Permission to Live Authentically

It’s tempting to say that my life is heading in a new direction – but the reality is that I am simply up-leveling right now. My life has always been heading in this direction. I have recently discovered a new term that I am ready to embrace: permissionary. I have always been about holding space for myself and others to be our authentic selves, living our dream lives. I value unconditional love – and creating space for people to be unapologetically themselves, as long as they are not harming others or doing anything non-consensual. I’ve been an ambassador of love, offering people permission to be their full, authentic, loving, human selves all of my adult life. That has been reflected in my writing, as well in all of my careers, from massage therapist/health food store owner to coach/teacher to office manager/social media manager. I am committed to helping people feel supported in living better, happier, more fulfilled lives. 

Areas of focus that have attracted me over the years include: body image, self-love, self-esteem, alternative health, massage therapy, myofascial release, body liberation, nudism, sexuality, BDSM, tantra, polyamory, Reiki, energy healing, releasing shame, embracing awkward, communication, emotional intelligence, higher self connection, holding ourselves sacred, and more. All of these have been weaving throughout my life for decades, creating a tapestry that I am ready to offer at the next level of service. What does that mean? Allow me to tell you about the services that I am now offering – and what my motivation is – why I feel they are needed in the world. 

When I was in my early 20’s, I belonged to a tennis club whose owner would go over periodically to a nudist resort nearby and officiate tennis tournaments there. I was so intrigued. I would have loved to have gone to a nudist resort! But I was self-conscious about my weight at that time – and thought that I didn’t have a “good enough” body to go to a place like that. Clearly, I had absolutely no idea what a place like that is actually like! 

In my 40’s, I finally went to that nudist resort – and discovered that it was absolutely not what I’d expected at all! I fit right in – as does everyone! There are people of every age, size, shape, color, background – that’s where I finally truly, bone-deep understood that all bodies are good bodies. I lamented the many years that I had wasted not enjoying swimming nude, feeling the breeze against my naked body, and enjoying the simplicity of being in a naked human body with other people – with no shame or embarrassment. Just being human – and finally being truly comfortable in my own skin! 

I have found nudism to be such an amazing, healing force. I’ve introduced many of my friends to nudism. Some have taken to it like a duck to water and some have found that it’s not really their thing, but they were glad to have tried it. Sometimes you try things just to know what you like or don’t like. It’s all good. I’ve written a number of blog posts about nudism. You can find some of them here and here

I’ve taken all of the levels of the Love, Sexuality, and Intimacy workshops produced by HAI (the Human Awareness Institute, www.hai.org ) – and serve on team with this amazing organization. I’ve been a massage therapist since 1996, and have specialized in myofascial release, which in addition to other things, helps to move stuck emotions/trauma out of the body. I attended the Midwest Academy of Healing Arts – a 3 year long program in energy healing. I’ve gone through Shamanic De-Armoring. I’ve explored various forms of relationship/s, including dabbling in BDSM. I’ve studied Brene Brown’s Shame Resilience curriculum. And that’s just a brief overview of my life and experiences.

All of which is to say: I know how to create safe space for people. I am uniquely qualified in many ways to walk people through fear, shame, and awkwardness into the types of experiences that they would like to have (in some cases, long to have – and I fully understand that longing!). I am a champion of feeling safe and at home in your body – no matter what your body looks like or what abilities your body has or doesn’t have. I am not judgmental about different lifestyle choices – as long as nobody is harmed and all is consensual. I also understand nuance and complexity – and when it doesn’t feel safe to be honest about who you are and what you want, need, and do. Sometimes people just need to feel like they are in a safe space, like they are seen, like they can be themselves. I like to provide that space for people whenever I can. 

It occurred to me recently that if I’d had someone to support me, I could have gone to that nudist resort in my 20’s, rather than missing out on over 20 years of wonderful experiences! I wish I’d started singing karaoke sooner. And that I’d danced more when I was younger, rather than feeling embarrassed and letting that stop me. I wish I’d learned sooner how to allow myself to let go and really have fun. It took decades of inner work and experience to finally allow myself to just be me. I’d like to help other people get to that place more quickly than I was able to do on my own. 

That’s why I’m offering my new services as a permissionary. What do you want to do? It’s possible that you could hire me to go with you, ease you into things, hold space for you while you explore. You want to try nudism? I’m totally there. I’ll spend half a day or a day with you (your choice) at any of the Florida clubs in the Land O’ Lakes or Kissimmee areas, showing you the ropes, helping you process any feelings, answer any questions. You want to jump out of a plane? I am not your person. So, if there are things you’d like to do – but want support while doing them, contact me and let’s see what we can work out. I would love nothing more than to help you live the life of your dreams from a place of unconditional self-love. That’s my dream for all of us. So … what are your dreams? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? What do you want to experience? What are the things that you feel like you can’t discuss with the people in your life about who you really are? What’s holding you back? Let’s talk. 


Paths to Self-Love

I spent my youth and a significant part of my adult life with the attitude that being self-critical – and even hating myself – was somehow “cool” – that it made me “deep,” “edgy,” and interesting. I actually thought it was arrogant and embarrassing to ever say I liked myself, thought I did a good job at anything, or heaven forbid, loved myself!

When my daughter was born, I somehow innately knew that if I were to give her the love she deserved, that I was going to have to learn to love myself. My self-love journey began. I read a ton of books, did a lot of journaling, attended workshops – and over the years, learned to deeply love and support myself. Today, I have no problem saying I love myself – even though I still have faults and flaws, I love ALL of me.

The workshops that were most helpful to me were the HAI (Human Awareness Institute) weekend workshops. Somewhere along the line, I started to think of that critical voice droning on inside of my head as “the imposter” (I believe that concept was from a teaching at a shamanic de-armoring workshop). I began a campaign of fierce self-love and unconditional self-acceptance. I wrote love letters to myself regularly – and in them, I included embracing and loving the parts of me that aren’t so spectacular. I still do that. What I’d like to share with you here are some paths that I have taken over the years to self-love. This is not a comprehensive list. There are many paths to self-love – but here’s a start.

Make a pact to have your own back, to be in your own corner.
It seems so basic, but don’t say negative things about yourself. (Pro-tip: refraining from even saying negative things about others helps you in this endeavor – because when you’re critical of others, that condemning, judgmental energy tends to come back and get you too). Many of us say harsh things to ourselves that we’d never say to anyone else. Don’t allow those cruel voices in your head to continue unchallenged.

When you find your mind going down those familiar roads of self-criticism, you can:
1) Say to yourself, “Stop. We’re not talking like that to me anymore.” Make your boundaries clear to that imposter voice inside your head, “This is not how we’re doing business anymore. You do not get to talk to me like that. I am a sacred being.”
2) Fill yourself up with love. “I love you – even when you are not doing as well as you would like (that sort of thing, whatever it may be) – I love you!” Give yourself that love and appreciation on a regular basis.

Note: You don’t have to “earn” your love, value, worthiness – you are those, you have those – these are integral to your existence. You have nothing to prove or earn. You deserve love.

Don’t tolerate negativity from other people about who you are.
If other people are negative toward you, don’t let that in! Have your own back. Defend yourself as necessary. Sometimes defending yourself means walking away and protecting your own energy. You can admit if you’re wrong or if you’ve made a mistake, but being wrong and making mistakes just makes you human, not a bad person. You can adjust things that are wrong or ineffective or not beneficial in ways to be more beneficial for you and others in your life, but there is no reason to be self-critical or to allow anyone else to belittle you. “I’m not always as considerate or thoughtful as I would like to be. I’m not always the person I would like to be, but I still love me deeply and I’m still worthy of love and of being treated with kindness and respect.”

Know your worth. Respect your boundaries and your unique beingness. You matter. You are worthy of love. Know it. Own it. Live it.

Write yourself love letters and love notes.
I have a sample love letter on an Instagram post. When you write, be sure to include the parts of you that aren’t ideal. It’s easy to love the parts of ourselves that we get approval for out in the world, but what about the parts of ourselves that we keep hidden? Your anxious self needs love too. Your anger, your insecurity, and everything else that is a part of you needs love too. Really, deeply think about you and all of the parts of you that make up you – and write your unconditional love for yourself.

I found that doing this not only helped me to love me, but also helped me to overcome shame over any part of me – and to truly OWN my Self. This is not to say that I never feel a twinge of shame or the pain of not being accepted as I am by others, but that my recovery time is much faster – and I get back to self-love and a good place much quicker than I used to. In fact, when I feel hurt, my remedy is some love words to myself – a short note, or a longer letter, whatever I need to work it out that I am loved, that I love me! Reaffirm your love for yourself constantly. “I love me ALL the time!”

Gaze into your eyes in the mirror; do “mirror work.”
This path to self-love, I learned at HAI workshops. Looking in your own eyes in a mirror, work up to five minutes a day – while connecting with your own eyes/soul in the mirror, say, “I love you” over and over again. You can elaborate if you like: “I love you. I love the human being that you are. You are worthy of all good things. You are worthy and deserving of love, of kindness, of compassion, of empathy. I love you so much.” Say what you need to hear – but most of all, say, “I love you.” Give that to yourself.

Once you’ve got that really down, you won’t need to spend five minutes doing that every day – but every time you look into the mirror, smile at yourself. Smile into your eyes and say, “I love you!” at least once a day – give yourself that reinforcement. “You and I are in this together!”

Make a commitment to yourself – kind of like marriage.
I got this concept from a HAI workshop as well. You can write something similar to marriage vows to yourself if you want. You are, after all, going to be with your Self until the end. Don’t you think you might want to make some promises to you? “I love you and I will be with you until death and beyond. I love you and I will do everything in my power to protect you and to make your life joyous and happy and playful and loving.”

Take some time to write down all of the commitments you’d like to make to yourself. Yes, you can adjust them over time as you change and grow. In fact, renewing your vows at least every year (on your anniversary?) is a good idea! You can even do a ceremony. Light some candles, have a mirror. Say your vows to yourself. Make it holy. Make it sacred. Hold yourself in sacred reverence. “I have a sacred reverence for you, my beloved.” Make that true for your life.

Note: Every once in a while, I have an imposter voice butt in and demand, “Who do you think you are to think you’re so wonderful?” Well, who I think I am is a human being just like everybody else! – and we ALL deserve love and compassion and kindness. Return again and again to a deep and abiding love of the Self.

Say “I love you” to yourself multiple times a day.
Make it a normal part of your self-conversation. Just throw it in regularly. Be your own BFF, best friend forever. Be your own champion. We spend so much time seeking love and approval from outside of ourselves. Be that love for yourself. Do nice things for yourself. Be considerate of yourself and honor your own needs and desires as much as you can.

I record a lot of voice memos because ideas occur to me at times (like while driving) when I can’t write them down. No matter what the topic, at the end of the voice memo, I say, “I love you, Kat.” Because I feel like I’ve been talking to my Self – and I want to, just like I would when I’m talking to anyone I love, express my love as I’m ending the call. Why not? Express your love for yourself regularly! Cherish yourself. Truly!

I’m going to talk about self-love and relationships in another post – there’s too much to say here – but your own self-love (or lack thereof) affects all of your relationships as well. More on that coming soon!

Embrace your body, your nudity, and your sexuality.
We have an epidemic of poor body image in this world. This is by the design of people and corporations that profit in multiple ways by keeping us living in fear and shame regarding our natural bodies. We don’t have to accept that. We can choose to embrace our bodies, to love our bodies as they are, to become comfortable in our own skin, whether we are clothed or nude.

Take time to appreciate every bit of your body from your toes to the top of your head. Appreciate the miracle that is you – and be sure to include your genitals, your breasts, and your belly – any and all parts of the body about which we’ve been taught in so many ways to feel inadequate and ashamed. Love and appreciate the color of your skin, whatever it is. Everything about you and your body is a sacred miracle. Hold that space for your body and your Self.

Becoming comfortable with our own nude body is a very healing thing. Becoming comfortable with the consensual nudity of others is also a very healing thing. It’s important to understand that nudity and sexuality are not the same thing! I would totally recommend spending time at nudist beaches, resorts, and campgrounds – because when you can see that we’re all just human, and you can accept your own humanity and that of other people, it can create a peace inside that is beyond words. If you decide to check out social nudism, check in with AANR, the American Association for Nude Recreation, so that you can find safe, family-friendly places to go.

There is a huge gift in accepting your sexuality as it is – accepting what gives you pleasure – and what does not – and not feeling shame around that, either way. Being able to feel joy and ease regarding your sexual pleasure and sexual attractions is wonderful. “This gives me pleasure and I’m attracted to (whatever/whomever).” How would it feel to embrace your full sexuality, including whom you love, and with whom you want to be sexual, and what your attractions are, and what your attractions are not, and the ways in which you do NOT want to be sexual? Make it all okay, whether you want to be very sexual (consensually, of course if other people are involved) or not sexual at all. Can you imagine? No shame? Just sexual joy? Or nonsexual joy? Whatever your preference?

Give Yourself Some Grace:
We are only human. We will have good days and bad days, celebrations and challenges. We will make mistakes – even in love, even in self-love. It’s part of life. We need to allow space for ourselves to be human, and the grace to keep returning to love. Loving ourselves is a worthy endeavor that not only improves life for us, but also for everyone who loves us – as well as for everyone with whom we have any connection or even passing interaction. Because when we love ourselves, we spread love in the world. Loving ourselves is not selfish, it is necessary. I like the term, “self-full.” Perhaps we should examine the nuances of the word “selfish” – and understand that while altruism can be admirable at times, looking out for our own needs and well-being is also essential. We need to look for ways to create situations that are beneficial for all concerned – and we can start by being aware of what is beneficial for our own lives. Self-love is a good place to start. You deserve it!

Feeling Safe to Be Ourselves

I wrote this poem called “Small Steps” around 25 years ago. I want to share it and some thoughts about it now – because it feels more necessary than ever (at least than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime).

Small Steps

Do you know what one of the smallest steps in the world is?
It is the step from
“I accept and embrace my full sexuality
as a natural, beautiful part of myself.”
“I love myself exactly as I am, unconditionally.”
From that step to other steps, such as
“I expect to be treated respectfully.”
“I deserve to have full human rights.”
“I have excellent boundaries.”
“I can easily and honestly communicate
my needs, wants, and desires.”
“I deserve to be alive.”
“I am happy to be alive.”
“I am happy that you are alive.”
“You deserve to be alive.”
“You deserve to have full human rights.”
“I can love you exactly as you are.”
“I accept and embrace your sexuality
as a natural, beautiful part of you.”
there are only small hops, skips and little jumps.

The Big Leap is from
where we are now
“I accept and embrace my full sexuality
as a natural, beautiful part of myself.”
that’s a Big Leap that would benefit all of us
to take.

I wish so badly that I could say something deeply profound here. Something that could make people understand that by shaming anyone else for their sexuality – or for their gender, color, age, relationships, or any other quality or characteristic – only makes all of us more vulnerable, not only to shame, but also to dangerous levels of dehumanization, violence, and cruelty in our world.

We have so much fear and judgment around sexuality (our own and that of others), sexual power, sexual connection, sexual expression – unless it’s exploitative, commercialized, controlled, and/or inter-mixed with violence, then it seems to be celebrated. Sexuality is normal and natural! Sexual pleasure is normal and natural and good! Our sexuality is a sacred part of ourselves.

As a society, why are we so judgmental and afraid? What difference does it make to anyone else what type of adult, consenting relationships other people choose to have? What difference does it make to anyone how someone else chooses to dress or to express themselves? Love is love is love is love – and everyone deserves love and respect and dignity and basic human kindness, civil rights, and human rights. Why is that so hard for some people to understand and accept? (these are rhetorical questions – please don’t answer them in my comments)

In 2023, it is shocking to me that as a society, we are becoming less tolerant of diversity, less inclusive, less compassionate, and less free. How is this happening? Why is this happening?

Rights for which people fought long and hard, even sacrificing their lives – are now being mercilessly stripped away. Civil rights. Women’s rights. LGBTQIA+ rights. We’d thought these basic human rights unassailable, not realizing that right in front of our eyes, hijacked courts and legislatures would start banning books and banning free speech and banning women’s bodily autonomy and banning drag … and banning the very existence of some human beings with the genocidal bills they have started introducing and passing.

We urgently need to codify these basic human and civil rights into eternally protected laws. Inalienable rights (thought we already had that, didn’t we?). We need to pass legislation that penalizes anyone for even introducing legislation that dehumanizes other human beings or that threatens the basic human and civil rights of any other human beings – as this type of life and liberty damaging legislation should be considered to be a crime against humanity. We must not ever go back to fewer human rights for anyone! We must move forward into making this a safer world for everyone – except, perhaps, for those who would deny the basic human and civil rights of anyone.

And here’s the thing: we are ALL in this together! It doesn’t matter our gender, our color, our age, our sexual orientation, our ethnic background – or any other characteristic we may have – the fact of the matter is that when anyone’s existence is threatened, when anyone’s freedom is threatened, when anyone’s civil liberties are threatened … then so are ours. Not only that, but it changes the world that we live in. Nobody is safe when anyone is threatened. We are all impacted by how everyone is treated.

No child is safe when a transgender child isn’t safe. No child is safe when a LGBTQIA+ child isn’t safe. No child is safe when a child of color isn’t safe. No child is safe when a fat child isn’t safe. No child is safe until we value and protect and create safety for ALL children! Every single one.

Banning books doesn’t make children safe – quite the opposite! Being ignorant of history doesn’t make anyone safe. Racism, sexism, homophobia, sizeism – these things all make the world less safe for everyone. A lack of empathy, compassion, respect and reverence for all people makes all of us less safe.

We need to take a breath and move into our hearts. We need to create a shield of love that extends to everyone. We all deserve basic human and civil rights. We all deserve to live in dignity. We all deserve to be treated with kindness and appreciation for the unique and diverse individuals that we are. We share a common humanity. We need to stop judging each other for our differences. We need to create a world where there is room for everyone, including ourselves.

My work in the world is to help people to learn to love and accept ourselves as we are, to discover what is authentic and true for us, and to feel worthy of love and connection – essentially, to hold ourselves sacred. When we hold ourselves sacred, it allows us to hold others sacred. When we accept ourselves as we are, it allows us to accept others as they are. When we live our authentic lives, it gives space and permission for others to live their authentic lives. And that is how we create safety in the world – not by building walls, but by building connection, with ourselves and with each other.

I am currently accepting a limited number of clients for my support programs. I also have individual sessions available. For more information, click HERE and HERE. Feel free to reach out with any questions.

I hope that you will feel safe and loved in your life – and that you will extend that to all around you. Imagine what would it be like to live in a world where we held ourselves, each other, and everyone sacred – our bodies, our lives, our sexualities, our love, our humanity. All sacred. What if we were all met in life with love, gentleness, respect, kindness, compassion, dignity, and reverence? Let’s create that world!

Messages & Miracles

On September 14, 2022, I was home alone, sitting on my friend’s couch in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, enjoying the view of the trees and pond behind her house, chatting with my coworker on Zoom. I’d been sitting like that for a little over four hours, with only a short restroom break at one point earlier.

Suddenly, my friend burst into the house screaming at me to “Get out of the house!” “The house is full of gas!” she yelled. “What are you talking about?” I asked, as she went running to the stove to turn off a burner that must have been inadvertently bumped into at some point over four hours earlier, starting the gas leak.

I grabbed my computer and slowly went out the back patio door with her as she flew around the house opening up windows. I didn’t smell anything at all until we were about 10 yards away from the house and I turned back and was met with a wall of fumes that immediately burned my nose, throat, and eyes. What the heck?

How had I sat in a house filled with natural gas for over four hours and not even noticed? I’m super sensitive to chemicals and smells. Air freshener can take me out. I would cringe at the smell every time I lit the stove, that two seconds of escaped gas repulsive to me. How on earth could I have breathed that for over four hours without irritation or harm? How did I not slip into a coma? How did the house not blow up?

There is no answer other than a miracle. Well, a miracle brought to me by the Angels, Guides, and Beings of Light that surround me. I feel certain that my ancestors joined as well in the field of protection that was clearly placed around me. Thanks Mom and Dad!

If I didn’t have two other witnesses to this miracle, I would wonder if I’d imagined it, made it up. I didn’t. It happened. But why? What was this meant to show me? Why put me in such danger to prove a point? What point, anyway? In the months that have passed since, I have mulled this over.

For one thing, it has deepened my faith and made me less afraid. I can look to that moment as a touchstone to remind myself that I truly am always guided and protected. Those aren’t just words I say to soothe myself when I’m afraid or stressed out, but rather now a promise that has been demonstrated over and over again in big and small ways – and yes, now in miraculous ways far beyond human understanding or reason.

Another benefit is that, while I’ve always believed in the concept of miracles – and really, what isn’t miraculous in life? – having a miracle like this happen gives me a grounding in the possibility of anything is possible – the possibility of incredible miracles taking place in my life and in the world. The possibility of meeting my Soul Mate (which meeting I’m feeling and praying is imminent).

Finally, it gave me the message loud and clear that I am here for a reason – that there is a plan and purpose for my life. I’m not done yet. I may not always know where Life is leading me, but I do always know that I am being guided – and that I am surrounded and protected by powerful Angels and Guides and Beings of Light, both known and unknown in my awareness.

What an exciting adventure to connect more deeply with these loving Protectors and Guides of mine! I am writing this while sitting at my desk in our adorable little apartment that I am now blessed to live in, looking out the window at the beautiful old trees blowing in the wind, and contemplating what a miraculous life this is.

Look around for your miracles. They are surely everywhere you look. We all have a plan and purpose for our lives. Stay blessed!

I Am At Choice

There is a quote that I like so much by Jim Rohn: “If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree.” Seems simple, right? Just change whatever isn’t working for you. Do what you need to do to live your best life, the life of your dreams.

I know the truth of this. I know that I am at choice in my life. But, do you ever feel stuck? Do you ever feel like you’ve gone too far down a path to turn around now? Do you ever feel burdened by your “gifts” and training – and what you think you “should” be doing? Or by decisions you’ve made that you feel like you need to stick with them, even though you no longer would choose that if you had a choice? I’ve actually been in that place for a little over 20 years.

Between a combination of people telling me how “good” I was at healing work and massage therapy – that I had “magic hands” and a “healing aura” – and my sense of obligation that this was what I was “here to do” – I stayed in a career that … I’m not sure how to even put it. On the one hand, I felt honored to work with people and help them. On the other hand, I was filled with sort of a low-level dread at doing the work. I don’t know why. I’ve meditated and tried to tune into what was creating the resistance, but I could never get clear. I just knew that if a client canceled, I was happy – and I’m pretty sure that’s not how you’re supposed to feel if you want any success in your profession. Right?

So, the pandemic hit and I took my training and my abilities online. I offered distance Reiki, energy healing, and myofascial release coaching. I threw in some intuitive readings and Oracle card readings – because I think those are fun and that’s been a part of my life for a long time. Only, they don’t feel like as much fun to me when they are “work.” None of those things were my passion – something that would make me excited to wake up in the morning or keep me lit throughout the day with ideas and joy and passion and excitement.

My online business has been evolving over the past year. I changed the name a few months ago when I woke up one morning, inspired to do so, with the name coming to me in a dream. Hold Yourself Sacred. And yesterday, I changed my website significantly to reflect what I actually want to be creating. I took away everything that didn’t make me excited and happy. It doesn’t matter if I’m good at it. What does it serve anyone (especially me!) if I have any inner resistance to it? With Guidance, I expanded the section of what is my true calling, what I most want to bring to the world. I only kept what is a full YES! to me and to Life. YES! Yes, I would happily do this if I were making money at it or not. (I hope I make money because I need money to live on – but I would do it even if I had more money than I would ever need – this is what I was born to do!)

I created new business social media accounts, both because of my motivation to follow this dream of mine … and also because I was feeling challenged to prove a point. LOL (More on that another time – but I’d be so grateful if you’d follow me on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook – and like and share my posts!)

It doesn’t really matter the details for me of what I’m choosing (for now) as my path forward (but feel free to check out my newly improved website!). What matters is – I’m moving! I’m not stuck! And neither are you. I’m choosing what I want to be and do. I’m talking here about my profession – but this is about anything in your life or mine! Relationships. Education. Where you live. Travel. Anything you can think or dream of. What is holding you back? I think that a lot of the time, we are not nearly as stuck as we think we are – it’s just that change is scary. Also, we spend a lot of the time looking at walls and closed doors instead of seeing what options are actually available to us. Or worrying about what we’ll lose out on – because yes, some things and people may fall away when we make changes in our lives. For many of us, there can be quite a bit of fear in the unknown.

The funny thing is, when we even hold an intention of allowing things to shift a little for us – the Universe comes along with options and opportunities. And when we learn to be open to change and to allow ourselves to breathe through discomfort, we can create a whole new life for ourselves – and we can keep doing it, over and over again – being vibrantly alive in each moment. And we can rest when we need to, take a break when we need to. We don’t have to change. But if we see what we want … maybe we can start moving toward it. Tiny steps or big leaps. Just remind ourselves that we are NOT trees! We are not planted. We can move!

I’m having all kinds of big changes in my life right now. I’m about to move cross country (again – I did that a little over two years ago). I’m so excited! I’m looking for a new home. I’m moving without even knowing (yet) where I’m going to land! I am trusting Life to lead me and provide for me. I am feeling in alignment with my good. I am enjoying these last few days here, where I am, with dear friends. I’m looking forward to seeing the friends I will visit with on my way home. And I’m super excited to see where my path is leading me! I don’t know much about what the future holds, honestly, but I do know this: I am not a tree!

Learning to say “YES!” to Receiving

For many of us, myself included (although I’m actively working to change this), our automatic response to someone offering us anything is to say, “No, thank you.” It is out of our mouths before we even have a moment to process if we would actually like what is being offered or not.

Whether it is food, help, money, or even a compliment, we are quick to push it away.

“Oh, I couldn’t take your money, don’t even think of it.”

“That looks really good, but you eat it and enjoy!”

“No thanks, I can get it.”

“I can do it myself, but thanks for offering.”

“I could have done a better job, but thanks anyway.”

Any of this sound familiar? There are a million and one ways that we deny our good, push away offered help, and claim our self-sufficiency. There are lots of reasons why we do that – and I’m not so interested in them. What I am interested in – is how to stop doing that! How to learn to be a receiver as well as a giver. After all, givers need receivers – and we all need community. Independence is over-rated – interdependence is where we all shine and live our best lives. Being a receiver as well as a giver helps to create community and uplift everyone. So, I want to start saying, “YES!” – at least when that is what I want to say – not allowing myself to be constrained by ill-conceived notions of politeness and independence. If I want it and something will benefit my life, I want to say, “Yes, thank you!”

One thing that can help me is to remember to pause. That’s a habit that I’ve been working on. Give myself a moment to check in if I’d like what is being offered – if I need, want, desire, or see that it would be beneficial to my life. I don’t know how I came to feel so rushed all of the time – as though I need to offer an immediate answer to everything – but even just to take a moment to breathe would be helpful. Even better, would be to develop the habit of saying something like, “Let me check in” or “Let me think about it a moment and get back to you.” Give myself some space to decide – to actually decide, rather than responding via auto-pilot (which often doesn’t reflect what I’d actually like).

Another thing I plan to start practicing immediately is saying yes to certain things automatically. I can always use money. Yes, thank you. People who are used to me saying, “Oh, you don’t need to do that,” be forewarned. I no longer intend to say no when the Universe is trying to bless me through you. So, don’t offer if you don’t actually mean it or want to give me what you’re offering. I no longer intend to allow myself to feel embarrassed to receive. Or, if I still feel embarrassed, I’m going to push past that and allow myself to receive anyway, to accept money (or anything good) coming my way – whether it’s for something I’ve done or just as a gift. “Yes! Yes, thank you!”

I can always use help carrying things. I’m getting older and even though I can still probably do (most) things by myself – why? Why do that? Why deny help when it is offered? From now on, it’s, “Yes, thank you!” without hesitation. That is my practice (and it takes practice – this is a new neural pathway for me).

I’ve spent most of my life (until now) trying to be “low-maintenance” and helpful to others. I didn’t want to be “more trouble than I was worth” (a little phrase my Dad, who loved us immensely, used jokingly – but it unfortunately fused into my identity). Previously, in relationships, I gave all I had, but didn’t really expect anything in return. Hoped for things, but also sabotaged myself by saying that I didn’t need anything like flowers or chocolates or gifts – or even to be taken out. I was ridiculously grateful even for a little time and attention. I would like flowers and chocolates and tokens of affection – and to be taken out! Those things would delight me! I’ve longed for romance my whole life! Why would I pretend (even to myself) that those things didn’t matter at all to me? It was like telling myself that I didn’t matter – and that was reflected to me over and over again in how I was treated in relationships. I don’t want to do that to myself anymore!

From now on, I want to own my desires! I want to open up to having all of my wants, needs, and desires met and fulfilled! I want to say a happy “Yes!” to everything that delights me, everything that prospers me, everything that brings me pleasure, every wish come true. YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! I’m singing the YES! song in my head all day long. Of course, gratitude partners with yes. I am grateful! Yes, I am so grateful!

I want to recapture that feeling I had as a little kid before I learned to be embarrassed to accept things. I can still remember tearing through packages on Christmas mornings, jumping and laughing and celebrating my joy at receiving. That’s the vibe I want to carry forward with me now. Celebrating. Accepting. Jumping for joy. Reveling in the happiness of the moment. Letting it all in.

And, you know, as a little kid, it didn’t occur to me to have to pay my parents (or anyone) back for the gifts I received. Somewhere along the line, I picked up the belief/attitude that if anyone gave me anything, I’d “owe” them and have to give them something back of equal or greater value. That also made me hesitant to receive – because what would I then be obligated to give them? I’m breaking that pattern. We don’t have to “pay back” anything. We can give from joy and receive in joy – and not be burdened with tally sheets and worry. Sometimes, we cannot possibly return the favor or pay someone back for the kindnesses offered. Whether or not we have the ability to “pay someone back” – that doesn’t need to be our focus.

We can just accept our good graciously and allow ourselves to feel gratitude and delight and celebration. Our joy is a gift to others too! Joyfully receiving is a gift in itself. I’m not saying to not give back ever – there is joy in spreading around the good in life. But can we just allow ourselves to revel in the happiness of receiving sometimes – without worrying about somehow balancing it out? Be in the moment. Receive. Allow. Celebrate. Share our delight.

Yes to this beautiful day. And yes to the opportunities that come my way. And yes to love. And yes to affection. And yes to prosperity and abundance in all of the varied ways they come to me. And yes to kindness. And yes to laughter. And yes to everything that makes my heart sing. Yes, yes, yes! Yes to having money. Yes to having my needs met. Yes to a beautiful new home. Yes to all of the ways that the Universe is ready to bless me now! YES!!! This is my new practice. To say YES to me and my life! YES!!!

Join me in saying “YES!”?

This Weird Thing Happened

Actually, to be more accurate … I did a weird thing this morning. It didn’t just happen. But it is so surprising to me that I did it – that I’m not even sure how to frame it in my brain. I suppose it’s not really a big deal, but this morning I was sitting on a picnic table by the duck pond down the street from where we live. I was sitting on top of the table because there were lots of red ants crawling all around the ground, so I was keeping my feet well away from the ants.

I was just sitting, meditating, thinking, watching the pond, enjoying the morning. Feeling peaceful and present. Decided to go home and wash my car. I usually walk to the duck pond, but today I drove because my knee was a little sore from walking yesterday. I went home, spent about an hour washing my car. Noticed I didn’t have my phone – must have left it inside. But when I went inside, I couldn’t find it. What?!? Asked my friend to call me. Not in the house. Not in the car. NO! I didn’t! I couldn’t have! I wouldn’t have! There is NO WAY! No way. No way. No way!!!

I got in my car and drove up to the duck pond. Pulled in to where I’d parked earlier. Nobody around. My phone rang as soon as I pulled in – and I answered it, wondering where it could be in my car that I didn’t see it earlier. Then I looked to my left and I could see my phone sitting there on the picnic table. I exclaimed to my friend who was calling (to help me look for the phone) that it was “on the f-ing picnic table!”

That may seem like strong language – like a strong reaction – but honestly, I CANNOT believe that I left my phone behind! Like, it is completely incomprehensible to me that I could have gotten up, walked to my car, got in, drove home, washed my car and spent over an hour not noticing that my phone was missing. Well, I sort of noticed, but I assumed it was just on my desk inside … because of course it was. Where else could it be? But it wasn’t. It made me seriously question – is something wrong with my brain? I didn’t feel ungrounded – on the contrary, I felt very grounded and present. So, how could I have walked off without my phone? Walked away without looking back to check that I had everything? It’s just so weird and uncharacteristic of me.

As weird as it was, I don’t think it was an accident – and I don’t think anything is wrong with my brain (well, anything more than normal, LOL – and I say that with affection toward myself, please don’t take it the wrong way).

I think it was actually a message. I think it was the Universe telling me that It’s got my back. I am safe. Even if I screw something up (like leaving my phone behind), it will all work out okay. Nobody came along and took it. Over an hour later, it was still right where I left it. If I’d known it was there that whole time, I would have been freaking out! But I didn’t know – and everything was okay. So, maybe I can stop freaking out in general. Maybe I can stop trying so hard to control everything. Maybe I can just relax and know that the Universe has got me. Even if I mess up, all is well.

Everything that I need comes to me. Everything I need to be aware of comes to me at the right time. What is mine cannot be lost and cannot pass me by. I am always attracting my good to me. I am always attracting everything I need. I can relax and just be. I can relax and trust and let go of the stress of trying to pay attention to everything and trying to manage everything. I can breathe and know that all is well.

It still perplexes me that I could have left my phone behind. HOW?!? And yet, I’ve been asking the Universe to teach me gently. I’m tired of pain and fear. I don’t want to be pushed. I just want gentle, easy lessons. So, this feels like a fairly gentle, easy lesson – a reminder to have faith. A reminder to trust. A reminder that forces beyond me are looking out for me and communicating with me and guiding me. One of the things I was thinking as I sat “alone” at the pond – is that I’m never actually alone. I’ve always got my whole team of Angels and Guides with me. I’m still thinking/feeling into if there is anything else there for me.

Gratitude. A reminder to be grateful. That’s also there. I am so grateful that my phone was still there. And I am so grateful for how every moment of my life is working out – and all of the plans that are in the works too. I’ve got lots of things happening in my life, including another cross country move (back to near where I started from, but that’s another whole, long story – and this whole out West experience was necessary for my evolvement). So many balls in the air, so many things undecided. I’m not even sure where I’m going to land when I get to the vicinity of where I’m going. I’m flying on faith. I’m not sure about housing or about another future part-time job that I’ll be adding to my schedule. But there’s this rock-solid knowing that everything is working out and I’m heading to where I’m supposed to be. And maybe this was a reminder of that – to not slip into any sort of fear or disaster thinking – but just to quietly, calmly know that everything is working out and all is well. From the little details to the big ones – the Universe has got me in every way and I am grateful!

I Don’t Know

There is so much power and freedom in those three little words, “I don’t know” – and yet so many of us, so much of the time, avoid saying them if we can possibly help it. We prefer to pretend we know, or to demand that we know, or to cling to our illusions and opinions of what we “know.” We worry about not being taken seriously if we don’t know something – of looking stupid, ignorant, less than, or out of the loop. We worry we’ll lose our footing in an argument or negotiation if, (heaven forbid) we admit to not knowing something (or everything!).

“I don’t know” is actually a key that can free us from the prisons of our own minds and our rigid ideas and our oh-so-limiting sense of self if we allow it to. Today, I led a meditation for a group of people exploring the concept of “I don’t know.” I’ve written it down and recorded it – and I want to share it with you here. Enjoy! And if you feel so moved, I would love to hear your thoughts, feelings, and insights in the comments.

Here is the meditation of “I Don’t Know”:

Take a deep breath. You can close your eyes if that’s comfortable – or just gently shift them to something peaceful – like looking outside at a tree or the sky or flowers.

Another deep breath and relax your shoulders. Did they drop when you thought about relaxing them? Were they up around your ears? Just notice … and keep breathing gently, in and out.

Relax your shoulders again. Feel the tension leaving your body. Breathe in and out. Relax your body, relax your mind.

What if you didn’t have to know anything?

What if it were okay for you to just BE … and breathe?

What if you didn’t have to have all of the answers? What if you didn’t have to figure anything out – or fix anything? Just breathe.

What if you didn’t have to hold so tightly to the thoughts of who you think you are? Or to the thoughts of who you think anyone else is?

What if you could just let go of all of the endless chatter in your brain? Let go of all of the judgments, criticisms, irritations, worries, anger at yourself and others. Just breathe and be at peace.

What if the parade of justifications and defenses and accusations would stop marching through your thoughts … and you could just relax and be at peace?

What if you stopped feeling like you had to explain yourself or justify yourself or prove yourself? What if you could just breathe and relax and enjoy this moment, this day, feeling loved and connected? Just breathe.

What if your thoughts just floated on by and you didn’t feel like you needed to grab onto them and cling to them to provide you with an identity?

What if you let the edges of your identity blur a little bit and create more flexibility and expansiveness in what is possible for you? That can feel really threatening for many of us. Just breathe.

What if you could choose in each moment who and how to be, what to create in your life? That can also feel scary to us. So many of us cling to our fixed identities, an illusion of “safety” in the world.

Who would we be if we didn’t KNOW who we are? And yet, here we are, just breathing, sitting in the not knowing. Sitting in some big questions about Life. And still breathing. Relaxing. Drop your shoulders again. Relax your belly. Wiggle your jaw. You are still here. Alive. Breathing. You.

We don’t disappear or lose ourselves just because we question our own thoughts. One of my favorite bumper stickers is, “Don’t believe everything you think.”

If our thoughts and minds aren’t completely running the show, then who is? Who are we? Do our thoughts matter? Are you feeling resistance to this questioning? Just relax and breathe. Just notice.

There is nothing to fix or to change. There is only the breath. Breathe in and out. Allow yourself to connect and feel that inner sense of Self – beyond thought. That presence within that is you.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel anything. You aren’t wrong. This isn’t a test. You are not failing. What if you KNEW that in every moment of life, you were feeling/thinking/living/ experiencing the EXACT thing you were meant to be in each moment?

What if you KNEW that you could not make a mistake – that you could not mess it up? And if you feel resistance to that thought, then can you welcome that resistance? If you could let go of fighting and just breathe.

What if you could be in a space of deep self-love and acceptance – and just relax into that … and breathe?

Nothing to prove.
Nowhere else to be.
Nothing else to do.
Your mind gets a break from thinking and planning and strategizing and explaining.
You get to just be present in this moment, relaxed and breathing.

You can carry this inner peace with you. You can return to it at any time you wish. Just call it to you. Just let go into it.

Take another deep breath, and you can open your eyes if they were closed. Come back into the room and let’s share, let’s explore, let’s ponder without worrying about what we know or don’t know, whether we are “right” or even about who we think we are. Play with being present. Play with how you think. Play with letting go and just Be-ing and breathing. You are loved.

And here is the recording:

At the Intersection of FOMO and Content Overwhelm

I am not sure how to put this into words, but I’m going to attempt doing so, because I think so many of us are caught in this untenable position and we need to talk about it. Ever feel like you’re just about to implode or explode? Too much is happening and you can’t get a handle on it? Does your life sometimes feel like a runaway freight train? Are you always trying to catch up? Or maybe laid flat with despondency resulting from input overwhelm?

FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out, drives so many of our decisions and anxieties. The fact of the matter is that in modern day life, we are always missing out on something. Maybe that’s always been the case, but now we are more aware than ever of all of the things we are missing out on. I don’t think there’s ever been a time where we’ve felt more anxious about all of the things we simply don’t have the time or energy to get to, and all of the information that we don’t have the time or capacity to absorb. We have to let some things pass us by, no matter how great, fun, helpful, informative, or interesting they are.

Speaking for myself, I’m even overwhelmed by having to deal with sorting through and deleting all of the emails telling me about all of the things I’m letting pass by. It’s not just FOMO – it’s the endless inundation of offers and classes and events and information – the content that constantly fills my email boxes and social media and demands some sort of attention. Make it stop!

I’ve started unsubscribing from many authors and spiritual leaders and coaches that I really like … because I just can’t take getting so many emails all of the time. I feel accosted, not invited – inundated and overwhelmed, not inspired. But that seems to be the trend in marketing these days. That’s what all of the “experts” tell people to do if they want to be “successful” as an entrepreneur, whatever their business. I notice it being particularly rampant in the worlds of coaching, health & wellness, and spiritual/personal development (which are my fields), although it’s probably equally pervasive in other fields too.

Do these email campaigns. Post content every day – or at least every other day. Do a podcast. Never let anyone forget you for even a moment … stay in front of their awareness, demand their attention, scream for their attention … and drain your own blood if you have to, but be consistent about getting out “quality content” every day. Hustle, hustle, hustle. Whether you are a content producer or a content consumer, we are encouraged to keep running on that endless hamster wheel as fast as we can all of the time without taking a break … and I am just DONE! I can’t take it anymore. I don’t care about “success” – not if I have to earn it this way. NO! That’s actually very far from any definition I have of success. Worlds away.

I have a lot to offer in the world. But that’s NOT who I AM! This hustle culture has got me feeling like I can’t just relax and BE. I want to just relax and BE! Not all of the time, but yes, a lot of the time! I don’t want most of my human interactions to feel transactional – like I’m thinking of how I can capitalize on these connections, and network, and build my brand. I don’t want a brand! I especially don’t want to BE a brand! Who said we have to have (or be) a brand?!? I just want to be a human being, doing the work that I do. I want to be authentic, open, flowing, and flexible in who/how I am … definitely NOT trapped in some carefully crafted and constantly promoted identity. I will NOT be limited in that way! I’m not at all interested in promoting some image of myself that may appeal to potential clients.

What am I interested in? I’m interested in being ALIVE. I’m interested in hearing people’s stories. I’m interested in helping people to be true to themselves – and to find what is authentic and meaningful and joyful and pleasurable for them in their lives. I’m interested in hanging out with friends and talking. Or just sitting around a fire pit or somewhere out in nature in companionable silence. Or any one of thousands of fun and/or pleasurable scenarios – whatever appeals in the moment.

On occasion, I may have a desire/inspiration to write a blog post or to make a meme – and when inspiration strikes, I will do it. But I will no longer, never again, force myself to try to keep some sort of schedule of posts or emails – or to do things that I’m doing just to try to get business (because hey, I do need to have clients/business in order to survive, you know? – but NOT at the cost of my own integrity). Maybe that makes me a terrible business person, I don’t know. And honestly, I really don’t care. I feel like the whole marketing culture has become very toxic. I don’t want to be a part of that.

I mean, yeah – I’d like to figure out how to get more clients (help more people) and create some financial security for myself. But there’s something that’s surprisingly far more important to me than that: my own happiness – which flows from being true to what matters to me in each moment, responding to life as it comes, and not doing things that don’t feel good to my soul (like being pushy/aggressive in marketing or like engaging in the constant hustle). I don’t have all the answers – and there is so much that I don’t know.

Here is one thing I do know: I feel so much better when I step out of the stream of information and busy-ness and constant doing. I love my solitude and quiet times. I love laughter and conversations with friends, old and new. I love life without an agenda beyond enjoying each day, loving and being loved, and appreciating the many gifts of life. I’m fortunate to have a job (other than my own business) that I enjoy and that covers my basic expenses. That way, I’m not feeling like I have to compromise what matters to me in my own business. I think that’s been a real key to finding some balance and peace for me. I’m not attached to financial success in my business. That takes a lot of pressure off of me – and allows me to have the attitude that if the Universe wants me to serve, then the Universe can bring my clients to me. I’ve hung my shingle. I’m not going to stand at the door yelling for attention, “Come see me!” Not that there’s anything wrong with that – that is just not how I roll – it is inauthentic to me.

As for FOMO, I’m learning to simply trust that any information I need will get to me. Any experiences I’m meant to have will happen. I’ll be in the right place at the right time. Anyone I’m meant to meet will show up in my life. Anyone I’m meant to work with will find me. I’m out in the world. People can find me and choose to work with me. I’m happy to help. AND … I’m also super happy to not feel like I have to chase people and constantly ask them to come work with me. I don’t want to do that. It doesn’t feel good. It’s not that I’m shy. It’s not that I feel unworthy. Neither of those is true. It just doesn’t feel good … and I’m all about feeling good.

So, I’m here if you need me. You may not hear from me for another month or two. Or, who knows? I may get inspired and write again much sooner. But it will be from inspiration – and I’m not making any promises regarding any timetable. You know where to find me. You know I’m here. You can flip through my website to see what I offer. And that’s about the extent of the marketing that I’m willing to do. That’s what feels good to me. And if something else occurs to me and feels good, then I’ll do that. I’m not averse to taking chances or trying new things. I’m simply not interested in pushing myself (or anyone else) into doing anything that doesn’t feel good.

What Is Spirituality Without Ethics?

I spend a lot of my time thinking about holding myself and others sacred – what that means, what practical steps can be used to achieve that state of being, and how that looks and feels. Underneath it all, there is an awareness of the miracle and sanctity of life.

I grew up with a religious background that, as I moved toward adulthood, I rebelled against. I disavowed many of the religious beliefs and training that had been pounded into me and had impacted my childhood and my psyche in some very negative ways. I kept the principles that made sense to me, that resonated with my Inner Self – and as a young teenager, I started saying, “I’m spiritual, not religious.” That remains how I think of myself.

Some of my early training remains deep in my cells. Thou shalt not kill, for example. And the Golden Rule, of course: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. While I have rejected many of the religious beliefs I was taught, I still embrace some of these tenets that do resonate with my deepest sense of right and wrong, and with my assessment of what it means to be a “good” person.

There are endless different paths available as one explores spirituality and our connection with the Divine – whatever we want to call that essence, whether it be God, Goddess, Allah, Source, the Universe, Life, Holy Spirit, Higher Power, or any of the many other names of the Life Force or Organizing Principle of the universe. I don’t believe it matters what we call it. For that matter, many people believe in all kinds of Deities and Spirit Guides and Angels and otherworldly beings of all names and identities.

I don’t believe the names matter. What I do believe matters is that our spirituality is founded upon basic principles and ethics that include the sanctity of human life, as well as love, respect, reverence, kindness, tolerance, generosity, forgiveness, and all of the qualities one would expect in our higher nature. Basic human decency. Compassion. Empathy.

Part of the reason that I rejected religion in general, is that I often see the above qualities missing. Instead, I see judgment, condemnation, and many forms of hatred being taught. Fear being pushed. I haven’t believed in an angry, vengeful God since I was about 14. The phrase “God-fearing” feels so discordant to me. I believe in a Presence of Love and Light.

So many atrocities throughout human history have been committed in the “name of God.” Somehow, I thought we’d move beyond that in this century, but I’ve watched with some horror as religions/churches have grown increasingly political, hostile, and aggressive. I saw the other day where Michael Flynn had declared there should be only one religion in the United States. How scary is that? These fanatics are trying to force their own religion onto everyone. It’s not okay. The concepts of “one true God” and “one true religion” are not only disrespectful of people with all other beliefs and experiences of the Divine, but also dangerous.

I was distressed to see a video a few days ago where a “spiritual” teacher/leader couple used their platform to spread divisiveness and conspiracy theories. They went so far as to advocate for an insurrection/revolution, portending that blood would spill like never before on American soil. They were very “righteous” in their cause. They also spread insane conspiracy theories about the Covid vaccines. Their words had the intention of dehumanizing people who’d been vaccinated, saying that the vaccines created “trans-humans” (no idea what that even means), and that people who were vaccinated could no longer think clearly, but were merely government pawns who’d lost their free will, and would be much more susceptible to demonic possession and such. Basically, they were spreading hate, the willingness to kill their fellow citizens over ideology, and dehumanizing and demonizing anyone who had different perspectives than they had.

The threats of violence and the lies were bad enough, but what made this particularly appalling was that they justified all of this with their false “spirituality.” She tilted her head at one point, listening to her “Guides.” She acted like all of this was channeled through her from some higher vibrational awareness – and that she and her listeners were warriors in a mighty cause – to take over this country and run it how they believe the Higher Realms dictated. What can one say about the delusional, incredible egos of these unbelievably narcissistic people, who sincerely believe that their way is the only way – so much so that they are willing to literally KILL people to force that way on everyone? It is terrifying. They are domestic terrorists pretending to be spiritual leaders.

How do I know their spirituality is false? Because true spirituality spreads love, kindness, and goodwill – not hate, intolerance, and fear. True spirituality demands reverence, compassion, and empathy – not dehumanization, judgment, and indifference to the lives and suffering of others. True spirituality espouses humanitarian ethics. Peace. Love. Helping those who need it. Caring. Any spirituality that lacks these things lacks any credibility. They are simply attempting a power grab.

I will never understand why people cannot just live and let live – why “An’ it harm none, do what ye will” isn’t a normal value that everyone carries. Or why some people stick their noses in other people’s business and try to control them. Yes, some rules make a society function better – traffic laws, for example, like driving on the correct side of the road. But why does anyone care who anyone else loves? Why create hatred for people who choose to live differently than they choose to live themselves? Why be so stuck in one’s own sense of “right and wrong” that they’d be willing to kill another human being over something that is none of their business in the first place? Ideologies are not more important than people! How did people ever abandon the concept of the sanctity of LIFE?

The thing I most don’t understand, though – is how anyone falls for these hate-filled missives as being even remotely “spiritual” – or a duty to “God/Spirit/whatever Name is invoked.” It is so very clear to me that a spirituality that is not rooted in the ethics of love, kindness, grace, compassion, empathy, etc. – is not a spirituality at all, but rather someone’s ego trip – and perhaps an “excuse” for other people to follow along and trot out their worst instincts and aspects of themselves, while pretending to be “righteous,” “spiritually guided,” or some other such nonsense. No true spiritual leader would ever advocate violence or harm against others.

Many of us are spiritual seekers. We find our connection to the Divine in many different ways – and while some paths may resonate for us while others don’t – and the Divine journey can be unique for everyone – the common factor of authentic spirituality is that it helps us to feel more connected to Life, more respectful of everyone’s innate value, individuality, belonging, and path – and more aware of the humanity and sacredness of every human being, including ourselves.

Refusing Shame

Shame. I am intimately acquainted with it. I know the hot sting as shame lashes across me. I know how it feels when shame’s poison oozes through my body, heating my skin, trapping me with its stinging talons, creating feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness. I can remember feeling so consumed by shame at one point, as I was entering adolescence, that I was embarrassed to walk in front of anyone, embarrassed to eat, embarrassed to talk, even embarrassed by my breathing! (Was I breathing too loudly, was I doing it wrong?) Basically, I was embarrassed to be human. Mortified at the thought of all of my imperfections being seen. So filled with shame that I could barely function. So, yeah. I understand the concept and feeling of shame. I’ve been there.

What I know as an adult that I didn’t know as a child is that I can refuse shame. I do refuse shame – and I refuse the people and institutions who would try to instill shame in me. I reject shame. Shame has no place in my life or in my body. How? – you ask? That’s what I’m here to tell you. Overcoming shame has been quite a journey.

I took my first step away from shame when I committed to a self-love path about 30 years ago. I was pregnant with my daughter and already loved her so intensely that I knew I needed to find a way to love myself, so that I could be the mother I wanted to be for her. I wanted her to love herself as much as I loved her. I wanted her to celebrate herself and her body. I wanted her to feel comfortable, safe, and powerful in her body and in the world. Instinctively, I knew I had to create that for myself if I wanted to model that for her. I didn’t do it perfectly – but I did the best I could each step of the way with what I knew at the time and with the energy levels and resources I had in each moment. I’m still doing that. That’s one of the things I’ve learned along this path of self-love – is to accept and even embrace my imperfections, mistakes, and yes, failures.

As a teenager, I read books by John Powell: Unconditional Love, Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am?, Fully Human, Fully Alive, and more. Even back then, I was searching for unconditional love and acceptance. The problem was that I wasn’t giving those things to my Self! I was looking for them outside of me, thinking that if I could only find someone to really see me and unconditionally love me, then I would be okay. I wasn’t finding that love outside of me, no matter how hard I tried, which only served to increase my shame spiral and feelings of unworthiness. Back then, I fully believed that if I could get “pretty enough” (to my teenage mind, that meant “thin enough”) – if I could just get the “right look” – then I would find “true love.” I shudder now to think that I believed that so strongly, that I was so shallow and so brainwashed in that way – but such was the social programming when I was growing up. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t also have deeper aspects of me or that I lacked intelligence or other values and priorities. I was just so consumed with trying to find love in the only way I knew how – in the way by which I had been bombarded with disinformation through society and media for my entire life – that I struggled to see past that.

My deeper soul work and connection began when I went to the Midwest Academy of Healing Arts. There, I learned about soul retrieval and the undefended self and connecting to my Higher Self. I learned about honoring my Self and listening to my intuition and to my Inner Voice. I started to step into my authentic self and to find my own voice and power.

This work continued when I attended many workshops with HAI (the Human Awareness Institute) – and learned to love myself at deeper and deeper levels – and to accept ALL of me. In those workshops, where I got to experiment and play with who I am and what I want, need, and desire – and where I got to discover boundaries and to connect with an even deeper sense of Self – I discovered that complete self-acceptance and unconditional love for Self freed me from shame.

This happened concurrently with my involvement in the fat acceptance/body liberation movement – and the whole-hearted rejection of body shaming, which had been (up until that point) a driving factor in my life. Attending NAAFA (the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance) conventions and celebrating bodies of all ages, colors, shapes, sizes, and abilities was transformative for me.

Which brings me back to shame. Shame lived in my body for many years. I had believed that if I could achieve a state of near perfection, that I could escape shame. What I learned was that as I embraced my humanity and my imperfections, I could release shame. I could refuse shame. Shame cannot find a home in me anymore. Shame may knock on my door from time to time, but it will not be admitted. The way I make shame move away from me is to embrace whichever part of me shame is attempting to attack. I’ve made a commitment to love my Self unconditionally – to allow “imperfections” and humanity and whatever else shows up in me. I’ve given myself the promise that I’d wished once upon a time to receive from someone else: “I love you now and forever. There is no part of you – in the past, present, or future – that I find unacceptable or unlovable. I love you unconditionally. You are safe with me.”

I realize that we are social creatures and that we all need to feel a sense of belonging and connection. I get that. However, I think that it is equally, if not more, important that we connect with our Selves – that we offer the kind of love that we all deep down crave and need to our Selves. I don’t believe that can actually come from anyone else. Other people may love us deeply – but we are the only people who can experience everything going on inside of us (what we can perceive of it, at least – there are vast areas of ourselves that don’t even come into our conscious awareness) – and we are the only ones who can hold unconditional love for all of who we are. And … we can love ourselves unconditionally even if we don’t do it “perfectly.”

Living in a world that constantly tells us – in whispers, screams, and shouts – that we aren’t “good enough,” that we aren’t “worthy” – that we are flawed and we need fixing, that we need to do things a certain way (not our own way) – can sometimes knock us off our center. It’s to be expected. AND … when that happens, we can hold ourselves in grace and compassion and return over and over again to unconditional love for ourselves. That gentle welcoming of ALL of who we are moves us into inner peace. We welcome the rage, the anger, the disappointment, the hopes, the dreams, the almost unbearable love we feel and carry, the grief, the confusion, the loneliness, the desires, the whole human experience that we live. We welcome it and we choose to love ourselves unconditionally. There is no shame in being human.

If we conform or even pretend to conform to what we perceive are society’s expectations of us – if we sell out who we really are and hide what we truly feel, need, desire, and want in order to “fit in” – then we sacrifice any chance at a real sense of connection and belonging. How many people have secretly worried, “If they really knew me, they wouldn’t like me”? How many women, particularly (although some men do this too), have been caught in the traps of people-pleasing, over-thinking, and anticipating other people’s needs, rather than considering their own needs? Is that actually connection, then? Is there a real sense of belonging when someone is busy trying to meet the needs of others (so they matter, so they belong?) rather than being valued and loved for who they actually are?

I am questioning whether we can have a real sense of connection and belonging if we don’t actually love and accept ourselves at a deep level. We can certainly feel love for others, of course. We can have a sense of being needed, a feeling of being of service – and that can make us feel good about ourselves in a way. But if we weren’t needed and weren’t of service, would we still be loved, would we still belong, would we still be wanted, would we still matter? I think that underneath it all, those are questions that plague people-pleasers and people who haven’t learned to deeply love themselves. We need to have a sense of worthiness that is independent of what we can do for or offer to others, that is independent of how we look or what we accomplish. Just by virtue of being alive, we are worthy of all of the good that life has to offer. We are worthy of love – of loving and of being loved. So many of us feel that we are only worthy if we look a certain way or if we accomplish certain things – as if we had to somehow earn our innate worthiness. And so many of us, as Thoreau once said, “lead lives of quiet desperation.”

What if we took the chance of allowing ourselves to be seen? Really seen – as we are. Authentic. Vulnerable. Powerful. All of it. What if we reclaimed all of who we are? Brought back all of the pieces that we discarded along the way because of shame and embarrassment? What if we honored our disappointments? What if we held compassion for all of the parts of us that we feared weren’t good enough or made us “less than”? What if we gave ourselves grace and humor for our developing bodies, our aging bodies, our perfectly imperfect, unique, diverse, human bodies? What if we gave ourselves grace and humor for the ways we’ve been in the world, the ways we now move in the world, the lessons learned and the lessons to come, and all of the experiences of our own lives? What if we held all of who we were, who we are, and who we will be in a space of unconditional love? How would our connections be then? To ourselves – and to others?

What if we knew – no matter who outside of us accepted us or rejected us – we knew that we had our own backs, that we would love and accept our Selves no matter what? Sit with that thought a moment. Sit with the possibility of holding that kind of love for yourself. What if the connection and belonging that we seek were really a connection with our Selves and a belonging to our Selves? And from that place of wholeness within us, we could interact with others without editing ourselves, without compromising ourselves, without betraying ourselves, without selling ourselves out for approval and the “security” of “belonging?” And thus, we were able to create the truly authentic and heart-centered connections with others that we so desire? What if we took our own power all of the way back into ourselves and had excellent boundaries around who we are, what we want and don’t want, and what we will accept or will not accept in our own lives? What if we held ourselves sacred?

There are many things that I could feel shame about in my life. So many things. Failed relationships. Failed business ventures. So many mistakes I’ve made along the way – and incredibly severe lapses in judgment at times. Severe! LOL Many people would be ashamed of my current financial situation. I’m not. It is what it is. I choose to focus on gratitude and to love myself. Many people would think I should be ashamed of my body. I’m not. I reject any body shame for any reason – whether it’s body size, shape, health status, or any other condition of the body. What anyone else does with their body is up to them and not for anyone to judge … and, for me, I don’t wear makeup or heels, I no longer shave my underarms or my legs, and I reject gender-based “norms.” I do shave my chin because it has gotten past the point of tweezing – and I’m not ashamed of the natural processes of my body, including hair growing on my face. It is what it is – and this is a truth for many women. I refuse shame. I hold my Self, my body, and my life sacred.

I don’t care if people who hold values that are not in alignment with my own values reject me. Wanting to be liked by everyone is a dangerous trap, as is looking outside of ourselves for love and approval. We need to give that to our Selves. Mona Eltahawy, a brilliant feminist, recently wrote, “If you’re wondering where along my menopause journey I am, it is far enough that if I hear a voice in my head saying “Oh my god, you can’t write about that!” I WILL IN FACT WRITE ABOUT THAT.” I love that so much. Stepping out of the box over and over again. Refusing shame. Holding unconditional love and reverence for ourselves and each other. We are sacred. No matter how we look, what we do, how we struggle, how we learn, how we move through this life, what happens to us, the successes and the failures we experience – we are sacred. Let’s hold ourselves sacred.

Speaking of holding ourselves sacred and stepping out of shame, I’ve got two workshops coming up. Holding Yourself Sacred – A Workshop For Women, and Shame Stompers – A Workshop For Women. I have linked them – if you’d like to know more, feel free to contact me at psychickath@gmail.com. I also do individual coaching and am happy to talk with you about that. Please love yourself. Know you are worthy. Give yourself the gift of accepting all of who you are with the unconditional love that is available for you to claim in every moment. Love is the truth of who you are.