Because what we think we deserve is not enough.

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I wrote a piece for Postpartum Progress years ago about getting more help than you think you deserve. I wrote it as a love note to new moms, but I’m realizing that this mantra might apply to lots of other times in our life as well. (Like for me, now!)

Because what we think we deserve is not enough.
Because what we think we deserve is just the tiniest slice of what we actually need.

Because needing help, support, company doesn’t make you needy, it makes you human.

I’ve been practicing this lately and it’s vulnerable stuff. But honestly, I was in such a place of despair last week I really didn’t care. In addition to calling for support from my virtual community (oh my goodness. thank you) I also sent an email out to some local friends. It went something like this:

Hey sweet friends,

I’m not doing particularly well.

And I have the kids all weekend by myself.

I’m thinking having company would make a world of difference! If you have any pockets of time this weekend, or if your kids want to play, let me know.

XO

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And then a wash of shame came over me. And some thoughts: What’s your problem? Why are you so needy? Are you ever going to have your shit together? And I remembered that mantra again – Get more help than you think you deserve.

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And then there’s the other side… and I remember how honored I feel when a friend comes to me with the real deal of her life. How it feels like a blessing to be included and to be able to offer my support.

It’s intimacy.
It’s connection.
And that’s soul food for me. I’m guessing it’s soul food for you too.

So can we just make a little deal here?

Can we just declare right now that it’s okay to not have our shit together?
That it’s okay to feel lost.
Or lonely.
Or in need.

Let’s decide that it’s actually a gift to include others in our (sometimes messy) process. That by showing our own vulnerability, we make space for others to do the same. Let’s create that kind of world for ourselves, shall we?

Some years ago a friend of mine was telling me about an icky procedure she was going to have to do the next day at the hospital. “Do you want me to go with you?” I asked. Tears welled up in her eyes. “That would be so nice,” she said. “I didn’t know I could ask for that.”

And I LOVED being there for her. I felt so happy to be the person that got to give that gift. It was good. It was her medicine and it was also mine.

Yes. Yes. Yes to this.

We can ask for this.
We need to ask for this.

This is how we are going to survive the messiness of life. This is how we are going to thrive.

We stay connected. We stay real. We stop pretending. We tell the truth.

When we do this, we are shining a light in the dark places for each other. When we offer the light of our heart, our attention and our compassion we help each other move through to the other side.

And when YOU decide to be the brave one, the one that reaches out first… you give your loved ones permission to do it the next time. You create a loop of mutual support + connection that will not only feed you, but save your sanity. This is a crazy ride folks. We need each other. Let’s be brave together.

 

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P.S. Ready to do some Brave Blogging with me? The class begins on September 5th. More details here.

 

The alchemy of grief

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When I saw those words in my calendar – Grief workshop 10am-6pm – I thought “What the heck was I thinking when I signed up for that??!” And then I thought, I don’t have anything big to grieve anyway. I will feel like an imposter. 

But a few beats later, I remembered: Your marriage. You need to grieve the death of your marriage.
Oh yeah, that.

We do so much to distract ourselves from loss. We get busy. We numb. We hang out on social media, so we don’t have to feel our sorrow. Our aloneness.

As I walked into the meditation center where the workshop would be held, I felt it begin to bubble up in my chest… and the tears began to pool in my eyes. It was as if my body was already thanking me – thank you for inviting me to the party. Thank you for putting your attention on me. I never get invited to the party!

And I found myself so grateful that I had finally been invited to inhabit and express my sorrow somewhere. There was something to do with it other than suppress it or contain it.

Francis Weller writes and speaks beautifully about grief. I’ve watched this talk over and over again. (Watch the whole thing. It’s life-changing) He talks about the extent to which we can carve out space for our sorrow is the extent to which we can make space to feel joy. He talks about how we have become a flatline culture – with a narrow range of what we’re allowed to feel. He talks about coming together in community to grieve as part of our “soul hygiene.” That to “speak of sorrow works upon it.”

He spoke about how we have undigested sorrows… and that grief is a capacity we can build, a skill that we can strengthen. It requires courage and vulnerability. It requires a willingness to be with things as they are.

He says: “Grief might be the remedy that heals us. Grief is wild. It’s feral. And when we touch it, we are alive.

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There were about 70 people in the room and we began drumming and singing. I was amazed by the beauty of all the voices (just regular people singing, young and old) and how it sounded like the most exquisite church choir.

We broke out into small groups to share and did several powerful writing assignments using prompts like: I remember.. I wish someone would ask me… and my real grief is… 

Then the ritual began.

We had all brought special things to put on the altar – photographs, flowers, rocks, anything that felt sacred. And while the whole community sang a kind of mantra (putting us in a kind of meditative trance) we each went to the altar to grieve. You could do whatever felt right up there – shout, cry, be silent – while the rest of us held space for you. When you came back you were received by the community with hugs and loving attention.

The alchemy of this process was palpable. You felt transformed by it.

Francis spoke beautifully about how it was an alchemical process – “how bringing some heat to it transmutes it into medicine. We feed the fire with our attention, our compassion, our curiosity and our affection.”

It’s taken me months to write about this, but as I ride new waves of grief, I needed to remind myself again.

That by bringing our sorrow into the light we have the opportunity to heal.
That by bringing loving attention and compassion to it, it softens and changes in our hearts.
That by taking it out of the shadows and into community (even just another person) it becomes an offering of healing for all of us.

Thank you for being part of my loving community that helps witness my process – my joys and my sorrows. I believe we are all lifted up by this energy and I’m so grateful.

 

Into the Mystic: Last day to register at early bird price + video!

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Dear Super-friends!

I’m so excited to share with you about my upcoming new class with my dear friend + inspirer Laurel Bleadon-Maffei.
For the last few years we’ve contemplated creating something that blends our super powers together. We weren’t quite sure what it would be, but then a few weeks ago we received the inspiration for Into the Mystic, a 30-day adventure to help you bring even more magic, joy and enchantment into your life.
We made this video to share a bit more about it. We had some technical challenges though, so the audio isn’t synced, but we decided to send it your way anyway to give you a sense of the vibe of the class.
We’ve also extended the early registration discount through thisWednesday, August 3rd!
Into the Mystic will explore four aspects of a magical life. We believe that when you energize these four aspects, you will bring more enchantment, joy and vibrancy into your life.

The Authentic You

  • You are a Big Beautiful Soul. There is wisdom, creativity, and magic within you. It’s not something you need to learn. It is within YOU already.  We are going to help you unlock even more of your awesomeness.

Magic + Angels

  • You are a mystical magical being. You are wise beyond measure. You have a posse of angels who love and support you. We’re going to help you deepen in your soulful connection with the mystical goodness that is here for you.

Wild Creativity

  • You ARE creative. Yes you! So many of us lose touch with our creative spark as we leave childhood behind. But we believe there is a wild creative spirit within you and when you tap into it, you unleash more of your soul..

Magical Manifesting

  • You are connected with the magic of the Universe. When you infuse your creations with this metaphoric fairy dust and light, miracles are possible.
In this course, you will get:
  • A gorgeous workbook full of exercises, worksheets, printables and other goodies
  • LIVE weekly calls with Laurel + Andrea (if you can’t make the live calls, they will be recorded for you)
  • 30 days of learning + sharing in a loving community
 

Here are the details in one place:

Begins: Monday, August 8th, 2016
Dates for Live Calls: Tuesdays 8/9, 8/16, 8/30 and 9/6
(no live call on 8/23)*
Time: 10 am PT (1 pm ET, 12 pm CT)
Price: $159 $99 (Early Bird Registration available through 8/3/16)
*All calls will be recorded so if you cannot attend live, you can listen at your convenience.

Oh my goodness. You all blew me away this week.

Wow.

I sent a call out this week for metaphorical doulas… stories, kind words of support and encouragement to help me across this incredibly hard threshold in my life. I am so honored and blown away by your responses – your blog comments, your wisdom, your love-soaked emails. Oh my goodness. Thank you.

You burst my heart wide open.

And I cried for the rest of the day. Not out of fear or sadness, but out of the pure joy of being connected.

Thank you for you reflecting my spirit back to me.
Thank you for reminding me of all the kindness + goodness in the world.
Thank you for the understanding that we are never alone in whatever we are going through- that we are all just walking each other home.

An unexpected serendipity happened that day as well.

One of my oldest friends (who I consider part of my soul family) immediately called when he saw the post in his inbox. I burst into tears as I answered the phone (we haven’t seen each other for almost 10 years) and it happened that he was flying into SF the next morning.

We met the next day for lunch and as I sat down, he placed the following pieces of paper in front of me:

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There were a few more pages… and he instructed me to check all the boxes that felt right to me.

It was one of the kindest possible things.

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Big heart-full of love thank you to all of you for being a part of my community. I am wowed by you and feel so grateful for each and every one of you.

XO Andrea

P.S. You will be getting another missive from me today with a video describing my upcoming class – Into the Mystic. Excited to share that with you!

Crossing the threshold. Calling in the doulas.

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I don’t want to tell you about the rage I felt this morning, how I feel so close to the bone these days that sometimes I’m just a little nub of a thing. I don’t want to talk about the electric current of fear that shoots through my body at 3 a.m. each morning and how I have to talk myself down to sleep again. I don’t want to talk about how being a grown-up feels really hard right now and I wonder if I’m up to the task.

This season of grief looks like that these days – moments of touching into despair and feeling how unsettled and afraid I feel about creating my new life.

Last week I was hiking by myself and the tears started to burn my eyes. I began to cry, then sob. And when others passed me on the trail I would try to hold it together til they went by.

I thought of my friend SARK who, in the wake of losing her beloved partner this year, has been “grieving deeply and living wildly” and I remembered her advice from a conversation we had a few weeks ago. I called her in a mess of tears + she encouraged me to go there completely, to feel it fully, even exaggerate it. She said: 

“The fear is that the grief will swallow you up, that you’ll stay there forever. But the truth is, if you let yourself feel it fully, you’ll get bored at some point and think – Okay, now let’s go have a sandwich.

And so I was in and out of those feelings all day long – letting myself feel the layers of fear. Feeling  untethered in the world. Feeling like I’m not strong enough for any of it.

And then it passed.

I’ve been likening the process of divorce at times to childbirth – except that I’m giving birth to a new self, a new life.

And this season feels like the transition period in labor. For childbirth, transition is the storm before the calm. (Believe it or not, the pushing phase is considered the calm) It’s the moment when it’s so painful and difficult you lose all hope. It’s the moment when you feel like you’re sure you’re not strong enough, you’re not made for this, and you find yourself shouting “Just take this baby out of me! I can’t do it!” Or “Just give me the drugs!” Or even thinking that this whole having-a-baby thing was a really bad idea. 

It’s the moment when you need the most support and encouragement because (excuse my French) you are fucking exhausted. And the thought of doing it for even one more minute sounds impossible.

But you can’t go back now. It’s all in forward motion and his baby is coming out.

Somehow.

Transition can go on for hours, and feel like a freaking eternity. There are doulas, and nurses, and partners to help, but ultimately it’s your work.

Have you ever been in a season like this?

I could use your encouragement right now. Calling in my metaphorical doulas!

You know who you are.