Dancing Among Angels On Earth

Sparkly RachelThis past week I attended Fabienne Fredrickson’s Mindset Retreat in Ft Lauderdale, FL. The event was part of her yearlong Boldheart Academy program that is designed to help small businesses and entrepreneurs grow their businesses. The Mindset Retreat was focused not just on work but on all facets of life and how to conquer limiting beliefs that hold us back from taking actions and getting what we want. The content of the program was very helpful and very empowering. And the people in attendance—well, they are some of the most magnificent people I’ve met! Together we danced an awful lot and found ways to get into our personal place of power as we tackled some really difficult personal development stuff (check out my post on finding your own personal power). It is so easy to get stuck in the muck that holds us back from doing things in life to reach our big goals. In our working sessions we thoroughly articulated what we want from life and then committed to taking action. Much of moving through limiting beliefs requires taking leaps of faith as we go for what we truly want to accomplish. So it is not surprising that the type of people who are attracted to the mindset program are very spiritual and very loving, kind and open. So every day of the retreat I felt like I was dancing among angels on earth!

Angels on earthMany of the people I met are involved in light work such as life coaches, spiritual coaches, health coaches, angel practitioners, massage therapists, psychologists, professional organizers, musicians and artists. And there were also doctors, nurses, construction contractors, authors, and many other areas that aren’t typically associated with the spiritually inclined. But I can tell you that they were all very angelic beings! They opened their hearts and shared their passions for creating their own awesome lives while being of service to others so that their clients can create their own awesome lives. What a very motivating and positive energy group of people to be around! I learned so much from each person I talked to because we didn’t stop with simple pleasantries of introductions. In our conversations we went deep into why we do what we do and what we are striving to accomplish in our lives.

Marrying Susan and KevinOne of the best parts of my getting involved in the coaching movement way back in 2001 has been the amazing people I have been honored to get to know. Over the years I have met so many talented coaches and people in other professions who are very warm and kind and also extremely dedicated to making changes in the world. They are not afraid to speak frankly about what they are passionate about and in general tend to be passionate about a number of different things. They are multi-passionate like me. And they are highly spiritual—not necessarily religious. I suppose that it isn’t surprising that I was drawn to also become a celebrant a few years ago because that training and the practice of marrying couples allowed me to make ceremony and honoring of passages in life a big part of my why. And I met other celebrants who also tend to be very giving and generous souls in the world. I am sure that if I called any of them angels to their faces they would smile from ear to ear and exude their natural sparkly brilliance.

What I have been finding to be true for me more and more each day is that I cannot hold back from publicly sharing—through my blogs—how I look at the world. Whether in this Love Beauty Peace blog, my Wondrance Coaching blog, my past Magical Moment Mondays (that I will be bringing back soon in a new form), or my Wedding Wednesdays and Flower Fridays blog, I am constantly outing myself in terms of how I view life. Although I am not religious and rarely directly discuss my spiritual perspective of life, I identify with the angelic realm because it speaks to seeing the natural and brilliant beauty in everything surrounding me: flora, fauna, trees, clouds and people. Every moment is magical when you allow yourself to feel the wonder and joy of existence. I believe that owning and taking responsibly for creating your own magical life is critical to change the world. And I believe that it is happening for so many people already and will keep spreading. As we all become angels on earth, dancing and creating joy and sharing our unique and brilliant talents, we will experience personal abundance and proliferate peace.

xoxo Rachel

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A Feminist Since Birth

WageThis past Sunday I attended a meeting of WAGE International (Women and Girls’ Education International) and I was so very inspired by the experience. I was invited to the meeting after I had been asked by their president Heather Mistretta and agreed to become a board member. I didn’t hesitate an instant to say, “Yes!” even though I didn’t really know that much about their group.

WAGE is committed to empowering women and girls and educating everyone to stop the cycle of violence against women and girls. Stepping into the home of WAGE’s founder Rekha Datta on Sunday afternoon was a leap of faith, given how little I knew about WAGE. But as we gathered and introduced ourselves to each other, I knew that I was in the right place. Sitting around the living room of our host’s house, I was struck by all the amazing people who were drawn together for a mutual cause. Rekha’s husband introduced himself by saying that he was “a feminist since birth.” That is such a wonderful way to put it, I thought. I, too, am indeed a feminist since birth, fortunate to have been raised by my thoughtful and loving parents in such an unusual and peace-loving town of Roosevelt, New Jersey.

Attending the WAGE meeting was coming home. Coming home to feminism, coming home to peace, coming home to activism and finally coming home to New Jersey. WAGE is headquartered in Monmouth County, NJ, about 2 hours away from my current home in New York. My hometown of Roosevelt where I grew up is also in Monmouth County. And Roosevelt was a town filled with activists in the 60s and 70s. I am grateful that I grew up there and was exposed to so many forward thinking and creative individuals.

Throughout my life, I have been committed to empowerment of women and girls though I hadn’t fully strung together all the links of my passion and experience until yesterday morning. While I was in meditation with my Wednesday morning group at The Garrison Institute, immense emotion arose in me as memories of the feminist and activist work I have done over the years came flooding over me.

My peace jewelryAs a child, I attended peace marches in DC along with my family, traveling by chartered buses filled with all ages of Rooseveltians. My brother and I were little-kid activists: children’s equality, and recycling (see Gnilcycer: Recycling In Roosevelt, New Jersey) where our main areas of focus. And of course, feminism was ingrained in me. My mom was a beautiful feminist role model, striving for equal rights. She also subscribed to Ms. Magazine from its inception and I remember fondly how much I loved reading each issue when it arrived in the mail.

Equality and peace are closely connected so I suppose it isn’t surprising that working with WAGE to educate and empower and promote peace is a good match for my passions. I have had opportunities throughout my life to contribute to causes that help women and girls. My entire business career I was always very focused on helping to support and promote women in my company and mentored women as well as men to be empowered to be themselves and strive for greatness in their work. Along the way I also took time away from the corporate world and did some powerful work with girls and boys.

Although I have been living in New York for most of my adult life, I have been drawn to groups that are all over the country. As part of a yearlong leadership program that met in Sebastopol, California, I developed and held a workshop for boys and girls at a summer camp in Yosemite, CA. I remember that day so well. I flew from New York into Oakland, CA and drove for over an hour to the camp to hold the workshop with my co-leader Angela.

Angela and I were deliberately paired because our leadership styles were very different and one goal of the amazing leadership training was learning how to dance with and co-lead when your partner has a different natural style. This is such a gift of learning for life because we encounter so many people who have different backgrounds, talents and experiences from our own. We need to realize that other perspectives and approaches are neither the right nor wrong way. Learning how to lean into a different way of working with someone is a peaceful act. It is accepting colleagues for all that they are and working towards navigating differences with ease. It is about learning to trust each other no matter that we have different ways. What a great learning for me and also what a great experience leading a group of boys and girls from that peaceful stance.

Rach and MomPart of the tenets of my co-leading training was learning how to use improvisational techniques to build off of another person. I loved doing the improvisational games over the year training and became so enamored with improv that I took a summer course at The Upright Citizen’s Brigade in NYC. One of the main reasons I love to write and speak is that I enjoy creating with language. Improv training gave me an invaluable tool to create off the cuff, something I draw upon all the time for writing and giving presentations.

Improv also allows for playfulness and creating from nothing. The flow and spontaneity I feel when using language to convey my thoughts and feelings fills me with such joy. And it makes me feel so empowered. So I had a thought. What if I can connect my love of improv and my sense that it is such an empowering skill with my passion of empowering girls? I decided to seek out organizations that did just that and discovered a wonderful group, called ACTNOW in Northampton, Massachusetts near Smith, Amherst and Mt Holyoke Colleges. I met with their organizer, Nancy Fletcher and volunteered to do some work with them. They use movie making and improvisation to empower girls. The girls take on any one of the many roles needed to create a film including writing, directing, camera work, acting and editing. Although ACTNOW was closer than my groups in California, it was a three-hour drive from my home in New York. I only worked with them for a short time, yet I have fond memories of the amazing girls and that organization.

And so it turns out that it isn’t uncommon for me to travel far in order to participate in activities designed to empower girls. I will travel over the country in search of groups of people who share my passion for women, girls, empowerment and peace. And though I have dabbled here and there, I wonder where my need to help empower women will take me next. I am excited about what lies ahead with WAGE International, and I know that this organization is a catalyst for me to further experience how I can promote feminism, love and peace in the world. I am grateful that they have found me and I them.

XOXO Rachel

Cloud hopping

Clouds to skip over the Hudson Valley RiverToday is a perfect day for cloud hopping.  What, you ask, is that?  Well, I have a particular proclivity to daydream in the clouds.  I like to look up on a day when there are puffs of cotton ball clouds that dot the blue sky.  I imagine myself leaping from cloud to cloud, landing in a soft and springy embrace in the next cloud.  I might bound from a low cloud and vault up to a higher one, or take a long lead and jump a great distance between clouds that are far apart.  Mostly I hurdle like a dancer leaps, one leg stretched out in front of the other; a jeté.  Rarely do I jump with two feet together.  Sometimes I soar from cloud to cloud in one long stretch as if I were playing checkers and jumping over 10 pieces in one successive move.

California wine country-style cloud hoppingMy favorite days for cloud tripping are breezy days when the clouds are moving with a moderate to brisk pace so that I can vary which cloud I go to next based on what is floating nearest.  A few weeks ago, Andy and I were working in the garden on such a day and it took a great deal of restraint for me to focus on the gardening task at hand and not go cloud hopping.  I did manage to squeeze some jumps in when I took a break to lie down on the grass and stretch my back (the gardening work was intense!).

Flying is something that I have been doing since I was a little girl.  My first early experience was at night in my dreams.  Probably due to watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks, I began my treks in the sky on my four-post bed as a child.  In the movie, the children go on adventures on a magical brass bed with their caretaker (who is a witch).  I went on my own adventures as I flew my bed way above my New Jersey hometown.  Mainly I would just watch the goings on from above.  I still love to go up high into the sky and watch the world and I have had those floating dreams many, many times over the years beyond childhood.

Driving along a New Mexico highway - Cloud hopping along the wayAnother media impact on my (you might say unusual, I say wonderful) flight behavior was the TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  As a little girl, I have a very distinct memory, one that seemed real even when I was old enough to know it wasn’t, of looking out my bedroom window into the sky and seeing Santa and his sled with Rudolph at the front.  I determined when I was a bit older that the angle of Santa’s flight that I saw was exactly what occurs in the very last frames of the animated special.  My lifelong fascination with the sky and memories of my night flight adventures are very dear to me.

Day skipping in the clouds, conducted while awake, is very calming to me and something I am happy to do anytime.  It’s a form of daydreaming so not surprisingly, the clouds can be very distracting, even as I sit here and write.  My desk is in front of a large window and I have a great view above our tree line of a piece of neighboring mountain and best of all, the sky.  I might be in the middle of a sentence when a cloud catches my eye and I decide to go on an adventure in my mind – and in the heavens.

Cloud hopping on a Hawaiian sunsetBut cloud hopping is also very useful and productive.  Because of the meditative quality of the experience, I often solve problems or just become more relaxed when I am way up there.  If something is upsetting me and I am lucky to have the right conditions in the sky, I do a little bouncing from puff to puff and whatever was bothering me becomes less important.  Or I suddenly have clarity and make a decision that is authentic, based on my gut knowledge of what is best for me.  Like the time just a few years ago when I was on a bus in Florida and the sky was particularly splendid in deep blues and puffy pristine clouds.  I realized during that 15-minute bus ride between the media conference and the hotel that I was done with my corporate gig.  I immediately began my serious plans to leave.  The clouds served me so well that day because now I am happy as a child, floating above the sky and doing my own creative work.

At peace with others…yet with fear

I am reminded by the book, “The Anatomy of Peace” that the first step to making long lasting peace with anyone is to first get into a place where I am, at my own heart, at peace.  What does it mean to be at peace?  Frequently when I feel anger to or from someone, I am really feeling fear, fear at how they will respond to me, fear that I cannot handle the anger that they send my way, fear that I will continue to hurt and ache like I am feeling in that moment.

So how do I transform that feeling to a peaceful state that will invite them to want to be with me, communicate with me, speak their own pain so that I can listen and learn and figure out how to be with them?  I like the perspective that it is not that we should rid ourselves of fear but rather learn to live with the fear.  Part of peace is being OK with fear, understanding it but not letting it take complete hold of you.  Letting the wave of butterflies go by, flitting and floating with colorful power, providing waves of deep feeling yet knowing that a feeling won’t kill you, but having no feeling will.

I experience a moment of fear frequently when I post a new blog entry because of what I have revealed about myself.  When I jump into something without looking, which I tend to do, I kind of like the whirl of adrenalin that makes me a bit faint and lightheaded.  It is a sign that I am alive, very human and probably doing something that, right or wrong, is taking me out of my comfort zone.  But how do I know if it is right or wrong?  I am not sure that there is a right or wrong per say.  If it were an action that was illegal or caused harm to others, yes I would say that is wrong, but if it means that I have revealed something about myself that might have consequences like loosing a job, or even loosing friends because I am revealing my own truth, then how can that be wrong?

Which brings me back to where I started – how do I be at peace with others who might not fully understand my perspective?  I must speak the truth from my heart and let others know what I want for me, for them and for the world.  I want peace and understanding of each other.  I want shared appreciation of our complex and wondrous human experience.

Jewelry and clothes of peace

I am realizing that to be true to who I am and where I fit in the world, I need to go back to my hippie beginnings.  A child of the 60s, my favorite memories and images are of family, friends and me involved in the peace movement.  Whether I was on a bus to a DC peace march that was chartered by my hometown or hanging out at home, I was clothed in peace signs.  My favorite outfit was a t-shirt mini dress that said “peace love peace love” in rows covering the entire dress.  And of course I had on my favorite peace sign headband made out of leather with a metal peace sign right in the middle.

I don’t have the dress or the headband anymore but I do have most of my peace-related jewelry including beautiful silver charm peace signs with and without flowers and one of my favorites, my peace dove.  “War is not healthy for children and other living things” states my emblem necklace.  The peace symbol is not just a sign of my desire for world understanding and communion, but it is an artistic expression of my deep need to be calm and soothed and at peace.  Enveloping myself in clothes and jewelry of peace is one way in which I am able to provide a cocoon of peace all around me wherever I am.