Love and Compassion WINS. Fear and Hate LOSES.

 

Hate is a quick and easy, cheap shot. We see it in the news with incidents like Sandy Hook or the nightclub in Orlando. Do you think those shooters were happy? Do you think they felt whole and lived a balanced life? These events are symptoms of a deeper disease in our culture. How do we stop these kinds of atrocities from strangling the love and life out of our communities? Is it with gun control? Is it immigration?

No.

We see hate on a personal level when we lose a friend and never speak to them again. Maybe it’s our choice, maybe it’s theirs. We see hate when a partner cheats on us with no remorse. We see hate with murder, rape and lack of forgiveness. It comes in many forms. And it’s not just in America, it’s alive and well in plenty westernized countries.

MLK quote

If you go to the doctor with a painfully swollen lymph node…

Would it be better for the doctor to give you pain meds and tell you to not eat anything that may increase inflammation OR would it better if they run a bunch of tests to diagnose before they treat? After all, it may be cancer. One treats the symptom and one looks for a cure to the underlying problem.

Hate is our societies’ swollen lymph node while mental illness, disconnection, discontent, sorrow and resentment are our cancer. Fear is our cancer. Fear of what we don’t understand, fear of difference. As a society we are more disconnected, more intolerant, more competitive, more judgemental, more resentful, more angry, more divided and more medicated. Why? Maybe because there are more people, because greed has become accepted as “success” and everything is more expensive while wages haven’t changed. Maybe it’s healthcare. Maybe it’s gun control. There are a million reasons that we have become as we are. The truth is we have forgotten what LOVE is. Not romantic love but true love. The truest love is acceptance and forgiveness. It’s saying “hi” to your neighbor with a genuine smile on your face when they always seem annoyed. It’s understanding that the waiter who gave you bad service may be going through a really shitty day divorce. It may be offering to help someone when you have nothing to give but a hug and a listening ear.

Acceptance

When we accept someone for who they are, we fully see them. When we accept someone, rather than judge them, we are no longer victims of our own emotions. We are simply allowing ourselves to see what we see. It’s up to each of us to decide what we want and don’t want in our lives. Just because we accept who they are doesn’t mean we need to practice the same lifestyle. It simply means we aren’t judging theirs. When we practice acceptance, without judgement, we begin to accept more of ourselves. As we practice acceptance we become more tolerant of things we may disagree with, more authentic and honest about who we are and less hateful. It’s the foundation for forgiveness.

Forgiveness

You can only forgive when you have accepted something as it is. Forgiveness is acceptance and ownership of a judgement you’ve made. It’s acceptance of your own feelings about a specific event and choosing to let it go. It has nothing to do with telling someone else what they did was right or good. You can forgive without thinking something was right. It has to do with acknowledging your pain or hatred and setting it free. When you’re free from anger, resentment and hate you can be more open to LOVE.

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. ~Buddha

Whole-hearted

If you look at whole-hearted families, communities, organizations and countries you will find genuine happiness and tolerance with different lifestyles and religions. They foster an environment of acceptance, authenticity, ownership, respect, connection with others and embrace love over hate. The cure for hate is love.

Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther Kind Jr, Mother Theresa are classic examples of change makers that chose love over hate. That faced criticism, violence, pain and suffering with an attitude of acceptance and forgiveness. These are some of the most notable examples of strength and bravery. Why? Because no matter what happened, they chose love over hate. Conquered fear is the birthplace of courage.

Today you can find this type of courage in researchers, authors, musicians and politicians. But hate is more popular, more prevalent, more accepted and easier. These people openly speak about fear and shame versus love and connection. Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, India Arie, Marianne Williamson, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Shonda Rhimes and Amanda Palmer. Are a few that speak up for love, they make connection, truth and authenticity a priority. They don’t say what people want to hear, that say what they feel is right, with love, gratitude, acceptance and forgiveness.

Change Makers

Our culture and society doesn’t shift because politicians change laws. Shift happens when we accept that the 15yr old girl feels more like a boy than a girl, so we call her Sam rather than Samantha and allow him to use whichever damn bathroom he wants. It happens when we say hello and smile to the woman wearing a hijab without assuming she’s a terrorist. Or we tell someone we love, that while we aren’t ok with something they did, we don’t think they are a bad person. Change happens when parents ask their teenage daughters about a breakup and listen, even though they worked all day and may think it pales in comparison to their day. It happens when a father tells his son that he’s sorry he yelled at him but he was worried he might get hurt. It happens when a mother explains to her child why being a bully creates shame rather than punishing her without teaching her what is right.

It starts in our small circles. It’s saying “thank you for being clear” to someone who respectfully asked you to do or NOT to do something. It’s asking “what do you mean by that?” when someone is being passive aggressive. It’s sending your mother flowers on mothers day even though you’re pissed at her. You can love people AND dislike their behavior. You can love people AND have boundaries. You can wholeheartedly and courageously LOVE with hopeless abandon rather than ignorantly and fearfully embrace hatred. Hatred is our disease. Courageous love is our cure.

We must BE the change we wish to see in the world. ~Ghandi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Start a Revolution…In Yourself

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Personally I find self-discovery binges to be the most healthy, obsessive-compulsive binge we can embark on. Whether it’s meditation, western astrology, chinese astrology, any of the ologies, spirituality, faith, therapy, crystals, personal growth books/workshops/seminars, nature, or simply conversations with friends. You name it, there’s a way for you to connect with your inner spirit,your soul. Find it. Your quality of life depends on it. Other people’s lives depend on it. One of my favorite quotes is by Ghandi:

Be the change you want to see in the world

You can’t create change, a revolution or any major shifts in consciousness without first looking within. Your friends will benefit, your family will benefit and even strangers will benefit. When your operating at your full potential, you’re genuinely happy and authentically YOU. Others will be brave enough to do the same, even if it starts with just your intimate circle. It will spread, like magic.

Here are 5 tips to find your calling:

1. Seek a mentor or many mentors

When you find healthy people to align with, people that you aspire to be like, magic will happen. Having a guide, or guides, will provide you with a stable platform of non-judgement while you sift through limiting beliefs. They will challenge you and hold you accountable. They will teach you different methods that have worked for them. They will give you new tools. They will accept you when you fall on your face, and you will, because they’ve been there. They understand.

2. Find a way to quiet your mind

Whether it’s nature, mediation, yoga, instrumental music or solitude. Find a way to cut down the chatter, both around you and in yourself. At first, your internal dialogue will be quite chatty. Don’t judge it, just let it flow through you. You may need to journal at first, to know that you can have an outlet if you need to. Eventually, try to just listen, not holding on to anything but watching the thoughts flow by like subtitles on a foreign movie. They will calm and you will be able to slowly discern which thoughts and ideas need your attention and which are fear, anxiety and judgment. This is where you have the opportunity to fully love yourself, be your own best friend and your own therapist.

3. Follow you creativity

You know those ideas that set your neurons on fire? The ones that you have to jot down or begin creating because you can feel it to your core? Listen to those. Create them. Start them. Express them. Maybe it’s art, maybe it’s something mechanical. It may not lead anywhere but you will feel fulfilled and accomplished for having tried it out.

4. Create a basic routine

This one can be the hardest but you can’t start a revolution without passion and commitment. Not all of us are in a position where we can leave our lives and be in a Buddhist Monastery, or Indian Ashram for a lengthy amount of time. Many of us, especially the ones in urban areas, are tight on money and have to work. We have responsibilities, families and commitments where people depend on us. With that said, a routine, where you carve out time for projects, creativity, nature, friends, conversations and solitude is essential. Make time for the things that feed your soul, things that rejuvenate your spirit and connection with your inner light. Those things are different for all of us-some its time with friends, for others is silence and solitude. It does’t matter what it is. Just make time for it.

5. Understand your brain and body

When you understand your brain and body you will learn your limitations and in what ways you can push yourself. What type of learner are you? Do you see words in your mind or pictures? Are you better thinking on your feet or working with a specific plan? Is your work and life setup for you to succeed? For instance, if you are a business owner and find daily paperwork falling behind while you work with clients, then hiring a manager for office work would be essential for you. If you always get lost on your way somewhere, then you need a GPS. Maybe you used to do yoga and you keep telling yourself you are going to do it everyday. Then you don’t. Don’t judge yourself, just set realistic expectations. Start with doing it 1x/week at a studio, where you are more likely to be held accountable. Learn how you work without judgement and with full acceptance. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone but also be aware of your limits. We all work differently. Once you know how you learn and what your strengths and weaknesses are then you can set reasonable, achievable goals that fit YOU. Goals that fit YOUR brain and YOUR body. Not what society tells you they should be.

What does your revolution look like? What feeds your soul? How do connect with yourself? How are you affecting others? What do you WANT your revolution to look like?

Personal Growth or Just “A Growth”?

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So I’ve been fixated lately on “understanding it all”. There are boatloads of benefits that come with this tenacious curiosity…mixed with a lack of adequate sleep, poor prioritization and being late to work. I’m so very grateful that my boss enjoys this personal journey as much as I do. She’s quite forgiving that I have been late all this week because I’ve been obsessed with processing my emotions and my life while still needing to work my second job and follow through on my homework assignments for school.

The Burning Questions

Something upsetting happens and you begin to ask, “what does it mean? Where am I meant to be? What’s the right path? Have you gone from feeling out-of-sync to “in-tune” with your soul so much that things keep happening to validate your own curiosity? A friend reads you something random that you end up randomly reading the next day. A conversation with one person primes you to handle a conversation with someone else shortly thereafter? A burning question that is seemingly unanswerable gets answered through someone else’s scenario which is exactly the same? Everything seems to be tying into everything else? Am I making any sense?

Unexpected Answers

I’ve been meditating often lately, asking questions, searching for answers and letting go of expectations. The other day a friend insisted reading me a page out of A Return to Love, a book about compassion and love unburdened by the ego (as much as thats possible anyway). It resonated with me so much that I immediately bought it. I felt a bit guilty that I didn’t finish another book, recommended by a different friend, so hurriedly completed that one while I waited for this one to arrive. When I received it, I opened a random page just to see what I picked. As I began reading I realized…I was reading exactly the same page my friend felt the urge to share with me. The one page that made me want to buy it! I was hooked. Feeling accomplished that I finished the other book recommended to me, I called that friend and told her about the new one. As I was backpedaling a bit, due to her silence, and thinking I sounded like a crazy hippie lunatic, she reassured me that it was a bizarre coincidence. She asked “did you look into the page numbers and see if they mean anything?”. GASP! She was still with me! And curious! Ok, this never seems to happen! So, the natural next step was to thoroughly engulf myself in Numerology…mind you I do have a TON of homework to do with an exam coming up. Which means I’m interested in anything BUT math right now. None of these recent scenarios are really answers and yet I feel like I’m be guided smoothly towards them, well, except for the homework part.

Doubt & Validation

I though to myself, maybe I’m going too far. Maybe I’m questioning things too much. Maybe this is unhealthy because it’s distracting me from my laundry, my homework, my clock…Then someone else brought up a conversation about spirituality and another person spoke of “higher vibrations” and our “higher selves”. I feel things shifting. I feel a power beyond myself, validating my thoughts and allowing me to let go of old stories and limiting beliefs. I’m bathing in hope, inspiration, creativity, beauty and connectedness. Examining my own nature no longer feels like a growth inside me that makes me overanalyze everything but personal growth that is allowing me to bask in this journey of self exploration with others that find it just as valuable and essential. I am so eternally grateful.

Revel in the beauty that is uniquely you

Enjoy every conversation and every interaction

Listen with eagerness and engage with enthusiasm

Let your inner light guide you without judgement or expectations

Trust your intuition

Live passionately

The Island of Utopia

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We all live on a Mainland, filled with typical jobs, responsibilities, consumerism and shallow emotion. The Mainland is where newspapers need to be written at the 6th grade level, $800 iPhones are purchased regularly and people talk about the newest Star Wars movie or celebrities as if they’re gods. In typical hierarchy, the higher classes judge your value in whether or not you have MA or PhD at the end of your name and many others are constantly competing to “keep up with the Jones'”. That’s the Mainland. We all have lived here or currently live here. There are all walks of life on the Mainland, but the Critic, the Optimist and the Warrior are more common than others.

Some of us walk out to the Cliffs of the Mainland to appreciate the ocean because we know the Island is out there. We’ve heard of its beauty. According to legend, it’s a snowglobe of perfection filled with happiness, hopes, dreams and transcendence. Elders make it appear like a mystical utopia where enlightenment comes naturally. Here’s the thing though…the waters can be choppy, you can’t fly there, there are no hotels and its innocent beauty has been preserved. The worlds deepest trench is between the Mainland and the Island, new species are discovered all the time and its particularly dangerous because many predators breed there.

The Island tests our courage.

Some people rarely go to the Cliffs because the edge terrifies them, they can dream on occasion but it never goes beyond that. They are susceptible to gossip, conspiracies and fear mongering. Complaining is their way of life, dreaming is not acceptance of reality, that’s for the hippies and the rich. Their relationships are typically toxic, non-existent, superficial or co-dependent. A staggering percentage of the population on the Mainland are these types. These are the Critics.

Others are so fascinated by the island that they charter a small boat and go to a smaller, closer island. Although it’s not really an island but more like a big rock similar to Alcatraz, only, there’s no prison. They find it beautiful and intriguing so they return to the Mainland with stories of hope and gratitude, convincing themselves they have experienced enlightenment of the Island, even though its not the actual Island. These are our Optimists, always giving advice, always trying to help. But they, too, were fearful of the turbulent waters in the journey to the Island. So they settled for one with a shorter path, less risk and faster gratification. These people are happy and content, they lift us up, light up a room and make us feel connected.

Then there are those of us that build up the courage to journey to the Island. We are more curious than fearful and feel like we have to see this Island that our culture so highly regards. Starry eyed and fueled by determination, we begin. We encounter storms and sharks, fear of death and gratitude for life. Every day survived in these conditions we feel more blessed and more surprised at our own resolve. It’s terrifying and we wonder why the hell we thought this was ever a good idea. There’s a reason no one you know has ever actually been there, we think to ourselves. This really sucks. We get stung by jellyfish but learn that the pain eventually goes away. A shark bites off a finger and we learn to write with the other hand. We run out of food but learn to fish with dolphins. Every “bad” thing, teaches us something else. It’s long and arduous. When we finally arrive bruised, beaten and exhausted, we find the Island is nothing the stories spoke of. It’s no more of a utopia than the tiny Alcatraz-like rock. But that’s ok, we think.  This is beautiful BECAUSE of what it took to get here. We arrive different, changed, grateful. These are the Warriors.

When we return to the Mainland, we share our story. The Critics judge us and make fun of our missing finger, the Optimists think you learned what they did, but the still have all their digits and no idea how to fish. But the Warriors, they see you immediately. They see the waves of the journey in your eyes. They can relate with their missing toe and tales of near death. They don’t speak of the Island as a utopia, because like you, they have been there, and  know the utopia resides in you, every second of every day. They know that some lessons can only be learned when you need to learn them for your very survival.

 

 

Razors edge

Sometimes when you set a goal with enough passion to light the world on fire you have moments when you wonder if you yourself can withstand the heat. Here’s my New Years resolution, which I proudly stole from Brene Brown:

I want more courage, more happiness, and more connection in 2016 and I’m willing to invest the time and effort to make that happen. I’m ready to DO THE WORK – to LEARN SOMETHING NEW – to CHALLENGE OLD STORIES. And, I’m going to do it with a group of people who are also choosing to be brave with their lives. 

Armed with this strong intention, my purpose is to build authentic connections with the people I care about. It’s difficult to be the bigger person. To rise above things. To let people walk away because they aren’t okay with your boundaries or what’s important to you. It’s difficult to build strong connections because it means being vulnerable, having boundaries, not being a doormat, being authentic and holding people accountable. It means holding yourself accountable for your behavior and owning your mistakes. It means knowing what beliefs enable you to be a better person and which ones limit your growth. Even more difficult is redefining what friendship and family truly mean to you. 

It’s challenging to stand by what you believe in, to keep moving forward when you’re climbing a mountain and the altitude is causing the air to become thinner. It gets harder to breathe and you wish for the ground to level out for a while. People will walk away, people that you love. Others will stay firmly by your side and choose to grow with you. Many times I have felt alone in my quest to be authentic because friends and family have found vulnerablity and accountability far too uncomfortable.

In typical life, we may take a wrong path, lose our sense of direction and feel beaten down by dissapointment or unmet expectations. But when we rise up, stand tall, beat back the evil inner gremlins and still show compassion, respect and vulnerability THAT is when we draw true connection into our lives. I love with my whole heart, it means things feel alive, all the time, for me. This year my focus is to accept what happens as part of my experience towards choosing courage more often, and hopefully, encourage others to do the same. I do that by releasing blame, accepting myself as I am, sharing my story and reaching out to like-minded people. I’m looking at the hard moments as stops on my journey, always finding my way back to the main trail towards authentic human connection.

My life has been difficult the last 4 years. I married my best friend of 7.5yrs, then divorced him a little over a year and a half later. I lost our baby. I fell in love with a man and his 4 children. I moved in. Then, moved out a year and a half later. A coupl close family members battle addiction and mental illness while making a series of poor choices that have left them homeless. After enough time, I sadly realized my help was only enabling them. My grandfather, who was my mentor and friend, lost his battle with cancer. I’m about to move for the 4th time and I’ve gone through countless jobs trying to find my voice, my place. I have since, found my place, for now. I’ve made new friends, lost old ones and even volunteered at a personal growth institute to understand the pain. My mentors have been my cheerleaders. All in the last 4 years. It’s been tough. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve loved with more passion than I ever thought I was capable of.  I chose to stand up, with my head held high and walk the razors edge. It can be sharp and cutting, but it’s rewarding and so incredibly worth all the pain I have endured to build meaningful connection. I’m a warrior on a mission. With blazing passion, fierce determination and unyielding  authenticity I will challenge old beliefs, face my inner gremlins and be the change I want to bask in for the rest of my life. I choose the razors edge, in all its glory.