You haven’t felt yet.
Give them time.
they are almost here.
Moon in Scorpio
Do you feel it? The river of tender knowings under the surface?
Last Sunday, I turned 36. And even though life does not look like what I imagined it would at this age — no house, no babies, no pets, no partner — I’m not ashamed of my years.
There’s a settledness that has arrived, a trusting in the unfolding. And in this resting, I’ve discovered something unexpected. By unwinding from expectations of how I should be, what I should have and how I should be living, I’m finding a celebration of what is.
It’s like bushwhacking through dense jungle in search of water while standing in a fresh, sparkling pool. If we could just stop looking ahead, we might find relief by simply looking around.
This relief is remembering that life doesn’t have to look like anything other than what it is. I don’t have to be anyone other than who I am. Everything is abundantly enough.
But this, the glittering pool I’m talking about, is the cool water of restoration. It is the ever-present antidote of enoughness. We lose it in our quest to “measure up” and find in the reclaiming of rooting down.
This aging process, for me, has been a journey of reconnecting to the person I’ve always been. It’s learning to let go of the stories and fear of judgment and instead trusting and cautiously bringing forth an unbridled me-ness.
I believe that this is what the world is asking of us. The house, the children, the robust social presence, the thriving business, the perfect partner — sure, fine — but this is not what we’re living for. Striving for only these results in a world that does not work.
Instead, we’re being asked to show up with our quivering me-ness as the only means for building a world based on authentic connection. It’s about love — for self and planet. I know, there’s that ubiquitous L word, but there’s just no beating around the bush here.
Sometimes this looks like “not knowing.”
Sometimes this looks like being “a late bloomer.”
Sometimes this looks like “not having your shit together.”
Sometimes this looks like not having “grown up.”
If you, like myself, sometimes feel “behind,” and worry that your unconventional existence may prove disastrous down the road, may I offer another possibility? What if you are really a trailblazer? The tip of the wave hurdling through space and in this journey paving the way for a more congruous, more alive way of living? How brave. How revolutionary.
TAP YOUR UNBRIDLED YOU-NESS
What are the practices that bring you to yourself? Make your energetic presence swell? Remind you that you are part of something?
I’m being brought to myself when I slow down. Walk instead of drive. Soak in the late afternoon light. Stop to smell things. Look up. Listen without racing ahead. Collect leaves. Write with an actual pen.
I’m on the right path when I feel a little scared. Before I press publish. Asking for support. Showing up at an event alone. Facilitating a group. Planning a workshop. Asking for what I’m worth. Making a boundary.
I am free when I let myself have “it.” Dancing in the front row. Wearing a tutu. Glittering myself. Reading my work allowed. Dressing by mood. Saying how I really feel. Savoring something delicious.
My heart is open when I drop my agenda. Observing strangers in moments of tenderness. Talking to my niece. Listening to a beautiful piece of music.
What are these practices for you?
These days “power” seems synonymous with money, violence and fear.
It conjures images of Wall Street greed, banker bailouts, Kim Jong-un, Putin and #45.
Rather than strategizing or bargaining for power (which is how I’ve believed it is obtained), I’ve actively done the opposite – admonishing and pushing it away.
Power? No, thank you.
I am compassionate.
I am a champion of the powerless!
I believe in humanity.
Actively seeking power has seemed in direct opposition to these ideas. Seeking power meant slithering into back rooms, turning a blind eye, conjuring dirty deals and peddling cheap goods. It meant selling out. If I am granted power it will come when I’m busy doing other things – things that have merited its arrival. Otherwise, I’m content to humbly toil.
Wednesday I found myself at the LinkedIn offices for an event promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It was titled, “We’ve Learned What Works!”
My first thought was, “really?!”
It’s been a challenging week.
My work of facilitating conversation and deep feeling around systemic racism continues in profound and heartbreaking ways.
I see how when discomfort arises we can fall back on familiar patterns of being, rooted in a hierarchical system.
I notice a tendency when things get tough for the most empowered in the group to insist that things are done another way, their way, the “right” way.
And no one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings or say, “the wrong thing.”
This includes me.
My body and I have not always been on the best of terms. For most of my life, ignoring the anxiety, fear and self-doubt that I faced in my day-to-day was a second full-time job. I constantly looked to my colleagues to determine which face to put forward in different settings. Work meeting? That’s confident, decisive Kelsey. Party? That’s friendly, open Kelsey. I became so adept at being the person I thought I was supposed to be, that I forgot who I really was. The anxiety, doubt and insecurity continued but I Hulu’d and Facebook’d these feelings away. I thought I was the problem. Everyone else seemed successful, confident and happy. If I tried harder, did the things they did, wore the right clothes, said the “cleverest” things, I would be happy too. Right? Wrong.
Grace lead me to a meditation practice. The first time I landed on the cushion, I encountered so much anxiety that I could not sit in the open, hands-on-thighs posture that was prescribed. Instead, what felt “safe” was to fold my arms across my chest and sit in a kind of hunched, protected fashion. There was much awareness that I was doing it “wrong” and, for a girl who’d spent much time imitating others, standing out in this way was painful, but I couldn’t help myself. After 5 minutes, I jumped up ready to do anything else. That was enough of that.
What does it mean to belong?
As a bi-racial woman, is it possible for all my many layers to truly feel welcomed in a white setting?
Who bestows this privilege and who takes it away?
This weekend I was reminded of my Blackness.
I traveled to the city for a workshop titled, “Opening the Heart & Mind of the World: Opportunities for Writers of Color,” hosted by The San Francisco Writers Conference. It was one of the few free events.
The conference took place at this hotel in Nob Hill – an area of the city that has long been the domain of the haves. During my climb up Powell Street, I was made immediately aware that each step brought me closer to the realm of wealth. The cars were European, peeks inside lit homes revealed sleek modern furniture, and on this Saturday night, well-heeled whites traveled in boisterous groups towards some area of fun that I could not fathom.
Upon entering the hotel, aside from the bellman and cleaning staff, most of the faces were white. As it had been some time since my last hobnob in the kind of place where doors are held open for you and a bounty of pens and notepaper are freely available for the taking, I was quite enjoying myself.
I did not know when I booked a trip to Hawaii in December that it would fall in the middle of so many important projects – each like a precious jewel requiring constant attention and regular polishing.
How could I put one down for a frivolous vacation? Yet, I’m not one to go back on my word or undo plans already set into motion, and a part of me knew I was being called to the island for some reason.
I thought this trip was about reclaiming my power.
I thought it was about learning to live with a broken heart.
But things are never what you think they will be.
“But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.” — Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Racism is about bodies.
It is a visceral reality that can be tasted, seen and felt.
And yet, as I devoured Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me, where the physicality of discrimination is honestly and vividly conveyed, I felt a curiosity arise in my own body. As a bi-racial girl who grew up in Utah, what was my physical experience of racism? The violence, ineffective schools and codes of the streets Coates describes of the Baltimore neighborhood of his youth, was not my reality. I grew up in an upper-middle-class white neighborhood. I was a cheerleader. Neighbors brought over bunts and peanut brittle during the holidays.
Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in the eyes of the Divine. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed … I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. –Thomas Merton
Things are incredibly sad here.
When I look at the sky some days it is piercingly blue, which seems a mockery to the state of it all. Other days, like today, it is a shroud, milk tainted by one drop of squid ink. I imagine the sun trudging across its congested home, sweating and exhausted. I can commiserate. The simplest things, throwing off the duvet this morning, assembling the ingredients for matcha, take more time than they should. Why bother?
This soft, dull light of today lulls me to disinterest. I want nothing but to continue laying in my warm bed daydreaming of another world that is warm, inviting and viscous with honey’d love. I’m drunk on love, floating contentedly in its golden sea. There’s nowhere to be, no other person to invite in. It’s all exactly enough.