June 20, 2012

Eey See Glitter

When I was in graduate school one of my assigned texts was Emotional Alchemy by Tara Bennett-Goleman. In it, Bennett-Goleman, offers up a way for us to work with our maladaptive thought patterns which she calls “schemas.” Among the schemas she identifies are:

Deprivation: “the belief that one’s needs won’t be met.”
Subjugation: “the belief that in an intimate relationship one’s own needs never take priority.”
Mistrust: “people can’t be trusted.”
Unlovability: “the sense of being somehow flawed and unworthy of being loved.”

She says “The paradox is that schemas revolve around compelling needs but lead us to think and act in ways that keep those needs from being fulfilled.”

When I read about the unlovability schema it was like I was reading about me — like she was writing just for me. At that point I’d spent most of my life with a deep, yet vague, belief that I was unlovable. Despite growing up in a loving two-parent home. Despite self-identifying as a strong, self-assured, smart woman. Despite the fact that many people loved me…I felt, at my core, unlovable, not enough, and that I was too much.

Little did I know then that most other people, at least in the Western world, shared my predicament.

Is this you too?

If it is, I want you to know that it’s entirely possible to wake up from this illusion and it doesn’t have to take a lifetime. I use the term illusion because that’s what it is – a mirage that looks and feels as real as real can be, and yet it’s a trick of the eye. You can come to know beyond all truths that you need not change one thing about yourself to be worthy of love.

Here’s how I did it:

I fiercely practiced loving myself. Every day. When it was hard. When it was easy. With teachers. On my own. When I was skinny. When I wasn’t skinny. When I was single. When I was partnered. When I was employed. When I was unemployed. When I felt radiant. When I felt wretched. I committed to opening my heart to myself through it all.

“Once upon a time a girl prayed for true love. Her prayer was answered. She learned to love herself.” Monique Duval

It wasn’t overnight. It wasn’t the result of one healer or one book.

It was cumulative the way that Michael Phelps became a gold medal swimmer not in one summer, but over countless hours in the pool over many years.

So, how does loving ourselves show us that we’re lovable by others?

Because if we can love ourselves, it goes without saying that someone else can.
If we don’t love ourselves, how can we possibly trust that another can?

It’s like a mathematical proof. If X is true then Y must also be true.

X is whether we love ourselves unconditionally.
Y is whether another can love us this way.

If X is true then Y must also be true.

Similarly, I believe it defies the laws of physics for a person to be simultaneously not enough and too much. I realized at some point that I couldn’t be both and that’s how I knew what I felt was a misconception.

On a recent episode of Oprah’s Lifeclass Martha Beck wisely shared that “the most judgmental thing you think about the thing you’re most ashamed of is the lie that is most holding you back…Find the place where you are most ashamed…Opposite of that statement is the best truth for setting you free now.”

Back then my most judgemental belief was that I wasn’t lovable. The thing I was most ashamed of was my ‘not enoughness/too muchness’.

It wasn’t true.  Not then. Not ever. So I set about setting myself free.

Do not wait for another to show you that you are enough.  You will die waiting. It will never, ever, ever work. When we look to another for confirmation of our own enoughness, there will always be uncertainty in the back of our minds. We can never trust another’s love if our own foundation is shaky.

I like to think that this is fantastic news!

While we don’t have control over others, we do have domain over ourselves and our lives.  We can commit to this practice. We can live ourselves into the awakening and awareness of our innate lovabilty and enoughness. This is also fantastic news because experience shows us that people treat us like we treat ourselves.

A final note on how I define love:

In this world there is big love (not of the HBO polygamy variety) and there is small love. Big love is ever expansive, making room for all that arises. Big love is unconditional. Big love is that of a mother to her newborn baby. Big love receives life and us with open arms. Small love, which we see and experience all too often, lives on the surface. Small love likes it when things go it’s way and moves on when things don’t. Small love has an agenda and a host of preconceived ideas about how things (and you) should be.

When I talk about loving ourselves, I’m talking about big love.

How do I know beyond a doubt that I’m lovable? Because I love myself. Therefore it must be possible.

Want to know if you’re lovable? Set about proving it to yourself from within. Start now.


June 13, 2012

In my life I’ve been blessed to meet and work with some incredible healers. You know those people who you think of and say “If not for them, I’d be…”

Laurie Wagner easily finds a spot in this crew. A year ago I found my way to one of her in-person Wild Writing groups and came into contact with a practice I think I’d been seeking my whole life. Because of Laurie and her teachings I have a way into my heart and mind when they feel impenetrable and cloudy. Because of Laurie I have the most profound understanding that I am not alone on this journey. Because of Laurie I have a way to tell my truth and circumvent my perfectionistic filters that too often scrub the good stuff out of a story.

For a long time you could mostly only work with Laurie if you lived in the Bay Area. Earlier this year that changed and she launched her first e-course Telling True Stories. It was such a success (I heard first hand how great it was from some of the students) that it’s launching again next week. I don’t recommend e-courses very often, mostly because I don’t learn well that way AND it goes without saying that Laurie’s course gets my total endorsement. I know her teachings and how they can crack you open. The fact that you now have access to them makes me endlessly joyful.

You know what else makes me joyful? Laurie’s words below. I think you’ll see that she didn’t “phone it in” as they say. She shows up here so authentically and real, like she does, that this long overdue Well-Fed Woman interview jumps off the screen.


What are you truly hungry for?

The freedom to trust, to move instinctively, to see openings and possibilities instead of boulders blocking my path. I’m hungry for a light step, a let’s-roll attitude that has me throw a little more caution to the wind, close my eyes, point my finger and go.

What’s a craving that you previously denied that you now happily satisfy? How has this impacted you?  

Honestly, it would be a lie to tell you that I broke down and bought a croissant or a muffin. It would be a lie to tell you about how every summer when I get back to Hawaii I indulge in an Ovaltine Froth – this frozen, muddy, chocolate concoction that my Dad and my kids delight in and which I’ve never had the courage to order, but have always secretly wanted.

I haven’t always been like this. I came from a wild place with food, with men, and with art. I was a girl who drove drunk, a girl who turned up the music and filled water guns full of paint and shot at large pieces of paper. I was the woman who picked strangers off the street and took them home. I was lonely and I was hungry as hell. And then at a certain point, after scraping my ass on the rocks again and again…after waking up in stranger’s beds, after gaining the weight and losing the weight, and ending up always alone and ashamed and hungrier than ever, I started tucking it in and living within the lines. I started making a lot of rules to live by that had me feel safe – not necessarily happy – but safe.

So your question frightens and delights me. Yes I’m hungry to follow instinct, to trust, to say yes – but not in the same way I did in my 20’s and 30’s.  And as hard as I’m trying to come up with a pithy answer that shows my growth in this area, I’d rather stick with what’s actually more true – which is that I don’t always know what I want in the moment. When I am not helping or serving or making something,  I am sometimes lost. I can tell you that I crave the truth – from you – from me – from my experiences. I would rather have two honest to goodness words with someone than to be at a fancy party with movie stars, caviar and small talk. When someone says, “I need to talk to you,” I am all ears, my heart opens.

What are you a conduit for? What comes through with ease, meaning, and spark?

When I’m with people – there’s something about me that has them want to tell me the truth about their lives. Maybe it’s my eyes – which are bright green – like little flashlights. Maybe it’s how when people ask me “what’s up?” I’ll actually tell them. Maybe it’s my innate curiosity and the questions I ask people that have them open up to a deeper part of themselves. Maybe it’s that I am a story maker at heart and am always intrigued by how the language we use says so much about what we believe about who we are and what is possible.

When I work with writers, it’s this deeper story that I’m always looking for, and which, as it arises, I help to lift out of them like new-born babies. And something about being in the presence of what feels essential…something about being able to finish the sentence, “this is a story about…” really feeds me and it feeds other people too. We’re not just writing stories, we’re laying breadcrumbs of understanding along our path – a way to find our way home to ourselves and what matters.

This happens for me when I’m with people, and also on the page when I teach virtually. I’m a “pull,” a “magnet” for what’s real, for what’s essential. It’s like bone marrow to me.

Best bite in recent memory?

Mmmm….in late April I had some incredibly exotic, creamy mushroom lasagna – at least I think those were mushrooms. My daughter, who had ordered the meal, thought she was eating soil and worms – for me it was like biting into spicy wild nature.

But by biting I hope you also mean sinking your teeth into something, which I do a lot – just not with food. I sink my canines in when I’m on the racquetball court and there’s a tiny little ball flying right at my face. I took a satisfying bite into this interview because it took me a few days to find the right words to express something that was true.


To learn more about Laurie or to sign up for Telling True Stories visit 27powers.org

June 6, 2012

Glitter Dreams

You can crawl into your own lap.

Stroke your hair. Brush it off your forehead.

Rub your back until where your hand and your shirt meet becomes warm with love.

You can crawl into your own lap.

Exhale and have a moment, just one moment, where you need not do or be anything other than a little girl catching her breath

and catching love.

You can crawl into your own lap.

It’s safe there. It’s safe here.

Sit and hold her. Your arms are wide. Your heart expansive.

Crawl into your own lap.

June 5, 2012

I’m like a moth to any lamp of genuine truth.

As spring is turning to summer, I find myself flocking to breezy white cotton, juicy blenheim apricots, salt-scrubbed skin, hand-written letters, and bursting peonies. I’ve been holding satsang with my own body. I want what’s tactile, what’s real, and what’s essential. These, I know, are key qualities in being a Well-Fed Woman.

My hunger for authenticity and for contact with what’s most basic in life is also why I flock to Susannah Conway, today’s interviewee.

You may know Susannah as the woman behind the wildly popular Unraveling e-course, or perhaps you’ve been inspired by her to look at your life through the magical lens of a polaroid camera, or maybe her own heart-spilled-on-paper writing has allowed you to find your way into penning the truth. This may be the first time you’ve ever heard of her and if so, what a wonderful day today is for you.

Susannah is simply a beautiful beacon for the rest of us and in addition to the wisdom she shares below, I am so happy that her soulful book This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart is available starting today!


Susannah, what are you truly hungry for?

Love and acceptance. For myself. For my family. For others. For the world. The more I thought about this question the more I realised I’m not hungry for food, or any of the other pleasures I often convince myself I want. I simply want to love and be loved, and to channel all the good stuff that comes from that place into everything I do.

What’s a craving that you previously denied that you now happily satisfy? How has this impacted you?

The sybaritic side of my personality rarely lets me deny myself anything, which isn’t always a good thing. I eat what I want and buy what I want and pretty much do what I want. Not to excess, you understand, but enough to mean I rarely feel denied. Part of it is because I’ve lived on my own for so long (it’s seven years since I lost my partner in 2005) — I’m single and a homebody so at the back of my mind I feel I deserve some ‘treats’. For the last three+ years I have focussed solely on building my business and writing my book, postponing a social life in favour of work. But in the last six months or so I’ve felt the need to be out in the world. To go on dates and drink too much wine and, basically, let my hair down. So that’s what I’m craving now, and that’s what I’m exploring. It feels good.

What are you a conduit for? What comes through with ease, meaning, and spark?

Truth and honesty. I’ll tell you exactly how I feel, even if sometimes it makes me cringe. I’ve had periods in my life when I felt very alone, when I couldn’t see my experience of the world reflected back at me at all, so now I make a point to be as honest as I can, knowing that when we share our stories with others we feel less alone. I hope that my transparency helps and encourages others.

Best bite in recent memory?

It was actually yesterday’s lunch. I smeared smushed up ripe avocado over two pieces of wholegrain toast, with a twist of salt and pepper. Really simple, really delicious! Followed it with a black coffee chaser.


Thank you Susannah!

And for the rest of us, today’s the day! Go grab your copy of This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart. It is a stunning read for your summertime.