Category Archives: World Domination Summit

Wishcasting Wednesday

from Jamie's post

image from Jamie’s post

This week Jamie asks, “What sign from the Universe do you wish for?” I’ve thought about this, contemplated it all morning and into the afternoon. It’s harder to answer than it might have been even just a few months ago. Is it because I don’t feel particularly confused? Is it because I don’t have any big decisions facing me? Or is it because I am in communication with the Universe, feel like it’s sending me messages and signs all the time?

The dance between confusion and clarity was the theme of my morning practice on this particular day, before I even saw the wishcast prompt. World Domination Summit (WDS) tickets went on sale this morning and I knew I’d be feeling the tug, the “I want one! I want to go! Should I go?,” especially when I started to see all the cool kids posting that they’d purchased theirs.

But I already knew I wasn’t going, had decided, got clear about that a long time ago, and no good would come of trying to force it to fit, from pushing myself to make it work. And yet, this morning I looked up the date for the July intensive weekend for my upcoming yoga teacher training, silently wishing it fell on the exact same weekend, giving me a clear sign that I was meant for other things, that my path was going another direction. I checked, and WDS is the weekend just before that intensive, the weekend we’ll be driving back to Colorado from “our” beach house in Oregon. That was close enough for me. I had wanted a sign in blinking neon, confetti and balloons and a big “ta-da!” but the message was clear even without — “not this, THAT.”

I knew before I looked that Jamie’s prompt would somehow be related to that choice. I have this sense of things recently, a deep knowing and complete trust that I am being guided, helped, supported. Things happen all the time that feel like I have a built in GPS, a guidance system always pointing me towards the truth. Before I meditated or did my writing practice, I pulled a card from my tarot deck, like I’ve been doing each morning. It was the 5 of Wands,

Scattered, Lack of Focus, Lost…a card of conflict. You may find yourself scattered, distracted, tending to everything and nothing. Since wands deal with our dreams & goals, it usually means this conflict resides within. Your energy moves outward in many directions, yet you are suffering inside. Take this card as a warning: find ways to bring calm and focus to your mind or these troubles will only increase.

This weekend is the second annual Open Heart Project virtual retreat. Susan has scheduled in, as she does, time for creativity and for rest, relaxation, along with meditation and dharma talks. I had started negotiating with myself this morning, that blogging would count as creativity, or that I could skip resting to get done what needed done, that I didn’t need to do the full retreat, but then I pulled the 5 of Wands and it was clear to me that I needed to commit, that not doing so wasn’t even an option. I had received a warning directly from the Universe that I needed to “find ways to bring calm and focus” to my mind, or else.

So it isn’t so much “What sign from the Universe do you wish for?,” not wishing but rather pure gratitude that I’m feeling towards the Universe today, so thankful to be helped, to be given the gentlest of nudges in the right direction, the most compassionate reminders. And yet if I could wish for one sign, I would wish that for the fourth time, the Universe make sure the right dog finds us, that when we finally start looking for real, are ready, that the Universe make it clear which one is for us, which one needs us as much as we need him (even if it’s a her).

And P.S. Dear Universe, please make this one a cuddler, full of joy like Dexter was and full of love like Obi was, and one that will adore Sam as much as we do.

Self-Compassion Saturday: Kerilyn Russo

I am one of the searchers.

There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know – unless it be to share our laughter. ~James Kavanaugh

There are some people that when you meet them for the first time, you feel like you’ve always known them. You are comfortable right away, love them immediately. For me, one of those people is Kerilyn Russo. When I was at World Domination Summit (WDS) last year, sitting with Rachel Cole during a break between sessions, this woman came up to greet Rachel. They clearly already knew each other, and Rachel turned to me and said, “you two need to meet, should know each other.”

But somehow I already knew Kerilyn. As Rachel introduced us, and I looked at that big smile and those dimples, a feeling overwhelmed me, a sense of “There you are! Where have you been? I’ve been waiting, looking for you!” I felt so happy, so relieved, like I might cry. It was the strangest, best thing. We didn’t get to spend nearly enough time together that weekend, but I kept running into her, and every time I had that same feeling of “there you are!” and that sense of an immediate, easy connection.

Since then, Kerilyn and I have been able to stay in touch. We’ve Skyped in our bathrobes, talked on the phone about deep and important things, became pen pals (regular snail mail, just like we were 12 years old again). She is the best kind of friend, helping me to go deeper, asking the best kinds of questions, but also making me smile and laugh until my face hurts. I absolutely adore her. Her smile is one of the best things on earth.

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Kerilyn describes herself this way, as a wife, friend, sister, and sensitive soul, (add to that mother-to-be, yay!). Interior Designer by day. Creator/Certified Life Coach of Married to a Chef, student of A Course in Miracles, lover of Reggae music, amateur Greeting Card Designer, novice photographer, Highly Sensitive Person, Searcher, and swimmer of the deep. You can read more about what she’d say about herself in her first post for Roots of She, Stand out: Meet Kerilyn Russo and see the power of stepping into your true role, or on her Who Am I? page on her website, Ancora Imparo, (which means “I am still learning” in Italian). I am so excited to share her perspective on self-compassion with you today.

1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?

Self compassion, from where I stand TODAY… is the continual process of forgiving ourselves (and others) for what we THINK we/they did to us, them… and the world. We have forgotten who we REALLY are (UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE) and self compassion (or RADICAL self forgiveness) is a TOOL to remembering our TRUE state. When we unconditionally forgive and accept ourselves and those around us (much harder than we think, which is why it’s so hard to maintain a feeling of self compassion)… we are remembering who we REALLY are and in that, our divinity.

kerilynlake2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?

What an exciting question! I love this one! My view of self-compassion has evolved as I have evolved and if it’s okay with you, I am happy to share a little bit of how it has changed along the way.

As I began my spiritual (not religious) journey (hee hee, how many of us have said that?), I was eager and hungry to attempt to understand how the WORLD worked… what made it tick, underneath it all. The seen and the unseen. I soaked up books on energy, reincarnation, and spirit as a way of understanding what was happening TO ME in my life. Still at this point, it wasn’t about how I had a part to play in it… it was like I was sitting in a theater… watching the movie about how the world worked, without my awareness of how I am a full blown contributor to it. I was unconscious to how my thoughts and actions toward myself was a reflection of what I saw. I think my former organized religion conditioned beliefs about how it was out of my control still had it’s grip on me, and while I was aware there was more to this than just praying to God and going to church, I was still unknowing of how my participation had to do with what I saw in my life. HOW could I have self compassion at this point in my journey, when I still believed that the world was happening TO me, not because of me. The limiting beliefs that doing anything for myself was selfish and how dare I believe the world, still revolved around me. This was challenging because it didn’t sit right with me, but I forged on… STILL feeling like I was still missing something.

kerilynseeker

When The Secret and Abraham (Jerry & Esther Hicks) came my way. Blew the lid off of that I had nothing to do with my outcome. I heard “As you think, so shall you be.” And I was spiritually in shock for a while. WHAT? I have something to do with how my life looks? I am ultimately responsible?? As I got swept away in the loving current of this new philosophy… I was still quite unsure as to HOW to REMEMBER that it’s TOTALLY in my control. It starts with how I FEEL. How I feel includes feeling good about HOW I feel about myself and the predicaments I find myself in my life. When I remembered this, I felt wonderful and when I didn’t, I went back to that old thinking that it was outside of my control. (Those old beliefs really do have a hold on us… wouldn’t you agree?) STILL… I felt there was still something MORE to this. These beliefs filled me up, absolutely, but they didn’t answer the question about WHY the world (and still myself) were constantly in conflict, so I kept searching…

Kerilyn's sweet kitty, Pez

Kerilyn’s sweet kitty, Pez

Not too long after that, I found A Course in Miracles and all my questions have since been answered (even in my resistance of them). As I became a serious student of the Course, I began to learn that there are NO answers outside of myself. “Seek Not outside yourself” is still one of the most powerful messages of the Course for me. It is ALL about me. The OPPOSITE of what I’ve been taught at an earlier part of my journey. It is ALL about my perceptions of what I see, my projections of my OWN inner thoughts and feelings, is what I see in my experience, the role RADICAL forgiveness plays and the process of UN-learning we all must do to heal ourselves, and experience TRUE love, which the Course says is all there is.

Based on the Courses teachings, we have not been taught love, but attack. The ego (the part of us that wants us to believe we’re separate from everyone and everything else) has us brainwashed with thoughts of self hatred to keep us believing we’re separate from everyone else. SPECIAL. Attack with everyone we see (whether we’re aware of it or not) and everything we think… that includes our thoughts about ourselves.

NO WONDER we cannot sustain self compassion for long, we’ve been believing that we are not worth UNITY with anyone or anything, including ourselves. It’s this belief that keeps us in that feast or famine vicious cycle. *Secret: To keep us believing we’re separate, the ego has to give us good experiences (FEAST) to keep the pendulum of duality (GOOD AND BAD) in motion.

That is where you will find me. In the process of UN-learning those old messages, infusing them with a practice of RADICAL Forgiveness that even I cannot even fully grasp at this time, facing my resistance and regularly in forgiveness when I attack my brothers, and more importantly, myself.

Picture by Kerilyn, taken in Savannah, GA

Picture by Kerilyn, taken in Savannah, GA

3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?

Self compassion (or what I call RADICAL forgiveness) is just that… a practice. It’s a TOOL. I pick it up and use it when I need remember that have a CHOICE to make… continue to feel yucky, continue to not understand, continue to believe in my victimization OR to live from another way of being. It’s totally up to me. Maybe one day I have to pick it up a handful of times, and maybe other days I have to CONSTANTLY be picking it up, hundreds of times a day. To ask myself, “Do I want to be RIGHT, or do I want to be HAPPY?” Challenging those beliefs of separation and lack and remembering my natural state of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. At this point in our evolution, we are not able to LIVE in that state of radical forgiveness (which is okay) but for me, I know it’s at my fingertips… whenever I REALLY want to understand why I am feeling, the way I’m feeling. *Oh, and If I don’t REALLY want to understand, that’s okay too… I’ll want to forgive myself for not wanting to understand and keep on moving forward. Again, it’s a CONTINUAL practice of forgiveness.

Oh, and how do I practice self compassion? Easy. I am constantly forgiving myself. Forgiving myself when I judge another to be wrong, when I judge myself as less than… and judge the world for what I see as “bad”. Practicing self compassion is saying “I forgive myself, for I know not what I see/do.” over and over again.

Why don’t you try it now… Forgive yourself for something you THINK you or someone else did today. Forgive them or yourself in your MIND. That’s all. No need for an outwardly expression of forgiveness. Go inside and FORGIVE. *And if you find it too hard to forgive… that’s okay… forgive yourself for not being able to forgive. Let yourself or someone else off the hook today.

Kerilyn and Peter at their wedding

Kerilyn and Peter at their wedding, (read more about their love story)

4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?

Oh my goodness… What do I still need to learn? That my shift in perception (from conflict to peace) is a reflection of how often I practice. Practice a little, get little results. Let this philosophy fold into my day and I am able to be happier, more at peace. It’s about CONSTANTLY practicing. Why don’t I constantly practice? Because I think I’m here in this world, this dream, ALONE. That I can “do it” myself. I need to learn that I am not and CANNOT do anything alone. (Remember the EGO has done a doosy on us, having us think we’re SEPARATE and therefore ALONE.)

I struggle with my resistance to really KNOWING this information to be true. We have been brainwashed a LONG time.. and I still have quite a bit of resistance toward unlearning. There are days when I want to seek for my specialness.. where I would rather be RIGHT than happy… where I feel where I have been wronged… and in that awareness I need to remember that I can always choose differently.. whenever I am ready to. The option is ALWAYS there for me, it’s a matter of my little willingness.

kerilynI am so grateful for Kerilyn, for her responses, (especially what she had to say about forgiveness), for her support and friendship and wisdom, her constant effort and curiosity and sense of humor, her big heart and big smile. To find out more about Kerilyn, to connect with her:

Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Rachel Cole.

P.S. If you didn’t see the first post in this series, you might want to read Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning.

Self-Compassion Saturday: Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

Today is the first official day of the World Domination Summit, (WDS). I am trying not to be jealous or feel sad when I look at all the pictures and updates being posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It’s kind of like having to stay home from summer camp or missing a school field trip because you are sick, knowing how much fun everyone is having, feeling a little left out and sorry for yourself. And yet, I know it was the right thing for me to not go this year, that Dexter needed me here, that I need the time to grieve his loss, (and besides, I spent so much money on it last year, I really couldn’t justify spending more, again, so soon).

One of the best things about WDS is the people you meet, the connections you make with those who are doing similar work and have similar ideas, who share your intentions and your experience. Last year at WDS, I was lucky enough to meet Anne-Sophie Reinhardt. Without planning to, we kept running into each other over the course of the weekend, sitting together and talking about the things we had in common. I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with her. She has the biggest heart, makes you feel immediately safe and at ease, and she has the best smile, the greatest laugh.

annesophiewds2013

Anne-Sophie in a WDS hammock, 2013

Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is a body image expert, self-love advocate and the author of Love Your Body The Way It Is. Join her newsletter and receive your free 3-part video series helping you to break free from your obsession with food and your body. On her website’s about page she says,

For the longest time, I was caught in a circle of self-doubt and self-loathing. Now, I’m free, confident and happy with myself and my body. My mission is to help you achieve the same.

And,

I write on, teach and live self-love and body-love. Sometimes, I even breathe it … I believe that every single woman can find peace around food and her body. I dream of creating a world where women love themselves unabashedly, completely and guiltlessly.

I am so grateful for the work Anne-Sophie is doing, the difference she is making, to me and in the world. And I am so happy to be able to share her perspective on self-compassion with you today.

annesophie

1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?

To me, self-compassion means having a binge and not beating yourself up. It means looking in the mirror and saying to yourself: Yes, love, your stomach isn’t perfect, but I love you anyway. It means laughing when you make a mistake instead of going into self-attack and it means responding to your ever-present critic in the head with a loud and clear “Fuck You”.

Self-compassion is a skill that every woman can learn. It’s a process that you commit to and once you decide to go from self-attacking mode to self-compassionate mode, your life completely changes.

Self-compassion helps to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. It’s the elixir of self-care and the golden heart of a self-loving person.

Self-compassion also means taking a bath at the end of a hard day, learning to say no when you’re exhausted and hell yes when something really exciting. Self-compassion doesn’t always feel good to you but it’s always good for you.

2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?

Big question. I think that I’m still very much on the path to learning self-compassion. I never had a specific teacher or even a guru, but through my recovery from anorexia, I’ve read a lot, sat in meditation for days, tried, failed and tried again. I’ve learned to first not act on the constant critic’s advice and then I learned to respond to it in a different way. There were days when it was easy not to be so very hard on myself and there were and still are many days, where WWIII is happening in my body and mind.

Two steps forward. One step back.

That’s reality, life and a true self-loving path. If you can accept that, truly accept it, then you’re one step closer to a wholly self-compassionate life.

3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?

My number one way of showing self-compassion is to nourish my body with healthful, delicious food. I’ve been negating myself food for 14 years and it’s still my weakness. Another way to practice self-compassion is meditation. For about 8 months, I’ve been meditating every morning instead of running to the computer and letting the craziness of the day into my world. This lets me start my day with deep introspection and I always feel more balanced, which leads to being kinder to myself.  I often treat myself to a mani/pedi when I’m in a big self-attack mode or I simply go for a walk in nature, which never fails to ground me and helps me to see what’s really important. Also, when I had a fight with a loved one or I’ve made a mistake, I am kinder with myself as I used to be. It takes presence and practice in those moments, but the more often I do it the more intuitive a self-compassionate response gets.

4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?

Lots of things. How to not be so hard on myself when my business doesn’t do as well as I’d like it to go. How to be at peace even when I can’t work out for a few days. How to be present and grateful for being myself instead of always looking for the future. I still need to understand what complete peace of mind feels like, but I trust the process and I know that one day soon, I’ll know or I won’t. Either way, I’ll be more grounded, happier and kinder to myself and others.

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I am so grateful for Anne-Sophie, for her responses — so genuine, just like her. I love how she described self-compassion as “the golden heart of a self-loving person.” To find out more about Anne-Sopie, to connect with her:

Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Susan Piver.

P.S. If you didn’t see the first post in this series, you might want to read Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning.

Freedom, an Update

freedomthanksgivingcrow

The secret to happiness is freedom. And the secret to freedom is courage. ~Thucydides

Independence Day in the U.S. seems like a good day to check in about how I’m doing with the guiding word I chose for 2013: Freedom. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much has changed in a year. People in my online community are posting about their preparations for World Domination Summit (WDS), which is this weekend. This event is the one year anniversary of Dexter’s first cancer symptoms, a reverse sneeze and bloody nose. I was at WDS and Eric was at “our house” in Waldport with the dogs. He didn’t tell me what had happened because he knew I’d worry, maybe even want to leave the event early.

His first thought was cancer, he could hardly help it after what happened to our Obi, but Dexter wouldn’t be diagnosed for another month, and even then it was “we aren’t 100% sure, but all the symptoms indicate a fatal nasal tumor.” We were told we’d only have 2-3 months with him, but we had almost a whole year, made it within a week of that anniversary.

peacefeet

My experience of freedom right now is strange, mixed, complicated.
Yes, I am free from Dexter’s cancer (as is he), released from the worry and the anxiety and the caretaking; and yet that freedom also means a direct and powerful relationship with grief, loss, and sadness, which doesn’t exactly feel free. In terms of my disordered eating, I have a kind hearted and experienced therapist to help me work through it, let it go, be free from it, but that’s clearly going to be harder than I thought. I have a list of almost 20 reasons I do what I do, which create a resistance to letting go of the behavior, freeing myself from this way of being.

Another form of freedom I long for is from my paid work, so I can devote myself fully to my heart’s work. One friend, a trained coach, helped me see I’m at a 10 now and that my ideal is a 5, (in terms of what I do, the effort involved), and another helped me to see the easiest and maybe only way for me to get from 10 to 5 would be to give up my paid work. And yet, that’s so difficult, and not an immediate option, so that particular freedom has to wait.

Fear is the cage, love is the key.

heartfeet

When I described how I wanted to experience freedom, I used words like simplicity, space, ease, surrender, clarity, and openness. Some of this is certainly happening, even around the places I feel stuck.

  • I’m decluttering my work space, creating a place at home that honors what I am truly doing, simple and clear.
  • I’m clear about the next steps in my “escape plan,” what I should be focusing on in my heart’s work. Sometimes this is about having a specific goal and working towards it, and other times it is about surrendering to the process, allowing what shows up, being open to mystery and magic, even mayhem.
  • I socialize less and less, and the things I commit to are what truly feed me, providing inspiration and comfort and joy, move me forward or help me “stay in my seat.”
  • Even thought I’m stuck in some places, I have so much more clarity about why, can see and understand what I’m really doing, what I’m getting out of it, and I forgive myself.
  • Losing Dexter was so hard, but I surrendered to that experience, stayed open and present, still am.
  • My body continues to ask for more rest, and I’m doing my best to provide it, to keep a more gentle pace, to seek out ease.

It’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for that is freedom—freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human. ~Pema Chödrön

Reverb12: Day Two

reverb12Again, I am answering many prompts, from the various Reverb lists. I might not be able to keep that up, but for now I’m having such a good time, having so much fun with the process–answering all the prompts!

Limits

The full prompt is: “We often learn our limits the hard way. Were there any limits you realized this past year? Alternately, what self-imposed limits were you able to move beyond this year? (Author: Carolyn Rubenstein).”

I definitely felt limited by time and energy. This is an ongoing, lingering issue. I try to be really smart about what I commit to, what I say yes to–it has to be “hell yeah” or I say no. I work to to stay away from energy vampires, time monsters and shadow comforts. I have to keep a close eye on my physical limitations, my energy level and available strength, my body’s capacity for whatever activity it might be.

The self-imposed limits, (besides the ones that are setting reasonable restrictions intended to protect my health and wellbeing), are my beliefs about what is possible, what I’m capable of, my worth and my value. I spent so much time waiting for permission to participate, thinking that the gatekeepers would let me in eventually, that the party planners would send me my invite, that I’d finally earn my certification, my entry into the guild, that the project, my thing, would fall out of the sky fully formed. Then I realized, if I wanted something to happen, I needed to stop waiting and happen.

Help

The full prompt is: Asking for help can be the hardest thing we ever do. When and how did you ask for help? Alternatively, did someone ask you for help, and how did it play out for you?

This year, I realized that one of my superpowers is generosity, I love to help, want nothing more than to ease suffering in the world. With organizations like Kickstarter, Kiva, and Charity:Water (my birthday campaign runs for 28 more days, if you have any interest in helping me raise some money–100% of your donation directly funds clean water projects in developing nations), it was even easier to find ways to help those who needed it. I gave my cousin the $100 I got at the World Domination Summit to help her fund charity work she hopes to do in the near future, I helped John F. Ptak get the cancer surgery he needed, I regularly give to my local dog rescue and meditation center, and I helped save our local independent theater. In return for that last donation, I got to make a slide that is currently playing while people sit and wait for their movie to start.

lyricslidefinal

Writing

The full prompt is: What piece of writing are you most proud of from 2012? How does this piece differ from your other pieces?

This blog, for sure, is the writing I am most proud of from this past year. The fact that I kept at it, that I have continued to show up, have been open and authentic in my posts, that there are kind and gentle souls reading, sharing and connecting with me. I have loved everything about it. The other writing I’ve done that I feel especially good about has the same quality, of being wild and real and on purpose, not fake, not trying to get you to like me, but telling the truth–beautiful and brutal, tender and terrible.

Two Final prompts so related, they had to be combined for one single answer

Part one: What was your most significant expenditure in 2012? It doesn’t have to be necessarily the biggest expenditure, just the one with the most impact. What difference has it made to your life?

Part two: What was the most memorable gathering you attended (or held) in 2012?

Answer for both: World Domination Summit. It cost me a lot of money–plane ticket, summit admission, car and hotel room rental, food. It was expensive, more than I would normally spend on myself, but it was so worth it. I met so many amazing people, some I already knew but had never met in person, some I didn’t even know existed until I met them there. I was inspired, overwhelmed, gobsmacked. I have stayed connected with many of them. Just this morning on Skype, I had the most heartwarming, encouraging, spontaneous, fun conversation with someone I met at WDS, felt an instant connection to (seriously, it was one of those moments where you meet a complete stranger and think “there you are, I’ve been looking for you”). I continue to do good work, to plan great work, to make a difference because of the spark of that event, that experience.

Clarity

I’ve been thinking a lot about questions this week. About knowing the right ones to ask, being curious, listening and looking for answers everywhere. One reason is because I have the opportunity to ask a single question of an Intuitive Counselor I met at the World Domination Summit this summer (we talked the whole time about dogs, so I liked her immediately, knew she was some sort of coach, but not the specifics of her work until I looked her up later). I have the chance to get her help in getting clear about something important to me. I am working on the question, trying to carefully craft it, aware that the difference between “how” and “what” in a case like this can be enormous, and not wanting to be like one of those people in those old stories who are granted three wishes and completely screw it up, wasting the whole lot of them because they don’t word them wisely.

I’ve talked before about how I love divination, intuition, auspicious concidence, serendipity: a chance meeting, an unexpected connection, a feather in my path, a heart-shaped rock, picking a random line from a sacred text, tarot readings, throwing I-Ching coins, Hiro Boga’s Deva Cards, dream interpretation, Q-Cards qcasting, or any such oracle through which the universe might send me a message.

As I’ve said before, “Go ahead and think I’m weird, but I believe it’s just one more way to get clear about where I am and what I should be focusing on. I think this is one of the ways the Universe sends me messages, because I open my heart and ask, but even if it’s just a message from my unconscious or random chance that doesn’t really mean anything, I find it a useful tool for gaining some insight on my current situation, whatever that happens to be.”

And this week, Jamie Ridler provided two opportunities for getting clear, for asking the questions. The first was the Full Moon Dreamboard, the Full Frost Moon, which asked “What is clear about your dreams? What further clarity do you seek?” And, on the same day was Wishcasting Wednesday, which asked “What clarity do you wish for?” I didn’t even post about the wishcast, wrote it in my journal instead since I’d already posted that day about my search for clarity and what I’d discovered through my dreamboard practice. I didn’t want to bore you, kind and gentle reader.

But I can’t stop thinking about it, and it keeps coming up. Susan Piver shared with the Open Heart Project Practitioners a collection of questions she’s considering as we move into a new year, I am getting daily Wisdom Notes and prompts from Rachel Cole, and I’m in charge of coming up with a set of questions, contemplations for a collective of courage cultivators I’ll be meeting with in a few weeks. And yesterday I read Kat’s post on I Saw You Dancing, and it was all about seeking clarity, “I’m trying to understand who I am, why I am here, what I am going to do with this one precious life of mine.” What she discovered is

The destination I had reached was, in fact, exactly where I was already standing. And all the stuff that I am meant to do in this life is, in fact, stuff that I am already doing.

I keep bumping up against this idea, that I already am. It was the third truth in my Three Truths and One Wish post this week, “I don’t need to become something else, because I am already.” The comment I left for Kat said how much I loved her post, how she’d described the process,

The rambly abstract brilliant mess of this life we live, where we look and look and search and try and question and run around crazy, only to realize in one moment, in a flash that our feet and our breath are right there, the ground is right there, our heart beats the same rhythm it has from the very beginning.

Kat is hosting Reverb12 during the month of December, and as host she will provide daily prompts that help those of us participating to “reflect on the year that has passed and start to manifest your dreams for the new year.” More specifically, they will be about “celebrating the successes of 2012, honouring the challenges of 2012, and planting the seeds for a rich and rewarding 2013.”

The places I’m currently seeking clarity, where I have questions seem to be all related to obstacles, the things keeping me from living my best, healthiest and most wholehearted life, from fully realizing my dreams. I wish to be clear about working with those who are suffering and confused (both in my personal and work relationships, and with people I don’t even really know), I want to know how I can best help, I would like to understand the specifics of how I might turn my heart’s work into my paid work, I wish to realize how to completely let go of old habits and thought patterns that no longer serve me, I’d like to be clearer about my “thing” (where should I be focusing my time, my attention, my love? do I need further specialization or certification to fully step into my purpose? if so, what?). How to ask all that in the form of a single question is my immediate challenge.

While I understand that I don’t need to change, that I am already worthy and whole just as I am, fundamentally wise and compassionate and awake, and I am already thoroughly in love with my life as it is and full of gratitude for what I have, I’m so curious about what’s going to happen next.

Small Kindnesses

Fiona Robyn is hosting a Small Kindnesses Blogsplash today, (here is a full list of the blogs participating). Her novel Small Kindnesses (the Kindle version) is free today, so she invited others to share their stories. She explains why this way,

Kindness is a Very Good Thing. Even teensy compassionate acts help the world go round. Let’s celebrate these Small Kindnesses

It might be an extra-thoughtful Christmas present you’ve never forgotten, or the unexpected kindness of a stranger, or a small gesture that rescued you from a dark place. It might have happened this week or twenty years ago.

It might be a simple list of the small kindnesses you’ve received this week, or today. It might be a small kindness you’ve been inspired to perform. Follow your inspiration…

Ever since she suggested it and I agreed to take part, I’ve been thinking about it, all the small kindnesses, ones I’ve received and all those I’ve given away, and to be honest, kind and gentle reader, if I think about it for too long, I get completely undone by the overwhelming amount of kindness I’ve witnessed and generated in my lifetime. Sometimes I love us so much, my heart feels like it will break. I could write a thousand posts sharing all the small kindnesses, but I decided to keep it to just two, something old and something new.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. ~Dalai Lama

A Small Kindness from Long Ago and Far Away

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved flowers. From early on, I understood their value as a gift, as a way of showing you loved someone, adored their tender beauty. Our next door neighbors, the sweetest older couple, Mr. and Mrs. Kindred (yes, that was their real name–you can’t make this stuff up), had gorgeous flowers growing just on the other side of our yard. I can’t remember exactly what all they were, but I do remember there were peonies, (whether there actually were or not is irrelevant, I remember them).

One day, at about four years old, I got it in my head that I should pick some flowers for my mom, so I did, pulling them one by one from Mrs. Kindred’s bushes. I was so proud of myself when I offered them to her, and she was horrified. She marched me next door and made me apologize to Mrs. Kindred. Of course, Mrs. Kindred didn’t mind, but she knew my mom was embarrassed and upset so she let me make my apology and reluctantly took the flowers back. However, after that, sometimes when Mrs. Kindred cut flowers, she made sure to make me a bouquet. It made me so happy that she hadn’t been mad at me, and that she remembered how much I loved flowers, that she liked me enough to give me some.

The Kindreds had a gray poodle named Puddles. He (She? it was so long ago I can’t be sure) was one of the first dogs I ever loved, and as far as I remember, s/he loved me too. The other thing I remember is how later, Mrs. Kindred got very sick and weak, and needed extra rest, so she stayed on the couch most days. My mom didn’t want me to bother her, but the Kindreds insisted that they liked me coming over, so I used to go visit her and we’d play board games (or cards, or eat cookies–good stuff). I was too little to understand, but Mrs. Kindred had cancer, and eventually died.

We all just want to be validated, appreciated, seen, loved. Remembering this story also reminds me of something Toni Morrison said on the Oprah show, “Does your face light up when your child enters the room?” because that is how they know that they are loved, how they know what is in your heart. I still remember Mrs. Kindred, her husband, Puddles, and the flowers, and how good it felt the way they smiled at me, how they where always so happy to see me. We all need that, we can all give that, even if it’s as little as smiling at our own reflection in the mirror, (seriously, try it the next time you are looking in one and see if it doesn’t make you feel just a little bit better, maybe even say “I love you. You are amazing, a beautiful, brilliant, glorious mess.”).

A More Recent Small Kindness

This summer, I went to the World Domination Summit, a conference held in Portland, Oregon. I’d first heard about it when Andrea Scher wrote about presenting the first year, A story of Yes. I was so excited (and scared out of my mind) to attend because so many people I had loved from afar, followed and read and taken classes with, were going to be there, giving workshops or speaking or simply attending like me. I would certainly see some of them, and if I could be brave, I might even meet a few.

I had no idea the magic that was actually going to happen because of an act of small kindness. Kelly Rae Roberts and Andrea Scher planned an event at Kelly Rae’s studio to kick off the weekend. So many amazing women were going to be in town, they wanted to get them all together. Andrea (and I’m still not really sure why) invited ME. Imagine, dear reader, that every person you ever wanted to meet were all in the same room together with you–this is exactly what it was like for me walking into the studio that day. It felt like I was in a dream.

I got to meet some of my most favorite women: Jamie Ridler, Courtney Carver, Jennifer Louden, Hannah Marcotti, Flora Bowley, etc. etc. It blew my mind.

come on in and sit down, stay awhile

When I say it’s a small kindness, what I mean is that it didn’t require much effort on Andrea’s part to invite me–she had the thought and sent me an email. And yet, for me it was no small thing. I was no longer pretending to be part of this tribe of women, it wasn’t just me daydreaming, I was physically in a room with them. Yes, I was so freaked out I could barely talk to any of them. Yes, it was kind of like being the math tutor that got invited to the cool kids party, or the sixth grader hanging out with the high school seniors, but I was there, that happened.

Seeing them, being invited, made me understand that my wishes aren’t so wild, that the life I want is possible, that the dream I have is so much closer than I thought. Time and time again, Andrea’s gift to me, her kindness is to expand my idea of what is possible, to inspire me to dream bigger and to have faith in my own superpowers.

P.S. Andrea is having a Cyber Monday Super Sale, only $49 for any of her classes! Just enter the coupon code INSPIRE49, good until midnight tonight.