trust yourself: everything you need is within you

listen to the wind, it talks. listen to the silence, it speaks. listen to your heart, it knows. – native american saying

good evening, friends. i hope that you have had a good weekend. here, in my little corner of the world, i am feeling satisfied + peaceful after sneaking away with my love to atlanta for about 36 hours to refocus + recharge with some good friends (more to come on that on tuesday!). but, now, i am focused on winding down the first week of my meditation mondays series – and it feels pretty good.

me. right now. as i type to you.

me. right now. as i type to you.

last monday i started this new series, and i challenged myself (and you, if you are so interested) in taking a little vision quest journey, as native american children have done in the past. i’m not sure if they still practice this today, but i sure do hope so. in any case, my meditation on monday introduced us to the idea of taking our own quest throughout the week = taking some time to just be + listen to our souls. a chance to reconnect with ourselves + discover to what the universe may be calling us to next in life.

for me, there has been no clear message slapping me in the face this week, rather lots of little things, that, had i not been deliberately trying to slow down + pay attention, i would have totally missed.

once again, my soul reminds me that i am a writer. that all i want to do is write + travel, and travel + write. and, even as things are changing right now in my life (more to come on that at a later date), i am reminded once again to stick to what my soul says.  scary and uncertain as it all may be, my soul knows me.

friends atlanta walking avondale lake autumn

now, before i let this vision quest thing go and prepare to move on to next week’s meditation mondays theme, i want to address something that we all often struggle with: guilt!

all this talk about the soul sounds a lot like me, me, me, me, me! egocentric. self-centered. selfish. but, my friends, it isn’t. not when you focus on yourself in the hopes of growth + transformation. now, only thinking about what we want next or what we want now, is one thing. meditating and turning inward is something completely different, i believe. something that is necessary in order to remain aligned + attached to our soul – because when we do that, when we attach ourselves to our true inner soul, then everything that flows out of us is done with love and compassion. therefore, when we go on a little quest to discover our personal legend or our calling at this time in our lives, then we are seeking ways to be true to who we are, which, in turn, makes us better people – who then make a difference in the world.

the native americans have a belief that life can be described as 4 concentric circles, with the first and inner circle being our self. the next one, our family and community. the 3rd one, the animals + the earth + all of humanity. and, the last one, spirituality. this is freaking genius, i believe.

native american values life

this is my little image that i created to show you what i mean. life begins at the center – at discovering who we are as unique individuals. but, we expand outward. in fact, everything in life is fluid, flowing back + forth through all of the circles, crossing lines, all connected and affected by one another. and, yet, unified as one circle. how beautiful is that?

this week, we went on a quest, a personal journey. starting tomorrow, we will begin to meditate on the next circle – family + community. using who we are, how do we impact those that are closest to us? what do the native americans have to say about the importance of family + community?

but, for tonight, i want to leave you with a bit of music from my native november playlist (see the left column for a link) for inspiration. listen + ponder. and be secure in who you are. you have everything you need within you:

light + love. xx

see you tomorrow for a new meditation!

a video of our road trip: starring paige, lina, me & first aid kit!

there are perks to being married to a graphic design student. and one of the new ones is homemade videos. that’s right, my love has gotten into the groove of making videos  – and she is goooood. so, during our road trip to see first aid kit in concert this past weekend, she did a whole bunch of filming using her iPhone throughout our entire trip. and then she spent last night & this morning creating, editing, and finalizing an amazing and fun video of our trip! what a great way to preserve memories and laugh at how silly we are. i’m so excited and can’t wait to see what other videos she creates after this crazy, amazing, event-filled summer.

but, for now, check out this awesome 6 minute video of our weekend road trip!

peace and love. xx

making me all weepy.

think of this post as a little celebration on a completely random day.

one year ago today, i wrote an important post (click here to read it). it may not have been important to anyone but me. but, nevermind that. it was one of those serendipitous days that occurs every so often when you just know that everything is right. when your soul is not whispering to you, but shouting with joy and you feel as if you might burst. a day when everything makes sense and life seems exactly as it should.

it was a very powerful day for me. a day where i realized that i was ready. ready to really chase my dreams. ready to accept and understand and move forward. ready to admit that i would never go back – i could never go back – to simply living my old, “regular” life, but i knew that it was time to embrace the calling and the feeling that i was meant to write. no matter what.

and while it made sense to me, how any of that would be possible, i had no idea. i knew that i was going to do it. i had no idea how, but i believed. lina and i were already committed to moving to asheville so that lina could follow her dreams, but this time last year, i embraced that this move meant that i would also be following my dream as well.

it was as if i gave myself permission to just jump. to take a leap of faith and risk it. and that’s what last year’s post was all about.

this week, Facebook turned 10 and they created little videos for users based on their photos and updates – things they had posted on Facebook since they first began using it. i joined Facebook in 2007, just a few weeks after meeting lina. and i actually joined so that lina and i could keep in touch. so, our entire relationship was based on a friendship started in sweden and developed through Facebook messages and webcam chats.

hug

when i clicked on my little one-minute video to see what Facebook had created for me, i was brought to tears by the photos and words that appeared before my eyes. it was a collection of beautiful moments from the very beginning of our relationship to now, in addition to some great highlights of my family and other amazing memories. i was so touched by my little video, and it brought to mind this incredible journey that i have been on throughout the past year. well, actually the past seven years…

so, i just had to share it with you. i wanted to share it as a way of honoring my life and reminding me of how overwhelmingly grateful i am. i wanted to share it with you to “prove” to you that you can make your dreams come true, that it is possible to live the life that you dream of and to find your passion. and i wanted to encourage you to never give up.

i hope that you, too, can look back over your life, whether it be 10 years or 10 days, and find things to celebrate as well. but, more than anything, i wish for you to feel hope and excitement and peace as you look forward.

click below to watch the video:

 peace & love. xx

the sochi effect

9e95b9c5460c816b632aab3d6c605c73 it’s time for the olympics. the winter ones, of course. and i’m semi-excited. ok. i’m not really excited at all. but, i know me. and as soon as news networks and twitter and Facebook friends begin posting stuff about the olympics, i will climb on board the olympic excitement train and get all caught up in curling (who knew that existed before the previous olympics?), figure skating, snowboarding, speed skating, and other events. and, as i do every olympics, the opening ceremonies will cause a tear to fall down my cheek. that is always a great moment of global unity, in my opinion.

but, this year, there is much, much more on my mind as well. and, maybe i will not climb on the olympic spirit train…

i suppose you could say that it’s hesitation. and concern. now, i’ve never been to russia so i know nothing about it first-hand. and i try not to judge a country i have not visited because they can be so completely different than expected – in good and bad ways. at least that’s what i’ve experienced. but, i must admit it, i am worried. scared, even. and, of course, i am angry.

right now all of the news seems to be about whether sochi is ready to host the olympics or not. can they handle the crowds? will there be violence or terrorism? on the news today there were reports that the accommodations for athletes are not up to par. the photos they showed were of fairly bare rooms, with toilets that you cannot put toilet paper in. instead, you use the trash can for the paper.

my first reaction to the “sub-par” conditions at hotels and such is this: suck it up. you are in another country and things will not be like they are at home. that’s what happens in different countries. and it is one of the beauties of travel – experiencing different cultures and ways of life, seeing how other people live, discovering and exploring. but, you must do this with an open mind. and with the expectation that things will not be the same. this is an adventure, and you will have stories galore to tell. not to mention, you will learn so much about yourself.

now, there is another issue that hits much more closely to home for me and you all have heard about it, i’m sure: LGBT rights. in russia, it is now illegal to be gay. and, from what i have read and seen, it is completely acceptable to bully, attack, and beat up any gay person or ally. it’s just horrible. ridiculous. and sickening.

and so, i am having a hard time reconciling the olympics (a global, unifying event) being in  this country where not all people are accepted. i could go on and on, but instead, i am going to leave you with a video. a very, very, very disturbing video. it is very graphic, so if you are sensitive, do not watch it. instead, read this article from gq:

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but, if you think you can handle it, here is the video. it is so important for us to be aware. warning! graphic & disturbing!
[brightcove vid=3151343552001&exp3=58264559001&surl=http://c.brightcove.com/services&pubid=78144477&pk=AQ~~,AAAAAASoY90~,_gW1ZHvKG_0UvBsh7aZU7MXZe77OcsGq&lbu=http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/02/04/hrw_lgbtq_violence_human_rights_watch_releases_disturbing_video_of_violence.html&w=480&h=270]

peace, love, and equality. xx

“strip away the fear. underneath it’s all the same love.”

it’s awards season on tv, and last night was all about the grammys. of course, i tuned in after downton abbey was over, but i tuned in just in time to see what many are calling the highlight of the evening – it most definitely was for me.

as i sat and watched queen latifa introduce macklamore and ryan lewis, along with mary lambert, i was so excited that they were going to sing “same love”, a song written by macklemore, inspired by the love of his uncle and his partner. it’s a song about marriage equality, about focusing on similarities instead of differences. bottom line, it’s a powerful, inspiring song about love.

as i watched and sang along, already filled with the power of the lyrics, suddenly queen latifa appeared on the stage again, which was set to look like a chapel. and the camera cut to a long line of couples standing in the main aisle on the floor. i yelled to lina, “i think a bunch of couples are about to get married in the middle of this song! get in here!” sure enough, there were 33 couples, gay, straight, white, black, young, old. people in love. being married in the middle of a mackelmore and ryan lewis song. at the grammys. by queen latifa. it. was. incredible.

ADDITION The 56th Ann_Cham640

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and then, to top it off, madonna came out on stage to serenade the newly married couples. people everywhere were wiping tears from their cheeks. everyone was singing and cheering. i had goosebumps up & down my arms & legs. it was amazing and completely emotional.

the fight for marriage equality continues, but this event. this moment, gives me continued courage and hope that all people in the united states, will one day be able to marry the one that they love.

watch the video below. watch the whole thing. you’ll be glued to the screen, i promise. and if you don’t get rap (or don’t understand the words), please scroll down and read the lyrics – they are so worth reading. thanks to macklemore for expressing so much of what i think and feel and believe. i could not say it any better. because, underneath it all, we real are all the same.

When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She’s like “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-k, trippin’ ”
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, “Yeah, I’m good at little league”
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don’t know

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ‘em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it

(I don’t know)

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

We press play, don’t press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking ’round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up…

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)

peace and love. and equality. xx

 

what are you doing new year’s eve?

well, that’s a wrap. the last day of 2013 is upon is, and i don’t know about you, but i am ready for some serious celebrating! this year i wanna get dressed up and be all fancy & girly. i wanna dance and go to a party and ring in the new year with people all around me.

i think i’m in such a celebratory mood because 2013 has been oh so generous to me… well, my love and i have worked for it, but we’ve also expected and envisioned it. so, as we dreamed and believed, we also acted and the universe opened door after door, showering us with amazing moments. and i want to celebrate all of that. i want to shout to the world, and spread extra joy today to everyone i meet… because i am so grateful and blessed. it’s time to try to give back a little of the amazingness that has been given to me in 2013. it’s truly time to celebrate.

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all of the serious, soul-searching, reflection is done. last night i spent a few hours with candles lit, a glass of wine by my side, pens and journals open, and my soul-touching playlist playing. i reflected on the past year and envisioned and planned for the new one. i wrote on the last page of my 2013 journal and then put it away, with all of my other journals. it was a very special and meaningful ritual. but, now, these end of the year rites of passage have been completed, so the only thing left to do is dance & drink champagne!

as you read this, i am either currently on my way or already in atlanta, georgia to celebrate new year’s eve with some friends – lanie (a blogging buddy) and her girl, charlie. my love and i hit the road early, because we’ve got shopping, exploring, eating, drinking, and having fun to do before we meet up with the girls in the afternoon to begin our celebrations. and, boy do we have some celebrations planned! it’s gonna be so great! the perfect cap to one of the most amazing years (with plenty of both ups & downs) of my life.

here’s to 2014! here’s to turning 40 this year! here’s to living life & feeling alive! 

so, my friends, what are you doing for new year’s eve? 

i just had to. they’re so cute.

wishing you the happiest of new years! bring on 2014! 

peace and love. xx