We’re All a Little Broken.

**originally published on elephant journal.

Lately, it seems that all the cracks in my heart are widening and what was once so neatly put together, is now a little broken.

Well, maybe it’s not broken. Maybe, it’s breaking open.

Regardless, right now, there are pieces, many pieces, and all of them require attention.

Some are loving. Some are screaming. Some are crying. Some have drawn their swords in preparation for battle. Some stare with child-like wonder. Some carry the weight of perfection. And, others, well, they’re just tucked away in corners, contentedly dancing to deep techno music.

We all have our own pieces. These are mine.

But, the one thing our big, beautiful, fragile hearts and their pieces have in common with each other, is that they are undeniably essential parts of who we are and to ignore any part of them is to disrespect our uniqueness, passions and power.

Casting certain ones aside because they are undesirable takes away a little bit of love and causes feelings of shame, inferiority and judgment.

And, where is the wisdom and compassion in that?

Where is the unconditional love?

Perhaps, it’s a natural occurrence for our hearts to reveal their “brokenness.”

This fracturing gives us an opportunity to look inside and touch, taste and feel (really feel) the deep crevices within; the different parts of our bodies, minds and spirits that make us whole.

Maybe, it’s our inner truth calling us back to our warrior spirits by inviting us to dive a little deeper; stare a bit longer; cry a bit harder; and ultimately, find a way to meld, bend, create ourselves into the unique and imperfect beings that we are.

It’s not always pretty or comfortable (as evidenced by my recent puffy, morning eyes) but it is real, raw and teaches us to love as warriors, with grace and courage.

It is what we need to grow and stumble and live and love and be and connect and hurt and feel and shine…always shine.

Being in the world with this depth of self-knowledge and acceptance not only empowers us as individuals but it makes us better citizens. It reminds us that we matter and our actions are important because we are whole and our voices come from a place of strength.

When we explore these broken parts of ourselves, it is not about finding ways to fix them.

There is nothing to fix.

We are as beautiful in our breaking as we are in our wholeness.

It’s about taking our pieces, really seeing them and opening ourselves to the possibilities that exist within us.

It’s about looking at our spirits and sculpting and creating the truth of who we are from the unique parts of who we be.

It’s about acceptance, fear, insecurity, connection, beauty, sadness, courage, weakness, joy, pain and love.

All of it.

And, it’s a beautiful perfect mess.

Today, I Was Brave.

**originally published on elephant journal.

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
~ Brené Brown

Sometimes, life can be scary.

We all know that. There are so many things going on around us that are out of our control. It’s easy to get swept up in the chaos and confusion.
It’s easy to feel small.

There have been so many times in my life when my fears have towered over me and instead of finding the strength to stand up to them, I cowered away into a safe, dark corner. Meanwhile, my heart was breaking and my spirit was clawing to get out and fight.

She wanted to be big. She always wants to be big.

And, really, the thing about fear is that it doesn’t have to be our enemy. Our fears can be our greatest teachers. They draw from us our strengths and unique gifts. They offer us the opportunity to create (and choose) how we want to be in the world.

But it takes courage. It takes knowing and trusting our hearts. It takes believing that we are worthy of having the greatest life and relationships.

And, it takes believing that we are fueled by a source greater than ourselves, whoever or whatever that may be.

When we are bold and vulnerable, we are supported by that source within us that will not let us fail.

Yes, it might hurt sometimes, but like any great warrior, we can gracefully get back up, learn from our experiences and continue to be brave on our path to discovering our truest, greatest selves.

Here are a few ways of practicing bravery on a daily basis:

Be Bold.

Do something that is uniquely you.

Something that pushes your limits and makes you giggle when you realize you are actually doing it.

The situation itself may not be a laughing matter (or maybe it is, walking down the street singing at the top of your lungs while people are watching and pointing, definitely takes courage).

But whatever it is, let it be something that challenges you out of your comfort zone.

For me, being bold means showing my uniqueness while letting go of my fear of judgement and acceptance. This can happen while speaking from my heart in conversations, saying no when I’m expected to say yes or maybe even just wearing my favorite dress when I know everyone else is wearing jeans.
Release a thought or belief that has been holding us back.

This one may take a little more time because these thoughts and beliefs take time to grow and sometimes they look like really big monsters.

One of my greatest demons has been taking to heart the perceived expectations of what I thought others wanted me to be. Whether or not those expectations actually existed was irrelevant because in my mind they did.

Taking away the power of this belief has been (and will continue to be) an on-going process but recognizing it and giving it a voice, has been a huge step in diffusing it.

Eventually, I may even be able to let it go.

Be Authentic.

Yes, I know, this is a buzzword. But it’s really important.

For me, it means looking inside to the fiery center of who I am. It is the birthplace of my dreams, passions, truth, strength and spirit. When I am being authentic, I feel like I am home.

The way that I connect with my authentic self is through meditation, yoga and being in nature. These are the times when I have the deepest and best conversations with my true self.

I ask questions like, “How can I be of service?” and ” Am I living my greatest, highest good?”

It takes courage to ask these questions because sometimes I find that the answers are not in alignment with my day-to-day activities.

These are the moments when I know I’ve put down my sword and I need to go find it.

Be Vulnerable.

This has been one of the most difficult (and bravest) things I have chosen to be in my life but it has also been the most freeing.

Although there is great risk that comes from taking off our masks and exposing the centers of our hearts, there is no greater way to walk the path of the warrior. When we expose ourselves, we give ourselves permission to live completely in the truth of who we are. Messiness and all.

There was a time when I would hide all of my emotions. It was lonely and empty but I knew I would never really be hurt.

Now, I make it a point of sharing my feelings, emotions and state of being. What I’ve realized is that the heart is a great holder of secrets but she’s happier when she has space to grow and expand.

Embrace Ourselves Fully.

We all have our struggles, fears and dare I say, dark sides. And, as much as we may want to fight it, embracing these aspect of ourselves is essential to our growth as humans (and spiritual beings).

When we repress the the things we don’t like about ourselves, we give them more power to control us. They become aspects that create shame and guilt about who we really are.

Accepting our duality, gives us the opportunity to love ourselves fully, with all of our light and darkness.

Loving Beyond Fear: A Graceful Warrior’s Story

GracefulWarrior

**originally published on elephant journal

I always believed that I was going to die when I was 33.

Both my mother and her mother died at that age and as the first-born girl child, I thought it was my destiny.

On the day my mom transcended the earth, I was seven-years-old. On some level, childhood ended for me that day. Not because of anything anyone else said or did. Something just shifted within me. Suddenly, I was a girl who lost my mother; I witnessed my father lose the love of his life; and I had a younger brother and sister who needed a strong female figure.

It was paralyzing, but even then, as we all sat together in my parent’s room on Easter Sunday, after returning from watching “The Black Stallion Returns,” my warrior spirit awakened. I could feel her coursing through my veins. I became a warrior with a definitive time clock.

But, really, what did I know of such things?

Those who knew me didn’t know of this demon thought that danced through my being. It wasn’t really a belief that I wore on my sleeve but it was one that flowed freely through the internal highways of my psyche.

I remember the insecurities that plagued my childhood existence; the worries of nuclear war or some other catastrophic event; the paranoia of questioning whether or not people liked me; and the constant worrying about whether or not my dad would make it home after work.

Basically, the typical mind spinning of a wounded girl with a fear of further abandonment.

For the first few years, I searched for reassurances, incessantly asking people for answers to the questions that fueled my insecurities; questions to which people could never know the true answers. I somehow found myself caught in the cross fire of being a child in love with life and melting in purgatory.

Fiery yet frozen.

And then, one day, the chattering stopped.

I had no idea what was going on at the time, but my old soul infused my being and turned my outward fears into a wise, lone wolf. There was a calmness that emanated from my core. I turned my attention outwards towards helping and loving others. I stayed away from relationships that had the potential of penetrating my protective walls. I focused on giving and fought any instinct to receive.

After all, I was a warrior with a definitive time clock.

So, I went through my life. I did all the “right” things; excelled in school, played sports, dabbled in the arts; went to law school. Consciously rushed through phases and experiences when I really wanted to slow down and savor the deliciousness of the moment. I had crushes on unavailable people that quickly ended as soon as there was a possibility that they might like (or even love) me in return. This I did over and over again. I was resolute in never being the person who could devastate the heart of another.

Especially, since I was going to die when I was 33.

The years went by and I was mostly happy. Sometimes, my lone wolf cave seemed dark and lonely but I had ways to bring in the light when I needed it. I would just give a little more or lament a bit louder. Just little things to quiet my inner voice and make me feel “normal.”

As I moved closer to my late 20’s, my energy inevitably shifted. My angel, fairy, ninja, goddesses gathered together and devised a plan to shake me out of the psychological prison that I’d built around myself. My intuition began speaking to me in a language that resonated with my entire being.

I saw energy.

I felt the fiery heat of my passions.

I found my purpose.

And, when I was thirty-two, I fell deeply in love.

It was the kind of love that gives you chills even when you’re burning hot; it makes you want to run through the streets naked, while holding hands and giggling, exposing everything and holding back nothing; it makes you want to sit in your rawness and share every feeling, passion, thought and vulnerability without fear of judgment or being too much; it shows you the greatness of all you can be, individually and together. Most brilliantly, it nourishes the growth of superpowers.

And, through this experience of falling in love with another person, I also fell in love with myself. And it was sweet.

But, I was still a warrior with a definitive time clock. Or, was I?

I have to say that after “the fall,” the looming date of my 34th birthday lost some of its significance. I was so immersed in the beauty of being splayed open and feeling every brilliant moment that I had to be reminded of the encroaching deadline. And even then, I wasn’t afraid.

I guess true love really is magic. It offers a deeper knowing of yourself that you can only know by being in the middle of it.

The day of my birthday came and went and I’m still here six years later. And really, I see no more end dates. There are no more looming time-frames or deadlines. Most of the time, I’m caught up in the magical soup of child-like wonder and old soul wise-ness. It’s an incredibly healing and beautiful combination.

Everyday I am living, learning, growing, stretching, appreciating, laughing and loving. Always loving.

I don’t know if I’ll ever have children of my own, but I’m happy that the myth has been dispelled. Now, I revel in the knowledge that life is a precious box of beauty and surprises.

Photo: Marcus Gann/ Pixoto