heart

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!

What About My Heart?

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

Beauty is like rain, falling from the skies.

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

The wounds of life, they bring healing my friend.

The heart that breaks is but opening again.

The heart that breaks is but opening again.

- "There is a light" by John Astin

Resources:

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

Question of the Week... March 18, 2012

What is your experience of how you manage your thoughts? Do you feel like you listen more to your head or to your heart?

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

Question of the Week... March 11, 2012

When you listen to yourself, how do you distinguish between the voice of your heart and the voice of your habitual thoughts?

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

Question of the Week... March 4, 2012

When you take the time to listen to yourself, do you hear the voice of your head or the voice of your heart... and what do you hear?

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

Question of the Week... February 26, 2012

When you take the time to listen to yourself, do you usually hear the voice of your head or the voice of your heart... and what do you hear?

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

BEing LOVE... what is your wish?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is your wish?

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

What is my wish?

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

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

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

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

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

Question of the Week… February 5, 2012

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

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

Question of the Week… January 29, 2012

How have you had a positive impact on the people in your life?

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

Question of the Week… January 15, 2012

Who matters the most to you and why?

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

Happy 2012... Choosing Kindness

I have been thinking about kindness a lot lately. The conclusion I've arrived at is that kindness is one of the single most important qualities we can embody with each other. This is not to say that other qualities aren't important; it's just that I've come to believe that kindness is the most essential quality to call forth when it comes to any relationship. Kindness is the cornerstone of love, the harbinger of awakening, and our most powerful touchstone when we're tempted to stay stuck in our smallness.

Our kindness engenders gratitude in others and the kindness of others magnifies our own experience of gratitude; not only that, the more kindness I express for and to those around me, the more grateful I feel. Gratitude bursts forth when we share or receive kindness… and living a grateful life engenders more kindness in turn.

Whether we're chatting with the clerk at the grocery store, greeting our partner after a long day of work, visiting with family members, getting on the bus, or looking in the mirror… every interaction is an opportunity to bring kindness to whatever relationship we're in at that moment.

I am tremendously present to the fact that I have an opportunity to choose kindness in every moment.

And, let me be perfectly honest, there have been many moments in the past when I didn't. I feel like I've gotten so much better in the last few years, but time and stepping into a committed partnership after years of being single will, I'm sure, give me many more opportunities to practice making that choice.

Consider that we've all acted on that hankering to say something unkind or to make a snide remark. Consider that we've all left kind acts undone – the ones that might require a little more effort on our part, like smiling when we don't "feel like it" or asking how someone's day is going. Sometimes it feels like going just the slightest bit out of our way to make someone's day better is more than we're up for. I've done it more time than I can possibly count… we're human and we forget who we really are – often. But what if we chose to practice being kind to the best of our ability every day?

Often, the person with whom we have to practice kindness with more than anyone is ourselves.

This morning as I was sitting in meditation I realized, on a deeper level than ever before, that all the energy I spend feeling like I haven't done enough, made the kind of progress I want to make (whatever that means) or contributed enough to the betterment of the world has been an act of incredible unkindness to myself. In that moment, a wave of kindness for myself washed over me and I felt as if a huge weight had been removed from my shoulders. What if simply being a loving presence is enough? What if sharing this beautiful life with the people I love, trusting that doing my best is always enough, is all that's required? What kind of kindnesses could I offer the world living from that place?

The level of freedom I experienced as I sat there was phenomenal. I feel like I was given one of the greatest gifts I have received in a very long time.

And, now, here we are… stepping into another New Year – an infamous one at that – 2012. It holds infinite possibilities for each of us to contribute to the people in our lives and the world around us. It holds endless opportunities to remember who we are and choose kindness as our customary behavior for every interaction. Regardless of what you choose, here are some questions to consider as you release 2011 and step forward into the coming year….

What if, in choosing to live from kindness and appreciation…

…it became the norm to express appreciation and kind words and deeds rather than put-downs?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc8ZbVcdHpg

 

…we felt the pain of others and reached out when we were able?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfeXxkbgCVE

 

...we laughed together with shared, spontaneous enjoyment of life rather than at each other's expense?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoYsQnENTUM

 

What if all it took was a shift in our consciousness… to BE Love rather than get love (as coined by my friends Matthew and Terces Engelhart, the founders of Cafe Gratitude)? What would we choose?

The truth is we always have the opportunity to choose kindness, to choose differently if we don't like the choices we've made before. Instead of being in reaction, we can choose to be "response-able" with our words, thoughts, deeds and attitudes towards others and ourselves. Instead of choosing out of habit or default, we can choose with a conscious awareness of the outcome of our choices.

In this new year, I commit to choosing kindness as often as I possibly remember. And I invite you, if you see me being unkind in any way - or holding back and playing small - to call me out and remind me of who I really am. We need each other to be reminded of who we really are, so I invite you to ask the people in your life to lovingly, kindly remind you when you forget.

At this momentous time, we are all - every one of us, as a species and as a civilization - being asked to step up our game. We are being asked to expand, stretch and grow into the larger expression of ourselves. It's time to get that we matter, to be the ones we've been waiting for, and to do it with kindness. What will you choose?

May 2012 be your best year ever!

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!

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.

Paying Attention... Orienting to the Heart on Be Love Radio

I really enjoyed speaking with Kidest OM on today's Be Love radio show. It's always an honor and a pleasure spending that half hour with her. She is truly a gift to the world; her consciousness, compassion and clarity shine through in every word. We talked about paying attention and slowing down enough to be able to bear witness to our own internal dialogue... the conversation between the heart and the head. We talked about how we can actually develop a conscious internal environment or family, if you will, wherein our heart is like the "good parent" of our mind. When we do so, we become the good steward of our own humanity.

There is incredible value in paying attention. When we do, we begin to understand ourselves and the choices we make with more clarity and compassion. So often we walk through our lives as if we have no idea of our impact on others. Sometimes we do, but much of the time we react to the world around us, rather than respond to it. In other words, we end up doing with little or no consideration for how we are being.

When we pay attention - compassionate, careful attention - to our beliefs, thoughts, words, attitudes and actions, we begin to make that necessary internal change from reactivity to response-ability, from doing to being. It is a very humbling experience to pay attention, but it is so crucial. It is even more humbling to realize when we haven't been paying attention. Like starting an exercise program, cultivating awareness is a practice of discipline and diligence; it sometimes seems daunting at first, but the more we do it the easier it gets. The whole point of paying attention is to give ourselves the gift of going inside so we can tap into our unique aliveness and get how very much we matter.

One of the best ways to develop the quality of paying attention is to listen to ourselves, intently, through some sort of regular contemplative practice. Regardless of what you call it, this is one of the most profound ways we can cultivate the ability to truly feel that we matter and have something to contribute. It may seem counter-intuitive - “Wait a minute! If I want to contribute, I need to be doing something, don’t I?” Not necessarily. Not doing with awareness is far more powerful than doing without awareness.

The trick is to get below that surface level of thought activity in our heads and settle into the place where we do our deepest listening - our Hearts. When we "take the elevator" down into our hearts, we are able to connect with the place where our deepest wisdom resides, the place where we remember who we truly are.

There is a caveat here – sometimes we can fool ourselves into believing that our heart is telling us something when it really is our head doing the talking. There are some great tools I use to help me discern my "heart voice" from my "head voice." If you listen to the radio show, you'll hear me go through each of them; for sake of ease, I call them "Weighing the Options," "Lighting Up" and "Body Wisdom."  These tools are very useful for tuning into our intuition and making clear, conscious choices. Then we must trust the choices.

And there will be times - often, daily! - when our head takes over and we forget. Just like my friend Tricia Huffman talks about in her vlog, "I make sh-xx-t up," we make stuff up all the time because our minds need to feel important.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Mjj6Iyt-jek

So if we just remember the mind likes to make stuff up about all kinds of things, then we can start to work in team with our heart and our minds and we're well on our way. It’s like the heart is the good, loving parent and the mind is this curious, playful, often petulant, mischievous, testing, sometimes rebellious, sometimes obedient, demanding child. It is a parent’s job to take care of their child, to guide it and to be the good steward of its wellbeing. In other words, we get to re-parent our minds, observing them from the loving, interested distance of the fair witness or parent.

We don't have to make our heads wrong or bad, we get to say, ‘Wow! Look what I learned from that situation.” Our choices are perfect because they take us to the next right place for our evolution, even if it may feel painful and not at all perfect at the time. That requires the willingness to take time to pay attention, the discipline to do it regularly, and a large helping of humility and humor. It’s not always easy to pay attention, but it is always rewarding. When we do, we find inspiration from those lessons and have the opportunity to see just how much we matter.

This week's Meditation, Mantra and Movement

Meditation- Paying Attention: What do I notice about myself? Journal about what you notice and what you pay attention to regarding your thoughts, words, beliefs, attitudes and actions. Do you usually listen to your mind or your heart? If you were going to live from your heart on a regular basis, what would you need to let go of? What would you need to claim or embrace?

Mantra- Paying Attention: What are your questions? What could you ask yourself to develop more self-awareness? Maybe it's "What do I need in this moment?" or "What will serve my highest and best in this situation?" In other words, what are your "hard questions"? Connecting with your heart, create one or more questions to help you pay attention.

Movement- Paying Attention: Give yourself the attention you most need! Is there something you need to do or create to develop more awareness? When you receive the answers to your "hard questions," notice what most needs attention and give that to yourself, even if it's uncomfortable. Watch what happens when you stretch and give yourself what you most need.

100 People... 4 years. go.

A couple months ago I woke up to this blog and video on Superforest (my favorite way to greet the world when I turn on my computer!): Miniature Earth

It really made me think... even more deeply... that, if there were only 100 people in the world, I would of course want to make sure that EVERY ONE OF US had enough food, clean water, shelter, health care. I wouldn't be able to live in a world of 100 where any of the members of my little community was suffering while I was eating enough and sleeping out of the rain. So... if I wouldn't let that happen if the world only had 100 human inhabitants, why do we let that happen in a world of billions and plenty?

TO READ MORE... visit the full post on the Cafe Gratitude blogsite. Check it out and you'll see what's happening in that amazing community! Feel free to post comments here or at the Cafe Gratitude site. Thank you and blessings....

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.

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