My Blog

It’s OK to be a Hot Mess

On the dance floor at Esalen, with my hair tumbling down my face, I decided to let go of something big.

I took a workshop last week in a conscious dance practice called Open Floor with the incredible instructor, Andrea Juhan. It’s in the family of Ecstatic Dance and uses movement as a tool for self exploration and transformation.

By the end of the 5-day workshop, I found myself giving my body priority of expression over my mind. That’s when I realized I was dancing like a destructive madwoman. What was I destroying?

The need for a “clean” story.

“Clean” stories happen for a reason, with a “wrapped up” ending. They are linear. They are purposeful.

“Messy” stories are ones in progress or left hanging. Or without reason.

Here are a few of my messy stories:

😳 I ran a company for 10 years only to sell for nothing and I haven’t started another one.

😳 I had a failed engagement and I still am not married.

😳 I had Long COVID that I’m mysteriously healing from and have no explanation for.

These are messy. Yuck.

But spending last week at Esalen, I bore witness to all kinds of people sharing their stories. No one had a clean story.

I look at my parents, who have been married for 30+ years. On the surface it looks clean, but they had their highs and lows.

The stories of Boomers with multi-decade marriages feels clean. But this generation (at least I speak for Millenials) feels messier – but also more truthful.

Don’t compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides.

Parts of my story are messy, insecure, and incomplete.

But this is my edge. To sit in the gray, the unfinished.

I’m learning that my shame about not having a “clean” story comes from a desire not to feel a simple emotion that lies underneath it all: longing.

I long to find my beloved partner for life, I long to have children, and I long for a successful career.

Instead of feeling the purity of the longing, I shame myself. Do these stories sound similar to yours?

😠 “I shouldn’t focus on finding a partner, that’s so desperate.”

😠 “I should be more present and stop thinking about the future.”

😠 “If I don’t have these things, I must be broken.”

The shame is just a way to divert my attention from an emotion I don’t want to feel.

But longing for something I don’t have is actually beautiful.

Yes, it’s painful not to have the things that I want. But it’s in the longing that I feel the motivation to move towards them, that I honor the value of those things in my life.

The longing is humbling, too. It sobers me up, distills the things that are important, and focuses where I spend my time and energy.

So I ask you, friend, is there something in your life that you want badly?

And can you sit with that wanting purely?

Or do you cover it up with shame, blame, or impatience?

I ask you to honor the absence of things you want most in life.

And I’m relieved to say that sitting with pure longing didn’t kill me.

It makes me more truthful.

It makes me come alive.

If you’re ever in the Bay Area, I highly recommend Andrea’s courses. You can learn more at her website: ***.*

Wishing you aliveness,


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