EmmaJoy2014I do not know whether to cry uncontrollably or celebrate wildly, Emma. Perhaps both.

Both…and then some.

Nearly undone at the thought that you are only months away from leaving my home and beginning to craft your own; that you are leaving the predictability of (and frustrations inherent within) the public school system and diving into the newness and expansiveness of college; that from this point forward you will be gone more than you will be here; that I am a place/person to which you will return from time-to-time, but with whom you no longer “stay. So incredibly grateful that every bit of this is true.

I can hardly wait for you to rely on an ever-strengthening identity apart from mine. I can hardly wait to hang your senior picture on my wall. I can hardly wait to see you don cap and gown – just months away – and walk across that stage; a graduate. I can hardly wait for you to get to college, finally meet your peers, be engaged by curriculum and content you love, and be challenged in ways you can’t yet begin to imagine. I can hardly wait for you to come back – yes, only for visits – full of stories to tell. I can hardly wait for all that our relationship will yet be when I am less a day-to-day mom, more a here-when-you-call-me source of support and love.

No matter what, whether crying or celebrating, here’s what’s true: you can no more be separated from me than when still in utero. I feel your heartbeat just as I did 18 years ago. I see the signs of your movement and growth just as I did 18 years ago. I imagine your every discovery, your every learning, your every milestone just as I did 18 years ago. And I can hardly hold on to my heart as I look at you – grown, gorgeous, wise, kind, witty, talented, generous, compassionate, and full of love – just as I did the first time I held you, 18 years ago this day.

That day doesn’t feel all that long ago – when they first put you in my arms; when I wept and wept and wept in joy that you were finally here – whole, safe, strong; when I couldn’t quite believe my good fortune, my luck, my answered prayers that you were mine; when I stared at you for hours upon hours as you slept, pinching myself with the truth of your breath, your presence, your beauty.

This day, I still weep with joy that you are here; that my good fortune, luck, and prayers have been answered more times than I can possibly count; that your breath, your presence, beauty are more stunning and powerful and miraculous than ever before.

But far more now then ever before, I look at you with wonder: for every moment I’ve had the privilege of witnessing: each step you’ve taken, fall you’ve known, heartbreak you’ve lived through, problem you’ve solved, question you’ve asked, tear you’ve shed, song you’ve sung, argument you’ve had, belief you’ve challenged, insecurity you’ve risen above, hope you’ve held to, risk you’ve taken, day you’ve lived. You are a wonder.

Happy birthday, Emma Joy. May this day (like the one that can’t possibly have been 18 years ago) be yet another birth – no less miraculous or profound – into all the life and life and life that awaits you.

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    Listen to my voice – my heart. The audio version. Click here.

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    CreativeCommons via Unsplash.com“In this moment, everything is sacred.”
    ~ Ariel Books

    Oh, how we long to accede to this intellectually, but far more, to know it, to believe it, to live it – emotionally, relationally, intimately, viscerally, really.

    We spend an inordinate amount of time trying to incorporate the sacred into our day-to-day lives in ever-increasing, palpable, felt ways; to figure out how to sense and know Its presence. And though such efforts are wise,  grounding, and strengthening, here’s the thing: we don’t have to look for, search for, or beseech the sacred into our midst. Nothing is required – not our attention, our awareness, or even our acceptance. No faithfulness needed. No obedience demanded. No demonstration of particular behaviors or beliefs as proof that we’re deserving.

    The sacred does not depend upon you.

    *
    This 
    is grace, to be sure: to realize, allow, and walk through every single aspect of your day completely soaked in the stuff, breathing in sacredness no matter what. It is just.that.simple.

    Repeat after me:

    In this moment, everything is sacred.
    In this moment, everything is sacred.
    In this moment, everything is sacred.
    In this moment, everything is sacred.
    In this moment, everything is sacred.

    *
    May it be so. (Oh wait! It already is!!!)

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    You and me. Together. It's time. Despite what I’ve written above, all of us struggle to recognize and rest in all that is sacred in our lives. It is this, and so much more that I love to talk about in SacredConversations – my one-on-one client relationships with women. I believe that when your story is listened to well, when just the right questions are asked, when kind and rich dialogue ensues, profound truths are revealed. The sacred: present, accounted for, and flourishing in your life, your relationships, your inner world, and even your work. I’d be honored to walk alongside you. Learn more.

    Working with Ronna as my guide has been like swimming down into the dark ocean of my unconscious with a skilled and fearless diving instructor. One who’s not afraid to confront the sea monsters. She stands unflinchingly as the conduit. Ronna’s wisdom has been incredibly precious to me. Her advice rings in my heart for days and days after we talk. I truly can’t imagine a more compassionate and brilliant Priestess of the Female Spirit. ~ Christi Koelker, the brilliance behind The Magic Remedy

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      Exodus - Parting the Red SeaWhile at the movie theater last night, I sat enthralled through the trailer for Exodus: Gods and Kings. Out this December, it’s the story of Moses and Ramses. Two brothers. A burning bush. Plagues of locusts and frogs. Waters turned to blood. The Red Sea parted. An epic battle.

      Christian Bale aside, I love these kind of films, these kind of stories. There’s something about good triumphing over evil, about grand-sweeping drama, about the vastness and passion that captivates me.

      And I am easily captivated. We all are.

      We long to be swept up in a story that is marvelous and beautiful and powerful, one that eliminates the humdrum, the day-in-day-out hassles, the harm.

      *
      This desire speaks to something inherently good within us. It’s hardly some delirious fantasy. It’s a glimpse into what we know to be true, into who we know ourselves to truly be. If only we could get there…

      What holds us back? Why do we only peer at this life through a fog. Why does it remain just out of reach? Why do we struggle and settle and stay put? You already know. To live in an epic tale, to usher in the very gods, we have to give up the smaller one(s).

      “When half-gods go, the gods arrive.”

      *
      So said Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was right. This is exactly what captivates us and what it costs.

      We have to let the half-gods go. Easier said than done.

      I’ll speak only for myself. My half-god list is long: those things to which I pay attention and by whom, if I give enough allegiance, I am convinced will eventually reward me.

      • Codependent behavior: if I try hard enough you will change.
      • Idealistic body image: if only I could get my act together with this last __ pounds then surely the rest of my life would fall into place.
      • Entitled success: actually believing that I deserve more, better, every and any thing I want.
      • Platform: if I just accrue enough social media clout, develop perfect marketing language, create impossible-to-resist product offerings, and procure a waiting list of clients then surely Oprah’s Super-Soul-Sunday rep will call.
      • Someday my prince will come: surely he will ride in, white horse and all, looking like Christian Bale, and sweeping me away to the life that I long for and deserve (see “Entitled success” above).

      Illusions. Not healthy or helpful. Not even remotely representative of the Divine. In fact, though feverishly wooing me with their empty promises, they offer just the opposite. Truth-be-told, they offer nothing; they only take. And when I bow to their demands I feel smaller, inadequate, broken somehow, and just not quite up to snuff – ever. Hardly created in the image of the gods. No, these feelings, experiences and beliefs are the insipid work of the half-gods.

      As compared to the god(s). Chariots blazing. Heavens opening. Angelic choirs singing. Zeus himself making way. Epiphany. Inspiration. Truth-telling. Awe. Power. Beauty.

      • The god(s) that remind me I am enough; that I can take care of my own business and let you take care of yours.
      • The god(s) that assure me I am beautiful and worthy of kindness and respect no matter what.
      • The god(s) that do not promise success or a happy ending; rather, presence, constancy, and strength.
      • The god(s) that smile at the idea of Oprah’s Super-Soul-Sunday to be sure, and say, “the only call you need is the one that tells you to keep writing, speaking, creating with integrity and in truth.
      • The god(s) that summon the battle cry; the endless song that heralds my inherent and unshakeable worth in and of myself – Christian Bale, or not.

      These are (this is) the god worthy of honor, respect, reverence, and worship. Mine, to be sure. And yours.

      So don’t settle for the lesser ones, the half-ones. Don’t settle for a less-than story; anything other than epic, full-tilt, all-in. No compromise. No holding back. A grand, sweeping drama. Vast and passionate. Captivating, to be sure. The gods – and goddesses – will surely show up.

      I can already see the waters parting…

      *********************

      Beyond CompareComparing half-gods to the real ones. Comparison, period. It’s a problem. Tanya Geisler and Lauren Bacon are taking it on – in beautiful and brilliant ways through their collaborative offering of Beyond Compare.

      Enter your email to get access to a copy of the Starter Kit + links to all the interviews (including one with me!!!) that have been released to date as well as daily notifications during the remainder of this week (through 10/24) as new interviews are released. More…you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free copy of the full program (a $150 value).

      Why wouldn’t you be doing this?

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        “I‘ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write…. and you know it’s a funny thing about house cleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves

        *
        From Google Images: http://www.domesticcleaningtips.co.uk/must-read-kitchen-cleaning-tips/“Perfect way to stop a woman.” Ouch.

        *
        For me, this is not about the cleaning. It’s about the metaphor: all the things that keep me from doing what I say I most want to do. All the seemingly important tasks that clamor for my attention. All the distractions. More to the point: all the inhibitions and insecurities that crowd and clamor and consume.

        I’m not naive, nor am I an idealist. There are things that need to be done. Responsibilities that beckon. Important work that is required. But for me, those tasks, burdens, and endless lists tend to become excuses, delays, even weirdly-grateful-for hindrances that keep me from the better part.

        There’s an old, old story told of two sisters. One day a renowned Teacher graced their home. One of the sisters sat contentedly at his feet while the other scurried about in the kitchen – managing the critical details of hospitality.

        Eventually the sister in the kitchen complained. “Don’t you care that she has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

        The Teacher said to her: “Dear woman, you are worried about many things. Your sister has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

        **
        Ouch! A few examples of my own stuck-in-the-kitchen reality?

        • I must be losing subscribers because they don’t quite understand me. I should re-tool my “About” page.
        • My social media strategy needs attention, time, and work. Surely, that will help me turn the corner.
        • I need to create some kind of passive revenue stream; something that would be a fail-safe income generator so I can focus on my real writing.
        • Maybe I should craft this blog post in a way that allows everyone to resonate instead of just some. Yes, that seems wise.

        This is only the tip of my iceberg. Each of these – and so many more – keep me “in the kitchen” and busy with details that matter on some level, to be sure, but that deflect me from my true desire, true calling, the better part. I grouse about the way things seem to be for everyone else. And I justify lack of movement, avoidance of risk, aversion to exposure, uncertainty, insecurity, and fear. How convenient. How neat and tidy.

        The better part. What is that exactly?

        • Doing the hard(er) work of putting myself out there, others’ opinions (and my own self-critic’s) silenced.
        • Trusting that I actually know.
        • Not giving one more thought to “perfect clients” or platform or market share or SEO-optimization.
        • Letting people in, no matter how messy my kitchen, my mind, my heart, my world.
        • Writing, saying, being in ways that might probably go against the grain, but that feel so true, so right, so real, so me.

        The better part, the better choice, the only choice, really, is to allow for and invite the messiness, the risk, the passion, the unbridled creativity, the unrestrained voice, the rampant imperfection.

        *
        The better part
        is to listen to wisdom within and without. To stop fussing and laboring and yes, cleaning. To come out of the kitchen and sit, stand, and stay in places of meaning and beauty.

        The better part is to not be stopped at all, ever, by anything.

        Perfect!

        *

        [Deep appreciation to Martha and her story for connecting me to my own. Just one of the ancient, sacred narratives I so need and so love.]

        *

        BlessingsThe story that inspired this post is but one of the many stories I love, but one of the many women of and for whom I speak through the Blessings I offer each week to those who are subscribed. I tell of them in even more detail in the private Blessings Facebook Group. There, alongside an ever-growing and beautiful community of women, I look at these stories more deeply, these Blessings more deeply, and the blessing inherent in our own story most deeply of all. Subscribe, then join me/us! It’s all free: the Blessings, the group, the wisdom, the beauty. Gifts from me to you.

        If you resonate even the least little bit with my quick reference above to comparison – seeing/perceiving others’ lives as better, easier than your own – then run-don’t-walk to the newest offering from Tanya Geisler and Lauren Bacon: Beyond Compare. It is profound, generous, wise, and a must…I cannot say enough good things about it. Really. 

        Listen to the audio version of this post by clicking here.

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          Doorknob as seen on Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/36310340718248752/)Same thoughts. Same frustrations. Same choices. Different day.

          To open the door, or not…

          *
          Your hand trembles on the knob, uncertain, not ready, afraid.

          No. Not yet. Step back. Stay safe.

          *
          But you don’t want to be safe, do you? Not really. You want to fling the door wide and dance through its frame. You want to write poetry and paint wildly and speak prophetically. You want to move through your world with the freedom and abandon of a young girl – dandelions in her hair, trees bowing down to her in worship, grass the grandest of blankets, blue skies that surround in song.

          Tell me why you stay inside? Remind me?

          *
          Listen. You already know this. Nothing that you want, desire, or deserve remains on this side of the threshold. You’ve given it every chance. You’ve been patient. You’ve been gracious. You’ve stayed seated. You’ve been silent.

          You know this, as well. Until you step over the threshold and turn your back on the familiar, the entrenched, and yes, all that seems safe, you won’t be able to taste the wildness that awaits.

          You don’t know what will happen (which, of course, is why you have continued to stay inside). You don’t need to. Turn the knob, open the door, breathe in the brisk, fresh air, and move. Don’t look back. Be impatient. Choose yourself. Stay standing. And start speaking, shouting, yelling, singing.

          Who cares what the neighbors think? You’ll be free.

          *
          Will you stumble and fall from time to time? Probably. Will you know grief? It’s a given. Will people sometimes often misunderstand you? Mmm hmm. But will you be alive? Yes.

          How about this? I’ll stand on the other side and just keep knocking. Eventually, you’ll get so tired of not accepting the invitation that is so clearly yours that you’ll open the door anyway. And there, waiting as I’ve always been, I’ll grab your hand and pull you into the world, the beauty, the life that awaits you.

          *
          [Deep appreciation to Jepthah's Daughter and her story for connecting me to my own. Just one of the ancient, sacred narratives I so need and so love.]
          *

          BlessingsThe story that inspired this post is the one whose voice and heart is heard in this week’s Blessing. And it’s the story we’re looking at in the private Blessings Facebook Group – a beautiful community of women with whom I explore these stories more deeply, these Blessings more deeply, the blessing in our own story most deeply of all. Subscribe, then join us! It’s completely free – a gift from me to you. 

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