I’m not quite sure how to put this, but I feel completely broken today. Do you ever have those days? They’re not very fun. I just feel like I keep screwing up and making a fool of myself. No matter what I do to try and remedy things, it seems like the whole world can see through my defenses, right into the very center of my tender heart. I feel like I keep making mistakes all over the place and acting awful. I feel awkward, out of sorts, self-critical, and hard around the edges. Oh well—it happens sometimes.

I remember when I was learning how to ride a bike without training wheels. After pedaling around a little cul-de-sac with my Dad, he took me to this big hill. For the first few seconds all was well... until I lost control. Although I knew how to use the brakes, my feet wouldn’t do what they were supposed to and I ended up flat on my face in someone’s gravel driveway. I’ve felt a bit like that the last few days. Even though I know what I “should” do, for some reason I can’t seem to do it. Instead, I keep saying the wrong things and acting in ways that I really don’t like. It’s at times like these that my spiritual foundation is really tested because I have two choices: Loathe myself or love myself.

Honestly, once in awhile I wish I had never encountered spiritual teachings. Okay, that’s a huge exaggeration—and quite possibly one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever said—but sometimes the gap between who I want to be and who I am seems so immense. I wonder: Why can’t I just be selfless, surrendered, unshakeable, loving, and full of perfect equanimity? Why can’t I just white out all of my imperfections or wave a magic wand and turn my insecurities into happy flowers? There only seems to be one answer to that question: Because I’m human.

Yes, human... That means I don’t always get it right (is there a “right”?), and sometimes I feel sad, pathetic, desperate, humiliated, and raw. It means my heart shuts down and my clothes get wrinkled. It means that sometimes I feel like the universe is out to get me when really my mind is just reading things upside down and wondering why they don’t make sense. As Rabindranath Tagore said, “We read the world wrong and say that it deceives us.”

So what can we do when all of our efforts seem to turn up empty? What can we do when our deeply ingrained patterns won’t shift, no matter how hard we try? Although some silent part of us knows that an alchemical process is at work, it’s not always easy to rest in that. Personally, I forget. I forget often. I forget that I have a link with love, that I am love. I forget that my imperfections are what make me beautiful and real.

When this happens, I have to remind myself: Girl, let go. Just let go and offer everything into the cosmic fire that is raging inside your heart. Sometimes that really is the only choice. We have to offer it all: the pain, fear, loss, sadness, anger, hardness, non-forgiveness. Here, universe, you take it!

I find it always comes back to the same thing: acceptance, acceptance, acceptance. Simple acceptance of what and who I am right here, right now. I may never be “better”—at least this body-mind-cluster-of-conditioning. I may never be “done” trudging through the muck of it all. So what to do but bless the mess, witness the play without judgment, and love myself to smithereens?

It’s raining. I’m making pumpkin pie without the crust (I guess that makes it pudding). The clouds are thick and my heart is longing... for itself.

More and more I’m starting to see that, when I really come home to ‘what is’ and settle into the moment, an ease and lightness arises. Everything feels manageable—or rather, the unmanageability of life feels okay; I don’t need to fix it. Life simply is, messy and tousled like my hair in the morning.

Exhale, baby. Exhale.