Sarah J. Rubin

Compassionate warrior guide. Yogi and healer. Lighting hearts on fire through words and movement.

Why I Write, Dance, Create and Heal

This human conversation – written in glances, typed through gesture, sung in the muscles that fire when we hug each other fiercely – startles me awake at night.

I want to know you. I want to know myself. I want to grab the both of us and sit our souls down to talk and dream. 

Midnight reveries birthed in flavor. Salt-marsh loaminess on the half shell, chili peppered chocolate which always ends up smeared on the corners of my mouth. Lemony-garlic-y olives, a constant pucker.

These tastes feed something inside of us, something blood-red and deep. 

Through the half-light before dawn, visions of us. Delicious scenes of embodied joy, unbridled freedom, complete satiation. The beauty of our cells writ large and so true that we don’t need to believe in it.

A singular soul-dance, collaborative communion. 

And then I wake and start the day.

*

Today, I am in the air. Flying from one coast to the other. Carousing with two kids excited to see their cousins and indulging a husband who is feverishly writing documents on his laptop so that when we land, he can turn off his work-brain.

I am surrounded by strangers, too. Other adults in this dim cabin who sleep, watch movies, read the New Yorker. There’s a hip couple in the row ahead of me. She has the best shoulder-length curly grey hair, and he is wearing the kind of black North Face down jacket that packs into a tiny ball. Something about his strong jaw, prominent nose, and tousled white hair reminds me of an older Jeff Goldblum.

The man directly behind me has been sleeping for 4 straight hours, his head cradled by a giant football pillow. His apparent soul-brother across the way has a dinosaur pillow-pet on board. And no matter what, each person who walks down the center aisle toward the bathroom looks like someone I know or somebody famous.

*

This, this is why I write, dance, create and heal.

Because my humanness demands it. Because the divinity in me demands it.

Because life is both ethereal and literal, exalted and direct. Because the heartbreaking both/and of human experience demands expression.

So that we don’t forget that we are made of bones, skin, stardust and imagination. So that we can be in the air and on the ground at the same time. So that we don’t forget we contain multitudes.

So that we remember. So that I remember.

*

What about you? What grabs you, lights you up and demands expression? 

Poetry Friday!

Because e. e. cummings came home in my 5th grader’s backpack yesterday…

Because I’m starting another round of poetry writing workshops at the Hudson Valley Writer’s Center today with my favorite teacher Jennifer Franklin

Because it’s a gorgeous, sunny day that began with the full moon setting over the Palisades

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All signs point to declaring Fridays to be Poetry Fridays here on the blog. A poem written by one writer and a quote about poetry from a different writer. A poetic conversation of sorts. I’m loving this already!

“Poetry is the best words in the best order.”  — S. T. Coleridge

love is a place (e. e. cummings)

love is a place

& through this place of

love move

(with brightness of peace)

all places

 

yes is a world

& in this world of

yes live

(skillfully curled)

all worlds

 

As someone who takes the editing as seriously as the writing, when it comes to poetry at least, I adore Coleridge’s definition of the best words in the best order. There’s a special thrill that comes from rearranging words – or stanzas! – for maximum impact. What do you think about cumming’s poem, viewed through this lens? (I think he nails it.)

One more thing – if anyone knows how to get WordPress to allow me single-spaced lines, pleeeeeeease tell me in the comments?!? The auto-double-spacing is killing me!!

Hello, 2014. I Love You.

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Ok, yes. That may seem a little forward of me, seeing as how we’ve only known each other for ten days. But I don’t care what anyone says.

I’m pretty sure I’m in love with you.

You see, 2013 was a beautiful but tough year. I will say it totally lived up to its name. Oh, btw, you’ve seen all the stuff floating around online about people choosing a word of the year, right? I know. I thought it was cool a year ago, and then I was done with it about half-way through the year. Turns out 2013 took its name more seriously than I did! But wait ’til you see yours. It’s a good one.

Anyway, 2013 was called RELEASE. When ’13 and I met, I was dragging around a lot of heavy shit that I realized, all of a sudden, I was done with. Change was so needed – big change – and getting rid of what I didn’t need seemed like the first step. So, release. Easy, right?

Let’s just say I started saying “no” to things until I had pared back to a much simpler existence. Within all of the dismantling, life got very…interesting, as all my former distractions were gone. Nothing else to do but keep bringing my focus where I knew it needed to go: to my family, my kids, my marriage.

Turns out, intimate relationships are really, really hard.

And messy. Turns out, the more adamant I got about wanting to heal those relationships, the harder I was pulled toward healing my relationship with myself. A wiley one, that ’13. 2013 knew that what I truly needed was to acknowledge, honor, and release a ton of stuff from my own past so I could learn to love myself fully. You’re right, I asked for it.

Because I knew I was ready.

With RELEASE on my side, I got to know myself a hell of a lot better. My thoughts, my feelings, my patterns of behavior. My triggers, my stuck places, my gifts. Oh, the gifts! Who knew that releasing layer upon layer of fear, self-doubt, unworthiness would create the space for my gifts to emerge so effortlessly? Wait – I take that back. It was a hell of an effort to dance with the pain of feeling all of that. It still is. But at least now I know I won’t die from the pain.

At some point over the summer, I declared I was done with RELEASE.

Figured I had released enough and wanted to move on…into reclaiming or rebuilding or receiving. You know, just change a few letters around, same diff. But, no. 2013 was nothing if not consistent. Inside my most intimate relationships, where I yearned to be seen, acknowledged, understood, many more layers were yet to be shed.

In order to get there, I found I had to completely release the shining vision I had been trying so hard to manifest for our family, our marriage. The one that included exactly how I wanted to feel and show up. The one that included the versions of each of us that I knew we could be – our best selves. All of it – released.

Only then did the energy shift enough to allow us to show up as new.

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In the newness, I have found my voice.

In the newness, there is space for all parts of me – of us – to exist, especially the parts that were previously ignored.

In the newness, we turn toward each other instead of away.

In the newness, there is also intense vulnerability and fear that it will all vanish, unsustained.

So this is where we meet, 2014. No doubt there is more release to come, as we become more and more intimate with each other. But like I said before, I’ve got a good feeling about you. Each day that I’ve known you has felt different – lighter, softer, more purposeful, just different – than all of 2013’s 365 days.

So far, it’s been a love affair. One that I desire – no, am committed – to keep exploring. I know it won’t be all wine and roses. But with the steadiness and honesty that ’13 taught me, our chances look pretty good.

Which is why I’ve decide to name you EMBRACE.

(Though I suspect it wasn’t my decision at all. You whispered your name in my ear on January 1st, didn’t you? Thank you for that.)

It’s perfect, really. EMBRACE is both a noun and a verb. It’s an action to take and a thing to receive. It’s the ultimate 2-way street.

EMBRACE assumes relationship. It assumes there is space to meet and connect. It can also span a disconnect, if both parties are willing to meet each other half-way.

Also? EMBRACE is sexy and fun. Two more of my guiding words for our time together. Boom.

So far, ’14, I can totally feel you meeting me half-way, embracing me as I embrace you. Here, right here, the possibilities are endless. Let’s explore them together. OK? 

Mwah! xoxoxo

Love,

Sarah

Guided by Spirits

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Whiskey drinking and bar hopping because we love ourselves, not because we are looking to be filled.

Strutting around in someone else’s cowboy boots because our feet may have worn them in another life.

Holding his gaze, or her gaze, and speaking our truth because we are ready to stand up for the selves that did not have a voice.

The phone calls we make and the emails we send to say no to that, but YES to this, because now we know exactly what we want.

The tattoos on our skin or the bracelets we always wear because they remind us of the feeling inside our true essence.

The way we choose to show up and contribute because we have so much to give, not because we feel burdened or obligated.

Writing words on a page for as long as it takes because we will know the true message when we see it written.

Waking up early to pray with our bodies because we need to move our bodies to find the prayer.

The frank conversations we have about sex because it is time to go deeper into the intimacy that scares us and guides us.

Giving ourselves permission to be kind, or move fast, or speak up, or softly surrender because we are being called forth into our next iteration.

And it is scary.

And gorgeous.

And real.

This post is dedicated to the incredible souls in Hannah Marcotti‘s mastermind group whose behind-the-scenes support and inspiration blow my mind on a regular basis. 

Teshuvah 5774

Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.  – Mahatma Gandhi

 

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When the world cracks open, there comes a holy sound.

The airy, rasping blast of the shofar. The muffled thud of fist against chest while collective sins are chanted. The whisper of a hundred flames after all the Yizkor candles are lit.

It is the sound of elderly voices singing hymns by heart from wheelchairs. The soft click of rosary beads through fingers. The dry crackle of palm fronds swaying overhead, announcing He Is Risen.

It is the throaty, amplified intonation of the Muslim call to prayer. It is the neverending resonance of a singing bowl, marking time for meditation. It is the sound of Om.

*****

I am on my knees in child’s pose in an unfamiliar yoga studio. The teacher instructs us to chant the sound of Om in this position of deep surrender.

Forehead to the mat, the sound comes from my gut, not uttered outward to the universe, but in the direction of my own folded form. Intimate.

My body receives these vibrations like a secret message being shared. This is what I hear:

This sound is a prayer beyond words. A sacred utterance with echos in every human culture, repeated in every religious tradition. It is the sound our ancestors and our babies made before speech. It is the sound of human longing.

It is the embodied soul’s beseeching of the Divine, of what it means to be separated from Source in this body, in this lifetime. It is our hunger for connection on the deepest level…a visceral yearning for the absolute Oneness that we are at our core.

These vibrations are a sonic bridge, a cellular reflection of my soul’s union with your soul, all souls’ union with the Divine…so intimately connected, even when we find ourselves on our knees in our separate human bodies.

*****

To me, herein lies the power of communal prayer. It’s not about the words. It’s not about the meaning behind the words. It’s about the ways in which the rituals we perform with our bodies and the sounds we make through voice and breath, bring us out of our heads and into a state of returning. This is teshuvah. Where boundaries disappear and we begin to feel less alone. Where we lay down our burdens and become one.

Yes. There is space for you to be here without disappearing. No. You are not separate. Yes. Your vibrations connect you to everything and everyone. No. You are not alone. Yes. Feeling your truth – the pain, the fear, the shame, the nakedness of it – this is the blessing that you are ready to receive.

Today, and every day, may we pray with abandon. May we release what holds us back. May we experience teshuvah. Together, may we make a holy sound.

 

*** Teshuvah is the Hebrew word usually translated as “repentance”, but better translated as “return” and signifies a return to the original state. 5774 is the new year of the Hebrew calendar which begins with Rosh Hashanah. 

 

The Blessing of Interconnectedness

“The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms.”

~ Lao Tzu

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Exhibit A
This quote from physicist and string theorist S. James Gates, speaking lyrically about the how new scientific discoveries are named:

In many cultures, the act of naming is regarded as a very, very powerful thing. And for us, the naming represents a celebration of becoming aware of knowing the universe at a different level than we had known before.

I love this. We become aware of another layer of understanding, so we celebrate. Substitute “ourselves” for “the universe”, and the song comes alive in two-part harmony. It is the song of microcosm and macrocosm: the Universe expressing itself as our individual selves, and our personal process of awakening mirrored in growing awareness of the Universe itself.

Exhibit B
This poem by Rainer Maria Rilke:

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

(Book of Hours, I 59)

Exhibit C
In the moments of feeling flooded by terror, I am there. At the outer limits of my longing for connection. In this terribly vulnerable, little-girl state. Inside of heartbreak, inside of aloneness, inside a dangerous landscape of parched earth, high heat, and exposure. Tears fall and words fail. Throat and heart constrict, eyes glaze. I am not in my 40 year old body. I am not my 40 year old self. I am barely in the room.

This is hard to talk or write about, because I am still learning. Learning and trying to remember what I’ve learned, as memory gets tricky when my nervous system goes haywire. What I’ve come to understand is that historical details don’t really matter. What matters is what my body feels, how it reacts, the vise-grip of protection that cannot be reasoned away.

Where I am opening and expanding, I am parcelling out some land for her, on which she can run. That’s what she wants, to pound her feet against the earth, to feel the power in her legs. Then, maybe she will come back, sweaty and sated, and allow me to sit with her while she catches her breath. Maybe she will let me listen to her. Eventually, she will hear me when I say, It’s not your fault. You are safe here. Give me your hand.

Exhibit D

I used to think she made me small. (It often feels that way, it does.)

Instead of small, could the opposite be true? Could it be that I am making bigger shadows for God to move in?

That by turning toward and not away from her terror, I am embodying the Universe becoming aware of itself on a different level?

Isn’t the mere knowledge of her a beautiful reason to celebrate?

The Ballad of Both/And

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I am mother and child and married and single and young and old and born and not yet born. Multiples of meaning, never just one.

I am love and hate and joy and anger.

I am standing in the kitchen, hoping that you feel my love through this food and I am mute, unable to tell you.

I am flying on blue-black wings, reflective of the moon. I am walking barefoot over blue-black rocks, present to sunshine and pain. I am mired in blue-black mud, devoid of any light.

I am stillness and movement and pause and action.

I am sitting next to her on my bed, not too close. Knowing her inward curl, the clench of her hands, my hands. The intimacy of long hair covering face, protecting.

I am past, present and future. I am the bits of sawdust and drywall that spin outward and upward each time I take the drill and go down another layer.

I am the function of my lungs: expanding, contracting, expanding, contracting.

I am with you in spirit. I am near you in body. When you’re here, I try so hard to stay. And I am gone.

*****

It is the first of May. This morning, I found my guiding words for the month: truth and beauty. May just feels like it will be a month of truth-telling, of coming face-to-face with hard shit. Which feels…super uncomfortable, I’m not gonna lie. And yet there is a certain kind of beauty in the process. An unfolding, a clarity, a realness.  Truth is, everything is a work in progress. Never does nature mirror that so beautifully as in the month of May.

Dancing With The Moon

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I am not afraid,

she said. And felt surprised by the words right in front of her.

I. Am not. Afraid.

She said it again, in bold. Startled, still, and quivering. One breath in of wondering: how can this be so, I feel so scared. On the exhale, she knew it to be true.

I feel my fear. In an instant, my body goes hot, or frozen. My head feels foggy, sometimes my throat closes all the way up. I regularly drown.

In the bathroom of the restaurant where she stood looking in the mirror, she knew: That despite the fear that constantly swirls and the reactions and the running and the shutting down and the protecting and the not feeling safe because she was in fear…

I am in fear. I am not fear. Fear is not who I am. I am not afraid.

As she returned to her seat at the table, where her body might again feel hot, or frozen, she felt her strength. And heard the calm, clear voice of the full moon whisper to her…

One more thing, dear one. It’s because you are feeling your fear that you know that YOU are not afraid. Not despite the fear, because of the fear.

And when she felt those first prickles of heat on her skin, she gave thanks.

*****

Life has been full, big and intense lately. There has been great beauty, some chaos, fear, direct moments of joy, surrender, exhaustion, jet lag, and a large dose of putting one foot in front of the other. I’ve been quiet here in this online space, as I’ve needed to gather my energy in and do some deep work with my nearest and dearest.

And I’ll tell you something: when I made the choice to step away from our beautiful Warrior Rising business, at which I had been working so hard, I knew (clearly and deep down) it was the right choice for me and I thought I knew what I was making space for in my life…and the truth is that I’m only just beginning to grasp the importance of this time of transition.

Stay tuned, more to come…

Do This

Being Led Into Joy (A Giveaway!)

From my very own vision-book-in-progress.

From my very own vision-book-in-progress.

Gluesticks, scissors, markers, paints, oh yeah. Words and images jumping out at me from the pages of magazines, catalogs. Snipping, gluing, writing. Being led.

There’s a special kind of magic in this vision book process. Messages are revealed, the thing I couldn’t quite put into words emerging among the scraps of paper when I finally go to glue them down. Being led by spirit right into joy and magic.

It was August 2012 when I first encountered Hannah Marcotti‘s special blend of truth-telling and magic-making, through a program called The Joy-Up. I was just saying over the weekend that all it took was seeing one little mention on a friend’s FB timeline and I instantly knew that THIS was what I needed more of in my life: JOY. Honestly, I had no idea that what I was signing up for would change my life in the deepest of ways.

In that moment, I also stepped into the most beautiful group of women, a fierce and lovely tribe who have come together through Hannah’s programs. The friendships that I have formed through this tribe…well, let’s just say that meeting a few of these souls in person recently felt more like a reunion of old friends than a first-time meet-up. Here’s what I wrote to Hannah after going through my first program:

The presence and support of the JoyUP community is pure GOLD. The act of seeing myself through their eyes has led me to a deep well of compassion and gratitude for the person I am right now. The catalysts for my biggest a-ha moments during the program were pieces of your story and the stories of our Joy sisters – the reflection of self and possibility, connecting us all as one.

Today, Hannah has declared a day of giving for her next program, Spirits of Joy. It’s 30 days of soulwork prompts for creating a vision book. Juicy, meaty prompts that you can take in at your own pace, let them simmer, and then unleash them in your blank book when you feel ready.

In her words: Soulwork will prompt you into new places and ideas, it will ask you to push beyond that safe place and dip into seeing truth, beauty, connection, love, joy, dreams and ritual.

Today, I am so blessed to give away three spots in this transformative program (starts on Monday). There will be ritual, rhythm, beauty and joy. It will be life-changing in the deepest of ways!

If you feel led to enter, please leave a comment below before midnight on Friday. I’ll randomly select three winners. Fun!

Yours in JOY,

Sarah

ED: Congratulations to Stacy, Heather, and Mandie who were chosen using random.org for a free spot in Spirits of Joy! Soooo excited for you ladies to experience the magic. And thanks to all who commented. 🙂