The Truth of Who I Am

"Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free." -Eckhart Tolle

My Girl. Our Girls.

There’s a little girl I know. She’s 7 and bubbly and smart and precocious. She joined me on a walk with my dog and our friendship grew to where she’d come knocking on my door whenever she could and bring her friends to meet me. She staked out a very special place in my heart and I happily welcomed her in. Her family came here from Iraq as refugees. She’s one of the most delightful people I know. She could light up any room with her smile and her bright eyes that dance when she looks at me. I love this little girl.

Except she’s not 7 anymore. She just turned 19. And she’s been serving time in prison…a two year sentence. Long enough to smother her bubbly, smart, precocious personality. Long enough for her to learn lessons that could harden her for life. Long enough to see and hear things that could change her forever. Long enough to slow down her path to college and independence and a happy life.

How she got there through the ridiculously flawed justice system sickens me to my stomach. The punishment far from fits the mistake (NOT crime) she made as a teenager. Far from fits it! The fact that the juvenile system left her case sitting long enough for her to be tried as an adult is beyond problematic in itself. The fact that the prison system is using her as a means to profit is despicable. Have I said enough about how I feel. To protect this young woman’s privacy, I will not delve into the details of her case, but trust me when I say that SHE DID NOT DESERVE ANY OF THIS. ANY OF IT. If you knew the details, you would agree with me. I have no doubt.

I am deeply disturbed about the path of girls like her, who live in a world where the right opportunities are just enough out of reach so that the wrong opportunities get taken. It’s girls like her that can change the world. Girls like her, who are bright and lovable and precocious growing up in a community that bears the brunt of poor decisions we’ve made as a society, can make a big difference. Girls like her grow up to become mothers who make choices about the education and care of their children and about the things they tell their children about the world. Mothers who have to teach their children how to know the difference between the right and the wrong opportunities. Mothers who could know about the opportunities that are available and how to get access to those opportunities. Instead, our system, more often, leads girls like her to grow up to be mothers like her own mother whose heart is a little broken because, no matter how much she loves her children – and she does – she did not know of or have access to all the opportunities that could have helped her along. There is a way and a need to change the systems that aim to punish rather than teach our young people – systems that capitalize on the mistakes of some teenagers knowing that they cannot afford to pay for a good defense. We have to change the systems for girls (and boys) like her.

This is what “the girl effect” is all about globally. This girl – my girl – is one of many girls. We have to start seeing them as OUR girls. I’ve said before how much I believe in the power of women – in the way we know and nurture and love and make wise decisions for the people around us. I believe in the power of us women and I also believe it’s our time. Our innate nature and the wisdom of that nature has a purpose on this earth and it’s our time. It’s our time to say STOP and to begin tapping into the wisdom of our nature. Time to listen to that voice, which for some of us has been been quieted down to a whisper that’s barely audible.

The louder voices that silence us often come through the media. We are told that we are not strong enough or smart enough or creative enough or tough enough or able enough to change the world. We are told that we are here to be pretty – not even for ourselves but for others. We are told that we are princesses who live in castles and get saved by knights in shining armor and that our purpose is to do all we can do to be ready and recognizable and pretty enough to take on the role of a princess.

Kaya Pirate

Yes, we’re in a bit of a princess-free zone around our house and whenever talk about princesses comes up, I find a way to have educational discussions about royal families and monarchies and freedom. I try not to lay it on too thick. Really I try. But I do have an aversion to princess talk and I am bored by the big eyes and long hair and feet that remain pointed even while barefoot. There’s just too much else in this world to occupy my children’s minds to let them get stuck on princesses. I’ll admit that I sometimes feel a twinge of doubt and guilt when I pretend not to hear my little girl’s request for a princess doll. But I still mostly believe I’m doing what’s best for her by holding off on the princess and Barbie dolls and teaching her to question the meaning and value of beauty.

But I digress. I believe, with more conviction everyday, that women are the answer to today’s human problems. There’s a certain kinship and consciousness brewing in the last few decades that’s preparing us to change the world. And it’s going to take us tapping into our womanism. It cannot come from understandings of power in the way that our current society has established. It cannot come from the historically male-dominated society that we are in. And let me clarify that womanliness is not exclusive to people born with the physical body parts of women, but is open to anyone who is truly in touch with that other side of “manliness” that has become the standard by which we measure power and success and strength.

-Sojourner Truth

I believe change will have to start with women. Change will have to start with womanism – a way of being and knowing that has been around the world for hundreds of years. Womanism is an idea that differs from and precedes feminism. We need to reach back into the wisdom of our woman souls. Layli Maparyan wrote about this in her book The Womanist Idea. Womanism reaches back into the nature of who we are, into our core spiritual nature, and calls us into activism. Womanism is what drew women together to care for each other during birth and celebrations. It’s what drives women to do impossible things in the name of love for our families. It’s the no-nonsense, go-getter, put-up-with-bullshit so we can take care of what needs to be taken care of wisdom and strength we carry inside us. It’s what makes us fierce and phenomenal when necessary. We need to understand and tap into our womanism. And we need to teach our girls about the womanist idea when they are young so that they know better than we know about the Divine feminine force within them.

Hindu Goddess Shakti: The Feminine Divine Force

The kind eyes of a little girl whose face could be from any part of this earth watch me from a vision board that hangs near my desk. She represents my girl. Our girls. She beckons me whenever I look up and reminds me that the work needs to begin. This beckoning may just be another truth of who I am. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my girl. Our girls. I know there’s something brewing in my heart. It’s a wish and a whisper I’ve carried in my heart for a while now. I may even have been born with this wish that refuses to quiet down. The little seven year-old girl that joined me on my walk and chatted up a storm right into my heart gently awakened the dream in my heart. Her last two years have beaten up my heart. It’s to the point where I can no longer ignore the dream.

Truthfully yours,

Rhina

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A Gift From an Angel

Who knew when I went to bed feeling blah and then woke up this morning still feeling blah that I would be meeting an angel? I believe the Universe knew. But I had no idea.

I was having just that kind of morning in which tears and cuss words were on the brink of falling on whoever was in my path. Feeling restless. And angry. And disappointed. And misplaced. And scared. And so very guilty that I was not waking up wholly and completely joyful about all the amazing things I have in my life. After all I have a good (and handsome) partner, two hilarious, darling kids, co-workers whom I love and who blur the line between co-worker and friend, a comfortable home and a body that works well (but could use some exercise and a couple vegetables daily).

So being on the brink of tears and cussing makes me feel scared that the Universe might snatch it all back just so I REALLY appreciate the beauty in my life. And I feel guilty for feeling restless and wanting something else because I feel a little lost. With all the quotes I see daily that remind me to love and to be positive and to be brave and to just do the thing that has to be done, feeling the unrest seems so wrong. But there I was leaving the house with all of it and venturing into an elementary school to observe and offer feedback to budding teachers. I would much rather have stayed in bed and wallowed in my pity and negativity.

As I sat in the atrium of a lovely school and got irritated at the sight of pictures of kids who looked nothing like the kids who attended the school advertising STEM education, I heard a loud thud out of nowhere and found a young boy sitting next to me in tears. There was no-one else in that big room and I could have sworn he came from the sky or wherever angels live. He was mad and sad. He was NOT having a good day. Neither was I, so I immediately connected with him and scooted closer and patted his back. That simple act ignited a tiny spark deep inside me. After some probing and angry tears and through a shaky body (all him, not me), I managed to gather that 1. he did not feel like he could do anything right, 2. a friend had just said (loudly) inappropriate things about his mama (!!!!!), 3. his teacher had not been helpful and 4. he wanted to move to another country where he would be more liked. Apparently we were sharing the same experience under different circumstances.

That’s where I got to use my magic. See, THAT’S what I do really well. I can comfort a child like nobody’s business. I can help people – friends, strangers, loved ones – feel better. It’s sort of a gift I’ve been given.I can’t play any instrument well nor do I have a stage-worthy voice. Line dancing stresses me out and sports have failed to keep my attention for very long. It took me a large part of my life to choose teaching as a career, even. I used to wish I had a definite talent that propelled me through every choice including WHAT I WANTED TO DO WHEN I GREW UP. I never liked that question because I never knew an answer. I’m still not sure I have an answer, actually. But I have learned that I have this gift of being able to get people feeling better – even if it’s simply feeling better while still feeling their sadness or hurt or disappointment. I know it’s a gift because I receive it every time I give it away.

My ten minutes with with my angel boy were the best moments of that day. I lit up from the inside the moment I started to share my gift and the little spark grew into a bonfire by the time I left him. I drove home thinking about him and wondering what it might be like to do that all the time, everyday. What might it be like to ignite my spark and feel a bonfire every day.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Goals and Intentions and the difference between the two. One of Oprah’s friends wrote about it and it stuck with me. Intentions are more important than Goals. You can fulfill your intentions through a variety of goals but goals should always begin with an intention. For example, it’s been my intention to nurture teachers into their most authentic and successful selves in the classroom. My goal of getting a Ph.D. came from that intention. Or another example – my intention is to be a GOOD mother and raise kind, happy children. My daily goal is to be patient and to NOT yell at my kids even when it’s the 51st time I’m making a request. Another example – my intention is to bring out the best in people, including myself. And I translate that to mean simply that we live from our souls, from our insides, from the place that God resides, from the truth of who we are.

I had to pause a moment after that last line, and even before it, because I didn’t see it coming. I just stated the intention of my existence. I realize, in this moment, that all the things that make me sad or mad or frustrated or disappointed or pissed off and on the brink of cuss words begin with not witnessing myself or others living from the truth of who we are. The opposite is also true – all that makes me feel happy and joyful and loving and amused and peaceful comes from witnessing myself or others living from the truth of who we are. Funny – I didn’t know when I named my blog that I was also naming my life’s intention. I suppose my goal of starting a blog fits with my Intention.

As for my little angel – our talk was just what we both needed. He walked back to his classroom with a lighter step and a promise to me to tell people and show people who he is on the inside so that they would know. And if they knew, then there could be no other way to feel about him than to love him. Same applies to the rest of us. Sometimes, the truth of who we are is harder for others to see because we’ve gotten so good at masking it. The truth of who we are is our Divine Self and all anyone could ever feel when they come in contact with our Divine Selves is love.

Truthfully yours,

Rhina

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My Life in Music

It’s real. It’s beautiful. It’s hard. It’s amazing. It’s confusing. It’s joyful. It’s painful. It’s hilarious. It’s disappointing. It’s unexpected. It’s love. This is my real life so far. Yes, I’m pretty grown up and I don’t mind one little bit. In fact, I celebrate it proudly and with gratitude today for all that I have had the opportunity to do, to see, to enjoy, to experience, to learn, to taste, to love. It’s a full and beautiful life and even more so now that I am getting better at saying “Thank You” to the Universe for all of it – the good, the bad, and the blah.

Today, I revel in gratitude.

Here’s my life in music. Enjoy!

 

  

Louis-Armstrong-–-What-a-Wonderful-World-1966-FLAC
 

 

Truthfully yours,

Rhina

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Life is a Potluck Banquet

There’s no denying that I love to eat and there’s no denying that I love being with people I love. So to gather with people I love around a table of food is something that bring me joy. Potlucks are my favorite because you get to taste a variety of different flavors. I’d be a happy woman if all my meals were sample sizes of things I love to eat. That’s how I imagine most of heaven to be, except there would be no high fructose corn syrup, nitrates/nitrites, GMOs, antibiotics, pesticides and definitely NO CALORIES in any of the food.

Because of my appreciation for lots of flavors, I have the hardest time deciding on one menu item when eating at a restaurant. I read over descriptions of EVERY item and then, painstakingly, choose one item to order and keep my menu open until the server arrives to take the dreaded order. Then I attempt to get everyone else to order before me so I know what’s coming to the table. Then, finally, I state what I decided on and look again at the menu and CHOOSE SOMETHING ELSE. It is so very hard for me to commit to one food item to eat!

This is NOT one of my husband’s favorite things about me because, inevitably, when the food comes out, I want to taste what he ordered. He is not a sharer. He hates people eating off his plate. He hates eating off other people’s plates. This “problem” he has used to hurt my feelings early in our relationship but we have progressed to a great place in our relationship where he now offers me a bite of everything he orders before he digs in. He tries to act like he’s doing it grudgingly and I try to act nonchalant as I thank him and accept his offer. It’s one way we’ll grow old together.

I don’t know a whole lot about the science behind my enjoyment of tasting a variety of flavors, but this video, called The Sound of Taste captures it well. This is what it sounds like when I taste different flavors. It’s like a party in my mouth. Like fireworks on the Fourth of July in the U.S.A.

The video is right on point except it makes my heart weep just a little at how many delicious spices were wasted in the production of the video.

What I also like about potlucks is that I get to share something I, myself, prepared with love for somebody else. It gives me pleasure to put my all into a dish or a meal and have the people who eat it truly ENJOY the experience. As in they get JOY out of eating the food. This is a truth of who I am. I love to eat food, cook food, share food, talk about food, plan food, etc. I’m still hoping I will one day develop the same kind of passion for exercise to balance it all out. I love to cook for people. It’s one way I show love. It’s such an intimate thing to think of food that I prepare nourishing someone else’s body. It’s sacred, really. This is why every Hindu temple in India feeds every single person who enters the temple to worship on certain days of the week. The Bhagavad Gita teaches that “Sharing food is the highest form of Karma” because sharing food is a way to affirm that we are tied to each others destiny. Turns out I may still be connected to the truth of who I am from my roots in Hinduism.

A couple of weeks ago, David Ault, a man who often rocks my spiritual world, described life as a potluck banquet. I loved the analogy! It was right up my alley and it worked so much better than any sports analogy people have tried on me.

Life is a potluck banquet. Everyone is invited to sit at the table and everyone has the opportunity to bring something to the table to share and everyone gets to eat at the table. Because we are born, we are invited to life’s banquet. We can consume what we choose and we can share what we choose to share. And we can share it freely and abundantly or grudgingly and stingily.We can choose to participate as fully or as half-heartedly as we desire. We can choose the crumbs or we can take what we desire from deep within us.

This analogy brings me to a hard truth about myself. See, I’m rarely the one to pick up something quick on the way to a potluck unless life constraints require me to do so. Contributing chips and store-bought dip or, heaven forbid, 2 liter sodas to a potluck are missed opportunities for me. A failure even. This is not any kind of judgement on those who bring such items, it’s simply how I judge myself because of that whole joy of preparing food for others that I get. It’s my THING. It’s my gift to be able to prepare delicious food for others. I bring my best to potluck dinners every chance I get.

So when I first heard David Ault’s talk, I immediately assumed that what I did at real-life banquets translated to what I did at life’s banquet. I smugly drafted something in my head about how what I bring to real life potlucks was an indication of what I bring t0 life’s potluck banquet. It felt good to think that I was THAT person who had it right and brought my best for all to share. Oh, it felt so good. But it also felt like I couldn’t really write with joy. Well, thankfully, and maybe by Divine intervention, I rarely get to write and publish my posts immediately. I mulled over how to finish, to find joy in the writing, to share the truth. And then the truth started to sink in slowly until a light bulb went off and I was humbled to realize that I DON’T always bring my best to the table of life. Heck, I don’t even consume the best at the table. I do often settle for crumbs and I do often bring the bag of chips and hope somebody else brought some dip to go with it. I miss opportunities often. Sometimes, I sit at life’s potluck banquet in all its abundance and choose not to participate. And here’s a question that stopped me in my tracks at just the right time:

“What if the ques­tion is not why I am so infre­quently the per­son I really want to be, but why do I so infre­quently want to be the per­son I really am?”

~ Oriah Moun­tain Dreamer

It seems I have some more digging to do to get to the truth of who I am. I don’t know what stops me from participating wholeheartedly in life in exactly the way I really want to. I don’t know why I don’t always bring my best and take the best knowing that the table is full and there is enough for everyone. Why do I sometimes find myself checking people’s plates and wishing I could have what they have. I’ll admit that Facebook has supercharged that occurrence. I CAN have the same or at least exactly what I need.

And now vulnerability is creeping in and while I feel brave (thanks, Brené Brown) about it all, I also feel like wrapping up this post and settling for a declaration of what I want because…

So instead of a show-offy, look-at-what-a-fine-example-I-am post, I am writing about my truth which is a sincere desire to be more mindful and committed to bringing my best to life’s potluck. I want to be the same way about life and what I bring to the table of life. If life is a potluck banquet, I want to make sure I bring the very best to share AND I want to taste a little bit of everything and a lot of what I love. I definitely want to show up at the banquet and sit at the table and connect with the people around me. And if we ever have the Divine opportunity to sit next to each other at life’s potluck banquet, feel free to hold me to my commitment.

Getting hungry now….

Truthfully yours,

Rhina

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