Examine the role that you play in your dysfunction

This is the thing, whatever issue you may be facing now--a difficult relationship with a loved one or with a colleague, hell, a hard time getting through to the barrista who makes your coffee at Starbucks, all roads lead back to you. And so in this journey of yours / ours it is worth examining the role that you play in the dynamic of your life. If you are now being challenged by someone or a situation, take a hard look at yourself. There are two sides--or many--to one story, and it's easy to slip into the blame game without hitting the pause button and asking yourself what part you play in the movie of your life. Are you the enabler or the one who is being abled? Is it the masochist or the sadomasochist, the passive aggressive or the aggressor, the master or the slave--who are you in your various relationships, and is it serving you?

Self reflection is ground zero for growth and taking a hard look at the role that we play in our dysfunction is not only insightful but it is the only road to healing. It is also, by the way, a most difficult road because much of us is required most importantly, that we look at ourselves with brutal and raw honesty. Damn it hurts when someone tells you the "truth" about yourself but it is even more painful to tell yourself the raw truth. To look at yourself in the mirror and admit it to yourself, yup that is where the seed that will lead to your growth lives.

The flowering of life depends upon finding a reflection of oneself in the world, and one's work is an important place of that kind of reflection. ~ from "Care of Soul," by Thomas Moore

Why your birth story is important

I am celebrating this weekend another trip around the sun, pausing, and giving thanks. And as it usually happens my mom calls and retells me my birth story. I am lucky that there was not too much pain and drama when I was born. As the third child, mom says she was an expert by the time I was born. My birth was pretty much pain free she says. But, what if there had been drama with my birth? What if my birth caused her emotional pain? What, if while I was in her womb, she'd been suffering greatly?

We know the profound links between unborn child and mom, and so on birthdays, as you toast another year, and look forward to another day, ask your mom, if she is still with you or any close friend or relative, to shed light on the circumstances around your birth and while you were growing inside of her.

In some cultures newborn baby boys are slapped across the face to prepare them for life. From the beginning, this tribe holds the baby will be born a warrior. What does your tribe do when babies are born?

Your birth story holds clues to your story. And no matter what that story is-- give praise and thanks for the opportunity that you've been given to bless the earth with your birth.

When you judge others, your are only judging yourself

The highest form of intelligence is the ability to observe yourself without judging yourself
~ Deepak Chopra

To observe oneself without passing judgment is the highest form of intelligence because it's the most difficult task-- a lifelong process that if you are awake, keeps you humble and evolving. One day, you wake up and give yourself a break and love yourself with enough clarity to embrace your flaws, fears, mistakes, decisions, or weight or whatever ails and you resolve to do better, be better and more kind to yourself. That is the moment where I see healing truly starting. It's a daily grind to be kind and non judgemental about the choices that I have made and when I have those moments of non judging -- of clarity and no self bashing -- it is the most freedom and joy I feel. And I work hard to have those moments expand to hours and days, months and years. I work hard to make it a lifestyle. But it's a choice and a commitment, and it takes self awareness and lots of falling down too.

Judging is a national sport and it's a poison that has consumed modern day society, eating one individual a time. This cancer is evident everywhere. The way the virtual world has reacted to General Petreus having an affair with a married woman or Bon Jovi's daughter nearly overdosing on heroin are two recent examples of people failing and so many of us well, simply, enjoying and pointing fingers.  Ugh... 

We love to point fingers or why else would Newt Gingrich, who had many adulterous affairs of his own before marrying his third wife, go on morning television moralizing about the general? 

 (Now, on the Petreus affair, it's not that he slept with a woman that is troubling and must be investigated, it's that he may have endangered national security for a piece of you know what. Good, bad, it's not for me to say. Besides, who knows if he and his wife of thirty seven years have an agreement that the rest of the world doesn't know about?)
We fall, other's love to laugh, criticize and point fingers. We rise, others point more fingers about our talent or alleged lack there of.  
But, this is the thing...

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths. 
~ Etty Hillesum

True true! I love this quote because it gets to the core of what ails most of us. Not breathing right and therefore, not knowing how to relax when walk around like a wound up in knots all over our bodies. Modern day life is chaotic, busy, and with the many hats we wear and responsibilities we have, few of us know how to rest and relax. We run ourselves ragged. But, this is the thing, even if you think you are chilling, the tension in our bodies, hearts, and minds is so deep, that it keeps us from fully giving our best.

The great artists of the world know that in order to give what the soul has to share, relaxation is key.
Lee Strasberg, who taught acting to the very best in the world, past and present, knew this was the secret to the art form. And the core of his lessons revolved around the actors ability to fully relax.  Tension, he believed, is the occupational hazard of the actor. It's not just actors though, I believe it's the occupational hazard to us all.

This from the book, Strasberg at the Actor's Studio and one of my favorite blogs, Delancey Place.

Where there is tension, one cannot think or feel. The human being he noted, is naturally expressive so there in lies the beginning of the issue. "When he is relaxed and really thinking about or paying attention to something, or even when random thoughts move through his consciousness, impulses pass without interruption into pure expression. The voice changes. Distortions in the way the body or head or the arms and shoulders are held disappear. The expression of the face changes. The person actually takes on a new appearance."

Plant the seeds of your tomorrow, tonight

Cosmological show stopper: The New Moon & Solar Eclipse, 6 hours ago

We forget that with each sunrise, we are given a fresh canvas to start again. And so it is with each new cycle of the moon. My mother, an avid gardener, has taught me this. She pays attention to waning moons, full moons, to new moons and waxing moons--planting, harvesting, preparing the earth to plant, she is guided by the stages of la luna. Mom has more than two dozen different kinds of fruit and vegetable trees and many more herbs in her small garden. And she, like most people who toil the earth and navigate the high seas, understands the powerful connection that the moon has on everything on earth-- its creatures, oceans, and rivers and yes, to us.

Tonight's new moon is one of those powerful moons that astrologers talk about -- a moment for deep soul searching, and new beginnings. It's in Scorpio, a sign of emotional courage. Plant the seeds of your tomorrow, tonight.

I watch mom in her garden, and know that her lessons extend well beyond her patch of earth.

In case you missed it... I was on BET's Don't Sleep w TJ Holmes

Right before taping BET's "Don't Sleep" with host, TJ Holmes and panelists Chris Peña from NBC Latino and Columbia University's Marc Lamont Hill, the did a little pre-interview on my thoughts regarding the reelection of President Barack Obama. 

For the full episode where we discuss what happens after the historic numbers cast by America's emerging majority-- 93 % Black, 71 % Latino and 73 % Asian -- check out the full HERE.

Seeing light in the dark

Hurricane Sandy kicked our asses--hard too. Frankenstorm lived up to its name as it left devastation in its tracks--110 people dead, hundreds of thousands of people homeless, and millions without power. A week after being pummeled by this freak storm, thousands in the northeast are still without electricity or heat and many, too many, are trying to figuring out how to begin rebuilding their lives. The financial losses caused by Hurricane Sandy are in the billions. This storm had ramifications far beyond the states it touched. (Hello Presidential election!)

The City that never sleeps was forced to turn off the lights. In the scheme of things, the monster storm that caused so much mayhem and devastation, left me, a downtown Manhattanite, unscathed. I lost power, heat, and water for a week. Yes, I was a bit of a refugee sleeping, eating, and bathing in friends homes. But as the Spanish saying goes, no paso nada. The brilliant photograph above by Iwan Baan and this week's New York Magazine cover brilliantly captures the darkness that I lived for five days. But, oh, was I surrounded by light. Let me explain...

Meditation... it does your life good

Tomorrow starts the free 21-day meditation challenge offered by the Chopra Center. I've participated in several of these meditation offers and always felt recharged and re-inspired. They are wonderful and worth it. For those experiencing stressful times--especially the folks who live along Hurricane Sandy's path--this free offering could not come at a better time. If you can take 20 minutes of your day to pause, reconnect with self, it's guaranteed--meditating will do your spirit good. 

It's not too late, you can still register.