beauty

grateful for gratitude… witnessing the re-birth of hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

i am so grateful for being grateful.

what are you grateful for?

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

erin and cow

lessons from the lunar eclipse… being part of the tapestry

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

October 8th, 2014...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lunar eclipse

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

THE BEAUTY OF INSIGNIFICANCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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… 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!)

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.

Discovering Oneness at the Planetarium

Read my story on the Cafe Gratitude blogsite about the show, Life: A Cosmic Story. It's an amazing example of the world of science proving what mystics have been saying for thousands of years... that we are all One.



TO READ MORE... visit the Cafe Gratitude website where you will also 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!

Superforest, Ommwriter and White Space

In the midst of helping to plan this ginormous event earlier this month called Leaders Causing Leaders (by FAR the biggest thing I've ever produced - besides my two kids!) which you may have heard about, organizing and leading Cafe Gratitude workshops about once a month in L.A. ...AND starting a business, I actually managed to stay abreast of some really great things. I also had the privilege of meeting some incredible people… one of them being Mathew Harreld, an amazing 19-year-old blogger for Superforest.

He has since become another one of my adopted sons and is now officially part of my family, whether he likes it or not! (Did I tell you this, Mathew? Well, if I didn't, now you know!) I was so inspired by his BEING and his passion for Superforest (and a fabulous endorsement by Jason Mraz that Superforest is his homepage) that I had to check it out myself.

So I did, and since doing so, I am proud and honored to say that Superforest is now my homepage as well! I love booting up my computer in the morning, knowing that the first experience I am going to have is of inspiration, joy and hope. I get to read wonderful words and watch inspiring videos from contributing bloggers around the globe. How cool is that?!?! (Then, I go to my email and read my daily emails from The Daily Love, Mary Morrisey, TUT and the question of the day from Cafe Gratitude. What a fabulous way to start any day - waaaaay better than Wheaties!)

So, here it is November 28th, 2010 and I could write about a whole lot of things... about how I have one dollar in my wallet, about how easy it can be to focus on what I don't have and how easy it can be to forget all that I DO have. I could write about all the things happening "out there" in the world. But honestly, what's coming to mind/heart is how much I LOVE this new writing program I'm using called Ommwriter... you GOTTA check it out.

I know, writing about a program is not the most romantic or even inspiring topic, but truly it is the most beautiful way to write I've ever seen and I plan on using it a WHOLE lot more. I learned about it on Superforest (woohoo!) and am thoroughly in love with it. It makes writing a meditative experience... like an extension of my meditation.

I've noticed that my morning pattern has shifted from getting up and at 'em right out the gate to one of a softer entry to my day. I'm really relishing my quiet time in the mornings, finding myself drawn to getting up earlier again (now that I've pretty much recovered from being completely overextended for  the last 6 months)... to meditate, make my cup of tea and write. It feels like my natural rhythm more than getting up and going out for a walk or run. It's slower, more "me friendly," more in alignment with my sensibilities than with the habit of being so much in over- or hyper-drive.

And this program is quickly becoming a wonderful part of that morning quiet time. I mean, listening to beautiful meditation bells or a soft, echoing minimalist symphony just provides this natural state of quiet mind that engenders my creativity and calm connection to what's being asked to come forth in the form of the written word like nothing else I've used before. Way to go Ommwriter folks!

Honestly, I don't - in this moment - feel like there's much I FEEL like writing about other than how good it feels to be quiet, to be connecting to my heart and soul and how much I love this program.

I could write about how lovely it was to spend a few precious days with my kids, their dad and close friends over the holidays. I could write about how I'm moving to San Francisco and all the excitement and newness and logistics around that. I could write about how I'm shifting from living deeply embedded in a story of scarcity and fear to generating a new story of abundance and faith for myself and what a s-t-r-e-t-c-h that is.

But right now, I'm not writing about any of those things. Really, all I want to do is listen to these bells, enjoy writing in the white space of a winter sky and b-r-e-a-t-h-e... deeply and fully, and feel how good it feels to be alive.

On The Road

I've driven up Love Creek Road countless times, ever since I was a small girl, and hardly a time goes by when I don't feel overjoyed when I turn off the highway and make my way up that winding, uneven ribbon that connects me to my soul affectionately known as "The Road." I always feel such incredible gratitude for my grandparents for having had the foresight to purchase this land - our family's legacy - all those years ago on which I have spent countless hours playing, dreaming, living, loving and growing.

There have been moments in every season when I have marveled, in tears, at the beauty of this road. In summer, the warmth of mid-morning seems to ooze out of every leaf, giving off that particular dusty smell that is only recognizable June through mid-September.
Autumn brings the parade of rusts and oranges of oak, roses and pinks of dogwood, bright yellows of maple, and apples, apples, apples. The rains come again, with that wonderful scent of earth rising, singing to my interior to prepare, to hunker down, to can and put away, to hibernate.
For winter is just around the bend, with its all-encompassing cold bearing the beauty of lacy black branches painted with ice crystals and pine boughs that look like white boxing gloves. The road is an ice palace, a carriage ride through Varykino in Dr. Zhivago. It is absolutely breathtaking.
Then, spring comes with hesitant daffodils, gentle buds of dogwood, the small curls of oak leaves, green shoots in the meadow under a varnish of frost and whisps of woodstove smoke floating through the canyon. It is the new day, the coming 'round of the year to its next birth.
The Road is my beacon in many ways. When I am feeling lost, afraid, faraway or confused, I bring my mind's eye to its grey patches and cracks, reminding me that life's journey is far from pristine. I mentally drive along its twists and turns, feeling calmer by the second as I recall particular turns in the creek dancing alongside, mom's mailbox, the "Forever" sign hanging above her bench in the gently sloping meadow, the barns, my hugging tree, the apple orchard. The colors and smells, the sounds of God whispering through the trees… all of it brings me back home to my heart and soul.
It is a rare gift to have such a place to actually visit when I feel overwhelmed by the world or simply need to recharge my internal batteries. To know that I can go any time I wish holds a sense of freedom and security I can hardy describe. It warms my heart to no end to know, too, that my children feel the same way about this place, this road. That they have had the opportunity to grow up on The Road and learn to love and revere its beauty and depth is the greatest gift I could ever have given them.
I wish for everyone a place like this, whether in reality or imagination. I believe that well all have a place inside where we reconnect with our deepest selves, each other and Spirit. My wish is that these places are as magical, restorative and empowering as The Road.

Enhanced by Zemanta