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