Life is a Celebration (Thank you, Terry!)

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I was 21 years old when I made New York City my home. I thought I was only there for a season or two, but I ended up staying for nearly 2 decades. With each passing year, my former life in California faded away. Out of necessity and a series of synchronistic events, I created a tight-knit family made up of close friends. They supported my wacky art phases, celebrated my accomplishments, and helped me when I was down. They were there for me during the whole journey, no matter what the current juncture or unorthodox path was.

As I look back, it’s hard to believe some of the things that happened. Some really amazing adventures! Some I would be extremely lucky to re-live and others I nauseously cringe just thinking about. There was always something happening, always something to explore, always a new opportunity for growth. No doubt about it, my formative years happened in NYC. Whatever I missed as a youth (and it was a lot!), I had to quickly learn as an adult. I truly am what I am (as a mind/personality/character) because of the corporealizing experiences I had and powerful friendships I participated in during that time.

Out of those friendships, there is like a family-tree hierarchy type order. A better way to describe it is, like a triangle with a select few at the peak. These are the friends that really went to bat for me (I mean really-really, like “are you serious?!” really). The gnarly Mount Everest of friendship! It’s an amazing few that befriended me beyond my wildest dreams — and still do. I’m continuously amazed at the level of loving dedication and outstanding altruism.

I would like to honor one of those friends today. December 4th is the birthday of a very special ‘triangle peak’ friend. My forever soul-friend, Terry. I literally sit here speechless, taking a deep breath, exhaling, unable to express my love for him as a human being. No formation of words would describe or match what I have in my heart. I can only say I feel indebted to him, and I’ve learned so much from him.

…Oh. Wait. I spoke too soon, more words are coming…

I remember telling him that I felt my life was my art, that there wasn’t a need to make tangible art anymore, because my life is my most risky and creative expression. To me, when I think of that statement, it pales next to what I think Terry’s life is. I’m not sure if he would consider it art, but I know for sure he would consider it a celebration. Terry is a walking party! :) He loves people. He loves play. He lives for connection and contribution. He has taught me so much in that regard. You really have to meet him in order to fully grasp what I am trying to express. I’ve seen Terry connect to people in a way that is mind blowing. I don’t mean people that he’s familiar with, I mean absolute strangers. His unwavering generosity and child-like openness is unparalleled to anything I’ve ever seen. I literally watch him interact with people and I stand there in awe.

My life has been interesting, I’ve met some interesting people and lived through some interesting moments. But there are certain people or interactions that feel cosmic or predestined. That’s how I feel about my relationship to Terry. Like some Great Wizard in the sky orchestrated our friendship and placed everything just so. Like our paths were meant to cross and we were meant to influence each other. We were meant to help each other through the decades. I can’t imagine my life without Terry. I also can’t imagine the world without Terry. It would be like a joyous moment without a smile, or a group cheer without a sound. It simply wouldn’t be as fun.

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Rob Bell: Love, Freedom & Surrender

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“Love is giving up control. It’s surrendering the desire to control the other person. The two—love and controlling power over the other person—are mutually exclusive. If we are serious about loving someone, we have to surrender all the desires within us to manipulate the relationship.”

“Freedom is not having everything we crave, it’s being able to go without the things we crave and being OK with it. ”

“Far too often, we don’t start because we can’t get our minds around the entire thing. We don’t take the first step because we can’t figure out the seventeenth step. But you don’t have to know the seventeenth step. You only have to know the first step. Because the first number is always 1. Start with 1.”

“Because with every action, comment, conversation, we have the choice to invite Heaven or Hell to Earth.”

“It’s all—let’s use a very specific word here—miraculous. You, me, love, quarks, sex, chocolate, the speed of light—it’s all miraculous, and it always has been.”

“Why blame the dark for being dark? It is far more helpful to ask why the light isn’t as bright as it could be.”

All quotes by Rob Bell

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What would it be like?

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The thought of sitting awkwardly at a table, in front of an array of Thanksgiving dishes that people overspent on, stressed about and labored over unnecessarily — it sounds about as appetizing as… It basically makes me cringe just thinking about it. It doesn’t sound appealing at all. And to make matters worse, the thought of 45 million turkeys being killed for a one day celebration of American gluttony and TV watching? No thanks. I’ll pass. I’m totally onboard with the idea of gratitude and giving thanks. I’m all for that, every day of the week, or even making a national holiday of it. I just don’t think that’s what Thanksgiving is. And if Thanksgiving is about family & friends, and being thankful for abundance, isn’t there a wiser and more sustainable way we can honor life and its blessings? How about a nature walk with those we love? Let’s all meet at the beach (forest, canyon, or city park) and enjoy the fresh air and energy moving through our bodies. Instead of rubbing our bellies in front of a movie or TV, how about we make eye-contact and play a game? Let’s actually create something together. How about, instead of wasting money on excess food and holiday decorations we don’t need, how about we donate that money to an animal rescue facility or local homeless shelter?

I’m getting older, and the older I get the more I see the automatic ways of our culture. We can complain about the recent presidential election (or the status of the economy) all we want. But the truth is, it’s a reflection of the collective consciousness of U.S. Americans. We are a culture that LOVES to waste. We love to waste our natural resources, we love to waste our time, and we love to waste our brain power. Most of us are eager to seek distractions, eager to follow trends, and eager to fit in. And we know it! Yet we act like we don’t, because to own up would mean we have to take personal responsibility. What would life be like if individually we decided to be more resourceful, more creative and more accountable? Is it possible that collectively we could change the world for the better? It’s worthy of an experiment. Let’s look at how we spend our lives (or the lives we take or harm in excess out of habit/cultural norms). Let’s liberate ourselves (and all living beings — let’t not forget, we are symbiotic). Let’s design new celebrations, new ways of honoring each other and new ways of giving thanks.

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Stephen Mitchell: The Way

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“What we are tempted to call a disaster is sometimes the first, painful stage of a blessing.”

“Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself.”

“Happily ever after doesn’t begin with Once upon a time: it begins with Now.”

“When there’s no way out, you just follow the way in front of you.”

“Can you love people and lead them, without imposing your will?”

“Yielding is the way of the Tao.”

All quotes by Stephen Mitchell

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Kyle Krieger: Surrender and Win

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Photo credit: Kyle Krieger Instagram @kylekriegerhair

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Danielle LaPorte: Finding Your Life Purpose

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Questions and quotes from Danielle LaPorte‘s book titled Fire Starter Sessions.

When do you feel ahh-maz-ing?

What makes you ring?!

What activities cause you to feel useful, vital, better than before?

When do you have that “there’s more where that came from” feeling?

What feels so good and so easy to give, that you give it generously?

What do you do the best — that gives you a rush while you’re doing it?

If you could go to five conferences or events this year, which ones would you go to? What would they be about?

What could you talk about late into the night with like-minded people, without running out of things to say?

What do you want to be known for?

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So many people are looking for it: their Big Life Purpose.

Becoming you is your purpose.

You are the very purpose of your existence. Realizing what lights your fire and floats your boat — that’s your life purpose. What else could it be?

It gives you a true joy (not the seemingly happy high that is fleeting, but the reliable, always-there kind of satisfaction) to rock that guitar, to make people laugh, to discover the world, to make things a little more beautiful wherever you go, to feed, to stir it up, to clean it up, to execute the plan, to bank the cash, to be a compassionate citizen, to explore nonstop, or purely to seek pleasure… then, that’s your life purpose!

Your life purpose is what you say it is.

Who could tell you otherwise?

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“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” -Aristotle

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” -Saint Thomas

“Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Live Your Dream

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October 23, 2016 · 3:03 am