The Good Shit - Vol 3

The Good Shit - Vol 3

After four weeks of NON STOP rain here in South Florida, I am sitting poolside and drinking up every precious drop of sunshine I can scrape together. Seriously, how do people SURVIVE in places like Seattle? I would die. I would actually die . As a (basically) lifelong Floridian, I only know how to properly function when the sun is blaring and relief in the form of a breeze is non-existent. Whenever I envision a “happy” place - anything drenched in sunshine where I can be minimally clothed will do the trick to take me straight to bliss-ville. Dear sun, I missed you. Please stay. I’ll make you breakfast and sing to you and dance with you and just generally worship you. Isn’t that enough?!

continue reading…

WTF IS A COACH?

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Let me tell you how a good story works:
*PSA - I did not make this shit up - a smarter human than me named Donald Miller of Storybrand did. Read his book. And then read his other book.

A hero,
has a problem,
and meets a guide,
who gives them a plan,
and calls them to action,
that ends in success,
and helps them to avoid failure.

Every single time you’ve been activated in a story, you’ve been a part of some form of this journey.
“What does all of this have to do with the title of this journal entry?” you might be wondering by now…

I recently became aware of a very important fact - I haven’t been telling you a great story. Which blows my ego to shit because I’ve considered myself a good storyteller. High five for always learning!

Here’s what you need to know:
My real name is Stef, but everyone calls me Sauce. The reason why isn’t as epic as you wish it was and I will eventually make up a sick story (lie) to feed you all about it. I’m a coach, writer and yoga teacher. I do rad shit. I help creators/leaders/entrepreneurs/real humans figure out who they are, tap into their gifts, and tell their stories so that they can live fully expressed lives.

But like, WTF is a coach?

It was about three years ago and my career with lululemon was in its infancy that I discovered the answer to this question myself. My manager (such a lousy term for who these people were for me) had just gotten back from Global Leadership Conference (an EPIC lulu thing) and returned with a sheet of paper the size of a bookmark with questions on it that said “Put Me In, Coach” in bold red letters at the top. They were all inquiries someone could offer in a moment of holding space for someone else. They allowed the listener to hold up a mirror to the other so that they could find their own way towards whatever resolution they were seeking. In all of my time at lululemon, none of my leaders - my coaches - ever answered a single one of my questions. They always just asked me another question. This gift in this was that I learned that I could trust my own wisdom, and that I just needed a space where I could rebound my own processing. Coaching and consulting are often used interchangeably, but here’s the difference:

A good consultant gives you good answers.
A good coach asked you good questions.

My job is to inquire. Listening with my head, heart and body sensations to pull out the questions that you need to hear so that you can forge ahead with confidence and a strong intuitive muscle. And my job is to be a guide in your story.

Every epic movie you’ve ever seen or book you’ve ever read (and in a ton of other ways you don't even realize) has led the hero to their unique victory in this way. Harry had Dumbledore. Katniss had Haymitch. Luke Skywalker had Yoda (I think, right? TBH I’ve never seen Star Wars so I probably should have left this out to avoid hate mail). The hero, in order to emerge triumphant, needs a guide. I myself have guides. Guides are fucking awesome. We need them. All of us.

You are the hero of the story. Not me. You. If you’re feeling or have ever felt stuck, or in transition, or ready to shift the energy and direction of your life, or have some big, epic shit you know you’re here to be up to, and if you want to feel more authentically, fully and freely expressed as your absolute whole, real self - then I am here to be your guide.

I’m not a guru and I’m not going go “fix” you.
I am a guide.
And I’m going to reach out my hand for you and say “let’s fucking do this shit”.

I’m going to give you a plan. It is going to look like this:
1. You’re going to tell me your story
2. We’re going to unpack that story and find out what’s holding you back, what unconscious patterns you’re in, what you don’t even realize that you believe and what bullshit you’re buying that is in the way of YOU.
3. We’re going to create a human strategy using the best of who you already are - your unique and potent gifts - and leverage those to shift you into the expansion that you are ready to own.

This plan ends in success, but first you have to do one thing - act. You’re being called - right now.
If you’ve been waiting for a sign - this is it, amigo. This. Is. It. *insert neon sign here*

I’m ready for you.

*psssst - now you click the button

The Good Shit - Vol 2

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Welcome back to The Good Shit.

TBH, Volume 1 was way more of a hit than I expected - which lets me know that a) content that gets to the point in a more immediate and less cognitive or emotional way is a welcome breath of fresh air as far as how I've been doing things around here, and b) you're probably just in it for when I talk about sex podcasts and donuts. Which I totally understand.

This week, apparently the unofficial theme is apps, because there are four of them on this list that have been genuinely useful (unlike Fandango which just sits there for the 1x/year I see a movie). There's also some other stuff with no real theme other than that I'm into it right now.

Let's get this show on the road.

The Good Shit - Vol 2:

  • Okay who also totally forgot that the Big Tymers had some fucking BANGERS?!
  • That one time where I was like “I want my own straw” and days later my friend Sarah Claire just casually offers me a fresh rose gold straw like this one from a package in her backpack. I have arrived.
  • wo things that are major 🔑 when it comes to getting down (yeah, like that):
    • Condoms from Sustain
    • Organic Coconut Oil - I always have a stash right next to my bed that I’ve transferred into a glass preserving jar wide enough to actually fit my hand in. Nothing makes sexy time unsexy like trying to scrape the last bit of coconut oil from the bottom of a jar that your fingers will never reach. A handy hack whether you’re going at it alone or with company. Do the right thing.
  • The Classic - lost mine in Mexico. I was only like, two years in. INFANCY in the world of Rainbow Sandals which could legit last you your entire existence basically. New Rainbows, who dis?
  • This app for tracking my cycle. I haven’t been on birth control for almost ten years (save for a very brief stint a couple of years ago when my wonderful new boyfriend got to see me lose my absolute shit in a hormone infested nervous breakdown - sorry, Carl), and my cycle has been pretty crazy for the last year and a half. I love Flo because it gives me insight into each phase of my cycle and how to care for myself through the unique aspects of all four phases. It includes info on what foods would be particularly nourishing based on what’s happening in your body, journal prompts, movement recommendations, root causes for your symptoms, etc. I’m not trying to conceive, I’m for sure trying to NOT to that while also not skipping out on the activities that result in conception. This is a helpful tool along with the aforementioned barrier method ;) 
  • My best friend built this app along with an absolutely incredible team of designers and developers. About a year and a half from ideation to launching the iPhone app on the App Store this week. I’ve personally contributed to the formation of the identity/story of this brand from internal strategy to the world-facing copy and I could not be more proud to see what Nick has built and to have gotten to collaborate with my best friend. This is your new note-taking app, kids.
  • I cannot fucking stop watching this YouTube show for the love of god. Someone help me. 
  • This app for editing photos. I’ve been a dedicated VSCO user for a long time but I was led to A Color Story after reading that my friend Drea uses it. I find that I have more freedom with A Color Story that I do with VSCO presets and that there are many more options for edits that keep the original “realness” of the photo. I wind up with a shot that’s often just more vibrant and crisp without looking so doctored. Me gusta.
  • This book is next on my reading list bc I am fan-girling HARD over Peta Kelly 
  • Speaking of books, this one has changed my fucking game. If you have your own brand or are in the business of marketing/copywriting/storytelling/branding - buy this immediately. 
  • My adrenals are chronically fatigued and I find that increasing my protein intake throughout the day really helps to keep my energy levels more steady. Since I’m not often hungry in the mornings, I’ll do one of these Fro Pro bars to get myself going in the AM, or as a mid-day snack. Mint is my fave, and if you live in West Palm Beach, go to Celis and order a Chocolate Funk with one of these bad boys thrown in for some Mint Chocolate Chip vibes. You’re welcome. 
  • One of my yoga students loves John Mayer so I made this playlist for class and I am obsessed. I also get a real kick out of puns, so…
  • Coveting thisthis and this to teach, practice and basically live my entire life in.
  • The Autentic Sex podcast by Julie Allen is my favorite for her candor, brevity (she gets right to the point without too much fluff) and her wisdom on sex, relationships and tantra. Two of her most recent episodes have zeroed in on current happenings in my life. This and this
  • Taught this heart opening yin sequence this week with some tweaks. 
  • This blog by Hayley Wood
  • Not pretending that I WANT to interact with someone if I don’t. I’m FEELING that. Honoring your truth is the shit. There's no link for that.
  • If you haven’t watched Sens8 on Netflix I don’t know what you ARE doing with your life.
  • This past Saturday night friend Matt showed up at our friend Steph's house this week with one of every dessert from our home girl Sandra's new restaurant, Mazie's. You would be a fool not to go and implement this exact strategy. A fool.


PS. What is ALSO Good Shit is my teaching schedule in West Palm Beach this week. Here's the shakedown:

  • Tuesday 5/22: 6:30 PM Sip + Stretch at Studios Etc inside Granview Public Market
  • Thursday 5/24: 7:00 PM - Rest + Restore at Sozo Wellness
  • Friday 5/25: 9:00 AM - Slow Burn at Little Ocean Yoga

This Is a Post About Money That Isn't About Money

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Alright homies, let’s talk about money. If you’ve been following me a while, you’ve been let in a bit on my “stuff” in relationship to this particular form of energy that I am so perpetually annoyed by. If you know me personally, you’ve seen into the deep wounds I hold around this thing, and seen up close how very much I hate talking about it and how much pain I experience in my tireless work to heal. Money, I’m trying really hard to love you but I have a lot of junk to work on before my first instinct ISN’T to hate your guts.

This post isn’t about money. It’s about how whatever our STUFF is makes us feel and what do to with that information.

My stuff is money. I have PLENTY of other stuff but money is one of my real big ones. Whatever your story about 💸💰  is - fellow human, I’ve been there and may very well be there right now. I’ve had too much, I’ve had not enough, I’ve felt safe and secure and I’ve felt absolutely paralyzed with fear. What you might notice about those sensations  though is that none of them are exclusive to money, you feel me? Insert any of your own shit into the blank to be filled in here “The sore spot in my life is __________” and you could follow that up with any of the aforementioned feels. No matter what that is for you, it’s just a mirror. The “thing” isn’t the thing. It’s us.

This morning I opened my laptop to pay some bills. One tab opened to my bank, another to my car insurance, another to my phone bill, another to an invoice to be paid for coaching (your girl needs a coach too), and instantly my chest started to tighten. Right on cue, there is less oxygen flooding my lungs. Without fail, tension creeps into my legs. My body is responding to the experience of what I fear most - even though all of the resources are available to do what is needed. I am not in the kind of abundance that I’d flaunt in a music video like I watched on 106 & Park when I was a kid (yes. yup.), but I’m not in lack either. There is enough for what I need and still my body responds. WTF do you do with that?

You feel, man. You lean into what you’re experiencing. Between your ears, on your heart, upon your flesh and far beneath. This morning I’m asking myself what it is that I’m really scared of when I send money away - what’s the primary need that my subconscious is concerned about? Where did that story come from? The answers might not materialize instantly, but I allow for their incoming and tell The Universe that I’m open to receiving this awareness when I’m ready. I don’t fucking know when ready is but I trust that to be realized intuitively. That’s what this process is. Allowing and Trusting.

Most importantly, I give myself permission to just have the moment. This whole “spiritual bypass” thing makes it sound sexy to “just think positive” or whatever the fuck and totally skip over the actual experience. Bypassing what you’re feeling because it doesn’t feel “good” (intentional steady use of air quotes here because these things are all bullshit) is actually low AF on the vibrational scale. Pretending everything is great when you don't authentically feel that that isn't honoring the truth - and what we're interested in is the whole truth and nothing but. What IS high-vibing is not running from your stuff. Welcome to the cool kids club boys and girls (and gender-neutral identifiers)! What that could sound like in terms of a you, yourself and you conversation is: “I am feeling anxious right now. I’m feeling this way for a reason that I’ll understand in time. Until then, I am having this experience and it is okay that I’m having this experience.” Then journal about it, move your body, sit with someone you feel safe with and be heard  - when it comes to a method of processing, the adventure is yours for the choosing, my friend.

Whatever your “blank” is, if you’re ready to be free of that shit, I'm here to walk you through. The little button at the end there is for your clicking pleasure. I’ve been there, done that, and will some day sell the T-Shirt that says:
“Dear money, I hate you. JK I love you. Not really. A little. Barely, though. Let’s try just being friends first. Coffee, sometime? You’re buying. Love, Stef.”
 

THIS IS A LISTENING PRACTICE

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“Get up get up get up” a deep voice commands as it enters a heated room.

It’s 3pm and I’m inside what used to be the living room of a white house on a corner on Music Row in Nashville Tennessee. I haven’t even started moving yet and I’m already sweating when we’re told to turn to everyone around us and high five, hug it out, whatever - just connect. Slippery embraces wrap me up with six strangers in my immediate vicinity. High fives. Names. Eye contact. It’s the middle of the freaking day and the room is packed. Five of the six people in this interaction are men, and there are more in the room in rows behind me. A welcome surprise as I don’t regularly have the privilege of practicing alongside men and women in equal quantities.

actually chose this class at Shakti Yoga Nashville because a man was teaching it - a guy named Chris who’s bio online revealed a salt and peppered goatee and a piercing blue gaze - he has presence in this photo that is confirmed in person (I know what you’re thinking and you’re wrong. Have a little faith in me…) ALL of my teachers back at home are women, and on this mentally and emotionally trying day in Nash, I craved Masculine energy so that I could relinquish control and just flow in my feels.

As soon as Chris entered the room I knew shit was about to go down.

“Standing forward fold” he cued without any extra bullshit direction as the starting point of our practice. You don’t get cued to start in a standing fold every damn day.
I was paying attention.

“This is a 60-minute listening practice” he informs us as my neck finds length in the pull of gravity and I smile because he knows what he’s doing and he isn’t afraid to take the room by its balls and I fucking love this shit.
I am about to be SHOOK and I know it.

His cues are direct and intelligent. He tells you what pose to go into and instructs your alignment from there.
“Apply concept to action, connect through your feet and press your inner thighs to the back wall” - he says as we stay a hot second in the fold that starts our practice.
“Did he just say ‘apply concept to action’?!” I ask myself as I almost actually squeal with excitement while still upside down.

But there’s something happening in the room beyond the incredible buildup of physical sensation and the sweat that is literally pouring in buckets off of every single one of us (had to be close to 30 humans at 3pm on a Monday).

Some time later I come into a standing balance, rooting down through my right foot and externally rotating my left hip, opening it towards the wall on that side. I’m fucking exhausted by now and I struggle to steady when the girl next to me reaches her right hand under my left knee to hold me up without breaking her Drishti. Supporting me. Holding me up. My left hand finds the space behind her heart and we stay there in the fire together. She reaches for me several more times throughout our practice and I do the same. When we eventually come to the floor as our practice starts to close, her hand rests on my left shoulder to aid in its grounding as my palm finds her knee in a supine twist. I do the same for the guy on my right on the other side. Never before have I touched a stranger as a student in a yoga class (I rarely do it as a teacher), yet reaching for one another in this way felt..Intuitive. Safe. Allowed.

This is all after Chris has held us in a plank and went around the room asking what we’re “plankful” for - thirty people speaking out loud in gratitude. The energetic intensity is matched by the massive physicality of holding a plank for that long which is entirely by Chris’s design. We came here to feel something and he is not afraid to hold the room in way that challenges your perceived limitations as you are invited to explore the edge that holds a breakthrough on the other side. Everyone is testing that edge. Everyone. It is viscerally felt in every inhale and exhale. When I eventually come out of Savasana, I’m short on words that describe what is moving through me other than - profound.

This is a listening practice. Every time I get on my mat I set the intention to listen deeply for what is asking to be experienced. A listening that is beyond the function of my ears that is heard within the shimmering pools of my spirit. This is yoga as I want to feel it, study it, practice it and share it. Listening, intuiting, for the place where unity resides within. My mat as a mirror and an outstretched hand to be known in my present state by another - by an entire community of others even - with the same invitation to be known by myself. 

The door opens at the end of class and Clark walks in - a auburn colored pup known by every person in that room. Boxer ears fall gently on either side of his head with the trust that he’s right where he belongs as his stump tail wags joyfully in the receipt of pure love. Incoming and outgoing yogi’s are happy to see him. They call him by his name with genuine excitement to see him in their voices. They call one another by their names with the same sound moving from their hearts into their throats. Clark scoots his butt up against me in a chair and I oblige him in a lengthy scratch as I listen to yoga doing its real work…

Yoga /ˈjoʊɡə/ - योग - to join, to unite, to yoke.

*Shakti Yoga, the pure, unchanging, unrelenting light of love and good that exists within me, acknowledges and bears grateful witness to the same light within you - humbled deeply by basking in the glow.
I bow to you.
Namaste.

Nothin' To Hide

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Where are you afraid of being seen?”

I’ve always considered myself to be brave. From the time I was a little babe, I’ve loved being on stage. Oh man, how I loved it. Any kind of stage. From dance recitals to theatre performances to talent shows to public speaking to whatever subtle systems of leadership exist within elementary school mini governments, I’ve loved having “All Eyez On Me” as the late, great philosopher, 2Pac Shakur once articulated. Until fairly recently, I would have told you that that was still true of the woman that that bold child became. A bold, brazen, animated child grew into a bold, brazen, animated adult. Same same. Not much has changed. Or so I had blindly believed.

This question began to low-key haunt my dreams a few months ago. I’d read it through this very gifted woman that I follow - Lacy Phillips of Free & Native. It was one of those moments where you experience something and cock your head to the side a little - like a dog does when it’s listening and trying to understand. I was viscerally aware that there was an answer, unable to see, hear or feel it fully. In that immediate slice of time and space, I didn’t yet know just how huge a blow had been landed upon it’s receipt. But then it began to run on loop. Like a song stuck in your head (for the last 48 hours its been “Take Me Home, Country Roads” - John Denver. So good.)

The wellspring of deep knowing that runs as a steady undercurrent to my entire existence had an answer. I could feel that live wire sparking in my breath, but clarity takes time - despite how desperately we cling to the concept of speed when there’s something we want. The answer my brain kept leading me to was “Girl, you ain’t scared!” I mean, let’s consider the obvious facts. I write really vulnerably. My words let the world in on my most painful moments. On the REGULAR, okay?  There is no pause in considering whether or not to tell you about coming unglued on my kitchen floor, or having a panic attack in my closet, or feeling the sludging ooze of shame. When all that information is laid out, you’d say I must be pretty brave, right?

Nah, bro. Something was lurking around in my cave places. Just waiting for the right moment to tap me on the shoulder and step into the light for me to witness it. I knew it because I could feel it and because the ways that my life was taking shape around me told me so. Rather than begging for it to come out to play, I whispered that I’d be here to receive it when I was ready.

And then one morning two weeks ago, I sat down to meditate. The doors of my consciousness burst open and let the monsters out.
They were not fucking around.

What came through in the clearest cognition was that I’d been hiding my light behind my darkness. I’d spent so, so much time in my own processing that what felt like vulnerability was in many ways, just another wall that I unconsciously built to prevent you from seeing me in fierce authenticity. The last year and a half was INTENSE, man. Relentless I’ve been in the pursuit of my own bullshit. In that work I’ve gotten to know myself intimately, and what I realized is that the thing I was keeping sacred, like a secret just for me, was my joy. It’s easy for me to let you in on my process, but seeing me feeling free - THAT is where I resist. Suddenly on that morning with my legs crossed on my green velvet couch, I could see that.

My god, I want you to know me. I can only be on your team if I myself am not hiding. Yes you need to know that I too have nights where I lock the door and beg my body to let me cry, but I have MORE moments where I thump Ludacris on the speakers and make pancakes in my underwear and share them with Apollo. I have MORE moments where I cry from laughing so hard. I have MORE moments where I should replace “fuck” with a different vocabulary word. I have MORE moments where I lose my shit over how good Creme Brûlée is. Like WHY is it so good?! I have MORE moments where I fucking pinch myself because I cannot believe that I am the creator of this freaking life. I can only be your guide towards such freedom if I am not afraid to admit that I am so free.

YO. FAM….
I am free.

The Good Shit - Vol 1

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Welcome to The Good Shit - a bi-monthly rundown of people, places and things that I’m vibing on - for your information.

It’s Sunday afternoon on the 6th of May (holy fuck how is it already the 6th of freaking May?!) and I’m writing from a coffee shop in a neighborhood called Five Points in Nashville, Tennessee. Before 36 hours ago I’d never been to Nashville. I had been wanting to take a short trip to a city I’d never been to before and a friend of mine comes here every month for work, so naturally I invited myself to join him and discover the Music City. The two women at the table next to me are playing Guess Who. I like it here.

This is the first installment of The Good Shit. “Good” is obviously entirely subjective, but I’m giving whatever ends up on this list my personal stamp for that moment in time and you can do whatever you want with that information. I write a lot of introspective, expansive and personal growth related stuff on this here journal, and I thought it’d be cool to share something lighter but hopefully as valuable (fingers crossed) in a different way. It could literally be anything. Products I’m loving, current jams, people I follow, podcasts + documentaries, experiences I’ve had - anything. There will be dessert on here often, heads up.

Without further ado - here’s The Good Shit - Vol 1.
 

  • These Dolce Vita Slides. from Target - for 25 freaking dollars. In case you didn’t get the memo, Target is stepping their game up big time. Their new bedding line - Opal House -  is straight out of Anthropologie for a third of the price. Uhhhh, okay. 
  • This book. This. Everloving. Book. Guys. World. If you do ANYTHING in the scope of branding - either your personal brand or as a guide for others, you need this book. It has completely shifted the way I approach storytelling as a tool for enrolling people in your brand and clarifying your message. It has infiltrated my brain and taken over. It’s fine.
  • This WOMAN. My friend Nikki turned me onto her and I am SHOOK. I was/am completely blown away by her authenticity and the potency of her real ass voice. Humans like this light me up with inspiration to be my fucking self.
  • The thing currently saving my problematic skin. As one of the too many young adults working for themselves without health insurance, seeking out a dermatologist to guide me through a rough season with my body’s largest organ has been a non-option. Recently I discovered that this oldie-but-goodie became available over the counter. Much as I’d love to have a holistic, completely natural solution to this issue, going through life with acneic skin is a real drag and can be mentally, emotionally and physically debilitating and downright traumatizing. While I tune into my body to figure out what it’s trying to tell me through my skin, having this to get me over a hump has been a freaking godsend. 
  • Also, this. Acure makes two physical exfoliants and this the heavy hitter of the two with a grittier texture from walnut shells. Regular exfoliation really helps my skin turnover new cells faster and keep it clear-er. Combined with the retinol above, I’ve seen a lot of improvement recently that is currently being halted by all the sugar I’ve eaten in Nashville but whatever. YOLO.
  • Lots of skin stuff here bc it’s been such a freaking struggle for me for the last year. I’ve used this on and off for years and often forget how healing it is for my skin to be deeply moisturized. It’s labeled as a full body lotion - but my face is on my body and rules are for fools.
  • I’m bringing you to Nashvegas aka. Smashville aka Nash aka Music City now. I took the most aaaaaaamazing yoga class today at a studio called Shakti Yoga that exists inside a beautiful old white house on Music Row. Without booking ahead of time, I walked into the “Community Class” and turned out to be lucky to get in. Normally I don’t dig a heated practice, but this was consciously heated with infrared panels in the ceiling. Not that we needed it, because we were literally packed like sardines in that mother fucker. I’m talking MAT TO MAT FUCK YOUR PERSONAL SPACE kind of shit. There had to be over 40 people in the room that used to be a living room - complete with a fire place. The instructor led a beautiful power flow that built a ton of heat in the core with intelligent cues that were both anatomically correct (not a given, trust me) and energetically moving. AND this class was only five bucks. If you’re in Nash and want to flow - go. But don’t risk not booking ahead.
  • Next up in my podcast queue from one of my favorites.
  • This Spotify playlist from the head lady in charge of the Connection Coalition and certified queen of chakra healing - Terri Cooper Space. 
  • I just want one of these real bad. That is all.
  • I want to put this in it. That is all.
  • Used to make these all the time. Going down as soon as I get home. 
  • Got these yesterday here in Nash. They’re CRONUTS. I just…bye.

TO RISK | The Fear of Letting Them In

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In one of my favorite books, intimacy is defined as “an exchange of affection between two people who are not lying.”

Re-read that a few times. How’s do your insides feel? Sit with that.

Last week I wrote about the journey that has led me to a year (and thirteen days) of being consciously single. What that means is that that exchange of affection needed to take place between me, and the woman I see in the mirror. I needed to learn how to look at her and tell the truth and not look away. We can have staring contests now - I usually win.

I wrote about how afraid I once was to get to that place. Bold aloneness. I got down on my hands and knees and drug myself through the mud so that I could know what it felt like to build my own support structure. Standing firmly in that rooting now, it turns out that there’s an opposite side of the relational spectrum that scares me just as much as being alone did once - letting someone in again.

Navigating a return to life on your own after having been in relationship for some time is no easy feat and it’s a task that I’ve watched people retreat from over and over and over again. Untangling the threads that have woven the tapestry of your joint life can be tedious and pain-staking and that isn’t masked by the reward at the end. I’ve been in that brand of resistance and can recall how viscerally I felt the transition into true aloneness. And now I’m on the other side, witnessing myself in resistance on the opposite face of the coin.

To cultivate true intimacy is to risk. It demands that we become vulnerable in the exposing our soft underbelly. Being in an exchange of the truth - the real truth - with someone else, is to shake up the proverbial snow globe of all of our shame and shadow and perceived unworthiness. It breeds the perfect environment in which to feel pain. In our truth we might be turned away from and rejected - but we might also be claimed.

Last week I was texting my friend Sarah Claire, a brave risk-taker, champion for vulnerability and gifted therapist. I told her about a friend I’ve been growing increasingly fond of over the last few months. “I find myself wanting to connect with him more deeply.” I said more to myself than to her. “I notice that I keep retreating from and rejecting that. Like I don’t want to own it.”

Our back and forth dialogue allowed me to continue to unpack that declaration.
“I’m afraid he won’t/can’t/doesn’t want to/won’t choose to reciprocate.”

“He says no > I’m not good enough > no one that I consciously choose to love is going to love me back”
I stared at the screen having seen myself in these feelings for the first time and thought - “Oh fuck”.

Afraid. I am afraid. I’ve been deeply hurt and rejected by all of the men that I've consciously chosen and allowed to truly see me. We write stories with our wounds. Chapters we’ve long since turned the page on, subconsciously continue to influence what our present selves transcribe. Having my friend ask intelligent questions and hold up a mirror with an invitation to see, revealed that I’m guarding against the cycle of pain I’ve experienced by having revealed myself honestly to someone. In having the opportunity to do that again, red flags emerge from their hiding spaces beneath the surface and try to warn me of impending danger. When I I realize how I’ve been in unconscious patterns of self-preservation that are limiting my fullest expression - I call that an ‘Oh fuck” moment. It’s when you see something you can’t unsee and then have to choose to shift if you want to expand.

Oh fuck.

“Healed” is not a destination I believe we ever arrive at. Despite the work I’ve done to feel solid ground under my feet without company, I still have deep wounds that tell me subconsciously to build a fortress of protection. I can literally see and feel it in my body. Months of tension in my hips and my belly - bracing muscles that are firing because my body senses vulnerability and goes into “safety” mode. Rather than “to be healed” what we can strive for is heal-ing. The work is to tend to the wounds as they arise, knowing that another will follow and to nurse ourselves gently when they do. I meet those “Oh fuck” moments and even I get down on myself for a second. How the fuck did that get there? I’ve been doing that? I chastise myself just like any of you do - for a moment. And then I allow the information to place a cold compress on my forehead.

But now what, right? Equipped with awareness, what do you do exactly? And how do I allow protection to serve me without preventing true intimacy from entering my life?

I share the narrative with someone I trust. I apply volume to the sensations in a safe home to be held in. I evaluate how I’m deciding what makes me worthy, and I go inward with curiosity around where and when in my life I first decided that I wasn’t. I do that only without obsessing and I stop when I’ve had enough of doing deep work and I watch Grace and Frankie and eat thin mints. I activate practices of pleasure in my own body and allow myself to feel loved by my own hands. I fail at doing all of this and I try again.

Maybe I let him in to see me in my fear and just…see what happens when I admit that I’m afraid. Maybe nothing. But also, maybe something...

In the space between the jump and the free fall, we are alive.