A Case Against Santa Clause

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Allow me to make an unpopular statement and become the most unpopular person you know (as if I’m not used to that already anyway): I hate the tradition of Santa Clause. I hate the idea of lying to kids about some old fat guy who lives in an unlivable region of the world with a bunch of elves who work all year ’round to make little brats around the world toys. I hate the idea that this creepy old dude spies on my kids all year long and checks off a list if they’re naughty or nice. I have a 14 year old, and I never told her Santa was real. She tells me I stole her childhood from her (really, of all the ways I screwed up this is the example she uses of how I ruined her childhood?) but this is hindsight. What if I lied to her for years and then one day said, “Ooops sorry sweetheart I’ve been lying to you all these years. I buy those gifts and wrap them.”

I wanted the credit all along!! It’s really ME buying all those thoughtful gifts!

Let me make my case with an example of how lying backfires:

Last year my step son ran in the house after school, past me and straight into his room crying. Uh oh, I thought, what now? My husband walks in looking absolutely defeated and says, “He started asking too many questions about Santa and so I finally told him Santa wasn’t real.”

He didn’t know Santa wasn’t real!??! I exclaimed.

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That is surprising given how vocal I am about how fake the dude is.

All season long I get the joy of having to mind my Ps and Qs on this topic and not spoil it for all the boys and girls, and their parents who feel the need to use this as a disciplining tool. Look, if you have to lie to your kids about a big fat guy in a red suit watching them all year long (and what does this teach kids about privacy?!) then you got worse problems than I can address here.

Don’t get me started on how I am a bad mom for not letting my children believe in “magic” and the “spirit of Christmas” because let’s face it- I am a yogi (I guess) and I believe in energy, astrology, the healing power of sage smudging and meditating. Like right now, I blame my being in a bad mood on Mars and the Moon being in Scorpio. I am aware of my own insanity and I actually relish in it. So don’t tell me I don’t believe in magic.

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And also, in case we all forgot, Christmas…CHRIST mas, is about Jesus. And if we want to focus our energy on teaching them magic, let’s teach them about the miracle of immaculate conception.

***Disclaimer*** I do not consider myself a Christian and I am not against the faith. I love faithful people and I love faiths when they spread the word of peace and love. And on that note…

This season to me is about family, reflecting on the past year and creating and acting on hopes for the coming new year. I love putting up a Christmas tree and decorating it. I love buying gifts and wrapping them and watching my family unwrap them (but I don’t love giving credit where it isn’t due). I love the baking, the Christmas lights everyone else takes the time to put up on their house that I’m too lazy to do on mine. I run a daycare and I love doing Christmas arts and crafts. I love the movies and the stories and to me that’s the magic of it.

I had to have the conversation last night with my husband about the whole Santa thing. My 10 year old step son, you know, the one who was traumatized last year learning that Santa didn’t actually exist, wants to lie to our daughter (who is barely 2) about Santa. They got that creepy Elf on the Shelf (another stupid tradition in my book…if you do it, no judgement, but I’ve avoided it all these years till now). We have to figure out a way to not lie to our kid about this, and yet not have her ruin it for everyone else.

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We came to the agreement to tell her it’s a Christmas story and not to ruin it for the other kids. I would even go a step further and say that it’s “our little secret” so she feels somewhat special even though that clearly didn’t work on my oldest.

I already know I’m going to get the Mother of the Year club after me telling me they can’t believe I would do this, that I’m ruining Christmas for my kid, why am I doing this, and that I’m no fun. I don’t care. She’s my kid. I don’t want to lie to her. You do what you want with your kid. I’m not passing judgement to you (at least not to your face) so please have the decency to offer me the same courtesy.

I keep reading how all these moms have these 5, 6, 7 and 8 year old kids who keep asking questions about Santa and testing, like they’re figuring it out and the moms are like, “how do we prolong this lie?!” And I would say (and get screamed at for it) don’t. Let it go. But you figure out how to tell them you’ve been lying but please, why delay the inevitable?

So, I hate lying to my kids about Santa and I refuse. I just do. If you’re with me let’s start a club because I’m starting to feel a little lonely over here. And you may not want to bring your kids around me cuz um, loose lips sink ships. I try my best but sometimes my honesty just slips. Super sorry about that.

With that being said, Merry Christmas!! I don’t even say Happy Holidays, I say Merry Christmas because just ’cause I hate the tradition of lying doesn’t mean I don’t love the holiday for everything else it stands for. See? I’m not such a terrible human being.

Tales from the Evil Step Mom ***Rated M for Language***

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One of the most precarious “jobs” I have ever undertaken was being a step mom. Now, before I get the “I love my step children like my own and you should too!” Mom Club screaming profanities at me about what a terrible human being I am, understand that I am only human and clearly not the super human you people are.  I should also preface by saying that my step son isn’t a bad kid and I know this, but it was clear to me in the beginning of my relationship with his father that he didn’t receive much, um, parental guidance. I like to think I have actually influenced him positively, in that he uses manners, understands boundaries, doesn’t interrupt adults to carry on his own story, and calls his dad “papa” instead of “dude.”

I should also say that yes, I am a terrible human being.

One thing you may notice in society that is totally shitty for step moms is how when a man marries a woman with a child, or children, and he starts treating the child like his own, he is revered. Often times even the birth dad is glad the new dude is taking such an active role in the kid’s life and not being a total ass hat. Now let’s apply this to a woman who marries a man with a child and starts treating the kid like her own. Suddenly she is stepping on birth mom’s toes and getting too involved in the child’s life and needs to step back and stop trying to replace mom, oh and she will never be as good a wife as the first.

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Friends, I’ve been on both sides of this. I was the crazy ex-wife with my first child. Her dad starting dating this chick who decided that yes, she would be there at drop off for my child’s first day of kindergarten (holding her hand the whole way to the door, breaking my heart into a million pieces) and my ex-husband let me know that she would also be attending parent teacher conferences (until I had it court ordered that no, she wouldn’t). Suffice it to say, my ex was and still kind of is, an ass. Luckily at 35, I think that I have found the maturity and grace to deal with it.

But at 24 and 25, nope, not at all. I was either crying over how unfairly I was being treated or calling him and screaming to him about his bitch little girlfriend and how she needed to back up or I was going to knock her out. He thought I was jealous (as a lot of ex-wives are) but I assure you, there is an ick factor associated with my ex and I was glad he had moved on. I was pissed he kept insisting I needed to leave the picture.

Not my best days, I get it. But maybe you can understand why.

And I did level with the girl after a few years and we came together and hugged it out and had a respectful relationship for the net few years. Then she did what any self-respecting girl would do; made my ex her ex, too.

Well, it took until I was about 32 to fall in love with a man with a child. And ladies, if you’re in your thirties and dating, and want to settle down, expect to find yourself square in the shoes of the dreaded position of being the Wicked Step Mom.

One word of caution: Do NOT resort to permissiveness in order to garner love from these children who aren’t yours. I refuse, and I don’t claim that I am perfect or have handled every situation perfectly, but I am glad for those moments when I stood up to my step son (and his mother, though I wish some of those encounters were more, uh, graceful) because it showed him (and her) early on that I wasn’t getting stepped on. (Get it? Stepped on, step mom?!) Luckily, my step son is actually a really good kid and just wants to please. He’s very sweet and silly and just pushes boundaries like most kids do (except my oldest, she was a perfect angel, so there). Sure, he does annoying kid crap that every kid does, and expect yourself to be annoyed X10 more at the step kids than your own because the fact is well, they’re NOT your own.

Which brings me to another annoying thing that’s expected from step moms that we don’t see expected of step dads: were supposed to love these kids like we birthed them when well, we didn’t. Every time I hear a step mom say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I love my step kids like they’re my own.” I secretly want to punch her in the face.

Do not EVEN get me started on this whole Bonus Mom-Bonus Kid garbage. I don’t get it. I love my step dad like my dad but he is not my dad. I call him by his first name. Why is that so bad? And for the record I’m sure he would agree that I was no bonus child for him.

When my husband met my daughter, it was fully expected on when and where, and my ex knew and could have cared less. We stayed out of each other’s way and trusted the other one to bring people around who weren’t peddling drugs and weren’t sex offenders. I think we just sat down and watched Star Wars (gag) and those two talked and my daughter lit up thanking me for bringing him into her life. (Of course now she barely wants to be home because my husband is “too positive”, but that’s a whole other blog!).

No pressure from the birth dad on who my now husband had to be, no guilt, no shaming, no interviewing from my ex. And NO ex in laws to pepper into the experience and add to the awkwardness.

When I met my step son? Totally different experience.

It was the most awkward meeting in the history of meetings, in my opinion. First, his mother refused to allow my husband to have him meet me until she met me first which I guess had to happen on the same day. I’m not even sure how it happened exactly and I felt completely ambushed by all these people.  She literally sauntered into my now husbands former living room one morning, me looking all disheveled and her nicely dressed for work, hair done, make up on. (Thanks hunny!) She walks into the apartment and goes right into my husband’s fridge to put something in it like she lives there. And did I mention her mother was living there with him half the time?

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I could write a book on all the boundary crossing my dear sweet husband wasn’t seeing in the first months of our relationship that I had to make him aware of, thus adding to my Evil Factor but god forbid the poor guy be able to move on…just sayin’. To make matters worse, she played the part of the victim the entire time, crying about how nervous she was meeting me and wanted to “make sure” my now husband and I were the real deal and would never break up because she didn’t want a slew of women brought around her son.

Mind you, I was like two months into this. WTF?! I don’t know lady, I barely know what I’m having for lunch later and I haven’t even had coffee, I can’t predict the next 80 years of my life for you. Sheesh.

I simply asked her if she had any questions for me and it went straight into job interview mode. I cannot make this up, she literally said, with a forced awkward smile and hair toss, “Um, do you have any felonies?”

Oh. My. Fucking. God. No girl, no you fucking didn’t take it there.

Sitting in my pajamas having my morning already ruined by this ambush with this bullshit and having no fucks left to give, my natural snarkiness spit out the words, “no, and that’s a matter of public record if you’d like to Goggle it.”

BAM.

Fast forward a few hours later and the ex-mother in law enters the apartment using her key (seriously cannot make this shit up!) with my husband’s kid, back from school.

How cool! I get to meet the ex-wife, HER mom (who I met BEFORE my own mother in law) AND the kid on the same day in the same awkward living room. The kid seems clearly traumatized (“who is this petite blonde who is the complete polar opposite of my mom?!” I imagine him thinking… “is SHE now my mom?”) I can’t remember, this was a few years ago and was so traumatic I think I tried to force it from my consciousness, but for whatever reason my step son was leaving with mom and grandma after that weird interaction when grandma literally tells the kid with her thick Puerto Rican accent, “Go give Erica a hug.”

My insides rise to my throat and I almost vomit my stomach from my mouth, which goes dry. My armpits sweat. Umm, he clearly doesn’t want to hug me. Don’t make him hug me, I don’t want to hug him either! It’s weird to hug a kid who doesn’t want to hug you! What is this ambush?! Where is the consent on both sides for this??! Oh god I guess this is happening…I guess we’re hugging.

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I’m not sure who was more traumatized, him or me.

Let’s fast forward a few years. My husband and I are now officially married. We have a 20 month old daughter of our own and lots and lots of things have changed but believe me when I tell you, my oldest daughter likes her step dad enough but I am still the evil step mom.

At least my toddler loves me.

I have learned so much from being with a man with a child. I haven’t always behaved the best and let the ex and her kid push my buttons. Sometimes I think that maybe it’s a relationship contract that we all entered into at some point in the after-life from our previous lives in order to grow and learn from shit in this life because let me tell you, it isn’t always easy! I talk to so many step moms who say the same thing. There’s even a step mom magazine and hundreds of Facebook support groups for step moms.

Are there any for step dads? No! Why? Because they don’t need it! Men don’t really talk about their feelings anyway but I honestly believe that they truly just do not need it. They stay the fuck out of shit that isn’t their business and control only what they can. Life’s too dam short to worry. Let the ex be crazy. Let them fly off the handle if that’s what they choose to do.  I read so many step moms (you know, from my support group) bitch and moan and complain about HCBM (which I learned means High Conflict Baby Mama) and all the drama they start and shit they pull.

I get it, kind of. I’m lucky in that BM isn’t like HIGH conflict, she’s just a conflict and I get it. I understand how hard it is to leave your family from unhappiness and feel conflicted about another woman coming in and “taking over.” I understand it from the BM point of view, and now from the lovely position of being “the other”, never seen as family in the eyes of BM (yet her husband is because remember, step dads are always AWESOME!)but just the chick her (super hot) ex-husband married. It’s no excuse for poor behavior, but I get it.

We have to love this life right now. It’s too damn short. I have a friend who said fuck it to being a step mom because the kids were rotten and life’s too short. I get that too. If being a step parent is too difficult for you, don’t. In all honesty, if I had to do it over, I probably wouldn’t. Women have it hard enough in this society. Were literally never enough and as a step mom multiply that by 100. You are down the hole in the negatives as a human being. You suck.

Eckhart Tolle talks about living in the present moment and when we complain about things and people we can’t control we step out of present moment and keep reliving the past. We create stories in our brains and relive them over and over and over again, punishing ourselves and not them, because they may not even give two shits what’s killing you. Why do we do this???

We can take responsibility for our own thoughts, actions and deeds and be okay when others don’t. It’s called being the bigger person. This doesn’t mean we need to call up BM and be like, “Hey girl! Super sorry let’s be friends after all!” And schedule coffee dates and shopping trips. Believe me, I’ve tried that and wound up as a secretary and punching bag. So I quit and my life has simplified.

But I can control the thoughts that I have and decide which ones just aren’t serving me, and cease to have them. Change that neural circuitry. Stop letting blame and shame or whatever yours is, be the default. Believe me when I say this is my life’s work:Just to simply be a better fucking person. I don’t even know what job I’ll have in ten years but I see my biggest job as the influence I have over my children, and step child, as the most important. They watch our actions, they don’t listen to our words.

My mom and dad managed to have a great relationship after their divorce (ok, ok it took a few years). So my expectation was that I could do that with my ex (apparently not) and with my husband’s ex (nope nope and double fuck that nope). Expectations cause so much suffering, don’t they? It leads to guilt and shame. I feel guilty I can’t get along with my husband’s ex. Why? Because women are supposed to be the peace keepers. We’re supposed to be it all. Loving mothers, perfectly put together wives who are ready to be our husbands sex kittens at a moment’s notice, and we must love everyone and everything including children who are not our own. But we’re not! And we don’t because we’re human. Deep down often times we’re catty bitches to one another. (there I said it, fuck you).We tear each other down because we tear ourselves down. We bitch and moan and complain because of all these stupid pressures placed upon us but I ask this: who is really placing these pressures on us? Could it be us at the end of the day? Can I let the control freak in me just relax and let things happen organically as they should? Can you?

If we stop giving a shit what others think we should be, maybe all those stupid pressures will go away.

I am an irritable swamp demon who takes care of infants and toddlers all day for a living but damn it I do try my best. I really, really do. It’s all we can do, right?

PS- any step moms wanna offer words of wisdom, feel free to comment. Want to rip me apart? Ok fine, but I reserve the right to delete. It’s time to start empowering each other instead of tearing each other down.

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Rules For Life

AS I sit here, I’m on my third day of feeling a slight cold that’s not uncommon of a childcare provider working all day with the under three crowd in her house. I’ve been allowing myself to sleep in which means I wake up around 6:45 every morning instead of 5. I haven’t had a solid meditation practice in three days either and last night I took an Asthana class because I haven’t been exercising due to the sleep in (and I am not motivated enough in the evening for exercise!) which did NOT make me feel any better. I often judge myself when I get out of my spiritual and exercise routine and have to try and remember that nothing ever stays the same and things always seem to shift as they should, especially when we need to slow down and take care of ourselves.

I am one of those Virgo rising who really identifies with the darker side of Virgo-judgments, lists, rules, criticisms and it must be this way or that or everything is ruined. I’m often fickle and that can make me, well, cranky. 2017 has for sure been a year of examining what it is I need to let go of, and the big thing that came to me the other day was identification. What am I identifying with? What are you identifying with? As a species, what are we identifying with?

I wrote in my last blog about how we have this tendency to get wrapped in our attachments to our ego selves. I am a woman, I am a mom, I give up too easily,  I am too critical, I am too skinny, I don’t do enough, I take on too much then complain, I should be this way, I wish I was that way…and on and on we go. Then we take all that self-criticism and we identify ourselves with it. That brews up a whole mess of toxicity inside of us, whether we recognize it or not, and guess what? We project, judge and criticize others in an effort to keep our ego happy by saying, “Ok, maybe I am that way but they…”

Sound familiar?

I read Don Miguel Ruiz’s book The Four Agreements about 10 years ago. One of the agreements is Be Impeccable with your word. He says this one agreement will pull together all the other agreements: always do your best, don’t take anything personal, and don’t make assumptions. Often times when we are judging others we start gossiping about them. We may start to feel good about ourselves for a while, but if we self-reflect and examine the conversation, whether it took place with others or with ourselves, we can see that it’s actually brought up toxic emotions that plant their seeds in us rather than them. Often times the gossip is based off of assumptions about the other person. Sometimes we perceive something that that person has said or done to be a personal slight against us and we take it personal. And finally, gossiping and judging is not being our best selves, and it certainly is not doing our best

So I read that book ten years ago. TEN. And I still have to always remind myself “be impeccable with your word” because my inner critic finds so much judgment in myself and others and the gossip is hard to stop. This doesn’t mean that I always talk to other people about other people; I often times make these judgements in my head. Who doesn’t?  That’s our left brain ego. And we need that left brain, so let’s not demonize it. It’s there to tell us where we stop and others begin. It helps us cultivate healthy boundaries with people. It ensures that we stay safe and know who to trust and who not to trust. It gives us our likes and our dislikes. In short, left ego brain makes us who we are. And it’s not going away, but we can balance it with that compassionate, creative right side. That’s part of the work of life.

This is my huge goal for the coming new-year. Balance. Grace. Being impeccable with word and action.

2017 was heavy. Sometimes it was dark. We see so much shadow and dark coming up right now with the sexual harassment cases in Hollywood and the #metoo movement that was started a few months back. People are speaking up for themselves and they should. We need this to come up. We need to address these mass shooting attacks. I can’t comment on why it is happening or what laws need to be enacted in order to prevent these tragedies but I think there is clearly a deeper seated issue that we, as whole, as a collective of human being brothers and sisters, need to address. We are so divisive- I am Republican you are Democrat, I am for guns you are against, I’m on this end, you’re on that etc. That we forget that we are stronger when we work together, not apart.

We don’t all have to go out and be Gandhi in order to make a positive change in the world. I’m not always the nicest person, an armor I built up from years of people pissing on me and putting me down. Having married the nicest Puerto Rican man on earth I am learning what it means to be nice and create an aura of energy that attracts people rather than repel them. When do we finally let that protective armor down and learn how to create healthy boundaries with people, not take it personal when people are assholes to us, and show up as our best selves for those who need us to? And hell why not show up as our best selves for those who could care less and, what the hell, even ourselves, while we’re at it?! That’s the definition of always do your best.

Think back to a time you were really pissed off at someone and you either let it out in a fit of rage or you just stewed in it. How did that make you feel? Empowered? No. Happy? Hopefully not. Irritation happens. Anger happens. Being mad at someone who got our order wrong at Starbucks will more than likely happen. Being subpoenaed on a case involving someone you’d rather forget and someone you could care less about happens. Should we go yelling at our loved ones? No. Should we scream at the barista who made an honest mistake? That doesn’t seem right. Do we call the attorney a bitch for calling us in as a witness when it was her client who named us? Well, ya, I did that. I felt bad enough to call and apologize and see where I could level with her (and you know what? She couldn’t have been more gracious about it.) We find teachers in some of the most intriguing ways. Life lessons can range from huge-like an accident that leaves us impaired, a loved one dying or a divorce, to small- like the aforementioned wrong coffee order. Each instance gives us an opportunity to let something go (the anger, the unfairness, irritation) and grow. That’s what were really here for anyway.

Think about the word emotion for a second. E-MOTION. Energy, in Motion. That’s all emotions are. But we identify with them. If we don’t want to identify with our negative emotions, fine, don’t. But then don’t identify with the positive ones either because those, like water running through a river, will pass as well. If you’ve attached yourself to all this joy because of a new pair of shoes, you’ll be seriously pissed off when they get muddy which is probably inevitable. Suppressing our negative emotions is as unhealthy as suppressing the positive ones. This is what I mean by identification, and it shows us how we need to live unattached. Can we still love? Yes, but with freedom to understand that things will always change. In two words: LET GO.

The rules for life are simple in my book, though not always easy to follow. I promise to myself and all 12 people who actually read this that I will make every effort possible to be impeccable with my word. When judgements are placed upon me, I won’t take it personal because in reality it’s not. If you have a judgement, that is your judgement. You own that shit, and I will, too.

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor says, “Take responsibility for the energy you bring onto this room.” Perhaps this is the biggest rule of life we should all strive to live by.

Who IS doing all that talking?

While staying in Ahwahnee in a cabin in the woods for the holiday weekend with my family, we hiked a trail near the cabin and went in to see Yosemite. My idea was to do a digital detox and getting back in touch with nature. No social media and all the toxicity that goes along with it, phone only being used for the All Trails app to find hiking trails (which were plenty). I needed a reset and what a reset that was!

The weekend served as an important reminder to me. The past couple of months have seemed really heavy and seemingly for no apparent reason. There was a lot going on in Scorpio, a sign of death, mystery, regeneration, and letting go, but I felt stuck. I felt stuck in my old patterns of grudge holding and hanging on to past grievances. I felt heavy and dull. I could recognize it for what it was, but I couldn’t shake it off. Somehow my soul knew that nature was the way I needed to push that reset button.

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When I got back, it was back to reality. I love listening to the Super Soul Sunday podcasts when I hit the grocery store, an attempt to make the time pass with something “constructive” and positive. I happened to come across an episode with a scientist (neuroanatomist, to be more specific) named Jill Bolte Taylor about her book called, “My Stroke of Insight.” Since I have never experienced a stroke myself, I wasn’t sure the episode would have any relevance to me and about 10 minutes into it I almost flipped it off.

I could not have been more wrong about that.

She talked about her stroke which she had at the age of 37. I’m 35, and I pretty much still think I’m invincible. At the very least, I take my life completely for granted. These are the stories that remind me that anything can happen, even to the young and seemingly healthy.

Instead of talking about her stroke as something traumatic, she referred to it as a gift. What had happened was a hemorrhage on the left side of her brain- the logical, reasoning side. The side that houses our ego and personality. What she went on to describe sounded similar to Bill Hicks describing an acid trip. Having the right side of her brain completely take over she realized that we are all one, all brothers and sisters on this planet and there is no division except the division that we create. Yet as she was experiencing all that, her logical left kept chiming in, and that is probably what saved her life.

Being a neuroscientists, she knew she was in trouble but as she put it, she was at one point “prepared to transition.” She says she had no idea how, after seeing how expansive and big she really was, she could ever fit back into her tiny little body and she did not want to go back. But back in she did, and good thing too, as she lived to tell us about her story. When she started her recovery, which took about 7 years, all that old baggage she had before was right where she left it, and she simply chose not to pick it back up.

That was the aha moment for me. I paused; what baggage am I carrying around and more importantly whose?

I’m carrying too much baggage in the form of guilt, shame, irritation, anger, grievances, and I even carry around baggage that isn’t mine for people who probably don’t give me a second thought. Who hasn’t done this before, and who isn’t doing this same thing right now? How long have we held onto grudges with other people, and all the anger, reliving it over and over in our brains? Who are we really punishing when we do this?

Sometimes when I’m teaching a class, I feel myself starting to want to spout off clichés. “You are not your thoughts. Let go of the stories, be present in the moment.” This is all great and well, but if I don’t feel it when I say it, it lacks authenticity and lately I just haven’t felt it. They become just words. How can I teach what I don’t practice? And it was so simple after hearing Jill Bolte Taylor say the word that just clicked: baggage.

And when we sit and think about all this shit that makes us mad or irritated or makes us feel like we aren’t enough, what is that voice in the back of our head making us hold onto it? Who is talking?

That question never occurred to me before. Who is that voice? Why is it there? When did it develop? I take care of infants and toddlers all day long and I can tell you just from seeing their experiences that they don’t have that same voice. Infants just want to be held close and loved and they don’t worry about what others think of them. They’re really very simple. When did we get so complicated and self-conscious? Self-consciousness is exactly as it sounds—self conscious. Conscious of self. But who is the self?

Today in meditation I simply asked, “Who am I?” Over and over. When my left brain would pull me into thoughts that didn’t matter in that moment I brought myself back to the question of who am I? Who am I?

The ego likes to speak up first. Here’s a little of what mine sounds like, maybe yours is similar: “You are Erica. You’re 35 years old, mother of 2, step mother (and a lousy one at that) to 1. You own a childcare business that’s clearly not making you any money and you’re a boring yoga teacher on the side. You have no direction in life. Maybe you should have tried harder in school or not gotten married at 20 and had a baby (who now hates you) at 21. Don’t you need to start getting ready for your day? Why are you just sitting here? Aren’t there dishes in the sink that need to be handled? Anyway, you live in a crappy townhouse, you will never be as good as so-and-so and you suck as a wife too. Blah blah blah” and on and on it goes.

Who is doing that talking?  It can’t be me, and it certainly isn’t a friend. Can you imagine keeping a friend around who talked to you like that?

I chose to ignore those and concentrate on my question; who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Over and over and over. It wasn’t a fancy mantra. I didn’t have to say it in Sanskrit. But it was important.

What came up was so simple:

I am love.                                                                                   

I am all that is. I am you, I am my breathing. I am this earth.

But more importantly, I am love.

It was more of a feeling than a word. Love is, after all, a word that we assign to a feeling, an emotion, a concept. Something that isn’t tangible and can’t be held on to. That’s what makes it so hard to attain for ourselves, about ourselves.

Simply sit in quiet and ask yourself, “Who am I?” See what comes up. Expect ego attachments to flood in first, because the ego always has to be right, and first, and the loudest. Ask it, “Who are you?” Then get back to the important part: Who am I?

See what comes up. What have you got to lose?

Energetic shifts from the new moon solar eclipse- let’s get weird.

I’m not sure about anyone else, but I felt, and am still processing, the energies from Mondays solar eclipse.

I wondered why since the eclipse I felt completely energetically drained. My day job is running a small in home daycare so naturally I’m tired from kids all the time. But this felt different than my usual tiredness.

By Tuesday, an unknown leak in a pipe in my ceiling made the ceiling cave in and collapse, leaving a mess of roof all over my floor between my two bedrooms upstairs. Maybe it’s because I was so tired, I didn’t freak out over it. I called the landlord to get it fixed and it was done. The most stressful part of it all was that it was in the middle of nap time. The kids did great! Except my own since her room was inaccessible and she couldn’t get her nap. This did cause stress that was thrown into the toxic stew that would become my emotions later on.

Wednesday, a certain energetic vampire in my life caused the bit of drama I was anticipating would happen for a couple of weeks. The shoe finally dropped offering a tiny bit of relief in that it finally happened and was over (for now), but brought on more anxiety because I’m always waiting for the next shoe  to drop. It’s sad, but some people thrive on drama and need it to feed their own insecurities and inflated egos. I imagine this eclipse got these types worked into a frenzy as well. Most don’t even realize they’re doing it. This person is one such person and it’s a bummer for me because a kid is involved, seeing the behavior, and normalizing it.

On that same day, my teenager had the worst day of her high school life. And she’s only a few weeks into freshman year. She was having a total meltdown and me being an easy target, it was all taken out on me. I had to stop, breathe and ask myself how I could help. I went to her father to let him know what was going on. He was no help at all and instead basically told me I was the problem, I’m a terrible meat eater (yes that was thrown in is irrelevant as it is) and she hates living with me.

Excellent, isn’t it?

This is when my anxiety started really rising yet I still wasn’t seeing the big picture. I started to look back at the week and realize I wasn’t sleeping. Usually I have no issues falling asleep, and since I’ve been doing meditation before bed and in the morning you would think I would be sleeping better. I would feel relaxed and as soon as my head hit my pillow, too many thoughts flooded my brain. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was taking on other people’s energy that didn’t belong to me and reliving their dramas in my head. Has that ever happened to anyone else?

By Thursday, I had had enough. I felt like I was going crazy. Old wounds and toxic patterns I thought I had overcome came racing back. I was throwing out accusations of things that weren’t there, I was overthinking and overreacting at my husband, my love, my safe person. I felt like screaming and at the same time crying in a corner.

I contacted some friends in the holistic health field. Okay, they’re friends who are even more weird than I am. The first friend told me that none of my signs are helping me transition right now. A karmic comedy being played on me it seemed!

Since my sun sign is in Gemini and my rising is in Virgo, I’m intensly ruled by mercury, the planet of communication. That helps me explain my racing thoughts. My moon, the “planet” of emotion, is in Sagittarius, causing restlessness, irresponsible and careless behavior. Having my moon in this sign has made me ignore the advice of elders when I was younger, much to my detriment. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized sometimes we need a helping hand from people who have experience.

I made a visit to my friend Alicia who owns a small studio and does private yoga lessons in Placerville, California. She did a sound bath yin practice in order to shake out some of that toxic energy that I couldn’t figure out. I brought my daughter along knowing she needed some healing energy, too.

Something she said struck me. She told me we need to protect ourselves from constant negativity directed at us from energy vampires.

Oh boy, did that hit home and help explain why I’ve been too drained and cranky (more than usual) since that eclipse. There is that certain person mentioned earlier, who I don’t physically have to deal with on a personal level but is unavoidable on an energetic level.  Because of this, this person brings so much negative energy into my home by proxy, and I realized how much I’ve been allowing it by my thoughts of negativity towards this person. I can’t get rid of this person and they will in some way be a part  my family’s life for the foreseeable future, whether we like it or not. Hence the drama of Wednesday that was inflicted on a family member causing me more anxiety even though it really wasn’t directed at me.That energy was brought more anxiety into the already intense, anxious air diffusing around my home.

Of course, that isn’t the only negativity that I allow. Often times it comes in the form of social media. Just scrolling through Instagram can expose us to a barrage of negative memes, comments and an overdose of narcissism, Kardashian style. Before I know it, I’ve wasted 20 minutes of my life on nothing that has helped to enhance it or at least provide some positive reinforcement. This is where my social media detox comes in so handy.

After my visit with my energy healer friend, my daughter and I both felt so much lighter. We could physically feel the symptoms washing away. I wouldn’t say I was cured, but I had some great insight and perspective and a lot of negativity was indeed shaken out of us both.

She sent me home with some palo santo wood to burn, a calming, grounding essential oil spray and some teas.

Its amazing what some energy work can do to shake things up and help us make a shift. I’ve been doing hypnotherapy for a few months now and it’s really helped me bring up and evaluate old, toxic patterns that aren’t serving me, but I think adjunct therapies are also in order. Sometimes things keep rising to the surface, but we need to see them in context and gain new perspective to be able to thank them for teaching us and then let them go.

I’ve even heard some of my daycare parents tell me that their little ones have been waking up earlier, or have just been restless at night, and then I get them and they sleep for 3 hours during the day. I’ve noticed this with my own kid. I can hear her tossing and turning and I can’t help but think it has something to do with this eclipse and planetary shift.

So, what’s gotten you all shook up during this eclipse? What have you felt? It’s interesting that many have shared my same experience since the eclipse but of course every one is totally different in how they feel things.

As for me, the eclipse has shown me that I need to create some healthy boundaries and not just physically but energetically, even to those I don’t physically have to see and feel with. Once again I’m being shown I need to let go of the things I can’t control, stay present in my body and breath, and live with integrity to my truth forsaking anyone else’s “truth” they may have of me. Often times I’ve been a victim of projection and have internalized it so much that I allowed it to become a part of who I was. We have to remember not to take on energy that isn’t ours. How many of us have had an interaction with a negative co-worker or family member and it totally brought down our mood? This is an obvious example of what I mean.

So, I have my smudge sticks, my palo santo, my meditation and my affirmation mantra and I am not afraid to use them! I refuse to be a victim of energy vampires who prey on me when I’m at my weakest. This eclipse shined more light into those shadow aspects of myself that I haven’t been looking at and I am thankful. I am thankful for all my weird friends in my life who help to guide me on my path.

Namaste friends! Much love.