you are irreplaceable

“You’re replaceable,” a colleague said to me last week.

These words, seemingly harsh, were delivered with fierce caring and passion upon my return to work after being away for back pain. “I’m replaceable,” she continued. “If I die tonight, my job will be posted by Friday. But I’m not replaceable to my family and loved ones.”

I’d just expressed that I felt ‘bad’ for having missed so much work, after only recently starting in my current position. “Let me tell you right now,” she responded. “Nobody is thinking that but you. Nobody cares. I mean, we care…but we’re all too busy and wrapped up in our own little worlds.”

It was clear I had limited mobility and was still in some pain. “Don’t push yourself,” she cautioned. “Nobody is going to take care of you, but you. Are you taking care of yourself?”

This is perhaps the biggest lesson I’m learning from back pain: the need for self-care. I had been pushing myself, but didn’t recognize it. ‘Pushing myself’ was just so…normal.

The emotional root of low back pain, I’ve read, is feeling unsupported. There were many factors leading to my injury. I didn’t take enough work breaks, I sat improperly and for too long, my yoga practice had lapsed. But the emotional explanation resonated. I’d long felt I was ‘going it alone’ in life: I was misunderstood, my financial situation was a bomb, relationships with men were painful, God was disappointed in me.

But was any of that actually true? Or was it that I felt deeply unworthy of receiving support?

I know this is about my experience of being a woman. I haven’t wanted to be a burden on others, to take up too much space or be seen as too demanding. I’ve tried to be independent and accommodating. On the occasions I have been called ‘selfish’, it’s kicked me right in the gut. For a woman, there can be so much loaded in that word.

Hence the compulsion to people-please, to over-accommodate. The all-consuming worry about what others will think, the inability to make a decision because I’m weighing in so many voices. These aren’t conscious behaviours; they’re deeply ingrained, woven into my cells after many years – probably generations – of conditioning.

My body had long been giving me warning signals, straining against the push to live up to expectations that were largely my own. I felt so responsible to do a good job, and guilty when I let others down. Breaking my back, bending over backwards. How bad does it have to get?

stop and notice the pink

There have been many blessings inherent in this pain. I’ve had to be vulnerable in relying on loved ones for help with everything from cleaning to driving to putting on my socks. I’m physically vulnerable to strangers. Walking to work on the downtown sidewalks, people barrel towards me. I see how fragile this body can be; one random bump could re-trigger the pain.

I’m used to being the one rushing, becoming impatient with slow walkers. I’m now one of them. I’ve discovered that it’s a relief not to rush – to have no choice but to go slow. Some people give me space, and sympathetic smiles. These are small things…but they’re not.

I hope I can hold on to all this, as my back heals. I like being vulnerable. I’m self-protective, but not on the defence. I feel softer, more raw and trusting. And my vulnerability gives others, particularly my loved ones, the chance to show kindness to me.

In receiving this care, I’m realizing that I’m the only one who saw myself as a burden. And I no longer wish to carry that belief. I’d rather be irreplaceable.

a brand new set of keys

In the past week, every key on my ring has changed. I have a new job and place to live, and even the lock at my parents’ place – my childhood home – has been replaced.

I can’t help but feel this is somehow metaphoric.

Those who know me well are not surprised by these life changes; my good friends find my constant activity highly amusing. Others have commented that I’ve experienced two major life stresses – moving and a new job – in a very compressed period of time. (I didn’t tell them about the relationship change too.)

The shifts have been stressful, but also exciting. And they feel different somehow; like there is new energy coming in, rather than recycling the old. In recent months, I’ve been longing for a place to truly call ‘home’. I now see that having to unexpectedly move out of my previous place several weeks ago was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to find a more sacred, soul-nourishing space.

I’ve also been feeling the call to perform work I can be proud of, something that contributes to the greater good. For many years, I spent time in long commutes to jobs that, after a short while, stopped being inspiring and stimulating. I’m currently working for an organization whose vision and mission I am passionate about, and it’s deeply satisfying to be part of something that feels historic and groundbreaking.

But within these changes, I’m ultimately craving simplicity. In a world that’s going madder and faster by the day, getting back to the basics – discovering what’s truly important – is essential for staying sane.

In synchronistic timing, during all this transition I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Kondo writes that putting one’s home in order can have dramatic, transformative effects in all areas of life. Like information overload clogging the mind, having too many possessions makes it unclear what we actually love…and so much of that extends way beyond material goods. If we don’t know what we love, how can we nurture it?

As I’ve sorted through clothes, books, papers, and miscellaneous items accumulated over the years, it’s become clear that holding on to belongings often stems from strong attachment to the past, or anxiety about the future.

And as I introduce items into my new space, I’m being very discriminating. Do I find it beautiful? Does it have some key functional purpose? Am I hesitant to let it go because I might need it someday? Will releasing it create room for something better (not necessarily a ‘thing’)?

One astrologer has referred to 2016 as the year of purification, and 2017 as the end of illusion. On a global level, it’s been said that horrific, unsettling events represent the darkness – the illusion of ego – coming to light. Will this pave the way for a golden age of humanity, as some suggest? I don’t know. There is a new age tendency to ‘acsension-ize’ things, and many ideas I once believed no longer resonate. My views on spirituality are transforming too.

Discernment, more than ever, is key. For me this means limiting my intake of the news and social media. I don’t think this is denial; it’s consciously being aware of fear propaganda and human programming. I’m taking more conscious responsibility for all my daily interactions and relationships, as this is where my real power lies.

My life experience is a projection of my inner thoughts and feelings…so if humanity truly is connected in oneness, I have faith that strengthening my piece of the hologram will have a positive ripple effect.

As I adjust to these new spaces, starting over again in many ways, all I can do is be easy on myself, trust that these changes are aligned with the greater good, and know that I am doing my best.

And enjoy opening some new doors.

the fires of kali

It’s curious that the things we most love to do often get pushed to the back burner during times of stress. This post is my attempt to reconnect with blogging, a bright spot in my life – but one I’ve neglected these past few weeks!

Like many others, I’ve experienced some big life changes and it’s taken most of my energy to keep up with my day-to-day routine during all the transition. Last month, I moved homes yet again. Those who know me will probably find this amusing, as I change addresses more frequently than anyone I know…but these particular circumstances were unsettling and threw me off center. The silver lining? I’ve discovered that I’m getting tired of being a gypsy. I’m craving a real sanctuary, somewhere I can land at the end of the day and truly call ‘home’. I’m intrigued at what this realization might bring!

The past is certainly coming up for re-evaluation and reconfiguration. An old flame recently returned to my life, and the relationship is evolving into something new. Is it resurrection or completion? It is hard not to ask such questions, but of course only time will tell.

technicolor kali, sonja picard

Through all of this, I’ve been feeling goddess Kali’s strong presence. Kali, the destroyer of all that is old, tired, and decayed. Her sword slashes my ego to the core, over and over again, making it excruciatingly uncomfortable to remain in habitual reactions and beliefs. She asks me: Is this really what you want? How uncomfortable does it have to get? What are you sacrificing? Is it worth it?

This all sounds intense, and it is. But there’s also been so much beauty and healing these past couple of months. My external situations are no doubt mirroring the shifts on the inside, and while this often feels stressful and exhausting, I welcome it. Things have to get completely shaken up to settle in their new and rightful places. (I’m seeing snow globes.)

Kali asks: What do you want? I usually go blank at this question. Is it because I don’t know, or I don’t feel worthy of having it, or because it’s never been about external things? Probably.

What I want is to feel my connection with my source, my creator – God – more than ever before. To use the collective chaos and turmoil as the catalyst for delving deeper into my own Self. And that means trusting my own guidance and authority, something I’ve written about before, and is more crucial than ever.

Having said that, perhaps it’s also time to start creatively dreaming about those externals! I’m feeling renewed excitement in reviving plans and projects that I shelved a while back. Doing things for the sheer enjoyment they bring, like writing and blogging. Perhaps these times present a golden opportunity, a fruitful time to plant seeds that will grow into something big. The old hardened roots have to be dug up first, leaving what looks to be a huge mess…but it’s actually the fertile soil for great beauty. Summer feels ripe for the picking.

Jai, Kali Ma.

the sword of the feminine

A few years ago, during my first Ayahuasca journey, I was shown the image of a sword. I’d never seen anything like it before. It was a work of art, beautifully silver and encrusted with jewels and crystals. I understood that this was not a weapon of destruction; it was the sword of love, cutting through all illusion. The sword of the Feminine.

I think about this sword often. Sometimes I feel it as an etheric presence behind or above me. The image was/is so pristine and powerful, merely remembering it brings me comfort and relief. The sword itself is a remembrance of something I intuitively understand but can’t quite articulate.

It’s interesting to think about the sword now, because my perceptions of the Divine Feminine and Masculine are shifting. I’m realizing that I don’t actually know what the Divine Feminine and Masculine are. It’s kind of humorous and humbling to admit that, because I’ve written about these concepts numerous times on my blog.

shakti's garden by sonja picard

shakti’s garden by sonja picard

For several years, I took part in women’s circles and gatherings. And during my Kundalini Yoga teacher training, I had many ideas for women’s workshops. But something happened earlier this summer. I went off most social media and entered major hermit mode. I had no desire to participate in or facilitate women’s gatherings. I actually felt hostile to the idea. I found myself going within to what seemed like a very frustrated, depressed place. Was this self-sabotage? Fear of change? Remnants of ancient patterns? Addiction to familiar emotions?

I realized that despite all the work, at my core I didn’t feel anything ‘Divine Feminine’ about myself.  How could I then encourage the divine in others, or see the divine in men? It’s not that I felt like a fraud…but ‘Divine Feminine’ and ‘Divine Masculine’ had become concepts I’d used and heard so many times that they no longer held meaning for me. I had thought that these spiritual principles, and others, transcended duality – but perhaps they just reinforced it.

I do believe in a Divine Feminine and Masculine essence within each one of us, which we project outward to co-create reality. But experiencing our essence is a deep and personal journey that goes beyond ‘spiritual’ or new age concepts (e.g., idealized depictions of gods and goddesses). And it takes time. Humanity has run on certain archetypes and beliefs for eons; some are loving and some are not. Can we create new archetypes, and are we ready to?

There is tremendous power in women’s circles, and I know these will re-emerge in my life, in some form, when the timing feels right. I know I don’t have to have all the answers, because I never will (and that’s so not the point). I also think more men’s groups and retreats would be very helpful. The men I know who’ve participated in such groups embody something that is truly…well, ‘divine’ is the word that comes to mind.

I believe the sword of the Feminine is guiding me to her truth and essence, which is in harmony with the Masculine. That harmony creates something new, beyond the labels and categories of duality.

We have seen so much of humanity’s darkness coming to the surface this year. I have my thoughts on the force of patriarchy, but I don’t want that to keep the ‘us against them’ dynamic alive in my psyche. I have observed the darkness within myself and, as uncomfortable as it’s been, it does feel like my process is creating more space within.

The challenge for me is to remain open and trusting in this space, not wanting to immediately fill it with anything, even ‘love’ or ‘light’ (which can be further conceptualizations of the mind). The space itself is highly intelligent, and from this place we can create relationships beyond what we’ve ever known.

reflections on a cringeworthy post

One of my most-liked posts now makes me cringe. At the time of writing it, I was overjoyed to have reconnected with an old flame. I felt inspired to share the role I’d played in our breakup, and express my gratitude for having him back in my life. Our relationship had ended years before that, and I’d had other love interests since then…but I’d long held on to the secret wish that he and I would someday end up together. So when we reconnected, I had some pretty high expectations.

We disconnected shortly after that, and I was crushed. And then, a year later, we reconnected and disconnected again. It was dawning on me…this relationship was probably not going to happen. I had to let those last tenacious strings of hope disintegrate.

mosaic rock

That post makes me cringe because I can now feel how damn hard on myself I was, for so long. Yes, I behaved badly at many points in our relationship. But I had no ability to see myself as innocent, hurting, and capable of anything different. I was ashamed of myself while we were together, and blamed myself long after we parted. Self-compassion was not on my radar.

I desperately wanted forgiveness, but I was seeking it externally. Eventually I realized that I couldn’t wait for someone else (including God) to forgive me. I had to forgive myself first; only then would I allow myself to be forgiven by others. (And be okay with them not forgiving me at all.)

In letting myself off the hook, I have to let others off the hook. I can’t proclaim to know why things do and don’t happen, what the bigger purpose is, or what’s to come. At a certain point all I can do is be okay with not knowing why. My ego hates not knowing why. It doesn’t want to love this other soul, and love myself too. It wants to create a power struggle, and it wants to win. It wants analyses, justice, closure, and completion. But those things don’t necessarily bring peace or freedom.

I do thank this man for being a catalyst for my self-growth; no one else got that deep. I do believe that our relationship was divinely orchestrated. But now I must focus on all that is good and true about me – not what needs to be ‘fixed’. It’s time to release him (and anyone else) as an excuse to not move forward with my life.

Funnily enough, this post wasn’t supposed to be on relationships. I’d intended to write about my blog being a platform for my shifting perspectives – the cringeworthy post being one prime example. My ideas are never meant to be static, but rather expressions of my consciousness at a given time. The act of writing itself often elicits new insights…and these will surely change as I learn and grow.

So, having written all that, and re-reading that post…it doesn’t make me cringe anymore. I feel softness for it. Those words still ring true, and they’ve led me here, to this new vista. And even when my ego’s fighting it, I know that here, love rules the day.

Namaste.

delusions in love and money

A couple of weeks ago I returned to my hometown after five months living in a much smaller city. I’m happy to be back. Though my time on the Island was powerful, it was also quite challenging. I missed my native city’s buzz and beauty, and my friends and family.

Wherever you go, there you are. It’s true. Moving to a new location may seem like the solution to our frustrations, but once the novelty wears off we often find our old thoughts and behaviours creeping back in, like weeds growing in our minds. The same dynamics appear, but with new faces and places.

On the other hand, new scenery can give us a reset or fresh perspective. Many people are now being guided to relocate. Maybe we’ve learned all we can where we are, and it’s time to move on.

Personally, so many of my own illusions and delusions came to the surface these last few months, especially in terms of finances and relationships. I became aware of how intertwined my views are on love and money, and where I’ve buried my head in the sand about each. Reality can feel too painful or overwhelming to confront, so we make up stories to avoid it.

Some painted tree posts from my Island 'hood

Some painted tree posts from my Island ‘hood

I’ve never felt totally at home in 3D. I’ve preferred to spend time in realms beyond the physical, seeking the bigger picture ‘why’ of things. But I can see that over-spiritualizing – looking for a spiritual explanation for everything – doesn’t always serve. I’ve dismissed physical reality as somehow inferior to the ‘higher’ realms. It’s all just an illusion.

Yet we are in the physical, material world on planet earth, and my struggle has been with scarcity. Survival. Poverty. Not enough. I’m not enough. This has manifested in bank balances and romantic relationships that could do nothing but reflect this lack. I’ve blamed ‘evil financial corporations’ and fantasized about ‘twin flames’. I’ve been terrified that external sources had so much power over me, and that I couldn’t wriggle myself out, despite my best efforts and intentions.

It’s been essential to dive into my emotions and memories to understand where my limiting beliefs originated, and how I’ve created experiences of lack over and over. I’ve been on my self-healing journey for many years, and in feeling the pain and emptiness for so long (especially these last few months), I’m now sensing that it doesn’t mean anything.

All the stories I’ve told myself about love and money, and my worthiness (or lack thereof) to receive them, about lessons and karma and suffering, are simply not true. It seems like a paradox; we must feel the intense realness of our darkest places, our deepest lack and shame, to realize it was never true to begin with. Not for us, our parents, or our ancestors.

There is grief in this. We’ve invested so much time and energy in our stories, hopes, and delusions that we resist letting them go. We have known and loved those stories, even if they’ve caused pain. Letting go feels risky, as so many of our loved ones are invested in these same stories. We doubt ourselves. What if I’m wrong? What if God’s testing me, to show how much I care? What if I’m quitting two minutes before the miracle?

Letting go means we give up our attachment to being powerless. We don’t get to be so sad and moody anymore. A whole new range of experience awaits, and we have to be responsible. Who knows what that will demand of us!

But holding on to what’s not working eventually becomes so draining that we simply do not have the energy to continue. It’s not worth the consequences to our body and spirit. We have no recourse but to throw in the towel and trust the tiny shred of hope that something greater just might be on the horizon.

I’m open to miracles, 5D living, and quantum shifts in consciousness. Bring it on! But I’m committed to not living in la-la land. I intend to see the physical, material world with more crystal clarity than ever, knowing I have the resources to handle it. I’ll see through 3D’s illusions (and yeah, it is all illusion), so that real truth can shine through.

Happy February!

the disease of people pleasing

Where do I even begin writing about my life changes since meeting up with my dear friend Alexandra Marlene a few months ago?

Alexandra is a true conduit for the Divine Feminine. I have no doubt she is here to lovingly and ferociously shake up humanity in delivering a message the world is ready to hear NOW. She and I initially met on a yoga retreat to India a few years ago, and reconnected last November. Through her presence and friendship, I’ve been able to access deep parts of myself…belief systems so ingrained that I couldn’t see how they were running my life. It has been a profoundly healing and transformative ride.

For one thing, I never really understood how I was a people pleaser, till I took up a recent contract job with my previous employer. The workplace dynamics of hierarchy and subservience that I observed were an assault to my senses. One colleague’s overly servile behaviour particularly irked me. This is pathetic, I thought. We’re still just a bunch of secretaries running around, kowtowing to the (male) powers that be. What the hell am I doing here?!

ppl pleasing

One of Alexandra’s core teachings is as within, so without: everything in our outer world is simply a mirror to what’s happening within. And so it didn’t take long to discover that the people pleasing I perceived triggered me because I was identifying with it.

I’m now seeing my people pleasing tendencies everywhere. In my impulses to stick in smiley faces and exclamation points on work emails, so as to not sound bossy or unpleasant. In the habit of justifying or explaining myself when I think I’m disappointing someone. In my deferential behaviour towards those in ‘authority’. Even on this blog! It’s a habitual way of being, and it’s fascinating to see how it’s permeated my life.

Why do so many women people please? (Because let’s face it, this seems to be a woman thing.) After much inner excavation, I know where my own inclinations come from. And I have compassion for the little girl who desperately wanted to be liked and accepted, and who felt responsible for the well-being of those around her. For her, being ‘nice’ – compromising herself – was the only option. Disapproval = rejection = abandonment. Major fear. Survival.

But what about the woman she is now? Does she need to carry all that around? Is it serving her to pretend? Can she finally stop feeling so responsible for others? Does she get that she never had that kind of power to begin with?

And how ‘nice’ is she really being, if she’s pretending? Does inauthenticity, in any form, serve anyone?

There’s nothing wrong with nice, if it’s coming from an authentic place. It’s a problem when we get that icky feeling within…when we know we’re not acting in integrity with how we truly feel. Some of us have been doing it so long we don’t even know how we truly feel in the first place!

We get used to betraying ourselves. It becomes so normal we don’t even realize it’s happening. And then we wonder why we’re so depleted and resentful.

I judged my co-workers, because what I observed in them activated the severe discomfort of my own self-betrayal. People pleasing now feels like a hazy film that’s coated all my relationships. What could life look like with this film removed? How will I show up?

Will I become selfish, as the ego warns? Probably – but in the most beautiful way. Loving of self…none of my energy bound up in pretending…free to give even more of my real self back to those around me. Not threatened when others are their true selves too. Authentic, self-expressed, clear…yes.

It’s time for the people pleasing to stop. It’s time for self-compassion as we understand what created it. As long as we fear what others think of us, we will always play small and suppress our real power. The energies are here to support a new way of being. I believe we are ready to rise to the occasion.