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Maia’s End of Year Top 10 *ANTI* Rules to Find Your Freedom in a World Gone Mad!

2016 was a wild year, was she not? In order to not only survive our crazy world, but to thrive thrive thrive, I’ve uncovered the top 10 *anti* rules you need. Read below!

And, just an fyi, I am horribly not tech-savvy, but I wanted to get this beauty out to you stat, so I snapped a picture and uploaded it here. She’s a little rough around the edges, but she gets the message across!

Without further ado, here is my severely low-tech version of this list for you.

Happy New Year!

p.s. You can download the high-tech version below.

Download your personal copy here! 10 Anti Rules

When Things Don’t Go Your Way & What to Do About It

It’s a painful time, isn’t it? The 2016 Presidential election brought all of our demons to the surface in a way that is scaring us all. It doesn’t matter which side of the election you’re on (seriously, it doesn’t matter, and I’ll get to that in a minute), the temperature of our world changed this fall and we’re all stuck dealing with it.

As for me, I’ve had some really difficult-to-swallow things happening in my personal life that I’m not going to talk about today – but I will say that the rocky, shifting ground we’re standing on publicly is very similar to the personal ground I’m standing on.

How about you? How’s your personal ground? How are you feeling about the world these days? And how are you dealing with it all? Are you feeling stuck in helpless rage? Or are you discovering a new layer of resilience you never knew you had? Is your purpose becoming clearer to you? Are you finding yourself rejecting people who believe differently from you? Or are you discovering an underlying unity between you and other people that you never allowed yourself to experience before?

I throw all these personal inquiry questions at you because whenever life goes badly (as in, not according to our personal wishes!), we are faced with a choice.

We can use what’s happening as a chance to deepen our self-knowledge.

Or we can fight reality so hard that we lock ourselves into an identification with what’s happening and wind up trapped – and unable to feel peace, calm, joy, connection or trust unless life suddenly starts adhering to our commands.

But … is life something that we can control?

The New Age Law of Attraction movement would have you believe so. And how many religions rely on prayer as a means of attempting to control the outcome in life?

But, well, life would seem to tell us otherwise, wouldn’t it?

I love what Viktor Frankl has to say about this (he was the author of Man’s Search for Meaning, a concentration camp survivor and a psychiatrist). He talks about how we’re constantly demanding things of life, but refusing to recognize that perhaps Life is asking something of us.

It blew my mind when I first came across that idea. What, you mean life isn’t here to give me the perfect, “best” life?? You mean Life might be asking something of ME??

When things don’t go the way we want them to – we get older, a lover leaves, someone dies, our business fails, our candidate doesn’t win the election – we have a moment of existential crisis that, when mined for revelations, carries with it an incredible potential.

It’s the potential to see ourselves more clearly. To notice where we’re still identified with the shifting sands of life. To see how connected we really are to the underlying spirit of life (I call this getting God-aligned, but you can use any phrase that suits you).

Between the election, my response to other people’s reactions to the election, and the craziness that has gone down in my personal life in recent weeks, I found myself in exactly that place.

I reached for the booze first – a delicious two night private extravaganza of fresh-made whisky sours accompanied by a few American Spirit cigarettes and Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban country music. Then, to get myself off the sauce, I promised myself ice cream. A few weeks of daily ice cream eating ensued (and I’m not completely done yet).

But, even as I took care of my panicking inner little girl, I also made sure to set aside some time to actually process what was happening for me.

That meant that last weekend I took a friend up on her offer to dog sit at her remote farmhouse, out of cell range. I hit the library up for all the spiritual books I could carry out, and got ready to sit in silence, to wander the woods in the snow, to keep my feet to the inner fires of panic, fear, doubt, grief, sorrow, and rage.

I didn’t react to any of. I wasn’t screaming at anyone. I wasn’t binge eating (the ice cream was a soothing medicine, not a covering up, do you get the difference?). I kept myself off the internet for 48 hours. I didn’t call up any friends and complain.

I just kept myself in an extended encounter with my inner experience. I questioned everything. I raged and I cried. I laughed at the absurdity at it all.

And, slowly, a picture began to emerge. Of old beliefs that were still haunting me. Namely that Life owed me something, and that I was a failure if I didn’t get it.

That I believed there is a “right” way and a “wrong” way for things to go down, and that I was extremely uncomfortable and unhappy about much of what was going down in my personal life, and out in the world.

I’ve seen those kinds of beliefs – and the horrified reactions by their owners when life does not conform to their standards – in living color on social media since the election. People whose candidate won have gloated like mad. People whose candidate lost, have been directly questioning the sanity of those on the other side.

People have been judging each other openly and harshly like I have never seen before.

Curiosity and connection have been nowhere to be found.

When I attempted to bring a little bit of reflection to the conversation on Facebook, I was met with blind rage and acting out, or attempts to convert me to a side.

I have my own political views, opinions, and preferences, and I voted in this election. But I also am very clear that until we know ourselves better, and are willing to know and understand the other side fully and completely, we will continue to do battle – both inside ourselves (anytime you punish yourself with a self-destructive behavior) and out in the world (hate crimes, war, believing it’s us against them).

Why is it so hard for those who saw their values and personal selves reflected in the Obama presidency to recognize that there were many people who didn’t, but who now see themselves reflected in a Trump presidency?

Why do we all cling to the idea that one side is right, the other wrong, and join in a violent, raging battle against each other?

Again, this is exactly the same thing you experience inside yourself when you are filled with violent self-loathing that leads to unprotected sex with strangers, marriage to someone your mom likes, but you don’t, forty years in a career that’s safe but soul-killing. You are denying a part of yourself. You don’t have inner unity.

What about people who have the belief that there is a certain standard we need to have in our first family? People who thought Jackie O was classy, and that Melania Trump is not, and that somehow that is wrong/bad?

Is it?

I mean, maybe you have a preference for what you’d like to see in your First Lady, but is there a rule about it?

What about women who feel represented by Melania, who see themselves reflected at last in the new First Family, in a way they never have before? Is that wrong or bad?

I’m going to share what a friend wrote in response to a post I put up suggesting that slut-shaming our new First Lady is simply not cool (in case you aren’t aware, Melania Trump has posed nude and some people who are not on her side have been weirdly excited to condemn her for it).

Ok, so here’s what my highly educated, world traveler, feminist, Democrat friend had to say:

“My disdain for our new FLOTUS’ involvement in soft porn is neither misogynist nor partisan because I apply the same standard to men and Democrats. Suppose President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, had agreed to be photographed naked with his bare, erect penis hanging out and a come-hither look. My respect for him would have been diminished–no matter how “beautiful” or “natural” his body is.”

What do you think?

Because it got me wondering (aside from the wildness of the comment, itself!):

Who decides the standards? If America is built on the ideal that it’s a government by the people, for the people, who gets to decide which people? When I suddenly don’t feel like my personal identity is represented by my government, is that the moment that I try to take the government down? Or am I willing to stand up and insist that everybody be represented at all times?

And when exactly is disdain useful? If I’m a feminist, don’t I have to make sure that all women feel safe to self-express? And not just express themselves according to my personal standards of “decency”?

Do you see the irony at play here?

Another friend, same description as the first, said this about Melania:

“She may have used her youth, beauty, and sexuality as a commodity, perhaps she didn’t feel she had anything else to offer or any other means of power.  She has power now and a platform, maybe she can send a message that a woman’s self esteem and power can come from her spirit, her mind, her intelligence, her strength, her deeds. Wouldn’t that be great?”

But what if all of that is good? What if expression via the human body is an equivalent to using our spirit, mind, intelligence, etc? Why do we so love to rate things on a scale of good or bad? Why are we so excited by and attached to judgment?

What this election has highlighted is that we – as those fabulously self-identified creatures, human beings – still hold tightly to the belief that life is supposed to be a certain way.

Namely, life is supposed to be all about me and my clan and our very specific and narrow perspective.

But what of our capacity to expand how we define “us”? What if we’re all “us”??

Why are we so afraid to lay down our identities for a moment, and listen, really listen to the other side? Why has this election polarized us even more, so that everyone is grasping ever more frantically onto their identification with certain political parties, ways of being human, and to the belief that there’s only one right way to do anything?

I actually find this moment rife with potential and more than a little bit exciting. Just like the craziness that’s erupted in my personal life.

This moment, this polarized, electric moment, is the exact moment we’ve all been waiting for. This is the moment in time where we can see ourselves reflected clearly. To see where we’re stuck in a stagnant identification program. To see where we’re limited by us vs. them/right vs. wrong.

This whole dualistic system that starts with black and white thinking and manifests as a two-party political system is what we’re being asked to take a long, hard look in the mirror at.

Not to mention how dualistic black and white thinking shows up in our relationship to ourselves. I mean, how many times have you told yourself you were a failure because you ate ice cream or drank booze? And where did that condemnation get you? I know when I was living inside that wonderful paradigm, that way of thinking got me so full of hate for myself that I would binge eat and vomit. How’s that for productive?

What’s the world stage equivalent of bulimia? It’s the hate crimes in reaction to the uncomfortable feeling that not everybody is like you. And I would like to emphasize here that there is absolutely zero distinction between someone who perpetrates a hate crime and someone who lies and says a hate crime was perpetrated against her. They are equally committed to the paradigm of hate.

And if we want new solutions, we need to walk ourselves right out of that worldview.

How do we do that?

We walk directly into the pain of it all without reacting. Without making anyone wrong. Because it’s hard to confront difference with openness. It’s hard to look at ourselves without judging. It’s hard to accept other people just as they are. It’s hard to take the high road and be the bigger person.

But what if doing exactly that is the portal to shifting the way things are showing up in the world?

What if the pain of being an us vs. them is exactly what Life is asking us to encounter and transform right now? 

If you like what you read here, please pass me along to your friends!

When You’re Terrified You’re Not Living Your “Best Life” & What To Do About It (Plus Me Crying In My Car to Adele)

We’ve been seeing the phrase, “live your best life!” thrown around for years now, and if you’re anything like me, a part of you always feels like you and your (perhaps not so best) life are just not measuring up.

In this scenario …

> Magazines that are supposedly meant to uplift, lead to feelings of inadequacy.

> Social media that is supposedly meant to connect us more, leads to debilitating feelings of FOMO (that’s “Fear Of Missing Out” in case you’ve been living under a rock).

In fact, take a moment right now and check in with yourself about what the phrase “live your best life” conjures up for you.

Are you a wealthy goddess-like woman living in a mansion, hosting wondrous retreats for tons of money to adoring followers?

The sexy mother of three, married to a super successful man?

A famous speaker?

A best-selling author? 

Are you living on a tropical island??

And how closely does your current life resemble that … and how do you feel about it?

My “best life” imagery recently was me living in Hawaii, sun-kissed, with satiny hair (this is a fantasy, people, I get to have satiny hair!), going to galas, and feeling amazing all the time.

The specifics of this particular best life fantasy stem from an astrology reading I got a few months ago, where I was told that my best life took place in Hawaii.

(And, by the way, there’s nothing wrong with having the desires I list above! But, figuring out what is your true desire, and what is a false want that’s been sold to you by the “best life” people is what I’m talking about here.)

So, I was all set to go to Hawaii, and then some things in my family life completely blew up and I found myself relocating back to where I grew up, deep in upstate New York, in the exact place this astrologer told me all my old patterns and behaviors were most entrenched, and where my “best life” most definitely was not.

For the summer months I was a happy camper, running around living the country girl life-style I love so much … but then a cold fall set in, and I started to panic that my “best life” was passing me by.

And … how could I even call myself a life coach if I was living in some alternate, faulty life universe – because what is a life coach if not a person who helps you launch your Best Life??

I started to unravel a little bit inside, as this question took hold.

I was walking around with the feeling of, Oh, no, what if I’m doing it all wrong?? starting to build up, and I felt my confidence leaking out, which is not a good feeling when you’re attempting to self-motivate about anything, much less be a life coach.

I questioned everything I was doing.

From the validity of my work – because maybe it wasn’t even working!

To the authenticity of every Facebook post I wrote – because as much as I’d like to be truly authentic and not hide any gruesome, real-life details, I’ve been trained to show the glossier side things, because that’s what our entrepreneurial culture tells us to do, and I’ve studied with the best in the industry.

I spent a couple of days in a wretched state, lying in bed in the middle of the day and sobbing in my car listening to Adele (I usually boycott Adele, due to feeling emotionally exploited by her music, but in the middle of an ugly cry fest, she is just the thing).

After two full days of this, I woke up early and went for a walk down a dirt road. I talked out loud to myself. I asked the hard questions out loud, about whether I could still qualify as a life coach if I’m not living my “best life”.

And then a realization occurred to me.

I’m not simply about living your “best life”.

I’m about living your fullest life.

When I stopped and looked at my life, messy as it was, I saw that I was still living it full-out, even if I wasn’t in a shiny, photo-shoot-like scenario, (and things were kinda hairy, in fact).

But still …

I was feeling everything fully.

I was having deep, full-bodied, completely honest conversations with myself.

I was diving in all the way with my family situation.

I was in the beginning weeks of a brand new romance, and we were having all the big conversations – about intimacy, sexuality, his prison record, my childhood sexual abuse, babies after 40 and 50, marriage.

My life was full.

But was it “best”? I found, once on this train of thought, both that I couldn’t care less, and also, that yes.

My fullest life is my best life.

Yet again the results are in that what your life looks like from the outside has absolutely nothing to do with how it feels on the inside.

As a culture, boy, do we struggle with that one.

And I have found that even some of the most seemingly forward-thinking life coaches and entrepreneurs are still out there toeing the party line that how a thing looks has something to do with how it feels inside of you.

Forget about it. Their rules don’t have to be your rules.

Your fullest life might be messy.

But you’re not pretending.

You’re taking everything on.

You’re friends with your sharpest happiness and the depths of your despair.

You’re not running away any longer.

You’re not buying into somebody else’s rules for how to do your thang.

You’re not afraid of missing out.

You laugh easily.

You feel fulfilled.

You feel free.

Your mouth is full of life.

And you know that whatever craziness life throws your way, you’ll be able to handle it.

So, take another moment right now and check in to see how you feel around the idea of living your fullest life. What images come up for you? How does it feel to live your fullest life?

For the record, I’m still planning on visiting Hawai’i and seeing what happens. But while I’m here, I get to do this full-out. You get to do the same. Wherever you are.

Can you give yourself permission to start right now?

And what are you going to give yourself permission to do fully right now??

I’d love to hear in the comments below.

If  you like what you read here, please pass me along to your friends. Anyone who desires a full life, is a friend of mine!

Me stacking firewood in my full (but not necessarily best) life.
Me stacking firewood in my full (but not necessarily “Best”) life.

Life Lessons from a Country Girl Summer (Decide Shit. And Other Helpful Gems.)

I spent the summer in rural upstate New York, bouncing between unfinished houses, dog-sitting gigs, and camping out in the wilderness. Oh, and sleeping in my car.
I wanted a wild summer, time in nature that would remove the comforting cover of predictable, indoor living, so that I could have a true encounter with myself, and go deeper with some healing on old, stuck places.
It was amazing.
Healing. Riveting. Terrifying. Bottomless. And truly fulfilling. I’m in a totally new place.
And I want to share with you the things I learned that made new transformation and fulfillment and a vaster experience of inner freedom possible. Take it and run!

img_4842A few of the most life-altering things I’ve learned/re-learned this summer:

  • You don’t have to be happy all the time. It’s alright if sometimes you feel not too great. You’re not a failure, you’re a human being.
  • If you cook this morning’s eggs in last night’s hamburger grease you will really, really like breakfast.
  • When you do the absolutely crazy thing that you’ve been wanting to do for a long, long time you will like yourself more.
  • Life can be extraordinarily messy. You’re not a loser because of this. Don’t believe everything you see on social media. Mess is okay, it’s part of living full-out and well.
  • You have friends. People you forgot about love you and will be super excited to see you again. They will invite you into their home and cook you dinner and make you cocktails if you let them. It’s amazing to let in the flood of love.
  • Children are wild creatures and worth spending time around. Even when they pee on the trampoline or cry over rice. You will find them fascinating examples of how to live full-out and embrace being human.
  • You have to decide shit. Life will happen to you, randomly, otherwise. Decide.
  • Fear is looking for an in-road. You are not available. Why not? Because fear is NOT REAL. Stop pretending like it is.
  • Shame is not real either. Your objects do not quantify you. You are an immortal essence. Live like it.
  • You have something staggeringly beautiful and singular about you. Let it out to play.

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If you like what you read here, pass me along to all your friends! And if you’re not already subscribed, please join me. I’ll gift you some amazing healing tools, and you’ll get all the insider tips and offers that my inner circle members enjoy.

Encountering Myself, Alone in the Woods at Night (Or, How to Find Your Freedom By Embracing Your Dark Side)

I’ve come to the woods to force a confrontation with myself. With those parts of me that are pulling me down, the dark undertow of my being. Keeping me from striding forward, sure of myself and my place in the world. Stopping me from finishing projects and launching my dreams.

Rainbow + Cemetery. Gathering courage to enter the woods at dusk.
Rainbow + Cemetery. Gathering my courage to enter the woods at dusk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’re a dissonant medley of complaints lodged in my cells by older versions of myself. Tracks of pain and doubt, hammered into my DNA by my ancestors’ lives of loss and lack. Stories of fear that keep re-telling themselves inside my mind.

I want an encounter. It’s time. We’ve been circling each other for forty years, maybe more. Perhaps for lifetimes.

My intention is to remove the cover from my life. Not to commune anymore with distraction. But to meet myself, with no mediating force between us. No electricity. No late nights. No booze. No movies. No house to clean or organize.

Just me. Alone in the dark, in the quiet of the forest.

Scene of the Crime. A photograph of the inside darkness of my tent at night.
Scene of the Crime. A photograph of the inside darkness of my tent at night.

It unnerves me to even consider it.

Not the alone time in the forest.

The encounter with my innermost self.

I’ve become amazingly adept at avoiding her, despite the years of intense personal growth. There always feels to be a harder threat lurking just beneath the surface. A foundational truth that something is horribly wrong with me, the confronting of which would destroy the illusions that I’ve worked so hard to construct.

Not that I’ve ever actually bought into my illusions.

That would mean having ever once really believed that there’s nothing wrong with me. Nothing to hide. That I’m fine.

But, you see, I know that I am irreparable. Damaged goods. I imagine a man beside me in the tent. I feel filthy at the thought. Not because I am opposed to men or great sex, in fact my body lights up at the very idea. But in my innermost self, I feel unworthy of such. Tainted. Not good enough.

So, no, I have no illusions about it.

It’s just that I also spent years trying to lie my way out of anyone seeing this truth about me, the terrible finality of the fact that there is something wrong with me.

And uncovering what those falsities – the carefree image, the adventurer, the claiming of sexual prowess – have kept safely underground so I can forget what I know – horrifies me.

I started very young with the cover-up.

When I was twelve, I lied about having a boyfriend at sleep-away camp.

I chose to name one of the camp counselors, an older boy named Philippe, whom I had not spoken a single word to, as my summer boyfriend when I returned home.

I staged a photograph with him, and it’s the one picture that didn’t develop, on the whole roll of film. I’m sure the friend who took it just didn’t know what she was doing, but it feels, in retrospect, like God intervened, and wouldn’t allow the lie to take effect.

I wept when I got the film back. I called to where my mom was, at a friend’s house for dinner, sobbing with the unbearable load of knowing that my damage was uncover-up-able. Her friend stayed on the phone with my almost 13 year old self, and asked me why I was so upset that this one photograph hadn’t developed.

“Because no one will believe that he was my boyfriend without the photograph!” I said.

I was so many layers deep inside the delusion, and the grief was coming from a place inside me so rooted in my being, that I couldn’t speak the truth of it aloud – the “truth” being that I believed I was unlovable. That there was something wrong with me, that would keep me from being accepted if anyone ever found out.

I couldn’t even fully acknowledge it to myself.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had boyfriends, I’ve had lovers, and some of them have been damn fine experiences. But the remains of that old belief still linger, and I don’t want to spend any more time silently wrestling those demons underground. I want to release them into the open, take them on, hear them out, and set them free.

Why is this important? Because all that energy aimed at attempting to keep our darkness buried, could be used for God’s good work. To carry out our soul mission here in this lifetime. To laugh more and be a better person. To actually enjoy life, hey, how ‘bout that??

Because – and here’s the part worth repeating endlessly – none of that awfulness we believe about ourselves is true.

None of it. Not a single solitary second of it. As terribly as you may have acted, and you may have done terrible things, committed crimes against yourself and others, it does not mean that there is something fundamentally wrong with you. Ever.

But we believe it. So we avoid it.

And that’s why I want to invite you – as I invite myself – to have that encounter.

Because I know what the truth is. The real truth.

Underneath all the perceived vileness is your liberated self, who is love.

Living from love looks and feels and yields extremely different results than living from its opposite.

I know all too well what the results are of living from its opposite.

When you’ve got a shadowy aspect of yourself crawling around your inner cellar, it unsettles you. You do terrible things to yourself with food and booze, you sleep with the wrong men and pretend you like it.

At least that’s the way it was for me.

The origin of that misbehavior is one of the things I’ve come into the forest to encounter.

I confronted her last night, as I lay in my tent, the night getting blacker as I lay there, unfiltered, nothing distracting me from my own existence. I felt her rise up inside of me, this black wave of self-disgust, as I let the fleeting thought of a having a man beside me in the tent flicker through my mind.

“Hello, friend,” I said inside myself.

This seemed to surprise her. She took form all of a sudden, a beaten down she-wolf, hunkering low to the ground, full of shame.

I stood over her, taking her in, watching her, feeling her there, feeling her so alive inside of me. I communed with this emotionally wounded she-wolf part of myself, holding her in my acceptance.

As of today, she is welcome here. I won’t deny her any longer.

And in doing so, I sense her beginning to perk up. We’ll spend some good time together, here in the woods at night. We’ll become allies. Friends, even. So she doesn’t feel the need to slink around in my subconscious, hiding out, pulling me down with the ferocity of her claim on me.

No, as of tonight, that harassed, shame-filled part of me is being called into the light of day, accepted as one of the family.

*                                    *                                    *

What shame-filled part of yourself is calling out for your attention today?

Where are you ignoring and denying a whole part of yourself?

Is there an image you can see when you connect to this mystical part of yourself?

Remember, your liberated self speaks to you not only in words, but in the mysterious language of images and colors, the stuff of visions. Trust the mystery.

Tell me all about your darkness and your healing – and any crazy visions or encounters you’ve had — in the comments below!

If you like what you read here, pass me along to all your friends! And if you’re not already subscribed, please join me. I’ll gift you some amazing healing tools, and you’ll get all the insider tips and offers that my inner circle members enjoy.