And the winner of the Mrs. Party Mom Pageant is… Emily’s shadow side! (cue the crown and the tears.)

Last Friday night I really kicked up my heels. Somewhere deep down, my moxie was rising and a well-timed girls night set off the eruption. Absinthe, wine, gin…woo hooooo! Let’s just say that, had I been competing in the Mrs. Party Mom pageant, I totally would’ve won.

In fact, I won so huge that my inhibitions loosened enough for me to give my girlfriends an extemporaneous reading from my future tell-all autobiography. Historically, this seems to be what I do when I drink too much. (Aside: Perhaps you have something unsavory you notice about yourself when you’ve had too much to drink? Or even when you’re sober, but just not at your best?) I spilled every insidious story I could conjure–no specifics here; you have to get me drunk first. By purging myself of a few deep-down details, in my drunken state, I thought I’d somehow be free of their weight. I hoped I would be accepted despite them.

Blessings on my friends, because they are indeed an accepting bunch. However, instead of feeling free, it turns out I dredged my stuff only to feel it—hard—by the light of the next day. When I woke up at 10 in the morning because my immeasurably wondrous, and obviously majestically understanding, husband let me sleep in, my interior monologue unfolded something like this:

Wow, I was pretty drunk last night. That was so fun—wait, uh oh. I think I told them about that time I—why did I tell them that? Now they probably think I’m such a— What do they think of me now? I hope I didn’t offend anyone. I was saying whatever was on my mind, and that’s never good. I hope no one thinks I’m a horrible person. Oh shit. What if they do?! Oh, God, please make this awful feeling go away. Oh no! There was that random guy who was dancing with my friend and then sat down and I started talking to him about God and I’m pretty sure I attempted to give him a psychic reading. I’m so dumb. Why did I let myself lose control?

The feeling of overexposure took its place as a terrible beast sitting in my gut. Heavy. Depressing. Churning. Shame. The beast of shame rolled to meet my gaze and suddenly looked familiar. What do they think of me? Them, them, them. Ah! We meet again, old foe. You, my mortal enemy, were the voice that always prevented me from flying by asking, “But what will they think?” I defeated you weeks, months, maybe years ago. It was a grueling battle, but all that remained of your voice was the echo. Why have you returned, guns blazing?

And the voice replied: Because you have not yet accepted your own shadow. 

My old foe stepped forward into the light and I saw that it was God:

Where there is light, there also is darkness. They coexist in this dualistic world. Neither is good or bad. It just is. I’m calling you to look at your dark sides and embrace them for what they are—a part of you. My child, do not hide who you are, even if it appears unsavory. Know thyself. Aspects of everyone’s karma and mental makeup cast shadows in their own light. I release you of all shame for revealing darkened sides of yourself, and I encourage you to accept all of who you are.

Standing in my kitchen, mid-task, with my mouth and the cabinet wide open, I felt lighter. Despite the fact that a.) I know it’s not good for my body to fill it with cocktails and deprive it of sleep, and b.) I technically broke my own vow (see my earlier post, “What? You mean drunk moms aren’t awesome?”), the suffocating shame from this Friday and a thousand Fridays was not rooted in my over-consumption of booze, but rather in my reliable tendency to drunkenly reveal darker sides of myself I haven’t yet examined, acknowledged and embraced.

Flying high on cocktails and candid girl talk, I delve into stories I’m traditionally too guarded to tell in sober daylight. From my days as a reckless sorority girl (YOLO!) to the present, an over-served Emily becomes a loose cannon. Then, when I wake the next day, I’m horrified at what might’ve come out of my mouth. On a more honest note, I’m afraid of what is actually inside of me. I’ve always tried to explain it away to myself that “drinking makes me someone I’m not.” Hold up, Princess. This is who you are and it’s high time you take a closer look at it.

What a relief! This is something I can face. Being charged with investigating my own shadows, feeling around in the pitch-black crevices of my consciousness, getting to know the darkened nooks and crannies of my whole self so that I may embrace my own complete nature… It’s a daunting assignment, and one that will surely require great attention, but at least it doesn’t have to be a battle any longer.

My wish for you: May you encounter your own shadows when the time is right, and may you feel completely supported and accepted for them in their revelation to you.

(Disclaimer: You can probably accomplish an investigation of your shadow side or the taming of your own shame with something other than absinthe and martinis. If I were to do the past few days all over again, I would probably choose prayer, meditation, therapy, devotional reading, chanting and a big hot bath. Just my two cents.)

Dingdadalingding: Your inner guidance is calling

We have a word for this sort of thing: Dingdadalingding. It’s onomatopoeia. Finger chimes and ankle bells, a sound swathed in incense.

My sister invented the term back when we were kids in Kansas, developing an awareness of feminine style, and we noticed that a certain kind of woman wore big dangly earrings in the early nineties. We called these earrings “dingdadalingdings.” At first, a synonym for dingdadalingding might have been “hippy,” and inherent in the term most certainly was “weird.” As our use of the word evolved, we employed it to define a broader aspect of out-there-ness, of a thing we didn’t understand. “Um, that sounds a little bit dingdadalingding to me…,” we might say. To me, it conjured a vision of a goofy, out-of-touch someone naively floating about a la la land of unfounded unreality, and we found it hilarious.

So, when my sister, who’s always had a mad sense of style, boldly started wearing dingdadalingding earrings years later, I made fun of her to no end. Joke was on me: After quietly tolerating my self-righteousness, as she has done so saintly in her life as my sister, she finally explained to me that dingdadalingdings were cool now and that I might want to start enjoying modern accessorizing, too.

The important stuff: My earring evolution

It’s hard to pinpoint when I passed the point of no return into my own version of la la land, but my sister’s endorsement of dangly earrings may have paved the way for me to fully embrace the dingdadalingding within. Much to my surprise, it’s a lovely and extraordinarily real reality. So, bear with me as I explain how, in true dingdadalingding fashion, you can open yourself to receiving divine guidance.

I mentioned in a past post that I’d learned how to connect with my spirit guides, and it’s the real deal. As blasphemous as the idea would’ve sounded to me up to one day before it first happened, the experience was so uplifting that I decided to keep having it.

Much like my love of pho from Tank Noodle (hidden within this smiley to-go bag), once I tasted the beauty of communicating with my spirit guides, I keep going back for more.

Vouched-for visions

I was lying on the massage table of Donna, the trusted Reiki Master and intuitive healer we see as a family, when she asked me, “What are you seeing right now?”

I saw myself standing in the middle of a misty clearing, a circular gathering place paved in ancient-looking grey cobblestone, with surroundings I couldn’t make out. Beyond the mist, it seemed, was a combination of dense evergreen forest, Hokusai-style mountains, and cottony clouds. From the mist, a beautiful woman, who I can best describe as a vision of divine motherly love, approached me, and I explained this to my energy healer. “Yep, that’s it. Keep going,” Donna coached. “Ask her who she is. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get her name, but ask. Then ask your question, out loud or just to yourself, and see what she says.” Without second-guessing myself, I silently asked her the question: “Why am I having this experience?” I knelt and she embraced me like the most loving mother you can imagine, filling my every cell with comfort, peace, love and joy. I then asked another question and followed with, “Please show me the answer in a way that I’ll understand.”

A scene too complicated to recount unfolded in my mind’s eye and, once it was finished, I knew what to do about my problem and why. I said thank you to this goddess, this divine feminine aspect of God, and then waited. The mist lifted, revealing a circle of great ones. I couldn’t discern faces at a glance, but they were all there specifically for me.

“Oh my gosh! Are you seeing this, too?” I asked Donna, who was standing beside me. “Is this really real?!”

“Oh, yes. It’s real. It’s as real as you lying on this table right now,” she said in her usual chipper cadence, more that of a choir director than of a stereotypical medium. “You just have to learn how to trust yourself. And believe.”

Charlie, finding his balance and practicing stillness on the nose of a concrete seal.

Believe it: Everyone has spirit guides

After several more sessions with Donna, in which she confirmed my sanity despite the various visions I’d had after my nightly meditation practice, I finally started to believe.

No matter your religious or spiritual path, the experience of tuning into your own source of divine wisdom is open to everyone. Buried right in the backyard of our own consciousness, we have all the answers we need. In moments of peace, guidance may come to you from your higher self, from angels, from saints of varying religions, from deceased loved ones, from wise ones in the spirit realm or other dimensions, from teachers and enlightened masters working together on your behalf from the other side or directly from God (or whatever you call that which is “It.”) This guidance comes by way of feelings, visions, new ideas, sudden thoughts and more and, in my experience, no matter how the message arrives, it’s accompanied by peace and unmistakable divine love.

Once you access the depths of your intuition, you will move more intentionally and confidently through life.

Before you brush this off, read this:

• If you’re skeptical about spirit guides, as I once was, think about a time when you experienced a sense of knowing that seemed to appear from nowhere. Perhaps you even felt the presence of angels, Jesus, Mary, Kuan Yin, the Buddha or even God Himself. Maybe you had a brush with danger followed by relief and gratitude, or a breathtakingly beautiful moment that brought tears of joy to your eyes and a palpable connection to the Universe. Or maybe you felt something “happened for a reason,” or you suddenly felt like a deceased friend or relative was right there with you. All of those experiences involve the intersection of your highest self and divine inspiration. That divine inspiration comes from your team of guides, which includes the avatars of your personal spiritual path. This is truth.

• No question or need is too selfish or trivial. As a divine child of God, it is your birthright to access the wisdom and the abundance of the universe. [If you tend to feel guilty “bothering” God with your insignificant whims, know that a.) God wants you to channel Spirit in everything you do, no matter how small seeming, and b.) If your request is not in line with spiritual law, it will not manifest.] Everyone can communicate with his or her guides. And, once you do, the connection is open and you can contact them whenever you want, for whatever you need. For example, you can ask them for insight on whether to take that job, how to handle a health issue that’s cropped up, what you need to learn from a difficult relationship or where you should go to find a particular item you need at the price you can afford. Nothing is off the table.

Kip, soaring

Tuning in with your Guidance, a quick how-to:

  1. Do whatever you like to do to calm your mind, body and spirit. By cultivating inner and outer stillness, you access the higher vibration needed to communicate with Spirit. I practice the Self-Realization Fellowship meditation exercises, but find what works for you.
  2. Ask for protection. A couple ideas: “God, please give me the protection I need now. And so it is. Thank you.” Or, “In the name, through the power and by the word of Jesus Christ (or your preferred avatar), a wall of living flame is built round about me and I give thanks for this great protection now.”
  3. Close your eyes and look into your mind’s eye—the seat of spirituality in the forehead, just above the spot between the eyebrows—and ask your question. Focus on your breath as you wait for an answer to come to you.
  4. Be an observer. If you see something or someone, don’t worry about explaining it; just be thankful. You may see a scene as from a movie. You may “hear” words spoken to you. You may just suddenly know something. You may feel a sudden emotion. You may experience all or none of this. Just open yourself to the beauty and empowerment of receiving divine guidance in however it manifests.
  5. If you have difficulty trusting the experience or actually seeing one evolve at all, I suggest trying this exercise: Meditate. Then open your laptop or journal. Close your eyes. Ask a question. Write everything that comes to you (visions, words, ideas, pictures, people, names, symbols, etc.) Keep writing until you feel there’s nothing left to write. Close your journal or laptop and take a moment to notice how you’re feeling. Are you stirred up or peaceful? Are you anxious or more confident than before you sat down? Are you feeling more grounded, or a little wobbly? Are you overcome with emotion? Are you energized or exhausted? Are you feeling the sensation of fear or love? Notice how you’re feeling, but don’t judge it either way; it’s just a feeling. Sleep. The next day or night, re-read your stream of consciousness. Do you have any answers? If not, don’t be discouraged, and keep trying because your guides are there for you regardless of whether you heard them this time. If you did uncover the guidance you were seeking, a huge hooray for you. Meditate, then repeat.

A final note: Trust yourself. Intuition starts with imagination, so cut yourself loose and trust yourself. Unless you’re surrounded by intuitive friends, or you have your own version of Donna, no one in your daily life is going to validate your experience for you. In fact, they may think you’re loopy, or worse. Your communications with your guides are spiritual gifts just for you and, although you’ll be tempted to share because it’s so exciting, until you’re confident in the truth of your own experience, tread lightly on the topic with those of whose support you’re not certain. Endless love and blessings to you in your journeys.

Amma, a year after the hug

On the walk between from the pizza place to the ice cream shop one afternoon this week, I spotted a poster advertising the Chicago visit from Amma, sometimes known as the “hugging saint.” The boys and I veered over to check it out. She was in town, and leaving the next day, so we would miss seeing her. “Oh, I remember Amma! She’s here?” Charlie asked. “Again? Does she just travel around everywhere hugging all the people?”

Yes, as a God-realized master living as an embodiment of the Divine Mother (my impression of her) that’s exactly what she does. (www.amma.org) So, being that we saw her almost exactly a year ago, it seems fit to post the journal entry I wrote following our encounter with Amma. The impact from seeing her has been surprisingly profound and, for the record, wondrously lasting.

Written July 3, 2011:

I’ve always wanted to meet a master, someone who lives in the material world and has God coursing through his or her veins. My guru is no longer living, so although the experience of his presence is very much alive in meditation, I’m intrigued by the idea of a hands-on encounter with a God-realized master, in the flesh. I finally had my chance last week and, surprisingly, the moment of meeting her and receiving a hug from her paled in intensity compared to the experience of simply being there. The hug was cool, but I didn’t feel much at the time.

However, the love in that ballroom! The huge space was filled with hundreds of people wearing the most honest smiles I’ve ever seen in bulk. Every gaze I met was returned, magnified with love and peace. I arrived intending to buy lunch and eat with the boys while we waited for our darshan (blessing), but I had no desire to eat after five minutes in the room—the energy was so amplified that food became inconsequential. Also, I didn’t feel tired, which was shocking to me, as I’ve been exhausted for three straight years. Charlie, 3, intently watched Amma hugging people on the video screen and Kip, 1, stared at the musicians performing the kirtan (devotional chanting with music.)

When we finally met Amma, I kneeled before her and my hand started shaking on the armrest, but apart from the unexpected current of energy flowing presumably from her to me and surfacing in the twitch of my right hand, I didn’t feel much else during my darshan with Amma. Someone had grabbed my two children from me and, although I saw her wrap Kip in her left arm, I had no cognition of Charlie sitting on Amma’s lap beside me until a new friend recounted what he’d seen on the screen during our hug. I inhaled her heady aroma (Was it jasmine? Was it gardenia? Was it rose?), I listened to her repeat “My daughter, my daughter, my daughter” over and over again, and I felt her pull me so tight, so close and, I think, maybe kiss my two kids before shoving three Hershey’s Kisses in my palm and releasing us to her handlers, who abruptly lead us to a nearby spot on the rug so we could sit in Amma’s presence.

I didn’t feel like the woman sobbing in meditation on the floor beside me. Nor was I as sweetly ecstatic as the man who’d ushered my boys and me to the front of the line when he saw the kids growing impatient and unruly. Nor did I feel compelled to buy devotional photos or jewelry blessed by her. In fact, directly after our hug, the boys started melting down simultaneously so, embarrassed, I whisked them off to the stroller and made a beeline for the door.

But now, a week later, I sense a smoothing of myself. I feel a strange new inclination to love on contact and without condition, and this love magically extends beyond my own dear ones. I’m still unsure of how to explain it, but say I encounter a checker at the grocery store. I’ve always been one to strike up a conversation pretty much everywhere I go, but now it’s different. Now I actually feel love for the checker. As yet, I’m not going around telling strangers I love them, although I personally had tears in my eyes when the elderly woman in the walker told me and my boys she loved us seconds after we shook her hand last weekend. Still, I’m not 90 yet, so people would just think me crazy if I went around verbally declaring love for all. And if I am a little crazy, so what? Because, so far, this crazy feels crazy good.

However, the really inexplicable thing is the new way I find myself interacting with children. Almost as soon as I make eye contact with a child I’ve never met—it seems to happen with kids of any age from about one to 10—the child smiles. I hope I’m not jinxing it because it’s the hugest joy I’ve probably ever experienced. Going way back, I’ve always felt like I’ve had to work really hard to get kids to like me. I wasn’t ever shiny and beautiful enough to attract young people’s attention without some effort. And now, I’m not exaggerating, when I lock eyes with a child, I feel like I know that child, I honest-to-God love that child and that child smiles back at me with the radiance of a thousand lit candles.

The sheer overnight transformation into one who experiences instant love for almost everyone I meet, well, it feels like nothing short of a miracle. I still have a long road ahead as far as weeding out my judginess, but at least this is a sign that it’s in process.

I don’t know why this is happening or how to explain it rationally, but I do know that a.) It began right after receiving a hug from Amma, and b.) I’ve pondered it following meditation and, as a result, I attribute this new gift of a more loving me to the blessings I received from God, Jesus, my gurus and, yes, Amma, that day in the gigantic suburban hotel ballroom teeming with smiling devotees. So, instead of trying too hard to explain it, I choose to feel gratitude.

On narcissism and blog-silencing inner transitions

I’ve broken from blogging because, yes, I’ve been busy, but the story of how “busy” unfolds for me has two parts:

Part 1

The act of writing about my innermost experiences and feelings has felt narcissistic to me. In this age of immediate feedback, posting means, right away, I can gauge my success on how many people are reading it, where people are reading it and how many of my girlfriends “like” it on Facebook. I don’t condone defining my success by these metrics, yet I found myself checking my stats too often, looking at Facebook too many times a day, feeling ashamed of writing personal tales and just generally not living in the present moment on days I posted.

The act of being present is all important as I navigate my quest for higher consciousness, so I needed time to figure out how to stay connected with spirit and with my family while also continuing my quest to get comfy putting myself out there. The formula for this was lost on me. And then I went to a wedding last weekend in Laguna Beach. My college friend, Lindsay, married a fantastic guy and I was surrounded by a raucous bunch of fabulously, delightfully LA-ish wedding guests, a couple of whom are close friends pursuing burgeoning careers in the acting/writing/entertainment industry. Amid the land of people who fearlessly put themselves out there, something clicked.

And so, magically, after diving into profound conversations with old friends and swimming in the Pacific (nothing like giving way to the waves to bring perspective), blogging doesn’t feel narcissistic to me today.

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Part 2

The second reason for my blogging silence: I’ve been going through inner mega changes and haven’t figured out how to write coherently about them yet. I’ll figure out how to report on it at some point, but I’ve needed to live deep in the moment of these changes without editing them. I’ll write more soon about each point, respectively, but this is a glimpse of what I’ve been up to since my last post:

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a. I’ve completely changed my relationship with food, and with myself. For those who know me well, they know I’ve long struggled with why, how, when and what I choose to eat, and with how I see myself, physically, as a result. I still can’t eloquently explain it because it’s too close, but I’m newly freed of emotional attachments to food choices, I’m highly aware of the physical effects different foods have on me and, for once, I’m capable of being unemotionally discerning in my choices. It feels miraculous to me. And so free.

b. I took a tele class on the joy of money (given by Alicia Isaacs Howes, spiritual “coach” and healer extraordinaire) and uncovered far more about myself and my relationship with God and the universe than has to do with just money. It was liberating and a little painful at times, and it was just the push I needed to recognize some things within, and to release them so the higher, lighter, freer Emily could emerge. (her emergence is still in progress, by the way.)

c. This is a big one, and it’s plenty “out there.” I’ve stumbled into being able to communicate with my spirit guides. It started during a visit to the energy healer we see as a family. I told her what I was seeing in my mind’s eye, she validated that she was seeing the same thing and—boom!—I’m aware of a council, let’s call it, of great ones who are there to guide me. All the time. We all have these guides, by the way. I’ve since spoken with a friend who sees this same exact scene when he goes inward. We just have to let go and open up so we can hear them, or at least that’s what I did. All thanks to meditation and to some skilled healers helping me along.

And so, here I am. Posting. And hopefully without a trace of narcissism. We’ll see how this goes…

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Anatomy of a meditation space

My dad’s favorite childhood book was Mister Dog, by Margaret Wise Brown. I can still recite much of it from memory, and there’s one line that always glowers at me: “A place for everything and everything in its place,” Mister Dog says while sweeping his house after dinner. Frankly, I’m a slob compared to the respectable and orderly Mister Dog, but he does have a point.

While I may not have a perfect place to put, say, my colander or my unopened mail, as meditation goes, I absolutely can get behind having a place set aside for meditating. Here’s why:  The more you meditate in one spot, the more spiritual energy permeates that spot, and the easier it theoretically becomes to get down with your bliss-seeking self in that spot. (In real-world terms, the feel of a place usually depends on what we do there, no?)

However, contrary to the images floating around out there, a meditation room doesn’t need to look a thing like an ashram if you don’t want it to.

Exhibit A: Most adult Westerners are not accustomed to sitting cross-legged on a pillow for any length of time, and unless your hip flexors are like silly bands, we’re not prone to a straight-spined lotus position. (Note: I haven’t ever been able to get myself into lotus, as much as I desire it, and even in half lotus, I have a hard time keeping my back really straight, which is kinda important, as a straight spine allows for a clear flow of energy through your nervous system.)

Rather than fixate my thoughts on trying to make my body assume a challenging position, I sit on a bench with my feet on the ground, thighs parallel to the floor. So, if you’re not one of those inspiringly nimble hatha yogis, just get yourself a firm, straight-backed chair. For reals, it’s totally legit to meditate in a chair.

If pillows are a must, put a firm cushion between your back and the back of the chair to support your lumbar spine and keep your chest open. Face East. If your arrangement limits you from facing East, face North. If that doesn’t work, face anywhere and just meditate.

Next, drape a wool blanket over your chair and on the ground beneath your feet. Wool helps to soften the subtle earth currents flowing through the floor of your home. (I sound completely out there with all this talk of energy but, again, it’s legit.)

Lastly, have a little table—let’s call it an altar—in your meditation space. On this altar, place a candle and few objects that are meaningful or holy to you. For some, it might be a cross, the Bible or a picture of Jesus. A rosary and a likeness of Mary. A statue of Buddha or an image of Krishna. Prayer beads. Incense, crystals, meditation beads, a special book or anything else that’s sacred to you. Place your chair in front of the altar, sit down, light a candle and breathe.

It’s easy to make your own meditation nook. Here’s what you need:

  • A space in which to meditate. It doesn’t have to be a proper room; it can be a tiny corner, a closet, an alcove, whatever, as long as it’s set aside for, as I explain it to my kids, “listening to God.”
  • A chair, meditation bench or floor cushion
  • A small altar table holding any devotional items that are sacred to you
  • A wool blanket
  • A candle and matches or a lighter
  • If there’s no door to your meditation nook, fashion a curtain or a folding screen of some sort to separate your sacred space from your living space

Previous Post

Well, another Christmas came and went without the dawn of Christ Consciousness. I was just sure it was coming, but then I hollered and stomped like an encroached-upon moose when Charlie knocked the corner of a side table into my head during meltdown #47 of Christmas Eve day. So much for my enlightenment.

I’d done a real bang-up job of holding my patience in tact until that moment. And, after many more of these unnerving episodes over the next 24 hours—intermingled, of course, with moments of pure joy and great beauty—I celebrated Christmas night with a long chat with my equally depleted husband, a glass of cold gin doused with kalamata olive juice and best-two-out-of-three in checkers with Brian. (Note: Giving myself permission to do something as “unspiritual” as sipping a martini on the holiest day of the year was liberating, a healthy separation from my sometimes oppressive personal rulebook.)

But, really, what a relief. Strange as it sounds, I just wasn’t ready for Jesus to appear in my mind’s eye and grant me a lifetime of unfettered bliss. If I don’t magically attain nirvana beforehand, perhaps next December I’ll be able to ride out Christmas in my heart instead of my head. Why do I make these demands of myself? I am so much more relaxed now that I don’t feel pressure to achieve divine attunement on a specific day. Whew.

Further Christmas reflections to follow but, for now, here’s some holiday levity. My unbridled laughter at the lyrics is perhaps another reason why I did not achieve marked spiritual unfoldment on Jesus’ birthday? Here, a music video parody by Los Angeles comic, Melissa McQueen.

This Christmas, I give you my soul?

This is a long one so…

SYNOPSIS: I’m having a birthday party for Jesus in my consciousness. Merry Christmas, y’all!

SPOILER ALERT: This post is totally TMI about my spiritual journey.

CARE TO READ MORE?: Off you go…

Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of shooting for Christ Consciousness. It’s a naïve, if not laughable objective, to be sure, considering how far away I clearly am from nirvana, but I believe that, as long as it’s in line with spiritual law, you can create any state of being for yourself. As such, Christmas time, when a feeling of goodwill pervades in the collective consciousness, seems the perfect opportunity to go for it with longer meditations, Jesus-y holiday music, and the intent of loving everyone—yes, everyone—unconditionally, as Christ did. (Aside: Loving everyone? Exhilarating. Try it for a day. You’ll totally like it.)

The past few holiday seasons, I’ve delightedly approached Christmas as the time to honor Jesus’ birth and welcome Christ to be born again within my own consciousness. I’ve partaken in all my normal holiday stuff—travel, family parties, grandma’s sugar cookies, present wrapping, spiked eggnog—but with an open heart and an extra prayer that I’d feel a merging with Christ on Christmas, and that the event would somehow shift me into a permanent state of peace, the highest wisdom and all-encompassing love. So far, my personal Happy-Birthday-Baby-Jesus! posada-party has worked for me. I’ve been filled with pure and abiding holiday joy since Thanksgiving. That is, until, Sunday night. And I haven’t wanted to meditate since.

Around 10 p.m. Sunday night, my mind was actually quiet* so I was enjoying the peace of meditation when, all of a sudden, I caught a glimpse—surprisingly devoid of any metaphysical dazzle—of what it is to gain Christ Consciousness.

Granted, it could’ve been an extravagant ruse orchestrated by my tricky ego, but it was unsettling nonetheless. It was a flicker of a feeling rather than an actual vision, so it’s almost impossible to recount, yet it left me with two big questions: 1.) Do I really want this? And, 2.) Is it possible to be a channel for God, like Christ, and still enjoy my worldly life? Maybe like a Christ Consciousness-Lite?

*Often, my mind is still totally restless even after 20 minutes of attempted meditation. Instead of feeling the bliss of God, I’m wondering if that supermodel-y mom at Charlie’s preschool is Swedish, why I’ve never grown my hair out this long before or who I’m going to hire to babysit if I get that freelance job.

Hold up. Christ Consciousness means I have to do what?

As I understand it, when you live and breathe as a self-realized human being, you’re one with everything, which means you recognize the divine in yourself, in everything and in everyone. Such a way of living has great appeal to me, but it follows that in such a holy state there’s no “other” to which you can turn because you are, in essence, God as well. That feels a little scary to me, a little alone. Knowing that fear is the absence of love, I’m definitely missing a key piece of Christ Consciousness-ness, or else I wouldn’t be afraid of it, right? Nonetheless, whatever I felt while meditating Sunday night, I wasn’t ready for it. In that brief moment, there was God, and me, loving everything and everyone equally, and feeling blissful, yes, but not really getting too invested in anything of the world or anyone in particular. Emily sans attachment.

When you’re truly one with God as Jesus was, you’re free from all desires for earthly things, or so I understand. I definitely see the freedom in ditching tenuous sensory attachments to things like food, sex, drugs, alcohol, fancy belongings, Millionaire Matchmaker, etc. But I am not ready to stop depending on my man for hugs or loving my kids a little more than I love everyone else. I’ll be sad when someone I love dies, I don’t want to know everything and I’m not sure I could handle the pressure of having all the power in the universe at my fingertips. Or is that really where it’s at?

Whew. Where do I go from here?

So now, in the middle of what is usually a joyous season of spiritual hopefulness, I’m wrestling with, “Is it ok if I don’t want to merge with my creator this year?” Can I take back that request, God? I launched myself into this path of meditation with the sincere desire to know God, and to have a direct experience of God. I still want that, and I absolutely hope to be a channel for God’s love and truth, but I’m suddenly freaked out.

I’m four days away from Christmas and am yearning to nestle into a peaceful state of anticipation for this weekend, our first Christmas with just the four of us and all three dogs, in our own home forging our own traditions. But, oh, how I want to wrap my questions and tie them with a nice, little bow in my heart before our family reenacts the night Jesus was born and discusses Christ’s ability to awaken the divine in all of us, not just on Christmas, but any day of the year. It feels essential to embody that whole “talk the talk, walk the walk” thing.

And so I return to Christ Consciousness-Lite; I dearly hope it’s a respectable aim for a sincere seeker, because that’s my interim mission, until I figure out my true intention. Breaking it down: if I attain even one smidgen of Jesus’ consciousness, I suppose I’ll be adequately equipped to serve the world as a slightly expanded channel of love and light. Over time, perhaps I’ll go the full distance, or perhaps I’ll always be stuck in my head (I do recognize my own overthinking tizzies) but, with gradual soul expansion in mind, rather than the grandiose event I first envisioned, it seems safe for me to get back to approaching Christmas as the natural time to request Christ’s rebirth within my consciousness, and to feel the joy such a request brings me. Off I go. Merry Christmas to you!

You mean drunk moms aren’t awesome? Or, Higher Self says, “Middle way, or the highway.”

Somewhere between college and today, something happened. Out of nowhere, it just doesn’t feel cool to get drunk anymore and, suddenly, there’s no room for the swearing, sassing, filter-less, gossiping, bold-talking Emily that emerges after too much alcohol. Plain and simple, she is unintentionally holding me back from the Emily I want to be.

The awareness of dissonance surfaced after my last girls’ night as an ominous question:  Is it possible to both enjoy wine and be my highest self? It came back to me in the days following Halloween night, when we had an indulgent front-porch party with various neighbors. After a couple days of feeling just plain icky—in my heart, not my body—I’ve detected a screeching discord between the Emily I want to be and the Emily I am when I’m drunk. Drunk Emily, though she doesn’t surface that often, is begging to be phased out for a while.

I don’t recall parts of Halloween night, which is frightful in itself, but I do know I uncharacteristically spoke rudely to a friend I love and, as stills from the night flashed back to me in fractured pieces, I was riddled with embarrassment for what I might’ve said or done. Whose feelings did I hurt? Who was the brunt of my gossip? Was my bra showing the entire night? What do some of these people think of me now?

Granted, worrying about what people think of me is a worry I normally recommend against indulging. However, I’m on a sincere mission to be a channel for love and light, and as clear as I feel at the time I’m enjoying an alcohol-altered state, I’m far from an open channel for all that’s good in the world.

So, I’m delighted, and also a little bashful about sharing, that I have been free from drunkenness for an entire month. The operative word is “free,” I think. When I’m entertaining or out on the town, which is the usual time I opt to have a cocktail, two glasses of wine is my new black. I’m not sure how long this will last, or what direction I’m heading, but for now, the middle road feels really good.

Note: While my path to higher consciousness now involves a hiatus on boozing, yours might not, in which case, cheers! The important thing to me is that I listen to what my inner voice is saying, and I wish you all the best of the best as you listen to your own.