There’s an expression I’ve heard that says, “Compare and despair.” Ain’t that the truth! There’s always going to be someone who is “better” or “worse” than me at something. In the past I’ve used it as a marker of self-worth or importance. As in, I can feel good about myself if I’m better than Jane Doe at a particular task, but feel bad about myself if I’m worse. Whoa buddy. Now isn’t that a perfect setup for creating a complex?

I bring this up because this week I do find I’m comparing myself to those around me. On both ends of the spectrum. I’ve compared myself and came up short and compared myself and came out ahead. Neither one of those is where I’d like to be. I don’t want to be ahead or behind. I don’t want to feel superior or inferior. In many ways it’s easier for me to deal with inferiority because then I can pull out my favorite quotes about how we’re all divine children of God and we’re all made to shine. It’s much harder for me to deal with superiority and arrogance because I almost feel like that’s what it means to believe I’m a divine child of God.

Really though superiority and inferiority are different sides of the same coin. When I start comparing myself to others, puffing up my ego, I’m overcompensating. I’m overcompensating to make myself feel better. To make myself believe I am courageous and intuitive and strong. Because a part of me must not really believe it. Otherwise I wouldn’t need to say I’m braver than so-and-so. Otherwise I would just feel that I’m brave, period.

All of this is just a long-winded way of saying when I judge others (and myself) it’s a sign I’m not giving me the love I need. Just like I wrote before about wanting people to pay attention to me, judgment is another indicator I’m not looking internally enough. I’m not telling myself, “I love you,” enough.

It would be very easy to start self-chastising, to criticize myself for being judgmental or arrogant or whatever, but the truth is those acts are so not helpful. They don’t correct the problem, they just make me feel worse. Criticizing only compounds the situation and adds a layer of guilt and shame.

I bring this up because judgment runs rampant in our society in all corners of the world. Somehow we’ve been conditioned to rank ourselves, figure out what our place is, and judge those around us. I for one don’t want to participate anymore. I’d rather be completely focused on me and my life, allowing other people to be who there, accepting them as they are, and letting go of anything else. I’d rather feel at peace with where I am, knowing the only person I can change or even want to change is myself. I’d rather deeply and completely love and approve and accept myself. I know when I do judgment falls away.

And I have that wish for others. (A video I’m tapping along with to help me in the process can be found here.)

I dream of a world where people are more internally focused. A world where they recognize they are who they are and comparisons are futile. A world where people love and approve and accept themselves. A world where people feel love for themselves and the love coming at them from the Universe. A world where we recognize we are each unique incarnations of God/Brahma/the Universe and that’s awesome. A world where we know someone else’s brilliance only heightens our own.

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

Reading A Return To Love, this week I felt really deeply the truth, “You are already loved.”

I think back to a conversation I had with a friend of mine roughly five years ago. She and I chatted on AIM about our respective boy troubles and I remember this moment of profundity when I said to her, “I think our search for relationships is really our quest for the divine.” I realized actually what I sought was divine love, a spiritual communion, unconditional love from an infinite source. And I kept looking for it externally in the arms of someone else when it already existed within me.

I don’t think my friend agreed with me but it brings me back to my realization the other night. I’ve been going on and on for the past few months about loving the self, about looking in the mirror and saying, “I love you,” but I’ve been downplaying the love from my higher power. The love that is always around me, unconditional, ever present.

The other night I felt such grace because I knew, “I am already loved.” I am loved for who I am in this moment. I don’t need to “seek” it. I don’t need to try to find it or run from person to person to see if they’ll give it to me. I already have it. Unconditionally. Eternally. My higher power loves me no matter what I do. No matter what I say. No matter what I feel. I don’t need to be a “good girl” or ace all my tests or lose 10 pounds. I am already loved just as I am.

I think of that scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary when Colin Firth says to Renee Zellweger, “I like you very much just as you are.” Rehashing it with her friends later they say, “Just as you are? Not thinner? Not cleverer? Not with slightly bigger breasts and a slightly smaller nose?” Renee shakes her head, “No.” Her friends are dumbfounded.

I think her friends are so perplexed because in our society we’re given the message we need to change in order to be loved. We need to be thinner, cleverer, prettier, whatever. (And often the messages are conflicting.) Rarely are we told, “I love you just as you are.” (Because honestly, if we were why would we need to buy so many things?)

It’s comforting and provides such peace to know I am loved unconditionally, and not just by my mother. There is a force out there that loves me more than I can even comprehend. But I’m willing to try. I’m willing to tap into the well of love that’s ever present and really feel it as much as I can.

I dream of a world where we feel unconditionally loved all the time. A world where we know we are magnificent just as we are. A world where we love ourselves and each other no matter what. A world where we experience true peace and comfort and serenity knowing we love ourselves and God loves us too. A world where love trumps all else.

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

This week the only thing I can talk about is surrender. I know I’ve written about surrender many times before but this week is the first time I think I really got it.

In the past when I spoke of surrender it was usually in the context of a last-ditch effort. As in, “Well, nothing else has worked, so I’ll give this surrender thing a shot.” In the past I’ve been willing to surrender certain things but not others. It’s as if I said to the Universe, “I’ll surrender the job piece but the relationship part? I’ve got it covered.” Some things felt too important to give up, to release control of. Because if I gave up control that means it wouldn’t come true! How could I trust anyone other than me with something so precious?!? (But I’ve also learned this is not the case and invariably my dreams are ant-sized compared to what God has in store for me.)

So I’ve been approaching surrender in a piecemeal way and usually surrendering because I made myself so crazy I couldn’t do anything else. Surrender in some ways became synonymous with giving up. “Lord, I can’t take this anymore so I’m just giving it to you.” It’s only when I reached my breaking point that I would let go. I had been surrendering out of frustration.

This week I took a step beyond that. Now I’m surrendering not because I’m frustrated or have reached a breaking point or I’m expecting the Lord to handle things but because I want peace. I don’t know how everyone else’s mind works but I know for me when I’m not surrendering it’s like a giant game of Risk. “If I do this, then this will happen.” My mind becomes a whirlwind of ceaseless chatter and strategizing. I get incredibly controlling and obsessive because my mind keeps circling on the same things over and over again. This week I’m surrendering because I want the chatter to end. I want to feel at peace. I’m turning my will and my life over to the care of God because I’d rather live in a state of peace and serenity than manipulation and noise.

Now that I’m letting go of more my ego is flipping out. The ego, my “me-ness” is all about control and fear and manipulation. My ego is all about separation and division so when I start talking about all being love and seeing the interconnectedness of all things my ego starts to rebel. Because it knows it’s about to be obliterated. My ego knows it’s about to die so it’s freaking out. I liken true surrender to a salt doll melting in the ocean. Once it’s melted, the doll no longer exists. Once I’m completely surrendered to the universal energy that runs through all things “I” don’t really exist because everything is me and I am everything. My ego knows this about surrender and starts struggling for survival. Fear raises its ugly head.

As I contemplated this last night, contemplated my fear of losing my sense of self I realized several things. One, just because I surrender completely and totally, meaning I give my entire self to God and not just certain things and situations, it’s not like my life ends. I mean, maybe I’ll leave my physical body the very next moment but more likely when I wake up tomorrow I’ll still be here. I’ll still have to go to work. I’ll still have to intake air and food and water. In all likelihood my exterior life won’t look much different. And I still have a purpose on this earth, a mission to fulfill, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. My life will continue on. The only difference is my mind. And that’s the second realization I came to.

I realized by surrendering the only thing I’m really giving up is the constant chatter in my head, my crazy scheming/planning/manipulations and my fear. I’m giving up the things I don’t enjoy anyway. I’m giving up the things that drive me to my higher power in the first place. Surrendering completely is the death of my ego but it’s not the death of me. It’s more like finally meeting the person I always knew existed inside. It’s more like letting the all-pervasive love flow through me. And in this state I feel such grace, a grace and peace I dream of for others as well.

I dream of a world where we give our higher power the reigns in our lives. A world where we choose to swim in the ocean of love knowing all is well and all is God. A world where we surrender our entire selves knowing when we do so we’ll experience utmost peace and serenity. A world where we let our bright inner lights shine unobstructed. A world where we surrender to the cosmic consciousness knowing it spells not the end for us but merely the beginning.

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

All Is Love?

Last week I wrote about releasing fear and returning to love. This week has been an application of that lesson, especially as it relates to things I would deem horrific, such as the earthquake in Haiti.

On Saturday I continued reading Marianne Williamson’s A Return To Love. As I sat on the BART train on my way to meet a friend it occurred to me everyone and everything is love. I really felt it. As I looked around I saw how every person, all the seats, metal poles, etc. were love incarnate. I saw how every being is a manifestation of love and the only thing that keeps us from recognizing that all the time is the ego. I saw a woman biting her nails on the train and as I looked at her I realized she and the passengers around her saw themselves as separate. Separate from each other. Separate from an all-pervasive love. They didn’t understand just how big they truly are. How they are love incarnate. Created out of love, steeped in love. How they are God. They are beauty. How a magnificent power runs through them and everyone else and the ego keeps us from feeling that way. (Or conversely we do think we are powerful but attribute the power to ourselves and not to God.) The ego keeps us thinking about well, just ourselves and our lives. That’s what the ego is. The “I” feeling.

I was in such an altered state on Saturday it was hard for me to get out of the BART station. My body had to go on autopilot because as I looked around all I could see was love. I could barely function. I walked into Walgreens to kill time and bought a Luna bar and as I approached the clerk I had a broad smile on my face because I didn’t see him for him, I saw him for the lovely divine being he is. I was so open and uninhibited the clerk smiled back at me and started asking me about my day. My seeing him as love brought out that feeling for him as well. It was contagious.

At the same time I couldn’t stay in that state (or at least I chose not to) because it was hard to stay grounded. I felt like a total space cadet. But I kept the truth and the knowledge every person is love and comes from love with me throughout the week. On Tuesday the earthquake hit Port-Au-Prince and I wanted to weep. How can I reconcile all is love when natural disasters like this happen? When people die and lose their homes? I’m still working on it. I don’t have all the answers and what resonates for me may not for everyone else. But these are the conclusions I’ve come to thus far.

My ego is what places value judgments. My ego decides what is “good” and what is “bad.” What’s helpful and what’s harmful. On the spiritual plane? There is no good or bad. There just is. Things just happen. Period. When it comes to natural disasters the Earth is just doing its thing. Responding to laws that I only mildly understand but laws nonetheless. The real issue I think is my perception. A part of me thinks love can only be “good” things like rainbows and butterflies and kittens. In truth though love is the “bad” things too.

Perhaps it’s time to take out my value judgments, my ideas of what love looks and see that things I don’t like can also be love. Perhaps it’s time to start seeing things more neutrally as just things that happen. To understand I may not like all the turn of events in the world but to understand they are still God, they are still love. Sometimes things like earthquakes just happen.

I also feel it’s important to point out here war, poverty, hunger, etc are due to a lack of love on our part. I understand God is not Santa Claus, doesn’t punish and reward people. Doesn’t create war. That’s what we do. We are the righteous ones deciding who is good and who is bad. We are the ones who create non-natural disasters. God is much more neutral, a potentiality that can go either way. I vote we use the potential to create something that benefits as many beings as possible.

I dream of a world where our ego blinders fall off and we each see the other as the creatures of love we are. I dream of a world where our perceptions change and we start seeing things more neutrally. I dream of a world where because we feel so much love for ourselves and everyone around us we help each other out. We live in a society where there is plenty of food to eat, safe places to live, good medical care for all, and everyone receives an excellent education. I dream of a world so filled with love it’s like living in a utopia.

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

I can say unequivocally my entire life I’ve had the fear I would be overpowered. I’ve been afraid someone would come in and overwhelm me physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. During the holidays I had a major breakthrough and it’s a fear I carry no more.

I’ve written before about looking fear in the face and seeing that perhaps our greatest fears are not as horrible as we’ve imagined. During the holidays I came to several realizations beyond that.

One, I realized I’ve already lived through all my greatest fears. Not having a job or a place to live? Check. Hello 2008. Losing someone I’ve loved? Triple check. The thing is I went through my greatest fears and lived to tell the tale. I realize I’ve been using fear as a way to protect myself because somehow I thought feeling afraid would keep me safe, or keep things from happening. As if being scared a snake will bite me will keep it from happening. (Um, it won’t.)

Obviously this past year I’ve come to realize the power of my mind. How the thoughts I think have an effect. I’ve come to realize I am a co-creator in my life. So recognizing that, I know I can create for myself a world where people are out to get me, where I’ll be overpowered, where others will harm me, or not. I can create for myself a world where I’m terrified (and quite possibly attract what I’m most scared of), or I can create something else. I can choose to believe I am safe, secure and protected. I can choose to believe I am divinely guided at each and every moment. I can choose to believe I can get through anything. And I already have.

Tapping along with this EFT video I started to believe and affirm for myself I can handle life. That there is nothing for me to be afraid of because even if I get bitten by a snake I’ll deal with it then. What’s the use of feeling afraid now? During the holidays I reminded myself I am fully capable of dealing with anything and everything so I don’t have to feel afraid. Instead I can walk around feeling calm and confident, taking life on life’s terms. Releasing my fear is pretty much a culmination of everything I’ve been talking about for the past year: releasing my need for control, trusting in a power greater than myself, co-creating my own reality, being present and in the moment. It all came together between Christmas and New Year’s.

The big breakthrough though occurred when I went to a yoga and meditation retreat in Missouri. On New Year’s Eve I started crying because my teacher has told me time and time again to go forward, be fearless and know I’m taken care of. The meaning finally sunk in. I started weeping with relief and, I don’t know, emotion, because not only do I protect myself but someone else is protecting me. Someone else is taking care of me, watching out for me, has my best interests at heart. And so my fear? I don’t need it. I am divinely guided at all times. I also want to say it is my firm belief everyone has someone protecting them, whether they know it or not. Everyone has a guardian angel or divine being or something watching out for them, they just may not know it yet.

Lastly, I finally understood love is all there is. That underneath my currents of fear, sadness, anger, etc., is a river of love. I realized my ego constructs all my other emotions and they act as an overlay for the love beneath. My ego masks the ever-present pure love surrounding me. I realized I am in the divine flow and in the divine flow there can be no harm, only love. Love is all there is.

And so I dream of a world where we release all that is unlike love in our minds and our bodies. A world where we deeply and completely love and approve and accept ourselves. A world where we release our need for fear because instead we recognize we are love. I dream of a world where we swim in the divine current, letting ourselves be carried, knowing we can handle life. A world where we feel the all-pervasive love surrounding us. A world where we return to love letting our fears wash away like the ocean smoothing out a beach.

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

I’m kind of on a hiatus right now what with visiting my family and going to a retreat in Missouri. However, I wanted to post one last message of hope and faith to close off 2009 and begin 2010. For your viewing pleasure I present:

Enjoy and rest assured another world is not only possible, it’s probable. =)

Oh my goodness. I love this audio link my friend sent to me. It’s the scientific proof showing how we feel has a ripple effect. How heart-based living affects the entire world. It’s yet another reminder to me that we, you and I, have the power to make the world better because of how we live our lives. Because of how we are feeling. I love the feeling of autonomy and empowerment I felt after listening to Gregg Braden, “Heart-Based Living.” I thoroughly recommend you check it out: http://www.healingwiththemasters.com/Audio.htm

EDIT: I realize the clip has been taken down. The gist of it can also be found in this series of YouTube clips: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKMrE9veo8o&feature=related

Listening to this clip I know another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

I really like safety nets. I like knowing if my plans don’t work out there’s an option B. Slowly my safety nets have been taken away from me and it freaks me out. My parents are renting out my childhood home in North Carolina so if my world comes crashing down around me I can’t move back in them. Not there at least. My, “in case neither of us is married by the time we’re 40 we’ll get together,” person is seriously dating someone, which is awesome, but nonetheless he’s no longer an option for me.

What I realize though is I don’t need a safety net. A safety net is an illusion anyway because even safety nets have a tendency to disappear. The thing is though, why even have a safety net in the first place? Why not just go all out and shoot for my dreams knowing I’ll be taken care of? That the universe is backing me, guiding me, protecting me at every moment? Why not go after what I want even if it seems illogical and ridiculous and completely unattainable?

I’m not sure I’m making any sense but I have a little story I’d like to share.

In 2007 when I worked in Washington, D.C. my coworkers had a Mother’s Day jewelry sale. I went looking for a gift for my mom and passed by a mother-of-pearl shell bracelet with a T-bar and circle clasp. I didn’t think my mom would like it, plus I don’t like buying parts of animals, so I went back to my cubicle empty handed. But I kept thinking about the bracelet. I wanted it – not for my mom, but for me. So I rushed back upstairs and purchased it (and said a prayer for the mollusk who died to give it to me).

Shortly thereafter I went to a WNBA game with a friend of mine. As we started walking toward the exit I looked down at my wrist and realized my bracelet was gone. (The bracelet is a little bit too big for me and so the T-bar has a tendency to slip from the clasp.) I started searching around me in a panic, checking my pockets, my sleeve, the ground. I retraced my steps, went back to the bathroom to see if it had fallen on the tiles. I scanned the crowded hallway and couldn’t find it. My friend and I went back to our seats and there it was, on the cement, directly below where I was sitting.

Yesterday while I sat at my desk at work one of my coworkers came up to me, with my bracelet dangling from his fingers. “Is this yours?” I hadn’t even realized I lost it but nonetheless, my bracelet found its way back to me.

Last night on my walk to the chiropractor I realized I lost my bracelet again. I scanned the pavement looking for it. I kept my eyes trained on the ground for six blocks looking for it to no avail. I probably lost it somewhere on my mile walk from work to my apartment. Since I work from home on Thursdays I couldn’t even look for it today so I called one of my coworkers and asked her to keep an eye out for it. But what are the odds I would find it? It could have fallen off anywhere. Someone else could have picked it up; it could have been thrown away by someone sweeping the sidewalks. It could have fallen into a sewer grate. In all likelihood my bracelet was gone.

This morning as I went to the basement to do some laundry I looked at the windowsill in the stairwell. And there was my bracelet, waiting for me. Of all the places it could have been, of all the possibilities, my bracelet found its way back to me.

I bring this up because some things seem completely illogical, unreasonable, and far-fetched but if they’re meant to be they will happen. If you’re meant to have something, you will. If you’re meant to be a famous actress, the stars will align. This bracelet belongs to me for now, wants to be with me for now, and so it keeps finding me over and over again despite all odds.

A safety net? I don’t need it because in truth there is no option B. My life will work out the way it’s fated. My dreams may not stay the same year after year, but if they do, that tells me something. If after surrendering, if after opening myself up to whatever is in my best interest I still get pointed back toward something then it will come to pass. Whatever it is will defy all odds. Miracles happen everyday. Just look at my bracelet.

I’m not going to tell you I don’t have any doubts some days, because I do, but I can tell you I’m trying to release them. I’m using EFT and affirmations and whatever else to truly believe what the universe is trying to tell me via signs and “coincidences.” I’m releasing all doubts because all I can do is aim for option A.

I dream of a world where we can trust in ourselves and the universe. A world where we shoot for our dreams full force knowing if it’s meant to be it will happen. A world where we know everything happens for a reason in our best interest. A world where we know magic happens and the impossible is possible. A world where we know our “safety nets” are our dreams because that’s what we’re being guided to do.

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

I spent Thanksgiving with some family friends of mine in Ithaca, N.Y. While I was there I sat next to a woman who it turns out met me years ago when my family lived in North Carolina. Talking to her brought up a very particular memory that I would just as soon forget.

Around the time this woman met me, when I was 8 years old or so, my family went to a group meditation regularly on Sunday nights. Usually the kids would go outside and play in the front yard while the adults meditated. During one meditation my brother, three years my senior, said something or did something that set me off. I was so angry at him I sat on his back and started pounding his head into the grass. As soon as my outburst finished I felt so ashamed and so embarrassed I sat in the front seat of our minivan for the rest of the evening. All I could do was cry and berate myself for lashing out. I felt so horrible I didn’t even go into the house for dinner.

I’ve rationalized the event many times – it was years ago, I learned my lesson, I won’t do it again, etc. – but the burning pit of shame stayed with me until now, 17 years later. Meeting this woman I still felt a burning pit of guilt/shame/embarrassment.

I think many people feel the same way about something they’ve done. I think most of us, if not all, have some moments and some memories we’re not proud of. Things we wish we could go back in time and change. For me at least, tied into the guilt/shame/embarrassment is love. My inner dialogue goes something like this: “I’m a bad girl, I did a bad thing and now no one can ever love me. How could they? What I did was horrendous.”

The truth is what I did was not so horrendous, not so horrible. And even if it was, that doesn’t mean I’m any less deserving of love. I know this isn’t the popular point of view but I firmly believe even pedophiles, rapists, mass murderers, etc. deserve love. No I don’t think they should go unpunished, I don’t condone behavior that harms others, but that doesn’t mean those people are any less deserving of love. And nor am I.

What I’m learning is to forgive myself for everything I’ve done in the past I don’t like. To look at what I’ve done and do more than say, “Well, I know better now.” To look at what I’ve done and say, “That wasn’t your best moment but I love you anyway.” That’s what unconditional love is. Love no matter what I do or say or think or feel. I also know God’s love for me will never diminish. There is nothing I can do that will make God love me any less. And I’m moving to a place where I too feel the same way. Where I know there is no act I can commit that’s so horrendous I don’t deserve to be loved. A place where I love myself deeply and completely no matter what.

I have the same wish for others. Because truly, making mistakes doesn’t mean you deserve love any less.

I dream of a world where we can look into the depths of our pasts with love and compassion. Where we forgive ourselves for everything we perceive to be “bad.” Where we let the past go because we know we deserve unconditional love no matter what. I dream of a world where we not only love ourselves unconditionally but those around us. Where live in a world filled with love and light and hope. A world where love is boundless and plentiful.

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

Right now I’m in Chicago, sitting on the bed in my hotel room. This past week has been hectic for me because I started off in Boston, trotted up to Ithaca, and then ended up here in the Windy City. When my life starts to get crazy it’s easy for me to lose sight of myself. To become engrossed in getting from point A to point B, finding something to eat, and accomplishing everything on my to-do list. My mind gets wrapped up in the mundane and I forget who I am.

Tonight I passed by the Holy Name Cathedral on North State St. and I felt compelled to walk in. Even though I’m Jewish I love Cathedrals and feel no compunction about attending other people’s religious services. (Even if I have no idea what’s going on.) I sat in the very last row and soaked in my surroundings. The high arched ceiling, the wooden pews, the stained glass windows, the maroon robes of the choir. I allowed all my cares and worries of the day to ebb out of me as I looked at the magnificence that lay before me.

As I sat in the last pew wearing my bulky lavender winter coat, my shopping bag next to me, the choir sang the introit:

Ad te levavi animam meam: Deus meus in te confide, non eru bes cam: neque irrideant me inimici mei: etenim universi qui te exspectant, non condundenttur. Ps. Vias tuas, Domine, demonstra mihi: et semitas tuas edoceme.

Which translates into:

Unto you have I lifted up my soul. O God, I trust in you, let me not be put to shame; do not allow my enemies to laugh at me; for none of those who are awaiting you will be disappointed. V. Make your ways known unto me, O Lord, and teach me your paths.

At the end of the introit, the choir at Holy Name just kept repeating the word “animam” over and over again. Animam is a Latin derivative of the word for soul. The closest I can come to sharing my experience with you all is this YouTube video from some other place:

As I listened to the choir chant “animam” again and again I was reminded of my true nature, of who I really am. I remembered I am more than this body, I am more than this mind, I am more than this life. I remembered I am that. I am that song, that music, that person, that feeling of expansiveness, that indescribable spiritual something that separates the mundane from the celestial. I am that.

It was such an awesome and lovely reminder and I sincerely hope when others are entrenched in the hustle and bustle they too will gravitate toward something that gives them a feeling of expansion, whether it’s a sunset or a gorgeous piece of music. It’s easy to get caught up in it all but we are so much more than we give ourselves credit for. It’s just a matter of remembering.

I dream of a world where people know who they truly are, know they are more than flesh and blood and bones. Where people know they are magnificent, divine creatures capable of anything. Where people sprout metaphorical wings and soar above the clouds coasting on a spiritual high. A world where people see magic in the everyday and feel expansive and uplifted at all times.

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

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