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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Find The Light By Embracing The Darkness

Shadow

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will think of it as fate. ~Carl Jung

That doesn’t mean become Dexter. It means you cannot fully appreciate the boundless energy of the light until you have explored the depths of your soul.

The famous psychotherapist Carl Jung explained it as the shadow self or shadow side, the parts of ourselves that we deny. These are the dark corners in our minds, much like the scary closets when we were kids and the lights were out. If there was a nightlight it just wasn’t as scary, unless you had one of those damn Teddy Ruxpin’s with low batteries, then we were sure we were going to die. But eventually you muster the guts to tell mom and she doesn’t think you’re crazy, she just chuckles and tells you the batteries are low. Whew. Close call.

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Brene-Brown-Quote-Vulnerability

The spots we judge are usually the source of our limiting beliefs. The places that, when triggered, drive many to go for a drink, a cigarette or harder drugs. The thoughts that make us want to numb are the thoughts that stop us from embracing our light. If we want to reach our potential, and our goals, fear and judgement must be faced.

This has been a year of cleansing for me. I had allowed a circle of toxicity to creep up on me and swallow me up, because deep down I had some rotting grief leftover from a divorce 3 years ago. I thought I was past it, but I was simply in the eye of the storm. I was vulnerable and allowed a victim, deal-with-it-because-this-is-how-it-is mindset take over my snowglobe vision that anything was possible. Anything IS possible, ALWAYS. Change is scary… it’s also inevitable, exciting and invigorating. It’s all in how you choose to look at it. The glass is not half empty or half full, it’s both. People are the same way. We have good behaviors and bad behaviors. Yin and yang. We are always trying to find our balance.

This is my process for swimming through the ocean of emotion in order to get to the Island of Utopia:

  1. Self Awareness- Recognize your inner critic. It likes to disguise itself as the “voice of reality” when really it’s purpose is to create shame, to keep you safe from failure.
  2. Write it down- Record the guttural words of pain, sorrow or despair in all its glory. No more than 30min of writing.
  3. Name it!  Create a name for your inner critic. Personally I just call mine shame for clarity.
  4. Read the words you wrote outloud.
  5. Cry it out if necessary.”I hear you shame, you’re welcome to your opinions and you can ride in the car but you do NOT get to drive”.
  6. Immediately watch something or engage in something that makes you laugh. Alternatively, you could dance it out. The point is to do something completely different and get out of your head. Comedy works well. ☺️
  7. Let someone know. Have someone you can call when you open something up that you need to verbally process. For some people this may be a Therapist or Psychiatrist. 

These are just tips for getting in touch with your judgements and darker parts that you like to pretend don’t exist. We all have those spots and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. ☺️ Let me know what you think of these! 💜

Real Women Don’t Have Curves…

Or maybe they do, but it certainly, one hundred percent, undeniably, does not define a real woman.

Real women have Badassery.

I recently read Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes, which is mainly – in a very oversimplified kind of way – about being open to change and finding where you are happiest. As a highly successful entrepreneur and writer, she reminds the reader of something exceedingly important that many of us women in western culture forget…it’s incredibly powerful to be vulnerable. Similar to Shonda, I live in Califonia, where the weather is beautiful and so are the people. Everyone seems to regularly attend yoga, do crossfit and be training for marathons or tough mudders. I wear a size 16, and while I can do many of those activities and consider myself pretty, the fact is, I’m not as noticed as the active size 2 woman. I’m just not. We have an obsession in California with beauty and the rise of stars like Melissa Mcarthy and Adele seem to bring back statements like “big and beautiful” or “real women have curves”. The truth is, thick or thin, our shapes or looks shouldn’t be defining who we are. Our character should define who we are.

The Badass Lady

(You will find links to badass ladies in this paragraph)

She may have curves or she may be curveless. She may be the overweight woman in yoga class or the perfectly fit woman in line at the grocery store. She may be neither. She may be this mother, or this one. She may run a company. She may be a doctor. She may be a lesbian. She may be happily single and childless. She may be married. She may be divorced. She may be full of hearty advice. She may be Furiously Happy, yet, depressed. She may be you. A real woman is not defined by what she looks like, ever. She is defined by her level of integrity. Above all else, she is authentic and vulnerable, as often as possible, because she’s still human.

authenticity                                         integrity

A real woman will tell you when you’re wrong, but with compassion. She will admit when she has made a mistake. A real woman will have boundaries, she knows herself well enough to be clear on what she’s okay with and what she’s not. A real woman will stand up for what’s important to her with confidence, grace and tact. She will not shrink or puff up, but stand tall and strong in the face of adversity. A real woman loves with her whole heart. She gives only what she is comfortable giving and not an ounce more, yet she is more generous than most and never resentful. Well, maybe sometimes… sometimes, she’s resentful. But she knows she is in charge of feeling that way, or not. She takes ownership of her feelings and her behavior. A real woman isn’t perfect, she’s human.

A real woman is vulnerable

A real woman is clear about who she is. Her healthy boundaries help her to decide if you belong in her life, or not. Her loyalty runs deep, but she is not a doormat. She won’t give you guilt trips. Well, maybe sometimes… sometimes, she gives guilt trips. After all, she’s human and perfectly imperfect. She asks for what she wants, understanding that you are just as capable of saying no as she has learned to be. A real woman won’t keep you in her life because she’s afraid of being alone. She will nurture a friendship or relationship because she cares, deeply, and values the connection she has with you.

I once saw a girlfriend build a trailer to attach to her Honda Civic so she could move her bed and dresser 300 miles away. All because her mother asked her if she was going to ask her ex boyfriend. Badassery.

Another girlfriend doesn’t own a car but wanted to see one of her closest friends graduate 600 miles away. She took a bus, spent the night and then took the bus back the next day. Badassery.

I recently had a friend ask for help during an emotional breakdown. I’ve known her 9 years and she has never been that vulnerable. I was with her in two hours and have checked in almost every day this week. That’s the friend I am and that’s MY badassery.

I have had an incredible amount of badassery in my life. Women that have stood by my side, told me when I was wrong, applauded my accomplishments and listened to my hardships. They have been there when others have judged me, they have called me to the mat when everyone else was intimidated. They have come in every package. Old, young, black, white, heavy, thin, gorgeous, average, straight and lesbian. Some were curvy, some weren’t. Some were gear heads and some were girly girls. It didn’t matter.

They are badasses and that supersedes any superficial quality that our society values and objectifies.

When were you a badass recently?

(Men have badassery too, that is a different post 🙂 )

A Place Of Truth, A Place Of Happy


A fellow blogger recently posted about playing the “what if” game which fueled my own philosophical thoughts . These aren’t relationship “what ifs” but rather a vision…

What if there was a place, a community, where authenticity, vulnerability, boundaries and compassion were the most important values. A retreat you could visit or take a course, or volunteer, where you felt alive and supported no matter how you showed up as long as you were authentic? A place where you could work (if you wanted to), make a healthy living with, and raise your family while still having time for them? A place where you could really show up and be seen. A placed that valued you, whether you were an employee, a volunteer or a workshop participant.

No coolaid is served. It’s not an Amish community. Just a place of growth, mutual respect, boundaries, fun and laughter. Where you can be you because even if there is judgement there’s a bigger blanket of honest acceptance for our differences. What if that place existed? What if it wasn’t just for the rich but there were scholarships for those that were curious but otherwise couldn’t enjoy such a luxury? What if it attracted all types of people and not just yogis or vegetarians but CEO’s, students and families looking to challenge old stories. A place of integrity where the common thread is bravery

A place where you can ask tough questions, find elusive answers, have fun, or just be alone…all at the same place. Like a retreat/summer camp for adults on a sprawling property where you could spend time looking within or spend it communicating. Not a place to party, a safe place to find your inner light;what your good at, what feeds your soul.

Would you go?

Resiliency Through Curiosity, Creativity & Gratitude

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I took this photo, for whatever reason, this perfect little heart rock wasn’t swept away even though the sea kept washing over it. It, unapologetically, held its love in place.

In an article, featuring an interview with Brene Brown:

“Emotion is in the driver seat, with cognition and behavior riding shotgun. So when something difficult happens — a colleague shoots you an awful look at a meeting, a partner breaks up with you, you fail on a project — there’s an emotional response. Before you can articulate why, you have the urge to punch somebody or devour a dozen donuts or hide in bed for a fortnight … you need to wade into the discomfort of that reaction. You have to get curious about it…What is going on? What am I feeling? What’s driving it? How am I responding to it?This doesn’t come naturally. Some brain hacks will help: write it on a Post It note, type it into your phone, send yourself an email with what happened. Then, over time, you can actually have enough notes on your own unhelpful behaviors so that you can spot the places where you participate in creating your own suffering before you act out those same destructive or avoidant behaviors for the zillionth time.Resilience is more available to people curious about their own line of thinking and behaving”

In my personal experience, I find there are 3 components to practicing resilience: Curiosity, Creativity, Gratitude. There is so much around this topic that there are many other angles but for simplicity sake, let’s just focus on these.  Try these steps for yourself:

Curiosity

When you dig deep and question your thoughts and beliefs (which fuel your reactions and behaviors) you can find some pretty enlightening answers. If you’re finding blame and finger pointing you can pretty much bet you haven’t found the root yet. For me, when I ask a question that brings me to tears I know I’ve found the question that led me to answer I’m either avoiding, don’t want to accept or feel released. My curiosity ALWAYS leads me to a physiological response when I have found my answer. It’s usually an overwhelming emotion. Next time you come across a road block — get curious.

Creativity

This is a great way to channel your curiosity and emotion. Whether it’s writing, singing, painting or making. Finding some creative way to express yourself will not only give you an outlet but a way to tangibly explore your own battleground. Maybe it’s a letter, a poem or a journal entry. Maybe you painted with color, wrote a song or started building your house. It can be anything, just don’t do it to escape, do it to loosen up and be more open to curiosity. When your give yourself the gift of joy and you feel safe, you’re much more likely to be open and honest with what is truly going on.

Gratitude

After I’ve over-analyzed curiously examined my own emotions, and subsequently my behavior, I tend to want a lot of comfort and nurturing. I used to look for that in a partner, and sometimes I still do, but mostly I’ve learned to create that warmth in myself through gratitude. By appreciating other people I feel appreciated. By giving to others I feel full. By loving others wholly and unconditionally, I feel loved wholly and unconditionally. I find I get more out of expressing gratitude towards and about others than I do material things. I strongly value connection and I’m so grateful for the connections I have and have had in my past. A funny and strange thing about gratitude … my circle changed. Not so much the core group but the judgmental, gossipy and blamey ones seemed to fight. Eventually they started to disappear and happier people, interested in curiosity have gathered around me.

 

 

 

 

 

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.