#Create2013 The world is changing so fast that the best way to be successful in it is to learn to be creative and be prepared to educate yourself for your entire lifetime. Education is not just about school, it is a state of being. You are never done. Become comfortable being a student, be passionate about learning, and embrace the abundance of material that is out there to foster it! It is a great time to be alive!
On Being Creative-you’ve got to do the work
The nation was mesmerized by President Obama’s message of hope and prosperity during the 2008 election and it roused us out of our seats and into the voting booths. We were in a place of despair and stagnation and we were looking for something different and his heartfelt slogan of “Yes We Can” made us realize that change was up to us and it was time we took charge and got engaged.
I don’t know what happened; maybe President Obama spent an inordinate amount of time preparing for an election and not enough time preparing for a Presidency. Maybe the financial crisis was way worse than anyone could possibly prepare for and all his hopes for what his first term would look like went up in smoke just like all of our home equity and retirement accounts. Maybe his best ideas died on the vine of partisan politics and we don’t really know the true measure of this man yet.
But…I am a fan, I am a supporter and I believe President Obama is the person to lead us for the next four years, I also believe that if he doesn’t go back to the basic tenets of what got him elected in the first place, he probably won’t win.
We are a nation that caught a glimmer of change and watched as it faded away in political rankling. We were expecting a Statesman and got unexceptional leadership, business as usual, and no change at all. In fact, in several ways things are worse now because we lack hope and an inspiring leader that gives us a vision of something better.
What I know for sure though, is that we suffered the worst financial crisis in a generation, akin by all accounts to the Great Depression of 1929 that lasted for over a decade. Only extreme courage, extraordinary leadership, and faith in the fact that things could change and get better got us out of it. In 1936, when FDR was campaigning for his second term, things were only fractionally better a full SEVEN years after the start of the depression. After four years of extraordinary Statesman like leadership things had not changed, things had not gotten better, and in fact many, many things were worse. The drought of 1933 had left farmers decimated and caused many to lose their land and despite astounding programs put in place, the citizens of the country were still suffering.
Where would we be if our descendants hadn’t had faith in FDR’s leadership? Why did the citizens of the 1930’s have conviction in a President when he had had four years to fix things and so obviously hadn’t? What was different then?
Here is the truth; we are in nowhere near as bad a place as they were almost a century ago. Yes, many have lost retirement accounts, jobs, and homes, but today, that doesn’t mean we have to ride the rails or live on the streets or go hungry because we have the programs that were put in place back then to take care of us now. We don’t have to suffer the same fate now because they DECIDED that they couldn’t let it happen again and let their President have the time he needed to fix eerily similar circumstances.
Guess what? President Obama’s campaign slogan of 2008, “Yes We Can” is still relevant today; it just needs a slight shift. What he should be telling us, instead of negative political jargon, is “Yes We ARE.” Things ARE getting better, we ARE taking care of our citizens, the wars ARE coming to an end, we ARE getting people back to work, we ARE educating our young and there ARE things on the horizon to be hopeful about.
I have no idea why the President’s campaign is deciding to take the route they are, but they have time to change course and remind us of what we loved about President Obama in 2008 and show us again what is great about the leader we chose. We need our Statesman and it’s time he showed us his measure and remind us not only, “Yes, We Can”, but in fact “YES WE ARE!”
From the moment I laid eyes on my first born, I have believed in the wisdom of my child. When Rachel’s eyes looked into mine on that first night, I saw thousands of years of sage knowledge buried in the depths of purity in her brown eyes. I have always trusted in her sense of self and the truth that she immerses herself in. Tonight, she proved to me once again that she carries the lessons of the Universe deep in her heart; she is an old soul who’s been here before and I’m just here to take it all in and bear witness to this glorious being.
She had come to me for advice on a college English assignment. She was to write a memoir and she said she needed help. “I’m just 16,” she said, “I haven’t lived enough yet to write a memoir.”
We began sharing some stories from her childhood; experiences she had, lessons she’d learned. Nothing was fitting and she was getting frustrated, then I was getting frustrated because she was discounting every idea I’d offered up.
I decided to tell her the story that I would use if it were my assignment and as I told the story about a moment I shared with my grandparents, I began to cry. She told me that was the type of story she wanted to tell, but she hadn’t lived through any of those types of experiences yet, even though she felt she could understand those lessons without really having to live them for herself.
I chuckled and told her, “Let’s face it Rachel, this isn’t your first go round at this rodeo. You’re very evolved for a 16 year old.” We both laughed and it broke the tension. “I can’t remember any of those stories Mom,” she sighed and rolled her eyes just like the mixture of old soul and sixteen year old that she is.
It reminded me of a conversation we had, had a few weeks before about knowing your “WHY”, a concept taught by Simon Sinek, in his book, “Start with Why”. I had asked her what her why was. She had answered, “I am a writer, I tell stories.”
“But why do you tell stories?” I went on. “I have to,” she explained with a look that said it was a stupid question. “But why do you have to?” I prodded. “Because I am the guardian of the world’s stories. I have to honor and tell those stories,” she replied with complete conviction.
As I remembered the encounter while we were talking about her memoir assignment, I looked at her and said gently, “When did you know you were a writer? When did you know you had to tell stories? Tell them that story.”
She looked at me with those deep, knowing brown eyes and began, “I was about 11 and I was sitting in the backyard and I began imagining this story about a girl who is lost in the woods. It just seemed like a great idea and I came in and started writing and didn’t stop that day until I had written about thirty pages. I just knew it was what I had to do and I was going to do it. And I did.”
I looked at my beautiful, daughter a young woman filled with hopes and dreams and the wisdom of the ancients. She went on, “I don’t let doubts get in the way of what I am creating. I just create. While I am creating, I just work until I’m done. I’ll only let the doubts come later. I never let it stop me from telling my stories, from being who I am. I saw this quote that I love, ‘I’d rather live a life of oh wells, than of what ifs.’ That’s how I want to live.”
Oh yes, I know how lucky I am to be this child’s mother and if I ever have to write a memoir about the big lessons I learned during my life, I know I will remember this night when my daughter and I shared a small exchange that led to a huge life lesson for me. Let the doubts come later, only after you have done the work, created the art, let who you are come through, shared your story. If I make a mistake at least I know I will be saying, “Oh well,” not “What if…” And our story continues….
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about aging and how to age well. I know it has been a hot topic lately and all over the news, so I wanted to do my own exploration of the subject. I have read, studied, researched, and watched countless videos on all matters that are AGING. One of the things I noticed about it that surprised me was that aging well has less to do with the aging body and more to do with the aging spirit. I saw many younger people with fit bodies appear more aged than older people with physical challenges whom appeared more youthful. In fact, I hesitate to even use the term youthful, I much prefer the term LIFEFUL. Youthfulness is something we can’t hang onto and will always fade, but all the people that I saw that aged well are more LIFEFUL. They had a fully developed Life Force that didn’t age at all.
Over and over again, those that I wanted to watch, to interact with, and be like shared a certain enthusiasm about living. No matter what their circumstances, they looked at life with a sense of promise, gratitude and optimism. One of my absolute favorites was of Alice Herz Sommers, a 108 year old Holocaust Survivor who was interviewed by Tony Robbins, an interview which is titled: A Garden of Eden in Hell. She was so full of gratitude, even after living through the most horrid experience, that one is determined to look at life with brighter eyes after watching. Her story was the ultimate lesson in living a lifeful existence. What are her lessons? Be optimistic, be thankful for everything, and know that life is a present. Those are things we can choose to practice and seek in our lives no matter what our age.
Another of my favorite lessons comes from a book/video called “Wisdom” by Andrew Zuckerman. In the video of Wisdom, you watch some of our most esteemed Elders talk about some of our big questions about life and living well. As you watch each of these Elders, one after another, you know they all are the epitome of a well lived life; lifefulness personified. Their voices ring with truth after truth and it’s a video you watch over and over again and learn some new axiom. Some of my most cherished lessons from these elders? Clint Eastwood: “I’ve never retired because I always feel like I’m learning something new all the time.” At 82, he feels like he still has more to learn and that keeps him young at heart. Chuck Close, who suffered a spinal artery collapse in 1988 that left him severely paralyzed, had every reason to just quit living a Lifeful life, but instead kept working and creating masterpieces. He says, “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” His beautiful video from CBS This Morning titled, Notes to a Younger Self, further explains his belief in living life fully by telling his 14 year old self, “Never let anyone define what you are capable of doing by using parameters that don’t apply to you.” As you watch him create a masterpiece strapped to his wheelchair, you understand that Lifefulness is more than an agile, youthful looking body; it is an outlook that says, I am here, I matter, I am special and so are you.
One of the very best Aging teachers, for me, is Jane Fonda. As she embraces what she calls her “Third Act”, she gives us all a lesson in hard won lifefulness; lifefulness that says it’s not too late to learn to love yourself, it’s not too late to change, it’s not too late to start again EVER. In her Master Class episode on OWN, she describes aging as not an arc where we are born, we peak, and then decline; but like a staircase that she describes this way: “In all the ways that really matter- our heart, our soul, our spirit- wisdom can ascend.” Lifefulness is our ascension, the journey upward of knowing our self and our heart’s desire more intimately.
My greatest teacher has always been my husband. He is 17 years older than me and has always been just out in front of me on this path. When I met him I was just 20 and we would talk about life and its journey. My twenty year old self was convinced that I knew it all or could learn by watching others navigate their way through the wilderness. I remember him clearly, chuckling at me, saying wait and see. As the decades have passed I have come to understand his lessons and appreciate the lifefulness that he immerses himself in. He has a zest for life that has never wavered, a knowing that life is to be lived right now, in this moment, and cherished for the gift that it is. He has one of the youngest, most lifeful spirits I know.
As I learn to make my own way through this journey, I am so grateful for the Elders that have taught me all the pitfalls to look out for. Those that have embraced lifefulness know that we are all growing and learning and making our own path. They know better than to tell us how it’s done, they just give us the tools to light the way where we need it and pray that we will join them when we are done. They know we are all going to the same place and that fighting that inevitability does not serve us. The only way to serve the gift that we have been blessed with is with gratitude and a full and open heart. One of my greatest blessings in remembering to embrace Lifefulness and be thankful for everything I have is Louie Schwartzberg’s beautiful and mesmerizing film, Gratitude. It has become a prayer for me and if you ever need a lesson in how to practice Lifefulness, start right there.
As you lay down tonight to go to sleep, think about how you have lived your life so far. Have you been lifeful in your approach to living? Isn’t this really the secret to aging? Aging and youthfulness don’t matter at all; all that really matters is that you are lifeful. Make a promise to yourself to start again tomorrow; lifefulness can start whenever you choose it and is always ready to serve you when you are ready to serve it.
So, I have a confession to make. Yesterday, I saw a twitter exchange that made me blind with jealousy. In fact, the jealousy that I felt was so strong; I couldn’t catch my breath for a minute. I was shocked by how I felt because I can’t remember ever feeling that way before. Thinking back about it now, I don’t remember a single instance of it. As the feelings overwhelmed me, I thought about firing off some quip or silly or even cutting response, but luckily, I paused and came to my senses.
Somewhere, deep inside me, I remembered Jill Bolte Taylor’s lesson that whatever emotion you are feeling transverses your body in about 90 seconds and that after that, all that is left is the thoughts and remembrance of that 90 second experience. So, I let that rage, hurt, pain, and jealousy have its course and it consumed me for that minute and a half. And, oh, how I relished those feelings, embracing all the ugly, base, lowness of them. Then, I took a deep breath and went still.
For about five minutes, I sat and calmed and quieted my mind and let every negative emotion go. I realized that I was afraid of those feelings and that side of myself and that, in the past when I have had them, I have stuffed them with something, usually food or denial. It was incredibly freeing to just give myself that 90 seconds to go where I needed to go and feel what I need to feel. It was also freeing to not react to the feelings, but to just FEEL them; not hide them away or react in anger or fear; just observe them running their course and know once the emotion was gone, I could look at them clearly and not let them control me.
After the five minutes, and feeling very calm and free, I called my husband and told him I had had a crazy fit of jealousy and it had freaked me out a little bit. I told him about the exchange and what I had felt and we discussed why we thought I had felt that way. What we figured out was that I had coveted what was going on in the exchange and I had been jealous that someone was receiving something that I wanted. So, after more discussion, I was able to channel some of those negative emotions into a life lesson that will further me along my journey of transition.
I know I am ready to move onto something different from what I’ve been doing for the last twenty three years. In fact, last May, after seeing the movie I AM, I had an epiphany that further focused that vision. I made the decision that I was going to take the next few years to get myself moving toward what I am going to do next. What has been harder to figure out, is just what my next chapter is going to look like. In the last year, I have learned many lessons and gone on many adventures, but the future has still been foggy and my vision has not been clear. That moment of jealousy, because I was present enough to feel it then examine it, gave me a glimpse of what I wanted. I want a future that looks something like what that exchange looked like and my jealously actually served me by letting me see it.
Many philosophers have said that you manifest what you need in your life; that you need to examine the things that make you angry, fearful or jealous because that is also a part of you. What I realized by that encounter was that often when negative emotions came up, I pushed them away thinking they represented something that didn’t serve me, but of course, everything is here to serve you, even seeing a side of yourself you don’t particular like. That 90 seconds was there to bring my calling into clarity, to bring forth the fire I needed to get motivated and focused.
What have you dismissed, rejected, or ignored because you didn’t like how it made you feel? How many times have you reacted in anger, fear, or jealousy without looking at WHY those feelings were brought to the surface? How often have you buried a part of yourself that came roaring forward because that wasn’t the image you wanted to believe about yourself or show the world? Embrace those 90 seconds, feel them fully without judgment, then get still and figure out how they are here to serve you. Then get about the business of serving them and live a more authentic life.
Do you remember the story your mother always tells everyone about when you were four years old? It was your first day of preschool and the school had a bus that came and picked up the kids. That day, all the other little kids were at the bus stop clinging to their mother’s knees crying. You wouldn’t even let your mom come to the stop. You said, “I can do this mom. You don’t have to come with me!” Most of the other moms had to walk their kids onto the bus, but not you, you never even looked back to see if mom was watching from the window. You weren’t afraid, just excited about the new adventure and you knew you could handle whatever the new experience dished out. Don’t forget that girl and her fearlessness because she will serve you your whole life. One of your greatest strengths is knowing you will be able to handle whatever comes your way.
I’m sorry your childhood was so hard. There were so many times you felt alone and unwanted, but you always knew it wouldn’t stay that way forever. Thank you for always believing that life was bright and beautiful even when your immediate circumstances told you otherwise. Life IS bright and beautiful even when the skies look stormy and gray. I always remember you with a big smile on your face even in the hardest times. I am so proud of that resilience of spirit in you!
You are about to embark on a wild ride. You have been hired, at just 20 years old, for a job that is going to change the trajectory of your life. It will be challenging and require a lot of changes. Sometimes the changes will be really hard, but remember that four year old girl and walk fearlessly into the opportunities. You will never regret the times you said yes to challenges, but you may regret some of the nos.
Too many times people have tried to dim your light. I can’t explain why people do that to others, it’s still a mystery to me, but don’t let them get to you. It’s wasted time and energy to try to placate them or change them; just keep moving forward because you know who you are. Let the toxic people go, you can’t fix them, and they want their toxicity cleansed by the brightness of your light. That is not your purpose here. Your purpose is to serve others by living your truth and helping others live theirs. You can’t do it for them.
You have already experienced many people trying to trample on your dreams. You never let it stop you and you shouldn’t change that now. Just keep dreaming and believing in yourself because there will come a time when those efforts will be rewarded with blessings beyond anything you can imagine. Don’t hide your brilliance! You are smart and talented and you should honor those gifts that the Universe bestowed on you. Who cares if it intimidates some people or makes them covet some of the things you worked your butt off to achieve? Don’t let them change you or diminish you or make you shrink into the shadows, that’s not where you belong!
You will have many people come into your life that are tremendous blessings to you, don’t forget about them and honor how they contribute to your life. For as many tough things you have had to endure, blessings have been rained down upon you tenfold. Honor those blessings with gratitude and service and they will continue to multiply into your life.
Many, many men have let you down and sometimes you worry if you are lovable, but a tiny spark of wisdom inside of you knows you deserve the love of a great man. You will find him and when you do, you will know it. Your journey together will be an epic story and the life and family you build with him will be your proudest achievement. It won’t be perfection, there will be bumps and hurdles to overcome; but you will weather every storm together, as a great team, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. You will learn to navigate love together and realize love is about commitment and steadfastness even when things are hard and seem bleak. Both of you will be so proud that you stuck together through everything.
Your children, oh how those little humans will fill your life with joy, happiness, and blessings! They will heal every wound with their love and acceptance! You will know that every single thing you went through in your past was worth just one day of your life with them. As they grow and come into themselves, you will be in awe every day by their gifts and be grateful that they chose you to share their story with. Honor their soul stories and songs and you will never go wrong. Remember that they are gifts and the only way to repay that gift is to love them well and true.
My best advice to give you is to honor your bliss. Trust yourself, you know who you are and where you come from. Your grandmothers were great visionaries, who lived fearless and fully and took risks. They were way ahead of their time. Your mother will learn a lot about being a woman just by watching you grow and learn. Your daughters will teach you more about yourself than you ever thought possible. Your husband and sons will teach you the ultimate gift of giving love to and receiving love from strong men.
Keep learning and keep growing. Life is not a destination reached on some distant horizon it is a Universal Encounter with connections to everything you were, are and will be. The best way to live? Fully and fearlessly, just like how you started. Stay true to that four year old girl always, she’s got it figured out already.
My son adored my mother, who was a handful, believe me. She was from Liverpool, which I believe explains all of her most annoying, argumentative tendencies. (I attend twelve-step meetings for the children of the English.) Her real name was Dorothy, which she hated, and when her father died…
Here is my post in The Whirling Blog about discovering the Gift of Autism.
Thanks to the power of the internet, we are able to get more and more access to uplifting, inspiring content from all the great thought leaders of the world. The truth is, there is more good content out there then we could ever possibly ingest. If we spent all day, every day just immersing ourselves in all the worthy media we found, we still couldn’t finish it all and as the internet grows and spreads that will only become truer for us. But there is another truth that we have to learn in order to fulfill our purpose for being here and the truth is this: we can’t just spend all our time being inspired; we have to be inspiring ourselves.
There is definitely a shift in consciousness taking place and most of us are searching for what our purpose in this new era is going to be. Part of the search is to study, read, and learn from the masters that have paved the way for us. Their words and lessons fill us up and shake the dust off of our inspiration muscles. The problem is that if we aren’t careful we can get stuck right there. It feels good to see what others are doing well and it is inspiring to see others living their purpose and uplifting the world. It would be very easy to just sit back and enjoy the show that others are providing and stay in the comfortable seats at the front of the stage.
Changing takes courage. Living your purpose takes faith and overcoming your fears. The world will never really overcome its problems if we don’t all choose to get up and get about the business of DOING. DO the thing that you love, make the leap of faith into the unknown; ask for what you need and go get it! Receive the blessings that you were put here to discover. You have written your new story, but have you started to live it yet? The living of it will empower others to get started themselves.
The only way that we are going to get rid of the darkness in the world is to light our own candle and share that light with others. There are a lot of candles all around the world that have been lit to guide us and they have shared that source of energy with us, but it is our responsibility to add fuel to that light, protect it from the harsh wind and rain, and light the way for others. How have you lit the fire of inspiration for the world today? How have you served the light energy that is fueling this new consciousness? Don’t just bask in the glow of others’ flames, ignite your own and pay it forward. Be an inspiration to the world. Start right now!
a kindred spirit, perhaps—
within a semi-circle of lions, bravery is tried;
being as you are a rebellion locked in itself,
a won’t-be-put-down fighter,
and somehow willing, under sky-scraper weights
to stand for yourself; miraculous.
as you yearn and you dream with your feet
firmly rooted on the ground.
an ungodly manifestation of impossible hope—
you grasp it tightly, with eager fingers,
and keen, earthy eyes,
ready to take on all the world can throw.
elegant, pure, natural artistry
something only true creators
may ever achieve.
a stranger, perhaps—
trotting across snow interlaid with dancing cracks of ice;
isolation and fear as crippling as the cold.
but a fire, flames sharp, seeking
and powerful as a bear’s,
flooded with heat,
it is an intrinsic connection
between the glowing city lights
and soul; not to be bold, but
it seems as though the angels of old
cast you into an ocean of beauty
and possibilities to behold.
as the winter journey fades
and the summer travel grows,
the ashes of the blazing fire
birth a phoenix
never to die—
infinitely flying in glory
its passive, angry ashes
never to show.
I had the tremendous honor and pleasure to attend Oprah’s Lifeclass in NYC yesterday. In addition to knowing that the Lifeclass episodes would be soul expanding and full of opportunities for growth and discovery; a huge highlight was that I was also going to be able to meet some of my closest Twitter friends and solidify the bonds cast over 140 characters.
Even as I forged each new friendship over the last few months, a part of me wondered if what I thought I was feeling from these internet connections was real. Were these people truly some of the best, most uplifting friends I had every made or was I just projecting these feelings from something not really there? Well, over the past few days I got to meet many of them and I can tell you the connections and energy that I felt over the web were just a fraction of what I experienced in person. Each and every one was full of gratitude, blessings, and inspiration and I was blown away by our bond.
At dinner, on two different nights, we shared our Oprah stories and our life stories and we all felt the threads of connection that Oprah had brought to the table. Her presence was so palpable it was like she shared in the experience with us. As we talked, I experienced a deeply profound Aha moment that defines why I am here and why I do what I do.
The Oprah Winfrey Show was a “looking forward and looking inward” experience. We watched the stories, gleaned some insight or inspiration from the lessons it offered and used them to empower ourselves to be better and live our best life. As we watched, we were all tuned in to OPRAH. We admired HER and HER vision, values, and message. We were all viewers tuned into a show that inspired us and we were inspired by Oprah and what she meant to us.
OWN is a completely different experience. OWN isn’t Oprah standing on her own, but us standing with her. It is a “looking around and looking outward” experience. We live our best life by sharing, by pulling others forward, by being pulled forward ourselves and by standing shoulder to shoulder with one another. We have formed an OWN community, not based on our admiration for Oprah but on our connections to each other. We have a shared vision that encompasses and elevates us all. We are part of the collective consciousness in a way that is different than anything that has been here before because we are participants in the Collective.
Oprah is a master teacher and OWN is her greatest new lesson. In stepping out of her comfort zone and into this new area of vulnerability for herself, she has empowered us to be more than just adoring students with our favorite teacher, but powerful teachers ourselves. We are not just on those couches anymore with her, but out in the world, teaching and participating alongside her, spreading our own light and touching one another with our vision. It takes an incredible human being to lay their blessings before us and offer themselves not as Master but as an equal. She stepped off her stage and into the audience with us. That is exactly why she is the teacher she is and why we love her so much.
Iyanla Vanzant brought us all closer to our innate goodness on Monday night during the premiere of Oprah’s Lifeclass on OWN. She brought Steve, a broken soul, who had suffered with drug addiction and then feelings of worthlessness for years. As Steve walked up onto the stage, everyone around the world watching stood up in solidarity to show their support for all he was trying to become and overcome. We all watched as Iyanla took him in, opened his wounds and helped him heal.
The lesson that brought the light of life back into his eyes was when Iyanla made him see that he had replaced his drug addiction with an addiction to his story of not being enough. He had become addicted to staying beat down, staying on the bottom and not thriving. We all witnessed the AHA moment and saw Steve Get It. At that moment he didn’t need us to stand with him anymore because, for the first time, he was standing for himself.
My fifteen year old daughter and I watched mesmerized by the transformation. We both looked at each other and knew that all of us watching were changed. Rachel looked at me and asked if she was addicted to her own story. I remembered Eckart Tolle’s words from The New Earth classes with Oprah. He said that the awareness of the fact that you might not be present was one of the biggest turning points to becoming so. Rachel and I talked for a long time about some of the stories she may be telling herself and some of the ways she could stay present and in the Now.
When she went up to bed after we were done, I sat stunned about the lessons we had taken away from the night. We were healed by watching a television show. My daughter will always walk differently through the world because she witnessed that transformation. She will think about being present each time she starts to tell her story. I can’t imagine how much fuller and more abundant her life will be because she learned to not be addicted to her story at just fifteen years old. I can’t describe how grateful I am to Iyanla for the lesson and to Oprah for caring enough about each and every one of us to try to help us make ourselves whole.