Tag Archives: peace

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.

LESSONS LEARNED FROM POP CULTURE- LOVE ACTUALLY

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.”  Prime Minister, Love Actually

Whenever I feel depressed or downtrodden myself in regards to life, I love to put on a film that will help me gain perspective and turn things around.  It’s like that moment in the movie Reality Bites when Wynona Ryder’s character feels herself sinking as the elevator is going down. She realizes that all the roads she is attempting to take for her employment are going nowhere and she is beginning to fail miserably in her quest to validate her hope in the world she had created in graduating from college.  “Love Actually” is one of those films that always helps me gain perspective, especially when I hear the opening quote by the Prime Minister.  Just watching the scenes from the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport I begin to tear up.

And now, whenever I’m actually at the airport I have the same experience!  I think the most catching part for me was when the quote goes into the planes hitting the Twin Towers.  The writer gives insight into the beauty of our human connection and our purpose as human beings- to express love and learn from it.

“When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love.”

When I heard that piece of the quote for the first time, it was like someone opening the curtains and letting the sunlight in my heart.  Whenever I hear the quote now- I have the same experience.  My experience never changes no matter how many times the television comes clean with the same statement about messages of love.  If you knew you were about to die and you had a chance to call someone- who would you contact to convey a message of love?  Who would you forgive as well as apologize to?  I know it may sound cliché, but life is short and we could very well die tomorrow.  The person you want to apologize to could die tomorrow as well.  There is a temporal aspect to our experience and we have to embrace every opportunity we have to clean up all the regrets and resentments we carry around in our hearts, our minds.

When I was training as a life coach, we were given a great assignment- to go through all that baggage and clean it up already.  Every person I had wanted to so desperately apologize to for something I thought I had done to them- I had the opportunity now to write it all down in a big list and purify it all with love.  Facebook became the greatest invention on earth for me!  I was able to contact so many people and just say, “I’m sorry.”  It was one of the most liberating experiences in my life.  I felt so light, free- so filled with gratefulness for the opportunity to just simply let it all go.  All of us have that opportunity and it is up to us to do the work, let go of our stubbornness and desire to point the finger in someone’s face.

We have a great opportunity and I recommend that everyone do it at least once in your life!  One of the most interesting insights I learned through the whole process was how much weight I had placed onto my experiences all by my lonesome self with shame and regret- when the other person did not even have a clue nor did they even think I had really hurt them.  We feel shameful and embarrassed for behaving certain ways in our ignorance or incorrect state of mind and don’t realize how much this baggage really affects us.  When you grab your past by the reigns and really plunge into the future with full-on releasement you free yourself from the grasping of the mind that perpetuates karma.  You give to yourself, as well as that other person, a great opportunity of freedom and joy.  And, it is beautiful.

If you feel scared in your attempt to nullify an uncomfortable situation, simply remember, “…love actually is all around.”

COMPASSION FOR OUR DARKEST MOMENTS

From Charter for Compassion, Article by Rita Hibbard, Relying on the Kindness of Strangers

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play
And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn

And I’ve been a fool and I’ve been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I’m always dragging that horse around
And our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it’s always darkest before the dawn

Florence and the Machine, “Shake It Out”

In my own journey, I have learned a great deal about compassion.  Not only for others, but compassion for myself and all my foibles in this life.  As most of you know, and at the risk of sounding utterly cliché at this moment, without our life’s foibles we would never grow- that is, if we have the wisdom to see our foibles as growing experiences rather than things “happening to us”.  If compassion does not begin within ourselves, then it is very difficult to have compassion for other people.  In fact, those that are very hard on others are most likely even harder on themselves.  Our outer is a reflection of our inner no matter how we deal the cards.

A long time ago at a retreat for my coaching work, my teacher Debbie Ford came on stage holding a baby doll.  She brought to everyone’s attention how cute and sweet this innocent little child was.  Then, she started yelling and criticizing the baby doll and hitting it against the chair.  Afterwards, she noted that this is how most of us treat our own selves emotionally every day through constant criticism and fear.  We usually treat others better than we treat our perceived self because no one can hear how verbally abusive we can truly be when we are talking to our selves.  Sadly, not all stick to just verbal abuse with themselves.  There are many in this world that physically abuse themselves as well.  I am confessing in this moment that I was once one of those people.

What most don’t realize is that there is an aspect within ourselves that really is genuinely receiving this criticism and begging for love.  It is usually the piece of us that made that very mistake when he or she was a little child, and shamed for making that very mistake.  In taking on WordPress’s “daily prompt”, I googled the word “kindness”.  In that “googling” I was presented with the above image as the 11th.  It was a graphic on the article “Relying on the Kindness of Strangers” by Rita Hibbard for the Charter for Compassion website.  I love this graphic!  It was perfect, and brought me to one of my favorite topics- compassion!  All of a sudden the song “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine came on my Pandora station- and the lyrics (listed above) met me at the fork in the road concerning this inspiring graphic and word.  In the song Florence states that it is “always darkest before the dawn” and I could not agree more.

How many of you have been dragging a dead horse around so to speak on your back and you just can’t let it go because it gives you an opportunity to continue to criticize yourself?  What does this opportunity afford you?  Many people believe that attachment has to do with those things we love in this life- but this is not true.  We are also attached to the opportunities that allow for our inner demons to control our life.  Face the inner demon.  It will only get better from there, I promise.  I say that as testimony to my own darkness and how facing it changed me forever.  It gave me new opportunities to love and embrace the joy that I rejected because I didn’t think I deserved it.  The only way I could face it was through compassion.  I was enabled to see that little girl in me suffering and give her the love she needed to move on and own her light.

To express our light takes great courage, and I invite you to express your light and have compassion for yourself.  Let those foibles go and you will be of greater service to this world through the expression of genuine compassion for others suffering.  I promise.

COLOR ME SKY ANEW

This recurrence of feeling appearing from somewhere
Walking around this labyrinth of moments- singing and laughing
Something is happening as a dancing wisp of light
Lifts me into the sky and I am somewhere, again
Everyone wishing for this light to seep into their denseness
To become something other than the heaviness of the mind
Opening up my arms to the possibility
Where is everyone?
A leaf twists in a dollop of warm air that drops from my mouth
I shall blow my dreams upon you little leaf
And you will carry them for eternity
Even when your color turns in the midst of a changing temperature
You will ride another wind into a soft tuft of grass where I shall lay my head
As you blend into the earth beside my worn face
You will give me compassion and I shall cry
As I water the earth with my heart and tears
We shall become new again.

When I wrote this poem, I was sitting outside on my patio one evening admiring the New Mexico sky and all its amplified color.  Living in New Mexico I am lucky to live as a guest and witness to some of the most extraordinary light.  This light illuminates the world around me in a way that is inspiring.  Witnessing nature and all it reveals to us is a gift and a place of contemplation in simply being.  I am grateful every day for all that nature reveals to us through the movement of the sun and moon each day, and through the changing seasons.  Here we are again, fall…..autumn.

Autumn gives us a cyclical opportunity to remember that at every moment change has occurred.  My body, emotions, and mental state- they are changed and different with every passing second.  There is no permanent “self”.  My body that once was born and small enough to be held by my parents is now 5’7” and again- forever changing.  Nature has taught me that no matter how permanent my ego tells me I am, it is not true.  And I can use this as a subtle opportunity to remember to love and not be so hard on the world around me and my own perceived self.  Every moment of compassion brings about more change and what once “was” between me and another person may be anew with understanding and gratefulness.

I am grateful even for this small opportunity to write and share with you how your beauty that has been reflected in this season we call autumn has changed me, once again.