Choosing to Stay and Be Human

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Photo by Austin Ban on Unsplash

 

“Eros is the drive of life, love, creativity, and sexuality, self-satisfaction, and species preservation. Thanatos, from the Greek word for “death” is the drive of aggression, sadism, destruction, violence, and death. At the conclusion of C&D, Freud notes (in 1930–31) that human beings, following Thanatos, have invented the tools to completely exterminate themselves; in turn, Eros is expected to “make an effort to assert himself in the struggle with an equally immortal adversary. But who can foresee with what success and with what result?” ~ notes on Sigmund Freud’s theories by Professor Easton in UMN 221 notes

 

This is where we are at right now. We have a huge, powerful wave of aggression, violence, and an incredible drive toward death as a species happening on our planet. But, Eros is making ‘an effort to assert himself’…the impulse to live, the drive to life, the force of creativity, sexuality, and species preservation!

About six months ago, I went through a really hard time in my life. I had been doing some deep work and uncovered something that had always been present in my life, but up until now, I knew it as more of a general sense of not really wanting to be here — like a withholding of myself from life, from relationships, from truly entering into life unbridled, unmasked, and no longer afraid to speak and create as my heart wants to speak and create. But at this moment, for the first time in my life, really, the impulse to end my life appeared out of the blue. It was only an idea for a moment, but the power of the desire toward death was what was shocking. It was truly an incredibly strong energy. I am grateful that I have the ability to reach out to a few people in my life who could hear it and could hold me as I needed to be held. I never was going to do anything, but that impulse is what began to teach me about life and death and how we dance between these two powerful energies, Eros and Thanatos, all the time.

Before this moment, I had been totally engrossed working with ‘Eros’ and its importance to our world. I had started a podcast called, “Awakening Eros” and felt so compelled to talk about it, research it, share it, and to really understand what Eros is. And then, my feet grew cold. I held back. I wondered if anyone would understand. Heck, I didn’t even fully understand the intense drive within them.

But after this moment happened, I was now very aware of the power of Thanatos — the drive toward death. And over these past months since this moment, I’ve come to see how — in both little and big ways — these two drives fuel much of the unconscious ways we inhabit our lives. And how Thanatos suppresses our own impulse toward living a full, joyous existence. I was killing my own drive to explore and express everything I sensed inside around Eros and love and being human.

Thanatos does not have to appear as taking one’s life to be present in our lives. It is present all the time. It is the drive toward death, just as Eros is the drive toward life. But there are many ways to kill our life drive without dying. We kill our joy. We kill our own impulse to create. We kill the power and desire for true sexual expression.

The Poet, David Whyte, speaks of the single malt essence of one’s not wanting to be here. In reading his words for the first time a few years ago, I was able to bring to light this deeper desire within me to run away. I have both stayed in and left situations when I wanted to leave. Leaving isn’t always running away. And sometimes it is.

As I’ve contemplated this dance between Eros and Thanatos, I’ve wondered if I (and any one of us) can truly make a full choice to stay, can truly choose this once, or if it has to be chosen over and over and over again. And I’m not just saying this in the large sense of life or death, but in the small moments where it feels like you will die if you stay and can only survive if you run, or when it feels like you will die if you run and can only survive if you stay. Moments in relationship with others, with yourself, with your work, with a creative project.

Whyte writes,

“Strangely, we are perhaps most fully incarnated as humans, when part of us does not want to be here, or doesn’t know how to be here. Presence is only fully understood and realized through fully understanding our reluctance to show up. To understand the part of us that wants nothing to do with the full necessities of work, of relationship of doing what is necessary, is to learn humility, to cultivate self-compassion and to sharpen that sense of humor essential to a merciful perspective of both a self and another.”

This impulse to live, the impulse toward life, the fear of entering into the mysterious realms of creativity, sexuality, vulnerability — being human, really — requires us to acknowledge the depth of our not wanting to be here, and perhaps the pain that life underneath it. That is what I needed to see and it is what brought me more present to my life and to a kind of humility and self-compassion I am only beginning to crack the surface of. The sense of humor is a glimmer I spot every now and then.

We often read that 80% of life is just showing up. You’d think that this would be so simple. Just show up and life handles the rest, so many say. But now I am thinking this isn’t so easy for many of us when we have this compulsion to run. And in the case of facing what’s here on our planet right now? What if 80% of this right now is showing up? I mean, though, REALLy showing up. Not running. Staying even when “part of us does not want to be here, or doesn’t know how to be here.”

I know for me that being here brings great grief when I long to feel so deeply connected to others, to touch and be touched, yet I fear the same as well. I long for it and I fear it. I long for a human world where we care about each other and each other’s welfare. A world where all people of every race, class, orientation, ability are seen as of equal value and worth, where all people have the chance to be happy, successful, loved, and known. A world where all creatures are seen as of equal value. A world in which the Earth is loved just as she loves us.

I would hedge a bet that very few of us, if any, truly know how to be here at this time on Earth. How does one be here in the face of what is happening? But this is where humility comes in. We’ve been an arrogant species for a long time. But to be here now, facing this, staying in this human relationship because we know it is where we can grow and evolve both individually and collectively — that is the invitation.

Staying because the love that we are asks this of us.

We stifle our fullest self-expression on so many fronts. We hide our hearts. We hide the bigness of spirit and the depth of the soul. We hide the true desires that fuel our sexuality and creativity. But most importantly we hide our tenderness and our fear that our not knowing how to be here makes us weak, that our reluctance to stay makes us somehow broken. Instead, I think they are what makes us human.
At a time when Eros is challenging Thanatos, and when love is trying to make a full emergence onto our planet, it is our humanity we must come to be present to. The seemingly incoherent mess that we see ourselves to be. Being human is messy. To be human is to be awake to one’s own vulnerability in the face of all of this and NOT KNOW what to do or how to do it. Being human requires us to feel, to ask for help, to realize our own powerlessness even as we engage with the creative strength and power that flows from within us. Being human is existing in contradiction and paradox.

Eros is inviting us to engage — to live — to create — to relate. To choose to stay and to live, together. It is up to us to become present enough to listen for the way, to listen to what life can teach us.

Come visit me at JulieDaley.com to discover more about how I might support and guide you as you travel this deep and sacred journey to awakening your erotic, creative nature.

 

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Writing Directly Out of the Vast, Deep Mystery

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when you are struggling
in your
writing (art).
it usually means
you
are hearing one thing.
but
writing (creating) another.
— honest | risk

from salt, by nayyirah waheed

 

 

We all receive what wants to be created through us in different ways. As a writer and creative, I get images and a sense of what wants to be written/created. I can feel it, but it’s rarely clear. But even then, there’s always enough to begin, enough to take that first step.

That’s really the most important piece. To take that first step. To begin.

But what happens along the way to cause the struggle?

I was talking to a friend today about writing. We were sharing with each other about our writing process and how hard it can be sometimes to put words to what we ‘hear’ or ‘sense’ wants to be written.

I usually get a sense of the writing that wants to come. Sometimes it comes in images, other times I ‘hear’ something. But to write and create, my mind has to communicate what I sense, see, and or hear. Something deeper than my rational mind, the unconscious, is showing me the writing in its own way, but my mind must take that and put it into words. My mind must communicate the creation into form.

Sometimes I’ve noticed that my mind has a hard time doing that because there’s too big a gap between what I sense and what my mind can translate into words. So my mind fills things in as best it can and what I end up with isn’t at all what I sensed or heard. I’ve lately found myself sitting here at my laptop, fingers poised to write, while my mind attempts to find the words. It’s such an interesting thing to witness in the moment because I am aware of a felt sense of frustration within me – seeing/hearing what I’m trying to write and then trying to find the words and phrases that capture it.

Sometimes, too, the writing just flows. There is no gap. The mind is open and free enough that there is no separation in me, the one who is writing. There is only writing.

And then other times, I notice that my Voice of Judgment (VOJ) jumps in almost immediately, judging and criticizing what comes even before the mind gets it down on paper. It’s like an immediate judgment of what comes. It’s crazy how fast the VOJ can grab a hold of the steering wheel and take you right off course.

But really what I want to do is communicate what I am hearing and sensing. That is all I really want to do. It’s easier for me through photography (the image above) and dance. I don’t edit. There’s no judgment. There’s only the expression. But writing has been harder for me to lose the VOJ, the editor that wants to edit before there are even words on the page.

Can you relate?

We want to get it right but so often we come up short. It’s the mind somehow thinking it has to ‘make it happen’, which is really way beyond its job description of simply communicating. It’s trying to play ‘Soul’ rather than letting Soul be Soul and being, doing what it was created to do.

I’ve found that writing regularly helps to shorten this gap. A regular writing practice helps the mind get used to the practice of writing what it receives.

And, what I’ve found always brings me back to writing more naturally and effortlessly is writing about what brings me joy, or what I love, or what I care deeply about. If I’m trying to write something because I think it is what others want to hear, I never do so with much ease. I struggle to get the words out and once I do the piece can feel stilted and tight. And after writing it, I do, too. Because I’ve left Soul by trying to make it happen.

But when I write something that brings me joy or pleasure, then the writing flows. The soul can be heard and felt. When this is true, Soul is so close. That’s also true about writing in my Writing Raw groups. I love diving into writing when I’m surrounded by that sisterhood. Just the energy alone of the circle is a big support. And in these circles, we write from deep within, from the texture and beauty of Soul. We write directly out of the deep and vast ocean of Mystery. But you don’t need to be in a circle. You can begin to deepen your own practice of entering into this deep and vast mysterious ocean that is the source of all that is created.

We are so deeply interconnected through something much greater than any one of us. When you write what brings you joy or deeply moves you,  and you faithfully express it as you hear it, you move those who feel a similar way or need to hear it, or something else related. There is a connection. There is a correlation. We do meet our audience through our words but not in the way we ‘think’ we are supposed to.

Something greater than any one of us connects us through the deep place of love within each of us. It is this that drives creative expression. It is this that we honor when we write what we hear. And our writing becomes so much easier through this honoring.

Thank you to nayyirah waheed for her poem, available in her profound book of poetry, salt.  And thank you to Tanya for reminding me of this poem.

 

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Sustaining the Web of Existence, Human & Otherwise

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What happens when human beings come to believe we do not matter? That we are needed for others but there is little to no need or use for what is within us?

What happens when we live our lives believing that who and what we are is not worthy of love? That there is something fundamentally wrong with us?

What happens to our connection to the whole? And what happens to the whole when this happens?

Our sense of disconnection as human beings doesn’t just affect our own psyches. It weakens the fabric of life, the web of human existence, and the web of existence itself.

This is much of what we are experiencing now on Earth. A weakened fabric of human existence and a weakened connection to the Earth and all that is sacred. We can’t necessarily see it in the physical realm, although we experience the disconnection from each other (and even from ourselves). But I see and feel it internally, on the inner planes.

I see and feel it and now know this because this was my experience — and I know I am not alone by a long shot. I sense the majority of human beings feel this way in varying degrees. I don’t know many who’ve been raised to truly know they matter not in spite of who they are but exactly as they are. That there is a place for them because they are who they are, exactly as they are.

As a young girl…

Growing up in a family with a lot of dysfunction, I came to believe I did not matter. This sounds dramatic, but I don’t mean it as drama. I am not saying my parents or the other adults in my life ever said that. They didn’t. Rather, it was the belief I came to hold about myself because of what I experienced.

We were a deeply disconnected family: emotionally, physically, and psychically. And that disconnection took hold in my soul. The soul longs for connection. Young children need to be connected. We, humans, hunger for connection. And when it’s not there as young children, we believe it has something to do with us. Children are self-referential. We make it about us because we desperately need to believe in the strength and wholeness of our parents and caregivers.

This belief ran deep. The wound was painful and it wasn’t until very recently that I saw it for what it was and is. What I now see is how disconnected I became from my instincts and from life. Our instincts come out of our connection to the instinctive nature of life and I became disconnected from my body and from the Earth.

As a very young girl, I see how my belief caused me to energetically and psychically disconnect from the fabric of life. I turned away from my own worthiness. I turned away from the Source of Life that gives me life. We don’t (necessarily) die when we do that, but we leave our existence by ‘going way’. By disassociating. By isolating. By numbing out with substance(s) or things we do repeatedly to get away from the pain of this sense of not mattering, of not being worthy of love.

And when I healed this wound of disconnection I saw how my connection to the web of life grew stronger.

Everything is interconnected in this web of life, but it is more than simply interconnected.

Everything on the web is the whole and at the same time is simply itself. This is what a hologram is — each part contains the whole.

“Thus each individual is at once the cause for the whole and is caused by the whole, and what is called existence is a vast body made up of an infinity of individuals all sustaining each other and defining each other. The cosmos is, in short, a self-creating, self-maintaining, and self-defining organism.” Francis Dojun Cook

If we come to believe we don’t matter (or we aren’t lovable or we aren’t enough or we aren’t ‘however you have this one wired’), and/ or we treat others as if they do not matter, then we aren’t being sustained and we aren’t sustaining each other. This is part of our job here on Earth — to sustain each other, to keep the web healthy and whole, to grow a vibrant community — and to be powerful, loving stewards to all of life.

We were created to be what we are.

If we come to live a belief that what we are and how we were created does not matter to creation itself, then we are weakening the strength of our link to the whole and the whole suffers for it. But when we are in the pain of the wound, we cannot see this.

While everything is connected, something profoundly damaging happens when we come to believe we are not…and that we aren’t worthy of this connection. This connection is sacred and when it is weakened we weaken our remembrance of the sacred in everyday life.

I can see it, but I still find this hard to put into words, to be honest.

But this matters greatly. Our human community must be strong and vital to evolve out of this mess we are in. We must be strong and vital to come to care for the whole of life as stewards on this planet. We cannot be strong and vital if we continue to live this western, patriarchal way of devaluing so many.

We don’t have to live as numb human beings, but to make the change we do have to learn how to feel and that means being willing to feel.

I am but one human being who has grown up in a kind of culture that devalues the incredible singularity, diversity, and creativity of each human being. My upbringing and family life were a reflection of this culture. My parents were/are good people, but they, too, were raised in a culture is deeply disconnected from this web of life.

Every human being not only matters; their voice, creativity, and uniqueness are vital to the health of the whole, and to the strength of the fabric that holds us all together. And many who are not in positions of power or privilege have been silenced, traumatized, and denigrated terribly.

Moving forward…

As leaders, we must ensure inclusion and diversity, as well as provide the opportunity for everyone to rediscover what they truly are and that what they truly are matters to the whole of life. As leaders, our job is to midwife this essential creative nature and create a culture in which people are free to express it. We need everyone’s creative genius in order to move forward. We need everyone’s happiness from being connected to the whole. We need connection, period.

We must come to know and live the truth that the expression of every human being, including that of our own, is sacred and vital to the well-being of the whole of human existence, and the whole of existence itself.

***

If you’re interested in finding out more about what I offer, including my one-on-one coaching and Writing Raw circles (current circle is still open for registration), please visit me at JulieDaley.com.

 

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Balancing the Brain: You are the artist and you are art in the making.

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There is a deep space of mystery inside of you,

inside of me, inside of every one of us human beings. The cavern within is our inner world and it is the world of the ‘right brain’ – one way to speak of the mysterious nature of our consciousness.

Or as Gabrielle Roth wrote,

“Between the head and feet of any given person is a billion miles of unexplored wilderness.”

Yeah. That. That which we know exists but most of the time would rather not give any attention to.

Except…except when the hunger comes. That hunger that won’t let you alone even though you try to ignore it. That hunger that tells you there is so much more to who you are than you believe to be so.

You know what I’m referring to, right? It’s only you and me here. You can acknowledge it and no one has to know.

There is a deep hunger within us to remember. To remember what we once knew we are and how we once lived as the light of stars and the dark of night and traveled lifetimes of changing tides and shifting seasons.

We are always, hungrily, calling to ourselves to remember. A hunger so deep and real – much more real than what you are sitting on right now reading these words.

“…this is one of the really important things about art, that you can make more than you can understand at the moment the thing is being made. But the gap between what we recognize inside ourselves – our feelings- and our ability to trust ourselves and to trust exposing ourselves to those ideas, can be great.” Emmet Gowin

I saved this article years ago and still have it to this day, for it reminds me in a way that few others do of the artist in each of us that must come alive if we are to live here on earth and not just exist in numbness throughout our days.

These words cut to the quick every single time I read them…

“The fact that something is unsayable, that you are emotionally restricted from saying or even recognizing consciously what your own spirit is struggling with, energizes one’s work. That is exactly where good work comes from.” Emmet Gowin

As a teacher of art, Gowin says…

“But that’s a parental emotion at work when one says I don’t want a student to be trapped. The truth is, I’d be perfectly happy if they would be “trapped” within the experience their own authentic difficulties. If they would be trapped on their own, then any freedoms they discovered would be their own. Which is what interests me, because I believe that the joy of your own discovery is what confirms your own aliveness, your own value.

“So in this sense it’s cool to be wrong. It’s so essential, so necessary. It’s so appropriate to be confused, to be muddled, to be unsure. We preach clarity. Get your ideas organized. Get your thinking straight. And it’s the kind of stuff we all got from our parents, because that’s the role of parents. But it is the aliveness of the unguarded intuition and the persistence of our own feelings that guide us to our discoveries.”

I believe that the joy of your own discovery is what confirms your own aliveness, your own value.”

Gowin speaks as a teacher but coaching is the same. I am both a coach and an educator and nothing gives me more joy than to experience a client or student sit in their own confusion while I hold the space of love and we, together, close the gap between when they are conscious of and what is struggling to be known and remembered.

Even when it is uncomfortable, and especially when it is uncomfortable, what is unveiled is the act of remembering and it is the deep awakening to more aliveness in our lives.

What is the feeling of coming directly into contact with that unexplored territory?

How does that moment feel inside of you when you come face-to-face with the dark reflection of that well looking down into what seems to be an endless mystery?

This remembrance. This uncovering and discovery. This feeling of aliveness and value, it is the essence of art-making. You are the artist and you are art in the making.

Here’s the thing, though…

This isn’t about art in the traditional sense. This is about opening up your awareness of the capacities of your right brain and coming into a balance between the parts of your brain, a balance where there is great respect for all of your capacities. Most of the time, we incessantly judge the capacities of the right brain. We are constantly reminded taught that rational thought and logic are much more valuable. But the truth is, we need our wholeness to live lives where we feel alive. And we need cooperation between the different capacities of our being in order to be happy, creative, innovative, people who are in conscious action in the world.

Balancing the Brain:
I currently have two ways to work with me:

One-on-one coaching

  • for individuals who want to go deep into self, into the body and the heart, and into the beautiful mystery within. (It’s not as scary as it sounds!)
  • for leaders: those who are interested in diving deeper into their personal leadership.

I hold a tremendously safe place of love for transformation.

In my fourteen years of experience as a coach, this is what clients are truly seeking. Yes, we look at goals and intentions. Yes, we see progress and completion as important to the work. But underneath the achievement of truly satisfying goals is this deeper work, for nothing truly satisfies if it doesn’t feed your deepest hunger.

You are the artist and you are art in the making. You are remembering yourself into balance. And coaching is a powerful cauldron that can support your discovery.

Writing Raw

daisysummerWRA six-week circle for women to access the deep voice within. Yes, we do it through words, but the process works for any inner exploration to uncover the source and voice of your deepest self. You DO NOT need to be a writer.

I lead you into the great wilderness within you…the place where you can finally come home to the voice you’ve been longing to hear.

We begin on Tues, June 27th. Read more and register here.

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To truly bring forth what you are here to bring forth, you must come to honor, protect, love, and serve what lives within you.

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I want to seduce you…

…out into the bright sunshine, out into the light where you see the brilliance of your own reflection; where you understand the significance of your presence here on earth; and where you also accept your insignificance enough that you let go of your mighty plan to save the planet and instead relax into the joyous shape of who you’ve always been, offering the creativity, beauty, and power of this simple you as a gift to this world.

This is what I want to do with you. I want you to see your own brilliance. And at the same time, I want you to see how insignificant you are so that you drop the need to do something BIG in the world. And in this dropping, you come to offer only what is within you, only what your soul is here to share.

This in itself is a great gift. If you do this, just this, your time here will be well served.

Very well served.

 

Yesterday, I seduced myself…

…out into the sun, into the brilliance of a mind that is open and clear and radiating knowing. The brilliance of mind when it is free from its painful, continual self-harassment and constant haranguing.

Oh, the freedom and pure joy of a mind that is not feeding on itself. Most of the time, we don’t even hear the bulk of what the mind that is at ‘war’ with itself is saying. We just feel a general dis-ease from that cloud of ‘arguing against’. But this open, brilliant, sky-mind – so

Most of the time, we don’t even hear the bulk of what the mind that is at ‘war’ with itself is saying. We just feel a general dis-ease from that cloud of ‘arguing against’. But this open, brilliant, sky-mind – so expansive, so radiant and peaceful.

As I felt this radiant knowing, I realized how the judgment and criticism of a child’s wonderment and ability to see and tell the truth about what she sees causes the mind to turn upon itself and sets up this feeding frenzy of thought, a constant and oh-so-careful ‘Self-checking’ before anything is said or expressed. But all life really wants to do is flow, unimpeded expression into form.

Flowing radiance. Brilliant Eros.

THIS is joy – this flow of true self expressed into form.

 

We exist.

Yes, there is a Stillpoint. And, yet, our existence is alive and moving and changing, always. Block the flow and the mind begins to cloud up. Or cloud up the mind and the flow becomes blocked. Chicken or egg, it doesn’t really matter.

This is suffering. Blocked flow of life. Do we trust the life that wants to move through us enough to open the floodgates like this gorgeous Yucca plant in full bloom? I’m certainly overjoyed that this beauty doesn’t care what you or I think about her. She just radiates. And I was the lucky beholder of her beauty. This seeing of her beauty affected me. Her beauty came into me and it changed me. Her cream against the brilliant blue sky showed me something about radiant mind and how the light of mind illuminates and creates.

This radiant mind is whole. And when it is creating from wholeness, the deep self is expressed into the outer world.

 

What is it you want to bring into the world?

Do you want to write that book because you know there is something within you that must come out?

You need your outer self to do it.

In order to live this deep self into the world, you need the participation of your ‘outer self’. The one that takes the action steps required to get what your inner self knows into the outer world.

The self that writes and types and sends that book proposal off to the publisher. Or that out self that decides to self-publish and so must take those steps.

You need your outer self to listen to your inner self, to trust what it hears, to not judge or criticize it as it comes forth. Later the outer self can edit as necessary, but even then it must trust that what wants to come must come and that it is the only vehicle with which it can.

The key here is that the outer self is the aspect of you that can bring forth what’s inside. The inner self needs the outer self to express what it knows, feels, senses. The inner self needs the outer self to trust it, to love it, to care.

 

And so, what becomes clear…

…is that if our truest desire IS to bring forth soul into the world, to express what is within into the outer world, then we must begin to see and understand how we have learned to distrust what lies within us. We must see how the outer self has been taught to trust the outer world’s status quo and rules more than the inner world. And we must begin to enter into a true transformation of how we hold our inner world and this inner self. Will we continue to judge, criticize, fear, silence this self that exists within or will we begin to honor what it knows and bring it forth?

Ultimately as this relationship shifts and changes, the line between outer and inner begins to soften and we move toward an integrated self. We move toward this brilliance of mind.

In my work, and in my own life, I’ve found that so many of us fear coming to discover who lives within us – this inner self that we feel and sense, and that keeps calling to us over and over and over. We fear what we will find when we finally turn within and open to this relationship. But this is our work now.

To truly bring forth what you are here to bring forth, you must come to honor, protect, love, and serve what lives within you.

 

 

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Watershed: A Moment of Awakening

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Watershed

This remembering and returning.
Wave upon wave.
A spiral that begins with wide arcs
Never seeming to make their way around
To anything recognizable.
Until one day they do
And I notice
The slightest sense that
I’ve been here before.
Rediscovering something I’d discovered before.
About who I used to be.
But now there’s less veil and more light.

Big mind unknotting.
Catching glimpses of who I am and
Who I thought I had to become.
At the same time,
Flashing back and forth
Beginning to understand
I can now let go.

A mind so very tired of
Believing I am separate
Vigilantly watching
Carefully holding on
While remembering what it was like
To be free
To love the sunshine
To feel unabashed joy
And to simply love what I loved.

Watershed moment
Who am I now?
Back and forth
Unknotting and releasing
A distinct sense of Self, emerging
That isn’t distinct at all
Then birdsong sings and joy floods in
And I realize there is but One
Who is both tired and joyful
Unwinding and free.

***

Yesterday was a full moon eclipse. I experienced something powerful – an unknotting of my awareness. It was quite amazing, really, to witness my thoughts and how I kept seeing through them. But it was without effort. All I did was stay present to what was occurring.

I was walking along when tears came and my mind and heart opened. There was a distinct sense of organic qualities that were just present, while layered upon this was a sense of a created self, born out of trauma and a reaction that turned into habits. A created self who monitors vigilantly, hovering above the self who just is, joyful and radiant, soft and curious, tender and vibrant. A created self, born out of a fractured relationship to life from that trauma, now believing it was separate and wary. As I walked, my awareness slipped back and forth between the two. The wary one was aware that it could possibly let go, that it just might be safe enough to return to the open spacious awareness it was before it became vigilant. And then it let go as much as it was ready to and I softened. And I realized that our consciousness identifies with some idea of self and then habits build up around that idea of self that help to maintain that idea of self. I could clearly see this.

I immediately wrote the above poem to capture the essence of what had happened because it was such a profound experience to be so conscious of it while it was occurring.

***

I share it with you because I know we are all on the same journey – the journey home. When we share our stories, we help each other come to see what is happening within our own experience.RISEstairsbadge

This is much of what my new course R I S E is about – allowing our wholeness (creativity) to be the source from which we choose to make choices in our lives. Our wholeness is here, but we’ve fractured into ideas of who we believe ourselves to be, oftentimes making it really hard to experience who we truly are. We can step back and root down into our wholeness. We can come to live from this place.

And when we do it with others, together, we lift each other up. We rise together.

This is going to be a beautiful, potent exploration. I know sometimes that can be frightening, but it is truly a chance to explore and discover yourself in a way you’ve perhaps longed to do.

R I S E begins on Tuesday, Feb 14th – Valentine’s Day – for this is ultimately about love and letting love be the guide for your life.

 

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We Rise So That the Invisible Can Arise From Within Us

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Earth, isn’t this what you want: to arise within us, invisible?
Isn’t it your dream to be wholly invisible someday?–O Earth: invisible!
What, if not transformation, is your urgent command?
~ Rilke

I begin this post with a quick exercise for you…

Take a moment right now to think of something you’ve done in the past week where you didn’t know how you would do it. Let your mind float back to a time… There are many little moments when this happened. Pick just one. Think of the moment when you had the AHA! about how to do what you didn’t know how to do. This moment when the idea came to you. Be with that moment for a bit to relive the experience.

You might close your eyes and do this exercise right now.

Now that you’ve thought about that moment, what did you notice? How did the idea come to you? Perhaps it was more like a ‘knowing’ than an idea. Was there a feeling of AHA!?  Did you wrestle with not knowing before the idea came? Were you worried or anxious? And once you got the idea, where did it come from?

* * *

To do something when you don’t know how to do it is an act of creation. It requires trust.

To do something new and innovative is an act of creation. Trust needed here, too.

To live a human life is a continuous act of creation. It is a continuous act of self-creation, moment to moment, yet you are not conscious that you are doing it. You’re just living your life. But something deeper within you is conscious. It is guiding your unfolding.

To engage fully in this human life, consciously, takes an enormous amount of trust between you and this something deeper.

Really, to engage in any act of creation requires this trust between you and this something deeper.

We could call this deep creativity. To become conscious of this is to really get the sense that there IS this something deeper and you ARE already in a relationship with it – whether you are conscious of it or not.

You might not trust it yet, not fully, but trust me – it trusts you. This something deeper trusts you and knows you.

* * *

I write often about creativity and have for close to fifteen years. And, over those years I’ve been frustrated in doing so. You’d think I would move on to another topic. Right? But something in me is determined to change the narrative around creativity. Why? For a long time, I didn’t really fully know why. But now I do. Now it is very clear to me. It has taken what’s happening now in our world – great turmoil, the rise of hate and fundamentalism, and the undoing of the structures and systems for me to sit down to write this out…and along the way to understand it more fully.

There are a few different ways we think of creativity. Problem-solving. Innovation. Artistic talent. But, I actually like this definition from Dictionary.com:

…the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination…

How do we then transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, etc.? Or in other words, how do we get out of our own conditioned thinking and when we do what is it we are tapping into?

It is ‘this something deeper’.

And, here’s the thing. This something deeper IS the reason your creativity is unique. This something deeper is your deep Self. It is outside of conditioning. And it holds the potential of what is possible. It is out of this something deeper that the new can come.

So think back to the beginning, to the exercise I had you do. From where did that idea come?  It came from within you. Yes, YOU ARE this brilliant source of creativity. You ARE creative. You live it in many simple ways each day and sometimes in big, flashy insights and ideas.

So why is this important now? If you think about how humans are acting and reacting right now, consider how original our thoughts are. Consider the nature of fundamentalism. Consider linear, rational thought. How creative are we being when we are stuck in the same old, same old? Life is always changing. Life is always flowing. Rigidty in thought and action is a way to try to control that which cannot be controlled. What we must do is learn to move and flow with Life, to rise so that Earth can arise from within us.

What we need are people – many people, all people, everyone – beginning to trust in this something deeper within them – within us. We need people who are truly able to open up to this creative source within because this is where the new will emerge from – the new world, the new way, the new expression of how we choose to be in the world as human beings.

* * *

volcanoRISEsmallThis is why I am offering R I S E, now. This course takes you into direct relationship with this deep creativity. It ignites and supports trust in this something deeper. It offers tools and practices to deepen into this creative source.

It awakens you to your potential and capacity to effect real change in the world.

I’ve extended the early bird price through Sunday, Feb 5th. Take a look. See if it’s right for you. And, if you know of someone you think is looking for this, ready for this, please pass it on. I truly want those who are ready to R I S E in this way to join me. We begin February 14th, because we are Love arising.

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Developing the Practice of Going Within

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woman breathing underwater

***

Last night was the first class of ten in the Creativity & Leadership course I teach at Stanford Continuing Studies. I’ve been teaching this course with my wonderful colleague, Hal Louchheim, for nine years now. (Hal’s been teaching this class for eighteen!) The class is highly experiential. Each week, we offer exercises and practices that open the students to their own internal world, the place from which our creativity flows. The class exercises are varied because we all learn differently.

As I led these students through the first exercise, I could feel, really clearly, the depth of trust it takes to go within. I know this from my own experience. When I first began to explore this myself, I was indeed a bit frightened of what I would find when I turned inward. For so long, I’d felt as though there was just a big hole inside of me. Would I find anything inside me? Was there something I didn’t want to see or know?

From a young age, we are taught to look outside for things – answers, guidance, advice, etc. And, in this teaching, we lose touch with not only our own internal knowing, but the idea that there even is an internal world to know. So then, developing trust is a key practice to learning to go within, to access the depth’s of one’s essential creative source.

What else is key? Practice itself. The practice of learning to notice the experience of being creative by developing the presence and capability to bring it out without judgment and manipulation. And by creative, I mean giving voice (both literally and metaphorically) to the voice within, to what you hear when you go within and listen, then bringing what you hear into form.

This can be where it gets hard. To not judge the process, not judge the chaos, and not judge what we hear when we listen within. To let go of the expectations our minds tend to hang onto in order to feel in control. Our minds are so good at judgment, comparison, and critical thinking. Our minds love to ‘problem solve’. But our creativity is not a problem. It can help find solutions to existing problems, but not by attempting to control the outcome through problem ‘solving’. Creativity is our nature, not a problem. If we believe it is a problem, we are believing that what we are is a problem. And, I know many of us learn to believe that this last piece is true…that we are a problem.

As I facilitated the students through the process last night, I came to, once again, realize how vitally important the capacity to listen is. To listen. Not to listen so we can prepare a response. Not to listen so we can win the argument. Not to listen in order to defend or deflect. But to listen in order to truly hear.

To listen in order to truly hear.

This goes for listening to another as well as listening to oneself, to that inner voice that beckons constantly from within.

This kind of listening includes seeing, feeling, and sensing as well. It is a whole-body, whole-being listening.

To bring forth a new capacity, we must practice. We practice to bring forth our ability to be nimble and conscious and capable. I am not sure the fear ever goes away, but at least, in being nimble, our practice helps us to flow with the fear.

Last year, I began to use a new way to help guide people into this internal world using an ages-old technology – that of the labyrinth. This is what we use in Writing Raw. We go within using the same methodology labyrinth walkers have used for ages. And we listen, feel, sense, and look with our inner-eyes. Our inner world is rich and full, and if we don’t judge it but listen instead, we begin to deepen our relationship with our vast creative resource.

I feel that this is the great invitation of our time: to come to trust the mysterious and intelligent nature of our vast creative potential so that what we create comes from the intelligence of life itself.

Our vast creative potential is life potential, and life lives not for itself. Life lives for life. When we do this, when we listen to life what we bring forth will be for the benefit of the whole, for all of life.

***

Unabashedly Female with Julie Daley's photo.Writing Raw begins tomorrow, Wednesday September 23rd.

Writing Raw is a practice… a practice in trusting, listening, receiving, and speaking. It’s a practice in learning to trust not only yourself but also your sisters.

While we will write, Writing Raw isn’t really about writing; rather, it’s about learning to go within yourself, deep into your own inner world, then listening for that voice you’ve yearned for a lifetime to hear. Finally, it’s about trusting this inner voice enough to share it into a circle of women, and into the light of day.

Each week, for six weeks, we have two calls. You can come to one, the other, or both. Wednesdays 9:00 am pt and Thursdays 5:00 pm pt.

Each week, you’ll receive an original PDF highlighting a threshold to take you deeper into expressing what is within you.

This circle is powerful, transformative, and fun. I’d love to have you join us. If you have questions, please reach out to me.

 

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Life’s GPS: The Connection Between Creativity, Purpose, & Soul

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Lately, I repeatedly see an image in my mind’s eye. When it appears, it’s always the same. I’m standing in the middle of the scene and on one side of me is a pool of thoughts and idea(l)s made up of what other people think, what the culture says, and what my own Voice of Judgment tells me. On the other side of me, the right side, are the deep, dark mysterious waters of my soul.

In the image, I have a choice. I can choose from the dark waters of my own soul. Or, I can choose from ‘conventional’ wisdom (what is often not wise at all) and the roar of judgment from so many different places, including my own head. By judgment, I don’t mean conscious discernment. Rather, here judgment means the kind of thinking that is meant to keep the status quo in place, keep people in place, keep things from changing. This kind of judgment does not like the fact that life is constantly in flux. This kind of judgment wants to contain, control, shame, dominate, and keep small. Again, notice it is both out there and within.

But, you might be wondering why I include ‘conventional’ wisdom in this mix. To me, it is the unconsidered status quo, the stagnant conventional thinking, that keeps true creativity from being able to enter our world, either our own personal world, or the world at large. And, boy do we need some truly creative ideas and expressions at this point in the human journey.

Creativity upends the status quo. Creativity isn’t conventional. Creativity is brand new and comes when we’ve allowed the fertile ground to be turned under, left fallow, and then tilled for new life.

Creativity comes out of the deep and dark mysterious waters of the soul.

We can try to pin it down, trace it back, figure it out – but ultimately where it comes from is unknown and cannot be known. We can name it, but we cannot truly know it except as an experience because it is alive.

Creativity is alive. Purpose is alive. That which keeps us from being creative and purposeful is stuck and stagnant.

In this image, I can see so clearly how important trust is – the trust of both what lies within me and my ability to hear it and act from it, as well as the knowing that every other human being also is creative and also has a deep well of creativity within them.

I see how often my attempts to understand my purpose, my reason for being alive, have insidiously come from looking to others, or my own Voice of Judgment, for information, validation, or ideas on what this purpose might be. Looking out there isn’t the same as true mirroring from those who know you and really listen to you. Effective mirroring can be a source. But, ultimately, even mirroring must be checked against the knowing that comes from an alive and trusting relationship with one’s soul.

And, I see it is a choice. It is always a choice. Sometimes, I go unconscious in the choosing process, and choose out of fear of humiliation, abandonment, rejection…. like everyone else.  We are meant to be in relationship and community. Our minds can get squirrelly when we think we won’t be.

This image began appearing after beginning to engage in direct dialogue with my soul, which isn’t the easiest of tasks. But, I did hear her clearly, after asking the question, “How do I begin to follow your lead in my life?” Her response? “Don’t make anything more important than me!” (exclamation point mine!!!)

This image shows me clearly that in each moment it is a choice to not make anything more important than where my soul is guiding me.

***

What I’ve come to begin to see, (and I write ‘begin’ because, again, we are speaking of the mystery) is that to open to our true purpose we must honestly, in the most way, begin with the question of “Who am I?” and “What am I?”. This is the journey of turning within to ask, to look, to listen, to feel and sense…and then to learn to receive.

When we learn to trust in our nature, both as a creative being and as a woman, something shifts. There is less need to look out there for validation and approval. There is more joy from the acceptance of yourself and who and what you are. And, there is less fog and confusion about things in general, fog and confusion being a way to avoid life and acting on your own behalf.

Your nature is both universal and unique. The soul has unique qualities, and in my experience and in the work I teach, it is these soul qualities that begin to give us a sense of what we truly are. These qualities are NOT static things. Often, when we think of personal values, they are static things. Rather, these qualities are qualities we find when we investigate our own experience(s) to notice the feeling states inherent in them.

Like creativity, experiences are alive, not simply concepts.

To know purpose, we continue to come back to what is uniquely alive within us. What is the feeling quality of an experience when you are doing what you love? We aren’t focusing on the outward expression or the objects of life, but on the feeling state of the experience.

I wanted to share this image here on my  blog because the tendency to turn to someone else, or someone elses, to see ourselves is so strong. We learned to do it when we were really young because more often than not those adults in our lives who might have really mirrored our own light back to us couldn’t see it because they, too, hadn’t been seen.

But as adults, we can begin to do what it takes to look within, to remember that there is this vast inner world of soul.

This inner world will guide us. It is always here. It never left – we just turned away.

You might find you have your own image. Soul speaks in images and symbols. Open to what your soul shares with you.

Now, when I see this image in my mind’s eye, in my image I turn to soul and open to receive.

Just this act is everything.

***

I’ve just opened registration for my course, Becoming a Force of Nature.

bafonbadge300pxThis round of the course will begin on June 9th and run for 12 weeks. In Becoming a Force of Nature, I teach and offer experiential ways to make this turn back to the inner world, and then to begin, or deepen, what can be a long journey to trust and faith in oneself. This will be the last time I offer the course in this format. I may offer it again, but it will change – because my work is changing. I do know that if I offer it again, it won’t be in this format.

In fact, I’ll be teaching it a bit differently than I did the first two rounds. On our weekly calls, I’ll introduce the material and then facilitate the exercises on the call, so you have your first taste of each week’s material together with your classmates. Then, after the call, we’ll spend the remaining part of the week ‘living with’ the material. You can read more about this on the registration pate. There is so much great material in these 12 weeks; SO much that you can take the course with me the other women in our group, and then – at your own pace – go through the 200+ pages of PDFs that contain so much exquisite detail and interactivity.

The depth of the dive you can take is quite astounding. And, doing it a few times is exactly the way to deepen your journey. The PDFs contain everything I will teach on the calls, but they take things deeper in a way that you can utilize to your advantage. Taking it live with me the first time will activate the material in a certain way. After that, using the in-depth writings will allow you to deepen the experiences you had in our time together.

I hope you’ll take a look and consider joining me. You’ll find a new video on the registration page that I created to give a little more background to the material and its capacities to effect change in your life.

 

***

I’m in two new podcasts on the subjects of Creativity and Becoming a Force of Nature – one with Amiel Handelsman, the other with Charlie Gilkey. Take a listen. I know there are some wonderful gems in each of these podcasts. Both Charlie and Amiel are great interviewers and I even learned much more about what it is I do.

 

***

Image above by The Wandering AngelCreative Commons 2.0. No changes made.

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A Vivid Life. A Creative Life.

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A Vivid Life. A Creative Life.


“Don’t scorn your life just because it’s not dramatic, or it’s impoverished, or it looks dull, or it’s workaday. Don’t scorn it. It is where poetry is taking place if you’ve got the sensitivity to see it, if your eyes are open.” ~ Philip Levine (1928-2015)

 

Yesterday, just before sitting down to prepare my monthly newsletter, I made a great chicken, kale, and bok choy curry for lunch. As I was thinking about what to share in my newsletter, the colors of the curry stood out at me as truly beautiful. I was so aware of the colors and how the vibrant greens reflected the intense nutrition of the food. I was aware of the mix of flavors, of savoring my food, truly savoring it as I ate. And, then my mind went to how beautiful life is when we are sensitive to the richness of vivid experiences felt in the heart.

In the courses I teach on Creativity, I often do an exercise during the third week when I teach about how to observe life keenly. In the exercise, we use all of our senses, slowing each one down, to truly taste – usually chocolate. Each time I lead the class, this very simple exercise brings forth a sensitivity to see, feel, and taste life. In our world, with everything going so fast, and so much time spent with technology, to stop and take time to feel your life is often a gift we rush past, a gift we do not give ourselves (and often) nor our children.

As Philip Levine wrote so beautifully, our lives are where poetry is taking place IF we have the eyes to see it, the ears to hear it, and the sensitivity to really touch what is happening. Somehow, somewhere, someone decided the everyday qualities of earthly existence were non-important and that instead we should focus on the spiritual. But, there is no separation between matter and the sacred.

Everything here is alive, and it is that very aliveness that is the sacred.

For me, as long as I’ve looked for something to be better, to find something better, to hope for days when things would be a certain way, I’ve continued to miss the beauty right in front of my face. It is only here, right here, where we can know what it is to be truly alive, to know the poetry that is taking place before our eyes.

As if to punctuate this vividness for me, as I took a break from working on my newsletter, I stood up and looked outside and the most amazing sunset was breaking over San Francisco. I grabbed my phone, went down to the porch of the building I live in and walked into this magnificent sight – the moon appearing, surrounded by billowing pink clouds. It took my breath away.

It was poetry in the sky.

In April, I’m going to be a grandmother for the FIFTH time. I can always count on my grandchildren to bring me present to this vivid life. Every. Single. Time. They are so real. They remind me to stop, listen, and pay attention.

Take a look around you. Really look, listen, touch, feel. Everything you can encounter is alive with radiance. Pay beautiful attention to this world as if you were a child again. Imagine you’ve just landed on earth for the very first time. Sit down to a meal and use all of your senses as you eat each bite. Notice that you are taking in nourishment. Note that the food came out of the earth so that your body can continue to function. Notice if in doing so, you come more deeply into relationship with life.

This relationship with life is the same relationship you have to your creativity. Our capacity to take in life, to receive what life is offering, is the same capacity we have to bring forth our creativity. And it requires us to pay attention to what is here, to what is being offered and shown to us.

Life is reflecting your countenance back to you. What you see is the radiance you are. 

 

 

WritingRawPinSpring01The Spring Writing Raw circle begins on March 4th, and March 5th. Each week, for six weeks, we hold two calls, one on Wednesdays at 9:00 am PT and the second on Thursdays at 5:00 pm PT.

Here, in the circle, we listen for the poetry of life to express itself through us. We each go into our own inner temple and listen for the voice that has always been here, always waiting to be known.

We listen, we write, and we read.

A beautiful circle of women is gathering. If you feel the pull to join, please do. Writing Raw is a deeply transformational process. Writing Raw can wake you up to your own soul and what your soul is asking of you. Writing Raw offers the opportunity to know yourself, as you are, with acceptance and love.

Read more and register here.

 

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