accountability

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."

816da5c7e7f54381fd1610417b9bf503

earth day 2015... where is the accountability?

today is Earth Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earth-May31today is Earth Day.

this is the only home we have.

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

struggling with creativity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

i love to write.

 

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

to belong...talkingcircle

1. to fit in a specified place or environment

2. to be a member of a particular group

3. to be rightly placed in a specified situation

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

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

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

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

longing... a yearning desire

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

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

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

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

long...

1. covering a great distance (space)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

When would NOW be a good time to wake UP?

on Thursday February 6th i changed my profile picture on facebook from this erin fb profile pic

to this

fb nsa profile pic

after being inspired by the fact that my sweetheart had done so.

in all honesty, i thought long and hard before doing so. because, even though i fully stand behind this movement to keep our current system, this "corporatocracy," from making our lives look very much like scenes from George Orwell's infamous novel, 1984, i was a bit scared to be Bold about it in such a public way. then i realized that's exactly what they want me to do. they want me to pause and let that little trickle of fear grow into a river coursing through my veins causing me to stay numb, speechless and paralyzed. in that moment, i knew i had to do it, regardless. in choosing to change my profile photo and make a bold statement about how i feel about what is happening in our country, i was choosing to say "enough is enough."

i'm not saying that changing my profile photo is all that big of a deal or some super-courageous act. nor is it likely to land me on some list in a thousand-page document in a box in some government vault somewhere. (i'm probably already on one somewhere for something, anyway, like any good, vocal, participatory and upstanding citizen of what is slowly becoming the antithesis of a democracy is likely to be). but what i am saying is that there is, honestly, a growing shout inside of me saying, "screw it!" this is more important than my personal comfort, bigger than my fear and sure as hell something that deserves to be written about in as many places as possible.

the thing is, most of us are behaving like the proverbial frogs in the pot of water - the temperature being turned up just slowly enough that we won't notice until it's too late and we're all floating at the top of a big pot of frog soup. so many of us are going through our daily lives ignorant of or avoiding the truth of what is happening all around us - and we can no longer afford to remain in blissful ignorance. as i've quoted my friend Shanan many times, "it's time to wake up, sheeple!"

when i clicked the link for the Day We Fight Back website to learn how change my profile photo, this very compelling video grabbed my attention. if you really knew me, i usually tend to watch videos with half an eye and ear as i switch back and forth from what i'm writing to my email, but something about this one caught me, particularly every time i heard Aaron Swartz speak. i'd never heard of him until i watched this video, but he was incredibly articulate, passionate and intelligent… and i noticed that everyone else in the video spoke about him with a great deal of love and respect but also as if he were no longer here. so, i looked him up, and sure enough, i learned he had died. at the age of 26, this amazingly brilliant, boldly courageous and tirelessly dedicated man had hung himself after being indicted in 2011 "on federal data-theft charges for breaking into the MIT computer system and allegedly downloading 4.8 million documents from the subscription-based academic research database JSTOR"1  to which he had pleaded not guilty and was facing 35 years in prison and a $1million fine. As DemandProgress Executive Director David Segal said, “This makes no sense; it’s like trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library…. It’s even more strange because JSTOR has settled any claims against Aaron, explained they’ve suffered no loss or damage, and asked the government not to prosecute."2

being honest john lennonas i sat in tears reading about this man's life, i realized that he was born just a few months after my son, who is also a brilliant, articulate and passionate man who happens to live in the same city as Aaron Swartz did. this was crazy. and, although this young man died at his own hand, i have no doubt that the very system he was trying to change carries much of the blame for his death. as his family wrote, "Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims."3

and he is not the only one who has suffered - as we all know, there are many courageous men and women who have been willing to question "authority" at great risk to their own lives. i believe whistleblowers and others who are willing to "say it like it is" are some of our greatest heroes - people like Daniel Ellsberg, persecuted for his bravery in exposing the vagaries of the Vietnam War, and Edward Snowden, currently living under a year-long asylum in Russia for courageously leaking numerous NSA documents about global surveillance. people like Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald. these are the people standing on the edge of the pot screaming at the rest of us, "jump out before it's too late!"

now, dear reader, you may be thinking that this issue has nothing to do with you. but i say it has everything to do with you, me and every other citizen- of every country around the world. if you don't think it does, i invite you to click these links and let me know how you feel after watching them:

• "The Program":  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/opinion/the-national-security-agencys-domestic-spying-program.html?_r=4&

or, maybe you think it's not a big enough issue. but i say, this is huge. it is connected to every other issue about which i and everyone i know is concerned - from climate change to human rights to gun control to environmental racism and on and on and on. in other words, it has become woven into the very fabric of our culture and, in my opinion, we cannot afford to ignore it any longer.

or, perhaps, you may be wondering what this bold, personal, political statement has to do with Get That You Matter. i say, it has everything to do with what we're about- getting that everything we think, say and do matters, and that standing up for our basic human rights is part of that. As Chris Hedges writes in his Truthdig article, The Last Gasp of American Democracy, "The state’s wholesale intrusion into our lives and obliteration of privacy are now facts. And the challenge to us—one of the final ones, I suspect—is to rise up in outrage and halt this seizure of our rights to liberty and free expression. If we do not do so we will see ourselves become a nation of captives…. The most radical evil, as Hannah Arendt pointed out, is the political system that effectively crushes its marginalized and harassed opponents and, through fear and the obliteration of privacy, incapacitates everyone else…. The object of efficient totalitarian states, as George Orwell understood, is to create a climate in which people do not think of rebelling… [it] achieves this control… by systematically crushing human spontaneity, and by extension human freedom. It ceaselessly peddles fear to keep a population traumatized and immobilized."4

i invite you to consider that we are at the most critical point in human history - right now, right here, today. if we are to truly get that we matter, my questions to you are these…

  • what has reading this blog sparked in you?
  • what are you willing to change? to choose? to commit to?
  • and, finally, as i've said before, "when would NOW be a good time to wake UP?!"

as David Sirota said so well in the New York Times Op-Doc Why Care About the NSA?, "if you don't speak up for everybody's rights, you'd better be prepared for your own rights to be trampled when you least expect it."if we are to play our part in the great re-evolution of humanity from where we've been to where we want to be going - if we are to build this bridge from "business (or life) as usual" to a whole new paradigm as we are walking, running and dancing across it - we must each be willing to commit to what we believe in and live it with every fiber of our being. if i am not up for that, then i should pull the plug on what i've been working on for the last 7 plus years, plug my ears and sing, "la la la la" while the world as we know it crumbles around me.

truth

QUOTES:

  1. http://business.time.com/2013/01/13/tech-prodigy-and-internet-activist-aaron-swartz-commits-suicide/
  2. http://techland.time.com/2011/07/19/reddit-co-founder-aaron-swartz-indicted-for-data-theft-could-face-35-years-in-prison/
  3. http://www.rememberaaronsw.com/memories/
  4. http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/the_last_gasp_of_american_democracy_20140105
  5. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/opinion/why-care-about-the-nsa.html

We're all Connected… Waking up to what's wrong with the current picture

How Does the System in which I livelast month in the U.S., we celebrated Thanksgiving- a holiday in which many of us gather with family and friends to share our gratitude for life. regardless of what we believe about its murky origins (and they are murky), the idea - the ideal - of Thanksgiving is to come together - to connect - and remember the power and beauty of being grateful. however, it has also sadly become a day which marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season with the fabrication of "Black Friday," a day on which millions upon millions worship at the altar of the corporatocracy at the expense of our humanity, our dignity and the very survival of our planet. to me, Black Friday represents all that is wrong with our culture. i recently saw this post on Facebook. and i ask you, what is wrong with this picture titled "Define necessity?" here's my answer in this moment:  what's wrong is the lack of conscious thoughtfulness we put into our choices and our inability or unwillingness to see that everything is connected.

if, indeed, everything we think, say and do has an impact; if everything we do matters, my question is… how does the system in which i live (represented by the photo of the people with all that stuff ) have a direct effect on those we may never know are suffering due to our participation in it (like the children in the other photo)? and, who is starving? is it the young children who are dying - literally - for a morsel of food to fill their bellies or those of us who attempt to feed the bottomless "hungry ghost" inside with things which will never fill it - shopping, tv, alcohol, drugs, sex? or is it both? i agree with my friend Keith, who commented when i shared this post, that he sees 2 photos that have a lot in common.

then, a couple of days ago, i saw this post on Upworthy (one of my favorite websites) about the distribution of wealth in the U.S., and, truthfully, it sickened me. i can say it no more plainly than this… what is happening in our world is simply wrong - in so many ways. and it is time - actually, it's long past time - to wake up people!

if, indeed, we are all connected; if, as i believe, everything is one, my question is… why wouldn't we want the best for everyone? when i watched that video about wealth distribution, it moved me to tears of deep pain. not because i feel like i can't do anything about it (even though i often do feel that way), but because what i believe is that, when we are not paying attention to the whole, ultimately we are not paying attention to ourselves - on the deepest level. when we're not ensuring that everyone has enough, when we're not ensuring that our planet is not being raped - and she is literally being raped, somewhere, every minute of every day - so that some can have more, most can have nothing, and others struggle in lines buying into this mentality that's been created by a few, what are we saying? we're saying that we don't care enough to stand up and say, "No. Not any more." All of this is to generate what? money - and all it seems to buy - for a very, very few.

if we are not paying attention to or concerned by this massive global inequity, what that is is an absolute lack of love for ourselves. if we don't see the connection, what we're not seeing is that we are actually killing ourselves in the process. "it's as if," as i wrote in a blog last year, "we have become like the virus Agent Smith speaks of in The Matrix - the only other species on earth which consumes its host without considering that doing so will result in its own demise." we are behaving like that virus, acting as if it is more beneficial for us to kill our mother without fully understanding that, in doing so, we put our own lives and the lives of all beings, all future generations, in peril.

taking it a step further, if we assume that we're all connected (that we're one with everyone and everything) and if the only thing that's real is Love (that, as i truly believe, God is Love and that nothing other than Love exists), then everything we're doing is a monstrous egoic pursuit to prove that we're different from, that we're other than, God… other than Love. only a truly obtuse mind would do that. when we forget that we are one mind, one heart, one soul- that we were literally born from the same stuff as the galaxies, bees and all existence, that illusion of separation is what engenders in us the distorted presumption that we can exhibit the kind of behavior we've all bought into without suffering grave consequences. that illusion is what enables us to do what we are doing. and it is not okay.

i ask you, in honoring all that we have been given to care for and love, how can we possibly- any one of us- believe that our perceived need for things and acquiring and power and territory is more important than the good of all beings on and of this precious planet? how can we possibly continue to make choices which lead us all toward inevitable destruction without seeing the connections?

i don't have any easy answers to these questions, but i and many others do have a lot of questions that i think are worth taking the time to ask ourselves so we can find the answers that are workable for everyone.

finally, i'm very present today, with December being the month that many people celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, to celebrating the birth of someone who gave his life so that we could all wake up. that, to put it simply, is huge. and, with the passing of Nelson Mandela last week at the venerable age of 95, we celebrate a man who did not give his life by dying, but rather gave his life by living… in chains, imprisoned, and then surviving probably countless threats of death and attempts of murder to become, as Bishop Desmond Tutu wrote, "the world's most admired and revered public figure."  in living their lives from that deep knowing in their inextricable connection to all beings, these two historic figures have given us more than we will probably ever know.

i ask you, in honoring these two men this month, how can we possibly fly in the face of that kind of dedication to Love?

some might say that, in the end, it doesn't really matter what we do here - that this place is just a playground or schoolroom for our souls, for all the parts of the oneness that thinks they're separate to just hang out, buy stuff, behave badly and die. perhaps that's true. but i disagree. i think that is a monumental cop-out. what i see is a massive opportunity… to remember that who we really are is Love and act from that opportunty, from that remembering. this unprecedented time in human history is a massive opportunity to wake up and get that, with every thought, every word, every action, each of us has an impact on the entire planet far greater than we will ever know.

it's like Russell Brand spoke to so brilliantly in this fabulous video, "I believe profoundly in the power of humanity. I believe that we're connected. I believe that there's an inevitability to a successful revolution. I think this is a change in consciousness that we're experiencing…. I think there's going to be radical changes. I think that we need to look at the world as one inclusive entity…. The ultimate truth is Oneness. We believe so much in our identity and our individualism…. On a deeper level, I recognize that all these things are transient. What's more important, what's defining things is the things we all share- love, unity, togetherness…. There's going to be a revolution. It's totally going to happen. I ain't got no flicker of doubt. This is the end. This is time to wake up."

so i ask you, in this final month of this remarkable year, do you see how you are connected to everyone and everything around you? do you get it? and, what will you choose with your thoughts, words and actions? is there any better place than here? is there any better time than now? how will you change this picture? are you ready to wake up?

Transparency and patriotism… an open letter to President Barack Obama

Open Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama-

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

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

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

As I wrote in a November 20, 2008 blog:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With deepest respect, utmost gratitude and abundant blessings,

Erin Ross

Honoring Mothers, Honoring the Earth, Honoring the Feminine

Photo credit to Petr David Josek/Associated Press I'm sure we can agree what happened in Boston and Watertown last month was a horrible tragedy. There is no doubt that all of our hearts, thoughts and prayers are likely continuing to go out to the victims, their families and these communities in shock from those events. And… what about the young men who took it into their hands to create these situations? What about their parents, friends, relatives and communities? They all need our love and prayers just as much - maybe even more.

I know that may ruffle some feathers or even anger some of you, but consider this:  when we live in a society in which people who shoot children in schools and theatres, and bomb marathons manage to slip through the cracks - whatever those cracks may be, we must all consider that it's our responsibility, as a whole, for what they did. I know that, if my son had been one of the Boston suspects or the young man who killed all those children in Sandy Hook, I would be up in the middle of the night asking, "Where did I go wrong? How did I not pay attention? What did I not see or hear? What could I have done more, differently, or better to make sure my son knew he was safe, loved, and celebrated as the beautiful, talented, amazing human being he is?"

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying that their mothers did anything wrong. I'm not calling their parenting into question. If anything, my heart is breaking for and with them - deeply. As a mother myself, I can only imagine what they are going through. It is truly unfathomable.

What I am saying is… how did we get here? How are we - as a society - not getting that we matter on the most fundamental level, such that young men like Adam Lanza or the Tsarnaev brothers would even consider doing something like this? How have we let ourselves come this far?

The answers are long, complex and multi-faceted, I know. And, what I am seeing more clearly every day, as life renews itself in this Spring season and I plant seeds in the cool, dark soil of the land I am so blessed to live with and on, is that we have become gravely numb to what's been happening in our world. Because there is a fundamental "out of balance" between the feminine and masculine, we have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten that we matter. This imbalance has been written about and spoken to for decades and it has come to a head whether we like it or not.

We have sacrificed the feminine at the altar of the masculine, and this is the fundamental reason why we are in the mess we are in now.

I know that that is a bold statement, but I'm prepared to stand by it. Look around you. Truly. Open your eyes to what's happening… it's crystal clear that climate change, global species loss, mass migrations of indigenous peoples due to the damming of rivers and extraction of oil, bombings in Boston (need I go on?) are symptoms of a radical dishonoring of the feminine. In ourselves  - in the drive to do more, have more, acquire more. In humanity - gang rapes on busses in India, the huge imbalance between the "haves" and "have nots," seemingly endless wars which only result in more grief for all concerned.  Of our planet - the mother without whom our lives would not even be possible who is suffering immeasurably from our unconscious actions.

It is as if we have become like the virus Agent Smith speaks of in The Matrix - the only other species on earth which consumes its host without considering that doing so will result in its own demise. And we have done so largely because we have forgotten that who we are is both the masculine and the feminine. We have forgotten to honor the slower pace rather than the quick fix, the mystery of the unknown rather than the addiction to being right, the pondering questions rather than the short answers, the organic journey rather than the straight line.

Am I making you uncomfortable? Pissing you off, even? Good.

This is not a comfortable conversation, but it is a necessary conversation.

I'm very clear that this little blog isn't going to change everything, but I hope that, by stirring things up and posing some questions, you may be ignited to make a change in your own life. Even if no one else noticed, what is one thing you could do to honor the feminine (regardless of your gender, in yourself or in the world)? What will you do to shift - for the better - your inevitable and indelible impact on the world? Will you donate to a cause you believe in? Will you drive less and walk more? Eat locally-grown, organic vegetables? Drink tap water from a glass jar instead of bottled water? Spend some time listening to a veteran who feels the way this young man does, but doesn't know how to begin to talk about their experiences? Sign a petition in support of our brothers and sisters in Guatemala, Ecuador or elsewhere?

This month we celebrate Mothers Day. Did you know that this holiday began in 1858 as a peaceful protest against war and injustice? Inaugurated to honor mothers as the care-takers, care-givers, and life-bearers of the world, I believe its origins speak to the peaceful, loving compassionate tendencies in all human beings. What started as a heartfelt cry from mothers for their sons now reverberates out through towns, states and countries, through decades more poignantly than ever before. Maybe what we need to do is take a breath, be willing to admit that we got off track somewhere along the line, humble ourselves enough to start over and do the courageous work of restoring the balance we all long for.

 

In honor of the mothers of the victims in Boston, young women in India, displaced Maasai familes, trees - the lungs our our planet - cut down in their prime, soldiers everywhere, slaughtered baby elephants… the mothers of those misguided young men, of your own mother, I ask you… what will you commit to doing differently - today - to get that you matter, love more fiercely and restore the balance?

Step Up, Give Up, and Be Love

As we move into this new and already transformative year, it seems to me we are all being asked to "step up and give up." Step up and raise the bar of our consciousness- both individually and collectively. Give up anything that stands in the way - be it habits, addictions, or attachments to things or even identities. As I often say, we are at a crossroads in human history. Can you feel it? The opportunity to choose the very fate of humanity is in our hands… and, despite the fact that much needs to change in the big picture, what is truly going to make the difference is all of the small, seemingly insignificant choices we make on a daily basis. It is these choices, the outward expressions of our willingness to "step up and give up," that will collectively add up to tip the scales in the direction of creating a world that works for everyone. It's about taking care of our many communities… one thought, belief, word, attitude and action at a time.

In the wake of the heartbreaking tragedy in Newtown, CT, I have been wondering how to make sense of it, and honestly, I have not been able to… other than to continue to ask myself, "What would love do now?" I love this question because it brings me back to the fact that I am always have an opportunity to be accountable for

Being Love with everyone in my life. In doing that, I can make my contribution to a more peaceful and loving world.

So, I invite you to consider where you can "step up" by sharing an acknowledgment with someone you just met, give others an opportunity to share what's in their hearts by giving the gift of listening, or reaching out and offer a helping hand to someone in need. Or consider "giving up" being right about a position you have held that causes separation between you and someone else or choosing language that causes pain or separation (such as gossip).

What would love do now?

Our dear friends at Challenge Day shared these wise words, "During times of tragedy, it's natural for many of us to experience anger, upset and strong emotions. Now, more than ever, we invite you to Be The Change and join us in choosing love. Instead of dialogue that causes separation, let's all create opportunities for connection and cooperation." You can learn more about their tireless work to create a world where everyone feels safe, loved and celebrated here. Consider that, if we focus on what is best for the whole (which includes us!), we can't help but succeed!

In honor of this time of great change, I invite you to try on one or both of these Superpowers of Community - acknowledgment and apology - to begin your process of "stepping up and giving up." In taking on acknowledging others for who they are (rather than what they do) or apologizing for any way in which you have showed up as anything less than love for anyone, I invite you to see for yourself that transforming the world can be as easy as changing ourselves… it's an inside job.

Here's to a year filled with more blessings than we can possibly imagine.

 

Photos come from Challenge Day.

Happy Birthday, Wendy... don't forget to write!

I hardly know how or where to begin it's been so long since I've actually sat down to "just write." No agenda. No strategy or plan. Just writing. I've forgotten.... This weekend, I had the great pleasure of leading a Sacred Commerce workshop in San Francisco with an amazing dear friend, Batul Trueheart, and it brought me to yet another round of deeper thinking - the spiral "peeling of the onion," so to speak. In coming up on my 50th birthday, I'm experiencing a re-assessment of my life in a more thorough way than I have in a while. I was saying to someone the other day, "It feels like my soul is being roto-rootered" - scrubbed with about 25 boxes of steel wool, so nothing is left undone. It's as if every spot of whatever has been stuck on the walls of my heart for the last few years is getting a fair amount of extra elbow grease from God.

One of our homework assignments we invite our participants to do is make an "Integrity List." It's a list of all the places where we're out of integrity in any way- unpaid bills, unspoken communications, broken agreements - to which we attach dates for completion (sooner rather than later) that we can use to recalibrate ourselves. It's what helps us "course correct" to stay in alignment with our mission or purpose and step up as leaders in our own lives. Some of the items on that integrity list may include communications such as requests, apologies and acknowledgments.

In reflecting on the weekend as I was driving back home to the mountains, I realized that I have a longer integrity list than I care to admit, including some fairly size-able apologies and requests. Let the roto-rootering begin! Waking up this morning to a mosquito buzzing in my ear and a slight breeze whispering in the branches above, I knew it was time to start writing again - regardless of what it was about. I knew that one of my biggest out-of-integrity pieces was the commitment I made this January to write, no matter what - even if it was for five minutes a day, to keep up my blog and write a monthly newsletter for Get That You Matter.

I have utterly failed at keeping that commitment. And I know that failure doesn't mean anything unless I make it so. And, in all honesty, I have made this particular failure mean so much that I've actually started to avoid any substantial writing because I've made up a story that there's so much to write about, I can't even begin to begin. I got so caught up in the "doing" of starting this company, I kept putting off the very thing that was the catalyst for this whole enterprise in the first place.

In honor of working on my integrity list, I apologize to myself and anyone else with whom I shared that commitment. And... I re-commit to writing as much as I can - even if it's only for five minutes. The great thing is, now I actually have an amazing team with whom to share the work of Get That You Matter. This is truly helping me to give myself the experience of feeling more spacious and peaceful - the qualities I cherish for my writing time.

 

It is also a special day today... August 21st. It would have been my mom's 72nd birthday.

In reflecting on her life, her impact on everyone around her and her legacy, I feel a nudging from her spirit... as if she's saying, "Don't forget to write," which are the words on a pencil I found almost exactly two years ago while hiking in Topanga Canyon with my wonderful friend, Alejandra. We were actually talking about my mom when, suddenly, I got this urge to look down and I saw a pencil lying in the dirt. I picked it up and noticed along its length, in small silver letters, were inscribed the words, "Don't forget to write." Of course, I got chills all over and knew it was a message from my mom.

Despite our challenges, she always, always encouraged me to be myself, to listen to my heart and to follow my dreams. She was an unparalleled cheerleader who made everyone around her feel as if she was always there for them... and she often was, even when she was sick and barely able to get off the sofa. She had more of an influence on me than I will likely ever know, and I'm grateful for those moments when I look in the mirror and see her in the shape of my mouth, the look in my eyes or the expression on my face.

Mom, thank you. Thank you for being such a vibrantly creative person. Thank you for being such an invitation to everyone who met you - an invitation to fun, joy and celebration as well as to reflection, deep conversations and connection. Thank you for being such an amazing friend - to your siblings, your neighbors, your colleagues, your grandchildren and to me. Thank you for BEing Inspiration... your spirit lives on. I love you and am so grateful to have had you with us for as many years as we did.

Happy Birthday, Mom! We miss you... don't forget to write!

Question of the Week… January 22, 2012

How could you contribute to your community or the world this year?

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

What?!?! Keeping Students from the Polls?

Just had to post this before I knock off for the night. I saw this article on my friend Daniel's facebook page and got all fired up about this whole push to keep out-of-state college students from voting in the upcoming election. This is simply outrageous. In the words of Roseanne Roseannadanna , "What are you tryin' to do, make me sick?!"

If I read the article correctly, there is a move afoot in a number of states to make it, let's say, "challenging" for out-of-state students to vote in person on Election Day. The article states, "Political leaders should be encouraging young adults to participate in civic life, but many Republican state lawmakers are doing everything they can instead to prevent students from voting in the 2012 presidential election. Some have openly acknowledged doing so because students tend to be liberal." I have two adult children who both live outside of California, one of whom is still in college, and I am absolutely going to make sure my daughter has the opportunity to utilize her birthright to vote for the first time in her life.

However, instead of continuing to be angry and frustrated (and sick) or giving up and staying quiet about this, I offer these invitations to take a stand against this injustice.

First... If you are an out-of-state student, make sure you REGISTER to vote! If you're an in-state student, register to vote! For goodness' sake, everyone - register to vote.

Second... Do your homework. Find out your state regulations regarding early voting, government-issued photo-id and other possibly very recently passed legislation that could affect your right to vote.

Third... I want to suggest that, rather than fight a likely uphill battle against this movement to silence millions of voters, college students could consider one of the following options:

1. Apply to get an absentee ballot mailed to you well in advance (like, 5 months!) of the election and be sure to return it to your home state before the deadline. Every state has different requirements, so search for "[your state] absentee ballot 2012" and you should find information on how to apply (if you can), like this page on the California state website.

OR

2. Create a MASSIVE grassroots movement of out-of-state college students returning home to vote in person. This could actually be a wonderfully creative way to generate a great voter turnout and save money on travel expenses by traveling during a non-holiday week. Hey, you could get two great meals out of it! You could have an early Thanksgiving celebration with your families and one with your college friends on the actual holiday.

Regardless of your political persuasion or of how broken you think our political system may or may not be, it is not only our right but also our privilege to vote. And having to miss your first (or maybe second) opportunity to participate in the democratic process because of such heinous legislative sleight-of-hand is absolutely tragic.

As the NY Times Editorial stated, "Imposing these restrictions to win an election will embitter a generation of students in its first encounter with the machinery of democracy." As far as I can see, many students are already embittered. Why add more fuel to a fire that's already burning?

I'm just sayin'... "There's more than one way to skin a cat," as my grandfather Elsworth used to say.

Students, young people... you do not have to buy into the fear mongering you see and hear in the media, nor do you have to "go gentle into that good night." If you can't "rage against the dying of the light" of your birthright, at least you can get around it. You can join forces with other young people around the globe - there are thousands of ways to stand up and be heard.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5joE6AjPl30

Be creative, be bold, stand for your right to vote and be counted. Because, now more than ever, every act matters. Now, more than ever, every one of us matters.

 

Okay, that's my 2 cents worth in the first minutes of the third day of this RE-EVOLUTIONARY New Year!

love to all....

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.

Becoming with Be Love Radio

It was such an honor to share the time with Kidest for her Be Love radio show once again. She is an amazing host and a powerful force of love on the planet. We had a great conversation about Becoming... and all it takes to do that. Taking risks and stepping out of our comfort zones (and looking at all the excuses we use not to do that), stretching (and all the reasons we make up for staying small), integrity, taking responsibility and great practices like Ho-oponopono. When we really begin to BECOME who we are here to be, as Kidest said, "It's as if the whole Uni-verse took a step with you!" Since I'm on Maui this week for the Cafe Gratitude Aloha Awakenings retreat, I'm gonna keep today's post short and sweet, but suffice to say, I highly recommend listening to the replay and trying on this week's Meditation, Mantra and Movement. Until the next show, I wish you a couple of weeks of becoming even more of who you are here to be!

AlooooHA!

Meditation for Becoming: "What will it take for me to become who I am meant to be?"

What keeps you from stepping up? What do you need in order to become the person you are meant to be? Journal about what it would take for you to become who you are meant to be.

Mantra for Becoming: "I am becoming…"

What can you tell yourself on a daily basis to remember who you are becoming? What can you tell yourself when you feel like hiding? What words can strengthen your resolve and help you to remember that you matter?

Movement for Becoming: Take a bold step toward your Becoming!

What action, if you took it in the next few days, would help you step out of your comfort zone into a bigger you? What would move you powerfully toward being even more of your best self?

P.S. If you are in the Los Angeles area the weekend of April 9th and 10th, please join me for two amazing events! Saturday April 9th is the Cafe Gratitude Intro. to A New View of Love workshop with Jon Marro and myself, and Sunday April 10th is the Leaders Causing Leaders Salon in Palos Verdes. I hope to see you there!

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.