Open Up & Expand

We all have cargo. We all come carrying stories on our shoulders. We all come burdened with raw emotions we have not been able to leave behind.

We are all heavy in our own way.

We keep so much inside the universe that we are, afraid of being misunderstood, criticized or judged. We are afraid of losing… of hurting… of being hurt.

Who can we tell all our secrets to? Who can we trust? Who will listen without judgement?

We have been taught to bottle up our feelings. We have been educated to believe that sharing our deepest emotions is a sign of weakness.

What are you hiding? What are you not telling? What are you ashamed of? What are you afraid of? What is YOUR truth?

Own it… and share it with someone you love today. Let’s change how we communicate.

Let’s never have an empty conversation again. Let’s never bring up the weather. Let “small talk” cease to exist. Let’s get real. Let’s go deep. Within ourselves and our relations with others. I believe we are all here to relate. So let’s do that.

Let go of your fear, your anger, your shame and make room for the love, for the beauty.

Unburden yourself. Lift the weight. Shake the heavy off.

Be Yourself.

 

Be unapologetically you.

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I suffer from F.O.B.S {& more confessions…}

I’ve procrastinated for over 2 weeks deliberating whether or not to write this article. Alas, here I am.

This is going to be a tad different from other posts. I’m going to get more personal and intimate with you. More open, more honest.

Am I a positive person? Hell yes.

Am I spiritual? I am constantly practicing spirituality.

Am I kind? The older I get, the kinder I get.

Am I good? As good as I want to be on a good day.

Am I perfect? No freaking way.

I am human after all.

Could I be better? Yes.

Could I be happier? Indeed.

Could I be more stable in my emotions? Absolutely!

Could I achieve great things? Yes. Yes. Yes.

What’s stopping me?

That is what we’re going to talk about today…

You see, I think that ever since childhood I’ve suffered from this particular syndrome.

I call it the F.O.B.S, i.e:

THE FEAR OF BEING SEEN

 

Just by hearing this, you can probably relate. Maybe it made you smile or shy away. Either way, I know I’m not alone in this.

The Fear of Being Seen Syndrome has plagued me my whole life.

Imagine that you are the sole owner of the biggest, brightest, clearest and finest diamond in the entire world. What do you do? Wear it around your neck everywhere you go? Or keep it somewhere hidden where you know it will be safe?

Now imagine, that diamond… is you. You are this beautiful, one of a kind gem. You’re priceless. So what do you do? Do you put yourself out there, lay your truth bare, stand naked in Times Square to show off your radiance? No… you hide it. You keep it safe. You protect it. Or at least that’s what you tell yourself…

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All these years, it’s what I told myself. I was SO AFRAID of being seen. Of someone discovering the REAL me. Of being recognized for who I really am. Of being noticed for my kindness, my thoughts, my words, my deeds, and most importantly…. My heart.

Yet, at the same time, I was DYING for someone to see beyond what I would show. Like some magic stare from some magical person could break through all the falsities and just see… me. If it happened like that, I would know that I was safe.

Ultimately, it was a fear of being hurt, rejected, judged, criticized, also a fear or raising the bar of expectations (for others and myself), a fear of not being able to go backwards, a fear of not recognizing myself, of losing the relationship I had with me. A fear of being inadequate, of not feeling like enough….. Basically, the entire dictionary of fears!

No matter what I did, I couldn’t shake these fears off my shoulders. I collected all my insecurities like jewelry and decorated myself with them.

For years I felt heavy. Unaware of the invisible weight I was carrying around with me. (not to mention the additional physical weight of top of that!)

It took me YEARS and I mean that literally to gain some perspective, some self-love and self-respect.

To love myself, want myself and choose myself the way I wanted others to.

It took me decades to value and appreciate my strengths, my talents, my gifts, my AWESOMENESS!

Like I am a GREAT listener (seriously, ask anybody), If you’re my friend you know you can always count on me, I’m a giving lover, I’m a challenging daughter (in a  good way hahaha, I love you Ma & Pa), I’m a grateful traveler, a pretty rad teacher. However, there are things I want to try that push me outside of that attractive comfort zone so I keep procrastinating because secretly I am terrified of trying new things (yup). For example, my friends tell me I have a really nice voice and I’ve got a knack for storytelling. I actually love to tell stories. However, making videos or starting a podcast intimidates me. (plus im not as technologically savvy as I seem…. You see what happened right there? Another limiting belief… * mental delete*)

These are things that I push through, little by little, piece by piece, day by day, until the puzzle is complete.

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I KNOW I have so much more to offer, to give away, to learn, to see, to be. Sometimes during my meditations I feel this power surge through me, begging me to be released. How? Where? Into what? These are the current questions that plague me.

How do I reach a state of full expression? Without limitations or restrictions?

How do I let myself show, completely, unapologetically, openly, strongly, and wholeheartedly?

How do I let go of my fear of being more that what I thought I was capable of?

How do I fall into all this gorgeous glory?

Gosh, does it really belong to me?

YES!!!! Because IT IS ME!

So, I guess, my advice to you after all these years of searching and hurting and growing and breaking and learning is the following:

Life is a story and you are the main character. You can choose to be the hero, the villain or the victim.

But ultimately, it’s your choice. You can hold so many titles. Play so many characters. Just choose the one that fits you best.

Every day I choose to be the hero. The warrior. The kindness agent. The dream maker. The philosopher. The gardener. The healer. The photographer. The artist. The musician. The nomad. The label breaker. The seamstress. The butterfly. The leaf. The sun rays. The treasure. The diamond. The student. The guest. The star. The instrument. The raindrop. The feather. The cloud. The ocean. The rock. The scientist. The lotus. The dragon. The swan. The passenger. The key. The pearl. The projector. The blank page. The entire damn Saga.

You are a soul. You are Concentrated Energy. Know this. Know the light that you hold. The power within.

Know your worth. Discover you’re limitless. Admire yourself.

You are everything you have ever searched for

You are Love

You are Peace

You are Happiness

You are Truth

You are Beauty

You are Bliss

Know this

Feel this

Be this

And allow yourself to shine through

All the fears and BS around you

Just…

Be.

Dear Reader,

I beg of you…

Remember your divinity.

 

{this article was mad scary to write so please be gentle with your comments. My big, open, heart would appreciate it. Thanks}

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What do You Want?

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When we want to achieve something, when we have something that needs to be done, what we’re doing is focusing our energy to accomplish said task.

So my question is:

What do you REALLY want out of this Life?

What are you focusing your energy on?

Does it make your heart sing?

Does it make your soul fly?

Does it make you want to cry out of sheer joy?

Are you living or surviving?

What can you do about it?

If there were no limitations, no “ifs” or “buts” or “maybes…”

No fear.

If failure wasn’t an option… what would you seek out of life?

You want to know what I want?

Are you ready to hear this?

Are you ready to give me what I need?

Because I want You.

I want to see you succeed.

I want to hear your dreams.

I want to help make them come true.

I want to love and be loved.

Without conditions, without boundaries,

Without words, without fears.

I want to abolish currency.

I want to pay for my muffin with love.

I want our hearts to be treated as celebrities,

Rolling out the red carpet whenever you catch a glimpse of it.

I want to have the liberty to not do things just for the money.

I want to live free of fear. In all its forms and masks.

Self-doubt, procrastination, caution, get lost.

I want the mountains closer to me.

I want rivers.

I want trees.

I want kisses that end wars.

I want to share my point of view with whomever is willing to listen.

I want to give you my eyes, so you can finally see how beautiful you really are to me.

I want a family. I want babies.

I want my soulmate to give me another chance.

Just one more.

I want to live forever.

I want to be remembered for who I am.

I want to be an example of vulnerability.

I want to get it all out on paper.

I can’t die with things still inside of me.

I want clarity.

I want yoga.

I want 4 a.m. meditations back.

I want to find my purpose.

I want closeness,

With every human being.

I want to play my part

In this vast Universe.

I want to make the most

Of this body

My soul has chosen to inhabit.

And of this soul,

That my body has awoken to.

I want simplicity.

Optimism.

Lightness.

Beauty.

I want a revolution.

I want to break the mold.

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Have you met Vidal?

I am going to be real with you. I sometimes go into a deep existential crisis when I think about the future of humanity. When I think about the world that I must grow old in, the world in which the children I will one day give birth to have to grow up in. What kind of world will that be?

My optimism allows me to hope for the best. When I see the youth of today, I think of myself and remember that most things are just a phase and we need to go through certain life experiences in order to grow and expand our consciousness. However, this new generation has an obsession with technology. Striving to create virtual connections yet failing somewhere along the line to nourish and value true connections, emotions, people.

A lot of what is needed currently in the world are more of us being present in the moment. Absolutely present. Mind, body and soul connected to the action.

 However, I know for a fact that not all adolescents are the same. No human being is like any other. We are each unique in our experiences, our thoughts and our beliefs.

I put a lot of faith in the youth. I believe we are underestimating their power. I believe a ten year old has infinite potential within him yet he doesn’t have the space to express it.

That’s why I’m always moved when I read stories about very young children making a difference, whether at home, in school, for their community or their country.

It shows a powerful soul knowing its purpose and overcoming any adversity.

You might have met this young man already but if you haven’t, I want to make sure you do.

Meet 13-year-old Vidal Chastanet from Brownsville, Brooklyn. He had a chance encounter with Brandon Stanton, creator of the popular website Humans of New York.

Brandon took Vidal’s photo, and asked the teen who the most influential person in his life was; Vidal replied it was his Principal, Nadia Lopez, at Mott Hall Bridges Academy. The interaction went viral in this touching photograph.

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Curious Brandon just had to meet this amazing principal.

It turns out that Ms. Lopez was in the middle of raising money to send her students on a trip to Harvard, a college she wanted them to have in the forefront of their minds. Soon thereafter, Brandon found himself joining the cause, helping to raise over $700,000 for the trip in just four days.

“Nadia’s unbelievable,” Brandon tells Ellen’s Good News.

“She’s like a movie character, she just cares so much and she’s tough. It’s what you need in this area. She’s tough and she’s unbelievably committed and ambitious, but ambitious on part of the kids. She could have been CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but decided to be principal in one of toughest neighborhoods in Brooklyn.”

Because they’ve raised so much money – their original goal was only $100,000 – the entire school will be visiting Harvard, and subsequently, the sixth-grade class will be able to go for the next ten years. Additionally, they will be able to establish a summer program to run for the next 10 years, as well as a scholarship fund named in Vidal’s honor.

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“When people tell you they’re from Brownsville they get cringes. There’s a sense of hopelessness. I want these kids to know that there are no limits or boundaries to where they can go… I also want those institutions to see the impact they can have on those children’s lives.” says Nadia. She is making a huge impact on her students. She started the school in 2010 as a way to change the narrative of the neighborhood, and to empower students to believe they are more than their surroundings. Vidal says he began school with a “short temper” and often got in trouble, but Nadia changed his attitude.

“If you’re from Brownsville, they don’t expect you to be much in life,” he says. “They don’t expect you to have a quality education, they don’t expect you to know what you’re doing. They expect you to fail. They don’t want you to become anything that you want to be… I realized that if I want to be anything in life, as Ms. Lopez said, I have to learn how to be better. It doesn’t matter about the past and present, you must focus on the future. Your future is what you set it to be in your mind.”

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The most recent post shows Ms. Lopez at an assembly on Monday where Ms. Lopez explained the fundraiser to the entire student body. Most of the students had already heard bits and pieces about what’s been going on, but Ms. Lopez projected the blog onto a screen and walked through the entire story. She began with Vidal’s original post and ended with the final tally raised thus far. ($707,000 at the time. over a million now!)

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“I have something to admit to all of you. Before all of this happened, I was about to give up. I was broken. I felt like typing my resignation. I told my mother: ‘Mom, I don’t think I can do it anymore. Because I don’t think my scholars care. And I don’t think they believe in themselves enough to care. I’m afraid they don’t think they’re good enough.’ And she told me to pray on it. But I told her, ‘I might be too angry to pray.’ And I know this is hard to believe, because you guys have never seen me break. But I was broken. It’s just like when you see your mom break down. You only see your mom cry when she’s been fighting so hard for you and she doesn’t think you care. That’s how I felt. But then a couple nights later I was with my daughter at a Broadway show, and we were waiting for the show to start, and I started to get all these text messages from my teachers and former students. And then I saw Vidal’s face pop up on my screen. And my first thought was that something bad had happened. Because that’s normally the case around here when someone’s photo shows up unexpectedly. And the moment I realized that Vidal had said something nice about me, the usher came over and made me turn off my phone. When intermission came, my daughter said: ‘Mom, we’ve got to find out what’s happening.’ So we went and sat in the car. And I read what Vidal said, and I began to read the comments. And tears started coming down my face. Because even though I always tell you that you matter, up until that moment, I didn’t feel like I mattered.”

This is love. Care. Inspiration. Kindness. Solidarity. Hope.

This is Humanity.

That’s why it touches us all.

PS – There are still 7 days left to donate! If you’re interested in reading more about the cause or adding your little grain of salt, click here.

PS 2 – Aren’t you glad you met Vidal? 🙂

Familiar Strangers…

 

“I feel very strongly that I’m surrounded by other realities.” —Ingmar Bergman

I have this theory about strangers. My theory is this: No one is really a stranger.

When we don’t recognize a person, we tend to label them as strangers. When we get on the bus or the plane or the train, we tend to believe that we are surrounded by “strangers”, but this is so far from the truth. Have you ever felt attracted by a stranger? Has a stranger ever felt attracted by you? How do you describe that? What does it mean in the vastness of things?

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I believe we are all connected. Connected by an undercurrent of energy. We are all souls, we all come from the same source. We all knew each other once. In fact, we still do. No encounter is random, nothing is by chance. I have this strong feeling that the girl I’m noticing outside of my peripheral vision is not a coincidence, neither is the magnetism. I want to go up to her and say something, but what? After all, I’m just a stranger. But there’s something in her eyes, in her demeanor, in the way she slants her back against the wall and rubs her wrists that tells me to approach her. I just met this girl five seconds ago on the metro. I don’t know a thing about her, yet I know her. I feel her. I sense her… but for the life of me I can’t gather up the courage to talk to her because… what if this is all in my head? What if her supposed sadness is nothing but a projection? What if she really is… just a stranger?

“My theory is – we don’t really go that far into other people, even when we think we do. We hardly ever go in and bring them out. We just stand at the jaws of the cave, and strike a match, and ask quickly if anybody’s there.” —Martin Louis Amis

This happens to me at least ten times a day. I feel like I’m missing out on connections. On friends. On stories. On people. On growth. On discovery.

Every day I find myself so close but so far from another soul.

She waited for the train to pass. Then she said, “I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while.”
― Haruki Murakami

Maybe I am focusing too much on the superficial. Maybe we were never meant to interact. Maybe we were always meant to remain flooded by a pool of strangers. Maybe no matter how much we try, we can never ever really get to know a person. Maybe the next time we meet a stranger, we can just smile and continue on our way.

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I try to do subtle service for these souls. I have warm and well wishes for them. I try to find a way to honor my connection without breaking the balance because i think considering a person a stranger is a distance we create. The moment you meet someone, we close off the distance that separates us. Have you ever noticed how you can meet someone today and all of a sudden you recognize them on the street? You might’ve never noticed them before. So, in a lot of ways, the distance is necessary and healthy.

Think of a celebrity. Do you think a celebrity knows all their fans by name? It’s not because they don’t want to, it’s just because we can’t. We can’t know everybody. Not in that way. Not in the way we know our mother, our brother or our lover.

But we can connect with them. All we need is to use our minds. To send a gracious, kind, powerful and positive thought their way. That is our undying well of wishes.

I wrote a poem when I was 15 I think and it had to do with this topic. I don’t remember it well but there’s a line a wrote that I always remember from time to time. It said:

I sprinkled my heart across the sea, now everybody has a little piece of me.

It’s true that this modern technology world is disconnecting us (I encourage you to watch the video in the link). It’s true that everyone sticks their headphones on and shut the world out. Crowded areas like airport terminals, subway stations and bank lines are the loneliest places to be… because you are surrounded by humans but practically invisible to them.

Is this the world we want to live in? Is this the future we envision? 

What can you do today to create a change?

To live in a more connected, compassionate, loving, caring, aligned and centered world?

MLK

PS – Happy Belated MLK Day (he should be constantly celebrated so that’s what I do)

You don’t have to try…

Why should you care, what they think of you
When you’re all alone, by yourself
Do you like you? Do you like you?

I have to admit. I cried when I heard this song. It took me back to a time, a time where all I ever did was try.

I tried to fit in, I tried to be accepted, I tried to please others. Make them proud. I tried to be what they wanted me to be.

It was painful. 

I felt so far from the person that everyone wanted me to be and I felt less because of it.

I felt so small, so worthless, a disgrace in many ways.

I was different. I always was. This fact always made me feel out of place.

I was lost. Where did I belong?

Today. Oh, today is a glorious day. Today is a day I’m proud of that struggle. Because if gave me strength. That strength then transformed into the courage I needed to follow my heart.

Today I’m a soul that’s fallen into my body. Today there’s nothing you could tell me that would make me like myself any less.

“At that moment I was sure. That I belonged in my skin. That my organs were mine and my eyes were mine and my ears, which could only hear the silence of this night and my faint breathing, were mine, and I loved them and what they could do.”

— Dave Eggers

Sure, the people that had problems with me then still have them with me now.

I’m too boyish, too overweight, too this, too that.  

But that’s ok. Because I am ok with it. I accept myself. I love myself and I know that I am more than the sum of my parts. I am heart, I am soul, I am creativity, I am magic. And you can’t fit that on any scale or put it into any outfit.

This society we live in, this crazy popular society likes to categorize things, give everything it’s appropriate label, stereotype things to make it easier. So a lot of people end up with labels such as “freak, weirdo, pervert, ugly, fat, wh*re, b*tch…” and the list goes on.

Would you ever speak to someone you love like that? How could you ever refer to another soul in that manner?

The problem is Vision. We have a limited vision. We see things on the surface and we assess their value based on that. We make too many assumptions and we aren’t looking at the whole picture.

Connect with yourself. Connect with your TRUE SELF. The being that you truly are. A being of light, of beauty, of truth, happiness, of power and virtue.

Really look at yourself with the vision of your soul.

I practice looking at myself in the mirror on mornings and I recite an affirmation:

“You are a being of light. You are wondrous. You are gorgeous. You are powerful. You have a purpose. Share that today with someone” 

I then carry that soul vision around with me, It’s like wearing a pair of shades and I see the entire Universe in a different light. Everything is… just a little more bright.

And people. One of my favorite things to do these days in this new city that I’m in is to sit in a park and watch people pass me by. The range and variety of them, their laughter, their chatter, their expressions, their energy are so contrasting. So unique. Each soul is unique. I feel like a witness to a miracle for each person that passes me by. I appreciate each and every one of them.

Do you think you could do that? Put on the glasses of your soul and look at yourself and love yourself. really love yourself. deep down. in spaces no one else knows about but you. in your darkness. in your downfalls. on your bad hair days. with your fears, your doubts, your mistakes. Know that there is nothing NOT worth loving.

You are lovable. You are 100% lovable. You don’t need to hide an inch or change a thing.

Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don’t you like you?
Cause I like you

Be that awesome person that you are and share that vision with someone else.

Make someone else feel just as awesome as you 🙂

Namaste.

Video

Are you Empathetic?

Dr. Brené Brown is a researcher-storyteller and kind of a rock star for me. I previously posted her TED Talk on Vulnerability where she laid out some deep truths in such an elegant and simplistic manner with a dash of humor in a way that only she could do.

In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brown breaks down vulnerability to reveal what she calls “wholeheartedness”: The capacity to engage in our lives with authenticity, cultivate courage and compassion, and embrace — not in that self-help-book, motivational-seminar way, but really, deeply, profoundly embrace — the imperfections of who we really are. It is sheer brilliance.

In this sweet & short video, the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) teamed up with animator Katy Davis to bring to life an excerpt from Brown’s longer talk on the power of vulnerability and the difference between empathy and sympathy, based on her most recent book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. (also brilliant)

“The truth is, rarely can a response make something better — what makes something better is connection.”

How many of you can agree to this statement?

How many of us are actually connecting when we communicate?

In her book, Brown writes:

Vulnerability isn’t good or bad. It’s not what we call a dark emotion, nor is it always a light, positive experience.
Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living.

[…]

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.

How vulnerable are you willing to be?

You need to watch this.

 

Ever since I saw this documentary two days ago I have been living in a state of perpetual bliss. I have only been expressing and sharing the very best of myself. And there’s an unbelievable reason as to why which you will find out once you see it for yourself. I invite you to watch it. If you don’t know how or where to get it, message me. After you’ve seen it, message me too! I wanna know what you think, how you feel now that you know.

They are some fundamental laws of the Universe perfectly expressed in there that we should never, ever forget to remember 🙂