Driving responsbility with humor — available to participate in it all

Lately, I have been pulled by the reins of responsibility. Being a general manager in a restaurant that is both a community meeting place, as well as, an example of love, honesty, communication and teamwork, I recognize my role in being a leader to not only my staff, other businesses around Tahoe, and the customers. With the role of a leader, comes an overwhelming amount of responsibility. Now, I could walk through the job day to day without taking the amount of responsibility required to expand and connect, however, the rewards of exuding compassionate effort day after day has started to creep into my heart.

 

Yesterday, at the pinnacle of my exhaustion, I arrived at the realization that without humor, the responsibility will foster into a capsule of resistance due to the lack of lightness. So, if we invite in the willingness to approach responsibility with both effort and humor, do we in turn become more available? And by being available, how do others around us react? As a manager, it’s easy to sit back and delegate but I’ve noticed that if I step up and become available to listen, work, laugh, relate, and ultimately embrace their needs, the result is much more positive.

When we are more available from the heart, we can open up to taking on responsibility, and then, participate in more. From this place of participation, we awaken to a more expansive concept of possibility.  These opportunities are drawn to us as we begin to remain more available to facing the depths of responsibility and humor. And this is determined by how we show up.

As the relationships and expectations around me shift daily, with constant shifts, I notice that if I show up with a deep-seeded intention of resolve, the resolutions come. The trust that everything is going to resolve itself with the benefit of growth is keeping me pushing forward. And the community here continues to inspire me to keep pushing forward…but for them, not for me. This letting go of fear of the responsibility and embracing the humor in the often difficulty of actively participating makes the days unfold with more joy.

It is easy to participate when a situation brings a smile and sense of ease, but can we still participate when our limits are pushed? When things such as doubt and uncertainty spiral us to anxious thoughts of judgment. I have been pushed so deeply in the past two months. But as I break it down, I see that I’m getting through it, and as long as I wake up each day trying to honestly connect with others and try my hardest, the responsibility is actually a privilege, rather than a stress. To intertwine the workings of humor (lightness) and responsibility (heaviness), the practice of feeling both simultaneously brings a colorful balance; neither light or dark. To live in the light all the time is limiting our growth, but to live in the darkness limits our potential to exist with fulfillment. So maybe it’s more about a colorful existence of lights and darks. A brightness that is available to expand our vision of how we show up and how we participate. And although we may have a favorite color, maybe we can start to see the beauty in a multiple of colors. Can we paint a brighter picture with each day?

Cancer, breakups, tragedy, and a new day? Why?

In the last two weeks, I think I’ve cried enough to last me six months. It is true that the body can only handle so much stress and trauma, emotionally or physically, before it breaks down. I am broken, but only slightly. Enough to be rebuilt and hopefully this time much stronger. Or wait? Maybe I don’t want to be stronger, I just want to be more full of love. And as I get loving advice from my support system around me, I see even more clearly that maybe I’ve been too strong for too long and the shield is thick. Granted, the shield is thick with much passion and care for the outside world, but my shield is blocking my vision. Lately, with deep pressure in my professional life and sadness in my personal life, the tears are clearing a path to seeing in a new light.

A dear friend, too young to have terminal cancer, is facing the harshest throws from the demon of stomach cancer. It is quite likely that the demon will soon suck her in, ending her positive, bright, and optimistic life on Earth. Having to accept the tragedies of life such as these unexplainable occurrences makes me not want to face another day, read another news story, build another meaningful relationship, or care so much I drive myself crazy. It makes you question what is really worth it? And when the goin’ gets tough, I believe the answer seems to be NO. But ultimately, after the tears and grief and hopelessness fade, the answer begins to evolve into YES…a grateful look at existence. But what is actually ‘really worth it’ starts to narrow and the unnecessary habits and worries of life insignificantly drop off.

So the one outlook that death and heartbreak can positively bring is a more enhanced version of how you want to live out your truth, your destiny, your happiness. And so a new day indeed becomes a gift only when we’re ready to release anger, reframe our attitude, and adopt more love to overcome the tragedy. Even in my daily life, my own breakups and heartbreaks feel like tragedy, although on a minimal level compared to death. And I guess this is an example of the different stages of life; everything is relative. And yet the growth can come by recognizing that my own breakups and heartbreaks aren’t death, therefore, making it temporary. Death is permanent, a breakup or heartbreak is not. Our mind can make it permanent, but that is a facade. The tears still mean we’re alive and learning and growing.

Cancer is not fair; it’s a horrible beast of pain that is exploiting the human population (and other species, too). These darkest and most difficult moments of life also illuminate the brightest and happiest moments…so is it worth it? Would you continue wanting to live if you knew you were going to get cancer? Would a new day seem worth the pain? We all struggle to make it through day to day and it’s important to remember that we don’t know everyone’s story. Maybe the person next to you on the bus or at the cafe is facing a similar heartbreak or an even deeper tragedy than we’ve ever faced. Keeping that in mind, that alters my outlook on relating with others. How about you? So as the crying hopefully dissipates a bit, rather than being stronger and more aggressive, I would like to maintain a balanced strength, enough to carry more love with an open heart. Because the days are truly precious and extremely temporary!

Putting the compassion in community

It’s official…I’m going to Nairobi, Kenya in January 2013 on a women’s leadership trip. This is a dream (to-be) come true for me. I have had a special place in my heart for Africa since I was a little girl; wanting to see the diverse culture and dynamic flavors of culture there. This trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Rafting, safari, school visits, leadership workshop, self-defense training, and all with a powerful group of women who have established a microloan project for Kenyan women in addition to spreading education around AIDS and anti-rape for African women.

Just one week ago, I had no idea I would be surrounded by such passionate women and getting as involved as I had intended to prior to leaving San Francisco. Moving to Tahoe was a big leap for me beyond taking on a responsibility-heavy job. I was scared I wouldn’t find the wide-variety or influential resources the city offers across numerous social services. But for living here for only one month, I have found two things to be true.

1) Small community can mean big change.

2) Intention is everything!!!

In San Francisco, getting involved takes some serious effort, but actually getting to the top of a totem pole in a social group, non-profit, volunteer project, etc. takes more luck than anything. Everyone and their mom has more connections than you and it takes years and lots of networking to be a central member of producing action on a deep, noticeable level. But in Tahoe, the community is so open and so small compared to San Francisco, I already am landing in amazing positive social circles.

This morning, I was asked to teach yoga at my favorite studio in South Tahoe because they think my knowledge would be “valued”…that definitely would not have been noticed in the city. And if it was, I would be at the bottom of some sub-list that I would most likely never get off. Because I have narrowed my playing field, my true talents are now being recognized, and that’s gratifying. What happens after this?

My confidence goes up, my heart opens more, I meet more people, and my intentions expand beyond my last ‘crazy idea’. So when we validate each other for our unique talents, be kind, and be willing to get involved, COMMUNITY BUILDS and GROWTH HAPPENS. I’m now taking what I was doing on a small scale — teaching yoga to youth in the city (very infrequently) and trying to start my own program with at-risk youth here. Because although South Tahoe is not San Francisco, there are still youth who are suffering who can benefit from yoga. Hell, we all can benefit from yoga!

As I look back to first moving here and look forward to Africa, all I can do is laugh out loud and smile with abundant gratitude because my intentions are coming to fruition. I wanted to get involved in the yoga community (check), I wanted to get involved with youth (check) and I wanted to get involved with a women’s group making larger-scale change (check). And I’ve only been here a month. I feel so blessed about the vast space for opportunity.

Whether we live in a city or a small town, discovering and embracing community enhances our quality of life. If you have it, great! HARNESS THE POWER! If you don’t, set your intention of what you are most passionate about and it will find its way into your heart and life…keep making intentions! With community we feel connected, confident, and empowered…and this helps us dream bigger!! Next stop for me — Africa! Dreams really do become reality when we believe (and believe, and believe, no matter how long it takes!).

It’s your dream to make so get to the drawing board and don’t stop!!!

Confessions of a broken heart

I want to spread my wings and fly away…

I want to fly to a place of serenity, acceptance and graceful union. Right now in my life, I am locked in a cage of resistance and pain. After four knee injuries in the last six months, I am beyond over the trials of ‘ice, elevation, and rest’ bullshit. The swelling from my knee is spreading to my heart and I am left disappointed and organically sad at my damaged being. My joints have torn so many times that my heart is ripping at the seams.

I want to spread my wings and fly away to a place where I feel empowered beyond what I do. I am being forced to honor more than what I do, but who I am. And in this physical imprisonment, I am questioning my authenticity, my intentions and my connections with others. I am in so much pain that I am forgetting who I am.

I want to spread my wings and fly away…

I want to embrace my body with acceptance so that I do not forget all it has done for me for the past 23 years. How easy is it to forget the good things in the past and remember those that scared us? My tendency is to want more and I feel that burning normalcy charring my heart. Empowerment has become imploded with power beyond my mind’s eye. My wings have been clipped and my spirit feels grounded. So when it gets to the point of no return in life, what do we do? Fly away to a ‘better place’?

I want to spread my wings and fly; to a land where other people breed the same source of love I do and where we all understand each other. But after recent transitions in my life, I have come to the understanding that we will never always understand each other…that broken hearts are inevitable when we love because nothing lasts forever; not the same forever we dream up in our unspoken fairytale. When we come to the point where hearts are broken, we are tested by the overwhelming strength of our emotions. And when we continually spread our wings and fly, amongst leaving those things that are hardest, we leave those that are the best for us. Fear is the foundation to the fabric of our wingspan.

So now that I am at the point of no return with my body and people in my life, what do I do?

I stay grounded and mindful…

I do not get sucked into the advertisement of escaping to the far-off paradise. I trust that my body will prevail and guide me to where I am meant to be. I trust that time will heal the pain and my tendencies will shift as the moons do. I acknowledge that other people cannot control my love and that my authenticity cannot control theirs.

My physical injuries are aligned with my relationships with others. My broken heart can only be mended when I stop flying away, ignoring the reality that broken things need time to heal. No matter how much we want to force something in our lives, we have to stay grounded enough to appreciate the subtle differences that bring change. The mindful intention of grounding opens our hearts enough to love again…and again…and again. And eventually, just maybe, we will end up in a sacred spot of serenity, acceptance and graceful union. Letting things and people close to us go when necessary is part of rebuilding the heart in order to be healthy and healed…the rehab just sucks like hell. I thought I could say ‘been there, done that’…but this time I realize that I’ve never been here and I’ve never done this. And next time, it will hurt just as much…

So I stay grounded (or try) and maybe dream of flying away when it gets too hard. What are you flying away from? Can you find grounding in the middle of the sky?

 

Becoming unopinionated, unattached and uninterested — dying with a bundle of secrets and unread love letters

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I am a BIG fan of stating the truth, especially if it’s about L.O.V.E. One of the most often comments about my personality I get surrounds something to do with how open I am with my feelings. Why the hell is this so unique? Why are people so guarded? To die with a bundle of secrets and unread love letters? I understand the HUGE vulnerability that is easily avoided when playing nice, neither disappointing or over-loving people. But playing nice also avoids the huge benefits after reaching out and calling someone who never calls you or speaking opinions that someone else silently shares.

Unfortunately, I am meeting the negative symptoms of asking for what I need and stating my most honest feelings…no love letters in return. Although I do not agree with the majority of people trapped in the dungeon of fear, maybe their heart strings aren’t played as often, sustaining the capacity of their love life. Maybe I am at the point where I need to be more accepting of the dual power of open surrender — beauty and defeat.

In order to be understood, we have to explain ourselves but the risk in that is having the other people not agree with our personal explanation of a situation or feeling. Defeat is evitable in fighting for what we believe in. I’m realizing that becoming unopinionated and unattached is more painful than the pain of being honest. And I’d rather repair my heart strings from overuse than perserving them to be buried with my body when I die. What I am seeing is that we need to take more emotional risks in our society.

Then, there’s the other question: how much do you trust before you close down? I am beginning to question my level of trust in the external world. But if I choose to close down because of hurt, I am trapping myself in the dungeon of fear; I am giving in! So I guess all that can happen is to continue to ask for what you need, find people who can fulfill that, trust those people are more than few and far between, and keep exploring our unique passions: opinionated, full of love and wonder.

So if you are daring enough, I invite you to uncomplicate your relationships and call someone you haven’t talk to in awhile, speak up to those who are not best for you and those who are. Be honest; real with yourself first and then others. And never stop trusting, no matter how f*cking bad it hurts. Five years from now, you’ll look back and laugh with even more love in your heart!

Why do we do what we do? Questioning purpose and meaning in our existence

With a new job, new town, and new community upon me, I am finding myself asking the question, why am I doing what I do? Of course, there are the obvious reasons: professionally, personally, financially, all the logical reasons add up. But what I am curious about is why we do what we do from a more organic level; the driving force of our existence. Is it a love-at-first-sight kind of thing or is it a coerced ‘doing’ that we try-on in order to one day transform into the ideal character we design in our minds. And are we doing it for our own personal desires or for someone else’s?

When I think about all the different people and all the different trades to “do” out in the working world, I am suspicious to how many of us actually ‘do’ to better our state of ‘being’? Do we ‘do’ to avoid, to stay busy, to feel important, to camouflage, OR to truly seek out that which seems to be our destiny? The hard part is we never really know. I mean, intuition is magic but truly understanding that in the midst of trying to survive in this complicated world makes our destiny seem like a booby trap of struggle, simplicity and a dark unknown.

For me, moving from the non-profit office atmosphere to the high-paced intensity of restaurant work is so dynamic that I literally feel moved. My emotional being is quickly coming to realize that our ‘being’ knows best how to distinguish between those things that we ‘do’ that makes us happy and those that do not. A paycheck or promotion can only temporarily convince us of that. Like all things of moderation in life, the truth is becoming clear that what I do will never be 100 percent what I love. But if I mindlessly do not show up being grateful for the 80 percent of those aspects I love, what is it worth to my personality?

And beyond what we do, who are we when we do what we do? If you find yourself not feeling the same spunk as you do when you punch-out at the end of the day…DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Or if you can’t because circumstances are hard, CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE and do ONE thing different. I am a firm believer that if we keep our ‘being’ thriving, our ‘doing’ will bloom into bliss.

Can we exude the same integrity no matter the job? I am now recognizing that what we do does matter to who we are although people are right when they say, “a job is just a job.” Why do you do what you do? Ask yourself that 10 times fast 🙂 There are way too many YOU and DOs to get the question straight! So we all must have mindfulness to our intention around our purpose in life. What must drive it all is passion! And sometimes it takes the persistance to push through the unpassionate parts of our ‘doing’ to cultivate more compassion for the suffering of others.

With enough compassion, our passions slowly come to fruition…we are lead to where we feel fulfillment. Another hard part: the passion fluctuates. As we grow, we want to prove to ourselves we can do more, sometimes finding ourselves in over our head. Or on the flip side, we get stuck thinking there is no farther to go and we end up limited in our capacity. So as humans, we have to constantly question our purpose, take risks, but also be patient as the passions fluctuate and find their rhythm. Can you find those qualities about what you do that you inherently love and expand on them rather than getting lost in conquering just to conquer? Your purpose is your own! Get to know it, the good and the ugly.

 

Selfless respect: who is it really about?

I’m back to working full swing in the service industry and boy, is it a 180 turn from my non-profit work back in the city. The rhythm of multi-tasking through the daily tasks of a restaurant came back like riding a bike (thank god!) and it has been thoroughly joyous to connect with the locals. This is definitely one of the few benefits of living in a small town besides FREE parking: a tight-knit community of people who you build sustainable relationships with. In the city, it took me about two years to start to see the same results that I now see in a week here in Tahoe. Proving that size does matter!

Since I’ve been in my new chapter in Tahoe, I have been faced with two situations that point to one common theme: respect and service to others! The most obvious of the two is my job — literally serving people amazing food. Being a manager is the bigger picture view to any of my previous service experience. When it gets busy and I just can’t get around to doing it all or some hungry, annoyed customer comes in with an attitude, how do I learn to not make it about me and how stressed or defensive I feel? Chances are most times, I will forget that it is not about me, and will want to respond with the same attitude back because I feel hopeless in providing great service.

However, I believe that it is possible to stay selfless in the midst of chaos. The only way to make change is through consciousness!! So, back to the basics. I know that when I have one million things on my plate, the only thing to do is clean one off at a time and breathing through it with honest effort is what prevails over being a hot mess. It’s funny how in our own lives, we can get away with being an internal ‘hot mess’, abusing the most genuine parts of ourselves. But when it comes to serving others, people get turned off by us when we try to do it all without direction or intention. That’s one of the beautiful parts about connecting — we realize that we shouldn’t have to put up with some of the stupid sh*t we do. We learn from others those things about us that are out-of-balance.

Sometimes it feels like we’re right and they’re wrong (ok, most times). So what I’m talking about here is actually seeing ourself in the situation and taking responsibility for our attitude, especially those moments that are not our best. Uniquely, can we respect ourself enough to respect others? And is showing genuine respect for others a gateway to respecting yourself? I think the more I slow down, the more I see the correlation that binds the two: self and other.

Feminists, biologists, hippies, and buddhist spend hours and books talking about the relationship between self and other. I find that the only time the normal layperson is forced to analyze and build off this limitless connection is when one of two things arise: tragedy/hardship or extreme love. The other 90 percent of the time, we are all walking around subconsciously thinking mostly about how our personal ego feels.

And this is where my second situation comes into play. Despite being surrounded with this new sense of community, adjusting to a long-distance relationship brings up random feelings of longing, jealousy, frustration, and wonder.

As much as I am coming from trust and acceptance of where our lives are at, my ego still tries to bring up the doubt card when I least expect it! So I pose this question: can we love enough to respect others’ needs and circumstances? Can I honor our relationship for what it is rather than wanting more? Because we all know why I want more…for myself.

In my life, I am beginning to see that service can be beyond the normal definitions from which we assign it. Service can be as simple as respecting others needs while removing your own. Most times, it is our own wants and needs that cloud the truth for another person. Then, we end up feeling alone and not good enough. And the vicious cycle continues until we are willing enough to invite in other’s perspectives.

Whether it is someone significant to me or just a customer along the way, our path is not the same, we are simply crossing (and hopefully connecting). As much as I want to cling to made-up ideals, everlasting love from another, and happy customers who are more patient than I am!, the only truth is honesty, breath and love. As corny as it sounds, we have to surrender to the service of respect or we will be of disservice to our own happiness. So ask yourself who is it really about?