Why Debauchery Hurts So Good

Debauchery: Living a Life Untamed
Candice Schutter - theMessenger, November 2009

True debauchery is liberating because it creates no obligations. In it you possess only yourself; hence it remains the favorite pastime of the great lovers of their own person. 
- Albert Camus

I have recently ventured on an experiment of sorts. I am exploring the many delightful gifts of debauchery...a life untamed. The controversial implications of the word debauchery make it the perfect choice. Its actual meaning: extreme indulgence in sensuality and/or seduction from virtue or duty. Despite its cultural baggage, debauchery is quite simply: freedom unleashed. It is a choice that is unconcerned with the opinion of others. It is the medicine that every generation brings to the one that proceeds it as it challenges all that is considered true in order to evolve humanity forth. Its powerful nature may reveal darkness; yet, it is a volcanic force of change. When you embrace the gifts of debauchery, it holds the potential to launch all aspects of who you are becoming into orbit. It can be a bold and chaotic revolution of self. I am wild with delight in my own personal brand of debauchery.
You might be thinking, "whoa there, girl! why the need for such rebellion?"

Surrendering The New Religion 
For nearly a decade, I have focused almost singularly on self-awareness and personal growth. I have studied, and I have practiced. As a dutiful student of spiritual inquiry and metaphysics, I did my best to clear the clutter of my mind. I made sure that my intentions were defined and directed. I abstained from alcohol and other substances that might inhibit my ability to focus. I taught others how to become conscious of their words, thoughts, and actions. I even became extremist in my choices; sharing energy only with people who I felt contributed to my aim for such diligence. This continual emphasis on being deliberate certainly created some useful habits in me. Yet, over time, I became restless, caged, and - truth-be-told - even slightly judgmental.
In some ways, I had allowed "spirituality" to become my religion. I let it confine me to elitist thinking and/or artificial ways of being that felt misaligned with my own evolving inner guidance.
Like a tiger in a cage, I began pacing the parameters of my confines, seeking a way out. As a result, I sent out a signal for freedom from my monastic pursuits - freedom from principle, form and constructs. I found myself gravitating towards examples of raw truth and uncensored self-expression, hoping they held the key to my release.

Unleashing the Wild Woman
My desire for freedom summoned the perfect series opportunities.
Zumba arrived on the scene to liberate me on a physical level. Through wild girations of my form, I began to embrace my body in a way like never before. Latin dance has taught me that my curves are glorious mechanisms for femininity - round and supple counterparts to circular, raw, explosive movements. In embracing my body in this new way, I was introduced to an unexpected ally:  She is bold, wild, sexy, and physically passionate...a creature who thrives on freedom. She is a fiercely-alive, untamed version of me.
Her hunger was palpable after spending so much time latent. She began to comb her surroundings for outlets, and she found more than one. The past couple of months have sent me into uncharted territories on every level. My desires have become vehicles for my own liberation. I have been living uncensored, accepting opportunities that send me forth in unrefined celebration and pleasure.
For as long as I can remember, I have resisted the wild woman within. I tamed my unruly curls; now I let them pour forth. I covered my curves; now I flaunt them. I push against the parts of me that revealed uncensored shadow truths; now I am openly revealing the dark spaces. I am surrendering my attachment to discipline and am allowing the grace of the moment to guide me. It has been a wild and insightful ride. Yet, in shadows revealed there is a bright spark of self-realization. And let me tell you, if joy is an indicator (which I believe it to be), I am on the right track. My laughter is resonating more and more expansively every day.

Daring to Go Further 
In the spirit of said intention, I am liberating my voice with you as a witness. I will become a more free and willing vessel for my work. Up until now, my rawest musings have been sequestered to the pages of my journals. Visible posts have been edited and distilled wisdoms that reveal only the bright spots.
I now realize that the most powerful examples are authentic and pure transmissions of both shadow and shine. You simply can't have one without the other.
If you feel so inspired, I invite you to tune in and even chime in! Become a Fan on Facebook or subscribe to the SHiNE Blog RSS feed to view recent and future postings. Attend an upcoming class or retreat and I promise to more consciously create space for all shades of shadow and shine.
Thank you in advance for bearing witness as I allow my voice to expand. It is my hope that this act of courage will inspire a comparable unveiling of some latent potential in YOU.
Delight in the discoveries that your untamed desires can reveal. Remember, it is the coupling of your darkness and your light that shapes the whole of who you are.


Desire: Friend or Foe?

Desire: Friend or Foe?
Candice Schutter - theMessenger, September 2009

It is never the idol that you want,
but what you think it offers you.
- A Course in Miracles

Let's face it:  desire has gotten a bad rap for centuries. With roots in both eastern and western religious traditions, renunciation of desire has penetrated the collective psyche as a noble aim in an ever-expanding material world. We are taught - through an onslaught of psychological, sociological, and spiritual influences - that desire is selfish and fleeting...and that the ego (desire's vehicle) must be defeated in order to experience true happiness. Yet despite our best intentions, desire remains a human epidemic we have yet to overcome as a species. Some might wonder, if we are truly evolving, why are we still yearning?
Humans are a species mesmerized by dichotomies. We continually do the dance of extremes in order to propel ourselves forth. Desire is a force hard to deny; thus, when renunciation of the material world wages a war within, we turn to consumption. After feeding impulse after impulse, we find we are still left empty. We pretend our hunger means nothing...we pretend it means everything...and now we are ready to stop pretending.
Every human longing points to a potential within. Our minds are magicians, continually whipping up potions that we think promise us the end we are seeking. We spend time and resources casting spell after spell in hopes to manifest the IT that will deliver us the sensation we so long for. Time and time again, the end-result is short-lived. Thus, we blame desire itself for leading us astray.
Yet, what if we are simply missing the point? What if desire is not the problem. Perhaps it is our approach to it that needs to be re-evaluated. I have come to understand that each and every desire (without exception) point us in the direction of a universally-desired sensation. Thus, at the heart of our desire is alignment with a potential that is seeking to be born through our life experience.
What You Really Want is YOU
The object of your desire is not the problem; the fact that you want IT is not the source of your mood swings. It is in the misunderstanding of these impulses that you find cause to suffer. Put simply, desire is an indicator that something more is calling to you. Life's struggles aren't a result of the cycle of incessant wanting. Suffering may be due to attachments to the many forms that your physical creation has taken, or may take in the future. Or, perhaps more commonly in our western culture,
suffering is ignoring oneself and never fulfilling the potential buried beneath surface longing.
What you really want is to E X P A N D - to express more of your evolving essence. The objects of your desire are simply things that you believe will deliver the goods - the goodness that is your birthright. Desire is the eager whimper of a more evolved YOU that is currently hidden from view. To deny it is to deny your innate tendency for growth and expansion.
Paradoxically, it is the denial of our deepest desires that causes the ego run amok. Anyone who has ever stayed the course of a circumstance (or way of being) long-outgrown knows the blessed tantrums of the ego. Interestingly, when we finally let go and yield to what would feel better - in thought, word, or action - the tempest fades. Alas, could the ego be an ally on this journey?! Oh yes, indeed!! An ego-soul alliance is pulsing at the core of this message.

Metaphorically speaking, your soul is in a state of perpetual rebirth. (I mean, in this life, you are meant to evolve continually). Your ego and its wealth of experience offer vessels of gestation through which you are meant to grow in and out of. And, it is the contractions of desire that deliver you forth. They ensure your expansion by pushing you towards greater degrees of love, joy, freedom, and well-being.

Some spiritual teachers have told us to seek the medicine from within. They say that if we sit still long enough...if we dive deep enough...and if we resist the dream of the physical world around us, we will be rewarded with limitless joy. Yet, is the point of this physical dimension simply to deny it? Or, can we have both? - the boundless joy of expansion and the pleasures of human existence?
Every aspect of the living world is in a state of perpetual expansion. Growth and evolution of form is the way of the physical domain. At the root of this propulsion forth is - you guessed it - desire. The longing for something better. Desire is the catalyst for change. Change is a means for personal expansion. And personal expansion is the key ingredient in collective evolution. Accept and embrace your desires as reflections of latent potential within all of us.


Inspired Action

What Should I Do? Letting Inspired Action Take You
Candice Schutter - theMessenger, July 2009

Action may not always bring happiness,
but there is no happiness without action.
- Benjamin Disraeli


What should I do?
It's a common question. I come face-to-face with it often - in sessions with clients, and in my own personal life. At the heart of the question is disempowerment. It begs for a prescribed to-do list that will help to sooth the feeling of disconnection. However, acting from such a desperate space rarely feels good. Rather than approaching the situation with immediate action, I find it to be far more efficient to focus on clarifying desires. When we do this, we address the feeling space directly, and then let the to-do list emerge from the space of inspiration. Inspiration is alignment with the best of you.
For the most part, I tend to follow my bliss where it takes me - which means shedding old skin (ie. labels and livelihoods) often. I have been told I am being 'impulsive' and 'unreasonable' more than once. If following my impulsive whims makes me appear flighty and without rational direction, so be it! The compass that I follow is Happiness Itself...and it always points toward my greater good. I can honestly say that I get happier and happier as the years pass. There is nothing more fulfilling to me that riding the waves of inspiration. I do what I love; I love what I do. When that statement no longer applies - and I have learned this the hard way - it is time to make a change. When I resist that change, I suffer. And when I allow it, I feel a surge of inspiration and opportunity that defies description. In short, letting go of what no longer serves me makes me available to what does. Thus, in response to what should I do?, the primary and immediate action that is required is to stop doing that which I feel I am no longer a match with.

Having said that, living an inspired existence is not a lazy affair! On the contrary. It takes dynamism, energy, and stamina to ride the waves of inspiration as they come. Taking inspired action lends itself to a life of courageous self-discovery. And while it may mean taking a scary leap or two (or twenty-two!), the payoff is bigger than any other. When you are feeding life with what sends your heart soaring, it rewards you with life force energy and opportunity beyond measure!
How does it feel?
How do you know what constitutes an inspired action?  Use the compass within to direct your sails. You see, at its best, action is fueled by inspiration and passionate self-discovery. At its worst, action holds us in stagnant defiance of who we are longing to become. When you are reaching for something in your life, action is futile without right alignment. Actions that disallow your growth create dis-ease in your world. Simply put, they are inefficient, energetic leaks that need addressing. You recognize them for the strain and discomfort they bring about. On the contrary, ease can be found through inspiration. Sometimes it is found in pushing edges that propel you forward. The sensation is one of freedom and exhilaration (sometimes experienced as fear). Yet, the cliff-diving leaps of creation become easier over time as you learn that what moves you to jump has the power to send you soaring.

Look at your to-do list for the week. What do you see? Responsibilities? Inspired Ideas? For most people, responsibility takes the cake. Indeed, our daily comings and goings are important. Many of your daily tasks make you available to the peace of mind that invites inspiration. Yet responsibilities become liabilities when they keep us apart from ourselves. Action is inefficient when it holds in fearful stagnancy. The way of humanity (and all of life) is one of continual transformation. Inspired action means taking a risk...and moving towards what moves you in the moment.

Therefore, consider taking less action...and allow inspired actions to take you (further).


Feeling Stuck?

Feeling Stuck Knowing Which Way to Go
Candice Schutter - theMessenger, May 2009

The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us... the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton


As a coach, I am privy to the themes of human experience. While the stories of our lives take on different shapes and characters, certain sensations are common. Feeling stuck - either energetically or circumstantially - is a common sensation that we all face at one time or another.
Upon closer examination, "I feel stuck" is describing a sensation of powerlessness. To feel powerless is to lose connection to the voice of your soul and who you are longing to become. As a depth coach, my job is to poke around in the dark to help realign you with the light source beckoning to you from within - reflecting itself through your life experience.

Neale Donald Walsh cleverly describes the SOUL as a Singular Output of Universal Life. So let's imagine your soul is a light source through which a larger intelligence speaks to you. Your soul light shines on the fluid landscape of your life in order to guide your way. Like a compass, it directs you to move this way and that in order to connect you with greater potentials. When you yield to the trajectory of your soul, you feel the bliss of life’s light shining upon you. You feel powerful as you move towards more. Yet, when you turn away from potential - often towards the directional light of what you think others might want of you - you feel lost and disconnected from joy. The light seems to elude you. Why? Your soul has shifted its energetic focus in the direction of your potential, and you are not following along. You are stuck being who you once were. Your discomfort is your soul calling out your name in the dark, inviting you to turn towards your future. Thus, the feeling of being lost (or stuck) is good news! It lets you know that you have developed into the new you, and that now is a time to shift your vantage point and direction.
Living authentically is an internal gauge that can only be read from within. When you are in alignment with your soul - your values, passions, purpose, who you are becoming - you know it by how good you feel. Authenticity is a continuous dance of keeping up with who you are being called to be.

When your soul light turns you in an unpopular direction; you must go in order to realign. Approval is fluid and co-creative - others reflect how much you are able to accept your right to become. They give your will something to push against in order to develop strength and confidence in who you are. Yet, this discomfort too shall pass. In the end, living authentically is never about rebellion - fighting against what others think of you only strengthens your fixation on them as your gauge. Nor is authentic living about isolation - to live in alignment with who you are does not require abandoning the desires of (and your commitment to) those you love. On the contrary, you are more present and true in every relationship when you are confident, secure, and walking in the world as who you really are. You no longer confuse the way you feel with outside causes; nor do you expect others to be as you are. You understand that YOU are the first cause of your greatest joys and sorrows, not those around you. Because your joy depends on you alone, the people in your life approach you eagerly. Your feeling good is up to you...they are off the hook! This leaves you both present for authentic connection.
As a final thought: when you are feeling powerless, it is important to note that your soul light only gets stronger and stronger in your search for it. It is there; always it is there calling out to you. In fact, without this light from behind, you would not even be able to see your shadow. Isn't that a grand design!


You Were Meant to Feel Good

Life Was Meant to Feel Good
Candice Schutter - theMessenger, March 2009

There is no excuse not to feel good
knowing what you know.

- Abraham-Hicks

You may have noticed that the February issue of theMessenger never made it out into cyberspace. I was on a personal retreat - a Abraham-Hicks Well-Being Adventure Cruise to the Mexican Riviera with a dear friend and nearly 600 like-minded souls. It was truly a pivotal and inspiring journey for me. I feel certain that I was forever changed by the inspired teachings I was exposed to, the individuals whom I met, and the hours spent steeping in hot tubs and transformative discussions.

Something was revived in me...something that I have known since my first dawn in this world...something that shapes everything that I choose as I walk through the world.
Life was meant to feel good.

I so enjoyed being on the receiving end of a message that clarifies with such simplicity the essence of that which I share in every SHiNE offering. My commitment to our inherent right to feel good is the source behind each and every SHiNE creation. When we are in alignment with who it is we are becoming, we radiate contagious enthusiasm and creative inspiration. When we allow the natural expression of our truth and magnificence to shine, we feel fabulous and connected to all of life. However, when we dilute the fullness of our gifts or disallow our most honest self from evolving forth, we suffer from disharmony or dis-ease. My life has been - and continues to be - a navigation of this most basic principle of life. The path of my bliss dares me to step into alignment with more of my potential with each passing moment.

So what are common stumbling blocks for so many of us? Why don't we feel good more of the time?

Learning to Trust Yourself
In some cases, we navigate our course based on the opinions of those around us. We turn our attention away from our internal guidance and we fixate on how we are being received by our environment. Dis-empowerment is self-inflicted as we stray from our path in order to become what we perceive is expected of us or become stuck in being who we once were. This tendency often shows up subtly through our self-talk; we use words and phrases like: should and have to. The honesty of what is real for us is denied for the sake of what we think is right, rather that what we know is right for us in the moment.

Finding the joy that is in our very nature hinges on our ability to differentiate our desires from the desires of those around us. What turns you on is personal and unique to you. Let us all be reminded that the need to please others - and/or to fit into a way of being that is contrary to the essence of who we are - leads to suffering. It is a Loving Universe that guides us in this way. Through energetic imbalances - negative emotion and/or physical dis-ease - we are being guided to return to ourselves once more. It is nature's way of saying: Deny who it is you have become and I will remind you to make a shift. Realign with what brings you great joy and you will feel relief. It is always reminding us...in order to feel good, you must be true to the essence of who you really are - and who you are continually becoming. I can't think of a message more loving than that.

Relief As An Indicator
It is in the moments of disconnection from Who We Really Are that we feel fear and discouragement. It is only when we miss the point of such moments that we get stuck in the rut of despair. These 'low moments' are simply letting us know that we are not aligned with our deepest desires. Our inner guidance is providing us with feedback - in this case, negative emotion - that let's us know we are out of alignment with direction in which we are evolving. The more we feed this self-created reality of disempowerment (with self-defeating criticism or habituated actions) the worse we feel.

However, if we turn away from the discomfort and consciously seek a feel-good experience, we immediately feel relief. And relief is feedback that lets us know we are moving closer to Who We Really Are. Relief can come from shifting your attention from a topic that "brings you down" to a topic that is neutral and/or of a higher frequency for you. At other times, it is a matter of re-framing your experience so that you see the gift - the opportunity to develop into more of who you have become - through each and every choice you make.

As we move into spring, set the intention to make FEELING GOOD your practice. When you come face-to-face with a perceived source of discomfort, either shift your attention or shift your perspective. Allow yourself the freedom to choose how you want to feel in relationship to the world around you. Whatever you do, find a way to feel good. And yes...you can. You came into the world knowing how to do this. You are hard-wired to follow your emotions (internal vibrations) as indicators...you get better and better at it with time and practice. Life is supposed to be a process of continual improvement as you become a master of choosing more consciously over time.

Since returning from my travels, I have re-committed to this practice. And I have been exuding more enthusiasm and positivity than ever! So much so, in fact, that I was recently accused of seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. To this I responded, "Thank you! And if you'd like, I'd be happy to fashion you a pair!"

Your Comments and Shares Are Appreciated.


Forging Alliance with Your Body

Photo from The Full Body Project
Forge an Alliance with The Skin You’re In
Candice Schutter - theMessenger, January 2009

*[Wo]man is the sole animal whose nudity offends her own companions, and the only one who, in her natural actions, withdraws and hides herself from her own kind.
- Montaigne

Tis' the season of new year's resolutions. Did you expect to see a different kind of picture? Take a minute to really look at the photo above. What comes to mind as you view these full-figured women in all their glory?
When I was in college studying for my BA in Psychology and Human Development, one class that rocked my world was entitled: Prejudice and Stigma. My dynamic professor,
Chris Crandall, is still at it. He has been studying prejudice for decades. Specifically, he is an expert on the topic of weight-related prejudice. I vividly remember the day when he revealed to us what I considered staggering statistical findings. He and his colleagues found that:  The parents of obese children were significantly less likely to pay to send them to college. The familial weight-dependent prejudice displayed towards female children was much higher than that of boys. And that perhaps the most painful aspect of the stigma of "fat" in all age groups - what set this stigma apart from other demographics - was that even people of the same size and shape were reportedly prejudiced toward one another. In essence, antipathy towards fat people is pervasive and culturally reinforced, even within the family and social circles.

The picture gallery referenced above intrigues me for the way in which it challenges me to think. Did you notice any culturally inherited prejudices in your perception of these ladies? These are women who dance in naked defiance of the cultural spell many of us are under. First, they bask in the glow of self-acceptance without sucking it in or reliance on airbrushing. That is inspiration enough. Yet they take it a step further. They blatantly dare you to face your judgments, your assumptions, and your willingness to accept beauty in all its variations. They dare to flaunt their abundant curves, usually kept hidden. They reach to one another for the courage it takes to be seen...a collective band of body-blazing pioneers. They are heros in their own right.

Over fifteen years after Dr. Crandall's initial findings, I can honestly say that I don't know one woman - of any shape or size - who is immune from the terrifying stigma of "fat" on some level. Again and again, I am surprised to learn that even the most slender, dynamic, and powerful women are fighting against their bodies. It's the same story in variant forms...25-year old women "feeling fat" while wearing everything from size two to size twenty, 35-45 year old women confused that they are no longer shaped like a teen model, and women 50+ years young who quite literally ban themselves from the pleasure of a bathing suit for life due to the pain of body-loathing. It's our best kept secret - this emotional sickness among women. We only allude to the symptoms of it, as our helplessness keeps us from diving too deep.

On my own journey, I have certainly braved the seas of change from adolesence into womanhood. Even my youth and interest in movement didn't keep me immune. I look back on photos of me athletic, thin, and in my “physical prime.” I feel a mixture of awe and utter sadness that I feared and "felt fat" even then! Now as I step into another transformative season of life, I peel back the layers on more negative beliefs and self-judgments as my body is changing. When will I truly feel total body acceptance?

If, like me, you have an intention for greater health and self-care in 2009, I fully support your mission. Yet I have discovered time and time again that intentions driven by the desperation of body-loathing are not a healthy prescription for change. True motivation comes from a heartfelt desire for a more fulfilling life, not a smaller dress size. And fitness is about so much more than a number on a scale.

In 2008, I took a break from dancing and most forms of fitness. This time-out was prompted by my body's cries for a hiatus from over seven years of pretty much continual dynamic movement. During that time the prescription for my wellness was stillness. Over the course of my time off, I gained nearly 20 lbs along with the weight of some new leisurely habits. Nevertheless, I was inventing new ways to be healthy and whole. And, I was invited to love my body anew - an ever-developing woman existing amidst a more curvaceous landscape.

I recently started dancing again...as the integration completed its cycle, my spirit began to stir once again. I thought it would surely take a few months to feel the power of fitness and movement as I once had. What I discovered after only 1 week of movement was glorious! No, not that I had lost a bunch of weight or that I had rock-hard abs. I discovered that I immediately felt alive again...that sweat is an elixir of bliss when delivering the spirit within...and that to move is to breathe life forward. All of these are indicators of true fitness. To express my spirit through the flesh, at any age and cycle of life, that is wellness realized.

Lightness can be felt at any size. Beauty can be activated in a deep cleansing breath or in a simple movement of the hips. And fitness is an aliveness that can only be measured from within.

Ladies, I know I am not alone in my journey to change the way I think about my body and fitness. Yet, instead of turning to one another for support, we turn to our mirrors in shame. We turn to fad diets...we turn to deprivation and isolation...we turn to creams to hide our cellulite...and unfortunately, we turn on one another through subtle energetics that feed our pain and disconnection.

As with all mentalities we outgrow as a species, this cultural madness must be brought to light and shed. In 2009, like the women pictured above, let's create an alliance to accept one another in the ways in which we would like to be accepted. I propose that we band together to step out of the darkness and into the light and brilliance that comes from navigating our fears. Let's stop turning our back on one another and let's find fitness, pleasure, and self-acceptance somewhere other than in our reflections and dress sizes.

If you feel so inspired, I invite you to join me in the following New Year's Resolution:

• I will do my best to accept and find beauty in my body, as it is - giving myself at least one physical complement per day.

• I will send a message of body-based appreciation and admiration to at least one woman per day (via a heartfelt complement, through thought or word).

• I will readjust my thinking in order to incorporate a new definition of fitness - one where feeling radiant and powerful is more important than feeling thin. I will seek opportunities to express my radiance through my body in 2009!

Your Comments and Shares Are Appreciated.