Join me at the new blog, over here.
All the old posts are still here, but the new ones are over there. 🙂
Join me at the new blog, over here.
All the old posts are still here, but the new ones are over there. 🙂
Seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes can change you.
Whenever I get in front of Dee Hill’s camera, I know the result will move me, stir my soul and help me to see myself in my most beautiful light.
Here’s a video she created after a very magical cemetery photo/video shoot. I didn’t realize how enchanting I was. 😉 I highly recommend a sensual, provocative photo or video shoot with Dee or any other talented artist and see your beauty through the eyes of another.
None of us “feel sexy” all the time. We have our frumpy days, our scrunchee and sweat pants days, but if we can remind ourselves on those days, or any days, of the beauty we possess, it can change the way we move in the world- even while wearing the sweats and scrunchees!
‘the only way out is through…’
angelika, one of my closest friends and i are talking about a party she was at over the weekend and how it became, for her, quite the un-party, when a certain ex-boyfriend showed up, we’ll call him dick. angelika went on dancing, laughing, having a great time, perhaps a little too hard, for that extra ‘see-i’m-totally-fine-without-your-dumb-ass’ affect, and they did not say hi to one another. ‘and so of course,’ she says with a certain degree of self-loathing. ‘like an idiot, i kept waiting for him to call me, to text me, something, because no doubt seeing me stirred up his feelings, made him realize what a fool he’d been, made him miss me…’ there was no call. there was no text. she felt stupid. mad at herself for caring. for still having emotions wrapped up and tangled in the situation, that seeing him at the party triggered for her, feelings she did not want to have.
‘i just wanna be done with it. so this morning i scheduled a session scheduled with an energy worker because obviously i still have some connection. i want it cut, once and for all…’ i’ve been thinking about angelika since, about our conversation, about cutting the cord, and i want to save her a hundred dollars by giving her permission to simply grieve…
ugh, grief. perhaps the shittiest of all emotions, the one we go to all kinds of crazy, creative ways to avoid feeling, we’d love to skip it all together, cuz it sucks, but we can’t, so even when we think we do, grief just hides out, in our body, in our hearts, in our subconscious, like a cancer, who knows, maybe even literally becoming a cancer, or a nervous breakdown, or sleeplessness, or misplaced (usually self-directed) loathing, or headaches, or back pain, or drug addiction, or compulsive eating, or shoplifting, or promiscuity, or… a million other things. it finds a way to express itself, somehow. grief unexpressed, pain and hearbreak unfelt, do not just dissipate into the ether.
because angelika is like me, and maybe you, a Big-Strong-Girl, she plowed through her pain and heartbreak like a big-strong-girl does, but my spidey senses are telling me she hadn’t really given her sweet, injured heart the time and space it needed… to be broken. to be wounded.
have you ever fallen, say, in public? like i’m talking you lose your balance and just take a dive and hit the ground? most likely, in front of a large number of people, who then are inspired to applaud, laugh awkwardly, or, if its a really good dive, gasp and wince, crying out “OOOH…. that had to hurt!” if you are like me, you are brave and tough and you laugh ha-ha-ha, even though it hurts and your knees and the palms of your hands are stinging, throbbing, but you are a big-strong-girl! so you jump back up quickly, dust yourself off, to show the world just how Okay you truly are, no-i’m-fine, really, smiling it off, not just pretending you are fine, but maybe even thinking you are fine, not even realizing your own pain, only to realize hours later, like when you pull down your jeans to pee, your knees are all banged up, bruised and bleeding, under your jeans. and THEN- that’s when it starts to effing hurt.
i think that’s what seeing dick at the party was like for angelika. she felt fine, look how fine she is, dancing, laughing, having a great old time, and then, bam! she see’s his dumb-ass, its like pulling down her tough-girl jeans, suddenly seeing the bruise, the blood, and not surprisingly, feeling the pain.
i have another friend, violet, who spent a butt-load of money on a private session with a shamanic healer after her painful break-up with her jackass boyfriend, who we’ll call jack, with some powerful ritual, and the healer cut the ties, snip snip, no more connection and after the session she was high as kite on healing energy, glowing, luminescent and healed, halleluiah. it’s done, she gushed. super shaman man cut the ties and it’s done. and for a few days she was great, until she was going through some forgotten piles of junk mail and papers and found a take-out menu from ‘that’s amore’, they had ordered from two weeks before he dumped her, when she thought things were just great and that he might possibly be The Love of Her Life, and she had ordered the chicken parmesean and he the baked lasagna and they had bloated carb-crash sex afterward, but it was great, and all of a sudden, she is sobbing on her living room floor, shaman man lied, the feelings are still there, there are still ties.
and i told her and i’ll tell you, sweet reader: a ritual is great. important, no doubt. in fact, i am firmly rooted in the belief that rituals need to be more a part of our lives, for endings, for beginnings, for heartbreak, for letting go, for holding on when it seems like there’s nothing to hold onto. rituals can help us heal, make for tidier incisions, cleaner stitches when we are dealing with an open wound, but we don’t get to skip the grief.
grief is like an acid trip- you don’t get to decide when you’re done with it. it decides when it’s done with you. and it doesn’t get done without getting expressed, felt, experienced. no shaman, no ritual, no energy worker, no one, regardless of how gifted they are or how much you pay them can heal you from grief. it is the grief itself that heals you.
why are we so afraid of grief? we fear being swallowed, eaten alive by it, we’re afraid if we go in we will never come out. but amazingly, and i am more sure about this than i may be anything else in the whole world, that it isn’t until we experience our feelings completely that they can finally heal. and they do. they will. it is guaranteed. we are bigger than our grief, no matter how it may feel. how can something we hold inside of us, smaller than us, swallow us? there are no shortcuts through the darkness, no secret passageways that we can purchase by the session, by the hit, the book, the fix. the only fix is allowing.
“You are not broken. You are simply unfinished.” – Dawna Markova
I have a theory, birthed from personal experience, and many mindbody experts, doctors and therapists would agree, that grief unexpressed, unprocessed, often hides out in the body. The first time i was confronted with this theory, I was on the table at my Chiropractor’s, on my back and she was working on me. She seemed focused on one particular area, the area where I was having a lot of pain, the pelvic and hip area. Dr. Jessica practiced a form of Chiropractic called Network Care, which is much gentler and more intuitive than typical chiropractic. There is no cracking or popping, all touch is gentle. She held my left leg and bent it upward and began stirring it in a circular motion. A strange feeling began to well up in that area and began to move up my body like a huge wave. I felt incredibly sad. The motion she was making seemed to actually be loosening something emotional inside that area and she continued to stir up the big pot of whatever she was loosening, using my hip joint as a big mixing spoon. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I was sobbing. Uncontrollably sobbing. Waves of sadness washed up my body and all I could do was cry. I felt embarrassed and tried to stop and tried to apologize through snot-filled gasps for air.
“I don’t even know why I’m crying!” I snorted. She nodded warmly and continued to work. After the session, Dr. Jessica told me she had found a huge block in my root chakra. I, knowing nothing at that time about such things, asked her what the root chakra related to. “Security. Home. Safety.” She answered. Ah, yes. I thought. Paydirt. On my way home from her office, I stopped at a book store and bought a guide to chakra healing. The block in my root chakra made perfect sense, considering the home I grew up in, the things I struggled with currently and also the physical pain in my right hip I had been suffering from for nearly two years.
The second time it happened, I was enjoying (and I mean enjoying) my very first Thai massage. Thai massage, like most things, is better experienced than explained, but to give you an idea, it is done on the floor. The massage therapist uses her whole body- legs, chest, her weight, to stretch and move the client. There is lot of large motor motion in a Thai massage and again, as the therapist worked on my left side, that same area, a stirring began to well up in my left hip and I began to feel immersed in a deep and profound sadness. There was nothing to be sad about, I thought, but I struggled not to break down. That would be so embarrassing, my Inner Judge chastised me for thinking about having a meltdown during a massage. of all places! It’s supposed to feel good. It’s not supposed to make you cry. I struggled with this urge as it continued to well up in me, tried to stifle the tears, I tried hard to stay composed, but it was taking more energy not to cry and eventually I just gave in to the sadness. As I had done with the Chiropractor, I was quick to explain that I didn’t know why I was crying. I just feel so sad, I sobbed. She stayed with me and breathed with me and let me cry as much as I needed to. You’re safe, I could almost hear her saying out loud.
After both experiences, I was shaking and felt incredibly vulnerable. On the way home from my massage I thought about what I had felt, how the sadness had no particular story attached to it, nothing specific I could point at and say “and THAT’S why I’m crying.” And I didn’t really want to attach a story to it. The story, at this point, was irrelevant. The fact of the matter was (and is) the emotions that I did not allow myself to fully experience whenever the situation had originally occurred did not just dissolve into the air. Those feelings had just been stored- hidden in some nook or cranny in my body. After repeated sessions, it was clear to me that I had stored a great deal of sadness in my hips, as if there were pockets there, like a pair of jeans. “No. I can’t feel this right now.” I had unconsciously decided. For whatever reasons, denial, avoidance, self-protection, and since what is not expressed is repressed, I tucked that pain in the pocket’s of my soul’s jeans like chewed gum, and now, I was cleaning out the pockets and finding all this yucky, sticky stuff that had lost its original form, but still had it’s ingredients and was making a mess.
There would be two similar instances in which this sadness would come up during bodywork, once during a Shamanic healing session and once during a Reiki session. During the Shamanic Healing session, my Guide told me he found a big tangled mess in my root chakra (that damned root chakra, again.) He spent a good part of the session trying to untangle that mess. It was as if long threads had gotten tangled in the blades of a fan, he explained, as I sobbed through the session. Feeling “all better” after the Shamanic healing session, I felt certain that I had still been storing some unexpressed emotion in my hips, but now, NOW, I was fixed.
About a month later, I was in a Reiki session and decided I’d “test” the whole chakra thing by not telling the practioner about my infamous block in the root chakra. She started at my head. It was exciting and flattering to hear that my crown chakra radiated such intense vibrations that the Practitioner said they were the strongest vibrations she had ever felt. My ego of course, ate that up like a bag of Oreos. As she worked her way down my chakra system, she found the same thing when she got to the root chakra. “I’m not feeling anything here.” She said. “Something’s blocking it.” Yup. I thought. There it is again. That damned root chakra.
While I was not surprised that she found it, I was disappointed. I couldn’t believe that all my healing work, all of these sessions, all of that sobbing and sadness that I had finally allowed to move through my body, I was still blocked in my freakin’ root chakra.
I remember as a teenager, one hot summer day I had stepped on a pin out in front while hanging out. Instead of cleaning and covering the puncture, I continued to walk around barefoot. Soon I found myself with a severely infected foot. it looked like a balloon, swelled up ten times its original size, it was excrutiatingly painful and I couldn’t walk on it at all. During that time, a visiting faith healer came to my church for revival meetings and healing services. Brother Razzle Dazzle had all the sleek and smooth charisma you might expect of a travelling faith healer and after each sermon, all the sick and wounded people were invited to the altar to be healed. I hobbled to the altar, my balloon foot so inflamed that I couldn’t even let it touch the floor without crying out in pain. But I believed in the power of prayer and in miracles. The faith healer placed his hands on me and prayed and it was amazing. Miraculously and instantly, I could walk on my foot. While it still looked the same, like a soccer ball with toes, it no longer hurt. I had been healed. I walked back to my seat, using both feet, minus the limp, hands raised in the air, praising God for magically healing my foot. Hours later though, after the endorphin rush had worn off, the pain returned with a vengance, the swelling worsened and now I had a fever. It was time for the hospital. My failure to be healed was so disappointing and disheartening, and while I questioned the Faith Healer’s abilities, mostly I blamed it on myself, for not having strong enough faith.
What I see now has nothing to do with faith or genuinuity as it has to do with putting God in a box and with not trusting the miracle of the natural processes of things. We do this all the time by deciding what a miracle should look like and what exact parameters it should follow. What I know now is that the miracle was the endorphin rush, endorphins being magical in so many ways, one of them being their miraculous ability to relieve pain. And God, being the uber-artist and scientist designed endorphins as pain relief. But at the time, I was too caught up in my own inability to accept God’s healing. Another miracle was the antibiotic I received that within 24 hours had shrunken my foot down to its original size.
I am reminded of the foot healing now, and it all becomes a little clearer to me. The only true failures, whether we think its us failing or God failing us, happens when our containers are too small and limited. when we put deadlines on our discomfort, nurturing some silly notions of a completely pain-free existence. as if we could just bypass the suffering, if we just prayed hard enough, hired some healer, took the workshop. i found it disappointing that in spite of all of my efforts, all of the intense and dramatic experiences I had experienced to clear my root chakra and to heal from whatever traumatic pain and sadness I had stored in that region, I was still blocked. I still had not received my miracle. I had lots of false ‘breakthroughs’ but when it was all said and done, I was still in physical pain and my chakra was still blocked. Using my uncanny ability to twist things around so that I can feel bad about myself, I had translated this into: I am still damaged. I am still broken. Fix me. (I’ll pay you.)
We look for a miracle, but we don’t give that miracle any room to be whatever shape it may be. We want things to work out but our definitions of working out are small and one dimensional. It’s as if we think we have the answer to what ‘working out’ should look like, and when we fail to see that exact version, we claim we didn’t receive the miracle, or things didn’t work out.
What if for now, my chakra is meant to stay blocked so that I could practice self-acceptance, or so that I can tell the story and one other person might feel validated who had previously felt flawed or damaged? What if my body was and is healing at its own natural pace, instead of the instant-healing I keep looking for in healers and gurus? What if I could learn to just be with what is, blocked chakra and all, and love myself through it?
I think of my life before I knew what chakras were or before I knew about the block. it was a simpler time, really. there was no precious time spent on wondering how to fix it, wondering what was wrong with me, wondering what I still wasn’t facing, wondering when I would be whole. I think about the emotional energy and mental energy I have spent worrying about this poor blocked part of me, struggling against it, gotta fix it, gotta mend it, and I wonder what creations i could have instead birthed with that energy.
What if instead of looking for a miracle limited by my small thinking ( “hey God: a miracle looks like this”) I instead sought the miracles in the situation as is? what if i allowed myself to simply journey through my suffering, to see what awaits me on the other side? i’m learning how to do life like that, and it starts with feeling all of my feelings and not avoiding the crappy ones when they show up. we want to skip the suffering. we want to avoid the pain. but truly, the only way out is through.
so i implore you, in whatever hidden recesses your grief or pain might be tucked into, to experiment with allowing it to show up when it will, to not be afraid when it turns you inside out, to allow yourself space and time to grieve. how much time? as much time as it takes. how much space? as much space as it wants. you won’t get swallowed up. you won’t. be easy and gentle with yourself and know that when pain is triggered, it’s not a bad thing. you are not flawed, not broken or damaged, simply and beautifully real and human. grief and sadness are not something to avoid, but to travel through, finding richness and wholeness and the depth that only experiencing life in all of its slippery sloppiness and sharp jagged corners can provide. the healing happens naturally, through the pain itself. it is the way through. you dishonor yourself by denying your experience of pain. when you acknowledge whatever’s there, and allowing yourself to feel it fully, healing happens. if there is a secret passageway, this is it: allowing yourself to feel what needs to be felt to heal.
(c)Lisa Carmen 2009
photo by Dee Hill
“You didn’t come here for the Oneness of it all. You can’t be anything but that. You came here for the sex, the chocolate, and the color orange. In other words, you came here for the juicy aspects of contrast that are so very, very delicious!”
– The Communion of Light
“The sex, the chocolate and the color orange…” And may I add…
– the sun on your shoulders
– the orgasms
– the artichokes
– cream cheese
– the dancing
– the wet sand between your toes
– the Thai massage
– the Thai FOOD…
The list goes on and on.
In our relentless, long-suffering quests for enlightenment, we can forget that we’re in these bodies for a reason. To experience the physical!
Otherwise, we’d just be floating around the ethers without form!
You are here because Divinity wanted to experience you.
You already know enlightenment. It is your core state!
As long as we’re in these bodies, we might as well enjoy them.
What makes your body come alive? What tastes, smells, textures stir your flesh? Do, taste, smell and touch those things, as often as you can! After all, these bodies are so impermanent.
Our souls, on the other hand, eternal…
We all have them.
The “Inner Mean Girls” (or boys) that live inside our head and compete for attention with compelling reasons as to why we should not be happy, how incapable we are of being great, how imperfect our bodies are, what terrible daughters/mothers/wives/friends/sisters we are, why we are not enough and how undeserving we are of most good things. WHEW.
I can’t say I’ve gotten complete and total control of these voices, but I am making dramatic shifts. The first step: by simply recognizing them, I begin to dissolve their power.
What’s super cool is that the more familiar I am with them, their boring old arguments, their lame attempts at raining on my parade, their true scaredy-cat natures, I am getting better at spotting them a mile away, and I’m getting really good at stopping them in their tracks.
This is how I know:
The other day, on a particularly grateful, serene quiet morning, I sat in my favorite chair, with my coffee and my journal, basking in the happiness of that moment and my life.
I wrote “I love my life. To be alive, to be living this life is such a gift. I’m so grateful for all the blessings…” and then, suddenly, there she was, the “Inner Mean Girl” I’ll call Bubbles, cuz she’s really good at bursting them. She said to me, while I was writing…
“Oh yeah? Well, what about…” and prepared to lay into me with all the creative, colorful and compelling reasons I should not be happy.
And this is how I know I have made dramatic progress:
In my mind, I quickly cut her off and without even thinking, said “SHUT UP AND LET ME BE HAPPY.”
I didn’t even let her finish her sentence! I don’t even know what she was going to say! I just wasn’t in the mood to hear it, and dammit, I’m entitled to happiness without her stupid “Yeah-Buts.”
Maybe you have your own “Bubbles…”
Even though our mamas taught us that nice girls don’t interrupt, I say screw it. I say cut her off. Shut her up. Interrupt her. After all, you’ve let her have her way with you for long enough, haven’t you?
Stake your claim to happiness, stand your ground and tell your “Inner Mean Girl” to shut the hell up next time she starts her crap. I’m not saying she’ll run off and never come back. But this is the way to begin… the rewiring of the brain, the new thought patterns and that conscious, CHOSEN HAPPINESS that is your divine birthright.
We DO get to choose our thoughts, you know. One interruption at a time.
“I am who I am today because of the women I’ve surrounded myself with.” – Salma Hayek
I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the women in my life. I am a very lucky person to work in fields that serve women, to be surrounded by amazing, powerful, beautiful women. Each day I get to partner with women on a variety of projects, causes and endeavors.
But what I’m specifically grateful for today are my girlfriends. I am surrounded by incredible women, but the much smaller circle in my life is the one I am most held by, seen by, loved by.
These are the women that hold me to the highest vision of myself, yet lovingly support me when I am not exactly living up to that vision.
These are the women that bravely speak the truth to me, even if I might not like what I hear, I have no choice but to take their observations to heart, considering their track record in my life.
These are the women willing to take risks with me, to bravely explore the terrain of true intimacy. The ones where small talk, self-serving ass-kissing, false intimacy and b.s. have no place.
These are the women that laugh with me when life is funny, cry with me when I’m in pain, and get tattoos with me when I am audaciously brave and maybe a little buzzed.
These are the women that hold my secrets, and I hold theirs.
These are the women that know when I’m not “fine” so I won’t even try to fake it with them.
These are the women that support me and love me exactly as I am, yet tirelessly cheer for my growth and expansion.
I have been blessed with the coolest friends. And I want them to know how much I appreciate their presence in my life.
Last year on my birthday, get this… my girlfriends turned a dining room into a temple, slipped me into a white gown, BLINDFOLDED ME, kidnapped me from home, surrounded me with light and love, christened me the Goddess of Love in a deeply moving ceremony and fed me like I’d never been fed before.
When I think about that day, I cry. I cry for the love and the expression, the time and trouble that went into that event, but mostly I am moved to tears because it’s my heart’s prayer that every woman be surrounded by women that nurture and support her that much.
I wonder who I would be without the love of my girlfriends.
Eh, I’d rather not.
I am grateful for the ones that have come and gone, the ones I hold onto for dear life and the ones I am just beginning to delve and dance with. I am grateful for these connections, for they make me who I am.
“All of my relationships support me to be my best me and to live the life I want, or I don’t have them. This requires honoring myself so much that I only have relationships in my life that give respect, unconditional love and truth.” – Derived from “Madly in Love with Me” by Christine Arylo
It was a very exciting day. CW33 News had offered me the opportunity to share SacredSexyU with the world in a report about “bringing sexy back.”
I was thrilled. I was grateful. I was scared. I said “HELL YEAH!”
And I couldn’t be more pleased with the report. (Okay, a little longer would’ve been great, with nearly two hours of footage filmed, but that’s just my ego!)
Most of all, I was honored to share this work with a larger public, proud of the women who audaciously showed up to share the experience with me and moved by the scope of this work which is larger, more important and more needed than I had originally assumed.
Here’s the report! Let me know what you think! 🙂