Category Archives: Everyday Inspiration

IN SEARCH OF THE NAKED TRUTH: And how I finally found it

The truth is that I long desperately for the simple and the stark. That I look around at the complicated ways we exist. At the stories we tell. And the loneliness at the heart of it all.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 7.22.28 AMI have fought for the truth my entire life. Raised by lies. Married to lies.  I’ve fought to hold a sense of true while standing on a wonky moving ground. It felt that if I didn’t stay vigilant and fight for the truth, that the ground would swallow me up whole.

So in the quest for truth, I became a lawyer only to find myself immersed in this world of story telling. And posturing. Where our simple humanity seemed to have no business being.

Then I found dance and movement. Movement.  The purest and truest of ways to be in the world. As soon as we start to make sense of it,  describe it, contain it. It starts to lose it’s purity.  The words and contemplation starts to narrow and contain experience.

I dance in the park quite often inquiring into the reality of how it is we move and exist.  I would inquire for hours into simply shifting weight from side to side. The many ways I could experience left. And the many ways I could experience right.  The the endless pathways in between. And in this simple inquiry, I felt so ridiculously alive and complete.

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I would ask myself, why if I felt so alive in this simple inquiry, was I teaching dance in ways that felt so complex. So layered and complicated. Why is it that we need to be so entertained by this form, or that form, or the promise of this or that. To lose weight, to free your soul, reach spiritual enlightenment, to lead you to ecstasy.  Why must we entice with such promises, when reality, for the sake of reality,  is so shockingly beautiful.

I came back to teaching movement classes recently. This past Sunday the inquiry started with the simple sway that happens naturally when we stand in stillness. This simple tiny sway that can be tracked back to a nearly imperceptible shift of weight. To the left. Then to the right.

What I can promise you, beyond a shadow of a doubt is that we all sway.  That we all shift weight. Trust me when I tell you that we all spiral.  That we all rise and that we all fall.  That there is truth and  justice found here.

Finally, as a teacher I can stay true to the truth and to myself. I need not make shit up, I need not pretend, I need not resort to anything other than the simple reality of what is already moving in us.  And that this simple truth is magnificent, and fascinating just as it is.

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Lost and Found

Today I woke up in utter tears for the beauty and wisdom that I witnessed yesterday. It started out with little tears and then I was weeping.  I’m following this thread of engaging in conversations with strangers. And really listening to their stories. Yesterday evening I did a short speech on “lost and found” and in preparing for that I asked my Facebook Community for input here. I ended up speaking to 3 wise women yesterday.  I want to speak to what it is I heard. And I want to speak to how very much it all moved me in another blog. But for now I want to leave you with my Facebook posting from yesterday asking for input from others.  I am blown away by the wisdom of strangers. What comes rushing in when you ask the questions and make space for the answers. It is nothing short of pure grace.

Posted on Facebook yesterday morning:

This morning I’m thinking about what it is to be LOST. And what it is to be FOUND. I’m doing a speech on it tonight. And I am meeting with two people today who offered to speak to their experience. One is a friend and one is a stranger who is about to become less “strange” to me. 

And I remember being lost at the grocery store and being found by a worker who called my name over the sound system, and my really worried father coming to greet me there.

And I remember being lost as a late teen. Pregnant. Betrayed. Remembering somehow that finding myself then had much to do with my posse of girlfriends, and dancing to new age music.

And the crushing loss after the death of a soul mate a few years back. How that started something that I’m still following.

And I remember being lost after he left. Holding a baby in the arms of this body. And the abundance that filled the emptiness. And how that all happened.

I am a story teller and a listener of stories. Today I look forward to the enrichment of my life by the stories of two others. How they were lost. How they were found. And the space in between.

May you be lost. And may you be found. Over and over and over again.

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For My Son. This wish.

I was out with my 2 year old son the other day at Hogsback Falls when I happened upon a sweet moment which I shared with a friend via text:

“A neat realization. Out at Hogsback. I caught him blowing on one of those white dandelions.  I never taught him that.  Maybe his dad did.  The imagining of that touches me. That he gets to be exposed to new and different repertoires than I can offer. That I get to be surprised by his growing repertoire”

As background I’ve been a single mom pretty much attached at the hip to my son since he was 6 months old when I separated from his dad under rather fugly circumstances.   Quite honestly it’s the first time I can remember that I’d ever observed him doing something outside the realm of what I’ve exposed him to.

On further contemplation of this moment at Hogsback, I recall the significance of blowing on this white spherical weed. How I engaged in this ritual as a young child and made a wish.  Wishes I no longer remember.  Yet in *this* moment I am filled both wishes and eager anticipation for the unfolding of my dear son’s life.  I wish for him to transcend the bounds of my experience and limitations of what I can show him in this lifetime.  That he evolve to be bigger and better than I could ever be because of the inspiration shown to him by his dad.  Because of the inspiration offered to him by the many others that he will cross paths with.  I wish that the echoes of those experiences will serve him and offer him a growing and expansive repertoire to choose from.  A repertoire that he can see with, understand with, play with, grow with, do anything with, or do nothing with.

And. What a relief!  I don’t have to this alone.  I can relax some.

K one point for my ex. Just one.

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The River Amstel

Waking up in the Dam in a cosy corner in De Pipe (dutch for “the pipe”). Hosted by a lovely Aussie bearing delicious food and affectionately referring to me as his “mate” and “sweetheart.” Running along side the contours and curves of the river Amstel this morning. My mind meandering and wondering …

Will I live aboard a boat? In a house low to the ground, or high above, will I be found? Will I live in Amsterdam, Ottawa, Barcelona or far off lands? Will I marry for love, will I be on my own? Will I just jump from lover to lover, the story is yet to be shown. Will my life be neat and in time, like poetry and rhyme? Or messy and ugly and never in time?  What I know for sure is this view that I see, what I feel in my feet, what I sense that is me. Are those ashes on my feet, from the burning of past?  Are those wings on my arms, am I phoenixing at last?

It matters little to me what the future can see. I want as much now as this moment allows. So bring it on universe, I’m soft yet alert, with strength in these bones, and rooted in dirt. Listening dearly with hands held out plain. To serve and to welcome and reach out for the same.

What matters the most is the space where I stand. The landscape may sway but it’s in this body I land. Come to me river, come to me sand, come to me princes and frogs and far off lands. I run and smile as my feet hit the ground. My life is my practice. Reality. Found.

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Shifting Weight

I recently attended part 1 of a 3 part training in a conscious movement discipline called Soul Motion. It’s an embodied leadership training that recognizes the immense value of being in the body, as a way of cultivating the kind of presence that allows us to lead from a whole, resourced and integrated place.  One commitment I made to myself during the training was to join my local chapter of Toastmasters to continue practicing embodied leadership while speaking publicly.  I attended my first meeting and volunteered to do a 2 minute “table topic” speech. A topic is given to you just before you speak.  Well …. in no uncertain terms, I fell flat on my ass. A complete train wreck. What surprised me though was how I didn’t spin out into story as I know I would have in the past. Stories like, “how can I lead if I can’t speak publicly, how am I to return to the workforce and rebuild a career if I can’t do this, how am I to inspire others?”  Stories that only serve to box me in. What changed? Practice. Process. In this case, the simple practice of shifting weight.  I returned the following week to present a speech on just that. Here it is:

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You may remember me from such places as Toastmasters last week, when I feel flat on my ass in an attempt to tell you all about what my personal feelings were on what the world should do if aliens were to land on the planet next month. Though I fell flat on my ass I must tell you all Mr. Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, honoured guests. There is nothing I want more than this. That I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to step into the places that scare me the most. The places where my personality falls out the back of me and I’m left feeling like an empty shell.  To free fall into the void of darkness. The place of I really don’t know. The place where we take the greatest risk of falling.

I spoke last week about welcoming.  What my practice is these days is learning to welcome myself through my practice of dance and movement. More specifically, I’ve been practicing my walk. Noticing the shift of weight that occurs with each step.

All movement in the simplest of terms starts with a simple shift of weight. A commitment on one side. Establishing that sense of foundation. Release. Commitment. Rebounding.  Shifting and then landing on the other side.  We move from a place of finding foundation, shifting and  committing to another place of finding foundation. What I’ve observed is that there is a risk inherent in this shifting of weight. I know this because I’ve watched my son take his first steps. This place in between where we risk greatly. Losing our balance,  falling down, hurting ourselves, doing the ugly dance in an attempt to recover balance.  But it’s also the place where we have the greatest opportunity to shift, change our trajectory. Grow. Thrive.

What I’ve come to learn is that most of us resist this space in between commitments. We find a comfortable foundation and become stagnant and frozen there or we find a pattern that worked at some point and stay stuck in this pattern even when it no longer serves us.

I know this all too well cause I’ve spent the last 16 years of my life balancing on one leg. Happily married to a handsome, wealthy man.  Financial means that left me free to not have to work for the last 10 years at least.  Living a dream life in a dream home. Finally, after seven years of trying to conceive, completing the fairy tale with a son born 19 months ago. My foundation, as sexy and alluring as it was, was a fairy tale. A highly addictive one that left me frozen and perilously vulnerable for 16 long years.

A year ago my fairy tale came crashing down on me when my now ex-husband suddenly and violently kicked my leg out from under me. I fell from grace over dinner, when he suddenly announced he was leaving me and was out the door in less than an hour.  I came crashing down with all my weight into that place of in between.  I’ve spent the last year of my life recovering from the fall. Finding my foundation and humbly relearning to walk again. To shift weight. This time with a true foundation under my feet.

Learning to sink in and rather than lean in on someone or something to carry me through life, I’m learning to recognize my own foundation. That I alone have the strength and skill and determination to keep shifting and shaping and growing and expanding.  Strong legs that can run a marathon. Arms that have held up my marriage and raised my son.  A strong formal education. A sharp, analytical mind and a body that feels and is alive with sensation and wisdom.  Grit, tenacity, bravery, curiosity, compassion.

And well all else fails, I’m learning to lean into my most important resource. The capacity and desire to stay in love. Cause when all else fails and I’m flat on my ass and lost without a compass in the badlands, self love and mothering myself is all I’ve got.  I’m recognizing that these resources I’ve built over a lifetime are more than enough to carry me to the other side. More than enough to pick myself up from any fall, regardless of how ugly and undignified that fall may be.  And more than enough foundation to rebuild a life and a career on.

What I want most in this life is to be as alive and engaged as I can. To feel deeply. To shift weight and rise and fall. To fall often. Because what I know for sure is that it’s in this falling. In this darkness in between commitments that I’m really coming face to face with the truth of myself. It’s where I’m growing. And risking. And twisting and turning. Widening my field of vision. Strengthening my foundation to keep on doing this work.

I fell flat on my ass last week and know in the past that would have really spun me out. But instead I’ve been really pleased with myself. For stepping into the void. Taking a risk. Falling. Picking myself up. Dusting myself off and not letting that experience hold me back. Leadership I’m learning. It’s not about pulling off the perfect speech or living a perfect fairy tale life. For me it’s about having the courage to keep stepping into myself with truth and authenticity, compassion and love. And to keep on welcoming myself just as I am.

Living in Our Own Blindspot

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When I think back on my marriage of 16 years to X there is an image that so often comes to mind.  Countless meals sitting across the table from him.  I’d be there, ready and present, sharing the joys and pains and challenges of my life. Yet somehow, especially in the last few years we were together, he just simply wasn’t there. He was checked out and who knows where. Somehow, and sadly, I became his blindspot.  Somehow, I became invisible to him.

X and I didn’t really fight a lot. But when we did, they were the same three arguments. The chief among them being this fight to be seen. To be heard. To be valued. To feel that what I had to say was important and meant something to him.  I fought long and hard in this place.  I stayed in this fight because I felt that the extent to which I was invisible to him,  I wasn’t fully alive. I felt like I was literally fighting for my life. All those years, all I really wanted from X was to look up from whatever it was that had his attention. To look up from across the table and really see me.

Just yesterday I sent a text to a most dear and remarkable lover. Parting words as we drift away from one another:

Include

Yourself

You deserve it.

And the extent to which you do is all you really have to offer of any meaning.

What I was addressing in this text was what I perceived to be his inability to fully value is own worthiness.  Finding various reasons to numb out to his own tremendous potential.   Together we had this practice. To include the excluded. To question the many ways we box ourselves in and challenge the worthiness of these boundaries.

What occurred to me at the time I sent this text was how often in this quest to include the excluded, we can overlook to include ourselves. I was at a yoga training this morning and each student was to blindly choose an inspirational saying from several that our teacher had placed in an envelope. The saying I chose was so perfect for me and pointed to so much of what matters to me these days.

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.

 ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

After coming through the fucking shit storm I just came through, I can tell you with great certainty what true bravery means to me.  So much of what I’ve gone through has taken immense bravery. The night X left me, after 16 years of marriage,  blindsiding me after dinner (ironically enough while sitting at our dining table across from me), abandoning me  with a 6 month old baby. What it took to get through that first night.  Or the day I found out he had been unfaithful to me.  The countless days of having to solider forward as a single mom, reclaiming my life. All these things have tested my sense of courage and bravery.  But what I want to tell you is that despite all this, what I’ve come to believe is that the greatest act of bravery is to be present and honest and real with ourselves. And braver yet, to stay present, honest and real despite the fact that the person across the table doesn’t see you.

What I have come to believe is that this ability to hold, value and love ourselves is everything. That the quality of our ability to step outwards in this world is a direct reflection of the quality to which we are able to step inwards.  That the strength to which we are able to step out with is only as strong as the strength to which we are able to step in.  That our ability to be real and present with others is only as strong as our willingness to be real and present with ourselves.  That we can’t truly love another until we’re willing to lay it on the line for ourselves.

For me it hasn’t been easy to get out of my own blindspot. Being so undervalued in my marriage to X took a beating on my own sense of worth. Marriage is funny that way.  The opinions and beliefs of our spouse become a reference point of truth and reality for us. When our spouses turn on us it’s very disorienting.   Consciousness of this pattern helps.   Finding the people that see and and value us helps a great deal.  Probably the thing that helped the very most was a simple commitment to stay in love with myself despite all the despites. And time. Lots and lots of time.

Sure, there are times when we all fall out of love with ourselves, when we become our own blindspot. But the question then becomes, can we keep falling back in love with ourselves.   Can we stay alive and devoted? Patient and compassionate?  Can we keep singing our song regardless of whether or not anyone else is listening?  Can we be brave enough to include ourselves?

As I sit here alone at my dining room table, across from the empty chair that X used to sit in, I think well of my journey this last year.  This is MY voice. This is MY story.  It is dear. It is precious. And it is worth telling.