Thursday, December 20, 2012

What to do when there's nothing to do

The creative urge to write my blog has been building this week and I was wondering what I wanted to write about. Yesterday on my way home from teaching yoga I was listening to CPR. Talk of the nation was about what to do when there's nothing to do. The idea was that  people needed to have creative ways to fill up the space in between things so they weren't waiting around feeling uncomfortable. The expert talked about how there used to be long lines at banks and one teller. He talked about how waiting in line with nothing to do was so unpleasant he wanted to jump out of his skin. People called in and shared how they kept themselves distracted when they had to wait. One person always carried a book,  another always had her ipod, another brought along her  yo-yo and practiced tricks, still another never went anywhere without his ukelele. All of this was based on the premise that there always needs to be something to do.
It got me to thinking about how having an iphone and being able to text and check my e-mails and make phone calls anytime anywhere has impacted my life. What if I just used waiting time to be?
Being is so important especially at this time of year when there is such a whirlwind of doing. As I look at what I want to write next and notice the tendency to judge myself for what I have written and pick my nails, I am aware that this is the perfect opportunity to just be. In the space of waiting for the muse to come I breathe and go down into my body to notice the felt sensation I am feeling. I feel a tingling of excitement in my heart and belly and a tightness in my throat. Instead of trying to figure it out I practice breathing into what is. I notice the fear that being won't bring me ideas. I have to do something. The elusive muse won't come when she is called.She is not an on demand girl.  She patiently waits for me to wait for her. In this way she encourages me to breathe and be. I can feel my impatience and I wonder if she will ever show up? She says yes. I am here. Writing is allowing the flow of your breath to create your words. There is no force necessary. I can feel the ease that listening to her creates. I can feel the belief that I have to do something to make things happen being challenged. It isn't that I don't have to do my part. It's that I need to remember to ask for help all of the time. I have this idea that asking for help is for weaklings. I am supposed to know how to do everything by myself. Turning to my spiritual support around my circle is for times when I can't do it myself. What if it represented spiritual growth for me to ask for help from spiritual support? I get that if I leave things up to my ego I am screwed. I will do what I have always done, whatever that is. My spiritual support team around my circle has the job of helping me. However, they can't help me if I don't ask for help. That would be invasive.  They are here to help me open up more to my entire range of emotion and to experience the oneness of all beings. 
I am now asking for help with giving being a fair share of my attention and being willing to let go of doing sometimes in order to do that. As I breathe and listen I can hear them clapping.
. I am making a committment to asking for help whenever I remember whether I think what I need help with is worthy of their attention or not. I don't think that they have a score sheet about the validity of what I want help with. I am the one with the score sheet. This spiritual support team is made up of angels and spiritual guides, colored light and mountains and oceans and some dead people. I believe we are all involved in a project called the evolution of consciousness. They want to help me because their advanced level of consciousness can contribute to mine evolving. I imagine it is pleasing to them to be asked to do their job.
This  blog was so much fun to write. It helped me to experience how much being supports the creative process. Would you be willing to let yourself be? How about asking for help?
May your holiday season be filled with more and more of all that you are. It is such a pleasure to share my musings with you. Thanks for listening.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Hi everyone. It is good to be writing again. I have no idea what I want to write about. I only know that I want to write. I have made some changes in my life that I want to share. We completed the women's spiritual support group I have been leading for over eleven years. It felt clear and right even though it was sad. Most of the women were ready to move on to other adventures. My hope is that I will continue to study and learn and find other forums to teach in. It is satisfying to have more time available to see evening clients in Denver. At one point I couldn't imagine what my life would be like without that group because it was so important to me. I was so identified with being the leader of that group. Now I no longer am. It would've met next Thursday and I'd like to do a goodbye ritual on that night to mark the loss and the change and the growth of letting go and creating space. It's funny how an unimaginable loss can come to be and feel OK. It's a good lesson to me about attachment and letting go of attachment. Is there something in your life that you couldn't imagine ever letting go of that you have let go of? Acknowledge yourself for your resilience.
The other change that I want to share came from reading the book Women Food and God by Geneen Roth. I found it to be very helpful. I put off reading it for a long time because I felt envious that she had published this book when I had never published my book Eating My Way to God. I realized I was resisting reading it for that reason and was kind to myself about it. I decided I was ready to let go of my envy in order to learn from what Geneen Roth had to offer. I've shared here before about my desire to let go of eating and reading at the same time.  When I do both I often don't even notice what I am eating until I am done. I  don't notice when I've had enough either.Many many times I have resolved to only eat when I am eating and only read when I am reading. It usually lasts less than two weeks and I gradually slip back into having reading material and reading glasses on my kitchen table and melding the two behaviors. Geneen Roth has these guidelines, one of which is to only eat when you are eating. I used her as a cheerleader to recreate my intention of conscious eating. I read the book at Valley View hot springs where I went by myself for four days. Being by myself with no work or house related distractions, it was easy to create lovely meals for myself and eat them with awareness. That was three weeks ago. I continued when I got home. It was challenging and I was tempted to grab my glasses many times. If they weren't there it was easier because I couldn't see to read. I was able to be kind and patient about the process of change and gentle about the slips I had.
 At the same time I bought a new to me kitchen table and chairs. I decided to bring all of my reading materials and all of my mail and bills into my office and off of my kitchen table. My table had been my desk. I even had a usable desk in my office that had been sort of a dumping ground.
So now I have a tranquil space to eat in. I notice I am tasting food more and enjoying eating. That is a pleasure. I  also notice I am reading less and the next step is to carve out more time to read besides reading on the internet. I love to read and want to do more. One good time would be instead of being on the computer before I go to bed I am going to read. I know that the stimulation of the computer before bed isn't supportive of good sleep. That is the next step. It's important to acknowledge the shift I have made and not only to focus on the next shift yet to be made. Good job, Andrea. You have made real progress with changing an automatic behavior to a more conscious one. Is there an automatic behavior you'd like to change to a more conscious one? Could you begin by being kind to yourself and noticing what it is?

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Happy November. Five  more days until the election. I worked for the Obama campaign today calling voters with mail-in ballots who hadn't turned them in yet. Next to each person's name was the nearest place for the person to turn in their ballot. I was really impressed with the level of organization and how receptive people were about knowing the nearest location to drop off their completed ballot. Several people thanked me for calling. I thanked all of them for answering their phone and for either already voting or being willing to vote. It was a pleasurable connection with most of the people I spoke to. I felt grateful to have the time to volunteer today and to feel part of the community surrounding Barack Obama's re-election campaign.
   Every other Thursday evening I lead a women's spiritual support group. I give myself several hours on those Thursdays when I don't schedule clients  to finish planning the group. Hence I had the time today to spend making calls at the Obama office.
I have been running this group in one form or another for over 11 years.  I call it Sacred Circle. It has evolved as I have evolved. It now has meditation, intention setting, a short yin yoga practice, chanting and sharing. I study during the two weeks in between groups to find experiences and information I want to teach. It is important to me to combine personal and spiritual growth in a creative way to enable the beautiful women in my group to learn and grow. I create a safe space for nurturing connection by modeling authenticity and speaking truth from my heart. This has facilitated the creation of  a supportive community where people feel safe to be themselves. I am very attached to leading and being part of this community.
In the past three months several people have left the group. Now another woman who has been with the group since the beginning is preparing to leave. I love to have a completion evening for people who leave so they can honor their contribution to the group and say goodbye. Clear goodbyes are rare in our culture. I think it is so delicious to have the opportunity to honor  and celebrate beginnings and endings.
Now the group is small enough so I need to find new members if it is to continue. We decided to at least take a break for December. My energy isn't clear yet. In our intention process tonight I asked for clarity to know whether I wanted to continue or if it is time to let go and discontinue the group. I am asking for help from the universe to be willing to let go if that is what's needed or to be given the energy to attract women who would benefit from the group.
  If you or anyone you know would benefit from being part of a sacred sanctuary  of women to learn and grow personally and spiritually please let me know.  Call me or e-mail me. I'd love to hear from you if you want more information.Community is a great opportunity to love ourselves and be mirrored in that love.
 Is there something in your life you'd like to have clarity about?  Would you be willing to try this experiment? Draw a circle around yourself in the air. This circle represents your own sacred space. This space is made sacred by you giving yourself your own attention. Imagine around the outside of the circle there is your spiritual support team. It could be made up of people, mountains, beings, animals, angels, light, oceans, trees, god or gods and goddesses, etc. Imagine that you could sit quietly and ask for help and guidance from this team. They can only help us when we ask for their help. They are always there whether we are aware of them or not. They are glad to help. Let yourself be open to receiving help. It doesn't mean you are a wimp. Being vulnerable and asking for help is a sign of strength. Let yourself be strong and ask for help and guidance. See what happens. Be willing to have whatever you experience be that help. Thanks for being willing to experiment.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Asking for Help

It's been several months since I last wrote. I want to thank a kind reader for e-mailing me and asking if I was OK since I hadn't written for a while. It was just the motivation I needed to write again. It was so nice to know that someone cared about reading this blog. It's easy to believe the story I make up that noone reads this so it doesn't matter if I write or not. How much do we tell ourselves that what we do doesn't matter when it clearly does? Is there something you are wanting to do, or for that matter not wanting to do, that you are making up a story that it doesn't matter?
I have noticed that when I most need to do the things that are nourishing to me is when I least want to do those very things. It makes sense that when I feel the least deserving of support and nourishment that it is the most difficult time to seek out that comfort and support. When I am moving too fast and filled with a sense of urgency, I make up the most creative stories about how I don't have time to meditate as long as I need to be clearheaded. I also rationalize that it is much more important to spend a lot of time on my computer reading e-mails than it is to contact friends or go to yoga classes. I also convince myself that there is no time to cook and that staying up late is fun. The problem is that when I am in this speeded up place my mind is filled with chatter. That chatter is about worrying about the past and the future. When my mind is filled with chatter empty space is threatening so I listen to the radio more and avoid stillness.
 I recently heard an interview with a woman who has done extensive research on mindfulness. (There are definitely some good things about listening to the radio. However using it to fill up all the space in my head isn't one of them.) Mindfulness is awareness without judgement. Mindfulness is just being present and noticing what is with acceptance. In the interview the woman said there are primarily two states of mind, mindfulness and evaluation. When we are in evaluation we are judging ourselves and others. The good news is that being mindful of the judging mind without judging ourselves for judging brings us back to just noticing. Judgement can be a perfect path to mindfulness. Does this sound like it is easier said than done? I thought so, so I added another step. I have been imagining a virtual tatoo on my right forearm that says help. It is written in cursive and is quite large. When I notice I am caught in judgement I look down at my arm and ask for help. Help is the shortest prayer there is. I am asking for help from the universe. I am asking for help from angels, masters, teachers, God, goddesses, the mountains, light and any and all available resources. I am asking for help because if left to my own devices I will do what I have always done and judge myself and others relentlessly. I am asking for help to move beyond my ego to my essence where I know we are all one. I am asking to experience the acceptance and love that is underneath my judgement.When I ask for help I take a deep breath and go into my circle and pay attention to my inner process. I see whatever is in my experience as receiving that help. I ask for help in finding gratitude for receiving the help I asked for. Help is there. We just have to be willing to ask. The resources that are there to help us can't help if we don't ask. Would you be willing to see what happens? Ask for help and see what you notice. I asked for help in moving out of my state of urgency to be able to include the things that are nourishing in my life. I am grateful for the help that i received. This week I went to two yoga classes and now I am writing this blog.  Thank you for being a vehicle for me to be kind to myself. Thank you for reading this blog.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tell the people you love

This week my partner is out of town. It has been a pleasure to both miss him and enjoy myself. I realize how much I depend on him for companionship and support. I am grateful to have a partner who is someone I can talk to about anything. In addition, I am blessed to have  a network of wonderful women friends. I know they are there holding me in love and I don't always stay as connected as I'd like to. In the past week I've created a project of contacting many of the women who have been important to me over the years. It has been so good to catch up and reconnect. Some of the people I contacted I haven't spoken to for many months. Some of them I see regularly.  I don't worry about whether I am too much for these women. I feel space for my sensitivity and intensity and peaceful equanimity.

In my meditation this week this affirmation came through, " I love myself enough to be myself. My group of women friends has encouraged me with their acceptance to be courageous enough to be myself. All of these people are people I can clear things with. That means that when there is a conflict or hurt feelings or a misunderstanding we can talk about it and work it through and resolve it. All of these people have the experience of knowing that resolving conflict can deepen intimacy. 

Recently, I waited a week to clear something I was upset with a friend about. During that week I tried to talk myself out of my upset, telling myself," It was nothing, She didn't mean anything by it, I am being too sensitive." At the end of a week I received a peace quote( in my inbox that said something like the definition of a friend is someone with whom you resolve conflict. Because I don't believe in coincidence, I felt grateful for the encouraging reminder in my inbox that I needed to call my friend. When I told my friend that I was upset about her comment she heard me. She had the space for me to be upset and not get defensive. Even if she had gotten defensive I think we could have noticed both of our reactivity and resolved that, at least eventually. She  told me where she was coming from with her comment and I heard her. I understood what her intention was.I also understood what got triggered in me and owned that. It was a simple powerful exchange and I could feel the space it created in my heart. The memory of the upset seemed to melt away in the space of being held in love.

 It reminds me of the experience of seeing an upset little child sobbing in their mother's arms. The mom isn't trying to fix the kid or make her/his experience any different. After a surprisingly few minutes the child is complete and runs off to play. My intention is to be that kind of mom for myself and allow my friends to mother me in this way.  I know that when someone I care about askes me to support them I feel closer to that person. Part of letting go of my identity of being perky is to allow my friends to know when I need help and to let them support me. I also appreciated the opportunity to hear what had been going on in my friends lives and support them. 
One of my yoga teachers recently died. Her husband sent out an e-mail telling her community of students and friends, "spend time with your beloveds". His heartfelt message helped inspired me to begin to contact the people I love and tell them that I do.
 Let yourself enjoy the yumminess of contacting the people you care about and telling them so. To me it felt like savoring the buttery taste of a ripe avocado.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Be with what is

This is a  peace quote I just received from They come to my in-box every day and are quite inspirational. This quote is by Anne Frank, the thirteen year old girl who chronicled hiding from the Natzi's in her diary.
"In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisiting of confusion, misery and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness. I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us, too. I can feel the suffering of millions- and yet, if I look to the heavens, I think it will come out all right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again."
This quote was so moving for me. Anne Frank was a young woman who had seen the foundation of her world crumble around her and had faced the probability of her own death. Yet she is able to focus on the vast ocean of peace and tranquility that holds us all.  That vastness exists beyond  and includes all of the suffering of the world. I have been asking for help from the universe or god or the sense of my own divine to be able to experience that place. Sometimes suffering seems so great that there is no room to remember we are held in Love with all of it.
Another entertaining e-mail  arrived this week as if written by God. In it god was saying that she wants to be able to do her job of handling everything to the best possible outcome and have us do our parts of asking for help and letting go of all of the worrying. "Jeez," she said,  "Does that sound like too much?" I have been practicing this week asking for help.
 A lot of my adult life has been spent focusing on being a mom. It has been so important to me to give my daughter a sense of being loved for all of who she is. I was raised in an intemittently loving and abusive environment. I didn't know which Mom I would get as my mother switched from being caring and available to slapping me and being mean and critical. I wanted my daughter to know I was there for her and would show up for her. My role as a mother has been so much of my identity. My daughter has recently moved away.
I am in an uncomfortable and unfamiliar place. It's almost as if I don't know who I am. To be real, It isn't almost as if I don't know who I am. I don't know who I am. I'm not sure what I am doing here and my life seems to lack purpose and meaning . I can be tearful and feel flat. My energy has been low and I often feel like nothing feels right. Sometimes I can feel a giant empty hole in my belly that feels like it could swallow me up. I am very afraid and when I let myself feel the fear and breathe into it and shake and cry there is a sense of freedom that comes from embracing the emptiness. I have been a perky person most of my life. It has been important to me to appear happy to others and I have been blessed with a lot of joy. Lately though I haven't felt like I have the energy to be perky. This morning doing my breathwork I felt a sense of joy coming from deep inside of me that wasn't attached to any outside circumstance. It was spread out into my body and was more pervasive and less intense than what I have experienced. Several weeks ago I wouldn't have recognized this as joy because it didn't feel like what I thought joy was. I am redefining my world right now. Sometimes I am kicking and screaming and other times I can invite it in.
I had an experience several weeks ago with the little girl inside me which, as I look back, was the beginning of this transition. I woke up in a hotel room on the day I was to fly back after driving with my daughter to her new job. It was kind of hitting me that I was flying back alone and I was missing my daughter already. I realized how much I was enjoying the trip and I heard from the little girl inside me thast she was really having fun. I was surprised because I hadn't consciously tuned into her the whole trip. Often in the past she has been very mad at me for not paying attention to her. I vow to show up for her on a regular basis and consciously tune into her for a few days and then forget again. This time she said that I was very present during the trip and that my presense is all she has ever wanted. I took it in and cried because it was all so simple and I hadn't known it. I felt so much gratefulness that my showing up was all she ever wanted. I couldn't do it wrong as long as I was willing to be present. Then that wise little girl inside me who is really my own inner divinity said, "Be with what is. " It was loud and clear. So that is what I have been doing. I have been slowing down and resting and being with what is.  Sometimes I do a breathing practice which is I say be with to myself on my in breath and what is to myself on my out breath. It is a powerful reminder that be with what is is all there is to do.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Good job, Andrea

I am aware that when I am willing to let go of something it creates the space to have it. For instance over a year ago it really upset me when I couldn't figure out how to continue writing this blog in beautiful colors. I felt like a failure. Also color is very important to me and I was really dissatisfied for a long time with plain black type. Then I let go, accepted what was true and wrote in plain black. After a while, I didn't equate it with feeling like a failure, then gradually it was only mildly annoying and then I didn't even notice anymore. Last week I changed to hotmail and let go of MSN premium and voila, the color is back.
The same is true with my partner and his weight. I want him to be fitter and I nagged and criticized and tried to control what he was eating. He got defensive (people do that when they are being attacked) and rebelled and stuffed himself with sweets. He clearly communicated to me about how offensive my behavior was and the results it was getting. I decided to back off and go against all of my early training about controling another person to create change. I remembered that my mother's nagging created my father being sarcastic or withdrawing and doing what he wanted to behind her back. Backing off and working with myself instead of following my knee jerk impulse to nag was challenging. I decided that what he put into his mouth was his business. After many months of letting go of judgement I hardly noticed what Gary was eating. When I back off of trying to micromanage his life I can focus on mine. I realized I had gained weight from sitting around eating and not exercising as much as I wanted to and took steps to take care of myself better.
After a while I noticed that of his own accord Gary was eating more healthfully and exercising more. I encouraged and supported and praised. It was so much more fun than nagging. We were getting along so much better. Then he began to see results and I encouraged and supported and praised some more. I remembered this old saying that went something like, You can hold more peas on a knife with honey than vinegar. At the time I kind of got it and now it sunk in. So all of this was inspirational to a new level of supporting and encouraging and praising myself. I am not going for big things. When I get out of bed in the morning I say to myself, "Good job, Andrea." When I am done running a short distance after my walk I say "Good job, Andrea". I am shifting noticing what is missing and making myself wrong about it, to validating what is. I can even acknowlege myself for noticing I am focusing on what's missing and making myself wrong and say, "Good job, Andrea. It's so much more fun. I am getting along with myself so much better. I am also feeling a lot of gratitude these days for the opportunity to relax and enjoy my life more.
Experiment with a phrase of encouragement with yourself. Practice it even if it feels fake. Isn't it funny how being unkind to ourselves feels more real? See what happens. So my inner critic is saying that I've written about this all before and people are tired of listening. Good job, Andrea for noticing you are focusing on what's missing and making yourself wrong. A smile comes to my face and I can feel amused about my process and compassionate about automatic pilot. Awwwwww. I am so grateful for loving awareness.
I really appreciate being able to share this all with you. Thanks for listening.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Birthday Month

The month of March is my birthday month. Last year I celebrated my birthday for a week. I did something nice for myself every day. It was so much fun that this year I decided to celebrate for the entire month of March. Every day I plan at least one thing that feels nurturing in either body mind or spirit or some combination. For instance, I have practiced one hundred breaths of joy every day this month. Each day, usually in the morning I breathe 100 deep breaths through my mouth, imagining my breath beginning at the base of my spine and moving up to the crown of my head. In the beginning I would lose count and space out and it took a really long time. After a month of daily practice I can stay focused and it takes about 7 minutes. I feel energized and awake and yes, quite joyful. Some of my other treats to myself are a delicious bodywork session with singing bowls, a walk in the park, sculpting, lying on my living room floor with my face in the sun, laughing, and hanging out with dear friends. My favorite was having my daughter and son-in-law cook Gary and I a birthday meal at our house. Monnya is an inspired cook who makes gormet food that avoids all the many foods I am allergic to. I felt so loved.
I chose to spend the actual day of my birthday alone with no plans allowing myself to do whatever I wanted to all day. My intention was to be kind to myself about my choices. At one point I put my latest sculpture piece, the laughing woman, in the oven to soften her up and went to put some recycling outside and got distracted. When I came back in her arms had melted into the oven floor and there was smoke all over the kitchen. I spent almost an hour cleaning up the oven and I was able to be kind to myself. After a while it was even amusing and I was able to laugh. I became the laughing woman cleaning up the laughing woman. Hohohohohohohohohoho...
Afterwards I sculpted for two hours and felt very satisfied. I am learning to take care of myself better and be in a relationship. I have begun scultping again after almost six years of hiatus. On the day of my birthday I also did yoga, meditated and went for a lovely walk. In the evening I had planned to meet Gary and two close friends at Eldorado Yoga ashram for a yoga class and a chanting kirtan. I appreciated the opportunity to do something different than go out to dinner and to share that with people I care about so much. Gary was really sweet and made me a card and bought a cool balloon and flowers. I have been feeling moments of a heart full of gratefulness all month. In addition all of this love has brought up what isn't love and I have also felt angry and sad and scared. It seems most of my fears and doubts focus around Gary and sometimes I get very stuck. It takes a while to recognize that I have shut my heart down and need my own attention. It is so easy to get lost in the story that this relationship isn't what I want, even in my birthday month. I am getting more skillful at bringing myself back to the present moment in my circle and asking myself what I need. I know I need kindness, compassion and patience. For my birthday month I have practiced showing up for all of what I am feeling as skillfully or as unskillfully as I do.
So, would you like to adopt my practice? I encourage you to do nice things for yourself for whatever reason you come up with, or even better just because you are you. Happy birthday to me. Happy Birthday to you whenever it may be. I'm glad we were all born and get to spend this lifetime together learning and growing, crying and laughing. Love to all of you, Andrea.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


My mother has been at Anum Chara Home in Boulder since April. I brought her to Boulder because I wanted to be closer to her in the last phase of her life. Although the caregivers were mostly very caring, I was dissatisfied with the care she was receiving at the locked alzheimer's facility in New Mexico where my sister lives. I appreciated the holistic philosophy of anam chara and their committment to respecting elders. Anum chara means soul friend and that is the intent of the staff there. I also felt that my mom was overmedicated with anti-psychotics and I began the eight month collaboration with her Doctor and the staff at anum chara to slowly ease my Mom off of seroquil. She made the transition beautifully. For a period of about two months she became more and more alert and conscious. I even got to paint with her twice with the help of the caring art therapist. She smiled more and had more words. She recognized me and Gary and a longtime family friend. I could read to her and she could make comments about what I was reading. I spent many hours with her and felt more connected and closer than I had in years. This was intermittent of course. Sometimes she would be far away in her own world. I gave myself permission to stay a short time if I wanted to and began to be less attached to her condition when I arrived. All of my life I have wanted my mom to show up for me in a certain way. I wanted her to see me as I am and be willing to talk about feelings. She was much more into discussing the details of her daily life and was very clear with me that I was too intense and expected too much out of life. I always knew she loved me and I didn't feel like she knew me. She was there for me in many ways. She taught me the value of meaningful work and the importance of exercise. She instilled in me her strong value of helping other people. We didn't make the transition to an adult friendship that would have required us to move out of our mother-daughter roles and be real with each other. During the last eight months I have begun to realize how much I still wanted her to validate me. Even in her advanced stage of dementia when she was not at all capable of approving of me I still wanted approval. This has been a long grieving process: letting go of the mom that she was and embracing the sweeter older woman with dementia. In the process of accepting who she is now I have come to greater acceptance of who I am now. I have learned how dependant I am on outside validation to know that I am ok. I have become aware of how easy it is for me to pretzel myself into what I think others want of me. Out of being kind to myself about my habitual approval seeking patterns I have learned to rely more and more on my authentic self. The more I authentically express who I am the more OK I feel. As a child I learned to pretend to be someone I was not in order to get approval in my family. The more I pretended the less OK I felt. When we get the idea that being ourselves is threatening to others and squish all of who we are our authenticity becomes threatening to us. It becomes scary to be emotionally vulnerable because we are afraid we will be abandoned. Our ego or personality strategy tells us that if we are genuine we will get rejected. We learn to shut up and get back in the box. Listening to my intuition about what feels right to me has helped me to recognize and disengage from my personality strategy of judging and criticizing myself for being who I am. The idea that there is something wrong with me was a way to suppress my aliveness when my survival seemed to depend on suppressing. Now that my life is more about thriving than surviving it is time to let my light out in all of its glory. Being authentic is the antidote to pretense. Being willing to be present with all of who I am helps the little girl inside me to open her mouth wide and sing from her heart- letting go of whether she is too much for anyone else. How can you practice authenticity? What is a small step you could take to come out of the closet about who you are? The more you do the more ok you will feel. See what you think. Let me know what you notice. More on my mom's latest stage later. Thanks for listening.
Love to all of you,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

slow down be still love yourself

This weekend I was privileged to attend a yin yoga teacher training. Yin yoga is a system to bypass the muscles taking stress and bring gentle stress to the connective tissue. The idea is to surrender deeply into mostly lying down poses for five minutes at a time. I found it to be so relaxing and nourishing. All weekend I stretched into relaxing my body. It is challenging for me to just hang out with nothing to do but breathe and be there. This is yoga for graceful aging. By the end of the weekend I felt a deep sense of peace and the sound of my soul singing Yes.
I made up this little song the words of which are slow down be still love yourself .The song is the theme song for yin yoga and has contributed to joy and stillness in my life. One of the women in the workshop said that her body can't get enough yin yoga and now I understand. My mind on the other hand, is very challenged by hanging out in a pose for five minutes doing nothing. I can think of many reasons why doing a myriad of other things would be way more productive, useful and helpful to myself and to others. Practicing yin yoga puts me up against all of my conditioning to move quickly and get the job done now. The sense of urgency I feel manifests in my body as anxiety. The internal message is, I don't have time for this! If I allow the message and the anxiety to be there and breathe into it I can feel all the times I rushed myself or was rushed by another. I was toilet trained at age one so I even rush myself on the toilet. Yin yoga has made it more obvious to me how much I push myself to have a different quicker pace than I actually want. The belief that I don't have time for this comes from the belief, there isn't enough time for me. When I act on that belief I forget things, trip over things and miss exits. Stress makes my breathing shallow and choppy and my reasoning brain is less accessable.
In the last few days being present with the urgency and bringing compassion for myself with it allows a space for stillness. Being kind to myself about rushing and giving myself permission to be with what is, allows space for slowing down. Bringing love to myself when I am anxious is a very comforting experience. I just took a break to work with a lovely client. I was writing so intently I didn't stop until the doorbell rang. I love when the creative process takes me up its its wings and flies with me. I feel so blessed in this moment. My world is so filled with love. Even though valentine's day is a hallmark holiday people are being more loving with each other. That feeds the flow of love that surrounds us, that holds us, that we are.
Happy Valentines Day. Slow down Be still Love yourself

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Your name as a verb

Last night our chanting group Spiritsong met at my house. It is a blissful combination of shared food, deep sharing and singing. We have been meeting for several years and now meet once a season.
During the sharing one person was talking about her challenges with her adult son. I'll call him Dennis. The word that came into my mind was Dennising. What if everyone's name was a verb that meant we were being ourselves? What if all of my wonderful and horrible qualities could be expressed as Andreaing? What if all of your lovely and not so lovely qualities could be expressed as Janeing or Bobing or Harolding depending on your name. I have been using this and sharing it since last night. It takes the edge off of judgement and supports the truth that we are all just doing the best we can and just being who we are. All of it-(insert your own name as a verb where mine is) The fear, anger and grief- Andreaing. The joy, playfulness and detachment-Andreaing. The guilt,shame and envy-Andreaing. The self-love, self-acceptance and compassion-Andreaing.
What if it was all there to tteach us that it is possible to love ourselves with all of it? What if our unskillful behavior is a call for compassion? What if we have to be unskillful to activate compassion for ourselves. If we were always perfect how would we learn compassion? What if judgement is a call to come back into our circle and be with whatever is going on? So I am really getting that loving myself unconditionally means allowing myself to feel the felt sensation of whatever is going on inside me so it can be integrated. As I integrate more and more of my past unintegrated pain I experience more present moment awareness. Such a deal!
Sometimes the best teachers are the people we have the most difficulty with. I have a very difficult time with my sister. We have chosen very different defensive strategies to deal with the pain of growing up in our family. My sister chose aggression, I chose withdrawl. When I am around her aggression I shut my heart down and get small. My mother also did aggression so when my sister puffs up I regress to about four years old. I have been practicing showing up for myself in her presence. I have learned to keep my heart open and to protect myself from being emotionally vulnerable. Sometimes I am obsessively going over and over one of our interactions trying to figure out what I could have said to get her to soften and understand me. I also get very attached to being right. I am learning to pull my mind back to the present and experience the felt sensation of being misunderstood. It takes me back to being small and sad and scared. My world wasn't safe. It was hard to know when my mother would be kind and attentive and when she would be angry and mean and slapping me. It makes it hard to relax around other people. I often worry that I will do something wrong and piss them off. Lately in connecting with Andie, the little girl inside me, I am learning to be the source of my own safety. I can feel the felt sensation of being safe inside now. I am so grateful to know that safety is self-generated and no amount of outside approval or understanding will create it authentically. That doesn't mean I need to push support away. When I know I am the source of my own safety I'm not dependant on others to feel OK so it is easier to ask for help and let it in.
So my sister is the messenger of being afraid of aggresion and integrating my childhood fear. I can get the message and use our interactions to open to loving all of myself even the parts I find unacceptable. I can also create clear boundaries which I am learning to do. I can see my sister's aggression as Cyndeing. I can see her love for my Mom as Cyndeing. I can see her mastery of the material world as Cyndeing. I can see her defensiveness as Cyndeing. I can see her bossiness as Cyndeing. I can see her devotion to her dogs as Cyndeing. I can see her competence as Cyndeing. I can see that when Andreaing and Cyndeing get together sometimes it isn't pretty. And sometimes it is. Experiment with using your name as a verb and see what you notice.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dismiss the messenger

Happy New Year. What a really mean is mad sad glad scared new year. Let's also throw in some acceptance of all there is and a little fun. My presence process statement this week is I integrate charged emotions. What that means is I have been commiting to the process of doing three steps when I am upset. The first is to dismiss the messenger. That means that instead of focusing on blaming the person who looks like the cause of my upset, I set blame aside and turn my attention instead to my own learning. At the start of my week off from work in Boulder I was very upset. I had the expectation that Gary was going to spend a lot of time with me even though I knew he was working. What I didn't count on was he had really bad headaches and when he was done working really wasn't up for playing with me. For the first three days I was frustrated and impatient and critical, blaming him for my not enjoying my vacation. By the fourth day I was ready to dismiss the messenger. I am slow with this process and it is challenging for me to let go of being right even when I am miserable because of it. Blaming Gary was getting me no where and was creating separation and ill will between us. In dismissing the messenger I opened to how I was creating my own frustration and dissatisfaction. It's funny how being willing to take responsibility for my own bad time opened up the space. It was as if I took a step out of being underneath a dark cloud and realized the sun had been shining all along just a few feet away. The next step is: get the message. The message is I'm not enjoying myself. The next step is feel unconditionally. I took some time to be quiet and to breathe into what was going on with me. I went back to being a little girl and waiting all afternoon for my father to come back from work. I would excitedly meet him at the door and my mom would say Don't bother your father yet. He is tired. Give him a little time to rest. After what seemed like hours my father would appear in the living room with his newspaper and would listen to me for a few moments until the newspaper would gradually start to inch up in front of his eyes. Soon all of his attention went to that newspaper. I felt like my father didn't care and that I wasn't important to him. I decided that there must be something wrong with me that the newspaper was more interesting than I was. I went off to stuff peanut butter into my mouth by sneaking up to the cupboard where it was stored and sticking my fingers and fist in the jar. In the present I showed up for that little girl who so craved her dad's attention and let her know that she mattered to me and it was all right to be sad. I told her that I wanted to hang out with her. I held her and suggested we go out and go for a walk. I let her know that even if Gary didn't have energy to play with us in the way we wanted, we could create our own vacation adventure. I began to make plans to do what I wanted to do being as active as I wanted to. We went to a differerent yoga class each day and made plans with a friend. I went to challenging yoga classes and really did the poses consciously, pushing beyond just going through the motions. I am passionate about yoga and it was fun! After doing all my active things during the day I came back to spend the evenings with Gary. He had energy to do quiet stuff together. We listened to relationship tapes, watched House, and read and talked a lot. I found my compassion for his headaches and we enjoyed each other. On New Years we went to a dancing party with a midnight clearing ritual and really had fun together. In taking charge of my vacation and really showing up for myself I came into the new year feeling strong and hopeful. That's what I wish for you. When it seems like someone else is really pissing you off take a moment to pause and ask yourself, What do I really need right now? Let go of trying to get the other person to make you feel better and focus on attuning to what you want in the moment. Dismiss the messenger, Get the message, feel unconditionally.
I am having such a growthful experience with The Presence Process this time. I highly recommend you check it out. It is written by Michael Brown. Be sure to get the revised edition which is more heartful than the first. If you do, feel free to let me know what your experience is.
Love to you, Andrea