Process of Illumination

2016: Happily Ever After, featuring “The Self-Love Owner’s ManualTM” or “The Definitive Guide to the “Caring & Feeding” of Tracy B Richards”


As this is my last post of 2015, a lot has been coming up for me in terms of what to write about. For those of you who know me, or who are regular readers, you know that I’ve been feeling my way through a whole bunch of things lately. It feels as if the past two months have been a real challenge, in that regard, even though everything is REALLY GOOD.

It’s an odd experience, actually.

It’s almost as if the very fact that everything is going so well… and that I’m getting quite skilled in letting myself “feel my way through” things, rather than going up into my head about them… is causing me to have more discomfort in the “good” times than I’ve ever experienced before.

However, it does make perfect sense.

Based on what I’ve learned from my experience with Brené Brown’s work and, more recently, from The Untethered Soul, staying in An Open Heart/Vulnerability is, by its very definition, uncomfortable. Vulnerability means that we are open to letting every experience pass through our heart centre and being present to and aware of what that feels like. It means we stay open, no matter what. It means that we never, ever allow our heart to close off, no matter what the circumstance or how painful it is.

Because we are choosing to stop using “numbing” behaviours to protect ourselves from feeling the “disturbances” of every day life, we feel it all.

And here’s the most surprising thing of all:

The “good” stuff feels uncomfortable too!


Because the good stuff also makes us feel vulnerable. We’re afraid of wanting it… we’re afraid of losing it… we’re afraid of not being worthy of it… we’re afraid it’s not real… we’re afraid we can’t trust it…. blah, blah, BLAH… we’re just plain AFRAID!

It’s not easy to stay committed to having an open heart, at first but, once you start, it kinda takes over. I’ve noticed that, lately, before I can even hear my gremlins and the various “voices in my head”, I’m overcome by the “felt sense” in my body. It’s the first thing I’m aware of… a tingling in my heart… a clutching feeling… spaciness or dizziness… anger or rage… an impulse/need for (or aversion to) things such as sex, touch, laughter, food, drink, etc….. whatever it is… I feel it very strongly now, to a point where I cannot ignore it. I take that as a cue to find time to sink down into it, let it move through me and experience it… and whatever emotion comes with it.

Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

Other times, however, the nature of the issue also requires that I “act” on it in some way.   I want to be clear that the “action” does not replace the practice of sinking down into the feeling and letting it pass through us. We must never skip that step. What I’m saying is that, in some cases, in order to practice Self-Love and develop new and healthier skills in life, what’s necessary is selecting a form of expression which helps us to reflect on, address and even celebrate the truth of what we’re feeling. This could be through dialoguing with another person, journaling, art, meditation, etc… Anything that helps bring clarity and insight to the issue. Anything that makes us feel more aligned with our truth.

And, when we feel more aligned, we are more aligned.

We are in the flow.

Got that?

Okay :)

Now, back to what today’s post is really about…

Part One: 2015

A week or so ago, I received a lovely note from a friend/colleague who signed off saying this:

“Know I love you! Have a wonderful holiday season and really soak in all that you have accomplished this year! Super Star!!!”

When I read that, I felt a wash of emotion come over me. First, because I was so grateful for this friend and for her lovely message, and second, because there were two truths in it that I had completely overlooked. When the magnitude of it hit me, it was almost overwhelming…

“Soak in all that you have accomplished this year.”

And then…

“Super Star!!!”

[I’m having a moment now, just reading this and sitting with how fucking huge it is.]

What’s even more overwhelming is that it’s about to get EVEN HUGER!

(More about that, later, in Part Two)

As much as I’d love to, I won’t go into all the things I’ve accomplished this year. There’s no need. I know what they are. You probably know what they are. They speak for themselves. However, I will say this:

My intention phrase for 2015 was “Lift Off” and boy, was it right on! It took me until the final moments of 2014 to choose it but, when it came to me (with a little help from my friends at our New Year’s Eve Intention Celebration), it was like a thunderbolt!

At the time, I had no idea what the phrase “Lift Off’ would actually mean for me but, looking back, it’s turned out to be everything one might associate with that phrase… It has felt exciting, shaky, exhilarating, scary, fast paced and overwhelming. It has forced me to be (even more) courageous and taught to become more comfortable with the unknown. It has shown me more of who I am, what I’m made of and what I want. I’ve had to learn and navigate with an entirely new set of skills while on a journey that took me to the farthest reaches of my comfort zone and, in turn, showed me I could go places, do things and have things which I never thought were possible.

This was an uncharted course I was on and, AMAZINGLY, I made it through, unscathed.

What’s even more incredible is that I did it purely on the faith I had in myself.

And, as far as I’ve come and as happy as I am, 2016 definitely feels like it will be another huge turning point for me. If I’ve learned anything about the past couple of months, it’s this:

I’m letting go and moving on.

I’m graduating.

I’m in the process of writing the next chapter.

As I think about what’s ahead, I’m reminded of a phrase which was spoken by one of my favorite young women on the planet. At Thanksgiving dinner this year, when asked to share what she was thankful for, this smart, radiant and self-aware 17 year old (who is off to college in the fall) sweetly thanked her family for all the love, blessings and support they had given her throughout her life. Then, quite off-the-cuff, she added:

“It’s been a good run”.

As she said this, the table erupted with incredulous laughter and jeers but, behind the jokes and the smiles, I think we all felt a little sad. I didn’t really connect it at the time but, perhaps it reminded us that, no matter how good life can be and how grateful we are, all things must change.  I greatly admire that my young friend is able to embrace both of those truths in the same breath.

As for me, in paying homage to the year that’s passed, I’d like to say:

Thanks, 2015! In fact, thanks to the past 54 for years of this life!

“It’s been a really, really good run.”

Part Two: 2016, and beyond…

Happily Ever After, featuring “The Self-Love Owner’s ManualTM” or “The Definitive Guide to the “Caring & Feeding” of Tracy B Richards”

Last week, I went to a party that kinda changed my life.

I won’t say where.

I won’t say why.

I’ll just say that, while there, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

In fact, I was so uncomfortable that I had to leave.

It didn’t take much for me to become aware of what the trigger was so I went home and I sat with it. I witnessed the feelings and let the accompanying emotions pass through me.

That night, it was like my entire life was flashing before my eyes. I recognized that the feelings I was having were a culmination of feelings that had built up over a lifetime.

A lifetime of unmet needs.

A lifetime of unworthiness.

A lifetime of scarcity.

A lifetime of numbing.

A lifetime of feeling responsible.

A lifetime of over identifying with the “story” of my life.

A lifetime of comparison.

A lifetime of searching for belonging (and never finding it).

A lifetime of fear.

I lifetime of holding back.

A lifetime of pretending that everything was okay, when it wasn’t.


Eventually, I fell asleep.

The next morning, I woke up, practically jumping out of my skin.

It was the kind of feeling that sort of paralyzes you because you can’t ignore it. I knew I would not be able to even get out of bed unless I “purged” it out of my system.

The last time I felt this way was in 2007, when I was living through the beginnings of what was to become an ugly divorce and feeling completely hopeless. I woke up in such a panic that I was not able to function at all. The only thing I could think to do was to write. In fact, the first thing I wrote was:

“If I don’t write, I’ll die”

After journaling that day, I went on to make one of the most courageous decisions of my life, regarding my divorce. The feelings and insights which spilled onto those pages helped me to clarify what I wanted and deserved and allowed me to put things into perspective in a way that I had been unable to before. I found the strength and conviction to make the choice that felt best for me and, even though it caused a lot of pain, it led me to the sense of freedom I so desperately needed.

That journal entry became one of the first blog posts that I ever shared.

It was called “In Crisis”.

This time, the feeling felt just as strong but I didn’t feel panicked, nor was I afraid of it. However, it did feel as if my whole body was full with it and I didn’t want to “close down” around it (and, therefore, “lock it in”), so I grabbed my pad of legal sized, yellow, lined paper and started to “write it out”.

The first thing I wrote was this:

“I don’t want to settle for scraps”

Followed by:

“I’m tired of expecting myself to be the strong one who can hold the space for everyone else and be together and mature and patient

I want attention

I want to be invested in

I want to be more than a “touchstone”

It’s not enough for me

I don’t want to be in a holding pattern, circling, looping

I don’t want promises that aren’t kept

I want to feel safe

I don’t want to have to work so hard for SCRAPS… just enough nourishment to keep me going

I want to feel SATIATED

I deserve that

I’m an INCREDIBLE woman

I really, truly AM

I want my door to be “broken down” with enthusiasm… for me… for who I am… for what I offer

I am a prize and must be invested in to do what is necessary to keep me “Happy Shiny”


I don’t want to have to read between the lines. It’s TOO MUCH WORK

I don’t want others to be AFRAID to take whatever I’m offering:




































I expect the same in return

I just have to decide what’s best for me

Holding back does NOT feel good

Not being prioritized, seen or heard does NOT feel good or “right”

I’m waiting to be discovered and seen and heard and KNOWN on a more intimate level than ever before

As the PRIZE

The one who gives so much of herself to so many in every possible way but still feels (in some ways) that’s she’s hustling for scraps

The one who doesn’t trust that she’s worthy enough to be sought, so she leaves a trail behind her so she’ll be easier to find

There’s no EFFORT in that





No more struggle

No more waiting

No more holding back

No more doubt or fear”

When I read that back to myself, one thing jumped out at me…

First, it was obvious that everything I was asking for were things which I also needed to give to myself… and to others. Secondly, the attributes I was/am able to own in myself are already being reflected back to me by those around me. The disconnect, I feel, simply has to do with which “signals” we are sending vs those we are receiving. So, I wrote more about that:

If you want to receive, you simply have to turn on your receiver but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to pick up the frequencies you want. In order to do that, you have to fine tune what it is you want to receive.

This takes focus.

Once you know what you want to receive, you have to be tuned in and in range of a STRONG enough desired signal in order for it to come through, which is why you also have to be SENDING a strong, focused signal so that the “other” can pick up on what you want, in order for you to receive it.

This is what the Self-Love Owner’s Manual is designed for: To match your signal with the signal of that which you are wanting and vice versa.

If we don’t do this, we get mixed signals… static… SCRAPS of what we want and not the full, clear, consistent frequency of FULFILLMENT.

We block out the signal with thoughts, doubts, beliefs, etc… so it takes forever for us to connect with that which we are wanting, if we end up connecting at all.

It’s like a PING, actually.

Here’s the definition:

Ping is a basic Internet program that allows a user to verify that a particular IP address exists and can accept requests. Ping is used diagnostically to ensure that a host computer the user is trying to reach is actually operating. As a verb, ping means “to get the attention of” or “to check for the presence of” another party online.

It’s the same with our “intention signals”. We are constantly “sending out requests” to the universe, or God or another person and the universe/God/other people are constantly responding to those requests. However, if those requests are not clear (as in clear intentions of what we want vs limiting beliefs around what we feel we deserve or what is possible), the “pingbacks” won’t match. The signals will cross. There will be nothing but static.

Which brings me to MY Motherlode/Prize/Lottery A-HA moment for 2016:

No more hustling.

No more settling for scraps.

No more pretending that scraps are okay.

No more holding back.

No more excuses.

No more scarcity, limitations or thinking I have to choose between this good thing or that.

No more “too much” or “not enough”.


And if I want it, I have to VIBRATE  the SHIT out of it!!!





Most of all, I have to remember that I AM it.




And that is what the Self-Love Owner’s manual is all about.

This isn’t just for me. It’s for EVERYBODY.

Here’s how I got started…

Today, I began to make a list of everything I know about myself:

Who I am.

What I value.

What I believe.

What my vulnerabilities are.

What my Love Language is.

What I like and don’t like.

What I want and don’t want.

What works and doesn’t work (from my experience… with me).


And really, if I really do want to “have it all”, then it all comes down to connection and safety with the people I love. We all want to be “known” or “seen” by another person… our family, our friends, our partner… but before that can happen, we have know and see ourselves, first.

Warts n’ all.

I can’t think of a better way to do that than writing our own, personal Self-Love Owner’s Manual. My friends and I will be using this as our theme for our New Year’s Eve party this year.

Perhaps you’ll be inspired, too…


In writing this loooooong post (it took me over six hours, not including the journaling), I hope you realize that this is the most meaningful gift I have to give to you, this holiday. In fact, all my posts are. Week after week, I share with you the most valuable insights I have learned and, for me, there is nothing more precious than that.

Let it land, folks… cuz it’s my BIG LOVE, comin’ atcha :)


And now, the BIG REVEAL…

TBR’s intention statement for 2016 and beyond (and it’s a biggie!)…



YUP, that’s right.

I’m not screwing around.

The very thing that people in our society are programmed NOT to believe in anymore… THAT’s what I want.

All blessings to you in 2016, my friends.

Think BIG.

Artwork: “All Of The Cake”, Mixed Media on Canvas by Tracy B Richards, 2015