Setting Our Shame Free

Oh GOODNESS, it is time to talk about self-worth and shame. Which is an absolutely terrifying thought and because of that, SO incredibly important for me to do.

I believe that something magical happens when we open up about the things we most want to keep hidden. When we speak our shame out into the world, we take away its power.

Through this process, our greatest shame and vulnerabilities can be transformed into our greatest strengths, but first we have to lean into them and own them.

So, here goes. This is me leaning into my shame.

I am ashamed of where I am in life. I am ashamed that I’m thirty years old and still don’t have a college degree or a real job. I’m ashamed that I can barely afford rent in this housing market and that I have student debt.

My story is that I have made ALL the wrong decisions in life. That I have no skills, no qualifications, no area of expertise, no money, and no idea how to make money. My story is that there is nothing I am good at (or will ever be good at). My story is that I will never be good enough or capable enough.

My biggest shame in life is not who I am, but what I have and have NOT done.

Silly, right?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, because INTELLECTUALLY, I know better. Intellectually, I know that every moment has gotten me to right here and now and that in this moment I am exactly where I need to be. Intellectually, I know that the experiences I’ve had have all been an important part of my process, my journey, my healing, and my growth. And intellectually, I know that I’m pretty fucking awesome.

At the same time, it’s not so silly because what I’m feeling is true for me and it weighs on me, some days more than others. Wanting to add value to this world in a way that also bring ME joy and fulfillment is the thing I want most in this lifetime. And for the life of me, I still haven’t figured out how to do it.

Argh.

As I’m writing this, I just realized that my very first blog post was titled “The Timing is Always Perfect” and I guess this is a lesson that I will have to relearn over and over, every single day.  Either until I actually get it, or until my time here is done.

***

When I was in Tulum a couple of winters ago, I was out at a bar waiting to meet a man from Columbia whom I had danced with the night before. I was with two girlfriends and was feeling nervous and a bit insecure. This guy was dope and such a good dancer and I began to doubt the connection and chemistry I had felt the night before.

In other words, I had begun to doubt MYSELF.

Within just a couple minutes of listening to this, my friend Mo looked me straight in the eye and said “Riah, if only you could see yourself from this guy’s eyes. You would know how incredible you are. This guy is the luckiest guy IN THE WORLD.”

I’m not telling you this to boost myself up or to let you know how cool I am. I’m telling you this as a reminder that WE are our own greatest critics. And no one knows this better than me.

***

Last week, when I was having an (oh-so-attractive) emotional and spiritual breakdown, the incredibly kind and patient man in my life was holding space for me in an amazing way. He didn’t try to fix me or offer advice or make things better. He didn’t add fuel to the fire, he just listened.

And then he said something so simple and so profound, it rocked my world. He said, “Riah, the things you are struggling with are the hardest things in this life. The fact that you are trying to create a job that you love, that is creative and fulfilling, financially freeing AND having a positive impact on the world, is amazing. Some people don’t know that’s even an option. Some people aren’t even going to try. Don’t be so hard on yourself that you aren’t there yet.” (I think I paraphrased a bit, but it went something like that).

So folks, I just want everyone to know, that from the outside world’s perspective, we are ALL crushing it.

And, we ALL have shame! MINE just happens to be tied up in career and accomplishments. Maybe yours has to do with body image and self worth. Or maybe it’s relationship and communication. OR, maybe you’re ashamed of how lonely you feel or how overwhelmed you are or the fact that you feel depressed and anxious all the time. Or maybe you’re ashamed that you don’t have shame 😉

Whatever it is, it’s ok. It all just part of being HUMAN.

I think what I want to end with today is THIS. Please don’t let your shame eat away at you, please don’t think you are on the only one dealing with it, and please, oh PLEASE don’t give your shame more power than it’s worth.

Set it free!

Set your shame free. Shine light on what you are ashamed of and scream it out into the world.

In other words, set YOURSELF free and then watch your world transform.

Begin Before You’re Ready

One of the biggest tricks we can play on ourselves is the idea that we will begin when we are ready.

That we will begin… TO LIVE OUR LIVES… when things feel different, look different, are different.

We tell ourselves that when we have that dream career, then we will be happy. When we have more money, then we will spend time doing what we love. When we look better, thinner, curvier, (whatever-er), then we will love and accept our bodies. When the holidays are over, we will take time for ourselves. When our work is meaningful and fulfilling then we will know our self worth.

When when when….

Why do we expect our lives to be better in the future?

Why do I think that when I’m traveling the world and saving the planet and helping people, THEN I will be completely fulfilled? Why not now?

Why do I think I will feel differently in the future? The future doesn’t even exist. The “future” is created out of this very moment and if I am not loving and accepting of myself and my life right now, why do I expect that to change at a later point in time? Chances are, in “the future” there will be a whole slew of other things that I won’t be content with.

Better start learning how to be happy in this moment, Riah.

Raise your hand if your life doesn’t look exactly the way you want it to. You can’t see it, but my hand is in the air.

Raise your hand if you have a general sense of where you are going (or at least where you want to go) but you don’t have a roadmap. (And not because you didn’t buy one, but because it’s never been made, because no one else has gone before you).

But raise your hand if you also trust that no matter what, at each step of your journey, the path will be revealed to you at the exact right time. The only thing that is required of you is to show up , exactly as you are and to keep showing up, not when, not then, but NOW.

Some mornings I wake up feeling inspired and excited to create my life. Other days I wake up feeling a little bit down and out. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m moody as fu**, or maybe I’m just human. (Just to be clear, my life is awesome. I am super grateful for everything that I am experiencing. But again, I’m human.)

But the lesson is this: whatever the day, whatever the mood, whatever the weather, this is my life. This is where I am. I do not want to run from it. I want to embrace it and use it as a jumping place for the REST OF MY LIFE. 

Every moment is an opportunity for transformation.

I’m posting today not because I love what I’m writing or because I’m feeling particularly inspired, but because it’s part of my process.

Today I am choosing to show up exactly as I am, with what I’ve got. And it’s enough, it’s got to be. 

Taking Action

I’m just going to dive right in today. I haven’t been writing very much lately and getting back into it this morning was ROUGH… which is ok, and perfect, and leads me to this 

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Photo by Javon Swaby on Pexels.com

It’s 2019 baby!

What do YOU want to create this year? What is your intention for this month? What action are you taking TODAY in order to get to where you want to go? And, are you enjoying the process?

For me, 2019 is all about ACTION. It’s the word that keeps rising to the surface and my relationship with action/inaction keeps presenting itself to me for examination and rebirth.

I’ll be honest, action can be hard for me. Or at least that’s the story I’ve been telling myself. I’m not talking about the down and dirty, making-shit-happen kind of action. I love that stuff. I’m talking about the long-term dedication and commitment that is required to see a project through, from start to finish.

Take this blog, for example…. I started it because I’m writing a book and when I realized I was abolsutely terrified to let other people read my work, I knew I needed to do something to change that. So I went all-in on a 30 Day Blog Challenge (which you can check out here: https://myhobolife.com/2018/09/26/the-journey-begins/) and I absolutely crushed it.

But then what did I do? I stopped! I dove straight into other, new, and exciting things like a thriving social life, a new relationship, dance parties, psychedelics, Sacramento, moving, school, and travel. The irony is that this is EXACTLY the life I want to be living… if I am also writing everydayI NEED to write, I NEED to share stories and ideas, to connect, to COMMUNICATE, in order to be a happy, productive human. It’s a calling, it’s the moving water in the river that is my life. And without it, I get stuck, blocked, constipated (I mostly mean metaphorically).

It would be very easy to get down on myself right now, to look at what I HAVEN’T done instead of what I HAVE DONE. But I won’t. Instead I will say that I #crushedit in 2018. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns (although there were a TON of those as well), but I showed up, did the work, and got through it. And I did that to set myself up for right now. And I’m sure as hell not going to quit before I’ve even gotten started. 

I’m here. I’ve arrived. This is my life and I freaking love it. We have an opportunity to blast off this year and I’m going for it. I’m TAKING ACTION. 

Anyone else feeling that? Anyone else feeling that energy, that new beginning, that OPPORTUNITY that is here now? A seven year cycle just ended and with it, a lot of our old patterns, histories, and old stories are being let go of. I want you with me as I make this year the year of ACTION. We’ve made it this far, we know where to go, what to do, and we have the tools to get there. It’s time we step up our game because WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED.

The world needs us all.

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Failure isn’t trying something and not getting it right. Failure is not even trying.  FAILURE IS INACTION and it’s the thing that terrifies me the most.

It is my greatest fear in life that I will never go all-in on my dreams, that I will quit this blog before I even figure out how to use Instagram properly or how to build a website, that I’ll give up on my book before I’ve even gotten to the place where publishers can reject it. That my dreams will fade away into the back of my mind, not because I’m not capable, but because I just didn’t.

What an opportunity to rewrite that story! What an opportunity to prove my small self wrong. What an opportunity to ACT.

One foot in front of the other. One day at a time. The rest will take care of itself.

So, here’s to 2019. Here’s to us being the biggest catalyzing force in our own lives, instead of the biggest limitation. Here’s to choosing what we want MOST over what we want NOW. And here’s to waking up at 7am (yes, that’s early for me), to finishing our entire to-do list before noon, and to crushing our #goals every single day.

Who’s with me?

The Stories We Tell

Slowly, but surely, and at the most basic level, I am beginning to understand that my entire life is built upon the foundation of stories. The stories I have been told and the stories that I have taken on as my own. 

Being who I am, where I am, and HOW I am, I’ve been on a quest as of late to understand where my stories come from and why they exist for me in the way that they do. Equally, how do my stories shape my beliefs, affect my decisions, and ultimately create the world I exist in?

As children, we learn from our parents, our teachers, and our culture at large what is acceptable and what is expected. We are TAUGHT how to act, what to believe, and consequently, we begin to shape our understanding of life based on what we “know to be true”. But then, ultimately, it’s up to each of us to decide what is real and what isn’t.

I’m deep into discovering what is real for me right now. What are my stories and where do they come from? Why do I believe some things and not others? The more I get into it, the more I get into it 😉

What is my story regarding what a family looks like? Or what a relationship is supposed to be?

How do I feel about money and work and the integration of passion and joy?

Do I FEEL free to express myself and say to say YES to life with open arms or do I see the world as one huge limitation?

How do I show up for myself and others, and is it FINALLY time to drop the old story that in order to stay safe I have to stay small? (Yes, it totally is.)

Can I let go of the story that just because I don’t have it all figured out right now that I never will or that I am incapable of doing anything worthwhile, ever?

So many stories. And perhaps my biggest, most limiting story of all, that I have been told on a spiritual, soul, karmic level by my own self, my family, my culture, AND my ancestors is this idea that wealth is limited, that money is difficult to make and even more difficult to hold onto – that money creates struggle. Where’s the story that fulfillment and joy are the very BASIS of work, that financial ease is EASILY attainable and that it IS possible to align my purpose, my vocation, and my passion?

Oooh, that’s a big one. I can feel it even as I write it. There is SO much there for me.

I’ve learned a lot in my life. I’ve learned and I’ve learned and I’ve learned and now it is time to UNLEARN IT ALL. I believe that in order to gain a clearer understanding of anything at all, we must unlearn everything we know. And right now I’m all about it.

Had I been born into a different country, a different culture, a different FAMILY, or at a completely different time on this planet, ALL of my stories would be different. And if my stories were different, then MY LIFE WOULD BE DIFFERENT.

***

What are your views on wealth? Did you grow up with parents who knew how to manage their resources and saw the financial world as their playground, or did you grow up in a family where there was never enough, where money created struggle?

What stories have you created from your experiences? And how much of what you believe belongs to YOU versus to the people around you?

What about drugs, y’all? A very large part of our population believes it is 100% ok to consume sugar, caffeine, and processed foods on the regular. Tobacco is also widely accepted, if not approved of, and increasingly, marijuana is taking it’s place on the mainstream stage. But plant medicines and psychedelics? Holy moly, stand back, no way, that sh** is bad. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

It goes on and on. EVERYTHING IS A STORY. Everything is a creation of our beliefs. 

The story of what are we are afraid of. The story of how do we feel in our own bodies. The story of whether or not we are excited to be alive. Why or why not? What have you ALWAYS told yourself out of fear or limitation or expectation that, upon further inspection, isn’t actually true?

The more I unpack this stuff, the more I realize just how surface level my understanding of pretty much EVERYTHING is and even though I don’t know squat, it sure is fun finding that out. 

There are worlds upon worlds out there, my friends, and it’s time we stop creating our own limitations on what we are allowed to experience.

***

I went to dinner with a friend a couple of weeks ago and we went deep into dreams and desires, purpose and passion, mission and vocation, what makes us feel alive. What do you want to do? Why are you here? What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had? What are you working on? What is one thing you want to accomplish? It’s conversations like this that keep me going. All I want to do is to GO DEEP. And then laugh and play.

I was describing to this man what my biggest dreams are right now. I told him with conviction that I knew it might takes years and years and tons of hard work to get where I’m going, but that I was 100%  committed and would keep going no matter.

With a sparkle in his eye, he kindly and quietly made the comment, “That’s a story”.

I didn’t even catch it at first. I just kept talking. But then, after a few moments of time when my busy brain finally caught on to the subtle beauty of what he had said, I paused and considered it. “What do you mean?” I asked. “What’s a story?”

“The idea that it will take a lot of time and hard work to get there. That’s just a story. It doesn’t have to”.

And just like that, my entire world fell apart all over again. Just when I begin to think I have the slightest clue as to what’s going on, everything I think I know comes crumbling down and I freaking LOVE IT.

He was so right. I had in my mind this idea, this STORY, that earning a living from writing, from sharing my experiences and adventures, from traveling the world and CONNECTING with people, from being a part of an effort to transform the world and to figure out what works best for us human beings, would take a VERY long time.

And you know what? Maybe it will.

And equally, maybe it won’t.

It’s all just a story.

***

It is when our stories become our identities, when we believe them as truth, that things get tricky. We grow attached to who we think we are and what we believe life to be.

I’m examining my own stories because I want to shed them. I want to see beyond the curtain and step into the world unlimited possibilities that I know exists out there for me.

I’m doing the work, and contained within it is the opportunity to choose freedom in every moment.

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Moving Day

Today is MOVING DAY for me, everybody 😀

 The TIMING is absolutely perfect, (of course, it always is), because today also happens to be Day #30 of this 30 Day Blog Challenge I created for myself. My intention with this process was to find my voice (or at least begin to get comfortable hearing it), to show up for myself, and to embrace my discomfort and vulnerability.

Absolutely amazing what we can accomplish when we decide to.

Good thing I love change so much because I have moved SO many times in my life it’s ridiculous. I’m the queen of moving and I’m usually drawn to funky, unique spaces that need A LOT of love. It is always my intention to leave a space looking and feeling better than it did when I arrived.

Mission accomplished with the Pool House? Absolutely.

When I moved in, the place was a MESS. It’s an old building that belongs to the grandparents of a friend of mine and when I first showed up it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned out in FIFTY YEARS. Seriously. But the potential, oh the potential! I could see it and feel it immediately.

It took three twelve hours days of intense elbow grease, sorting through ALL THE SUTFF, and organizing boxes into the attic (from which my dad and I cleaned out old insulation, rat shit, and rotting boxes) before it was inhabitable. Holy moly, holy project. Then, for the first few nights I slept here I was convinced that raccoons were living in the walls, banshees in the attic, and spirits of ALL sorts were constantly hanging out with me.

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Over the past five months this Pool House has become a safe haven for me, a place for healing and self expression. The experiences I’ve had here have been absolutely incredible. There is MAGIC in the air and I say that with one hundred percent confidence and knowing. There is an energy in the floor and the walls and the history that granted me access to parts of myself that had been buried.

Thank you Pool House 🙏 Thank you LIFE 🙏 Thank you SELF 🙏 

As special as this space is, I’m not feeling sad about leaving at all. Instead, I am feeling EXCITED about life in general. I believe in cycles and seasons and it’s clear to me that while this chapter of my life is closing, another one is just beginning to open. And it’s going to be AMAZING, it already is, I can feel it.

Don’t fight the Universe, y’all. There are signs everywhere if stay open to them. Be intentional with what you want and want you need. I’ve been calling TRIBE  into my life lately. I’ve been really loving and craving human connection so it’s perfect that I’m moving in with big sister and her wonderful family today.  I’ll also be closer to some pretty cool people I am blessed to call new and old friends. This 30 day blog adventure is ending and I am looking forward to what I get to great next.

Without knowing the details of what is coming, I totally know this is the right move, pun fully intended. I’m tuned in, the Universe is my partner and playmate, and together we are creating beautiful things.

Onward and upward, everybody. Keeping moving, finding your flow, and returning to center. Dream big, set big goals, DO THE THINGS every single day, and you’ll be surprised how easily you can make your dreams come true.

It is ALL HAPPENING NOW. This world is ours to create.

Breakdowns Lead to Breakthroughs

Ten years ago, I was a brand new college dropout and a girl who was completely lost. I had absolutely NO idea what to do with my life, who I was, or want I wanted. But I sure was desperate to find out.

I was renting a room in Sacramento, living with strangers, and working nights at a bar. For the first time in my life, I began asking the big questions: “Why am I here?”. “Who am I?”. “What is my purpose?”. As I’ve gotten older, I understand a bit more that these questions will never really be answered… however, it is our ability to keep showing up, at ALL of the stages, through ALL of the ages, and to keep asking the questions, that creates the space for transformation. Its a continuous process.

As difficult as those few months were, I can see now how beautiful my process was. It was the lonely nights I spent sitting on the floor of my bedroom, willing myself to understand the world and trying so hard to find some kind of meaning that pushed me to the next level. After all, if we aren’t even asking the questions, how do we expect to find any answers?

What I needed at that time in my life was simply to know that there were other options besides college, stress, and a nine to five job. It was when I gave myself permission to get lost in the depths of despair, to completely breakdown, that I simultaneously gifted myself the freedom OPEN up, to WAKE up. Within a few months, I was living on a farm on the outskirts of Placerville, learning to grow vegetables and tend to animals, living in community, waking up early with a clear mission and falling asleep happy and tired. It was a WHOLE NEW WORLD ✨

I am not saying that farming is my one and only purpose in life, but simply that it was the NEXT STEP for me, it was the breakthrough I needed at that time; the effects of which have rippled out into every corner of my life, and year after year, day after day, new worlds are continuing to unfold.

Whatever you are experiencing, trust that the breakdowns are in fact the gateways to the BIG MAGIC. For me, they are the tipping point. That point at which hopelessness becomes so overpowering that there is no other option but to completely GIVE IN to the grief. Only then am I able to move through, out, and up, clearing out a TON of old baggage in the process.

Twenty-nine was the year of another big breakdown for me. I’ve talked about it before, but last year I hit rock bottom emotionally in a way that I had never experienced previous. It was by far the most challenging year of my life, but it was also the most beautiful gift I have ever have given myself. I stopped running from the life I didn’t want, and began showing up for the life I DO want.

The world that I am living in TODAY, this world that I LOVE and am SO EXCITED about, only revealed itself to me when I took responsibility for my own life. When I showed up and began to deal with my stuff. ALL of my stuff.

Breakdowns lead to breakthroughs, y’all.  So I say “hallelujah for the breakdowns!”.

There is no growth without challenge. There is no light without dark. The old stories must be remembered and forgiven if we are to create new ones. Don’t be scared. When the darkness shows up, when the breakdowns happen, when the angry, hurt, lost, and confused emotions show up stronger than ever, remember that the lower the valley, the higher the mountain. It’s all apart of the process and you are doing your work.

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We are ALL doing our work and we are doing an amazing job. We are alive today and we are all showing up, doing the best we can with what we know.

As for myself, I am GRATEFUL for the dark times and the time outs, I am grateful for the opportunities to clear out lower frequencies and old stories, and I know that although I may occasionally hit rock bottom, time and time again, I will also kick up stronger than ever and reach heights I’ve never before experienced. How cool is that?

I am here to GROW as big and as beautiful as I can.

I trust my journey and myself and I open to growth in whatever form I need.

The Greatest Love Affair of My Life

My greatest love affair of all time has been with dancing. Men have come and gone, friendships have existed and fallen apart, I have lived in a gazillion different places, but dancing? Dancing has always been with me.

To be sure, our relationship is fluid and ever changing, as any good relationship is. We fall away from each other at times, then come back together, more passionate than ever. The person I am has changed over the years and the kind of dancing that draws me depends on the season and place.

This love affair of mine began with Lindy Hop and East Coast Swing in elementary school. I joined a swing dance team with a couple of friends and we met three times a week for lessons and social dances. My best friend at the time and I would stay inside at recess and dance, dance, dance. We didn’t even need music. We were absolutely fascinated with dance connection and new moves. We could both lead, we could both follow. The rest of the class thought we were weird. (I”m not making this up, they would literally say “you guys are weird”).

But we didn’t care and to this day, these are some of my favorite childhood memories.

A couple of years ago I literally moving to Portland, Oregon for the summer with the intention of dancing every single night. I had heard good things about the scene. I mostly did West Coast Swing at the time but while I was there I was introduced to the Country Dance Scene and was invited out to a country bar on the edge of town. “Bushwackers”. I know, so good.

Despite the name, Bushwackers is an magical place with a large dance floor and a vibrant community of dancers. Portland is lucky because the head of the National Country Dance Association lives there and offers free Country Two-Step lessons every Tuesday night. He is an exceptional teacher and to this day, Bushwackers on a Tuesday night is one of my favorite places in the whole wide world to be.

The beast that is West Coast Swing is absolutely fascinating. It is relatively modern, I think it was born in nightclubs in big cities, and has evolved into the beautiful and challenging dance it is today, complete with big-time dance conventions, competitions, and levels. 

It’s like that hot guy (or girl) that you love to hate and keep going back to. It’s led to some of the best nights of my life as well as to some of the lowest of the lows I have ever felt. It’s hypnotic and additive. It takes months, even years, to be “good” and the beauty is that the better you are, the more fun you will have.

* * *

The thing that attracts me most about a dance is not the style itself, the footwork, technique, or music, it is the PEOPLE and the COMMUNITY. I love people. I really, really love people.

I just got back from a night of swing dancing, it’s past midnight, but I am SO excited about dancing right now that I need to write this before going to sleep. Dancing with someone is like having a CONVERSATION with them. It’s a full body, no words type of communication. Apart from sex, we don’t get to experience this very often in daily life.

What I’m most fascinated with is that everybody dances SO DIFFERENTLY. The way a person communicates through their body and the way they interpret the music varies drastically from person to person. It is impossible to dance the same dance twice. The MAGIC happens when one is fully present, engaged in the moment, with complete attention on their dance partner. You just never know what the dance is going to be like. You don’t know what your CONNECTION will be in until your hands join, your bodies bop to the beat, and your feet begin to move. What happens during the next three minutes is completely up to you.

It’s unlike any other experience, I’m telling ya.

I’m going to Ecstatic Dance tonight for the first time. I’ve been having a LOT of personal dance parties in my living room lately (which is something I think we ALL should be doing on a regular basis) and I’ve been calling dance parties with other people into my life. “I just want to dance!” I keep saying, “I just want to have dance parties with my friends all the time.” Baam! Into my life comes this thing called Ecstatic Dance and a pretty rad group of people who love to go.

I don’t know the people. I don’t know the venue. I don’t even know what part of town it’s in and I have NO idea what to expect, which is pretty much my favorite way to show up to life.

Let the games begin.