HOW GRIEF SILENTLY OPENS THE COLLECTIVE HEART
Last Wednesday started off as a normal morning - I turned the tea kettle on, rubbed my eyes and pet my anxious puppy as he nipped at my toes for attention. I was gearing up for a full day of coaching sessions when I got the call that a dear family friend had very suddenly passed away. He was the younger brother of one of my best friends. He was someone I had grown up with, an extension of my family. He was a light in our world, gone too soon at the ripe age of 35. I dropped the phone and fell to the floor sobbing. Total shock.
As the week progressed, this shocking tragedy brought together my expansive "chosen" family from adolescence - an entire multi-generational community of friends and families who have known one another for over 25 years. We hugged, we wept, we remembered, we honored, we ate, we laughed and more than anything we grieved as we said goodbye to our beloved loved one together.
Many of us have experienced the death of a loved one, or perhaps felt the impact of loosing someone we may not have even known that well at all. The death of my friend fell during the same week as the death of Robin Williams which devastated people all over the world. Around the globe, hearts were ripped open as people mourned this unexpected loss. Death seems to give us pause. Somehow it softens us. It puts things in perspective and startles us into remembering how precious life can be. It seems to say to us: "Wake Up!"
As we search for meaning during the time of tragedy and grief, I cannot help but be struck by a sense of healing that has the potential to emerge in these heart-open moments. As much as I cannot fully digest what has happened to my friend, his family and our community, I somehow also cannot shake a simultaneous sense of profound peace that feels present to me at this time. How is it that something so terrible can give us access to something so reassuring?
The answer is simple: LOVE.
Despite the struggle in the Middle East, random shootings in the Midwest and the heart-wrenching depression that swallowed the life of a comedic icon, I still believe that in our truest state we are made of love. I trust fully that we are actively evolving our human consciousness and that on a soul level, we are more familiar with the light than the dark.
Could it be that grief opens our hearts just enough to remember LOVE as our truth? Could it be that grief is clearing out Humanity's old story of separation, judgment, danger and lack as it silently softens the Collective Heart?
Grief is a profound teacher if we let it be. If we let the title waves of sadness pour through us, then they can awaken and cleanse our hearts. Death is a reminder of impermanence and is one doorway to re-awaken our ability to BE with what is in this moment. Death is here to remind us about LOVE. It invites us to connect to our soul's path and to one another right now, in this life. It disintegrates our walls of judgement, story and constriction that have kept us small and cocooned away from the authentic connection we so deeply desire. How come it takes the shattering of life for us to remember how precious and vulnerable we truly are? It's as though the grief over my friend's death has on some level cleared some out-dated residue of isolation, contraction and smallness in my heart. While I feel immense sadness, I can tell that I am more open. I am somehow more loving today. I am seeing through a renewed pair of eyes that offer compassion, tenderness, trust and peace towards myself and those around me. This is the gift of those who have left us. They afford us the blessing of loving more in this life, allowing our collective consciousness to evolve. Their departure opens the door for our healing.
As I process the meaning of these events, I begin to wonder how we might all soften ourselves to love a little bit more. What would it take to pick up the phone instead of feed our isolation? What would it do if we practiced receiving love in moments of tender vulnerability? What does it take for us to truly surrender?
I am reminded that each of us is whole. Each of our souls has an innate wisdom and is on the perfect path. Each of us is invited by forces greater than we can ever imagine to return to our natural state of love. To SHOW UP and nourish our sacred connections to ourselves and each other. Each of us is OK. We can handle our pain, we can lean into our fear a little more today than yesterday, we can stretch ourselves out of the darkness of comfort back into the light of love in some way today.
Personally, I feel changed, and in this change I have recommitted myself to live vulnerably, lovingly and in connection even more. We are made of love. We are here to love ourselves and each other. We are asked to do it now. And to ask for help doing it.
My invitation to you is that you courageously honor your soul's longing for connection, peace, joy, purity, liberation and love. It's safe to do so. It's time to do so. It's our responsibility to do so. You are fully blessed and always supported by the Great Mystery that seems to somehow always bring us back to love.
May you Shine On.
What makes this sabbatical radical is not the length of time off, although a month is truly a delicious amount of space to reconnect and rejuvenate. The radical element comes into play because I've chosen to insert this radical pause smack dab into the middle of my very busy, successful, fulfilling life. It's radical because I'm being wildly intentional and devoted to my highest good. I can sense that there's something deep below for me to access that only has the chance to come forward by my complete honoring of self. I am committing to totally slowing down, and more so, I am committing to receive divine inner guidance by practicing true integrity and ultimate deep listening. Totally radical.
As I prepared myself for this pause, I realized two important things. First, I was aware of how infrequently we give ourselves permission to be utterly spacious. We are trained in our society to fill up every ounce of free time on our calendars and push forward. Or our fear stops us and feeds us the story that we can't afford to pause. These tendencies rob us of our ability to experience our true nature, to face what's here and to access the brilliance of our inner stillness. It truly is radical to choose the awakened response over the reaction; the stillness over the stimulation; the sabbatical as a doorway to the next phase of our life's work and offerings.
I invite you to really think about this. In my own career, society feeds me messages that the next step of growth or success is for me to host a tele-summit or start my own TV show. Go bigger! Become famous! It's a massive paradigm shift to choose to PAUSE in the face of these dangling carrots and listen instead to my inner knowing that reaffirms my truth. I know that my inspiration and brilliance emerges when I have the space to dance through life. I know that something deep within me is coming forward and that it will solidify in the sanctuary of my own quiet and nourished depths. There is massive richness in the quiet deliciousness of the radical pause. Feel it?
The second thing I became very clear on in the process of preparing for this sabbatical is that I don't want to be the only one who is radical. Why should I be the only one who benefits from this indulgence? What if we all embraced the energy of radical intention in the coming month? I asked my clients what they wanted to be radial about in July and I was blown away by their answers. One of them is committing to radical self love. Another has the intention of radial deep listening and gratitude. Another is choosing to be radically free through adventure in July. Wow! We don't need to take time off to fulfill our deepest desires. We can be radical about aligning with our dreams and our truth right now, in between everything else.
So I invite you to join in. What would your life look like if you focused your energy on radical rest? Or radical authenticity? What paradigm shift and liberation is possible for you when you embrace radical fulfillment - only engaging in those activities, jobs, foods and people that totally bring you alive? How can you better serve our world by practicing radical generosity or radical tenderness towards yourself? What is here to access that otherwise would be missed?
As I step out into the vastness of my deliciously amazing Radical Sabbatical, I invite you to join me. Well, you're not invited to come to Hawaii with me next week... but you are invited to evolve into this new paradigm of purity, integrity and full permission to radically put yourself first. This is what feeds our ripple effect and our ability to pay it forward full on. Yes: the ultimate form of service comes when we serve from a place of connection to our highest, most joyous selves; from our fullest capacity and over-flowing hearts. I truly hope you'll consider this and that you'll join me in living a radially authentic, nourished and liberated life this month... and way beyond!
I'm looking forward to sharing my insights with you in August. Until then...
AN INVITATION TO MARVEL AT YOUR LIFE
And so the end of 2011 is upon us. What a powerful year! Did you feel it? I find the end of the year to be one of the most meaningful times, moreso than the beginning of the year. As these last days of December present themselves, many of us finally have a little downtime to take care of things around the house, relax and enjoy friends and family. It is a poignant time of year to marvel at your life and an important time to assess where you are at and where you are going.
YEAR END REFLECTION: MAKING TIME TO LOOK BACK
Reflection is a powerful tool towards achieving inner peace and clarity of vision. It can create a sense of closure as we shut the door to 2011 and strengthen our sense of possibility as we open the gates to 2012. I dedicate time before December 31st each year to honor my journey over the last 365 days and to marvel at my life. When we really take time to look back over the year, we often realize just how many mini miracles occurred and how much we've grown. Even if we have had an immensely difficult year, reflection at year's end allows us to close one chapter of life and welcome in an easier ride in the coming year. Often times it is getting clear about what didn't work that ignites the passion in us to shift our experience moving forward.
I invite you to take some quiet time to yourself to reflect. My favorite place to do this is at the beach or in my bedroom early in the morning with my journal. Here are some questions to inspire your process:
* What would you like to acknowledge yourself for?
* How did you grow this year?
* What was your most brave moment in 2011?
* Where did you practice expressing yourself authentically?
* What was the highlight of your year?
* Who/what are you most grateful for in 2011?
* What do you need to forgive yourself for?
* What is the greatest lesson you learned this year?
* What word embodies the overall theme of your year?
* What parts of your life from 2011 are you going to continue to cultivate in 2012?
MAKING ROOM FOR 2012: CLEARING PHYSICAL & MENTAL/EMOTIONAL CLUTTER
During the process of reflection it is common to gain some clarity on next steps. As we prepare to set intention and clarify our New Year's resolutions, it is important to make room for all of the good things we would like to invite in. Clearing clutter and "Releasing Rituals" are powerful, simple ways to create room for abundance, love, health and manifestation in the new year. I just finished going through my closets, desk and computer to get rid of everything that is no longer relevant to my life now. It feels fantastic! I feel lighter, more aligned and excited to really set intention and start manifesting my dreams come January.
In terms of physical clutter clearing, I recommend doing a quick "once over" on your closets, kitchen cupboards, bathroom drawers, desk, file cabinets, garage, etc. As you do this, ask yourself:
* What am I ready to let go of?
* What represents an old version of me that I do not want to embody moving forward?
* Would the future version of myself that I want to become utilize this item?
* Do I use/wear this item more than once every 6 months?
* Do I really need this?
In addition to physical clutter, releasing mental/emotional clutter can really free us up and make us ready for the new year. I recommend conducting a simple ritual to release what you no longer need. You can write the answers to the questions below on a piece of paper and safely burn it or throw it away. Or you can vocalize your feelings/answers to the ocean, a tree, an expansive valley or vista point. Nature has the strength to hold it all for you so you can let it go. Some questions to ask:
* What belief systems or "stories" about myself/my life no longer serve me that I can release?
* What spoken or unspoken "agreements" have I made with myself or others that are holding me back?
* What anger am I holding onto?
* What do I need to express?
* Who do I need to forgive?
NEW YEARS BLESSINGS
2012 is becoming more widely regarded as the year we will collectively shift the consciousness of our planet and evolve the world. Many of us feel that we are being called to step fully into our most actualized selves. As we stand at the doorway of this powerful time in history, I invite you to reflect on where you've been so that you may identify where you need to go from an empowered, celebratory place.
Wishing you and your loved ones a most incredible 2012! May the coming year be filled with abundant health, activities and people that bring you joy, empowerment, success, clarity, creativity, inner peace, balance, laughter, ease and love. May you be fully expressed, feel alive in your body and feel that your life is on course with your purpose and dreams!
As I close out 2011, I am extremely grateful. Thank You to all of you who read and forward my newsletters and blogs. THANK YOU to my amazing clients and workshop participants. I am blown away by your willingness to show up, risk, learn and remain committed to your process of evolution. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your journey. New Years blessings to you! Thank you also to my unbelievable family, friends, teachers and partner. You inspire me daily and remind me what living an authentic, healthy life is truly about.
See you on the other side!