The Marrow Is The Message

spiritual-guidance

I’m going to write something super polarizing today. You’ll either love it, or you’ll hate it, and that’s okay. I’m still going to do it anyways.

Let’s talk about something we don’t like to talk about:
Religion. Belief. Spirituality. Faith.

I was raised and baptized in the Catholic church. I talk a lot about trust and faith and the power of surrender. I believe energy is everything and everything is energy. I read a wide variety of books, from varying people, backgrounds, religions, and faiths. I’ve read books on buddhism and books by Christian authors. I’ve had my chart read by well known astrologers. I own a tarot deck. I meditate and I pray. I worship in the church of Mother Earth to music that soothes my soul. I channel the divine in my writing, I play with gemstones, and I do yoga moves to open up my fifth chakra. I’m trained in several forms of energy work and different healing modalities. The Hindu Goddess Kali has been a huge guide in my life and work after coming to me in a dream. I work regularly with an amazing intuitive coach.

But, none of these facts actually matter. And if you can’t get past that paragraph and all the ways you disagree with what I’ve shared, you’re likely missing some important points in life.

All of the above is simply the bones.

The structure and format of the spiritual practices and education and experiences from my life. The tools and resources and communities that have held me, educated me, supported me, or pissed me off. The people and goddesses and guides who have appeared in my life to move me into what comes next.

The marrow is the message.

And if you spend too much time getting hung up on the bones and how they’re shaped or colored or who molded them into being, you can’t hear the message. The message is the only thing that really matters.

Whether you believe in God or the Universe or Buddha or energy or the flow of the seasons… you’re always being guided. And sometimes that guidance will come packaged in another faith or set of beliefs or culture or mythological story. Sometimes it comes in silly social media memes shared by people you barely know.

I truly believe one of the reasons I’ve created such powerful shifts in my life an work is because I’m always listening for the message. Not looking, because “looking” often equates to “forcing signs where there are no signs,” but truly, deeply listening. Being as open and loving and present as possible with everything and everyone that crosses my path. And inside that openness and presence I’m able to hear the tiny nuggets of wisdom that are meant to guide me.

The path to becoming who we are and stepping into the work we’re here to do is built with breadcrumbs, and the sooner we begin to open to the big wide world around us and all the ways the signs and wisdom and nuggets of guidance show up, the sooner we’re able to experience true fulfillment, passion, and joy.

So by all means, believe what you believe. Practice and serve and worship in all the ways that feel true to you. But start paying some attention to the messages that drop in from outside sources… and look deeper inside the bones.

I’m Not Afraid Of My Story

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I’m not afraid of my story. Not because it’s filled with success and glory and gold stars all around… but because it’s laced with depression and anxiety, loss, and the most challenging kind of grief. Because it’s filled to the brim with spectacular mistakes and missteps, as well as ridiculously bad decisions. Because it’s colored by heartbreak, abuse, suicide, and toxic relationships. Because it’s messy and challenging and has, at times, ripped me clean in two.

I’ve done the dumbest things.
I’ve hurt people in ways I’m far from proud of.
I’ve lied and cheated and stolen.
I’ve bent and folded and let others take pieces of me.
I’ve fallen, more times than I can count.

But no, I’m not afraid of my story.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

I am deeply in love with my story.
Truly, madly, deeply.

Every part of it.

The more deeply I’ve allowed myself to dive into the dark parts, the places most won’t even consider looking, the more in love with life I’ve become. The more I’ve grown and shifted and come home to myself. The more fully I’ve allowed myself to feel all the feels that come with loss and heartbreak and the challenges of this life, in all the ways many choose to avoid, the more vibrant and beautiful and absolutely amazing my life and relationships have become. And the more fully I’ve told the truth, in my words and actions and the way I live my life, the more I’ve been able to step into who I’m here to be and the work I’m here to do.

And the more I’ve chosen to tell the truth and share my story, the more people I’ve been able to serve and support in a very powerful way.

Because I’m not afraid to admit that I’m imperfect, that I struggle, or that life has thrown me curveballs. I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve been to hell and back, and that I’m doing the best I can in each moment, just like everyone else.

And you… I’m not afraid of your story either.

I’m one of those people that others tend to open up to… deeply and nearly immediately after meeting. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of casual meet-and-greet conversations that turned into deep talks about love or loss. The business meetings that went from logos to skeletons in the closet or pasts laced with shame and regret. And all the moments where people get honest about what they really desire, their biggest, scariest hopes, and dreams for this life.

I love it.

I love every story of heartbreak and loss. I love hearing about the stupid decisions and the things people are least proud of. I love to hear about the ways we hurt others and why we didn’t know any better at the time.

I love to know people, through and through.
To hear where they’ve been and where they want to go.
To see their tears and feel their truth in my bones.

I love the moments when people show me they’re real. When they take down the walls or polished facades and show me their scars. All the places where life kicked them around and left marks as it passed.

And mostly, I love the moments where people exhale a breath of pure relief… because they’ve given light to what was tucked away in the darkness, in the cracks of their soul, the crevices of their heart.

Our stories have the power to own us if we let them.

They have the power to eat us alive from the inside out. To lace our cells with cancer and disease. To tear us down from the weight of it all. They have the power to color our days and bring fear to our hearts.

They also have the power to set us free.

To show us what it really means to deeply connect with another human. To heal our hearts and mend our biggest wounds. They have the power to serve the world in a greater way than we could ever imagine on our own. To give others permission, to show them they’re not alone, and to bond us all together as we navigate the ridiculousness of life.

So, don’t be afraid of your story.
Share it loud and proud.
Own it, every single moment.
And let it set you free.

On Taking Up Space, Having a Voice, and Being Who You Are

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I’m not proud to admit that I let people take pieces of me over the years — that I let myself believe I was wrong for who I am — and so I changed or shrunk or tucked parts away. I’m not to the point of feeling grateful for all the times I gave away my power to someone or something else, because I’m still untangling the mess of beliefs and stories and emotions that came from allowing other people’s “stuff” (aka fears or discomfort or insecurities or individual beliefs) to mold me.

But, I am learning how to take those pieces back, to reclaim the parts of me I bent or folded down to ”fit” inside someones expectation of who I should be. I am learning how to let the “too-muchness” shine bright, wiping away all the layers of “stuff” that dimmed my inner light over the years. I’m learning how to anchor myself more deeply into my own truth, so that I only stand taller and more firmly rooted in myself when the winds of challenge or shame try to uproot me.

I’m learning how to fight for the right to be who I am. To take up space. To have a voice.

This work is hard.
Some of the hardest I’ve done.

Because it’s asking me to face my greatest fears and my deepest wounds: that I’m not enough… that I’m too much… or, and this is the hardest to even write out, that I’m unlovable at my core.

Ouch.

We all share similar beliefs to the ones I wrote above. They show up for us differently. They were planted in varying ways. And they continue to grow and be triggered by very individual things. But if you’re still reading this post, my sense is that you likely resonate with one or all of them. Or, you simply struggle to take up your own space in this world.

Being who we are, taking up space, and owning our voice is hard and terrifying and challenging work. It opens us up to rejection and judgment, sometimes even abandonment. It bumps up against our deepest wounds and pains.

Yes, it’s highly likely we’ll be judged and even rejected.
Yes, it’s one of the hardest things we may ever face.
Yes, it cracks us open, time and time again.
Yes, it hurts like hell and leaves bumps and bruises as it goes.
Yes, it requires sinking into the deepest depths of our souls.
Yes, it requires facing the parts of us we’d rather ignore.

AND… it’s the most important work we will ever do.
The most rewarding, life altering work.

Because as hard as it’s been to learn how to take up space, share my voice, and be myself fully and completely at all times — with all people — I have never felt more aligned, fulfilled, and light. Nothing is left unsaid. Nothing is buried or tucked away. And there’s a beautiful lightness inside that I’ve never experienced before.

I had to fight like hell to get to where I am… and I still have so much more work to do. I’ve had to take a stand in ways that feel very jarring and confrontational to my quiet, still, people-pleasing self. I’ve shed a lot of angry, sad, highly emotional tears with the ones I love. And I’ve received so much wisdom and guidance from my mentors, closest friends, healing practices, and divine downloads.

I hate this work.
And I love it so, so much.

I’m tired and worn down.
And I’ve never felt as light as I do right now.

I’m deep in the muck of my own “stuff.”
And I’ve never been more free.

So today, this week, this month… I invite you to take up a little more space. Let your voice and preferences and beliefs be heard. Take a stand for what matters most to you, in whatever way feels right. Be a presence in every room and conversation. Unfold a little piece of you that got tucked away.

The world needs YOU.

How To Deal With Tragedy

I don’t watch or read the news.
I stopped probably five or six years ago.

Honestly, I stopped because I had to.

I’m a highly sensitive empath and the weight of the world is too much for my heart to handle at times, as big and vastly loving as it might be. Because when I watched or read the news — which structures itself intentionally to feed fear and frenzy and panic in its viewers — it flattened me, sometimes for days and weeks at a time.

Not watching the news doesn’t mean I’m not aware of what’s happening in the world around me… because I’m on social media, because the radio stations sporadically give news updates, and mostly because I’m surrounded by so many beautiful, passionate, caring, and purposeful souls who are constantly taking a stand for the things that matter most to them.

So… I know about the tragedy that happened in Orlando.
I heard all about Brock Turner and his “sentence.”
I’m aware of the ridiculousness that is our political scene right now.

And that’s just recent news from the United States.

Several years ago, news like this would have brought me to my knees and made me wonder what the point of this life was. I used to be convinced all people were awful creatures. I used to hate the world. I used to be so deflated by the day-to-day horrors that I could hardly function. And if I could muster up the strength to try and do something about it all, I would be paralyzed by the enormous amount of suffering around me, not knowing where to start.

I understand how terrifying it can feel to be alive in the world right now. I understand how devastating and frustrating it can be to watch as so much horror, suffering, violence, and hatred spreads across the globe. I understand how easy it is to focus on all that’s wrong… to be angry when it feels like not enough is being done to create the changes we all need and crave.

While it’s hard not to try and solve all the problems in this world, now more than ever, we have to focus on our own work.

It took a long time, but I’ve finally learned that I’m only one person, and I simply can’t bear the weight of the world on these little shoulders of mine. I can’t solve all the problems, all the time, for all the people. No one can.

What we can do, however, is our individual work in this world.

The truth is, not every tragedy, environmental challenge, social injustice, political misstep, or world conflict is aligned with my work. This breaks my heart, because I still want nothing more than to fix all that’s broken and damaged in this world, but I’m just one person. I’m not here to fix the whole world… and neither are you.

Now, before you get upset, hear me out.

This isn’t a post about “things just being the way they are.” This isn’t a post about indifference or ignoring all that pains our souls. This is a post about stepping up and making a difference in the only way that we really can.

Because despite not being here to fix the world, we’re absolutely here to contribute in very specific ways. I’m called to do very specific work — as are you — and that work has a ripple effect out into the lives of others, as well as their communities and the world around us.

This world is tragic and hard, and it breaks my heart in a hundred ways every single day. But I truly believe that our purpose comes from our pain, and my personal pain is deeply rooted in depression, suicide, grief, and all the ways we lose ourselves along the journey. My passion is helping people fully choose to stay, and teaching them what it means to live life fully aligned and fully expressed, so they can go on and contribute/heal/teach in all the ways I can’t.

This is my work, my purpose, my calling.
This is how I heal broken hearts of all kinds.
This is how I reduce the suffering that surrounds me.
This is how I impact the world, however big or small, far or wide.
This is how I make sense of all that is tragic and hard.
This is how I find beauty and joy in a world that is messy and chaotic.

So, regardless of how overwhelming the world feels right now, I want you to know that you have everything you need to create the change you want to see… right now. Simply because you’re here. Because you have a heart that cries out loudly around specific injustices. Simply because you’ve lived and loved and lost. Because you’ve crashed and burned, failed and made mistakes. Because you’ve suffered… and you are still living to tell the tale, regardless of whether or not you’ve “made it through” yet. You have wisdom and insight and gifts to give.

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You have the power to make a difference simply by showing up and telling the truth, by giving a voice to that which burns fiercely inside your heart, and by giving your whole being to the things that matter most… to you.

Not what matters most to me.
Not what matters most to your family or friends.
And certainly not what matters most to your social media circles.

Does this mean we ignore everything else?
No, absolutely not.

We give blood when we can.
We donate money or resources when we’re able.
We love and support and care for the wounded and beaten down.
We speak up when the opportunity to take a stand presents itself.
We vote. We volunteer. We protest. We sign the petitions.
We help in whatever way we can, whenever someone is in need.

But what we don’t do is water down our gifts and voice and unique contribution by trying to dedicate ourselves to absolutely every single tragedy, injustice, political issue, or environmental tragedy that’s happening.

So, if you’re feeling down about the world… ask yourself what hurts the most right now, and give everything you can to making a difference in that area. Don’t just sit around and share news stories with sad emojis online. Don’t rant from behind a screen about how “someone” needs to change something.

Get out there and do your work.
The world is waiting.

Your Feelings Are Welcome

“I am so freaking MAD and SAD and OVER EVERYTHING,” I texted my best friend late one night. “Just layers and layers of unmet sadness and anger and tired-of-the-bullshit are done being unacknowledged. I feel like a hot disastrous mess and it is not fun.”

I was sobbing. And reeling. Every cell in my being was vibrating with a blur of anger and sadness with a source that was nearly unidentifiable. It was just a big mashed up mess of stuff that sat for too long.

“Being a mess is good,” he replied with wisdom, as he always does. “That’s all the stuff that’s built up over a long time coming out.”

The truth is, I’m a feelings machine.

I feel all the feelings, all the time. With intensity. With force. With depth. With every bone in my body… whether I’m sad, excited, angry, or hurt.

And you know what?
I love to feel my feelings.

I love to be overwhelmed by them.
Engulfed by them.
Turned upside down inside of them.

But, truth be told, I love the dark, hard, challenging ones the most… because the dark, hard, challenging ones are the ones that break us down and crack us open in all the ways we most need. Being cracked open, though it hurts like hell, has made up the most beautiful moments of my entire life. And it’s allowed me to feel the joy, love, peace, and passion with even more richness and intensity.

I spent a very large portion of my adult life in a state of numbness. So much so that I had to learn to fake emotion. To laugh at things that were supposed to be funny. To be enthused and excited about gifts and surprises. To be sad and cry about things that were sad and cry worthy.

People have told me my entire life, in their own ways and words, that my feelings are “too much.” I’m too intense, too passionate, too deep, too dark, too feeling, or that I care too much or for too long. They’ve actively shut me down from their own discomfort. From their own inability to face their emotions, to feel them fully and completely.

And, more times than I care to admit, I’ve let them do it. But I’m finally learning how to stay open and feeling and “too much” anyways. Despite who feels uncomfortable. Despite who’s unable to meet me inside of it. Despite those that tell me I need to get over it already, feel differently, or be less than I am.

Because when I shut the feelings down — when I let them continue to be unmet or made wrong — I lose myself.

Big, chunky, important pieces of who I am. The part of me that creates and writes and passionately works to make a difference in this world. The part of me that is a gifted empath and intuitive. The part that innovates and catalyzes change in others and the world around me.

And I lose the part of me they most want to return… the light, the laughter, the bubbly, sparkly, in-love-with-life-ness.

You can’t have the bubbles and sparkles without the intense depths from which they surface. You can’t have the light and laughter without the darkness and the tears. You can’t have the in-love-with-life-ness without the parts of me that question the point of any of it, the parts that don’t belong and will never understand this world.

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You’re a feelings machine too, though you may not know it.

Probably because you’ve shut that part of you down, or you’re afraid to show it. Or maybe because the thought of venturing into that pocket inside yourself is terrifying. Or, like me, someone told you that it was too much, unwelcome, and that they preferred another part of you instead. That they only wanted the easy, happy, shiny pieces, because they’re afraid to face their own darkness. Their own unmet, unacknowledged, and stuffed down hurt or anger or sadness.

I’m here to remind you, and myself, that all your feelings are welcome. All your emotions, your “too much-ness”, your intensity. All the parts of you that are deep and dark and challenging and hard.

They are welcome.
They are beautiful and true.
They are healing and powerful.
They are the place from which the light is born.
They are the reason you can feel so much love and joy.

They are welcome, so let them move through.

Find the people who can sit with you inside of them without making you wrong or too much or too slow to feel… and hold them tight. Anyone who is unwilling or unable to meet you there — anyone who can’t handle all parts of you — well, they don’t deserve the light, the laughter, the bubbly, sparkly, in-love-with-life-ness that comes from the dark, hard, challenging parts, now do they?

People around me have noticed how “happy” I’ve been lately and I can 100% say that I have never felt more happy, authentic, confident, and healthy as I do now. I am so grateful to Stephenie for helping me begin this journey of self discovery.

— Jennifer McAleese