Tag Archives: community

Being a Human.

Last month, I published my first book. It is stories and photographs of all of my many journeys with hugs so far. And, it has been an amazing ride. I have hugged so many beautiful humans, and learned so much about myself in the process. And, last night, I had the deep privilege of hugging a few dozen more of them, blindfolded on the streets of Scranton. 

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I have learned many things about myself as I have been on this journey, about surrender, forgiveness, expectations, and being in the present moment. And, for the most part, I live in those realms in my daily living, and when I am not there, am able to do what I need to in order to get back there.

 

But yesterday, I felt more human than usual. What felt like a difficult circumstance came up in my life, and my first response was anger. Of every range of emotion that there is for us humans, anger is the one that I have the most difficulty with understanding and processing. Of course, I also know that anger is nothing more than another form of fear, but in the moment yesterday, I was pissed. I felt hatred. I wanted to lash out and attack people, and felt very justified in that feeling. And, although I know that I am a human being, and that I am imperfect, and that I will go through these difficulties at times, I also don’t like it when I feel something that I don’t know what to do with.

 

So, I gave myself over completely to my street hugs last night. I had already planned to go downtown and hug with a blindfold, which I had not done since my first street hugging experience three years ago. And, I don’t think that I really knew how much it would bring healing to me last night. Until it happened. 

 

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Humans, just being themselves. Being vulnerable. Sharing a moment with me that for most of them, brought me to tears. A sharing of hearts, souls and moments that are imprinted on me. 

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With every hugging experience, I understand more deeply that it is not me who is bringing something to others; it is the sharing of the hug with one another. The blend of two beings, two souls, and the experience of our universal nature, our sameness. I am filled with a deep honor and reverence for sharing those intimate moments with my fellow Light Beings. 

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Thank you. For reminding me of the beauty of being a human; and how much we all share with one another. 

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Teacher/Student, Suffering/Acceptance.

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There has been deep wisdom that I have opened to most recently in my life. Learning that I would no doubt encounter at some point, but the Now is the best time to be learning it. And even though some of the lessons that I am now learning, are in the same form as in the past, the learning is completely transformed at this time. I am finally ready. 

 

The areas that I have been learning in the most are around being a teacher, and a student; and around suffering, and surrender. No matter who you are or what your life circumstances are, I believe that all of these areas are Universal lessons for all humans. For the earliest years of my life, I was formally and informally a student. Before I was conscious of learning, when I was a baby and small child, a slow, deliberate process of domestication brought teaching to me, and although I was initially passive in the learning, I retained all that I was given. As I got older, and was able to be aware of the learning more acutely, I would receive lessons that were part of formal schooling, and seek out additional topics and learning opportunities that were more interesting to me. I have always enjoyed being a formal learner, and would joke that my career would be to go to college forever. College was the breeding ground for special learning it seemed, because I got to choose what courses to take and what interested me. It was a marketplace of choices and topics.

But, around that time, interesting shifts in me began to occur. I began to see myself as full of knowledge, and stopped having the desire to learn, and just wanting to teach. When I got my undergraduate degree, I wanted to start working because I believed I knew all that I needed to in order to be a great social worker. I wanted to teach others all that I had learned, so that I could get on with saving the world. And, I put my formal learning on hold, thinking there was not much left to learn about how to help others. 

Eventually, I did resume some formal learning, and saw how much more there was to know in the world. I started seeking spiritual teachers then as well, and was eager to gain as much knowledge as I could, emulating my instructors and thinking that was the way to believe and think. And, then again, wanting to become a teacher in the world, believing I had the best of information that others needed. With that, I would also stop being willing to learn, thinking, this has to be IT, everything that I need to know. 

My other big area of lessons has been in the realm of suffering, and what that means, in terms of my human experiences, and what stories that I tell about it. I used to believe that suffering and difficult experiences were all part of the human condition, that we all have bad things happen in our lives. And, terms of fact and structure, I still hold that to be true. Bad things happen. Yet, the degree to which we suffer over the circumstances and events that happen is directly related to how much we accept life as it is, or don’t. I would often blame the outside world, or my girlfriend, or God, or traffic or other fellow humans for my degree of suffering: it is all their fault. And, if I had a bad experience, and didn’t feel sad or distressed about it, I thought there was something wrong with me; to suffer over my circumstances seemed like a way to pay homage to it. To honor it. 

My current belief is that even a person or circumstance is what leads me into sad, angry, or distressing feelings, I still have the power to choose; to choose what type of story I want to tell myself about it. I also ALWAYS have the power to choose to remember that the present moment, right Now, is all that there ever is. This moment. And, when I am able to be in this present moment, and to accept whatever comes in it, as just being what it Is, the suffering is less. Surrender brings great freedom and deep relief. Choosing surrender and experiencing peace honors the events of our lives in a deeper way, because it means we are in deep acceptance of the fleeting, ephemeral nature of all things. 

These two pairs of experiences and beliefs are actual paradoxes of one another, but ones that are required for the other to occur. That is the part of wisdom that had been lost on me for the first 50 odd years of my physical existence. In order for me to learn how to surrender, there has to be the experience of suffering. And, for me to be able to teach others, I have to always be willing to learn. One does not exist without the other. And yet, even though I resist, I get scared, I don’t want it to be true, I know that it is the only way that I will learn that which are the deepest truths of my life. 

This moment is all there is; and I want to experience it as deeply as possible with no promise of what may come next. 

 

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Unconditional Love.

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I have been a fraud most of my life, and the first time that I admitted that a few years ago, I was so scared to put the words to the page. Terrified to let others know the truth about who I was underneath, after having such a shiny veneer surface in the world for so many years. It is only in the last few months, literally, that I have pulled back the veil and really gotten to the nuts and bolts of who I really Am.

 

Does this sound confusing? Believe me, it has felt like a cyclone of thoughts and feelings for me, over my lifetime and more specifically, in the last couple of months. I have come to terms, rather, come to some realizations about the real Truths that make me, me. And, the result is feeling more free, peaceful and loving than I have, ever in my entire life.
Does this sound impossible? Dramatic? It has felt like the ride of my life, yet where I was meant to come to within myself all along. Let me tell you more. When I say, I have been a fraud, what I mean is that I have had a beautiful, cheery exterior. On the outside of my soul vessel, I would project an image of happiness, self confidence, intelligence and light. And, most of the time, I felt some or all of those things. However, I felt those positive things about myself, by whatever was reflected back to me. So, if someone was interested in what I had to say, and thought that I was smart, then I would radiate that. If a person was attracted to or interested in dating me, I radiated that outwardly. If I lost fifty pounds and liked what I saw in the mirror, then I beamed.  I took the outside world as evidence of the truth that I should be or display.

 

The other edge of the sword however, was that when the outside stimuli that I would take in was what I perceived as negative, or not encouraging toward me, I would deem myself as unworthy; bad; fat; ugly; dumb. I took the perceived words and truths from others to be my truth. So that was the first of many of my problems: that I believed whatever the outside world told me that I was or should be, and saw that as the real truth not only about who I was, but who I had to project myself as. 

 

However, the biggest way in which I was fraudulent, was that I pretended, not only to the outside world, but to myself, that I was never resentful. Angry. Disappointed. Judgmental. Petty. If I admitted that I had those aspects that lived in me, then what kind of human was I? And, when I did admit them out loud, I would immediately attack myself internally, because I believed that made me a bad person. Frankly, an asshole. And I had spent a lifetime trying to believe that I wasn’t an asshole, but never quite got there. I started being more transparent about this a few years ago, with others and with myself, but didn’t really have the lessons sink in until quite recently. I still didn’t see my true essence.

 

At the beginning of this year, however, something seemed to shift in me. It wasn’t because it was a new year, and I wanted to start with a clean slate; I don’t wait for a new year, start of the week or something else to begin getting happy. Something about it just felt like a time for shifting. So, slowly and surely, over the last three months, my conversations have been more genuine, I have talked about my own vulnerability and perceived ugliness more openly and consistently, and began tuning in more to what would really feel good to do for myself. I see my sameness with everyone else that I encounter. I started meditating, just a few minutes each morning. I went to Reiki, for the first time in my life, and was tuning in more deeply than I ever had before. 

 

And, slowly and deeply, I began to shift. The shift feels subtle at the same time that it feels like an earthquake. I have awakened my chakras within me, and I can see my own light bursting forth. And, even though my light has shone in the world for many years now, I never saw it. Not as the pure love, peace and adoration that it is. I see my own Light. I see it clearly and I am not afraid of it anymore. My heart is more open than it has ever been. And, I understand, not just as a saying, but as a practice, that it has to and can only begin with me. 

 

My essential nature is Pure Love. Yours is, too. 

 

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Dear Aunt Ruth

“And in the end, the love you take 

Is equal to the love 

You make.”  The Beatles, Abbey Road

Dear Aunt Ruth:

Not that I am counting, but it has been nearly fifteen months since you died. Most days, that feels like a new normal to me; I have become accustomed to life continuing on without your physical presence in it. And, I say and feel that with no guilt or shame whatever. I am understand death, and dying, more deeply than ever before, and understand that only your physical body experienced death, yet you are always and forever all around me.

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Yet tonight, after my yoga class and as I was driving home, I lost my breath as I thought of you not being here physically anymore. The cry felt like a choke in my throat, and some tears came. The quote above was playing as I was driving, and my mind and heart went immediately to you.

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Now, it had been building for the last several days. Maybe it was when I would think about my book, and how exciting it is that I am going to be published, one of my dreams come true. I want you to be here at my launch party. Maybe it was because I finally got the ring sized, the one that you are wearing in this very picture, the only item that I cared to have that belonged to you. Maybe it was because I was wearing one of your Oak Island tee shirts, the only destination in your later years that we could ever get you to leave home for; you never missed a year in ten years at the beach. Or, maybe it was listening to Abbey Road in my new, blue Hug Bug, belting out Oh, Darling!, just like I did for you at the beach, pretending I was playing a piano, and you watching me with tears in your eyes. Or, that line: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

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Whatever the reason, I am missing you fiercely. I hear your voice in my head, but won’t talk to you on the telephone again. I see your face, but won’t ever touch it again. I feel your touch, yet these moments are never again. Of course, I am not being present, not staying in the now when I have these longings; I am remembering times that have gone by, never to return, only a mere memory trace and nothing more.

Still, I crave having you with me again. We had no unfinished business, no ugly history that needed to be sorted out in order to be at peace. I just wanted to be with you as often as I could. I loved your humor, your honesty, your humility, your love and your care. I loved that you loved me as deeply and courageously as you did, and I felt it, every minute of my life. 

So, I am missing you. And, in another moment, I will feel your presence deep, full and eternal, and the missing will pass. Until that time, I will shed tears, stay with my heart, and remember all that you are and forever will be to me.

I love you always.

Nessa xoxo

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Fat and Happy.

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My body and my image of it, in terms of my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, have been on quite the journey throughout my time here. I have been housed in this physical vessel for over 55 years so far. I have been in various feelings states in that time about it. Anything from pure shame and disdain, to pride and ease. With lots of feelings and thoughts in between as well. 

What is most interesting to me, however, is that what I have felt about myself, either positive or negative, has always related directly to something outside of myself. So, when the scale read 211 pounds, I felt deep shame; I would criticize myself in the mirror and in my head. Then, when the scale read 200 pounds, 180 pounds, 150 pounds, I would feel a deeper sense of satisfaction and “happiness”, because I was losing weight. In addition, if I felt hungry in between meals, or wanted to order french fries instead of a salad, I would experience loud chatter in my head, about how bad I was.

When I started to eat more nuts, avocados, and coconut oil, I was terrified about how much weight I might gain from it. I have followed many of the eating plans, regimens, and diets that are around. I have weighed myself daily, and avoided doctors’ appointments so I wouldn’t have to get on the scale. I have had the sense of absolute dread when I would pull out my clothes for the season, about whether or not they would still fit, or be too tight.

I have obsessed, cried, cursed, wished, and waited for something to change, so that I would be different, look different, or both. I was sure that I knew the true equation: the number on the scale, or the size in the closet, is in direct correlation to how valuable or beautiful I am, and whether I have worth. In this type of math, the math of self loathing, less (pounds) is better.

With the grace of the powers that oversee my life, and with my own willingness to see a different, more authentic truth, I have rescripted this in my head. I no longer equate my personal worth with what size or weight that I am. I have chosen to no longer choose shame when I don’t take a walk for a week, or have fries for lunch. I buy comfortable clothes and give away those that are too small for me. I stopped looking in the mirror, scrutinizing for every flaw, and know that the surface body that I see is not the summation of who I Am. I tuned in with how to care for myself more deeply than ever before.

This weekend, I was spending some time with my parents, and as my father commented on how happy I am, and how much it shows on me, a deep Truth showed itself to me once more: I am fat, according to many of the schools of thought in the world. And, I am blissfully happy, in all that I think, say and do. It’s not perfection by any means, and I still feel body shame at times. Yet, I finally get it, that as long as I am taking care of my body, mind, soul and heart, in the best ways that I know how, tuned in to what I really want and need, that is enough. No matter how it appears on the outside, or what others expect or want from me. I am always enough. Complete. Whole. 

Fat and Happy as my True Self. 

 

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