Human

waking up to my white privilege

dixondwhite

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

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

what about reverse racism, anyway?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

what can i do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A New Year... A New World

sunrise at The Refuge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

what I want for Christmas

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

i have so much.

probably more than i deserve.

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

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

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

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

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

Earth-May31

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

probably more than we can imagine.

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

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

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

Our Call for the Elephants

Once again, I am inspired by my family. They never cease to amaze me with their capacity for compassion, love and standing up for what's right. I know this propensity definitely came through my grandparents, but there must be a long lineage because I see it echoed through every member of my family in many unique ways and I admire it greatly. Thus, I've decided to create a series of blogs about the issues about which some of my family members are passionate. For this first piece in the series, I'm focusing on the plight of African elephants that was brought to my attention by my uncle's partner Barbara Hall, who, although not born into the above-mentioned bloodline, is truly one of the gentlest, most compassionate souls I have ever met. She is such a gift of humbleness and equanimity to our sometimes loud, often opinionated and always wonderfully vibrant family.

When Barbara first shared this information with me, I found myself in absolute disbelief. I thought things were going relatively well for elephants lately – that the horrors of the '80's genocide (I use this word deliberately) of more than half of the elephant population in Africa which took place was behind us.

I guess not.

She pointed me to two New York Times articles (1, 2) describing the slaughter of elephants in Africa to support the illegal ivory trade, which brought me to tears of outrage and deep grief. This cannot be possible. If the killing continues, I understand there may no longer be elephants on the African continent within one generation. I find it unimaginable and horrifying to consider a world without elephants. I can't think of a single child I know who doesn't love these gentle giants. They are an intrinsic and essential part of the fabric of life on this precious and fragile planet, and we need to make sure they remain that way.

 

In 1989, my first husband and I took our son (then two and a half years old) on a trip around the world for ten months, landing first in Thailand. I will never forget the day we visited an elephant camp near Chiang Rai to spend a day with these amazing beings. I was eating a banana while we were chatting with some of the folks who worked at the camp when, out of nowhere, I felt a nudging on my shoulder and next saw a rubbery grey shape reach over and very deftly pilfer that banana right out of my hand. I looked up behind me and there was the sweetest, biggest thief I'd ever laid eyes on. He was looking at me as if to say, "Well, what did you expect? You made it so easy!" I patted his trunk and cheek as we all laughed and joked about what a sucker I was for letting him get away with it. Honestly, it was a pleasure.

That same year, while we were making our way around the British Isles, we had the great fortune of attending the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for a week with my mother. One of my most memorable events was a reading by Heathcote Williams from his epic poem, Sacred Elephant (3). My mom had a copy of his previous effort, Whale Nation (4), and was thrilled that we actually had the opportunity to hear him read in person. This was not to be missed.

Mr. Williams' books are unique in that they are written as epic poems – pages and pages of history of and tribute to these regal creatures. And, not only is there a multitude of photographs and illustrations of whales and elephants to complement his words, but there is an entire section with massive amounts of research on their behavior and biology as well as thorough chronicles of their often unfortunate interactions with mankind. I have been captivated by these volumes for years and could be found reading them often when visiting my mom's house, so it was truly a rare gift to be able to hear him read the poem in person.

So you see, I have a very soft place in my heart for elephants.

I won't go into detail here about how they are being slaughtered – you can read that for yourself in the NY Times articles and elsewhere. But I will, however, say this – elephants matter. If you have ever looked into the eyes of an elephant, you will see the soul of one of the wisest, kindest beings you have ever met. They know stuff. They're brilliant. Remember the old saying, "An elephant never forgets?"

Recently, my friend Shoshana emailed an article (5) about the passing of a gentleman in South Africa, Lawrence Anthony, who was known as "the elephant whisperer." This courageous man not only helped to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife around the world, he also rescued animals in the Baghdad Zoo during the US invasion if Iraq in 2003. According to the article:

For 12 hours, two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of late author Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist who saved their lives…. For two days the herds loitered at Anthony’s rural compound on the vast Thula Thula game reserve in the South African KwaZulu – to say good-bye to the man they loved.,,, “A good man died suddenly,” says Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, Ph.D., “and from miles and miles away, two herds of elephants, sensing that they had lost a beloved human friend, moved in a solemn, almost ‘funereal’ procession to make a call on the bereaved family at the deceased man’s home.”

In the U.S., our tax dollars support regimes like Uganda and South Sudan whose militaries have been, directly or indirectly (depending on how you choose to see it), linked to the systematic slaughter of entire herds (including babies) of elephants from helicopters so that the global thirst (mostly Chinese) for Ivory can be quenched. Last year, over 38.8 tons (that is 77,600 pounds) of ivory left more than 4,000 elephants dead. It is absolutely untenable that this rampage continues. How can anyone enjoy using ivory chopsticks knowing that they contributed to the extinction of a species? How can we as U.S. citizens stand by and simply let this happen? Like Soraida Salwala in Thailand, what can we do to help our elephant companions?

If you are, even in some small way, as moved as I am to make sure we save our elephant companions, I urge you to consider one or more of the following actions:

  1. Write letters to President Obama and your congress members to protest the subsidizing of this genocide with our tax dollars.
  2. Thank Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for speaking out against the illegal trafficking of wildlife.
  3. Write letters to the governments and/or representatives of South Sudan, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and China. You can find information about any country at this link.
  4. Boycott any jeweler who carries ivory products, illegal or legal; consider that even they may not know which is which.
  5. Consider boycotting all products made in countries, such as China and the Philippines, which support the illegal demand for ivory.
  6. Share information and petitions on your social media pages like facebook and twitter. Here are some sites to sign petitions and learn more (warning: there are graphic images on some):
  7. If you have children, share this information with them and enlist their help and the help of their friends and teachers. I fully believe we must tell them the truth about what's happening in the world. This is the only way of empowering them to share their profound fears and deep wisdom about the world we are leaving to them.
  8. Send love to these wonderful beings with whom we share this fragile planet in whatever way you feel moved to do.

 

We do not have to stand by and let this happen. Remember, every action you take or don't take has a profound impact on the future of our world. Your choices to speak up and take action – or not – help shape the decisions of policy-makers and have the potential to inspire the people you know by being an example of what it means to make a difference. If we could understand what the elephants might be saying, I'm sure they would agree.

As Andrew Dobson, a Princeton ecologist, asked, "The question is: Do you want your children to grow up in a world without elephants?"

 

Together, let's make sure future generations get to live in a world where elephants roam the African landscape, free from the terror of organized slaughter, as the gentle, wise and beautiful companions they are. It breaks my heart to consider the alternative. Can we learn to revere and care for them as much as they deserve? Because, if we truly are all connected, all one, what are we doing to ourselves when we allow this slaughter to continue?

 

In an upcoming blog, I look forward to sharing about the work of the Guatemala HumanRights Commission (GHRC), for which my cousin Kelsey Alford-Jones is the director.

 

Resources:

  1. Gettleman, Jeffrey. "Elephants Dying in Epic Frenzy as Ivory Fuels Wars and Profits." NY Times. Ed. Margaret Sullivan. 3 September, 2012. The New York Times. 8 October, 2012.
  2. Editorial. "Elephant Slaughter." NY Times. Ed. Margaret Sullivan. 8 September, 2012. The New York Times. 8 October, 2012.
  3. Williams, Heathcote. Sacred Elephant, London, Jonathan Cape; New York, Harmony Books, 1989.
  4. Williams, Heathcote. Whale Nation, London, Jonathan Cape; New York, Harmony Books, 1988.
  5. Kerby, Rob. "Wild elephants gather inexplicably, mourn death of 'Elephant Whisperer'." Beliefnet. Ed. Rob Kerby. 8 October, 2012.
  6. Please visit Gregory Colbert's website, www.ashesandsnow.org, to see more of these stunning photographs.

BEing LOVE... what is your wish?

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about Being Love... especially since we just celebrated Valentine's Day, and I must say, I am truly astounded sometimes at how much Unconditional Love there is in my life and all around me. Then I remember that Love is truly the one and only most renewable resource there is. The more we give, the more flows in... the more we share, the more we attract. Sometimes, though, it can feel like a real stretch to allow ourselves to Love and be Loved unconditionally... Do you feel stretched, as if you're being fitted into a new skin that you're not quite familiar with yet?  

Last year brought so much to be grateful for… blessings to count and lessons to reap, opportunities to release the old and embrace the new. And already, in this wonderful New Year - this time of global transformation, deep and powerful awakenings are blossoming and birthing. It seems so many of us are in the midst of a personal re-evaluation or crisis… in some ways, it seems as if this is "The End of the World As We Know It!"

Do you feel as if you are being tested, "pushed" to release anything that is no longer authentically "you" or in alignment with your purpose?  

I truly believe we are being called to cultivate what we need to live the work we're here to do. And, if we want to be up to big things, we are likely feeling a deep need - even an irresistible urge - to love ourselves like never before, to shed the pieces of our identity which no longer serve us, and live in a more authentic way from the Love that we all are… to be Wayseers.

Do you have a wish for yourself or humanity that is becoming undeniable?  

What keeps you up at night? Wakes you up at four in the morning? What gives you the chills, makes you cry or takes away your breath? What is that deep interior dream that you keep close for fear it may be too fragile for the world? And, what if you took it out, watered it and grew it into a sturdy oak of a dream? What might be possible for you, your family, your community and the world if you did that? What if we Loved enough to create a true and lasting shift for humanity?

What is your wish?

In the words of my insanely courageous friend, Elisabeth Wilder, "I think the most important thing that I have realized...is the fact that life is to short to spend it doing what you think you are "supposed" to be doing. Do what you WANT to do, do what you are PASSIONATE about doing, do what you are DRIVEN to do, do what makes you SMILE, do what you LOVE, do what makes you want to DANCE, SING, LAUGH, LOVE, and FLY! Here's to living every day. Because what's the point of only living your life part of the time?"

What is my wish?

My wish is that we shed our fixation with competition, consumption and conflict, and instead openly honor and embrace collaboration, creativity and compassion – in relationship with the planet, other people and ourselves.

My wish is that everyone can experience Unconditional Love. Can you imagine what this could do to elevate our experience of life around the world? It could make “sustainability” a reality and open the door to “Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward All." We could write a new, unique and completely transformational chapter in human history.

My wish is that we step up to our greatest potential in a way we never have before… with passion, conviction and Love, to unite and find our greatest potential for good… and that we do it now.

My wish for you is that your life is "about finding the intersection of the world's greatest need and your greatest passion," as Jim Carrey shares so eloquently.

My wish for you is that you get how very much you matter and that you Love living your life ALL of the time!

Question of the Week… February 5, 2012

Have you ever felt like you were broken and couldn't be fixed? What was that like for you?

(Please share your thoughts in the comments area below. We look forward to hearing from you and having a great conversation!)

Question of the Week… January 15, 2012

Who matters the most to you and why?

(Please share your thoughts in the comments area below. We look forward to hearing from you and having a great conversation!)

Question of the Week... January 1, 2012

What do you believe is the most critical issue we face in 2012? Why and what are you inspired to learn or do about it?

(Please share your thoughts in the comments area below. We look forward to hearing from you and having a great conversation!)

Falling Down and Getting Up with Be Love Radio

I'm sorry to says sobut, sadly, it's true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lunch wuth an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

-excerpt from Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Suess

I love how life works, even when it seems to not be working – or, rather, I don't seem to be working with it.

I had every intention of posting this blog about Falling Down and Getting Up right after the Be Love radio show on July 3rd, and here I went and fell down and didn't get it posted until two months later. I'm sitting here smiling and laughing at myself as I think about that old saying, "We teach what we most need to learn."

Just like that baby learning to walk, I, too, am learning to walk in a whole new way. It doesn't surprise me when I fall down anymore because I've done it so often, but it does bring more and more compassion and gentleness for myself in the process. I used to beat myself up terribly for all the falling down I did, but now – more often than not – I laugh and look for the underlying cause or issue in order to learn from the experience. I meditate a lot more than I used to, too – it really seems to help.

Having said that, I invite you to take this away from the July 3rd Be Love show (and I do recommend that you give it a listen- they're always really informative). Take away that you will fall down, that your mind will find countless ways to sabotage your progress (I know that one really well!), and that you are absolutely capable of overcoming every obstacle you may place in your own way.

In other words, you will fall down and you will get up again.

The best way to get up again is to reconnect with your essence, with your heart and your community to get all the support you need to get back on the old, proverbial horse. Remember to be gentle with yourself in the process. Can you imagine yelling at or beating up that little baby for falling on its diaper? Of course not! So why do it to yourself?

What would it look like for you to reconnect? Would you need to take some "time out" in order to revitalize your purpose? Would you need to reach out for support from your community, an accountability buddy or a coach to express your feelings in a safe container? Most importantly, what do you need right now (in this moment)?

Regardless of what you choose to do to get back up again, I invite you to have as much fun as you can in the midst of all you are doing. Remember, getting that you matter is meant to be an enjoyable, fulfilling and fun experience. When you fall down, it's great to be able to laugh and learn from it.

Life was never meant to be a chore. You are not a slave to your life, but rather you're here to enjoy the adventure of experiencing it in its fullest. It is your birthright to enjoy and marvel at this wonderful thing called being human.

So, I encourage you to listen to the archived show for this chapter on Be Love Radio; it's got a lot of great stuff in it and should be very helpful in your own Getting That You Matter journey. In the meantime, you can begin the process with this week's Meditation, Mantra and Movement.

Meditation for Getting Up "In what ways do I fall down? What support system can I put in place to help me get back up?" Journal, using the first question, about how you get yourself off track; then about ways to get yourself back on track using the second question.

Mantra for Getting Up "I reconnect to my passion and purpose by…" Make a list of the reminders you can use to reconnect to your passion and purpose. Post your reminders wherever you need to so you can see them every day, and use them. For fun you can track how often you use them and what helps you to remember them, then keep the ones that work and let go of the ones that don't.

Movement for Getting Up Create the support system you need to help you stay on track. Who do you need to enroll? What group could you join? Do you need some professional assistance? What practice would most help you? How can you build in down time and fun so you don't become a slave to your passion? Set a deadline and put it in place! And if you're finding it hard to do, ask one person to be your accountability buddy and help you create your support system.

The Long Journey Home

Even though I've written and talked about this particular journey thousands of times, it never ceases to cause the tears to flow. Of all the thousands of miles I've logged in cars or on planes, this particular journey touches me the most because it was the day everything changed.

It's 1:46am March 15th, 2011, as I am posting this story... almost the exact time my mother passed away one decade ago tonight. At 1:50am she took her last breath and the first step in her Long Journey Home.

In the ten years since her death, I've come to realize that the one constant in my life, up until the very early hours of that morning, was my mom. She never wavered in her love for me, she was always there when I needed her, and was always willing to let me know when she needed me. But now, she's gone. In the course of a month, she slowly slipped into a place I will not know or understand until, hopefully, much later in life. I feel her presence less and less with each passing year, yet sometimes she still visits me in my dreams or talks to me when I'm feeling particularly sad or alone. But death has a way of making a final cut in the cord between hearts and arms.

I remember driving back from the hospital about five in the morning, after turning off the highway as Shawn Colvin's "Orion in the Sky" was playing on the stereo. I was barely able to breath, or see for all the tears in my eyes. I remember my daughter waking up every half hour or so with a puzzled look on her ten-year-old face, saying, tears welling up and spilling over, "I miss grandma." "I know, honey. So do I and I know she misses you."

I'll never forget looking over at her small form asleep on the cot by my mom's hospital bed, thinking how unfair it was that she wouldn't get to grow up with her grandma in her life. And, as a few dear friends and family talked and sang to her, rubbed her feet and caressed her tired face, I remember watching my son, in all his 15-year-old wisdom, telling her it was okay to go as he watched his best friend slip away.

We'd had a whole month to prepare for that day, that drive, that long journey home. In fact, we'd had much more than that; we'd had years. There was never any guarantee that her liver would come. But all the preparation in the world could never equip us for the overwhelming loss we felt that morning.

Mom, if you are still "out there," if there is still any thread of you left (hopefully romping with your favorite companions, Bear, Farley, Sam and now Grizzly) ,I want you to know I will always love you and I'll always be so grateful for everything you taught me during your all-too-brief stay here. Nothing is the same except for the love that remains intact and pure. We miss you. We always will.

4Years.Go... a Valentine's Day Invitation

Happy Valentine's Day.
Wherever you are, whoever you are with, whatever you are doing, I invite you to take a moment and remember what you are grateful for.
Remember what you love about the people in your life,
what you love about where you get to live,
what you love about how many opportunities you have all around you.
Now that you are present to that, I invite you to remember that we are at a crucial time in human history - there is more at stake than ever before. Our children are the first generation of human beings who are being handed a world in worse shape than any previous generation...
and we have a great opportunity to change that.
This is good news.
We have the ability to turn things around.
In other words, we have the capacity to live from Love even more and to bring more potential for good to the world than we could ever dream was possible.
One of the most powerful ways I know of doing that is to make a commitment to the possibility of leaving our children and grandchildren and generations to come with a
Thriving, Just and Sustainable Way of Life for All.
If you believe that this is not only a possibility, but also our responsibility,
I invite you now to make your voice heard by visiting FourYears.Go.

 

Watch the 3-minute video there -
let it Move you,
let it Inspire you,
let it Remind you that you have the Power to make a difference.
After you watch the video, Declare Your Commitment to this possibility and know that you have joined me and thousands of others who are ready to Be the Change.
Help surpass the goal of 6,000 commitments TODAY! Watch the video, get Inspired, Commit...
I thank you from the bottom of my heart and wish you a most Breathtakingly Happy Valentine's Day.

Cleaning up the Coast… Cleaning up the Past

On September 25th (the day before my 48th birthday), I really wanted to chill out and give myself a "day for me" since I was leading a workshop on my birhtday. Instead, I decided to participate in the Coastal Cleanup Campaign – where citizens gather together and pick up trash and debris on the beaches of this beautiful state. It's something I've always wanted to participate in and something I'd never done until this year. Since, however, I live only a ten minute drive from the beach, I felt like I had no excuse not to participate. I'm so glad I did.

TO READ MORE... visit the full post on the Cafe Gratitude blogsite. Check it out and you'll see what's happening in that amazing community! Feel free to post comments here or at the Cafe Gratitude site. Coming soon... Get That You Matter updates and news on the book, the movement, membership and more!

To read more great blogs and get connected to some really amazing stuff going on, check out these links:
http://www.fouryearsgo.org/
http://superforest.org/
http://www.dailyacts.org/
http://storyofstuff.org/
http://challengeday.org/
http://www.debbieford.com/

Poetry...

I was just writing an email to someone and realized that I really want to post some of these poems that have been oozing out of me for the last couple weeks. So, here they are. One of them actually has something to do with today's earlier blog- it's called "Remember." The others are commentary on my personal process as I've let go, more and more, of my pride and protection around my current state of affairs. There is such beauty in surrender....

I hope you enjoy- my gift to you. Love and blessings, Erin

Remember

Dear Mr. President, I can only imagine How difficult It must be to be In your position

Pressure from the right

Pressure from the left

Constant Criticism Need Questioning Doubt Expectation

I can only imagine

And I want to say Only one word.

Remember. Remember. Remember.

More important

Something has shifted in realizing – no remembering – I am a poet. I have not turned on the computer or compulsively checked email for two days now.

I had forgotten somewhere along the way that

showing up is more important than self-promotion,

that desperation is so very unattractive.

Relishing the silence

Curled up in the cozy chair next to the fire, I listened.

Nothing but the dripping of melting snow, and the small whoosh and crack of the fire and wood.

The sun squeezed through the fog with long fingers, pushing its way through, cracking the door to a blue sky.

The mist, thick as soup moments before, made its last attempt at hanging between the trees, mingling with the smoke of my fire, hoping to go unnoticed and stay just a little longer.

And I, under my blanket, warm and content, sat relishing the silence I couldn't bear to break.

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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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Looking Inside and Being Thankful

I haven't blogged for over two weeks... and realized that I've been making this big deal out of it. I've been pushing myself like I've been under assignment to write an article every week as opposed to a blog. It was good "discipline" but I've been paralyzed by the prospect of it for over two weeks amidst everything else going on (or not going on) in my life.

This morning, when I was writing an email to my dear friend Thomas, I realized that what I've really been desiring to do is to share my process - this crazy roller coaster of what it is to be listening to Spirit, discerning between that voice and the voice of fear and ego, and trusting in the journey along the way. So, rather than force myself into a box that doesn't work, I've decided to start blogging here about this process - on Thanksgiving Day. This holiday seems like the perfect beginning to a daily (or almost daily) "check in" and sharing, a revealing of the ups and downs of getting that I matter and how that shapes itself through these last few months of moving toward the publication of my book. If an article finds its way through me, taking shape in a way that wants to be shared here, then I will, of course, take due notice and follow its lead, giving thanks and being grateful for every single occurrence, person and feeling. I will be the innkeeper at the Guesthouse....

For now, today, I begin the process of countdown to publication... with the hopeful date of March 20th, 2010 - the Spring Equinox - for having the book out and available for sale. We'll see how this goes and without further ado, I give you... "If you really new me, this is how I get that I matter" Installment #1:

Looking within... been doing a lot of that the last few days, and a lot of crying and releasing. Feels important and good. This stuff is so old... almost like I'm carrying the weight/healing the wounds of past generations, too- especially my mom.... The last few months have been so challenging- feeling like "butter spread over so much bread" as Bilbo says in Lord of The Rings; stepping out of my comfort zone so far I can't even see it anymore, getting ready to move to L.A., experiencing financial crisis and the corresponding stress of it, feeling so alone despite the massive amount of love and support flowing in from friends and family around the world.

I've been "stuck" a lot, forgetting all that I've learned, asking "What am doing wrong?" a lot. But this morning, Thomas asked me, "What do you hear when you ask that question?" So I decided to take a moment to listen... and what I hear is, "Nothing. You are doing nothing wrong; you are just doing what you're doing. You may not be doing some things right, but you are right on track for the lessons that are being asked to be learned. You know that this is all part of what you need to develop the compassion and understanding of others about whom and for whom you are writing. You could not speak to them without knowing, deeply, their experience."

I've also been saying, half-joking, to anyone who will listen to my pity party, "I should just throw in the towel and get a job!" And, when he asked me to reflect on what I was saying, I heard, "Now you know better than that..." (which I do). But I also heard, "You do need to get a job- a regular, paycheck-type job in Los Angeles. You would do well to work in a restaurant or as a receptionist someplace where you have the opportunity to shine your light and bring your love and teachings to the public in a bigger way while you're developing your book and workshops. You need to, again, have the experience and compassion for the majority of the people you're writing for/to who have regular jobs and aren't self-employed. This is very important."

And, then this very wise friend Thomas asked me what other question I need to be asking myself. So I listened again and heard, "You need to be asking yourself three questions:
1. What do I need to do today to move my vision for ward and live from my purpose? (at the beginning of the day)
2. What am I grateful for? (throughout and at the end of the day)
3. What did I do today to move my vision forward? (at the end of the day)
These three questions are your guideposts for your days and weeks ahead, until at least the end of this year."

It felt really good to have three concrete questions to ask, and to receive some specific answers (which were pretty mundane things like getting my website updated, taking a walk, writing this blog (!) and cooking dinner with my kids) on which to follow through.

In the end, though, at the end of this day, what resonates more than anything is that I am grateful... so grateful... for friends like Thomas who hold my feet to the fire of my highest visions and essence... for my children who are immeasurably wise and compassionate adults (far more than I was at their ages)... for the folks who will be signing up for my Getting That You Matter Teleclass today, tomorrow and in the next few days... for the motivated, passionate and action-oriented folks who will be signing up for complimentary coaching sessions who I can't even imagine yet... for having a home to go home to... for having enough food to eat, warm blankets, hot tea and running water, sweet romantic movies to watch with my daughter... for a bed to sleep in and the restorative power of sleep, for gratitude itself and most of all for Love....

If you are interested in attending my upcoming 12-week Teleclass starting Dec. 1, Getting That You Matter, visit the Services page at ErinRossCoaching to register. If you register by midnight on November 26, you'll get a 20% discount on the total cost - only $120! Looking forward to hearing you next Tuesday!

The Promised Land, Part One… Walking toward a new future together

I've been thinking about how much flack President Obama has been getting for either not doing enough or too much, for being too radical or not radical enough, in his first ten months of office, and I just want to say, "Give the guy a break!" I don't know about you, but, honestly, I sort of expected him to take us to the Promised Land - like some kind of Moses - when he was sworn in as the 44th President. I think some part of me was hoping that he would be able to magically fix everything that's been broken in this country, and on the planet, as soon as he was inaugurated.

Yes, he made bold campaign speeches, both serious and hopeful – the first mainstream candidate besides Dennis Kucinich to really address the critical situation in which we find ourselves as a country and a species. He spoke the truth when he said it would take all of us making sacrifices to create real, lasting change. He made the phrase, "Yes we can!" internationally recognizable. Honestly, he was the first candidate I've ever had the honor of voting for because I believed in supporting him. And… he's only one man. No matter how sincere, visionary, well spoken or down-to-earth he is, he is human… just like the rest of us.

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.

Responsibility is sometimes a scary word because it means we don't have the luxury of pretending any more. When we take responsibility for our circumstances, personal and global, we have to wake up. We have to remember that everything we do has an impact. It also means that we are going to have to give up some of the things that we thought we wanted if we're going to make it to that Promised Land. When we begin the process of waking up, of becoming who we were meant to be, we must slough off the old, tight skin that kept us small and comfortable in order to grow into the bigger person we know we are. Letting go is both terrifying and exhilarating; it means, as Charles DuBois said, "giving up who we've known ourselves to be for the person we are becoming."

Yes, it will require some sacrifice; each one of us is going to have to take a long, hard look at how we live our lives, from the big stuff to the seemingly mundane. From how we buy our groceries and what we choose to do to our bodies, to how we use energy in our homes and how we travel. We no longer have the luxury of believing that any choice we make is "insignificant."

We must ask ourselves questions like, can I walk or ride my bike instead of driving today? Do I really need that toy, appliance, clothing or beauty item? Could I buy a different item that would use fewer resources and create less waste? Where does my food come from? Where were those clothes, toys, foods made? Who made them? Did they get paid fairly for their work? In other words, how could I make choices that have less impact on the planet while feeling more fulfilled, happy and connected to the world around me?

We are each part of a larger whole, we are not at the top of the pyramid. There is no pyramid. We are part of the web of life, a strand in the tapestry woven from the one thread that connects us all, no matter how different we may seem from each other, the trees, dirt, buildings, stars and animals. We must wake up to the fact that the world was not made solely for our benefit; it is not a department store in which we "shop 'til we drop" without thought for the consequences. We must wake up to the fact that we share this world with many other people and species for whom this world is also a precious, living source.

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."

What if, like Mahatma Gandhi, we all realized that "we must be the change we want to see in the world?" Just like it took all of us walking to the polls in the election process last year, it's going to take all of us stepping out of our comfort zones and walking there to make it to this Promised Land. And we must walk together!

It's not necessarily going to be an easy road to walk. There are potholes, steep hills, sharp curves and blind corners. We may sometimes feel like we can't go any further, like it's just too hard. But we must remember, just like President Obama, we're not alone. There are people right next to us who can help us when we need it. There are people we can help when they need it. If we all work together to get there, remembering that everyone matters, that each of us is here for a reason, and that we have a responsibility to each other and our world, we'll make it to the Promised Land with a lot more grace and joy.

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