Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Exaggeration in the Rear-View

A few days ago, I got in a blowout fight with my on-and-off partner of the last two years. During this fight, I said, "You don't even want to connect with me at all." Later, in heated Facebook messages, he brought this up as one of the things I'd said or done that bothered him the most.

The day following the fight I was in the car with my mom, on the way to her place for Christmas. We were discussing (more aptly, complaining about and processing) the biggest trauma our family has seen in a long time- my aunt selling the family land, which, although she has the title to, was supposed to be available for my mom to live on permanently in lieu of the inheritance she signed off on. And, as of last summer, was supposed to be left to me. My aunt is selling, she says, because she has severe health problems and needs money to retire. In a recent letter to my mom, my aunt wrote that "you [my mom] don't care about my health at all". This part of the letter upset my mom more than almost anything else my aunt has said.

As soon as I heard my mom relay this, I began to draw parallels. In both cases, the speaker is desperately upset. In both cases, the statement is not entirely true. And in both cases, the person the statement is about is incredibly bothered by it. My mom and I do care about my aunt's health problems - but not as much as we would if she had come to us and asked us for help financially, instead of selling this precious property out from under us. Similarly, my (ex?)-boyfriend did express care for me, but was more focused on himself than helping me at the time.

I shared my thoughts with my mom, wanting her to philosophize with me, hoping that perhaps together we'd find some great revelation about life. But she was still focused on her frustration with my aunt, leaving me to mull it over myself.

I don't have any answers really, except to note this tendency (is it just my family? or is it a human thing?) to feel so desperate and empty that we exaggerate, in a sense, although in the moment it seems true, the lack of care we perceive from others. The only better option I see for myself, or my aunt (though I won't be telling her directly) is to do our best to stay present with our feelings and needs. It would be different, if my aunt or I had said instead, "I am hurting so much right now. I am really needing to be cared for, I am needing help taking care of myself!" I don't know how my mom or my (ex?)-boyfriend would have responded to my aunt and me, respectively, but I imagine it would have gone over a little better.

Hindsight is always 20/20 though.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Truth of Kindness

 If I could tell the whole world one thing today, it would be that honesty and kindness are in no way in opposition to each other. Not at all. Anything that is unkind can also not be true. Anything that is true cannot be unkind.

Why do I believe this, when I live in a culture where people use phrases like "I'm just being honest" after calling someone a bitch? Well, its mostly because of my exploration of a process called Nonviolent Communication, or Compassionate Communication. This philosophy, developed by Marshall Rosenberg, teaches that the only statements we can make with any strong degree of certainty are descriptions of our internal world. This is known as what is alive in us.

While judgments are always open to interpretation, I alone know what is going on inside of me at any moment (if I am self-connected that is, but that is another story). If I say that you're an idiot, we may start arguing about whether that's true. Chances are you'll only agree if you have insufficient quantities of self-worth, or have reached enlightenment and therefore embrace every quality or characteristic equally. If I say instead that I feel frustrated when I see that you've left the ice cream out on the counter, because I'm wanting cleanliness and also to enjoy the ice cream in a slightly less viscous state, you are a lot more likely to understand what's going on with me.

This approach can be taken in the political realm too. It is not very kind of us to say that Obama is a lying two-faced bastard of a pawn who might as well be Bush in a mask, even if we think it is true. This thought is really speaking to how deeply the thinker may want to live in a world where everyone is safe, where we resolve our conflicts peacefully, and people have the ability to speak and travel freely without fear of losing their physical freedom. As Rosenberg would say, judgments are superficial. We really start to move towards resolution when we identify the desire or need fueling the judgment. And the more intense the judgment, the more desperately we probably want whatever is behind it.

Awhile ago I was involved in a situation where someone called another person a dirtbag, and then tried to say this was 'true' because of the person's actions. I am disturbed and unsettled about this. If anyone can ever 'truly' be a dirtbag because of their actions, then that means you and I can too. But I know, and maybe you know too, that all of our actions are just us doing the best we can with what we know. Maybe if the speaker of these words knew better, they would connect to how deeply they are wanting safety, or respect, or whatever it is, rather than throwing around insults. Then they would express their truth, and it wouldn't take away from the ability to be kind whatsoever.

This idea is a pretty radical departure from many people's worldview, I know. Yet can you see the truth in it? Please share what this brings up for you below!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Occupy Wall Street - 100%

Dearest Occupiers, in New York, in Portland, in Los Angeles, in Seattle, in my city Chico, and everywhere,

Thank you for your courage in standing up during these fucked up times to say, we can do better than this! I honor your bright hearts and directed, unified action.

I have been hearing a lot about the 99% of Americans who collectively make less than the other 1%. This is indeed a sad and telling statistic. It is a good thing to ask where our values lie, and if we are willing to participate in a system that creates such unequal distribution of resources.

I want to encourage you, however, to realize that this statistic does not have to be a dividing line in an Us vs Them revolution. The powerful movement unfolding in front of us can, and I believe must, be open and inclusive to 100% of our fellow citizens.

I would advise you to not get caught up in the trap of thinking that money can provide happiness. It can provide ease and comfort, but the bankers and stockbrokers are surely no more fulfilled in their lives than any of the rest of us. In many cases, I would wager less so. They know on some level that they daily contribute immensely to others' suffering and the degradation of the planet. Now is your chance to offer them something better: a way out of the gang they've been trapped in.

I feel very concerned that if we do not offer a vision of the future that is happier than our present to everyone, this revolution will be much more painful, and in the long run, less significant.

So, as you walk the streets of New York, I invite you to call to the police officers and high-rise windows: Join us! Leave your lives of isolation and depression, trying to buy enough commodities to fill up the hole in your heart! Come play music, eat a communal meal, learn the simple but incomparable joy of sharing with a community and having deep friendships. Invite them to consider the possibility that their souls will be nourished by acting from a place of love rather than individualism.

I worry that some protesters will think this is unrealistic. That the bankers are too corrupt, are inherently evil. I understand why it is difficult not to think so. Believe me, I condemn and hate people fiercely at times too, when I hear of an atrocity that speaks particularly to my heart. Nevertheless I know we are all sentient, living creatures with the potential to act wisely and compassionately. Give people enough opportunity to do so, offer them a vision of a better world, and they will eventually take it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Haggling in the First World -- Skill or Sin?

Have you ever picked up an item at a retail store only to put it down because it was more than you were willing to pay? What if you could go up to the check-out stand and offer a lower price for that item, and get it?

A girl in my painting class recently announced that her surplus art supplies were for sale to any interested students. After taking a look, I offered to buy two pads of watercolor paper for a few dollars less than what she was asking. I was surprised to hear her say no, especially because no one else was interested and she sounded like she wanted some quick money. Not only that, she seemed offended, as if I was trying to take advantage of her. Meanwhile I was offended that she wanted me to pay such a high price for second-hand goods, so I didn't buy them.

Also in the past few days, I was eight cents short on a purchase at my local used bookstore. Usually I would ask if what I had was sufficient, but I sensed that the clerk wasn't into making exceptions. Apparently I was correct, because instead of waving it off as many cashiers would have, she sat there stoically while I dug deeper and deeper in my wallet and purse, and even went outside to bum a dime off a passerby. Ironically, I ended up giving her four cents more than the total, and she didn't offer me change! Not that I care about four cents, but it's strange that she was so determined to get her due and yet thought the pennies on my end were irrelevant.

All this has me wondering: why is haggling employed so infrequently in the so-called first world, even to the point of becoming a social transgression? My entire adult life has been full of rainbow gathering trade circles; clothing swaps; yard sales; and free boxes, so I'm used to bargaining for a better deal. Traveling in Guatemala earlier this year certainly encouraged this tendency; the merchants there (and in most of the third world, I imagine) expect you to haggle, so they raise their prices above what they really want.

I'd like to haggle wherever I go. I dream of a world with more flexibility, where commerce involves communication, and therefore meaningful relationships. I understand that sometimes prices are firm because that is what it takes to make ends meet, but even if the other person doesn't want to lower their price, I'd like to know I can make an offer without creating dissonance. There must be ways to do this, even in our culture. For example, I thought about asking that girl in my class if she had been offended and explaining that it was not my intention to give her a bad deal.

How about you? If you're reading this right now, have any similar experiences come to mind? Or maybe you will be inspired to try out haggling now -- if you're willing to take the risk! Please share your stories and tips on how to haggle in the world of firm prices below in the comments section, and check back for others' suggestions. Together we will undermine the 'firm price' economy.... Mwuhahahaha!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jesus Loves Harry Potter

**HUGE SPOILER WARNING -- Do NOT read unless you've read the entire series or don't care -- Jonah, this means you)**

I just watched the second half of the final Harry Potter movie, and I loved it. I clapped when McGonagall had the Slytherins taken to the dungeons, I cried more than once. This movie and the first half were the only two that did the books justice in my opinion.

Walking out of the movie theater, I reflected on why the Harry Potter story means so much to me. What values does it demonstrate that are significant to me? I came up with friendship, loyalty, bravery, and transformation. Also, although madness abounds in Harry's life, he has the consistency of two best friends who are with him through thick and thin. I've always wanted friends like that, and moving around a lot as a child, it was impossible to form such relationships. So I met my need vicariously through these characters.

I love the Harry Potter characters. They seem more real than a lot of people do to me. When one dies, my heart aches. When two kiss, it leaps for joy. Their challenges and struggles matter to me, and I see them as honorable people. Which is why I was so offended when, as I was unlocking my bike from in front of the theatre, an old man asked me what movie I had seen and then began to rant about how he will never see Harry Potter because its black magic. Looking back to that moment just about an hour ago, I see that I felt hurt. But my first response was defensiveness, especially because I'd recently read some websites espousing similar attitudes.

I tried calmly telling him that that is a common misunderstanding, and that the story is actually about fighting black magic (Voldemort), not practicing it. And then he started ranting about how the bible already tells you all about that blah blah blah. I thought of saying, "Jesus loves Harry Potter," but instead said, "The bible is just a book. Learn how to think for yourself."

I wish I had said that Jesus loves Harry Potter though. The Jesus I was taught to know and love as a child would surely appreciate the way Harry embodies so many of the qualities that Jesus taught:

~courage and leadership in the face of power being wielded to evil ends (Satan & the Pharisees/Voldemort)

~humility (Harry digs Dobby's grave by hand doesn't he?)

~mercy (he rescues Draco and Co. from the fire in the Room of Requirement after they've tried to kill him. Come on, what is more merciful than that?)

Add to this the fact that Harry is ultimately willing to DIE FOR HIS FRIENDS AND THE GOOD OF ALL WIZARDS AND MUGGLES ALIKE (to protect them from Voldemort) and you might not be surprised if he had a WWJD key chain in his pouch along with his broken wand and other trinkets. But even if he doesn't, Harry Potter is still a great model of what I hope are still Christian values--if people aren't blinded by oversimplification of a complicated issue such as what the bible and/or Jesus actually asks or demands of people.

For one, Jesus actually said that Christians do not have to follow the old Jewish laws. So anything the Old Testament says about divination and sorcery being bad can be thrown out the window for Christians; he said that people would be saved by faith, not deeds. And its important to analyze any historical text in the context of its surroundings-- even if he did condemn 'witchcraft' (remembering this is an English word and that he spoke Hebrew, so who knows how well we're getting the grasp of the situation), do you really think he meant wizards trying to save the world are wrong or sinful? I'm sure he wouldn't want Voldemort to take over the world any more than the devil.

So, props to Harry for saving the world, and props to Jesus for being smarter than most of your modern day followers. And go see the final movie-- it's great.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Structure of Heartbreak

The battle's lost. It's going up. There's nothing I can do to stop it, and I can't make anyone else be motivated enough to try. That's what I thought, and part of me still thinks, about the proposed new Chico State parking structure.

There is a way in which accepting this possibility actually helps me to believe in the possibility of it's opposite. By grieving the loss of this symbolic confrontation of local vs. industrial, bike vs. car, accountability vs. convenience, I actually opened up to the possibility that it isn't inevitable that the parking structure will in fact be built.

Thinking about this issue, I feel angry. I feel shaky. I feel scared. Chico is my sanctuary from the rest of the industrial world, and it is a sanctuary that is constantly being threatened by those using their power to cut down trees, pave over fields of flowers, and otherwise disrespect and ignore the rights of nonhuman beings to live and thrive.

It is so easy to get caught up in blame and name-calling when it comes to an issue this close to my heart. See above paragraph for example. Those words aren't going to open anyone up to appreciating nonhuman life if they don't already. They would just hear it as criticism and write me off me as a tree-hugging hippie.

I say those words, (or write them, in this case), because I am pleading with the world, tragically perhaps, to please care about how desperate I feel every time I see a new building going up, especially in my hometown. Please care, please listen with your heart to how deeply and painfully I need safety, beauty, and nurturance in the place I live.

I need safety from cars who can run me and my sweet squirrel and bird friends over, not to mention pollute the air and water directly and more often indirectly.

I need beauty, which to me means blue skies (and sunsets!) clearly visible wherever I go, unless they are blocked out by lush green leaves waving in the breeze, not walls of concrete, no matter how "sustainably designed" or even mosaic-ed they are.

I need nurturance, which again means blue skies and green trees, and the hope that somehow Chico is going to come together and put true sustainability -- emotional, psychological, and ecological sustainability -- on the front burner, so that somehow we might survive the coming changes in our society, economy, and biosphere.

I am trying to understand the needs of the people who want this parking structure. I am trying to understand in hopes that I can help them find another way to meet these needs, which of course they don't believe exists. I am trying to understand while my heart is breaking as I watch the snowball of expansion get bigger with each revolution down the hill.

I talked to a young man on campus yesterday who supports this parking structure. I told him that I am a local and I am upset that people who live here for a few years are destroying the town I intend to live in for the rest of my life. He didn't care. He thinks he's entitled to his parking, that thousands of dollars in energy and resources towards more concrete is a reasonable price to pay for convenience. How can someone be so indifferent to the effect they have on a place they are only living in temporarily?

I think it's because he's not indigenous. Indigenous in the sense of having a place you can really call home, a place where the Earth reaches up and wraps her roots around your feet because she loves you so much, a place where you've climbed the trees and swam the rivers and come to love a place like a family member, a loving grandparent that cares for you unconditionally, emotionally if not physically.

Because even those of us raised on hot dogs and TV dinners, who never learned to forage or garden, can and have connected with the nonhuman world in deep ways. And I don't think that anyone who has felt this connection, and remembers it, would ever vote to approve another giant gray slab of housing for the machines that are one of the main physical manifestations of our imbalance with the world we live in.

And if you haven't ever felt that connection, wouldn't you like to? To know that in the bigger picture, you belong? That there is something to soothe and caress the emptiness in your heart, even if it can't make the emptiness go away? Wouldn't it be worth it to ride a bike in the rain once in a while, or carpool with a friend, or -- God-forbid -- take the bus, if you knew it was for the benefit of real, living beings, and the sanctity of a real, living, community? (They are rare these days, after all.)

My heart might break if this parking structure goes up, and if so, may it break open, rather than shut down, as it's been trying to do to avoid the pain of beauty being sacrificed for convenience. May it break open so that I can love all the more deeply, and may I be as tender as a mussel pulled up from the sea.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Most of the people I spend a lot of time with practice at least some degree of conscious eating. Whether they are vegan, vegetarian, whole foods, raw, or focusing on food combining and acid-to-alkaline balance, they are all a part of the conversation on how to best nurture our bodies through diet.

This conversation is a very different one from the one which stems from the USDA food pyramid and FDA required labeling on calories and percent daily values. My understanding, based on years of experience with intentional eating and knowledge shared with me from many sources, is that the people at the FDA and USDA don't know what the fuck they're talking about. They are in the pockets of food industry giants, and are willing to lie or withhold information from the public for their own convenience or profit. Even when they do put forth information they believe to be for the good of all, it is based on the philosophy of separateness (isolated protein and fat rather than beans and avocados), which does not truly nourish our bodies, which need whole foods to digest properly. So, before you continue reading, entertain the notion for a moment that this is true, that the government is both ignorant and deceptive when it comes to healthy eating. And if you're not convinced, do some research.

Rather than count grams of protein (anyway, most Americans have more protein in their diet than they need: or other nutrients, I recommend and strive to practice more intuitive and holistic healthy eating choices. Recently someone commented to me that vegetarian food takes a long time to prepare. This statement only makes sense if you equate vegetarianism with whole foods eating. It is easy to be a junk food vegetarian, living on mac'n'cheese, PB&J's, canned soups, and other prepackaged foods. These types of vegetarians scour the ingredients lists of candies for gelatin, not caring about dyes and other strange additives. I've done this off and on since becoming vegetarian at age 12, but less and less so as I grow older.

The flip side of why that statement rubbed me the wrong way is that people who eat meat can and should take just as long to prepare their food, if not longer, because meat takes longer to cook. If you eat processed, microwaved meat products it won't take longer of course. But I could just as easily pop some broccoli and asparagus in the microwave with some cheese and butter and be good to go-- except that I don't want to eat food that's been radiated. (Plants grown in microwaved water do much more poorly than plants grown in filtered or even tap water. Get some seeds and see for yourself.)If I suddenly decided to eat meat, I would get it from the farmer's market or the organic butcher and cook it up with my fresh veggies and grains that I already use to make wholesome dinners.

Here are two of my main criteria for determining if I am eating healthfully:

1. Am I eating fresh, local, and in season? If the food traveled more than a hundred miles, it's probably too much, though there's room for exceptions (I indulge in a Thai young coconut or bunch of bananas on occasion).

Less distance is better. Fresh food is packed full of enzymes and life-force that keep you feeling alive and rejuvenated. Eating seasonally will also help you eat more balanced, rather than getting stuck on eating one thing all the time. As the seasons change you get to experiment with different foods.

2. Do I have a balance of sweets, fats, and greens? These general categories sum up the food groups for raw foodists, but I find it to be helpful in my life as a cooked food eater as well.

Sweets are fruits, such as watermelon, oranges, apples, mandarins, loquats, kiwis...etc. Tomatoes are also pretty sweet, as well as a lot of foods we often don't think of as fruit. Honey also goes here.

Healthy fats include avocados, coconuts, and seeds and nuts, or if you eat meat it might include fat from a *healthy* and *well-treated* animal. Butter, cheese, and other dairy products would also go here.

Greens are not just leafy greens like kale and chard, although those are important; this category includes other veggies as well. Squash, potatoes, and eggplant would all be included here.

You may have noticed that this categorizing doesn't emphasize grains or beans. One way of looking at it is that they are actually included in greens, since they are a plant. But I also think that grains are not nearly as important as they've been made out to be. They are a staple food simply because they are produced on such a massive level, rather than the other way around. People can and do live healthy lives full of vitality without them.

Here's a recipe for a healthy meal I cooked for my family recently, that they loved even though they don't usually make food like this.

Tofu Teriyaki Noodles

Shopping List

Farmer's Market:

~Fresh seasonal veggies. I used mushrooms, asparagus, snow peas, carrots, and a pinch of garlic.
~Local raw honey (will also prevent allergies)
~Lettuce, spinach, cilantro, peppers, whatever you like for a side salad

Natural Food Store:

~Soba noodles, available in bulk. Amount depends on how many people are eating. Other noodles will work if these are not available.
~Firm tofu. Buy it in bulk if you can, its much better than the stuff in plastic tubs at Winco or Safeway.
~Soy sauce
~Fresh ginger (powdered will work though)


Here comes the multitasking! You might want to get help from a friend. Eating together is more fun anyway.

Boil water. When it comes to a boil put in the soba noodles and let them cook until soft but not falling apart. Make sure to keep an eye on them and when done drain water and then put back in pot, not on heat.

As the noodles are boiling cut up the veggies and place in a pan with a little water to steam. Put in hard veggies first and end with soft ones (for example carrots, then asparagus and mushrooms because they are thick though not hard, then snow peas).

Once the veggies are getting a little soft, you'll add the ingredients for the sauce. Soy sauce, honey, and ginger are all that is needed. Store bought teriyaki sauces often contain strange additives and use sugar instead of honey, so I like to make it at home. Add each ingredient to your personal taste. I splashed the veggies in soy sauce, drizzled on honey, and added maybe a big tablespoon of finely chopped ginger.

Let the veggies soak up the flavoring on low heat. Get out a smaller pan and heat up some oil in it. Don't use olive oil. Coconut will probably be best, but others will work too. Cut the tofu into big squares and plop in the hot oil. Yum! Watch it sizzle. You can add soy sauce, ginger, or garlic to this pan as well. Keep flipping it every few minutes til the outside of the tofu is lightly browned, then turn it off.

If the veggies are ready, turn them off and make the salad, or you can do it while they are simmering. I like to use red butter lettuce, spinach, and cilantro as the base for salad. Grate carrots and add whatever else is in season to the top.

When you get a chance, make garlic bread by buttering bread and adding chopped garlic and popping it in the oven.

Turn off the vegetables when they are cooked to your liking, and mix the tofu in with them. If you used coconut oil you can mix it in with the veggies; other oils might not taste as good.

Serve the vegetables over the noodles with salad and garlic bread on the side. For salad dressing I use olive oil, soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos, vinegar (balsamic or apple cider are my favorites), and nutritional yeast. Or Annie's Goddess Dressing is the bomb.

In this insane culture we don't always have time to make ourselves dinner. I don't do this everyday. Just today I had a veggie burger with fries at school because I'd ran out of the house without food and had class most of the day. It wasn't nearly as nourishing as freshly steamed asparagus and snow peas though, nor as tasty.

If you haven't taken much time for cooking in your life, I recommend it. Use it as a meditation, slowly chopping as you observe your breath and feel your feet on the kitchen floor. You might notice that the longer you think you're taking -- i.e. the the less you stress -- the less time it actually takes. Regardless, you'll enjoy your dinner more if you're calm. And it's so worth it. Just make sure to feed people so they have to do the dishes!

Monday, February 28, 2011

The time has come...

...the Walrus said, to talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings.*

And Tantra, I would add, because as I thought of writing a blog about Tantra and what it means to me, the phrase that kept playing in my mind was, The time has come! To share one of the most meaningful, perhaps the most meaningful thing I have stumbled upon in my life, which in actuality is just another word and another way to describe the nature of existence, and the sacred opportunity in this existence for supreme enjoyment and the cessation of suffering.

Some people may think that Tantra is some weird New Age-y creeper excuse to fool around with anyone they want, or do weird sexual activities. Others denounce Tantra's manifestation in the West as 'cultural theft', reminding us that to truly practice Tantra we would be having a Kali Puja and making garlands along with making love. Still others say that Tantra isn't really about sex, but is about being present in the moment, aware of our connection to all of this. This last explanation sounds similar to many doctrines of various spiritual traditions.

So which is true? To me, Tantra is a couple of things. For one, its any kind of structured practice that can be done alone or with another person (or group of persons) that increases presence, bodily awareness, and energy moving through the body, often causing extremely enjoyable or at least interesting sensations. This could be anything from eye contact and breath-work to honest dialogue to meditating on your chakras while shaking your butt until golden light streams out the top of your head. In the SkyDancing Tantra tradition, such practices are usually done within Sacred Space, for which there is a specific ritual.

I highly value these Tantric practices as portals to the realm of consciousness that is the other way I think of Tantra-- the state of experiencing the divinity, the magnificence, the Godliness, in any seemingly "ordinary" thing, from a lover to a rose to a miniature pony-- or even a piece of paper in a book or journal. The thought occurs-- "Wow! How marvelous that this exists!"

Yet it isn't even a thought, for the thought simply points to the experience of amazement, or calm inner peace, or being silenced by the magnitude of it all, or all three at once. The association of Tantra with sex can be explained by the feelings of 'arousal' that often accompany such experience. Energy may flow up from your root chakra and through the center of your body, stopping at your heart, or head, or traveling all the way out, up into the cosmos. I speak from my experience, but I hypothesize that it is much the same for most people, and that we all ultimately have the potential to experience this. When we experience Oneness, it feels hot.

A simple explanation for this is that what we call sex energy is in actuality just life energy that we are interpreting in a certain way. When we feel a lot of it, such as that surge that occurs when your nose meets the rose, or your cheek passes across her petals, it reminds of us sex, because sex is one of the main activities we allow ourselves to do that invokes passion in this modern life. People with a particular active passion in life, such as bicycling or surfing, often experience this feeling while doing what they love.

Sex is also one of the few things we do that breaks down our sociology of Separation, enabling us to experience that Oneness. We can experience this tingling energy at any moment though, without any kind of structured practice (though I do believe the practices help), simply by breathing and relaxing into the moment, embracing whatever sensations we are experiencing. The cat's fur! The softness of a loved blanket! The mud between my toes! The keyboard under my fingers! All of them are making love to me, stimulating my sensory experience. Key in this is not having any expectation. Ecstasy and bliss are gifts of grace which cannot be forced.

Try it sometime. Imagine the whole world is making love to you. Become present. Look around and wonder at it all. Is the sycamore tree on the corner any less magical than a pig with wings? Is the car driving by any less absurd than the idea of the sea being boiling hot? Its all a Miracle--- All of It! (Even if we want to change some of it, like the cars!)

And if it feels to out of touch, or too chaotic, or you want to know how to use this aspect of existence to connect with a beloved, I recommend taking a workshop with Steve and Lokita Carter ( or reading anything by Margot Anand (I have The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, I hear The Art of EveryDay Ecstasy is good too). Their guidance can wrap a nice bubble of structure and safety around that Greatness. I'm open to discussion about this too, or sitting in meditation while the breeze kisses our faces and serenades us as it passes through the trees....

Thank you for reading my take on Tantra and the love of the world. I envision myself finding even clearer ways to articulate the subtle beauty of these experiences, and so offer them to the collective conscious here or elsewhere.

Remember to breathe _()_
It's happening NOW!

*poem from Lewis Carroll

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Memories of Love

I'm sitting in a circle in the backyard of a friend's house on Pinto Lane. Its one of the shorter streets in the neighborhood, and the one I often had to run down to catch the ice cream truck. Its summer, so I might have just eaten one of those ice creams --my favorite was the strawberry shortcakes, but they were more expensive, so I usually settled for another favorite, fifty-fifty bars for only 50 cents.

In the circle around me are friends and acquaintances from the neighborhood, from my best friend to kids I barely talked to. Most of them were from two families who'd been fruitful and multiplied, as the saying goes. The gathering is inspired by the the visit of our friend Courtney (no relation to current Courtney's in my life, I've lost track of this one) who had lived on perpendicular Palomino Avenue and had moved away. And I believe it was she who initiated playing Truth or Dare.

It comes to be my turn, and Courtney asks the inevitable question: "Truth or dare?" I had seen what some of the other kids had to do when dared, so I thought I'd stick with the safe one. "Truth," I reply. Her next words will prove me oh-so-wrong.

"Do you have a crush on Matt?" she asks. My world collapses. I don't have space to exist, let alone breathe. My whole face tenses up as I try not to react. The world is ending.

"No," I say.

A small explosion of outcries bursts from the various parts of the circle.

"Yes you do Meagan, don't lie!"

"Its Truth or Dare, you have to tell the truth!"

"We all know you do, just say it!"

But I won't. To confess to my crush on Matt seems somehow like the worst thing I could possibly do. And I never wonder why. I just know I won't say it, can't say it, even though everyone truly does know. There was some small glimmer of telling the truth, but it quickly vanished. I ran home in shame.


Back. Back further, deeper in the recesses of my child mind. Four years earlier. I am five years old, riding in the car with my mom and her boyfriend's daughter, Tiffany. We are delivering presents to Nathan, my best friends older brother, for his birthday. Because you see, before there was Matt, there was Nathan. Before the sun rose and set on Matt -- which it did for many years -- Nathan had my love. He, also, could never know.(Do all small children crush this hard? I don't think so, but I also doubt that I am alone....)

We pull up in front of their house, and pull the presents out of the back. I'm apprehensive. Tiffany and I (for she has decided to have a crush on Nathan too) have enclosed small, short love notes with our presents. I am terrified. I wrote one because Tiffany did. At six years, she is bolder than me. More self-assured. And lives in the next town, meaning she doesn't have to see him often enough to be embarrassed. The note has fallen off my present in the car. This is exactly the excuse I need! Mine does not have to be delivered. I began to pout, pretending unconsciously that I am upset because Tiffany's note will be delivered and mine won't. Some part of me knows though, that I am pouting because I felt unworthy. Unworthy. I am unworthy to have a crush on this older boy, or any boy for that matter. I am ashamed of wanting him to like me back. Of wanting love.

The note is found though. My easy way out is blocked. I continue to pout though, and say, no, its too late now, never mind. It doesn't make any sense. I am just afraid to be seen for any attachment, any desire. I am not worthy.


This sense of unworthiness has not gone away, though I have acted in spite of it. For I did finally tell someone that I had a crush on him, when I was 14. And it led to a relationship of sorts (the junior high kind). It was one of the scariest things I've ever done. Since then I have expressed romantic feelings many times, but never without initial fear and awkwardness.


I passed a flower in the rose garden earlier this week, a white rose that smelled like vanilla. I wouldn't have noticed her among the dormant rose bushes had I not chosen to cut a corner through the garden rather than follow the right angles of the alternative path: a small gift from my choice to be present.

Today I walked by to discover that the roses have all been pruned back aggressively. Had I waited just one day or two later to cut through that path, I would have seen no roses, only stubs of thorny branches. I thought about picking the flower, but decided to let her live. Had I known she would be cut down soon anyway, I probably would have taken her. Its OK though, because then I might not have noticed the change.

I'm thinking of this rose as my Valentine's Day rose. Thank you flower. I honor you.

Maybe this story is my gift to the community for the season of love awareness (though in my spiritual tradition it is later in the Spring that we celebrate love). It is a sad story, but it is real. It comes from a distant time, a time of experiences and emotions as children know them, somehow deeper and more profound in their simplicity. Thank you for reading my story, for witnessing some of my memories of love.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Coming Home

The moment I arrived at my first rainbow gathering, I knew this was the place I´d been looking for my whole life. I felt at home in a way I hadn´t since my departure from Oneness into this Avatar called Meagan.

Just kidding (or am I?).

Seriously though, my time at my first national rainbow gathering, in the northern part of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, was a time of finding my place in the world, a sense of relaxation and fullness, maybe like how it feels when you find your true love or life purpose. The paths all intertwined in completely off-the-grid type ways, winding back into one another and leading you straight to your camp just when you though you were lost, or possibly guiding you to stumble upon pizza made in a stone and mud oven, or hippies singing naked on top of a wooden pirate ship. Here you could sit in the middle of the path asking for donations of small crystals, chocolate, or other valuable goods, and no one would arrest you or tell you to move it along. People would smile and make friends, and walk around you on the path.

I spent two and a half weeks at my first national rainbow gathering. When I left, my first shower lasted at least an hour before a fellow traveler knocked on the door saying it was their turn, and I didn´t know what to do because I´d never got out of a shower before with dirt still coming off me. I longed for a place like this to be always, a tribe and village following the philosophy of live and let live, where the paths aren´t based on cars or even bikes, but our very own feet and their relationship with the forest.

Little did I know at that time that permanent settlements of this nature really do exist in the world, and that one day I would follow a message from the Mystery to a small and sacred collection of them. This place is Lake Atitlan, or more specifically the towns nestled on the edge of it, with varying proportions of locals and foreigners looking to escape the western grind.

No, there aren´t many naked hippies (the influence of Catholicism here might hinder that), but there are people sitting in the streets bartering their wares (like a giant trade circle!). There are paths where no car tired can tread, where even tuk-tuks or bicycles find it difficult to pass. A few days after my arrival I discovered that this town is not nearly as big as I thought it was, because it winds back on itself, and I thought I was on drugs until I realized that this place knows no grid, it has grown organically, as all Earth-creations are wont to do.

Yesterday I cried as I walked through San Marcos, where the first path you walk on upon arrival by lancha is so obviously made for humans, not for cars or other machines. The cobblestones wind through the scattered restaurants and spiritual retreat centers like a peaceful stream, flowing through the path of least resistance.

Aaah surrender. This place isn´t perfect. The pollution here is devastating, but surely no worse than in the States. Its just hidden better in the States. There are lessons to learn from this place though, and I don´t know how I will return home now to the grid. What can I do? Surely the only logical thing to do is stand before city council and cry, sobbing that we must learn to organize our lives in ways that nourish our souls.

Who knows if this passion will still be that alive when I return, but here is one small record of the innate human response to living even a little closer to the land we are made of, set forth because the energy needed somewhere to go.

I post this as a prayer that all our souls may be nourished by the place we live, more and more each day, and that we remember our ability and response-ability to co-create that nourishing environment.

Amen, Blessed Be, Auuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Health & Healing

It seems like years ago that I was laying in a hammock talking to a young woman from Canada on Guatemala´s Pacific coast about health care.

The conversation brought to mind an idea I once came up with, that if a group of people wants to organize themselves into a cohesive body, inherent in that organization is that all members look out for one another´s well being. Few hunter-gathererers would stay with a band of people who didn´t share their food or look out for each others safety and health. There would be no point.

Somehow this quality of looking out for one another, intrinsic to human existence, has come to be called `socialism`, or sometimes `communism`, and is treated like the plague in the more ignorant parts of the world (coughcoughunitedstates).

Leaving aside the idea that we are one human family for a moment, its completely understandable that someone living in Texas or Miami wouldn`t give a rat`s ass about the health and well-being of poor liberal children in California.

However, if you don`t see yourself as responsible for someone`s else well-being, neither are they obligated to make or follow social agreements with you.

You can`t have it both ways, simultaneously telling people that you are all one nation, under God, and must abide by the same codes of living (called laws), and that everyone is accountable to the so-called justice system, and then treat people like they aren`t part of your tribe by denying them food, health care, or other assistance while you have more than enough. Its hypocritical.

However I got really jaded about this whole concept as I started thinking about the toxicity of so-called healthcare in the States. People drugged up on pharmaceuticals they don`t even need, women being told they can`t have their babies at home, kids misdiagnosed with learning disabilities because they`re being driven crazy from being stuck in a dreary classroom all day when they should be out climbing trees. Who wants this kind of universal healthcare? Not I.

So, the solution is to totally re-vamp all aspects of our healthcare system, making it holistic and truly accessible. Simple, right?

Monday, January 3, 2011


For some reason I had decided on fries at the bus stop forty five minutes out of Los Amates, and as the Chapin woman in charge of this food station began to hurriedly scoop them into a small cardboard box, a large roach (well, large for my hometown. Small for around here) crawled out from under the metal pans holding sandwich fillings.

Despite my nausea, this six-legged appearance couldn´t have been timed more appropriately. On the way up to Finca El ParaĆ­so, from which I was now returning, I had shared with my fellow traveler Michelle my thoughts on the conflict between anthropocentrism and the pest-like behavior of my species.

¨What is the meeting place between these two conflicting ideas?¨I asked. I felt like I was on the edge of something big. I had two opposing perspectives mapped out in my head. On the one side is my basic opinion that civilized humans are a scourge on the Earth; we act in many ways just as cockroaches, bed bugs, termites, cancerous cells, or any other infestation of small and noxious creatures does-- over-breeding, over-crowding, and generally polluting our environment with toxic waste, concrete, and plastic.

On the other hand, I love my species, and watching the innocent glowing smiles of Chapin children reaching up through the window of a shuttle (a mini-van designed for maybe ten but filled with twenty or more people, if you include those on the roof) to squeeze their departing relatives´ hands is enough to make my heart ache. This love and appreciation of our species had led many people to believe we are somehow superior to other life on the planet, and, in some minds, not even regular animals but creations of God, made in his image, meant to have dominion over the Earth. This dogma of superiority justifies our endless use of other life and the basic elements of this planet for our own pleasure and luxury.

I knew that somewhere in the friction between these seemingly opposite perspectives was some greater Truth, and Michelle´s response deepened my understanding of this situation, although it turned out to be much simpler than I expected. She said that the halfway point between anthropocentrism and human-as-pest is that we are just animals--not superior, and not inferior, but just animals like all those other animals around us.

Contemplating this I thought it was problematic, because our status as animals, who are therefore natural, has been and is used to justify our destructive behavior as also natural.

What this did help me understand though is why many humans have so much resistance to seeing themselves as animals. In our superior state, there is no point in comparing ourselves to animals, because we are governed by a different set of rules. But if we see ourselves as animals, then we might start to compare ourselves to other animals, and see a lot of room for growth.

We might see how we act as ants, running around in cities barely acknowleding each other, all interactions having to do with the distribution and exchange of resources (commerce), mostly for the queen (the elite few who hold most of the global economy´s wealth). We would see how little of the things we say we value so much about ourselves--compassion, mercy, ability for connection and intimacy-- are actually played out in every day encounters, at least in places that have been industrialized -- ¨developed¨, as the capitalist adherents would say.

We would see how, as Edward Abbey so aptly put it, we have adopted the philosophy of the cancer cell in aiming for infinite growth, and that hoping to colonize other planets when we destroy this one is sickeningly selfish.

I´ve been reading a book involving doing shadow work for the past month or so, although I didn´t bring it with me to Guatemala. The basic premise of this book is that we reject the parts of ourselves that we don´t accept, but this exacerbates them and is one of the main sources of the problems in our lives.

Civilized humans wage war on pests. We bring in toxic chemicals to rid our homes of insects that have found a niche to live in, exposing children and pets to carcinogenic compounds. Then of course we also wage a war on cancer, fetishizing the victims of this civilized disease to distract attention from the cause of it - the poisonous artificial environment we have created for ourselves. I now believe that at least part of why we do this with such fervor is that we are scared of the mirror these beings hold up for us, revealing our infestious behavior.

I also want to add that cities are a special breeding place for many of the creatures that have been labeled as most disgusting. Wherever humans have congregated in close proximity, we have been followed by pests and plagues who thrive in such conditions.

My proposal? First of all, to do the shadow work of acknowledging and accepting the infesting, defiling, verminous aspects of our nature. Once we cease to fear these aspects of ourselves and can look them square in the eye, they will no longer rule us.

Then we can ask ourselves what qualities of we want to cultivate, from the animals we admire. The wisdom of the owl? The profundity of the whale? The grace and joy of dolphins as they leap through the air? Whatever it may be, we have much to learn from the living community of which we are a part, and it is time for us to do so.