We are the Fire

photo cred: source unknown (let me know if you know and I'll cite) 

photo cred: source unknown (let me know if you know and I'll cite) 

As of the writing of this blog post, I am currently in the midst of a divine feminine pilgrimage around the south of France. I am visiting three relatively well-known sites that all have ties to pre-Christianity and post Christianity feminine significance.  

1. Sainte Baume: The Grotto (cave) of Mary Magdelene. According to legend Mary Magdelene came to what is now Southern France on a ship with no sails and ended up living in this cave for 30 years, until her death. This cave supposedly holds her "relics" aka bones. Close to this site is the Cave of Eggs. An ancient place associated with the Goddess and a place where pre-Christian pagans came to ask for assistance on matters of fertility.

the grotto of Mary Magdelene in St. Baume, France

the grotto of Mary Magdelene in St. Baume, France

2. Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer. Saint Sarah, the Black Madonna. There is a "black Madonna" statue in the crypts of the church in the small town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer, France that was discovered in the 1500s. There are a few black Madonna statues scattered throughout Europe. They are on the whole very old and very rare. Mostly shrouded in mystery as far as origins and explanations. For instance,  "Why are they black?" is a common question, but no clear answer. This particular one is the patron saint of the Romani people and is kept on display for visitors.  

Saint Sarah in Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer 

Saint Sarah in Saintes-Maries-de-la-mer 

3. Le Puy en velay. Another ancient black madonna statue, this one called, "The Black Virgin," is housed in the cathedral in Le Puy. The first record of the Black Virgin is 1294, and we know that She was very old even then. Again, mystery pervades. 

The Black Virgin at Le Puy en velay, France 

The Black Virgin at Le Puy en velay, France 

 

So the question that you may be asking yourself in one way or another is, "Why the pilgrimage, Clara?" 

Well... 

I am on this pilgrimage because as I travel this path towards more and more and greater and greater self acceptance and self love, I'm becoming more and more aware of how my power has been hidden, shamed, and disguised as something else. 

I am every day waking up to the fact that there has been an attempt to downgrade and shrink what it means to be a woman. The constant messages (media, gender roles, politics, etc) we are conditioned with do this.

For example:

  • To be a woman worthy of love or sexual attention, we need to be a certain size, shape or weight.
  • To be a "good" woman we should be calm and collected and self sacrificing
  • We should be sexy but not too sexy. 
  •  We should be be skinny, but, wait.. oh now we should be "strong" (aka musclely and lean)

And on and on. Until we're a culture full of women trying to "get their body back" and "lean out" and "fit into my skinny jeans." 

The sheer amount of time, thought energy and real energy spent by women (and men I am sure, it is spilling over) worrying about how they look, comparing themselves to others, and biting their nails over what they are eating and how they are exercising, is mind boggling. 

And I'll let you in on a little secret I've only just discovered... there's no point to any of those self-negating thoughts, the idea that we need to "punish" ourselves with food restriction or exercise, or the idea that you need to "control" yourself in any way. You don't have to do any of it. It's not helping. 

You need only love yourself and the magic starts to happen. When you commit to loving yourself no matter what, you start to want to move your body in a way that energizes you. You want to eat food that makes your body feel good. You want to set healthy boundaries and make life choices that respect your beautiful body. 

When you start to turn it all around. When you start to spend time loving yourself and thinking good thoughts about your body and all it does for you, something huge starts to happen.

You take back your autonomy and sovereignty as a woman.

You start to see that no one gets to determine your worthiness, but you. You start to see that you were never broken and you'll never be broken. You start to connect with the love that is a well spring of your heart, which comes from the inside, not the outside. And you start to wonder, as I have, what in the hell is going on that so many women feel so enslaved by external beauty standards and external worthiness ideals. 

The never ending external environmental cues we get about how we should look, act, feel, and be are powerful, no doubt, and it takes practice, commitment, and sisterhood to see through them, but self love starts to cut through the bullshit and we begin to see. 

So, that's why I'm on this pilgrimage.. to discover what has been buried in me and outside of me. To remind myself of a time and place where women were revered, and bring that time and place to the now. To familiarize myself with a divinity that includes feminine bodies and their numinous functions. To unearth the Truth that is rising in me and rising in the world. (If you're reading this, I know you can feel it too.)

The Truth is that women are sacred. That we are autonomous. That we are powerful creators and our worthiness is not given, but claimed. It's been here all along, we've just been asleep. 

This divine feminine pilgrimage is part of a waking up process that started for me when I first decided to eat in a way that served me, by listening to my body, and has snow balled into a revolutionary realization that I can say, feel, act, and BE whatever the hell I want to, because I AM. 

I Am the Fire

I am the flame that burns brighter as the night gets darker

The breath in my lungs is the wind that ignites me 

It blows out the old & takes in the new 

I am the water of my blood, flowing and adaptable, 

Waiting to transform whatever I get, into what I need

The Earth of my body being my chosen anchor

The roots running deep so that I may Rise up 

Nothing could knock me down 

I am the destroyer

I tear down delusion 

I Burn up all that doesn't serve

Only so that some new, more loving seed can be planted 

And grow, stronger & more assured 

I am the nurturer 

Straight out of creation 

Shaping form so that light may be experienced 

So that Love may be poured somewhere it has not been known before

You could not hold me down 

You could not stifle me 

You could not control me 

For I am you

I am in the wildness in Her eyes 

I am in the howl at the Moon 

I am Human & Goddess

Future & Past & Present 

You could not throw me into the Fire

for I am the Flame 

How to Love Yourself When You Don't Deserve It

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This is something that I don't really want to share, but I am sharing it anyway because I think it's of utmost importance for me to be real. For me to be honest, even about things that make me look like I don't have it together (secret: I don't! Never have.)

I've also been thinking along the lines the Rumi quote, "Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious." And Danielle LaPorte's quote, "Risk being very, very misunderstood." 

I don't want for people to see my dark side. I don't want people to think I've done wrong. It's not safe. It's not reputable.

But... 

I think it's important that people see the way that life brings me to my knees (because we're probably on our knees together) as well as to see how (when we choose to see it that way) Life hands us opportunities over and over again to bring love where there was no love before, sometimes in the most painful ways. 

I'm hoping some will relate to this and find some comfort, and that's why it's worth being vulnerable, open and honest. 

As I wrote this it also felt so incredibly healing for me. Like a weight being lifted. So I also write and share this for me. Because I don't want to cover up. I don't want to lie. I want my inner world to line up with my outer world even if that means destroying my reputation a little bit. 

"For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it could look like complete destruction." - Cynthia Occelli 

I messed up pretty bad recently. 

It hurt people. People I know and people I don't know. 

It made me look like a phony. It made me look like I don't stand strong in what I preach. 

It feels awful. 

There are parts of me that want to crawl into a hole. 

This isn't the first time something like this has happened in my life. I've lied. I've cheated. I've hurt people. 

Sometimes we do things that our higher selves would never, ever do.

Now, the question is always: why?

Why do we do things we know are wrong?

Why would we semi-knowingly do something we know has the potential to hurt a person/people?

In the case of my recent experience, I did it because I didn't take the time to stop and feel. Looking back on it, it was really an act of desperation. I got caught up in the deluded story of egoic ambition, 'lack' of time and just straight up carelessness. It felt wrong the whole time but I couldn't be bothered to notice that feeling. I had stuff that needed to get done! So I got it done. 

When we ignore our gut instincts, don't pay attention to the subtle clues, and fall into unconscious patterns we're bound to do things that don't align with our soul. 

I want to be clear about something: I am not a bad person. I am very, very committed to my work and my journey. I may have done many things in my life I am not proud of, but my heart is pure and it longs for belonging and love. I may be confused about how to get those things at times, and my ego may do things that seem obviously wrong to the rational observer, but I know it is all done with the intention of getting love and belonging. 

I believe the same is true for everyone on this planet.

As the Way of Mastery says: "Self-honesty is the greatest act of love." And I am only being honest with myself. 

I preach compassion and forgiveness but what happens when I'm the one who so desperately needs compassion and forgiveness? What about when I want so badly for the person I hurt to see my true heart and how sorry I am, but I hurt them so they're not interested? Guilt. Guilt happens. Overwhelming-gut-wrenching-heart-breaking guilt. 

Now, guilt can be constructive. It can give us a feeling in the moment that lets us know to never do that thing we just did again. When we've done wrong, we need to be aware of it. 

But, as Danielle LaPorte says, "If you can muster some tenderness for yourself when you think you’re at your worst—at precisely the time when you think you deserve criticism or punishment––then you’re on the way to stable self-esteem."

If you did something wrong, own it. Apologize. Do what you can to make amends. In this particular situation, I took complete responsibility. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning doing what I could to fix it. I expressed deep regret. I felt that guilt in the moment. And, I can honestly say it's changed me. I feel grateful for and humbled by the experience.  

Feeling the constructive guilt in the moment teaches our psyche not to do that again. But, we can't follow the story of the guilt ('I'm a bad person', 'I don't deserve love', etc) just FEEL the guilt. Is it a tightness in my chest? A gut punch? Notice the feeling. Make note of it, allow it. 

If we lie, cheat, steal, break promises, commitments, act like an asshole, it's so easy for us to fall into the self-loathing hole or we could get super defensive because we want to make excuses to make it hurt less or we could try to numb ourselves to the pain of it all with various distractions: eating, drinking, obsessing about the situation and how it could have gone differently. But this does nothing for us and nothing for the person/people we may have hurt or affected with our bad behavior. It just breaks us down. 

I'm so tempted to berate myself, feel sorry for myself, be totally depressed in a marinade of shame, and, honestly, I've given in to this a bit. 

But.... I can feel the part of me knows that this lesson will serve me. This part of me prays my suffering will be of service to the world in some way. And this part is getting stronger and stronger with each screw-up. And that's where the gratitude for a painful situation comes from. From knowing that each time I mess up, I get to bring love to a place where there has not been love before, and therefore increase the love in my life. 

"Immediate compassion for your missteps gives you the strength to take the next best step." - Danielle LaPorte

This part of me knew that I shouldn't have lied about the thing I lied about, but it also, in the background, knew that although this lesson would be painful, it would clear space for something better to take root. As Glennon Doyle Melton says, "First the pain, then the rising." This thing had to play out so that I can be where I am now, writing this piece and pouring love into a part of me that wasn't loved before. 

This experience solidifies my commitment to only doing what feels right, even if what feels right doesn't make sense in the "real" world. This experience makes so clear the ridiculousness of egoic ambition and acting out of a need for external praise. 

Sometimes the gunk, the darkness, the kept-underneath-the-rug must come to the surface to be healed. And that can look awful, messy, and a whole lot like your fault. But, it must come into the Light for it be let go. 

Whatever I did or have done, it is forgivable, but I am the only one who has to do the forgiving, other peoples' forgiveness is their own journey, which can be the hardest part of all. 

So into the Light with it all. To get through this, I'll give myself heaping doses of tenderness when I can, and when I can't, I'll pray that my suffering is of service. (Danielle LaPorte again!) 

To anyone out there struggling to forgive themselves for something they did, I'm with you. But I want you to know, no matter what it is: You have a pure heart. You can get through this and learn the lesson and become stronger for it. You are loved. You are loving. You are lovable, forever. 

Sacred Rituals

What is a sacred ritual?

These two words might conjure up images of naked women dancing around a bomb fire, or pagan sacrifices, or maybe even a taking communion at a church. Or, like me, you could have flashbacks of Buffy the Vampire Slayer reading out of some ancient book and casting spells. It could also illicit an eye-roll or two. I'm OK with that. I get it. 

If you would, please, suspend these preconceived notions about what a sacred ritual looks like or is for the duration of the time it takes to read this.

What if sacred rituals were just little actions we partook in that reminded us that there are circumstances in this world that are mysterious and out-of-of-our-control-in-a-good-way? 

We typically want everything in our life to have some semblance of control. We like comfort, consistency, and safety. This makes sense! We should want to have shelter, food, and the guarantee that our life isn't in danger. 

However, when we cling to this idea of needing-to-know too desperately, we are completely thrown off when things (inevitably) show us that we don't always have control. 

Typically, when we do realize we're not in control our mind immediately goes to the worst possible scenario.  As Gabby Bernstein explains in her book "The Universe Has Your Back" we live our lives like we're the girl in the horror movie just about to have something awful jump out in front of her. We're throwing popcorn at the screen and saying "DON'T DO IT!! YOU'RE GONNA GET HURT!!!".

The funny thing is, unlike the predictable horror movie, there normally isn't a bad guy around the corner. We're typically totally OK, and even when we're not, we typically figure it out. But we put a lot of unnecessary stress on ourselves by constantly being in the scene. 

What if the unknown or the mysterious didn't send us into a horror movie but gave us a sense of awe and wonder? 

What if instead of using our imaginations to create awful scenarios, we create beautiful ones?

Is it really that much crazier to think that taking the time to give a little offering of prayer and love to the universe could positively affect the outcome of a difficult situation, than (one of my recurring horror scenes) to feel like you're DEFINITELY going to die while you're driving in a snowstorm? We always seem to believe in the bad projections of the future and scoff at the possibility that there could be wondrous outcomes. 

Here in Bali, each day people put these little offerings (called on their doorsteps and around their home and light incense. They take the time and put the effort into creating these beautiful little offerings. These offerings are a repeated act of faith by Balinese Hindus and can be infused with intentions, prayers, or just simply put out to ask for good fortune. 

Balianese offering

Can you imagine if every person spent the time and effort of putting together a beautiful little offering and lit some incense every morning?

And so I've been thinking about this question. About the role of sacred rituals and how I might be able to create them in my life in the modern world. My feeling is that if we made time for something that felt like a sacred ritual in our lives we would feel more connected to the magic in our souls and ultimately more joyful. We would direct more of our abundant imaginative energy towards the positive instead of reliving our horror movie scene over and over. 

These sacred rituals are less about what we do, but more about how we do it. Whatever you do, do it with reverence and appreciation of something larger than just our daily routine, you can literally infuse anything with sacredness if you see it from a larger point of view. 

We are multi-dimensional beings and acknowledging our sacredness could connect us more to the aspects of ourselves that get pushed aside in our daily grind, and turn us on to the positive possibilities that come from releasing control with love instead of fear. 

So light some incense tonight. Say some prayers. Have a hot bath and honor your sacred body.

Do something that feels like it has magic in it and let me know how you feel after.... ✨💫

If you're interested in partaking in a sacred ritual but have no idea where to start I have recorded one of mine. Watch it here. Use this ritual for planting new 'seeds' in your life. A perfect time to practice this is on the night of the new moon, but it can be practiced at any time you feel you need to get back to neutral and imagine new and postive outcomes. 

 

Service and Joy: An Intro

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.

I awoke and saw that life was service.

I acted and behold...

.... service was joy.

My friends, may you experience the joy of service today and all days. 

 

The Gift of Self-Sabotage

The Gift of Self-Sabotage

We all do it and fret about it: Self-Sabotage. But what if there is a gift underneath all the late night eating and not working out? What if there is something to learned from it all that will bring us closer to ourselves and therefore actually propel us towards our real goals? 

Video Interview: 5 Ways You Can Know Yourself Better Through Other People

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Hey everyone! I thought this week I would highlight a video interview I did with Your Tango Experts that just got released last week about how to use other people to actually get to know yourself better. Check out my two cents, as well as the other incredible women who were interviewed on this subject. 


Like what you see? Register for my new webinar training: "Discover The 3 Reasons Why Health Coaches Struggle To Meet Their Own Health & Weight Goals Plus 3 Steps To Get Back On Track."

It's a webinar designed for health coaches but can really apply to anyone who has tried to be healthy, but just keeps seeming to come up against resistance to making the diet and lifestyle changes needed to illicit true transformation. 

Simple Chicken Soup to Feed the Soul

Simple Chicken Soup to Feed the Soul

It's definitely cold outside these days and we all could use a little something to warm the soul and the belly (and I'm not talking about whiskey, although that might do some good too!) ; ) Check out this awesome chicken soup recipe for something a nourishing, simple, and cheap. 

Why I Want to Be Bigger

I want to be bigger... 

Wait... is that OK to say? 

Women don't generally want to be bigger, do they? 

I have clients almost daily talk about how they wish they were smaller. They don't always say those words exactly, but that's what they mean. They say things like, "I just wish I weighed a little less," or "I just don't feel comfortable when my thighs rub together," or even, "If I could just get back the size I was a year ago, I would be happy." 

When speaking with a client the other day I asked her what she thought of when she heard the word bigger. She immediately answered that it elicits images of fat rolls, jiggling thighs, and flabby bellies. She said it makes her think of feeling oversized in a small airplane seat and the tightness of a pair jeans around her waist. That's all without a qualifier. Just the simple word "bigger." 

There's something wrong with this... 

Having the idea that our current manifested form must be smaller than it is now, is just flat out a waste of time. Your ability to exist, your right to exist, is not affected by the size of your body. You deserve to be here now. You deserve to take up the space you take up, and it this space most definitely doesn't determine your worth. 

Today, I am here to point out how good the word big can be. To me, it's in the ranks of expanding, broadening, accepting, allowing, and even, perfection. 

What if bigger meant we want to love in a bigger way? What if it meant we want to take the bigger stance? What if it meant we want to expand our minds and broaden our hearts? 

I want to live a life that's big.

My life won't shrink in the face of adversity. It will expand around it and enclose it in bigness and in wholeness. 

I want my ears and eyes to open bigger.

I don't want to only see the size of a person or shallowly admire the ripple of their muscles or comment only on the symmetry of their face. I want to hear their warm, soothing laugh and see their sharp mind. 

I want to see the bigger picture.

If I remember to see from this higher place maybe I will see that I'm not so different from them and they're not so different from me. We all have the same spark of life. The same thing keeps all our hearts beating and our lungs breathing. That's the bigger way of looking at it. 

I want my mind to be pushed to its limits; expanded. I want it to get bigger every day.

I want to fill it up to the brim with experiences, lessons, knowledge, and different philosophies. 

I want to have more connection, a tie to a bigger purpose.

I want to express this purpose boldly, fiercely and in a big way. I don't want to feel small, insignificant, trapped and uninspired. 

I want to feel more. I want to usher in the big emotions with grace and dignity.

I am human after all, a manifested, seemingly separate being that chose to come to this time and place on Earth to experience separation, in order to transform. So bring on the longings, the sadnesses, the anger. They are just proof that there is something to be missed beyond the scope of my current, small understanding. 

Next time you say you want to be smaller or imply as much, think about what you're really saying. Think about how the attitude of wanting to shrink actually effects all other areas of your life.

When you are constantly desiring to be smaller, there is a possibility that this feeling is spilling over into other aspects of our lives, and ultimately holding you back from the expansive bigness you are here to experience. 

So what do you think? Do you want to be bigger too? 

 

Podcast Alert! Restrictive Diet, Body Acceptance and Food Anxiety

Instead of writing a blog this week I wanted to encourage all of you to listen to the podcast I did with Noelle Tarr of Coconuts and Kettlebells and Stefanie Ruper of Paleo for Women

On this podcast we answered your questions about body acceptance, food anxiety, and restrictive dieting.

Enjoy!