Archive for the ‘Inspirational’ Category

Mommmmm!

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

“I want you to be really, really selfish. The more selfish and nurturing you can be for yourself, the by-product for those that you love…is greatly enhanced.”   Greg Gumucio

“Contemporary research shows that happy people are more altruistic, more productive, more helpful, more likable, more creative, more resilient, more interested in others, friendlier, and healthier.”  Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

 

The other day while out to dinner with my kiddos, I shared something I did when I was sixteen that they were not ready to hear.  Casey, my eighteen year old responded, “Mommmmm, you really need to stay on your pedestal!  In fact, you need to stay on it for four more years.  Once Maggie graduates from high school then you can share your stories with us.  But, not till then.”

Casey darling, you crack me up.  I get it.  There are just some things you simply do not want to know about me.  And, honestly, there are some things I don’t want you to know.

It is difficult for our kids to think of us as more than moms.  Just ask them how they feel about the fact that their mom has sex with their dad.  Casey’s answer, “it makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon.”

Casey and his girlfriend Hailey

But what I am noticing a lot these days is that it is not just our kids that are having a difficult time, it is the moms themselves!  Many of our dreams and desires have been pushed to the back burner, smoldering away, while the everyday duties of taking care of the kids, house, bills, dogs, cats and fish consume us.  We then forget to take care of our physical, emotional, intellectual and sexual selves.  In fact, some may even prefer to gouge our own eyes out with a spoon than have sex with our husband after a long day of being a mom.

So, in response to this phenomenon, I posted this on The Yes Mom Facebook page yesterday.


A beautiful young mom who is quite dear to me replied, “Thanks, I needed this today.”

I am happy that I could help and I hope you did something really special for yourself.  I certainly could have used this reminder when my kids were young.  I admit I had a tendency of sacrificing myself, my health, and my happiness in the name of love for my family.  Actually, who am I kidding, I still do.  But, I am getting better at it every day.  I go for hikes, write, play music, travel, juice, spend time with my friends and yes, enjoy sex!

I have learned over the years, “You can’t just sit there and put everyone’s life ahead of yours and call that love.”  A brilliant quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower; although as all you moms know, there is not much sitting.

I have also learned that If you believe long enough that sacrifice at your own expense is love, it will inevitably turn into resentment, grief or possibly worse…depression, over-eating, over-drinking, affairs, illness or in my case breast cancer.

The most powerful teaching moments are the times we mess up.  Breast cancer was one of those times.  It had a profound effect on me.  I was a good mom, I still am, but I didn’t always take care of myself.  I didn’t make my happiness priority.  I had this idea that if I put myself before my kiddos, I was being selfish.  I was wrong.  It only becomes selfish when it is at other people’s expense.

By the way, I may be using moms as an example here, but this applies to everyone.  Everyone that gives themselves up!  Everyone that sacrifices their wants and desires by putting others first!  That does not mean that we should not be “in service” to others.  It means we have to take care of ourselves in order to be in service to others.

So, to all you incredibly beautiful, intelligent, women and men with stars in your eyes, books to write, mountains to climb, and businesses to start, let go of that white knuckle grip on believing your are selfish when you are taking care of yourself.  Remember you are worthy!  It is not selfish to be healthy!  It is not selfish to be happy!  It is not selfish to pursue your dreams!  It is necessary!

Oh, and one more thing.  “Casey, I have had sex more times than you would ever want to know.”  Love you sweetie!  Love you all!

 

Loud and Proud

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

I dedicate this blog to a group of women who have not forgotten how to dance, sing, and paint the leaves on a tree any color they want! 

I love you Daisy Chain!

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ― Martha Graham

“I have no desires, save the desire to express myself in defiance of all the world’s muteness.” 
― Vladimir Nabokov

Saturday night, Daisy Chain blew the roof off Knuckle Heads in San Clemente.  Knuckle Heads is a little biker bar by the sea with a big beating heart.  They loved us.  We loved them.  It was a blast.  But the truly big heart was the band we got to play with, Hurt and the Heart Beat!  They were so much fun.  I want to play with them again and again and again.

The really cool thing about this, I fantasized about being the lead singer in an all girl rock band for years.  Today, I am living it.  Today, I am living the dream of my teenage girl self.  Sometimes I need to pinch myself to make sure it’s all for real.

Daisy Chain with Angela on vocals and Debi on Guitar

Raundi Moore Kondo with Hurt and the Heart Beat

So why did it take me so long to sign up for this?  Why didn’t I put a band together when I was 16, 18, or 20?  The simple and not so proud truth is that I was afraid.  I thought playing in a band was for the highly trained, the talented, the excellent; the musician.  I thought it was for other people.  I thought I wasn’t good enough.

What a bunch of hogwash.  I was good enough.  I am good enough.  Am I perfect?  Hell no!  Is our band going to get signed?  I highly doubt it!  Are we going to put out a platinum album?  Probably not.  But, are we having fun?  Yes!  Are other people having fun?  Absolutely!  Am I happy?  Enormously!

I am happy because I get to dress up in a hot sexy outfits, dance, sweat, and belt out my story to the world.  And, as you all know, I have a story.

After the show. Hot and sweaty with Amy our keyboardist!

Our Goddess Drummer Isis

I have to admit, it takes some courage to get on that stage.  And, it takes courage to tell my story.  And what I have learned over the years, courage doesn’t just happen.  It’s a choice!  And, we all have a choice.  The first time I chose to sing into a microphone, my words were barely audible.  I pulled a Jim Morrison, turning my back to anybody that was watching. It was scary shit.  My heart was racing, my palms were sweating, and that stupid little voice in my head kept saying, “What the hell are you doing Deanne?  Who do you think you are?  Thank my lucky stars I didn’t listen to that little voice because Saturday night would have never happened.

I have heard people say “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”  Not only is this an absurd statement, it’s a deadly belief.  We are all creative beings; every last one of us.  It is in our nature.  We were each born with the incredible ability to make something out of nothing.  We were each born with the need to express our self.  As Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist.  The problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”

Unfortunately, something happens to many of us as we grow up.  Our creative spirit gets lost along the way somewhere and we forget.  We forget to dance.  We forget to sing.  We forget to color outside of the lines.  As Brene Brown, my favorite author who writes extensively about living a creative life says, ‘it gets shamed out of us.”  God forbid you paint the leaves of a tree pink, purple or black.

If you have forgotten and are unsure of how to truly express yourself, go back to your childhood.  What did you enjoy doing when you were a kid before shame set in, before you didn’t care if you made a fool of yourself, before failing was considered a bad thing and perfectionism was overrated?  Painting perhaps?  Building model planes?  Maybe baking cookies with your mom, singing to Glen Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy or dancing to Donny and Marie…”I’m a little bit country, I’m a little bit rock’n roll.  Whatever it was that you enjoyed back then may give you a clue to something you may enjoy today.  If you can’t come up with something, maybe there is an activity or outlet that helps you connect to your childhood; maybe something that helps you “reconnect to the freedom you felt as a child.”  (Brene Brown)

"The Swamp"

Our guest guitarist Dylan sitting in for the lovely Diana!

It is extremely important to find that outlet, to express yourself in a way that helps you reconnect to that freedom, because if you don’t, it will bite you in the ass.  “A wound is like a mouth.”* If you don’t say it, if you don’t sing it, if you don’t write it, paint it, perform it, build it, design it, wear it, or sculpt it, the unused creativity will come out in other forms, and I can assure you, you will not like the way it comes out.  As Sigmund Freud said, “Unexpressed emotions will never die.  They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.”  And Brene Brown explains that “unused creativity is not benign–it metastasizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, shame…”

These days, I spend my life making sure that my creativity gets expressed so that it does not metastasize.  It has been suggested that breast cancer is repressed energy; anger and grief eating away at you from the inside.  That’s why I let it all out now, on stage, in my writing, any form that comes to me. Loud and proud!

I have realized over the years as I have learned to live out-loud, that self expression is highly correlated to joy.  And we are all hungry for joy.  Not only is it a means to freedom, connection to ourselves and to others, it is the reason we are all on this planet as one; to bring a little bit of our quirky little selves to the cacophony of other quirky little selves, resulting in the most amazing of harmonies.  So go ahead.  Show up!  Let yourself be seen!  Say it loud and proud my friends!  Because we are all in this together!

 

** Michael Meade

Dream Bigger

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Havasupai Falls

Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.  ‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

 Lewis Carroll

“If you doubt you can accomplish something, then you can’t accomplish it. You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.” 

 Rosalyn Carter

 

I did it!  I hiked the Grand Canyon.  I wasn’t sure I could, but I knew I would.  Thirty two miles in three days with six awesome friends and family.  Up and down, down and up.  Through narrow switch backs, dry washes, and deep red sand.  Every step taking me closer and further away.

Occasional trains of pack mules led by local Native Americans would roar by us like a freight train as we hugged the canyon wall, seasoned backpackers armed with hiking poles would smile and stop to chat, and young bikini clad Millennials and an occasional helicopter would remind us that we were still in the 21st century.

Me and my Pack

Riley taking a break

Beaver Falls with Kevin, Jenna, Me, Riley, Eric, Aaron and David

Hiking the Grand Canyon was an incredible feat for me.  Especially since just a few months ago, I found myself inside another MRI machine looking for cancer on my spinal cord.  I had severe back pain and was losing the use of my left hand.  They did not find any cancer, thank God, but my body was weak.

In the meanwhile, I had just committed to hiking the canyon with my brothers and my son, Riley.  There was no way I was going to back out.  Wading in the blue waters of Havasupai Falls has always been on the top of my bucket list.  Plus, I made a commitment to my family and to myself.

Riley and Me

My handsome brothers!

Still not sure what was causing my pain and fatigue, I knew I had to move on and regain my strength.  So, every day, I put on my trail runners and hiked the back hills of Orange, gaining my muscle and confidence bit by bit.  It wasn’t easy, but I’ve had a lot of practice in not easy.

“I’m not sure I can do this!”  I would tell my kids.  “How am I going to hike 12 miles down a steep rocky twisting trail while carrying all of my gear on my back and then 12 miles back up the same trail with all my gear on my back.”  I would have visions of losing my balance and falling in.  My heart would start racing as I saw my family standing there without me in complete shock.  I imagined my epitaph.  Here lies a brave but stupid woman.  Morbid and ridiculous I know.  But we all do it.  We imagine the worse, fall prey to our negative thoughts, and believe we can’t do something when in fact we absolutely can.

I climbed this!
I can do this!
I did it!

Of course, I was wrong.  And, I wasn’t just a little wrong, I was dead wrong.  I can do it.  And, I can do it really well, even with 40 lbs on my back.  This was a huge lesson for me.  After reaching the top of that canyon, after hiking a total of 32 miles over the weekend, climbing 80 degree cliffs, crossing narrow bridges and trekking through rivers, I have learned to never say I can’t again.  I have learned to never doubt my ability.  And, I have learned to never belittle my dreams.  In fact, it is time to dream bigger.

Crossing bridges!

Eric taking a leap!

Words are powerful stuff.  For they become action or non-action.  If you say you can then you will.  If you say you can’t then you won’t.  And, if you don’t you will never know what you are capable of.  And that would be such a shame because those negative beliefs will become insidious.  They will creep into every part of your life and develop into bad habits.  These habits, in time, will become part of your character.  And, in the long run, “I can’t” will become your destiny.

When the real truth is you can, you are absolutely capable!

In fact, not only are we all capable, each of us is more than capable and we are more capable than we know.  Thomas Edison knew this.  He said, “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”

 

On top of the world!

So, my friends go astound yourself today.  Go astound yourself every day.  Climb that mountain, get that job, ask that girl out, take that guitar lesson, and go after your dreams.  Do not say I can’t.  Say YES I CAN and I promise YOU WILL!

I am going to leave you with these empowering words by Mike Norton, a bestselling author who is a winner of the USS Dwight Eisenhower award for essays of world peace and respect:

“Never say that you can’t do something, or that something seems impossible, or that something can’t be done, no matter how discouraging or harrowing it may be; human beings are limited only by what we allow ourselves to be limited by: our own minds. We are each the masters of our own reality; when we become self-aware to this: absolutely anything in the world is possible.  Master yourself, and become king of the world around you. Let no odds, chastisement, exile, doubt, fear, or ANY mental virii prevent you from accomplishing your dreams. Never be a victim of life; be its conqueror.”

 

 

Do Not Be Afraid to Go to Hell

Friday, April 18th, 2014

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”   Flannery O’Connor

“Recovery lies not in the other person – no matter how much we believe it does, it lies in ourselves”…Melody Beattie

Hello my friends,

I would like to take this moment to thank you for sticking with me these last few years during some of the most trying times of my life.  It is such a privilege to share my story with all of you.  I hope that as I work through my story it helps you work through yours.  For I know that everybody has a story.

During these years, I have hit rock bottom, more than once.  I have seen what it looks like inside an MRI machine, an Alanon meeting, an empty bottle of wine, self-help books, an unfulfilled dream, and my brain; some of it not so pretty, but all of it necessary.

It is necessary, because I would not be where I am today.  Although it took me almost a decade to get here, I am truly grateful for every minute of it; the good, the bad and the ugly.  And boy was there ugly.  The bills we couldn’t pay, the house we lost, cancer, job loss, late night fights and mournful mornings after.  But I learned just as much, if not more, from the ugly times as I did the good times.  Without those painful times, without the visits to the “swamplands of my soul” I would have never had the insight and courage to change myself and my life.  It was Aeschylus over 2500 years ago that observed, “through suffering we come to wisdom.”

All of our lives are full of ups and downs.  There are times with and times without.  There is tragedy and there is joy.  There are moments you never want to visit again, moments you wish you could do over, and moments you wish you could do over and over again.

Some of it is out of your control, it just happens.  You are enjoying your life, and “Whammo,” it hits you hard when you least expect it.  But some of it has been bubbling underneath the surface for years, in the dark recesses of your soul and you know it. You try to avoid it, anesthetize it, and run from it, but no matter how hard you try or how fast you run, you will be pulled down at one time or another.  It is inevitable.  No amount of denial, numbing, over-working or over-sexing will keep you from these visits.

And, why would you want to avoid them in the first place?  Because, and I promise you, it is in these dark places that you will find the light.  It is in these moments that you will discover not only yourself but you will discover true meaning; the meaning behind your depression, the guilt, the anger, loneliness or fear that has brought you here in the first place.   And, once you understand the meaning, your life will be enriched in ways you did not know possible.

But, it may take some time.  For we need to repeat patterns over and over again before we get it.  It sucks but it’s true.  The upside of all of this, when we can finally see the pattern, when we truly get it, we can stop it.  And once we stop it, we will then have the courage to re-imagine, re-create and re-invent ourselves.

For it is the wound and the desire to heal that enlarges us, that pushes us to finally take action and make the changes necessary.  And, it is that beautiful inner voice of yours; that gut feeling, your soul’s craving that will keep you going.  Yes, it’s scary.  But remember, fear and anxiety mean growth; depression, regression.

My desire to heal and live the best life I can possibly live has enlarged me in so many ways.  I have learned to set boundaries.  I have learned to say “yes” when I mean “yes” and “no” when I mean “no.”  I have learned how to stop the pain, accept what is and let go.  I have learned self expression instead of self-repression and my hopes are now grounded in reality instead of false wishes.  I follow my bliss.  I listen to my gut.  I accept uncertainty.  I accept my faults.  I accept myself.  And, when I am angry, I let people know.  When I am sad, I cry.  And, when I am happy, I laugh.  I am no longer silent.  I am no longer deaf.  And, when I stumble, I stumble with my eyes wide open.

So do not run from the swamplands my friends.  Do not resist.  Again, what you resist; persists.  Go through; all the way to the bottom if you must, but go.  As Carl Jung so beautifully describes,” The dread and resistance which every natural human being experiences when it comes to delving too deeply into himself is, at bottom, the fear of the journey to Hades.”  But I promise, you cannot understand heaven, if you have not been to hell.

All my love,

Deanne

Thinking and Feeling are Over Rated

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Morro Bay

I haven’t written a blog in two months.  I simply could not get myself to take a closer look at anything except a flower, my quinoa salad or the Santiago Oaks that line the path on my daily hike.  Writing a blog requires a lot of thinking and feeling.  I was tired of thinking and feeling.  It was interfering with my life.

So I decided to see and do instead.

According to Karen Mazaen Miller, author and Zen Buddhist Priest, “When you get sick and tired of what you think and feel, then you can pay attention to what you see and do.”  I came across her quote while scrolling through Facebook.  It is based on the teachings of the famous 13th century Zen master, Dogen Zenji.  And, it is called enlightenment.

Have you ever looked at a bowl of quinoa?  I mean really looked at it.  It’s like eating a bowl full of tiny planet Saturn’s.   Or, how about a Cholla cactus?  The spikes are almost invisible at its sharpest point.  Then there are my cat’s whiskers.  Almost like a Cholla cactus spike but embedded in her cheek, absolutely extraordinary.

No, I am not on drugs.  I guess you could say I am experiencing enlightenment and it is awesome.

Enlightenment is defined differently depending on who you ask.  Kant explains it as “a man’s emergence from his self imposed nonage.  Nonage is the inability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance.”  In Buddhism, enlightenment is when you discover the truth about life.  For Dogen Zenji, it is paying attention to what we see and do, without falling victim to what we think and how we feel.  It is being in the moment.  There is no yesterday, no tomorrow.  There is just now.  Like enjoying the warm sun on your back while watering the flowers, savoring the bitter flavor of kale mixed with garlic and sweet cranberries, or noticing cat’s whiskers.  It is simply a way of being.  So simple, yet not.

None of these explanations of enlightenment are right or wrong, or better or worse.  They just are.  The moment I finally got this, the moment I truly understood this with every fiber of my being, something shifted in me so profound that I was changed forever.  I was transformed.  Transformation is a deep, fundamental change, altering the very nature of something.  It is the bringing forth a new way of being.  I have found a new way of being.

By the way, some transformation takes years, some happen in one miraculous moment.

Like the day I quit smoking 27 years ago.  I was a sophomore at The University of Arizona.  I lived on the 5th floor of the Coronado dorm.  I was returning from class when I noticed the elevator was packed with students, so I decided to take the stairs.  By the time I reached the 3rd floor I could not breathe.  Huffing and puffing, my heart felt like it was going to pound out of my chest.  I was only 20 years old.

“That’s it,” I told myself.  And it was.  I quit smoking.

I quit smoking because I got it.  I quit letting my thoughts and feelings run my life because I got it!  I quit my marriage because, well, I finally got it!

These miraculous moments don’t just happen a few times in one’s life.  They happen all the time.  Some hit you like a lightening bolt, some like a quiet drop of dew.  Some take years, some only a minute.  But all matter.  All of it.  Like the first time I kissed a boy, sang into a microphone, and gazed into my newborn’s eyes.  Or the day I got my rejection letter from Brain Child Magazine, was diagnosed with cancer and got the call that my dad was in the hospital.

Please do not be intimidated by words like enlightenment and transformation for they are just words describing a state of being.  And, these states of being are not limited to only a few special people.  They are for everyone.  That includes you and me.

So, what have I been doing since my last transformation?

I have been seeing and doing, of course!

I went on a road trip up the coast with Maggie, threw a big Birthday/housewarming party in our new backyard, took a quick trip to Phoenix to help my Mom while my Dad was in the hospital, found myself in another MRI machine and went to our annual home school camping trip to Anza Borrego.  Now I am getting ready for my Grand Canyon hike while working on my book and making career plans for the fall.  Maggie will be going to Orange County High School of the Arts.  She was accepted into the Creative Writing Conservatory.  My days of homeschooling will be behind me forever as a new world of possibilities open up ahead.

Anza Borrego

And, my writing?  It will continue.  For I realize that it was not my writing that was interfering with living.  No, it was me.  I am the only one that can do that.  I was letting my feelings and thoughts take over.  I forgot to stop and smell the roses.  Cliche, I know, but so true.

By the way, while writing this blog, I was reminded that writing IS living.  I got it!

Until next time my friends.  Now go live!

Cultivating Love

Friday, February 14th, 2014

“What happens when people open their hearts?”…
“They get better.”
― Haruki MurakamiNorwegian Wood

Yesterday I had a breakdown.  My emotions could not handle everything coming at me at once.  They were on overload, and I broke.  I broke because I heard words I knew to be so, but had not completely accepted yet.  I heard words that broke my heart.  My rational brain got it; it has gotten it for a long time.  But my heart, my heart is taking it’s time.  It beats at its own pace.

The breakdown was due to a gap in my understanding of what is true and what is fantasy; what is experience and what is hope.  This gap is not anything new or special to just me, it is the human condition.   We all live somewhere in this gap.  But, some people live closer to the truth than others.  I am not one of those people.  I am a bit of a dreamer and can live off hope, for a long time, until reality slaps me in the face, like it always does.

But sometimes we need these slaps in the face.  I know I did.  It was a wake-up call for me.  A wake-up call that I needed very much.  And, do you know what?  I feel so much better.  I have learned that after my breakdowns, I always come out better and stronger, every single time.  Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly, likens breakdowns to a spiritual awakening.  Well at least that is what her analyst told her.  I wholeheartedly agree.  Yesterday was a spiritual awakening.

It is in these moments of pain, when we are swimming in the swamplands of our soul, that we attain meaning and insight into our own lives.  And it is in these times, times of suffering, we find wisdom.

“Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
― Aeschylus

My despair yesterday brought me wisdom.  And, the slap in my face lead me to a few “a-ha” moments.  And, I am grateful.  But, I did not find this wisdom on my own.  I did not find it by turning into a hermit, crawling into bed and distancing myself from the rest of the world.  I found it with the help of friends.  I found it through connection.  Not just a few kind words, a pat on the back, or a sweet text, no, I found it through truly deeply connecting to someone else.  And, it made all the difference.

To deeply connect with the other, you must become vulnerable.  You must be willing to show your imperfections, let go of your persona, and be real.  It is the only way.  There are some people on this planet that have no problem connecting.  It comes naturally.  They live from their hearts.  They are not afraid to be imperfect.  They are not afraid to look ridiculous, show up at a friend’s door not showered, in a green juice stained shirt and black tears flowing down their cheeks.

Then there are others that have a harder time.  Looking good is too important to them.  And vulnerability is perceived as weakness.  Please hear this my friends, vulnerability is not weakness.  I repeat vulnerability is not weakness.  It is quite the opposite actually.  Being vulnerable is the bravest thing you will ever do.

It takes an enormous amount of courage to be vulnerable, to show your true colors, take a risk and show up at someone’s door tattered and worn.  And, not only does it take tremendous courage, according to Brene Brown “it is the birth place of innovation, creativity, change, joy, love, and belonging.”

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known”…Brene Brown

So, what better way to cultivate love than connecting with others on this Valentine’s Day!  I dare all of you today to let down your walls, open your hearts, share your story, your real story, show up at someone’s door if you have to but go make that connection with a friend, a child, a parent or a lover!  Do not be afraid, put yourself out on a limb and connect, connect, connect!

Happy Valentine’s Day my friends!  Love, love, love you!

Love Junkie

Monday, February 3rd, 2014


“Love is like oxygen
You get too much, you get too high
Not enough and you’re gonna die
Love gets you high”…Sweet

I fell in love with love the night I kissed Danny.  I was in 7th grade.  We were at a Friday night football game.  It was cold and I was shaking uncontrollably, but not from the weather.  Being shy and worried someone would see us, we found a private spot huddled between some cars in the school parking lot.  We talked, I giggled and then it happened.  Somehow we found each other’s lips, mouth and tongue between layers of coats, braces and fear.  Slow, wet, and delicious, I was hooked.  Not just to Danny, but to love.  The kind of love that makes you walk slower, your pupils grow larger, your voice increases an octave, you heartbeat syncs up with the other, the daredevil in you takes over, and you lose yourself.  Obliterated! Poof!  Like magic.

But like magic, this type of love has its dark side.  The Greeks refer to it as Eros, named after the Greek God of fertility.  Eros represents desire and sexual passion and is considered dangerous.   In fact, the Greeks didn’t look at this type of love as something positive, like we do today.  “Eros was viewed as a dangerous, fiery, and irrational form of love that could take hold of you and possess you…”  (Yes Magazine)

Eros and Psyche

I know it took hold of me.  Not only was I possessed, I was changed forever that night. The crazy thing about this, I liked being possessed!  I liked the feeling of being under a magical spell, out of control, and “madly” in love.  Like a narcotic, this “madly” in love state was intoxicating.  And, I admit.  I became addicted to it that night in the school parking lot.

I know I am not alone.  Americans are love junkies.  We are obsessed by love songs, infatuated with romantic comedies, smitten by erotic poetry, and sucked into the bottomless pit of porn, Harlequin novels and 50 shades of Grey.  Always looking for our next fix at the bars, on-line, at the office or next door, it has our culture by the balls. Interestingly, the Greeks were frightened by this loss of control but not us; we seek it out even though families have been torn apart, wars fought and bad songs written in the name of this quixotic love.

Maybe the real problem, being raised on Disney movies, 70’s love songs, and Happily Ever Afters, I asked too much of Eros, thinking it was the end all be all.  I believed it would save me, save us all.  Simply find that one perfect man that will sweep you off your feet, work all day, make love to you all night, build you that castle in the suburbs and give you 2.5 children and 6 weeks of vacation in Hawaii each summer; the American Dream.

But, it is not just asking too much of love or wanting the American Dream that makes us want to lose ourselves in romantic love.  It is something deeper, more profound.  Life is hard. We get battered, pushed around, overwhelmed, and/or lonely, so in an attempt to escape the “rigor and hardship of our journey,” (James Hollis) many of us turn to Eros. Eros offers not just an escape from the outside world but an escape from our selves.  In fact, it is complete fusion with the other, the ultimate obliteration of our selves. And, secretly, this is what we all wish for.  Food, alcohol, drugs, sex and work are also used as an escape but nothing is more powerful, more all-mighty than the Greek God Eros.

But, as James Hollis so eloquently explains, “The in love state, great narcotic that it is, numbs consciousness, retards growth, and serves as a soporific to the soul.”  When we are “madly” in love, fused to the other, we not only lose ourselves, we avoid our souls calling.  If we are truly honest with ourselves, we know this to be true.

So what do we do?  Never fall in love again?  Avoid hot crazy passionate sex?  Shrivel up and die?  Absolutely not!  We are human and sex is vital to our health and well-being.  In fact, I hope everyone at some point in their lives is seduced by Eros’ enchanting spell.  There is nothing else like it in the world.  But, one day the spell will break.  Projections will fall away, pupils will shrink, and hearts will un-sync.  And when that happens, we better be able to rise to the occasion, take love to the next level and answer our souls summons or we will be seduced by Eros again and again in the never ending search for the perfect mate to rescue us from our existence.  Of course, the perfect mate doesn’t exist, but those guided by Eros will keep trying.  Desire is funny that way.

To help avoid any confusion about love and understand the power of Eros, the Greeks actually have six different words to explain different types of love. I got these from Yes Magazine.

  • Eros – sexual passion and desire
  • Philia – deep friendship valued more than Eros
  • Ludus – playful love between children or young lovers
  • Agape – love for everyone;  love that is selfless
  • Pragma – longstanding mature love between a married couple
  • Philautia – healthy love of the self, not narcissism

No wonder the Greeks became the impressive civilization they did.  They were on to something. Our one little word, albeit one very big little word, is used to cover a lot of territory.  Do we honestly “love” chocolate like we “love” our children or “love” our parents the same way we “love” our lover?  I hope not.  Maybe if we actually had more than one word for love we Americans wouldn’t be so focused on Eros.  Maybe, we wouldn’t hope to find Eros, Philia, Ludus, Agape, Pragma and Philautia all embodied in one person.  And, maybe we would value the love we receive from our friends, family, and ourselves just as much or more than Eros.  Maybe.

Even if we understood and nurtured all these different types of loves in our lives, we will never truly know love, we will “never truly have relationship” with someone else or ourselves, until we learn to love more consciously.  Loving more consciously requires growing up, being wide awake, present to the moment and answering our souls calling. All of which call for strength, risk, courage, tolerance and the acceptance of ambiguity.  It’s a tall order, I admit.  In fact, it may just be the most difficult thing any of us will ever have to learn in our lives.  But if we don’t, if we don’t learn to love more consciously, if we don’t learn to value love from other sources, if we don’t learn to love ourselves, we will continue not only to chase the all-mighty Eros till the end of our days, we will still be kissing boys in parking lots.

Things that Matter Most

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Things that Matter Most: My family

“…an admittedly eccentric compilation for which I offer neither apology or justification.  It pretends to no completeness, and will undoubtedly stir in the reader many other ideas, notions, prejudices, and predilections that could also have been included.  Such further thoughts, additions, and objections will thereby prove much the richer as readers are summoned to consider what matters most for them.”

James Hollis,  What Matters Most:  Living a Considered Life

These are the things I wished I learned instead of algebra.  Things I wished my parents told me but I wouldn’t have listened if they did.  Things I know I can’t teach my kids but I will try anyway.  These are the things that matter most.  This is MY list.  I do not assume that what matters most to me matters most to you.  But I have a feeling that we are not all that different from each other.  I know this list is not complete.  This is “Part One” of many.  Take what you want from it, leave the rest.  Love you!

Things that Matter Most: My Band

You are one of a kind, an original.  Out of the 7 billion people on this planet, no one has your talents, your abilities, your body or your soul.

Live a life worth living, a life full of possibilities, a life that matters.  No regrets!

Take care of your body.  “Your body is a metaphor of your story.” Depak Chopra.  Write a good story.  Or, if you are like me, you may need to revise it a few times before you get it right.  That’s OK too.  Eat whole foods, exercise daily, go outside, and breathe deep the fresh air and sunshine.

Things that Matter Most: My favorite walking spot

Follow your soul.

Keep learning, reading, travelling and saying “yes” to the world.  There are teachers everywhere and learning moments in every experience, good and bad.  Embrace them both.

Think outside of the box.  Or, get rid of the box altogether.  There are thousands of things you can do with one paperclip if you set your brain free brain and turn off your inner editor.   There are thousands of things you can do without a paperclip as well.  Be creative.  Keep busy.  “Boredom is the pathology of the depressed, or the unimaginative.”  James Hollis

Do not spend more than you earn.   This is such a simple concept but one of the hardest things for me to live by.

Don’t listen to that annoying little voice in your head.  It’s just an annoying little voice.  Instead, go deeper.  Listen to the voice that knows; the voice with power, the one true voice.  It will not lead you astray.  It knows what is best for you, even if you don’t.  And, the more you pay attention to it, the easier it gets.

When that voice (not the annoying little one) is telling you to do something and you are scared to death to do it, do it anyway.  Fear is just fear.  That’s all.  Don’t be afraid of it.  Don’t let it keep you from your dreams.  When I took my kids out of school to homeschool, I had panic attacks.  I was so afraid I would mess up my kid’s lives forever.  That was fear doing the thinking.  I didn’t mess them up.  In fact, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Take risks.  Make mistakes.  Put yourself out on a limb.  Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself.  Don’t be afraid to be wrong.  Don’t be afraid to be yourself.  You will miss out on a full and meaningful life if you play it safe.  Don’t miss out!

Learn to live with the anxiety that comes with not missing out.  Get good at feeling uncomfortable.  Discomfort is normal.  Feel the pain.  Embrace the suffering.  Do not anesthetize with food, alcohol, drugs, work, sex or another person.  Do not fall for distractions, fantasies and quick fixes.  “A life lived only in search for highs will prove in the end to be a transient superficial life.” **

Accept that we truly know nothing.  Accept the fact that everything on this list could change next year.  Accept that you will never know all the answers.  The one thing that is for sure is that nothing is for sure.  Embrace this ambiguity.  It is a sign of being a grown-up.

Grow up!

Things the Matter Most: Riley

Things that Matter Most: Casey

Things that Matter Most: Maggie

Be open!  Open your heart.  Open your arms.  Open!  Unlock the mysteries within.  Break down your walls.  If you have to, get that sledgehammer out…

And love…love with all your heart.  Love like Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha combined.  Love until it hurts.  And it will hurt.

And when it hurts, go ahead and cry. “…you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.” ― Lemony SnicketThe Bad Beginning

Things that Matter Most: My girls Weekend

Be the compassion you want to see in this world.  Feel other’s suffering.  Be empathetic.  Do not judge.

Loneliness is a human condition. Solitude is the cure.

There is no magical other.  I repeat, there is no magical other.  Do not expect someone to take care of you, validate you, rescue you or complete you.  Only you can complete you!

Don’t take anything personally.  Toltec wisdom says, “Nothing others do is because of you.”  Nothing!

Live and let live.

Let go and forgive.  Forgive others and most of all forgive yourself.  Anger and resentment is self destructive.  You are the one that suffers. Buddha says, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

You cannot control another human being.  And, no one can control you.  You are the boss of you.  You do not need permission.  Take personal responsibility for yourself.  No one can protect you from necessary choices.  The choices are yours alone.  You own them.  Take a stand.  Be empowered.  Have a say in your own life.  “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”   The Serenity Prayer

Live your own life, not someone else’s.  Don’t find yourself behind a desk when you want to be behind a drum kit.  The Hindu scriptures tell us, “It is better to do your own duty badly, than to perfectly do another’s.”

More Toltec wisdom:  live with integrity.  Be impeccable with your word.  Don’t assume anything and always, always do your best.

Do not assume that if you are a good person and you live a good life that life will be good to you.  The Universe does not work that way.

Life is not fair.  Get over it.

When life is not happening the way you want, when it is moving slowly or not moving at all; be patient.  Allow things to happen without forcing an outcome.

Things that Matter Most: My boys girlfriends

Happiness is inside of you.  It is not out there.

Happiness is not the measurement of one’s life.  It is a state of being.  Elusive, like trying to catch a butterfly, it bounces on the air here and there, occasionally landing on a random flower or you, then flitters away bouncing off into the air again, usually just out of your reach.  Be thankful when it lands.  And when it flies away, know that it will land again.

Be grateful.

It’s about the journey.

Never ever give up.  As Odysseus reminds us in his hero’s voyage, “I will stay with it and endure through suffering hardship, and once the heaving sea has shaken my raft to pieces, then I will swim.”

Swim, my loves, swim.

Things that Matter Most: You!

And remember always that:

“We are not here to fit in, be well balanced, or provide exempla for others. We are here to be eccentric, different, perhaps strange, perhaps merely to add our small piece, our little clunky, chunky selves, to the great mosaic of being. As the gods intended, we are here to become more and more ourselves.”  James Hollis

So tell me, what is on your list?

Living on the Edge

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Say “yes” to life — and see how life  suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”…― Eckhart Tolle

 “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
― Rainer Maria RilkeLetters to a Young Poet

I want to thank you all for the support and good vibes you have been sending me since my last blog, Open Kimono.  I feel the love.  And, I feel you.  After posting that infamous blog, many of you have come to me to express your desire to change things up, ditch the status quo and be your true authentic selves.  In fact, one very special friend wrote to me and bravely shared, “I need to take a sledgehammer to my life right now but can’t seem to get beyond the fear and need for security.  It is amazing how much one can accept the status quo even with desire for more.”

I so get this.  I have a feeling that many of you get this too.

Taking a sledgehammer to all that I know to be true has definitely changed things.  My life hasn’t necessarily gotten any easier but it is larger, which is a good thing.  Why?  Because, I am following something more than security and status quo. I am following that deep down in your core feeling, beyond flesh, beyond bone, beyond blood and even beyond heart that summons you day and night to do something more!

When I speak of this deep internal feeling, I am not referring to gut or instincts, which are beautiful and valid in and of themselves.  No, I am speaking of something deeper, bigger, numinous, and transcendent.  I am speaking of our soul.  Our soul knows.  It knows what it knows and it wants what it wants – a transcendent meaning that often has little to do with our narrow frame of conscious understanding.*  It speaks to us, guiding us and even summoning us.  It wakes us in the wee hours and haunts us in the light of day.  We can ignore it, but it will not ignore us.  We can try to distract ourselves, and resist its calling, but what we resist will persist.  There is no escape.

The soul is at the heart of all psychology although the word soul has been replaced by psyche.  In fact, the Greek word for soul is psyche.  Without getting too Carl Jung on you, the “self” is in service to our soul.  And to be our true “self,” we must answer to the soul’s summons; a summons toward a larger life, a life of our own design both meaningful and whole.  And, it will summon us, rain or shine, whether we like it or not.  It will beckon until we rise to the occasion.  It will call upon us for an answer.  And if we do not answer the summons, it will answer for us.  And, I promise, we will not like its’ answer.

So why do we not answer?  Why do we ignore its summons?  We ignore its summons because we are afraid of what it is asking of us.  We are afraid of what we are asking of ourselves.

My friend is being summoned and she knows it.  Her admittance is not only honest and brave, it is a step towards her soul’s calling.  And I know she will answer.  But, the ego keeps many of us from answering because it desires comfort above all else.  And when we live from ego instead of soul, we stay small.  We do not step into largeness.  Fear wins, we become disheartened and depressed, and go through the day like zombies, yearning for more.  This discord will eventually manifest itself in our bodies.  According to a recent study in The New York Times, one in four women in their 40’s and 50’s are taking anti-depressants.  This is preposterous especially compared to the fact that only one in ten of the general population is taking antidepressants.

Okay, you gorgeous fabulous mid-life women out there.  I am not writing this blog to depress you even more.  I am hoping to shine some light on things and help inspire change, largeness.  I know that we are at a funky stage in our lives.  It is a time of transition and it is not easy.  A friend of mine expressed this stage in a woman’s life beautifully in a recent E-mail she sent me.  She wrote, “It is strange to be in that next phase of marriage where the home-making and baby rearing, with all their clear guidelines is nearing an end and that unknown, instruction less expanse opens up.”

Instruction less expanse can be pretty fucking scary.  Mix that with all the other things we may have to face at mid-life:  overworked distant husband, sick or elderly parents, teenagers, empty-nest syndrome, college bills, over demanding career, under demanding career, drastic drops in estrogen levels, wild black hairs growing out of our chin, easily accessible chocolate, wine and 50 Shades of Gray that keep us fat, drunk and fantasizing.  And, to be fair, let’s not hog all the depression.  I know men at mid-life are facing some of their own difficulties as well.  I have a feeling they are depressed just as often as women but choose not to go to the doctor for help.  Instead they “deal with it like a man.”

So, how do we escape the tyranny of our ego?  How do we break away from the ravages of depression?

We must say “yes” to the things that scare the shit out of us!  A new career?  Yes!  Write that book?  Yes!  Go back to school?  Yes!  Hike Mt. Kilimanjaro? Yes!  Move to Kathmandu?  Yes!  Leave a marriage?  Yes!   I just committed to hiking the Grand Canyon with my brothers in May. I am terrified. They are younger than me, fit and have legs like camels.  But, I’m going to do it.  Because we must opt for racing heart, sweaty palms, breathing in a paper bag choices that make you feel like you just might die right there and then.  It is the only way to a larger life.  Saying “no” or choosing not to answer will only get you more of what you already have.  Please understand that the anxiety you feel when saying “yes” to your soul means you are moving forward; depression, backwards.  As James Hollis, Jungian psychologist and my personal superhero reminds us, “…choose anxiety and ambiguity, for they are developmental, always, while depression is regressive.  Anxiety is an elixir, and depression a sedative. The former keeps us on the edge of our life, and the latter in the sleep of childhood.”

I choose to live on the edge.

I have an extra stash of paper bags in the kitchen.  My kids think they are for their lunches.  Someday, not only do I hope they will have their own stash of paper bags, I hope The New York Times will be reporting that one in four women in their 40’s and 50’s have ditched antidepressants in favor of paper bags.

*James Hollis

 

Open Kimono

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

***

“To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Hamlet, Shakespeare

My girlfriend, Tina, shared a link on Facebook with me today, entitled “Why it’s OK to Make a Mess of Things.”  She says it reminds her of my blog posts.  I have to laugh.  Not just because both my friend and the author of the article are right, but because the timing cannot be any more perfect. Why?  Because, I am making a mess of things yet again.  I am taking a sledgehammer to all that I believe to be true and hold sacred.  I am turning my world upside down and downside up.  I am breaking the code, ditching any security I have left, and taking a giant leap into the unknown.

My husband and I have split after 22 years of marriage.

Kevin is a good man.  I love him and he loves me.  But sometimes love is not enough.  So, we sold the house in Orange and the kids and I moved into 1300 square feet of 1952 cuteness.  Our house is on an Oak Tree lined street only five minutes from Orange County High School of the Arts, Casey’s current school and hopefully Maggie’s future school.  Living in the center of everything, we can walk to museums, the book store, Starbucks, the Mall and my favorite, Mother’s Market, which means fresh green juice every day without the mess and clean-up.  Although we are all very sad, we are transitioning well, albeit a bump or two here and there.  It seems the future is never as scary as one imagines.

My new neighborhood!

Jacaranda Trees in the spring

I was very hesitant to write about our separation on my blog.  But after careful consideration, I have decided I need to write about it.  Not because I want to air my dirty laundry, vent, point a finger or get sympathy (well, maybe a little).  No, I need to write about it because not only is it the truth, it is my life.  And my blog is about my life.  Anything less would be a half truth.  Anything less would be a half life.  Anything less would not be fair to you.  And, honestly, anything less makes for dreadful writing.

My best writing is when I write with guts from my gut.  My best life is when I live with guts from my gut.  And when I write and live from my gut, life is good.  I am able to be real, to be authentic, to be Deanne.  The beautiful thing about this, when I am being Deanne, when the mask is off and the persona gone, I create a space for others to be real too.  It’s a win win.  Here is a beautiful quote that expresses this idea well.

I believe the desire to be authentic and walk in our own truths is instinctive in all of us.  I also believe that hard times will awaken this desire if it has gone to sleep.  Mine is wide awake!

But, walking in our own truth is not always easy to do.  It means honesty which can put us in a vulnerable position.  I know that by being truthful and sharing some of my heartbreaking stories on my blog, I am left open to the elements; criticism, judgment and disapproval.  But, this is what honesty does.  It puts us at risk.  We are left exposed and susceptible to emotional and even physical harm.  Mother Theresa knew this too, but do you know what she said, “Be honest and transparent anyway.”

And when we are willing to be honest and transparent with ourselves and others, when we are willing to live our truth, and not worry about how it “looks.” it will set us free (I heard that somewhere) and everything will line up perfectly.  We humans go to great lengths to look good, be safe and maintain the status quo.  But “looking good” is not worth risking your authenticity.  You will miss out.  Others will miss out.  The world will miss out.  And, I do not want to miss out!

Here is a story of someone else that didn’t want to miss out either.  Hoda Kotb, 47 year old breast cancer survivor and Today Show host, learned a big lesson after meeting some random guy on a plane.  She got stuck sitting next to Mr. Chatty Cathy when all she wanted to do was put her headphones on and go to sleep. After surviving breast cancer and divorce all in the same year, Hoda did not want to explain the sling around her arm from a recent mastectomy when Mr. Chatty Cathy asked, “What is that?” She wanted to keep her story to herself.  After all, it was her story. It was no one else’s business.  Hoda finally and reluctantly explained the last year of her life to him.  And Mr. Chatty Cathy’s response, “Don’t hog your journey; it’s not just for you.  You can put your stuff deep in your pockets and take it to the grave or you can help somebody.”

Hoda said this encounter changed her life.  She chose to help somebody by writing a book and sharing her story.  And, like Hoda, I am choosing to do the same with my blog.

So here I am, the real me, Deanne, The Yes Mom Brown, sprawled out naked in front of you.  An open kimono!  Honest, not hogging my journey, vulnerable forty-seven year old, breast cancer survivor, blogger who is going out on a limb, taking a risk, dismantling my life, and living to tell about it.  You are welcome to borrow my sledgehammer when I am done.

“You could have a steam train
If you’d just lay down your tracks
You could have an aeroplane flying
If you bring your blue sky back.”

Peter Gabriel