Saturday, February 1, 2014

Trust Exercises

Ace Hotel art gallery, New York City at the James Victore show

My Mama Di and I don't make new year resolutions—we set intentions. We also like to home in on a guiding word for the year, and her word for 2014 is "trust." I like that word so much that I'm adopting it as well.

My first reaction to "trust" is that it implies letting go of control. Without the illusion of control, fear takes over and contorts, riddles, and ransacks my relationships, my work, and my life. But even when I feel I am in control, the fear is there, simmering. There are moments when I am in complete trust—when time seems fluid or nonexistent and relationships are effortless. I don't usually appreciate them in while they're happening, but most definitely mourn them once they've passed.

I've spent much of my life as a worrier – I want to be a warrior. My vision of the warrior is self-possessed, strong, present, not necessarily combative except when the weapons are truth and love. There is an absence of fear, and in its place is trust.

There is a lot of power in simply stating an intention. When I take a few moments of silence in the morning and focus on trust, the intention becomes a gentle reminder throughout my day. When we let go of the features and benefits we think are going to come to us by stating an intention (overtones of my judgement of The Secret here), this exercise pulls us into the present and amplifies our days.

And when I'm at a loss for words, overwhelmed, or fearful,  I say to myself, "Warrior, not worrier."  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's Okay to Need Validation

Seaside cave at Sutro Baths

About a week go, I decided to take a vacation to my Den of Thieves—that special cave in my chest where all my insecurities dwell and greet me with, "Hey! Been a while! You still pathetic and useless? You bet you are!" And then they laugh while they pour a vat of french fry grease on my favorite leather recliner.

When I got sober, and my life shifted into focus, I realized I was hinging my self worth entirely on what others thought of me. This, coupled with taking up permanent residence in the Den of Thieves, made it impossible to cultivate self love. Without it, I was at the mercy of the voices in my head pushing me to better, faster, smarter, and approaching every endeavor with the unquenchable desire to have that person think I am, quite possibly, the most charming, effervescent, smartest, quickest, cutest person they have ever come across. Even if they've met Carla Bruni in person, I was going to be their new Carla.

How could I possibly be the best when I didn't believe it myself? And do I really want to be the best? By letting go of these high expectations for my relationships, and silencing the voices saying I wasn't good enough, I was able to show up authentically, and get some work done.


I started to pride myself on not needing external validation, to the point that any I received I flatly ignored. So when I met up with my french-fry-grease-wielding friends, I had no reserves. Nothing to tell them they were wrong. And I spent a week hanging out with them, digging out old resentments, running them over my hands and marveling at the many facets that illuminated what a sorry piece of shit I was. Worst vacation ever.

I finally spoke to someone about it, and she relayed her own experience, which mirrored mine. She reminded me that we can't exist in a vacuum. That the giving and receiving of love, compassion, even praise, shapes our humanity. It makes us human.

And I'm up for being human. Slowly, surely, blinking in the new light as I exit my cave, recognizing and embracing the faces and warmth around me.