Won’t you be my Neighbor?

  
I recently read a book about Mister Rogers and I have since become charmed by this man and his legacy.  I grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood- it was a staple in my Canadian childhood, but as time passed, I moved on.  I probably thought I was too grown up, important or busy to watch a “kid’s show”. It was slow and predictable- exactly the opposite of everything else on TV.  Honesty, kindness, compassion and integrity are the values on which a quiet and authentic Minister built a community, aka the Neighborhood, for everyone. This resonates with me as I step into my role of parent, leader, friend, neighbor and in overwhelming times, the simplicity of his message acts as an anchor.   

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Maybe it’s having kids myself now, and remembering the things I enjoyed when I was younger, that brought me back to this icon. Lately, I’ve been seeing more about him, and each time I see that happy dependable face, it reminds me of the comfort and stability he offered for all those years.

So, Bean and I picked up the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood DVDs from the library and settled in to (binge)watch. I was immediately brought back to my own playroom when I was young.  The words to the songs, Make Believe land, and the calming presence of Mister Rogers himself had me feeling all gooey inside.  His earnestness, joy and mindfulness resonated with me; they comforted me. No rushing, no running, no busying from here to there. I seem to always have a project on the go, places to be, businesses to run, schedules to organize, errands to run, but now I’m reevaluating that.  I think my endless multitasking is adding, rather than subtracting to the chaos and distractions in my life.

And so, where were we? Oh yes, how easy it is to get distracted. 

As we watched Mister Rogers, I also watched my daughter.  I wondered, would she think this show was as sweet as I do? Would she think it was corny or dull? After all, she’s growing up surrounded with YouTube influencers, unlimited subscription services, reality TV and live streaming. But, you know what? She loved it.  Maybe it was a relief to slow down or refreshing to have a character talk TO her, rather than at her. To have things explained patiently and respectfully.

How can I take these lessons and apply them to be the best neighbor and ultimately, person I can be.
1. By going slower. Taking the time to do a task, and do it right. Being present in every moment and practicing patience with myself and others.   
2. Recognizing my feelings and accepting them. Giving them my attention rather than allowing them to overwhelm and frustrate me. Also, giving this same respect and attention to the feelings of other’s. 
3. By showing the love and acceptance that was so proudly modeled on this show, reminding us that everyone is worthwhile, that everyone has a special role to play in the neighborhood.
4. Living my life with honesty and integrity to my true self.  By letting my little light shine bright in the world, by literally being me, I can make the world a better place.
5. And of course, always looking dapper and having a pair of inside shoes handy to keep my feet warm.

Mister Rogers’ recognized that times were changing and his ability to speak and listen to children (let’s be real, to everyone really) was his gift to the world. His message, needed more than ever, was ahead of his time and won’t ever go out of date. Never wavering, Mister Rogers stood firm in his beliefs that all of humanity were neighbors, and that’s an idea that will never become old-fashioned.

Namaste and peace out Neighbors.   

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Love is the way. A plea to humanity

Today I feel so sad, so disheartened.  After another weekend of senseless loss and tragedy, I feel like the box to Pandora’s hell has been ripped apart.  I feel the fragility of humanity weighing me down.  The News gives me anxiety, the future scares me shitless.  I have kids and I wonder about the world they’ll be inheriting.  What will happen when I’m not there to shield them from the sorrow that seems so prevalent these days.  No matter how careful I am to protect myself from negative energy, it’s just always there.  My heart is breaking.  Yesterday I spent the day crying.  Thinking about the incredible loss of what seems to be everything- and I just couldn’t stop.  Maybe I’m naïve but it’s so plain to me.  It’s all about love guys.  That’s why we’re here: to love each other. To accept, acknowledge, appreciate, support and LOVE each other.

What in the heck is happening out there that we’re making it so damn complicated?  I’m sick of worrying about hate, injustice and grief.  Humanity is so beautiful with it’s endless rainbow of colours, voices, ideas and possibility.  What greater gift could you ever need? Life, nature, opportunity. It makes my heart swell when I think of it- but then it shrinks right back down.  Afraid of what we can lose (there’s a a lot at stake). Climate change, presidents and dictators, gunman and hatred- it’s got me all tied up in knots.  “What can I do?” I ask myself, pulled and tempted down a narcissistic path of pity, fear and paranoia.

It’s not like I don’t know, in a cliche sort of way, that life has it’s share of hardships for everyone.  But experiencing them, personally living through and playing witness to them, well that’s when it gets hard.  That’s when it gets painful and messy.  And yet through pain comes some of our biggest learning and aha moments.  Some of our most profound personal growth.  Pain is part of beauty- inside all the hurt, love is beauty and pain.  It’s so clear, but somehow, along way, the message has gotten muddied.

We have to clean up our acts (literally). We have to do better.  Better connecting, encouraging and loving on one another. Beauty and joy are all around- we just have to choose to see it.  Be aware of the daily miracles and send that frequency of positivity out to the universe.  The good is there. It will always be there, we just have to make sure we never lose sight of it.  Tune into the small moments in your life- those are what make up a lifetime.  Cherish those little gifts- it’s a present from the universe.  Love is everywhere.  It’s in my daughter’s laughter when she plays with her daddy, it’s the gleam of mischief in my son’s eyes when he knows he’s taking a risk, but that we will be there to catch him, to love him, no matter what.

Now here’s my plea: We must take this beauty, this fire, this promise of a better day, (a better way) and turn it into an evolution of growth, respect, peace and acceptance.  That little light of goodness is burning inside us all.  Take that light and beam it out onto the universe, care-bear style.  Together, we can make an endless rainbow of magic, light and community shining out for eternity, pushing back the dark, made stronger by love.

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I Heart-Chakra You! A Tale of Unconditional Friendship

While out for an impromptu brunch with some of my oldest friends, I looked around the table and saw the faces of three of the most caring and genuine women in my life.  We’ve been causing trouble and bailing each other out through good times and bad, together since our primary grades.  Through all of life’s moments, from surprises, losses, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, families, arguments, advice-giving and ass kicking, we’ve been through it all.  Across countries, road trips, hang overs, rule breaking, tears, laughter: you name it, these girls have been with me every step of the way. We’ve held each other’s hands and raged together through some of life’s most agonizing and mysterious moments.  We’ve been there to build each other up and in all honesty, there for some of the tearing down.  And no matter what, we’ve said: “it’s ok. I’m here- I’ve got you.”  And it’s always been true.

On the drive home from brunch, a scene from Sex and the City, one of my fave shows of all time came to mind.  In it, Charlotte turns to her girl group and suggests that they be soulmates.  And without sounding cheesy, her words settled in my heart.  I mean, not only has this friendship stood the test of time, it really is worthy of a sitcom.  Every dramatic, gory, embarrassing and touching detail, we’ve got it covered. These women have truly become my soulmates. Through thick and thin (sometimes that’s our waist sizes), we’ve held each other up, motivated, encouraged, supported and loved.  I can’t think of a better definition of true friendship.

So what does this have to do with the chakras?  A chakra is an energy centre in the body and can be imagined almost as a swirling wheel. This invisible energy is an important life force that keeps us vibrant, healthy, and feeling alive.  The heart chakra itself, represents love, joy and compassion and is located in the chest at the heart level. In Sanskit, it’s pronounced Anahata which literally means “unhurt”.  Anahata moves love through our lives. It’s our sense of caring, feelings of self-love, empathy, kindness and community.

In essence, this friendship is like a heart chakra to me: a living, breathing, changing force of energy, love and positivity that flows through my life.  With it, bringing nourishment for my soul, healing for my hurt, gratitude for my blessings and an unconditional friendship like none other.

Here’s some pictures of us through the years… It was harder to find pics of us when we were really young, but these ones stretch back at least 20 years.  Pretty incredible when you stop to think about. Pretty incredibly blessed. ♥

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Jammin’ in Jamaica: A playlist for world peace

I’m back from an incredible vacation in Jamaica, where the air feels cleaner, life isn’t such a rush and the grass seems a little bit “greener.” After a gorgeous week of ocean gazing, soul searching and absolute gratitude, I feel inspired. Inspired to spread love, tolerance, acceptance and peace.  I went with the intention of powering down my devices and leveling up my positive vibes and came home with a renewed sense of activism and responsibility.   Jamaica: Breathing life into me at every turn, reminding me to be a warrior and not a worrier and that “everyting is irie.”

With my ipod loaded with music, I practiced every morning on my patio overlooking the ocean.  I’ve always felt a connection to the water but waking up bright and early, to flow with her left me feeling so blessed- almost as though the ocean and  I shared a sort of intimacy.  It was magical! After, I’d head down to the beach feeling the waves of gratitude washing over me.  This life: it’s such a gift!

 

There’s so much going on in the world right now, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me scared. Looking out at the majesty of the ocean I realized it’s up to ME to change the world I’m in.   As yoga teaches us, we become stronger in times of crisis.  We must move through the fire and fear to get to the other side- it’s these challenges, obstacles and darkness that refine our true characteristics of love, leadership and light.

With my ear buds in and a rocking playlist, I thought about that.

Here’s some of the tunes and lyrics from my playlist that spoke to me (and of which, I sang out loud. Ask my hubby, it’s the truth.)

*Melissa Etheridge: I Need to Wake Up I am not an island, I am not alone, I am my intentions, Trapped here in this flesh and bone, And I need to move, I need to wake up, I need to change, I need to shake up, I need to speak out. Something’s got to break up, I’ve been asleep and I need to wake up. Now.
*Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life, it’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference, gonna make it right . . . I’m starting with the man in
the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways and no message could have been any clearer, if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.

*Bill Withers: Lean On Me Lean on me, when you’re not strong, And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on, For it won’t be long, ‘Til I’m gonna need, Somebody to lean on.
*Sly & The Family Stone: Everyday People Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong, My own beliefs are in my song…I am no better and neither are you, We are the same whatever we do, I am everyday people. 
*NEEDTOBREATHE: More Heart, Less Attack The more you take the less you have ‘Cause it’s you in the mirror staring back, Quick to let go slow to react, Be more heart and less attack
*Steve Gold: There is So Much Magnificence in the Ocean There is so much magnificence,
Near the ocean, Waves are coming in, Waves are coming in, Halleluja

*Matisyahu: Sunshine Time to grow and be a man, Want to fly high like peter pan, No more never never land, So lose your backpack filled with sand, Come along and take my hand, We’ll walk together
*Jeremy Fisher: Come Fly Away I’m feeling restless but I’m tired, Don’t want to leave but I can’t stay, You and me need something more, It’s time to spread our wings and go
*Bob Marley: One Love One love, one heart, Let’s get together and feel all right. I’m pleading to mankind, Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right, Let’s get together and feel all right.

These lyrics may all be different, the sounds of the songs moving to a different rhythm or beat (kinda like mankind) and they all fueled a fire in me. Telling me: Who am I turn my head in a time where ordinary people can rise up and show the world a better way.  Sure it’s scary.  But I know I owe it to my kids, future generations and to myself, to speak up. To be an activist. To be the change.  Perhaps all this turmoil and angst is showing us the path to an even sunnier and beautiful tomorrow? Where our true colors, inside and out, shine like beams of light igniting a future of love and abundance for everyone.

Like my nail polish? It’s called “Something to Blog About” so I thought it was totally appropriate.
I obviously had Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About” on my playlist too!