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Archive for May, 2009

Peace – There’s an App for That

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Peace - There's An App for That

Peace - There's An App for That

“Do you want to identify a bird? There’s an app for that.” “Do you need to find a pizza place in Brooklyn? There’s an app for that.” “Do you want to find the place with the best surfing conditions? There’s an app for that.”After watching so many commercials about the iPhone, I have come to realize that they have over 35,000 applications (app). There’s an app for almost anything right at your finger tips.

This started my thinking about what other kind of apps could be added. What about having a peace app? What would a peace app look and feel like? What if just by hitting the peace app button, a whole screen opened up for us to fully experience peace? Perhaps that app already exists inside each of us and it is just a matter of accessing it.

There is an incredible CD, Celebrate Peace, by Snatam Kaur. This CD is about spreading hopeful messages about practicing and cultivating peace. Kaur talks about all of us sharing in the vision of witnessing peace everyday all around us. Kaur says, “Peace begins with choice, develops through practice, and spreads by example.” The question then becomes, are we willing to practice and share peace with one another? It starts with each person being peace. We can then see peace in each other.

Each of us can be the peace story. On a cold day in January 2003, an “old man” stands by the side of the road in upstate New York holding up a sign. The United States had just declared that we would go to war. And one man stood in bitter cold temperatures wrapped in a flannel shirt and wearing a winter cap with a sign that simply read – PEACE. That man was Pete Seeger. He has spent his lifetime teaching and living peace by cleaning up the Hudson River and singing songs of hope and peace. He just turned 90 years old this year and is still gathering folks to joyfully sing together. Seeger’s songs are about spreading peace and harmony throughout the world.

We can celebrate peace each and every day in small and big ways. We can speak kinder words – and listen to one another. We can practice peace in our everyday lives in how we spend time with one another, how we support one another, and how we collaborate with one another. Let’s celebrate every moment of peace. As Kaur says, “By celebrating peace, we acknowledge that it exists, call attention to it, unite around it, and inspire others to embrace it.”

Inside of us lives peace. Be peace. Live peace. Love peace. Give peace. Peace be with you – my peace I offer you. Offer each person you meet today your peace.

We are so much more than our technology – we are the human spirit.

Peace – There’s an app for that. Humanity.

This blog is dedicated to Pete Seeger for all his work and music that creates peaceful connections throughout the world.

Mary Anne

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Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Reverend Joyce Meyer tells a true story of “Do It Afraid.” The story is about Elizabeth Elliot, whose husband was killed, along with four other missionaries, in Ecuador. Elizabeth was devastated and said her life was controlled by fear. Every time she felt she was making progress and ready to minister again, her fear stopped her in her tracks. During a conversation about her devastating fear, a friend simply asked, “Why don’t you do it afraid?” Elizabeth listened and she did just that. Along with her friend Rachel, Elizabeth was able to return to Ecuador and minister again, including ministering to the very people who had killed their loved ones.

The first time I heard this line it was posed to me by my Life Coach, Paulette Rao. I was stuck in my own spiral of thoughts and hesitant to move forward. I had expressed how I wanted to make a bigger contribution in the world, but I was playing it safe. I told her I was scared of playing full out. Paulette’s response was, “Playing full out does mean being willing to look at the fear of breaking through instead of living with the feelings of playing small, safe. Playing safe is equivalent to not blowing air into that balloon you talked about for fear of pushing the edges out. Scary place—a place you’ve never been. It is a choice. Fear of failure or the pain of longing, regret, and resentment of not going for it. Playing safe –well, we know that pain.” Paulette then challenged me to, “Do it afraid.” She added, “Which is better – the pain of what you’re doing right now or the pain of breaking through?”

Every time I really show up in the world, I do it afraid. Every time I teach, facilitate a workshop, or lead a meditation, I do it afraid. I do it anyway. I imagine myself as I want to be in the world and I live from that place. I visualize how happy I am when speaking, listening, and holding space with others. I imagine asking myself how did I get through that really hard moment and what did I learn?

In her book, The Soul of Money, Lynn Twist interviews a woman held back by fear. She asked her what it was that got her through those first years of being able to create the opportunities for herself and her daughters. The woman responded, “I stopped letting fear stop me. I was afraid, but I did it anyway. I trusted myself.” This is the place I want to live from. I want to trust myself enough to always do it afraid.

Recently while teaching a weekend intensive, I retold Elizabeth Elliot’s story as a metaphor of how we can show up for ourselves. I reminded participants that we come to the circle alone, scared, worried, and often projecting our own insecurities, but we show up. I invited the participants, many of whom I have taught for three years, to do it afraid. Whatever the ‘it’ is, do it, live it, breathe it. You want to create a Peace Wall – do it. You want to paint in your studio and then create massive sculpture pieces – do it. You want to chant and sing, and drum – do it. Do it anyway. Do it despite yourself.

Playing small doesn’t serve anyone, but it feeds the fear voice. I notice when I am in fear, I edit myself and become silent. I find myself listening to the voice that says, “That’s the craziest idea I ever heard.” Or the one that says, “Who do you think you are?” When I share about my creative workshops/circles with other people, I might get ‘that look’ or stare or even a reply of a long OKAY. Right away my mind translates that to mean that I’m strange. Finally, I had the courage to ask someone what they meant by their “OK response” and they said they were not sure what I meant and were embarrassed to ask for more information. I could have given into the fear and thought I ought to be silent or I could play full out and ask for more.

My Life Coach Paulette was so on target about playing full out and recognized my emergence in the world. As she put it, “It is time for you to shine, to emerge, to play full out. It is time or it wouldn’t be keeping you up at night. It is time because every shred of evidence points at the value you create and I know you’re committed to continuing creating it.”

Eleanor Roosevelt taught this lesson as well many years ago when she said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I am ready to play full out and make a larger contribution in the world. I am committing to doing one thing afraid every day and I invite you to join me.

What is one thing you are willing to do today to play full out?

Whatever it is, do it afraid!

Special thanks to my coach & friend Paulette Rao who has been a special part of my journey to emerge. http://truenorthresources.com/home.html

Also, to learn more about Lynn Twist, check out her Soul of Money Institute. http://www.soulofmoney.org/about

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My MTA Mystical Moment

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

NYC subway
NYC subway

Just when you think you have experienced everything on the NYC subway system, you wake up and realize that new experiences are there waiting for you. Last week, I took the G train to Brooklyn and realized in my almost 20 years in NYC, I had never taken the G train before. I felt like a little kid taking a ride and felt excitement come over me as I discovered new parts of the city.

I wasn’t always open to new subway moments. As a matter of fact, I have had my share (like most New Yorkers) of MTA frustrations, announcements, delays, and cancelled services. Throughout my years taking the MTA subway into Manhattan from the Bronx, I have been delayed by hours due to sick passengers, kicked off the train for unknown reasons, asked to exit through all the cars because of a fire, and left stranded at East 180th Street.

For many years, I had subway anxiety. I worried about getting to work late and panicked when the train was delayed for “traffic ahead.” Having to stand for an hour on the subway also caused a lot of distress. I decided to travel with a good book and iPod to help get me through my ride with more ease. I would tune out the announcements and concentrate on reading and listening to my favorite music or podcasts.

This past week, I had an amazing MTA mystical moment. I was listening to the Oprah-Spirit Channel Podcast – that alone is a mystical moment. I had downloaded a few podcasts that expand my thinking and spark my creativity. On this particular morning, I was listening to an interview with Oprah and Daniel Pink (his book A Whole New Mind is amazing). In the background, the conductor was making announcements about delays. At first I ignored them, but then our train stopped for at least 5 minutes, and the announcement came again, “We are sorry for the delay. There is a police investigation up ahead. As soon as we receive clearance, we will proceed.” Passengers started mumbling, cursing, and rolling their eyes at the announcement.

I thought, ‘I can handle a small delay.’ Then, there was another announcement about the delay. I made my iPod louder to block it. Finally, after the third announcement, the words “police investigation ahead” echoed in the background. I took a breath, closed my eyes, and became still in the midst of a crowded subway car. In that quiet space, I could hear a soft voice inside repeating the words, investigation, investigation, investigation. And the moment came when my mind allowed the questions to come in and I could hear myself ask, “What needs investigation in your life right now? In what areas do you need to investigate?”

I let the questions float without answering them. I began to see a screen of areas in my life that need further exploration. I started my morning by experiencing the delay as an opportunity to investigate parts of my work, relationships, and dreams.

The delay taught me the lesson of slowing down and not rushing from thing to thing. Am I in a rush or is my mind in a rush? Looking for the bigger picture in the smaller moments can be some of the greatest gifts – even with a half hour delay due to a police investigation. I am grateful to the MTA for giving me the mystical moment to slow down and investigate my life. What a beautiful way to start the day! Perfect!

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