Trust your pen

I have to share a beautiful experience that speaks to the power of the pen to tap into something deeper and older than we can explain.

This morning I was reading The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler. I won’t go into all the emotions this book arouses in me but I cannot emphasize strongly enough that EVERY woman in the world – and every man who was born from the body of a beautiful woman – should read this book. I’m sure I will touch on this some more in the future. However, the point is, as I sat here by the fire contemplating the repercussions of Eisler’s words, I suddenly realized what I had to do.

With my life.

Yeah, kind of a big deal.

Of course, I rushed to my journal to talk this epiphany through, to make sure I had heard my heart correctly. And yes, I had. My whole life, from the family and church I was born into, to the thesis I wrote as an undergrad, to writing a journal for the past 20-odd years, to teaching, to my Goddard Master’s degree program – all have led me to this place, right now. My eyes have been opened and I now have a responsibility to do something with the knowledge I have been given.

But here is the actual point of this post: As I put the period at the end of the final sentence of my journal entry, I wrote in big letters, SHALOM. That’s strange, I thought, why would I write a Hebrew word when the Hebrew Bible was what caused most of this trouble [i.e. the suppression of women] in the first place? So, I looked it up. Here’s what I read:

Shalom also means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full. (via

By speaking out about how and why we as a species became so unbalanced psychologically and spiritually, it is the point of my thesis work and my teaching to help others on their own quest for wholeness to feel “complete, perfect and full.”

Shalom, indeed.

So, trust your pen. Write what it wants to write. You know more than you know you know.

Gotta dance!

When I was a very little girl I loved to dance. Once a week my Nana would take me to the Senior Center (which in England I think they used to call the Old Age Pensioner’s Club – nice) so I could gavotte around for their entertainment. I loved it. And I almost killed my other grandmother when I was three. As I straddle-hopped the footstool and jumped around in a frenzied expression of Spanish Calypso, dear old Gran would be nearly asphyxiated with laughter. Once a year Gran would take me to the International Dance Festival where dancers from around the world would twirl and stomp, sashay and jig. I absorbed the colors and fabrics and rhythms like Weetabix does milk. Watching Fame! was the highlight of my week. For at least an hour after the show I was still flinging myself around the house.

When I was a teenager, my happy-drug of choice was a mixed tape of Salt-N-Pepa, Vanilla Ice (Ice, Baby), and whatever else allowed me to attempt my horrendous version of the “Running Man.” (My other upper – or downer if I needed a good cry – was to drive in the car singing at the top of my lung to Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera as they blared from the less than sufficient speakers.) Later in life I tried belly-dancing for a little while, but once I had passed the age of “going out dancing” I kind of forgot – or ignored – my love for dancing.

But once in a while I’ll remember. I still have CDs of African, Indian, Persian, and other highly rhythmic music. When that music starts it’s no good trying to keep me still! Taiko or African drumming gets my blood pumping, and I now have discovered Pandora… Bollywood and Zumba, baby! Try dancing with a straight face… I dare ya!

What we loved as a child, when we are naturally authentic,  is always a key to what can make us more content as adults. And the bonus here is, as I have discovered through my graduate studies,* is that using our bodies helps with creativity and inspiration. Contrary to the believe of our head/mind/thought-focused culture, our best ideas usually come from somewhere other than the noggin. It’s as if movement and deeper breathing knocks loose the memories and creativity locked in our unconscious. This is our body wisdom.

My mood lifts and I am able to write and concentrate with more ease after I have gotten myself some rhythm. And my love-handles appreciate it too.

Prompt: When I was a child, I loved to…

*Three books in particular: Writing Begins with the Breath, Writing from the Body, and The Spirituality of the Body.

An open letter to those who are human

C.P. Estes (author of Women Who Run With the Wolves) always addresses her readers as “Dear Brave Souls.” I do not know her exact reasoning for this but I can guess that she knows how much courage it takes to live in this world, to face the pains and heartbreaks, unknowns and setbacks. But even more than this, it takes a strong heart to live as a “wild” woman (or man), that is, one who steps out from behind the mask – our persona – shadow and all. It takes strength to live authentically, saying what we truly know, doing what we truly love, and loving how we need to be loved. So, taking a page from the book of the beautiful soul, Ms. Estes, I too shall address my readers so.

Dear Brave Souls:

I am not a psychologist but I am lucky enough to be human. I have my very own persona, ego, unconscious, authentic voice – and shadow. I have to live with myself on a daily basis and I know that I am far from perfect. But no one is! There is no such thing! I have biases, I make unjust judgements, I have anger, I have selfishness, and I also project the unwanted, uncomfortable, painful, most repressed parts of myself onto others. But I also have love and concern and hope and dreams. And I believe it is my responsibility while on this human-life quest for self-actualization – on the path of my potential – to choose love over judgement. And to be honest with and to myself. Every aspect of myself.

I doubt there is a soul in this beautiful but confusing world who does not have anger in their heart. Everyone of us have had experiences that hurt us deeply – tragically. We cannot compare one person’s pain to another. Each of us is a medley of our experiences which blend to make us the unique beings we are. Yes, we are angry, we feel rage sometimes, but these are the voices of our past. They are old recordings from our frightened egos which try to keep us safe from things no longer a threat. But our heart, our soul, knows the truth.

All emotions are messages. Anger is a particularly strong message. And those we are angry at, our mirrors. We must look at – and accept – our anger because, yes!, it is real and should not be denied or ignored. But look at it closely. Look in that mirror. There, peering back at us, are the dark parts of us we’d rather not know (and of which we may not even be aware). That is our Shadow. It tells us things about another person or event that have nothing to do with them. We are not angry with them, we are angry with ourselves. It is our own pain speaking.

Smile at those silly shadows because they are tricksters, making us believe in illusion. The reality is there can be no shadow if there is no light! 

So our Shadows are also there to teach – if we are willing to learn. We must listen to our Shadow – it is there in that scary place that we will also discover our Light. We cannot be whole until we can integrate the dark with the light (just think of the moon).

And we have tools* to help. We have the ability to listen to our true strength, our inner wisdom, our higher self, for it knows the truth. We have to listen hard and with an open mind – it may not tell us what we are used to hearing. But it is our own truth – our own healing truth. It is our truth that can take our rage and turn it to proactive outrage. It is our truth that can take our pain and turn it to strength and compassion.

We are all in this together – everyone of us. And we must forgive those who, like us, are also learning to listen to their truth and inner wisdom.

*One of these tools is to write. Expressive journaling – meaning, to write freely without thinking or editing – this accesses deeper wisdom and allows us to discover our own truth. Once we become aware – and accept – our own truth we live more authentically, and therefore, with more joy.

Prompt: One truth I know is…

A turret and some (alone) time

I’m sitting in my new Writer’s Turret, as I am calling it. It’s actually just a small room we recently created by putting up a dividing wall in our son’s large bedroom. It is a north-facing room and I was concerned that I would feel the lack of light. But with my desk directly next to the window, looking out over the porch roof onto our residential street, the result is unexpectedly and pleasantly, well, turret-y. I don’t know why I have always fancied myself writing in a turret, it seems very Jane Austen (that’s probably the wrong author – I am embarrassingly unversed in English Lit) or Shakespeare-ish, I guess. I imagined I could be both artistically tortured and prolific in a turret. And alone.

For me, the image of a turret conquers up feelings – glorious feelings – of solitude. Creative solitude. I dream daily of being alone, just me and my words. Emotions, sensations, experiences – intangibles – forming themselves into words and sentences that I might grasp them, hold them, and understand them as best I can. Of course, I don’t need a turret for this, just a writing implement. But solitude? Now that’s an essential.

In one essay I wrote: “In my early twenties the vision of my future life included only the patter of fingers on the keyboard, not that of tiny feet. My imaginary writer’s turret didn’t come equipped with a safety gate.” In one recent workshop which I facilitated, one woman lamented that mothers cannot be fully creative, not because our brains have atrophied, but because of all the demands placed on us. Sadly, unless we can afford, or would be willing to commit to, full-time child-care and/or house-keeping, a mother does not have the luxury to create at her fullest potential. Even with my children out of the home to their respective educational institutions either 3 or 6 hours a day, I find my ability to write (or study for grad school) hampered. I have tried rising extremely early (4AM) and I loved the mental acuity of that time of day. But by Wednesday evening after all the housework, sibling-refereeing, taxiing, errands, etc. etc. etc., I wasn’t fit to be anyone’s mother or companion, let alone write.

I’m not good at grabbing moments. I’m a slow writer. I ponder each word and then go back and ponder it again. This analyzing (self-criticism?) can make a short blog post last the entire length of a Pre-K session. Suddenly I am having to abandon my treasure-trunk of words, ripping myself away mid-sentence to fly out the door to become Mom again. And take today: I have the flu (or something else icky but not bed-riddening). I am home with no demands for the day because after Pre-K my mother (bless her) is taking my son. But Hubby asked that we use this opportunity to do some important paperwork. So I delayed my writing, but then the phone rang and I sat for almost an hour waiting for him to get off the phone. (You know that infuriating situation when you’re meeting someone who’s late and you don’t know whether to leave because they might come right now… or maybe now…? Waiting for him to get off the phone any moment was like that.)

And so goes my life, it seems. I want to write, I love to write, I need to write, but I don’t write (much). I have responsibilities and always the question: should I be doing this or that? what is more important – the clothes or the blog post? And it is this constant questioning – deciding – that is part of the mental exhaustion (links to a NYT article). I love writing so much that I want to dedicate myself to it fully, not some half-hearted minute or two here and there, and so I don’t commit, because I can’t.

But I must. Because by not writing I am forsaking my own soul. My vision of a writer’s turret was just a symbol of my highest need: To be alone with “pen” in hand, scratching away, whittling words – the only tools I have – to make sense of my self and this world.

My turret is finally here. And today is “I Love to Write Day” and I do. So I am. And I will. Will you?

(And as I finish writing this I see this post on FB from Julia Cameron: “Time is what we all need more of–or do we? Time can be chiseled out of the busiest life by replacing our worrying with doing.” Ah, Synchronicity.)

Prompt: If we believe our visions and imaginings are symbols of deep (or higher) yearnings – from our authentic self – what is your “turret”?

Hungry fingers. Or, What brings you joy.

This is going to be one of those posts where I just start writing in order to figure out what I’m going to write about. Which, dear writerly friends, is a very good way to start writing. Just write something. Anything. You’ll get where you need to go in just a little while.

October has been and continues to be insane: I have been preparing for six workshops and have facilitated four so far.  And I haven’t been writing, either in my journal or more formally. But I miss writing. I love writing. I need writing. I wrote on my Facebook and Twitter status that I feel disconnected when I haven’t been writing. Others agreed and also described feeling Uncentered and Grief-struck. What is it about writing that provokes such emotion? Such attachment?

For me writing is my true voice. It is the expression of my true self. Which is why after an arid writing period I begin to feel disconnected from my self. I don’t know another way to describe it, it just feels as if I am drifting through my days, not wholly taking part in each moment. I lose track of feelings. Even my dreams of late have been chaotic, frantic, and immediately forgotten upon waking. I’ve lost touch with my what makes me, well, me.

Today, thanks to an “assignment” given by a newspaper editor at the writers’ conference at which I presented this past Saturday, I had the push I needed to put fingers to keys. It was a short piece and not the kind of thing I usually write, but I loved punching out words and sentences, pushing them around until they clicked together exactly as I wanted. It was also the first day we had a fire – and what writer doesn’t envision themselves writing by a fire? It was a good day. Deadline met, fingers hungry for more word-punching. Hungry for self-connection.

At my workshop yesterday, we had a discussion about how we all have the self-sabotaging tendency to do exactly not the things we love. Why do we avoid the things that being us joy? Why are we always too busy, too “I’ve got to do this first,” too tired, too… ? Do we like being unhappy? Uncentered? Grief-struck?

Personally, I don’t.

Prompt: Write a list of the things that bring you joy. Are you doing any of them? Why not? Do one now.

(I must credit my dear friend and colleague, Sue – whose birthday it happens to be today – for that prompt and question, which she often puts to her own clients.)

Trust the Process (pt 10): Hiding

My natural inclination is to introversion. I usually choose to be alone rather than in a crowd. However, at my first two Goddard College’s residencies for the Individualized Master’s program I went against my own grain. I squeezed in around full lunch tables, joined in conversations in lounges, and laughed over movie showings late (for me) at night – and had a great time doing so. But at this last residency I regressed a little to my former self. While I still joined lunch-time and workshop discussions, I quickly ran back to the silence of my own room to retire early or to brainstorm over My Question. I fell (fitfully) asleep to the laughter and discussion of my building-mates whose joviality was evidenced by the growing number of wine bottles in the recycling bin each morning. At breakfast I would listen to further laughter over inside jokes from the night before and I’d feel a tiny touch of jealousy. But my need to be alone found me frequently in the garden, folded into an Adirondack chair, notebook on lap. Thinking.

Too hard.

I would have to say the theme of this residency for me was Thinking. And trying not to. I’d get myself alone in my room and I’d start thinking, “what is it I need to be thinking about?” Then I’d remember that I am trying to Feel More, Sense More, so I’d say to myself “stop thinking!” which has the annoying effect of creating the exact opposite reaction. I’d start thinking about NOT thinking.

I didn’t write in my journal too much this residency, whereas in the precious two I wrote copiously as I tried to assimilate all that I was learning and experiencing. And feeling. This time I made a conscious effort to just feel what I was feeling. This required much alone time with not necessarily satisfactory results. Now home, and very much not alone (almost five-year old boys seem to need Something on a excruciatingly frequent basis) I am trying to consider all that I felt and feel now about the residency and my graduate “career” in general.

I am questioning now if going into hiding this residency was actually what I needed. Most of my a-ha! moments actually came to me during conversation or listening to others talking. I live in my head too much and plain old social-ness might have pulled me into my body – and my emotions – through laughter, silliness, togetherness, connection, friendship, conversation and mutual respect. If laughter is medicine I sure didn’t take mine while seriously mulling away in my cavern of a single room. Sometimes our “natural” inclination is a defense mechanism – to protect us from feeling too much – rather than a healing one. And what we resist the most is most likely exactly what we need.

Prompt: What are you resisting? What behaviors do you automatically resort to which might actually be furthering your lack of self-awareness and healing?

Resume the Stability of Tension

This is a post from a couple of years ago. I am re-posting it because this phrase – Resume the Stability of Tension – keeps popping back into my mind lately. Although I am in a completely different life situation now (I left my job very soon after this post and started grad school a year later), I am paying attention to it. The “naggings” of our unconscious are important to listen to, they hold messages.


[June 18, 2009] A couple of weeks ago I attended a seminar by my journal-writing/therapy mentor, Kathleen Adams. At the time I was at the height of my distress over my job. The idea of a whole day writing and learning more about journal techniques from ‘the master’ had momentarily calmed and uplifted me. Then Kay asked us to finish the following statement, “Right now in my life..”

I wrote frantically for five minutes. It poured out of me. After the writing sprint we were asked to write a sentence or two of feedback to ourselves: “As I read this I notice…” This personal feedback was what we shared with the group (if we chose). I told them that although I was calm before the write I was now a nervous wreck! I had traded a relaxed attitude for hunched shoulders and a stomach of jumping beans. Kay told me I might want to explore this in an exercise we would be doing in the afternoon.

At lunch Kay and I shared a table, and the conversation – which was intended to be about my upcoming journal workshops – became a mini therapy session. I was still shaky and Kay, being the experienced therapist that she is, asked me all the right questions. The word “loyalty” came up.

That afternoon, Kay told the group about Alpha Poems. I was already familiar with them as they were a fun portion of my workshop training. I chose to do a poem based on the word Loyalty. Here’s what came out:

Limits myself, always
Open, always
Yes, never no
Limits the way I go
Take the road to

Wanting to play some more I chose to do a poem using the entire alphabet.

Bending to others
Cutting out the
Day to
Everyone but me
Judging myself
Knowing how
Loyalty is my
No one is happy
Open the door
Pursue the
Resume the
Stability of
Undo the

I didn’t think about what word or phrase would come next, it just happened. I didn’t even know what word I was going to write until I began writing it. It is a magical thing!

Anyway, the phrase that immediately jumped out at me was the strange, “Resume the Stability of Tension.” Now, I am a tense person and in my experience, that is not a good thing. I have even taken drugs for it. Hubby frequently asks me in utter frustration as he runs out of door 15 minutes before he needs to, why it has to be “so tense around here in the mornings?” I couldn’t put my finger on what it meant, exactly, but I loved the sound of that phrase and had a feeling it had something important to tell me. I played with the idea in my journal, even wrote more alpha poems around it. Still not knowing how to decipher its meaning, I decided it would be my new mantra.

Then a couple of days ago, I read this in Christina Baldwin’s Life’s Companion:

… you need to envision a lifeline between [where you are and where you want to go]. It needs to be tense, like a tightrope, something you can walk along. The necessity for tension requires we develop a different attitude about tension: this is creative tension. Creative tension is what creates the path. When we lose tension, we wander without focus (my bolding). We have to decide over and over again to stay close to the tension, to walk the wire.

I was wandering without focus. I was trying to split myself between a job that was sucking the life out of me and the longing to pursue a writing/teacher career that was “dragging me about” (again, I quote Christina Baldwin; she *is* me). I needed to Resume the Tension (Focus) to gain Stability.

I put loyalty to my boss and my job aside and I chose to put my longing back in charge. Together we will walk the high wire of creativity – up where Potential and the Higher Self lives.

Danger: Toxic levels of self-bashing

This post is a bit of an off-shoot for me but as I write it I will somehow figure out how to make a journaling prompt out of it. And I also know many of you will relate to what I am about to say.

I got rejected.

By a home-cleaning professional.

Let me explain. I don’t like chaos or clutter. My preferred living arrangement is tidy and beautifully decorated; OK, it’s more eclectic than beautiful, but everything has a place, everything in its place. That’s how it is supposed to be, however, I have two young kids: Clutter Happens. I am a Virgo: I don’t like doing the same things over and over.

I JUST vacuumed this rug, did you HAVE to bring a plate of rice crispies (a plate? of cereal? seriously?) in here and lick them up like you’re a dog? Seriously?!

And I hate, hate, hate to clean. I was absent the day they were giving out the cleaning gene. Consequence: My house is a mess! Yes, I go through when I can no longer see the floor daily and pick up the socks, toys, shoes, wrappers, escaped rabbits, backpacks, papers strewn around and get the house looking marginally like somewhere I might enjoy living. But to be honest, once the rabbit-trapping game is over I have no energy left to get out a dust rag. In fact, I don’t even have the energy to even see the layer of dust that is holding the piano together. In other words, if you come over you may be impressed by the cozy furniture arrangement, art on the walls, and homemade pillows on the couch, but please don’t look too closely at anything. Let’s put it this way, there might as well be a Spider Safe Zone sign on my front door. No arachnid need fear for their life here: my home is your home, Mr. and Mrs. Legs. Dust bunnies are also welcome to multiply to their dust bunny delight.

Most of the time I turn a blind eye to my greasy microwave and be-crumbed counter corners, but once in a while it all comes uncomfortably into focus and I tearfully bemoan my lack of housewifery skill. That’s when Hubby and I have the conversation we have had countless times before: Let’s get a cleaner. OK, OK, I’ll make some calls… but I never do. Why? That is a mystery only my therapist can help me unravel. But at last this week when I admitted it was crazy to be putting myself under so much pressure to do something I detest and frankly, suck at, I made a call.

So, she came over. I promised not to clean up before she came. The house wasn’t in too bad a shape to my eyes. Well, it was tidy, at least. Still it felt like she was peering into my unconscious and finding it to be a scary place. She looked around, we decided on a number of hours and what exactly she would be expected to do. Thanks for coming by, hear from you soon about starting date? Yes, nice to meet you too. Yes, goodbye.

Two days later I got The Call. She was going to have to pass on the job. The time slot she was planning to give to me didn’t open up as she was expecting and she had to be honest with herself about her own schedule and energy level. OK, no problem. I understand. Good for you for looking after yourself. Bye.

Suddenly I feel rejected. Was my house even too dirty for a house cleaner?? Seriously, do I suck that badly? I was taking it personally. Because I’m not very nice to myself.

As I scrubbed my kitchen counters and swept the floor this morning I realized there was a bash session going on in my head that I hadn’t been invited to:

You are a TERRIBLE housewife! You can’t even keep the counters clear? Look in that corner! And under there! And, oh, good job on cleaning the oven… I can still smell the smoke from the burnt piece of, what was that? Last week’s pizza? And what the hell is that mush in the back of the fridge? Ugh!

On and on it went as I wiped and de-crumbed. It was kind of like having a drill sergeant in my head: What is it, Young? Scared of a little cleaning? You wuss! You failure as a woman! Drop and give me 50 scrubs of that floor!

But then I stood up straight and fired back at that ugly, yelling fathead. I don’t HAVE to be good at this. So there!

Just because I’m a woman it doesn’t mean I was born knowing how, or liking to scrub toilets. It’s not required. No one expects me to know how – or want – to paint a picture, build a house, fill potholes, or solve global warming. But for some reason cleaning house (and cooking – don’t enjoy that either) is a requirement of my gender. I pay someone to do my taxes, fix my car, and cut my hair, why should I feel any different about cleaning my house? Worst of all, I put this expectation on myself.

Someone once said: Don’t get good at what you don’t want to be doing. Right then, I won’t! I want to be writing and studying. I want to be a happier, less stressed mom and wife. I want to live in a clean house that fills me with contentment not reminders of my “failure.” I want to be authentic! Do what you love and leave the rest to someone else. I’ll make another call. Someone out there is looking for work. I can be a happier failure as a housewife, get my own much-enjoyed work done, and help someone else. Score!

And here are your Prompts (told you I’d find something to journal about!): What are you getting good at but would rather not be? What’s your drill sergeant saying? Do you believe him/her?


Please visit my page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization and almost everything in between.
Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.

Trust the Process, pt. 8: I Am Matter

“Are those really concepts? Aren’t they aspects of a woman’s life?” (Referring to the Triple Goddess: Maiden, Mother, Crone)

“What it means to be a woman? Don’t you mean what it IS to be a woman?”

“Don’t YOU matter?” … “Yes, I do matter. I matter. I AM matter.”

And so go conversations at Goddard College where I am studying for an Individualized Masters degree in Transformative Language Arts. We do not sit, inert and unthinking, attempting to sift through the rocks, pebbles and sand of a professor’s lecture searching for any valuable nuggets. And valuable to whom? The professor or you? At Goddard we are asked to be involved in a conversation, to really think (concept vs. aspect? When was the last time you analyzed the difference between those two concepts?), to think critically, and to find our own earth through which to sift.

You cannot think critically if you have no opinion, stance, or angle from which to critique. When you are just regurgitating established knowledge of the “experts” (in academics, politics, religion, etc.) without the added insight of personal experience or intuition, you are producing nothing but dust. So, you must first dig and sift through your own layers. At first this is uncomfortable, looking into aspects of yourself you have ignored or maybe didn’t even know were there. In fact, acknowledging your ignorances, your arrogances, your prejudices, your anger, your pain never feels fabulous, but it does get easier. Once you’ve accepted this is what must be done in order to become a better, wiser, more enlightened, inspired, authentic, loving, compassionate, empowered, comfortable-in-your-own-skin person, just like taking your medicine, it will help you heal and head towards your potential.

And the deeper you go into the personal the more you can understand and feel empathy for the universal. That is how we hippie-tree-hugging-meditating-yoga-types with our loving, bleeding-hearts go into the world better equipped with information that can heal others.

Yes, I matter. My own thoughts, ideas and feelings DO matter. They are important to me and as Kim Chernin writes in Reinventing Eve: Modern Women in Search of Herself:

I have seen the process of descent into the self lead back out into the world, to a concern with the suffering of others [and]…. far from being a lengthy wallow in self-absorption, turns out to be the passage through which one goes back, with a new vision or bolder service...

And Sue Monk Kidd in an interview said:

… seeking wholeness in oneself can serve the wholeness of others.

Yes, I matter. And I am matter: Earth. I am of this Earth, I am part of this Earth, as are you. All connected and we all matter. So a-sifting I will go, concepts and aspects, constructs and trans-disciplines and all, searching for the golden nuggets which will hopefully bring a little more understanding into the world.

P.S. I am also Mater: Mother. Mother Matter. Mother Earth…. don’t you just love playing with words?!


Prompt: Do YOU matter? Are you willing to dig to un-earth the potential of your authentic self.



Please visit my page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization and almost everything in between.
Private coaching – Customized to help you re-INK your own life – available in person or via email.

Clothing optional

When I arrived at Kripalu Yoga Center to teach a spirituality writing workshop, part of the welcome by a staff member was an invitation to use the whirlpool and sauna… “clothing optional.” At the time I thought nothing of that statement, I may even have dismissed it with a small laugh.

The next day, after two emotionally-charged workshop sessions with an inspiring group of women, I decided a dip in a steaming hot whirlpool was just what I needed.  I tugged on my appropriately matronly bathing suit, layered my clothes back on top and walked down the five flights of stairs to the basement. Opening the women’s locker-room door I realized I was severely over-dressed for the occasion. There was skin. Lots of skin. Women of all colors, ages and shapes un-self-consciously walked around, showered, and chatted adorned in nothing but their natural, wonderful and un-Photoshopped beauty. I was in awe of them. As I peeled down to my suddenly ridiculous suit, my modesty felt prudish. Prude or not, though, I couldn’t bring myself to do the buff-thing – a life-time of conditioning had taught me I should be ashamed of my nakedness. But while sitting in the almost zero-visibility of the whirlpool I thought how very socialized I was being, and how so very, very silly.

And that’s what Kripalu means to me: a place where one can truly be free of society’s “rules.” If you would prefer not to speak for a few days you can request a name tag which says “in respectful silence;” if want to spend an entire day doing nothing but sit and stare out at the Berkshires or lie in corpse pose, feel free; or if you wish to dance around to a drum beat with arms and legs flapping and the blissful abandon of a child, you may. No one is judging you, no one thinks you’re being strange, lazy, or silly. You’re just BEING.

While a visit to Kripalu for me meant new career opportunities, it also showed me a world where Freedom to be your whole, delicious, human self is the norm, not the eccentric. I believe this is one reason Kripalu is a haven for so many. A place of authenticity is hard to find out in the “real” world (irony not lost on me there). People find healing at Kripalu for more reasons than the fabulous food, inspiring workshops, or therapeutic and rejuvenating professional services. It is because when we are real and authentic, we patch a little piece of our broken and fragmented Self. It is essential self-love. And just like the Velveteen Rabbit, the more love we give ourselves, the more Real we become. The more Real, the more Healed.

Clothing optional. Authenticity Required.

Prompt: How authentic are you in your everyday life?


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