History or Am I Musing?
July 23rd, 2023
I could sit here, giving you definitions, and referencing links. I could offer you book suggestions or tell you the origin story of Authentic Relating. In this moment, what feels most relevant is to tell you about my personal story of how I came to find Authentic Relating and what it means to me. This is the unscripted version where I’m owning that it doesn’t make me look good. I’m not self deprecating, but taking the time to acknowledge that why I was attracted to Authentic Relating isn’t why I currently practice and teach it.
I discovered Authentic Relating in 2017. At the time, I was developing a relationship with Candace Smith who owned the Lighthouse Studio in Oakland, CA. If you ask anyone in the community, Candace is a well known Bay Area photographer. While she doesn’t currently live here, she was an integral part of shared communities during that time. The reason I was developing a relationship with Candace is because I was a part of a project called the Fifth Element Community based out of Sonoma County with Jacqueline Van Auken and Lauren Brewer amongst others. Jacque (for short) and I were getting to know Candace as we were exploring whether or not we’d want to host groups for Fifth Element (for short) in the East Bay. I decided I wanted to know what it would feel like to be in a group for research in Candace’s space before committing to anything. I looked on the Lighthouse Studio’s calendar & saw “Essential Intimacy Salon” hosted by Arielle Brown. I felt curious & decided to enroll a woman named Mariah Starseed to attend with me who I had met recently at Melo Melo Kava Bar on University Avenue in Berkeley, CA. We arrived at Arielle’s workshop and while I don’t remember Mariah’s experience, I remember my own! I felt like arriving in Arielle’s workshop & participating was experiencing swimming in a pool of Dakota’s energy. “The work” felt like an embodiment of me. I remember very clearly feeling like, “this is me!” “I feel so seen!” “Being myself here is welcomed!” As someone who greatly struggled with understanding who I was, feeling seen, or being welcomed, anywhere, I felt immediately drawn to and captivated by Authentic Relating.
While I don’t remember Arielle explicitly calling it Authentic Relating, I knew that she was a One Taste practitioner at the time & that OM (for short) taught Authentic Relating in their workshop containers so I put 2:2 together and found myself curious about this line of work. Incidentally, I didn’t immediately dive deeper, but carried with me some of the experiences from the work. I remembered a man from that workshop telling me, “I’ve never met somebody so confident or herself.” Whether or not I felt that to be my lived experience, I began trying to weave this perception into my subconscious. “I am somebody who appears confident and herself!”
Between 2017 and the end of 2018, I threw myself into spaces like Camp Grounded & Landmark. I learned things like, technology was impacting my mental health & began questioning who I was and wanted to be if I was identified as my career? I learned that, I don’t know what I don’t know & that I’m a meaning making machine. I began becoming disillusioned with Alcoholics Anonymous, which I had been a member of since 2007 where I formerly found connection & belonging through conquering my drug & alcohol addiction amongst other dependencies.
At the end of 2018, I was living in Oakland with my partner Sean Ottoson at the time & we had a falling out with my prior roommate Katie Meeker. I needed to find somewhere to move quickly. Sean and I created our criteria & began our search. Mihai Banulescu, whom I had met during Camp Grounded, was one of my campmates in the Owl Village. We discovered he was looking for a new roommate. Mihai invited Sean and I over and our interview to move in, was playing Authentic Relating with Mihai. Mihai happened to call this, “Connection Games.” Low and behold, the interview went great & Neil Richler moved out, & Sean and I moved in. Neil Richler had known Mihai through Luminous Institute, which is another adjacent community that was located out of the Bay Area at the time. Prior to Neil, Guy Sengstock had lived with Mihai & the space that I was moving into was formerly The Circling Institute, which I later discovered is what the social technology of Authentic Relating was largely born out of.
The rest is history. A lot happened in between, which led to the inception of Authentic Bay Area.
I never intended to start my community, it happened organically. In the scheme of things, the natural progression of my finding Authentic Relating, learning how to embody, and now teaching it full time is a manifestation of discovering who I was & learning how to create what I wanted with others, which is in fact what Authentic Relating can offer to anyone who wants it. Incidentally, when I discovered who I was, I found out that what I wanted to create for others, was the ability to help them understand themselves and learn how to navigate what they want to create relationally with others so stepping into leadership in Authentic Relating was a natural fit. What I’ve discovered is that radical alignment, personally, relationally, and collectively is what’s most important to me. Figuring out how to design my life in a way that lights up my whole body and leaves me in my zone of genius, is the most important thing. Now I get to use Authentic Relating to help other people to design what’s right for them, on their own terms, with the structure that I provide in 1:1 coaching, group containers, and through building community.
I never in a million years believed that I could create what is currently unfolding within me and around me. I was someone who was traumatized and “not good enough” for the majority of my life. When I take a moment to pause & reflect on what is manifesting around me, I am absolutely blown away. A seedling became a tree, which has now become a forest.
Others before me, had their seeds, trees, and forest. I saw how beautiful their forests were, grabbed some seeds, planted numerous trees, and now I am standing before the most beautiful and unexpected landscape that I could have ever imagined. I have no idea how it turned into something so special, but now all I want to do is continue to make authentic, vulnerable connection the norm & inspire others to live a life that is deeply meaningful & inspiring to them.
I feel deep appreciation for Decker Cunov, Bryan Bayer, Robert MacNaughton, Guy Sengstock, Sean Wilkinson, John Thompson, Sara Ness, Jason Digges, Ryel Kestano, Michael Porcelli, and everyone involved in The Circling Institute, Authentic World and The Integral Center. Without all of you and so many more, I may not be living the rich life I am living today nor would I be able to transmit everything that I am teaching to those who want to live a radically inspired life worth living. I am profoundly grateful to everyone who cares about the Authentic Relating movement. You know who you are. Keep doing the good work of being you in the world.
Be Present With Everything At Every Moment
May 18th, 2023
Today I decided to watch Part 1 of the Circling documentary through Circling Europe. John Thompson, one of the co-founders encouraged me to watch it after our first call several weeks ago as I began my exploration regarding whether or not I wanted to participate in a Circling Training. Do I need that? Is that helpful? Aren’t my skills already developed? What is the benefit? Will I access even more of my consciousness? How aware do I really need to be in order to teach Circling as an authority in this field?
What I’m left with is less answers, but a deep appreciation for an answer. What is Circling? Circling, as defined by Peter Munthe-Kaas, a senior course leader with Circling Europe, is to be present with everything in every moment. How the hell do I be present with everything in every moment? I don’t believe this is entirely possible, but imagine if you had more access to what’s going on beneath the iceberg. Imagine what would be possible if you had greater self awareness to what’s going on within you. Imagine the amount of agency, choice, and power you’d hold if all of a sudden you were aware of 20% of the data you were ingesting instead of 5%. What could be possible if you could experience you as you and me as me? What could be possibly if you understood more deeply who you were & were able to create more of what you wanted with others?
This is why I am deeply entranced with the work I do at Authentic Bay Area. I get to be me. You get to be you. We get to understand what’s going on between us (the third space!) This enables us to feel closer, experience more, and feel. Feelings are data. Feelings help us live. Feelings help us make choices. Feelings help us to connect.
December 25th, 2022
This winter I really let my health take a deep dive. I stopped doing my routines. I started letting my thoughts fly. I began listening to old stories. I picked up old tapes and let them play again. The results were jarring, but I am 100% responsible. I learned a long time ago that no one else was to blame for the choices I end up making. Blaming in the past even if I can see another’s part and where they choose not to take action doesn’t really solve anything. Even if the other party does the inner work, I still have to choose what I believe & how I respond.
Sometimes I convince myself that I don’t have control over my actions. I don’t think this is true. I think this is something I convince myself is true as the old tapes want me to sabotage myself. The old stories want me to curl into a ball and give up. The current Dakota knows who the fuck she is and what she’s capable of & has more confidence than most people she knows.
My life is nowhere near where I thought it would be, but I am stronger than almost anyone I know & more myself than most I interact with. I don’t pretend and sometimes that costs me, but I don’t want to pretend for anyone. I want to role model that it is possible to reveal skillfully what is really going on.
I remember how painstaking beautiful I am at presence, attention to detail, genuine care, space holding, and loving you without judgment. I know who I am and how I was the love all along. I am the light.
I remember that I am someone who has had to survive in a world that can feel hard for even the most secure to live. I am free.
I’m sitting here on Christmas with my hands wrapped lovingly around my body with sweet whispers repeating. You are forgiven. I forgive you. You are so loved. I love you no matter what happens. Everything is going to be more than okay. You are an incredible human. Anyone would be lucky to have a deep connected relationship with your whole Being. Your love, when you give from a space of wholeness, is more than most will ever receive from an individual in their lifetime. You are divine. Rest assured, I am lucky to be who I am and who I continue to become. I love Coda.
How Would You Change The World?
September 29, 2022
I just got off a Zoom call with Laurie Lazar, the leading voice behind this incredible project I’m about to tell you about. The Realness Project (RP) is based in Boulder, CO & radically transforms the lives of incarcerated people by developing their capacity to create authentic relationships with themselves and others. RP’s mission is to transform the culture of incarceration by empowering human connection. RP inspire’s human growth and connection by delivering wildly effective programming to justice-involved people, including inmates, staff, parolees, and companies hiring the formerly incarcerated. RP’s vision is to have the justice system built upon the foundation of human dignity.
I started my own company on July 28th, 2022, and since I’ve been able to impact over 1,000+ people by creating spaces where humans can push up against societal conditioning, take off their masks, and learn to lead with vulnerability. Authentic Bay Area is supposed to lead an opening experience for connection in Berkeley at the Alembic for SoulPlayFestival on October 22nd, but I’ve been invited to fly out to Colorado that same evening to hold space on the first full day of a five-month program at the Colorado State Penitentiary and a two-day program modeled after ART International’s the Art of Being Human at the Fremont Correctional Facility. When I sit and listen, I feel torn. I know that the critical questions are, where will you have more impact and where will you be the most impacted?
If I listen to my intuition, flying out to Colorado is where I will grow the most. Recidivism rates are alarmingly high. What if I could be someone who stands for individuals to stop repeating destructive behavioral patterns and paves the way for human beings who are incarcerated to identify who they are and learn to be that with others in a way that creates more connection?
When I first started Authentic Bay Area, I had no idea what would happen. I decided, I’m going to believe, that no matter what, I can build a company and make this work. I will figure out what I need to do to make it sustainable for myself and I pledge to keep moving in my spread of making authentic, vulnerable connections the norm until I impact millions of people. I am still standing in that possibility and I can’t do this alone. Today, my business license got approved. When I saw the email fly into my inbox, tears fell from my eyes. I never thought I’d be a business owner. I put off filing for the articles of organization for so long & I could give you a million reasons why I didn’t do it earlier, but underneath all my explaining is fear.
This fear stems from childhood beliefs about not being good enough. “I can’t do it.”
It’s just not f*cking true. I refuse to believe my thoughts anymore. They are garbage. Wake up, start believing in yourself, figure out what you love, and choose to bring it into the world.
This is my life, I may not always know how to do something, but if I can get out of my own way, I can enroll others to help me figure out what I need to do, to accomplish my greater vision.
Watching Someone Live
August 21, 2022
This morning I was sitting on my special human’s lap watching Through The Wire. He recalled watching Kayne West’s documentary when it came out on Netflix. He expressed that he wished he had seen the jeen-yuhs: A Kayne Trilogy with me. I stood up to get ready for a call. Tears started pouring out of me. Immediately, my emotions hijacked my nervous system. I felt overwhelmed by the beauty of how unbelievable it is to be able to watch someone live through the span of a lifetime. Think Boyhood. I didn’t understand until this moment how fortunate I am to have spent this time defining myself with him by my side. It is true power to see someone change from the inside out. Being a part of the cultivation of supporting this man to become more himself is a profound and soul-nourishing experience.
These white walls that we stand in, have captured the seasons of personhood, a relationship, learning, struggling, identifying what matters, collapsing, dying, grief, care, repair, surrender, curiosity, reaction, passion, truth, and love. We’ve danced, cried, touched, fought, showed up, broke down, been attracted, and felt repulsed. We’ve been judgmental of one another and felt as though, this is the person I’d bring with me to a funeral. We’ve had moments where we would do anything to be together and moments when we felt like we would never talk again.
This man taught me that what I needed was self-love. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told someone, that you can’t love someone until you love yourself. I’m telling you now that in every single relationship I’ve been in, I’ve put the person before myself and that this is the very reason why every single relationship I’ve ever been in hasn’t worked. The evolution of this relationship has helped me to identify that to have any man in my life in an enduring way, how I feel about myself is what truly matters. This enables true connection to build. The ultimate way to love someone is to let them go and put yourself first. It is through loving yourself and being the vibrant, energetic Being that you are in the world, that everything works.
We can’t know what we have until we don’t have it, and when we have it, we forget why we want it, if we don’t put ourselves and what we want first. The relationship is a mirror where we see who we are, what we have, and what we don’t have. It’s only through building who we are that we can have the relationships that we’ve been visualizing since we began imagining. If you don’t know who you are or what you want, you can’t have what you Are. This fruit came to be, not through the role of a cultivator, but through support with the harvest into finally Being me.
“Giving is a gift. There is wisdom in patience and investment into others. While the results may not be immediately apparent, care is the basis by which we ultimately flourish.”
Being caring is life-giving. This man helped me create life.
Meeting people where they are is where the magic happens.
The seasons show us through decay and growth, how to love.
Lets Live Instead of Die
May 27, 2022
I spent most of my life hardly awake or present. I’d daydream of potential futures, but I could barely see anything beyond what was directly in front of me. I’d see someone who was doing something that felt so incredible I couldn’t even fathom how they had the power and discernment to create it and be it. I felt like I was on the outside of a secret that those who I deemed as successful knew and that I’d never get the code. I felt unliked, unloved, insignificant, full of doubt, and as though I’d be better off dead. Making eye contact was terrifying. Taking up space in any way meaningful made me collapse. I felt judged, empty, and disconnected. I couldn’t think past myself because there wasn’t even a Self to think from. How could I think about showing up for others or contributing to the world if I couldn’t even save myself from my own thoughts and beliefs. Any time I entered my emotions, they would consume me and swallow me. Last night, I went to an event called You’re Going to Die in Santa Rosa, California hosted by my new friend Ned Buskirk, where I told the story of how I tried to kill myself and almost succeeded in November of 2021. A message that YG2D conveys is that “If you’re reading this, no matter who you are, two things are true: 1. You’re going to die. 2. You haven’t yet. The rest is up to you.” As a young adult, I read the book Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk, and within it, he quotes, “All God does is watch us and kill us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring.” I remember reading that and puffing up my chest exclaiming in my head, I AM NOT BORING. Internally, I felt incomplete and hollow. As I was sitting last night, looking up at the stage, I sat and closed my eyes as I listened to a woman strum a guitar and sing a song about her feelings in relation to her absent alcoholic father. I wept. I thought about my alcoholism. I thought about my father. I felt connected to my grief. It was at this moment that I felt my wholeness. I knew on a deep cellular level that I was no longer unliked, unloved, insignificant, full of doubt, or half awake. I felt love, connection, and aliveness. I used to see my pain as a bag to carry, now I see it as a light and a guiding force that helps me to bring others together in community. I used to feel disconnected, and now everywhere I go, people know my name. Yesterday all across San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Rosa as I was running around working, I bumped into several people in the street who made eye contact with me, expressed excitement to see me, and took me into their arms. I counted five people in one day that I spontaneously ran into from various chapters in my life. I went on a walk with my new friend Blair Lineham and we discovered that we were both going to be at the event in a separate county 1.5 hours away that very evening! I had a powerful call with my dear friend Jason Mclaughlin about how we’re only winning if others are winning too! I made friends with Ja'Nay Jaymes, who is an incredible entrepreneur who is helping women in the Bay Area to get support who have experienced domestic violence through her nonprofit Attested Roses. As I got a ride back to San Francisco last night, I sat amongst friends, and felt into this concept of how I haven’t died yet and the rest is up to me. My path became more clear. Another layer of integration seeped through. I am here to help people return to themselves. I do this by helping individuals to gain awareness of their values so that they can take actions in alignment with who they are at their core. I role model to others how to have a balance of brain, heart, and gut. I teach others how to be self-led, to step into consciousness, and out of darkness into their version of light. I stand here before you with a conviction that I am here to help others to be themselves. I am here to help others to love who they are, enabling them to have a life that feels worth living, so that they are not just awake, but fully enlivened and fulfilled. We only have one life. How are you going to live it? Let's not be boring, let's live.
Whatever The Fuck I Want
May 25, 2022
In the last 3 days, I’ve accomplished more than I have in the last 3 years. The connections I’ve built, the conversations I’ve had, the people I’ve helped, and the movements I’ve gotten clarity on creating are beyond comprehension. I attribute this all to flow, focus, and meaning.
As we begin this journey, I want you to understand something about me. I have a pattern of giving my loved ones books during the holiday season. I intentionally try to give these chosen individuals books that 1) they’d actually hopefully read and 2) they will actually grow from given what my observation of their blind spots are. This is something I enjoy doing as I care about helping people grow more than anything else in this lifetime. Truth is, I often care more about supporting others to grow than I do about helping myself to shift. This is a behavior I’m stretching in order to move and shake the world. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that changing yourself is the most revolutionary act one could choose. It’s through changing your self-concept that you can make sense of your purpose, which can enable you to start thinking on the level of society versus the level of the individual. This is when systemic change and paradigm shifts occur.
Several years ago, I decided to give my mother the book Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This book gives you an idea of how to live a fulfilling life through entering into flow states, which are the source of ‘optimal experience’ per Csikszentmihalyi’s research. As you can tell from what I’ve already told you, I decided to give this book to my mother because I believed that one of her major challenges was getting into flow states. I made up a story that if she could figure out how to do this, she’d be significantly happier. My mother never finished the book and neither did I. Something I’ve learned is that I should never give out books that I haven’t read myself, but this moment planted a seed. A very large seed. A seed that would grow into a jungle that would change my life. Secretly, I wanted to learn how to enter into flow states and had no idea how.
Csikszentmihalyi says, “to overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself. She has to develop the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of external circumstances.” Zoom backward to my past learnings, Landmark Worldwide’s core curriculum, taught me a distinction, that societal agreements only exist in language and without language, nothing exists.
Zoom forward to the present moment, I have been studying everything from Carol S. Dweck to Neville Goddard to Kurt Lewin and Carl Rogers. A new friend Adam Earle recently taught me at a T-Group Intensive I attended at Stanford about a distinction he learned surrounding how if you have Hedonism, Purpose, and Flow, you can be a powerhouse in the world.
Jumping into Flow, I have recently discovered the mechanisms required to be in Flow between 85%-95% of my waking days without mental fear.
Jumping into Focus, I have begun integrating rhythms and routines to be in the present moment where I can focus. I attribute most of this learning to the Authentic Relating movement, which has been a huge backdrop to my growth and development in the last 5 years.
Jumping into Meaning, I have learned a very powerful tool, which I had learned several years earlier through the containers I participated in at Landmark Worldwide but had yet to integrate into my daily living, which is that I get to choose the meaning out of absolutely anything. I get to choose the meaning of my thoughts, what I create, who says what, or how I feel. As a result of getting this concept on a cellular level, I’ve discovered that everything is true and everything is false. I know, this must sound like philosophical drowning, but it’s not, it’s absolute freedom.
Imagine this, if nothing that happened ever bothered you, because, in your head, you could choose what it meant and how you allowed it to impact you.
Imagine, that your mindset was so clear, focused, positive, and inspired, that nothing bothered you for more than a microsecond.
Imagine that every single thing you were ever afraid of, was no longer viewed as an obstacle, but an opportunity and you punched through the resistance.
What I’m asking you to imagine is that you can literally have anything you want in this life and all that is between you and what you want is your mindset. Your mind controls your reality. You can only have what you can envision and if you can’t imagine it in language, it doesn’t exist. To reverse engineer this, if you change the language of something that doesn’t land for you, you can have a completely different experience with it from a space of empowerment rather than old patterning founded in beliefs that don’t have to inherently be you anymore.
I’m not saying, stop feeling, stop experiencing, or change those physical sensations. This is not possible. I’m saying you can notice, turn towards, as it’s taught in Internal Family Systems. Give the various thoughts, feelings, and beliefs a seat at the table. Dine with them. Understand what they are protecting you from and if you choose, you can have a different conversation.
Your life starts with you and ends with you, it’s time to start living it. You can do whatever the fuck you want, I promise you.
When The Magic Happens
May 24, 2022
Unconditional Positive Regard
March 4, 2022
I often think about how being as it relates to relationships isn’t so much about what you are doing, but how you are making a person feel. The same is true in terms of your ability to help someone as a professional helper. It isn’t about the degree you have or the school you went to, it’s about whether or not you can make a connection with your clients. If you can make a connection with your clients, you can help them to see themselves. A helper doesn’t have to do much, the client does all the work. If you can build rapport, the client can learn through your guidance how to understand themselves. It is through understanding that a client can discover their values thereby understanding where they are stuck and where they want to go. It is through helping a client understand where they are that they can see where they are lacking and where they have room to go. This doesn’t have to be about the past. We can change our relationship to it. This can be about the future and who a client wants to be.
This is a process, not an event. We discover Self to uncover Self to see more of Self.
As defined by Carl Jung, “The Self signifies the unification of consciousness and unconsciousness in a person, and represents the psyche as a whole.”
When a client gets what’s not working processed, integrated, and out of the way, a helper can guide a client to what they want. The client knows what they want. It’s underneath everything that got piled on top of who they are. The values are there. The layers that got piled on top got in the way of the values being acted on. When we understand our values, we can live more fulfilling lives where we are deeply satisfied. It is through others believing in us and developing real self worth, that we as humans can thrive.
February 23, 2022
I see myself in a field surrounded by daffodils.
Spring green is dancing around me. I am dancing around me.
Meaning and relationships are the only important things.
What happens when we take everything we were taught and we decide to write our own manuscript? We get to plug in every movement through our design. I am the creator of the blueprints. We shut the world out and only take what we want.
An ad pops up through a conversation, I tell myself it’s not true while appreciating the nuance of it being true for another. I allow myself to be influenced by my thoughts while creating space for this other person’s character. I learn through openness and self-selection. I select what matters.
When everything becomes, it all unwinds. I let things happen effortlessly.
Last night, I tell myself, I’m going to be writing programs. I interview my friend for a job at a company I work for. My employer tells me that he wants the programs redesigned. My friend says she doesn’t have the time. He looks at me, I say yes. My friend tells me they trust my ability to write a curriculum that will expand and immerse others in the experience of knowing themselves. I participate in a group, I co-facilitate, I light up. I get to see an old client, they finally got sober. I feel empowered. I tell my employer I miss teaching groups, they tell me they know and that they can feel it with lingering eye contact. I sense them affirming how powerful of a facilitator I am. I tell them I will start hosting groups soon as I make eye contact back.
I return home where I find my client. I sense they are feeling down. I inquire. I already know what they are going to tell me. We process. I ask if they want feedback. A glisten in their eye and words reflect yes. I share my wisdom. They affirm how useful it is for me to support them. I retire to bed knowing I make a difference in others' lives.
This morning, I ease out of bed into the soft day. As I leave the house, my client suggests I get a warmer coat. He cares and values what I offer. He wants me to be well. I jump on a phone call where my friend happens to be studying varying philosophies I’m adopting. We both believe that everything we want will happen and feel no stress in the process of life naturally unfolding through its seasons and cycles. Nature has a way of speaking new life into existence.
I slide into an appointment. I tell myself the dentist will see no problem in my teeth, we have a stimulating conversation and no problems are found. I go to leave. I turn to walk down a street that feels good and I bump into my old roommate. We get to play in the sun. I stumble into a sex shop where I find one bundle of the particular rope I am wanting for a photo shoot tomorrow. Everything just keeps working out.
Why is it so difficult for others to surrender? This is where the green comes through.
A green that keeps giving.
February 18, 2022
This morning I had a sensual strategy session. I didn’t even know what this was before I dove in. I’m in a place in my life where I am saying yes to everything new, especially if it involves my body and movement. A friend who is a Connected Life Coach for the Visionary Spirit amongst other things gifted me a session as I am in a major pivot in my life. What I took away is that I am an incredibly sensual human being. Yes, I already knew this but hadn’t been embodying my sensuality in the way that moves me for some time. Everyone has sexuality but not everyone has sensuality. More importantly, individuals do not understand the correlation between sensuality and life force. Sensuality, when utilized for the greater good is a vital life force. Now that my energy is wide open and I’m not blocked, I am aiming to strategize how to use this power to channel my passion(s). I’m finding there’s a sweet balance between living in pleasure and living in focus with the promise of pleasure later. Today I uncovered that in order to keep moving, I have to keep emptying out “the list” so to speak. If things build up and I don’t deal, my energy begins to get blocked again. I’m currently discovering where this footing is. When I haven’t taken care of the build-up, I am leaking energetically. This makes it challenging for the beauty and wonder to seep in. There is so much to discover when you open yourself to possibility.
While I’m already activated in several body-oriented practices, I was advised today to dabble in many more that I’m excited to dip my toes into such as:
Getting naked in the dirt.
Playing with mud.
Asking the earth how it wants to be interacted with.
Sensory experiences involving juicy fruits, soft chocolates, oils, and textured fabrics.
Massaging my breasts.
Breathing, speaking to and massaging my womb.
Unwinding my cervix.
Touching my tongue to the roof of my mouth.
Calling back all parts of myself and dispelling energies that aren’t me.
Setting an intention every day to be in the highest vibration of love.
One of the greatest discoveries I’ve recently had is how good it feels to be in my body.
I’m excited for this relationship to continue to unfold as I play with my sensuality.
I Swear I Get So Passionate, Y'all Do Not Know The Half Of It
February 15, 2022
I had been sitting in “someday” for far too long. I was letting my energy bleed out in directions all around me. I couldn’t stop forcing everything. I didn’t realize that what I had been doing was making everyone around me god instead of seeing that I am the creator of my own reality. I have started playing the game differently and its players are showing up differently. Old Dakota had been blocked, present Dakota keeps pushing through. Mind you, there is a difference between force and resistance. Now that I am bumping up against resistance and pushing through, I’ve gone from pretending I have clients to making $300 an hour coaching. I’ve gone from being inward, but really I’m just in my head thinking about what you think of me to not caring about what you think about me and showing up as I want you to see me because this is who I am. I’ve gone from pretending I’m developing a program to actually developing the foundation of a treatment program. I now only work jobs where I get to create my own schedule. I refuse to work full-time anywhere ever again. Everywhere I go, people are asking me for my number. Everywhere I go, people are telling me I’m “radiant,” “significant.” “beautiful,” “lovely,” and “kind.” You’re right I am. I feel grounded. I feel curious. I feel expansive. I feel like anything I want is mine. Coming back from the dead does something to a person. Near-death forces you to wake up and realize how much there is to live for. I feel beyond expansive like a current rising. My water is spilling out over the sand and I am foaming. I am filled up with fragrant blood. My thoughts are liquid courage. No bad thoughts exist here anymore. I am free.
What Does Integrity Mean To Me Now?
February 5, 2022
We all have shortcomings. I’ve recently started exploring what mine are in the present moment. I remember years ago, I sat down with a partner and asked him, what can you count on me for? Followed by, what can you not count on me for? The answers created a rumbling in my tummy. Hearing him share unfiltered made me uncomfortable. I began to get flooded. But didn’t I ask the question? Didn’t I want to know? If I’m being honest, I was told to ask these questions, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know. It’s scary to ask others what they think of you. It’s especially scary when the answers you get are different than what you had anticipated.
One could exclaim, but I thought I was always reliable! I thought I was good at talking to your mother! I thought you liked it when I put creamer in your coffee! I thought I was respectful of the way in which you wanted to spend your time creating games! I thought you liked it when I made you matcha chia pudding! I thought you perceived me as nondefensive!
These questions are perhaps some of the most difficult, but the most pivotal. Our closest companions get to see if we actually show up as we say we are. For all of us, there is incongruence, we are blind to what we can’t see, but how exactly do we become more aligned in how we want to be seen in the world? How do we become who we say we are? We have to do actions that are in alignment with who we are. We have to be who we are. What?
You’re saying I’m not who I am, this just can’t be true. Well, it likely is. Sorry.
I like to think of us all as being on a continuum where we fall somewhere between a defect and an asset. I may be somewhere between compulsive and free. I may be somewhere between indecisive and firm. I may be somewhere between loud and tasteful. I may be somewhere between manipulative and honest. The list goes on. We are humans after all. How do we find a balance between a defect and an asset? Better yet, how do we act more in alignment with the asset than the defect?
I’m in the process of identifying values I strive towards and creating actions in alignment.
Here are some examples that I am stepping into so that I can be more in integrity with who I am. By taking these actions I am not just becoming, I am what I do. What I do is who I am being.
Honest: I say things because what I am sharing is truthfully me. I don’t share things that are an attempt to try to impress others with words or over exaggerating about things that aren’t truthful.
Responsible: I take responsibility for my actions and how they impact others.
Emotionally Stable: I control my emotions. My emotions don’t control me. I don’t make others responsible for my emotions.
Humble: I ask for help from others when I can’t figure out how to do something on my own.
Open: I do not judge others, I am open to hearing their experience and views.
So, what is integrity to me? It’s being who I say I am. There’s congruence in how I speak and what I do. If there isn’t, I notice, reflect, make amends where needed, adjust, and be.
Integrity is when you are able to stand by an idea and act accordingly.
February 2, 2022
I did not realize until the last month how much I had been living my life out of alignment and what it was doing to my psyche. I was letting my emotions control me. I was expecting others to show up for my emotions. I was trying to get my happiness from things outside of me instead of getting deep satisfying fulfillment within myself. I kept forcing EVERYTHING instead of listening to my gut and following what my heart and soul were guiding me to do. I am aware of how this impacted everyone in my immediate surroundings and more importantly, how this impacted me. This is my life. I am living it for me now. I am living my life the way I want to.
I felt I was living my life for me, but I wasn’t! Now that I’m back to my normal state of ground, I am realizing how calm and peaceful every day is. My moods don’t fluctuate except for when I’m hungry. I’m in a state of happiness constantly, and I feel grateful for everything in my life. The tide has turned. I keep listening and receiving gifts.
Opportunities are coming to me. I love, support, and believe in myself. Everything works out for me. Every day I am moving towards my best life. There is no place for negative self-talk in my life. I accept 100% responsibility for my life. I am in control of my life.
I have pulled back and begun listening. I’m listening to the wisdom of others. I’m withholding judgments. I’m knocking over the pillars of fear. I feel empowered. I feel strong. I feel deeply humbled. I had begun taking things for granted, people for granted. I no longer take things for granted, I am beyond grateful for everything that comes my way.
What happened no longer exists, instead I allow who I am now as a result of the growth I’ve experienced to let me fly. I am flying. I am now someone who doesn’t allow people to impact me. I am now someone who feels love for myself constantly. I am now someone who gives love to everyone that I come across. Today is all that matters. Today I show up with care to everyone I come across. I consider others. I take care of myself too. I have balance. I show up.
The most important thing is that I do what I say I am going to do. I follow through.
If your life isn’t feeling good, ask yourself, what am I putting off? What thought keeps recurring day after day and I go to bed disappointed in myself that I didn’t do it or I did it again?
Stop. You can change your behaviors. You can change your reality. You just have to believe.
Letting In What Matters
January 31, 2022
Letting go is a concept that intellectually I understood, but had stopped practicing. I was engaging in wordy books and indulging in wordy arguments. I could see how this was expanding my mind while causing my brain to close in on itself simultaneously. I had become beyond cynical. One of the ways that this showed up is that I began prioritizing outward appearances instead of inward appearances. As vanity seeped into me, I had stopped being grateful. I wasn’t appreciating my life or the actors in it. I wasn’t appreciating myself as well as what it took for me to get to where I was. Frothy emotional appeal was not efficient. I was faced with the knowledge over and over again that if if I continued living in certain behaviors that I would lose the individual who meant the most to me, but I had no idea how to stop.
The reality is that I was looking at what was happening from entirely the wrong angles.
I was trying to fix a challenge I was experiencing with logic instead of what I had known all along. Coming to grips with this was beyond frustrating. It isn’t anymore, I’ve let go. Somewhere in the last year, perhaps even earlier, I had stopped prioritizing spirit and social.
I’ll explain more about what I mean about this.
For individuals who grapple with addiction, the recipe for continued recovery lies in three foundational things.
1) Spirit 2) Social 3) Self Development
Let me break this down.
- The individual is interacting with spirit in their life.
Let me be clear that I am not talking about god. This is not dogma. This is a personal relationship versus a collective one with something outside of yourself that is not a person. This could be found through morning pages, surfing, chanting, looking for awe and wander, you name it. It could be anything. The intention is that you’re growing a relationship with yourself that involves openness, honesty, and willingness to see the connections. The best way to describe this is that when you’re active with your conception of spirit, you don’t grasp or need, everything is a lesson, and you let go easily.
- The individual is interacting with social in their life.
For someone to succeed, they need to have a social life that is not their pet, their partner, or their family. The social needs to be with others who “get” the addict dilemma and can share, support, give feedback, and bond as well as have fun without engaging in addictive behavior. Without this, an addict can become isolated and can slide right back into character defects.
- The individual is interacting with self development in their life.
This could look like so many different things, but there needs to be growth and expansion. Let me be clear. Growth of the mind, soul, and spirit. This can be done in so many different ways, but the best way I’ve discovered is through some balance of writing, reflecting, and communicating growth with others.
Letting go and surrending to who you are and how you can be useful to others is the best medicine you will ever eat.
Being in the moment.
Be in the moment.
You are in this moment.
Black Or White
January 26, 2022
If I’ve discovered anything, it’s that attachment and dependence occur because we feel incomplete within ourselves, therefore, we seek objects, people, relationships, places, and concepts to fulfill these inner needs. Our feelings and thoughts always have an effect on other persons and affect our relationships whether these thoughts or feelings are verbalized, expressed, or not. If we want to live fully, instead of looking for what we can get from others, we need to now look for what we can give. When we can surrender our perceptions, letting go of complete judgment, whatever is in front of us gets turned into something different and we are thereby able to have love and compassion for whatever it is that comes up.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that we can accomplish real inner work intensely when we’re in an intolerable amount of pain. The pain guides us towards the work that needs to be done. Often, in these moments is when we get to walk towards becoming someone different who has in fact learned or run away towards oblivion. This could look like (watching television, overworking, alcohol consumption, working too much, etc). The goal here is to strive towards balance. This can be difficult to do when we need an overhauling in one if not many dimensions of life. If we do not pick up the pen and write, take time to think, converse with individuals of varying backgrounds, try new things, and expand towards openness, we can become stuck, afraid, lonely, confused, or stressed.
A poem to reflect how I feel about this:
Soft gray, I long for you. I ache for the distance made between deep black and open white.
As I aim for you, I slide into you. This place is unfamiliar yet I’ve been here before.
Being here with you soft gray, is where my teeth buckle. I sit on my hands.
I look to others for answers as I fear the real answers I know within myself.
You didn’t find anything different while you were out searching.
Healing Your Shame
January 24, 2022
The truth is: I haven’t been writing for a while as I had in so many ways abandoned myself. Something I’ve been working on for some time that I didn’t realize I needed support around is healing my shame. Being sober for eight years really evoked a great deal of pride in me. I didn’t realize that I had blinded myself to what was underneath everything I did: shame.
Shame is defined as a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. This was deep underneath the surface. Being someone in recovery from addiction, I thought I had worked through this in many different mediums such as writing a fourth step, making amends, psychotherapy, and attending process groups. What I didn’t realize is that while I thought had done a lot of work around shame, it was still breathing inside my head and in my words with my partners, my friends, my family, my places of employment, ad list infinitum. The reason why is while I had talked about it extensively, I had never used tools to change my mind. As a result, nothing ever stuck.
After meeting the right therapist at the right moment, she unveiled a whole slew of tools to me that I had never known about nor practiced. These tools are changing my mind. The shame I have felt has unconsciously self-sabotaged my whole life. It has gotten in the way of me following through on my goals, allowing myself to receive love in partnership, and allowing me to take jobs that would stimulate me and so much more.
Here’s the trick on how to retrain your brain from shame.
First: You need to become clear on an unconscious level what messages you were telling yourself when you were a child.
Second: You need to become clear on an unconscious level what messages you were telling yourself when you were an adolescent.
Third: You need to become clear on what messages you needed to hear when you were a child and an adolescent.
Fourth: You need to become clear with what it means to you to be a healthy adult.
Once you go through these four steps, you need to start tallying when you are in your inner child and adolescent in your head and in your words.
Once you become aware of how often you are in your inner child and adolescent, you need to start retraining yourself to parent yourself with the words you needed to hear.
Once you get a solid practice of doing this, when the thoughts or words come up, you need to parent yourself with the words you needed to hear followed by taking action that a healthy adult would take.
My hope is that if you also experience a great deal of difficulty with shame you can retrain your brain like I have to hear what you need to in order to not have shame rule your life anymore. If I’ve discovered anything in the past two months, it’s that people can change.
I am evidence of that as I have begun retraining behaviors with the help of some very experienced professionals that I never thought I could get rid of. I hope someone gets hope out of this and begins healing themselves from the shame within that prevents us from living the life that we have always craved, but just didn’t know how.
You no longer have to feel stuck.
There is hope.
Grieving The Loss of a Loved One Before They Are Gone
August 1, 2021
A couple of weeks ago, I was on a phone call with my mother when she tells me that she had just had another mini-stroke (TIA) about ten days earlier. My mother tells me that she was on a phone call with her sister and couldn't speak all of a sudden. She lost cognitive power. My sister took her to the hospital to get checked out, and while everything was fine - after doing blood work, she found out yet again that her cholesterol is too high. My mother had previously been awarded a medication to reduce her cholesterol and this worked until the reward ran out, and the medication cost was insurmountable so she stopped taking it. This medication costs around $1,500K a month. This is a good time to acknowledge that Medicare doesn't adequately support costs associated with healthcare needs for aging clients.
The reason I'm bringing this up is not to ask for empathy for myself and my family, but to open a conversation around death. My mother is in her 80's, and while she's in pretty good health, she is knocking on the end-of-life door. Yes, this is terrifying, but after a heart attack, a stroke, and multiple TIAS in the last ten years, I felt it was about time that I started investigating my relationship to death as my mother is the most important human being to me on the planet.
Death is often something that we're so afraid of and unwilling to look at. Yet, It's coming for all of us. How often do you hear the tale of how someone's parent dies and they wish they had been a better child? I don't want that to be my narrative. While I've already turned the corner and began developing an enriched relationship with my mother that I never thought would happen after the chaos I felt towards her in my adolescent years, I have recently begun asking myself...
What kind of relationship do I want to have with my mother while she is still alive?
How do we prepare as a family for any medical/end-of-life costs that could incur?
How do I support my mother in the way that she wants to be supported for the rest of her life?
Do I have any pending resentments I need to work out with her?
What do I want to understand about my mother before she dies?
What do I want to accomplish with my mother before she dies?
These are but a few questions I've begun investigating...
My partner suggested that I begin reading literature to support this as one of my greatest fears is what will happen after my mother dies... Grief is inevitable, but if I begin preparing, perhaps the loss won't be as debilitating, and I will be able to get through this inevitable loss with grace, care, and love. My next step is to read about The Art of Dying Well.
My offering to you is to start thinking about your relationship to death, the people that matter, and how you want to celebrate their lives, in the present while they are still here, and in preparation of them no longer being around to pick up your call.
July 25, 2021
Something I am currently working on in weekly therapy is how to sit in discomfort.
This discomfort occurs when I analyze something that someone says and turn it into something else, when someone acts in a way that I wouldn't, and when I want to feel a different way than I am currently feeling & attempt to change it by desiring others to show up differently instead of taking self-responsibility and self-choosing to show up the way I need to feel good.
Often I have obtrusive thoughts. I make up that these come from being a highly sensitive person provoked by my desire to understand, dissect, and know what is behind every single thing that any individual says. The cost of this is that I can spiral out. I can take one thing that someone says and turn my interpretations of it into a 300-page novel. This is very expensive in terms of energy exertion, how it impacts my relationships with others, and how it impacts my self-esteem.
Let's talk about some ways that this impacts my energy:
When I am constantly thinking about what other people say and what it means, I don't get to make meaning out of what I say and what that means to me.
When I spend minutes, hours, or days ruminating on a conversation that happened, I am unable to focus on my priorities and what really matters to me.
This creates a loss of power and agency in living my life the way that I want to.
Let's talk about some ways that this impacts my relationships to others:
- Someone else says something.
- I have a thought that mushrooms into 100 thoughts about what the individual said.
- I turn what they say into something else - far from what was originally said.
- I get overstimulated and find myself getting defensive, reactionary, or probing of the "truth."
- I lose touch with what even happened to begin with.
- I can get defeated, sad, angry, and confused.
- I desire for the other person to "make it right."
- I can blame them for my psychological lack of safety.
- I can do this instead of redirecting, taking space, and processing on my own.
- I quickly try to resolve "my side of the street" instead of giving space for how we both could have handled the dynamic better.
Let's talk about how this impacts my self-esteem:
When I am heavily indexing on what others say, my perception of their thoughts becomes my reality instead of my thoughts about creating the actualization and embodiment of who I want to be.
Not allowing myself to sit in discomfort can manipulate the way I see myself in all ways of being.
When I allow others to contort how I think about myself, I can put more emphasis on the things that I want to be different about myself rather than the things that I really love about myself.
I do this because:
- I feel discomfort when others are upset.
- I rush to help others to ease this instead of prioritizing my own wellness.
- Conversations are difficult and I want to get them out of the way when they cause discomfort.
- Boundaries are hard to set and even more difficult to keep.
- It feels easier to say I can impact another's happiness, which is true (even though they are solely responsible) instead of admitting that I am the sole individual responsible for my happiness.
How am I working on this:
Noticing and disrupting the patterns.
Taking space. Writing and reflecting.
Learning how to embody who I want to be on my own and in relationship to others.
Practicing these modes of being within myself and in connection to others.
My challenge to anyone reading this:
Ask yourself how you can grow through allowing yourself to experience discomfort today.
Am I Masculine?
July 17, 2021
Yesterday my partner and I were out on a walk. We had just walked from our apartment in the Mission District to a city park called Kite Hill. On our way back from the park, we were passing through the Castro District and my partner surprised me with the words I was dying to hear. "Do you want Hot Cookie?" Of course, I did. I had been thinking about wanting Hot Cookie since we began our descent down from the public park. As we turned left on Castro Street and I began running towards the shop in utter excitement desiring a Boy Scouts cookie, a man sitting on the ground made a loud abrupt comment that pierced my inflated sense of self.
He loudly said, "Your girlfriend is masculine." This comment was surely directed towards my partner and the woman he was talking about was me. Initially, I was confused. This was followed by clarity, annoyance, and anger. I quickly went from "I can't wait to get a cookie" to "Why did he say that?" to "Am I really that masculine?" to "How the fuck did he think it was okay to say that?"
As we got into line, the heat began to rise in my body, my hands were clenched, my eyebrows furrowed, and I felt the anger pulsating within my system. My partner noticed this and kept me close. I began venting and he told me that I was perfect the way that I am. While this felt really nice to hear and helped calm me down, the treats I ate were really what calmed me down.
After I had some space to relax, I dove deep into my thoughts surrounding masculinity vs. femininity. I have always felt that I was more masculine than other women. I had never felt this was because of my physical appearance. I had always felt this was because of my dominant personality traits. When this man called me masculine, he didn't know me, so it had to be based on how I looked. This is what shook me. I have always been told that I looked feminine by my significant others and close friends. This was new information and since it was different than what I had thought and experienced, I felt offended at this intake of new knowledge.
I am incredibly assertive, loud, independent, confident, action-oriented, strong willed, and goal driven. Considering this, it doesn't surprise me if others perceive me as masculine, but I had never considered how this could make me appear masculine to others. I'm still in the process of integrating this information, but my gears are churning. I've gone through feelings of disbelief, shame, anger, sadness, and compassion. I have this idea baked into me due to how I've been socialized that instills a false belief that I need to appear feminine in order to be a woman.
What I am currently experiencing is an integration between how I see myself and how others see me. With this comes thoughts and actions surrounding how I want others to perceive me. I don't get to choose what others think about me, but I do get to take actions to be more congruent with how I want to be seen in the world. This influences how others perceive me. This brings up the question, do I like being masculine? Do I want to be more self expressed in my femininity? What does this look like? Here I sit, asking myself these questions pondering what is important and who I want to be. I imagine I'll settle with a healthy mix of masculinity and femininity. I will continue to try to dismantle the weight that having feminine or masculine traits projects.
If we keep on talking about masculine and feminine and following those stereotypes, then we will make women suppress and despise their so called masculine qualities and men suppress and despise their so called feminine ones, and thats where all the trouble starts. - Gloria Steinem
For now, I'll start with giving myself compassion and know that I am perfect just the way I am.
Healing or Suffering: You Choose
July 10, 2021
"Healing also means taking an honest look at the role you play in your suffering."
When I was first told that I needed to take responsibility for my actions, I was completely baffled.
I couldn't believe that I needed to take responsibility. I didn't understand that my life not feeling good was my fault. If only people, places, and things would be the way that I want them to be, I wouldn't suffer. It was constant blame, nag, blame, "you're the reason why I am experiencing suffering the way that I am" saga. When others would tell me that I was controlling, I would feel so insulted. I would attack back with language, justification, and blame. I would tell people that I was not controlling and that if only THEY looked at their behavior, I could live in peace. I was in for a rude awakening.
Low and behold, I've learned that only I am responsible for my experience, how I operate, and how this impacts me.
You may be surprised to hear that I felt other people were responsible for why I was leading a miserable life. This is common. People tend to blame things outside of themselves for why their lives aren't the way they should be. Often, this is due to a projection of feeling bad about something and being unable to identify it to create a shift. So what happens is that we blame others for why our reality feels the way that it does. We do this instead of changing our actions, our patterns, and our reality.
This shift did not come overnight.
I've done years of self-work. I've challenged my fight or flight response and my neural connections. I've investigated my beliefs. I've learned to acknowledge the difference between when I've been harmed and when I'm harming others. I've learned how to shift how I experience harm to protect and heal myself. I do this by acknowledging emotions and thoughts. I've learned to see my truth, and take action. This allows me to stop feeling weighed down by my past to integrate and move forward.
One way I'd like to propose taking responsibility for our healing is through pausing. Let's take a moment to acknowledge what it's like right now in your life.
What are the relationships that cause you tension, pain, or discomfort?
What parts of these relationships create this feeling for you? Write it down.
Write down who you feel anger, sadness, or disappointment towards. Write down why.
Write down what their part is in it. See it. Be creative. Now, pause. Reflect on what your part is. Reflect on what you could have done differently. Reflect on whether you may have ever done something to negatively impact them. Reflect on how you could have reacted differently to something they said or did and how it made you feel and what actions followed.
Do this for every person in your life that immediately brings you tension.
Let me know when you're done.
Ok, now you are going to need to make amends to them.
What? I have to do work to have the life I want to live!
Yes, you do!
When we experience these tensions within us, we can't move forward.
A part of us is always blocked from the wonder and awe of what life could divulge into if the pain was out of the way and behind us instead of in front of us.
Making amends isn't about the other person so much as it is about ourselves.
Of course, it is a good thing to acknowledge where we've wronged others, to take responsibility, and to shift into being a better person. This is good, very good. It helps us to be more cautious, attuned, and aware of our future relationships so that we can create less harm.
But for us, when we make amends, we can heal parts of ourselves that linger within.
We get to take a look at our suffering. Often we are surprised that most of the people we hate don't even know we exist. The tensions we are experiencing, others don't even notice. This is about us getting right with ourselves. When we get right with ourselves, we begin to like ourselves. We begin to see ourselves as who we want to be in the world. When we're unburdened by the weight of our past, we can move forward into the future.
We get to create a new design for living.
Amends is one form to get honest in our suffering.
Getting honest about our suffering exists within us and our relationships. It's also about learning to live congruently.
It's about learning to see what is and isn't working in your life.
It's about understanding that WE are the only ones responsible for the life that WE live as individuals.
Now let's take an even more thorough inventory. Let's notice where we aren't feeling fulfilled.
Write down a list.
Here are some examples:
I don't always feel loved by my partner.
I feel bloated frequently.
My blog posts don't always get done.
My friendships often feel one-sided, like I'm a coach and they are my client.
I often don't have enough time for myself.
My job is unclear with what they expect of me.
Here are the next steps:
Write down one step of what would be needed to make this situation feel different.
Here are some examples:
- I don't always feel loved by my partner.
Ask my partner if they will read the 5 love languages book with me.
2. I feel bloated frequently.
Write down all the food, water, and stress I experience for a month to track what could be causing this bloating to identify the next steps.
3. My blog posts don't always get done.
Create a fixed time every week where I have to write a blog post that works with my schedule.
4. My friendships often feel one-sided, like I'm a coach and they are my client.
Next time I go out to eat with a friend, don't ask any questions and don't give any advice.
5. I often don't have enough time for myself.
Create a block of time every day where I'm focused on doing what feels good for me!
6. My job is unclear with what they expect of me.
Ask my supervisor for feedback.
This is a way to start small. We can get more nuanced later. We need to build the muscle of noticing what is working and what isn't working within ourselves. This will allow us to learn to have more of what we love and less of what isn't working in our lives.
This journey begins with us.
If we do not take a look at our lives, we can't heal.
We have to go in, to go out.
June 30, 2021
Tension arises whenever something in my direct environment exposes a truth.
That we are different. Whenever that deep knot within my body arises, I could expose the vulnerability. Instead, breathing into it. Seeing it as a beautiful flower rising up from the crack. Into the sky where community and understanding could cultivate. What could happen if I relaxed into peace instead of adversity? I’m talking about nothingness and everything.
What would happen if I felt everyone being different was wonderful? Instead of something to resent and be afraid of... What would happen if I had no fear, no scars, and no temper? What would it be like if no one could hear the anxiety in my voice? What if my body posture was always mirroring the bodies I was talking with... Being seen as big and alive rather than a coward and small... How do we decide that our differences are worth pursuing? There’s learning with every measure of discomfort we experience if it is in the effort of learning... The effort of learning means that we can relearn anything. We can relearn how to have a conversation with our bodies. The crunching underneath our feet can reserve itself for the leaves. When I say learning, I’m not talking about books and classrooms, although those can be useful too. I’m talking about rewiring our body's links and biological responses. I’m talking about changing the ticks and a-has that we experience. I’m talking about noticing yourself and your environment in a way that’s different. Different than anything else you knew was possible... I’m talking about knowing your bias but learning how to speak from the den of another. Nothingness and everything.
Just Get Some Damn Words Out
June 14, 2021
I am not alone.
I do not fear the wind.
I will keep moving.
Beauty is perfect.
Love the ugly trees.
Embrace the real storm.
Ask for what you want.
You may get it if you try.
Don’t give up on you.
Time to get away.
Leave your bags behind the door.
Breathe, It is okay.
Be powerful now.
Do not let them get you.
You have a chance, yes.
You got the power.
Use it the way you want.
Don’t let them get you.
When I listen to me.
Every flows out.
It makes sense again.
June 8, 2021
Alcohol consumed. Pants off. Don’t remember.
You don’t love me. It hurts.
Got hired. Below my experience. Again.
Do Yoga. Meditate More. Feel Better.
Friends Matter. Connection Is So Important.
Be With Yourself. Create From Heart.
Love More. Everything Will Work Out.
Grief is Such a Strange Experience
June 6, 2021
It feels like being stuck in deep mud, simultaneously drowning while climbing up for air. You gasp for breath, but the mud pulls you back under. You gain power and traction, which allows you to will yourself forward, but you’re always stuck until you’re not.
Life is at times an incredibly exciting experience where the stars are aligned and the path is clear, but at other moments, the tide is turning and you simultaneously feel stuck in the undertow instead of out on the beach walking down the soft sand picking up any loose shells that may have found themselves upon the shore bed.
Right now, I feel bottled up with grief of what my relationship to love was and what it is becoming. It’s hard to discern what my thresholds are in getting my needs met. How much of my own experience am I responsible for and how much are our loved ones responsible for us in getting our needs met?
I used to think love was a forever kind of love, the obsessive, I’d do anything for you, kind of love. I’m now coming to understand love as accepting myself and others exactly as they are without trying to change them. I’m looking for ways that I can fit with them, rather than contort and manipulate their operating procedures. This is rather hard. A balance of accepting yourself and accepting others while trying to discern if what you are accepting is in fact what you are wanting. I imagine that at the end of the day, most human beings just want love and connection. Are other human beings responsible for providing this for us or are we responsible for building this up for ourselves?
At the end of the day, we are alone, independent of how many people we have in our lives who support and care for us, so shouldn’t we instead be reliant on ourselves for self-esteem, joy, love, and affection?
Here are some ways I am actively working on developing deeper love and compassion for myself every day:
- I meditate for a minimum of 5 minutes.
- I write a page of reflective writing.
- I write down a focus for myself.
- I write down an affirmation for the day.
- I write down what I am grateful for.
- I write down what I am excited about.
- I write down how I’ll make space for gratitude.
This is followed up by some combination of reading, further writing, additional meditation, yoga, cardio, strength training, walking, cleaning, organizing, and getting ready for the day in whatever way feels good.
I notice that when I do this daily, everything seems to work out better, even if it isn’t the way that I designed or planned for it. I feel grateful to continue getting to know myself.
Meditation is Not For The Weak
June 1, 2021
My “uncle” disappeared around the corner of the living room into a cove and took a seat onto a twin bed atop a dusty comforter that sat overlooking the Sandy Hook Bay. Here was a space I’d often find him sitting with his legs crossed meditating or perhaps laying down with a book caught in the grip of his hands.
I have this memory of my “aunt” telling me when I would ask where my “uncle” was that he could be found in his nook meditating and that I should give him space.
It was in this family that I discovered my “cousin” doing yoga in the living room by the big windows overlooking the bay. He’d stretch out his body on the floor like a purring cat. I remember finding his body composure odd as a young child. Watching his body fold in on itself felt “girly.” I was already making up stories at a young age about what women should do and what men should do.
I didn’t find meditation for myself until I was in my teens. Sitting still was never of interest to me. My thoughts were so loud in my head at such a young age that being with them was far from what I wanted. I wanted to shut up the committee in my head that would never stop talking. I wanted to switch a valve from on to off. The only way I knew how to do this was through drugs and alcohol.
When I first started getting sober, a woman gave me a list of all the things I could or couldn’t do if I wanted to stay sober. On this list were things like, do not talk to men, talk to at least 3 women every day for a minimum of 4-5 minutes, pray to god, meditate, the list goes on.
I was thirteen years old and none of this resonated. I didn’t understand the correlation between these things I was told to do and how they could impact me.
Instead I saw a list and an attitude, which was that, “nobody was going to tell me what to do”.
Eventually, I was in enough pain that I started hearing how these actions were impacting other people in the community surrounding me. I heard, “the voices don’t tell me what to do or how to be anymore,” “I feel calmer,” “Things tend to just work out now,” “I don’t know why, but I feel like I can actually trust these thoughts now,” “My head isn’t moving as fast as it used to,” and more.
I couldn’t help, but wonder, are these people making up their experiences? If these people are actually finding another way to live, where they aren’t ruled by their thoughts, I wouldn’t mind having that... if it is possible.
I started sitting on my hands pinching my eyes closed, counting the minutes until the timer went off or until I felt so annoyed that I’d fling my eyes open, jumping off my hands to go do something more “fun”.
The evolution of my relationship to meditation has changed greatly in the last 15 years. I have studied various spiritual paths, religions, theologies, and neuroscience. I’ve gone to monasteries, workshops, and met with various meditation teachers. I’ve meditated every day. I’ve given up on meditation for a year. I’ve learned that meditating doesn’t have to mean being silent sitting down and that it can be a part of every moment of every day of the human experience. I’ve learned that it’s a way of being, an intention, and a practice.
I’ve learned that usually what I need to hear comes up if I listen. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that meditating is not for the weak, it is for those who want to sit in the fear, discomfort, and feelings of being themselves without anything to distract. It is taking the space to notice the recurring thoughts, patterns, and beliefs. It is feeling the tension in your body, all of it rising up to the surface noticing it wants to be explored.
Meditation is about having compassion for yourself and others. It is about the ultimate truth. It is listening to your head and heart and knowing that no matter what else anybody has taught you, that you know what is right for you. Nobody can tell you differently.
You do not have to fight anymore. Your thoughts are telling you something.
They wouldn’t reoccur if they weren’t. I’ve heard so many people say that meditation is not for them, but I also see people not enjoying their lives, or actualized, or fulfilled in any sense. I see people just skating through life hoping it will get better if they keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Meditation has taught me that I am responsible for what truth I want to be living. The one that sits within when I listen or the way I think I should be because others have influenced my vision.
Don’t get me wrong, we are relational, we grow through others, and I am the combined version of nearly everyone I’ve ever met, and underneath that, I still have a truth that needs to be expressed in order for me to fully live.
In order to experience the lightness of existence, we have to make room for it by exposing ourselves to the voices inside of our head that we reject. By seeing these parts of ourselves, we can transform and let go. I've discovered that the object is to be able to learn to live in the present-moment and the benefit is really knowing yourself. This allows you to have the information and power to live a life beyond your wildest dreams because now you are finally listening to what you truly want and get to act how you want to live.
What The Heck is Authentic Relating?
May 25, 2021
Anyone who knows me understands that one of my favorite places to hang out is within the Authentic Relating (AR) community. When I first got there, I didn’t know what it was either. It’s hard to capture what AR is, it is much easier to experience it. I discovered AR and Circling through a former practitioner of orgasm meditation (OM) through attending one of her Essential Intimacy workshops in April of 2017, which led me to One Taste’s San Francisco Office in 2018 for an introductory workshop to OM practices at a time where they were disbanding their organization. I had already been doing AR practices that I had discovered through other communities I had been a part of, but still really didn't understand what I was practicing, just that it felt exciting and novel. During this same month, I was enrolled in the Landmark Forum. While I was at the introduction workshop of One Taste, they facilitated us through an activity called Hot Seat.
Hot Seat is a game that can be played in a small group or a large group broken into smaller breakout groups. Each group will designate a chair in the room as “the hot seat.” Either the individual or the group can decide who ends up sitting in the hot seat. Upon arrival, the volunteer can choose the desired level of intensity. This ranges from mild to medium to spicy. When an individual is on the hot seat, the group asks questions based on the desired level of spiciness. While there are many variations of this game, another common one is the hot cradle, hot seat, or hot plate. The hot cradle is deep questions with more care and no dares. The hot seat is just spicy questions whereas the hot plate involves spicy questions and the ability to dare the volunteer to do things while in the hot seat. The group is expected to ask interested, not interesting questions of the volunteer. Another way to look at this is to ask questions that follow a thread probing more depth and specificity underneath the questions that are already being asked. Whenever a question asker does not want to hear any more of the response, they can say thank you, which forces the volunteer to stop talking immediately. This is a tactic used to keep the energy elevated. At this point, another person can step in to ask a question! Whenever the facilitator notices that the volunteer has hit a high note (or emotional depth), they can take the volunteer off the hot seat by saying something to the effect of, “thank you volunteer X, you are now off the hot seat.” While there are many variations, this tends to be typical.
I had played a variation of Hot Seat in the Essential Intimacy workshop in 2017. One Taste was closing down and their community was experiencing defamation. This motivated me to find contextual communities that were creating these experiences that produced similar impacts for me on a social and emotional level. Through 2018, I devoured Landmark Worldwide’s core curriculum and began deep diving into researching and experiencing as many contextual communities as I could get my hands on.
Why all of this is important is that in November of 2018, I moved into a home in Berkeley, California, which was the prior home of one of the founders of the Circling Method. This house had been used to house Circling, AR, and other group dynamic community events. My search for developing a contextual community landed me an opportunity to live in a space where a whole network of people taught and played these kinds of games. This enabled me to discover AR. Next thing, I’m organizing, facilitating, and co-creating a curriculum and contexts within this world and my whole life became a game to get as much connection, authenticity, vulnerability, leadership, and power as possible.
A lot has changed since 2018. I moved. COVID-19 hit. These events aren’t happening anymore in person. Some of my AR friends moved. Some stopped hosting events. Others I fell out of communication with. For a while, I played AR online with friends during the pandemic, and eventually, that came to a halt. It just wasn’t the same when we weren’t playing in person anymore. The adjustment took its toll on me. I began to lose sight of my relationship with AR and I didn’t like that. So what did I do? I went on a hunt to find AR for free, with other people who seemed to give a shit about this work. I ended up finding a community online that hosts two free weekly community calls where for 90 minutes, AR is played. This was great until I realized that it just isn’t the same as getting to know a group over some time so I ended up signing up for their Level 1 course, which I completed over 6 weeks from February through March with a group of strangers from around the world.
I’m writing this post as tomorrow I will be starting the Level 2 course with this Authentic Relating organization and I can’t wait. The container is again, for 6 weeks, for 3 hours once every week.
I can’t wait, as for me, while AR isn’t therapy, it does have therapeutic benefits. It has provided me with greater intrapersonal and interpersonal relationship(s). One time, a friend of mine described AR as part leadership training, part therapy, and a part vulnerability cocktail. It’s so much that and more. I know I didn’t describe what AR was, so I’ll do my best to do that now. Authentic Relating, to me, is being exactly who I am, in the present moment, with others. It is understanding myself so well that I can speak to my desires, feelings, and needs. It is learning how to express my thoughts out loud with others. It is telling other people how things they do make me feel. It is noticing how when someone says something, my mouth curls, or I cast a judgment. It is then sharing these observations with the person I am having these thoughts around. Being this version of myself, the real version, where I share my hesitations, my fear, what I’m excited about, and the things I do when nobody's looking, is valuable. All of my masks end up in the garbage. There is no more pretending in AR. Pretty soon, when you see others saying exactly what is on their mind, you can’t help but do the same thing.
AR is training that helps you be more yourself.
It helps you exist from your values.
It is a way to live.
How I Reduce Stress
May 18, 2021
Stress is an outcome experienced by the body when a person’s system is threatened. No one else can define what stress will look like for any given individual. When I experience stress, it often manifests in my body before my head catches up. At first, I typically experience heat in the center of my chest followed by an internal flood of negative thoughts. These thoughts don’t always have to do with what I am stressed about, but arise as a result of the stress.
Sometimes this results in externally blaming people, places, and things.
These thoughts are an indication that I am not centered and that how I am perceiving something needs to shift.
In these moments, I get a choice. The choice is to allow my reaction to control my reality or I can choose to change my reaction. When I first started learning how to manage my stress, I needed a distraction. I discovered that even with space, it was often hard to see my part in how I reacted to external pressures.
A distraction could come in the form of watching television, eating food, working, or doing any form of “staying busy.”
What I discovered over time is that often my tools to distract were yes, distracting me from my reaction, but they were also further influencing my negative thoughts. In the moment, I was often relieved from my intrusive thoughts and by choosing to distract myself in ways that were ultimately unhealthy for me, I was creating more stress within my life.
When I was able to pull back the veil and realize my coping mechanisms were often hurting me, I was able to come up with substitutions that could contribute to my well being as an alternative to producing more stress.
Before I talk about my strategies, I’d like to acknowledge that I understand that my forms of staying busy, “watching television, eating food, and working” are very helpful distraction strategies for some people. I do not want to dismiss this. On occasion, I will still use these strategies as in the moment, it is hard to do the “right thing” for my health in the moment, so I do “the next right thing.”
Yes, there is plenty of research to suggest that these coping mechanisms can produce negative health outcomes, but I believe in the Harm Reduction Model. The Harm Reduction Model in drug and alcohol rehabilitation suggests that we put the focus on reducing negative consequences first before requiring abstaining from drug and alcohol use.
If I scale this to all challenges of well-being, what this means is that when I am working to support myself through stress, I do whatever will help me to reduce consequences in the moment. This doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best option, but it is a solid option and the best option for me at the moment.
This can help me to reduce stress in the moment I need support. What this does is helps me to respect myself and my rights as a human being and what works for me independent of what is other-worldly true in the present moment.
Yes, I am talking about the moment, this moment, in the present. I have discovered in learning how to reduce stress within the present moment that learning how to be within it without allowing my stress to wash over me is what is most important.
So how do I do this? I created a list of “healthy distractions” utilizing DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) tools.
First, I do a technique widely practiced by DBT called REST, which stands for:
- Set an intention
- Take action
After, I go through my list of tools that I curated based on what I’ve tested works best for me. These tools help me when I am met with stress that feels outside of my control.
My suggestion is to create a list of 9 things to do following REST.
Once you are more experienced in managing your stress, utilizing REST followed by 4 tools should suffice.
So what does this look like? Here are my first 5 tools.
- After practicing REST, get yourself water, tea or coffee.
- Open up a notebook and write.
- If home, take a bath. If out, breathe and stretch.
- Do yoga or dance.
Often, my stress is gone before I get through these 5 tools.
So how did I get myself to change my behavior by triggering these tools?
I put sticky notes all over my house that remind me to REST.
This is just what works for me, in this present moment.
It may not work in the future, but it works for me now.
If you are struggling with stress, I want to encourage you to create your own list.
Your health management is only as good as the effort that you put into it.
Learning how to manage my health affords me the opportunity to do more of what makes me feel alive.
When I am healthy mentally and bodily, all areas of my life tend to fit together more powerfully.
Remember, stress isn’t the thing that is difficult, how we respond and react is.
May 12, 2021
“I have always been unsatisfied with life as most people live it. Always I want to live more intensely and richly. Why muck and conceal one's true longings and loves, when by speaking of them one might find someone to understand them, and by acting on them one might discover oneself?”
― Everett Ruess
April 19, 2021
Who I'm Not
April 17, 2021
I woke up reflecting on how far I’ve come. I wanted to share a little bit about what I used to be like that I’m no longer attached to:
1. Whenever I didn’t get my way I’d swear and yell at people.
2. Whenever I had emotions about not getting my way or I felt rejected, I’d eat as much food as I could.
3. I used to not exercise and didn’t understand why my body ached all the time.
4. I chain-smoked to “reduce stress” and “as a social lubricant.”
5. I used sex as a way to cope with how dissatisfied I was with myself.
6. I could never focus on anything productive as I was often distracted by the pain and discomfort of my past. What this looked like was that I was in a constant state of fight or flight and was never present or embodied.
1. I seldom swear or yell at all, ever, in any circumstances. I am much better at regulating my emotions. In these moments, I’ve learned to separate and do “my work” instead of blaming or reacting to others.
2. I have systems in place around food. My first instinct is no longer, “you should order a family-sized dinner of fried chicken and mac and cheese, and eat it in bed while watching Gossip Girl.” These systems involve retraining the acting on the feeling. Instead, I try to use a healthier behavior replacement. This could come in the form of taking a bath, writing or doing exercise.
3. My body still aches as it’s unlearning all the years of stress I’ve put into it. The pain has gotten much better and I exercise at least 6 hours a week. Doing everything from yoga to strength training to weight lifting. Exercise helps with my chronic pain, my mental health, productivity, and belief systems.
4. I haven’t smoked or used any tobacco products in over a year and I never crave them.
5. I have a healthy relationship with sex and I’m in a monogamous partnership. We have sex on average 2-3x a week. This includes a sex maintenance night on Wednesdays. I recommend even if you have a good sexual relationship with your significant other(s). This night is an intentional space to connect for when things get busy or stressful so I don’t forget about “us.”
6. I’ve adopted various practices into my daily life that take me out of fight or flight and into the present moment. As a result, I’m far more productive and I like myself a lot more. This has had a major impact on my relationship with myself and in my relationship with others. I’ve slowed down and I listen to my body and heart more when discerning my wants and needs and how I can show up for others.
In closing, I still have so much more room to grow. Considering where I was a year ago, 5 years ago, or even 10 years ago - I don’t recognize the person I am morphing into. There’s a calmness I embody most of the time that brings great peace, clarity, and openness to my life.
April 15, 2021
Timothy Francis Leary (22 October 1920 – 31 May 1996) was an American writer, psychologist, campaigner for psychedelic drug research and use, 1960s counterculture icon and computer software designer. He is most famous as a proponent of the therapeutic and spiritual benefits of LSD. During the 1960s, he coined and popularized the catch phrase "Turn on, tune in, drop out."
"My obsession has been to objectify inner experiences, to demystify the software of human experience." - Timothy Leary
Vat of nothingness
April 14, 2021
Landing into my dreams
April 12, 2021