self-worth

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

*********

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

struggling with creativity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

i love to write.

 

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.

 

bright light and deep darkness… reflections on Robin Williams and more

robin williams

it's 9/11, a day most of us will never forget.

that morning our family was at the San Francisco airport getting ready to put our 15-year-old son onto a plane to Newark, NJ, on the first leg of his year abroad in Spain. needless to say, he didn't board the plane. instead, we sat at a bar near the gate and watched the second plane fly into the World Trade Center, then walked like zombies to our car as the impact of what had just occurred started to hit us. thousands of souls left the earth that morning, leaving gaping holes in the world and initiating this country into that particular territory of fear and violence which so many others know all too well.

one month ago today is also a day many of us will never forget.

that's the day Robin Williams took his own life and left a hole in the world that will never be filled. and, even though it's been over four weeks since, i still find myself bursting into tears at the fact that he felt so alone in some deep, down part of himself despite the abundance of love that was all around him.

and, although there have been some who have criticized Mr. Williams and others who have committed suicide for being "selfish," i see this act as something to be met with the utmost compassion rather than unblinking derision. (thank you, Cheyenne, for posting this very good article about why suicide and depression are not selfish.)

my heart and prayers continue to be with Mr. Williams' children, wife and all of his dear family and friends as they muddle through this most difficult time. may you all know that he was one of the most selfless humans i ever witnessed (in my very limited way) and that his suicide had nothing to do with you. i am so sorry you have had to deal with some who have expressed their wounds in negative ways toward him; but know that they are just working it out in their own, uninformed way.

malcolm x

i guess if there is any gift in Mr. Williams' untimely death, it's the outpouring of press that's bringing his death and this important and serious issue to light with compassion and care and honesty.

i've watched videos like Jimmy Fallon's heartfelt tribute and read achingly beautiful blogs like Rachel Leibrock's in which she captured my sentiments exactly when she wrote, "And then I started crying. Crying because I genuinely loved Williams as an actor and a comedian -- I grew up watching Mork & Mindy. Good Will Hunting is one of my favorite films. Crying because in that moment, I also felt his pain immeasurably. I felt the absence of hope, the absence of faith that life will get better. The absence of any light."

i've read tributes like this one from Bimbo's 365 Club and quotes from the many celebrities who tweeted and posted, like Goldie Hawn "Oh Robin...Our hearts are broken. Rest in peace darling. We loved you." …and Jessica Chastain "Robin Williams changed my life. He was a great actor and a generous person. Through a scholarship, he made it possible for me to graduate college. His generous spirit will forever inspire me to support others as he supported me. He will forever be missed." …and Danny DeVito's heartbreaking, "Heartbroken."

i think it's easier than most of us would care to admit to let ourselves go to that dark place. it sometimes feels as if we're pushing up against something immovable - especially when we're present to this human race and all the messes we've made; what we've done to ourselves, each other and our only home; all the insanity we continue to play out. one thing i know is that suicide is not a selfish act. it is an act born of an illusion that we are separate and alone. it's an act that is often carried out by those of us who are extremely sensitive to what's happening in the world and we feel as if it's just too much for us.

truth be told, i know this territory all too well. i've been there myself. i understand the experience of feeling completely alone - even that the world would be better off without me - when i was in that place. i remember thinking those unshakeable, consuming thoughts and nearly driving off the road one day five years ago. and i remember, and thank God for, my loved ones and friends who gathered around and reminded me that i mattered. if you relate or if you have had or are having thoughts of suicide, i urge you to reach out and get help. that's what saved my life and i'm so glad i did.

when it comes down to it, i truly believe we are all here to shine our light - whether we shine as brightly and humbly and generously as Mr. Williams did all around the world or whether we shine simply and sweetly right in our own backyards. i think the only thing to do is to shine our light, even when we grieve the loss of those we love… maybe especially then. and, although he may have believed in that terrible, critical moment (or for longer than we can imagine) that he was utterly alone and his light was unfixably diminished, may he know, as his soul flies free, that he never was alone and that his light burned brightly until the very end and beyond.

finally, in his daughter Zelda's words, "To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you've had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too."

dear human

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!)

Question of the Week… February 5, 2012

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

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

Question of the Week… January 22, 2012

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

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

Question of the Week… January 15, 2012

Who matters the most to you and why?

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

Happy 2012... Choosing Kindness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

May 2012 be your best year ever!

A Letter to My Body

Body bowlDear Body- Thank you for being the sanctuary -  the home - for my soul in this lifetime. Thank you for all you give, do and express on a daily basis. Thank you for all the ways in which you function without having to be asked, cajoled, encouraged or bribed.

Thank you for the unwavering beating of this heart, the continual flowing of blood and plasma, the steady in and out of the breath and the ability to be present to it. Thank you for the exquisite function of the liver, kidneys and other cleansing organs. Thank you for the perfect lubrication of joints, the certain endurance of muscles, and the steady strength of bones. Thank you for taste, smell, touch, sound and sight - these senses which make being alive so delightful.

You work miraculously with no  effort on my part, and for that I thank you.

I honor you as the sacred vessel for my soul, the home for this lifetime's journey and the channel through which my soul's purpose is able to be conveyed. Without you my spirit would not be having nearly as grand an adventure with all the other wonderful spirits embodied here at this time in this place.

I apologize for any way in which I have ignored you -over-taxed or fed you, or under-exercised, fed or loved you. I apologize for any ways in which I have allowed others to hurt you in any way - with their words or their hands. I apologize for not standing up for you when you deserved it. I apologize for any way in which I have not cared for you as the precious gift you are.

I commit to caring thoroughly for you from this moment forward. I commit to loving you by feeding you the most vibrant, healthy and delicious foods. I commit to loving you by moving joyously in exercise, taking long walks in nature, and dancing with abandon. I commit to loving you by caring for you when you need tender attention, by getting enough sleep, and by resting when you need to rest.

I live continually in awe of your functionality and ability to experience and share great joy, empathy and love with all the other precious beings you enable me to encounter. I live gratefully, mindfully and lovingly in service to you so that I my fulfill my spiritual journey here.

Thank you for the dear blessing of this gift of Life here on Earth.

 

With utmost love and deepest respect,

Your Grateful Passenger

-- Love and blessings, Erin

Becoming with Be Love Radio

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

AlooooHA!

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

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

Mantra for Becoming: "I am becoming…"

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

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

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

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

Ah, The Daily Dread...

I woke up again with that feeling of near-dread, almost-anxiety and sort of free-floating fear-slash-worry. It happens almost every day....

Most mornings, I just push it aside like the blankets. But today I laid there in bed and visited with it for a while and asked what it had to tell me. It said, "What if I never go away? What will you do then? What will you do if I am with you every morning for the rest of your life?"

TO READ MORE... visit the full post on the Cafe Gratitude blogsite. Check it out and you'll see what's happening in that amazing community! Feel free to post comments here or at the Cafe Gratitude site. Coming soon... Get That You Matter updates and news on the book, the movement, membership and more!

100 People... 4 years. go.

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

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

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

The Gift of Clarity in a Jar of Juice….

I did the Café Gratitude Juice Club with Terces Engelhart and hundreds of Juice Club members around the world for the first seven days of this month. (I highly recommend it for those who want to give it a try- you can get more information at www.cafegratitude.com.) And I have to say, I received the most wonderful gift from that time of not eating solid foods... the much-needed gift of reconnecting with my natural daily rhythm.

I've been working tirelessly (unstoppably, I might say!) for the last three months on several projects, one of which is co-producing a conference for 5,000 people in November called Leaders Causing Leaders. (I've never produced anything that big, except my 2 kids!) It's really going to be an amazing event and I hope you can come! Check it out at www.leaderscausingleaders.com. I've also been working on growing the Café Gratitude community here in L.A. by putting together workshops, giving talks and organizing a community of volunteers for various events. Oh, yeah, and then there's the job. Thank God it's not full-time; I don't know how I'd get everything done and stay sane if it was! And now I'm gearing up to finish the book, which has had to go on the back burner for a while… something had to move there, otherwise I'd have had no room to cook!
The thing is, lately I've been getting up early, staying up late and falling asleep at the computer, not exercising as much as I want, and on and on. Being "driven" would be putting it mildly. Being compulsive and slightly mad is more accurate. This is likely not an unfamiliar scenario. So many of us drive ourselves into the ground being the best we can be, while we sacrifice our internal quiet on the altar of getting ahead or doing good. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying that it's so easy to forget to live a balanced life with so many amazing things to do and with the planet making such a clear, loud cry for co-created solutions to what we've done. How could I not get involved?
On the first afternoon of the club, I hit the wall. After a day of driving all over Los Angeles for meetings, toting along my mason jars of juice, broth, almond milk smoothie and a gallon jug of water, I got home in the late afternoon and couldn't do a thing. I felt like a popped tire. So instead of pushing through, which I normally would have done this last couple of months, I decided to go to bed early and get up extra early to meditate and work in the cool, quiet dark and dawn. It was so much better!
I am NOT a night owl (never was)... and for the duration of the juicing, I went to bed at a graceful hour (not nodding off at the computer and feeling bad because I couldn't stay up longer to do more work), taking time to read something "fun" before sleep (Three Cups of Tea right now- wonderful, inspiring story) and getting up at 4:30 or 5 to start my day. I can't tell you what a difference it made. I felt like I was back on my own humane schedule. If the rest of L.A. was up late, doing business at 10 or 11pm- more power to 'em!
It's been a couple weeks since I completed the juice club and I found myself slipping back into the old habit of pushing myself beyond my internal limits in order to keep up with the fast pace of all I'm doing. Thank God, though, I had the blessing of that perspective, of that time away from my habitual overworking and eating without really taking time to consider whether or not I needed to. Something has shifted and I'm being gentler with myself, giving more credence to the voice that says, "Wait. Slow down. Do you really need to eat that? How about getting up early and going to bed now?"
It has not necessarily been easy to continue to listen to that voice, but I am so deeply grateful for reconnecting with it, with my early mornings, and my own rhythm. Even when I feel myself slipping into my acculturated habit, it's been a bit easier to say "no," to readjust, renegotiate and make requests. The thing is, I'm finding that because I am listening to that  inner voice and honoring my own rhythm, I'm actually feeling productive in a much more grounded way. I'm learing that I can take care of myself… and, I can still be unstoppable!
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LABOR DAY, 2010

A few months ago, I made a declaration to myself and the Universe. I said, "Let me be used in the biggest way in service to humanity and the planet. Let me be a leader, whatever that looks like. I surrender my ego and my personal wants and comforts in service to the greater good."

I've lived nearly 48 years on this beautiful planet and I feel like my three greatest accomplishments have been my two kids and my 5 years as a Challenge Day Program Leader. And, although being a mom has been the most rewarding job ever, I'm pretty much done with the time-intensive part of it. They're adults now and I get to watch them as they fly and build amazing lives of their own. And, although working with over 20,000 people in those years with Challenge Day was miraculous beyond my ability to put into words, I've had this aching in my heart to now do the thing that will fulfill the second half of my life. What is it that is going to be my contribution? What can I leave as a legacy that's my own?

I've come to realize, deeply, that the rest of this life's journey is about selfless service. It's about giving up what I think is best or right for me and saying "Yes" to the "next right thing." That's how I came to Challenge Day and that's how I've come to live in Southern California, co-producing this amazing event called Leaders Causing Leaders. That's how I've come to work in partnership with Café Gratitude. I said "yes" and chose to be relentless in my vision of service.

The thing is, when you make declarations like this to the Universe, it says "Yes," too!

And, boy, am I learning what I've gotten myself into….

The long and short of it is that Monday– Labor Day – I got a good dose of "labor." Labor Day this year was, for me, about the sometimes painful yet expansive birthing into my role as a Leader. I have to say before I go any further, I've been missing my home in the Sierras very much lately, so I made plans to go there for a week to enjoy the fall colors. I've also been planning to do something special just for me on my upcoming birthday.

But, as Labor Day got into full swing, I received two requests to change my plans – to not go to the mountains and to work on my birthday. Normally, I'd just have said, "Sure, okay!" and denied or stuffed my feelings about it. Normally I don't really even care about my birthday and would be fine with postponing my travel plans. But Monday, it felt like too much. Then, to top it all off, I agreed to have a very difficult conversation with someone, to stretch and honor what was needed to begin to clear the space between us.

For some reason, it all came to a head that morning and I could no longer hold in the flood of grief I was feeling at the prospect of not going home and of not celebrating my birthday the way I had intended. I knew they were reasonable requests, but in that moment, like the rocks and cement tumbling forth from an over-full and poorly built dam, I burst into tears in front of the very person for whom I've been trying to be a rock and a supporter – their "go to" girl. Although I tried, I simply couldn't hold them back any longer.

I felt as if someone had pulled the rug out from under me. Did anyone have any idea how hard I've been working? How much I've been giving, giving, giving? Do I not deserve to have a bit of a break here or am I just supposed to go, go, go and let myself be used up in service to this thing I've helped to create?

Then I remembered… I signed up for this.

This was exactly what I meant when I declared I was choosing to "surrender my ego and my personal wants and comforts in service to the greater good." ARGH! What had I done?!?

It was as if my commitment to serve and my longing to care for myself had banged into each other like two cars in a head-on collision. So, after having my tears, explaining there was nothing wrong – just a lot of overwhelm and exhaustion I've been holding in for weeks, I declared that I would do whatever was needed to serve the greater good, including not going home next week. This is the line in the sand I had drawn earlier this summer, the commitment I had made – the thumb-pricking, blood-brother vow I had sworn with Spirit.

Having sat with it for a couple days now, I've actually worked it out to go home for a few days, and decided that leading a workshop on my birthday would be a perfect way to celebrate. Surrendering my will to Spirit doesn't have to look like martyrdom. I get to negotiate and make requests, too. And, then, with all the options laid before me, I get to make a conscious choice that serves the greater good… which, by the way, includes me.

Happy Labor Day!

Looking Inside and Being Thankful

I haven't blogged for over two weeks... and realized that I've been making this big deal out of it. I've been pushing myself like I've been under assignment to write an article every week as opposed to a blog. It was good "discipline" but I've been paralyzed by the prospect of it for over two weeks amidst everything else going on (or not going on) in my life.

This morning, when I was writing an email to my dear friend Thomas, I realized that what I've really been desiring to do is to share my process - this crazy roller coaster of what it is to be listening to Spirit, discerning between that voice and the voice of fear and ego, and trusting in the journey along the way. So, rather than force myself into a box that doesn't work, I've decided to start blogging here about this process - on Thanksgiving Day. This holiday seems like the perfect beginning to a daily (or almost daily) "check in" and sharing, a revealing of the ups and downs of getting that I matter and how that shapes itself through these last few months of moving toward the publication of my book. If an article finds its way through me, taking shape in a way that wants to be shared here, then I will, of course, take due notice and follow its lead, giving thanks and being grateful for every single occurrence, person and feeling. I will be the innkeeper at the Guesthouse....

For now, today, I begin the process of countdown to publication... with the hopeful date of March 20th, 2010 - the Spring Equinox - for having the book out and available for sale. We'll see how this goes and without further ado, I give you... "If you really new me, this is how I get that I matter" Installment #1:

Looking within... been doing a lot of that the last few days, and a lot of crying and releasing. Feels important and good. This stuff is so old... almost like I'm carrying the weight/healing the wounds of past generations, too- especially my mom.... The last few months have been so challenging- feeling like "butter spread over so much bread" as Bilbo says in Lord of The Rings; stepping out of my comfort zone so far I can't even see it anymore, getting ready to move to L.A., experiencing financial crisis and the corresponding stress of it, feeling so alone despite the massive amount of love and support flowing in from friends and family around the world.

I've been "stuck" a lot, forgetting all that I've learned, asking "What am doing wrong?" a lot. But this morning, Thomas asked me, "What do you hear when you ask that question?" So I decided to take a moment to listen... and what I hear is, "Nothing. You are doing nothing wrong; you are just doing what you're doing. You may not be doing some things right, but you are right on track for the lessons that are being asked to be learned. You know that this is all part of what you need to develop the compassion and understanding of others about whom and for whom you are writing. You could not speak to them without knowing, deeply, their experience."

I've also been saying, half-joking, to anyone who will listen to my pity party, "I should just throw in the towel and get a job!" And, when he asked me to reflect on what I was saying, I heard, "Now you know better than that..." (which I do). But I also heard, "You do need to get a job- a regular, paycheck-type job in Los Angeles. You would do well to work in a restaurant or as a receptionist someplace where you have the opportunity to shine your light and bring your love and teachings to the public in a bigger way while you're developing your book and workshops. You need to, again, have the experience and compassion for the majority of the people you're writing for/to who have regular jobs and aren't self-employed. This is very important."

And, then this very wise friend Thomas asked me what other question I need to be asking myself. So I listened again and heard, "You need to be asking yourself three questions:
1. What do I need to do today to move my vision for ward and live from my purpose? (at the beginning of the day)
2. What am I grateful for? (throughout and at the end of the day)
3. What did I do today to move my vision forward? (at the end of the day)
These three questions are your guideposts for your days and weeks ahead, until at least the end of this year."

It felt really good to have three concrete questions to ask, and to receive some specific answers (which were pretty mundane things like getting my website updated, taking a walk, writing this blog (!) and cooking dinner with my kids) on which to follow through.

In the end, though, at the end of this day, what resonates more than anything is that I am grateful... so grateful... for friends like Thomas who hold my feet to the fire of my highest visions and essence... for my children who are immeasurably wise and compassionate adults (far more than I was at their ages)... for the folks who will be signing up for my Getting That You Matter Teleclass today, tomorrow and in the next few days... for the motivated, passionate and action-oriented folks who will be signing up for complimentary coaching sessions who I can't even imagine yet... for having a home to go home to... for having enough food to eat, warm blankets, hot tea and running water, sweet romantic movies to watch with my daughter... for a bed to sleep in and the restorative power of sleep, for gratitude itself and most of all for Love....

If you are interested in attending my upcoming 12-week Teleclass starting Dec. 1, Getting That You Matter, visit the Services page at ErinRossCoaching to register. If you register by midnight on November 26, you'll get a 20% discount on the total cost - only $120! Looking forward to hearing you next Tuesday!

Questions about Willingness and Surrender... Learning to Fly

Recently I watched The Visitor again and wondered what it is that is so compelling about this movie for me personally. I mean, obviously, it touched my heart in a very profound and powerful way- how could it not? The subject matter is entirely timely, every bit of acting is flawless, and a sweetness flows throughout the film which greatly appeals to my personal sensibilities. But that's not what I'm thinking about. What struck me this morning as I was meditating was that the main characters in this movie surrendered to God's (or Universal- whatever you want to call it) Will for them.

I think what really struck me about that movie was that the main characters, particular the older man and woman, knew that they could choose differently than they did; they were not so much the victims of their circumstances, but the momentum of their situations propelled them in the directions they eventually chose. I witnessed their struggles with desire, with their egos wanting things to be different; but in the end, they made the choices that were the best for themselves and the greater good, even though they had to make deep personal sacrifices. At the same time, the younger couple had to deal more with "the system," were unwitting victims of their circumstances; but they, too, made choices in how they responded to the situation at hand.

This movie has kept coming back to me again and again… and, as I've pondered it more and more, I've realized that every one of the four main characters in that movie, albeit sometimes struggling with it, was willing to surrender to God's Will for them. They had no choice- either because they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time or because they knew that it was in their highest good to choose a particular course of action.

Earlier this year I graduated from a course in which "willingness" was a key concept, so I've been asking myself questions like: How or where am I willing to do what I need to do to move forward in my life? What stands in the way? How or where am I being stubborn? We were asked to notice these things at a profoundly deep level, to actively seek out the places where we bump up against our old stories and beliefs that keep us from living in a place of total willingness.

As I look more and more, I begin to see it everywhere in my life… and I have some further questions: What does it mean to be willing? What is the difference between stubbornness and having good boundaries? What is God's Will for me? How do I know I'm not just fooling myself and creating a really good rationalization that's coming from my ego to make myself believe it's "God's Will"? What's the difference between willingness and surrender?

These questions baffle me from time to time, and sometimes I feel extremely clear on the answers. Sometimes I feel like they're just out of reach, along with my willingness, and sometimes I feel like I have them in my back pocket and the world is laid out before me like a beautiful red carpet. All I need is the dress!

The thing is, we often have to make hard choices, to struggle internally with what we want versus what is in our highest and best interest, or more importantly, what will serve the greater good.

I guess that is what I struggle with most of the time- is what is in my best and highest interest also serving the greater good? OR do I have to sacrifice what's in my best and highest for the greater good? But if I'm doing that, am I not just really being a martyr, acting from my need for attention and approval? Is it possible for my own good and the greater good to coincide? Is it possible for the greater good to actually be my greatest good, even when it doesn't seem or feel like it? So many questions!

So, here I sit, thinking about this movie and the willingness these characters exhibited, while considering what is going to be in my very best and highest. In other words, what will pay the bills and what will move me forward in my vision for contributing to the planet as a whole? Can that be one and the same thing? It is not easy to balance all of this stuff… not easy at all!

Unless… (What a wonderful word), unless (the key word in Dr. Suess' The Lorax) we make a choice, a conscious choice for an easy, loving, non-dualistic outcome. Perhaps, then, it would not be difficult at all to "balance" all of this heady stuff. Unless… I'm just thinking way too much here and all I need to do is drop into my heart, listen to the small, still voice within and trust the answers I receive…. (It's kind of like "stop, drop and roll," but a little bit different- one is for a fire in a building, the other is for a fire in the spirit.) Maybe all I have to do, like the people in this movie, in order to really surrender, is let go of all the questions, take a deep breath, and go inside…

So I go inside and say, "Thank you for sharing," to the crowd of voices, take some nice deep breaths and listen. And do you know what I keep hearing, over and over? "Let it all go… all of it, every expectation, every thought of good or bad, right or wrong, what you need to or should do. Be willing to let it all go." It's like this great big neon sign on the inside of my forehead- it's absolutely un-ignorable, undeniable and ever-present. So, why do I persist in staying stuck in the mire of my ego, worry and struggle? Basically- fear. No, wait, abject terror. That's it, really. Terror.

The thing is, I've done this before. I've taken many leaps, and continue to take leaps, and every time I do, I'm always fine. So, what's up with this "stinkin' thinkin'" as they say? What about all of these questions? As I look back over them, I realize that there is a thread through all of them, through all the doubt, and that thread is this fear.

My ego wants to cling so desperately to what it knows. And rightfully so - its job is to help me survive; any good citizen would talk someone back from the edge of a cliff, right? It makes perfect sense my ego would be doing everything it can to keep me safe; it makes perfect sense to my ego. But, in the questioning and the doubting and the living out of my fear, what is actually dying is my spirit. I believe that, on some level, my ego, always the eager achiever, wants to win… at any cost, even the cost of that which keeps it alive.

In a way, our egos are like a cancer or a virus. Our egos believe that they are growing and getting stronger by feeding off of the host, the spirit; but, in fact, the stronger it gets, the weaker the host and, eventually, the ego can end up killing off the very thing which keeps it alive. That's when we die with regrets, with unfinished business, without harmony and peace. That's when we haven't said, in the words of John Mayer, "what you need to say." I know that it seems like we are these bodies walking around housing our spirits, but what if, instead, we looked at it like our spirits are actually the houses for our bodies and the body is simply the matter-result of the desire to learn and grow in human form? If that's true, then all of my worrying and stress are simply illusions and I could just be... right here, right now.

Ah, but there's the rub! We do live in the world, we are embodied of flesh and bone, and we have responsibilities. Is this just a privileged person's conversation? I mean, how do folks who live with the daily threat of deportation like the characters in The Visitor or who are dealing the lack of clean water in Sumatra handle these issues? Do they have the luxury of pondering these questions or are they so busy surviving that they are just putting one foot in front of the other trying to get by? And, maybe, just maybe that's all I need to do- all any of us needs to do- put one foot in front of the other and see what happens. What if I stopped thinking about it all so damned much and simply did what needs to be done? How would that be different? What kind of results would I get?

So, after all that, this circular little conversation comes back around to willingness... even more, to surrender. And, in the end, I think that what it's about is being willing to surrender. If we can do that, let go of standing at the edge of the cliff with our toes curled over the corner, arms stiff at our sides, maybe we won't fall. But maybe, if we take a deep breath, spread our toes, lift our arms from the center of our being, put one foot in front of the other and jump… we'll fly.