The Challenge of a Creative Life

It has been MONTHS since I've written to you here in this soft space.  Thank you for gently awaiting my return. I so appreciate you are here.

Much has been aflutter during my blogging pause.  Much.  I took a moment of hiatus because I became present to something from my past that needed attention and honoring.  An incomplete project that called my focus.  

Right after Ella Pearl was born, I was suddenly given the gift of inspiration.  I created a program, I named Manifestation Mastery.  While today the title of it no longer resonates ("mastery" is sooooo masculine and "manifestation" was a word of the time, but today is a bit yesterday), the concepts created and lessons learned felt still very robust and needing air once again.  So in these past months I have been working with the words, wisdom, and teachings of eight years ago.  Simmering, stewing, and enhancing them.  Today, after all these years of motherhood -- the ultimate in creative projects -- I am enjoying the process of infusing the wisdom of past with the harvest of motherhood, new experience, and maturity.

These old, but new bits are being transformed into a book.  And books require love, so I've been giving this new book my mother sunshine.

Thus I've been away, but still very present.  The door has been closed to the little Radiant100 cottage, but the warmth of creative fire still burns present within.  

Today, I felt, for absolutely no reason and with no planning or thinking, a simple desire to write here.  Not on my book, not on my new business projects, but here.  And for just a moment.  Visiting you, my friend, for a lunch date, knowing we may not see each other again for what could be a few months again.  But enjoying our connection heartily here and now.

This is, I suppose the great challenge of a creative life.  Allowing space for creation to come, pause, sprout again, and grow.  Allowing things to complete in their best time.  (Best is a carefully chosen word.  Not "right" or "perfect" or "desired."  But "best.")  Sometimes our creations require mad passion.  Other times, it's  more of a soft walk in the woods. It's the knowing of what each project is, and how we are guided to engage in them at any particular time -- it's this knowing that sets us free from the hankering guilt of incompletion.  It's the knowing that allows us to set something aside that just isn't sprouting, or when we realize something else needs our attention first.  

I'm learning that this dance of creative unfolding is mysterious, dynamic, and also deeply effective.  I see my old new book coming together now after all these years forgotten, dormant.  And I love what it is becoming because I allowed myself to set it aside to see if it would again one day return.

Delighted that it has returned.  

And delighted that you still are here too.  Reflecting my own inner acceptance of a creative process that often comes in fits and starts.

So thank you.  See you again sometime soon.

Love,

Coco

 

So Why Do I Want to Give To Charity So Badly??

Oh my goodness, one of the most difficult things for me to resist on this spending detox is giving to charity!

It's really interesting, actually.

In part, I have a hard time turning down an opportunity to give to a charity that is important to me.  

But truthfully, there is also a huge part of me driven by ego...

  • The part of me who wants to be seen as generous...
  • The part of me who doesn't want to be perceived as cheap...
  • The part of me who wants others to believe we have plenty...

I just received an email from a friend inviting us to go to an auction for a local organization we really appreciate and admire.  It provides wonderful creative and artistic opportunities for children in the area.  Our girls have attended many of their programs, and the programs are incredible.  The funding goes to two things I care about:  (1) they offer scholarships to children who would otherwise not be able to attend, and (2) they compensate the visiting, teaching artists in a way that honors and supports their life as an artist.

So I value this organization, its mission, and its function in our community very much. 

Normally, I would immediately click to buy.  The question wouldn't be whether I bought tickets to the benefit, the question would be WHICH tickets I'd go for.  No, I would go right past the $75 General Admission seats, and even the $125 reserved seats.  

I would have sat and thought for at least 10 minutes about whether to get the "Silver Patron" seats at $250 or the "Golden Patron" seats for $500. Ultimately, I probably would have gone with the $250 seats if I weren't doing My 30-Day Spending Cleanse.

I probably would have chosen the $250 over the $500 seats because we just paid our taxes and ugh, that always leaves me feeling a little less generous.  But if it had been back in February when Frank had just gotten his bonus, I probably would have sprung for the $500 seats.

So I am observing this and seeing clearly that my choice to buy a ticket to this charity event is not about the generosity of my spirit. It's connected to my egos need to be seen as generous, to be seen as abundant, to be seen as affluent. (Uuuuck! I want to PUKE!!!)

I hope you don't hate me for all this stark, bitter, revolting truth.

This Spending Detox is bringing up all sorts of toxic awareness. And it's not all pretty.

But this new awareness, while certainly embarrassing and even shameful, is also fascinating to me.

Here's the thing... I want to give to causes I love.  It deeply, deeply do.  My soul wants to help make a difference in the world in every way we can.

But I'm not feeling like my soul is always the one deciding whether to give and if so how much.

As it is, I am not going to give to this particular campaign, as I have the convenient excuse of being on a Spending Detox, as it doesn't fall into the category of "needs" or "essentials." So the decision has already been made for me: it's not a need so I am not buying it this month.

And more awareness comes as I lean on this excuse...

Knowing that I am not going to buy a ticket and knowing that I won't attend the auction and spend still more money feels like an enormous relief!

What just happened to all my generosity??

It makes me truly wonder what I would do if I received this invitation to attend this charity auction next month instead of now -- when the Detox is done and my right to free choice has returned.

Would I buy a ticket? Which ticket, do you suppose? Or would I instead just write an anonymous check? 

What will my soul choose to give as authentic expression of itself?

I wonder how all of this is detoxing and DA meetings are changing me, and what it will help me to see and do differently.

I'm not sure of where this all leads, but I am incredibly fascinated observing the journey and staying open to whatever wisdom I extract.  

I feel a rebirth coming and I am curious and fascinated watching this new version of me be born.

Thanks for listening! :-)

The Gift of Solvency

Wow! I feel like mountains are moving inside me.  

It's as if my DNA is changing.  

This spending fast has led me down the rabbit hole into totally new and uncharted territory.  

  • I've been reading Sacred Success, by Barbara Stanny, following her recommended exercises, and I called into her Free Monthly Monday call.  
  • Meanwhile, I have been connecting two or three times each day to meet with my inner guides and ask for clarity, wisdom, and instruction.  
  • And all the time, I am keeping my larger focus on my bigger desire -- for that feeling of radiance and overflowing love.  

On three separate occasions in the last week, Barbara has made a recommendation -- actually more of a challenge -- to me.  

Well, actually, she wasn't really speaking directly to me, but it seemed like it.  I first heard the challenge come forth when she spoke at the Mama Gena Mastery event last weekend, and then I read her pose the challenge in her book, and once again, she made the challenge to those who really want to see unbridled transformation on her Monthly Monday call this week.  Her challenge was to go to.. 

90 Debtors Anonymous meetings in 90 days.

Shockingly, my soul perked up all three times she suggested this.  It was as if she were speaking directly to me all three times, nudging me to do it.  

I heard the call, and I felt really clear she was speaking to me, but I was scratching my head a little bit.

The reason I was confused is because my husband and I have no unsecured debt, and Debtors Anonymous is supposed to be intended for those who struggle with unsecured debt.

But I felt this deep call in my bones to do it.  So I have made the decision Monday night to go for it, and yesterday I participated in my first phone meeting, and this morning I participated in meeting #2.

And already I feel a deep certainty that I am exactly where I should be.  I am on a rich and powerful course.

As part of Debtors Anonymous (DA), they recommend you do the following right away:

  1. Start keeping a detailed log of every penny you spend and every penny you earn
  2. Commit to being solvent, which in DA means not incurring any new unsecured debt 
  3. Attend meetings regularly

Okay, so this is what I am committed to doing.

1 - logging spending & earnings

I have been keeping a detailed log of spending and earning for the past two days, and already I am seeing how it is bringing new light and awareness.  Mind you, this is already in the midst of my "Spending Detox" where I am not actively buying anything "unnecessary" and I am not purchasing anything online, except those items which I would have to drive 1 hour or more to obtain (like the XL Wee Wee Pads I get for my dogs that I can't seem to find here at any of our local stores in NW CT). 

Here's the thing... I've resisted doing this little logging-of-what-I-spend exercise in the past.  

I have always told myself that I keep track of all our spending through my bookkeeping process where I account for every purchase and transaction from all of our many accounts through Quickbooks.  And then I run fancy reports to see how we are doing on the month.

Oh I'm just too sophisticated to track our spending in such a simple way!

(Eyes rolling at the sound of my prideful ego!)

The trouble is that because there is SO much going on in our Quickbooks systems -- lots of accounts and what turns in to hundreds of transactions each month -- I feel a certain (safe) distance from the numbers.  I sort of go through the rote process every two weeks of doing the bookkeeping and running the reports and seeing how much we are spending in each category and comparing it to our budget -- so in affect I am doing all this tracking through Quickbooks, BUT IT STILL FEELS ABSTRACT AND DISTANT.  

I haven't been able to really see, okay, in the last three days I have so far spent $527.37, and that came from $59 in gas, $175 to pay for my daughter's birthday party, $139 for a 2 month supply of Wee Wee Pads, $25 at a meeting that included lunch, and $129.37 on groceries.

And because I'm keeping track moment to moment, I feel like I'm more steeped in the process of asking myself... 

"Is this purchase a true need or is it an idle want?

and 

"Is there a creative way I can attain what I need or want without the use of money?"

The tracking has been really cool, actually.  The practice of tracking what I am spending moment to moment, is truly affecting my choices.  

Perfect example... My daughter is having a birthday party on Friday.  In year's past I go way overboard with the goodie bag.  I won't even admit to telling you what I might spend on creating a little bag of joy for my daughter and her friends.  It always felt fun and exciting to do it this way, so I never questioned my approach.  But in the midst of this process, I am asking myself...

Is there another way to do it that is less expensive?

Who am I trying to impress anyway?

What am I teaching my daughter about her worth and value by being the girl with the really great goodie bags?

I asked my inner guides for ideas and they showed me the picture of little potted flowers.  Brilliant!  The party itself is at a nature center with a fairy theme.  Cute, right? :-)  The girls will be going on a nature hike to find bits and pieces of twigs, stones, acorns, and moss for each of them to construct a fairy house.  Thus each will already be leaving with their own self-made fairy house.  To go with the little houses, I will provide each little girl a potted pansy that she can place next to her newly created fairy house, where fairies can come and leave fairy notes.  

And my local market has these cute little pansies planted in tiny pots for $2.99 each.  This feels really simple, wholesome, and at a price that feels in integrity.

So tracking my expenses has already been very helpful and revealing.  I'm sure I'm just scratching the surface.

Okay, so onto item #2 of the DA program:  Committing to being solvent and not incurring any additional debt.

2 - Being Solvent

I have decided to tweak this one a bit to match my own personal situation.  While I don't have debt and have no plan, urge, or need to use debt, I could feel in my bones that there is something here for me.

Solvency.

I discovered that synonyms for the word "solvency" include...

Correctness

Durability

Stability

Strength

Integrity

 

Hmmnn... powerful words, aren't they.  So I am asking myself...

How would I know I have spent with correctness?

What would make our financial situation feel durable, stable and strong?

What would make me feel in integrity with each and every penny I spend?

Here's what I'm noticing...

First, while we don't have unsecured debt, we still have debt.  While we don't have debt, we do borrow from our savings whenever we overspend, which is something we do every year.  

Every year, we create a budget for the year ahead, and put funds into a savings account for all our spending and tax payments that we will need to make that year.  Every year, we get to the end of the year and find we have to pull money from one of our investment accounts, in order to keep paying the bills through the end of the year.  

While this isn't unsecured debt, it is debt!  

In essence we are borrowing from the 75-year old Frank and Coco.  

This awareness -- this re-frame -- really strikes me!  

I feel it is a form of self-abuse to not be preparing for the care of my elderly self.  This awareness viscerally astonishes me!  

It's feels like a lightening-bolt to my head re-wiring brain!  

So this jolt of awareness helps me see that solvency for me, at least in part, means that I don't borrow from my elderly self ever again.

But there's more to solvency than just that.

My husband and I have been telling ourselves for years that we have the desire to live on his salary, and sock away the entirety of his annual bonus (which makes up for 50-75% of his annual compensation) after we pay taxes.

It feels like it's time to make this wish a reality.  When I think of how I would feel knowing that we can completely sock away his bonus and live only on his salary, I feel in my bones that we would be solvent. Our financial situation would feel durable, stable, and strong.

I'm also noticing that part of my definition of solvency is honoring my husband's contribution to our family and our security through deeply stewardship.

My husband has a deep desire to be able to have the choice to leave his high-paying Wall Street job by 2020.  

I have a deep desire to honor his dearest wish by being a responsible steward of our money.  I want so much for him to be able to have this choice. And whether he chooses to exercise this choice or not, I want to know in my bones I have done everything possible to ensure this choice is available for him to make.

This would offer me a deep and satisfying feeling of solvency.

Our financial plan of getting him to 2020 with the door to exit wide open involves us doing three things:

  1. Saving every year at the level I described above
  2. Lowering our overall spending by about 30% and/or
  3. Frank and I finding new ways to generate new income (beyond our investments) to make up for any part of our spending that is not covered through interest income

3 - Attend Regular DA Meetings

Well, I'm committed to doing 90 meetings in 90 days.  And it's actually not that difficult to do, I'm finding, given that they have a whole list of meetings you can do by phone.  I did one last night after my daughter went to bed, and I did one this morning while I was getting ready for the day.  

Attending the DA calls have helped me see how out of touch I am with my money.  The people on the phone are at all stages and levels of challenge, mastery, and financial abundance.  

I'm learning that having money in the bank does not mean you have a powerful relationship with money.  This is big for me.  I sort have been telling myself that I don't have issues with money because we have plenty of money to have a nice home, drive nice cars, send our children to private schools, and go on nice holidays.  

I've been in a state of denial, not knowing how much we have, whether the shoes I'm about to buy are in or out of budget, and if we are really on track for Frank to retire in 2020.

I'm also becoming aware that the people on the calls make tough choices to ensure they are solvent.  

It makes me ponder...

When was the last time I made a really tough, but empowering choice with spending?

They get creative in how they spend. They stop spending when they have reached their budget. And they aren't debting themselves in any way.

Kinda novel, eh?

This is not how I've been living.  If I want something, I just buy it and assume we'll figure it out one way or another. We'll just transfer more money from that mystery savings account.

But what I'm getting is that this approach is not serving me.  Not only is it going to leave 75-year-old Coco in poverty, but this kind of unconscious living is actually not okay with me on any level.  

It is wearing on my self-esteem, self-worth, and self-perception.  

My house is in perfect order all the time.  I prepare healthy delicious meals for my family.  I exercise regularly.  I take great care in attending lovingly and consciously to my marriage.  I am a conscious, aware person in all these other areas of my life.  

Not being fully conscious with my money is simply NOT okay with me.  

Being on these DA phone meetings, I am seeing the humility of those telling the truth of where they are.  I am also seeing the peace, freedom, and strength of those who have committed to solvency in their lives. And I am becoming aware that I want that.

I want to feel the peace of living in humble, solvent truth, way more than I want another flashy pair of shoes.

I'm also learning that one can have far less money than another, but have far more freedom and peace because of their willingness to be conscious, truthful, and open to change.

While the awareness of my own unconsciousness is rather humbling, I find that I'm met with an equal amount of hope and inspiration knowing that as I continue down this path, awareness, integrity, and solvency are awaiting my arrival... and with that a deeper sense of peace and freedom....

Let's see where the ride takes me from here... More later...

 

 

Answering The Call To Greatness

Barbara Stanny explains in her book, Sacred Success, that the first step of answering your call to greatness is to clarify what you really, truly want.  Well here it is folks, here's what I want right now in this immediate path of building an empowered relationship with money...

·         I want to come out of my financial fog and  take bold actions to take responsibility for our finances –

o   I want to reduce our spending to a level that will allow us to save at least 50% of what comes in,  and feel empowered about these choices

o   I want to become aware of all of our investments and begin learning about whether I believe they are a good investment for us.  

o   I want to have an opinion about how and where to invest our money beyond what we are already doing.  I want to come to Frank with ideas and suggestions on a strategy.

·         I want to be in integrity with how I spend money –

o   I want to know with pristine clarity what is and is not okay for me to spend money

o   I want to follow a budget and know before I make a purchase whether that purchase is in our budget or not

o   I want to stop spending money in dis-empowering ways, for example, as a way to distract myself from something else going on in my life that needs attention; feed myself counterfeit pleasure; and to make other people like me or think I’m cool

o   I want to feel the joy and freedom of investing in those things that I deeply desire, and that will slake the thirst of my soul.

·         I want to see myself as a wealthmaker (my twist on rainmaker) – a capable business woman able to build a solvent, profitable business that brings light into the world

o   I want to open the door to seeing that I can earn money while sharing the gifts of my soul with the world

o   I want to shine my light in such a way that I can lead women by example into a new way of generating wealth that is grounded in wisdom, authentic leadership, and true service – versus the tendency to overwork and be busy, other people’s advice, the urgency to get clients, sell products, or be popular.

o   I want to follow the natural rhythms of my soul’s creativity, where quiet times and inconsistencies are allowed to exist – where the soul’s guidance is followed over the advice of business professionals giving you a recipe for more money, more clients, and more success. 

·          I want to be a model of financial enlightenment for my daughters

o   I long to be a good example of a person empowered by their money

o   I long to teach my daughter (and any other daughters) about how to be powerful in their choices in money and feel empowered to create wealth for themselves and for the world

o   I long to be that which I have expected my husband to be – a wise steward of wealth able to manifest plenty and care for it with love (my husband has actually been brilliant with this, but I'm learning that until I do it for myself, the need is not every truly satisfied)

o   I want to help other women find the same deeply satisfying pleasure of having their way with money – the money they have and the money they will surely manifest

o   I want to kick some serious financial butt – and do it while feeling radiant, feminine, glorious, and dressed in the 9’s 

 

Feeling The Toxins Emerge

I'm on day four of my spending detox and I can tell you that the toxins are emerging right on schedule.  

Ugh.  I know it is a wonderful thing, but why does the releasing process have to feel so yucky??

So here are a few things I am noticing...

First, I watched myself, particularly on day 1 and 2 have urges to buy non-essentials.  Most things were just passing bits of whatever that I could easily say, "Coco, that really doesn't feel essential."  And no big deal, I let it go and didn't feel any sort of conceivable sting at not making the purchase.  I can't really even remember what any of the items were... an ice cream cone for my daughter, a coloring book I thought she'd like, a light fixture for the downstairs bathroom that I will one day install, but it certainly doesn't need to be now.  It felt really good to see these items drift out and away from me like toxins going down the drain.  

There were also few items I had real difficulty walking away from purchasing.  One was a book that was recommended to me, and I felt that all so familiar feeling that "if I read this book, I will finally have the answer to X I've been searching for," and another was a song I heard in my yoga class that my mind kept rationalizing to me that it would be okay to purchase, given it would add to my morning meditation, make me feel centered, and it would only be 99-cents on iTunes blah, blah, blah.... Basically, these were various versions of the same idea that "I don't have what I need already, but this random item will make it all better."  So fascinating.  

It is becoming clear that 99% of the items I want in a passing moment, I don't truly desire.

I have most everything I need.  And I'm no less happy not having these little extras that in the moment, I tell myself will make me feel so much better.

Second, as part of this toxin-releasing journey, I spent a full day on Tuesday dedicated to getting up close and personal with our household finances.  This is such important work for me, as it really allows me to have clarity and visibility about where we are, and where I am.  

What led me to this detox was a sneaking suspicion that somewhere in our finances I am feeling out of integrity.

Getting up close and personal with the numbers allows me to see if, how, and where my suspicions are accurate. 

Our finances, like probably everyone's, is complicated.  And while it certainly doesn't earn us a bit of sympathy, because my husband generates a considerable income, our finances are not simple like they were when I was a single woman with one checking account and one savings account.  Frank is a partner of firm that does business in lots of states.  And because he's a partner, taxes are not automatically withheld, so we are responsible to for making regular payments to several states. Thus, it always seems like we have more money than we do because we haven't yet paid taxes on a big chunk of it.  The other wonderful thing about his income is that it has allowed us to make investments.  However, each investment requires it's own bit of oversight and attention.  

It's very easy in the blur of accounts and numbers for me to sort of numb out and live in a state of denial.  

But my soul has no interest in me living in denial.  It is the seed of my self-hate.  And as a participant of a workshop I recently attended said, "I have no time for self-hate."

I've been heard it said, and my inner voice of wisdom seems to be saying this again quite loudly...

The universe will only give you as much abundance as you can handle.

In other words, if we are not responsible, accountable, and aware of where are money is, where it goes, and wide-awake aware of the choices we are making about it, then certainly the universe will not offer us more.

So I'm getting the strong sense that my soul is directing me to look at this area of my life, so that I may clear it out, clean it up, and that then, when my house is in order, the universe will be ready to offer us more (more in the form of whatever will truly make Frank and me whole, which may or may not come in the form of money).

Thus, on Tuesday, I used the day to update all our numbers of where our money is, the taxes we owe this year, and all the other expenses we anticipate in the remainder of the year.  I'd created a budget earlier in the year, and I do our bookkeeping at least once each month in Quicken, but I don't always take the time to fully sit with the numbers and recognize where we are, and whether it is aligned with our larger dreams.

The truth:  I calculate the numbers with a level of disconnected brain fog going on, and then email the numbers off to my husband tossing the proverbial ball into his court, hoping that well, now hopefully he's making sense of all of this. And make his lack of response mean, "Oh well, silence must mean everything is good as it is, so we can all just carry on as we have been."

I know. The truth is sometimes embarrassing.

Awake and out of my fog, the numbers revealed that we are quite significantly over budget, as I was suspecting.  

And that fact brings forth a familiar whiff of shame.

But before I will allow myself to digress in the all-too-familiar bit of self-criticism and self-loathing, I decided to greet my shame in a different way.  

I ask myself....

What is this showing me must change?

And I hear the answer right away, "Well clearly, you must spend less money."

And then my higher wisdom asks me in a clear, powerful voice?

But why is spending less what's truly best for your soul? Not just your way out of shame? 

I take a deep breath as I consider this idea.  Yes, it makes nothing but logical sense I need to spend less money.  I'm over budget, that's logical, yes?  But this isn't just about that.  I'm getting that spending less will clear out space for my soul to breathe.  It will require less energy, less things, less complications.  

I'm also seeing that spending isn't making me happy.  It's simply another thing I do to avoid being me.  I lean on spending to make me feel safe, valued, important.  Because the money happens to be there, and because I can spend it if I want, I have derived a feeling of safety, protection, and even value from it.

But all this unconscious spending isn't what my soul wants or needs.

My soul wants to lighten up.  

It wants freedom to express itself.  

It wants me to surrender any behaviors that are misaligned with my deeper, higher intentions and values.

My intentions include following our budget, saving our money, keeping our costs low so the amount of money needed for our financial freedom is less.  

And more than that, I'm seeing that I am not okay with having my husband work so hard in a job that he sometimes enjoys, but is not the higher expression of his soul, while I mindlessly spend the money he makes, prolonging the time it will take for him to retire.

That's the yucky hairball toxin I'm digesting right now.

My soul wants me to follow a path into great love, harmony, bliss, and prosperity.  But frankly, I keep getting too hung up, consciously or otherwise, to fully surrender to my soul's higher journey because the human part of me is ashamed of my lack of integrity in this area.  

Being accountable, responsible, and in integrity will stop me from leaking my energy and power.  It will cork the bleeding, so that I can finally feel free and worthy of what my soul wants for me.

I also believe that the very act of discovering integrity in my relationship with money will heal that part of me that feels shame.  It will open up new wisdom and power in the process.  It is the perfect salve, while also placing me directly afoot with my soul's higher path.

So this awareness has been big.

I am doing my best to stay focused on having this process be a tool for releasing what's not working, discovering truth, identifying new choices, healing the part of me that is broken, and delivering me to a place where new light can ultimately come in.  

Thus, I am in a constant state of reminding myself to not beat myself up for what I discover.  

Shame is an old, endarkened way of getting myself to change.

I am not interested in shame as my tool for transformation.  Shame is only my indicator that something is out of whack, that something needs healing, and that integrity can be restored through surrender and love.

I realized today that if we continue to live at the spending level we are living, we will need to save almost twice as much as we had been planning for, in order for my husband to retire.  

I could use this information to beat myself up.  But I choosing surrender and love instead.

Thus, I stand here today feeling sad, disappointed, and ashamed, and I am using that as a way to lift myself into new awareness.

I am open and surrendered to allowing myself to change and new behaviors to take root in my being, so that I can now be in integrity with our desires... our agreement to follow a budget, my wish for my husband's freedom to retire, and my soul's calling toward light, expression, bliss, prosperity, and wholeness.

And so it is, or something even better.

30-Day Spending Detox

For the past nine months, I have been using the element of pleasure to help me see highter truth and focus my energy.  I've been looking daily, and even moment to moment, to clarify, "What do I desire?"  

At first, I had no idea what the answer could be.  I knew what others in my life wanted.  I know what my husband wants -- close the deal, achieve financial freedom, play golf, make love... I know what my  children want -- friends to play with, books to read, my total and complete attention on them, a pretty new dress...  But knowing the answer to what do I want was at first unclear.

But once I started flexing the desire muscle, I started to see lots and lots of wants... a bouquet of peonies, a trip to St. John, a beautiful new lingerie set, a chocolate covered caramel, a massage, a sushi dinner...  

Weeeeeeee... the fun of desire...

I suddenly was seeing all of these desires peek up and call to me everywhere I went, all the time.  Calls to try new things, go new places, sample new foods, and buy new clothing... I honored my voice of desire but was also a bit nervous.

Where would this seemingly voracious voice lead me?

I took, what for me, was a tremendous leap into the unknown as I turned the care of my body over to this inner voice of desire.  

The back story is that I have struggled my whole life to maintain a weight that feels thin, beautiful, and healthy.  I am thin, yes, but because I have been extremely disciplined, controlling, even domineering with my body to force it to my will of what to eat, not eat, and how much to exercise.  

My inner voice of wisdom kept telling me that I needed to hand over the keys to pleasure and desire, letting go of control and will, but it was extremely hard.  To stop counting calories? To stop weighing myself each morning? To trust that my body alone would have the answers was terrifying.

The first month I turned over the keys, I gained a few pounds.  I could feel it in my clothing.  I knew the scale was tipping upward.  

The voice of self-loathing and self-doubt was hammering away in my head, but I didn't give up.  

I believed in my gut that I could trust my body, my desires.  So I vowed to listen more clearly.  To devote myself even more to my commitment to giving my body what she desired.

I started spending time each morning, and throughout the day, connecting to what Jenna LaFlame, author of Pleasurable Weight Loss, refers to as "your female animal."  I connected with my female animal and asked her what she deeply desired.  And I realized that the more I listened to this voice -- what to eat, how much to eat, when to rest, when to dance, when to stand in the sun, when to take a bath, when to make love -- the more in harmony I felt in my body.  

I realized that the off the hook, outside good boundaries wants for a pile of cookies or a plate of pasta were not coming from my body.  Nope. They were a substitute for something else missing in my life.  Often it was that I was tired, so my mind developed the thought that I'm hungry, and wouldn't I like some popcorn.  Or when I was feeling anxious, instead of dealing with my anxiety, my mind would say, "Why don't you get yourself a little snack to calm you down?" 

I started to really discern between the voice of my body, and the voice of my uncomfortable mind.  I'd start eating the leftover cereal in my daughters breakfast bowl and....

I'd hear the voice of my body say...

"Just to be clear -- this is NOT coming from me.  I am not the one asking you to dump your daughter's garbage into your mouth."

In a short time, I'm back into my pants feeling light, thin, and utterly free.  Empowered. Radiant.  And finally also relaxed.  Profoundly relaxed.  I'm no longer at war.  I am at peace.

But just as soon as I started to feel this new sense of peace, I began to become aware of another area of my life that felt out of whack.  At first it was just a mild sense of irritation that seemed to be sitting at the edges of my consciousness, but with the peace and ease that had been created by ending the war with my body, that little buzz of irritation seemed to grow louder and louder.

Finally, I could no longer ignore it.  

What is this irritation, this discomfort I am feeling? Where is it coming from? What is it about?

I asked my inner guides to shine the light to reveal what was at the heart of this buzzing, irritating feeling within me.

My guides quickly revealed that it is my relationship with money.

Ugh. Swallowing hard.

Not surprising, really.  

My relationship with money has always been challenging.  I've always felt overwhelmed, victimized, powerless, and hopeless in my relationship with money.  I have tried to master it, dominate it, control it... all those same things I've done in the past with my body.  

My inner critic judges me in these three primary areas -- my lacking in each:

  1. My ability to manifest large sums of money of my own accord
  2. My ability to save and steward money in a wise and powerful way
  3. My overall awareness and daily management of my checkbook and other financial accounts.  

In the past, I would shame myself, tell myself I am a failure and wrong.  And then put myself on a strict regimen of budgeting, tracking, and shaming when I did wrong.

But this time, I thought to myself, what if I could lean into pleasure and desire as my guide?

That felt like a curious and even exciting way to explore my relationship with money.

So I began looking toward my desires.... But I quickly stumbled to know what my true desires are.  Unlike my body, which is an actual body that has it's own wisdom and sensations, how could I hear my true desires on what I should or should not use my money to obtain?

So I sat with this question.  And in a few days, the answer came.

My inner voice of wisdom reminded me that I am more than a physical being.  I am also a mental, spiritual, and emotional being.  My wisdom also pointed out that even more than that, my being extends all around me into the physical environment of my life, my home, and the places I commonly dwell.  My wisdom showed me that this is my larger Wisdom Body, and like my physical body, I can sense the harmony and discord that lives in this larger system of me. And like my physical body, I can also ask my Wisdom Body for guidance.

I'm not sure why but this was deeply helpful to me, and I sense that it might also be helpful for other women to become present and aware to this larger wisdom body that they exist within.  

So I began posting questions to this part of me, and immediately the answers have been springing up like tulips.

The immediate reflection and guidance I received was that I have lost my ability to experience the true pleasure of spending money (or exchanging energetic power for something I desire) because I have been in the habit of spending money so unconsciously.

My Wisdom Body explained to me that I needed to take a break from spending, at least for 30 days, in order to bring my system back to a baseline from which I can start to truly feel the pleasure of exchanging money for a desire.  

My Wisdom Body told me to think of this period much like I would a food detox.  It will act as a way for my system to rest.  It will allow for the release of toxins stored in my consciousness.  It will also help me more clearly observe my desires as they come up.  

Thus, I begin today a Spending Detox.  

My agreement to myself through the end of May (which will be a little more than 30 days) is the following:

  1. I will spend money only on essentials (food, bills, and the planned expanses for my daughter's birthday party, the planned expenses for my husband's birthday celebration, my weekly hair blow-out, my bi-weekly mani/pedi, and one dinner out per week).
  2. No spending online whatsoever, as I notice that I am particularly unconscious when I spend online. I am expecting this will bring about a great deal of new awareness.
  3. I will notice and write down any items that I really, really want to buy and ask myself, "What does X represent?" (aka, do I really want X, or is it a substitute for something else?)  Perhaps through this experience I will discover which desires are "real" desires versus "counterfeit" desires.  
  4. I will journal observations... what I notice in my behaviors, the moments I want to buy something, the reasons why I feel drawn to make certain purchases, how much is enough, what i really miss, what I really don't miss, etc. 

My Wisdom Body also gave me this important mantra to hold as my light-keeper during these 30 days:

The most important gifts we can give to ourselves or others are energetic.

In other words, I look to things in places that the energy of love, light, peace, healing, acceptance, or joy might better fill.

Lastly, I just want to say how deeply ready I am for this.  Not just ready.  But longing for a rest of spending.  I am ever so grateful for our abundance, and grateful that the choice to spend money is available to me.  But I am longing for a higher level of experience, and my unconscious spending habits are holding me back, keeping me from my light, and dragging me down in the physical weight and responsibility of "stuff" management. This detox feels like a needed retreat to the top of a quiet mountain where I can once again hear the voice of love calling to me.

 

Dear Breasts

Dear Breasts,

How lovely you are and have always been to me.  You blossomed early making me feel special and unique.  While you never grew large, I always enjoyed your perfect apricot size and rounded shape.  I've felt blessed to be able to wear every kind of shirt and dress, with you giving me the perfect shape and dimension.

Unlike other parts of my feminine body that I have struggled to love and accept, you have been my easy reminder of how beautiful I am.  You have given me confidence to shine and feel worthy.  Men have always loved you too.  It's always the area they complement and seem to feel a timeless sense of ecstacy as they nuzzle into them.

My husband, our dear Frank, loves you dearly.  I recall the first night we slept in the same bed, he rested his head on you, nuzzled into you and seemed to sink softly into a comfort and pleasure I knew in my heart he'd been missing a long, long time.  You were the drink of a long awaited thirst, quenching and replenishing him back to his manhood.

And a year later when our Pearl was born, you fed and nurtured her for nine months.  The miracle of feeling you fill with milk was something I cherished and resisted giving up.  Offering my Pearl the safe love of your juice allowed me feel the essence of being mother.

I love you dearly and do my best to care for you.  As you know, I sometimes worry about you with breast cancer in my family.  I carefully schedule you regularly for exams, mammograms, and ultrasounds.  I will always love and protect you.

Dearest breasts, thank you.  For your beauty, your sensuality, your nurturance, and even your healing.  I promise to continue to love, savor, caress, and massage you so that you may always feel pleasure, joy, rapture, and appreciation.

Love,

Coco

 

Ode To My Wrists

I am currently participating in Regina Thomashauer, aka Mama Gena's, Mastery Program.  It is an amazing experience I wish every woman could have.  We are exploring what Mama calls the "Womanly Arts," which are both racy and fun, while also being transformative and healing.  I'm loving every bit of it.

As part of the journey, we are honoring our body parts.  As we do, I notice how every woman in the program seems to become more and more radiant.

Here is my Ode to My Wrists...

Small and delicate, sinuous and sublime

You are my keeper of feminine expression

For through the gentle twist of my wrist

I convey seduction

Delight

Mystery

Even inivte.

My subtle, sexy provocateur

Who summons my delight.

Ode To My Thighs

Radiance spills out from me when I am aware of my own body, miracle.  It surfaces when I feel the sensuality of my being enjoying the sensations of this gift, my physical body.

Frank and I were in St. John a few weeks ago. It was amazing. Beyond amazing.  Four days of pure romance, bliss, beach, and being in our bodies.

He wrote me an "Ode To My Thighs" while we were lounging on our balcony overlooking the white silky sand and crystal blue water just feet away.  An ode to my thighs... Amazing. Often the part of me I criticize. Wish were different. Squeezing them up from behind my legs as I look at myself in the mirror, I deny the simple beauty of what is. 

Radiance is seeing the beauty.

My sweet husband reminded me of this....

Ode To My Love's Thighs

The thighs of a dancer
who flies through the air
supple and strong
willing to dare
soft as a baby's bottom
so pure
There is no resisting
their tempting allure
Upon them rest the power
of She
and all of the mystery
of a deep blue sea
I watch as she walks
with white sand in her toes
Those thighs will take her
where her heart wants her to go.
- Frank Sellman, April 2, 2015

 

 

 

 

Inert Bits and Fertile Soil

It's a rainy April morning here in Connecticut, as I look out my window out at the lake watching the tulips and daffodils make their way up from the earth in what will be the resulting "May flowers" in a week or so.  I had breakfast with a dear friend and felt the cherished connection of the warm and comforting space we have between each other.  I feel blessed.  

Sitting here at my desk, I feel the flutter of overwhelm starting to creep in as I consider the list for the week.  So much I long to do.  So much I "have" to do.  I seek within to discover the peaceful, albeit powerful path to bring my inner world craving for peace together with my outer world list of responsibilities into one harmonious place.

I've learned through trial and error that to put the list of "musts" before the list of desires is a slippery slope.  And yet, to give myself fully away to the musts means never getting to the cup of tea, the walk in nature, the writing of the book, or the moment to soak up the sunset.  So I decided to give myself some creative space first. Here and now. To light a candle, write for a stretch, and see what comes.  I give myself permission to do this first, honoring what's here, and then I will cross some T's and dot some I's after.

Writing to you here helps me.  It soothes, centers, and grounds me.  It helps me hear me.  My husband is reading The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle.  I read it years ago and have used his reading of it as a way to recall and reflect upon it.  Frank, my husband, reminds me of Tolle's repeated mantra...

"You are not your mind."

And...

"Find the watcher behind the thinker."

I am breathing that in right now.  Connecting with the part of me beyond my mind.  

My mind wants precision, quantification, knowing.  

My watcher wants wholeness, connection, expansion, radiance.

As the rain comes down supporting the growth of the flowers outside my window, If feel a connection to the presence of something growing within me.

Make space for radiance

... is the message pouring out of me.  

I'm sensing light, expansiveness, peace.  Removal of bits that are in the way.  Removal of inert bits that aren't muting my radiance, but they are not allowing it to expand either.

I am feeling how important it is to create time to dwell, as I am now, in this sea of light and oneness.  And I see how my life right now is filled with bits of this and that that interrupt and distract me from this little block of time to feel the hollows of the universe.

Removal of inert bits...

My "inert bits" are things that might be perfectly fun or seem to be self-caring, but they distract me from the next level of my own care.  For example, the dance class on Thursday afternoons that I do enjoy but takes up way too much travel time and space for the level of joy it is actually giving me.  Or an invitation to go spend a whole morning visiting a store where I don't plan to buy anything an hour away, but I say yes because the idea sounds nice in the moment, but is it really worth the time it costs?  Or the answering of the phone while I am in the middle of a meditation -- because it's my husband and I love him dearly -- exchanging his preferred timing to talk over my own.  These are just a few of my many inert bits.

My inert bits are doing no real harm, but they are not really helping me expand either.  

Today, I choose to release the inert bits and make room for new light in the space that follows.

What is helpful today, might become inert, or even harmful, tomorrow.  

What is inert, or even harmful today, might become exactly what is needed in the future.

So there is no perfect recipe.

Today I allow the expansiveness of the universe to find its way into my being so that I may know the difference, and that I may pot myself in the soil of that which will most gracefully and effortlessly spur my growth.

Thanks for listening.

Welcome To "RAMBLINGS"

Dear Reader,

Ramblings is my own personal journey of meanderings in search of radiance.

I find that I enjoy the process of creating a journey for you and me to follow.  It is a part of my creative being that longs to shine -- the part of me who writes visualizations, reflections, and guided suggestions taking one into the depths of their being.  It's something I deeply enjoy and it keeps me somehow rooted in my own divinity to create "The Journey."

But I also have noticed my own need to reflect on my own process.  I long to also write in an unstructured way about what I'm experiencing, feeling, and tripping and falling over in my own life.  I want to share with you about my morning yoga class and by sharing it with you, seal in the moment's riches for myself.  I want to tell you about moments with my dear, precious daughters and how I long for gentleness, clarity, understanding with them... And how I sometimes find it, and how other times I fall flat on my face...  

I want to write both the instructions for a powerful Journey, and have a freedom to share whatever I'm discovering in life, regardless of whether it fits in the subject of the journey I'm sharing for cultivating Radiance within you and me.

Thus, I decided to create this separate page, which I am calling "RAMBLINGS," because it is just that -- ramblings of whatever is there as I walk through life.  Ramblings that as I hold them in my hands in the telling about them from you, will bring me (and also you) closer to that Light within.

Here on this page, I will share my vulnerability, my openness, my fears, my brilliance, my doubts, my power, my pain, my courage, my anger, and whatever else comes forward.

My openness might at times shock or surprise you.  Know that my ability to share what is within comes from twenty years of practice sharing what's there, so I've grown comfortable with what others (maybe even you) might be uncomfortable hearing. If this happens for you, please know that your discomfort, or questioning, or curiosity, or excitement -- whatever appears -- is your spirit's own invitation to look within.  Explore deeper.  Let it flow through you, and see what it's bringing up inside.

I've found that the more honest I am about speaking what makes me uncomfortable -- and sharing the "good" things about me can often times be way more uncomfortable than the "bad" things -- the more free I am to be truly myself.  

I hope you find my ramblings helpful in your journey.

Love,

Coco