Happy New Year!

Last night, as I watched the amazing fireworks set off over the ocean in Panama City, I reflected back on one of the many gifts of 2018. I have begun to accept and value my self in a deeper way than ever before. This has been an elusive thing in my life.

It has taken a tremendous amount of courage, support and healing. Unraveling layer upon layer of wounding and false beliefs. Allowing myself to take the risk to believe new beliefs about my self.

Oddly, what may have seemed “selfish” to me before – this love of self – has actually been the opposite. It has begun to help me to be a better person in the world. I have so much more accessible to give to the world. Where there was fear and darkness, now I also find light and great courage. I intend to use it in service and in creation.

Wherever you are, however you believe, may your new year be filled with the power of self-love. Today, I borrow the words of a master of love.

PRAYER FOR SELF-LOVE

By Don Miguel Ruiz, taken from his book “The Mastery of Love”

Today, Creator of the Universe, we ask that you help us to accept ourselves just the way we are, without judgment. Help us to accept our mind the way it is, with all our emotions, our hopes and dreams, our personality, our unique way of being. Help us to accept our body just the way it is, with all its beauty and perfection. Let the love we have for ourselves be so strong that we never again reject ourselves or sabotage our happiness, freedom, and love.

From now on, let every action, every reaction, every thought, every emotion, be based on love. Help us, Creator, to increase our self-love until the entire dream of our life is transformed, from fear and drama to love and joy. Let the power of our self-love be strong enough to break all the lies we were programmed to believe – all the lies that tell us we are not good enough, or strong enough, or intelligent enough, that we cannot make it. Let the power of our self-love be so strong that we no longer need to live our life according to other people’s opinions. Let us trust ourselves completely to make the choices we must make. With our self-love, we are no longer afraid to face any responsibility in our life or face any problems and resolve them as they arise. Whatever we want to accomplish, let it be done with the power of our self-love.

Starting today, help us to love ourselves so much that we never set up any circumstances that go against us. We can live our life being ourselves and not pretending to be someone else just to be accepted by other people. We no longer need other people to accept us or tell us how good we are because we know what we are. With the power of our self-love, let us enjoy what we see every time we look in the mirror. Let there be a big smile on our face that enhances our inner and outer beauty. Help us to feel such intense self-love that we always enjoy our own presence.

Let us love ourselves without judgment, because when we judge, we carry blame and guilt, we have the need for punishment, and we lose the perspective of our love. Strengthen our will to forgive ourselves in this moment. Clean our minds of emotional poison and self-judgments so we can live in complete peace and love.

Let our self-love be the power that changes the dream of our life. With this new power in our hearts, the power of self-love, let us transform every relationship we have, beginning with the relationship we have with ourselves. Help us to be free of any conflict with others. Let us be happy to share our time with our loved ones and to forgive them for any injustice we feel in our mind. Help us to love ourselves so much that we forgive anyone who has ever hurt us in our life.

Give us the courage to love our family and friends unconditionally, and to change our relationships in the most positive way. Help us to create new channels of communication in our relationships so there is no war of control, there is no winner or loser. Together let us work as a team for love, for joy, for harmony.

Let our relationships with our family and friends be based on respect and joy so we no longer have the need to tell them how to think or how to be. Let our romantic relationship be the most wonderful relationship; let us feel joy every time we share ourselves with our partner. Help us to accept others just the way they are, without judgment, because when we reject them, we reject ourselves. When we reject ourselves, we reject you.

Today is a new beginning. Help us to start our life over beginning today with the power of self-love. Help us to enjoy our life, to enjoy our relationships, to explore life, to take risks, to be alive, and to no longer live in fear of love. Let us open our heart to the love that is our birthright. Help us to be come Masters of Gratitude, Generosity, and Love so that we can enjoy all of your creations forever and ever.

Amen.

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On the Road Again

My husband and I are driving a Penske truck filled with furniture from our last apartment In the Bronx, NY to Texas. We’ve made this trip before.

Last time, we drove the opposite way with the same furniture from my parents’ home just after we were married 8 years ago, just after my Dad died, a year after my brother died and two years after my mother did.

I was so grateful for that furniture at the time. Newly married, making a home with someone for the first time, I was thrilled to have really nice things to bring to our shared space, a new apartment we’d chosen together.

Having lived in a tiny studio apartment in the West Village of NYC for 18 years prior to this big change, I had no furniture to speak of. My husband had some nice things to bring from his place, but not enough. We were stretching our budgets to get our apartment. New furniture was not in the plan. So my parents was a blessing.

It was amazing how perfectly the furniture all worked together. We chose rich colors for the walls off of the colors in the rugs, and somehow, it all had an eclectic warmth that just felt right. So “us,” somehow. The us we were becoming.

For the first years of our marriage, in those years after those huge losses in which I grieved and lived as best I could, that furniture surrounded me and held me and filled the empty gaping hole their deaths left.

I cherished it all. I had my father’s bronzed baby cowboy boots as book ends. A china cabinet held bluebirds, brown ware and silver pieces from my mother’s collections. We ate off of plates and used pans brought up from their kitchen. Put drinks on coasters from their den.

Our bedroom furniture was from my parents first house. The first expensive rug they bought, a now-worn but still lovely Oriental, sat under their gorgeous dark wood dining table and chairs.

But somewhere along year 6, something began to shift in me, and now, 18 months later, after a Konmari wave that washed away my clutter, a new apartment search, offer, and purchase, a renovation, putting an apartment on the market, a sale, a closing, a move, and a settling in, here I am. Day two of a three day journey to take much of that furniture to a new home.

My cousin, who my parents loved, who has a lovely wife and two young kids and a house, is happily taking the furniture off my hands. Whatever he did not take, others in NY needed and wanted.

Tomorrow we reach Austin, where the pieces will be put in their new home.

And I will let go. Of the grieving time. Of the me that has lived these 8 years in the after-shock, doing my best.

I feel such a mix of sadness and relief and excitement. Sadness because I still wish they were here instead of their things. Relief because something is done that I seem to have needed to do. Some job I unconsciously took on will soon be complete. And excitement is for this next part, whatever it will be.

Today I crave space. I want to be surrounded by things that resonate the me I am today. Our new home in no way resembles our last. And I love it with its new colors and furniture, and kickass river views.

I kept one chair out of it all. And reupholstered it. It looks wonderful there, surrounded by our new pieces, our new rugs.

At the end of the first day’s drive, we were treated to a blazing orange sky. Since my mother passed, I am convinced that beautiful sunsets are her way of letting me know she is there, loving me. It was clear that she, my Dad and brother, approve of this trip.

My parents and brother are still with me. But now they fill my heart space. I carry them wherever I go.

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For Laura

I know some incredible women.

It is one of those women’s birthday today.

Some people just blow you away. Laura inspires me daily. She is an artist, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. A leader. A teacher. An activist. A community contributor. An active citizen.

She lost her 20 year old brother to suicide in 2000. Rather than fall into despair, she has used her grief to create, educate, help and heal.

Read about one of her creations, Arts & Dreams, and the incredible work they do here.

Enjoy her art work here.

Laura reminds me to live creatively, lovingly, with ample doses of self-forgiveness.

I am so lucky she was born and that I know her.

She Is
Scarlet lips
Piercing chocolate eyes
Portals who see your soul
Lives in brush strokes
Of love and thoughtful heart
Colors rich with knowing
Midwife of self-love
Earth angel saving
wretched alone-hearts
One mantra at a time

The Curse

I don’t know what I did

But I did something

My heart catches in my throat

Careful

Waiting always

For the other shoe to drop

It always does

Does positive thinking work

When you feel flawed at your core

No

Mantras on top of a knowing

Deeper than deep

That you do not deserve good

Fall flat

Their echoes create a silent tragic opera

I stumble

Tears threaten to fall

The nausea I feel holding this truth almost knocks me over

How do I solve a problem

I do not understand

Point me to the wizard

Let me beg the sorceress

Help me

Break

This

Curse

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For Me

A few years back, a teacher suggested to me the idea that when challenges happen in my life (“challenges” being a woke way of saying when bad shit happens) I ask the question “Why is this happening for me?” rather than “Why is this happening to me?”

That everything that is happening contains lessons that are designed to contribute to some necessary growth that ultimately will contribute to my living my greatest life.

It is a lovely idea. Unless, that is, you are in it. When it is feeling like the Universe is is just out to get you, the idea that things are happening for your highest good can seem, well, ridiculous.

In those moments, I tend to feel like a total victim. In my mind, I am sure that somewhere there are people whose lives are working out just great. That there are people to whom these shitty things do not happen.

I bemoan why these things must happen to me. Does the Universe think so little of me? Am I such a loser that I do not deserve good?

This response to difficult or bad things happening is learned. It comes from a wounding from long ago, at an age when I had no ways to cope. No way of understanding bad things happening other than to assume that it was my fault: that I was in some way not worthy of good.

This wound and the subsequent thinking and feeling habits that developed out of it seem to be getting kicked up again and again lately.

It’s this new apartment and the renovation and new furniture.

(I know, I know. These are luxury problems. It isn’t what they are. It’s what they kick up.)

Without realizing it, somehow, somewhere in my psyche some part of me, the wounded part, has loaded this new home with some kind of meaning that runs way deeper than up leveling to a newer, nicer home.

This new place and new things seem to represent something that is impossible to reach or maintain. Unbeknownst to me, some part of me needs this home to be perfect.

Things keep happening. A strange stain on the new velvet couch that I sweat was not there before. A little work spot on a new leather chair that I also swear was not there before. The furniture is not even in use yet! We’ve had it all covered as we’ve finally moved in.

I would almost believe there’s a sprite or gremlin playing tricks on me.

This all started weeks ago. First the new floor buckled in places. The very well-put-in floor. Then the AC leaked and caused a tiny bit of damage. Then the spot on the velvet couch I mentioned that was not there until it was: it can only be seen at an angle, but still. It was perfect. Now it is marred. Then the marks in the leather chair. How? When? Who?

Each new event sends me into this painful spin of confusion – disbelief, anger, hurt. Why? Why us? Why our new things? Can’t we have one month to enjoy this place before things become marred?

Am I such a loser that I do not deserve nice things?

Then I get enraged. Why do others get happy lives and my one chance at goodness is once again stripped away from me? Can’t I have just one beautiful thing for a moment?

Woah. I know this is all way too loaded for just this situation. I don’t remember ever feeling this way before about any place or thing. And yet here I am and it is deep. Things are being triggered here!

And I know, I know. These are total luxury problems.

I should be grateful for the abundance. And I am. But why are the gifts I get always dented?

It can feel so dark and sad.

I guess it is time to tend to that girl’s wound. The one who first decided that she was unworthy of good.

I see I have someone to get to know.

I breathe and try to trust that I will gain clarity at some point. I try to remember that this is happening for me. That there is an opportunity for me to heal something. I am just so murky and in it right now. I cannot see it. Yet.

But I will.

And I will grow through it, somehow.

And I will gain a new friend, if she’ll have me. The wounded girl.

Ah ha.

There is is…

Just “for me.”

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The In-between Space

If I squint, I can still see it in my mind’s eye

The back of the front seat

of my parents’ doo doo brown

Buick Estate Wagon: my permanent view

Sandwiched between the adolescent sweaty arms

of my older brothers, their elbows poking my small shoulders

Fighting the space wars that only siblings know about

Gum popping, punches passed across me

Pre-digital age entertainment

Counting cars, Mad Libs, I Spy, rounds of car songs

I could barely see out the windows

But my whole world was inside anyways

I was in heaven between those two

Even their ignoring me was attention I loved

What I wouldn’t give to be back there

Lulled into a happy daze

The faint smell of my dad’s pipe

The tinkle of my mom’s laugh

And those two on either side

Holding me in tight, safe and sound

On the road, together

 

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The Move

It looked great on the surface of it.

A new apartment, with a gorgeous view. I mean, who wouldn’t say yes to that?

I did. I was the instigator of this move. I did the apartment searching. The financing work.

And so here we are. A year after purchasing, and months of renovations. Renovations that we planned to take at most 6 months that are now at 8.

And our current apartment is in contract. Our buyers were just approved to move in by the board of the co-op.

We will be getting dates for closing any day now, and then we will move into our beautiful new apartment with its dream view.

All good, right?

And yet.

I. AM. NOT. PACKING. YET.

(Much to my husband’s consternation and confusion.)

I mean, I have been the instigator of all this upheaval.

I decided to totally redecorate and choose new furniture for the new apartment. To find new homes for the furniture that we have loved the past 8 years together in this first home we are now in and about to leave.

This was major, because most of the furniture came from my deceased parents’ home. It was oddly perfect timing, my father passing away after my mother and 3 months before our wedding. I have been surrounded these 8 years in our home by furniture that comforted me, held me…gave me a nest, truly.

And yet, here I am, ready to let it all go. My cousins are taking the pieces I would never be able to just give away to anybody. Close friends with kids are taking other pieces, which feels so right and good. Other people my husband knows are inheriting some things, which they need, want and are thrilled about, and that makes me happy.

The new furniture has been bought, and I love it.

I visit our new home and am stunned at how lovely it is going to be.

And yet.

We are literally half out of our current place. My husband is packing most of what is left. Things are in boxes or are already gone. We are half in and half out. Limbo.

What. Is. Going. On. With. Me. And. This. Resistance.

I find myself wanting to stay in this limbo land. I feel as if I could hover here with one foot in and one foot out forever.

I am terrified. So scared. To move on. To enter fully into my truly adult life, beyond the losses that have so colored the last eleven years. To let the past fall away and let the present fully emerge.

I get panicked. If I let go of the bronzed tiny cowboy boots of my father’s that I brought up from Texas with the furniture, does it mean I loved him any less? Does it mean I am a better daughter and I really loved him if I hold on to them?

If I throw out or give away the plates my brother and I made in our childhood, will I forget him and our youth? Am I a bad person?

If I let go of the plastic container I handprinted with hearts that holds some of my mom’s cookie cutters that I gave her and brought up from her kitchen after she dies, does it mean I am not a loyal daughter? Will it hurt her feelings?

Will I lose who I am if I let go of these things? Will I lose their love somehow?

Who will I be if I am not carrying around these objects that are connected to my past?

Will I float into nothingness? Will I no longer know myself? Will I forget the people and the memories associated with these things?

I have to somehow resolve this. Find a way to keep moving through this change that on some level I called in for my own soul.

I have to find a way to actually make this move. It is a movement, after all.

I have to breathe. And trust. And move forward, into my life.

Inspired by a Daily Word Prompt at Guest Daily Prompts: surface