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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 café 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.

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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.

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