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

The Heat Is On

I think I’m going to pass out.

The sun is beating down on me, sweat is pouring down my face. The heat index is in the 100s, it’s midday, and I’m on the open water.

Did I mention there are alligators in the water??

My little baseball cap seems like a small joke on my head, and even though I slathered 45 SPF all over my arms, they feel like they are literally burning up,

This isn’t what I wanted.
I want to enjoy kayaking with my family.
I don’t want to have this reaction.
I don’t want to be so sensitive to the heat.

My aunt, behind me in the tandem kayak, starts to speak to me, saying we can turn around, and go back to the dock.

I see my parents, and the tears start to fall, as I choke out,
I’m not doing so well.

Have you ever felt like this?
Had a reaction and strong emotion you don’t want to have?
Have you ever felt like you were stuck, struggling in the open water of strong emotions in your Art?

And there can be so many….emotions around rejection, comparison, competition, frustration that you are simply NOT where you want to be.  At the end of the day, you just DON’T want to feel it!

I mean, how can that possibly help, right?
So, what do you do?

 

I haven’t been kayaking in five years. 

It’s been a really fun activity to do with my parents, who love to be on the water.  I’ve never been especially skilled with an oar, but the views from the water are breathtaking. I was really looking forward to sharing this experience with them again.

We were all down in Santee, South Carolina, for the eclipse weekend, and I had been watching the weather forecast carefully, deeply concerned about the heat index.

High heat and high humidity is pretty much my kryptonite.

I’ve had sun stroke and heat exhaustion as an adult, vomiting and being sick in bed for days, plus many crazy rashes that stay on my skin for weeks.

Like I said, kryptonite.

We planned the kayaking last Sunday for 9 am, the earliest the company had available, and planned to be out for just a few hours.

This was MY plan, not what actually occurred.

When we arrived, we encountered the brother of the actual owner of the rental company.  He had come to just help out for the weekend, and was missing one crucial item,

The keys to the office.

In the office were the life jackets and the oars.  And his brother who had the keys?  He was out on the water giving a kayaking lesson with no cell service.

We were stuck.
I was stuck.

And I could feel the frustration and fear rising.  The day was only getting hotter, and the sun higher.

But most of all was the simple realization,
I have NO control over this situation right now.

So, the only question was,
HOW am I going to meet it?

How do you meet that moment when you have no control over what is happening?

How do you deal with the frustration and fear when it’s arising, especially when it’s something so important to YOU?

 

We didn’t get into the water until 10:30, and hour and a half later than planned.

As I watched the brother doing his best to problem solve, and dealing with all the crowds of people waiting to get their oars and life jackets, I sat in the shade and said over and over,

Even though I feel anxious, I deeply love and accept myself.
Even though I feel scared, I deeply love and accept myself.

When we pushed into the water, I desperately wanted to experience a cool breeze, and a relief.  I wanted to feel safe and ok to be on the water for the next 2-3 hours.

And I felt NONE of that.

Instead, everything intensified. My aunt and I were paddling as quickly as we could to get to the bend, and come into the inlet where there were supposed to be trees and shade along the water.

When we finally got to the shade, about 15-20 minutes later, I was a mess, overheated, and crying.

And then my family mirrored back to me the biggest lesson.

They met my pain with acceptance.
They met my pain with care.

They met my pain with unconditional love.

They didn’t make me wrong.
They didn’t diminish my experience.

My mother came alongside the kayak, and gave me her wide brimmed hat, and had me take my cloth and start to dunk the lake water over the head.

As I squeezed the water onto my scalp, the heat began to dissipate, and I exhaled through tears,

I feel self conscious.
I feel embarrassed.

And the intensity lowered, my breathing came back, and a breeze started to travel across my wet scalp and neck.

I knew I wasn’t going to pass out.  I felt so much better, and I knew I was safe.

 

Imagine meeting your strong emotions like this.

Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t make yourself wrong.
Imagine if you didn’t diminish your own experience.

Imagine if you met these moments with unconditional love.

We can so easily be shocked at watching someone throw anger and yell at another person.

But, how are you speaking to yourself?

What do you say to yourself when you are dealing with these challenging moments?

We can easily throw blame in a situation we are not happy with in our Art.  Especially because our work means SO much.

But, if you just blame someone else, or sweep your strong emotions under the rug, they will only appear again and again.

Why?

Because they are the child waiting to be loved.

Really, at our core, this is what we are seeking. And as Artists, this is paramount to not only our work, but our relationship with collaborators and our audience.

It all begins with you.

How you deal and speak to yourself in the most challenging moments, directly affects all other relationships in your Art.

If you are making yourself wrong all the time, what are you saying and doing to your audience, your customers, and your support system? Are they wrong too?

Judgement will only stop you in your tracks.  It will halt your productivity, stop your projects, and cut you off from growth and achieving the acclaim you desire.

So, the next time you feel like you are being baked alive in the heat of your emotions, take a breath, and connect in.  Meet your fears with LOVE.  Say what you are feeling, and ALLOW them to move through you.

Place the cooling water on your head, and RECEIVE your own unconditional love.  Challenges will always arise. We have no control over that.

But it you are able to meet them AS they arise, you will be able to keep paddling, and enjoy the true benefits of your passion. You will have the long and  abundant career you desire, making a living from your art, and creating an impact with your work.

I ended up being on the water for three hours, having quality time with my family, and experiencing the beauty of the cypress trees.  I was able to process the fear, and cool down the heat.

You can too.

The cool breeze on the water awaits.

Unconditionally.