Ever since I read My Grandmother's Hands by Resmaa Menakem and started a book discussion group on it, I keep pondering his idea of culture and how do we change our culture? What even IS culture, and our culture here in the US? What do we like, what do we not like? Honoring the many great things that created this culture to which many immigrants fled to be a part of, what can we recognize as unjust and ill-conceived? What do we need to weed out, what do we want to change and how?
From my interpretation on the reading, I believe culture starts from within. Trauma --both subtle and overt, current, historical and ancestral-- shape who we are, how we respond, and our view of reality. These traumas form what looks like our personality. Trauma that impacts the family looks like family traits. Trauma that impacts a people looks like culture. Changing a culture would require the desired change in "the tribe"...... and that change happens from a spark--one voice that projects and touches the hearts and minds of its neighbors and beyond. And, a major shake-up certainly helps create space for those voices to land. Enter our 2020 experience. What a shake-up to create the perfect environment for change!! Person by person, community by community, and in the age of the Internet, more potential for reach far and wide.
Are you ready to open up to this change? A change for social justice and a culture that creatively loves and supports one another? Starting with self-healing and turning inwards to be truthful with ourselves and to know our Truth, we can begin to grow into a personality that values daily practice of love for all living things. The more of us that chooses healing and builds our own capacities, the more that spreads, and the more it can change culture. A culture that cares, supports and lives curiously with others through conversation, connection, public policy and more. MLK Jr said, "Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness". I think this is what we get to discover in ourselves in listening for our Truth. In healing and clearing so we can hear our inner voice of peace and equanimity and vision and justice for all.
Personally, the more I listen to the many new voices creating podcasts and read the writings of the people who inspire me, the people I admire, the models who pave a path for me to see my own path, the more I know that if I listen closely and stay deeply connected with the true depth of meaning and value for my life, I will be like these people I admire. Only, it'll be in my own way and with my own voice. It's frightening and exhilarating at the same time.
For sure, this is only done in concert with the necessary work of self-healing. It has taken some years to get here but, thankfully, within these years I have felt dramatic progress steadily along the way and very often it is this progress that motivated the next progress. You need not look that far ahead, simply the next step into "right action". These are ongoing practices and continued seeking of community and like-minded voices-- as well as those who do not think like me --are a cornerstone for momentum. It is, in fact, often the voices of the latter that give me deeper pause and reflection. For the dichotomy of thoughts or the polarities of life is what often creates the most clear spotlight on vital matters. It is that which evokes the strongest of emotions that sometimes was/is the necessary spark to create the most impactful change or shift in thinking.
This year, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr, I listened to a podcast with host Marianne Williamson and her guest, MLK Jr's daughter Reverend Bernice King. Through this interview, I kept hearing the message that activism is part of our work here and that MLK's words on sacrifice were akin to the sacrifice of Jesus and other such stories of heroic peoples. MLK said: "Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable..... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals". This makes me think of my recent journal writing on "what we give up" and the fear of losing privileges, comfort, convenience, and a way of life to which we've become accustomed. What must we sacrifice? Are we prepared to struggle? Can we understand that struggle can simply mean our own personal angst in dealing with any sort of change, and ultimately that struggle creates a positive change and depth within us?
Marianne and the Reverend King end the interview with the idea that, while we look to our history of great people who sacrificed and led the way, these days the sacrifice and leadership is truly collective. Perhaps that can feel like a relief to those of us who feel yet ill-equipped for a huge, solo entry into boldness but still wish to pursue social justice and change in our world. But step forward we must. As a collective. As the Reverend Bernice King said, it must be a way of life, these steps for justice. What would that look like for you?
Still the start of 2021 and things seem to be taking shape through positive vibrational currents in the minds of many more of us. I feel it and I see it happening. I see that collective altruism and multi-level leadership or leadership by abilities-- what is your best role? MLK Jr Day is a day of service and celebration. "Give voice to your heart"* especially on this day, but let it be a spark of renewal and commitment for the year going forward. It takes every one of us to change a culture. I trust that these are the individual steps within a collective that will create a brighter future for and with our youth. For and with my children and all the children of this and the coming generations. What a wonderful way to invoke the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.
*My new 2021 calendar is from Istandforlove.com created by Sarah Love and today's message is "give voice to your heart". Apropros for this day. XO
"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it". -Maya Angelou
For some of us, this comes naturally.
For others of us, this is a tall order. It could feel impossible.
For all of us, it is not only possible but the whole premise of life.
It seems we go through life seeking the holy grail of "success". The truth is, success is subjective. Your idea of success might be to create and build a company, go public, make millions, and be famous. Others find success to be seeing your child graduate high school. And yet others are successful if they can just coax themselves out of bed every day to live a "responsible" life after years of self-medicating with drugs and alcohol. The common link in all of this is coming to a place where you feel you're meeting a meaningful goal; you're accomplishing something that takes inner strength, courage, and great effort. It is also about integrity. Some may accomplish a goal that seemed like "what they wanted" only to be unsatisfied, finding out that it was filled with inner conflict, guilt and/or shame. Integrity is key. These common links basically come down to: liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.
With that foundational, simple yet profound goal or mantra in mind, make choices in life that help support this measure of success. Use it to discern what matters to you and how you can support yourself to focus on those things. What activities, practices, ideas, beliefs, steps, connections, intakes, and other uses of your time and energy help you live in this success. Yes, LIVE IN IT, not reach for it. The mastery is within your NOW and living with Presence. It will get progressively easier and more automatic with the commitment or it can be a struggle each day until the switch flicks. You may slip back and forth into self-sabotage and self-esteem until its more esteem, less sabotage. This process -- if you can recognize that you are in it -- is part of that success. It is YOU living the journey itself conscientiously that can be liked and loved. What an adventure you are living! Keep going with compassion for yourself.
BE in your success.
Like yourself for living all your ups and downs.
Feel full within yourself.
A lesson that weaved through my year was about living with embodied beliefs...and where I did and didn't truly embody an idea. It sounds good to be mindful but did I really do that? It's a forced exercise if not coming from deep within. Another major lesson was about the container that holds my ideas-- the healthy boundaries. The year before that was a deep immersion into personal emotions (my soul's voice). Altogether, I start this year in a clay pot of somatic living....listening, connecting and acting upon my Soul's wishes. I call this soulsomatic living. She's been ignored, repressed, denied, overruled by an Ego that thought it knew better, could protect better, and had my best interests at heart. No, that Ego voice was caught up in the noise and was simply louder as I smothered the sounds of inner friendship.
I'm beyond grateful for what the past years have helped me see and super excited for what my Soul intends to show me. So let's go!
In grace, grit, compassion and light-- I'm ready for a soulsomatic life. Join me!
A Look Back at 2020 with a bit of numerology.
2020: A year that began as a hope for 20/20 vision and clarity through an open-hearted ("4") stance, powered by relationships (the "4" by way of double "2s" in "2020"). "4" relates to the heart and a balanced, neutral mind. "2" connects to the source of our creativity, our emotions, our protective energy, and relationships. (Side Note: There are people who have studied numerology far longer and in-depth so this is my personal interpretation of the numbers and, truth be told, reading their work over the years informs mine and self-interpretation allows me to embody and hold the meanings with a simplicity and clarity. I hope this lands for you-- as always, take it or leave it. Trust in yourself.)
As I reflect back the year on this day, 12/31/2020, I notice today is an "11" (1+2+3+1+2+0+2+0). A significant, yogic number that makes the Truth discoverable for all with no judgment nor limits. It is a reminder that Trust in and Surrendering to the Divine Will of the Universe will lead to Truth. Yoga is the union of our Individual Consciousness and Universal Consciousness. This Universal Consciousness is within all of us. We are all connected. As one. What affects you, impacts me. What affects me, impacts you. In allowing Truth to unfold, without judgment, we are all touched by what is Universal and Divine. And so I surrender to what unfolds today.....
Alot of yogi gobbledy-gook there. It means alot to me now but it didn't always. More in "everyday human language", I see this anticipated year of vision and clarity through open-heartedness and powered by relationships as somewhat of a twisted joke. But really, it has held to its promise. Just not the way anyone could've imagined.
Let's be honest. The year was filled with Grief: sickness, loss of loved ones, cancelled plans & celebrations, disrupted accomplishments, separations and isolation. Grief comes from change; and sadness shows us what's important. How does that bring Clarity? How DOESN'T it bring Clarity? In its seemingly backward way, the loss, separation and disruptions allowed us to value more deeply our relationships and "our work". It also allowed us to become more creative so that we can GET those things we abruptly "lost".
This year was also filled with charged polarities of light and dark-- of goodness and opposition. The extremes were so extreme that, again, we ask: How DOESN'T it bring Clarity? It does. It gave us exaggerated views that sparked strong emotions in each of us. It carried deep and loud emotions that shouted at us: "Look! Look! What Do You Think?! What Will You Do?!" It tore us apart but also brought us more together. Relationships. Clarity. Vision.
Nature got a reprieve. We spent weeks to months keeping our cars parked and planes grounded. Thanks to the entry into our Summer (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), we walked and connected with nature more and benefitted from the change in pace, along with our green friends. We had another gift......
Last but not least (and maybe there's more), the year gave us Space. Space to process, to grieve, to get clear on how we feel....even if we haven't fully formulated all of it yet. We now know what is important to us, we know we can be creative in working within self-imposed and outside-imposed boundaries, and our vision has been shaped or has begun to be more clear. Powerful. Space of time is also a message to get quiet with ourselves. In the Silence, we feel our answers. What may have been 'discomfort' becomes Gratitude. It's good to stop the noise every once in awhile-- more often and longer if possible.... daily. We can breathe. (The irony of this statement amidst the BLM movement is profound).
My teenager had this to say: "This year kinda sucked but it was also kind of necessary because everyone needs to realize they/we have major issues". Harsh and hilarious. Not untrue. Approach with self-compassion.
A Tiny Look Ahead
I think the new lens of 2020 is one we can all wear into 2021. Like a superpower.
My superpowers? Mental telepathy and cosmic empathy is strong in me-- between me and my Soul. Sounds hokey but how's your communication with your True Self? Are you rid of and/or at peace with your inner conflicts and fears? Truth is my armor, cape and sword. It's like the Force. Even the dark side has Light....once it accepts Truth.
More on 2021 in 2021. Happy New Year, Everyone!
Today is December 31, 2020. What a famously wild and unpredictable year it has been! Filled with extreme "bad" and extreme "good". The polarities of dark and light somehow converging to create a crisper picture....Vision.
A Reflection on Boundaries
Just like any day, this day is no different. Except..... It is a largely-recognized "day to note", as are major holidays, the solstices, the equinoxes, and other specially-noted days. For me, these are days for reflection. What is the symbolic significance of this day? What does it mean to me? In a way, it sets a symbolic boundary for us. A bookend to a year of unbelievably heart-wrenching and touching stories alike.
In general, I've often struggled with overwhelm and a sense of "free floating" (not in a good way). As a creative --which, by the way, we all are-- I've come to understand that setting our own restrictions around a project, a practice, a goal, etc. is important to the process. These are not limitations of the Self but healthy boundaries that keep us rooted and stable, and from which our ideas and creations can emerge and flourish with an amazing sense of freedom.
I've also come to understand that the tools we've picked up through lessons of life-- intentionally and by chance --are part of our personal boundaries. As babies and toddlers do, we use our senses and our will to feel and test the boundaries. What are the limits? Where am I comfortable? Where do I (ad)venture to push across those lines? What do I do if what I thought was right for me, in and out of my boundary (or comfort zone), actually isn't? And when you feel yourself looking at other people's boundaries-- and/or perhaps feeling judgment on yours --breathe and honor the feeling. Then find a way to let it go. Feel your inner fire burn it up and, like a phoenix, turn the ashes into a radiant bird of self-love. Bottom line: your boundaries are personal.
I feel myself currently riding that edge as I process the revelations that have come to light this year about this transformational yoga I practice and teach. And the concepts connected to it. Like a lifeline for me and many others I know, it has given me the tools to turn judgment into birds of Empowerment, to know Truth where I used to only see lies disguised as reality, causing pain and self-deprivation. Ideas and practices that have been masterfully synthesized by a predator but, in pieces, are not his original work. I know the effectiveness and I focus on what I know has worked. Still, a process to sort through some levels of blind acceptance to get to what is real and right for me. In truth, we blindly accept in many aspects of life where we have given over our power to another-- not in a negative sense but as an awareness. For instance, to our doctors, the farmers, our government..... We can always take this power back.
Akara Numerology is one of those gray areas for me in terms of how it came to be. (Perhaps you, Reader, are familiar and can shed light for me?). In any case, it has always resonated and landed for me, better than astrology. Plus, I love numbers. It is, in fact, an effective boundary for me-- it can expand or look different beyond me but here, now, for me, it is what it is and it's enlightening. I accept its structure and meaning and use it to help me reflect on life. It can create powerful connections to make difficult situations, thoughts, and ideas palatable and, even more, divinely rich in depth and breadth. Such a wonderful tool to reflect on an insane year and contemplate what comes next.......
Aligned with the numbers of 2020, my relationships, connections, clarity on what's important to me and, of course, big open-heartedness highlighted for me "boundaries". Healthy boundaries feel like a swaddle of warmth and motherly love. Truth. A lesson from 2020.
Do you know what I love about winters?
Getting to see the sunrise later in the morning.
Observing the sunrises and sunsets are a random occurrence for me where, when caught at that moment, always put me at awe. When I lived in a high-rise building facing west many years ago, I used to watch the sunsets often. It's only now that I am beginning to seek out the rhythms and rhymes of this amazing universe. Today, a remarkable sunrise.
Did you know that the sunrise happens later and later in the Northern Hemisphere until early January? If I had to guess, I would assume that Winter Solstice was the turning point for the sun to rise earlier. Apparently it is not. The mismatch is due to the Earth's rotational axis being 23.5 degrees off from vertical to the plane of our orbit around the sun, and the Earth's eccentric orbit causing it to travel fastest in January and slowest in July. According to my source for this information, EarthSky, the exact date for the latest sunrise or sunset varies by latitude. The sequence, however, always remains the same-- holding true for both Northern and Southern hemispheres:
Earliest SunSET > Winter Solstice > Latest SunRISE
Earliest SunRISE > Summer Solstice > Latest SunSET
This morning as I watched the dark pink/purplish light on the horizon, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for its beauty and wonder. I checked the time and it was maybe quarter past 7am. Never a joyful earlybird (like the Amrit Vela time between 3am-6am-- ugh!), I appreciate the sun's later rise. At least another week perhaps until it does start to wake earlier. This may be a good week for sun salutations.
Years of shifting to a more meaningful and deeply-connected life, my city-girl Self longs to become more connected with nature's rhythms and lessons. One aspect of this connection is in building meaningful, spiritual rituals to celebrate the shifts in Earth's seasons, such as the Winter Solstice. Especially as a parent creating guideposts for my children, I know such connections to be a healing and magical celebration for the soul. (For this reason, I am eternally grateful to have deeply-meaningful rituals built into their school life for celebrations such as Winter Solstice).
What a wonderful year to truly hone this connection to Winter Solstice-- though perhaps coincidental to fall on the same day.....such is the year of 2020! --with a possibility of seeing the Star of Bethlehem for the first time in 400 years! My mind's eye evokes images of wise men journeying to Jerusalem following that miraculous star and finding the baby Jesus. This is a celestial event caused by the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn-- the two largest planets --appearing to shine as one brilliant star (or Christmas star), that we may be able to witness shortly after sunset, low in the southwestern sky. A bit of kismet to bring 2020 to a close and to kick-off a wondrous depth of spirit that is the Winter Solstice.
Here is my short list of ways I am honoring the Winter Solstice:
Plus, leading up to this day, the yoga studio where I teach spent 11 days guiding our clients to connect with their inner sun-energy, their warmth and extrovertedness, and their inner digestive fire. Movement along with an embodied concept of our own inner fire (through meditation) sparks the warmth and wisdom innately within each of us. "Everybody is a candle, but not everybody is lit". --Karena Virginia & Dharm Khalsa in Essential Kundalini Yoga.
Happy Winter Solstice, Friends!
I would love to hear your Winter Solstice stories and traditions. And let me know if you see the star tonight!
Much love, peace and gratitude for our amazing, natural world!
What does responsibility mean to you?
What does it mean to be responsible?
Does it differ in different areas of your life?
I keep pondering the belief --which I hold to be true-- that Freedom and Responsibility are two sides of the same coin. We all want "freedom" - to live it in our nation, to feel it in our own bodies, our own lives. The idea of freedom I will come back to. Today (and onward), I want to embody and embrace Responsibility.....whatever that means.......
Let's break it down: My ability to respond is my responsibility.
Respond to what? My life and the things that are important to me. Things that are True, that hold Integrity, and that does not harm Others. This sounds as it should be true enough for everyone:
Your responsibility is to be able to respond to your life and
the things--which are True, hold Integrity, and does not harm Others--
that are important to you.
Does that resonate for you?
What kinds of things are important to you and fit those guideposts of True, Integrity and Does No Harm? Here are 3 points of focus which can be looked at in the detail of your own life:
To live in balance with keen knowledge of MY needs, within MY means, at any given moment and to be able to respond. Technically, this IS self-care.
Self-care, living in my truth, being an example of light and meaningful expression of Truth for my family and community and on......these are the things that are important to me that are True, hold Integrity, and does not harm Others. And my ability to respond to these things, within the protective boundaries of balancing my needs, within my means, at any given moment, is the Truth I need to embrace and embody somatically in every cell of my being.
Yet still, this is all well & good but could get overwhelming where you feel you have not learned how to manage, digest, and metabolize these things. The "ability" part of it. How do you respond seemingly without the ability?
Recognizing the perceived dis-ability is the first step. Think of those who are considered to have a "disability" as is commonly known in society today. Or a "handicap". Some people need help like handrails, wheelchairs or ramps or special technological advancements to assist in speaking or seeing or some other need. Some secure tutors or nurses or other sorts of caretakers. Whatever the situation, ALL are required to look for ways to see beyond their dis-ability and acknowledge where they just need to work a little harder, where they need help and where they can creatively do things differently to balance ability with dis-ability. What are your perceived dis-abilities and how will you see beyond it?
Write it down. Assess it. Do the work. This is your RESPONSE-ABILITY.
Each of us are responsible for our own response-ability. Together, as response-able individuals, is how we create our own Freedom and how we can promote freedom in our greater world. Digging deep within is where our Truth lies. And our Truth is worth finding-- it is where our salvation thrives, and freedom and responsibility exist on the same coin.
I AM MY OWN BEST ALLY, ADVOCATE, AND ACTIVIST. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
As an ally, I support me.
As an advocate, I talk me up.
As an activist, I am actively nourishing, profoundly understanding, and pounding the pavement for me.
Lest I forget, at times the vehicle does seem to sputter or breakdown, I need only remember the hotline for my AAA servicing....
I AM MY OWN BEST ALLY, ADVOCATE, AND ACTIVIST.
I AM MY OWN BEST ALLY, ADVOCATE, AND ACTIVIST.
I AM MY OWN BEST ALLY, ADVOCATE, AND ACTIVIST.
Believe in yourself. You are enough.
Awhile back I reflected on the fact that I wasn't a very generous person. Somehow, merely acknowledging this "out loud" has helped me to take the next step seemingly without effort.... to become a more generous person.
One of the items on the list from the link I shared in that post was to spend time with a generous person. And to embrace gratitude. I read the list and, to be honest, did not set out to do these things. Like I said, it was as if just putting the acknowledgment out there set my mind-- or rather, heart --in motion. I have found that, through my yoga community, I did in fact surround myself with generous people. People who volunteer to make yogi tea, those who fill the studio and even the space by our front door with plants and also care for them, those who take the garbage out and clean it, some bring delicious & healthy food to share, and much more.
I have watched and marveled at the ongoing generosity-- and have truly felt enormous gratitude for the time and efforts of each. I have discovered that that feeling of gratitude for those who give of themselves generously has shifted my own attitude towards how I value and spend my time and efforts. This is what makes a community and a life. The return on investment has no measure.
I am the Essential Soul Mama. I am a mama, a soulful-spiritual teacher, an intentional storyteller, and a lover of stories of all kinds, in all forms. I write about emotions, parenting, natural health options, mind-body-soul connections, and anything that elevates our lives.