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It starts with me

Yesterday I was having a conversation with my mom about everything that's going on in the world - random shootings in the US, ISIS attacks in the Middle East, astounding pollution in China. My head was spinning and my heart was breaking as I started to focus on all of the pain in the world. Then, my mom asked me a question: what, if anything, do you think can be done to fix all of this?

My mind began to race as I tried to come up with solutions to all of these problems. What would it actually take to create the world we want to live in? As I tried to develop a 3 minute solution to world peace, it hit me. We need conscious leaders who meet hate and fear with love. Not retaliation, not baring our teeth, not disregarding the good of all for the profit of few. Love.

So where do these leaders come from? How are they created and how the hell do they end up leading? What can I do to help?

And that's when I realized (again) something that's been with me for a long time - it starts with me.  It is so easy to look out and see everything that is wrong with the world. I do it all the time. I make a list of things that are broken and judge what's being done to fix them. Now it's time to turn the mirror on myself.

How am I living that supports the world I want to live in? How am I not living?  I became vegan after seeing Cowspiracy because I couldn't in good conscience keep contributing to rainforest destruction and global warming. I compost. I minimize waste. I eat organic. But what about the softer, more subtle things? Am I totally judgment free? Do I meet hate and fear with love? How can I expect others to do this if I'm not willing to consistently do it myself?

If we really are all one, then a shift in the consciousness of just one person will affect everyone. And if many of us start to shift towards love, imagine what could happen. We're at a pivotal crossroads in humanity where we have to turn the ship around, or we might just destroy ourselves. The time to wake up is now. The time to live in a way that's sustainable and loving towards humanity and our planet is now. It starts with me. And it starts with you.

As 2015 draws to a close, I am creating a commitment for the New Year, and I invite you to join me. I am going to meet everything with love. That's right. Everything. The thing about commitments is that they are different than expectations. If you have an expectation and you fail, you experience disappointment. If you fail at a commitment, the commitment still stands. I know I will fail at my commitment time and time again because I am not conditioned to meet pain with love. But I am committed to practicing this vulnerability, to becoming a more loving person and to creating a more loving world.

Perspective. 

Perspective. 


Our bodies are miracles

Our bodies are constantly trying to talk to us, and when we listen, it's profound what we hear.

Yesterday I had a unique experience in a class with one of my favorite teachers. Her whole class was centered on listening to what our bodies wanted us to do, and at one point she said "Utkatasna or Bakasana." Chair or crow. Hmmmm...

Without any thought my body gracefully moved itself out of chair and right into crow. For me crow has always been a challenging pose because there's so much fear in it. If you fall, you fall directly on your face. What if I break my nose? Scrape my forehead? God forbid I look ugly. But this time it was different. By body remembered the pose and swiftly moved me right into it - no time for what ifs. I held it longer than I have ever held crow. My body knew exactly what it wanted.

Bakasana

Bakasana

Last week I danced so hard I cried. My beautiful sister and inspiring friend, Kiki, hosted a class called Ritual Movement. She created a space for women to be uninhibited and free. Her intention was for us to come alive. We started small, moving just the hips, eyes closed. Then the movements got more dramatic, using our whole body. She encouraged us to listen to what our bodies wanted us to do. 

At some point a song came on and I was no longer in control. My body began to move in a way it has never moved. I was all over the place, yet graceful in my motion. It felt so good. So right. I was dancing so hard - from the depths of my soul - that I suddenly became overwhelmed with emotion. Tears flowed down my face. I unleashed a part of me that I had hidden away. A part of me I was ashamed of. Scared of. Yet when it came out, it only felt perfect.

This thought - our bodies are miracles - has been with me for a long time. I remember back to 9th grade biology, and then AP biology, and then college biology. I remember learning about our bodies' systems. How perfectly it all seems to work. The symmetry, the geometry, the magic. 

I remember the first time I had bodywork done. And the second. And the thirtieth. Each experience profound and unique. Each massage, Reiki session, or Body Talk teaching me more and more about myself. I remember the moment when I connected with how much information our bodies store. That my right hip holds the memories of my maternal line. My right shoulder my father. My left hip my friends. My tribe. That I store all of my anxiety in my stomach. All of my secrets. That when I hide something, when I hide who I am, I get nauseous. 

This is why I love yoga. It gives us an opportunity to take care of our miraculous bodies. And through the practice we can use our physical form to help us connect to our deepest selves. Time and again I get into a pose that I didn't think I could do. I hold something longer than I thought I could. I set my beliefs that I will fall or hurt myself aside. And when I do this for my body, I also do it for my Spirit. I am constantly learning that the way I do my yoga is the way I do my life. I am constantly overcoming fears and limitations on my mat that make my life richer and less scary off the mat. 

I am so blessed with this beautiful, healthy vessel that carries me through this lifetime. It is my honor to take care of it and to listen to what it has to say. There is so much wisdom in our bones. So much magic in our flesh.

Our bodies remember. Our bodies know.


When I close my eyes

Photo credit: Scott London

Photo credit: Scott London

I come from a place with lush forests and clean running water.
A land where animals roam free and are loved and admired.
A planet with mountains of purple and orange.

In this land there is peace.
We are governed by the laws of love.
There is no money, only gifts.
We thrive in community.

Sure, there is conflict.
But we resolve it consciously, through conversation.
Greed does not exist.
We know, we trust, there is plenty for everyone.

When I close my eyes, I can see my home.

It is called Earth.

Be a light unto yourself

The last time I auditioned I was 16. I was taking a Theater Arts class in high school and liked it enough that I decided to try out for a play. It was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - the musical. Having little (read: zero) musical training, I set about to find a song that would suit my shaky 16 year old voice. At the time my mom and I were in love with Chicago, the musical, and happened to own a book of the piano music. I decided to sing All That Jazz. My mom put her piano skills to use as I belted out the tune, over and over again. I practiced so much, in fact, that the night before the audition I lost my voice. Quickly I went from Broadway Star (I'm being generous here) to haggard old cat. But I decided to audition anyway.

The day of the audition a friend of mine who was a theater pro coached me through my song. She listened to me sing and gave me some pointers on how to move my body with the music, displaying great stage presence. You want me to spread my arms all the way out like a giant star? I thought, That seems so...uncomfortable.

I took the stage and with my raspy voice and jittery body I did the best version I could. I'm being kind when I say it wasn't very good. I felt humiliated. I walked off the stage knowing that I wouldn't get the role.

I never tried out for another play again.

This morning I had the opportunity to revisit my 16 year old self. I had my first audition for a yoga teaching position at a studio that's managed by one of my favorite teachers. The task was simple - teach a 10 minute sequence with standing and seated postures. Show us who you are as a teacher. There were 6 of us in the room ranging from 6 years of experience to 3 months of experience (that would be me). Even so, I felt calm, centered, collected. The 3 C's of success!

And then it was my turn. I went to the front of the room and suddenly my entire body was trembling like a leaf. I opened my mouth to speak, and my voice came out just as shaky as my limbs. Breathe! I commanded myself.

My sequence was decent. My teaching and explanations were...not my best. As I sat down my mind started attacking me. That was terrible. Maybe you shouldn't be a yoga teacher. Who do you think you are trying to compete with these other teachers? When it was over, my favorite teacher gave me a hug. His embrace, his love, his acceptance totally shattered me. I wanted to burst out crying. I felt ashamed, especially in the face of someone I admire and respect so much.

Leaving the studio I knew I had a choice. Grind myself down into the smallest version of myself OR find a place of compassion, love and gentleness and approach myself from there. As hard as it was, I chose the latter. You're awesome. You're learning. You tried! I called my partner, hoping for some comfort. He didn't answer. OK - how do I make myself feel better? Answer: Buy a Philz coffee (they really should call it happy juice).

When he called me back, I didn't receive the kind of support that I desired. "MAKE ME FEEL BETTER!" my ego cried, "HELP!" We got off the phone, and I was so upset. I wanted to text him and tell him he wasn't doing a good job. Not giving me what I need. In reality, I was upset at myself, but I wanted to make it about someone else.

As I walked home, I recalled a poem I wrote a few months ago. One of the lines reads, "What if what's inside creates reality, not the other way around? If we all knew this truth, only love would abound." I allowed the sun to kiss my face, the breeze to tickle my skin. I took deep breaths. Then I remembered myself at 16. The young lady who wanted so badly to act and after one bout of stage fright gave the whole thing up. I never looked back. Pretended like I had never had that dream.

Then I saw that this was an opportunity for a do-over. To learn the lesson a different way this time. I took a moment to travel back to my 16 year old self. To comfort the little girl inside who is scared to be vulnerable. Scared to mess up. I held her, ever so tenderly, and praised the effort. I reminded myself that I am new at this, and I have so much to learn. And I encouraged myself to try, try again.

So now, here I am, practicing what the Buddha taught so many of his disciples - "Be a light unto yourself." What's inside does create reality, and following your heart will never lead you astray. With that, I'm onto the next audition! I was born for this.

I am you and you are me

Today I was riding home on the train from a lovely lunch with a friend when a woman stepped on board. I was sitting right next to the stairs, and I immediately felt her as she came on. She stayed on the stairs for some time -- a little out of it, a little uneasy. As the train began moving, she stepped up, wobbly, and looked around for a place to sit. As she grabbed the pole near my face, I noticed that her sleeve was covered in something. And as she turned toward me, I noticed that that "something" was vomit, and it was not only on her sleeve, but all over the front of her shirt. She clutched a plastic mug as if it were the most valuable thing in the world. To her, possibly, it was. I followed her with my gaze as she stumbled down the train car. People looked worried, disgusted. They removed themselves from her path. A man even got out of his seat and changed cars. She took the empty seat. I watched as she sat down and her body relaxed. My heart ached for this woman. I closed my eyes and allowed my heart to fill with love for this human with whom I am sharing an existence.

The man next to her got up. Perhaps it was too much for him? Another man sat down. As soon as he did, the woman leaned onto him. He allowed it. They sat that way for several minutes -- physically connected.

I began to weep. I saw that this woman was me and that I was this woman. That all any of us are looking for is love. That inside this old woman covered in her own throw up is a small child longing for affection and comfort.

It is time for us to all wake up to the reality that is around us. It is time for us to stop making these people the "other." You are the homeless man on the street corner begging for food. You are the woman with the screaming baby on the plane. You are the man masking his own pain with drug addiction. The woman selling her body so she can pay the rent.

Open your eyes, open your heart. Allow the love and compassion within you to shift this existence. We're all in it together.

What if...

What if this is all a game? What if we chose it all before we came?

Our every action, our every inaction proof of our own divinity?

What if what's inside creates reality, not the other way around?

If we all knew this truth only love would abound.

The only thing that's real is this exact moment - right now, right here.

Our lives are just a series of choices we make

You hold the power - thou mayest - make no mistake.

Everything a lesson, an opportunity to grow

You see yourself clearly - the more you love, the more you know.

Love is greater than fear

A wise man once said, "if you are not in mortal danger, let fear be your compass." Our fear response is an innate part of our biology, intended to help us survive. To continue on as a species. But we've created and built so many structures in our lives to support our survival that our fear no longer serves us. It is a distraction. It keeps us small. For the past 9 months, I have been running towards things that scare me. Sometimes it's a sprint, sometimes I'm dragging my feet. But I'm running nonetheless. I am doing this because I know the things that scare me most will be the things that truly help me grow. The things that push me over the edge. I am at a point in my life where I am choosing discomfort because I know it will create a better version of me.

In February I left my amazing, secure job to pursue the life I've always wanted. To pursue my purpose on this Earth. Anytime I've doubted my decision, I've thought about what another wise man said - "This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it's a feather bed*."

Since leaving Google, I have been traveling in South America, and time and again I've been reminded that I made the right choice. Because that's all life really is, right? A series of choices that we all have the privilege to make.

This trip has been amazing. I've had the opportunity to see some of the most incredible places on Earth - Patagonia, Rio de Janeiro, Machu Picchu, the Amazon. I've become closer and more intimate with my partner. I've met incredible friends - new and old. Most importantly, though, I've learned to fully love myself.

True self love comes from really knowing yourself - warts and all. It's about making friends with your monsters. As Brene Brown says in The Power of Vulnerability, it's about loving yourself not despite your mistakes, but because of them.

My whole life I thought I had to be perfect. I thought people would like me more if I was always right. If I never messed up (it's okay, you can laugh). I remember every word I ever misspelled on a test (feild - 3rd grade, rasberry - 5th grade). In 4th grade I made a 78 on a test about bird beaks and feet. I hid it in my underwear drawer because I was so ashamed I didn't want anyone to see it.

As part of this journey to self love, I've had to admit that I did this to myself. My parents were loving and understanding. I put the pressure on myself to be perfect. I don't know where it started, or why. And it doesn't really matter. What matters is that I see it, and I'm choosing to give myself a break. I'm loving my imperfections. And I'm finally recognizing that my power comes from messing up, not being perfect.

As I begin to love myself fully, exactly as I am, I begin to love others fully, too. We are each mirrors, reflecting different facets of the same Source, allowing each other to see exactly what we need to see. As my beautiful friend Rachel so eloquently says, "from self love, comes all love."

*Terrence McKenna is a wise ass man.

Full quote: “Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it's a feather bed.”

Here's what I learned in the Jungle

I recently spent two weeks in the Amazon of Peru, connecting with local cultures, nature and myself. It was a beautiful experience, too profound for words. While there I learned (and performed!) a song, which I think perfectly captures the essence of my time there.

Yo soy mujer de la tierra alumbrando con luz de luna me coronan las estrellas y las diosas viven en mi

Yo soy la fiesta de la vida danzando en el universo, mi alegría es medicina y las diosas viven en mi

Yo soy una niña salvaje inocente, libre, silvestre tengo todas las edades mis abuelas viven en mi

Yo soy hermana de las nubes y solo se compartir se que todo es de todos y que todo esta vivo en mi

Mi corazón es una estrella soy hija de la Tierra viajo abordo de mi espiritu y camino a la eternidad camino a la eternidad

Translation:

I am a woman of the earth illuminated by the light of the moon crowned by the stars and the goddesses live in me

I am the party of life dancing in the universe my happiness is medicine and the goddesses live in me

I am a wild child innocent, free and wild I have all of the ages my grandmothers live in me

I am sister of the clouds and only with them I share I know that everything belongs to everyone and that everything lives in me

My heart is a star I am a woman of the earth I travel aboard my spirit and walk in eternity walk in eternity

And so she rises...

Today is the day I jump off the cliff. Spread my wings. And fly. It's been four and a half years since I joined "the best company in the world." Four and half years since I graduated college. Four and half years since I packed up my life and moved to the City by the Bay. I came with two suitcases and four boxes of books. They cost $800 to ship - a sizable chunk of my moving bonus.

I didn't know anyone in San Francisco, which didn't dawn on me until my parents left me after 10 days of moving and sightseeing. All alone in the big bad city with a 6.5 pound pup. And so the journey began.

Before I even applied for the job, my intention was: work for a big company, gain lots of experience, save lots of money, leave and change the world. I applied to Google because it was a big company that aligned with my values. I also applied because Google is "the best" and I was hellbent on people thinking I was "the best," too.

I won't go through my whole journey, but let's just say I spent four years making decisions about my career completely based on how they would appear to the outside world. I wanted to impress my parents and friends. I wanted my peers to be jealous (a nasty thing jealousy is, but admitting the truth sets us free).

All the while I knew this wasn't me. I knew what I was made for. And I was scared shitless to jump.

Fear is a funny thing. It does strange things to people. It creeps in quietly, then completely consumes you. Makes you believe it's part of who you are. I did a lot of work to see fear as separate from myself. To choose to push past it.

I had been talking about leaving Google since the day I started. I'd told myself countless times it would happen on this date, then that date. I had an experience at the Burn - some would call it mystical - where I came face-to-face with my own power. I saw it was infinite. And I saw that I was the only one holding myself back.

I began the long, arduous process of learning to love myself, fully and completely, just as I am. I began to shed pain I had caused myself. I began to let go of what everyone else thought. And I set a date - February 6. I knew I'd stick to it.

And so here we are, February 6, 2015. Two days before my half birthday. I am free as a bird.

Next week I will sit Vipassana for 10 days. It's the next step on my journey, and I am both excited and terrified. After that, I'll spend 3 months in South America - exploring cultures and people, learning a lot and getting inspired.

I feel a deep calling in my heart to create my own company, focused on the growth and development of others. I dream of creating a new business model that permanently alters the way companies work in the future. And I commit to be of service to others through the work that I do.

I'm going to transform the world. I invite you to join me.