Bruce Jenner and What It Means to be a Man

From Vanity Fair (July 2015):

Bruce Jenner was ‘always telling lies.’ Caitlyn ‘doesn’t have any lies,’ she saCaitlyn Jennerys.

 “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life,’” she told me. “’You never dealt with yourself,’ and I don’t want that to happen.”

“I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live.”

 “I never thought in a million years I would ever have to divulge such private, intimate feelings I’ve had all my life.”

I’m reading excerpts from Caitlyn Jenner’s interview in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair with tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my skin. She is an incredible, complex, beautiful, multi-faceted and brave woman. And what really strikes me the most, is watching this woman exemplify what it means to be a man.

Caitlyn Jenner was once Bruce Jenner, an accomplished and famous athlete. He set a world record for the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and came home with a gold medal. Bruce epitomized what being a man “should” look like. He was strong, handsome, capable, and physically powerful.

However, all the while, Bruce had a secret. He felt like, and wanted to be, a woman. For decades, Bruce kept this secret, only telling a close few. The pressure to keep this secret was so palpable, that Bruce even contemplated suicide after a 2013 TMZ report came out about his tracheal shave. So great is the shame in our society for sexual choices and preferences other than the heterosexual “norm,” that Bruce thought death was a better option than openly admitting his secret.

And yet, two years later, Caitlyn Jenner debuts herself on the cover of Vanity Fair in her full gorgeous glory.

Just for a moment, I want to thank Bruce. I want to thank him for having the courage to live his truth, in spite of the fear and shame he faced. Bruce, by living into his true identity of Caitlyn, has helped to shift what it means to be a man in this country.

I would propose that “being a man” is not necessarily being the strong, tough, guarded, emotionless, powerful and dominating character that our popular media depicts. Instead, I think that Bruce (and many many like him who are bravely but quietly living their own truths) is helping to pave the way to a new version of masculinity which is about bravely and courageously living your truth and vulnerability.

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown writes that in her research, men reported their biggest source of shame was feeling weak, defective, criticized, and ridiculed. The star athlete transforms into a soft feminine woman. The feminine energy is the epitome of vulnerability and softness – everything the masculine fears being. For this Olympic athlete to face the shame of looking like a failure, to live his truth of living as a woman, is a tremendous act of bravery.

Bruce Jenner was a real man. He had the courage to face his greatest source of shame in front of a worldwide audience. He chose to live as a woman, in a society that still degrades and demeans women for being the lesser sex. Bruce felt all of this, and still chose to live his true identity.

Caitlyn says, “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life.”

Thank you Bruce, and Caitlyn, for helping to redefine what we think it is to be masculine. Being a man is to live your truth, in spite of the perceived shame. It is about having the courage to live in your vulnerability, and even softness. Being a man is no longer about hiding what you really feel, in order to be strong. It is about being so strong, that you can express your greatest fears and vulnerabilities. It is about realizing that bravery is not about conquering others, but living your highest truth.

What To Do When You Feel Like A Scary Monster

scary monsterI will admit it. The past couple of weeks, I have been a grouchy, irritable monster. Every little thing has set me off, like the volume level of my iphone when it vibrates on the counter, the sound of my boyfriend’s chewing, driver’s who pull out in front of me, mold on the new tortillas I just bought, the rain, the sun, and the overabundance of water in the decaf Americano I ordered at the coffee shop across the street. I haven’t been proud of my actions and have even been a little short with the people around me.

When I used to have irritation-bursts like this, I used to panic. I thought to myself, “What am I doing wrong? Did I not feng shui my house properly? Are my hormones insanely off-kilter? Am I not meditating enough?” When I felt something that seemed different as compared to my usual state of being, I automatically assumed that I had done something wrong or that something was wrong with me.

Our minds are so quick to make what we experience, about us. And most of the time, our minds like to find explanations that somehow involve us having done something wrong. The mind is funny that way. Rarely does the mind think that what we are experiencing is the result of something right that we are doing in our lives. The mind really likes to make us wrong.
In actuality, my two weeks of irritation might have been because an old pattern was clearing out of my energy field, or I was integrating a new level of consciousness. It might have been because a friend of mine was experiencing something distressing, and my energy field was unconsciously helping her work through it. It might have been because my body was detoxing and coming back into balance. My irritation might have been the result of my body doing something right.

The truth is, I have no idea why I was so irritable. None at all. I used to think that being spiritual, and intuitive, meant being able to understand why everything happens. And sometimes, I do get messages about a particular experience. However, what I have realized is that the “why” isn’t always important. Granted, if there are chronic patterns in your life that you can’t seem to shift, understanding why they are there is important so you can move through them. But for things as transient and fickle as moods, trying to understand the “why” can just add more fuel to the fire.

So try this…Next time you find yourself feeling and acting like a scary monster, instead of getting stuck in your head, trying to think your way into understanding what is going on, take a deep breath and let go. Let go of the need to understand it.

You are human and there are myriad energies moving inside of you and through you at any given time. Don’t try to understand them, just let them move.

And of course, my irritable monster mood did shift. I’m back to feeling like “me” in a way that is even deeper than before.

More and more, I am learning I can trust whatever arises.

Feeling panicked? Connect with the Future You.

Safety. Whether or not we consciously realize it, safety is the feeling we are all scrambling for most of the time.  We think that more money in our savings, a bigger house, the right partner, or exclusively organic food will bring us the safety and security we desire. We want to make sure we can survive this often harsh place called Earth so we stockpile money for a rainy day, or get married to assure we are never alone again, or find the best supplements so that our body is never sick again.

This desire for safety is hard-wirIMG_1966ed into our brains. We are instinctually driven to survive at all costs. And thank goodness we have that wiring or we might have all accidentally walked off cliffs by now! We need our desire for safety and security so we can survive day-to-day.

However, when our life circumstances start to change and we are faced with the loss of a job, or the loss of a loved one, or a break up, our survival self gets triggered and we freak out. You know the panic that sets in when you’ve just been laid off or when you someone breaks up with you unexpectedly? It is the kind of panic that grips your body and makes it hard to breathe. It sends your mind tailspinning into anxiety. It feels as though all your stability is being whisked away from underneath you. Your sense of safety has been threatened and quite naturally, the survival self starts sending “DANGER, DANGER, DANGER” signals to your body and brain.  At this point, our body’s completely lock up and we lose connection to that deeper wisdom within us that knows that this is all ok.

Your Soul knows that endings have to happen to propel you into something even greater. And oftentimes, we cling so hard to safety that our Soul must forcibly remove us from our current situation so we can meet our new destiny.

So how can we deal with these forced ejections out of our comfort zone? We can consciously start to connect to the other, deeper parts of us that know the divine plan. There is a part of us that knows deep down, everything will be ok. You can call it your Soul, God, your Higher Self, or Bob. It doesn’t matter what it is. The important thing is that we connect with what it feels like and what it knows. Doing so will help integrate the divine safety and wisdom that is in you. You’ll feel a lot better and start to see that all the fear that the survival self puts us through really isn’t necessary. Everything will turn out ok in the end. The fear and drama that our survival self creates isn’t necessary to propel us into finding safety. The Soul will lead us into safety.

Try this meditation to start integrating the Soul Self into the survival self.

Meditation to Connect with Future Self

  1. Sit someplace that is quiet and comfortable
  2. Take a few deep breaths
  3. Notice where your body feel tense, scared, or anxious. Just witness it.
  4. Call forth your future self. This is the you in the future who understands why all of this is happening. She (or he) understands that this is all for your greater good. She is infinitely wise and completely at peace. She is whole. She understands.
  5. Let her come hold you….gently rocking you. Let her just be with you. Just allow yourself to rest in her arms. Allow yourself to open up to the safety and peace she feels. She knows it will be ok because she has walked through this and seen the end. Let her just comfort you.
  6. Ask her for any messages she has for you. Don’t censor. Just allow any thoughts, feeling, images, or words to arise.
  7. Take as much time as you want to feel the complete peace and safety of your future self.
  8. Know that everything will be ok. You will be ok. There is no other possibility.

Grumpy Human

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One of the few moments I wasn’t grumpy. Riding around Costco on a Rascal.

 

 

I have a confession to make. Sometimes, I get really really grumpy. And irritable. And angry. I know that some of my clients tend to assume that I spend most my time beaming beatifically as I walk down the streets, smiling at everyone and extending blessings to everyone who passes by me. And truthfully, some days I do. Other days, I most certainly do not.

For the past two weeks, I have been laid up at home with a neon pink cast on my right leg. As you may recall, I had surgery on my left ankle this time last year. Well, the right ankle got jealous and demanded the same treatment. So here I am again, in a cast and on crutches during the hottest month in New Mexico. At this moment, I am a very grumpy human.

I used to believe that to be a spiritual being, I had to be peaceful, content, radiant, and emanating pastel shades of purple from my aura at all times. I judged myself for being grumpy or getting irritated with loved ones. I couldn’t believe that I got impatient in traffic or murderous when faced with long plane delays and bad airport food. I thought that because I am spiritual, I should be peaceful and maintain total composure at all times.

And then I started to realize something. A very good friend of mine reminded me that in the Bible, there were times when Jesus got very angry. I’m by no means a religion expert but I do know that somewhere down the line, we got passed down an image of what it means to be spiritual and that image denies some of the more challenging aspects of being human. To be spiritual seems to mean that we should “transcend” our anger, pain, disappointment, frustration, and rage. Indeed, some religious paths suggest that we aim to do just that.

However, in doing so, we deny part of what makes us human. Being human is sometimes really hard. It just is. And there is nothing wrong with that. We are down here in dense physical matter surrounded by war, power games, poverty, hunger, physical pain, heartbreak, violence, etc. If we try and deny the pain and anger of what it is to be human, we send that pain and anger down deep inside our bodies and unconscious where it hides. When this happens, you can guarantee that one day, that pain and anger will rise up with a vengeance into a cataclysmic explosion.

What if instead of repressing our so-called “negative” emotions, we learned to accept them as part of what makes us human? What if instead of trying to get rid of our negative states, we just added kindness and compassion? What if we loved ourselves for courageously choosing to come down to this messy earth knowing it wouldn’t be easy?

For me, this looks like just accepting where I am without trying to sugarcoat it. Lately I’ve been telling my family, friends, and partner, “I’m grumpy. I just am.” And when I allow the truth of this to just come through, the grumpiness often organically subsides and I’m able to find my laughter again. Previously, I would have tried to appear cheerful and happy while stewing about the fact that I was grumpy and hated the hot New Mexico sun and the dog that kept getting in the way of my knee scooter. Now, when I take a deep breath and calmly admit what I am feeling to those around me, it feels like fresh air comes into my being and my energy begins to move.

Truth is, we are human. We will get depressed, feel anxiety, get annoyed, hate our loved ones, and frown when faced with long airport security lines. And all of this is ok. I believe that the great spiritual avatars all experienced similar emotions. I have even seen some of my most respected spiritual teachers lose their cool once or twice. And it’s ok. The more acceptance and loving we can bring to our unpleasant emotions, the quicker those emotions can move. To be spiritual is to be fully human, grumpiness and all.