To be seen, the moon needs the sun

I'm writing this love note to you under the full moon in Sagittarius, just a few days shy of the summer solstice -- ooo, such a potent time! The summer solstice is to the seasonal cycle what the full moon is to the lunar cycle, and we're sitting in BOTH in this moment. The current energy is expansive, bright, outward, fiery, fulfilled, and visible in full radiance -- the polar opposite of my winter solstice birthday. Perhaps my being a winter solstice baby has me leaning more toward the inward, the mystery, and the unseen. This week is the flipside of what I was born into, and for me it feels healing right now to bask in the full moon reflecting the strong midsummer sun. (We wouldn't see her face otherwise. ☀️🌕 )

In all this celestial brightness, I had a very recent experience in realizing how I am seen through the caring reflection of others. Not unlike these heavenly bodies, we often need one another to adequately see ourselves. I want to share the experience with you, as I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this. Large groups are challenging for me, so this summer I'm pushing that growing edge in myself by assisting in a 4-month group ceremony that I underwent 2 summers ago. When in groups, I can clearly see the offerings of others, and I compare my contributions as more diffuse, thus less valuable. While holding space for these new participants, I am noticing that what I offer in the group looks different than what others offer -- and instead of making that wrong, I'm recognizing the rightness of it. 

After our first group weekend, my mentors and colleagues mirrored back to me how they saw my unique medicine come alive in the group space. The gift of their reflection is allowing me to shatter some very old self-judgments. My inner critic gets loud about how I show up in groups. She wags her finger, saying I'm too quiet at first, too awkward and fumbly when I do come forward, too small and too passive. Hearing from peers allowed me to shift my disapproval to a more honoring, accepting place about what is actually happening. Being the winter witch that I am, my soul generally rests in the darker places, on the edge of my village, on the edge of a group. A highly-sensitive empath, I see and feel into what is happening from this place. I shift into a slightly altered state as I energetically tend to what is needed in a group. I seep into the cracks, shoring them up, like the liquid gold in kintsugi pottery. I form connections and create offerings quietly, privately, behind the scenes. 

I've been hard on myself for this before, worried that I was supposed to have just the right verbal responses formed or just the right concrete offering ready at the tip of my tongue and my fingers. Some people do that so elegantly, but that's not my flavor of medicine. I need to hang in my liminal open perceptive space, stir my cauldron patiently, and offer my colorful magic once it is fully brewed. I'm learning that not only is this necessary, but is often the way various types of medicine people (witches, shaman, sorceresses) behave in community. I'm beginning to welcome my own way of being. The energy we emit simply by unapologetically walking in our truths has the power to invite others to fully be their authentic selves, while creating connection in the process. And that really is the crux of what I desire to radiate and experience in this world. 

In the spirit of this bright and awakened time of year, I am shining light into this dark place to honor and more fully step into my way of being. Which of your shadows are you being expressly called to illuminate this week? 

Can shame be surgically removed?

I unexpectedly lost an organ last week, and I can already feel that it's a major turning point for me. First, let's rewind to a time before the surgery, to a moment almost two weeks ago when I was sitting in a somatic coaching session, discussing areas in my life where I still feel shame holding me back from being the fullest expression of myself in relationships. I have come to understand shame as not accepting part of who we are, whereas I understand guilt as not accepting something we have done -- both leave us believing we are not worthy of connection. 

Despite my efforts these past several years to live a more unapologetic, authentic, connected, and self-accepting life, there are certainly still places, generally tied to very old childhood conditioning, where I hold onto shame. This shame, at times, has me feeling like my insides and outsides are incongruent, as we often hide away shameful parts of ourselves in order to be accepted or loved. Incongruence is painful to me, being one who dedicates myself to radical truth telling in service of feeling congruent, transparent, and fully expressed. So I'm in this process of overturning every stone, in order to reveal myself... ultimately to myself. 

While explaining this to my coach a couple weeks ago, I felt the meta-shame of what she must think of hearing my honesty, which, of course, made for a rich and wonderful present-moment healing opportunity. In the session, I tuned closely into how my body was experiencing this. (Damn, I love Hakomi.) Immediately I felt a strong wave of nausea, like a heavy, murky discomfort in my gut. I felt disempowered and small. My chakra-nerd self connected that the gut is the 3rd chakra, our solar plexus, corresponding to our digestive organs and how we not only process our food, but also how we process emotional content. The third chakra (manipura) houses our personal power, will, and self-esteem. The shadow of this chakra is --guess what-- shame. (Wanna learn more about the psychology of chakras? Check out this book, which I used for my master's research back in the day. It's so enlightening!)

Following that session, each time I dove into processing this shame via journaling, art, meditating, or talking with others, I'd sense that same familiar wave of nausea. Two mornings later, hours before the full moon, I woke up with an unbearable stomach ache. I went to the ER, and within hours, I was having my acutely inflamed appendix removed, to catch it before it burst. Sure, there are medical reasons for having an emergency appendectomy, AND the psychosomatics of such an ailment can be profoundly meaningful, and full moons are for letting go and releasing that which no longer serves us. I'm still very much in the early stages of mining this incident for its lessons and gems.

While I realize that removing an organ is not a shortcut to doing the heavy-lifting of overcoming shame, this experience highlighted for me the importance of not holding onto imposed values, cultural norms, and belief systems that keep my adult self feeling stifled and unexpressed. Being in an emergency scenario like this also brings up the urgency of living life RIGHT NOW the way I want to be living it. It helped me to hone in on what and who I want to spend time with, and helps to clarify and cull that which is not worth pouring my energy into. Gosh, that sort of detox sounds like it'd be clarifying, but honestly, the letting go has also been difficult and disappointing in some ways. I'll also be cleansing from the anesthesia and other weird meds for a while and working through healing the trauma my body remembers from this experience. Ultimately, I am feeling grateful and have a renewed focus on what truly matters. This solidified my commitment to truth-telling and making my fierce vulnerability visible, for the sake of my health, if nothing else.

(This procedure also caused me to recite the children's book Madeline for over a week! The image above is by Ludwig Bemelmans, Madeline's author and illustrator.)

The awkward balancing act of being seen

This spring, I've been practicing being more visible, and it's certainly a practice. As I've been writing these posts, creating my Revelation program (now in full swing!), and dabbling in radical truth-telling in #the100dayproject on Instagram, I'm putting myself out there more in an expansive way than I have in years -- much like the flowers unfolding all over my yard, showing their colorful faces to the sun. Then last week after a couple 76° sunny days in Boulder, it freakin' snowed! Just then, like the petals, I closed up in a major pulling back of my energy - a contraction. I just wanted to hide under my covers with my sweet cat and not make eye contact with anyone but her. We humans are tidal, lunar, seasonal, cyclical. It's natural to experience a state of withdrawal after a period of engagement -- like the sea, the moon, and every living thing. I'm generally not a subscriber to the ideas of "good" and "bad" (nor am I a fan of dualism in general;) however, I'm watching how I internally judge myself more for having the (bad) contracted feelings, and I crave the rush that (good) expansive energy can bring. But eff that noise - it's all part of the human experience!

Visibility is tricky because, like most things that can cause us to shed inhibitions, it comes with hangovers. For me, there are two flavors of a visibility hangover: the overshare hangover and the undershare hangover. 

  1. When I've put myself out there quite a bit, perhaps in a new context or stretched a wee beyond my comfort zone, afterwards I tend to tighten into what I call an overshare hangover, like I described above. It feels like, "Oh shit, I said [did, was] too much!"  [Enter the weighted blanket + bed + cat healing balm.]

  2. The flipside might feel more subtle to many of us, especially if we live it so consistently that we just see it as the color of life: the undershare hangover, or when you're not allowing parts of yourself to be visible that so want to be seen. You may be able to taste it when giving a first impression to new people, then coming away from the situation should-ing on yourself. Like "OMG, I didn't even show who I am! I should have said..." In other words, it's the feeling of I'm not enough. This is the deep longing we all have to be seen and heard in our full authenticity. 

And damn, between these two, I sometimes I feel like Goldilocks - trying to get my self-expression juuuust right - or at least in a place where I feel congruent and satisfied, both appropriately boundaried and adequately revealed. Where there is a centerless, rounded, non-dual flow. 

Visibility is this week's theme in my online program, Revelation. The participants and I will explore why we long to be fully seen, and why we simultaneously build barriers to hide behind. (If you didn't join us in Revelation this round, stay tuned here to hear about the next time it's offered!) 

Does any of this resonate for you? Which hangover do you feel most often? What's your visibility hangover remedy? Hair of the dog? Rest? What works for you? I'd SO love to hear your thoughts. Truly, drop me a note -- I'm listening. 

All is being unearthed

I've been looking around my yard, watching Momma Earth do her springtime dance. I can see how fresh bits of life force are puuuushing through the surface, making themselves visible. They've been underground in fertile darkness -- patiently waiting, absolutely quaking, and ready to burst forth into the light. Just like that. So natural and unapologetic. They know it's time. (You know it, too.) This is also the dance of Revelation.

In Revelation, my online program (beginning in just 8 days,) we will join in this unearthing and revealing. We will get in touch with what of our truths have been wildly trembling underground, and are now being unmistakably called into being seen, heard, and celebrated. 

Sure, an enticing concept. AND, I get that you may still be wondering about the concrete, like: "What exactly is going to happen in this Revelation program thingie?" 

Here's what: For six Wednesdays beginning May 1, you'll receive a delicious packet in your email containing an audio or video message from me on a truth-telling theme of the week --- themes such as your relationship to being visible, your vulnerability as your superpower, embracing the unknown, and meeting your inner muse. There'll be weekly creative, experiential, playful invitations curated just for you to dive more deeply into exploring through art, movement, writing, ritual, etc. In your own time and pace, alongside fellow sojourners in this terrain of radical truth. We'll share within the private course forum, as well as meet on three live calls you can attend (or receive the recording if you can't make those, no biggie.) 

You will come away from Revelation able to own the value of who you already are, with keys to feeling more fully expressed, with access to making more genuine connections, with recognition of your unique medicine/gifts in the world, and having more freedom from antiquated ways of being that just do not fit any longer - not for you and not for the emergent collective. 

Watch me unfold

Can you feel the springtime energy abound? Even though it's still hoodie-required chilly here in Boulder, the whoosh of rebirth, refresh, and renewal are evident in my system, and I am witnessing it in those around me. It shouldn't surprise me by now how in sync we are with the cycles of the earth, but in some ways, I've had a long personal winter. I'm SO ready to unfold... thus the subject line of this email is the ear worm in my head right now: Unfold by Alina Baraz

As I talked about in previous posts, I've been in a hibernation of sorts for a couple years, cocooning up, listening internally while undergoing a metamorphosis. In a recent reading with my favorite astrologer, I learned that I'm coming out of a new moon phase in regards to my vocation -- the dark, new moon being the lunar cycle's equivalent to winter. And now, with an elegant eyelash of a waxing moon visible on my progressed chart, I'm astrologically moving into springtime. I am being invited to create from this fertile, rich soil of mystery and experiment in leading, inspiring, teaching, and writing -- urged to bring my playful, fiery, witchy, sensual, risky, artistic, psychospiritual, edgy, embodied life force --my full Eros-- forth into my career. Eros refers to our erotic nature, our primal passion, our vitality. It's what turns us on and brings us pleasure. I've had an opportunity to allocate mine into my interpersonal relationships during these couple years when I've not been seeing clients. Now, I finally feel an unmistakable call to pour a portion of this lush well of sacred yumminess into how I serve and express through my work in the world.

In this new chapter, the form my offerings takes will not be created by top-down, linear 'should's and patriarchal rules -- rather the form is guided by pushing the emergent edge of the wild, feminine mystery... the idea that formlessness is okay, experimentation is encouraged, shapeshifting is natural, and sharing our unpolished humanness not only makes us more accessible, but it's also deliciously magnetic. These are the conversations for which I want to provide a forum to have with YOU. I'm beginning to create just that. Stay tuned to my offerings.