We’re ALL Crazy

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I have a lot of theories floating around inside this noggin of mine. None of them are backed up by scientific evidence, at least to my knowledge, but they’re hypotheses that I ponder over when I’m plucking my eyebrows or scrubbing last night’s lasagna pan. Some are about how Mat Foley was the best  motivational speaker in history and others are about the percentage of probability of my ever being able to log on to the Obamacare website, despite how much I want to. I also have this one that has been brewing for a good fifteen years.

Hyphothesis: I think we all suffer from a mental illness to varying degrees. 

Wait. Hear me out.

I posit that we all have dabs, sprinkles or dashes of numerous mental illnesses. Remember when Gary Larson of The Far Side fame drew the cartoon wherein God sprinkled “Jerks” into the big ol’ soup pot of humanity? I believe there was also a canister of cray-cray added to said pot. And, if you know anything about making soup, you know that the longer it cooks the more each ingredient takes on the flavor of the spices. So… therefore, we’re all a bit whack.

Hypothesis proven? Here’s more:

The DSM-5000, or whatever number they’re up to nowadays, classifies mental disorders and has a whole slew of explanations on the signs and symptoms of mental illness. The key, however, lies in figuring out how much a condition affects your life. For example, let’s say you have a dab of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, which I do.  Does my OCD not allow me to function in society, does it, say, affect me to such a degree that I’m unable to perform daily tasks, or work, or live? If it did affect me with a certain degree of severity each day, and I was unable to function in my day-to-day life, I would be smacked on the forehead with a black stamp of OCD.

But, I just told you I suffer from a smidge of OCD, right? It’s not a huge disruption to my life, rather I’m like that dude in Sleeping with the Enemy in that all my soup labels face the same direction and are stored according to their contents. By no means would I place the Cream of Celery in the vicinity of the Vegetable Beef.  Are you fucking kidding me?  I also check my stove burners every night before I go to sleep. Three or four times. And I count while I’m doing it, “1 Off, 2 Off, 3 Off, 4 Off.” Yep, I said it. I count my damned stove burners as I attempt to turn them off (even more tightly than they’re already off – bending the plastic knobs almost to the breaking point) and I repeat this sequence a number of times.  If I get distracted by thinking “You crazy fuck, just go to bed” I have to start over.  And that’s it. That’s the extent of my OCD (well, except that I also use a straight-edge and level when placing things on my work space.)  See what I mean by a dab of a mental illness? A sprinkle of “crazy?” Like I simmered in the soup pot of humanity for too long?

I’ve also suffered from depression during a bout of undiagnosed physical illness. I had been feeling sick for years and I had gone from doctor to doctor to doctor and had test after test after test, but they just couldn’t figure out why my stomach was producing enough acid to clean the seaweed off the remains of the Titanic. I was sleeping for hours, showering once every four or five days when the smell was more than even I could take, and was just generally lethargic. My last visit to an M.D. resulted in a prescription for anti-depressants and I went home so angry I couldn’t see straight. Not because I didn’t agree that I was depressed, if you’re sick for two fucking years it tends to happen, but because that was the last ditch effort to cover my symptoms, ignore the root cause and leave me with no answers as to what was wrong.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I also have a dash of Body Dysmorphic Disorder or maybe Anorexia Nervosa, in that, when I weighed 107 I looked in the mirror and saw 130 and now that I weigh 130 I look in the mirror and see 170. To boot, when I hold my medium-sized Victoria Secret panties up they look Extra-Large to me. This doesn’t affect me to any severe degree as I still eat a bag of Almond Joy pieces every night before bed and have never been into purging, except after copious amounts of Stoli O, Goldschlagger, Beam and Jäger.

And… anxiety – forget about it. There was one point in my life where I couldn’t walk into the crowded bar I worked at and manage all the energy without six mind eraser shots.  Oh, and the blessed insomnia… every few years I spend a couple nights staring at the clock as I mind-fuck some situation that’s been vexing me.

It’s not just women…

And we all have these dabs and sprinkles of one thing or another. This renewed interest sprung up when I read Harris O’Malley’s article in the Huffington Post “On Labeling Women ‘Crazy’.” Women have been labeled hysterical for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, but I posit that we ALL suffer from crazy, here or there. Men too. I haven’t dated a single guy who doesn’t have his own infused bit o’ nuts – and not the ones dangling between his thighs, either. Being human is so complex and life is so full of experiences that are tough to handle. I always wondered, when someone I’ve known has lost someone they love, why they’re prescribed anti-depressants or sleeping pills. Someone they loved just fucking died. Are we not allowed to feel it, to move through that range of emotions that comes with loss? But, that’s a blog for another time.

Why do we view our morsels of “crazy” in such a negative light? Why is it called “crazy” in the first place and why the negative connotation? Define normal for me. Really, I’m serious. Define normal. I’m not particularly satisfied with Merriam Webster’s definition of “conforming to a type…”  Conforming? Ick.  My tinge of OCD has brought great benefits to my life, I’m super organized and able to bring order to loads of chaos (and I’ve never had a fire in my home, even though the boyfriend has left the stove burners on three or four times since we’ve started dating.) When I worked at a mental health agency for seven years I thought about this a lot. Sometimes, in fact, I thought that the mentally ill people I worked with might just be more “normal” than “we” are, as if the veil was thinner for  them.  On my very first day on that job I met with a schizophrenic woman, we’ll call her Pam, who sat down at the gray-specked Formica table in front of me, her Marlboro Reds pack dangling out of her front jacket pocket, and told me she was Pocahontas, only to insist, twelve minutes later, that I call her Bill.  While it scared the shit out of me at the time because I didn’t know how to react, I drove home later that day thinking… Hmmm, I wonder if she’s remembering past lives or if she’s in touch with the collective consciousness of all of us, like she’s all those people at once in a place where time in an illusion.

I’m not here to discount the severe suffering that many people experience due to mental illness. Rather, I’m here to own and appreciate every emotional and crazy part of me. I adore that I cry at the end of Love Actually. Every. Single. Time. I’d rather have five minutes of feeling every range of emotion, than to walk through a lifetime without that sensitivity to the beauty of life. I LOVE my ability to bring order to chaos. I appreciate that my bouts of depression allowed me to hunker down and hibernate and get clear about an area of my life that was supremely dissatisfying.  I could do without the dysmorphia, but perhaps I just haven’t looked hard enough for its gift and I need to buy different panties. Plus, my desk looks fabulous.

8 Things I’d Rather Do Than Shop on Black Friday – 2013 Edition

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Yup folks, it’s time for my annual list of things I’d rather do than shop on Black Friday:

  1. Attend a farm to table dinner with tea baggers (either kind.)
  2. Swim with Tilikum at Sea World wearing nothing but a sardine necklace.
  3. Watch Miley twerk for 94 consecutive hours while eating a steady diet of frozen uncooked McRibs.
  4. Act as the late Ariel Castro’s tube sock in prison (pre auto-erotic asphyxiation.)
  5. Surgically embed strings of Craisins & popcorn in my mammary glands
  6. Sign up for NixonCare with an Apple Lisa.
  7. Ask Paul Ryan to inject a hefty dose of Krokodil into my vagina.
  8. Sit in the eye of Hurricane Sandy reading the Left Behind series.

If you missed the 2012 list, you can find it here. Till next year.

Books, Happiness & “10,000 Hours”

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I’m afraid to write this blog post. I’ve worked it, and re-worked it, and re-worked it a gazillion times. For two weeks. It just doesn’t sound tortured, no matter how much I edit. My usual angst over… whatever… is gone. My writing flows when I’m suffering… over a break-up, a spiritual crisis, a stubby toenail. I alluded to this issue in one of my last blogs When Things Are Just Too Good.

I’m fucking happy. Almost every area of my life – my relationship, my work, my creativity, my family – all of it, is just as smooth as Nutella. Some days I feel like I’m going to burst wide open, like a tabby kitten in a microwave, because I’m finally doing work that I’ve spent my entire life preparing for. My Book Shaman business is forming and flowing in such a magical way that I wonder if I’ve actually had my sticky fingers in any of it, or if the Universe cooked it all up by itself as I sat there squeeing and swooning.

It’s tough to write that. I have this belief that folks don’t really want to hear how well things are going for you. Hell, sometimes, even when I’m blissful, when someone asks, “How are you doing?” I’ll say, “Okay.” I wouldn’t want to smear my joy all over them, especially if I know things aren’t going so well in their lives. I feel folks would rather know that my health is a crap sandwich on rye and I’ve made about three girl friends in the two years that I’ve lived back in Utah. But… frankly, I don’t care about those things, they just can’t diminish how awesome I feel about the good stuff.

I’ve been gnawing on the words of a friend of mine for months. It’s a process very similar to that of my lil Yorkie, So-Kr8z, as he chaws, repositions and commences chomping and slobbering all over his prize piece of steer pizzle. The words were these, “You know, when you find your true path, you discover that every little quirky thing about you makes you perfectly suited for the task at hand that leads you to your destiny.” With those words, I realize I may have had my hand in a lot of this after all.

Case in Point:

My very first memory of myself was hiding behind my dad’s ratty, brown recliner surrounded by twenty-some Walt Disney books. They were hardbound and glorious and I wish I still had them, even with their crayon scribblings. I loved those books way more than any of my toys or baby dolls, even more than my Baby Alive who pissed her pants on cue.

My love affair with reading continued as I grew. My step-father, a number of years later, wasn’t fond of the Nancy Drew books I was obsessed with and would require that I read a history book of some type and give him a written report. The history books were big, heavy and dry and I loathed them. Little did he know that they were just large enough to conceal Nancy and the sexy Hardy Boys inside their pages.

I spent many an hour at the library of whatever town I lived in at the time. I could describe to you the layout and smell of libraries all over Wyoming. A true gift. It was in the Campbell County Public Library where I received my sex education by sneaking a copy of Wifey by Judy Bloom off the shelf and reading it in its entirety in a day.  My most fervently longed for Christmas gift was the box set of the Little House on the Prairie series bound in canary yellow. I’ve never wished for a present harder before or since. I still have them.

As an adult my house is chock full of books. I have standing bookshelves and a half dozen floating bookshelves. There are books in every room. I am a book hoarder. When I left my marriage of ten years and moved across country I took with me a single twin mattress, my clothing, two bookshelves, and thirty boxes of books. I have over six hundred titles that I’ve kept over the years all catalogued into an app on my iPhone in alphabetical order by author. There are over a hundred titles that I haven’t read yet that are categorized on my “To Be Read” shelves. My Amazon Wish List is thirteen pages long with books that I started adding back in 2000. I keep a book journal, complete with a grading system, of every book I’ve ever read.

When I was a senior in high school my grades were poor. I’d received straight A’s the year before and was the English teacher’s pet. In 12th I was placed in college English, but I just didn’t have the gumption to apply myself that year. I don’t recall that anything specific was happening in my life, just that I didn’t care. In order to graduate, my college English teacher required that I read nineteen novels in order to graduate. This was like asking a Canadian goose to suffer by flying.

I knew I wanted to be a writer at the age of seven. I’m not sure which came first, the reading or the writing. There are some who aren’t sure what their life purpose is, but that’s never been an issue in my life. It’s always come back to the writing. I started out by penning stories about witches with carbuncles. I tried my hand at a few love stories as a teenager, but my real passion revealed itself when I started reading young adult fantasy in my late teens.

I took countless Creative Writing courses and I read just about every book ever written since the beginning of time about the writing process. The phrase most used in my life is Richard Rhodes’s, “Apply ass to chair.” Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Stephen King’s On Writing are my most cherished tomes. I majored in Creative Writing in college. I’ve absolutely bathed in everything writing since I can remember.

Not to mention my obsession with all things writerly. In fourth grade, me and my BFF (also a writer) spent hours in stationery stores buying paper, pens, stickers, and notecards. Screw the toy stores. We were obsessed.  Crap, I still get a thrill when I walk into an Office Max. I’d rather shop for paper than clothing.  I’ve been searching for the perfect pen for my entire life – I do not jest. It must feel comfortable in my hand, have a medium tip, in blue, and it must flow flawlessly, none of that skidding across the page leaving miniscule white spaces in my cursive.

So what does it all mean? Well, I never dreamed that my 10,000 hours, of Malcolm Gladwell fame, would turn into my work. I find myself knowing, inherently – like I know Mother Theresa was kind – how to do this Book Shaman work. It’s in my blood and sweat and urine. I always thought my 10,000 hours were just for my own novel.

This is all to say, don’t limit yourself by just what you can dream up. Dream. By all means, dream, but, just know that the Universe is much more clever. You just have to put in the hours.

And things are going swell. Happiness abounds.

(No kittens were harmed in the writing of this blog post. I love kittens. Truly.)

The Other Women…

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I’ve just returned from an eight day trip wherein I was wholly surrounded by women.

Hence the blog silence and the anemia.

Mind you, I did have the briefest of contact with men – there was the barista who sprinkled nutmeg on the foam of my morning chai and the fiancé of one of my new clients who supported the two of us in lifting the heavy boxes and the two “handy” men who unclogged toilets at our venue, but that was it really.

This complete female immersion has found me thinking about women very deeply – my relationship to them, my angst around them, how I show up in the world as a woman and how I see other women show up. I’m pondering vulnerability, strength and transparency. I’m wondering why I’ve been bleeding for 16 days and if it’s because I feel the need to cycle with every. single. woman around me until the end of time.

I’m sitting in a coffee shop as I write this and watching two female friends embrace and say their goodbyes – they’re not back patting, they’re actually breathing, heart to heart, into the hug. Another group of women sit at a table nearby bouncing little man infants on their knees while they frantically attempt to connect – to say just a few words over the baby babble, to feel the feminine. I imagine they don’t see it that way. They may just be talking about sore nipples and the removal of skid marks from their husband’s skivvies, but it’s connecting with the feminine that they’re doing, whether they realize it or not.

Four days of this eight day dive into the feminine were spent at Mayacamas Ranch where we rented a mountain near Calistoga to take 35 women on a Vision Quest.  As the “handy” men steered quite clear, I was forced to sit amongst this sisterhood and deal with my fears, my past hurts where women were concerned, my jealousy and my comparison tendencies. I don’t know about every other woman’s experience, I only know mine, and I won’t share any of the details of this sacred time because I feel called to hold the container tight. But I will share what’s come up for me and tell you that my perception has been forever changed.

I have uttered these words in my life.

“Most of my friends are men.”

“Women are mean and catty.”

“I don’t trust ‘her’ around my boyfriend.”

And… you know what? Some of these things have been true for me at different times in my life. I have had girlfriends try to hook up with my boyfriends. I have been hurt more deeply in relationship to women than I have to men. I have experienced women who are mean, catty, and jealous and who didn’t particularly wish me well. And… admittedly, I’ve been guilty of those things as well.

I have spent many a decade comparing myself to other women, as well. “Oh, look at her, she’s amazing.” “See that girl? What a great ass, I wish mine looked like that.” “Wow, my cheekbones aren’t nearly as defined as hers.” “Look at her… she doesn’t look like a boy when she turns sideways.” “And her… she’s published her novel.” “What about that one, she’s beautiful, inside and out, how can my boyfriend not notice that?” Look at her… she’s (fill in the blank).” No where on earth has this been more egregious than on beaches everywhere during swimsuit season.

None of this is to say that I don’t appreciate women and what they bring to the world. I have actually prided myself on my wont to lift the women around me up. I compliment girls and women, to their faces and to others. I call out their beauty, inside or out. I really do want other women to succeed. I want equal pay. I steer clear of another woman’s man.

However, I think most of my life has been spent in comparison with them – in thinking that I’m somehow lacking because of their brilliance; that my core is diminished when I stand beside them.

Sadly, my story is that most of my relationships with women have consisted of my giving until depleted and not feeling particularly supported and replenished.  I think you know of what I speak – the friends who call to talk about their dysfunctional relationship for three hours. Again. And at the end of the conversation, right before they need to hang up, say, “Oh, and how are you?” And then there are the women in my life who haven’t wished me well, who didn’t want me to get the promotion, who got me fired because I was climbing the corporate ladder too quickly, or who tried to hook up with “my” guy.

We women have every reason to be wary of each other, but, oh, how I long for that not to be the case. I see a world where we lift each other up, where we refuse to engage inappropriately with each other’s partners, where we support, honor and nurture each other and meet up in red tents, and where our allegiance lies with each other – friends, sisters, maidens, mothers and crones.

I had that experience during those four days in Calistoga with forty-one beautiful women from all over the world so I do know it’s possible. The brighter the woman next to me shined, the more I wanted her to shine and was able to access the shine within myself. The more deeply vulnerable the woman sitting in circle was, the more I loved her and the more I allowed myself to be vulnerable. The more authentically a female spoke her truth, the more connected I felt with her and the more courage I received to tell my own.

And when a woman bled, I bled beside her. In more ways than one.

When the Magic Is Just Too Good…

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Some fifteen years ago, when I was deep in the study of Native American spirituality, I traveled to the Black Hills of South Dakota to attend a powwow. As I was just about to fall asleep the night before the event – you know that time, when your body is starting to jerk, but you’re still conscious – I saw a vision of a very old Native American woman – “sage”, “wise” and “ancient” were all terms that came to my half-conscious mind. She had to have been over 100. Her withered deeply lined face hovered over me and her black eyes twinkled with light as my whole body tingled and I felt myself start to lift out of my physical form to travel with her to only God knows where. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. It was pure magic and it was what I had been waiting on for seven years, minus the peyote.

About seventy five feet off the ground I started arguing with my monkey mind inner critic.

Me: OMG, this is beautiful. Feel this. I’m traveling with my spirit guide. She’s here. I’ve finally met her! I knew she’d come.

Inner Critic: You don’t even know this woman. She’s probably wanted in ten planes. She’s going to take your soul and you’re going to die on this gray shag carpet with the dark roast coffee stain next to your head. The chalk outline they make around your body is going to look goofy with that stain there.

Me: No, I’ve been waiting to meet her and experience this for my whole life. This is transcendental, dude. I’m floating. See my body down there? Look at her, she’s beautiful.

Inner Critic: Who are you? Fucking Sacagawea? Come back down. You’re never going to be able to find your body if you leave. You’re going to float around up there searching for a way to get back until the end of time.

Plop… just like that she vanished, my fear and asshole Inner Critic won, and I was laying back down in my body, tears streaming down into my ears. I haven’t seen her since, nor have I experienced anything even remotely like that ever again.

And now there is, once again, beautiful magic afoot, my friends. Not just for me, but for everyone I know. Folks are starting businesses they feel called to start, I’m launching a website and a whole new chapter of my life, many are feeling called to be “bigger”, to shine brighter, to be more authentically themselves, and to stand in their power, some even feel  as if they’re just being led down golden paths of bliss – morsels of rich, dark chocolate being placed on their tongues while being fanned by gorgeous goddesses wearing shiny feathered headresses. It’s all good stuff, right?

Of course it is. Holy crap! Are you kidding me?

And it’s also really, REALLY scary.

For me, at least.

Recent conversation with the boyfriend:

Me: Holy shit, this all feels so serendipitous and beautiful and terrifying! Everything is flowing so perfectly and happening so fast. It’s magical. Can you feel the magic?

BF: It will all work out. I have faith in you.

Me: Yeah, but it’s all moving so quickly I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I know it’s good. It’s all GREAT stuff. I get that, but it’s overwhelming.

BF: It is all great stuff.

Me: Yeah, but what if I can’t keep up? What if it doesn’t work out? What if I’m fooling myself? What if the magic stops? What if…

BF: It won’t, you’ll be fine.

Me: Yeah, but…

Despite my boyfriend’s wise verbosity, I wasn’t satiated and quickly called a friend who would dine with me on the brunch of my fears with fist pumps and bacon thrown in for good measure.

We deduced that when things are going too well; when the magic is, well… too magical, we have a tendency to feel as if the other shoe will surely drop (and we’re talking a size 14 worn by a superstitious basketball player who’s donned the same pair since 1993.)

I have a sneaking suspicion that my friend and I are not the only ones whose monkey minds go here (and there and everywhere) trying to cling to the magic because they’re afraid it will disappear as quickly as 7-layer dip at a Superbowl party. And the irony is that when we head down this path of waiting for the Converse to drop, of fear and grasping and those “yeah, but’s,” inevitably the Converse is gonna drop. Hard. And we’re going to be smothered in foot powder with no magic to be seen anywhere.

Why is it so hard to stay in the flow and the magic and bliss? Hell, I can’t even allow my forearm to be tickled for too long because it just feels too good.

I’m beginning to realize that the magic is always there. It never goes anywhere. It’s just that we can’t access it when we’re bogged down by our lizard brains. Magic is simply our thoughts, intentions and energy manifest.

But I’d love to hear your thoughts on releasing the fear. Any tricks for staying connecting to the magic? Tips? Insights? Bueller… Bueller…

Do It. Before You’re Ready

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I just launched my website. It’s been hanging out there in cyberspace, shivering and alone. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ve just been afraid to put myself out into the world in this way. I’ve told exactly five people about it and every single time I feel exposed. Anxious. Naked (With a lover. For the first time. After a bikini wax gone awry.)

The funny thing is that when gunk comes up for you, the big “U”niverse sends you all sorts of direct correspondence if you’re paying attention.

A couple months ago, for example, I read a fantastic article by James Clear about how successful people start before they’re ready.

I didn’t listen to that lil’ tidbit from the Divine. Not really.

So, as I was working with an author on his third book, I read a chapter he’d written about how he’d put himself out into the world in a profession he’d never worked in before and how his very successful business was launched from that experience. (Yes, I’m being vague, the book isn’t out yet. You’ll find no spoilers here.)

I sat up a little straighter when I read that chapter. I pondered and let it go.

Today, as I was talking to the glorious artist, goddess and visionary, Shiloh Sophia McCloud, I realized that part of her success has come from starting before she feels ready and from always answering the calls from the Big “U.”

Me? Well… I typically don’t hear the call because my phone is on vibrate, or I’ve left it in my car, or I don’t have the energy to talk in that moment.

Okay, that’s not true (though if you’ve ever tried to call me you might disagree.) Today, however, in talking to Shiloh my ears perked up, my heart got a jump, and I paid close attention.

As I thought about it – this starting before you’re ready – I realized that I’ve actually started tons of things before I felt ready.

Case in point:

About six years ago I began to build a small accounting business in Cleveland. The clients were pouring in – an Italian restaurant, then an HVAC company, then a coffee shop… My big break, or so I thought, came when I went on an interview with a company who needed someone to do an inventory of their 20,000 square foot building and every nut and bolt in it. As I donned my canary yellow hard hat and walked into the basement to look at pipe fittings bigger than my head, I thought perhaps the job was out of my league given my background of recording pizza dough receipts into Quickbooks Pro 2007.

The company ended up folding before I really got started, thank God, but my little accounting business did quite well despite that loss.

Then there’s blogging, diving out of a plane at 11,000 feet, moving 2,000 miles away from friends and family to an unknown land, bartending Coyote Ugly style, quitting jobs to pursue my next path… I didn’t feel ready for any of these things when I started them and, for the most part, all of them turned out to be fairly successful leaps (literally and figuratively.)

Despite the fact that I may not feel ready, I’m going to “launch” my site. I’m not going to wait until I have the perfect shade of gray (no pun intended) in my headers or the polished-to-the-nub descriptors of my services or the right version of the 5,000,000,000 pictures I had taken to tell my story or until I have sixty years of experience in the coaching arena. I’m just going to show up, here on my site, as authentically me as I can be and wait with bated breath to see what the Big “U” has in store in regards to my latest ventures.

Hell, I’m going to post this blog before it’s ready, edited and re-read for the fortieth time. I’m cray-cray like that.

Go ahead, big “U”, make me a vessel.

What are you ready to do begin before you feel ready? What are you waiting for?

Do You Feel Heard?

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Do you ever just feel like no one hears you? As if you’re floating under the Pacific screaming “SHARK!” and the rest of the world is sunning themselves on the beach and watching their kids splash in the waves with sand on their arses?

Case in Point:

For the past few weeks my hair has looked like a particularly worn down coat of a buckskin mare who has been rolling around in the mud.  Sort of dingy blond with a dark brown stripe down the center.

I do not exaggerate. The difference between the color of my roots and the rest of my hair was as stark as a skunk.

So I went in search of a new stylist as the last time I got my hair cut in Utah it resembled a Q-tip that has been forgotten in a travel bag for the past seven years – slightly yellowed, frayed off of the cardboard tip like the last wisp of cotton candy on the stick, and, not to mention, forlorn.

I found someone at a reputable salon here in Utah and made my appointment.

Yesterday:

Me:  I look like a buckskin mare (Googled stripe on mare’s back to show stylist).  I want to get rid of that and blend it with the rest of the blond and I’m not loving the orange/copper color in my hair, it’s too much and the colors are too cool. I look washed out.  And I’m REALLY trying to grow my hair out. I don’t know what I was thinking when I cut it off last summer. Mid-life crisis, I guess.

Stylist:  (Chuckles) Sure. We can add in some warm tones and keep the light blonds and just shape up and trim.

Me: Perfect.

(Exit stylist as she prepares three bowls of color that all look exactly the same. Enter stylist.)

Note to self: Something is wrong. Where is the tinfoil? She’s using that big paintbrush to slop color right down my horse stripe. What’s happening? My 5 year old niece Adri paints better than that. It’s on my forehead, whatever color that is will stain my forehead and I have to go to a wedding tomorrow. (Hyperventilates)

Me: Can I ask what you’re doing?

Stylist: Have you never had color without tinfoil?

Me: No

Stylist: This is the easiest way to handle color like yours.

Me: (squirms in sticky leather seat)

As I exited the salon and glimpsed myself in full sun in my side view mirror, I was stunned to realize that I now look like the Heat Miser from “The Year Without a Santa Claus” (combined with a buckskin mare and a hog-nosed skunk.) My hair is blond with a streak of flaming orange down the center. Add to this the fact that she took a good two inches off of parts of my once-all-one-length-in-an-attempt-to-grow-it-out haircut and had wielded a razor like a whirling dervish, ensuring that after tomorrow’s first wash I’ll once again look like that flaming Q-tip of old.

Sigh…

I recognize that this is a first-world problem. Kids in Africa are walking miles for drinking water and a place to dip their combs. But for fuck’s sake wasn’t I clear? Didn’t I say I didn’t like the flames? Didn’t I say I was trying to grow my hair out after a mid-life crisis gone wrong?

But this blog isn’t just about vanity and wearing a hat for the next three months. I do have a larger point to raise here. Last week I watched Oprah’s commencement speech to Harvard and it really struck me when she said that no matter who is on her show, from Presidents to rock stars to soccer moms, invariably at the end of the taping, in some form or fashion, they ask her if they did okay; if they were HEARD; if they were seen.

Isn’t that the truth? Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? Simply to be heard and seen from those we interact with? There have been many times in my life where I haven’t felt heard and yesterday was just one small glaring (literally) example.

And I’ve noticed that when I don’t feel heard I will keep saying the same thing over and over and over in an attempt to force someone, subconsciously, to hear me.

Yesterday, I told this stylist in a myriad of ways, how much I wanted my hair to grow out.

And I’ve heard others do this with me.  I’ll be having a conversation with someone and they’ll say the same thing again and again and in my mind I’m thinking “what are they doing? I get it.” But here’s the reality – they’re not feeling heard, seen or acknowledged by me. It doesn’t matter if I’ve heard them loud and clear, the point is that they don’t feel as if I’ve heard them. Have you had this happen to you and wondered what that’s about?

If we go back to the basics – back to Communications 101 – in those scenarios, wouldn’t it just be kind to repeat back to the person what we’ve heard them say to ensure that we get it – that we really do hear them? Maybe that’s why we feel so alone at times – so separate and cut off from the oneness – because, let’s be real, sometimes we aren’t really listening. Sometimes we’re playing Candy Crush on our smart phones while checking Facebook every 3.5 seconds and thinking about the Almond Joy pieces hidden next to our beds.

I sure do wish the stylist would have repeated my words back to me yesterday, “Okay, so you don’t want to look like Mr. Heat Miser reincarnated as a buckskin mare who coupled with a hog-nosed skunk and you regret the decision to cut off all of your hair during a 700 kelvin hot flash. Got it.”

There’s Not Enough Time (& Other Crackpot Illusions)

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I’ve been thinking about time a lot lately. Specifically:

  • Where has it all gone?
  • How can I get more of it?
  • Why’s it moving so damn fast?
  • I have none.
  • Is it really possible to bend it? (Keep reading.)

Last week I had a short coaching session with one of Martha Beck’s Master Coaches – the slathered in Awesome Sauce, Jen Trulson. I won’t get into the boring details of the whining which led up to my takeaway, but essentially I have a deeply ingrained thinking error that says, “There’s not enough time.”

There’s. Not. Enough. Time:

… for me to take in sustenance.

… for me to pant on the treadmill for a measly 10 minutes.

… for me to shave my legs (and most definitely not for the subsequent braiding of the leg hair from lack of said shaving.)

… for me to take time off (ponder that one, folks.)

… blah, blah, blah.

But the thing is, I know, at the deepest level of my core, that time is a man-made construct. Who’s the asshat who came up with Leap Year, people? I have long believed somewhere inside of me that time is an illusion. Maybe part of a 42nd dimension that we just can’t comprehend yet. I started to get an inkling of the proof of this (from what my tiny brain could understand) when I first read Einstein’s Theory of Relativity – essentially that “the laws of physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers, and that the speed of light in a vacuum was independent of the motion of all observers.”

Say what?

At first, I thought the trouble boiled down to my vacuum which is like 12 years old, the belt constantly smells like burning rubber regardless of how often I change it, and the rotors are so mired down by hair and bundles of dust that it doesn’t pick up. Jack. Shit.

My brain was really stretched thin, however, when I read what it now my favorite explanation of “time” from The Complete Conversations with God:

A true understanding of time allows you to live much more peacefully within your reality of relativity, where time is experienced as movement, a flow, rather than a constant.  It is you who are moving, not time. Time has no movement. There is only One Moment… Your science has already proven this mathematically. Formulas have been written showing that if you get into a spaceship and fly far enough fast enough, you could swing back around toward Earth and watch yourself take off. This demonstrates that Time is not a movement but a field through which you move…

Ding, ding, ding… “what have we got for Him, Johnny?”

Add to all of the above thoughts the Buddhists’ wisdom of living in the present moment. Samiddhi, a disciple of the Buddha, says, ““I, friend, do not reject the present moment to pursue what time will bring. I reject what time will bring to pursue the present moment.”

I’ve often had moments wherein I’ve thought those Buddhist people were smart as hell. But what really lit my brain fire was when I started thinking about this Buddhist way of living as opposed to our American way of living (my way of living) – multitasking. For the longest time I thought I was an adept multi-tasker. But the more I tried to do it, the more I realized that multitasking is just one more big, fat illusion. We think we’re multitasking when, in reality, we’re dissipating our energy so that one task does not receive our full attention which causes us to feel scattered (and a bit crazy, really) and the task itself is done sort of half-assed. But, the real zinger, came when I realized that by focusing my attention, fully, to the one task at hand actually expanded time for me.

Bending Time?

Here’s how it works for me. If, in the morning, I wake up and immediately repeat this mantra a few times, “I have plenty of time” and “I have all the time I need,” and then go about my task of answering my four gazillion emails in a focused way, doing only that task, time does seem to pass more slowly. In fact, if I just focus on my email (without moving on to a website I need to make changes to, or a call that needs to be made) I can look at the clock feeling like it should be way later than it is for the amount of work I’ve gotten done. Read: Holy crap, it’s only 10:45 a.m.? I’m totally awesome. I ROCK. Nope, I BOULDER.

Alternatively, if I wake up in the morning and think of my gatrillion emails, the website I need to build, the calls I need to make, the fact that I need to register my car, the payroll I need to cut, blah, blah, blah and I go about my day weaving in and out of all of these tasks, moving from one to another without ever really completing any one thing, I look at the clock and it’s 4:30 p.m. and I’ve accomplished notta. Nothing. Zip. Read: Holy crap, it’s 4:30 p.m. and I’m a totally worthless pile of dingo dung.

This is physics, people, I don’t fully understand it. My brain hurts from trying to write this post and actually convey any semblance of rational thought.

The Leftover Bits

Just like in any task I take on, putting together my own IKEA bookshelf, for example, there are always a few bolts and baubles left sitting on my floor. Here are the questions I’m left to ponder:

If movement were to stop, would “time” stop altogether? Are clocks only measures of relative motion? Am I bending time when I focus, fully, on the NOW? It sure feels like it.  Think about it: If it’s you moving through time… Are you running? Are you frantic? Are you calm and centered? Are you fully present in that moment or are your thoughts dwelling in a future time while your body is where it is? Maybe it’s our thoughts that do the time traveling and we all know we can’t be in three places at once… Or can we? I dunno, but I’ve definitely felt the magic of tinkering with time and stretching it out and I’ve also felt the effects of letting it run all over me – harried and chaotic.

Before he died, Einstein said “Now Besso [an old friend] has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us … know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

Exactly.

The Arctic Tundra of My Soul

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I haven’t had much to say. Maybe you’ve noticed. More likely you were busy fighting with family over the turkey neck , making popcorn garland interspersed with bright red cranberries and hiding your kid’s frightening Furby on the back shelf at the top of your closet.  Perhaps you’ve been hanging out in said closet, below your fancy party dresses, eating your Valentine’s chocolates.  Maybe you’re mapping out your spring garden.

For a writer, having nothing to say feels like mammoth emptiness. It feels like the Grand Canyon, only bigger.  It feels like Russia. In the depths of winter. After a blizzard. At minus 40 degrees. Wearing only a white wife beater and a pair of tattered yoga pants.

I’ve been on a pretty intense spiritual journey over the past few months and my flip-flops are so worn out that the balls of my feet are pushing through the soles onto the pavement.

I’m exhausted.

I haven’t slept since October 2002.

I’m too tired to sleep.

The overarching theme of my recent spiritual road trip has been rest.

Whispering to horses

I recently traveled to California with Lissa Rankin to meet up with Martha Beck and her team for a “Heal the Healer” curriculum planning meeting. Our plan is to train fifteen doctors in a new way to practice medicine and the purpose of our trip was to experience what the healers will experience on the opening week of this program. Martha brought in a brilliant team: an amazeballs energy body worker, an astounding horse whisperer, a gifted coach and empath, and a number of others. I’m not wholly ready to share the entire experience with the world, but I will share one part of the weekend.

It was our first day working with the horses and Koelle Simpson, the horse whisperer, asked me before I went into the corral with my horse what intention I wanted to set. I told her that I wanted to reconnect; that I’d felt very disconnected for the past ten years. I also told her that, in the past, most of my relationships have ended because I’ve burnt myself out with my giving so that, once I’ve given all I could give without being filled in return, I bolt. Gone. No warning. No previous indication. Notta.  I eluded to this phenomenon here. Essentially I told Koelle that I wanted to end this pattern in myself and to reconnect to the magic.

Before I even entered the space with the horse I was crying. Not the sobbing-snot-running-down-your-face-guttural-cry that makes some folks uncomfortable, but rather the streaming-tears-rolling-down-your-face-crying that makes some folks uncomfortable; that kind that you can’t control no matter how hard you try to suck it up and make the tears stop.

When I finally went into the ring I stood maybe twelve feet from the horse. I didn’t approach it right away I just stood there looking at it, trying to feel what it needed. I did this for quite some time. Eventually I approached the horse and put my hand on its nose, still trying to gauge its needs. Koelle definitely had my number. She knew exactly what I was doing. And in the most loving way possible she chided me.

“What are you doing?” Koelle asked from the wooden platform above.

I don’t remember exactly how I replied, but it doesn’t matter. Koelle knew the answer already.

“The horse doesn’t need anything from you,” she said, “the horse is perfectly content. He’s curious. What are you trying to do?”

While I don’t remember my response, I too knew what I was doing. I was trying to see how I could help the horse. I wanted to sense how he was feeling. I wanted to be there for him. Was he scared? Nervous? Pissed off? Did he need to take a dump, but felt bashful because I was staring at him?

(Are you catching on to how utterly ridiculous that is? Yeah, I thought so.)

The thing is, Koelle was right. That horse didn’t need anything from me. And, just like that, my time in that corral became about me. Koelle asked me to do whatever I felt comfortable doing. And I walked right over to the center of that ring, ignoring the horse, and sat down in the soggy shit and mud and I cried that same cry that can’t be controlled.

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When Koelle asked what was coming up for me all I could say was “REST.”

My memory is so fuzzy, but I believe this is the time when Martha chimed in from the stands and told me to drop down into that feeling of rest. Apparently I dropped down so far into rest that all of the people in the stands could feel it. They closed their eyes and for some distance out and away from the corral there was a very heavy silence. It was as if my energy of rest were a storm rolling across the valley, blanketing everyone and everything in its path.

Suffice it to say I definitely reconnected to the magic that weekend and as Lissa and I were driving across California back home I told her I wasn’t ready for re-entry. She said she wished that she could show me Big Sur. I told her perhaps we should just go stay in Big Sur and so we did. It truly was a restful and peaceful time and the weekend was full of hot springs, calling in dolphins and bending forks with my mind (a blog for another time.)

The thing is, now that I’m home and back to the grind, I’m not sure I know how to rest. Take a nap? I have shit to do, I’ve got this blog to write, I’ve got buttloads of work waiting for me, I need to buy toilet paper.

Soul Truthing

Still ruminating on the idea of resting when my plate is as full as the Bellagio buffet, I used the gift of a Soul Truthing given to me for Christmas from Monica. I wrote down three questions and sent them to the slathered in Awesome Sauce Soul Truther Tracie Nichols. They were “action” questions like “Yo, what’s up with my novel” and “Tell me more about my business” and “Why am I so disconnected.”  Apparently, Tracie wasn’t moved by those she communicates with to tell me how to work harder or apply ass to chair to work on my novel (though we did get to those questions). No, rather she said she was being told that I needed to know that my flame has nearly died out; that I’m in a life raft, but I have the canvas pulled over my head and I am crouched in the fetal position.

She went on to say that in past incarnations my soul has been a brilliant, fierce and fiery blue-violet flame akin to Athena and Hera. When she told me my flame had nearly died out I could only picture a little, sputtery flame like those cheap-ass candles you buy at Walmart with the whacked out wicks that never burn properly and the build-up of wax almost puts the flame out altogether when you burn it.

It scared me. Does that mean I’m almost dead? It terrified me more because I felt the truth in her words. Not that I’m dying, but that my soul flame is a akin to a cinnamon apple candle from the Walmart that was made in China by folks who trim the wick too short and place it, not in the center, but to one side of the candle so that the blackened soot always rises to one side and stains my fingers. That’s my soul right now. Tired, exhausted, blackened – an itty bitty flame like an old man with erectile dysfunction.

Not only do I feel the truth in her words, I feel that truth in my body. I remember times in this life where I’ve been that fierce and fiery blue-violet flame. And I can also see that I snuffed it down with guilt, shame, copious amounts of vodka and distance from Source.

Tracie said there are resources hovering all around my life raft like fireworks. My anal detailed action mind wonders if they’re specific books, if they’re yoga, if they’re meditation, if I’m going to meet someone with one of those fireplace bellows doo-hickies that you pump together that blows air at my flame and fans it up.

My soul realizes that this is an inside job. Damned, though, if I don’t feel like I’m floating around in that life raft; no shore in sight. Perhaps, as with my overwhelming desire to rest, I’ve just been burning my candle at both ends. Regardless, my session with Tracie has had me reflecting for months with its depths and layers and I’m infinitely grateful for both my trip to California and my trip with this gifted soul truther.

So that’s where I am, my friends. I don’t have a closing for this blog. I haven’t figured it all out. I have no wisdom to impart; no neat wrap up with a recurring theme, a bright red bow and a card with a picture of a fluffy kitten. But I hope your spring garden reaps a beautiful harvest.

A New Way to Set “Resolutions”

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Maybe it’s the Virgo in me, but I actually like New Year’s “Resolutions.”

I also enjoy taking the hundreds of books off of my book shelf each year, caressing them gently with a dust cloth, making out with them, and adding them to the book app on my phone, so that I don’t buy the exact same book when I go into Barnes & Noble and think “Ooooh, this looks great.” (Yeah, it was. The first time I read it ten years ago.) I adore how the process of rearranging them is all mine and has nothing to do with alphabetization, but more to do with how much I loved them (if I remember reading them at all.) I’m an anal Virgo Warrior Librarian, for sure.

Yeah, I hear all of you… “Resolutions are bullshit, what makes January so special, it’s just another month. You’ll only last till February…” And on it goes.

But, to me, there’s something powerful about a fresh start; a brand new year; the first day of a string of 365 days. It makes me want to clean shit with Q-tips. I find myself saying “put some Windex on it.” It makes me want to try again. It makes me want to get rid of the Jagermeister stained clothes from my bartending days that are still, in truth, staining my psyche. It makes me want to think about the potential that the new year holds.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know, I hear you – any day can be a fresh start. You can choose to begin anytime. You can pick March – “his shoes are purple.” It’s true, but in this month I just feel it a little more potently. It’s not yet been mired down by a random Tuesday in June when I feel hopeless and go back to bed for two weeks with watered down cans of Cream of Celery soup and stale Zesta crackers.

I set some powerful intentions this year on January 1st. Big intentions. Intentions I have no idea about how they’re going to come to pass. And in these past 20 days some of them are already like little green seeds curling and popping out of rich icy soil. The potential and mystery of them are magic – like psychedelic-fairies-popping-out-of-black-top-hats-shitting-rainbow-colored-piles kind of magic.

A Different Way to Set “Resolutions”

I learned this intention setting process from my friend Mike Robbins. Essentially you write out an intention – almost like an affirmation. Something like this, for example, in the area of Spirituality:

I have a deep and abiding relationship with Source, feel reconnected and in tune with the magic all around me.

Then you write out your goals in regards to spirituality. Here are a few of mine:

  1. I am a clear channel for the spiritual/religious aspects of my novel.
  2. I go on a spiritual vacation full of magic.
  3. I read spiritual books that deepen my awareness and that resonate with me.
  4. I bend re-bar. (Another post for another time.)

Lastly, you list out actions you can take to meet your goals around spirituality. Like these of mine:

  • Write each day
  • Read books that resonate with me full of aha moments and which deepen my connection.
  • Say what I’m grateful for each night before bed.
  • Workshops & or Spiritual Retreat.
  • 2 Sessions with someone to work on the spiritual this year

And around and around it goes. I do this for Spirituality, Health, Family/Relationships/Friendships, Work/Life Purpose, Money, Home/Environment, Fun, & Charity. Not unlike assessing the stones in Lissa Rankin’s Whole Health Cairn.

There is something so profound about this process of getting very clear and actually doing something about it. In fact, it reminds me of the saying “The Universe isn’t going to give you whack, if you don’t know what you want.” (Or something like that.) It also reminds me of what’s so lacking in books like The Secret. You can’t just sit there and wish for the Ferrari, you need to feel it, you need to get off your arse and “actionably” move in that direction in some way, then you need to release the attachments to whether or not you’ll be tooling around in that car. (And there’s more… this isn’t a lesson on what’s lacking in The Secret.)

But one thing I know for sure. Truly. The Universe can’t give you what it is you think you want if you haven’t even given thought to what you want.

When I first read The Secret and watched the movie I remember thinking about my novel incessantly. I would sit there and picture my novel published with the words “International Bestseller” embossed at the top. I would see my novel at the top of the NYT Bestseller List – for years. I could feel it deep down in my bones and thus I would squeal, despite myself, whenever I would feel that feeling. I even made the book cover complete with the artwork I wanted to grace it, the blurbs on the back, the review by the New York Times, even the publisher on the spine and I pinned it, with love and hope, on my vision board. But I hadn’t been sitting my ass in that chair and actually been putting words to blank pages. What did I think would happen? The fairies would fly over to my computer and shit fibrous fairy dust on my keyboard and write it for me? That I would wake up one morn after slurping two pots of Red Ginger tea and look over at my desk to see a bound, edited masterpiece that was all packed up and ready to be shipped to agents?  Yeah, I sort of think I did think that somehow, but now that I’ve returned from la-la land, I realize that you do need to set very clear intentions, very clear goals, and have some action steps to put them into place.

That’s when the magic happens.  Not before that, not while you’re sleeping and fairies are crapping fairy dust on your inaction – that comes later.

Case in point

(I’m not sure why I put this under my “Money” section and not my “Work/Life Purpose” section, but I did and I’m not questioning it.)

Intention: I am wholly financially abundant, aware, and healthy.  Money flows and expands with ease and I no longer have to “work hard” to obtain money.  I lovingly release any and all limiting beliefs around money and am wealthy in my relationships, friendships, and financial life.

Goal: I begin doing more coaching/space holding and explore the possibility of working more in that capacity than day to day routine tasks. I fill myself and learn to work with my empath energy in a way that is fulfilling and magical for myself and others. This work fills me up, but doesn’t deplete me. I learn to hold this space in a healthy way, so as to do this work even more.

Actions/Practices:  Talk to another empath about ways to increase my space holding business and work on ways to increase and work with my empathic nature.

As I said, I wrote all these on January 1, 2013. I took that action. I called another empath and asked for her advice. I got a list of resources from her to work on. She shared with me the foundation of a coaching program that, while unexplainable, lights my fire like nothing has for quite some time. I started reading books on the subjects of empaths and wayfinders. And… voila, three days later I got a call from someone who wants me to be the spaceholder for their business. Just like that.

Here’s the beauty. I didn’t have to have all the answers before the fairies started defecating all over my visions. My intention is pretty damn clear, right? But I wrote that goal and I honestly had no unearthly idea what that would look like. And I was very okay with that. In fact, I remember saying to myself, “I don’t need to know the cursed ‘hows.’” I trusted that the answers would reveal themselves to me.

When I made that “action” call to a fellow empath, I said to her, “I have no idea what this looks like, but this… is how I’m feeling.” And it’s like that damned fairy, through this empath, shat the answer right into my lap and then, relieved of her burden, smiled at me.

And let me tell you… the joy around that feeling of connection, trust, and giving in to whatever will be without attachment, is unsurpassed. It’s better than steamy sex, ice-cold Jägermeister, and the lapping of puppy tongues on your cheek.

I still don’t have the answers to all of this. I’m fumbling around, blind-folded, I definitely can’t see it all. I don’t need to. But I can smell the fairy poo pervading every nook and cranny of my life right now. I’m stepping in it and smearing it everywhere. I’d daresay I’m ready to wipe it on the walls. And I’m remaining open to what comes.