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There are More of Us. . .

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Holding the Paradox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Power of “No”

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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