I look forward to the day when, like the Dalai Lama, I feel bliss every waking moment. I'm not there yet, but I console myself with the acknowledgement that I am closer than I used to be.
When I sat down to write this blog post, I checked in with myself and admitted that I was angry.
It was tempting to blame my anger on a person who is no longer my friend and rant about how immature that person is and how much more mature I am by comparison. That's a natural response to anger.
I've been doing that off and on for the last few days, in fact. And I don't feel any better.
So I decided to practice what I teach.
In my classes on self-healing, I teach 4 step processes to changing how we think and how we behave. Here are my Four Steps to Letting Go.
Step 1 - Decide I want to feel better. This was the easiest step. I was tired of being angry and hurt, and I wanted to feel excited about the good things in my life again.
Step 2 - Make a self-healing appointment with myself ASAP. I decided there was no better time than right now.
Step 3 - Explore how I feel, why I think I feel that way, why I really feel that way, how I want to feel instead, and what I need to feel that way instead. 5 questions, one activity. I opened my word processor and wrote an open letter to myself with the promise to myself, the Universe, and all things Good that no one would read it other than me.
Let's explore this essential promise for a minute. I used to believe that I had to tell the person who "made me" angry what they'd done wrong and that I needed to know that I'd been heard before I could let it go and move on. Because I believed that, I had a really hard time forgiving anyone and my mind was overrun with obsessive angry and hurtful thoughts. I would write letters, emails, even blog posts attacking whomever I felt had wronged me, detailing why they were wrong and what they needed to change about themselves. I didn't think of it this way then, but now I see that I was trying to shame them into changing.
Now I believe that the only person I can change is me, and that shame is a terrible weapon that I do not want in my arsenal.
So when I decide to explore my feelings today, I do it in a way that will not provide an opportunity for shame to strike anyone, not even me. If I feel bad about something I type, I instantly delete it and write something else instead, because it's not what I'm saying that is helping me heal - it is the process of writing it all out...and thinking it all out.
If I don't write it out, it's all running circles in my head, triggering fear, anger, and pain, making those harmful feelings stronger and stronger with every pass.
Beliefs are created when we think the same thoughts over and over and over and over until they sinks in so deeply they become one with our unconscious - the supercomputer part of our brain that guides our every thought and action beneath our awareness. If I allow myself to keep thinking the harmful thoughts, then I allow myself to create or strengthen harmful beliefs, and set myself back on my healing path.
Which leads me to: Step 4 - Create short, simple phrases to help me get back on track when I catch myself obsessing over the anger and hurt. This is my version of an affirmation, a helpful thought to replace the old hurtful ones.
In this case, I decided to remind myself of my personal goal to accept other people for who they are, without judging them as good or bad. I believe that this person is not compatible with me as a friend. I remind myself that if someone is not compatible with me, or behaves in a way I do not like, then all I have to do is let them go and keep seeking bonds with people who ARE compatible with me, and who DO behave in ways that I like.
So here are my affirmations:
It's my job to make me happy. Only I can make me happy. Only I can change me. Only I have the power to change my mood.
I feel better already. <3
Here are five things you can do RIGHT NOW to improve how you feel. Do one, two or all. In any order. Just do it NOW!
1 Change your physiology.
Act like you feel good. Make your face reflect the emotion you want to feel. Smile, and make it reach your eyes. Breathe deeply, slowly. Sigh happily. Sit up straight, shoulders back in confident posture. Your body tells your brain how you feel. Change your physiology, and biochemistry will adjust.
2 Free your mind.
First, you need to be aware of how you are thinking. Are your thoughts full of insults and profanity toward yourself or others? Are your thoughts reflecting a "can't do" attitude? Are your thoughts trapped in an anxious spiral of doom? If your thoughts are negative, they are hurting you. They are trapping you. Free your mind by thinking in a new way. Instead of blaming how you feel on the actions or inactions of others, decide that your emotions are your responsibility and that you will decide how you feel from this moment on. Then ask yourself what you need right now to feel better, what you can do for yourself right now to improve your mood.
3 Nourish your body.
Drink some water. Eat a piece of raw fruit or vegetable - a food most nourishing to your cells. Take a nap. Let the sun shine on your skin. Give yourself a massage. Take a shower. If you are neglecting your body, your stress hormone level is too high. Taking care of your body lowers it, and improves every aspect of how you feel, physically, mentally, emotionally.
4 Entertain yourself.
Read, Listen to, or Watch something that always makes you feel good or laugh. Go to youtube and watch funny or inspiring videos. Make a happy or silly or peaceful play list on your computer or mp3 player. Read a funny book. Watch your favorite feel-good or funny show or movie. Here are some of my favorites: Uplifting News
, How To Create Big
, Owl City - Good Time
, Glad No Matter What by SARK
5 Get off of your butt.
Right now. Stand up. Shake it off. Get your blood pumping with some light aerobic exercise. Step away from the computer. If you are feeling down, do things to crack yourself up - move in a silly way, dance like nobody's watching, make faces at yourself in a mirror, strike a pose. If you are feeling anxiety or apathy, do an angry dance. Kick the crap out of the floor. Punch your mattress until your arms are too tired to move. Jump up and down until your heart is pumping and you need some water. Go for a walk, jog, or run outside if you can. Do it now!
Consider this blog post an experiential meditation. Sit some place comfortable, minimize distractions, relax and have a journal handy.
To begin, aim your palms at the ground or touch the ground and ground out all the yucky energy that you can. With every breath, exhale all the stress, and with every inhale pull in all the healing, calming energy that you can. Let your thoughts about the past and your thoughts about the future rest in an insulated area of your mind. Curtain them off and be here with me now. Breathe in. Breathe out. Just breathe.
How does it feel to just breathe?
Take a moment now to find something in your line of sight that is beautiful to you. How does gazing at it feel in your body? Do you drink in beauty with your eyes? How does it nourish you?
Think about a child, or fur-child, that you have loved unconditionally, with your whole heart. Imagine holding that precious being in your arms with your eyes closed, and let yourself fill with that love. How does it feel in your body? How does it feel in your heart?
In the beginning, there was One.
After a few million millenia, One got bored, and became Two.
Consciousness, Stillness, Space – Shiva
Energy, Movement, Matter – Shakti.
Shiva and Shakti took one look at each other and fell madly, passionately in love. They immediately united with each other in every way they could, and there was much Big Banging.
From their Union came all the photons that make light and all the particles that make the atoms that make the molecules that make the minerals and the cells and the bodies and the forms and the lack of form of all that exists, all that once existed, all that will exist some day.
Shiva and Shakti are inseparable from their Creation - they exist within everything, including us. Each of us is a unique expression of combined Consciousness and Energy, Stillness and Movement, Space and Matter. Each of us resonates with a desire to combine in new ways.
When it's hot, and you are thirsty, let yourself lust for some ice cold water. As you bring that water to your lips, shift your perception. Allow yourself to be the water, lusting for the touch of your lips, wanting nothing more than to pour itself into you, saturating every cell in your being, nourishing you, becoming one with you.
Can you see yourself as an object of your own desire? What future-You fires up your passion? Can you feel her reaching for you with as much love and desire as you have for her?
Think about one thing that you are 100% committed to.
Why are you able to fully commit to this thing?
What would it take for you to commit 100% to your highest values?
What would your life be like if you were more committed to your own health and happiness than you are right now?
Shakti and Shiva didn't need to make vows to each other in order to commit to their unification. They didn't spend the vast majority of their existence being taught to please and take care of every one and every thing except themselves.
When we marry a spouse in our culture, we make vows that we (hopefully) intend to keep and expect the other to keep. What vows would you make to your soulmate? What would you want your soulmate to vow to you?
Think about every thing that you do for others. Think about every thing you'd like others to do for you. How many of those things can you do for yourself? How many of those things would you like to do for future-You?Are you ready to commit to your own health and happiness? Are you ready to love yourself unconditionally?Try this:
- Smile at yourself when you look in the mirror. Let your gaze fill with loving acceptance.
- Date yourself. Take yourself somewhere special and get to know you over a suitable period of time. Pen each date into your planner and avoid rescheduling.
- Propose to yourself. Make it romantic and beautiful. Spend plenty of time picking out the perfect ring.
- Write your own vows. Make them personal, and exactly what you need.
- Marry yourself, alone, among family & friends, or make it totally public. Make it sacred. Make it a celebration.
- Take yourself on a honey moon, and nourish your newlywed love for yourself.
I just had an ecstatic experience of the likes I had only ever previously before experienced in a sacred space. With today's blog post I hope I can help you have one too!
What do I mean by ecstatic experience?
I mean a rush of pleasure, joy, and energy that leaves you tingling all over and screaming YES in your mind if not aloud.
I mean a state of epiphany, that glorious spark of genius that knocks you right out of that rut and into a place of clarity and new vision with the power to totally change your life.
I had no idea what this video was about when I clicked play. When the speaker mentioned a study involving 120 babies, I was hooked. I'm so glad I watched it all the way through. It made me think of dance in a whole new way. Not just dance, but everything that I do, everything I believe, and everything that I teach...yes, it was that good of an epiphany for me. Experiencing this video filled in the gaps enough that I could finally see a clear picture, the answer I've been searching for, what I feel is the key to healing myself of PTSD.
See that guy to the right? That is a guy who's afraid to let go. He's holding so tightly onto his "stuff" he can't even get off of the toilet and wipe his proverbial butt.
He's a good illustration of what anxiety does. It makes us cling to habits, thoughts, and beliefs that keep us stuck. Better the bad things we know than the bad things that could happen, according to the philosophy of fear.
Lately, I've been struggling with Writer's Block. I've been stressing over money and bills. I've felt stuck in all of my projects, I gained back the little bit of weight I'd lost, and I found myself looking for a cave to hide in with a blanket and a familiar feel-good book.
My plan today was to give myself some self-coaching after I dropped my son off at daycare, but of course I had to check Facebook first...
...which turned out to be a good thing for once. Because one of my friends posted this video, had me in tears and then bouncing in my chair, then dancing wildly around my room.
This is the video that inspired me this morning. Make sure you get up and dance at the end! <3
When I feel stuck, blocked, bleh...all I have to do is get off of my butt for a moment, let go, and dance.
Dancing feels good. It gets my feel good hormones surging. It makes my heart pump and my breath come in gasps. It makes my muscles tingle and my skin warm. It makes me smile, and it clears all the gook out of my head, making space for inspiration, answers, and self-encouragement.
I can think of one or two times in my life that I tried to shake the blahs by dancing. It helped. You'd think I would have made a habit of it.
You can bet your proverbial butt I'm making it a habit now!
P.S. How to Make a New Habit
If you have a cell phone with an alarm feature on you at all times, it's simple to make a new habit.
All you have to do is pick a time, set your alarm, and every time your alarm goes off DO whatever it is you are trying to make a habit of doing.
JUST DO IT. No excuses, no snooze button. You are replacing an old habit with a new one. You have a habit of doing something else at the time you choose, even if you aren't aware of what that habit is. You've been doing that other thing for months, years, possibly decades. That's a lot of practice, and your body and mind have a good memory.
You have to do the new habit at least 22 times before it will replace the old one. After about three weeks, you won't need your alarm anymore; however, use your alarm longer than you think you need to. Celebrate the positive changes that come into your life as a result of your new habit, to keep yourself motivated whenever you feel tempted to skip it. :)
Most people are so far removed from the natural world they can't reconcile their human brain with their animal body. Many people think of obesity, mental illness, and illness in general as personal failures on the parts of the sick. If a person just disciplined herself, she would be fit, happy, and healthy. It's all about self-control, right? Mind over matter!
As if the ability to intellectualize what we should or shouldn't do could override millions of years of instinct, or even a few years of unconscious habit.
What if obesity was one of our bodies' ways of protecting us from perceived threats?
What if stress - fear, pain, shame - caused our metabolism to change, storing calories rather than burning them - providing a squishy shield against famine, cold, and predators?
Me, 9, already hiding beneath dark baggy clothes.
I started gaining weight when I was nine, about a year after my mother started abusing me.
I was only fat compared to small-framed girls. I was a tomboy, active in sports, climbing trees, winning races against the neighborhood boys. I was tall for my age and strong.
When my mother started calling me fat, telling me I was going to grow up to look just like my obese grandmother if I didn't stop eating the junk food that she and my younger siblings were eating, I started losing those races. Rather than playing sports and climbing trees, I retreated into books and ate while I read. I hid food and stole money to buy more food to hide. I even ate my fingernails.
By the time my mother died, I really was obese. My mother's abuse continued in my head. I was a woman's size 12 at age twelve, a 14 at 14, a 16 at 16.
From my senior pictures, taken a month after my first rape.
When I was seventeen, I started taking karate with my best friend, and I actually lost 20 pounds and went down to a 14 again. I started feeling attractive, and dressed differently, wore make up and jewelry (huge heavy earrings and pewter pendants on black strings that I got from the flea market.)
That year I finally landed a boyfriend. He was 22. He raped me, and I blamed myself. Desperate for love, I tried to keep his attention for a few more weeks. I have pictures of myself literally clinging to him at my Senior Homecoming dance. He spent the entire dance hitting on every girl he saw, and dumped me soon afterwards.
When I was 19, I was raped three more times, by three different coworkers in three totally different situations, and I blamed myself for each, hating myself exponentially more by the the time I finally quit that job. The last rape happened in the library at UCF, and I stopped attending classes that semester, failing two of them, getting kicked out of the honors college.
I didn't tell anyone about the rapes for years. My friends and family had no idea why I went bat-shit insane, cutting myself, hiding in my apartment for weeks at a time as my grades dropped and my finances dwindled. I lived on pizza. And ice cream. I ate ice cream out of a glass between bites of pizza in lieu of a beverage.
I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) when I was 19. UCF provided free counseling for a limited number of sessions, and I used up all of mine for two semesters before giving up on professional treatment.
I was a size 18-20 then, and ashamed of my belly. Whenever I sat down, I held my backpack in my lap and hugged it like a shield. A couple times my therapist convinced me to put it down, and a moment later I would be hugging a pillow.
I didn't know it until years later, but I had also become codependent. I went through a string of very short relationships, and I continued to gain about ten pounds every year. When I could no longer find a gi that fit, I gave up on karate, and started gaining 15 pounds a year until at 27, newly divorced and having my very first and very last friends-with-benefits type relationship, I conceived.
As a pregnant woman, I finally stopped hiding my belly. I gained 60 pounds while pregnant, but fell in love with my body the night I gave birth. In my third trimester, eating for nutrition rather than comfort, I lost weight for the first time since high school.
And then I found myself a single mother living with and engaged to a man who completely ignored me except when he wanted sex.
I don't know how much I gained that first year of motherhood. The scale only went to 330 pounds. My 32-34 clothes became too tight.
And then my toddler and I were homeless.
I hit rock bottom drowning in an abyss of fear and shame, pain and anger.
Fear of losing my child. Shame for being poor, fat, and alone. Pain of loss, failure, old wounds reopened. Anger towards myself, towards my ex, towards my family and friends who stood back waiting for me to save myself.
Brand new friends tossed me a rope. Gratitude toward them, hope stemming from my faith, and love for my son gave me the strength to climb that rope bit by bit.
Two years ago, I took a leap of faith that changed my life in ways I barely dared to dream.
Who would have guessed that food poisoning would help me cure MDD? Or that I would lose 90 pounds in a year just by eliminating animal products?
This time last year I was the happiest I had ever been in my life.
Despite the PTSD, which had, if anything, grown stronger. 2012 gave the PTSD even more fuel.
In February of last year, my 32 year old fit, happy friend had a stroke. In March, she died...and then my aunt informed me that my 26 year old cousin had cancer in his brain and two years to live. In June, that cousin died, and the day he died, my 40 year old uncle had seizures and went into a coma no one expected him to survive, and at that point I became convinced that I was next.
I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer because I was determined to get fit, finally. I spent hundreds of dollars that I really needed to be saving, thinking I could force myself to commit now that the powerlessness of depression no longer ruled my life.
I actually gained back 20 pounds instead and couldn't figure out why at first.
Then I got it. Fear. Shame. Pain.
Fear of being homeless again, of leaving my son motherless, of becoming my mother.
Shame that I was still fat, that I couldn't seem to commit to my own values, that I wasn't the person that I wanted to be.
Pain...missing my lost loved ones, revisiting the losses of my past. Pain of feeling like a failure.
There was one more fear I was ashamed to admit, even to myself.
Looking at images of myself at 17...I was beautiful.
Every one of my rapists told me I was beautiful.
I'm afraid to be beautiful.
I'm stronger, healthier, wiser now. But the idea of giving up my shield of fat, of my fat-girl identity is still as terrifying as it is thrilling.
What would my life be like if I could hug my own knees? If I could choose clothes to accentuate my curves instead of minimizing them?
What would it be like to be in front of a camera without sucking in my belly and tilting my head up to minimize the neck rolls?
Who would I be if I were healthy, had tons of energy, climbing trees and running races with my son when he's ten?
How do I even begin that journey?
Oh, wait...I'm already on it.
I stepped on my path to health when I committed to changing the way I ate the month gestational diabetes threatened my home birth. I stepped back on it when food poisoning left me allergic to animal products, and I'm stepping back on it now because I deserve to be healthy and because I am ready to commit to my own happiness.
If I slide off the path during a time of high stress, that's okay. I have the power to climb back on.
In the last couple of years, I've come to understand how Pain and Fear and Shame fuel each other, amplify each other, sapping my will to commit. I understand that I can't change lifelong habits overnight - that I need to work on changing one habit at a time.
If I'm still fat this time next year, that's ok. I will love myself anyway. I will be proud of myself regardless.
There is nothing I need to lose more than my silly human hang ups.
"It was not quite two days after my twelfth Christmas when I awoke to a soft masculine voice calling my name. Moonlight slipped through the closed blinds of the windows at the head and the side of my bed, casting my dresser, computer monitor, and closet in a ghostly glow. The only other light in the room came from the blaring red of my digital alarm clock, on the stand next to my head. 3:45 a.m.
My door opened, revealing the outline of my dad, his face hidden in shadow. “Get up, Ashley,” he murmured. “Your mother just passed. You're going to Dorothy's. Get up, while I wake your sister.”
He closed the door, and I stared at it, listening to his soft call to my sister, the sound of her door opening. Get up, he'd said, so I lifted off my comforter with heavy limbs and forced myself to sit up, staring at the door as if it could answer my questions.
Mom was dead?
She always got better.
My door opened again, and Dad told me to follow him. I stumbled into the hallway, next to my nine-year-old sister, the stress blisters on her lips accentuated by her sleep-puffy face. Dad rushed us down the dark hallway and through the living room. I craned my neck, looking for the bed Mom had been lying on when last I saw her. The bed was there, but I couldn't see Mom. I couldn't see the dark outline of her body. I couldn't even see the mass of blankets she'd needed to keep warm.
There were people there, standing by the windows, by the wall in the dining room. I could hear them breathing, soft murmurs, maybe of comfort. The only person I could actually see was Dad as he rushed us outside, into a friend's car, where we silently joined our seven-year-old brother
Dad had rushed my body through the living room, too quickly for my eyes to catch a glimpse of the woman that had been the center of my universe. Ever since that moment, I'd been searching for my mother – in the faces, voices, and stories of her surviving relatives; in a green river stone I found in Japan; in a glowing moonstone pendulum, dancing in my hands in the light of the full moon."
--From Not My Mother: A Memoir
Every year I relive that night, 19 years ago today, when life as I knew it changed forever.
Every year I grieve my loss, even while I'm celebrating my blessings.
Laughing one moment, sobbing the next, like part of me lives here in the present while another part is stuck in the past.
Every year, the grieving part of me resurfaces.
But this year it's different.
In past years I tried to stuff the grief, or distract myself from it. I felt guilty for grieving such an old loss. I felt angry with myself for still hurting after all this time.
Underneath my guilt and anger were the hidden beliefs that I didn't have the right to hurt over something so far away when my friends had suffered much more recent, even worse losses.
As if grief is quantifiable.
As if grief needs justification.
A lot of people subscribe to those silly beliefs.
A friend recently told me that I was never homeless because I never had to sleep in my car like she had to once upon a time.
That's like the victim of a gang rape telling the victim of a date rape that she was never really raped.
"You don't have the right to hurt because I won the worst life contest you didn't know we were playing."
I witness similar conversations all the time, and no doubt I'm guilty of pulling the same dis-empowering, hurtful bullshit myself in the past:Grieving person reaching out for comfort and understanding:
"My grandma died." Grieving person totally absorbed in own pain:
"Oh yeah? Well, I've lost my father, my mother, and I was laid off two years ago and can't find a job!" Grieving person who now also feels guilty, embarrassed and a bit angry:
"Oh, sorry. Obviously all the sympathy in this conversation should go to you, you poor thing."
Grief isn't just about losing people. Grief happens whenever we suffer a loss, even the loss of hopes and dreams. As long as we feel like we've lost something precious, we're going to grieve. The last thing we need is to have shame, embarrassment, guilt, or self-recrimination heaped on top of it.
It's okay to grieve together about or individual losses. It's good to be gentle with our own and each other's wounds.
Coming to this realization is what has made the difference for me this year. When I really got to thinking about how we all have the right to grieve, I realized that I needed to allow myself to experience my grief when it comes up.
If I need to cry, I cry.
If I need to talk about it, I talk about it.
If I need a hug, I get a hug, or I hug myself.
And when the wave of pain has ebbed, I take care to nourish myself so I'm stronger and healthier before the next wav
When I committed to healing myself of Major Depressive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so that I could be the mother that my toddler deserved, I had no idea how I would accomplish that goal.
I never tried medications to treat either mental illness, because I took a class on physiological psychology in college and came out of it convinced that psychiatric drugs were too new. Allowing a psychiatrist to experiment with my brain chemistry seemed to me a bigger risk than living with the disorders.
I thought that if I could just live on my own, by my own rules, the symptoms would fade away.
I was wrong.
Ten years later I found myself a homeless single mother with a spirited toddler. I knew I needed help, but I still didn't trust psychologists or psychiatric drugs.
I started reading the works of Louise Hay
and Leonie Allen
, and watching films like The Secret
and What the Bleep Do We Know
. Concepts from all of those sources swirled with many more concepts from my studies in biology, anthropology, and language and with my spiritual, intuitive, and metaphysical experiences. Those concepts led me to my customized healing path, which I modified as I progressed.
One of the first changes that I made in my habits was to stop watching and reading the news, stop watching dramas on tv and in the movies, and avoid music and books that could trigger depressive or anxious episodes. My goal was to change my beliefs about my own life and about the "real world."
I reached that goal.
Nearly two years later, I have conquered the Major Depressive Disorder that blighted the first thirty years of my life. I still avoid watching and reading "news." I find out about tragedies because I have a few facebook friends who post that stuff whom I love too much to hide from my newsfeed. :)
Sometimes a little voice in my head accuses me of being irresponsible by not keeping up with the "news."
I remind that little voice, that the "news" is not an accurate reflection of what is going on in this world.
Every moment of every day, many people are suffering horrors and tragedies that many other people could never imagine.
Every moment of every day, many people are experiencing miracles, blessings, and unconditional love that many other people could never imagine.
Keeping myself informed about things that upset me doesn't help anyone, least of all me.
The news I choose to share is always about positive changes and celebrations of the good things in life. That is the news I care about, and I want to hear more because that kind of news inspires me to make more positive changes. I share it because I hope it helps others stay positive too.
I have a lot of friends who are journalists and activists, people who think it is their responsibility to wake the rest of the world up about the horrible crap that goes on both behind the scenes and in plain sight.
I would propose that more changes can be made by sharing positive stories than by sharing upsetting ones.
Say you want to remember those poor people who were murdered recently. You can share one of many articles or images that inspires grief, horror, anger, fear, or cynicism.
You could share a story or image that encourages people to take care of each other. You could donate to a cause, volunteer your time or other resources, or do any one thing, big or small, to make a positive change in this world, and by doing so, inspire other people to do the same. <3
Alone in the dark, she sat among flickering tea lights and swirls of incense smoke.
In her hands she held a sheaf of handwritten letters to the Universe, letters into which she'd poured all her hurt, shame, fear, guilt, anger, and apologies.
She asked for help releasing those energies, and she lit the paper on fire, dropping it into a fire-safe container.
She watched the flames dance and tossed in a handful of lavender and sage. She drank in the soothing scents of the two herbs as they purified her circle.
She took three slow, deep, cleansing breaths.
In her mind she went to her healing space, a space she created with the powers of hope and imagination.
There she smiled, allowing the healing energy to flow into her body from every possible source.
She filled herself with the bliss of a future free of all she had just released, and she gave thanks.
"The wound is the place where the Light enters you. "
I used to have these nightmares.
A monster I couldn't see chased me
getting closer and closer and I couldn't run.
When I tried to scream for help
only a soft hissing air escaped my throat
and I'd wake up gasping,
alone in the darkness.
Fear feels so big,
When I'm stuck in fearful thinking,
My heart pounds.
My stomach clenches.
I gasp for air.
I shrink into myself,
deep beneath the layers of fat and muscle,
blood and bone,
trying to hide and get away at the same time.
Tiny-Me can only take tiny steps.
Ten steps later I've barely moved an inch
and progress seems impossible.
When I hold my son in my arms
with my lips resting in his hair
calling on that deep, endless well of unconditional love,
that love feels so big,
it heals me,
it bonds me
to my son,
to all whom I love
and all who love me.
Love reminds me that I am never alone.
I do have a voice.
I can move forward.
When I fill myself with love,
love leaves no space for fear.
Love illuminates the answers
that are already inside me.
Love empowers me
to make that change,
to step out of my nightmares
and into my dreams.
A week ago today I wrote the first draft of my first Children's story. I was so excited about it I read it to everyone lucky enough to catch my eye, and revised it several times on Saturday. Sunday I drew the illustrations, Monday I recorded the narration, and Tuesday I put it all together in the video above for your viewing pleasure.
I love this story so much, I just have to share it with everyone. If this story touches you, please share it with others so that they can be touched too! (And no, that doesn't sound dirty at all. hee hee)
If you'd rather read than watch the story, here you go:
The Girl Who Climbed A Moonbeam
by Ashley Rae
Once upon a time there was a little girl who really, REALLY needed a hug.
Alone in the Dark Outside, the little girl tried and tried to make a home of sticks and leaves and rocks and things, but the wind blew it down and the rain washed it away.
Then, the little girl heard sounds like footsteps and voices calling her name, but she hid in the darkness, shivering with cold and fear until they were gone.
The night grew darker and colder, until the moon rose high in the sky, softly lighting the Dark Outside. A moonbeam formed a bridge from the sky to the Earth, and a glowing woman with bright, beautiful eyes stepped into the Less-Dark Outside.
The beautiful woman smiled at the little girl and opened her arms invitingly.
Slowly, slowly, the little girl swallowed her fear. Inch by inch she approached those inviting arms until they wrapped around her like a feather-blanket fresh from the dryer.
“My precious daughter, I see you alone, afraid, lost in the dark. May I help you build your home?” the Mother asked in a voice as soft as flowers.
The little girl nodded, and together the Mother and the Child built a house with all the sticks and stones and flowers and mud They could reach. When They finished, the Child saw Her home was a heart, but the heart was cracked and full of holes.
“This heart is strong and will not be blown away by the wind, though it whistles through the cracks; and it will not be washed away by the rain, though the water may leak in through the holes. You can stay here if you feel safe here, my dear. Or You can take My hand and come home with Me.”
The Mother stepped onto the moonbeam and held out Her hand.
The Child stared at the heart-home She'd worked so hard to build. She stared and She stared and though She wanted to go with the Mother, her head screamed NO NO NO. We worked too hard for too long and I haven't even gone inside!
“It's okay if You want to stay here,” the Mother said. “My home is always open to You. Come when You're ready.”
The Mother glided up the moonbeam and was gone. The moonbeam stayed right where it was, and the Dark Outside was not as dark as it'd been before.
The Child sat down inside Her heart-home, looking at the Less-Dark Outside through the holes. Wind whistled through the cracks of Her heart-home and it sounded like a whisper, a questioning whisper. Do you really want to stay here? Really?
The Child shivered and looked around Her broken heart-home. She looked and She looked and She shivered and She shivered.
“No,” She said. “No, I don't want this cold, broken home. I want to feel warm and safe like I felt when Mother held me. I want to go home with Her.”
But when the Child tried to step onto the moonbeam, Her foot passed right through. Again and again She stepped through the moonbeam, tears streaming down Her face.
At last the Child turned to walk away, and She saw that there were chains around Her ankles, heavy chains, too heavy for walking on moonbeams!
The Child pulled and pulled at the chains, but She didn't know how to take them off. She pulled two stones from the walls of the heart-home and banged them against the chains, but the chains didn't even break!
The Child got madder and madder, and the wind blew harder and harder, and the rain poured and poured, until the Child threw back Her head and screamed.
A blinding flash of light struck the ground beside Her, lighting a stick on fire, magickal fire that burned even soaking wet wood, even in the windy wind.
The Child took the torch in Her hand and saw that the chains tied Her ankles to the heart-home. She was so mad she just threw the stick of magick-fire into that heart-home. She watched the magick-fire change that heavy heart-home into tiny, light ashes that blew away in the wind and washed away in the rain, and the chains around Her ankles fell off and melted into the Earth.
The Child finally stepped onto the moonbeam, and she was so, SO tired. Step by step She reached for the moon.
The light was so bright it hurt Her eyes, but She kept stepping.
The path became so soft She thought She'd fall through the clouds all the way to the cold hard ground, but She kept stepping.
Her body became so cold She felt like a thousand needles stuck through Her poor body, but She kept stepping.
And then She saw the Mother standing before Her, Her bright, beautiful eyes shining with pride and love.
The Child felt bigger, taller, warmer. She looked down at Herself and saw the body of a woman, soft and strong, just like the body of the Goddess!
She looked up and saw surprise mirrored in the Mother's face.
Then She saw the frame.
The little girl all grown up looked into the eyes of the Goddess She'd become. She wrapped Her arms around Herself like a feather-blanket fresh from the dryer, and She smiled.