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The Self Examiner

Sharing is very important to us at Cafe Gratitude. This blog is our means of connecting with you, our community through sharing what's happening with us and creating a conversation around the many facets of this community.
Tags >> Practice


Consider for a minute that you are merely an organism on this planet. You are the result of every effect following another effect so far back that we cannot make out the fuzzy long distance image of what an original cause might have been. This moment you are experiencing right now is exactly what needs to happen and is what creates the moment you are experiencing now just seconds later. Imagine that there are countless timelines all moving forward and intersecting each other, with every person, every animal, every molecule experiencing a varied experience of the very same shared moment in history.

Life is so beautiful because of it’s diversity/difference and rich lush landscapes with one complex harmony of structures meeting another. The intricate network of nutrients in transit in the structure of a leaf sits against the cold lifeless concrete that’s been from the soil, to the factory, to the truck, laid down by a worker and has now seen thousands of these leaves live and die against it. When I slow down and think about the complexity of every object, every being, every aspect of my daily experience, I find that not only is the world inherently forever in motion and constantly changing but that each and every state of every thing is perfect.


This week, I would like to share with you about the experience of loss.  I have been very present to loss these last few weeks.  I’ve been noticing the faces of people on the street – thinking that I see someone I know, and startling myself back when they are not there.  I’ve been daydreaming and catching visions in the leaves, rolling my mind around times that have past.  I became aware, in those musings, that there would be a time when I would look back on today, on this present moment in my life, with the same longing that I feel now for other times.

“Impermanence is not a theory. It’s happening every moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh


One of the things that you hear most about healthy relationships, families, and communities is that they are built on trust.  Now, I have to admit, that this confuses me a little bit.  I mean, what is this ‘Trust’ thing anyway? To find out more about how to cultivate trust, I did a bit of research.  John Gottman, Ph.D. at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley defines trust using the acronym ‘Attune’:

  •  Awareness of your partner’s emotion;
  •  Turning toward the emotion;
  •  Tolerance of two different viewpoints;
  •  trying to Understanding your partner;
  •  Non-defensive responses to your partner;
  •  and responding with Empathy.

Are you surprised?  I have to admit that I was.  I grew up in a culture where having ‘trust’ in a relationship meant something straightforward, like having trust that someone is not ‘cheating’ on you, or trusting that they will show up when they said they would.  Matthew and Terces seem to have a similar idea about trust in relationship.  Here are some of the things that they are committed to:


"There is only one consciousness, equally distributed everywhere." - Ramana Maharshi

This year has been a year like no other in history.  On Jan 25th, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power following 18 days of unrelenting public protest.  In August, Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year rule came to an end as Libyan rebels overtook Tripoli, after 6 months of civil war.  Earthquakes and tornadoes have escalated to unforeseen severity, and the U.S. has seen the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement in every major city, and met with the opposition of police forces in New York, Cleveland, Oakland, Denver, Atlanta, Nashville, and elsewhere.  



Yesterday I was cooped up in an office building all day, eyes glued to a computer screen. I told myself I would take breaks, and I did, but I didn’t take enough of them, and not the kind I needed. Getting some fresh air would have cleared my head, but when I get into the daze of a busy workday sometimes I forget to nurture myself. As it was, I emerged onto the Berkeley street at 5:00pm to a surprise - rain.  It had been summer-sunny all week and so the wet was startling, and--and this is interesting--almost immediately disappointing.
As I surveyed the soaked city street, negative thoughts streaked rapid-fire through my head: I don’t have rain gear!--I’m going to get soaked.--This is a terrible state of affairs.--Why didn’t I check the weather forecast?--It was stupid not to.--How will I make myself check the weather next time?--How will I get home right now?--Now I’m depressed.--Rain is depressing.--I shouldn’t have left sunny Santa Barbara.--I can’t live in Berkeley.
Holy smokes! A few drops of water had me questioning my longtime goal to live in the Bay! Notice how none of those thoughts--which all reverberated through my noggin in about a second and a half--were positive or uplifting. My ego, that chattering devil of the mind, had nothing good to say about the rain. But as I mounted my bike and began to brave the elements, I made a choice to flip a switch in my head. I was going to try an experiment--being grateful for the rain.
And I began to feel better, as these statements showed up in my consciousness: Rain nourishes the Earth.--This storm renews life.--I’m not too wet, and I’ll be inside, and dry, very soon.--This unexpected weather is exciting, different, fascinating.--The air smells so, so incredibly good.
I invite you to practice positive thinking in the face of the critical onslaught our minds are so good at creating. Next time you find yourself in a situation you can’t immediately change in a physical sense--maybe you’re wet, or cold, or crammed into a car for a long drive--acknowledge your outside circumstances, but then direct your attention to what you have to be grateful for, instead of only what’s going wrong. I could have focused on the discomfort of the droplets soaking through my clothes, but instead I put my attention on the invigorating aromas of a world thirsty for water.
You always have the power to notice and change your thoughts!

In the Abounding River Logbook, one of the six currents is creation. We say that active creativity is essential to achieving abundance. We must both actively create things in the world, and actively see and create a vision of abundance.  I access creativity through taking personal responsibility. I take responsibility for how I’m acting, what I’m producing, but also what I am actively creating and envisioning. I take responsibility for my vision of the world, and recognize that I can not only create a new vision, but recognize that I have been actively creating my vision of the world all along.

I created a design that was six years in the making that I made become my vision of the world. Out of my education and work in social justice, I envisioned an invasive tree that took too much from the soil. The tree represented the power structures and oppressive systems I wasn’t committed to. In my design (see second image) I created a tearing up of the tree through various metaphorical imagery (vines tugging down the branches, something rotting away the roots… branches being cut off). All of these metaphors I lived by- on how to deconstruct the tree that I saw as being damaging to the overall environment.

And deconstruction is how my life looked for 6 years. I used criticism against everything without much idea for how to instill hope or rebirth after the death of the system. I used various methods of social change to address problems that I saw, and constantly came across seeing that I was never bringing answers or solutions to them. My experience of the world was through that vision that I was actively creating and recreating.      Two weeks ago I really noticed that my tree metaphor wasn’t working for me to create hope. So I set off to find a new image, a rebirth of the tree, or something that I was committed to. I created the image above, the conclusion of the oppressive tree, and a new habitat for a rebirth. In my vision, the roots have been torn away to where all is left is love. Rooted in love, a new sprout is born and there is pure possibility.

As a means to re-train myself in my new vision, I’m taking on the 365 day challenge. Every day for the next year I am creating a piece of art with this new image. Every day through this creativity I am actively creating hope in the world by transforming my vision and by physically expressing my vision to others. I am day by day re-inscribing a new belief through my repeated creations.

The Idea for the practice of 365 projects came from Noah Scalin, who took on creating one image every day with a different medium himself, and then created a journal to encourage others. Check out the book here; check out some of the variations of my design here.              This week I invite you to look at what belief you have that’s causing you suffering. Taking responsibility for it as your creation and not truth is empowering. What can you actively create in its place? What belief can you adopt that serves you and serves the planet? We say that a belief is a thought practiced over and over again. What new thought can you begin with today?


Last Wednesday was a very eventful day at Café Gratitude’s central office.  A few long-term computer issues came to a head, moved past the point of unworkable, and becoming what can only be called “Breakdowns.”

For the past year, we have been struggling with an issue where our Quickbooks imports corrupt our company file.  The cause of this problem has eluded us as we have tried solution after solution.  On Wednesday, we had a breakdown of this system that was big enough to put us completely offline, and force our bookkeeper to start writing checks by hand. However, this particular breakdown was so big, that our team was actually able to find the bug, and replicate it, and get to the bottom of what was causing the problem! The breakdown that had shut down one of our most important systems turned out to be the breakthrough that fixed what had been a perpetual problem.


This year, the California Label GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) Campaign is committed to proposing legislation to ensure that all GMO foods sold are labelled as containing GMOs. Currently, food distributors are not required to label their food as containing GMOs. Cafe Gratitude is a stand for the labeling and regulation of GMOs, the use of which pose untold threats to the health of our community and planet.
Why does this matter? If you are not currently aware of the social, economic,
ecological, and health dangers posed by GMOs, check out the video of Vandana Shiva, Ph.D. below.  She is a philosopher, environmental activist, and ecofeminist, who is regarded as an authority on the global implications of GMO crops.

What can you do?  Take action today by:
- Spreading the word in your social network, website, or neighborhood: Click Here to Share

- Visit to pledge to collect signatures to help us meet our goal.
- Donate to help this grass-roots campaign succeed!
- Learn how to avoid GMOs when you shop, by going to a local California farmer's market, or by checking out the Center for Food Safety's Non-GMO shopper's guide.
Thank you for sharing your inspiration with us, and for helping us to create this world as a safe, healthy, just place for future generations.


Anger is not my favorite emotion.  I do not consider myself an angry person, and I do not frequently experience anger in my life.  Situations that are uncomfortable for me usually elicit frustration, sadness, or hurt, before they ever touch the nerve of anger. 

I am beginning to realize, that even though I do not feel angry when people betray my personal standards of conduct, my anger does surface in other ways: silence, avoidance, and irritability.  I am beginning to consider that anger is actually on my side, and is trying to help me become more empowered in my relationships.  I push it down because of fear that it is not socially permissible, or that it will not be taken well.  Sometimes I am even afraid that if I let my anger out, it will simply be too much and run amok. 


I woke up this morning with scarcity on my mind.  I’m sure many of you have had this experience.  Before my cup of tea, before letting the chickens out in the yard, or taking a hot shower, my mind was churning with fear and disappointment.  The theme today was: “I am not making enough money.”

Gratitude !

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