Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Individual and the Collective



Lately I've been thinking about the role of the individual and the collective and how sometimes the individual's desires are met at the expense of the collective's. In particular, I'm thinking in the context of climate change. Recently I read the most horrific article about climate change predicting a genocide from it. How in some places drought will last for five years. Five years! People, I'm not too proud to admit I'm terrified, because I am.

I also thought about how we got into this mess and from my perspective anyway, it seems in many cases we put short-term gain before long-term sustainability. How some corporations decided as long as they could make a profit now, that's all that mattered. The future? Well, that's in the future. Worry about it then. I realize I'm painting corporations as the villain, but corporations are made up of people. I see shortsightedness in individuals as well. When I lived in London, I had a roommate who steamed a dress by running the shower while she puttered around in the bedroom. When I called her on it, she said, “Well, I pay for the water.” Her response dumbfounded me. What do you even say to that? She felt like she had every right to waste water because she paid for it. In that circumstance anyway she didn't think about the impact of her actions. She only thought about how she wanted her dress wrinkle-free but didn't want to expend time ironing it.

We're all spinning on the same blue planet. Photo by NASA on Unsplash.

Sometimes we live in bubbles and think our actions don't affect other people or our environment. We don't think about how interdependent we all are. On the other hand, sometimes we take too much responsibility. I read another article in the Guardian about how our personal actions to combat climate change only go so far. Switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs only does so much. Of course it makes a difference, but the scale is small compared with the greenhouse gases emitted by agribusiness and factories. Many of us have bought into the idea solving climate change is the individual's responsibility. It is. And it's not. We must work in tandem. Carry a canvas tote bag but also put pressure on corporations to change their ways. Drive an electric car but also demand the government build better public transportation infrastructure.

This post is a little all over the place but what I'm getting at is sometimes for the good of the collective we have to sacrifice a little. Sometimes for the good of the collective we can't think only of ourselves and what works for us. Sometimes we have to think about other people too and the environment and how all the pieces fit together. We have to remember we aren't our own ecosystems. We aren't islands completely removed from others. We all fit together and that means our selfish and self-centered tendencies must be reigned in. We are individuals and we are a collective. Both matter and both have a part to play. For the long-term health of the planet, we must learn to work together in harmony.

I dream of a world where we balance the needs of individuals with the needs of society as a whole. A world where we keep in mind the future and long-term sustainability of the planet and each other. A world where we learn to work in harmony for the good of all of us.

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

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Watch Time versus Calendar Time



This weekend I met someone formerly associated with my yoga and meditation group way back in the 70s when he lived in Atlanta. That may not seem especially remarkable, but it's literally never happened to me before. I've met people who had some exposure to it, but not people who engaged with the practices and then drifted away. My yoga and meditation group, while worldwide, is small and the chances of an affiliation with it coming up in a first conversation with someone at a party is unlikely. I grin thinking about the encounter from this weekend because it reminds me the universe is not random and chaotic. There is an order and an intelligence at play of which I get glimpses sometimes.

I take comfort in believing order and intelligence reigns because there are a lot of things going on in the world and in my life that I don't understand, that I wish were different. There are certain elected officials I wish weren't in office. There are certain policies I wish were abolished. I wish my body reacted differently to certain foods. I wish I didn't have certain ailments. And when I spend all my time wishing things were different – while also working to change them – I get frustrated and feel like I'm beating my head against a brick wall. I easily succumb to despair. When life throws a little magic, a little synchronicity my way, hope flares up again and I'm reminded that perhaps I'm unable to see the whole picture. That I'm a character in a play that only knows her lines and not the lines of everyone else.

And then there's sand timer time. Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The other reason I appreciate the encounter from this weekend is the demonstration that things circle back. The man I met hasn't been an active member of my group for nearly 50 years and now he might pick it up again. In my mind, if something doesn't happen in the short term, it will never happen. I have big dreams and at the moment it seems like I'm veering away from them. I have sadness about that because these dreams are near and dear to my heart, but at the moment they aren't feasible given my energy levels and my financial situation. Does that mean I give them up for good?

Intellectually I understand the answer to that question is “no.” I see many models in society of people who accomplished things later in life, but emotionally, the answer feels like a “yes.” The more reminders I have that things circle back, that dreams can be delayed, the better.

My spiritual teacher says that “whatever happens in this universe of ours is nothing but an expression of Cosmic desire or Cosmic will … when a human desire and His desire coincide, then only does the human desire become fruitful, otherwise it is a sure failure.”

Sometimes when I want something to happen doesn't match up to when the cosmos wants something to happen. Sometimes the soil isn't fertile enough. Sometimes you plant something and the yield is pitiful, but after adding nutrients to the soil, the yield is plentiful. I'm reminded here the universe is playing a long game. My recovery mentor says, “You're looking at your watch while Higher Power is looking at the calendar.” My part I think is having patience, trust, and faith in the timing of things.

I dream of a world where we remember the universe has a long-term plan while many of us only think in the short term. A world where we recognize if we're not ready for something just yet, it will circle back to us if it's meant to be. A world where we realize while it may not seem so on the surface, the world is an ordered, intelligent place.

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

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Kith and Kin



I'm sick right now so I can't guarantee the eloquence of this post, but I wanted to write something anyway because I feel passionately about this topic. I'm observing a few things going on in the world right now. Tension is high. People are pissed, rightly so, at all the injustice running rampant. I'm not a sexual assault survivor, but I was also affected by the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing. To listen to so many horrible stories from people and to witness some of the reactions to them didn't make me feel good. Everyone wants to feel seen, heard, and respected and when we're not, it's painful.

I also notice people in power are pissed too. Again, one only has to look at Kavanaugh's testimony to see that. He didn't show up to the hearing contrite. He showed up belligerent, denying all accusations. The New Yorker ran an opinion piece declaring the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing will be remembered as a “grotesque display of patriarchal resentment.”

We are one big family. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

These are the times we're living in. From an astrological perspective, there's a whole lot of “othering” going on, as in separating from others, erecting boundaries, and dehumanizing people. Astrology is not causal, it's instead like a map, and in this instance, we as a society are demonstrating the disintegrated version of the Saturn:Pluto transit. Othering is not limited to sexism, its showing up everywhere. It shows up in the treatment of people of color, in immigrants, of the LGBTQIA community. Anyone who doesn't fall into the majority is subjected to “othering.” What's interesting for me to notice though is even those who are privileged and in the majority are not immune to being “othered.” I read an exchange on facebook where a white man posted something he thought was supportive of the #metoo movement and a woman blasted him for it because she thought otherwise. She said instead his post played into patriarchy, that he is part of the problem, that he's another privileged white dude perpetuating the disempowerment of women.

I get where people are coming from and at the same time I'm reminded of a quote someone shared on facebook that struck me as relevant for the times we're living in: “If you don't heal what hurt you, you'll bleed all over the person who didn't cut you.” Yep. Lots of bleeding right now. Lots of hurt people walking around. We are all taking out our pain on each other.

What is the solution here? The solution I think is three-fold: One, to heal what hurt us, whatever that looks like. Two, I think it's important to practice empathy, to understand the perspective of all our siblings. We don't all have the same experiences, but we all have the same needs. There is more that binds us than divides us. Lastly, as philosopher P.R. Sarkar writes in his book, The Liberation of Intellect: Neohumanism, “You will have to carry the collectivity with you, because the collectivity is yours. The collectivity is not outside you – your future is inseparably connected with the collective fortune. You must take the entire collectivity with you and move toward the sweetest radiance of the new crimson dawn, beyond the veil of the darkest night.”

We are a collective, moving together. We are a universal family sharing the resources of this planet. We are like a garden filled with numerous flowers, but ultimately all a part of the same garden. Like flowers, on the surface we have different petals, different leaves. Some of us require more water and some of us require less, but we are all flowers. We all require care and attention and I truly believe we can make it so.

I dream of a world where we all work together to take care of each other. A world where we seek to understand our kith and kin. A world where we remember we have more in common than we might believe. A world where we realize there is no “other,” only us.

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

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Permanent, Unwavering Shelter



My apartment building is up for sale. Suffice to say, I'm freaking out about it because I'm worried I'll have to move. To be clear, the building hasn't been sold yet, there's no evidence to support my anxiety, but it's here nonetheless. It's here because finding a place to live has proved challenging for me. I've moved 31 times in 33 years. From 2012 to 2015, I moved on average every three months. Something always forced me out – my landlady's dog biting me and drawing blood, bad neighbors, an inhospitable landlady, etc. It's always been something out of my control so my current situation is resurrecting a lot of trauma because this, too, is out of my control.

I spoke with a friend on Friday and she reminded me that even if I bought a house, something could happen like a wildfire or flooding. Those are real scenarios as we've all seen. There's no absolute certainty, no guaranteed safety, and for an anxious person, that's the last thing I want to contemplate. My friend and my therapist remind me real safety comes from the ability to respond to a situation. To pivot as necessary. Safety means rolling with the punches.

Not my house but I like the mix of something steadfast with a home. Photo by Seth kane on Unsplash.

Right now I'd rather not roll with the punches, thank you very much. Right now I'd like to hide away under the covers and withdraw from the world. I don't particularly want to write this blogpost either but I am because this is what I do, I write. I also know there are many people who feel similarly – maybe not about housing, but about something else.

Where do I go from here? From here, I fall back on my spiritual practices, where I always go. According to my spiritual philosophy there is an unchanging, absolute, eternal entity. Some people call that entity God or Cosmic Consciousness or Source or the Universe. The name doesn't matter so much. My meditation is an effort to move ever closer to that unchanging, absolute, eternal entity and then to merge with it. One of the names for this practice in Sanskrit is Iishvara prańidhána. Iishvara means controller of the universe and prańidhána means to adopt something as a shelter. Therefore, Iishvara prańidhána means to adopt the controller of the universe as a shelter. It means to take refuge in the controller of the universe. That sounds academic, I know, but in essence it means to align myself with the divine.

What does that mean about my fear surrounding housing? It means one way to deal with the fear is to put myself in the Cosmic flow, to allow myself to be sheltered by something bigger than me. To accept the protection of my higher power with the nuance that bad things happen and good things happen and through it all I have a permanent, unwavering shelter.

I dream of a world where we take permanent shelter in something bigger than us. A world where we recognize certainty doesn't come from things staying rigid but rather shoring up our internal strength and resilience to respond to stimuli. A world where we recognize there is an unchanging entity we can attach ourselves to and that's where real security lies.

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

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Minor Miracles



Something miraculous happened in my life recently. Not an Old Testament kind of miracle – no parting of the Red Sea or a burning bush. Nor have I received the modern-day version of a miracle where after one visit to one doctor I walked away cured. No, my miracles all arose after slow and steady progress. My miracles are of the incremental variety, but no less astounding.

For the past seven years almost to the day, I've struggled with sleep. Every day I woke up with brain fog, feeling like a zombie. I tried all of the things – diet, exercise, acupuncture, EFT, reiki, shamanic healing, ozone therapy, sleeping pills. Nothing made a huge difference. I still woke up every morning with what felt like cotton in my brain. I went through many, many cycles of hope and despair. I spent thousands of dollars searching for a cure. The sleep deprivation became so unbearable I took time off from work and slept in every day for weeks. It made no difference.

In July I did a sleep study, not expecting much. It felt like grasping at straws, another chance to try one more thing and at the very least see what was happening with my sleep. At first glance, the sleep study didn't reveal much. In fact, the sleep clinic sent me a form letter advising I cut out alcohol, which is laughable because I don't drink, ever. The sleep clinic professionals shrugged their shoulders and sent me on my merry way. I couldn't accept that answer. Didn't accept that answer. Even though the sleep study revealed I have mild sleep apnea, not enough for a CPAP machine, obviously something wasn't right. How could it be if I couldn't remember the last time I slept well?

I called a few sleep specialists and booked an appointment. I want to be clear here no intuitive voice urged me to call a certain doctor. I didn't receive a nudge from the universe about any of this. I struck out in desperation. The sleep specialist diagnosed me with upper airway resistance syndrome, which is a close cousin of sleep apnea. Whereas in apnea breathing stops, with upper airway resistance syndrome, breathing is impaired. I've been wearing the device pictured below for more than two weeks and for the first time in seven years, when I wake up, I don't feel like I have cotton in the brain.

The yellow arrow points to the "wing" that keeps my jaw pushed forward, opening my airway.

I want to be clear here that I'm still tired. I still take a nap every day. I didn't wake up after one night of using the device full of energy. It will be a slow build but I'm feeling different and that's a miracle. Why am I telling you all this? For a couple of reasons. The first is if you or someone you know is tired all the time and has trouble sleeping, get a sleep study. The second reason I'm sharing all this is to say keep slogging away. You never know when change will happen.

Lastly, I share this story because it doesn't fit in with any sort of mythology. I didn't find what I was looking for when I stopped looking. Change didn't happen when I accepted my situation. I didn't hear any intuitive guidance steering me in a certain direction. Surrender didn't help me with my diagnosis. What helped me, what brought me peace of mind, is thinking perhaps everything has a lifecycle. That my health condition had to play itself out and there was no amount of wishing, praying, fighting, or accepting that was going to change the situation. Like I wrote about in June, regarding my poppies, we can water flowers and give them sunshine, but when they bloom is not up to us. Maybe a lot of things in life are like that. Maybe there's no formula to follow and instead we have to wait for whatever it is to play out.

I know it can be disheartening for some to contemplate how little control we have over certain situations, but I'm also writing to demonstrate change can happen and does happen. That a miracle can come at anytime. It could be seven years, or it could be seven minutes, but please, please keep going. I'm starting to cry because I struggled for so long, I honestly gave up hope that I would ever be able to feel well-rested ever again and now here we are. Well-rested is something quite likely in my future and that is a miracle.

I dream of a world where we realize miracles can happen at any time. A world where we keep going and then stop and then keep going again. A world where we recognize sometimes we just have to wait for things to change and not beat ourselves up about it. A world where we celebrate miracles, even when they're small.

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

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Life/Death/Life Cycle



Life and death have been on my mind lately because two people in my community have died in the past three weeks. I notice in myself and others a tendency to ward off death as much as possible. We do what we can to prolong life because we fear death. Not only death in the physical realm, but in other arenas as well. We stay in dysfunctional relationships, jobs we hate, cities we loathe. We avoid going to therapy or addressing our addictions. We do all this because endings are scary, even if we know they're warranted.

Right now I'm reading Clarissa Pinkola Estés' Women Who Run With the Wolves. In it she addresses the wild woman archetype and tells stories to illustrate certain concepts. One of the more famous ones is the ugly duckling tale. The story that speaks to me the most right now is that of the Skeleton Woman. Click the link for an animated version of the story, but the abbreviated version is a fisherman hooks a skeleton woman and not realizing she is caught on his line, tries to run from her. He bumps along the land with the woman on his tail and dives into his hovel thinking he's safe. Alas, it is not so. She is inside his home, limbs akimbo. In the candlelight he takes pity on her, untangling her from his line, righting her limbs. Then he falls asleep and a tear leaks from the corner of his eye, which the Skeleton Woman drinks up thirstily. While he's still sleeping, she pulls out his heart, holds it in her hand and flesh is drummed back onto her bones. She becomes a human again. She returns his heart and then falls asleep next to him, and “that is how they awakened, wrapped one around the other, tangled from their night, in another way now, a good and lasting way.”

Whenever we catch something new, the Skeleton Woman is on the end of the hook. Photo by Lim changwon on Unsplash

Estés asserts for any relationship to survive and thrive, people must reckon with Lady Death, which is what the Skeleton Woman represents. They must welcome her into their home, tend to her, make peace with her in order to breathe life into something new. I think the principle applies not only to relationships, but all things. We must make peace with the fact a beginning will have an ending, followed by another beginning. I constantly forget that. When I experience an ending, some part of me still tries to hold on, as I wrote about last week.

On Saturday, I witnessed first-hand new life springing from death. I attended a grief ritual where I cried with others as they held me and I held them. I cried for someone I barely knew and I cried for things I couldn't articulate. I bonded with people I only know in passing and felt a new closeness to them. All around me I observed a deepening of love for each other. A group of people that otherwise likely wouldn't have met. I viewed new life springing from tragedy. Do I wish we'd met in another context? Absolutely. And at the same time, death helped create something new. The more I give into and accept the life/death/life cycle, the more serene I feel. The less scared I am of the future and what could happen because I understand death will always bring something new.

I dream of a world where we embrace the life/death/life cycle. A world where we no longer fear death as something permanent and final, but instead see it as the precursor to something new. A world where we mourn, we grieve, and we accept we'll always have to confront death in some form or fashion. But it doesn't have to be as scary as we are led to believe.

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

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Letting Go



All week I've bobbed along on an ocean of grief, coming in and out of numbness. Another community member of mine died, a monk from my yoga and meditation group. He had cancer so it wasn't altogether unexpected, but still sad. I cried when I first heard the news and then I thought I was over it. Until I noticed I checked my email, facebook, and instagram a million times trying to dodge my grief. How I wanted to escape my life and be in someone else's. Who wants to feel grief? Grief sucks.

In texting with a friend, I realized I have resistance to grieving, not only about this monk, but other losses in my life, because if I do, that means I've fully let go. It's a real and final goodbye. And in order to keep the person a presence in my life, I've tried to block my feelings. Like a child who says, “If I don't say goodbye to you then you can't leave, right?” But they have and can and do. Whether I say goodbye or not doesn't matter. And even when I do say goodbye, even when I know a person is knocking on death's door, it still doesn't mean I'm ready to bid them adieu. Is anyone ever truly ready to say goodbye to someone?

"Becoming the ocean" is no easy task. Photo by Ngaere Woodford-Bender on Unsplash.

When I was much younger, I remember trying to comfort my dad after someone died. I tried to console him with the notion that we're all still connected. That just because a person has left their physical body doesn't mean the relationship has severed. Nor does it mean we won't reunite, especially as he and I believe in reincarnation. I'll never forget, he countered with, “Yeah, but we'll never meet each other again in this life.” That's what grief is; recognizing and honoring that loss. No amount of saying, “You'll see each other again,” can sidestep the loss.

So I'm crying in fits and spurts. I'm also contemplating what my spiritual teacher said about the dissolution of ego. How many people are scared of merging with something bigger than themselves because they view it as annihilation. To describe the process he uses the metaphor of a salt doll and the sea. He says, “If a salt doll goes to measure the sea, it will melt into it. Neither can it measure the sea, nor will it ever return; its existence will merge into the vastness of the sea, releasing it from all cares and worries. If one wishes to take the form of the sea, one will have to become the sea itself; there is no other way.”

If I wish to continue progressing in this life, I have to become the sea itself. I have to let go. To feel the feelings that I'm blocking. And in doing so, I'll come upon something bigger than me. The salt doll becomes the ocean. Perhaps the grief I feel is carrying me toward something else, something bigger that I'm unaware of. And instead of the loss of my friends as final, maybe I'm traveling to a place altogether new. I'm not sure. Only time will tell.

I dream of a world where we allow ourselves to grieve the dead. A world where we realize the relationship changes into something new. A world where we surrender to the process we're undertaking and allow ourselves to be swept away, letting go of the old and embracing the new.

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

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Bighearted



On Tuesday, I found out someone in one of my circles committed suicide. I didn't know him well; we had a total of three interactions, but his death shocked me and shook me. All week I found myself crying for someone I barely knew. Hurting because people I am closer to are hurting. It pains me to see others in pain.

All week I've battled with myself because my tears don't make much logical sense. Shawn and I talked about books. We didn't swap secrets and peer into each other's souls. How can I feel so sad about this death? In part it's because I lost a community member, but also it's because I'm empathic, sensitive, bighearted.

A heart so big it lights up the sky. Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Growing up, I heard over and over again that I'm too sensitive, that I'm too emotional. I heard it so much I internalized it and now when I have big feelings, I judge myself for them. I want my emotions to match up to logic but oftentimes they do not. I realize sensitivity is a gift, but I still resist my feelings. I still want them to make sense, but they don't. My therapist and other people tell me over and over again, “Just feel them. You don't have to understand them. Just feel them.” Easier said than done. Easier said than done when feeling them means crying on the floor of my bedroom typing on my computer. Easier said than done when feeling them means sitting with the things I'm scared of instead of trying to talk myself out of feeling afraid.

When it comes down to it, I harbor a sense of shame about my sensitivity. I think there's something wrong with me that I feel so much, so deeply. That I “should” be able to toughen up, to grow a thicker skin, to somehow become a different person. Friends, I have tried! With much earnestness I've tried, and yet here we are. There are certain things about us that are immutable and I'm understanding my big heart is one of them. I'm doing a lot of work on self-soothing and becoming my own emotional rock, but that doesn't mean my feelings evaporate. All I'm left with is the choice to accept this is me, which is something I think Shawn would approve of.

Again, I didn't know him well, but I'm reading memories and tributes to Shawn all over facebook and one of the things people write over and over again is how seen they felt by him. How loved. How accepted. In his death, maybe that's something I can give to myself. I think he'd want that.

I dream of a world where we love and accept all parts of ourselves. A world where we feel our feelings even when they don't seem to make sense. A world where we understand sometimes our feelings won't match up with our brains. A world where we realize sensitivity is a gift and that it's OK to be bighearted.

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

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Grace in Limitation



The other day in an email to my recovery mentor I wrote, “There is grace in limitation.” My eyes about bugged out of my head. I couldn't believe I wrote that because I'm all about freedom, innovation, and unencumbered roaming, yet as I typed it, I realized it's true.

From my perspective, U.S. culture lionizes pushing boundaries, tearing down walls, unhindered growth. All of that has its place, but so does maintaining boundaries, erecting walls, and hindered growth. I think about shoes. When my sister and I were little, we used to play dress up and wear our mother's shoes. We clattered around in her too-big high heels, but we couldn't competently walk in them. Her shoes contained too much space for our feet. In order to not trip over ourselves, we have to wear shoes that are only slightly bigger than our feet. We all need some limits.

I like the life within these shoes. Seems fitting for this post. Photo by Mika on Unsplash

Right now I'm living in the land of limits. My sleep is still terrible, my energy is still low. I'm possibly on a precipice of change but I don't know for sure. I'm still in limbo, waiting to find out. And instead of rebelling against my situation like I normally do, for this week anyway I'm recognizing there is grace here too.

The message to me right now seems to be, “It's OK to go slow. It's OK to rest. It's OK to take things easy, for life to be small.” I'm not zooming ahead. I'm not initiating new projects or learning new things. I'm sitting still and letting that be allowed.

I know I've mentioned this before, but my spiritual teacher characterizes movement as systaltic, like a heartbeat. A pulse. He said, “Now everything moves and that movement is of systaltic nature. Wherever there is any movement there is pulsation. Without pulsation there cannot be any movement. And this pulsation, that is movement through speed and pause, is an essential factor for each and every animate or inanimate object. Wherever there is existential factor there must be this pulsation. An entity acquires strength and stamina during the pause phase, and emanates vibration during the speed period. There cannot however, be any absolute speed or absolute pause in the created world.”

My takeaway from that is no matter what phase we're in – speed or pause – is natural, normal. There is no period that's wasted or bad or however else I sometimes think of the pause. The pause is just as crucial as the sprint because that's where strength and stamina are acquired. There is grace here. There is good here. There is God here.

I dream of a world where we remember all phases of life are natural and normal. A world where we recognize the good in pausing, in stopping, in waiting. A world where we realize pausing is a crucial part of life. A world where we realize there is grace in limitation.

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

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The World is Mostly Good



I feel vulnerable writing this post because the issue is alive in me. I haven't moved past it. I can't tie it up in a neat bow. I'm sharing though because this is the only topic that came to mind to write about, and also I know there are other people who feel the way I do. I'm hopeful my experience will help.

I am deeply unsettled by the murder of Nia Wilson from a few weeks ago. It speaks to one of my worst fears – a random act of violence. (I should mention here police don't know for sure it was random. It could have been racially motivated but the murderer didn't say one word to her or her sisters before attacking. Also, women of color experience higher rates of this kind of violence because the consequences are lower.) As for me, instead of viewing strangers as friends I haven't met yet, I view strangers as people who mean me harm. In public I am constantly on guard. And considering Nia was murdered while at a BART station that I frequent, I'm more fearful than usual.

A sweet picture that I hope conveys my sentiments. Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

My therapist suggested I acknowledge the fear and remind myself what I can control. I'm in control of my breath, of whether I eat or not. I'm in control of how clean I am, etc. It helps me to think about those things. It also helps to remind myself my perspective is skewed.

This weekend I attended the San Francisco Aerial Arts festival, which was glorious. I went by myself and rode public transportation all the way there and back. Doing so I realized the vast majority of people don't care about me one way or another. The vast majority are neutral. If I don't bother them, they won't bother me. Also at the performance, the sash from my trench coat trailed to the ground and a woman tapped me on the back to tell me so. She demonstrated to me while the vast majority of people are neutral, the remainder of people are good. They want to help. They care about complete strangers and will tell you if you drop something. And then a small minority of people wish me harm. Often it's not personal and I could easily be swapped out for someone else.

Am I still reeling from the random act of violence? Yes I am. Do I still want to barricade myself in my apartment? Yes I do. And I have to reconcile those feelings with another truth: The world is delightful. People dance on the side of buildings. People sing so well they move me to tears. People paint something that engrosses me for hours. The world is wonderful and terrible. It's beautiful and hideous. I wish that wasn't so but it is. All that I can do is what anyone can do, which is continuing to be a good person. To serve others where I can, to stand up for injustice, to sow love instead of hatred, and do my part to leave the world better than when I entered it.

I dream of a world where we remember the world is more good than it is bad. A world where we realize most people are neutral, and those that aren't are more likely good people than people who want to hurt us. A world where we help others according to our capacity.

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

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Dream versus Delusion



I read an article in my university's alumni magazine the other day about Andre Ingram, who at 32 became a rookie for the LA Lakers. Reading his story I teared up because the whole thing seems so surreal, so unlikely.

Since he was 8, Andre dreamed of playing for the NBA. He played in high school and then at our university. Once he graduated, he toiled for years in the NBA's minor league. And I do mean toiled – he made $13,000 for the entire season in the minor leagues, which is less than what NBA players make for a couple of games. He tutored kids in math while his wife also worked. He says he thought about quitting several times, and some friends advised the same, or to find a better payday overseas. But he persisted.

This picture seemed appropriate. Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

“Every time I was ready to jump off that ledge something pulled me back,” he said. “Whether it was in training, when I'm hitting every shot I take, or in the weight room getting encouraged by the guys. My story is to let that voice, let that encouragement, pull you back in.”

Andre is the oldest American rookie in the NBA since 1964. His story fascinates me because at what point does a person give up on their dream? Sometimes a dream is a delusion. We've all seen those auditions on TV where someone thinks they're an amazing singer or dancer and they have zero talent. To the rest of the world, it's obvious the person will never be a star, but they can't believe it. At what point is it harmful to keep believing a dream? At what point is it better to let it go? I don't have the answers to those questions. I'm sure many people told Andre it was unlikely he'd ever play in the NBA. A 32-year-old with gray hairs competing against people 10 years his junior? What are the odds he could share the court with them? But it happened.

What struck me the most about Andre's story is that quote I shared about how something kept pulling him back. Every time he wanted to quit, something kept him from doing it. That to me reeks of intuition, which my spiritual teacher defines as a reflection of consciousness or spirit. Just like a mirror, the reflection can become cloudy, but the more we connect to consciousness or spirit, the clearer the reflection will be.

Again, I don't have all the answers, but it seems to me if something keeps coming up over and over again, it's likely intuition. But if I get an idea in my head and convince myself it's true despite all evidence to the contrary, it's likely delusion. It seems to me there's a fine line between a dream and a delusion. Perhaps the joy of being human is figuring it out. Sometimes we're disappointed but sometimes we're ecstatic. The thrill is finding out which we'll experience.

I dream of a world where we walk the fine line between pursuing our dreams and dropping our delusions. A world where we keep going when something reels us back in. A world where we understand something may seem out of reach, but that doesn't always mean it is.

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

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Celebration!



As of July 30, “Another World is Probable” is ten years old! I have written a post once a week nearly every week for TEN YEARS. When I started, I had no idea I would keep it up for that long. Nor did I think I'd have so much to say. It turns out when you write about yourself and the world around you, there is plenty of material.

I also have to admit many times I thought about discontinuing the blog because I wondered if anyone cared. Was anyone reading this thing? What has kept me going is hearing from readers and listeners. I'll be honest, in the past few years what's helped a lot is people who contribute to my patreon campaign or who donate via paypal. Because even if no one says anything via comments, emails, or facebook, at least I know some people find enough worth in what I have to say to donate money to me on a regular basis. Thank you for that. Thank you for reading. Thank you for listening. Thank you for telling me over the phone or in person how much something I wrote touched you. When I hear from you, I'm reminded why I started this blog in the first place, which was to spread hope, inspiration, and offer perspective. To that end, I thought it would be fun to share the first post I ever wrote. It's what follows:

If you watch the news today (or any day really) you would think the apocalypse is right around the corner. I don’t share this viewpoint because I am an optimist. Not only do I think the world has the potential to become a better place, it is a better place.

Ten years! Woohoo! Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
When I was a child in the early 90’s, I was the only vegetarian in my entire school. Now vegetarianism is, dare I say it, fashionable. The reason I bring this up is because vegetarianism as a lifestyle is better for your health and for the environment, so the fact vegetarianism has become more popular is proof people are becoming more awake. It’s proof the world is becoming a better place because people are starting to understand we cannot continue as we have. People are becoming more open to alternatives that are better for them and for the world. And it’s not just the hippies in the big cities. Vegetarianism is growing even in Middle America. Food Lion, Giant, Safeway, and other big grocery stores are stocking meat alternatives. The natural-grocery giant Whole Foods is still growing and prospering.

Not only are more people starting to become vegetarian, but “going green” or trying to be environmentally friendly is all the rage. Project Runway just had an episode where the challenge was to use “green” fabrics or environmentally sustainable materials. Project Runway was nominated for an Emmy — it’s not some public access channel show. It’s mainstream. And it’s advocating being environmentally friendly!

I remember as a child my parents taught me about global warming, about how it’s necessary to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Roughly 15 years later, instead of still being a part of a fringe group, I find myself being in the majority. That’s incredible to me. Also, more and more grocery stores are stocking canvas bags people can reuse (perhaps all of them, I’m not sure, I haven’t been to every grocery store). And even though not everyone is using a canvas tote, the fact the totes exist is a cause for celebration. It means people are taking steps toward a better world. One where we are more aware of our actions, our choices, and our responsibilities toward one another. All of this inspires me.

When I look around I don’t see doom and gloom. I see hope and possibility and change. I see people starting to understand their actions have consequences, that what they do affects the world on a global scale. I’m starting to see more acceptance, more tolerance, more compassion. I’m starting to see that another world is not only possible, but it’s here.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

What Goes Around Comes Around



Right now I'm editing a re-translation of a philosophy book for my yoga and meditation group. It's engrossing stuff (for me) because I'm curious about how the world works. I'm always interested in the “why” of everything and this book is answering many questions. One of the tenets, which is also a law of nature, is that for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. Something I find fascinating is the book talks about how inescapable that is.

My spiritual teacher says some people will pray to escape the consequences of their actions, or perform rituals to appeal to the gods, but it's not possible. All that can happen is a delay, like paying back a loan. You can set the terms for 18 months or three years, but the loan will be repaid. Also, for the purposes of this post I won't address miracles, like when a person was supposed to die but their life was saved. I'm speaking in general terms about how both good and bad, our actions have consequences.

Globes seemed like the perfect image to illustrate this post. Photo by Duangphorn Wiriya on Unsplash

In looking at our current president, I see life catching up to him. The noose is tightening around his neck, so to speak. The evidence continues to mount regarding Russia meddling with the U.S. election to place him into power. Trump is being exposed for all his wrongdoings like laundering money, assaulting women, etc. In some ways it seems like he's untouchable because we've known these things for years, and yet he remains not only free, but still in power. It boggles the mind, and personally, boils my blood.

I'm reminded here that what goes around comes around. One of the other things the philosophy book mentions is that not all consequences manifest during the lifetime in which they incurred, meaning sometimes they manifest in another life. However, no one is invulnerable. No one can escape their fate, no matter how many people they pay off.

I realize this post isn't very sunshine-y but that's where I'm at today, feeling somber. I'm thinking about how people, myself included, want to lie for self-preservation. How it's easier to say, “I didn't do that,” rather than admit the truth and deal with the repercussions. The repercussions aren't always fun, but they will catch up to us eventually. That's why my spiritual teacher cautions taking good actions. Good actions result in good consequences and bad actions result in bad consequences.

In the short term we may benefit from lying, cheating, and stealing, but in the long run we will not. I'm reminded of that quote from John Wesley who said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” Words to live by.

I dream of a world where we realize our actions have consequences. A world where we understand we can't run away from repercussions. A world where we try our best to do all the good we can by all the means we can. A world where we remember what goes around comes around and we act accordingly.

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

Sunday, July 15, 2018

No One is Replaceable



Almost exactly a year ago, my coworker died unexpectedly. The news hit me harder than I anticipated, particularly because we weren't close. Now a year later, my heart still twinges with grief. My company has long since replaced him – someone new writes for us – but in reality people are not like auto parts and therefore not replaceable.

I notice in American culture we tend to believe the opposite; we commodify others, especially in the context of romantic relationships. How often do we say to someone after a breakup, “You'll meet someone new”? As if the new person will act like putty and exactly fill the vacant space? I realize it comes from a well-meaning place, but Eric's death shows me how not true this perspective is, for me anyway. We hired someone to literally fulfill all the duties Eric left open, but the new guy is no Eric. He performs his job well, but he's not a replica of Eric.

People are not mechanical parts. Photo by Aaron Barnaby on Unsplash.

Going back to dating, I notice the same thing – I still miss certain things about my exes. Each new man brought something different to the table, but they didn't erase the person before. Instead of acting like putty, each person has a place in my heart that is theirs and theirs alone, but they share the space with others. No one is forgotten, and no one is replaced, including me. Up until about two years ago, I feared once I died it would be like I never existed, which I think stemmed from inherited family trauma. On my mom's side, almost all of my relatives were killed in the Holocaust. Entire swathes of my family are a big question mark. In some ways, it's like they never existed because I know nothing about them, but it's not true: They did exist.

Even though I don't know the names of my distant relatives, they still existed. They still impacted the people around them, including those who survived. And their loss still left a mark. Eric's loss still leaves a mark. It always will because he's not some cog in a wheel I throw away once it stops functioning.

My spiritual teacher says, “If one ant meets a premature death, it will disturb the balance of the entire cosmos. Therefore, nothing here is unimportant, not even an ant.” I don't think I fully imbibed that statement before. Today I understand it on a whole new level – how each and every being is important, significant. Even the overlooked and often maligned ant is precious, loved, important. Each person, each relationship, be it personal or professional, is special. It's a disservice to ourselves and others to pretend differently.

I dream of a world where we realize each person is irreplaceable. A world where we realize each relationship occupies a place in our heart. A world where we understand every living being is important and precious.

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

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Love Among Hate



On Saturday, I cried while sitting in my bathtub reading a fictional book set during World War II. The characters are imaginary, but the circumstances are not. I cried thinking about the atrocities that my own grandparents endured, and I cried thinking about the atrocities people continue to endure. Even now, children sit in jails, unwashed, covered in lice. Thank goodness a lawsuit is underway, but still. Why do we do this to each other?

According to my spiritual philosophy, people reincarnate. And not only do they reincarnate, they evolve. Evolve from what? They start from the simplest organism and get progressively more complex until finally reaching human form. What that means on a practical level is some people are only one step removed from animals. Some people are still guided by their baser instincts and unable to access higher levels of their consciousness. Before someone sends me an email and says many animals behave better than some human beings, I will say, yes, you are correct. Many animals, especially domesticated ones, shows high levels of compassion and love. Wild animals though? Not as common.

I like how hearts permeate the darkness here. Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash.

It would be easy to say some human beings just aren't as evolved and leave it at that, but human beings are complicated. It's not only about evolution, but also about what propensities, or vrttis, we choose to engage with. Some people derive pleasure from cruelty and hatred. In New Age circles, people liken this to operating from the lower chakras, or energy centers. However, in my spiritual tradition, that's a little too simplistic. Almost every chakra point has positives and negatives. For instance, the throat chakra is associated not only with sweet expression, but vitriolic expression as well. We all have the capacity for both good and evil within us.

Why am I bringing this up? I'm suggesting the importance of holding on to our empathy. We've all seen movies where the tortured become the torturers. Where victims become perpetrators. I'm not suggesting good and moral people of the world just “be nice” to neo-Nazis and their ilk and hope the ensuing treatment will change their minds. I'm not a pacifist by any means. I firmly believe in the use of force when necessary. However, I also think it's important to not fuel hatred within ourselves. To remember we are all human beings, worthy and deserving of love and respect. For instance, even prisons should be like a reform school, according to my spiritual teacher. And the person in charge should be a teacher who is trained in psychology and who has genuine love for society.

Why does he say this? I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing it's because merely turning one group of people after another into inferior beings merely perpetuates the abuse cycle. There's that famous poem from Martin Niemöller about how first they came for the socialists and he did not speak out because he was not a socialist, and then eventually they came for him and there was no one left to speak for him. Not only does he suggest speaking up for others, but he demonstrates how hatred travels from group to group.

What I'd like to see is a world where we halt hatred in its tracks. A world where we remember all human beings, regardless of their race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, etc., are human beings. A world where we treat each person as a sibling, a member of our universal family. A world where we take corrective action, but we do it with love in our hearts. A world where we sow love among hate.

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

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Uneven Progress



I am depleted today so I'm recycling this post from June 2016.

I have to admit, I’m disheartened by the state of the world. I’m not feeling optimistic in the face of the bigotry, sexism, and xenophobia that seem to be crawling all over the place like beetles darting out from an overturned log. Right now the world seems bleak and due to become bleaker.

However, at times like these it’s important to gain some perspective. As you know, I’m a fan of astrology, particularly archetypal astrology, which is articulated in the book Cosmos and Psyche. One of the things I enjoy about the book is it offers a historical look at our world through the lens of astrology. A part that’s pertinent is the reminder that every period of advancement is followed by conservative backlash. For instance, 1960-1972 was a period of empowerment, an eruption of the revolutionary impulse in virtually every area of human activity, and then the early 80s brought a systematic backlash of all the various movements that dominated the 60s.

 It's unsteady, but it's still progress. Photo by Rita Morais on Unsplash.

My spiritual teacher says something similar: “[M]ovements are systaltic. If the phase of contraction is made more stringent by the application of force, a forward galloping jump occurs in the following phase of expansion. Evolution which takes place as a result of this forward galloping jump is properly called revolution. Similarly, if the phase of expansion is prolonged by the application of force, then the following phase of contraction will undergo greater inertia.”

When I look at even our most recent history I see that to be true. We are like a great hulking Frankenstein’s monster lurching toward the horizon. One foot is progressive and one foot is conservative, but each foot steps forward at one point or another. However, the monster is still always advancing, albeit unevenly. Overall, we as a society are progressing. It’s hard to see that sometimes in the face of all the ick we’re experiencing, but when I look back, I also know it to be true. As a woman, I still have more freedoms than my grandmother, and even my mother had. Yes, there’s still a lot of sexism to be sure, but overall things are progressing.

I’m going to quote my teacher again who says, “There are some people who are pessimistic. They say that the society around us is very bleak … Pessimists say this because they have never made any detailed study of human history, nor do they care to. Had they done so, they would certainly be optimistic, because if they had looked carefully at the symptoms of pause, they would have realized that significant preparations were being made for the subsequent phase of speed. So under no circumstances should human beings be pessimistic. That is why I am always an incorrigible optimist, because I know that optimism is life.”

Right now I’m honing in on the part about the subsequent phase of speed. Yes, right now things are not so great, but I’m reminding myself this is the cycle of life. Movements surge and then die. And right now I need to keep focusing on the progress that is being made and will continue to be made. I need to keep dreaming about the future because like us, while Frankenstein’s monster may progress unevenly, he does progress.

I dream of a world where we remember the history of human society is one of expansion followed by contraction. A world where we remember despite how it may look at any given moment, we are advancing. A world where we realize an uneven gait may not equal a sprint, but it’s still a step forward and that’s all that counts.

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

Sunday, June 24, 2018

And Then There's a Bloom



I want to live in the fast lane. I don't mean snorting cocaine and spending money like there's no tomorrow. I mean I want things to happen quickly like fire – swift, consuming, noticeable. Instead, things happen like a seed planted in dirt – slow, unassuming, subtle.

Here's a true story: In January, I planted California poppy seeds. In March, everyone else's poppies started to bloom. Mine did not. I checked my poppies frequently, searching for signs of buds. Each day I stared at verdant green leaves, but no hints of orange. Finally, in about mid-May, the first bud appeared and then suddenly, a flower. It thrilled me to see orange after so many months of waiting. I beamed from ear to ear and pride swelled within me. But note, it took months, MONTHS, for my poppies to catch up to everyone else's.

Seemed apropos. Not my poppy, but mine looked just like this.

Right now, I feel like those poppies, behind the times. Many of my friends are progressing in their lives. They're buying houses, getting married, having babies, starting businesses. They are dating new people, starting new jobs. Things are not perfect – I am privy to their challenges as well as triumphs – but stuff is happening in their lives. The same is not true for me. Instead, I am a poppy plant with no hint of a bud.

A part of me thinks something is wrong that I'm not cycling with my peers. I'm not blooming while they are. However, I'm reminded of what my spiritual teacher said regarding movement. Movement is systaltic, like a heart beat. Do you know how a heart pumps blood? I learned this ages ago in AP bio. A heart is like a syringe – it fills up with blood, pauses at fullness, and then pushes all the blood out. In all of life, we experience this cycle. It's the natural order of things to expand, pause, and contract.

I think I'm still in the expanding phase. I haven't reached fullness yet. I'm still pulling nutrients from the soil. When I look at those around me, it's hard not to compare myself with them. I know, I know, comparison is the thief of joy. I know compare usually leads to despair. I know I'm not doing myself any favors by comparing my life to anyone else's, yet, I'm doing it anyway. It's hard not to. When I think about my poppies, when I think about life being systaltic, I feel a smidge better because I'm reminded I am in my own cycle. It may take longer for things to bloom, but that doesn't mean they won't.

I dream of a world where we remember we each have our own cycles. A world where we realize sometimes things happen quickly and sometimes things happen slowly. A world where we realize there's not much we can do about timing other than to take the required action and let go of the rest. And then one day, we'll look and see a bloom.

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

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Truth Will Set Us Free



A few weeks ago I flew back to North Carolina. I visited the place of my childhood and found everything to be slightly familiar, but altogether vastly different. My childhood home burned down and in its place stood tall trees, grass, and shrubs. My elementary school also no longer exists. My favorite place (the library, of course), closed and moved to a new location. Walking around I couldn't comprehend all the changes because in my mind, things stayed exactly the same. It's a dangerous thing to only live in your head and not see reality for what it is.

I think part of what we're experiencing here in the U.S. is the dichotomy of delusion and reality. On one side, we have people (like those in power) who lie ceaselessly, who convince themselves something is true when it's false. My sister reminded me during our North Carolina visit that we live in a post-truth world. That's why we have such a thing as fake news. It's nothing new, propaganda has existed for ages, but now we're seeing it more and we're fighting it more. It's important for me as a journalist and a yogi to stick to the truth as closely as possible.

Searched for "truth" and this is one of the pix that came up. Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash.

In Sanskrit, the unchangeable entity is Sat. The external manifestation of Sat is satya, or benevolent truthfulness. My spiritual teacher said, “Only satya or truth triumphs and not falsehood. Whenever there is a clash between truth and untruth, truth’s victory is inevitable. … Untruth, being a moving phenomenon, may attain a temporary victory on its march, but never a permanent one. … Falsehood does not win because it is relative, it is ever-changing.”

I bring this up because I think it's important to acknowledge a truth about the United States. With every atrocious thing spewing from the current administration, people say, “This isn't the real U.S. This isn't the U.S. I know and love.” Oh, but it is my friends.

As much as we don't like to admit it, the United States was founded on horrors similar to what we're seeing now. We decimated Native American tribes. We regularly separated black people from their families under the guise of economic progress. Our country, the land of the free and the home of the brave, always carried a footnote, which is those things were true only for some. Our current president is carrying on the imperialist tradition. That's not to say all Americans feel the way he does. It's also not to say the U.S. hasn't made great strides in equality for people of color, for women, for various sexual orientations, etc., because it has. But it would be disingenuous to say the behavior of the people in power in the current administration is “un-American.”

What does this have to do with my visit to North Carolina? Being there I gained more perspective of my past and was able to see a fuller picture. I finally saw the truth, and as the saying goes, the truth set me free. I'm grieving all that I lost, but first I had to see it. Until we collectively recognize our country's racism, sexism, and prejudice, we'll never be able to move forward. Until we see our true selves, our true past, we'll never be rid of it. We'll never be free.

My spiritual teacher is an optimist, and so am I. I know one day we will all be free. That no matter our immigration status, the color of our skin, our gender, our sexual orientation, or anything else, we will receive equal treatment. But first, we have to tell the truth.

I dream of a world where we remember the truth will prevail. A world where we stamp out falsehood and come to grips with reality. A world where all people are treated with love, kindness, and respect. A world where each person is valued for the beautiful and precious beings they are.

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

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Rarity of Human Life



I've been asking myself what can I contribute to the conversations surrounding Anthony Bourdain's and Kate Spade's suicides? Much has already been said about seeking help; how that's easier said than done what with costs and budget cuts; and instead of putting the onus on a depressed or suicidal person to reach out, to reach out when we see people struggling. I agree with all those things. And after reading an article in USA Today by Kirsten Powers about how we also have a cultural problem, I realize where I can contribute.

In her article, Powers asserts many people are struggling to find meaning and purpose in a society that values materialism. On top of that, many feel alone, isolated, and misunderstood. All of those factors play a part in suicide. I think the best thing I can do with this blogpost is to remind people, myself included, that we matter.

This picture makes sense once you read the next paragraph. Photo by Jack B on Unsplash.

According to a Buddhist text, one day the Buddha spoke to a group of monks. He said, “Monks, suppose that this great Earth were totally covered with water and a man were to toss a yoke with a single hole into the water. A wind from the west would push it east; a wind from the east would push it west; a wind from the north would push it south; a wind from the south would push it north. And suppose a blind sea turtle were there. It would come to the surface only once every 100 years.

Now what do you suppose the chances would be that a blind turtle, coming once to the surface every 100 years, would stick its neck into the yoke with a single hole?” And the monks answered, “It would be very unusual, sir, that a blind turtle coming to the surface once every 100 years would stick its neck into the yoke.” And the Buddha replied, “And just so, it is very, very rare that one attains the human state.”

That's pretty incredible if you think about it, and it reminds me my life is precious. That I'm even alive in human form is like winning the lottery. I'm further reminded of this because I know several people who struggle with infertility. Conceiving a child is not as easy as it may seem. In fact, in my own family, my parents tried to get pregnant for three years before my brother came along.

I also think about how both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain impacted people. The number of tweets, articles, and facebook comments from people mourning their deaths is staggering. No one exists in a vacuum. Everyone will be missed by someone, including a pet, when they die. That means your life, my life, it matters. It has worth and value and merit. It is not without meaning or purpose even if sometimes it feels that way. I don't know a lot of things, but I know we are all loved and we all matter.

I dream of a world where we realize how precious and rare our lives are. A world where we feel into how much we matter, how much we are loved. A world where we realize we impact people, sometimes without our knowledge. A world where we know when we die, we will be missed.

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

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Loved and Worthy



In my post the other week about fame, I said I'll be enough when I'm worthy. I've mulled that over the past few weeks, wondering how to feel worthy, particularly when tying worth to external achievements is no longer working for me. The only thing I've come up with thus far is to hear it from my internal, loving presence. What follows is a letter from that loving source to me.

My dear, you are loved and you are worthy. My love for you is not dependent on what you achieve or what you look like. My love for you is not even dependent on how you behave. I love you already. You are worthy, you have merit, solely because you are mine.

What a sweet picture, no? Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash.

When you were a child you played with dolls and you loved them dearly. They were precious not because they did anything, not because they treated you well, or won first place in a contest, but because they belonged to you. And the same is true about you. You belong to me and that makes you precious, that makes you loved, that makes you worthy.

You could spend the rest of your life sitting around the house, watching Netflix, never contributing anything ever again. You could spend the rest of your life snapping at every person you meet, thinking only of yourself and your needs. You could spend the rest of your life in obscurity. You could do all of those things and you'd still be loved and you'd still be worthy.

Your task now is to feel into that love and that worthiness. To know you are special because you are special to me. I want you to walk around confident of those two facts because they are facts. They will never change no matter what you do or how you behave. They are and will be persistent throughout your entire life. I love you.

I dream of a world where we all feel we are loved and we are worthy. A world where we give and receive that unconditional love to ourselves irrespective of what we look like, what we achieve, or how we behave. A world where we know we are precious just as we are.

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

Sunday, May 27, 2018

All is Well


I didn't sleep well last night so I'm recycling this blogpost from March 2014. It's a message I need to hear and I'm sure others do as well. It's a letter to me from my higher power. I'm defining my higher power as an unconditionally loving entity.

I love you. All is well. Your mind is caught up in many things – this and that – a lot of dramas that make life interesting, but in the end they don’t matter. All is well. All is love. Everything is working out the way it’s supposed to. Even your difficulties will pass eventually as you are progressing through your life, learning your lessons, and come more into the fullness of your being.

What a great photo, right? Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash.

Do not worry about how things will work out; just know they will work out. Do not live in the future where nothing is certain, nothing is guaranteed, and instead enjoy this moment of your life because there will never be another one like it. The future will take care of itself if you take care of yourself. Keep your thoughts optimistic and keep focusing on Me.

There are many things to distract you from realizing your goal, but remember the point of your life is not to acquire fame and wealth. Or kids and a partner. The point of your life is move closer to Me, toward spirit, toward love, toward the universe. The point of your life is to realize yourself not as you are now, but as you are meant to be – an incarnation of a cosmic entity. You are a divine and magnificent being full of wonder and love. Do not let yourself get bogged down by the trappings of human life because they too are an expression of Me.

You are on a path of love, of light, of truth. When you recall that, everything else will slip away because all is well. All is love. I love you and I am with you, now, forever, and always.

I dream of a world where we remember all is well. A world where we keep our minds pointed toward spirit. A world where we take care of ourselves and each other. A world where we detach from the dramas of today because we remember they, too, will pass. A world where we live in the fullness of our being because we know all is well.

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

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Life's Promises



For the past few weeks, maybe longer, resentment has burned in my belly as I've seethed at the circumstances of my life. Where are all the things I was promised? The riches, the partner, the good health? The refrain in my head is, “I'm 33! I'm not supposed to feel this way! I'm supposed to have more energy than this!” And then I ask myself, “Says who?”

It's a good question. Who told me life is supposed to be one way or another? Who said we're all promised wealth, health, and partnership if we desire partnership? When I think about it, I likely picked up that story from the media, which praises a life of luxury, or from someone trying to sell me something. Someone who promised me all my dreams would come true if I purchased their course or their book.

What are my life's promises? I'd like to read the contract again. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

When I look at my spiritual philosophy, my teacher never said life would be easy, filled with sunshine and roses. In fact, he praised difficulties as they become the fodder for spiritual development. He said, “Human beings have been drifting along through constant clash and cohesion amidst endless waves of physical and psychic diversities.” That means at times we'll encounter strife and at others we'll encounter harmony. It's unrealistic to think life will be easy all the time, because it won't. That's the nature of being alive.

I also think about what was actually promised to me, which is that I'll move closer to the divine. That's it. My teacher said, “Knowingly or unknowingly everyone is moving around [the Supreme entity]. Everyone is bound to move ... This movement is a natural propensity born out of love for [the Cosmic Consciousness].” We keep moving closer and closer until eventually we unify with that Cosmic entity, according to my spiritual tradition. But nowhere is it written I'll be thin, rich, pretty, and happily married.

When I take that perspective, I feel more at ease. It also makes all of my positive experiences even more precious. Nothing is promised to me, which gives me reason to cherish laughing with a friend or enjoying good food. Nothing is owed to me so it's a privilege I'm able breathe freely or walk unaided. I can't even count on the earth beneath my feet remaining solid, as a 3.5-magnitude earthquake reminded me the other day. Any thing can happen at any time, both good and bad. There are no guarantees in life other than once born we will die. For the time in between I'd like to see the good things in my life as gifts, to not take them for granted because they are not foregone conclusions.

I dream of a world where we realize there is no contract that stipulates we'll all have health and wealth. A world where we realize there aren't “supposed to's” or how we “should” be as people or what we “should” experience. A world where we remember life didn't promise us anything and that means what we go through is all the more precious.

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

Sunday, May 13, 2018

An Active Participant in My Fate


I think it's pretty clear I want to be famous. Not “get my picture taken while eating a hamburger in a car” famous, but “win awards and have people share my content” famous. I know fame doesn't make anyone happy, I know the goal of my life is not fame, I know aiming for fame goes against all of my spiritual beliefs, and yet it's still here.

I've wrestled with this aspect of myself for decades trying to reason with it, spin it, battle it, push it away. But it's still here. On Wednesday, I listened to a radio show loosely about surrender and I burst into tears because I finally accepted this part of me. To surrender means to stop fighting and I stopped fighting this aspect of myself. I also started journaling about it, asking why I care so much.

This picture is perfect. Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash.

I seek fame because I want to prove myself, I want to showcase my “enough-ness.” I spoke with a friend about this and he suggested I make a list of all the ways I'll finally be enough. I'll be enough when _____. I made my list: “I'll be enough when I'm a bestselling author. I'll be enough when I go on Oprah. I'll be enough when a celebrity retweets me.” I kept going until I reached the point when I wrote, “I'll be enough when I feel worthy.”

As if to hammer the point home, I listened to another radio show by Nancy Levin, who used to be the events coordinator at Hay House before she transitioned into writing and coaching. To paraphrase, she said nothing on the outside will make you feel worthy if you don't feel worthy on the inside. I know this. In fact, I've written this. But when I look back at my post on self-worth from nearly nine years, I hear a lot of judgment. A lot of dismissing. I didn't honor my desire then or now.

When I look at the basic philosophy of my spiritual tradition, I have more perspective. The philosophy states we take everything and channel it toward the divine. It sounds like a lovely sentiment, but what does that actually mean? I'm not sure I know, but what I'm starting to understand is I can't run from anything, including my desire for fame. I can't escape anything. Maybe to use everything as a vehicle toward my unification with a power greater than myself means first that I have to accept what is here in a loving, compassionate way.

This blogpost deals with my desire for fame, but the concept is applicable to anything. It could be the part of ourselves that's scared of others, or is greedy, or ashamed, or whatever. We can't pretend that side doesn't exist as much as we'd like that to be the case. We have to work with what's here in order to have any power over it. I've likely used this quote before, but Carl Jung said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you’ll call it fate.” I'd rather be an active participant in my fate and the only way to do that it seems is to stop running from the things I don't like.

I dream of a world where we accept all parts of ourselves with compassion. A world where we realize just because we don't like something doesn't mean it goes away. A world where we embrace our inherent tendencies and still work to transform them into something else. A world where we channelize them toward something greater than ourselves.

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