Monthly Archives: January 2012


He got a hair cut.

He smells the same.

The table is huge.

The table is small.

I feel empty.

I am strong.

Lord, I don’t want to cry.


I could just-

reach across and take his hand.

A tiny, impossible act,

To cross a past a million miles away,

That all happened yesterday.

How strange, the choices we made.


I feel close.

He is so far.

I know him exactly.

I knew him exactly.

Now, I have no idea if he is okay.

I am lost in the future, long, divergent.

Nothing exists outside of this moment.

I will remember this always.

What will I recall?


I could change it all with one word.

A word I will never, ever say again.

Could we have predicted this?

It could never have been any other way.

And that is the truth,

Its seeds buried since that first hello.



Finally.  It resolves.

There is nothing else,

But goodnight.

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Ripping Away the Band-Aid of TV

For about four months, I did not have a TV.  I was also in the middle of a lot of changes (new apartment, new job, ending of a relationship, living alone for the first time in a while).  Suddenly, everything became very new.  And not having a TV in the middle of that newness was another element that woke me up to what the present moment actually felt like.

Before, a typical routine (when I didn’t go out) would go something like this.  Come home to my floor-plan B apartment on the top floor of a managed building (complete with carpet and sound-proofed walls).  Put on pajamas, get food, and turn on TV.  For just a little bit.  A little bit would turn into an hour, while I watched whatever reality show happened to be on.  Get caught up in the drama on the screen.  My partner would get home and we would cuddle and chat and then next thing I knew it would be time for bed.

The way I come home over the past four months has been very different.  I moved to the top floor of a duplex in Manhattan Beach.  It feels like such a big, creaky space, with high wooden ceilings and full of the smell of ocean air.  I open the door, and take off my shoes.  Feel my feet on the hardwood floor as I walk across the living room.  Listen to the wind rip across the roof, and the neighbors play music across the street (no sound-proof walls).  Get into pajamas.  Pause.  Then, maybe . . . get food, write, or read.  Feel that small moment when I crawl into bed and realize I am not waiting for anyone else.

As I get re-adjust to life in all of its little ways, I have done it without the band-aid of having a TV.  I kind of miss it.  But TV enables an automatic life.  It lets you come home and skip right past all of the bumpy parts, and instead watch someone else tough it out (or pretend to live life, at least).  Without it, I have had to come face-to-face with some pretty empty times.  Sometimes, I have felt like I have nothing to fill them with.  I am just alone.  No partner and no TV.  But other times, something quiet and beautiful emerges, and I happy to be alive.  Or I feel inspired to create something.  For example, I have (re)-discovered how much I like to write.

I recently got a TV again, and a roommate.  Part of me is drawn to just . . . flipping that switch . . . and getting sucked back into a “comfortable” routine.  Especially when that comfort lets me ignore the  part of me that really wishes I had someone coming to bed with me.  But I like staying alive, and vulnerable, and awake.  I like not having a set, mindless routine.  So I will try and keep my TV for movies (small concession for the Bachelor and roommate time), and life–new, uncertain, sometimes empty–for me.

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the story of his life

across the worn lunch table,
divided by a thin line of skin,
i witness this defeated man
he has fooled into being.(but i still see him)he tells me his favorite stories
the ones that explain why
he is allowed be so scared.about the high school girl who left his love letter closed,
and the opera singer that married another man,
the lesbians who fill him with food,
with his old joke about moses and the promised land.

today, he says
he only buys love
and pretends that he tries to please them
while he softly whispers
that he never can.

when his words run out
he waits for me to reassure him
and agree that he has no choice
about what comes out of his mouth.

instead i thank him for sharing
all i can do is listen
hoping that one day he hears
what he is telling himself.

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Traveling at Home

I love to travel, and have gone a fair number of places in my life.  Mexico, Cuba, Peru, Chile, Nicaragua, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Holland, Hawaii, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Bahamas, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, St. Lucia, Anguilla.  I might be missing a few, but you can tell it is a pretty good list.

One of my favorite parts about traveling is going to a place where your expectations no longer apply, and you walk into the world fully aware that each moment is new.   This can be a physical revelation . . . like the luminescent microorganisms in the waters in Puerto Rico, that sent off waves of sparkles in the dark waters as I swam at night.  Or like the amazing heaviness of life in the Amazon jungle, where the air was so thick with nutrients that trees’ roots hovered three feet off of the ground.  The shock of life can also come as a social revelation . . . like in Vietnam, where on a river-boat cruise to Cambodia I waved to people living in stilted houses on small patches of sand.  Or in Brazil (ahh…Brazil) where I attended a neighborhood African-Brazilian spiritual ceremony, and the kids, and grandmothers, and fathers all gathered to drum and sing the ancient Yoruban gods into their cement-floored living room, with the TV pushed to one side.

This is the first year in a long time I cannot take any extended vacations outside of the United States.   It is all good though . . . as much as I want to be in a tropical location sipping rum out of a coconut, I can still expand my mind at home.  The truth is that the world can be as small or as big, as boring or as crazy, as I let it be.  As my Tantra teacher Charu loves to say, “Stop being clever.  Accept the fact that you know nothing.”  If I think I have already discovered all there is to know at home, then I have.  If I accept the hypothesis that the world can blow my mind, then it will.

Case in point at the Tantra workshop this weekend.  I had watched Charu demonstrate some of the exercises, and part of me thought:  “Well that is great for her, but that will never happen for me.”  I didn’t think it was “possible.”  So we start doing one of the breathing exercises, and my partner and one of the teachers are telling me to let go, to stop trying to make sense of it, to let chaos control.  And I hear myself think:  “I can’t do it!  It won’t work.”  I heard that voice, remembered what Charu said, and told myself: you know what:  “What do I know?  Why not just see what happens?”  And the moment I gave up my idea of what I thought was possible… I had an amazing experience of kundalini energy snaking its way through my body.  It happened in a big industrial loft in the middle of Culver City, right in my own backyard.  And it was like nothing I have ever experienced before.  I do not understand it.  I am humbled by it.  And I am alive with the idea that whatever I think life is about is much, much smaller than the truth.

That’s a big jump into the world of the possible.  But there are small jumps too, that can be just as important.  For example, this Monday I went down to my favorite neighborhood cafe to grab a quick breakfast.   I was alone and I brought my book.  While I was in line waiting to order, I saw two guys that I thought looked interesting.  And I thought, I wonder what their deal is?  My usual expectation was that I would walk out of the restaurant never knowing.  But a part of me said: I want to talk to them, and I believe I can.  Next thing you know, the only open seat is at the table next to them, and they end up asking me about the eggs.  I used that chance to start a conversation.  Turns out one of them is a poet, and the other lives in the neighborhood.  So, two new friends.  In the end, I walked out of that cafe having had a totally different time than what I expected when I first walked in with my book, because I was open to the experience.

So I am going to keep on practicing to stop being so clever.  Remember that I know nothing.  (Yes, back to Buddhism… in the beginner’s mind there are a world of possibilities… in the expert’s mind there are few.)  I look forward to amazing travels close to home.  I have no idea what to expect.

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Dating Adventures

Becoming more clearly aware of emotions and life situations and the space in which they occur might open us to a still more panoramic awareness.  A compassionate attitude, a warmth, develops at this point.  It is an attitude of fundamental acceptance of oneself while still retaining critical intelligence . . . Emotions are as they are, neither suppressed nor indulged but simply acknowledged . . . [T]he precise awareness of details leads into an openness to the complex totality of situations.  —Ocean of Dharma: The Everyday Wisdom
of Chögyam Trungpa
, quote 149.

So as I have been turning the corner into 2012, I have been going on lots of dates.  This is a new experience for me.  And when I say new, I mean that my dating life can be summarized in about three phases.  First, High School in a Small Town.  Then–lasting seven years–College Boyfriend.   After two months of singledom, five years with the Ex.

To put this all together, the last time I truly dated was . . . never.  So here I am writing these vibrant posts about opening up to pleasure, and it turns out that in one very real and concrete way I am kind of new to what that means.  Not only that, but despite all of these guys I have been meeting, none of them have gone anywhere.   I just keep on finding myself thinking.. nice guy…great friend…attractive even…but no.  It is not like I am looking for a relationship.  The opposite, I want to stay single.  But while I am saying no, my recently-single guy friends are hooking up left and right.

So I started to wonder–am I really saying yes to life and pleasure?  Or am I holding back?  (total Sex in the City transition, I know…cue voice-over and Mac laptop)

I have sat with this question for a few days, and I what I have realized is that I am a bystander to a fight between two imaginary chicks.  On one side stands: Amazing Liberated Sexy Woman.  And on the other side of the  ring is: Self-Doubting Never-Dated Girl.   It is sort of funny to watch them duke it out.  I get all excited about Tantra… and my experience of higher bliss…and wham!  I convince myself I “should” be having full-body orgasms already and embodying the feminine divine.  But what if I can’t?  Or what if I don’t feel like being all deep, and just want to hang out, or get laid?  And then (as my Carrie voice mentioned above), I go back to the other extreme and think shit, I am scared!  I am afraid of being hurt.   I do not feel powerful in my body.   I can be awkward, and silly, and (insert not-goddess-like behavior here).

Of course, neither of these women is real.  But the way to deal with them is not to push them away or tell them they do not exist.  In fact, the more I resist them and pretend like I totally have it together, the stronger they become.  Back into the arrows-into-flowers practice.  I have to invite both of these illusionary ladies to tea.   I watch them.  I learn their funny tricks.   I listen to what they say.  The more comfortable I get acknowledging and sitting with them… the more I can laugh at how ridiculous and endearing they can be...and the more I realize they are not me.  Staying present during this internal tug-of-war allows me to step outside of it and be free.

What is the truth of where I am at?  I am strong and scared.  I want connection and space. I can be awkward and full of grace.   I am me and more.  When I let things be real and complex, I stop trying to force anything to be something it is not.   And–paradox of all paradoxes–I get where I want to be, which is creating a space for true connection and life to come through me.  Who knows what life will bring me . . . a super-intense deep experience, or a physical one just cause I feel like it.   In fact, the couple of connections I have had so far happened without too much thought, and they were fun.   When I stop feeling limited by definitions and false dichotomies, I can approach dating like what is supposed to be–an adventure.

When I think back to my original awakening experience at the Tantra workshop, this is exactly the heart-space where it came from… I wasn’t worried about what experience I was going to have…I accepted that some part of me was a bit nervous…and I just went for it.  What all of this brings me to is the beautiful lesson that opening to pleasure and connection is really less about opening to others than it is about opening to (and loving) my own messy, human, real self.

Any other women or men out there share similar struggles with self-judgment (in the area of sexuality/dating or anything else)?  Was this story helpful to you?  Questions?  Share your comments below….:)

With love,


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Being Seen

i can be beautiful
and you can be strong

a woman
without apologies
boy turned man,
the heart-remembered way

illusionary outskirts,
we are in the center
life will come through

i accept your gaze
in full glory
the second slips away, again
leaving everything new

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Opening to Pleasure

So the last two posts were about working through and accepting a difficult experience.  This post is about opening up to pleasure, an important part of my current journey.  I love how life’s lessons are so balanced.  🙂  I am also going to talk a bit about the inspiration for the name Threedeelife (although I have put some more thought into it since then, and will add more later).

Alright, so what do I mean–opening up to pleasure?  The funny thing is that just as people have a hard time experiencing pain, we also have a hard time fully opening up to pleasure.  This may take a bit to sink in . . .like, wait, I love pleasure.  I have no trouble enjoying food, sex, love, ect.  That’s what we think.

What I have learned is that what we ordinarily experience as pleasure is a small, contracted form of the larger bliss that is open to us.  Years of living in society have given us a shell/armor/cocoon/posture/persona that makes it hard for us to access this deeper place.  Sometimes we are aware that we carefully manage and control our experiences–even the good ones–so as not to rock the boat or let others get too close.  In other instances, we do not even realize that our usual way of doing things is just one way of approaching life, with predictably limited results.  Women can have an especially difficult time experiencing pleasure because of past trauma or society’s judgmental double-standard.  Men can have particular trouble escaping macho stereotypes and being truly present and vulnerable.  How often do we really open to vibrant, alive, joy?

I am beginning to learn more about my relationship with pleasure through Tantric workshops and practices with Charu Morgan, of Embody Tantra.  (Check out her webpage here!)  Charu is a dynamic, tender, and caring Tantra teacher, and highly recommended.  Plus, she is funny and down-to-earth.  She attracts a great group of interesting people who are usually already on a spiritual path.

So, people ask me:  what is Tantra exactly?  The basis for Tantra is the text of the Vignana Bhairava Tantra, which contains 112 meditation techniques delivered by Lord Shiva to his consort Devi.  The techniques include breathwork, chanting, and visualization practices.  (There are actually only five meditation techniques that use touch!)  These practices gradually open us to ourselves, as well as sensual pleasure and intimacy with another person, as rungs on a ladder to merging with the Divine.

Second question I often get: what does a Tantra workshop involve?  Many of the exercises are simple, but run deep.  For example, in a recent workshop the men and women partnered up (you can attend  Tantra workshops with a partner or by yourself).  The first part of each partnering (no talking) was to make eye contact and bow.  (Side note: It is amazing how deeply I crave the very simple act of being seen and appreciated.  I think this is a craving many women feel.)  In each partnering, we explored a practice based on the elements, or different senses.  In one of my favorites, the men imagined that they were standing on the edge of the ocean.  The women became the ocean…feeling the ebb and flow of water as part of themselves..and then allowed their body to follow and express that movement…and then finally transmit that energy to the men through touch… as if the waves were lapping against them.   I felt beautiful during this exercise, and very connected to my partner.  Another amazing exercise (and one that is directly linked with continuous whole-body orgasms), is the fire breath.  It involves a curving and contraction of the spine, linked with your breath and pelvic muscle work, while holding onto your parter.  (Good tip: do not practice fire-breath while driving… even you are bored and traffic is slow.  Trust me on this.)

The name of this blog–Threedeelife–was inspired by a two-day Tantra workshop I participated in during this past fall/winter.  During one exercise, I started to feel this strange power running through my body–not even so much sexual, although it was pleasurable–but just unknown and much bigger than me.  It sort of felt like my body was a computer I had been using as a paperweight, and I suddenly discovered that it could turn on and be used to access the Internet.  What was this!?!  Why did I not know my body could do this?

The exercise was intense, but what was amazing was what came afterwards.  For the next week or two, I experienced this very deep, rooted connection with the present moment.  I also experienced a sensual experience for life.  The wind in my hair.  The sunshine through the window.  Finally, my own light and vibration was watted-up.  I ran a mile faster than I normally do in the gym.  Several friends commented that I was glowing.

That experience–(no doubt made possible in part by my heart-opening from fully embracing the pain of my breakup!)–inspired this blog’s name.  When we are in a contracted state, avoiding both pleasure and pain, life is two-dimensional.   We stay small.  We avoid the lows, but the highs as well.  We do not grow.  When we are in an open, receptive state–when we say YES to life, whatever it may bring, we begin to let a larger power move through us.  We tap into a vibrant and joyful energy, and become aware of an amazing richness to life.  My journey right now is about consciously opening my body, mind, and heart, so I continue to experience that third, ALIVE dimension to everyday life.  Threedeelife!!

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Turning Arrows into Flowers

Alright 2011, here is the last of you.  The second half of my story about my breakup begins on the night when I learned some information that answered my request for a clear sign as to whether to stay or to go.  I had to go.  That night, I ran down to the ocean in my pajamas and spent an hour listening to the waves (not a huge trek, I live four blocks from the beach).  Then, I came back up to my apartment and spent about half the night in my car.  The last half of the night, I spent on the couch.  I was in pain and wanted to be alone, but thought I was pretty pulled together, considering.  Looking back, I think I was in a bit of shock.

The next morning, I headed out for the last day in a three-day Buddhist meditation weekend retreat with the Eagle Rock Shambhala Center.  I got to the Center and got into the breakfast line.  Still relatively pulled together.  Someone said hi.  And I lost it, in the morning sunshine, trying to put a damn bagel in the toaster.  I just broke down into big, sobbing tears.  Someone was kind enough to immediately ask the leader of the retreat if she would meet with me quickly before we began the day.  This wonderful woman pulled up a chair facing me in her small office, and listened to me pour my heart out.  She hugged me.  And then she sent me out to sit.  Buddhists are great listeners, but they are not there to take you away from your experience.  God bless.

For the next six or so hours, I did two things.  I felt my pain, and I watched my response to my own pain.  What I noticed as I sat there was that every time the pain got really uncomfortable, I would want to do one of three things.  First, I would want to “blame” my ex-partner.  I would feel these huge surges of anger and resentment well up.  That got me the momentary relief of “pushing” the pain away from me, towards him.  The second thing way I would react would be to blame myself.  I would feel intense remorse and sadness and shame.  I would then beat myself up.  This got me the momentary relief of punishing myself for the pain I was feeling.  The third thing I would do would be to try and avoid the pain altogether by ignoring it.  Again, it was a passing relief of “stuffing” the pain away.

I realized each of these three reactions were just different ways to avoid pain.  So I began to consciously try another way of relating to my pain.  I sat right in the middle of it, without pushing, pulling, or burying it out of sight.  I didn’t blame him.  I didn’t blame me.  I didn’t try and pretend I was not hurting.  I just felt it.  But more than felt it–I opened my heart to it.  This act of opening your heart to what you are feeling is sometimes called “creating space” around the pain.  It means that you access a part of you (or of Spirit, depending on how you view it) that is bigger than pain.  Love.  Love for yourself and the other person.

I began to perceive that being in pain is a completely different question than how you dealt with it.  If you handle it poorly, you add what Buddhists call “suffering” on top of the original hurt.  You are just floundering around, and drowning in your own hurt.  (Think of someone who, years after a break-up, is still vengefully obsessed with their ex.)  But if you confront pain directly, you process it cleanly, and can even open your heart.

There are two beautiful stories related to this practice that I would like to share.  First is one that I actually heard the day before all of this went down.  I was waiting for my private teacher interview and reading a book.  In the book, there was this story about this dude who went off to India and wad meditating and wasn’t really feeling it.  He was wondering how he could have a break-through.  Finally, he went back to his hut in frustration.  There, in the middle of the hut was a large rattlesnake.  This guy was petrified of snakes.  He was so afraid that he didn’t want to move.  He was worried that if he rushed towards it or away from it the snake would strike.  So he just sat there, and locked eyes with this snake for hours.  What he was really facing his own terror in a very direct and naked way.  There was no escape.  And a funny thing happened.  As the night gave way to day, his fear turned into total joy and gratitude.  As the morning sun came up, he rose, walked to the snake, and bowed in thankfulness.  The snake slithered away.

I remember that after I read this story, I went in to talk with the teacher and said, “Wow, I wish I had a snake to amp up my practice.”  Again, you get what you ask for.  After reading that story, I was able to understand that my own difficult experience could serve as a a spiritual teacher if I could face my own pain and fear without any filters.  And I began to understand how that practice could lead to joy and gratitude.

The second beautiful story is an oldie but goodie and one of my favorites.  The story is about that very important moment when Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree, determined to rid his mind of all confusion and finally reach enlightenment.  The god of illusion, Mara, decided to try and scare Buddha and get him to give up his seat from under the tree.  Mara sends his armies to go fire arrows at Buddha.  In response, Buddha did not attack.  He did not flee.  Instead, he said “I see you Mara, and I am not afraid!”  (Some stories even say Buddha invited Mara to join him for tea!)  Buddha held his ground.  As Mara’s arrows met the force of Buddha’s light, they turned to flowers and fell to the ground.

I kept on thinking of that story on that day.  I felt the companionship of Buddha holding his ground in love and light.  And every time something came up that threatened to “unseat me” I would say, I see you!  And I would try and meet it with my heart.

In the small group sessions that we held  towards the end of the afternoon, someone asked about Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s (the founder of Shambhala Buddhism) phrase “the genuine heart of sadness.”  They wanted to know what it meant.  I felt like I could now answer that question, because that was where I had been living all day.  My insight was this: the genuine heart of sadness is what you get when you allow yourself to tenderly meet pain without struggle.  Yes, there is sadness.  But that sadness is not scary anymore . . . instead, it fills you with love and strength.  It is a beautiful and tender place to be.

At the end of the day, I had made friends with my pain.  I felt like I had just weathered a storm and the seas had calmed.  I knew that I would be able to get through whatever came next.  What has happened since then?  More storms.  For me, unlike Buddha, this is not a one-shot deal.  I have had to meet my pain with love over and over and over again.  It comes in different forms.  Now, I am not struggling so much with the actual event, but I do struggle with loneliness and loss.  And there are other pains of life.  But now, I try and recognize them as opportunities to keep on practicing opening my heart and holding my ground.

With love,


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Today is a gorgeous, sunny start to 2012.  As I type this, I am sitting in a comfy leather chair overlooking the ocean from the balcony of my apartment. I got my slippers on, and some reggae playing.  Perfecto.  A great way to bring in the New Year.  (For the full effect, you can listen to some reggae jams along with me here  and here.)  Looking back, 2011 was a pretty wild year.  To put it mildly.  Some of you have asked me if I was going to write about some of the things that happened this past year.  I have been waiting for the right time, and today feels like the day.  Here it goes…

2011 was the year I got married.  It was a full-on, save-the-date, seating-chart, welcome-cocktail party, three-day affair in Tulum, Mexico.  It was a beautiful three days.  I had been together with my partner for five years.  We met in law school, and had a lot of mutual friends.  Eighty-five people celebrated our union in bare feet on the sand.  I truly believed I was committing to a lifetime with this person.  I loved him.

Four months later, I left him.

That still sounds crazy to me.  But it is real.  Out of respect for my former parter (we never legalized the marriage, so I struggle with the correct term… my ex?  my former symbolic husband?), I will not go into the details of why I found it necessary to leave.  I’ll simply say that he was not ready to get married, even though he wanted to be.  Were there warning signs?  In hindsight, yes.  Like the fact that he impulsively proposed to me in Greece, without buying a ring first.  Or that at the wedding, he went around telling everyone that he felt “more responsible already.”  And the fact that I spent a lot of energy in our relationship helping him to grow (yes, obviously that does not work).

Because he was not ready to get married, some pretty self-destructive behavior emerged about two months after the ceremony.  Front-line report from the trenches: it is entirely possible to love someone and also realize that your relationship is not healthy.  During the two months or so when things were really going downhill, I was living those two truths.  The only thing I could do was leave him, but I was not yet willing to do that.  I felt helpless, because I was.  I was stuck.

When I was in that helpless phase, this great thing happened.  I got a Buddhist meditation instructor.  I love how totally cheesy that sounds, but it is true–although not for the reason you might think.  We actually did no work on my meditation technique or practice. Our very first session, he simply asked me what was going on in my life.  I told him.  He said, “Holy shit, your life is a mess.”  And then he cracked up.  I laughed with him.  Holy shit, my life was a mess.

The homework he gave me was to pay attention to my life and get real about what was happening.  So I took all the energy I was using to worry, to plan, to hope, to argue…and I put it into bearing witness.  Sounds simple, but this was an amazing and deep practice.  Rather than trying to control a very difficult situation, I just let. it. be.  And I watched very carefully what was going on both externally, and internally.  I listened hard to what life was saying, instead of just nodding along and secretly thinking about what I wanted to do next.  You get a lot of clarity when you shut up.

I learned that his choices were not my fault.  I learned that I could not change him.   I learned that as much as he told me he wanted to change, his actions said a different thing.  And I learned that I was not crazy to feel sad, or scared.  Instead of running from these truths, or trying to make them be something else, I just felt the pain.  But it was a refreshing, simple pain, free from the tiresome and idiotic delusion that everything was my responsibility.  Along with the pain, I also felt more compassionate and tender, for both myself and him.

What came out of all of this listening was that I finally, truly accepted the fact that I might have to leave the relationship. I got unstuck.  Acceptance is a beautiful thing.  It is like this thing you have been fighting so hard against turns out to NOT be the end of the world.  When you stop fighting fear, you discover your own strength.

But feeling free to leave and actually leaving are two different things.  I still wondered whether the situation might get better.  So I consciously, and clearly, told Spirit:  “Look, if I am supposed to leave, just give me a sign.  I am ready to accept whatever is the right thing to do.”  I think when you ask from that completely surrendered space, Spirit will respond because it know you are ready to hear the truth.  I definitely got my answer.  More on that, how I handled it, and what else I learned, in the next post.

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you have a beautiful start to your year.


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