This week, while in the snowy mountains of Colorado, I felt called to open up Grace & Gratitude again for a winter session. We’ll begin December 4th and end December 20th. If you’d like to join us, sign up here.
The plane was a few hundred feet from landing in my home state, and I could see the familiar urban shapes of houses and city streets from outside my window.
Brooklyn brownstones neatly crowded the landscape, small boxes packed in together against the expansive network of streets. The rivers of New York spread out in either direction, framing the famous boroughs.
For the last twelve hours, I sat on a plane, staring out the window, reflecting on where I’d been. The sight of my home country brought tears to my eyes—it was so good to be home. For the past ten days, I’d been witness to the conflict in the Middle East, as a documentarian for a new water project attempting to bring clean water to a community of 6,000 land-locked refugees.
Showers. Free, open streets. The ability to leap into the sky and turn halfway around the world in less than a day. Power. Internet. My family.
I wanted to cry. There was so much to be grateful for.
I wanted to help.
I am often overwhelmed by the amount of good that comes into my life. There is so much that comes my way that it regularly brings me to tears, and I well up in thanks—thanks that I get to be alive, that I get to be here, that I have two hands and a voice and a way to make a difference—right here, right now.
For the longest time, however, I felt like I couldn’t possible deserve it. Like somehow the universe had goofed with all of these gifts, and would be taking them back at some point. What did I, this regular girl from California, have that could possibly mean I deserved all of this?
Why did I get to live this life and yet people around the world were suffering daily?
I wonder if that’s why I chased so many opportunities and accomplishments—working harder and harder just to repay this debt I felt I had for being given more than I thought I deserved.
Sometimes, when painful moments came my way, it was almost a relief. There, it was saying. Now everything is balanced out. You didn’t deserve all that goodness before, the voice in my head hinted.
Over time, however, I’ve come slowly to realize (through time, patience, and LOTS of learning and reflecting)–that you don’t have to do anything to experience grace and gratitude.
Just being you, exactly as you are, in the brilliance of yourself and your soul, is enough.
The ability to experience grace is a heart-opening experience that doesn’t require more pushing or doing—it’s about softening, allowing, listening, and breathing in the beauty of the present moment that swirls up all around you.
Paradoxically, letting go is some of the hardest work in the world.
Our egos, our beliefs, our habits, and the swirling world around us can get really confusing.
And we forget.
You are already enough. You are worthy and capable of love. You are a brilliant creation. Inside of you, already, right now—is a well of light and joy. I imagine your soul, your essence, as a beaming white orb of light, a brilliant light and life that’s deliciously and uniquely you.
Over time, however, we build up layers of crud and plaque—hardness and habits from dealing with the world—and we lose touch with this light center.
Call it Spirit, Light, God, the Universe, blessings, or Shiva-Shakti—it’s there. (You can name it what you want—I’ll reference religion and various opinions in my teaching, but I won’t preach to you from a particular doctrine beyond my belief in the need for radical self-acceptance and self-love.)
My life, to date, hasn’t been free of heartache and trauma; and I’m not sure there is a life free of pain or sorrow, except perhaps transcendent Buddhists and angels—and I’m afraid I don’t know all of the conclusive answers here. (I’ll let the hundreds of spirituality books and teachers chime in on this one).
Yet inside of and among it all, there’s still a quiet whisper. If you’ll hear it. If you’ll allow it. And it says something like this:
Life is a gift; an act of grace in itself.
Your life is a gift.
And then, in haste, in urgency, I began piling up notes quickly and easily, like many of my short programs. Words and whispers, a collection of ideas, a series of practices. In a few short days, Grace and Gratitude, a two-week journey, was born. A series of small exercises, of five-minute practices, of connecting to each other.
I first ran this program in 2013, with a crew of 83 people from around the world. It was a whisper of an idea, and I decided to run with it — I didn’t know what to expect, and the results really made me open my eyes.
Folks wrote in with tears in their eyes, with stories to share, and with a whispered thank you for encouraging them to take this time for themselves.
Two sisters, Easkey and Beckey-Finn, used the program to reconnect to each other and spend a year writing back and forth as they traveled the world on their independent journeys.
A woman in London wrote to me to tell me she conceived after several years of trying while taking this program. (I can’t guarantee fertility results, but WOW. There definitely is something powerful about opening up to gratitude & grace.)
I’m opening up this program for two weeks, beginning December 4th. Join us.
In a world filled with email, urgency, and haste — this is a chance to breathe softness and light into your life again. Just a little bit at a time — nothing overwhelming or sudden.
It can be lovely.
And I think it’s also going to be wonderful.
This small program — of stories, emails, and 5-minute exercise for two weeks — was born out of my need to look inwards, to reflect.
Please sign up by Friday, December 4th, to begin with us. This year, I’m taking the price down to $47 for registrations because I’d like for anyone who wants to, to join me (the course is normally $150).
If you need to join and have particular financial hardship, email me for scholarship details.
Register by December 4th to join us. Course begins December 4th.
With love and gratitude,