The Eyes of a Student

The first time I saw him, there was just something about him that I couldn’t ignore.  I will admit, I have become somewhat desensitized to homelessness.  You see it all the time and you can’t stop and chat or give out food, water, etc. to every homeless soul on the street, so I sometimes turn my blinders on and plow past like I didn’t see them.  I had just passed several homeless men on the streets of Barcelona on my spirited dance-walk back to my temporary living space.  I was in my own little bubble, feeling good about the day’s events and the people I’ve been connecting with.  My spirit was full.  But then I saw them…and it reminded me that there is much work left to be done.  Part of me just wanted to be in my feel-good box and not have that space be disrupted.  But I know better.

Then I saw the little old man on the corner.  He had set up a space on the sidewalk near an intersection with his sign and a few belongings.  I couldn’t read the sign because I don’t speak or read Spanish.  His face and clothes were dirty.  He looked indifferent standing there.  Or maybe I mistook indifference for the feeling of emptiness or loss.  Either way, there was also something very kind in his eyes.  As I said, I was putting up my protective wall by not making eye contact so I didn’t have to feel the heaviness of their story.  I tend to feel a lot from other people and sometimes I just want to protect myself from that.   I love smiling into people’s eyes and sending that smile into their spirit, but when there is that kind of heaviness or suffering, that can be harder to do when you want to cling to life’s good “highs”.  I’m working on breaking through that.  So I allowed myself to make eye contact.  I smiled at him, feeling a little sad that all I had to give him in that moment was a smile.  But I saw something light up in him when I did.  It was like a switch had been hit and the “I’ve been acknowledged” light went on inside of him.

And then I remembered, I had a banana in my bag that I hadn’t eaten yet.  So I gave him another smile and handed it to him.  Now he was looking like a kid on Christmas morning!   I would like to believe that the shift in his expression had little to do with the banana.  Since that day, I’ve been seeing him on that corner as I sashay my way to and from workshops and events and I’ve decided to focus my love and attention on him for the rest of my time here.  Every day, I am prepared and ready to leave him a little nugget of encouragement or support should I see him.  And every time I see him, he gives me a gift in return.  He says thank you with his wide eyes and reminds me that all we want and need is to be seen and acknowledged.  Everyone deserves that and it’s not too much to ask.  We don’t have to agree with a person…we don’t even have to like them, but we are responsible for how we treat others and we owe it to our brothers and sisters on this planet to allow them their human experience and to respect the fact that they are doing their best with what they have.

It is not our place to judge or condemn.  We all have something valuable to teach each other and much to learn.  There are teachers all around us, but we won’t see them if we don’t have the eyes of a student.

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What predators are willing to do for our kids that we may not be…

There’s so much I want to share with you about my first week here in Barcelona at Mindvalley University but doing so would resemble a dissertation just tell the short version, so I’m going to just say that I’m in the company of some of the most bad-ass game-changers and freedom-hustlers I’ve ever met who are all inspiring me to be a better, stronger person and giving me enormous doses of love and support with my work as well.  As you know, I’m very passionate about creating opportunities for humans to connect and become total PROs at being fully present as human beings on planet earth, so this is a dream for me to be in this space with other people who are passionate about similar things.

In this first week, I’ve been inspired by several people to create more out of what I’m already doing and I’ve had some things come up that I can’t wait to share with you around this.  But I have something heavy on my heart, so right now I just want to get real with you and drop some truth about “that thing”.

I want to give you a little breakdown of how easily a pimp lures a young child into sex trafficking. (In case you were not aware, the average age of entry into prostitution in America is 12-13 years of age.)  It doesn’t take much really.  All they need to do is find a young girl or boy with low self-esteem.  Predators can spot them a mile away and they know exactly what to say and do to get them exactly where they want them.  That’s it.  Yes, it’s true that some of the victims have suffered abuse or come from low-income families, severe neglect, etc. but it can happen to ANYONE…that also means YOUR child, boy or girl.  They find kids who are confused and don’t know their value and they pour into them with support, gifts, they listen to them and show compassion and understanding and they make them feel loved and like they belong somewhere.

Imagine your are a child who thinks all of your friends hate you or don’t understand you.  Imagine feeling alone and then having some dude come along and fulfill many of your emotional needs.  You’re going to begin to trust and adore that person and be grateful for them because now you don’t feel so alone.  You might even fall in love with that person.  And then imagine that person tells you one day that he needs you to do this “one little thing”, which would be selling your body, for a while so that the two of you could run away together and live happily ever after.  You aren’t sure you like that idea so he applies whatever pressure tactics he needs to, whether it be emotional manipulation or physical force and the next thing you know, this child who just wanted to be understood and loved (like we all do) is now being raped and used every day for someone else’s pleasure.

Why am I telling you all this?  It’s not to dump a trauma bomb on you and ruin your day but it is meant to disrupt your comfort zone.  What I keep struggling with is how the hell did we get here?  How is it that clever, hard-working pimps and predators are pouring more into our kids than we are?  They are willing to do for these kids what we are not and that is why we are losing them, not just to things like sex trafficking but also to drug addiction, suicide and just plain and simple apathy.  Where has our community gone?  We as parents are so concerned about what people will think of our kids or of us as parents and grades, and performance driven outcomes (and let’s face it, that fear is real because the gossip and slander and insecurities in our communities are a cancerous road to isolation that none of us want to experience) that we keep quiet and we don’t reach out FOR help or TO help.  As long as we are in that place, we are going to continue to lose our children.

Imagine what we could do for them if we were willing to pour into them what gangs, pimps and predators pour into them.  Imagine how the thumbprint of your community might look and feel different.  When we pour into them, we pour into ourselves and into the entire planet.  It’s an outrage that such smart, clever people are working so hard to output suffering on the world.  We have to create a shift, which means we have to become a little more courageous and vulnerable.  What does that look like for you?  How can you pour into, not just your own child, but maybe your child’s friends or some kid you know who is struggling in certain ways?

We can learn something from these assholes and start beating them at their own game.  They are not as powerful as we might think and though human trafficking is globally, the fastest growing form of organized crime, it is not bigger than our capacity to love and create beauty.  Anything is possible.  Every time one of our children suffers, we all suffer, every time one of us wins, we all win.  Please join me today in prayer for the empowerment of our youth and for the strengthening of families and community all across the globe.  The simple, yet powerful act of prayer can be enough to move mountains, so start there.

What is possible for you is what is possible for you.

It is there every morning to greet me when I wake up and there every night to influence my dreams…a little wall hanging that reads “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE”.   I see it and it inspires me, but I often forget about it once I leave the house.  And when I’m out there moving and shaking, those words grow smaller and smaller in my mind as the day wears on.  I hadn’t realized how much of its meaning had gotten lost for me along the road of struggle, disappointment, frustration, and heartache until the opportunity of a life time blew me a kiss.

I didn’t recognize her at first.  She came in disguise and just appeared one day across my laptop screen in the form of a video from Mindvalley Academy.  This is when she reached into my soul and stirred violently until a flood of emotions was boiling over and pouring out of me.  Of the many emotions being released into this spiritual broth being created before my eyes, the main ingredient was DESIRE.  A BURNING, UNSTOPPABLE LONGING.  I listened to Mindvalley Academy founder, Vishen Lakhiani, talk about a whole new concept on education that brings people of all ages, backgrounds, places and experiences together for 1 month every year to learn, network and grow together by immersing themselves in workshops and programs given by some of the most influential leaders, entrepreneurs, authors/speakers, spiritual teachers and healers in the world.  He called it Mindvalley University.

I was in love.  I put my daughters in front of my laptop and shared it with them.  I posted it on social media, I talked about it to others.  I was celebrating the positive shift of consciousness that this was going to create in the Universe…and that shift was already in motion.  As much as my heart burned for it, I think my original thought around it was that I was happy to see it was an option for people because many educational systems are not conducive to the needs of every learner.  I was missing the very important element that this could ever be an option for ME.

As the months went by and I saw emails and posts on how this whole thing was shaping up, I burned for it in a more personal way.  2017 has been a year of personal growth and creating for me.  I’ve been turning inward, working on myself and ways that i’ve been getting in my own way.  I’ve been exploring new territory, manifesting with more intention, building a deeper connection with my intuition and creating new content.  As a result, there isn’t much on my calendar right now and my bank account is looking more and more like a book of bad jokes as a result.  But something inside of me was beginning to feel a more intense energetic pull toward this Mindvalley University dream.

Within the last couple of months, I have manifested many blessings in my life and my life has begun to look and feel different in unexpected ways.  So a couple of weeks ago, upon receiving another email about this amazing opportunity that is taking place in beautiful Barcelona, Spain, I decided I would at least fill out an application for shits and giggles.

Keeping in mind that they were only accepting 400 applications out of thousands and that the kind of people who are associated with Mindvalley Academy are serious Freedom Hustlers and Game-Changers on the planet, this all felt a bit intimidating.  As I read through the information they were seeking, I did that thing I always do.  I doubted myself and tried to tell myself no.  As I read their request for “some accomplishments you are most proud of” my heart sank.  And my inner chatter sounded something like this:

Terrified, Lame, Ego-Driven Self:  “Looks like you’re done here.  You haven’t done anything impressive that anyone is going to see as an accomplishment.”

Bad Ass Self:  (After a brief moment of rapidly deflating energy)  “The Hell I haven’t!”  Hold my cape while I remind you about the fire I’ve been walking through for the last 6 years:  I got out of an unhealthy marriage, despite the fact that I still had mad love for him and never wanted to see my family break up.  But sometimes, you are left with few options and I had to take the one that wasn’t going to eventually destroy us all.  It cost me much to get my personal freedom back and take control of my life.  I started out with no job, no child support, no place to live and few possessions, but I had a purpose and a mission already in place and I never stopped moving towards it.  I knew nothing about running a business, but chose that challenging route knowing that I was going to struggle financially in the beginning no matter what, so I had better make sure I love what I do and that it means everything to me or it won’t be enough to get me out of bed in the morning.  And I’ve been getting out of bed every day with a joyful, passionate heart, even when I’m terrified and broke.  And it hasn’t always been pretty, but I’m still here doing my thing six years later and my daughters are getting first-hand schooling in what an awakened, authentic life looks like (and hopefully I’ve also taught them plenty about what NOT to do through my impressive collection of failures).  I’d say that’s an accomplishment worth recognizing.”

Terrified, Lame, Ego-Driven Self:  “Fine, whatever, but look they want a website and you still haven’t finished yours.  And what are you thinking anyway, you can’t afford this?  This is for successful people who already make big money and can afford to take off for a month.  Filling this application out is just irresponsible and you’re gonna look stupid!”

Bad Ass Self:  “I’m not taking off for a month – this is a month of work, of being way out of my comfort zone and being influenced by people who are further along the path than I am…this is where real shit happens.  I’m sending it and you won’t stop me this time.”

Terrified, Lame, Ego-Driven Self:  (Silence…crickets in the background).

Is this sounding familiar to anyone?  I still didn’t have the whole picture of HOW all of this would happen, but the YES from the Universe resounded the moment I hit the “submit application” button.  “Submit” indeed.  Right after I saw that my application had been sent, I wept uncontrollably.  It was very clear to me right then that everything was already in motion and that I would be in Barcelona in a few short weeks.

Now if anyone reading this is tempted to think that this was easy for me, let me turn that notion on its ass real quick.  This opportunity did not just fall into my lap.  I had to say yes to a lot, which isn’t always easy for me (or most people).  I had to say yes to believing it could even be a possibility.  I had to say yes to the unknown.  I had to say yes to the dance with my fear and anxiety that was plaguing me, especially around being away from my daughters for a whole month.  I had to say yes to a month of very little income stream and rescheduling some things.  I had to say yes to being out of my comfort zone, not speaking the language and traveling alone (this is a woman who used to be afraid to drive in DC, let alone travel across the globe by herself).  God took care of HOW, but I had to do my part to believe and agree to that undeniable longing that never lies.  That is true for all of us.

If we are going to be the most professional humans we can be on this planet, we have to say yes to things that our minds are often wanting to say no to in order to protect us from any possible unpleasantries.  I am willing to take some risks and I’m learning to take bigger onKD Paddle boardes.  This is an opportunity that I simply cannot pass up and I already know it will bring far more emotional, spiritual, professional and personal return than what it will ever cost me.  The real truth is this:  All it cost me was one word “YES”.

Anyone can do what I’m doing…the biggest step is saying yes to the possibility.  I want a life that makes me and everyone else uncomfortable.  I want a life that stretches me so I can look back and see how I’ve grown and be reminded in magical ways that faith works.  I want and choose life.  Our big risks and choices will come in different shapes and sizes for all of us, only you can say if you are playing a big enough game.  But the real questions is:  Are you even playing at all?

What is possible for you?  What will you say yes to today?

To learn more about Mindavalley University and Mindvalley Academy, check this out:

GROWING SOME COMPASSION

For the last week or so, I’ve felt less than compassionate towards others and that has not left me feeling very pleased with myself.  Most people would describe me as a very compassionate person and I’ve always delighted in that because, well….who wouldn’t want to be known for such a gracious quality?  But any professional human knows that we are not all that we or others hype us up to be on Facebook, at the networking event, in the church lobby, etc.  So, I really need to drop some truth and get my bitchy attitude off my chest and hopefully out of the atmosphere.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have moments when I’ve been sitting with someone else’s struggles or pain either from afar or in person and thought “I’m sorry, were you talking?  I was having trouble hearing you over the sound of my heart shattering into 4,627,331 pieces over my own troubles.”  Nice, huh?  It’s not really that I don’t care about them, it’s that, in that moment, I’m not fully aware that I’m giving all or most of my energy to my own hurts and fears, which will only expand them.  I’ve overcome many heartbreaking and frightening situations in life and it’s not so much the situations themselves that can potentially leave me feeling like I have forgotten how to care.  It’s really about the disconnect from the source of all good things (I call him God) that has brought me to those moments when I just don’t know how to care about anything else but ME.  It’s harder when you are in your own crisis to step outside of it and see other people’s needs.  When you feel ignored or stuck, when you are standing in a shit storm of fear and worry, when you feel shamed and humiliated by where you are in life, it can shut down compassion faster than an Air Supply song could wreck a make out session.

Ironically and thankfully, what we need most has a way of finding us at the perfect time and help came rushing in right before I got knocked off my ass by a Tsunami of self-pity and apathy that I could see coming right at me.  I am a part of a group called Synergy Circle that is led by Magic Maker and founder of Joy Rising, Trish Kapinos.  This is a group of Goddesses with hearts wide open who are on a mission to create more abundance for everyone and to raise the vibration and consciousness on this big, beautiful planet.  I was already soured by the fact that I was not able to join in on the monthly call we had yesterday and it was all going downhill fast from there.  But when I played back the recorded call, I got exactly what I needed simply by listening in on these brilliant, wise women.   And that’s probably what God was after:  “Shut up and listen, Karen…my heart is broken too and I am watching my children suffer in ways you will never have to know about, so get over yourself and let me pour some beauty over your bitterness.”

And shortly into the call, I got the message I needed:  The question was asked “Where are you finding difficulty being compassionate towards yourself?  As I pondered that thought, Trish interjected something that hit me exactly as what I imagine a throat punch would feel like:  “If you aren’t sure where you are not showing compassionate to yourself, just take a look at where you are not willing to show compassion towards others.”  OUCH.

As I sat there thinking about my recent case of apathy, I cringed at the irony of how everything I do revolves around pulling people out of that very ditch and replacing it with passion and purpose.  Apathy is a murderous emotion and I have often failed to delight in people who show up bleeding indifference all over themselves and others.  I tend to get jacked up and vigilant towards apathy and the path of rationalizations it can lead us down…rationalizations that send us chasing things that don’t really mean anything to us and that take us away from our truth.  But here I sit, smothering my heart with lackluster thoughts that are killing one of my best qualities.  So, Trish’s question forced me to chase after the root of where my lack of compassion was growing from and it literally only took about 60 seconds to get there (That’s the beauty of powerful questions!  They get you where you want to go and often rather quickly).

I figured out that I have been afraid of heaping any more pain on my heart – my own pain or someone else’s.  I have taken on some heavy loads, including other people’s stuff, and that just never works for anyone.  Despite my awareness of this, I have not always known how to care without getting sucked in or carrying other people’s crosses.  So I have been running from it altogether.  Brilliant.  I have been spending so much energy trying to hold some of my hurts in that I am rapidly losing real estate to hold space for others.  I’ve never been afraid of going into the dark, painful places with other people or even with myself.  I have found myself avoiding it more for the sake of being able to function and do what I need to do in life without falling apart every other hour.  Humans do things like that.  Humans can grow apathetic because they just don’t want to hurt anymore and when we disconnect, there is nowhere else to take the pain, the disappointments, the shame, the anger, etc.  Humans do these things…humans like ME and like the ones I have been witholding compassion from.  Now that nasty little magnifying mirror was being held right in my face, like a sticky reminder note: “Don’t get it twisted, Karen.  You are not more enlightened or wise or passionate than your clients…you ARE your clients.  How’s that for compassion?”

In the midst of all the chaos that turned my attention from the creator of compassion itself, I have somehow forgotten that, as professional humans, we are not as apathetic as we might pretend to be.  We do care.  We can’t help it – it’s who we are.  But caring without connection is like a plant without water or sunshine.  We can’t grow that gift by avoiding the elements.  We only choke and wither…and then we die.  So, today I’m choosing life.  I’m coming at the rain with an open mouth and outstretched arms and I’ll gladly bogart as much Vitamin D as I please.  There’s enough for everyone.

WEIRD…It’s the New Sexy

I’ve been receiving a recurring message from God and it’s being made very clear that He wants me to share it with you in my own special way.  So here it is:

YOU.ARE.FREAKING.WEIRD!

No shade being thrown here.  This is not my opinion.  It is solid truth and it is imperative that we get our beautiful minds wrapped around it.  If you look up the definition of “weird” in any dictionary this is what you will find:

Weird18011116_1045652262244926_8937673159322161434_n

(Adjective) 1. Suggesting something supernatural, unearthly or uncanny.  2. Of strange or extraordinary character.

(Noun)  1.  A person’s destiny.

That means you are a spiritual, extraordinary and unique creature.  Pretty cool, huh?  That’s because WE are pretty cool.  We come in a divine assortment of colors, shapes, quirks, preferences, talents, beliefs, gifts and mannerisms that make each of us the perfect freaks that we are.

Unfortunately, most of us are not born connected to our inner weirdo and it takes time and often some direct battles with it in order to appreciate it for the gift it brings to the world.  As human beings, we want to stand out and yet we often do or say things (or keep silent) in order to fit in or be liked and accepted by other members of society. Isolation and rejection are some of our greatest fears and for good reason.  In past societies and in some current cultures, being rejected equates to certain death.  Despite the fact that we all deeply desire the freedom to rock our uniqueness, we are often sifting through the clearance racks for that kind of freedom.  It doesn’t occur to most of us at first that there is usually a cost for this kind of freedom that you won’t find while out poppin’ tags at the thrift shop.  It holds an immeasurable kind of price tag because it has unlimited worth.

It is in these early encounters when our weirdness causes us humiliation, punishment, heartache and rejection that we are given loving opportunities to work through our need for others to understand us and appreciate us in all our glory.  We learn to come to terms with the fact that we are all on our own journey and in different places and not everyone has to appreciate where we are…or who we are.  We figure out that we are no less just because other people don’t get us.  That is…if we are mindfully seeking truth and a rise in consciousness over superficial approval.

Let’s talk real for a moment here…Even the most professional of humans like to pretend we don’t care what anyone thinks, but we do.  We are human beings with emotions.  Of course we care.  Pretending we don’t care what anyone thinks is about as much bullshit as a film producer spending scores of dollars, time and energy on a film and insisting no one ever watch it.  We are in a place and time in the Universe that requires us to take off our rebel masks and let people see us.  We cannot have courage without vulnerability and we no longer have the luxury of hiding behind the wall labeled “I don’t care what you think.”  We aren’t fooling anyone anyway.

It doesn’t matter where you are on your journey.  What matters is that you take responsibility for your freaky weird essence.  The world is waiting for you to show up with bold authenticity.  The world is thirsty for YOU, as you are.  You can only be enough in this world if you know who you are and are showing up as exactly that person, otherwise, you are giving us a watered-down version of yourself…and that is never enough.

So my prayer for you and I today is that we can own our “weird” and share it with the world as the gift that it is.   Failure to do this may win us a few extra nods of approval in life, but I promise you, they won’t be worth it.  Take a look around…do you see depression, suicide, addiction, apathy, fear, violence, frustration, anxiety?  Those are symptoms of a serious Vitamin W(eird) deficiency.  And if that isn’t enough to motivate you to embrace that inner freak and let it loose on the world, then let me drop one more truth bomb on you:  It’s just downright SEXY.

Note to Self

Sometimes you just gotta look back at the old mess and let it go…

Dear married, young-mother Karen:

I want you to know that I see you and I know you are doing your best.  Your best has been more than enough.  You are giving so much love and care to so many people, but mostly to your daughters and your husband.  You are showing your girls what it looks like to reach out and love the world and to help people rise up from their ditches.  You love blindly and with reckless abandon – you freely give AGAPE kind of love everywhere you go.  But you sell yourself short.  I know why you do it and it’s a very human response.  I am sending you light and courage.  I want to see you asking for more out of love and life because you are worthy and you are more than capable of managing it and being a good steward of your blessings.

I know why you have allowed yourself to be controlled and manipulated by some of your loved ones, but please do not beat yourself up for that.  You are going to want to do it even more in the future.  You don’t know what is coming down the road.  You will be blamed and judged and condemned, even isolated in some circles.  But please do not allow that to make you believe it was all your fault.  You take too much responsibility for others and I want you to focus on the fact that you figured it out!  You figured out what many never do and you did it amidst a very painful and relentless storm that lasted far longer than it ever should have.  You didn’t run from the storm – you weathered it with grace and strength.  You made some choices through it that you regret, but even some of those choices brought much needed elements of healing.  They brought you things you never had before at a time when you needed to know they were possible.  Otherwise, you may have lost hope.  You received some gifts from those things even though they may not have been the best thing for you – they weren’t all bad and they certainly don’t make YOU bad.  It just means you are human like everyone else.

You did your best and it was enough.  Your love, faith and strength carried your family much farther than most people could’ve taken it.  And all the while, you were giving so much to others as well, but always putting your family and God first.  There is NOTHING for you to be ashamed of.  You did your best and it was beautiful.  Your kids know they are loved.  Your now ex husband knows you loved him more than anyone else ever could or will again.  I know why you kept yourself small in many ways – you were just doing what you’ve been taught to do your whole life…but somehow, you figured it out anyway.  You reached past your conditioning and your “normal” and listened to the burning in your soul that keep rearing up.  You not only heard it, but you acted on it boldly, knowing that it could cost you almost everything.  And it did.

I forgive you for not knowing any better in those early years.  I forgive you for the things you allowed and the things you ignored.  You were surviving.  I want you to know that you are going to learn how to move past surviving and really start to thrive in life.  All that you have desired, all that you have worked so hard for is coming to you.  There will be days when it feels dark and hopeless and scary, but do not lose faith.  There will be chaos, but the chaos is being sent to you as an opportunity for you to work through your stuff and create different outcomes.  Be watching for those opportunities.  The less you run from them, the faster you will get to the other side.  You are a warrior.

I forgive you.  I forgive you.  I am asking you to forgive me also for ignoring you and not acknowledging all that you were carrying and what you managed to accomplish anyway.    Forgive me for failing to see how open and loving you have always been, despite all that has happened in your life.  Forgive me for all the times I have failed to protect you or stand up for you with my voice or my actions.   I need you.  Take my hand, please – let’s not do this alone.

Swimming with Dolphins

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and I haven’t even bought anything for my kids’ Easter baskets yet.  I don’t even know exactly what our plans are and am in no hurry to figure that out.  When my kids were younger, I was that slightly mental mom who had all of the fun holiday and birthday activities and gifts planned out way in advance and parties were being thrown for any and every reason (and sometimes for no reason at all).  My face would often be seen in the elementary school classrooms, lunchrooms, on field trips and behind the concession stand at school functions.  My kids and I were involved in church activities, I was a Brownie troop leader, a Sunday school teacher and there were always picnics and sight-seeing adventures on the agenda.  I loved doing those things with the kids and watching my girls interact with their peers.  I am very fortunate.  I had the privilege of raising my girls and being a full-time mom for the first 12 years of their lives.  And then all hell broke loose.

I became a single mom with literally no income, no degree and almost nothing to start with.  Finding work was not easy, starting a business felt impossible and being away from them often felt unbearable.  It still rattles me to be away from them for any extended period of time.  While I’m physically out doing my thing, my heart is somewhere else out there wondering where all the time went and longing for ways to stretch what little bit of our time we have left of this chapter.  I can accept the inevitable change that will take place in three short years when they will both be out of high school.  I have loved every stage we’ve encountered together and I look forward to each new chapter that awaits us with much enthusiasm (and a little ignorant bliss never hurts either).

But today I can barely muster up the motivation to go do something that I normally would’ve already done weeks ago and I find myself making unfair comparisons between “Full-Time Mom Karen” and “Business Owner Karen”.  Fortunately, I caught this pattern before I went straight-up Chuck Norris on myself.  I decided that I can live with my Easter lameness.  But what I absolutely cannot accept is watching one of my children make consistently poor choices that are putting her in potentially harmful situations.  I cannot accept what is happening to my daughter right before my eyes.

I’ve heard lots of comments and advice.  I know people are genuinely concerned and most people mean well when they offer their insights.  There are also quite a few comments being made that I am completely in agreement with.  The bottom line is this:  It’s a very thin and wobbly tight rope to walk from here.  If you push too hard, she may fall off, but if you don’t push at all, she may just take a flying leap, assuming no one is paying attention.  But it still leaves me with plenty of options in between about how we navigate the next steps that get her to the other side of the circus tent.  I don’t want to just get her there in one piece.  I want to get her there as a rock star living far beyond what she imagined possible.  I want that for all of our kids.  When one of them falls down, we all go down with them, whether we even know them or not.

The last six years as a single parent and business-challenged business owner, have left me feeling like a tiny little boat being thrashed around by provoking waters.  It has taken me a while to understand that I have often given these waves more power than they deserved by trying to fight them instead of siwoman-1369253_1920mply riding them.  I didn’t understand that they were there for my benefit.  They used high tides and salty uppercuts to teach me how to finesses and master my strokes in the water without exhausting my abundant supply of love, joy and light.  The best part is that I haven’t wasted much time taking those new skills and teaching young people how to manage the crazy waters of humanity.  I can also remind them of something I did not see in those dark waters until now…that they are always swimming with dolphins.

We do not have the luxury of believing that we are alone when it seems we are drowning.  That is a bold lie, but if we believe that is our truth, it becomes our truth.  It will require some vulnerability on our part though.  While being vulnerable is not always easy, it is most definitely required if we want to truly be a pro at being a human being on planet Earth.

So, what are you waiting for?  Come on.  Dip your toe in.  Hell, do a cannon ball or a belly flop off the high dive.  The water may NOT always be fine, but you are never alone here.

Parents, if you want to help your teenage daughters learn new skills and create a manual for their own self-care, I highly recommend this upcoming workshop.  For more information, go to:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/know-yourself-an-empowerment-workshop-for-teen-girls-ages-13-18-tickets-33230910548

Bad-Ass Parenting – Not What You Might Think…

Sometimes, I have received very kind compliments from others about me being a “good mom”.   That phrase always made me a little uncomfortable and it would leave me thinking thoughts like: “Clearly they didn’t see me pull into the Taco Bell drive thru last night with both gingers in tow blasting Highway to Hell and cursing at the car in front of us for checking over their 8-mile long receipt 5 times before driving away and liberating our impatient asses from a close brush with death by starvation!  Yeah, maybe I should keep that mom moment to myself if I want to keep my community gold stars.”

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And, rewinding several years back, at the beginning of my new role as a single parent, I found myself making compromises I never thought I would make, which led to even greater feelings of inadequacy and self-shaming as a parent.  It was in these times, that I finally figured out why I had so much trouble with the phrase “good mom”.  It occurred to me that, if my goal is to be a “good mom” then the goal is focused on me, not my daughters.  And what  makes a “good mom” anyway?  Who approves those qualifications in the Good Mothering for Dummies manual?  If you gave the manual-approval task to let’s say…Kim Kardashian, J. K. Rowling or your first grade teacher, they would all go to print as very different manuals.  Furthermore, even if we could agree on a standard manual, if my children should make bad choices, does that automatically make me a “bad mom”?  According to some members of society, the answer would be a resounding YES, BITCH!  I see one major problem that I believe has created unnecessary suffering from the notion that we are or are not “good parents”:

When we seek to be good parents, we make it about ourselves and this puts us in danger of having unrealistic expectations on our kids that may have little or nothing to do with their own unique path in life or what they actually need.  Wanna know how I know this?  I can remember on more than one occasion coming down hard on ginger #1 because others were watching and I felt like they were waiting for me to deal with my toddler’s seemingly insubordinate behavior when my mother’s intuition was telling me there was more to it than that and I should dig a little deeper.

Unfortunately, my ego won out many times before I figured out that this child was not simply trying to get her way or rebelling, but that she was painfully shy, sensitive and easily embarrassed and was trying to literally hide from unwarranted punishment or shaming.  In other words, my need for approval from other parents caused me to dish out punishments that didn’t always have an offense attached to it (or that didn’t fit the offense).  This resulted in, not only unwarranted punishment, but it heaped on more of the disapproval she was so desperately trying to avoid.  I’m sure you can imagine what little value any “good mom” compliment might have upon that realization.

Standing in a parent-focused mindset makes moms and dads vulnerable to “performing” for other parents.  If we get caught up in performance, we will inevitably start hiding the things our pride won’t allow us to talk about with other people in the community.  When we drench our children’s taboo behavior or poor choices in secrecy, we give it far greater power than it ever should’ve had and we cut ourselves off from potential support for ourselves and our struggling children.  Ego has a way of putting a gun to our heads and making us believe that we are holding a wisdom dispenser.

It shows up as denial.  It says: “I need things to go smoothly so I can maintain the weight of this fake ass smile that I’m holding up in front of my resting bitch face.”  It says: “I don’t know what to do about my child’s drug addiction, pregnancy, depression, (fill in the blank) and I’m terrified of the rejection and slander we may face from the community.”  It remorsefully cries: “I’ve made some mistakes as a parent and no one would love me if they knew about it.”  And these are thoughts that keep us quiet and keep us doing nothing, hoping it isn’t as bad as we thought and that it might just go away if we close our eyes tight enough.  Wanna know how I know?

What would happen if we eliminated our ideas about what a “good” or “bad” parent is?  How might we be able to support each other through the beautiful and yet, agonizing travels through parenthood and make it a better trip for everyone involved, namely our children?  What would be possible if we could allow ourselves to show up boldly and be willing to receive support but also create a safe space for others to receive it as well?

I don’t mind going first, so stay tuned for more exciting tales about a mom who loves her daughters with reckless and crazy love and who often fails miserably at being the mom she envisioned she’d be the day they came into the world.  If you want to feel better about your parenting skills by comparison, you will find that here for sure.  If you want more for your children, your family and the collective consciousness that spans the Universe, plan on nothing short of an Evolution Revolution.

It’s National Poetry Month!

If you enjoy creative writing or if a challenge makes you feel like a modern day SuperFly,  then you might want to get in on the NaPOWriMO 30/30 Challenge.  Artists, Poets, and every species of Professional Humans are encouraged to write 30 poems in 30 days during the month of April and the site gives out daily writing prompts suggestions to help you stay in the flow.  You don’t have to use them, but I, personally, have always loved reading all the different experiences and perspectives we can all have writing from the same prompt.  The Human Experience is full of color and life, even in written form.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, give it a try.  You never know what might rise up from the depths of your flesh and experience.  As a writer and poet, I often sit down to write something with a clear picture in mind of what I want to communicate and by the time my piece is complete, I am shocked at what is staring back at me on the page!   It is not a rare thing to find myself with gaping jaw, staring at the page (sometimes wet with fresh tear droplets) thinking “Well that took an unexpected turn.”  or “Did I just write that?”  I have often learned things I wasn’t fully aware of about myself through word pictures I have painted.

Writing is more than a professional service or duty for me.  Above all else, it is therapy.  I have been writing ever since I was a child and I believe it’s one of several reasons I’m still on this planet.  Writing helps me breathe.  It reminds me who I am, where I’ve been and where I’m going.  Other people’s writing reminds me I am not alone.  I love the human experience.  It’s not always pretty, but it always puts out beauty, even through the ugliest situations.

Why not put a little beauty on a page today?  You don’t even have to share it with anyone.  You may learn something about yourself.  But beware…you might not like what you learn.  You might find out you are still angry at an old lover, or that your childhood wasn’t all you thought it was.  You might discover that you are terrified of the next phase of your life or that you hate your job more than you thought.  Or you might realize how deeply in love you really are with your spouse or how grateful you are for your children or your lifestyle.  Whatever may be waiting for you on that page, I’m asking you to embrace it and let it inspire you to grow, to want more, to be relentless and intentional about your joy, to face your fears…whatever is required.  What do you have to lose?  Or rather, what might you have to gain?

Brazen sky…pink with fire
Rhythm of rain
Wet with desire
Go catch your life
On the tip of your tongue
Swallow it down
Then take off and run

With no turn of your head
Nor blink of your eye
Just take up your torch
And dance toward that light
Bring it close to your lips
Then push it away
Cast a Gypsy Eclipse On the shadows of day
And rub your flames
Up against the black skies
Undressing the darkness
Disarming the lies

Come fill up your lungs
With a riotous gospel
Now stop…
Blow it forth…
Pass the pipe
To Apostles

(GYPSY ECLIPSE by Karen Davis King)

As a side note, I am already behind on the challenge and the above poem is an old one.  Just keeping it real from one Professional Human to another!

For more information about NaPoWriMo, go to:  http://www.napowrimo.net

 

 

Play, Rewind, Repeat

Remember the days of cassette tapes and vinyl albums?  It wasn’t that long ago, yet those days are far out of our reach and have become distant, pmusic-1436300_1280olaroid memores.  How many times, (for those of us “seasoned” enough to recall) did you pick up that needle and carefully place it back on that same inch of vinyl or rewind that one song that you just couldn’t get enough of, until your album had more scratches than a rockstar’s back or the tape became so unraveled from the confines of its neatly coiled home that no amount of turning those two little wheels could fix it?

Play….rewind….play….rewind…Like toddlers begging for one more ride on Dad’s shoulders, we couldn’t get enough of that one song.  “AGAIN!”  “AGAIN!”    You know the song.  That song that made you feel so Bad Ass that you forgot how awful you were at sports or or roller-skating or whatever you sucked at, your acne and braces disappeared into a cloud of imaginary stage fog and your jeans transformed into spandex…all in a matter of seconds.  For me, it was Nick Gilder’s “Hot Child In the City”.   Every time I hear that song, I am transported back to the 5th grade, sporting my green tough skins and my Foxy Lady Tee-shirt that I wore out as relentlessly as that super hot track on my cassette tape.  I loved the way that song made me feel.  It changed the way I saw myself, at least for that 3 minutes and 35 seconds, but that feeling often hung around long after the song was over…or at least during the minute and 1/2 it would take to rewind the song again.

Fast forward roughly 35 years later…My human tour bus has taken many twists and turns and broken down a number of times, but it has all been worth it because it has brought me right to the front row of Life…living a dream I never would have expected back then.  I am doing more of the work and play that lights my fire and less of the things that extinguish it.  I am in the business of empowering others to become their highest, healthiest selves.  The best part is that my fire is being fueled by YOU.  I love what I learn from other people’s stories and experiences.  We are all so brilliantly unique and have so much to share and give and it is an honor to be serving and growing with each of you.

Now it’s your turn….What makes YOU feel like a rock star and how long has it been since you have done that thing?  Is it time to hit the rewind button until you find it?  Go ahead…rewind….find it…do it…and then rewind, repeat, rewind, repeat.  You get the idea.