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Saturday, September 24, 2011

dear grads,

Back in June, I found this quote by playwright Tony Kushner in The Christian Science Monitor, a portion of his message to the Muhlenberg College graduating class of 2011.  I thought it was really great...

"Everywhere, the world is in need of repair.  Fix it.  Solve these things.  You need only the tools that you have learned here, even if you didn't pay as much attention as you should, even if you're a mess and broke and facing a future of economic terror.  Who isn't?  Who doesn't?

Help.  Help.  Help.  The world is calling.  Heal the world, and in the process, heal yourself.  Find the human in yourself by finding the citizen, the activist, the hero.  Down with the brutal-minded misadventurers.  Go after them.  You know where they are...

Duty calls.  The world calls.  Get active.  No summer vacation, no rest for you.  We have been waiting too long for you.  We need your contribution too desperately, and if they tell you your contribution is meaningless, if they tell you the fix is in and there's no contribution to be made, if they tell you to contribute by shopping your credit card into exhaustion, if they tell you to surrender to the brilliant, dazzling confusion your education should have engendered in you, exchange that quick-silver prolificity for dull monotone certainty, productive only of aggression born of boredom and violence, born of fear, born of stupidity, they're lying.  Don't trust them; get rid of them.  You know how they are.  Shout down the devil."

In the same collection of commencement speeches, Elie Wiesel said this to the kids at Washington University in Saint Louis:

"My commandment is, 'Thou shalt not stand idly by."  Which means when you witness an injustice, don't stand idly by...  when you enter this world and you say the world is not good today, good!  Correct it!"


Over the summer, I had several random conversations with various fresh-out-of-school-20-somethings.  While speaking with them, I was transported to the days, the months, the years of excitement, hilarity, wonder, confusion and depression following my own college graduation.

15 years ago, I had this glamorous image of what life would be like as a young, independent adult.  I pictured myself sort of like Rachael on Friends, surrounded by attractive buddies, working as a fashion-y something-or-other with bouncy hair, laughing and dating my way to 30.  But that's not what happened.  Like, really, um, not at all, you know?     

I spent most of that decade in a fog of high expectations and draining disappointments.  That degree I worked so hard to earn completed my resume but it didn't provide me with much needed direction.  So I floated aimlessly for a long time...  and I cried a lot.  I kept thinking, I'll be happy when I find a job.  I'll be happy when I make lots of money.  Then I'd find a job and feel happy for a little while, then I'd realize that the job didn't appease my confused mind after all.  So I'd search for another opportunity.  Another happy place.  And in the meantime, I'd cry some more.

I thought that money and employment would give me an identity, give me status, give me self value.  I'd be able to buy a new wardrobe filled with expensive brand names, lease a car with a sunroof and leather seats, rent a sweet apartment on Beacon Hill, dine regularly at hot restaurants and run with a fun party crowd.  I thought I needed to HAVE in order to BE.  Be we don't HAVE happy; we ARE happy.  We can't pick up the latest "Happiness" at Saks or sell vintage "Joy" on Ebay.  It cannot be bought or stolen or borrowed.  It's something that we just have to figure out how to BE while society is screaming for us to just HAVE.

What's so great about "having" when half the world is suffering?

I wonder if we, as a human race, would find REAL JOY if we embarked on our 20's with a different goal.  With a goal to use our education to BE happy and SPREAD happy instead of to BUY happy.  It'd be an enormous shift.  I mean, if you could die happy or die rich, which would you pick?  (No, they are not mutually exclusive and, yes, I know that our nation is built upon capitalism, but let's just pick one for the sake of seeing which of the two holds more clout...)

You picked happiness, right?  I knew you would!  :-)  There's a reason The Dalai Lama is so confident when he states that the purpose of living is to be happy.  When we open up our interpersonal conversations to bigger ideas and talk about shifting away from status quo, real change becomes possible.  We can awaken to what is really important, understanding that there is a big world out there full of people who need help finding their own happy places.  I'm not talking about dropping our lives and moving to Africa to build schools (though that would be amazing).  There is joy and healing to be administered in our own communities, be it environmental, spiritual or otherwise, which may not cost a dime to do.  And that is, like, totally, like, inspiring.  Seriously.

If I could zap a message into my own 20-something brain, it'd be, "Stop focusing on the money, the status, the stuff.  Ironically, it matters very little.  This is a confusing time.  So just survive for a little while.  Stop thinking and take time to listen.  Understand the bigger picture.  Acknowledge the goddess that lives within, a goddess of pure love.  If you let it, in time that love will bring joy to the world and value to your life.  And in the meantime, find happiness in this very moment.  Right now.  And now....  oh, and this is a joyful one...  and this one, too..."

Peace, love, gratitude...  and, like, happiness, you know?

Friday, September 16, 2011

letter from chief seathl (seattle) to president franklin pierce, 1854

Chief Seathl

I found this letter in a book called Mother Earth Spirituality by Ed McGaa, Eagle Man.  Please read mindfully...


"The Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land.  The Great Chief also sends us words of friendship and good will.  This is kind of him, since we know he has little need of our friendship in return.  But we will consider your offer.  For we know that if we do not sell, the white man may come with guns and take our land.

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land?  The idea is strange to us.  If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of this earth is sacred to my people.  Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing, and every humming insect is hold in the memory and experience of my people.  The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.  So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us...

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.  Man did no t weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it.  Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.  But we will consider your offer to go to the reservation you have for my people.  We will live apart, and in peace.

It matters little where we spend the rest of our days.  Our children have seen their fathers humbled in defeat.  Our warriors have felt the shame, and after defeat they turn their days in idleness and contaminate their bodies with sweet foods and strong drinks.  It matters little where we spend the rest of our days.  They are not many.  A few more hours, a few more winters, and none of the great tribes that once lived on this earth or that roam now in small bands in the woods will be left to mourn the graves of a people once as powerful and hopeful as yours.  But why should I mourn the passing of my people?  Tribes are made of men, nothing more.  Men come and go, like the waves of the sea.  Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny.

One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover - our God is the same God.  You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land:  but you cannot.  He is the God of man; and his compassion is equal for the red man and teh white.  This earth is precious to Him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its Creator.  The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes.  Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.

But in your perishing you will shine brightly, fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.  That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.  Where is the thicket?  Gone.  Where is the eagle?  Gone.  And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt?  The end of living and the beginning of survival.  So we will consider your offer to buy the land.

If we agree it will be to secure the reservation you have promised.  There, perhaps, we may live out our brief days as we wish.  When the last red man has vanished from the earth, and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prairie, these shores and forests will still hold the spirits of my people.  For they love this earth as a newborne loves its mother's heartbeat.  So, if we sell our land, love it as we've loved it.  Care for it as we've cared for it.  Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you take it.  And with all your strength, with all your mind, with all your heart, preserve it for your children, and love it...  as God loves us all.  One thing we know.  Our God is the same God.  This earth is precious to Him.  Even the white man cannot be exempt from the common destiny.  We may be brothers after all.  We shall see..."


There's nothing to add to this letter; Chief Seattle so gracefully says it all.  But I will share my intention for posting...  and it's not to depress you.  

My intention is to encourage us (myself included) to awaken from this sleepy state we all "live" in.  We have worked so hard to throw off the earth's natural balance.  We humans have topped the food chain for so long that we've forgotten how much we rely on those at the "bottom" to live peacefully.  Truly peacefully.  And what is the bottom after all?  The tiniest seed inspires our gardens.  An invisible bug destroys our crops.  Every living organism on this planet is created from one source; and we are all of equal value, all built 'round the same loving core.  But humans are hellbent on abusing the balance.  So why has God allowed us to come to this?  Why did God's divine plan include the disappearance of the hunter/gatherer and the emergence of the mini-mart?  What do we do?  How do we change?  Do we toss out our SUVs and maintain strict diets of leaves and berries?  Not possible, right?    

I have a theory.  (Of course I have a theory, don't I always?  Ha!)  Over the years we humans have no doubt lost our collective way.  But, in light of divine order, God (or whatever you want to call it) must have had a hand in it.  This enormous earthly shit show that we've created for ourselves is therefore happening ON PURPOSE.  So WHY???

We are here to learn the truth about God's love through its opposite energy.  Since the Native Americans already had thorough understanding of God's love and were able to live harmoniously with the earth, their race was no longer of value for the purpose of spiritual growth.  The race had fully matured.  So God let the white man grow stronger to destroy the weak, conquer the woman, train the killer and fuck up the planet to the point that this beautiful, breathing, living, feeling Mother Earth now revolts.  It's not that the white man is bad.  He's just playing his role, doing his job so our souls can better understand the true meaning of love through its equal opposite.  And there's plenty of opposite to go around.

Honestly, between you and me, sometimes I get really pissed off at God.  I mean, the heartache and pain and suffering that we experience, and that we subject the planet to, is effing horrific.  And God just keeps on sending down new souls to participate in his big old science experiment.  So frustrating.  I get so torn up about this,  teetering between moments of Holy shit, I love this life! and Holy shit, I want out!   But in the end, my heart always pulls me back to the balanced middle - the place where I know I have a purpose for living and I feel deep desire to do my earthly job to the best of my abilities. 

We cannot return to the days of building wigwams, feathered headdresses and birch baskets.  It's impossible.  And evidently, this lifestyle was not divinely intended for us.  So we need to focus on doing our jobs with the tools that God has given us today.  What has God given you?  A voice?  A loving heart?  A talent?  Great legs?  Maybe you think God forgot to give you anything at all?  If that's the case, think again.  You're not devoid of gifts, you've just wandered off the path.  We each possess special talents and our job is to find out what they are and to use them to find ourselves again. 

I think that my current job is to encourage people to connect with the truth.  (Side note:  not MY truth, THE truth...  because my stories are just shared ideas that might shine on one tiny corner of the truth, or maybe might just shine on me.  Who knows?)  Even if these words reach an audience of one, and that one person is inspired to look within, I'm happy and my job is underway.  Soon I might move onto another job; as life is constantly changing I imagine my calling will change, too.  Thankfully, God has gifted me with flexibility and I know I'll be able to respond to the next opportunity when it presents itself.  

White, red, brown or black, our lives are in the hands of the Universe.  That might be the only thing I know for sure.

Peace, love, gratitude,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

tell me something good

Sherrie received a check for $100K from Target to fund her school's programs.

I never watch Ellen, but yesterday I was flipping to the US Open and the channel somehow rested on her show.  The timing was perfect.  Sherrie Gahn, Whitney Elementary School principal, was on, talking about some of the challenges she faces and overcomes in her school.  Her story was incredibly inspiring, but I'm not posting about her many achievements today.  I wanted to share something that she teaches her kids.

She says, never tell on a peer when he does something bad.  Tell on a peer when he does something good. 

I couldn't get over the simplicity of this idea.  I tried it out last night with my own kids.  They were baffled:

Says SG, "But what if XG is riding his bike without a helmet?"

Then PG, "So you don't want me to tell you that SG squirted toothpaste all over the sink tonight?"  (Hmmm...) 

I respond, "No, Mommy means to say that if big sister helps little brother tie his shoes, Mommy wants to know and you can feel really proud and happy about it." 

Excitedly kids cheer, "Fun!  Will we get candy???" 

There is certainly an adjustment period, but I can absolutely envision the long-term results.  And I like what I see!  What a great way to teach our kids how to practice kindness!   If you want to learn more about Sherrie's story click here.  Please pass it along!

Peace, love, gratitude,

Thursday, September 8, 2011

removing mara's mask

this is mara, disguised as a loving god as buddha sat beneath the pipal tree

okay, so can i just share a quick revelation today?  some of you read every day and some pop in and out sporadically.  or maybe you just landed on my by accident today b/c you were googling something completely irrelevant.  regardless, i'm going to overshare a little more of my spiritual journey with you.  if it doesn't make sense and you care to see the way this personal realization unfolded feel free to scroll down and read the two power of now posts, the disposable planet post and the buddha post, all from this week and last.

my intention of this entry is to be less about me and more about the process of understanding fear and how fear dresses up like love in order to protect our humanness.

when mara appeared to buddha, he was always disguised - as a woman, as a loving spirit, whatever.  when mara spoke to buddha, he used loving words, he misled, he lied.  understanding how this sneaky little shit works, i realized something.  two years worth of meditations telling me to move up to new hampshire have not been from my loving spirit, they've been from mara.  they are meditative thoughts that were manifested out of fear.

for me, the fears are of large-scale natural disaster, of a population so huge we are unable to feed ourselves, of being swallowed by all of the packaging material that fills every shelf of every store in every town in every country, and of large-scale economic failure.  i'm a little embarrassed to admit this publicly, but i'm being painfully honest for the sake of my journey... and maybe yours, too.  so these are the thoughts that, when i let them in, keep me up at night and fill my face with marble-sized zits.  i'm not afraid of death but the idea of living through mass chaos or on a suffering earth is unbearable.   

i kept thinking god was trying to get a message through to me:  get your ass to the mountains and save your family from certain doom.  but, again, this was not my spirit speaking, it was mara (my ego).  so it's time to send that tricky bastard packing.  it's time to use my awareness to focus on decisions made through loving thoughts rather than fearful ones.  this may seem really simple or obvious or psych 101-ish, but it's a holy-shit-size moment for me.  i wanted to share it b/c i think it's a really good example of self-healing through meditation and spiritual understanding. 

i'm not sure i would've gotten here without this blog and without your support.  if you didn't read, i wouldn't write, so i thank you for helping me to recognize my personal demons. and thank god for chopra and tolle, two amazing teachers.  we are all connected.

peace, love and endless gratitude,

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

buddha in the house

Do you know the story of Buddha?  Though over the years I've learned a bit of buddhist philosophy, I never took the time to learn about Buddha himself.  Honestly, I didn't even know if he really existed, which is funny b/c after reading the book Buddha by Deepak Chopra, I found out he did really exist, but then he didn't really exist either.  This everything-is-nothing philosophy is complicatedly simple.

Here are some spirity crib notes on Chopra's version of Buddha's life...

It all starts with a warrior king, Suddhodana, viciously defending his kingdom called Sakya, India, 563 BC.  Though he's a merciless soldier, he's a loving husband and worships his wife Maya.  She was unable to conceive a child but Suddhodanna never turned to other women.  One night, Maya had a premonition she'd bear a son.  She rushed to the king's rooms and 9 months later Prince Siddhartha was born.  Tragically, Maya died shortly after giving birth.

An old ascetic hermit named Asita predicted that this baby would be the Buddha, the One who returns light to the world of suffering.  He visited Mara, a nasty demon who lorded over pain and death, and told him his prediction.  Mara was pissed.  He tried to curse the baby but it didn't really work.  

Meanwhile, a group of high-caste holy men, Brahmins, presented Suddhodana with his son's astrological charts.  All signs pointed to greatness.  The king was thrilled but there was more.  Siddhartha would rule the four corners of the earth but it was predicted that Suddhondana would disown him as a son in the process, as the boy had a very strong spiritual calling.  Asita confirmed the reports.

Suddhodana wanted his son to be a warrior king like him, so he and the kingdom's high Brahmin, Canki, composed a plan to keep Siddhartha's spiritual tendencies smothered by disallowing him to encounter any type of suffering until the age of 32.  Suddhodana banished every single old, sick, disfigured or ugly person in the the kingdom.  He sent them to a place just beyond the kingdom walls called "The Forgotten City".

Siddhartha lived happily for many years but his pull toward heaven was strong.  He asked big questions and felt deep compassion.  His temperament was mild, not one of a warrior, which disappointed the king.  When his older cousin Devadatta was imported from a neighboring kingdom to teach the prince toughness, Siddhartha was in for a shocker.  This kid was an asshole.  He threw rocks at Siddhartha, teased him, threatened him, disrespected his best friend, a low-caste stable boy named Channa.  The demon Mara tapped into Devadatta easily and planned to use him to rub out the future Buddha, but Mara did not leave it all up to Devadatta.

Mara continued to shadow Siddhartha over the years, too, and crept into the prince's thoughts formally, encouraging him to become his student.  But so did Asita, who appeared to teach him how to meditate like a yogi and find stillness. 

On Siddhartha's 18th birthday, Suddhodanna threw him a coming out party for the neighboring (enemy) kingdoms, complete with mock battles.  Siddhartha reluctantly participated.  He was an excellent athlete and well-trained warrior so he easily bested his opponents in all matches, and did so without armor.  In his last show of competition, he accidentally pierced his opponents neck with an arrow and the man died.  Devadatta publicly chided him and Channa stepped in to defend.  Siddhartha came between the two and forced the challenge back to himself.  He and Devadatta duked it out.  The prince won, sparing D's life, and had a godlike moment when he envisioned himself jumping off a cliff in complete peace and heard the words Surrender and be Free.  Channa lived, too, but not without punishment.  Low-castes can be killed for even breathing on a high-caste.  The king whipped him brutally and spared his life.

So in revenge for complete humiliation, Devadatta, the total SOB that he was, found out that Siddhartha had a crush on this girl named Sujata.  Devadatta went to her room at night, raped and killed her, then secretly tossed her body in the river.  Thinking there was a chance she could still be alive, Siddhartha and Channa escaped the kingdom walls to search for her.  What they found instead was The Forgotten City.  Siddhartha couldn't believe what the king had done to control him.

For the next decade, he spent his time helping the poor.  During this time he also got hitched to a woman named Yashodhara and had a son named Rahula.  He would not stay to watch his family grow, though.  His spiritual calling overwhelmed him and he gave up his worldly status, changed his name to Gautama and retreated to the jungles, forests and mountains of India.

He sought Dharma, gurus, wisdom.  He studied under an ancient hermit and learned to meditate for days on end.  He became frustrated by a monk named Ganaka who challenged his desire to serve others, he met gurus Alara and Udaka who taught him the wisdom of ancient scripture, but Gautama was still not enlightened.  Nobody seemed to be.

So he retreated to cave on the edge of the Himalayas with five ascetic monks who believed he knew the path to enlightenment.  They were in and around that cave for five years.  Gautama basically spent the entire time in
samadhi, a deep meditative trance, and the fab five had to wash him, feed him, and keep him propped up.  The monks knew Gautama was someone special and were devoted to his teachings and promise of enlightenment, but the brutal elements and starvation wore them down.  One by one they left Gautama, who would've perished if not for a young girl named, get this, Sujata, who climbed the mountain looking for the god who lived there and could bless her upcoming marriage.

When she found him, she nursed him back to health in her dead grandmother's old shack.  Once he recovered fully, he spent some more QT in samadhi under a pipal tree outside the shack.  There he met Mara and they battled through spirit.  At last, Mara tried to coax Gautama into his trap with an offer of marriage to his three beautiful demon daughters.  Gautama smartly accepted the girls on conditions that they never be desired by or lusted after by him, and that they must learn to love.  The girls turned into demons and disappeared. 

Gautama emerged as the Buddha, a living god.

As Buddha, he could bring back the dead and right the wrong.  His powers were miraculous.  He found his fab five and returned to Sakya where a battle was raging beyond the kingdom walls.  He entered the gates and reconnected briefly with his wife and child, enlightening them with one embrace, then headed back outside to take care of the battle, which was in full swing.  The fab five were scared entering the battle scene but Buddha assured them that they could end war with words.  He beamed radiant light and awed the soldiers.  He told the people that they write their own futures, they just have to decide to live it.  The men put down their swords.  Miraculous.

He did, however, allow Devadatta and Channa to violently settle their long-standing personal battle.  The warriors nearly killed each other but because of Buddha's grace and wisdom, both survived.  Suddhodana, though old and a little nuts, was still king. 

Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching his Dharma.  He had a large following that included people from high and low castes, monks and royals.  Even Devadatta and Channa joined him.  He brought yoga to the world and released it to all levels in the social hierarchy of India.  His love knew no boundaries.  His story actually reminds me a lot of Jesus' story.  The biggest difference being Buddha was able to live a long life and spread his teachings.  He died at 80 from eating bad pork.  (Huh?)


Chopra brought Buddha to life beautifully.  What amazes me about this storyteller is that he presents dialogue and history and spirituality confidently and convincingly and without judgment; in order to do this he's got to have complete understanding of his subjects and his spirit.  And he does.  He is an extraordinary man.  Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

"This world is nothing more than desire, and every desire makes me run after it.  Why?  Because I believe that it's real."

"The dust holds its shape for a fleeting moment when I throw it into the air, as the body holds its shape for this brief lifetime.  When the wind makes it disappear, where does the dust go?  It returns to its source, the earth.  In the future that same dust allows grass to grow, and it enters a deer who eats the grass.  The animal dies and turns into dust.  Now imagine that the dust comes to you and asks, 'Who am I?'  What will you tell it?  Dust is alive in a plant but dead as it lies in the road under our feet.  It moves in an animal but is still when buried in the depths of the earth.  Dust encompasses life and death at the same time.  So if you answer 'Who am I' with anything but a complete answer you will have made a mistake."

"The fire of passion burns out eventually.  Then you dig through the ashes and discover a gem.  You pick it up; you look at it with disbelief.  The gem was inside you all the time.  It is yours to keep forever.  It is buddha."

My ultimate fave and the one I tell my kids every day:  "Winning and losing are the same thing.  Both are nothing."


Gautama defeated Mara and became Buddha at 35 years old.  I'm 35 now and I'm thinking there's a reason I'm reading his story now.  I'm definitely at a point in my spiritual journey where I feel a lot of balance, I can genuinely understand and integrate a deeper level of wisdom into my life, I can see situations more clearly and feel an almost ever-present spiritual buzz in my core.  I still need to break some bad habits but my biggest obstacle is a doozie.  I am still battling fear.  After reading this book, I realized that the fear that nags me and follows me is that bugger Mara.  I'm not sure if I have the power to defeat Mara like Buddha did.  But personifying the fear as Mara (maybe the same as Tolle's Ego?) helps me put a demonic face on my fears and makes me work harder to rid myself of those useless thoughts. 

If I can't defeat Mara, I don't think I'll be able to enlighten, which, at first, bums me out.  But when I realize the good that will come from the journey I feel happy. 

The Buddha lives in everyone.  Even me.  Even you. We are all gems.

Peace, Love, Gratitude,

Friday, September 2, 2011

spirity crib notes on "the power of NOW: a guide to enlightenment": part deux

i really liked eckhart tolle's instructional on how to physically connect body and soul.  check it out:

Direct your attention into the body.  Feel it from within.  Is it alive?  Is there life in your hands, arms, legs and feet - in your abdomen, your chest?  Can you feel the subtle energy field that pervades the entire body and gives vibrant life to every organ and every cell?  Can you feel it simultaneously in all parts of the body as a single field of energy?  Keep focusing on the feeling of your inner body for a few moments.  Do not start to think about it.  Feel it.  The more attention you give it, the clearer and stronger this feeling will become.  It will feel as if every cell is becoming more alive, and if you have a strong visual sense, you may get an image of your body becoming luminous.  Although such an image can help you temporarily, pay more attention to the feeling than to any image that may arise.  An image, no matter how beautiful or powerful, is already defined in form, so there is less scope for penetrating more deeply.

i love this method of digging deep and finding stillness.  tolle says that the road to enlightenment is within, not above - not a new concept but for some reason, reading it in NOW was a light bulb moment for me.  huge.  i tend to spend a lot of time reaching for the cosmos, praying to the big, fat, untamed universe, meditating in hopes to glimpse the great beyond.  but all i need to experience enlightenment is the small stillness in me.  so the physicality of this meditation is terrific b/c the focus of energy is within.  he says, "Do not turn your attention elsewhere in your search for the Truth, for it is nowhere else to be found but within your body."  my body is a temple.  love it.

i actually have had a few great meditative moments through this technique.  the one that had the most impact came last week.  i had just done a little reiki on myself and sunk into a really tingly state.  after some time of just enjoying the feeling of feeling, a crisp image grew before me, or around me, or in me...  i dunno.  it was weird.  the sky was blood orange and the sun was low and red on the horizon.  this blazing sky was the backdrop for the most amazing tree you could imagine.  wide.  so wide.  and gorgeous, thick roots that wrapped and twisted above ground.  the canopy was enormous.  its overall presence was totally inspiring.  overwhelming but welcoming at the same time.  then, as is typical with me, the instant i realized what was happening i got super excited and zapped right back into vanessa land.  dammit.  it's very hard to describe and i wish wish wish i could paint it or draw it or capture its profound beauty and depth.   

back to the book, though.  another tool that tolle shared that i find very useful is to not give yourself over completely to anything or anyone.  regardless of what your are engaged in or who you are with, keep a bit of your energy for you.  be mindful of your inner body in every moment.  be in your skin.  feel your feet on the ground, supported by the earth.  this takes practice.  i'm working on this every day and the more i consciously remember to tune in, the more habitual it becomes.  i find this especially helpful while mothering 3 small children.  it provides perspective and self-control when typically i'd be a the end of my rope.  and that's, like, everyday.

try it out, if you haven't already.  share your experience if you like.  your comments are always welcome.  

peace, love, gratitude...  and how 'bout a little stillness today,

happy new year!

hello, dear friends.  i was basically MIA this summer so apologies to those of you who had formerly worked my (almost) daily stories into one of your daily rituals.  i'm so grateful for the time we've spent "together" and hope the days and weeks and months ahead generate lots of wonder, tears, laughter and embarrassing moments (my embarrassment, not yours ;-).

summer sizzle has fizzled and here we are back to the daily grind.  i've always felt my personal calendar starts in september, not january, so, for me, this is a time of reassessment, re-commitment and reconnection.  plus, the weather is waaaaay nicer now than in january; so as i pull myself up by my bootstraps and trudge into personal renewal, i'm not dealing with seasonal depression, a messy dead christmas tree and 25 inches of wet snow.  nice!  it's sooooo much easier to follow through with resolutions when the sun is shining and people are mobile.  :-)  i imagine this is the situation for most of us, so let me ring in september 1st by saying, happy new year everyone! 

big xo's!
peace, love, gratitude,