The following is an extra special contributor post from my divine writer-friend, Elspeth Eckert. She constantly inspires me to befriend my inner goddess, and in this piece, she gives a fresh new spin to notion that “it’s what something is made of that really counts.” May the all “Ugly Pants” of the world find their perfect fit to love them just exactly as they are.
“In Praise of the Ugly Pants” by Elspeth Eckert
I bought a pair of ugly pants yesterday. They hung there forlorn, clearance tags thickly plastered from repeated failed attempts to entice customers. I looked at them in that way I sometimes do, trying to puzzle out if I liked them (the pattern is kind of fun, and I like the colors in theory) or if this garment was indeed truly hideous. Only one way to find out.
In the fitting room, the pants revealed themselves to be remarkably unflattering, more so than I could have anticipated. My rear seemed to balloon to elephantine proportions with every jiggle exaggerated. The banded legs seemed by turns either too short or too long to suit any style. The pattern didn’t line up, leaving the edges of those vibrant horizontal stripes warring along my pelvic girdle.
But there were roomy pockets at just the right height. And the fabric was soft.
I considered the pants and what it would say about me if I wore them. Would I be “letting myself go?” Opening myself to mocking judgements? Would I be one of THOSE women (and what does that even mean anyway)? I looked. I imagined and considered. I undressed carefully and returned the hopeful pants to their hanger a little straighter than I’d found them.
As I exited the dressing room, I experienced a transformative moment of clarity: I know who would wear these pants. People who don’t take themselves too seriously would wear them. And finally, at great long last, that kind of person was me. With a deep breath and not a shred of regret, I bought the ugly pants. And this simple gesture has made me ridiculously proud of the woman I’m becoming.
May I be reminded each time I slide into the comfy embrace of my ugly pants that life is not always so serious and taking myself less seriously can be the most liberating act of all.
Photo credit/Featured: Elspeth Eckert
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Do you have a friend that when you’re with you feel as if you can conquer the entire world together? That there is no limit? That any dream you can possibly dream really can come true? This woman is that for me.
Mechi is a FORCE. A supernova tsnuami. A machine gun of radical love and wisdom. I first met her in Brazil five years ago, where we lived and worked together in Salvador. It had been almost four years before she came flooding back into my life last summer and totally shot up my world, leaving a destruction of all my previous conceptions of love, friendship, and how navigate life in her wake.
“The world is magic!” She tells me. And I know this is true, because she helps me to see it. Over and over again.
She taught me how to trust in the Universe. To believe that we will always be taken care of. To let go of structure, of expectations, and just let it FLOOWWW. She inspired me to get my first tattoo, because I was there in Brazil when she got her’s. Earlier this year as we traveled South America together, she even gave me the honor of shaving her head after being inspired by my own buzz last year. (Yeah, lots of OMGICAN’TBELIEVEWEDIDIT happy tears!)
When I woke up this morning, this quote was in my inbox:
“What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.” — Paulo Coehlo, The Witch of Portobello
I have many friends that fit this description, but today, I dedicate this one to mi gorrrda mas boluudaa. 🙂 And to all women who know how to wield their artillery powers for good.
Featured: Mercedes Ponce de León in Rio de Janeiro
Photo credit: Amelia Isabel
Earlier this year I took a course on Death, Loss, and Meaning in Existential Psychology. I assure you, it was as intense as it sounds.
It was also one of the greatest, most inspiring courses I have ever taken in my entire academic career — easily coming into my Top 3 favorite classes of all time. We dug deep within ourselves and each other. We questioned religion and our own belief systems. We wrestled with the notion that the Universe could care less about us when we care so much about ourselves. We questioned what it means to be happy. We questioned the value of suffering. We questioned the meaning of life and whether or not one’s meaning is the same as one’s purpose. Does meaning have to be meaningful? What if my meaning of life is different from your meaning of life? What if my purpose is destined to be hard? What if my purpose is different from how I find meaning? What if it won’t be fun? Is it even worth it?
And above all: Why me?
Ah, the million-dollar Hero’s Journey question. I often wonder what Martin Luther King Jr.’s response was. Or Odysseus’s. Or Amelia Earhart’s. Or Gandhi’s. Or Malala Yousafzai’s.
Today, the answers aren’t any clearer. But, I find comfort in the fact that I am not the only one to question. Nor will I be the last. This project is dedicated to all of us who ask “What’s the point?” May these words give you strength, lift you up, and remind you that where human life still exists, so does hope.
Found an incredible spot to watch the sunset this evening, overlooking the mountainside of the San Ramon valley. Amber waves of grain rolled out before me. The bay clouds unfolded over the peaks like rich cumulus cotton. I even heard eagles cry.
Yes, I was living in an American anthem.
And I remembered a story Abraham once told about Jerry and Esther Hicks. They were on vacation somewhere – Mexico, probably – and Esther was in love with it. Overcome by the beauty of the place and the strong desire to stay there forever, she asked Jerry, “Can’t we just live here?” After a beat, Jerry responded, “But, we are. We are living here.”
I’ve thought about that story a lot over my travels. But, I still constantly question the journey: When will I settle down? When will I find my new nest? Where will I finally LIVE?!
And I realized as I sat on top of the windy hillside: I live here. I am LIVING here. In California! Amazing.
My address doesn’t matter.
Because in every moment, wherever I lay my head, wherever my car is parked, wherever I take a breath, I am living.
God has surely shed his grace on thee.
Photo credit: Amelia Isabel
Once upon a time, the Greeks believed in invisible fairy creatures called “dæmons” or “geniuses” that served as spirit guides and the ultimate connection to one’s divine creativity. They helped us to transcend, become one with our calling, and step closer to understanding what life is all about.
What if invisible fairies weren’t the only ones helping us in our creative acts?
Last week, I had a unique opportunity to intimately bear witness to my own creative process as a new poem burbled up inside me like a cork floating up to the surface in a pool of champagne. A classmate of mine shared the following lines in our poetry course:
It’s the strangest sensation to be happily lonely
to keep the thoughts of a universe, safe inside a humbled heart
It’s a whimsical place, to feel luckily bound in a body
that won’t misuse its wisdom
With my genius at my side, we wrote this piece:
Sanctuary within a Temple
A Reflection on the Universe within the Body
My heart space
Is a child’s bedroom
A warm womb where I am tucked away
Beneath a rolling sea of linen and down
Looking up through soft sheer canopy curtains
At the twinkling lights of the universe
Strung across the ceiling
To the pulse of my chamber walls
Rocking me into the safest slumber
And ultimately, the following story. I didn’t realize it right away, but as the last line came out, I gradually noticed something different about my poetic genius. The familiar sensation of a whimsical story began banging around inside my ribs, commanding to be heard. And I obliged.
Dr. Angelou, this one’s for you.
“Lights” photo credit: Chris Jones
To be fully seen by somebody, then, and be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on miraculous. — Elizabeth Gilbert
This summer, my new friend, Alberto Martinez, said to me, “I would love to shoot your picture.” My ego instantly glowed, because what cooler feeling is there than for a stranger to see you as art? (Especially since this is the first time someone has ever said this to me when I’ve only barely walked into a room…)
Then, I realized HOLD ON. There is great risk to be fully seen by someone! To trust another person with your Essence. To look into the eyes of a camera and stand there as broken, unattractive, or unworthy as you might believe. You feel naked, vulnerable. Yet, somehow strong, empowered. Someone SEES you, and you are allowing yourself to be seen. Granting permission to be captured, flaws and all… into a work of art.
What greater freedom exists than to be naked?
Go on. Be naked with someone today. ❤
Photo credit: Alberto Martinez
[Photo captured by Frank Vassen in Mirador de los Quetzales, Costa Rica]
Airy chirps and yawny sighs
Resonate from tree to tree
The orchestra awakens
The Sun opens a curtain as
The East Wind pushes through
And hushes the choir
Ringing through Monteverde
Like drops of water
With a festival twist
The opening number begins
Snow white coattails
Blood red vest
Long machete plumes of green and blue
Mesoamerica’s beloved ave
Cuts through the canopy
Like an electric strobe light
© Amelia Isabel
#ThrowbackThursday to a poem I birthed in 2008 on a bridge in the middle of the Costa Rican cloud forest. This is my most cherished work of poetry I have ever written. (Look at all that HAIR! And that concentration! That’s Czikszentmihalyi’s “flow” right there!) Photo credit: Sarah Boncal
Poem inspired by Paige Bradley’s “Expansion” sculpture featured here in New York City and from my own fears of embracing my inner Light. (Photo credit: Paige Bradley)
Here I sit
broken in the sunlight
My scars illumined
from the inside out
Bandages once invisible
fragile skin, bones, and breath
My light is showing
A bumble bee bumbles overhead
My scars shiver
revealing where they are hidden
Can he sense my shadows
quivering deep beneath
my ragged walls?
warmed by the sun
The bumbling bloke
bounces into the window
sending shockwaves skipping
across the glass trampoline
or giddy in his own delight
he shoots off
and I remain
Light pools beneath my aching fractures
enflaming the cracks
searing the transparent tape
This dry dam cannot hold
What happens when the light breaks free?
Where will all my pieces go?
© Amelia Isabel