A Living Prayer: Embodying Intention

Posted September 30th, 2016

woman-prayingThe woman’s word was “WORTH“, and I watched as she went first, embodying each letter of that word — her intention – with her body, spelling it first forwards and then retracing it backwards.

I was her partner. My job was to witness her.

It was an exercise, really — something we were asked to do as part of a ritual for a new moon Qoya gathering. If you’re not familiar with it, the foundational belief in Qoya is that through movement, women remember they are wild, wise and free.

A friend of mine who is trained in Qoya recently decided to offer a series of new moon rituals with a small group of women here in Maine. The last time I attended one of her sessions it inspired the opening scene from my book. Needless to say, I was keenly aware of reentering that sacred space again just over a year later. Part of me couldn’t help wondering if dancing in this barn was how I would begin all of my books.

But as I stood there, watching my partner dance her intention, all my thoughts and wonderings sloughed off me and slid soundlessly to the floor. I watched as this woman — whose voice was barely above a whisper when she spoke — close her eyes and move deeper and deeper into her skin as she embodied each letter. I became transfixed by her as she moved through the W and onto the H and the O and the L, eventually getting to the E. When she finished each pass, she quietly gathered herself, keeping her eyes closed, and made her way back through the word, ending where she began, with a W.

Back and forth she went as I watched, sometimes in capitals, and sometimes choosing to embody a lower case letter. While music played softly in the background and three other women traced their words with their bodies behind her, I watched my partner, enrapt. I could see the moment where the exercise moved from her head and melted down into her body. And then her soul. I watched as her expression of the word “WHOLE” shifted from being a thought or an intention “out there” to a whole hearted embodied desire “in here”.

And as I widened my gaze beyond her particular movements, I could take in the other women moving in the space, eyes closed while they invited their desires to inhabit their bodies more fully. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before – no choreography, no synchronization, no consciousness or awareness of how they were sharing the space in this small magical barn in the middle of the woods. They just moved from someplace deep down in their bodies — and when taken as a whole, the scene was utterly breathtaking like some mystical ballet was happening before my eyes.

When the music paused and my partner opened her eyes and looked into my own, we both had tears streaming down our faces. The awkwardness was gone, and a deep intimacy had moved in its place, bonding me to this woman who had been a stranger 30-minutes earlier.

Then it was my turn, and she waited patiently as I gathered myself and wrote my (long) word on a piece of paper so I would know how to spell it backwards. My word was “LUMINOUS”, and my breath caught in my throat when I felt myself write it down — as if I were taking a sacred vow with the Divine.

I began as she did, a bit awkward and literal in my movements, wondering if my partner could “read” what I was “writing” with my body. And then, as she did, I felt the shift. Far from a flip of a switch, the sensation felt more like a faucet had been opened to its widest aperture within me. I could feel I was dancing with and for something much greater than simply my own intention.

I felt like a high priestess. I felt deeply of service. 

I felt luminous as I was embodying the word “LUMINOUS“. It wasn’t simply something I was wanting or aspiring to be…it was actually ME in that moment. More than that, it was flowing out of me, like my body had become one of those a metal spiles that gets tapped into a maple tree, and this warm viscous syrup was just pouring through me — and out of me — like a gift.

When the music stopped and my friend instructed the dancers to open their eyes, I felt the same sensation I had when my partner met my eyes after her dance — a deep connection that felt more like gratitude; as if witnessing me and being in my presence had somehow nourished her.

I have never experienced anything quite like that in my life, and that’s saying a lot because if you know me at all (or have read my book), you know I’m no stranger to being exposed to things like this. But this was different. And, I assume, timely and by design.

This was me living my prayer with my whole body. Or perhaps my wholly body.

A living prayer. I’ve written about that concept, and maybe you’ve even heard me talk about it. The tagline of my book is even entitled “A Woman’s Living Prayer“. But now I get that writing those words on my book was really the equivalent of me opening yet another door inside myself, saying “this way, Lael…this way.

The first was an intellectual exercise (naming it) as I started to chew on a new desire, and the latter is actually me deciding and learning how to embody (own) that desire. The first was saying my prayer, the latter is living it.

This is something I’ve actively been making space for in my creative life lately — inviting that living prayer into my body more fully and feeling my way as I go. I know now that I can’t simply just understand it. I have to experience it. And I am, more and more. I’ve had moments in nature recently where I feel completely present and connected to the earth, feeling its pulse as my own. I’ve held my boys and smelled their heads and experienced profoundly new degrees of presence. I’ve made art and gotten in the dirt. I’ve immersed myself in lakes and oceans, and have felt the wind hit my skin in new ways. In all of these instances, I’ve slowed down – by choice, by circumstance, or by design. Most recently, I found myself singing that song by Alison Krauss — the very song that inspired the tagline of my book — the other night in the shower:

Take my life…and let me be….a living prayer…my God to thee. 

In the hot water and the mist of the shower, naked and with my eyes closed, it did, indeed, feel like I was making a prayer with my whole body. A prayer that had me being of service, of doing work that felt sacred, of using myself to let some amber syrup run into the world. A prayer that had me vibrating with such a clear intention that I am luminous.

I’m finding my way into this, I am. I can feel it in my bones, but more to the point, I can feel it in my soul. It’s not always graceful — and certainly not without a good fight every now and then just to prove to myself I’m alive and kicking. But my senses are more alive now than they’ve ever been which, in this culture and landscape, has been both wonderful and challenging. My increased senses have literally made me more sensitive.

But now? Something new has emerged from all this: a curiosity. A desire to hear from and connect with others who are interested in this idea of being a living prayer. In fact, earlier this year when I announced I would be relaunching my SheSpeaks event (my evening of women’s storytelling) this December 8th, I decided the theme for this one would be “A Living Prayer.” I want to hear from more women on this topic: What is your living prayer and how are you living it? But more importantly, I want to bear witness to them embody it that night, just as I did my partner as she traced her intention with her body.

I am envisioning an entire audience dripped in warm syrup by the end of the evening.

So join me — and them — if you’d like on December 8th (tickets are on sale now), but in the meantime I’ll leave you with this invitation on this new moon in Libra (an uber powerful time to manifest, by the way…):

— Pick a word… a word that lights you up, makes your whole body smile, and represents a deep desire for yourself
— Put on some quiet music
— Enlist a partner to witness you or simply keep company with yourself
— And invite your word to move into you more fully by slowly tracing each letter with your body, first forwards then backwards
— Repeat this (S.L.O.W.L.Y.) until you feel it move out of your head and into your bones…wait for the faucet to open

Somewhere in all that, see if you can feel how what you want — your living prayer — is actually connected to us all. See if you can feel how the service you are doing, the nourishment you are providing, the gift you are offering starts with you and ultimately pours out to us like syrup.

And then thank yourself for being such a badass rockstar of a living prayer. I know we will.

My Latest Leap

Posted June 23rd, 2016

2016-06-16 12.27.55I can’t tell you how many days I wake up and think: I want to be as brave as my clients. 

And let me tell you…from where I sit, that’s a tall order.

In my work, I tend to be a brave people magnet, so I find myself surrounded by them daily — people striking out into unchartered waters with the voice of doubt hollering from the back of the boat, people walking a thin yet strong cord of inspiration toward a hazy vision that’s often clouded by fear, and people that are actively engaging a conversation with the unknown, even if they aren’t yet convinced they want a relationship with it…or trust that it’s telling the truth.

Brave people. 

These are my clients. We speak the same language. We inspire each other (although I don’t know the degree to which my clients realize they inspire me as much as I inspire them).

Ergo my waking invitation to myself: I want to be as brave as my clients. What does that mean?

I want to trust my intuition even more than I imagined possible — even more than the last time I did, when I scared the shit out of myself. I want to engage my fear as well as my desire. I want to acknowledge when I’m hungry, and not wait a moment longer to feed myself what I’m hungry for – creatively, spiritually, professionally, physically, emotionally.

I want to walk my talk. I want to take my own medicine. I want to feel what I am asking my clients to feel. I want to trust myself to the degree that I am asking my clients to trust themselves. It’s about integrity, alignment, and truly belonging to a tribe. A brave-hearted tribe.

So here’s my latest endeavor.

I’ll be hosting an event on July 7th in Yarmouth, Maine called An Unscripted Evening. I’ve never done anything like this before, and truth be told that excites me to no end. It’ll be part book reading, part riff on topics that are present and most relevant to the work I’m doing with my clients, and part Q&A with you, the audience. But mostly, it’s about the nourishment that happens when a community of kindred spirits gathers in the same place at the same time. It’s about the courage that can grow exponentially in the presence of others being courageous. It’s about moving toward the unknown, bantering with the what ifs, and entertaining the why nots.

It’s about being a part of a revolution, really. 

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to your instincts and what they’re telling you. Join me and a pile of other amazing people the evening of July 7th and let’s make the lights blink with the power surge that happens. Bring your journal, bring a friend, or bring your village. Bring your questions, bring your intentions, or bring your curiosity of what’s waiting for you there that night — wanting to grab your attention, bend your ear, ignite your spirit, or open your heart.

You can check out my website more more detailed information about the event. Advance tickets are now available on-line now via Brown Paper Tickets, so if you know you want to be there, I’d highly recommend grabbing your’s today. Tickets (cash only) will also be available at the door that night, as will signed copies of my book, Unscripted: A Woman’s Living Prayer.

Here’s to leaping. Together.

Word Food

Posted October 8th, 2015

2015-10-08 09.17.53I am a huge fan of words. I have often said that my idea of heaven is being alone in a bookstore with no sense of time, just being able to roam endlessly among all those words.

Books are my happy worm holes.

I have been known to spend days – weeks, sometimes months – with my face winced in something akin to physical pain as I search for just the right word to describe an experience I’m having, an event I’m creating, or, most recently, a book I’m writing.

But it’s always so worth it, because when I finally find it – or more aptly feel it land in my bones – it’s such a delicious treat, like warm, dark chocolate mixed with a dollop of honey and a dash of cayenne melting on my tongue.

Words are my ultimate accessory.

I wear them like earrings, stack them like bangles and wrap them around me like the most luxurious pashmina. I’ve never been a fan of gems or jewels – much to my mom’s chagrin who insists to this day that I will eventually love them. Words are my jewels, and I wear them like a priestess.

Upon my death, I would love nothing more than if those whose lives I have touched gift me with their favorite word, writing it in red and kissing it before offering it to the ground with my ashes. Morbid, I guess, but I think about these things.

Words like “fecund”, “luminous” and “effervescent” send electric currents of pleasure through my body. Indeed, I do believe words have the potential to be the ultimate sex toy. And don’t just take my “word” for it…read some poetry or pick up some erotica and try it for yourself.

For many women, the right word has the ability to transport us to the feminine energy in ourselves like a high-speed lane – traffic jams, red lights or construction zones be damned. It’s right up there with nature and movement when it comes portals that help us to plug into our bodies and our truth.

I love fiction, but what really nourishes my soul are the stories women tell about their own lives. The ones that make me weep and laugh and moan. The ones that make me not feel so alone. Or crazy. Those books.

In fact, it was that very gratitude I have felt many times from reading another woman’s story was the inspiration for my own book’s dedication:

For the woman who feels alone. Or crazy. Or both.

2015-09-14 10.59.40Those are the women for whom I wrote Unscripted – the ones who lay awake at night thinking, “Am I nuts…does everyone else have this figured out but me?”

[And for those of you who have asked about the latest ETA on my book’s release…an update: I’m doing a “clean read” of the final manuscript this weekend, and am on track to upload it to CreateSpace on Oct 19…which would hopefully put me on track to release it by Halloween (how perfectly auspicious, right?) So almost there!]

One of the hardest things I’ve had to do over the past year in writing this book out of me, is to intentionally cut myself off from those books that nourish me the most – the stories written for and told by women. Why? Because I had to go down into my own worm hole (so to speak…). I had to tune out all the other voices of women so I could hear just my voice in this noisy world…to create a void for the quiet whisperings of my soul to talk to me.

That was really, really hard. And I can’t tell you how many times over the past year, I’ve picked up and put down books stacked beside my bed written by Amy Poeler, Meggan Watterson, Kitty Cavalier, Amanda Palmer, Sera Beak, Christiane Northrup and Brene Brown with a reverent nod, promising, “someday soon, my tasty morsel…I’ll be back for you.”

And I’m happy to report: That day has come. There are days I never thought it would, but sweet mercy, it’s here! And just in time, too. Right on track – even despite my impatience and fit-throwing foot-stomping.

Having read my own manuscript no less than eight times cover to cover – after having been brought to my knees writing it – and with my last “clean read” in sight, I cannot tell you how excited I am to tuck into someone else’s words and stories other than my own. Honestly. The prospect literally makes me drool and, no, I’m not being overly-dramatic.

2015-10-08 09.19.09Yesterday, while I was waiting for one of my clients to arrive, I literally turned the wheel of my year. I have this framed wheel in my office that represents all the seasons, the elements, months and, of course, words I associate with each season.

Turning that wheel a quarter turn four times a year, helps me to orient myself with the seasons of me, turning my attention and intentions toward the invitations embedded in each season. People have called this framed thing,  “art”, but I’ve always resisted that notion, seeing it as entirely functional. Let’s just say it’s functional art I made.

So yesterday I turned the wheel a quarter so that the fall – September, October, and November – was on the top left, and the winter – December, January, and February – came onto the scene, stage right. I had a moment of grief – for the summer that had passed (it was an insanely good one), and for the year I had spent writing this book (now it would live in print instead of my body).  Turning that wheel yesterday gave myself permission to grieve what has passed and to move into what is becoming.

I went home that night and finally – blessedly! – felt ready to read another woman’s story. Sure, I still did that thing I do – reading the acknowledgments first, checking the front matter for the publisher, reading her bio, making note of how she chose to format her book – but mostly, I allowed myself to be fed by another woman’s story.

And it was so damn nourishing, slaking my parched soul instantly.

2015-10-03 17.20.39The book was literally called The Book of She, and it arrived on my doorstep this past weekend after having pre-ordered it six months ago. I have long since been a fan of Sara Avant Stover’s, so I was delighted to lay my hands on this book that I knew came from the depths of her soul.

A soul sister’s soul.

My eyes landed on a particular phrase as she set the context for what she calls the Heroine’s Journey: “…the feminine teaches most potently through storytelling…

I put the book down and wept. 

The full magnitude of my book – and what I had put in it – started to flow into my heart. I had just spent over a year of my life gathering, writing and weaving together pieces of my story. Many, many pieces. Which means that I had been generating nourishment for the feminine of any woman – or man – who chooses to feast on it.

This was me feeding the collective feminine in us. 

I felt so honored, and bowed my head in gratitude at the gift I had been given to write this book. I bowed to myself (such a new behavior for me) with gratitude for saying yes to that ask. I bowed to the feminine, for patiently waiting for us to get ripe and ready. And finally, I bowed to all those people out there who are courageously giving the feminine a voice and an honored seat at our table so it starts to flow over us in wave after wave, nourishing our tired bodies and worn out spirits.

I felt pride – as if I had brought a really good dish to a pot luck dinner. It turns out my words are food. And my book – the one I hope to put in your hands very soon – was me replenishing some word food from others that had nourished me over the years.

And with that happy and full heart, I tucked into a good book and ate.

Food For Thought: Your Worth

Posted June 10th, 2015

2015-06-03 14.47.09This is the latest in a video series I’m calling “Food for Thought”, where I explore a topic that seems to be really present and relevant among the women I know – which includes me.

Since posting this video on my YouTube Channel last week and hearing how it’s resonated with women in the SheChanges community, it seems like it’s a timely topic – one that is collectively being chewed on by women.

Rock on. For all you’re worth.

My Next New Thing: Food For Thought

Posted June 3rd, 2015

2015-06-03 14.46.09I am always so grateful when a period of intense introspection is rewarded by a sudden burst of inspiration.

Argh…BOOM! Ahhhhh…. YES!

It so good to get to the other side after walking over hot coals (which to be clear, means having myself sit still, “do” nothing, blow shit off, let the house look like a bomb went off in it, make space, get silent, and go inward…) Good times, indeed, let me tell ya. But so worth it.

That was the case for me earlier this week. When I got clear (again) on why I’m here, what that means to me now, and why it matters. But most importantly, it had me arrive at the doorstep of what comes next.

Here is the back story on my “what comes next” moment with myself and what I intend to do about it.

Sourcing New Stories

Posted May 30th, 2014

2012-10-06 11.26.26I’ve been playing around with the idea of our stories as a source – and how the things we tell ourselves ABOUT ourselves can guide us…but only up to a point. My most recent thought about this is that around mid-life, our stories start to run out of gas…we reach the end of the line with them and they start to give us diminishing returns.

When you think about it, the stories we collect and share are really just evidence of the beliefs we hold dear. They serve to reinforce themselves time and time again each time we share them. Until they run out of gas and sputter out.

One such belief of mine is “I’m a fighter”.

I’ve long cherished this belief about myself, and have countless stories I could tell – of my childhood and having been completely deaf for nearly a year before anyone realized it…  living with my mom as she navigated a drawn-out and nasty divorce…being a division one runner…to being a woman working in the corporate world – that would serve as evidence to reinforce that belief of me being a fighter. Scrappy. Resourceful. Resilient. Fierce. Strong.

Earlier this year, my eldest son and I got totally sucked into the Divergent book series. The book is based on a dystopian society, where at the age of 16 you have to make a choice to identify with one of five factions – each one valuing a particular quality. We both flew through the books, knowing the movie was coming out soon, and were eager to compare notes. We both wanted to know which faction WE would have chosen for ourselves.

In my mind, it was a clear cut choice for me – a no-brainer, plain as the noise on my face. I would have chosen the Dauntless faction. This was the faction that valued courage above all else. They were the warriors of the society, totally badass – physically capable, mentally strong, fiercely loyal.

But I didn’t say any of this, I just asked my son to guess my faction. He looked at me thoughtfully, and said, “I’m thinking you’d either be Amity (which valued Harmony) or Abnegation (which valued selflessness)”. My jaw dropped. Images flashed through my mind from my life, and I felt ridiculously close to having an identity crisis.

How could my son not see me more clearly? How could he not get that my most treasured quality is courage?

After all, this was the SAME son, who when he was six on our vacation at a lake house accidentally knocked over a steel davit– one of those big hooks that held boats away from the docks – in such a way that it actually fell down on top of him, pinning the skinniest part of him to the ground. Had it not been for a railroad tie by his feet that acted like a fulcrum displacing some of the weight, he would have been crushed.  I heard his screams and came running outside. Without hesitation, I lifted up the davit and told him to drag himself out from under it, which he did. He was rattled, as were we, and we went to the ER to make sure he had no internal damage. “How much did that davit weigh?”, I heard the Doctor ask my husband. “About 500 lbs, the same weight as my motorcycle.” My jaw dropped. I had heard about mothers lifting cars off their children, but I honestly didn’t believe it. It hadn’t felt that heavy, but try as I might later that night, I could NOT lift that davit one inch off the ground.

Surely that act alone, would qualify me for the Dauntless faction.

In many ways, that’s who I am. I rally, I rise, I respond to the call, ready for action. Ready to fight, if need be. So as I listened to my son that day, I could feel myself DIGGING in. HOLDING ON.

Around this same time, I was reading the Desire Map and trying to solidify my five words that best described how I wanted to feel in life.  I put DAUNTLESS right at the top of my list. Other words followed like POTENT and RESOURCEFUL and SHINING. I wrote them on a pink sticky and posted them in my office.

And then the strangest thing happened. I noticed that every time I saw them, I felt exhausted. Drained. Uninspired. I sighed a lot when I looked at them. They depleted me just hanging out on a stickie, let alone considering putting them into action.

I told one of my friends, “It’s like all the fight has gone out of me.”

What I’ve come to appreciate through the convergence of a bunch of other events since that day, it that my masculine energy in me – the fighter in me – has been tapped one too many times. Depleted. It’s simply not working for me like it used to. It’s a story that has told itself out, making way for a new story to emerge – one where The Feminine energy in me is the main character. Which, to be quite honest, is a completely foreign concept to me.

When I went to an energy worker earlier this year, she said, “Hmph. Your entire body – especially your lymphatic system (the fluids that house your emotion and spirit) is stuck in fight mode. And fight is just another form of protection. Which means your body is afraid….and has been for many, many lifetimes. It seems it’s all you’ve ever known.” Oh. So I asked her what she thought I should do.

“Do? There is no doing here. Only feeling. And being. Everything right now needs to flow from your heart, not your head.”

Shit. Then I asked, “For how long?” And she just smiled. 

Yielding. That’s what I’m talking about here.

Yielding as means of sourcing my Feminine energy. It’s all about opening, receiving, allowing, and feeling my way as I go. Allowing myself to feel vulnerability as I’ve never felt it before. No fighting, no rising up, nothing to protect. Just some fresh new stories to live.

The preceding was a transcript from a portion of my own story I shared on stage at SheSpeaks, my evening of storytelling held 5.8.14. This particular segment was used to set the stage and segue to Erin Oldham, the fourth storyteller of that evening.

Going To My Happy Place

Posted May 22nd, 2014

The following is the transcript from my final piece of story from SheSpeaks, my evening of women’s storytelling 5.8.14, and set the stage for Donna Desilet’s story: Salty Tears, Salty Sea.

Lael on stage at Sourcing SheSpeaks B&W 5.8.14 - Melissa Mullen PhotographyI want to try something with you. You know when you do a guided meditation or one of those stress reducing things they ask you to go to your “happy place”? I want you to go there now. Get in your mind a picture of your happy place. You got it?

Ok, now by a show of hands, whose happy place is outside in nature? That’s what I thought… For many of us: the source we go to in our minds – if not in reality – when we need fortification, nourishment, connection, peace – is often found in nature.

I have two happy places. The first is on a dock on a lake in New Hampshire. I can go there in a flash and feel the wind come across the water and hit my face. I can smell it and hear the waves slapping and sloshing under the dock.

But my favorite happy place – the one I frequent most often – is in the mountains and I can go there in a flash if I need to. It’s on Mount Monroe, some of you might know it…it’s a small pip of a mountain just down from the summit of Mount Washington, and next to the Lakes of the Clouds hut. I’ve been to this place many times, but there was this one time… We hiked up after dinner to watch the sun set and were kind of bummed because it was pretty foggy and socked in. But we climbed up to the top and stood and waited. And then, like magic, we watched as this cloud came across the neighboring peak, dipped down into the ravine in front of us, and then crept up the other side of the ravine toward the peak of the mountain we were on, and then PASSED THROUGH US and went down the other side. I’ve never experienced anything like that.It still gives me goosebumps just thinking about that moment today.

But one part of that story that I’ve NEVER told – a part that I thought was silly and unrelated – was that while all this was happening on that mountain that day, this very cute British guy – one of the trip leaders with me – was standing behind me with his hands under my wind jacket, on my breasts. To the casual observer, it just looked like I was leaning back against him, while he was hugging me from behind. And I could make a case that it was very cold that evening… But Ed and I knew better. And now today, as I reflect on that moment and share with you that “hidden” piece of the story, I see just how relevant to my experience in nature – OF nature – it was. It’s an important part of my story because THAT was the moment – the first moment – I discovered the deep connection between nature and the erotic. 

Did you ever see that movie Chocolat with Juliette Binoche? She’s in southern france, with this glorious cape, and she tosses open the window and FEELS the wind calling to her to follow it. And she does, time and time again, despite the pleas from her daughter to stay in one place. I get that. I have felt that call of the wind many times in my life, and my response is always the same, to close my eyes, breathe deeply and look up. Almost as if I’m letting it know that I hear it, see it, feel it.

It’s sensual, really.

Some of you might not know this, but my earliest versions of SheSpeaks started out as something I called “Tribal Gatherings”. They weren’t really me, but they were relatively successful and I now see it was the seed for this event to bloom.  The first one I did was on the topic of SENSUALITY and what that meant. I remember that being such an expansive and generative topic for women, clearly striking a hungry nerve. We talked about how sensual had been reduced to sexual, when it was so much more than that. And we spoke of many things we’re touching upon tonight – the elements, the wind, warm rains, hushed snow, fireflies, certain foods, the smell of dirt, the warmth of red wine in the belly, the colors of a canyon or the changing blues in the ocean, experiences in nature like skinny dipping and campfires and sleeping under moonlight.

We got it, this group of women. But most recently, I’ve heard a number of men I know accessing – or wanting to access – a similar source inside them, I would argue The Feminine inside them.

I watched my husband have an experience like that this summer while we were on vacation on a lake in New Hampshire. I came out to the front screened in porch and found him standing there, awe struck, with his jaw wide open. I could see he was trying to make sense of what he had just seen, but couldn’t. When he was finally able to describe what he saw, he spoke about a “loon dance.” For those of you who don’t know what this is, apparently in the weeks prior to leaving a lake for the season, all the loons will gather in a big circle, flap their wings, call out to each other and, well, dance. It’s very rare that you witness it, because it happens in the early morning hours. But that morning, I could see it all over Todd’s face – he had witnessed something profoundly magical, deeply spiritual, and incredibly special. A once in a lifetime moment.  

A couple of weeks ago, a client used the word “enraptured” in an email to me describing how she wanted to feel. Upon reading it, I heard myself take a sharp intake of breath. Like the woman in my circle, I thought, “I don’t know exactly what that means, but I want me some of that!” I immediately looked it up and found it meant “intense pleasure” or “delighted beyond measure”. When I saw this client later, she said that she had ditched that word because as a “recovering catholic” she couldn’t get over how enrapture was too close to “rapture” (which not being Christian I had to look that one up, too).  Apparently it comes from the latin meaning of “to seize or take away”, and essentially means the end of the world. So it seems to a large portion of our society “intense pleasure” essentially equates to “the end of the world.

But here’s where I landed with all that. Nature is intensely sensual and so full of pleasure that we are easily swept up in it. Enraptured. It’s also right there, outside our window, wherever we look. We just have to slow down enough to notice it. Which means opening our eyes. And hearts. And asking our intellects to step aside for a moment.

Embracing The Thrash

Posted May 15th, 2014

Lael on stage at Sourcing SheSpeaks 5.8.14 - Melissa Mullen PhotographyHere’s a confession: I spent most of February and March (and some of January, truth be told) watching back-to-back episodes of Parenthood on Netflix. It was embarrassing – I watched 5 seasons that each had 15 episodes that were 40 minutes each. That’s a lot of minutes of my life – three months’ worth, probably. But for some reason I couldn’t stop – or more appropriately, I didn’t want to.

You know why? It made me cry. Lots of tears – happy ones, sad ones, tender ones, empathetic ones, angry ones, despair ones. I. just. Cried. My husband would come into the room and I would look up sheepishly from my iphone with my ear buds, wiping my cheeks (again) as I said, “I’m just MOVED!”, and he would just smile and nod, because he must have known I was getting what I needed.

But I didn’t KNOW I needed that at the time. The urge just sort of over-took me. And in working with all my clients, I know I’m not alone in that. It was a really wet and weepy winter season for a lot of us. Did anyone else out there cry their way through the first quarter of this year?

When I first start working with a client, I typically ask if there is anything in particular she needs from me. You’d be amazed how often I hear this: “watch for when I tear up, because every time I cry that means I’m touching my truth.” I do that a lot with my clients, pause when we touch something tender and ask what’s inside the tears. I see tears as really valuable data points the body is offering up. They’re potent. They’re fluid, so by their nature, they’re just passing through.

I remember once having this amazing body work done by a chiropractor I know. She was really intuitive and did a hell of a lot more than just align my skeletal structure. She had this pen that had no ink in it, and she would use it to put a very pointed pressure in a spot – in my case, right on my ass. Apparently I was carrying a whole lot of emotional shit in my ass. Like a lifetime of it. Anyway, it felt like a white hot needle of pain in my butt, and I started to rail against it, telling her it hurt like hell. Instead of releasing the pressure, she asked me to breath into it. Which I did. And out it came, these sobs that sounded like they came from the depths of my soul. Big, big sobs. The kind where snot drips out of your nose down the floor and you just don’t care. “That was really old emotion”, she said. “What WAS that?” I immediately wanted to know – to make sense of it, to file it away, analyze, add to my pile of stories. But instead she just shook her head and said, “Does it matter? It was on its way out, not in…”

Holy shit. What a revelation. Granting permission to just let something pass through me, without the gatekeeper in my mind needing to see my papers to make it all official.  Asking my intellect to step aside and let my body do its work. What a novel concept. Think of seeing storm clouds in the sky and shouting at it, “You there! Why are you here and what business have you in this town!? State your intentions.” No, you just let it do its thing. Because it’s passing through.

In many ways, our feelings are like the weather channel inside our body, letting us know the climate we’re in. Our tears, laughter, flinches, twitches, fatigue, aches, lightness and weight.  Talk about a source. It’s always with us. And is more than willing to engage in conversation with us if we’re game.

Danielle Laporte is all over this with her latest book, The Desire Map. When she spoke at a conference down in NYC, she asked people to raise their hand if they had a list of how they wanted to feel? The audience was perplexed. No hands. She went on to say that we basically we had it all ass backwards. We have to do lists, missions, strategic plans, New Year’s resolutions, intentions and goals, but she says we’re not chasing any of these; we’re actually chasing the feeling we hope to get as a result. Her premise is that EVERYTHING we do is because we want to feel a certain way. So start there, she says. Identify how you want to feel and you will more keenly guide your actions, decisions and choices.

 But what about when we’re flailing and failing, hung up in our underwear and a bent out of shape. I was there not too long ago about my writing and my coach called me on it: “You’re like a cat in a paper bag”, she said, which made me laugh because that described it perfectly.

Jonathan Fields, founder of the Good Life Project , describes this perfectly in this creed he wrote. It’s essentially a bunch of life instructions, but the one that always stands out to me is “embrace the thrash”. Now THAT is something I can get behind. So much more effective than “don’t be so hard on yourself.”  It’s essentially saying, “see all that shitstorm swirling around you, just grab a hold of a bunch of it and hug the shit out of it….hold on and let it have its way with you…enjoy the ride”

Because here’s the thing about our emotions: we’re capable of some pretty big ones, but because we’re so afraid of them we keep them in a pretty tightly contained area. We go to pathology so quickly and easily, especially if we have any family or personal history of mental illness –  which who DOESN’T these days? Here’s how that plays out in my own life…if I get too sad or full of despair, I think, “Maybe I’m depressed” If I feel too happy, elated and buoyant, I might worry, “am I manic?” Which essentially means that everything in between is, what, “anxious”? That so doesn’t work for me. That kind of mental gymnastics I do exhausts me.

But when we consider our emotional as a source of wisdom and insight for us, I suspect there is so much more we can tap into – a deeper pool and wider range that we are capable of feeling. Even in the thrash. ESPECIALLY in the thrash.

Sourcing The Feminine

Posted May 14th, 2014

Lael Sourcing - Melissa Mullen PhotographyThe following is a transcript from last week’s SheSpeaks, my evening of women’s storytelling. This particular piece was my second of the evening, and was told prior to Kate Davis’s story on The Strategy of Magic.

I’ve been doing this thing recently (draw infinity sign) – I don’t think it’s a tick, but it’s actually starting to concern me because I can’t seem to stop doing it. Seriously. My life seems to be all about this (draw) right now and I’m just starting to understand what that means.

It first started for me when my women’s group this winter was exploring the topic of “work life balance” – go ahead and role your eyes if you’d like, because that’s what WE all did. It feel chronic, never-ending, and almost cliché. In fact, we dabbled with calling the topic that night “Fuck Balance!” because it just seemed impossible.

And in many ways, it is. Because what we’re doing is essentially asking ourselves to choose – at any one moment in time, between work or life. The way we have it set up is that to fulfill one, necessarily comes at the cost the other. Which is bullshit. Most of us want both. We know we can’t have it ALL (we get that now), but surely we don’t need to CHOOSE between TWO things that matter to us. So we started looking at the conversation underneath that “balance” conversation as a means to uncover what we were REALLY talking about. And wanting.

I’m an artist at heart, so I started drawing as we were talking. We wanted to feed our ambition, use our voices, our power and intellect. We wanted to have impact, make some noise, rattle some old cages, be independent and make more money. We also were tired and wanted to retreat, to be still, to take naps in the sun. We wanted to feed our spirits, fill our senses, move our bodies, write, read and make soup. Maybe some bread.

And that’s when it occurred to me, we’re not really talking about “work and life” in this whole conversation, we’re talking about The Masculine and The Feminine. We weren’t talking about balance, we were talking about integration.

Then we did the coolest thing. Someone called for a show of hands: Who identifies with the masculine? All eight hands but one flew up. We gasped audibly, I guess because we were surprised that we weren’t alone. Here was this group of women – sitting in a WOMEN’S CIRCLE that was called ON BEING A WOMAN…which was hosted by SHEChanges –  and we were acknowledging that most of us were dripping with masculine energy, craving The Feminine, but feeling unsure of what that even meant. Or when we understood it, we’d even want it.

So how does all this relate to our theme of Sourcing tonight? What I’m suggesting is that SOURCE – our source, THE source, your source – where ever you go to get the goods, answers, guidance – IS The Feminine. They’re one and the same. So what we are actively seeking to pull in to our lives more – what we are craving – is actually The Feminine energy living in us, demanding to be fed. 

Now, here’s something to try at home: do a quick Google search for “The Feminine” and see what it offers you. What you’ll most likely find are a whole bunch of references of Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique, about “the problem with no name.” You’ll also be inundated with LOTS images of scantily clad women and tons of sexual references and innuendo.

But The Feminine is more than just political agenda, gender roles or sex.

Here’s another experiment…try to engage a group of women or men or a group of both in a conversation about The Feminine and watch how it flares up, quickly morphs into a conversation about “men and women” and then just as quickly peters out. It reminds me of what Brene Brown says about her researcher on subject of shame…it’s a sure-fire way to repel people at dinner parties. Funny, how those two topics trigger similar responses from people.

The challenge we face, then, is that when we are seeking to “source” The Feminine, it strangely elusive and hard to track down.  You’re also on your own and left to your own devices to figure it out, because it’s difficult (if not impossible) to engage others in a conversation about The Feminine. Sometimes I feel like that lost baby bird in the Dr. Seuss book wandering around looking for its mother…are you my mother? Are you my mother?

But here’s what I do know. Whatever it is: we want it. The Feminine represents much – if not ALL – of what we’re craving in our lives. In our world: peace, flow, grace, ease, connection, communion, reverence, awe, intimacy, compassion, depth, presence, wisdom.

One of the women in my women’s circle this past winter said it best: “I don’t know what it is, what it means, or how to get it, but when you put a THE on THE FEMININE, I so want a piece of that!”

So often in our society we are asked to choose between two things – I mentioned work or life. In the case of sourcing The Feminine, does that mean we need to jump ship and leave the masculine behind!? In this either/or society, sometimes that’s what we’re led to believe. I don’t know about you, but there is no friggin WAY I want to part with the masculine energy inside me. I adore it. In many ways, it’s all I’ve ever known. I would NOT give that part of me up without a fight.

But this is not about giving up anything. It’s about expanding into what we are already. It’s about allowing ourselves to inhabit MORE of ourselves. It’s about dancing with both energies – the masculine AND the feminine – that live inside each of us. It’s about integration, not balance. It’s about dove-tailing, not a zero sum game. It’s about this (draw), flowing between two fuel tanks within us, not throwing a switch, turning one on or shutting it off. 

Sourcing As A Verb

Posted May 13th, 2014

I held my Spring SheSpeaks last Thursday night. Five women took the stage with me to share their stories on the topic of “Sourcing” to an enthusiastic, sold-out, full-house crowd. It was an amazing evening, creating an immediate sense of community bound together by a type of courage, vulnerability, and magic that only those present will be able to understand.  I am still dripping with gratitude for the work that I get to do in the world and the enthusiasm with which it is received. Thank you. So very much.

Following each SheSpeaks, I often get requests from the audience to see a list of books I referenced on stage or a particular concept or model that I referenced. The videos from the event will be released sometime in the next two weeks, so be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to see when those come out, but in the meantime, I’ve decided to share the transcripts of my words from that event. Because I can. Easily.

So over the next few days on my blog, I’ll be sharing various segments of my transcript from last Thursday’s event. Some bits might be out of context if you weren’t present at that evening, but I’m thinking you’ll manage to put it all together. Or not. But here’s the first part…

When I first invited one of the speakers tonight she thought the topic was called “Source” and immediately said yes to my invitation. This was last October. I followed up with her again in February and she’s was still enthusiastically on board. Then I got an email from her a week later: “Uh oh, I just saw your notes on Sourcing and I’m worried…I thought the topic was SOURCE, which means something totally different to me than sourcING…so if it’s sourcing, I’m not sure it’s the topic speaks to me….” The back story here, was that in her industry, “sourcing” is a rather mechanistic term, and is often coupled with terms like “logistics” and “distribution channels” and “procurement”. Ick. And a far cry from where this woman envisioned her story she wanted to tell hanging out…

So I started to think about what I mean by SOURCING – especially in the context of this woman’s definition of “source” – that deep place of wisdom, knowing and connection to the earth and ourselves. So happily, yes, we were on the same page…her definition of source was what I had intended…but when I reflected why I put a “ing” on it, I realized I wanted to make it into a VERB. SourceING. For me, it’s all about the verb – as in: “to GO AFTER or LOCATE a source.”

Because we could sit here and wait all day, for the perfect convergence of circumstance and receptivity to deliver us the goods, but the reality is – this is a noisy world we live in, and besides most of the people I know and love are impatient. Waiting is not our strength. So why not go VERB on this whole “source” thing? Let’s meet it halfway, and go all honeybadger on it as a means to ferret it out, track it down, and insist on an audience with it.

Truth be told, that’s what people pay me for – to support them in ferreting out their truth, clarify what they want, suss out the specifics, get a move on. BAM. For my clients, once they KNOW what they want, they’re gone – off! It’s the waiting, the NOT knowing, the “fog” that drives us bat shit crazy.

So SOURCING. That’s what tonight is all about. Actively foraging for and intentionally accelerating the flow of information, insights and wisdom that will guide us. Our divine rocket fuel.

Did you ever see that movie Avatar with the blue people with tails? The Na’Vi? The source of their wisdom is a tree and there is this one scene where they are all gathered at the base of it, seated around it as community. As I recall, they all PLUG their blue tails into the earth, effectively downloading their experiences, perceptions, sensations, ideas into the collective unconscious of this community… which essentially is the root structure of this big tree (which is a SHE, by the way). And at the same time, they are uploading and reconciling their own data with that of the communities. It’s a beautiful model for what I envision for what we talk about how “we are all one”.

But we don’t have those blue cool tails to plug in. Bummer, huh? And USB cords won’t quite cut it, although social media tree has a pretty cool root system…

But surely you know what we DO have instead. We have nature and animals and elements. We have our bodies and our words, both written and spoken. We have our senses and each other. We have our spiritual places and we have our happy places. We have movement and music and arts. We have good sex and full moons, high tides and divine inspiration.

That’s what we’ll be talking about tonight – all those external portals, doorways, and wrinkles in time that we can go through to access our internal source.

As you’ll hear tonight, it will be different to each of us, but as you’ll also hear, much of it will be universal.

What we’re talking about tonight isn’t particular to any one gender, it’s about our humanity and the energy that flows freely around, among and inside us. The Feminine. THAT’s what we’re essentially talking about. The Feminine source that lives inside each of us. Always there. Always waiting for us. Always plentiful.

So fuck the blue tails. We’ve got our own secret sauce. And we’re sourcing it.