I Will Not Over-Edit

We're only three minutes to midnight, midnight being doomsday, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, for reasons of "unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals." They say, "international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty—ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization." The way I see it, the human race drains the earth of her finite resources in an attempt to provide infinite stability and perpetual protection. The masculine tendency. Which is normal and necessary and effective when balanced with the feminine prerogative to nurture and give back to Mother Earth. Every mother knows she needs to care for herself first.

But we are off-balance. Because women, who hold the bulk of the nurturing feminine energies, have operated under varying forms of oppression for centuries.

Today I make a plea to the women. To balance the planet, we must own our power. We must live according to the truth of who we are, not who we've been taught to be.

I have a few ideas on how to get started, if you're interested. Treat these as mantras.

I do not over-edit myself or my work.

I do not diminish what I have to say.

I do not self-deprecate.

I do not apologize unless I've done something wrong.

I do not downplay my achievements.

I do not feel ashamed of my passions.

I do not measure my worth by my productivity.

I do not measure my life by my bank account.

I speak my mind.

I stand up for myself.

I nourish my interior self.

I listen to my intuition

I respect my feminine body. 

I feed my spirit.

I support other women.

I am worthy of recognition. 

I turn the other cheek to bullies and misogynists.

I assert my power.

We are this planet. We must fill our cups before we can fill others.

Go ahead, write your own mantras, empower yourself. Be unafraid of your power. Use it now. Nothing lasts forever.

This is day 20 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 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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30 Intentions For My 30s

For my 30th birthday blog post, I started a few different lists, including 30 lessons I've learned, and 30 reasons I'm glad to be 30. But I realized I don't want to look back on what I've learned and how I've changed, I want to look forward. I want to ask, what else is possible?

I feel as if I have been waiting my whole life to enter this decade. I have idealized my thirties as a time when I will know I have arrived in adulthood. Of course now that I'm here, I realize I've been in "it" for years.

This decade of my life in this body is unwritten. My hope is that these intentions serve as the architecture for what is to come:

1. I go to bed at a decent hour.

2. I share my thoughts in personal and public ways.

3. I write and read everyday.

4. I make new friends and keep the old.

5. I practice patience and equinimity.

6. I see more of the world.

7. I submit and publish my stories, essays and poetry.

8. I enjoy the life I have built and the person I discovered in me in my twenties.

9. I speak nicely to my husband and children.

10. I choose love.

11. I moderate my internet and social media usage.

12. I move my body daily and I eat organic, whole, tasty foods.

13. I balance consumption with creation.

14. I feel my feelings without trying to numb them.

15. I am confident in my talents and abilities.

16. I value my worth.

17. I give freely and I receive freely.

18. I believe in the beauty of my dreams.

19. I do not worry what others think of me or say about me.

20. I stay true to myself and my values.

21. I measure time in inspiration rather than productivity.

22. I believe in miracles.

23. I notice synchronicities, and I let them guide me.

24. I listen to my intuition and I follow my heart.

25. I read to my children.

26. I date my husband.

27. I stay connected with my loved ones.

28. I practice non-attachment.

29. I relax into the present moment.

30. I allow the universe to show up for me in exciting ways.

Writing this list felt good. A wave of well-being moves through my heart each time I read it.

Thank you for being here, and please feel free to add your own intention for the next decade of your life in the comments below.

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

The Purpose of Privilege

In what ways are you privileged? We are all privileged.*

What does the universe want from you?

The universe wants something from you.

Do you know what your purpose is?

We all have purpose.

What makes a life worth living?

This man says "flow" is the secret to happiness.

So when do you lose yourself?

When you "lose yourself," you can become a vessel.

What is the self anyways?

It seems we love to define the self, our selves.

How do we transcend the self?

We need to get out of our own way.

What would you do if you could do anything?

We could start today.

Where do we start?

Perhaps our various privileges serve as guideposts.

No matter what we're doing, whether it's staying at home with kids or wandering the world with nothing, may we let the ways we are privileged reveal our purpose.

Let us notice how the universe nurtures us. Let us take it in and love it, then let us lose the self for a moment, let us get into the flow and release all that goodness back into the ether. Let our privilege become someone else's privilege.

This is vague, so I will offer a few examples. It could be music. Maybe you have a pretty voice or mad piano skills. Have you thought about sharing your music? You could go into a classroom and play a few tunes, you could join the music ministry in a spiritual community, you could write music and play it for friends, you could post videos to YouTube, you could go after a talent agent. Really, there's no limit, great or small.

It could be organizing messes or organizing communities. It could be counseling others or taking photos. It could be crafting or welding. It could be a job or it could be volunteering or it could be neither. It could be the main focus of your days or it could be a couple hours on the weekend.

The bottom line? If we feel good about our privilege rather than guilty about it, we know we are using privilege for the Greater Good. It's that simple.

May our privilege not be in vain.

Where does your privilege point?

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

*Inspired by Roxane Gay's essay entitled Peculiar Benefits.

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

Public Transit Vs. Driving With Kids

I thought that maybe if I took the bus I could journal for a moment. But it was crowded and I had to stand with the baby on my back and when I did get a seat, the baby grew fussy. I could barely hang onto the lurching bus and my girls at once, much less open my purse. Skyla lost her patience around the same time we got to our stop, so naturally, I missed it.IMG_3551.JPGNo worries though, we walked through Chinatown for the first time and got caught in the rain before hopping on a bus back up the hill to the 22 foot gingerbread house at the Fairmont in San Francisco. I do love public transit that comes every 5-10 minutes.IMG_3569.JPGI experience something on the bus from time to time like when Skyla flirts with everyone she can catch with her eyes, smiling and babbling and a fat little hand on an elderly man's chest, or when Giovanna chooses to stand rather than sit with a smirk of pride. A swelling of my heart, simple but deep enjoyment of my children. It makes me sad for all of the hours I've spent in my car. Isolated, bored, lonely. Convenience and speed the tippy top priority. Time too finite to waste. Yet driving is another sort of waste... And a whole lot of freedom.IMG_3565.JPGOnce we have our basic needs met, what do we chase? A lot, but at the center of it all is freedom, I think. Freedom of expression via art. Freedom to explore via travel. Freedom to consume via money. Freedom to grow via information. (Enter the internet!)IMG_3577.JPGInterestingly, motherhood seems to impose the opposite of freedom. By it's very nature motherhood occupies our bodies and consumes our hearts, sometimes our thoughts. Whether we want to accept it or not, our children are like teeny tiny bosses. IMG_3595.JPGDriving can become its own sort of break as our children are temporarily encumbered by their carseats. Their only power in that position comes from the power they have over us. Both of my daughters have been known to wail in the car, and I have been known to pull over. I've grown more skilled at handling the cries with my second babe and I do wonder how this will affect her in the long run, praying it will be mostly good rather than mostly bad.IMG_3592.JPGDriving, when the children are quiet or sleeping, becomes its own meditation. It gives you choices. Taking the bus is a social and cultural experience. It allows you to look sideways in addition to forward.IMG_3612.JPGI'm grateful to live in a city where I can do both. And I encourage other people, not just mothers but especially mothers, to shake up their transportation routines. Bus instead of drive. Transit instead of taxi. Walk a different way. You might just get inspired by something new.

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An Already-Done List

I like to make lists. So I'm trying a new variation on an old favorite: an already-done list rather than a to-do list. A way to expand on that feeling of accomplishment and self-efficacy, which helps us feel good about ourselves, according to this article. It doubles as a gratitude list, apropos for this Thanksgiving week. Because I am so thankful for these privileges. Even the school tours because I have the time and space to do them. Even the unpacking because it means a fresh start, empty spaces and the opportunity to be organized for a little while, or a long while.

Without further ado, here are some things I've done during my first six weeks in San Francisco:

Attended several playground-based playgroups.

Taken Giovanna to gymnastics and yoga. I love seeing the joy she finds in movement.

Walked the city with and without the littles. My big girl is learning how to get her city legs.

Attended a style soiree, won a facial, gotten my hair cut and blown out, let a Benefit make-up artist do up my eyebrows, and tried on designer dresses for rent. Just because it's fun to be a girl.

Taken barre classes at three different studios.

Secured a part-time spot in an amazing non-traditional preschool.

Hired a babysitter.

Gone to dinner with friends.

Hosted brunch for extended family.

Played on the beach.

Written a short story.

Unpacked the majority of my boxes.

Visited my cousin and her children 100 miles away.

Went on a movie date.

Listened to live music at a jazz club on Fillmore.

Taken the bus.

Bought a new wardrobe for Skyla at the Tea Collection sample sale.

Shopped at the farmer's market.

Signed up for a CSA home delivery.

Joined the San Francisco Public Library.

Attended multiple elementary school tours for next year.

Hiked in the Presidio.

Joined the California Academy of Sciences.

And on the horizon:

Cook Thanksgiving dinner.

Take family pictures with the phenomenal photographer who captured our wedding and now lives in SF.

Attend a new book club.

See the Nutcracker performed by the SF Youth Ballet and the Velveteen Rabbit by ODC/Dance.

Redeem said facial.

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

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Trapped

Sometimes I feel trapped. In my body, my mind, my house, my life, none of the above, all of the above. I am neither depressed nor ill and I know I'm not the first happy person to wrestle with a dull claustrophobic ache now and again.

Maybe it's because children/job/school/life/whatever demands so much out of us. We live in a culture of do-more-be-more-have-more. Which can be fun and rewarding. And draining and overwhelming. We become trapped by our to-do list. We become trapped by our fears. Worst of all, trapped by what (we think) we want whether it's a social life or a career or money or children or a partner or something I cannot even imagine.

For some reason the things we want the most can also take the most out of us.

But we can never be trapped for we do not exist in a bubble, we are all-encompassing. We are waves in an ocean, the fingers of the same hand. Ego fools us into thinking we are separate or superior or inferior. Ego with its expectations and ideals and lies. The voice of knowledge, the snake in the garden. Highly conditioned, deeply programmed habits of thought about worth and meaning and value.

Who am I and why am I alive and what should I be doing that I am not doing? Why is there so much to do all the time and why can't I keep up?

Moving a family to another city and state has proven itself a beast. A beast worth taming. An exciting chase. An adventure that has barely begun. When I feel scared or displaced I realize something: this means I am growing. If it feels uncomfortable, it's probably good for me. Maybe I can learn to lean towards that kind of discomfort rather than away from it.

When I feel as if I should be doing something else or something more, it's impossible to be present in this precious moment. We are busy creatures. We say yes. We make promises to ourselves and others. We join groups. We start projects. We take on as much as possible because we think we need to master something. Our careers, our homes, our inner demons.

Perhaps you, like me, are stumbling along, wishing to be better than you are. I recently joined an active parenting forum in San Francisco where mothers go for advice and support (among other things). Mothers post about depression, anxiety, stress. Too-small homes, too-small families, floundering relationships. The struggle is real. Unassailable. Often the first step in overcoming these troubles is airing them. Letting them be seen. Letting your self be seen.

Like the author Gretchen Rubin who studies and chases and writes about happiness because she wants to be happier, I believe in my ability to change. I am made of life and life adapts. That's what life does because life longs to live. Plants have been known to start trapping and digesting flies for nutrients when the soil becomes depleted. Absolutely anything is possible.

Our struggles are like guideposts. They show us what we need to change.

I need to stay mindful about getting stuck in the drudgery of routine and caring for myself and several other people and do things that inspire me on a daily basis. When I feed my soul with inspiration, my mind is less likely to wander to what I need to "do" (and there will always be more to do), I am more present and able to see the sweetness and beauty of the moment. I set this intention one morning and just a few hours later I discovered a place called Inspiration Point. For the past couple of weeks I've unknowingly driven within 300 feet of it many times. Inspiration Point is a lookout with a smorgasbord of sights--ocean and island and tall trees and even a bit of city. A stone's throw from my regular path. All I had to do was go a little further, venture off of my beaten path. It made me think that if I make my world a bit wider, I won't feel quite so small.

How are you struggling and what do you think the struggle is trying to change in/about you? Please tell me about it in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I love hearing from you!

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

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Are you doing what you love today?

Have you found something that makes you so clearly happy that you wonder how you ever survived without it? Things like family, sports, creative outlets, maybe your home or community or even a great job.

But then life gets in the way and you stop running or painting or staying ahead at work or paying much attention to your spouse or kids. Something of this variety happens to all of us now and then because we are human. A distracted breed. We are interesting and beautiful because of our mutability.

It's not our fault. We have so much to experience. Too much. So many ends to tie up. Too many. (At least it often feels this way!) Billions of unique balls of human energy are firing through the atmosphere at every given moment, getting tangled in one another, inspiring and maddening and exciting and teaching one another.

Every time I drive on the highway these days, I'm struck by my fellow humans, all of us in our respective cars, these hunks of mineral protecting us from one another so that we can fulfill our individualized agendas. Perhaps our life purposes. We have places to go. Down highways and across skies and up mountains. We are smart. We lead complex lives, rich and sumptuous with love for one another and for life itself.

This is all good and well. Until we start dropping ends because we've picked up too many. And we feel like we're in a horror movie because our heads are spinning. We can see in every direction, all of the possible paths. Some call them parallel universes. And because there are many different directions to take, we get confused. We say yes when we mean no. We say no when we mean yes.

It's easy to lose the way. The way is completely subjective, after all. What you love will be different than what your mother or father or brother or sister or partner or best friend or enemy loves.

In this day and age, distractions are as abundant as opportunities. We have to stay mindful of our daily activities. Are we staying true to our heart's desire?

I'm interested in this idea of focus. Focusing on what you love most and not letting superfluous distractions steal too much of your most finite resource. Time.

Why is it that we often have to force ourselves to do things that we love such as exercising, writing, even socializing? My cousin loves salsa dancing as much as anyone can love salsa dancing. But as a mother of two battling Lyme Disease and chronic pain, she rarely gets the opportunity to go out and dance. She's been out of the salsa scene for so long that she's hardly looking forward to attending the annual conference in San Francisco next month. This was something she used to anticipate for months prior and savor for months afterwards. And I'm sure that once she gets to that conference and onto the dance floor, she will enter the flow, that state of being from which artistic expression arises.

It's about momentum. When we get into the habit of doing what we love every day or every other day or every week, that's when we know I could never survive without this. So why do we try?

Are you doing what you love today?

Please tell me what it is YOU love in the comments or send me an email lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I love hearing from you! 

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

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