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Lessons From My Year of Letting Go

You know what’s hard? Letting go.

Like you, I’m R E S I S T A N T to this process. We’re a pretty grabby lot, we humans. Once we’ve called something ours — be it a relationship, an identity, an accomplishment, a story or a dress– we want to hold it close. Squeeze it tight. It belongs to us, after all. 

Holding on is comfortable, known and safe. The things we gather around ourselves define us. They give us contours and fill us in. Perhaps, if we collect people and roles and memories and photographs and experiences and things, things, things… perhaps then, we’ll understand ourselves. We’ll be understood. We won’t be capable of being annihilated.

In the past year, I’ve learned a thing or two about letting go. I set out to find new levels of harmony and wholeness, first within myself and then in relationship to the world around me. Little did I know, what was to follow would be a crash course in letting go. I’ve let go of a marriage to an incredible human (with much love and clarity, but… ouch), a support system, a beloved apartment, half my stuff (so many beautiful and carefully selected things!), a city, a way of working, a hidey hole, a comfort zone.

I felt something awakening within me. A deeper, realer, more creative iteration of myself asking to be born. I wanted to walk into newness and, it turns out, letting go comes with that territory.

When we’re expanding into something fresh, we can’t take along those pieces that don’t resonate with where we’re headed. We have to lay them down in order to welcome what we’re moving toward. 

And so, here’s what I’ve learned:

You can let go. It won’t kill you. It will hurt like hell, most likely, but on the other side… oh, the grace. Always the grace.

Loosen your grip, watch it slip from your fingers, feel the jagged pain of the loss. (It’s okay, really feel it. Grief is an absolutely necessary part of this process and you can’t skip over it.) That pain has information for you about yourself. It will show you where you’ve been mistakenly placing your power. Where you’ve been squeezing so tight you’re shutting down the flow.

Give it the space it needs and be very compassionate with yourself. There have been moments when letting go has felt like my full-time job. From the outside, it might not look like you’re being your most productive or exuberantly creative self. It’s okay. Huge renovations are happening underground.

When we release what we’re attached to, we miraculously create room to let go of the confusing stuff we’ve been TRYING like hell to shed. I found pieces of self-loathing I was hoarding underneath all that misaligned stuff. (It felt delicious to say goodbye to that.) Illness. Dis-ease. Heaviness, of all kinds. These things get stuck in the cracks of the piles we hang onto. They too will evaporate if you do the work.

Crying is a great way to move energy. So are acupuncture, music, massage and baths with loads of epsom salts.

And then… let the wound heal. Fill the hollow space up with You-ness. Feel how much lighter you are, how much more free. Last week I visited Machu Picchu as part of a retreat I’m co-leading in Peru. As I dangled my feet over the edge of Apu Machu Picchu, the towering mountain that overlooks that miraculous and sacred site, I finally felt the softness and buoyancy I’ve been waiting for.

You’ll see: you wont be less. You can’t be less.

You’re still here. Clearer. Undiminished. And so: ready for more.

It’s a gorgeous, powerful New Moon today. Ideal for releasing the old and welcoming in the new. Death and rebirth and transformation abound. I wonder what you’re making space to become?

Not because you deserve the punishment. Because you desire the union.

I’ve been thinking a lot about union today.

I’m wrapping up a giddily fun-filled Labor Day weekend and preparing to shift into cleanse mode. In addition to *leading* my Not-Just-A-Cleanse Adventure, which begins a week from today, I’m also going to be playing along. Which means I’m transitioning from beers-on-the-boat to green-smoothies-on-the-meditation-cushion.

It’s a gentle but decisive shift from the free-wheeling way I’ve shown up this summer to the way I want to feel in the span of time ahead: clear, grounded, calmly focused. And it’s just what I need.

I’m not doing the cleanse because I suck, or I’ve been so bad, or any of that nonsense I used to tell myself. The bits of me that have shown up this summer have been perfect.  I love my wild and whimsical bits. It’s just that I contain multitudes, to paraphrase Walt Whitman, and there are other corners of me asking for attention. I’ve got work to do, and I strongly desire to find my feet and turn my clarity & creation volume UP.

Which brings me back to union. A state of harmony or agreement. Both/and. I committed to being a student of union this year, and it keeps revealing itself to me in ever more beautiful, nuanced ways.

I used to be pretty bought in — even if just subconsciously so — to the whole either/or paradigm. Either I could be one thing or I could be another, but God forbid there be any inconsistencies or contradictions. I’ve come to understand that’s a completely false construct that creates all sorts of stress. It makes us really judgmental of ourselves and leads us to hide parts away in shame. Integration is where it’s at. Union with self means owning and honoring all that you authentically are. Being the girl who brings the chia seed pudding to the party does not mean I can’t be the life of it (I’m both).

I’m inviting you to join this Not-Just-A-Cleanse Adventure in that same spirit.

Choose to take care of your body not because you deserve the punishment, but because you desire the union. Committing to fine-tuning the way you eat doesn’t mean you’re giving up any part of who you currently are. It’s about deepening your relationship with your physical self so you can achieve more oneness, inside and outside.

The more we clear the layers necessary to come into harmony with ourselves, the more our outside reality reflects that harmony back to us.

That’s when life gets really good. And that is what my Not-Just-A-Cleanse Adventure is really all about.

We start next week, and registration closes on Friday. If you want to sign up, here’s where you do it. We’ve got such a great group already committed. It’s going to be sheer transformational magic. I want you in!

And if you want to learn more, Tuesday’s Live Video Workshop / Q&A is your chance. 7:00 PM.  Sign up here, come join the party and bring your questions. I can’t wait to play.

Transitions are way less jarring if they’re intentional. Cheers to finding your flow.

Giving your power away is lame. (How a cleanse can help.)

From the outside, I guess I looked okay. But the way I felt, in my BODY, nearly 100% of the time, was shitty. I bumped up constantly against all my perceived physical imperfections. I could hardly venture five steps down a joyful path before being yanked back by thought monsters.

“If only you weren’t so bloated.”
“Wonder if you’ll feel sick AGAIN this afternoon and have to bail on those plans?”
“She’s probably noticing how broken-out your face is right this minute.”
“Cranky, low-energy and sluggish, eh? Something is definitely wrong with you.”
“Nice dark circles.”

I was always trying to fix some “broken” part of me. Because I perceived myself as damaged, it followed logically that *I* could not possibly contain the answers that would finally bring relief. So I looked to everyone else.

I scratched half-heartedly at one external source after another. I collected shreds of advice like a hoarder on crack. Maybe the latest Shape magazine article held the solution? Or this drugstore juice fast, or that doctor’s prescription, or the other random snippet I heard in passing from my Pilates instructor that one time.

Essentially, I amassed a jumbled list of disjointed “shoulds” that brought me lots more self-judgment without any actual healing.

Then, when I was 29, the universe threw me a bone: a real-deal health coach who, among other things, guided me through a food-based cleanse. It wasn’t just about following instructions, lemming-like, on the vague promise of “dropping pounds fast!” I learned what truly nourished me and watched my body respond as I nixed the crap and upped the nutrients. I began to take my power back.

Everything unfolded from there. I immersed myself in learning about the body and food and environmental toxins and hormones and digestion and meditation and movement and community and subconscious beliefs and energy work and how, with a grasp on these tools, we can all *create* our biggest, brightest lives. For ourselves.

Today, I opened registration for my Fall Not-Just-A-Cleanse Adventure. It’s a 21-day group experience and, like everything I do, it combines the tools I’ve found most potent for opening your life to a new level of freedom. (You can learn more and sign up up here.)

Sure, we’re cleaning things up on the food front. Significantly. But we will also be honoring the layers that exist below — the multi-faceted interactions between your body, mind and soul. We’re shifting things on the surface AND addressing the root-cause beliefs.

My primary intention is to empower you. I want you to know, deep in your bones, that you are the world’s expert on your unique body. Together, we will pull your power back from any of the silly places you’ve deposited it outside of yourself and walk boldly toward liberation.

What if, when faced with confusion, you weren’t compelled to run around asking everyone else for answers? What if, instead, you knew all the necessary wisdom already resides within you?

An empowered approach to your body creates the foundation for sovereignty in every area of your life.

Let’s walk down THAT path together, I say.

How To Make Friends With Fall. (Even if you don’t want to.)

I’ll tell you the truth: this year, more than any other I can remember, I’m resisting the onset of fall. Typically, I get giddy as the first chilly breeze hits my skin. I dig the inspiration that floods in with the back-to-school energy. I don’t mind tapping the breaks on the party and inviting my most responsible self forward to make shit happen. Shiny new notebooks and pens are my jam.

But I have navigated a *lot* of change in my life over the past three months. A marriage ended, a website launched, I packed up and moved, a chapter closed. I really went for it in the life overhaul department. The soft spaciousness of summer days has been so supportive of all this transition. There’s something lenient and forgiving about this time of year. You can get away with a lot more, you know?

So fall feels… kinda pushy. (“Slow your roll, fall — I’m just trying to put my heart back together over here!”) I found myself planting my heels against the natural cycle of things and looking away from the pumpkin and squash display in Whole Foods with disdain. (Like, I got actually *angry* about that display. So mad! Ha.)

So, as I usually do when I’m not in right relationship with something totally out of my control, I settled in to listen. How can I soften, what can I shift? Is there anything about fall I actually *am* excited about?

My body answered before my brain did. G R O U N D I N G, she said. I felt it from the base of my spine: a clear desire to come in for a landing after summer’s chaos and tumult. The truth is, this upheaval has not been easy on my physical self. Our bodies love habit, pattern and routine, and summer often up-ends those practices we put in place to tend to our wellness. I’ve noticed the little ways all this change has started to take its toll on my vitality — hormones a bit off kilter, energy not at full-tilt, dark circles hanging out where I wish they wouldn’t, digestion not so stellar.

So, okay. Grounding feels good. Grounding I can get behind.

When I find my rhythm physically, emotional stability comes easier. Planting my feet firmly on the earth beneath me engenders clarity. This I know.

Fall, the most conscientious of seasons, supports these efforts. So this morning I cued up my faithful dandelion-root-tea-and-green-smoothie routine and promised my body to settle back in.

If, like me, you’re feeling the call to build a strong physical foundation underneath your soul for the new season ahead, I invite you into conversation with your body. What’s needed to root you, here and now?

I have one idea…

Two to three times a year I lead a little something I call my Not-Just-A-Cleanse Adventure. It’s 21 days of intentional cleaning up, clearing out and making space for the new, on a physical level. If you desire to shift your eating habits and the patterns underlying behaviors that aren’t serving you, I’m offering you some of my best stuff in a potent format. All that’s required is your willingness.

The Fall Not-Just-A-Cleanse Adventure begins on September 14, and registration will open on September 1. Feeling a little tug to join us? I’d love to have you! I’ll be sharing much more about it in the coming days, including hosting a Live Video Workshop / Q&A on September 8 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM. You can sign up here.

For now, feel the earth beneath you and welcome the transition ahead. Because (note to self) being mad at squash for showing up doesn’t stop the planet from turning.

Explode, Implode, or Melt into Something New.

Last week, I packed myself up and moved away from Washington, DC — the city that has been my “accidental” home for 13 years. Truth is, I never intended to stay so long. As it turns out, there are no accidents.

DC was my place of becoming. I moved there a wide-eyed, tender-hearted people pleaser ready to give myself away completely in exchange for making someone (anyone and, preferably, EVERYONE) proud of me. I chose the perfect crucible.

cru·ci·ble | ˈkro͞osəb(ə)l/
1. a ceramic or metal container which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures.
2. a place or occasion of severe test or trial.
3. a place or situation in which different elements interact to produce something new.

A crucible is a defining moment. It’s a stretch of time in which you’ll be held in the fire — pushed hard against a challenge– and asked to rise to it or back down. It’s hot as hell in that melting pot but, if you go with the rising option, you will emerge alchemized. You will be made of purer, stronger, more beautiful stuff.

If you’re in a crucible, congratulations. Somebody out there thinks you’re really worth a fuss.

FIRST: OWN IT. Should you find your life a combustion chamber and decide you’d rather it not be, begin by recognizing the uncomfy cauldron you have co-created (yes, you’re in on this too) is a fiercely wise teacher. Decide to see what you’re really, truly made of. You’re already in the fire — you can flail about screaming with your hair aflame, or you can be brave enough to rise and meet the transformation.

Here’s how mine looked: I was “stuck” in a city pretty well-designed to bring forth my unique shadowy qualities. There are many beautiful things about Washington, DC. (Our current relationship is a complex, highly polarized love affair.) BUT: the energy can be heavy and intense — concrete, power-driven, buttoned-up, structured. Masculine. Calendars are packed full, discussions and faces are serious, busy is glorified.

DC is the place where I worked so hard, with such intense striving, that my body finally broke down. Every vacation re-entry had me in knots, my heart yearning for the spaciousness from which I’d just returned. When I had disowned my feminine energy so fully I lost my menstrual cycle for years, I got willing to admit it: I was burning up from the inside out. Trying desperately to match the city’s tone and tempo had pushed me to my limits of performance.

I was on the verge of explosion or implosion or something disastrous and, well… those options didn’t sound so excellent. So maybe there was something for me to learn here? Sigh. Fine. “Hello, crucible,” I conceded. “Let’s see what you’ve got to show me.”

THEN: GET STILL. Stop wasting your energy outrunning yourself or being utterly convinced you are the victim. Things may be messy outside but, inside, you always have access to Truth. Let the bullshit fall away. Listen in. (Pro tip: your body has much wisdom for you, if you ask her.)

When I finally settled quietly into the discomfort, I had the space to realize I was faking it. And then… I remembered everything important about myself. I came eye-to-eye with my soul.

ROOT INTO LOVE. Everything we do comes from one of two places: love or fear. Find whatever sliver of love you can grasp — for yourself, for your body, for your calling, for the Divine — and just do the next right thing, from this place. Not out of obligation or a terror of what may befall you; out of your commitment to expansion and illumination.

I learned to take care of my body and followed the breadcrumbs unfolding from that place of self-love. I went to yoga and cultivated a community of soul friends and wore feather earrings to politico cocktail parties. I unraveled into my messy wildness. I started my own business and called the shots on my schedule. I found a piece of woods less than a mile from my house where I could always hear my heart. I threw away my pencil skirts. I healed; embraced my feminine flow; became a woman.

BE WILLING TO LEARN THE LESSONS. Even if they’re tough. The sooner you do this, the faster the crucible shapeshifts into something a little less… intense.

As I took the medicine of my learnings with a dose of self-responsibility, I saw the place I had blamed for my weaknesses had only been doing me the favor of revealing them.

DC didn’t change, but my experience of it did. I could come home to my free-spirited, nature-loving, rule-breaking, light-hearted, deep-feeling gypsy soul anytime. All that was in the way was me.

If your life is on fire, your body probably has something to say about it. (And if you need help decoding those messages, that’s where I come in.) Mine told me in no uncertain terms that trying to jam myself into a way of masculine striving was not my answer. And, as I left the city, I realized it was exactly 13 years — to the day– from the moment I drove in. 13. The number of the Divine Feminine. (Like I said, no accidents.)

So, a reframe: your crucible is a gift. Be brave enough to let it melt you down to what’s real.

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