Monthly Archives: March 2015

GOLD

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This was my “office” yesterday.

I drove to Coronado, a little island here in San Diego, and I drove on base and grabbed a fish taco to go and then did my 20 minutes of soul time and my writing time right there on the beach. Hashtag breathing room.

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I spread out my beach blanket, the blue and white throw I got in the Middle East the first year Steve and I were married. I love it. As I was settling in to eat my lunch, I noticed {not pictured} to my right a young woman doing yoga in the world’s most microscopic bikini.

Every guy that ran by on the beach just about fell down. The lifeguard circled in his little jeep-thing more times than I believe was actually necessary. I mean, there was no one even in the water near us.

At first it was just sun salutations but then I look over — as I’m shoving down my fish taco — and she’s got one of her legs up in the air. In the world’s most microscopic bikini, in case I hadn’t mentioned that. And I was like, Good grief. There are CHILDREN nearby. FAMILIES. DOGS. I’m EATING over here. Put your LEG down.

Of course I said these things only to myself . . . mostly.

Then a little voice inside me said: “Isn’t it interesting that you came to the beach today and there’s a woman doing yoga on the beach right here, right where you’re sitting? Don’t you find that interesting? And isn’t it interesting that you’re annoyed? Don’t you find that interesting?”

Shut up.

I did not find any of it interesting.

And then I thought about a story that I hadn’t thought about in awhile: A long time ago I was talking to a middle-aged woman who was bookish and wore sensible shoes and she told me she danced on the beach as her way of experiencing God.

When she told me this, I was struck dumb. I stood there looking at her with my mouth open. I’m sorry, what did you say?

I wrote about her in my first book. And, of all the stories I’ve written over the years, that is one of my very favorites. Because she was free. And I was so envious of her freedom. To be Plain Jane and to dance and dance and dance. Right there on the beach.

Dancing is the embodiment of freedom, to me. And I’m a very self-conscious dancer. I don’t even really wish I was a better dancer. I just wish I was a freer dancer. And the bookish woman, dancing her prayers to God, was FREE.

And this hot little twenty-something in her itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie was free, too. Maybe she liked the attention. Maybe she needed the attention. I don’t know. But the fact that she was comfortable enough to do her practice right there on the beach . . . well perhaps, deep down, I was feeling that familiar envy. The envy I felt for Plain Jane.

And then, as I watched Yoga Babe, that little voice inside me said: You want to edit her in all the ways you edit yourself. You’re bothered by her because you perceive her to have something you want: Freedom to be yourself. Freedom to express. Freedom to move.

I tried to drown that little voice with my Diet Coke {which I am officially off of except sometimes} but that little voice is surprisingly resilient.

So I got up off my blanket and walked right past her and — while dodging men who were practically jogging in place in order to watch her — went out into the ocean, which was ice cold and immediately refreshing. I did my 4-7-8 breathing Erica taught me (inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts, exhale for 8 counts), and I looked down.

The water was so shallow that it was perfectly clear and I could see gold glitter in the sand I was standing on. Like someone had dumped glitter everywhere. It’s mica. And it’s so beautiful.

I let the water splash up my leggings. Farther than I intended, but it was so hot, and it felt good.

I turned to walk back to my blanket and the yoga girl’s mat was there but she was gone.

And the little voice said: Expand. Expand instead of edit.

{Which, of course, is gold.}

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less trying, more trusting

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“If she got really quiet and listened, new parts of her wanted to speak.”

Making space to get really quiet and listen is holy work. And it’s kind of crazy what emerges if we’ll stop striving and just surrender. Less trying, more trusting.

I heard Glennon Doyle Melton of the epically popular blog, Momastery, speak this weekend. A dear friend invited me to go and I was so grateful. We had lunch on the water with another friend before hearing Glennon. It was all so good for the soul — including, putting on a dress and carrying a small purse and eating the Skirts on Fire steak salad at C Level, which is one of the best plates of food in San Diego if you ask me.

Glennon said a lot of great stuff, but what I’ve been thinking about since she spoke was her ideas about the “easy buttons” we push in life to keep ourselves from getting too uncomfortable. All the ways we’d rather numb than feel.

I guess because often I feel like a million raw nerve endings all at once. Very feely. And that’s a vulnerable way to go through life, to be honest.

Recently someone encouraged me to spend 20 minutes a day with my soul. “Have tea with your soul,” she told me. When we want to push the easy buttons because we need to wriggle away from the intensity we’re feeling, what I’m seeing is that 20 minutes with my soul is, actually, really what I’m after, what will settle me down, and help me begin again.

Of course, this creates a space for MY own voice to emerge. And it’s creates a space for God’s voice too. And that is magic. That is a transcendent moment–when the real me meets the real God-in-me. Which we are all longing for. Getting in touch with that “divinely endowed center.”

This is certainly not a revolutionary concept. But it is a revolutionary practice. Twenty minutes of space and time to quiet down and listen. It might surprise you what you hear. Or, it might not surprise you at all, which is telling too, isn’t it.

I can really fall back on being a “try-er” by nature. Someone who muscles through. Someone who tries tries tries.

Twenty minutes of teatime with the soul is LESS TRYING AND MORE TRUSTING. It is “learning the unforced rhythms of grace” (thank you, Eugene Peterson, for that beautiful phrase).

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Because you are wildly loved,

Leeana

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spring

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Over the holidays I went with my mom to a cool salvage place and found a bucket full of vintage mattress springs. I looked them over and then walked away because why in the world would someone want a bucket of old springs.

But my intuition kept thinking about those springs. Have you ever had that happen? You see something and can’t really explain why you’re drawn to it, but—strangely—you are absolutely drawn to it.

I kept circling around the springs, trying to figure out what I’d use them for. In the back of my mind I was thinking about the upcoming found art workshop I was hosting, and so I decided to purchase the springs and figure out later how I’d incorporate them into the workshop.

I’ve been trying to do this more . . . honor my intuition. Honor that deeper voice inside me that has something to say and wants to show me something. When I feel that tapping on my soul, I’m trying to be a better listener.

The more I thought about the springs, the more I kept coming across references to Spring—as in, the season that is upon us.

I read this from Emily Dickinson:

Spring is the Period

Express from God.

And this from William Carlos Williams:

Still, the profound change

has come upon them: rooted, they

grip down and begin to awaken

Spring is awakening. I love that. And, if we are to believe Emily Dickinson (we’d be idiots not to), then it is an awakening straight from God. Love that, too.

The longer I looked at my vintage mattress springs, I realized why I was drawn to them: I tend to get overly rigid, especially when things feel chaotic externally or internally or both. I get tense and inflexible. I’m unbending with myself, which is typically unhelpful. This, then, makes me unbending with those I love, which is also typically unhelpful.

I start nitpicking (not a terribly attractive trait). I get anxious.

When I look at the spring, I’m reminded to stay flexible, to have give, keep it loose. The spring is the very essence of resilience. It gets compressed and it flows, reshapes, returns. Like Spring, too.

Kinda like grace, I guess.

If you’re feeling rigid, I get it. But how could we drop our shoulders, breathe into the tight places, and allow ourselves to be a bit less inflexible and a bit more forgiving—with ourselves, with those we love, with the horrible carpet in the girls’ room, with the black nail polish on the dining room wall, with all our feelings of over-responsibility, with our spouses (ugghhhh), with our kids, with all our worries.

When I’m at my most rigid, all of life comes from trying, trying, trying. There’s an easier way to live, a lighter way to live, I’m convinced. And it looks a lot more like this:

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Love and S/spring,

Leeana

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you’ll play against you

dr seussIn honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday yesterday, I thought I’d share one of my very favorite quotes of his. Taken from Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ’cause you’ll play against you.”

Comparing your body to someone else’s is a game you can’t win.

Bullying yourself into being better is a game you can’t win.

Ignoring your limits is a game you can’t win.

Sabotaging your passions is a game you can’t win.

Caring for everyone else except yourself is a game you can’t win.

Wishing for someone else’s marriage is a game you can’t win.

Pretending you are someone else is a game you can’t win.

Pleasing everyone is a game you can’t win.

Overriding your intuiting is a game you can’t win.

Editing yourself is a game you can’t win.

Thinking you can do it all on your own is a game you can’t win.

Depriving yourself is a game you can’t win.

But here’s a game you can’t lose: Believing you are WILDLY loved.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. How would I live? What would I say, do, create, change . . . if I actually fully believed I was wildly loved? If I trusted there was nothing to earn, nothing to prove, nothing to secure. It was all already done. And my job was to simply live and love and create and breathe.

What if I didn’t come into this world in a deficit, needing to make up for that lack the rest of my life? What if I came into this world in abundance, simply invited to celebrate that abundance with my particular and unique passions? What if? What then?

Too many of us are stuck in games we can’t win because we’re in the ring with ourselves. Let’s do the brave work of confronting the places in our lives where we’re locked in a lose/lose, where we’re trying to make up for a lack that the Spirit has already covered.

And, let’s do it together.

(Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss, and thanks for this truth.)

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