listening to your heart

celebrating, creating and... mostly, reassessing... birthday musings

if you really knew me, you would know that,for the last four months, i've been working on launching an amazing movement  in partnership with an amazing team of people led by one of my favorite humans and dear friend, Jonathan Budd. and, if you know Jonathan, you know that when he does things - he does things BIG. so, i'm really excited and honored to announce that this month's blog is an adaptation from a letter i wrote to my team about our part in... Powur, a r-EVOL-utionary new solar movement which is committed to changing the game in as big a way as we can for our planet and all beings. i hope you enjoy reading it... it came from my heart and i hope it calls forth something in you to create more passion and balance in your life, too.love, erin

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it was my birthday week before last… and, as i do every year, i took some time to think about where i'm at in my life - what i'm celebrating, what i'm creating and where i need to reassess.

i have so much to celebrate - an amazing relationship with my husband Jakob; our four inspiring kids; our wedding/ community gathering here in July at The Refuge (our 3-acre farm); being part of an incredible solar movement; this beautiful blustery day heralding the beginning of autumn. i am deeply grateful for so many things.

there has been a multitude of opportunities to create, too - concerts, classes, workshops and other events here at The Refuge; finishing my book and getting back to blogging at www.getthatyoumatter.com (after a very long absence...); this r-EVOL-utionary solar movement. honestly... i'm a bit overwhelmed by it all. 

mostly, i spent a lot of my birthday reassessing my life... both before i had the honor of joining this movement and now, in my place as a leader in it. and what i've come to see - with crystal clarity - is that as much as i might want to try to be, i am not a "marketer" but rather a "connector and supporter." in other words, i'm a coach. 

if you really knew me, you would know that i spent the vast majority of the first 1/2 of my life leaning outward to give support and attention to others rather than standing in my own space and meeting them from here. in other words, taking care of and/or doing what i thought would please everyone else and making sure their needs were met, often at my own expense. as you probably have already noticed, i'm a naturally giving and open person who loves supporting others... and i really do enjoy (and get a lot out of) living from that place. truly.  what i've come to learn, however, is that it is neither enjoyable nor sustainable for me to do so when it's inauthentic or i'm doing it because i want to look good and get lots of strokes for "being there" for everyone. when i've leaned too far out, i have often suffered - mentally, emotionally and physically. this year, i did that and it took a toll on my health in some unexpected ways. it's all good... i'm navigating my healing process and am grateful for the opportunities to learn and heal some very old core wounds. ah, the peeling of the onion.... 

what this has given me the chance to see is that, for me, being a "marketer" falls into the masculine realm of doing, pushing onward, burning the midnight oil, and being "out there" as an outmoded version of a "warrior" on the forefront of whatever movement or cause i'm part of. this is where i've spent most of my life as an over-achieving only child with a lot to prove. but, as i step into my 54th year inhabiting this beautiful planet, i am experiencing that my body is no longer able to sustain that kind of dynamic. and, honestly, i don't even want to. what's coming forward more clearly and loudly, as i listen to my deep inner wisdom, is the voice of my heart, of intuition, of the fair witness, of balance and transparency... the voice of the feminine. this is not the one who is not attached to looking good, doing things right or better, getting A's, having the biggest team or all the answers.

is it easy for me to make this shift? absolutely not! my ego (Edging God Out) is kicking and screaming all the way... "stay up until you're past exhausted to show everyone that you're really committed," "look at how many people you have on your team- you're the best!" or "you haven't done enough- you're a failure"... oy! the litany!

is it necessary? absolutely. if i don't, i will not be who i came here to be.

what i'm seeing is that i must call forth balance in this process. i must bring forth my feminine, allowing for space and thoughtfulness, making room for down time and deep conversations, creating an environment (both inner and outer) which reflects true sustainability for myself and my team. after all, isn't sustainability what this movement is all about in the first place? if we are not able to sustain ourselves as we birth this game-changing shift of humanity's presence on the planet, then we cannot possibly hope to create sustainability on a global level. yes we are in a time of urgency, even emergency… but i must allow my deeper authentic self to emerge-and-see in order to midwife this birth.

so, in honor of my birthday musings, i offer you this:  i am completely clear that we are at the beginning of creating and celebrating a new kind of Warrior... one who lives from the balance of their heart and mind; one who knows that although there is urgency, slow and steady wins the race; one who knows, without a shred of doubt, that they are in the right place at the right time. so i ask you... are you that Warrior? what are you here for? are you here to grow yourself? are you here to awaken human consciousness? are you here to join me in this soul-searching, life-changing movement? are you here to create a win/win/win (for you, your fellow humans and the planet)?

if you choose not to, i bow to you and say "thank you for considering my invitation." whether you decide to sally forth or know that being part of this movement is not the choice for you at this time, i wish you well from the bottom of my heart.

thank you for listening to your deep inner wisdom.

with love and blessings,

erin

Balance

earth day 2015... where is the accountability?

today is Earth Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earth-May31today is Earth Day.

this is the only home we have.

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

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

to belong...talkingcircle

1. to fit in a specified place or environment

2. to be a member of a particular group

3. to be rightly placed in a specified situation

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

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

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

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

longing... a yearning desire

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

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

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

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

long...

1. covering a great distance (space)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 vs. doing… part 2

giving up my personal will… ahhhhhhhh!!!

Worry won't stop the bad stuff from happening

wednesday, february 19 2014

i've been up since 3:46. feeling hopeless, less than grateful and slightly numb.

i've been struggling. again. with my spiritual practice. with getting things done. with wondering what i'm missing that is causing my bank account to be at another all-time low. with anxiety (if you really knew me). with pride. with saying what i feel i need to say even when it's f-xx-ing terrifying. like right now.

am i depressed? i don't know.

i'm struggling. yet again. with another cycle of Being vs. Doing… the cycle of staying present one moment enjoying the ride, then flying off the merry-go-round in some version of the past (practiced apart scarcity tale) or future (feeling unsure terrified uncertain restless expecting- ooh! good acronym!) the next.

i'm struggling. with this great urge to WAKE UP - myself, others, the world - to what's going on in the world. to the tragedy of repeated human folly, this broken record of behaviors we seem to be incapable of changing. to my fear that i can't do anything about any of it. to this hopelessness sometimes disguised as cynicism about my government, the corporate machine and about our ability to make a real, lasting shift before it's too late.

i'm struggling. with the fact that i pour my heart into these blogs and hope that someone will comment on them, but when i check for comments, all i see are 2,344 pieces of spam which, although sometimes look like actual comments, turn out to be complete crap. i wonder… am i writing into a black hole? are all these words just my over-active brain on some really great ego-trip thinking that someone else actually cares about the things i care about? is this just a glorified diary minus the miniature lock and teeny tiny key? am i just shouting into the void with a big, colorful yet broken, silent megaphone?

ok. i guess i'm depressed. a little bit. (and indulging in a pretty good-sized pity party.)

maybe the fact that i wake up at least once a week at 3 or 4 in the morning with anxiety - about everything from money to worrying about the elephants to the fact that my to do list seems to be getting longer rather than shorter- has something to do with it. hmmmm….

and, then of course, i worry that, if i post this blog - this one - the confessional about how messy i feel right now, it will be the one that gets more response than the one i worked on so hard about the NSA and our blasé attitude about the fact that we are all being watched by our own government. i keep asking myself, "what's the point of all this writing, anyway?" am i just jerking off publicly? or are these random postings actually helpful to someone else? (i sure hope so.)

to be perfectly honest, i'm struggling with this habitual drive to make a difference in the world and my deep desire to just go work in the garden. i really, truly wonder- what is the best way for me to "be the change" i wish to see in the world? 

option a) make a difference:

strategy… try to make Get That You Matter the global movement i envisioned a few years ago. use my will to "put myself out there" in the biggest way possible. go boldly forth into what i make up would be a more-than-busy schedule of marketing, promotion and sales (gag me!) in a go-go-go frenzy to "make my mark" and get this message out. sell the book on Amazon (booooo!). do the "power woman" thing (i.e. sacrifice my personal relationships, down time and walks in nature) to serve "the greater good" as i sally forth to make real my vision of inspiring millions of people.

outcome… honestly, as much as i know this message is good (maybe even great) and as much as i believe in it (having poured my heart and soul into it for the last 7+ years), whenever i think about what it would take to do this, i want to throw up.

hmmm… is this my resistance? or is it my deep knowing that something is really "off" about this entire approach? i don't know.

option b) work in the garden:

strategy… allow Get That You Matter to grow organically, slowly and locally (kinda like the only food we should be eating). work on a grassroots level. "think globally, act locally." maybe get a job so i don't have to worry about how i'm going to pay next month's bills. trust that it will get to who it needs to get to with word-of-mouth. let someone else do some gentle yet effective marketing (yes!). meditate. pray. write books, blogs and poetry. read good books. grow lettuce and carrots. cultivate my personal relationships. laugh and love with my sweetheart. walk in nature. slow down, knowing that my will is shaky and deceptive at best. use and TRUST Divine Will. serve the "community good" and, if it unfolds naturally, the "greater good" as i sally forth with my journal, computer and pitchfork in hand.

outcome… even though this option is scary for my ego to even consider, whenever i think about it, i breathe more deeply and want to cry.

hmmm… is this my resistance to being "unstoppable"? is it me giving up on my dreams? or is this my deep knowing that something is right on about this approach? i'm 97% sure this is the option to choose.

the trick is… remembering to give up my will, to let the Divine be my guide and to be grateful.

Is This My Resistance To Being Unstoppablei have written about gratitude and all kinds of things to help me remember. and sometimes, i forget. huge chunks of my joy and peace flake off like the Manhattan-sized iceberg that calved off of Antarctica a few weeks ago. sometimes it feels like the surrender, the joy, the gratitude are as slow to grow as glaciers. sometimes it feels like it's right here. like this gorgeous sunrise shining through the window (yes, i've been up since 3:46am.).

i recently saw a couple of posts by two women who are very wise and popular… women i admire for "making it" with their life's passions and, to be perfectly frank, women whom i envy for the same reason. kind of like they inspire me and make me sick all at the same time. (and that is so not about them… i hope some day i have the opportunity to share this with them.)

the first post was on facebook by Lissa Rankin. i really resonated with it because i think that's partly what my struggle is about:  "…the more I deepen on my spiritual path, the more I realize that the very will I've counted on my whole life in order to achieve my goals is sabotaging me. As Adyashanti writes, 'True realization, true enlightenment, comes through a complete relinquishing of personal will- a complete letting go…. By surrendering the illusion of personal will, a whole different state of consciousness is born in us; a rebirth happens.' Imagine that. Rebirth. Resurrection. Surrender... Anthony de Mello said, 'Enlightenment is absolute cooperation with the inevitable.' Wouldn't that be a relief, to finally let go of the handle, stop trying to force your personal will on an uncontrollable universe, and just TRUST?"

after that, i saw this gorgeous piece, "The Initiated Woman," by Danielle LaPorte which sang to my soul, especially this line. "She knows that when people are ready, they’re ready, and they’re never ready before they’re ready. Still, she holds the light for your readiness, because she knows how sweet it is when the time is right." honestly, it made me a bit sad because i don't think i have completed my own initiation. what i mean is, i make up that i haven't yet become as fierce as i may need to be. but, what i know for certain is that we are always ready when we're ready- never a moment before and never a moment too late. i know that, deep in my bones, because what's going on here is that i simply haven't been ready. until this year. and so it all comes back to giving up personal will. i've had moments of that - even months on end - when i let go of all the drive and comparison and surrendered to the moment, to the "inevitable" truth of the Divine, rising up and greeting the day with tears of joy and gratitude. total bliss. but… it seems like every time i'm striving or efforting or wanting to "make it" (whatever the hell that means!), i spiral down into this place. right here.

yes. i'm depressed. today. i've been forgetting that my will is not what matters. i've been forgetting to surrender. i've been forgetting that i matter just because i exist, and that my words are ringing true somewhere - even if it's just in my own heart.

what to do about it?

choose option b.

pray. pray. pray.

drink some more hot cocoa (that always helps).

go pull some weeds.

get busy and write my next blog.

 

or just breathe.

The Power of Commitment

What would be possible if you committed to something biglast week i had the opportunity to make a commitment to a friend in a really meaningful way - to drop or reschedule a lot of other things in order to be there for him. and, honestly, although it meant that i fell behind in a few things (like this blog), i wouldn't have done it any differently. then i had the great pleasure of having my dad and stepmom, stepsister and her family, and my kids all together at my house for the very first time. it was an historical moment for our family, and i chose to reschedule some things in order to commit to being fully present with them since most of them had made the commitment to travel from great distances to be here for just a few days. i managed to keep my commitment to my meditation and yoga practices for the most part, but i have to admit i fell quite behind in my writing. "so what's up with all the 'commitment' lingo?" you might ask. well, because this month our Being Game is about BEing Committed. every time we commit to making something or someone a priority in our lives means that other relationships, events and circumstances will take their place "behind" that commitment.  in other words, every "yes" in one place is a "no" elsewhere. we either make those choices consciously or not. for me, it was a conscious choice. i knew i could choose to commit to being present with the people in my life or keep my commitment to my blog and book, but i couldn't do both. so i chose the relationships first. i could have chosen to beat myself up about getting a bit behind with my writing, but i am very confident that i chose well, and, in the process, i even got to live my personal mission of loving everyone and helping them remember who they really are. in the process of realizing that there was no way i was going to be able to keep all of my commitments without having something fall through the cracks, i got to let go of my previous ones with joy and clarity. the great thing is, everyone with whom i had to reschedule was completely understanding, i know i'll catch up on my book in no time at all, and i got a great blog topic out of it.

recently, my cousin Heidi shared an issue of the wonderful Happy Animals of Oregon magazine that she and her sister, Elissa, have created, and for which she is the managing editor. i asked her if i could reprint her article, Our Bit of Earth, for our Get That You Matter blog because she wrote about her commitment to caring for our planet with such heart and clarity. Here it is for you to enjoy (sorry, there's no website yet… they're working on it, though, and we'll let you know when it's up and running).

Heidi-BW 2OUR BIT OF EARTH

by Heidi Alford

At the recent annual meeting of Friends of the Columbia Gorge— one of my favorite places in Oregon—I heard about a proposal by coal companies to transport tens of millions of tons of coal through the Columbia River Gorge for export to China. Some coal is transported now, but there would be 20—50 trains a day traveling through the gorge in the future. Just one train can lose 10,000 lbs of coal as it moves, coal which blows off into the river and on to nearby land and animals. Coal contamination is linked to an increase in asthma and lung cancer. There’s also the risk of train derailments. 

The Columbia Gorge is a spectacular place, with over 77 waterfalls just on the Oregon side. There are more than 800 species of wildflowers and over 100 possible hikes with amazing vistas of Mt. St. Helens, Mt Hood, and the rest of the Cascade Mountains. To imagine that a place this magnificent might suffer the damaging effects of dirty energy was horrifying. A few days after the meeting I sat in my backyard astonished by the beauty of the lilacs, with Earth Day around the corner, and thought, What could be more important now than to live in a sustainable way? 

When I was young, life was simpler in at least one way. Most people didn’t reflect much about where the objects they bought and enjoyed came from, or how they were discarded. Most didn’t think about how the energy that heated their home was produced, or about the chemicals they used in their house and yard. Now there’s more information, but it comes with a seemingly endless list of choices:  organic versus local, old growth versus new, hybrid or cheaper used car, stick with oil or buy solar panels, use an herbicide or a trowel. Do we eat meat, dairy, eggs, or nothing from animals at all?

Trying to live sustainably starts with realizing that everything we buy and do for our comfort and pleasure affects the planet’s health, from how we create our objects and return them to the earth when they’re old to how we travel and set our thermostat. All of it. Michael Pollan, in his new book Cooked says it well: “What is the environmental crisis if not a crisis in the way we live? The Big Problem is the sum total of countless everyday choices most of them made by us… and the rest of them made by others in the name of our needs and desires.”

As I go through a day I make many small choices that affect the environment. Yesterday, my first choice was around showering. I respect the strong character of those who can take a short shower, as I find it just about impossible. Then I had to decide if I should turn up the thermostat or not. I put on a small fleece, and then a second, larger one. I still felt cold, and so, as I draw the line at wearing two fleeces, the heat went up. I needed to do an errand unexpectedly, and as we’ve chosen not to have a car, I hopped on my bike. It started to rain and I felt very grumpy for the whole ride there, wishing for a car. The way home was more pleasant, and I made peace once again with my mostly carless life. For lunch I decided to make myself a cheese sandwich— I’m not ready to go vegan. At home later, I discover we were low on toilet paper, so off to the grocery store I went, and had to make another small decision. One brand was softer; the other paper 100% recycled. My solution that day was to buy both. At home, although I like the idea of giving things a second life, I felt too lazy to wash the greasy plastic containers of hummus. Asking the god of green to look the other way, I threw them in the garbage. That afternoon, sorting through the mail, I found the energy report from PG&E with a graph that compares our energy use to similar homes in the neighborhood. Our electricity was low, but the line on the graph for our gas use was higher than my greenest neighbors. What?! Was it my refusal to put on the third fleece?

It’s sometimes hard to make good choices because you have incomplete information. This is what my statistician husband would call missing data. For instance, in many grocery stores there is no information on meat products that informs you about whether the animal was raised or killed in a humane way. Nor is there anything to alert you to the pollution caused by factory farms. Even when there is a label, like “cage free” on an egg carton, it can be completely misleading.

The environmental problems on earth now can feel overwhelming; the plight of the polar bears alone will break your heart. I try to make good choices and hope it makes a small difference. It’s wonderful, though, to know I am not alone. There’s a large and growing community of bee and hen keepers, solar energy startups, computer recyclers, green cleaners and landscapers, bikers and Prius owners. Scientists also continue to do their best to educate us about global warming. All of this contributes to a rethinking of how we live on our lovely planet. And that sustains me, and helps me fight for beautiful places like the Columbia Gorge.1

Heidi is a wonderful example of someone who is committed to thinking critically and making choices to care for our planet. ultimately, these are the kinds of commitments we must all make or suffer the consequences. so, i have a few questions for you:  what do you choose when you commit to something? what do you let go of? do you choose consciously or by default? how do you prioritize what you commit to? what commitments have you made to ensure a just, sustainable and thriving planet for all beings? and what could you commit to today - right now, even? are you willing to make some potentially uncomfortable choices in support of the greater good? would you be willing to consider…

  • closing your bank account at one of the megabanks like Bank of America (if you have one there) and transferring your funds to a local Credit Union, community or sustainable bank such as New Resource Bank?
  • buying holiday and other gifts locally at independent, family-owned enterprises, thrift stores, fairtrade cooperatives such as Global Exchange, or making them, or simply spending time together instead of buying them at malls or chain stores?
  • taking some time to support someone in your community by taking them where they need to go, buying supplies for them, or just spending time with them?

maybe you have a dream that's been gathering dust for weeks, months or years because you've been afraid to commit to making it a reality, whatever that means to you. it's not always easy to keep our commitments to ourselves and our dreams. it takes courage to say "yes" or "no." it takes willingness to wake up to what's happening around us. and it takes trust in the process of that journey. it's not just something that happens by chance - we must develop our capacity to make and keep our commitments, especially when we know, deep in our hearts, that they are true for us. did you know that John Perkins was turned down by 29 publishers before he got a "yes" for his international best-seller, Confessions of an Economic Hitman? talk about commitment… i bet those other publishers are kicking themselves now. as John said in an interview for the Monthly Review, "This is perhaps the most important revolution in human history. We are at a time that is comparable to or more important than the agricultural revolution or industrial revolution or technological revolution. This is a revolution in global consciousness, not merely a change that is necessary for the economic system. People everywhere, as well as nature, are facing the same crisis. We are beginning to see how we relate to everything else and what an important role we humans play in protecting this planet. So it is about waking up. We are all waking up to the incredible potential that human beings have."2

and, as our wonderful media director and founder of Deconstruction Crafts, Cheyenne Barr, wrote to me a few weeks ago when i expressed a concern that i may be getting too "political" with my blog:

I think we need to get political. We have our beliefs, our passions, and they're not all going to agree with everyone…. I think that it pays for us to really go deep… not to try to polish it so much that we're not saying what we really want to, or using GTYM as a platform for social, and planetary change. I never want GTYM to be white-washed…. Making ourselves taller than the pack, and standing out with these sorts of important issues is in our best interest. For our mission, it's necessary for us to stand up and know that WE matter, that our passions matter, that what we live for, that fills our lungs matters. Also, us taking a stance on political issues I believe is perfect, because we can have our beliefs and perspectives, and also see nothing wrong, nothing broken, no one with other beliefs being wrong, broken, or asleep. We aren't saying that anyone is wrong. That's the revolution. How do we CHANGE the world while keeping in how GREAT it already is?  This is my mission, to walk this line, and be totally standing in my own power and trust in myself as I do.

i ask you, what would be possible if you committed to something bold, something bigger than you, something meant to contribute to the world in a positive way, like Occupy Love? and what could you do today to begin to make that commitment? questions like these can be important in helping us stay committed to our life's mission and making choices from the place of getting that we matter. so i urge you to take on BEing Committed with us this month and watch what happens.

 

 

Notes:

1. Heidi Alford, "Our Bit of Earth," Happy Animals of Oregon, issue #11.

2. Interview with John Perkins, Monthly Review, March, 2013; http://monthlyreview.org/2013/03/01/rise-of-the-global-corporatocracy-an-interview-with-john-perkins

Lessons from A Game of Solitaire

The other evening I learned something really fundamental about business - or at least business as I'm doing it, which is definitely not "business as usual." 

shuffle cardsI was going to hunker down for another hour or so of work when I was inspired to play a game of cards. Yeah, I know. Cards? It felt a little weird to say "yes" to that impulse when I had so much to do and was feeling really guilty about not staying focused. But the message was clear - I was supposed to stop what I was doing and play a game of solitaire.

So I got out my deck of cards, sat down, shuffled them and dealt them out. And, as soon as I saw them, I knew the way the cards were laid out that it was not going to be fun to get to a "win." I could see that it was going to take far too much thinking and "figuring out." But I've tended to be one of those people who "sticks it out" at all costs, even when I know I should have let go a long, long time ago…. So I hunkered down for a not-so-fun game of cards, wondering why in the world I wasn't sitting at my computer.

But just as I had that thought, another came in a flash - "Pick them up and re-shuffle." Woah, that was not what I was expecting. What I was expecting was, "Hang in there, figure it out and stay the course." This was a clear message to start over - reset.

To be honest, my ego was kicking and screaming because it wanted to get the "goodies" of having gotten through finishing it the hard way (even though there's no one here to brag to if I'd stuck it out and gotten the "hard win," so it wouldn't even have been very satisfying). The thing is, I had seen, as soon as they were laid out, that I would have ended up gathering all the cards together in a pile without winning anyway. My "mission" of winning would have been unaccomplished because I was being attached to doing it the hard way. Anyone ever done that before?

Lesson #1:  You can always reset - any time… and that is okay.

 

So… I reshuffled the deck, laid out the cards again, and, as soon as I had, I knew I would win. I would accomplish my mission. Here's where lesson #2 began to unfold.

Before I go on, though, let me be completely transparent. I have spent much of my life going from point A (a bunch of cards staring me in the face) to point B (rearranging them into the winning configuration) either by working hard and figuring it out, or just "going for it," willy-nilly, blind to any strategy at all and letting the chips fall where they may. There's rarely been an "in between" with me. Until lately. The more I listen to my deep, inner wisdom (or higher guidance or voice of God - whatever you want to call it), the less I listen to my ego (you know, the voice that says, "I have to prove myself!" or "Who cares? It's just a game [job, relationship- fill in the blank]."). In other words, the more I tune in, the less I tune out. At least that's what I'm finding is far more workable.

So, as I sat there facing this new layout of cards, I realized I could do the same here. I could choose a middle ground - a delicious middle path some call the "sweet spot." So I simply sat for a while, just looking at the cards, letting the pictures and numbers kind of swirl around in my field of vision. In other words, I took a few minutes to just be with what was in front of me.

 Lesson #2: Be with what is.

 

What unfolded after that was a beautiful dance of sorts, in which I just began moving cards around without really thinking about it too much. In other words, I listened to my intuition - my inner compass - about where to move the cards. As I did, I realized something magical was happening. Because I was choosing to be present to the moment and allow opportunities for solutions to unfold instead of imposing my egoic will on the situation, I was being far more "loose" in my tactics than I usually am, the game was much more dynamic, and I ended up winning far sooner than I expected.

 Lesson #3: Listen to your intuition.

 

Now, let me tell you, it was not a linear process. It felt like walking the dog (not just a simple walk around the block but more like down the street, stop at this shrub, cross the street for the squirrel, cross back, walk around your person 3 times and get tangled up in the leash, wag your tail a lot, get untangled, stop to pee, cross the street again, cross back again… you get the picture). The thing is, because I chose to give up my attachment to how I was going to get there, I did accomplish my mission - and far sooner and much more enjoyably than if I'd stuck it out.

 Lesson #4:  Give up attachment and trust the process.

 

As I got closer to winning, I realized that this whole game represented my dance with Get That You Matter as we make our way through the process of becoming a new paradigm business. There are no models for what we're doing - just like there was no model for me re-arranging those cards. Just as realizing that the easier path to accomplishing my mission in the game would be revealed by saying "yes" to resetting, saying "yes" to the preposterous notion of a worker-owned cooperative in which we are all co-CEO's, equally responsible for the success of the company is allowing our team to move more powerfully toward a win for ourselves and our mission.

 

What I learned, and what I'm continuing to discover, is that the more I listen deeply to my inner wisdom and trust the process, the more we are all empowered to create a "win" together. The more I align myself with my life's mission, the more I co-create space for the rest of our team to do the same… and that is a win for everyone.

 

 I look forward to your comments and a conversation about this. What has been your experience with "resetting"? Which camp have you landed in more often- the "stick it out at all costs" camp or the "woohoo! just go for it" camp? What happens for you when you let yourself "be with what is"… are you comfortable with that or not? How much do you listen to and trust your intuition? What's it like when you do? When you last chose to trust the process, was it a "winning" experience for you or not? Why? What are you learning about your own card game?

The New Paradigm of Business: Reflections from an Aerial Perspective

This morning I departed from San Francisco heading to Vancouver, BC for our third Sacred Commerce tour in Canada. If I can help it, I always reserve a window seat so I can watch the earth pull away from the sky over the Bay.  It fill my heart with joy and flying is, funny enough, one of the most relaxing adventures in the world for me.  As usual, my eyes were immediately drawn to the Financial District: skyscrapers towering over the rest of the city below. I realized my focus often lingers on these, the highest spectacles in the Bay, whenever I have an aerial view opportunity.  The awareness of my tendency to refer to the skyscrapers as “the City” puzzled me.  Though downtown is just a small section of the seven mile peninsula, from an aerial perspective I often see it as the entire "city". I wondered if I was alone in this tendency or if others referred to the City in a similar way from a similar vantage point and began to ask myself why and how this tendency was my default.

At first the answer was immediately obvious: because the skyline has the tallest/biggest/most noticeable buildings, right?  I then asked myself what I was actually looking at. According to Wikipedia, there are only 21 skyscrapers taller than 492 feet in the Financial District and they are primarily used for banking, law offices, and corporate headquarters. Below those 2 dozen or so buildings are all of our big retail and service enterprises and of course a variety of hotels. As the plane elevated, the view widened until the whole city and eventually the entire peninsula was visible. It occurred to me then that skyscrapers are a symbol of the collective priority on commerce we've adopted as global citizens. Just look at 9:11.  The terrorists didn't bomb our churches or our governmental buildings, they targeted what they perceived we valued most: the Twin Towers, the pinnacle representations of our business enterprises.

From a wider aerial view, San Francisco is actually largely residential with a few parks and the beautiful bridges over the water like lace trim on the fringe of the peninsula.  I could almost make out each neighborhood from the Haight to the Richmond to the Sunset District and back to the Mission.  The awe-inspiring beauty of the bay, the Pacific, and every San Franciscan's pride and joy, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges was unavoidably breathtaking.

 

As Ayman Sawwaf, author of Sacred Commerce: The Rise of the Global Citizen, says, whether we "like it or not commerce has become the primary force propelling our species and human society forward." Sawwaf's statement is exemplified in the perspective of infrastructure I observed this morning.  Where church steeples and awe-inspiring cathedrals once gracefully loomed above our cities and townships, where our nation and state capitols once dominated the views of our main thoroughfares, today hundred-floor buildings hosting heavy hitters such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Charles Schwab now prevail.  Investment companies and corporate offices for some of the largest corporations in the world now command the skyline.

There is an emerging industry of pioneers championing a culture of “locally made” and sold products and services. They are home-makers, home farmers, potters, designers, brewmasters, and craftspeople...and they are on the rise.  What if, as Matthew Engelhart, author of Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path to Awakening, says, “life is an inside job”?  What if what we focus on internally via our thoughts, beliefs, speech, actions and attitudes, is what creates the world “out there”?  Look at the world we've created where big business and fortune 500 companies are what we revere and strive to emulate regardless of the impact to ourselves, our souls, or the environment and planet at large.

What if this rise of focus on the home and the growing sexiness of daily rituals our ancestors held as sacred is a symbol of us reclaiming and shifting our “inside job?” What if the growing global attention to our local impact is actually a reflection of our collective decision to focus on love and the notion that our deepest desires, dreams and passions are not only important but vital to our survival as a species?  What if getting that we matter was the single most important shift we could make for ourselves and the planet?  If life is an “inside job” then we have created a world of corporate greed and materialism by holding those aspects as dear accomplishments in our hearts and making them a priority there as well.  As Erin Ross of Get That You Matter says, “we all know where this line of thinking has gotten us...” With this in mind I wonder and hope that others are wondering too, what would a world that valued inner peace and alignment with self love look like from an aerial view?

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

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.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Question of the Week... 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!)