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Leo New Moon

August 16th, marks a New Moon in Leo.

Leo is the fifth Zodiac and second fire sign, a fixed sign ruled by the Sun. While the first fire sign of the Zodiac, Aries, is a wild cannon of infinite potential energy, the fire of Leo is much more focused and centered on an “I” experience. This is a powerful time to embody radical selfishness, tuning into your deepest heart’s desires and sharing them unapologetically with the world.

Lyrics from my song “Deeply Entangled,” say, “when I free me, I free you, when I heal me, I heal you too.” Our actions, perhaps driven by our own desire to grow, to feel love, to feel safe, to feel joy, to release pain, in turn feed others in their journey as well. When we live in true alignment with ourselves, we become a source of inspiration for others to live this way too. We can take care of ourselves without needing to be ego driven in a destructive way.

If you would like to listen to the full song, “Deeply Entangled,” it is available for streaming on Spotify, Youtube, and Bandcamp. This song was written in a post break up moment, honoring my own needs, and spiraling into a dance of returning to my own center.

Cover Art by @eduparas_arte

So in this Leo portal you may ask yourself…

Is there some way that I would like to express myself, but perhaps have been withholding due to fear?

What is limiting me from manifesting my visions and dreams?

What supports me to feel brave?

Is there a part of me that I can dare to love more fiercely?

As a humanity, we are all on a dance with our ego. For me, feeding it obsessively or denying it completely only masks the presence of a real part of us that is there whether we accept it or not. So we might as well dance our best Leo dance and embody the full expression of who we truly are. Even if fears and doubts arise, we can become witnesses to our own emotions without allowing them to paralyze us.

As an adult, I had to relearn that it was okay to express my whole self- yes even my shadow self, and that I was allowed to speak to my needs and desires. Because as a child I was typically only given an opening to talk about the good stuff. All of the uncomfortable emotions were expected to be hidden. I also was repeatedly scolded, when my mom got really frustrated at me- “the world doesn’t revolve around you!” I carried this wound that I was supposedly selfish and only cared about myself, which didn’t feel true or right for me. What I can see now is that I had just been practicing speaking my vulnerable truths in a context where no one else was honestly asking for or getting what their heart most desired

So I invite you on this new moon, to take up space, to express yourself unapologetically. Perhaps you feel inspired to write a story, to sing, to dance to your favorite song, to bake a cake, to take a walk along the ocean’s shoreline. Honor your inner listening because your body’s intelligent messages are important to hear!

Photo by @katya.foto

This past weekend I immersed myself in a four day festival of contact improvisation (CI). It had been many moons that I had been surrounded by so many skilled CI practitioners all in the same space. I was also joining the CI Berkeley dance community for the first time. There was a lot of new information for my nervous system and at the first jam, I felt pretty overstimulated, sensitive, and emotional. I had come from the retreat center in the mountains, my home for the summer, where I typically interacted with four or less people daily and spent most of my day surrounded by fruit trees, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, birds, spiders, and lavender. Dancing in the city, at a gathering of one hundred humans was definitely different for me. To top everything off, I knew in my bones that this weekend would include a reencuentro with my ex partner who I had not seen since our break up two years ago. Of course I didn’t actually receive the clarity from him about whether or not he would be at the jam, but intuitively I knew it would happen.

I would like to offer that when I speak of someone who was a lover or partner of mine in the past, I refrain from calling them my “ex.” There’s something inherently false, about calling this person my ex, as if I am exing them completely out of my life. For me, this is not the case. Instead of shutting this person out of my heart and life, I acknowledge that our relationship has transformed. I wish I could come up with a great new name for my “ex” that truly satisfied me, but so far I only have a few ideas that don’t fully resonate- reflection, past partner, distant memory, past love, former partner, old flame, compañero, new friend.

Months before the contact festival, I reached out to my past partner to tell him that I would be joining and requesting to know if he would be there as well. I knew it was likely that he would be present because he lived in the bay area and was immersed in the contact community. In fact, our relationship had begun years before through contact improvisation, when we began teaching contact kid classes together- a place for parents and their children to dance contact and play.

He couldn’t give me clarity so far in advance about his attendance since it seemed like he was still unclear about his attendance. Although it was in complete alignment for him to be unable to make a decision and follow through with it, I also didn’t expect him to have clarity so far before the event. However, the week of the jam, I reached out again. He still had not decided. The day before the jam, I received an email for the work exchange position I had signed up for which notified me of my shifts throughout the weekend and which included a very particular person on some of the shifts- my past partner.

So I reached out to him again. “Hey I don’t know many people with your name. It seems like you will be there this weekend.” I said.

He said that he still had not decided.

I asked him if he would be willing to hear how his indecision was impacting me to which he responded yes. I expressed that I was feeling nervous about seeing each other again and it was destabilizing to not know if I should actually be preparing to meet again or not. I also felt that I couldn’t trust in his words because if he had already followed through and signed up for work exchange, and the day before still felt that he could just back out at any moment, I perceived that he was just dancing around with agreements he had made, as if they meant nothing. While he heard me, I feel that he didn’t fully integrate my need for safety or that he didn’t take aligned action steps that would be supportive to me. The day of the jam I sent him a message to make a request. “Would you be willing to notify me just one hour before a chunk that you decide to come to?” His answer was supposedly yes but he responded in a tone of voice that sounded like frustration at my request, he took up a lot of space to include deep exhales, and asked in return if I could let him know if my desire to know shifted. From my perception it sounded like maybe he needed to say no to my simple and reasonable request but instead of giving any kind of clear “no” or “yes,” he gave a begrudging yes.

I had assumed that it would be no problem to send a quick “I am coming” text as soon as he decided to take a shower, get dressed, brush his teeth, and drive over to the jam. His response included a very long drawn out message in which I perceived that he was very annoyed to be having this conversation. He said that he would do his best but he needed to be unpredictable.

I felt hurt and did not respond. After that message, I remembered who I was dancing with. I was seeking safety from someone who I perceived as unsafe. I was seeking to make an agreement with someone who had demonstrated to me how easily he breaks agreements. I was seeking support from someone who expressed himself as unpredictable and unstable. I felt disappointed because in the two years of our separation, he had supposedly taken ownership for the ways he had mistreated me and had bombarded me with apologies. To me, words are nice, but action steps are everything! I felt that if all of those expressions of “I’m sorry” were real, he would appreciate the opportunity to take a really simple action step to support me. I was asking him to clearly communicate with me and honor his word. But it seemed like that was still impossible for him and although it was hard to accept, it was like a splash of cold water to the face.

I acknowledged his limitations, recognizing that this was where he was truly at and I trusted that he was doing the best he could.

I remembered that I can take care of myself, my own needs, and my own safety in a way that doesn’t include him. I sent him one last message after taking many deep breaths. My initial gut reaction was to express my ravenous anger toward him and to release my extreme frustration at how incapable he was of making simple, clear agreements that he would honor. Although I believe that rage is a sacred emotion, I feel that it is extremely vulnerable to express and if I do not feel safe to express it to this person, I prefer to release it on my own. So I responded to him, definitely not angry, but there was assuredly a tone of frustration and annoyance in my voice. I said to him, “You know what, it sounds like you really need to be unpredictable and my intention in having this conversation with you was to feel more safe and supported and now I am actually feeling more triggered and hurt. So be free, be unpredictable, come and go, and don’t message me anymore.”

I felt that I was marking a clear boundary like a clean sharp sword coming down because if he was unwilling to honor my request, I had no desire to be engaging in manipulative conversation with him. I do feel that his inability to communicate clearly and his withholding information about his comings and goings was a form of manipulation, of staying on top, of having the edge, of avoiding a simple way to ease my nervous system.

After sending that message, I had a work exchange kitchen shift with a beautiful Belgian woman. As we began chopping apples, she asked me what was alive in my heart in the present moment. I began to share what was present for me as we poured our authentic raw emotions into sweet apples becoming an apple crisp. She offered that if my past partner were to arrive, that I could come to her and ask for support. In this way, I noticed that a clear important way to take care of myself was to seek safe people who could show up for me if a need was arising. A few hours later, he arrived.

I was dancing with the apple crisp woman when I noticed my past partner walk into the jam. I became aware of how my heart beat quickened and a general sense of nervousness spiraled through my body. This Belgian woman asked me if there was anything I needed, and I expressed, simply to be near her. It was new for me to observe how feelings of safety could arise from the simple proximity, presence, or physical touch of a safe person. Perhaps I didn’t even need them to be in contact with me, to say anything, or to hear me with words. But as long as I knew that someone who could support me was nearby, I felt safe.

Aside from feeling that I had identified a few particular people who I could lean into in a vulnerable moment, I also felt that the entire container of the contact space was a safe place of listening and trust. I kept dancing in between the collective wave of energy and listening to my own body, noticing her emotions arise. I felt that this contact dance journey truly was the best place to welcome and move through all emotional processes because on the dance floor, I could shake, jump, sweat, laugh, and play. If I needed slow tender rolling, non verbal communication, hugging, and deep listening, it was all welcomed.

I became very aware of a need to go to the bathroom and I proceeded to take a deeply healing release. For me, it was extremely symbolic that I could let go of my shit upon finding myself in the same room as my past partner after the passing of many moons. My past patterning in these types of situations was to get a stomach ache and hold on tightly to my emotions. This time, I felt that my body was an open channel to release memories, tears, poop, and laughter, as they all danced through me.

I noticed that to continue taking care of myself, it was important for me to slightly keep my guard up and create a bubble of protection around my physical space. And while I created this womb like energy around me with a semipermeable membrane, I became very intentional about what would be invited in and what would be firmly kept out. In that dance, I noticed how much energy I was investing in actually avoiding dancing into my past partner. The anti-gravitational pull was requiring so much of my energy to sustain that I tried to shift my focus. Instead of feeding what I was trying to avoid, I chose to put my energy where my body did feel called to gravitate. I kept asking myself whose movement was inspiring me, what kind of touch was I craving, and whose dance orbit would I like to gravitate toward?

We had managed to successfully avoid each other throughout the entire jam, although I was constantly battling against the dichotomous desires present within me. I felt disgusted and hurt by him and I wanted to keep him at a distance. There was also a part of me, my wounded little girl, that really wanted to lean into him and to feel held by his big masculine body.

I use the word safe in this story to describe a physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual state within my physical body in which I feel my nervous system balanced, calm, and in a neutral place of homeostasis. I am aware that safety in the body feels different for all humans, so I only speak about my experience of feeling safe in my body. Also I would love to note that what feels safe for me is constantly shifting, so I try to continuously check in with myself and notice my needs and desires as they arise so that I may make decisions from a clear and empowered place.

Although my past partner and I had not engaged in contact throughout the jam, we had both clearly noticed each other’s presence. I felt that even if I wasn’t totally clear on the ‘why,’ I wanted to say hello to him and acknowledge each other’s presence in the same physical space. He had been sitting on the sidelines talking with a woman for a while and I kept sipping my tea on the opposite side of the room waiting for a perfect opportune moment to greet him alone.

It seemed like that perfect moment would never come. I began to cut a diagonal across the room and about half way through my past partner noticed me approaching him. He pasted a large big eyed smile onto his face, the kind that someone employs to mask some nervousness. I stood next to him and could feel the invisible lines of energy in the space between our bodies dancing an anxious dance. I leaned in for a distanced hug and then quickly pulled away. The woman sitting next to my partner began telling me that she remembered me from somewhere. So with my ex partner in between us, she and I engaged in a back and forth dialogue until we remembered that she had in fact visited the retreat center I currently call home, two years prior. Now that this woman had established that she and I knew each other, she signaled to me and my past partner and asked, “So you two already know each other?” and I smiled, “Yes, we know each other a little bit.” After a few minutes, I said goodnight and carried on my way.

Later that evening, I felt relieved, lighter, and actually joyful. I had been feeling so much instability about our reencuentro and now that it had already occurred, I was left feeling proud of the way that I really took care of myself. I honored my own boundaries, I was brave in acknowledging his presence, I asked for the support I needed, I was kind in our interaction while maintaining a firm distance. I enjoyed riding a sweet wave of empowerment and ease.

Photo by @katya.foto

In the morning, upon arriving at the jam, we found each other outside. He was holding something that looked like a little bundle of trash made by a kindergartner. He told me that it was a gift for me. I took in the sight of what he was offering me. A used paper ice cream cup, stuffed with wads of toilet paper, and a postcard resting on top, all tied together with wilted lavender stalks. I laughed. “Am I supposed to be honored or offended?” It seemed ridiculous to receive his gift but curiosity washed over me, as well as the acknowledgement that he was most likely offering with good intentions. Although in the past, he had offered me manipulative gifts without taking accountability for the emotional impact that they carry, I decided to unwrap this toilet paper bundle.

At first, I just kept laughing at the absurdity but when I read the postcard’s simple two sentence message I felt the tears stream down my cheeks. I unwrapped the toilet paper to find a handful of blackberries. It was a sweet and odd gesture, very much in alignment with his character. I carried on throughout my day and then very suddenly, I felt a big wave of emotions snake through me. I knew I was going to cry. All of the ways that I had felt empowered, confident, and in my center last night were being washed away and I felt an overwhelming need to connect to the sadness present within me. I felt that it would be too vulnerable for me to place myself alone in a corner to cry, in a space full of one hundred bustling humans, so I quickly began to scan the space for someone who I could ask to sit with me. They were beginning to serve lunch and I felt my tears edging at the surface. I was hoping to find someone who hadn’t yet served themselves food, or someone who I had already connected with. I crossed paths with an attractive man I had met many years ago and I gave him a little squeeze on the arm, to signal, I am here, are you? He smiled and kept walking past me. I was searching for my friend from last night but she was nowhere to be found. I found a sweet woman, who I perceived as safe, emerging from the lunch line with a plate full of food. I went straight up to her and through tears said, “hey, I am feeling some emotions arise, are you open to sitting with me.”

So we went to a nearby couch and breathed together while tears streamed down my face. It felt supportive simply to have the presence of a human with me and I felt that her willingness to breathe with me was already enough. She invited me to share words if I felt called but insisted that it wasn’t necessary. After a few deep breaths, I filled her in briefly on my story and within a matter of minutes I felt so much lighter and even ready to serve myself lunch. I was really proud of the way that I noticed emotion coming up like a wave, I found a safe way to express it and let it go, I sought the support I needed, I used my intuition to find a safe person to hold me, and in perfect timing, I was smiling again, ready to ride the next wave.

We had our final jam of the weekend and as we were all circling up for closing circle I stepped outside to refill my water bottle. To my genuine surprise, my past partner was sitting right there on the steps outside putting his shoes on. I went and sat down next to him.

We held a deep eye gaze for many breaths and I noticed wetness pooling in my eyes.

He asked me if I needed anything.

I kept tearing.

He said thank you for everything.

I laughed.

How could I put in to words that right in front of me was someone who had hurt me so deeply, who reflected back to me my own shadows, insecurities, and parts of myself that I was most ashamed to see, who had shared such joyful adventures with me, who had co created orgasmic cosmic pleasure with me, who had held my hand and wiped my tears away, who had made me feel so angry, betrayed, disappointed, who had helped me to grow, who had matched my wounds and constantly triggered me, who often led me to deep belly laughters. I had in front of me a mirror, as clear as the blue alpine lakes that shimmered in his eyes, and I saw reflected back to me the full spectrum of the human experience that we shared together, the grief, the joy, the pain, the silliness, the broken trust, the miscommunications, the creative expression, the stories, the adventures, the visions and dreams we had shared and abandoned. The making love of the celebration of what was lived and the grief of what was lost. The anger of all of the ways that I continuously tricked myself into thinking that my past partner could be something that he was not, the disappointment, the acceptance, the gratitude.

I had no words then, so I asked him, “shall we hug?”

He responded yes and I moved his legs to the opposite side and scooched up next to his pelvis. I was leaning in for the most comfortable version of a human to human, heart to heart hug that he had shown me years prior. In fact we had taught several contact classes together in which we guided others to explore this small dance of surrendering to being held and holding space for the other. There was the potential to sink infinitely into that embrace but for me, I felt resistant to abandon my center. I felt awkward and guarded. Where could I position my face as not to brush his skin? What aroma was emanating from his neck? We took two deep breaths together and then pulled away.

“Thank you for teaching me that hug. It is the best human hug and most humans don’t know about it.” I said to him.

He smiled and nodded as if to say, “my pleasure” and then I continued on my journey to get water and he slipped his backpack on his shoulders and walked away.

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