spirituality

Question of the Week… January 15, 2012

Who matters the most to you and why?

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

The Long Journey Home

Even though I've written and talked about this particular journey thousands of times, it never ceases to cause the tears to flow. Of all the thousands of miles I've logged in cars or on planes, this particular journey touches me the most because it was the day everything changed.

It's 1:46am March 15th, 2011, as I am posting this story... almost the exact time my mother passed away one decade ago tonight. At 1:50am she took her last breath and the first step in her Long Journey Home.

In the ten years since her death, I've come to realize that the one constant in my life, up until the very early hours of that morning, was my mom. She never wavered in her love for me, she was always there when I needed her, and was always willing to let me know when she needed me. But now, she's gone. In the course of a month, she slowly slipped into a place I will not know or understand until, hopefully, much later in life. I feel her presence less and less with each passing year, yet sometimes she still visits me in my dreams or talks to me when I'm feeling particularly sad or alone. But death has a way of making a final cut in the cord between hearts and arms.

I remember driving back from the hospital about five in the morning, after turning off the highway as Shawn Colvin's "Orion in the Sky" was playing on the stereo. I was barely able to breath, or see for all the tears in my eyes. I remember my daughter waking up every half hour or so with a puzzled look on her ten-year-old face, saying, tears welling up and spilling over, "I miss grandma." "I know, honey. So do I and I know she misses you."

I'll never forget looking over at her small form asleep on the cot by my mom's hospital bed, thinking how unfair it was that she wouldn't get to grow up with her grandma in her life. And, as a few dear friends and family talked and sang to her, rubbed her feet and caressed her tired face, I remember watching my son, in all his 15-year-old wisdom, telling her it was okay to go as he watched his best friend slip away.

We'd had a whole month to prepare for that day, that drive, that long journey home. In fact, we'd had much more than that; we'd had years. There was never any guarantee that her liver would come. But all the preparation in the world could never equip us for the overwhelming loss we felt that morning.

Mom, if you are still "out there," if there is still any thread of you left (hopefully romping with your favorite companions, Bear, Farley, Sam and now Grizzly) ,I want you to know I will always love you and I'll always be so grateful for everything you taught me during your all-too-brief stay here. Nothing is the same except for the love that remains intact and pure. We miss you. We always will.

Discovering Oneness at the Planetarium

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



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

Superforest, Ommwriter and White Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poetry...

I was just writing an email to someone and realized that I really want to post some of these poems that have been oozing out of me for the last couple weeks. So, here they are. One of them actually has something to do with today's earlier blog- it's called "Remember." The others are commentary on my personal process as I've let go, more and more, of my pride and protection around my current state of affairs. There is such beauty in surrender....

I hope you enjoy- my gift to you. Love and blessings, Erin

Remember

Dear Mr. President, I can only imagine How difficult It must be to be In your position

Pressure from the right

Pressure from the left

Constant Criticism Need Questioning Doubt Expectation

I can only imagine

And I want to say Only one word.

Remember. Remember. Remember.

More important

Something has shifted in realizing – no remembering – I am a poet. I have not turned on the computer or compulsively checked email for two days now.

I had forgotten somewhere along the way that

showing up is more important than self-promotion,

that desperation is so very unattractive.

Relishing the silence

Curled up in the cozy chair next to the fire, I listened.

Nothing but the dripping of melting snow, and the small whoosh and crack of the fire and wood.

The sun squeezed through the fog with long fingers, pushing its way through, cracking the door to a blue sky.

The mist, thick as soup moments before, made its last attempt at hanging between the trees, mingling with the smoke of my fire, hoping to go unnoticed and stay just a little longer.

And I, under my blanket, warm and content, sat relishing the silence I couldn't bear to break.

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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.