How we Lift Others

Too many of you have been held down

In large and small ways, in direct and indirect ways too many women are dismissed, diminished and held back from their own greatness when, in an ideal world, we would be lifted and supported by those around us, those who came before us. Often, that is not the case.

This weekend, as Samhain approached, I was talking to my daughter about ancestors. I was explaining to her how each of us, we stand on the shoulders of those who go before us in the best of circumstances. We are held up, we are lifted high. Our ancestors offer us a springboard by which we fly. 

To See the Possibility Horizon

I told my daughter that my deepest desire, my most fervent prayer is that her father and I lift her high above our own shoulders so she reaches greater heights than we have. Tears stung my eyes and I realized once again, that is also my most fervent wish for the women who seek inspiration through my writing, for the women who sign up for energetic support through Medicine Vision, and for the women who choose to work with me individually. I want to lift you up so you can see to the horizon of infinite possibility. I want to offer you space to heal and to know the support of someone who deeply believes in you and your capacity to realize your deepest desires. 

Years ago, I was offered an image of myself helping others across a dangerous and swiftly moving river. One by one, helping women to cross the river and climb the banks. I believe all of us are called on some level to lift others, to reach out a hand, to propel others beyond where we stand. However, this requires knowing your strength and experiencing your own vast wealth of resources. 

To be the Woman You Are 

Not many women I know were actively lifted up by their ancestors. I certainly wasn't, nor were my immediate ancestors. I would say that through sheer stubborn will and an abundance of inner fire I clawed my way past being actively held down by those around me. I am grateful for my warrior's heart. I am grateful to the people and the unseen forces and allies who believed in me and supported me. I am grateful for the time I've had to heal because frankly, that climb was exhausting. 

In personal development, and Western culture in general, there is a damaging idea that we stand alone and that we, alone, control our destiny. Living in Zambia has simply amplified something I have come to believe over the last few years -- that this idea of singularly manifesting our destiny is faulty reasoning - this idea victimizes the victim and isolates us from seeking true support and opening to receive. It also weakens us. But rest assured, circumstances, culture, violence, ancestors, genetics, the nature we have access to, access to education -- we control very little of the outside forces that create pressure on our capacity to rise, to lift others and to be lifted. 

Knowing what I know about how so many Western women have been actively held back from greatness, seeing what I see among the people of Zambia who may not be held back by ancestors but by lack of water, food, healthcare or education (perhaps all of the above) I feel even more deeply that all boats -- and I mean ALL of them, rise or sink together. 

Whatever your work is, in whatever way you are called to lift others be it through raising children, working in a corporate setting, or running and building an entrepreneurial venture, it requires that you let yourself be supported and held. That you allow time for your own healing. That you stay filled up to the brim to keep your spiritual strength. I want you to feel the deep support of being lifted up, too, because wholeness and enlivenment begets the same. 

There is Time.

This call to lift others can sound impossible if you are tired, if you feel unworthy, if you feel there isn't even enough for you. This can sound impossible (and actually, wildly distasteful) if you haven't been offered strong shoulders to stand on or time to tend the wounds of your own climb if your ancestors refused to let you stand on their shoulders. 

I don't want my daughter to spend half of her life (maybe more) healing from her childhood and a punishing culture as I have done. I don't want you to spend one second more than you need to on the climb out of toxic relationships, or the healing and rest that absolutely must follow the climb beyond ancestors who hurt instead of helped.

It may seem there is no time to "waste" -- our bank accounts, our communities and the world need strong women who know themselves and their power to create positive change. That only comes when you've given yourself time to heal fully.  There is time for you: for your climb, for your healing and from there, to vision and act on a new future and to lift others. 

For you. 

Please know that your voice, your heart, your vision -- all are necessary facets of creating an enlivened wholeness individually and collectively. Acknowledge what you've climbed beyond. Acknowledge the ancestors you may still be climbing past and yes, honor the ancestors and the people who have supported and lifted you. Let yourself rest and heal. Give yourself the gift of someone, many someones, who will lift you up, who will celebrate your rise, who will help you see the horizon of possibility and help you take the steps to create that world. 

May you feel the support of many hands lifting you and in turn, offer your hands to lifting others in your time.

xo.nona

A prayer for walking through fire

I am barely settled. 

One day up, one day down, most days sideways. A transcontinental move of epic proportions from Colorado to Zambia. I'm in it. I'm in the fire, facing the challenge of overwhelming change. This missive is for me as much as it is for you. A smoke signal rising from the ashes for those of us who are walking through the fire of challenge. 

As I take one step and then the next through the fires of change, I'm reminded that there is a particular set of circumstances that feels like fire, but also a choice and a practice that has guided and shaped my life and my work: I believe that the way we dance with and walk through the fires that we face both within ourselves, and those that life provides, reveal the heart of who we are. 

I believe that the way we engage with the fire, more than anything else, defines our lives. 

We humans tend to seek comfort. 

I've experienced my share of fear and anxiety -- I say this to affirm that I'm no different from anyone else. I identify myself as someone who is sensitive, intuitive, a certain level of trauma in my life, self-aware, a body that needs extra care, spiritually oriented and committed to making a positive contribution to the world. I'm guessing you have some, or all, of these qualities as well. These qualities point to a greater need for safety. 

These are real aspects and qualities that require compassion and care and tenderness and, can be a real strength when tended well. I would even go so far as to say that when tended through diligent and honest self-care, these qualities are the foundation of being a skilled fire walker in day to day life. On the other hand, they can also become reasons that sensitive souls might justify disengaging. Wrapping up in a soft warm blanket of comfort zone and keeping the world at bay. 

The fire beckons us. 

We can recognize the call by paying attention to our fear and our resistance. Taking a moment (or two) to notice if what we are feeling is the signature of wise fear (full stop, turn around, don't do it) or if it's the signature of resistance/fear (there is something amazing on the other side of this fear... I wonder what it is?).

Listening beneath the fear for the truth: is there something beautiful, powerful and true waiting on the other side of this fear?

You know. 

This skill, this capacity to turn and face our fear, to meet the challenge, to walk through the fire, to vanquish our demons teaches us who we are. It expands our world and transforms us into the people we truly are, the women we were born to be. It gives us joy, presence and strength. 

Whether it's learning to stand up for yourself and what you believe, or marketing and charging appropriately for your work, or learning to set boundaries and say no, or speaking out and educating your family about racism, or learning how to push yourself physically by mastering a new skill (like surfing) or even moving to Africa - this is the invitation. There is no room for cynicism or apathy or numbing out. This is life itself calling you out, inviting you to risk it. 

Walk through the fire. Face the fear. There are endless opportunities for each of us to walk through the fire and in doing so, we expand into more of who we are here to be. There is gold waiting for you on the other side.

If you are afraid and it's time to walk through the fire, time to face you fear, this prayer is for you.

A prayer for fire walkers.

Fire. I honor you.
I honor you as a master of alchemy. An agent of change.
I honor you and the way that your smoke and flames wake me up, bring me to full attention.

May I be alert in your presence and listen closely to your wisdom.
May I easily discern whether to flee, or to brave the fire and face my fear. 

Fire. Guide me.
Teach me how to tend you wisely. 
Teach me how to be consumed by you, renewed by you. 

May I have the courage to be the warrior you ask me to be.
May I commit to knowing your power and in doing so, know my own.

Fire. Light my way.
Inspire me to burn bright, to ignite the courage of those around me. 
Inspire me to speak truth, and in doing so, inspire others to know their own truth. 

May I know the gifts you offer to those who are brave enough to court you.
May I enjoy the abundance of fertile wealth that you leave in your wake.

Fire. Knowing my truth, I face you.
Eyes and heart open, I walk through the embers, the smoke, and the flames.
Eyes and heart open, I surrender to your teaching, one step at a time. 

Show me who I am. Burn away what I am not.
Transform me into the woman I am in the heat of your glorious flames.

Fire. I honor you.

Walk with courage through the fire you face.

I am with you, sister. Share with me what you are facing with courage -- let me hold it with you and affirm your power, your affinity with the fire itself. 

xoxo.nona

The light-bearing gift of addiction

I've been thinking a lot about addiction and recovery as I've been winding down my work in preparation for our move, and feeling all the feels about all of it. Because I'm recognizing the clear signs of withdrawal from work. From WORK for crying out loud. It's been like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland -- I keep thinking I'm going to get to the bottom but I keep falling, my past rushing by, offering me greater wisdom and healing around the gift of addiction and the call to recovery. 

I know this place. 

If you've been here for a while, you know that I freely identify myself as a woman with a body that is addiction-prone. I've not drank alcohol for fifteen years and so many other addictions have shown up for me to circle this particular pattern within myself over and over: money/over-spending, sugar, information mining, Facebook, my silly iPhone... and here we are, with work. 

I'm grateful that I recognize addiction as one of my life lessons and frankly, I believe the world might be a kinder and more intelligent place if more people would make room for addiction and recovery to be part of their story. Because it probably is, to some degree.  

Addiction is a light-bearing gift.

We live in a world addicted, for good reason. Addiction is a reasonable response to living in a dysfunctional society. Addiction is a reasonable response to living in a system that devalues and dismisses women and destroys our habitat, Earth. Addiction is a reasonable response to families and societies that were never taught to value emotions or how to meet needs in truthful, life-giving ways. Addiction is a reasonable response to wanting comfort, joy and fulfillment, but not knowing how to cultivate those qualities in meaningful ways.

So what is addiction? 

Definition of addict {Merriam Webster}

transitive verb

1:  to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively was addicted to gambling

2:  to cause addiction to a substance in (a person or animal)

Origin and Etymology of addict

Latin addictus, past participle of addicere to favor, from ad- + dicere to say.

What I love about the definition and etymology of the word addiction is that the cure is written into the definition itself. To loosen the chains, our call to action is to surrender to the truth — to face ourselves and our habit: the sugar, the work, the alcohol, the endless seeking, the desire to transcend, the drugs — our habitual reliance is harming us, causing pain, or keeping us from what we truly desire. 

Addiction, no matter what form it takes, is the obsessive creation of space between a person and their life. The space between you and your light. The space between you and the discomfort of unmet needs and unseen emotions. The space between you and what you really want. The space between you and being too much. Addiction, in all it's forms, creates space through distraction, through numbness, through disconnection. 

Addiction is not a personal failing, it is an indicator of sensitive bodies and minds living in a society that requires distraction and distance in order to survive the violence and suppression that is the norm. The continued use of violence and suppression to "get over it" is not supportive of the psyche's need for safety, affirmation and great care.

The longing for a different path opens the path.

The pain that creates the addiction is deep wisdom -- a call to meet one's needs, it is a healthy instinct gone awry. As the addiction itself stops working (almost always), it brings you back to the initial pain and then some. Though it’s a place where you are suffering and you may feel broken, incapable and unworthy, the longing for a different path, opens the path.

Addiction, and the inevitable longing and urge for healing, points to the wisdom and wholeness that is alive and well within you. The indomitable human spirit KNOWS that there is something else available. You can trust your instinct to heal and the mere fact that a particular addiction has come to the end of it’s useful life is an invitation to wake up. You, me, we are made for so much more than a life of addiction, distraction and numbness.  

The light at the bottom of the rabbit hole.

In a long conversation with a friend I hadn't spoken with in three years she said to me, "You look great. Softer. There is something different about you and your energy now." I feel that, deeply. I'm grateful for that reflection. 

Seeing my own relationship with addiction and distraction presented to me as I've stopped working has been difficult, and it's been like falling into a state of full on grace. The ways I've wanted work or sugar or marriage or staying ridiculously busy or money or spiritual practice (and previously, alcohol) to support me, to protect me from my own anger or grief, or to make me feel important and relevant are astonishing and oh so human. My pull to these destructive ways of being has stemmed from a deeply rooted neural pathway that told me I was nothing without "important, relevant work" and my feelings? Well, since my anger and grief are related to unfixable circumstances, I best just bury them in sugar instead of feeling through it all. And my desire for real support: to be seen and held and treated with tenderness? I've sought those things in the solace of a spiritual practice instead of the hard work of asking for what I need from actual humans.

Let me be clear, there is nothing to fix and, nothing innately wrong with any of the above - nor are they always addictive. It is my relationship to these things that kept me hidden from myself. As I said, addiction is a reasonable response to an unreasonable world. And, that doesn't mean that it is the response that we are meant to have or that I want to live. My pain tells me there is something far better, far more real available. Despite of, or maybe because of, addiction, I am a fully functioning swirl of human and divine and I feel lucky (yes, lucky) that I knew early on that addiction would be a companion on my life's journey as it has been a constant invitation to move toward recovery -- the call to ever-increasing closeness with myself and with life in nourishing, authentic ways. 

I believe that humans are wired for devotion.

For emotion. For shining big light and walking in the dark. For intuition. For celebration. For stillness. We are wired to ride the rhythm and flow of our emotional waters. For wonder, joy and connection. I experience it more and more, and I hope beyond hope that you feel that, too. 

As I let my work as I know it unravel and fall away, my personal work continues to be taking a compassionate bow of reverence toward my desire to create space between myself and life and to say, "Not today. Today I am devoted showing up for the fullness of my being and the fullness of my life." I have come to believe that I cannot engage in the work I am meant to if I'm putting space between myself and my light, between myself and my needs, between myself and my emotions, between myself and my body and my experience -- all of it. 

Your invitation, and there is one, of course. 

If you are a woman who knows that you are putting space between yourself and your life with.... something (pick your soothing agent of choice) then honor that. Soften into it. Let me affirm that this is not a personal failing, but a reasonable response to what is happening in your life or in our collective experience. Only then are you free to choose differently, if that is what you want. I would invite you to get curious about your habitual responses and what might be available if you got just that much closer to yourself and your own experience? What light and treasure might you reveal to yourself and to the world?

With all of my love and adoration. I am fully on your side.  

xoxo.nona