trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

thank you for listening to your deep inner wisdom.

with love and blessings,

erin

Balance

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!

THE BEAUTY OF INSIGNIFICANCE

recently, i was worrying about the fact that i hadn't written a blog in a few weeks when it occurred to me that no one is waiting with baited breath for the next one. sure, i get a comment here or there, but it's rare. to be honest, it felt like a kind of spiritual slap in the face of my self-admittedly large ego.

then, in the next moment, i had this eye-opening realization that i am utterly insignificant. it wasn't a moment of self-pity (nor am i looking for someone to take pity on me now). it was just a very matter-of-fact understanding - more deeply and plainly than ever before - of my utterly complete insignificance. i shared with my husband that it's like seeing, with complete clarity, that i'm simply one tiny little grain of sand on a vast cosmic beach.

earthinmilkywayon one hand, i was kind of thrown for a loop because i know that, at the core of my being, i matter. a lot. we all do. a lot. i mean, that's what my book is all about! that's why i even write these blogs in the first place. sheesh! but, to be totally transparent, a big part of me knows i've spent the last eight years doing all of this to prove to myself how much i matter in order to avoid seeing how completely insignificant i am in the grand scheme of things.

so… here i go yet again, diving in at a deeper level, questioning my entire set of motivations for writing the book, creating the website and being the voice for this message. throwing my battered ego into total panic mode as it grapples with this truth while trying to find my footing on this long, slow climb up "Mt. Awakening." and i am going to finish the book. period.

as you can see, with this kind of realization, it could be easy for me to careen headlong into my bad neighborhood. you know, the part of the mind that loves to criticize, abuse and go to very dark places. and, i tell you, my bad neighborhood has a six-lane entrance, a lot of dark, dirty streets and a teeny tiny one-way alley exit.

but honestly, it was kind of a relief. to know the depth of my insignificance gave me room to breathe and let myself off the hook of over-achievement i've been hanging myself on as long as i can remember.

the truth is, no one else's life, no cause or institution, not even the planet itself is dependent on me contributing to the world because of what i do. actually nothing depends on my contribution in any way, really. the conclusion i'm coming to is that being happy and fulfilled in who i am - doing my best to live out what i’m here to live out, loving everyone as best i can, and creating what i'm creating in any given moment - with as much joy as possible is the best, and only, way for me to participate fully in this experience of being a human.

as i am coming to a deeper, humbling understanding of this realization of my own insignificance, i am finding genuine peace and joy standing in this space. it's quiet here. i have room to breathe and stretch, and grow and read and just hang out and enjoy the beauty of this moment. i have nothing to prove. nowhere to get to. no one to impress. just breathing and standing here.

and dancing… in and out of the peace and worry, the beauty and terror, the sheer humanness of being human. and, most of all, loving. that’s it. plain and simple. i guess in the end, there is only love to be offered and only love to be received. the rest is all window-dressing.

 

Notes from a Recovering Over-Achiever

I'd rather be whole than good

if you really knew me, i was raised as an enabler (check out this really great definition), trying to prove my worthiness by cloaking it in a pretty package of helpfulness, busyness and achievement. in other words, a classic codependent. the thing about this is, i came to identify myself as useful and good because of my helpfulness and achievements rather than being whole and good simply because i exist. and, in the process, i set up myself and everyone around me with this expectation, even at my own expense. can anyone relate to this? it's a habit, once established, that's very hard to break… especially after 52 years.

as i often share with my clients, i've come to see that we all go through cycles of healing and growth, and that, if we allow ourselves to really feel and be present to them, we can come out the other side with more clarity and completeness. well, if you really, really knew me, i've been in the midst of one of those cycles the last few months with no real clarity other than knowing that i've been in nearly constant physical and mental pain and that i need to continue to stay the course with this incredible discomfort. i liken it to being in the "imaginal soup" of a cocoon… you know, no longer a caterpillar (head popped off, body turning to mush) but not yet a butterfly? like, what the hell am i, anyway?

this deep, painful and undeniable letting go of my old self and yet another layer of ego has come up (uhgain!) and i'm just now feeling like i'm coming out the other side.in other words, i've been "in the trenches" this last few months, mucking about in the dark corners of this lifelong dynamic… and it's been humbling to say the least. sometimes more than i wanted.

Metamorphosis - Dongale Studio

it all came to a head one morning a few weeks ago when i woke up in tears and spent pretty much the whole day crying. i was totally unclear about why until i shared with my husband that i was feeling deeply out of place and totally overwhelmed returning home to California after our beautiful trip to Switzerland. as i talked it out, though, i realized a few things:

1.  in Switzerland i had an experience of being wholly accepted by his family for who i was without my having had to do anything to earn that acceptance. they didn't know anything about my work or accomplishments, my efforts and failures, my compulsive over-achieving or my tendency towards almost constantly comparing myself to others who i view as more successful than me. all they knew and experienced was that i love their brother with all my heart, and that i love to laugh and sing, try new things (foods, languages, experiences) and spend time having meaningful conversations.

2. that this inveterate expectation of myself to be everything for everyone began when my mother, whom i loved very much and with whom i had a very codependent relationship, carried me in her womb.

3. that i must diligently work to give up this pattern of expectation if i want to be happy.

having said that, i imagine that you may be thinking, "Well, duh!"… especially since these are things i've been writing about for years. with all honesty, however, i can say that i have been fully, utterly, humbled by this last round of "learning what i teach." i'm so grateful to Jakob for pointing out to me with such compassion that i am creating my own reality, and that maybe - just maybe - i have some attachments i can give up, and for tenderly holding space and time for me to cry and be "in it." in that space, i got to raise my head above it enough to see that it's time to give up possibly the biggest chunk of the identity to which i've clung for nearly 52 years that is clearly not serving me anymore… the need to "make a difference" in the world, the need to be seen.

in other words, it's time to choose being whole rather than good.

i think what's been brewing as i've been swimming in this soupy space between caterpillar and butterfly is that i'm being re-wired to be moved by what's right in front of me rather than my ego-driven visions and plans for the future. to find my authentic rhythm with life and trust that my muse will return if i just give her some space. it's like the Universe has been forcing me to re-evaluate how i'm being in the world, guiding me to look really deeply at myself and urging me to slough off anything that doesn't feel like an absolute "yes." as i've been listening, mostly i've heard, "just be. it's not time yet." so, i've continued watering and weeding the garden, watching my internal responses to the process (comparison, self-doubt, worry and anxiety about not doing enough), breathing and letting go (allowing myself to enjoy this simple life with the love of my life and our family).

and, as much as my ego wants to press forward with all the plans i'd made for myself, i'm giving myself as much time as i need. i'm learning to… unwind the tightly wound springs of a lifetime of doing, unravel and release the threads of voices other the one that says i'm enough just because i am and for no other reason, unbend the shape i'd twisted myself into believing i had to prove myself and achieve anything in order to justify my existence.

it's not an easy journey for a recovering over-achiever, but it is a necessary one.

as my friend Jordanna shared recently, "The more driven we are to do big things in this world, the less we may allow ourselves to slow down and take full advantage of the lessons that are popping up in front of us to learn. Not only do we risk missing out on the sweetness of life and the many glories that can come from it,... we also risk not receiving the full transformation that comes when we slow down long enough to not only get the lesson, but to be our own teachers and take each lesson a few chapters deeper in the book of life."

life has forced my hand. it's slowed me down without question and i'm finally listening.

what i know for sure is… i matter enough to take this time and dive deeply into what is coming forth now as my deeper layer of authentic expression. it is truly a blessing to have this opportunity to do so and i'm excited for what will come of it, even if it's just spending more time planting seeds and harvesting zucchini.

Figures drawing "Metamorphosis" by Don Gale

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.

When would NOW be a good time to wake UP?

on Thursday February 6th i changed my profile picture on facebook from this erin fb profile pic

to this

fb nsa profile pic

after being inspired by the fact that my sweetheart had done so.

in all honesty, i thought long and hard before doing so. because, even though i fully stand behind this movement to keep our current system, this "corporatocracy," from making our lives look very much like scenes from George Orwell's infamous novel, 1984, i was a bit scared to be Bold about it in such a public way. then i realized that's exactly what they want me to do. they want me to pause and let that little trickle of fear grow into a river coursing through my veins causing me to stay numb, speechless and paralyzed. in that moment, i knew i had to do it, regardless. in choosing to change my profile photo and make a bold statement about how i feel about what is happening in our country, i was choosing to say "enough is enough."

i'm not saying that changing my profile photo is all that big of a deal or some super-courageous act. nor is it likely to land me on some list in a thousand-page document in a box in some government vault somewhere. (i'm probably already on one somewhere for something, anyway, like any good, vocal, participatory and upstanding citizen of what is slowly becoming the antithesis of a democracy is likely to be). but what i am saying is that there is, honestly, a growing shout inside of me saying, "screw it!" this is more important than my personal comfort, bigger than my fear and sure as hell something that deserves to be written about in as many places as possible.

the thing is, most of us are behaving like the proverbial frogs in the pot of water - the temperature being turned up just slowly enough that we won't notice until it's too late and we're all floating at the top of a big pot of frog soup. so many of us are going through our daily lives ignorant of or avoiding the truth of what is happening all around us - and we can no longer afford to remain in blissful ignorance. as i've quoted my friend Shanan many times, "it's time to wake up, sheeple!"

when i clicked the link for the Day We Fight Back website to learn how change my profile photo, this very compelling video grabbed my attention. if you really knew me, i usually tend to watch videos with half an eye and ear as i switch back and forth from what i'm writing to my email, but something about this one caught me, particularly every time i heard Aaron Swartz speak. i'd never heard of him until i watched this video, but he was incredibly articulate, passionate and intelligent… and i noticed that everyone else in the video spoke about him with a great deal of love and respect but also as if he were no longer here. so, i looked him up, and sure enough, i learned he had died. at the age of 26, this amazingly brilliant, boldly courageous and tirelessly dedicated man had hung himself after being indicted in 2011 "on federal data-theft charges for breaking into the MIT computer system and allegedly downloading 4.8 million documents from the subscription-based academic research database JSTOR"1  to which he had pleaded not guilty and was facing 35 years in prison and a $1million fine. As DemandProgress Executive Director David Segal said, “This makes no sense; it’s like trying to put someone in jail for allegedly checking too many books out of the library…. It’s even more strange because JSTOR has settled any claims against Aaron, explained they’ve suffered no loss or damage, and asked the government not to prosecute."2

being honest john lennonas i sat in tears reading about this man's life, i realized that he was born just a few months after my son, who is also a brilliant, articulate and passionate man who happens to live in the same city as Aaron Swartz did. this was crazy. and, although this young man died at his own hand, i have no doubt that the very system he was trying to change carries much of the blame for his death. as his family wrote, "Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney’s office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims."3

and he is not the only one who has suffered - as we all know, there are many courageous men and women who have been willing to question "authority" at great risk to their own lives. i believe whistleblowers and others who are willing to "say it like it is" are some of our greatest heroes - people like Daniel Ellsberg, persecuted for his bravery in exposing the vagaries of the Vietnam War, and Edward Snowden, currently living under a year-long asylum in Russia for courageously leaking numerous NSA documents about global surveillance. people like Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald. these are the people standing on the edge of the pot screaming at the rest of us, "jump out before it's too late!"

now, dear reader, you may be thinking that this issue has nothing to do with you. but i say it has everything to do with you, me and every other citizen- of every country around the world. if you don't think it does, i invite you to click these links and let me know how you feel after watching them:

• "The Program":  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/opinion/the-national-security-agencys-domestic-spying-program.html?_r=4&

or, maybe you think it's not a big enough issue. but i say, this is huge. it is connected to every other issue about which i and everyone i know is concerned - from climate change to human rights to gun control to environmental racism and on and on and on. in other words, it has become woven into the very fabric of our culture and, in my opinion, we cannot afford to ignore it any longer.

or, perhaps, you may be wondering what this bold, personal, political statement has to do with Get That You Matter. i say, it has everything to do with what we're about- getting that everything we think, say and do matters, and that standing up for our basic human rights is part of that. As Chris Hedges writes in his Truthdig article, The Last Gasp of American Democracy, "The state’s wholesale intrusion into our lives and obliteration of privacy are now facts. And the challenge to us—one of the final ones, I suspect—is to rise up in outrage and halt this seizure of our rights to liberty and free expression. If we do not do so we will see ourselves become a nation of captives…. The most radical evil, as Hannah Arendt pointed out, is the political system that effectively crushes its marginalized and harassed opponents and, through fear and the obliteration of privacy, incapacitates everyone else…. The object of efficient totalitarian states, as George Orwell understood, is to create a climate in which people do not think of rebelling… [it] achieves this control… by systematically crushing human spontaneity, and by extension human freedom. It ceaselessly peddles fear to keep a population traumatized and immobilized."4

i invite you to consider that we are at the most critical point in human history - right now, right here, today. if we are to truly get that we matter, my questions to you are these…

  • what has reading this blog sparked in you?
  • what are you willing to change? to choose? to commit to?
  • and, finally, as i've said before, "when would NOW be a good time to wake UP?!"

as David Sirota said so well in the New York Times Op-Doc Why Care About the NSA?, "if you don't speak up for everybody's rights, you'd better be prepared for your own rights to be trampled when you least expect it."if we are to play our part in the great re-evolution of humanity from where we've been to where we want to be going - if we are to build this bridge from "business (or life) as usual" to a whole new paradigm as we are walking, running and dancing across it - we must each be willing to commit to what we believe in and live it with every fiber of our being. if i am not up for that, then i should pull the plug on what i've been working on for the last 7 plus years, plug my ears and sing, "la la la la" while the world as we know it crumbles around me.

truth

QUOTES:

  1. http://business.time.com/2013/01/13/tech-prodigy-and-internet-activist-aaron-swartz-commits-suicide/
  2. http://techland.time.com/2011/07/19/reddit-co-founder-aaron-swartz-indicted-for-data-theft-could-face-35-years-in-prison/
  3. http://www.rememberaaronsw.com/memories/
  4. http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/the_last_gasp_of_american_democracy_20140105
  5. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/opinion/why-care-about-the-nsa.html

Burning Man, part 1: trusting ourselves to heal

Camp Listenthree weeks ago i returned from my first time at Burning Man. what a profound experience. i've actually been finding it very hard to put into sufficient words, but i'll do my best. as i've been writing about my experience, i realized that i was trying to put everything into one blog which turned out to be just "too many notes," as the Emperor told Mozart. what i'm seeing very clearly now is how beautifully what i experienced fits in with our being game for this month - Trust, and with our upcoming theme for October (a little sneak preview) - Courage. so i'm going to divvy it up and share about the two major aspects of my experience separately, knowing of course, that they're inextricably interconnected. thus, i invite you to read on and stay tuned!

my first really great encounter was with two joyfully enthusiastic naked greeters who invited me to ring a huge bell with a big stick in honor of being a Burning Man virgin. i banged the hell out of it… and got a great big cheer from them, a few others and my wonderful companion, Samson. smiling and cheering myself, i knew i was in for a wonderfully new and different experience.

at this point i have to share that Burning Man is guided by 10 principles which every participant is requested to agree to ahead of time and live by while there. when i first read them, i felt like i was reading some of the guiding values of my own life. seeing them lived out with such grace, joy and enthusiasm by the vast majority of the nearly 70,000 participants made me feel like I'd found a second home… as if my personal experience of home - the world i live inside myself, with everyone on the get that you matter team and so many of my global family members on a daily basis - was finally being expressed in physical, external form. it was as if it were no different from how i live my "real" life while at the same time being totally outside of my normal environment of living alone in the middle of the woods. held in the container of these principles and a group of wonderfully loving campmates, i was given the perfect opportunity to surrender to the experience and trust in my ability to navigate daily exposure to extremely loud music, the harshest elements of sun, wind and dust, dehydration and encounters with other humans in a vast array of states of consciousness. on the playa, i got to deepen the connection i regularly feel with others on a daily, even moment-to-moment basis since there was virtually no "down time" except when i crawled, exhausted, into my sleeping bag after long, delicious days of service and surrender.

being in that environment for five days, i had a deeper experience of trust - in myself, others and the experience - as an abiding faith in the essential goodness and benevolence of all creation. i got to see clearly that trust does not equal apathy, and to act from a place of benevolence which had the interest of the greatest good in mind at all times while at the same time caring for myself. it was a constant holding of both the micro and the macro, a relentless giving up of the self for the benefit of the whole, a practice of living in trust.

“Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm; and enthusiasm can be roused by two things: first, an ideal that takes the imagination by storm; second, an intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.” - Arnold Toynbee

as a culture-at-large, we seem to be trusting things to continue the way they have been and not suffer grave consequences. however, at Burning Man, i was blessed to see and experience that the answer lies in creating a balance between trusting the perfection of what's unfolding and trusting ourselves to do what's needed to make the necessary changes. trusting in the future means taking full responsibility for our actions today, right now. in other words, trust and accountability go hand-in-hand. as Joanna Macy wrote, "Which do you choose to put in the foreground: Business As Usual in the industrial growth society? Or The Great Unraveling, as ecosystems and cultures fall apart? Or The Great Turning to a life-sustaining society? Each story is true and happening right now. The question for each of us is which do we choose to identify with and devote ourselves to. The Great Turning, the largest social movement in history, is created by millions of individuals making their own individual choice to act for the sake of life on Earth."

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despite what often seemed like outer appearances to the contrary, it was this commitment to choosing to act for the sake of all life which moved me most deeply at burning man. everywhere i went, i witnessed acts of generosity and care for each other and the planet. i'm absolutely certain that the depth and power of my experience had mostly to do with being part of such a profoundly dedicated, open and loving group of people at Camp Listen. i was continually and profoundly moved and inspired by my campmates' dedication to the Burning Man principles, to our own guidelines, and to connection, selfless service and presence.

if you really knew me,  one of my major concerns (fears, really) in attending Burning Man was that of being overstimulated and ending up in a heap of tears wanting to go home to my quiet little cabin. so when i settled down for a much-needed nap after setting up my tent and was immediately present to the thump!thump! of disco music from a nearby camp, i began to worry. "oh shit," i thought, "here we go." however, the immediate realization that i'd better change my attitude popped in… if i was going to let this get to me, i was looking at the prospect of a 5-day-long bad mood. that was not what i wanted. so, i took a deep breath, said to myself, "bring on the music, the dust and whatever else you have for me!" and chose to trust in whatever the experience brought me. whether, in the words of Rumi's poem "the guest house," it was "a joy, a depression, a meanness" or "a crowd of sorrows,"  i chose,  to "meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in." after that, i had a great nap and didn't need to use my earplugs once during my entire stay.

IMG_5959ultimately, what moved me the most were the experiences and encounters i had with other people at our camp and out on the playa. i was blessed to make some wonderful connections with the people who stopped in for our "open listening" time in the afternoons. they'd wander in after being caught by our "listen" banner and reading our guidelines, then grab some green beads to be "listeners" and usually end up in deep conversations with one of us or someone else who dropped in. many times they ended up switching to the gold beads for "sharers" and having some really cathartic experiences. bonds were made and deepened. opportunities to hold space for peoples' tears, anger and laughter were plentiful. and i got in at least two really delicious naps. there were also beautifully intimate conversations with my campmates each evening after sunset at our "check in" time. we did clearings, shared what we love about life, did a laughing/crying/silent meditation, and had a puppy pile slumber party. it was wonderful to know, with every fibre of my being, i could trust them completely with my most intimate thoughts and feelings, regardless of what they were.

 

the trust which deepened and grew at camp went with me as i ventured out on the Playa encountering inspiring people like Manuel, a young man i met at the Man Burn, whose enthusiasm and joy were simply irresistible. he was so alive and vibrant, yet there was something in him that belied an unspoken depth. so i asked him my favorite question, "What do you want to be acknowledged for?" it took him by surprise but he immediately got vulnerable and answered, "for being happy even though I've seen a lot of shit." in that moment, i felt like the most privileged woman in the world having been let into the heart and soul of this young man whose story i could only begin to imagine. i looked him square in the eyes, held his hands in mine and said, "Thank you for choosing joy even though you've seen and experienced so much… thank you for being courageous enough to keep BEing Love and for trusting that we are all One." i don't honestly remember exactly what we said after that, but he burst into tears, gave me the most heartfelt hug, and shared that he's never felt as seen as he did in that moment and that he didn't remember the last time he'd cried in front of someone. we must have stood there embracing for at least ten minutes as waves of tears, laughter and smiles moved through him in that deep recognition of the power of love and connection which crosses all borders, genders and ages. it was so simple and so beautiful… one human soul acknowledging another human soul - this young man allowing himself to be loved and seen, me moved to my core by the beauty in front of me, two souls remembering that they are not separate at all. i will never forget Manuel as long as i live.

"In the Buddha Dharma... there’s a word for the motivation to act for the sake of all beings. It is bodhichitta. It is the intention generated by the bodhisattva, who is the one who knows we are not separate from each other, but are held, as Martin Luther King put it, in 'an inescapable network of mutuality.'… To step aside from our usual identity and speak for another life form, or for a person of the future, immediately opens up the horizons of our self-interest. Care for the welfare of even distant others then feels natural, strong, and so obvious it’s easy. So, when by our moral imagination we make future generations present to our minds, they teach us bodhichitta, strengthening us to act for the ongoingness of life on Earth." - Joanna Macy

after the Man Burn, i made my first solo venture on the Playa to make my way to the temple. although i'd spent my first three and a half days near camp or in the city (except for a wonderful bike ride to "Deep Playa" with my friend Owen - which was a delight in itself, since i hadn't seen him in years and we had some catching up to do), i felt utterly safe, completely confident in my ability to find the Temple (even though it was dark, windy and dusty) and profoundly peaceful. after a bit of a detour, i began to walk the promenade leading to the Temple. shortly after that, the wind became a white-out in which i could see nothing further than my outstretched arm. it was actually exhilarating to surrender to my intuition in that way, trusting that if i kept walking and trusting my feet, they would get me where i was going. and they did. the temple was stunningly beautiful that night and i'm so glad i went.

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there was the opportunity at dawn on sunday morning to sit with a beautiful young man as he knelt on the ground of the temple, weeping into his hands. what touched my heart more than anything was the innate trust he had in his own ability to move through where he was in that moment to the other side. i didn't need to know his story, nor did i ask. there was simply the beautiful gift of being able to witness him, love him and wish him well when we shared an embrace twenty minutes later. he was such a beautiful example of what it is to trust our innate ability to heal ourselves.

the funny thing is, i hardly wrote a word while i was there, but the only entry from my journal seems to sum it all up:

healing is not about turning our lives over to someone else to do it for us. it's about reconnecting to, re-membering our own innate, perfect and complete capacity to heal ourselves. it's about getting out of our own ways enough to let our Divinity - our Divine Birthright to Creating - which allows us to be active participants/creators of our own healing. consider that, if nothing is broken and if nothing needs to be fixed, the only thing to do is Affirm Wholeness. 

so, keep receiving - let yourself be held, loved and touched. let yourself be filled up with the love of "others" - the love you share with them. you don't actually have to ask for it. in your giving, you are opening the door for receiving… let yourself give fully and completely, and watch what happens. the basis/premise of this place is founded on the principles of your life… this can be translated - and you must also live in the "real" world when you return…. There is nothing that cannot be healed with the strong intention and utter belief/knowing/faith that wholeness is affirmed.

that's what i trust. that and that we are doing what needs to be done.

what do you trust?

Being Trusting

Family Times: Learning and Leaning into Trust My sister and favorite person in the world invited me on a road trip this fall and I now find myself right in the middle of it and having a ball- not unexpected at all. The trip is basically a big circle of the upper midwest to northeast to visit several graduate schools that my sister is looking to attend for a masters in Arts Administration. If you knew anything about my sister, you would know that she is the kind of person you would want on pretty much ANY important project, event, or endeavor. She is cool under pressure, extremely methodical, organized in a way that is accessible to others (her systems are rooted in common sense), and she is firm but kind when it comes to explaining and implementing her ideas. So naturally, that when I heard she was considering grad school, I was ecstatic and immediately had no doubt in my mind that she would find a great program and succeed. Yes, I am a very proud big sister.

In between school scoping, we took some nostalgic detours including a expedition to Bear Mountain State Park (in New York state)- a favorite childhood day trip for sledding, skating, walking on the frozen lake, swimming, fishing, and picnicking. My sister and I remember her getting lost there as a little girl and finding her way back to the picnic area w/the assistance of a friendly park ranger; she was resourceful and smart even as a little child. The park was beautiful-- the beginning of autumn was slightly showing itself in small clusters of colored leaves here and there, treasures to be captured by the eye, in the park and a delightful cool dampness in the air after a hard rain that seemed to announce summer was giving way- a familiar but ancient kinesthetic sensation to us having lived in places with 2 seasons the past 10-20 years.We began our trip by meeting in Chicago to take in the beauty and blues and to celebrate her 30th birthday- it was super fun and we found that we didn't even want to leave. A couple days later we drove to Bloomington to check out Indiana University (A “big ten” school). We moved on to Ohio, and the University of Akron and rounded off the school tour in Winston-Salem to explore University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA). The purpose of visiting these schools in-person was not only to meet some of the faculty and students and to check out the grounds and the feel of the school but also to feel out the towns they were nestled in to determine if they were areas she could see herself being comfortable living and working in. So along with touring each campus we also drove around the downtown areas, went out on the town in the evenings, chatted with the locals, and scoped out the local art and theater scene.

We also visited my sister's friend in Brooklyn and I was reminded of my sister's “New Yorker” origins as her gruff but playful attitude toward drivers and the hustle and bustle of pedestrian, bicycle, and auto traffic proved a constant surprise that kept me on the edge of my seat like watching an action-packed film. This is real life in New York. While in Brooklyn one evening, I reconnected with my first best friend in elementary, Dagna, whom I realized I hadn't seen in 24 years! It was amazing to reconnect and also to get how much of an impression we can make on each other even at such a young age. Dagna and I were 7 when I left Manhattan with my family. I was embarrassed to discover that she thought about me for years afterwards when I had moved on so quickly. My siblings and I attended 13 different schools by the time we graduated high school. We learned to adapt, accept change, make new friends and allies quickly, and not to mourn but to forget the friends we left behind because that is all we could do to move on....

There were many other adventures including our short dip into the National Mall and a few of its more famous and intriguing memorials and museums: the Lincoln Memorial, the Botanical and Sculpture Gardens, and my favorite DC memory from childhood ever: the National Air and Space Museum. We deemed this our “speedy DC” trip, walked fast, gazed mystically, and laughed heartily at the nearly head spinning pace with which we were taking in such a large, and densely academic historical landmark.

My sister and I love each other enormously and, probably because we trust each other so much, we often clash and end up having at least a fight or two as we get accustomed to being in each others worlds again after years apart. During this trip, we have had many opportunities to regain trust and love for each other. Our family has been through some really tough times together. Being together, although often awesome, also usually entails some form of healing and regaining of trust. This commonly occurs through how we communicate with each other and ourselves as wounds come up to be healed and lack of trust is revealed in our actions, attitudes, or words. I'll give you an example. Being the elder sister, I often not only want to but also feel it is my obligation to take care of her, my younger sister. However, after years of me often imposing this care on her whether she wanted it or not (my way of showing I care), she has naturally developed a tendency not to trust me to know that she can take care of herself. And so, the healing of that trust entails me being more hands-off with her when we are together. It takes me taking a breath and noticing when I am acting from that motivation wanting to prove my love by doing things to “take care” of her. It means doing the work of reminding myself of how awesome it is to have a sister who is so self-reliant. For her, I imagine the journey of regaining trust with me is also to be aware and remember that I really do know she can take care of herself and then to choose to trust that I will treat her like an self-reliant adult most of time even when I don't- and speaking up when she needs to. It's up to me to listen when she speaks up and respect her request. When I can get to this place, it can be quite freeing because all there is to do is enjoy her company and not have to worry about whether or not I am being a “good sister”. She feels empowered and we both enjoy ourselves and being around each other the more for it.

When this wound of lack of trust comes up, our conversation might look something like this:

Sister: scowling with her arms crossed in the passenger seat

Me: How ya doing over there?

Sister: Fine. I don't want to talk about it.!

Me: All right, I understand that. Can you tell me what you don't want to talk about so that I can try to steer clear of those topics when we are in a conversation?

Sister: Why do you we have to keep having this conversation? Why do you always have to make such a big deal/thing about it when I don't want to talk about stuff? It's so frustrating.

Me: Okay, I'm just trying to support you in the way I know how. But if you don't want my help then fine, keep doing what you're doing because I can see it's really working for you and you seem really happy (passive aggressive sarcasm).

Does this scenario sound familiar? Perhaps some of you parents go through this same game of trust. It can be so difficult but SO rich to be with and then see our way through these dynamics and conflicts.

Being Game - Trusting

For most of us, wounds (issues we haven't quite gotten over and are still working with/on) can often come up when spending chunks of time with the family members we don't often spend time with. At least, this is the case when it comes to me and mine. For most of us, our families are our relationships of origin that contain the people we've learned the game of trust with and from. For some, we learned how not to trust as we grew up. For others, we've learned how to trust ourselves and then how to trust others. Many of us learned to trust our parents first. And some of us even got the lesson on how to regain/rebuild trust. Many of us learned all of those lessons and more with and from the families we grew up with. What I've learned about trust is that it can always be regained (either within myself or with another) if I am willing to be open minded and communicate. Here's how I do it:

  1. I look at the situation/relationship in which I've either lost trust or experience a loss of trust. I determine what I've learned in the process of this interaction w/out making up anything that demonizes or diminishes myself or the other person the process.
  2. I take a hard look at what I may be assuming about myself and others. In the example with my sister, I assumed that she needed a certain kind of care to feel loved and that I would not be a good sister if I didn't try to take care of her in certain ways. Where did those assumptions come from? For the most part, I made them up based on a few isolated past experiences and then started collecting evidence to prove to myself and probably my sister that those assumptions were true. In truth however, I mostly made those assumptions up!
  3. Next, I lean into the discomfort of what it would look like through my actions, speech, and attitude to trust myself and the other person/situation. In the example with my sister, it simply looked like being accepting of who she really was as well as myself, releasing the need to control our relationship or being attached to it looking any certain way, and the being present with whatever occurred between us when we were together.
  4. This may result in some direct communication with my sister in the form of an apology.For example, I might say something like: “Hey, I realize I've been making up that you need to be taken care of in a certain way in order to know that I love you. I realize this has not actually been what you want and I apologize for this and for the frustration I may have caused in acting from this assumption. I'm not committed to treating you in a way that leaves you feeling unseen or respected. You can count on me to remember that you are perfectly capable of taking care of yourself and that you will reach out to me if you need help. Do you have any requests of me?”
  5. Going forward, I continue to pay attention and notice what my thoughts, speech, and actions are when I'm experiencing a lack of trust with myself or others. In the case with my sister, I continue to do this and it gets easier to do as I begin to see that it works- which it does so well!
  6. Finally, and most importantly, I stay with the experience without acting out and allow myself the space to go through numbers 1- 3 on this list as many times as I need to before I decide to take an action or say something to restore the trust.
  7. Meanwhile, I remind myself to be patient and kind to myself throughout this process remembering that (especially in family dynamics) it took me a long time to learn not to trust myself and others so it's probably going to take some time to reconnect and restore love and trust.

 

So, here's how the new conversation with the sisters might go:

 

Sister: sulking in the passenger seat with her arms crossed

Me: how're you doing over there?

Sister: Fine. Just really don't want to talk about it.

Me: Okay. I understand you don't want to talk about it. What do you need right now?

Sister: Nothing. I just need for us not to talk right now at all.

Me: Okay. No problem. I've got some work to do anyway and you know I'm here if you need me. I'm going to turn the radio on, okay?

Sister: Yeah. Can you tune it to NPR? Thanks. Smiles.

Me: I smile.

 

How do you deal with trust in your family dynamic? What are you learning about yourself and others? What ways of communicating are working for you and what ways aren't? I couldn't imagine a better person to learn these lessons with than my sister. Who in your family is your greatest teacher? Have you considered thanking them for all they've helped you learn about yourself and how to relate to others?

 

Ella and Yeb in Brooklyn

 

Trust and Death

Trust has more to do with giving up the illusioni've been thinking about death a lot lately. i'm not sure why, really. maybe it's because my mom's 73rd birthday would have been August 21st and that always brings up memories of her death as well as her life. i did, however, recently listen to a very moving episode of Radiolab (a radio show i highly recommend) called "The Bitter End" which was all about how we want to die - the quality of our death - and, ultimately, how many of us are deeply uncomfortable with even talking about it. and the truth is, everything dies. It will happen… to all of us, to everything around us. even seemingly eternal objects like mountains and skyscrapers, our planet, the sun… will eventually die. (i highly recommend reading The World Without Us if you want to learn more about this fascinating topic.) you may think i'm being morbid by bringing this up, but it's absolutely timely for this month's theme of Trust. i mean, isn't the ultimate moment of Trust when we take our last breath on this earth, stepping into the new frontier which lies beyond this life?

it's generally accepted in our culture that we're being morbid when we talk about death, but morbidity actually has nothing to do with death. the dictionary defines morbid as "psychologically unhealthy; susceptible to or characterized by preoccupation with unwholesome matters." so, really, death has nothing to do with being morbid or unwholesome; in fact, being with it and trusting the eventual end of life as we know it - however it comes - is perhaps the most wholesome thing we can do. what i think is that we're just really, really uncomfortable with it.

as i've been sitting with this whole conversation, i've come to realize that most of us walk around with a massive amount of discomfort almost all of the time, whether we're aware of it or not. during a recent meditation, i had an experience in which i got to see the immense amount of discomfort i create for myself on a daily, hourly, even minute-to-minute basis. i saw in minute detail all the ways in which i keep myself separate from others and out of the present moment by planning and worrying ("praying for disaster," as our friend Batul Trueheart calls it), regretting, wondering about different outcomes, over and over in a seemingly endless cycle. as i was witnessing this in myself, i realized that all of my discomfort stems from believing the illusion that i am separate from everyone and in doing all the things i do to prove that to myself. and that is utterly exhausting. no wonder i spent most of my life until recently chanting, "i'm tired." i was!

in noticing that i created all of these machinations in service to the ego and its attachment to fear, separation and judgment, i began to notice that doing anything other than being fully present in this moment right here, and this moment, and this one, was just my story. there truly is nothing to do, nowhere to get to and nothing to fix. it's kind of like being with death, which is always with us whether we like it or not. being with death, with someone who is dying, is the most powerful experience i've ever had in being fully present to the Now Moment. there was nowhere to go, nothing to do other than be with the one who was dying and trust the process.

you may also be asking, what does death have to do with getting that you matter? i say, it has everything to do with it. getting that you matter is about living your life to its fullest while you're here… remembering how amazing you are, that you have an impact on the world around you, bringing your dreams to light and making the greatest contributions to the world you possibly can - regardless of what they are. but consider that most of us believe we're far more "comfortable" not doing that. it can be really scary to look - really look - at our impact and all the ways it manifests… in our relationships to ourselves and others, in how we treat the planet with our everyday choices and actions, in our willingness to set aside our own wants for the good of the whole. it feels uncomfortable to grow! but consider that in trusting that we're going to grow, stretch and die whether we want to or not lies our freedom.

if, indeed, the only thing that is real is Love, then anything else is an illusion we create to keep ourselves from being responsible for the fact that we are the creators of our lives as they are in every moment. wrapping our minds around that fact can be very uncomfortable, especially if we've given ourselves experiences which we judge as unhappy, separate or unfulfilling. so the question is, can we just be with the discomfort of all the stories we tell ourselves of anything other than Love, bear witness to them, and then let them go? can we trust Life that much?

Trust has more to do with giving up the illusion

perhaps Trust has more to do with giving up the illusion that we're separate and stepping fully into taking responsibility for the fact that we are part of the whole. if it's all inseparable, how can we love and care for ourselves and love and care for the Whole at the same time, remembering that caring for the whole is caring for ourselves and visa versa? perhaps trusting that there is no separation gives us a great opportunity to remember that every thought, word and deed has an indelible impact on everything around us. perhaps humanity's finest hour lies in our trusting that we get to remember who we really are, give up our illusions of separation, and love and be loved regardless of what we've done. if we can do that, perhaps we can even trust that Oneness is all there is.

Being Transparent

With That Moon Language

Admit something:

Everyone you see, you say to them, "Love me."

Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.

Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect.

Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye

that is always saying,

with that sweet moon language,

what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?

~Hafiz

 

Being Tranparent Game

This month our wonderful team is taking on Being Transparent. What if we always said what there was to say: about ourselves, what we thought about the world around us, or each other.  What if we took responsibilty for our part in what we thought and believed about ourselves, the world around us, and others?  What if instead of avoiding truths- whether difficult to share or not- we spoke bravely?What if we were all whistle-blowers on our egoic mechanisms and we spoke up when we were feeling separate, guilty, or sad?  What if we gave up those stories of not being good enough or believing, thinking, acting, and speaking that another was not either?  What if we outed ourselves every time we created a disempowering story about ourselves or any body else?

 

Consider that when one person tells the truth about what is going on in their heads (what they are not saying), it gives others the courage to do the same. It may just give us all a chance to be just a little bit more present and real with one another.  Every time we blow the whistle on the little lies we tell ourselves about ourselves and others, the truth is dislodged from where we've hidden it and consider this gives us the freedom, if only for a moment, to be ourselves.  Consider being transparent gives us the opportunity to allow others to hold that disempowering belief or thought with us and help us to see that it may not actually be the truth of who we are. Suddenly, who we really are rises closer to the surface and perhaps we are all just a little bit closer to experiencing who we really are and what we are capable of.

 

GTYM has been fortunate enough to work with an incredible company right now called Outer Aisle Foods. Through our Sacred Commerce work with them, we've been witnessing some tremendous examples of the power of the tool of transparency. Consider what seems like the smallest gesture of truth, sharing, for example, that your feeling defensive in the middle of a difficult conversation, could just break down the barriers that created that conflict in the first place.

What if an honest world is one that heals faster, creates more awareness of the abundant blessings we all have access to, and ultimately is more workable in getting things done in the most efficient and often more inspiring way than other approaches to life, work, and and relationships.  Transparency, that is to say, saying what is there is to be said about what is actually going on as a policy, moves mountains, breaks down the highest and thickest of walls between us, and firmly plants common ground for easier co-existence in our daily lives.

 

Transparency isn't always easy.  It's hard to be honest with ourselves about how we feel or think about things especially when we are focused on the fear of how taking the risk of being vulnerable may impact our lives.  However consider that transparency is the great door stopper of the universe- it keeps the doors to our hearts cracked open just enough to let the light of other's hearts in and out and ultimately reveal deeper truths and provide fertile ground for more trust-worthy relationships.  Being transparent about yourself in a situation is like saying to others, "hey, it's okay, I'm human too! It's safe to be human around me. Let's work on finding a solution now that we've gotten that fearful thinking out of the way."  Transparency about others or a situation when it is delivered in a responsible way (using "I" statements and keeping our sharing to our experience) is one of the bravest acts one can take.

 

 

What about you?  We invite you to try it out.  What are you not saying and how might saying it have you experience more freedom to be you?

 

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!

 

 

What About My Heart?

 
I said: what about my eyes?
God said: Keep them on the road.
God said: Keep it burning.I said: what about my passion?
I said: what about my heart?
God said: Tell me what you hold inside it.
I said: pain and sorrow.
He said: stay with it.
The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
-Rumi 

 

 

I woke up at 4:30 this morning, not with my semi-usual semi-anxiety, but with a sense of deep loss, as if someone near and dear to me had died. I didn't feel sad… just somewhat empty and curious. It wasn't "bad." I was simply aware that there was an experience arising in me that I hadn't felt for a long time. For a few minutes, I couldn't put my finger on what it was exactly. But then I realized I was touching - almost as if for the first time yet very ancient and familiar, and very tentatively - an underground lake of grief that has always lived inside of me. It was a grief for fallen trees, for innocent children dying every day, for enslaved women, for extinct and endangered species, for young black men arrested simply for being who they are, for the pillaged earth, for a species so lost we don't remember who we are. It felt familiar and yet so buried that I had forgotten it, like a letter to my future self from years ago, saying, "Remember me? I'm still here."~ Rumi

My question is - do you feel this same lake of grief inside of you, too?

When you hear about about another ancient tree that has fallen, another of our earthly companions who has stopped walking the planet forever, or another mountaintop that's been blown to bits, do you feel that deep, aching emptiness? When you read about millions of bees dying off and children born sick, do you see a connection? When teens, college students or little children are gunned down in their classrooms, do you wonder what we're waiting for? When a father in a small Sierra town kills his two teenage children, the family dog and then himself, do you ask yourself if he himself was deeply lost? When you hear about a young woman in India who dies from being gang raped or the Amazon rainforest being destroyed at a catastrophic rate, do you see the correlation in how we treat women and how we treat our earth, Pachamama?

What do you mourn? How do we live with all this grief? How do we cope with the massive amount of bad news that is out there on a daily basis? How do we keep hope alive?

I'm sure there are many more people who feel it than I am aware of, but I wonder how many of us divert our attention from it in the name of carrying on and getting through our days? We all have mechanisms for dealing with the grief and bad news… denial, avoidance, numbing out. There are a multitude of ways to keep it at bay. But that's the problem. We just keep it at bay. That lake of grief is always there. In the end, it is unavoidable… and the only way to deal with it is to be with it. In other words, we have to feel it to heal it.

Because, as we know, our personal and global attempts to avoid being with it have actually become the very causes of what continue to feed the grief… addiction, eating disorders, bullying, sexual harassment, fracking, a vortex of plastic as large as the state of Texas floating in the Pacific ocean, corporate greed, political power-mongering, a war that costs $720 million a day, racial profiling, the massive rift between the "haves" and "have nots," and ultimately, murder, suicide and extinction. Sadly, the list goes on and on.

The more I think about it, I am cognizant of how this ever-present grief affects me in every way. It influences my choices when I shop. It drives me to write articles like this. It guides me to continue to question my impact on the planet and how I can reduce it even more. It fires up my righteous anger and motivates me to speak, write and take action. But ultimately, it makes me remember how very much I love this world and everything and everyone on it.

I just listened to the "Animal Sacrifice" episode of This American Life2 about the story of the thousands of "Dogs for Defense" who served and died in World War Two. The story touched my heart so deeply because these loyal, innocent beings - mankind's oldest friend - had no idea what they were getting into. They went into service with the joy only dogs can bring to any situation. There was even an elite group of "Bunker Dogs," outfitted with saddlebags filled with explosives, who were trained to be suicide bombers. The narrator said, "Without knowing what the war was for, the dogs had done what they'd been asked to do... because that's the nature of the bond we have with dogs. We take care of them and ask them to trust us… and they do." That's when I broke down.

I was so stunned, I just kept asking myself, what have we done? What are we doing? What more are we are capable of? What choices are we making, all from this place of forgetting that who we are is Love?

I believe we must choose to allow ourselves to feel the grief at how deeply we do not understand what we have done and what we continue to do.  In response to the murder/suicide in our community earlier this month, Merita Callaway (one of our county supervisors and a neighbor of the family) said, “…We do not understand and hope that time brings some peace.”3 I, too, do not understand and trust that time will bring some peace. But I also know that it will take more than time to bring peace. It will take the intention to make different choices… to reach out when we would rather stay focused on ourselves, to use less when our habit is to consume without thinking, to write letters even if it means getting up earlier or staying up later, to do what is not comfortable because, ultimately, that is the only choice that will ensure peace. Our addiction to comfort has lulled us to sleep. But we can no longer afford not to wake up.

We have been making choices from a place of not seeing the forest for the trees, so to speak - out of the illusion that our comfort is more real and easier to achieve than the greater good of the whole. We all do it. However, if we truly love the only home we have and all of its inhabitants, if we truly love each other and ourselves, we will choose to get uncomfortable.

Megan Hollingsworth, founder of ExtinctionWitness, is someone who is a living example of a commitment to getting uncomfortable enough to live from love. She allows herself to feel her grief - all of it - deeply and fully, and she comes out the other side empowered and more committed to being of service in the world. I am deeply moved by her capacity for compassion and ability to be with this deep grief by truly allowing herself to experience the incalculable pain of the world. Megan is doing some of the most important work on the planet - reminding us that, in order to shift the vast amount of unconscious damage we have done to the planet and each other, we must allow ourselves to feel our grief about the violence, ignorance, greed and inhumanity or our thoughts, words and deeds. Again, we must feel it to heal it.

As my friend Alex wrote in a most touching and memorable post on facebook:  "I heard a story on the radio about a refugee camp near Kabul, Afghanistan…. A girl my son's age died in the night from the cold. Many others are suffering the same fate…. I got off work a little early today, and laid in the afternoon sun that spills into our home. I had a nice snack, and now will go pick up my son from day care. I'm warm and satisfied, surrounded by love and abundance…. I am blessed beyond what I deserve, and I don't understand suffering. If I could give up one blanket, one meal, one set of clothes, one tank of gas, any of these comforts I take for granted, so that another child like that can live, I would. I think any of us would. I wish it were that simple. Maybe it is."

I believe our grief at what is happening in the world - whether we're aware of it or not - is actually the evidence of how very much we love this world of ours. It's not our anger and fear that source this lake - it's love. We do what we've done simply because we've forgotten that what we really are is Love. That forgetting has consequences far beyond our understanding.

So, as Rumi so wisely wrote hundreds of years ago, "stay with it… the wound is the place where the Light enters you."

 

 

There is a light- a light that guides you through the storms.

There is a place- a place of healing and calm.

There is a peace- a peace that lives beneath the waves.

Beneath the sorrow and the joy, there is a stillness and grace.

Beauty is like rain, falling from the skies.

It is God's love that's pouring from your eyes.

The wounds of life, they bring healing my friend.

The heart that breaks is but opening again.

The heart that breaks is but opening again.

- "There is a light" by John Astin

Resources:

  1. Rumi poem
  2. Union Democrat, "Three Dead in Murder-Suicide," February 4, 2013
  3. This American Life, episode #
  4. John Astin, "There is a Light," Remembrance

Lighting up the world with points of light

Recently I was in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada leading a Sacred Commerce workshop with my wonderful GTYM teammate and Vice President, Yebuny Johnson. We had just completed our two-day workshop and were out at a wonderful restaurant called Noorish to celebrate with some of the folks who had attended as well as other community members. This very special restaurant, founded by our wonderful friends Sheniz and Ayaaz Kasaam only a little over a year ago, has become a community hub filled with a joy and vibrancy I've rarely seen, except for Cafe Gratitude and a few other "conscious eateries." Not only does Noorish provide organic, locally-produced healthy vegan food in a gorgeous, joyful atmosphere, but there is also a beautiful yoga studio downstairs where they offer daily classes as well as regular events such as lectures and music.

The snowy night we were there happened to be the same night that our friend, Sparrow Grace, was performing kirtan downstairs. Everyone in our group decided to go down to enjoy the music while we waited for our food to arrive. We walked quietly downstairs, took off our shoes, and stepped into one of the sweetest spaces I've ever been in. There must have been about forty people, mostly sitting, some standing in the back of the room, swaying or dancing, all in a joyful state of prayer. I found myself standing next to a young man I hadn't seen since our last visit to Edmonton and we just stood arm-in-arm letting the music wash over us, smiling and swaying.

Then, as Sparrow Grace sang one of her own songs, I  began to experience something I can only explain as "Divine Reassurance."

I saw and felt that this little spot on the map - this restaurant/yoga studio - was a sanctuary, a "point of light," if you will, which was a hub for the seeding and growth of our global conscious awakening. I "zoomed out" and it felt as if I had seen light emanating from the building as if it were a beacon bursting with an invitation to come join in the festivities. Besides that, every person in the place was "beaming" light and the earth upon which the building sat was glowing. I saw the glow from the earth as a strong "thread" of light originating in the very core of the planet that was supporting and co-creating the light with the intentions of the place and people who were there.

I was completely overwhelmed with tears of joy as I had an experience of deep understanding that this was just one moment, one place among many - among millions - that is bearing witness to the shift taking place in us and on the earth. It is one part of a global movement towards a social, environmental and spiritual awakening for all of us, whether we are aware of it or not... and this is just the beginning.

 

As I stood there opening myself to this understanding, I zoomed out again and saw the earth as if from space with all of these millions of points of light shining all around the globe. There were hundreds lighting up every minute. Then they began to intersect and connect in what I saw was a weaving of the most beautiful web of light I had ever seen, a web of consciousness all around and connected to the earth as each light connected with those nearby on the surface of the earth as well as on the most microscopic level at the very core of the earth.

In that moment I knew - without a shred of doubt - that all is well. I knew that Hope is alive and thriving, and that everything I have worked for and given up to support has been a part of this awakening. I knew, too, that there would not be some apocalyptic end to life as we know it, but rather that there would be a transition, an almost imperceptible shift that is born from the movement of millions of us who are waking up and building something. That something is a bridge of light - from the old, unworkable world to a new, mysterious world that works for all - and we are building it as we walk, run and dance across it.

This movement has been growing for decades with increasing velocity and urgency, and it is rippling throughout the world, inviting all of us to join in and co-create it. As Paul Hawken writes in his sobering yet inspiring book, Blessed Unrest, the movement "is dispersed, inchoate, and fiercely independent…. One of its distinctive features is that it is tentatively emerging as a global humanitarian movement arising from the bottom up…. This is the largest social movement in all of human history… coherent, organic, self-organized congregations involving tens of millions of people dedicated to change."1

I used to feel disappointed and frustrated that we haven't made enough progress or that we haven't come together in a unified global movement, but what I realize is that we've just been priming the pump for this more powerful time of a deep, true, organic and lasting shift. We are up against the wall of our own miscreations, and now is the time for us to prove we are much more than the consequences of our actions as we act locally and intend globally.

The beautiful thing is, everything we have done has led us to exactly where we are today - on a personal and global level.

It is no wonder we are, at this time of transformation, waking up in every way. When we remember that we are part of "Life's longing for itself"2 - the creative force that governs everything, it is simply too great to deny. When we wake up to the fact that we are part of life, not separate from it or claiming dominion over it, we realize that we are here for much more than ourselves. We are stepping into something vastly greater than anything we could wish for personally and the rewards are far greater than anything we can imagine.

I agree wholeheartedly with Paul Hawken when he said in his talk at Bioneers October, 2012 event, "These are not goals we can achieve in an lifetime. These are goals that create a lifetime. This is who you are…. We do this for those who will pay the price if we fail, and we do it for those who will carry this incalculable hardship if we waiver, and for those who are watching and wondering if we will choose more stuff or more life…."3

We have no guarantees. We are building the bridge as we go. But we have no other choice. Again, in Paul Hawken's words, "We do what cannot be done because it's the only way to learn how to do what cannot be done."4

So, I ask you… are you waking up? Are you ready? Are you up for this?

If so, who are you waking up for? Whose future rests in your decisions - from the grand (starting a movement with no evidence for success) to the mundane (switching from packaged foods to whole foods)?

Who is counting on you? And what will your part be in building this bridge?

 

 

1. Paul Hawken, Blessed Unrest

2. Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

3. Paul Hawken, Bioneers October, 2012

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… 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!)