Happiness. It's what almost everyone wants, but often seems so elusive. Our lives invite us to step into a space beyond the circumstances outside ourselves to find an opening into the happiness of our hearts that radiates out to all beings and instead of adding more logs to the fires of suffering, softly yet strongly commands a presence of peace. Consider the following to help you get there:
The Story of Sunshine
It all began with a sports event located in Love's Park, Illinois. It was where I talked with men about personal and societal evolution toward love, overheard young women singing the Harry Potter theme, and where the clouds cleared to make way for a dome of sun, encased in a wall of peace. From our house you drive just over an hour in the direction of Chicago to get to Love's Park. In order to enter the sports complex hosting the event, you have to turn onto Sun Singer way. The first day of the tournament our entire family lounged on the outer edges of turf, and my husband sheltered me from from the rough winds and go-through-your-jacket cold of the early part of the day. By mid afternoon the gaze of the sun was lit with a calm hot blessing, like a steady stream of kisses for all in attendance. I had wanted to go home immediately when we arrived, but stuck it out because DH was so happy to be there, watching our daughter, taking in the milieu. Boy was I glad I did! Watching our daughter circle up with both her teammates and the opposing team in one circle after each match was medicine for my mama heart. Later I learned that they spent the time giving "spirit awards" and sharing what they appreciated about playing each other. My daughter relayed the types of compliments competitors gave each other: "I really enjoyed playing you because your cuts are really good and they caused me to up my game." "You bring great energy to the field." "I liked playing you because you challenged me to really pay attention to my defense." "Your intensity was awesome." The play was collaborative, as well as competitive, and I felt I was watching the future model of humanity take the reins on the field.
The day after the tournament my daughter shared that she kept receiving the message from her intuition that it would be good for us to check out cats at the Humane society. Our family nurtures our children's innate intuition the best we can, and besides, both my daughter and I had been feeling inclined to get a cat for the past few weeks. My husband had the day off, so 4 out of 5 Kwons were able to attend the cat expedition. I knew my oldest would be happy with any loving pet we brought home. She is picky about certain things - but in this one area, I knew she'd likely be head over heels glad about any nice animal.
When we arrived at the Humane Society, the sun was clearly illuminating everything around us. Wild Turkeys meandered nearby. Once inside the building, I felt led to a certain pathway that led to a particular cat, who looked fearful, sad and vibrated an extremely pure love vibration. Her coat looked like liquid gold and white light had been turned into fur. Her name: Sunshine.
We decided to keep her adoption secret from the oldest to give her a good surprise. She'd had a doozy of a week with her academic workload and had been majorly stressing and feeling tired. Our middle child learned to keep a secret for the first time. And when brought Sunshine home the next day, she didn't even meow the whole entire car ride home. She saved that for the night time. But, just like a newborn, she delighted our hearts before she took away our sleep. It didn't take her too long to warm up to her surroundings. When our oldest came home, we told her to be quiet because we had a surprise for her and that we had brought someone home and they were under the bed. Her face went from downcast to pure delight just like a gentle, sure sunrise on the fabric of human skin, shining out from her eyes, smile and entire self.
Sunshine took a turn in everyone's lap who was home, and happily has taken to joining us for meals. She meows until we bring her plate over to circle up around us. Then she joyfully eats alongside us on the floor.
1. It felt like a relief. Although I checked messenger rather a lot the first day as I was awaiting replies on a couple of things, including a rather vulnerable sharing and coordinating a get together with a friend, by the second day, I no longer felt compelled to check, although I did once or twice out of habit. The knowing that I had given myself conscious and public permission to be on a facebook break meant instead feeling compelled to check notifications, I felt the happy joy forgoing it. I was surprised how GOOD it felt to not even wonder whether or not I *should* check. I didn't realize how much mental energy I had been losing. had a lot more focus in my work and my relationships were more fulfilling. I experienced more joy and felt more engaged with life. I created a lot more fabulous experiences.
2. I gave myself more time to fully savor my 3Dd interactions and I cherished the synchronicities even more than I usually do.
3. I had more time to process my emotions. I found myself having a bit of a mid life crisis, yet instead of avoiding it, I felt like I was able to embrace and be with what showed up. I started imagining my children leaving home and felt sad. I cried a little. I talked about it with them and it was very nurturing and healing. I also decided when they do leave home, I'll probably do more traveling so instead of feeling left behind, we all have stories we've lived and enjoy swapping when we get together.
By the end of the week I wasn't thinking much about the future at all. I was too busy being a kid at heart. I went to the playground and played like I've never played before TWICE with my youngest. We had a mock olympics that included a log hopping competition. We tied for the gold medal.
4. I realized just how much time I give away to trying make my voice heard to people who are probably already set in their ways. I kept looking at a piece of art I gave my husband that depicts an owl on a branch and says, "Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." I concurrently found myself thinking about Buckminster Fuller's quote about creating a compelling alternate reality that is so attractive it makes the old one obsolete. Today I started thinking seriously about re-entry and whether or not I truly want to re-enter. If I am completely honest, I think the answer is a little yes and a lot no. Which leaves me thinking a highly reduced time on that interface might be good. But as a recovering addict, can I have just one glass of facebook? I've tried before and failed. Will this time be different? Can I really go in and get out and get off? Or is that naive, like Charles Wallace thinking he can go into the "IT" and come out again? Speaking of which, we saw A Wrinkle In Time. I loved the casting of the Murry family and Calvin; I had a really hard time coping with the casting the Mrs Ws. was unbearable. I missed Mrs. Beast, and the plot at the end gets screwed up and misses some important things. But even with all that, I still love the story. And the prologue in the beginning is rather stunning. The makeup of the Mrs Ws is absolutely hideous. But to leave you on a high note, the special effects that turn Reese witherspoon into a vegetable woman resembling a hybrid between Swiss Chard and a brussel sprout head are exquisite, and it's fun to watch the flowers catch Calvin from his NDE falling off one of her leaves. And more significantly, I loved the way it was Meg's embrace of her own weaknesses that allowed her to be loved - and to love - unconditionally.
Often we get triggered by who other people act, by what they perceive, believe and choose. Humans, put simply, can be infuriating. Frustrating. Exhausting. Weak. Ignorant. And stupid. But they can also be compassionate, brilliant, insightful, wise, resilient, amazing, light-shining, heart-lit, kind and intelligent, soul-beautiful, joy-bringing, song-singing, illuminating and abundant in goodness, generosity and laughter like a bubbling fountain or an Island Waterfall. Even the ones who are in the former category - those one who really try our patience - usually have SOME good in them. And we can usually locate something in their personal history - or imagine. it - that helps us be more compassionate toward where they have gotten glazed over with ignorance, violence, harmful perceptive filters or bitterness that closes them off from their innate goodness. Even when that fails, we can always consider those who are good at being bad a great opportunity to wake up and more fully dedicate ourselves to life-honoring practices in our own spirits and to taking action in the world to nurture compassion, joy, love, kindness, generosity, policy and environmental interconnectivity in ways that nurture the good in our lives. Altruism heals; resentment kills. Giving with a joyful heart gives the giver life! In some cases we are viewing some who triggers us because of the politics they hold or the way they treat others or other groups of people and we don't like it. Sometimes it's someone closer to home or in our home. In both situations we need to discern between people with a conscience and those operating apart from a conscience. We need not waste any breath on those operating without any conscience. Yet many with a sensitive conscience can actually act like narcissists or behave without a lot of compassion because to be in touch with their conscience is so overwhelming and guilt inducing that they shut it down. These people often can come out of their shell beautifully when we make it safe for them to do so by being very gentle, focusing on the good in them and the good they do, as well as avoiding criticism. We can process our own emotions in other ways or with other people until that person is strong enough in the own self-esteem to hear our tender or difficult emotions without feeling destroyed by them due to their own very sensitive nature and paralyzing reactions to the experience of guilt, shame or over-responsibility, which has nothing to do with us. With many people, we have options for what we focus on. I once stopped at a traffic light and noticed a brilliant rainbow in the distance. I was so absorbed in it I sat grinning at the traffic light until it went green. I looked at a picture I took later and noticed that all around was pavement, strip malls, more concrete and drab gray skies. In the picture the rainbow isn't even that big. But my focus was on it, so all I experienced was wonder and joy. This is what it means to choose a positive frame.
Let's define "positive."
1. It is compassionate
2. It focuses on elements that engender optimistic, loving feelings while maintaining discernment
3. It is helpful
1. - A compassionate way of seeing a person, a group of people or a situation - whether professional, political or global empowers you to feel connected to almost all people, even those who are very different. A compassionate frame increases your health and longevity.
2. It focuses on elements that engender optimistic, loving feelings while maintaining discernment, which means you are rooted in your own integrity and you no longer bite when you are baited. You see attempts to manipulate you using your own kindness or love-centric values and you wish those people well and focus your energy only where it is aligned. You forgive those the who crucify that which is pure because of their ignorance, but you also don't give them your time, energy or money. You can be innocent as a dove and as shrewd as a serpent. You can call a spade a spade and use the head and heart Creator gave you to know when to lay down your life for your friends and when to brush the dust off and move along to invest your life energy where it is likely to impactful and where the seeds you plant have the best chance to find fertile soil. You see through schemes to use your own values to co-opted you into an agenda that looks like a fancy cafe au lait on the outside and is a cup filled with camel spit when you look closer at the foam. So you recognize that people who are misguided are not evil and you wish them well. When you think of them, you remember them kindly - think of at least something good about them. Yet you withdraw your energy from anyone or anything toxic or non-aligned to your True Life. You dismiss attempts to rope you into another's narrative when that narrative limits, disempowers, guilt-trips or manipulates you in any way. You put your energy where it feels potent, joyous and GOOD! You pray for those who persecute you and you bless all without exception and you excuse yourself from any role someone else designed for you that do not fit your soul.
3. A frame is helpful when it both helps you feel good and it guides you to aligned and useful action that produces healthy results that affirm your quality of life now and empower the values you hope people will remember you for when you're gone. A frame is helpful when you feel like you can be the person you want to be and you are immune to being manipulated by those who would use your own goodness as a weapon against you. A frame is helpful when it lets you be kind without pidgeon holing you into doing something others think you should do, and when it allows you to discern your own path without condemning you non-conformity to someone else's idea of who you should be or what "goodness" needs to look like in your life. Your own "goodness" compass is operating and allowing you access the love that you are in ways that let you translate that love into divine action in the world with a clean, brilliant and empowered conscience.
Personally all for waiting periods on gun purchases. And not having lay people running around public places with automatic or semi-automatic weapons. I also believe people have the right to form a militia that could actually stand up to their government. Now let me return to the liberal side of the line you have imagined in your mind as you try to figure out which side I'm on. But first let me mention I believe in circles, not lines, in upward spirals and concentric circles, nested systems and butterfly effects. And I believe police could do their job with tazers goo guns that instantly wrap those up to no good in a spider-web like substance that incapacitates them without harming them. I believe in organic, co2-sequestering farms instead of prisons for nearly all offenders. I have this idea for an organic farm that uses the type of holistic practices for getting more CO2 safely embedded in the soil that could actually address global warming better than cutting emissions (which I am all for because ew, pollution,) and far more effectively eliminating cattle (because we can do this faster if we don't ask people to give up hamburgers yet,) and this farm would be operated by people paid a living wage and would focus on hiring those either undergoing or coming out of incarceration. There would be a farm-to-table cafe operated by people with various special needs and barriers to employment and on site housing where people could get their healthcare and meeting regularly with friends, peer support and professional mentors. If someone was late for work, it would be easy to knock on their door. If something wasn't "right" with them, people close to them would know and get them help without delay. There would also be fields that would grow local sustainable fibers and a textile creation center also staffed by those who may not fit in the box. Additionally there would be a fashion boutique where designers and makers of clothing could use these local fibers to clothe people in chemical-free, locally grown attire that would be cute and filled with love. Oh, and there would be a Farmacy with evidence and indigenous-based herbal remedies and holistic health practitioners including doctors, acupuncturists, EFT practitioners and nutritional therapists. You could get chelation, detox in a natural dry sauna or take any number of movement and yoga classes, sign up for a poetry workshop, a coaching group or a potluck cohort. Because we know from the Roseto study that connection is the ultimate source of heart health, and the data showing that a sense of belonging is essential mental and emotional health, as well as immune function is without a doubt, formidable.
I am probably best described as a socialist libertarian. I think we could pretty easily create a world where not everyone has to work and the focus could be on joyful living and contribution-based sharing economies. Ubuntu Contributionism is the name for the ideal version of this reality. In the mean time, I think everyone deserves to have a roof over their head, clean drinking water, wholesome food, and the kind of healthcare designed to produce health rather than manage disease without addressing root causes. Of course sick people deserve the care they need. That goes without saying. Except that I guess it doesn't since not everyone agrees. I'm just saying, a world where studies focus on what produces health rather that what makes certain companies profit is the best way to go. And the model for care delivery needs to account for human beings in context since we don't live our lives in a goddamn petri dish. I believe everyone has a right to quality education - not public brainwashing using textbooks published to create docile citizens who get used to being spoon fed "messages," rather than empowered ones who are curious, compassionate, connected and capable of simultaneous collaboration and critical thinking! Wow! So that's the kind of socialism I'm 100% ALL FOR.
On the libertarian side, I think the only "things" that need strict regulation are the corporations and those who could potentially stand to profit by exploiting the vulnerble - in my book, all businesses ought to be accountable to society and not just shareholders. I love the idea of a triple bottom line company or a B Corp. But it doesn't go far enough. The idea of a social business is a better model. Does the company produce a product or service that blesses all life in the way it is made, the way it is distributed and the impact it has on those who consume it? Only corporations that make their $ on doing good for people and planet ought to legally be allowed to operate in my book. But of course until human consciousness agrees uniformly with me, even if legally that were made so, those with nefarious agendas would no doubt find black markets or create them in which to exploit those with a gripe, a fear or a lust for power. Which brings me back to the issue of gun control. Let's say reasonable regulations are applied. Someone who hates the world enough to pre-plan a mass shooting will find a way around reasonable parameters. You'd have to go far into the land of burning the constitution to make it hard for them to get a shooting gun and even then, they might figure out something else. Reasonable gun control might prevent some mass killings but probably not all. Viruses evolve. If we don't address the immune system of society, at best we'll have bandaid. Which could be good if it saves student and teacher lives. And could be bad if it hides internal bleeding and makes us think we're okay when we're not. A docile, disarmed society that has not also become a critically thinking, empowered one that is educated and has a functional democracy where the will of the (critically thinking and compassionately acting) population is represented in the decisions of elected officials is a recipe for a disaster. Evidence says this is not even close to what we have now. All the futzing with elections, the corruption within both mainline parties and the allegations of collusions in nearly every regulatory agency lead me to believe that having the government take away gun rights could indeed result in a police state. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like. I don't really care. What I care about is getting good people from all walks of life and political persuasion together around solutions that work. This can include bipartisan political moves as well as grass roots stuff. I think the grassroots efforts are the key. Where neighbors meet and people from different walks of life realize that while we all want to be safe and happy, we also want to be free and healthy. We can be all these things if we drop our ideological commitments ask about our real goals and start brainstorming outside the conventional menu options served up by those who need for us to stay divided in order for them to control and dominate.
I've looked into 3 areas where I think liberals and conservatives could work together apart from who wins on the issue of how much gun control is the right amount:
There are three main areas: 1) people taking anti-depressants need close monitoring for side effects that can include out of control behavior, homicidal ideation and aggressiveness/hostility. 2) We need to work systemically to address those at risk for alienation/isolation/loneliness/trauma/misogyny/racism/patriarchy that could lead to feeling disenfranchised enough to hate the world and feel entitled to kill. We need to nurture the hearts of young men and give them ways to foster honor and self-worth through service 3) we need to ensure all public water supply is free of lead, which Harvard research links to murder. People write me off on this since it's not in gas anymore but our town/city found unacceptably high lead levels in the school drinking water of several of its "challenged" school districts last year. Looking at the role of over vaccination and the impacts of aluminum adjuvants would also be good to explore. I'm all for reasonable gun control, but these would address root causes with long term positive results.
The day started out ordinary enough. The thought of coffee. Who hasn’t had that thought? On my way out the door I checked to make sure I had my phone, which has a nice leather case also doubles as a convenient wallet and radiation guard, along with my keys and a book that jumped out at me as the perfect one to bring. Then I noticed my red leather wallet, poking a tiny corner of herself out of my small fair trade red bag from Serrv. I had the strong feeling I ought to take the red wallet, though for absolutely no rational reason I could imagine. I never use the cards that are in it and it’s bulky and has a few old receipts and not much else besides several quarters that would be good for parking, but the coffee shop I intended to go to has a free lot. Still, I grabbed it just in case there was a reason I hadn’t though of and headed out the door.
EVP is the coffee shop nearest where I live. Often my sweet husband will bring me coffee from there before he goes to work, or if it’s a day he’s off, sometimes he’ll do it just because he likes to do little practical things that make me happy. He also keeps me well supplied with chocolate when I’m going through a chocolate phase and makes sure to get filtered water in our big 5 gallon container if it’s low before going on a long shift, since he knows my back doesn’t like lifting those things. Some days he offers and I tell him I feel like going out to get my own coffee, and from time to time we go together, sometimes each working on our laptops, or having a lovely conversation, often about dynamics at play in healthcare. I had an interest in public health long before I met him, so the topic doesn’t more me. I just approach it from a different perspective. At home the kids call me “doctor.” And in fact many things that are becoming main stream now I’ve known about for years. Indigenous cultures have often known about things research is now confirming for thousands of years. Science is cool, but it is late. It also is often biased. And later research often demonstrates that what we used to know for sure is actually off base and backward. Like remember when people thought margarine was better than butter? Or that saturated fat was the main culprit in heart disease? Just wrong wrong wrong. So take science with a grain of salt, along with anything - especially one people in authority try to hand it’s conclusions down as absolutes.
When I arrived at EVP today, I was there alone. Well, not alone, on my own. Other people were, naturally in the coffee shop. When I stepped up to the counter to order, I did something I am in the habit of doing with some regularity, though at no particular set interval: I paid for a random person’s coffee and asked the baristas to choose a lucky recipient. I handed the woman taking my order a 10. I waited for her to give me change, but when it wasn’t forth coming, I realized she must have misunderstood and overestimated my generosity. “Um, may I please have my change back?” I asked sort of sheepishly. “Oh yeah, of course! I thought you meant to give the whole thing. They have this thing in NYC where people sometimes buy a bunch of coffees to put on aside that get registered and homeless people can come and ask if they have “on reserve.” “Oh wow,” I said. “That’s really cool.” I went on explain to her how it isn’t that I mind giving away my whole ten, but I would rather empower other people to also get in on the joy of giving. Research shows that when people given a set amount of money and a choice to spend it on themselves or others, those who spend it on others are happier. And whileI think there are certainly many people who could use some practice receiving with joy, as well as giving generously, I have this to be generally true. Getting something for myself is nice once in a while, but bringing joy another human being is priceless, intangible and one of the most wonderful experiences I think a person can have - it is the ultimate win/win because happiness flows out as well as in - in all directions at once. I told the barista how I’ve often tried to give money to other people to start their own random acts of kindness such as paying for someone else’s coffee, and I often get turned down on that. In fact most people say “no” to the invitation to participating actively in the pro-giving cycle even when they don’t have to front the money, and I’ve been curious about why. I asked the female barista what if she had any reflections that would help me understand. “I think sometimes people are suspicious of motive. That resonated. Even when I pay for people’s coffee, if I do it directly, rather than totally anonymously, I sometimes have to explain that my only motive is a kinder world. She said, “And then sometimes someone starts a pay-it-forward chain and someone says, “I’ll keep it going and get the person behind me and a then that person orders fifty bucks worth of food and the person who pays feels taken advantage of.” I realized that indeed, much mistrust runs among humans, and it is true, people have the capacity to feed their good wolf or their bad wolf at least once ever hour in a way that matters obviously, and each moment if you realize every thought nurtured or dismissed creates the frames you see through when those more significant choice points come into view. Every five minutes is a lifetime that shapes your character, which shapes your destiny. And you get a lot of chances to screw it up and get it right if you take it five minutes at a time. “If I give you two bucks, will you do it?” I asked her. “Yeah, I’ll do it,” she said. And I gave her two of my remaining each dollars. Next I looked at Nathan, the male barista who was standing just a bit back, making someone’s espresso or something. “Naaaa,” he said. I’m too shy to go up to people. Plus I’m moving this week. Maybe next week. Nick is a super kind person with a heart of gold, so I know he wasn’t opting out for any other reason than just being intimidating to go up and talk to strangers. So I now had three good reasons why people might not be keen to join in the type of random acts of kindness that involve a stranger: 1) suspicion of motives 2) fear of being taken advantage of 3) unwilling or unable to overcome shyness about going up to strangers.
Just then an older gentlemen approached the counter. I asked him if I could buy his coffee. His slightly indignant and praise-worthy response was “Why would you buy me coffee? My wife buys me coffee!” Lol. I think he thought I was hitting on him. God bless him. We need more men with that kind protective loyalty to their wives, partners and families. I tried to explain to him that my only motive was to spread kindness. He said, “Well you could buy my wife coffee.” I said, “I would love to buy your wife coffee. Where is she?” He gestured to a circular table laden with newspapers. A lovely older lady in a knitted sweater that looked like it couldn’t decide whether to be purple or pink was seated there. I walked over to her and said gently, “Can I buy you coffee?” Much like her husband she said, “Now why would you do that?” I gently replied, “My only reason is because I want to live in a world where people care about each other and are kind.” Suddenly her eyes lit up, her face softened into a wide smile and she said, “Well when you put it that way, I want that too! Yes, you can buy me coffee!” And so I did. And I had a dollar left over, which I tried to give her as well but she said that was too confusing. So I did. She even let me buy her a muffin. And then I asked if I could give her a hug. She gave me a good one. She was surprised, but delighted. I watched her literally melt. And then we went our separate ways, both the better. I had a dollar left of the original ten. I dropped it on the table in front of a young professional looking fellow with headphones in. “I’m doing random kindness today, here’s a buck.” He met my eyes, smiled, said “Thanks” and went back to his flow charts or whatever. It was all good. I went and sat down at my table and opened my copy of Revolution Where you Live, by the co-founder of Yes Magazine. A few moments later, another woman of a certain age approached my table. She looked familiar - a kind face clearly belonging to some who cares about social justice. Anyway, those are the thoughts that ran through my head.
“Ooooh, is that a new one” she asked, looking interestedly at the cover of Revolution Where You Live. “Yes,” I said, “It’s by the author of Yes Magazine. “I read YES” said the woman with white and gray wavy hair circling her good-natured face. “That look GOOD,” she said. I offered her the book, but she couldn’t bring herself to take it from me since I hadn’t finished yet. So I told I were I was pretty sure our local bookstore had a copy. After all, I’d ordered one and then had the strange intuition not to actually get it, leaving them with an extra copy. I did, however pick up a lovely doctor who book for my husband, which he is enjoying very much.
Starting with a connection over a book, the woman and I had a long conversation that spanned the galaxy from a local council member we’ve both outed as a blatant white supremacist to the beauty of kindergartners meditating to the Ho’oponopono and how to Dr. Hew Len cured nearly an entire mental hospital full of criminally insane people - and transformed a staff with a turnover rate to rival McDonalds into a family just by saying, “I love, thank you, I’m sorry, please forgive me” to his own inner reactions to reading about the vulgarities of their crimes and personality traits. “What if it really is that simple?” She said. Before launching into the area of global transformation where belief and science intermingle like lovers and frequency and spiritual thoughts collide with quantum physics to generate new possibilities, I asked her how comfortable she was with spirituality. She chuckled and informed me that she is a pastor. “That’s great!” I said. Only the day before I’d met the baptist pastor of Mt Zion church at a homeless outreach that invited him to speak in honor of Black History Month. “What kind of church do you pastor?” I asked. “Are you familiar with the UU church?” She asked. “Yes, I’m very familiar with Unitarian Universalism.” I responded. She told me about some the social justice committees she is on, and how excited she is about how children are being taught meditation in schools through the Kindness Curriculum of Richie Davis. I shared with her how much of the work I do is on the level of frequency rather than practical, on the ground work. “Frequency?” She asked. I made an effort to explain. “The idea of a holographic universe. Everything is waving. We all exist in nested systems.” “The word I’m familiar is interconnectedness,” she said. “Yes, I said. That’s right. And it’s a little vague.” “Yes,” she said very openly, “It is a good word but it is vague.” I went on, “You know how science has shown a single cell communicates instantaneously with the entire bod? If we each focus on cleaning an individual cell in the body of all that is, then we transmit that health to the whole, we can instantaneously communicate that information to body of the universe - to humanity. Like the 100th monkey effect.” It’s a similar idea to the Ho’oponopono we’d discussed earlier. Each person who is guided to works on their own internal landscape - changes their programming and brings health, vitality and a constructive worldview that inspires the best in self and others, and if a critical mass of people do that, it goes viral - instantaneously. Boom! You get human evolution toward a loving, happy, beautiful, socially advanced culture. It doesn’t matter how bad things look. You flip a switch and the screen changes. A new station, a new film, a new world, a new earth that is filled with kindness, love, peace, joy and abundance. The actions of the “new humans” easily fix any issues as the solutions to life’s concerns come naturally and are obvious. “I’m Alicia,” by the way, I said introducing myself finally after we’d been talking for some time. “I’m Sandy,” she reciprocated. She went on to tell me how she was looking for ways to reconnect with social justice and being more actively engaged in the world after having stepped fully back from the news, due to the bombardment of constant negativity. I said, “The book is hopeful and humble.” “That’s just what we need,” she replied, nodding and looking deep in thought. “Yes,” I agreed. She observed how wonderful it is that children are learning meditation in schools and that there are people in our community doing excellent social justice work that truly aims to solve challenges. “As Unitarians, we try to work on things in as non-partisan way as possible, but it’s the real world, so we do have lobbyists.” I had mixed feelings about that. In general I think all lobbyists ought to be outlawed, but if you have people lobbying for things seen as bad, I understand the investment in having people lobbying for those things which are at least thought to be good. also briefly discussed a certain local politician who masks as one thing and turns out to be another. We’d both outed her as a white supremacist in Bernie clothing in the course of dialoguing.
One of the things that makes me happy is the amount of people who beginning to question narratives fed to them and look at things more closely. Although I am a huge believer in unconditional love, I’m willing to ask tough questions - of myself and others. I love people who are share both of these commitments.
It was after our conversation had wrapped up and Sandy was sitting at the counter by the window noshing on her danish before heading to work that it occcurred to me to check my red wallet, for what had no inkling at all. I just knew I was about to leave and hadn’t yet fathomed why it seemed so important to bring it in the first place. Was it just a random feeling without a cause or purpose? I fished a finger into the wallet and immediately drew out a single piece of folded paper from a slew of faded, grubby receipts. It was a handout about a different local politician that had been given to me at the Farmer’s Market last summer. I had mean to spread the word about this woman, but had lost sight of the paper. I handed it to Sandy on my way out the door, and the older woman for whom I’d bought coffee thanked me again. I couldn’t help noticing the pretty pink heart on her hat and complimented her on it. She beamed. I love seeing people come to life.
My life is simple. I homeschool two of my kids. I am raising a teenager who goes to public school. I am married. I have a bunch of different things I'm qualified to do, and I do them for free or for money occasionally, but the main things I'm working on right now are my family, and the books I'm writing. I don't go to a lot of events, but I frequently go to the grocery store and the coffee shop.
Yesterday I went to the grocery store to pick up some supplies including lasagna noodles and sauce. I'm making it tonight for my husband, whose birthday we are celebrating. He's 44. As I entered the foyer area of the grocery store where they have some on-sale clothing items displayed along with a cooler full of guacamole and other refrigeratables and a display of organic blueberries beside red strawberries grown the way people say is conventional that I hope, by the time my children grow up will be rare-enough to considered to be labeled "grown with harmful pesticides" and to be hardly bought by any forward thinking adult or anyone with concern for their children, I had cause to pause. An inner cause. So I stood there staring at boxes of stuffing I knew I wasn't going to buy, allowing numerous people to go ahead of me. A few minutes later a radiant woman with crystal sky eyes entered and smiled. "What a lamb!" she said. She looked to be in her early sixties and she shone with a purity and kindness that pierced while being very sweet. "That is a lamb hat, right?" I was wearing my yoda hat, which has been mistaken for Shrek on previous occasions, but never for a lamb. I immediately observed that the woman's essence seemed very much like a pure lamb. "No that's you!" I said. I told her my hat was Yoda and we stood there blocking the doorway smiling into each others eyes. "Can I hug you," I asked. "Well yes," she said. And we hugged, a real genuine hug. The woman version of a bro hug. The kind you'd give to a close friend you hadn't seen a long time. "Thank you for you for your sweetness" she said. I thanked her for hers and the proceeded to enter the main shopping area. For me, shopping is like going to the playground, not because I am a shopoholic but because of the opportunities the environment affords to interact with people and spread joy. For example, their was the employee whom I asked, "How are you?" He said "Pretty good. Wish I was out there enjoying the snow, though." I told him they should really make the entire store floor tiltable, then cover it with snow and ice, for sledding and skating throughout the aisles. He love that idea. Then there were was the East Asian family wearing tall fur hats like the one my local cross guard wears. I made direct eye contact with and grinned widely, until they smiled back, tentatively at first, then boldly, like once they realized it was okay, that I truly had no agenda other than sincere and joyful human connection, they realized it felt really, really good to smile. I loaded up my cart with the items I needed, and then made my way toward the front of the store to pay for my loot and get home to my family. I felt the nudge to get in Aisle two.
"How are you?" I asked the woman ringing up the items for purchase. She replied, "I can't complain." I am a huge fan of personal sovereignty and taking responsibility for our choices. Also, I am a fan of helping people realize how awesome they are. So I said, "Well I COULD..." She chuckled. "Well I could but I'm not going to." I smiled. She asked, "How are you?" I am fascinated by this question. "How are you?" I used to bemoan that most people don't really want a genuine answer. And then I started attracting people who could actually brook authenticity, but I also realized A) answers in public need to be short B) I want to give an answer that is life-affirming and that creates new realities, rather than reinforcing any old ones that may need a bit of compassion, but certainly don't need to be fueled with added logs to the fire. I don't like to keep my challenges, so I only talk about them if doing so actually helps them to become blessings for me or someone else. "The answer to that question is complex, but I'm going with good" I said loudly and proudly. Okay, I know I said my life is simple, but simplicity and complexity are not strangers, you know. Take a snowflake for example, or a crystal. I always have some aspect of me that is good. I am good when I embrace my challenges as opportunities. I am good when life shows up magically for me. I am good when I realize my soul chose the experiences I am having - even the difficult ones - because it is refining my character. I am good when I can use pain I've been through to empathize with others. I'm good when I notice the beauty in the world, and in people - in how easily people come out of their shell and shine with a simple genuine compliment and sincere smile from one soul to another. I'm going with good when I use the tough stuff to enter a deeper level of self-mastery. I'm good when I'm driven to surrender - or to discover an insight that might help others.
In front of me a man glanced over as his groceries were being loaded into a paper bag and complimented my at. "It is Yoda, right?" I told my kids about the excursion later and they were like, "You should have said, no it's supposed to be a lamb." "Yes, I said, grinning. I use Yoda to bring awareness to awareness of the divine feminine to the divine masculine. I don't preplan it - just pops out. "As cute as those blue spirit ears are, sooner or later Yoda's going to have to reincarnate - as a woman. Because God knows we need him on the ground." In retrospect, I'm not sure which pronoun would have been best there. I have always felt we need a better neutral gender pronoun. They, them and their" just don't do it for me. Of course I'd use them for someone who wanted those pronouns, its just I think we can do better. Pronouns aside, the man's eyes twinkled as he nodded and said, "I couldn't agree more." I then turned to the woman and said, "I guess I should swipe my card and pay for those groceries." She kind of nodded and shrugged. Then I remembered a funny interaction I'd had with one of my children. All three kids and I were hanging out and I said, "Well, I should probably start writing." And one of them said, "It's good to should yourself, Mommy." I shared this little anecdote at the register and the man said, "Don't you just love when your kids hold you to what you teach them?" "Yes, I said, I consider that I've raised them well when they do." I finished paying for my groceries and was just about to head toward my car, when I noticed the avocados again in the foyer and saw that they were on sale. I felt the call of the avacodo. I felt around for two that were ripe, so I wouldn't have to wait, and then wait too long and waste them as I often do in my dance with the process of avocado ripening. I decided to go back in and get them, and to boot, I saw a little package of cherry tomatoes, thought of my daughter, who adores them and snagged them. This checkout was pleasant but uneventful. The action didn't really start until I stepped from the curb into the parking lot, now blanketed with snow so you could still see a little of the pavement, like an oreo cake covered in sugar. As my boot made contact with the snow I slipped the tiniest bit, the plastic latch on the tomato container popped open, and while I regained my balance, a waterfall of little baby-sized balls leapt from the plastic cube in which they'd been previously safely nestled and rolled out onto the snow-covered pavement like pool balls that have been struck. Only one got squished enough to squirt seeds. Another was badly bruised. But most were just sitting there on the ground, waiting for me to decide what course of action to take. I mused, "I though go inside and ask for a new box." But I got an intuitive no. "I could just take the loss, you know, swallow the mulligan and go home with the remaining baby reds." I got an intuitive no on that too. I just hate it when I'm trying to follow the best and highest path and I'm getting "nos" on all seemingly available options. So I stood there looking stupid and feeling bewildered until a woman existed the store with her own bags in hand and looked at me with concern. "Oh that's too bad," she said with genuine feeling. "Yeah, I said," I just feel so bad to waste them.
"Oh well you could pick them up and just wash them." Such an obvious, beautiful solution, I just hadn't seen it. "You're right!" I said. She put down her bags. "Here, I'll come over and help you." And there while the gentle snowflakes covered the pavement and softly landed on my spilled tomatoes, a kind woman changed the course of my day. It took almost no time, but the connection was living and beautiful. I thanked her deeply and we both went away smiling ear to ear.
On a whim I took the kids to a Collective on Monroe. They love the baked oatmeal and the gluten free sandwiches, plus we were really low on groceries and hubby was working. We hadn’t been in a while and it just felt like the right thing to do. Super in the flow. It was unexpectedly crowded for a Saturday at 5:30pm; the sunny, spacious room with the high vaulted glass ceilings and walls made out of chic glass garage doors that all open air to flow in warmer weather was completely full; there was only one unoccupied seat: one of the big cushion chairs by the gas fire place, and no tables at all. I joked we could all squish on the pale upholstered chair, but in reality I knew it wasn’t going to work. So we headed to the backroom, which has darker lighting and an overall less social feel. It's populated with wooden rectangular tables crammed together like desks in a class room for college students and workhololics, executive coffee meetings and freelance writers who carve their wordy craft along side a latte, a dark roast or maybe a pour over light roast from Peru. With it being a Saturday, more of the congregants seemed to be gathered socially, although the joy factor appeared muted, as though everyone ran low on vitamin day, with an overdose on the news. Various congregations of people and individual humans to match the tables; some talked, some gazed at screens. Most held to-go cups, even while drinking in. In spite of or all the serious, strained faces, my barista was sweet and super nice and he laughed wonderfully when he told me he’d have to charge me an extra dollar for gluten-free and I gave him a hammed up shocked look, just before asking for love, joy and world peace, as I typically do with my orders unless I get the order to shut up from within. Sometimes I think baristas are the over-educated angels of the world.
The kids and I saw one table, with a bleacher-like bench that ran against the wall on one side and a single chair on the open side of the table. The bleacher-bench had abundant room, so all three kids sat there and I sat on the chair across from them. It was awfully cute to see all three like that, but I eventually commandeered a chair from another table after being assured it was unneeded at its original station. My oldest daughter and I had a protracted thumb war that was as yet undecided when the food came, and we never actually finished it, but decided to consider it a shared win. I drank a decaf while the kids noshed on the food, and I ate a few bites. Some days I eat like a 400 pound man and other days I just nibble. I try to listen to my body. While we ate and goofed off, I scanned the place, as I often do, just taking note of the vibe and the people. Our nearest neighbor was a man with headphones in doing some work on a laptop. He seemed immersed in whatever he was up to and took no notice of us that I could discern. He seemed unphased by our relatively robust goofiness. Of course it was all chill and peaceful, but just not the quietest.
The gluten free sandwiches at Collective are accompanied by chips. Usually I have my kids forego the potato chips because are just really unhealthy and one of the junk foods I think should be saved for extremely rare occasions. Like slightly less rare than the ones on which you’d drink gasoline. It’s not the fat or the salt - it’s something about what happens in how they are cooked that makes them nasty for you. At least I read that somewhere and I stuck. I should look it up again. I feel that even the firmest rules must be flexible if they are not to be broken in damaging ways though, and I try to listen for Spirit above even my own rules. It usually works out. I said, “You guys can go ahead and have the chips today, by the way. Just listen to your bodies and your intuitions, but otherwise, knock yourselves out.” My oldest daughter was visibly elated. “Really?” “Totally,” came my affirmative. It was like a pop in my mind to let them have them. That’s how it felt.
A moment later a loud pop blasted everyone’s ears. It sounded like a gunshot, but it was the sound of my daughter opening the bag of chips. But really it sounded like a gunshot. I just knew it was the chips since I heard the sound and saw my daughter’s facial expression at virtually the same moment. Our neighbor with the glossy white earphones and the laptop did not see her expression, or the abundant pile of chips that had exploded into her lap benignly and jumped from his seat. He looked up and went from startled panic to a jovial grin in a few seconds. “Oh, wow,” he said, looking at me, “I thought it was a gunshot but it’s a unicorn. I’m so relieved.” My daughter immediately said, “I’m so sorry,” as she appraised her lap where the explosion of fried potato slivers had landed, more like oily yellow coins than bullets. ‘Oh that’s okay,” said the man, “I have three kids of my own. And better potato chips than gunshots. You know, these days with the things you hear about…” “Yes, I said, “I am so sorry we scared you and definitely yes, potato chips and unicorns over gunshots. We need more peace and fun and laughter and fewer gunshots, for sure.” He nodded, with a thoughtful, wistful look in his eyes, far off, even. He said, “I’m actually a lawyer.” Now when someone tells me they are a lawyer I often mini-lecture them on how I hope they will be one of the good ones and to stand for integrity. But not with this guy. I could already tell his heart was extremely in the right place. “Thank you for bringing peace to your profession,” I said. I watched him receive that. It was a joy. He continued, “Well, I did work for the old president…not this president though. I don’t know what your politics are, but I assume you don’t approve…” I smiled, “I’m purple.” “My favorite color is purple,” said the man. I didn’t respond directly to his feeler about my opinion on Trump. I love Trump as I seek to love every other person alive the best I can and I think narcissists need to have less attention. It feeds them. Anyone who knows me for five seconds knows I stand for people being respectful, kind and loving - and badass when necessary. I don’t impose my path on anyone else. So instead of talking about about Trump, I told him about my daughter’s friends: How they are diverse in every way (she has friends of many different ethnic/racial/cultural/religious/sexual identities and they are all amazing people, with the normal range of flaws you'd expect from human beings figuring out life just after puberty in a cray-cray world.) I told him how they have petty issues like all teens, but work through them beautifully. I told him I think we just need to wrap our arms around the world with as much love as possible until we can hand the baton over to the next generation. I shared my view on considering myself politically purple: "We need more synergy of opposites, ya know? We need ideas no one has even thought of up until now...options that aren't on the table yet." He nodded. I asked about his kids. It turns out he was taking either a kid or a stepkid to a Batmitzva in Madison, and just hanging out at the coffee shop til it's over. They're from Milwalkee. He has three kids, mostly older teens. By this time we'd finished our baked oatmeal and our gluten-free sandwiches. My oldest quietly opened the second bag...so intentionally it was actually silent. And I was so proud she didn't even eat the chips. As we got up to head out, the man asked the inevitable: “So why do you wear the unicorn horn? Are you celebrating something?” I answered, “I wear it when I feel like it for love, joy and world peace.”
I love when you just do things you know are right without thinking. That's how it was with the ginger tea. Small decisions are often complicated for me, exactly because I am acutely aware of the butterfly effect and how the tiniest shift of action can hange the course of just about anything. If I'm up in my head too much, I lose faith and put pressure on myself.
When I'm in the flow, I just get to watch myself do things, while experiencing them, and they turn out so brilliantly when its inspired rather than overthought. I don't being undisciplined or irresponsible. I mean practicing the kind of discipline that makes in the moment "right" decisions natural.
I ordered the ginger tea with a confidence that often eludes when it comes to small decisions, and immediately sat down at a small circular table next to a couple who seemed to be working something out rather amicably. Just before I headed out, while looking for my planner, a copy of The Sophia Code cropped up unexpectedly from between my sheets and my plush stuffed turtle. I gave away a copy recently and thought it was my last one. The Sophia Code is after all, my very most favorite book. Being a living transmission, I was not terribly surprised it showed itself at that particular moment. So there I sat or a few moments remember who I am.
I happened to look up and see a little girl, perhaps 7 at the moment, gliding around in her heelies. I smiled. She skated around me in a circle as if the coffee shop were an ice rink and I were that center circle saved for spinning during public skates. I had just posted a link to a beautiful performance by Canadian figure skater Elledj. I used to figure skate competitively, and I haven't watched a full-length program of a figure skater in fifteen years. Watching Elledj was like watching liquid light. And now I was graced with the joy of a girl in pink heelies. "Will you get dizzy if I skate around you?" she asked me. "No, I'll be happy, because it makes me happy to see you happy," I replied. She grinned and kept skating. A while later she came over and struck up a conversation. "Sometimes I do things I think are funny but the grownups don't think it's funny." "Yeah, that happens sometimes," I said. "Especially when grownups are stressed out. Adults sometimes need help remembering how to have fun." The little girl nodded. "That's true." she said. I went on, "Sometimes other people don't laugh at my jokes, but I figure if I laugh at theme its good enough." She replied, "Good point," and went on to tell me this joke about the post office.
"What three words start with p and have a million letters?" I scratched my head feeling pretty out of touch. "The Post Office!" It took me a moment to get it - I'm a little slow at times to get certain types of jokes. Other times I'm the quick witted one and others are slow to get mine.
"What color is the sky?" asked the little girl staring at me intently. I responded, "All the colors of the rainbow but you can only see blue because of the way the light is filtered." "Which way is down?" I replied, "There is no such thing as down because it's all a matter of perspective." She told me another joke about a hot air balloon that blows up. I reimagined it and said, "How about we go up in the hot air balloon for a really awesome ride instead?" She said that sounded nicer. I asked what her name was and she told me it was Virgina. "But what do go by?" Her dad quieried, having come alongside the girl. "Ginger." I smiled and asked her if she happened to know what type of tea I ordered. She shook her head. "Ginger," I said, smiling. "What do you know?"
Later, after Ginger and her dad left, the man from the couple seated next to me asked if I was now considering getting myself a pair of heelies. "I'm seriously considering it," said. "I used to be a figure skater, but good skates are so expensive I basically don't skate anymore." His partner said, "I'm a figure skater too! Well, I used to be." They told me of a good spot to skate and inspired me to be on the lookout for a pair of gently used decent skates. It's so funny. When I posted that video of Elledj, I thought about my younger self, the self who was talented but also unhappy. I honestly don't know how I survived my childhood. But somehow I still skated with soul. I still got to skate with amazing people. I got to skate with my heroes, Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergi Grinkov, and I got Oksana Baul's lessons in the am sometimes when she had a hangover when she was struggling. But it competition I often blew it under pressure. I got so nervous I just hurled my body into air and left it. Leaving a body unattended middair is not recommend. The crash when you land sucks, but then you also have to get up instantly, paste a smile on your face and your hurl your body into the air again after pulling off a few interum graceful movements and working up some momentum. Good times. Well, okay, not really.I have so much understanding for my younger self. She is my hero. The amount of pain, pressure and tension she dealt with from multiple fronts is really not what you wish for a kid, but she was super brave and she did it for me. I used to write letters to my future self. I was a trooper and I never quit at life even after I quit skating because of her resilience. She gave me me. And in her honor, I decided, maybe just may I should try skating happy. I can't think of a better tribute to the kid who didn't give up, for me.