Standing Out.


Unless you have only recently come to meet me, or know what it is I do or who I am, then you know about how much I love hugs. I love getting them, yes, but I am completely addicted to giving them. There have been some pretty memorable ones of the hundreds I have given over the years, and every time I step out, another hugging human blows my doors off. 




And, I have enjoyed having it be my “deal”. When I meet people they will tell me that they know I am the Hug Lady, or recollect that they have hugged me before. For my Ego, moments like that are like winning lottery ticket:  I am important. I am memorable. I stand out. And, that feeds me for a while in and of itself.  However, what also seems to happen is that I start to feel resentful about the recognition others receive for hugging; that seem to stand out more than I do. I get jealous and I want to separate. I want to stand out MORE than ever. My Ego is a sneaky sucker. 


So, about a year ago, by circumstances around my love of hugs, I was told about and started reading about Free Mom Hugs, and its founder, Sara Cunningham. I was blown away, and was so inspired that there seemed to be an actual movement, with national momentum. It was all that I dreamed of. For myself, of course!  I mean, I am only keeping it real here.


And, when I have hugged with them, and been representing them, I wanted then to be the Free Mom Hugs presence that would be the stand out; that would be more memorable than anyone else. My Ego loves attempting to solidify its position wherever it can. And, I fall for it, every time.




But, in the last couple of days, instead of that being the story that I choose to believe in my runaway train of a mind, I looked at what is happening, with Free Mom Hugs and beyond. Humans are showing up for each other again. Love is being projected and people are hugging one another. And, there is room for everyone. Shit, it is the dream of a lifetime, dozens, hundreds, thousands, MILLIONS of humans hugging each other. At pride, on the street, at festivals and rallies. Just hugging. Just loving one another. Seeing and being seen by one another.
And, honestly, that means no one has to stand out, because everyone does. 





What Do I Know?



When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up and be a social worker. Why? Because I saw the world as broken, and hurting, and I saw myself as the superhero who was going to fix it. To solve every problem, heal every wound. To change the world. To this day, it has created a belief within me that sees myself as the one with the right answers, and the one that is essential for a problem to be solved.


Additionally, by seeing the world as broken, and needing me to fix it, I have also developed the belief that had a certain talent with people, that I could tell if something was bothering someone, and even more than that, WHAT was bothering them. Sometimes, I would call that “gift” in myself being intuitive, or being empathic. And, I do know that those skills live within me, and I do sense things when I really trust myself. But, how I have most often crafted the stories of the problems of others that I weave into my mind, is by simply believing that I know what is going on with them. By the evidence that they show in their body language, the words that they use, or don’t, or emotions that they express. For most of my life, I have been thinking that I know, for certain, what is happening with them.


And, to be fair to myself, sometimes, I have been right.  And, even though I appreciate being tuned into what others are going through, what I have enjoyed about being right is a way to pat myself on the back, to show my own arrogance of thinking how well that I know what the world needs, and how I am certainly the one that can fix it for them.  As I type the words, they sound ugly, and harsh. But, there is ugliness and harshness there, because all of those aspects live in me.  The arrogance, the self centeredness, the bold assuredness of being right, the feeling justified in taking a position or a side.  And, those aspects that are more difficult to look at sometimes live in all of us.


The deepest truth that I now understand, is that no matter what evidence I believe that I see to prove myself correct about someone, is that I can never, ever know what is going on with someone else. Even if they tell me. And, this includes myself as well. Although all of our thoughts can carry loaded stories along with them, and are always attached to some belief system we possess, we don’t even have to believe our own thoughts about ourselves. We don’t write the story for someone else, except in our heads. We embellish the stories in our heads with details that we feel certain are right, and then, have an ongoing battle within us based on our assumptions.
We can only ever know best what is going on with ourselves. That takes enough cleaning and clearing, for sure. I never have to take anyone else personally, and if I make assumptions, I am mostly likely going to be wrong, and I will be telling a story that does not include the other person, and only lives in my head. It is destructive and not loving.


I feel like coming to this realization again, in a really deep, profound way, is going to light the way for me to move forward with others, and circumstances, with Love, Light and Presence.



The Beauty of Aging!



I took a walk in the woods this morning, the first time in quite a few weeks. When I don’t visit with nature for a long period of time, I feel myself getting replenished and gaining new wisdom while I am there. Today was certainly no exception. 


What occurred to me today, as I walked along a rocky path in the woods, not sure where it would lead, I was struck with a thought about my aging, and about the process of aging in years on the body.  I have been coming to a more loving relationship with my body in the last few months, but today I was struck by my deep appreciation and honor for my body, all that it is, and precisely as it is. And, it led me to also have a deep appreciation for the aging process, growing older, and watching my body, thoughts, and heart change.


In terms of my body, I love how strongly it has been there for me throughout my lifetime. I am here, in this physical form, for close to 57 years. I feel achy more often; I see skin sagging where I didn’t notice it before; I see my body change in terms of where weight distributes, and doesn’t; and feel subtle shifts in my sleeping and eating patterns. Although I know it is just the vessel that my Soul happens to be storing itself in for right now, my body has been a great vehicle with which to experience Life. I have come to not only love my body, as it is, but to actually celebrate and honor it, as it is. It continues to serve me so well.


When I was in Florida a few weeks ago, and had some time with my parents, I noticed how much my body resembles my mother’s body, and how I love that! I love that as I age, I will ease into the natural flow of my body, its strengths and needs, and being with it as it is. I am sinking into my own essence with great honor and without apology.




In addition to my body, I am more unapologetic, free and open than I have ever been in my life. I am expanded, authentic, and make very few mistakes about knowing what it is that I most want, but then, asking for it in an honest, loving way. With Grace. And, instead of feeling a sense of entitlement to be myself in the world, as if I have to prove how worthy I am, I just really, finally, believe how worthy I Am. How beautiful, shiny, available, and true I Am, in all aspects of Life as it is for me right now. I feel like an old, wise woman who has learned many lessons, and can now shine the learnings and believe them to be true for Herself. It is a coming home like I have never experienced before.


And, even though aging of course, can remind us of our mortality, it is a welcoming that I feel within to be as present as possible, to appreciate the fleeting nature of all things, including myself, and to be at One with all that Is. It reminds of my Eternal, Infinite Nature. 


And So It Is. 





Exquisite Pain.


There was a time in my life, which now feels very long ago indeed, when I was completed wedded to pain and suffering. I believed that my emotions were something on which I was carried away, and that I had to feel every aspect of them in a demonstrative and dramatic way. And, that while I was feeling them, I would weave these beautifully artistic stories that kept me wrapped up in the madness of them. I not only saw no other way of experiencing and expressing my emotions; I didn’t want any other way.


For me, being dramatically connected to emotion was my way of gaining attention from the outside world, and it also was based on my belief that it made me a connected, compassionate person. So, not only would I always have a deeply intense response to “negative” circumstances in my own life, but would also feel the need to be interwoven with every inequity and hardship that existed in the world. That could be a friend who was struggling, or an earthquake on the other side of the world. It all felt equally as intense no matter what the nature of relationship to me, or the circumstance itself. 


In my day to day living, it impacted me by feeling like I was always on a roller coaster, literally feeling the ups and downs in my body and believing it was out of my control. And, by default, those around me were also brought along for the ride, and as a result, never knew how I would be impacted when they would talk to me about something. Many things in my life felt painful, and I believe, over time, I came to see that pain as not only deeply hurtful, but also, in a strange way, as exquisite, enchanting; like even though I didn’t like the feeling, I could not turn away from it. Exquisite Pain is how I would best describe it.


The part of it that made it so enticing for me, was the stories that I would weave around my emotions. I not only believed that I was the emotions that I was feeling, I wove an identity around it, as a person who was extra sensitive, who was easily influenced by the world around her. And, although I have no judgment about that time of my life, it felt pretty helpless much of the time, and I believed that if I were not that influenced by my emotions, that it meant that I was unfeeling, uncaring, or detached in some way.


Gratefully, I found my true path that was the way to Peace and Surrender within myself. I discovered, through a deep letting go process, that I can feel any emotion that comes through me. However, it NEVER has to dictate who I am, or what I choose to do with it.  No matter what, the more often that I can simply accept everything as It Is, whether that be an emotion, a circumstance, or both, than the more deep the Peace that will settle within me. I can listen to the stories of another, without making it my own. I can feel all the feels that occur within me each day, without feeling carried away by them. No matter what is going on around or within me, I ALWAYS get to choose.


And, today, I get to choose differently. And, the result is Exquisite Peace. 



New Skin.



This blog, this space, for the dozen or so years that I have been maintaining it, has been an account of my shifts, my changes, and my growth. And, in those years, I have gone through many changes, shifts, and experienced a lot of growing pains. The parts that have often felt painful to me, or those that were losses I did not expect, or outcomes that were not what I would have wanted for myself. Looking back now, even though I am grateful for all of the changes that have happened, and know that they were purposeful to bring me to this very spot, it hurt a lot.


I am now going through yet another transformation, a change that I did not see coming, yet, one that I am confidently embracing. I haven’t made a New Year’s Resolution in several years now, but when 2019 began, I resolved to be more purposeful and consistent about my awareness of the Present Moment. For me, that means becoming still more often; listening to and tuning into my breath; and remembering that the past is a memory trace and the future doesn’t exist. The book, The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle, has been one of the greatest guides for me to be where I am with presence today. And, along the way, I have created my own practice to keep strengthening my presence muscle.


However, what I have noticed as I become more aware, alert and present, is that I have still felt the need to keep myself insulated in a way; to keep a barrier between me and the rest of the world. Now, I give free hugs; I hold my arms open on the street for strangers to me, willingly, lovingly, and with great passion for it. Yet, there are many other times in my life when I would feel self conscious, diminished or ill equipped to be among my fellow humans. And, the insulation that I would wrap myself with was some type of substance to take away the discomfort. Most frequently, that has been alcohol or cannabis.


Now for those of you whom know me fairly well, and over a long period of time, I have stopped using substances in the past, due to a belief that I was dealing with an addiction, and needed to abstain for my own well being. And, over the two years that I was sober, and attending meetings, and using a sponsor, I learned a lot, about what I thought addiction was, and wasn’t, and what sobriety did to help me in that phase of my life. And, it helped me in so many brilliant ways, and introduced me to some great philosophies and amazing people. But, after two years, I wanted to try it out again, see if I could use alcohol, socially and otherwise, without it feeling like an addiction that I could not control. And, for the few years that I have resumed drinking, and using cannabis as well, I have gone through phases of feeling more, and less in control. And, have used substances for all sorts of reasons.


I still don’t know what my full opinion for myself is about addiction, but something even deeper than that started speaking to me just a few days ago about my ongoing habit and use of any kind of substance. I have started to understand that anything that I use to create a barrier between me and the world is actually working to dampen my spirit, dampen my true self. And, it also deadens my experience of the world, even if I am using it in a fully conscious way. And, although I have stopped desiring to use substances in the past, for a variety of reasons, this time, there is no guilt attached. There is no excusing, or blaming, or needing to find a deeper reason why. I just don’t want to anymore.


I want to be as present as possible, and to me, that means removing any and all obstacles that may interfere with that. In addition, I don’t have a single thought or feeling that if I were to choose to have a drink or something else at some point in the future, I don’t feel any worry or shame about that either. I know that as long as I am doing my best, that is all I can ever do.


But, it feels strange. It feels like I woke up this morning as if seeing my world around me for the first time. I feel like a newborn, fresh and alive, with new skin that seems fragile. I feel sensitive and raw. And, I feel so free, connected and pure that it seems like I am finally ready to be here, Now.


I am ready to Love in my deepest way. IMG_4931