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Do Better

I’ve seen a couple of posts on social media this week alluding to the fact that we as a human race are better than the hate, divisiveness and intolerance that seems to be plaguing our culture not only here in the United States, but around the world. I have struggled with the concept of ‘evil’ the past few months – more specifically under the context of my new faith in Jesus – and wondered how humans can be capable of such maleficence, animosity, greed, and indefensible abuses of power. So, when I read a post on Instagram with a photo of a bag of trash collected from Venice Beach with the tag “We need to do better.” I thought to myself: Do we? Or when I viewed a story about a newborn baby abandoned in a plane bathroom after an alleged in flight birth with a caption decrying “Humanity we are better than this!” I couldn’t help but think: Are we?

The conclusion I’ve come to is no. No, we are not. I know this seems quite disheartening at best, nihilistic at worst. It took me a while to acknowledge the fact that evil does indeed exist and to wrap my head around how people could behave in alarmingly cruel and deceptive ways. Our current state of affairs, particularly here in California, deeply saddened me. I grieved and craved an exit from a state that seemed to be slowly tightening the noose around people’s necks. It was easy for me to conclude that our authorities in government simply don’t have God in their life. If they did, surely, they wouldn’t feel the need to exert unnecessary power over other humans. However, my own justification wasn’t enough and failed when I questioned: What if they do? What if these people claim to believe in God? One thing I’ve come to learn is when I ask, God always answers. In the past three months I’ve listened to sermons, read books for school, and listened to podcasts that have reaffirmed my belief in Christianity. My deep sadness has been transformed into joyful exuberance because of my faith in Christ.

Good vs. evil is arguably the the oldest story ever told, has been witnessed many times throughout history, and is a tale that will continue until God restores His Kingdom. Through a radical acceptance of what is, we can move forward with ease and without fear knowing ultimately, the fate of our civilization is under His control. This is not to say we become passive and throw our hands up in futility or remain inactive in creating change. Although, from what I understand there is a doomsday form of Christianity that takes the “Fuck it, it’s all going to hell in a handbasket and I’m saved because I’m a Christian so it doesn’t really matter anyway” route. It is not the one to which I subscribe nor prescribe. Nor is it the faith that says the world ‘out there’ is evil so I will lock myself away, pray for all the heathens, make myself a better person and only convene with others committed to doing the same. I tried that route with a different type of vague spirituality, and believe me, it doesn’t work. It creates an isolated selfishness that can ultimately lead to depression. (If I had a dollar for every spiritual seeker still struggling with mental health issues …)

Faith in something that we will never see or comprehend is the source of true power – a power discovered when we give up control as opposed to attempt to gain it over other humans and ourselves. It has been my acceptance of the fact that the job of saving the world is not mine that I can even try to go out there and do it. I learned something very valuable in my first weeks’ pursuit of my master’s in public policy: policy is not the remedy to society’s ills. It was such a relief to reconcile that I am not in this program to force my beliefs or my will because I think I have the solution to the health crisis in this country. I am only here because I am, beyond a shadow of a doubt, certain this was God’s will for my life. He has given me every opportunity to act according to HIS will, not mine, and I start each day asking that His will be done through me. I don’t always succeed, but it is always my intent.

Thus, I have no good answer for why some people behave the way they do. As much as my feeble human mind shouts for solutions and understanding, in knowing that I don’t know and will never know, I have peace in my life. Although, I am not ignorant of the fact that some of the greatest atrocities in the world have been carried out and are likely still perpetuated in the name of Christianity, which always leads me to wonder, what version of the Bible are they reading?

While admittedly I am new to Jesus and the word of the Bible, I am beginning to understand why Christianity, despite the many power grabs for its control, and the word and spirit of Jesus, despite many attempts to pervert it, is the ultimate path to this peace and transformation. While I am convinced simply because I feel the difference in my own life, I realize that is not the most compelling argument. So, I will do my best to illustrate via the social media examples I cited above.

Many people pick up trash off the beach, because well, it’s just the right thing to do. They place plastic utensils, Doritos bags and cans of Bud Light they find walking miles of sand into a plastic, mind you, garbage bag because they are a “good person.” A Christian picks up the trash because they know they are not. No amount of good deeds or virtue signaling will win favor in the Lord’s eyes. Christians don’t do acts of kindness or generosity because it makes us a better human, or because we feel better when we do it. We do them as acts of service for the Creator of all life out of gratitude for all we’ve been given. The grace. The love. The acceptance. The abundance. The beauty. It’s not a guilt trip. Shame isn’t a motivating factor. Gratitude is. Reverence is. Worship is. Service to the Lord of life is.

The outcome – a cleaner beach – may be the same, but the motivations are different. This is the reason we don’t have the utopia everyone – particularly the radical Left – dreams so fervently about. If we are counting on man’s “goodness” to create paradise or even a better world as we think it should be, it will never happen. Man cannot do it. We fell from paradise a long time ago and no amount of science, virtue signaling, vaccinations, or posts about self-improvement will create perfect equality or a perfect world. Humans will never be able to do what God can do. This is not to say we should give up on striving to “be better” as many of the social media posts these days claim (I received a message from someone on Instagram after sharing Joe Rogan’s interview with Dr. Robert Malone admonishing me to “be better, Jennifer!”) but we should be aware of our motivations. If they are rooted in our belief that human nature is inherently good and we are diving into our essence to dig up good deeds, well, as Jordan Peterson often says – good luck with that. Sure, it’s a relatively inconsequential decision when it comes to whether to clean up the trash on the beach or pass by with indifference, because how much of an impact will one beer can thrown in the trash make? But what about when it comes to the tougher decisions in life say, whether or not to take another life in defense of your own or someone you love? Or save a mother’s life as opposed to her unborn baby’s? No amount of digging into our human bag of moral tricks will give you the right answer for that.

I’d also like to point out the danger of delving into indulgence and glorification of our weaknesses. I recently came across a video on TikTok proudly announcing everyone’s prescription and dosage for a variety of anti-depressant cocktails. Another well followed influencer promoted merchandise proclaiming “Hail, Satan!” “Live, Laugh, Love Evade Suicide,” “Cunt,” “Bag Of Dicks,” and “I Hate Myself.” This cries of an existence in pain and for the life of me, I don’t see how the solution to that pain comes from normalizing such attitudes or behavior while simultaneously admonishing others for their so-called ‘bad choices.’

However, if a virtuous life is one spent striving towards values and higher principles as ordained by a higher power (as many of the great philosophers pre-Age of Enlightenment such as Aristotle claim) and not those created by man, ad hoc, then we have a shot at living a happy, and more important, fulfilling life. We may not always make the right decision, but if we choose the action we believe is best aligned with God’s word, then at least we can say we gave it a good shot and learn from the pain that will inevitably come from our misaligned decisions or habits inconsistent with His will for us. Therefore, a good life is not one that ultimately avoids all struggle, pain, or, yes, death to maintain safety and acceptance. A good life is one spent in accepting our own fallen nature and stretching our arms out as hard and as far as we can to receive the abundance of God’s grace and blessings, no matter the cost.

Why do you think, despite man – and government’s – best efforts, we are so far from the society we achingly long for? The one that treats all humans with dignity, respect, love, patience, and kindness? Because we as humans will never get there on our own. The quicker we realize that, the quicker we will indeed see Heaven here on Earth.

If we are honest, doing what is right or just doesn’t always feel good nor does it always carry the appearance to the outside world to be the right thing to do. Today’s culture rooted in liberalism often promotes doing what feels good to us as individuals and what is ‘right’ through the eyes of humans. How are we doing with that? Does that seem to be working? Denzel Washington has said “I’d rather stand with God and be condemned by the world than to stand with the world and be condemned by God.” I admit I saw this as a meme so cannot confirm Mr. Washington as the source, regardless, I stand by the sentiment. Our folly is in believing that “human capacity [can] ‘master’ or ‘control’ nature.”[1] I can point to numerous examples of current events that demonstrate this false premise, but you don’t have to ruminate that hard to see them for yourselves.

In short, if we rely on man’s supposed morality and wisdom to change the world we are doomed to failure. The quicker we realize that the man tossing his Natty Light can in the sand or the woman tossing her baby in the toilet or (Gasp!) the person choosing to remain unvaccinated or not wear a mask represents a part of us, the closer we’ll be to realizing the kind, loving and unified world we so desperately crave. Stop seeking goodness in self-help books, “science” and the State. We will never see true equality, peace, and goodness until we appreciate the inevitably of inequality, destruction and evil both in the world and in ourselves. God is giving us every signal, every sign, every opportunity to turn to Him to accept our inevitable fallen nature and to allow Him to change our hearts and behaviors according to His wisdom. The question is, whose lead are we following: ours or His?  


[1] Deneen, P. J., Hunter, J. D., & Owen, J. M. (2019). Why liberalism failed. Yale University Press.

The Great Divide

These days, at least a few times a week, I find myself mumbling the words “What the actual fuck?” With the fabric of society seeming to unravel at an alarming pace, I’m surprised that I am shocked anymore. But I am. 

Earlier this week I participated in a focus group in which we were asked to give our response to a commercial concept from a large company. The commercial began innocent enough with a second grade teacher asking students what they wanted to be when they grew up. Classic. 

The first student, a boy, said “I want to be a teacher, just like you!” to which the teacher responded, “That’s wonderful! I love my job! It’s very rewarding.” Then a little girl said “I want to be an astronaut!” “Amazing!” the teacher replied. “You can do anything you set your mind to.” Next, a young black boy answers that he wants to be an engineer. The teacher responds, “You know, black men are more likely to have criminal records that follow them wherever they go, so that’s unlikely.” I’m paraphrasing, as I don’t recall the exact vocation or the verbatim response, but you get the gist. Another, presumably white child offers another answer to which the teacher responds with more words of encouragement. Lastly, a little Latina girl says she wants to be a professor. The teacher states Latina women are less likely to graduate from a graduate program, therefore, she shouldn’t set her sights too high. 

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? 

The commercial then offers the statistics to support their narrative and of course, Company X is the solution with their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. “Go to http://www.company.com to learn more about what we’re doing to create a more just and equal workforce.” 

How about not telling second graders that they’re less likely to find jobs because of the color of their skin or suggesting a ceiling is placed on their level of achievement based on a bunch of numbers? I realize they were telling a story to make a point, but why don’t we try promoting a different story? How about we stop promoting a story of what is and start to encourage people to tell a story of what could be? 

I’m not asking anyone to ignore reality or statistics. But numbers without investigation can be void of any in depth analysis or reasoning. Has anyone stopped to ask what other factors may contribute to these outcomes other than racism? 

To me, this commercial sketch simply shines a light on what really needs fixing – our education system. Of course, this is a much bigger issue to tackle and requires real work on the part of our government, school boards and teachers, not to mention parents’ involvement in their children’s education. Wouldn’t it be better to level the playing field early on to erase any excuse of racial injustice as best we can? Wouldn’t it be nice if kids weren’t taught, as is so often the case these days, that the color of their skin makes them either the oppressed or the oppressor? Why are we teaching racism to children where it often doesn’t exist? These are the golden years of life when race truly means nothing to them. As long as you play nicely and share, kids are likely to get along. 

Reforming education is an uphill battle, but it just might alleviate what we have now – people pointing the finger at everyone and everything for whatever unfortunate situation they find themselves in. Much easier to call it racism, slap a band aid on the problem, and continue on with people misunderstanding each other. 

I’m so tired of this negative programming. I’m so tired of politicians and companies pitting us against one another. I’m tired of hearing about the problems with no real solutions. Aren’t you? 

What was most interesting to me was my comrade in the breakout group. She was as upset by the commercial as I was. Here she was – a successful, kind, intelligent (this girl took diligent notes and put my academic skills to shame), proud Latina – the younger version of herself being portrayed as a victim of the system. I found it highly insulting. So did she. 

In the short time we worked together, I instantly took a liking to her. I respected her for no other reason than we were supposed to be a team and she was generous and kind with me. Because I felt a certain fondness for her, I’d sit down with her and listen with an open heart and mind despite the fact we likely would have disagreed on certain issues. 

Furthermore, she pointed out, Company X didn’t offer any real solutions. She wasn’t even sure what Company X did and had to Google them. 

I agreed. Company X appeases the social justice warriors and hires P.O.C and minorities. Fabulous. Now what? What are they doing once they meet their quotas? Are they fostering a culture of compassion? Are they offering courses to their employees to improve communication skills? I’m not talking about a specific course in race. I’m talking about courses in how to human better. How to listen to each other. How to create an environment with a priority on personal development and responsibility. There can be no corporate growth without individual personal growth. Period. 

I can smell virtue signaling bullshit a mile away. And this. Was. It. 

This is no different than MLB’s Rob Manfred moving the All-Star game out of Atlanta to protest the new voter legislation in Georgia which requires identification to vote. Great. You’ve done your virtue signaling at the expense of $100 million lost revenue in a city with the largest percentage of black people and moved the game to a city with stricter voter laws and a black population hovering around 10% – and that’s being generous. All the while you get to drive around in your limo ignoring the real issues that you are doing absolutely nothing to resolve. Well done, commissioner. 

Neither of these are long term solutions to the real problems of racial inequity. True racism springs from a dislike of self. When you like yourself, are proud of yourself and the work you do in the world, there is no reason to hate another person, no matter the color of their skin. You can call it systemic all day long. But systems are made up of individual people so while companies can make some grand gesture in the name of solidarity, how many are really doing things to heal this divide in our country? None that I see. So stop sounding off with some politically correct bullhorn and start creating environments that promote individual growth and encourage people to listen to each other with grace and generosity of spirit. 

Like Charles Barkley mentioned in this video that mainstream media didn’t make much of a peep about: 

“Man, I think most white people and black people are great people. I really believe that in my heart, but I think our system is set up where our politicians, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, are designed to make us not like each other so they can keep their grasp of money and power. They divide and conquer.”

Stop letting them. 

Head Vs. Heart

I had one of those “Ah-HA!” moments in my morning meditation last week. At one point I could physically sense the difference between ‘being in my head’ and ‘being in my heart.’ The transition was palpable. Something that had been a high concept esoteric principle became very real for me. It’s always difficult to accurately portray a subtle body experience. After all, the most sublime sensations and experiences can rarely be encapsulated into words. At least that has been my reality.

It seems there are two very different ways of seeing and experiencing this world, each with their benefits, each with their drawback. We can perceive the world through the lens of the heart or the head. We also have a choice in the matter.

What I’ve come to realize however, is the heart is not limited, where the head is. The heart has unlimited capacity for love – for forgiveness and compassion. Our heads will try to rationalize all of the reasons these things should be withheld. Our heads will say things like:

It’s not fair.

They don’t deserve it.

What about me?

He/She/ can’t get away with that.

It’s not right.

The heart has no need for right and wrong because from the heart’s point of view, there is no difference. Only in the head do we separate the two. And only in the head does separateness exist at all.

I believe some of us are more inclined to operate in a certain mode over another. You either love working on a MacBook or a PC. One feels inherently intuitive, the other, rather clumsy. Some cannot fathom life without rationality, pro and con lists, and a careful scrutiny of all the options. Others find it painful to ignore the loud whispers from the heart.

Like many, I was trained to lead from my head and I’ve become quite adept operating in the world this way. However, I believe I was born to lead from the heart.

It feels so damn good to be out of my head and in my heart. When I get there in meditation or even in the daily activity of life, I don’t want to leave. It doesn’t feel as good to operate in my head anymore – all the figuring out and thinking and analyzing and trying to make sense of it all – but old habits die hard. It’s a consistent practice for me right now to drop down from top to center.

At one point, I needed all the head skills. But my mind keeps me small and limited. Thus the term small – minded. Not that a particular way of thinking is small, but primarily using the mind as a source of guidance can trap us in a box. It’s restrictive. We are so much more than our heads. There is so much more we are capable of beyond the space of the mind.

I would, however, like to say thank you to my head. Thank you for keeping me safe. For helping me grasp concepts and knowledge. For teaching me how to remember so I don’t have to re-learn things every day like how to talk, write, walk, etc. You have your purpose. But you will no longer guide my ship. I trust my heart more than my head. More and more every day. And the more I practice it, the more tangible it becomes. I can feel a difference in my body as opposed to having it be some out there woo-hoo spiritual teaching. I literally feel more expansive, supported and just, well – GOOD. It’s me. There I am. The person I was meant to be.

Free Falling

As seems to be my theme for 2019, last week requested I, yet again, be flexible – demanded I let go of plans, even as I’m making them. I was all set to begin my new job with Square Organics, an amazing company making its mark not only in the health and wellness space but also exemplifying the generosity and heart of a company doing the right thing in the world – the kind of company I’ve been craving to work with for a long time. In today’s day and age, it’s been challenging for me to find the right fit, especially given my aversion to the nine to five gigs.

When the opportunity to sign on as their Field Marketing Director came my way, I jumped on it. I received everything I wanted – freedom to work from wherever I chose. Opportunity to contribute to the creative direction of the company. A nice salary. Health benefits.

Despite all the pros of the job, the one con is that I was not particularly enthusiastic about the actual work I would be doing. Could I manage a team of brand ambassadors in Whole Foods across the country? Yes. Could I pimp the product in stores? Yes. Is this what my soul is crying out to do? No.

This is the year life is demanding I start walking my talk. The year I make the seemingly crazy decisions that will drop me deep into the unknown. The year I say no to the opportunities that I pro/con to death until I justify saying yes, even if that decision doesn’t move me forward along my path or towards fulfilling my purpose in life.

If it’s not a fuck yes, it’s a no.

Trust your gut.

Just because you’re good at something doesn’t means you have to do it.

Say no to the imperfect opportunities so the perfect ones have room to appear. (This one I made up myself. I think. Maybe not.)

I’ve espoused all these catchphrases and paradigms at some point in my life. However, I wonder how much have I lived them? What kind of teacher would I be if couldn’t serve as my own example?

Yet again (and again and again), I am being asked to trust, to surrender, to just let go. To risk safety for growth and expansion. I’m recognizing this is easier said than done.

When the founder of Square Organics and myself came to the mutual conclusion that turning down the role would be best for everyone, we began devising a new role that would better align with my passions and talents. I am not sure if that will come to fruition or not. I feel like I should be more anxious, more worried than I am. Some days the fear of the unknown wins and I find myself spiraling in a vortex of Oh Shit. What did I do? Other days I have full faith that by saying no to a job that would keep me small, I’m saying yes to an opportunity that will demand I be as big as I know myself to be.

In the meantime, I’m writing through the discomfort.

Intimacy

Usually, when something in my life needs to be healed or resolved, it hits me from all angles. Everything around me becomes a reflection of living life under the influence of the particular wound or deficiency. The people in my life, the conversations, the shows or movies or books I’m drawn to – even what pops up in my web browser from the black hole of Google searches. Eventually I see it. Someone is not so gently nudging me. Hey you. Yeah, you. You need to look at this. If I don’t get the picture, then a little bit of pain, a tad of heartache will usually be invoked.

Recently, everything in my field of awareness is leading me to one of my most challenging obstacles – Intimacy.

I’m not sure whether intimacy is an innate or learned skill. Are we born with this ability to connect to another sentient being in the most vulnerable way? Or is intimacy something taught to us (or not) by our parents and our environment? I imagine in utero, we get our first taste of intimacy. We rely on another human for our very life. We have no choice. It’s either stay connected or die. I think the fact that women have the ability to physically tether themselves to another life may explain why we seem to crave intimacy more than men.

I also believe that if this inherent quality isn’t nurtured and reinforced through behaviors and surroundings from the day we are born, then we easily forget how to use it. Life sweeps in and hurts us. People break our hearts. We begin to erect barriers that thwart intimacy.

I can not speak definitively on this topic because it is an area in which I am blaringly flawed, especially when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex. Sex is not the equivalent of intimacy. Just because you’re naked it does not mean you’re vulnerable. I should know. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced sex and intimacy at the same time. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve cried after having sex with a man. Something gets touched, busted open – but I quickly shut it down. While I’m comfortable with men seeing my body, I’m not comfortable with men seeing ME.

The three most intimate words in the English language are not “I love you.” They are “I see you.”

I see you. You with your flaws and your fuck ups and your haven’t-quite-nailed-it yet. You with your wounds and your scars and your dis-ease that may never go away or be healed. You with your insecurities and your ugliness and your beauty and your light. All of it. I see you. AND I love you.

That scares the shit out of me. Intimacy doesn’t have room for judgment or blame. It doesn’t tolerate guilt or shame. It looks these in the eye and says “PFFFFT!” Swats them away like a fly.

I think when I’m able to look at myself without judgment or guilt or shame, then I’ll find someone who will do the same. And I’ll know what true intimacy is.

Until then, I practice. I practice with friends I trust. I practice with my kitty. (This one is easy!) I practice with dance. I practice with strangers now and again.

This is the good stuff. This is where it’s at. It scares me, but only because, like anything else scary, it’s unknown. Once I know it I imagine it will be sublime. And I’ll wonder why I waited so long to be anything but intimate.

 

 

Insignificant

Sometimes the level of insignificance I feel is staggering.
Like it wouldn’t matter if I drove my car
Straight through this red light into the ocean
Instead of south on PCH.
I dream of it often.
Instead, I turn left, like I’m supposed to.
Like I’m always supposed to.
And just drive really fast.
As fast as I can without hurting someone else.
Driving really fucking fast makes me feel better.
I get an inch closer to knowing death.
It’s nights like these
I’m glad a drive a manual.

 

 

Homecoming

I am back in my home earlier than some of my neighbors after being evacuated due to the Woolsey fires this past week. By the grace of whoever watches and protects us all, the officer at the roadblock allowed me to pass into the canyon where I live.

I hit a breaking point. I just had to go home and for some strange reason felt the Gods were on my side. However, I wasn’t sure what obstacles I would encounter on my way home or how I would talk myself into passing through. Maybe I’d lie and say I had to get more medication or some other bullshit. I needed a break from it all. I was drooling at the thought of sleeping through the night in complete silence in the woods.

I don’t like to lie nor am I any good at it but sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures. When I approached the officer blocking the street I needed to enter, I asked if I could get in. He asked where I lived. I paused just a bit too long before I answered. My reply was less than a mile from the truth and I sensed he knew it. He let me pass anyway. I felt terrible for a bit and then utterly relieved. I thanked whatever angels were with me.

As soon as I stepped on my property my shoulders relaxed. My rib cage dropped. And I took a huge exhale. I expressed my gratitude out loud for the officer that let me pass. Gratitude for my home, with all its quirks and little noises and imperfections. For my friend who so graciously took me in with Zeus, my handsome kitty, when many were not as feline friendly.

Now I am somewhat sequestered in my home as I don’t know if I’ll have the same luck getting in and out freely. I’ve spent the day tending to things that haven’t been tended to. Cleaning. Home assignments I had been putting off. Emails that should have been sent days if not weeks ago. I’m nesting. It’s so peaceful here with over half our town gone.

Without little Zeusy around (I left him at my friend’s apartment truly believing the evacuation would be lifted today and I could return to get him), my home is so much cleaner. I am relishing in its lack of paw prints, cat food and litter littering my floor. I needed this. Even for just 24 hours.

But I had some important realizations today as I washed clothes, cleaned floors, emptied closets, and rearranged furniture.

While my house may be a bit dirtier with Zeus traipsing in and out from the great outdoors, my heart is fuller.

No matter how sparkling your floor is or isn’t, however big or small, a home is to be cherished. Honored. Loved. Respected. And nurtured. We all have different ways to do that. It felt good for me to clean, burn sandalwood, organize and rest.

As I unpacked and re-nested I realized, like I do when I move, that I didn’t need much of what I have been harboring in my closet. I started pulling items off their hangers and putting them in a ‘To Donate’ pile. All ready to go to any organization collecting items for victims of the Woolsey fire.

I don’t have a lot. Everything I own fits in a studio apartment and my office and practice studio. I have one closet. One dresser drawers. Yet, as I unpacked I still felt too cluttered. I began emptying. With every shirt or pair of shoes I dumped into the donation pile, I created a little more space for other non- material things to enter my life. Things I’ve been hoping, wishing, and praying for.

We’ve all heard that people are more important than things. But how many of us are truly living by that philosophy? Do we ever stop to think when we buy that fifth pair of shoes (in my case boots) that we are cluttering our life, preventing the things we truly desire from entering? We weigh ourselves down with so much – food, shoes, lip glosses, purses, t-shirts.

When is enough enough? I wondered if our culture’s obsession with consumption – having more in every area of our life – may be contributing to the devastation of our planet. That our singular home – Earth – is suffering as a result of our insistence on overstuffing our individual homes.

The “S” Word

 

“Nobody speaks to God these days. Nobody speaks to God these days. I’d like to think he’s looking down and laughing at our ways. Nobody speaks to God these days.”

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

 

“ . . . not to get all spiritual on you or anything . . .” I find myself using this disclaimer in many of my day to day conversations. And lately I’m asking myself why? Why am I afraid to elevate a conversation from commonplace to thought provoking? Am I afraid people won’t understand what I am saying? Or am I afraid I’ll lose friends as they’ll start to find me ‘too much’? Or am I simply afraid people will find me strange and run the other direction every time they see me coming? I’ll be that girl.

Maybe I’m afraid I’ll offend someone. Although, I don’t see how tinting discussions with a dose of spirituality can be more offensive than guns.

Frankly, I think this world could use a little more spirituality. A little more reverence for the beauty that surrounds us everywhere, every day. A dash of humility in the face of the grand force that created the Universe, the reason why we are here. A good old slice of humble pie as we say. The acknowledgement that our small ego mind is no match for the great mind of the creator. Call that force of creation whatever the heck you want. God, Allah, Buddha, Source, Shiva, Shakti. Use whatever pronoun you want – He, She, It. But make no mistake, you and I are really not in control. No matter how much we’d like to think we are. So, just a little bit, give it up. Let it go. Stop thinking you know what’s best for everyone, including yourself.

Maybe, if we invited a little more spirit into our daily conversations we could listen to each other no matter our race, religion, sexual preference or gender, with a little more tolerance, knowing at the end of the day we are all intimately connected and inexorably linked to one divine source. That despite our differences, deep down, we truly are the same. Maybe, if we invited spirit into all of our conversations, whether silently or outright, we could all find a little more kindness.

Truly, I see no other way. I can’t imagine we’re going to get out of the mess we’re in – politically, socially, environmentally – if we don’t bring a little more spirit into our daily lives. The only true and lasting solution I see to the hatred, the catastrophes and the fear of this world is spirituality and its close-knit cousin, an equally dirty word – the “F” word – FAITH.

Please don’t confuse spirit with religion. I don’t preach and I don’t ask anyone to convert to my way of prayer or that they pray at all. Speaking from a place of spirit is simply a recognition that with whomever I am speaking, as a child of God (again, replace that word with whatever you wish), is special, as I am special. And at the same time, because we are all God’s children, none of us is. Having more money than someone else doesn’t make you special, nor does your job or your position or stature in society, and certainly not your Instagram account.

Nor am I saying every conversation should be candy coated with the speech of rainbows, unicorns, crystals and chakras. Carrying a consciousness of spirituality as we move through daily life simply means that as we interact and converse with others, as well as ourselves, we are aware of a presence of love in our own hearts and others, no matter how different we may think and live.

I don’t care how you practice your faith. All I can ask, that I can pray for, is that we all find a deep source of love and wisdom to connect to. A knowing that beneath our skin, bones, muscles and tendons, there is a part of us that lives untainted by sorrow, hurt, and fear. That despite the errors and abuses our egos perpetrate, we are loved. When you come know that part of you and take time to connect to it every day, there is no need to defend yourself – with words or with guns.

I suppose that is why more and more, I will not shy away from inviting spirit into my everyday life. My spiritual practice is the very thing that helps me open up and listen more, despite the easy rush to judge and criticize. And it is the only thing in this mad, crazy world that helps me continue to find joy, peace and a reason for being here.

 

Finding My Feminine

I was gladly traveling in London and Paris while the debacle of the Kavanaugh hearings were unfolding. I did not hear or see much of anything until one day I opened Facebook to a slew of posts referencing Kavanaugh’s impulsive and juvenile responses to the accusations from Dr. Ford. And in contrast, her cool, collected posture in the face of what was likely a pressure cooker. Watching just a half hour of the shit show was enough to bring me back to the reality of what’s happening in our society – at home and abroad.

Over the past year or so, I have chosen to, for the most part, stay silent concerning the #MeToo movement. With exception, when the movement began, I posted one blog about my own sexual assault while in college – a memory I had blocked until May of 2017. I have been marinating in the up and down emotions of that trauma ever since, attempting to shield myself from the outside influences from the hashtag movement. I wanted to go through my own healing process and come to my own understandings of how my story shaped my life and how I could learn and grow from the incident.

At first, I thought resurrecting and coming to terms with the events of the night of my assault was my solution – my key to freedom from a heaviness that weighed on my heart for over twenty years. And while I did feel a not insignificant load lift, the truth of what happened so many years ago simply nudged the door open, allowing a sliver of light in. It turned out to be just the beginning of what has been a consistent and growing understanding of the contrasting Masculine and the Feminine energies – in myself and the world.

Let me come clean – I am not a feminist. I have struggled with the #MeToo movement since it began. Something just hasn’t sat well with me. It seems to put women in the role of victim, taking men to task and retaliating at them for all the wrong they have done. Frankly, it feels like a lynching of the Masculine. The I am woman hear me roar voice stronger than ever, castrating anyone with a penis. “Time’s up” seems to be a masculine response to a masculine issue. In my opinion, women have far more to gain from an I am woman, watch me love and forgive battle cry.

I am by no means suggesting that women stay silent. We need to keep exposing all the dirty, ugly reality of the massive disrespect for the Feminine. But maybe we can focus less on the stories of what happened to us as women and more on what those stories are teaching us and how to heal and move forward.

I don’t believe we can simply stand on our Goddess podiums and point fingers. We need to turn some of this scrutiny on ourselves. When I realized how much I myself contributed to a society that values, above all, the shadow masculine qualities of power, achievement, prestige and social status, I cried for days.

I am the queen of take control of the situation and kick ass. Get it done because you can’t rely on anyone else to do it for you. But for the past 18 months or so, more and more, I’ve been forced to surrender. To find my strength not in fighting but in faith. To turn it over to something bigger than me. To find fluidity and dance with grace. To embrace my mercurial moods and shifts. To sit with myself – my Feminine self – over and over again and watch my own resistance to it. In a world that doesn’t seem to honor this way of operating, I continue to learn to embrace everything fluid and divinely Feminine about me. For She is a part of my essence, more than I could have ever imagined.

Yet everything I learned growing up became a shield to protect the sensitive, feminine, highly intuitive woman that’s always been inside me. I learned to play in the sandbox with the men – I was the ‘guy’s girl’. I drank beer. I watched football. I thought it was the only way to succeed. I wanted men’s attention, their praise. Simultaneously, I shunned women that were too ‘girly’. I dismissed many women as petty and jealous. I always ‘just got along better with the guys.’ This worked for a long time. Except in romantic relationships. Because I was a wounded female, I attracted wounded males, with a couple of exceptions. I tried to play the games these men would play but wasn’t very good at it. Mostly I got my heart broke.

As I began to dismantle the masks of masculinity that I wore, I uncovered more of who I truly was. Returning to my most authentic Feminine form has been and continues to be a lot of work. A lot of reprogramming. But I’m finding the more I honor and respect my Feminine the more I meet men willing to do the same. I’m learning not to hate men and expect the worse from them. I’ve begun to cut them some slack and allow them the space to heal, as I have needed to do the same for myself. At the same time I’m raising the bar a little higher than what previously has been acceptable in all of my relationships.

We need men and their ‘dude’ ways. The strength, stability, confidence and purpose a self realized man brings to the table is attractive. It’s valuable and it’s necessary. We need more of these ‘real men’ in the world and we need to help them get there by encouraging them to heal themselves and embracing them as they go through their own grieving process. The more we shame and degrade them, the more they will feel the need to ‘man up’ and defend themselves with the shadow side of the Masculine. The side that puts the accumulation of power, prestige and wealth on a pedestal.

Yes, men need to take responsibility for assaults and abuse they’ve perpetrated. Especially those that have taken advantage of their rank and position. However, women, so do we. How have we diminished the most beautiful and sacred Feminine qualities of ourselves to fit into this society? How have we stepped aside, stepped down and allowed it? How have we given away our power? And most importantly, where have we failed at honoring ourselves?

We don’t need to change the rules, ladies. We need to change the game. We can start with changing ourselves.

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