You are not your job. You are not your degree, your awards, your mortgage or your bank balance. You are not your sexiness, your desirability. You are not your accolades or your lack of them. You are a soul. Like everyone.
All of this will go away.
Sometimes you’re the pretty one. Sometimes you’re the wretch. Sometimes everyone wants to hear your story. Sometimes you watch from the corner as another person breathes all the air in the room.
It’s okay to take up space. You have permission. It’s okay to hang back when you have little to say. You have permission.
Your history is beautiful. Your bad choices are beautiful. Your fucked up relationships and demeaning jobs and years of lethargy and sucked-dry energy and fruitless endeavors are the scraps of a vast and incredible art installation. Go make it.
Your years were not wasted; you are not old. Time is a construct. Go into the woods and sit very still in a bed of herbage, beneath a canopy of green, and watch how the light streams through the trees. See how Nature connects effortlessly to its Source. As we do. As we all do.
Pay attention to the connectedness, and bring it home with you. Keep it as long as you can. When your well runs dry, go back.
Practice compassion. And remind yourself that a practice is just that; it is not mastery. Forgive yourself when you yell your head off. Forgive your friends when they ask too much of you, forgive your spouse when they aren’t considerate, forgive your parents for all the ways they messed you up, forgive your past and its motley cast of characters. Forgive the teachers who didn’t believe in you, forgive your mean peers and their condescension, forgive the person who broke your heart and gave it back in ruins.
Anger makes you sick. It sucks all of your wellbeing into its red-hot vortex in which lives a wish to change something that can never be changed. Preserve your energy. Use it to heal yourself. Then use it to heal someone else.
You’re doing fine. Measuring yourself by a human yardstick ensures you’ll always feel less than. Your spirit longs to expand. So let it. Make your art, dance in the kitchen, tell people what they mean to you, sing louder, go to concerts, spend more time in places that resonate with your heart, exercise, dress how you want, stay in when you want to stay in, go out when you want to go out, celebrate.
Here’s a secret to happiness: celebrate the small stuff. Later, you’ll look back and realize it was the big stuff. Celebrate finishing the poem, celebrate lightning bug season, celebrate Wednesdays, birthdays of pets, storms and fireplaces and slippers and good books. Celebrate the conversations that make your body hum. Celebrate falling apart.
Endings are beginnings, after all.
When you find yourself stuck in a bad place, breathe life into yourself and move. Call on the Divine. Call on your people. Call on your inner wisdom. Move. Trudge. Imp. Swim. Fly.
Your wings are so powerful. Remember when you were little, the places they took you. Remember your imaginings, your grand dreams, your belief in magic, the lush overflowing river of your glee. Remember your imaginary friends and your bedtime prayers and storybook Vikings and Angels. What happened?
You forgot. We all forget. We drink a potion and shrink ourselves to get through the tiny door. Or, worse, we’re told lies about our powerlessness and grow up matching our sense of self to those lies, scouting around for irrevocable proof of our worthlessness and attaching ourselves to people who support our playing small.
Grow. Read. Get lost. Go on an adventure. You’re not wasting time. Bring your kids. Make it cheap. You need less than you think.
Sometimes you’ll lie awake and think of all the things you wish you’d said. Sometimes it’s too late to say them without big consequences. Sometimes it’s too late, period. Write letters. Write poems. Make up stories. Go for a run and think. Say it out loud to an empty room. Vow to tell your whole truth from now on. Forgive yourself. Carry your truth around like a jewel. Use it when you need to. Look at it sometimes, just because it’s so stunning and precious.
We all do the best we can. Stop condemning other people for their choices. It’s the key to being able to live gracefully with your own.
Tell your story. Be vulnerable. You’re allowed to be scared to death, but also to be courageous and bold and shameless. Permission comes from the Beyond, not from another human being who is just as scared and flawed as you. Even if that person is your parent, your boss, your elder. Stop asking to be validated, and do the damn thing. God, spirit, the Universe is your authority. There are no rules you need to live by. There was poetry before publishing houses, music before record labels, parenting before after- school activities, great cooking before restaurants, connection before Facebook.
Whatever you’re doing—innovative or redundant, exciting or mundane—do it with all the love you can muster. Love for your life, for their time, for the world’s endless generosity. There can be no gift without love. If you don’t feel love, step back. Wait. Don’t make a move without it.
Do not proceed out of obligation or out of an egotistical need to prove something. Your project, your endeavor, your favor, your art, won’t work. Love works. Cultivate your inner landscape first. Everything else will come in due time. The soil must be right for the seed. The seed must be planted before the flower can grow. A lot of work is done underground before even the slightest spring of growth appears above.
You’re where you need to be. It isn’t too late. Every morning is a fresh possibility. Wake up and stretch and practice gratitude and drink your favorite tea and declare your absolute oneness with the Universe. You are worthy of its support. You are a wave in the ocean of the Divine. You cannot be separated from your true Source. When you feel washed up, fold back in. Become, again and again and again. Remember your wings. They can take you anywhere. You don’t even need to leave the room.
And when you find a piece of wisdom, of truth, of succor or sustenance, something you wish someone would have said to you—don’t keep it to yourself. Don’t think you’re not good enough or wise enough or accomplished enough to share it. You are divinely perfect. Say it. Say it to all of us, in the way that only you can. And we will be better for it, and all of our lights will shine a little brighter, and we will all be smitten with your contribution to us on the inner path to a more luminous world.