I have lusciously sweet plans for Friday, my first-ever Valentine’s Day with David. Romantic culinary wizard that he is, he’ll be recreating the restaurant meal we shared on our 6-hour first date. (And I have a few decadent surprises up my sleeve, too.) But I was inspired last night with the idea for a more unusual Valentine tradition that my precious man has enthusiastically embraced. We’re going to write love letters to one another, seal them up in envelopes, and hide them away . . . not to be exchanged or opened until Valentine’s Day, 2015.
Why not exchange and read them on the spot? Love letters are easy and fun and habitual for both of us, but I’m going for something a little different here. It occurred to me that when we write our usual love letters, we’re already—as we’re writing—imagining the recipient reading them. What might we say if that weren’t the case? The most enthralling aspect of this relationship for me has been the radical honesty we’ve each willingly brought to it. But I’ve noticed a fascinating phenomenon: As we’ve progressed as a couple, each of our respective capacities for authenticity has steadily deepened.
For so long now, “authenticity” has been my buzzword, my mission, the holy grail of my daily practice. I thought I knew all the tricks for coming clean with myself and others . . . but now the exquisitely safe container of this beautiful partnership is giving me the opportunity to stretch my authenticity muscles in ways I’d never come close to experiencing before.
When I conduct writing workshops to lead students inward, I tell them they MUST assume, while doing the writing exercises, that no one will ever see their words. Later, of course, they might decide to share something, but writing while imagining being read is writing in shackles. It will never produce your most raw, uncensored truth.
David and I have prided ourselves on our mutual transparency since the very beginning of our us-ness. Yet we both recognize it’s snowballed beyond what either of us could have then imagined. What cavernous depths of authenticity might we be expressing a whole year from now? Projecting ourselves there in our imaginations is what will fuel Friday’s letters.
Ever the practical one, David asked how we were going to remember a year from now where we’d hidden the letters. So I opened my electronic calendar and wrote myself a reminder note on the date February 14, 2015.
I don’t know yet what I’ll write in David’s letter on Friday. And it will be 367 days before I find out what he writes in mine. But I know it will be real, and I know it will be true . . . possibly the truest either of us has ever been.continue reading
Thanksgiving. It’s about being grateful, right? About recognizing all the external stuff in our lives that we should be feeling gratitude for. That’s all fine and good, but this year I want to challenge you to step up your game. I want you to channel that gratitude in a completely new and different direction.
Because here’s the problem: Quite often, there’s a subconscious program running when it comes to the concept of gratitude. We’re told again and again that we should be grateful for the good things in our lives, but what if – gasp – you know on some level that “grateful” doesn’t quite accurately describe what you’re truly feeling? Then you’re forced to pretend to be thankful, so that no one will discover your secretly dark, ungrateful heart. Now you’ve given yourself one more thing to be inauthentic about, one more thing to judge yourself for, one more opportunity to energetically beat yourself up.
Let’s face it — being authentically grateful is not as easy as it sounds! And there’s a reason for that. We’ve been programmed to look outside of ourselves when making those lists of things to be grateful for. Our homes, the food on our tables, our luxuries. Even if we nobly look past the more materialistic aspects of our lives and focus on being grateful for our relationships with loved ones (which is a step in the right direction), we’re still looking outside of ourselves.
And guess what. Deep, real, delicious joy doesn’t ever happen from the outside in. Can you feel the truth in that? We keep thinking: “As soon as I can get xyz in my life, I’ll have this joy thing in the bag. Then I’ll be truly grateful.” But what happens when xyz shows up? That’s when we decide it’s really abc that we wanted after all, and we start chasing abc instead.
But xyz, or abc, or whatever pdq-circumstances you manage to manifest will never bring you true happiness, no matter what they are . . . until you learn the most basic, most misunderstood, most significant skill you’ll ever master: the art of deeply loving and accepting YOU. That is the only path to daily, sustainable, joy, and the only position from which it’s possible to feel the deep bliss of authentic gratitude.
So here’s my Thanksgiving Challenge for you: Before the family arrives, before the turkey goes into the oven, before the bags are packed for the airport . . . carve out a bit of time for YOU. Sit in silence with the intention of deeply, sweetly, loving YOU and feeling gratitude for who you most truthfully are. If that brings up some discomfort, allow yourself to feel grateful for the realization! Make a commitment to finding things to love about yourself and new ways to accept and honor YOU. Do a NakedWriting with the prompt, “If I wholeheartedly adored and accepted myself, it would be for these reasons: . . . ” Then treat that list like the pure gold that it is! Read it several times a day! Commit to believing it!
Celebrate even the smallest shifts you’re able to make in your ability to genuinely love yourself. That IS something to be truly grateful for! You’ll start to notice how releasing your long-held self-judgments just naturally makes you less judgmental of others. You’ll start to notice how being at peace with yourself causes all of your surroundings and life-situations to magically become more peaceful as well. You’ll discover that the more authentic your love for YOU gets, the more fun it is to freely pour love into everyone around you.
I promise you that if you make self-love your top priority, soon genuine THANKFULNESS will become your truest, most natural state of being.
(I’m super thankful this week to be featured in Breaking Limitations alongside many of my most beloved teachers — Eldon Taylor, Robert Holden, Gregg Braden, Bruce Lipton, Joan Borysenko, Gary Renard, Sandra Anne Taylor, Denise Linn, Michael Neill, Deborah King, Marci Shimoff, and more. I’m tomorrow’s speaker! It’s a fantastic event, and you can still get in on it here.)
I’m 49 today. 49 freakin’ rocks. I love 49 more than any other age I’ve ever been. Who would have guessed that 49 would be the age I’d feel more right about myself, more worthwhile, wiser, sexier, more ME than any of those commonly-regarded-more-desirable ages that preceded it? If you’re not 49 yet, I’m telling you . . . hold onto your hat.
‘Cause here’s what happens: You find your groove. You’ve been around the block enough times to know what you want, and you’ve finally figured out that knowing what you want and surrendering fully to that desire is what will create it for you. You’ve stopped dreaming and started expecting. You’ve become a master at the art of expectation with full-on juicy anticipation, so the Universe has happily begun to plop every bit of it into your lap.
Whatever age you are now, I want you to understand that getting older is the bomb! You stop settling, and start settling IN instead. It actually does take some adjustment! Creating shitloads of wonderfulness for yourself can feel awkward as hell until you get used to it. But little by little, you allow it. You settle into the bliss. You settle into the trust that it really does belong to you now, and you deserve it, and you can bask in its yumminess with full abandon.
If you pay consistent attention to who you are, and continually strive for greater levels of authenticity and vulnerability and connection with your fellow humans, the aging process will naturally be an ever-more enjoyable and glorious journey for you. I guarantee it.
From where I sit this morning, 49 is just the beginning. A shiny, shiny, glorious beginning.continue reading
Crazy, right? Everyone says gratitude’s the shZizzle! But in working with my Joy-Training clients, I’ve found that very often there’s a smidge of a belief — way underneath there — that if we’re really grateful, it means we don’t deserve the thing we’re grateful for. Like: “Oh, thank you; I’m so grateful to you; I don’t deserve this . . .” In a super-subtle way, it puts you in a slightly lower position to the thing you’re grateful for. And if you don’t fully believe – on every level – that you deserve a thing, you are most definitely subconsciously blocking yourself from receiving it.
Know what word I like better? “Appreciation.” You can appreciate a gorgeous work of art, for example, without any of that subtext. When you’re appreciating something, you’re merging with the wonderfulness of it. It’s like you share its energy; you’re feeling joy from this thing, period. You’re not feeling indebted to it, the way “gratitude” almost, sort-of implies.
The most insidious side-effect of all this focus on the importance of gratitude is this: It causes a lot of people to look at their lives and say, “Wow, I should be thankful for this.” But what if that feeling isn’t authentic for you? Then you add the “should be thankful” judgement to that laundry-list of judgements you carry around about yourself. And compounding that list does nothing for your self-love. So if you’re feeling like your life sucks right now, I want you stop trying to be grateful for it. It’s too hard. I’m going to show you how to “appreciate” it instead.
Let’s say, for instance, you feel a financial lack right now. You’d like to have more money.
Well, you have some money, right? If I said to you now, “I want you to be grateful for your money,” you could probably stretch and do it, but you’d most likely feel a little resistance when I suggest that. Like: “Ha! Money is the source of all my stress. How can I feel grateful? Sure I have some money, but it’s hard to feel grateful when it’s not nearly as much as I need/want, blah, blah, blah . . .”
But what if I said, “Can you appreciate the money you have?” It’s easier, right? You do have some money, and you did have breakfast, and I presume no one reading this is sleeping under a bridge tonight. So . . . that’s something to appreciate, right?
Maybe it’s not money for you. Maybe there’s something else in your life you feel you’re lacking. What one thing, if it were to materialize tomorrow, would make you feel complete, joyful, like you’d arrived at peace? See if you can identify it as a concept word like money, fitness, success, love . . . .
Now whatever it is, I want you to acknowledge that there is some of this thing in your life. If you want to be thinner, or more fit, or more healthy, you can probably acknowledge that you possess some degree of health in this moment, right? There are people who have less health than you have. If love is what you’re lacking, I want to congratulate you for loving yourself enough to read this post. You do have some love in your life.
Point is: I guarantee you that there are multiple people in this universe walking around right now with half of whatever you have in this area of lack that you identified. Half your money, half your health, half your love.
So you can see that there’s something you can appreciate about this specific area of your life. Not necessarily be thankful about it – not if it hurts – but you can appreciate it, right?
Well, guess what. Appreciation has a causative effect on growth. What you appreciate grows. Even in the financial world, this is the word they use! In the bank, if your money is “appreciating,” what is it doing? It’s growing. You’re getting more of it.
It’s okay to want more of this thing. But only, only, only from the space of appreciation. If you didn’t appreciate it, you wouldn’t want it to begin with! Why do you even want more money? Because you have some money, and you appreciate what you’re able to do with it! If you lived on Krypton and you’d never heard of money, you wouldn’t want it. I want you to internalize this right now. This is an opportunity to make an energetic shift that can have freakin’ miraculous repercussions for you!
If you want from a space of lack, you’ll never manifest jack. Wanting needs to be exciting! Fun! That’s where the creative energy is. In Juicy Joy Training, we wiggle our hips when we say the word “want.” We have a gleam in our eyes.
Wanting a thing = loving it. You can’t know you love it unless you have — or have had — some degree of it. Ergo: Wanting = Having and Loving! Wanting = Having and Loving!
When you get really immersed in the appreciation of having the thing you want, you’ll be dialed into the right frequency to allow more of that thing to flow toward you. That’s the zone of effortless creativity. Appreciation is a form of love, so whatever it is you want more of, the secret to getting it is to deliberately focus your attention on your genuine love for this thing!
There’s a Kafka quote I adore: “By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.” So desires are good! Necessary! They just have to come from love, not lack.
I wish you happy fulfillment of all of your desires. I’m appreciating you this holiday season.continue reading
It’s my birthday, and this is what my calendar screams at me each Sept 2: “Hey, Dummy! Your precious, beautiful life is happening! What the frig are you doing with it?” In recent years, I’ve always had a saucy, self-lovin’ retort ready. After all, joy, authenticity, and self-love are my gig. I’ve got to walk my talk. Model my wares.
But today I find myself at a loss to respond. It’s been so much limbo. I’d planned for this year to bring enormous shifts – professionally and personally – and it’s turned out to be something quite different. A year of dipping my toe into stream after stream, never jumping in. A rudderless year of perpetual anticipation.
It’s like I’m on an island, and all my end-goals are on another island. I start building a bridge to take me over there, and then that bridge doesn’t feel exactly right. So I abandon it and start building another one. But then I get the idea for a third bridge, so I start building that one instead. What do I have to show for this year? A kickass collection of half-built bridges. And I still haven’t touched that destination island. (Thanks, Gia, for inspiring the bridge metaphor.)
But has it been a bad year? Not in the least. I’m beyond blessed to have the phenomenal friends, family, and opportunities I have. I wake up profoundly, through-the-roof grateful every single day. And maybe that’s all I need to do right now – just keep being full-force grateful for the mountains of love I’m in the position to give and receive, even as I struggle with career crossroads, a dying mom, and all the personal mini-escapades that cause my life to feel like someone’s pushed the cosmic pause-button on it.
I trust that Universe is behind all of this. I trust that the pause-button has its divinely perfect purpose in the grand scheme of what I’m here to do. I know that if I just keep waking up each day sincerely asking Source how I can most passionately and effectively deliver the gifts I’m here to give, that eventually the play-button will get pushed again. And from that inevitable future perspective, I’ll look back and see, with chuckle-inducing clarity, how everything – including all my half-built bridges – has been a necessary stepping-stone toward that exquisitely sweet moment.
In some ways then, the cycle will probably start all over again. As it should. But in answer to my calendar’s impertinent question about what I’m doing with my precious, beautiful life . . . this time I have to respond, “I’m being it. That’s all.”continue reading