Tag Archives: forgiveness

The Other Side of the Story.

Oh my.

There are moments in life when I can hardly believe how detached that I am. And yet, I enjoy Life to its fullest capacity.

 

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I spent the weekend in Atlanta, Georgia, home of Coca Cola and Martin Luther King, Jr. It has been amazing, and awe inspiring, and I had no idea that any of that was coming.

 

So, I was supposed to be attending a conference in Atlanta this weekend. And, no matter how peaceful that I am, I still love being a planner of sorts. So, as soon as I knew of the possibility of the conference, I bought my round trip air fair to Atlanta.

 

Then, it got canceled. And, I decided that coming to Atlanta, for fun, adventure, and who knows what, was well worth the price of a plane ticket and an Air bnb (is that how I write it??). So, I arrived in Atlanta Friday morning at 8:00 AM, and had no idea what was going to happen.
Suffice it to say, it has been freakin’ amazing.

 

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I hugged a polar bear, hugged multiple humans, ate beautiful food and walked for miles. And, what added beauty and magic to every moment was my own presence. My own awareness of being awake. Alive. In a sense of knowing. I am humbled and in awe of how awake I am on any given day!  Something so startling and inspiring is happening in me, as I continue to crack wide open.

 

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Strange, and not that strange, we start out in this world as completely new and open, and having a keen knowing of who it is that we truly Are. Then, slowly and over time, we curl up, we close, we forget, and then we learn to pretend that we haven’t really forgotten. Then, we remember, just a little bit, but get scared. We get scared to be open, and vulnerable. Vulnerability is certain death, after all! Don’t do it- don’t risk losing that which is predictable and safe; security at its peak.

 

But, that is the joke, after all.  There is not truth to that. In this form, in this body, we are fragile. Anything could happen, and end this as we know it to be. At any moment. So, I tell you:
This is not IT.

 

Wait.  I will say that again.
THIS IS NOT IT.

 

It only feels like “it”.

 

I am not saying that this realm, this experience doesn’t FEEL real. It feels completely real. We learn about it, we invest in it, we protect it, build it, commit to it!

 

Then, something goes profoundly wrong-  “bad” as we call it here. And we feel completely turned upside down and shaken. How could this happen? What did I do to deserve this? Where’s G_d?

 

I admit, knowing what I have come to know doesn’t ease all of the pain, loss, and grief, hurt and anger. But, it helps.

 

A. Lot.

 

I still feel pain. Hurt. Anger. Grief. Disappointment.

 

AND- I remember that I can feel those emotions, as deeply and authentically as possible as needed, and then, allow them to pass. I get to watch them float by without staying attached to them. It is perfectly okay to feel what we feel- but we don’t have to attach ourselves to a story about those feelings.

 

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When I am one with all that Is, I see every circumstance unfolding precisely as it should; I see how every step makes sense to the overall picture, and I am available to an acceptance of things just being as they are. Life as it Is. And, I meet the most amazing other humans on that journey.

 

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I have come to more consistently see the other side of the story; the other side of the story in my mind. The other side is Surrender. Peace. Forgiveness. Everything that we already carry in us, and is our only possible saving grace. And, grace is not my doing. How could it be? I am part of and receiving that grace, but it is so much bigger than me in this human form. When I say yes to grace, and sink into that truth, it is the deepest peace that I have ever known.

 

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What Do I Know?

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When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up and be a social worker. Why? Because I saw the world as broken, and hurting, and I saw myself as the superhero who was going to fix it. To solve every problem, heal every wound. To change the world. To this day, it has created a belief within me that sees myself as the one with the right answers, and the one that is essential for a problem to be solved.

 

Additionally, by seeing the world as broken, and needing me to fix it, I have also developed the belief that had a certain talent with people, that I could tell if something was bothering someone, and even more than that, WHAT was bothering them. Sometimes, I would call that “gift” in myself being intuitive, or being empathic. And, I do know that those skills live within me, and I do sense things when I really trust myself. But, how I have most often crafted the stories of the problems of others that I weave into my mind, is by simply believing that I know what is going on with them. By the evidence that they show in their body language, the words that they use, or don’t, or emotions that they express. For most of my life, I have been thinking that I know, for certain, what is happening with them.

 

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And, to be fair to myself, sometimes, I have been right.  And, even though I appreciate being tuned into what others are going through, what I have enjoyed about being right is a way to pat myself on the back, to show my own arrogance of thinking how well that I know what the world needs, and how I am certainly the one that can fix it for them.  As I type the words, they sound ugly, and harsh. But, there is ugliness and harshness there, because all of those aspects live in me.  The arrogance, the self centeredness, the bold assuredness of being right, the feeling justified in taking a position or a side.  And, those aspects that are more difficult to look at sometimes live in all of us.

 

The deepest truth that I now understand, is that no matter what evidence I believe that I see to prove myself correct about someone, is that I can never, ever know what is going on with someone else. Even if they tell me. And, this includes myself as well. Although all of our thoughts can carry loaded stories along with them, and are always attached to some belief system we possess, we don’t even have to believe our own thoughts about ourselves. We don’t write the story for someone else, except in our heads. We embellish the stories in our heads with details that we feel certain are right, and then, have an ongoing battle within us based on our assumptions.
We can only ever know best what is going on with ourselves. That takes enough cleaning and clearing, for sure. I never have to take anyone else personally, and if I make assumptions, I am mostly likely going to be wrong, and I will be telling a story that does not include the other person, and only lives in my head. It is destructive and not loving.

 

I feel like coming to this realization again, in a really deep, profound way, is going to light the way for me to move forward with others, and circumstances, with Love, Light and Presence.

 

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What is Gratitude?

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It is not unusual that I would be thinking about, and writing about, Gratitude on this day, Thanksgiving Day, 2018. And, my thoughts and perspectives have changed about both Thanksgiving, and about Gratitude over the years. In a way, it feels somewhat strange to change my perspectives, and in another respect, it is so much more at ease to view both Gratitude, and this holiday, in a new way.

 

During the early years of my life, Thanksgiving most often was spent in Massachusetts, with my father’s family, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. There would be more than a dozen of us around the dining room table, and the smaller and younger of us at the kids’ table, which was a folding card table in the television room. No matter where I sat, there was always plenty of food, plenty of laughs, and lots of love. 

 

As I grew older, Thanksgiving changed into various ways of observing; either with my parents at our family’s home; with my partners and their families; and, eventually, with my own nuclear family. In the last few years, the holiday has mostly been spent with myself, my wife, my son, and my wife’s family.  

 

However, this year, we decided to observe it differently; to create more simplicity around it, and to do what we felt most inspired to do. This year, that was to have it be just my wife and myself, cozy in our home, cooking our own turkey, and celebrating our own internal quiet and the quiet nature of the day. That decision, for both of us, has had moments of feeling different, unusual, or like we were doing something wrong; something not expected. However, when we let go of any guilt, expectation, or should thoughts, we are in bliss and enjoying our time together.

 

I have, in addition to these changes, changed my perspective very profoundly around gratitude in the last few years. Although I have never had difficulty finding things to be grateful for in my life, I would limit it to the events, circumstances, and things that felt good; that seemed to enhance my life. And, I was not fully aware of my feelings of gratitude in my every day life. It was almost as if I would wait for gratitude to be worthy of something I was experiencing, and then it would show up. 

 

My practice has deepened to the degree that I now find Gratitude in most everything that I experience, including those times and circumstances that seem most difficult. Actually, those difficult life experiences end up being the things that I am most grateful for. In those moments of heartache, struggle and being gripped by one thing or another, I learn so much about myself, about others, and about what it is that I really want for myself. I am full of Gratitude most in those times, because I am slowly, but surely, setting myself free.

 

Of course, I don’t always remember to be grateful from day to day; and I still bear resentments, judgments, and deep insecurities at times. However, when I remember to choose Gratitude, which is more frequent all the time, I feel a sense of Surrender, Peace, Forgiveness and Love more deeply than I have ever known. And that is my saving grace; that is my freedom. 

 

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Hug Bug Tour 2018.

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Sixteen months ago, I went on a journey for ten days, drove more than three thousand miles, and hugged hundreds of people. It was one of the most brilliant adventures of my life. And, now, in one week, I get to do it all over again. Get ready for Hug Bug Tour 2018!

 

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So much has happened in my world since June of 2017. Many changes to many people that I love. Some losses. Some big adjustments. And, some of the most amazing lessons of my life so far. I feel ready, eager, and peaceful about what is going to happen next.  On Saturday, October 20, my wife, Brenda and I, will depart for eight days of adventure, magic, and love. 

 

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The stops are diverse, and I have no idea what is going to happen! Yet, the vision for this trip is the same as my last Hug Bug Tour, but different. What is the same is that I want to connect with as many human beings as I can, through the power of touch. Through the simple gesture of a hug. 

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I also love the adventure of traveling on the open road, seeing new places, having new experiences, and driving for hours with the beauty of nature all around, and finding out what might be coming around the next corner.

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Some parts are different this year. Having my wife with me means that I get to share the meaningful moments along the way with her, in real time. It means she gets to have some great experiences of her own, and we both get to expand out of our familiar comfort zones. I also get to talk about my book, the chronicle of my last Hug Bug Tour; The Hugging Army: An Experience in Connection. 41699961_10157758779038136_6910052052219461632_n

I want my lessons from the first Hug Bug tour to be more deep and profound than ever; with my desire to let go of any outcomes. To let people be as they are. To simply shine my light without having to do anything. Except to be a presence. Be my self. Go forward in the world and love deeply. 

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Please, follow me as we depart on our journey, send loving messages our way, cheer us on, cry with us, laugh with us. We carry you with us as well. You know where to find me: 

http://www.thehuggingarmy.org

Facebook: The Hugging Army/Vanessa Leigh White Fernandes

Instagram: vanessaleigh19625653

I Love You. Hug Some One. 

 

Mine stinks, too.

I love that at this time of my life, over half of a century that I have been in this human form, I like to look at myself with deeper eyes. What I mean by that is, I enjoy looking at, and catching myself, at the ways in which I want to either build or maintain my own identity, or see myself as “different” than others. When I say “different”, I typically mean, better than. When I get to catch myself engaging in these subtle but powerful attitudes and behaviors, it is refreshing and relieving.

 

Yet, what I keep discovering, is that the more effective I get at catching myself, the more subtle and illicit the behaviors, ideas, and attitudes become. Because my ever present Ego still wants to exist, it is sneakier and sneakier at how it presents itself. For example, I can feel really good about catching my Ego at what it does, but then, when I become egoic about how much better I am at catching it than someone that I know, that is Ego doing what Eckhart Tolle calls “coming in through the back door”. I am still a human, and a physical body, and I still believe that I exist, just like every other person. And, just because I am in one place about it, and someone else is in a different place does not make me more anything, evolved or otherwise.

 

The best thing that I get to do for myself, and for the world, is to see my own behaviors without making a story around it. Without using it as yet another way to separate myself from others. No matter what loving word I call it- seeing myself in that way out of love, compassion, forgiveness, or self esteem- it is always a way to separate myself from others, and for me, all that does is discourage deeper connection. And, that is not what I want anymore. I want to deepen my connection with myself, and with others, without making it into my identity that then I get to feel good about. I just want to do it, and be present with that, and remember that all of the rest of it is the details of the story that I tell myself or someone else. And, I get to look at it in myself with eyes of love, not condemnation, guilt or judgment.

 

I get to see myself as human, and as a light being, and get to see that Universal aspect in all of us. 

 

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