what makes your soul sing?

Today marks my 45th trip around the sun. Whoa!

This year I’ve tried to think about how to celebrate by focusing on what is really important to me, based on my own experience of what I know makes me truly happy, content, and living with a sense of purpose. Here’s a few of the things I’ve lined up, and why. I hope it helps you create more moments of meaningfulness in your life!

After all – life is too short to be spending most of your time doing shit you don’t want to be doing

TIME IN THE MOUNTAINS WITH GOOD FRIENDS

Today I’m going to spend time outdoors with a group of wild woman I love. Tomorrow I leave for a backpacking trip through the Sierra Nevada in California, with a dear friend of mine. Mountain time is important. Friends are important.

We’re heading to the east side, where there’s a slip fault and the mountains shoot straight up from the valley floor. I don’t like hiking in trees that much because I love vast, open views, so the east side of the Sierra feels just right to me. You get above treeline after some serious effort up steep slopes – and it’s well worth it. This place and it’s abundant granite are where my soul feels most content.

I had first wanted to spend tonight eating oysters and drinking champagne with my friends, which I definitely also love – but those things don’t make my soul sing. I want to spend my precious time doing what makes my soul sing, and today my soul wanted mountains (maybe after the hike, the oysters and champagne will take front seat;)

Do you have a place where you feel absolutely at peace and magical? Where is that? How can you spend more time there? How could you possibly…live there? A place where you feel free, where you can adventure (your way) and feel alive, is essential.

Do you have a friend who deeply understands you? Who makes you feel good about yourself? Who is easy to listen to and give generously to – and who gives back? How can you spend more time with them? How can you find someone like that – or build a tribe of more people like that? Your success and happiness are largely correlated with the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose wisely.

YOGA

After I write this, I am heading to yoga. It’s one of the few things in my life that has remained a constant source of support and rejuvenation. I took my first class at UC Santa Cruz when I was 18, and have never looked back.

What is a reliable source of nourishment – body and soul – for you? How can you tap into this more often?

Spend more time on what’s important. You need to schedule it. Prioritize it. Only then will it happen.

MEDITATION

Whether I like to admit it or not, my ability to be kind, present, patient and generous is largely dependent on how much energy I put into my spiritual practice (and not just reading spiritual books). A huge part of that is meditation. The times when I’ve been most proud of how I showed up in the world have been when I have made the time to meditate – especially when doing this Tonglen meditation I learned when I was 19 years old (this is a link to a guided meditation I did with a group on a retreat I led at Breitenbush in Oregon).

I think meditation works for me because of the way it helps me pause before reacting in a way that’s not in alignment with how I want to be in the world, and how it helps me step back and get perspective on what is really going on – seeing things as they are, without the drama and story I create around them. Tonglen in particular helps to heal painful relationships for me – and this is often a source of much of our suffering. It helps me feel more genuine compassion and love – even for people I may not be feeling warm and fuzzy about.

What helps you show up to be the best version of yourself? What helps you be more compassionate, loving, kind, and generous? Do that. You’ll always be glad you showed up as a good person.

TIME WITH FAMILY (I wouldn’t have said this 20 years ago)

I’ve had a complicated history around my family. Once I turned 18, I couldn’t wait to leave the chaos and abuse of my younger years, moving out shortly after my birthday that year. Later, I was able to heal my relationships with my parents and with the neighborhood that brought me so much stress and violence. Not too long ago, my relationship with my mother got complicated again, and then she died. It was bad timing, but death is known for that.

This is my first birthday without my mother, who is the one and only person who never, ever forgot to wish me a happy birthday. I miss her dearly. I wish I had been able to show up better, to meditate more, work less, be more patient. But alas, I was struggling with postpartum depression and having to provide for my family as the primary breadwinner – a new and sleep-deprived mom – during her last years.

I’m only human, and I’m sure as hell not perfect. But I do see the importance of cultivating a loving family that feels good to come home to, and showing up for them in a way I can feel proud of. I’m trying my best. I brought my kiddo to camp late today so we could cuddle longer and share kisses and eat capers and lox together and walk at a leisurely pace, stopping to check out the fireweed blooms. I’ll spend more time with her and my husband after I get my massage this afternoon;)

I’m also going to try to forgive and let go of the shit that keeps me from loving fully.

It’s too heavy a burden.

Who is the “family” you are choosing to create? You get to choose many of them now that you’re all grown up.

Are you happy in your community? Are you showing up like you want to for your loved ones?

If you died today, would you have said what you needed to say to the people you care about? Do you need to cut the energetic cord between you and another person?

DANCING WILDLY

Dancing in the only thing missing from my agenda for today that would totally make me happy, so I’ve scheduled it for when I get back from my backpacking trip. I’m not talking ecstatic dance at 9am or salsa classes after dinner. I’m talking thumping sweating jumping head-banging spinning howling bring it on electronica latin club ska hip hop anything that’s got good rhythm with my ladies yet by myself in the middle of the dance floor appearing so wild that no one dare come near me kind of dancing. I can’t wait!

These are some of the relatively small things I’ve chosen to do, but they hold a lot of power for me.

I hope these ideas help you start moving towards a life that is more in alignment with who you are and what you want from this precious life. Life is too short for anything else.

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