song” because they preferred dancing and acting like a zombie over being a ballerina or princess.  But I must admit, I was not prepared for the beautiful gift I received at a recent children’s festival I was working.

I had a group of children dancing and expressing their authentic style and creativity on a beautiful fall day as their parents watched on through the video lens on their phone camera.  I had been experimenting with an eye contact exercise in my adult classes and  workshops and these kids seemed pretty open to experimentation, so I decided to try it with them.  I told them that we (fellow humans) don’t look at each other enough and that when we look each other in the eyes, we can learn a lot about a person and ourselves.  I told them that looking someone in the eyes is important and it reminds us that we are not alone.  And I reminded them of something we all intuitively know but often forget:  That all of us are connected and that we cannot hurt another human being without hurting ourselves.  Nor can we help another human being without also helping ourselves and the world around us. They were then instructed to find a partner and, while pressing into each other’s hands, they were to look into each others’ eyes without saying a word until they were told to switch partners.

We must have switched partners about 8-10 times and there wasn’t one child in that group that had any trouble at all holding a gaze with me or with other children.  They were courageously comfortable communicating in a way that most older kids and adults simply are not…and I told them so.  I wanted them to know in my own way of telling them, that it might get harder to do as they get older because it does for most people…so please, don’t be like most people.  Be like you.

I was witnessing something so beautiful and I don’t think I was even ready for all that I saw.  The beauty of each of them was blinding and overwhelming.  I was glad I was already on my knees when we did this exercise because looking into the soul of a child through the portal of the eyes will crush even the strongest adults…in a good way.  It was more than I could bear while standing on two feet.

During that 4 1/2 minutes of eye contact, there was one little boy who found his way to me twice.  He was probably about 6 years old.  Blonde hair, freckles, bright blue eyes that cast smiles from places only angels know.  The first time I encountered his devastatingly bright smile, it was easy to detect his overflow of childlike bliss.  He clearly loved the connection and was enjoying the exchange and he held my gaze the entire 10-12 seconds without flinching, speaking or getting silly to avoid the awkwardness.   By the time he came around again, it was as if I we had just become reunited with a long lost friend from decades or even centuries ago.  There was an unspoken dialogue that we both seemed to communicate without words:  “Where have you been, friend?  I’ve missed you!”

As we began the stare, smiling from ear to ear, he began to giggle, but everything inside of me was convinced it was not out of discomfort, but out of familiarity.  I can’t speak for him, but for me, It felt like the feeling you get when you arrive home after being gone a long time.  You are giddy with delight at seeing your loved ones again and your heart is so full and content, you think it might just explode.  His beautiful, natural laughter was downright spiritual.  And infectious.  Suddenly, we were both giggling uncontrollably like we had just been given all the answers to meaning of life and now we could go and share it with the rest of the world.  We laughed silently with our faces and our minds.  It was a moment I will never forget.  It changed me somehow.  It connected me to things I had forgotten.  It filled me with new hopes.  It reminded me that joy is everywhere, but sometimes you have to uncover it.

And then the song ended and we all went our separate ways…and we forgot.

This is why we can never stop looking into the souls of our fellow humans…every day, all day.  We have more to fear by failing at this than we do by having the courage to see and remember, even if just for a brief, beautiful moment.

To learn more about The GROOVE for Kids, check out this amazing video or go to:  theworldgroovemovement.com

 

 

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The Violence of Insecurity

If you’ve ever seen your teenage child in juvenile detention clothes, you can bet that you’ve also beaten yourself up about where you went wrong as a parent.  You’ve questioned, you’ve searched the timeline back to the beginning, pondering how things might have gone differently if you had just…

And, if you’ve learned anything at all in your time here on this beautiful mindfuck of a planet, you have learned that parenting isn’t about YOU.  It is the farthest thing from that.  It is the one thing we willingly enter into that leaves us more vulnerable, out of control, fearful and shattered than any other encounter we could possibly experience.  Some of us have been under the illusion that when we had our children, they would make us feel good about ourselves by their perfect behavior, their beauty, their talents, their grades, their jobs, etc.  Some found out the hard way that parenthood never promised any of that, yet I’ve seen maternal and paternal feathers ruffled at the sobering realization that we don’t always get the children we dreamt up in our minds, but we always get the children we NEED along with the lessons they were sent to teach us.

Allow me to elaborate so as not to be misunderstood.  During all three of my pregnancies, I believed I was having a boy.  I still believe my first child was a boy, but I will never know.  Maybe the next two were wishful thinking – wishing I could take back a decision I made when I was 16 that I didn’t want to have to make.  Maybe it was because I just always vibed better with boys growing up and thought I would be a better mother to boys than girls.  Maybe I was afraid of girls.  For whatever reasons, God hand-delivered two daughters into my arms.  I have always been proud of my daughters and loved them madly.  They were never a disappointment.  But I had boys engrained in my mind.  Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I think deep down inside, I WANTED a boy (and oh how I miss the one I never got to hold), but God knew I NEEDED girls (and then he put a cherry on top by giving me two unexpected redheads!).  I don’t even fully understand why still.  I just know that that having two daughters (and also my relationship with their girlfriends) has helped me grow in ways that would not have been quite as impactful with boys.

Being a youth mentor and having worked with teens long before my daughters entered that magically twisted age, you like to think you have a few things figured out (Ha! Ha!).  When you do this work, you have to constantly check your ego and sometimes give it a good ass-whooping so as not to get too fancy with your expectations of yourself and those you are working with.  You can’t force anyone to change or to be something they are not or don’t want to be.  You might see all their potential, but you can’t make them see it or act on it.  We can only “save” or “fix” ourselves and to think we have the power to fix or save another human being is..well, arrogantly insane.

I often wonder how God must feel when he looks at his children (including myself) and shakes His head thinking:  “If you could only see what I see.”  

It’s so easy to look at our mistakes as parents and attack ourselves, thinking we have somehow failed our children.  Do we sometimes, fail them?  Do some parents wreck them with emotional, physical and other horrific kinds of abuses?  Of course.  I wish I had answers and explanations for why these things happen.  All I know is that the more we focus on being “good parents”, the the more we make it about ourselves and less about our children.

Ironically, our parental sensitivities and the fact that we care so much about doing right by our children can leave us vulnerable to succumbing to the expectations and opinions of others, rather than listening to our own parenting instincts.  NO ONE knows your children and their needs better than you do, but how often do we question and doubt our decisions when made on the behalf of these young lives?  I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it absolutely terrifying that a perfect, omnipotent God put my silly ass in charge of two of His most incredible creations.   And then I remind myself that I’m not doing this alone.  Our intuition is the most important thing we have as parents and as anything on this planet.  That intuition is basically your relationship with the source of all things.  I call Him God.  You call Him whatever you like, but it’s that calm, confident voice that is always speaking to you and showing you things that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.  We can’t hear that voice when we are listening to the limited opinions of others.  We have to silence those voices and dismantle the violent, crippling dominon we have given them over our God-given ability to help our children navigate through youth and into adulthood.

I want to offer all of us an outstretched, compassionate hand and ask you to forgive yourself for anywhere you feel you have failed you children as a parent.  I believe God already knew every screw-up we would make, but He has a plan for all of it…and we’re all a work in progress.  You don’t owe other parents an apology or explanation and while we may sometimes owe our children apologies, we don’t know how God will use even our worst parenting mistakes as fertilizer for bountiful fruit in their lives.

I’ve watched my baby suffer some things over the last year or so and watched her make poor choice after poor choice, not because she is a bad person and not because she has “bad parents”.  She is a phenomenal creature with a deep gift for empathy and compassion. She is also a human being in a phase of life with an underdeveloped capacity for reason and rationale in a body that is overly-hormonal who is trying to make sense of life and doesn’t always know what to do with all of the pain, fear and confusion inside of her.  She is doing great things in life and I have no doubts that she will continue to do so for all of her days.  But she’s struggling and the judgement and shaming from her peers and other parents isn’t helping her in any way.

Shame never motivated anyone…EVER.  It never set any human being on a path of greatness and growth. We are killing each other with our insecurities and lack of intuition.  So again, I want to ask us all to forgive ourselves and if you really want to motivate and help in the world, check in with yourself and the source of all things beautiful and great before you utter a word or take a step.  Our words and deeds are lasting in this life, so please choose wisely.  It is truly a matter of life and death.

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WHY, Not WHAT.

For as long as I can recall, I’ve been working with teens on some level.  As I was exiting my own teenage years, I stepped into a mentor role for youth that has remained a passion and a calling on my life.  I don’t foresee that passion or calling ever changing.

Those years for me were like most people’s ascent into adulthood:  an emotional shit storm lined with occasional fluffy clouds and blue skies of irresponsible fun and poor choices you didn’t get busted for.  In addition to the typical storms, there were natural disasters also going on behind the scenes that most people didn’t see that made the weather of this stage of life even more tumultuous for me and my family.

The aftermath of sexual abuse from multiple abusers heaped a special kind of destruction that left a tremendous amount of clean up for the adult years.  Once given enough time under fair weather skies, the deepest pain throughout all of the abuse was exhumed and examined.  Ironically, what felt like a death, brought forth new life and it gave me a gift that I feel compelled to share with the world, despite the fact that much of the world does not want to hear it.

Society is shut down and numb, yet suffering like never before.  There are many people with similar stories to my own out there, and far worse, who either don’t remember or are disconnected with their own story of sexual trauma….and there are more of them than most might think.  And then there are those who have never experienced sexual trauma.  It has become my observation (in most cases) that, unless you have experienced sexual trauma personally and are willing to connect to that dark part of your story in order to rise from the ruins of it (or have had some quality training and education on how sexual trauma effects a human being, especially in the developmental years), you are at great risk of contributing to the further demise of a young person who has already suffered greatly and unnecessarily.

It happens all the time.  A young girl or boy is neglected, gets molested or abused in some other way.  Or maybe they lost a parent to death, jail or addiction.   Either way, it is more than any child can or should have to endure.  They act out because they have no idea how to process or communicate their pain, anger or fear.  Somehow, they are expected to know how to navigate through incomprehensible agony by adults who have quickly forgotten what it is to be a powerful, child of God in a young, fragile human body and emotional mind.  We (adults) heap pressure on them to “act right” in order to make us feel good about ourselves or because we don’t want to have to deal with the drama of a child with unmet needs.  We won’t tolerate any “bad” behavior from them.  We might mean well.  But we fail these kids so tragically so often when we only look at what’s happening on the outside.  We are sometimes their last life line and yet, how many times have we – teachers, parents, neighbors, coaches, pastors, etc.-  lacked the ability to see them through God’s eyes in order to see the WHY instead of focusing on the WHAT?

There is no such thing as a “bad child”.  We all pretend to know this, but we are still so quick to gossip and judge other people’s kids who are doing things we don’t approve of…things we may have done at another time and place or things our own kids are doing that we may or may not know about.  We unknowingly teach our kids to call the pregnant middle school girl or the high school girl with the bad reputation names without asking what or WHO might have possibly gotten her there.  There are far more cases of childhood sexual abuse than most people are aware of.  We complain about how kids act these days…the lack of respect, the way they are always on their phones, and so forth.  Call me crazy, but last time I checked, WE, the adults, are the ones at the steering wheel, so why are we faulting THEM?

I believe everyone has a wellspring of good inside of them and most people mean well and want the same things for their families, their communities and this world.   Despite the good we may all possess, we cannot afford to rest on our good intentions and the fact that we pay our bills, tithe now and then and meet our kids’ basic needs. I don’t claim to have all the answers to all the problems.  But I know one thing for certain…WE NEED THE EYES OF GOD in a desperate way.  We, as a society, are failing our kids…kids who are quickly becoming adults who will either raise the vibration on the planet or lower it.   If we can only see them through our own stories, our own limited understanding and our own opinions, we are alldoomed to repeat painful cycles of mediocrity and joyless lives in the upcoming generations.

Our children are taking their own lives, suffering from obesity, depression and anxiety.  They are over-medicated, often times unnecessarily.  They are reaping the affects of the greed of big food and big pharma companies attempting to pass off poison as healthy products for the purpose of keeping them medicated, addicted and in need of health services they wouldn’t otherwise need.  All the while, we adults are numbing out, on reality TV, alcohol, drugs, Facebook, overworking or whatever our own drug of choice may be because we don’t know how to stop the Tsunami that is consistently gaining height and momentum.

How many many of our children may have a sensitive, empathic spiritual gift that feels like a curse instead?  If those gifts are not honored as such, they will view the very thing that makes them unique and perfect as a threat to their basic survival.  Rejection is a very real fear that equates to death on many levels and in many cultures.

Our children are over-exposed to intense pressures of perfection and under spiritual attack by the music and media of our culture that is constantly violating their truth and authentic beauty.   If I had a dollar for every time I heard teachers and other professionals preach to my kids (or other kids) about college, grade point averages and homework, I would be as rich as the corporate dicks who have our government in their pockets for their own disgusting agendas.  I’m not saying those things are not important, but if we can stop long enough to look a child in the eyes and ask some questions before we speak, we might learn that SAT scores and scholarships are not an acceptable solution for a child who secretly feels that death is a better option than college.

As I said, I do not have all the answers.  But if we don’t start looking at WHY our children are making certain choices or behaving in certain ways, the WHAT will continue to be a cancer to our society.  The only real cure is love.  The question is…What kind of love are we putting out into the world these days and can we do better?

 

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Stirring the Pot

It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 months since I’ve returned from Barcelona.  To be quite honest, I’m having a hard time accepting where I’m at right now, as opposed to where I wanted to be at this point.    I came back with a fire lit under me by some of my new tribe and, as life sometimes does, it threw a blanket over that fire and smothered it down to a faint smolder.   I’ve been moving back and forth between being hard on myself and being too soft.  I’m either busting my ass or hiding under my covers daydreaming about a different reality, paralyzed by a fear that holds me in my bed too long, fearful of more unexpected throat punches around corners that would otherwise seem safe.  I’m tired of having my breath stolen from my chest (and not in a good way) and I just want a break.  But apparently, God has something important for me and we don’t have time to take a break.

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It hasn’t been all bad.  I am grateful for so much in my life…even the heartaches and struggles.  I know they all have something to teach me.  As I look back on these first 8 months of 2017, I cannot help but feel a twinge of pride and accomplishment at what has been manifested so far.  I set some big goals for myself in January and I have actually exceeded my expectations and the year isn’t over.  At the same time, there are other goals yet unmet and time is closing in.  It isn’t just a matter of wanting to feel good about reaching a goal.  I HAVE TO MAKE SOME THINGS HAPPEN.  So there’s this demon stirring the pot of all my accomplishments, reminding me that the main ingredients are still missing and laughing at me while I plant and hunt and come up empty handed yet again.  Sometimes, I just want to scream in terror and slam that pot against the wall and order take out.

But I know I was meant for more  I know that what I have been cooking up is not just for me – it was meant to feed the world.  Every failed attempt, every missed ingredient, every time the elements ruin my harvest, every time I’ve gone hungry, I’ve been gaining wisdom and learning how to be nourished even by the sight of a bare table…or no table at all.

I have learned so much about myself in these last 8 months…that was part of the plan.  But it’s easy to discount that inner work because the world doesn’t know how to measure it.  We forget that there is joy in tossing an unmeasured amount of seasoning into the pot for the sake of experimentation and adventure.  We laud the chef for the taste and presentation of the food but we don’t see all that went behind the finished product.  We don’t appreciate what we can’t measure.  So my failures and my inner healing work behind the scenes just looks like immobility to the outside world.  It is my own responsibillity and the responsibility of each of us to determine and acknowledge the truth:  that there has never been more movement and vibrational currency being exchanged than in those moments behind the swinging kitchen doors where the process is happening.

There have been plenty of days where I have been blinded by fear and feelings of inadequacy. But 99% of the time, I push through it and just start cooking and see where it takes me.  Some days, I burn the shit out of things.  Other days, I create magic.  Whatever the case may be, the nourishment lies in the push.  That is where we get to taste all the flavors of life.  The bitter, the sweet, the spicy, the salty.  We all have our preferences, but the taste of the most unpleasant experiences are what make the sweetness of life taste even sweeter.

My kitchen has been a mess this last month.  I’ve come up short and dropped half of the ingredients on the floor.  But today is a new day and I am learning.  That’s what it is all about and I need this reminder constantly so that I can stop and be nourished by the process without trying to mandhandle the outcome into submission.  We all have to push through the heat of the kitchen at times.  Today, I’m taking a moment to send out nourishment and beauty to each and every one of you so that we may all push with the force of love instead.  We never know what is coming around the corner or how much time we have left to enjoy the little things.  Be kind to yourself.  Be well.  Be Nourished.

 

A New Standard of Love

Within minutes upon arriving at the Lifestyle Engineering House in Barcelona, where 14 total strangers would be residing together for the next 30 days, I felt like I had arrived home.  We were from different parts of the world, ranging from ages 9 – 48.  Everyone there made me feel appreciated for who I was and we all crafted a safe space that made room for everyone’s authentic flavor.  I was about to have the college experience I never had, only 30 years later and minus the late night vomiting and other events resembling scenes from Animal House.  I was also about to make some very special friends who would be instrumental in shaping the successful, evolved professional human that I am becoming.

Among this house full of epic professional human beings, was Love and Relationship Coach and former Stand-Up Comedian, Daniel Packard.  He was constantly making all of us laugh over those life-changing 30 days in Spain.  He also had a way of bringing healing tears to the surface and sometimes he did both of these simultaneously.  He made himself available to EVERYONE.  I don’t know how many times I saw him strike up a conversation without someone at a party or a workshop and the next thing you know, they would be off in some corner chatting for the next hour with him listening intently, asking powerful questions and the other person pouring their soul out in ways that don’t come easy to most people.

But Daniel is more than his important work.  I saw someone who had been doing a tremendous amount of healing and inner work that had propelled him up to a mountaintop with a view that, once discovered, cannot be unseen.  I didn’t personally witness what that upward journey was like for him, but I can guess it was no casual skip on a paved path of roses.  At best, it was a brutal, lonely climb with frequent uncertainty about where and how to proceed through the elements.  But now, here this man stood at a mountaintop of self-love that it took nearly a life time to reach and there was no going back for him.  Witnessing his ability to honor himself by lovingly communicating what he needed from others without passing judgment was like having a match thrown onto my gasoline-soaked heart.  I wanted more of that kind of love for myself and from myself.

I’ve been dating for several years now after being with the same man for 23 years.  I have learned much about myself and others from my courting adventures and I’m still learning and growing through this experience.  I seek always to remain open even when I get hurt…and the hurts of my life have left some pretty deep wounds and beautiful scars.  As much as I want to stay open, I can find plenty of reasons to throw a wall up around my heart in order to protect it from being hurt any more that it already has.  But there is another part of me that is more courageous than that.  That part of me knows how to strip off her armor, throw down her sword and whisper (in a sexy, raspy voice) “Come at me, Baby.”  to the swinging blades that sometimes fly too close for comfort.

From our many conversations and Daniel’s sincere interest in stretching my capacity for self-love, he was helping me to step more firmly into the strength of emotional nakedness.  The kind of nakedness that separates the professionals of the human experience from the amateurs.  Daniel challenged me in several situations that arose during that month to put myself out there and take some risks.  I accepted his challenges and not all of my attempts had pleasant outcomes.  Some were very painful but he was there to encourage me to pick my ass up and try again.

After several let-downs, I was facilitating a final dance party in one of the Barcelona plazas that Daniel and many other MVU tribe members attended.  As we were winding down, Daniel approached me to apologize for not showing up in his usual, full-tilt energy (And, if you’ve seen his amazing dance moves, you know exactly what I’m talking about!).  I was simply thrilled that he and other people were there and that was all I needed.  As I proceeded to share that thought with him, he stopped me with a piercing look in his eyes and put his hands on my shoulders, forcing me to look back at him and see what I wasn’t understanding.  Then he said “I’m trying to love you from my standard of loving, not from the standard you’ve been used to.”  I could hear my brain firing warning shots to my mouth: “Say something quick to deflect this madness!” But I was staring into the eyes of truth and there was nothing I could to deny it.  I also knew that he was no longer going to tolerate watching me grasp for breadcrumbs when he and I both knew I was worthy of a king’s feast at the finest of tables.  So I kept my mouth shut, smiled and allowed his loving, healing words their rightful place on the wounds of my heart.  Those sincere words are a balm that will last a lifetime.

Through his friendship and his skills as a coach, he reminded me that if I want to show up as love in the world, I am going to have to risk some rejections and undesired outcomes.  He also reminded me that the rejections don’t have to be unpleasant at all.  I just need to detach from the outcome.  These reminders ignited powerful questions of my own that were rooted in “enoughness”.  What if, I just gave love and stopped needing anything in particular to happen as a result?  What if a compliment to a stranger or flirting with a man I’m attracted to were offered up simply because I want to put out something good in the world?  What if the gift became the same thing as the action?

What if “The gift of loving a person is…loving a person.”?

Love will always involve some risk.  That is one thing that makes it so damn worthwhile when it goes the way we want it to. But it’s worth it even when it doesn’t go well and when it hurts like hell.  That’s where we refine the art of loving and it is the only way that we can create true, lasting beauty on this planet.

To learn more about Daniel Packard and all that he has to offer, go to:  https://www.danielpackard.com