ONE NATION, UNDER WELLNESS

There is no doubt these are critical and complex times that we live in.

How do we make sense of a world where one in two Americans suffers from a chronic disease, despite the thriving $377 billion dollar pharmaceutical market? How about a world in which e American Drea pays almost half of the population less than $15 an hour? A world in which more prisons are built every year than schools, in which more kids—the vast majority of whom are Black and Latino—are incarcerated than in any other country, ?

How can we make sense of country or a political process that claims to be democracy, built upon citizen participation, when our elections are bought and sold to the highest bidder?

These truths illuminate the bottom line: We are t well. t by a long shot. And here’s the kicker—our systems benefit from this sickness. The very systems under which we operate perpetuate the belief that we are not “enough,” that if we only “uy this” we’ll find “happiness;” that if we only “do this” we’ll “be skinny;” that if we only “read this” we will “be enlightened.” For the systems to keep working, we must remain in this state of un-wellness. It’s in their best interest that we feel powerless, that we have disengaged.

But something else is happening.

Read More

Angry, Arrested & Enlightened

I had the most profound experience of wellbeing this past fall.

No, it wasn’t on the mat in a killer yoga class or on the cushion in a zen center. No, it wasn’t hiking through the redwoods of California or on a secluded beach in Bali. It wasn’t even teaching mindfulness to kids or doing service work in a shelter.

I found wellbeing in the most unlikely place: jail.

Hear me out.

Read More

Your Shadow, by Jay Fields

The key to unlocking your potential is in your shadow. It reminds me of 8th grade art class when I learned how to make a circle into a sphere with shading and then adding a shadow behind it. Do you remember that lesson? I remember it because I could feel it in my body at the time—I remember thinking so that’s how you give something form! That’s how you give it depth.

I share that because we tend to think of the shadow as something negative or shameful, when in fact it’s just the natural consequence of light meeting a form. It’s your very beingness that gives you shadow. It’s the fact that you have a FORM that gives you shadow.

And that’s why it’s such an important part of the type of work that we’re doing that is about embodiment. If you’re going to work from embodiment, you have to address shadow.

Shadow isn’t dark, it’s just what we don’t see or work with consciously. Your shadow isn’t necessarily your anger or lack of confidence or desperation. Your shadow could be your boldness, your strength or your intelligence.

Shadow is what makes you trustworthy. It makes you human and relatable. It gives you and your offering depth—like the sphere. 

Ready to meet and work with your shadow?

 

19 Days. Until BE A CATALYST

MAMIHLAPINATAPAI

 

I just discovered the most fantastic word: mamihlapinatapai, courtesy of my friend, Maureen Miller (The Ritz Report).  And while I cannot for the life of me pronounce it, I know this word in my bones.

 

It is referred to as one of the "top 10 foreign words that is lacking in the English language" and originates from the Yaghan language of the Tierra del Feugo located in an archipelago off of the South American mainland. The natives used the word to describe "a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other will offer something that they both desire but are unwilling to suggest or offer themselves.”. 

 

I appreciate how this word captures the tragic space between words unspoken, moves unmade, truths not revealed and all that is lost between two people. The result is not just disconnection from one another, but dis-ease in the ways that our unexpressed words and actions get stuck in our bodies as tension.

 

But I also see this concept playing out in a bigger field.

 

I don’t think mamihlapinatapai is just a word or a moment. This disconnection is a schism that is at the root of our problems. The ways in which deny our connection to ourselves and sabotage our connection to one another; it plays out in our relationships, informs how we engage in the important social issues of this time and determines whether we participate in the politics of wellbeing and justice for all. It is a crisis of connection that is at the heart of all of our suffering and is holding us back from real, transformational change.

 

What is holding us back from real connection?

What are we missing out on when we participate in this stalemate of fear?

What is possible if we were to conjure up 20 seconds of courage to lean in?

What happens if we don’t?  

 

MAMIHLAPINATAPAI is a call to connect. To close the gaps and cross the divides that separate us. To fearlessly hear and be heard, see and be seen. And to act. WE HAVE TO ACT.  Now is the time to offer ourselves to one another in service to the world.

 

How do we do that? In the words of Charles Eisenstein…

 

“…let go of the paradigm of control and bow into service…to this thing larger than ourselves. And what is this "thing"? What is it that unifies all of these different things we are committed to? Let’s call it the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. As you go about your life…feel that part of you that knows that you are here in service. And ask yourself if you’re ready to bow more deeply into service. If you do it, I predict that you will experience an unexpected opportunity to act on that intention and it will be just at the edge of your courage, but not past it”.

Oh Shit...Shiva

One year ago today, I got my ass handed to me. 

 

I went to India with the intention of getting a fresh start. I had just filed for divorce and needed to reset, big time. The timing could not have been more perfect. It was going to be my Eat, Pray, Love moment.

 

Not quite.

 

At first, my journey was exactly what you would imagine. I landed at an ashram and spent my days meditating, visiting temples and drinking chai. It just so happened that every temple we came across was one of Lord Shiva, which seemed appropriate since Shiva is the destroyer and I was committed to letting go of my old life and starting anew.

 

Be careful what you wish for. 

 

By coincidence, I arrived in Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India, during one of the biggest holidays, Maha Shivaratri, the great night of Lord Shiva. Which at first seemed like a blessing…and I guess you could say that my prayers were answered. Because the very next day, I got robbed at a Shiva temple. And I mean, I lost everything – my money, my passport, my visa…my whole identity. And as soon as that happened I thought, “this is not what I meant”. But the truth is, I had prayed for that. I had prayed to let go of my old identity…my identity as wife, as over-achiever, as bossy lady, as doer. And that is exactly what Shiva gave to me - one big, undeniable surrender.  

 

I had also prayed to know my strength as an independent woman. And did I ever. Four days of traveling across the country with no money, navigating embassies, asking for help anywhere I could get it…I certainly discovered what I was capable of. 

 

When you call in Shiva’s energy (transformation), buckle up. Because you are calling in a destruction that is beyond your imagination and your control. Shiva does not mess around. But it is never by accident. Shiva is the wielder of power and Purpose (with a capital P) and will give you the redirect that you need to move forward.

 

Shiva wiped my slate clean (literally) so that I start again. And while I could not see the whole picture at the time, I know now that it was the very thing I needed to rediscover my power, reclaim my purpose and step into my new life with courage and faith.

 

And so one year later, on this very auspicious day of purification and awakening, Maha Shivaratri, I am sitting in the inquiry of where I need to let go and where I need to let in. Here are some questions for contemplation:

 

Where are we floundering in purpose?

What is in the way of our knowing our purpose fully?

What barriers prevent us from stepping into purpose?

How can we reclaim our power to manifest our purpose?

 

Om Namah Shivaya!

Shake the Dust

This is for the fat girls. This is for the little brothers. This is for the school-yard wimps, this is for the childhood bullies who tormented them. This is for the former prom queen, this is for the milk-crate ball players. This is for the nighttime cereal eaters and for the retired, elderly Wal-Mart store front door greeters.

 

Shake the dust.

 

This is for the benches and the people sitting upon them, for the bus drivers driving a million broken hymns, for the men who have to hold down three jobs simply to hold up their children, for the nighttime schoolers and the midnight bike riders who are trying to fly.

 

Shake the dust.

 

This is for the two-year-olds who cannot be understood because they speak half-English and half-god.

 

Shake the dust.

 

For the girls with the brothers who are going crazy, for those gym class wall flowers and the twelve-year-olds afraid of taking public showers, for the kid who’s always late to class because he forgets the combination to his lockers, for the girl who loves somebody else.

 

Shake the dust.

 

This is for the hard men, the hard men who want to love but know that this won’t come. For the ones who are forgotten, the ones the amendments do not stand up for. For the ones who are told to speak only when you are spoken to and then are never spoken to. Speak every time you stand so you do not forget yourself. Do not let a moment go by that doesn’t remind you that your heart beats 900 times a day and that there are enough gallons of blood to make you an ocean. Do not settle for letting these waves settle and the dust to collect in your veins.

 

This is for the celibate pedophile who keeps on struggling, for the poetry teachers and for the people who go on vacations alone. For the sweat that drips off of Mick Jaggers’ singing lips and for the shaking skirt on Tina Turner’s shaking hips, for the heavens and for the hells through which Tina has lived.

 

This is for the tired and for the dreamers and for those families who’ll never be like the Cleavers with perfectly made dinners and sons like Wally and the Beaver.

 

This is for the biggots, this is for the sexists, this is for the killers. This is for the big house, pen-sentenced cats becoming redeemers and for the springtime that always shows up after the winters.

 

This? This is for you. Make sure that by the time fisherman returns you are gone. Because just like the days, I burn both ends and every time I write, every time I open my eyes I am cutting out a part of myself to give to you.

So shake the dust and take me with you when you do for none of this has [pause] ever been for me. All that pushes and pulls, pushes and pulls for you. So grab this world by its clothespins and shake it out again and again and jump on top and take it for a spin and when you hop off shake it again for this is yours. Make my words worth it, make this not just another poem that I write, not just another poem like just another night that sits heavy above us all. Walk into it, breathe it in, let is crash through the halls of your arms at the millions of years of millions of poets coursing like blood pumping and pushing making you live, shaking the dust.

 

So when the world knocks at your front door, clutch the knob and open on up, running forward into its widespread greeting arms with your hands before you, fingertips trembling though they may be.

Source: http://vimeo.com/95271

Tough Love.

I got some tough-love yesterday. And by tough-love I mean raw, unapologetic, difficult-to-hear truth telling.  And thank god because I had gotten so spun up in my story that I could not find my way out.

 

And while the truth is tough to hear sometimes, it is the very thing that unhooks us from the fantasies, lies and limiting beliefs.  Because those lies can be convenient at times. Like a self-fulfilling prophesy when we are bought into the same old story.  The one that is familiar and historical. The one that can feel more comforting than the real, hard truth. Because it is the story that you know, even if when it is sabotaging you.

 

The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off. 

 

This is where tough-love comes in. Because to break this hold and unhook from the story, we need to face our fears and step into courageous inquiry, unchartered territory and unknown outcomes. Here are some things I have learned along the way about navigating these moments:

 

1-Surround yourself by allies. They are the people in your life that feel safe. That give you permission to use your inside voice and share your fantasies. They are the ones who love your guts unconditionally.  Let them be your mirrors and love their reflections…even when they sting. Know that they have your best interests in mind.

 

2-Do a fact check. Often we have all the information we need to make a true assessment of “what is” not “what we want it to be” or “what is convenient”. Make a list of what you know beyond a reasonable doubt. Then make a second list of what you are assuming (NOTE: anything you think about another person - about their thoughts, motivations, feelings, etc - is an assumption).   

 

3-Have the hard conversation*. If you really need to know the truth, ask. Be curious. Listen for what is really being said. You may not hear what you want, but perhaps you will get what you need to move forward.  (*Caution – this conversation may go haywire while mercury is in retrograde).

 

One last thing…tough-love is not without love. It is an awareness that comes with compassion. So be gentle with yourself as you turn towards the truth.  

the medium.

“Out beyond the ideas of right doing and wrong doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” Rumi

 

Being broken (sacrum) has required me to discover a whole new yoga practice.  Of course there is how to navigate the limitations, respond to the pain, respect my healing. But I think the most profound shift in my practice has been in the way in which it has required me to respect the in between. Because it is not the poses themselves that are risky, but rather how I transition in and exit out. The in between is where it all happens. And that could not be more true in my life off the mat as well.

 

I think there has been a way in which I have been leaping from peak to peak in my life. Graduate college, get a job, meet future husband, get married, buy a house, move to the suburbs, change careers, get divorced, start company…you get the point. Even in my transformational work, so much of my focus has been the art of letting go or the courage to begin again. But what about THIS moment? The fuzzy one in-between. The uncertain place that is neither coming or going. The medium that is most of my life. How do I be here?

 

The problem with here is that it is not defined or achievable. But here is where it all happens. It’s where I discover my direction, it’s where I build a capacity to sustain, it’s where I cultivate the courage to take risks. It’s where I connect.  And when I think back, all I got from those peak moments were memories and markers. But the guts of it all, that is in the wide-open space that is right now.

 

Historically, I have done everything to transition through this time as quickly as possible. To expedite these moments and manifest myself into the next big peak that will satisfy my need to feel accomplished, seen and significant. The uncertainty of in-between feels more intolerable than some of the worst events in my life. I am good at disaster or challenge or big change. But here, where it is nebulous, groundless and in-between…torture. 

 

But this time, I am choosing to be here. And I realize that being here is also spiritual pact. We agree to be here with a willingness to not understand the past or know the future. We agree not to move away or around this time but to stew in the endless uncertainty with curiosity. We agree to be compassionate in the face of all that is stuck, stagnant and unresolved.  And if we can do that, if we can stay here, I believe gradually we will untangle ourselves from the expectations, the “should’s”, the hooks (Pema calls it “shenpa” referring to our attachments) and open up to a field of possibilities beyond our imagination.

 

And in that space in-between, we can finally hear what our heart has been trying to tell us all along.

 

I will meet you there.

Sisterhood.

“I do not believe that the accident of birth makes people sisters and brothers. It makes them siblings. Gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood are conditions people have to work at. It's a serious matter. You compromise, you give, you take, you stand firm, and you're relentless. And it is an investment. Sisterhood means if you happen to be in Burma and I happen to be in San Diego and I'm married to someone who is very jealous and you're married to somebody who is very possessive, if you call me in the middle of the night, I have to come.” - Maya Angelou

 

Feeling overwhelmed with awe and gratitude for the power of my sisterhood. I genuinely do not know how I would have made it through this moment in my life without these women. They have stood with me when I could not stand alone. They have come get me when I’ve retreated. They have spoken fierce truth when I have needed to hear it. They have relentless faith in me despite my failures and give me the courage to lean-in. They have picked me off the ground and set me back on my feet. They have laughed at my ridiculousness. They have reflected back to me the beauty inside that I often refuse to see. They have loved me with a ferociousness that scares me. They have seen me in my greatest potential and held me in my full power.  And they let me be me, unapologetically.

 

They are my women. They are my warriors. And they are my lifeline. 

 

Thank god for sisterhood.

Enough is Enough!

I wrote a lot this week about the “art of doing”. About starting, stopping, committing, quitting, leaping, letting go. And when I look back on it, it feels like a whole lot of struggle. I mean even the simple contemplation and conversation of courageous doing and revolutionary change makes me tired. 

 

As you can probably tell by now, I stand for “playing big” in the world. I believe it is my purpose and my calling to model courage and call people up to their best self. But I often wonder how good is good enough? Is there a measure? When do you know when you’ve arrived? Where did we learn that “playing big” needs to be a haggard, beat-down, depleting wrestling match?

 

Did you know there is actually a word for this?

ATELOPHOBIA; the fear of not being good enough.

 

And it is a slippery slope…this path of “playing big”. Because when we stop paying attention, when we get caught up in the flow and forget why we are doing what we are doing, we quickly slip into a way of being that might “look” like courage and commitment, but is really just a sophisticated form of self-destruction. It is the drive to over-do, over-commit, over-deliver, over-achieve…without ever really experiencing fulfillment. Because all the proving, performing and pleasing in the world is never going to get you what you are really looking for: love and belonging.

 

Somewhere along the way, I learned that love was conditional. That the attention of my loved ones had to be earned and won. And so from a very young age, I became a perfectionist and a do-aholic of the highest caliber. And there it is - my motivation, my drive, my fuel. To do until I am loved. Then it will be enough.

 

Brene Brown says “you are imperfect. You are wired for struggle. But you are “always” (I added that) worthy of love and belonging”. Suffering is what is left over when we there is no love or belonging. Enough is not what we are capable of doing, it’s what we believe about ourselves. Because the playing big, the doing epic shit, the hard-core activism is never going to get us what we really want, which is a feeling of worthiness that only comes from within.

 

So that is our practice. We can get more skilled at how we “do” the world, but it will never be complete. It will never be enough until we discover for ourselves a love that is unconditional, infinite and enough.

 

And so amidst all that is still undone, the mess, the mistakes of this past week (and there were many), I turn back towards my practice.

 

And I assess “was it good enough?” not from a place of what did I do/accomplish, but rather how was I being in relationship to my work, my people and my wellbeing. Here is my checklist-

 

{C}§  Did I show up and commit myself to my work?

{C}§  Did I harm anyone? Did my action or non-action impact others negatively?

{C}§  Did I move something forward (Not did I do everything? Or did I do it perfectly?)

{C}§  Did I act from purpose?

{C}§  Did I tell the truth?

{C}§  Did I learn something new? Or realize something I didn’t know?

{C}§  Did I work with others? Did I connect?

{C}§  Did I have fun?

{C}§  Did I take care of myself?

 

And the last question I ask myself (and this is the big one), is “did I show up in spite of myself” - my ego, my shame, my self-doubt, my sense of unworthiness. And that is when I remember who I really am and it is enough.

 

“I decided that that them most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed”. Anne Lamott

 

(PS-Perfectionists Anonymous intensive coming up in April featuring the amazing Dr. Melody Moore. Stay tuned for more).

 

 

 

 

On Your Marks. Get Set. GO.

I don’t think it is by accident that I have been writing about quitting and commitment lately. I volley between these two things constantly (often in the same moment). Run. Stay. Do. Quit. I’m in. I’m out. It’s like I am sprinting back and forth between two goal posts and it is exhausting.

 

And then I stumbled upon this article, which seemed to land like a divine message. Thank you, Seth Godin. You are the guru of failure, the angel of starting, the ally of risk-takers. And your wise words are perfectly timed.

 

https://medium.com/learning-for-life/41b2229daec

 

So here I am, at the front lines of this “thing” I am creating which is the biggest “thing” I have ever embarked and probably the riskiest. This “thing” which has never been done before. This “thing” which feels impossible and yet inevitable at the same time. And every time I try to turn away from this “thing”, it comes at me as if it has a life of it’s own.

 

You know what I am talking about right? It’s that thing you’ve been thinking about doing? The one that feels too big. To risky. Too hard to pull off.  You think of every reason you should not start…”I’m too busy”. “I don’t know how”. “I don’t have enough support”. “I’m not ready”. But it never goes away because it is YOUR thing.

 

Seth says, 'if you’re afraid of doing something that is a good guide to actually choosing to do it because it is an indicator of something of value to you'.

 

“The hard part about business today is knowing how to take a leap. Only when you can put your soul on the line and your heart on the line are you going to be able to get over the resistance and start doing work that you’re truly proud of.” Seth Godin

 

And THIS is the moment when most everyone is going to quit. Or worse do it soon. "Soon is the excuse we tell ourselves when we are afraid to start". It sounds and feels like “starting”, but it is really being stuck in fear.

 

Perhaps the one who doesn’t quit, the one who leaps without feet, the one who starts without knowing…perhaps, that is the person who gets somewhere. It may not be where you thought you were going (that is the practice of non-attachment), but it will lead you somewhere. And even if it leads you to failure, perhaps that is somewhere greater and more beautiful than where you are now.

 

My professor, Marshall Ganz, says “if not now, when?”. We have to begin before we are fully prepared or we will never start. Perfection is the enemy of complete. 

 

If you are scared, it’s because you want it.

If you are questioning, it’s because you are invested.

If you are making excuses, it is exactly the right time to start.

 

If not now, when?

 

 

I got schooled.

 

“The more I know, the less I understand. All the things I thought I figured out I have to learn again.”

 

Today was my first day of school.

 

There is something refreshing about being a student again.  The discipline of homework, the vulnerability of participation, the humility of “I don’t know”, the complexity of team work, the anxiety of evaluation. This is not what I remember of the education of my youth. 

 

And I am not just a student of this course. Everything about this moment in my life is brand new…whether it be learning how to practice yoga with a broken sacrum, how to support myself as a single women, how to juggle new projects, how to navigate dating post-divorce. There is nothing familiar or predictable about this moment. Everything is learning. Everything is new.

 

I realize that I have spent so much of my life trying to be "the best". To know everything. To become an expert at this or that. My motivation as a student was always to achieve a level of wisdom, respect, and accomplishment that gave me a feeling of security and confidence. But there was so much suffering in this drive, because there was always someone better, smarter, more experienced, more knowledgeable in any given area. And in my experience, as soon as you think you know something about anything, you get schooled.

 

And I am definitely getting schooled…big time. Everything I thought I knew about success, about relationship, about love is unclear. I am a beginner again. A student of life. And nothing is certain. 

 

Now the lessons are coming fast and furiously. It is the education of experience. The education of mistakes. The education of failure. But it is also an education of humility.

 

What I am realizing is that there is an even greater power in being a student. In embracing the blank canvas that is my new life with a verve and willingness to unlearn and begin again. Nothing is excluded. Everything is an opportunity to learn and to grow. Especially the mistakes, the messes and the mystery. It is all learning.

 

And so with the spirit of a student, I am learning to be curious about all that I don’t know. I am learning to be courageous in making mistakes. I am learning to be resilient in failure. I am learning to be humble.

And I am learning how to live…again.

 

"I must learn to love the fool in me--the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of my human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my Fool."

Theodore I. Rubin

Are you in or are you out?

There is this point in marathon when you are done. When your body is spent and your motivation zapped. When even your desire to reach the finish line, to win, to get what you’ve come for becomes less attractive then just stopping.

 

And I’ve felt that urge lately…to just stop, to hide, to sleep, to run. Even in this moment, amidst so much growth, creativity and momentum, I have a fantasy of getting in my car and just driving to nowhere.

 

And when I sit with that feeling, I wonder how much of that is burn-out and how much of that is being scared straight (or both).

 

One of the things I am learning about myself in this process is that I am really good at starting. I love to launch, pivot, transform, grow. But to stay with the stuck-ness or the uncertainty of what’s next or not-knowing how to solve a problem or overcome an obstacle is downright intolerable for me. I need movement, change, distraction…anything but stuck.

 

And then I remember what Hala Khouri always talks about in her classes…When you are in that Warrior 2 pose for three minutes too long and you are trying to think up any reason/excuse to exit. Commitment is what kicks in when you are sick of it. When it is no longer exciting and fresh. Commitment is required when the shit hits the fan.  When you can’t see the finish line. When you just don’t know what to do.  Commitment is when you STAY anyway. Another one of my teachers, Max Strom, says that the moment you want to get out of a pose is the moment that pose begins. Commitment is to begin again.

 

“The irony of commitment is that it is deeply liberating – in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny from your inner critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as a rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.” Anne Morris

 

And so here begins the real work.  It is not just a commitment to stay. It is a commitment to self – to believing in why you are here, to trusting in all that you don’t yet know, and to being IN the process until what is next is revealed.

 

Committing.

Shhhh...I'm In My Quiet Place.

If you haven’t noticed, I am learning how to express myself lately. Maybe for the first time in my life. To really let it rip. My truth. My vulnerability. My guts.

Don’t get me wrong…I’ve been loud and proud for most of my life; an extrovert from the moment I was born (so my mother tells me). But what I’ve discovered about myself over the last few months is how careful I have been with my words. How much I hold back for fear of being misunderstood or worse, judged. I think I believed that by revealing my insides, my deepest truths, I’d once and for all be exposed. I’d be unacceptable. I’d be rejected. 

 

But cautious comes at a cost. All the words unspoken. All the truths unheard. All the ways I’ve denied my needs and hid my emotions. It has been lodged in my throat and stuck in my body for as long as I can recall.

 

And so I’ve been practicing speaking…and by “practice” I mean clumsy words, messy shares, emotional rants and fire-y proclamations. It has been a full and fierce process and while scary and uncomfortable (excruciating) at times (all the time), it has also been cathartic and healing and helpful to me and so many of whom have been walking with me on this journey.  Of that I am certain.

 

But I woke up this weekend tired of talking. Tired of processing, excavating, working it out, trying to understand, revealing and exposing. 

 

JUST TIRED.

 

And so I stopped. I stopped moving. I stopped leaning in. I stopped doing it all. And immediately, I remembered what I had forgotten in this process. That on the other side of sound is silence…and that silence can be as revealing and powerful as words spoken and truths exposed. And so I have let the silence become the speaker and what is emerging is a new kind of communication. One that is more magical and subtle I think that any word spoken thus far. 

 

So I am going to shut up now and return to my practice of silence.  And my invitation to YOU on this holiday is to find a space of stillness, a place of quiet, a pose of non-doing and just be there. Let go of the words unsaid and things undone for just a moment and be in a space that is uncontained, that is limitless, that is without answers and just dwell there. And what you will find, amidst the nothingness is perhaps everything.

 

When I am silent, I fall into the place where everything is music. - Rumi

 

Silence is a source of great strength. - Lao Tzu

 

Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence. -  Leonardo da Vinci

 

Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact. - George Eliot, Impressions of Theophrastus Such

 

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. - Martin Luther King, Jr. 

 

Silence is a true friend who never betrays. - Confucius 

 

Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom. - Francis Bacon 

 

Silence is golden when you can't think of a good answer. - Muhammad Ali 

 

Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.  - Abraham Lincoln

 

He who does not know how to be silent will not know how to speak. -Ausonius

 

There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub. - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

 

I have found out in the course of a long public life that the things I did not say never hurt me. - Calvin Coolidge

 

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. - Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

 

The saying is true "The empty vessel makes the greatest sound." - William Shakespeare, Henry V  (Act IV, scene 4)

 

There are times when silence is the best way to yell at the top of your voice. - O. A. Battista

 

Speech is of time, silence is of eternity. - Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus

 

A Love Letter...

 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow”. -Melodie Beattie

 

Today’s practice is simple. GIVE THANKS. Give thanks for all the people and experiences that have taught you how to love bigger and better. Some “teachers” have come in the form of blessings, allies, luck and birth. Others have shown up in calamity, resistance, enemies and death. But all them have taught us something about love, and that is all that matters. So let us be grateful for the whole of this beautiful, wild, often-infuriating life and know that it is conspiring to make us more whole and hearty for the path ahead.

 

Here is my GRATITUDE SLAM -

 

Thank you to my mother. No one has given more selflessly to me and my siblings and pretty much anyone else she has touched. She is the embodiment of seva and is a gift to this world.

 

Thank you to my sister for being the wisest woman I know.

 

Thank you to my brother for being a model of what it is to be a strong, mindful man.

 

Thank you to both of my fathers for encouraging me to not be afraid of my power and to become the strong, out-spoken woman that I am today.

 

Thank you to my sisterhood, for whom, I would NOT have survived this moment in my life. Thank you for standing with me in the mess and mopping it up and laughing hysterically and NEVER shaming me for my ridiculous choices in love and life.  There is no stronger bond in my life right now than the women who surround me and I am beyond grateful.

 

Thank you to my alliance of cohorts, partners and collaborators…many of whom I “recruited” without forewarning. Thank you for standing with me in this vision. Thank you for believing in the possibility of a radical, transformational movement. And thank you for believing in ME, even despite my self-doubt. You remind me that I have nothing to fear when I am on purpose.

 

Thank you to my teachers for modeling how to hold space, inspire change, call people up to their highest self and get out of the way of greatness.   

 

Thank you for this community of individuals, practitioners and leaders who are waking up to a new way of being. Who are committed to engaging from a place of curiosity, compassion and courage. And who are stepping up to make this world a better place.

 

Thank to the “strangers” I have met along the way who have been perfectly positioned to shepherd me along somehow.

 

And thank you to my higher power for always holding me in sacred space despite my messy, awkward and perfectly-imperfect moves and for always pointing me in the direction of growth and purpose.

 

Thank you and I love you. 

The Bottom.

How do you know when you’re at the bottom? Does it look a certain way? Does it feel a certain way?

 

I’ve asked myself this question a million times over the last few months…Is THIS the bottom?

 

Every time I think I’m there, that I’ve made it and the only way to go is up, I fall again. Sometimes I think grief is bottomless. It is always there, lurking in the shadows. The grief of abandonment, the grief of 9-11, the grief of divorce…it aggregates and waits. So that when you least expect it, likely when you think you’re over it, it emerges like a big swell.

 

“Hitting bottom is not a weekend retreat. It’s not a goddamn seminar. Stop trying to control everything and just let go. LET GO.” (Chuck Palanuhk)

 

Is THIS love? Is it the willingness to lose? To risk it all? Does loving big mean losing big? Is loss a prerequisite to graduating to greater love? Rumi says love is…”to fall towards a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First, to let go of life. Finally, take a step without feet”.

 

Perhaps THAT is what faith is. The falling, the failing, the letting go, the bottom…it’s not just an end, but a beginning. Perhaps faith is finally accepting that we are not in charge. That we don’t know everything. That we cannot control the conditions of our heart. That we cannot undo the shame and regret. That we cannot bring back the people we have lost. But it is the belief that if we were to give it all up, WE’D BE OK. We’d be broken open. And perhaps, what would be leftover, is the very love we are seeking.

 

And so our practice today is SURRENDER. Surrendering to the tension and discomfort. Surrendering to powerlessness. Surrendering to all that we don’t know. And seeing what is left over when we really LET GO.

 

Here is a prayer from Anne Lamott that helped me through.

 

“Help. We can be freed from a damaging insistence on forward thrust, from a commitment to running wildly down a convenient path that might actually be taking us deeper into the dark forest. Praying “help” means that we ask that something give us the courage to stop us in our tracks, right where we are, and turn our fixation away from the Gordian knot of our problems. We stop the toxic peering and instead turn our eyes to something else; to our feet on the sidewalk; to the middle distance; to the hills, whence our help comes. Something else. Anything else. Maybe this is a shift of only 8 degrees, but it can be a miracle. It may be one of those miracles when your heart sinks, because you think it means you have lost. But in surrender, you have won.”

 

Help.

Thanks.

Wow.

 

(PS -  I swear I am getting to the part where I write about rainbows and unicorns. It’s coming, I just know it)

 

I'm Hooked.

I woke up pissed off. And I was tempted to rant this morning. To feed the hurt. To let it encompass me. To celebrate the pain. To spread it around.

Then I read THIS about getting hooked…

“Not only has something evoked a response in me but it is difficult for me to let go. Anger is like that. Prejudice is like that. Critical mindedness is like that. You don’t want to let go. There is something delicious about finding fault with something. And that can be including finding fault with oneself.”

Damn.

And so while I practice how to get unhooked, I am turning today's practice over to Pema. Here’s a sneak peak…

 “A lot of us are just running around in circles pretending that there is ground when there actually isn’t any ground. And that somehow, if we could learn to not be afraid of groundlessness, not be afraid of insecurity and uncertainty, it would be calling on an inner strength that would allow us to be open and free and loving and compassionate in any situation. But as long as we keep trying to scramble to get ground under our feet and avoid this uneasy feeling of groundlessness and insecurity and uncertainty and ambiguity and paradox, any of that, then the wars will continue. the racial prejudice will continue. You don’t agree their sexual preference, you don’t agree with their religion, you don’t agree with their skin color, you don’t agree with their politics. Whatever… It always continue.”

LOVE YOUR PEOPLE NOW!

LOVE YOUR PEOPLE NOW

 

We lost a good friend this week.

 

Marco was a bright light. He lit up a room when he entered it. He fed our souls. Let us win at soccer. Showed us what it was to be a great father, a loving husband. He was a friend to all who knew him.

 

And he was taken from us too soon. He passed unexpectedly leaving behind a legacy, a family and a community who feels his absence.

 

When these things happen, I want to do something. Cook something. Send something. Serve something. Anything to alleviate the suffering. What can I do to make it go away? This feeling that something is missing. This feeling of loss. This feeling of injustice. It's all too familiar.

 

I am angry. We’ve lost so much. It’s just not fair. I want them all back. All the men and fathers. All the fire fighters and soldiers. All of them.

 

When I asked my friend and teacher “What do we do?”, he said with clarity and urgency “LOVE YOUR PEOPLE NOW!”

 

What are we waiting for?

 

What are we waiting for to show love?

What are we waiting for to say “I am sorry”?

What are we waiting for to spend time with our loved ones?

What are we waiting for to give back to our people?

Why are we tempering our love?

Why are we afraid of too much love?

Why do we fear being needy?

Why do we pull back from touch?

Why are we not just going for it?

 

FUCK THAT.

 

I say LOVE BIG. I say cling to your people. Smother them. Get attached. I say touch one another. I say tell that person (you know who I’m talking about) that you love them. Period. I say be messy with your love. I say love in a way that scares you. I say be willing to risk it all.

 

Do it NOW.

 

Love your people. That is your practice.