Emotion

Everything is Love

"Today, I will fall in love with life at least three times..." (Matthew Fox)

We grieve weep and wail because we loveThere is something I am coming to understand… deep in my bones. It's been sitting there patiently waiting for me to find it, and has hinted to me many times before. I calls in small quiet whispers, especially right before I go to sleep or right as I'm waking up. It warms my heart when I'm thinking about how much the people in my life matter to me. It tugs at my sleeve the instant I feel saddened or angered by something about which I've read. Recently its been the possibility of losing polar bears forever or the fact that my country continues to spend outrageous amounts of money on "security" rather than allocating those resources to making sure everyone is educated, healthy and fed. But it keeps shining its bright steady light into my heart in those moments when I judge others or myself as "wrong" or "not good enough" in all the ways my ego does its illusory little job and I remember that I am so much bigger than that.

What I have come to understand is that every act - every single human act - is born out of love… either by being love or wanting love.

In other words, there is nothing we do that is not connected to love. Even when we think otherwise.

Consider that, maybe, we hurt others and cause grief because we are crying out to be seen and loved… sometimes intentionally, most times unconsciously. We level mountains, push endangered species to the brink of extinction, or raze forests because we love our children and want them to have food in their bellies… often not experiencing that there are other choices. We build weapons of mass destruction or strap bombs onto our bodies because we love ideals in which we believe… maybe or maybe not fully realizing the impact of our actions.

We grieve, weep and wail because we love… deeply. We get hot with anger, engulfed with rage because we love… fiercely. We dance with joy, are consumed with ecstasy and raise our voices in songs of praise because we love… widely.

TECUMSEH I went down not long ago to the Mad River, under the willows I knelt and drank from that crumpled flow, call it what madness you will, there's a sickness worse than the risk of death and that's forgetting what we should never forget. Tecumseh lived here. The wounds of the past are ignored, but hang on...

Sometimes I would like to paint my body red and go out into the glittering snow to die.

His name meant Shooting Star. From Mad River country north to the border he gathered the tribes and armed them one more time. He vowed to keep Ohio and it took him over twenty years to fail...

his body could not be found. It was never found...

if we ever meet him, we'll know it, he will still be so angry.

~ Mary Oliver ~

In everything we do, we are inextricably and undeniably acting out expressions of love that are deeply personal and many times misunderstood.

But what if, in the moments when we don't understand the motivation behind someone else's actions, we did our best to discover how they are actually birthed from love? What would be possible in terms of peace, justice and a world that works for all if we really took the time to comprehend their intentions?

Yebuny received this beautiful note from a stranger on the train recently.

What if, for example, we saw our rage as the passionate belief in justice born out of our deep knowing that we are all one and that whatever hurts someone else hurts ourselves? Our anger as the simple defending of our right to provide for our families? Our grief as a reflection of all the moments we were simply giving ourselves an experience of aloneness born out of the illusion that we're separate? Our violence as an unconscious act of wanting Love - a stretching out ones palm to be filled with a mote of kindness and compassion?

What if we could choose in every moment to BE Love… to welcome, accept and embrace all of life, all of humanity? What would be possible if we saw everything - every thought, every belief, every word, every attitude, every action - as Love?

I know I'm posing a lot of questions here. I imagine you may be asking, "What about this or this? How could that be an act of Love?" But, imagine suspending any notion you may have been taught about "how things are" and choosing instead to see everything as a gift of Love… what might be possible then? Imagine what that could be like….

The Guest House This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they're a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~

I don't have any answers, but what I am coming to believe is that believing we are doing anything other than Loving is only causing more suffering. Yes, pain is inevitable. Suffering, however, is optional. In the end, we will lose that which we love, but the question is how will we love it while it is here? How will we love our children, friends and communities? How will we love distant strangers, clouded mountains and tiny frogs? How will we love this wild and precious life?

When we love- fully, deeply, fiercely, widely - it can hurt. That is part of being human… and that's when we know we've loved.

...To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal, to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.

(excerpt from "In Blackwater Woods" by Mary Oliver, American Primitive)

I say, let us take on a wild experiment to choose to see every act as an act of Love… and living from that place, welcome the guests who arrive at our door and let ourselves fall in love with life.

What About My Heart?

 
I said: what about my eyes?
God said: Keep them on the road.
God said: Keep it burning.I said: what about my passion?
I said: what about my heart?
God said: Tell me what you hold inside it.
I said: pain and sorrow.
He said: stay with it.
The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
-Rumi 

 

 

I woke up at 4:30 this morning, not with my semi-usual semi-anxiety, but with a sense of deep loss, as if someone near and dear to me had died. I didn't feel sad… just somewhat empty and curious. It wasn't "bad." I was simply aware that there was an experience arising in me that I hadn't felt for a long time. For a few minutes, I couldn't put my finger on what it was exactly. But then I realized I was touching - almost as if for the first time yet very ancient and familiar, and very tentatively - an underground lake of grief that has always lived inside of me. It was a grief for fallen trees, for innocent children dying every day, for enslaved women, for extinct and endangered species, for young black men arrested simply for being who they are, for the pillaged earth, for a species so lost we don't remember who we are. It felt familiar and yet so buried that I had forgotten it, like a letter to my future self from years ago, saying, "Remember me? I'm still here."~ Rumi

My question is - do you feel this same lake of grief inside of you, too?

When you hear about about another ancient tree that has fallen, another of our earthly companions who has stopped walking the planet forever, or another mountaintop that's been blown to bits, do you feel that deep, aching emptiness? When you read about millions of bees dying off and children born sick, do you see a connection? When teens, college students or little children are gunned down in their classrooms, do you wonder what we're waiting for? When a father in a small Sierra town kills his two teenage children, the family dog and then himself, do you ask yourself if he himself was deeply lost? When you hear about a young woman in India who dies from being gang raped or the Amazon rainforest being destroyed at a catastrophic rate, do you see the correlation in how we treat women and how we treat our earth, Pachamama?

What do you mourn? How do we live with all this grief? How do we cope with the massive amount of bad news that is out there on a daily basis? How do we keep hope alive?

I'm sure there are many more people who feel it than I am aware of, but I wonder how many of us divert our attention from it in the name of carrying on and getting through our days? We all have mechanisms for dealing with the grief and bad news… denial, avoidance, numbing out. There are a multitude of ways to keep it at bay. But that's the problem. We just keep it at bay. That lake of grief is always there. In the end, it is unavoidable… and the only way to deal with it is to be with it. In other words, we have to feel it to heal it.

Because, as we know, our personal and global attempts to avoid being with it have actually become the very causes of what continue to feed the grief… addiction, eating disorders, bullying, sexual harassment, fracking, a vortex of plastic as large as the state of Texas floating in the Pacific ocean, corporate greed, political power-mongering, a war that costs $720 million a day, racial profiling, the massive rift between the "haves" and "have nots," and ultimately, murder, suicide and extinction. Sadly, the list goes on and on.

The more I think about it, I am cognizant of how this ever-present grief affects me in every way. It influences my choices when I shop. It drives me to write articles like this. It guides me to continue to question my impact on the planet and how I can reduce it even more. It fires up my righteous anger and motivates me to speak, write and take action. But ultimately, it makes me remember how very much I love this world and everything and everyone on it.

I just listened to the "Animal Sacrifice" episode of This American Life2 about the story of the thousands of "Dogs for Defense" who served and died in World War Two. The story touched my heart so deeply because these loyal, innocent beings - mankind's oldest friend - had no idea what they were getting into. They went into service with the joy only dogs can bring to any situation. There was even an elite group of "Bunker Dogs," outfitted with saddlebags filled with explosives, who were trained to be suicide bombers. The narrator said, "Without knowing what the war was for, the dogs had done what they'd been asked to do... because that's the nature of the bond we have with dogs. We take care of them and ask them to trust us… and they do." That's when I broke down.

I was so stunned, I just kept asking myself, what have we done? What are we doing? What more are we are capable of? What choices are we making, all from this place of forgetting that who we are is Love?

I believe we must choose to allow ourselves to feel the grief at how deeply we do not understand what we have done and what we continue to do.  In response to the murder/suicide in our community earlier this month, Merita Callaway (one of our county supervisors and a neighbor of the family) said, “…We do not understand and hope that time brings some peace.”3 I, too, do not understand and trust that time will bring some peace. But I also know that it will take more than time to bring peace. It will take the intention to make different choices… to reach out when we would rather stay focused on ourselves, to use less when our habit is to consume without thinking, to write letters even if it means getting up earlier or staying up later, to do what is not comfortable because, ultimately, that is the only choice that will ensure peace. Our addiction to comfort has lulled us to sleep. But we can no longer afford not to wake up.

We have been making choices from a place of not seeing the forest for the trees, so to speak - out of the illusion that our comfort is more real and easier to achieve than the greater good of the whole. We all do it. However, if we truly love the only home we have and all of its inhabitants, if we truly love each other and ourselves, we will choose to get uncomfortable.

Megan Hollingsworth, founder of ExtinctionWitness, is someone who is a living example of a commitment to getting uncomfortable enough to live from love. She allows herself to feel her grief - all of it - deeply and fully, and she comes out the other side empowered and more committed to being of service in the world. I am deeply moved by her capacity for compassion and ability to be with this deep grief by truly allowing herself to experience the incalculable pain of the world. Megan is doing some of the most important work on the planet - reminding us that, in order to shift the vast amount of unconscious damage we have done to the planet and each other, we must allow ourselves to feel our grief about the violence, ignorance, greed and inhumanity or our thoughts, words and deeds. Again, we must feel it to heal it.

As my friend Alex wrote in a most touching and memorable post on facebook:  "I heard a story on the radio about a refugee camp near Kabul, Afghanistan…. A girl my son's age died in the night from the cold. Many others are suffering the same fate…. I got off work a little early today, and laid in the afternoon sun that spills into our home. I had a nice snack, and now will go pick up my son from day care. I'm warm and satisfied, surrounded by love and abundance…. I am blessed beyond what I deserve, and I don't understand suffering. If I could give up one blanket, one meal, one set of clothes, one tank of gas, any of these comforts I take for granted, so that another child like that can live, I would. I think any of us would. I wish it were that simple. Maybe it is."

I believe our grief at what is happening in the world - whether we're aware of it or not - is actually the evidence of how very much we love this world of ours. It's not our anger and fear that source this lake - it's love. We do what we've done simply because we've forgotten that what we really are is Love. That forgetting has consequences far beyond our understanding.

So, as Rumi so wisely wrote hundreds of years ago, "stay with it… the wound is the place where the Light enters you."

 

 

There is a light- a light that guides you through the storms.

There is a place- a place of healing and calm.

There is a peace- a peace that lives beneath the waves.

Beneath the sorrow and the joy, there is a stillness and grace.

Beauty is like rain, falling from the skies.

It is God's love that's pouring from your eyes.

The wounds of life, they bring healing my friend.

The heart that breaks is but opening again.

The heart that breaks is but opening again.

- "There is a light" by John Astin

Resources:

  1. Rumi poem
  2. Union Democrat, "Three Dead in Murder-Suicide," February 4, 2013
  3. This American Life, episode #
  4. John Astin, "There is a Light," Remembrance

Some thoughts since Thanksgiving...

I've thought a lot about whether or not to post this blog the last couple of days. Is it too depressing? Will it come back to bite me in the butt somewhere down the road? Will it turn people off from wanting to work with me or buy my book? And what I keep coming to is a clear and steady, "No." What I actually hear is a clear and steady, "Share this. Share yourself with the world, clearly and with love, and you will be amazed."

As I wander through the world, everywhere from my home in the Sierras to Boston to various communities on the internet to my soon-to-be-new home in L.A., what strikes me is a longing for authenticity and realness. I feel and hear a yearning for connection that's about much more than making ourselves or others feel good in order to get something or add one more name to our email lists. In the last week or so, I've "unsubscribed" to a lot of things just to get back to the quiet inside and to be able to really hear the cries for connection under all the chatter....

So, I choose to share in this way, revealing my pain and struggles as well as the insights and beauty in this moment, in the hopes that someone may be moved, inspired or feel they're not as alone as they thought they were. I share this to remind you that you are loved, that you are important, that you matter and that you are needed... no matter how down, low or useless you feel right now, this is temporary. I know... and you are not alone.

Thanksgiving Day, 11/26/09
It's early morning on Thanksgiving Day, and I am sitting here with a myriad of emotions and thoughts. Honestly, it's been a tough year- for so many, myself included. It's hard to cultivate my gratitude sometimes when I'm constantly worried about how I'm going to get myself out of the financial hole I'm in.

If you really knew me, you'd know that...
* although this year has been a year of great experiences and wonderful shifts, it's also been one of the hardest years of my life (like the year my mom died, the years of the divorces).
* although I'm so grateful for everything I do have (a home, food to eat, running water, electricity), I feel a nearly constant fear of not being able to take care of myself.
* I am so grateful for all the help I've received from my close family and several friends, and just under the surface I feel a constancy of guilt and shame about how far down I've gone and that I've become a burden to those around me.
* most of the time, I live with this low-grade panic or anxiety about life- like I'm just one step away from total self-destruction.
* sometimes, especially lately, I think, "My God, I've become the crazy mother I hear other people talking about- crying, mood swings- happy one minute, in a puddle of tears the next." Who have I become?
* I really wonder if I'm really depressed or manic… this does not feel normal. Is it just mid-life hormones?
* although I often talk and write about the importance of gratitude and feeling good about ourselves, it's really hard to feel good about myself when I work so hard to get things going and just the smallest trickle of response comes in.
* most of the time, the shame I feel about where I'm at in my life makes me want to be alone and hide from the world but the thing I long for the most is connection and to be held.
* whatever love is being offered feels far away, like I've created some kind of energetic quarantine sign that says, "Don't come close! What I've got is infectious and you wouldn't want to catch it."
* almost more than anything, I want to be held… to feel someone's arms around me, and hear them say, "It's all going to be all right."
* the tears feel like they'll never stop- this well of grief and shame and sadness feels bottomless.
* I feel so out-to-sea right now, rudderless... with a small, slow leak in my tiny little boat.
* I believe that, even though this is truly one of the few most painful and difficult times of my life, I know that I'm being led somewhere… if I can just hang in there a little longer....
* I'm tired of hanging in there….
* Thanksgiving is usually my favorite holiday, but this year I just want to crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head.

11/27/09
4:30am… Can't sleep. Woke up 30 minutes ago and tried to go back to sleep, but no good. So, I decided to get up, make a cup of tea, crawl onto the couch with the blanket and write and meditate. Thinking about all the bills and how I'm going to deal with them, the prospects of looking for a job in L.A., looking for a place to stay, and hoping I'm not setting myself up for even more failure by going down there. I don't trust myself right now. It seems like listening to myself has gotten me dug into this hole, but listening to others hasn't exactly dug me out either. Waking up with fear and anxiety every day has got to be taking a toll on my health. No wonder folks who inquire about my coaching don't hire me- if I saw my blogs and facebook posts, I don't think I'd hire me either. Seems like very little makes sense anymore, except that I keep hearing Spirit saying, "Finish the book. Focus on the book. Let go of everything else."

5:12am... Woke up about an hour ago in another panic. Can't seem to focus on what I can do- just overwhelmed by fear and shame. Feeling numb, hoping and praying that, somehow, in sharing this, I will find my way.

Listening to one of my favorite songs- "Wash Your Spirit Clean" over and over again. What will wash my spirit clean? What do I need to let go of?
* the high hopes that I would have at least 20 folks sign up for my teleclass.
* being able to pay my bills.
* dreams of the life I've created in my mind and visions- of traveling, of sharing my life with someone I love.
* hopes that my life will ever be different than it is right now. I mean, what if my life never changed from what it is right now? What if I continued to live with this amount of debt, scarcity, fear, doubt, anxiety and pressure?
* pride (BIG TIME) – about anything I'm too afraid to share, about looking good to everyone "out there" while I'm continuing to suffer "in here," about being an "expert" and wanting to hold up the façade of being someone who actually knows what she's doing when, in truth, I'm just stumbling around hoping I get this life right for the most part.
* shame (in deep, thick layers) by telling the truth of where I am right now....
* the deep pain and fear, anxiety and worry… if I let it all go, where would I be? Who would I be? What would I do?

I'm going to go to sleep for a bit and see if my dreams bring any relief or answers….

8:00am…
Just woke up again. Had some dreams, but can't remember them. But I just realized that this depression I'm in is an opportunity to get back to what's really true and simple- back to the things that are most important, the basics. Like taking care of my body, eating well, brushing and flossing, doing yoga, etc. Something is being asked to be sloughed off… there is wisdom - great wisdom - in letting go of as many externals as I can and in learning discernment. I must re-member who I am, discern what serves me when, and make conscious choices about how I want to present myself.

My question for the day…
What do I need to do today to move my Vision forward and live from my purpose?
Shed all you know. Shed all expectations you have of yourself and that you think others have of you. Surround yourself with comfort right now, find what you need to take care of yourself and make that happen. Find what you can to enjoy this time here with your kids. Things didn't work out the way you'd expected them to, but remember they don't usually. Stay focused on the book; it's hard to do that when you are so worried about money, but the more focus you put on the book, the more you're going to find flowing in. Listen to your heart… follow your dream and passion.

Stay connected with your guides; they will guide you beautifully. Feed your internal flame. Do things that feed your flame - do things that will bring more joy into your life. Take walks, play games, listen to music, dance.

You are not in this book game to make money, you're in it to bring your message to the world. You are not going to go the route of fast-paced, sales-y, go-go-go marketing. You are going to go the way of beauty, truth, transparency, art, love and openheartedness. Your path is very different from many of those around you. Follow your path, even though it seems scary, lonely and different. You are blazing a trail- you are a pioneer as Tanner said….

Give more, hope less, BE GRATEFUL always. Be gentle with yourself today… be gentle.

11/28/09
Got a email from my friend from Rob, kicking my butt, in response to a note I sent out. He quoted my statement, "it's my passion and the Mission of this book to inspire people (myself incuded) to remember who they are and get that they matter," and then wrote:
OK, so here's your assignment: tell me who you are... and why you matter!

I love it when my friends kick my butt. Thank you, Rob!

I decided to meditate on it, and this is what I got:
I am giving birth- squatting, screaming, my guides are holding my arms- holding me up and yelling, "Push! Push!" There's a bed of leaves covered with a blanket under me. The baby has arrived and I am crying and laughing. One of my guides comes around behind me and is holding me, cradling me in his arms, brushing my hair from my face. We are looking at this beautiful baby that one of my other guides has wrapped in a blaket and she's now in my arms. She is so beautiful. She is so beautiful. She has luminous eyes – dark but luminous. It is so peaceful here, so peaceful. Just sitting here, warm and complete in this family- in the beauty of this family knowing tht this child is being born into a family that loves her so much. "What is her name?" they ask; I respond, "Erin. She is the light of the world, she is the perfect reflection of everyone here, of all beings, she helps them remember who they are, she is truth and beauty and fragility and the deepest pillar of strength. She lives to serve. She lives to remind others of their perfection and beauty and fragility and strength. She is a writer, a songmistress, a singer of humanity's trials and journeys and triumphs, she is here to LOVE. She gets to be born into this family of love, to be supported in her every step, to be allowed to make mistakes and to fall, to learn how to get back up on her own again and to run and run with others. She is here simply to Love. She is our Reminder of Love. Her path is not necessarily easy, but her path is necessary and hers to walk."

She, the baby, is speaking now. "I am here to help you remember to trust that you are taken care of. I am here to remind you that all things that happen are not your fault- how could an innocent child ever be to blame for what happens to those around her? You are sensitive – that is both a blessing and a curse. You are not to blame for anything that happened to you as a child, you are not to blame for your mother's unhappiness nor for your children's challenges. You have contributed your part, sure, but you are not to blame wholly and entirely."

The guide who wrapped the baby in a blanket says:
You are birthing the child that's being born of your internal feminine and masculine. It must come from your pain, your pushing, your letting go and releasing that this child is born. Your internal masculine and you are the parents of this child, this woman to be, this new you, this Erin who is being asked to give life to her new self. Olnly thorugh your pain and suffering could she have been born at all… you could not be coming to this new place of beingness, this new plateau, without the pain of birth. You are not so much standing on the brink of a precipice as you are on the brink of a new life.

In order to step fully into it, you must shed your old life. You must release all ways of being that you've come to expect of yourself and that you've trained others to expect of you. You are shedding shame, fear and any expectations that you are any way- in your behavior or being. You are shedding expectations of being bubbly and joyful, of being morose and serious, you are shedding all expectations that you or others have of you and stepping into the "nowness" of being.

What are you releasing? You are releasing...
* Old stories.
* The deep shame and guilt you have lived with from before you were born.
* Your behaviours around your children, the ways in which you interact with them- you must release all expectations of your daughter, all fears for her and release her to the winds of life, even if you are scared for her. You no longer need to protect her from the winds that blow; she needs to do that for herself. You can be her refuge when she asks for it, but you no longer need to offer it.
* You are releasing going to your children for affection, relying on them for physical love and connection. You must find that in other places; when they reach out to you, you can equally share in the connection, but you must not rely on them to supply you with the love you ache for.
* You must step into this discipline- the discernment and discipline- it is absolutely necessary for you to move into this in order to move into the greatness that is being asked of you.
* You are releasing the so-called freedom of having a lot of time for yourself. You are calling in the discipline of short amounts of time for yourself in order to work at jobs that feed your pocketbook and soul.
* You are stepping away form massive amounts of time alone, building a community in a new place, and finding the moments of time for yourself in the early mornings and late nights to write, to work and to move forward.
* You are surrendering to a much greater vision of yourself, and you must let die the old self in order to do so. If you do not let the old you die, you will continue to live with this ache and longing for "something more." Let it all go.

When I say to my guide, "I feel like I'm moving through emotions, states and thoughts at lightning speed, as if I'm moving through years of work in a day sometimes- flip-flopping from one emotion to the next," she responds, "This is because you are healing and shifting at a very fast pace, moving into the next phase of your life. Let it take you at its pace and you will be amazed at how quickly things shift. Do not resist this; if you do, it will be long, slow and even more painful. Let it all go... and step into the brilliance and beauty of your new life...."

Hey, Rob- here's my homework.

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