*This post was originally written in September 2014.
Last weekend I drove into NYC from CT to meet and move with the ever exuberant and deeply soul-connected Liz DiAlto.
She’s the brilliant shining light behind Wild Soul Movement and the I Shine You Shine campaign, and she’s got women all around the world moving, shining, and connecting with one another while learning to honor the self and the body, uncovering the wisdom that we all carry within, together. I’ve been hooked on the joyful beauty in Liz’s message for about a year now, having stumbled upon her seemingly by accident, if you believe in such things. This is how perfectly random (but not at all) the thing that you need can find its way into your life: I have an email subscription to a couple of newsletters that share links to e-books on sale, and after downloading a bunch that I never actually read, I mostly just quickly skim them now before deleting. But on this one fortuitous day in early February of 2013, I skimmed past a picture of a woman jumping in the air with a cheeky, inviting expression on her face! Of course I stopped, and it was Liz’s Jumpstart: Kick off a Fitness Routine that Works for You! Always one for a motivational fitness read, I got it. When I started reading it, I was immediately drawn in by the voice Liz wrote in, and was eager to visit the link to the Facebook page she provided. I ended up getting in on her webinar series for the Willpower Sucks Program and the Complete Body Program with Sirena Bernal, explored pieces of her Enjoyment Rules challenge, and eventually landed in the Soul Movement Salon, a private online community for women “seeking safe and sacred space for connection and self-expression.” As Liz was making the transition from traditional physical trainer to soul sherpa (as we, her wild soul women, proclaim her), I was on my own path, finding my way, engaging with each new facet of her work as I worked on myself.
I truly believe that when you are ready, the right thing will show itself, and all there is to do is notice, listen, and engage. Or recognize each breadcrumb and follow it to the next.
Just about 11 months ago to the day, I made my introductory post to the Soul Movement Salon community. Looking back, I see that my computer had crashed before my post went through, perhaps as a little spiritual test of my commitment. I mean, I had written a lot and who wants to write all that out again? But write it again I did, going out on a limb of faith and sharing with these strangers, as requested, the thing that I was most struggling with at the moment.
I admitted that I was ashamed of not working enough toward my future goals, and that for the first time in my life I was just feeling so meh, so under-whelmed and under-inspired.
I had gone through a three-year period of separation and divorce from my husband, and though it was the right thing, it was incredibly sad and I grieved it for even longer than I had expected to.
And I just couldn’t pull myself up out of the daily blah of existing and getting by, becoming someone who prays for Friday and weeps at Sunday night, made worse by how much my inner groove and glow was repelled by living that kind of a life.
Flash forward to now, and I feel invigorated by the steps I’ve been taking and continue to take toward those future goals of mine, one of which is evidenced in the existence of this blog. I feel more like myself than I have in years, past the grief and sadness and energetically bubbling with possibilities, hope, and action.
When I re-read that first post the other day, I was startled. I had managed to actually forget what a state I had been in last year, and that, for me, is a true indicator of the real progress I’ve made.
Now to be clear, even in the thick of it, I didn’t have a bad life. I had a great job, even if I felt constrained by it at times. I had amazing family and friends, even if I felt like I needed a lot of healing time on my own. I had known and felt great love, even if I was feeling a bit lonely just then. I still laughed a lot, even if the laughs felt superficial in a way, like they were born at the surface, springing from smiles on my skin and not from down deep in the space of my soul belly core, like I remembered that they could.
I didn’t feel horrible, but for me that middle ground of ambivalence and mild disconnect was worse than any anger, devastation, or inconsolable sadness; I’m a feeler through and through, and to be in a place where I didn’t really feel all that much rubbed my spirit raw and achy.
Participation in the Soul Movement Salon and the group for Wild Soul Movement members gave me a safe space to talk through concerns and get insight from others, let me see that I was certainly not alone in my issues, and let me feel the joy of connection.
In particular, it was so enriching to connect over a shared issue or interest with people who had no artificial reason to interact – they weren’t obligated by family or work ties, they just felt a bond, a resonation, and wanted to share.
I’ve made some great friends this way, a few of whom I’ve already met in real life, and whether or not we’ve actually met, the slight degree to which we know each other in terms of facts and stats of life reflects nothing of the striking depth of our conversations or online post interactions. Our souls recognize soul kin. That is a true gift to experience. At a time when I was not feeling romantic connections with anyone I had been meeting, it was so fulfilling to connect platonically with like spirits, just by expressing the truth of myself – the things that we don’t often say in the company of those we mix with day to day, in those places where we don’t want to expose our true tender heart to blustery skepticism and judgment. It felt good to feel heard and understood, and to support others – to share love and support freely, without worrying that it would make me seem less serious or professional or world-wise somehow.
Also integral to the way participation in the online community helped me is that I could hop on and connect whenever I had a spare minute, without scheduling, showering, or any pressure to stay longer than I could. I think that was key to helping me pull out from the muck; it wasn’t an ordeal of planning, getting presentable, traveling and parking, buying and bringing food and beverage, all of which can be seriously burdensome when you are borderline depressed and utterly self-conscious. I’ve participated in all three of Liz’s I Shine You Shine experiences, which entailed making posts on Facebook in response to prompts around body love, joy, self-trust, and shining our lights like Marianne Williamson urges us so eloquently to do in her book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.