Let It All Fall Apart

Save your strength for those who need you to be strong
but how tender can you be with your own heart
how patient can you be with your own growth
how kind can you be to your weak parts

Hold it together when others are collapsing
but once in a while let it all fall apart
let it break in your hands
let the rivers flow from your eyes and your pores and your lips

Answer what needs to be answered
but the rest of the time let the questions rest against each other like your knees
write the answers in pencil or (better yet)
in the sand
so when the oceans of love or pain wash them away there will be a fresh slate for the new answers
the new way from here to there

Fix what you can fix
but let everything else come together (or back together) slowly
your love, your heart, your path
let them learn to trust again, to try again, to risk it all again

Save the world if you can
or just love bigger than you ever imagined
just smile at every single person you pass
just do your best every moment of every day
starting right Now.

Where We Begin (When It All Ends)

When it all implodes, explodes, hits the fan, comes to Jesus, goes to hell, unravels, derails, blindsides us, sideswipes us, bowls us over or pulls us under
the breath is still there

starting with the pause after the exhale
that moment where we decide to keep breathing
to keep living

it invites us to sit with the nothingness
to see how it is big enough to hold everything that was
and everything that is

it asks us to allow silence where their words used to be
to listen to all it doesn’t say for as long as we need to until we finally hear the soft beat of our own heart

until we remember how it has never left our side
not even for a moment

it introduces us to the tick-tock of this moment
until we see how the hand of Now reaches for ours

not to replace theirs or to pull us away from them
just to be with us
here where we are
as we are
right now

If Grief Could Speak (5 Things It Would Say)

If grief could speak it would say, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry it’s me that arrived at your doorstep instead of love. But I am made of love too. In fact, it’s because I love so much that I hurt so much when I lose the people I love.

If grief could speak it would say, You can survive.

I know you may not want to. I know life may not be worth living without them. I know the earth collapsed beneath your feet. I know a part of you died with them. And I know you can survive, one breath at a time, one moment at a time, one day at a time.

If grief could speak it would say, Please don’t hide me away.

I know when people see you with me they get uncomfortable. I know your friends don’t know what to say to me. I know it’s easier to hide me away when you have company over for dinner.

But I’d like a seat at the table. Will you let me speak? Will you listen to me? I can’t promise I’ll be polite or calm. I may raise my voice because I’m angry or I may collapse in a pile of tears, but if I can let it out then I don’t have to hold it here, in you.

I’d like to create some more space inside you for all of us to coexist. You, me, love, anger, laughter, peace, hope, joy… there’s enough room for all of us in your heart.

If grief could speak it would say, I love you.

You may not love me, but I love you. I love how you love so big. I love how you keep taking care of your babies who lost their papas or their mamas. I love how you keep taking care of that space your loved one took up even though they’re gone. How you leave their favorite book in the same place, how you leave their clothes folded, how you let them live a little longer in the things left behind. I love how you don’t let the world forget they were here, that they mattered, that they were a part of you. I love you.

If grief could speak it would say, Find your own way.

There seem to be a lot of “experts” out there about me. They say I arrive in stages and they make it sound like I’m something to get over, like the flu.

What I can tell you is there is nothing wrong with me and there is nothing wrong with you. I am not a sickness, I am grief. I am a valid experience and emotion and there is no right way to hold me. There is just your way. No two people receive me the same way. Let’s find our own way to dance together, to cry together, to break together, to heal together.

Let’s find our own way through this brief and beautiful life.

Published on The Huffington Post

Dear June

Dear June:

you are here so briefly (like it all is)
so when you invite me on long walks I drop everything to go

when we watch the clouds float by like thoughts, one right after the other,
I tell you people call this “doing nothing”
but you call it “being”

I introduced you to my little boy and
you two greeted each other like old friends (he’s wonderful like that)

we spend lots of time looking for my heart (I thought I left it on the desk by the colored pencils)

until I find it you tell me to trust my bones, that there is more wisdom in them than a college campus
(and I know you mean the wisdom that can’t be taught)

by the end of your visit I’ve learned to play my heart again (she was wedged between the guitar and the yoga mat where I left her at the end of May)

I ask you to stay a little longer
I’ve just gotten the hang of this “being”

you smile and promise to visit again next year, to see how the boy and the giant sunflowers have grown and to remind me to slow it down and trust my bones

you leave in the night when I am sleeping because you know goodbyes are hard for me (I’m so human like that)

but I’ll whisper it anyway today while I’m watching the clouds.

When the Light Leaves the Sky

Tonight I settle into the trust that is necessary when the light leaves the sky (or our life)

into the faith that is required to run my hands over the walls of my heart I cannot see (but I feel thumping with life)

I sink into the silence that is the answer I have been looking for (though I didn’t know it until now)

into the rythym of life (its bass and its treble and its long holds)

I step into the owning of all I have (to hold, to offer, to receive)

into the shape of my presence (and my eventual absence)
and all I am meant to create, love, hold while I’m here.

The Land of Loss

We are the residents of the Land of Loss
You’ll know us by the far-off look in our eyes
And by the way we carry our hearts on our backs
because they no longer fit in our chests

Some of us moved in under a bright sun, some of us stumbled in under a full moon
We aren’t quite sure how we got here and
even though our stories have similar endings
No two of our hearts broke apart the same way

We need shelter, and not just the kind over our heads
The kind that protects us from the world with its quick fixes and feel-betters
We need support, and not just for a few months or on the anniversary
Years later, lifetimes later, they will still be gone

We are looking for something we lost here
That piece of our heart that would make it all fit, that piece of our soul that died with them
We are looking for people who aren’t afraid to place their hand on the hole of our heart and feel for a beat
People who can hear us without trying to heal us, who can witness us without writing us off

Please forgive us if we don’t talk so much at first, or if we talk too much
Don’t worry if we take to our bed or to the bottle or the next plane to nowhere
It’s not a stage, a phase, an illness or a problem
It’s just grief

And if we forget to say it, thank you for walking with us a stretch
For visiting us in this Land of Loss instead of banishing us to it
For building that bridge from your heart to ours so that when we are ready
We can find our way home

Originally published on The Huffington Post

Mother’s Day Tribute Practice

“One of the things this society is most deficient in is safe spaces for truth-telling about the condition of our souls.” – Parker Palmer

Last Mother’s Day, as an alternative to the typical Mother’s Day celebrations, I offered a commemorative yoga practice at my local yoga studio to honor the mothers who are no longer with us.

I knew I would be marketing an unconventional idea on an uncomfortable subject, but I believe there is a need for safe spaces where we can be alone together through our deepest and most difficult emotions; grief being one of them. Holidays such as Mother’s Day are a perfect example of a time when people who have lost a loved one can feel even more alone, ostracized, or misunderstood.

This Mother’s Day I will once again offer a safe space for honoring our mothers. The ones we have with us and the ones we have lost.

Grief is seldom welcomed in our public places the same as love is, but I invite us to honor both love & grief, to move with both and to create some space for both to coexist more comfortably under our skin.

Led from a trauma-informed yoga approach, we will move through asana, breathwork and mindfulness practices specific for love & grief.

No public sharing, speaking or journaling will be required.
No hands-on adjustments.
Just space to be & breathe.

Sunday, May 8, 2016 at 4:00 p.m.
San Elijo Dance & Music Academy
1635 S Rancho Santa Fe Rd #102

(See my Huffington Post piece Exploring the Body of Grief for the concept behind this practice.)

So This is How We Say Goodbye

So this is how we say goodbye

to the people we love
to the people we’ve been
to the roles we’ve played
to the lives we’ve lived

Stepping onto the stage of our life, knowing that sometimes
sometimes we get to say a proper goodbye with applause and an encore and a bow

Sometimes no one is there, in the seat reserved for them
but we say it anyway, as we hold their picture up to the light
thank you and I love you and where are you and come back and can I hug you one more time

Sometimes we step onto that empty stage with our lines ready and our palms sweating
and then turn around and run backstage, where we can weep our lines in private
because we’re just not ready to share them with the world

Sometimes we can’t reduce it to a line or two or fifty,
so we don’t ever say goodbye to them, to us, to who we used to be

We just say hello to each new breath, each new moment, each new day.

Dear Women

I wish I had realized earlier that our worldwide tribe of women is not bound by age or beauty or success and that heroines are often the woman we just walked by without noticing.

I wish I had recognized my sister in every woman I’ve ever met and not just the ones I called friends.

In your face I see myself. The woman I’ve been, the woman I am and the woman I will be. In your strength and your weakness I see courageous examples of being human.

This is for you, for me, for us.

And for the little girls who are watching our every move.

***

For the women who have lost children, raised children or never had them.

For the ones with three kids or two jobs or both,
putting out heart and soul and pulling in minimum wage.

For the women with no one to mother them because their mamas were pulled from this earth too early,
and the ones whose mothers never showed up.

For the ones changing the world by raising tolerant, conscious, open-minded sons and daughters,
and the ones changing the world by raising community instead of children,
who mother tribes instead of families.

For the ones who can’t put food on the table but keep feeding little hearts each night,
and the women who become empowered leaders instead of power-hungry tyrants.

For the women who stand at kitchen sinks all day and sit behind desks all day and stay up all night nursing sick babies or grandparents or their own demons,
who care for everyone else first and often forget their hearts,
but when they remember them rock the world with its love.

For the women doing their best in their own corner of the world,
with the cards they’ve been given and the lot they’ve drawn.

Your best is good enough.

These are the women who are heroes because they are human,
and becoming more so with every tear they wipe and every heartbreak they survive.

This woman is you. It’s me. It’s your mother. Your sister. Your daughter. Your wife. Your grandmother. Your neighbor. Your friend.

This woman is equal parts strength and vulnerability.
We learn how to be women by watching her walk through the world,
and we become more human by walking beside her.

Originally published on The Huffington Post.

The Invitation

FullSizeRender (1)I’ll meet you here,
where the paved road ends and days are synced with the clock in the sky

where downloading silence improves our connection
and loading our bones with movement lightens the weight of the world

where curiosity is the only currency of value
and its dividends are paid in moonshine & sunsets

where stillness raises our vibration
and wisdom is written on walls of granite

where we strip down to our souls until we can hear loud and clear
the beat of our own hearts tolling for us.