Connecting To Your Life

Have you ever been right before your biggest dream, and felt completely stuck?
Have you had your deepest desire right in FRONT of you, and found yourself frozen in place, unable to move forward?

And inside your head, you are screaming,
What is wrong with me?
Why does this always happen?

Your inner critic is having a heyday, and you’re left there….
STUCK
Frustrated
and wondering if this will ever change.

Isn’t this what you’ve been working for, for SO long?
What the HECK is going on?

Turns out, that last question may be the most important question you ask yourself.

Perhaps there is a reason you are standing there, staring your dreams in the face.

Would you like to know how to step forward and get out of the crippling fear?

 

I’m married.

On Sunday September 16th up at Zen Mountain Monastery, I stood in front of my closest family and friends and took a vow to love, and be awake in loving my beautiful man, Chuck.

The day could not have been more magical and sacred.  We felt deeply seen by those closest in our lives, and marveled at the September sunshine that blessed our special day.

We had a three day mini-moon in Woodstock, NY, as my husband had to return to work on Thursday and I had a four day intensive training on non-violent communication starting on Thursday.

I woke up Wednesday with a knot in my shoulder, and feeling deeply anxious.

I didn’t want the honeymoon to be over.  This time was so special, I wanted more time just the two of us to bond.

Thursday I headed to the Lifebridge Sanctuary in Rosendale, NY for the beginning of the four day retreat.  The center could not be more beautiful.  The grounds were stunning.  Nature was all around me, with mountains, birds, and an open sky.

And while I WANTED to feel excited and grateful for being here, all I felt was conflict.

I felt so torn.  I had waited a year to do this training AND I missed my husband.  Non-violent communication is actually a HUGE reason I was able to call in my husband, and I’ve watched it transform my client’s lives.  It transformed MY life.

And yet, I was really struggling.  Thursday night, I had a complete meltdown, doubting myself, doubting being here, and starting to feel a deep ache.

I woke up on Friday and found myself isolating.  This was such odd behavior for me.  I’m a Leo!  I love people, and I love being around them….and yet, on the breaks I found I just wanted to be alone.

But the beauty of the work, is the whole retreat was about what may be the most powerful tool we have as creative beings,
Self Empathy.

As I began to connect with what was actually alive in me, I found I had HUGE fears arising around how I would show up in this marriage…..and they were all based in my past.
I was afraid I would mess it up.
I was afraid I would be too controlling.
I was afraid I would push him away.

All the things that happened in my last marriage came rising up as NOW it was real.  NOW I was married.

Have you ever had your past come up in a crucial moment and take you out?

Being able to connect with feeling devastated, scared, anxious, allowed me to connect with my actual Needs moving forward in the marriage.

Through the self empathy, I realized I needed Inspiration, and most of all, I needed Self Trust.

I mourned my unmet needs in my last marriage, and brought compassion to my strong feelings.  I took the time and space to feel everything and lovingly ACCEPT what was arising.

And I realized my strong feelings and judgements were actually pointing to what was most important for me moving forward.

My judgements about myself in my last marriage were actually the key to creating the life I truly want TODAY, now.

 

So, take a moment and grab a pen and paper.

Think of that moment when you stopped yourself.  Really put yourself there.  Close your eyes and connect.
What are you feeling?

Once you connect with the feelings, ask yourself,
What do I need?

I imagine there is a pattern here, and you may find you stop yourself because there is a strong need for integrity.  Perhaps that project wasn’t aligned with your voice.  Or perhaps there was a strong need for collaboration….perhaps that project meant you were going to be doing ALL the work.  Or perhaps you had a strong need for learning.  There was a piece of the puzzle you didn’t have and it was vital for you to move forward.

Or maybe, in my case, you just aren’t trusting yourself, and you need to re-connect with yourself gently and lovingly to step forward.

In truth, I realized that I’m very young in many ways.  My new way of being, through Zen, through compassion and a vow to be awake in my life…is YOUNG.  I started this journey just five and a half years ago.  I’m actually a toddler as a practitioner, and a being that sees the world VERY differently than I did for 37 years.

My five year old self was feeling really insecure stepping into this marriage beside the 37 year old, and was afraid she would be crushed.

Turns out, the 37 year old really wants to hug her and join.

And that’s when I realized the biggest need for this four day retreat,
INTEGRATION.

We can’t change the past, and we’ve all done things we regret.  It can be so easy to believe how it’s been is how it will always be, but the actual truth is,
You are becoming in every moment.
Change is constant.

Over the course of the four days, my five year old and the 37 year old met in the middle, lovingly.  I am the woman I am today because of all that came before, AND I am clear what I want moving forward.

So, it’s time to trust, and to cultivate that trust within myself.

What is it for you?

What would it look like and feel like to integrate your past into your present?
What would it look like to meet your needs NOW?

Thom Bond, who led the self empathy retreat said,
Everything we do, we do to meet a need.
Your needs are actually your life energy.
When you connect to your needs, you are connecting to your life.
This is how we CHANGE the conversation with ourselves and transmute to what we LOVE.

What would be possible for you then?

 

Sunday we sat in a final circle sharing how we were feeling.

I raised my hand and said,
I feel so grateful and inspired.  I came here Thursday feeling deeply torn and sad.  The journey I have taken over the past four days allowed me to connect with my needs and now I am SO excited and READY to be a wife.  I am ready to be present in this marriage the way I want to be.

I drove home, and when I saw my husband, I kissed him.
Long, deep, saying,
I’m here now.
I love you.

And I am so ready for our life together.

 

Connect within. 
All your answers are there.

What’s stopping you is actually pointing to what you most need.

So, get curious, and ask,
What is going on?

When your needs are met, then you are truly unstoppable.

 

 

 

 

Photography: Daryl Getman Dag Photo

Illuminating the Dark

I used to be terrified of the dark.

I was thoroughly convinced the boogeyman existed, and he lived in my attic.  As the sun would set, the dark shadows would envelop the door outside my room, and I imagined his glowing eyes waking and staring at me, his teeth bared, and his wicked grin widening in response to my terrified eyes and shortened breath.

And it wasn’t just the attic….underneath my bed held it’s own playground of demons, aliens, and misshaped creatures, who’s tentacles and long fingers would wrap around the edges of my comforter.

Did you ever feel like this?
What did you do to ward off the demons of the night as a child?

My defense was stuffed animals, and I had them on BOTH sides; piled high so no matter where the monsters arose from, I was protected. I would disappear under my sheets, because here it was safe.

Safe from the dark.

While I would love to share this fear fell away as my Barbie’s were sold, it actually dug in.

I remember seeing M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller, Signs, and barely sleeping after seeing it, waking my then-husband in the middle of the night to walk to the bathroom with me.

I was 27.

This fear of the dark stayed with me, for ten more years, until I had to face what the dark was really about for me….loss of control.

 

At 37, I lost my home, marriage, my car, a dear friend, and many belongings that were stolen.

All of this was out of my control.  I felt like I was swirling in a tsunami. I didn’t know who I was anymore…
Who was I without these things?
These identities?
Mother to be, wife, artist?

I sat face to face with a Zen master and sobbed my deepest question which was hounding my days,
How do you let go?

He looked at me, gently handed me a box of tissues, and asked me the most powerful question,
Are you ok without him?

As if snapped awake from a terrible dream, an energy released in my body.  Indeed, I WAS ok.  I was sitting here breathing, my basic needs were being taken care of.  I was alive.

And something crazy began to happen.

I began to take solace in the dark.

I would come home from a busy day, or a disappointing date, and leave the lights off in my apartment.  I would sink down onto the floor and just sit in the dark, the vibrant city alive outside my window…and me, taking a moment.

Turns out there was no boogeyman waiting in my closet, or alien under my bed.  This space that once held such fear and uncertainty was now actually comforting.

The dark was just darkness….nothing else.  Now that I had realized I am ok within it, I was willing to spend more time there.

Being in a place of not knowing and releasing control actually was HEALING. I had spent so much energy in feeling I had to KNOW every step, control every aspect of my life, and that had only exhausted me, and stolen my ability to show up most powerfully as a performer.

I wanted to believe for the first 37 years of my life that things were permanent….and that I could control that. My year of loss taught me differently.  And to be honest?  It was a huge relief.

Maybe there was far more magic occurring.  What if I took my hands off the wheel and tried something IN PLACE of control….what if I tried TRUST?

Was this what was waiting under the bed for me all along?
What’s waiting for you?

 

Where do you control in your Art?
What monsters have you convinced yourself are waiting in the dark for you?

What is YOUR dark?

The creative process is full of magic and mystery.  And it requires we release control to allow not only the muse, but to enjoy it!

I watch so many Artists stop themselves because they get caught in uncertainty.  And trust me, I get it!  I could have won a prize for how many times I did this in my professional career. But, the dark was not what I thought it was.

I thought letting go of control would harm me.  Instead, it freed me.

Letting go of control freed me to take risks, to play stage roles I could have never played before.  Letting go of control freed me to launch a business, build a global fan base, and get back to my childhood love of writing.

 

What if the uncertainty is actually your gateway to powerful creation?

And if you released control, what would you do differently?

You may peek under your bed and see simple dust balls piling under the bed frame…..and beyond that?

That’s where the real discovery lies.

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography