Today is my mom's birthday. It boggles the mind that she was born 115 years ago. Much has happened since then. The world is a different place in many ways. But in others, it's still the same.
We still want to share love. We need community. We want to be understood and accepted for who we are.
2020, the pandemic year, offered me a gift I grabbed with both hands. I now know that nothing I do is optional or exchangeable. I write, coach, paint, play music, write songs, read the tarot, teach, guide people on their spiritual journey, and offer healing, especially through the practice of Reiki.
Having such varied interests confused me in the past, leading me to ask, What am I about? What is my calling, my purpose? And what am I to, literally, call myself?
The answer became clear in the past year. First and foremost, I'm a creative, an artist. In specific, I'm a writer. I've been at it since age eight and have never stopped. I've begun submitting, and have had some of my articles accepted for publication. This past year, it has also become clear what my subject is, an equally important insight.
My subject is the divine, God, universe, source, higher power. All these terms work. And to get even more granular, what I love most is writing about the divine experience. I have become comfortable saying publicly that I'm a mystic, that I have direct experiences of the divine, of God.
I didn't list mystic in the list of things I do because it's not something I "do." It's who I am. It's the center of my being, of my life and it's what I want to write about. And so I do. Simple.
My aim in my writing is to illustrate the divine experience so you, the reader, are able to recognize your own inner mystic in my words. So that you can remember your own connection with the divine. And if you already have that, then to be a fellow traveler, confirmant and affirmant. My aim is for my writing to support and nurture your inner mystic.
I also like to give pragmatic steps, tools and practices for achieving your spiritual goals where appropriate.
Here are some of my published articles:
Living Close to God
How to Attract Your Divine Lover
Saying Everything is Divine is a Hard Sell
I am that star
not because it outshines dimmer spheres –
and in so doing, earns a special place in
the celestial hierarchies –
but because it emits a constant
and enduring light
making visible the heavenly bodies
that spin on miraculous orbits
Now all the objects shine
and we do not ask
“Which was the first light?”
Instead, we ooh and ahh from
our collective brilliance
--Henry India Holden
About that bouquet of flowers
Recently, I posted on social media, requesting of people that they please stop “picking” flowers. “Picking” is a euphemism that hides the fact that what we're doing is separating them from their life-giving source. Flowers, like all of nature are living manifestations of the Divine and deserve to have their lives honored on their own terms, not as decorative objects in our homes..
I was blessed to get one response which was enough to carry on the conversations. The innocuous enough post informed me that the individual grows flowers for the garden as well as the house.
Upon reading these words, I immediately got a strange feeling in my gut and wrote back: "I've been wrestling with this for a while now, to understand myself not as the "actor upon" the living earth but as the "actor with." In that sense, when there are tulips in my garden, I see that it is the earth that has grown them. It is the flowers that have grown themselves. I've participated only in that I've put the bulbs into the ground and perhaps facilitated access to water. I'm striving for a meaningful humility by letting myself sense the flowers' sovereignty. Part of that respect is to refrain from breaking off their blossoms. That has led to my actually not in any way enjoying seeing broken living flower parts. I know with certainty they don't belong to me and I have no rights to their lives."
My conversation partner was kind enough in their response, calling mine an interesting perspective and reminding me that we eat plants and that life feeds on itself and is in a perpetual cycle of life and death. They also volunteered their view that flowers are nature’s way of expressing joy. They continued by suggesting that it makes no difference to flowers if we cut off their blooms.
I very much agreed with them that the reality of life as manifest in time and space is that it consumes itself in order to perpetuate itself, that life recreates itself from itself. It's a system as terrifying as it is ingenious.
However, to think of flowers as nature's expression of joy seemed truly anthropocentric, a perspective shaped purely by viewing the subject through the human lens. To me, flowers are flowers are flowers. And we, as humans, have a particular response to them. This response lives within us and is about us.
I answered: "I felt distressed by your saying that it makes no difference to the tulips if you cut their blossoms. How on earth do we know these things with such certainty? There is a considerable amount of respected research that points to that plants feel pain. We used to think that animals don't feel pain, either. This is where I feel compelled to search myself. Yes, I feel I have the right to eat the carrot to sustain my life and the carrot has the right to eat the microbes to sustain their life. But isn't that very different from taking life for purposes of decorating our homes? We can enjoy the flowers' decoration without having to separate them from their source of life by cutting them. I think in that sense, the human consciousness is still in a state of barbarism. Barbarism from its root, "to speak like a foreigner." We are foreigners to plants' lives."
I see this as being about more than a tulip blossom. Cutting blossoms off tulips speaks to how we conduct ourselves as a species in relationship with nature. The rest of nature can't check us (as evinced by climate change and mass extinctions). That’s why we have to cultivate the humility to check ourselves. That's such a journey.
My conversation partner suggested, perhaps in jest, that I put the question to the tulips in my garden directly.
I answered back that, yes, in fact I had. I wrote: "I’ve asked the flowers how they feel. I can tell you unequivocally, they do not want to be cut."
My friend ignored this bold assertion. But their final comment was generous. They, too, believe that Western culture needs to alter its relationship to nature. And they support me in doing what is right for me. In essence they told me, You do you.
I appreciate that. I appreciate the idea to agree to disagree, too. My only concern with that is that while I’m doing me and you’re doing you, more species go extinct, more CO2 enters the atmosphere, more plastic floats out into the ocean and all the rest.
Another way to say “You do you” is “Live and let live.” I think that’s the better motto for us to adopt. Let us live and let us let all the other species and the rest of the planet live, too.
Here is a link to a piece of research about plants possessing the ability to feel pain.
Your palms are sweaty. Your cheeks sting. There’s a ringing in your ears, and you might cry. Out of anger. Out of fear. Out of vexation. It doesn’t matter which because you’re not going to. You’re going to hold it together. You can do stoic when your back is up against the wall. When the boss gives you a dressing down in front of the whole committee. Or when your co-worker takes the credit for your idea the third time this month. You may even paste a smile on your face, as horrible as that’ll feel!
But that’s not how it has to be when you are confronted by a sticky situation at work. Or with your spouse, or that black-clad teenager in front of the fridge, drinking milk straight from the carton. There is help! A simple visualization that will effectively neutralize the threat. Because that’s what sends sweat to your palms, sets you heart beating and raises a blush on your face. To protect you, your inner threat department kicks into high gear when things go south.
Yet none of it is necessary. You’re simply in the grip of a distress pattern. Something your body’s sympathetic nervous system and your mind—specifically, your ego—have cooked up to help you cope. Someone else may react completely differently than you. They may act cool and collected and plot a nasty revenge. Or they may grow apathetic, or quit. But not you. Not with this tool in your back pocket. All you need to control the situation is this one mental exercise.
Here is what you do: Pick the day of the week, the time of day when you’re most able to relax (if need be, sit in your car). Sit and breathe quietly for a few moments. Then begin to visualize a fight scene that you’re observing from a ways off. Is it two knights galloping at each other, lances raised? A fist fight? Neighbors arguing over a fence? Whatever you come up with will work as long as it’s a fight. You don’t need to make up words but let it get a little heated to give it juice. Some shouting, raised fists, crossed arms, some dirt being kicked up in some eyes. This sets the scene for developing a script, so to speak, a conjuring that, when called up, will change how you feel and, therefore, how you react in a given situation. The purpose of the fight scene is to get you in touch with the particulars of how how you feel threatened, nervous or uncomfortable and what thoughts and feelings that, if you had them, would make the difference and let you stay grounded.
Now, that you have the scene to work off and are imagine watching it from a distance, imagine drawing nearer until you start to feel a uncomfortable. You be the judge of how uncomfortable. Ah. Very good. Just as you notice this discomfort, ask yourself, "What would make me feel safe?" and make that part of your script. Would you rather watch from the height of a tower, imagine a tower you beam up to? From behind a wall? Visualize a wall that does your bidding. From beneath an invisibility cloak? Let your imagination lead you. Let your innate desire inform you of what is right for you because what will make you feel comfortable will depend on your personality and life experience. Keep shifting where you are relative to the fight until you feel safe and in control. Whatever this place is, make it vivid. Then make a mental note because this is the first part of your script, what I call the Override Pattern because it overrides the behavioral pattern that you already have (shutting down, getting angry, apologetic, etc.).
If you think that’s a little weird, think about the scripts you already have. Don’t you imagine what you’ll say, what they’ll say? Don’t you have pretty predictable responses to certain situations. I, for example, tend to feel crushed when I’m criticized. Not very useful when it comes to using feedback to make my classes and services ever more effective. We all have our patterns or scripts. But those patterns are more like intrusive thoughts induced by stress. What I am suggesting is that you create an Override Pattern with intentionality. That you deploy it intentionally. But only after you’ve gotten it down cold!
And—this is important—you need a nice safe spot to develop your new Pattern because how you feel at the time you make it up will become a part of it. This is the case because your brain encodes memories of everything—words, visuals, actions, physical sensations, but especially emotional states; they are what gives your memories their juice. So it is essential that you are feeling good as you weave your story. This good feeling will become as important a part of it as the action that takes place which we'll talk about in a moment. Once you have the override, when your better half acts like a lesser half, or the customer service representative stonewalls, you'll no longer go into overdrive and yank up that blood pressure. Instead, you retain agency over your own experience. You could say, you cause your own experience by using your Pattern Override.
But it has to be solid, so practice visualizing it many times before you let it see action.
Now that you've created a safe space you need one more thing—something to neutralize the threat. I call it the antidote. For example, in my override pattern, I send down from my tower a dense cloud that envelopes the fighters. Neither can see the other so none of their punches land. And if that isn’t enough, I send roses down and make them circle around their heads, emitting such intoxicating fragrance that the fighting parties stumble about, stupefied. And if I still feel reactive, I envision heavy drops of rain falling on them, making them soggy so they fold down to the ground like paper dolls. Really, I hardly ever need to go there. This vision suits my character. I have an aggressive streak by nature but I believe in peace with all my heart so it wouldn’t do to imagine missiles or exploding heads. But that’s just me.
Once you start developing your pattern in your head, it will come to you what will suit. Don’t censor yourself, otherwise the imagery won’t be potent. And potency is an essential feature of this spell. It has to have depth and be true to you to elicit the empowering feelings that crowd out the ones you usually have. It’s a little like the idea of imagining everyone naked. Only much better because it is tailor-made to specifically help you handle conflict.
The last thing you need to know is that it will take about twenty-one days to solidify this spell (I prefer the term over the word “weapon”). That’s how human brains are built. It takes roughly that long to establish a neural network, which is what this is. The more vividly you imagine the scene: where you are that has you feeling safe, and the antidote you deploy, the more seamlessly it will replace the behavioral pattern—and its attendant feelings—that usually comes into play when you are confronted with conflict or other scary or uncomfortable situations.
Twenty-one days is quite the commitment. But it’s a twenty-one-day investment in yourself that will serve you a lifetime. Will you freak out, go numb, sputter, fall silent, be untrue to yourself, or say something you’ll regret, or worse, not say something and regret that? Or will you use your Pattern Overrider and remain calm, cool and collected. With just a hint of a smile playing on your lips that the other person isn’t sure they imagined or not. But this you can be sure of: they won’t imagine that they got the better of you, because they won’t. You’re now that powerful.
A word to those who don't visualize easily. You can create this as a spoken script. Write it all down. Read it back to yourself once a day for two weeks. Then summarize it in two or three sentences and memorize those sentences for a week. Instead of an Override Pattern, you'll have an Override Mantra.
Henry leads trainings and works with individuals, using various modalities to help them create the divine life that is truly possible.
Kintsugi, meaning “golden joinery,” is the 16th century Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by rejoining and mending the broken shards with precious metals.
As a philosophy, kintsugi is the principle of accepting change as an intrinsic part of life.
Applying kintsugi during this pandemic could sound glib. But, perhaps, if posited with sincerity and earnestness, it may offer something of a framework for encountering the temporary destruction of the life we are accustomed to.
If we examine kintsugi we see that it teaches us to go beyond accepting brokenness and mending it, beyond honoring or embracing it. It dares us to exalt the existence of a fracture by mending it with something valuable like gold and silver. It exalts the broken with a process that engages creativity, artistry, skill.
To make kintsugi useful to us, the first question we want to answer is, How do we develop these attributes: creativity, artistry, skill? After all, many of us say things like, I’m not an artist. I’m not the creative type. I don’t have the imagination.
But that’s just untrue. If you’ve ever had the desire to add a little bit of parsley as garnish, or cut a few carrot slices into the vegetable mix for “color,” you’ve met with the creative impulse. If you love and long for variety, that’s your invitation to artistry.
Think of a blue armchair on a blue rug. A blue pillow for the small of your back, and a blue throw rug for your knees or shoulders. Did you think, Too much blue! That’s your imagination! You “saw” the things I described and you wanted to change what you saw to be more pleasing to you. Well, that’s the impulse of artistry. You don’t have to “develop” these attributes, only the trust that you already possess them. And where skill is concerned, it is simply the evolution a process undergoes as a result of repetition.
The second question we want to answer is, What is that “something precious,” what is the "gold" with which we would exalt the problem?
It could ennobling it by honoring the experience. Giving the times we're in respect could be the gold because respect elevates. Applying love would be brilliant. Because, well, love. All these are healing agents. And, yet, they’re very different from exaltation.
To understand better, let’s look at what this word means. One of its definitions is “to praise.”
But how on earth could we ever praise this pandemic and the suffering it causes? It’s unimaginable. And yet, that is the spiritual concept of kintsugi.
Once the tea bowl is broken and rejoined with gold, it’s not only repaired, it’s more precious than before. In other words, it has been exalted.
Kintsugi doesn’t pretend the breakage isn’t there. It doesn’t say the breaking doesn’t matter or doesn’t do damage. It says nothing about whether one would have preferred the unbroken state. It only deals with the present reality: the broken pottery. Tthe pandemic.
We are felled by losing loved ones. We feel the fear these losses strike in our hearts. We despair in isolation. Lose our jobs, maybe our homes. This pandemic is a terrible thing, a catastrophe. We can meet it with resistance, denial, anger, fear which is only natural and an appropriate response to the enormity of the situation. And, additionally, we can meet it with kintsugi.
We can praise that people are devising ways to help each other, show love and appreciation while still “social distancing.” Science across the globe is working together to develop vaccines. There is a cathedral quiet with so few cars on the road.
We can praise that nature is bouncing back from the effects of human activity at an astonishing rate. Wildlife is resurging. Skies are bluer.
We can allow that this can also be a time of (however forced) rest. A time to reflect, learn a language, bake, garden, develop a new hobby, spend more time with the children, with your partner. Draw up plans to realize a dream that’s been on the back burner. Read, paint, share your activities on social media. It’s not an overstatement to say that this is a time of profound breakdown. And it can also become a time of breakthrough. These are the things we can recognize as parts of the pandemic and praise them as such. That is kintsugi.
The pandemic is all around us, unavoidable and undeniable, exacting a heavy toll. We don’t know how bad it might get or how long it will last. That’s all the more reason to reach for spiritual means that can keep us grounded and, thus, help mitigate the trauma.
Kintsugi uses three approaches from which we can learn
Putting broken pieces together to fit as they did before and using gold to hold them to each other. This is a method if we still have all we need but feel the stress and fracturing the pandemic is causing.
Replacing a missing piece with gold. This approach is for those who have lost a job, relationship, or community, leaving a hole. This is the method of reaching out and filling the hole with the love from friends, family, loved ones, through creative activities, or by offering our own helping hand.
Creating a patchwork by replacing a missing piece with an entirely different fragment and then golding it in. This approach is for those who have lost someone to the Coronavirus. We ask for support from loves ones, a therapist, minister, spiritual guide. This process is the most difficult and prolonged. Finding the right piece to fill in the hole is complex. And it is never filled completely. The people we love are irreplaceable. And that's as it should be. Applying kintsugi, we connect with what we can praise--such as a shared past, memories, the love we felt and feel..
Kintsugi offers that we can recognize our suffering and our joys as a part of the whole. It is an imperfect tool for meeting this moment, these experiences. An imperfect tool, creating imperfect solutions and results. Kintsugi suggests that we allow these imperfections.
Recorded a Grounding Meditation as a tool for getting and staying calm during this pandemic.
Update on 4/18/2021: Here is the link.
Today, we quarantined all the non perishable foods we stocked up on (not going too crazy). This is just in case someone sneezed or coughed on the bags in the chips isle. We loaded everything into rubber tubs with lids and stacked them in the shed with a retrieve-by-date sticky note.
Steven wears a N99 respirator when he goes out and doubled-up disposable gloves. Did you know that they usually have tiny holes?
It's kind of an adventure but what makes it hard is that you have to be so mindful of where and what you touch. The mask redirects the breath and fogs up the glasses. Don't touch those glasses! And it gets itchy and sweaty under the mask. Don't scratch that itchy nose! Then the car door. Did I wipe that yet with the mango-scented disinfectant wipes? The hatch in the back, did I touch that with the gloves on or with the gloves off? So, that's what Steven goes through. When he gets home, we work together on neutralizing the threat that every little thing brought in from outside our hermetically sealed castle represents. We laugh. But we're also sniping and misinterpreting each other and getting our feelings hurt and apologizing a lot. There's a lot of stress from the fear of catching the virus. I'm in the high-risk group. So, it's not quite a laughing matter.
I'm learning a lot about Zoom.
But because the challenges presented by the Coronavirus quarantine are so unprecedented, I want to stay very open to listening and learning and exploring and thinking in terms of possibilities, rather than wanting exact matches for my expectations.
I guess the now-about watch word today is FLEXIBILITY.
We have some bright yellow daffodils in the backyard right now. Nothing fancy. But it says, YES, it's spring!
Took a drive around today. Cars are parked in front of most homes. People are staying in or working from home, practicing social distancing, including Steven and I.
We had a lot planned for this month and through the summer.
Steven was going to show his art at Pike Place Market.
Like last year, I was going to have a booth at Emerald Spiral, the largest metaphysical expo in the Puget Sound area, offering Tarot coaching and counseling.
Fremont Sunday Market, my weekly "ministry" is closed for now.
BEPC Expo will probably have to be cancelled or postponed.
The leadership training I was about to finish up has been temporarily suspended.
But that is giving me the free time to participate in MeWe's online metaphysical fairs this month through May.
I'll be doing readings, participate in panels with a dozen other metaphysicians, and I'll be giving a talk each month, too. These online fairs give me a chance to listen to other healers do their thing. It's a rainbow of different kinds of expressions!
Steven and I are also looking at some other ideas of how to bring in revenue. Obviously, many doors have closed. I prefer to read this moment as one of many more doors opening. Can't wait to step through them and create new possibilities!
EP 15 - Final Episode - Podcast -The Badass Challenge - What Do You Do With The Shame (and other stuff that holds you back)?
Listen to the podcast
Read the Blog
What To Do With Shame:
Reconciling badasserie* with feelings of shame
*Badass definition: Being able to step into your power so fully that you are able to create the life you want to live.
Last Week’s Tools:
How did you do with last week's assigment? It made a huge difference for me to cut off the negative input. I feel more spacious and have more energy. As to motivating videos, so far I like Luvvie Ajayi, Zain Asher, and Ami Morin (there is also a link to a massively badass composer and musician (a 14 year of girl!) at the bottom of the blog). Asking “what is the badass move?” slowed down a bit this week. I think I overdid it before and have now found balance. It’s not good to use anything to excess. Before you know it, it becomes a way to oppress yourself, such as: “you must always be badass” and “not being a badass is a fail,” instead of calling upon it like a celebrated super power--only as needed.
I’m blown away by how much shame I'm discovering I have. In this badass training, everything is foaming up to the surface. Yay and Yikes!
It seems, if you want to be a badass and if shame is located in the space where courage tries to be, shame’s going to show up like an invisible ink signature held over a candle flame.
Earlier, while I was working on a song, I felt shame over the quality of my signing voice because it wasn’t yet warmed up. Shame at not playing guitar like guitar god, Mimi Fox. Shame that I gave my chance at stardom away when I moved to the States. Shame makes that mean “I could have been somebody.” As if I’m not now. As if fame made you into “somebody.”
Everybody matters equally. And yet, I have so much shame, I ache with it. I feel shame for loving you, dear reader. For loving you for no other reason than that you’re in the world. Shame says I should have a better, more specific reason and because I don’t, I’m odd. And that apparently is something to be ashamed of.
I feel shame at feeling shame. I feel ashamed to say that I have talks with God. I feel shame that you must be thinking I’m a noo-noo head.
But I’m not too ashamed to say these things. All the shame in the world can’t stop them from coming out. Because holding in one’s truth is worse than feeling shame. The badass training makes is easier to look at this feeling. Easier to name it. And now that I have, I feel I can let go of the armor I’ve put around it.
Ahhh. That’s lighter. Suddenly, there’s more bandwidth to be thinking about you instead about my shame. How are you? What’s happening in your world right now? Where are you—in your heart, in your head? In someone’s arms? Protected and cared for and happy? Or are you alone, filled with secret sorrows? Or being self-critical? We all are, aren’t we? But we’re also lovely. You are lovely. Lovely—isn’t it odd that the term is reserved only for AFAB people, for people assigned female at birth. Why? Everyone has some kind of loveliness about them. It’s not a matter of gender. There’s a whole other can of worms right there! All that shame around not being “normal” and fitting into the two, all too restrictive, gender buckets. I know for a fact, because I have seen it with my own eyes that, that however you identify, you are lovely and you are beautiful.
The great 19th Century French writer, Stendhal (pron.: stoñdull), described beauty as “la promesse de bonheur,” the promise of happiness.
I believe that seeing beauty is part of happiness because it is a result of reverence. Of holding something or someone as sacred. Beauty, Thomas Moore showed in his book, The Soul of Sex, is the province of the soul. I know it as one of the gateways that open a connection with the divine, such as when I see a beautiful tree or the majestic Olymics across the water. For me to come right out and say it like that is a seriously badass thing to do because concern that speaking about my spiritual beliefs would be alienating to you wants to hold me back. You feeling alienated by me would make me feel ashamed. And so the list goes on. I may never stop feeling shame, but badass training says, That’s OK. Maybe there’s nothing to do with shame, per se. Being badass doesn’t seem to do away with it, but I think it allows you to move forward even in its presence.
As promised the link to the most badass musician I’ve ever come across. She is the composer as well as the pianistr. Nothing short of amazing: 14 year old Alma Deutscher.
Final week’s work in bullets:
Thank you so much for reading. I say, I love you, with whatever shame I feel and that's OK. Nothing other to do about it but hold space with kindness and compassion.
This is the final episode in this series. I hope it's made a difference. I know it has for me. Facing shame has been so freeing. I hope you've found something to let go of that's freed you too.
Wherever you are on your badass journey, I know you are whole and wise and divine, perfect exactly as you are and as you are not right now. Bye for now.
Listen to the podcast
Read the blog
Last Week’s Tools:
Thanks for joining me for episode 14 in the 2019 badass challenge.
Last’s week’s homework was trying the Nice Fast.
How’d it go?
I was surprised to find that I never did slip back into my old nicey-nice and so took the week off. OK, that’s not true.
I stayed in badass training by doing two entirely new things and one not-so-new thing that I haven’t yet made an official part of the tool set but will today.
First, I’ve stopped reading and listening to the “news.” Cold turkey.
I’ve unplugged for this one reason: Because all the bad news has a way of making you feel a combination of helplessness, hopelessness and rage and that interferes with your badass training.
The solution has been to subscribe to a number of motivational YouTube channels. There’s a list of my Top 3 at the bottom (There’s a list of my Top 10 on the blog version of today’s podcast.)
These videos are kind of like an alcohol spritz for the mold of negativity that wants to form around the edges of my mind like the pink slime that grows in the crevices of your filtered water jug . Rows and rows of little spores, holding each other’s little spore hands, sway and whine, “This is so hard.” “What if nobody will hire my services?” “What if they move my emails straight to the trash folder?” “What if I can’t get past the gate keepers and my calls won’t be returned.” It’s a chorus of persistent voices.
I find that the motivational videos are great at drowning them out! And I need that because I wake up in the morning and everything is already too much. Where to even start?! Now I know where! I grab my phone, open my YouTube app, type in “motivation” and start scrolling. One video that talks about strength of mind I like especially. It suggests that all the little moments of negativity will add up real quick and slime me. Just like the pink spores. You can’t see them, can’t see them, can’t see them and then, having reached critical mass, all of a sudden, there they are! Individually, these tiny little spore bodies don’t have any impact; they’re unimportant. But when enough have accumulated, they’re disgusting and you know you’ll have to get out the scrubby right then and there and follow up with the alcohol spritz from good measure! Which is going to be part of this week’s tools as follows:
This week’s badass challenge is to take your devices and scrub them of apps and notifications, podcasts, newsletters, and what not, that tell you in smart prose why and how the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Replace them with some of the thousands of motivational, educational, uplifting and inspiring contents, such as videos, podcasts, newsletters, etc., that can fill your heart with hope and encouragement, ideas, suggestions, stories and data that fire your imagination and build your confidence. Interestingly, I bet you’ll find that they’ll equipped you so you can go out into the world and more easily do things that help make it better than it is now.
Now to the tool I’m officially adding to the tools set: It’s a habit that just came about by itself. In certain situations (you’ll know them when you’re in them) ask, “What is the badass move here?” Additionally, make it a habit to identify and call out when something isn’t. For example, “It’s already Friday afternoon. I’ll put this call off till Monday,” is not badass and I would call that out as such. Then I’ll ask, “What is the badass move?” If it’s going on 5 o’clock and it’s actually too late to get that call in, I would set an alarm for Monday, and include the number to dial to remove even the smallest obstacle. Identifying and removing the obstacles you can do something about it always badass! And I know you can do it because I know we were all born as badasses. We had the world by the tail (before they snipped it off). Now, we just have to build our own tails and plug straight into the juice of life!
To do so, here are this week’s work in bullets:
Thank you so much for listening. I love you. Wherever you are on your badass journey, I know you are whole and wise and divine, perfect as you are and as you are not this very minute. Bye for now.
Listen to the podcast
Read the blog
The Nice Fast
Last Week’s Tools:
Part One of the Homework
Everything has a cost to it. It's important to know what it is and embrace it so it doesn't derail your efforts.
Here's what I saw this week: We’ve heard that crises can lead to transformation. But what we don’t often hear about is that transformation can cause a crisis. The reason being that when we enter a time of deep change, stuff we managed by ignoring or tolerating it gets really in your face. In my case that looked like this: I noticed how often I use retail therapy to make myself feel better, particularly when I feel challenged. Small rewards for a few dollars at a time sounds like a good solution but the truth is that I’m “medicating” instead of solving whatever challenge I’m facing. As long as I wasn’t aiming to be badass as defined by the 2019 Badass challenge which calls for you to step so fully into your power that you can create the exact life you want to live, this was a fine arrangement. But now I feel a badass doesn’t soothe or gloss over problems, they solve them!
Some questions you might find helpful: What things are you glossing over? What crutches do you cling to instead of tackling whatever messes with your life?
Part Two of the Homework
The two big steps for me were to 1) stop fudging or making excuses for not keeping an explicit or implicit promise and 2) to step back from being overly ambitions in order to be good enough and worthy. Did I really have to make it "Pick three items?" One item seems a fine beginning and leaves more time and mental and emotional bandwidth for the third part of the homework which was self-care.
Questions you might find helpful: Where do you make excuses, for yourself or others? Where are you over or under ambitious?
Part Three of the Homework
How are you doing with self-care? Are you prioritize your own wellbeing?
I hope you are because that’s part of being a badass. And if you aren’t, there’s always this coming week. It’s more a matter of practicing than of getting it right. The former is a “process,” the latter is a “goal.” Remember we talked about that in a previous podcast--becoming a badass is a process not the reaching of a goal. I say that because there’s not some point in the future from when on you’re a badass forevermore. Life always has more challenges and opportunities in store. You never stop growing and evolving and whatever being a badass means to you also keeps evolving.
I gave a tarot reading to a client yesterday which reminded me of a huge obstacle to being a badass: The need to be liked. I don’t think that requires a lot of explanation. Obviously if you need to be liked you’ll have to compromise in all kinds of ways. You might hold back, play small, and go along to get along. Not very badass.
Here is what you can do about it: Go on a Nice Fast
How the Nice Fast Works
The times you catch yourself being nice, acquiescing, agreeing, giving in, or staying quiet, ask yourself if you are doing it for brownie points or to avoid conflict and if deep inside you wish you had the courage to say or do something. Awesome! This is your golden opportunity for the Nice Fast: Just don’t be nice. What??!! You might think: How can I not be nice? People expect me to be nice! I gotta be nice! Not if it means not being true to yourself. I did a Nice Fast in the mid 2000’s and it was an absolute eye-opener! There was no fall-out. On the contrary. Suddenly, people were offering to do all kinds of emotional labor for me to make me feel better so I'd be nice again. Wow! It was weird. And uncomfortable. I expected to be hated. But, instead, I was more liked because people experienced me as more authentic.
If you decide to do the Nice Fast, obviously, you'll want to use your judgment: Don’t tell your boss to shove off unless you’ve got a better job lined up. Badasses are not consumed with the need to be liked but they can still be diplomatic.
This coming week’s work in bullets:
Thank you so much for reading. I love you. Wherever you are on your badass journey, I know you are whole and wise and divine, perfect as you are and as you are not this very minute. Bye for now.
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A Chosen Challenge Can Still Hurt
Last Week’s Tools:
Everything went exceedingly well this week until I really engaged in seeking out some more badass heroes. Total crisis ensued. These people achieved phenomenal accomplishments by twenty, thirty, forty years of age. I’m sixty-one, soon to be sixty-two and what have I got to show for?!
Instead of being inspired, reading about these magnificent individuals made me feel like an abject loser! I mean, some of these people had the time to do amazing things and die young! I was processing so heavily, at one point, I walked out of a grocery store with my phone and keys left on the counter. I forgot a location for a meeting fifteen minutes after getting off the phone. Reading up on these amazing people, I compared my life to theirs (though I know better) and became utterly discombobulated trying to come to terms with the gap between my life ambitions and my actual accomplishments. And it’s getting late in the day, so to speak. I asked myself, What is realistic now? Do I have to adjust just how far I can go in becoming a badass? Will I ever be one? Steven reminded me, “If you didn’t have to face the shadow side of things, there wouldn’t be much of a “challenge” in the 2019 Badass Challenge.” Urch! So true. I think of all of us. We each faces different things. For me, it’s how much, or little I’ve accomplished compared to what I’d envisioned for my life.
What are your challenges?
Have you forgotten (or dismissed) what you once dreamed of? Do you feel you need to be “practical?”
In my tarot readings this past Sunday, four out of my ten clients had that exact issue.
It looked like this: “I don’t know what my purpose is.” Some cried as they said this. Some stared stoically down onto the tarot cards laid out before them.
Thankfully, I’m trained as a life coach and my specialty is self-empowerment. In less than 30 minutes, each of them discovered that what happened is that they had already eliminated from the list of choices what they wanted to do with their lives. Meaning that among what was left, no matter how long the list was, nothing held meaning. That’s only right because the one thing that was meaningful was no longer on the list.
Each of them had to face they took their dream off the list because it either didn’t promise financial security unless they made something extraordinary happen with it (like writing a best-seller), or because it could possibly make them look like a fool (involving metaphysics), or it would go against family wishes, or require changing their major to train for in what they really wanted to do in life (to illustrate, something like switching from finance to psychology). For each, the issue wasn’t that they couldn’t find their purpose. The issue was that they had denied their calling. What they needed was to become more badass, so they could tackle their obstacles and believe they could make their dream come true.
As I did this week’s homework, each person I picked as a hero did that. Whereas, I didn’t. I identified my dream to teach (specifically personal growth) in 2006. I zeroed in on a larger dream—to facilitate people’s self-empowerment— two years ago. And last year, I recognized the overarching dream within which these two smaller ones are embedded as the passion to help heal the separation in the world. When I assess where I am today, it’s self-evident that I have not stepped up.
That’s why I need the Badass Challenge. I say 2019 is my “do or die” year, my “make it or break” it year. The pressure I am putting myself under is huge. I could not do it without this podcast. I would simply black out. In other words, I’d go unconscious, get distracted and forget about what I’m trying to do.
Maybe things are not as extreme for you. If not, then by taking up the challenge, you’re getting a head-start. I’m so proud of you!!
This coming week’s work in bullets:
That this week hurt so much makes me all the more determined to succeed. So, this week’s actionable steps are:
Thank you so much for reading. I love you. No matter how challenged I feel, I remember that you and I are whole and wise and divine, perfect as we are, right now, and as we are not, right now. Bye for now.
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A Letter to My Body
Note: As part of my practice for this past week of expanding my tenderly loving relationship with my body, I wrote it a love letter. You can use it as a jumping-off point for your own love letter to yourself.
My dear Body,
I’m sorry. I feel that’s where this has to start. Even before any explanation of what I’m sorry for.
I’m so sorry.
I told you that the other night, but I know I have to tell you again because I’ve neglected you for so long and so casually. That’s not OK. That’s not what friends do. You haven’t been important to me. I’ve treated you like you’re nothing more than an extension of me without your own needs or rights, without your own story or life. It hasn’t helped that lots of people around us share this understanding of you. They don’t consider your autonomy a thing. And even though I do, I find it hard to remember to think in such terms.
I’m just not used to it, you see. Of course, you do. You see everything. You’re always there. It’s easy to overlook you, to use you and to think of you purely as a utility, of what you can do for me. And even the things I do for you, I think of in terms of how they will serve me later, like walking you around or taking you to the gym. Sigh. I’m determined to do better.
The past two days have proven, yet again, that this is the right path. Since I started to hear you with tenderness when you indicate what does and doesn't feel right to you, since I’ve resumed my old habit of telling you that I love you, I’m suddenly happy again. It’s that happiness I cherish so much that’s caused by the simple fact that you and I are alive.
I’m so grateful to you. I’ve been putting you under a lot of stress over the past two years. The least I can do is to love and appreciate you. And make a habit of asking you what you want. I must remember to keep this going because, historically, you will put up with almost anything and won’t remind me, except to get sick now and then when I run you low.
Thank you for carrying me, for homing me, for caring for me, for living this life with me. I couldn’t do it without you.
Thank you for being my beautiful loving body.
I love you.
No, you haven't been banned. Facebook is down. You can scroll, but if you can't post, that's the reason. This is a fantastic opportunity to do a little reading or singing along with a song on YouTube, or throw the chew toy for your dog! Or take a little walk around outside and practice your whistling.
You can say, I've been waiting for a chance to spend a moment with this; this works to my advantage! This works in my favor!
That's the Badass Move!
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Don't Let Anybody Tell You
Last Week’s Tools:
It's been an amazing week. Practicing unashamed tenderness toward myself has elevated my mood and made me more resilient and safe in my body. Have you noticed it, too? If not that, what difference has practicing badass love for your wonderful body made in your life?
Now, after an additional week of developing that loving feeling for the bodies—I hope you’ve been kissing your own hands and feet—it’s time to move to the next steps.
But before we do, let me share something that showed me how well the 2019 badass challenge is working on me.
A few nights ago, laying in bed—yes, that’s where I do most of my reading—an essay on the New York Times website grabbed my attention. It started with the following sentence, “Maybe because we’re living in a dystopia…”
My eyes followed right along as the sentence went on. But I noticed I wasn’t absorbing what else was in it. Instead, my brain hollered, Wait a minute! Wait! It was like a car that keeps going after it went bumpety bump over something lying in the road, then suddenly hits the brakes so hard, the rear end comes up. Then it lays down rubber a it speeds in reverse to have a look.
My brain wanted to know, What did I just run over? “Because we’re living in dystopia…” After reading this a second time, my brain went, Oh, so it’s come to that; I didn’t realize things have gotten this bad. But then it said, Hell f****** no. Maybe this is the view from American. Maybe, right now the US feels dystopian. But, in reality, things are looking up! For example, 194 of the 195 nations of this little blue world have signed on to the Paris Climate Accord to avert the climatocalypse. The one holdout, Number 195, is the United States. Maybe that’s part of why the view from here can look dystopian right now. And maybe also because healthcare isn’t a basic feature in this country. But it is in many, many other nations. The statistician, Hans Rosling – I wrote about his book, Factfulness here – gave us hundreds of charts, wrote books, gave TED talks in which he showed us all the ways in which the world relentlessly keeps getting better. You can read about it here, here, here, and here, and here, and here. And that’s just for starters!
This is why I not only refuse but refute the dystopian world view.
To you, dear reader, I say, if this perspective, which is becoming more widespread, has wiggling its way into your head, shake it out! Don’t let anyone pull that softly sad blanket over your head. No matter how romantically melancholy it is, it’s not designed to comfort you. It’s meant to hold you in place the better to pummel you with horror stories of the world gone grievously mad. So, shake yourself awake and free! Throw that blanket off!
Here is a great way you can escape the nasty blanket party: Read news from other countries and use the translate function by putting your mouse anywhere on the page, right-click and scroll down to "translate this page" (on a PC). Here are some great resources from around the world: Germany, France, Great Britain, Israel, Middle East, India, Russia, China
I wanted to share the above story with you because, as I notice my reaction, I realized, hold up, I’m being a badass right now! I’m not letting this statement slide. I'm not letting it bring me down while I’m not looking. In the past, I’ve sometimes deferred to institutions and individuals I admire. OK, not just sometimes. But since the start of the badass challenge, I’m better at resisting catastrophizing, my own and others’. I'm more discerning and selective as to what I'll internalize.
What have you noticed that has change for you since the Challenge began in January?
Starting next week, I’m upping the ante. I think I'm ready. Are you with me? Let’s do some really scary s***! The stuff we don't want to do but have to if we want to step into our power so fully that we create the lives we want to live, the goal of the 2019 Badass Challenge. (By the way, I plan to apologize for all the cursing if I see in the future that that was faux-badasserie posturing. Right now, it feels real and authentic.)
In conclusion, we can't help but internalize some (or a lot) of what the world around us presents to us. But we can balance it and maybe neutralize it by actively seeking out what we want to have an influence on us. For that purpose, this week, I am seeking out idols to inspire me with their badasserie. It's going to be an easy job. Getting all involved in badasserie, I learn about new badasses every day, it seems like.
This coming week’s work in bullets:
Here are three new ones to inspire me like crazy this week with their virtuosity. All of them drummers: Cora Dunham, Terri Lyne Carrington & Nikki Glaspie – That video begins with an insight-giving chat between the two monumental drummers. Then they play together on a beautiful song, starting at 9:33. And here is Nikki, nothing but highlights. And Carrington again. OMG! Best drummer I’ve ever watched.
Now go and find a badass or several for yourself this week.
Thank you so much for reading. I love you. No matter what's going on inside of me, in my life and in the world, I believe you are whole and wise and, because I am so inclined, divine, perfect as you are, right now, and as you are not, right now. Bye for now.
Henry India Holden
I write about the divineness of life in its many forms. Writer, artist, life coach, spiritual tarot guide. Nonbinary.