The Great Classroom Of Relationship; and Learning To Communicate In It

Relationship is not without complication, challenge, and difficulty, even in the most well attended to and mindful of our interactions. Being in relationship requires communicating, which can lead to misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and sometimes even the end of a relationship all together. As humans we communicate in more ways than just with our words, we use our bodies, our actions, our non-actions, the reputations of our past actions, the way we dress, the work we do, these things and more relate who we are to the world as well as what we intend to do while living, and where we place the value and meaning in our lives. Relationship is the place where who we perceive ourselves to be interacts with the world around us. We have relationship with people, animals, insects, and with inanimate objects like our favorite pair of shoes or our beds. Relationship is taking place when we touch a stone, enjoy the freshness of the air when it rains, and pump gas into our cars. The varying layers of relationship all share the commonality of the way each of us singularly participates in the animate world we live in.

Our participation stems from our perception of who we believe we are and what we believe we are doing here in this world we live in. The beliefs of our experience formulate over the course of our lifetime and the varying relationships we have during it. Beliefs are created in the simplest observations of the people around us as children and the relationship those adults have to their perceived concept of the world, to the complicated study and discernment of heavy and weighted discussions on the cosmology of life and the universe, the presence of a power greater than one’s own, and the unlimited nature of energy in its limited forms of existence in the manifest world.

In Sanskrit there is the word Shraddha which does not translate directly into English. This word roughly refers to the actions we take that are founded in sincerity and faith; the ways in which we relate to the world based on the beliefs we have about the world that rarely, if ever come into question. The practice of yoga asks the student to question their Shraddha, as does life and being in relationship, which all of us are until we lock ourselves into a cave not to be bothered.

Though I give my best effort to being a human of integrity who gives thought to a deed before action, and mindfulness to intention before participation, I have traversed the rough seas of conflict in relationship more times than I can count. It is not uncommon for my sister and I to come into misunderstandings as we rub up against the boundaries of our own beliefs of who we think the other should be and how we perceive ourselves to be in relationship to the other. Currently I am in a dispute with my brother that has us in a stalemate of no communication because the communication we were working with was unsuccessfully efficient enough to clear the misunderstanding and hurt between us. I have no shame in sharing my digressions as well as the truth that I have been known to be aggressive in my desire to be right in these personal conflicts as well as being the stubborn headed contrarian, sometimes even self righteous brat, who generated the misunderstandings to begin with. These truths about my behavior I have learned while in relationship with all of my closest people from my parents to my husband, sister, brother, business partner, and dearest friends who, having been on the receiving end of my sharp and angry tongue, have cumulatively reflected this more clear picture back to me.

Diving ever more deeply into the teachings of yoga and the desire to be a person who lives a life of peace and harmony in all of my relationships, I am required to be honest with myself about who I am, the role I play in these conflicts, (my Shraddha) the beliefs I have that allow the conflicts to persist, what I can surrender to bring more harmony into the relationship experiencing conflict, and most importantly how to do it all with love. In theory this all makes great sense and seems very straight forward however in practice, when the need arises for this quality of beingness, the circumstances surrounding the need are generally immersed in emotions that create heat as they are passionately tied to perceived beliefs of myself upon which my whole world rotates. Learning to communicate in the midst of my passionate emotions without unleashing the sharpness of my tongue which is only a defense mechanism of my ego afraid to let go of a belief that has allowed it to hold up its wall of an illusion of separateness, is one of the most challenging things I have done in this life to date. It truly does not come with ease for me. For this reason, I am impressed and enthralled when I have the opportunity to witness others communicate their perceptions of the circumstances of relationship that did not leave them feeling safe, honored, or respected without becoming defensive, angry, hurtful, and cold.

This week I had the great good fortune to be on the receiving end of a person I am in relationship with clearing the air of their perceived experience of a less than enjoyable experience with me in a way that was beautifully straight forward, without baggage, respectful, honest, clear, and then done. It was a wonderful example of the use of the four pillars of communication which I attempt to skillfully use myself when I need to communicate my perceived experience in relationship with someone who I feel has not treated me in a way that is safe, respectful, or honoring of my beingness.

The four pillars of communication are:
1. Is it true?
2. Is it necessary?
3. Is it timely?
4. Is it kind?

When using language as the means of communication to smooth out any roughness in relationship with other humans that are important to you, it is proposed that you ask yourself these four questions before initiating the conversation. If the subject matter that you wish to speak on is true to you, and it is necessary to speak about to create more harmony in a relationship, and you time the conversation in a way that the receiving participant will not feel ambushed and will be able to listen and hear you, and you then approach your truth with kindness, there is a higher likelihood that the air will be cleared, harmony will return to the relationship, and both parties will feel better for having participated in relationship with such excellent skillfulness in communication.

There are of course exceptions to this wonderful way of resolving conflict. Sometimes the other party is not ready to transition into a resolution of conflict, other times the conflict itself is rooted in deep betrayal that first must be forgiven by the offended party or the words received are merely hollow and carry no weight. In these cases, should the offended party in the relationship find the spaciousness to forgive the trespass and move into a shared space of conflict resolution, then not only are the words that are communicated by the offender attempting to relay a resolution to make room for a new state of being having a great need for honesty, the offended party will generally also look to other means of communication like the offenders current and past actions as well as their body language to validate the truthfulness of what is being offered. At times the digressions between people in relationship can be so painful to one, or the other, or both, that the relationship may perhaps never go back to the freely trusting state it was once in, however with willingness on both sides in congruence with focused attention to personal behaviors and beliefs, the relationship has the potential to evolve into one of even better boundaries, more respect, more love, and true harmony, more so than even seemed possible before.

On either side of a conversation seeking conflict resolution is an individual with their own perceived concept of the conflict and their own ideas of which direction they wish to see the relationship go. In the best of cases, like the incident in which I was confronted last week, the offender, this time being me, listens and responds with honesty and a offering to remedy the relationship, often an apology is the perfect ingredient. Other times the receiving party wishes only to be left alone, in which case patience, and the continuing pursuit of impeccable behavior in all other relationships may be the only remedy available in that moment. In any case, returning to the offering of love for self and the person(s) on the other side of the line of conflict generally generates the best feelings overall.

Having the courage to clear the air of a conflicted relationship in a quality manner can be very hard to do, even though, as it is with most things of value in this life, it is the hard jobs and the challenges that require the most of us that are most satisfying. In the face of adversity and conflict in our relationships with others, and most importantly in relationship with ourselves, may we utilize the tools that were given to us and continue to dare to be brave enough with our communication skills to try to smooth out the rough edges, willing enough with our spacious hearts to surrender the strong hold of our egos, and open enough in our incredible minds to expand into new boundaries of being, which may be better than anything we could have ever imagined.

Being in relationship with this animate and inanimate world is a wild ride, up, down, and every which way between. It is my wish to teach by example, to rise to the occasion and the invitation offered by the classroom of life with patience and loving kindness for myself and others, as I work my way toward owning the title of human being.

I’ll continue to do my best.

In deep gratitude to those who have been patient, forgiving, loving, and beautiful teachers while in relationship with me.

With love, always, in all ways, for giving, in joy,
Genevieve

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The Unlikely Gurus

When I was twenty I got my first dog, a beautiful blue-eyed Huskie mix. As a naïve twenty year old I presumed it would be easy to “own” a dog and that I would have excellent dog “ownership” skills. Reflecting back on my perspective at that time in my life and my perception of “ownership” says much to me about the resulting relationship I had with Otis. It was a young and naïve relationship that lacked the integrity of steadiness, regular quality time spent together, the presence of patience, and most of all trust. The relationship of “ownership” ended in abandonment when a few short months into our journey together I decided to leave the country for half a year. Lucky for him and despite my poor parenting skills Otis was harbored for a few years in the loving home of my father, from where he went to live with and is deeply loved by my brother Josh. From time to time I have the pleasure of hanging out with him and going for walks. I am honored in his company by his forgiveness, which he offers with no restraint and his unconditional love, which is clearly present despite my truest betrayal and trespass against him. From Otis I have learned a form of forgiveness and freedom that is spacious and bright like the blue of his soulful eyes.

In my mid twenties I thought perhaps I was ready to try again. My husband and I discussed getting a dog, we agreed that I was not a fit dog owner based on my passed experience however, he had had many growing up and was willing to be a teacher to me on the journey. The conversation was just that, a conversation, which never went past willingness to actually bringing a dog home. That was until a hot July afternoon when I received a phone call from my mother who had heard us discussing getting a dog, telling me her friend had found a puppy and I should come and check it out.

The puppy had been found in Ranchos very dehydrated, emaciated, and nearly dead. I took her out of her box and put her in my lap and I couldn’t understand how this sweet little puppy, that couldn’t walk, with a big injury on its head, could have ever wound up in her position. I looked into her big black eyes and I fell deeply in love.

“I’ll take her.” I told my mom’s friend. However, she wasn’t ready to go anywhere other than to the vet, where she went for the next three days.

That night when my husband got home, I told him about our new puppy that my mom’s friend found, that was nearly dead and was at the vet and would soon be coming home to us. Despite our previous conversations, my husband was not eager about adding this particular dog, whom he feared may have brain damage to our family. I remember being very upset with him for not having compassion at that moment, yet as I look back on his position I understand his perspective. A brain damaged dog is a hard companion to live with.

“And are we paying for the vet too?” He asked me, disappointed and dismayed.

“Yes.” I said. “And we are going to take her in and bring her back to life, if she will make it.”

“Well,” he told me “if she turns out to be brain damaged I reserve the right to take her to the pound.”

Reluctantly, I acquiesced to his ultimatum.

Not only did we manage to bring that sick and dying puppy back to life, we found a way to include her in our lives with steadiness, quality time, and patience. It took me years to learn to communicate well with her, and to be able to understand when she was letting me know what she needed and wanted. It took even more time for me to learn to trust her and allow her to be the dog that she is rather than the dog I think she should be. Now, six years later the three of us are still in relationship, daily continuing to learn, grow, and mostly trust.

These days I call her His dog, as they just love each other so much and have so much fun. Every day when he leaves the house and can’t take her with him, she whines pathetically at the door. I on the other hand never get that kind of attention from her when I leave the house as she happily continues to lay in our bed not blinking an eye at the thought of me leaving, which I think means I’m just not as much fun. However, it is me she gravitates toward to have her most important needs met, like food, and care when she does not feel well. I like to think that’s because she remembers that day when she was nearly dead like I do, and how deeply I wanted to see her survive. As for me, I continue to delight in the newness of our relationship every day. Daily she invites me to play more, take more time to just enjoy the delight of the moment, relish the sweetness of love first thing and not forget to relish it again at the end of the day. Most importantly she continues to teach me to trust without hesitation. Experiencing witnessing her ability to ask for what she needs and wants, and trust that she will receive what she needs and wants, has taught me how to trust in spirit with more willingness and conviction in all that I need and desire. The way I understand the lesson is that you or I, like my dear sweet Onyx, only have to ask, and then allow ourselves to know and trust that spirit will provide.

Like the wonderful song in Pinocchio, “Anything your heart desires, will come to you.”

Yesterday was the first full moon after the Summer Solstice and marked the celebration of Guru Purnima, a Hindu festival honoring ones greatest, most noble and valued teachers. The word Guru is a derivative of two words, Gu and Ru and has similar etymological roots to the Latin word Gravitas. Gu denotes darkness or ignorance while Ru signifies the bringing of the light, the remover of the darkness, the moving of ignorance into knowing. The Guru therefore, is that which brings us from the weight or the gravity of our ignorance into the lightness of our being and the expansiveness of our knowing, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually as well. A Guru can be a person who’s company we enjoy with ease and whose teachings we willingly sit with to learn, as well as a person whom it is not easy to be with and through the friction or the gravitas of our relationship we come to know our own spaciousness more deeply. Gurus are not only people as nature too can be a teacher, as can art and music, as can our dreams or our pets.

Contemplating, honoring, and celebrating the many Gurus of my life yesterday filled my heart. As my husband and I returned home from dinner under the bright shining light of the full super moon I offered extra thanks for a most unlikely Guru in my life, the little black one who ran to the door with eyes full of deep and spacious love, so happy we had come home again to her. I now know I don’t “own” her at all.

With humble gratitude to all of my teachers, the furry four legged kind, the ones I choose, and the ones who propelled me through the cheese grater of life into the wide open planes of unconditional love, I bow and I welcome the next.

With Love, All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,
Genevieve

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What I learned In Preschool, an Ode to Leaping Lizards

In the end of May 1999 I graduated from High School with intentions to set out and conquer the world. It was a typical adolescent understanding of the world as conquerable, coupled with an ignorant belief that the world would arrange itself to fit into me. Despite my delusions of grandeur I enrolled in University in Southern New Mexico where I lasted one semester before deciding Las Cruces, higher education, spending my days in classrooms that hummed under the heat of florescent lights, and the concept of academia, just wasn’t for me. Again, my adolescent hubris in alignment with my ignorance was calling the shots.

As I perceive that choice now, I can say it was a thoughtless step that took me from my dorm room back into my mother’s home where I found myself suffering from the only bout of insomnia I have ever had in my life. To fight off the insomnia I read voraciously, filling the sleepless nights with books, most memorably, the Dalai Lama’s Ethics For The New Millennium. I knew at the time, as I read Ethics For The New Millennium, it would be pivotal to the rest of my life. I also knew my life was definitely changing, I wasn’t sure how, but I was sure I would never be the same.

Weeks went by and I spun my wheels wondering how I was now going to conquer the world. News traveled to my best friends mom who owned a Preschool that I was back in town. She called me and told me that she needed a substitute teacher and I should come to the school and give it a shot. I remember being resistant, telling her I didn’t like kids and I wasn’t sure if I was the right person. Lucky for me Jill would not take no for an answer. She rejected my resistance with an intelligent and insightful response. “It’s not that you don’t like kids,” she said, “It’s just that you haven’t spent any time with them and you’re afraid of them. You can stop being afraid and get to know some. Besides, you might actually like it.” By this time Jill had been in the business of kids for more years than I had been alive and she knew what she was talking about. In the end I had nothing better to do and I knew that spinning my wheels wasn’t getting me anywhere, least of all, on top of the world.

Once I got over the initial fear, I found myself, as Jill said I would, really enjoying the company of children. In alignment with the teachings and wisdom I had gathered in the Dalai Lama’s Ethics For The New Millennium, it was obvious that these children understood all anyone really wanted was to be happy. From the onset I could see that the children had excellent parameters for what was fair in the context of relationship in the relationships they were having with each other. The question of were they allowed to be happy while others were seeking their own happiness seemed to be the biggest problem to solve, aside from the usual Preschool dilemmas of nap time, wet pants, and sitting in a chair while eating lunch. It became apparent to me that I had traded in higher education for what in my perspective, became an even higher education, an education in being nice, or in yogic terms, being mindful and acting from a place of nonviolence.

This May, many of those fabulous little teachers of mine graduated from High School, and Jill closed the doors to Leaping Lizards after 35 years of educating children big and small. It blows my mind to think how much time has passed and now those children are the age I was when I was so curiously learning from them. Over the last fifteen years I have continued to study the value of mindfulness in relationship, with self as well as the world around me. I hold to the knowing that being kind and treating others and ourselves well while not squashing anyone’s happiness is the most important thing any of us can do, no matter the size and age of our bodies. As the years have rolled on I have gained new tools that enable me to be present with my skillfulness in thoughts and actions of kindness, balance, and the obfuscated qualities of fairness. The practice of yoga adds tools to the toolbox as well as enhances the quality and respond-ability of these skills daily. I still like to play with toys, swing, slide, and play hide and seek. Story time is my favorite time of day and recently I am convinced everything anyone ever really needs to know can be learned from Peter Pan, hang onto your shadow and think happy thoughts.

Teaching at Leaping Lizards as well as reading Ethics For The New Millennium definitely changed the way I perceive the world around me, especially the way I perceive the people living in it, and my life has been better for the choice of dropping out of college every day since. Though Preschool may be many decades behind me, I continue daily to open the notebook to my deeper and higher learning through wonderful childlike play, and I continue to refine the greatest lesson I learned there, being kind. Through play I am often surprised and delighted to find myself enjoying the pleasure of killing dragons with my kindness and sometimes even turning them into my best friends. Rolling around on the floor in Cobra and other animal poses opens my heart and enables me to charm the venomous snakes and dangerous beasts within. Sinking into the seat of my inner warrior and exhaling helps me to steadfastly be more determined to breathe kindness, love, and humility into all of my actions through the shining and strong armor of my happy heart.

The thing about being kind and loving is that it is always rewarding. Being kind sometimes takes a little courage like going to the first day of school or making friends with someone new in the playground, and being kind especially takes courage in the face of adversity and fear. However, like Jill so elegantly said to me, “you might actually like it.” I believe being kind always beats the alternative.

If I could pass on any words of wisdom to those children now they would be to not loose your playful spirit, remember hitting hurts, it’s good to take naps, and hugs always feel good. Higher education is always important and being open to learning can be more valuable than the environment you learn in. You are still young and it is always valuable to make well informed decisions, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I happily graduated from Preschool in May of 2001 at the ripe old age of twenty, knowing then that my desires to conquer the world were never really going to fulfill me. Rather, than and now, I graduated to just wanting to love the world, all of it, like a soft kitty cat, a great story, my dearest invisible childhood friend, or a day of absolute play.

My deepest gratitude continues to go to Jill Sanger for the giving me the opportunity to assimilate the teachings of the Dalai Lama in the classrooms of Leaping Lizards, incorporating the values of mindfulness, kindness, fairness, creative problem solving, and the positive vibrant love of play. It was my first peek into a life of an unconditioned heart.

With Love All Ways For Giving,
Genevieve

I, YOU, WE

More often than not when seeing ourselves in the world and forming our individual identities we overlook that which connects us and see only that which separates us. Perceiving our lives apart from the world in which we live, rather than as a-part of the whole connected to the people, animals, and other living things that share this world with us is perhaps rooted in our intrinsic desire to be unique, or to represent the personal and authentic expression of the divine which we are in a world where so much is similar. When looking at our lives and the world from this perspective, that which separates us, it becomes clear that there are many aspects to living that are authentic to each and every person. We each have our own unique stories of life, the ways we experience love and the stamps of trauma that have imprinted in our memories specific warnings of safety and danger. Along side the stories of our personal emotional experiences are the triumphs of success and the pitfalls of failures we perceive as part of our self concept, our personal skills and talents, or lack there of. No matter these stories, the truth with which they stand, and the way they have shaped the ever unfolding days of our lives, unique and personal as they are, there is an underlying reality of inalienable truths we all share, without which none of us would be here at all to have any experience of living whatsoever.

Without water and oxygen there would be no life on this planet. All living things on planet earth play a role in the continued cycle of the use and replenishment of both of these life giving resources. Without the sun and it’s ever-giving generosity to which our planets gravitational pull clings, and under which life on this Earth thrives, we would never know the concept of self. Without the incredible power of the creative energetic force that enables plants to grow in the earth, and babies to grow in the bellies of their mammalian mothers, or the eggs of their reptilian progenitors, there would be no experience of what we call separate. Without the nutrients that are given to the earth in the death and decay of plant life, or the digestion in our human bodies of the nutrients we take in as a source of energy, be it from plant or animal based food, there would be no transference that inevitably becomes the creative force of innovation, cooperation, and exploration. Without each other there would be no reflection of what hurts and what feels good, what words mean, where to cultivate our energy to fill a needed gap, where to hold boundaries when energy is excessive and overflowing flooding out the cultivation of new life. Together we make up the world we live in, the reality that holds the space for us to experience the perception of our authentic and unique I as well as what delineates us from other humans who truly are more like us than different. Without this planet, this solar system, this galaxy, this universe, our mothers and fathers, their mothers and fathers, our obnoxious or loved neighbors, our hated or respected foes, there would be no you or me or we at all.

No matter your personal story, it is and will always be true that you, me, and all of life are eternally bound. As you continue to write your story, as I continue to write mine, we write a bigger story together. Every detail, every breath, every drink of water connects us to one another. If and when you feel alone or separate from this world in which you live and the other living beings sharing it with you, take a moment to remember that if nothing else you share water and you share breath with all life, past, present, and future.

With love, all ways, for giving, in joy,
Genevieve

What’s Most Important

This week a friend very close to my heart passed, a person without whom I would not be who I am today. It’s not the first time I have been in the well of loss and grief, as a matter of fact I feel I am becoming quite good at it. Seven years ago in the middle of March a dear friend who I loved very much and his girlfriend were run over by a truck here in Taos, and killed. Loosing Stephan was one of the most challenging experiences of my life, I was new to loss then, new to the waves and phases of grief, and I lacked the tools to respond to my loss in a healthy way. Though I moved through my grief by drowning my sorrow in drugs and alcohol, one thing I did not experience when Stephan passed was regret. I loved Stephan and he knew that because I had told him.
Over the past seven years I have lost six childhood friends, parents of close friends who I considered parents, elders whom I considered grandparents, acquaintances who I considered fundamental parts of my community and the web I called life. To think of it now, I cannot even begin to add the numbers up because so many beloveds of my heart who are now gone flood into my mind. Every seven years all of the cells of ones body change, and over the last seven years I have not only cried many tears in the well of the grief of each of these losses, I have learned how to grieve without numbing myself with alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.
The loss of this week has been the closest to my heart I have yet experienced. Uncle Fred was not my blood relative however, he was my family. He was a life long face of comfort and understanding as well as a true visceral expression of unconditional love in the shape of warm hugs and the sounds of our laughter. Uncle Fred was always a teacher of spirit in my life and in his death he has given me the most amazing opportunity to continue to grow while I sit with my pain in sobriety, this is a first. At the beginning of 2014 I was experiencing an aspect of my own death, the death of my old self, and I choose to walk through my transformation sober so that I could be present with all of the feelings of the many losses of my past that had yet to be integrated into a healthy present relationship between my physical, mental, and emotional body. As the days pass, the loss becomes more real, the shock begins to ware off and the reality of never seeing Fred again begins to set in, and in my sober state I cannot avoid the truth of it. I have been dreaming of Fred nightly and we are having the most wonderful adventures, he continues to teach me in my dreams, “Never be afraid, it is a waste of your time” he told me the other night. This truth was so straight forward it surprised me, as in body he spoke in riddles which was one of my favorite parts of our time spent together.
Over the past seven years I have also been cultivating the most valuable relationship of my life besides the one with myself, my relationship to my now husband Nathan Oswald, who has been with me through this journey of loss, loss, and again loss. Through tears, tears, and again tears. Through the stories of memories of people he knew and people he did not know. He is an incredible man whose character and integrity continue to daily remind me why I love him and have committed to being the best person I can in relationship with him for the rest of my life.
I am an emotional person, perhaps more emotional than most, I cry at commercials. I am deeply connected to feeling my heart and allowing those feelings to have shape and form in my physical experience. Oswald has been a rock for me through the emotional undulations of this past seven years and has always supported me and held me through my grief, I am ever grateful. This morning, as I was deep in sorrow and in his loving arms, one of the biggest feelings of joy I have ever experienced flowed through my body. I became aware of just how fortunate I am. I have a relationship with spirit and my spiritual self, I love myself deeply and accept who I am, I have a relationship with a man whom I love and respect and do my best to treat as well as I know how and get better at it every day and he love’s me back. I have a family who have knowingly or unknowingly taught me to be more courageous with my love, taught me to believe in myself, taught me to stand on my own two feet and not expect others to make me happy. I have this breath, this body, this life, this animate playground of a world to dance in, feel in, create in and continue to explore, unearth, learn and grow in.
Years ago when one of my dear childhood friends Sal died, I was deep in the well of the grief when I realized it did not matter that I was sad, for I was just lucky to have the experience.
Now, as I sit with these memories and this joy in the midst of the grief, I again return to this truth. The pain we feel when someone who we love has died, is a direct reflection of how much we love. Every person we love will die, it may even be yourself before them, so every moment matters. It does not matter how much money you make, how much work you get done, what your status in society is, if you can touch the floor in a forward bend, or even if you can walk for that matter. What is most important is how you spend the moments with the ones you love, how you choose to express your love, how willing you are to surrender you hurts and angers to have relationships that embody love, and if you can do it right now.
One thing we can absolutely count on in this life is that it will end. What you do between your birth and your death is filling time, and is up to you. You can choose at any moment to be more expanded in your mind and let the already unconditional love of your heart flow through you in any moment of this fleeting experience should you choose to. What’s most important is up to you.
The Buddhist Heart Sutra states it simply,
Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhisvaha!
Gone, Gone, gone over, gone fully over.
Awakened! So be it!
Love always, in all ways, for giving,
Genevieve

Unconditioning the heart, begins in the mind.

Surrender.  Let go.  Release.  Easier said than done.

Unless, you are on a long car journey and you really have to go…then when it is time, oh that sensation…it is one of my favorite releases of all. And like a full bladder that must be relieved, all things must be surrendered in time.

In time, this wild ride of a life has absolutely one thing in store for us, that it will end.  In the face of the truth of our someday demise, is another truth; It is probable and practically inevitable that we, each and everyone of us, will have attachments that we will never want to say good-bye too. These attachments may be people, things, money, thoughts and most likely the beliefs that we have built our lives on.  It is in this loving, coveting, knowing, holding onto, that we become limited and bound to the experience of what is, and feel challenged or even afraid to move into that which may become or will be.  I often find myself in a state of wonder as I ponder the fact that nothing remains forever the same, that all things will change, all humans will die, and in the face of this truth I question how it is we as a collective have not found a way to be more at peace in the process of surrender, in the face of loss, in the transitions of change.  Perhaps there is a fear in the collective conscious that if we (the entire human race) found this way, surrendering always with ease, we would become quite bored?  Perhaps we would find that everything from going to sleep, waking up, using the toilet, loosing a job, loosing a finger or even more, a leg, and loosing the ones we love to be all too easy?  I do not know.  What I do know is that energy is eternal, love is existent in everything, and it is a limited belief of the mind that says “just because something is no longer in form it no longer exits”.  I have also come to understand through the passing days of my own life that the facing of that which we do not know, mostly in the question of what lies beyond living, is the foundation upon which most practices of spirituality and religion or non-religion are based.

To know the unconditional boundaries of love, time, energy, and the universe we must first uncondition our minds of the belief that the boundaries exist.  It is the ultimate surrender, the ultimate letting go.

What would happen if we could perceive love in all things without condition?

What would happen if we could perceive the divine in all things without condition?

I propose we would know a state of peace John Lennon invited us to Imagine.  Or even more tangible, we may hug each other more often, and say I love you more often with deep tenderness and conviction, rather than suspicion or fear.

The fundamental tenant of the spiritual practice of yoga is Ahimsa, the practice of Non-Violence, or as I like to see it, the action/s of Loving Kindness. If we wish to truly honor the beauty of Ahimsa, surrendering our preconceived notions of good/bad, right/wrong, this/that, black/white, and letting in the all encompassing power of love without condition, by feeling, or even more profound, thinking with the heart, is where we must begin.  This does not mean that the value of active intelligence has no place in love, rather it means the heart guides the active intelligence to choices of thinking that encompass unconditional love.

One can actively give more power to the practice of loving unconditionally and letting go of belief structures that do not serve, with a practice with mantra and meditation.  I find in my own practice the following mantra to be a powerful vehicle into the spaciousness of my heart through the softening of my mind.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

Lokah:  The location of all universes existing at this moment
Samastah: All beings living in this location
Sukhino: In happiness, joy and free from all suffering
Bhav: The divine mood or state of union
Antu: May it be so –

The practice of praying for the liberation from suffering for all things existent at this moment, as well as the prayer for happiness and peace, most importantly, includes yourself, as you are, right now, today, faults or no, good or bad, black or white, animal eating or vegan.  If you truly wish to know peace and unconditional love, you must endeavor to liberate yourself from the binds of suffering chained to the limiting, nonsupporting, hurtful, painful beliefs of your mind.  By offering yourself the same love and compassion you would offer another, you come to know the depth and value of your ability to love without condition and be a conduit of love without condition.

If it is inevitable that we will have attachments throughout the duration of our lives, may we attach ourselves to the ever expanding unconditional love of our hearts and spaciousness of our spirits.  May we be disciplined in our practices of self liberation and walking with honor and integrity in relationship to all life.  May we know when to let go, and surrender like the grace of a lowering tide, an exhale of full breath and a caterpillar going into its cocoon.

It is always truly my wish that all beings may be happy, healthy, free from suffering and know peace.  May we share that love and freedom with courage and joy.  May we all reap the rewards of peace from the surrender of the boundaries of our fearful minds together.

I’m doing my best, and admittedly still learning.  However, in the face of surrendering all that I have known to be true before, and making room for all that exists now, I do feel more peace…most especially when I let the energy move, as I do my bladder empty, when it is full…

With love always, in all ways, for giving,

Genevieve

10 Reasons to Walk Softly

  1. Build a strong foundation. (Ahimsa) Cultivate beginners mind, go somewhere new, study with new teachers and new classmates, practice nonviolence with your self.
  2. Open your heart to our shared potential. (Satya)  The truth is, that truth is always changing. Honor your truth, take time for your self, know what is important to you, serve the highest.
  3. Be generous with your Self and others.  (Asteya) Learn ways to integrate your yoga practice with the world around you. Cultivate more skillfulness and mindfulness in the balanced use and renewal of energy.
  4. Reinforce your Integrity. (Brahmacharya) Nature does not know right or wrong, nature only knows balance and imbalance.  Explore and relish in the nature of all aspects of yourself, and over the course of the retreat, integrate your being into a more cohesive whole.
  5. Giving it all away. (Aparigraha) Cultivate a well of generosity from which your motivations arise.  Allow yourself freedom from an attachment to the results of your work.  Learn to do, and do well, for the joy of doing.
  6. Clear pathways. (Saucha)  Detox physically with Asana, and mentally with meditation, to provide for yourself purity of mind, body and spirit.
  7. Be With What Is.  (Santosa) Relax and de-stress during the day, and enjoy peaceful tranquility and ease at night while sleeping on the sacred grounds of the Mabel Dodge Lujan house, tucked sweetly beneath Taos Mountain.
  8. Know your capacity to be more, do more, get out, collaborate and create!  (Tapas) Deepen your yoga practice, and replace old habits.  Through intentionally placing yourself in the position to learn, you will adopt new ways of being: on the mat, in relationship, and in the world.
  9. Self-study leads to self-love. (Svadyaya)  Return home feeling capable and self empowered to meet life willingly, openly, as yourself, no matter how it appears in front of you.
  10. Freedom from the stress.  (Ishvara Pranidhana) Show up, experience the delight of embodiment, the spaciousness of spirit, the acrobatic skillfulness of the mind…leave renewed, refreshed, and reinforced using a system that has worked for thousands of years.

Join experienced and registered yoga teachers Suki Dalury and Genevieve Oswald for a beautiful journey into the Yamas (precepts for being with community) and the Niyamas (precepts for being with self.  Apply the ancient secrets of yoga and invite the future with internal power and open arms.  Lecture, creative workshoping with visual art and written word combine with the sacred practices of asana, pranayama, and meditation to align with your most alive and vibrant self. Awaken awareness and lay the groundwork for a lifetime of well-being in your body, and in the world.  Yoga Alliance CEU’s available.

Walk Softly: Yoga and Our Future Yoga Retreat at Mabel Dodge Lujan House in Taos New Mexico Nov. 14-19, 2013.  Check out www.shreeyogataos.com for more details, and http://mabeldodgeluhan.com for information regarding the beautiful grounds and accommodations.  The Mabel Dodge Luhan House is one of the most quintessential Taos places. Rooms must be booked on or before October 7, 2013.  Board includes breakfast and lunch. Single and Double room occupancy available.  $1425.00-$1725.00  For those wishing to attend the retreat and not lodge at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, the cost is $800.00.

Please call or email Shree Yoga Taos to register.

shreeyogataos@gmail.com

575-758-8014

 

 

Something Left Wanting

“We cannot simply think of our survival; each new generation is responsible to ensure the survival of the seventh generation. The prophecy given to us, tells us that what we do today will affect the seventh generation and because of this we must bear in mind our responsibility to them today and always.”-indigenous proverb

Last weeks bombing in Boston touched me deeply. I spent the following day crying many tears for those who suffer in such atrocious experiences, as well as those who suffer so deeply they would act with such disregard toward life. The week was spent with many hours of contemplation on the subject and the conclusion I have made is that like so many things, this is a symptom of something bigger, a symptom of a need for something more than the lives young people face today.

My friend Ned teaches at the Vista Grande High School here in Taos. Ned is not only a teacher, he is an excellent writer, he writes poetry and prose, and has been recently posting blogs that relate his experience as a teacher at V.G.H.S. (Check it out at teachpoet.com) They too, have touched me deeply this week. He writes about the problems facing students and teachers today in the United States in the atmosphere of standardized testing, a failing job market, an ecosystem in dismay, ever present violence, the false glamor of gang culture and the cult of celebrity, in a world of ever increasing access to information. He speaks of students who, from various backgrounds are apathetic and obstinate, to say the least. He questions their sense of purpose, and a system that is leaving something wanting.

It spurs me to rethink my own experience, which is not too different from the ones he describes in his posts. I too was labeled a statistic, from a broken home. I was more interested in getting high than doing the homework, and I couldn’t see the correlation of what I was being taught, to how it would relate to me in the world out there. I went into high school as an honor student, I graduated with a C average, somewhere along the way it wasn’t cool to care about school anymore.

While in high school, I had no interest in reading. I would rarely read the books assigned to me, and I became adept in garnering information from my more disciplined class mates. Every once in a while, one of my parents would have a reason to look over my homework routine, resulting from poor grades, punishments, or teachers concerns. Under the watchful eye, I would drudge my way through my reading assignments, as well as my other homework, that I had no interest in. Truthfully, as I think of it now, I rarely ever did homework, and it is a wonder that I even passed my final two years of math classes, much less school. Senior year math class is my biggest quandary. I never took the tests on time, and always claimed I did not know the answers because I was intimidated by math and therefore had “test block”. It is amazing this worked.

April, senior year of high school, I was living up to the label I had been given, ditching school for 4:20, annual pot smoking day, and the Columbine massacre occurred. That night, I couldn’t help thinking that, the smart kids at that school, had been ditching that day like me. That incident opened a conversation about guns and mental health and the safety of our children and the efficacy of our schools to foster an environment of learning and co creating that is positive for all who attend, this conversation continues, we don’t have answers yet. For me the incident also echoed something I already knew, public high school in America was no where near an environment that fostered anything other than confusion, misunderstanding, crushed spirit, and hate.

What was I going to do with my life after high school? I like many others my age, had grandiose ideas of the reality awaiting me. I was going to be an actress. I wanted to go to an acting school, and get famous. I was accepted to an acting school in New York. I went to New Mexico State University instead…Someone convinced me it would be better to get a degree, that the real world required me to have a real job…I stayed for one semester, the experience left something wanting. Everyone around me was on drugs. Everyone around me was playing mental games with each other. No one was honest, no one was vulnerable. My acting professor was sleeping with another student, and telling me it was a really big sea, and I was a little fish…Was this as good as it was going to get? I missed home.

Despite the ugliness of the violence and drug culture I grew up in, the poverty and the ignorance, there was at least honesty about it, vulnerability in it. I longed for connection on a level deeper than surface. My best friends mother insisted that I start substitute teaching at her preschool. What a gift that was. I returned to the hopefulness of youth. I returned to the openness and the vulnerability. I saw so clearly how capable we all are, and I wished there was more I could do for these children as they grew older in a world that would tell them to become hard and afraid and careless. It was important to me to never be the cause of a lifelong hurt for any of them, and from the effort I gave in the preschool, I saw reward in all of my relationships.

It wasn’t until after graduating from high school that I began to learn about the world, and my role in it. All the standardized testing, did not educate me in mindful awareness, social sensitivity and caring, or values to build a life of meaning on. My public education was just a way to keep me and all the other children, off the streets, and in the mind factory of brainwashed automatons. Intertwined in my story of factory brainwashing, were teachers who impacted me, I still hear their voices today. One of them called me an asshole for wasting my talents, she was right. I’ll never forget how she, in her caring, surprised me. First that she cared, second that she flung profanities at me, and third, she was right. I never wanted to be the asshole who wasted her talents again. By this time it was the end of my senior year, I couldn’t go back, I could only go forward. I bet Ned is like that teacher, a breath of fresh air in a world of people who want you to just sit there, be quiet, don’t question, and do the homework, it’s on the test.

As I reflect on my apathy, my laziness, and my cop-outs, I am grateful I found a way to turn my perspective on learning around. How did I do it? Sometimes I still ponder the answer to that question. One of the answers is my love of reading. Through reading, I found my way into the delight of wordplay, via the wisdom of my mother. After some incident where I probably claimed boredom (she did not have T.V.), she handed me a copy of Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins. I had read before, even finished To Kill a Mockingbird as well as Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies, however I had never really enjoyed reading. Jitterbug Perfume was just, so good. Perhaps it was the elements of sex and mischievousness, so nicely timed with my adolescent experiences. Or it could have been the long and epic story, or the tales of scent and it’s profound power. Whatever it was, after reading that book, I was hooked on books. These days, I wouldn’t call myself a voracious reader, however I do read regularly, and I do not limit my reading to one style or era, or just to books. I love classics, and science fiction, I love spiritual books and memoirs, I read poetry and plays, I read magazines and blogs, I read the boxes on the table, if I am curious about something I will look it up on the internet and read as much as I can stand. Somehow that adventure into the world of Pan and Tom Robbins’ imagination unearthed a true and beautiful understanding, words can open worlds.

In my early twenties I heard that the modern American, with a high school diploma or equivalent, had a vocabulary of five thousand words. This statistic was followed by another. The average street person in the sixteenth century, beggar, vendor, defiantly not educated, had a vocabulary in the range of twenty five thousand words. I was astonished. It then became known to me that our national media conglomerates feed to us, the public, their materials, at an eighth grade reading level. I became insulted, and then my shame turned into defiance. It became my personal task, to learn as many words as possible, for the rest of my life. If I didn’t know a word, I would look it up. As I write this, I recall that the only classes I enjoyed by the end of high school were Drama, French, Art, and surprisingly Etymology. Words became the key to my undying love of learning.

The thing about words is this. Humans have the capacity to express the way they feel about the animate world they are relating with, for centuries we have been refining this ability. Humans have yet to master this skill, bombings, wars, shootings, and walls being built between countries, continue to reveal our inefficiencies in communicating with one another. Why would we demean the work of our ancestors and all of humanity because its easier to say it sucked, than to say I did not enjoy the experience for this, that, and the other reason, it made me feel…? I feel that speaking in slang, as my generation and younger generations do, demeans the power with which we can express ourselves, demeans our intelligence, and demeans humanity as a whole. Hip Hop language, new words, simple words, stupid words like “sucked” to describe our feelings, inhibits our ability to communicate clearly, effectively, and with love.

The conversation that Ned opened in his blog, is intrinsically connected to the conversation about terror and school shootings and spirituality and our personal and collective stories, as well as the history of our past and the blessings of our futures.

The education system and standardized testing, the insufficient resources and exhausted complacent staff. Apathetic students from marginalized backgrounds as well as good students who have no sense of security awaiting them in the real world to come. Drop out rates and gun violence in schools at an increasing rate, across all social and economic backgrounds. These are all symptoms of a larger dysfunction at the center of our collective social agreement. Something is left wanting in the process of educating our youths. Something is left wanting in the fulfillment of the adults carrying the weight of society and commerce. Something is left wanting in regard to our needs being met socially as well as our needs being met economically. Something is left wanting in the media we are fed, that is trite and base and without value, yet fed to us in excessive quantity. Something is left wanting as we become so easily connected through the internet, and yet distanced through it’s online socializing. Something is left wanting as the list goes on….What is it we are yearning for? We as a collective, lack a sense of purpose. The only collective purpose that seems to be gathering momentum, is action for the sake of doing it, no matter the action or its consequences. We want to participate, we want to connect, we want to feel like our actions have importance, like each of us, singularly, matters. Yet, the confines of the society almost every American grows up in (or immigrates to) says, conform, conform, conform.

April marks Spring Challenge time at Shree Yoga Taos, twenty classes in thirty days. This is a hard commitment to fulfill, and I am diligently working my way to the goal. Yoga has been the most spectacular tool in my personal growth, and has also, in its beautiful way, supported my desire to never stop learning. Class yesterday, as often can be the case, was themed very appropriately. Liz began the class with a very nicely posed question. “Do any of you ever experience doubt?” I had to laugh as I felt she offered us such kindness and respect, when the question assumed that we were doubtless, and confident. Liz then shared a teaching of Carlos Pomeda on the positive qualities of doubt.

“The best student is the one with doubt. There are three types of students, those with ignorance, those with knowledge, and those with doubt. The students who are with only ignorance or only knowledge will get nothing from the texts and study of yoga, for they are already full. It is with doubt that the conflict between knowledge and ignorance can take place, and in this conflict, or friction, learning takes place. One does not need to be afraid of uncertainty, for from uncertainty is the exploration of what is true.”

To ask the question, is this as good as it gets? To ask, am I nothing more than a statistic? To ask, can I live a life of value and meaning? These questions reflect doubt. Doubt is defined as uncertainty, to consider questionable or unlikely, to hesitate to believe. Doubt begins the process of self awareness. Doubt is the opposite of what children are taught in the machine of our social grooming. Doubt can lead to curious exploration.

Ned teaches exploration based curriculum, I commend him. He expressed in his writings, his discontent that in this explorational curriculum he may be getting his students engaged and excited about learning, however on some level it does not truly prepare them for the world ahead. A world of unhappy, unsatisfied adults, held in the social arms of dishonesty, greed, low moral standards, and mediocrity. Will there be true satisfaction in the lives they go on to make, those of them who can break the legacy of the histories of their mothers and fathers?

As long as we as a society and individuals continue to participate in the “do what your told paradigm”, with out real knowledge of values and morals that are not warped and embedded in dogma and religion, we will continue to perpetuate our forward moving momentum that aims to meet the needs of the past. Until we as a race of humans, can collectively agree to act in the spirit of good will toward all human kind, toward all things mindful of the needs of our future, we will continue this circumincessent missing of the needs, of those who will be the future. This is a large order to fill, is it possible? The ideas and questions most definitely pose doubt…If anything, it is a hard task to undertake, for it requires each and every living person to mind their manners, listen to their hearts, be more loving and courageous and open and vulnerable, to be in community without discriminating, to communicate and compromise, to think for themselves and know their own authentic truths, to hold good boundaries, and love with wisdom.

In school, I told myself math was hard. Math is still hard, however now I have the conviction and the willingness to try when it is necessary. I’m not signing up for any math classes yet, but who knows, someday I might. One thing I do know, the rebellious kids, the ones who want to do it their way, the ones who doubt, have something to be encouraged and not feared. If they get the right attention, the potential they have to see something differently, to creatively approach an old problem, to recreate the world they live in, is unlimited. This rebelliousness, the act of thinking for yourself, is truly what each of us can foster, in the youth, in one another, and in ourselves. As we pursue our own voices, our own beliefs, the answers to our questions of doubt, we can find our way deeply into the well of our authentic nature, our Atman (true self), and into the heart of Brahman (the unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world; conscious eternal energy), where nothing is left wanting.

Like Ned, I too am a teacher, and I too hope that what I teach has value for the lives of my students outside the environment of the classroom. I often hope that the opportunities for growth do not get missed in the guise of the yoga, the inherent ideas of dogma, the suspicious nature of humans, and the conflict of religious/non-religious thought, can all be an impediment to the most fundamental of the teachings….We can each of us be liberated from the confines of the limitations we place on the unconditional nature of our hearts capacity to love and be loved…the confines are the barriers of fear, shame, guilt, anger, resentment, insecurity, doubt, and excessive ego that our magnificent brains label our life experience to be…without curiosity, without a desire to know and be free, we will continue to be confined to these limitations…as the questions lead to answers, we live with more purpose, our thoughts and actions have more value, our hearts are opened to the bounty of beauty in all things, and even in the face of loss, nothing will be left wanting, for all will be full.

As for those who live on the edge of society, whose ideas of good and bad are loose, whose mental abilities are ill, whose lives are desperate, every ounce of love we share without suspicion, can truly save lives.

“The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” -Steve Biko

Love Always, in all ways, for giving,

Genevieve

Rising

In Delhi they are protesting today.  Protesting the oppression and violation of women, protesting the deaths that ensue, protesting the lack of justice in the plainly avoiding judicial system.  They are protesting peacefully and silently, outside the city center from where they are banned.  They are gathering by the thousands to say, No More.  No More turning a cold shoulder to the gang raping, No More to the silencing of the victims, No More to the lack of simple respect for life.

One in three women on this planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.

Whether a woman carries the memory of such an experience or not, as women we experience oppression daily in a variety of ways.  Misogyny exists in many forms, and being a woman means being a target.  On the other side of this coin are the men who value and respect the boundaries of yes and no, of consensual and non consensual.  Too many times in this discussion, the discussion of men in a positive light seems to be forgotten, so I offer gratitude to them here, and the men and women who taught them such values.  In the end, the violence and oppression are  symptoms of illness on both sides of the line between sexes.  In my opinion the whole matter is a matter of value, and how as humans we have misplaced our values for life in a space that does not hold respect for the gift of life, nor accountability of personal responsibility to life.

Each and every single human, no matter how hurt, angry, maladjusted, or marginalized has a desire to be loved. Yoga teaches this, the Dali Lama teaches this, and even soap operas and TV shows somehow manage to teach this.  This is the motivator behind all choice.  The choices we make however, are shaped by the perception of life that we learn through experience.  Depending on the experiences of our own unique life, we develop and shape our ideas of what the experience of love and happiness feels like, and looks like, and we pursue that variation of happiness until we come to learn something new.  The choices we make to find happiness do not commonly manifest in a course of action that resembles true unconditional love, because of the way we have packaged and delivered love to our collective reality as a whole.   Despite our incredible intelligence as a species, we have overshot ourselves in our pursuit of a life of comfort and convenience, somewhere along the way we seem to have forgotten what was valuable.  Perhaps it was the advent of the T.V. and advertising?  Perhaps it was the industrial revolution, or the class systems that existed before democracy, perhaps, perhaps.

Life is valuable, that is why we fight to live it, the way we want, under any and all belief structures.  Sometimes we fight with action, sometimes with words, sometimes with non-violent protest.  It is fear that prevents us from healing the wounds we have caused in each others lives, and impedes us from transcending this worldwide paradigm of violence and oppression.  Fear of not being loved, recognized, amended, encouraged, fear of not knowing, not understanding, not being comfortable, fear of our lives ending, fear of our lives changing, fear of losing, fear of one another.  Fear is the greatest conqueror of mankind, and suspicion only alienates us from deep connection with ourselves and all of life around us.

It is never acceptable for any person to forcibly make any other person do anything. the misuse of force in place of the power of love is always hurtful.  All we can do is teach, lead, and ask for help.

The solution is in being mindful of ourselves, our power, our ability to adapt to this ever changing life, our capacity to love and be loved and act from the spaciousness of our spirits, that part of our being that knows true justice as well as true forgiveness.  If we see all life as valuable, all life in all of its beautiful and diverse forms, than we can learn to honor our lives and the lives of others with courage and love.  It is our responsibility as humans to have accountability for our actions, and therefore, foresight of the consequences of our actions.

The world we live in is not a Utopia, bad things happen here.  People experience horrible things that change the way they perceive life.  Depending on their circumstances they recover and adapt, or they suffer and become more alienated from healthy relationships, with themselves and others.  Happenstance places us in conditions that are far from what anyone would define as “favorable”, however in our most frightening moments, there is always a glimpse of light, in the awareness that it could be better we glimpse the intrinsic good in all things.  Every thought we have, we have the choice to believe or not.  This is the greatest gift of the mind, its ability to process information, discern what is true, what serves, and what action to take in order to proceed toward a state of happiness.  The fault of the mind is that it does not have a built in bullshit detector, it has to deduce and deduce constantly to continue to come back to what it believes to be true, which is most often only true to the person believing it.  However there are some universal truths, one truth is that we can become more aware to be prepared to respond with skill to the circumstances and happenstances of our lives.  We can listen to our hearts when we need a bullshit detector, and proceed with caution when we discern the necessity for that kind of action in circumstances that are unfamiliar.  We can offer our skills to each other to heal the wounds of our history, as we learn to value life with more reverence and responsibility.

As women we have to remember we are vulnerable,  we have to remember that we have the capacity to be smart about locking doors, dressing intelligently, having company at night when walking, and empowering ourselves with skills of protection and awareness.  These precautions are not over cautious, just aware.  As women we can also remember that our value is not measured in the size of our breasts, the lipstick we wear, or the people we sleep with.  Our value is in our ability to recreate life, to share in that creation with all life, and to nurture the lives we create as we teach them to hold all that is valuable close to their hearts.  This is also the ultimate value of a mans life, this ability to recreate life, and nurture and care for it as it grows into a being of aware and virtuous behavior.  Whether one cares to reproduce, is into heterosexual relationships or not, is not of matter, the truest value in our lives as a whole is that we can continue to live.  In this continuing is an invitation to learn to live in a way that is more forgiving of our differences, more sensitive to our hurts, more accountable to the standards of living we all deserve to experience, and more cooperative as we proceed into the continuing of our future together. As women we can demand more respect in our relationships by upping the standards of our own value and not settling for anything less, starting by loving ourselves more and in that, loving all life more.  We must hold one another up with respect for the value of all life, the young and the old, the male and the female, the ones we identify with and those we don’t understand, the healthy and happy as well as the marginalized and outcast.  If we learn to reach out and ask how can I help, before we become suspicious of how we will be wronged, we may learn to heal the deep illness of our society.  And as we value ourselves more, we will hold better boundaries in challenging circumstances, we will remember to lock the door at night when we are home alone, we will stand in crowds and say silently no more, we will stand for justice in all facets of life, we will live with deep mindfulness and as much unconditional love our minds can let us be free to enjoy, and we will hold ourselves and one another accountable with compassion and high standards built on a foundation we can all stand on.  The foundation of Love.

Blessings and Happy New Year,

Genevieve