Saturday, October 8, 2016

Rise Sister Rise


Do not lose heart...We were made for these times.
Clarrisa Pinkola Estes


To all my sisters around the world: WE DESERVE BETTER!

I say this for myself as well as friends, cousins, and women I have yet to meet:

WE DESERVE BETTER!

These are CRAZY times....

In some ways it seems as though we have progressed so far since the Civil Right's & Women's Movements of the 1960s....
This year, we have a female candidate running for President....YAY!
However, she's running against almost a caricature of the worst possible opponent imaginable:
narcissist, egomaniac, bigot, bully, racist, xenophobe. A billionaire with an endless list of reasons why he's NOT qualified to run in, let alone win this election.

While I respect everyone's right to have their own opinion and agree to disagree in a civil fashion, I have reached my limit.

I think that this election campaign is indicative of the state of our world at large. I will refrain from jumping on the anti-Donny bandwagon here (you can see that on my FB page!)

Suffice it to say that the women that came before us worked too damn hard for us to accept the vulgar and misogynistic comments that have become the basis of the GOP rhetoric during this campaign.
It's ridiculous that we are still battling the same sexist treatment that our mothers & grandmothers fought against decades ago.

You may think that you have to settle for this insanity, but I'm here to tell ya that just ain't so!

I am blessed to have a tribe of women around the globe who remind me when I forget:

WE DESERVE BETTER!

We have to remind ourselves, hold ourselves accountable, and  provide support and loving kindness to each other.

WE DESERVE BETTER!

For our daughters, nieces, aunts, grandmothers, sisters, and friends:

WE DESERVE BETTER!

We are more than our physical attributes.
We do not exist solely for the sexual pleasure of ANY man.
Our bodies are OURS, and WE decide what happens to them.
We are intelligent, nurturing, creative, women.

WE DESERVE BETTER!





Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Communion


"We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection."
Brene Brown


I just returned from a magical trip to Italy.

Two days before the trip, I celebrated a milestone birthday.
Several weeks before my birthday, I attended the funeral of my younger brother. The rampant gun violence that is far too prevalent in this country  made its way into my family.

The timing could not have been more perfect.

I signed up for Jen Pastiloff's Tuscany retreat last year and have been looking forward to it for months: a sublime blend of some of my favorite things: yoga, Italy, Jen's unique and wonderful workshops. I had no idea exactly what to expect, but left with an open heart (I thought) and an open mind. Ready to dive deep and have a transformational experience.

My heart got blown wide open!

I arrived at the train station in Florence and met up with some of my fellow retreat-goers. We were driven to an incredible retreat center, nestled deep in the hills of Tuscany. Over dinner, we made introductions & small talk; the real work started the following day.

Over the next 7 days, Jen helped us to create a space that allowed us to be vulnerable & raw, empowered & supportive. We laughed, we cried, we danced.
We traveled to the neighboring towns of Siena, Volterra, & San Gimignano.
We had cooking classes, and some rode horses. The food was plentiful, healthy, and delicious. The dance parties (especially on the last night, were EPIC!)

We arrived as strangers and we left profoundly connected by our time together.
I now have an extended family that stretches from Amsterdam to the Caribbean; from Guatemala to Montreal; from Bali to Helsinki.

We created this deep connection by sharing our hearts, one to another.
So simple...
Choose love, right?
Not always so easy...

These are challenging times.
It's easy to find examples of people behaving at their worst...and lots of them. It takes great effort not to be cynical and pessimistic.

BUT...

There are also plenty of stories of people behaving at their best....or, at least, trying to be better than they were. It takes great effort to find the beauty in the everyday.

OR DOES IT?

The photo above was taken on my last day in Florence, days after the retreat ended. I spent the day with a few of the girls from the retreat...my new "family". We wandered upon this little courtyard/parking area while walking in Oltrano. The light was incredible. So simple, yet so extraordinary.
In that moment, I was blissfully happy. Pure joy!

Choose love
Choose love
Choose love

For yourself
For others

Choose love




























Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Raw





“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 


I'll be happy when I lose those last 10 pounds.
I'll be happy when I find Mr (or Ms) Right.
I'll be happy when I get that promotion,

Sounds familiar?

Once upon a time, (not too long ago..) I realized that I FINALLY felt ok. Better than ok...I felt good. I felt comfortable in my own skin. I didn't feel like I needed anything (or anyone) to complete me.I felt joy-full most days......

And then things changed.

I felt like I lost my center. I felt lost, unbalanced, like I had woken up in another, very unfamiliar body. I felt like a fraud.

I've been struggling to find my way back ever since.

I hesitated to write this post. I wasn't sure that I was ready to allow myself to be so exposed and vulnerable in such a public setting.

But then I thought, "There must be others out there who feel the same way!"
If you're one of those people, this post is written from my heart to yours.

I'm not quite sure what happened, but for the last several years I have been engaged in an internal battle of self-loathing. I gained weight and hate the way I look and feel in my own skin.

On the one hand, I know that there is much more to me than my outward appearance. But there are many layers to my situation, many of which I haven't even begun to discover. I am so consumed with hating the way that I look, that I find myself stuck in that space.
I have spent countless time & money searching for the next "quick fix", but each time, I fall short in following through and staying committed to getting healthy & feeling better about myself.

WHY?

I makes no sense to me.

Clearly, I have found some type of dysfunctional comfort in this state.
It must go deeper than what I look like on the outside.
Maybe the added weight serves as a buffer between me & my life: from exposing myself, allowing myself to be vulnerable, from getting hurt.
Maybe I need learn how to love myself just as I am, right now.

HOW do I do that???

I think (hope) that sharing my story, honestly, & in such a public way, is a baby step in that direction.

Although I'm not thrilled about where I am on my journey right now, it is my truth at the moment.
It's part of my story.

I have a 15 year sober history that proves that I can change. I can create a life beyond my wildest dreams by asking for help and doing the next right thing. I can turn my struggles over to a Power greater than myself.

So here it is....the raw, unvarnished truth of my life as it is...today.

My story....to share with you.

From my wide, open heart......

With gratitude,
Maria










Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Phoenix rising




“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien


May is a special month for me.
Every year around this time, I am reminded of a younger version of myself... a young woman who was lost, scared, and broken.

The journey that began, ever so slowly, on a day in May, almost 15 years ago, is one that is personal, but I know the path I have traveled is not a solitary one.
I have made lasting friendships and experienced unfathomable losses. 
I found the love of my life and had my heart shattered into a million tiny pieces.
I have slowly, tentatively, peeked from behind the wall that I built around my tender heart. At various times, I have broken through that wall, to experience the blissful joy of a life well lived and retreated back to the dubious safety that I believed I found there and reinforced the barricades ever more strongly, determined to never venture out again.

Life is hard...and beautiful...and sad...and flippin' SCARY!
Lately, I have been hibernating behind the wall...peeking through the cracks every so often to see what lies beyond.
I have, for the last few years, been deeply submerged in a period of growth...or so I'm told.
This isn't unfamiliar territory, but this particular period has seemed ENDLESS.

It's one of those..."just when you think it's safe to go back in the water...." moments.
Lots of changes, lots of starts and stops in fits & spurts...and, quite honestly, lots of times when I have, in the silence of my heart of hearts, wondered if it was REALLY worth all the bother. But, one of the many gifts of this journey, has been learning to keep showing up, no matter what.

As a longtime fan of Joseph Campbell, I am all too familiar with the Hero's Journey. In fact, I have experienced my own version on several occasions. 
This time of year gives me a special opportunity to reflect on my life, up until this point.
The words of the Tolkien poem that opens this post are especially poignant.

Keep moving, even if the progress is minimal.
Baby steps, my dear...baby steps.
NEVER give up hope.
Miracles happen every day...I know, because I am one.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.






Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Audacious in 2016





So, readers......how has this year started out for you? Still following through on your resolutions? If you allowed yourself to dream your biggest dream....how would this year unfold for you?

I have come to believe that life is about risk and taking chances and pushing yourself to be the biggest, brightest star in your universe. It can be scary to let your imagination go wild with no limitations, giving your self permission to dream SUPER BIG!
That little voice of "practicality" pipes in to say, Oh, well...are you SURE that's a good idea?", or "That's not very smart", or (my personal favorite) "Who do you think you are?!"

I have a few things in the works and feel like I'm preparing to take a BOLD leap in my life...definitely not without some risk and fear involved.....

BUT...

If not now....when?

Stay tuned....more to come!

Have a beautiful day!
<3




Friday, November 13, 2015

Keep the Faith






I have spoken about change on this blog many times in the past. It's the only constant (that, death & taxes, right?) and, although I don't fight it as vehemently as I once did, I still push back from a place of fear more often that I'd care to admit.

So, WHY is it so scary to pursue our dreams?
WHY is it easier, albeit more painful, to stay STUCK in the quagmire of the situation that no longer (if it ever did) serves us?
WHY does fear sometimes roar louder than faith?

Sadly, I don't have the answers to these questions, but I know that I'm not alone in feeling this way.

It takes tremendous strength & courage to KEEP GOING when fear screams loudest.
It seems so much easier to retreat and let fear list the million and one ways why "this" is not such a good idea, not practical, frivolous, or just plain STUPID.

KEEP. GOING. ANYWAY!

I have come to believe that fear is a great, big scaredy cat and does NOT have MY best interests in mind. It's simply looking to save it's OWN ass!
I also have come to believe that, those who try to show me how unreasonable and impractical my dreams are, may not be trying to talk me out of pursuing my dreams; they may simply be trying to keep me safe in the best way they know how.
.
However, ultimately, the decision of how to live my life lies with ME!

I have to turn the volume down on the voices in my head that tell me that I'm "not good enough", or I'm "gonna be an epic failure, so why risk it"?

A very wise man recently told me that, taking a risk can, at the very worst, end up being a bad idea. As long as I'm not doing something to jeopardize my health or hurt someone else, I can bounce back from pretty much anything. 

I'm a pretty tough chick!  ;-)

Instead of letting my fears paralyze me, maybe I would be better of remembering how "crazy" risks I have taken in the past have either (a) led to better things, (b) served as great lessons about what NOT to do, or (c) made for GREAT stories that I have laughed about years later.

So, what would you rather do?
Stay in a situation that make makes you miserable.....OR....take a baby step the other way into the unknown?
Here's a big, fat reality check....(I'm saying this to myself as much as I'm sharing it with you):
You already KNOW how sucky the place you're in now is....how much worse could it be? 
AND....the sucky place will be right there waiting for you if you decide to retrace your steps and come back. That's the thing about sucky places....they don't change!

YOU can!

You deserve a SPECTACULAR life....not one that you merely tolerate.

Why not, at least, turn & face the opposite direction...see if THAT view is any better?
I'm fairly certain that it's a helluva lot better than what you're staring at now....

KEEP.THE.FAITH.....
You got this!!!
(me too!)

<3 <3 <3




Monday, October 12, 2015

Challenging the status quo




You are in the perfect position to get there from here.
—Abraham-Hicks


Fall.
3rd season of the year and the one that precedes death/hiberation/retirement.
This is the season of the harvest...

Tonight is also the New Moon, cycle of new beginnings.

I love thinking about the symbolism found in nature.
Every day includes the cycle of birth and death. Each sunrise signifies a rebirth, a new beginning.
We get a "do over" every day...a fresh start....a chance to change the course of our lives and shake up the status quo.

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right?

Then how come it's so easy to feel stuck in a life/job/habit/relationship that seems impossible to escape from?

Why is so easy to forget the immense opportunity that we have to make a change in every second of our lives?

Why do we feel powerless when the reality is that we ALWAYS have the ability to choose something different?

We've just forgotten that we do....

Sounds pretty simple, huh?
It also sounds harder than climbing Mt Everest.

The analogy is a good one because the way to change your life is the same as the way you get to the peak of the mountain....simply by putting one step in front of the other.
Baby steps add up over time.
Consistency can change the most deeply embedded habit....

The funny thing is that while you're making those small changes, they may seem inconsequential in the moment. Barely worth repeating, because, really...how can such a small thing add up to anything worthwhile?

That's the beauty of it!

Anyone is capable of making significant, lasting change, but not everyone is willing to put in the time and the effort to go the distance.

This is something I've been struggling with for sometime. I have some challenges that have kept me stuck in old, unhealthy patterns and negative self-talk. While I have access to all the support and information I could ask for, I keep finding myself stuck in the same, frustrating predicament.
I'm giving up (on myself) before the REAL change begins. Just when it starts to get difficult, I slip back into the familiar place that I've occupied for FAR too long. The place I no longer want to be in...and yet....

I know I'm not alone in this behavior. Doesn't make me feel much better knowing that.
I have to be very careful not to let myself slip into the other old behavior of negative self-talk which serves only to plant me more firmly where I'm at. It's almost as if those old tapes keep me distracted from my goals and aspirations by repeating over and over how badly I feel about myself and my life until I am unable to hear anything else.

Big, fat reality check:
I have a fabulous life!
I am surrounded by love from my friends, family and new people finding their way into my life.
I am taking risks and finding my way to a passion filled life.
I am saying a heartfelt YES to the opportunities that arise on a daily basis.
I am willing to ask for and give help to others when necessary.

I am living a life of abundance!
I am challenging the status quo and I truly believe that I AM capable of AMAZING things!!!

How are you shaking things up in your life?
What ways have you found to stay focused and committed to your goals?

Let's support & encourage each other on our journey to greatness!

Peace & Love
<3