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Ugly cry lessons from 2017 and soundtrack for it all – Part 2

If you missed last week’s post, we’re in the middle of unpacking some pretty gnarly lessons from 2017, and there’s a soundtrack for it all because I grew up in a record store and hear music in everything;)If you missed last week’s post, we’re in the middle of unpacking some pretty gnarly lessons from 2017 and there’s a soundtrack for it all because I grew up in a record store and hear music in everything;)

It was a big year for all of us.

And personally, it was a year of massive growth…just not how I intended.

But isn’t that life?

In Part 2, you’ll find the remainder of 2017, the breakthroughs for me, and hopefully some lessons for you, too.

Over the next year, we’ll also be taking a deep dive each month into one of these lessons to discuss how to make it actionable in everyday life.

Here we go.


This paradox leaves nothing but space for creation and it’s both terrifying and freeing.




Our stories can take us to our lowest low while helping us release our demons and move mountains, at the same time. Part of life’s journey is about learning to flow with the stories we tell ourselves rather than be victimized by them.

I got close to this truth again in 2017. And much of the story I was telling myself about where I came from would begin to transform from lack, fight and grit into wholeness, compassion, and unending inspiration.

Up to that point, I didn’t know much about my biological father. I wasn’t exactly searching, at least not directly.

The research I was doing on lineage definitely left me with many questions and a desire to know more about the blood coursing through mine and my son’s veins.
I’d always thought my father was a deadbeat. I only knew his first name, that my mom was really young and he was older, married, had kids and went MIA as soon as my mom turned up pregnant.

The universe delivered a view of a being who shared the same first name and other pieces of the story I knew, DNA and…

…he was anything but a deadbeat.

He was a public figure, devoted to transforming an industry and showing others how to do the same. What I discovered was a man who had created a legacy that I had been unknowingly tapping into my entire life.

This completely flipped everything I thought I knew about where I came from on its head. For the first time, I was seeing a story of inspiration, abundance, creativity and service.

I felt immense gratitude with the realization that the stories I was telling myself about where I came from, meant everything and absolutely nothing, all at the same time.

Bon Iver – 715 Creeks

So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we couldn’t sit for even one, that’s the journey of the warrior. – Pema Chodron

We are primed as humans to resist what doesn’t feel good. Yet, the key to optimal living and experiencing life to its fullest is the way of the warrior. To be able to sit with it all.

The emotions of finding this soul were enough to penetrate the vodka-induced walls I had built around every area of my life. At this point, I’d received DNA results back, and it was confirmed, we shared DNA. I was a part of his story, he mine. I saw in his work how much this haunted him but, I also saw his commitment to transmuting that energy into something for the better.

His biggest challenge in life was running away, just like mine. Though it was also what contributed to the impact he created daily.

He was teaching me that the most meaningful actions of a person’s lifetime almost always come by truly being with the ugly and the hard. He taught me to take down the walls when I feel the burn of hot loneliness.

Kings of Leon – Walls

If we don’t do it daily, emptying our cup hurts mostly.

There’s a lot of talk right now about this notion of surrender going on in the spiritual community. It feels like we’ve been confronted with the notion that it takes humility to move forward, both as individuals and a species.

September was my rock bottom. At the beginning of the month, I spoke in Phoenix at an SFM event about this profound experience with the intention of sharing the lesson on our stories.

I walked into the talk feeling like I had disseminated the lessons but found myself in the middle of the awareness (and the talk) that I had no idea what this other story really had in store for me. I would have no chance until I let go of the need to numb, to run.

This led to a place of being absolutely sick of myself and the circumstances I was finding myself in.

Half of my life was made of abundance and creativity. Challenging myself as a conscious parent, locked into evolving as a soul, serving others, constant discovery. It was made of the knowing there was always more. It felt good, really good.

But the other half was a reflection of what my logical mind(ego) perceived I came from.

I was numbing out everything I wasn’t willing to look at. The truth was, I hated myself for this incompleteness and for what I had compromised. And I took it out on my mind, body, and spirit at every turn.

My partnership was a reflection of all of this darkness. I ‘d compromised the real stuff, the companionship and on-fire desire I really yearned for in relationship, for misaligned values, unauthentic, empty love-bombing and a thick, drunken haze. I traded who I was for something artificial, when what I wanted was something genuine. And for that, I would pay some dues karmically.

Late September, a small window opened, and I jumped through it. I decided I was breaking up with alcohol for good. It wasn’t an empowered decision in the least. It was the heartwrenching and ‘on your knees’ retreat that came with knowing that I was going to die unless I changed my life. After a week of sweating through bedsheets, tremors and panic attacks, my relationship also dissolved.

And there I was, right in the middle of every emotion I had ever numbed. By myself. Just like everyone else, really.

And what I discovered, is that it’s in this space that we have to recommit to our journey. By starting each day, each moment with surrender, humility, and connection, the universe doesn’t have to shove it in our faces.

Wet – I don’t want to be your girl

Have your own back.

No one will ever be able to love and support us the way that we can for ourselves.

Bottom line.

November was my first full month of sobriety and a deep dive into self-love. I’ve spent the last decade plus using self-care as a big part of my emotional maintenance and growth. But that November, I realized that intimacy could really be there. I understood at whole new levels what it means to truly love yourself.

It wasn’t all unicorn farts though…

Over the first several weeks, I would continue into a spiritual, physical and emotional warfare with myself that felt unending at points. But in this, I finally understood that it was through showing up in this way that true connections would begin to grow – both internally and externally.

There’s a humility that comes with this kind of internal warfare that is needed for peace of mind. I had no idea what the next moment was going to look like, but I did know that I would get through if I stayed with it.

I saw that the more I allowed myself to be present and get lost in the basics, the more I enjoyed the clarity.

And I learned that living a sober life isn’t at all about abstaining from drinking for me. It’s about a shift from letting alcohol run my life to letting self-love run my life.

We have to have our own backs. The ego can’t really serve in this. To really show up for ourselves is to know how to love ourselves, even in those moments of feeling unlovable.

Chainsmokers – Don’t Let me Down

Comfort has been lying to you.

If you’re on a path to authentic growth, you know this only happens outside of our comfort zones. However, the other thing to look at here is the speed of implementation. When we know we’re in our comfort zones and we stay anyway and listen to it’s lies…

Creative stuff is formed. Neural pathways are created, and this is exactly what we’ll attract.

Comfort that lies to us… over and over again.

In November, I was met with the reality that I was as compulsive in choosing romantic relationships as I was around alcohol. I was ready to let go of this track record of trading the real companionship for half-heartedness, inauthenticity, and conflicting values.

I was seeing how this belief of “Who are you to be great?” was impacting my ability to be authentically loved and to give that same kind of love.

I was taken back to the first time I ever felt, “I will never be hurt like this again”. I saw how I built walls every time I felt that.

We all do this to varying degrees, and I had become a master…

If I choose someone where true connection isn’t really available then I’d never feel that again.

I realized I was choosing partners who I knew would not work so I wouldn’t be too shocked when they didn’t work. I was playing small in a self-deprecating way for a creature comfort that was purely an illusion to not be alone.

To not take responsibility for my own shit.

To not look at my dysfunction.

Nick Mulvey – Mountain to Move

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace…

Creating real impact, for ourselves first and then others requires us to be and act with one foot in the light and the other in the darkness, believing in who we are, regardless.

Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to say “fuck it all” at the end of the year. I also compulsively listened to “Braving the Wilderness” and lived on chocolate this month. I spent the month learning the art of being slightly out of control.

I experienced 90 days of sobriety in December. I fell in love with writing songs again and I truly started mothering myself. In that, I realized that self-expression flows abundantly when we stop trying to always shine and are able to stand in both the light of the morning and the breath-shattering unknown.

I fell back in love with where I came from and the intention of every single moment mattered.

I wrote a song this month after a 20 year sabbatical from songwriting.  Like the last 12 months, a completely random pop song started to come together. It’s nowhere near perfect and everything in me wants to keep it tight until it is. But that’s not what this blog post is about. That’s not how the beauty of life unfolds.

So here it is…

A goodbye to looking for shine, over of soul, in relationship with myself and others.

Danielle Wilson – Soul over Sunshine

Here’s to 2018, owning our shit and sharing the lessons, no matter what they look like. As I just heard Glennon Doyle say, when we share our stories, others say “me too”. This is how we light up the world, ladies. This is how we create change.


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