I have to admit that I don’t place the “new year” in the category of momentous occasions. But I do believe in taking stock and making commitments to yourself, and I embrace the opportunity for reflection that the out with the old affords.
I kept seeing this on the inter web…
…and while it was not written for this particular turn of the calendar, I really like where it led my 2013-14 thoughts. Both backward and forward. When keeping this in mind and reflecting back on 2013 I find peace in the realization that I lived this life. For the most part. I mean I certainly could have read some more fine books, but there was magic and dreams and all kinds of madness. I sang my heart out, for a crowd, in a way that I did not know I was capable of. And best of all, I surprised myself. Big time. In the following ways:
1. I got a tattoo!!! Weeks after voicing my resolution to never get a tattoo…I got a tattoo! And I LOVE it! Not only is this particular tattoo spectacularly bad ass, I felt it was a baptism of sorts.
2. I had 9 house guests. As in visitors from out of town staying in my apartment. And I liked it.
3. I set (and maintained) boundaries with a commitment to my own highest good. You know that “with friends like these…” thing? Well, apparently, you can let those friends go. It’s a choice. A difficult one. But it’s one you can make.
4. You know that other thing they say about new people will come along to fill the void? It seems to be true! Many of the relationships in my life that I am most grateful for right now are with people I didn’t even know six months ago. Shocking. One for the universe and one for me on this one!
5. I became someone with a spiritual practice, a list of favorite mantras, and host of Kundalini Kriyas that I play around with daily. My family of crystals has grown from 2 to 13. I didn’t even know I was a family of crystals kind of girl.
6. I stayed level-headed and brave-hearted when Oscar had to be hospitalized due to a stomach virus. This was one of the greatest lessons in trust and surrender. I totally passed. Gonna have to give props to surprise #5 above for that one.
7. I fell in love with a bird. Her name is Peaches. If you are one of the unfortunate few who went to an amusement park with me back in the day (or walked down a street) to have some fun, only to be subjected to shrieking and ducking and other such foolishness, you know that this is a miracle.
8. I took myself to Maui and gave up pretty much everything for a week and was open and alive and brave and absolutely myself. And I wore a bathing suit. Again, if you know me, you know.
9. I was present, centered, and as loving as I have the depth to be at this time to help somebody I love transition out of this lifetime. I know I will write about this in depth one day.
Honestly, I am quite pleased with myself. Last January I would have laughed at the notion that this list would be mine. Yet here it is. There are all kinds of things I hope to do in 2014, but what I’m most looking forward to are the surprises. The things I can’t even fathom from here. How did you surprise yourself last year?
I don’t even know where to begin with this. It is my first official throwback. I’m fairly certain it isn’t meant to follow a now vs. then format, but it looks like that is what I have created. A couple of days ago i alluded to having had the best summer ever. I did. But it wasn’t all conventional summertime fun. It was stuff that grew me out of the places in which i was stuck. Believe me digging up the roots that were planted in infertile soil is likely to be uncomfortable to say the least. It’s also likely to be the most loving and wonderful thing you could ever do for yourself – and for every one else for that matter. Basically, I got a roadmap out of the illusion of my self and this world that I was lost in. Does that make sense? I’m trying to get into the habit of checking for understanding in all areas of my life. Might as well include the blog.
Let me be clear that these are not literal before and after pictures. I did not start the summer off significantly larger than i am now, wearing glasses and hair that is… just… poorly straightened and….well, i could go on and on but i don’t want to be mean to me…
What these do represent however is that by the end of this summer I had completely lost the sad feeling that I had not grown up to be the person I was once on track to becoming. The highest manifestation of myself, in other words. I had lost my way. Lost my way inside of myself. It happens to everyone to some degree. I am proud to report that after a little trauma and drama plus a truly magical trip to Maui, I am back in congruence with my true self. Most of the time. There are occasional flare ups of the old paradigm. i sit quietly with them until they pass. they always do. i spend most of the rest of my time in absolute awe of everything. For example, I was totally in awe when a friend on Facebook who has known me since I was a very little girl sent me a message that ended with, “When I watch you on FB, I’m always so happy to see that you’ve become the amazing woman that I expected you to become.” I cried. I had always thought how disheartening it may have been to some people who had known me to be such a bright, sparkly little girl, grow progressively more dull as time went on. I don’t mean dull as in boring personality. I mean it in terms of energy, twinkle, confidence, promise, conviction, and potential. This is not about living up to other people’s expectations. These expectations are the ones I set first.
I have so much more to tell you, blog. So much. Thank you for your patience. You may have noticed that this blog is going through some changes. It’s about time, I’d say. The outer reflects the inner. I’m trying to take this thing in a direction that is aligned with my vision for my life and humanity in general. So, please bear with me while I sort this format out, and if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them! And by suggestions I mean, “It would be nice to have a playlist embedded here.” Not, “Stop wishing you were white and denying your blackness” or any of that low level nonsense. Please. Satnam.
In the first grade I knew a girl named Autumn. I thought the name was weird and wonderful. Now i just think it’s wonderful. As is the season for which she was named. I think I have been living in a perpetual state of spiritual fall if there is such a thing. I suppose there is now that I named it. Anyway, translation= I feel as though consistently working on balancing light and dark, gracefully letting go (or simply letting go period- gracefully is pushing it), and accepting and acknowledging impermanence have been my inner-life’s work. At this point all I know for “sure” is that it’s when i resist those things that I experience the most discomfort.
In honor of my fav season, here’s some stuff to ponder as fall takes over…
By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
The autumn equinox marks the arrival of the season of fall, traditionally seen as a period of changes leading to the dark of winter. In Holidays and Holy Nights, Christopher Hill points out that for Christians who observe the liturgical year, autumn is actually the beginning of the cycle. In an excerpt, he suggests that “the dynamics of the fall of the year have the sweep of a great symphony or an epic poem.”
That may explain why so many poets have reflected on this season. The Heart of Autumn contains 38 examples selected by Robert Atwan from such poets as Robert Bly, May Sarton, Carl Sandburg, Robert Penn Warren, Archibald MacLeish, and others. The excerpt from this book is “Leaves” by William Virgil Davis, a poem that conveys the mysterious qualities of fall.
What spiritual lessons and practices are suggested by the coming of autumn? Here are three areas for your meditations.
1. BALANCING DARKNESS WITH LIGHT
On the autumn equinox, day and night are of equal length. This signals the need to balance light and darkness within us. Far too often, we fear the dark and adore only the light. Joyce Rupp, a Catholic writer and poet who is one of our Living Spiritual Teachers, challenges us in Little Pieces of Light to befriend our inner darkness: “I gratefully acknowledge how darkness has become less of an enemy for me and more of a place of silent nurturance, where the slow, steady gestation needed for my soul’s growth can occur. Not only is light a welcomed part of my life, but I am also developing a greater understanding of how much I need to befriend my inner darkness.”
…”Sometimes there is no remedy for our situation than to begin from a point of absolute darkness. Turning off a television set and extinguishing a lantern have certain similarities; they are both abrupt and transition making, and can leave us in a different world. In darkness, we are always on our own.”
2. LETTING GO
As we watch leaves fluttering to the ground in the fall, we are reminded that nature’s cycles are mirrored in our lives. Autumn is a time for letting go and releasing things that have been a burden. All the religious traditions pay tribute to such acts of relinquishment. Fall is the right time to practice getting out of the way and letting Spirit take charge of our lives.
…Buddhist teacher Sharon Saltzberg, another of our Living Spiritual Teachers, writes in Lovingkindness about one of the offshoots of letting go: “Generosity has such power because it is characterized by the inner quality of letting go or relinquishing. Being able to let go, to give up, to renounce, to give generously — these capacities spring from the same source within us. When we practice generosity, we open to all of these liberating qualities simultaneously. They carry us to a profound knowing of freedom, and they also are the loving expression of that same state of freedom.” Fall, then, is the perfect season to give generously of your time and talents to others.
3. ACKNOWLEDGING IMPERMANENCE
Autumn reminds us of the impermanence of everything. We have experienced the budding of life in spring and the flowerings and profusions of summer. Now the leaves fall and bare branches remind us of the fleeting nature of all things. Jewish rabbi and writer Harold Kushner in The Lord Is My Shepherd suggests that when we contemplate fall’s changes, we grow more appreciative of all the beauties that surround us:
“The poet Wallace Stevens once wrote, ‘Death is the mother of beauty.’ What those words say to me is that we cherish the beauty of a sunrise, of a New England autumn, of a relationship, of a child’s hug, precisely because those things will not be around forever and neither will we be around to enjoy them.”
Fall also brings home to our consciousness death and the challenge to live every day to the fullest. Susan Jeffers in Embracing Uncertainty gives us a spiritual practice to facilitate this twofold movement:
“I was once told that certain spiritual masters in Tibet used to set their teacups upside down before they went to bed each night as a reminder that all life was impermament. And then, when they awoke each morning, they turned their teacups right side up again with the happy thought, ‘I’m still here!’ This simple gesture was a wonderful reminder to celebrate every moment of the day.”
Finally, Cynthia Kneen, in Awake Mind, Open Heartshares an open heart practice to carry with you into the fall.
“When you are brave and have an open heart, you have affection for this world — this sunlight, this other human being, this experience. You experience it nakedly, and when it touches your heart, you realize this world is very fleeting. So it is perfect to say ‘Hello means good-bye.’ And also, ‘My hope, hello again.’ ”
It happens to be Loving Day which is what prompted me to finally get around to posting about the Cheerios. Happy Loving Day! Interracial Marriage (black/white) has been legal for a grand total of….46 years! That’s only ten more years than I have existed! So in the grand scheme, if there is still a small to medium segment of the population who simply has not taken advantage of any opportunity to grow out of this debilitating mindset, well, that’s only to be expected… and it’s too bad for them… and absolutely ok with me actually. Love people where they are, right?
Here’s a nice article that brings together the Cheerios and the Lovings.
Editor’s note: June 12 is the 46th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, which made interracial marriage legal in the United States. Thousands of people nationwide celebrate that anniversary as “Loving Day’. Ken Tanabe is the founder and president of Loving Day, an international, annual celebration that aims to build multicultural community and fight racial prejudice through education. He is a speaker on multiracial identity, community organizing and social change through design.
By Ken Tanabe, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Racism is alive and well in 2013, and what’s striking is the recent notable examples aimed at interracial couples – or one of their children.
Even breakfast cereal commercials aren’t safe. A recent Cheerios ad depicting an interracial couple and their multiracial child got so many racist remarks on YouTube that the company had to disable the comments.
There is nothing out of the ordinary about the commercial, except that the parents happen to be an interracial couple.
Today is the 46th anniversary of that decision, and one in seven new marriages in the United States is interracial or interethnic. Multiracial Americans are the fastest-growing youth demographic.
While the negative comments about the Cheerios commercial made it newsworthy, there were also many others who showed their support for the Cheerios brand.
Multiracial Americans of Southern California, a multiethnic community group, started a Facebook album for people to post photos of themselves holding a box of Cheerios. And in articles and in social media, supporters expressed gratitude to General Mills for depicting a multiracial family.
The weddings of two multiracial couples from high-profile families also prompted racist comments online. Lindsay Marie Boehner, daughter of House Speaker John Boehner, married Dominic Lakhan, a black Jamaican man. And Jack McCain, son of Sen. John McCain, married Renee Swift, a woman of color.
The reaction to these marriages is reminiscent of the response to the marriage of Peggy Rusk – the daughter of then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk – and Guy Smith, a black man. In 1967, interracial marriage was a cover story, several months after laws against interracial marriage were struck down.
Things have changed since then, but not enough.
In a 2011 Gallup poll, 86% of Americans approved of “marriage between blacks and whites.” In 1958, the approval rating was 4%. But it makes me wonder: What do the other 14% of Americans think? Apparently, many of them spend a lot of time leaving comments online.
The election of Barack Obama inspired many of us to hope that widespread racism was a relic of the past.
And while he was elected to a second term, we must not be complacent when it comes to racism in our daily lives. We must seek out opportunities to educate others about the history of our civil rights.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wished that his children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I wonder what he would think of our collective progress as the 50th anniversary of his “I Have a Dream” speech approaches.
On June 15th, the 10th annual Loving Day Flagship Celebration in New York City will draw an expected 1,500 guests. And while many participants are multiracial, anyone can host a Loving Day Celebration for friends and family, and make it a part of their annual traditions.
We need to work collectively to fight prejudice through education and build a strong sense of multiethnic community. If we do, one day we might live in a nation where the racial identities of politicians’ children’s spouses are no longer national news, and cereal commercials are more about cereal than race.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ken Tanabe.
Mildred and Richard Loving