Author: Spirit and Bone

I Woke Up– Thoughts After the Election

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It has been a long week.  I have felt emotions and feelings this week I have never known.  But I have felt, and that is the victory.  In a patriarchal society that encourages us not to feel, to lock up our emotions, to medicate our pain away with drugs (prescribed and otherwise), shopping, food, sex, social media and binge T.V. actually allowing yourself to feel is an act of rebellion.  And in these times of upheaval and division that is where we must all begin.

Last Wednesday morning I woke up devastated from the results of Tuesday’s election.  What to me had seemed unthinkable and impossible had been made possible.  I was only prepared for one outcome of the presidential election – a historic one.  I WOKE up Wednesday morning.  I woke up to the realization that my beliefs and values are radically different than those held by many of my fellow Americans.  I woke up and saw a nation divided into red and blue.  I woke up to the fear and anger that had made a Trump presidency possible and the fear and anger that rose in myself and others as a result of his election.  I woke up to the pervasive presence of racism, sexism, fascism, misogyny and inequality in this country.  I woke up and realized we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.  I woke up to the truth.

And for that, I am filled with gratitude.

Here’s the thing about the truth – it is a line drawn in the sand that once crossed there is no going back.  I cannot unknow what I know now.  There is no going back.  There is nothing to go back to.  The only option is to move forward into the unknown and to shed the skin that no longer fits and to once again sit in the dark and feel all of my feelings.  But I am no longer afraid of the dark.  My darkest hours, my heartbreaks, my setbacks and let downs have been the very experiences that have brought forth and kindled my light.  In his beautiful letter to his daughter and wife, in response to the election, Aaron Sorkin rightly articulated what I know to be true, “America didn’t stop being America last night and we didn’t stop being Americans and here’s the thing about Americans: Our darkest days have always—always—been followed by our finest hours.”

I had expected that the election of our country’s first female president would be the catalyst for uniting Americans and pave the way for equality, for tolerance, and restore hope and love after a divisive campaign season.  Although this election did not result in the election of a female president I do believe that the results of this election will be the catalyst for uniting Americans- just not in the way I had expected.  We have work to do.  And the first step we must all take is to grant ourselves permission to feel all that we are feeling right now.  Allow yourself to fully experience your sadness, your rage, your uncertainty, your hope and your love.  Because we all need to show up as our highest selves to do this work.  You will be called to rise, to expand and to lead trough love not fear.

Take your time.  Take care of yourself so that when you are called on you can take care of others.  It all begins with you.  You have to feel in order to heal.  And you need to be able to declare yourself whole before you set to work on bringing forth a better world.  The greatest service you can offer the world is to step into who you truly are.  You don’t have to see the bright side just yet.  Allow yourself the time you need in the dark and while you heal and face your fears know that you are not alone. When you are ready turn on the light.  I believe in us.  And I truly believe that in the end love will always win out.  If it hasn’t just yet, than it is not the end.

“There can’t be a large scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level.  It’s gotta to happen inside first.” – Jim Morrison

Love Always,

lauren

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12 Ways to Celebrate the Spring Equinox

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Can you feel it? She’s coming. After months of frigid temperatures, gray skies and bare trees, spring is coming. Rebirth awaits. Living on the east coast where brutal winters are common place, spring is always the season whose arrival I anticipate the most. The official beginning of spring is tomorrow, March 20th and is the perfect cause for celebration.

Living seasonally can help you stay grounded in the present moment and allow you to tap into the themes each season presents. Spring ushers us into a time of renewal, rebirth, regrowth and regeneration. Rituals can be a fantastic way to celebrate transitions in the world and in our own lives. A ritual does not necessarily have to be elaborate or esoteric in nature. Anything could be a ritual when done with intention.

Here are 12 of my favorite ideas for welcoming the arrival of spring

  • Have a picnic even if it is inside. Sitting on the floor is grounding and connects you to the earth.
  • Where a dress or a skirt, even if you need to still ward off winter’s chill with tights.
  • Get outside and go for a walk.
  • Sit or lay down on the earth.
  • Bring the outside in by decorating your table with fresh flowers or a new green plant.
  • Take a bath with sea salt and light white candles to symbolize rebirth
  • Eat seasonally. Prepare a special spring meal full of seasonal foods like asparagus, peas, spinach strawberries, eggs (if you eat them) even some jelly beans are fair game. After all, they are seasonal.
  • Enjoy water infused with fresh herbs and fruit
  • Begin working on some spring cleaning to make room for the new.
  • Where white. According to some it’s not deemed acceptable to wear white until Memorial Day, but to me nothing screams spring like wearing white. Go on, be a rebel.
  • Cover that pasty winter skin with a faux tan glow.
  • Journal about your intentions and goals for the next three months. What in your life could use transforming? What needs to fall away? In what ways are you seeking growth?

However, you choose to celebrate this magical time of light and growth I hope this season reminds you of the awakening and transformation that is available to us all.

with love and daffodils,

lauren

MY LIFE FELL APART–AND I’VE NEVER BEEN HAPPIER

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Marina Abramovic

Next week I will be celebrating the two year anniversary of my life falling apart.   My life has seemingly fallen apart and back together several times.  I’ve had huge career changes, identity upheavals, I’ve sold everything I owned and moved to a foreign country, and returned from said foreign country with nothing but a broken heart and an impending divorce. I am no stranger to change. But the devastation two years ago was different.  This was a spiritual tsunami that would wash away every remnant of who I thought I was.  There would be no going back.  There was nothing to go back to.  I had unknowingly entered my “dark night of the soul.”

I had just celebrated my 30th birthday when I became physically sick.  I was continuously sick for over 18 months.  Having been blessed with a strong immune system I rarely ever got sick and on the rare occasions when I did catch a little something it never lasted longer than a week.  But this time despite the numerous medications, doctor’s visits, and home remedies I couldn’t heal.

Somewhere along the way my dear friend mentioned in passing the work of Carolyn Myss.  Not knowing anything about this woman or her work I googled her.   And instinctively I knew I was meant to read Anatomy of the Spirit.  I devoured the book and I knew then that my illness was not purely physical. Consciously or unconsciously our psychology influences and affects or physiology.  As Christane Northrup has said, “my soul was using my body to get my attention.” It was begging to be heard and acknowledged.

But if I am one thing, it is painfully stubborn.  I don’t learn easily.  Gentle nudges do not generate any traction from me.  So I dug my heels in.  I was not about to release my long held beliefs of a world without god, or my resentments, or my ideas about who I was and what I was here to do and accomplish.  But the Universe just laughed at my attempt to control and resist what was happening

The Universe: Oh, that’s cute.  You still think you’re in control.

Me: I am in CONTROL!  I have free will and I’m not buying into any of your woo woo.  I was trained to think like an academic.  I worship at the alters of logic and reason.  You can’t change me.

The Universe:  It has already begun.   Your petulant resistance has left me no choice but to do this the hard way.  I’m sorry dear one, but it’s time for you to wake the f*ck up.

Me: Ha!

While still battling illness, I entered into the darkest mental and emotional place I’ve ever known.  This was no ordinary depression.  I found myself asking some really uncomfortable questions like: “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” “What is the purpose of life?” “Is there even a purpose?”  “Is this it…?”  Every vestige and reminder of who I had been was stripped away including the need and desire to write.  Writing had literally saved my life several times before when I found myself clutched by depression.  Even during times in my life when I actually had nothing, no money, no phone, or job, or belongings of my own, or contact with any kind of support system, I had writing.  And that singular act, the need to create, gave me a reason to keep going, to keep living.  No matter what else had been taken away from me I was always a writer.  They could not take away my need to bleed words onto a page.  But then they did.  I was lost, my identity thieved from me along with my dreams for the future, my beliefs, and my motivation to do anything. I no longer knew who I was or what I was supposed to be doing.  It felt very much like this, except I still had an overwhelming desire to live despite not knowing what that looked like anymore.

Then I gave up or rather I gave it over.

 Wilted into a heap on my boyfriend’s bathroom floor with tears silently gushing down my face I surrendered.  Whether or not it was a prayer, I don’t know.  But it was a white flag waving.  “I surrender.  I surrender.  I surrender.  I surrender all this struggle and hurt and loss to you, Universe.  Whatever is happening to me let it be done.  But now, please show me what to do.”  And slowly, in very subtle ways, I was shown.

I started praying.  I had never prayed before and I was still unsure who or what I was praying to, but somehow each morning, before my meditation practice, I found myself on my knees, asking for help.  I started asking for teachers, for healers, for gurus, anyone who might be able to help me.  And one by one they showed up.  I learned that the only way forward was to go within.  I began to see that the struggle, the getting lost, the losing yourself was an essential part of growth.  There was no bypassing it.  It’s only when you’re lost that you begin to search for the way home.

The decision to surrender, to be uncomfortable, to put my faith in uncertainty was the bravest choice of my life.  It just so happens it was also the defining moment of my life.  My journey of awakening began the moment I surrendered.  Until then I never knew the strength and courage it takes to truly let go.

Most people don’t go there.  It’s not comfortable.  And it’s a lot of hard fucking work.  Soul work.  You have to mine the gold from within and in the beginning the moments of light to guide you onward may be fleeting.  But it’s worth it.  The morning will come.  You will wake up to all that you are.  And when you do it will be the beginning of everything.

My desire is that this space and my own search may be of service to you while you find your way home no matter where you happen to be on your journey.  You do not walk alone.

All love,

lauren

Happy New Moon in Libra

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The New Moon in Libra follows in the shadow of the fall equinox.  The new season and New Moon allow for a fresh start and new manifestations.  Release the past and focus on moving into the future implementing the inner work that has unfolded these last months.  We are moving into the final quarter of the year.  The mellow and balancing energies of this New Moon provide the opportunity to review where this year has taken you and contemplate where it is you want to go.  This lunation provides the ideal reprieve for finding balance, harmony, and unity in ourselves and in others.  May this Libra New Moon and new season usher forth a new you, new possibilities, and new ways of thinking.  For more astral insights on the Libra New Moon check in with Mystic Mama.

wishing you love, manifestations, and transformations,

lauren

Happy Fall Equinox! September 22, 2014

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Today in the Northern Hemisphere marks the fall equinox. The equinox is the point where the Earth’s rotation produces equal hours of daylight and darkness. After today we will slowly be slipping into longer evenings and shorter days. Celebrating and living with nature’s cycles reminds us of our own individual and internal cycles. The change from summer to fall has always felt the most dramatic to me. Maybe it’s the leaves changing colors, or the layering on of clothes over once naked skin. The crisp air of fall ushers in a new season and a new cycle. The equinox marks the time for gathering the final harvest of the season. This time of year is perfect for reflecting on our own harvests. How have we grown this year? Where has our inner journey taken us? This is a time of year for gratitude, reflection, and celebration. Compiled below are a few suggestions for celebrating the autumnal equinox.

Practice Yoga
Today nature is in balance with equal hours of daylight and darkness. Find a place of balance within you by stepping on to your mat for yoga practice. Focus on asanas that make you feel connected to the Earth and grounded. Mountain pose, warrior I and II, child’s pose, and of course tree pose are all good places to start.
Have a Seasonal Meal
Decorate your table with natural objects found in nature such as leaves, apples, grapes, feathers, and pumpkins. Plan a meal that is in accordance with the seasons. Focus on either finishing up the last of summer’s produce or celebrating the delicious fruits and vegetables of fall. I am a sucker for anything featuring pumpkin or butternut squash. Wild mushroom ravioli with butternut squash sauce anyone?
Practice Gratitude
The harvest is a time of recognizing abundance. Give thanks for all that has come into your life this year, the good and the challenging. All has been instrumental in your growth. Practicing gratitude changes your outlook on everything. A gratitude jar is a great way to remember the harvest’s abundance throughout the season.
Tie Up Loose Ends and Plant New Seeds
Fall is a time of beginning to turn inward. Use this season to finish up projects with loose ends before the year comes to a close. The longer hours of darkness provide the perfect opportunity for contemplative work. Sit in stillness through meditation and reflect on what new seeds can be planted in your life. Use this time to prepare for new beginnings.
Celebrate Light
Shorter days are on the horizon. Celebrate the glory of light by turning your face skywards to the sun or performing some sun salutations. Light candles to create a cozy environment. Perhaps you may consider eating or sitting by candlelight alone. This would create the opportunity to sit with and celebrate both the light and the darkness. Practice finding the beauty in cycles- life and death-light and dark.
Spend Time in Nature
Winter will have us bundled up inside soon enough. Take advantage of these glorious crisp days. Breathe in fresh air tinged with the smoke of fires. Feel leaves crunch beneath your feet. Spend time in nature watching fall slowly unfold.

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

with love and pumpkins,

lauren

Enjoy the Journey

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I try to teach what I need to learn. And lately I have needed to learn about journeys. I have needed to hear that life’s path is not linear. Often times in my quest to understand something, or to acquire a new skill, I focus on the result. For several months now I have been in a place that I can only describe as a dark night. I feel myself unraveling and no longer certain of many things I once strongly believed to be true. And I have been so focused on finding answers that I have overlooked the process of the journey and the small changes that happen daily. I’m trying to release the results. When I ask myself, “If it were possible, would you rather have the answer right now or the journey?” I always choose the journey. I’m not ready to have the answers yet, but the Universe is kind and has given me some incredibly inspiring stories to remind me that your life can change at any moment. And just when you think you have the job you always wanted or the house you’ve always dreamed of you find something unexpected, something that calls you, and it’s only then that you begin walking the path you were always meant to be on. As I’ve said before, I believe stories are medicine and they hold incredible potential for transformation and healing, so I want to share a few stories with you.

Your Ronnie Dunn is Out There
Recently a friend of mine shared the following story with me: My friend’s sister-in-law works for a media conglomerate and was on assignment in Nashville for the Country Radio Seminar. Prior to her arrival she had been in correspondence with Kix Brooks of country music super duo Brooks & Dunn. At the mention of the name Kix Brooks I was hooked. I was raised on country music and to this day it courses through my veins.  Her phone calls with Kix resulted in an invitation to attend a gathering he was hosting on his tour bus. She arrived in Nashville, got on the tour bus and cruised around the city with Kix Brooks. They got to talking and their conversation lead to how he met his musical partner Ronnie Dunn. Kix revealed that he didn’t meet Ronnie until he was 37. There was a whole other life before Brooks & Dunn. This stopped my friend’s sister-in-law in her tracks. She herself was on the cusp of 37 and she replied, “You mean my life may have not even started yet? That my Ronnie Dunn is still out there?” To which Kix replied, “Yes.”

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Be a Pilgrim and Trust Your Path
I recently listened to a fantastic podcast from On Being with author Paulo Coelho. You may be familiar with the name Paulo Coelho through his beloved book, The Alchemist. The Alchemist has been read by millions and spent over 300 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List. However, for Paulo Coelho it also could have been entirely possible that such a book would never exist. In 1986 Coelho set out alongside his teacher to walk the road of Santiago de Compostella, 500 miles beginning in France and ending at the cathedral in Spain. At first he was resistant to the daily walking, thought nothing would come of it, and by the end of the journey was shedding tears of sadness when it was over. Through the physical pilgrimage of walking the road to Santiago he was preparing the way for the internal pilgrimage that would unfold. After completing the 500 mile journey he decided to follow his lifelong dream. He would change paths, burn bridges, and become a writer. He was 40 years old, he was married, he had a life. But he couldn’t ignore the calling so he wrote his first book, which was then followed by The Alchemist, but success did not follow its publication. The book didn’t sell and he lost his publisher. But he was so convinced of his path that he hustled to find a new publisher. And then nothing happened. Former President Bill Clinton read the book. Nothing happened. Madonna raved about the book in interviews. Nothing. It took 15 years for The Alchemist to show up on the New York Times Bestseller List, where it remained for over five years.

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Listen to Your Heart and Adjust Your Sails
This week the academic office in which I work hosted a series of programs for incoming university students and transfer students. The program was designed to help students navigate their own path to success by having a panel of professors and faculty share their tips and tricks. I was not looking forward to working this event since it meant that I would have a 13 hour work day, but the Universe made it very clear I was meant to be there. You would think that the path to becoming a professor is pretty straight forward. I thought so anyway, especially since at one point that was my path. But when the panel of professors began speaking to the students about their own journeys I was shocked to hear panelist, after panelist, tell stories about their lives before academia. They were engineers, business owners, wives, and mothers, immigrants, and lawyers and at various points in their lives their hearts lead them down a new path. It lead them to additional degrees in other fields, out of corner offices and into classrooms. And as they talked I couldn’t help but smile and try to control my urge to laugh. “Thank you Universe. I hear you; you can stop yelling.”

My new mantra: The journey is my home.

with love,

lauren

Peachy Green Smoothie

Peachy Green Smoothie

I made this delicious smoothie a few days ago.  Not only is it full of fruits and veggies it also packs a protein punch with over 17grams of plant based protein.  The Peachy Green is a combination of spinach, unsweetened almond milk, peaches, banana, raspberries, hemp seeds, chia seeds, a splash of Madagascar vanilla extract, and a pinch of cinnamon.  While spinach is the veggie super star of this green smoothie, there are some other powerful ingredients you may not be as familiar with.

Chia seeds are an ancient Mayan and Incan superfood. In fact, the Mayan word for strength is chia. These little beauties were so valuable they were once used as currency and fueled warriors in battle. Chia seeds are rich in omega 3’s even more so than flax seeds and unlike flax seeds they don’t have to be ground in order for your body to access the nutrients. They are also a complete protein. A complete protein is one that contains all 20 amino acids including the 9 essential ones. Chia seeds are antioxidant power houses and are an excellent source of fiber. Oh, and one tablespoon has more calcium than a glass of milk.

Hemp seeds or, hemp hearts as they are called in their shelled state, are a great source of plant based protein. You may just now being hearing about hemp seeds but they have been grown and consumed around the globe for thousands of years. Like chia seeds they are also a complete protein and easily digestible. 3 tablespoons provide 10 grams of protein. But the wonders of this superfood don’t stop there. It had the ideal 3:1 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6. In fact, it contains the highest botanical source of essential fatty acids. It’s also a great source of fiber. They have a light nutty taste and can easily be blended into smoothies or oatmeal or used to top soups, salads, roasted veggies, or added to granola. And no, it cannot make you high. High on energy, but that’s it.

Peachy Green Smoothie

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 of a frozen bannana

1tbsp of chia seeds

3tbsp of hemp hearts

2 cups of spinach

1/2 to 1 whole peach (I used just a half)

1/4 cup raspberries

1 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract

1 tsp of cinnamon or according to taste

Add all ingredients in  blender and blend until smooth.

To your health,

lauren