Behind the Mask

“Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don't let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.” 
― Jim Carrey

Halloween 2016

Today this website went live! After a lot of work behind-the-scenes, I am finally exposing myself to the virtual world. I'm not gonna lie...it's a little scary! An exciting, but super vulnerable place to be. Taking a risk can be like that.

My recent trip to Tuscany comes to mind. Twenty plus strangers came from around the globe to share an intimate and vulnerable week with each other in the magical hills of Tuscany. For most, the only common thread was a connection to Jen Pastiloff, our retreat leader/yoga teacher (and all around bad-ass!) ---Check her out at www.jenniferpastiloff.com ---One of Jen's greatest gifts is the ability to create a safe space for her students to explore the stuff that we usually keep hidden from the world. Fears & insecurities that we have learned to keep safely locked away behind the "mask" that we slip on every day. You know....we all have one....the confident, secure, successful face that we show the world. At work, in our relationships, with our families, we may have one or more of these faces in our arsenal. At some point in our lives, we may have learned that it wasn't safe to expose our true selves; or maybe we forgot who we were; or maybe we never quite figured it out. Whatever the case, most of us have lived, at least a portion of our lives, in this space behind the mask.

So here we are, a room full of virtual strangers, making preliminary introductions and small talk. Sharing a meal, conversation, and (for most folks) a little wine. Over the course of the next few days, we got to work, deconstructing the blocks that keep us from being seen, that keep our unique and intuitive light from shining brightly. There were some tears, as we dug deep for the courage to expose ourselves so honestly, but we knew that we were supported and loved through the process. Jen and the others held the space for each one of us to find our way home, to the truth of ourselves. As a group, we discovered, our most lovable qualities, some for the first time. As a group, we reminded each other what was real, when we slipped into old patterns of thought that convinced us, yet again, that we fell short, that we were less-than, that we weren't good enough. We looked deep into each others hearts and saw the truth of who we are: love. We bonded on the deepest level: the level of the heart. One of my favorite exercises was one in which you & a partner spent about 2 minutes simply staring into each others eyes. After the first 30 seconds or so, the novelty started to wear off and discomfort started to set in. I felt so completely exposed! But once I was able to sit with my discomfort, I realized that the energy coming from my partner was filled with kindness and love. If only we could experience more of that in every day life!

It's been several weeks since the retreat ended and we all made our way back to our "normal" lives. We're still connected via social media and still holding space for each other from around the globe. We're still supporting each other and reminding each other what's real....'cause we forget...a lot! It's beautiful, really.... how the connection that was made over 7 short days runs so deep. We're connected on such a deep level, I believe, because we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and to be seen. I feel like I have an extended family all over the world. I took a risk and let myself been seen, perfectly imperfect, and not only was I accepted, but I felt truly loved for who I am. 
Priceless!
 

**dedicated to all the Bad Ass Manifesters around the world!**