I've been doing some research lately about the "radical lawyer" and civil rights activist William Kunstler. He was a charismatic guy known for his controversial clients like Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, The Chicago 7 and Jack Rubey. I came across a great excerpt from his autobiography and also a clip of him giving a speech at a 1995 college graduation. Something he said in both of these struck me and I wanted to share it with you.
He was talking about the moments in his life when he had to decide whether or not to take on an unpopular cause or client. Then he mentioned Michelangelo's statue of David. He shared that he kept a picture of this particular statue of David near his desk in his law office. He explained how it is the only representation in art of David BEFORE he kills Goliath. All the rest - the paintings and Donatello's bronze statue - show David standing with the severed head of Goliath, AFTER he has already defeated the giant.
Kunstler said, "Michelangelo is saying, across these four centuries, that every person's life has a moment when you're thinking of doing something that will jeopardize yourself. And if you don't do it, no one will be the wiser that you even thought of it. So, it's easy to get out of it. And that's what David is doing right there. He's got the rock in the right hand, the sling over the left shoulder, and he's saying, "Do I dare, do I dare?"
"It is a moment that occurs often in my life. Every time I decide to take on a Larry Davis or a Yusef Salaam, I make a choice. While I'm hardly comparing myself to David, my choice is whether to take on the giant or to let it slide. No one will know. When I choose, I choose what I believe is the right thing, despite the odds against it. Over the years, my David moments have come more frequently. Do I dare? Do I dare? I usually do when I can take on the system or when I believe that a certain defendant won't get a fair trial... I hope many of you, or at least a significant few, will dare when the time comes, if it hasn't come already."
The next day after reading this, I had a conversation with my sweetie, Chris. He told me that he'd just experienced something similar the night before driving home late from a gig. There was a car in front of him that kept swerving into the break down lane and then across the double yellow lines. At first he thought they might be drifting because they were texting while driving - but the driving got much worse.
At that point - he had to make a decision. Do I call the cops and report a suspected drunk driver or just ignore it and go about my business? It didn't take him long to choose. After a mile, he called 911 and told them what he was witnessing.
The next day he got a thank you call from the police station. They'd found the driver, pulled them over and arrested them. Not only were they dangerously drunk and under the influence of drugs but they'd also had their baby in the car with them!
I read somewhere that - "Heroes, even humble ones, are ordinary people who overcome their fear to perform an act that is later regarded as heroic or courageous."
We are all going to have moments in our life (some big and some small) when we see something going on - at the grocery store, in someone's yard, in our community or even the larger world - that we know in our hearts isn't right. The question is - what are you going to do about it?
The Universe is giving us an opportunity to make a difference. A chance to gently intervene or boldly stand up for what we believe in. To speak up for those who have no voice. To right a wrong, to say no to a bully, to protect the Earth, to call the authorities about suspected domestic violence, an abused animal or neglected children.
These moments will not always offer easy choices. And they're not always going to be popular decisions. But when the time comes and you bear witness to a prejudice, an injustice or some other act of violence or cruelty - I hope that many of you, or at least a significant few, will dare.
When I first saw this I totally cracked up! I just adored little cartoon Tim, his red balloons and his spunky attitude.
Now, don't get me wrong - of course, we all want to be loved. Love is our true nature. But what I'm talking about here is not wasting your time and energy wanting to be liked by everyone.
If you keep looking outside of yourself for validation, if you keep wanting everyone to like you, understand you or celebrate you, you're going to be disappointed.
Somebody once told me that about 15% of people are just not going to like you. Maybe it's your Boston accent? Maybe you didn't invite them to a party back in junior high? Maybe there's something about you that makes them feel annoyed, jealous, angry, or whatever. Maybe they're kind of nuts? But at some point, the revelation comes - no matter what you say or do: They. Just. Don't. Like. You.
It took me a long time to learn this and accept it - but as I've gotten older and more comfortable in my own skin, this realization has actually become quite freeing to me.
Think about it. If 100% of people think you're the cat's meow - it may mean that you've become a professional people pleaser. Someone whose mastered the art of twisting and torquing yourself into whatever false version of "you" - you hope others will find most palatable. This game is not only super exhausting but also completely soul sucking. So not soothing.
In order to live authentically, you're going to have to be willing to take some risks and play big. In order to answer the call of your heart, you might have to color outside the lines, take the road less travelled and maybe just maybe, not fit in.
In order for you to be who God has intended you to be - to truly serve in the way that YOU were meant to serve, you just might have to write your story, speak your truth, start that project, share your gifts and shine kind of bright. This can cause the side effect of making others uncomfortable - which can lead to you not always being popular.
IF EVERYONE LIKES YOU, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.
On the other hand, if everyone has a problem with you - then it's important to check that out too. Slow down, get quiet, get real and take a good look at your thoughts, words and actions. Ask yourself some tough questions about how you interact and communicate with others. Search your heart and see if you're living your life from a place of Love or Fear. Consider this opportunity to get to know yourself a little better a gift.
At the end of the day, if you can take a look in the soul mirror and truly like the person you discover there - then take a glorious moment and rejoice in who you are. Grab yourself a handful of red balloons, accept that fact that not everyone's going to like you and like Tim - set yourself free!
I took up surfing last summer. I'd always wanted to try it when I lived in LA and was super excited to finally take a lesson. I'd been inspired years before when I heard the amazing story of Eddie Aikua. He is one of my heroes and the man behind the famous mantra - Eddie Would Go.
Eddie Aikau was said to have been a humble man who was also larger than life. He was a legendary surfer that rode the biggest waves in the world. He was a lifeguard that saved hundreds of people from the treacherous waters of Oahu's North Shore. He was a proud Hawaiian, who sacrificed his life to save his 15 fellow sailors aboard the voyaging canoe Hokule'a in March of 1978.
After a night of clinging to the overturned hull of the capsized voyaging canoe, Eddie insisted on getting on his surfboard and paddling back to shore almost 12 miles for help. Hours after Eddie left in the rough waters - a coast guard helicopter spotted the capsized Hokule'a and began rescue efforts. But Eddie Aikau was never seen again.
"Eddie was a lifeguard. He guarded life. And he lost his own trying to guard the lives of others. Eddie cared about others and took care of others. He had great dreams, he had great passions. As a surfer, Eddie would ride the 20' waves that nobody else would touch. As a lifeguard, Eddie would pull people out of dangerous waters that no one else would dare to. That's where the saying came from - Eddie Would Go - when no else would or could. Only Eddie dared."
Eddie was both daring and selfless. The phrase - Eddie Would Go - is ultimately about putting yourself out there for the betterment of others. A willingness to be of service and help out somebody else.
One of his friends said about him - "He had a courage about him that went beyond the physical, it was spiritual as well. Spiritually he had no choice. He had to go. Eddie had to go. To save people. It's simple - but it's not an easy choice that many make in their life. He's a rare and special human being. And he's a real Hawaiian hero."
The world needs real heroes now more than ever.
Debbie Ford said, "If you are going to be courageous, an example for all those who are ready to step into their power, then you must be willing to show the world all of who you are. You must have the guts to throw off the chains of modesty and mediocrity in order to be the light that the world needs."
In the heavenly realm - God, Goddesses, The Ancient Ones & on the earthly plane - Gurus, Mentors, Teachers - they all hold the vision, courage and strength for us until it becomes our own experience. Until we start to live in alignment with the truth of who we are... Until we start to step into our eternal power and stand in our Divinity... Until we start to make choices that reflect the essence of our innate goodness, our inseparable oneness and our love for all beings and creatures... Until we are ready to say "I WOULD GO" - God holds the vision, courage and strength for us.
The next time you find yourself wanting to speak up or take a leap of faith or move in the direction of your dreams - when you're scared out of your mind and paralyzed by fear of the unknown but still feel that calling in your heart - remember this, God's got your back and Eddie Would Go.
It's been said that prayer is when "we talk to God" and meditation is "when we listen". I believe that God/Universe/Spirit is always communicating with us - but our minds are so crazy loud that we cannot hear the Divine whisper. Our eyes are so transfixed on our devices that we cannot see that miracles abound! If we are not careful, if we do not learn to slow down and look up - we'll end up missing the signs that are right in front of us!
The signs come in all kinds of forms: a strong gut instinct, a song on the radio, a random phone call - the license plate on the car ahead of you. A breeze at just the right time, a book that falls off the shelf, a knowing or intuition that you just can't ignore. The Universe is always reaching out to us. The question is - are we open and willing to receive?
On Mother's Day, I went to the cemetery to do some maintenance around my mother's grave. My mom is buried in the same plot as my cousin Bunny, my Uncle John and my Grammy Connors. My little cousin Tim is also buried here - not too far from the rest of his kin.
When I visit this place in the Spring - it is always bustling with the sounds of life. Excited little birds chattering to one another from the gorgeous fragrant trees. As I go about my work here, I slip into a quiet reverence, focused on the task at hand and deeply aware of all that my family has lost.
As I snip at those tenacious little bushes that we regret planting years ago and scrub the grey-green bits of moss from her headstone - I talk to my mother silently. Sharing with her what's been on my mind and in my heart. What I'm learning and what I'm letting go.
I also spend some time visiting with the rest of my family. I sit in the grass amongst their stones and tell them we miss them, that they're not forgotten, that we think of them all the time. When I'm done, I pack up my tools, wipe my hands on my jeans and get back in the car.
As I drive up the last hill, about to leave the cemetery, I spot out of the corner of my eye, a cute turkey lingering near the large granite monument. I smile at him and tap my dashboard twice with my hand (a quirk of mine) and say out loud, "Happy Mother's Day! I love you Ma!"
As soon as the words leave my mouth - this amazing little creature puffs up his chest, fans his tail feathers wide and starts gobbling like mad! I stop my car and stare at him in wonder as he struts around putting on a magnificent show for me.
His display is so grand and so perfectly timed that I have no doubt that it is my mother answering me. Using a Universal Sign to say "I love you too!" Just look at my feathers - can you see how much I love you? Just listen to my sound - can you hear how much I love you?
Awaken-Awaken-Awaken ~ The Love is All Around Us!
This is one of my six furry kids: Buckminster Biscuits. Also known as Bucky, Buck, Buckaroo, etc. After a recent funny email from a friend - I might just start calling him Bhukti Mukti (Enjoyment & Liberation)! As you can see from the picture - he certainly knows how to let go and enjoy himself.
I'm blessed to have this little guy in my life for so many reasons. First off, he is a total kooky monkey. He reminds me all the time to not take myself too seriously. As the head of our furry pack - he also keeps things in order. If one of the other crazy fuzzies - gets way out of line - (think wild squirrels hopped up on Mountain Dew) he is quick to make a correction. In doing so, he teaches me about creating healthy boundaries.
But the most important thing my little buddy teaches me about is LOVE! Here's the thing - Buck ADORES me! Like super-duper tail wagging, spin in circles, back leg hopping because "OMG, MY MOMMY IS HOME!" loves me! (Seriously, how lucky am I?)
And he shows me this truth each time I walk through the door. Mr. Biscuits is so not stingy with his love. He demonstrates his unbridled joy at seeing me each and everyday. It recently got me to thinking about how I show my love in the world. Do I offer it freely? No strings attached? Do I extend it to everyone or do I withhold it or save it for just a few "special" people?
A Course in Miracles says, "To teach is to demonstrate... Any situation must be to you a chance to teach others what you are, and what they are to you." It also shares one of my favorite sayings, "Teach Only Love - For That Is What You Are."
How are you demonstrating your Love? Get quiet and think about this for a moment. No judgement - just shine a light on it. Then, maybe like Buckaroo - we'll all choose to not be stingy with our love either! Let's not wait for February 14 to roll around to share our affection, to offer a compliment, to hold a hand, to pick up the phone to talk or send an actual handwritten love note!
Be Brave. Say I Love You. Say it with enthusiasm! Maybe even wag your tail and spin in circles because your sweetie just walked in the door. Or because you finally realized that the Beloved is already always HOME - right there - inside your beautiful, abundant heart.
This super funny picture of a silly made-up Dr. Seuss book cracks me up every time I see it! I wanted to share it with you because Dr. Seuss has been such a huge influence on me and my teaching!
We all know his famous books - Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham & Oh, the Places You'll Go, etc! Inside these magical pages, we found such wonderful wise quotes. If you read closely and with an open mind - you'll recognize that they offer such gems of spiritual insight:
"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you".
That's right yogis, no need to compare, no need to compete, Child of God you are already complete!
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who'll decide where to go."
That's right yogis, you decide - am I going to live in Love or Fear? With Spirit as your guide - you ultimately get to choose where to go, what to do, what to say and to whom. Dear God, please use me!
"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"
Some of our troubles come from ahead when we worry about the future. Some troubles come from behind when we look back with regret on the past. But they can be resolved in the present moment by being ready and willing to love, forgive, let go or when necessary by using a very big bat! So funny!
CAN I GET AN AMEN?!
Sri Ramakrishna tells a great story about a venomous snake to illustrate my point about forbearance, nonviolence and inner strength.
One day, a poisonous snake that was terrorizing a small village was paid a visit by a holy man. The sage asked the snake to no longer attack or bite the local villagers. He said, "Please leave them alone."
The snake promised to be good and vowed that he would not bite or harm anyone. He became so passive and non-violent that he did nothing at all to defend himself when a group of young cowherds picked him up and started bashing him on the ground nearly killing him.
Later, when the holy man returned and saw the pitiable condition that the snake was in - he scolded the snake! He said, "What a shame. You don't know how to protect yourself. I asked you not to bite, but I did not forbid you to hiss! Why didn't you scare them away by hissing?"
My meditation teacher Easwaran says it like this, "We should alert our minds to be calm, to be compassionate, and if necessary, to face opposition firmly but tenderly." In other words, Don't Bite - But Hiss!
It's important to remember the difference between being kind and being a doormat. If someone is trying to walk all over you - don't lay down to make it easier for them. It does not help them or you to yield to their crappy behavior. Sometimes the most loving thing you can say to someone is "no".
We can learn to "hiss" calmly and with detachment. Inside we can be full of compassion but we must learn to stand firm and say no!
DO NO HARM (BUT TAKE NO SHIT).