the bad news and the good news

my heart is breaking... and i don't know how to repair it.

i have a toolbox full of tools which have served me well (when i use them). they are helpful when i forget who i am, when i take things personally, when i forget to be kind over being right (which has been more often lately that i'd care to admit)...
i breathe slowly and with as much awareness as possible (when i remember). 
i write (when i'm not busy managing a bunch of other things). 
i harvest vegetables and do my best to remember to offer a prayer beforehand and sing to them while i kill them (because that is what i am doing).

but this. this overwhelming onslaught of human insanity (what other kind could there be?) has my heart aching so much, i can't even seem to find my toolbox. sometimes it seems like it's buried in the back, bottom shelf of the cellar of my mind, behind the anger, rage, grief, despair, fear and absolute numbness of the daily onslaught of "news" (and i have unsubscribed to a LOT of stuff, just to maintain some semblance of sanity).

and then, a few mornings ago, in a compulsive flight of my fingers, i opened facebook (for some other reason which felt really, really important at the moment and subsequently forgot) and saw this post from a dear brother in Israel:
"A long night of sounds of sirens and missiles from Gaza blowing up near our Netivot home, mostly intercepted by Iron Dome, and return tank fire and aircrafts. Going back and forth with the littles ones to the "secure room"... May there be peace in Israel, may there be peace in Gaza...."

there were already 91 comments when i posted this one:
"i wish i could do more from here... but i am sending prayers of safety to you and your family, dear Eliyahu. may Love prevail so that all hearts and minds may remember we are All One. may any attachments to being right on any side of any conflict fall away and may we act from kindness over righteousness. thank you, dear brother, for being such a powerful, humble and potent messenger of Peace and Love."

after writing that comment, i burst into tears. i am simply overwhelmed at what we are doing to each other, our Earth home, and to our co-inhabitants here. 

this is all we have. there is no other place to go. and what good is it to consider going somewhere else? for what? to leave this place a trash heap for the Earth to clean up in her good time (which she would, i'm sure) having learned nothing about our part in creating it?

this phrase keeps going through my mind... just because we can, does it mean we should? i can apply this to a multitude of personal circumstances, relationships, national and global situations.
just because i can be mean to my husband, does it mean i should?
just because i can bury my head in a pillow, does it mean i should?
just because we can stand by while thousands of people die from political and religious violence every day, does it mean we should?
just because we can throw things "away" in our addiction to convenience, does it mean we should?
just because we can _______ [insert your favorites here], does it mean we should? 

the bad news is- life as we know it is going away; the good news is- life as we know it is going away.

and i wonder, how will we meet this new life?

loving the unlovable

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in response to a continuing experience of revulsion when i look at or even hear Donald Trump, i've started meditating with three photos of him - one haunting, expressionless photo of him as a child of three or four, and two as an adult. i look at the photos and focus on sending him Love. the other day, after looking at the photos for a few minutes, i closed my eyes and saw him standing in front of me, looking rather bored and annoyed. i walked toward him and extended my arms, offering a hug. he put his arms around me and shortly afterward his hands began to move down my back. i immediately, i grabbed his hands with mine and pinned his arms to his side, saying "No" with firm compassion, then put my arms around him again. as i held him in this way, he began to soften a little. (in retrospect, it feels as if his softening was the beginning of a letting go of the construct he had created as someone who harasses and abuses women. it was like a deep sigh of exhaustion.) then, as he softened more, he began to cry. so i sat on the floor and held him like a child. he put his head in my lap, and as i stroked that orange hair with one hand while the other hand cradled his head, he let go and began to weep. i could feel that he was weeping at all the ways he had hurt people, the earth and so many beings... it was a deep grief and regret at all he had done out of his extraordinary pain. i continued to hold him, and, as i came out of the meditation, found myself weeping with compassion.

i know this may sound totally weird. but, similar to the realization i had about George W. Bush many years ago, in that moment i realized that Donald Trump may be a bodhisattva. what if his soul has chosen to take this form to help wake up white folks like me to our unearned privilege and our unexamined assumptions? when i think of Bodhisattvas, i usually picture the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa or Thich Nhat Han. but GW? Donald Trump? i guess i need to adjust my expectations of what the qualifications are for being a bodhisattva.

a couple of days after this meditation experience, a friend posted about his frustration, anger and grief at what is happening in this country and the world. he was deeply upset, and was basically asking for help and feedback about his outrage. someone wrote in response, "The only option is to resist. Everything else is BS." i totally get where this person was coming from. it is gut-wrenching to witness the continued downward spiral of this country's moral compass and the not-so-slow turning up of the heat on already marginalized people with the daily barrage of tweets, new policies and so-called "laws." my deep concern for true democracy and compassionate governance grows as we careen ever more quickly toward a 1984 police state in the guise of "the land of the free." 

however, as much as i sometimes want to join a revolution, pitch my tent on the lawn of the White House with a big "WTF?!?!" sign, or scream expletives at the corporate CEO's profiting from caging children, i know that the kind of resistance they spoke of is not the answer. we all know where that leads... "meet the new boss- same as the old boss." it doesn't get to the root of the problem. in his journey to awakening, the Buddha realized that desire and aversion only generate more desire and aversion. resistance only creates more resistance, and it becomes an endless cycle of suffering. 

in sitting with these two experiences, i have come to believe one of the best ways to change what i am witnessing in the actions of this administration is to invite as many people as possible who do not support his policies and actions to pray for, and send Love to, Donald Trump. we can send Love to help open his heart to who he really is and remember that he is part of the Greater Consciousness of Love. we can pray for the opening of our own hearts to all who we demonize and separate from, especially if we believe we are all One. let me be clear, however, that this does not mean sitting quietly by and writing it all off with platitudes of "it's all perfect."

prayer alone is not the answer. nor is resistance. prayer without action is nice, but it maintains the status quo. but revolution based in anything other than Love only adds more fuel to the fire - an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. rather, it's an alchemical blend of justice fueled by compassion- of love for our fellow humans, for the earth and all its inhabitants. it's an often heart-wrenching, sometimes joyful and even ecstatic primal dance of feeling all of our feelings - our rage, our grief, our terror - in order to move the energy from the depths of our souls outward toward the creation of "the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible."*

what might be available if i live from that space with every single breath? how could i be of greater service to the awakening of humanity in living that alchemy? and when i forget, how can i gently remind myself to re-member? today, i choose to re-focus my attention on embracing that from which i draw away in disgust, on releasing that to which i cling as my identity, on loving who i believe is unlovable. because it is all me. all of it. if i think it's not, i'm wrong. 

 

 

*check out Charles Eisenstein's book, the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible

celebrating, creating and... mostly, reassessing... birthday musings

if you really knew me, you would know that,for the last four months, i've been working on launching an amazing movement  in partnership with an amazing team of people led by one of my favorite humans and dear friend, Jonathan Budd. and, if you know Jonathan, you know that when he does things - he does things BIG. so, i'm really excited and honored to announce that this month's blog is an adaptation from a letter i wrote to my team about our part in... Powur, a r-EVOL-utionary new solar movement which is committed to changing the game in as big a way as we can for our planet and all beings. i hope you enjoy reading it... it came from my heart and i hope it calls forth something in you to create more passion and balance in your life, too.love, erin

*********

it was my birthday week before last… and, as i do every year, i took some time to think about where i'm at in my life - what i'm celebrating, what i'm creating and where i need to reassess.

i have so much to celebrate - an amazing relationship with my husband Jakob; our four inspiring kids; our wedding/ community gathering here in July at The Refuge (our 3-acre farm); being part of an incredible solar movement; this beautiful blustery day heralding the beginning of autumn. i am deeply grateful for so many things.

there has been a multitude of opportunities to create, too - concerts, classes, workshops and other events here at The Refuge; finishing my book and getting back to blogging at www.getthatyoumatter.com (after a very long absence...); this r-EVOL-utionary solar movement. honestly... i'm a bit overwhelmed by it all. 

mostly, i spent a lot of my birthday reassessing my life... both before i had the honor of joining this movement and now, in my place as a leader in it. and what i've come to see - with crystal clarity - is that as much as i might want to try to be, i am not a "marketer" but rather a "connector and supporter." in other words, i'm a coach. 

if you really knew me, you would know that i spent the vast majority of the first 1/2 of my life leaning outward to give support and attention to others rather than standing in my own space and meeting them from here. in other words, taking care of and/or doing what i thought would please everyone else and making sure their needs were met, often at my own expense. as you probably have already noticed, i'm a naturally giving and open person who loves supporting others... and i really do enjoy (and get a lot out of) living from that place. truly.  what i've come to learn, however, is that it is neither enjoyable nor sustainable for me to do so when it's inauthentic or i'm doing it because i want to look good and get lots of strokes for "being there" for everyone. when i've leaned too far out, i have often suffered - mentally, emotionally and physically. this year, i did that and it took a toll on my health in some unexpected ways. it's all good... i'm navigating my healing process and am grateful for the opportunities to learn and heal some very old core wounds. ah, the peeling of the onion.... 

what this has given me the chance to see is that, for me, being a "marketer" falls into the masculine realm of doing, pushing onward, burning the midnight oil, and being "out there" as an outmoded version of a "warrior" on the forefront of whatever movement or cause i'm part of. this is where i've spent most of my life as an over-achieving only child with a lot to prove. but, as i step into my 54th year inhabiting this beautiful planet, i am experiencing that my body is no longer able to sustain that kind of dynamic. and, honestly, i don't even want to. what's coming forward more clearly and loudly, as i listen to my deep inner wisdom, is the voice of my heart, of intuition, of the fair witness, of balance and transparency... the voice of the feminine. this is not the one who is not attached to looking good, doing things right or better, getting A's, having the biggest team or all the answers.

is it easy for me to make this shift? absolutely not! my ego (Edging God Out) is kicking and screaming all the way... "stay up until you're past exhausted to show everyone that you're really committed," "look at how many people you have on your team- you're the best!" or "you haven't done enough- you're a failure"... oy! the litany!

is it necessary? absolutely. if i don't, i will not be who i came here to be.

what i'm seeing is that i must call forth balance in this process. i must bring forth my feminine, allowing for space and thoughtfulness, making room for down time and deep conversations, creating an environment (both inner and outer) which reflects true sustainability for myself and my team. after all, isn't sustainability what this movement is all about in the first place? if we are not able to sustain ourselves as we birth this game-changing shift of humanity's presence on the planet, then we cannot possibly hope to create sustainability on a global level. yes we are in a time of urgency, even emergency… but i must allow my deeper authentic self to emerge-and-see in order to midwife this birth.

so, in honor of my birthday musings, i offer you this:  i am completely clear that we are at the beginning of creating and celebrating a new kind of Warrior... one who lives from the balance of their heart and mind; one who knows that although there is urgency, slow and steady wins the race; one who knows, without a shred of doubt, that they are in the right place at the right time. so i ask you... are you that Warrior? what are you here for? are you here to grow yourself? are you here to awaken human consciousness? are you here to join me in this soul-searching, life-changing movement? are you here to create a win/win/win (for you, your fellow humans and the planet)?

if you choose not to, i bow to you and say "thank you for considering my invitation." whether you decide to sally forth or know that being part of this movement is not the choice for you at this time, i wish you well from the bottom of my heart.

thank you for listening to your deep inner wisdom.

with love and blessings,

erin

Balance

waking up to my white privilege

dixondwhite

recently i saw a video which moved me to tears. it was posted by a man who called himself “Dixon D. White.” sitting in the cab of his F-150 truck somewhere in the southern U.S., he made a passionate call for white people to wake up to our unowned racism and undeniable privilege. it was so palpable in its sincerity and humility that, as i watched him speak to so many aspects of how racism plays out in millions of peoples’ lives, i was moved to tears multiple times. i was also deeply impressed by his eloquence on the subject, especially given that he alluded to the fact that he was not necessarily a well-educated man and had a difficult background. he spoke about being a racist himself, but had had an awakening and needed to speak out. he spoke from a place so deep and true and real… he spoke from his heart.

that afternoon, i posted his video on my Facebook page and quite shortly thereafter received a couple of comments which gave me pause, and ultimately inspired me to address the first one in this blog. the other one, i’ll address next time. before i go any further, i want to be very clear that this is simply my opinion, that i’m bringing as much compassion as possible as i can, and that i’m still learning about this (in other words, the more i learn, the more i realize i need to learn and the more i’m seeing my own internalized racism at every turn). i’m not saying i'm right; i'm just offering my perspective as a white person who is deeply sad about what’s going on.

what about reverse racism, anyway?

the comment:  ”I don't know if I agree with all the self hating white talk going on. It's one thing to recognize, reflect, correct and move on, but it's all that is talked about now`a day's. It gives excuses to victimize and use excuses to be violent and create reverse racism. Until everybody wakes up and stops using the race card on every level, we will always have racism, and reverse racism."

before i go on, i want to say, i hear you. i make up that it saddens you to bear witness to the violence you may be seeing wherever you are seeing it (on TV, social media, etc.) and that you are frustrated with the continuing of a conversation that seems to be getting nobody anywhere. i, too, am saddened by the continuing violence and the fact that we are still very much in the throes of this conversation. however, i want to point out a few things which i hope will give you some food for thought.

first, most of the violence in our society is, in large part, due to something called oppression and its offshoot, internalized oppression. it is a well-documented fact that, whenever a group (people of color, women, LGBT people, religious minorities, any marginalized group… the list goes on and on) is oppressed by another group (in our case, mostly white people) for any length of time in a regular, systematic and institutionalized way, the people in the oppressed group can easily begin to believe that they deserve no better. even worse, they can often play out that oppression on themselves, each other and society at large. thus, the violence (physical, mental or emotional) which has victimized millions continues to beget violence in many, many ways.

second, our black and brown brothers and sisters on this continent have been victimized since the day white Europeans came into contact with them. i'm not saying that every white person who ever came into contact with a black or brown person did bad things or never stood up for them. what i am saying is that, as a group of people, we white people have systematically and institutionally made other groups of human beings the targets of severe oppression with every possible form of injustice, violence and hatred known to humankind. remember, this country was built on the backs of the people shipped here like cargo from another continent and expanded through the forced removal and relocation of prior inhabitants. i’m not saying that the U.S. is all bad. it was founded on some wonderful ideals with an amazing document to try to uphold them (although i know it’s not a perfect document, i don’t recall the constitution saying all white men are equal). but, we cannot ignore the basic facts that, even though the European settlers came here to escape religious persecution (a form of oppression), we didn’t do a very good job of living up to those ideals. 

third, even if we want to educate ourselves about what really happened and what is really going on, mainstream education (being part of that institutionalized system) perpetuates the myth that, "oh, yeah, slavery happened... way back then, and we're sorry to hear how badly folks were treated but it's way more important to educate you about the battle of (fill in the blank)." mark my words, it is no mistake that we don't know the stories of people who were thrown overboard on slave ships in order to conserve food, who were driven to near extinction by disease and massacre, the thousands of families torn apart never to see each other again. it’s no mistake that the daily acts of violence perpetuated against our black brothers and sisters in the south before, during and after the civil rights movement barely get a mention in history textbooks. it's no mistake that most states still celebrate Columbus Day, even though Columbus and his compatriots were responsible for reducing the population of the Taíno people of the Caribbean from over 1,000,000 to less than 500 in just over 50 years. i could go on and on. are you getting my drift?

how many decades of violence have our brothers and sisters endured while we have had the unearned

benefit of being able to turn away? to whom have they been able to turn? how many frustrating conversations must they have with white people who make all sorts of assumptions about them without even thinking? where have they been able to go to find respite and space from a system which does its best to disempower them at every turn? what gives us the right to think that we can avoid having the crucial and, yes, probably very difficult conversations that our predecessors were too afraid or too unconscious to have?

i don't believe it's "self-hating white talk." this isn’t about making you, me or any other white person wrong for what’s happened. it’s about being accountable to the fact that the only best way to truly end racism is for white people to wake up to our part in continuing this cycle of oppression. it seems like "it's all that's talked about now`a day’s" because it's important.

martin-luther-king-jruntil we really address racism and the multitude of ways it plays out in every level and area of our culture, it will continue to be an important conversation. until we realize, as white people, that it is our job, our duty, to stand up for our black and brown brothers and sisters personally and systematically, we will continue to need videos like this to wake us up to the very real and sad fact that the color of our skin gives us the unearned privilege of “not knowing” more than we do about their suffering. that is a huge part of what perpetuates this conversation which i make up seems so uncomfortable to you.

look, i don’t mean to make you feel bad, but actually we need to feel bad. 

a huge part of the reason why racism continues to have such a grip on our country is exactly because we white people have been unwilling to feel the guilt, shame, sadness, grief, regret of what our ancestors and fellow citizens did and continue to do to other human beings. it is absolutely a shame that the things done in the name of progress or money or ignorance continue. it is time to look at it, to acknowledge our part (even if that part is “just" being able to ignore it), and to make real changes. and that, my friend, is an inside job for every single white person in this country, including me.

although i acknowledge that you may already be doing these things, i have a few questions for my white brothers and sisters: what are we so afraid of when we deny that we are part of a system - consciously or not - which engenders the continuing treatment of any human being as less than any other human being? what will you do the next time you see someone being treated unfairly because of the color of their skin? will you inform the person who is being rude, hurtful or even hateful to them that what they’re doing is wrong? or will you look the other way?

finally, although i acknowledge the pain and frustration you are obviously expressing about your own experiences, the concept of "reverse racism" holds no weight in my book, and, more importantly, in the experiences of millions of people in this country. the truth is, the race card will continue to be played until we, as members of the white group (whether we want to be labeled as part of that group or not), decide it is time to stop playing the race game. it is up to us to end it. not the other way around. in other words, there is no such thing as “reverse racism."

you are right about one thing, though… everybody must wake up. and, that “everybody” is mostly white.

what can i do?

i believe - strongly - that, as Mr. Moran said, it is up to us white Americans to stand up and speak out with ferocity and conviction for our oppressed brothers and sisters, many of whom have suffered all too long at the hands of a system designed to keep them in the place of providing a good labor force to produce the products and services which ultimately continue to serve us and uphold the great disparity between those who exercise the unearned “right to not know” (you and me) and those who have no choice but to live every day with the knowledge and experience that their lives are often used as collateral to maintain an unjust and rigged system.

it is up to us white Americans to speak out and call forth a continuing dialogue about how we can transform our story of underlying racism which permeates every sector of our society into a story of real equality and collaboration to try to prove, if only to ourselves, that we can actually live from love and respect for everyone. i’m not saying it’s easy. i’m not even saying it’s possible. it may be impossible. but i, for one, at least have to know i did my best.

it is up to us to support our non-white brothers and sisters when they speak up and not rely on them to educate us or do all the work for us. that is not their job!

lastly, i would be remiss if i didn't acknowledge that i am just scratching the surface here… that i’m an active participant in this system, whether i want to be or not… that i’m still learning about this and have not acknowledged so very many issues here… that i need to apologize for my unconscious actions and words and will continue to need to do so, likely, until the day i die. the thing is, i feel passionately that this is one of the most significant conversations of our time... it runs deep and wide through every sector of our society and has a profound impact on how we treat each other, how we treat ourselves and how we treat the planet.

so, if you are one of my white brothers or sisters, i encourage - no urge - you to watch Mr. Moran's video, read blogs by people like Tim Wise, Tiffanie Drayton and Jamie Utt, watch videos that make you uncomfortable… and take notes. i urge you to educate yourself - not with the mainstream media, but with alternatives providing the information our white-dominated system wishes would remain hidden. share what you learn with others about what really happened, what’s really going on and what you can do to help. then, i ask you to stand up and speak out at every possible opportunity. in other words, be an ally to your friends, neighbors, fellow citizens who have to live every day with circumstances you may likely never have to know.

remember the words of Martin Luther King, Jr…. “in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

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earth day 2015... where is the accountability?

today is Earth Day.

i woke up at 3:45 again, unable to sleep... it happens every once in a while (i've written about it more than once). i wake, usually pretty suddenly, either in a total panic or with a more subtle sense of dread and low-level anxiety. this morning is one of those... the dull, unavoidable ache. lately, i've been able to go back to sleep, knowing how tired i'm going to feel later in the day. but this morning, it didn't work. i got up and fussed around for a bit, then tried to go back to sleep but it simply wasn't working. so i curled up next to Jakob, hoping not to disturb him, and prayed. the answer came swiftly - "go get in the water." so i quietly slipped outside to the back garden and into the hot tub which has become one of my favored places of rest and reconnection.

almost as soon as i got in, i began to weep. i knew it was there waiting under the surface, but it came on hard and suddenly... and i let it. i sat there in the dark, under the stars and the silhouette of our Grandfather Tree and wept from the deepest place inside of me.

at first, i thought it was from all the anxiety i feel about living up to the expectations i've set up for myself with what we're creating and doing. then i thought it was from the preparations for our wedding in July. but i soon realized that it was deeper than those things. it didn't have a name nor did it have a voice other than a silent, heart-wrenching cry from deep within.

i remembered - like so many times before - this feeling of unspeakable anguish, this cry emanating from 11174867_10206141196706905_8458638082752159094_nthe deepest part of my being... the cry of being alive, of being in human form. the cry of Mother Earth and all the beings who share life here... the birds, plants, dolphins, Tibetan refugees, lions, impoverished children, elephants, raped women and girls, slaves, parched riverbeds, burnt forests, hungry homeless, barren tar sands, isolated teenagers, plastic-strangled seagulls. the cry of Life itself calling out to and from my heart, reminding me that i am not separate.

it is so easy to forget. i do it all the time.

it is so easy (when i have so much to accomplish) to minimize the torment of women (some i know personally) who have suffered abuse at the hands of wounded fathers, husbands and strangers... leaving everyone disconnected, numb and filled with rage. it is so easy (when i can never truly understand) to dismiss the pain of so many men longing for connection whose choices have had devastating effects on themselves, others and our planet... excavating the hole in their souls even more deeply. it is so easy (when i live such a privileged life) to pity children who must walk miles every day for their water or hunt through garbage heaps for their dinner... knowing that, with the toss of a cosmic coin, it could just as easily have been me.

it is so easy to forget that who i really am and where i come from is... this beautiful planet, the stars, the infinite cosmos... Love itself.

as i kneeled in the warm water, weeping and praying for help, i heard my Mother's quiet voice reminding me that all i have to do is let her take care of me. i felt her gentle caress holding me as i allowed myself to release the worries i had thought were the cause of my discomfort. i held her profound grief in my bones as all the silenced voices of innocent victims, the pain of the persecuted, the anger of the unjustly imprisoned arose in my belly.

as i knelt there weeping, many questions (some new, mostly old) surfaced...

how is it possible that such a small group of humans could have such a profoundly negative impact on the Whole of Life?

how can the people, privileged with the "right not to know," once informed, live with the fact that they have caused so much pain, destruction, torment, anguish for so many?

how is it they can so easily forget that they are inextricably connected to everything, that every action they take has a profound effect on everything and everyone around them?

what keeps me working so incredibly hard all the time to bring more Love and Light into the world only to have it end up feeling as if the boulder i seem to be pushing up this impossibly steep hill could be flicked back down to the valley of hopelessness by the finger of some government official or corporate CEO who seemingly has only profit and power in mind with no regard for anything else?

where is the accountability? it's all just so f-xx-ing unfair!

i arose from the water, not with a sense of satisfaction at having found any answers nor with a sense of relief, but with a knowing that, right now, my best and only option is to let myself feel what i am feeling... deeply and thoroughly. (as i wrote those words, a small bird hovered right in front of my window in confirmation.)

and to continue to express and allow these feelings of despair, rage and hopelessness at what is happening to remind me that, at the end of my raging, wailing and despairing, is only Love. plain and simple.

Earth-May31today is Earth Day.

this is the only home we have.

and my question is... what will we choose to do when we remember who we really are?

struggling with creativity

if you really knew me, i've been struggling a bit with creativity. i was saying to Jakob the other day, i have so many logistical things on my plate it often feels difficult to access the deeper, more creative or "spiritual" places in myself. i admit i haven't been all that disciplined with myself either. for some reason, after the switch to Daylight Savings, it took me weeks to get back on track with rising early. but, even though i've been doing so for the last week or so, i still haven't taken the time to write. just letting the words flow out however they will without some agenda (other than getting a blog posted!) attached to the process. one of the really great things that's "gotten in the way" is making preparations for our big presentation on April 18th at the Spirit/Mind/Body Expo in Sonora. if you are in the area, i really hope you can attend! we're launching our new organization, the Local Security Exchange (website will be up 4/18/15!), and have been working very hard with Cheyenne, computer Goddess extraordinaire, to get the website ready. we’re in the final stages of refining our talk to make it as compelling as possible for folks to get involved.

rainy dayso, it's not like i haven't been doing creative things; it's just that i've been feeling disconnected from the quiet space inside and around me which opens up when i give myself the gift of time to write. it feeds my soul so deeply, i forget how delicious it is until i finally sit down to do it. i think it's a great help today that it's storming outside... rain, wind, thunder. this kind of weather always gives rise to my desire to hunker down and write. but that's not typical around here, so i'd better find an inner storm soon (or at least tame the storm of lists in my head!).

as i sit here allowing myself even a few minutes to write before i begin my busy day, i feel so grateful for this precious time. if i wait, thinking i'll get to it later, it will be gone. too hard to recapture in the middle of the afternoon, after i've already had a thousand thoughts of logistics and events, or the evening when all i want to do is snuggle up with Jakob and read.

it's so easy to get caught up in the seemingly endless to do's of life- the dirty dishes, the meetings, the errands. even when i get up extra early, something else always seems to find its way into what used to be my sacred morning time. i distract myself in a million ways from the thing that brings me so much joy and satisfaction. and, even though everything i do is founded on the simple principle of getting that i matter, i find myself putting the thing which brings me a deep sense of inner fulfillment on the back burner. is it a question of worth? do i feel i don't deserve it? is it simply a question of habit? am i simply playing out a legacy of codependency deeply engraved in my earliest memories? or is it a strange brew of all the above? i’m wondering… do you relate to this?

so, if i were in a coaching session with myself (which, perhaps i should do more often!), i would dive more deeply into those questions. then i'd create some reminders for myself that i really, really love... like "remember how sweetly sane it feels to take a few minutes just for me" or "i love to write" or, as the pencil on my desk says, "don't forget to write!" i'd put alarms on my phone or stickies on my vitamin bottles. okay. i'm going to do that. right now! no, wait. i'll do it after i'm done writing.

right, this is it. so simple. yet i complicate it so much. i'm just going to do it. just say "no" to my habitual machinery of tidiness and ticking items off the list. just sit down. turn on the computer. and write. but will i keep it up this time?

ok. right. i'm coaching myself here, so i'm going to challenge myself to write every day. regardless of the important tasks in my path (dishes in the sink, breakfast to make, emails unanswered), i'm going to sit down for at least 30 minutes a day for 30 days. 30/30. no matter what. ok. oh shit. what have i done? i've declared it publicly! well, it's too late now! i've gone and done it. so this is when i’d ask, "who are you going to ask to support you in keeping your word with yourself? who will be your accountability buddy?" i can think of a few folks. "ok, so when will you ask them?" today. i'll ask them today. i'll ask a few different folks to check in with me or let me text them to tell them i wrote that day. jeez! i'm really doing this. i'm going to do this. right now! no wait... i still have 2 minutes left to write.

P1040255ok. so, for now, i'll sit here with the peaceful chimes on my writing program, the blank canvas before me and the delicious quiet in my head as the words fall out and swirl onto the screen.

i love to write.

 

wendy's incomparable joy

it's March 15th, the day my mom died 14 years ago. i've been writing about her on this day pretty much every year since, but today i don't feel like i have a lot to write about other than that i have a deep appreciation for who she was in my life and the lives of my children, family and community. whenever i talk about her with some who knew her, they always have the fondest memories of her wackiness, generosity, playful spirit, great parties, commitment to our planet or her love of dogs. she was a powerful presence in the lives of many people. although she wasn't particularly fond of babies nor of other peoples' young children, she was also a wonderful grandmother who loved my children with all her heart, especially after they got old enough to have real conversations with her. and, although i don't really miss her anymore the way i used to, i do feel sad sometimes for my kids not having her here for the important moments of their lives. she would have loved the fact that they're renting an apartment in Paris right now.

Wendy with her prize radishes

as i reflect on who she was and all the many gifts she gave me, i am especially grateful for the love of the earth i inherited from her and her father Elsworth. her joy in getting her hands in the soil and growing things was a big part of her life after she moved back to Love Creek Ranch, and i've been thinking about her all day as we we planted hundreds of seeds in our garden. she'd pop into my mind as i held the packet of radish seeds (remembering this wonderful photo of her), stopped to thank the little hummingbird who watched over our proceedings or said hello to the worms in the ground.

we also had the honor and pleasure of having our friends Kaedence, Laura and Tiger here with us in the garden to plant, chat and celebrate Laura's birthday. as i shared with her that her birthday is the same day as the day my mother passed, i felt a deep wave of appreciation wash over me for Laura's presence in my life. although she's more like a big sister, in many ways she holds that motherly space for me... always unconditionally loving, truthful, deeply affectionate and kind. i wish she and my mom could have met each other. they would have hit it off right away.

i'm so grateful to have had this day out in the warm sunshine with Jakob and our friends planting, singing, sharing a good meal and reconnecting with the Mother of All Beings. i'm sure my mom would have loved it, too. i have a feeling she was there... laughing, dancing and singing around the garden, infusing the seeds with her incomparable joy.

1907474_10153679362368574_7354749017361975124_n p.s. i just wanted to note that i forgot to post this until March 17th, St. Patrick's Day, which happened to be one of mom's favorite holidays. Happy St. Paddy's Day mom!

 

the gift of creating magic and connection with 300 teenagers

as the clouds hang low and dark in the morning sky, i feel somewhat melancholy today and i wonder why. i think it has to do with the intensity of the last few weeks and not giving myself a whole lot of down time to digest the magic of it all until now. on February 20th i completed one of the biggest projects i’ve ever taken on - a Get That You Matter program for over 300 high school students which, from what i feel and hear, was very successful. it all started five months ago when i was asked to create a program for the senior project of two amazing young women who wanted to raise the bar of cohesion and unity at their campus. they wanted to give students an experience that they are more connected than they may realize, and it was amazing. it was a real chance for me to stretch myself as well as to demonstrate what i’ve learned in the last 15 years as a teacher, Challenge Day Program Leader, life coach, counselor and Cafe Gratitude workshop facilitator. in other words, it was an opportunity to pull all of my training and skills together into an experience we hoped would impact the lives of everyone involved in a positive way. i think it worked.

it was an incredible undertaking and, in the end, 40 student leaders trained to help facilitate the days, more than 30 adults volunteered to help hold the space, and over 300 students got to see how very much they matter to each other and to our world. together, we created two magical days which i hope they walked away from feeling more seen, heard and connected than before they walked in. since we all said goodbye on Friday the 20th, i’ve been thinking about this in the context of the upcoming Reclaiming the Sorcerer webinar for which i’m preparing to co-teach three classes with my friend Jordanna Eyre, and i’m realizing that what happened there was just that… a reclaiming of the magic we all have within us. we all had the opportunity to be sorcerers who live from love and integrity.

those amazing young people showed us all what it is to do that... to be someone who transforms their reality with grace, power, love and beauty. they inspired me and every other adult who was there, and i believe we all left with a greater sense of purpose, hope and possibility than when we began. in looking back on the experience, i feel as though i was given a great gift- to help create a space where the Get That You Matter mission “to inform, inspire and ignite individuals everywhere to illuminate our world” was wholly fulfilled, and our vision for "a world where everyone knows that they matter and contributes to a just, inspirited, thriving and resilient life for all beings” came a little closer to being realized.

honestly, i have to say, just thinking and writing about the experience now is lifting my melancholy. rather than putting my attention on my massive “to do” list for the next couple of months, taking a few minutes to celebrate what we created is already filling my spiritual tank for all of the other great things to come. it reminds me just how true it is that what we focus on is the experience we give ourselves.

Theres importance in taking time to take stock and celebrate my triumphs

so, as i sit here enjoying the warmth of hot tea and the beauty of the stormy skies, i feel deeply grateful for the many opportunities to serve and live my own personal mission that come my way. i remember the importance of taking time to take stock and celebrate my triumphs and re-evaluate the trajectory of plans for the future. in taking time for my practice of early morning writing, self care and alone time which feeds my soul so much, my anxiety has lifted. what i’m left with is a feeling of more connection to myself, others and life itself. and that is the greatest gift of all. i hope that everyone with whom i shared those days at Bret Harte High School had a similar experience.

Be... Long... Ing...

to belong...talkingcircle

1. to fit in a specified place or environment

2. to be a member of a particular group

3. to be rightly placed in a specified situation

i'm honored to be part of a wonderful group of women here in my community which sits in sacred circle together each month, the underlying theme of which is "belonging." i've been thinking about this idea a lot since our last gathering. what makes me feel like i belong? what defines belonging and the various derivatives of this word? where do i belong?

i think it's easy to overlook the potency of this word and what it means at first glance... "of course i belong! i'm here aren't i?" but, upon deeper examination, i realize  these questions bring awareness to my present circumstances... to where i am right now, in this moment. and they are more complex than i have considered until now. i know i belong in many places and i experience that feeling of belonging every day. when i wake up next to my husband. when i witness the sun rising over the hills. when i think about my wonderful family and friends and this circle of sisters with whom i am so honored to sit each month. these and a multitude of other experiences reflect my experience of belonging.

what about you? what makes you feel like you belong? how do you define belonging? where do you belong?

Lantern Ceremonybe... to exist, occur, or have a specified state of (identity, nature, quality, etc.)

longing... a yearning desire

as i pondered the experience of belonging in our circle last month, i realized there was a whole other way of looking at this word which begged an even deeper question... what do i "be longing" for? if longing is "a yearning desire," what do i yearn for? what do i desire? what is missing in my life that, if fulfilled, would have me experience a greater sense of belonging?

in sitting with these questions, i notice they connect us to our past... to what we've held inside for years, possibly even since the day we were born. the question of "be longing" invites us to re-member who we really are. personally, i am fulfilled. there is really nothing on a personal level i long for, but rather i carry a deep longing for humanity to awaken to our beauty, wisdom and power. i long for those moments when i witness someone - a friend, a client, a politician, a corporate executive - awakening to their place in the world. i long for the time when we, as a species, live from that place of knowing we are inextricably connected to each other and all life. i long for that time when we act from that knowing rather than from the experience (the illusion!)  we have given ourselves that we are separate and alone. i long for this more than anything.

what do you be longing for? what are your yearning desires? what is missing for you that would have you experience a greater sense of belonging?

be... to exist, occur, or have a specified state of (identity, nature, quality, etc.)bumble bee

long...

1. covering a great distance (space)

2. lasting or taking a great amount of time (time)

3. retaining things for a great amount of time (memory)

ing... denoting an action, instance or result of

then, yet another form of this question presented itself as i sat around the fire with my sisters... how am i "be long ing"? in other words, what is it that i am willing to be and do for the long term? what vision am i holding for the future... for myself, my community, our world? what am i committed to changing or creating in order to insure that my children's children and beyond have a more beautiful world to live in than i do now?

as i'm present to these questions of "be long ing," i see that they summon a deep inquiry for the future... and that they also weave a thread through our past and present. if we know where we belong and we understand what it is we long for, then we can identify what it is we are willing to stand for in the long run. this is a profoundly personal conversation for each of us, and it is utterly critical. for it holds the possibility of a different future than the one we seem to be creating. a future we cannot yet see but long to belong to. each of my days is built around these questions, for they are the foundation of my existence. there is not a day that goes by when i don't consider some aspect of my beingness in relation to the long view, the long arc of the Universe.

what are you willing to be and do for the long term? what vision are you holding for the future? what are you committed to changing or creating in order to insure a more beautiful world for all?

finally, given that this month we celebrate Valentines Day, how does all of this connect to Love? for me, there is no separation... if i am not doing my best to live from the space of these questions, i am not Being Love to the best of my ability. if i am not inquiring about my past, living fully in my present and committed to a more beautiful future, then i can say Love is not at the center of my life. and, for me, that is no way to live.

what about you? how do all of these questions connect to your version of Love? and what does Being Love look like to you?

i hope you are inspired to inquire more deeply about these questions for yourself. i invite you to take some time to consider your responses and notice what comes up as you discover new insights and possibly even more questions in the process. and, as always, i would love to hear what this was like for you in the comments below.

A New Year... A New World

sunrise at The Refuge

for a while now, i’ve been pondering what to write for the New Year. it’s been exciting considering the turning of this year for many reasons, but i haven't been able to find the words to convey what i've been feeling. what could i say about this juncture that would be different and unique? what would be profound enough, meaningful enough and motivating enough? and, honestly, i haven’t been able to come up with anything that feels right… until now. i’m sitting here, enjoying the early morning quiet, remembering that this turning is significant in great part because New Years Eve was the end of a very important four year cycle - a cycle of awakening.

in November 2010 i was introduced to the FourYears.Go (4YG) campaign when i attended my first Pachamama Alliance fundraiser. i was moved to tears by their incredibly compelling video and decided that day to join the campaign. i had no idea it would become one of the most important decisions of my life. in stepping into the world of 4YG, i was given more gifts than i can possibly imagine - opportunities to stretch and grow, beautiful connections with hundreds of people and organizations, and deep friendships which i am certain will last a lifetime. besides that, i am honored to have been part of a small group of passionate and committed change agents who were given the task of getting this four-year campaign out to the world in a more public and interactive way. although the active work on the campaign ended a couple of years ago and our group dissolved, i continue to be deeply grateful for our continued connections and all i learned about collaboration, group process, consensus, the power of an “ask” and much more. then, on 12/31/14, my friend Ingrid (one of the key members of the group and founder of Iomlan), sent an email reminding us all about an exercise we did in July 2011, and i was inspired to include it in this blog and share some of my thoughts.

"Forget everything you have ever known about what 4YG has ever been and locate yourself at a celebration on 12/31/2014. Human Beings all over the world have obviously transformed. We are now being in ways that there is more life, love, connection, joy, resonance, alignment, trust, intimacy, love, freedom, co-creation. Looking back from this place to today, who did we learn to be? Who have we become over these past four years?…. How did we become a just, sustainable and fulfilling world? What values do you hold? What do you believe is possible? How do you feel about the future from this place you are holding? How did we blossom?"

in looking back over this last four years, there has been a quickening of personal transformation, social unrest, and awareness about what we have done to our planet. and what i see as the over-arching theme - on a global and personal level - is that we have been waking up. we have been waking up to the fact that this is the only home we have and that those around us are here as our guides and teachers. we have been waking up to the fact that we need to balance our thoughtfulness and capacity to consider outcomes with our desire for change and our capacity to take swift, bold action to create a real and lasting course-correction. we have been waking up to the fact that we are the ones we have been waiting for.

something has truly shifted in this last four years on what may even be an invisible, possibly cellular level wherein we, as a species, can no longer tolerate injustices and outrageously bad behavior the way we used to. our ability to connect with anyone anywhere at any time, and for news and information to be shared across borders and boundaries is creating platforms for change never before possible. we have learned better how to think critically as individuals and to question authority, even as “the powers that be” seem to be wanting us to dumb down and shut up more and more. it’s almost as if the very core of our being, the primal “NO” is rising up and taking hold in a new and different way. and i believe it is because what is rising up alongside that “no” is the most powerful, ancient, passionate “YES” to life and love and all that we truly are.

we are, in new and multi-faceted ways, creating that just, sustainable and fulfilling world in more ways that we can possibly imagine. as my dear friend Paul Hawken shared in his inspiring must-read book, Blessed Unrest, there are millions of organizations working for the good of all and hundreds of millions of people, if not billions, who are running, working for and volunteering with those organizations. if we choose to open our eyes, we can see what is happening in and to our world, but we are starting to do more than simply stand by and watch… and that is the difference that has been made in this last four years. i believe we are waking up to the possibilities for, and beginning to feel inspired about, our future. as Paul said in his 2009 commencement speech to the graduates at the University of Portland, “The most unrealistic person in the world is the cynic, not the dreamer. Hopefulness only makes sense when it doesn’t make sense to be hopeful.” we are waking up to being truly, deeply hopeful and we need to do it now.

and now, at the end of this four years, we stand on the brink of a new beginning. we have an opportunity to do it differently than ever before.

i declare 2015 the year of action - thoughtful, powerful, bold, decisive, and, yes, sometimes even messy action. we have honed our ability to see what’s really going on. we are ripping the curtain away from the little man behind it, and we are calling spades spades. we are standing up and marching and dancing and using our voices - strong and clear and powerful - in numbers like never before, and we are shouting from the top of our passionate lungs, “we’re not taking it anymore! we are done with being silent!” we know we can no longer afford to stand idly by. we know that no one is coming to rescue us and that we must do this ourselves. so i say, take Paul’s advice - “Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.” the time is now… it’s been four years and i say let’s go!

how would you answer those questions above? i’d really like to know. share your comments and i promise i will reply to them.

in the meantime, check out Paul Hawken’s new website, Project Drawdown. it’s awesome! and… read about a hopeful turn of events on the climate change front… things are happening!

what I want for Christmas

kitchen windowi’m sitting here in the comfort of my beautiful country home looking out over the bucolic view from our kitchen window… and i’m feeling sad. even though i have tomatoes cooking on the stove waiting to be canned, a warm cup of tea sitting next to my computer, and a fire in the wood stove to keep me cozy, i am grief-stricken at the state of our world. and i am well aware that i am sitting in the position of having an amazing amount of privilege… even the privilege to feel this way, to even have the time and space to think and write about my privilege.

i have so much.

probably more than i deserve.

definitely more than i’ll ever have the opportunity to know and understand.

i am so grateful for every single thing in my life… every person, relationship, object, opportunity to serve, feeling and experience - every single one. yet, despite all of the goodness, i sometimes feel the deepest sadness, grief, anger and outrage at what we continue to do to ourselves and our world. i could go on and on about all these things, but i’ve written so many blogs about it, i’m honestly kind of tired of hearing myself talk about it.

so, in honor of the upcoming holidays in which many of us exchange gifts and some of us write lists to Santa Claus asking for what we want (a questionably commercialized practice for many reasons which i won’t go into now), i’m writing my own very idealistic, yet wholly heartfelt “Christmas list" - not to Santa, but to Life, to God and mostly to myself and my fellow humans:

i know this isn’t a very cheerful (or nearly extensive enough) list*. but it seems to me we keep making some pretty poor choices in the big picture, and not much has changed over the years (i.e. compare this article about the Copenhagen talks in 2009 to Lima 2014). regardless, i hope you found it interesting, informative or inspiring in some fashion, and that it ignites you to take some kind of action to illuminate your life and our world more brightly, even starting right in your own home.

there is actually a lot going on that is super positive (i’ll share that in my January feature blog), so there is a great deal to be hopeful about. and the truth is... we need your light to add to that list.

Earth-May31

we have so much to lose and so much to gain.

probably more than we can imagine.

definitely more than we’ll ever have the opportunity to know and understand.

Happy Holidays and may 2015 see more of our wishes come true.

*this list was written in no particular order including some links knowing that they are but a few of many examples i could have used. if you recommend others, please let me know; i promise i’ll check them out. thank you for understanding.

grateful for gratitude… witnessing the re-birth of hope

marianna gratitude this weekend i had the great privilege of participating in a gathering with some amazing folks. there were people of all ages, faiths and histories, and we were all there to support a wonderful woman in our community and deepen our own healing as well. it was powerful to say the least.

i personally had some powerful things arise for healing (about which i’ll write in my next blog), but there is something that happened which i will never forget. because what happened was so deeply moving - on every level - that something fundamentally changed in how i see children.

as you may know, i have been a champion of young people and children forever, having been a mother, substitute teacher and Challenge Day Program Leader among other things. in other words, i have been extremely aware of the prevalence of adult-ism in our culture and the incredible damage it does. so, it was truly awe-inspiring to witness the awareness and encouragement from every single adult there when a beautiful little 5-year-old boy stepped up of his own accord and asked to take on a leadership role in the gathering. this was no small thing he did… let me tell you.  no small thing.

it meant stepping up in a way that many adults i know would not be comfortable doing, and he did it with joy, grace and the deepest sense of knowing that emanated from the center of his being. it was so beautiful.

it was in that moment that i reconnected to my vast store of hope for the human race.  as you may know, i’ve written more than once about my struggles with hope and my capacity to carry on with a smile in the face of all we are facing in this critical time in history. i have often felt more despair than i care to admit. but in that moment, i felt hope. real hope. a deep trust, an abiding faith that we are going to be okay.

as i sat with tears streaming down my face, i watched this child’s incredible poise and presence as he listened to all he needed to do to fulfill the role for which he had volunteered. and my heart soared as though it had wings when i watched him carry it out with more grace than most adults. this little boy, with his tiny, young body and huge, eternal heart, restored my faith in humanity.

and the beautiful thing was, i had this momentary flash of, “I’m so glad young people like him are going to fix the mess we created” but it was instantly replaced by, “no. i’m so grateful he is joining us in the task of healing what needs to be healed so we can all awaken together. i’m so glad i get to stand side-by-side with this beautiful being as we build the bridge to the New World together.” all in one moment, i was informed, inspired, ignited and illuminated. in that one moment.

IMG_0213in these last couple of days since the gathering, i have felt so different. so much more possibility and joy. and this morning, i woke up feeling so grateful… for everything. for being able to get up well before sunrise to enjoy the quiet and dark to meditate, do yoga and share time with my husband. for the privilege of living where i live, for the way trees remind me how to be still, for eating food from my own garden every day, for the vast, deep and joyful love i feel for my husband and our children, for our amazing community and all the possibilities that stand before us as we walk forward. for children who have parents who stand beside them (rather than in front of or behind them) and say, “i believe in you.”

then what i realized is that i am so deeply grateful to be grateful. to know that i am grateful and to feel gratitude pretty much every hour for my life- even the struggles. especially the struggles. and to be grateful while i’m right in the middle of them, even if i don’t understand why they’re happening.

i have truly come to believe that gratitude is the key to everything… if i can truly be grateful for every one of my circumstances, regardless of how wonderful or terrifying they seem, i can be free to trust that everything is falling into place exactly as planned.

and what i have seen, time and time again, is that gratitude and generosity are the keys to healing all wounds. if we can be grateful, we can be present. if we can be present, we can be generous. if we can be generous, we can experience moments of connection which remind us how grateful we are. and the whole cycle repeats itself as we spiral upward toward remembering who we really are.

so, in this month of Giving Thanks (at least here in the states), i say, “thank you.” to everything and everyone. to my family, my friends, this beautiful little boy who brought hope back to my heart. to the people who make the most difficult choices they can possibly make, like the courageous and beautiful Brittany Maynard. to the heroes i meet every day like my friend Mark who is helping to heal deep wounds in a native tribal community and my friend Rosendo who, although faced with possibly impossible odds, is one of the brightest, most joyful people i have ever met. to every sentient being who lives on this beautiful planet we call Home. and to our Mother Earth, who gives unceasingly, without expectation, and supports us despite it all.

i am so grateful for being grateful.

what are you grateful for?

i wish you a beautiful November filled with joy and gratitude.

erin and cow

lessons from the lunar eclipse… being part of the tapestry

note: i was going to wait and post this on Monday, October 13th. but i decided not to wait, realizing that was part of my scarcity thinking... "what if i don't have anything to say next week?" then i thought, "post it now. it happened yesterday. carpe diem!" then i thought, "who the f-x-x-c cares if you don't post anything next week?!?!" so... here it is....

October 8th, 2014...

i’m sitting here outside in the dark at 4:16 in the morning, having gotten up about an hour ago to witness the lunar eclipse. and, i have to say, it is worth every bit of effort i made to awaken and whatever lack of sleep i’ll experience later today.

bood mooni’ve heard that it’s sometimes called the “Blood Moon” because of the reddish color it takes on… and now i know why. it’s simply the most gorgeous, essential color. but it’s so much more than that. tonight’s moon is primal, almost painful, in its stark and ethereal beauty as it moves through the branches of the trees above.

before i went to bed i read this great piece about tonight’s full moon - how it’s about letting go of that which is no longer serving us so we can be fully in our power serving humanity and our world. i felt something was important about getting up and bearing witness to this beautiful phenomenon, but i wasn’t sure what. i just knew i needed to be part of it.

but as i sit here outside in the chill night air, wrapped in a little wool blanket with a mug of hot cocoa in my hands, listening to my favorite sound in the whole world - the song of the soft wind dancing in the tall trees here in our little canyon - i realize that the very thing which keeps me moving forward every day and propels me to serve and stand in my power is also the very thing which keeps me utterly separate from everything. when i say, “it’s so beautiful” or “that’s so terrible” or any number of observations my head makes about anything at all, i’ve already assumed i’m separate from it.

there is something opening in my chest as i sit beneath these stars so impossibly far away and these trees so comfortingly close. in this deep darkness, they look equally close. the stars seem so close i could reach out and touch them - like that scene in Contact where she takes off her glove to touch the galaxy above her. there is something letting go in my head as i welcome this closeness, as i feel it not only “out there” but “in here.” these stars know me. i know them. this darkness is not frightening. just the opposite- it is comforting beyond explanation. it’s as comforting as the inside of my heart, as the sacred place i visit in here when i’m in need of reconnecting to myself.

sitting here, still and quiet - in the deep darkness, and soft “shhhhh” of the trees, under the blanket of stars glowing softly above, and the silhouettes of the pines and cedars, and the deep orange glow of the shadow of earth over the moon, i realize that this beauty - this incredible, quieting, deep-breath, muscle-releasing beauty is not separate from me. or, more accurately, i am not separate from it. as i sit here feeling so grateful and so awed by its beauty, i realize that it is me. that i am it. that we are inseparable.

this calming “shhhhh.” these stars, shining brightly and softly as if the sky were a black piece of paper with tiny, perfect holes poked in it by a cosmic pin. these trees, tall and majestic sentinels who have watched over me my entire life. this blood moon, soft and reassuring in her deep knowledge of time and all we’ve been and done. this is not something i stand and comment on like a masterpiece in the Louvre. no, i am in this masterpiece. albeit an integral and infinitesimally small part of it. like the huge tapestries hanging in the cathedrals i love so much in Europe, i am a tiny, momentary thread in the tapestry of life. and, what i am feeling right now - right now - is the deeply humbling and profoundly comforting knowledge that, in simply being - just being - i am expressing my own color in this infinite tapestry.

it brings to mind the saying, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." and i realize that, as humble of a statement that is, it perpetuates separation. it's more like, "there go i." with everyone and everything. there go i... the homeless person on the sidewalk. there go i... the newborn baby. there go i... the terrorist, rapist, murderer. there go i... the nobel prize winner, genius comic, noble saint. there go i... the stars, the trees, the moon.

like this dark orange moon, expressing her unique beauty and offering up the wisdom she has to impart to someone willing to awaken and stand beneath her tonight, i am utterly, intrinsically part of it all. special and beautiful and perfectly placed in the vastness of life. a tiny spark of life with nothing to do other than my part in it all.

so, i go back to bed now, more peaceful and grateful than when i retired a few hours ago. i am bringing this with me into my dreams for the next couple of hours, praying to the Creator of All Life that i may remember this moment as clearly as i feel it now, and bring with me into my coming days, months and years the certainty of how completely insignificant and intrinsic i am to this fabric of beauty we call life.

lunar eclipse

Please note: photos are courtesy of Tonja Peterson, a dear friend and amazing human. Thanks Tonja!

THE BEAUTY OF INSIGNIFICANCE

recently, i was worrying about the fact that i hadn't written a blog in a few weeks when it occurred to me that no one is waiting with baited breath for the next one. sure, i get a comment here or there, but it's rare. to be honest, it felt like a kind of spiritual slap in the face of my self-admittedly large ego.

then, in the next moment, i had this eye-opening realization that i am utterly insignificant. it wasn't a moment of self-pity (nor am i looking for someone to take pity on me now). it was just a very matter-of-fact understanding - more deeply and plainly than ever before - of my utterly complete insignificance. i shared with my husband that it's like seeing, with complete clarity, that i'm simply one tiny little grain of sand on a vast cosmic beach.

earthinmilkywayon one hand, i was kind of thrown for a loop because i know that, at the core of my being, i matter. a lot. we all do. a lot. i mean, that's what my book is all about! that's why i even write these blogs in the first place. sheesh! but, to be totally transparent, a big part of me knows i've spent the last eight years doing all of this to prove to myself how much i matter in order to avoid seeing how completely insignificant i am in the grand scheme of things.

so… here i go yet again, diving in at a deeper level, questioning my entire set of motivations for writing the book, creating the website and being the voice for this message. throwing my battered ego into total panic mode as it grapples with this truth while trying to find my footing on this long, slow climb up "Mt. Awakening." and i am going to finish the book. period.

as you can see, with this kind of realization, it could be easy for me to careen headlong into my bad neighborhood. you know, the part of the mind that loves to criticize, abuse and go to very dark places. and, i tell you, my bad neighborhood has a six-lane entrance, a lot of dark, dirty streets and a teeny tiny one-way alley exit.

but honestly, it was kind of a relief. to know the depth of my insignificance gave me room to breathe and let myself off the hook of over-achievement i've been hanging myself on as long as i can remember.

the truth is, no one else's life, no cause or institution, not even the planet itself is dependent on me contributing to the world because of what i do. actually nothing depends on my contribution in any way, really. the conclusion i'm coming to is that being happy and fulfilled in who i am - doing my best to live out what i’m here to live out, loving everyone as best i can, and creating what i'm creating in any given moment - with as much joy as possible is the best, and only, way for me to participate fully in this experience of being a human.

as i am coming to a deeper, humbling understanding of this realization of my own insignificance, i am finding genuine peace and joy standing in this space. it's quiet here. i have room to breathe and stretch, and grow and read and just hang out and enjoy the beauty of this moment. i have nothing to prove. nowhere to get to. no one to impress. just breathing and standing here.

and dancing… in and out of the peace and worry, the beauty and terror, the sheer humanness of being human. and, most of all, loving. that’s it. plain and simple. i guess in the end, there is only love to be offered and only love to be received. the rest is all window-dressing.

 

in the end

i don't know anything.
 
i don't have any answers.
and the more i seek, the more 
elusive 
they seem to be.
 
i question everything. 
 
i seem to be falling asleep 
far more than i seem to be waking up. 
i worry - almost endlessly - that i'm not doing enough to 
contribute 
to the world. but then i 
stretch myself so thin, i find myself 
exhausted 
by the process.
 
 
 
ok, i know a few things.
 
we each matter. 
and each of us is wholly 
insignificant. 
 
i am learning
to give and receive love in a way i 
never have before.
i'm starting to trust it. 
 
love matters. 
probably more than we care to admit. 
 
in the end, love is all there is
anyway.
 
 
 
maybe that's enough.
 
lovely autumn

bright light and deep darkness… reflections on Robin Williams and more

robin williams

it's 9/11, a day most of us will never forget.

that morning our family was at the San Francisco airport getting ready to put our 15-year-old son onto a plane to Newark, NJ, on the first leg of his year abroad in Spain. needless to say, he didn't board the plane. instead, we sat at a bar near the gate and watched the second plane fly into the World Trade Center, then walked like zombies to our car as the impact of what had just occurred started to hit us. thousands of souls left the earth that morning, leaving gaping holes in the world and initiating this country into that particular territory of fear and violence which so many others know all too well.

one month ago today is also a day many of us will never forget.

that's the day Robin Williams took his own life and left a hole in the world that will never be filled. and, even though it's been over four weeks since, i still find myself bursting into tears at the fact that he felt so alone in some deep, down part of himself despite the abundance of love that was all around him.

and, although there have been some who have criticized Mr. Williams and others who have committed suicide for being "selfish," i see this act as something to be met with the utmost compassion rather than unblinking derision. (thank you, Cheyenne, for posting this very good article about why suicide and depression are not selfish.)

my heart and prayers continue to be with Mr. Williams' children, wife and all of his dear family and friends as they muddle through this most difficult time. may you all know that he was one of the most selfless humans i ever witnessed (in my very limited way) and that his suicide had nothing to do with you. i am so sorry you have had to deal with some who have expressed their wounds in negative ways toward him; but know that they are just working it out in their own, uninformed way.

malcolm x

i guess if there is any gift in Mr. Williams' untimely death, it's the outpouring of press that's bringing his death and this important and serious issue to light with compassion and care and honesty.

i've watched videos like Jimmy Fallon's heartfelt tribute and read achingly beautiful blogs like Rachel Leibrock's in which she captured my sentiments exactly when she wrote, "And then I started crying. Crying because I genuinely loved Williams as an actor and a comedian -- I grew up watching Mork & Mindy. Good Will Hunting is one of my favorite films. Crying because in that moment, I also felt his pain immeasurably. I felt the absence of hope, the absence of faith that life will get better. The absence of any light."

i've read tributes like this one from Bimbo's 365 Club and quotes from the many celebrities who tweeted and posted, like Goldie Hawn "Oh Robin...Our hearts are broken. Rest in peace darling. We loved you." …and Jessica Chastain "Robin Williams changed my life. He was a great actor and a generous person. Through a scholarship, he made it possible for me to graduate college. His generous spirit will forever inspire me to support others as he supported me. He will forever be missed." …and Danny DeVito's heartbreaking, "Heartbroken."

i think it's easier than most of us would care to admit to let ourselves go to that dark place. it sometimes feels as if we're pushing up against something immovable - especially when we're present to this human race and all the messes we've made; what we've done to ourselves, each other and our only home; all the insanity we continue to play out. one thing i know is that suicide is not a selfish act. it is an act born of an illusion that we are separate and alone. it's an act that is often carried out by those of us who are extremely sensitive to what's happening in the world and we feel as if it's just too much for us.

truth be told, i know this territory all too well. i've been there myself. i understand the experience of feeling completely alone - even that the world would be better off without me - when i was in that place. i remember thinking those unshakeable, consuming thoughts and nearly driving off the road one day five years ago. and i remember, and thank God for, my loved ones and friends who gathered around and reminded me that i mattered. if you relate or if you have had or are having thoughts of suicide, i urge you to reach out and get help. that's what saved my life and i'm so glad i did.

when it comes down to it, i truly believe we are all here to shine our light - whether we shine as brightly and humbly and generously as Mr. Williams did all around the world or whether we shine simply and sweetly right in our own backyards. i think the only thing to do is to shine our light, even when we grieve the loss of those we love… maybe especially then. and, although he may have believed in that terrible, critical moment (or for longer than we can imagine) that he was utterly alone and his light was unfixably diminished, may he know, as his soul flies free, that he never was alone and that his light burned brightly until the very end and beyond.

finally, in his daughter Zelda's words, "To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you've had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too."

dear human

Notes from a Recovering Over-Achiever

I'd rather be whole than good

if you really knew me, i was raised as an enabler (check out this really great definition), trying to prove my worthiness by cloaking it in a pretty package of helpfulness, busyness and achievement. in other words, a classic codependent. the thing about this is, i came to identify myself as useful and good because of my helpfulness and achievements rather than being whole and good simply because i exist. and, in the process, i set up myself and everyone around me with this expectation, even at my own expense. can anyone relate to this? it's a habit, once established, that's very hard to break… especially after 52 years.

as i often share with my clients, i've come to see that we all go through cycles of healing and growth, and that, if we allow ourselves to really feel and be present to them, we can come out the other side with more clarity and completeness. well, if you really, really knew me, i've been in the midst of one of those cycles the last few months with no real clarity other than knowing that i've been in nearly constant physical and mental pain and that i need to continue to stay the course with this incredible discomfort. i liken it to being in the "imaginal soup" of a cocoon… you know, no longer a caterpillar (head popped off, body turning to mush) but not yet a butterfly? like, what the hell am i, anyway?

this deep, painful and undeniable letting go of my old self and yet another layer of ego has come up (uhgain!) and i'm just now feeling like i'm coming out the other side.in other words, i've been "in the trenches" this last few months, mucking about in the dark corners of this lifelong dynamic… and it's been humbling to say the least. sometimes more than i wanted.

Metamorphosis - Dongale Studio

it all came to a head one morning a few weeks ago when i woke up in tears and spent pretty much the whole day crying. i was totally unclear about why until i shared with my husband that i was feeling deeply out of place and totally overwhelmed returning home to California after our beautiful trip to Switzerland. as i talked it out, though, i realized a few things:

1.  in Switzerland i had an experience of being wholly accepted by his family for who i was without my having had to do anything to earn that acceptance. they didn't know anything about my work or accomplishments, my efforts and failures, my compulsive over-achieving or my tendency towards almost constantly comparing myself to others who i view as more successful than me. all they knew and experienced was that i love their brother with all my heart, and that i love to laugh and sing, try new things (foods, languages, experiences) and spend time having meaningful conversations.

2. that this inveterate expectation of myself to be everything for everyone began when my mother, whom i loved very much and with whom i had a very codependent relationship, carried me in her womb.

3. that i must diligently work to give up this pattern of expectation if i want to be happy.

having said that, i imagine that you may be thinking, "Well, duh!"… especially since these are things i've been writing about for years. with all honesty, however, i can say that i have been fully, utterly, humbled by this last round of "learning what i teach." i'm so grateful to Jakob for pointing out to me with such compassion that i am creating my own reality, and that maybe - just maybe - i have some attachments i can give up, and for tenderly holding space and time for me to cry and be "in it." in that space, i got to raise my head above it enough to see that it's time to give up possibly the biggest chunk of the identity to which i've clung for nearly 52 years that is clearly not serving me anymore… the need to "make a difference" in the world, the need to be seen.

in other words, it's time to choose being whole rather than good.

i think what's been brewing as i've been swimming in this soupy space between caterpillar and butterfly is that i'm being re-wired to be moved by what's right in front of me rather than my ego-driven visions and plans for the future. to find my authentic rhythm with life and trust that my muse will return if i just give her some space. it's like the Universe has been forcing me to re-evaluate how i'm being in the world, guiding me to look really deeply at myself and urging me to slough off anything that doesn't feel like an absolute "yes." as i've been listening, mostly i've heard, "just be. it's not time yet." so, i've continued watering and weeding the garden, watching my internal responses to the process (comparison, self-doubt, worry and anxiety about not doing enough), breathing and letting go (allowing myself to enjoy this simple life with the love of my life and our family).

and, as much as my ego wants to press forward with all the plans i'd made for myself, i'm giving myself as much time as i need. i'm learning to… unwind the tightly wound springs of a lifetime of doing, unravel and release the threads of voices other the one that says i'm enough just because i am and for no other reason, unbend the shape i'd twisted myself into believing i had to prove myself and achieve anything in order to justify my existence.

it's not an easy journey for a recovering over-achiever, but it is a necessary one.

as my friend Jordanna shared recently, "The more driven we are to do big things in this world, the less we may allow ourselves to slow down and take full advantage of the lessons that are popping up in front of us to learn. Not only do we risk missing out on the sweetness of life and the many glories that can come from it,... we also risk not receiving the full transformation that comes when we slow down long enough to not only get the lesson, but to be our own teachers and take each lesson a few chapters deeper in the book of life."

life has forced my hand. it's slowed me down without question and i'm finally listening.

what i know for sure is… i matter enough to take this time and dive deeply into what is coming forth now as my deeper layer of authentic expression. it is truly a blessing to have this opportunity to do so and i'm excited for what will come of it, even if it's just spending more time planting seeds and harvesting zucchini.

Figures drawing "Metamorphosis" by Don Gale

Occupy Wall St - The Revolution Is Love

by Ian Mackenzie with Charles Eisenstein

This video by my friend Ian Mackenzie features one of the greatest thinkers of our time- Charles Eisenstein. what could be more patriotic than this stand for your country and community? i invite you to sit down and really listen to what he's saying here. Wisdom abounds....