with Melinda Rodriguez

Archive for February, 2013

The Sacred Spiral of Grief and Healing

5da7c2c6dbf432aa0a1f2788043c7e27As I sat in the emergency room bed waiting for a doctor to come in and tell me what was going on, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel.  If I held out hope, I feared I might be so utterly disappointed that I would never have hope again.  On the other hand, if I think the worst, I feared I might attract the worst outcome through my own projection.  My sweet boyfriend and partner was sitting next to me, holding my hand and full of hope.  It was how he coped with it all.

Then he entered the room.  His poker face was firmly in place.  Most doctors are so serious all the time you never know if they are about to deliver good or bad news.  Then the words came out of his mouth “your pregnancy is no longer viable.”  What the hell did that mean?  Why couldn’t he just come straight out and say, “your baby is dead.”  Instead I had to probe, but he had no answers really, just the results of the ultrasound.  I was to wait for the resident OBGYN for the why’s and the how’s.

I didn’t need to wait around.  I was a sobbing mess and just wanted to go home.  The nurses gave me a piece of paper that told me what I needed to know and what to expect over the next few days.  I just needed to let my body do what it needed to do.  The hemorrhaging had stopped and I was out of there!

What ensued over the weeks, months and years was a grieving process I was unprepared for.  Who is ever prepared for the death of a loved one?  The death of a child, a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a friend, a pet, even a public figure we didn’t know personally; each loss means something different to each of us.  Our grief and view of death differs from person to person.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons the topic of death and grief is so misunderstood, rarely talked about, and has few resources available to help those that grieve.

For me it was not just a biological loss of a pregnancy, my child died inside of me.  He had not been with me long, but I loved him.  Yet, I never got to meet him or hold him.  It was the loss of a dream of encountering pregnancy and birth in a sacred way; so very different from my experience with my daughter when I was 19.  I felt like I let my lover down although he assured me I did not.  I was cheated out of experiencing pregnancy with a man that I loved; a stark difference from being pregnant with my daughter, alone, having no one to share all her kicks with or the awe of my growing belly.

But death is final.  We have absolutely no control over it.  And perhaps worst of all, no control over the emotions that engulf us in the grieving process.  The truth is however, no matter what you feel when someone you love dies, it is normal.  There is no wrong or right in the process of grief.  It is all a very relative experience.  Not only does the death of one person feel different than another, but each of us grieve differently, with each death, depending on many different factors including unresolved grief and our imbedded views of death.

What is additionally important to understand is that denial of negative emotions leads to dangerous outcomes.  There is a fine line between encouraging positive thoughts and stuffing very real feelings.  We must express and purge the sadness and pain and exhaust all avenues in our efforts including talking, artwork, writing, singing, dancing, drumming, sacred sex or whatever creative endeavor calls to us.  Often there are old wounds that have not been dealt with that begin to ooze when we experience death.  These injuries have seeped deep into our subconscious and can not always be expressed through literal avenues such as language.  They require a symbolic language such as music making and art to discharge from our psyche.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross a pioneer in the realm of understanding grief around death and dying outlined the five stages of grief.  They are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.  I had read her work years ago when dealing with the death of my grandmother.  I knew all of this and worked with clients who had experienced death.  Yet, I seemed to vacillate between the stages.  It was never a progressive journey in sequential order but rather what felt like a trampoline experience of bouncing from one stage to another.  Worst of all, my entire spiritual foundation crumbled underneath me.

I am sharing all of this with you because I want you to understand the spiral of grieving and healing.  We will all inevitably experience loss.  If we have the right tools, and understand the pathway of wisdom to follow, we can actually grow through the process.

Grieving happens upon a sacred spiral.  You may go through the five stages, but it may not be sequential and certainly not final.  Like an onion, we heal in layers as we move around the spiral of life.  There will be good days and bad days.  The intensity fades with time.  Each time you pass that place of pain on the spiral you will feel the loss, but it will feel different, less biting with each passing until it is just barely a pin prick.

d66356915bebc0c9b32263a856d7f2feLetting go of the intensity of the pain is not about denial or dishonoring the loved-one lost.  In fact, it is the most loving, holy, honoring thing you can do and in fact may assist them in progressing upon their next level of their journey.  It is important however to understand that there is no wrong or right time span with the process of moving forward.  This is why the spiral concept is so vitally important to keep in mind.  Make sure you are moving upward along the spiral.  You may have days where you feel like you are moving backwards, but as long as overall you can observe that there is forward motion, even if it is slow, you are on the right path.

If however you are not progressing; if the intensity of the pain is not lessening, even a smidgen, do not deny yourself the gift of help.  Whether it is with a trusted counselor or confidant or a support group, there is absolutely no place for pride or self-sufficiency when dealing with grief.  This is where we have the divine opportunity of experiencing community and why the concept of community is so vital to our wellness.  There are also a slew of free online support communities for all kinds of grieving.  This is one of the benefits of the information age.  Or, you can check your local hospital for support groups that you can attend in person if you feel you need that face-to-face connection.

The beauty of support groups is that you can move from being supported to being the supporter.  Once you get to a certain level of healing upon your journey with grief it is incredibly cathartic to reach out and help someone else.  The more you counsel and teach the more you embody the process and ensure your own progress.

Healing is never a destination; it is always a journey upon that sacred spiral.  We are never really done, just always expanding and reaching new levels of awareness that lessen the impact of whatever we might be healing from.  There will always be scars; they are marks of growth that remind us of our strength.  They need not cause pain, but simply provide a remembrance of our power and the truth of the realm of polarity we live in.

There is both day and night; light and dark.  In order to feel peace we must know chaos.  In order to know love, we must know it’s opposite. That is what the earth journey is all about.  Playing well together and helping each other understand the dark and the light and their divine synchronicity is at the root of our life purpose.

I encourage you to share your story of grief below in the comments.  Sharing our story provides an opportunity to purge, liberating us from our attachment to that story.  It also connects us with others who are reaching out to heal their own grief.  Sharing our story connects us with community and empowers others simply by knowing we are not alone.

Sending you much love,

Melinda

The Grand Illusion of Perfection

Beautiful-Imperfection-being-a-woman-26048182-480-594   “He kissed my stretch marks” said the legendary Shirley Valentine in the hilarious movie with her namesake title.  There is a spectacular scene in the film where after sleeping with a Greek sailor, he is rhapsodizing about how she should appreciate her stretch marks, “they show that you are alive, that you have given life; don’t be ashamed of these marks. They are beautiful.”  Ahhh, the wisdom that pours out of men’s mouths when they have just been (or are about to be) blessed with the juicy bliss of a woman.

The beautiful truth is that every inch of our body and every cell in our mind is in fact a flawless work of art by the creator herself.  Yet, there is a terrible epidemic amongst women and girls that we are somehow flawed.  I have yet to meet a woman, myself included, that absolutely has not one single discrepancy with any part of herself.  Well I’m here to set the record straight once and for all; for you, for me, for our daughters, our girlfriends, our family – for every woman in our life.  And, I want to provide you with some wisdom tools that will help you drop this ridiculous notion of “being flawed.”  I want to pull back the curtain where the great wizard of illusion has been filling us with absolute nonsense and downright lies!

Why is it that we can look upon a beautiful natural landscape and see such pristine beauty but when we look at our own bodies in the mirror we dissect every inch of our being and find a plethora of so-called flaws?  Do you see the hypocrisy here?  If you dissect that very landscape you will see that there are nicks and tears, imperfections, asymmetry and divine paradoxes everywhere you look.  But we tend to accept that as “nature.”  Listen lovey, you are nature too.  You are a part of the natural world just as much as the forest, the ocean, the desert and the tropical paradise.  This is an irrefutable truth.  God/Goddess does not make mistakes!

It is high time every woman and man step firmly into their power and tell Hollywood to kiss our imperfect asses.  We are moving into a time of transparency and as truth prevails, the illusions that have been perpetrated upon us are beginning to fall away.  Those perfect looking shots in magazines are not real; they are airbrushed or photo-shopped.  Many of those poor skin and bone models and celebrities have personal trainers and starve themselves (and may I say a quick thank you J Lo, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, and to all the other curvy girls who are owning their curves…and eating).  The skin, the makeup, the hair that we see in media is perfected by a professional, often for hours.  There are fake boobs, fake asses, fake noses, fake lips, and Goddess knows what else, everywhere we turn.  All of this illusion infiltrates our awareness and can lead us to feel inadequate – flawed.

It is time to stop this madness and embrace the truth.  Nature is imperfect, but it is not flawed.  Likewise, we are imperfect, but we are not, and will never be – flawed.  Every curve (or lack there of), stretch mark, scar, nose bump, crooked smile, inch of asymmetry, crazy thought, or whatever you might see as a flaw is actually a work of art by your creator.  When you accept yourself as naturally imperfect and absolutely flawless you will experience a profoundly deep sense of peace, self love, and adoration.  When you stop judging yourself, you automatically stop judging others, and that my friend’s is where some sweet juicy magic dwells.

Let’s be clear here, practicing acceptance for every aspect of your being is not a destination, but rather a practice.  This means, like it or not, you are going to be faced with moments, days, even weeks that go by where you might have some difficulty sinking into the groove of “flawless.”  Human nature is a wild ride and our work towards personal growth is never done, until we die.  So when you find yourself slipping into that place of finding flaws, screw the big girl panties, put on the black leather, ass-kicking, knee high, stiletto boots!

In other words, ask yourself – “What Would A Goddess Do?”  Seriously, have you ever seen or heard of a Goddess figure shrinking into self-judgment and finding fault in some non-existent flaws on her body or of her mind?  Hell No!  A Goddess knows she is a natural work of art.  She owns every aspect of her self.  So to help you dissolve any illusion and dance with the true beauty of you, I invite you to connect with a particular Goddess who represents what you want to embody.  I guarantee, if you truly open your heart and allow her to speak to you, she will answer your plea and help you rock your flawless life.

Here are three Goddess Archetypes that you might find helpful in your flawless journey.  At the end of each description, I have included an excerpt from a poem that is found associated with each Goddess in the wonderful Goddess Oracle deck by Amy Sophia Marashinsky.  It is my favorite Goddess deck and for a long while was out of print.  It is now back in print, so if you feel so guided, I highly suggest you snatch one up while you can.

lakshmi2 (2)Lakshmi – She is the Hindu Goddess of abundance, wealth and prosperity – both material and spiritual.  I particularly like this rendition of Lakshmi, by Hrana Janto as she is unapologetically depicted as a curvy, voluptuous woman.  What you may perceive as flaws actually represent an abundance of experience.  When you call upon this potent Goddess you not only invoke the essence of abundance but you also embody the power of what abundance represents in the natural world.  A forest that is abundant is thick with full, robust trees and plant life.  It overflows with growth and the uneven blemishes of natural fullness.  When we connect with Lakshmi we are connecting with an undeniable force of nature that proudly boasts inner wealth from a deeply beautiful perspective.

“I am the ever-flowing outpouring of plenty

the inexhaustible the never ending

from the fullness of my being

I give richly and opulently

I am everywhere and will never cease to be”

oshungold (2)Oshun – This Goddess is found in many African and Afro-Latino traditions.  She is the Goddess of water and is revered for her sensuality.  She loves to adorn herself with beauty.  In the spiritual traditions where she is found, the women who claim her as their Goddess move and dance in the most tantalizing and provocative ways.  They flow like water.  Oshun reminds us that every woman is beautiful when she owns and struts her unique gorgeousness.  By invoking Oshun you summon your divine gratification in the irrefutable, divine beauty of your very existence.

“Oh let me delight you with beauty

when your spirit from the stars connects in a blissful way

with your body from the earth, then you will know sensuality”

kuan yin1Kuan Yin – The lovely Chinese Buddhist bodhisattva of Compassion.  She is often referred to as the manifestation of the Divine Mother, serving similarly to Mother Mary.  It is said that she is so powerful that even the mention of her name will ease suffering and hardship.  What Kuan Yin blesses us with is the holy act of taking mercy and compassion on ourselves; loving each and every aspect of our body and mind.  She is soft and gentle much like a loving grandmother.  Her wisdom is a profound pathway to releasing our self harshness and unleashing the awareness that we can not be anything BUT beautifully flawless.

“I made the vow

and kept my word

I reached enlightenment

I am called The Compassionate One

She Whose Name Alleviates All Suffering”

Perhaps you have your own Goddess or other deity that you identify with to embrace your flawless imperfection.  What is important is that if you do find yourself getting caught up in the façade of perfection, you have resources and tools to help you return to truth.  Ask yourself “What Would A Goddess Do?”  Allow her to gently whisper into your heart and remind you of your innate holiness.  Your body is the temple you chose for this human adventure.  The way it is designed is not a mistake and the nicks and dings it accumulates along the way are sacred reminders of the growth you have achieved.  Perfection is nothing but a grand illusion.  Open yourself to flawless imperfection in all its divinity, for it is gorgeously raw, righteous, real beauty; in you, in me, in all of creation.

If you haven’t seen the movie Shirley Valentine, check it out.  I think it’s even on You Tube.  If you have, maybe its time to have a girl’s night movie party and revisit the levity of life.  Afterwards, it would be fun to share with each other your perceived flaws.  You’d be surprised how others don’t even see what you do.  Even better, they often see beauty that you might have been too distracted with the erroneous flaws to notice.

Lastly, let me share with you a great line from the movie…”Who would you rather be naked in front of, a room full of men or a room full of women?  A wise woman would say ‘men’ simply, because they would just be grateful.”  What do you think?

Get The Love You Want Right Now

 

I hate to sound cliché, but Whitney Houston said it best – “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”  Self love truly is the most important love to nourish, nurture and keep alive.  Because the bottom line is, if you don’t have self love, you don’t have real love – period!

truetoherselfWhether you are in a relationship or not, like attracts like.  There is no way around that universal law.  If you are letting that inner critic take control, you will inevitably attract to you that same unloving energy whether it is in the form of a lack of a partner, a partner who isn’t treating you the way you want, or the worst fate of all – a partner who is absolutely, undeniable wrong for you.

I heard Tony Robins once talk to a woman that was complaining about her husband who wasn’t stepping up to the plate.  It was a transformational experience for me to hear the words come out of his mouth.  I already knew intuitively the truth he was speaking, but I wasn’t living it at the time.  He was talking about the kind of woman men are really attracted too.  He said the single most attractive aspect of a woman is her joy.  He also pointed out that when a woman is happy and confident she is sexy as hell.  He admitted that men may be initially attracted to a woman for her looks and they may even pursue such a woman.  And once they get what their biology was asking for, they can no longer sustain the attraction if the woman does not love herself, has some serious insecurity, or is just unhappy all the time.

This really clicked for me personally.  I suddenly realized how much I was complaining to my partner.  I also saw how I was projecting insecurities about myself that he didn’t even see.  I too am guilty of letting that inner critic take over.  But after being reminded of this profound truth, I decided to try an experiment.

That day when I saw my lover I decided to just be happy and not complain. I decided I was beautiful and sexy no matter what; with or without makeup, skinny or fat. I decided to nurture him and really give him the kind of love I wanted returned.  Instead of getting upset about something I would normally complain about, I recognized its insignificance and let it go.  Well the law of attraction did not let me down.  As the days went on and I continued to abstain from complaining or projecting insecurity, our relationship really began to flourish.  It was not that it was falling apart before hand, but complacency was setting in.  We needed a boost and with my simple tweak of attitude we were back on track and deeply enjoying one another.  And, he was automatically inspired to pick up the slack I was complaining about in the first place.

Now this phenomenon does not need a romantic relationship to have an effect on your life.  The truth is, to even keep up with such a loving attitude you must first and foremost be affectionate towards yourself.  You cannot give from an empty cup right?  The secret to getting the love you want is first giving it to yourself.

If you are not in a romantic relationship, watch how the self-love law of attraction takes shape in your life.  I’m not saying you are guaranteed to manifest the perfect partner, but I promise you WILL attract really good things, people and situations because self love surrounds you. It’s unavoidable. And with all that awesome, loving ju ju in your aura you will either attract the right partner OR feel fulfilled enough to be ok with your single status.

self-love-childThere are three real simple keys to creating and maintaining self love.  The first key to self love is Loving Self Talk.  As much as you would like to bitch slap that inner critic, what she is crying out for is love.  Just like a child that is not getting any attention, she will get louder and louder without that love.  So, you have to create an inner admirer, cheer leader and lover.  You have to talk to youself like you are the most adorable creature to walk this earth.  Call yourself cute little names – names that would make you feel good if someone said them to you.  For example, when the inner critic begins to critique your weight or some other aspect of your looks, counter her with an inner voice that sounds something like this “lovey, sweetie, beautiful girl…YOU ARE AMAZING!  You are absolutely stunning just as you are.  Are you kidding me, there are people who would kill for what you have.  You are beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.”  Apply that same loving voice to ANY situation.  The point is to love-talk yourself all the time!

The second key to self love is Say No First.  So often we find ourselves overwhelmed with so much on our plate that we don’t have time for our own nurturing.  One of the holist things we can do for ourselves is say no.  It is much easier to say yes after the fact if we find we actually have time to do something, but saying no first keeps us from feeling resentful later when we have taken on too much. If you’re like me, you hate canceling on someone or saying no after you have said yes.  We want to be able to do everything, but if we are really honest with ourselves we will see that “everything” may be more than we can handle with grace.

Multitasking is over rated indeed.  When we multitask we are actually not giving 100% of our energy to any one thing, spreading ourselves too thin and not accomplishing anything to its fullest potential.  Taking on one task at a time and saying no to anything that will take us away from what is truly important saves us sanity in the long run.  Avoiding depletion and keeping ourselves well nourished – body, mind and spirit is the greatest gift that we can give to those we love, and more importantly, our own wellness and the wellbeing of our psyche.  When presented with a decision on saying yes or no, ask yourself this one question:  Will this bring me closer to my purpose or goal or drive me farther away from it?

The third key is regularly checking in with yourself and asking “What do I really want right now.”  Especially if you are overextended or stressed out and find yourself complaining.  Take a moment to get quiet, take a breath and ask yourself “Baby girl, what do you REALY want right now.  What is your soul asking for?”  Then give it to yourself!  No playing martyr, no pushing through – nourish yourself for Pete’s sake because if you don’t, no one will!  Even if you have a time constraint, you better well make a promise to nurture yourself before the end of the day and keep that promise.

I once asked myself that question and the answer was “cookie dough.”  I asked three times thinking that can’t be right.  There is nothing nourishing about cookie dough, or so I thought.  But at the time I had been eating uber healthy and was a day or two from starting my cycle.  And sometimes, you have to indulge.  The princess in you needs to be seen and heard.  So, I put on some trash TV and had me some cookie dough.  That one naughty indulgence didn’t kill me.  But honestly, you won’t get an answer like that all the time.  Much of the time what you’ll hear is “I need a good meal, a hot bath, to sit in the garden, to go to the beach, to just veg out!”  What is important is to tune in, listen and honor yourself.

self-love-womanSo those are the three keys to self love that will unleash the love you want RIGHT NOW.    And self love is the ultimate producer of overall happiness.  Self love creates happy relationships because you come into them whole.  Screw Jerry McGuire and the whole “you complete me” thing.  That is a crock of crap!  You are the only one ever capable of completing you.  You own the power!

So for Valentines Day, even if you are in a relationship and celebrating, I encourage you to do something pleasurable for yourself.  Remember – Everyone Benefits From A Gratified Woman!  Oh and my men out there…not only will you thank me for sharing this with your gal, but these same principals apply to you.  So everyone go spread some sweet juicy love all over yourself.  And then share below how you did that.  It inspires us all when we read about how someone let loose their inner love bug.

 

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