The joy in the struggle : tackling simplicity to be the WHOLE as you are NOW

YOU ARE YOU regardless of what you DO!

Why do we actually seek out challenge? As a society, we are all hypocrites! We complain all day about ‘challenge’ and yet we all secretly scheme in our minds how to construct the largest obstacles that are the basis of challenge. It is quite ironic how there can breed such a joyous outcome after facing the dark and niddy griddy. The practice of overcoming simplicity invites in complex creativity to expanding our existence. By testing the edge of our capability, we recognize the beauty of the free fall — the reality that we are more than we originally conceived.

It’s the all-known yin and yang. If we get stuck in the easy or habitual routine of the day-to-day, we look back feeling a void in our hearts. And if we push ourselves too hard, we look back and wonder why we didn’t stop more often to look around and cherish the moment; free of stress or worry. The yin and the yang is the joy and the struggle that collides into fulfillment.

In our culture so often we are push to do more and be better. Of course, if we don’t then we are not as good as… However, recently, I personally have been breaking down old beliefs that intensity measures success. Just today, my dear friend sent me a video of a man named Bashar who speaks of intuition and intellect. Bashar makes such a valid point:

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO FALL APART TO PUT YOURSELF BACK TOGETHER. DESTRUCTURIZATION DOES NOT HAVE TO BE DESTRUCTION. DISASSEMBLE THE OLD IDEA AND REASSEMBLE THE NEW ONE!

Bashar goes on to talk about how you (we all) have to break old assumptions to become the whole as you (we) are. Not the ideal ‘whole’ that we construct in our mind; the inherent wholeness you have and have had all along. You have to redefine the whole as you are, not as you should be. You can transform yourself easily and lovingly, but you have to choose that…This conscious choice of melting into the person we wish to be NOW is contrary to what we most likely are taught growing up. We build these beliefs that we are only a sliver of the whole and that we are only sufficient once we achieve….

I’m coming to realize, however, that once we get over and accept the fact that our existence can be BOTH simple AND wonderful, our success skyrockets because we can focus on those qualities of ourselves that are most valuable and thrive off those. My old boss and mentor taught me that I (we all) have to be great to be great. Not be great because someone else is great like that too. Comparative success can generate stress, negativity and fear. Not to say a little competition isn’t healthy. But turning the individual focus inward and highlighting our unique assets allows us to radiate rather than dissolve.

So get over it! Realize it really is only as hard as you make it! And if you need challenge, then make it hard but if you are needing comfort and ease, let go…surrender to the reality that you are whole. There is joy in struggle because we push pass our old limits. Then the question becomes, what is the struggle? For me, my struggle is being more calm, less controlling, and easier on myself. The most difficult part comes in truly REdefining our ideals to embrace our TRUE self. We are all not professional athletes, actors, scientists, musicians, chefs, etc. Criticizing will get us no closer. Who are we and what is our OWN struggle?

I want to create a complex and intense struggle of go-go-go, so I don’t have time to connect with ALL parts of me. It’s easy to push through, help others and achieve goals. It’s much harder to sit still, get to know ourselves beneath the confines of our mind and honor the fact we can’t do it all! It’s so easy to get trapped into this culture of addiction and over-working/eating/drinking/exercising/divorce (the list goes on) because we see false images of ‘making it all happen.’ But if we live by that, why are we wanting to be great? For _____? or maybe _____?

What about to just be great! Simplicity in its true form! GREATEST at its simplest. YOU ARE YOU regardless of what you DO! So here are my five tips to being the whole YOU:

1) Identify the struggle.

2) Disassemble the old beliefs that inhibit overcoming the struggle.

3) Reassemble the new beliefs that will support your transformation.

4) Be vulnerable enough to try (more than once!).

5) Be great to be great! Nothing else.

Let me know what happens?! I, too, am searching for the joy in the struggle rather than the pain. Remember, you don’t have to fall apart or lose any part of you because you’re already whole. Now it’s just time to belief it!

Sat Nam!

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Forced to face it all — harsh reality at its best

NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU HAVE COME…YOU STILL HAVE FARTHER TO GO! That is my lesson of the day! It’s amazing the effects of stress. And it’s like water…once we’re thirsty, our body is way past dehydrated. Yesterday at the acupuncturist, when I started explaining my “issues”, I realized, “holy shit, no wonder I have no energy…I’m STRESSED!” Yes, complete CAPS are required here. My body is talking to me and I’m not listening very well.

As much as I try to eat and live healthily, I am battling my health despite it all. And what does that invoke? Frustration, sadness, betrayal, judgment, curiosity, eye-rolls, head-shakes, screams in the car, etc. This is one of those times that I realize I don’t have control and at the same time, I feel deeply disconnected to insuring my existence. When does matter completely abolish mind? Not to say that I haven’t come so far from my past nightmares, but I still have so far to go…and that is full-out disappointing, and yet humbling!

Cold feet,

chapped lips,

racing mind,

spinning in circles of unknown curiousity,

forced to face it all,

harsh reality at its best.

Magical tragedy,

paradise unimagined,

dreams hydroplaning farther from the surface of reality,

colliding with metallic shards of hell,

forced to face it all,

harsh reality at its best.

The music stops,

the ego is slaughtered,

vocal cords snipped,

left bleeding an artistic expression of sorrow.

Truth at its strongest is a fierce animal,

ready to attack and abuse your expression of individuality,

strip you of independence,

leaving you naked with wounds,

swollen with fear of abandonment,

dried up with sugary regret and salty remnants of hope,

treading muddy water,

searching for the shallow end to find ground and stand tall,

forced to face it all,

harsh reality at its best.

When forced to face it all,

pre-conceived notions rip at the seams,

bringing truth to the forefront,

unrecognized and uncategorized,

harassing our emotions to comply,

teasing our actions to rebel.

So we lie on the cold pavement,

alone and full of wonder,

forced to face it all,

harsh reality at its best.

Gazing upward,

the stars reveal mystical understanding,

that pain will transform to healing,

the cold will warm,

and we will collectively join in the jungle of revealation,

forced to face it all,

harsh reality at its best illustrates the sliver of light that brightens our humanity:

no matter how far we’ve come,

we still have more to go.

So enjoy the ride,

be scared and fearless,

keep your heart warm and never look back!

The deeper meaning of life: non-profit, REAL difference

This week, I am at coordinator retreat with 12 coworkers. We are blessed to be atop of Tomales Bay overlooking the green hills of Northern California. As blessed as we are to get away and collaborate in peaceful paradise, we all are dreaming about those “grass is greener” moments as we identify the hard and REAL issues for young inner city youth. We are uniting to bring awareness to and brainstorm solutions to the toughest issues facing youth success in San Francisco.

In the quietness of the foggy, wet morning the stillness invites time for me to contemplate. I see the deep seeded necessity for balance between the constructive, powerful time where energy is exponentially increasing and the time of rest, reflection and relief. No matter how hard our jobs are, we have to walk away at the end of the day knowing we tried as hard as we can. My staff is wonderful at creating space for both and this example is uplifting.

Amongst the high-pitched laughs and games, the focused discussions provide the necessary honesty to shaping brighter horizons in the future. After growing up in a relatively privileged area in small town Colorado, sitting back and listening to the intense troubles arising for the coordinators are enough to take my breath away. Not only is tragedy or violence or mistreatment happening, it’s happening on a daily basis. This sad but true reality gets me thinking…how do we walk away from conflict in our lives, especially when others need our support, knowing we don’t have the solution? How do we find the balance of providing healthy tools and resources, but without overextending ourselves? Can we continue to take care of our personal well-being when others are fighting against their circumstances?

Even beyond the constructive programmatic work, the personal stories of family, struggle, defeat, addiction, hardship, and growth brings another level to the authenticity of our human existence. The coordinators’ stories offer me the perspective of how we all individually come from diverse, shattering, yet enlightening and inspiring paths. No matter how hard or easy each upbringing was for a person, each story had the light and the dark. And when I look around at the motivated stares in their eyes and their exhilarated smiles, there becomes a sweetness to the bitter end. And the end begins to look like the beginning of possibility.

Being here at retreat makes me realize that there is truly a DEEPER meaning of life. By deeper I mean more meaningful and fulfilling. I am motivated by their dedication to exuding self-agency and the willingness to support those who have none.

That is…truly perfect, joyous and better than any yoga class, fashion bag, or electronic toy can provide us. The connections that we develop that are truly positive and satisfying are few and far between. I feel so blessed to work in a non-profit, REAL difference setting. Because the truth is that there is more hardship than comfort, and the happiness can only come when we relate, connect and thrive. The happiness does not come when we think that there is something more ideal out there that is impossible to achieve. Rather than putting all expectations on ourselves, the true solution comes to fruition when we collaborate; acknowledging that we are equal and imperfect despite where we come from. Sharing with these amazing individuals is motivating me to continue forward and find my balance not just for me, but so that I can serve others farther beyond my current capacity. Even though we are a non-profit, we make a real difference and for me, that means is priceless!

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile” ~Albert Einstein

Namaste

Bringing it all home: trials of aging and degenerating

There’s nothing like bringing it all home…friends, family, old favorites, reminiscing of the past, blending it with the present. Then there comes those dark moments of bringing it all home; a little too close to home where your whole core is shaken. My trip home to Colorado has been filled with both…the comforting hugs and heart-felt conversations AND then there’s the deep and difficult reality of aging relatives and painful life struggles. As hard as it is to face and not turn away, the truth is home = family and family = unrelenting challenge. Meaning that being home presents those uncomfortable, anxiety-building situations where you want to run faster than ever before. For me, being home = intensely real.

My grandfather is peaking on the summit of releasing his self-independence. With my life now in SF, 1200 miles away from the daily process of this happening, I wasn’t ready for what I walked into…frail weakness, exhaustion, confusion, and uncontrolled natural body processes all at the same time. The change in his voice, loss of weight in his face, and most of all, the lack of recognition of my presence was heartbreaking. Having to change his soiled clothes while my eyes selfishly avoided looking around at the chaotic simplicity of his room, I felt my heart gain five pounds. How did we end up here? I’m not a kid anymore is all I could think!

On top of the hardship of watching my grandpa lose control on his independence and overall awareness, I had an extremely raw and brutal conversation with a relative regarding a longstanding chronic pain issue. Although this isn’t new news to my ears, the face-to-face conversation sculpted the truth deeper into my soul. The hard part is no matter what, I knew I can’t relate. Although my ligaments are beaten and torn, my body is yet to degenerate and continually worsen with each day. At this point, I can only listen and offer my attention and wholehearted love. The harder part is that the pain is so extremely inhibiting and rare that really no one can relate, leaving me feeling helpless to discovering a wider network of professionals to resolve the issue. The overwhelming sadness is all I’m left with at the end of the day, but I fall asleep without the relentless pain…For this, I know I am grateful but I couldn’t help but wonder, how did we end up here? I’m not a kid anymore is all I could think!

During this trip, I am being presented with depressing yet manageable struggles. The heartbreak is harder than the actual conflict. I am filled with abundance for my personal health and huge support network here in Colorado. Being surrounded by wretched deprivation is emotionally exhausting. So how do I continue to support and not run away? How do I bring it all home and still find comfort amidst the struggle? The struggle of existence is heavy…it’s not easy nor does it make sense. It’s not fair, it’s uncomfortable, bold, gut-wrenching, and painful. So we have to find courage to fous on one thing that is breeding success and multiply momentum based on that tiny piece of hope.

Supporting the pain of aging or degeneration from the outside is much different from living the physical pain. I feel helpless in my ability to know what is right or give advice because I am so over my head. Bringing it home is tightening my grip on reality, reminding me that life is precious and despite the minor injuries in my personal life, it could truly always be worse. It is enlightening and humbling — stripping me from my first world perspective by broadening my awareness of all the suffering in the world. And the one thing keeping me from closing my eyes and pretending I am somewhere else is (like always) the deep breaths and warm hugs from my family…bringing it home, hopping up the steps and knocking on my door….

…anyone home?! I cannot hide under the couch! I have to open the blinds, let the sun in and tend to my garden. I have to continue to dust off the dirt, pull the weeds and muster up all the courage possible, despite I have NO idea how to handle this. I don’t think we are ever prepared to watch someone die from age or pain. Love can only go so far before our efforts are exhausted and the power of the process of life prevails. It is easier to run away than stay. I soon will board a plane to go back to my thriving life in San Francisco and soon to be Lake Tahoe. So I have to stay present, love from a distance and accept the harsh circumstances of decay that exist in my family. And not for one moment can I deny that there is still wonderful growth happening amidst the break down. It exists in all families! The yin and the yang. I came to Colorado empowered and confident and I leave naked and defenseless. My heart feels stronger but also a little bigger. I am not a kid anymore, that is all I can think!

False blame, true resolution

Today a young girl, about eight years old, unconsciously swerved into my on the Golden Gate Bridge as I was coming home from a ride through Tiburon and Paradise Canyon. I was already feeling a lovely (but not so much) shooting pain in my knee and was not ready to run into a child while going faster than she was — starting a more-than-agressive-for-my-taste discussion with her father after she fell over. Granted, the bridge on a holiday is a sh*t show and I’m sure the girl was extremely scared/distracted as she just tried to survive the random pockets of people posing for a picture or unannounced flinging of their hands as they point at something on the water. When I hit her, I felt horrible and I stopped to see if she was okay. And although it was technically more her fault than mine in that situation, I had to keep my mouth shut and let the dad go off on his rant while I simply and as calmly as possible apologized as everyone started at us like we were a street act.

Little did I know as I got back on my bike that the impact from her flowery beach cruiser with a customized license plate hanging from her seat had deeply bruised my entire left forearm…talk about a joyous memory of how I mistakenly collided with an eight-year old girl. Her gushing tears showed that it was more than traumatizing from her. For me, it was a situation where I wanted so badly to get defensive and prove it wasn’t my fault. But all I could do was take the “blame” and move on accepting that as an adult, I too had a part. This unfortunate event made me connect with the overarching theme that from time to time, we are falsely accused of ‘this or that’. But in order to find more peace at the end of the day, we have to surrender to others’ over (or sometimes under) reactions, and use their reaction as a liaison to personally reflect on our own reactions. Any dramatic outrage or possible denial of a circumstance can be a sure sign to ourselves to question within the validity of our unique presence/participation in any event.

Whether we are disrespected, undermined, or neglected (possibly all three at once!), how do we remove the other person’s emotional involvement and dig up genuine self-care, as well as, responsibility in the moment? Chances are, we won’t! Or not as much as we’d like to. Whenever we feel threatened or hurt, we retreat to the habitual trail of blame to temporarily resolve our own fear of being wrong. But what if no one was wrong? Yet, the true solution can be the simple acknowledgment of our role, whether minimal or signifiant?! Once we step outside the immediate finger-pointing, screaming or silent-treatment session, the straightforward resolution can be seen: blame is just a mask to revealing the truth, often the truth that someone made a mistake.

The dad didn’t want to admit that his daughter wasn’t looking or that he was trying as hard as he could to direct her despite all the chaos and she wasn’t listening. I didn’t want to admit I had a bad attitude from all the people and could have slowed down even more as the family passed me. Blame is a roundabout way to confessing our individual part in difficult situations of life; be that a bike crash, argument, unsuccessful business presentation, or any rule-breaking activity. Accidents happen. That does not make us, or them, a bad person. Is there anyone in your life that you are falsely blaming for how something has worked out in your life? Even if they were wrong, can you forgive them and release the hate and/or anger? Accidents happen. The true resolution is not more conflict…it is peace.

“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.” ~Suzanne Somers

Revolution of REAL: being an everyday leader

Don’t get me wrong, I love to read! But lately, all I can do is write. Unfortunately, that means more staring at a computer than at a printed page. A sliver of me feels guilty for being so attached to my computer and all the associated bright stimulation. And I try, try again and yet, I keep reaching over and opening my laptop to click and clack on tiny keys. I recently watched Drew Dudley’s ted talk on Everyday Leadership; it’s great btw! Beyond great though, Dudley speaks of the importance of making leadership not something BIGGER or o.u.t.s.i.d.e. of ourselves. Funnily enough, it’s mostly those insignificant gestures in our daily routines that end up being monumental acts in the lives of others. Invoking personal responsibility to be a leader is a powerful thing! And that’s why I’ve been writing more than I read, I guess…

…to break it all down to REAL. Am I leader? No, well maybe…according to Drew Dudley, yes. I am one individual brimming to the rim with limitless expression. Being a leader is about what we’re going through multiplied by our unique personality that makes up the articulation of leadership to bordering relationships. Leadership is the spilling over of simple struggle to better ourselves…it’s an epidemic because we all are imperfectly existing.

I agree that there are those extraordinary leaders such as MLK Jr. and Ghandi that reshape engrained systems in society. Their contributions to each of our lives should not go unspoken, NEVER; however, I think it’s crucial to recognize that they can’t do it on their own. They are not enough. They do not draw the line at some monopoly on leadership. The power of numbers is REAL.

Fink’s Song of Revolution makes me connect to all those kids I work with everyday. And what everyday leadership can REALly mean. Labeling leadership to the confines of private sector role models or Fortune 500 innovators caps the ceiling of possibility to those privileged enough to acquire enough debt to work 80-hour workweeks to repay. But the stranger passing you on the street can have the biggest smile you’ve ever seen.

This epidemic is about a positive perspective on personal influence: a revolution to the weird, the awkward, the sad face, the tear and the warm embrace. A revolution of REAL. Do we all have the balls enough to value ourselves as leaders, live honestly, and invite in those relationships around us that embody the same courage? Because the truth is, it’s always been here…we’ve ran away, both when we were scared and too happy to believe. But it doesn’t take much to be an everyday leader. Just because we aren’t a certain race or have faced extreme oppression, does not limit the significance of our emotions and hardships. We may not have cancer, but we’re fighting the disease of blessing ourselves as much as we bless others.

There’s a thought…can we be a leader to ourselves as much as other people?? Which one matters more?? The truth is only your own, but for me, I believe the weight has to be equal or one is defeated by the bloodshed of the other. This is not a battle, this is a revolution! Join forces and keep on keepin’ on! Hell, you’ve come so far…

****

Song of Revolution ~ Fink

We’ve come so far, it feels so real.
All this time, that we’ve waited for it.
And who we are, and where we’re going to.
All this time, preparing for it.

umh, come so far.
umh, come so far.

So let me know when we get there, if we get there.
Let me know when we get there, if we get there.

In the dark it, feels so, real.
And all this time, we’ve been sleeping on it.
And who we are, and what we’re going, through.
All this time, spent saving for it.

umh, come so far.
umh, come so far yeah.

So just let me know when we get there, if we get there.
Let me know when we get there, if we get there.

Come so far, there’s no going back.
All this time, we’ve been running from it.
And where we are , and where we’re going to.
We’ll organise a sort of revolution.
We’ll organise a sort of revolution.
We’ll organise a sort revolution.
We’ll organise a sort of revolution

Opening the gateway to personal permission

Last night, while having a little heart-to-heart with the bestie, I admitted aloud that one of the hardest things for me to do is break down the conceptual logic/understanding underneath self-love and patience and actually grant myself the permission to give myself a break (and further more: Trust with a capital T). With so many recent bumps and scrapes to my body, I acknowledged that completely allowing myself to have REST (whatever the hell that means!) is the most healthy thing my body needs for the bigger picture of my long-term health. And as much as I can speak the truth, mentally I have so much resistance to resting for more than a day or two. My energetic side of me becomes impatient to the slower speed of life.

On one hand, I am proud of myself for speaking the truth to the larger world outside myself. I believe the simple verbal acknowledgement that we are aware of our fears, minimizes the demons in our minds. It’s the first step to building change — making public that those voices in our head aren’t always “I love yous” or “I have it totally under control”. The courage behind being utterly vulnerable to our fears is bravery at its best. Can you make friends with your fears? Chances are, just like myself, you have more than one so make room for a bunch of new bffs!

So once it’s out in the open, then what? There are two options here.

1) The truth remains free-floating in the air rotating around you untouched and unchanged. Words are just the foundation to unconstructed actions. OR…

2) We enable ourselves to snatch the truth, give it a makeover and slowly but surely take the steps to reclaiming the truth. We start to build on the foundation to construct the desired actions.

What would it take for you to give yourself the absolute permission to be YOU? This does NOT include the ego, negative self-talk, negative judgement on others, blame, shame, hate — all the tools we pull out of the bag when we enter fight-or-flight mode. For me, the act of resting is the easy part: just BE! The act of whatever we have to do typically is the easiest part. Where we come up against conflict is in the mental processes prior to the action.

Imagine yourself standing at an electric fence gazing to the other side. On the other side lies deep acceptance of your biggest fear. All that is standing in your way is the electric shock blocking you from peaceful surrender. You don’t have to jump the fence or turn around and walk away from acceptance. You, yourself, are the electric shock that prevents you from stepping on the other side. Saying it is one thing, but being your own fairy godmother is paramount to the truth coming to fruition. The longer we shock ourselves, the more pain we feel!

In this day and age, the high-stressed environments are what produces the determined “success” pushed on us starting at grade-school. But, we have to let down our guard enough to let ourselves live out EASY from time to time. The truth is not an enemy, it is not wrong, it is what permits us to continue changing — it is the ugly duckling that is resilient. The moment we turn away from the fence and retreat, instead of turning off the shock by saying “I’m enough”, we lose the gateway to transformation. So step right up, you’re the next contest on your own gameshow. The objective to the game: snatch the truth and make it over until it builds into infinite acceptance. The prize: HAPPINESS. Good luck.