Love After Love

(a poem)

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other’s welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored 
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life.

— Derek Walcott

One Small Change

In this new year, could you change this one thing?

Could you use the voice of a friend when speaking to yourself?

Could you encourage yourself when facing challenges? Could you refuse to call yourself names, and instead, choose terms of endearment?

How hard would it be to say, “Lovely, you’ve had a hard day. You deserve a restful night’s sleep”? Or “Sweetheart, I love that you tried to stay sober today. We’re going to keep trying, no matter the setbacks.”

And could you go a step further? Could you love yourself like you would a child? Could you treat everything you’ve ever done wrong (in your view) as simply a mistake? A learning experience? Would you fault a child for stumbling as she learns to walk?

Could you let go of the idea of guilt, and instead rely on the love you find within to heal and comfort you?

Could you do it for one day? Could you try?

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” 

– Buddha

DO IT.

If you’re looking for a sign, THIS IS IT!

Time to give yourself 31 days to HEAL your body and your mind. I’m here with two people (regular drinkers) who are dedicated to an alcohol-free January. You don’t have to struggle with whether or not you’re a problem drinker. Do it anyway. Dedicate yourself to this, and the magic will filter over to everything you touch in the New Year. Make a difference in your own life. YOU are what you’ve been waiting for!

There are resources everywhere for groups to guide you through this. I’ll be posting some later as well.

Here’s to a REAL New Years’ instead of a repeat of the old.

Be determined to be not as you were.

— somewhere in A Course in Miracles

Notes from the Universe

I get these free emails from Mike Dooley’s website, Tut. He has a fascinating way of looking at the world. If you like the email below, sign up!

I met Mike once at a speaking conference.

OK, really, I just sort of stalked him unsuccessfully and finally ended up standing in line with dozens of other people at a book signing. I wouldn’t say we had a conversation, per se, but I did tell him my name when he asked. I’m sure he’d remember me.

Here’s his note for today:

Do you know what happens, Shawna, when a dream comes true and you feel your joy bubbling over into wide grins and happy dances?

Your energy actually spills over into the oceans of time and reaches into the past where it laps upon the shores of a former here and now, infusing a former unsuspecting self (who is still merrily living their life due to time’s “simultaneousity”) with a flash of inspiration or a burst of intuition and hope for what the future might hold.

Whew… and that, my friend, is the truth about where dreams come from.

Tallyho,
The Universe

10 Rules for Brilliant Women

Oh my God! Someone tattoo this on the inside of my brain.

From the amazing Tara Mohr:

************

Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to lead.

We need your voice now.

I coach brilliant women, lots of them. Dedicated, talented, brilliant women.

Most of the time, they don’t know their brilliance. They are certain they “aren’t ready” to take on that next bigger role. They are more attuned to the ways they aren’t qualified than to the ways that they are. They are waiting for someone to validate, promote or discover them. Sound familiar?

IT’S TIME TO STEP UP, BRILLIANT WOMEN. HERE ARE TEN PRINCIPLES FOR OWNING YOUR BRILLIANCE AND BRINGING IT TO THE WORLD:

MAKE A PACT.

No one else is going to build the life you want for you. No one else will even be able to completely understand it. The most amazing souls will show up to cheer you on along the way, but this is your game. Make a pact to be in it with yourself for the long haul, as your own supportive friend at every step along the way.

IMAGINE IT.

What does a knock-the-ball-out-of-the-park life look like for you? What is the career that seems so incredible you think it’s almost criminal to have it? What is the dream you don’t allow yourself to even consider because it seems too unrealistic, frivolous, or insane? Start envisioning it. That’s the beginning of having it.

GASP.

Start doing things that make you gasp and get the adrenaline flowing. Ask yourself, “What’s the gasp-level action here?” Your fears and a tough inner critic will chatter in your head. That’s normal, and just fine. When you hear that repetitive, irrational, mean inner critic, name it for what it is, and remember, it’s just a fearful liar, trying to protect you from any real or seeming risks. Go for the gasps and learn how false your inner critic’s narrative really is, and how conquerable your fears.

GET A THICK SKIN.

If you take risks, sometimes you’ll get a standing ovation, and sometimes, people will throw tomatoes. Can you think of any leader or innovator whom you admire who doesn’t have enthusiastic fans and harsh critics? Get used to wins and losses, praise and pans, getting a call back and being ignored. Work on letting go of needing to be liked and needing to be universally known as “a nice person.”

BE AN ARROGANT IDIOT.

Of course I know you won’t, because you never could. But please, just be a little more of an arrogant idiot. You know those guys around the office who share their opinions without thinking, who rally everyone around their big, (often unformed) ideas? Be more like them. Even if just a bit. You can afford to move a few inches in that direction.

QUESTION THE VOICE THAT SAYS “I’M NOT READY YET.”

I know, I know. Because you are so brilliant and have such high standards, you see every way that you could be more qualified. You notice every part of your idea that is not perfected yet. While you are waiting to be ready, gathering more experience, sitting on your ideas, our friends referenced in rule five are being anointed industry visionaries, getting raises, and seeing their ideas come to life in the world. They are no more ready than you, and perhaps less. Jump in the sandbox now, and start playing full out. Find out just how ready you are.

DON’T WAIT FOR YOUR OSCAR.

Don’t wait to be praised, anointed, or validated. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to lead. Don’t wait for someone to invite you to share your voice. No one is going to discover you. (Well, actually, they will, but paradoxically, only after you’ve started boldly and consistently stepping into leadership, sharing your voice, and doing things that scare the hell out of you.)

FILTER ADVICE.

Most brilliant women are humble and open to guidance. We want to gather feedback and advice. Fine, but recognize that some people won’t understand what you are up to (often because you are saying something new and ahead of your time). Some people will find you to be not their cup of tea. Some will feel threatened. Some people will want to do with your idea only what is interesting or helpful to them. So interpret feedback carefully. Test advice and evaluate the results, rather than following it wholesale.

RECOVER AND RESTORE.

If you start doing the things that make you gasp, doing what you don’t quite feel ready to do, and being more of an arrogant idiot, you are going to be stretching out of your comfort zone – a lot. Regularly do things that feel safe, cozy, and restorative. Vent to friends when you need to. Acknowledge the steps you’ve taken. Watch your tank to see how much risk-taking juice you have available to you. When it’s running low, stop, recover and restore.

LET OTHER WOMEN KNOW THEY ARE BRILLIANT.

Let them know what kind of brilliance you see, and why it’s so special. Call them into greater leadership and action. Let them know that they are ready. Watch out for that subtle, probably unconscious thought, “because I had to struggle and suffer on my way up…they should have to too.” Watch out for thinking this will “take” too much time — when the truth is it always has huge, often unexpected returns.

Clear a path by walking it, boldly.

Tara

Maybe You’re Ready for a Life of Freedom


Look what arrived in my inbox from the amazing Tama Kieves:

I have always craved freedom. It’s why I’ve pursued an authentic life. But it’s meant I have had to go off the map. Sometimes, off the rails, maybe where the mail can’t find me. I have had to find myself. I have a junk drawer of inner voices, and it took a while to realize which suggestions come from the beacon of my truth and which were useless screws from gadgetry that no longer works for me, if it ever did. I still hesitate around vital guidance. Because my heart always tells me things like rest or go pick daisies, when I’m hoping for some lottery numbers or an in with Oprah.

Of course, I imagined that “finding myself” would be a once in a lifetime thing. I thought it would be like riding an escalator once you found your right step. But turns out, it’s a way of life. The world never stops shouting or posturing in ways that muffle wisdom. It’s easy to lose touch. It’s like dropping an earring at a rambunctious party. I have to hunt for the glint of gold again. Normal people peer at me strangely. Still, I search. Because only I know what is missing. A life of reaching the highest expression of my potential requires continuous focus and choice. I may not know exactly what I’m looking for, but I always know when something’s missing.

Just to be clear, I am so not cut out to be a trailblazer. I am careful and neurotic and do not like adventure one bit. I don’t even like trying new foods, much less new jobs or lives or voices inside myself. But I want to feel good. And feeling good comes from undiluted self-honesty. There’s no owner’s manual or cheat sheet. And forget about external validation. No tour guide and souvenir shop. This is not a trip for tourists. This is the trip of travelers. Your feet crunch on the ground as you listen to your own breath. This is the footpath that only you can find, create, conjure, or allow. It’s unsettling to be “on your own” without directions. But it saves time. Because the highways just take you where everyone else is going and while it’s popular as all get-out, so are Kim Kardashian Instagram posts. Freedom demands more of you. Freedom reveals more of you to yourself.

When it comes to owning your life, no one else can tell you where you belong. It’s okay to falter and lose your way. You have to listen, probe, make mistakes, step on snakes, and do a few takes of the scene that might not even get into the movie. Because you will get this right. You will find what’s yours already.

It’s the process that gives you clarity.

And it’s always better to lose the way for a time, than to stop for good and lose yourself.

Tama Kieves

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say …

nice

Wow, was I raised like this!

I remember in high school, the girl I most emulated was soooo nice. People would say, “She never says a bad word about anyone.” For a while, that’s what I wanted to be like, especially because my own thoughts ran rampant, swinging from happy to murderous in the same five minutes. In the South, where I lived at the time, angry women were frowned upon, unless you could master a kind of faux anger, where you playfully put your hands on your hips and pouted, all the while remaining cute.

All through high school, I practiced controlling my emotions to make them more acceptable, and because I was a new girl, I though it might make me acceptable as well.

After those years of hormonal upheaval, the murderous feelings subsided, but so did my ability to voice an opinion. At some point, I realized, I had given up my own voice to make other people comfortable. I’m still learning how to find that voice again.

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with being nice. But it’s being nice to the point where not making waves outweighs everything else that is the problem. Perfect example! I sometimes hesitate to tell the person blowdrying my hair that they are actually burning my scalp. I keep thinking they’ll stop any minute, and I won’t have to say, “That’s a little too hot for me, ha ha! I’m such a whiner!” On a much more important level, I put off having difficult conversations with my children that need to be had. I fall back into the pattern of saying nothing, when I have nothing nice to say.

But what if the truth is upsetting?

Here’s an article from the Elephant describing one woman’s thoughts on being too nice:

(Sorry about the racy ads, on my version at least. : (

Why Niceness is a Cover for our Struggle to Speak Truthfully

Claudia Christan’s Ted Talk on Naltrexone

Claudia-Big-2250x1250

Interesting Ted Talk from actress Claudia Christan, and how she stopped drinking.

I have no personal experience with Naltrexone, but I’ve heard from other people (mostly in Europe) that say the drug helped them tremendously. I have no idea if it’s widely prescribed in the US, but it does seem to have promising results.

Claudia Christan  Tedx London

Just Doing my Homework

Glow version

(Photo: Me, with special glow filter and sunlight effects.)

I have a life coach. I know, very trendy, but this woman is the perfect mix of intelligence, spirituality, and humor. She’s big into A Course in Miracles and has written some amazing books that I reference from time to time. ANYHOW, I told her about a spiritual experience I’d had that I’ve never written about, except in a memoir that I may never publish, and she believed me. Unreservedly.

And since she believed that, I told her another secret. I told her that from the time of that breakthrough, I’ve been able to do “readings,” which I have to put in air quotes because I’m not that comfortable with the word. Same goes for “psychic” or “medium.” In truth, I’m fine with those words applying to SOMEONE ELSE. And that’s part of the reason that up until recently, only a handful of people knew anything about this. At the urging of my coach (and after another year of putting it off), I did some readings for people in a spiritual group she has in Denver. It went very well. More importantly, it was fun and energizing. She’s also encouraged me to reach out to the world in general, because she sees these readings as healing, and they have been, both for me and other person.

The best way I know to describe what happens is that my mind and someone else’s become joined in a kind of communion. It’s almost like the feeling I used to get when I had a drink with someone. One drink in, and we suddenly connected on a deeper level, like we’d found some new way to communicate. I loved that feeling. Friends appeared out of thin air, and social anxiety was something that you could only imagine sober.

With all this in mind, I’m reaching out to do a few practice sessions. A year ago, I did one for a lovely woman in Australia. It was such a wonderful experience that I’m going to give it a try again.

SO! If there are any brave, open-minded souls out there, send me an email. (Of course, there is no charge for these readings. It’s just for fun and so that I can tell my coach I finally did what she has been asking me to do for years.)

Wow — one more of my secrets out there in the world. It feels good.

💕

Shawna

Please use this email:   shawnacarpenter05@gmail.com

Or just reach out in the comments.

The Danger of Justified Anger

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After a difficult marriage and divorce, I thrived on anger. Somehow, the anger felt like power in a situation where I had very little of it. It wasn’t until I read A Return to Love that I knew there was a downside to what I saw as perfectly justified anger. Here’s a great article from The Elephant describing one women’s anger toward her father:

The Danger of Justified Anger.

(You may have to give an email address to read articles from The Elephant.)