A journey to reclaim vitality and joy

Two years ago I was so tired that I barely made it through the work day. I had ZERO energy left over for playing with my daughter or keeping up with the tasks of life. I was cranky, drinking too much coffee (which only made me feel worse!) and despite all that coffee I was never pooping! (Constipation, it turns out, matters in this story. Bear with me.) My hair was starting to fall out – not a lot but enough that I was concerned because ew! That is not normal. I was sick all the time, which at the time I blamed on having a small child in daycare but in retrospect, nope. That wasn’t the full story.

The wake up call came when I found myself sitting across the desk from an infertility doctor being told that I was so infertile I didn’t even qualify for IVF. Well, that got my attention. Women are creators by nature, and if my womb couldn’t create a child then something in me was way, way off. I knew this deep in my bones.

That moment in the doctor’s office was a turning point and one I’m grateful for now. (Though at the time I was screaming with the universe about this, no doubt about that!)

I recently came across my journal from that time and I’d written down two goals moving forward: I wanted to restore vitality and joy within myself. When I reread this I think I gasped a little — because here I am, a year and a half later and I can tell you that yes, I’ve found my way to this place most certainly. I have tons of energy from the moment I wake to the time I go to bed. I rarely if ever get sick. But more importantly, I feel like the life force has returned in me! I am living life rather than being lived by it.

I’m called to share this journey because so much has been given and it’s time to pay it forward. What is happening to one woman is happening to us all in some way or another. It’s practically an ethos in the United States (where I live) that to be a modern woman is to be frazzled, overworked, over-tired and spent. WHAT GIVES. That is seriously messed up!

My path may differ from your own — you may never have faced infertility, and imbalance in your life may present so much differently than my own — but I also know that the wisdom, teachings, healing modalities are available for all of us and don’t only apply to me and my own little situation. I’m blogging daily this week to share some of this journey. Please feel free to comment and share your own experiences or to ask questions! Share a post if you feel called to do so.

What do you say? Ready to reclaim the vitality and joy that are your birthright?

Blogging series on reclaiming vitality and joy!

Just Follow the Joy on Facebook & Instagram!

Breaking rules, breaking habits

REBEL WITH A COFFEE. Or a cause. 😁

I’m currently drinking contraband iced coffee in the teen section of my local library. No teens are here because it is way before noon (as I type this!) Which means that despite the many NO food in the library signs it’s the perfect place to be a rule breaker with my iced coffee tucked away in my purse.

I’m working hard lately breaking norms, societal and self-imposed. Let’s just say the iced-coffee-in-the-library is but a tiny start.

Yeah I see you sign.

It’s been a long yet short summer of weirdness but wonderfulness. I haven’t written on this blog since April, and not writing and sharing here is a habit I plan to break. I literally woke up yesterday and thought, I need to start writing again. Actually, back that up…I think the realization first came after I did an exercise recently (as a spiritual student of Magdala Ramirez, check her out she is amazing) that got me thinking about ways that widsom has been shared when I needed it most, and how I might share it with the ones who come after me. This blog being a tiny corner of the world to do just that!

Yes much has been received and it’s time to give, too! In this long/short weird/wonderful summer I have been integrating a LOT. I went to sacred ceremony (priestess ceremony) for five days in June and it basically took me all summer to unpack what I experienced. I’m realizing that unpacking it isn’t quite enough. I don’t want to hold tight to knowledge. I need to bring it forth!

Earlier this summer I heard this really great episode of the Pele Report (a weekly video/podcast by Kaypacha) where he talked about how we make something sacred once we share it back with the world. (Trying to find the episode…once I find it I’ll post the link!) For example, let’s say you create art. The creation of the art might be a spiritual act, but if you keep it to yourself you have only done half of the work. In sharing it with the outside world you make it sacred. That final step can feel scary and vulnerable but it’s also so freaking POWERFUL. It becomes a full circle moment. Not just receiving but giving it back to source in a new way.

Which brings me back here, typing in the library as I sneak some coffee. In so many areas of my life I’m being called to bring it forward. No more hiding, no more clinging, just free low of love! It’s boundless and endless, so why cling tight or hold it or hide it?! Let’s make it sacred! Even if we are a little scared! (Wow flip those letters and scared becomes sacred. Just blew my own mind a little! 😂)

This is my long and meandering way of saying I plan to write here a lot more often. I’m excited to hear what you are up to as well. Are you hearing the call to bring it forth? I’d love to hear about it!

With joy,

Sarah

Thank you, next! How I found myself (and my way) back to joy.

What’s all this nonsense about following the joy, and who exactly gave you these instructions? I want details, you say! Okay here you go… A tiny bit of the journey.

Just Follow the Joy is a mantra, a message, a path. It came to me one day when I was walking my beagles and (once again) asking the universe, I give up! What do you want me to do?!

And the Voice –(not the tv show though I hear it is excellent!)–the Voice within me, the WISE voice, the voice that takes no bullshit, the voice of love and grace and clarity–said, follow the joy.

HUH?

It would have been way more convenient if this voice told me how to look for a job or what job to be looking for exactly or maybe a set of detailed instructions about the meaning of this, but none of that came with this voice. And every time I checked in again, there it was. Just follow the joy!

For some you, this might seem pretty logical. Ok yes, following joy sounds like a good plan you say. But for me, I like to keep things complicated. This seemed…too simple. Too frivolous. TOO joyful.

I would like to now interject and add, What kind of nutty conditioning have I undergone that makes the embracing of joy so difficult and dare I say REBELLIOUS? I have this precious life in a body, a body that can eat starbursts (yes the candy) and go roller skating and sing karaoke and dance to “Thriller” and climb trees and paint pictures! HOW AMAZING IS THAT!

Why on earth would I say no to ANY of that? Oh thanks for the offer, but I’d rather sit over here in human misery, thanks. I enjoy bleakness, sadness, turmoil, heartbreak! Yeah that sounds like a good plan!

It took a bit for me to embrace my highest self’s message. I finally decided that she probably has my best interests at heart so I’d be wise to listen. It did, however, mean saying thank you, next to all sorts of things that at one time I thought would fulfill me but were actually sucking me dry. Thank you, next to a law career. Thank you, next to the idea of respectability and prestige and frankly ego-gratifying stuff. Thank you, next to giving my power away willy-nilly! (And with it my joy and creativity! And the tree climbing!)

So here I am, at long last, ready to embrace the joy. I’ve dropped a bunch of false selves and the bologna that upheld them. There ain’t much more to shed. Time to come out of hiding and do the work! Create the creations! From inner-alignment of heart and mind. From love. From…wait for it…a place of…JOY!

I recently gave notice at a job that gave me a lot of freedom, paid me very well, and was in many ways a great gig! But it was tied a sense of self that no longer exists…a self that viewed the world very differently than I do now, and it is time to say goodbye. not just to the job but to a way of being that no longer fits.

Thank you, next.

What is next…? I’ll be following the joy to see where it takes me. It will involve embracing my gifts of art and writing to be in service to my village. This is exciting and a little frightening too.To quote the title of a Anne Lamott book, HELP! THANKS! WOW! I’ll be sharing my journey on these pages and I invite you to join me as I discover where it leads!*

*(Hopefully to some income. Income is good. But hopefully leads to futher joy too! (Obviously!) And freedom! And creativity! And more tree climbing!)

Just Follow the Joy Facebook | Instagram

It’s probably not completely doomed!

“It is probably not completely fucked and doomed. At worst, it’s only slightly fucked and doomed.”  Mantra by *Sam Lamott (@samlamott) (*Offspring of one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott!)

Is it me, or does the world feel a little bit chaotic lately? Pretty sure that this week we moved up a notch from You Gotta be Kidding Me to This is Getting Pretty Bonkers.

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Chaos galore. We’ve got hurricanes!! 3,000 dead people miraculously coming back to life from said hurricanes!! Taking money from the people who help during hurricanes so we can detain more children! (Although…if we can bring the dead back to life, maybe we don’t need FEMA??)

It’s all got me thinking: What do we do with chaos? That is, other than respond with fear. (Or booking a one-way flight directly to Justin-Trudeau-land.) 

All I know is that I have a predictable pattern I use when the latest crazy drops from the heavens and into my news feed.  And–because you’ll notice one of the below steps is writing (HA!)–I’m gonna write about it and share with you

Let’s call it, Sarah’s Seven Steps™ to Responding to the Chaos: (fictional trademark and everything.)

  1. Denial. Muttering over and over How is this HAPPENING? This can’t be happening! 
  2. ALL-CAPS STAGE. (AKA seeking validation from those who see it the way you do.) Post to facebook with crazy emoji faces that basically scream “OMG GUYS DO YOU SEE  THIS IS?!” *Yes they do unless they don’t and in that case your article won’t make them “see” it.  (Not that I heed this advice, I do this ALL THE TIME. See the all caps??!)
  3. Fight or Flight.  Responding with, “I’ve gotta do something! There are kids in cages! “OR,“Nope nope nope. Can’t deal with the crazy today! Gonna binge watch Making-It.” 
  4. Grapple with existential angst. Chocolate helps. So does talking aloud to beagles. 
  5. Surrender. Sweet, sweet surrender. You know, facing the feelings under it all. Having a good cry about the children. Discovering that you feel a lot better after facing the feels.
  6. Magic! Transmuting/alchemizing the pain. (Which auto correct wants to change to “Schematizing” – sure that works too.)  You feel the feels, you eat the chocolate…now what? For me, I transmute the pain through art or writing. I take the pain and turn it into joy. It’s basically magic.
  7. Repeat.  Again and again and again. The world is at bonkers-level crazy after all. And maybe bit by bit…our creations of joy build a beautiful new world out of the chaos.

THAT’S ALL I GOT. (OH: and vote in the midterms. Do that too! Register to vote and/or request your vote-by-mail if you haven’t yet!)

What about you? How do you cope with the crazy? Did I miss any steps? What level comes next you think?

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Pursuing joy

At some point this past year I decided I wanted my life to be about pursuit of joy rather than reduction of suffering. And to paraphrase Frost, it has made all the difference.

For me it looks like embracing my inner artist. I was born an artist but along the way morphed, conformed, forgot. It’s all good. The journey back to myself has been so sweet! I’m leaping into fear, taking an undergrad art class with students who are literally half my age. Fear and joy! Fear and joy! Even the smell of art supplies makes my heart sing.

Are there any small ways you can increase joy? Share you victories below!! I’m so happy to give virtual high fives to you brave souls.

You can change how the story ends

Like many, I’ve been gutted by the horrific story of immigrant children being separated from their families and detained. I noticed something as I scrolled social media. Whether my friends are on the right or left, the story they tell seems to finish the same way. “This is happening and we can’t stop it.”  Those on the left, out of urgent fear, point to where we are headed (“Do you see the parallels to Nazi Germany??”)–(to be fair, often out of a desire to make others see the horror and hope to stop it. Unfortunately I think this has the unintended effect of paralyzing us.) Those on the right may justify where we are headed as being okay (“Other leaders did bad stuff to immigrants, too, so what gives!). But both tend to say the same thing: this (bad/good) thing is happening and the outcome is inevitable. You do not have the power to change it.

Oh but yes you do.

When we witness horror, despair, injustice–unthinkable atrocities like children being separated from their families and detained–our heart wants to shut down. It is too much. I can’t do this. This can’t be happening. Or, serves them right, they broke the law, send them back home. I never said life was fair. Hearts shut down and fear/bitterness/anger takes hold.

This past week I was finding myself teetering between shutting down (“I’m going to ignore Facebook right now”) and also automatically writing the story’s ending. (“This is Nazi, Germany. This escalates from here. Next comes the [insert parade of horrors]”).

But then I realized that when my mind creates that ending, that is the ending we get. So I decided to choose a different endingThis story will end with love of millions raising voices and declaring, we demand ferocious, expansive love that protects, lifts, liberates, reunites and heals.  

I’ve decided that I’m going to create my reality based on love. I’m going to make the bold declaration that my choice has ripples — the people around me can also choose to be emboldened by love and light and join me in making a different ending to the story.

If you want love, be love.

If you want peace, be peace.

If you want hope, be hope. 

Every breath in, every breath out, I can choose to listen to the fear or to the love. Right now, in this moment, and for the next moment and the moment after that, I’m choosing to side with love. I’m daring to dream a new ending to the story. I dare you to do the same.

 

 

The heart wants what it wants

The heart wants what it wants. If the heart wants something that triggers intense pain or strong reactions, resist the urge to shut it down. The goal is not to repress what the heart is stirred to express (hopes, losses, despairs, longings) but rather to hold it all in love….and then release. Staying in the flow of life means feeling what needs to be felt. This alone does not make you a victim of life–it’s the story you tell about the feelings that create liberation or victimization.art by Lori Portka.

I’d like to thank all the Sarahs . . .

I think it’s time to forgive all the Sarahs. Heck, not just forgive them — thank them!

They were doing the best they could. They had lessons to learn! I couldn’t be who I am today without them. Wait, this is sounding like an acceptance speech . . .

“I’d like to thank the academy, my husband, my agent, and I’d especially like to thank all the Sarahs who helped me get to where I am today:

“Law-school-Sarah, thank you for showing me what is possible when all my focus is channeled to one task. You showed me that if I stand squarely in my masculine I can achieve pretty much anything I set my mind to. (Never mind if most of it is a pointless exercise in competition, winner-take-all gamesmanship, and distorted-masculinity. But I digress.) You also showed me that there is a cost to be paid when it means shutting down my feminine energy that is the source of vitality, joy and creativity. Law school Sarah, I look at photos of you and I think, damn, that girl just needs a break. Your hair is dry, your face is puffy and you don’t really exude happiness do you? You showed me the costs of polarity within myself. Thanks for that very big lesson, girl. Now go get a facial!

“I’d also like to thank grieving, collapsed on the sofa new-mom-Sarah for showing me the gifts of surrender. Girl, you had a tough time of it too. Your mom died, your cat died, and you could have probably used a facial as well. But wow you learned that there are times to surrender and throw your arms up. To proclaim to the universe, I don’t have any answers so some help here would be appreciated. You learned to be still and receive. You gave so much of yourself that you were due for a long period of rest and renewal. You found your way back to your heart and lit the spark of the divine feminine within. You transmuted pain with your writing and art. That is kind of a big deal! I’m so thankful for you for showing the way back to the things that make my heart sing. What a gift!

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“And lastly–this is the hardest one because it is so raw–I’d like to thank infertility Sarah. I didn’t want to see your gifts because not fair! But alas, you had them too. If it weren’t for you I wouldn’t have demanded my own vitality. Imagine that. It took a representative of the patriarchy–a male in a white lab coat, discussing my body like it was a machine to be fixed and tweaked–for me to realize that this was not okay. It was not okay that my body was dried up, spent, and lacking in feminine life force itself! It was a confirmation of something I knew and had ignored: that I had given too much and my cup was empty, that there had to be a better way of living than depending on another cup of coffee. You showed me, dear heartbroken Sarah, that you matter.  You matter beyond comprehension. You matter more than your ability  to create new life. Imagine if you had waited to learn this lesson from staring at a different clinical diagnosis? What a gift that you were shaken awake.

“What’s that? You cut to commercial five minutes ago? But there are so many other Sarahs to thank! Fine, but I won’t leave this stage without a fight. Oprah for president! Impeach Trump! You will not silence me!!” [Mic cut.]

For real though, there are other Sarahs to thank. But for today this will do.

What past selves do you think you might be able to forgive? It’s okay if it doesn’t come easily or quickly. This post is the end product of more sad, self-indulgent journal entries than I care to admit!

I hereby surrender

I hereby surrender:

To the unknown (and to knowing I never had control to begin with);

To acknowledging that some things our heart desires cannot be forced or cajoled

that everything I’ve received and will receive is a gift.

I hereby turn over my worries, fears, anxieties, disappointments and “what ifs” to the divine mother to hold.

I hereby surrender and accept my current reality as it stands–in its messy glory, its ecstatic uncertainty.

Recognizing full well I may not get the outcome I desire–for I may get something wiser.