The Hungry Desire Within

You know how sometimes you have a desire for something but it never feels important enough. There are a million other things more urgent or valuable on the to-do list, like the practical, the rational, the immediate. You don’t plan for it or include it in your immediate plans – except it never goes away. It’s in the back of your mind, hungry but shy, like a forgotten stepchild. A desire that’s always there, always hungry – and it never gets fed.

Singing has been that desire for me. I can say that I love singing. I sing along to the radio while driving. Sing while dancing. Associate songs with feelings and sentimental moments. And I have never took singing seriously.

This past weekend, a friend was playing his guitar and he asked me if I wanted to sing something. I felt a rush of heat on my face, so much that I burst out laughing, unable to contain the sensation of excitement sprinkled with fear. “Yes”, I said, “I want to sing”.

I took a breath. I let out a sound. My voice came out of my throat, shallow and scratchy, weak and hesitant – and definitely under-powered. I was consistently missing the melody, mixing up the notes, the tune, everything. My friend supported me, guiding me where I was falling, holding the space, making it fun. We played.

And then he said, “Scream it at the top of your lungs”. I felt this deep constriction in my chest. I wanted to pull away and abandon the game. The ‘I can’t do it’ voice was about to highjack the entire experience. I do not scream.

Instead, I took another breath and I pushed my voice out – out of my gut, from the depth of my being.

My voice felt loud. Big. Too big for the room, for him. He gently affirmed me: “You are doing good.”
I kept going. I no longer wanted to hold back. I was screaming and it felt good. My voice came out with power, and with it came the melody. I relaxed into it and something shifted. I felt a taste of freedom.

This freedom – to sing, to express myself – is the antithesis to the way I have lived my life, the only way I knew how. I hushed my voice in public. I held back my truth and my desires – because they could hurt me. I was a “big” child growing up – a lot of emotions, powerful emotions. Too much for my parents to handle and approve. Too uncomfortable for my peers. I was told I am too much and that I needed to calm down and act normal. I was told I want too much. And I felt I was too much in school. In middle school, I sang in the choir – because we all had to – and I hid behind the better singers. Both success and failure meant attention so I just slipped by, unnoticed, avoiding it all. I became the girl without a voice.

I learned that was the way to be in the world. I learned to hold back my voice. I judged it the way my parents did – it’s too much. And I never permitted myself to express it. It withered away, like a muscle not used, until it was a whisper. And the cost was high – with it went my whole being.

But the desire burned on the inside. And it was more than a desire to sing. It was a desire to express myself – through music and words, through emotions and voice. I was hungry for self expression. I was hungry to regain that voice that I gave up – and in a sense, to find the woman that I gave up on a long time ago.

It was no surprise that I sang in harmony. It was no surprise that I held back from singing gutterally. And it was no surprise that my powerful voice shone through when I sang from my core.

This was a profound experience with a deeper meaning for me than merely learning to carry a tune. I realized how much I’ve lived in the background, like a support singer. How I shied away from projecting my voice and my truth. And how much power – in my voice and in my life – I really carry when I sing and act from my core.

I was cracked open. I felt my power. And I saw possibilities.

I saw this pattern flash in front of my eyes – how I keep my voice down, how I hide in many areas of my life. Work, relationships, sex. Seeing this pattern is allowing me to understand myself – why things happened in a certain way in my life, and more importantly, how I can be who I want to be and go where I want to go.

Those desires that we hide in the back of the closet are powerful – they hold a message about who we are.Trust these desires, and they will tell you what you need. They are an expression of your uniqueness and potential that is waiting to break free.

When I sang from deep inside, it was pure me to the core: feminine, powerful, dark. I felt free to be. The singer is out of the closet, and there is no turning back.

"No" Is No Longer an Option

When it comes to living out my dreams, “no” is no longer an option. When it comes to asking for what I desire, “no” to myself is no longer an option. When it comes to giving myself permission to fail, “no” is no longer an option. When it comes believing in myself, “no” is no longer an option.

For a long time, saying “no” was the default. It was my answer to everything. To having fun. To playing. To being imperfect. To failing. To trying new things. To being uncomfortable. To doing what I wanted. To asking for what I needed. To being myself. To saying what I needed to say.

Then someone pointed it out to me, point blank in the face: “you say no before you say yes“. It was poignant – and it hit me straight in the gut. I was guilty as hell.

I started to become aware of my self-talk, painfully aware. I started noticing all the places where I said “no” to myself – and it was everywhere. I observed myself wanting to say something in a conversation and shutting myself up with “I cannot say that“. I noticed how thoughts and ideas come up in my mind, and I smother them with all the reasons why they will fail. Little things, such as a new project at work or doing something with a friend. I noticed how quickly and easily I say “no” before I say “yes” – to myself.

I have always been my toughest judge and critic, and I held myself against the highest standards – perfection. I wanted needed to be perfect and to do perfect. In the eyes of society. In the eyes of my parents. In the eyes of my peers and lovers. Perfection required discipline: denying my true desires and acting in a way that would get me approval. It required curating my every word to make sure I came off smart, polished, polite and perfect. I ran everything I did and said through a filter. And it sapped me of all my energy.

“The longer you stay in a place that’s not totally in line with your desire, the more expensive it becomes.”
~ wise words from a friend

In effect, in denying ourselves and our true desires, we affirm our own death. The death of who we genuinely are and the gifts of what we bring to the world. In self-denial, we discard who we are for the sake of who we should be.

And I found the cost too high to bear. I had lived my life in total self-denial. Denial of who I am and all the things that make me unique – my thoughts, ideas, quirks and imperfections. By worrying so much about how I came across to others, I had run dry. Dry on energy to do what I love. Dry on relating with others and true intimacy. Dry on wanting to live.

So I am running an experiment on my life – a completely different way of living than I know how. A life-affirming way that celebrates who I am.

I am choosing to live from a place of “yes”. I am choosing to live from desire and approval of who I am and what I have to contribute. I am choosing to live in acceptance of whatever comes up for me – a thought, desire or intention – without curation or filtering. I am choosing to experiment with how life would be different if I let myself be who I am, raw and unfiltered.

I am choosing to affirm my life. So how will it be for me to live from a place of “yes”? How will the world respond if I show up fully as myself?

If you’d like to experiment with me, start by noticing when you say “no” to yourself. Notice when you don’t give yourself permission to desire or want or ask for what you need. And ask yourself, what is the cost?

I Am Done Waiting to Be Ready

am done waiting to be ready. I am done waiting to get everything perfect. I am done waiting to be perfect. I am going live.

May 20 2012 was the original launch date of this blog. The closer I got to the day, the more pressure I put on myself to get it right. The less the words flowed. The further I got past the date, the more scathing and self-loathing the inner voice became. I shut down and the words stopped.

The blog I envisioned was going to be perfect. The words were going to flow and the prose was going to be lyrical. Then the writer’s block hit. Then the fears of no one reading the blog. The voices started getting louder. I fell pray to their arguments: I cannot do this; my words are not interesting enough. And then the ultimate defeat: I questioned the dream of starting the blog in the first place. What’s the point – who am I to share my life story?

My inner critic was partnering with the idealist in my head – and I was letting them both win. I spent months dismantling a deep desire to share my experience and learnings with the world, a dream that still sends electricity down my body. A desire that’s deeply connected to my purpose in life.

I give birth to this dream – and I was killing the mere possibility of it. I was getting in my own way. It’s a pattern of thought that has realized itself over and over in every corner of my life. I have deep, body shattering desire, and I get energized. I go into planning mode, designing how the outcome will be. I get attached: “It will be perfect and grand,” I say to myself.

Then something does not go according to plan. It always does: writer’s block, discouraging comments, a missed deadline, and on and on. I start using these failures as evidence that my desire was not good enough in the first place. And I blame myself: I am just not good enough to carry this dream out.

Thought by thought, I destroy what I had been deeply wanting. I smother the fire that’s been burning inside of me. I dismantle what is possible for me.

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And then it hit me. These realizations seem to always “hit” me. I have been complicit in idealization and self sabotage. I listened to the voices and let them drown out my desire.

It all became clear, and I knew what I needed to do. I am done waiting waiting for the blog to be perfect. I am done waiting for me to be perfect. I am going with my gut feeling that I am ready to go live with this blog. I am trusting my desire that this is what I want and it is right for me. In whatever happens will be a lesson.

It was not easy writing this, but it was easier. I focused on what I had been wanting in the first place: to share my journey with the world and to live out my life purpose. I want to free myself and release others from the different ways we get in the way of achieving our dreams and what is possible for each and every one of us. I may not get it “right” the first time or the hundredth, but I am willing to try.

And honestly, I could not have designed this more perfectly: a lesson about possibilities helping me launch my blog about opening up to possibilities.

The lesson: I watched myself get caught in idealism and expectations, nearly killing my dream. I got in my own way.

Idealism seems like the right thing to do – we are taught to live according to our ideals and to do the best we can. But it’s tricky. Idealism is narrow-minded and rigid, like a train running on a single set of tracks. There is little room for failure and learning from mistakes – it’s all good or it’s a derailment, and nothing in between. And that immobilized me for months. Cynicism was running not too far behind – when things did not go according to expectation, I made sweeping conclusions that the world is just a rotten place and that I am just not good enough for this.

“Scratch the surface of most cynics and you find a frustrated idealist — someone who made the mistake of converting his ideals into expectations.”
~ Peter Senge

I know why I wanted this blog to be about possibilities. Possibilities open up when we let go of the attachment to the outcome, when we trust our desires and intuition that what we are doing is important. A knowing that my desire is not wrong, my dreams are valid – and that it will take a lot of learning and resilience to keep going. It’s about trusting that process and that things will work out in the end. It’s about focusing your energy on doing your part right – the part that’s coming from your heart and is driven by your intentions, and letting go of outcomes. Let the Universe take care of that.

Possibilism is about awareness and living life with intention – conscious and true to our desires and hearts. It’s about designing life around these principles. At face value, it may seem that it’s about lowering standards. And it’s just the opposite – you are raising your standards when everything you do is done at the highest level of your integrity, at whatever lever you are. Being the best that you can be without worrying about what others thing or will accept. Being gentle on yourself as you are learning – and we’re all learning every day.

In publishing this blog, I realized that what is possible starts with my commitment to my desire – it’s the fuel and the energy that keeps me going on the journey.

“Let hope inspire you, but let not idealism blind you.”
~ Don Henley

This blog is about possibilities – about opening up to failure and learning and not being blinded by a specific outcome. It’s about growing into the person I want to be, and that starts with following my desires. And so the blog goes live. Let the journey begin.