021:Exposing the Cracks that the Light May Come In with Sarah Mastriani-Levi
021:Exposing the Cracks that the Light May Come In with Sarah Mastriani-Levi
"My deep emotional struggle has been a secret, hidden behind the façade of dependability. I’ve been busy making sadness wrong and I was not sure how to talk about it." Exposing the Cracks that the Light May Come In Hey guys this Sarah Mastriani-Levi and I wanted to take a few minutes to speak to you from my heart about what's been happening with me, about what's been going on with my podcast and what’s been occurring in my business over the past few months. I usually don't share a lot of personal stuff on this platform. Although, most of you know that I will share personal anecdotes from time to time to support your processes. But this time, I wanted to let you know a little bit about the authentic and human side of what's been going on lately. I hope it will encourage you and give you support that you're not alone in what you're going through. These past few months have been tough for me emotionally, psychologically, physically and spiritually. I have felt like I’ve gone through some challenges that have happened, if for no other reason, then to slow down my pace. For all of you, who personally know me, being an extremely driven, overachiever has been a trademark of my personality for the majority of my life. But something has happened… maybe lots of some things…that have begun to shift my perspective. In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew did some massive damage to my community, and much of the Southern East Coast. We caught the brunt of the storm. We were evacuated from our homes and forced into a “Hurri-cation mode”. Much of my business is online, so fortunately I could operate it from “the cloud” and the hotel where we were staying. However, while we were away there was a massive energy shift that happened in this area. For me, trees are like souls, and coming back to the storm damaged area was shocking, to say the least. Now nearly five months later, we are still seeing FEMA collecting fallout debris from the storm. As you may imagine, hundreds of thousands of trees were erased from the natural landscape. It felt like a spiritual emptying out, almost as if there were volunteer souls that bowed out, in order to allow space and light, for new energy, to come into the area. All in all, that would be a really positive thing, but simultaneously there seems to be a grieving process, both of the people and of the land for the changes that have happened and continue to evolve here. There's a heavy energy, and what feels like opposition to a lot of the new energy that is flowing in. Being an empath, I'm very sensitive to this. Honestly, it has caused me to lose my rhythm a little. It has toyed with my productive abilities for my business, and otherwise. All of this has challenged me spiritually and emotionally throughout these past several months. It has caused me to question my relationships and whether I am in the right location or not. The election season has been overwhelming, surprising and divisive. So much of what I never believed could happen, has…everyday seems like a new surprise, a new twist, a new turn. I feel constant fear and unease in the current political environment. I feel like I’m walking on egg-shells not to accidentally mention my opinion in the “wrong company.” Much of what’s around me believes differently, and I can’t for the life of me wrap my mind around it or support it. I keep asking myself, “is there a chance I could be wrong?” but cannot seem to understand how I could ever think or feel the opposite of what I do. I can’t understand what others are supporting. Strangely, nearly every project that I had started before October has not come to fruition. That is totally unlike me because I love efficiently finishing projects, more than just about anything else. In addition to all of that, every single project that I tried to launch over the past few months has sent me mixed messages with constant snafus and delays. Nearly every lecture that I was invited to speak at, has had a great reaction online, only to be followed by people who don't show up. That was after the fact that they told me personally that the message and topic I was sharing were excellent and important. My podcast, which has brought me so much joy, suddenly went through a shift too. The recording software stopped working for all PCs. I shifted to another recording software to record four important and powerful conversations with Jay Wong, Selena Delesie, Kelly Harrell and Toku McCree, only to discover on each one that my voice was barely audible (in spite of successful test runs). This really shook me up, not just on the technical level of why did this only work great in the test run, but also it was a huge embarrassment considering I had been waiting for months to talk with each of these people. It sent me spiraling…trying to find technical solutions. I also sunk deep into an energetic rabbit hole of questions regarding the value of my voice and why the universe was stopping it from being shared, on what seemed like every front. Was my antenna aimed at the wrong audience? Was I sharing a message that wasn't welcome? Was what I have to share not of value? During the following 2 months, I worked to create a program to launch during the last two weeks of December, along with a mastermind course. I designed it so people could read more and sign up on line, on my website. During the third week of December my website “white screened,” so not only no launch…no one had access to my website for 10 days, as I gathered all of the parts. Essentially, I was invisible. I scheduled lectures to do an in-person of these programs. Again, tons of interest…and no one showed up. I have lost my mojo and my desire to explain myself to people, locally. Especially those who are not willing to pay $30 for a workshop that could create a healthy lifestyle change and heal what they are suffering from…but alas… that doesn’t come in a bottle or pill. I feel like I’m always swimming upstream and I’m tired. Tons of questioning and self-doubt ensued, as I pushed forward in my creative process. Perhaps I just needed to wait for the stars to fall into alignment for my message to be clear? What did I need to change? How could I possibly feel so connected on some levels and so utterly unheard? It even brought into question the worthiness of the work that I am doing. Although I know that this is a common phenomenon creators go through in the creative process (a.k.a. “the thrash”). I still was full of questions. I felt stuck in the rubble and not sure how to begin to rebuild. I have gone through a very difficult and depressed couple of months. My deep emotional struggle has been a secret, hidden behind the façade of dependability. I’ve been busy making sadness wrong and I was not sure how to talk about it. I am so thankful for the joy my kids and my work bring me in the moments between my relentless questioning. I have felt alone on my journey. I have been in the sad state grieving, within my soul, that may not be so different than the trees that were broken and uprooted. I have felt extremely challenged as a single-mother. My kids see their father 1-2 times a year for 10 days. He lives abroad. I do my best to be the support system of two parents, but it’s just me. I attempt to hold it all together and be what my kids need: physically, mentally and spiritually. They are my number one priority. I feel so happy when they are happy…but lately they have been sad too. Lonely and feeling unconnected to their peers on different levels. I try to hold space for their processes. I feel guilty for feeling jealous of happy families that have two active and loving parents. There is a strangeness in the foreign realization that there are actually couples that enjoy spending time with their partners and families. I feel ashamed to admit that every picture I see of others participating Father/daughter dances tears my heart in two, and brings tears to my eyes. There is no one to play with them on the weekends like their peers’ fathers do. There is no one else around to sign permission slips or to stay home with them should they need to. There is no one else to spilt the driving with when all four kids have activities in four different locations, all at the same time. Who do stay to cheer on…how do you divide yourself? This parenting thing is a one woman show…My commitment and intensity haven’t really left space for anyone else to join me on this journey. Not that I wouldn’t want it. However, no one seems to be able to dependably show up or keep up, as I would need for them to, to be a part of our lives. This too has been a generator of sadness and solitude. I can’t just will myself out of the situation. This past weekend I had a strange wake-up call. I was tired. It was 22:00 and the kids were doing their thing, as I was starting to wind down for the night. I went upstairs to say goodnight only to find a big mess, primarily from one of my kids. It was not just in the bedroom, also in the shared family room. There was a box under the craft table that had a couple hundred crayons dumped on the floor. A clear message that it didn’t matter to whomever dropped it. I was annoyed they had fallen and not been collected…I decided I would bend down and pick them up and not escalate with my volume and discourse on the subject. What followed was the most asinine, unintentionally self-inflicted injury that I have encountered to date. Generally, I have awesome spatial perception and orientation, but this night was definitely different. I bent down quickly, focusing my gaze on the dumped crayons and swiftly caught my forehead on the blunt of a straight back wooden chair. I heard my skull crack from the intensity. I found myself on the floor with the kids all around me, scared and wanting to be helpful. At first I saw stars, and then realized that I couldn’t see out of my right eye. I was worried and in pain. I questioned how this happened and what it symbolized… What am I not seeing that’s right in front of me? Where am I banging my energy because I am trying too hard or too fast? And yes, I realize that I’m addicted to understanding why? but the message was there: Slow down. Rest. Zoom out. Go into the quiet. Soften up the process. Stop pushing so damn hard. Drop the harshness of the drive. It’s not helping you to move forward. Listen to the Universe’s rhythm, rather than trying overpower it. Take care of yourself. There is no one else who will take care of them. Parenting has been and always will be my top priority. Second to that is serving others and creating impact through my work. I have been struggling to know how and when to share about what I’ve been processing for a couple of reasons. The first is that, as a coach, it is not a great feeling to be totally vulnerable and to talk about personal difficulties. The second is the realization that life is series of cyclical hero’s journeys that you may or may not choose to embark upon…and it’s grueling and emotionally difficult to describe the most difficult part of the process while you are in the midst of it. You can see a diagram of the stages of the hero’s journey in the show notes, if you are not familiar with Joseph Campbell’s work. Diagram of the hero’s journey It is so much easier to share when you are on the other side of an endeavor and you can be encouraging and remind others the arduous tasks of personal development are indeed, worthwhile. When you are at the bottom, lonely, and deep in inaccessible solitude, it is often difficult to see the end. If you’ve been through it or something like it before, then you probably know that there will be an end, but the inability to be more than a player and a witness to your process becomes overwhelming. There is no set timeline. I often think of the TED talk by Jill Bolte Taylor, wherein she describes going through a stroke, as a neurological and stroke researcher. She talks about recognizing all of the steps of what was going on…she understood it all, yet she still had a stroke and had to deal with the ramifications of it. Click here to listen to the TED talk with Jill Bolte Taylor I also know… that when you choose to play the game…this game of personal growth and development… you are the one in the arena, subject to anything and everything that may come up…everything you could or couldn’t predict. I am reminded of this excerpt of Theodore Roosevelt’s speech "Citizenship In A Republic" delivered in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910. It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. I am voluntarily in the arena…I choose to remain there. It’s not easy. I signed up for the advanced course. I’m here to make a difference…I’m here to create impact. I push forward…not knowing where it will take me. I recall the words of Zig Zigler, “Go as far as you can see; When you get there, you’ll see further.” From a spiritual perspective, I know that everything is as it should be. I know that timing is just a human illusion. Yet, from a very human perspective…I often struggle. I know that I do not have to give up on my dream to create impact, to generously give back, to have a voice that matters. I just have to relinquish the timeline that I have connected to the process. I know that I cannot truly accept the “call to adventure” if I have placed my own timeline on the journey. Albert Einstein’s words remind us that “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.” I have realized that everything I want to create and share couldn’t possibly come to fruition on the timeline that I created months, years…or even decades ago. Everything has shifted with divine timing that was and is beyond my control or comprehension at times. The strangeness of the past few months has also brought a different level of podcasts and expression due to my partially inaudible recordings. Over the next four episodes you will hear a different vibe than you may have become accustomed to. As my voice, either wasn’t recorded, or was recorded in limited capacity, I will be featuring excerpts from the greatness of conversations with Jay Wong, Selena Delesie, Kelly Harrell and Toku McCree. I have been waiting to bring them to refinement and release, until I was clear on how to explain what had happened. The goal of my podcast is multi-faceted and remains the same. As a coach, I want others to hear these amazing conversations that I get to experience. I believe that they are valuable, impactful and important. I honor every one of the guests that I have had on, and will have on in the future, for sharing their amazing stories and messages. I think the second and primary reason for the podcast’s creation was to give a platform for the voices that are often heard only in private conversations… to show that emotional intimacy is not only an achievable goal… it can happen in one conversation…in one moment…in one synchronized breath. I feel like I would be robbing others of the opportunity of learning something great, along with me, if I did not share these messages. I wanted to offer them my gratitude for the work they are putting out in the world, inspired by Thich Nhat Hahn’s quote of “How can I love you more?”. As well as the question of how can I help others to love what you are doing as much as I do? I questioned whether I needed to redefine my business and brand identity, knowing that on some level I wanted to redefine my hustle. I have had numerous conversations trying to gain clarity. Tons of things are in the works and I have had to call on my coaches and guides to help keep me moving forward. I’m clear that 2017 is the year I desire to become completely location independent. I do deep work with inspired and creative leaders who are invested in their own spiritual hero’s journey. I provide coaching, as well as create courses and services to support their spiritual and physical health and wellness. I have five courses in the works that are launching soon including: Food and the Heroes Journey-How to Fuel Greatness (thank you Jan Black for helping me refine the concept) The Hero’s Journey Backpack Crash Course-helping others to understand what they need to have in their spiritual backpack to embark on a true spiritual journey (Riley Temple, Brian Musial and Paul Nattoli, you guys talked me through this one) I have a mastermind in the works for people who are suffering from the loneliness and isolation that often comes from being spiritual and creative entrepreneurs (Liz Scully, your guidance is unmatched on this subject) I have a year-long program called Your year of Transformation that I've been slowly building. (Peter Rossetti, thank you for your patience and helping me to realize that everything in life is just a design problem that needs a spiritual solution) I have updated my Creating a Better You program to be in alignment with the kinds of people who are a good fit for me to work with. As many of you may or may not know, all good coaches have other coaches and advisors, because they know their value and are willing to pay for good coaching. So, I turned to MY support team of coaches and friends to really try and dig deep to figure out what I needed to shift within me to create my greatest message in the world. Amongst the others, on my support team I would like to show appreciation for: Soness Stevens, my TED speaker coach, for guiding me to connect with ease and grace as I prepare my speech. Karen Wright, you have been encouraging and helped me to remember that you can't take on as much as I have as a single parent without it being hard… That it is supposed to be hard. Marika Tomkins you have reminded me that I need to continue sharing the human side of my spiritual struggles and to allow it to come out authentically. Without you, I wouldn’t have considered sharing publicly what has been going on in my life. Deborah Williams, you have kept me returning to look at the spiritual brilliance of shifting and changing money mindsets. Anthony Mattis, you continue to remind me how to lose judgment where I didn't even realize it existed, to always consider that “it's an interesting point of view that I have that point of view” and not wrap any conclusions around that. Chris Suddeth, your Energy work has been pivotal in helping me, reminding me that it's OK to express my humor and wit, as well as my sweet side. Jacqueline Friel Smith, thanks for helping me to see myself as others see me and capturing that, even when it is difficult for me to see it. Laura Petersen, your reminder that “only good will come from this” has been reassuring. Also, bringing up the question of “what am I not willing to see, that if I was willing to see would change all realities?” has be extremely helpful. Diana Babauta, thank you for your support and believing in what I do. Thank you for helping me to keep my body in a strong and functional condition. Ifetayo White, your loving grandmother energy and powerful spiritual work continues to be an inspiration. Nick Snapp, your encouragement and...