Thoughts on Selfishness and What It Means to Love

There are connections that evolve beyond labels. Beyond good, and beyond bad. Beyond how things should, or should not be. Beyond happy. Beyond sad.

These are connections that find life after heartbreak. Life after betrayal, jealousy and loss. Connections that have been intimate and all knowing. That have seen through thick and thin. Connections that have journeyed through ecstasy, and found peaceful friendship again.

These are the connections of forever, though not in the way you may think. Years may pass without speaking, yet these souls are still meeting, in a place beyond words, beyond ink.

It is a commitment of sorts this kind of connection, but not a traditional one. It will never ask you to promise that things stay the same. You will not be asked to sacrifice against your own truth, and you will not be required to choose anything, from a place of discipline or shame. But you will be challenged to let go and invited to expand, and you will learn to trust beyond where you know how, again and again, and again.

You will not find a label for this kind of connection. It is not a kind that can be contained. It was not born of reason. Divinity can not be framed. These connections come from deep knowing. From the voice I call the soul. They are nourishing and supportive, even in times of letting go.

These connections are not easy. They will shatter your expectations, and beliefs of right and wrong. They will destroy your agendas, and dreams you've cradled for too long. They will ask you to question everything you were sure you did know. They will break you open to heal you. They will always ask you grow.

There will be periods of intimacy and of love; periods of anger, and of strife; periods of laughter, play and silliness; periods of loss and grief and quiet. There will be adventure and exploration, and you will get lost along the way. These connections are always moving. They shift and they expand. Sometimes they blaze blinding bright, then fade away into glowing embers, and die in the darkest night. Yet, even in the darkness, there is comfort to be found – an inexplicable kind of peace – a knowing that even from cold ashes, a new form of life will be.

These kinds of connections go against stereotypes, and the things that we've been taught. We cannot decide how they will go in advance. We cannot put the relationship in a box. 

It is a lot to ask another human, to journey with us in this way. It is not something to take on lightly or from rational debate. It is a connection that can only be chosen from a place that is deep and true. Because that is exactly what the relationship will ask of each of you. It will demand that you are selfish. It thrives on honesty. It will stand for nothing less than your most raw truth, even when that truth is not easy.

Connections of this depth would simply not work from the false ideals that you keep. It is only radical honesty, that will feed the freedom you will reap.  

When you come across a human that invites you to embark, upon this kind of honest journey of the heart, please do not turn away. If you feel the pull deep within just dive right in and start. There is no amount of preparation, no way to ease the ride. Just remember you have chosen and let your soul's voice guide. 

Hold these humans in your heart, even when you hate them with a passion, or for your own sanity, you must part. And do not be surprised to find, that even through times of letting go, the connection survives, and will again, at some point, in a truer way, begin to grow. 

These connections come from a belief that living our own truth, is actually what will serve the world through this time of chaos and rebirth. That masking and denying the things we deeply crave, while in the moment comfortable, will always kill true connection with a numbness or a resentment that pervades. It is only from true selfishness; from filling ourselves first, that we can freely choose another, freely give of ourselves, freely love, freely serve.

This is what I know in the depth of me to be true. That our selfish desires are beautiful and often selfless too. That the healing this world needs will never come from following the 'shoulds', but from trusting the voice deep within us that knows the heart of man is good.

This is a radical belief system to live from, especially in this time, in this culture, in this world. But it is what I know in the quiet of my own heart, from my own experience of loving and of working and of creating my own art. 

Selfishness is service. Wholeness (inclusive of hatred) is what it means to love. Truth (even when painful) is what freedom is made of.  

So, find the connection that is selfish, and that asks the same of you. Find the humans your soul trusts, no matter how painful their truth. This is where you will find your healing. This is where your soul will find its way. You will not get what you thought you wanted, but you will experience freedom, and the gift of being loved, for exactly who you are, each and every day.

xo,

Danielle

The Wildness of the Future

Change like that will shake you to the core, even if it is not harmful in the end.

This thought will not leave me.

Can I expand and make room in me for all of this change, all of these new things, and all of the feelings that come with it? 

Sometimes I just don’t know.

It often feels like I am blind, feeling my way forward with senses that are weak from years of lack of use. The deep inner voice inside of me has gotten stronger over the past few years of practice, but it is still a little muffled, and sometimes, when it asks me to let go of people or things that have been beautiful and loving and comforting, I still hesitate. I am still working on trusting fully.

Letting go is always the hardest. And this journey of following my soul is full of partings. Moving away from people and places that no longer align with the truer version of myself I am allowing. Letting go of ideas, habits, fears, comforts, coping mechanisms, old wounds, belief systems, deeply entrenched behavioural patterns, and sometimes even entire identities I had crafted for myself. I know the future will be more of this. More letting go all of the time. There are always new things to take their place - new joys, new loves, new ideas, new beliefs, and a more deeply peaceful inner state - but I know there will be a lot of letting go in my lifetime.  

We will all lose a lot in the next decades; a lot of the material comforts and the safety and security we have become accustomed to. I feel this in my bones. We will all be thrust into the unknown whether we like it or not. The way of the North American culture is not sustainable. Our systems will not work indefinitely, and the expiry dates on the ones we rely upon most are fast approaching. We will not be guaranteed anything or anyone.

We will be asked to trust in uncertainty again and again. It will not be easy. In fact, it will be the most challenging thing. I know I will often find myself at the edge of what I have courage make space for.  Some will choose to fight to the death for the systems and the material comforts they grew up with because losing them will simply be too great a change to live through. I choose to practice cultivating the strength and the courage to let go. This is why I am on a journey of rewriting. We will be required to evolve or we will go down with the old way. None of us will escape what is coming.

This is why, though I enjoy it, and though I feel being a part of the legal profession is where I am meant to be right now, I at times find it challenging to be fully engaged in my legal work. This system too is falling apart. Truth and justice are becoming increasingly inaccessible. The backlogs, the high fees, the delays, the procedural strategizing, the voluminous mounds of documents. There is no simple affordable way forward. It is not possible to navigate the layers upon layers of laws and regulations and administration in a way that ensures everyone (or even most) get a fair trial.

As the systems fall apart, their enforcement will also become inconsistent and sporadic, and not equally applied to everyone. At first those with money will still be able to maintain the kinds of safety and comfort we have become accustomed to, but over time, no space controlled by force will remain safe or reliable.

It has to be this way because all of our systems are based in a flawed understanding of life. They are built from a world view based in fear and separation; from a perspective that says everything we are afraid of we can avoid by creating some new technology or system, or law, or infrastructure, or cure. It comes from a perspective that says humans are above the laws of nature; that humans can conquer the world.

This simply is not so. Anyone who is present and willing to be honest with themselves will know this truth: we have never been above nature, or any other life form, and we never will be. There are universal laws that apply equally to all of us. We cannot rewrite these rules. We will never win the game we have been playing.

The problem is we have been playing this game of conquering and controlling life for so long now that we have convinced ourselves of its possibility, and we have developed hundreds of ways to avoid hearing all messages of truth that would show us its fallacy. We live in cities, surrounded by concrete, so we cannot hear truth in the conversations among trees or birds. We avert our eyes, put our earbuds in and stare at our screens to avoid seeing the suffering or even the joy of others. We are disconnected from the life all around us. 

We have even gone to the extreme of hurting ourselves to avoid feeling the truth in our own bodies. We drink, work, and drug ourselves, sometimes to death, all in the hopes we can forever avoid the pain inside us that knows: WE CANNOT WIN THIS GAME.

We cannot build or fix or invent our way out of the precarious situation we have gotten ourselves into. We will not overcome the challenges we are facing as a species by trying harder or going faster. We simply will not win this game. 

I am not saying we should give up. But we must surrender. We must humble ourselves and learn to align the way we live with natural laws and universal truths. The principles we live by must be principles that support all life.

In order to do this we must jump into the unknown. We must relearn that our worthiness as a human being is inherent, and not dependent on material goods, achievements or external markers of success. We must begin to trust ourselves, and learn to listen to the voice of our truest self that lives deep inside of us, because this voice knows how to live in alignment with life. We must remember that who we are at the truest level is enough.

Only if we can come back to this honest place and learn to live without the excess stories and baggage of identities that we have become accustomed to, will we survive through the upcoming storm. Chaos is pending, not utopia. We can enter it willingly, surrendering in peace to the truth of the world, or exhaust ourselves to death fighting the storm.

These are the choices we face at this juncture in history. Today is just an ordinary day. I have arrived at work. I will begin reviewing some legal documents soon. The system still stands. But the ground is shaking. Some days, like today, the instability makes me nauseous; and every time I pause in my typing I can feel the wildness of the future in my bones.

xo,

Danielle

Thoughts on Freedom and the Other Side of Pain

Pillow-pounding rage. A knife to the heart. Shortness of breath. Fists of rage. Seas of doubt. Energies of death and endings and loss. Exhausted collapse into rivers of tears.

Why am I continually going to these places? Wouldn’t it be easier, and wouldn’t I be happier, if I avoided those people and places and situations that I know will cause pain?

Sometimes I wonder these things, and in moments of heartbreak and fear I doubt whether I have chosen wisely in following the voice of my soul as it calls from deep within. Its messages rarely make sense to my rational mind, and acting on them is never comfortable.

I know that all of this emotion could be avoided by simply ignoring that whisper. I would likely have many more markers of traditional success in my life if I did. I would probably be in a nice stable romantic relationship; I might own a home or even have a few kids; and I would most certainly be further along in my legal career. I would feel a lot less, that I know for sure.

Yet I know I could never go back to living from the rational voice in my head. I do not believe the path our culture has taught us to follow is sustainable, and I simply could not put on that show. My insides would be cold and dead, and no amount of busyness could distract me from that emptiness; not even an addiction would do. 

Still I wonder, in times where following my truth creates conflict and pain for myself and those I love, is it really worth it to follow my seemingly irrational soul?

And no matter how heartbroken or frustrated or terrified I am, the answer is always: yes.

Yes, I must go there, where I least want to go. Yes, I must say those things, even when I know they will disrupt and cause pain. Yes, I must follow this voice inside me, because it knows the way. This is my truth, my soul. This is the part of me that is connected in to the collective Truth; the soul of the world. This is the part of me that knows the way forward to a more beautiful life, and world.

There is also no avoiding the lesson or the healing my soul points me towards. Denying my truth will only delay and double the pain. I have learned this the hard way many times before.   

The other thing I know to be true is that pain is never the point. The point is always love; and wholeness; and beauty; and truth; and the joy that flows freely once I have learned what I needed to learn and healed in me what was ready to heal.

There is nothing more liberating, than finding you are able to stand joyfully in a place inside of you that used to hold pain, but now no longer does, because you have treated it with compassion and love.

Freedom comes from standing more firmly in our truth.

Knowing these things allows me peace. And though I still doubt my choices at times when strong emotion flows through me, I know in these very human moments I can seek out the voice of a friend who understands, to remind me that everything will be okay.

The deeper I go on this journey of following the voice of my soul, the more I find peace travels with me, even through times of fear and pain and loss.

Allowing all of our humanity for the gift that it is, and facing the fire it brings. Living in the freedom of our own truth – this is what is needed for true joy, and the creation of a more beautiful world.

xo,

Danielle

What it Means to Trust: Thoughts on Growth and Listening to the Voice of Your Soul

There is a space between the pushing and the pulling insanity of the world around us that we can sink into if we trust. A way of living outside of striving and fixing. A form of growth that is natural and cyclical, like the seasons of trees losing leaves and resting, and then blooming again each spring.

Trust creates the place where peace lives.

Trust does not mean faith, although they are related. To come from trust does not mean to believe in God, or the Universe, or another spiritual presence, or even to have faith that everything is happening according to some divine plan, although you may believe in one or more of these things, and therefore trust. 

To me trust simply means to peacefully be with and create from what is, exactly as it is. Radical acceptance of the wholeness of life. To trust in the intelligence of things exactly as they are means to trust in how things got to be where they are, and to trust in where they are going.

Trust requires taking responsibility for our own part in the conversation of life. Trust asks us to listen to and live from the part of ourselves that knows how to partake in this conversation. I call this part of us our soul. You may call it your intuition, your inner knowing, or the part of you that can communicate with the divine.

Whatever you call it, this is the part of you that is connected in to all life: past, present and future. It is connected to a deeper truth that flows through everything. We have all had moments when we have just known what to do or to say, or when we have sensed something was wrong, and then found out someone we loved had died. This is the part of us that simply knows.

Listening to this part of us does not mean that we will always get what we want. In fact, sometimes it will mean we get just the opposite: the thing we wanted least. This is because the more surface level part of us, the ego self, that is constantly shouting at us all of the things that we want, is not connected in to the deeper conversation of our soul.  If we are willing to let go of our expectations when we don’t get what we want, and to move through whatever thoughts and emotions come up for us, we will likely find that what we got was exactly what we needed to become more of who we are.

And that is what this is all about. Our soul simply wants us to be who we are in the world. To be and to do and to experience all of the things that only we can in this lifetime. Our soul came here for a reason, and that is it.

The more we learn to listen to and to create our lives from this deeper place, the more life will align with what we seek to create. Trust is what creates space for us to access that deeper voice.

Yesterday I was at a talk by David Whyte, a poet and philosopher I follow, and prior to reciting a piece by the late poet and activist Antonio Machado, he said, the poem “was so deeply private it actually belonged to everyone in the end.” The poem is called Last Night as I Was Sleeping” – a heartfelt piece written by Machado after years of self-imposed exile following the sudden death of the love of his life. It is beautiful, and timeless, and if translated, would likely resonate with most people on earth.

The deeply private place from which Machado wrote that poem is the place I am speaking about. It is the place I believe that all great writing, all great art of any form, and all great ideas come from: a place that belongs to us all.

This is the place that shook me awake and reminded me that I love to write. This is the place that took me on a journey of self discovery and healing. This is the place that had me leave law and pursue life coaching and poetry. And this is the place that had me return to law and sink into all that is my life. This is the place I often write from, especially when my writing is poetic. This is the place where I find peace when life gives me the opposite of what I want.

This is the place we can all access when we trust. The place that knows what to say or to do or to create despite that our conscious mind may not understand it. To listen to that voice when we don’t fully understand, requires trust.

Trust offers peace. It creates space for joy, and it holds the invitation of a way forward, in painful and uncertain times. Trust is a beautiful way to live, one that I am practicing more deeply all the time.

xo,

Danielle

Danielle RondeauComment
Embracing the Strange: Thoughts on Beauty and Joy

This is Joy. The one that comes in blankets and waves. Warming the skin, and sinking in, like sunrays on snowbanks in spring.  

This is Joy. The carrier of the knowing you have been waiting for. The trickster; the wise mentor; the friend. The one who leans in close, after months of wandering through fog, and with a playful wink, says: You've been on the right path all along!

This is where Joy lives: Here. In moments of pause. In moments you take in the life you are living with an open heart, and are surprised to find it more beautiful than you thought; more beautiful even than you imagined it could be.

Joy is the realization that you love your life not only for its perfection and clarity, but also for its unpredictable wildness and darkness and messiness.

Joy writes stories that exist only because you found the courage to embrace the unplanned and the strange. Joy is the beauty in bringing to life those new stories in your own tender and tentative way. 

Joy is possible only from peace, and peace is possible only from trust, and trust is possible only from listening to, and acting in alignment with, a deep inner truth; and listening is possible only from the willingness to let go of control over how things should look or should go.

So surrender to the fog if that is where you find yourself now, and listen for that small voice that knows. Trust it deeply even when the path is covered and the sky is grey. In the name of a wise and playful friend, Joy, trust that voice knows the way.

It will not be easy, at least not always. Some days the challenges will make you sick with their churning in your gut. You will be defeated and exhausted and heartbroken and enraged. You will be asked to let go when you want to hold on, and asked to hold on when you want to let go. You will be humbled, this I know.

Yet if you trust deeply, and if you walk ever so slowly, sensing your way forward from that deep inner voice, you will find that peace will always hold you; and that after the storm, the sun will return. The walk through the fog is always worth it.

Some questions will be answered in Joy’s early light, and though new ones will inevitably emerge, you will find that you were indeed on the path all along, and that you can now see beyond the next curve.

You will begin to catch glimpses of what is next, and that small voice inside you will urge: Take bigger, more confident steps, now. It is time for this next chapter to emerge. Love will flow and Joy will shout, to help you on your way. And those steps that you take, in those early days, will be nothing short of fantastic.

So, let there be fog and let there be light, and let there be weirdness in beauty. Let messiness seep through masks of perfection, and let certainty fade into wonder. Let us let go of the last chapter with the fog as it lifts, and let new stories be born of such unexpected delight that we can’t help but believe in magic.

And when Joy arrives in her trickster way, let us surrender to her play. Let us birth new from the old and old from the new, and something just for fun. Let us lift our heads and squint our eyes, and smile into the bright shining sun.

xo,

Danielle

Danielle RondeauComment
Living Unmasked: Thoughts on Allowing Humanity and Being Seen

There are days I forget everything good in my life, even when I am staring right at it. Maybe it is because I stare at my blessings everyday and have become blind to them. Maybe it is because I have been repeatedly taught by our culture to focus on the next thing - the next achievement, the next destination, the next level of growth - that it takes incredible intention and courage to simply relax into and appreciate what I have. Most likely both.

The past week or so this is exactly the place I have found myself: wanting to be further ahead; longing to have grown more, to have become more of myself, to have received and achieved and accomplished more than I already have. Seeing friends share recent successes in their business or life, and feeling some excitement for them, but mostly feeling my own lack.

Not enough. Still not enough.

After everything I have been through; after all I have loved and healed and grown and achieved and created, there is still an insatiable part of me that makes it never be enough.

Sometimes the longing to be someone or somewhere other than who and where I am in this moment is so strong it's all I can do to just get up and show up to my life. Sometimes I lay awake all night with anxiety. Sometimes I cry on the bus. Sometimes I cry at work. Sometimes I wail and scream and rage into my pillow, or at the ocean or the moon.

Sometimes I can feel the pain of our collective longing; of the exhausting effort of our collective running up a staircase towards some destination that never arrives, and I collapse under the weight of it. Sometimes I find myself in a pit of despair. Sometimes I want to just give up.

And yet, even in times of deep pain, I am peaceful. I feel the longing; I feel the sadness; I feel the rage; I feel the despair. And I allow it. I allow it all to be a part of my experience of life. I give it permission to move through me; to teach me; to heal me; to hold me; and to shake me awake into this moment. I am no longer afraid of my own humanity.

For this peace I am so grateful.

Five years ago I was terrified of the depth to which I feel life. I avoided my own experience with food and alcohol, and by making myself busy. I refused to breathe deeply into my own body.

This past week in the midst of my inner torment I consistently breathed deeply into my gut. I felt fully the pain and the longing there. I moved through my legal work at a slower pace, but I did still work. There was the familiar despair deep in my bones, but I felt love, too, because I was present. And I did not feel the desire to numb out my experience.

I am grateful I have cultivated the strength and the faith to be with pain and fear and longing and loss. I am grateful for the vastness of my human experience. And I am most grateful for the level of honesty and transparency with which I now live my life.

My law firm knows I feel deeply, and that I am passionate with mental and emotional ups and downs. And so does everyone in my life. And anyone who will come into my life in the future will know too. I am no longer hiding this part of me. I have transformed my beliefs and my behaviours in many ways, but I am still me. I always will be.

And although I sometimes long to be someone or somewhere other than who and where I am, I now hold those thoughts and feelings with peace, and continue on. Because I know in my heart that what I truly want, and the world needs most, is for me to lay down my masks, and to just be me.

xo,

Danielle

Danielle RondeauComment