Mirror, Mirror: Loving my darkness

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall…”

The mirror does not lie. And in the mirror, we can see the beauty and we can see the warts. The light and the darkness. As we are our own worst critics, it is not easy for many of us to look in the mirror and truly love ourselves. It is, in fact, transformative to look in the mirror and say “I love you” to the reflection. Even more so to gaze at my reflection for several minutes, affirming that I love and accept myself exactly as I am. Warts and all.

I’ve been doing this work for several weeks, after having some energy work done when I was feeling depressed and blocked. And it has been transforming and I’ve been feeling great. But progress is still slow and I’m feeling impatient.

xvthedevilAs a tarot reader/intuitive, I read for myself regularly for guidance as well as a way of continuing my study of the tarot. The last few days, number 15, The Devil, has come up a several times. One of the scarier cards in the deck. In some decks it has other names, such as “Temptation,” “Chains,” or, my favorite, “The Big Bad Wolf.” When a card keeps appearing, I sit up and take notice, look for the message, an important lesson. The Devil might point to an addiction or addictive patterns of behavior, it may advise us not to be chained to our fears. It speaks of a darkness in hiding. D-e-v-i-l the opposite of l-i-v-e-d. In the Inner Child Cards by Isha Lerner and Mark Lerner, the 15th card is “The Big Bad Wolf” and depicts a bleak, dark, scary pathway, with a wolf in hiding. The path leads to the tower bathed in the light of the moon. This is the darkness inside of ourselves. The shadow that we don’t want to see.

The message from The Devil card is that it’s time to shine your light into the darkness. It’s time to look at your shadow self and love that part of you. You’ve looked in the mirror and seen the beauty there. You’ve grown in self love. Your imperfections, your shadow, the darkness in you, your wounds, the places where you are broken need your love and acceptance the most. When you deny your darkness, it grows in fear. When you shine your light on your darkness, you heal the broken parts of yourself and transmute it into light.

It’s time to look at the parts of myself that I don’t want to see. It’s time to SEE and LOVE my darkness. Eek. I don’t know. It’s pretty scary down there. Is my light enough?

Fear. Funny, I’ve also been seeing a lot about facing your fear, feeling it and going forward anyway. I know I’m not alone here. I’ve been working on this for a while. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Stepping out of my comfort zone. The past few years, it seems like I’m doing this all the time, going outside my comfort zone, expanding my comfort zone, not being chained to a life not being lived.

But for all that work, I was feeling stuck, frustrated, and depressed. My dreams and desires just out of reach. I’ve come so far, and everything I’m working for just a breath away. But that breath might be a million miles because I still couldn’t reach it.

I knew in my heart what was blocking me, but this one was big, The Big Bad Wolf.

Writing this now feels like I’m walking the bleak and scary landscape of fear. I’ve walked this path alone and now I’m taking you with me. Into the shadows.

Deep in the darkness, I find the part of myself that decided a long time ago that I would do this thing called life alone. Because, well, fear. Because that’s what strong people do. Because, control issues. Because, what if I’m not really worthy of THAT much love? I built a wall and subconsciously kept people out, at the same time, I longed to not be alone.

Deep in the darkness, I find the anxiety that has controlled my life. The anxiety that put up a wall around my heart. The anxiety that told me I was unworthy.

I honestly don’t know how far back my anxiety goes. I never acknowledged it or talked about it until I was 40. I’m sure I can find instances of illness or unexplainable behavior that may have been panic attacks. But the thing I don’t remember being without are the constant critics, the mean girl voices that come with anxiety. I lived a good part of my life with a constant voice in my head telling me I’m wrong, I’m bad, nobody likes me, I’ve done something terrible (I have no idea what) and everybody is going to find out. It’s called anxiety and is caused by a chemical imbalance.

I thought this was normal until I sought help for depression when I was 40 and was prescribed an SSRI anti-depressant that was mostly for anxiety. I was told it could take weeks for the drug to take effect. The very first day, the mean girl voices went away and I felt free and happy. I didn’t stop talking for three months, I had a lot to say. Things calmed down after that, but I set a number of things in motion that were the starting point for amazing transformations (and some amazing mistakes) in my life. After a few years, I weaned myself off the medication and committed myself to a diet and supplements that would keep my chemistry in balance and keep the mean girl voices away.

The real work began. Here’s the deal, the medication made me feel good for awhile, but ultimately, I was not working on my shit and I would have eventually needed more medication. My body, my inner guidance, and my drive to fulfill my purpose in the world told me strongly it was time to get off the medication and work on my shit for real. I got the mean girl voices under control, but they had already wreaked havoc with my underlying belief system and my confidence.

My work on myself and my work in the world has been about self love, about looking in the mirror and seeing the beauty all of us have within us. My work on myself an my work in the world has been about seeing ourselves as beautiful, as every one of us is. My focus has been on body image, but the work needs to go deeper than that.

Loving and accepting ourselves exactly as we are is not just body image. This is going deep into the dark places and loving ourselves there. It’s about accepting the shadow. It’s about the knowledge that we deserve love NOW. We are worth as we are. We don’t have to be perfect to be worthy of love and abundance and realizing all of our deepest desires. We are human and beautiful in our imperfection.

I’m again looking in the mirror every day, now for five long minutes, affirming my love for myself exactly as I am, the light and the dark. I had some energy work done, which got me started and lifted the depression. I saw hope again, the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m tearing down the wall that I built around my heart, brick by brick. The magic is happening and it seems so effortless in the moment.

Some days, I’m still walking in the dark, in fear of the Big Bad Wolf. But I see the stars and the big bright moon. And I’m no longer walking alone.

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Piled High and Deep

My thoughts on politics: There is so much bullshit on all sides, my bullshit meter is buried and spinning out of control.

I thought I’d end it there, but it turns out, I actually have more to say. I’m going to try to say it without endorsing or supporting any particular candidate, because I’m not particularly thrilled with any of them. Well, some of them I don’t know enough about and I’m going to learn more.

This upcoming election has become really personal. There’s a lot of hatred being spewed on social media in response to people sharing their views. A lot of strong opinions, too. I have no problem with the strong opinions. I’m kind of envious that I’m not that sure this time, because I don’t know who or what to believe. It’s the hatred I have a problem with. The name calling. “You’re stupid if you vote for x.” You’re just like him or her. Worse.

We have a place to express ourselves without having to look each other in the eye.

We’re passionate about our positions and we’re vocal. And we should be both. Racism, misogyny, LGB rights and discrimination, corporate and political corruption and greed, issues of the environment and public health, immigration, refugees, and a lot more. We all have our own hot buttons for various reasons. We’re all really divided.

We’re tired of the status quo and we want to make things better. The conspiracy theorists are starting to make sense. We’re being poisoned by GMOs and over-drugged by the pharmaceutical companies, and we’re considering putting the nuclear codes in the hands of a recalcitrant 5-year-old. Tax loopholes mean that the super rich aren’t paying taxes and the burden is falling on the middle class. Children are starving. We blame it on illegal immigrants. Gun control: why has nothing changed when people are shooting up our schools? The whole system is being manipulated by a small powerful group. Or none of it is true, or some of it is.

What’s really important is, whatever the truth is, whatever your truth is, life goes on after the election. Life goes on during the election. We all have the opportunity to look at all of it from a different perspective. Perhaps with compassion. Perhaps through the lens of your love glasses.

It may not always seem like it, but we really all want the same thing. We’re all trying to alleviate the feeling of fear from our own current state of consciousness. We were born from love and we’re trying to return to love. We will return to love – the question is will we start now or wait until we die? We’re all doing the best we can from where we are. Compassion begins from this understanding.

Perhaps we can all be a bit kinder to each other. Maybe we can imagine we’re looking each other in the eye before we start typing. Remember that person you liked before the presidential campaign? The person you had enough in common with to become Facebook friends. Can you look at this person again and see the good? Can we find common ground and work together to make a difference?

The veil is being lifted. We’re seeing a lot that we don’t like. We want change. We debate and we vote, but it doesn’t end there. We have our gifts and our purpose and we continue to go out and do what we are called to do in the world to effect change. Whether our own purpose is global, local, or personal, we do it. Let’s do it together.

Our work in the world is just beginning. There are so many ways we can make a difference. And we are better together.

walkingeachotherhome

 

Burn, Baby, Burn

Day 1: Write about anything, then burn it

She comes into the room, exhausted from a long day at the office, and sits down. Dishes are piled in the sink from a hastily prepared dinner – eggs and toast, again. Clean laundry is tossed in the basket next to the stairs, waiting to be folded and put away. The cat wants attention, alternately head-butting her leg and playing with her feet. Books are piled on the edge of the table to be finished or put away. The laptop sits open, waiting for a newsletter to be written, website to be updated. Files for the business and papers to be filed sit accusingly at the other end. She opens a notebook and grabs a pen. It’s already full dark, the days are getting shorter. She listens as cars drive by. A dog barks in the distance. Some days she can hear the marching band practice. She fidgets in the chair, a little too low for the table. Or maybe the table is too high for the chair. She notices her nail polish is chipping. It’s only been three days. Her foot cramps and she gets up to walk it out. The neighbor is talking on the phone in the parking lot. She sits back down, pen poised over the notebook, and waits.  

10 minutes a day, every day, for 10 days. I’ve signed up for a writing challenge, the intention to get me writing more and procrastinating less. To finally start that book. To spend less time with pen poised over notebook, waiting. I will not promise to share every day, but some days I will.

Burn, Baby, Burn

 

What’s with the pink hair?

I’ve always been fairly conservative in how I dress, my hair and makeup. But when my mom got the first turquoise strip in her white hair, I started thinking: I could do that, but I would do pink.

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to fit in, trying to please everyone. The one who was up for anything, easy going, wanting peace, wanting to be liked by everybody. I went through life worried about what other people would think. I either was who I thought everybody wanted me to be or I did not speak. I felt so different from everybody else, I was afraid of not fitting in.

You can imagine how well that worked out for me, how happy that made me. I’m not sure that I made too many other people happy, either, not really. I don’t think I was very good at being somebody else.

I’ve come to realize that my old story about not being able to maintain any weight loss, about gaining the weight in the first place, is about not feeling safe in the world around me, not feeling safe to be all of who I really am. The extra weight a protective layer between me and the world. In fact, my whole weight loss journey, this time around, has really been about being who I really am, accepting all of me, and showing who I am to the world. It’s about following my light and shining my light. It’s about stepping out of my comfort zone to do what brings me joy, peace, purpose; it’s about expanding my comfort zone so that I feel safe in the world being all of who I am.

What I’ve learned is that I’m much better and more successful at being myself than trying to be someone I think others want me to be. It’s a lot easier, too. I’m not really counting or caring so much how many people like me and how many don’t. I do know that I am more and more in situations where I am accepted and loved exactly as I am. My comfort zone is expanding. I’m living each day more fully. I am happier, overall, than I’ve ever been.

Julie AnnSo, back to the pink hair. It was finally time. I’ve been going through some stuff for a few weeks, not stuff happening to me, but releasing old shit and having a tough time keeping my vibration high. I needed a pick-me-up, and getting my hair done has always been a mood lifter. Not wanting to cut my hair or change the style, coloring it magenta was the logical next choice. While I felt like it would take some courage leading up to it, when the time finally came, it was easy. I thought it might feel dramatic, but it really feels natural, the fun part of myself, right up front. (Remember the mullet, business in the front, party in the back? Party is in the front this time.)

Because this is me.

Teach Me How to Trust Myself

I sat with my health/life coach, telling her how frustrated I’ve been with my cravings. About how difficult it’s been to stay away from potato chips and kettle corn, wondering why my salads of lean protein and veggies aren’t satisfying anymore. I tell her, what I really want, after being mostly gluten-free for several years, is a fucking sandwich. We talked about when and why I originally gave up wheat and how it makes me feel now. How being gluten free isn’t actually making me feel fantastic anymore. She asked me if I would be willing to trust my body and experiment with small amounts of a healthier bread.

I was recently presented with an opportunity to approach my weight loss coaching practice from a different angle, offering meal replacements that have proven results. I talked to some people, did my research. It was tempting, it had proven results, it would be an easy sell, but I didn’t feel in alignment with it, it felt heavy in my gut. I trusted my gut and felt re-inspired in the work that I am doing.

When I was encouraged to start my blog, to write more, the message I was given was that as long as I am authentic, speaking from my truth, I will always be protected. Not that everyone would like me or agree with me, but that I will always be protected. Every time I write or speak, I trust that truth.

Trust has been a theme for me lately.

Like most of us, I’ve been hurt, betrayed, trusted the wrong people, made bad decisions. And like a lot of us, I closed my heart a little with every betrayal, stopped trusting so easily. In my darker places, my expectations have sometimes been colored by what’s been shown to me in the past by others, when the current person or situation has done nothing to deserve my distrust. The people in my life deserve so much more from me than that.

Can I trust myself enough to open my heart?

As I’ve healed from past mistakes, I’ve come to know that my intuition has NEVER led me wrong. When I’ve followed my intuitive guidance, I have always made good decisions, the best decisions for me at that time. I’ve not always taken the easiest path, but it’s always been a positive outcome. The mistakes I’ve made, people I shouldn’t have trusted, there were always signs that I ignored. People really do show you who they are, if you pay attention.

It’s not so much about trusting others indiscriminately, it’s about trusting my own instincts about who to trust.

The life I want to live is calling for me to open my heart and trust myself again. Trust my body, trust my gut, trust my intuition, trust my voice.

Teach me how to trust my heart, my mind, my intuition, my inner knowing, the senses of my body, the blessings of my spirit, teach me to trust these things so that I may enter my sacred space and love beyond my fear And thus walk in balance with the passing of each glorious sun. ~Lakota Prayer

Rose quartz heart

When you are about to give up

“Why are you telling me all this?”
“Because you are trying to realize your Personal Legend. And you are at the point where you’re about to give it all up.”
~from The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

I’ve been here many times, trying to realize my Personal Legend, trying to serve my life purpose, “And you are at the point where you’re about to give it all up.” But it goes on:

“And that’s when you always appear on the scene?”
“Not always in this way, but I always appear in one form or another.”

Feeling frustrated because I was only seeing what has not yet materialized, I “checked out” for a little while with some books and a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. And in order to “check out,” I had to visit the bookstore. And when I was gathering my books for my  vacation from reality, my attention was brought to the shelf a little distance away where The Alchemist stood, as if lighted arrows were pointing at it. The Alchemist, which I’ve been saying I wanted to read for years and never bothered to look for. And this time I bought it.

Only 24 pages in, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” And the very next page: “And you are at the point where you’re about to give it all up.” “And that’s when you always appear on the scene?”

Yes! Frustrated, wallowing in my perceived failure, just about ready (but not too seriously) to give it all up, this book shows up, lit up with fireworks and a band: “Because you are trying to realize your Personal Legend. And you are at the point where you’re about to give it all up.” Wait, are you talking to me? Hello, did we not compel you to buy this book?! Yes, we’re talking to you! “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Do we need to say any more? Look around you, you can see the truth.

My dream is to make a living as a writer, coach, speaker, including some energy healing and tarot reading. I’ve had challenges, made wrong turns, lost my passion, found it again, almost giving up. Every time I’ve almost given up, I’ve had sudden inspiration, an idea, an opportunity that came seemingly out of nowhere, to bring me back onto the path, leading my closer, getting more clear. It can be frustrating and scary. But living the life of unrealized potential, living with NOT realizing my Personal Legend, is scary as hell.

Once again, I’m here, “at the point where you’re about to give it all up.” Because I was guided to write, just write, every week. All you need to do right now is write. Not only is it hard to see how just writing once a week is going to lead me to my dreams, it’s also scary to put myself out there every week, having a subject every week, trying to write well and say something meaningful every week. So I checked out, and still, I was reminded that the universe is conspiring to help me. Oh yeah, the opportunities to join a writing group, the opportunity to submit a guest blog, the 10 day writing challenge, the book with the message I needed to hear, do you think that’s the universe conspiring to help me?

I’ll tell you, the signs are clearer and more numerous this time around. I’m on the right track. I’ve also opened my eyes, I’m noticing signs, and I’m open for opportunity. I’m clearer on my passion, my Personal Legend. I’m committed this time, blood, sweat, and tears, whatever it takes. The universe’s support is matching my commitment.

What is your passion? What is your Personal Legend? What are your dreams? Open your eyes, look around, the universe is conspiring to help you.

What if it’s all Bullshit?

InPursuitofMagicThe thought has crossed my mind that all of my spiritual beliefs, the basis for how I live my life, could be complete and total bullshit. Baloney. Delusion. God, the Universe, the idea of a benevolent, loving, power much greater than I that wants to help me. Angels, spirit guides, fairies. Reiki, energy healing, being affected by the energy of the moon, humans continuing to evolve. Reading tarot, listening to my own intuition, messages from loved ones in spirit, the soul’s immortality, soul mates, reincarnation. Law of Attraction, the power of positive thinking. Magic. Miracles. What if it’s all a lie? What if I’m wrong about everything?

Not exactly a crisis of faith. More of a brutal questioning by my inner critics. Where’s the logic? What can you prove? Does this shit really work? How does this make sense? It may not be scientifically provable, but it does make sense to me. It’s a way of living my life that is working better than anything else did before.

For instance, while there may not be any scientific evidence of Angels, the fact that I have never set myself on fire, gotten hit by a car, drowned in my own kitchen, or fallen off of the rickety chair I stand on to change lightbulbs is evidence enough for me that I am protected by guardian angels. And they probably deserve a raise.

I’ve stood on a mountain in Sedona and it’s hard for me to believe there is not a higher power who created the beauty, the majesty, an energy I cannot describe. I’ve walked in the woods, been out in the middle of the ocean, watched the sun rise and set, and it’s hard for me to believe there is not a higher power. I’ve held a newborn baby and watched him grow into an adult and it’s hard for me to believe there is not a higher power.

I can go on. I have felt the power of reiki and other types of energy healing. I have focused on love, and let love guide me through fear, and experienced the transformation. I have created vision boards, made lists, set intentions, and repeated affirmations, and I’ve watched the magic and miracles occur. Soulmates? When you meet someone and you instantly connect and you feel like you’ve known them for a thousand years? Because you have. It just makes sense.

I believe in my own intuition, and that I am guided by loved ones in spirit, a higher power, angels, and fairies, because, let’s face it, left to my own devices, I royally fuck it all up. (Okay, I haven’t landed in jail, rehab, or homeless, but the mistakes felt pretty disastrous to me at the time) What’s saved me is paying attention to my intuition, being open to guidance from the unseen, being open to miracles,  and noticing synchronicity. When I follow the path that makes my heart sing, I am always, always successful. When I pay attention to my inner knowing, life just works. When I go in the direction of what lights up for me, what feels happy and sparkly, not only is that pursuit successful, but I end up finding other unexpected magic that keeps leading me in the direction of my dreams. I randomly meet people who can help me. Situations open up.

What I know for sure is, when I opened myself up to these ideas that were new to me, life just started making sense to me in a more meaningful way. I found more peace in my life, more happiness. Less anxiety, more love.

Maybe it IS all bullshit. Maybe I AM delusional. Maybe it’s all truth. Maybe there’s some truth and some baloney. Does it matter? It’s working for me.

Really, why would I want to live in a world where angels, fairies, and unicorns did not exist?