support

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.

 

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

Olympians are Awesome and so are You

pole vaultingMy friend Stacy McMillan sent this email to a few friends and I was so inspired, I asked her if I could share it on our blog… and she said "Yes!" Stacy is one of those people who inspires others just by being around… her positive energy is infectious and her capacity to hold space and love others is truly admirable. She is definitely a champion in my book. I really hope you enjoy Stacy's blog and remember just what a champion you are!  

I just wanted to share that I had an amazing Friday night and Saturday in corn country. The Iowa weather finally pushed past 34 degrees for the first time since November, reaching the 60’s all day this weekend. Just in time for an awesome outdoor event.

I haven't had enough leisure in my life lately, so I made some plans to have big fun! I attended the Drake Relays, a famous four-day track and field competition in Des Moines, with a sold-out crowd of 14,500 people.. There were several Olympians from multiple countries competing, thus several languages were spoken. The atmosphere in the stands was super-supportive and uplifting. I had an assigned seat but never sat in it; rather, I tootled around and sat in several places to see the action from many angles. Event staff encouraged this, saying, “Young lady, why don't you just find a seat where's there's an open space. If somebody shows up, just find another open seat."

I sat among competitors and coaches alike, and watched and listened to families and coaches give feedback to competitors from the stands. It is really amazing to sit among champions. Their bodies are insane. They are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and smile a lot. They love to inspire the crowd with their enthusiasm.

I saw a few injuries; people colliding into each other while trying to get ahead or falling over hurdles, running smack into the mat during the high jump, or twisting a knee during the triple jump. Nevertheless, these sorts of accidents are not as severe as those you’ll see in contact sports. Track and field is a gentler sport, and more interactive.

Normally, when I sit in the stands, the competitors ignore the crowd the whole time. It was a new experience for this spectator to be encouraged to cheer and clap by various teammates in the competition; the pole vaulters and long jumpers even waited until the crowd was in a clapping rhythm before running toward their targets.

It was super cool to be in an environment where sportsman/woman-like conduct carried the day, where passion was palpable, where victory was won or lost by just a second or an inch. And, go figure, boo-ing was not practiced.

The field event competitors were so disciplined and focused. They were able to repeat their event several times in order to achieve a personal best, and each time had a totally different outcome: small gain, small loss, big improvement, or sometimes attempts were disqualified because a rule was broken. Sometimes the outcome was desired, sometimes not.

Try, fail, try, fail, try, victory, try fail, repeat! And they failed to reach the desired outcome way more times than they succeeded. But whatever the result, at the end of the event, they stood up, raised their hands and clapped, and thanked the crowd for their support. And the crowd thanked them back.

I haven’t mentioned it yet, but this sporting event features kids as young as fifth grade and up to around 30 years old. One young, budding athlete from a nearby Iowa high school turned to me Friday night and asked, "Did you compete today?" I was speechless for a moment, and then said, "Um, No." What I thought in jest was, "No, sweetheart, I am pushing 40 and recovering from a spine injury, but aren't you adorable for suggesting I'm as youthful-looking and capable as these youngens."

He then said, "Did you used to compete? I run relays" He continued, "Wow, the crowd is so great here... hope you enjoy it!" We parted ways when the fireworks started. Like so many Iowans, this young man was ridiculously fit, fresh-faced, and polite. The Midwest is full of this sort of thing.

So in closing, hanging out with Olympians made me think of my friends and family who are up to great things. You are people reaching new heights in business/work, academia, family, or community service: trying, failing, trying, succeeding, trying again. You may not have a stadium-sized crowd to cheer you on or validate your success (or maybe you do and, if so, send me pictures), but you are still champions in my book. So, Happy Sunday, folks! I wish I could offer you a fireworks display in honor of your courage and conviction, but I can offer an invitation to come see the Drake Relays here with me in Des Moines next April!

Question of the Week… February 5, 2012

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

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

Question of the Week… January 29, 2012

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

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

Question of the Week… January 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!)

Falling Down and Getting Up with Be Love Radio

I'm sorry to says sobut, sadly, it's true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lunch wuth an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

-excerpt from Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Suess

I love how life works, even when it seems to not be working – or, rather, I don't seem to be working with it.

I had every intention of posting this blog about Falling Down and Getting Up right after the Be Love radio show on July 3rd, and here I went and fell down and didn't get it posted until two months later. I'm sitting here smiling and laughing at myself as I think about that old saying, "We teach what we most need to learn."

Just like that baby learning to walk, I, too, am learning to walk in a whole new way. It doesn't surprise me when I fall down anymore because I've done it so often, but it does bring more and more compassion and gentleness for myself in the process. I used to beat myself up terribly for all the falling down I did, but now – more often than not – I laugh and look for the underlying cause or issue in order to learn from the experience. I meditate a lot more than I used to, too – it really seems to help.

Having said that, I invite you to take this away from the July 3rd Be Love show (and I do recommend that you give it a listen- they're always really informative). Take away that you will fall down, that your mind will find countless ways to sabotage your progress (I know that one really well!), and that you are absolutely capable of overcoming every obstacle you may place in your own way.

In other words, you will fall down and you will get up again.

The best way to get up again is to reconnect with your essence, with your heart and your community to get all the support you need to get back on the old, proverbial horse. Remember to be gentle with yourself in the process. Can you imagine yelling at or beating up that little baby for falling on its diaper? Of course not! So why do it to yourself?

What would it look like for you to reconnect? Would you need to take some "time out" in order to revitalize your purpose? Would you need to reach out for support from your community, an accountability buddy or a coach to express your feelings in a safe container? Most importantly, what do you need right now (in this moment)?

Regardless of what you choose to do to get back up again, I invite you to have as much fun as you can in the midst of all you are doing. Remember, getting that you matter is meant to be an enjoyable, fulfilling and fun experience. When you fall down, it's great to be able to laugh and learn from it.

Life was never meant to be a chore. You are not a slave to your life, but rather you're here to enjoy the adventure of experiencing it in its fullest. It is your birthright to enjoy and marvel at this wonderful thing called being human.

So, I encourage you to listen to the archived show for this chapter on Be Love Radio; it's got a lot of great stuff in it and should be very helpful in your own Getting That You Matter journey. In the meantime, you can begin the process with this week's Meditation, Mantra and Movement.

Meditation for Getting Up "In what ways do I fall down? What support system can I put in place to help me get back up?" Journal, using the first question, about how you get yourself off track; then about ways to get yourself back on track using the second question.

Mantra for Getting Up "I reconnect to my passion and purpose by…" Make a list of the reminders you can use to reconnect to your passion and purpose. Post your reminders wherever you need to so you can see them every day, and use them. For fun you can track how often you use them and what helps you to remember them, then keep the ones that work and let go of the ones that don't.

Movement for Getting Up Create the support system you need to help you stay on track. Who do you need to enroll? What group could you join? Do you need some professional assistance? What practice would most help you? How can you build in down time and fun so you don't become a slave to your passion? Set a deadline and put it in place! And if you're finding it hard to do, ask one person to be your accountability buddy and help you create your support system.

Remembering Innocence

deerThere is this wonderful booklet I read almost every day (sometimes I forget...) called The Daily Word. Although it's Christian-based (from the Unity Church), it is truly one of the most heart-opening publications around. I received a year's subscription as a gift from my Godmother shortly after my mom died ten years ago, and I've renewed my subscription every year since because it really helped me get through that first year after mom's death.

Every day there is an affirmation, a reading and a short biblical text based around a particular theme... and every day I never cease to be amazed at the wisdom and love it offers. It seems like, no matter how I am feeling, the words are always perfect.

Before I share with you what I read this morning, I must say I've been in a bit of a "dark night of the soul" the last few weeks - really diving into the deeper layers of self-doubt, loneliness and grief at what is happening on our planet and my part in it. For a while, I isolated myself and just "hunkered down." But last week, while some dear friends and family were visiting, I had the opportunity to open up and share what was going on for me. It was so helpful.

I mean, here I am - teaching the principles and practices of love, connection, community and support through my work with Café Gratitude and Get That You Matter, yet I was forgetting those very principles! I had forgotten how much love there is when I reach out and ask for support. …Oh, THAT!

Needless to say, I am so grateful for the opportunities to share, to be heard and to be loved unconditionally. It meant so much to just be held in the space of this deep grief and fear- to not be fixed, changed or "helped." All they did was listen and love… and commiserate. We had some wonderful conversations that brought us even closer together.

So... this morning, I opened my Daily Word and read the following:

 

I accept God's gift of grace.

...The nature of God is love, and grace is an expression of divine love. It is the infinite support and benevolence of God given unconditionally. If I turn away from God's presence within me, it is the activity of grace that guides me home again.

A favorite Unity poem reads, "Though you fail to find Me, I do not fail you. Though your faith in Me is unsure, My faith in you never waivers, because I know you, because I love you. Beloved, I am there."

After reading those words, a wave of joy and peace washed over me, and I found myself sitting there on my little porch at 5:30 in the morning feeling so grateful to experience the deep, profound connection with God that is always there. I just kept saying, "Thank you" over and over again.

Then, as soon as I opened my eyes and looked out across the barnyard (I live in a barn - it's so cool!), a beautiful doe came walking right past my field of vision. She must have been making her way down to the pond and seemed to have no idea that I was there. Tears streamed down my face as I realized yet again, how, when we pray, God listens.

I felt like this beautiful deer was sent as a sign to remind me that grace is filled with innocence (the medicine of deer). She was my reminder that, when we give up our story that we are alone and are humble enough to ask for help and give praise - to pray, that is when we are touching into the deep innocence that lives in each and every one of us, no matter what we have said or done. We are born innocent, in grace and from love.

I watched as this beautiful wild creature disappeared into the woods and felt so grateful to God for sending her to me in that very moment. I know there will be more times of forgetting in this life's journey, and am deeply grateful to know that there will always be wonderful reminders. Thank you, God, for all the ways you continue to teach me to Come Home.

Becoming with Be Love Radio

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

AlooooHA!

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

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

Mantra for Becoming: "I am becoming…"

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

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

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

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

The Long Journey Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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!

The Promised Land, Part One… Walking toward a new future together

I've been thinking about how much flack President Obama has been getting for either not doing enough or too much, for being too radical or not radical enough, in his first ten months of office, and I just want to say, "Give the guy a break!" I don't know about you, but, honestly, I sort of expected him to take us to the Promised Land - like some kind of Moses - when he was sworn in as the 44th President. I think some part of me was hoping that he would be able to magically fix everything that's been broken in this country, and on the planet, as soon as he was inaugurated.

Yes, he made bold campaign speeches, both serious and hopeful – the first mainstream candidate besides Dennis Kucinich to really address the critical situation in which we find ourselves as a country and a species. He spoke the truth when he said it would take all of us making sacrifices to create real, lasting change. He made the phrase, "Yes we can!" internationally recognizable. Honestly, he was the first candidate I've ever had the honor of voting for because I believed in supporting him. And… he's only one man. No matter how sincere, visionary, well spoken or down-to-earth he is, he is human… just like the rest of us.

I was simply so relieved and thrilled at having such an incredibly down-to-earth, well-spoken, visionary leader in the White House, I forgot that it was all of us (well, the majority of us) who put him there. I was so ready for a change, I forgot I had a responsibility to be part of it.

Because the truth is, no matter how much some may want to blame him and his administration for the various messes we're in right now – our national health care travesty, the real, horrible and deepening chasms in our own country between the "haves" and the "have nots," and the greatest challenge of our time, the global climate crisis - we can't blame anyone but ourselves. We are collectively responsible. All of these things started a very long time ago and we chose to ignore the signs and keep living as if everything was just fine.

Responsibility is sometimes a scary word because it means we don't have the luxury of pretending any more. When we take responsibility for our circumstances, personal and global, we have to wake up. We have to remember that everything we do has an impact. It also means that we are going to have to give up some of the things that we thought we wanted if we're going to make it to that Promised Land. When we begin the process of waking up, of becoming who we were meant to be, we must slough off the old, tight skin that kept us small and comfortable in order to grow into the bigger person we know we are. Letting go is both terrifying and exhilarating; it means, as Charles DuBois said, "giving up who we've known ourselves to be for the person we are becoming."

Yes, it will require some sacrifice; each one of us is going to have to take a long, hard look at how we live our lives, from the big stuff to the seemingly mundane. From how we buy our groceries and what we choose to do to our bodies, to how we use energy in our homes and how we travel. We no longer have the luxury of believing that any choice we make is "insignificant."

We must ask ourselves questions like, can I walk or ride my bike instead of driving today? Do I really need that toy, appliance, clothing or beauty item? Could I buy a different item that would use fewer resources and create less waste? Where does my food come from? Where were those clothes, toys, foods made? Who made them? Did they get paid fairly for their work? In other words, how could I make choices that have less impact on the planet while feeling more fulfilled, happy and connected to the world around me?

We are each part of a larger whole, we are not at the top of the pyramid. There is no pyramid. We are part of the web of life, a strand in the tapestry woven from the one thread that connects us all, no matter how different we may seem from each other, the trees, dirt, buildings, stars and animals. We must wake up to the fact that the world was not made solely for our benefit; it is not a department store in which we "shop 'til we drop" without thought for the consequences. We must wake up to the fact that we share this world with many other people and species for whom this world is also a precious, living source.

Because we are the one species who has caused the most damage to this precious planet, we must be the ones to take responsibility for it. Personally. We can no longer afford to ignore the fact that every decision we make has a great affect on everything around us. And because the U.S. is the most privileged nation on the planet (and the one with the greatest environmental impact), we have the greatest responsibility to do our part. With privilege comes great responsibility.

No one, not even the President, is going to rescue us from these things that cause pain or suffering, No one has a magic wand to wave over our lives or the planet to "make it all better." There are no band-aids big enough for the wounds we've created. The only solution is serious, concerted effort to do our part. As my friend Yvonne St. John-Dutra says, "We are the heroes we've been waiting for."

What if, like Mahatma Gandhi, we all realized that "we must be the change we want to see in the world?" Just like it took all of us walking to the polls in the election process last year, it's going to take all of us stepping out of our comfort zones and walking there to make it to this Promised Land. And we must walk together!

It's not necessarily going to be an easy road to walk. There are potholes, steep hills, sharp curves and blind corners. We may sometimes feel like we can't go any further, like it's just too hard. But we must remember, just like President Obama, we're not alone. There are people right next to us who can help us when we need it. There are people we can help when they need it. If we all work together to get there, remembering that everyone matters, that each of us is here for a reason, and that we have a responsibility to each other and our world, we'll make it to the Promised Land with a lot more grace and joy.

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Free the Hikers… Taking Personal Responsibility and Disturbing Our Lives for Others

I've been working on this blog for almost a month; it took me this long to synthesize what I was trying to say. Ah, the writing process… the fine balance between discipline and surrender.

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On September 30th I attended the two-month anniversary vigil at the UC Berkeley campus for Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the three hikers who have been detained in Iran for almost twelve weeks. I wasn't quite sure exactly what to expect, but I went hopeful of raising awareness and willing to do whatever was needed - to "disturb my life" on their behalf for a few hours. I ended up handing out fliers about the hikers to as many passers by as I could; unexpectedly, it turned out to be an interesting social and emotional experience.

Initially, as I walked away from the supporters holding the large, cloth banners, clutching my supply of fliers, I felt some trepidation - almost a dread - at having to approach strangers, which is really funny for someone who regularly gives out Free Hugs at BART stations. As I scoped out the situation, I noticed many people walking in a multitude of directions - alone, engaged in conversation with others, many wearing headphones or talking on cell phones. Although I was somewhat apprehensive, mostly what I felt was determination - to hand out as many fliers as possible in the two hours ahead of me.

After about ten minutes, I noticed that most folks were more or less open to slowing down to hear about the hikers. I would approach them saying, "Have you heard about the hikers in Iran?" or "Help us free the hikers!" pointing to the banner on the steps of Sproul Hall, and they'd stop, often engaging in conversation or asking for a flier. Some, however, wouldn't make eye contact, would wave me off or say, "No, thanks" as if I was trying to sell them something.

It was my internal reactions to the folks who said, "No thanks," waved me off or made little or no eye contact that really sparked an inner conversation. At first I felt somewhat offended, angry and hurt, as if they didn't care about this very important issue. I mean, here I was willing to take a few hours out of my life and they were just blowing me off! I found myself judging them for being self-absorbed or indifferent. In other words, I took it very personally.

It surprised me that I was taking their responses (or lack thereof) so personally; normally, I'm a pretty tolerant person. But, as I looked more deeply into my own thought process, I remembered a beautiful ritual called "disturbing your life" I participated in several years ago when I was a counselor at a church camp. We did this ceremony on the top of a mountain where we sat in a huge circle with all of the campers and counselors, each turning to the person next to us, taking their hands in ours, looking right in their eyes and saying, "I will disturb my life for you." It was an extraordinarily powerful experience of love, commitment, and community. This expression of willingness to rearrange our lives for another, to do whatever it takes to make sure others are loved and cared for, has stayed with me ever since.

So, as I stood out there on the plaza, hoping to spark some interest in the fate of these three UC Berkeley graduates, meeting averted eyes and strange looks with a cheerful "Thank you!" I began to despair, to wonder why people weren't interested or why they just didn't seem to care. Why weren't they willing to disturb their lives, even for one minute?

Was it because they had more important things to do? It's true, many said, "I’m late for class!" Was it because they thought it was ridiculous to help three people who had obviously gotten themselves into this mess? One gentleman was very quick to point about that. Or was it just because they were so focused on their own lives, on what was right in front of them, that they simply didn't feel they could take a moment to consider the possibility that their actions could make any kind of difference for three hikers half a world away?

I was rolling all of these questions around in my mind, wondering why so many people weren't willing to "disturb their lives" for even one minute to take a flier, when I realized I was being exactly what I was judging them for- ignorant and self-absorbed. Oh, the beauty of being human… the beauty of having a mind.

Taking a mental step back, I remembered another beautiful practice I recently learned called "Ho'Oponopono." It's a radical practice of taking responsibility for everything in your life and everything around you… everything. The way I interpret it is that, on a very deep level, we are each of us responsible for everything that happens in the world because everything is interdependent. In other words, the only separation we experience is the illusion of it in our own minds. So, anything we experience that we don't like "out there" is ours to love and heal internally with this simple phrase, " I love you, please forgive me, I'm sorry, thank you."

If I bring both of these profound practices under one umbrella, they fit perfectly together. If I want to see a change in the world, "out there," I must be willing to disturb my life and take responsibility for it "in here." I must be willing, at any moment, to drop what I think I'm supposed to be doing and listen to the greater call, the Universal urge that tells me to give, without judgment, an extra dollar when I only have two; to stop and tell the clerk at the grocery store how grateful I am for them being committed to impeccable service. This doesn't mean I stop my life permanently, but it means that I stay open to the myriad possibilities of connecting with my fellow human beings.

This is no small feat; we all have busy lives, places to go, people to see. But I wonder, how would our world be different if we all lived from that place? How would it be to take radical responsibility for everything and be willing to disturb our own lives, even for a moment, on a daily basis for the greater good? What would be possible for our planet and all the beings who share it if we got that we mattered that much?

I'm also very clear that I have a long way to go myself. There are countless time when I could have taken an extra minute to make a positive difference in some one's life, could have kept my word, could have held my judgment at bay and "walked a mile in their moccasins." As I stood out on that plaza, hoping to reach into peoples' hearts and souls, hoping for a connection, a spark of recognition and compassion, I could have reminded myself of the thousands of times I'd said, "No thanks" or waved someone off instead of leaping right to the conclusion that they didn't care.

Perhaps they just didn't know. I mean, if it were their brother or daughter suffering the same fate as Sarah, Josh and Shane, I'm certain they would be out there doing the same thing. Yes, it's time to wake up but we have to wake ourselves, and each other, up with love and compassion, not with harsh judgment. There's a time for fierceness, but always it must be with love.

As I have had several weeks to ponder these questions, I am simply left with more, for myself and for anyone who takes time to read this far in this week's blog…. What would I need to do to shift from judgment and taking things so personally to responsibility and willingness? What would it take for me to let go and surrender to the nudges of the Universe? How could I give a little more, and in that giving, remember that I have received so much?

Disturbing my life? Taking 100% responsibility? Seems like a small price to pay for the gifts I've received on this journey called life.

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Postscript:

There is so much hope to feel, and I'm very clear that it has to start with me. That whole taking responsibility and "disturbing my life" for another being practice starts right here… and it starts with taking responsibility for the content of my thoughts. Let me explain.

Since early August I've been praying for Sarah, Josh and Shane, picturing them sitting in prison somewhere in Iran. I've been sending them love and support, but always with that picture in my mind. However, when I read about the 1:33 meditation mentioned below, I realized that I needed to take another step and move away from envisioning them as stuck in this situation. So I decided to change what I was picturing from seeing them in Iran to seeing them being released, getting on an airplane in Tehran, walking off the plane in New York, and into the open arms of their overjoyed families in blissful, relieved and tear-filled reunion. I have set a daily alarm on my cell phone for 1:33pm so I can take some small step to at least remember to send this new vision out into the collective consciousness to be made real.

Things to know:

If they aren't released this week, Halloween will mark the 92nd day of captivity for Sarah, Shane and Josh… over three months. That's an agonizingly long time for their families, and I hope you will consider joining one or more of the events below.

On November 8th, there will be "Vigils of Hope" held around the globe to send love and hope to Sarah, Josh and Shane and their families. Please visit http://freethehikers.org/ to learn more, if you want to light a candle, share a poem, play music, and basically send positive energy to Sarah, Shane and Josh in Tehran.

In addition a daily "Peace 1:33" meditation has started making its way around the world to support them. As it says on the website, http://freethehikers.org/, "it is easy to get caught up in daily responsibilities and let family and friends fall from the forefront of our mind. Shane, Sarah, and Josh were taken on July 31st, 2009 at 1:33 pm and are still being held in Iran. Keeping them on the forefront of our minds is one of the most important actions we can take. Action is created by thought. It is this universal truth that has inspired Peace 1:33. The purpose is to hold the vibration of peace and positive energy for Shane, Sarah, and Josh by focusing on and feeling peace for 1 minute or more each day at 1:33 PM. Set a daily alarm on your cell phone for 1:33 PM. Spend one minute thinking/meditation on peace in honor of Shane, Sarah, and Josh and continue with the daily commitment. If you have access to a bell, ring it three times in honor of each hiker."

Lastly, please spread the word. Send e-mails to your friends, join Free the Hikers on Facebook, and invite friends to do the same. Visit the website. Ask your church or school to participate by ringing their bell three times each day at 1:33 PM. The simplest act on our part can make a world of difference for them.

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Staying honest... making commitments public

There's nothing quite like making our commitments public to really hold ourselves accountable. So, I have decided to begin this New Year (the way I see it, January 20th was the official New Year!) by blogging a lot more often (I'm not willing to commit to a daily thing- waaaay too much!) in order to hold myself accountable to what I say I want to create and as a way to keep my commitment to writing much more tangible this year. So, if you are reading this, thank you for being my invisible "Accountability Buddy" ...and, as they say, "Carpe diem!"

I want to expose my internal dialogues and share them with others so they can see that even someone like me, who speaks to her dreams and visions and talks about all I've got going on in a really positive upbeat way, struggles with issues like confidence, discipline and motivation. Just because I'm writing a book, working on my music and coaching doesn't mean I don't wrestle with these things; as a matter of fact, I'd venture to say that folks who are working toward things that mean a lot to them, who have big goals and grand visions, probably wrestle with these issues even more than the "average Joe" in large part because of the vastness of their sense of responsibility to, not just their family and/or community but, the whole world at large. I sometimes find it challenging, as if in making my declaration to the world that I'm a writer, musician and coach, to live up to my own expectations and the expectations I've set up others to have of me, too.

I think it's a real fallacy people buy into that sets up famous and/or powerful motivators, speakers, actors, musicians, writers, politicians and other leaders to be perfect, to "have it all together." And, let me be clear now, I’m not lumping myself in with that group of folks – YET! What I am saying, though, is that I believe, whether someone is "already there" or they are "on their way," they need to remember and honor that they are not machines that can go and go without taking breaks, without down time and self-care. They need to remember and honor their humanity.

Having said that, I am recommitting to my writing and my music, to getting "out there" as much as possible and, at the same time, to taking impeccable care of myself in the process. I commit to my meditation, my exercise and my good eating habits. I commit to continuing to keep my personal space free of clutter and distractions. I commit to loving myself so much that it feeds my heart and soul and fires my internal flame in a way that brings incredible power to my actions "out there," whatever they may be.

I know we all fall on our diapers, mess up, take two steps back or slack off from time to time. We all do that. But it is my intention to always get back up, clean it up, take 4 steps forward and give myself the down time I need to regenerate and rejuvenate for the journey. Even when I fall down for weeks at a time, I'm not going to use that as an excuse to beat myself up or go into a depression. I'm choosing to use it as a lesson for myself in humility and grace. As long as I can call up on those two qualities, I believe I'll be able to do anything I was put here to do!