I believe that everything you want in life happens when you align with your soul. I'm here to help you do that so that you can create and lead with powerful impact.


Your soul is not crazy, it’s a miracle.

Terribilis est locus iste.

We had just finished climbing the steep steps up the side of the mountain and had walked down the cobblestone steps of the town to stand in front of this church. We were out of breath.

But there it was, right on the temple door.

Terribilis est locus iste.

I felt a chill run down my spine. Whenever I read that phrase, I feel the way people must have felt in the Bible when archangels appeared before them. In a terrible kind of awe. Fear and elation coursing through me all at once.

The last time I was here, with another group of women I brought on this retreat, a man had appeared out of nowhere to ask, Do you know what that means?, Do you know about this place?, as he saw me staring in awe at the saying above the church doors.

Terribilis est locus means literally “this place is terrifying.”
But when you look at the other meaning of terribilis it also means “this place is considerable.”

So basically scholars translate it to:

This is the house of God and the door of Heaven.

He was smiling at me, wearing a flower shirt and a yellow skirt. His eyes twinkled like those of a forest nymph as he walked us through the entire church and showed us the weird numerical codes which led to other sections of the church, the anomalies in each statue, and the stations of the cross. Things scholars have been writing about for centuries that have spawned a thousand conspiracy theories in books and movies. A place that has been denounced by some and revered by others.

Always remember, things are not what they appear. Look beyond the surface! Good bye!

He said this and then ran away and disappeared into an alleyway never to be seen again. Like some sort of fairy-angel that showed up right when we needed him.

And now here we were again, a year later.

This time the man was not there. But I prepared myself for an hour at the church. Every time we come here, once the women enter the church, they cry, they kneel, they have powerful transformations. The energy is strong inside of this little building. Whatever happened here, it is significant.

This place is considerable.

After an hour, the women are complete, we decide to check out some of the shops on the ancient streets and then leave. We pass a sacred geometry store with a huge archangel statue in front of it.

Come inside and get me, a voice inside of me said.

What? I thought to myself. That statue is kind of tacky and it doesn’t fit in with the decor in my home. I don’t have room for this in my suitcase, I reasoned.

Come inside and get me. The voice insisted.

Fine.

I walked inside and immediately my eyes connected with another pair of eyes. A woman standing in the middle of the shop. It was an instant knowing, like we had known each other for lifetimes and I was meeting her again after a long time apart. Her eyes pierced my heart and looked right through me.

I looked away, a little thrown off, and went to the cashier to ask about the angel in the window.
Who was it? What was the price?

The woman with whom I had made eye contact, watched me, and the women I had brought on this retreat, as they perused the books about spirituality, healing, Reiki, and Mary Magdalene.

She struck up a conversation with a few of the women, offering reviews of the books they were purchasing. But all along, she kept bringing her eyes back to me, knowingly.

As we walked out of the shop, lugging this big box with the Archangel statue in my arms, wondering why the heck my soul had told me to purchase this thing, I felt a light touch on my arm.

It was her.

I would really love to invite you all to my house for a glass of champagne.
I am just down the street. Would you come?

YES, my soul said loudly in my body.
I was startled by the immediacy of this response.

I looked at the other women, they looked a bit hot and tired. Would it be annoying to ask them to come to this woman’s house? We really should get going, it’s going to take us 2 hours to get back, my ego said.

But my soul kept saying, GO GO GO, THERE IS SOMETHING IMPORTANT HERE.

Yes.

Wonderful!, she said. My name is Gerda, nice to meet you. Come!

I turned to the women, leaning up against an ancient stone wall and said, Ladies, we are going to go to this woman’s house to have a glass of champagne. We have been invited.

I don’t know what to tell you right now, other than I have never been so sure of anything in my life. I knew that we had to go into this woman’s house. I just knew.

A few minutes later we were inside her home, with mouths agape.

What had seemed like a nondescript, old, junky stone building on the outside had transformed into a goddess haven inside. Filled with crystal singing bowls, paintings of Mary Magdalene, and crystals the size of our heads.

Come, come out to my garden, Gerda whispered to us.

We walked out into her garden, our bodies silently pulled to the very end of it, overlooking a landscape of the French countryside.

And then my ego didn’t know what was happening.
My brain went into a blur.

There, at the end of the garden, was a stone circle Gerda’s husband had built.

We automatically each sat in a circle at the front of a stone, as if getting into some sort of ancient formation. This happened wordlessly, as if our bodies had known how to do this for centuries.

I watched in an awed haze as Gerda brought out a little Bose speaker and champagne. A beautiful song blared through the speakers…

Welcome…
We have known each other through many lives…
Welcome back home…
It is so good to see you again…
Welcome…

The songs lyrics were sending chills up my spine as Gerda sang along and hugged each woman, saying “welcome sister.”

And then she looked straight into my eyes from across the circle and burst into tears.

I have known you in many lives. I am so happy that we are all together again.
I am overcome with emotion. It is so good to see you, she said through tears.

I felt overwhelmed with a feeling of seeing an old friend and I began to cry too.

And we all began to cry tears of joy in this stone circle, with glasses of champagne, singing under an old tree, with a portrait of Mary Magdalene dressed all in white hanging from one of the branches.

Well, you have just gone batshit crazy, my ego wanted to say. You have never seen this woman in your life! What is happening???!!! If anyone saw you they’d think you’ve really lost it!

HUSH, said my soul, loudly and firmly. HUSH. I AM IN CHARGE HERE NOW.

My ego went quiet, though I could feel her trying to make sense of what the eff was happening right now.

We stayed like this for 3 hours. Drinking champagne. Listening to songs. Crying. Hugging. Laughing. Telling wild stories.

One of the women on my retreat brought out one of Gerda’s crystal bowls and we all sang together, making up songs that seemed to spring from our bodies, unrehearsed, but stored in some part of our DNA from long ago.

Gerda’s husband, came out and sat with us, and regaled us with stories of his scholarly studies on Mary Magdalene and the templars. Revealing secrets to us I cannot reveal even here. I watched him and Gerda interacting with each other, still in love after all these years. Touched by his respect for her, and the gentle and strong way in which he admired her inner fire.

It was 9pm by the time we were finished. All the restaurants in town were closed. We were starving.

No worry! I have a friend who lives next door who is a vegan chef. They can keep the restaurant open for you!

By quarter to midnight we were leaving for the 2 hour drive back to our hotel. Full bellies and full hearts.

Gerda took one last look at me and with a hug said to me in her broken English, I am so glad that upstairs department brought us together again. We are now connected again. Please come back and see me soon.

I have gone over this experience over and over in my head. Wondering if it should be shared. Not having the words to tell it quite yet.

But a few months ago something else interesting happened.

For a few years I have known the sword is one of my spiritual tools. I use a metaphorical sword often with clients to cut through the illusions that hold them back from their true power in leadership.

After going to see Wonder Woman and watching her fight with her sword, I knew two things.

I am the sword
and
I am ready for the Universe to bring me my sword now.

That’s what my soul said at least. I put in my request, to, as Gerda would say, upstairs department.

A few weeks later, my friend, a jewelry designer, posted on her Facebook page that she had been called to design a sword as her next piece of jewelry.

There is your sword, said my soul.

Whatever, said my ego.

A few weeks later, she finished it. As soon as she posted the finished product, my soul once again whispered, there is your sword.

You are effing crazy, said my ego, as I clicked purchase and entered my shipping information.

My friend is holding a french fry in her hand and placing another french fry into my hand.

This is your old sword. It represents all the old ways you’ve had to use your sword up until now. Are you done using this old sword?, she asks, as her blue eyes peer into me.

I had just finished complaining to her that I had had to use my “sword” a lot this summer but that it had been unpleasant. Many unpleasant situations that needed swords had come up. Many unpleasant people. Lots of boundaries I had to keep setting. Lots of BS I had to keep cutting through. It felt like a lot. I was tired of it feeling so heavy.

Yes. I say, handing her the french fry in my hand. This is my old sword and I release it. I just want to use my sword in a peaceful way. Not so many people coming to me where I have to be so fierce all the time.

I am tired, I say. I want peace. I want easy people. I just want to be gentle now. I can’t always be Joan of Arc. Sometimes I want softness.

She holds out the other fry.

This is your new sword. Are you ready to take your new sword now?
Not yet, says my soul.
My ego is really annoyed over this.
Because I just want to take the new sword of softness & ease, and rest already.

Not yet, but soon, says my soul.

I’m actually not ready, I say to my friend. She nods and says, I could feel it. But you’ll be ready soon.

I am on a vision quest. Holding a plant I picked out of the forest in my hand. Part of the journey I took the women in my mastermind retreat on, in Montana. As the shaman plays her drums in the background for us, I see very clearly a deer’s face appearing in my inner vision.

You are strong enough now for it to be easy, she says.

Later on, while leading a session with the women on this retreat, I tell them, we are at the Lion’s gate and the month of Leo. It is time to step into our greatest gifts, our greatest power and our greatest leadership. Bigger than ever before. It is time.

Two days after the french fry incident, the sword necklace I ordered from my jewelry designer friend arrives in the mail.

I pull it out of the package and hold it in my hands.

The flaming sword of Manjushri.

Mañjuśrī is depicted as a male bodhisattva wielding a flaming sword in his right hand, representing the realization of transcendent wisdom which cuts down ignorance and duality. The scripture supported by the padma (lotus) held in his left hand is a Prajñāpāramitā sūtra, representing his attainment of ultimate realization from the blossoming of wisdom. Mañjuśrī is often depicted as riding on a blue lion, or sitting on the skin of a lion. This represents the use of wisdom to tame the mind, which is compared to riding or subduing a ferocious lion.

My soul is smiling.
My ego says ohhhhh now I get it.

I am ready now.

I am telling you all these stories, my love, because this is how the soul works.
She is not linear.
She does not make “sense” to the ego.
She merely points the way.
She holds the blueprint to the great work you are here to do.
She is the map.

But she does not speak in the language of the ego.

Your ego will often tell you that your soul is crazy.

You can’t sign up for that! You have no time!
You don’t have the money for that!
Everyone will think you’ve gone crazy!

But if you can begin to master the art of moving past what your ego is saying and trust what your soul is telling you…

Well, that is when miracles begin to happen.

Things arrive when they are ready. When we are ready.

We are at this threshold now.
The place where we step out of the old world and into the new one.
Where we become the lion, the sword, the deer, the light.

Above the threshold, the sign reads:

Terribilis est locus iste.

This is the house of God and the door of Heaven.

Will you let go of your old ego stories and let your soul take the lead?

Are you ready now?

 

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You were built for this.

Ahhhhh!!!

I’m watching the women as they dip their toes into the crystalline, glacier-fed waters of the lake. Their excited shrieks bring a smile to my face as the cold water sends a daring chill through their spines.

We are here early and we have it all to ourselves. It’s day 2 of my retreat for the women in my year-long mastermind, here in Glacier National Park in Montana. There is a misty haze over the mountains that surround us and I can’t tell where the sky ends and the water begins. Everywhere I look, there is a hue of cerulean so beautiful I’m convinced the most skeptical of beings would believe in the divine after one glimpse.

Eeeeeeek!

I hear more screeching as they go deeper into the lake. Their legs and arms break the glass-like illusion on the surface with ripples that go on forever.

Half-joking, half-not, I lean over to one of the women who is still standing next to me in a bathing suit, contemplating whether she wants to go in or not. I ask her, if entering that lake equalled the level of dedication you have to your mission, how would you enter it?

That’s all I needed to hear, she says. And now I am watching her run full-force into the frigid waters and dive head-first.

I am smiling big now, half-proud and half-recognizing myself in this passionate, unbridled action.
I would have done the same damn thing, I say to myself, chuckling.

A few seconds later, I say the same thing to woman #2 standing beside me. She’s not sure if she should even put on her bathing suit. Looks cold and I don’t do well with the cold, I hear her thinking.

She has been battling the demon of fear for the last month. Feeling deeply called to the next level of her calling, but afraid of what others will think.

How do you get over the fear?, she asked me just a few weeks ago on a call.

You don’t, I said lovingly, but firmly. You can be led to the water, but no one can make you swim in or drink of the water. It’s always up to you whether you drink or go in. And once you do, you’ll look back and wonder why you were so afraid in the first place.

Here at the lake, I ask her the same question I asked the first woman:
If entering that lake equalled the level of dedication you have to your mission,
how would you enter it?

She wades into the water, hesitantly and finally is waist deep.

Victory.

I dare you to dunk your whole bodies in the lake!

I am yelling this across the lake as a dare, as their coach, lovingly pushing them to the edge. Wanting them to see that sometimes the uncomfortable things are the most exhilarating.

The human body & soul needs change, needs to experience new edges.
It’s the ego that feels fearful of change.

I want them to get this teaching on a whole other level. A visceral one.
To trust the messages from their soul & their bodies even more deeply, even when the ego says, I can’t do this, it’s too cold, I’m not built for this. Run away.

5 minutes later they are holding hands, wet from head to toe, and emerge shrieking and laughing from their full-bodied dunk under the surface of the water.

That wasn’t so bad, woman #2 says to me later. Once I got in, I realized it was actually nice and I could handle a lot more than I thought I could!

Exactly, I respond, winking.

Later that night, I found out that the original, indigenous name of this lake was “Lake of Sacred Dancing Waters.” The Kootenai tribe performed sacred dancing and singing ceremonies right on the banks where I had stood watching the women with delight.

How perfect, I think to myself, as I close my eyes and drift off into slumber before another day of deep, transformational, leadership work.

I see the ceremonious way the women held hands blessing & washing away their fears with this glacial baptism. I hear the song of their delighted cries as they emerge all anew.

It’s a few days later, the retreat is now over and my friend Sara texts me.

I haven’t seen her in over 18 years. We were roommates in college and good friends. She looks exactly the same as she did 18 years ago. And her pleasant personality, easygoing nature, and big heart have remained intact.

Want to go on an adventure? I can’t tell you what it is yet, but it’s with my friend Denver. He’s a world-famous biologist! You’ll love him. But you’ll have to be ready at 8am.

Ugh, I hear my ego say. I am so exhausted after holding the deepest space for the women who came to my retreat. All weekend I weathered projections & fears, clearing myself out repeatedly. All weekend, I held steady for them as the container, while egos were triggered, and old demons came to the surface to be released. For four days, I have watched them rise more into their leadership, come closer together, laugh, cry, & step it up in a big way. I won’t lie. I can feel my body reaching its threshold of exhaustion.

I was hoping to sleep in until 10, my ego grumbles. What if I’m pushing myself too hard? And it’s going to be 95 degrees today while we are outside. That might be dangerous.

But I know by now to say yes to adventure. Yes to the unknown. Yes to opportunities that may only come around once in a lifetime.

Yes, I text back. I’ll be ready.

The next morning, I am traveling in a beat up truck, being driven by a man who was once on the cover of National Geographic, eating cherries, and spitting the pits out the window, with my friend Sara in the backseat.

I imagine all the cherry trees we are giving birth to as we drive towards the Mission Mountains and marvel at the glaciers in their peaks. These mountains were also used to conduct sacred ceremonies by the Salish and Kootenai tribes, long ago.

One day someone will drive through here, looking for the strength to keep going and there will be cherry trees lining this roadway, welcoming their tired hearts.

It is so hot now, Denver says, I don’t know if we will get to see any wildlife. Let’s hope we do.

If I was an animal, I’d be hiding under a tree by a river by now, I say.

We are driving through the National Bison Range now. I am praying to see a Bison. I’ve never seen one up close, but I have dreamed about them.

I remember a dream my sister told me once. In that dream, she saw a Wooly Mammoth, and she cried as she walked up to him and touched his matted fur. I knew exactly how she felt. This is how I feel about the Bison. There is something ancient there, something that is asking me to remember an important thing that I forgot.

I want to remember.
I want to see a Bison.

I send out my heart’s voice like long tendrils into the yellowed-grass hills.
Come to me, brother Bison. Come to me, please.

Just a few minutes later, we spot one. Just 8 feet away. Hiding behind the grass.
He is a big one. His nose is the size of my head. Half of his fur is missing, a natural process that occurs during the summer to endure the heat.

I jump out of my car.
I want to cry and laugh all at the same time.
My voice grows thick with awe and emotion.

Then, we are seeing so many of them. A mother with two calves. Entire families resting by the river. Two males engaged in a battle of dominance.

And suddenly, I remember what I forgot.

As a totem animal, the bison is a symbol of enduring strength and abundance. I read this on my phone as we drive past the Flathead River for one last goodbye. We are far away from the Bison now.

I close my eyes to feel the hot sauna-like wind on my face. The slight sunburn on my arms.

I see that Bison in my mind’s eye. Walking slowly across the plane. Sun beating down. Breathing heavily. Enduring and pushing ahead with such strength and grace.

Doing what needs to be done because it is his mission. Because it is his sacred calling.
Discomfort is not something he runs from. He moves forward, despite fear, despite discomfort, despite the risk.

He does it because that is how he is built.

That is how we are built.
We were built to endure discomfort for the greater calling of the soul.
We were build to handle so much more than our ego thinks it can handle.
We were built to handle it with grace.

And that is when the path to abundance opens up.

A few days prior I took most of the women in my mastermind to see Wonder Woman. As we are walking out of the movie theatre with wonder and power in our eyes, I tell them the story of Gal Gadot. She was just about to quit acting for good, when she got the part of Wonder Woman.
Most people give up or stop taking risks right before the world opens up to them.

We must be willing to endure some discomfort to get what we want.
If the Bison only ever chooses to stay comfortable, it dies.

I am canoeing across Flathead Lake now. There is a kind man who likes my curly, messy hair, rowing me in his kayak as we talk about spirituality and our favorite books. His open blue eyes draw me in as he tells me the story of his life, the pain he has endured, and all he has overcome.

And now I am surrounded by people with wide, alive eyes, drinking margaritas, and dancing. Little universes with stories of pain and triumph, spinning around, seeking connection.

I am twirling and twirling in my long dress in the middle of the floor.
I am remembering.

We were built for this.
Do not be afraid.
Go.

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You are not difficult.

I.
DIFFICULT CHILD

Kathunk.

The soda can rolled down the chute inside the buzzing machine and landed in the little compartment. I stuck my hand in quickly and felt the freezing cold metal in my hand.

Orange soda.

The holy grail of my childhood was always soda.
I was not normally allowed to have junk food or sweets. My mother, not wanting us to consume all that sugar, always made sure a can of soda was split between me and my siblings…

I felt the satisfaction shiver down my spine as I clicked the tab of the soda can open, and heard the familiar, delicious fizz of the pressure releasing. I looked down into the crystalline, orange liquid.

A can all to myself. A whole can. All to myself!

This felt powerful. Finally, something that could be all mine. That I didn’t have to share.

And then I heard the words: No, that is not just for you. You have to share!

I don’t know what happened in that moment. Normally, I complied.
But today, I felt tired. I felt a feeling of despair and anger rise up in my chest.
I felt so exhausted from having to share everything all the time, and not have anything to myself.
I didn’t want to be the good, easy child. Not today.
Today I wanted for once to have what I wanted. All. To. Myself.

My sister innocently reached out for a gulp of the fresh, clear, artificial orange liquid.

No! I said, moving my hand away from her, wanting to keep just this one thing to myself.

Lisa! I told you, you cannot have that can for yourself! You have to share with your sister!
My mother’s sharp words rung out into the air, warning.

And something in me broke. I completely lost it.

My mother had to drag me, spanking me, screaming and crying, across the sidewalks into her car. I pitched a fit the likes of which she had never seen.

And all along I clung to that orange soda can, willing to receive whatever beating, punishment, or trouble that may come from asserting my own desires, and having them be heard just once.

I was spanked. Hard. All along I raged, fighting until my last breath if I had to, refusing to submit.

Why do you always have to be so difficult?, my mother said.

You were never like the other babies, she says.
You were posterior. You wanted to be born facing the sky, instead of downwards like all babies need to do to come out of the birth canal smoothly. I was in labor with you for 17 hours.

From the moment you were born, I went to check on you in the nursery.
All the babies were sleeping peacefully. You were wide awake, looking everywhere!

You never slept!

The nurse said your brother had the worst colic she had ever seen, and I told her she should have seen you when you were a baby. Yours was 100 times worse.

You would not stop crying. It was horrible.
At that moment I understood why some people shake babies to death.
You were a very difficult baby.

This is what I was told when I would ask the adults in my life to tell me stories about myself as a child.

Difficult. Challenging. Strong-willed.

I have heard this my entire life. It became a secret shame I carried inside of me.
When someone didn’t want to be my friend. When someone didn’t love me back.
It always came back to this for me: you are hard to love because you are difficult.

As I grew older and became more aware of my own desires, every time I would voice them, resist, or say I wanted something different, I always heard it, again — Oh Lisa, why do you always have to be so difficult?

You have no sense of humor. Stop being so sensitive. Why do you always have to want to do things differently? Why are you so emotional? Why can’t you do exactly what I say? Why can’t you lose 40 pounds? Why can’t you stop speaking up about what feels wrong to you?

Difficult.

When I look back on it now, my mother had me at 21. By 27, she was working full time, trying to manage three children. And she had a very powerful, wiser-than-her-years, seer for a daughter — one with a definite sense of what she wanted, and what worked for her.

With three children, and her being so young, I can imagine she was overwhelmed. I don’t think she had any idea what to do with this powerful little girl who knew what she wanted, and could see right through her, down to her soul.

And when we are overwhelmed, or baffled by a child, we sometimes seek the quickest solution to make a problem go away: shaming them. It was easier for her to use a little bit of guilt and shame by branding me “difficult.” In that way, I’d try to go out of my way to prove I wasn’t difficult. That meant I would behave and do as she said, always.

It worked like a charm.

But not always.

A person’s true nature is not something that can long be repressed.

II.
DIFFICULT CEO

It was the end of my fourth year in business and I was so tired.
I was frustrated with my team.
I was still driving everything, always having to stick my hands in the administrative piece of the business, when I needed to be focused on my zone of genius.
No one could do anything without me telling them exactly what to do.

I went through team member after team member, not understanding why I couldn’t get the support I needed. I was so burned out, and it was clear my team was not supporting me like I needed to be supported.

But I kept picking people who couldn’t support me, who were not up to the task, who balked at the slightest bit of pressure.

It took me a year with my therapist to realize, it was because deep down, I had this belief that I was difficult. Therefore, I did not deserve to have the support I needed.

Who could support such a difficult person? Might as well pick anyone. Difficult women don’t deserve proper support because well, they are difficult.

This is the same belief in different flavors I work on now with my clients — successful women who have created the most amazing things in their worlds, wondering why they aren’t feeling as fulfilled or happy as they should feel.

Even though I had team members tell me I was the best person they had ever worked for, and the kindest “boss,” I still kept carrying people on my team that should have been fired long ago.

Because I still believed that I was difficult. I paid my penance for being difficult by choosing people who couldn’t support me and couldn’t leave me free to do what I really loved. I picked people over and over who left me feeling half supported, and who really didn’t have my back.

I drove myself to the point of exhaustion by perpetuating this belief.
Only then could I prove that I wasn’t difficult.
That I was good.

III.
DIFFICULT MENTEE

I worked 5 years with a mentor who created a huge change in me. I loved her to death.
She was so important to me. I still think she was instrumental to my growth as a human.

And then, little by little, I noticed it creeping in. The implication that I was the “difficult” type.

In how I was classified… In little laughs and knowing looks along the way… I don’t even think she realized that she was doing this. It was in her blind spot. But I saw it.

In our last interaction, I was told I needed to look at this “thing I have” around respect.

As if there was something… difficult… about that aspect of me.

Years later another mentor, when I recounted this story to her, told me, what is wrong with respect being such an important value to you in your relationships? Why is wanting people to be as respectful to you as you are to them, “something you need to work on or look at”? You don’t need to work on that. It’s okay to desire respect in your relationships. That is not you being difficult, she told me.

IV.
DIFFICULT WOMAN

I was fired from my bartending job when I was in my mid-twenties.

The reasons?

I stood up to a woman who was bullying everyone and taking more tips out of the jar than anyone else…
I refused to pretend I would possibly one day exchange a blow job or sex with one of the managers in exchange for preferential treatment…
I didn’t hike my shirts down low to please the male customers…

I reported unfair treatment of female bartenders to the manager I got along with the most.

I thought he would want to know.

He seemed disappointed.
He told me so.
He thought I was, different than the kind of woman who complains about such things.

He thought I was the sweet, good girl who would do as she was told and act pleasant, slightly flirtatious, and submissive.

Instead, I was being difficult.

V.
DIFFICULT BODY

I got liposuction.
I went on a million crash diets and fainted a million and one.
I starved.
I left puddles of sweat in the gym.
I lost 45 pounds over and over again.
I took pills that made my heart race and made me productive.
I got a prescription for Adderall, for my real-life ADD, with the secret motive of it helping to tame my difficult appetite which refused to be ok with eating only a handful of nuts for lunch.

I gained the weight back.
My appetite and my body refused to comply.

My mother, shaking her head over and over again… every time I came back home with the weight back on me.

My grandmother telling me, you have such a beautiful face! If you just lost 10 pounds you would really be a beauty. Why don’t you straighten your hair? It looks so much prettier than that difficult unruly mess it looks like when it’s curly.

The way I laughed was too loud. Like a fat girl, a so-called male friend said to me over the phone.

VI.
DIFFICULT POWER

Nice, classy women don’t cuss.

Don’t be a femi-nazi by calling out the sexism in the internet marketing party you just went to.

Laugh and pretend to be flattered, as that man from the networking event’s first words out of his mouth, when he meets you, turn you into an object of fetish: “You’re a Latina? That’s sexy!”

Don’t be difficult and demand that he look you in the eye and treat you like a living, breathing human.

Difficult body.
Difficult spirit.
Difficult woman.
Because I have fully formed desires.
Because my body refuses to comply with a standard set by someone who was not in their right mind.
Because I take up space.
Because I speak up and have a voice.

Because I am powerful.
Because I am powerful.
Because.
I.
Am.
So.
Powerful.

And that scares them. It’s scares them because they don’t know their own power.

VII.
DIFFICULT INITIATOR

Lisa, when I met you, I was triggered as fuck, my best male friend in the whole world, Sam, tells me one day.

Because I knew that in order to be close to you, in order to be your friend, I was going to have to step it up as a man. I knew I was going to have to be the best version of myself to really get inside your heart. You weren’t demanding this verbally or expecting it. But I knew it. You didn’t operate at the level than most of the women I knew at that time. Your presence required me to be my best self and drop the BS.

Thank you. You have made me a better man. And I am so grateful to be your friend.
I am so glad that I decided right then and there that I was going to step it up, to meet you where you are.

I am paraphrasing this a bit for the sake of brevity, but those words washed over me as I felt a little whimper leave my heart, and get stuck in my throat.

I felt seen. I felt really, really seen.
I felt so loved.

Something in me began to heal on a primal level.

I thought about those words recently.

I met a man who wouldn’t let me in. Not fully. I felt an invisible hand pushing me away every time I tried to connect and be friendly. Sometimes I felt a slight feeling of resentment coming off of him when I spoke about things that mattered to me, and initiated deep conversations. He kept it as surface-level-friendly as possible.

I couldn’t figure it out. Why was he acting this way towards me?

It’s because you are existing at a whole other level than the women he is used to. He can feel he’s going to have to step it up just by being around your energy, and he does not want to step it up. So, your natural energy that would be received well by an open-hearted man, one who wants to meet a woman in that place, to him it feels like a challenge. And he resents it.

This is what Sam would say to me. He’s said it before about other men who acted strange around me.

After a week of trying, I gave up.

Because I don’t have to prove to him that I am not difficult. I don’t have to punish myself by trying to create intimacy by making myself less powerful, so that the natural flow of my energy is not intimidating to this man. I don’t have to make myself likable to his standards so that he is more comfortable with me.

VIII.
POWERFUL

Because I am not difficult.
I never was.

And you are not difficult, either.

To have desires and standards is not difficult.
It is knowing yourself.
It is honoring and respecting your life force, deeply.

To have a voice that refuses to stay silent when things are not fair or hurt others is not difficult.
It is refusing to be a coward in exchange for a false sense of acceptance into the mind-numbing “norm.” It is courageous and honorable.

To have and love a body that takes up more space than what society has deemed “acceptable” is not difficult.
It is an inspiration and a mirror for the truth that beauty is diverse.
It gives men and women everywhere permission to love what they love, without judgment.

You don’t have to keep paying penance because some overwhelmed adult long ago, who did not know how to handle your powerful energy, and your strong will, didn’t know what to do with you.

You don’t have to keep shrinking and dimming your mind-blowing glow, because someone is uncomfortable with how you ask them to love themselves through the mere presence of your being.

You don’t have to keep trying to act like a “likable person” because someone shamed you, and made you believe you aren’t, in order to get you to conform.

You don’t have to defend your desire to have a whole can of orange soda to yourself.

I feel the power that was beaten out of me that day coming back to me, from every corner of the earth.

Repeat after me now.

I am not difficult.

I am powerful.

 

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What’s your medicine?

I have a a few deal-breakers in my life.

If I were to write a “handbook to Lisa,” there would probably be a chapter entitled “How to Keep Lisa in a Great Mood.” And one of the few things listed in that chapter would be this:

Do not place in situations of extreme heat.

Maybe it was the fact that I grew up in Panama and I can still remember the days of playing soccer in 100 degree, high-humidity, heat. I used to feel the sun’s rays burning through my hair and searing my scalp and thinking, this must be what a day in hell feels like.

Also, being that Panama was a small, third-world country at that time, there was no such thing as central air conditioning in houses or apartments. Electricity was unreliable and too expensive, so I often spent a great deal of time sweating and feeling hot, even while I was sleeping. Not exactly comfortable.

Maybe that is why I just don’t want to tolerate the heat anymore. I get cranky.

Whatever the reason for my heat aversion, this is what was making me struggle heroically as Day 2 of my Soul Adventures France retreat rolled around. A retreat I was leading, by the way.

You see, France was having an uncharacteristic heat wave. Every local I spoke to told me it was horrible and that this never happened there.

And because this never happens there, and this time of the year is always cool and comfortable, most houses or hotels don’t have air conditioning.

Therefore, I was pissy and struggling.

But as I sat there at breakfast, unable to drink hot coffee for fear I might spontaneously combust and praying for ice, a little voice came into my head…

This is medicine.

Aha!

You see, this whole time, a small part of me had been majorly pissed off.

This isn’t how this was supposed to go.
It’s supposed to be the perfect temperature for me so that I can show up and lead from my most inspired, pleasured-up self!

Except that way of thinking was making me even more frustrated.
There was no way to control the uncontrollable.

And what if this was my medicine, I asked myself.

If this was my medicine, I’d realize I need to surrender to this. I would realize that I need to trust that this heat wave is EXACTLY what we all needed to have the breakthroughs we have been having and that we will still have. I would remember that the Universe is always conspiring in my favor and this is not something happening “against” me, but “for” me.

As I sat with the heat as my medicine, I realized that the invitation it was giving me was:

  • Trust…
  • Surrender and go with the flow…
  • You can lead effectively and properly hold space in any situation, hot or not…
  • Your internal state does not need to be affected by this heat if you don’t want it to (also known as “equanimity” — a big pillar of my work. Ha.)
  • You can wear cooler clothes instead of being attached to what you wanted to wear during this trip (okay I know that one is more superficial, but it’s real)

You know what’s funny?

That was the whole theme of the trip.

Diving into the feminine flow. Having an experience where you get to truly embody the energy of the feminine and FEEL what it actually feels like to do that in your life… which sometimes we rarely get to do in our overly masculine world of achievements and set structures of how “things are supposed to be.”

And feminine energy, when embodied, is all about deep trust that you’re being held by the love in the Universe and taken where you need to be taken. It goes with the flow. It surrenders. It knows all is working out in her favor, even when it doesn’t appear that way to the ego.

Ha.

Medicine.

I shared this with the women at my retreat during breakfast. How I had been struggling and how it was wonderful medicine for me because I wouldn’t learn the lesson with other discomforts.

I could only learn the lesson through the thing that REALLY gets to me: heat.

Anything else wouldn’t have gotten my attention.

And the women began to share what their medicine during the trip was. It was magical.

My medicine is that I am expecting you to be my guru and I keep getting triggered that you refuse to be. Yet, I realized that I am having trouble setting boundaries with my own clients because they keep forming co-dependent-guru type of relationships with me and that is no longer working! So that ego shit-fit I’m having over you NOT letting me make you the guru is my medicine.

My medicine is that I was really upset that I had to take care of this one situation at the beginning of the retreat. But actually, NO ONE ACTUALLY ASKED ME TO TAKE CARE OF IT!! I just took on the responsibility of it automatically. And I’m realizing it’s because I constantly take over-responsibility for everything and this doesn’t work for me. I’m doing it to my own self!

There were more stories, but one by one we all shared our medicine and laughed at the lessons it presented for each one of us.

And when we surrendered to the medicine and thanked it, the frustrations we were all experiencing, dissipated.

A few hours later, we came across an ocean of lavender fields. With a gorgeous song blasting on the car radio, we ran out into the intoxicating scent and the buzzing of happy, lavender-drunk bees like wild women unleashed. We cried, releasing the things that do not serve. We circled and held ceremony.

And when it was all over, one of the women turned to me and said: I would never have been able to open up my heart in the lavender fields and release this big thing I have been carrying around inside of me for years, had we not accepted our medicines, each one of us. This needed to get out of the way for me to have this breakthrough.

Amen.

So what is your medicine right now?

Pick something that is really frustrating you currently.
Ask yourself: what is the medicine in it?

Think about it this way: medicine sometimes brings up some icky symptoms before it takes them all away. Medicine sometimes doesn’t taste good going down, but it heals us.

So what in your life is like medicine for you right now?

I’d love to hear it in the comments below.

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I never wanted to be your guru

I never wanted to be anyone’s guru. That always seemed like signing up for disaster.

I never wanted to be an ascended master so pure she no longer needed a body.
I love walking through old towns where thousands of bodies have lived and died.
I cherish the cool touch of an ancient stone in my hand, reminding me that the history of being in a body is earthy, well-rounded, and true.

I never wanted to be an angel. I have a different type of wing.
I walk among flesh and bone and luxuriate in the warmth of veins, flesh and feet.

I never wanted to be proper. I cuss with delight, feeling the round rebellious vowels on my tongue with the type of gratitude fit for a saint.

I want to ride motorcycles while proselytizing the church of one’s Soul.
I want to dance in the shadow while I speak the language of light.
I want to honor the light of the moon as equally as that of the sun.

I want to eat sugar. Sometimes meat.
I want to cap off a week of hard, soulwork with a glass of whiskey, and sometimes
a plate of fries.

I won’t always coat your deliverance in light and feathers, sometimes I’ll cut through you with the force of love that can only come from a sword engulfed in flames.

I want to be the teacher who teaches from what she struggles with,
who is fumbling through her humanity and pulling back the curtain for all to see,
obliterating shame.

I never want to achieve unfeeling “enlightenment.”
Because when you chase enlightenment as another notch in the belt of your ego’s achievements, you’ve lost the point entirely.

I don’t want to always be emotionless, peaceful, and zen.
I want the holiness of feelings. All of them.
I want the anger, the jealousy, and the sadness.
I want them to carve me out like wind and water and ice, and leave behind a stunning network of sacred caves and melancholy arches inside of me like art.

I want to be an empty space of possibility for you.
I want to teach you how to make your body fertile ground for your dreams.
I want to meet you with such a fierceness of unconditional love that you whisper
your soul back into your body.

I want the way my unapologetic existence pisses you off to be the permission to worship your own wisdom.

I don’t want to be the one full of answers and information for your ego to get its fix.
I want to be a vacuous mirror, everywhere I go, of what is possible when we are free, when we love every cell of our being, when we forgive ourselves for fucking it up from time to time,
because we will.

I have a secret to tell you about enlightenment.
Come closer now so I can sussurate in your ear.

Enlightenment is not something we work our way up to.
It doesn’t live outside of us.

It is not a theory, a religion, or a creed.
It has no set steps.
It is not a goal to be achieved.

Enlightenment is simply the act of existing from your natural flow without apology.
Without holding any part of it back. Without creating a false self that is a reaction to the world around you.

Enlightenment is simply accepting all of yourself in a world that teaches you to constantly fix what needs no fixing.

Enlightenment is being you. Allowing me to be me.

I am not here to teach you anything, because you know.
You know.
You know.

And if I am ever to be a guru of anything,
let me be a guru of that.

 

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