Embrace the beauty in living life unfiltered.

Thank you for reading my stories, laughing along, and being brave enough to share yours! 

michelle

michelle

When did you last belly laugh? 

The last time I belly laughed was watching an episode of Difficult People about two weeks ago. Billy Eichner made an amazing Small Wonder reference and I laughed so hard it hurt my entire body!

Where do doubt and shame show up in your life and how do you tackle those feelings?

Parenting! As my children get older and I’m dealing with bigger issues like sibling rivalry, dynamics within groups of friends, internet use (the worst) I sometimes feel like all sound logic vanishes into thin air. It’s been really interesting to see that my own childhood wounds have bubbled to the surface while I’m doing my best to raise confident, kind, and respectful humans. I make mistakes, I lose my patience quickly, I yell, I ask to be left alone. What works for me, is to notice where in my body I feel these kinds of emotions. Usually I can tell doubt, fear, or shame are around when I can’t take a full breath, or when my heart begins to race. That’s when I know I need to take a pause to center myself. I’ll go to my room and practice taking deep breathes. Of course sometimes I just go there to cry. And then practice taking deep breathes! Within a few minutes I generally start to feel a lot better. I have to work hard to surrender to these emotions. But I believe that I’m a better parent and probably person for doing what I can to feel them fully rather than exist as if they are not really there.

There is a story I love about a monk named Milarepa who lived for years and years in a cave and one day comes home from collecting firewood to find his cave filled with horrifying demons. After spending a great deal of time trying to wrestle and fight them out of his home, he becomes tired and sits down to the table and says, “I am not going anywhere and I guess you are not either so let’s just live here together." With that, the demons disappear. All but one. And it was the biggest and scariest demon of all (of course). So Milarepa surrenders to him too by literally placing his head in the mouth of the demon saying, “eat me if you have to” - and with that act, the big, scary demon disappears.

If there were one small act that could be contagious, what would you like it to be?

Hugging. Humans crave connection from the very basic physical level and hugging just feels good. It’s hard to stay tough and rigid after a hug ☺

Biggest technology peeve?

Our president tweeting.

High & Low from this year?

My high and low moments are actually one and the same. I had a breakdown on a retreat immediately followed by a breakthrough which seems to be the way those two things work. After a self-inquiry exercise, I became very aware that I get in my own way- a lot. In big ways and small. I saw the years of negative self-talk and the stories I created about others to figure out just how I fit in and it all made me feel so incredibly sad. All of it stopped me from experiencing true connection to the Beloved that dwells within myself and in every living being in this world. I stepped out of the retreat room and cried so hard. I almost couldn’t make it back to the retreat. I continued to cry for a while and then I just sat still and let the entire experience wash over me. I have to say it was really hard. Eventually, I got up, placed one foot in front of the other, and headed back. I knew that my true work was to come to a place of acceptance and compassion within myself.  What was really interesting was that resisting that kind of work didn’t even feel like an option. I knew I could live through all of the pain that this revelation was bound to bring up and I was ok with just asking the question, “How can I be accepting and compassionate with myself” and ok with not knowing the answer right away.

What scares you? Personally and on a more global level.

The things fear can make people do. We have all watched too many horrifying stories on the news that have robbed us of feeling safe in public settings. Greed and power on a more global level. And lots of Republicans currently in office if I’m being really honest.

What reminds you there is no reason to be afraid?

I think I’m still working that one out so you’ll have to come back to me.

With whom, doing what, when, or where do you feel most at home?

In a warm embrace with my husband, daughter or son.

Picture your most joyous day. Name three elements that help comprise that perfect day. Name them all if you'd like. 

The ocean, my family, and some really great music and wine.  That's four but I simply can’t pick between the music and the wine!

Hardest life lesson learned?

That the mind is very powerful in that it can see only what it wants to see. Also that just when you think you have had your “fair share” of suffering, another dose of it lands right there in your lap!

Share an experience that changed your life. For better or worse.

Without getting too specific, I had a moment in the last year where I had never felt more scared and sad in my entire life. I had somehow managed to teach a class early one morning after a very rough night and I got to my car, sat down and said, “God, hover over me." Words I had heard Caroline Myss speak before but had never actually used myself. I started to drive and literally came upon the person I was feeling so scared and sad over. The other details don’t even really matter. My prayer had been answered. It felt nothing short of a miracle and definitely brought me closer to the divine.

Top 3 pieces of advice for those seeking to live a good and full life?

  1. You can save yourself a whole lot of suffering if you speak to yourself the way you speak to your most loved family members, friends or pets. Watch your words.

  2. Get the botox or the boob job, eat the ice cream, run 500 miles if that’s your thing, learn to sing, surf, or speak a different language, and go tell the person the secret loving feelings you have for them already. Life is short. Do what makes you happy and feel alive.

  3. Brush your teeth and wear clean underwear. Every day. Always.

laura

laura

jen

jen