Archive for the ‘Words for Hard Times’ Category

Photo by Massay

Even in the struggle, you are loved.

You are being loved not in spite of the hardship, but through it.

The thing you see as wrenching, intolerable, life’s attack on you,

is an expression of love.


There is the part of us that fears and protects and defends and expects,

and has a story of the way it’s supposed to turn out.

That part clenches in fear, feels abandoned and cursed.


There is another part, resting at the floor of the well within, that understands:

this is how I am being graced, called, refined, by fire.

The secret is, it’s all love.

It’s all doorways to truth.

It’s all opportunity to merge with what is.

Most of us don’t step through the doorframe.

We stay on the known side.

We fight the door, we fight the frame, we scream and hang on.

On the other side, you are one with the earth, like the mountain.

You hum with life, like the moss.

On the other side, you are more beautiful:

wholeness in your bones, wisdom in your gaze,

the sage-self and the surrendered heart alive.


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Photo by Sol Young

A remarkable thing happened to me on Friday. One of those graced moments when the light bulb goes on, when the click clicks.

I had a solitary week. I had aimed to clear a lot of time for writing, but I cleared too much.

Around 4pm on Friday, I started to crave people, bigtime. Social connection. Community. Belonging. Friends. Interaction.

We had no real weekend plans. Often we don’t. I’m not sure what I’ll be in the mood for so I plan nothing, and then I get stuck in a kind of resentful loneliness.

As I wrapped up my work, I started to worry. What would we do tonight? Many of our friends were out of town. Others were already booked.

We live in a big city. There’s no Cheers-type bar we can walk into where everybody knows our names. We don’t go to a church, or synagogue, or roller rink. There’s no way we can access insta-community.

I was walking home, full of longing for connection, frustrated and worried about our lack of plans. This is usually the moment where my train of thought launches way out into space, like a rocket ship, visiting pseudo-relevant subjects like these: Why don’t we belong to a spiritual community of some sort? What will we do about that? Why didn’t I make plans earlier? Why don’t I know more people? What will we ever do about the fact that my husband is an introvert and I’m an extrovert? Those are the kind of helpful places my mind goes.

Today, something different happened. Just like a split hair, as one train of thought started to go into that painful litany of questions and complaints, another train went somewhere else. It said, “Oh well, this (craving to see people) is just a feeling. It will pass. Maybe it will be satisfied tonight or maybe not, but it will pass. And you’ve lived through many a feeling not being satisfied before.”

Just a feeling? I had read that phrase in Zen books here and there, but I had never spontaneously thought the thought before. Certainly not in a moment of emotional difficulty. This “just a feeling” consciousness was relaxing, it came from somewhere in my spine, not from my head. It was felt, not abstract.

I was free, I realized. I could work to address the feeling or not, but I wasn’t all caught up in it. I wasn’t identified with it. I didn’t think it was anything bigger than a feeling. I could see it was temporary, unpredictable, rather arbitrary and, get this– kind of unimportant – not because it was about weekend plans, but because it was just a feeling. One more like or dislike, one more desire or aversion, in the grand, life-long parade.

As I walked home, exploring my new discovery, I thought, this is why I read the spiritual books. The ideas go into us, in their own way and in their own time, and they make a difference. They really do.

It’s just a feeling. You are so much bigger, more still, more vast than that. There is the wind, and  there is sail, and  there is the ocean floor.




Please share in the comments –

Have you had your own “just a feeling” moments?

Are you up for trying out “just a feeling” consciousness this week?

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You’ve got a heart. You know that part. But what is the container like that holds your heart?

When you heart speaks, how do you listen? How do you speak back to it?

When your heart moves, what kind of landscape have you created for it to move in?

We can’t always control what happens to our hearts in this life, but we do have full power over how we hold our own hearts, how we relate to them.

If we don’t treat our own hearts gently, with love, what kind of contentment can we ever feel? How can the world ever be a safe place–if our own bodies aren’t even a safe place for our hearts to be?

More on this, on the outer heart, in my post over at Regina Perata’s blog, Restoring Power. While you are there, read a little of Regina too. Her insights suprised and moved me.

If you hold your heart with love and care and lightness and space today, what’s different?


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Hi there,

I’m so happy to welcome new visitors and readers who read yesterday’s guest post at Kind Over Matter.

I love the spirit, community, and vision of Kind Over Matter. I love the idea that through the work I do I just might be able to support creative young women (which much of the Kind Over Matter community is) to create more beauty in the world and experience the inexplicable happiness that comes from creating.

For my friends that have been her for a while, please visit my post over there. I hope you’ll reframe your thinking from growth to blossoming. More about that at the post. But think about, really, what would happen if you put less focus on “growth” and more on “blossoming”?

Tomorrow I’m getting on a plane to NYC to be with friends. Yes, I did just get home from Hawaii and Boulder on Friday. This weekend I took walks and caught up on Oprah and saw the beloved people in my life and learned that if you get Lacinto Kale you can eat it raw as salad greens. It’s quite tasty with olive oil, salt and pepper, and if you have the time and energy, with diced shallots and ricotta salata too.

By all of that I mean to say, travelling is lovely but if we design our lives with a sense of possibility, with a leaning toward who we really are, I think can be that an average day at home can be better, sweeter, more nourishing than a getaway in an exotic land.



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I’m writing from a sunny, beautiful, paradise place where I’m so thrilled to be spending a week.

It’s fascinating to me that it actually is easier for me to slow down and be present in this environment. I feel it when I have the impulse to leave myself, or leave the moment, and I have more strength to stop it, to just return to my breath, to myself, to the simplicity and truth of the moment.

I’ve had a few guest posts in the last week or two that I want to share with you. I was delighted to be at Robin’s wonderful blog, Naked in Eden, last week, sharing a piece that goes to the heart of everything I believe. I hope you’ll join me over there and read about the You-Shaped Hole.

And writing from paradise, here’s what I offer to you: whatever is true for you right now, look at it. Feel it. Breathe into it like you breathe into a stretch. Face it fully. Give it center stage for a moment. Maybe even name it. Get to know it.

Watch how that changes the emotion, sensation, worry, fear, thought, stress, hope, question…whatever it is…how it can’t remain exactly the same. How your awareness has shifted it. How being in the present is actually what moves things forward in time. How being with what is is what creates change.

That’s what I’m learning, sitting here, looking at the sea.



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True surrender is easily misunderstood as passivity, as doing nothing. It’s actually a change in stance, a change in state of being.

It’s a softening, a coming home to. It’s what we receive when we’ve made peace with life, and become its partner, arm in arm.

Before surrender, we act alone. We act because life is an emergency, out of control, vulnerable, worrisome, fear-inducing. We act to fix or control in response to that.

After surrender, we know we are held in a wise and loving embrace. We feel softness, not striving, in our relationship with life.

Bad things still happen. People and relationships deteriorate. Tragedies occur.

We feel the pain in it’s fullness, but we see all the beauty. We see the gifts. We don’t clench our fists against any of it.

From there, when we’re no longer yelling at life telling it how it should be,

when we’re no longer rebelling against what is, when we’re no longer fighting reality



we can take meaningful action. We can find our true role.

We wake up to what it’s all about, what all the circumstances are for: to reveal love, to call us into love, to stretch us to find love in new ways. We begin to see what the real story in our lives, and it’s all about this.

We begin to see how life is releasing exquisite gems to us in every moment, like water dripping from the tap.

Let all the circumstances, all your mental stories about them, all the plans of how it should be or should have been, let it all burn up

until what’s at the center of your life is love given, connection realized.

until your chest throbs daily with tenderness for the faces that grace your life

and the blue out the window is so stunning it brings tears to your eyes.

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Good morning.

I’ve had a little bit of a crazy week, with a very intense back and forth trip from San Francisco to Phoenix on Sunday. I haven’t quite recalibrated, caught up on sleep, or found my writing self again.

How are you doing this week? I feel out of touch!

This morning I have a guest post up over at The Change Blog. I feel so passionate about the topic of this piece I just want to get up on a soapbox and talk to everyone about it!

The piece is about challenge, what kinds of challenges serve us, and what kinds don’t. It’s about a mistake that I see people making again and again: thinking that challenges will help them grow, get stronger, get better – but picking the kinds of challenges that really only batter their souls.

The point of view I’ve arrived at here is hard-won from many long chats on the couch with friends, as we debated questions like these in their lives and mine:

Should I take the prestigious job with the unfriendly corporate culture and boss whose work style is the opposite of mine, because I’d get a thick skin and learn to work in these kinds of “real-world” environments?

Should I “balance out” my resume and my strengths in creative thinking by taking a job that is really about linear, left-brain execution? Or should I do more creative thinking-focused work?

Should I choose the grad school program that sounds demanding and scary or the one that feels comfy and that makes me exhale a sigh of relief?

Please join me over there today, and share your thoughts and experience on this topic. I’m really curious to hear what you think about this.



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