What do you need to say?

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You can listen to me read this post right here (holy moly, it's 14 minutes. Prepare yourself.)

Dear beautiful you.

This is dedicated to my daughter. To your daughter. To all the daughters. To all the women who are in the lives of younger women. To all of us who are raising our voices for a deeper, wider and truer conversation that opens up a different world. I dedicate this to you.

I've been grappling. Grappling with the imperative to "be what you speak and speak what you be", as my wise friend KJ said to me. As the kid who was scorned as the town crier, I've always been a person for whom truth is an imperative, but now I'm in a whole new place -- no holds barred, truth spoken with courage, love and an open heart.

It's been amazing. And terrifying. And so incredibly healing. 

I didn't even know there were so many ways I was still silencing myself, but I've recently been initiating conversations where I've said things that I've never dared to say. Not particularly brave things, but vulnerable things which for me makes these conversations Brave with a capital B. 

It's vital to honor the hurt.

When I first began practicing yoga back in the stone ages when mats only came in one color - a light-ish blue -- our teacher began with the yamas and niyamas. The first yama -- non-violence --pierced me deeply. I knew it was mine to work with. I had no idea how that one ideal, taken into my heart, would change my life. I also had no idea what I was getting into -- I didn't really understand the damage I was dealing with: the harm our culture does to women's Truth, the very real impact of the violence that I had experienced, and oh my lord let's not even get into the violence that I inflicted on myself for many years, in so many ways.  

I have a whole lot of history with my voice, as so many women do -- maybe all women. My particular story includes my truth not being welcome with the people I love. Having my heart and soul shut-down by people I cared for and by society at large. And truly, too many counts of being shamed, blamed and rejected because of saying what is true for me. I've never met a woman who has not experienced this to some degree. We share this legacy, sisters. 

Over the last six years, I have been actively tending the work of restoring (what I believe to be) a natural state of non-harming in how I speak to, and about, myself and consequently, to others. This has been a scary, heart-wrenching and deeply transformative process of tending and remembering mySelf by owning my truth and stepping into conversations that are tender, necessary and honest. 

All of this has brought me to a heartbreaking truth: time and time again, I witness women effectively perpetuating violence against themselves by diminishing, dismissing, devaluing and doubting themselves in one way or another. For some of you it may be how you devalue yourSelf and the vital nature of your work. For others, it may be denying your needs and being in a perpetual state of giving in relationships. For some it could be dismissing your needs and silencing yourself when you are hurt in relationships. 

No matter what it is, if you are anything like me or the women I regularly speak with, this pattern is part of how you operate to some degree or another. 

Let's bring some light to this subject.

I want to begin with this acknowledgement: it takes a tremendous amount of courage and presence to look at and change the way we speak to ourselves, advocate for ourselves, or speak about ourselves. In other words, even for the most talkative among us, it can be extremely daunting to step into vulnerability, to courageously decide to speak the whole truth. 

I will tell you, as excited as I've been about offering Say It! as part of The School of Sacred Practice, I've also been grappling with doubt and apathy, which I sat with long enough (uncomfortably, I might add) to surface that this was rooted in a diminishment of what I offer to the women I'm calling in, which goes back to the ways I was shamed for using my voice as a young person. I say this because it's important to me that you know I'm right here with you. I know how hard it is to say the challenging things out loud. I also know how transformative it is to brave those stormy seas of fear to Say It! even when your voice shakes.  

As hard as it is to open up our hearts and share the depths of our self-perpetuated suffering, it can be even harder to open up and share the luminous qualities and gifts that we have to share. Under the surface waves of the self-diminishment that I can so easily slip into is a larger truth  -- I am really grounded in a compassionate way of being that gives me a gift for holding welcoming, transformative space. I'm not going to qualify that statement at all -- it's true (but oh my god I want to).

Outside of the act of getting sober and committing to stop the legacy of addiction I inherited, this devotion to non-violent truth in all the ways, including how I speak to and about myself, is the most important work I've done. It's the most important foundational work I've done to help me speak true in sharing my work so it reaches the women who need it. It's the most important work I've done to foster more joyful intimacy with my husband. It's the most important work I've done to ensure that I'm the parent Clara needs. It's the most important work I've done as the basis of cultivating relationships with other women, and the world at large, that feels nourishing and honest. 

The journey of a lifetime.

I want to see women all over the world speak the truth to, and about, themselves -- because this is the basis for changing the world we live in, one open-hearted conversation at a time. Say It! may not change your life in three weeks, but it could change the trajectory of how you live your life. True story. 

So whether you want to join me and the amazing women who have already said yes to Say It!, these are the three explorations and practices of devotion that you can work with to move a little deeper into a non-harming, truth-rich relationship with your beautiful Self and consequently, the world. 

Say It! Invitation One: Do Unto YourSelf as You Would Have Others Do Unto You

One of the most profound (and tedious) practices that creates true magic over time is a devotion to being on your own side. For those of us that speak the language of self-doubt to ourselves, struggle to receive, or are inclined to think everyone is better than we are, this is an invitation to simply consider how you truly wish to be spoken to and treated (as in, write it down.) Do you speak to yourself the way you would speak to others? Begin there, with yourSelf. No exceptions, no excuses -- own it and act on it. Devote yourself to this. Be fiercely on your own side. Simple. Tedious. Effective. Do it.

Say It! Invitation Two: Trust the Strength of Vulnerability

Once you deepen in your capacity to be on your own side, it's easier to dig into the Truth - your deepest Truth. As you surface what is truly happening for you, your invitation is to consider (to just consider, mind you) letting others experience your fullness. What do you need to say? Because let me tell you sister -- really, this practice is all about noticing, and letting yourself have, all the feels about what has stood between you and yourSelf and speaking your truth. Expect tears and lots of clearing away when you choose vulnerability with yourself. This is uncomfortable, life-changing work. Be gentle with you and let yourself feel it all the way through. 

Say It! Invitation Three: Take it to the Streets

This is the beginning of something beautiful -- when we are so grounded in who we are and our truth that we can Say It! to those around us. In other words, the true measure of the intimacy we create with ourselves is the impact that it has on our relationship to life. To Say It! is to be in an ongoing unfolding of knowing your Truth and being fully in it for yourself, on your own behalf and also for the world around you. The invitation is to choose to speak True -- maybe that's how you market your work. Maybe it's in boundaries you set. Maybe it's how you ask for what you need or say what's true for you -- no matter what, this is the very stuff of living your Truth in ways that change you and the world. 

I believe in your Truth.

I believe every single voice is needed and necessary at this time. I believe knowing your wisdom and discerning your own heart's Truth is the only way to lead a life of joy and purpose. I in no way believe this means being nice and "not making waves" or conversely, vomiting anger, rage and shame onto others. I do believe this means unequivocally stopping the damn violence and practicing the kind of true sovereignty and compassion that spreads like wildfire through our collective consciousness and conversations. 

So tell me, sister, what do you need to say to, and about, yourSelf? Today, your invitation is to share one challenging and tender thing with another human (which can absolutely be me - I would be honored to witness you. Just click here - just between you and me!) and to claim and share one radiant gift that you've tucked away and hidden or diminished. Note how it feels, breathe with yourself, it's okay for it to feel scary and edgy. This is how we expand our capacity to Say It!, sister -- one step at a time.

I hope you'll take the journey with me.

xo.nona

Befriend Your Demons

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Do you prefer audio? Listen to this blog post here {10:01 minutes}: 

How do you face your demons?

This may seem like an odd question, but many women struggle to look directly at their own suffering - let alone get support or share what's happening in the realm of their darkest struggles out of fear or shame or, in the hope, perhaps, that if they ignore their demons they will disappear. Rest assured that without facing our demons directly, they will bring us to our knees, insisting on our attention in some form or fashion that we will not like. 

The devil and I. 

When I was 4 or 5 years old, I had just learned about the concept of God's enemy, the devil. Knowing that God is pure love, I reasoned that really, the devil was the one that I wanted to cozy up to. I remember distinctly that I had taken a decision to pray to the devil each day so he wouldn't tempt me or make me do bad things. 

I also remember distinctly that I was learning to tie my shoes at the time and, one morning, sitting on the stairs of our porch, I was chatting with the devil and tying my shoes. I got my shoes tied by myself for the first time (woo hoo) and, running off to play, my Grandmother asked me who I was talking to. I explained that, since God loves me and wants to take care of me, I had decided to get on the devil's good side -- I mean, why pray to God, when it's the devil who is going to lead me into evil?? 

My Grandmother nearly had a heart attack and told me in no uncertain terms to NOT pray to the devil, but instead to trust that praying to God was going to keep me safe. Even at the time, I remember being puzzled by this idea of ignoring a fundamental aspect of life (evil, darkness, temptation, etc) and relying on God to keep me safe. 

Though this is an adorable story it also points to an essential piece of my character that has heavily shaped my own life and shapes my coaching. As a woman and a coach in recovery from alcohol addiction, as a woman and a coach who has struggled with money and finances, as a woman and a coach who has dealt with trauma, depression and anxiety, hell, as a woman and a coach who has struggled with so many darn aspects of life I can say with a lot of certainty that befriending the demons we grapple with is a far more effective, and kinder approach than denial, fear or shame.

Courage to befriend your demons. 

Though I'm no longer a church-goer nor do I believe there is an entity called the devil, on a metaphorical level, my 4 year old self was right: understanding and befriending our demons is wise. And, whether women know it or not, they tend to arrive into my circle seeking support in facing, and embracing, their own demons. 

This sounds so hard. It sounds so horrible. It sounds so.... unfun, right? 

In moments, yes, of course it's hard. But mostly, it feels like freedom and joy to be fully present and not only face your demons, but to consciously work with your challenges. Because really, let's consider how much energy goes into denying something. Even when you might not be actively thinking about something that you struggle with, the fact is, that somewhere in the background: in your energy, in your beliefs, in your day to day actions, that particular demon is draining energy and shaping the trajectory of your life. 

To make the choice to befriend your demons and work with the truth of who you are is the easier choice. That is ground truth, no matter what the fallout may be because the easier choice is the choice that frees up your energy and aligns your actions with your deepest wisdom.  When you choose to befriend your demons you are saying yes to living truthfully and committing to living into the woman you are meant to be: joyful, free, fully alive and beautifully human. 

We are built to handle this exquisite range of experience. 

The Role of Sacred Practice in Befriending Your Demons

We are always practicing - however, Sacred Practice is on purpose, with an eye to conscious choice and transformation.

So, imagine if you will, an infinity loop (an endless figure eight flipped onto it's side) - my experience is that there are two kinds of Sacred practice: like an inhalation and an exhalation, like expansion and contraction - there are inward-facing practices and outward-facing practices and they not only work in tandem, but are amplified by one another. This is the nature of Sacred Practice.

On one side of the infinity loop, you have the exhalation, the contraction, the proverbial stillness of the winter: you have Inward facing Sacred Practices. These practices bring you into a state of intimacy with yourSelf: your pain, heartache, demons, yes, but also your divinity, your wisdom and your light - however, without welcoming and working with the darkness, you will deny yourself the incredible potency of your light. Your demons and your divinity go together and, to access your full wisdom and therefore, a life of meaning, you need both. Welcoming the entirety of yourself and your experience in this realm is the very basis of self-trust and wise action in your outward facing Sacred Practices. 

On the other side of the infinity loop, you have the inhalation, the expansion, the blooming and the growth of summer: outward facing Sacred Practices are the actions that you commit to with your spiritual resources: the rest you give your body, the way you tend your money, marketing your business consistently, cooking nourishing meals for yourself, speaking the truth with loved ones, sitting down to write on a regular basis... these outward facing Sacred Practices are shaped by the clarity we receive and the healing we do in our inward facing Sacred Practice. Outward-facing Sacred Practices, done in alignment with our inward facing Sacred Practices, shape and mold the trajectory of our lives no matter what our circumstances. 

Both types of practices are essential - they feed each other and make our lives, our work and our experience rich and meaningful as they teach us to trust ourselves and our capacity. 

This is the heart and soul of conscious transformation. 

We know it's working when we see the results of our healing (debt being paid off, financials up to date, we wake up rested, our right clients begin arriving, our relationships become richer and more satisfying) and sometimes we know our Sacred Practice is working because situations and ideas and relationships crumble as we come into integrity and alignment with our own deepest truth. It may not be easy, but it is the easiest choice. It is the life-giving choice. It is the path of growth and transformation. 

In a world that rests on the false promise of instant transformation and instant results, Sacred Practice offers a reliable way to be your own healer and guide as you keep showing up with fierce commitment for the woman you are, and for the woman you are becoming. 

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Tiny Magic: Befriend Your Demons

The School of Sacred Practice is open for registration. In the first intensive, Tend and Mend, we will be focusing on the outward-facing Sacred Practice of tending and mending money, which can be tricksy and challenging for women in business -- I find there is always an element of healing,clarity and wise action to address here, don't you? 

And so, whether your demons are money related or otherwise, tune in to this Tiny Magic: to Bless and Transform your Demons into allies and wisdom - this is energy medicine that is amplified when you listen with your full attention and an open heart. I love this for you, for all of us.

If this Tiny Magic Sacred Practice calls to you, join me and the incredible community of women that is gathering for the deep magic of transformation in The School of Sacred Practice. 

I would love to support you in 2018. 

xo.nona

 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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