Category Archives: Inspiration

Francis Weller on grief + anger. Life-changing wisdom in this talk.

Listen in as psychotherapist and author Francis Weller, MFT discuss the communal nature of grief, the expressive virtue of anger, false happiness, and the two hands of grief and gratitude. Interview recorded at the 2013 Minnesota Men’s Conference. Give yourself the gift of this 13 minutes. Totally life-changing wisdom.

 

 

Understanding is love’s other name.

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Found this on Brain Pickings. So beautiful I had to share!

At the heart of Nhat Hanh’s teachings is the idea that “understanding is love’s other name” — that to love another means to fully understand his or her suffering. (“Suffering” sounds rather dramatic, but in Buddhism it refers to any source of profound dissatisfaction — be it physical or psychoemotional or spiritual.) Understanding, after all, is what everybody needs — but even if we grasp this on a theoretical level, we habitually get too caught in the smallness of our fixations to be able to offer such expansive understanding. He illustrates this mismatch of scales with an apt metaphor:

“If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform.”

“The question then becomes how to grow our own hearts, which begins with a commitment to understand and bear witness to our own suffering: When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love. That’s why to love means to learn the art of nourishing our happiness. Understanding someone’s suffering is the best gift you can give another person. Understanding is love’s other name. If you don’t understand, you can’t love.”

 

When I shared this on my Facebook page, the wise Lauren Rosenfeld responded with this:

“Sometimes we stubbornly refuse to understand because we believe that understanding is a zero sum game: If I reach out to understand you, I must give up a part of my self that I am clinging to as if it were a raft on turbulent river of life. But, in reaching out to understand, what I truly give up is self certainty, which is ego driven and illusory. I let go of the raft of self certainty and find that the flow of the river of Life will carry me and you together.

Understanding is infinitely expansive and illuminating — and in this way — as Thay explains — it is equivalent to love: it casts light on our true nature, our interconnectedness, our infinite and infinitely expansive being.”

I have read these quotes over and over in the last couple of weeks, letting it sink into my heart as deeply as it can go. It’s becoming a bit of a mantra – Understanding is love’s other name… And so I’ve been practicing lately – to get more curious, to let go of being right in favor of understanding. Sometimes it’s as easy as slowing down and reminding myself that all I need to do is listen.

 

 

Courage interview with Rachael Maddox: Healing from sexual trauma

Hey friends,

So excited to bring you this interview today! It’s a brave + vulnerable conversation with me and Rachael Maddox. We talk about her work in helping women heal from sexual trauma and how we can all move toward our aliveness by listening to our spirit and our bodies.

This conversation is deeply personal and on a topic that has normally been taboo for me – sex. I originally recorded it for the Cultivating Courage course, but realized that there might be more women out there who need to hear it. So here it is! From our hearts to yours. Enjoy!

 

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Rachael Maddox is a life coach, a trauma specialist, a singer-songwriter and most recently the author of the book: Secret Bad Girl: A Sexual Trauma Memoir and Resolution Guide.  To see more about Rachel or work with her as a coaching client, go to her website here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sexy Grounded Power Fairy.

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“Sexy grounded power fairy! That’s it!” I practically shouted this on the phone during my coaching session with Rachael Maddox.

We had been exploring 2016 -what I’m calling in and what my spirit is moving towards. She helped me explore this through the lens of archetypes which was new to me and super powerful. Turns out this year is a lot about transitioning from one archetype to another – growing into a new version of myself, becoming the grown up expression of me, my essence in full bloom.

We started by identifying my current archetype (one I’ve identified with for a long time) which is some kind of magical fairy – innocent, playful, spontaneous, magic. She loves color and beauty and moves toward joy. She brings light… “

But as much as I love her (and her gifts have taken me so far!) I feel the rumblings of something new. My new life is calling for a grown up version, a heartier version, one who can handle being a single mother, one who can manifest big things… She isn’t afraid people won’t like her if she shines too bright.

What should we call her? Rachael asked.

“I don’t know… “ I began, “but the words coming to me are sexy, grounded and powerful… maybe we just call her sexy-grounded-power-fairy for now?”
“SEXY GROUNDED POWER FAIRY! THAT’S IT!” Maybe Rachael shouted this. I don’t remember.

I just remember I got chills.
And the name stuck.

I’ve been trying this out. What would sexy grounded power fairy do? She would take a look at her numbers right now. She would open these bills. She would ask for what she needs. She would say no and not give an excuse. She would just keep writing…

She’s still got the magic, but less of the magical thinking.
She’s got all the innocent beauty, but doesn’t disown her power, her pleasure or her joy.
She speaks her truth in a grounded, compassionate, heart-centered way.
She’s not afraid to ruffle a few feathers.

How about you?

What are you moving towards this year? Who are you becoming? What would you call her?

p.s. And if you need Rachael to take you there, you can find her here.

 

Some very good things you should know about.

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1. I have been creating abstract paintings! I’m obsessed. Painting has always been my first love… and I just rediscovered it. It’s possibly the only thing in the world that puts me in a deep, mystical kind of flow. I don’t need anything when I’m painting – the phone to ring, food.  I don’t need to be anywhere but exactly where I am. It’s such a gift.

To deepen my practice, I’m going to be taking Mati Rose McDonough’s Daring Adventure’s in Abstract Painting course. I’m a big fan of Mati + super excited to learn from her. We also happen to share a studio! So I can get some one on one help as well. 😉

There are a limited number of spots at the $129 price. So grab your spot now! and I’ll see you in there.

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2. There is a space opening up in my studio here in Berkeley. If you would love to paint, create, design, write, do what you do in the company of rad women (of course you do!) hit reply and shoot me a message. I’ll give you the details. The space is the one next to mine, in the corner.

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3. I got my nose pierced! What?! I finally realized I am a grown up and I can do things like this.

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4. I knew this banana reminded me of someone. Then I figured it out.

 

 

 

 

 

Good enough mom.

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Photo by Andrea Scher

He texted, “What question do you not want me to ask you? What question would you find disconcerting?”

I didn’t write it. I didn’t dare. But what came to mind was this: Are you a good mother?

Because all I can see sometimes is how I fail them.
How I’m not good enough.
How I don’t read to them long enough, and I shout, and I don’t volunteer in the classroom.

I hear about homemade muffins + family dinners and I think about our meals –  haphazard, no one staying in their chair, at least 3 different meals at play, not enough vegetables.

I think about the cavity on Nico’s tooth, the one right in the front – how on earth did he get a cavity there? and I can see how I delay getting him to the dentist. I imagine him with a gold tooth right there in the front and I feel mortified. I’d rather they just pulled that sucker out. He doesn’t need it, right? It’s just a baby tooth.

And I can see of course that this is all about me,
and that hidden part of me,
those two words inscribed somewhere inside my wounded heart: not enough.

And of course I will take him to the dentist, but I can already see myself rehearsing my lines – “I told him he needed to brush ALL of his teeth, someone (not me) has clearly been giving him gummy worms…”

However you slice it, there it is – bad mother.

Do all mothers feel this way?

I suppose if I really thought I was a terrible mother I wouldn’t be writing this – the shame would keep me hiding. But how do you get to good enough mother? and what is that anyway? There’s no way to tell.

Imperfect mother. Maybe I’ll make a t-shirt that says that. Or maybe we need a hashtag #imperfectmom

I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this. Maybe so I don’t feel so alone. Maybe so you don’t. Maybe we’ll all start wearing t-shirts that say funny things. Maybe it would help in those moments when you stare at that other mom – that perfect mom – from across the playground. Maybe it would help if she had a shirt that said, “I don’t know what I’m doing either. I’m totally in over my head. Let’s be friends.”

 

One day you’re a dog. The next day, you’re in space.

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“One day you’re a dog, and the next day you’re in space. Can you even imagine?”

This is what my friend Peter said to me more than 20 years ago. He was referring to a movie that I can’t recall the name of right now, but in it they refer to a dog that was sent into space.

We marveled at the thought. “It’s not like you could have told the dog ahead of time or prepared it for orbit. It happened just like that- boom! One day you’re a dog. the next day, you’re in space.” Peter shook his head.

That’s sort of how it happened for me – crossing the threshold. It came out in a blurt during a therapy session. “I can’t do this anymore. I’m not staying in a miserable marriage for the rest of my life.”

Everyone’s eyes got big. And when I say everyone, I mean my husbands’ and the therapist.

“I don’t even think I can do it for one more second.” I added.

Orbit.

A lot happened after that. There was a lot of yelling in the months to follow. There were a lot of tears. I slept at friends’ houses. It was scary and terrible.

One day you’re a dog. The next day you’re in space.

I didn’t plan for it to happen that day, nor did I know how clear I was until the words fell out of my mouth.

My friend Nate had asked me earlier that day, “If you were a natural disaster, which one would you be?” I scrunched up my face, perplexed. “I’d be a forest fire,” he declared.

I thought for a moment. “I think I’d be a lightning storm.  A bolt of electricity. Sudden. Precise. Not too much damage.”

It’s a year later now and we are still living together, just starting the mediation process. There has been a lot of healing.

But what I really want to tell you is this: Sometimes life changes like that – one day you’re a dog, the next day you’re in space.

No one prepared you for it.
No one warned you or reassured you.
They don’t even speak dog.

And yet, there you are just the same.

 

Make a list of things that make you happy.

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I posted this graphic on my Facebook page and was excited to see how many people shared it. So I decided to actually make my lists + invite you to do the same!

Let’s do this.

What do you notice?
What little adjustments can you make?
How can you honor the things that matter to you most? how can you sprinkle in more things that bring you joy?

My joy list + musings on how the lists compare

 

 

You are here to risk your heart.

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Pink dahlia, photo by Andrea Scher

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” ~Louise Erdrich

 

Super-Friends Series: Laurel Bleadon-Maffei

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Laurel Bleadon-Maffei, photo by Andrea Scher

Laurel helped me through one of the darkest periods of my life. She is the one I would reach out to during the times I felt most lost, when I needed reassurance and someone to guide me forward.

Her gifts as an intuitive are love-soaked and powerful – imagine getting a coaching session filled with pure unconditional love + laser beam intuition on how your path is unfolding. She starts each session calling in angels and guides… and I get full body chills + tears every time.

It was an honor to photograph her recently. I love you Laurel Bleadon-Maffei! (And if you want to see one of her “energetic updates” you can see one here)

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Laurel Bleadon-Maffei, photo by Andrea Scher

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Laurel Bleadon-Maffei, photo by Andrea Scher