Encountering Orchids & Poetry Where You Least Expect Them

On the outskirts of a small town in the south of Colombia
We were invited to Jose Raul’s garden
(He is a smiling security guard at my sister-in-law’s place)
We walked in to his family’s humble abode
Greeted by dogs, kids, a bunny and a cup of homemade blackberry wine from his lovely wife
He has over 200 species of orchids growing there in a tiny greenhouse
Some microscopic, some medium, some large
One that only blooms once every six years
He’s also a poet, with two published books to boot
Jose Raul the smiling security guard, the hospitable botanist, the published poet
Thank you for showing me your flowers and poems
Thank you for reminding me to drop expectations
Thank you for reminding me not to judge a book by its cover
Thank you
Mil gracias

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10 Simple Habits for Greater Happiness & Health

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(Read the full, fancy version here.)

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Everybody wants happiness and health, right? Health and happiness are freedom. Love is freedom. When we are happy and healthy, we are more able to freely give and receive love.

In my own personal experience, these habits have helped increase my level of health and happiness. None of these are things I set out to do. None were New Year’s resolutions. They have just gradually happened over the years, and looking back, I am so grateful.

Here they are, in no particular order (although perhaps number 10 is the most important of all):

1. Quit reading magazines.

2. Quit wearing cosmetics.

3. Quit shaving.

4. Quit shopping excessively.

5. Quit watching TV.

6. Quit being connected online 24/7.

7. Quit eating crap.

8. Quit filling your life with busyness.

“Let go of what has passed. Let go of what may come. Let go of what is happening now. Don’t try to figure anything out. Don’t try to make anything happen. Relax, right now, and rest.” ~ Tilopa

9. Quit being too sedentary.

Exercise without joining a gym. Get more fresh air. Walk more, drive less. Bike. Hike. Swim. Be active, energetic, playful. Do yoga. Play sports. Be less of a couch potato.

10. Be yourself.

Study yourself. Be who you are. Know that you are whole. Be your own best friend. Love you. (Mean it.)

“Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself—and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to—letting a person be what he really is.”

~ Jim Morrison

I wonder what if…

I wonder what if everybody got 100% in every subject?

I wonder what if schools evolved into open, natural learning communities?

I wonder what if assessments were self-reflections instead of tests?

I wonder what if we would all start being kinder, more loving, and more compassionate to all beings including ourselves?

I wonder what if everybody got unschooled?

I wonder what if education really could be the key to peace and enlightenment on the planet?

I wonder what would happen if everybody could live their dream, pursue their passion and live a fascinated life?

I wonder what if everybody served and benefited everybody else just a little bit more?

I wonder what if we uproot the whole system and plant a whole bunch of new seeds?

I wonder what if schoolhouses became meditation centers, yoga studios, writing retreats, libraries of wisdom?

I wonder what it would be like if anyone could walk into any classroom at any time and start learning about anything they want in any way they want (whether alone or with a partner or in a group)?

I wonder what if there’s actually no such thing as Special Education, and in fact all education is (and should be) Special.

I wonder what if, acting mindfully together as a global society with this whole new paradigm of education, we actually can change the world for the better?

(What are you wondering, I wonder?)

Transmormon: Radical Self-Acceptance Embodied in 15 Minutes {Stunning Documentary}

“Clearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart, is what I call Radical Acceptance.

If we are holding back from any part of our experience, if our heart shuts out any part of who we are and what we feel, we are fueling the fears and feelings of separation that sustain the trance of unworthiness.”

~ Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Sometimes, I hate myself.

Sometimes, I hate my husband. Sometimes, I hate my daughter. Sometimes, I hate my mother. Or, perhaps better said—sometimes I get so frustrated/irritated/angry/upset and judgmental with myself and/or others that a strong feeling of aversion, disgust, dislike or even “hate” arises in my mind.

I am in my mid-thirties, a yogini, a teacher, a supposedly mindful meditator, a peacemaker… And yet this despicable phenomenon still occurs.

It happens less and less, the more mindful and aware and compassionate I am, but it still happens.

This self-denigrating cycle is more frequent and vicious for adolescents and teens.

Especially those in oppressed minority groups. Because when we are are young and inexperienced, we don’t realize that things will change, that we can love ourselves—our minds and hearts and bodies—just as we are in this moment. That we are already, always, enough. That “it gets better.”

Eri Hayward was born as a Japanese-American boy named Eddie and raised in a conservative Mormon community in Utah, attending the Church of Latter-Day Saints and a Mormon private school. From a young age, he knew he wanted to be a girl. Or, perhaps better stated, she knew she was really meant to be a woman.

Because of her family’s chosen religion and lifestyle, Eri was sheltered from the existence of homosexuality throughout childhood and unaware that she is actually transgender until reaching young adulthood. Documentary filmmaker Torben Bernhard met Eri and her family and filmed this footage and these candid interviews with her and her parents a few days before she traveled to Thailand for sexual reassignment surgery.

Watch, enjoy and be moved.

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