Happy trails to you. Until we meet again.

March 29, 2012

[Click the player below for audio.]

When I worked as a seasonal park ranger and, literally, bushwhacked my way through thick North Carolina woods, I learned that trails:

  • are created with choice + sweat;
  • curve — (at least the interesting ones do); and
  • end by opening to a new direction.

Well, that’s what’s happening here and now.  Choosing.  Sweating.  Curving.  Ending.  Opening.

Join me at empathicwriter.com where I’m opening to my new direction, which is a single-focused certainty that empathy will shift + lift culture to something that actually resembles sanity.

Caramel, honeydew, silk and soft-lighting. Yeah.

January 18, 2012

[Click the player below for audio.]

I enjoy writing love letters.  Here’s a quickie:

Hey Supernova.

Have I told you what a joy it is to be in close proximity of you?  To be next to the kindling fire at the core of your burning being?  To catch light from the brightness you so naturally cast off?  To catch warmth from the heat that your passion generates?  I am blessed by your stardom.  Your true stardom.

So, that’s how I talk to people I care about.

One person recently asked me a question about it.  I think he may have mistaken it for empty flattery.  He called it “sweet talk.”  As if “sweet talk” is bad, or without value or authenticity.  He seemed suspicious of it.

I thought about that and asked, “Is bitter talk better?  Is bitter talk really the tone you prefer to hear?  Is it really the medium that supports your expansion and unfoldment?”

Unlikely.

Why is rudeness so celebrated?  Why is indifference and snarkiness considered cool?  What is so cool about a rusted edge that cuts and slices?  What is cool about that?  Clearly, I’m not cool.  I prefer sweetness.  In my being.  In my giving.  In my receiving.  I’ll give and take it any day.

I dare you to speak in sweet superlatives.  I dare you to say out loud the kind, beautiful thought you have about the person in front of you — the person you live with, work for, supervise, commute beside, live next door to, Facebook-learn from…

Instead of thinking or noticing something wonderful about a person (which, by the way, cannot be heard or known by another), say it out loud.  Can you imagine how a day could shift if positive observations were actually verbalized?

Where did we learn that?  Where did we learn to silence our praise, and over-voice our complaints?  Oh, we’re quite vocal about what we don’t like, what we don’t want, how the customer service sucked, blah blah negative-blah.

But how often do we stop and say, “You hit it on the spot! And I thank you!”

That thing that went right?  I dare you to say it out loud, to the person who helped make it so.

Ingratitude dries up a fertile forest.

A New Year’s Opening To Allure

December 30, 2011

[Click the player below for audio.]

For 2012, let’s do something a lil’ different.  Let’s replace force and fatigue, with nectar and color.  Let’s be honeysuckle-smart, and attract our pollinators with sweet scent and eye-catching color.

Allure.  Can you sense how different it feels from traditional goal-setting?  Allure is the power to attract.  Wouldn’t  you agree that flowers have mastered the art of attraction?

Their existence depends on a reproductive process that’s entirely out of their control.  The only thing they can do is be.  Yes, we are much more complex than a lily… but the lily is an unmatched teacher in getting sublime results, without all the effort and stress our “sophistication” so often calls for.

Choose one or two things that, if established, would totally impregnate your life with bouncing joy.  If it’s daring and big, let it be.  If it’s docile and tiny, let it be.  And, let it talk.  Listen to what your Deep Desire has to say.  Ask it to describe itself to you.  What is the experience or feeling it wants to give you?  Books, screenplays and songs want to be written to give the experience of self-expression.  Physical bodies want to be fit and firm to give the experience of feeling and looking good.  Money wants to be earned to give the experience of security and generosity.  Hearts want to be shared to give the experience of loving connection.

You get the point.  The thing you most long for comes with a high and pure reason for your wanting it.  Concentrate on both the What and the Why.  Hold it fondly inside of you while watching this one-minute video.

As you watch, water your Deep Desire with these words:

Open, open, open.

We open to give our pollen grains,
trusting that they will be carried to a fertile host.

We also open to receive the pollen grains of another,
allowing ourselves to be that fertile host.

As multi-dimensional beings,
we accept our varied roles and functions:

sometimes as a male seed of strong vision;

sometimes as a female egg of dynamic potential; and

sometimes as a mobile agent that carries and deposits Life;

always in need of each other.

Flourishing is a collaboration.

For this reason — and unto each other –
we surrender, we uncoil, we unfold.

Anais Nin said, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”  TODAY IS THAT DAY, BELOVED.

Do you need a caring and intelligent witness
for your alluring dream or project?

Do you want support for your brave decision
to rely on the integrity, strength, ability and surety
of your gifts to fragrance the world around you?

You are enough.  More than enough.  Right now.
I’d be honored to assure you of this, and help you
yield your desired fruit in this pivotal new year.

CLICK HERE to learn how I serve.

* * *

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A heart-felt salute to *all* my sisters this Holiday Season.

December 11, 2011

[Prefer to listen?  Click the player below.]

I’m fortuned with a wide variety of girlfriends.  Some are high-stylin’ divas… with closets that would make the editorial staff of Glamour Magazine drool.  Some are so eco-conscious, you’d swear their skin was made of tree bark.  Others are so grounded in their physicality and sexuality, you might be jealous if you weren’t properly connected to Momma Gaia yourself.  And there are a few that are so domestically inclined, with perfectly baked ginger bread men, honey-glazed hams (or tofu alternatives) and hair-free corners, your lesser-self might want to hang them by their apron strings.  Well, I’d like to suggest that…

…we are all a facet of each other.

Whether your egg nog is the tastiest, your place-settings the most dazzling, your wrapped gifts the most symmetrical, or your pole-dance the sexiest, I salute you, Sister!!

It’s quite a lot of expectations whirling ’round about now, no?

Let’s be very honest:  Who is The One that is typically/traditionally expected to execute all this Wonder-Fair?  Santa??  His Elves?? Puh-leeze!!  In the majority of North American households, it’s The Woman who is expected to pull off this extravaganza with a perfectly decorated, sanitized home, and bedazzling smile to boot.

It’s deep in our core, to want to feed, and nurture and host and care, and ensure that everyone is having the time of their life, eating the meal of their life, enjoying the party of their life, savoring the highest sentiment of the year.

Yeah, no pressure there.

Hahahahah!!!!

This time of year is a heightened exclamation point.  And, retailers aside, the best parts of it want to exclaim, in some way,  that:  “You matter to me.”  The full, robust truth I see about The Holiday Season is this:

(-) it puts a lot of pressure on mere mortals to do and give and behave in ways that, ideally, we would do all year long, but because the weights of generosity and forgiveness and tireless good cheer and family togetherness can feel so heavy, we’ve relegated it to once a year… masqueraded beneath scotch-taped hopes, and store-brought dreams… when, really, our souls long for so much more.  Stuff that can’t be bought or exchanged.  We hunger for deep touches, and soulful contact.  Sorry, retailers, but there are no receipts or coupons for this.

(+) it spurs a lot of dreams and glittery optimism about what could be possible in our relationships with each other all year longstrong euphoria, and courageous reckoning.  Yeah, gimme an ounce of that in my stocking.

As a woman who feels very deeply, and doesn’t necessarily orientate herself from the kitchen (I cook from my keyboard), I wanted to write something in acknowledgement of those of us who might not make Grandma Pickens or Betty Crocker proud but who, in our day-to-day life, seek to add Cheer and Beauty and Luminosity to those we love every single blessed day of the year.

I see you Goddess, and I thank you for Being.

Happy Holidays to All!

Love All Ways,
Erika

I am thankful for the World Wide Web, which has helped connect you, me and All.

November 24, 2011

[Prefer to listen?  Click the player below.]

Dear LifeBlazing subscribers (you’ve subscribed, haven’t you??; check out the upper-right side bar from the homepage), FaceBook friends, Empathic Writer community, Twitter followers, and wonderful visitors, I am grateful to you, for teaching, inspiring, humbling and encouraging me!  You make my mind richer, and bless my soul with your wild creativity.  You are kind, intelligent, curious, funny, vulnerable, and even though we’re all over the world, we have more commonalities than differences. Thank you for making that so clear.

And the differences we do have are beautiful.  Thank you for exposing me to different perspectives, beliefs, traditions, values, customs, opinions and expressions I wouldn’t otherwise know without this global playground/university/adventure-wonderland… which, ironically, has deepened my love for offline life.

Thank you for making me certain that peace within and peace without is attainable.  I’m in such great company here!

Love you,
Erika

Enjoy Louie Schwartzberg‘s video below, and remember, Thanksgiving is daily. ;-)

How to get a perfect answer to any question you may have.

November 19, 2011

[Prefer to listen?  Click the player below.]

The human heart is much more than a reliable pump. That is a basic function, without which we couldn’t live, but there is a higher function of the human heart that is also life-sustaining:  that is to guide you to the Sweet Spot of your life, health, work and relationships.

Modern life creates a lot of noise, distraction and illusion, and a fierce and resolute intent is required to quiet yourself and still yourself enough to learn from your Heart Wisdom.

Try now.  Collect all of your attention from the various scattered, driftings… call all of the pieces and particles of your attention… call them all back home to you.  Close your eyes.  Point your focus, like a beam, to the center of your chest, where it dips in the most.  Allow your focus to turn warm.  Add a color to it, if you like.  Accept the possibility that the very wisest being you will ever know lives right there, at that now warmly lit spot.  Let it speak.  Let it show, lead and guide.  Trust what it offers.

Heart-Knowings are clear.  They do not create confusion or fear.  Heart-Knowings add clarity, courage and freshness wherever and whenever you need it.  They come as a directional feeling, prompt, impulse or spark.  A Heart-Knowing removes burden, even when the guidance you receive calls for you to do something difficult.  Your Heart-Knowings may not be understood by others, but they require no defense or approval.  They are strong in their own right, and they will make you strong in your own right, too.

This has been a very simple opening of your inner door, intended to add lightness to your outer life.  Walk through it often. Let’s meet together there from time to time.

All my love, Erika.

Discovering fire.

October 30, 2011

[Prefer to listen?  Click the player below.]

“Some day after we have mastered the winds, the waves and gravity,
we will harness for God the energies of love;
and then for a second time in the history of the world,
humans will have discovered fire.”
(Teilhard de Chardin)

When, exactly, is “some day?” Isn’t it possible today could be The Day? Your ducks might not be in a row. Your ends might not be tied. You may even feel especially low or uninspired at the moment. Still, there is no better time than right now to decide that you will start harnessing love’s energy. There is no other time than right now to do it because delays always prevail, and the only way to obliterate a delay is to decide, “Yes. And now.”

Would you like a little help activating this decision? Okay, here’s something I prepared for myself, and am happy to share with you. Repeat the following words now, and as often as you feel the need or desire:

I am more than how I feel right now.
I am more than the beauty and ugliness
I have created before this moment.
I have all that is necessary to harness love’s energy,
wherever my feet may carry me.
I decide now to burn and shine
for that great and simple cause —> LOVE.
And when I make a mess and reflect imperfection,
I will cleanse and forgive myself,
and continue.  Because love, like life, persists.


Like it?  Share it.  Thank you.

Happy birthday, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi!

October 2, 2011

[Prefer to listen?  Click the player below.]

My personal email signature is this potent Gandhi quote:

“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.”

He is a mentor, teacher and wayshower to many peacemakers, and I am a better being because of his legacy.

The excerpt below comes from a column I wrote for Mindful Metropolis.  I dedicate it to Gandhi’s mountain-moving memory:

We are not mass-produced like an IKEA lamp
or a pair of Lululemon yoga pants.
We are designed so uniquely as to be
like no other.  Yet so similarly as to all spring
from the same womb-lineage.

We are breathing paradoxes that way.
Full of complexity, contrast, contempt
and compassion.  Let all that do its thing,
like wine in a vat.  Aging, bubbling,
fermenting into something intoxicating.
Full of flavor.  Broken open because we
didn’t take our precious self so seriously.

Sure, we’re different.
Like a cloud is different from the Sun.
But do you see them quibbling,
judging, suspecting, attacking?
They just share the sky,
and get along rather nicely.
Birds, too.  And rainbows, and stars
and the Moon.  There’s quite a lot
of diversity overhead, now that I think about it.
Peacefully co-existing all this time.

Whoever you love, whoever you worship;
However you vote, however you get around;
Whatever you eat, whatever you earn, whatever you believe;
Wherever you came from, wherever you lay your head;
Whenever you found yourself, whenever you lost your way;
I esteem you as high as the peace-filled sky,
because in the Grandest Scheme,
there really is no difference.
And in the Lesser Scheme,
the distinction is Divine.


My iPhone brought me closer to the Sun.

September 15, 2011

(Click play to listen.)

I suspect many years of smartphone usage has had some affect on the way my brain receives and integrates information.  You know, that whole neuroplasticity thing.

Words and images.  Concepts and questions.  Thrills, tears, discoveries and other Gifts of Life, all whirling around in my bio-miraculous container.  Thanks to my iPhone, global connectivity is almost always in my palm or in my purse.  And in those rare, rural instances when a signal is not accessible, I still have functions available that are essential to a Techno-Nature-Mystic-Artist who values tools that help me behold beauty; digital tools like VoiceMemo and a camera to capture still and moving images.

On a recent backpacking trip with my dear friend Jacquelyn in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park, there would be no outlets or electricity with which to charge my phone.  And for the reasons stated above, I was motivated to find an alternative.  Sure enough, there was one:  Goal Zero’s Nomad 7, a foldable solar panel for charging handheld devices.

Three nights and four days in wilderness helped me pay attention to things normally so routine I pay them no mind.  Things like:

  1. How much garbage do I produce each day?
  2. How much waste do I produce each day?
  3. How much water do I drink and clean with each day?
  4. How much electricity do I rely upon each day?

That fourth question opened my eyes to my relationship with energy.  I live in a high-rise condominium with no solar panels.  My reliance upon modern conveniences is still very much plugged in to traditional grids and fossil-fueled sources.  But seeing my iPhone charged by the Sun did something to me.

The Sun, which democratically and freely shines on All, has more than enough energizing power to sustain our lives’ needs…  without provoking biospheric damage, inequity or resource-based war.  So why isn’t the world solar-paneled and retro-fitted tip to tail?  Is it not mass insanity, permitted by ignorance or apathy?  Co-signed by passivity?

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

  • Does solar activism make sense to you?  Get involved here.
  • “Old bottle + water + Sun = LIGHT.”  (Thanks, NextWorldTV!)  Wanna see some radical innovation?  Click here.
  • Ever wonder about backpacking and diversity?  I wrote some thoughts about it in this month’s Mindful Metropolis here.

As a species, we are changing.

August 11, 2011

Are you more inclined to focus on the London riots or the London clean-ups?

That’s the interesting thing about humans… we’re capable of doing and focusing on either.

It’s all choice. 

I choose to use the internet to get and share positive, stimulating ideas.

For instance, did you know that Costa Rica — a very wise country, presided by a woman — was the first (among 20 others) to formally abolish their military forces?  They did so in 1949.  What kind of people behave like that?  Who has the nerve to feel safe without armed forces?

Culture claims we’ve been designed for greed and war… that we’re only human, just a hair above wild animals — predatory and territorial.  How do we not use those statements as excuses to stay low?  How do we dare to do as Costa Rica has already done, and stop equating war with patriotism… accepting it as an inevitable reality?

We choose to spend more on organized violent conflict than we do on education and civic flourishing.  Innovating, forgiving, blessing, sharing and peacemaking are the most powerful explosions we can make.

As a species, we are changing.  We’re not just making riots.  We’re cleaning them up, too.  Time to tip the scales.


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