Breathe and Be. You break or you build from here.

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“You have this between you now as part of your history together. There’s been hurt on both sides. That changes things. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. Either way, things will never be the same as they were. You break or you build from here.”  The Queen’s Bargain Anne Bishop

Emotions rush through me, up from the darkest place of my being, like a swollen river raging out of control.   Memories that have been playing in my mind for a weeks come flooding in with a fierceness that takes my breath away.  I feel out of breath from the punch to the gut I experience.   I am rocked to my core and want nothing more than to run away.   I jump up out of my  chair ready to run to something else to do, anything that will stop my feelings.   Maybe I will get some food. Maybe I will turn on my phone and FB scroll.  Maybe I will turn on Netflix.  Maybe I will find some brainless task to do.  Anything to stop the flood of feelings and the panic that rushes over me as I experience being very close to some truth that won’t be silenced anymore.

All of this happens in the span of a minute or less, though the intensity of it all feels like a lifetime.  Then something inside of me, that wisdom self who seeks to call me to deeper healing, speaks up.   “Stop Lara! Right now, stop running.   Sit down and breathe into the pain that desperately wants to be healed.   Breathe into and know that you are strong enough for this truth and you are ready to heal that wound a little bit more today.   Stop. Breathe. Be.”

So I stop. I breathe. I allow myself to be in this time and this moment.   I stop running.  I breathe into the pain rather than push it away.   I trust that I can hear what I need to hear.   Stop. Breathe. Be.

Russell and I were in a very broken place in our relationship when he died.   We had started counseling which helps me believe that we would have found our way back to one another.   But we had just started and the brokenness was the predominant thread within our relationship. My memories of our brokenness and the hurts we had each inflicted upon each other have been playing over and over and over in my mind for much of this year.  Why this year, I am not sure.   Maybe because I’ve had so much more time to think about things. Maybe because I’m watching all of the hurt that people are inflicting upon one another in our world and so it is spotlighting my own history more.  Maybe because I am ready to listen to what wisdom I can gain from these truths.  Maybe because it is time to forgive myself for what I did and forgive him for what he did so that I can stop beating US up for the brokenness we created.   Maybe so I can stop feeling like a complete failure.  Maybe so I can let it go and move into a deeper place of healing and a new part of my life journey.   Maybe because there is a growing part of me that wants to stop moving through my life as a sleepwalker.  Maybe I want to fully wake up. Maybe, probably, all of these things and more.

Stop. Breathe. Be. Stop. Breathe. Be. Stop. Breathe. Be.

“Breathing in, breathing out, feeling resentful, feeling happy, being able to drop it, eating our food, brushing our teeth, walking, sitting – whatever we’re doing could be done with one intention.  That intention is that we want to wake up, we want to ripen our ability to let go, we want to realize our connection with all beings. Everything in our lives has the potential to wake us up or put us to sleep. Allowing it to awaken us is up to us.” Comfortable with Uncertainty Pema Chodron.

Whatever the reasons are for why I can’t stop thinking of Russell, our brokenness and the hope I hold that we would have learned to build a new path for US, it is clear it is time for me to sit with it all.  It is time for me to journal all that I can – the pain, the hope, the dark, the light.  It is time for me to stop running from it all using food, busyness, and escapes to avoid thinking about it.  It is time for me to say yes to listening to what needs to be heard.  It is time for me to say yes to healing this.  I stand at a tipping point of either breaking further or building from here.

Stop. Breathe. Be. Believe.

 

Breathe! It will be okay.

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Horses hold heart space like no other creature I have ever encountered.  For anyone they will hold space in a profound way, and especially for one who have they have decided is worthy of their trust and their attention and their hearts.    Tonight, I was radically reminded of the powerful way a horse can hold quiet, solid space even as deep emotions swirl around them.  Tonight, I allowed myself to let go, trust and collapse into the heart space of a horse.  I am in awe of the gift I was given.

A year ago, we could barely get near Penny, the sweet, little lesson pony who came to Avalon with clear evidence of some significant trauma having happened to her at some point in her life.  She desperately wanted to connect with people.  She desperately wanted to believe that the gestures of patience, love and healing were real.  But it took her months and months of quietness before she stopped flinching every time someone came near her, especially around her head.  It’s only been in the past three months or so that she gives into the bliss of being rubbed on her head and her ears.  Now, she calls to everyone who comes near and is often the first to say hello.    Her fear has turned into a trusting choice to believe that people really do want the very best for and will only shower her with love here.

Well tonight, this sweet, little thing stood with all the confidence of 100 horses as I stood with my head buried in her neck sobbing my heart out.  Not only did she stand there with her heart wide open to me, she made it very clear to the other two horses in the field to back the hell off as she became my shield.   They weren’t doing anything except being curious and wanting to love on me too, but for that time, I was 100% hers to breathe with and they weren’t allowed in.  Considering she is one of the most gentle, forgiving, laid back ponies I’ve ever seen in a herd this was quite stunning.  She quietly made it crystal clear that she was creating the heart bubble space for me to just let go and cry.   That is what horses do when they show up to hold heart space for a person.  Penny stood there with me hanging all over her, sobbing, and all she did was breathe.  She did this even to the point of taking a huge inhalation and letting it audibly go as if to say “Lara, I have got you!!  Until you can breathe deeply again, I will do it for you. Just let go as much as you need to. You are safe. You are loved.  You are not alone. I am HERE!”

With all of the amazing blessings that are present in my life right now and I am deeply grateful for, emotionally I am in a very dark season of my life.  The number of unresolved things from the past several years that I am becoming aware of how deep some of the hurts run is kind of stunning.  One after the other they are bubbling up and out.    I’ve been trying to just keep moving, not write or speak about it, and just stay focused on all of the positives.  Well now, I am planning to keep moving and to stay focused on the positives, and I am also going to start writing and speaking again about what is REALLY going on for me.

I am at my very best when I am writing my truth.  I am at my very worst when I am not giving myself permission to write and speak my truth but rather I allow some random (sometimes imagined) others to dictate what I should write and share.    I am at my very best when I am being honest about my struggles and my pain.  I am at my very worst when I try to just put on a happy face and act as if everything is ok.  I am at my very best when I name my fears out loud, then breathe right through them as I bravely take my next best step.  I am at my very worst when I try to act as if there is nothing to be afraid of and I just need to focus on something else.  I am at my very best when I find joy in the simplest of things and share that with the world as if I have found the most amazing treasure. I am at my worst when I think the lens through which I view the world is silly or unnecessary.  I am at my very, very, very best when I stay in this time and this moment and live out loud whatever is showing up for me RIGHT NOW.

Horses mirror back to us what is really and truly going on inside of us.  And they bring hearts of love energy that is bigger than anything we can really imagine.  Tonight, in this time and in this moment I am deeply grateful for a sweet little pony who held my heart with fierce, unwavering love.  I am breathing deeper. I am opening my heart up to my most authentic journey. And I know I will not only be okay, I AM OKAY!

 

Rest

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Evening affirmation…

Okay people, I know a whole lot of us are feeling exhausted by life right now. I hear it when I talk to people. I read it in people’s words and in the in-between spaces that can’t be written or spoken out loud just yet. I watch it in people’s eyes over their masks, and sense it in the heavy way they carry their bodies. I feel it in myself. Many of us are just tired into our very bones.

So, rest your bodies. Rest your minds. Rest your hearts and souls. Just inhale, then exhale, then inhale, then exhale. Stop holding your breath and allow your jaw to unclench. Close your eyes and just breathe. 🌬️🌬️🌬️

All those projects, all those to do lists, all those worries can wait. For just this time and just this moment, allow yourself to rest in whatever way can ease the ache in your soul.

With love and hugs,

Warrior Lara

Emerging

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emerging

 

Transition periods are messy! The birthing of anything new can feel long, arduous, and so unfamiliar. We’re moving to a new reality and we often have more questions than answers because we don’t know what to expect. And let’s be honest, very few of us like the unknown and the uncomfortable. In fact, we will often do all we can to try and stay in our familiar place even if it’s no longer possible.

We can’t go really backwards. No matter how much we want or try to, once we are in that transitional place moving forward is what we need to do. The way forward is where the new us, our butterfly transformed self is waiting. Trying to shove those wings back into the cocoon of the old will bring us pain over and over again.

What is calling you to fly towards it right now my beautiful people? What needs to be released so your wings can dry and take you forward? 🦋

I know it might feel messy and unfamiliar right now but I 💯 believe in you! 💟

Take the first step

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What are you dreaming of for your life? BE BRAVE! Speak it out loud or at least write it down right now. Don’t wait one moment longer!🌈🌈🌈

Do you dream of…

Better health? 🥗
Finding work you love? 💟
A new relationship? 👨‍❤️‍💋‍👨
A renewed relationship? 🤗
Creating a new business? 💰
Writing a book? 📖
Going on an adventure? 🪂
Starting a garden? 👩‍🌾
Finding a new hobby? 🏹

Whatever it is, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF & your ability to create a life you love. I know you can do it! 💪

Don’t be afraid to take that first step! Every journey, big or small all start with a single step!! ❤️👣❤️

What if I just loved myself?

 

whatifloved

My Muse is awake! May she inspire you to love yourself more fully! 💖💖💖

“What if I just loved myself?”

What if we listened, really listened, to our hearts, minds and bodies instead of telling them to just shut up?

What if we stopped beating ourselves up and telling our weary selves that we suck at life?

What if when we are sick in our hearts, our bodies, or our minds we just stop adding things to our to do list?

What if we stopped layering more expectations on top of the things we already don’t have the energy to do that are remaining on a permanent, stress inducing, ever-growing list?

What if we stopped pushing ourselves harder and harder, even as our bodies, minds and hearts were breaking under the strain of trying to hold ourselves together?

Instead, what if we chose to love ourselves and take care of our own bodies, minds and hearts as our first priority rather than the last?

Instead, what if we wrapped ourselves in the love without judgement we would immediately wrap around anyone else who was struggling and in pain?

Instead, what if we listened with a profound intensity to our aching selves, then acted out of love to give our hearts, bodies and minds what they most needed?

Instead, what if we simply and deeply spoke love and light to our overwhelmed selves?

Instead, what if we just loved ourselves exactly where we were at in all things and at all times?

What if?????

Learning to Trust that All will be Well

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Learning to trust that all will be well doesn’t just happen overnight.    Especially in a swirly time it can be super easy to feel like we are out of control.    By creating new habits of feeling our feelings and releasing our thoughts we can create paths to trusting ourselves more.   This week I used this to move through looking the giant elephant in the room of “What if the unimaginable happens.”  I want to share with you the how and what of what I am doing.

For 3 weeks, I have been tapping into my inner warrior.   As a HUGE fan of Wonder Woman, I have found ways to take my obsession and use it as fuel to move through my fears and invite others to do the same.   With the exception of 1 day out of 22, I have gone live as Warrior Lara, who is the persona that I believe to my best and truest self. She is the one who helps me to share MY voice, MY truths, and MY hopes for our world.   Sometimes I dress up as Wonder Woman, simply because I love to play.  Other times I don’t and simply wear my Wonder Woman hat as my extra reminder to speak my truest truths.

Today, I talked about how to take charge of our thoughts, especially the ones that flow out of a place of anxiety and fear feelings.   I’ve been practicing doing this for myself and wanted to offer folks a possible path forward to do this for themselves.   Before I share with you a very real, emotional process I moved through this week here are the basic steps I use.

  1.  Feel the feelings.   Feelings are energy in motion. They show up as sensations in our bodies and can move through us in about 90 seconds.   We feel the feelings and allow the body to let them go.
  2. Take a breathe – Pausing to just focus on our breath can help us regroup and refocus before we work to shift the thoughts swirling in our minds.
  3.   Examine the thoughts we are having, with no judgement around them.   I’ve found either writing them down in a non-stop, these are just thoughts needing to get out of my head, kind of way can make a huge difference in feeling like I am in control of my thoughts rather than the other way around.  Talking with another person who can simply listen without needing to fix us is another great way to move these thoughts out of our head.
  4.  Repeat as a mantra “All will be well.  I have got this.”   Putting new, empowering thoughts into our minds can help quiet the ones trying to convince us we are simply doomed.
  5.   Take one step forward, just one, to take some action in our lives.     Any type of action forward can greatly decrease our anxiety.

I used this process this week to move through my own anxiety around all of my thoughts around “What if something, something unimaginable, happens to me? ”   I’ve had lots these thoughts ever since moving through the unexpected death of my husband, Russell, 5 years ago.  But now, the unimaginable feels a little more imaginable as I watch friends and friends of friends and people all over our world needing to grapple with this very question in a very real way.     And my feelings and thoughts around this had become a very giant elephant in the room in mind and in every relationship I have.   Once this question became what was waking me up night after night, I knew it was time to take control of thoughts and DO something.

So on Monday, I took myself through the process of feeling my feelings; taking a breathe; examining my thoughts; repeating “All will be well. I have got this.”; and stepping forward to take action.      After feeling things and writing in my journal for a long time, I organized my end-of-life desires, my important documents, a list of my outstanding debts, important contact people to help my kids navigate through everything, directions for how the life insurance $ is to be used, and a clear directive that whatever my kids want and need to move through this time is what needs to happen.   I spent time beginning to notify the necessary people of what I am doing and where everything will be kept.

My releasing and taking control process included having discussions with each of my kids about what is happening, what I am feeling and what I am thinking.  I have shared with all of them what my end-of-life requests and directives are.  I have invited them to share with me any they have for themselves.    It has included opening up the conversation with each of them about their feelings and thoughts and fears and hopes right now.   It has involved all of us acknowledging the elephant of fear and “what if” that is in the room.  It has meant me speaking one of my deepest truths to them that I know how quickly life can change and that one of my greatest hopes is that if the unimaginable happens  I have at least done all I can to set them up to feel like they have what they need to move forward.   Our conversations have been intense and raw and real and I think good for each of us.

Am I afraid this is going to be needed right now because I am walking in fear that I am going to get sick?  No.   Do I want any of us to be living in fear & constantly on edge?  No.  Am I aware that the unimaginable can happen to any of us in the blink of any eye?  Yes.  Was it intense to do this?  Oh hell yes!   Do I feel better having done this?  An even bigger HELL YES!  Do I believe that having the deep conversations are super important right now?   YES, YES, YES! 

Feeling my feelings. Acknowledging my thoughts.  Taking action.    All of these things have helped me feel like I have some control about the giant elephant of “WHAT IF?” in my mind.   Being able to answer that question with a clear, definitive action plan has been amazingly powerful for my state of mind.   I have a plan in place so that my kids wouldn’t have to muddle their way through like I had to.   They won’t have to find the life insurance papers, or their birth certificates, or a list of who needs to be contacted, or the information needed to pay the bills and pay off debts, or find the money to simply live.   I have organized all of that and it feels amazing to have it ready to go.

With every fiber of my being, I hope that none of this is needed for a very long time.   But I can sleep more easily at night knowing that it is ready to go for them.   My feelings and my thoughts are no longer choking me.  And that is an amazing thing.

In this time, in this moment I am trusting that all will be well and that all is well!  May the same be true for all of you.

Cuckoo Luckoo Land – I’ve Walked Here Before

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I am not stronger than you. I am not living with some magical power special only to me.  I am not doing “okay” because I live in a fantasy world.  I am not better than anyone else out there trying to make sense out of what is happening in our world right now.  I am no less afraid than others who are doing all they can to keep the demons at bay.  I feel no less in control or less helpless than many of us are feeling.  I feel no less confused and spun around like a top out of control than anyone else.

I am feeling hopeful because I have walked this road before.   We are all, as an entire world, in the middle of Cuckoo Luckoo Land, in the most radical experience of collective shock, loss and grieving the world has probably ever witnessed.     We are all in the place I described so long ago when I first stepped into the rabbit hole with Russell that dropped me into a dark world.  It’s like Alice’s Wonderland only wayyy darker and more confusing.   What I wrote 5 years ago of my experience of this place after Russell got sick and died is eerily true of what our world finds itself collectively living in today.

In Cuckoo Luckoo Land, not only are things bizarre and weird, but even the most joyous of events like birthdays and holidays are twined up with pain, confusion, and grief.  It is such a bizarro place.  What’s up is down. What’s in is over. What’s under is out. What’s out is in between.  There are no clear opposites.  There is no straight forward path to get from here to there.  There is a little of everything in life – light, darkness, pain, joy, hope, despair, love, loss – and you never know which  you will find as wander the dark, twisty paths of this place. It’s simply Cuckoo Luckoo!

Walking along through life, in this new reality, we don’t know where the next rabbit hole might be.  Just when we think we have a “new normal” figured out, the world spins and down the hole we go again.  These are the hidden places that we drop into, often sliding as fast as lightning down into a warren of twisted up paths.  The trip down into a hole feels like someone suddenly and without warning has pushed us down a really steep slide greased with oil.  It is almost impossible to do anything on this slide but breathe.  In this space we can feel like we must be on hallucinogenic drugs, as everything is very, very twisted up and confusing in this space.  Following one path that seems to be going forward can lead to a multitude of paths going in every direction.

Am I less afraid and more awake because I am stronger than you?   NO.  I feel less afraid and feel more awake because this Land is soooo familiar to me.  I know that those dark corners just around the bend don’t necessarily hold more things to fear, but might actually hold the answers we just can’t see yet.  The whispers in the dark aren’t always the demons of our fear and our nightmares.  Some of those whispers in the dark, are the wisdom and warrior parts of ourselves seeking to remind us that we are far stronger than we’ve ever imagined.

I walk this time with confidence because I know, I mean REALLY KNOW, that I can survive walking through this place and even find ways to thrive.  I believe I walk with less fear strangling me each day because I was offered the gift of grieving within a community and surrounded with abundant love for so long that my heart felt like it was that love acting as a light to lead my way through the dark paths of Cuckoo Luckoo Land.  I have walked this place before and survived what once seemed unimaginable to survive.

Am I afraid? Oh yes, I am.   The thoughts of fear about $, getting sick, others getting sick, when will the answers come,  how long will this last, etc., etc. niggle at my mind and my heart.  When those fears take hold of me I escape to Netflix or scrolling Facebook and Pinterest, or eating too much.   But, do I know I can survive my fear?   OH HELL YES!  I stand in this knowing I am a Warrior for love and hope BECAUSE I have walked in Cuckoo Luckoo Land before and I have come out the other side.

I didn’t survive because I was stronger than anyone else.  I survived because I have gathered tools and wisdom along my life journey that could help me navigate through the darkest of paths.  I have learned to feel my feelings and focus just on my breath alone until I have the strength to move forward to the next place.  I know the power of being willing to give and receive love and help from others along the way.  I know how to listen to what feels okay for ME and tap into what is good and tap out of what isn’t without feeling the need to explain why to anyone.

The journey we are on is not a straight forward one.   It will twist and turn and flip us all around as we learn to navigate this new reality.  We will move through shock and fear and anger and helplessness and joy and determination sadness and hope and loss and defeat and gratitude and grief and love, over and over and over and over again.   Slowly but surely we will learn how to survive in this cuckoo luckoo space of time. We will figure out how much we need each other and how strong we really can be.  We will walk this road together.

Though radically different circumstances, I have walked this road in Cuckoo Luckoo Land before and I have come out the other side.   The path ahead of us maybe a very long, twisty, dark one but I am ready to walk with you every step of the way, sharing my tools with any who want them.  I believe in our strength and our resilience and can see the glimmers of light on the other side.  I believe we are not alone and that we will one day walk out of this place.   I believe because I stand here having survived this place before.

How Will I Show Up?

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How will I show up?

This is the question I am pondering this week as I navigate my way through anxiety around the massive unknowns right now, flashbacks to 5 years ago which also was a very dark time, a hopeful belief that somehow all will be well and a deep desire to not lose who I am and who I most want to be in this time, this moment. The whole world has stepped into Cuckoo Luckoo Land, the place I’ve written of where things are not only inside out, they are upside down, outside in, twisted up and ever spinning. Eerily, I know how to walk in this place. Heck, I can even walk in this place as if I own it when I remember who I am.

I am a survivor. I am a traveler of the dark places of the soul. I am a writer who can find words in these dark places. I am a light for others who walk these dark places alongside me. I am a grounding rod for the swirl that threatens to spin us out of control. I am a mystic who can move beyond the veils of what is to see the possibilities of what could be. I am a woman who finds joy in the simplest of things. I am a believer that we are all far more powerful than we will ever know. I am a hope dealer who believes in the immense power of health and healing. I am a Warrior who does not allow the darkest places of Cuckoo Luckoo Land to ever completely forget how powerful and beautiful we all are.

So, how will I show up in this communal time of walking in Cuckoo Luckoo Land? I will show up as a Warrior for light, hope, and belief that we WILL survive this. I will show up believing we are all doing the best we can with a whole ton of uncertainty. I will show up sharing whatever glimmers of hope, health and healing I can. I will show up honoring everyone who is digging deep to be light bringers, healers and hope dealers. I will show up staying true to who I AM! ☀️

World, we have got this! 💖💪💖

Vanity or Health? Which will I choose?

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“Vanity or Health?” Which will I choose? You’ve got to read to the end to find out. 😂

It’s about radical self-love. 💖

Okay, deep breath 🌬️ and in I go, into being crazy vulnerable and really real about something that’s been holding me back. I’m ready to dive deeper into what my healthiest self could look like; a self whose body feels so free and amazing I can barely imagine it right now. But, I have to choose – my vanity or my healthiest self.

You see, it’s my vanity about my face that has been winning for a long time. I spent 12 years working a horse farm. No amount of sun screen was ever enough to completely protect my skin. I knew one day I’d have tons of face wrinkles because of it. I just didn’t think it would be so soon. Since I’ve lost 53 pounds I can really notice it. And wowza, has it stopped me in my tracks. No way have I wanted to lose more weight and look like a prune. Even if losing more weight could be really good for the rest of my body.

Some of the thoughts that have pinged through my brain during this internal debate have really revealed how much further I can go to radically love myself exactly as I am.

“If I want to date again who would want a wrinkle faced woman?”

“Do I really need to lose more weight, even if I know it could be great for my aging body?”

“Will I get ugly?”

“Should I put more weight back on to plump out my face again?” (Answer is always, NO WAY!)

“Am I seriously this obsessed with physical appearance?”

“Am I in any way attractive anymore?”

“I miss my 25 year old self.”

 

WOWZA! I am a HUGE proponent for everyone to love themselves exactly as they are. I am a HUGE proponent for making choices that help us create our best selves. I am a HUGE proponent for recognizing our SELF is about soooo much more than our bodies.

I am also, quite clearly, a woman who is trying to believe in herself more, recognize her worth, find her beauty again, and radically love every part – the dark, the light, the wrinkled, the strong, the weak – ALL OF ME!

So, I am choosing my health! I am learning to love my wrinkles for the stories they tell. I am going all into turn my body into its strongest, healthiest, most Badass self. I am choosing to believe I am beautiful. I am wrapping myself in the love, hope and healing I strive to bring to everyone else.

That means my goal, now spoken publicly, is to lose the final 15lbs I’ve been considering losing by my birthday on July 30. Get ready to watch my journey as I go for my finish line! 💪💪💪💪