Category Archives: courage

Flying the Tricolour of compassion

World of Peace ParisFriday night’s attacks in Paris reached Julia and I while we were at a music conference with our community of musicians and promoters.  Heartache and shock mingled with the fear that makes you want to lock yourself away.  One of the DJs who informed us what had happened also told us that she lives in Boston and had just been talking to a completely segregated high school of black students.  When she discussed the Civil rights movement with them, the students could not get their heads around white people risking their lives so black people could vote or white people wanting to help them at all since they are still experiencing such complete segregation.  In the middle of the country, there is a woman who works for Black Lives Matter who was recently sent death threats by the kkk. She is being targeted because she has adopted black children.  One of her friends came and got the children without hesitation.  This DJ explained to the children in Boston that the kkk was a gang.  A gang of white people with the same mentality as the Bloods and the Crips.  She told them to remember that if they were being recruited by one of the gangs in town that the gang, like the klan and other terrorist groups, would be about violence and would be asking them to perpetrate violence for the sake of violence.

My friend Drake once said that with great light comes a great shadow.  Recently, we have seen a shift in society with marriage equality and the confederate flag being taken down from the state capital of South Carolina.  This backlash is part of the shadow created by the light of our desire to become more human.

We can cower before the shadow or we can refuse to be bullied and light up the globe from so many angles, the shadows get smaller.  Seeing world monuments and people’s Facebook profile pictures flying the Tricolour in support of Paris shows me that we are still human and care for one another.  It becomes all too easy to have a militaristic response and paint one another the role of the enemy.  This is about an individual choice to be non-violent and more loving in our personal interactions.  It is a time to uphold our friendships.  Refuse to forgo your joy but feel it intensely and send it out into the shadows.

Liberty, equality, fraternity (and sorority baby)

How can I help?

A Conversation between two books and a TED talk

A Conversation between two books (When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron/ Letting Go by David R. Hawkings) and a TED talk (Listening to Shame by Brene Brown):


Listening to Shame: There was a part of me that was working hard to engineer staying small.
Letting Go:  Blame is the world’s greatest excuse.  It enables us to remain limited and small without feeling guilty.  But there is a cost- the loss of our freedom.  Also, the role of victim brings with it a self-perception of weakness, vulnerability, and helplessness…
Listening to Shame: Vulnerability is not weakness, it is our most accurate measurement of courage.
When Things Fall Apart: What we’re talking about is getting to know fear, becoming familiar with fear, looking it right in the eye- not as a way to solve problems, but as a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing smelling, tasting and thinking.  The truth is that when we really begin to do this, we’re going to be continually humbled. There’s not going to be much room for arrogance that holding on to ideals can bring.  The arrogance that does arise is going to be continually shot down by our own courage to step forward a little further.
Letting Go: It is not a matter of right or wrong; it is merely a matter of taking responsibility for our own consciousness.
When Things Fall Apart:
When we don’t blame it on anyone else, and also don’t blame it on ourselves, then…we encounter our heart.
As one student so eloquently put it, “Buddha nature, cleverly disguised as fear, kicks our ass into being receptive.”
Listening to Shame:
If we’re going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path. And I know it’s seductive to stand outside the arena, because I think I did it my whole life, and think to myself, I’m going to go in there and kick some ass when I’m bulletproof and when I’m perfect. And that is seductive. But the truth is that never happens. And even if you got as perfect as you could and as bulletproof as you could possibly muster when you got in there, that’s not what we want to see. We want you to go in. We want to be with you and across from you. And we just want, for ourselves and the people we care about and the people we work with, to dare greatly.
Things Fall Apart: “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.”
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Letting Go by David R. Hawkins

Finding each other’s capacity for brilliance

I watched Finding Forrester

 
last night. It reminded me of how we have allowed ourselves to embrace fear and the mediocrity of our stereotyped perception of one another to determine our collective course of action. 
 
This latest tragedy of the Grand Jury pardoning the homicide of Eric Garner in Staten Island is a symptom of how we perceive ourselves in the spectrum of the sream. 
 
Others can perceive us as ignorant or undeserving and pride can make us dig our heels into a chain reaction, but how we truly see ourselves can allow a break in the chain. We can transcend our guilt and avoidance by recognizing each other’s capacity for brilliance.
 
We just celebrated Thanksgiving, which for many has become a tradition of stuffing ourselves to the point of falling asleep because we have a hard time acknowledging that we repaid the courtesy the Native Americans showed to the pilgrims with genocide and reservations.
 
We downplay the brilliance and creative genius of Blacks in America because we are ashamed of slavery and inner city poverty. White people tend to have a homicidal chip on their shoulders. This may be because white is the abscence of color and we somehow don’t feel we fit into the spectrum of colors. So, we insist that we are beyond and above it; not a part of- but separate. 
 
The truth is we are all a part of the natural expanding universe, a part of the stream. While all ethnicity, races, cultures and religions have some natural spice to contribute to the overall flavor of life, all of us have access to the elementary beauty of what makes us move. To be alive is to surprise even ourselves.  Our stereotypes for each other may stem from our fear of the universe having no boundaries. We are a part of that. Surrender ignorance and you risk having your mind blown. If we can handle the pain of compassion we can choose to expand our hearts into the love that also has no boundaries.
 
May your week yield insight beyond annoyance.

 

Stream of Light for 9/11

Where there is love, we can overcome lamentation.  Beyond the fortress of censure and confrontation, we are allowed a glimpse inside the inner workings of beauty.  Where is the beauty in the ashes? In the rising; in the life that continues.  Where we are today in the stream of our own lives intercepts with the lives of countless who have ventured beyond our sight.  In this moment of stillness, feel the lives of billions around the world, yearning for the same freedom we hope to attain. Count what you have that can be taken away. What remains? What can you keep?  Hold it up. Hold that up for all to see.
Extending the moment of silence into now, we can reach out in our hearts to all of those who were directly and indirectly effected by the attack on the world trade center thirteen years ago.  We can hold them in our embrace and be with them as they yearn for healing and justice.
Beyond the controversy and the outrage, today allow this silence to help us ponder the suffering of those around us that we never fully know of or understand, and of the rising life provides us daily.  There is anger, there is fear but life itself offers strength and a freedom beyond what can be attacked.  
Hatred breeds more fear and decreases what security we may already have.  Looking at the examples of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani school girl who stood up to the Taliban and others around the world who stand up, not just for themselves or their countries, religions, or cultures but for an individual’s right to freedom that can apply to all of humanity.  
The Vietnamese teacher/poet Thich Nhat Hanh toured America at the time of 9/11 in 2001 and was aware of how much fear there was within our shores.  “How do we calm down our fear?  In the Buddhist tradition, there is a practice called compassionate listening.  This can help people suffer less. We also have the practice of loving speech.”
Whatever tradition or practice we have that allows us to be there for those around us and lift them up on this day, and every day, may me remember we have access to it.
Let the grass grow, let our hearts become tender as we guard what is essential to us.
“Positive vibrations toward healing of the planet
and our beloved beings who inhabit its many shores.” 
– David Picarillo

 

Love’s Labor is never Lost!

Happy Labor Day!  Here’s to taking time to recognize that this holiday, started in 1894,
marks the courageous efforts of labor unions and leaders to decrease the average work week from 7 days to 5 days, the average workday from 12 hours to 8 hours,  to improving conditions in the workplace, and liberating children from having to work in factories.
Being grateful for what we have, allows us to focus on the peace and productivity we wish for ourselves and those around us. Being thankful for the efforts others have made on our behalf increases our internal fortitude and allows for the perspective that increases true wealth all around.
We got to hang out with a friend this weekend who told us of a tragic event in her past in which she narrowly escaped death and was severely shaken to the core.  A therapist told her she could shift her perspective from being a victim to being a survivor.
She said that one word changed her life.  Instead of being powerless and continuing to suffer on many levels, she realized she was a warrior and that seemingly daunting tasks and scenarios now seemed like nothing in comparison with what she had already endured.  She recognized, that even in the moments of the event, that she had instinctually done what she needed to and had come out of it alive.
She is now a font of creative expression and has known great success. She continues to remain open to life and infuses a thoughtful aesthetic into everything she does.
Last night, we finished Marianne Williamsons’ book “The Law of Divine Compensation” and she stated that when we are grateful for what we have, clean out what needs to be cleaned out and allow ourselves to want what we want (which when we are in touch with our true being will not hurt anyone, including ourselves.) we become a magnet for our greatest good and abundance will flow to us.
She also used a great metaphor using Cinderella as our soul, the evil stepmother as our ego thoughts (keeping us in subjugation with menial tasks while projecting an inferior status onto us.) and our fairy godmother as our Source, that transforms base materials into what we can utilize to bring about our greatest good.
How does this all tie into Labor Day?  If we can take this day to realize what we have been though, and how our egos have kept us in check, afraid to allow us to identify with our true Source, we can realize we are capable of turning our lives around and being the grand refreshment to our concentric circles.
Here’s to prosperity on every level!

Joseph Campbell: Pez Dispenser of Myths

Joseph Campbell was perhaps the most celebrated and beloved cosmic Pez dispenser of the wisdom and meaning of myths in every culture, religion and philosophy on this little planet of ours. Not only was he the author of a myriad of liberating books such as The Power of Myth and The Hero with a Thousand Faces, he was George Lucas’s consultant for the original Star Wars Trilogy.  His talks with Bill Moyers on PBS are the stuff of legends, (literally).
In Reflections on The Art of Living he talks of leaving the university where he was studying Celtic Romance.  He had taken all the classes he needed for a PHD but before he wrote his dissertation, he began wandering through Europe where his real education began.  He discovered James Joyce, Picasso, the 1927 crew of writers and artists in Paris .  He realized that when getting a degree, you are not learning but doing what you are told to get the paper. He didn’t think he could go back into that bottle, so he walked away from getting his PHD and spent five years in the Depression up in Woodstock reading books.  Then he drove out to California and a friend of his drove with him to Carmel and introduced him to John Stienbeck, who got him a place to stay.  Joseph became involved with the characters in Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and he was the impetus for the big party in that book.  His wanderings led him to his understanding that, “as Schopenhauer says when you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you are into it, it’s a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect. So, I have a theory that if you are on your own path things are going to come to you. Since it’s your own path, and not one has ever been on it before, there’s no precedent, so everything that happens is a surprise and is timely.”
Essentially he advises us to leave the wasteland of our own stagnation and fears, forget what other people think of us and follow our bliss to our true center where the treasure lies and amidst those jewels, peace itself.

Stream of Light 7-16-14

For the periods of time when life bears down on us as if an unforgiving force, recognize that we are life itself.  Becoming cognizant of where we are responsible for our own misery can make the difference between loving the process and resigning ourselves to fate.   The sweetness of existence is the recognition of love bestowing love.

Bon Apetit Jered Nelson! and “Put down your phone, pick up a poem!”

Last week I wrote about my friend Jered, who is expanding his pottery business and training and hiring local potters.
He didn’t make his kickstarter goal but because he and his family put it out into the universe that they needed a specific amount of money and were open to receiving it, it came through in a different form.  Happily, this week a couple of investors loaned them exactly what they needed and Bon Apetit magazine is going to do something about Jered!
“Funny how that happens,” his wife Sarah Kobrinsky said.
This is an amazing example of how when we come to a place of knowing what we want to manifest and decide it is going to happen and are not shaken by appearances, but remain fully engaged, we can recognize our good when it comes to us and take it up with discernment and gratitude.  Julia often reminds me to ask for the best thing to happen for everyone involved.
Sarah also has a project as the Poet Laureate of Emeryville which is Poems on the Emery Go-Round, (the free shuttle bus service in Emeryville.)  Their tagline is:
“Put down your phone, pick up a poem!”
The city just approved her Call for Submissions and here is the link:

https://poetlaureateofeville.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/call-for-submissions_emery-go-round.pdf

If you are a poet or know a poet in the SF Bay Area, please pass this on!

Focus on positive news

Last night sitting by the fire of a friend’s house, I had a conversation with a fellow songwriter.  He said he was trying to write more positive songs but that he found it very difficult. He said he wrote mostly dark songs because there was so much to write about.  He recalled seeing a horrendous story in the newspaper at a gas station and wanted to write a song to remember the people who had been effected by the nightmare action the paper’s described.  I said that there lives were worthy of being remembered without being associated with the indignity of how they left us.  
 
It is true we can be overwhelmed by the terrible stories we are faced with on what appears to be a rising tide but it is equally true that what we focus on increases.  As storytellers we can choose to relate examples of hope and those that are making a difference.  
 
This morning I found a lovely talk by a woman who fights depression who went around the world to find positive hopeful stories in places we associate violence and despair.  She wanted to help her Junior High students escape from the age of Anxiety where suicide seems like a viable option and give them something to build on.  I also found a newspaper in the UK that reports only positive news.  I also learned about a rally against austerity (sternness or severity of manner or attitude.) in which 
speakers talked of facing current suffering and the inevitability of disaster and transforming that outlook by realizing, 
” The best way to reject a system that allows these things to happen is to envisage a new and better one, and nurture the values that will underpin it.”
Lucy Purdy
 
I will include the links and excerpts from what I found below but I also encourage you to find things that bolster your mood and strengthen you today.
They are out there.  Share what you find if you like.  
May your week be a great instructor.
 
 
 
Of the Iranian women Ruby team: “They were not going to let a piece of cloth stand between them and their dreams.”
 
“Sometimes we just want to know that the good guy can win.” – Kate McKenzie
 
“It’s not about ignoring the difficult things or ignoring the hard realities of life but its about rather what we can do about it.”
Rin Hamburgh- freelance journalist for Positive News.