Monday, February 27, 2012

Hands in the Earth, hands held together

Its been a year since my church proposed developing a community garden. There were a lot of set backs, mostly financial. Just leveling the ground, removing what was there seemed a huge undertaking. Our vision began as a way to support our own congregation and the local community but this did not really feel the sustainable way to go. Also it felt very limited versus the amount of impact we really could do with this project. What really turned this around was when we started collaborating with Jewish organizations in the community and with Netiya, a social justice project sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles which tries to address hunger and help those that are food insecure. It was extremely powerful to work side by side each other with the same intention. The sun beat down, I was sweaty, dirty, and the happiest I could be! There is such power that cultivates when people are all passionate about the same thing and put the effort in. We spoke words of intention and had a little closing ceremony where we held our dirty hands into the circle, sharing our effort of the day. We also shared our feelings about the day. I am so excited to be part of this project. I feel like we are growing so much more than a garden. We are developing interfaith connections, connection with the community, and so much more. What is really amazing is that we will be dedicating 90% of the food we grow to local food banks and to those that are food insecure. This is social justice in action and I am so glad to be a part of it. Lets regain the land!

Please go to their site for more information about their mission and what they do!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Screw Hallmark!

My life is not measured by days on a calendar and does not wait to finally come alive once the week is through. If we live a hallmark life we will believe that our lives jump from one holiday to the next. That we need to always be celebrating something, and feeling poorly if we are not. Life has more meaning than this! My life is not measured by the movies I have recently seen or the books I have read. Not to sound like I am developing a conspiracy but there are a lot of agencies out there that benefit from us being plugged in and tuned out. I think of Wall-e, and the humans that were fat, rolling around in their chairs completely clueless about their plight. Sometimes it might not feel good to be "awake." I definitely have the urge to just find a way to shut off. There are so many ways to distract ourselves but life is happening all around us. Life is now and is one endless beautiful day. In this one day you can fall in and out of love, create or invent something that will change the world, or touch someone's life forever. I will not belittle the gift of life that I have been given by giving it an expiration date. Once we know that there is no end we will slow down from our maddening speed. We will get off the ride we have been on and hopefully will really see one another for the first time. Hello and welcome to your life, it has been waiting.

Monday, September 5, 2011


I just got home from a wonderful long labor day weekend in the woods in the San Bernardino mountains in California. What was so special about this trip was not just the fresh air, the gorgeous trees reaching the clear sky, the star filled sky at night, or even the great food. This was a camp specially for Unitarian Universalist youth from ages 18 to 35. Although we have a really good group of people my age at my church in Studio City it was wonderful to be around over a 100 UU's in one place. Over a hundred people that are open, loving, and caring people who have similar values as me. In just the four days I was there we formed a living community. I met incredible people who I was able to talk openly with and share my stories.

One of the most incredible moments of the weekend was the workshop I went to. It spanned Saturday and Sunday and was called "Shift Happens" which was a curriculum written by David one of the ministers in Southern California. I will try to do it justice but participating experientially was so powerful that it might be difficult. The concept is that everyone has paradigms or "lenses" that have been developed from the experiences we have had and the knowledge we are introduced to along the way. Such experiences that can influence how are paradigms are developed can include things such as poverty, divorce, religion, education, or religion. We did what is called a "diversity shuffle." This means we walked over to the group which represented a certain group such as growing up in a rural area. We discussed how it felt to be in the majority or minority group. For example I felt some shame and guilt when I walked over to the group representing that my parents did not graduate from college. I was probably one of three out of a big group where this was the case. I am proud of my parents and I felt extreme guilt that I would feel shame about their education level. I feel that this could be some sort of projection as I had so many things counting against me about getting a higher education. It was also very difficult to be the minority and feel that there might be some judgment. This workshop however helped me to see that if we are truly open to each other stories and where we come from there would be no judgment. If I feel I am being judged in the future it helps to understand that this is a lack of knowledge about my story and where I am coming from. Similarly instead of being frustrated or angry about someone's beliefs I can try to transform that into curiosity about their story.

The second part of this workshop was telling our story about a shift in our lives which changed the way we saw things. This was extremely emotional for me as I shared my story of adoption and my journey into removing the fear of abandonment. Although it might be unfair to say that I have removed the fear. It is definitely under the surface and can be triggered but I have found ways to keep it more in my conscious mind and not allow it to affect my emotions or actions. Basically just living with gratitude and trying to live in the current moment. We were all given five minutes to share our story. I probably got through 10 words before I started crying. I got through it because I was determined to complete my story but damn it was hard. It was really amazing to feel heard and held by the group. They sat and listened without comment and I felt very accepted. After wards we shared how we felt about the process. I shared that I was still surprised after all this time that the wound is still there and that there is still so emotion behind it. I got a huge hug from someone from my group after wards which was so nice. It was one of those wonderful experiences that changes your perspective and I am so grateful for it.

The rest of the weekend was so incredible. One of my favorite moments was getting up early and doing yoga and Tai chi. There was this great guy Dane who is an energy practitioner, body worker, and also teaches Tai Chi. I impulsively asked him to teach me some Tai Chi which resulted in getting a wonderful lesson two days in a row! It was such a gift. Dane stated 10 minutes of Tai Chi a day is better than than 10 minutes of sleep and is really all you need each day to balance your body and energy. The community meals, dance, swimming,talent show, hikes, games, songs, and worship all added up to an amazing time! I hope to maintain some inspiration and creativity that I feel I have gained this weekend. One of the readings that stayed with me was letting your passion burn inside and then burn so bright that it consumes you and you are on fire with it. I hope to continue to burn brightly.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Living with out intentions

With life being at such a neck breaking pace it is easy to go on auto pilot. It's easy to overlook what seems to be mundane questions such as what is in the food we buy, the products that we use? Where do they come from? What do the companies which we support believe in? Do they support the local community? Do they do animal testing? Do they support and promote fair labor laws. Every time that I buy something I am voting. By buying food locally I am voting for more local products. It is amazing how powerful we truly are! I was happy to see that the local organic fruit is no longer contained by a small little corner of the grocery store but is spread out further out in the produce aisle. I find it really difficult to make conscious choices about everything I buy. I don't do research every product but I try to look at what I am buying and try to make the best choice which will have the least impact on the earth. One issue that really means a lot to me right now is boycotting products that still do animal testing. Its really horrific that this is still happening. Should animals suffer needlessly so you can have that new mascara that is extra plumping? How toxic are the products that you are putting on or in your body if they have to go through such rigorous testing? Its basically a two fold solution. Less toxic products for me and supporting cruelty free products. So I am going to make a pledge to start buying only products which do not do animal testing. I am going through all my products now and am going to try to find alternatives. So far I found that St. Ives creates body wash which states is mostly all natural products and does not do animal testing. They also have a facial wash. I have been using dove and garnier products which sadly both still test on animals. I am planning to write letters to both companies and let them know that until they switch to not testing on animals that I will stop using their products. I know alone its hard to see that we can change a corporate business' way of thinking but multiply that and we can change the way things are done.

Take the pledge!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Election Tuesday

Sometimes I feel like the Democratic and Republican party are like angry parents arguing and the American people are the children worried that they did something wrong, kept in a constant heightened level of fear by all the fighting, while they say that they are trying to do the best by us. The system has seemed to swallow up even the best of intentions. Sure perhaps at one point Democrats and the Republicans saw more eye to eye but resentment has grown so much between parties that no matter the amount of couples counseling, we are heading into a divorce if they are not all ready separated.

Nothing seems possible in a country or "family" that is so divided. I know a lot of people are jaded right now and I can't blame them. It is difficult to remain optimistic when neither party is willing to go that extra centimeter, forget the mile.

On the other side perhaps our "parents" wouldn't be arguing so much if the American people could be more unified with what we want and really put in the work of getting it. Now the American people are for the most part very hard working people, that is not what I am saying but we forget how much power we have as consumers, voters, etc. We spend so much time thinking that we are powerless but the country doesn't run on some selected officials, it doesn't run on dunkins, it runs on us!

If we decide to wake up, if we decide to stop making decisions based in fear and think pragmatically about the overall good for this country as a whole and the people that are in it (including same sex couples, immigrants, etc) than we can truly become a strong nation again. If we allow all these things to divide us further versus uniting us than we will be lost as a country and people.

So if you are planning to vote tomorrow, I hope that you keep in mind that we are all in this together. This isn't a big king of the hill game although sometimes it sure feels like it. I remember in that game, the king doesn't stay kill of the hill for very long.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I am feeling like I am coming out of a spiritual/emotional hibernation right now and am wanting to be active. I am very excited that I am part of a lot of projects and activities at the church including the Community Garden and the task team for the Green Action Group (GAG)I laugh at the acronym. Also still on the Social Action Committee. I love that the church is so supportive and a wonderful place to really act out my intentions and passions. Although excited, it is also daunting when you commit to a lot of groups. I guess it is nerve wracking to depend on one another especially in a group setting. We had our first Green Action Group meetings and it seemed to be a good preliminary meeting. I am actually part of the core group which will be seeing through the church becoming a green sanctuary. It is also very exciting. There are some strong minds in the group and sometimes I have difficulty getting forth what I think or feel if I am being over powered. It is good for me however and part of my continued growth. Along with being involved in these groups I am also looking forward to being more physically active, do more artistic activities, and spend good time with friends.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Flying with some difficulty!

So yesterday I went to an Aerial Fitness class at the Cirque School in Hollywood, CA. Recently I feel like I need to get back in balance with my mind/heart/body. I have a bad habit of getting too cerebral and losing track of keeping my body healthy and happy. I think this is a bad habit of a lot of people. We always have things to occupy our mind and keep our attention. Of course media encourages us to stay sexy/healthy and exercise about 30 a minutes a day but messages put out there seem unachievable and does not take in account how busy we all get. Anyway I had a great time and it was nice to get myself out of my comfort zone. My friend Jace and I both had butterflies in our stomachs before we went. Its a beautiful space surprisingly as it is right on Hollywood Blvd. It is set back in an alley and is a nice open gymnasium with trapezes and silk hanging from the ceiling. Immediately I caught the playful energy that was all around. We sat on couches and filled out our forms saying we wouldn't sue if we broke our necks and played with the dogs that were lounging around. While waiting we got to watch some of the workouts going on and people doing tricks. It was pretty impressive. Secretly I always wanted to do the silk that I saw at the circus. It just looks so beautiful, and I love things that are seamless like that.

Our workout was extreme to say the least. It opened with some pilates with a ball and it was a fun playful warm up which was pretty challenging. We broke into pairs and Jace and I started at the first station....a rope! Its funny because we had joked about the rope in gym class and the fact that we both do not have much arm strength. With yoga they have gotten better but I still felt intimidated. Well luckily we didn't have to climb it. We did have to lay on our backs and then hand over hand slowly bring ourselves up to standing and then back down again. Damn was this hard. The rest of the workout was equally hard and focused on a lot of core and arm strengthening. We hung from the trapeze and then had to bring ourselves up and then back down again. What a core workout, while you are scared that you are going to fall and break your neck. After the second one I was nervous as I felt like I was getting weaker but was able to finish three. We went on the silk and I did a summersault on it. What was nice was time was up and I was mentally blocked on doing. It is a little daunting but she was determined to have me do it and I was glad. The problem was we had given our all and were so exhausted but then realized we had to go around to the stations all over again!! This time they even choose more difficult exercises to do around the station. I had to sit out once as I was feeling really dizzy and overheated. Even though my pride was telling me finish it I listened to my body and only sat out one station and was back again. This time as we went through the stations I was able to do another trick on the silk. This time I was able to let go and hang without my hands! It did hurt/pinch a bit but was very excited.

I feel that it is very healthy to do things that challenge you and put a little fear into you. It helps to keep you determined and up for anything! I am hoping to pay for a series and get better and better at this.