vegetarians and omnivores. can there be peace?

I imagine in a world divided by eating preferences, peace might be difficult.

I am in a peace-building program (Scilla Elworthy’s Business Plan for Peace) and in being aware of our own shadow and our own areas of contention, my relationship with my sister comes up. I certainly don’t want to diminish my capacity to be a power of peace in the world because of my situation with her. So, it has really been on my mind.

How do vegetarians and omnivores cohabitate? How do people or groups with values-based differences resolve their grievances?

I think vegetarians and omnivores can live reasonably well together if they sortof keep to themselves. Because if the vegetarians can’t be happy until the omnivores quit killing animals, vegetarians can’t be happy. But, there is some science to support that if humans were supposed to be vegetarian we would have a different digestive system. And, while I was a vegetarian on moral grounds for a long time, I cannot deny that my health improved when I started eating meat. And as Joseph Campbell said, vegetarians eat living things, too, they just eat ones that can’t run away. So, while I DEPLORE modern animal practices (and only support pasture farmers) I am not really sure who is right.

Does peace rely on our ability to allow others to live their lives the way they want to? I think it might.

Peaceful co-existence, letting people live as they want to, seems like a really good place to start.

When vegetarians and omnivores share a meal things get difficult.

I think i need to bring this question – this definition of peace – to the course for clarification. Is peaceful coexistence enough, or do we need acceptance and encouragement? that seems like a pipe dream.

i am free

I listened to a teacher today whose work is excellent. I like everything she says. I simply can’t stand her voice and the cadence of her speech. It’s enough that I will keep to reading her work from now on, lol, and it is not the first time i have felt that way about a speaker. Part of me is frustrated with myself for being judgmental. But the truth is, I get to be me and I don’t have to love every aspect of every person.

I’ve been going through a similar situation with my sister. She’s a wonderful human being in many, many ways, but at this time in my life she’s a source of stress and judgment and aversion. We’ve had a couple of falling outs and this last time, around my surgery and recovery, I enforced a “leave me alone” policy. I’m catching a lot of flack that I should get over that and engage with her, but I just don’t want to. I’ve been in this situation with her several times in the last couple of years and I keep listening to people and trying to resolve things so that she feels better and it has blown up in our faces. I think I deserve to spend time with the people I want to spend time with.

We have wronged each other relatively severely. That happens a lot in families. I can forgive her, and I can forgive myself. I think that’s a pretty big step. I just feel that forgiveness does not necessarily mean welcoming a person back into your life.I can welcome her to live her own life with my full encouragement – that should be enough, shouldn’t it? I don’t have to judge it if it doesn’t impact me.

I can hold us both in the light, recognizing we are divine beings and have every right to live our lives the way we want to. I can see the tragedy of it, and the potential gifts of it. But put having to deal with her in my face?  all of that goes away. The utter bullshit of miscommunication is all that is present then and I don’t want to re-engage. It makes me sick and i am not particularly nice to her. She has asked me to treat her more kindly. I think I should wait until I actually feel that towards her. I think it is a mistake to rush it.

We feel really differently on really essential items. She, like my mother, will accept anything you say if you say it nicely. I have no such standard. I actually listen to the content of what people say, and when it is wildly offensive, it is not unusual for me to decisively drop some f-bombs. It’s a style of communication that many people don’t like, and you can imagine how many fucks I give. I’m done apologizing for standing up for myself, telling people what is not OK, or managing my life by my own values.

I’m clearly not ready to see her no matter who would feel better if I did. I need to honor me. When I do that, I hold no resentment. When I try to meet anyone else’s expectations about how I should behave, I feel awful. I don’t have to do that to myself. I am free. They are free. Why would I bind myself? I don’t have to, and I won’t. Not today. Not until it feels right in my own heart.

 

 

a typical situation in these typical times

too many choices.

I am sick to death of self-improvement modalities. I am sick to death of wonder foods, healing protocols and transformational retreats. Only because I am sick of chasing them. I am sick of trying to improve myself, to get to the next level, to supercharge my anything. I am sick of marketing materials in almost every form, but especially the ones allowing me insider specials today only. I am sick of supposedly spiritual people using the same tactics as beer commercials and fashion magazines to make me feel I’m not quite right but might be after I take their course. I am sick of sales pages that ramble on forever, but at the bottom I’m still 3 clicks away from learning the actual price. I’m deathly sick of “before you complete your order, here’s a one-time opportunity for <me to upsell you>.” I’m sick of the sales funnels and the private facebook groups and the webinars. I’m sick of all of it.

In fact, I’m just sick. And I literally like my illness more than I like any of the things I’ve listed above. My illness has more to teach me. It may be physically painful but it’s not psychologically manipulative. It has my interests at heart (not someone else’s multiple streams of income).  What it does have in common with all of the above is that it is desperately trying to get my attention. Finally, I’m starting to give it. But the distractions are tough, and the hope for a solution outside myself is compelling.

This year has been a good one for me because my focus on slowing down has me setting aside brochures/pamphlets/earlybird emails more often than I let myself in years past. I can recognize that what you offer may be the best thing since sliced bread, but right now I need to stick to fruits and vegetables. I still fall prey to it, but far less often and with far less stress or the now fairly ubiquitous FOMO. I’m fairly low-hanging fruit for Paul Selig, Scilla Elworthy, Thomas Hübl, Byron Katie and Machaelle Wright, but I have very little interest in adding anyone to that list (I think Claire Zammit would’ve been on it until her step two program turned out to be ten grand. i feel a little uninspired, but really think her Feminine Power course material is absolutely outstanding).

We all know what we need is within us. I truly think we all know that. And, I believe we are here to explore the world, to interact with it, experience it and taste it, so it seems natural to look outside of ourselves, too.

My goal this year is to experience the world from a place of wholeness, not a place of trying to fix. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of me that needs fixing, in all of the categories. But I don’t believe we’re here to fix ourselves. I believe we’re here to grow and experience and laugh and serve exactly as we are and into that which we can’t help but become.

This is my new cue. When i think “oh, that might <make me better>” I’m going to slow down. Breathe. Appreciate just how much peace of mind I have when I am breathing and slowing down, sitting and smiling.

not being enough

I care about the earth. i care about my impact on it and what i support. i want to be a steward. there are so many people living with such integrity and care, really taking responsibility for the fullness of their lifestyle. There’s the Prius-driving (now tesla, i suppose. if you can afford it) organic gardening, compost, no-packaging folks. people who eat delicious plant-based meals and the right water filter (whole house. some aspect of capture, a full rain water system, etc) and walk to work. I am so glad they are here. i have aspirations to emulate – especially the grace with which they do it – a balance of effort and ease. effort right-applied, i guess, or at least that is how i perceive it. chances are the truth is a bit messier.

Our family of four produces one large kitchen garbage bag and one medium canister bag per week. except at like christmas. our recycling bin is always the fuller, and up until i killed the worms this summer, we composted all our food waste. We are a one car household. We eat a lot of plants. we used to grow some but the water situation at this house has posed problems.

Today i was reading Perelandra’s series on taking responsibility for the environment. and when Tucker threw garbage in recycling, i threw a little fit. And then threw some shade that he doesn’t care enough. you know, my guilt coming out as blame. That was shitty.

And i do have guilt. and i have stress about both the guilt and the lack of excellence in our recycling.

when we lived in rhode island i tried really hard. the kids were little and there was so much freaking packaging in our house. the house was consumed by recycling piles and areas and shit everywhere because it was tough to get to the recycling center. at a certain point, tucker said, ‘listen, you have so much stress about this, and the house is so trashed all the time… we can kill ourselves recycling, or we can be responsible as the system is set up to be and have a clean house. It was worth a try. I was maximizing the at-home recycling opportunities, but throwing out the plastics and other things they wouldn’t take.

I can do better.

And i can enlist the kids to make our home resource usage environmentally honorable as a form of social activism. It’s something we can do right here and now and it’s important and impactful. but even as i write this i can feel the fear of not getting it off the ground. failing. yet another great idea I didn’t act upon. Or started and failed.

But sometimes life is like that. sometimes we fail. but what direction are we moving in? i may not be perfect, but i am relentless in my efforts to make healthy, whole decisions and actions that honor boundaries and respect life, nature, and everyone involved. to spend my time holding space for the evolution of humanity towards a society of love and equality, support and nurturance. of everyone and everything. the unfolding of an age of mutual thriving. the garden. taking a resplendent place in the expression of life itself. human being at its finest, alive in our environment. in cocreative partnership with nature. and each other. and life itself.

that’s my contribution right now. it’s my top priority.I’m not great at it, but I am dedicated. It’s like ‘the subtle art of not giving a fuck’ – you only have so many fucks to give. use them wisely.  we’ve got to pick our priorities. and as we honor our priorities, we gain mastery and as we gain mastery we can expand our purview. but not while we’re condemning ourselves for what we’re not.  frustration is good – it teaches us what direction we want to go in – what areas we *want* to grow in, even if we don’t have capacity yet.. we can let it thwart us, or we can let it propel us, knowing that frustration wanes as practice leads to capacity leads to mastery. Expanding consciousness doesn’t come because the current consciousness is inadequate – it comes through and as current consciousness. focus on the inadequacy is constrictive consciousness. it’s looking in the shadow direction. expanding consciousness looks at the present moment as the beginning. constrictive consciousness looks at the present moment as the inadequate end. you and I are not “flawed.” we are growing.

i believe that as i incorporate things like a higher level of recyling, i will experience and thereby realize deeper levels of integrity and balance in all of my life. And while I struggle with the realities of the prevailing culture – like all that freaking packaging – mindfulness is the first step. Everyone wants the mature garden. things start as seeds.

and while we plant the seeds, we can’t be pissed at them for not being plants.

.

crushed

Today I found out one of the most important people in my life passed away a few months ago. 10 days after I last spoke with him, but because of my hip surgery I didn’t reach back out to him until this week. When he didn’t respond, I weirdly did an obit search and sadly found one.

John was the most interesting, fun, and intelligent person I’ve ever met. He is responsible for so many of my better attributes. His daughter died a couple of years ago, and I know every day was torture for him since then. I know he’s at rest. But, the world is a less vibrant place.

I’m crushed not because he died (I have unusual feelings about death) but because in the spring I said to him, “John, you’re the best raconteur on earth, with the funniest stories… let’s do a series of videochats of you telling stories and we’ll make them into a compilation for your grandson.” We did one. Life got busy. That was what I reached out to him to continue last week. The world, and his grandson, would have loved those stories. He had countless *really good* stories. Like the time he went to Queen Noor’s speech and ended up leaving with her personal copy. Or the time he ended up talking to the King of Spain when no one else would. Literally thousands of really funny, poignant, unbelievable stories. He was really something.

His dad did an “oral history of detroit” i think in the 70’s, and i’m sure it’s in the archives in the detroit historical museum. That’s why i thought the idea of chronicling his many stories would appeal to him. Plus, I really wanted to “see” him regularly. Over the 30 years I knew him, I enjoyed every minute.

He taught me to smile for no reason, to be kind to every person I encountered because being overtly kind and engaging is a nice way to live your life. It also sets you up to have unexpected delights most people would pass right by. He never feared red tape (he actually seemed to relish it, because unlike your average bear, he had no problem sorting it out). He lived the maxim: move fearlessly in the direction of your dreams. He considered himself the voice of the helpless and he worked tirelessly on their behalf. I can’t even count the number of pro bono cases he undertook, even when he was struggling financially. I am so disappointed in myself for not being more aggressive in getting our storytelling plan happening. His stories deserve to live on. And i’m sure they will in his family and friends. I know I will be telling them, as I always have, as an example of just how dynamic and fun life can be. That is what he taught me most.

Rest In Peace, Dear One. You made such a difference on this earth. You helped so many, inspired so many more, and taught so much. It was one of the great privileges of my life to have you in it. You are missed.

doing the work

I think about the evolution of consciousness and the divine nature of life itself All. The. Time. All the time. I think about it the way my brother-in-law thinks about sports. It’s not a hobby or an interest, it is a way of life. Everything relates to it and it is the context through which I perceive and interact with basically everyone and every thing. But no matter how much I think about water, if I’m not drinking it, I’m still gonna be thirsty. The drinking of it, the practices over the philosophy – this is the key.

I have been wrong about a million things in my life. I have been right about several. But I have known even more. The brain thinks, the heart knows. I didn’t really think much about marrying Tucker. In fact, most of my thinking about it had to do with how very very different we are, and how very unlike what I expected he is. Had I listened to my thinking, I have no idea where we’d be.

Spending even a few breaths per day in that place of knowing, the place of being, where my thoughts bear no more importance than the distant sound of traffic, even just a breath or two, is enough to turn philosophy into practice. My thirst is met by clear, cool water. and it is so delicious, I sit again.

i spent a decent portion of my life searching for water. I’d read all about it, I knew it to be true, but I could not find the wellspring. So frustrating! Years and years of it. Years and years of reading and talking and wanting and frankly, feeling entitled  (it’s our divine birthright, they told me!) and never imagining it literally resided in this body and silence was the threshold.

Anyone who knows me knows how difficult silence is for me. Perhaps that’s why it took so long. That and a thousand other reasons, but none of them matter. This isn’t something we aspire to… it is a choice we make in the present moment. If we’re aspiring to it, it’s in the future, we have to change.

Weirdly enough, we do not have to change. the world does not have to change. we need to breathe. bonus experience for smiling. how crazy is it that THAT is the work?

Of course, there is other work. Being present to the things we’d rather cast aside. Recognizing the divinity in others, their right to be exactly as they are (Swami Vivekananda said something like: “you can think you’re the most spectacular person in the world, as long as you think everyone else is, too”), recognizing the divinity everywhere … the thing is, these things are done through the sitting and breathing (without all that meaning being attached to the thoughts, without taking the bait of every perceived imperfection).

I’m most excited about the habit of attuning to difficult situations in the way Paul Selig’s books suggest: attuning to the truth, whether the ego can understand it or not. An inner acknowledgment that anything you can see is Life Itself expressing and that is far beyond our meager judgments. Opening to the possibility often is enough to catch a glimmer that it might be true. Freedom really is right here, if we just peeled away all the junk we’ve piled onto it.

remembering

I got so frustrated with myself today. When I scheduled my surgery, I decided to take 3 months with no obligations (truly a blessing, thank you to my husband, children and family) so that I could develop the habits of, for example, relaxed shoulders, a dropped sacrum and other physical cues that belied the unnecessary stress in my body. With three months of concerted effort I was pretty sure I could lock in these better habits and move forward in a new, relaxed framework with which to address the various comings and goings of life.

Funny, right!? I mean, optimistic. For a 50 year old woman to turn around a lifetime of habit in 3 months… well, i think it is possible, but my intention was so far-reaching and so complete.

So today, as I noticed my tipped sacrum and my scrunched shoulders I was SO pissed! How did I not change this? Self-frustration’s engine revved, ready to take off.

Luckily, self-compassion was in the sidecar. Hey, at least I’m noticing more. And in this moment, it’s not about having the perfect habit. It is about being in the moment, noticing the fullness of the moment, and seeing what I can do to contribute to the moment in a way that contributes more love, freedom and/or relationship.

My moments may never be without challenge, either of my own creation or the normal stuff we bump up against in life. More than having a relaxed physical composure, I want to have a compassionate mental composure. A way of living that doesn’t condemn so much as notice, doesn’t complain as much as pose the question of how to restore balance, doesn’t fret so much as develop the muscles of equanimity.

It’s important for me to remember what I am constantly telling my children: we are growing, evolving beings. I keep trying to “be complete” or “right” forgetting that life is never a picture frozen in time, it is always fluid and moving and changing – and the real question is not if I were right or wrong or somewhere in between but how, in this present moment, I am meeting myself and life itself with openness. And if I notice something that my past has taught me I could do better, to employ that knowledge without condemnation for needing to. And guess what? That knowledge may be wrong! or mis-applied. And that’s ok, too.

freedom

I haven’t posted in a while because I have been feeling better and with that I’ve begun to be perhaps a little too active – and today I recognize this and can take a deep breath and bring some mindfulness to it and slow the @%&* down.

I think God is playing an infinite game of “can you see me now?”

I’m getting better at being able to say YES

The more I see and read, the more I recognize in myself and others a baseline expectation that life has some sort of an obligation to go the way we think it should go. I wonder how this developed. I mean, life is unfolding as life seemingly always has  – old things give way to new things and within that, infinite variations on any single theme, and infinite themes… it astounds me how many choices are being made every single nanosecond… SO MANY – truly mind-boggling. And within each choice, so many options (even if only the options about how to think of the thing).

Today I’ve been really feeling into this idea of free will, equating it with our maxim of …if you love something, set it free.. if it comes back to you it is yours and if not it never was…

We get free will and we go running off to the edges of the universe, pushing to see how far we can go.

i feel like the prodigal son. I want to just go back.

Here’s my free will. Thanks for it, but my will brings me right back to You. All that other shit is exhausting. I just want You, oh Inventor of Free Will. It is a magnificent invention to be sure, and I’ve run it through innumerable paces – and with whatever wisdom I may have gained, it all leads me to give it back, gratefully, and take my place within the house from which I came.

Today a friend talked about being sick of asking the universe for things and wanting to GIVE the universe things, and I think that’s just marvelous. I freaking hated The Giving Tree. I know it’s a favorite among millions, but it turns my stomach. Maybe I’m missing the point, but I feel it validated a generation of “takers” – I want to write the book that inspires a generation of healthy giving and receiving. Paul Selig’s work says the action of fear is to create more fear, the action of love is to express. Expressing, in it’s loveliest form, is giving. giving the wholeness of ourselves. we’ve received it (and continue, through the breath, to receive it and the literal stuff of life from the universe, every minute of every day), expressing wholeheartedly (instead of asking for the things that will help us construct some construct of “the life we want”) seems like both the grandest and the humblest form of action. Lets do more of that!

I also see that feeling better has me up far too late tonight, so i’ll be revisiting these ideas – that I love and really want to explore – at a more appropriate time.

book of freedom

I’m on my second reading of Paul Selig’s The Book of Freedom which blew my mind as I read it the first time, and honest to God, I feel like everything I am reading is new and it is blowing my mind in an entirely new way. The gift that keeps on giving, and each time in new and unexpected but deeply relevant and personal ways. I really do believe Selig’s work is the most interesting thing happening on the planet right now.

I believe it’s being echoed by all kinds of wonderful work, don’t get me wrong. Yesterday I heard Ken Wilbur say that evolution is natural and unconscious until you get to human, and as a human you won’t evolve unless you decide to. That never occurred to me before. I mean, we are all evolving sortof naturally, but honestly it looks like humanity – without the decision to evolve to greater levels of love, freedom and relationship, seems to be devolving into entitlement, protectionism and fear. Yikes! Seems like a pretty easy choice …

Selig talks about being complicit to the injustices and that breaks my heart. Absolutely I believe in equality, justice, nurturance, and acceptance for every living being and that is not what I am seeing in most/our culture. There is that sense of “but what can *I* do?” I mean, I have a pretty unconventional life but I am still complicit in this radical injustice pervading the world and I definitely want to be a part of the shift to equality, collaboration and collective thriving. I also know that problems are not solved at the level of consciousness at which they were created, and that the future only equals the past to the unimaginative, and so the best thing i can do -or one of the best things – is not to contextualize the solution within a vision of what has come before as “solutions.”

This leaves me/us in a position of holding the space for the transformation of society in fairness and caring and growth. Being these changes in —even our relationship with ourselves and the people we particularly don’t care to be around. It is a big shift. I mean, who doesn’t want to banish all of their bad habits and accentuate and cultivate all of their good ones? I think most of us hold that desire. But the truth is, if we can’t come to relationship within ourselves that acknowledges and honors the wholeness of what we are in this moment – all of it, then we can never cultivate a self that can truly redeem our weaknesses through the gentle power of our strengths.

So, once again, it’s an inside job. Daunting! But within our ability to transform if we so choose. and, by the way, not so much by transforming as by being the container that is bigger than the problem. As Thomas Hübl says, “Complexity is simplicity in the wrong size container.” Let’s expand!

reflections

I started 2018 similarly to the way i’ve started every other year of my life – wanting to make improvements to me and the way i live. that dynamic had been somewhat helpful in that micro-movements towards “better me” were helpful. Of course the real movements came through things like illness and sorrow, but those annual goals moved the needle too, if only slightly.

I am very excited to note that 2019 has very little of that dynamic. I am tired of fixing (myself or anything else), so i have no list of things i want to improve, no ideal schedule i’ll try to meet, not even a list of things i’d like to do. It’s actually very exciting. This year’s “goal” is simply about receiving life as the gift that it is, without my wanting to doll it up or shift it ever-so-slightly (or enormously) towards what I think would be an improvement. Curiosity seems to be the keyword associated with this stance. If i can’t see the gift in the present moment directly, i have to get curious about what it might be. and that answer may come slowly, but so far it always comes.

So far, she says. We’re 3 days into the new year. But this dynamic has been evolving. I remember one of the first noticeable changes… I’ve wanted all year for Claire Zammit to announce the next step of her feminine power course which i found enormously valuable. Then she did and it was $10k. Any other version of myself would have been both enormously disappointed and simply mad to find a way to make it work. This year I was just like, “huh. that’s not for me.” and I was fine with it. I’ve struggled with so many “how do I move heaven and earth so that I can do this thing that might fix me, finally?!” it was pure heaven to have that response.

A huge part of that is not feeling I need so much fixing anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I have the full yin and yang of habits and traits. It was almost a decade ago that I realized I’d been trying to just make my personal yin/yang symbol all white. No dot in the middle, and certainly no yin half. Even after that profound recognition, the futility of that effort has only taken years to sink in. And now that it’s gained ground, I can see people trying to bleach their yin dot and yin drop with mad fury, but i can chuckle and know it’s a fool’s errand.

We are all it. Each one of us. Exactly as we ARE but not exactly as we tend to be currently thinking. This pre-frontal cortex has had all kind of benefit, but someone left the barn door open and it seems to have taken over the farm. Reining that thought train in is where the real magic happens – much more easily than trying to change the basic nature of things.

It is exhilarating to begin a new year without some desperate wish to fix anything (even my health), but curiosity about new ways to meet it. Not trying to find answers but interested in what is going on around me and what energy I find compelling in my body, not just the whorish “I need that, too” of my mind wanting to try every freaking solution on the internet/anyone talks about. I am experiencing noticibly less subtle panic about “doing the right thing” – man, all of the stress i’ve felt about doing the “right” thing over my lifetime – when most of the time there truly is no “right” thing. Life is about exploration of life, connection, wonder not the competition I saw it as where you really need to pick the most right answers or clearly you’ll die (oh, yeah, we’ll all die anyway). All that stress. All that misplaced attention. all that futility.

so it is exciting coming into a new year with a definitive sense that this is new for me, this approach, and I like it very much and I’ve practiced enough in the prior year that I really can bring a new way of being into 2019, one wherein I am not trying to fix anything, change anything, be anything different than I am. This year I am focused on embodiment, presence and wonder – all things that come pre-installed in our basic human design!

Last year, having started Barbara Marx Hubbard’s Awakening the New Species, my primary goal was evolving – i figured it is the best goal ever because it happens so naturally to us all. Same thing with presence and embodiment. I remember being present and embodied as a kid, and I remember feeling dissatisfied with the world i was in so i began living mostly in my head.

It’s great to be back. It is pure freaking joy to be coming out of that individual head space I’ve lived in where literally everything needed some kind of tweaking to be acceptable to me or meet my needs, and landing gently back on the world itself where everything is perfect, and I get to settle in to that truth.