Fear and veganism

Fear is being afraid of what’s gonna happen in the future. Fear is never about this moment. Jack Kornfield tells a beautiful story (at least I like it) in The Roots of Buddhist Psychology. A man goes camping. He sees footprints of a bear. He gets scared, because he is afraid he’ll be eaten by the bear. He starts worrying, even though he is fine in the moment. Then he sees the bear and starts running, scared of the anticipated pain he’ll feel, if the bear starts eating him. The bear runs after him, and indeed bites him. What the man feels in that moment is pain, hurt like hell, not fear. There is fear, but that  is not about the bite, it is about being eaten alive and dying. Something that might happen in the future. Fear is about an anticipated moment you dread in the future. Pain and hurt are what you feel as you experience this moment.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/60/Vegan_patties_with_potatoes_and_salad.jpgI dreaded holding on to my vegan diet when I went to the Netherlands. I feared non-belonging, critical questions, ridicule as I was eating differently than everyone else. I was afraid I would roll over into eating cheese, butter-filled cookies, and anything else that might contain eggs or dairy, as I soon as I thought my sense of acceptance, belonging, and understanding would not be met.

None of it happened.

My family and friends easily offered me vegan food or accepted me bringing my own dish so I had enough yummy food to eat. To my big surprise my aunt, who I don’t think ever considered veganism, even made a separate dish that completely supported my choices. My family ate my vegan dishes with joy and delight, even though some of it didn’t turn out as yummy as I had hoped. I felt joyful, enthusiastic and excited to offer my compassionate alternative as an invitation to understand how our own happiness and suffering are not separate from the happiness and suffering of animals. I felt proud to water the seeds of compassion and interbeing in each of my family and friends, and they received it for the acceptance I have for their meat-eating choices.

I have learned that eating vegan isn’t synonymous for exclusion, loneliness, and ridicule. It equals inspiration, integrity, and connection.

Hallelujah.

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You want help to offer your compassionate choices as an invitation to understand the interconnectness of our happiness and suffering? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

The opposite of scarcity is enough

I had my last conversation with my grandfather. After three weeks hanging out together, five times a week for half an hour a day, he tells me it is enough. It is time for me to get back on my meditation cushion and sit and breathe, and be by myself.

Image courtesy to FlickrHe wants to talk about scarcity. He likes the Lynne Twist quote in Brené Brown’s “Daring Greatly” (p25):

“For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of Not Enough occurs automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, complaining or worrying about what we don’t have enough of… Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds are racing with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to that reverie of lack… This internal condition of scarcity, this mind-set of scarcity, lives at the very heart of our jealousies, our greed, our prejudice, and our arguments with life…”

“Elly, the opposite of scarcity is not abundance. It is enough… I wished you’d see that you have enough. Enough income, enough time, enough self-confidence. You don’t need to force yourself to get more. You have enough within you and around you to live the life that fits you. You don’t need to look for anything more. You are all set to get all the clients you want, to create a booming business, to thrive, to live and to love.”

Du-uh?

There is nothing lacking in me? I’m pretty, popular, smart, funny, verbal enough? I don’t need to “improve” myself? I don’t need to try to be a better version of myself?

Being myself is plenty enough, and exactly what the world needs?

I think of Carl Rogers and self-actualization: our innate, irresistible tendency to grow into ourselves, to be us in the fullest sense of the word. Maybe I don’t need to challenge that. Maybe I don’t need to force myself to be, do, or have anything more than life offers. Maybe I can trust that my current conditions are more than enough to be happy, and that I can relax in the flow of my energy.

I thank him. We have spent three weeks of humanizing my hero-image of him, of getting closer. Three weeks of deepening self-acceptance and self-understanding. A life-time of richness and gratitude. Yes, I have enough. More than enough.

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You want help to experience your enoughness? Contact me 512-589-0482 to schedule a complimentary discovery session.

Dance as if no one is watching

DanceCelebrating life

My eight-year old nanny friend dances when everyone is watching. She loves that. Her eyes grow big, she catches your look, and she swings her hips, sways her hands, turns, tumbles, jumps, swings and flic flacs. She shows everything she has ever seen on YouTube, and adds a little Maya to it.

I love watching her.

There is pure beauty in watching this young girl enjoy being her, and enjoy other people seeing her. There is no shame, no hiding, just the full celebration of herself. She thinks the world is way more wonderful with Maya in it.

And I agree.

I wished we all would think about ourselves like that: What a wonderful world with me in it.

Can you?

Maybe not. Maybe you experienced ridicule, neglect, criticism when you danced. Maybe you always had to strive for more, when you showed your soccer tricks. Maybe you were corrected, when you read your first book. Maybe you interpreted all these responses as indications that whatever you do, it is never good enough. That you are never good enough.

We are good enough

We are exactly as we should be in this moment: ourselves. A unique manifestation of life. Whether we are angry, discouraged, sad, scared, happy. We are always this unique opportunity to be seen for what it means to be a human in this moment.

And that is wonderful

Let us all dance as if everyone is watching.

And let us all love watching.

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You want help to celebrate your life? Contact me, 512-589-0482. I would be honored and happy to help.

Generating energy

IMG_3074Life isn’t a business to be managed, it is a mystery to be lived

I breathe in

I indulge in the beauty of my view. It is like a big movie screen of nature. Trees, rocks, the hill. A blue sky, full with birds. I haven’t seen this many birds in a long time.

I breathe out

I feel so grateful. That I have this opportunity to sit and watch the trees, the sun, the birds. That I have fingers that can write. That I have friends who support and encourage me. Who see the beauty of my essential Elly-ness. “Humble and excited”, that’s what my friend saw in me as I talked about the small, successful steps I’m taking in expanding my business.

I breathe in

A bird catches a butterfly. The butterfly flies off. The bird catches up with him. It takes him a full minute to succeed eating him.

I breathe out

Such a spaciousness. Such a joy to be alive. No where to go, nothing to do. Just sitting here, and enjoying life, my breath, this moment.

I breathe in

I have finally decided to ask my Sangha if they will accept me as an aspirant member in the Order of Interbeing. I have been contemplating this choice ever since I first saw Thich Nhat Hanh. I have always postponed it. I don’t have enough time, it is too big a commitment, I am not mindful enough.

I breathe out

All of those thoughts might be true, my Sangha might not even accept my application. That is fine with me. It is not about the result, it is about the excitement of making a choice. Of freeing the energy stuck in thinking about a choice, and taking a step.

I breathe in

It might not be the right path. I might get stuck. The path might not lead anywhere. But it still is a path, and I am moving. I am creating an opportunity to learn, and get feedback for the consciousness and choices I make.

I breathe out

My dad told me to get into action. To get away from my desk, designing my business. To call anyone who might have an interest working with me. He is a wise man. It helped so much. To take a step and learn from it.

I breathe in

I am ready to climb a tree. For the fun of it. Life isn’t a business to be managed, it’s a mystery to be lived (Osho, Zen Tarot).

I breathe out

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You want help to take your next step? Contact me for a complimentary, discovery session 512-589-0482

Self-compassion, Day 10: Living life to the fullest

FlowersI’m watching Maya and her friends practice their dance performance. I get tears in my eyes. Life bursting into unfolding. Eight years old. Girls practicing being a pop star. They take it so seriously. They radiate with joy and energy. This is the most important thing right now. To prepare for the talent show in Spring. To get the steps right, the lyrics and the costumes.

This is what life is all about. To live life to the fullest. To know what is important to you and to sculpture yourself into the person you want to be, and maximize your contribution. To give it your best. Dance like no one is watching.

Can you imagine what the world would look like if we all give ourselves fully and completely? Open, excited, só happy to be us? Grasping thís moment to share ourselves. For no other reason than that the joy of being us, of being alive.

Gosh. There ís suffering in the world. There ís pain and hurt. There ís anger and fear.

We need to get together and create compassionate communities. We need to create safe havens where we can heal, integrate and be nourished. So that we can bloom and blossom. So that we can nurture gardens of happy flowers, a beauty for everyone to see.

Can you imagine what the world would look like if it is full of people having the excitement and joy of being themselves? Can you imagine a world full of dancing circles?

I can.

I wish you a merry Christmas, full of love, connection, and belonging. May you find the joy and excitement to live life to the fullest.

If you want my help to deepen your self-compassion, healing and integration, contact me for a complimentary, discovery session.

Appreciation in 4 steps

There is a tender beauty in expressing appreciation. There is something precious in sharing how someone’s actions enriched your life. A little line of connection between two people on this earth, who care enough about each other to find joy in supporting each other.

Even if you only say “thank you”, you water the seeds of joy, love and trust within yourself. Appreciation reinforces awareness of everything you have and everything you receive that is positive, pure and good.

No matter how grim your circumstances seem, how dark your future, how gloomy your past, appreciation highlights the moments of joy, love and harmony that you do have.

My friend suggested four steps of appreciation. Three to express to your friend, partner, parent, sibling, neighbor. One to express to yourself.

1. Observations

You start with a specific observation of what the other person did. Simply, as if you are a fly on the wall who recorded the event with a camera. The less interpretations, evaluations, judgments, the easier it is for the other person to know what you are talking about.

2. Feelings

Then you share how you felt when you observed what happened. Maybe you felt happy, touched, relieved, proud, tender, joyful? You can use your physical experience to locate and connect to your feelings.

3. Needs

Then you share how the action of the other person nurtured a need in you. Needs are universal throughout space and time. All feelings point to universal, human needs we all share. Maybe your friend supported your need for support, acceptance, understanding, compassion? Sometimes sharing your needs feels a little vulnerable, because we own up to what is important to us. We are a little bit more seen than before, a little bit more naked.

4. Your contribution to the event

You end with acknowledging the qualities you brought to the table to invite this experience in your life. You appreciate your consciousness and choices that made this possible. Maybe you were courageous enough to ask for support. Maybe you are grateful enough to notice the unfolding leaves on the tree. Maybe you are helpful enough to support your friend in need. There is always something in you that made this experience possible.

You’ll notice a big shift in your experience of life, if you practice these four appreciation steps twice a day for one month. Start today. Life is too short to postpone what’s important.

A cry a day keeps the doctor away

A friend of my teacher Kit Miller once asked her “Did you cry today?”, and upon Kit’s surprised “No.” “Well, you should. Crying once a day is good for you.

A sort of variance of “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

I agree with Kit’s friend. Every time I call Silent unity, I cry. Whether I call in with a sense of calm and peace, or a sense of anxiety and fear, I cry during every phone call.

It is refreshing, releasing, relieving. I call them, they pray for my abundance, prosperity, they tell me that all good comes from God, through Go. They reassure me that He will show us ways -both known and unknown- to make enough money to keep the house. And all this time I cry.

I love it. A safe haven to let go off my anxiety, my worries, my tiredness. No questions asked. They describe the picture of what I want so much, affirming I have everything I need and that God provides for us. And I can rest in that trust and redirect my energies to that which is positive and within my circle of influence.

The first thing I do, is ask God to take away my negative thoughts. This is new for me. Usually I empathize with my negative thoughts. I connect to the feelings that come up with these thoughts. I explore the universal, human needs underlying these feelings. I follow Pema Chodron‘s advice to lean into this experience. To use this experience to expand my compassionate understanding of what it’s like to be human.

Not these days. These days I ask God to take away my negative thinking, my looping, habitual, reiterative thoughts of scarcity, lack, not enough. And I happily have energy to do what needs to be done. Creating the conditions my husband and I need to be able to concentrate on generating income. Joy, love and harmony. My mom’s motto: Rust, reinheid en regelmaat. (rest, cleanness, and regularity).

So far, I am successful. My husband is chunking along on a deal that will generate our abundance and prosperity. I am expanding my web presence, so I’m easier find to by potential clients. We’re eating well, sleeping peacefully, exercising enough. We’re in it for the long run. This is not a sprint, it is a marathon. We’re prepared.

Crying certainly cleans up the inner space to be ready and run.

Surrender to love

Surrender to love
Surrender to love

Dear Child,

I am very proud of you. I see how you’re finding ways to deal with your fear and thoughts of scarcity. I am very happy you found Silent Unity. I understand that you like their affirmative prayer. I can imagine how relieved you feel every time you hear them say that abundance and prosperity are yours. I know that God opens ways for you to earn the money you need to keep the house.

Trust your intention and your gut instincts. Those are God’s way of talking to you, showing you your next step.

I feel relieved that you asked the archangels Michael, Gabriel, Rafael and Uriel to guard the four sides of your home and keep you safe. I see how strong and solid they stand. Unwavering in cold and storm. Shining and radiant, powerful. They will keep all harm away from your door.

Don’t forget to pray till God. He is the source of all life, all love, all light. She will provide for you in all the ways you need.

All you need to do is open your heart. Let love and faith and trust grow in you and make you strong. Support your husband the best way you can. Nurture him, cherish him, embrace him. Make sure he gets enough sleep and food to generate the income you need.

Surrender to love. Surrender to the power within you to create what you want. A sanctuary for all life. A warm welcome for all creatures on earth. Your friends, your family, the friends-you-haven’t-met. Your home is a safe haven for the mice who chose your home as theirs. The scorpions, lizards, ants, spiders. You ferociously protect them. Against the water of the shower, the cleaning cloth, the vacuum cleaner. You are the protector of the trees and plants around the house. This home, this land is not just yours. It is the land and home of all living beings.

This is a sacred home. You’ll keep it, my beloved child.

My trees, my business

Trees
Trees (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I venture out in the woods. I walk slowly. Carefully. Joyfully. I feel my feet touch the earth, and let the energy arise through me. Every step a connection to the earth. I enjoy the sun. The bright colors of the leaves: red, green, orange, yellow. My friend told me how rich she feels this time of year. The golden leaves fall on her, fill the streets with it’s riches. It’s golden abundance is available to everyone. I feel cherished and welcomed in the woods. Nurtured.

I have no plan. Just to spend 30 minutes in nature. I see a little creek I have never seen before. The heavy rains created it on the rocky path. Small, tenderly dripping away. It is quiet. Just the sounds of my breath, my footsteps, the breeze.

I hear a tree. It calls out to me. A juniper. It’s branches spread out wide and evenly. Inviting.

I hear my heart. Climb!

I hear my mind. NO!

I climb. One branch. Looping to the other side for the next branch. Avoiding getting stuck in the twigs. A next step. Taking a break.

My heart starts racing. I’m scared. I’m here on my own. I have no belay. If I fall, it might take hours before I’m found. I can’t afford a broken leg. I hug the tree. Lean into it. I feel how solid I am, how strong. I trust my body, myself. I take a next step. I feel fear. I rest, connect to my belly, to my heart. I respect my fear. I treat it with great reverence. It takes minutes. Then I take a next step. I see out over the tree tops. I see the valley, and all the autumn trees celebrating fall in splendid colors.

I rest. I celebrate. My agility. My trust. My strength. My fear. My steps.

This is how I run my business. One step. Feeling my fear. Leaning into life. Finding my balance. My solidity. My trust. Then a next step. Let fear arise, loneliness. Worries. Give them space to talk. Listen. With empathy and compassion. No fixing, reassuring, arguing. Just listen. Listen to life and how it supports me. Then a next step. No fighting the branches for being to far apart. No impatience with my fear. No comparing myself with other, faster climbers. That’s not my path.

My path is to experience what it is like to be me. My path is to experience which conditions support me. Take a step. Connect to what’s alive in me. And then a next step.

Do you?

Much on this blog is about me. About an ordinary woman with a big dream. A woman, who passionately wants to create a world where everybody belongs. Where everybody listens in a way that brings connection and harmony. A woman who dedicates her life to bringing joy, love and harmonyDo you?

Much of this blog is about me. About an ordinary woman who stumbles and falls on this path of compassion and mindfulness. And rises again. Like a phoenix from the flame. A woman who never gives up. Not on herself, not on you, not on us. Do you?

Much of this blog is about you. My friends on the path of compassion and mindfulness. Friends who want to leave this world a better place. Friends who are looking for support, encouragement, inspiration. Friends who are willing to give it their all. Friends who understand that changing the world starts with yourself. Friends who see and trust that we are basic goodness. Do you?

Most of this blog is about us. A community which holds on to each other, sees the positive intentions, and supports learning from mistakes. A community which hangs in there, is willing to sit still when the storm races over and dances when the sun comes out. A community which is willing to self-reflect, to make friends with our inner demons, and laugh about them, no big deal. A community which empathizes with our struggles, and rejoices at our successes. We’re enjoying the path of compassion and mindfulness, not striving for results. We love just making this one step towards more compassion, acceptance and inclusion in the world. Do you?