Category Archives: Courage

The only safe place to go.

I’ve been flatlining for months – exhausted, crawling into bed at 2pm each day, wondering where all my energy has gone. I listen to the news and it’s full of vitriol and hate. Bombs. Shootings. More hate. I can hardly listen without going into a sort of trauma response. And so I turn off the radio, close the shutters on my heart, afraid to take any of it in, lest it take me down.

And then yesterday, in the dentist chair, the dam broke.

It’s not unusual for me to cry at the dentist. Something about lying on your back, mouth splayed, strangers peering inside with metal tools. I can’t think of anything more vulnerable.

“I’m sorry I keep crying,” I told the dentist. “You can do your work. It’s just really vulnerable to be in this chair. I can steel myself and try not to feel it, or drug myself out of it, but here it is.”

“I’m exactly the same as you when I have to get work done,” she replied and handed me a Kleenex and a blanket. Then she asked me if I wanted Cat Stevens or Krishna Das on the stereo. (It’s Berkeley after all!)

It was almost 2 hours in the chair- a lot of drilling and numbing and cotton, the smell of burning god knows what… fists clenched. This is suffering I thought. And I remembered the practice I learned from Kristin Neff. First, you recognize the moment as a moment of suffering. (This is suffering) Then you remind yourself that suffering is a part of life. That everyone suffers. (You haven’t done anything wrong, nor are you being punished) And in that moment you become connected to the suffering of others. You become connected to an entire human race that suffers each and every day. This is not meant to bring you down. It’s a reminder of our shared humanity. And for me, in that moment, it was a reminder of the pain in our world that I have been trying to keep at arms’s length.

Sometimes allowing a little crack in the armor- to allow ourselves to feel – also means feeling so many more layers. This might be why we avoid it. We numb ourselves with screens and work, alcohol and weed, Facebook and Instagram, busy busy. Because if we even felt into the edges of our grief, it might unleash something unmanageable, like a tidal wave of pain that we would never recover from.

This is the fear. But it’s not how it works.

There is a great story that Frank Ostaseski shared on my podcast. He is the buddhist teacher who created Zen Hospice and mentors caregivers in offering compassionate end of life care. He also wrote one of my favorite books – The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully. Frank was once giving a talk on the topic of moving toward what’s difficult and a man in the audience remarked, “It’s like telephone poles!” Confused, Frank asked him to explain:

I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. “Telephone poles? What do you mean?” I asked.

He explained that he once had a job installing telephone poles. “They’re hard and heavy, standing up to forty feet high.” There was a critical moment after you placed a pole in the ground, he said, when a pole was unstable and might topple over. “If it hit you, it could break your back.”

His first day on the job, the man turned to his partner and said, “If this pole starts to fall, I’m running like hell.”

But the old-timer replied, “Nope, you don’t want to do that. If that pole starts to fall, you want to go right up to it. You want to get real close and put your hands on the pole. It’s the only safe place to be.”

It’s counter-intuitive, but moving toward what’s difficult, being willing to feel it, is in the end the only safe place to go.

Yesterday, I had an impromptu session with my friend Laurel Bleadon-Maffei. I mentioned the synagogue in Pittsburgh and the floodgates of tears opened. “What’s the feeling inside the grief?” she asked. I thought for a moment. “Like we’re outnumbered,” I replied. “Like there is too much hate, ignorance and unconsciousness for us to stand a chance.”

This is the place of despair I’d been trying to avoid. A kind of collapse. Defeat is a familiar place for me to go. It’s hard for me to find my fight.

I’ve been doing EMDR lately. If you’ve ever experienced it, you probably know a bit about its magic. It’s a way to work with traumatic events, anxiety and other issues with the most astounding transformational effects. With the therapist I’ve been working with, I hold two small buzzers (one in each palm) that alternately vibrate in a soothing and rhythmic way. This stimulates both sides of the brain and (I believe) allows you to process more three-dimensionally.

During one of my sessions a few weeks ago, I placed myself in a scene from my childhood that was particularly charged. I watched the scene as I held these little buzzers in my hands. After a few minutes, my body began to jerk in a way I couldn’t control. “My body keeps jerking!” I said to the therapist, a little alarmed. “See what it’s trying to tell you,” she replied.

My shoulders moved forward and my chest caved in over and over again. Then I heard the words in my mind… “This is recoiling. It’s fear, disgust, terror.” I sat with it while tears streamed down my cheeks. Then something extraordinary happened.

An enormous woman with wings swooped down, like a goddess or an angel or a Renaissance painting. “Oh my god,” I said aloud. “The feminine just came in.” I don’t normally express myself this way. I rarely talk about the sacred feminine or have even fully understood the concept until this moment. But this was her.

In the vision, she wrapped my little girl self in a blanket, looked me in the eyes and said, “I’ve got you.” Then she took her gigantic hand and pointed at the person I was with who had created all that terror in me. “NO!” she boomed.

One word. No. And she carried me away.

I was stunned. And opened my eyes. “I felt her Andrea,” the therapist said. “She filled this entire room.”

I can’t remember why I am telling you all of this. Perhaps because we are all suffering as a collective, we are afraid, feeling vulnerable, trapped in a world that doesn’t feel kind or charitable. We are in our own kind of recoiling – in disgust, fear and horror.

And maybe that’s what’s needed right now. That fierce, powerful feminine to come in for us as a collective whole. To gather us up, look us in the eyes and say, I’ve got you. To point a finger to the oppressor and say “No. No more.” 

We also need the sacred masculine, defined here as:

Each of us carries within us aspects of both the sacred masculine and the sacred feminine. The true masculine is characterized by confidence without arrogance; rational thinking without a need to control; honor without a desire for war. It provides stability, strength, and courage in an ever-shifting world.

Through all these experiences – the dentists chair, talking with my friend, the EMDR – I am learning that when we open to our discomfort in a conscious way, it has the opportunity to move, to shape-shift, to instruct.

We discover resources we didn’t know we had.
We can move from flat-line mode to feeling alive again.
Creative solutions arise that would otherwise not have found a way in.

Maybe this is the best we can do right now. To show up fully and consciously for what we are all facing. To practice this kind of moving toward what hurts… not to collapse in defeat, but with the fierce love and nurture of the feminine alongside the stable strength and confidence of the sacred masculine.

 

 

The learning cycle + the messy middle.

When I started my coaching training back in 2006, they presented us with the learning cycle you see above. Basically, you start off not knowing everything you don’t know. (You know that saying, I thought I was a pretty good parent until I had kids? Kind of like that)

As you learn more about a subject, you become aware of everything you don’t know about it. This is when it becomes SO much more interesting! or frustrating as the case may be. We can be painfully aware of what we don’t know.

The good news is that if we keep going, we start achieving some mastery and competence… and then finally move into the zone where we aren’t even aware of all we know – it’s just second nature!

I’ve been thinking about this in regard to relationships lately.

  • I’m learning to stay aligned with my highest vision for relationship.

  • I’m learning to say no to what isn’t in line with that vision.

  • I’m learning to name feelings that I would normally have called “attraction” to naming them activation… which means that my nervous system is activated by this person. (It doesn’t mean this person is right for me. It might mean they are simply lighting up my wounded parts because they feel familiar.) I am learning to move more slowly and be more discerning.

  • I’m learning to make choices from the most grown up, self-loving part of me… the part of me that knows that I’m lovable, amazing and worthy of being adored.

That all sounds good, right? Except for the humbling process of now being aware of all the ways I can still betray myself! When I didn’t know (unconscious incompetence) I didn’t have to take responsibility. I could blame others. I could make up stories like, all the good ones are taken. That sort of thing. As I move along the learning cycle, I am finding my power. I am taking responsibility in a new way. And I am willing to be uncomfortable to be in the process because I know I am trucking along that curve!

This applies to any growing edge we are exploring in our lives – setting boundaries, being mindful, looking at our money.

What is your learning/growing edge these days?

It can feel like things get worse before they get better – mostly because we are finally aware of what we are learning. (My mentor and friend SARK calls this The Messy Middle) But here’s the good news: If you are experiencing the humbling discomfort of learning, it means you’re in the game. You’re in the arena. You’re doing the work. And I am here to high-five you today. Because it takes courage to do the work.

And did I mention you’re not alone? You are most definitely, not alone.

My form of spiritual bypass – magical thinking.


If you have taken Mondo Beyondo, you know that one way we prepare for our dreams to come our way is to make a clearing. A clearing is a wide open space that tells the Universe you mean business. It is a space that you make in your heart, mind + home for the dreams you would like to manifest.

Even though I have been teaching this course for years, I forget how important this step is. Clearings can be anything from a de-cluttered closet to clearing your schedule for the weekend. It could be learning to set good boundaries (and saying no to activities that drain you) or having a big garage sale.

This summer has been a season of clearing. Big time.

Usually, when I make a clearing, it’s about de-cluttering, getting rid of the dust bunnies and getting all the schmutzy fingerprints off the walls. It’s going through the junk drawers and letting go of toys and clothing we don’t need.

This time though, my clearing looked a little different.

This time I needed to ask myself: What have I been afraid to look at that’s been getting in the way of my dreams coming true? The answer came immediately – money.

This was the thing I was most afraid of going into single motherhood.
I live in the Bay Area.
I’m an artist.
How the heck was this all going to work out?

And so I did a form of spiritual bypassmagical thinking.

For me, this looked like saying things to myself like: It always works out. You always figure it out. You’ll just earn more to make up for your new expenses.

As a mindset, this is actually totally reasonable! And on some level, absolutely true.

But without looking at the numbers, without creating a solid plan, my magical thinking could only get me so far. After two years, my little ship seemed to be sinking… so I called in an old photography client who is a financial advisor. As I told her my story + admitted how afraid and lost I was, I began to cry. It was the shame of putting it all out there, it was the admission of a kind of defeat, it was the vulnerability of asking for help.

She responded,”Oh Andrea, first of all, I’m so sorry. Second of all, we’re going get you through this. And you’re going to thrive.”

Through my tears, I heard one word that went straight to my heart – we. That little word assured me I had an ally in this lonely place – someone who had expertise, experience and lots of compassion.

Since then, I’ve been going through my numbers with a fine-tooth comb and really understanding where where my money is going. I’ve been looking at my numbing behaviors – media and the like – and noticing what my triggers are. (Loneliness, fear of big swaths of time without my kids, etc.)

I even created a gigantic post-it note that I see each day that details each credit card where I owe money + each place money is flowing in so that I am conscious of where I am. Each time I knock off a bit of debt it is so satisfying to cross the number off in black Sharpie and write a new one!

Mostly though, it’s bravely putting my attention on things that I’m not always comfortable looking at… seeing where I’ve been hiding + putting my head in the sand.

And here’s the best news: I’ve been feeling less afraid + more powerful.

Working with the truth has its own magic. Whatever you are hiding from, whatever truth is hard for you to face, is draining your energy. Looking at it with courage (and support) has a way of diffusing its power over you.

 

If you’re thinking about taking Mondo Beyondo, we start tomorrow! Even if you don’t take the course, consider making a clearing now. I am already feeling the transformation peeps!

P.S. If you are a Mondo Beyondo alumni, you qualify for the alumni rate! Just hit reply for the coupon code!

 

I’ve been afraid to share this.

And there was a new voice
Which you slowly
Recognized as your own,
That kept you company
-Mary Oliver, from the poem The Journey

It happened the other day on the phone with Kaiser. We had scheduled some sort of psych evaluation after I had requested therapy – EMDR to be exact.

When we got on the phone, I explained that I had a sort of backlog of trauma that I wanted to address – from childhood sexual abuse, to my son’s seizure disorder, to an incident that happened only a few months ago – a date gone awry, a scary man, fleeing his home in the middle of the night.

“I’m a mom,” I explained. “The show must go on. I haven’t had the time or resources to process this and I know EMDR does wonders. I would love to find someone who does that.”

She asked me the standard questions – Are you thinking of harming yourself or anyone else? Are you eating? Are you sleeping? That sort of thing. After the interview she said, “Well, I’ve determined that you don’t need therapy, but you could come to our resource center and take one of our classes. How’s that sound?”

I was aghast. My jaw might have dropped. And then my voice (the most fierce and self-loving voice I hardly recognized) came through. “Honestly?” I began. “This feels unacceptable. I just told you about a history of abuse and trauma and that just weeks ago I fled from a sexual assault and you don’t think I qualify to have therapy? I’ve been with Kaiser for 7 years. I’ve gone through having small children, a panic disorder and a divorce. Up until now I’ve never called you to book therapy. And today, when I finally ask for help, you tell me that I don’t qualify? That it’s not bad enough?”

By this time, I’m crying on the phone. “I’m a very contained person. I know how to talk about this stuff and sound like I’m okay. But let me just tell you, I’m NOT okay.”

She thanked me.
She told me she was glad I spoke up.
And then she booked me an appointment with someone who does EMDR.

I’m sharing this for a few reasons: One, because this is a victory around voice for me personally. This is the culmination of a lifetime of work around loving myself. This is a symptom of progress! This is also about claiming my power. I haven’t known how to advocate for myself. This was a first.

Perhaps more importantly, this is reflective of a culture that tells women, “It’s not that bad. Why are you being a drama queen? You’re just trying to get attention. At least he didn’t…”

These messages are designed to keep us quiet.

It was a small thing really – advocating for my right to get support, to know that I’m suffering and to get help. But it’s also HUGE. I couldn’t do this as a child. It wasn’t safe. I didn’t know how to speak my truth. I didn’t think anyone would believe me. So I turned all that grief inward. And it became depression, anxiety and despair.

I’m still afraid people won’t believe me. I’m afraid, even as I write this, that you will roll your eyes in a gesture of “well isn’t she dramatic…”

But this is what we have been trained to do. To do to each other… and ultimately to ourselves.

I’m sharing this because our stories matter. And somehow, me finding my voice has everything to do with you finding yours too.

When I was at Spirit Rock meditation center recently, the woman giving the talk had us come up with intentions – things we wanted to focus on and cultivate in ourselves. “What about power?” she began. “I often ask my clients this and they say, no, no power isn’t important to me. But that’s because we think of power as power over others… but that’s not real power. That’s fear. We need good people with power more than ever now. Power and goodness.”

Power has become one of my daily words of intention now. And it’s the fierce, loving kind of power:

The kind of power that protects.
The kind of power that tells the truth.
The kind of power that is clear and strong and brave.

Sometimes power is ruffling feathers – it’s choosing being self-loving and protecting over needing to be perceived as nice.

Goodness and power. Side by side.

 

Do you have a secret project in you?

We all have secret dreams. Secret little (or big!) projects that no one is waiting for, that we wonder if we are crazy to imagine, that we talk ourselves out of on the regular.

It’s that book that’s been stirring in your heart, that blog you’ve been wanting to be faithful to, the podcast idea, the e-course, the paintings you want to make into greeting cards…

What is your secret project?

Maybe you haven’t even spoken it aloud.
Maybe you initially shared it with the wrong person!
Maybe you need a safe place to get the nurturing, support and love that project needs. Maybe you just have no idea how to begin!

Earlier this year, I started a tiny project mastermind or a group of totally delightful creative women. We all have different projects (myself included!) + we met on video every week to check in, to share, to break through the stuck places, to celebrate. It was the best part of my week.

That group will be continuing! But I’d like to create a new circle + include YOU as well.

Sessions begin Friday, September 7th, 2018 at 10am PST

Fridays for 6 weeks: 9/7, 9/21, 9/28, 10/5, 10/12, 10/19
Time: 10am -11:15pm PST
Investment: $350-

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not so much a course as a way to get support + accountability and advice around our respective projects – ie. blogs, books, podcasts, e-courses. We will do some writing together + sharing.

I want us to have a space to create MOVEMENT and flow around whatever little seed of a dream is stirring in our hearts. To not wait. To be supported in beginning and have a place to keep celebrating the process and encouragement to keep going. Still sound good?

If so, click the link below:

Big hugs + love to each of you,
A
P.S. Not sure I mentioned, but these masterminds are tiny… 3-5 women in each pod with me. You will get a lot of coaching + attention + clarity for your project. These spots will likely go fast! So let me know if you have any questions…

This is how it turned out.

It’s tempting to be in fantasy about someday. That fuzzy, happy-ever-after when you get the job, the romantic partner, the family. The bank account is full of dough, the house is just right, you are slim and trim + know how to pick perfect avocados.

You know, when things finally turn out.

Even though my Disney fantasies of partnership and marriage have pretty well broken down, I still have some version of this someday fantasy in me. When I finally feel loved and seen, when I feel safe, when I can stand on solid ground and this ambient anxiety will go away, when my person, my true love arrives.

I still harbor the tiniest bit of hope for that.

And yet.

I do a little thought experiment sometimes and ask myself, “If you knew you were going to die in five years, then what?” Suddenly everything comes into focus – the life I actually have, the house I live in, my gorgeous kids, the relationships and friendships and love around me – THIS is how it turned out. This is that someday. The someday I fantasized about decades ago!

This is it.
It’s not perfect.
It’s ever-changing.
There are highs and lows.
But THIS is how it is.

Lao Tzu says it so beautifully below. (He wrote this poem in the 6th century. Apparently, we haven’t changed much!)

Always we hope
someone else has the answer,
some other place will be better,
some other time,
it will turn out.

This is it.
No one else has the answer,
no other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.

At the center of your being,
you have the answer:
you know who you are and
you know what you want.

There is no need to run outside
for better seeing,
nor to peer from a window.

Rather abide at the center of your being:
for the more you leave it,
the less you learn.

Search your heart and see
the way to do is to be.
Abide at the center of your being.
— Lao Tzu

This is how it turned out: Me, typing in my friend’s living room in Oakland, the sun shining outside, heading to San Francisco for a photo session later. My kids, at their dad’s house, safe, going for a swim at the rec center this afternoon.

If your this-is-how-it-turned-out reality today feels too harsh, here’s another buddhist saying that gets right to the point: Right now, it’s like this.

This one is great to practice with because it is an invitation back into the present moment. It honors the impermanence of things (our ever-changing reality) and also that this too shall pass (the good and the bad).

How do we have our desire for things to be better/different and also honor what is?

That’s the million dollar question. And it takes practice! Lao Tzu instructs us to abide at the center of our being, which is to say, speak and act in alignment with your true self, your heart, your inner wisdom… this is the path that will get you where you need to go.

 

Tooting our own horn + the concept of mudita*

One of my favorite words in the world is mudita… It is a Sanskrit word that means sympathetic joy or vicarious joy.

It’s the genuine pleasure we get from celebrating others.
It’s the deep joy we experience when someone we love is happy.
It’s the vicarious joy that arises when someone shares about something great in their life.

As an example, imagine a big fluffy dog that just arrives at the beach. Can you imagine the glee with which they run toward the water and all over the sand? Did the mere thought just bring a smile to your face? This is mudita. Isn’t it wonderful?

Recently, a friend prefaced her share with, “Not to toot my own horn but…” and then went on to talk about something totally wonderful that happened to her! We have grown up thinking that it’s impolite to share about our successes and victories. Women especially. We feel that we need to dim down, not get too big for our britches, not brag... or people won’t like us.

This might keep us safe, but it also keeps us small.

This is one of my biggest core wounds. You know how it goes. My two best friends turning against me in grade school very suddenly in a one-day-you’re-in-the-next-day-you’re-out kind of abruptness. Without any explanation, I was left to come up with my own – Don’t shine too bright or people will hate you. They will turn against you. Stay small.

Ugh. It’s hard to write these words. My inner critic is having a field day – Are we not over this yet???!! That happened in the 5th grade! Are we still talking about this??

Apparently we are. Ha!

But back to mudita. Cultivating mudita is a buddhist practice… it grows our compassion, it opens our hearts, it leads to wisdom.

I actually love it when people toot their own horn. They/you should do it more often. I want everyone to toot away! I want you to toot right now. Let’s create a culture of mudita where we delight in each other’s happiness. Where we celebrate each other’s success. Where your joy is my joy and your success is mine too. Let’s inspire each other + lift each other up, shall we?

Tell me, what small or large thing are you celebrating right now? What are you proud of?

I’ll start. One of my photographs was in a fancy pants magazine this month!! Lapham’s Quarterly!

I’m also very proud of my most recent work in black + white. I’ve been breaking some new ground with my portrait sessions and feeling excited and inspired! Toot! 🙂

What are you proud of friends? Could be anything – personal or professional. It all counts.

Creative practices save me.

We have a choice (moment to moment) about where we put our attention.

This doesn’t mean that we deny the pain + suffering that’s happening in the world (or in ourselves). These things are very real. This isn’t about pushing away what we don’t want to see, but about making conscious choices about where we put our attention – do we tend our fears or grow our joy?

When you’re a sensitive creature (like me + probably you too?) you can get really swallowed up. Just going to the news + social media sites each morning, I can feel myself armoring up for the assault on my system. What’s happened today? What new tragedy, betrayal, political firestorm… I try to let in what I can let in + be in action where I can be in action… but holy smokes. It’s a lot.

What I know (as someone who ebbs and flows with depression and anxiety) is that creative practices save me.

They save me by reminding me of my own light.
They remind me of the beauty in the world.
They keep me calibrated. Buoyant. They keep me connected to my truth.
They help me turn my attention toward the goodness.

I practice these things in my micro-world so that I can show up and be a certain kind of person in the macro. My intention is to be a bright light in my community and be a force of healing and good. It does not do anyone any good for me to get swallowed up by the news and crawl into bed feeling helpless. Or collapse into a what’s-the-point-it’s-all-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket... which I definitely feel sometimes.

And so I practice. I practice strengthening my joy muscles.

The practice really started with me carrying my camera every day + and getting more present – What’s interesting about this moment? What’s beautiful? What’s the light doing? What are the juxtapositions of color that I can see right now? Ooooooohhh…. look at those lemons against that blue sky. Click. Click. That’s so beautiful… and my energy would slowly shift.

These little photo safaris became like medicine for me.

And we always offer the medicine that we most need. 

And so… I offer the medicine of these creative practices + waking up to beauty because that’s what feeds me and nourishes me and I want to share it. That’s why I’m here and why I do this work.

I focus on photo classes because they are so accessible and easy! We all have our little phones with us and can take 10 minutes each day to remember that there is another reality that lives in real time alongside our default one.

The camera becomes this wonderful little tool for our joy + well-being. Let’s amplify our joy together.

$49 Class begins this Monday, July 30th, 2018

Hit reply if you have any questions! It would be great to have you.

 

What does it cost us when we hide?

I got quiet over the last several years. Separation, divorce, dating… suddenly my stories were not just my own but intertwined with others in very real ways. I wasn’t sure what I could share anymore. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Everything felt too private + I was afraid of being judged. Aside from my weekly writing group, I stopped writing entirely.

This has been a huge loss to my spirit.

There’s a price we pay when we hide, when we cut off our voices, when we stop sharing our truth (even to ourselves). My joy has suffered for it.

I did this most of my life. Kept my opinions to myself, only said what I thought others wanted to hear, was polite and didn’t make waves. It’s a good survival strategy – one that can keep you safe. And for a long time, that’s all I really wanted.

It was through art that I finally found my voice again. I painted and made jewelry and took photographs and it was joyous to find this other language for my heart to speak. With visual art, no one could tell me I was wrong or silence me… it was just my expression. A language all my own.

Writing has been a different edge. It takes much bigger courage for me to share this way, especially when I am out of practice. But I am coming out of hiding! Peeking my head out of the covers because I know my spirit is hungry for it. Starved for it in fact.

What does it cost us when we trade our truth/our voice/our creative expression for safety?

Aliveness, connection, joy.

For me, it also means feeling alone in the world. Not lonely exactly, but alone in my experiences. All those years of sharing so openly with my community here reminded me that we are all suffering in similar ways. We all hunger for the same things. We all want to feel seen. We all want to feel connected to each other.

It takes courage to lay the words down, to share our art, to push publish. Our ego will try to shut it down – This is crap. What can you possibly say that hasn’t been said? No one’s going to read it anyway.

And yet. The impulse is still there. The hunger to connect, to share what’s in our hearts, to be of service in some small way. The hope that if one person is touched, it will be worth it.

So here I am, sharing the tiniest window into my heart. Baby steps. Inviting you to stick with me for a while and create this gorgeous little community anew.

And because I always like to offer a question back to you: Can you think of a time when you were hiding? What happened? What did it cost you?

What’s Jazzercise got to do with it?

I went to Jazzercise with a friend last week. When she asked me, I thought about the last time I did it – circa 1982 – and the fond memories of doing the grapevine across the floor of a grange hall in Santa Cruz. But all these years later, I was nervous. It was a relief to notice that almost everyone in the room was much older than me (phew!) but of course, that did not stop them. They were whooping and moving so fast, I could hardly keep up! I felt awkward and out of place. I didn’t know the steps, I was sweating way too much. I forgot to bring water. My out-of-shape body wouldn’t comply. I just wanted to hide, or quit.

But here’s what happened next.

I noticed a trans woman in the middle of the room. She was wearing a full on Jane Fonda style Jazzercise outfit – complete with a leotard, headband, leg warmers and jazz shoes. She looked ah-mazing! And I thought, Dang! If she can be that brave, I think I can handle fumbling around a little bit in this church…

This has everything to do with whatever brave adventure you are on. Maybe you are trying to find love. Maybe you are getting your creative voice out there. Maybe you are a new parent or searching for a job that aligns better with your spirit.

It’s scary to put ourselves out there.
It’s frustrating to look around when it seems everyone else has figured it out and we haven’t.
It’s hard to fumble about and not know the moves.

It takes courage to do new things.

As I usher a group of amazing women through my Conscious Dating course, I can feel the edges and resistance – theirs and my own.

This note is a little love letter to that scared part of you. The one that feels like the whole world is watching. That is afraid to be visible. That is afraid you don’t belong. That you’re somehow doing it wrong and everyone else is in perfect step…

And when we practice courage in one area of our life, we can use those stronger muscles in areas that matter even more to us. We increase our capacity to be uncomfortable, to be a beginner, to look a little silly and off key.

Where in your life can you practice courage? It will be in service to something even greater. I promise.