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My Summer Jump! Coaching Group has made the JUMP!!! Woo Hoo!!!

This week we focus on what comes after the jump, making a graceful exit. It’s in this liminal space – between no longer and not yet – where self-love, self-acceptance and self-forgiveness is most critical.

And with the death of Robin Williams last week reverberating around the world, there’s no better way we can honor his passing than to reach out in connection, slow down to take the time and space we need for processing, and create practices for falling in love with ourselves and honoring our self-care.We made the Jump!

This past Friday was gorgeous and sunny Boulder, as usual. At 4pm, after my last coaching client of the day, I took a moment to check in and see what I wanted to do. I had been going so hard and so fast for days…weeks…months…years really. Even with having built in more “me” time, regularly running, hiking, reading and writing, what I discovered was that more than anything else in that moment, I just wanted to lay on my bed.

I had never ever allowed myself to lie down in the middle of the day. Actually I had never even allowed myself to want to do such an irresponsible, lazy thing! But, thanks to all the work I’ve done around owning the qualities in myself that I had previously rejected and projected out onto others, on Friday my proudly irresponsible lazy self curled up on my comfy bed and put on a movie. In the middle of the afternoon. In minutes I was bawling my eyes out. When the movie ended, I was a little hungry so made myself some dinner and then settled back in and put on another movie. Soon I was crying again. And then I did the unthinkable! I put on a third movie! I can’t even believe I’m telling you this! And yes, again, waterworks!

What I began to realize that so many incredible opportunities were rapidly presenting themselves to me lately. So much good. My cup runneth over. And so much change too. I desperately needed a self-induced crash so that something else wouldn’t come along and crash me unexpectedly. I also needed the purge, the release, and the replenishing that can only come from catharsis. I went to sleep with gratitude for listening to my heart and allowing myself to have exactly what I most desired. No guilt, no shame, no resistance, only sweet surrender. The graceful exit. The gateway to rejeuvenation.

Just as we honored our resistance a few steps ago, we must also take the time to honor all that has brought us to this very moment. I would never have become the person I am today without every single one of the experiences I’ve had. Even – perhaps especially – the most difficult ones. If my now ex-husband hadn’t ever read my journals, I have no doubt that I would have stayed in my marriage – sleepwalking through my old life, silently giving my power away, trying to buy love in any way possible. I wouldn’t have published two books, I wouldn’t be a Certified Integrative Coach with a vibrant practice in service of guiding others to live in alignment with their truth, I wouldn’t be sharing my story on stage before thousands as a beacon for others to hone and own the courage and strength it takes to propel themselves powerfully forward in their lives, and I most certainly wouldn’t be leaving my day job at Hay House to venture out on my own! That original journal-reading crisis opened the door to everything else that has happened since, most of which has been wonderful beyond anything I could ever have imagined. Including falling in love, and then ultimately leaving still in love, when we both knew it was the only way for each of us to honor our truths.

Sometimes the emotions are overwhelming. The grief can be intense. We may know it isn’t about wanting to go back to our old selves, yet it can still be confusing.

By embracing the grief we discover that when we allow the visceral reminders to be present, we can more easily move through the emotions and emerge without fighting with them. When we fight, on the other hand, the feelings seem to linger and fester. It takes much more work to hold our painful emotions at bay than it does to let them flow. It’s the “core dump” of emotions that allows us to transition.

It’s during the transitional, liminal space of the graceful exit that we detach from the old and cross the threshold into our new worlds, even if we haven’t yet fully made sense of everything that got us here. This period of time might feel like the void, but it’s allowing us to digest and integrate as we adjust to all that has happened, as well as what we desire to invite in.

This work of exiting, integrating, and entering by jumping again and again into the new is an integral part of the process. One jump down…many more to go…

Let Your Body Be the Barometer of Your Truth

“Truth is visceral. You can feel it in your bones….in the core of your being, it is there.”

Last week, thirteen extremely brave women embarked on a journey of courage and truth together. On Tuesday, June 10th, my Summer 2014 Jump! Coaching Group Program began with the first step toward a new life, admitting what they already know.Jump! Coaching Group Step One

Our safe container – a learning laboratory of commitment, support and accountability – was instantly created as each woman shared her specific desire to change. Such strength showed by sharing out loud what’s screaming inside our hearts, demanding to be heard. We presenced our challenges and objectives while invoking the healing and hope for the lives longing to be lived …the lives awaiting us all on the other side of the work we’ll be doing together over these 12 weeks.

In our first session together, we learned about the lies we tell ourselves and walked through what happens when we deny, avoid, or minimize the truth. We discussed survival strategies and our failed attempts at rationalization, justification and compartmentalization.

We confirmed that everyone has things we feel we need to hide in order to feel loved and accepted, and explored the ways in which the mind buries but the body never lies. “Let your body be the barometer of your truth,” I said. “Truth is visceral. You can feel it in your bones….in the core of your being, it is there.” By going back in time to the original experience of when our shadow beliefs and underlying commitments were born, we can clearly see the constellation of relationships and events that consistently play out in our adult lives. The feelings and physical sensations linked to that time also help us understand the core beliefs we have that are shaping our current choices and outcomes.

My group of summer jumpers is showing up to play full out, willingly examining what they’re most committed to deep inside. All week long we’ve been sharing actively on our private Facebook page, taking full advantage of this rare opportunity to seek guaranteed support, celebrate one another, acknowledge ourselves, and nurture relationships that will inspire transparency and trust to permeate throughout the rest of their lives.

We have launched off step one, journeying toward the Jump into the truth of the lives we want to live…and there’s no turning back now! I applaud each of these brave women as they take the important steps – inch-by-inch – to dissolving past patterns, habits and behaviors; reframing old disempowering limiting beliefs into new empowering ones, and making lasting change!

wholeness

heart puzzle

As I prepare to embark on the final module of my groundbreaking Breakthrough Shadow Coaching Training Program I find myself thinking a lot about wholeness, since it’s the very definition of integrity. And how we’re out of integrity as soon as we begin to separate from ourselves, disowning the parts that we can’t be with. I keep visualizing myself as a puzzle with pieces I’ve pushed out that I’m now re-integrating. And, as always, I’m deeply grateful for my dear friend and mentor Debbie Ford and for the weekend that changed my life.

I was so honored when my friend – and brilliant cranial sacral therapist – Kate Mackinnon asked me to write a poem to open her new book From My Hands and Heart . Once again I find myself in delightful company, since this is the second book  that a forward from Wayne Dyer follows one of my poems. And in this poem I got to explore wholeness…and make a commitment not to abandon myself again.

 

whole

while her hands navigate
the map my body makes,
it’s the radiating rhythm
of vibration and stillness
that now allows me
to receive what it hides
and translate all it has to tell.

this journey to knowing,
deep in my essence,
that i am loved.
no matter what i do or don’t do,
even if i don’t do anything i will be loved.

but to believe, i needed courage.
i found it in my body.

my body,
a treasure chest,
its cellular secrets under lock and key
until the moment they were ready to be freed.

in the body
love first develops as hunger.
these walls have cellular memory.
there is a haunting here.

tight fitting skin,
barely wrapping bones
in dehydrated desert conditions
are infused with vitality
fleshed out and expanded
nourished and recalibrated
buoyant.

sensation returning and there,
my breath still held,
i felt full for the first time.

my power is very confusing.
and although my legs just want to run
i can feel my feet begin to find their roots,
sourcing safety for my strength.

i found my grounding
and what feeds me
in asking for help
from an intuitive hand.

my body,
once a fortress,
now begs for entry
and re-entry.

the thaw begins like this,
after being frozen in place
for so long,
waves of flame and prayer
release me,
finally locating the passage
from my heart,
revealing the way to healing.

so in the softening,
i learn that love
presents in many forms:
in flames on candles carried
in kisses and wishes of peace
in snow surrounding a mountain waterfall.

my body melts
outside its lines.
my thoughts, my own
for the first time.

as pieces of me
return or arrive,
desire alone senses
the rise and fall
of what’s alive
inside.

now,
stripped of all
i once defined
myself by,
it takes only a moment
to notice
i have always been
whole.

 

Missing My Standing Ovation

Last month, after my keynote at Hay House’s I Can Do It! Ignite NYC conference, I walked off stage and since no one was right there to receive me and to shower me with positive reflection and energy, I immediately defaulted to the negative self-talk. So much so that I even went as far as sending texts from backstage, apologizing for sucking.

I had been out there sharing my story with over 2500 people – about being a recovering perfectionist who has historically only felt worthiness based on external validation, who has now learned that love is an inside job.

The irony is not lost on me.

There I was on stage, teaching exactly what I need to learn.

I came out for my book signing, still in a fog of my own making, and could barely receive the overwhelming positive response: that I was so natural, that it was as if everything I was saying was happening right now, that my conversational tone, timing and pauses created a rhythm for connection…

And then I was told – by several people – that I ran off the stage so fast I actually missed my standing ovation.

Woah.

Talk about being unable to receive…

I realize now that I was so blown open and present to my own experience up there that I had no gauge for how my speech was really landing, or the impact I was having. I was so wrapped up in wanting to be perfect that I couldn’t even see I already am. The external validation was there, but because I didn’t receive it and take it in, I made the whole experience mean something else.

This past weekend, at our I Can Do It! Ignite San Jose conference where we had so many brand new speakers, I made a point to be right there at the edge of the curtain after each person spoke – since I’m also producing these events, I live backstage – to immediately lock and load positivity straight away. Including myself. As soon as I came off stage, I did what Louise Hay always does and said to myself, “You were fabulous! You did a great job, kid!”

And even though I didn’t feel that was 100% true, I was reminded of “The Right Questions,” in which my dear friend and mentor Debbie Ford asks: “Am I Looking for What is Right or Am I Looking for What is Wrong?”

And now as I head off to I Can Do It! Austin this weekend, I realize that each experience on stage is a magnificent exercise in noticing my attachment, and in letting go. And I am excited to have the opportunity to share my heart with everyone there, devoted to my commitment to service, and knowing that true connection lives in the sweet spot where my vulnerability meets yours.

bone

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Vancouver where we have our I Can Do It! conference here this weekend. As I’m deciding on which poems from the newly revised and updated edition of my book Writing for My Life…Reclaiming the Lost Pieces of Me: A Poetic Journey to share with the audience, I’m also reflecting on the arc of my journey that has led me to this very moment. Finally I can see how each and every bit of my experience is an equally important star in the constellation of my life preparing me for here and now and forward.

This new version of my book is divided into three sections, each corresponding to one of the stages of reclaiming myself. The poems within became the stepping-stones leading me from fear to self-love and self-forgiveness. Here is the piece that opens the first section called bone. I offer my heart to you with the hope that it serves as a compass to lead you back to yourself, and an invitation to find and trust your own voice.

 

bone

For most of my life, I needed validation. I looked outward for permission. Permission to offer myself love and acceptance. I put everyone else’s dreams and needs before mine. I spent my days managing the perceptions of others, projecting an image of perfection. In the process, I forgot something.

I forgot to live my own life.

I didn’t feel loved for who I was—especially not in my marriage—so I believed I never would be. I checked out. Went to sleep. And was awakened only by an explosion of epic proportions.

After the dust settled, I had a choice. I could either stay numb and go back to sleep. Or, I could face my fears. I could embrace change. I could stop living my life in reaction to others.

And so the journey began.

The journey to knowing, deep in my essence, that I am loved. No matter what I do or don’t do. Even if I don’t do anything I will be loved.

But how? I needed courage. I found it in my body.

My body—flesh and bone—a treasure chest. Its cellular secrets under lock and key until the moment they were ready to be freed. The thaw came that way: an instant, a window, an opening. If I’d left sooner, I would not have been able to stay away. If I’d stayed a moment longer, it would have been radical self-betrayal.

I remember leaving for the last time. I bought a clean, new mattress just days before, knowing it was a last offering to a lost time. I quietly told the truth to someone safe. There was the night I thought I heard him coming for me—first hope, then fear, then resignation. I remember finally asking for help. I remember when I didn’t think all the help was going to help. I remember when it finally did. I remember all the hours around the hours. Those hours building the skeleton of a leaving. Those hours of bone.

 

 

at last

Last week, while on my way to Miraval Resort in Tucson, Arizona for our annual retreat with Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson, the craziest thing happened…I missed my flight! For the first time ever! In my whole life! The Denver airport was a zoo because of Spring Break. I was there in plenty of time…but having a bag to check was the problem! I mean, I hold the world record (well, at least I think I do) for going  73 days straight in carry-on…so what would a mere 28 days be this time!?! But no, I was practicing extreme self-care and giving myself room so as not to stuff everything for a month into my tiny purple rolly…what was I thinking? The lines were so long that by the time I got up to the kiosk counter I was informed that it was too late to check a bag for my flight and then led over to another serpentine line for rebooking.

Did I mention it was Spring Break?!

I called my travel angel – and he was able to grab the last seat on ANY flight to Tucson departing that day – at 10 PM.

Did I mention that it was 10 *AM* when this was all happening!

And, the additional fee would be $1,100!

Even with him holding this seat for me, I still had to stand on the slow moving line for Customer Service to make the change. For well over an hour, while I listened to people bitching and kids screaming, I decided to walk my talk – I do work at Hay House and was on my way to spend a week with Louise and Cheryl, after all!  - so I channeled them and waited patiently with a positive attitude!

When I finally got to the counter I smiled and said to the agent, “I’m determined to be your kindest customer today!” and the frazzled agent next to her looked at me like I was kind of crazy and said, “You already are!” and then my agent added, “And I’m sure that by the end of our shift you still will be!” She rebooked me on that 10PM flight. “Do you know this will cost $1,100?” she asked. I nodded my head “Yes.” And then, because positivity is infectious, she told me that since I was so nice and calm she was going to bypass the fee in the system and not charge me a dime!!!

WOW – there’s something to this positive thinking!!! I realized it felt so much better to be kind instead of complaining. I noticed that when I was pleasant, others reflected it right back to me and I enjoyed seeing these agents happy during a stressful day. She put me on standby for the 2:30 PM flight.  I was first on the list and for the next few hours I visualized myself sitting on that plane.

So, what could have spiraled into an “ain’t it awful” day actually became quite joyful. And…you better believe that at 2:30 PM I cleared the standby list and found myself tucked into the last available seat on that plane. I shared the hour ride to the resort deep in conversation with my new friend Molly, a delightful woman on her way to our retreat, and I made it to Miraval for dinner!

Today, I post this poem  this the newly revised and updated edition of my book Writing for My Life…Reclaiming the Lost Pieces of Me: A Poetic Journey  in honor of the first day of National Poetry Month 

 

at last 

i breathe without thinking
wake without dreading
feel safe in my skin
after all these years of only sensing myself
like a phantom limb
at last i am here
love doesn’t dissolve it self-corrects and
recalibrates over time
older now and with more accuracy
i trust


no now without then

Letting go has been on my mind a lot lately. And in my body. My big revelation: the key to letting go lies on the other side of actually inviting the memory in deep first. It seems like everywhere I turn right now I am being given the opportunity to dive in and then release.  The way a familiar aroma of specific recipes unexpectedly fills my home, fragrant grief enveloping me years after he was here cooking for us. Or how taking off my ski boots, a ritual that was always accompanied by all of my past dogs feverishly licking my nose, floods me with the sensation of loss while unbuckling, further anchoring in doglessness. But I find that if I remember to allow these visceral reminders to really soak in, instead of denying them, that I can swim through the emotion and emerge without a fight. Knowing in my soul that I had to be there in order to arrive here…reveling in relief, freedom, and joy.

 

 

no now without then

there is a trick
no one tells
about letting go

you can’t fully release
what isn’t firmly in your grasp

everything we seek externally
must first be resolved internally

you must get right
to the heart of it
seduce the memories
immerse yourself in inquiry

truth will only
come for you once
embrace her and
she’ll be quick
refuse and
she will linger

a tie to a certain time
will reveal a rip in the body
requiring remembrance
before being restored

goodnight to the way things were
sleepwalking through my unlived life
goodnight to the hiding
fear always finding a way to crush hope
goodnight to the woman i was
years of holding everything in
goodnight to the silence
my once strangled voice screams
knowing that no woman could stay
if i couldn’t

seems like a long time ago – this
when i wasn’t interested in time

but now the past is
burning away
and it has a distinct scent
which i’ve kept
to remind me
that what we got
is exactly what we needed
and that
i must be traveling

outlines and echoes fade
and by morning
all ocean and train outside
the pieces begin to re-pattern
extraction from the
quicksand of marriage
now embedding a new code
while preparing me
for everything
and this

 

unbound

unbound 

I was beyond honored when my dear friend Debbie Ford asked me to write a poem (see below!) for inclusion in her new book Courage: Overcoming Fear & Igniting Self-Confidenceand then totally blown away when she let me know that my poem will actually open the entire book…followed by a fabulous Forward by another near and dear one, Wayne Dyer!

Debbie has been one of the most significant angels of support on my journey, and the groundbreaking material in this book is the exact kick-ass catalyst that we all need in order to free ourselves from the old stories that keep us in the dark and stuck in the past, catapulting us into a bright and joyful present and future! But you don’t have to wait until Courage is released, come spend the weekend with us at The Shadow Process Retreat, February 10-12 in San Diego!

 

unbound
by nancy levin  

we may never know
how we hold
all we can
or how the light catches us
when we are out of breath

it’s a sign of healing
to be feeling again

the real breakthrough
can only arise
from heartbreak

that which ails
cures
reminding us
that it’s always about beginning
and then beginning again

as the waves crash me
i trust the sand
to polish my edges smooth
dissolving denial
revealing real while
courage and confidence
ignite my core

contraction and expansion
let the light stream in
and the stillness
after so much thrashing about
allows the body to wring
the sorrow out

as freedom floods
shadows may persist
know your undertow
as you alchemize the dark
and remember
that you always have
the strength to choose
how to engage

the clouds unveil the view
when you are ready to climb
now it’s time to notice
the miraculous moments
in your life
as they are happening

this
is the making
of me
and we will walk
courageously
into daybreak
from the night
shining our light
together

 

restoration

last week, for the first time in a long time, i took two restorative yoga classes. comprised of minimal movement, and holding poses in rest for suspended time, i am always amazed that what seems like relaxation actually wrings the body more than constant flow. this got me thinking about  the tension of opposites, how we can hold what we hold, and how we can allow the light to catch us when we are out of breath. the line below “i am always settling in and then settling in again” has been ringing in my ears for the past several days. this idea that just when we think we have landed, we are actually further unearthed and invited to restore grounding, and that stillness isn’t really the goal but rather fluidity.

restoration

the truth has been patiently walking beside me
periodically darting out in an attempt
to capture my attention
then today it just gently reached over
held my hand and gave it a squeeze
reminding me that i do want and need
and love

so this is what it feels like
to inhabit my body
a home familiar yet unrecognizable
breath hydrating the space
between flesh and bone

still flashes of the past hover
as film overlay on present day
haunting me with life before
and life unlived

once
i was a woman
with a husband
and a dog

it was a time
when water
didn’t behave
as water
how quickly spells are cast
and broken
but life going on without me
leaves me breathless
so i trust in the power
of restoration

seems i am always settling in
and then settling in
again
to the changing terrain below
the weather is coming for us
and it’s breathtaking

as the waves crash me
the sand polishes
my edges smooth
by loosening my grip on
what i desire
it draws toward me
balancing as i settle in once more
contraction and expansion
allow the light in

what makes the heart
start beating again

living and breathing
on the other side
of letting go

 

 

there is something to be said for love everlasting

Not that I need a holiday to push me…but as Thanksgiving approaches I am moved to express gratitude to the family and friends who’ve held my hands and had my back along the journey. Nothing compares to having people who will shine your radiance right back at you when you need it the most, and I’m beyond blessed to be constantly reminded that what lights my fire in this lifetime is illuminated by the willingness to love, trust and reveal without fear. I offer this poem as a reflection on love, loss, grace, strength, and most of all, hope…

they kissed us each goodbye

            in memory of my grandparents
            who died 20 hours apart

on the night before
my grandfather
died
i sat with a man
i no longer knew
and in his eyes
i watched
night fall for
the last time

he wanted to go
for a walk
he told the nurse
but i know
he wanted to go
looking for her

there is
something
to be said
for love
everlasting
something
to be said
for lives
intertwined
something
to be said
for having
the sense
not to be
left behind

late that night
she came for him

i remember waking
while it was still dark
knowing that
one by one
they had kissed
us each goodbye

~ from Writing for My Life…Reclaiming the Lost Pieces of Me: A Poetic Journey by Nancy Levin

 

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