Category Archives: Courage

Pebbles in the river of motherhood.

As Ben lay his head down on the pillow, he said with unbridled excitement, “I can’t wait to get my white belt tomorrow!” I paused, “Ben, I don’t think they give out white belts the first day of class. Don’t get your hopes up, kay?” His face immediately crumbled and squished into a cry and tears pooled in his eyes. “I’m not talking to you!” he shouted. “You just ruined all my happiness!”

I didn’t mean to make him cry, I wanted to protect him. But when he said it, I knew it was true. I was ruining all of his happiness. His desire was pure and full of delight and I squashed it with the hammer of practicality, of don’t-get-your-hopes-up-kid.

“He is the enlightened one,” the psychic said. “He is the teacher. He’s going to say things that piss you off, but they will be true.”

Like that time when he was 3 and was going on about something 3-year-olds go on about, and I was nodding, “Mmm, hmmm….right honey… ” And maybe my voice was a little too sing-songy, a little too preschool marm, because he looked me square in the eyes and said, “Mom, when you talk to me like that it makes me feel like you’re not listening to me and like I’m a baby.”

At eleven, his truths are more advanced.

I stomped around the apartment the other day, angry, slamming cupboards, throwing dirty socks a little too violently into the hampers, muttering under my breath about how I always have to clean up everything on my own and how the boys need to step it up…

And there he was on his bed, shaking his head, tears streaming – “You’re just angry mom. And you need someone to blame. So you’re blaming us.”

Oy vey. The truth-speaker strikes again!

I am like a pebble in this river of motherhood and I am getting knocked and tumbled and polished – made softer and more beautiful (I hope) save for all of the pain and bruises of the tumble.

My own mother used to shout a lot – at salespersons at Nordstrom’s, cab drivers, servers at restaurants. My sister and I would hide in the clothing racks in the Brass Plum section, mortified. “Is there anyone here who can take my money??!!!!” she’d yell at the empty cash register. And when I had to face the salespeople later, I would smile at them apologetically, trying to gain their favor, attempting to disassociate myself from my mother and the “incident.”

I couldn’t imagine saying to my mother that she was angry, that she just needed someone to blame, but I’m sure I felt it. I preferred to stay buried inside those circular racks of blouses, invisible.

How to turn your flaws into your gold.

Is it possible that the things we consider flaws in ourselves can actually be our gifts? Is it possible that by embracing those places we try to suppress, hide from the world, feel ashamed by, we can alchemize them into something like a superpower? Could they actually be our gold?

For this alchemy to work, you first need to bring an open mind. Consider this a thought experiment, something to try on, not something to necessarily take home. You only get to take it home if it feels resonant, like an authentic YES for you. Otherwise, you get to let it go.

Ready? Let’s begin.

1.Choose a part of yourself you might be trying to fix. A perceived flaw. Something you try to hide from the world and feel embarrassed by. (You don’t have to pick the heaviest one, maybe start with something less charged)

2. Imagine how this part of you can be a gift. Literally, just use your imagination and riff on how this could be true, how this part of you is actually a gift. Make it up. Pretend. Act as if. And write for 5 minutes quickly.

3. Take it a step further. How is this piece of you actually your gold? How is this part of you essential in the work you do in the world? In the way you are of service? How is this piece of you JUST RIGHT?

Here are some examples:

One of my favorite coaching clients came to me with a lot of shame about how she didn’t want to be social, how she felt like she was always faking it, how she didn’t want to be out in the world in the way that the world was asking of her. She was feeling crabby about it.

“What if there’s nothing to fix about you?” I asked. “What if the truth (that you don’t want to leave your house much these days except for walks in nature) is neutral? What if there’s nothing wrong with you?”

There was a pause on the other end of the line. “Ohhhhh….” she said… and I could feel the wheels turning in her mind.

“What if you’re a radical introvert? Someone who needs a lot of quiet and time alone to fill yourself up. This is how you get energy and feel resourced for when you are out in the world.”

The idea that she was a radical introvert was a game changer. No shame. Totally neutral. And actually, maybe even something to celebrate.

What are the gifts in this? We mused together.

She is a writer. She is a reader. She has big capacity for stillness and contemplation. She wants to write a book and will be able to do this because she craves the time a writer needs to sit in the quiet with her thoughts and words.

She is also a wise and gentle being. (Especially when she gets what she needs from her radical introvert time!) She can be of service most when she nourishes herself this way. Her radical introversion is her GOLD. Not everyone can sit with their words/thoughts this way. She can.

Here’s another example:

My friend Mati Rose is an incredible artist and painting teacher. As we walked recently, I told her about this lesson. “Let’s try it out on you!” I suggested. “What part of you do you feel embarrassed about or try to hide?”

“Ugh. I’m disorganized. I’m messy. I feel like I gotta get my shit together. I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants all the time. I’m the opposite of Type A, I’m Type B! Whatever that is!”

“Okay,” I responded, “what are the gifts of being Type B?”

“Hmmm…. Well, I’m very spontaneous. We wouldn’t be taking this walk if I wasn’t spontaneous! (We had texted each other just minutes before we decided to meet) And it takes some willingness to be messy to do the work I do. To do abstract painting you have to be comfortable not knowing where you are going. You have to be willing to literally get messy, paint all over the place, to get somewhere interesting. You have to trust the mess, to trust the process, to get to something authentic.”

“What else? You’re doing great!” I cheered. “How is your Type B personality actually your gold?”

She got stuck there. Her inner critics started to creep in. So I told her what I saw:

“The process of creating is imperfect and messy. Your willingness to not be perfect gives your people so much space to be their real, human selves. You offer so much compassion to them because you know that the best work comes from when you are able to let go of doing it “right” and tolerate being the unknown/in the mess for a while. If you needed everything tied up in a bow all the time, you wouldn’t have any capacity for the intuitive painting process.

The ways you are Type B, make you a really safe place to try something new. It feels gentle and compassionate. True creativity is born from a place where you don’t know what’s going to happen. Your spontaneity is a gift in this way. You know that magic comes from not having it all figured out.”

Okay sweet friends. It’s your turn. Give it a shot and tell me what you discover in the comments!

P.S. This is the kind of lesson you will receive in the Conscious Girl’s Dating Circle. This would land squarely in the realm of self-compassion! By leaning into our authentic selves (and celebrating and loving all of our parts) we will more swiftly be attracting the right spirits into our lives.

Let’s date! I mean, let’s do it! 😉 And could you forward this note to anyone in your life you think could benefit from it?

I’ve been dating (mostly online) for the last few years and according to my friends, I am having a freakishly positive experience. I will be sharing lots of personal stories (juicy, tender + hilarious ones!) and creating a space where we can learn how to use our dating experiences to grow our courage, hone our intuition and cultivate more joy. In other words, there is a way to have dating be a delicious and meaningful end in and of itself and not just a means to an end.

You can find more details here! Class is $147, but enter the “EARLYGIRL” coupon code to get the course for $99

P.S.S. Off to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico today to teach photography! Follow me on Instagram + FB! I will be doing some serious color collecting + inspiration gathering there.

This is not about falling in love.

A tender little piece I wrote this week that sounded more like poetry than a blog post. So I dared myself to read it to you. xo

You’re gonna make it after all.

Yesterday, my friend Laurel and I taught a daylong manifesting workshop. The space was filled with really incredible women and we ushered them through a process of letting go of their 2017 (at times with tears for how hard this year was for so many of us) and welcoming and visioning 2018.

Because I co-led with Laurel (who is an angel practitioner) we also held an angel circle. This means that Laurel embodies a tribe of angels – Josephus and the Wisdom Council – and they speak through her. As she spoke, I realized that I had never actually witnessed Laurel (or anyone else) channel. All of my sessions with her (and there have been many!) have been on the phone, so it was such a treat to see her do her work in person. With her eyes closed, she fielded questions from participants and offered wise advice and energy clearing for all of us.

Most importantly (and what I love most about circles of women) is that the personal is almost always the universal. A question from an individual is a question for the collective. There wasn’t anything that someone asked that didn’t somehow feel relatable to my own life…

This morning, still filled with all that good energy from yesterday, I went on a little hike. I was listening to music (on random shuffle) as I walked and decided to ask the angels for some guidance. “Okay angel friends! Can you have the next song that comes on be a special message from you to me?”

At first I didn’t recognize the song that came on, but I started listening to the words.

Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?

It started to sound familiar, something from my childhood… Could it be? Oh my goodness, it is! It’s from the Mary Tyler Moore show! I laughed. How in god’s name did this get on my phone??? And then I listened to the words.

How will you make it on your own?
This world is awfully big, girl this time you’re all alone
This was the PRECISE anxiety I woke up with. A little electric current of fear: “Oh my goodness, I just bought a car. Will I be able to make payments and rent? Will I be able to take care of my kids? Oh my god oh my god, can I pull of this single mom thing??”
Your are most likely to succeed
You have the looks and charms
And girl you know that’s all you need
All the men around adore you
That sexy look will do wonders for you
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have the town, why don’t you take it?
You might just make it after all
You’re gonna make it after all
So yeah, the part about the looks and charm and sexiness is a little outdated (ha!) but the sentiment was so good it made me smile. Love is all around, no need to waste it! You can have a town, why don’t you take it? You’re gonna make it after all!

I felt like cheering or doing that Mary Tyler Moore hat-in-the-air toss as she arrives at her apartment building. Whether it was in fact the angels speaking to me or not didn’t matter. I had gotten my message. The one I most needed to hear today.

Want to try it? Do a little meditation where you ask the angels/Spirit/God/your higher self/your intuition for a secret message. Then randomly play a song and listen to the words.

What is your secret message in song?

The Cosmic Tube.

On Christmas Day, I woke up alone. I’m Jewish, so this isn’t quite as terrible as it sounds, but there was that feeling, that thud in my chest of Where are my children? How is it that I don’t get to see their sweet faces beaming and bursting as they open presents today? I imagined them tearing at the paper with glee, squealing as they removed each treasure from their stocking. I imagined them with their grandparents and cousins getting so much delicious attention, playing board games in their pajamas, eating pancakes.

Anyway, we have these moments right? Those moments when we take a mental inventory and judge how far we’ve come. How the heck did I get here? I never thought my life would look like this. What have I accomplished? How is it possible that I’m a single mom? This is so strange and not at all what I planned… 

I looked at my phone. Want to come downstairs and watch the girls open presents?  It was my sweet neighbor downstairs, a fellow single mama with two little girls. She gets it. She is the one who, when I am away on a trip and flying home, will turn on some lights in my apartment and put the heater on so that I don’t come home to a cold, empty house. Yeah, that kind of friend. 

Yes! I texted back smiling.

I came down and watched them open gifts. They cheered after every box was opened. I took in their pure delight – the perfect proxy – and it was so good. And the girls made me gifts as well- a friendship bracelet in oranges and purples and a gorgeous hand-knit square in ombre blues, perfect for my altar.

The last two Christmases I have gone on a hike in Tennessee Valley. You can guess from the photo why… a long, gorgeous walk to the ocean. You land at a wild little cove with roiling waves, not the kind of water you would dare swim in, but the kind you bow to. The power and beauty is massive and overwhelming. You feel small there, but in the best possible way. You feel held because it’s so clear that it’s not about you, that there is so much more, that there is an entire Universe that has big plans. I like being humbled this way.

I picked up a smooth, black stone and held it in my palm facing the water. May I let go of whatever stands in the way of love and flow. I chanted this to myself as I took a few steps toward the water. May I let go of whatever stands in the way of love and flow. Then I threw the rock and watched the waves swallow it up.


 

Do you remember those pneumatic tubes from way back when? Your parents would drive along the side of the bank and deposit a check into that tube and it would shoot straight up into the ether. I couldn’t ever figure out where exactly it went but I like to imagine it went up to the sky, to the clouds, to the world of magical things!

This is also how I like to imagine our dreams, our wishes, our intentions… like the one I made at the ocean. We write it, speak it, and then we let it go. We put it in the cosmic pneumatic tube and it shoots up into the Mystery. 

This is a nice visual for the way we invite magic to co-create with us, to dance with us. We don’t have to do it all alone. I repeat: We don’t have to do it all alone.

Is there something you want to put in the Tube for 2018?

Feel free to make a comment or hit reply and leave it here. I will gather all the wishes and send them up. Consider this your virtual portal into the World of Magic.

 

There’s a lot of love out there.

On my last day in Bali this May (after teaching a workshop) I let myself go for it and feel utterly sorry for myself. Tears poured down my face and into my tea. I was remembering that the year before (also when I was returning home from Bali) the man I had been dating hadn’t arranged to pick me up at the airport. In fact, he had made plans with a “new friend” and when I called him from arrivals he mentioned that maybe he might be free to see me the following week. The following week! after I had been gone for so long. Ouch. I put the phone down, cried on the curb, and waited for a Lyft driver to come get me.

“And now this time,” I wept to my new friend Michelle, “the guy I’m seeing doesn’t even know I’m coming home! He never even asked what day I arrive… what’s wrong with me?”

Then we discovered that we were actually arriving at SFO within 30 minutes of each other. “My boyfriend will pick us both up!” she exclaimed.

I felt grateful… and also awash in shame. I felt pathetic. Needy. Third wheel to her romantic airport reunion.

I found her man in arrivals before Michelle got through customs. He was dressed up, wearing a green button down shirt and a bright smile. “Are you E?” I asked. He beamed. “Yes!” and thrust a bouquet of sunflowers into my hands.

I burst into tears, totally caught off guard. “Thank you..” I choked as I hugged him. “No one should arrive home from such a long journey and not be met with flowers at the gate,” he told me. And then I couldn’t speak because I had to keep crying and so he put his arms around me while we waited for Michelle.

“There’s a lot of love out there!” a friend told me recently, after describing her very unsatisfying marriage, “and I intend to get it!” And I’ve thought of this a lot lately. There’s a lot of love out there…

Sometimes we think it needs to come from one particular person, or it doesn’t count if it comes from someone else’s boyfriend. But that love, the love in those sunflowers, from a man I’ve never met, went straight to my heart. His love for Michelle that made him want to do something kind for me… and in this way I got to have it too.

It’s my birthday today.

And there is some part of my mind that wants to tell me that things should be different. That my life should look a certain way. That love should be coming to me in a different form. That my life is broken. Or that I am.

But here’s the truth: I woke up today to a flurry of love notes on Facebook and even a tribute from my friend and mentor SARK. Friends and family called. My Wild Writing class (led by Laurie Wagner) will arrive at my house soon and we will tell our sacred stories. My house is warm and quiet and candlelit and surrounded by redwood trees. My girlfriends will make me dinner tonight and we’ll laugh and watch the finale of Project Runway.

There’s a lot of love out there indeed… but there’s also a lot of love in here now. Self-love has been showing up in so many ways lately. Today it’s in receiving all the kindness, all the love that is available to me, in all its forms. It’s love arising in me. It’s love moving through me. It’s not someone giving it to me so much as me being willing/open to being a receptor of love. SARK honored me this morning by saying, “Andrea is one of those rare souls who sees with love eyes and goes into the dark and illuminates it.”

I am learning to do the most important work of my life – to see myself through the lens of love. To go into my own darkness with love eyes and illuminate it.

Thank you all for being in my world!
Andrea

P.S. The BIG superhero necklace sale continues for a few more days! Get $40 off anything in my Etsy store. 

 

You don’t smell like my mommy.

I treated myself to some new lotion recently from that store called Lush in downtown San Francisco. It’s called karma and it smells like Patchouli and citrus… just the right mix of hippie + cool + sexy yum.

Anyway, I got into bed the other night after putting it on my arms and legs, and I thought, “Dang! I smell sooooo good!”

But Nico crinkled his nose as he got under the covers. “What is that smell?” He asked a little bit alarmed.
“My new lotion,” I responded.
He was emphatic: “You don’t smell like my mommy. And I don’t like it.”

First, I love how honest our little people can be. They are so clear! Second, it never occurred to me that I had a mommy smell… uniquely mine, that this little animal creature in my bed feels resonance with and connected to. Of course, right? But that moment was so powerful.

It also made me think of all the ways we try to be better versions of ourselves – all the things we do to be prettier or more appealing to the world, when really, our true nature (our authentic selves) is what our favorite people really want from us.

I’m telling you all of this because I think we do this in all sorts of ways:

  • We pretend to be cheerful with our friend on the phone because we don’t want to burden them with our problems.
  • We pretend to be shiny, happy and successful online so that people will follow us.
  • We pretend we don’t need much in our relationship so as to not be too needy… afraid that if they saw our real selves they would run for this hills.

Maybe what I’m trying to say is this: Your true nature, how you actually are, is your gold.

And when we can embrace the how-we-actually-are (both in the micro and macro moments) I think we experience more ease, more joy and more flow. We’re moving with the river and not against it.

What do you think? Has there ever been a time when you leaned into your true nature + found ease on the other side?

 

 

 

Part 2: Plump with love.

Note: Thank you so much for the warm + generous response to Part One: Journeying towards Self-Love. I thought it would be more of a linear story to tell, but the story is emerging in just the way it wants to. Here is Part two… Enjoy! and as always, your responses mean the world to me! If you haven’t read Part One, best to read that first.

This is the image that was shown to me in Bali: My future self. Bigger than I am now. Plump. Eyes closed. Smiling like a happy buddha. My co-leader at the retreat Juna led us through a visualization, and in it we were to ask this future self a question- What do I need to know to get to where you are now?

As I looked at her, she seemed so hearty to me.
Resilient.
Wise.
Loving.
I wanted to crawl into her lap- the safest possible place to land. She was plump with love.

“Ground in love each day,” she said. “Ground in love before you pick up your kids. Ground in love before you talk to your clients. Ground in love before you walk out the door and into the world.”

I didn’t know exactly what she meant. I could feel the truth of it, but I wasn’t sure about it’s practical application. How was I supposed to do that? But I was drenched in tears by the end of the visualization and didn’t care. I was just so moved by the possibility that I could be this person – grounded, hearty, resilient, wise. Plump with love.

When I got back home after the trip, I decided to continue meditating each day like I’d been doing in Bali. I had been using Insight Timer (the best!!) and loved their guided meditations. This time I decided to use their search feature. I typed in “self love” and the very first meditation that popped up was this one: Live Awake with Sarah Blondin: Loving and Listening to Yourself. Sounds about right! I thought to myself.

I had no idea this meditation would bring me even deeper into my healing. Deeper into this experience, this practice of self-love I was cultivating. I didn’t know it would be another part of the medicine.

The meditation started out this way, with Sarah’s gentle and powerful voice saying: I love you. And I am listening. Tears immediately sprang to my eyes. I listened to her beautiful piece and was astounded by what I was hearing. I was sure she had me in mind when she wrote it. It was as if she was speaking directly to my heart.

Tears poured down my cheeks.

And then she said those words, the same ones from the visualization in Bali: We become round and plump with our own love.

And I gasped.
And opened my eyes.
And cried more.

I listened to that meditation every day for weeks. I made a habit of putting my hand on my heart at random moments of the day and saying to myself: I love you and I am listening.

Sometimes it felt neutral, like a fact.
Sometimes it felt potent and painful, for all the ways I don’t love myself.
Sometimes it felt silly, like why am I saying these things to myself?

But mostly it felt nurturing. And it was a practice. I was increasing my capacity to love myself.

And it was my how I grounded in love. Before I picked up my kids, I would put my hand on my heart. I love you and I am listening. Before I got on the phone with my clients, I love you and I am listening.

As I write these words I am wondering, am I saying these words to myself or my kids? To myself or my clients? But I think it’s both. I am saying those words to myself and therefore to everyone I encounter. My capacity to love myself is the capacity I have to love others. That’s the way it works.

If love is too strong a word for you, replace it with compassion. The degree to which you have compassion for yourself is the degree to which you have compassion for others. The places in yourself where you lack compassion, the places in yourself that are hard for you to embrace, will be the same places that are hard to love and embrace in others.

That’s what makes the work worthwhile.
That’s why self-love is not selfish, but self-less.

That’s why this is a bottomless practice. It is a lifetime of softening towards ourselves and the world. It is a healing… and as we know, healing isn’t linear, but winds around and spirals back. Sometimes we think we have landed at square one again, but we are always somewhere else on the spiral.
Always ascending.
Always softening.
Becoming round and plump with our own love.

 

Part 3 is coming soon…

Another note: I asked Sarah Blondin if I could interview her for my podcast and she said yes! Our intimate and wonderful conversation here.

You are more powerful than you realize.

When I was in high school, a hypnotist came for the school assembly. I was immediately intrigued and when they asked for volunteers to be hypnotized (and then paraded around onstage) my hand immediately shot up.

A group of about 30 of us were led into a portable classroom and were told to sit at a desk with our eyes closed. He led us through a relaxing meditation and then gave us some suggestions – “Your right arm is getting lighter and lighter. It is like a helium balloon, so light it is floating into the air… “

The kids with their arms highest in the air were chosen to be in the performance. I immediately worried as we marched onto the stage – Was I really hypnotized? Was I just faking it? I’m such a rule follower maybe I just did what he said because I was being good…  I don’t feel hypnotized.

But there we were, in front of the entire school, seated in little chairs ready to make asses of ourselves. I had seen one of these assemblies before and they mostly centered around having your peers cluck like chickens on stage. I vowed not to do that.

He hypnotized us a bit more and then started giving us suggestions – “You are a Russian ballet troupe!  We are so excited you are visiting our school! Why don’t you show us what you’ve got?”

I love dancing… I thought as I pirouetted around the stage. I’m such a good dancer!

Then his voice again. “This is your pilot speaking.  We are climbing to an altitude of 20,000 feet and it’s getting very cold in the cabin.” We all started shivering in our chairs.

It went on like this for a while.

Then the hypnotist walked straight up to me and whispered, “Do you have any back problems?” I shook my head no. “Good,” he said and took my hand, leading me to the front of the stage.  He had already placed two chairs there, about 3 feet apart, facing one another. He stood me between them and put the microphone down so only I could hear him. “You are a steel bar. You are made of steel. Straighten up, you’re a steel bar!” I straightened my body and nodded yes.

What happens next I have cobbled together from my own memory and what my friends in the audience told me they witnessed. You ready? This is where it gets weird.

My memory is that he lay my body between the chairs – head resting on one and feet on the other. I remember repeating to myself over and over again, I’m a steel bar. I’m a steel bar. Straighten up, you’re a steel bar! At one point, I could feel him pressing on my stomach, showing everyone how strong and steel-like I was.

But get this. Apparently, this six foot tall man had stood on my stomach. (I was a steel bar after all, so what’s the big deal, right?) Oh, and he jumped up and down on me. (I was probably 5 feet tall and 100 pounds of the time)

“What did he do?” I asked my friends after the assembly. “It was crazy!” they replied. “He was jumping on you! How did you do that?”

I had no idea and only fuzzy memories of chanting to myself.

Decades later, on a layover in Queretero, I met a Mexican man who told me he was a hypnotist. “Do you do school assemblies?” I asked excitedly, ” And make the kids do silly stuff on stage?” He nodded yes. Then I described my steel bar experience. “Was that real?” I asked him. “Did that really happen?”

He smiled knowingly. “We are so much more powerful than we realize.”

This is a message I’ve needed to hear so many times in my life. Maybe I needed to hear it today and that’s why this story is finding its way back to me. Maybe you need to hear it too – You are so much more powerful than you realize.

The trees told me this when I moved into my new house.
The angels told me this when my marriage was falling apart.

You are so much more powerful than you realize.

We have so many stories that get in the way – You’re doing it wrong, you’re failing, you should be doing more, you should be different…

But really, we are so powerful and tender all at the same time. I’m holding both right now in myself, in this moment. I can feel the tears burning my eyes as I write and I feel the truth of my power as well. They are inextricably tied- the softness and the strength.

 

 

We see things as we are.

I’ve been listening to a book lately by Deepak Chopra called Synchrodestiny and it’s an amazing book about manifesting change and creating abundance in your life using intention and synchronicity. Since he’s a scientist, the book is heavy on quantum theory and mind-bending things like particles that can exist in two places at one time… but I love that he does this with full reverence and honoring of the magic and mystery too.

He also explains a theory about how things don’t actually exist for us that we don’t have language for, that we don’t have a concept around. They are literally invisible to us/our brains because we don’t have the software to process them.

Like that story of the South Indian island that had always been isolated, and how when explorers arrived on big ships and the islanders asked “How did you arrive here?” the Europeans said, “The ships,” pointing to the ocean. But since the islanders had no concept of “ship” they literally couldn’t see them in the water.

I had a flicker of understanding this recently when walking in downtown Berkeley the other night. My date and I peered into the window of a cafe and watched the people inside for several moments. “It’s a board game cafe,” he said, and it took me several beats more to actually see that what I was looking at was not people sitting across from each other with mugs of tea and chatting, but a full cafe of wall-to-wall people playing Parcheesi, Sorry, and The Settlers of Catan.

I saw what I expected to see, not what was right in front of me. Only when my friend said, “board game cafe” did it all come into focus. And there has to be a reason why I’m telling you this, why this story won’t leave me alone.

Maybe this is the point: We see what we expect to see, not what is right in front of us.

And maybe this is wisdom for me right now or wisdom for you. That we can choose other ways of seeing, that we can be open to other realms and other ways of knowing. We can create new possibilities and experiences if we can let go of the rigid ways and habits we have cultivated.

What was that quote by Anais Nin? “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”

As I navigate the world of dating these days, I am having to manage my energy and mind in big ways. It’s easy to get lost in fantasy… to see things as I want to see them and not as they are. It’s easy to get lost in negative fantasy too – to make the person wrong or bad, to cast them away as flawed so as to not be in that vulnerable middle place where we just don’t have enough information or lived experience yet.

I watch myself vacillate between these two extremes… and the up and down can be uncomfortable, even crushing at times. I shared this with my friend Carvell recently, telling him how excited I was about a new person I was seeing. “I’m afraid to be too excited though,” I told him, “because I get excited about people and then I get disappointed and I plummet… I want to let myself have the excitement, but I also don’t want to keep skidding on the rocks.”

He responded in the wisest possible way: “Here’s the thing. Right now, all you know is that you’re excited about this person. And… you don’t have a lot of information. Anything else you add is fantasy – positive or negative.” This has become my own little personal incantation: I’m excited about this person and I don’t have a lot of information… I chant this to myself when I see myself go to extremes. It keeps me grounded in what’s true. It helps me see things as they are.