very personal adsPersonal ads. They’re … personal! Very.

I write a Very Personal Ad each week to practice wanting, and get clarity about my desires. The point isn’t getting my wish (though cool things have emerged from wishing), the point is learning about my relationship with what I want, and accessing the qualities. Wanting can be hard, it is easy to feel conflicted about it, and the reasons for that make this a surprisingly subversive practice…

I am thinking about releasing and I am thinking about grief.

They go together sometimes.

I am deep in the process of releasing right now, and this is just the beginning.

I am drinking ginger tea and releasing. Rinsing out the mug in the sink and releasing. Curling up with a blanket and a hot water bottle. Releasing.

Here are some of the things I’m releasing:

Clothes, books, ideas, expectations, stories I tell myself, my sense of how long things “should” take, things that are traps, tears.

There is a lot of grief in this releasing.

What do we know about grief?

  • Grief is always legitimate.
  • I don’t need to know why I’m grieving it now, or even to know what exactly I’m grieving.
  • Grieving is about identity. Change means letting things go, and even the most joyful letting go is still a goodbye to some aspect of who you were.
  • Our culture does not have mechanisms for really interacting with grief.
  • Our culture does not have rituals or containers for acknowledging the very real pain of loss. I’m not just talking about death, the big loss. Also loss of job, dream, relationship, friendship.
  • And when there is acknowledgment, it’s someone trying to cheer you up and get you past it, instead of sitting with you and letting you feel what you’re feeling.
  • Grief is natural and normal, and it hurts.
  • Our lives are filled with busy-ness and streams of incoming information and input. Sometimes it seems like there isn’t even a moment to notice that we are avoiding the grief, never mind to say hello to it and offer it a chair.

What do I know about this.

Sometimes even when the releasing is the best possible releasing, there is pain.

When my beloved mentor broke up with me, I was in shock. It was very sudden, unexpected, public, painful.

Even from inside the deep fog of confusion, inside the slow ache of realizing that there was no way to repair the broken trust between us, I knew that one day I would say thank you for this.

I knew there was treasure in this goodbye, in this releasing, even if I couldn’t see it yet.

It’s been a couple years now, and it doesn’t hurt anywhere near the way it did. The agonizing pain of that day is a simple memory of what was, no longer charged with feeling.

I’ve come to realize that this ending was needed, this releasing was necessary. And since I never would have let go of that connection of my own accord, I needed to be helped out of it.

And: grief is legitimate.

There is no hallmark card for most of the painful things in life.

At least not that I know of.

I definitely didn’t get any cards, and now I kind of want some:

“Hey sorry the person you thought was your biggest supporter turned out to be the opposite of supportive! That sucks! You are AMAZING!”

“Whoa the thing you spent the last ten years working on is not in your life anymore, that has to hurt. I wish I had more than hugs, but here are some hugs! Your dream was special and so are you!”

“Hey, that is so hard that your giant project didn’t work out and you lost everything, just wanted to say that I love you and adore you, and I know you’ll be okay. P.S. You are a great adventuress!”

People tend not to mention the painful things.

They tiptoe around them.

Or they are confused about why you feel sad. Which is weird. Really? Why am I crying right now? I don’t know. Could be anything really. Look at all the things I have lost in the past few years. Look at all the broken pieces.

I’m glad for the releasing, for all the treasure of releasing, and sometimes it still hurts, and the thing that needs to be released is bucketloads of tears.

Or what needs to be released is the idea that I need to be over this.

What is my wish?

To find the joy in releasing. To be peaceful with the presence of grief.

To say thank you with a full heart to everything that is and everything that was.

To give myself endless permission to feel as sad as I happen to feel, for as long as I need to feel it.

To remember that everyone I encounter has also experienced deep losses, that we are all going through this all the time, the loss and the non-acknowledgment.

To do my own acknowledging.

What do I know about this wish?

This afternoon I was at my center, The Playground.

I’ve had this space for nearly five years, can you believe it. And now I am in the process of maybe-probably letting it go. Releasing. And it hurts.

It is right, and it hurts.

I descended to the floor as I have done so many times (thousands!) and closed my eyes and waited. For about ten minutes my thoughts went every which way, and I let them. And then, slowly, my breath became steadier. My thoughts quieted.

And then I heard a sentence, very clearly:

It is safe to love.

It is safe to love.

What I love about this piece of wisdom, from inside me or from the Playground, is how it gets to the heart of grief.

When I’m in the grief, I am also in the fear of future loss, potential loss, what if I feel like this again, what if I lose again.

The reminder here is that nothing is wrong. I made choices from love. I took risks from love, for love. I tried things because of love. And there is more love. It is safe to love. Even if I lost things, people, money, friendships.

I built the Playground from love, with love. It emerged from love, it exists in love. I can let it go with love, from love. I can trust and love again. Love more, trust more.

Everything ends, everything dies, everything reconfigures, and still it is safe to love.

I can’t lose love, because love is inside of me and around me.

Love is not what has been lost. Love is still here.

What do I really want?

To choose from love. To trust love.

To take exquisite care of myself.

To let go of everything that is done, knowing that this is perfect: thank you for being done.

And I want ease-filled solutions, elegant solutions, clear pathways, signs and clues. I want to see with joy-eyes, to feel with my joy-heart.

To say thank you and release, and know that the releasing is treasure.

And, as always, to trust my instincts more. To trust my yes and trust my no, and act on that trust immediately.

Me: Hey, slightly-wiser me, what do you have for me?

She: I know you think this isn’t a super fun wish. It’s an important one. It’s going to help you carry your joy with you.
Me: I bring my own joy party! And sometimes my own grief party, apparently.
She: Remember when you worked in the orchards? How happy the trees were when they were pruned back? That was some joyful releasing.
Me: It’s true, they loved it. I liked giving them that attention, that sweetness. That was the best job I’ve ever had.
She: You know why you don’t think about the trees anymore.
Me: Because of [loss] and [other loss].
She: Yup, and yet remembering your relationship with the trees is important. It will take you back to the joy of climbing, the joy of pruning, the communing in quiet, trusting that it is okay to love. Just because the trees are gone now doesn’t mean their love for you is gone.


Love the horizons.

The superpower of calm steady trust is mine.

January - Anchor More The quality for January on the 2015 Fluent Self calendar is ANCHOR.

With the superpower is Calm Steady Trust Is Mine.

Calm steady trust is exactly what I need for all this releasing. And actually an anchor is useful too. An anchor doesn’t hold things completely still, it allows them to drift slightly with the water.

That is important.


Do you want your calendar? You can still order one through the Plum Duff sale, assuming supplies last! Password: enter-with-roses

Ongoing wishes.

Seeds planted without explanation, a mix of secret agent code and silent retreat. Things to play with someday.
  • Everything is easier than I thought, and look, miracles everywhere.
  • I have the best time dancing in my ballroom.
  • This doesn’t require my input!
  • Ha, it’s so perfect that it turned out like this. Past me is a GENIUS
  • I have what I need, and I appreciate it. There are resources to do this.
  • Trust and steadiness. I can see why this moment is good.
  • I am fearless and confident. I do the brave things, I state my preferences clearly, calmly and easily, and it is not even a big deal, yay.
  • I am ready to come into my superpowers, including the superpowers of knowing that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, I Am Okay With Being Seen, receiving gifts that are winging their way to me. See also: The superpower of Everything Enhances My Superpowers. And adds panache.

Things I find helpful when it comes to wishes…

Set the intention. Nap on it. Dance it, write it, play with it, walk the labyrinth. Take lots of notes. Take deeper breaths, getting quieter and quieter until I hear what is true.

More sweet pauses, yes to the red lights, remember the purple pills, say thank you to the broken pots. Permission. Bright colors. Passion. Costume changes. Stone skipping with incoming me. Dance. Intensity. Writing. Lipstick. My body gets the deciding vote. And, as always, saying thank you in advance.

Give it to the compass: Eight directions, eight qualities, eight breaths.

Trust. Release. Love. Receive. Anchor. Crown. Glow. Boldly.

Progress report on past Very Personal Ads.

So. Last week, aka Let’s pretend this is about soup…

I’ve been doing pretty well with following my desires, and not hiding intel from myself.

On Wednesday I left a dance that wasn’t fun. On Saturday I was brave and tried something new even though it scared me because I heard the yes.

And I’ve been noticing when I act on intel about what I want, and when I try to hide this intel from myself or from people in my life.

Love more. Trust more. Release more. Receive more. Thank you, writing. Thank you, me who asked.

Attenzione! Attention, AGENTS.

We are running a giant sale where all the amazing new stuff is HALF OFF RIGHT NOW! Password: enter-with-roses

This was supposed to end tomorrow, except [life stuff] happened and I never got around to emailing the list and telling people about it, which is the nice thing to do. So we’re actually going to extend this. Reprieve!

Good for this next week, assuming supplies last!

Keep me company?

Consider this an open invitation to deposit wishes, gwishes, personal ads. In any size/form you like, there’s no right way. Updates on past experiments are welcome too, as is anything sparked for you.

Commenting culture: This is safe space for creative exploration. We are on permanent vacation from care-taking and advice-giving. We are here to play and throw things in the pot! With amnesty. Leave a wish any time you want.

Here’s how we meet each other’s wishes: Oh, wow. What beautiful wishes.


The Fluent Self