listening

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!

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

Everything is Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Mary Oliver ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Rumi ~

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

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

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

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

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

Notes from Erin… 50 and Loving It!

I recently turned 50 and I have to say there is a qualitative difference in this new decade that I hadn't bargained for, even a few months ago. The only way I can describe it is that it feels like a slowing down, a care-less-ness that I wouldn't define as apathetic or lazy, but an attitude of not worrying so damned much as I used to. This isn't to say I don't worry at all - it's just to say that my experience of anxiety has calmed down somewhat.

Perhaps it's the coming of winter (which always seems to give rise to an authentic desire to crawl into my cave and hibernate). But perhaps it's also a deeper letting go... an experience of equanimity so unfamiliar that it sometimes causes me to worry that I'm not worrying enough.

The nearly constant and familiar sense of drive, keeping up, doing more and going faster that I used to experience seems to be giving way to a new, slightly unnerving and yet wholly beautiful phenomenon of being okay right where I am – even if I feel wholly uncomfortable. And, I have to say, I have been in what feel like some extremely uncomfortable situations lately, especially when it comes to stretching into raising my bar of participation in community and relationships of all kinds.

Most of the time I relish this novel experience. Sometimes, though, as I mentioned, I worry that I may be letting everyone (yes, everyone) down in the expectations I've created that I am always up for being "out there," on the go and fired up about whatever it is that's got my attention in any particular moment. Have I become a recluse in a matter of weeks or is this simply the shedding of an identity which serves me less and less?

I choose the latter. I still thoroughly enjoy the company of others, getting lost in the rabbit hole of facebook and other webby delights, and being out on the town when I'm not tucked away at home in the middle of the forest. But, if you really knew me, you would know that I am happiest when I'm either walking barefoot on heavily calloused feet through the forest, listening to the sounds of the wind in the trees and birds scratching around in the pine needles, harvesting volunteer potatoes in my miniature garden, reading a good book with Miles Davis' "Flamenco Sketches" floating on the air, or when I've plunked myself down to write and let whatever wants to be said be said. Honestly (and this is quite scary to admit): For the most part, I like my own company better than anyone else's. I'm just happy as a clam here in my little cave!

The thing is, I simply don't feel the compulsive need to be seen and heard as much as I used to – which, yes, sometimes worries me. The question is… am I already giving up when I haven't even really gotten started with "what I'm here to do?" Have I lost my passion?

I don't think so, but I'm entirely open to hearing that I could be completely deluding myself. I think what's happening, though, is that I'm finally realizing I don't have to save the whole planet (in this lifetime anyway) – I just have to do my part, whatever that is in any given moment. And my part doesn't have to look like what I thought it did six years, six months or even six weeks ago.

This new line of thinking feels wholeheartedly dangerous as it seems to go against the grain of everything I have written about in my upcoming (yes, it's still upcoming...) book, Getting That You Matter. I'm getting ready to hunker down and finish it (finally!) and what I'm dreading is the verification of a deep intuition that it may very likely end up much shorter (God forbid!) and much simpler (again!) than I had thought it would be. Six years ago, I had every intention of writing a masterpiece of personal transformation and inspiration – not to say that it won't be inspiring, but I'm simply not as attached to the outcome of pretty much anything as I was in my 20's, 30's or 40's.

I'm deeply present to the fact that, as much as part of me wants to make my mark on the world (whatever that might look like), the bigger me - the essential feminine that's been lying in wait in the shadows of my external identity - is keenly aware that something else is afoot. In other words, I think there are other, or at least additional and very interesting, plans in store for this little chickadee... stay tuned!

 

 

p.s. Here are a couple little poems I wrote after a lovely walk in our utterly fogged-in meadow the other day. I hope you enjoy them!

fog in the meadow

trees disappear, path reveals

alone in the white

 

a curtain of white

opens, opens ahead,

revealing the path with each step.

trees, barn, creek come clear.

the curtain of mist

closes, closes behind,

concealing the trail I have left.

trees, grass, fear disappear.

 

 

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!)