All posts by vanessaleighsblog



Recently, I have been realizing more and more how at ease I have become with myself. Lighter and more present and genuine, in more areas of my life at the same time. For me, this is a startling realization, because it is not where I have been at for most, if not all of my life up to this point. 


For most of my life, I have seen myself as a victim. If someone expressed an opinion to me that I interpreted as negative or as a judgment, even in my own defense to the contrary, I would always take it in as the truth. In addition, I would get to attack them as the person who attacked me.  A tricky cycle, yet somewhere along the line I learned it carefully and never chose anything different for myself. The accumulating effects of this were self doubt, self loathing, feeling like a victim in all circumstances, and building of resentment and judgment. I did not know I could choose differently.


Then, beginning a few years ago, well into my adulthood, I started reading more books, studying more theories and concepts, and seeing that there could be another choice for me. I believed that it could be true to not see myself as helpless, not as a victim, but as powerful in my life. Yet I still didn’t choose it for myself; I was still enticed by feeling like a victim, a freak, like no one saw the goodness that I could bring to the world. And, that it was other people’s fault.


When, I first started offering hugs, I was just standing on a street corner. With my arms opened up wide. On the outside, I was seeming to show that hugs were available if someone wanted or needed one; that I didn’t care whether or not they would give me a hug. But, on the inside, I was placing the value of what I was offering on whether or not people stopped for a hug, or even looked my way for that matter. Even though I believed in what I was doing, I also felt weird, strange and odd for what I was offering. I wasn’t at ease yet with just being me, and having that be enough. 


Yesterday, I spent nearly three hours offering hugs in my city. I had so much fun, and the beautiful part is that, I didn’t get that many hugs. Yet I had so many beautiful interactions with other humans. I was just being myself, and I felt amazing and inspired. Even with moments of self doubt, I have become so much more loving toward myself about who I Am and what I do in the world. I know that who I Am is not given its meaning or value by others around me. And, that I get to honor the value of each person I see, meet, or interact with, for just being who they are. It is the most free and peaceful that I have ever been. 



Dear Aunt Ruth

“And in the end, the love you take 

Is equal to the love 

You make.”  The Beatles, Abbey Road

Dear Aunt Ruth:

Not that I am counting, but it has been nearly fifteen months since you died. Most days, that feels like a new normal to me; I have become accustomed to life continuing on without your physical presence in it. And, I say and feel that with no guilt or shame whatever. I am understand death, and dying, more deeply than ever before, and understand that only your physical body experienced death, yet you are always and forever all around me.


Yet tonight, after my yoga class and as I was driving home, I lost my breath as I thought of you not being here physically anymore. The cry felt like a choke in my throat, and some tears came. The quote above was playing as I was driving, and my mind and heart went immediately to you.


Now, it had been building for the last several days. Maybe it was when I would think about my book, and how exciting it is that I am going to be published, one of my dreams come true. I want you to be here at my launch party. Maybe it was because I finally got the ring sized, the one that you are wearing in this very picture, the only item that I cared to have that belonged to you. Maybe it was because I was wearing one of your Oak Island tee shirts, the only destination in your later years that we could ever get you to leave home for; you never missed a year in ten years at the beach. Or, maybe it was listening to Abbey Road in my new, blue Hug Bug, belting out Oh, Darling!, just like I did for you at the beach, pretending I was playing a piano, and you watching me with tears in your eyes. Or, that line: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”


Whatever the reason, I am missing you fiercely. I hear your voice in my head, but won’t talk to you on the telephone again. I see your face, but won’t ever touch it again. I feel your touch, yet these moments are never again. Of course, I am not being present, not staying in the now when I have these longings; I am remembering times that have gone by, never to return, only a mere memory trace and nothing more.

Still, I crave having you with me again. We had no unfinished business, no ugly history that needed to be sorted out in order to be at peace. I just wanted to be with you as often as I could. I loved your humor, your honesty, your humility, your love and your care. I loved that you loved me as deeply and courageously as you did, and I felt it, every minute of my life. 

So, I am missing you. And, in another moment, I will feel your presence deep, full and eternal, and the missing will pass. Until that time, I will shed tears, stay with my heart, and remember all that you are and forever will be to me.

I love you always.

Nessa xoxo


Presence and Peace.


The past few days have been deeply shape shifting and mind altering for me. I tend to keep the same routine in how I do my learning about where I want to grow next: I read books, and spend time in the quiet. I remind myself, in the car, at work and at home, multiple times a day about how to come back to the present moment. Some days, I feel really successful in becoming present. However, there are many days in which I feel like I am completely in my head, a lot of the time. 

I don’t have the illusion that I have a capacity for a completely quiet mind; I call that an illusion, because there is always chatter in my head. Even when I am being as present as possible, and not choosing to worry on anything in particular, there are stories galore being hatched in my noggin. That isn’t bad in and of itself, but when I begin to tell myself a whole novel’s worth of tales about that one strand of thought, it becomes somewhat overwhelming and ultimately problematic. So, I do my best to open myself to the thoughts, allow them to float by like clouds, and not take them too seriously.

But something much deeper and intimate happened to me this week. I decided to begin “formally” meditating. Typically, I sit quietly, on the couch or in a chair, every morning before I get ready to begin the scheduled portions of my day. I also listen to books on CD in my car often, or ride without any sound at all, to extend that feeling of quiet and peace. I have not done an actual meditation practice in several years. After a series of stories a few days ago about me and others around me, I wanted to make a more concentrated effort to quiet them down. I began meditating for 10 minutes in the morning, sitting quietly and allowing my thoughts to float by. 

I don’t know if it is the actual meditation, the readiness within myself that I felt to do it, or the readiness of learning this particular lesson myself, but I broke loose of some really old mind and heart patterns. No matter how humble I like to think that I am, I still have periods of entrenched arrogance, telling myself that I have learned all that I need to, and that others just need to “catch up” with where I am at. It is gross at the same time that it is so comically egoic and human. Catching that arrogance this week was like doing a cleanse, and feeling this sense of emptiness and clarity all at the same time. 

I decided to meditate this morning, by concentrating on two words which I wanted to carry with me through the day. For every in breath, I would think Presence, and for every out breath, I would think Peace. Both are necessary and craved in my current world. After clearing out some old patterns and thoughts this week, I understood how critical both are in my world. And, how I can still find places in me that need smoothing to be more in synch with both. 

I love being a teacher, a leader, and a light for others. But, I know I need to be first and foremost, a student. 


Fat and Happy.


My body and my image of it, in terms of my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, have been on quite the journey throughout my time here. I have been housed in this physical vessel for over 55 years so far. I have been in various feelings states in that time about it. Anything from pure shame and disdain, to pride and ease. With lots of feelings and thoughts in between as well. 

What is most interesting to me, however, is that what I have felt about myself, either positive or negative, has always related directly to something outside of myself. So, when the scale read 211 pounds, I felt deep shame; I would criticize myself in the mirror and in my head. Then, when the scale read 200 pounds, 180 pounds, 150 pounds, I would feel a deeper sense of satisfaction and “happiness”, because I was losing weight. In addition, if I felt hungry in between meals, or wanted to order french fries instead of a salad, I would experience loud chatter in my head, about how bad I was.

When I started to eat more nuts, avocados, and coconut oil, I was terrified about how much weight I might gain from it. I have followed many of the eating plans, regimens, and diets that are around. I have weighed myself daily, and avoided doctors’ appointments so I wouldn’t have to get on the scale. I have had the sense of absolute dread when I would pull out my clothes for the season, about whether or not they would still fit, or be too tight.

I have obsessed, cried, cursed, wished, and waited for something to change, so that I would be different, look different, or both. I was sure that I knew the true equation: the number on the scale, or the size in the closet, is in direct correlation to how valuable or beautiful I am, and whether I have worth. In this type of math, the math of self loathing, less (pounds) is better.

With the grace of the powers that oversee my life, and with my own willingness to see a different, more authentic truth, I have rescripted this in my head. I no longer equate my personal worth with what size or weight that I am. I have chosen to no longer choose shame when I don’t take a walk for a week, or have fries for lunch. I buy comfortable clothes and give away those that are too small for me. I stopped looking in the mirror, scrutinizing for every flaw, and know that the surface body that I see is not the summation of who I Am. I tuned in with how to care for myself more deeply than ever before.

This weekend, I was spending some time with my parents, and as my father commented on how happy I am, and how much it shows on me, a deep Truth showed itself to me once more: I am fat, according to many of the schools of thought in the world. And, I am blissfully happy, in all that I think, say and do. It’s not perfection by any means, and I still feel body shame at times. Yet, I finally get it, that as long as I am taking care of my body, mind, soul and heart, in the best ways that I know how, tuned in to what I really want and need, that is enough. No matter how it appears on the outside, or what others expect or want from me. I am always enough. Complete. Whole. 

Fat and Happy as my True Self. 



The Beauty of Impermanence.


It’s pretty common for me to get into a routine about certain things in my world. Often times, on a Saturday morning, I will go for a walk, by myself or with my wife, at Lake Scranton near our home. This morning was particularly beautiful, and although I wanted to get out and take a walk, the Lake was not calling to me; however, Nay Aug Park was. I drove over there and started out on the Davis Trail, and as soon as I saw this deadening tree I understood why I was pulled. 

The previous evening, my wife had given me a sweater that had belonged to her sister, Diane, my soul sister, who died unexpectedly two months ago. I had felt deep emotion, after giving hugs all evening around the city, when she told me that she wanted me to have it. In that moment, I not only missed Diane’s presence in my 3D life, but I was more acutely aware of impermanence, and how that is true for All Things, human and otherwise. As I walked on the Davis Trail, I saw this tree, and realized that I was deepening that lesson. And more was to come.

I could choose to either stay on the dirt trail, or to walk toward the waterfalls and hike on the rocks. I decided that the rocks felt like the place to be today. As I walked down the steps toward the water, I was aware of how present and mindful I needed to be with each step; there was a hard frost last night, and the steps, leaves, and rocks were slippery. Again, the idea of impermanence, the fleeting nature of things, and my own temporary nature came to me. 


I walked along the rocks, large and small, and sat for a few minutes in the crisp morning air, listening to the water running beside me. I kept walking along the brook, and up the hill toward the other end of the trail. As I got back on the Davis Trail, I found a makeshift memorial, underneath the treehouse. There were candles, flowers, and messages. Again, this lesson speaks to me


Every image that I encountered about impermanence- a sweater, a deadening tree, the memorial- had radiant beauty to it. Whether in its appearance, its heart feeling, or its intention, the beauty of each part shone through. This stayed with me as I left the park, and remembered yet again how temporary we all are, as well as everything around us. To some, and to me for much of my life, that knowing would bring to me a deep sense of fear and anticipation. Today, it reminds me of the essential way in which I want to approach my life, as often as possible: In the Present Moment. To be right here, right now, without memory or anticipation, I get to enjoy the deep beauty of what is, and also remember that it is only here Now, and will never be again. It reminds me of the grace of gratitude in my world and how it opens me up to many new, wondrous things. That our fleeting nature reminds me of how I always, in all phases, a part of the whole. A beginning from and returning to the Source.

And, that beauty exists in each portion of our world, no matter where it is at in its evolution.