What are you Thankful for? 

I am so thankful to be alive at this point in time and space. 

For pumpkin pie. 

For my dear family and friends. 

For the awakening and transformation I have felt and witnessed in myself and the world in recent weeks, months, and years. 

For the beautiful house I am currently housesitting in LA. 

For music, my saving grace lately. 

For my health. 

For clean water, air, and soil. 

For all of the goodness I see in the world every day. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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se·ren·i·ty
səˈrenədē/
noun
the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.

What can I control and what can’t I control?  How can I be calm, peaceful, and untroubled when so many around me are hurting and very troubled? How can I best be of service?

These are questions which I began asking myself in earnest three years ago and which, just when I thought I had them down and was acing my serenity tests, have come back with a vengeance over the past ten days.  In the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election, I find myself reactive, confused, angry, annoyed, pessimistic, optimistic, hopeful, and fired up.  How can one person (or country) be such a soup and what do I do with all that is rising to the surface?

While I was asking these questions on a very personal level three years ago, it has become clear that while the context may change, the answers actually remain the same. I can control myself, my actions, my words, and (with practice) my thoughts. I can not control anything else. End of discussion.  How can I be calm and peaceful when so many around me are hurting? Well, how is my not being calm, peaceful, and centered going to do anything to help others or to better the situation, whatever that may be? It is only with a calm and centered mind that I will be able to act without reacting and to communicate clearly and kindly.  How can I best be of service? Like the previous answer, only when I have taken care of myself on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level will I be able to assist and help others.

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Tonight I turned off the news and went for a walk.  I could see some sort of a sunset filtering in through the curtains and realized it was my responsibility to my own wellbeing to go look at it, get some fresh air, take some photos and breathe.  It was when I realized I felt some kind of guilt for turning off the news, afraid to be deemed uninvolved, complacent, or an irresponsible citizen that I realized how far off course I have become lately. What exactly do I hope to do with whatever it is NPR will tell me tonight, besides get upset?

While on my walk, I saw a bougainvillea in full bloom, a hawk sitting on a power line, a sunset, a wall decorated with hearts, and two bird of paradise flowers that looked like they were having a conversation.  I came back, turned on some music, ran a bath, and poured a glass of wine.

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Life has a way of sending us the perfect situations to test foundations we thought were solid and, until they really are, will continue to do so. I have been shown many cracks in mine lately and, as Leonard Cohen wrote,

Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

It is an ongoing practice to remember that I am the only thing/person/ place/etc that I can control and that it is only by taking care of myself first that I can then be of service to others.

 

 

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img_4751-1This very moment is the perfect teacher.

-Pema Chödrön

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

They go low, we go high. 

-Michelle Obama 

Over the past seven days (has it really only been one week?!) I have been reminded that you just never know who your teachers will be, how they will appear in your life, or the lessons they will bring. I never thought The Donald would be one of mine and yet, here we are and here he is.  I have spent the week examining my own fears, complacency, bubbles, reactions, thoughts and was horrified to realize that I was exhibiting some of the same traits I was denouncing in others.

Others. Them.  Those People.  Over there.  Unknown.  Scary.  Strange.  Different.

Right after the election, I found myself guessing for whom people I encountered throughout the day had voted and, based on a number of arbitrary judgments I made up in my mind,  I decided which “side” they were on. I reacted to fear with fear, viewed the country as red and blue, retreated further into my bubble, and failed to remember the very things I espouse here repeatedly.

It is the belief that we are separate from that “other”, whether that be people or the planet, that has led us to this point and it is only through its untangling that we have any chance at change, progress, and, more dramatically, survival. How can I listen without judging? How can I act rather than react? How can I stay true to my convictions without remaining rigid? How can I come from a place of love when my first reaction is fear, which manifests as hate?  How can I help and be of service?  How can I accept where we are and creatively and proactively move forward?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions.  But, what I do know is that I have been given an opportunity to walk my talk, get involved, listen, speak up, investigate, and to repeatedly choose love, which always, always, always trumps hate in the end.

 

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What a morning.  What a night.  What a time to be alive.  I went to bed with a lump in my throat and a pit in my stomach, shocked that I could be so out of touch with half of the country in which I live and that I love.  “Where are the adults?” I wanted to scream as it became clear that Donald Trump would become our next President.  “Where are those who know what is going on and how to fix it and make it all ok? How can we possibly be handing the keys over to this most infantile excuse for leadership?”

Upon waking, the reality that it hadn’t been a dream and was in fact very, very real hit me in the gut and my shock turned to a deep sadness which I can’t  remember feeling so intensely since the morning of September 11th, 2001. How is so much of our country and of the world choosing fear, walls, hate, and isolationism when now, more than ever, we need to work as one planet.  After several minutes of crying over my computer, I went for a walk, to remind myself that, just as President Obama assured us it would last night, the sun did rise this morning.

What do we do now? I have zero interest in jumping ship and moving to a foreign country, nor do I care to spend the next four years living as a victim or in despair. How can I, and we, continue to find and create beauty and peace in our lives, our country, and our world? And how do we help and support one another and this planet we call home? It is a scary thing to realize that we are the adults, the leaders, the ones on which our future depends.  As I search desperately for a silver lining, all I can come up with is this- had the candidate I was supporting won, I may have spent the next four years telling myself that everything was being taken care of and that I could just go on with my life as I always had, involved to a  point but not as much as I could or should be.  But, that did not happen.  And now I am faced with the reality that many of the things about this country that I hold most dear are being questioned and could be revoked completely.  So, it is time to get busy.  There are, and always have been, people doing amazing, quiet, beneficial work all over this country to make it a more inclusive, kinder, fairer, healthier, greener place.  I believe, and pray, that this election will be the painful reminder that there is not, nor ever has been, a candidate or person or outside entity of any sort coming to save us.  This is up to us, we are the ones we have been waiting for, and I have faith that we will not only get through this, but will come out better and stronger than ever. But, fasten your seat-belts in the meantime, this ride has just begun.

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Both original photos were found on Pinterest under search words Planet Earth and Rollercoaster