CHANGE: Lemonade Disguised as Lemons

CHANGE: Lemonade Disguised as Lemons

When I first learned that my landlord was selling my (her) place, I dug my heels into the sand and screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I’d been through a lot of change in the past couple years and the thought of leaving my adorable beach cottage after just one year was almost too much to bear.

Not because this would be my 12th move in the 14 years I’ve been in LA. Not because prices on the Westside are steep enough to induce dizzy spells. Not because Disco and I love walking to our favorite organic spots (if you follow me on INSTAGRAM you know I quit sugar as a means of healing my body from a chronic condition). Although all of these things were certainly a factor.

The truth is even though it’s the one constant that we can really count on, change felt… overwhelming and a little scary.

But like a train already rolling down the tracks, there was no stopping it, and in the first four hours on the market my little bungalow garnered an all cash offer 100k over asking price and I had 60 days to leave.

I slipped into victim mode for a good week. “I can’t move. I won’t move.”

It seemed everyone I spoke with had a horror story of dozens of renters showing up with cashiers checks the first day.

WHY ME? WHY NOW?!!

Little did I know that the tectonic plates of the universe were rearranging for my benefit. First, the woman who bought my place was set to move into a gorgeous place in Venice with a detached art studio that she also happened to be the listing agent on.  Feeling bad about displacing me she said, “If you want it, I won’t even put it on the market.”

She then told me that as part of her sale negotiations she agreed to pay the current tenant (me) a pretty generous sum to vacate.  Over the years, I’d heard of this urban myth, but like a $5 green juice and finding a guy in Venice sans facial hair, I just assumed it was just nice story.

Through all of this, I was reminded of a powerful truth I’ve learned and (re)learned many times but often forget in the heat of an unnerving transitional moment: change can be daunting but it’s happening for our benefit. Our outside world rearranges to match our present time vibration.

…did I mention there is a detached art stuuuuuuudio?!

This my friends is a lil’ thing I like to call ordinary magic!

This human experience is a fluid one; to be in transition is to be alive. I realize that not all change is immediately accompanied by an nice chuck of change and art studio, but even hidden in the folds of seemingly unfavorable change, like divorce and illness (i’ve been through both), if we can ask, “what is the gift?” There will be one.

Change happens for 1 of 2 reasons: we need to evolve to reach the next echelon of our destiny, or we’ve already made a big internal shift and our external world is following suit. Either way it’s a positive thing.

Much like yoga, being the beginner is a practice (and a superpower). When things get hairy or scary and uncertain, we can give ourselves permission once again to be the beginner. Like a child, the beginner is present. The present moment is the magical place where we are always safe. And our present moment vibration is literally creating our future time reality.

BALI PART III: The Single Biggest Mistake (GULP).

BALI PART III: The Single Biggest Mistake (GULP).

Adrenaline pumps through my veins as I peer over the edge. It’s a long fucking drop. At least twice the distance from the last one. I exchange a hesitant glance with my new friends.

Are we really this hardcore?

I thought I ditched my cliff jumping days somewhere between an unpleasant landing in Lake Tahoe and an ill-positioned wedgie situation at the Hoover Dam. But here I stand knowing that jumping off this cliff means so much more than jumping off a cliff.

. . . little things like: releasing control, letting go outcomes, and above all else… trusting myself

“Let’s make a pact to all do it.” I declare bravely, instinctively knowing we’re stronger if we band together. Nobody says anything, but we lock eyes for a moment in agreement, before Heather turns on her heel and casually steps off the ledge.

By the way we are positioned, I’m next in line. I inch closer to edge thinking I’m going to go, but my heart catches in my chest and some invisible force yanks me back to the landing. I sip a shallow breath. A handful of teenagers with a collection of acoustic guitars and conga drums begin to play the melody to Vance Joy’s Riptide, which I’m currently obsessed with.

I quickly wrap myself in golden light, whisper “I’m safe and protected”, and leap into the salty air. For a moment I’m suspended in time, like a cartoon character that’s just realized he’s accidentally run off the side of a cliff and he’s about to drop to his death. And suddenly, I’m plunging into the sea. Because the water is warm, my point of entry is smooth, and I sink a good ten feet deeper below the surface. I kick my way in a furry to to the top, sure my lungs are about to explode.  Gulping for oxygen, I fumble clumsily with the strings of my bikini that’s not only left me completely exposed but also strangling me.

Well… that’s done. 

Just as I cock my head up, Julie and Carmen are sailing gracefully over the side in succession.

Once we’ve all caught out breath, Rick motions for us to follow him with a mischievous smile spread across his face.

“This way,” he instructs motioning toward the mouth of a cave.

By the matching looks of fear glazed over everyone’s eyes, you’d think he just asked us to tape raw hamburger patties to our rib cages and go spear fishing.

“I don’t know about this,” Carmen hedges uncertainly.

“You’ve got to time it right. The key it to go between the sets, otherwise the waves will slam you in to the rocks. But if you time it right all is well.” He says with a twinkle in his eye. Another wave slams through the cave, high-fiving the walls on it’s way through.

Right . . . and that’s a big IF.

“Yeah just gotta time it right,” Julie jokes nervously behind me.

“I know you can do it!” Rick encourages us, but I kinda feel like he’s reassuring himself it’s a good idea to take a bunch of women through the cave on the first day of the retreat.

We tred water in a cluster, watching wave after wave roll through.

“Now!” Rick shouts.

Immediately my adrenaline kicks in pulling me back on the present. I start swimming as fast as my tired body can mange, as thoughts of getting through the cave before the next set rolls in loop relentlessly through my mind. My adrenals are pumping on all cylinders and every muscle in my body is burning as I use all of my strength to stay in line with the current while not getting pulled me in to the rocks. I focus to the bright light at the end the cave like it’s… well, the light at the end of the cave.

About halfway through, Rick’s voice echoes through the cavernous stone.

DON’T FORGET TO ENJOY THE RIDE!

OOOOOOOOOOh yeah… those seemingly innocuous 6 words jerk me into the present moment.

I lean back, inhale deeply and realize something a little  embarrassing… I forgot to be the beginner. I forgot to approach the present moment without my baggage from the past.  I was operating from fear, based an unfortunate encounter with urchin-covered rocks that landed me in Mexican hospital a good ten years back.

Of course, the urchin incident was totally different- if you take out the whole salt water crashing in to rocks thing. For one it was nighttime. Two, I was drunk, and three, I was naked…. but that’s not really important. What’s important is understanding how often we “know” how things will be based on previous experiences, when often times it’s a totally illusion.

I made the mistake of getting caught up the fear and panic of just trying to get through with out being airlifted out for emergency plastic surgery, I almost missed how FREAKING AMAZING what I am doing in the present actually is! With that simple shift in perspective, everything seems to slow down and for the first time, I allow myself the chance to really look around and take it all in.

FACT:

I’m floating in deliciously warm turquoise waters through a hunk of hollowed rock, on an island off and island off of Bali…on a Goonie’s style adventure no less.

I relax even further into it, trusting that I’m not going to smash my face against the rocks. I don’t need to fight. I’m in the flow. Like leaf gliding with the current, I gently drift toward the light.

As the cave spits me back out in the Bali Sea, one predominant feeling is exploding from every single cell in my body.

I feel ALIVE.
Joyously, drunkenly, deliriously alive.

All of my cells feel like they’re doing a choreographed, ecstatic dance with high-kicks and sultry burlesque moves. I’m suddenly reminded what we really crave…. life’s gifts, the nourishing stuff, THE MAGIC… it all shares a very thin wall with fear.

Fear stagnates, fear cripples, fear diminishes, and 99% of the time it’s an illusion—a delusion that either paralyzes us from peeking around the other side of the wall, or obstructs our view of the Ordinary Magic of the moment. Only when we dare to confront that fear, and venture beyond our comfort zones—stretching past what we thought we were capable of, do we grow.

And the growth, my friend, is what feels so damn good.

We’ve been taught to believe specialist, idolize the master, admire the celebrity—and of course, that we should all be experts!

But sometimes it takes literally leaping into the unknown somewhere in the middle of the Indonesian ocean to remember it’s The Beginner who gets to enjoy the ride…

 

*special thanks to Rick Crowley’s SURF LIFE RETREAT for reminding me to enjoy the ride of life… 

Ditch the Script. Find Yourself.

We’ve become a society of “experts.” My journey to becoming an expert began around the age of eight as I attempted to be as perfect as I could be, while making it look like I wasn’t trying to be perfect at all. My parents loved me, my teachers applauded me, and my peers accepted me. Savvy little thing, I was.

By the time I reached my late twenties, I diligently achieved all of the things I thought would bring me happiness. I continually ranked number one nationally at a coveted sales job, lived in a home on the beach with my internet pioneer boyfriend, went on extravagant vacations with beautiful and hilarious friends. It sure looked good, but for some reason, I couldn’t shake a pervasive feeling of blah. In spite of all that I had, it never seemed to be enough.

I wanted to be a woman who strode confidently in the direction of her dreams… but I couldn’t identify anything I had a burning passion to do. Adrenaline pumping activities like surfing, skiing and competing with the boys served as a brief refuge from this pervasive apathy. Chic parties and friendship drama were temporary distractions from a deep seated sadness churning inside of me.

In my limited scope of consciousness, I blamed my man. Obviously he wasn’t doing enough for me… for us. This prompted a stubborn case of “when we’s,” that ruthlessly hijacked me from the present moment. When he sells his company, then we’ll be happy. When we go on our trip around the world, then we’ll be happy. When we get engaged, then we’ll be happy. I mean, hadn’t I achieved all of the other things that are supposed to deliver me across the imaginary finish line into the promised land of fulfillment?

In a word, no. But I didn’t gain this insight until much later. Until after the boy broke my heart; after my friends cut their ties with me; and after I began my quest inward.

And much to my surprise, what felt like the most painful breakdown of my life, gave way to the most pivotal breakthrough I could ever imagine.

It was then that the forces of the universe converged to connect me with a powerful spiritual teacher and I saw the greatest source of my pain was that I’d been unconsciously following a script I didn’t write. I’d soaked up messages from the fabric of reality around me, and internalized them as my own. Clearly I wasn’t nearly as savvy as my eight-year-old self would have you believe.

My narrow script left little room for creative risks, because taking chances might expose me as not being the image of perfection I’d gotten used to portraying. It urged me to find the most successful alpha-male in the room, and basking in his glow I would feel worthy and safe.

Now mind you, I had no idea I was doing any of this. The most devious thing about my script was that it had me believing it didn’t exist at all.

The first rule of the script is that there is no script.

But as I continued to pull back the layers of illusion I’d carefully constructed around me and got really, real with myself, I recognized that I’d created a life based on external validation and in doing so, became a very fearful and competitive woman.

When my teacher urged me to explore my creative side, I was like, “Huh?”

For 32 years, I’d always assumed creativity was a genetic thing and sadly that gene had unceremoniously passed me by.

I soon learned that “blah” feeling I couldn’t shake was merely fear of failure masquerading as apathy.

My script had me believing that unless I was going to be perfect and do it perfectly I may as well not even try. As I gained greater consciousness I discovered that I didn’t have to be perfect to participate, I just needed to be The Beginner.

The Beginner is Teflon armor against fear of failure because The Beginner isn’t supposed to know a damn thing.

With this simple, yet revolutionary insight, I gave myself permission to just be The Beginner and began to write openly about my experiences and emotions. I was amazed that by suspending judgment, my creations flowed freely, and a most unusual thing occurred — I began to reveal myself authentically and vulnerably to myself, which restored a sense of integrity I’d lost somewhere along the way.

And then, it was as if a dam burst open inside of me and suddenly a creative passion I’d never known was a part of me flowed through every pore in my body. I began playing guitar, singing and writing songs. I started painting big canvases full of bright colors, and built an art studio in my home. I began jazz dancing after stopping nearly 20 years prior and began taking improv! This overwhelming desire to create generated such a monumental shift inside of me that my entire vision of self expanded. I became awake, alive and inspired.

The resentment I’d been carrying around for my ex-boyfriend finally evaporated like stubborn condensation on the bathroom mirror, and I realized it wasn’t he who had abandoned me; I had abandoned myself and my dreams a time long ago in a bid to gain approval and acceptance.

Like a seesaw, as my belief in myself went up, I watched my competition go down. I developed a genuine camaraderie with other women who are courageously following their dreams, and a sincere compassion for those still trapped in their own private prisons of perfection. It finally felt like it was enough, because I felt like I was enough.

I wanted to call out from the rooftops to every woman who is struggling in life… struggling to find that thing that sets her heart on fire, “There’s another way!”

And that’s what I know I’m here to do. To share what I’ve learned with women like YOU, who (like me) bought in to the script, and are starting to realize it’s a bunch of BS.

The way to an adventurous, passionate, fulfilling existence is the exact opposite of what most of us have been programmed to believe. Life’s gifts don’t come from being perfect and doing everything perfectly; they show up when we ditch the script and give ourselves a little FREAKING permission to just be The Beginner. (Tweet-Worthy!)

 

Confidence vs. Belief

“Once in awhile you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right…” -The Grateful Dead

These words are often times used interchangeably, but apparently confidence and belief are about as similar as Juicy Couture and Couture. I know this because I was once quite comfortable in my confidence. I had no trouble speaking up, dancing freely, and traveling solo. I jumped out of airplanes, surfed big waves and skied double black diamonds without so much as a second thought. I had conviction to make the grade, land the deal, and get the guy.

Then, as my former relationship broke down and I was stripped of the things I’d come to define myself by, I watched my confidence disappear too. I realized that confidence is something that is predicated on the ability to feel capable based on external conditions like physical appearance, zeros in the bank account or social circle. But I would soon discover, real belief has little to do with confidence.

Looking to the natural world we think nothing of this unflagging cycle of creation and destruction that is inherent to all living things. Each Fall trees lose their leaves and stand bare throughout winter, but come Spring, each tree flourishes with new life once again. We often forget that we, too, are part of the natural world, and that aspects of our lives need to be destroyed before new life can spring forth as well.

As I meandered through new neighborhoods and friendships, embarked on new projects and love, sure enough, my fickle confidence reappeared. However, amid the continual cycle of creation and destruction, an unfamiliar power emerged. Belief. Regardless of the seemingly undesirable things the physical plane presented, time and again, I’d arise from the wreckage, not necessarily with what I thought I needed or wanted, but with deeper compassion, greater gratitude, and a willingness to take responsibility for my life. Ultimately, I came to trust that this roller coaster of life is the vehicle by which I get to journey into understanding myself. Turns out the greatest secrets really are hidden in the most unlikely places.

It’s clear to me now that when my world, as I knew it, was destroyed so many years ago, it was really just part of the natural cycle of creation necessary for me gain greater consciousness and certainty about myself and my path. While destruction is admittedly unnerving, I know that in order to grow into the most conscious, inspired, and free woman I can be, there are many walls in my mind that still need to come down, and therefore more destruction lurks on my horizon. However, it’s the knowing, the belief, that every thing I create is designed to help me evolve into my highest self that makes it far less frightening or painful.

What is your experience with confidence and belief?