Selfish

Guilt and selfishness are linked like railroad boxcars.  Our idea of what it is to be “selfish” in front, followed closely and awkwardly by “guilt”, uncomfortably crashing into each other around every turn.  So much so, it’s hard to know selfishness without its counterpart. Ive recently been on a particularly winding road with these two- making decisions for my life that others would, and have, deemed “selfish”. Never wanting to hurt anyone but also knowing that I wasn’t happy, and that my unhappiness was hurting those I loved more than the risk it took to find it, to come back to myself.

One expression of guilt  is the distance between what you are doing and what you feel you should be doing. It is also the expression of wanting something we feel we are undeserving of having. Either way, guilt wants us to hide. It wants us to defend/ tuck tail and run. The only way to really utilize this emotion, or any for that matter, is to face it head on and look at whatever subject matter it’s hitched to (ie. the idea of “selfishness” or rather my “wants” being at odds with what I think I “should want” or “should be doing”) On my way down one particularly slippery self-deprecating slope, I stopped myself half-way down and asked “What does selfishness really mean?” Not really knowing, I turned Google:

selfish

adjective self·ish \ˈsel-fish\

: having or showing concern only for yourself and not for the needs or feelings of other people

I believe we need a new definition. We need to reclaim this word from the collapse of it with “inconsideration” (of which this definition really speaks, thus why it is so easy to attach it to “guilt”),  and redefine what it really means to be selfish.

From my non-identification with this definition,  I had a revelation- I AM selfish. But not in this way. Instead, in a way that is to act from a place of knowing my true preference and having my actions extend from there. From knowing and honoring my true self in any given moment.

In truth, we are most considerate when we are acting selfishly. One of the greatest gifts we offer one another is to allow each other to choose authentically. If we operate from selfishness rather than doing what we think we should do, we give each other an opportunity to also choose.  This said, you have to own and make known your authentic preference to enable others to do the same.

The best option is always a win-win and a win-win is only possible from a space of authentic selfishness on both ends, in this way, everything is a win-win, every time.

I believe it’s much harder to be selfish than to appease or placate. We are taught in our culture from a very young age to be responsible for each other’s feelings/experiences. As kids, we are told. “You hurt him/her!, say you’re sorry! go to timeout,etc” We are taught to be more responsible to the emotions and experiences of others, than ourselves. One of the most challenging and most empowering ways to live, is in full responsibility for your own experience. This includes your emotions, your thoughts and your life, as a whole. When you are responsible for your experience, you have all the power to change it and create anew.

We come into the world as babies and children knowing this and intrinsically living this selfishness, you’ve seen how kids are the centers of their own worlds. However, we are conditioned out of this early on only to come back it in fits-and-spurts throughout our life. Regardless, our authentic selfishness is default. And most, if not all of our struggles in life come from resisting what it is we want with what it is we feel we deserve or what we “should do”.

me and youAuthentic selfishness is ultimately selflessness. When we operate from our own true preferences and give up “looking good” or “being right”, we ultimately drop the “self”, the idea of who we are and what we should be doing. By the very nature of this we give others a permission slip to do the same.

The mind will wrestle with this concept, so it’s better to perhaps explore this through feeling. Think of it this way, do you want your husband/wife, friend, anybody doing anything for you you that they really don’t want to be doing? No, you don’t. It doesn’t feel good. Do you want to do anything for anyone else that you really aren’t inspired to do? No. Again, it doesn’t feel good to do. So you have three options: do it anyway (wrong answer), don’t do it (right answer),  or find a way to be inspired to do it and then do it out of inspiration, out of inspired action (most “kinetic” answer- this is where we grow).

There is a distinct and powerful difference between action and inspired action. Action lends to more of the same, think cog-in-a-wheel, just enough to keep the same thing already in motion, in motion. Inspired action, moves mountains, parts seas, creates from nothing, something. The greatest inventors and heroes of history were always always always operating from inspired action.

You might be thinking, “what about people of a lower socio-economic status? what about other species? what about the environment?” It’s my belief that these issues and all others will only change by those individuals operating from selfish, inspired action. From a place where they love the feeling it gives them to donate money, or help first-hand, or create a system to support the positive transformation of these current circumstances.

Those who continue to post to Facebook their personal diatribes of the horrors of our humanity towards these or other issues, only promote more of the same. The quote “What you resist, persists” is as relevant as “like attracts like”. Be the model of what you want for the world and do it because it feels good. Do it because you are inspired. This is the only way to make a real, powerful, and lasting difference.

Do everything because you want to. Do everything because it feels good to do, and do nothing that doesn’t. Live courageously from this beautiful selfish nature that we are. What if you weren’t responsible for other people’s experiences? Guilt is perhaps the heaviest feeling we carry and many of us carry it on our shoulders and around our necks like a lead scarf- heavy and suffocating. What if you could drop this? I ask that you try it, just for a day. If you don’t like it, you can always pick it back up and wear it again, but for a day, be you. Be just you in the world, doing you. Do what you want, when you want, with no other reason then because it feels good to do.

Some of you might have kids, as I do.  This can be particularly challenging to practice with children, because there is no other relationship,except maybe caring for an elderly parent, that requires you to do for someone before yourself all. the. time. I know this is why I had kids, to practice in the most unselfish way, how to be, completely selfish. This is growth, this is soul stretching.

These relationships with dependents ask us to come into inspired action much of the time, to choose something that initially might be unappealing because the true benefit of our action is what we’re present to.  This is the blessing that kids afford. For no one else would we be willing to practice this as diligently as for these little people. If you make breakfast and taxi to school, take to practices, and help with homework from inspired action, your kids will feel it. Because a synonym to inspired action is love and another is presence. When you operate from the heart, from love and presence, it is felt deep and visceral. This is the stuff the best memories are made of.

You being an example of “doing you” as I like to call it, inspires and gives permission for others to do their own lives. Authentic selfishness is really about living your truth and being fully responsible for your own life. We lead and learn by example. Do you. Let others do themselves. Take nothing personally. And forget the rest.

Threshold

Threshold,

A place where the past is complete, but the future hasn’t yet begun.971179_695906810435325_1032533549_n

Between two beautiful worlds exists a world all it’s own. A reminder, that there is nowhere to go, there is no final destination, just chapters.

I’ve come upon an empty page and all I want is to draw myself naked in the middle of a turquoise ocean, floating, face to the sky, warmth above and cool beneath. 

I’m trusting,

that the right combination of salt and H2O will keep me at the surface if I breathe just right. I’ll focus on that.  In and out, simple, right?

These words that want to crash from my fingers and the song that keeps escaping from my lips.

 I must allow all of this.

Even if there is no obvious next step. Even if it’s one precipice after the next. Perhaps these edges are the truth.

Each threshold asks us to dive deeper into now. It asks us to give up the past and the future and do nothing less but drop to our knees and offer up both empty palms.

So we can do nothing less but fill our eyes with new light and our hearts with the pulse of this. very. moment.

Our minds- asked to be empty and bold. And in the grace of letting it go say, “I do not know. I do not know”

You

What do I  want to write about? Truth-the taste of it. Dripping from salted, trembling lips-the kind that moves mountains within us. I want to talk about what It’s like to feel like you’ve hit “rock bottom” only to see the bottom is lined in golden foil and somehow light keeps getting into this darkened room that doesn’t quite live up to it’s reputation.

I don’t want to write about human perseverance, we eat that shit for breakfast. Every morning there is something in us that says “yes” to the mystery of it all. And so, we step into the day in unwavering devotion.

youIts more about what you do when you’ve had to fold. It’s what you do when everything seems to be telling you to STOP but the momentum for more, next, different, still swells in tsunami force within your quaking heart. It’s what you do to slow down long enough to count each line in the road, sometimes each crack in the pavement and trust that this will lead you, still blinded by the unknown.

I want to write about coming home. Coming home to your voice, your truth, and the echo of all that was and is no more. I want to write about coming home to you, only to realize that you’ve been “it” all along.

For My Son

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/11/for-my-son/

IMG_2146My son, with eyes as wide as a midnight sky.

I want him to always ask “why?”

Even when he knows the answer, I want him to ask “why” again.

Because each “why” should lead to another until his x lines up with the all the “whys” and he finds the ordinate of belief and reason—the point of infinite depth, muscle to soul cohesion.

When he goes to school, I don’t care for him to learn about dead presidents and wars upon wars.

I want his desk to be bare feet on wet dirt and his pencil, a shovel.

The only test that matters I’ll tell him, is this: How far are you at any moment from who you really are?

If you don’t know, stop, breathe, go slow, remember, you are never that far.

And if you ever feel lost, I’ll remind him, of his personal compass––his own two hands.

I want him to wear his heart not on his sleeve but the center of his palms. So each time he holds anything, it’s from the bottom of his heart. I’ll say:

“This is a good place to start. Do everything out of love. Do everything out of love.”

When you come to a fork in the road and you don’t know which way to go.

Take the high, because honey, if there’s one thing I know about the low—it’s that you reap what you sow.

My son says mom, I love you more than chocolate bagels with cloud sprinkles. And I say, I love you all the way to Jupiter and back down, but slow like rain returning to the ocean.

Because I want him to feel life and love—but in slow motion.

If I have I one wish for you it’s that your heart just keeps expanding and when the wind blows hard you don’t fall, just lean—because you’re rooted, not just standing.

You see, there’s a gear and it’s for landing but be sure only to use it when necessary because otherwise, high above the trees, you see the panoramic view. You’ll see the mountains to the sea and all the inlets and valleys in between.

And these valleys you should walk on moonless nights.

To know the depth of your inner being, that is your birthright.

And the man you’ll be when you walk through will give you a whole new sense of the saying “be” not “do.”

When you face yourself head-on there’s no need to ever hide.

There’s no need to “play it cool” no place for empty pride.

And remember take this all, take this all in stride.
Life can be a series of disappointments and getting over disappointments.

It can also be a dance, danced backwards and a song where every note is just a little off.

But your job is not to make a perfect life but to fully own an imperfect one. 

Your job baby, is when the monsters come out of your closet, not to run, not to go out and buy a gun but to learn that this life is to be lived, not won.
~

~

Stability

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If this is true, perhaps INSTABILITY can be summed up as the inability to release attachment to the changes taking place.

I think we have this idea that just like “happiness”, “stability” is this type of “destination-emotion” that we somehow eventually arrive at. Instead, it seems more moment to moment. And in that moment of conscious choice to adapt, or release our grasp of what we know, we find stability. It’s almost like the balance that exists between steps- the innate and subconscious release of one footing to the next.

The Space Between

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In ancient traditions from around the world there are teachings upon teachings of ways to quiet the mind, to hear the “inner voice”. There is a notion that in absence, exists everything we are outwardly seeking.

I’ve come to believe that opposed to leading a life in complete austerity, there is use in culling through the noise, being acutely aware of each note and it’s particular pitch.  Just as a sad song played beautifully, can bring joy, so can life surprise and inspire us to hear each new song with a more well-trained ear.

It’s just that more often than not we forget there is music even playing. The monotony becomes monotone, it becomes white noise and the space between, unrecognizable. And what if life is just this? What if we have it all backwards and we need to learn to listen for the silence not the sounds?

What if we asked each other,  “What do you hear when you’re not hearing? What do you feel when you’re not feeling? and what do you ultimately seek when you’re not seeking?”

Raw, Dirty, Beautiful

photo 2 (1)I like bendable things. The things that bend and stretch and start out one color but due to dirt or food or both turn into something else completely in your hands-kinda like putty. I remember as a kid opening the little egg-shaped container and rolling it around the kitchen table, stamping the newspaper and then stamping my hand with backwards letters.

We seem to have it all skewed. We seem to think so often that those parts of our lives, the ones we would rather recreate into a whole new story with different characters, are what separates us from others. In truth, I think its what binds us- the raw, the dirty and the beautiful. Maybe its even in this sequence that we begin to articulate and integrate these moments- at first feeling the rawness, then the shame or discomfort, only to be followed by the allowing and the intangible beauty of seeing something so out of place, fit perfectly together with our own evolution.

I like to look for these memories now. The ones that hide out like cunning children avoiding punishment in the alcoves of our minds. I like to see them emerge from the darkness, mud on their tiny faces and stolen joy in their hands clasped tight behind their backs. I just invite them. Nothing more, than invite them with no other agenda to come out. It’s in this space of agendaless authenticity that these little ones begin to speak with their eyes, and in moment-transform.

This Has Changed Me, To My Bones

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/12/bone-love-scarlet-wells/

Some days it feels like the eleventh hour at 1 p.m.998654_10200946928509696_547194890_n

Most days I go to sleep with the sensation of having been physically, mentally and emotionally water-boarded for the last twelve plus hours. Everyday, somehow, I continue to show up for more. And even more miraculously, find deep sustenance in a single smile or whispered “I love you, mama.” There, in the presence of great love, I am humbled.

In these small, poignant slivers of time, it feels as if life breathes me. That somehow there is nothing more beautiful. That I am complete. I wouldn’t begin to lie that this love is unconditional. But perhaps it’s not conditionality we seek to escape but rather a unity we desire to feel.

When lying, my body curled around Quinn, my three-month-old son, I have a distinct sense of not being physically able to be close enough. This soft baby skin against my own is all too much distance still. I want simply to melt into him, to feel his soul in my bones, timeless in a solitary exhalation.

Above all, I want this for my sons. For them to know this love fully.

To the core, to the bones of their being, I hope they feel this benthic echo of something found, something they never knew was lost. I know fully this is something my words will never teach and my actions can only point to. But this is true nourishment. This is where real life begins and ends and all the in-betweens happen. Parenting has a way of breaking you. Whittling you down, running you over, and then reversing. It has a way of taking you to the brink of yourself.

I have a bad habit of waking up in the morning and assessing the weight of my dark circles to divine the outcome of the day. On average, about five days a week, there is a clear premonition that I should jump immediately back into bed. This would be ever so easy if the one obstacle wasn’t the one variable, responsible and still helplessly reliable, on my everything.

I was advised once by someone very wise, that if I sought to garner spiritual awareness and emotional evolution, to get hitched, as a long term relationship would be 100 times more challenging and ultimately fulfilling than living in any ashram. I’d just like to add to this, that if one wishes to take themselves to spiritual and emotional boot-camp, have kids.

Since I’m a younger mother, many of my closest friends are kid-less and single. On days when I find a solitary morsel of respite in the evening drive to get Quinn to sleep, or the only “me” time I get is while drying dishes, I can hardly bear hearing about a friend’s day at the beach spent languidly reading a book, followed by yoga class, meditation, and dinner with friends. Forget reading, yoga, and adult conversation; just give me a consecutive six hours of sleep and I’d pay a small fortune.

I realized during this last pregnancy that my right now, my life is my yoga practice, and I can’t imagine more demanding teachers than the two I’ve got.

In a past yoga workshop we were asked to go around a say a bit about how our “practice” was going and time spent doing asanas and meditation. I was the only one out of the group with small children and the first to share my experience. My words more or less described my life as “managed chaos” and my practice as staying afloat. My meditation was characterized by the three deep exhales I’d been hoping would prevent a freak-out, and my asanas were mostly forward bends to pick up tiny socks, Legos, and smooshed play-doh.

The rest of the class went around and shared time spent in minutes or hours on their practice and the teacher concluded with her shock of how little time people spent and, directed towards myself, how she was sure it would be possible to eek out a little “mat time” everyday. At least at this point in my journey, life is very much off the mat, and entirely separate from everything I previously knew to make sense.

Constantly and consciously finding balance is my yoga.

As a parent, you can pretty much plan on things not going to plan. And for a type-A person like myself this micro-management is a tough one to give up. Just when you have the diaper bag packed and the lunches made, and the breakfast cleaned up, the baby poops through not one, not two, but three layers of clothing and all over you (how is this even possible?!) So, you change the baby, you change you, you get almost out the door and the phone rings. It’s the daycare provider and she’s sick. Change of plans. Again. If the lesson is non-attachment, consider parenting the Upper Division Physics version of the class.

Authentic selflessness comes to reside within you the day you become a parent.

Especially as a mother, the moment I realized new life was budding inside of me, was the moment I truly began to live for something more than myself. To even know something more than myself, and to love something more than myself. This recognition is slow, gradual one.

It was weeks or perhaps months before I could fully articulate, even on a feeling level, that the “me” I had been so completely and entirely invested in up until this point, had taken the back seat to this fragile, little, pink thing that embodied perfection. And just like “perfection” there are other words you soon realize the full-bodied meaning of: beauty, softness, love, pain, fear, work, rest, breath, to name a few. Its as though suddenly life comes alive. Emotions take on a richer hue, a density, a weighted dimensionality.

So perhaps I’m giving up approximately 3,276 hours of consecutive nighttime sleep over the next three years (but who’s counting?). Perhaps, the greatest accomplishment in a day is reflected in the sound of two well-fed babies finally asleep, and the backwards glance at a cleaned kitchen. And perhaps it will be 18 plus years from now before I fully open that next “me” chapter in this life.

But I do know the fringe of life and love. I know the fullness too, and I’ve felt it and continue to feel it to the edges, almost bursting. I always knew I wanted this, and there’s no way I could have ever known what “this” really was. I just knew I needed to feel life at its roots, at its inception. Ultimately, this has changed me into a woman I like more.

This has changed me to my bones.