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.