The Shrinking of Wildness

Photo by  Jeremy Bishop  on  Unspla

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unspla

The shrinking from wildness starts early.  I just led a workshop for 7th grade girls and the retreat from that inner freedom had already begun.  In some ways they still retained some wildness.  They were free and full of fun when painting, spreading it on each other and reveling in the mess.  But then we journaled.  We journaled about self-confidence and the responses were heart-breaking.

"I have low confidence, and so always think of myself negatively."

"They (meaning other people) don't care about my achievements"

"Other people won't be impressed by (what I do)." 

"I don't have anything to brag about."

"I don't want to sound _________ .
Fill in the blanks with conceited, self-absorbed, rude, inconsiderate.

This is not ok. 

This is REALLY not ok.

If we want to raise a generation of girls with confidence, body  ownership, and an outlook that can positively impact the world, we have to start with ourselves, because they are modeling us. 

They are inheriting these words and these quotes from us.  Every time we shrink from being unapologetically ourselves, we are sending the message to girls to shrink as well.

And that is not limited to moms.  All of us women are modeling behavior and believe me, girls are watching. 

We tell girls we want them to grow up to be brave and strong and confident, even while we turn our backs on those very concepts in our own life.  We stop taking risks, we don't stretch ourselves, we settle.  So often, time passes and we realize we've compromised in our lives, and we have oriented ourselves towards an unsatisfying "good enough," perhaps also believing we are not deserving of more.

It reminds me of the line that I heard recently, that it is not the pain that takes us down, it's the shame of the pain.

Wildness is wilderness and neither know shame.  It is becoming the biggest tree in the forest because you can.  There is joy in growing and a reaching for as much light as your limbs can find.  It should be ok for us to take up space, be big and bold and be seen and to take joy in saying "here I am."

The river does not stop moving because it approaches rocks or even a cliff.  The stream continues through, cleansing and washing everything into its path, becoming a waterfall in its leap of faith.  We are like these forces of nature and lest us not be like quicksand.

with fierce and wild love,

Why Disequilibrium Might Be the Best Experience You Can Give Yourself

Photo by  Cam Adams  on  Unsplash

Photo by Cam Adams on Unsplash

“Disequilibrium happens when you begin to see things in the world that don’t make sense to you. The things you thought you knew—the things that helped you feel stable and clear—are now in question. And, woof. This state is hard. We crave equilibrium.”
— - Sandy Speicher, Partner, IDEO

I have written bits of this newsletter at home, on a run, at gyms,waiting for kids and finally, in front of a computer.  The idea was bubbling, but I couldn't quite get it down.  Turns out, when you are in a state of disequilibrium, it is a difficult topic to write about.  It wasn't until I saw an article by Sandy Speicher, a Partner at IDEO, that it clicked.  In the article, The Uncomfortable Secret To Creative Success is Disequilibrium, Speicher talks about the moments of frustration and challenge when we are adapting or learning something that shifts our mental models of the world and it hasn't quite clicked yet.  These are the moments or weeks of synthesis, when you have gathered information, sorted it, but have not yet made sense of it.  It's a hard state to sit with.  While Speicher uses this term to talk about the creative process, it is a great reference for life. 

I was reflecting on this as it related to my clients after our private sessions and workshops.  Something deep is touched in them.  Often, it is an opening to a new understanding of who they are or why they are in the world.  Sometimes the foundation of their life story is turned upside down.  And sometimes, there is an internal limit that is dropped entirely.  These are moments are great revelation.

One woman from a workshop marveled that being in play is a choice.

A client of mine discovered in one of our sessions that she was holding onto an emotional pattern that was akin to snuggling with Voldemort.  This client also recognized how scary it was to let go of the attachment, even though it was not serving her.

Another friend and artist realized how her upbringing among a family and community of prominent artists had created  some dust, expectations and paralysis around 'is it good enough? is it serious? is it really art?,' limiting the freedom of her creative expression. 
These insights, because they are individually freeing, create a state of disequilibrium.  We are stretching our understanding of the world and of ourselves.  And as we do this internal expanding, as we let go of the old framework, it can feel like we are groping around in the dark, searching for firm ground and a light switch. 

If play is a choice, then what have I been choosing when I haven't chosen play?

Where will I be without Voldemort at my side?

(hopefully somewhere near Hermoine and Harry)

What does it mean if my art is already 'good enough?'

To move through disequilibrium, we have to create a new 'a-ha' moment that invites these insights into meaning.  We invite a bigger, more inclusive model into our life. 

Perhaps this expansion is not for everyone.  But each time we are willing to expand our understandings and let ourselves move through a phase of disequilibrium, we become more fully alive and more engaged in life.  Our horizons broaden and we are a step towards greater freedom.  

In simple terms, it is learning.  As Speicher writes, "Learning isn’t about the consumption of new information. Learning is the process of using our innate abilities to construct—or create—new understandings of the world. Learning, by its very nature, is a creative act."

These expansions are always my goal for you in my meditations and workshops.  Whether through play, stillness of meditation, or the exploration of your inner wild, the chance for profound disequilibrium is just around the corner.

With Love,

Vuja De

I recently discovered Vuja De.  It is my new favorite expression and not just because I like the way it rolls off my tongue.  I returned from three weeks of meditation and when people ask about my trip, I often struggle to explain how life altering it feels.  Nothing tangible has changed, and yet, everything is brighter and more vibrant and infinitely altered.  I was listening to a lecture by Adam Grant, a professor at Wharton, on the concept of original ideas when he threw out this term "vuja de."  I literally stopped the car, fumbled with my phone and replayed it three times.  Vuja De is the reverse of deja vu.  It goes like this. 

Suppose you're in a situation that is very familiar-perhaps you're driving to work or doing something else that you've done a hundred times before-and you suddenly feel as if you are experiencing it in a new light, as if it's the first time.  Waiting for a taxi and notice all the empty cars?  Vuja de moment and Uber is born.  It's a birthplace for original ideas.  I researched this further and while it's an expression used more recently by Adam Grant and Tom Kelley of famed company IDEO, the term actually originated from comedian George Carlin.

After three weeks of meditation, life feels like a series of vuja de moments.

The thing is, more of us do not experience many of these moments, because we often choose the default options in life.  We don't question the norms of everyday life.  If I could offer anything, add this to your bucket list:  spend a week away in meditation, or silence, in contemplation, or alone in nature, or in prayer.  Find a program or retreat that resonates with you and do yourself a favor, at some point in life, make time for it.  Everyone should experience moments of vuja de. 

And while I cannot offer you weeks of solitude, I do have options that can spark a bit of vuja de.  The two day Awakening the Third Eye meditation workshop coming up June 3 & 4 and is a great way to build and solidify a personal meditation practice and to open you up to deeper states of consciousness. 

Another dive into your own originality is through the The Inner Wild Child Immersion.  It is filling up quickly, but there are still spots left.  Find out what it feels like to rediscover your fearlessness, your creativity and your invincibility. 

Go on, take the plunge and experience your brilliance. 
Vuja de it.  

More on Adam Grant or to watch his Ted Talk:

You Are The Spark

As a kid, I loved creative endeavors, but I gave them up at age 7.  My sense of my own creativity was squashed early on.  After a few scribbled paintings, I was told that I was better off sticking to academics and sports.  I believed the feedback.   Instead, I hung out with creative people and riffed off their energy, joking that I couldn't draw a stick figure. 

When Kate Randall and I led our Inner Wild Child Immersion last year, she guided the group to their inner wild child through art.  I was standing on the sidelines when she encouraged me to be a participant.  I had not painted anything since I was little.  I was nervous.  I mean, as a co-leader, I was suppose to look like I knew what I was doing.  And what I knew for certain was that I was bad at art.  

But something happened when I grabbed the paintbrush.  There were no rules.  There was no goal or intended outcome.  It was liberating.  I grabbed every color on the floor and went for it.  I smashed paint, dribbled it, colored over it, squished it up and spread it out.  I stomped on my canvas and I caressed it.  I scribbled outside all the lines.  When I was done, something had let go.  I felt whole and satiated.

It was at that point, I realized the deep primal need to create and to express without rules.  I also recognized that I had been creating my whole life.  It just didn't look like art.  My favorite jobs were ones that I got to shape and build something.  I created programs out of scratch, I invented metric systems to evaluate intangibles, developed profiles for the right executives for new industries.  My beliefs about creative endeavors had been far too limited.  Everyone has a need to create.  As I went through the timeline of my life, I have been at my best and happiest when I've sparked something.  When I brought something to the world that was not there before.  When we create, we are liberated.  

"Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor.  It's a gift to the world and every being in it.  Don't cheat us of your contributions.  Give us what you've got."

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

If you are unsure how to begin, join us in for the Inner Wild Child Immersion this May.  (Sorry men, this time around is for women only)

Together We Rise and in Recognition of Men

It is an opportunity to hold each other towards all that is light inside of us, reminding each other of the best in us, carrying our friends, family, and communities towards greater heights.  

It is an opportunity to hold each other towards all that is light inside of us, reminding each other of the best in us, carrying our friends, family, and communities towards greater heights. 

(Note:  this blog was originally written in the final days of the election, before votes had been cast.  I had expected, despite the close race, that Hilary would win.  My hope is that all of the issues that plague our nation and have surfaced during the election continue to face scrutiny and lead to change.)

As the 2016 presidential election comes to a close, some things have become clear. 

It is a time to lift each other up.  Men and women together, lifting each other higher, bringing this generation of children on our ascent.  It is an opportunity to hold each other towards all that is light inside of us, reminding each other of the best in us, carrying our friends, family, and communities towards greater heights.  Because it is obvious, that we cannot rely on our systems and institutions to do this for us.  It will not come from our representatives across the nation.  While we wish that they could embody our greatest ideals for us, to carry that torch so that we can be inspired, it is not the way right now.  It is up to us.  This is a grassroots campaign of inspiration, aspiration and humanity.  

It is happening with women and race all over the country.  Voices are being heard and issues are being brought to the spotlight and scrutinized.  The light that is still in the shadow, is one I want to recognize.  That of the good men in our community.  Most of the men and boys I know are admirable.  They uphold the masculine, love their family, respect the women in their lives and are already part of this movement.  They are the antithesis of the campaign rhetoric around fear, hate and sexual debasement.  They are on the side of feminism.  They may be products of white privilege, but they can be and already are beacons of a shift; a global trend towards a more inclusive, better world.  A world that invites equality, compassion and mutual respect.

In celebration and in recognition of these men, in addition to my regular meditations, I'm hosting a one time men's meditation night on Monday, November 28, from 7-8pm in Pt. Loma.  If meditation has ever felt intimidating or inaccessible, this is the class to come to.