The Purpose of Envy

Nobody enjoys this feeling. This distance between you and who you think you are meant to be. The people and places who show up to remind you of the gap. The sickness in your heart when you come close because you still cannot cross the space between here and there. You feel stuck in the quicksands of Now. I know all about it, my friends. Do you?

I passed through San Francisco three years ago this month. July 2012. I was here without being here. I felt intense longing for more of the city. I sensed something beneath the surface that vibrated on my frequency. It didn't really occur to me that I could live here, too. In retrospect, the envious longing I felt for San Francisco was the first hint that my path would bring me here.

Envy acts like a hint from the universe. Envy tells us about our heart's deepest desires. Envy helps us reach beyond what we thought could be possible. Because we see someone else doing it or we see another place achieving it and we realize that anything, anything is possible. We realize we miss big things by thinking small.

Envy can also dampen our spirits and break our resolve. Envy can throw us off track. Envy can trick us into thinking we need something to be happy when truly nothing can bring us happiness, because happiness is not a destination. Happiness is the way.

I hope we can be happy enough Now to cast aside fear of envy, so that we may pay attention to it and explore where it's coming from and why. There's no use in numbing the tinge because chances are good that it will never go away. We can drink and forget, but when we wake up, it will be there. Waiting with a Cheshire grin.

The universe tickles our respective fancies in mysterious but purposeful ways. We can spend our lives running, or we can spend our lives chasing. What will it be?

This is day 13 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I’m glad you’re along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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The Fear of Being Seen

Perhaps you want something, but when it comes down to actually making this thing happen, you fear what you want. This fear disallows it from happening. Sometimes consciously, mostly unconsciously. When I owned Herbal Philosophy Teas, a home-based business in which I mixed locally-sourced organic herbs into medicinal teas, I grew to dread big orders. Though I was excited each time I added a new spa to my client list, I accepted the order with a certain unease. More hours spent in the office, away from my husband, away from my children, away from my blog, away from my manuscript in process. The money was nice, but most of the dollars would go back into the business.

Looking back on this discreet form of self-sabotage, I wonder how I lasted as long as I did under that business model. Hindsight is 20/20, no? I should have hired a co-packer from the beginning to mix the teas, no matter the investment. Alas, my first business proved a tremendous learning experience, not only as an entrepreneur, but as an herbalist and a human trying to sell something. It turns out you don't have to only believe in what you're selling, you have to believe in your credibility to sell it, you have to be willing to charge money for it, and you have to focus on it.

Since I started this blog, it has never been a significant focus. I have called it a hobby, a creative outlet, a labor of love, but never a business. I am not sure what the future holds for this blog. But I do know that I want to grow the readership, and in order to do this, I have to let go of a deep-seated fear of sharing my heart and being seen in all my wounded glory.

I heal by writing my way through struggle. Perhaps my struggles are somehow related to your struggles and we can work through them together. I feel intense pain in the world, I see so much brokenness. Rampant racism and sexism and materialism and depression and anxiety and dis-ease and the list goes on. And on. But change happens on an individual level before it becomes systemic. By changing ourselves, we change the world.

My greatest motivator is the notion that what I write here can help other people. In order to help other people, I must be honest. I must share what's on my heart in order to tap into the collective consciousness.

Naturally, we have inhibitions that protect us from over sharing. I fear being seen, I value my privacy. I have written a number of blogs I have never published and I have drafted many Facebook posts I have never posted. But let's be real here. Growing this blog readership will not turn me into a celebrity. I choose exactly how much I want to reveal. I am in control. I am learning how to love myself enough to see the value in my imperfections.

I struggle like everybody, but I am also lucky, and I am obliged to effect change using this platform because I feel called to do so. Even my marriage is a privilege. As good partnerships tend to do, it grants me support of my goals and strengthens my weak spots: if my husband, who knows my foibles better than anybody, loves me and respects me in spite of these fatal flaws, then maybe you can, too.

This is day 1 of 30 consecutive days of blogging. I'm glad you're coming along for the ride. If you liked this post, please share using the buttons below. If you have something to add, feel free to comment openly or anonymously.

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The Art of Filtering

"Always needing to stay immediate by removing what is no longer real is the working inner definition of sacrifice--giving up with reverence and compassion what no longer works in order to stay close to what is sacred."- Mark Nepo "The Book of Awakening"

I am continually humbled by this life I have chosen as a mother, wife and writer. The beauty lies in the nuances and they are so easily missed. The distractions are plentiful. I want to get back to the basics.

The blank page.

Thoughts and words, no matter their speed.

Books I look forward to opening.

Entire days with no purpose but to love and be loved by my family.

We are constantly bombarded with information and opportunities and even images. First world problems, I know, trivial but real. A favorite distraction of mine (Instagram) utilizes "filters" to communicate via images and text. Interestingly, it seems filtering is exactly what we need to do in every moment; to preserve what is real, we cannot let everything through. We must be mindful of the snarks and cynics, the media including social media, the books and websites that don't resonate, the habits that do not serve.

We must protect ourselves. No one can filter the noise for us. Not an app nor a partner nor a boss nor a parent nor a friend nor a child. No one can make our mistakes for us, and likewise, no one can know the depth of our potential but us. We are at the mercy of ourselves. Our thoughts, our words, our deeds. Our inaction and our action.

So much of my twenties I spent shaving away the layers that had calcified over my true self. Motivations, ambitions, careers, hobbies, lifestyles, beliefs. I made strides in casting away the debris and carving "me" out of the mess, and though I know this could be a lifelong practice of collecting and experimenting and releasing--I hold the hope that my thirties will offer more stability, more rootedness in the identities that cannot be peeled away. No one said it better than my sister: "I spent much of my twenties searching for myself, but in my thirties I am enjoying the person I found."

If we can be raw, if we can put our barest selves out there, if can we accept our callings and our quirks without reservation and negotiation, I think anything is possible.

What are you filtering? I'll go first. (See comments.)

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Tell me what life is about

Lately she's been saying things like, tell me what life is about. Her voice dreamy and her eyes wistful. She wants to know. She senses that oceans and galaxies lie beyond her grasp. After all, her world only recently turned itself upside down when we moved from our hometown of Seattle. She seems to recognize that life is fragile, that small moments can change everything, that big feelings are fleeting, that nothing lasts forever, and ultimately we will all die. Her daddy & I try to answer her questions.

I said, love. Life is about loving other people.

He said, but people forget a lot. They think it's about themselves.

She said, I think it's about peace. And harmony.

There have been other questions, too.

I told her that I'm not really sure what happens when we die. That nobody really knows. That it's the greatest mystery of life. Death.

She worries about us dying, about her grandparents dying.

I told her that we will never be separated because we live in one another, we are one another. We are not the same, but we are also not completely separate. We are oneness, embodied.

When I see her smile, I smile.

When I see her hurt, I hurt.

When I see her learn, I learn.

I told her, I think life is about doing what you love. Someday soon, I'll teach her what it means when something moves you. I want her to recognize what moves her, so she can know her purpose. I want her to know that the universe will guide her by speaking to her heart.

She knows how to ask. My next job is to teach her how to listen.

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My New Years wishes for you

I welcomed 2015 with The Flaming Lips and pounds of confetti and giant balloons including a monstrous mylar sculpture of the words "FUCK YEAH 2015." Maybe you think that's vulgar, but I did not. I thought it irreverent and appropriate and empowering.

Because I had just one glass of Sofia Coppola sparkling wine, my mind stayed sharp. All of my senses in tact. The music vibrated with alarming intensity. Layers of pot smoke drifted in and around the bodies. My husband's sturdy arms held me close. Primary lights flashed and popped. Psychedelic characters graced the stage. Polka-dotted mushrooms and caterpillars with butterfly wings and a sun with spikey rays and a rainbow with no clouds attached. A large mirrored ball descended from the rafters and the lead singer held his arms open to it as it spun, reflecting fractals of light onto thousands of people. I saw the ball as a metaphor for the earth. And every hand that rose into the charged air belonged to a human communing with the spirit.

Some people have church, some people have concerts, and some people see God everywhere. In the beat of a drum and the rhythm of a poem and the snow on a mountaintop.

I hope you see God this year. Anywhere, everywhere.

Minutes before midnight they played a banging cover of a song that's been special to me for a long time. If you're a Beatles fan like me, you already know I named my blog after this song, even if I myself wasn't named after the song at all. As a child I sat upon my dad's knee while he played it on the piano, his voice hitting all the right notes.

Picture yourself on a boat in a river. With tangerine trees and marmalade skies...

Where do you picture yourself this year?

I hope you live outside of your comfort zone.

I hope you aren't afraid to fail.

I hope you don't dwell on your mistakes.

I hope you do something every day that makes you feel alive.

If you have dreams, I hope you chase them.

If you don't have dreams, I hope you find one or many. I hope you dig deep and come up with diamonds.

I like to think that, by definition, our truest dreams exist to make this broken world a better place. The body is a microcosmic representation of the universe. Our neuron connections look like constellations. If the body can heal itself given the proper conditions, so can the earth. One person at a time. And because life longs for itself, the earth wants to heal, the universe wants us to make our differences. Our passions have purpose. These flames did not start from nothing.

I hope you tend your flame.

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Lessons on Optimism

You've probably heard that "life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it"---the sentiment of Charles R. Swindoll, an evangelical Christian pastor, presumably a man of faith and optimism. In the second volume of Anaïs Nin's diary, she cites two different people who proclaimed that her diary would never be published. Stuart Gilbert, a famous literary scholar said: "You have the makings of a Proust. This is too natural and will never be published." Denise Clairouin, a French translator of novels, said: "The diary will never be published. People can't bear such nakedness. You are so much in life."

Of course, seven volumes of Anaïs Nin's diaries were eventually published, making her a feminist icon of the 1960s, a woman studied and celebrated and often quoted.

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image via typewrittenword.tumblr.com

The thing is, she started seeking publication of her diaries as early as the 1930s. It took thirty years to see her diaries in print and yet she never stopped writing them. Some of the closest people in her life fought to break her dependence on her diary--her mother, her mentor, her lover, her therapist, her friend. But it was her diary who became her best friend and confidante (wikipedia). She wrote 15,000 pages, which today fill two four-drawer filing cabinets in a Brooklyn bank vault.

She didn't need the permission of others, not even her loved ones, to fulfill this deep calling. She gave herself permission to do it. May we all be so bold.

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image via etsy.com

May we all stop thinking about what it is we are supposed to be doing, how we are supposed to be parenting or working or spending or living. Forget about what you've started and what you've promised, not for always but for now, and think about what you freaking want to do with your life.

Maybe you want to quit your corporate job and move to the country where your children can run free.

Maybe you want to move to a bustling metropolis and devour culture with every one of your senses.

Maybe you want to live like a monk and write poetry.

Maybe you want to tell your boss to fuck off (maybe in polite terms, maybe not) and then go start your own company.

Maybe you want to create pockets of passive income so you can travel the world and work 4 hour weeks à la Timothy Ferriss.

Maybe you want to break up or get together or have children or stop having children or read more or kiss more or sleep more or move more or write more.

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I think you should do what you've always wanted to do. Give yourself permission. Don't seek it outside of yourself. Be inside your body. We feel trapped beneath the skin for a reason, right? There is a time and a place to transcend the skin, but right now, while pressed against this earth, it feels good to be grounded in our bodies. Who we are, what we want to do, what and where we feel called to live.

If we don't follow these tugs, these whispered callings, we're not playing with the universe. We deprive the greater good of our individual goodness, our gifts, our passions. No one else is me or you. Our DNA is 99% the same but it's that wild card of a 1% that makes each of us irreplaceable.

I wonder what these comments about her diary being unpublishable did to Anaïs Nin, if anything. Obviously she didn't believe them. She believed in herself instead. Do I believe in myself? It's a question I keep asking.

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Anaïs Nin famously said: "we don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." An optimist sees opportunities, notices blessings. An optimist takes criticism as fuel rather than bullets. An optimist knows that she can do a whole lot with her reaction. If Piper Kerman had wallowed in her prison sentence rather than immersed herself in it and written about it, we wouldn't have my new favorite television series, "Orange Is the New Black"

I'm talking to you as much as I'm talking to myself, perched upon a soapbox of beautiful intent: I hope you believe.

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To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

Nothing Lasts Forever

I turn 29 tomorrow. My golden year is nearly over. Though it terrifies me to think of myself as 30 years-old in one year, in some ways I feel older than 30. As if I've been 30 for years. Which somehow makes sense considering that I also feel like I am my 13 year-old self at times.

Birthdays often bring introspection and this one is no different.

Right now I am sipping my espresso and milk, nibbling on ultra dark chocolate, nursing my baby and typing with one hand… Now she's in the swing next to me, asleep. I can see mountains and tree tops and water from up here on my perch. Though I have many things I still want to accomplish, many moments to look forward to, I am perfectly content where I am right now.

Things continues to change rapidly. Time never stops nor slows. Everyone is getting older. People come and go. Nothing lasts forever--a truth that troubles me deeply because I am happy now. I am aware that I have it good. I love being a mother to small children and though it is exhausting it is delightful and precious and wonderful. When James is at home we exchange glances a hundred times a day, smiling over the unbearable cuteness, grimacing over the tears, laughing over the funny; we are partners on this glorious adventure. We are in it and we love it and we love each other.

But nothing lasts forever. Our children are only getting older. So are we.

I might be especially preoccupied with time right now because it gallops along at an unfair pace when you have a baby. Just the other day Skyla was a skinny-legged newborn who slept all day and now she has rolls beneath her chin and she is attempting communication. She has beautiful brown inquisitive eyes and a generous smile. The rest of us won't stop gushing about her. That's four people head over heels in love with one tiny person. She handles our affection with grace. She soaks it up and makes it her own and beams it back at us.

The thing about having children is the love they bring into a home. Every challenge in parenting is punctuated with love. You've got to work for the love I suppose, but oh sweet universe, the rewards outlive the work.

It's like anyone's life's work, really. You don't need to have kids to experience this kind of infinite love. You need only to give your best away, offer it up to the greatest good. Your best efforts, your best creations. It's the only way to live properly: find what you can (and love to) do to add value whether it's by raising a person or founding a movement or taking care of people.

We have to do it now. Today. There's no time to waste. We must run with ideas, listen for callings, ask God and other people for help.

We're only getting older and nothing lasts forever.

Yet there's an undeniable beauty to growing older because youth is replaced with wisdom. Each day is a new experience and each experience lends itself to our understanding of why the hell we're alive and what we're supposed to do while we're here to make the most of our brief forays on this four-dimensional plane. So that we may not only leave the earth better than we came upon it, but we may in the process delight in the taste of water and chocolate, the sensation of sunshine and wind, the swell of love and connection.

Since I enjoy quotes and learning and wisdom, I will celebrate my birthday tomorrow by sharing 29 of my favorite quotes and pearls of wisdom--lessons and philosophies that have enriched my 29 years of life, whether or not I have mastered or even understood their meaning.

Until tomorrow.

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To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.