Tag Archives: joy

In case you didn’t already know

morning message

It’s just today, again, here for you to take in.

I like to feel good. Stress, typically, does not feel good. Sure, sometimes it’s exhilarating—the thrill of rushing toward a deadline, the zing of taking a risk. But I don’t need a lot to get my fill, and lately I’ve had too much.

The other night I did yoga at home, and that helped, for sure. I twisted and stretched and wrung out some lymph nodes, coaxed my immune system to stay strong. But I don’t always have make time for yoga. Sometimes it feels like there is barely time to breathe.

And that leaves me anxious and afraid. Because, as I’ve noted before in a quote attributed to Fritz Perls, “fear is excitement without the breath.”

I need my breath, because I want to be excited. My writing group is sharing excerpts of our novels-in-progress at a local bookshop tonight. Also, the first printing of Are You My Boyfriend? is officially underway. These things (and many more) are awesome. These things are scary, too.

And so I will breathe. And I will pass along a message.

Ever since my writing group got together in March 2012 and worked through The Artist’s Way, I’ve set aside time to write morning pages every day. The pages are mostly messy brain ramblings, but they’re also a form of meditation, and I often receive information from my version of god/the universe/whatever.

Today, I felt almost possessed—my hand did not belong to my stressed-out self, no, it was guided by something else, and the words on my page shifted from first-person thoughts to second-person assurances. It was a message not just for me, but for you, too, and so I am sharing:

“Just go with it, roll with it, show up and have fun. No expectations, no worries, just do your best…let go and trust, that’s what must happen, it’s the only way this works…I love you so much, I’ve got you and all the others and all of this, it’s fun, it’s supposed to be, breathe in and enjoy it, relax, allow, exist, it’s all right, you’re okay, it’s just today, again, here for you to take in.”

…Just in case you didn’t already know.

I am willing to feel great!

Scatter Joy

“With excitement comes possibility, the prospect of unprecedented joy I can generously scatter.”

“This too shall pass” is one of my favorite phrases, because I’ve found it to be very, very true. In good times and bad (and everything between), remembering impermanence helps me appreciate, or at least tolerate, the present.

But what if I could always feel okay? For that matter, what if I could always feel good? Or, dare I say it…great?

A YouTube video by Brian Johnson has me seriously considering the possibility. In the video, Brian neatly summarizes The Big Leap, a book by Gay Hendricks that, among other topics, addresses the issue of upper limits.

I learned about what Gay calls “upper limits” back when I read Conscious Loving several years ago, and I’ve been pushing past them ever since.

Basically, an upper limit is a glass ceiling of my own creation, a limiting belief that prevents progress. These limits keep me comfortable, but they also hold me back.

For a long time I was afraid to feel good. This sounds silly to me now, but it also makes sense: feeling good was unfamiliar, and I feared the unfamiliar.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with fear, it’s just not often helpful. But you know what is? Breathing. Love.

“Fear is excitement without the breath,” according to Fritz Perls (via Gay Hendricks via Brian Johnson). This may be my new favorite quote, as it resonates with truth straight to the core of my breath-loving belly.

When I breathe into my fear, it fades. And as I learn to let love’s light dissipate the darkness of fright, I learn to welcome the unfamiliar with open curiosity, even with excitement.

And with excitement comes possibility, the prospect of unprecedented joy I can generously scatter.

In the video, Brian recounts an anecdote from The Big Leap:

Apparently when steam-powered trains were a new thing in the nineteenth century, scientists and other thought leaders wanted to cap the maximum speed the trains would be allowed to travel. “They were convinced that human bodies would explode at speeds greater than thirty miles per hour,” Brian says. “How funny is that? Thankfully some brave souls went for it…”

Thankfully, indeed! Can you imagine if no one had breathed through their fears?

It might seem absurd to consider society stuck at 30 mph, but Brian says Gay thinks “we’re at essentially the same place in our own development, in terms of how much goodness we can sustain, how much bliss we can endure, how great we’re willing to feel.”

I’m excited to find out.

Brighter than my blues

Kelley and Matt, doing what they do–singing “a song that’s true.”

I am so grateful for good music, for true sounds from the soul and the chance acts of fortune that lead me to them.

I don’t remember how I found out about Noisetrade, nor do I know why I listened to Kelley McRae‘s album two years ago on a January day. Maybe because it had “Brooklyn” in the title and I live in New York, or maybe I just had the curiosity to click and listen. Noisetrade sends me lots of emails, plenty of new sounds to consider, but rarely does an artist hook me like she did.

I was hurting that winter, and I found solace in her singing. I didn’t have a ton of downtime for reflection since I was working full time and also training to become a yoga instructor–basically a second full-time job–but whenever I showered I’d listen to Kelley’s music, and whenever I heard “Sparrow,” I felt heard.

That would have been enough, connecting to a random recording that helped me heal, but my relationship to Kelley’s music grew stronger when I ventured to see her play that March on the Lower East Side. She and her husband/bandmate, Matt, announced that they had just traded in their Brooklyn home and belongings for a VW camper van and were preparing to tour America in order to share the art they had to offer. I was inspired.

I introduced myself afterwards, and in my journal the next day I described Kelley as “a lovely personality and performer” and noted that “it was a pleasure to see the show.” Plus, “she played ‘Sparrow,’ which basically made my night.”

From then on, whenever I got an email announcing an NYC performance, I did my best to show up for it. We struck up an email correspondence because Kelley was looking for venues for house shows on the road and I have friends in other states. After seeing her play again in May, I gushed: “I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to hear a singer/writer who has chops, soul, AND spirit.”

Chops, soul, and spirit–that pretty much sums up Kelley McRae. When it comes to life and love, it’s clear to me that this girl GETS it. And I am grateful. This past spring and summer she recorded an album funded entirely by supporters, and it overflows with love and energy (just like her!).

After we chatted at the release party for Brighter than the Blues in September, I had to let her know: “I feel so lucky to have discovered an artist who not only creates music I genuinely connect to, but who is personable and communicative to boot!”

And I do feel lucky, to know her and her music, to support someone with the courage to be authentic and follow her heart, who lives a human life with good intention. It’s true that we ain’t got much time, and it’s important how we spend it. I’m happy I get to use some of mine listening to talented truth, told with an open heart.

More love, less fear

love greater than fear

It’s the first day of 2013, and I have had an extraordinarily fulfilling twenty-four hours. I can without hesitation say this is the best January 1 I’ve ever personally experienced.

The reason? Love.

I don’t mean love in the romantic sense–I didn’t kiss anyone at midnight and that was fine by me. I mean love in the universal energetic sense: Every action I have taken since the clock struck twelve has been motivated by caring and consideration, and the people I’ve shared time with have offered warmth and authenticity. The combination has created a deeply satisfying state of connectedness and well-being.

After a morning of self-care and cooking (hope you all ate your black-eyed peas!), I spent the afternoon at a birthday party that ended with a group meditation and gratitude circle. I appreciated the willingness of guests to go along with such a suggestion, and it was interesting to observe the contrast between the lively chatter that had dominated the day and the quiet of sitting with our breaths that followed.

And when the ringtone gong signaled the end of our silence, each guest had the opportunity to voice intentions for the year ahead. One by one, when the moment felt right, we told the group what we were grateful for, what we wanted to hold on to, and what we wanted to let go.

I said I was grateful for community, and that I wanted to let go of my willfulness–my desire to control situations and anticipate outcomes. I said I wanted to hold on to my boldness and to have the courage to share my true self with the world.

I like what I said, and I certainly meant it, but someone else’s words are sticking with me most: One of my friends simply stated that he wanted to let go of fear and to bring in more love.

More love, less fear. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

In the “Religious Views” section of my Facebook profile, I assert “Love > Fear.” I’ve found it to be a succinct and reliable spiritual philosophy, and it was inspiring to hear that truth stated as intention today.

Fear is never going to make me feel better, while love always will. That’s one of many reasons I choose love as often as possible. I’m grateful to say I successfully did so today, and I’m glad I’ll get the chance to try again tomorrow.