How safe do you feel in your body Part 2

In this post, Amber Wheatley (co-host of Conversations on Being Human), shared a snippet of her experience living in a black body. She shares more in this episode; how she feels a constant anxiety because of the color of her skin and the uncertainty of how others will treat her because of it.

That’s not an experience I can relate to, and yet her question, ‘Will I ever feel safe in this body?’ struck a chord with me.

Do I like my body? Do I love my body? Am I caring for my body? Can I accept my body as it is?

These are more familiar questions and the answers have had varying degrees of Yeses and Noes over the years.

But safety? That’s a new one that has somehow slipped under the radar. As I give it time to sink in, I realize that for as much as my skin color, ability, and shape of my body offers me safety of the idolized status quo, there’s another part of my body that I am still making peace with.

While I’ve made strides in finding safety in my sensual and sexual body, there are still remnants of an old story that make me question, ‘is this really a good idea?’

The preaching from the pulpit that your sex was reserved for the marriage bed.

The idolization of the ‘first kiss at the altar’ purity culture.

The over-protective rules that banned bikinis at the beach.

The public grabbing of my body by a stranger for the entertainment of the audience.

The invitation from a colleague for a late-night swim.

I know this list could be a lot worse, and perhaps for you, it is. My heart breaks with you. I am so sorry.

I don’t think anyone is immune to the disease of body shaming, violation, extraction, exploitation, colonization.

If you’re wondering what that sounds like in real life:

Your body needs to look a certain way.”, (and you always need to lose another 5lbs.)

You are only here for the purpose or pleasure of others.”; from self-imposed workaholic to legit slavery.

Others have the final say.”; from an uninvited hoot and holler to irrefutable rape.

While the range of these experiences can vary wildly, they are all wrong. Even if you feel you somehow escaped them directly, their very existence creates a threat that takes away from a sense of peace and safety.

I’ve been facilitating Embody movement classes for over 3 years now, a practice that gives permission for and invites your sensuality. It stands for the health and wholeness of a womxn’s softness, curves, pleasure, and sensual connection with life.

Truth is, every time I prepare for a class, there’s a part of me going ‘Oh shit. What if they find out? What will happen to me if they do?’

I’m not even sure who ‘they’ is anymore. This is how trauma works.

As much as I love the idea of full liberation in my body, another part of me is still scared of the liberation of my body.

Maybe it’s the same for you.

You might notice the words on my website: “Make peace with your body, create peace for our world.” Something I’ve been sitting with since Amber and I started the Conversations on Being Human podcast, wondering if accepting one’s own body is a key to dissolving racism and other social constructs that separate us from each other. Wondering if the first step is to cultivate connection with your own body.

Peace brings that one layer further; peace implies safety, not just a relationship.

I think what I’d like you to know here is that those words are an ongoing invitation. Not something I can say I’ve achieved. More like a north star that we can travel towards together.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

Join the 40 Days for Peace Challenge

Welcome to the #40days4peace challenge!

This is for you if you’re feeling

  • lost in lockdown
  • still nursing the 2020 hangover
  • this winter’s hibernation tastes more like ‘hopeless’ than hot chocolate
  • don’t know who to be or where you belong anymore

Why aim for Peace?

It’s a hunch we’re sniffing around cuz we know…

the above could be a sign your nervous system’s shutting down into ‘hypo’ mode, which means a part of you doesn’t feel safe, and if you don’t feel safe, it’s also likely you’re feeling the furthest thing from peace.

Or ease. Or fulfilling connection. Or intimate belonging. Or… fill in your desired blank.

So why not attempt to thaw from this wintry season (whether it’s actually cold or there’s a trauma-induced freeze going on) with our eyes on the lookout for ways to create, make, or find some more of what you really want and what you’re uniquely made for.

Game Rules:

  • Play from from Feb 17 – Apr 3 (40 + days over the period known as Lent in the Christian tradition)
  • Follow the daily prompt on FB or Insta to connect to your heart, body, and soul
  • Feb 17-19 tee’s this up with getting to know your story
  • Then each Monday – Friday you’re guided to make peace with your heart, mind, body, planet, and community in simple, doable, ways
  • Weekends you get to chill out and relax
  • Participate as little or as much as you want to and can… no stress, just peace

We’ve got prizes. For each time you:

  1. Repost the prompts and share your responses on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #40days4peace
  2. Tag us on Facebook or Instagram (@cobhpodcast) in your posts so we can celebrate your journey
  3. Tag 2 friends to join along with you
  4. Show some love to your fellow peace seekers by following the hashtag and encouraging others

You’ll be entered into a draw to win 1 of 5 prizes:

  • A free coaching session with Kendra
  • A free yoga session with Amber for yourself or a small group
  • A signed copy of Amber’s poetry book ‘Water Your Own Garden’
  • A signed copy of Kendra’s ‘True You Journey’ workbook
  • 1 month subscription to the Conversations on Being Human Patreon ‘Gatherer’ level

Let us know if you’re playing and invite some friends along!

How safe do you feel in your body?

Coming to you today with something a little bit different.

Some words from Amber Wheatley, the soul-sister I co-host the podcast ‘Conversations on Being Human’ with.

Before I share her story, I want to fill you in on the impact it had on me.

I had to pause and ask the question, “Huh, how safe do I actually feel in my body?”

Today I’m not coming to you with an answer to that question, just an invitation to read her words and notice what arrives for you.

How is your heart, body, soul, or mind touched by Amber’s baring of hers?

One more thing…

Amber and I are collaborating on a 40 day challenge over the Lent period (starting this Wednesday Feb 17-Apr 3) that we’re hoping invites you to make peace with your body, your life, your self.

If you enjoyed December’s Advent challenge of 24 Reasons to Celebrate 2020, I think you’ll like this too (think simpler, maybe some yoga, with weekends off…)

The official home of this challenge is on on the podcast’s Instagram and Facebook page. I will likely share it here too, however,if you know you want to play along, then connect with us at Instagram.com/cobhpodcast and facebook.com/cobhpodcast

Over to Amber

I frequently find myself saying ‘I am tired’. Only recently did I sit with myself and ask what it is I am tired of.

There are a lot of reasons for me to be tired. I’m working [in a hospital] in a pandemic, I’m stressed about starting a new job. I have an exam coming up in 2 months. My eating has gone to the dogs and I’m probably not fuelling myself adequately to keep up with the anxiety. Small things drain me.

As I’m slowing down, I’m starting to notice that it’s not the small things that drain me. What’s draining me boils down to this: I am tired of Injustice and injustice is insidious.

One day while driving to work, the glare of the sun hit the condensation on my windscreen and I couldn’t see the road ahead. Cars were coming up behind but if I kept going I ran the risk of rear ending the person in front of me. So I slowed down to give myself safety while I figured out what to do.

Then suddenly a lorry was blaring its horn behind me. I froze. I still couldn’t see. They were getting closer. Thankfully the road was quiet and they switched over to the fast lane instead of barrelling towards me. I breathed a sigh of relief as my heating cleared the condensation. I was back on track; we all have those mornings.

As I kept on my drive, I passed the lorry. An angry arm shot out a rolled down window, middle finger extended.

Inside something snapped. Do white men ever have to second guess their emotions? Will I ever feel safe in this body?
 

The anxiety dial ramped up to a million in my head. In the chaos, the search for peace began. Peace in the world. Peace in myself.

What I needed was a break from the constant reminders of ‘not safe/not welcome /not needed’. I feel like I’m surrounded by them. I’ve been conditioned to look for them to defend my safety. But I rarely feel safe, so what am I defending so fiercely?

Every day getting into my car brought the memories back. Not of almost crashing or of losing vision, but that arm going out of its way to say ‘your needs are not valid in this space’. It even pops into my dream space.

I rubbed an essential oil blend into my mask, shoved a grounding crystal in my bra and went to work. Then peace came. It came in the acknowledgement that for every sign of ‘not safe’ there was a sign of sanctuary and community.
 

The peace came when I knew that I wasn’t alone. The peace came when I gave myself the space and attention I felt the world wouldn’t give me.

I spent the weekend doing nothing but resting. Resting. While the peace continued to come, I showed up for myself in a world that I felt was telling me: this isn’t allowed.


When Kendra mentioned the idea for a “40 days for peace” challenge during Lent, deep inside me there was a holy hell yes. It was that yearning for peace to finally come in.
 
This challenge is far from a white-washed wellness attempt at a quick feel good. This is going to help lay a foundation that can create lasting change if you let it. 
 
Join us on Instagram @cobhpodcast and Facebook: @cobhpodcast

How do you know if your ‘gut instinct’ is your intuition or fear?

I have a confession to make. It’s hard for me to trust.

Mostly myself. The runner-up is usually God.

As a recovering control-freak, I like everything ‘just-so’, which means leaving room for the unexpected, even if it’s a better outcome than what I had planned, is hard.

I’m really good at mapping it all out, and while sometimes that’s useful, often it’s useless. The doubt still sneaks in; is the thing I figured out, the choice I made, really good enough?

So then I bank on you; anyone else but me to have the answer. Eyes darting to and fro, looking for safety whenever I can’t find center anymore.

A few years back I asked a mentor, “How do you know the difference between your intuition and fear?” I asked because I wanted a simple way to discern what was real wisdom inside me, and what was just a shit-storm of emotions. I wanted rules, or at least guidelines to help me make my choices.

Except that desire to follow someone else’s way of doing things, was just another symptom of what made it so hard to trust in the first place.

This year I spent many days and weeks with a weight on my heart, a gnawing in my stomach, an overall feeling of ‘blah’. Something didn’t feel right. I wanted to go.

“Go where?”, you ask. I can’t tell you. Just anywhere but here; in this house, on this street, in this country, with this weather, in this marriage, with myself.

The desire to go floods my body, leaving me in a pool of tears.

The pain in my heart, something I gladly want to run away from. Move back in with my parents. Immerse myself in village life in Africa. Get a job with a compelling organization in New Mexico.

The options, while enticing, never quite bring a sense of peace, leaving me once again in this dance of, ‘should I stay or should I go now?’. The all-consuming heartache feels oh so very real. Yet the simple, almost silent ‘stay’, has an equally magnetic force.

I choose to stay, and in the status of ‘stay’, begin to see.

The inexplicable grief, unwarranted despair, and the whirr of the sleepless nights… while I am for sure living that experience, it also is not fully me.

Dr. Gabor Mate defines trauma as ‘disconnection from self’, and while I was very viscerally connected to the pain in my body, I also was not connected to the heart of me.

When I asked that question a few years ago, I wanted an answer that said something like, “When you feel bad in your body, it means the situation you’re in is bad for you. When your body feels good, you can trust you’re in the right place.”

Another binary way of interpreting life as either-or, ‘good’ or ‘bad’, that misses the possibility of a 3rd option, the both-and.

Instead of, “I am in pain, this is bad”, (and let me try to make this stop), “I am in pain, AND I can choose to stay with the pain so I don’t ignore it, numb it, or try to fix external circumstances to make it go away.”

Here’s another one. The instinct to stop the pain is a protective mechanism that’s useful, AND sometimes what we’re feeling are stale left-overs from an old story that’s past it’s sell-by date. Sometimes the pain resurfaces when it’s time to say good-bye and create a new story.

Not only is trauma the state we’re in when we’re disconnected from the core of who we are, in the space of that disconnection, we can loop through a variety of fear responses, because we think controlling everything, running away, or pretending it’s all ok with either get us back home to ourselves, and/or keep us safe.

And in those moments, because your response worked so well last time, the fear can feel very familiar and trustworthy.  It’s also likely that it’s not really the advice that deep down you want to listen to.

In my case, the idea of running away is enticing. I can go ‘find myself’ in a warmer, sunnier climate, in a community where everyone speaks my spiritual language of house music, and my partner never leaves a trail of salt and pepper on the counter when he seasons the meat.

While that sounds delicious, running away also comes with a price. It perpetuates the addiction to self-righteousness. It allows for the story of ‘my way is the high-way’ to keep looping in my life. It gives me permission to keep shaming that which I decide is flawed.

Fear, even when it’s coated in really pretty icing, doesn’t always taste good. Because it’s missing a key ingredient: Love.

And Love, at our core, is who we truly are.

So when Gabor Mate says ‘trauma is when we are disconnected from who we are’, he might as well be saying, trauma is when we are disconnected from Love.

And when I was asking the question, ‘how do you know the difference between your intuition and fear?’, really what I was asking is, how do you know the difference between fear and love?

I will borrow from the I Corinthians description of Love to help answer that question as I see it. Perhaps this invites you to come up with your own way of discerning the two.

Love is patient: Rushing? Frenzied? Fear, not Love

Love is kind: Putting yourself or others down? Not Love.

It does not envy: Feeling behind? Wishing you were further along? Not Love.

It does not boast, not arrogant, or rude: Thinking you’re better than everyone else? Not Love.  

Does not insist on its own way: Control-freak? Not Love.

Not irritable or resentful: Those thoughts that make you pissed off at everyone? Not Love.

Does not rejoice in wrong-doing: The scheme to come out on top at the expense of others? Not Love.

I read this list, and think, ‘oops, I did it again’.

Of course I did, because at some point, those ‘not love’ responses were the things that helped me succeed. And so I trusted them.

Thankfully there is more: Love bears all things (even the grief, the heartbreak, the knot in your stomach), believes all things (even when it’s hard to trust), hopes all things (even in a year like 2020), endures all things (even as you resolve your trauma, step out of the patterns that you’ve come to rely on, and find your way back home to yourself.)

As we go into the second week of the  ‘24 reasons to Celebrate 2020 Advent-ure’, (join in on Instagram, Facebook, or email) it may feel like, “But wait, I don’t want to be boasting about myself.” Here’s the thing: this isn’t just about celebrating you.

Because, for all the times you chose….

Care: when you could’ve shut down and neglected yourself.

Courage: when you could’ve stayed quiet and in hiding.

Joy: when you could’ve harped on all the ways the situation wasn’t good enough.

To let the spirit move you and Create: when you could’ve numbed out with Netflix.

To Trust: when you could’ve fought your way out, ran away, or stayed frozen waiting for certainty.

Rest: when you could’ve burned yourself out trying to prove your worth

To Receive: when you could’ve shut down and cut yourself off from the gift that was right there waiting for you.

…you were choosing Love.

So as you find 24 reasons to Celebrate 2020, really, you are celebrating Love.

As you notice the moments where Love wins, you are also celebrating the Source from which all Love flows (whatever name you have for that is great), the ways in which it shows up and reveals itself, and the moments when you reconnected to who you most truly are… an expression of Love itself.

Remembering who you are and where you came from… this is how you learn to trust.

Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash

Can you find 24 reasons to celebrate 2020?

We made it! Well almost. One more month left in 2020. If you’re still breathing, you did well.

Usually December comes and I am ready to crawl into my wintry hibernation mode. I was tempted to do that this year too, except I realized with that hibernation also comes isolation. I’ve had enough of that lately.

What I need instead is a reason to celebrate.

This time of year it’s easy for the anxieties in the form of guilt and doubt to creep in.
“I should’ve done more.”
“I’m not far enough along.”
“Did anything I do this year even matter?”

Sound familiar?

If so, then let’s turn this old story on its head and find a reason to celebrate.

Did you ever have an advent calendar as a kid? Whether it was Christmas story snippets, chocolates, or tiny toys, the fun of not knowing what today’s gift will be never gets old.

So for 24 days in December, let’s play a game.

An advent treasure hunt of sorts to look back on this year and find 24 reasons to celebrate your body, your self, or your life.

Don’t worry you don’t have do this on your own. I’ve got a map for you.

24 prompts for you to ‘fill in the blank’. As in, “The track with the most plays for 2020 is….”. (I don’t know the track, but this playlist has been on repeat for a while in my house.)

  1. I’ll share the day’s prompt on Instagram and Facebook from Dec 1 – 24. 
  2. On Tuesday’s Dec 1, 8, 15 and 22 you’ll get the week’s worth of prompts in your inbox (sign up here) so you have them in advance and don’t have to be on social media.
  3. You can use the prompts to journal or meditate on.
  4. Or maybe you want to get a little more creative and make a photo, or actual, collage. Or something else to nourish that more creative and soulful side of you.
  5. If you want to ‘keep score’, make a note of how you feel after finding that day’s gift. What’s the status of your body and your heart?

Follow along, invite your friends to play, and let’s finish out this year with a little less fear and a little more love in our hearts.


Game Rules

A little side note before we get started….

The number one thing I learned from Rachael Maddox’s ReBloom trauma training I’ve been in this year is this:

When something is difficult, you start with what’s easy.

Seeing as most of this year was difficult, this celebratory treasure hunt is a way to balance that out.

As you start to put your focus on to what is working, the moments of health, the times when you felt good, you are reminding your nervous system, as well as your mind and your soul, that somehow, despite the loss and hardship, all is still well.

Life has range. So do you. And expanding your capacity to notice what is good, is good medicine. It nurtures the ‘Both-AND’.

As in, “it was hard to get out of bed AND I still got up and brushed my teeth.”

It’s the either-or that keeps us looping in a state of fear and anxiety.

So if you want to play, remember there’s no right or wrong answer. In case your inner critic wants to know how you’re doing, here’s the 3 rules:

1. Compassion – Assume you did the best you could with what you had
2. Curiosity – Pretend you just landed on earth; what might you discover about yourself?
3. Everything Counts – nothing is too big or too little to give yourself credit for

Ok, let’s go have some fun!

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

An Embody playlist: Vote for Love

It’s election day in my home country and I’m feeling all the feels. So I made an Embody playlist to move to.

It’s called Vote for Love. You can find it on Spotify.

If you’re feeling unsettled, anxious, hopeless, helpless, and not sure you can handle a particular outcome, try this on. Before you vote, while you vote, after the votes come in.

Let’s remember we’re in this together. There’s going to be heartache regardless who wins. Policies will be made that help some and harm others, and then they will be reversed and the harmed will be helped and the helped will be harmed. Governments will come, and then they will go.

And yet Love never fails.

Vote for love. With your body, with your words, in your heart, in your soul.

Even if you can’t actually cast a ballot in the US election, you can still vote for Love.

Your dance is a prayer that doesn’t need words to be heard.

If you’ve been to an Embody class, you know what to do. If this is your first encounter with Embody, here’s the deal…

When I string together an Embody playlist, I select songs that feel like they are messages from God. They act like mini sermons on my heart, inviting me closer to who I am, closer to the source of it all.

I’ve written out the ‘sermon’ for today’s playlist, along with some movement cues for you. Read them before, during, or after pressing Play, or not at all. The Love will still come through.

  1. Love is All Around (Sleeping at Last): It is here. Even when you can’t see it. Even when you can’t feel it. Look. Listen. Taste and See all that is good right here and now. (Look around your space. See if you can find the Love. Feel your feet on the floor, your fingers on your clothes. What does Love feel like in your body?)
  2. Grace feat East Forest (MC Yogi): Pray for Grace. Pray for strength not of your own. Pray for miracles. Pray for the highest good. (Notice where you’re holding on in your body, breathe into the tension just a little bit deeper, let go just a little bit easier as you exhale.)
  3. Slip into Something more Comfortable (Kinobe): Mmmmm!!! Yum!!!! Oh my goodness have we forgotten the possibilities? Let’s breathe some life into what feels good! Sink your hips into the more beautiful world you know deep down is possible. Let your body remember what it’s like to delight in your YES! What is the YES for your life? Our world? Let your body taste the possibility of life, of health, of wholeness. (Reach your hands to the sky, roll your hips side to side, follow whatever feels good in your body, trust where it takes you.)
  4. You don’t Love Me – No No No (Dawn Penn): Permission to say NO. Permission to trust your instinct. For what you know is right and wrong. Permission to call them out. Permission to say what’s what. You know. Deep down. You know what is Love. You know what it’s not. You know that neglect of the vulnerable, exploitation of the earth, shaming the other, repressing the truth, power corrupted by greed, violence to bodies of all colors, building walls of any kind, stripping ones voice, silencing choice, taking without consent…. Let it be heard, you know this is a NO. (Move those hips, shake those shoulders, let your hands reach out and push away all that it’s time to say NO to.)
  5. It’s Like That (Run D.M.C.): That’s the way it is. Shit happens that is not OK. Let’s not deny it. Let’s not ignore what is happening. It’s time to face the music. It’s time to feel your heart. It’s time to feel your anger. Don’t fight it. It doesn’t have to consume you. Let it heal you. Let it heal us. Feel the burn. In your heart. In your bones. It’s time to burn off the coping strategy that kept you numb. It’s time to burn off the shame that keeps you blaming the world. It’s time to make peace with your rage. (Stomp your feet, clap your hands, shake your head, push the wall, squat up and down, let the heat rise and feel the burn in your body).
  6. Hey Boy, Hey Girl (Chemical Brothers): Ok, here we go. We’re in this together. Here in the chaos. Here in the crazy. How did we get here? It doesn’t matter. What matters is we stay. In the messy middle. Meet the inner demons. Tear down the walls, shake it all up. Toss what it’s time to leave behind. Pick up the pieces. Take with us what’s needed to create a new future. Where we all know we matter. Where we all belong to each other. Where we’re all fuelled by Love. Here we go now. (Go nuts, let loose, jump up and down, throw pillows, let out a roar, make a mess as you tear up the dance floor).
  7. Three Little Birds (Bob Marley & The Wailers): Don’t worry about a thing, everything little thing’s gonna be alright. What part of you knows this to be true? What part wants to trust? Can you feel the innocence in your body? Can you let yourself dance into the arms of Love? Can you find what is good, right here in this very moment? (Move your body like you were a little kid again. Bop around, twirl, or curl up and cuddle with your favorite stuffed animal… cuz I know you still got one.)
  8. Weapon of Choice (Fatboy Slim): You’ve got choice. You can stay on high alert and worry about the future. You can let it all weigh you down and spiral into depression. You can camp out on the Left. You can rally to the Right. Or…. 3rd option, come with us. Do something different. Leave the distraction behind. Find the common ground. Do the thing that makes your neighbor smile. Who knows, it might even be fun… (Wiggle, giggle, swing yourself around, do the chicken dance, let your body laugh).
  9.  All 4 Love (Mark Knight, Rene Amesz, Tasty Lopez): Whatever you do, wherever you go, whatever you say, however you vote, do it all for Love. It’s that simple. (Can you feel it yet? The hope, the possibility, the joy, the Love? Keep fueling that fire in your body.)
  10. Stay Human 2 (Michael Franti & Spearhead): We’re in this together. We’re feeling all the feels together. The person who looks different, prays different, votes different, isn’t the enemy. Let’s remember where we came from. Let’s dance together. (Throw your hands up high. Let the tears roll down. Let your heart beam bright.)
  11. It is Well (Bethel Music): Let this sink in. It is well. It is well. If nowhere else, it is well, in my soul. This is what matters most. The cleansing of your heart. The peace in your soul. (Let yourself rest. Lie down, lean against the wall. Close your eyes, let yourself be held by whatever your body needs to remember who you are, where you came from, and that you are held by the infinite arms of Love. Right here. Right now.)

And so it is.

Thank you to all the artists who followed their creative flow and gifted us with this music. Thank you to Nadia Munla for allowing Embody to be created through her. Thank you to you, yes you, reading this, letting yourself be moved by this.

This is my prayer for my country. This is my vote.

——

For those who want to dance together, I facilitate Embody classes at the Embody Collective. Come dance with us weekly. Cast your vote for Love. Join the movement. Reclaim your weapon of choice.

Photo by Noorulabdeen Ahmad on Unsplash

Why Embody? Learn to trust the sweetness of surrender

My Monday mornings start with a 30 minute phone call with a friend, opening the week in prayerful contemplation. Today led us to the book “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson; it opened to this prayer.

“I surrender this to you. May it be used for your purposes. I ask that my heart by open to give and receive Love. May all the results unfold according to your will.”

The process of Surrender is a lifelong practice. Like peeling an onion, you think you’ve got it nailed and then life reminds you there’s a whole other layer to become acquainted with.

I get it if this is not the invitation you were hoping for this Monday morning.

The thought of surrender might make you feel like you’re free-falling without a parachute. Not something that is easy to trust when your nervous system has been wired to hold on to what you know is certain.

Letting go of control is more than just a spiritual thing; it’s a body thing too.

Your body needs a reminder that loosening the grip in your hands, shoulders, lower back, hips, tips of your toes, is OK. That the whole world is not going to fall apart if you breathe a little more deeply.

It’s likely the movement practices you grew up with support the strengthening of your grip. The sit-ups, squats, even planks and chair poses that promise hard abs and glutes also reinforce the ability of your fascia, tendons, and muscles to work together to harden and contract.

Surrender is easiest when you soften. I know, when was the last time a soft body the thing you’ve been aiming for!?

But maybe this is the very thing deep down you’ve been praying for.

That gnawing feeling in your gut that you’re doing too much and need to slow down.

The searing pain in your shoulders as you watch the news and see yet another fire, murder, political slandering and other signs of destruction and separation.

The resentment building in your heart that once again he didn’t take out the garbage.

These sensations and emotions are easier to greet when your body has already tasted the sweetness of surrender.

Surrender isn’t giving up or giving in. It just means you get to stop fighting with what is.

The ease of letting your belly take up space instead of sucking it in.

The spaciousness that arrives when your shoulders let gravity do the work.

The openness in your heart as you let the ache wash away with cleansing tears.

The prayer for an open heart is often answered with an invitation to loosen the grip and to soften. Not just emotionally, in your body too.

The good news is this doesn’t have to feel like a workout at the gym. You won’t be asked to do reps until your muscles are shaking from the stress.

It’s actually the opposite; a practice of cooperation with the status of your heart and what feels good in your body.

This is what I guide clients with, and it’s the beauty of what the movement practice of Embody has to offer.

In the middle of a year that has thrown up so much uncertainty, trusting the process might feel kamikaze and yet somehow you know it’s the only way.

Embody gives you a way to tiptoe into your own practice of surrender in the most enjoyable, feel good way possible… dance parties.

With the support of other women walking this walk with you, you’re guided to listen to the language of your body and let your movement unfold naturally, without planning it all out or needing to perfect it.

As your body begins to surrender to what feels good, your heart begins to trust again.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “That’s great, but how can I get to an Embody class when I’m in an ever-changing local lockdown situation?”

Well, you prayed and God listened. Here’s an answer.

It’s called The Embody Collective… a community to nourish your body and soul with movement as we navigate the ever changing landscape of life together.

I’m honored to be one of 4 coaches and guides facilitating classes and workshops. You can read all about it here. For the month of November, you’re invited to join us for free.

Embody is my go-to movement practice when I can tell it’s time to start praying for my heart to open. I hope you come practice with me.

Using GRACE as a foundation for your relationships

We have our first patron on Patreon! And it’s my sister!

I got the news after waking up from a nightmarish dream that my 3 yr old niece had hit her younger sister with the new hardcast on her wrist.

At 4am I checked my phone to see if my sister had left me any frantic messages. There was a notification in Whatsapp; ‘Oh shit, my dream was actually true!’. And then I read her message… “I think I’m your first patron!”

I almost cried.

Partially from relief that my little nieces were safely tucked in bed, and partially because I could feel the gesture of Love through her participation in The Sanctuary and Conversations on Being Human.

Family relationships are tough. Their shit meets your shit on a daily if not hourly basis. Sometimes you find a way to keep it together, sometimes you don’t.

My sister and I have had our fair share of arguments. There’s things about each of us that drives the other nuts.

When I was 10, I got so enraged at her, it felt like I wanted to kill her. I screamed and slammed the door in her face, bruising her forehead. Thankfully she was ok.

But even though there wasn’t a physical scar, there was an emotional one.

To be the victim of someone else’s rage when you didn’t actually do anything wrong. To get the brunt of someone else’s anger, because they don’t have anywhere else to put it. To be named and shamed for who you are, just because the other person hasn’t come to terms and fully accepted who they are.

Those dynamics play out over and over. Between siblings, spouses, parents and children, and of course they spill out of private homes and into the streets, workplaces, prayer places, and everywhere else.

Until you notice, name, and accept the part of yourself that causes harm to another, it sneaks around in the shadows and turns into your worst nightmare: it destroys.

So what is another way? How do we attempt to reconcile the past and plant seeds for a more restorative future?

I’ve been playing with the word ‘grace’ as an acronym for relating to others.

Generosity & Gratitude

Respect & Reverence

Acceptance & Awe

Care, Cooperation & Curiosity

Empathy

This sums up what Amber and I are hoping to create within The Sanctuary. It’s the core message within the Conversations on Being Human that have been recorded so far. It’s the vision we hold for relationships, whether in your immediate family, or in across groups of people that look, pray, eat, think, drink, be different.

Below are the expanded values that you’re invited to embody with us in The Sanctuary and beyond. As you savor them, perhaps see what it feels like to try GRACE on with

  • a stranger.
  • a friend or someone you like.
  • someone in your family.

Notice how your body might respond as you imagine treating these individuals with GRACE. What feels easy and heart-warming? What feels challenging and maybe even stressful? How can you cooperate with your own experience, letting it be OK for there to be challenge, and breathing into what feels easy?

Values for The Sanctuary & Conversations on Being Human

We hold the vision for using GRACE as a bridge between individuals, groups, ideas, and differences.

Generosity & Gratitude: We stand for making the most generous assumption that I, you, and another is doing the best they can with what they have, and finding gratitude for the opportunity to learn and grow from interactions with those that are different to us.

Respect & Reverence: We treat each other with respect and dignity, even when our stuff gets triggered. We see each human as a divine creation and stand in reverence of the possibility that perhaps we might get a glimpse of God through interacting with another human.

Acceptance & Awe: We aim to accept our own imperfections and flaws so that we have a greater capacity to accept the imperfections and flaws of others. We also believe in the awesomeness of each person and hold a vision for the individual embodiment of our passion and purpose.

Care, Cooperation & Curiosity: We recognize that in community, we balance the different needs of each person as well as the group. We encourage taking good care of yourself in order to offer that care to others. Tread lightly. Cooperate, even with what feels difficult. When you don’t understand, ask a question. What can I learn in this moment?

Empathy: We are on the journey with you and each other. Even if we haven’t walked in your exact shoes we can imagine what it might be like to be you. You can ask any question even if you’re not sure it’s the right question to ask, name a belief even if you’re ashamed of it.

In a nutshell, you’re invited to come as you are, and we hope that by walking with GRACE, we chip away at the shackles that we all know all too well: the idolization of perfectionism, the fear of vulnerability, and shame projected as self-righteous judgement.

To allow ourselves to live in GRACE we do not tolerate blatant bullying, passive-aggressive comments, judgement, or shaming of ourselves or others in the Sanctuary. While you don’t have to be perfect, and we anticipate trip-ups and foot-in-mouth moments, we first and foremost invite your adult self to join us.

——

As you step into this week, consider what it would be like to start with GRACE. Remember that trip-ups are allowed. You don’t have to get it right from the get-go. You can plant one seed, lay one brick in the bridge, and take one step at a time.


How you can help expand the message of GRACE

I’m part of a new creation to bridge the gap across the many divides that create ‘us vs them’ and ‘the other’.

Conversations on Being Human is a podcast, with the first 6 episodes available to supporters of this movement.

We’re creating this on Patreon so we can easily invite others into the shared conversation through on-line community gatherings called The Sanctuary.

When you Listen, you are taking a stand that this message is important.

When you Gather with us, you turn GRACE into a practice.

When you Travel with us, you equip yourself to bring more GRACE into your home and community.

Our first online community gathering is scheduled for Saturday September 26th, and is open to all patrons. Check it out at patreon.com/conversationsonbeinghuman.

Photo by Valentin Antonucci on Unsplash

How self-acceptance makes way for peace

There’s another ‘Conversations on Being Human’ to share with you. In this one, Amber Wheatley sheds some light on what it’s like to live in a black body, answering the unasked question, ‘What’s it like to be you?’

There are things I take for granted that Amber helped me understand.

Like how I can sit in my back yard, and when the police drive by, it doesn’t cross my mind that they might be coming for me.

Or how I can walk down the street in a sweatshirt and I’m not stopped and questioned by the police.

And how I can be just one person in the crowd, and if things go sideways, I will probably be the last person held responsible.

It never dawned on me that if I was born with a black body, I might be living in a relatively constant state of anxiety or paranoia, because these ‘normal’ situations of chilling in my garden, wearing a sweatshirt, going for a walk, and gathering in a crowd, might not feel safe.

That question, ‘What’s it like to be you?’, is a hard one to ask. Do we really want to know? Is it not easier to hide behind our own assumptions, creating a story about why ‘the other’ does what they do?

‘Othering’…. That’s another thing we touched upon. As you’ll hear in the conversation, this is really where I get my back up. Whether it’s white or black, Left or Right, Christian or non-Christian, fat or slim, we get caught in our own biases about what is right and what is wrong.

We all do it. I do it.

Call it a Universal Sin.

Today I was listening to Day 2 of Charles Eisenstein’s new course, Political Hope. I highly recommend tuning in to it. It’s free for another 5 days.

He also talks about this idea of ‘othering’, and named the underlying dynamic with even more clarity: a polarizing war mentality.

What really hit home for me, is when he named a potential cause for this war mentality that separates us into categories and groups: self-rejection and conditional self-approval.

If I make X amount of money then I will like myself. If I lose Y amount of weight, then I will stop fighting with my body.

Does this sound familiar? Maybe you have a similar if-then statement that dictates your life. An ideal outcome you’re aiming for that your self-worth hinges on.

Chances are that in trying to achieve that outcome, there’s a fight going on, if nothing more than an internal tug-of-war.

A need for rest, that gets bypassed because there is too much to do.

A desire for your work to be aligned with your values, which gets overridden as soon as a lucrative offer comes along.

An instinct that this person isn’t going to be good for you, that gets ignored because you’re craving relationship.

The truth that your relationship with food and exercise is doing more harm than good, but you’re not ready to trust your body’s natural wisdom.

The push-pull of wanting to achieve whatever goal you think offers safety and security, competing with a deep knowing that if you stayed true to who you are, you would walk down a different path.

Perhaps not a path that gets you as many likes on your Instagram profile, but one that might bring you more peace.

And once you’ve made peace with yourself, then maybe you could be a beacon for peace between you and another, a bridge between you and ‘the other’.

Listen on Soundcloud

The Sanctuary

The vision we have for ‘Conversations on Being Human’ is that they act as kindling; igniting a flame in your heart to gather with others to learn, heal, and inspire regulated steps towards peace. We are creating a way to do this through a membership-based ‘Sanctuary’, starting in September. There is one more ‘Conversations on Being Human’ on its way to you before we transition to a new subscription-based platform to support the ongoing creation of these conversations.

We are looking for a 3rd person to help with tech-support and spreading the word. Can you edit audio? Good with words? Have your own flavor of ‘marketing’ that values relationship over ‘the sell’? We’d love to hear from you and have you come on board by the end of August. Get in touch with Kendra through this link.

Coaching

Are you ready to make peace with your body and yourself? I support clients with reclaiming self-worth, trusting yourself, and confident self-expression. Here’s how we could work together. Start with an exploratory conversation to see if we’re a good fit.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Would you make peace with your body to make peace for our world?

Back in April I had some inspiration to create a couple of e-courses about reclaiming your body as an ally and something to celebrate.

I was a decent way through creating the first one, and then George Floyd was killed, riots started, Trump gave a green light for military force, and the reality check of the racial injustice, power struggles, and story of separation (to quote Charles Eisenstein) that we live within floored me. I spent a number of days on my knees, weeping, praying, groaning. Feeling a heartbreak that I can’t explain with words.

When I tried to get back into creative mode, my energy was zapped. “Why do they [these courses] even matter anymore?”, I asked myself.

Liking what you see in the mirror, feeling good about yourself, and finding your flow felt shallow and self-serving. It felt like there were bigger fish to fry than women with white skin (the majority of who these courses are likely to reach) learning to love their bodies.

So I pressed pause. Once again swimming in the dark pool of the unknown, praying to God, “What do you want from me?”

This weekend, an answer started to come. A lightbulb shining on this:

That while racism points to something much deeper than the color of someone’s skin, maybe a place to start is with the most obvious thing: the body.

And not just the differentiating characteristics of black, white, and brown, but also thin, fat, tall, short, curly or straight haired, able-bodied or not. All the ways we separate ourselves into categories and believe one better than the other.

I’ve been sitting with this, starting to write and have conversations about this. There is likely more to unfold.

At this point all I have is a question for you.

If you knew that making peace with your own body was a foundational step to knocking down the wall that divides us into ‘us vs them’, breeding resentment, shame, hate, oppression, and other evils of the world, would you do it?

Would you make peace with your own body, your own self, as a prayer for peace in this world?

I tried to articulate something to this effect in the TEDx talk I was invited to give in 2017 (by my friend Amber Wheatley, a woman with black skin I am now having quite insightful and healing conversations with around the topic of race. Race wasn’t mentioned in this talk, however, if you watch it, you can add ‘very different skin color’ at minute 14:45.).

Last week I listened to a talk by Bear Hebert  on unpacking whiteness, and was introduced to the concept of ‘collective liberation’ (I know, I’m a little late to the game.)

Collective liberation is the idea that none of us are free until everyone is free.

That a white body isn’t free until a black and brown body is free.

That a thin body isn’t free until a fat body is free.

Think about it, if you live in a culture that idolizes thin white bodies, even if you have a thin white body, you are stuck, because as soon as your body changes size, you fall off the pedestal and your identity is no longer safe and secure.

So until we live in a society where there is no one on the pedestal, then we are all going to be living in chains. Whether your experience is contorting yourself into the same shape and size as the idol, or living out a story of ‘less than’, when your skin color, shape, size, or ability is different.

This is not cool for anyone.

So where do we go from here?

I don’t know yet, other than to sit with the question: Are you willing to make peace with your own body, your own self, your own history?

Because for sure if I can’t make peace with myself, how can I truly make peace with another?

And maybe, just maybe, if we each start to make our own bit of peace, a tidal wave shifting towards freedom and peace for all starts to grow.


For some first steps towards making peace with your body, join my newsletter and you’ll receive a copy of the True You Journey chapter, ‘My Body is Mine to Celebrate’. I am also available for trauma-informed coaching around the topics of body image, relationship with food, and letting yourself be seen.


Photo by Aleksandr Ledogorov on Unsplash