Becoming Captain America

Times of grit and times of grace are needed, now more than ever. Homeless families trying to keep minimum-wage jobs, global warming crisis that is causing levels of panic, veterans coming home from war and causing harm to themselves and others. We are no longer peacemakers if we want to make an impact, we have to be the cause-and-effect participants in helping the person next to us. 

And it starts with the nuanced hero at home.

Look at your life, everything about it. Which parts make you feel scared? How often do you find yourself alone with your thoughts and they make you feel lost? Which parts of yourself are you really convinced may someday be the end of your own happiness. 

Comic book movies have been hitting the theaters and making big bucks lately : The Amazing Spider Man 2, Captain America, Winter Soldier…

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What do these movies have in common? Good guy. Bad guy. Good guy wins. Bad guy loses. It’s what we are all hoping for ourselves : some clarity of the enemy and the hero. What we are doing wrong and what we are doing right in our life becomes a true or false question. We become heroes. 

Today, I give myself permission to be the nuanced hero at home. The hero who has trouble getting out of bed sometimes because things are hard for her. The hero who then decides to do yoga instead of feel bad about it, and calls her friend to say hello. The hero who sucks at math. The hero who is constantly apologizing for things that aren’t her fault. The hero that isn’t sure how to live in this world, but keeps trying to be better even when she sets herself back.

I’ve got some news : the nuanced hero at home is the good guy and the bad guy all at once. Make peace with who that nuanced hero is RIGHT NOW, and end your suffering. End the idea that you have to have it all figured out. End the idea that you can’t handle the unstable life you have, or that peace is an impossibility. Because at the end of the day, the nuanced hero needs to be happy – and he’ll find that making himself or herself happy first, then sharing that with others. 

I wish all this for you, my heroes. 

Sat Nam,

The Price of All That Happy

I saw an adorable but ugly dog – my favorite kind. I squealed at him and shouted, “PUPPY!”. The owner looked frightened. When I find out that my favorite band is playing near me, I’d put on displays of convivial joy while hunting down tickets online. If someone handed me a shaker of truffle salt? I would jump up and down in excitement.

Professionals stay neutral. Children stay happy. Realists stay realistic, but also can’t get hurt as easily. Where is the middle ground? Neutrality is what we seek on the spiritual journey, but also happiness. What happens when we seek to cross these both? Does it even happen?

This morning, as I wring myself out in yoga class and get rid of all the fears that surround me on a daily basis? I’m struck by the fact that we can never have a lot of happy without a lot of sad. Just as in a risk-and-reward situation, the higher you go the higher you have to fall.

Consider the wave. As it heads towards the shore it gets highest before it falls. But then it goes back and another high is reached. The water goes fast and then slow, and paces based on it’s peaks and valleys. When it’s closer to the sand, it is forced to absorb the changing landscape before it has strength to rise again.

life like this...

life like this…

But it always rises. The higher it goes the more it inspires, accumulates and moves. It takes the whole landscape with it and fills its volume with sea life. It’s majestic, joyful and moving as the way nature intended. Beautiful motion.

I realize I am in a phase of my life now that I am tentatively calling “the good happy lonely”. I’m a woman on the verge of the next phase of my life and trying to enjoy the present while all of life fills itself inside me. That makes me happy. The price of all that happy is an equal or greater amount of sadness sometimes. But I have to know deep inside me that the wave will grow strong again even when I don’t feel it will.

The price of all this happy is sometimes laying on a mattress in the middle of the floor and feeling a void. The price of all that happy is a vulnerable feeling that I’m exposed as a fraud to everyone who knows me, false as that assumption may be. The price of all that happy is some sweat, tears and pain. The price of all that happy is sacrifice. The price of all that happy is some love lost over time.

But then I see a carton of truffle salt in the grocery store and I think – the world cannot be so bad. This savory fruit of the sea exists, and just like the sea will rise with me again.

May the price of all your happy be the strength to fight for it and let things go. May the price of all your happy be presence. May you ride your life like a gentle wave and feel lighter in every step along the way. May the price of all that happy be a committed relationship to the wonderful, amazing soul that you are.

Sat Nam.

Ways to Take Up Space

1. Say what you feel the moment you feel it. Tell the grocer he made a mistake in a very kind way. Tell your friend they are making you feel pressured, marginalized or hurt. Tell your lover that you love them and appreciate everything they do for you. Tell your parents thank you. 

2. If that makes you uncomfortable, write those feelings down and then say them later to the person. It still counts.

3. Sing loudly. In the car, in the shower, on stage, recorded or into your hairbrush. But sing with your whole body.

4. Hog the covers. If there is someone next to you at the time you attempt this, play-fight them for it. Roll around as much as possible while doing this. Wedgies are fair game. You know you are doing it right when the covers leave the bed and there are no winners. If you are single, make a fort just for you in the living room and invite in friends – or enjoy the solitude. 

5. Do some creative vandalism. Something impermanent that changes the landscape of how your space is defined. Arrange a few post-it’s so they make a smiley face on your wall. Put a ribbon on a statue. Make the outline of a heart in rocks on someone’s door. Attach a kite to the back of a garbage truck.

6. Think like an animal. Growl. Run. Chase. Fetch. Play. Find a field where you can run around and bring out your inner wolverine. Watch people be curious, and then not give a crap. Just don’t leave…traces. 🙂 

7. Reserve It – Is there a place in the park you like to go, a library, a dance studio, a street you like to run? Give yourself space to be in those spaces and give yourself time to be happy in them. For me, that is the bathtub. Mine, mine mine. 

8. Be selfish – Take care of buisiness, then do what you want. You have the right to be where you are and have that be exactly where you want to be. You get there by expressing the need from your true self, and then letting that true self take action. Take what you need, because then you acknowledge the plenty you have. 

9. Do something completely out of character – Ask someone out. Take a class you always wanted to. Travel. Eat something you are curious about. Make space for yourself to explore something new, and you will feel new space inside of you grow. 

10. Love – Love makes you big. Love makes you so big that all the issues you have to deal with become small. Love yourself so much that nothing will disturb your peace of mind, that you feel big in a land where you are taught to play small. Love your limits and go through them. Love everyone around you so the size of your love can carry you. 

May you take all the space you need, and give all the space away. May you vibrate time and space so that all may serve you.

Sat Nam

29

I turned 29 today. Technically? One of those “not a big deal before the big deal birthdays” emotionally? Crucial considering there have been multiple milestones crossed. 

I made a list of things I wanted to do today, to really set myself up for the year –

1. Something Giving – Donated 10 dollars to a food bank because I have recently become vegan and wanted to give others a nourishing plate. Discovering food as an ally has been empowering for me ever since I have given up the cow in the new year. Giving that back meant something to me. I heard a story about Yogi Bhajan, that he used to make people bring cookies on their birthday. Even if it was a new student, who raised their hand in class saying “It’s my birthday” He would tell that person to bring cookies for the class, and they all would wait. He thought it was so crucial that you started your year off gifting that he was willing to wait for you to come around.

2. Something Creative – This is my true self. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been trying to tell silly stories and make people laugh. I have fallen in with groups of people who are making things – whether that is a community, a book, a piece of art, a kid, a costume for comic-con, a song? Everything that you create and share makes you radiant and I wanted to explore that radiance within myself. I started work on a screenplay that has been stuck in my head and causing anxiety because I don’t have the words for it yet. Here we go.

3. Something with Yoga – My BOTTOM line!! Yoga has become like my religion – when times are hard I lean harder on my practice and find the strength to get through the pain. I went to a class tonight that was later than the others, but I knew was a good fit for me. I am a Kundalini Yogi but have been taking more posture based classes to learn the correct alignment in other forms. I get there, and sure enough I’m proud of my decision.

First, the teacher was older than myself. I love older yoga teachers because they have recognized the power inside them at any age goes beyond physical posture but still challenge your entire self on the mat. Gurmukh, the master teacher who taught me Kundalini Yoga? Was making me sweat in her 70’s and still makes people sweat today.

Second, the teacher reminded me what I knew was important while teaching me new things : when you take a yoga class it is never about how you bend or what you are physically capable of. It is how you handle yourself in the world when you leave class that makes you a yogi, how you interact with your friends, community, and those who need you that is your yoga. She showed me a posture that I needed to align my neck during shoulder stand, and she made me think about how I want to share intention and blessing with others. 

Third, the teacher gave me a hug at the end of class when I told her it was my birthday. Hugs are always awesome. 

4. Something involving a Friend – I spoke to a very dear friend of mine who has gone out of her way to make my day special, and shared some nice love on the phone. Then I did what I do every year : write 3 pages in my Google Drive entitled “29” and write every bit of magical thinking inside of me.That was when another friend appeared. She hadn’t been described to me in that way since I had been in therapy, but this friend became truth as soon as I wrote her. Our duality inside us is such that we have the critic and the friend – the critic saves us from making bad choices but can cut us off if we let him take over. The friend is constantly there for others but sometimes can forget to be there for himself. The friend is expansion, compassion. This year, I did something with the friend inside me : Treated her like she was a precious jewel. That God and me, me and God are one together. Friends, forever. 

May all of your birthdays be creative, prosperous, kind, generous, filled with divinity, light and love. May you have many birthdays that are better than the last, and may you be happier with each coming milestone. May you bring life and adventure as you take advantage of the gift of being human. May your light shine through your years as you do : with every intention towards truth and your inner destiny. May you be of spirit, always. 

Sat Nam

Why My Career Needs a Big Wheel

It was hard to say no to $20.00 an hour, 40 hours a week serving as production manager for another feature. The job would have been three months out of Freemont, introduced me to many different hard working people in the Bay Area, and given me some real challenges in a field I have really loved working for. But I need some big wheels until my little ones can run on their own. 

Now what do I mean by this? Imagine your life as a series of gears, all moving together. Big wheels are what give you the most support and stability. Career, Health, Family, Spiritual Life, Community, Partner/Romance. Things move slower with the big wheels because things are less likely to change on those rotors. Not everyone’s big wheel is the same. Someone’s spiritual life might be going to church, it might be finding art in a museum. One person’s definition of family differs from the next, but they are stable and give a sense of connectivity. Romance might be a partner or it might be learning how to fall in love with yourself.

But what’s the key in the big wheel? Stability. Even Bear Grylls takes a knife with him when he goes into the woods, and he isn’t completely on his own  – let’s not forget there is a cameraman there. The poor bastard.

ImageThen you have your little wheels. Those are the things that fill in the gaps – passions, hobbies, adventures, love, entertainment. Those are things that don’t have to be huge, they just need to be what makes you blissfully happy. For me, that is my yoga, my friends, film making, writing, travel and challenging my whole self  to discover. That is laughing and sweating every day with purpose.

At certain times, things won’t always be moving forward. Big wheels will fall off. Little wheels will stop making us feel something. It truly is a lucky thing to have your big wheels and your little wheels be the same thing – to be so at one with yourself that you draw forth the opportunity to let all things be supported by themselves. 

I know to support a passion project you must support yourself – and I know that if I was to take that job that I would spend 3 months completely dedicated to it becoming a reality and none for making a stable place for myself in this world. I feel the same way about passion projects right now as I do about boyfriends – I would love to have one but I need to make sure that I’m stable enough to get into it.

So how do I handle the time in between boyfriends? When I need a big wheel so I can’ t do much of my little wheel? I’m going to see my family and friends, the big wheel I can always count on. I’m going to a film panel this weekend talking about DIY filmmaking and try to meet people. I’m going to continue to search for a big wheel that supports my little wheel. I’m going to continue to follow my big dreams and be big enough to let some little ones go for now.

May all your big wheels be stable. May all your little wheels bring you joy. May both work together. If you can’t travel to India, may you find the best Indian Cuisine and di May both be the same, someday. May you live in pursuit of balance because of glorious self-love. May you be happy.

Sat Nam