I came here to be like you
full of passion, gushing my
adoring eyes and heart onto
and the soil
You spill with poetic power onto
bare and eager human shoulders
as the sand swallows your lustful
You move rock over the years
carving its resistance to Love
one drop of water at a time
I am like you
carving light into
cracks in the human heart
so maddeningly in love with humanity
it is worth all the seeming rejection
I could pretend is personal
Instead I choose to gush and be
as the seashells in the
eyes of willing ones
glow their oceanic light into mine
How dare she take up so much space?
You claim yours
I claim mine too
I came here to be
I came here to
You aren’t always wet
there’s fire in the
veins of your pour
Sunlight dines and dances
on your skin
I watch your way of loving
how you pause
letting the sand
ready itself again
to receive your
Cascada, you enchant me
ever fresh in your liquid affection
showing us new ways
to be held
These days, it’s all the buzz. Humanity needs a new story.
Not just the USA or the Middle East or the 1% — we all need a new story. The metacrisis is global. In a relatively short period of time, our species will go extinct or face dystopia — unless we change our minds and choose a new story based in love.
Facts don’t change people’s minds; stories do. Feelings do — we change our minds when we’re pulled from deep within by the pulse of Love itself, to choose another way.
Here’s something we could consider “bad” news:
Usually for humans, enormous pain is required for us to evolve.
Been there, done that. In February 2021, I apparently needed a massive brain tumor as a messenger of pain to end my 40+ years of food and sugar “addiction”. Tried and tried to resolve my imbalanced relationship with food. Flopped. Flopped again. Enter, brain tumor and months of unexpected severe pain that followed.
That settled it. Got the memo. Thank you for the motivation, pain.
“We live in a world of outrageous pain. The only response to outrageous pain is outrageous love.”
For humanity to turn the tide, each of us — and I’m talking to you and me right now — needs to choose love over fear right now. And again. And again. That is how we will create a future on this generous, strikingly beautiful planet. A livable future will appear before us when we choose, again and again, love over fear.
Now here’s something we could consider “good” news:
The only responsibility you’ve got is to choose love yourself. Now. And now.
And some more:
What we focus on, grows. Pay attention to what you want to feed.
When we keep our thoughts in fear about how we’ll survive or who’s to blame or which planet could we move to as backup…
Personally I find great relief in accepting that the only mind I can change is my own. And — that puts the ball in my court. I must step up. I cannot wait for or depend on other people to heal the Earth for me and my child.
At Leaning into Light, we stand for Love.
In this story, we treasure each other. We accept that humans are part of nature. We remember that we aren’t separate from each other, that we’re all interconnected. We accept that God lives within us, and we respect people’s choices with the world’s vast offering of religions.
In this story, we accept that we are held by something much more powerful than we will ever understand — and we take action as partners with that vastness, Source, Spirit, God, Love — we cannot sit by, idle.
In this story, we go to bed surrendering with the “holy or the broken Hallelujah”, Leonard Cohen’s famous song, in our hearts. We know we will mess up, we can be forgiven, and ultimately we are not in control.
Here are some prompts to support you to lean into light today:
Feeling hydrated by this juice?
Today, many bright minds are engaged in bringing a new story to humanity. The word regeneration is buzzing around, presenting possibilities. Here are some links you might find uplifting as you step more fully into your unique role in bringing about this new story based in Love.
Women play a colossal role in advancing human consciousness, so I’ll start with a marvelous artist friend who creates Magdalena Magazine. Find it on IG: @magdalena_magazine.
Creator Michelle Magdalena Maddox says, “Magdalena Magazine is a catalyst for furthering the Regeneration and Climate Action movements. We explore the stories of change makers, dreamers, wanderers, and healers as they lead us forward, all on 100% recycled paper!”
Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation is a 2021 book with this offering: “Regeneration is a radical new approach to the climate crisis, one that weaves justice, climate, biodiversity, and human dignity into a seamless tapestry of action, policy, and transformation that can end the climate crisis in one generation. It is the first book to describe and define the burgeoning regeneration movement spreading rapidly throughout the world.”
Last, here’s an inspiring talk from TEDxSydney from Damon Gameau, Retelling the story of humans and nature. His bold masculine heart speaks loud and clear. He is the award winning filmmaker who produced the 17-minute short film, Regenerating Australia.
Essentially, as with all of our Leaning into Light writing, this is about choosing love over fear. Let me share a little story with you.
I’ve never seen a person with more respect for elders than my dad. At 78 years old, still, every year on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, he drives an hour from home to honor his parents at the cemetery where they’re buried. He brings flowers and small American flags, walks to their graves and speaks love’s words in silence. In a way outside our human understanding, his parents hear and feel his love.
While they were alive, it was the same. My childhood was loaded with sentiments of respect for elders.
I watched my dad’s alert eyes when his father spoke.
I watched the way he stood for his mother and melted at the sound of her laughter.
I saw how my mother ironed our napkins to set the table beautifully for Angelina and Juan, my then-living grandparents.
I saw how she wrote them kindhearted cards with her gorgeous cursive penmanship — by hand — by heart.
My parents were not intentionally role modeling elder reverence for me and my siblings, but their respect for their own parents seeped into our bones.
Decades later, I finally accepted that my parents will die someday. So I started writing a memoir for my dad — to capture his life’s most special stories — yes, I want him to know that his life matters enough for his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to be left with a book about what he’s lived through, learned and given. And I want him to have an experience of being treasured while he is still alive, rather than regretting that I hadn't done that, after he's dead.
In a society that tosses elders aside, sending them into rooms to watch TV and take their medications, I wanted to be the change I wish to see in the world.
I was tired of being disgusted by our societal immaturity around elders; it was time to step up. My dad deserves this way of being honored. All elders do.
Isolation isn’t a form of love.
Today, my dad’s memoir is almost finished. Our process got interrupted by my massive brain tumor and other life rigors. We’re back at it now. Soon, he will have a book in his hand that’s a symbol of the respect that lives — and will live on, far past his death.
Not only did my parents’ value of respecting elders leave a deep imprint on me — it led me to offer memoir writing as a service of Leaning into Light. Why not blend my love for elders with my lifelong writing practice and 18 years of coaching experience and — one elder at a time —
leave more humans feeling loved before they die?
The actual memoir is only part of the gift, an old-fashioned, on-paper collection of precious memories. Perhaps the greater gift here is giving elders a chance to be heard, feel seen and listened to — like they matter.
Because to Love, the essence of who we are, the most powerful force in the universe: they do.
Is there an elder in your life who you want to leave feeling loved before they die? Your heart knows the answer. Listen for how you can honor them today.
An extended hug that boosts their happy hormones…
Helping them pay a bill on the computer…
Organizing their kitchen cabinets…
Bringing them to a baseball game...
Or getting them a memoir as a Christmas gift.
Toss or treasure?
If you’re touched by this share and would like to see more elders loved through the process of having their memoir written, below is an image you can screenshot and share on social media or text to a friend who has an elder parent in their later years. Thank you for being beside me, co-creating a world where elders are honored.
Ever had a broken heart?
Sure you have. Ouch, ouch, ouuuuuuuuch. Yet somehow when you let yourself feel the pain, you invite your deep well of power to rise up within you. It’s like giving birth – pain so intense it brings new life into being.
Last week I had three of the richest days of my life. On Tuesday morning, I heard news from a loved one that left me feeling shocked, angry and shattered. Now just five days later, after feeling all the emotions fully, I feel way more alive than I did before hearing the news. Clearer about my worth. Giving myself more permission to fully be me. More sensitized to who and what resonates with me – more selective about which people and situations are a match for the full me. I’ve been empowered by the storm called feeling.
A calm pool glimmers in my core. It is such a gift to be a woman, and I’m here to remind you of your fortune.
Your feelings are your superpower. Yet you’ve been told otherwise.
A society that separates Emotional Intelligence (EQ) from its base understanding of intelligence is not yet awake to this.
So it’s up to you to find people who do. Plenty exist and they’re certainly not all women. Yet there is a noticeable contrast between men’s and women’s capacity to feel and be with the power of feelings. It’s part of our perfect weave as animals. Women’s bodies hold and birth life, and to healthfully raise a child -- to healthfully raise life -- we must grow our capacity to navigate emotional landscapes.
So when the storm of feelings raged…
On that big day of upset, I wanted to fully feel the anger so it didn’t get stuck inside of me. I didn’t want my soul to bleed for long, so I sliced through the day listening to heavy metal, jogging and agonizing over what just transpired. I started writing an uncensored letter to the person whose news had upset me.
Two nights in a row, I fell to the floor sobbing. I just couldn’t believe it. My heart and body didn’t understand. I knew I just needed to feel.
The first night, a dear friend stepped up, Village style, to cook for our kids while he played piano music to help me release the inner pressure. The second night, as I was keeled over in a cascade of tears, my housemate drew me a bath and big-sister-commanded me to get in as she lit candles for its rim.
I sobbed and wrote, jogged and sang, moving it all through.
All three days, I spoke with Jedi friends. People whose wisdom radiates right out front. Who don’t take sides or fuel drama in other ways. Friends who aren’t afraid to speak their truth; they know that’s part of what draws us together.
That’s when something interesting showed up.
I noticed a tendency in male friends that contrasted what the females did. While my woman friends related to my grief, holding it with their empathy and supporting me to move through it, my man friends focused on the spiritual aspects of the experience, saying things like…
“You created this experience.” And, “In your place of core knowing, in your place of highest consciousness, Could you ever really be separate from this person?”
While the men’s words were gentle and wise, my body had other ideas. She kept having feelings. Big feelings. And I am her servant, so I must honor them. Our bodies are impeccable communicators.
Feel it all. Your big feelings are an invitation to light yourself up from within.
In heartbreak, you can choose to honor BOTH the spiritual and the physical experience it is offering.
“Oneness doesn’t bypass experience,” a close friend said. “Higher consciousness does not deny our healthy human experience. It does not move through it faster than we can digest the experience truly. Being in it is beautiful.”
With her words, I felt seen. She continued, “By not suppressing or bypassing, we open up the possibility of actually transmuting that which needs healing in the collective. Thank you for doing the precious work for you. It heals all of us.”
Write down those words and tuck them in your nightstand for your next dose of heartbreak. They will help you feel it, offering wisdom not held by a world socialized to deny their power. Why were pages removed from the Bible that spoke in Mary Magdalene’s voice? Because feeling is our superpower, and when women rise to feel and claim our power, we are a threat to systems based in domination and control.
Before sunrise, I lay with the moon in my pelvis.
Feeling fully is freedom. Let your heartbreak magnify your power as a creator. Let the tears lead you into dancing ecstasy. Let the anger fuel your passion to serve – others and yourself. Let this experience embed you with the capacity to hold space for your daughter or friend when she’s feeling shattered.
Feelings write great songs. Feelings have great sex. Feelings feed your dancing.
Your body is a luscious pool of blood and saltwater — bust the dam and flow.
Thank Goddess, thank God, we know what it feels like to bleed~
Join me in celebrating the release of Magdalena Magazine, Issue #2. Its creator, Magdalena Maddox (pictured here with me today) says, “In a time of unprecedented media overload, and untrustworthy propaganda, the second issue of Magdalena realizes its responsibility to be a safe space for renewal, centering helpful information to navigate uncertain times for the human family on planet earth.” Lovers of beauty, paper and woman, join me in supporting this gorgeous woman-made paper creation!
Never could I have predicted the severity of pain I’d experience in this life. I didn’t know I’d have five years of multi-day migraines, a massive brain tumor leaving 52 titanium staples in my head post-surgery, or 92 days of severe sciatica, some of the worst pain known to a human body. Yet sometimes humans need pain to grow, and I humbly count myself among them.
We’ve all felt pain, or will. These words are intended for those of you who’ve felt severe physical pain – cluster headaches, shingles, kidney stones, endometriosis and the like – and seek consolation from somebody who’s been there too. May these words help you see the silver linings of your pain.
One Year Pain Free
Today marks one year since severe pain left my body. On July 13, 2021, after 92 days of horrific pain shooting from my lower back down my left leg, the pain turned into a whisper. On the 14th, the whisper softened and by July 17th, it was gone.
Yes, I’d had brain surgery to remove a massive tumor. Yes, I’d had throbbing pain in my head lasting from five to 32 days at a time for five years, and I gave birth naturally at home… Sure, those things hurt. But at least with childbirth, I had a baby. And the pain only lasted a handful of hours. Severe sciatica was living hell. When I called a renowned Reiki Master one day, she told me I’d experienced more pain than most humans ever will.
What was all this other pain for? How could I make sense of it?
Complaining seemed insane, especially after a near death experience. For crying out loud, I was alive. In a way, I had lost the capacity to complain – everything was so tear-jerkingly beautiful after near death.
That’s when some blend of curiosity and humility took hold of me. I began asking God, Source, Love…
What is this pain for? What are the gifts I am receiving through this pain, that will help me love humanity better? Please help me see clearly. I am not a victim; I am a creator, creating this experience. Please help me see the perfect order that’s underway here. Please help me see through the eyes of Love.
And sure enough, my prayers were answered. Multiple gifts were shown to me, one at a time. Through severe pain and the choice to seek wisdom from the divine, I was shown ways of seeing that would make my days far more gratifying. I was shown how to strengthen emotional and spiritual muscles that made me a better friend and parent. Today marks one year free of pain and from here, the pain in my past looks like glimmering jewels. Nothing but an enormous gift – every split second of it.
When you’re in severe pain, your attention can’t be anywhere but right here now. Your capacity to focus on what you’ll do tomorrow or who’s saying what in the next room, is gone. All I could do when my sciatic nerve sent lightning down my leg was b-r-e-a-t-h-e. One deep inhale, one deep exhale at a time to be with the pain until it softened. Even a little. Pain level five felt galaxies better than pain level 10. All I could do was be here now. Breathing.
Does this sound familiar to those of you who’ve had appendicitis, fibromyalgia or a heart attack?
While our modern, albeit primitive society would tell us this is a limitation or disadvantage, it’s not. Being here now, being present, accepting that Now is all there is, is actually a gift. For years we can read books that tell us about the power of now, and listen to inspiring talks about the present. Yet until we intake this awareness with our whole intelligence – not just our mental brain, which is unwisely pedestalized in this society – we’ve not fully gotten the memo.
Pain helps get us there. It offers no escape from this, here, now.
Take it from Ram Dass, whose book Be Here Now will forever grace my bookshelf. Or Eckhart Tolle who wrote The Power of Now, or any other masterful human consciousness who sees with clarity. This moment is actually all there is. Now is where wonder is, and freedom. Now is the only time we can feel bliss.
Thank you, Pain, for the gift of presence.
In years past, I’ve been a generally caring person – sensitive, understanding, and kind enough to be empathetic. Yet living through extended, horrid pain left my empathy cup overflowing.
One day, I was on a call with my coach to explore the gifts pain might be bringing me. He said, “Jess, maybe one of pain’s gifts is empathy.” He talked about digestive issues he’s had since chemotherapy, and how his stomach pain has raised his empathy level for other people who go through this. “Maybe you can now more deeply connect with others who are in severe pain – in a way that most people can’t.”
For the many-thousandth time, he nailed it. Dozens of times in the past year, I’ve connected deeply with people much faster than I did before, and our connection noticeably deepened when I told them about the pain I’d been through. Suddenly, to them, their pain seemed smaller. Somehow, they felt seen after being reminded they weren’t alone. Someone understood them. They were in good company.
For three months with sciatica, I could stand but I couldn’t sit. Sitting caused a pinch of lightning in my lower back that would become a hurricane of pain if I didn’t stand back up. Often, a friend or my daughter would tie my shoes so I could go for a walk.
One afternoon I headed out for a walk and two blocks from home, my sneaker laces came untied but I couldn’t bend over to tie my shoe. Well, I’ll just ask someone to tie my shoe. No big deal. Up ahead, the big door to a bike shop was open and inside stood its owner, Tim, who I knew from college days, and a local guy named Araan who is an avid cyclist with a festive spirit. I said hi and a minute later, “Guys, I need to ask you something.”
Tears began cascading from my face. It was like a damn broke inside of me. It had just been too much. Too much pain for too long. I stood there sobbing and asked, “Will one of you please tie my shoe?”
Araan practically dove to my feet. He didn’t think; he simply served. Love led him, not judgment or other forms of fear. Clearly he had gotten the empathy memo in life.
I will never forget that day.
It’s almost as if pain lets us feel closer to each other. When we relate, we feel seen. Feeling for each other deepens intimacy – and I mean human closeness, not necessarily the romantic kind.
Somehow, I can now see that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Even when life feels awfully unkind and the pain hurts so, so, so bad… it is simply a matter of fact that freedom is a choice. Individually, we can accept this or not. It’s up to each and every one of us to choose to trust that this is possible, and lean into light to bring it into being. Having lived through my own version of this, I can now share it more.
Thank you, Pain, for the gift of empathy.
When we’re in the middle of awful pain, it’s hard to see or feel anything else. It can be especially tough to see the gifts we’re being given, the rainbow of beauty that awaits on the other side of pain, how this is all somehow in perfect order. Our perception can feel hazy, our thoughts worthless, our days lacking motivation because… it just. Hurts. So. bad.
For some of us, pain comes through cancer or migraines. For others, through injury. To own our power as creators, we must take responsibility for what we are experiencing rather than playing victim and blaming something outside ourselves.
From this place of empowerment, we ask God within ourselves, How did I create this pain? Then, we listen – and when we receive a clear response to our question, we choose to point ourselves toward healing. One action, one breath, at a time, we choose to heal.
Once we feel we’ve healed the cause of the pain we created, we’re still in a body with freedom to choose. Sometimes, we’ll choose mindfully and continue being pain free. Sometimes, we’ll slip and make choices that lead us back into pain. Does addiction, for example, ever totally subside? When we are tempted to outsource our needs – through alcohol, nicotine, shopping or screen time, for example – do we choose to listen to how our body feels about that through its impeccable communication and subtle cues, or do we wait until the pain gets worse, forcing our body to scream for help?
As for me, severe pain through sciatica was enough to never want to go back there again. Once when I began to slip, I called on friends and wrote in my journal to help me commit to feeling good again. Humbled by my humanity, I recovered within a couple days and felt great again. Even though a year has passed from severe pain, I am still so deeply imprinted by the strike of its ferociousness, that I’m motivated to keep feeling good.
We sometimes need horrific pain as a motivator to choose health. All the while, our bodies ask us: Are you willing to listen to my subtle cues and then follow my lead? Or do you need me to scream?
Thank you, Pain, for the gift of motivation. (Turns out, I really like anti-inflammatory superfoods like walnuts and blueberries. Thanks, Sciatica!)
We give things the meaning they have for us. You will take these thoughts, apply what’s helpful and toss what doesn’t. Choosing to see pain as a gift is one way we can find freedom.
Let all the criticisms take a back seat in your inner theater. “You’re vain” or “You're narcissistic” or “You're too focused on yourself” …
When you hear or feel those thoughts coming from other people, and you feel triggered, then that’s YOUR inner voice projecting its own self-loathing. Time to turn your attention toward Self and dose UP the Love, affection, sweetness, being, praise. Turn your attention toward acceptance of your choice to love yourself. It's brave in a culture that calls it selfish.
Just ask Buddha. Wink wink.
And goodness, let's look at the other side of the Self-Loathing and Self-Love spectrum!
If you feel at peace — or even enraptured — in your willingness to do the great work of loving yourself, keep SHINING! I'm doing 12 kartwheels beside you. What's your favorite song? The whole world is singing it to you right now. Your courageous inner Light is blazing new paths for a more Love-based humanity.
Ode to YOU, bright star.
To My Precious Body,
For weeks, I’ve been wanting to write you this letter. I knew you had been inviting me to see the cellulite on your thighs and the rolls of fat on your belly through loving eyes. I felt how it hurt you when I criticized myself for all those years of eating too much food and sugar.
Then last night my greatest teacher lit a fire under my pen. As she reached for another brownie at bedtime, I yelled at her.
That was it. It’s time to climb completely out of my cage of self hatred.
Remember when I was 14 and I tore off magazine covers featuring supermodels, and taped them to my bedroom wall? Paulina Porizkova, Helena Christensen, dozens of them. Cindy Crawford was my favorite. I was tall and brunette like her. I thought perhaps if I was just a bit thinner, I might be as pretty as her. After all, these women got tons of attention for how they looked. That meant they were totally worthy of love — right?
Years passed and I continued my path of overeating, especially sugar. Mint chip ice cream and rainbow-dyed marshmallow cereal offered a quick kick for my somber moods. When I felt lonely, the pleasure of one more piece of buttered toast gave my tongue and tummy company.
I spent most of my life overweight, trying many times to exercise and eat well enough to be slender or even just lean. Once I crashed on my bike and fractured your jaw in three places, dropping from 162 lbs to 128, and boy did that get attention. People stared when I walked down the street. And the weight came back within months; I wasn’t done imprisoning myself through you.
Twenty years later, in January 2021, I reached the end of addiction’s tunnel with the diagnosis of a massive brain tumor.
You’d had enough. You’d reached your limits and were screaming at me. My neurosurgeon said, “We don’t know why the tumor is there. It could have been growing for 10 or 20 years.”
My precious body, you told me why it was there. We have our story. It’s ours and it’s what I go by.
I was killing you by outsourcing pleasure. Sweetness for my lips. One more bite. Another. Decades went by like this.
I felt utterly hopeless in my dream of fully loving you. Would it ever work?
Surely a child would offer miracles. Children are the original gurus.
So when my daughter was born in 2013, I vowed to heal from addiction so I didn’t transfer my trauma to her. She’s nine now and has a healthy relationship with sugar. It’s balanced. She’s never been given sugar for her feelings. We talk about “strong body food” to help her be mindful. She eats cookies and ice cream with joy. Her body is lean. Her thighs and belly live without the guilt I grew up with.
She was seven when I told her all about my struggles with sugar. When my tumor was diagnosed, I shut the door on food addiction. Now 14 months later, although my body feels better than ever, there are still stains of guilt that creep to the surface sometimes.
A big stain surfaced last night.
It was bedtime. There was one brownie left and my daughter wanted it. At bedtime?! When she’d already had one before dinner? No, no… that’s just not the way we roll.
She asked me once. I answered, “No.”
She asked me again. Annoyed by her repeated request, I firmly told her, “I said, No.”
A third time, “Mama, but I really want another one…”
Out came my full-on tiger fangs. I looked at her and yelled, firm and fierce, “I told you No… three times, NO!”
Ouch. Dear body, the roar hurt my throat. And it battered my heart. I stood there in our kitchen, post-bath, wrapped in an orange towel, stunned.
My daughter is the last person I want to show my shadow. For her to be aware of my story, its pain and sorrow — that’s fine. But for her to be on the receiving end of my unresolved grief — that’s out of bounds.
She stood, frozen. Time stopped. And for the first time in her life, she simply stared at me. Seconds passed, her gaze stayed fixed on me and I couldn’t take my eyes from hers.
I watched as her eyes became pillows of tears, her face full of tender, swollen hurt.
Fear's ego in me was gone. I had fucked up; I was being so human; here we are.
Being frozen in upset with the greatest Love of my life felt utterly potent. We held each other’s gaze until she could fully feel the hurt and I could witness the impact of my immature reaction.
“I am so sorry, my girl. That is not the way Mama wants to be with you.” We stayed, gazing, as I watched one tear at a time spill from her precious eyes. She simply let me look at her and she simply looked at me. We were together. And as crappy as it felt to have yelled at her like that, my dear body, you knew that this moment offered sacred intimacy.
“Can Mama tell you why I yelled like that?”
She nodded, not ready to speak.
My dear body, you spoke to me without words, drawing a picture of why I chose harsh tiger fangs over grace.
“How does Mama feel when you ask me something once, and I answer you, and then you ask again and again? Do I feel happy about that or do I get annoyed?”
She nodded. She knows.
“That’s the first reason I yelled. I was mad.”
Her eyes, still wet.
“And you know that Mama has struggled with sugar and that I don’t want you to to struggle with it, too. You know Mama got a brain tumor and how scary that was. I don’t want that much pain for you, my girl. I was scared when you asked for another brownie.”
She kept listening.
My heart was humbled, softened, loose. There was nowhere on Earth I would rather be. Surrender spoke.
“My lady, Mama wants to tell you something I haven’t told you yet. Is that OK?”
She nodded, her heart still softened, calm and yet awake.
“My sweet girl, even though Mama takes good care of my body now…”
I showed her my belly. “I still have more fat than my body wants. It sticks around because of all the years I didn’t eat well.”
I grabbed my belly’s biggest roll of fat to show her what I meant. Then I moved my bath towel to show her my thigh. “Do you know what cellulite is?”
She nodded, no.
“It’s these bumps on my thigh. It’s body fat. And Mama’s legs have it here because of all those years when I wasn’t my body’s best friend.”
We were calm and communed. The moment was still. She listened intently as I shared my story with her. Then we hugged and went about our ways.
An hour later, as I pulled out the vacuum from the hallway closet, I heard my daughter call to me from the bathroom. I walked in and found her standing at the sink with her head hung low.
“Yes?” I responded.
She looked me straight in the eyes, her face ripe with a fresh pool of tears, and said, “I like your body just the way it is. I don’t want you to be thinner.”
Yes, I could have died happy right there.
In the presence of the innocent heart of a child, 46 years of self-loathing slid off the surface of my skin. Cellulite formed on my legs because I, as an innocent baby, and then a child, and into my teenage years and further, couldn’t find my way to freedom. With every chocolate chip cookie I ate and every judgmental thought I chose that followed, I kept thickening the walls of my own prison.
Perhaps some people don’t choose addiction to cope with their childhood trauma. Perhaps some people don’t create experiences of severe pain and near-death — whether consciously or subconsciously — in order to see more Light.
I admire people who listen to their bodies' subtle cues and don't need to wait for a scream. I’m not one of those people. Or at least, I wasn't until now.
For me, a path of gnarly physical rigor was painted in this Life. And now that I’ve unlocked my prison door and set myself free, I can see that you, dear body, have always been here for me. Impeccable in your communication, resiliently digesting and detoxing all the junk I stuffed you with all those years, surviving brain surgery and continuing to breathe.
Today I give thanks for deepened empathy. With a big scar on my skull and lots of dimples on my thighs, I extend my whole tender heart to my billions of human sisters and brothers who dance with addiction.
Cellulite, you are a call for Love. And yesterday, you were embraced by the innocent heart of a child. I am sorry for demonizing you all these years, when it was me who chose the prison I was living in. You weren't the "bad guy". My eyes for Love were closed.
Do you forgive me?
Dear body, I thank you for being my teacher until we go to the grave. In this Life, you have always been one of my best friends. Words begin to escape me when I contemplate how different it feels now that I, too, am your best friend.
When we part ways and you become rich food for worms and whales, may we still be in Love.
It has been fifteen months since my skull was sliced open and, nine hours later, the skin closed shut with 52 titanium staples. A massive benign brain tumor was removed and I was left with a voice inside my womb that’s whispered, all of the 463 days since then:
I had heard it before. “Life is short.” Live fully now; it’s all we’ve got. Don’t hold off ’til tomorrow what you can do today.
Yet, for the first 46 years of my life, somehow those messages landed just partially — until brain surgery, when yellow streams of light flashed before me in the ICU and my pelvis was tattooed with their whispers.
The streams of light said, Jessica, if your life is really all about Love, then live it fully now.
I got the memo. Decided, done, no question, above all else, I am Love’s servant. Why? Because I Am Love. Love is Who We Are. Literally.
Walk up to a grocery market cash register? See Love in the cashier’s eyes. Reflect it back to them in yours. Pass a pregnant woman walking down the sidewalk? Adore her with your eyes’ praise. Get yelled at by your husband because he thinks you’re lazy and you’re doing things half-assed? Take a jog listening to heavy metal; let your anger move through your blood vessels and out with your sweat; see the innocent little boy still living inside of him, who was told by his father that he was unworthy of Love. Pull up to your favorite café on a bike? Greet the 90-year-old man with a reverent hello in a country that’s lost its marbles, tossing elders into the ditch of loneliness after 32,850 days of service and breath.
Yesterday in Texas, once again America saw slaughter. I cannot know the grief inside the mothers’ hearts whose babies lives were stolen. I pray to never know this pain myself.
And yet again, there is a memo: You are having a human experience. Your body is mortal.
Covid reminds us of this. Cancer. Fatal car crashes. Suicide. Our bodies die. And yet somehow we walk around in a daze, encaged by our own pretending. We think we can wait one more day or one more year to tell someone we love them. For six weeks after brain surgery, there were dozens of people who flooded my living room with flowers and my phone with “I love you.” I was near death. Were they waiting until they almost lost me?
So we wait. Until one day, our loved one is laying in the hospital, and at last we spill our tear drenched words upon their final breaths: I love you.
Love is who we are, and one breath is all we’ve got. Will we wait until our head’s sliced open, or our child is murdered, or our mother’s on her death bed, to remember this?
The deepest canyons are carved inside the human heart. Grief coats our planet today around what happened yesterday in Uvalde, Texas. Here’s one of the best captures I’ve read about it, Tragedy in Uvalde by Marianne Williamson.
Human being is a vivid, messy, despicably painful and gloriously beautiful thing. Choosing to live as the Love we are isn’t easy. Yet it’s simple. In her poem, “Wild Geese”, Mary Oliver reminds us, “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” Listen to her reading it, to support yourself in choosing Love today?
One week until International Woman’s Day (March 8th)! How are you celebrating?
Which woman in your Life comes to mind when you are awake enough to feel the huge WOW of Her?
Who causes your heart to recognize the astounding power of Woman— as a creator of Life, as a powerhouse of complex orchestration, so potently attuned to the power of feelings, a sumptuous delight of divine floral expression?
Is it your mother? Is it Rosa Parks, Marianne Williamson, Maya Angelou, Brené Brown, Oprah Winfrey, Greta Thunberg, Julia Butterfly Hill? Is it the mother of your child, or the blossoming Woman within your daughter?
Look in the mirror. If you’re a woman, let it be YOU, too, who appears when you’re wowed with awe.
Just look at YOU… living and speaking your truth, an expression of Love with every chance you get. Woman, you are the essence of stunning beauty, ALIVE.
You matter big time.
Open your eyes wide.
Own your power, your succulence, your freedom in this one precious Life.
Dear women, if you could use a big burst of support to help you see the Love you ARE in the “mirror” of your own soul’s eyes, stay tuned as we launch our sacred, sensual RebirthHer ceremony on Saturday March 5th. Our free online version will be offered here at no cost to women worldwide, for International Women's Day.
If it was up to us, there'd be no war.
Woman, you are held. 🙏🏽✨
One year ago today I had brain surgery and was gifted a near death experience (NDE) that has lit-up my Life inexplicably. Dear readers, I am thrilled to report it's been a stellar recovery. Every day offers tears of awe.
Today I'm more convinced than ever: We are here to revel. Truly, the veil between Life and death of the body is thin. It could be "over" so fast. One day, it will be. So for now, LET'S LIVE IT UP! Reveling in the gift of breathing, laughing, crying, feeling, laying our noses in the bosom of spring roses, laying our eyes on the rainbows that dance on clouds and ponds.
Last night I let the full moon kiss my shoulders.
To fully accept that it is just as much a joy for the moon to kiss my shoulders as it is for me to praise her face and glow... to me, that is being alive. Feeling this connection, this state of being in-Love with nature, is like a dance that never stops!
How could I share this joy I feel in Rebirth with all of humanity?
When I asked this question to my "higher self" the answer I got was: RebirthHer. Laying on a massage table, in autumn 2021, I saw a vision of a sacred ceremony I'd lead for women to give birth to ourselves. For the past six months, I've been feeding this vision and it's now just two weeks away.
RebirthHer is a sacred ceremony for women who choose to co-create a world of Love over fear, held near San Francisco on March 5, 2022 in honor of International Women's Day.
To make it happen, I'm raising $1,000 in February for ceremony materials. Please donate what you can! Any amount is appreciated. Those giving $100 or more will be offered a 45-minute Rebirth-themed coaching session with me in exchange for your contribution. Thank you!
Beautiful you, we've got one day to live.
Here now, what makes you feel alive? What are you grateful for? If you could do one thing today to feel deliciously energized and vibrant... what would that be?
Every day is a chance to be reborn into a state of mind that's laced with union, oneness, pleasure, depth and silliness. Hike up a hill, bask in the sun, sing your favorite song super loud, take a bubble bath, dive into the sea, make yourself laugh with a profane joke, stretch for five minutes... What can you do right now to feel the gift of being alive? We are free to choose to feel good now. And when slip, we can recover. That is leaning into Light.
On this one-year anniversary, I send you all Great Love as a reminder it is what you're made of!
From my moonlit heart to yours~
Jessica Rios, Founder of Leaning into Light, was born with a divine pen in her pelvis. She is a lifelong letter writer, a thought leader in Love, and she writes memoirs. This blog is devoted to her greatest passion: illuminating the beauty of the human spirit.