Sunday, December 25, 2011

Giants Among Us

Am I blogging on Christmas? Why yes, yes I am. Because today is Christmas, I thought I would take this time to talk about Jesus. Maybe it’s because I’m Jewish, but to me, Jesus seems like a mythical figure on the order of Zeus or Apollo. He lived so long ago that sometimes I take for granted he actually existed. He was born, he bled, he defecated. Jesus was a human being. Yes, an amazing human being, but he still existed, was still blood and bones the same as you and I. And that is pretty astounding to me. What I also found out today courtesy of one of my facebook friends, is Sir Isaac Newton was also born today. Newton wasn’t Jesus, but he was still a pretty remarkable guy.

This all probably seems very random, but it’s related because I am inspired by these people. People who were alive, people who cried, people who got angry. When I hear about folks like Jesus or Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein or Martin Luther King Jr. I somehow put them above me. I think to myself, “Those were amazing human beings but I could never do anything like they did. I could never accomplish what they did. I’m just a girl from Kansas (which coincidentally is the title of my book).” I somehow don’t believe they felt the things I felt or struggled the way I struggled. Even when I read about the person’s challenges, in my mind it might as well be fiction because I’m so far removed. So today I’m reminded they are just like me. And in reality, why couldn’t you or I do world-changing things? What separates you and I from Newton, Einstein, MLK, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, or any of the other greats we read about? Nothing. They were people just like us. They had fears and failures just like us.

Today I feel on a very core level there is no separation from me and someone like Jesus or Newton or MLK. We all come from the same source. We’re all made of the same material. We all feel things. Any of the great people we read about could have just as easily said, “You know, I’m pretty tired, I think I’ll sit this out and let someone else do it.” The beautiful thing about all these people is they didn’t. They decided to push through their fears, to keep going, to not let the challenges stand in their way. They show us we too have the capacity for greatness. We too can do amazing, inspiring, uplifting things. We too have the potential to go down in the history books.

I dream of a world where we all know no person – alive or dead – is superior or inferior to us. A world where we understand nothing sets us apart from great people other than choice. A world where we pay attention to what we really love and then go do it. A world where we honor the giants among us while also knowing we are one of the giants too.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In Due Time

Oh my gosh. My heart is so full. This week I'm reminded "all things in due time." Many of you know this already because I've been posting about it on facebook, but I'm going to Italy in March! Going to Italy in and of itself is amazing, but this trip is even more so because of the confluence of events that brought it all together.

In 2005 I studied abroad in London and had a pretty horrible time. I won't go into it too much except to say the program I was with wasn't a good fit and I didn't like how a lot of things were handled. One of the biggest drawbacks was they penalized people for traveling. If you missed class you were required to write a paper. I traveled during my breaks and on a few long weekends but I didn't get to see as much as I wanted. Riding the tube one day I heard some tourists speaking Italian and in that moment I felt an ache in my chest to visit that country. Anytime someone said they were going to Italy, or had been to Italy, or just came back from Italy, my response was, "Awww. I wanna go to Italy so badly!"

I wasn't even sure why I wanted to go except that I did. I understood a little better after I went to Bruges, the "Venice of the North." While there I walked into a cathedral and saw Michelangelo's "Madonna and Child," which moved me to tears. I had no idea sculpture could do that. Could really be art. Most of the sculptures I saw were nice and all but none of them created an emotional response. I was so moved I decided I wanted to go to Florence to see more of Michelangelo's work but had no idea when it would happen.

This past week my boss asked me if I wanted to go to Vienna to cover a conference and my initial response was no because I am so tired. (I am really tired.) My friends suggested I take a week off afterward to travel around but even that didn't sound appealing because I hate traveling by myself. I wish I loved being independent and traveling solo but I don't. So I asked a friend who is teaching in France if she would be around/available and she said, actually she had vacation at that exact time! So within a week I booked my plane ticket and now I'm going to Italy. And my company is paying for the airfare. I feel extremely blessed and extremely graced. I am so touched by all of this because going to Italy has been an intense longing of mine for nearly seven years and now it's a reality.

My good friend has a quote: "Dreams may fade from view, dreams may be torn and bruised, but dreams never die." You know? They never do. So when they come true there is something really magical about it. It also makes me think my other dreams may come true. Maybe not in the way I wanted but they do indeed come true. So all I can say is to keep wishing, to keep hoping, to keep trying, and to seize the opportunity when it comes along.

I dream of a world where we believe our dreams really will come true. A world where we hold onto our end goal and not so much the "how" of it. A world where we know eventually we will be graced with our heart's desire. A world where we allow ourselves to know no dream is too out of reach. It may just take a while.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Letting Myself Be Judged

Sometimes I’m scared to tell people things because I think they’ll judge me. I’m afraid they’ll think I’m weird or crazy or whatever. I know I’ve written about judgment before, but usually it’s been about preconceived notions. This week I’ve been dealing with the fallout of feeling judged, sitting with the discomfort of having someone else judge me and what I’m doing. I’m not going to lie, it was uncomfortable. I wanted to denigrate myself and somehow get on their side, show them I knew how silly I was being. I didn’t want to squirm in the spotlight and was looking to get out from under the microscope as soon as possible.

When I talked to a friend of mine about it he said, “Whenever somebody judges you it’s about them. It’s their issue.” I realized he’s right. If somebody is bothered by me or judging me it’s really their own insecurity coming up. Or perhaps I’m highlighting a way of being they would also enjoy. Or perhaps they’re judging me because they’re scared. Whatever it is doesn’t matter because the point is it belongs to them. I am just a vessel. I cannot be anyone other than me, even when it’s uncomfortable.

What this also brings up within me is people pleasing. I want people to like me, so sometimes I start to ingratiate myself to them. Judgment is one of those times. When someone harbors ill will toward me is another. I want to turn myself inside out so they’ll like me again. What I’m learning is that’s not my responsibility. Other people are allowed to judge me. Other people are allowed to dislike me. Other people are allowed to feel whatever they’re feeling toward me, even if it’s an emotion I’d rather they not felt. The very bottom line is I cannot control other people. I want to, a part of me wants to manipulate and say the right things to get someone to like me again, but that is a road I’m choosing not to walk down.

I guess ultimately what this post is about is being authentic no matter the consequences. It’s about being me even when it’s uncomfortable. It’s about allowing myself to be judged and not bending my will to someone else’s. It’s about not feeling afraid someone won’t like me or will think I’m kooky or will never forgive me because of something I said or did. Because that’s their issue. My issue is wanting to change who I am to appease someone else. It’s uncomfortable but I can take it. And I pray other people know they can take it too.

I dream of a world where we live with the uncomfortable feelings without trying to push them away. A world where we let other people judge us because we know it has nothing to do with us. A world where stop trying to please those around us to make ourselves feel better. A world where we let ourselves be who we are and we let others be who they are in the most loving way possible.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Technology is Amazing!

I love technology. I love technology because it makes the impossible possible. I just saw a picture of a spiral galaxy on my screen saver. Years ago people could only conceive of the idea to gaze into far off places and now it’s a reality. I love technology because we’re now experiencing things we saw in movies. Video conferencing a la The Jetsons? Check. Paying for stuff with your phone? Done. Downloading thousands of songs and storing them in one little device? Yep. I LOVE it. This is AMAZING stuff. It reminds me of that video of Louis CK titled “Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy”:



I’m happy Louis! I still marvel at all of it! A friend of mine made a good point the other day: “Do you ever think about how you’re one of the few lucky people who gets to say they flew on an airplane? My great-grandparents didn’t have that privilege.” When he said that to me I had to stop for a minute because it never even occurred to me that would be special. It seems so normal now and that my friends, is amazing.

What I also love about technology is in a weird way I feel like I get to practice aparigraha, the yogic principle of nonindulgence, or using only what you need. What I mean is, with technology I feel like I can cut down on waste. Instead of buying hundreds of books and storing them in my apartment, cutting down trees for the paper, having to pay for shipping costs, etc. I can download it to a device and bing! It’s there. I love print, but now publishers can employ print on demand, which means they only print a book if someone will buy it. Sooo much less wasteful. I love that. Same thing with the iPod. I don’t need fill up boxes with CDs and their cases, now I can plug in my iPod and go to iTunes.

Mostly I love how unencumbered technology makes me feel. I can store my whole life, basically, on a laptop. That’s fantastic! I know we talk about how way back when we lived in simpler times, and that may be true, but these days I have less stuff. No boxes of photo albums. No huge piles of paper.

Technology is one of those things that shows me another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Community Redefined

Right now I'm in Chicago for a work conference and I'm touched by how broad my community is. I feel extremely blessed because it seems wherever I go, I know someone. I'm especially lucky in this trip because my sister recently moved here and my uncle lives not too far out of the city. What I'm noticing though is there seems to be a broader movement around the U.S. to expand our definition of community.

Watching the video below a friend made brought tears to my eyes because at the various occupy movements people are being cared for: #Occupy Bay Area from Abraham Heisler on Vimeo.

The homeless, the mentally ill, everyone is being cared for. Everyone is being given food, a place to sleep, and healthcare. This is community. When we all work to support one another. No more individualistic, survival of the fittest blah di blah. Love, compassion, support. It's being demonstrated among strangers. The definition of "community" is broadening to encompass not only those close to us, but those we don't even know at all.

It's hard for me to describe just how much this touches me. That strangers are taking care of each other not because of a natural disaster or a crisis but just because. Because it's needed. People are handing out food because they want to be of service, they want to help. I'm crying as I write this 1) because I'm super tired and 2) because I've been hoping this day would come and now it has. It is beyond sweet to know other people are watching out for each other. I feel it on a personal level because as I wrote about last week, for many years I felt like I had to take care of myself all by myself. To lean into a community is AMAZING. And to see larger communities developing is also amazing.

I dream of a world where we continue to take care of one another. A world where we support those around us -- including strangers -- to the best of our capacity. A world where we know what we give we also receive. A world where we understand what it means to live in a global community.

Another world is not only possible, it's probable.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

We Are as Safe as We'd Like to Be

This weekend I had a profound experience. For the past month or so I’ve been feeling very unsafe. I’ve felt violated and fearful, waiting for something bad to happen. Waiting for someone to mug me on the street or to break into my apartment. I wouldn’t recommend it, feeling intense fear like that. It’s partly because my sleep has been all kinds of messed up and thus my mind and body are freaking out, turning small anxiety-mole hills into giant fear-mountains. But it’s also because there’s scaffolding outside my apartment building.

The first week it went up one evening a woman sat on the bottom of the scaffolding while her boyfriend took her picture. I stuck my head out the window and said, “Are you almost finished? I’m trying to sleep.” They apologized and moved on but I spent the rest of the night FREAKING OUT, scared someone not-so-friendly would try something similar. In response, I called the police and asked them to patrol my neighborhood in the evenings. My friends and family members tried to convince me I was safe, telling me no one would break into my apartment because they’d have to climb up the scaffolding and then down again with their booty, no easy task.

I didn’t believe them.

So for the past month I’ve been shielding the hell out myself and my apartment. I’ve been praying my face off asking angels to station themselves at my doors and windows. I downloaded Doreen Virtue’s “Protection and Safety” podcast and listened to it every night. And at one point I said I couldn’t take being at my apartment anymore because not only did I have to deal with scaffolding, but a loud neighbor, and I desperately needed some sleep. A friend came to my rescue and offered her place while she was out of town.

Friday night I scampered to her place (also freaking out that I wouldn’t be able to find it in the dark) and spent a blissful night’s sleep in a quiet haven. On Saturday morning the manager of my building called to check in on me because, get this, someone CLIMBED THE SCAFFOLDING AND BROKE MY UPSTAIRS NEIGHBOR’S WINDOW. When I came home to make sure my unit was safe, I found the place untouched, just as I left it. I laughed when I saw everything was fine because it showed me divine protection works. It showed me I really can pray for my safety. I really can ask for protection.

The events of Friday night, when I was away mind you, were like a test and God and the angels passed with flying colors. The robbers had every reason to break into my apartment, it is closer to the ground after all, but they didn’t. They completely bypassed my unit. I don’t think it’s because I’m lucky, I think it’s because I asked for help. I’m safe because I asked for it. Yes, I did my part, I’ve engaged in great self-care, but the events of Friday night showed me I don’t have to do everything. I don’t always have to assert myself and be on the defensive because there are divine beings who are looking out for me.

I didn’t realize how much divine protection meant to me until I typed that sentence because I’m tearing up. For someone who’s felt like she always had to take care of herself, who was constantly waiting to be harmed, who constantly had her guard up in case someone tried something, to know she has divine assistance is incredibly touching. I’m so grateful. For the divine protection and also for my friends who are watching out for me. But I wouldn’t have gotten any of it if I hadn’t asked.

I dream of a world where we ask for safety and protection. A world where we understand there are a ton of beings waiting to help us as soon as we say the word. A world where we know it’s safe to be ourselves and to interact with others. A world where we relax because we know someone else is watching out for us.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Boundaries are a Good Thing

I like to feel safe. I like to walk into a place and feel like I’m protected. I’ve had this idea I can fortify wherever I’m staying and that will be the end of it. Pray a heck of a lot I’ll never be harmed and that’s it. I’ve focused on preventing harm rather than determining what would happen if I ever was. It seemed a lot easier than having to assert myself. However, that means I’ve been discounting how powerful I am. I’ve been discrediting myself thinking I can’t handle certain situations and it’s best just to avoid them altogether.

The universe though, it will force you to face your demons because it’s tricky like that. Since August I’ve had a hell of a time sleeping. It’s been one damn thing after another – construction, new air ventilation systems, more noise, scaffolding outside my window – until finally on Wednesday I couldn’t take it anymore and I called an angel therapist I resonate with. (Yes, ok, angel therapy sounds like new age woo woo but if you think about it, angels have been around forever and wouldn’t you want to talk to them too?) She told me yes, the angels are trying to get me to move, but also my current location is about setting boundaries, which makes sense because even the location acts as a buffer from a sketchy neighborhood.

I had a huge breakthrough this week because I realized it’s not enough for me to avoid situations where I feel unsafe, to never put myself in a situation I find scary, because that presumes bad things are inevitable. That presumes because there’s scaffolding outside my apartment someone will break in and there’s absolutely nothing I can do it. It presumes that someone will try to harm me and them’s the breaks, just deal with it.

I’ve been operating out of a victim mentality and wasn’t even aware of it. I have a part to play in all of this and that part means saying yes or no. If someone climbs on the scaffolding, instead of letting it happen I can say, “Get the $@%# of my scaffolding!” If I’m in a situation where I’m uncomfortable I can speak up and say, “No.” I have a say in what happens in my life, not just the good stuff but the bad stuff too. Because the truth is I can’t prevent bad things from happening. I thought that I could, if I prayed enough, if I was careful enough, if I paid attention to my intuition enough, but the truth is there’s still the possibility of crappy things happening. My part is how I choose to respond. My part is letting the crappy stuff happen or stopping it in its tracks.  These days I’m choosing to assert myself.

What’s funny is I used to think boundaries were a bad thing because, “We should all be free-flowing and loving, do away with boundaries so we can approach the unlimited potential of our being.” That may be the case but also boundaries turn us into receptacles for love. Boundaries also create containers. In this case they create a container for me. Boundaries give myself shape and allow me to take up space as a person. Boundaries are my way of showing up for my life and taking responsibility for what happens to me. Boundaries are a good thing.

I dream of a world where we all stand up for ourselves. A world where we set boundaries so we can allow love to pour into us. A world where we all feel safe no matter what because we recognize we have a part to play in what happens to us. A world where we respect each others’ boundaries and encourage people to assert themselves. A world where we love ourselves and each other.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Flocking Together

This is semi-related but first of all, have you seen this video of a flock of starlings, also called a murmuration? If not, please watch it because it’s awesome in the truest sense of the word. Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

This weekend I had the good fortune of being surrounded by folks who practice the same yoga and meditation I do. We were all close in age with only ten years between the eldest and the youngest. It was a delicious weekend because we had excellent food, but also because it was one of the rare times I was surrounded by a large group of people who I’m very similar too. Sure, I’ve been to tons of yoga and meditation retreats but it’s not as if I’m friends with everyone there like at the gathering this weekend.

I had so much fun this weekend and I bring it up because gatherings like these give me hope for the future. If you’ve been reading AWIP for a while you know I had a rough childhood socially. I had some friends but most of them lived far away. I suffered from a lot of peer rejection and self-defined as the “weird” kid. Not because I ate paste or anything, but because I’m extremely sensitive to energy and cared about things like vegetarianism as an eight-year-old. “Weird” is a title I’ve carried with me for much of my life. Inherent in “weird” is not fitting in or being an outsider. I’ve been shifting my focus away from that because I see how much viewing myself as “weird” has been harmful. This weekend was a prime example because I didn’t feel out of place, I realized it just took me a while to find my flock; as in “Birds of a feather flock together.” For someone who’s felt on the outside for most of her life to finally have a sense of belonging is a thing of beauty.

I know there’s a lot of talk about the necessity of cross pollination, of mixing different classes, races, and mindsets, which I completely agree with, but there’s also something to be said for being with people who get you. People who already have a shared understanding of where you’re coming from so there’s no need to explain things to them. People who love and support you and just want to see you happy. It’s a beautiful and touching thing, that sort of community. So I guess in essence that’s what inspires me most. That someone who constantly defined herself as “different” could find herself around other “different” people. That so much love and support could be given and received. Like those starlings who created new shapes by flying together, when people join in groups, beautiful things can happen. Because ultimately even the “loners” and “freaks” will find others like them. It may just take a while. In essence, no one is as alone as they think they are. And when a bird finds its flock there’s great power in that.

I dream of a world where everyone feels a sense of community and belonging. A world where every person has a support network. A world where no one has to fend for themselves because we are all taking care of each other. A world where we can all live happy, joyous, and free. A world where we can all fly with a flock that fits us.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

We are More Aware Than Ever Before

This afternoon I went to Muir Woods, a national monument filled with redwood trees. During the  walk I remarked to my friend, “The whole California coastline used to look like this.” She and I started talking about how people used to cut down trees like that without a second thought and what we struck is our consciousness has developed so that we are thinking about our actions. We realize if a redwood tree is cut down it won’t grow back to its original size in 10 years. We’re realizing the necessity of preservation. In essence, we’re becoming more conscious not just of the environment but many things.

What I also noticed about Muir Woods is the cafĂ© doesn’t sell bottled water because it creates more waste, uses fossil fuels, and costs more money. Instead they have filtered water stations where patrons can fill up their own bottles. How awesome is that? Bottled water only became popular what? 15 years ago? And we already recognize it’s no longer an environmental practice. Heck, people smoked cigarettes for decades before it finally came out how harmful they are.

Lastly, tonight my friend and I went to the Source, a vegetarian restaurant. This place is so San Francisco. Not only is the water filtered four times, but the air is filtered and deodorized. Plus all of the food is organic. And their drinks include elixirs, or beverages filled with ingredients such as flower essences. References to food infused with “loving energy” abound and let me tell you, it’s not just marketing. Eating their food I practically entered a meditative state. I have never in my life felt so good eating at a restaurant. I know this reads like a Yelp review but mostly I’m excited. I’m inspired because people are talking about this stuff. People understand there’s a difference between tap water and filtered water not just in taste but in how it affects the body. Not only that, they care.

I’m excited because these days are people talking about things I used to get teased for. There are discussions of yoga, meditation, vegetarianism, energy – and it’s not just on the periphery. I’m excited because it seems more and more people are reaching a state where they understand the interconnectedness of everything. We seem to be moving away from the selfish, self-centered mentality to really caring about ourselves and the environment. We’re understanding there are repercussions for our actions and seeming to think things through a bit more. It’s almost like human beings as a species are maturing. I love the care and compassion I’m seeing these days. I love how concepts that used to be strange are becoming more mainstream. I love the shift I’m seeing in the people around me. I’m excited because I see all of this as evidence another world really is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Forgiveness

The message I’ve been getting over and over this week is “Forgiveness.” The interesting thing is when the event happened to me I jumped from feeling sad to trying to let it go. I looked at my part in all of it, but I never felt the anger in between and I think that’s what’s kept me from forgiving. I’ve tried to be “spiritual” and say, “Oh it happened, it’s over now, it doesn’t matter.” But you know, it does matter. I stumbled across an amazing quote this week that emphasizes the point: “Whatever you can feel you can let go of.” Somehow I’ve resisted feeling angry because I didn’t think I had a right to be angry. So the resentment, bitterness, etc. has stuck with me because I never allowed myself to feel all my feelings about it.

This week the universe has very clearly indicated it’s time for me to forgive. If I want to move forward in my life, forgiveness is a must. Here’s the interesting thing about forgiveness – it’s never about the other person, it’s about me. I forgive so that I can move on, so I can let go of the issue. As I’m sure you’ve heard over and over again forgiveness is not saying what the other person did is right, mostly it’s saying “I release you and let it go.”

As much as I want to forgive there’s still a piece of me that wants the other person to apologize first. I want them to say, “I’m sorry, what I did was wrong.” But at this point in my maturation I know the apology isn’t necessary and most likely I’m not going to get it. So all I can do is really feel I’m ready to forgive and then do it. To help with this issue, I turn to my favorite EFT guy Brad Yates:



I forgive so I can create space in my life for something better to move in. I forgive so I can release the bitterness, the resentment, and bring in the love. I forgive because I remember other people are also flawed. I forgive because I’d rather live in love rather than anger or fear.

I dream of a world where we let ourselves feel all our feelings. A world where we know what we feel we can let go of. A world where we forgive ourselves and each other. A world where we know we may have been wronged but we can always move past it.

Another world is not only possible it’s probable.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beliefs Shape Reality

Last week I had the good fortune of attending my brother’s wedding in Puerto Rico (yay weddings!) and while talking to a friend of mine was reminded beliefs shape reality. What I mean is what I believe dictates what happens in my world. This is a very small example but on the flight home yesterday a woman walked down the aisle carrying a Styrofoam cup of soda in addition to her bags. She couldn’t put her bags in the overhead bin and carry her soda at the same time so instead she turned to a man sitting in the aisle seat and said, “Here, can you hold this?” and handed it off to him. What struck me about her interaction with him is she didn’t even question the idea he would hold her soda. Asking him to hold it was a formality because she handed it off to him before he even responded; she assumed he would say yes all along. She believed he would say yes and he did.

What’s interesting to me about beliefs is they seem to come from a different place than thoughts. I don’t know about you, but when I even say the word “belief” I feel something in my heart. It evokes an emotion. When I think something it’s more head-centered. Another interesting thing about beliefs is they leave little room for doubt. There is no wishy-washy-ness. You either believe something or you don’t.

I bring this up because despite my post from a few weeks ago I’ve still been wrestling with feelings of jealousy about someone else’s life. I want an aspect of what she has and somehow I’ve been feeling like it’s unavailable to me. When I spoke to my friend about it she said, “It all comes down to belief. What you believe is mirrored back to you.” When she said that to me I felt such relief because it’s so true. If I believe I will always be taken care of, that money will always come to me, that people will treat me kindly, they will. There is no room for doubt and uncertainty. I have to bring my heart into it, to know it with the fullness of my being.

I think that’s what the whole Abraham Hicks deal is about; really it’s the law of attraction in action. It’s putting the energy of my heart into something. It’s when affirmations start to take root. That’s some pretty powerful stuff.

I bring this up because instead of going through the machinations of how to change my life by following in the footsteps of other people, first and foremost I have to change my beliefs. I have to believe I can make a living doing what I love, I have to believe people will enjoy my book, I have to believe I’ll eventually get married. Because from the beliefs everything else follows. I love knowing I can change my beliefs, that I can change my reality, that I can make things so that were not so before. That I can absolutely do everything I want, live the life I want, and have what I so desire in others just by changing my heart-centered beliefs. And the way I do that is by asking my higher power for help.

I dream of a world where we all understand we are co-creators of our reality. A world where we know beliefs shape our lives. A world where we understand our hearts are more important than our heads. A world where we flow with life knowing we can have what we desire as long as we shift the focus back to ourselves.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Next Economy Part II

Last week I wrote about the “next” economy or “gift” economy. This week I’m excited because it seems en masse people are realizing our current economic system is flawed. More than a thousand people have gathered for Occupy Wall St. and similar events are popping up in cities around the United States.

For those of you who don’t know, the movement is the expression of people dissatisfied with being a part of the 99% of the population who are not super wealthy. There is a whole tumblr about it actually. Here is one of the entries:
“I have my health. I have a job. I have no debt, and no dependents. I have a tiny bit of savings and a small retirement fund that I cling to.
But Wall Street is hungry, and our political leaders have shown whose side they are on. Business and government will work together to steal what we have.
I did not get here, to this tiny island of stability, alone. I owe so much to my brothers and sisters who worked hard for the ideals of DEMOCRACY and LIBERTY and FREEDOM.
And I will not stand by, silent, while any of my brothers and sisters falls through the cracks: the sick, the unemployed, and underemployed, the kids who depend on us all.
I will not stand by while the One Percent who have manipulated our social contract to their vast favor leave the rest of us to fend for ourselves.
I will not stand for it.
And I am not alone.
I am the 99%.”
You might be asking, why exactly this inspires me. It’s because about 10 years ago I had a conversation with a classmate, trying to explain why capitalism was a flawed system and she said to me, “If those people worked hard for their money I don’t see why we should limit how much they make. I don’t see why they can’t make as much money as they want because they earned it.” I’m inspired by this Occupy Wall St. protest because it shows me people are becoming more heart centered. They are starting to become more compassionate. They’re starting to see what happens to the homeless man down the street is not ok. I’m inspired because people are starting to care. As a 17-year-old it was hard for me to put into words capitalism doesn’t work because it rewards the greedy and it’s selfish. How on earth could I win the argument if the person I was talking to would respond by saying, “So?”

love that we’re showing compassion for each other. That people are saying, “Hey, you know, greed is not ok and I won’t stand idly by watching someone gobble up the wealth while the rest of us are fighting for scraps.” I love that we’re wanting to support each other. That we’re wanting to ensure everyone in the world gets their needs met. How AMAZING is that?

I dream of a world where everyone gets their basic needs met. A world where we are all taken care of because we take care of each other. A world where we’re supported. A world where wealth is shared and we show respect and compassion for our fellows. A world where we live more in our hearts than in our heads.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Next Economy

What I am sooooo excited about is the “next” economy or the “gift” economy. I was introduced to the concept of a gift economy by Dr. Aumatma Shah, who runs a holistic health care clinic in Oakland called the Karma Clinic. In essence, she offers her naturopathic services as a gift, only charging for remedies and supplements. It’s not free though, it’s a gift, there’s an important distinction. The energy inherent in “free” is take. The energy inherent in “gift” is, “This is an act of love and service.” Dr. Shah explicitly says in order to heal it’s important to give away what has been given. One cannot hold on tightly to the gift because the energy stops there with them. Does that make sense? It’s like what I wrote about a few months ago when because of the generosity I’d been shown re: my kickstarter campaign I felt like being generous myself. The gift doesn’t have to be money, it can be anything.

The reason I love the next economy or the gift economy so much is because it’s based on these four principles:

  • Moving from transaction to trust,
  • Consumption to contribution,
  • Isolation to community,
  • And scarcity to abundance.

Wow! Talk about my ideal world! Some people may scoff and say it will never work, but let me tell you, it does. My business coach, a big proponent of the next economy, said he’s not going to charge me for his expertise because we’re friends and he wants to be of service and help me be of service. Instead, he wants me to help out when and where I can. Let me tell you, when he said that to me a big weight lifted off my chest because I’m not in a position at the moment to pay him. What I love so much about this economy model is it emphasizes our relationships and not material goods. I’ve been receiving so many instances of this lately, not just with my naturopath and business coach, but my friend who’s a photographer. I had some pictures taken of me at the beginning of the year but I feel so radically different I want new author photos. And my professional photographer friend said he’ll take them free of charge and to buy him dinner or something. Huzzah!

What gets to me is the kindness that has been shown to me. That there are so many people who are willing to help me, who understand money is not everything, and really live that way. It’s truly a gift to be surrounded by so many loving, talented people who are willing to share their services with the world. In my business coach’s blog he sums up the next economy thusly:

"Human enterprises will be designed in service to all human needs while benefiting the earth and all life. The goal of doing business in the next economy is to be of service to life while doing what you love – finding 'work' so full of joy and purpose you cannot really call it work."

That is precisely what I want and I’m incredibly inspired because I’m seeing evidence of it around me. People who are knowingly and unknowingly incorporating service into their business. People who understand our work lives and our personal lives shouldn’t be so radically different, because after all, we’re still people and deserve to be treated that way.

I dream of a world where we give what we’ve been given. A world where we conduct business with kindness, generosity, and love. A world where we take care of each other and focus on the infinite possibilities life has to offer. A world where we value relationships and respect each other. A world where we understand there doesn’t need to be a “business as usual” because there can be a new way of doing business.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hitching Wagons to Stars

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his essay “Civilization” to: “Hitch your wagon to a star,” meaning, “Always aspire to do great things.” I’ve always aspired to do great things but somehow I always envisioned myself as the wagon and never the star. I always thought of myself in the supporting role. In some ways I think it’s a part of my nature – I’m a little shy, not that many people can tell that – so I’d rather be in the background than claim the spotlight. It’s funny how the universe arranges things so outmoded thinking gets swept away because that old paradigm crumbled around me about a week and a half ago.

What I’m referring to is the dissolution of my spiritual art and entertainment business. My business partner and I decided to go our separate ways because we had different needs and expectations that didn’t allow for us to continue working together. It was really painful; there’s still an ache in my heart thinking about it, but I know it’s for the best. I had this idea I needed him, that I couldn’t be successful on my own. That somehow it was “safer” to be in business with someone else instead of alone. I also had the notion I don’t have enough big ideas to run a company. But the truth is, it only takes one good idea to create a business and I’m never really alone. There are many people who play supporting roles in my life; there are many places I can go to ask for help and support. I don’t have to have a business partner in order to be successful.

Mostly what I’m getting at is I don’t need to hitch my wagon to anyone else’s star because I am the star. I have enough ideas, fortitude, skills, etc. to do this. “This” being run a publishing company, market a book, or whatever. I am capable of so much more than I thought I was. Not just with this business, but with my life. I can do anything by the grace of God. I think fear often tells us we need someone else around. That somehow going it alone is dangerous or unwise. It could be something as small as going to a concert solo. The thoughts are usually along the lines of, “Maybe I won’t have a good time. Maybe people will judge me, maybe my car won’t start and I’ll be stuck, maybe it will be scary,” etc. How often are those things true though?

When I go to things by myself, I find I have a pretty good time. In fact, on Friday I went to the movies by myself! Not because I’m a loser with no friends, but because I impulsively decided to go and didn’t want to rustle up company. And you know what? It was lovely. I got to see what I wanted, sit where I wanted, and leave when I wanted. It was just what I needed! I’m a big believer in doing what you want whether you have company to join you or not. So now I’m doing it with bigger things, not just the movies. I no longer believe my success/failure/happiness/security is dependent on anyone else. I no longer believe it’s strictly necessary to have someone else by my side. Because today I live in the truth I am my own star.

I dream of a world where we know we can handle life on our own. A world where we know we can shine brightly by ourselves. Where we understand our success is contingent on us and not who we’re socializing with. A world where we know we are each worthy of a leading role. A world where we feel capable and confident of our own abilities because in truth, we are each our own stars.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering. . .

There are a lot of things I want to say today. There are many things I want to talk about, but out of respect for what happened 10 years ago today, instead all I can really say is how horrible. All I can really say is my heart goes out to all of those people who lost friends and family members on September 11. But not only that, my heart goes out to all people, in all countries who have been victims of violence. Anyone who has been made to suffer at the hands of someone else. This won’t be the popular stance, but I’m also praying for the terrorists. I’m praying they’ll come to understand we are all people. We all fundamentally want the same things: love, acceptance, safety. I’m praying that those people whose hearts have been closed off due to fear and hatred will get opened. That they’ll see the error of their ways. I’m praying that people will really get just how interconnected we are and how one act of violence affects all of us and only breeds more violence. I’m praying for peace, knowing peace starts with me. I’m praying that we recognize the good in the world. Did you know Meetup.com started because of the terrorist attacks? Here’s a letter the CEO Scott Heiferman sent a few days ago:
"Let me tell you the Meetup story. I was living a couple miles from the Twin Towers, and I was the kind of person who thought local community doesn't matter much if we've got the Internet and TV. The only time I thought about my neighbors was when I hoped they wouldn't bother me. 
When the towers fell, I found myself talking to more neighbors in the days after 9/11 than ever before. People said hello to neighbors (next-door and across the city) who they'd normally ignore. People were looking after each other, helping each other, and meeting up with each other. You know, being neighborly. 
A lot of people were thinking that maybe 9/11 could bring people together in a lasting way. So the idea for Meetup was born: Could we use the Internet to get off the Internet – and grow local communities? 
We didn't know if it would work. Most people thought it was a crazy idea -- especially because terrorism is designed to make people distrust one another. 
A small team came together, and we launched Meetup nine months after 9/11. 
Today, almost 10 years and 10 million Meetuppers later, it's working. Every day, thousands of Meetups happen. Moms Meetups, Small Business Meetups, Fitness Meetups . . . a wild variety of 100,000 Meetup Groups with not much in common -- except one thing. 
Every Meetup starts with people simply saying hello to neighbors. And what often happens next is still amazing to me. They grow businesses and bands together, they teach and motivate each other, they babysit each other's kids and find other ways to work together. They have fun and find solace together. They make friends and form powerful community. It's powerful stuff. 
It's a wonderful revolution in local community, and it's thanks to everyone who shows up.
Meetups aren't about 9/11, but they may not be happening if it weren't for 9/11. 
9/11 didn't make us too scared to go outside or talk to strangers. 9/11 didn't rip us apart. No, we're building new community together!!!! 
The towers fell, but we rise up. And we're just getting started with these Meetups."
Because of things like this and more, I know another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Uniting as One

This afternoon I had the great privilege of attending a wedding. In some ways the theme this year seems to be weddings. Left and right friends and family members are getting engaged and married, and to be honest I’m inspired. I’m inspired because when I see the love transpiring from one person to another it melts my heart. When I see two people who say, “Yes, I commit myself to you. I’m ready to work out all of my issues on the day to day with you, I vow to ensure your all around progress in any way I can,” I know everything is right in the world.

I’m a sap. I admit it. But when two people find each other there’s something magical afoot. Out of all the people in the world, out of all of the possible combinations and relationships we go through with one another, to be able to say, “Yes, let’s get married,” that’s pretty special. It’s so uplifting to see that because the more we love one another the more love there is in the world. It spills over into all aspects of life. There’s that saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” I think that’s pretty accurate but applies to both parties. This human experience is all about connection and bonding. When our relationships with others are good, we’re pretty happy, or at least that’s been the case with me.

I debated whether to include this or not but the following is the crux of why marriage inspires me. In my spiritual practices, when someone gets married these are the vows they take:
"I say on oath I take upon myself all the responsibility for his/her food, clothes, education, medical care, etc. from today. I will be vigilant in every way to safeguard his/her mental peace and ensure his/her mental progress from today. I will be vigilant in every way to safeguard his/her spiritual progress from today."

And then the community says, “We say on oath that we are witnesses to this wedding. May we be helpful to the best of our capacity for the all-round progress of this newly married couple.”

There’s more to the ceremony than that, but the oaths are the gist of it. Maybe it’s because of the state of mind I’m in at the moment, but to have someone else say they are willing to do all those things for me, that they will take on responsibility for my physical, mental, and spiritual needs, seems pretty amazing. To find someone who wants to be my partner like that – wow. So when I witness weddings I get verklempt, as my friend would say. It’s inspirational to witness a partnership, a true coming together as one. To see out of love someone is willing to take responsibility for their partner. They are willing to serve someone else in a very real and intimate way. I can only hope one day the same will be true for me.

I dream of a world where we all feel supported. A world where we have a community to rely on. A world where we all have partners, romantic or not. A world where we know someone else (or multiple someone elses) is looking out for us. A world where we feel held, protected, and taken care of. A world where all our needs are met.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Envy

I debated whether or not to even write this post because it’s so personal but all day I’ve been getting messages about the importance of authenticity and sharing our personal experiences in an effort to help others, so here goes. . .

I am CRAZY envious of a blogger I know. I’m talking the super ugly, “I want what she has” envy. She has a crazy popular blog that’s been featured in women’s magazines and gets something like 100 comments a day, she has a loving husband, she’s published a book, AND she’s appeared on national television for it. Can we just establish here I so want those things? (Except maybe the 100 comments a day on my blog, seeing as how there isn’t really much for people to comment on. . .) I really don’t want to admit how envious I am. ESPECIALLY not to other people! I’m not proud of how I feel, but that doesn’t change the fact the feeling exists. I wish it did, but it doesn’t.

In some ways I think envy is a good thing. It reminds me what I fiercely want out of life. It reminds me what my goals are. But it’s important to remember we are all human and this fellow blogger has her trials and tribulations. She has her own things she’s going through and I probably wouldn’t want to trade my woes for hers. Going a bit deeper into it, really what envy is about is escape. I want to escape into someone else’s life because it looks better than mine. The truth is even if someone else’s life is better than mine it doesn’t mean I can do anything about it. We can’t trade places. Also, maybe all those things I envy in this woman are on their way to me. Maybe this time next year all those things will be true for me. I don’t have to rush anything. I could talk about the danger of comparing myself to other people but I’ve covered that ground already. Instead I’d like to say I live in an abundant and infinite universe. This woman having all of those things doesn’t mean I can’t have them too. If anything, it shows me I can as well.

What I’d really like to say is, “Rebekah, you can have all of those things. Nothing is stopping you.” I don’t need to be envious of this blogger because the only obstacle in my way is me. So instead of continuing to feel envy I say, “Thank you for coming up. For showing me what my heart’s real desires are. Thank you for reminding me what my priorities are and what I’d like to focus on. Now that I’ve acknowledged you, please go away.” Because I can also go on national television. Because I can also have a loving marriage. Because I can also have everything I’ve ever wanted.

I don’t know if I’ve illustrated much progress here but I guess I’m saying every emotion (even the ones I don’t like) serve a purpose. They all deserve to be recognized and looked at. I am a human being with a range of emotions and envy is one of them. But I get to choose whether I continue to feel it. I choose not.

I dream of a world where we all allow ourselves to express our feelings. A world where we give all our emotions a moment in the sun – including the ones we’d rather not face. A world where we recognize every emotion serves a purpose and it’s up to us to suss it out.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sacrifice Means Love

I am inspired for a couple of reasons today and both of them revolve around the television show “Lost.” I know, I know I’m one of the last people on Earth to see the television show, but wow! It’s amazing! (Also please note I’m finishing up season three so no spoilers please!)

Firstly, I’m inspired because this show even exists and not only that, it’s crazy popular. It lasted for six seasons and when it was on the air I heard people talking about it/referencing it all the time. I just didn’t watch the show myself. So often people (myself included) trash television as being filled with crap. Most people accuse television of being mindless drivel, so the fact this gem of a show filled with spiritual concepts was on the air is so inspirational to me. It addresses so many issues such as the relativity of good and evil, redemption, serving others, and sacrifice. The last issue is the one I want to address today.

So often “sacrifice” is a dirty word. No one wants to do it. “Sacrifice something for the greater good? Uh, no thanks, ask someone else please.” Wrapping up season three of “Lost” I’m just so inspired. I’ve heard before “sacrifice for the greater good,” but I didn’t really know what it meant. Er, sure, sounds great, but what does that mean? It means sometimes it’s necessary to end one life in order to save others. Tonight I really understood the importance of what soldiers do. Before the issue for me was always, “Why are we fighting a war in the first place?” with little appreciation for the sacrifice other people are going through for my sake. Tonight it occurred to me sacrifice is one of the highest forms of love. To give of yourself in order to serve others? Wow! How noble!

Watching “Lost” is opening my eyes to just how beautiful sacrifice is. I also associate sacrifice with something other people do. It’s the realm of soldiers, of parents, but not of me. Parents sacrifice for their kids by making them dinner even when they’re tired. By choosing to spend money on their children instead of themselves. By staying somewhere just because the schools are good. I always figured I would pay back the sacrifices others have made for me when I became a parent, but I’m seeing now that’s living in the future, something I don’t want to do. Ultimately, sacrifice means undergoing hardship for the sake of others. I sacrifice when I give up my seat on the bus even though I’m dead tired or when I donate money to charity even though I’m struggling financially. And I want to sacrifice because it’s the highest expression of love.

Sacrifice means, “I love you so much I’m willing to undergo hardship for you.” It’s a way of saying, “In this moment I’m placing your needs before my own.” That is true love right there. And that’s why I choose to sacrifice, because I love the cosmic consciousness and I want to serve the cosmic consciousness that is expressed in human form. I love the people in my life so I’m willing to suffer a little bit for their benefit. I also know it’s important for me to practice balance with sacrifice just as with other things. Too much sacrifice means I’m not honoring myself or letting other people express their love for me. And love is the most magical, beautiful, precious gift we can ever give one another.

I dream of a world where we all understand the beauty of sacrifice. A world where we’re willing to undergo hardship for the benefit of others. A world where we express our love for each other by giving of ourselves. A world where we show other people just how important they are to us.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

No More Hiding

This is going to sound very strange but a part of me would like to be invisible. No really. I don’t mean in a superpower kind of way so I can catch bad guys. I mean in a very real, don’t-notice-me-pretend-I’m-not-here kind of way. I don’t want you to pay attention to me or criticize me or cause me any harm. I’d rather slink against the walls and escape your gaze. Which, if you’ve met me in real life, you know that’s not how I act AT ALL. When I walk into a room I don’t hug the sides, I march up to the very front and center of everything because I want to be in the thick of things! And um, I blog about myself every week . . . So where does that desire to be invisible come from? I honestly don’t know. Call it a past life or a carryover from childhood because it certainly doesn’t fit who I am presently.

This evening I cried listening to a podcast where the woman said she wanted to be invisible because it struck a chord with me. I hadn’t realized that was simmering below the surface, but it was. Most of you don’t know this, but for the past three weeks my knee has been swollen – so much so it hurts when I walk. And it didn’t swell up because I fell but rather of its own accord. Metaphysically speaking, knees (and joints in general) have to do with moving forward in life. I’ve been resisting moving forward because I’m scared. I’m scared of what will happen when I do. I’m scared of what will happen when people see the real me. When they find out all my secrets and all the crazy lurking beneath my surface. Because that’s exactly what my book is all about. My real life, warts and all.

Ever since we raised $5,000 via kickstarter to get the book published a part of me has wanted to scrap the whole thing. Refund everybody their money, close the blinds, turn off the lights, and call it a night. Forget the whole thing even exists. Obviously I’ve ignored that impulse because many of you saw a proposed cover on facebook. And because I pushed forward without dealing with the emotional component, my knee swelled up in response.

On Friday I read a blogpost by Lee-Anne Peters called, “Come Out of Hiding” and boy did it resonant. The gist of her post is that it’s safe to come out of hiding. It’s safe to share our gifts with the world. It’s safe to be our true selves and let our lights shine. It’s safe for me to express myself and show up in the world.

I’ve been scared of the reception my book will receive, both positive and negative. But the truth is I have a gift and it’s like that saying, “What you are is God’s gift to you. What you make of yourself if your gift to God.” Yeah.

Tonight I acknowledged the part of myself that’s been scared instead of pretending like it didn’t exist. And I apologized. I said, “I’m so sorry for whatever it was that made you feel like you need to be invisible. I’m sorry for all those things that happened to you.” Even typing that tears are pricking my eyes. And after crying I recognize the truth and the reality of where I am. That I am blessed to live in a world where it’s safe to express myself. Where even if everyone thinks I’m crazy there won’t be repercussions for it. (And in fact, there are probably people who feel the same way, and what with the internet I can connect with them.) The truth of the matter is I live in the United States where freedom of speech is revered. No one is going to break down my door and handcuff me for publishing a memoir about moving to San Francisco with no job, no place to live, and only $2,000 in the bank. They just aren’t. It’s safe for me to be seen these days.

I dream of a world where we all feel safe to share our gifts with each other. A world where we know our gifts are welcomed with open arms. A world where we know it’s so much better to be seen, accepted, and embraced in the naked light of truth than to skulk around in the dark of invisibility. A world where we allow ourselves to be who we are. A world where we allow ourselves to shine like the bright lights we are.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I am Already Ready

(Before starting this blogpost I wanted to again mention the live teleconference with Marianne Williamson tomorrow, Aug. 8 for those who are interested.)

I just watched an incredibly inspiring YouTube video by Doreen Virtue on “Moving Ahead With Your Life’s Purpose.” She opens with a quote by Sheldon Kopp: “I’ve never begun any important venture for which I felt adequately prepared.” Wow. What a statement. She goes on to say the ego likes to create “delay tactics” declaring we need to take another class or read another book or reach a certain point before we can do what we want to do. At some level this is true – in order to be a doctor it’s important to receive the proper training – but at the same time it’s important to say, “I’m scared but I’m doing it anyway.”

Hearing Doreen I feel relief because it reminds me perhaps I’ll never think I’m ready. Yesterday I was at The Good Festival promoting my business partner’s book Chasing Glass. When it came time to do the math at the end of the day I panicked a little because I wasn’t sure how to account for the percentage the book paid for the expenses versus our other products (always with the math!). A part of me thinks I can’t do any business, I can’t move forward until I know everything there is to know about bookkeeping. Actually, it’s fine for me to say, “I don’t know” and then ask for help. I don’t need to know everything about everything. Just because I don’t solve equations easily doesn’t mean I’m not ready to have a business! It means I need to ask people to help me.

I also realized while watching Doreen’s video my ego interjects not just with my life purpose but with, you know, my life. There are many things I’ve convinced myself I’m not ready for until I reach a certain point. “When I have clearer skin I’ll be ready for my romantic relationship.” “When I lose X amount of weight I’ll feel good about my body.” “When I have X amount of dollars in the bank I’ll move to San Francisco (that one is obviously from my past).” The truth is I’m already ready. I don’t have to meet some end goal in order to be prepared for something. I can take baby steps along the way. Doreen mentions how as a mother of two small children with a book contract she felt scared and overwhelmed by her task. What she did is write one page for her book a day. And you know what? Eventually she finished it. That may seem a little tangential but my point is I am already ready and I can take small steps to accomplish what I want to accomplish. But ultimately even if I’m scared I take action anyway.

I dream of a world where we recognize we are already ready for the things we want. A world where we don’t have to delay our heart’s desires until we reach a certain point. A world where we recognize our egos like to tell us we’re not ready for something when in truth we are. A world where we understand we are already ready.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Listen to Marianne Williamson LIVE!

The universe is just so funny sometimes. I obviously love Marianne Williamson -- I've referenced A Return to Love numerous times, as recently as last Sunday. Well get this. A PR lady e-mailed me out of the blue to notify me as part of the "Fairness Campaign Speaker Summit" Marianne Williamson will be speaking Monday August 8 at 4pm PT/ 7pm ET. And it's totally free! (I have to say there are other AMAZING speakers as part of the summit, which goes through the 14th. I highly encourage you to check it out.) The link is http://masterful.net/thebond. I LOVE that they're doing this summit because it's combining some of the most popular and influential people like Marianne Williamson, Rev. Michael Beckwith (who I've also blogged about), and Jack Canfield to encourage us to bring a better world into being. To remind us we -- you and I -- really can make a difference.

As an extra incentive I'll be giving away a copy of Author, Healer and Fairness Campaign Producer Jennifer McLean’s BIG BOOK OF YOU (currently sold out on Amazon.com)! Just leave a comment and I'll randomly select a winner. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dreams Do Come True

I know this is so cheesy because we’ve all heard the phrase, “Dreams do come true” all the time, but as sappy as it is, it’s also a reality. Tonight I got an e-mail someone whose project I donated to on kickstarter was able to successfully finance his campaign. Stuff like that honestly does inspire me. When I hear of people who want something so badly and then it comes true. It’s touching to be a part of that process.

I LOVE hearing success stories because it reminds me that I too can be successful. There are so many naysayers in the world, people who say “I can’t,” I love when I hear of people who say “I can.” People who successfully raised nearly $1 million in their kickstarter campaign. People who kept auditioning for an acting role until finally they were cast. People who searched for their life partner well into their 50s and finally found someone who fit. People who open art galleries and self-publish books and discover planets and shoot for the moon. People who have a dream and then they achieve it. I can think nothing more inspiring than that. So often creative talents are squashed for more practical endeavors like majoring in business or becoming a dentist because loving parents are afraid their children won’t be able to “make it.” When instead those kids turn out to be sensations, wow. Amazing.

I’m reminded of that famous quote by Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Yes. Absolutely. Success and inspiration are contagious and I hope we all strive forward, manifesting our brilliance. Because the more we do so the more we encourage others to do the same.

I dream of a world where we all chase our dreams knowing “failure” is really delayed success. A world where we grab onto hope with both hands and keep steadfast to our heart’s desires. A world where we know if other people’s dreams can come true, so can ours.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

There are More of Us. . .

This weekend I too have been shocked and saddened by what happened in Norway. It seems surreal an event like that could occur. To add to the global grief, beloved musician Amy Winehouse passed away. It’s not the same as bombing a building or opening fire on a group of kids but what has been the same is the outpouring of love, kindness, and compassion for all parties involved. I’ve seen tweet after tweet, facebook post after facebook post of people praying for those in Norway, or lamenting Winehouse’s death. Both events are sad and in response to both events I’ve seen a lot of heartfelt messages.

That is how I know another world is probable. Because love and kindness far outweigh hate and separation. Because for every crazy separatist who thinks violence is the answer there are a hundred gentle souls who know better. There are people who instead of screaming invectives know we are each of us connected. There are people who instead would rather help a stranger carry her portable shopping cart down the stairs. There are people who instead would rather give of themselves than receive in return. For every act of hate I see 10 acts of love. For every person who commits murder I see 10 acts of giving life.

It may not seem like it now but there are more of us than there are of those misguided souls. There is more love in the world than there is hate. There is more joy than there is sorrow. This is not to downplay the emotions people are feeling, but rather to highlight them. Even amidst acts of tragedy there is kindness and sharing. Even after shootings, bombings, floods, tornadoes, tsunamis, etc. people step outside their homes and offer a helping hand. I know this because I’ve seen it. And in these times of heartache it reminds me even more how people are loving, generous, and willing to help. In times like these I see the best of people.

I dream of a world where we all realize love outweighs its opposite. A world where we revel in the kindness shown to us by strangers. A world where we realize there are more good people than there are mean ones. A world where we continue to overpower the hatred expressed by some with the love expressed by many. A world where all the gentle souls rise up and take over. A world where we know there are more of us.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Holding the Paradox

The title for this post is courtesy of Bryan Franklin who gave a TED talk titled “The most dangerous question on Earth.” He spent the majority of his talk on the qualities of a good entrepreneur and one of them is the ability to hold paradox. For instance, we matter but at the same time we don’t matter. “You can touch a life so deeply and so profoundly that the impact of your loss would never be forgotten ... the ripple effect of your impact is unfathomable. And also the magnitude of your insignificance is equally unfathomable ... you are barely dust,” he said. Holding the paradox means giving equal weight and importance to both, letting neither diminish the other. Holding the paradox means not taking sides but rather allowing both.

The paradox I’m holding is happiness and sadness. Until yesterday I was in Washington, D.C. for a wedding, which I decided to turn into a long weekend trip. I love Washington, D.C. I went to school there, I became an adult there, my favorite places on Earth are there. Yet I live in San Francisco and I love San Francisco. I love the weather, I love my friends, I love my apartment, my life, my community. I felt (and feel) sad about leaving the district because not only are my favorite places there but also some dear friends. My heart is heavy because I don’t know when I’ll see them again. Washington, D.C. is a special place for me because I don’t have one or two good friends living there, I have about a dozen. It’s hard to leave such a large and deep pocket of love and kinship. I was sad to leave but happy to come home. A part of me wants to pick a side, to say I’m either sad to leave D.C. or happy to come back to San Francisco. But that’s not true. I honestly feel both.

What I’m learning is my feelings are complex and multifaceted so that means I can feel both. That means I can hold the paradox. I don’t have to pick a side. I don’t have to move back to D.C. because I miss living there. I don’t have to abandon my life in S.F. I don’t have to do anything really except feel what I’m feeling. Allow myself to experience both happiness and sadness, yes, even at the same time.

My life these days is no longer black and white, it’s shades of gray. I am an unlimited being so I don’t have to restrict myself to taking sides in the paradox. I don’t have to say either or anymore. Perhaps that’s what it means to be an adult, recognizing there are numerous possibilities and life isn’t as simple as I thought it was. I can feel both. I can love multiple people, places, and things and nothing has to replace anything else. I can have multiple favorites. I wish everything was cut and dry because life would be so much simpler that way but in truth, it’s not. So that’s what I’m encouraging. Embracing life as it is, which is full of paradox.

I dream of a world where contradicting ideas may coexist. A world where we allow for all possibilities and situations. A world where we allow ourselves to feel disparate emotions. A world where we accept our complexity and our depth. A world where we know one thing does not have to preclude the other.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Power of "No"

Since probably January I’ve been saying “Yes” to life. Am I available to shoot and act in a book trailer? Yes. Can I do some urban beekeeping? Why not! Lead a workshop? Sure! I love saying “yes” to life because it opens me up to so many unusual experiences. Besides the fact I like to be of service. But there comes a point where it’s time to stop saying yes.

Last week during a retreat we were asked to think of a prevalent emotion; mine was overwrought. I felt so worn out, so depleted, and so tired because all I’ve been doing for the past six months is say yes. And because of that my adrenals are worn out, I have a thousand things on my to-do list, and lots of priorities vying for my attention. As I sat in a circle with my fellow yogis, crying silently with my mouth scrunched in an upside-down “u” and my forehead creased, a voice said to me, “You can say no.” I cried even harder because that was the truth. I can say no. I have the permission to turn things down. Usually I don’t want to because I don’t want to miss any opportunities. I like to embrace life because as a child I said “No” a lot and in some ways I guess I’m making up for it. Not only can I say no, I need to say no.

I need to say no because I am only one person and I can spread myself too thin. I need to say no because otherwise I put self-care at the bottom of the list. I need to say no because I get distracted from my goals. There is indeed a power in saying no, which any 2 year old can tell you. Saying no sets boundaries and helps define a person. When a toddler says no it’s their way of asserting their independence of saying, “Hey, I can make decisions for myself.” As an adult, saying no is my way of conserving my energy, of storing it up for what I’m really interested in.

This blogpost may not be so inspiring, but after running myself ragged grabbing a hold of every opportunity, it’s a relief to say no.

I dream of a world where we find balance between saying yes and no. A world where we take care of ourselves while also being open to possibilities. A world where we realize we can say no and it doesn’t make us selfish or self-centered. It means we’re treating ourselves with utmost love and respect.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Monday, June 27, 2011

If it Ain't Broke. . .

Growing up in a spiritual household my parents have been extolling the virtue of surrender for years. And by surrender I primarily mean “letting God and letting God” while still doing what I can, because after all God gave me hands to work, legs to move, stamina to act, and practical intelligence so I might as well make use of them! Anyway, as you know I launched a kickstarter campaign to raise money to get my book professionally copyedited, designed, and laid out. (And if you didn’t know, I launched a kickstarter campaign! The cutoff is Friday and $15 gets you a free copy of the book!)

I can say unequivocally this campaign has driven me NUTS. A few weeks ago I prayed for peace – and I meant it but there was still the element of control within me. I still wanted to influence the outcome. I still wanted to do everything in my power to make. it. happen. I joined twitter to start tweeting about my book using hashtags out the wazoo, I e-mailed friends and family, I posted it to facebook, I pinged complete strangers who I thought might be interested, I prayed (and prayed, and prayed), I tried the whole “Abraham Hicks deal” of feeling what it would be like to get my campaign successfully funded. I felt gratitude for all the contributions pouring in and felt what it be like to have more. Yes, it all worked to a degree, but you know, nothing does the trick like surrender. Honestly, all these methods may work for other people but time and again the universe has shown me I just need to SURRENDER.

Surrender is a recurring theme for me because it’s the antithesis of my personality, which is extremely controlling. I like to plan for everything. I’m the girl who carries around hand sanitizer just in case! So perhaps it makes sense the ultimate answer for me is always the complete opposite of my innate nature. As I type that a little voice whispers, “Surrender is your innate nature – your ego’s desire to control isn’t. That’s what you’re here to remember.” Perhaps that’s why the title of this post is, “If it ain’t broke. . .” because surrender works for me. It always has. So why do I keep trying other things first?!? Probably because in some ways (all ways?) surrender is the hardest thing for me.

I’m rambling a bit because, well, it’s 11:42 p.m. and I’m flying to the middle of the country tomorrow, but I guess I want to say I’d like surrender to be my first choice. Because when I surrendered this campaign, when I said to myself, “I let it go and let it flow. I let God take care of it,” in that moment, that very moment my future sister-in-law e-mailed me a blogpost she wrote mentioning my campaign, I had a new backer for my book, AND a complete stranger e-mailed me out of the blue and said, “Your story and book I feel will inspire others and touch lives in a positive way ... I feel it has that energy and I wish you the best of luck with it!” I know it was the exact moment I surrendered because I happened to glance at the clock when I did. I don’t know how many people will back my project or quite how this will all turn out but that’s the point of surrender – I’m turning it over to a power greater than myself to handle.

I dream of a world where we continue to use the tools that work for us. A world where we let go and let God. A world where we do our best and then turn over the consequences. A world where we accept there is only so much we can do and the rest is out of our hands. A world where we let whatever will be, be. In essence, a world where we learn the value of surrender.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

People DO Change

I hear (and read) the expression, “People don’t change” frequently and it baffles me. Because people do change. All the time. Heck, I’m a different person now than I was even a month ago. And not just me. There are gay characters on practically every television show that’s broadcast these days. There are homophobic dads out there that are now accepting their gay sons. There are states that accept gay marriage and civil unions. There are entire countries ok with people marrying whomever they want. And not just that, hell, Wal-Mart sells all natural products made by Clorox. Clorox, the makers of bleach. Sure, it was probably motivated by profits, but still, the fact I can even say that in the same breath is tremendous.

On an individual level there are people out there who are off drugs, or lost 300 pounds, or finally learned what it means to be compassionate. There are people who finally took down their walls and allowed love into their lives. People change ALL THE TIME. I think mostly what it comes down to though is “I” can’t get “you” to change. I think we say, “People don’t change” because it’s much easier to swallow our powerlessness over others. Because no matter how much I want, plead, or cajole I can’t force someone to change their behavior. But that doesn’t mean their behavior won’t change, it just won’t be because of me. Or them really.

Here’s a truth I’ve learned: “I” can’t ever change myself. If I could I’d be thinner/richer/smarter/prettier/whatever. If I could change me I would do so many things! My controlling nature would throw a parade because, “Yes! I can finally do everything I always wanted the way I wanted!” Here’s the miracle of my life today. I’m incredibly impatient (which I think we’ve established) and I resigned myself to being that way forever because, “People don’t change.” But then you know what? I started praying about it. I started praying for more patience so I could better show up for myself and others and it happened. When I went to visit my parents for Christmas I didn’t yell and stamp my feet urging them to hurry up. Instead I kept my mouth shut and just waited. I wasn’t even bothered by their lateness. Who was that? Not me. The change had to come from something outside of me. And I don’t necessarily mean just God or Higher Power. I’m talking about the little stuff that gets me out of my own headspace like serving someone else, or volunteering, or traveling to a foreign country. There has to be that room for expansion and growth.

I guess I’m saying I know another world is possible because another me, you, we is possible. I know another world is possible because we change all the time. We are each different today than we were five years ago. I know another world is in the making because we are not static creatures who engage in the same behavior over and over again. Sure, we might for a time, but eventually something gives. We expand. We wake up. We’re ever-so-slightly different than we were before. There’s no truth to the statement, “People don’t change.” It’s more accurate to say, “I can’t make you change.”

I dream of a world where we celebrate the growth we all go through. A world where we recognize the beauty and the magic in life. A world where we see how those around us do indeed change and we marvel at the difference. A world where we allow ourselves and each other to show up in new and inspiring ways. A world where we recognize things are ever-changing, ourselves included.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Internal Peace

Years ago when someone said to me, “More than anything I just want to feel at peace,” my immediate reaction was, “Pssshaw. Peace? I don’t want to feel at peace! I want _______.” I wanted what I wanted. None of this “peace” business. Give me a great body, clear skin, a full bank account, a loving boyfriend, and a nice place to live and then maybe we can talk about peace.

What’s funny is peace is all I want these days too. I want to be even keel, not obsessing, worrying, or acting compulsively. That’s how I define peace. A sense of calmness, being unperturbed despite the hullabaloo taking place around me. Internal peace is feeling everything will be ok no matter the outcome. My friend B would call that “unconditional serenity.” Yeah. That’s what I want. Serenity without conditions.

I bring this up because when I launched my kickstarter campaign I was in a right state – obsessing over how much I had left to go, worrying I won’t make it, compulsively checking and sending my email. And now? Of course I care, of course I’m still taking action, of course I’m still encouraging folks to donate, but honestly, I’d rather feel at peace about it. And not just my kickstarter campaign, but my entire life. I’d rather just trust it will turn out the way it’s supposed to. And I don’t have to worry about the future because I’m not in the future, I’m in the present. And for today I have enough money in the bank and my kickstarter campaign is 41% funded. So you know what? We’re all good. Not only that, it’s out of my hands.

That’s the truth of it. I’m not in control of pretty much anything except my own thoughts and actions. I do not control whether people donate. I do not control whether I get more freelance work. All I control are my thoughts – which are that the universe supports and loves me – and my actions – which are I will continue to email people and continue to look for freelancing work. The end results are not up to me.

The thoughts though. Oh my goodness the thoughts. I’ve had to tell myself over and over again the universe supports and loves me. And the campaign will either be successful or it won’t. Because the truth is I don’t like stewing in the same pattern of, “Will it be successful? Should I email more people? Who should I contact? Who should I not contact? Will you give me money? How about you? What about your friends?” I’m still going to email folks but it doesn’t have to be a constant barrage of “Will we make it? Will we make it?” Dear Lord, just give me peace!

So that’s what I’m praying for. For my higher power to take this from me. To allow me to be of service. To allow me to get out of my own head. I’m praying for trust and faith in the universe. I’m praying to know that no matter what happens to recognize it’s in my best interest. I’m praying for clear guidance and for the obsession to lift. And I pray for other people as well.

I dream of a world where we all know the exquisite experience of internal peace. A world where we all ask for peace in any situation because we know we have the power to do so. A world where we trust ourselves and we trust the universe. A world where we allow the universe to flow through us and around us. A world where we live in peace.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Generosity of Spirit

This week I’ve been amazed by the generosity of spirit my book Just a Girl From Kansas has received. (For those of you who don’t know, I started a kickstarter campaign to raise the funds so I can professionally edit, design, and lay out the book.) I am so touched by just how much people have donated to the project. It’s only been five days and we already have more than $1,400. I’ve opened my inbox day after day and found donations ranging anywhere from $5 to $150.

This experience has shown me people are kind and generous. That they want to support friends and strangers. That we don’t live in a world where we pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps because there are so many people ready and willing to lend their support. That support, that generosity, is a precious gift and it tends to create more of it.

On Saturday I had to add money to my transit card and shuffling around the fare machine was a disheveled man asking for change so he could get to South Hayward, a stop in the East Bay. I get asked for money all the time because, well, I live in downtown San Francisco, and normally I hand out food. But this man requested something so specific, and I felt so grateful for all the generosity I’ve experienced thus far, that I said to the man, “I won’t give you the money but I’ll buy you a ticket.” At first I was startled at my response but a split second later, I realized, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I want to do.” I didn’t want to give him money in case his request was a ruse to buy drugs so I bought the ticket myself. I know the $4.90 I spent is nothing compared to the $5,000 I’m asking of others, but the sentiment is the same.

In this moment I’m at a loss for words, but what it comes down to is I’m so grateful. Grateful people are donating. Grateful people are willing to support this project, my heart and soul’s work. Grateful I don’t have to do it alone. That’s the biggest one. I’m grateful I don’t have to be the one to come up with the cash. I’m grateful I’m not the one who has to figure it out, or sell my worldly possessions, or win the lottery. Because the support is there for me. And not just for me, for everyone. The universe loves and supports us and the way that happens is through other people. Other people will show up in our lives to give and that in turn prompts us to do the same. I’m not alone in this world. I’m walking along with other people who are helping to carry my load, and I theirs. All together we make our burdens a little lighter and that is mostly what touches my heart.

I dream of a world where we continue to support one another. A world where we continue to be generous with our time, money, and skills. A world where help those around us because we know many hands make light work. A world where we allow the universe to support and love us in the guise of other people.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We Interrupt This Blogpost. . .

Hello! So I’ve been talking about my book, Just a Girl From Kansas for months and months. Well, I finally launched a kickstarter campaign so I can actually get it published!

For those of you who don’t know, Kickstarter is an all or nothing fundraising platform. So that means I either raise all $5k by July 1st or I don’t see a dime. So when I say to you, “Every little bit counts,” I really mean it! The other cool thing about kickstarter is along with your donation you get a backer reward like a signed copy of the book or a handwritten thank you. If you would consider donating even a little bit I would greatly appreciate it. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/292967147/get-just-a-girl-from-kansas-published. Thank you so much!