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  • Writer's pictureClaire Spencer

The All is Not Small

"Disempowered people destroy. Empowered people create." - Flynn Skidmore "All mothers are murderers" was going to be the first line of this newsletter. The truer truth is that all mothers know death. The joy of the birth of my daughter was entwined with the horror of knowing that someday, she will die. Hopefully, long after I do. Hopefully, after living a rich, full, complex life. However, in giving her life, I have guaranteed her death. It's a strange paradox I have had to find a way to live with - to rejoice in each moment of her aliveness, knowing the inevitable outcome. Knowing that in giving her life, I have guaranteed her death. This past Saturday, at our last summit of the year, I dropped into one of my life's most unexpected, deeply emotional, cinematic breathworks. I rarely experience journeys that are "stories," yet this one unfolded before me like a Marvel Movie. My first emotional purge was one of sacred rage. It was as if all the moments of my life where I turned away from myself and the truth and where I cowered or accommodated piled into a singular unbearable moment, and I began to scream - not in anguish, but in certain, directed rage. NO!. The phrase "This will not stand!" poured through my body. I could feel the hands of female facilitators on my back as I pounded the ground and growled like a dragon. I was no longer screaming for my trespasses but for those of the world. NO. No more war. No more deceit. No more division. We will find another way because I WILL NOT ALLOW this to continue. I finished my dramatic yelling, fell on my knees, and was left to process. The dream state continued. This time, I was in a high grassy plane. Crawling towards me was my grown child. A child who was murderous, deceitful, weak, and destructive. In this dream, the child was a grown man who was wicked, causing death, pain, and destruction in the world. This child was the most destructive type of victim, one who continually lied and murdered and could not accept responsibility for the violence they were inflicting upon the world in significant ways. I loved this child. And I had created this violence, this deceit, this sniveling weakness that spread pain like a plague. I knew what I had to do. In my hand was a giant silver sword. As I raised it above my head, my child looked me in the eyes and whispered desperately, "Mommy!". And with the greatest love and deepest pain, I lowered the sword and beheaded them. In this dream movie and my real body, I collapsed, weeping. At that moment, the soundtrack of the breathwork shifted to live singing, and I heard Blu begin to sing: I love you Please forgive me I'm sorry Thank you In my dream, I had made the ultimate sacrifice; I had destroyed my creation to save the world. And even though it was "right," it was horrific. As I lay weeping in a ball, I felt gentle hands embrace my body. I was moved into a fetal position, into being a baby myself, and I heard the words, "I'm here." I allowed the tears to flow. I felt a hand on my leg and held it in my own. I felt the round marble beads of a mala bracelet and the furry forearms of a man sitting with me in my pain. I had to see the face of this incredible friend, the person who would not fix or explain but who would sit with me so I didn't have to face my sorrow alone. It was my good friend Steven Jaggers. As I looked up at him, through my tears, I said, "Thank you, Thank you. I love you. Thank you." A few days later, I was able to ask him about his intuition at that moment. He said that he could tell that I was in an extensive experience. His initial thought was, "She's strong; she's got this," but he was then led to reach out. "She's got this, but she doesn't have to do it alone." I am strong. I am learning to turn towards and trust my empowerment. To stand for my beliefs even when it's inconvenient or challenging. And I am teaching my daughter the same. My breathwork taught me the outcome of living a life of sneakiness, convenient lies, and choosing to believe I have "no choice." The victim is the ultimate destroyer, creator of deceit, chaos, and death. It takes tremendous strength to choose empowerment. To choose compassion and creativity over righteousness and revenge. But the alternative... it will not stand. I will fight against it like a dragon protecting its nest, like a mother protecting her child not just from death but from becoming death. The painful paradox of being a creator contains the truth that we must learn to live with death and sometimes kill our creations. The ten businesses that start and fail that we must abandon repeatedly to find one that works: the paintings that get painted over or thrown out as our practice refines. An inability to let go of our mistakes and lessons and move on is a life and a world of chaos, filled with limping dreams and inept art. To save all of them is to live in the chaos of endless clutter and never realize our fullest expression. The brilliance of our highest expression requires thousands of attempts. All must be allowed to die to create what lives. To live an empowered, creative life is to know this. It is to let our creations go with deep love and certainty, to slay them even when excruciating. I love you Please forgive me I'm sorry Thank you It is often painful to choose the truth. To pray that though our truth may cause a temporary tear in our relationships or an inconvenience in our life and to trust that, as a creator, the unknown on the other side will be even better: A more profound, more authentic friendship, a more beautiful, fruitful vocation, a more moving, intricate piece of art. Many circumstances in my life led to this strange and intense breathwork. Going in, I was depleted from a four-hour trip for jury duty in the middle of a work retreat. My daughter's father and I had triggered each other in our fear for her future, and my inner child was wounded and scared. I sat with my team as we had to corral someone trapped in their stuck place and land them in the present moment where they were safe and loved. I had spoken to many people that day who would casually ask, "How are you?." My awkward, authentic answer was, "I'm small, I'm swirling, I'm very fucked up, and I'm so, so glad to be here." I was both dysregulated and observing my dysregulation. My capacity for conversation and creativity was hindered, and all of my resources were sent toward my inner work. I could not hold a conversation or remember names; my only solace from the void of my inner landscape was to hold on to the present, each moment an anchor to reality as my body and mind processed and integrated the past towards the future. The past was pulling me into fear, sadness, and smallness, and the only way I could allow myself to go into those depths was to tether a part of me to the present. In my body, I could feel the contraction. My throat was tight, my sternum pained, and I wanted to curl up and hide. The part of me that was triggered wished to take hold of my entire existence. It would have been easy to let it. It would have been easy to say, "I am terrible. I am a victim. My life has happened to me, and I have no power, no choice. What is true now will always be true." But I have been in this work long enough to remember, "The All is not Small." I know that when I feel a contraction, it means I am in the experience of a part of me. When I see no way out, it is a signpost for the truth I see from a limited perspective. The way through these moments is to notice the contraction and despair and allow them to speak and be heard while simultaneously holding that it is temporary. That I am both a part and "the All." That within me, ALWAYS, is greatness, expansiveness, and unlimited creative potential. When I remember the "All" of me, the All is the identity that can hold the most miserable, terrified, and terrible parts in compassionate love. That can listen to them in their despair with patience, knowing that the truth of their reality and experience is temporal and narrow. My life is not based on a singular "win/lose" moment. A single decision will never limit my power, my creativity, and my future. Instead, it is an accumulation over time of choosing, over and over again, to tell the truth. To hold my boundaries. To love the small parts of me and to hold myself to a broader perspective. It is my practice to remember my eternal creative self and to trust in the passage of time and the glorious future that awaits me. It is a practice to be willing to destroy what I know that doesn't work and get curious and creative to create what does. To allow myself to dive into the dark and feel the pain of a temporary perspective by tethering myself to an eternity where everything works out. Where my life has meaning, my pain creates rather than destroys, where I am compassionate for my destruction, knowing that it is the necessary, inexorable twin of creation. In committing myself to the art of living in integrity, to the art of my life, I am willing to hold a sacred sword in my hand. I will not stand for victimhood; I will turn away from an entrapped and stagnant identity that is afraid and destructive. I will lovingly slay my past selves and creations. I will look them in the eyes and cry and sing: I love you Please forgive me I'm sorry Thank you With Love, Claire

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