Category Archives: acceptance

what you resist persists

Director’s note:  At thinkpeace workshop we encourage girls to embrace their truths: those qualities about themselves that are fundamental to feeling good about themselves. Sometimes it’s easy to let other voices get inside and create self-doubt. Holding onto our truths is important to standing in our own strength in the face of pushbacks from others. Lately, intern GARMIN has realized the power of knowing and owning her truths. It’s an ongoing process for each of us. 

“What you resist persists” by GARMIN

During my last yoga teacher training weekend we had a grueling 2-hour hip-opening practice. Our teacher kept saying, “What you resist persists” meaning that whatever we kept holding back from would continue to be there.

In her acceptance speech for the John Steinbeck Award, MSNBC host, activist, PowerGirl, (and my big girl crush) Rachel Maddow, said this about being out as queer,

As a general rule, if you can be out, you really ought to be out because, A) you will be happier, being closeted is a sad thing to be. It also makes you vulnerable. When you are closeted people can always have something to use against you and so you are never actually operating from a position of strength even if you feel like coming out is something that would make you vulnerable in the world, being closeted is a much more vulnerable thing to be. You can never speak from a position of strength unless you are speaking from a position of honesty.

While this is the speech that pushed me over that metaphorical edge to come out to my parents, Maddow’s last line, “You can never speak from position of strength unless you are speaking from a position of honesty” is the line that popped up again for me last week.  These past two weeks have been hard for me. I installed my thesis and then it has been one event after the next: openings, meet the artist, showcases, and more events– literally non-stop. While there have been happy, exciting, and liberating moments, there have been just as many frustrating and annoying times. Our class of 11 is disconnected, and consumed with what we call in yoga teacher training, “a concern for looking good,” which basically means they will do whatever they can to make themselves look good and everyone else look bad by playing the “ame” game- shame, blame, and complain.  I decided that it wasn’t worth my energy to continue to be around people that brought me down. You see, I value myself, my power, and my strength and when I was putting myself in a position of powerlessness by being around people who didn’t value me I was taking myself out of my life. I wasn’t speaking from my position of strength because I wasn’t in my full honesty and truth of myself.

In typical GARMIN fashion, I walked right up to my thesis teacher and said, “I’m not coming to the group meeting of the class anymore because it’s bad for my mojo. I value myself, my strength, and my power.” She said, “OK. Have a great day!”

And just like that I was standing back in my full power.

However, just like the hip-opening practice “what you resist persists”– I had been resisting initiating this conversation with my thesis teacher. I had been frustrated for some time and it had to get to a point of me realizing its persistence to do something about it. When I surrendered to what was put on offer (the hip opening practice), initiating the conversation, it wasn’t so hard. Holding back was actually harder.

I think we as young women hold ourselves back ALL the time. From my experience, we hold back for a variety of reasons: we play small so others can play big, we don’t think we are worthy, we are operating out of fear, etc. In this past week’s U.S. version of TIME magazine, the cover highlighted Beyoncé, pop mogul, mom and PowerGirl. In the closing paragraph, writer and Facebook VP Sheryl Sandberg wrote,

In the past year, Beyoncé has sold out the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour while being a full-time mother. Her secret: hard work, honesty and authenticity. And her answer to the question, What would you do if you weren’t afraid? appears to be “Watch me. I’m about to do it.” Then she adds, “You can, too.”

Step into your greatness PowerGirl!

what do we mean: ‘never again’?

It has been 20 years since the 1994 Rwanda genocide that killed 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in a 100-day rampage.   Following our work with One Million Bones, Students Rebuild, and CARE over the past two years, on raising awareness about ongoing genocides, the thinkpeace community is deep in thought and conversation about what happened in Rwanda, is still happening in Sudan, Somalia, Burma, Syria and the DRC, and what lessons have really been learned that can help prevent future atrocities. Since World War II, the international community has said “never again,” a yet our failure to act has continued to cost lives.

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Memorials across Rwanda are constant reminders of the brutality that destroyed the nation. In the United States there seems to be little coverage regarding this anniversary– and even less discussion. Last night, on Facebook, I saw that a friend had changed his profile picture to the Rwandan flag, in honor of the victims and  survivors of the genocide. He has spent time there for his work, and loves the people and the land. No one knew what his picture was for– what it meant to him, personally, to celebrate a rebuilding Rwanda. And yet, to the children born during or after this time in Rwandan history, awareness about genocide is vital. “Never again” must stand for something. We must know what happened and why… and see that it’s not over and we must not stand by again.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has urged the international community to learn from its failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda, and to take stronger action to confront current crises, like the conflicts in Syria and the Central African Republic. “The international community,” he said, “cannot claim to care about atrocity crimes and then shrink from the commitment of resources and will required to actually prevent them.” The UN was not effective in preventing the Rwanda genocide, much less in stopping it.  The international community’s silence was wrong. Much more could and should have been done–  instead, peacekeeping troops were withdrawn when they were most needed.  “The world has yet to fully overcome its divisions, its indifference, its moral blind spots,” he said, citing the atrocities that occurred in Srebrenica in 1995, and the current conflicts in Syria and the Central African Republic. ”There is a truth to the human condition that is as alarming today as it was 20 years ago; the fragility of our civility. The bonds that hold us together can swiftly disappear.”

So here’s the question: when we say “never again” what do we really mean? What can we do to end genocide? How can we strengthen the “bonds that hold us together” in a world that seems full of anger, righteousness and extremism? What role can you play? When you see or hear about any human being (actually, any living creature) in need or distress, SPEAK UP!  Celebrate diversity in your every day life. Failure to act is not acceptable. When we say “never again” it means that each and every one of us takes a stand. As we laid bones on the National Mall last summer as a visual petition against genocide, we felt it– the connection to others who had been brutally killed because they were different. We asked ourselves: underneath it all, aren’t we the same? Looking out at the Mall covered in one million symbolic bones, we cried for the blood spilled, the lives lost, and the damage done to future generations. There is another way. And together we must find it. Never again, means that we must be accountable to each other and to promoting peace, love and understanding.

“We really do belong to each other.” -Naomi Natale

 

meet a wannabe thinkpeace girl

I have a dream… that someday any girl who longs to connect with the global girl community and learn what she can do to help heal the world will be able to come to thinkpeace workshop summer camp.  This year, in particular, I have been touched by the stories of two girls who have reached out to share a little of  why they want to be thinkpeace girls. One is a brave and bright girl from Afghanistan whose family left behind the difficulties in their home country to start a new life in Michigan and the other, who is a compassionate and concerned 15 year old from Indonesia. In forty-five days we will see if the efforts of our US thinkpeace girls to raise funds will cover the trip for one of these girls… It’s not easy to be a grassroots organization full of teen girls with hearts of gold  but limited resources. Still, we will try. Because Grisella and Hadia need to be heard.  They have voices that can tell stories of things other girls can’t imagine.  Voices that can open minds and hearts to new perspectives and possibilities. We’ll be talking about our fundraising campaign on facebook, twitter, instagram and here… hoping that not only my dream can come true, but perhaps theirs as well.  Imagine!
Today I’d like you to meet Grisella. Grisella contacted thinkpeace via twitter after seeing a tweet about our summer camp in NYC.
Dear Kelly,
Sorry to bother you
My name is Grisella and i am from Indonesia
I want to ask some things about the summer camp
Is the Summer camp held yearly ? i wish it is because i can not join the camp this year because of the flight fare is too expensive and i have not saved my money for it and oh how much is the camp fees ?
That is all. Thank you very much for your attention. I look forward to hearing from you.
Best Wishes,
Grisella

I wrote her back and told her all about camp and asked her about what she cared about, thought about, and told her a little about my kids.  She got right back to me:

Yeaaah! I’m so incredibly excited for the summer camp next year oh my God! Hahaha. I’m going to be 15 this year and i’m in my last year on junior high. Well, i can say i care for a lot of things -not to brag or anything. Since, i live in Indonesia i started to think there’re a lot of things to be fixed. People here are barely well educated. They can’t afford for school fees. That’s why Indonesia stays the same.  They don’t make any better change and even worse they seem like they don’t care. And there’s health problems. This one really hurting. Bunch of people from small area come to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, looking for job and because of a lot of them didn’t get good education it’s difficult for them to have a well-paid job. Then, because the bills are more expensive than the wage, they can’t afford to buy a house but they still need a place to stay right? To solve it they build houses in the river banks, they use the river’s not-so-clean water for their daily needs such as bath, laundry, and even to cook and drink. I am also concerned about global warming. Why don’t we start to plant trees ? Like one or two trees are already helping the environment right ? Well, that’s about the conditions around me. Globally, i am really concern about bullying. Bullying is almost happening in every school all around the world. The bullies usually are not aware that they are hurting someone else. They are not aware of their words, their actions. They might think that by bullying someone it is proof that they’re strong or they are really envious because other person can enjoy life while they can’t. They might had a bad/dark past. That’s why i think every bullies should not be judged or punished. We must talk to them softly and tell them that what they’re doing is totally wrong and what they do can make the person they bullied commit a suicide. I also support noh8 campaign. Well i guess everybody should support this one because love is all we need. Why need to hate while you can love someone ? I’m 100% sure this world will be a so much better place if we do that. And there’s child labour. I think this is the worst problem ever! Children are supposed to be at school, learning things and socialising with their friends and not to work like adults. They usually do hard jobs which is really really bad for children. I don’t really know how i can solve this because this usually happen in Africa right ? And yeah I’m still under my parents guidance and it seems impossible to solve this by myself though. One last thing i want to stop is racism. Everyone is precious in every skin complexion just don’t judge everyone only by their looks.

But still i really want to stop bullying and child labour.
Well thank you so much for the information. Sorry if my english are terrible. You know, it’s not my language so yeah..
While we may not be able to get Grisella here in time for this year’s camp, we are determined to find a way– for next year. So stay tuned for more information on how to help a girl like Grisella or Hadia realize her goal, to be a thinkpeace girl! They see and feel the issues facing girls globally (and boys too, actually). Together, girls are such a big part of the solution. Global girl voices, and hearts, and hands, working together might just be able to CHANGE THE WORLD. Imagine!

take a deep breath

  •                                                                                                                                                                                         This is part one of my to-do list for the next 12 days. Things you won’t see on this to-do list include: eat sushi for breakfast, care for dying cat, sleep, read bedtime stories, drive in the country listening to TSwift, discuss politics, and be 90% technology free and yet, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since Friday. I think the universe has a way of telling us to (excuse my language) slow the f*** down. 

I don’t know about you— my life is slightly out of control at the present moment. And by slightly, I mean really. Really out of control. There are only so many hours in the day.  And our go-go-go culture expects us to get everything done, on time, and with 100% accuracy all. the. time. Sometimes, it just doesn’t happen.  I decided months ago to take this weekend off, to go see some friends, see my favorite slam poet and PowerGirl Andrea Gibson perform, and to then go home for the night, sleep in my own bed, get a detox push, and hop on the next flight back to DC. Alas, come Sunday my train to go home was delayed and then we got stuck somewhere between Rochester and Albany and what was supposed to be a 4 hour train ride turned into a 6.5 hour soul-searching-mojo-finding-session on the train. Continue on to Monday, I was supposed to be on a flight back to DC-  oh, don’t you know, DC got 9 inches of snow and my flight was canceled. I then tried to get on a different flight for Tuesday and last night at 10pm I got a call saying that flight was canceled. I’m tentatively scheduled to be on a flight for Wednesday morning.

Now, prior to maybe a month ago this whole fiasco would have been just that, a fiasco. I would have been so mad, I would have been screaming out to the world “HELLO UNIVERSE. CAN’T YOU SEE I HAVE A THESIS DUE IN 12 DAYS? I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS. WOULD YOU JUST SUCK THE SNOW BACK UP AND UNCANCEL MY FLIGHT AND PUT ME BACK IN THE STUDIO? THANKS!”  And yet, this time I literally can’t do a single thing. I don’t have my computer, I don’t have any books, I’m not in the studio, and no planes are moving and so, I’m here. Grounded. Quite literally. Feet on the floor, being still and slowing down, and looking my overachieving-perfectionism in the eye.

Often talked about here on the blog PowerGirl Brene Brown says this about perfectionism: “When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun — and fear is the annoying back seat driver. We struggle with perfectionism in areas where we feel most vulnerable to shame. So we’re all comfortable saying, ‘I’m a little perfectionistic,’ which is code for ‘I do things really well’ — but I’m not comfortable saying I have shame. It’s a way of thinking that says this: ‘If I look perfect, live perfect, work perfect, I can avoid or minimize criticism, blame and ridicule.’ All perfectionism is, is the 20-ton shield that we carry around hoping that it will keep us from being hurt.”

Woof. Let that sink in for a moment. I’ll wait.

 

 

Really. Let it sink in.

 

She hits it right on the head. I’ve been living in the perfectionism mindset about my thesis. My thinking goes something like this, “If I do a perfect thesis then a perfect collector will buy my work and then I’ll have money in my bank account and then I’ll be able to go to Mexico on a perfect vacation and then I’ll be able to come back perfectly all blissed out and then my life will be perfect.” Do you see how many times I say the word perfect in my thinking? WAY. TOO. MANY.  My high school advisor at one point said, “Why are you trying to fit in, when you were born to stand out?!” HELLO. TRUTH BOMB. In the past few days my thinking has changed to “Ok. Deep breaths. Your thesis will turn out exactly how it’s supposed to turn out. There are plenty of people who will have a ‘perfect thesis’ there is no need to add yourself to that category. Now, go take a nap and drink some green juice and it will all be ok.” WOAH. Big difference there.

Finally, for one more reinforcement— Germany based PowerGirl-run graphic design/social practice art project ‘Work is Not a Job’ believes that what you create is more important than what you do. When you wake up excited, full, and fresh you create more exciting things and in turn, when you create more exciting things the world changes. I don’t know about you but I don’t create exciting things when I don’t sleep because I’m too busy ‘perfecting’ the hell out of everything. And when we don’t sleep we become what my friend Ellen calls “a walking safety hazard.” I don’t want to be “a walking safety hazard” perfecting everything, I want to be out there knee-deep changing and shaking things up.

Now, I don’t know what the ‘thing’ that you try to perfect the hell out of is: it could be your thesis, or it could be your relationships or your AP Exam, or your college apps, or your sleep schedule— I have no clue and yet, my guess is that ‘perfecting’ it has only left you exhausted and frustrated. And so, just as a possibility for this week, what would happen if you let go of perfecting your life? What would you gain? What could come of it?

As always, send your thoughts, comments, and questions. garmin@thinkpeaceworkshop.org

what’s gay got to do with it?

Director’s note:  It’s been almost 17 years since Ellen DeGeneres made headline news with her coming out story. Below, thinkpeace workshop Intern, GARMIN, asks us to look at why the media continues to focus on celebrity sexuality. We appreciate the bravery that it takes to come out in today’s world and still, we wonder when we will live in a world where we simply value love, in all forms.  Imagine!
I’m mad. I’m angry. I’m frustrated. Now, it’s not often that I am these things, so you know when I am it’s for a good reason. In the past week two celebrities came out as gay. Now, I’m NOT mad about them being gay, in fact quite the opposite– I’m stoked for them; props for being you. I’m mad and angry and frustrated because why the hell are we still talking about it? Why is coming out still such a big deal? Should every person come out regardless of their sexual or gender identity? Should my friends come out and say, “Hi I’m a straight cis-gender woman?!” I don’t know. I do know that I am so over talking about this.

A couple nights ago my best friend Anne (sometime you’ll meet her if she ever agrees to let me interview her) and I were debriefing the week as we often do. I was explaining my frustration to her about all these celebrities coming out and it being such a big deal and on the cover of every mediocre newspaper and magazine in the US. She looked at me, smiled, and shared this quote by comedian Liz Feldman, “It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage. Or, as I like to call it: ‘marriage.’ You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not gay lunch. I parked my car; I didn’t gay park it.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I get it. I get coming out. I came out as queer to Anne in August 2011, and then it was a whopping 7 more months before most of the people in my life knew. Coming out is hard, those 7 months were the hardest months of my life– hiding isn’t fun, fear of rejection isn’t fun, the jokes are mostly not funny, and it is oh so liberating. Liberating to be yourself and step into your full authenticity.

Last May, when DOMA and Edie Windsor were in the Supreme Court fighting for rights, I wandered up to Capitol Hill to see what the general vibe was, simply out of curiosity. I saw something fascinating: two clear sides, a “YES! We support equality” side and a “NO! You are a bad person” side. Quite simply, while this wasn’t all that surprising it was interesting because it did support my theory about the data that had just been released, “The coveted 18-34 age group is “85% positive toward gay rights and gay marriage and gay inclusion.” And so what does this mean?! It means a majority of my peers, ages 18-34 could care less what you are, its people of older generations who don’t agree with it. And it’s also not surprising that the heads of the top 10 most circulated newspapers in the US (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/01/newspaper-circulation-top-10_n_3188612.html) are over 34. So to get to the gist of it real quick, it is them, the heads of the newspapers who are influencing whether or not a story on the latest celebrity coming out gets the front page or a little tiny sentence on “page 6.” This is HUGE. We are being spoon fed society and culture based on the interests of a handful of older, mostly white men and so it makes perfect sense that they will give us what THEY believe matters most. For a bit of contrast, let me offer this: Huffington Post, run by notable media mogul and PowerGirl Arianna Huffington, reported on Ellen Page coming out not as a “Hey Look, another celebrity comes out!” instead, posting all of the positive tweets and comments Page had received with a short blurb on her coming out. I’m not saying that all men-run newspapers and magazines are bad and women-run newspapers and magazine are good– I love the New York Times Style Section as much as the next person! I’m saying that we need to get clear, PowerGirls, on where our media is coming from!

To come back to my original frustration, I don’t have any clear answers or theories on why we are still obsessively talking about celebrities coming out. I understand that if your favorite celebrity comes out and you are struggling to come out, then it might provide some hope for your own situation. And I don’t think that is enough substance to justify talking about it mercilessly. And so, PowerGirl, this week I challenge you to check out where your media is coming from, who they are, what do they want you to get, and then go make your own decision. Figure out what you believe. From the words of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, I give you this, “It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference! Live on and be yourself.”

 

As always send me your thoughts, comments, and questions: garmin@thinkpeaceworkshop.org

possibilities

(Intern’s note: This is the fourth interview in our ‘possibilities’ series here on the thinkpeace blog.  We believe it is just as important to share our own stories as it is to hear about other powerful women who are living into their own greatness. They show us that no matter our age, financial situation, location, abilities, or stage of life, you can create possibility for your life. This is my friend Ella. She goes to my school and she’s super cool. I don’t think I have to introduce her, she’s that cool.)

 Meet PowerGirl Ella Quimby

 

The Interview:

Age?  23

Nickname in Middle School or High School?

Technically Ella is a nickname, since my full first name is Ellamarie- but I’ve also gotten Elle, Ella-bella, Umbrella, Quimbles, EQ, Eyya, among others.

 What did you want to be when you were growing up?

An actress. A firefighter (still want this). A pilot (still want this too). A diplomat. A mermaid (definitely still want this).

What do you want to be now/what are you doing?

For the last five years I’ve been pursuing my combined loves of Photography and Education. If all goes according to plan, I’ll finish up my Master’s in Teaching in May. I still want to be too many things. People keep assuming that I’m going to settle in to a classroom next fall- I won’t. I’ve never been one to stay still for a long time. A good friend of mine is working on finishing up his PhD in Vancouver, BC, and he’s got plans to found a wilderness therapy program for struggling adolescents in Haines, AK. We talked once about me coming out there to work with him, maybe that’s where I’m headed right now.

(If you want to find out more about that and/or donate to his program, you can visit the Alaska Wilderness School Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alaska-Wilderness-School/202250059807055?sk=info )

Flavor of Ice Cream that most describes you (not your favorite… the one that describes you)?

Is there a coconut vanilla swirl flavor? Maybe that’s too obvious… (I’m half Pacific Islander). I don’t like chocolate at all but maybe a chocolatey-coconut sort of flavor with cherry bits. Not the maraschino kind, real cherries.

How would you describe yourself in one word?

At the moment? Exhausted. In general… transient? In a positive way, though. I like to keep moving, keep pushing.

If you could flashback to your high school self would you tell her anything? If so, what?

Oh man, what would I NOT tell her? That in eight years you will look back on this time in your life and realize you should have treated yourself better. You should’ve been easier on yourself, let yourself have more fun. You’re fourteen, for goodness sake. Let yourself have more fun. Get up to stupid stuff, you won’t let yourself have time for those things later. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to work harder. Stop letting yourself believe the awful stuff people say. Take more chances.

 What do you love most about yourself?

I love that I have learned to love myself more often than I don’t.

Which one person has changed the course of your life? And why?

That question is literally impossible to answer. I am nothing if not the best parts of the people I surround myself with, and I give daily thanks for my ridiculously amazing circle of family and friends.

How do you motivate yourself?

Lately it’s been a lot of countdowns. Two more weeks until you’re done with this, four more months until you’re done with that, three more days and then you can let yourself watch six episodes of Battlestar Galactica and not leave your bed for the whole weekend. In general though, I’m motivated by new experiences. I worked my booty off this past Fall in school and at my jobs so that I could take four weeks to drive around the Lower 48- I had mountains of things to catch up on when I made it back to DC, but I didn’t regret it for a second.

On the blog and in staff meetings we have been talking about being a “YES!” to our lives… what does this mean to you?

Saying YES to my life means saying YES to opportunities- it means saying yes to loving myself and how far I’ve come in life, saying yes to coffee and Korean food with old new friends, saying yes to solitary punk rock dance parties in my car. Saying YES to myself also means sometimes saying NO to things I know I don’t want- toxic relationships, letting myself be taken advantage of, people in my life who think they know what’s best for me.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing girls in the world? How can we change the course of this?

There is no one answer. All of our -isms are intersectional- sexism, racism, classism, the list goes on. As an Educator, I spend a lot of my days thinking about the ways in which traditional education systems are structured to make sure oppressed minorities remain that way- in the next ten years, I’d love to see sweeping changes made to the very foundations of these structures, although I wouldn’t even know where to start or what that might look like.

What’s your next bold move?

By next September, Alaska- or Northern Ireland. On a smaller and more immediate (though no less bold) scale, completing my Graduate degree. There are a handful of people in my life who are betting on me to fail- they’ll be waiting a long time to collect.

live in the questions

This week we are starting a new series ::: live in the questions. 

In his book, Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke writes, “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

We here at thinkpeace workshop don’t have all the answers. We do have a lot of questions. Lots of them. We have ideas and thoughts, and dreams and wishes. We agree with Rilke that having questions and living into them is as equally, if not more important than the answers themselves. Living into the questions is one of the ways that we expand outward from our inner circle to our communities; we live outward. And so in this series we will introduce a thought and a variety of questions. Think about the questions, talk about them with friends, write and make art about them, and then share your thoughts with us.

“Change is choice. Choose wisely.” This was the quote given by the Head of School in her opening convocation speech on my first day of high school.

I love talking about change– change in ourselves, in our world, in others, and change as a concept. I could talk about it from day up to day down. It’s absolutely fascinating to me. And yet, in my research for my thesis I’ve been finding that women, and particularly teenage girls, are less content than ever. One of the most shocking facts I’ve found is that “7 in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members.”  I will be super upfront with you- I don’t have the answers. I don’t have the magic solution. I don’t know how to get girls to believe in themselves more. If I did, our world would be completely different- so much stronger, more beautiful, and lighter. However, what if, just as a possibility, we chose to love ourselves exactly as we are in this moment? What would that be like? What possibly could come out of imagining that possibility? What would it be like to be completely enthralled with yourself (not in an egotistical way, just a genuinely loving way)?” How would we see the world differently?

Live into the questions PowerGirl!  Email me your thoughts: garmin@thinkpeaceworkshop.org

work it, girl

 

it’s in you already

Work it because you’re worth it ::: Manifesting your goals. 

Manifesto, n. : a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer

There is a scene in the beginning of the movie version of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in which all of the girls sit around in a circle in an old church, light candles, and create a manifesto.  A manifesto of what they want their experience to be with the traveling pants; stating to each other the rules, wishes, and desires. While their manifesto isn’t written, it is spoken aloud with great dignity and energy. When they all reunite at the end of the summer they recount their adventures, triumphs, and less than desirable experiences with both the pants and the manifesto of the pants.

The past two weeks we have talked about reflecting on our past year and then setting new goals for this year. This week we will conclude this series with putting our goals into action. How do we make things happen in our lives? How do we live wholly and globally? How do we best show up as ourselves more often than not?

Lucky for you, manifestos aren’t just a thing that happens in movies or books. You too can manifest whatever you want in your life.

GARMIN’S TOP 3 TIPS TO MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN YOUR LIFE.

(For the sake of examples I’m going to use a goal I had in the past of running 800 miles in one year.)

1.  SAY IT OUT LOUD. 

No, really say it out loud. Tell your people. Your friends, family, Facebook, on the morning announcements at school, your teachers, co-workers, yoga teacher, track coach, hair dresser. Tell all the people. No, really- ALL OF THEM. When we tell our people we get an instant accountability system. There will people (without your prompting) asking you how your goals are coming.  I can’t tell you how many people would ask me if I ran yet today or what my total was for the year so far. The neighbor would see me in the grocery store and would say “Hey, I haven’t seen you running this week. How’s your mileage goal coming?” And instantly I would remember how many people are rooting for me to succeed which would push me forward.

2.  BREAK IT DOWN. 

Baby steps. Big goals are going to seem overwhelming. They are going to be intangible, impractical, wild, and so far out there. Until they’re not. 800 miles divided by 52 weeks- about 15 miles a week. And then further- (3) 5 mile runs or (5) 3 miles. And then you look at your week. Where do I have an extra hour 3 times a week? And you plug it into your calendar. Schedule it in. Just write “GT” (goal time).

3.  MAKE A VISUAL.

A vision board, a sculpture, a piece of paper with a drawing that reminds you of your goals, the goals physically written on the mirror, a collage, a pile of rocks, anything. Seriously. My visuals have changed from year to year. I always write them on two separate index cards; one which I keep on my body 95% of the time and another copy above my bed that I see every night and every morning. I have done just about every form of visual– the one that I have found to be most successful for me is to make a cup or a bowl and then eat/drink out of it every day. It brings to mind all the things I want to grow into.

Finally, PowerGirl, be gentle with yourself. You weren’t created overnight and your goals won’t manifest themselves while you sleep either. Time, persistence, and an unwavering knowing of what you want will get you to your goals.

“Everything you need is already inside you. Just do it.”

root down to rise up

roots and shoots

Root down to rise up; this is probably the most common phrase you will hear in any yoga class. And yet it describes so many different areas of our lives. I think it’s nearly impossible to move forward or grow up and forward if we don’t know where our roots are. That concept is one of the reasons why I love this time of the year– it’s a looking back, reflecting, evaluating, and then moving forward time. This will start a 3 week series on the blog, each week taking on one of these topics; reflecting, setting new goals and intentions, and manifesting. Personally, I think that we as a culture make these tasks so freaking complicated, complex, long, and way too difficult and so in an effort to break that down, I’m going to try my hardest to make this process as simple as possible. I think in the simplicity we can find that this process can be so incredibly helpful in learning to live into our full potential, power, strength, and keep us moving in an upward, unrelenting, forward motion.

This week we reflect. I’ll use myself as an example and then you can do your own reflecting, thinking, and sorting through.  I always love to start with numbers: What were your numbers? What did you do a lot of? What did you do a little bit of? What is an accomplishment to you?

This year I’ve been on 29 flights. I lived in DC, Alaska, and New York. I visited Seattle, San Francisco, and New Paltz for the first time. I went to 4 conferences/professional development workshops. I hiked 3 mountains: West Butte and Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska, and Giant in the Adirondack Park. I only went to the hospital 3 times, 2 for myself. (THIS IS HUGE. The year prior was 11). I read The Lorax aloud approximately 100 times. I worked 253 hours at my cupcake job. I lost my iTunes library twice and I only kissed one person.

Then to the tangibles: What were your goals, if any? How did you do on them?

My goals/intentions for last year were:

1. Yoga 4x a week.

2. Learn Tennis.

3. Camp push up challenge.

4. Practice making friends.

5. Cultivate gentleness.

I think we as a culture can fall into a trap of ultimatums, either yes or no, without any middle ground possible, when really that’s only as true as you make it. And so all my goals and intentions came with the asterisk of trying my best; that’s all the universe can ask of us. With that in mind, I “accomplished” all of them except number 2. As much as I put intention into it, yoga came to the forefront of my life and tennis didn’t come into fruition, and I’m ok with that. We learn, grow, and become the people we are supposed to be at our own pace. My pace this year didn’t include tennis.

Finally, I think the last part to reflecting comes with finding themes: what themes, thoughts, patterns of living, or constants appeared in our lives? What were the hardest moments? What were the easiest moments?  Where did you shine the brightest?

In my life this year the themes that surfaced were finding ease, limiting drama, letting go of things that don’t serve me, finding and expressing gratitude, and being authentically and truly me with no apologies. I think my hardest moments were admitting I need help and then letting people help me; this is still a huge struggle for me. My easiest moments and the moments where I shined the most were at camp in Alaska; I got down, dirty, gritty, and real with the people around me and I taught from my heartspace and not my headspace.

And so where does all that reflecting leave us? What’s next? I think it’s more thinking, processing, lingering, and reflecting until next week when we will transfer those thoughts into actions for the next year. What do you want more of in this next year? What do you want less of? What isn’t serving you and your life? What makes you oh so happy?

 

let the gratitude flow

In Alaska this past summer (at the summer camp for girls I was working at), we talked about gratitude every single day, often multiple times a day; we read books about it, made up phrases about it, and shared it every single night at dinner. In the simplest way I understand it, gratitude is a specific and life changing action, thought, verbal or non-verbal communication and the subsequent acknowledgement. It is however, different from thankfulness. Thankfulness is often associated with exchange of goods or services, gratitude is something that penetrates your soul. As we head into this Thanksgiving week (or as my community of people call it the “Collective Feast of Liberation”) I think it is more imperative than ever that we think about the places we are grateful and where our gratitude flows out of us.

“Sarah. SARAH. Have you seen Taylor??? TAYLOR. WHERE IS HE???”

“Um… I don’t know. He was just here.”

“Samantha. Have you seen Samantha?”

“No.”

My mom walked towards the foyer of our old Victorian-era house and I watched as I saw her heart literally drop in her chest. The door was wide open and Taylor was gone.

Due to the side effects of the drugs I am taking for my Lyme disease, most of my memory has been temporarily lost. There are a few events, people, and moments I haven’t forgotten. One of them is as clear in my mind as the day it happened; the day Taylor, my Autistic brother, wandered out of our inner city house and went missing.

“SARAH. PUT YOUR SHOES ON. WE HAVE TO FIND TAYLOR.”

As we ran down the stairs we saw our crazy neighbor Margaret holding our then new kitten, Samantha, in her arms. I don’t think mom said anything to Margaret, she just started running. Running through the traffic-filled streets, screaming and looking for Taylor. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever felt my heart pump so fast since that day.

Last week’s New York Times Op-ed highlights this issue. (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/13/opinion/wandering-is-a-major-concern-for-parents-of-children-with-autism.html?src=rechp)  The journal Pediatrics estimates that nearly 49% of people with Autism are prone to wander. With the rate of Autism now being 1 in 88, that’s a large number of people with Autism who are out in the world wandering.

Fortunately, we found Taylor that day. He was being carried by a man around the park near our house. I don’t ever want to think about the idea that we could have not found him that day. I’m not sure I would have been able to continue functioning if that was the case. However, not all parents and siblings are as lucky as we were. The case for a 14 year old Queens, NY boy is still active and while he is the most recent case, unfortunately he’s not the only one.

For many years after, I blamed myself for the fact that Taylor wandered out of our house– and yet I know that it wasn’t my fault. We had more locks on the doors in that house than a maximum security prison. Taylor is smart and can undo locks better than most locksmiths I know. He has wandered out of our current house many times even with deadbolts, spring locks, key locks, click locks, chains, and push and twist locks. He is just a smart kid with the desire to roam. And yet I worry, it wakes me up sometimes in the middle of the night. I never want to discover that my little brother is missing ever again.

Every morning that I wake and see him cuddled up and fast asleep in his bed, as I will this week when I head home, my body breathes relief. That sense of relief I feel is my gratitude– gratitude that we all made it through the night safe. Gratitude that I get another day to see his bright shining, smiley, loving face. And gratitude for myself that I have done my job as his sister to keep him safe.  In turn, my gratitude has a transference of energy, love. I love on that kid so much more, more kisses, hugs, fist bumps, late night drives through the country listening to Taylor Swift, hikes, and more “YES’s” than “No’s” come out of my mouth. Love that so greatly permeates time and space, love that goes deep-  as deep as the canyons and as high as the moon. Love that begins and ends with gratitude.

And so I challenge you PowerGirl, to truly dive deep this week into your soul and find the places where gratitude flows out of you.