The more there is to do, the slower I need to do it

December is a weird month. Every group, community, class, and workplace is throwing a party, often at the same time. There are showcases, performances, potlucks, and all kinds of holiday gift exchanges. All with an underlying, sometimes not so subtle, pressure to participate.

I like to show up for the people in my life and reconnect with the communities I participate in. But I am not too keen on constant activity. These December days can be quite a whirlwind, moving from one obligatory celebration to another. I am finding this year to be different though. There are just as many events on the calendar, but I don’t feel as overwhelmed. Something in me is different.

I am moving slower. Taking breaks in between for a cup of tea. Saying no to requests that don’t align with my values, especially those that involve buying stuff that feels unnecessary. Letting it be OK if I don’t have anything to say at a party. Spending time just lying down, not watching Netflix, not reading a book, not looking at my phone, not meditating either. The other day, I had about two hours left of work to do, and I was just too tired to do it. So I took a nap, then woke up and got the work done in 30 minutes. It’s amazing how much can get done when my energy is truly recharged.

As a native New Yorker with a walk that has sometimes outpaced my running friends, this slower way of going about life is liberating. I love it. I don’t need to push through or pretend anything. I can just show up. Happily. As I am. 

I  wish this slower pace for all of us this December. To do what feels good to your own heart. To drop the rest, with love. To move at your own pace. To attend events in full agreement to being there, and if you can’t, to go home and take a nap. To enjoy the empty moments as well as the full ones. It’s December, and we are heading into the winter’s den. There is time for everything, and everything has its time. 

The Healing Potential of Difficult Relationships

Do you ever find yourself avoiding difficult conversations just to keep the peace, only to later end up too distant or in an even bigger mess? With courage and an honest look at our own blind spots, we can watch the transformation of judgment into permission and understanding. If you’re in the Austin area and could use a little reflection time out, come join me in this gentle exploration of how we can heal through the relationships that trigger us, freeing up more love for ourselves and others in the process.

Seton Cove, Austin, TX, Tuesday November 27th 12pm-1pm

Thankful for the trash

Today I offer a special thank you for all the life experiences I didn’t want. Thank you to the chronic pain, the people who have hurt me, the ones I have hurt, the disappointments, the despair, the voice in my head that tells me there’s something wrong with me. The shadow has reminded me to go towards the light. The pain has taught me to heal. The heartbreak has allowed me to become whole again.

This is the paradox of what it is to be human. Existence on this earth plane is suffering, and it is joy. What to keep and what to let go of is a choice we get to make. I choose to release resistance and the trash talk in my mind. I choose to follow a beautiful vision of harmony and freedom. And I choose life as is.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all. Many blessings on all your own complexities.

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Taking Space

May I be freed from all projections

So I can see clearly

Show up as an empty vessel

Listen well.

There is love here

There is darkness too.

New vision discerns:

This is my work to do

And this

Is not.

Time sees what was hidden before

Space for healing.

We come together again

More real.

Feminine power

IMG_3882This photo was taken last spring when I performed with the Wandering Bindis bellydance troupe at a women’s heart health conference. I didn’t share it at the time because I was still stifled by the worn-out belief that a woman can’t be both feminine and professional.

A professional knows how to put everything else aside to be fully present for another. A professional knows how to stay calm and do what needs to be done in a crisis. A professional steps up, steps in, and competently uses the tools available. A woman can do all those things no matter what she is wearing or how she enjoys her free time.

Feminine power is not the female version of masculine power. It is strength in vulnerability, beauty in chaos, and stillness in change. Feminine power is fearlessly emotional, wild, creative, and loving, and it is a blazing fire when it encounters something no longer serving its purpose. It is accessible within all of us, regardless of gender.

I don’t need to pretend to be less or more or different than I am, and neither do you. We can be whole human beings, expressing all dimensions of ourselves. 

The paradigm is shifting, and it feels like an earthquake. I don’t want to live in a world where women dominate men any more than I want to live in a world where men dominate women, white people dominate people of color, straight cisgender people dominate everyone else, and so on. Let the systems of external authority crumble. They haven’t been working for most of us for long enough. In the new vision, personal power serves the collective good. Lending a hand feels better than posturing, competing, or institutionalizing. We can do this when we do it together. LOVE is the greatest force ever known. 

The Mirror

Yesterday morning, I saw an older woman crying on the trail. I put a hand over my heart as we passed, and we looked into each other’s eyes, just briefly. I saw her, and she acknowledged that seeing. My chest filled, and tears came to my eyes. I have been that woman crying on the trail. It’s not so easy to be seen when you’re in pain.

This is a healing time for many. In my experience doing my own healing work and holding space for others, the difference between re-wounding and healing is in the safe, loving container. To be in a place where you can feel it all–the shock, the panic, the rage, the terror, the helplessness, the numbness–to feel into the darkness, but present in the body, supported by a deeply compassionate container that sees and honors your true essence–that is healing work. There are many resources available, and if you’re having trouble finding some, please ask for help. If you’re going solo on this leg of the journey, I hope you are creating that space for yourself and finding those resources within.

I also see this as a real time for self-reflection. We each are coming from different realities, so we have different questions to ask ourselves. Here are some of mine:

42917423_10215815937822808_89046294227582976_nWhere have I blamed myself for situations that were out of my control so I wouldn’t have to feel vulnerable?

Where have I felt a boundary be crossed without saying anything?

Where have I misused power myself?

How can I contribute more to our collective healing?

Self-awareness is a key not often used. It opens the door to vulnerable conversation. It allows me to see you, instead of just seeing a reflection of myself.

Whoever you are, whatever you’re going through, I hope you face and embrace the person you see in the mirror. That you ask the hard questions and say to yourself, “I am with you every step of the way.”

With a hand over my heart, may we come into our true alignment with healing and integrity.

 

Courage

A shift is underway. It is tumultuous, real, and necessary. A new authority figure is not going to tell us how to fix things or what to do. The leader is in you, and in me, and she rises like a phoenix out of these ashes. She is the whole that is much greater than the sum of her parts.

What can we do? We can stand up. We can speak from our hearts. We can do that hard thing we’ve been avoiding. We can step aside to let some new voices be heard, the voices of the ones who have stayed quiet, the ones who have been stepped on and marginalized for long enough. We can use what we have. We can be uncomfortable for the sake of listening.

We each have our own part to play in this shift. Only you know what your part is. That’s not for me or anyone else to tell you. But I know your part was made just for you, as mine was made for me. When we show up for ourselves, we show up for our community. We show up on behalf of a greater love. 

The time has come for us to know our own strength. Not the strength to take over, but the strength to do what we came here to do. The power has been there inside us all along.

The time has come to support our sisters and brothers who also work out of love, service, integrity, and truth. They falter sometimes too, and we can all use a hand up now and then.

I have faith in us. I hear stories every day of women and men who face their traumas and their fears. We surface with hearts scarred but open. We fall down, and we will get back up again. We have been brave, and we can be even braver together. Love is still here for us.

Reach for the light

Photo by Nacho Juárez

Beyond Self-Care

Self-care isn’t just a yoga class you take twice a week or the beach vacation you plan with girlfriends. Those things are wonderful, perhaps essential. But do you ever deeply relax for a few days only to return to your previous state of tension within hours of resuming the regular routine?

We need more than just the pleasurable, nourishing activities we do to recharge. Beyond self-care is self-love. Self-love is the way you talk to yourself on your roughest days and the permission you give to feel your emotions in full color. It’s saying no when you don’t feel like saying yes, and it’s forgiving yourself when things don’t work out the way you intended. Shifting your self-talk is a bit trickier than scheduling a massage, but the effects can be profound.

When I’m struggling, one of the practices I find most useful is talking to myself. It’s pretty easy to do in public these days—I just put on a pair of headphones and pretend I’m talking on the phone. I’ll take a walk in the neighborhood and ask myself questions like:

“How are you feeling, love?”

“What do you need, sweetie?”

And then I let my inner wounded one speak. I tell the story as long as I feel I need to tell it, and then wait for a response. Sometimes it helps to ask the question:

“What does my heart say?”

And when I let my heart speak, she usually says things like,

“Yeah, that was really hard for you. Of course you’re feeling sad right now.” 

Or, “I love you, dear one. I am with you no matter what.”

It works. I know it sounds a little silly, but hey, what’s wrong with silly? We have conversations in our heads all day long. This is about purposefully choosing the conversation you want to have.

To hear more ideas about going beyond self-care, check out my recent podcast conversation with Erica Blocker.

MWD 127 Julia Aziz