Category Archives: Love

Creativity for Peace Program- Prepare to Be Amazed!

Image by: Creativity for Peace Israeli May Freed, Creativity for Peace Director Dottie Indyke, Palestinian Jwana Ghaleb
Image by: Creativity for Peace
Israeli May Freed, Creativity for Peace Director Dottie Indyke, Palestinian Jwana Ghaleb

I don’t know if you have this radio program available to you, but if you don’t- you should check it out online!  One of my favorite things to listen to, be inspired by, and just plain “cry” to is Peace Talks Radio.  Weeks ago as I was driving to work, they were featuring one of my most loved programs on this planet- Creativity for Peace.  “What is this savvy, amazing, peace instilling program that you speak of,” you may ask?

Well!

“Creativity for Peace includes a camp experience in the high desert of New Mexico for adolescent girls from all sides in the Middle East conflict.   At the annual camp, the girls speak their minds and hearts about their own suffering due to the hostilities.  Despite being taught to see the other as the enemy, they learn to get along and even be friends.  More importantly perhaps, they learn important lessons in conflict resolution.”

I am a huge proponent of teaching people to listen- deeply listen- to resolve conflict and create healing in their hearts from traumatic or abusive situations.  This program to me represents everything that can be accomplished in our world if we understand that words much of the time are just expressions of emotional release, and many times once they are expressed without  judgment or reacting, healing can take place for both parties.  Incorporating deep listening practices into your daily routine can be life changing- especially with those people that really know how to “yank your chain.”

This particular episode that I was listening to had two young girls, Palestinian Jwana Ghaleb and Israeli Jew May Freed, who have attended the camp and continue to work with it to help other girls resolve their inner conflicts due to the outer conflict of their cultural society, particularly between Palestinians and Israeli Jews.  Their stories will drive you to great heart opening experiences, and give you the opportunity to see where you may need some healing yourself.

To listen, CLICK HERE.

I Shall Not Hate- Dr. AbuelaishA long time ago, I heard an interview by a Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, MD, MPH, where he talked about the anguish he experienced in losing 3 of his daughters and a niece due to an Israeli shell that hit his home in Gaza.  Dr. Abuelaish served as a doctor in Israel, and had dedicated his life to serving those that many would call his enemies.  In response to his experience, he wrote a book called “I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey”.  What was amazing about his interview to me, besides how incredible his spirit is to have dedicated his life to peace after an experience that could have perpetuated hate and conflict, was learning that one of his daughters that died in the bombing had actually attended Creativity for Peace, here in New Mexico.

My inspiration today lives in all of those that see beyond their own inner conflict and anger, and reach out to the world to heal rather than perpetuate the ego’s delusion of separation.  Deep Listening is a practice that can be instilled in all of us- and if our children learned it at a young age, I feel we could change the world.  To me, it is a meditative exercise that connects us to the hearts of one another, rather than our mind which is full of belief systems and a desire to be argumentative.  I hope that you have time to listen to this radio show today, or check out Dr. Abuelaish’s book– or just think about someone that you might be angry with, and see them with compassion for their ignorance that may have caused you pain- or have compassion for yourself, which is so hard and difficult to do for many of us.

Give yourself a hug, by giving someone else a hug.  Happy Friday!

PEACE- WHY NOT?

Peace_Why_Not
Loving February’s Bloggers for Peace writing challenge so much, I am am starting in January (I know, it’s the last day of the month anyhoo!). Thich Nhat Hanh states, Peace in oneself, Peace in the world.

Thich-Nhat-Hanh-Peace-In-Oneself-Peace-In-The-World

What inspires peace for people? 

What gives people the desire to work for peace?

I have seen so many people downtrodden by the daunting task of even thinking about peace in our world.  Their sadness from seeing the suffering on our planet instills compassion, and then to me- a natural desire inherently occurs- the desire to create peace within our own heart.  As a teacher of how perception affects our reality and the world around us, I truly believe that peace begins within ourselves and it illuminates each person we touch with kindness and a greater compassion for others.

Peace is not a futile effort. 

Seeing the joy and love within the images placed in my “Peace, Why Not?” billboard inspires me to sit with my own heart space and reflect on my motivation and how I connect with the world around me.  This contemplation, if instilled within all of us each day, would continue to grow and light a flame within each person we interact with like candles on a birthday cake.  Our personal work does have an effect on the world, and we must continue to do this work if we wish to change the world.

Mantra: I am a holy vessel of light being used for the greater good of all sentient beings.

This is a sacred mantra for me, and my motivation every day.  See how it works for you, modify it to work for you, encourage yourself to engage in self love and acceptance so your inner peace will light the way for others.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

Tibetan SunshineLiving the light of my heart
On again, off again
My light switch, my ego’s fear
Dancing, illuminated-
Light’s alliteration playing a game of hop-scotch
With each syllable sounding out
A glimmer of hope bounces from my outer to my inner
A sanctuary of joy ready to open widely
If only for a moment
Let there be light, let there be love.

When I took this picture it was my second adventure in New Mexico, only this one was one of those experiences where your heart is hunting kismet.  Stopping in Madrid, a small artist community an hour from Santa Fe where they’ve filmed such regal cinema as “Wild Hogs” (just joking on the regal), me and my friend met this local shop owner that had a very open heart.  She invited us to go check out a ceremonial place where locals would meet and have drum circles, and walk a labyrinth.  When we got there it was like stumbling upon the love of their land in a balanced ritual of Goddess magic.  I took this picture as I pondered the imagination that had been infused into the land of New Mexico from its magical past.

The light illuminated these colorful twists of prayer next to some Tibetan prayer flags.  Believe it or not, Santa Fe, NM, has a large Tibetan population.  The Tibetan scholar and consultant for Scorsese’s film Kundun, Lobsang Lhalungpa, lived in Santa Fe until he passed away due to a drunk driver accident.  At his funeral, it was said that when he came to New Mexico and meditated, it was the closest thing to Tibet he had ever experienced in his life, which is why he moved there.

At the funeral ceremony someone said that before he died, he told his wife not to feel anger toward the drunk driver.  That we must feel compassion for him.  It was an illuminating experience, just as this light in my picture.  A room of 400 people were able to create so much compassion in that instant that would again be infused into our land for generations of healing.  Even on his death bed he forgave and created a wave of love.  I hope that when I pass, my life will end in such a peaceful state as well, cultivated by the compassion and kindness of so many others.

DAILY PROMPT: Confessions of a Co-dependent: Me, Myself & My Helplessness

loveyourselfchallenge_tumblrLooking back, living life as a co-dependent was like a personal hell that I would re-create through relationships for myself over and over again.  I started to feel like Bill Murray in the film Groundhog Day only I didn’t feel like an omnipotent “God” with the advantage of no-calorie pastries, I felt helpless and cursed.  I lived my life like an addict, only I was addicted to being needed by others and when I was rejected I didn’t know where to turn.  Usually I would turn, but I would just turn in circles like an out of control top who could not tolerate the pain any longer.

Many addicts talk about when they “hit bottom” and my hitting bottom was definitely not something to write home about.  As for many, it was one of those experiences that has come back to haunt me in my own “hall of shame” many a time.  Understanding co-dependency is very difficult and frustrating for outsiders.  We can see certain patterns in people, but it can be trying and difficult to understand why they keep going back to that place of helplessness and loneliness whenever a relationship ends.  And why they choose partners that may seem dysfunctional or simply “wrong” for them.

For me, I had deeply ingrained worthiness issues, and I chose people that would prove to me my own personal belief system- that I did not deserve a healthy, thriving relationship that fed my soul on all levels, and that had good boundaries.  My lack of boundaries always set me up to fail because I compromised what felt right for me all the time due to my fear of conflict.  It would build up until I myself could not handle the situation any longer.  But if a breakup came out of left field, it felt like deep abandonment and I had no healthy coping mechanisms to help me get out of my personally fated riptide.

My rock bottom was not the end of my conflict, but it brought a turning point for me in my psyche that I had to take notice of.  I was young and already felt tired of having to go through the motions of life.  I was confronted with a break up that to me came out of left field.  I was a year out of college, and still very co-dependent.  When the break-up happened, I felt amazed at how people can make decisions for you and there was nothing you could do about it.  But mostly, I felt downtrodden and so helpless that life simply didn’t matter anymore.  There was a crack of light from my soul trying to expand itself into my ego-centered vision, but I was refusing to see it.

One night after going out with some friends and drinking I walked into my dark bedroom as if I was walking into a prison cell.   I looked out my window and saw the street lamp’s light, and the beautiful leaves from the trees rustling so peacefully.  In my heart, I wanted to be those leaves and not myself.  I was truly sick of my ego’s helplessness.  I then swallowed a bottle of pills.  Before going to the hospital, I simply remember this one thought- “why doesn’t anyone love me.”  What I had to learn is that my own personal love for myself and the divinity that coursed through my veins was undeveloped, and it was time to move forward.  And you know what? I am grateful every day for the grace and karma that I had to take life back by the reins from that experience and remember my truth rather than reject it so I could hold onto a belief system about myself that my ego used every day to create more separation.  The great divide within myself had to heal, as it does within all of us.  And I look forward to doing this with others for the rest of my life.

IN AN INSTANT- LIFE REMEMBERED

Peace Doves

“Then, in the nightmare of Monday and Tuesday, there was the struggle to keep normal when planes zoomed overhead and guns cracked out at an unseen enemy. There was blackout and suspicion riding the back of wild rumors: Parachutists in the hills! Poison in your food! Starvation and death were all that was left in a tourist bureau paradise.”

Betty McIntosh, Hono­lulu after Pearl Harbor: A report published for the first time, 71 years later, Washington Post 12/7/12

This morning, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, I opened up my Washington Post to an amazing experience.  An article written by a now 97 year old woman named Betty McIntosh who was a journalist in Hawaii the day Pearl Harbor took place.  The Washington Post published her article today after 71 years has passed, as the paper she wrote for in Hawaii deemed it too graphic and traumatic for its readers at the time.  The article was written 7 days after Pearl Harbor took place, a piece about the woman’s perspective of a war that began with great uncertainty and fear, during a time that many people view from their heart and safe place in the US- the holidays.

In reading the article, I felt emotional and wanted to relate her experiences to something deep inside of me that continues on its human course to heal.  This journey that we are all on ebbs and flows with our fear and our light’s inner knowing.  We oscillate between feelings of love and safety to feelings of uncertainty and sadness.  The pendulum between the ego-driven mind and our connection to the divine, our inherent truth.

“For seven ghastly, confused days, we have been at war. To the women of Hawaii, it has meant a total disruption of home life, a sudden acclimation to blackout nights, terrifying rumors, fear of the unknown as planes drone overhead and lorries shriek through the streets.”

Betty McIntosh points out how on the morning of Pearl Harbor it was a lazy Sunday with people coming out of church still in their reality that a war could not possibly be taking place on their island.  Her narrative takes us on a journey of coming to terms with the reality.  Yes, a war was taking place, and as she walked deeper and deeper into that reality she saw things that shattered the safe place that most knew to be home.  The forest of destruction became thicker with every movement.  There are people still experiencing this in our world, every day, coming to terms with the expansiveness of the human existence and how our reality can so easily be shaken because it is so tightly bound with our expectations and what we are “used” to.

In our experience as fragile human beings, I find it important to remember that each day we could still possibly experience this same thing including our own death.  We don’t know what plane will be ready to take off in our reality and we can’t count on our expectations because they are rooted in our desires rather than possibility.  The only thing we can count on is our ability to choose our reactions and how we will treat people, what we will do that affects other people.  If we can remember the humanness of our bodies that we experience this reality in every day, we can create a motivation to love.  This is our gift.  It is the greatest gift that we can experience within ourselves and in turn, our experiences with others.  Our oneness will not evaporate like emotion or the quenching of an ego-driven desire.  Our oneness will always be here to reflect on.

During this holiday season, I would like to extend my own kindness to all of you out there in the only way I can- in these words.  I want to say thank you with all of my heart for every moment that you choose to reflect and to love.  Every one of those moments is affecting me right now and my potential to also do good things.  You are my olive branch, you are my peace- and I honor you for all that you have experienced as a human.  Whether those experiences are rooted in trauma or joy, I have experienced the same, and I can relate.

As those during any war come to terms with the darkness in the human existence, I can only honor their experiences of suffering in my own and pray peace.  I pray peace during this holiday season and hope that all may experience it in their interaction with others, so we may all remember that we are simply one.  Pearl Harbor, along with all war, has a purpose now to teach us that life is a pendulum of swinging possibility and to embrace it with a motivation to live in our highest potential.  Let us choose our light and shine, illuminating the path for all to experiences of peace.

A MOTHER’S LOVE

Some people may look at life and death as a moment that is divinely inspired.  That we have no choice in when these transformative, game-changing moments will take place- whether it is our own life, or the life transition of another.  Things happen in our lives; people come and go with life and death much like the clouds in the sky yet with much greater impressions pressed upon our hearts.  When I read the weekly writing challenge prompt many things went through my head.  So many things have happened that could be considered “life changing.”  But in the end, I kept coming back to one moment that I have to say, changed everything for me.

When my mother was pregnant with me, she had recently suffered traumatic loss.  A year before she married my father, her own father passed away from a sudden heart attack.  Within the same year, only a month or so before her wedding, her mother who was also her best friend passed away from a debilitating illness that painfully drains away your spirit.   She was the silent witness of that sacred second when her mother took her last breath.  It was a final breath that would echo forever throughout her life.

One story that always has affected me was how my grandmother struggled to sew my mother’s bridesmaid dresses near the end of her life.  I try to imagine what that would be like.  To know that you are so close to death, to feel it deep down in places you didn’t even know existed, while tirelessly piecing together dresses for a wedding party- the wedding of your only daughter; and to know that you will most likely not be there for the celebration.  I imagine that piecing those dresses together would be an exercise in piecing together your own life in your heart, using it as an exercise of love and meditation.  I know these events had to have been powerful, game-changing experiences for my mother, and affected another turn of events that gifted my soul with a life trajectory.

Shortly after my parents’ wedding, my mother became pregnant with me.  At the time of my birth my father was away training for his new job as federal law enforcement in Georgia.  My mother was all alone, 9 months pregnant and staying at my grandparents’ house.  My grandfather was a man of few words, and did not come off as the warmest of souls.  My mother went into labor and was taken to the hospital by my grandfather knowing that she was in this all alone.  It was her opportunity to bring new life into this world after the loss of both of her parents.  It was her first time giving birth, not knowing what to expect in her heart.

After my delivery, she had an allergic reaction to the anesthesia.  My mother had a near death experience where she witnessed her soul leave her body.  She could see everything happening around her body from a distance- the nurse rush in, the resuscitation efforts.  I know for me, this was an event that changed my life forever.  In this moment, my mother had a choice- to leave her body behind and move on from this life, or to come back and live out her current life as my mother.  She chose to come back.  Because she did I have had a mother that has taught me many lessons that I could not have learned without her.

They were not all rosy moments, but they were not all tragic either.  I am who I am today because in that instant when she could have chosen to move on from this life, she did not.  My mother went on to tell me this story about her near death experience and here I am, writing it now and sharing it with many others. I share it with the intention that you too may think about how precious life is and how our ability to witness the suffering and joy of others is a profound gift offered to us as an experience of deep abiding love.   Our suffering is not isolated.  We have the opportunity to remember the importance of every instant we also share with others and how the simple act of sharing even a little story can change someone’s life, in an instant.