I hate that book, The Rainbow Fish. You know, it’s the story about the most beautiful fish in the sea, whose unique shiny scales evoke such jealousy from his friends, that they withhold connection and love from him. They finally come around and give Rainbow Fish friendship, but only after the Rainbow Fish removes each of these shiny scales, and gives a scale to each of his friends. The Rainbow Fish is no longer so shiny, he doesn’t stand out in a crowd, he looks like the rest of the fish, and then, the group can accept him. What the hell?!!
I get that The Rainbow Fish story is supposed to be about the joys of sharing, but to me it conveys a less positive message: if you shine too bright, those around you won’t be able to contain their jealousy and you’ll be rejected, isolated. You want acceptance and love? Then dull what is most magnificent about you, hide your greatest asset, and for God’s sake, don’t sparkle so bright. Even if it means, as it does with the RF, mutilating yourself.
Maybe you can relate. I certainly can. For years, I covered up my divine sparkle. I’d let the fear that someone would be threatened or threatening get to me. I went into hiding. I still struggle with this urge. I know a lot of you out there hide your sparkle too. We want to protect that wounded part of ourselves that believes it is too risky to shine. Maybe a parent, or sibling or friend was threatened by your success. Or maybe you learned from experiences of physical, emotional or sexual abuse that it was dangerous to stand out. The good news is that our unique spark can never be destroyed, but too often we keep it hidden under layers of emotional batting.
Ironically, covering up our divine sparkle doesn’t get us the genuine connection we’re after, nor does it keep us safe. It says to the universe that we don’t trust that we’re divinely protected and guided. But the truth is that when we bring all of our brilliant faculties to a situation, we access even greater intuition, deeper power, and even more divine guidance. Embrace the sparkle that is glimmering within you, peeking through those clouds to reveal its beautiful light.
You have something amazing to share. Don’t diminish who you are to please someone else or satisfy their limiting ideas. We each have a unique shimmer and by expressing yours, you free others to find and shine their sparkle too.
In this very moment, you genuinely have the power. The power to make the decision, and then make it again and again and again to not spend one more minute dulling what is your birthright—to sparkle and to shine that beautiful essence of yours. God knows we need it.
A few years back, we had a beautiful blue stone walkway installed in front of our house. It was expertly put in, the right amount of gravel and clay underneath the carefully placed slabs of bluestone. However, over the years, something has happened. Blades of grass, weeds, and moss have pushed themselves up between the slabs. It is just like nature, isn’t it? No matter what is in front of us, the deeper nature has a way of pushing itself up and through any obstacles, revealing the truth of what is underneath.
We are like those blades of grass. Whatever is pressing on you right now, your true nature–which is joyful and loving– is determined to push itself to the surface. This, our true nature, always emerges, vital, strong, and steady. Count on it. Your light will always break through the darkness.
My heart is breaking. All the killings, the violence, the murder of black people by police, snipers killing police, terrorists killing innocents across the world. The deep pain in the wake of these horrific events is almost too much to bear. I know I’m not alone in feeling shaken. Can’t read the paper without tears of sadness, anger and anguish dropping their salty message down my face.
The only thing that offers a sliver of hope is that the national spotlight on these traumas might draw us into a real, authentic dialogue. A dialogue that will promote a different world, a better world. A world of greater respect for one another. A world where we value connections between humans more than separation from one another because of perceived “differences.” A world where the idea that someone would shoot another human being is unthinkable.
Somehow, not completely a loss, if we use these traumatic acts as an opportunity. An opportunity to not let our broken hearts become bitter hearts. An opportunity to grieve, to feel the deep loss that we have been experiencing, and to plainly recognize the chasm evident in our young country. It is a very raw and tender time when we see the humanity and vulnerability everywhere.
There are no easy answers, but one thought is clear: Don’t give up hope. Hold fast to a vision of a world that is peaceful and built on truth, nurtured by love, and raised up by compassion. When you feel like giving up hope, remember that we are all in this together and together, we will get through this.
The tiger-striped towel hung sadly in the bathroom towel ring, it’s silver stripes half bleached and side seams bedraggled. I looked at this once cotton masterpiece, this towel I love, and realized — I should get rid of it. When I found this hand towel years ago at TJ Maxx for a “deal”, I was super excited to put it in my bathrooms. But here we are, many years later and it’s tattered and ready for the trash.
I, however, can’t let go. I feel silly even spending time thinking about this worn-out towel. Of course, the only reason I’m perseverating on this is that this tattered towel represents something deeper in me. Something crying out to be attended to.
I let myself concentrate on the towel. This towel owes me nothing. It’s served, the good soldier that it’s been, its full tour of duty. It has gathered the wet drops of my hands, my husband’s hands, the hands of my children, my children’s friends, my entire family. It has absorbed and dried, absorbed and dried. It’s been through 1000 spin cycles. It’s done its job. But I can’t let it go. Not just yet.
Why can’t I trash it? After all, I’m on Alejandra-inspired clean out mission and have already let go of things of far more material value. So, why do I insist on hanging on to this tiger-striped hand towel?
In this pause I realize something. This towel is my dream, it’s my hope, it’s my vision for my house and my family. I bought it when we first moved into our home 10 years ago, and in between it’s threads, lay the vision for what I wanted my family’s life to be.
It’s silly perhaps, but my heart breaks for this towel. I can’t throw it out. It would be throwing out my dream of where I want life to be. And life, knock wood, turned out relatively great. So what am I doing?
Maybe for us sensitive souls, letting go, even grieving the little things, is difficult. Yes, we feel so deeply and trust so completely. Grieving can be a sharp reminder that this world is an impermanent and fleeting thing. And that is uncomfortable.
So, I hold this soft, thread-bare towel in my hands. And I know it’s time. Time to hold the past in my heart and not in my palms. Time to grieve the loss of not just the towel, but the growth of my children (a healthy letting go), the aging of my mother, the growing older of myself and all those whom I love dearly. Yes, our relationships become more precious as we get along in this life, but some of the things that travel alongside the passing of time make us downright uneasy. Not just Not easy-but UNeasy– you know, the bristling feelings that accompany letting go of what we cherish.
There is no doubt that some people and certain things will always glisten in the substance of our souls, even if they’re no longer physically here. My dad no longer walks this earth with me, nor my Aunt Mary, or many of my relatives and friends whom I’ve had to say goodbye to way too soon. And so, no, I can’t hold their hands, or look into their soft beautiful eyes. But, if I’m paying close attention, I can hold their memory, the feeling of love they gave me, the feeling of our connection, somewhere deep in my heart. The tiger-striped towel may no longer rest on my gleaming chrome ring. But my memory that as a younger woman, I held a dream for my family –that will. Perhaps our task is to weave the threads of our hopes and love so completely into the fabric of our being. That way, when the physical expression fades or even disappears, the roots of the past still glow with meaning and depth in us.
We talk so much about balance these days— family and work, self-care and care for others, rest and productivity. Have you noticed that it’s ridiculously challenging to stay in balance for any length of time? One minute we’re in balance, then out of balance, we find it again, only to lose it the next.
It’s not the imbalance that throws us off course — balance and imbalance are just part of the yin and yang of our journey. The problem more often is the way we react to imbalance. You know, like when we notice the imbalance and react by judging ourselves compared to others– What is wrong with me? So-and-so has it all together, and I can’t even manage this carpool? Or, we kick it into high-gear action mode–overshop, overconsume, overuse social media sites as a way to quiet the inner wobble. In those agitated states, it’s easy to overreact to the little things, and literally worry ourselves awake at night. The reaction to the imbalance can be more damaging than the imbalance itself.
I’ve been thinking about something I say when teaching balancing poses in yoga classes: “Love the Wobble.” This was a hard-won realization. For years, many of us, myself included, would get mad at the wobble, or hold onto walls when wobbling, or use the wobble as our signal to really begin freaking out. One day I decided that I was just too tired to fight it. I invited the crazy, shaky wobble into my experience instead of letting the wobble indicate that I was on my way down. Once I started letting in and loving the wobble, I fell less. And when I did fall, it just wasn’t such a big deal.
The wobble is inherent in life. Maybe the wobble helps us steady ourselves, a mini-course correction of sorts. Fighting the wobble? That only creates more stress.
When the wobble shows up, on or off the mat, send it love, not resistance. Embracing the wobble can be a game changer. An amazing thing happens when we love the wobble in our lives. We can relax a little more, accept ourselves a little more, and, when we fall, find more grace to get back up.