Wednesday, January 18, 2017

You Are Already Rich and Blessed

If you're reading this, it's likely that you own some sort of electronic device- a computer, a smartphone. It's also likely that you have a home to live in with functional electrical outlets that allow you to charge those devices, light switches to flip to illuminate the darkness, clean water that flows endless into cups, bathtubs, tea kettles.

These things are such an easy, natural part of life in many places that we tend to think of them as a given. We know that there are places in the world, sometimes very nearby, where people do not live with such ease. They don't know where their next meal will come from, or have a safe home or clean water. For a moment we may be #grateful for what we have, conscious of the grace that holds our lives together. Following hot on the heels of gratitude, though, is the ever-creeping, gaping gnaw of awareness of What's Not. We push aside our blessings and look only at what we don't have, what we have not achieved.

Dissatisfaction is a powerful creative force. It has inspired incredible innovation and progress in science, art, technology and human rights. There are some things that we should certainly not accept. But what if we are also refusing to accept a deep sense of comfort having our basic needs easily met? How much joy are we missing out on by refusing to acknowledge and celebrate What Is already?

This quote from Jack Gilbert is a favorite of mine that speaks to this:
"We must risk delight! We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world."
Lately it has been effortless for me to feel held and nurtured by the simple things that come easily. I'm living
on three acres of verdant Hawaiian jungle overlooking the Pacific. Everyday we pick and eat what the land has grown; avocados and mac nuts, very free range eggs, lilikoi, pomelos, tangerines, bananas and papayas. We make juice and marmalade and bread. We churn our own ice cream. We Ooh and Ahh over one gorgeous sunset after another. We hike down to the bay and swim with dolphins. It is what some might call "an embarrassment of riches." There is such an abundance of goodness that we literally can't consume it all (seriously, we have hundreds of pounds of citrus).

Yes, it is easy for me to sit here in the outdoor kitchen with a nice breeze and feel calm, nourished, content. All my needs are met. The coffee is strong. The avocado toast is daily. There is good yoga nearby. Wintertime and the living is easy. There is very little struggle and there are no bad days.

This is not like life in other times and spaces, I know. I usually live in New York, where we wear our struggle like a badge of honor. We may bitch and moan about the subway or the weather, but at the end of the day we are so proud to be able to make it there. We are strong, savvy and ambitious. We strive for the next greatest thing.

The world is so loud, busy and competitive that it's possible to overlook What Is and focus only on What's Not. What I've discovered, though, is that this leads to a perpetual mental state of Lack. What I have, who I am and what I do are never enough. Striving leads to strain. I feel anxious, unhappy, unsupported.

However, this isn't my reality. Even in "normal life" in New York, there are still things big and small that go right everyday. I am supported in ways that I may never know by people I will likely never meet. I don't have an unlimited free supply of tangerines and avocados, but I can buy them at Whole Foods and that's okay, too. It's not as effortless, but New York has perks that this rural jungle town does not, like functional public transit and sushi delivery.

Every time and space has its drawbacks, but there are also gift and opportunity on offer in every moment. I remain present to this by keeping a daily record of gratitude. It's a running list of everything fun, joyful and pleasurable that happens in my life that I find useful to reference. When times are lean, I am reminded how rich and blessed I already am. When times are lush, it serves to stack my joy exponentially. I smile and giggle at my rabid fondness for Mexican food, long walks, dogs and travel. I recall these moments of delight that I would otherwise forget and my life is made better for it in ways I can't full describe. It's a deeply nourishing, enriching practice that I highly recommend.

Let's start right now. Take a moment to write out (by hand, on works better that way) at least three things for which you are grateful. You can start with the "givens" if you like, then expand out to other areas.

But maybe you stop at the basic and obvious. Maybe you walk into the kitchen, pour yourself a glass of clean water and savor it. Maybe, for a moment, you feel totally supported and cared for by the ease with which you are able to access something so vital.

Never be satisfied with intolerable conditions. Fight oppression in all its forms. Fight for the rise of all bodies. But also be comforted and delighted by everything that is basic and easy.

What you have and who you are are already enough.

May your 2017 continue to be blessed abundantly!


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Lines of Credit and Debt Collection

He wasn't supposed to be there. He was supposed to be in India, but his visa was denied, and so there we were in a bar in Bangkok listening to Beatles covers. So much hurt had come up between us, but the last time we'd connected it was sweet, life-giving, even. How wonderfully weird and novel to see him half a world away from our homes.

The music was loud and he sat close, telling me stories and catching up. His friend suggested that we all go play pool. My friends were tired and wanted to go back to the hotel. They got in a tuk tuk. I would catch up with them later. Just as they were out of sight, he turned to me and asked, suddenly so irritated, why I hadn't left with them? I should've left with them. But wait...what? Aware of my unresolved feelings for him but still entirely guileless, I stammered that I thought we were going to play pool...? We were not, he said, as if all this was obvious and I was that willfully obtuse. We are fighting on the street of a foreign city half a world away from our homes. I am alone in a tuk tuk, sobbing, embarrassed and confused.

A month or so passes before I reach out to him. I am in Cambodia and have decided to forgive everyone of everything ever. I know him better than this. He is not cruel. He would not gaslight me. Surely, surely, something else must've happened. I reach out with equanimity, grace, love. I extend a line of credit to an account that is already severely overdrawn. I get no response.

Weeks later I am on Bali. It is Nyepi, the new year, a day of silent prayer, meditation, atonement. Again I reach out. I apologize for anything I might've done wrong. 

Weeks later, I am back in the states and apologize again, this time remind him that we have mutual friends, we will see each other again. We have to work this out. 

It will be months until I see him, and only because those friends are in town. 
It will be months until I see him, and hear whispers about his relationship with cocaine. 
It will be months until I see him, and finally understand his behavior in context.

But I will still reach out, twice more. Once, I offer my friendship for healthy things, for walks with my dog and meditation class. Once, I check to see if, perhaps, we're ready for some heart mending. I will get no response. He does not want to mend.
In 2013, I began developing a relationship principle that one might use to assess the relative health of their relating. Are you and the person you're in relationship with both willing contributors to the relating? Do you both, more often than not, make more deposits into than withdrawals from your joint emotional back account? Are you both, more often than not, able to meet each other's normal, human need for healthy attachment
Yes? Super! No? Ruhoh...

Had I followed my own principle, I would have long ago cut off the guy in the story. He had, on more than one occasion, actually told me that "All I can offer you is tonight." Come ooonnnnn. Seriously? Let's tune into some Maya Angelou real talk: 

"When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." 

He literally told me that he was not a sound investment for anything but the short term, and I offered him high value, long term loans. I extended him one line of credit after another, hoping that he would experience a radical shift and show up at the Bank of My Heart with deposits enough to fill our account, cover overdraft fees, shore it all up. I hounded him for awhile, full of righteous anger about what I was owed. I tried to collect on the debt. 

As Sallie Mae will eventually have to do for the whole Millennial generation, I will have to write this debt off as a loss. He does not want to mend. If he ever did, I'd be happy to do that work with him, but I have to assume that he will never make this right. He will never humble himself on the altar of I'm Sorry for leaving me alone on the street in Bangkok. I have nothing left to give; no apologies or equanimity or righteous demands, and certainly no credit.

I am not a debt collector. 
I am an artist. 
I am here to create more beauty.
I am here to tell the truth.

Stop extending lines of credit to accounts that are already overdrawn.
Find a better place to invest your love.
It's precious.
And so are you.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Finding Some Fucks To Give: A Primer on Empathy

This piece began a while ago when some white folks hit Twitter to complain that the Netflix production of Luke Cage is racist because it doesn't feature enough white people for their liking. Never mind that entertainment has all but ignored people of color, going so far as to utilize white actors to represent characters meant to be people of color (I'm looking at you...Ghost in the Shell/Aloha/Doctor Strange/Gods of Egypt/Argo/etc etc etc). Luke Cage is a story about a black hero rising up out of a black community. Harlem is gentrifying, but it's still a black neighborhood. When I lived in Harlem, I was the only white person I ever saw on my block. Luke Cage accurately represents the Harlem I know.

This critical response, and so much of what is happening right now, highlights the need for us to pay respectful attention to stories that are unlike our own, of which we have no part. If one is open, you can learn from these stories and enjoy the wider perspective that they may afford you. After all, it is impossible to take in everything that this life has to offer. Engaging with other people's experiences gives us the opportunity to understand something outside our personal universe. This is a form of empathy and an expression of humility. I will never know what it's like to live in another body, and to be born in another time and place, but I can take interest in other people's narratives. I can learn.

On the flip side are those who must constantly have everything around them mirror and affirm their existence. Their identity is wrapped up in being the center of the dominant narrative. They are the leads. They are the heroes. Anything presented outside of that storyline feels like a threat. They have been in full possession of the limelight for always, and are unwilling to give even an inch so that someone else's story may be brought forth. They don't care if this dominance means the erasure of other worthy stories from the pages of history. Their personal experience is Universal Truth. Anything outside of this is Unknown Other, and Other is always wrong. Unknown is terrifying, and fear is alchemized into anger.

This anger is sometimes, horrifically, alchemized into violent action. Marginalized groups have always faced threats to their well being, but those threats are reaching a new fever pitch. As was the case before, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there are some who continue to insist that everything is fine. They say we live in a post racial society, they site black on black crime rates and statistics about false rape accusations. They shriek that #ALLLIVESMATTER, ask others to "Give him a chance!" and call others sore losers for protesting the rise to power of a dangerous demagogue. Some well meaning folks plead with everyone to "OMG just like love everyone! Like don't hate you guys!!! Keep it positive!!!!!" all the while continuing to ignore the voices of those whom are in real, actual danger...still.

Absolutely nothing is accomplished by hiding your head in the sand and refusing to humble yourself before real life experiences which you don't share or understand. This may overwhelm you. You may suddenly find yourself plagued with guilt and the knowing that at best, you've been a silent witness to oppression, and at worst, you've been an active participant. You may be so overwhelmed that instead of asking how you can help and beginning it, you decide to disengage. You cannot face the enormity of this. It's too hard and too scary. It's a confrontation of your identity as a person who is sooo totally not racist. It means owning up to your own biases, your own subtle sense of superiority, all the parts of yourself of which you are not proud. It means facing your own shame, which is a brutal beast. Instead of employing courage for this difficult transformative work, you choose to deflect. "They're being dramatic. Everything is fine." "I'm an optimist. Let's just see what happens."

Meanwhile, black and brown bodies, lady bodies, trans bodies, Muslim bodies, queer bodies continue to be the target of a swell of harassment and aggression. You don't have to believe in any of this for it to be true. You can pretend that it's liberal media hype, but we know different. The bodies of people I know and love have already bore this brutality, before and after the election. We have tried to let you in on this narrative. You couldn't hear it. Hearing it meant being cracked open, changed, pushed to action, and the discomfort was too great.

We must find some fucks to give one another. We must take interest in stories that are completely unlike our own. We must give them space and time, respect and credence. People everywhere are hurting, desperate for change. There is a sickness among us and it is the distancing of ourselves from those unlike us, as if we were made of different materials, as if we all don't just want to live well. People need to able to earn a living to support their families. People need to be able to practice their faith, or love who they love without fear of violence. Not everyone will look like you, or live the same way as you, but they are still worthy of every liberty and protection on offer. There should be no second class citizens here.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a dream that one day soon we will reach out across party lines for the sake of our shared humanity. I have a dream that we will soften and humble ourselves before an unfamiliar story, let it change us, let it be a call to action for the dignity and well being of another. I have a dream that we will unite over an insistence that each body in this country will have the benefit of clean food and water, healthcare, shelter, a good education, and honest work. I have a dream that we will muster the courage to give some fucks about people we may never meet who may be very different from us.

Unanswered needs are still needed. Unattended suffering gnaws away. Those who are desperate remain desperate until something is done to help them. Name calling and blame placing doesn't feed a hungry belly. It's time to get practical. It's time to ask the people what it is they need to thrive and figure out how to make it possible. There is a way through every block. We can do this.

How are you hurting? How can I help?

All bodies rise, together.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Ahh Eww That Lives In You

Over the summer I went out to see some live music. The performer was talented, even a bit over qualified for the small venue in which he played. He had solid showmanship, quipping between songs and telling little stories. Many of his stories centered around women that had done him wrong. While I, too, am guilty of using romance as fodder for writing, I also know this talented performer and his romantic life over a period of years. One night a girlfriend of his did too many drugs and I had to babysit her while she told me her numerous stories about him. Wrong doing is often a two way street. I see you, broseph.

A long time ago my mama taught me something valuable about personal responsibility: If you have similar problems with a variety of people, YOU are the common denominator in every situation. It's not them, darling. It's you.

One particularly heady autumn evening years ago, my friend Rebecca and I met a handsome stranger on the streets of San Francisco. I was immediately attracted to him, and would only later realize that he's a very charming, yes, very handsome, yes, very alcoholic man. They all are. If I had a "type" it would be emotionally stunted and addicted. During one of my stints in therapy, I cried about how incredibly pitiful I feel not being able to trust myself. Even after the depth of heart work I've done, I continue to experience this uncanny ability to find the most beautiful, broken man in the room. Just as recently as a month ago, amidst a big crowd, I zeroed in on a tall drink of architect who is predictably, yes, an alcoholic. The difference this time is that I recognized the red flags and didn't pursue the impulse. Progress!

This is a worthwhile consideration when one desires to change their experience of life. If you are fed up with the way things are, you have to be honest about what part you've played in making them so. There may be factors outside your control, but as the saying goes, we pray for the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. We cannot change the circumstances of our birth, or what happened to us in the past, but we get to decide how we are affected by that going forward. Will we continue to let our wounding color how we see ourselves and the world around us? Or will we do the difficult, courageous work of reshaping our sense of self?

This can be quite the undertaking because the wounds we unearth in the excavation are the source of so much pain, shame, anger, sadness, fear. These are not easy feelings to sit with. Whether we compassionately confront them or not, they continue to live in our bodies; they are fugitives being harbored in between muscle fibers and folds of grey matter. They can continue to influence our behavior from the darkness or not. It's up to us.

You can be an emotionally unavailable man, confused by and fearful of the natural need in others for healthy attachment. When this need arises in a romantic partner, you can slur her as needy or, if you withhold love long enough, crazy. You can ache with loneliness, because despite not understanding *how* to nurture others, you retain the need for nurture. You're only human.

You can spin through a series of unfulfilling, disheartening relationships which serve to reinforce how unworthy you are of love. You can pursue the same archetype of person over and over, unwilling to admit that this is but the tip of the ice burg. Deep beneath the surface lies the origin story of your pain. But who would you be without it? Deconstructing this fundamental piece of your identity is mind melting. You can grasp onto your pain like a piece of broken glass; it will make you bleed but you won't have to suffer the tiny death of change.

You can resign yourself to any manner of cyclical unhappiness, not getting what you need because you secretly can't believe that happiness is *for* you. Because that's what this boils down to, isn't it? Whether we cannot give good love, or have trouble receiving it, it's a question of worthiness. We will be drawn to what is familiar, to what reinforces our version of reality, even if that is hurtful to ourselves or others.

The big jewel in meditation is the cultivation of curiosity and compassion for our more challenging feelings. It took me a long time to get this component. I became adept at acknowledging and naming feelings, even digging to their roots, but I couldn't love them. I could not make them welcome. They remained fugitives in my body which I tried to evict with anger and frustration. There is a lot of wisdom and information attached to our feelings. Anger, fear, sadness and shame all have much to teach us about how we're hurt and how we have to heal. They can strengthen and empower us by helping us learn how to move forward. Conversely, they can drain us if we continue to funnel energy their way in our resistance. What you resist, persists. The way forward will always be softness and surrender.

This begins by recognizing patterns, and understanding that no matter what other elements are present, we're the consistent variable in every situation we enter. If every woman you date is crazy or every man you date is an addict, consider that these are all unique individuals. They may have things in common, but the one and only thing they *all* definitely have in common is you. Let that sink in for a moment.

We are the Captains of our own joy...or not. Without understanding and taking responsibility for what lurks around your heart, you may find that some aspects of life consistently disappoint. Watch for patterns. When charged, powerful feelings arise, don't push away. Make them welcome. Honor their presence by asking what it is they have to teach. They may feel like poison, the instinctual response being to purge them. However, with courage and patience, we slowly dissolve them and find that at the heart of the poison is the antidote for it. This is productive suffering.

Your pain can poison you, or it can heal you and set you free. Love it up so it can love you back.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

I'm Queer, Y'all.

Happy National Coming Out Day!

This will undoubtedly be a surprise to some, seeing as how I've never dated women. It's easy to fly under the radar being femme, and considering that "bi-sexuals" don't get much support from either side, not particularly appealing to make it public. However, it's become very important to make friends with every part of myself. Choosing not to come out is a subtle rejection of the part of me that is gay and always has been. Remaining quiet about this has also continued to afford me hetero privilege which I feel increasingly uncomfortable receiving.

So today in front of the Creator who Loves me as I am, and the Internet, I stand with my community as a proud Queer woman. I love the whole of who I am, and I love the whole of who you are, too.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

All That We Owe is Our Joy

I want to live a life of joy with you.

It's all I can think about these days. It's summer in New York and I live in the cutest, most neighborhoody neighborhood in Brooklyn with the cutest dog and the best flatmate, and beautiful light that daily pours through my high up treehouse windows. I've never been quite this happy or healthy. Suddenly, having sort of unexpectedly arrived here, nothing else matters but continuing to live this well.

I want to live a life of joy with you.

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by my dear friend Lauren Marie Fleming, author and revolutionary in the art of decadence and #bawdylove. She's working on her second season of podcasts and we talked about following our bliss.

A yoga teacher at some point may have told you to Follow Your Bliss, and even if you're not particularly salty or jaded, you may have wondered exactly how one accomplishes this. Where is My Bliss going? Will it leave a trail of breadcrumbs to follow? As with many meant-to-be-inspiring statements issued by yoga teachers with breathy zen, I honestly find this directive nauseating. First, because it doesn't really *mean* anything all on its own. Without substantive discussion, it's grossly trite. Second, because it's too prone to leading people to the misconception that spiritual practice is meant to be a constant state of nirvana. Anyone who's "doing the work" can tell you that that is so often so far from the truth.

The truth is, if you use your spiritual practice to mask, suppress or otherwise ignore your pain, you're partaking in spiritual bypassing. You may have stopped drowning yourself in liquor or snorting cocaine up your nose, but "getting saved" or going to yoga everyday doesn't mean you are somehow magically healed of the wounds that lead you to use in the first place. Modern neuroscience has taught us that we can change and heal our brains, but repatterning our thinking takes time and discipline. Even antidepressants can only take us so far. There is no substitute for sitting still as your let your pain out of the dark and ask it how you can help. It needs room to breathe and if you ignore it, it will rot you from the inside out.

Following Your Bliss may not always feel blissful. It may mean having to cut off people who take life from you, quitting jobs or habits, and leaving behind all manner of comfort and familiarity. Those who have come to know you in a specific way may resist. You may lose quite a bit in the process of following your bliss. It might be very high stakes. Those who feel they cannot follow their own bliss may become jealous and angry as they watch you shine brighter. If they cannot live better, neither can you. Your ascent will only serve to highlight how trapped they feel. In your bliss, you may suddenly feel like a stranger. In our world it seems as though struggle and dissatisfaction are expected, while joy and pleasure are somehow sinful and suspect. We trust our pain but not our joy, I blame the Christian idea that Jesus suffered and so should you. Bollocks. Let's consult the source: Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

But what of those who we leave behind, still slaving in the salt mines of misery? If you have chosen to divest from your suffering, there will be people who cannot go where you're going. It's not because they aren't *allowed* but because they're not yet ready to suffer productively. When it comes to suffering, I'm with the Buddha; I do believe that human life presents inevitable suffering to varying degrees. Much depends on how we choose to respond to the stimuli of life, how much we resist or embrace. When we choose to unburden ourselves of the yoke of slavery, it's not that we don't suffer anymore, it's that we've decided to only suffer in ways which will ultimately lead to more freedom.

For example: it's an uncomfortable exercise to sit with my pain. I have suffered mightily in this excavation and rebuilding of my heart and mind. It's required courage of which I didn't even know I was capable. However, I am now living with the highest degree of joy I can recall. I have suffered, but as a result, I now suffer much less. This work has been productive.

Which is not to say that I'm immune to numbing. I don't drink a lot anymore, largely because I recognize my alcoholic leanings. However, I do scroll the internet in a zombie-like trance, which distances me from my pain, but also doesn't bring me much pleasure. That's the problem with emotional anesthesia; it's not localized. The loss of feeling in one place spreads. I might also achieve this with sex/relationships, shopping, food, or even, yes, seemingly healthy things like yoga and spirituality. Whatever I reach for when I recoil from my pain is symptomatic of and complicit to my avoidance. The path that ultimately leads to the alleviation of my pain is challenging, though, while so many quick fix distractions are easily available and socially acceptable. It's much easier to keep our pain tucked away than it is to address it...until it's not anymore. Everyone has a rock bottom to hit. It's just a matter of when.

When we do make a bid for our freedom (a.k.a. follow our bliss), there will be people who won't be able to come with us. As we do the work to transform our experience of life, the people we left behind may continue to suffer as we once did. Witnessing this may cause a sort of survivor's guilt because you got out. This is especially difficult if they agree with you; in their estimation, you abandoned them. Misery does love company and how dare you leave them to be miserable on their own. Perhaps by now you've learned the secret, though:

Avoidable suffering is slavery, and we are meant to be free.

When you gently, directly address your pain, you begin to cut the miserable chains that bind you. This is right and good. You're not a defecting traitor. You're breaking unhealthy cycles and patterning in order to pioneer a new way of living. Your individual choice radically alters the future. What caused hurt before will not be passed down in you. Your individual choice gives permission to others to do the same. Not everyone will warmly welcome this empowerment. Without their pain, they have no idea who they are. Their pain is a badge of honor, proof of what they've been through. Questions of identity are never not weighty. The resistance to them is understandable.

But you're ready.

You've suffered enough. You've hit your rock bottom, and are ready to break the cycle and claim your freedom. Those who find this confrontational believe that you owe them your continued allegiance in misery. They are mistaken. What the world needs from you is your joy. It is, in fact, all that you owe anyone. This following of your bliss will perhaps not always feel blissful, but it is the productive sort of suffering that will set you free...and you are made for freedom.

I want to live a life of joy with you. Please join me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Lies We Believe, or, Shit Colored Glasses

Where to begin it? At the beginning, when the formation of identity began.

We learn who we are and what we're worth by the way we're loved as little people. Little people require an enormous investment of time and attention in order to develop properly. In fact, babies who are not held and loved on enough will stop growing and eventually die. Intimate connection and gentle touch are literally vital to human survival.

My upbringing was largely very loving, but it was also chaotic- marked by addiction and all the behaviors that accompany that. Children of addicts often grow up believing that there is something wrong with them, that they are the cause of the chaos and their parent's behavior. Children are egomaniacs who believe that everything is an extension of them. Some people get taller but never stop believing that. I digress.

My egomaniacal baby brain did a gross misread of my childhood family life. It interpreted the chaos as being caused by some fundamental flaw in my makeup. The story it wrote painted me as a weird, bad girl, and I've spent my life with that false base assumption planted deep in my subconscious, coloring everything I see. Every situation I entered, I would be silently, unknowingly asking the people around me, "Am I okay?"

In no context was this need for affirmation deeper than in my romantic partnerships. And because I had been conditioned to expect love to be hard to come by, I chose partner after partner who withheld their attention and affection. Sick, right? This interplay between desperately wanting to disprove the false base assumption, but also the strict adherence to its rules. Because if love was as freely and easily given as it ought to be, what would we even do with ourselves? If I'm not a weird, bad girl, who am I? How does a happy, healthy, wholly good girl move through life?

This identification of our base assumptions and clarification of our identity is the most important work of our adulthood. If you are moving through your life operated by a false base assumption, you will never clearly see who you are and what you're worth. To some extent, in some way, this will affect every relationship you have, and limit what you feel worthy to receive. It may stall your creativity and confidence. It may strain your relationships as you demand the sort of love and approval that can only come from within. It may cause internal instability as the way you feel about yourself is swayed by what others think about you. It may cause you to suffer mightily under the tyranny of negative self concept.

And we are all worthy of so much more than that.

My breakthrough with this came when I realized that the people who love me aren't idiots. They are intelligent, insightful people whose opinions I value and trust. I'm not a magician who somehow tricked them into believing that I'm worthy of their love. This is classic impostor syndrome: the fear that I am, in fact, deeply inadequate but have somehow fooled everyone around me, and will be exposed any minute now. But the people who love me can't be fooled by my false base assumption. They love me because of, not inspite of, who I am. They see me clearly and their love is a reaction to what they see. They love me because I'm lovable. Full stop.

This is a total script flip. False base assumption dictates that I'm a weird, bad girl, and that everything is messed up because of who I am. Authentic identity asserts that I am happy, healthy and wholly good, and that the love I receive is a response to that. All I've ever had to do to be loved was be exactly who I am- a happy, healthy, wholly good girl.

False base assumptions about our identity keep us trapped in an illusion of inadequacy and unworthiness. They limit our life and cause suffering. But limited love, freedom, and calm feel normal. Suffering feels familiar. Ease and happiness are so foreign they feel frightening. Excavating our false base assumptions causes a total disruption of identity. Questions of fundamental identity are never not weighty. This is not easy work. This is not done overnight. It's not enough to have the revelation that you're actually quite good. You are carving a new neural pathway in your brain each time you respond to life from your authentic identity. First comes the revelation, then the radical restructuring of self concept from the brain on out. Woah, dude.

A caveat to all this: some people *are* fooled by your false base assumptions. Some people buy into the lies you tell about yourself. You act unworthy and they respond by treating you as such. Run from these people. Run far, far away. They will continue to help reinforce the lies. They see you as you secretly see yourself. This is regressive. It stalls evolution.

We need people around us who see our beauty and goodness. They hold this vision for us until we can see it and know it for ourselves. They are the keepers of our Truth. Begin to believe them. You've been starving for an embodied sense of acceptance and worthiness for your whole life. Don't try to take it all in at once. Be gentle with yourself as you integrate this awakening consciousness of your true identity. Watch your mind hawklike for thoughts that would keep you small and self loathing. Ask yourself, "Is this really true?" Listen to the beautiful poetry of David Whyte:

"You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you."

Wake up to who you really are today. It's time to come alive in the full awareness of your goodness.

I am happy, healthy and wholly good.

And so are you.