To The Creator In All Of Us!

Hi Friends,

For those of you keeping track, yes indeed, i missed yet another posting day in my commitment to write every day.

i gave myself the challenge inspired by my fantastic teacher in college, “Teach.”  

i am really thriving in the challenge actually.  i am the kind of person who does better with challenges–it makes me work harder and better than i do without  them (hence choosing to spend an extraordinary amount of time living in an over 1,000 year old ancient elder tree for over two years : )

My commitment to writing every day is really inspiring my creativity and thoughtfulness as well which i am so grateful for.  My creative side is vital to my aliveness, so anything that encourages and inspires that in me is welcome.

Thinking of creativity makes me reflect on how in the US, we seem to have unlimited amount of funds for weapons and war, yet all the arts and creativity are being cut out of schools because of lack of funds.  i had a challenging childhood, and art was absolutely critical in my ability to express and work through the difficulties i experienced.  So here we are, cutting funding for creative expression–ways for young people to work through the complexities of our world– and instead, overspending on war and violence.  It is any wonder that there is so much violence erupting in our world?

 

BT, DT, and AT (Before Tree, During Tree, and After Tree– the three segments of my life ; ) i have always done things to support the arts for communities in need.  Nature is creative– it is in our nature to create.  So arts are not a privilege, they are a right.

 

i am going to post some links to some truly wonderful organizations working on connecting arts with underserved communities.  Check them out, be inspired, and if so moved, please support them with green energy.  Also, please look into your community and see if there is an arts organization serving communities who might otherwise be left out of creative opportunities and support them!!

 

http://www.youthink.org/main.html  This is an AWESOME organization that brings together arts, service, and personal leadership development.  i have supported them for many years and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that I have the opportunity to do so.

 

http://www.avam.org/ If you ever are anywhere near Baltimore, you MUST go to this museum!!  You will be so inspired!  They have an incredible after school program that supports youth from underserved communities, and even much of their staff come from communities who are often excluded from right livelihood opportunities.  This is another organization i am HUGELY passionate about and have done various things over the years to support them, their mission, their vision, and all that they serve.

 

http://unitedrootsoakland.org/  i have done numerous fundraisers for this organization in its various forms.  It is so inspiring because it combines eco-consciousness with caring for youth and empowering them through the arts. 

 

Please remember, arts are not a privilege they are a right.  And they are right that are absolutely vital to making our world a better, more beautiful and caring place!!  Please, please, please, either support one of these organizations or support one in your community… or both!!!

 

Love and Creativity,

 

juliia

 

 

 

 

Published in: on January 30, 2013 at 3:47 am  Comments (7)  

My Yin and Yang

My Yin and Yang

Because some things are just too darn cute not to post. This is a pic not of one strangling the other (contrary to possible first peek.) This is Fabio (orange kitty) cleaning/licking Cici (grey/black/white kitty) before they take a nap. They are so ridiculously cute together, i can not even begin to put in words. i can’t think of anything “important” or “profound” to say. i am just feeling so grateful that i get to be guardian and companion to these two fabulous, funny, fantastic furballs.

Published in: on January 28, 2013 at 5:59 am  Comments (4)  

What We Choose To See Is What We See

Hi Friends,

Recently, i have had someone who is very clear about their dislike of me and has been very mean and advocating violence in how they choose to react to me.  

i notice within myself, the initial reaction of anger, frustration, and judgment… i mean like really!!!  (Everything i have done in my “activism” has been peaceful.  What is wrong with people that they say such hateful and violent things to someone who has only done peaceful things!!?)  Mostly, i just notice how much judgment arises in me in such moments.   i can be a REAL meanie!!!!!!  in my thoughts!!!!  But because of the work i have done on myself over all these years, i notice pretty quickly how judgmental i become, how condescending in my thoughts, how i create an “other” so easily in moments like these.  

Being in the public eye is very hard for me, but at the same time it holds me so much more accountable than i know i would be if i wasn’t under scrutiny. i am a human being, and i know that without the public spotlight, i would fall to my “lesser” self a lot more than i do.  The spotlight sets the bar higher for myself than i might set for myself otherwise.  Yes, this is me being completely open and honest about my humanity. It isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last.

i know that i am committed to transforming my “reaction” and instad dropping into my most authentic and present self.  The present self does not react because reaction is based on the past.  The present self, takes a deep breath, and senses out the best way to respond vs. react.  When i am completely present, i know that the person saying rude, hateful and violent things to me is reacting to me; defending what they feel is threatened.

When i am completely present, i know i do not need to react and defend; there is only the place i choose to stand.  So, i take the deep breath, and CHOOSE to stand in love and compassion (even though there is definitely the piece of myself that would just love to beat the crap out of certain people ; ) i know that part of myself is the reacting, defensive, stuck in the past person.  The present being i know i can be, and authentically am, knows that i do not need to defend; only love and stand fiercely in love in all the ways it manifests. i know that keeping my commitment to being present and loving makes ME a better person.  i can not control how other people act and react.  i can only control how i choose to show up and respond in the face of what life sends my way.  In this commitment, i recognize this mean, hateful, angry person is my teacher, my angel.  What we “know” untested is merely an idea.  An idea that gets tested over and over becomes a stronger muscle that we can use to accomplish our goals and visions for a better world.

Instead of being hurt and angry by the person, which only drains my joy, energy, passion, and power; i can instead find a sense of peace and empowerment through the trial, through the “workout” of the muscle of my heart.  In this place instead of being drained and held back by my judgments; i am inspired and empowered to transform the hatred in our world to love, compassion, and possibility for a more caring and compassionate world… because it first has to start with me.  

So, even though i notice my initial “triggers” what i am left with is a sense of gratitude for the lessons and the opportunity to grow. 

So, “Thank You” to my angel who came disguised as a person filled with hatred and vitriol. i am a better person from the experience.

May we all find ways to heal ourselves and the world around us through every experience life sends our way.  

Love and Gratitude,

 

julia

Published in: on January 27, 2013 at 4:07 am  Comments (13)  

Please Join Me In Supporting The Winnemem Wintu

Hi Friends,

 

So as promised, this is the first of a monthly posting and donation for a different group each month.

My first donation is going to the Winnemum Wintu.  They are a Native American tribe who were delisted by the federal government in order for the Shasta Dam to be built, flooding their ancestral land.  Because they were delisted, they have had to fight incredibly hard to have their traditional ceremonies and way of life be acknowledged, respected, and protected.  On top of that, delisting means that they do not have access to federal funds set aside for Native People, so not only do they have to fight to stop the further destruction of their traditional ways and livelihood, they do not have access to the funds that are supposed to be about righting some of the wrongs of the past.

i have worked over the years to support these incredible people in various ways.  Please join me in supporting the Winnemem Wintu this month.  And remember if you do choose to support, please post to my blog and let me know–ANY amount is awesome!!!

http://www.winnememwintu.us/how-you-can-help-2/

 

Thanks and Love,

 

julia

Published in: on January 26, 2013 at 3:25 am  Comments (7)  

Generosity In The Face Of Tragedy aka Happy Birthday Alissa and Steve

Hello Friends,

i have a friend who is family (FRamily) who, as a parent, felt deeply impacted by the Sandy Hook shootings.  She decided to do something to turn the feeling of overwhelm into a transformed experience of doing random acts of kindness for 28 people in honor of the 28 victims.  She and her husband decided that instead of birthday gifts (both of their birthdays are in January) they wanted their friends to do random acts of kindness in honor of their birthdays instead– a birthday blessing upon blessing upon blessing kind of thing.  To read more of her incredibly inspiring experience and request, go to: http://28acts.tumblr.com/

Interestingly, i found it challenging to fulfill their birthday request because i am the kind of person who just normally looks for ways to do acts of kindness.  It is in my nature.  i am not saying this to boast.  Truly, part of my core purpose is service, so it is vital to my joy that i be in service; it is just intrinsic in and to who i am.  i knew, though, because this is a birthday request and a very special request, i needed to come up with something much bigger than my normal inclinations for giving.  i have been trying for over 2 weeks now to come up with the way to truly honor their incredible request and to truly honor my love and devotion to them as well as my profound respect and gratitude for their powerful response to such an incredible tragedy.

And i finally figured it out.  Although it is in my nature to be giving, i realized a great stretch for me right now is to commit to giving a donation to a different organization each month for the next year.  i contribute on many different levels (including with green energy) to various organizations all the time.  However, as I mentioned recently in a blog post, i am trying to figure out how to create more abundant right livelihood in my life, so committing to giving generously each and every month, regardless of what is or is not coming in, is a real stretch for me and therein can truly honor the generosity of the request and the giving.

So, beginning tomorrow, i will pick a new organization each month to donate green energy to.  i am committed to giving in my “stretch” zone.  i am not going to post publicly how much that is as i feel that plays somewhat into the inauthenticity of our society of “compare and contrast.”  When we play “compare and contrast” someone or something always has to lose in order for something or someone else to win.   i know in my commitment to living in integrity, that i will look each month to where my comfort zone of giving is, and i will give more than that.

And i am asking you to consider joining me.  i will post a link to each new organization every month and if the work of the organization inspires and moves you, then i ask that you consider giving to them as well, so that we can exponentially grow this circle of giving.  If the organizations i choose do not really speak to you, then i ask that you choose a different organization and donate to them.  Then, post on my blog which organization you gave to, so that we can see as a community, the ripples of our actions.

i am excited to create this space of generosity within the space of the generosity of my friends and then see how that generosity might possibly create even more generosity in the world.  What we appreciate, appreciates.  In times of violence and scarcity, it is so easy to constrict, hide, become withdrawn and suspicious.  How beautiful instead to choose to become MORE giving, loving, kind, thoughtful, and connected.

Happy Birthday Alissa and Steve!

With Love and Gratitude,

julia

Published in: on January 25, 2013 at 3:02 am  Comments (3)  

Apology and The Hummus Chronicles Finale

Dear Friends,

i must begin with an apology.  Clearly i broke my commitment to write every day. 

Yesterday flew by and i got tired early for me and right as i was falling asleep i remembered i had not written in my blog.  Sleep is so dear to me as i so often don’t sleep well, that i chose to go ahead and fall asleep vs. get up and write in my blog; knowing that by the time i finished writing i would have woken myself completely up and probably wouldn’t have fallen asleep until late.

This is not an excuse for my breaking my commitment; it is just me letting you know the story behind it because writing stories is what i do on my blog.  So, i broke my word.  i acknowledge i broke my word.  i re-commit to writing every day.

 

And now for the Grand Finale of the Hummus Chronicles…

As mentioned in my previous blog, i was sharing about various, delicious and joyously vegan meals i had been making.  Every person was clearly appreciating and asking when they get to try my food.  Well, every person except for one woman.  She listened and said with a derogatory tone, “Wow.  You must have a lot of spare time on your hands.”  

At first, i felt myself get defensive–it is what we often do when something we care about is being threatened. i care about making healthy, delicious, joyously vegan food because it makes a huge difference for the health of our bodies, the animals, and our planet!  When i felt that value being attacked, i felt defensive.  Then, knowing the very first and best thing to do whenever we feel triggered is to take a deep, mindful breath, that is what i did.  After taking the breath, i was present to something i say in almost all my talks and in many of my interviews, “Every single moment, of every single day, we are giving our lives to something!  Why not give our lives to the things that matter most to us–regardless of the outcome?”  i thought about how much we give of our lives to things that don’t matter, things we don’t believe in, and things that waste time, money, and energy.

i looked to the woman and i said with love present in my heart and thoughts, “Every one of us prioritizes things in our lives.  We all make choices on how we spend our time, how we invest our time.  i just happen to love making nutritious, delicious food, so i choose to focus time on that instead of other things that others might choose to give their time to.”  i could tell by the look on her face that what i had said dropped deep for her, that she “got” it, and it made sense to her.  She did not respond defensively at all; she merely looked thoughtful and responded, “Well, yes, that is true.”  And then the conversation got swept away by the group again.

i thought to myself with a little sadness in my heart about how i had seen this woman around the island on a few different occasions (she apparently lives here; not just a tourist) and every time i have seen her, she has been drinking alcohol.  i realized in that moment that she doesn’t realize how much of her time and money she invests in drinking around a bar.  She, clearly, longs for that social connection with others and that is a beautiful thing to invest in.  And having occasional drinks with friends or even strangers around a bar can be a very fun way to invest some time.  But just think how much more meaningful her social time could be if more of it were invested in preparing and sharing delicious and nutritious food.  Underneath her doing of drinking as a way to connect with others is the being who enjoys connection with others.

i, of course, did not say any of this to her as that would have been hurtful and inappropriate.  But it was a powerful reminder for me of how truly, every second of every day, we are all investing our lives in something!  Once a moment is passed, we never, ever get it back.  So often, i hear from people about how they feel they do not have enough time in their lives to do the things they really want to do.  And yet, i know how often i “leak” moments here and there throughout my day that add up to substantial amounts of time.  When i am being mindful of the incredible gift of each moment, and i become present to it, i tend to invest my time more thoughtfully and more wisely.  And it is during these periods of time that i often find myself being the most creative, preparing food more, doing more yoga, etc…  When i am present to the gift of time; i tend to find myself with more time to do the things that are most important to me.

Which leads me all the way back around to peeling chickpeas (and by the way, i also, buy dried beans, soak them overnight, drain off the liquid in the morning, and cook in a pressure cooker which is WAY better for our bodies and our planet than buying beans in cans) and laughing to myself.  Yes, i am the crazy lady who peels my chickpeas after cooking them before i turn them into hummus or baked falafels (much healthier than fried ; )  And i am that crazy woman because i know that our lives are not really made up of the big, huge moments (like how people view my time in Luna), but rather our lives are made up of all the little things, the minutia in the moments, those things, people, etc… we might otherwise look or skip over.  

Birth and death are the bookends.  The pages in between, these stories of our lives, the legacy we leave behind after we pass from this physical reality are written letter by letter, moment by moment, conscious or unconscious choice by choice.

i might always be known as, “The woman who lived in a tree,” but i also hope to be remembered for other things like being the girl crazy enough to peel chickpeas, make almond ricotta cheese and sun-dried tomato pesto, and feed people lots of love and joy.  

What do you want the story of your life to be?  

You are writing it even as you read these words.

May your lives be a book filled with stories of care, commitment, and mindful investing of the miracle of each moment.

Love,

julia

 

 

Published in: on January 23, 2013 at 2:30 pm  Comments (17)  

The Hummus Chronicles Part II

Hi Friends,

As previously promised… the story of hummus.  Well… my story of hummus anyway.  And really, to be perfectly clear, not so much a story about hummus as it is a story about how we choose to live our lives and what we choose to focus our time and energy on.  But to say it is a story about hummus certainly makes it seem way more interesting, so let me begin backwards.  

 

Yesterday, I made hummus.  It is a rather common ritual in my life. As a Joyous Vegan, hummus is one of my favorite go-to protein snacks.  As I was making it, I started laughing to myself, thinking of how many people would think I am totally crazy if they knew how I make hummus.  And then I thought to myself, “There is such a good story to my craziness in this instance, that I think I must share.”

 

And so, here I am, sharing.  I imagine by now, more than one of you are wondering what in the world I do in the making of hummus that is so very crazy.  Ready?  Drum roll please…

 

I peel my chickpeas after I cook them.

 

Yes, I do.  I peel each and every single chickpea.  Each. And. Every. One.

 

Why? You might ask?  Other than the fact that I must be clearly loose in the marbles department.  Because it makes for the most deliciously smooth and creamy hummus imaginable.  And because I find the process wonderfully meditative.  And because I absolutely love putting loving mindfulness into the food I make.  That is why.

And this leads us even further backwards to a month or so ago where I was sitting at a bar at a restaurant near my home.  This particular restaurant is mostly bar actually, only a few scattered tables on the beach, so most of the seating is around a bar. It is not just a bar as in a place to drink alcohol only, but rather, it is the style of sitting.  It is a gathering place that draws some incredibly interesting people from all over the world and conversations often strike up amongst strangers. 

 

And this particular day was no exception as a group of us began talking.  And somehow we were talking about one of my favorite things… food.  I forget exactly how the conversation came up, but I think it had something to do with someone mentioning something I had cooked and shared with them recently and how much everyone liked it.  And then somehow, I was sharing about all these delicious meals I had been making lately.  I get VERY animated when talking about anything I am passionate about, and I remember just being so happy as I was listing off the various things I had made and how I make them all Joyously Vegan.   Flour and gluten-free lasagna with zucchini noodles, sun-dried tomato pesto and cashew almond ricotta.  Chipotle and caramelized garlic hummus (yes, I know, hummus ; ), chocolate cake with caramelized pecans and fresh grated coconut from coconuts I hand-husked and hand-grated, etc…  

 

People around me were saying things like, “Mmmmmm…” “Yum” and “That sounds incredible!” 

 

Everyone except one woman…

 

But you will have to wait until tomorrow for that part of the story.  In my new commitment to writing every day, I realize that before I felt like I couldn’t post anything unless it was really “meaningful” and some version of what I judged was good enough to post.  Now, it is about just making sure to post each day, which also has to include making it sustainable for myself or else I will do really great for a bit, but then burn out. 

 

So, that is part 2 of the The Hummus Chronicles, and I promise there is a tie in between the fact that I am crazy woman who peels every single chickpea before blending my hummus and the story of hanging out a bar.  Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the story.

 

And in the meantime, consider looking into your life to see if there is somewhere that you could bring a sense of the special into the mundane (maybe peeling chickpeas isn’t for you, but the possibilities are limitless ; )

 

Love and Laughter,

 

julia

Published in: on January 22, 2013 at 5:29 am  Comments (9)  

The Hummus Chronicles

Hello Friends,

Today i made hummus.  There is a whole lot more to the story, but i am so very tired from only having had 2 hours of sleep last night (i am not the best sleeper sadly) that i am not going to actually write the whole story now.  Yes, it is true, you will just have to check back in tomorrow for the hummus chronicles.  

As i committed to writing every day, i am doing my very, very best to see how long i can follow through with that commitment.  So, even a few, short silly lines is still writing.  

For now, suffice to say, i love hummus, i love my weird and whacky process of making hummus (because it really isn’t weird and whacky for a weird and whacky girl like me ; ) and i love the thought of actually getting good sleep tonight.

So until tomorrow, sweet dreams… or savory dreams as in the case of hummus and other such food delights for the non-sweet-tooth inclined.  

Love,

 

julia

Published in: on January 21, 2013 at 2:23 am  Comments (4)  

For The Love Of Animals

Hi Friends,

I made a commitment to write every day and it is now 10:30pm my time in Belize, and the day has flown by.  It is wild to me, how days here seem so slow and yet whiz by all at the same time.  Even after living here for two years now, I still haven’t gotten quite used to this paradoxical relationship with time.

As I lay on my side, writing this, here on the chaise lounge chair that is my sort-of couch, a sweet cat, Fabio, is purring contentedly nestled up against the small of my back.  I recently adopted him and another cat, CiCi from the animal shelter here.  Each day they are getting more and more comfortable with me, although CiCi is still highly skittish and jumps and runs at the slightest noises.

I had adopted a kitten, RJ, a few months back, but sadly, he was killed in my own yard by a boa constrictor snake.  I had never seen a big snake in my yard, but this one day, little RJ ran right out the door as I was leaving to run errands, and I could not coax him back in.  I figured I was just going to be gone for a couple hours, so he would be fine.  When I returned and called for him and he did not come running up, I knew something was wrong.  RJ would always come running whenever I called him.  I waited a while thinking maybe he had just wandered far off, but in my gut, I knew something was wrong.  I called again and still he did not come, so I decided to go look for him.  As I walked out the back door, my eyes were drawn to his favorite bougainvillea bush where he loved to hide and watch lizards, iguanas, and birds.  And it was there, that I saw with horror, he was being eaten by the snake. I did not realize that I lived in such a dangerous area for little RJ as there are quite a few bigger cats that roam the neighborhood.  I knew it would be unsafe at night and never let him go out anywhere even close to dusk, but I had no clue it would be dangerous for him in the middle of the day.  It was heartbreaking for him to die that way.  And I had to struggle with knowing that the snake was just being a snake and eating to survive.  There was no malice or evil intent in the snake.  But, sadly for me, it was my four-legged furry friend who ended up being the snake’s meal.

I still cry sometimes.  That little fur ball worked his way deep into my heart in a very short period of time.   I waited a little while until the gripping grief had passed through, and then, just a few days ago, adopted these two older cats.  I know kittens are easier for the shelter to adopt out because they are just so darn cute, so I figured, I would adopt two older cats.  This way they might also be safer having each other to watch out for one another, plus being bigger, might not be so curious and go up to something like a snake.

So Fabio sits here curled up contentedly next to me as CiCi hangs out in “their” room which she spends a lot of time in only venturing out little bits at a time as she gets over her nerves.  I hope before too long, she will feel safe enough to adopt me in return. These two are so sweet together when they curl up next to each other to sleep; they always lick each other first and just purr and purr.  They bring me such delight.  I can only hope that I bring them whatever version of that is equivalent in kitty world.

Well, it is almost 11pm now, so I will sign off, so that I can post this and still make it in time for my daily writing commitment.

: )

For the love of animals, please consider adopting companion animals if you have not already done so.  And also, please consider at the very least reducing how many animals you eat for food (I encourage people to go Joyoulsy Vegan!!  : )  but at the very least, please reduce the amount of animals you eat for food.  It makes a HUGE difference for the Earth, water and energy consumption, and myriad other things—including the animals!!

Thanks and Love,

Julia

Published in: on January 20, 2013 at 5:04 am  Comments (12)  

With Deepest Gratitude For The Gift And Teacher That Is Lazaro Arbos

Hello Friends.

Although, i am not a fan of mass market media corporate conglomerations… i am a HUGE, HUGE fan of the amazing, awe-inspiring, humbling every day people like Lazaro who remind us that our truest, deepest greatness lies in the courage of our hearts. Wow… just full on… tears running down my face… wow.

When i see people like Lorazo, it puts so much into perspective every time and touches me, inspires me, and moves me deeply.

It is really worth the watch!

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/entertainment/2013/01/18/american-idol-lazaro-arbos-stuns-as-stuttering-vanishes-when-singing/

What does Lazaro inspire you TO DO???  What obstacles might you allowing to hold you back instead of using them as opportunities to grow and transform?

i am so humbled by this young man… so deeply and powerfully humbled.

Love,

julia

Published in: on January 18, 2013 at 9:17 pm  Comments (1)