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

The Moment of Your Truth

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Hey soul sister: you can listen to me read this blog post {8 min, 4 sec}

How long have you known?

You were born knowing your Truth. You knew that then, before you were told otherwise. And of course, you know that now, but at some point, you may have started walking it back, hiding it away, or even dismissing or diminishing what you know to be true for all the right reasons.

Maybe you wanted to fit in, or not get in trouble, or perhaps you noticed that the people around you didn't understand or, that there was no context in which you could understand the Truth of your being so you dismissed it, diminished it. Simply put, you walked away from yourSelf, as so many of us do.

I honor you and the desire to belong. We do the best we can, don't we?

You circled back to truth.

If you are here, at some point, you began to circle back. You got curious. Or maybe you got sick. Or you just got fed up. There may have been a catalytic event that propelled you to find what you hid away so long ago. You felt the longing to come home to your own Soul, to the knowing of your heart. 

You came home to yourSelf and your longing to live your magic, yes, but also to share it with the world. To teach, to coach, to support others in their own expression of wholeness. 

The uncomfortable edge.

In making the return journey home to your knowing, to your heart, to your soul's essence, you find the journey is challenging. For all the "bliss" that is promised, the truth is, the path can be brutal. Yes, beautiful and yes, brutal. 

One of the edges that I am most fascinated by both in myself, and in others, is that even as we spiral inward toward essence, toward fully embodying the truth of true nature and the work that we are called to, there are ongoing challenges. 

Bliss or no bliss, the urge to deny, dismiss or diminish what we know is true is destructive -- this urge creates distance and does real harm. An internalized prison that keeps us at a safe distance from the heart of our truth and the work we are truly here to do. 

The lies we tell ourselves and others.

Language matters. Too often, I hear my clients or women I know speaking about themselves in ways that keep them shackled. 

"Oh, I'm just doing this little thing..."
"I'm so afraid, which means I suck and I'm never going to...."
"I do this weird thing..."
"I can't share this because people will think..."
"I have no idea what I'm doing, I'm so stupid...."

I hear variations on these sentences daily in my own head and from the mouths of clients. These kinds of statements, allowed to run the show unchecked, become painfully embedded in our psyches, amplifying our fear and diminishing our ability to be fully and joyfully ourselves in the world. 

I've been actively rooting out this language for years and still, it persists. As I've named it for what it is -- self-perpetuated violence -- I've taken it more seriously and it's drastically improved. Maybe it will never go away, but I understand just how important this is for our individual and collective liberation. It seems like such a small thing, easily overlooked as not so important -- there is an impulse to diminish and dismiss the way we diminish and dismiss ourselves. But these statements are lies. Flat. Out. Lies.

Call it what it is and let's try something different. 

The moment of your truth.

How we speak to, and about ourselves, either draws us closer to ourSelves and others, or creates distance. It may be one of the most important aspects of our development as humans.  How we speak to, and about ourselves, is the very foundation of our self-worth, of our relationships, the health and wellbeing of our communities and of the success of our work in the world. It is the heartbeat of how we communicate with others, how we connect and our language either fosters, or fractures, our sense of belonging. 

You and I have the great good fortune (and burden) of living into ways of being and working that are undefined, and therefore undervalued, by our society. We have a choice to continue perpetuating the language of dismissal and diminishment or to commit to grounding ourselves in the truth. 

When faced with the crappy, diminishing, and dismissive words that spill out of your mouth, take a moment to find and speak your truth and let me begin by telling you what I know for sure about you. 

  • You do work at the edges where spirit meets matter and our current language cannot possibly contain the mystery of you and your work in the world.
  • You are afraid because walking in places without a compass or a map takes courage and you have that in spades, don't you? 
  • You do work that deeply serves the world. You know this by the impact that you have on people, whether they can articulate it or not.
  • You must share who you are because otherwise, you will never feel a true sense of belonging nor will others be able to receive you fully if you hide and that would be sad for everyone.
  • You may not know what the long-term plan is, but that is okay because you are called and your soul knows the way.

It's okay to say these things. To stop diminishing and dismissing yourself. To draw close to your truth and to give others the chance to see you clearly, to teach them the truth of who you are and in doing so, who they are.

With great tenderness, embrace the truth.

It is turning toward yourSelf, and your truth -- even (especially) when it's uncomfortable -- that liberates and empowers. You live and breathe at the very edge of human awareness and language. You are operating in the mystery. At this edge, you are expanding the conscious knowing of what is real and creating the language as you go. This is revolutionary work, and, make no mistake, it is changing the world we live in.

Speak to, and about yourself, with great care, sister. As you do, may the world open to you with warm celebration of the gifts you carry for yourself, for all of us. 

xo.nona 

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Truth in Practice

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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