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

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?

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!

 

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!

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

An Opportunity

as we have been working in our garden, my sweetheart Jakob and i have been talking a lot lately about the fact that, as a species, we have an opportunity to evolve to our next possible stage of awakening. this opportunity is urgent, clear and massive. we've already lost so much in making the choices we've made until now. we have lost ancient and deeply wise ways of living, numerous ecosystems, and countless species. we've also been talking about the fact that, if we don't seize this opportunity, we are in danger of losing our connection to what's most important - the very earth which supports the life of every being on it. if we don't seize this opportunity immediately, we may miss it forever. if we don't seize it right now, it may cost us absolutely everything.

what i am talking about is the opportunity to take on, in the most personal and global ways possible, responsibility for our current state of affairs on every level - economic, political, social, spiritual and environmental - by waking up to what we have done, feeling our deepest, scariest feelings about that, choosing to take a different path and creating the new world we all know is possible.

when i'm present to the possibility of this lost opportunity, i feel deeply sad, hopeless and angry all at once. my old fantasy of breaking a box full of dishes against a concrete wall while screaming at the top of my lungs comes back to mind in full force.

10175066_827780840570161_6773105950655030111_n

when i hold the possibility of the opportunity seized, i feel hopeful, excited, deeply grounded, infinitely grateful and calm all at once. kind of like how i feel when i walk outside at dawn and take a slow, deep breath as i listen to the songs of the birds, feel the warmth of the spring breeze and absorb the color of the sky changing before my eyes.

although i am likely preaching to the choir, i will continue to say this at risk of being a broken record:  continuing on the trajectory we have laid for ourselves and our world will bring us to the brink - if not over it - sooner than we think. i believe that we all know, even if we don't want to admit it, that we are at the 11th hour and 59th second of pushing our planet beyond its capacity to hold our species much longer. the stakes are higher than they have ever been. and we are lounging at the table betting on who will win the game.

and, although i don't want to perpetuate the "us and them" story, the players in this game represent a clear dichotomy between the course the world-at-large seems to be setting and the direction in which individuals and local communities are doing their best to point us. it couldn't be more clear, more obvious.

We have now the opportunity to take on in the most personal

governments and corporations (institutions we created or allowed to be created which are now basically indistinguishable) continue to engage in wars and regional conflicts despite global protest, consistently choose fossil fuels over renewable energy at great cost to all in every way, and choose profit over people and planet at every turn. on the other hand, i meet people every day - organic farmers, holistic healers and outspoken poets - here in my rural community and online in communities around the world, who have decided that they are the heroes they have been waiting for. they know that it is up to us to turn things around in the most fundamental ways… like growing our own food from non-GMO seeds, dedicating ourselves to plastic-free lives, and choosing to buy locally over purchasing fake food and mass-produced products from corporate conglomerates that pay their employees just enough to stay trapped in the humiliating and devastating cycle of poverty.

the thing is… this game, if we miss this opportunity, has no winners. let me repeat that. this game has no winners. everyone loses.

so, what is to be done?

as Neo says in the last scene of The Matrix, "…I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you."

i don't have your answers. all i have is what's in front of me, what's here for me to be and do. so, i choose do do my darndest to be a positive contribution for the new world millions of us want to birth. i choose to love our Mother. i choose life.

what do YOU choose in this month of the height of spring, of celebrating mothers? i'd really like to know.

really.

waking up in the Age of Awakening

farm to table photographi'm coming to the realization that the only real power i have is right here, right now. i know… it's something i've been teaching for years. but what i'm realizing, on a deeper level - yet again - is that the best place for me to make my greatest contributions to the world is right here in my own backyard. literally. this looks like growing a garden with non-GMO seeds from our local seed exchange, learning more and more how to live as lightly as possible on the earth (like carpooling with my sweetheart), raising chickens (arriving this weekend- so excited about that!) and contributing to my community in ways that are meaningful to me and hopefully helpful to others. it looks like doing things i love like writing, playing music, teaching workshops, sharing meals with family and friends, and laughing (a lot!). and it looks like opening our home to others who want to share in and co-learn this beautiful, ancient, essential way we are all re-discovering together.

if i were to be perfectly honest, i'd admit that the whole Get That You Matter "thing" started as a book - only a book. all i heard when i first got the message to write it was, "write a book." not "start a global movement" or "create a radio show" or "make a documentary" (although all of those things sound really exciting and tempting). i added all those other ideas over time as my ego got more and more involved in the ever-growing list of things i could do to make this a "really big thing." the truth is, it's the near-constant thinking that i'm not doing enough to make that stuff happen while procrastinating on finishing the book that trips me up every time and wakes me at 3am in a panic on a regular basis. does anyone relate to this?

what i'm realizing is this - it keeps coming back to one word:  simplify.

and this - for an over-achieving, relatively anxious, perfectionistic, recovering people pleaser - is a tall order. i mean, could i get by on checking facebook less than once a day? or stop compulsively signing up for emails about how to market myself bigger and better? or resist signing up for courses on how to make more money doing what i love so i can give more of it away? when i think about letting go of some of the things i could let go of in order to simplify and focus on what's in front of me, it's scary and liberating all at the same time. honestly, though, i can't tell you how much my shoulders drop, my belly softens and my breaths slow and deepen. i get quiet and feel peaceful and calm when i think about my little life "on the farm." the simple truth i'm arriving at is that living a simple life is actually one of the best ways i can contribute to the world.

i mean, if more of us (and by more, i mean millions- maybe even billions) took the time to stop or even slow down for a few minutes and really check in about where we are and what we're doing, we might actually be present. if more of us woke up to the lies we've bought about fulfillment coming from things (the stuff, the money, the cars, the constant barrage of "buy this and feel better"), we'd realize that so much of what we've been indoctrinated with is a lot of smoke and mirrors. if we realized that all that stuff just gets us more stuff, trashes the planet and drives us further away from our hearts and real, meaningful connections with each other, we'd clamor to give away what we don't need to those who could use it. we'd share more- much more. we would empty our costly storage units and tear them down to build community gardens and orchards. we'd end the so-called "demand" for useless little plastic toys and gizmos made in China which only end up in the Pacific Garbage Patch, killing Midway Island seagulls. we'd have dirt under our fingernails instead of acrylic. we'd be grateful to eat what's in season rather than participate in a system which imports pesticide-laden bananas from Ecuador so we can slice them over our genetically-modified cornflakes and antibiotic-riddled fat-free milk.

okay. you get the picture.

Here's the to the simple life

yes it is absolutely critical that we hold corporations (those pesky non-human persons run and maintained by human beings) accountable for their actions (or lack thereof) with protests and petitions and chaining ourselves to machinery. yes it is absolutely critical that we speak out for basic dignity and the rights of child prostitutes in Thailand, suicidal farmers in India, orangutans, polar bears and elephants, the Amazon rainforest and the rights of Nature herself. yes it is important - even critical - that we use the technology we have at hand to make positive impacts, to let our voices be heard and to connect with others around the globe in truly meaningful ways. and… we can do all of that while living simple, earth-honoring lives as unplugged from the machinery and corporatocracy as possible.

perhaps the thing to do is to be willing to tear down the house of cards we all helped to build, piece by piece, while transforming the vast water-sucking lawns around them into food forests maintained by formerly homeless, recovering addicts, ex-CEO's and exiled monks who live in gorgeous tiny houses built from the re-purposed materials of those Towers of Babel we now see were monuments to our own sickness.

perhaps we can sit down together at long farm tables spread with sumptuous feasts grown in those gardens and cooked in solar ovens, then dance to music played on landfill instruments around the bonfires fueled by the millions of boxes of documents we no longer need to hide or maintain and the wood from the warehouses in which we once thought we needed to keep our secrets.

but in order to get there, we are going to have to grieve - long and deep and well - all that we've done and built and ruined and lost in the name of perpetuating the grand illusion that we're separate from each other, our animal and plant companions and the very earth which supports us. only then will we be able to truly live in this beautiful, precious world in a way which sustains us all.

so, here's to the simple life. may enough of us choose to wail, weep, scream, laugh, dance, release, give away, share, re-purpose and create simple lives so we can turn the tide and truly usher in this Age of Awakening.

being vs. doing… part 2

giving up my personal will… ahhhhhhhh!!!

Worry won't stop the bad stuff from happening

wednesday, february 19 2014

i've been up since 3:46. feeling hopeless, less than grateful and slightly numb.

i've been struggling. again. with my spiritual practice. with getting things done. with wondering what i'm missing that is causing my bank account to be at another all-time low. with anxiety (if you really knew me). with pride. with saying what i feel i need to say even when it's f-xx-ing terrifying. like right now.

am i depressed? i don't know.

i'm struggling. yet again. with another cycle of Being vs. Doing… the cycle of staying present one moment enjoying the ride, then flying off the merry-go-round in some version of the past (practiced apart scarcity tale) or future (feeling unsure terrified uncertain restless expecting- ooh! good acronym!) the next.

i'm struggling. with this great urge to WAKE UP - myself, others, the world - to what's going on in the world. to the tragedy of repeated human folly, this broken record of behaviors we seem to be incapable of changing. to my fear that i can't do anything about any of it. to this hopelessness sometimes disguised as cynicism about my government, the corporate machine and about our ability to make a real, lasting shift before it's too late.

i'm struggling. with the fact that i pour my heart into these blogs and hope that someone will comment on them, but when i check for comments, all i see are 2,344 pieces of spam which, although sometimes look like actual comments, turn out to be complete crap. i wonder… am i writing into a black hole? are all these words just my over-active brain on some really great ego-trip thinking that someone else actually cares about the things i care about? is this just a glorified diary minus the miniature lock and teeny tiny key? am i just shouting into the void with a big, colorful yet broken, silent megaphone?

ok. i guess i'm depressed. a little bit. (and indulging in a pretty good-sized pity party.)

maybe the fact that i wake up at least once a week at 3 or 4 in the morning with anxiety - about everything from money to worrying about the elephants to the fact that my to do list seems to be getting longer rather than shorter- has something to do with it. hmmmm….

and, then of course, i worry that, if i post this blog - this one - the confessional about how messy i feel right now, it will be the one that gets more response than the one i worked on so hard about the NSA and our blasé attitude about the fact that we are all being watched by our own government. i keep asking myself, "what's the point of all this writing, anyway?" am i just jerking off publicly? or are these random postings actually helpful to someone else? (i sure hope so.)

to be perfectly honest, i'm struggling with this habitual drive to make a difference in the world and my deep desire to just go work in the garden. i really, truly wonder- what is the best way for me to "be the change" i wish to see in the world? 

option a) make a difference:

strategy… try to make Get That You Matter the global movement i envisioned a few years ago. use my will to "put myself out there" in the biggest way possible. go boldly forth into what i make up would be a more-than-busy schedule of marketing, promotion and sales (gag me!) in a go-go-go frenzy to "make my mark" and get this message out. sell the book on Amazon (booooo!). do the "power woman" thing (i.e. sacrifice my personal relationships, down time and walks in nature) to serve "the greater good" as i sally forth to make real my vision of inspiring millions of people.

outcome… honestly, as much as i know this message is good (maybe even great) and as much as i believe in it (having poured my heart and soul into it for the last 7+ years), whenever i think about what it would take to do this, i want to throw up.

hmmm… is this my resistance? or is it my deep knowing that something is really "off" about this entire approach? i don't know.

option b) work in the garden:

strategy… allow Get That You Matter to grow organically, slowly and locally (kinda like the only food we should be eating). work on a grassroots level. "think globally, act locally." maybe get a job so i don't have to worry about how i'm going to pay next month's bills. trust that it will get to who it needs to get to with word-of-mouth. let someone else do some gentle yet effective marketing (yes!). meditate. pray. write books, blogs and poetry. read good books. grow lettuce and carrots. cultivate my personal relationships. laugh and love with my sweetheart. walk in nature. slow down, knowing that my will is shaky and deceptive at best. use and TRUST Divine Will. serve the "community good" and, if it unfolds naturally, the "greater good" as i sally forth with my journal, computer and pitchfork in hand.

outcome… even though this option is scary for my ego to even consider, whenever i think about it, i breathe more deeply and want to cry.

hmmm… is this my resistance to being "unstoppable"? is it me giving up on my dreams? or is this my deep knowing that something is right on about this approach? i'm 97% sure this is the option to choose.

the trick is… remembering to give up my will, to let the Divine be my guide and to be grateful.

Is This My Resistance To Being Unstoppablei have written about gratitude and all kinds of things to help me remember. and sometimes, i forget. huge chunks of my joy and peace flake off like the Manhattan-sized iceberg that calved off of Antarctica a few weeks ago. sometimes it feels like the surrender, the joy, the gratitude are as slow to grow as glaciers. sometimes it feels like it's right here. like this gorgeous sunrise shining through the window (yes, i've been up since 3:46am.).

i recently saw a couple of posts by two women who are very wise and popular… women i admire for "making it" with their life's passions and, to be perfectly frank, women whom i envy for the same reason. kind of like they inspire me and make me sick all at the same time. (and that is so not about them… i hope some day i have the opportunity to share this with them.)

the first post was on facebook by Lissa Rankin. i really resonated with it because i think that's partly what my struggle is about:  "…the more I deepen on my spiritual path, the more I realize that the very will I've counted on my whole life in order to achieve my goals is sabotaging me. As Adyashanti writes, 'True realization, true enlightenment, comes through a complete relinquishing of personal will- a complete letting go…. By surrendering the illusion of personal will, a whole different state of consciousness is born in us; a rebirth happens.' Imagine that. Rebirth. Resurrection. Surrender... Anthony de Mello said, 'Enlightenment is absolute cooperation with the inevitable.' Wouldn't that be a relief, to finally let go of the handle, stop trying to force your personal will on an uncontrollable universe, and just TRUST?"

after that, i saw this gorgeous piece, "The Initiated Woman," by Danielle LaPorte which sang to my soul, especially this line. "She knows that when people are ready, they’re ready, and they’re never ready before they’re ready. Still, she holds the light for your readiness, because she knows how sweet it is when the time is right." honestly, it made me a bit sad because i don't think i have completed my own initiation. what i mean is, i make up that i haven't yet become as fierce as i may need to be. but, what i know for certain is that we are always ready when we're ready- never a moment before and never a moment too late. i know that, deep in my bones, because what's going on here is that i simply haven't been ready. until this year. and so it all comes back to giving up personal will. i've had moments of that - even months on end - when i let go of all the drive and comparison and surrendered to the moment, to the "inevitable" truth of the Divine, rising up and greeting the day with tears of joy and gratitude. total bliss. but… it seems like every time i'm striving or efforting or wanting to "make it" (whatever the hell that means!), i spiral down into this place. right here.

yes. i'm depressed. today. i've been forgetting that my will is not what matters. i've been forgetting to surrender. i've been forgetting that i matter just because i exist, and that my words are ringing true somewhere - even if it's just in my own heart.

what to do about it?

choose option b.

pray. pray. pray.

drink some more hot cocoa (that always helps).

go pull some weeds.

get busy and write my next blog.

 

or just breathe.

you've got the whole universe in your hands

our wonderfully bold, brilliant friend Ryan Curtis is truly one of the most amazing visionary artists we know. his heart and joy for living are as big as the universe. we're absolutely thrilled to support his fundraiser on indegogo to publish his upcoming children's book, "You've Got the Universe in Your Hands" which ends February 8, 2014. click on this link to watch his wonderful video and consider supporting a children's book with a message whose time has come. if, for some reason, you don't see this until after the campaign ends, please visit his website, AquariusDreams, to support him by purchasing some of his gorgeous greeting cards or one of his amazing paintings. he's also going to have a website where you can pre-order copies of the book; we'll keep you posted.

A Transparency Story: A Human-Being/Doing/Shoulding

There is something bold abouti have a confession to make. i struggle. pretty much every day. with Being. here. now… and Doing. worrying about the future. stuck in the past.

i've thought about this for a long time and realized that, in writing this month's blog about my experience of Being Bold, i need to be completely honest. Back in December, i had intended to write a bunch of blogs ahead of time - you know, get ahead? i was going to write one about other people i admire who have been bold like Edward Snowden and Nelson Mandela, and about things happening in the world that i want to share boldly like the travesties of the Keystone Pipeline and the NSA. But the truth is, i did not feel like writing. Instead i spent my time preparing for the holidays, buying gifts and making plans for wonderful meals with family and friends.

i kept telling myself, "i should be working on my blogs for January, writing the January newsletter and clearing out my email inbox like i promised myself!" Instead i worked on my Getting That You Matter workshop and spent countless hours posting, tweeting and blasting emails to market it… because, if you really knew me, i was terrified that, after all the years of working towards launching my work in the world, no one would show up and i'd be sitting there in a room full of mostly empty seats - ashamed and alone.

What actually happened was amazing – a miracle really! Twenty four – yes, 24 – brave, bold souls took the chance on me and my invitation, and i witnessed a powerful, inspiring, beautiful process of awakening unfold before my eyes. i really can't tell you (because words have been failing me a great deal since the workshop) what a blessing it was, how gratifying it was, what a precious gift it was – to witness that unfolding in each person who hung in there for the ride. i was truly blown away, finding myself in tears many times over the two and a half days, at their courage, willingness and tenacity. it was long, intense and chock full of information. And here's the kicker – here's why i'm writing what I'm writing:  i am coming to a deeper understanding (and i imagine this may be true for some of you, too) of just how much i struggle most of the time with striking that fine balance between Being and Doing.

i guess what makes this blog as bold as it is is that i have to expose the truth of just how great that struggle can be sometimes here in this body. i know, with all my heart, who we Be is what makes the difference – what really makes us matter. And yet, without the doing, nothing will happen to shift us out of the mess we're in – i mean the global mess. Because, if you haven't noticed, we are in a mess - the biggest one we've ever been in as a species. And, the thing is – we've messed it up, not only for ourselves but for countless others on this precious planet. We have forgotten that we are part of this planet. We've been living under the illusion that we are separate from our mother earth. And in doing so, we have allowed ourselves to treat her, our brothers and sisters, each other and ourselves as though we don't matter at all.

The great paradox is that part of what's gotten us into this mess is forgetting who we are – our Being – which has caused us to allow ourselves to do the terrible, mindless things we've done. We have sacrificed who we really are for what we thought we could do. And we are paying a terrible price which is only going to get higher and higher the more we sacrifice our Being on the altar of our Doing.

So, if you really knew me, i struggle every day with how to balance my Being and my Doing. Why am i writing about this now, at the beginning of what promises to be another powerful year? Because i really believe there is something bold about speaking our truth, admitting what goes on "in here" especially when we're driving in circles in the "bad neighborhood" of our stuck thinking when we forget that we are connected to everything.

i realized that i go through cycles… sometimes i feel really grounded in my being and in my deep faith in my connection to God. Other times, i feel so ungrounded and stuck in my doing, flailing around wondering where i "lost" my connection to God. Do you experience that? i make up that most of us do from time to time. So, here's my request. i'd really like to hear your thoughts. What do you struggle with? How do you "should" on yourself? How do you get stuck in your Doing? And how do you reconnect to your Being? I look forward to your comments and stories, and i promise i'll reply. This is an important conversation.

Next time, i'll write about all those big, bold things and people. Today, i get that i matter. Today, i'm really happy to Be here. Today, i hope you are, too.

your life

you think you are separate?you think you are alone? disavow yourself of that hackneyed story. it does not serve your majesty.

there is no way you could be separate. everything you touch touches you. everything you love is longing for you to know you are loved in return.

give up this illusion, this attachment to your pain. it is such a petty reward, too small for your grandeur.

you are so much greater thank the cave in which you believe you are imprisoned.

let go the chains you grip so tightly. they never were shackles. let them fall away and get to the door.

let the light enter your eyes. let it make you shudder at its brilliance. let it melt you to the core as you weep and laugh all at once.

use your feet - crawl if you have to, but get yourself out in the cool air, into the dust and wind. feel the pain of being alive.

and know this - this is your life, and anything other than this is something you never wanted in the first place.

stand in the sun, even if you are blinded. stand in the rain, even if you are drowned. stand in the wind, even if it blows you to shreds. sand in the silence, even if you never hear

anything but your own breathing reminding you that you are part of life, that the darkness was of your own making and this unknowable light is what you really are.

The Courage to Love

what do you love? who do you love? and what does it take to love… to really love - deeply, fully, unabashedly? i'm reading Joanna Macy's and Molly Young Brown's book, Coming Back to Life, in preparation for a workshop i'm doing by Joanna in November, and it has brought up such deep feelings of love for our beautiful world and all of its inhabitants… a love laced with intense grief, despair and anger. a love interwoven with a fierce desire to radicalize my expression of it. a love continually surrendering to trusting the perfection of all that is and all i can be and do to contribute. this is the love of life, the love which wants to protect my children and theirs from all we've created thus far out of our ignorance and greed. this is love born of faith that we are not alone in our striving to create something far better from the ashes of what is dying all around us. this is love willing to lean into the discomfort of taking actions that may be judged as impractical or out-of-the-box. but, as Paul Hawken writes, "At this crucial stage in human history, there is no inconsequential action- only consequential inaction."

Being Love requires the courage to let go of old ideas, beliefs and behaviors - a bold leap from the continent of the known, falling into the wide open vista of the unknown, trusting that our wings grow as we begin to soar. it takes allowing our ideas of who we thought we were to be burned away for who we are ready to be now - again and again and again. in the last month, i've been given a chance to leap from the safety of my comfort zone into loving more fully. it's been vulnerable, raw, wide open, fierce, tender, scary, deep and strong. what i've gained, though, in doing so are invaluable opportunities to give up taking myself so seriously, habits of thought and action that no longer serve me, and multiple layers of pride. it's been exhilarating, demanding and real, and there are many moments when i stand in awe at what has transpired by being willing to take that leap.

like seeds that sprout only in the wake of great infernos, Being Love also requires a tenacious commitment to create ourselves as greater than our circumstances no matter how small we feel. once we reach the shore of that new continent, we stand on fresh earth where we have endless opportunities to co-create even more love. for me, this has deepened my capacity to stand in the face of intensity, doubt and judgment with love and compassion. sometimes that tenacity looks like potent reminders of "i hear you," "i see you" or "you can do it." sometimes it looks like gentle whispers of "i'm right here" or "i've got you." when we courageously commit to Being Love, we remind ourselves and those around us that every one of us has countless opportunities to BE Love in the face of adversity, deepening our experience of transformation and awakening. when we choose to do so with whoever is right in front of us, we can walk through the fire of what seems most challenging, difficult or impossible. we can choose to courageously love our children, parents and other family members, even when we experience them as demanding or unreasonable; the people in our communities, regardless of circumstances; our chosen partners, no matter what.

so i ask you, what does it look like to Be Love courageously? what would it take for you to love boldly? what is it costing you not to? what would you have to give up in order to do so?  what could you embrace? and what would be available to you if you did? whether we are facing outright hatred, global devastation or unfathomable loss, or we're embracing the tenderest of moments of deep connection, when we step into Love, there is no more courageous act and nothing as true and deep. after all, love is what we are. love is all there is.

 

what if we're here to remind each other of who we really are… and what if that, simply, boldly and truly, is Love? as William Carlos Williams expressed so eloquently, "It was the love of love, the love that swallows up all else, a grateful love, a love of nature, of people, of animals, a love engendering gentleness and goodness that moved me and that I saw in you.”

The Courage to Choose

when we choose to live fearlessly, it doesn't mean we're choosing without fear… it means we're choosing to fear less. in other words, when we bring fear with us, we receive its powerful energy as our ally, our friend, and have opportunities to be courageous - to take heart - in the choices we make. and.. we are not alone. there are countless millions around the world who are courageously choosing to live fear-lessly, inspiring others to step up and do the same. in mid-January I boarded a train to San Francisco after spending five wonderful days with my daughter on a trip to southern California where she was going to attend a new college. we had some time on the front end of our trip, so we decided to take the coast highway. we both kept remarking how glad we were that we decided to do that. it was leisurely, beautiful and inspiring, and it gave us time and space to have some wonderfully heartfelt conversations about school, work, the beauty of California, relationships, family and life in general. it was a beautiful journey on the outside, but more importantly, i was inspired by the beauty of her inner journey and proud of her for being so courageous in the face of all the choices in front of her.

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when we arrived at Pitzer College, Jemma realized that she felt less certain about her decision to be there as she had been a few months earlier. and, although we spent three days getting her settled into her dorm, shopping for supplies and visiting with our lovely hosts, this feeling persisted. and, though she felt certain, we decided that i would leave on Sunday, giving her a couple of days to be there on her own and deepen into her decision to stay or not. as I made my way back up the middle of the state, I felt a wave of sadness at leaving my little girl all alone in a faraway place, but i wholeheartedly trusted her capacity to make the right choice for herself.

i am deeply honored she asked to spend that time with me and to witness her process of becoming clearer about who she is and what she wanted. two days after i left, she called another college to which she had applied to inquire if they still had her package available- and they did. so she took the necessary steps to withdraw from Pitzer, packed up her things, drove the 8 hours back to the bay and enrolled the next morning at her new school. inspired by her courage, self-awareness, wisdom and clarity, i learned much from her willingness to live in the mystery of a lot of uncertainty, her ability to listen deeply to her own heart, her courage to change her mind and her capacity to navigate the world with a maturity that is rare and precious. she made the right choice, even though it meant changing her mind and possibly appearing fickle in the eyes of others. she chose courageously and well.

switching train tracks

recently, i've had some opportunities to make my own courageous choices which have helped me grow and learn in ways i didn't realize were available to me. i've had opportunities to lean into discomforts, to question my own motives, to stretch into love and to take an even deeper, more courageous look at who i am and what i'm here for. if you really knew me, you would know that i've often had lofty ideas of making get that you matter a global movement which inspires, informs and ignites millions of people to make their greatest contributions to the world. i've spent countless hours dreaming and scheming about how to make that happen, and what i've come to realize is that i have to reel it back in. i have to get back to the roots of the entire message which was to write a book called Getting That You Matter. that was it. it wasn't "you need to create a global movement" or "you need to inspire millions of people to take action." it was to write the book.

what i'm coming to see is that, in getting back to the basics of this message, in returning to what sang to my heart seven years ago this month, i am courageously choosing to follow this path from a place of what inspires, informs and ignites me rather than from a place of strategizing about what may inspire others to get that they matter. in other words, there is no way for me to share this message without BEing it myself. so, i'm taking a long, hard look at all the ideas i've had, and am giving myself an opportunity to see that the only person i can choose for is myself. although i can - and i do, to the best of my abilities - live from the place of this message being out in the world in a big way, the way to actually allow that to unfold in the best way is to return my attention to the simplicity of it. in doing so, i have yet more opportunities to let go of my attachment to my identity, to step bravely towards love, and to continue to surrender to the moment while standing firm in the bedrock of who i am underneath all of the memories, stories and dreams.

Temple sunrise on the playa

in diving deep into my personal process of surrendering to awakening and letting go of identity (sometimes grieving and celebrating all at once), i am becoming more and more present to the perfect unfolding of it all. in choosing to love wholeheartedly without expectation and to forgive myself and others for choices we've made that weren't always courageous, i'm giving myself repeated opportunities to Be Love. in shedding my old skin for what's to come and trusting that, in balancing what's in front of me with what needs to happen to bring this message to the perfect audience, i am choosing to be the messenger i'm here to be.

as i have told my daughter many times, "it's always okay to change your mind. what matters most is what you think of yourself, not what others think of you." what matters most is that we get that we matter, that we choose courageously for ourselves and live from that place of authenticity. that is the only place from which we can create powerfully.

where in your life are you being courageous? what choices are in front of you that feel stretchy or uncomfortable? are you in a situation in which you need to change your mind, like Ray Anderson of Interface Carpets, in order to bring yourself or your organization into integrity? like this amazing teacher in Washington D.C. or my friend Ian Mackenzie, do you have something you need to speak out about courageously? where are you making fear-less choices? what do you stand for enough, believe in enough, love enough to make a different choice than you're making right now? what choices could you make in order to Be Love over everything else?

Burning Man, part 1: trusting ourselves to heal

Camp Listenthree weeks ago i returned from my first time at Burning Man. what a profound experience. i've actually been finding it very hard to put into sufficient words, but i'll do my best. as i've been writing about my experience, i realized that i was trying to put everything into one blog which turned out to be just "too many notes," as the Emperor told Mozart. what i'm seeing very clearly now is how beautifully what i experienced fits in with our being game for this month - Trust, and with our upcoming theme for October (a little sneak preview) - Courage. so i'm going to divvy it up and share about the two major aspects of my experience separately, knowing of course, that they're inextricably interconnected. thus, i invite you to read on and stay tuned!

my first really great encounter was with two joyfully enthusiastic naked greeters who invited me to ring a huge bell with a big stick in honor of being a Burning Man virgin. i banged the hell out of it… and got a great big cheer from them, a few others and my wonderful companion, Samson. smiling and cheering myself, i knew i was in for a wonderfully new and different experience.

at this point i have to share that Burning Man is guided by 10 principles which every participant is requested to agree to ahead of time and live by while there. when i first read them, i felt like i was reading some of the guiding values of my own life. seeing them lived out with such grace, joy and enthusiasm by the vast majority of the nearly 70,000 participants made me feel like I'd found a second home… as if my personal experience of home - the world i live inside myself, with everyone on the get that you matter team and so many of my global family members on a daily basis - was finally being expressed in physical, external form. it was as if it were no different from how i live my "real" life while at the same time being totally outside of my normal environment of living alone in the middle of the woods. held in the container of these principles and a group of wonderfully loving campmates, i was given the perfect opportunity to surrender to the experience and trust in my ability to navigate daily exposure to extremely loud music, the harshest elements of sun, wind and dust, dehydration and encounters with other humans in a vast array of states of consciousness. on the playa, i got to deepen the connection i regularly feel with others on a daily, even moment-to-moment basis since there was virtually no "down time" except when i crawled, exhausted, into my sleeping bag after long, delicious days of service and surrender.

being in that environment for five days, i had a deeper experience of trust - in myself, others and the experience - as an abiding faith in the essential goodness and benevolence of all creation. i got to see clearly that trust does not equal apathy, and to act from a place of benevolence which had the interest of the greatest good in mind at all times while at the same time caring for myself. it was a constant holding of both the micro and the macro, a relentless giving up of the self for the benefit of the whole, a practice of living in trust.

“Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm; and enthusiasm can be roused by two things: first, an ideal that takes the imagination by storm; second, an intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.” - Arnold Toynbee

as a culture-at-large, we seem to be trusting things to continue the way they have been and not suffer grave consequences. however, at Burning Man, i was blessed to see and experience that the answer lies in creating a balance between trusting the perfection of what's unfolding and trusting ourselves to do what's needed to make the necessary changes. trusting in the future means taking full responsibility for our actions today, right now. in other words, trust and accountability go hand-in-hand. as Joanna Macy wrote, "Which do you choose to put in the foreground: Business As Usual in the industrial growth society? Or The Great Unraveling, as ecosystems and cultures fall apart? Or The Great Turning to a life-sustaining society? Each story is true and happening right now. The question for each of us is which do we choose to identify with and devote ourselves to. The Great Turning, the largest social movement in history, is created by millions of individuals making their own individual choice to act for the sake of life on Earth."

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despite what often seemed like outer appearances to the contrary, it was this commitment to choosing to act for the sake of all life which moved me most deeply at burning man. everywhere i went, i witnessed acts of generosity and care for each other and the planet. i'm absolutely certain that the depth and power of my experience had mostly to do with being part of such a profoundly dedicated, open and loving group of people at Camp Listen. i was continually and profoundly moved and inspired by my campmates' dedication to the Burning Man principles, to our own guidelines, and to connection, selfless service and presence.

if you really knew me,  one of my major concerns (fears, really) in attending Burning Man was that of being overstimulated and ending up in a heap of tears wanting to go home to my quiet little cabin. so when i settled down for a much-needed nap after setting up my tent and was immediately present to the thump!thump! of disco music from a nearby camp, i began to worry. "oh shit," i thought, "here we go." however, the immediate realization that i'd better change my attitude popped in… if i was going to let this get to me, i was looking at the prospect of a 5-day-long bad mood. that was not what i wanted. so, i took a deep breath, said to myself, "bring on the music, the dust and whatever else you have for me!" and chose to trust in whatever the experience brought me. whether, in the words of Rumi's poem "the guest house," it was "a joy, a depression, a meanness" or "a crowd of sorrows,"  i chose,  to "meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in." after that, i had a great nap and didn't need to use my earplugs once during my entire stay.

IMG_5959ultimately, what moved me the most were the experiences and encounters i had with other people at our camp and out on the playa. i was blessed to make some wonderful connections with the people who stopped in for our "open listening" time in the afternoons. they'd wander in after being caught by our "listen" banner and reading our guidelines, then grab some green beads to be "listeners" and usually end up in deep conversations with one of us or someone else who dropped in. many times they ended up switching to the gold beads for "sharers" and having some really cathartic experiences. bonds were made and deepened. opportunities to hold space for peoples' tears, anger and laughter were plentiful. and i got in at least two really delicious naps. there were also beautifully intimate conversations with my campmates each evening after sunset at our "check in" time. we did clearings, shared what we love about life, did a laughing/crying/silent meditation, and had a puppy pile slumber party. it was wonderful to know, with every fibre of my being, i could trust them completely with my most intimate thoughts and feelings, regardless of what they were.

 

the trust which deepened and grew at camp went with me as i ventured out on the Playa encountering inspiring people like Manuel, a young man i met at the Man Burn, whose enthusiasm and joy were simply irresistible. he was so alive and vibrant, yet there was something in him that belied an unspoken depth. so i asked him my favorite question, "What do you want to be acknowledged for?" it took him by surprise but he immediately got vulnerable and answered, "for being happy even though I've seen a lot of shit." in that moment, i felt like the most privileged woman in the world having been let into the heart and soul of this young man whose story i could only begin to imagine. i looked him square in the eyes, held his hands in mine and said, "Thank you for choosing joy even though you've seen and experienced so much… thank you for being courageous enough to keep BEing Love and for trusting that we are all One." i don't honestly remember exactly what we said after that, but he burst into tears, gave me the most heartfelt hug, and shared that he's never felt as seen as he did in that moment and that he didn't remember the last time he'd cried in front of someone. we must have stood there embracing for at least ten minutes as waves of tears, laughter and smiles moved through him in that deep recognition of the power of love and connection which crosses all borders, genders and ages. it was so simple and so beautiful… one human soul acknowledging another human soul - this young man allowing himself to be loved and seen, me moved to my core by the beauty in front of me, two souls remembering that they are not separate at all. i will never forget Manuel as long as i live.

"In the Buddha Dharma... there’s a word for the motivation to act for the sake of all beings. It is bodhichitta. It is the intention generated by the bodhisattva, who is the one who knows we are not separate from each other, but are held, as Martin Luther King put it, in 'an inescapable network of mutuality.'… To step aside from our usual identity and speak for another life form, or for a person of the future, immediately opens up the horizons of our self-interest. Care for the welfare of even distant others then feels natural, strong, and so obvious it’s easy. So, when by our moral imagination we make future generations present to our minds, they teach us bodhichitta, strengthening us to act for the ongoingness of life on Earth." - Joanna Macy

after the Man Burn, i made my first solo venture on the Playa to make my way to the temple. although i'd spent my first three and a half days near camp or in the city (except for a wonderful bike ride to "Deep Playa" with my friend Owen - which was a delight in itself, since i hadn't seen him in years and we had some catching up to do), i felt utterly safe, completely confident in my ability to find the Temple (even though it was dark, windy and dusty) and profoundly peaceful. after a bit of a detour, i began to walk the promenade leading to the Temple. shortly after that, the wind became a white-out in which i could see nothing further than my outstretched arm. it was actually exhilarating to surrender to my intuition in that way, trusting that if i kept walking and trusting my feet, they would get me where i was going. and they did. the temple was stunningly beautiful that night and i'm so glad i went.

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there was the opportunity at dawn on sunday morning to sit with a beautiful young man as he knelt on the ground of the temple, weeping into his hands. what touched my heart more than anything was the innate trust he had in his own ability to move through where he was in that moment to the other side. i didn't need to know his story, nor did i ask. there was simply the beautiful gift of being able to witness him, love him and wish him well when we shared an embrace twenty minutes later. he was such a beautiful example of what it is to trust our innate ability to heal ourselves.

the funny thing is, i hardly wrote a word while i was there, but the only entry from my journal seems to sum it all up:

healing is not about turning our lives over to someone else to do it for us. it's about reconnecting to, re-membering our own innate, perfect and complete capacity to heal ourselves. it's about getting out of our own ways enough to let our Divinity - our Divine Birthright to Creating - which allows us to be active participants/creators of our own healing. consider that, if nothing is broken and if nothing needs to be fixed, the only thing to do is Affirm Wholeness. 

so, keep receiving - let yourself be held, loved and touched. let yourself be filled up with the love of "others" - the love you share with them. you don't actually have to ask for it. in your giving, you are opening the door for receiving… let yourself give fully and completely, and watch what happens. the basis/premise of this place is founded on the principles of your life… this can be translated - and you must also live in the "real" world when you return…. There is nothing that cannot be healed with the strong intention and utter belief/knowing/faith that wholeness is affirmed.

that's what i trust. that and that we are doing what needs to be done.

what do you trust?

A commitment to Something Greater

razor wirewhatever is is you think you are committed to - think again. i invite you to take a long, easy (not hard… and maybe not even long!) look at what you think you're committed to. is it aligned with who you really are? or is it born out of fear of any number of things… fear of being seen or heard? fear of not being seen or heard? fear of being alone or not belonging? fear of being smothered or over-stimulated? what are you afraid of or for?

the answers to these questions are very important for they inform you, they let you know where your true commitments lie in relationship to where you are right now.  if you're afraid of not having enough (money, love, support…), how rooted in what is real and true is that commitment? if you're afraid of losing something (a relationship, a home…), how does that feed your commitment in that situation? if you're afraid of taking responsibility (by saying "yes" or "no"), what kind of fruit will that bear for you? in other words, how solid and lasting is it?

consider that anything - any commitment - born out of anything other than Love is actually not sustaining or sustainable. and consider that anything else is simply fear-based and will not last. Love is the only sustaining thing there is, the only constant, in this world - and anything born out of anything other than Love will perish.

i've spoken with many people who are having life-changing experiences this year - break-ups, marriages, deaths, births, loss of their homes. these are the events that shake up our old habits and patterns of belief and behavior. this year feels potent and powerful because it is. this is the year of choices, of choosing what we are committed to on the deepest level, and who we are committed to Being. i don't mean to sound apocalyptic or woo-woo or like anything other than an invitation (and if i do, well- there it is!). but this is a rare opportunity to look - really look - at your life and seize the moments that are right in front of you.

you get to choose. even if the choices seem scary or insurmountable, or if you have to let go of what you thought was true for you. this now moment is the point of power.

what will you choose?

and consider that if you've been fighting for or against anything - or you've been marching or protesting or lobbying or working in any way that is for the greater good from a place of anger, frustration or blame, you may want to revisit why you are doing it that way. anything we do that is born out of this place or motivation is only continuing the struggle. consider that the only way to solve any of these issues is to move toward, to remember that we are all reflections of the Oneness, and that anything else is simply an illusion. the separation, hatred, fear-based media messages, war, surveillance... the anger, bigotry, racism, or violence against women, animals or anyone else, is all just a forgetting of who we really are. the ego wants to have anything to hold onto to maintain this illusion because, if there isn't any separation, there's nothing to fear or protect ourselves from other than our own thoughts. in other words, it would be out of a job! what would it do then? i imagine you may be laughing like me, but this is actually a very compassionate question… what then must it do?

i think i may have an answer… or at least a possibility.

bumble bee

what if the ego's job now is to help build the new world? what if, in other words, we get to be the good parents to our egos (like i write about in my upcoming book Getting That You Matter) and guide and re-train them into helping us build this bridge, grow the connections, create the new communities and technologies that are ushering in this new time, this new age?

the trick is to meet people right where they are and simply BE Love. we know where fighting and protesting get us - that is old paradigm thinking and behaving. this is not to say that pointing out the fallacies of the many ways the ego is showing up at this time isn't important. but we must always start with ourselves. always. as Jesus Christ is quoted as saying, "first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

this isn't even about survival. it's so much bigger than that. it's about being who we really are and living from that place. seeing that there is nothing that separates us from bees and bombs, bullies and butterflies, machetes and mothers, from acts of violence and acts of compassion. it is all us.

when we can truly see that, we can make clear, conscious choices to commit to waking up… together. it's not out there. it all starts right here, with each of us.

what are you committed to?

If you really knew me

to be perfectly transparent (in honor of this month's Being Game), i'm in a quandary. this month, i feel pulled to write about so many things… there is so much to be transparent about! so, instead of focusing on one thing, i decided to make a list of the things (some are long enough to be blogs in themselves, some are just one-liners) that go through my mind and heart on a regular - sometimes even daily - basis, just to let you into my world a little more. so, without further ado, if you really knew me, you would know that…

  • i'm experimenting with using no capitals when i write - just to see how it feels. kinda fun. i like it, especially using "i" instead of "I" when i write about myself.
  • i think, cry and rage about tragedies like what happened to Treyvon Martin and the sad truth that we are still a deeply racist country. i often feel confounded that, although it was born out of a deep desire to create freedom for all by escaping the tyranny of oppression in England, our country has repeated history by continuing to allow racism to run rampant within its borders. i remember when i was in junior college, i briefly dated a young man who was African American. he was one of at most a handful of black people on campus and he was one of the most cheerful, outgoing people i had met there. when he told me a story of being run out of my home town at the end of a rifle one day when he was there for a basketball tournament, i felt deeply ashamed of my community and that this kind of appalling behavior was still going on. that was over 30 years ago. sadly, we still have a long way to go.
  • i love spending time with my extended family, and notice how easily i can still get triggered by others' behaviors (far less than i used to, but still…argh…). someone told me that the Dalai Lama once said something like, "If you want to test your enlightenment, spend a week with your family." ah yes… well, i must not be enlightened yet! what i'm realizing, though, is that the anger i feel is actually awesome because it's connected to a growing fierceness, like a mama bear, that's simply not willing to put up with bullshit anymore. it doesn't mean i have to be angry at my (usually male) relatives forever, but that i can express it honestly and with ferocity as a powerful stand for and with the oppressed feminine. it actually feels good - a bit awkward, but definitely empowering!
  • an intense gratitude washes over me at least once a week at the beauty of where i live… sometimes followed by a pang of guilt that it's indelibly linked to the privilege i have by virtue of being born into a family that allows me to live here. but mostly i feel really grateful. (here's a photo of our small pond so you can get a sense of it.)

Ranch Landscapes

  • this story brought me to tears of gratitude and hope… i feel so inspired by these two courageous young men and the woman who couldn't walk away. as Adam Mordecai, the gentleman who shared it, wrote, "and remember not to take things for granted."
  • i wish there was a way to encourage every single home owner or person with at least a small plot of soil nearby to wage the most powerful revolution we could ever imagine right from our own backyards by growing our own food, participating in a community garden, or at least shopping as exclusively as possible at local farmers markets (inquiring kindly about their practices, and buying things like grains and beans at locally-owned grocery stores they can trust - hopefully, cooperatively owned, like Rainbow Grocery in SF). i truly believe one of the most patriotic things we could do as individuals, families and communities, is to reclaim the Victory Garden movement (here's a photo of my teeny, tiny attempt at a garden). If we all did it, that would be a real statement, eh?!?!

barn apt outside

  • i don't buy anything packaged hardly at all anymore (it's very, very rare). i make as much of my own stuff as possible (i.e. fermented foods, nutmilks, etc.). it's meant a real commitment to adjusting my eating habits and to being willing to give up eating whatever i want whenever i want, but it's do-able and far more sustainable/ethical in my book. i also store all of my food in glass jars, for the most part, thus avoiding the use of plastic as much as possible. my belief is that the best way to change the big picture is to do so right here at home. if we all changed our purchasing, eating and storage habits in simple ways, Monsanto (for example) would crumble to its knees... and... it will take a real, concerted commitment on each of our parts.
  • i'm in a constant dilemma about stepping more fully into what i'm here for by being of service to the world "out there," traveling to far away places versus the longing to stay tucked away in the woods and dig in more deeply to this wonderful community.
  • i just watched Avatar for the third time in less than two weeks (yeah, i know, i'm kind of a movie nerd - i even watched the special features a couple of times). this movie, along with the matrix and a few others, is, in my humble opinion, one of the movies that needs to be seen in every middle- and high school classroom in the U.S. although i've heard (and don't necessarily disagree with) many criticisms of how it's just an alien version of Dances WIth Wolves and perpetuates a lot of stereotypes , Avatar is one of the most powerful platforms for some of the most important conversations students will ever have in their young lives. this message is so profound, i can't help but offer a few lines from Jake Sully as he undergoes a profound and life-changing transformation from an apathetic paraplegic ex-Marine to a caring strong, awakening Avatar:
    • "This is how it's done. When people are sitting on shit that you want, you make them your enemy. Then you justify the taking."
    • "If you're there, I need to give you a heads up…. see the world we come from. There's no green there. They killed their mother, and they're going to do the same here…. You chose me for something. I will stand and fight. You know I will, but I need a little help here."
    • "The Sky People have sent us a message that they can take whatever they want and no one can stop them. But we will send them a message…. We will show the Sky People that they cannot take whatever they want, and that this, this is our land."
    • "Everything is backwards now… like out there [the Navi world] is the true world and in here [the human world] is the dream."
    • "They're not going to give up their home. They're not going to make a deal. For what? A light beer? And blue jeans? There's nothing that we have that they want.
  • i really encourage you to watch it if you haven't lately. with an open mind and an open heart, and see if you don't feel moved to do even one small thing differently in your life.
  • i wholeheartedly agree with this line from Avatar… "All energy is only borrowed… one day you have to give it back."
  • i am appalled (to put it very mildly) at the absolute short-sightedness (to put it extremely mildly) of "projects" like the XL pipeline here in North America and the Belo Monte dam in Brazil. sometimes i ask myself, in my moments of despair and exasperation, "When will we f-ing wake up?!?!?!" Then I hear Sigourney Weaver say (in a documentary about James Cameron's trip to Brazil in 2010), "Brazil has a plan for 60 dams all over the Amazon…. It's terrible to sacrifice these people, this river and this country's riches and the rainforest… for a little bit of electricity that's not even efficient," and say to myself, as my friend Shanan coined, "we need to wake up sheeple!"
  • i will continue to share this quote by Paul Hawken as long as necessary, "If you look at the science that describes what is happening on earth today and aren't pessimistic, you don't have the correct data. If you meet the people in this unnamed movement and aren't optimistic, you haven't got a heart." (Blessed Unrest)
  • i've been doing a lot of deep thinking, writing, meditating, pondering… and, i have to say, something is shifting in this mind and heart. i feel as if i am waking up on a whole new level. i don't feel any less passionate about these things i spoke about above, but i do feel as if there is something fundamentally shifting in how i attach to my ideas of right and wrong. although i feel very strongly about many issues (as you can see- and this is just the tip of the iceberg!), what i'm finding is that a deep peace is growing inside, which, if were perfectly transparent, i would say could border on denial but doesn't because i still feel outraged and grief-stricken by so much of what happens in our world on a regular basis. as Grace said in Avatar, "The wealth of this world isn't in the ground. It's all around us. The Navi know that and they are fighting to defend it. If you want to share this world with them, you need to understand them." maybe that's what's going on - i'm trying to understand this planet and it's inhabitants on a level i never have before.
  • i hold a weekly (unless i'm out of town) meditation group at my house and nobody has shown up the last 3 times. sometimes i feel sad about it, but mostly i just go with the flow and trust that folks will eventually start showing up… or not. i'm committed to holding this space for my community, and that feels like the most important thing.
  • this sunday evening i invited everyone in that group to come to our beautiful meadow and meditate with the full moon… it was absolutely gorgeous. and no one showed up. as i sat there feeling quite content and just a smidgen lonely, i realized that i have a really deep longing for someone besides God with whom to watch the moon rise….

so, here's to moonrises, anger, passion, trust, truth and faith, among many other things… here's to you, me and all of us getting that we matter enough to stand up and be a voice for change, for the new world we are birthing right now… and, above all else, here's to Love. to close with a quote from Avatar, "Our great mother does not take sides…. She protects only the balance of life." thank you for indulging me this week.

i'd really love to know… what do you think about on a daily basis? what angers you, inspires you, brings you to tears? what would we know if we really knew you?  your turn!

Transparency and patriotism… an open letter to President Barack Obama

Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama-

In honor of the Sacred Commerce communication tools I teach and do my best to live, I am writing you today to apologize. I have not been an involved citizen by holding you accountable to what you have said you are committed to creating during your presidency, such as closing Guantanemo Bay, ending our wars overseas, strengthening gun control and working tirelessly for stronger policies to fight climate change. I apologize for not writing to you to speak to my deep concern when I heard about the tragic prosecution of courageous young men like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden and the continuing threat from corporate entities like Monsanto. I am not committed to giving you an experience of feeling unsupported and alone in the daunting task of doing what's right for the whole. What you can count on me for is to do my utmost to communicate with you personally, to support you in being a strong voice for the rights of our planet and its inhabitants, and to speak out publicly about issues which are important to me as often as I possibly can.

In December, 2009, I wrote the following words, which are just as pertinent now as they were then:

I campaigned for you and was elated when you were elected. You were the very first President I have ever voted for because I wanted to vote for you, rather than voting for the lesser of two evils. However, I'm also a realist and understand that, no matter how much you may have wanted to move this country forward towards real, lasting, positive change, it takes time. You have said so yourself... and you are right. I continue to believe in you, Mr. President, and pray... that you find the strength to stand by your values and convictions, that you remember why we voted for you, and that you remember the legacy you are leaving your two beautiful daughters, my children and children everywhere. You have the power and opportunity to do so much good.

As I wrote in a November 20, 2008 blog:

For the first time in my adult life, I feel a growing sense of patriotism. According to the dictionary, patriotism is "a pride in or devotion to the country somebody was born in or is a citizen of," and by that definition, I do feel patriotic. I feel proud of this country and devoted to it in a way I never have before. And this patriotism stems not from a feeling of panic, desperation or hopelessness, but rather from a feeling of hope. For the first time in my life - the first time  - I feel invited by the person in the highest office in our country to participate in the process of Democracy, and I am willing to do whatever I need to step up to that invitation….

I've heard some people say that it's up to the government to take care of us - we pay taxes for that, we should be able to trust the people we elect to do their jobs so we don't have to be a watchdog over them. After having given it some thought, what I have to say to those folks is, "Has that worked in the past? Has it worked for us to not take responsibility for the things we want to see done? Has it worked to trust our politicians [and the corporate entities which are so deeply embedded in our government] to take care of things for us?"

We have an opportunity now - a great  opportunity - to participate in this process called Democracy. If we care about an issue, we need to make sure that we take personal responsibility for making it happen, or at least do everything we can so we know we gave it our best…. There is no excuse - if you think you have elected someone to do a job for you, think again.

We face unprecedented challenges, not only here but around the globe, and it would be foolish of us to think that, simply because we have elected someone who stands for change and creative solutions, we can sit back and relax. On the contrary, having elected a new leader who has clearly spoken out and asked the people of this country to participate. It is time for us to step up more than we ever have before. This choice that the people of our country have made is a clarion call for change, for a radical paradigm shift and most especially for responsibility…. We have an opportunity to recreate a true democracy. I believe the founding fathers and mothers of this country fought for that - for everyone to have a voice, a say, in what happens on every level. This creates true accountability in our government. That is what President Elect Obama is saying, "Work with me. Let's do this together."

And a year later in my blog on November 2, 2009:

I was simply so relieved and thrilled at having such an incredibly down-to-earth, well-spoken, visionary leader in the White House, I forgot that it was all of us (well, the majority of us) who put him there. I was so ready for a change, I forgot I had a responsibility to be part of it.

Because the truth is, no matter how much some may want to blame him and his administration for the various messes we're in right now – our national health care travesty, the real, horrible and deepening chasms in our own country between the "haves" and the "have nots," and the greatest challenge of our time, the global climate crisis - we can't blame anyone but ourselves. We are collectively responsible. All of these things started a very long time ago and we chose to ignore the signs and keep living as if everything was just fine….

Because we are the one species who has caused the most damage to this precious planet, we must be the ones to take responsibility for it. Personally. We can no longer afford to ignore the fact that every decision we make has a great affect on everything around us. And because the U.S. is the most privileged nation on the planet (and the one with the greatest environmental impact), we have the greatest responsibility to do our part. With privilege comes great responsibility.

No one, not even the President, is going to rescue us from these things that cause pain or suffering, No one has a magic wand to wave over our lives or the planet to "make it all better." There are no band-aids big enough for the wounds we've created. The only solution is serious, concerted effort to do our part. As my friend Yvonne St. John-Dutra says, "We are the heroes we've been waiting for."

Thank you, Mr. President, for having the courage to speak out boldly in favor of our environment by stating that the Keystone pipeline could only be approved if the project doesn’t "significantly exacerbate the climate problem" and speaking in favor of fossil fuel divestment. Thank you for having the courage to even take on this monumental task in the first place…. And remember, that we, the millions who voted for you, are here for you, to stand by the words you spoke so eloquently during your campaign, and to work by your side to make sure we give every American and every global citizen, for that matter, a fair, fighting chance for a thriving, sustainable life.

What I leave you with is this:  What requests do you have of me, a citizen of this country, to do even more to support you and to help restore Love to the world?

I very much look forward to hearing them and will do my utmost to honor them.

With deepest respect, utmost gratitude and abundant blessings,

Erin Ross

howl, too... for Uncle Bob

Dear Uncle Bob- It's been ten years since you died on Valentine's Day, 2003... two years after your sister, my mom, died on the Ides of March, 2001. The eldest and youngest of four phenomenal siblings. You were a true blessing after mom died, really stepping in and being there for me during the most difficult time of my life.

We had a little gathering a few days ago to celebrate you - your kids, three of your grandchildren, aunt Dorothy, uncle David and myself - sharing stories and poems and songs. And what was most evident in the celebration was that, in everything you did as a father, professor, friend, uncle, brother, partner, person, you always walked the world with love. You most definitely didn't end up "simply having visited this world," as your favorite poet Mary Oliver wrote so eloquently in, "When Death Comes."

I've been trying to think of what to write about you that would be fitting for such an extraordinary person who made such an indelible, positive, loving mark on the world. Honestly I haven't been able to come up with anything that feels right. However, I realized that a poem I wrote back in 2007 felt good to share. I wrote it after hearing uncle David read Allen Ginsberg's epic poem "Howl" to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its First Amendment verdict. I was so moved I had to go home early and write, write, write. And this is what I came up with. Even though it's a few years hence, Uncle Bob, I hope you enjoy it, wherever you are.

Remember, you were - and still are - a walking vision of light and love.

with love always, erin

howl, too
this is no mere frustration.
this is
an Epic Love Poem- to the soul, the human soul, the baby soul, the old soul,
the soul of the earth, the bees, the elephants and the air.
no mere CRY in the NIGHT, no little growl howl
but world-wrenching, corporate-personhood-smashing, boot-in-the-wall
PRIMAL SCREAM
of Love howl
this is a poem of LOVE
of the biggest deepest hardest angriest fiercest heaviest kindest inyourfacest rawest softest slammingest kind of love there is
a punk rock death metal screamatthetopofyourlungsdrumsmashingskywrenchingguitarscreamendlessrant
of Love
a poem of Love so BIG so DEEP and so ANGUISHED because I can’t keep ANY of it OUT,
it ALL gets in
a heart like a radar dish – no filter, no walls, no way to sift the goodbadlightdarkrightwrongbeautifuluglyspiritualmaterialallnothing
it all gets in and works works WORKS the mind the heart the psyche
no wonder we drinkshootupworklikefiendspoppillsfuckstrangerscutburn
shopshopshop watch endless hours of crap on tv,
ads designed to numb the critical thinking process so we will continue to drinkshootupworklikefiendspoppills
shopshopshop
IT HURTS
loving so much
we howl at ALL of it, helpless to help
whatdowedonext? whatdoidonext? what do I do?
listen, in wonder, in awe, in complete and total empathy
watch, with love, admiration, aching for more
germinate, conceive, build, design, scheme, domylittletinybestpart
to expresssharegivedobe LOVE
for the ones whose hearts are SO BIG they can’t stand it
for those whose eyes see but who don’t know how to speak the visions
the endless visions of wracking pain around every corner everywhere we walk
the waitress working her second job at the Made-Rite raising two boys all alone with NO FUCKING TIP from mrs. new york senator
the polar bear swimming swimming swimming to find a chunk of melting ice on which to rest his beautiful white fragile body
the boy who is so fucking sensitive he writes words in his arm with a needle so he doesn’t have to feel the pain of simply being ALIVE in a place where he can NOT be himself without ridicule or neglect
the girl who sits in her English class listening to poetry written by white people about something she cannot even RELATE to because she has NO IDEA how she’s going to get enough money to feed herself and her baby
the trees that lay dying in a pile in a patchwork of bare brown earth, weeping pitch, weeping unheard cries of anguish at the emptiness of the machinery       the machinery
the mother who watches her child of five hit over 100 on the scale and wonders why
and doesn’t get it
the children who get suspended for standing up for themselves because they’re black in a southern school and we’re still living in a fuckedupracistcountry
the boy who wears wristbands not because he is on the basketball team but to cover three clean lines attempting unsuccessfully to end it all it hurts so much
the girl who says, “sure” to a bump of meth because there’s nothing better to do on a long, long bus ride
luckyluckylucky
the teachersartistswaitressespoetsprofessorswriterscounselorstruckdriversactivists tourguidesstudentswindowwashersfarmershousecleanersbeggarspeoplehumanbeings
people people people
who love care anguish cry wail weep grieve rant listen hold and say nothing
people are dying, dying
while i sit here and listen and be MOVED
in the comfort of my (mostly) very white privilege
we are ALL hypocrites
i drive home in my car burning the skeletons of ancient leaves and creatures
crying weeping for the loss of them all
for the loss of innocence
while little black boys high on godknowswhat with nicknames like babykiller and slash watch their own sisters aunties and cousins in sierra leone being raped by their new “fathers” and then chop off their arms laughing empty haunted laughter
in voices much too old for their years
while men and women in suits and hose negotiate lives like car deals and our government vetoes a good bill because it’s too expensive while starting a war that costs more than that every month… and that’s only the cost in dollars…
while factories that make endless useless plastictoysgamesgadgetshouseholdgoods spill sludge into rivers that once ran wild and are now thick ponds of oilygunkfishfloatingbirdssinkingtreesleaningsmelllikesewer all the time
while girls walk runways dying for beauty sell their souls for fifteen minutes of fame and lend their names to beautyproductsdrugsforsexplasticbodyparts and what? a grape and a glass of Perrier
while we all watch and ask who started this motherfucking (and I mean that literally) corporatebullshit earthraping childripping capitalistmindfuckcrap
while it snows in summer, rains in the desert, currents reverse themselves
while we call freedom dying for our country in a war that has nothing to do with freedom
while we watch and do as much as we can but not nearly enough and it goes on and on, dries up the aral sea, kills the oaks, burns our skin, irradiates nevada, turns rice fields into mine fields, blows away the topsoil, sucks the life out of every place that has life left
and yet
i am with you in the cutting of your belly to remove the cancerous growth that would have you for itself and the healing of the deep scars and the courage fighting and no giving up
i am with you in the depth of darkness of the loss of one most dear, of the howlhowl mothermoan cry “where is she now? i don’t know what to do” where is the ceiling of my house?
where are the arms that used to hold me?
i am with you in the searing jagged edged cut of yet another loss of one so dear, the patriarchwatcherpeacemakerwriterunclebrotherfather
we all loved so much
i am with those souls flying down from hundreds of feet above, standing on the sidewalk, ground zero, weeping at the only thing left from a day’s tragedy, a set of stairs, the voices screaming, the people running down one another to get away from the terror, the terror
i more than ache
i am with you in your last hour of life, after years of suffering, of the bruises, the lesions, the stigma, the stench, the honor, the fight, the “oh mary’s”
and you were loved
i am with you as you lay dying in a hospital in burma from internal bleeding no one could detect because they made you swallow glass and sent you home
you had no useful information
i am with you as you walk the streets in capetown surrounded by black boys who are there to protect you and I am there with them, too, for they need mothers and fathers and aunties and uncles to
sweep them into their arms
i am with you as you take your last few breaths, allowing me the deepest honor of stroking your beautiful wild head without fear of being bitten
you trusted me
and i thank you for that
i am with you in the middle of the night, screaming screaming with no help, holding you tight and swearing i’ll never let you go even when it’s so so hard to bear the ferocity of angerpassionconfusion, the torture in your fragile mind honing you to a fine point of
awareness
and understanding.
i am with you always, even when you are in Africa, in Cambodia, in Guatemala, homesick in Salamanca, in the depths of despair in your own room, alonealone
wherever you are i am there i am here i am always here
and so
it is holy
all of it holy holy holy holy holy
i am a walking vision of love and light and reclamation
of what could be what has been what is
and what has yet to be
there is a choice
immediateontheedge of a knife westand
on the edge of a knife we
live
and it is holy
no other place is as holy as this moment
and this moment
and this moment
grateful grateful grateful
remember this
remember
you are a walking vision of love and light and reclamation
of what could be what has been what is
and what has yet to be
there is nootherchoice but to dowhatwehavetodo
whatever
that is
and it is holy
no other time is as holy as this place
and right here
and right here
gratefulgrateful
remember this
we are walking visions of love and light and reclamation
of what could be what has been what is
and what has yet to be

 

and it is holy

 

Community and Communication… Creating Common Ground

talkingcircleSince this month's Being Game is Community, I've been doing a lot of pondering about what it means, how it works (and doesn't work), and what's required to create workable community. And, in musing on the various permutations of this subject, I've come to the conclusion that the real strength in any given community lies in its ability to communicate. Both the words "community" (a group of people or society as a whole) and "communicate" (to make known or express oneself in such a way that one is readily and clearly understood) stem from the Latin "communis" which means "common," which includes such definitions as "shared by all alike," "pertaining to the community as a whole" and "prevalent or general." Thus, consider that our communication is the common ground of our community; it is the place in which we meet, exchange and grow.

Whether the community is a couple, a family, a classroom, an organization, business or nation; if our communication is healthy and clear, our community is thriving.

The reason this all came up is that I've witnessed some communications in my own extended family that have been, in my experience, challenging and, truth be told, even painful. And… I've held my tongue because I didn't want to make waves. I'm not saying that's the best strategy… it's been my safe (safe equaling sedative) strategy, so I don't have to deal with the various "cans of worms" (my interpretation) I see sitting on the table. However, the problem in that strategy is that it also leaves a great big pink elephant sitting on the table amidst those cans, very likely to be too heavy for the table to withstand the pressure and, thus, break under the weight of the unspoken.

I have wrestled with my conscience about how much to say about all of this, but have come to the conclusion that, as the "Communications Manager" for our family, it is my duty to step out of my "safety zone," speak my truth and open the floor for what I hope will be deeper dialogue.

With that, I offer an excerpt from a letter I recently sent to my family (names and specific detailes removed) in the hopes that it encourages some of you who wrestle with the communications in your family, since this is where it all begins, and to learn the tools that can help in beginning to open, and even repair, the relationships that are the most critical ones we have.

 

Dear family-

I notice how easy it for me (as a human being) to be attached to a position of "being right" about many issues, especially with all that is happening in the world, locally and globally. What I have come to experience and trust, however, is that when I am attached, I diminish my ability to consider other points of view with an open mind and heart. This isn't to say that it's not important to have convictions and values, or to set clear boundaries on what is acceptable or not. I also know that I don't often do as good a job as I intend (it's a work in progress), but I do believe it is vitally important to listen- really listen, with interest and curiosity- to what others have to say to the best of my ability in any given moment. 

I give myself the experience that I hear a lot of “being right” and attachment to positions in the exchanges between some of our family members. All I can say is, as challenging as it can be sometimes, I've experienced that, when I allow myself to loosen the grip of my attachment to my position, I am more open to hearing ideas and solutions that are actually more beneficial for the greater good, even if I thought I had the best interest of the greater good in mind all along. In other words, I consider that the best solutions usually arise from humble and open-hearted dialogue. 

What this boils down to is an invitation to all of us (myself included) – whether or not we've been in the middle of these conversations or sitting on the sidelines patiently watching – to...

… speak and act with as much compassion, humility and love as possible. 

… notice our internal reactions to what others say or write or do and "be with" them for a moment… or a day (there is nothing so urgently at risk here which can't benefit from a "cooling off" period if we're upset). 

… consider our words and where they're coming from before we speak or hit the "send" button. 

… remember that we are all, whether we like it or not, in this family with each other as long as we are on this planet and able to enjoy our connections and this beautiful land which [my grandparents] left us to steward.

In my estimation, we are a brilliant, passionate, loving bunch… often prone to reactivity, righteousness and stubbornness. That is what makes [us] so admirable most of the time and such a pain in the ass on occasion.

I also want to say that I know that what I'm saying here doesn't come close to addressing some of our deep-seated issues and histories... I believe that none of us is immune to some shadows or incompletions in our relationships with each other. What I am saying, though, is that, perhaps- just perhaps- if we have the courage to begin to open the closet with tenderness, care and an intention for healing and restoration of love, then we have a golden opportunity to raise the bar of who we are as a family even higher than it already is.

Finally… I am also glad to see more of us in my generation taking a greater interest in the maintenance of this land, honoring and wanting to learn from the wisdom and know-how [our predecessors] have been carrying since grandpa and grandma died. In my humble opinion, we have an opportunity here to learn what must be learned about lakes and dams, meadows and barns, trails and orchards and much more... and we must seize it with care, commitment to service, and innovation. This land is our greatest legacy and the glue which holds this family together. It is an honor to begin to learn how to care for it, and I humbly admit that, although I have not done as good a job as I should have thus far, I am committed to learning and executing the tasks which need to be implemented to the best of my ability.

All in all, my request is that we bring to our family table the following... action with care, urgency with thoughtfulness, the good of all held in as much esteem as our personal preferences, and love over positions.

I love you all and am committed to listening, speaking and participating with as much deliberateness, love and care as possible. You can always count on me to "step away" if I need to ruminate or calm down for a moment and to "dive in" when necessary. Despite, and because of, our differences and similarities, I love this family - and this land - more than I can say.

With love and blessings to each and every one of you,

Erin

 

I wish you a most beautiful rest of this glorious month of June in whatever communities you participate, and look forward to reading your comments!