surrender

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

to belong...talkingcircle

1. to fit in a specified place or environment

2. to be a member of a particular group

3. to be rightly placed in a specified situation

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

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

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

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

longing... a yearning desire

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

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

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

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

long...

1. covering a great distance (space)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lessons from the lunar eclipse… being part of the tapestry

note: i was going to wait and post this on Monday, October 13th. but i decided not to wait, realizing that was part of my scarcity thinking... "what if i don't have anything to say next week?" then i thought, "post it now. it happened yesterday. carpe diem!" then i thought, "who the f-x-x-c cares if you don't post anything next week?!?!" so... here it is....

October 8th, 2014...

i’m sitting here outside in the dark at 4:16 in the morning, having gotten up about an hour ago to witness the lunar eclipse. and, i have to say, it is worth every bit of effort i made to awaken and whatever lack of sleep i’ll experience later today.

bood mooni’ve heard that it’s sometimes called the “Blood Moon” because of the reddish color it takes on… and now i know why. it’s simply the most gorgeous, essential color. but it’s so much more than that. tonight’s moon is primal, almost painful, in its stark and ethereal beauty as it moves through the branches of the trees above.

before i went to bed i read this great piece about tonight’s full moon - how it’s about letting go of that which is no longer serving us so we can be fully in our power serving humanity and our world. i felt something was important about getting up and bearing witness to this beautiful phenomenon, but i wasn’t sure what. i just knew i needed to be part of it.

but as i sit here outside in the chill night air, wrapped in a little wool blanket with a mug of hot cocoa in my hands, listening to my favorite sound in the whole world - the song of the soft wind dancing in the tall trees here in our little canyon - i realize that the very thing which keeps me moving forward every day and propels me to serve and stand in my power is also the very thing which keeps me utterly separate from everything. when i say, “it’s so beautiful” or “that’s so terrible” or any number of observations my head makes about anything at all, i’ve already assumed i’m separate from it.

there is something opening in my chest as i sit beneath these stars so impossibly far away and these trees so comfortingly close. in this deep darkness, they look equally close. the stars seem so close i could reach out and touch them - like that scene in Contact where she takes off her glove to touch the galaxy above her. there is something letting go in my head as i welcome this closeness, as i feel it not only “out there” but “in here.” these stars know me. i know them. this darkness is not frightening. just the opposite- it is comforting beyond explanation. it’s as comforting as the inside of my heart, as the sacred place i visit in here when i’m in need of reconnecting to myself.

sitting here, still and quiet - in the deep darkness, and soft “shhhhh” of the trees, under the blanket of stars glowing softly above, and the silhouettes of the pines and cedars, and the deep orange glow of the shadow of earth over the moon, i realize that this beauty - this incredible, quieting, deep-breath, muscle-releasing beauty is not separate from me. or, more accurately, i am not separate from it. as i sit here feeling so grateful and so awed by its beauty, i realize that it is me. that i am it. that we are inseparable.

this calming “shhhhh.” these stars, shining brightly and softly as if the sky were a black piece of paper with tiny, perfect holes poked in it by a cosmic pin. these trees, tall and majestic sentinels who have watched over me my entire life. this blood moon, soft and reassuring in her deep knowledge of time and all we’ve been and done. this is not something i stand and comment on like a masterpiece in the Louvre. no, i am in this masterpiece. albeit an integral and infinitesimally small part of it. like the huge tapestries hanging in the cathedrals i love so much in Europe, i am a tiny, momentary thread in the tapestry of life. and, what i am feeling right now - right now - is the deeply humbling and profoundly comforting knowledge that, in simply being - just being - i am expressing my own color in this infinite tapestry.

it brings to mind the saying, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." and i realize that, as humble of a statement that is, it perpetuates separation. it's more like, "there go i." with everyone and everything. there go i... the homeless person on the sidewalk. there go i... the newborn baby. there go i... the terrorist, rapist, murderer. there go i... the nobel prize winner, genius comic, noble saint. there go i... the stars, the trees, the moon.

like this dark orange moon, expressing her unique beauty and offering up the wisdom she has to impart to someone willing to awaken and stand beneath her tonight, i am utterly, intrinsically part of it all. special and beautiful and perfectly placed in the vastness of life. a tiny spark of life with nothing to do other than my part in it all.

so, i go back to bed now, more peaceful and grateful than when i retired a few hours ago. i am bringing this with me into my dreams for the next couple of hours, praying to the Creator of All Life that i may remember this moment as clearly as i feel it now, and bring with me into my coming days, months and years the certainty of how completely insignificant and intrinsic i am to this fabric of beauty we call life.

lunar eclipse

Please note: photos are courtesy of Tonja Peterson, a dear friend and amazing human. Thanks Tonja!

waking up in the Age of Awakening

farm to table photographi'm coming to the realization that the only real power i have is right here, right now. i know… it's something i've been teaching for years. but what i'm realizing, on a deeper level - yet again - is that the best place for me to make my greatest contributions to the world is right here in my own backyard. literally. this looks like growing a garden with non-GMO seeds from our local seed exchange, learning more and more how to live as lightly as possible on the earth (like carpooling with my sweetheart), raising chickens (arriving this weekend- so excited about that!) and contributing to my community in ways that are meaningful to me and hopefully helpful to others. it looks like doing things i love like writing, playing music, teaching workshops, sharing meals with family and friends, and laughing (a lot!). and it looks like opening our home to others who want to share in and co-learn this beautiful, ancient, essential way we are all re-discovering together.

if i were to be perfectly honest, i'd admit that the whole Get That You Matter "thing" started as a book - only a book. all i heard when i first got the message to write it was, "write a book." not "start a global movement" or "create a radio show" or "make a documentary" (although all of those things sound really exciting and tempting). i added all those other ideas over time as my ego got more and more involved in the ever-growing list of things i could do to make this a "really big thing." the truth is, it's the near-constant thinking that i'm not doing enough to make that stuff happen while procrastinating on finishing the book that trips me up every time and wakes me at 3am in a panic on a regular basis. does anyone relate to this?

what i'm realizing is this - it keeps coming back to one word:  simplify.

and this - for an over-achieving, relatively anxious, perfectionistic, recovering people pleaser - is a tall order. i mean, could i get by on checking facebook less than once a day? or stop compulsively signing up for emails about how to market myself bigger and better? or resist signing up for courses on how to make more money doing what i love so i can give more of it away? when i think about letting go of some of the things i could let go of in order to simplify and focus on what's in front of me, it's scary and liberating all at the same time. honestly, though, i can't tell you how much my shoulders drop, my belly softens and my breaths slow and deepen. i get quiet and feel peaceful and calm when i think about my little life "on the farm." the simple truth i'm arriving at is that living a simple life is actually one of the best ways i can contribute to the world.

i mean, if more of us (and by more, i mean millions- maybe even billions) took the time to stop or even slow down for a few minutes and really check in about where we are and what we're doing, we might actually be present. if more of us woke up to the lies we've bought about fulfillment coming from things (the stuff, the money, the cars, the constant barrage of "buy this and feel better"), we'd realize that so much of what we've been indoctrinated with is a lot of smoke and mirrors. if we realized that all that stuff just gets us more stuff, trashes the planet and drives us further away from our hearts and real, meaningful connections with each other, we'd clamor to give away what we don't need to those who could use it. we'd share more- much more. we would empty our costly storage units and tear them down to build community gardens and orchards. we'd end the so-called "demand" for useless little plastic toys and gizmos made in China which only end up in the Pacific Garbage Patch, killing Midway Island seagulls. we'd have dirt under our fingernails instead of acrylic. we'd be grateful to eat what's in season rather than participate in a system which imports pesticide-laden bananas from Ecuador so we can slice them over our genetically-modified cornflakes and antibiotic-riddled fat-free milk.

okay. you get the picture.

Here's the to the simple life

yes it is absolutely critical that we hold corporations (those pesky non-human persons run and maintained by human beings) accountable for their actions (or lack thereof) with protests and petitions and chaining ourselves to machinery. yes it is absolutely critical that we speak out for basic dignity and the rights of child prostitutes in Thailand, suicidal farmers in India, orangutans, polar bears and elephants, the Amazon rainforest and the rights of Nature herself. yes it is important - even critical - that we use the technology we have at hand to make positive impacts, to let our voices be heard and to connect with others around the globe in truly meaningful ways. and… we can do all of that while living simple, earth-honoring lives as unplugged from the machinery and corporatocracy as possible.

perhaps the thing to do is to be willing to tear down the house of cards we all helped to build, piece by piece, while transforming the vast water-sucking lawns around them into food forests maintained by formerly homeless, recovering addicts, ex-CEO's and exiled monks who live in gorgeous tiny houses built from the re-purposed materials of those Towers of Babel we now see were monuments to our own sickness.

perhaps we can sit down together at long farm tables spread with sumptuous feasts grown in those gardens and cooked in solar ovens, then dance to music played on landfill instruments around the bonfires fueled by the millions of boxes of documents we no longer need to hide or maintain and the wood from the warehouses in which we once thought we needed to keep our secrets.

but in order to get there, we are going to have to grieve - long and deep and well - all that we've done and built and ruined and lost in the name of perpetuating the grand illusion that we're separate from each other, our animal and plant companions and the very earth which supports us. only then will we be able to truly live in this beautiful, precious world in a way which sustains us all.

so, here's to the simple life. may enough of us choose to wail, weep, scream, laugh, dance, release, give away, share, re-purpose and create simple lives so we can turn the tide and truly usher in this Age of Awakening.

being vs. doing… part 2

giving up my personal will… ahhhhhhhh!!!

Worry won't stop the bad stuff from happening

wednesday, february 19 2014

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

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

am i depressed? i don't know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

option a) make a difference:

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

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

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

option b) work in the garden:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

what to do about it?

choose option b.

pray. pray. pray.

drink some more hot cocoa (that always helps).

go pull some weeds.

get busy and write my next blog.

 

or just breathe.

Lessons from A Game of Solitaire

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 Lesson #2: Be with what is.

 

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

 Lesson #3: Listen to your intuition.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

May's BEing Game: Being Abundance

"Abundance can be had simply by consciously receiving what has already been given." -Sufi Saying There is a Sufi saying that goes, "Abundance can be had simply by consciously receiving what has already been given." This month we are putting our attention on choosing, as Terces Engelhart says, "the knowingness of being always and completely provided for" and practicing the view that abundance is actually an expression of the Spirit/Divine/The Oneness of which we all contribute to and are all a real part of. For instance, we knew the sun would rise this morning and we don't question that it will rise tomorrow. What if we had this same trust and confidence in the fact that we are always being taken care of in every aspect of our lives? Rather than putting our attention on what is not working and what we don't have, what if we chose instead to see, acknowledge, and give ourselves the experience of gratitude for what was working and what we do have with the same confidence and trust we experience as with the sun. Consider that there is a whole body and network of people, plants, animals, and systems working all the time to bring us things that we often take for granted: clean running water, electricity,our friendships, family, grocery stores, the post office, the internet, etc.

Being abundance also takes letting go of our attachments to how things "should look" or any impulses we have to "fix" life, systems or each other. In this view,it is simply a moment to moment practice of being aware and expressing gratitude for every act of service, product, and intention that sustains our lives. So many of us frequently have thoughts of going hungry, for example. We even exaggerate them on a regular basis: "I'm starving", for example. But how many meals have each of us skipped in our lives that wasn't by choice? I can't think of 1 day in my life where I skipped a meal because I couldn't afford groceries or didn't have a friend or family member to lean on? What if instead of buying into this view of individual scarcity (how we aren't provided for in the realms of food, transportation, bills, love, time, etc.) we took a moment to ask ourselves how we are being provided for and focus on the thousands of meals we have received in our one life time to date?

While writing this blog I am sitting in the Heart Rock Cafe drinking a cup of Thanksgiving Coffee. As I drink my coffee I am aware of all the labor, shipping, commerce, and intentions it took to get this coffee into my hands from the coffee bean growers, to the pickers, to the buyers who care about providing right livelihood for the growers, to the truck drivers and shipyards who got the beans to this cafe location. I am present to the coffee plants themselves that have been flowering, growing and taking in sunshine and water for months to produce the beautiful cup in front of me and the cow that gave its milk to the farmer who harvested it to the shop owner and the smiling barista who served it up. I am so provided for and fulfilled in this now moment just by putting my attention upon all the contributions it took world-wide to get this cup of coffee to me so that I can do the good work I am here to do. This is abundance!

We invite you to play with us this month. How are you being provided for? What services, products, people have you possibly been taking for granted? What do you have an abundance of: shoes, friends, food, money, skills, opportunities? We'd love to hear from and celebrate your abundance!

 

 

Notes from Erin… 50 and Loving It!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

fog in the meadow

trees disappear, path reveals

alone in the white

 

a curtain of white

opens, opens ahead,

revealing the path with each step.

trees, barn, creek come clear.

the curtain of mist

closes, closes behind,

concealing the trail I have left.

trees, grass, fear disappear.

 

 

Question of the Week… 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.

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!

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.

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!

Ah procrastination...

I have been procrastinating about this blog for months… again. It's my very large streak of perfectionism… the old "all my ducks must be lined up before I take action" story. Don't get me wrong – I'm fairly spontaneous when it comes to doing fun things with my friends and family. But when it comes to what I'm "putting out there" in the world, it's more often than not got to be perfect. Hence, my book continues to live in the "to be published" phase. Do you recognize this in yourself?

The truth is there are always things to write about, comment on, argue for or against, take a strong stand for, figure out, offer, share. Always. As a matter of fact, I could safely say there are more things to write about, comment on and share than one person could ever handle, but I sure as hell do my best. I continue to save emails, notes and ideas, stashing them away to send out when I do my newsletter (which is still waiting in the wings for the right time). And they continue to pile up.

I realize, in holding this Vision I've been holding for nearly four years now, I feel I have lost some of my momentum – or at least misplaced it temporarily – and that has me scared. The clock is ticking more loudly than ever. I'm almost 50 years old and I need to get off my ass and live out what I'm here to do!

This panic often drives me to work until I fall asleep at the keyboard, often startled awake at 11 or 12 to a bunch of ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff's on the page. I often wish I didn't need to sleep (or like it) as much as I do. I sometimes wish I didn't need to eat or take care of this body as much as I do. It simply feels like there is not enough time in one day, week, month, year or lifetime to do all the things I want to do, and that I'm steadily losing ground on what I want to create. I wake up at night wondering, "Is my book already written by someone else? Has the title been taken and I just don't know it?" I can't help but feel slightly guilty and embarrassed that it's taken this long to get it closer to being published.

Then I remember what I tell my clients – starting new from this moment is all we can do. Regret will get us absolutely nowhere. I am teaching, once again, what I most need to learn myself… that forgiveness, self-love and discipline… this fine balance of qualities are what makes for a life of contribution and meaning. A life of mattering.

There is really no point to this little bit of verbal purging other than my attempt to at least get something out of my head and into the world. I will save my soapbox for the next posting. Suffice to say, I am – once again – renewing my commitment to share, to get "out there in the world" what lives in my head and heart, the issues and causes that make me flail my arms in the air in absolute frustration, cry with deep compassion or laugh with sheer delight. Woohooo!

Some thoughts since Thanksgiving...

I've thought a lot about whether or not to post this blog the last couple of days. Is it too depressing? Will it come back to bite me in the butt somewhere down the road? Will it turn people off from wanting to work with me or buy my book? And what I keep coming to is a clear and steady, "No." What I actually hear is a clear and steady, "Share this. Share yourself with the world, clearly and with love, and you will be amazed."

As I wander through the world, everywhere from my home in the Sierras to Boston to various communities on the internet to my soon-to-be-new home in L.A., what strikes me is a longing for authenticity and realness. I feel and hear a yearning for connection that's about much more than making ourselves or others feel good in order to get something or add one more name to our email lists. In the last week or so, I've "unsubscribed" to a lot of things just to get back to the quiet inside and to be able to really hear the cries for connection under all the chatter....

So, I choose to share in this way, revealing my pain and struggles as well as the insights and beauty in this moment, in the hopes that someone may be moved, inspired or feel they're not as alone as they thought they were. I share this to remind you that you are loved, that you are important, that you matter and that you are needed... no matter how down, low or useless you feel right now, this is temporary. I know... and you are not alone.

Thanksgiving Day, 11/26/09
It's early morning on Thanksgiving Day, and I am sitting here with a myriad of emotions and thoughts. Honestly, it's been a tough year- for so many, myself included. It's hard to cultivate my gratitude sometimes when I'm constantly worried about how I'm going to get myself out of the financial hole I'm in.

If you really knew me, you'd know that...
* although this year has been a year of great experiences and wonderful shifts, it's also been one of the hardest years of my life (like the year my mom died, the years of the divorces).
* although I'm so grateful for everything I do have (a home, food to eat, running water, electricity), I feel a nearly constant fear of not being able to take care of myself.
* I am so grateful for all the help I've received from my close family and several friends, and just under the surface I feel a constancy of guilt and shame about how far down I've gone and that I've become a burden to those around me.
* most of the time, I live with this low-grade panic or anxiety about life- like I'm just one step away from total self-destruction.
* sometimes, especially lately, I think, "My God, I've become the crazy mother I hear other people talking about- crying, mood swings- happy one minute, in a puddle of tears the next." Who have I become?
* I really wonder if I'm really depressed or manic… this does not feel normal. Is it just mid-life hormones?
* although I often talk and write about the importance of gratitude and feeling good about ourselves, it's really hard to feel good about myself when I work so hard to get things going and just the smallest trickle of response comes in.
* most of the time, the shame I feel about where I'm at in my life makes me want to be alone and hide from the world but the thing I long for the most is connection and to be held.
* whatever love is being offered feels far away, like I've created some kind of energetic quarantine sign that says, "Don't come close! What I've got is infectious and you wouldn't want to catch it."
* almost more than anything, I want to be held… to feel someone's arms around me, and hear them say, "It's all going to be all right."
* the tears feel like they'll never stop- this well of grief and shame and sadness feels bottomless.
* I feel so out-to-sea right now, rudderless... with a small, slow leak in my tiny little boat.
* I believe that, even though this is truly one of the few most painful and difficult times of my life, I know that I'm being led somewhere… if I can just hang in there a little longer....
* I'm tired of hanging in there….
* Thanksgiving is usually my favorite holiday, but this year I just want to crawl in bed and pull the covers over my head.

11/27/09
4:30am… Can't sleep. Woke up 30 minutes ago and tried to go back to sleep, but no good. So, I decided to get up, make a cup of tea, crawl onto the couch with the blanket and write and meditate. Thinking about all the bills and how I'm going to deal with them, the prospects of looking for a job in L.A., looking for a place to stay, and hoping I'm not setting myself up for even more failure by going down there. I don't trust myself right now. It seems like listening to myself has gotten me dug into this hole, but listening to others hasn't exactly dug me out either. Waking up with fear and anxiety every day has got to be taking a toll on my health. No wonder folks who inquire about my coaching don't hire me- if I saw my blogs and facebook posts, I don't think I'd hire me either. Seems like very little makes sense anymore, except that I keep hearing Spirit saying, "Finish the book. Focus on the book. Let go of everything else."

5:12am... Woke up about an hour ago in another panic. Can't seem to focus on what I can do- just overwhelmed by fear and shame. Feeling numb, hoping and praying that, somehow, in sharing this, I will find my way.

Listening to one of my favorite songs- "Wash Your Spirit Clean" over and over again. What will wash my spirit clean? What do I need to let go of?
* the high hopes that I would have at least 20 folks sign up for my teleclass.
* being able to pay my bills.
* dreams of the life I've created in my mind and visions- of traveling, of sharing my life with someone I love.
* hopes that my life will ever be different than it is right now. I mean, what if my life never changed from what it is right now? What if I continued to live with this amount of debt, scarcity, fear, doubt, anxiety and pressure?
* pride (BIG TIME) – about anything I'm too afraid to share, about looking good to everyone "out there" while I'm continuing to suffer "in here," about being an "expert" and wanting to hold up the façade of being someone who actually knows what she's doing when, in truth, I'm just stumbling around hoping I get this life right for the most part.
* shame (in deep, thick layers) by telling the truth of where I am right now....
* the deep pain and fear, anxiety and worry… if I let it all go, where would I be? Who would I be? What would I do?

I'm going to go to sleep for a bit and see if my dreams bring any relief or answers….

8:00am…
Just woke up again. Had some dreams, but can't remember them. But I just realized that this depression I'm in is an opportunity to get back to what's really true and simple- back to the things that are most important, the basics. Like taking care of my body, eating well, brushing and flossing, doing yoga, etc. Something is being asked to be sloughed off… there is wisdom - great wisdom - in letting go of as many externals as I can and in learning discernment. I must re-member who I am, discern what serves me when, and make conscious choices about how I want to present myself.

My question for the day…
What do I need to do today to move my Vision forward and live from my purpose?
Shed all you know. Shed all expectations you have of yourself and that you think others have of you. Surround yourself with comfort right now, find what you need to take care of yourself and make that happen. Find what you can to enjoy this time here with your kids. Things didn't work out the way you'd expected them to, but remember they don't usually. Stay focused on the book; it's hard to do that when you are so worried about money, but the more focus you put on the book, the more you're going to find flowing in. Listen to your heart… follow your dream and passion.

Stay connected with your guides; they will guide you beautifully. Feed your internal flame. Do things that feed your flame - do things that will bring more joy into your life. Take walks, play games, listen to music, dance.

You are not in this book game to make money, you're in it to bring your message to the world. You are not going to go the route of fast-paced, sales-y, go-go-go marketing. You are going to go the way of beauty, truth, transparency, art, love and openheartedness. Your path is very different from many of those around you. Follow your path, even though it seems scary, lonely and different. You are blazing a trail- you are a pioneer as Tanner said….

Give more, hope less, BE GRATEFUL always. Be gentle with yourself today… be gentle.

11/28/09
Got a email from my friend from Rob, kicking my butt, in response to a note I sent out. He quoted my statement, "it's my passion and the Mission of this book to inspire people (myself incuded) to remember who they are and get that they matter," and then wrote:
OK, so here's your assignment: tell me who you are... and why you matter!

I love it when my friends kick my butt. Thank you, Rob!

I decided to meditate on it, and this is what I got:
I am giving birth- squatting, screaming, my guides are holding my arms- holding me up and yelling, "Push! Push!" There's a bed of leaves covered with a blanket under me. The baby has arrived and I am crying and laughing. One of my guides comes around behind me and is holding me, cradling me in his arms, brushing my hair from my face. We are looking at this beautiful baby that one of my other guides has wrapped in a blaket and she's now in my arms. She is so beautiful. She is so beautiful. She has luminous eyes – dark but luminous. It is so peaceful here, so peaceful. Just sitting here, warm and complete in this family- in the beauty of this family knowing tht this child is being born into a family that loves her so much. "What is her name?" they ask; I respond, "Erin. She is the light of the world, she is the perfect reflection of everyone here, of all beings, she helps them remember who they are, she is truth and beauty and fragility and the deepest pillar of strength. She lives to serve. She lives to remind others of their perfection and beauty and fragility and strength. She is a writer, a songmistress, a singer of humanity's trials and journeys and triumphs, she is here to LOVE. She gets to be born into this family of love, to be supported in her every step, to be allowed to make mistakes and to fall, to learn how to get back up on her own again and to run and run with others. She is here simply to Love. She is our Reminder of Love. Her path is not necessarily easy, but her path is necessary and hers to walk."

She, the baby, is speaking now. "I am here to help you remember to trust that you are taken care of. I am here to remind you that all things that happen are not your fault- how could an innocent child ever be to blame for what happens to those around her? You are sensitive – that is both a blessing and a curse. You are not to blame for anything that happened to you as a child, you are not to blame for your mother's unhappiness nor for your children's challenges. You have contributed your part, sure, but you are not to blame wholly and entirely."

The guide who wrapped the baby in a blanket says:
You are birthing the child that's being born of your internal feminine and masculine. It must come from your pain, your pushing, your letting go and releasing that this child is born. Your internal masculine and you are the parents of this child, this woman to be, this new you, this Erin who is being asked to give life to her new self. Olnly thorugh your pain and suffering could she have been born at all… you could not be coming to this new place of beingness, this new plateau, without the pain of birth. You are not so much standing on the brink of a precipice as you are on the brink of a new life.

In order to step fully into it, you must shed your old life. You must release all ways of being that you've come to expect of yourself and that you've trained others to expect of you. You are shedding shame, fear and any expectations that you are any way- in your behavior or being. You are shedding expectations of being bubbly and joyful, of being morose and serious, you are shedding all expectations that you or others have of you and stepping into the "nowness" of being.

What are you releasing? You are releasing...
* Old stories.
* The deep shame and guilt you have lived with from before you were born.
* Your behaviours around your children, the ways in which you interact with them- you must release all expectations of your daughter, all fears for her and release her to the winds of life, even if you are scared for her. You no longer need to protect her from the winds that blow; she needs to do that for herself. You can be her refuge when she asks for it, but you no longer need to offer it.
* You are releasing going to your children for affection, relying on them for physical love and connection. You must find that in other places; when they reach out to you, you can equally share in the connection, but you must not rely on them to supply you with the love you ache for.
* You must step into this discipline- the discernment and discipline- it is absolutely necessary for you to move into this in order to move into the greatness that is being asked of you.
* You are releasing the so-called freedom of having a lot of time for yourself. You are calling in the discipline of short amounts of time for yourself in order to work at jobs that feed your pocketbook and soul.
* You are stepping away form massive amounts of time alone, building a community in a new place, and finding the moments of time for yourself in the early mornings and late nights to write, to work and to move forward.
* You are surrendering to a much greater vision of yourself, and you must let die the old self in order to do so. If you do not let the old you die, you will continue to live with this ache and longing for "something more." Let it all go.

When I say to my guide, "I feel like I'm moving through emotions, states and thoughts at lightning speed, as if I'm moving through years of work in a day sometimes- flip-flopping from one emotion to the next," she responds, "This is because you are healing and shifting at a very fast pace, moving into the next phase of your life. Let it take you at its pace and you will be amazed at how quickly things shift. Do not resist this; if you do, it will be long, slow and even more painful. Let it all go... and step into the brilliance and beauty of your new life...."

Hey, Rob- here's my homework.

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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!

Friday morning, Topanga Canyon... free-falling after the leap

Last night was good but strange. I went to dinner with my host and two of his friends, a lovely couple taking a break from traveling the world to visit friends and family before heading out one more time. They were lovely people and I hope I get to know them better, but I felt very quiet and shy, and all I wanted to do was listen and observe. The introvert in me was in full bloom, and I felt strangely out of place, almost an intruder even though the three of them seemed quite happy to welcome me.

I felt awkward and almost dispassionate when Amy asked me why I'm in Los Angeles. I stammered out a crude explanation about the directive I received last fall to "go to L.A.," my desire to make connections and look for investors for the book project, and the fact that I was also looking for work that will sustain me in the meantime, but it all felt flat. What I really wanted to say was, "I have no freaking idea why I'm here!"

Why am I here anyway? Because a loud, booming voice from the sky told me to come here? Yes! Is it the same loud, booming voice I heard three years ago this month when I was told to write this book that's taking forever to complete? Yes!

So I listen and follow directions like the good girl that I am, and now I'm sitting in someone's (a very kind and generous someone, I might add) back patio, overlooking Topanga Canyon, watching the sun make its way over the crest of the mountain, feeling alone and scared, wondering why in the hell I'm here. "My GOD, what have I done?!?"

I guess the single simplest explanation is I've taken a leap - a giant, free-falling leap of faith. But doing it alone at 47 feels a lot different than doing it at in my 30's with a husband and a plan. It feels way scarier, even than taking a trip around the world with company, way more risky, and way lonelier.

Truth be told, if I were to give my Inner Critic full reign, it would say, "What the hell are you thinking?!? I mean really! You're up to your eyeballs in debt, have no idea how you're going to pay the bills due next week, and you're sitting here writing about it. You should be out there pounding the pavement. You should be looking for work right now. You should get up off your ass and do something! Instead you're sitting on your ass, sipping tea and writing about it." That's what my Inner Critic says.

And yet, when I say ever so kindly, "Thank you for sharing. Now please be quiet," when I take a deep breath and feel the depth of my loneliness as well as the rightness of where I am and the depth of conviction that this is the right place for me to be and I'm doing exactly what I need to do, I remember that listening to that big, booming voice (no, not the Inner Critic) has gotten me this far with great success. I've created a really amazing life for myself. Despite not yet having all the material things or financial freedom I desire, I have a beautiful home in the mountains I can go back to any time I wish, I have more amazing friends than I could have ever imagined, two incredible children who are creating amazing lives for themselves, and so much more. I remember that I've known for a year that I needed to come here, even if it meant feeling completely alone.

So, I take a deep breath and a good look around at the beauty of this scene, listen to the birds arguing, the cars driving by down below, hitch up my britches and exhale... I remember. I am right where I need to be and everything - everything - is okay. Even the rapid beating of my heart. Even the feeling like I'm either about to explode or pack up the car and head home as fast as possible like this was all just a big mistake. Even the feeling that this place is just too big, too cynical and too hard for an open-hearted, thin-skinned country girl like me and I have no idea how to maintain my open heart and greet everyone I meet from that place, like I seem to do so easily at home. Even that

I just have to breathe and be - in this moment, and this one, and this one. That's all I have to do to keep that monster in my head at bay.

After I do that for a bit, what's next? Post this blog, make some calls, get on craigslist and look for some jobs, then get in my car, head out of this protective canyon and into the big, wide valley of possibility. As my son wrote in the very sweet note he left on my passenger seat, "...give 'em hell. LA won't know what hit 'em.

Amen.

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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.