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The Self Examiner

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Tags >> giving back
Guest

 

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 

1 John 3:17-18

 

One very chilly afternoon last week a friend and I passed an hour in one of Northern California’s classic bastions of peace, love, and vegan, organic, raw, local, sustainable food served up in haute hippie style (need I mention that we were in Berkeley?). Menu items in this café, it must be understood, are named for declared graces. Thus, after repeating our order for two cups of “I Am Cozy,” our waitress—festively attired in a paisley dress, argyle knee socks, and a purple crocheted crown—said, “I’ll be right back with your tea. Meanwhile, today’s question is: What can we give away today?

She spun on her heel and left, leaving us to think what, indeed? The masses of stuff in my life began to slog in dreary parade past my mind’s eye. My friend wondered aloud if maybe the better question wouldn’t be, “What should we actually keep today?” Inspired, we set to making lists, which naturally began with loved ones (I’m happy to report that after the merest moment of hesitation, our respective teenage children made the cut).


A big thank you to Terces and Matthew from all of us!  Thank you for being fierce love warriors, for always being a space of love, and for listening with compassion for all of us.  Thank you for always seeming to get bigger!  Thank you for holding the space for dialogue and giving us the opportunity to share our amazing organic food and love!!!

 


At Cafe Gratitude, our goal is to be "The Space for All of It."  What we mean is that we can not always choose what or who shows up at our door, but we can choose to be an invitation to whatever shows up, and to greet it with joy and gratitude.

In 1987, Issan Dorsey, a Zen teacher and former Drag Queen, invited a homeless student dying from AIDS to live in what was then the Hartford Street Zen Center.  Issan, a charismatic and colorful leader, founded Maitri there, in the heart of the Castro, and when he passed, left a group of followers devoted to deal with whatever came to the door.  They started the hospice because death came to the door.

Maitri has been providing residential hospice care to patients suffering with AIDS since 1987. They have provided a final home to over 900 people with AIDS, and  14 of their 15 hospice beds are reserved for people who are HUD-defined as low income. They are the only facility in California to offer AIDS-specific residential care to the community.


 

This weekend I attended The Abounding River, a workshop taught in a pay-it-forward style by the creators of Cafe Gratitude: Matthew and Terces Engelhart. I had flipped through and purchased the Logbook (which the work shop is based off of) so I kind of had a sense of what I was in for. I was excited that I would be exploring my self-worth, my relationship to money, and saying positive “I Am” mantras in the Cafe Gratitude style. What I did not expect was that I would leave with a much stronger sense of courageousness in my heart, a beautiful new ring (I will explain more about that later), and the option to take on a whole new view of my life.

The workshop started Saturday morning. I snuck in quietly though the back door as a room of friendly people turned their heads to gaze at the sound of the creaking hinge. I managed to find a seat and the workshop began with us all introducing ourselves. Matthew and Terces sat up front and shared “Ok, so to start with this morning, We’d like for you to all share your name and one thing you are uncomfortable with sharing about your relationship to money”. Wow, I thought, as the source of my most embarrassing money secret instantly came careening to the front of my mind. I tried to think of anything else to share that wasn’t so embarrassing. As I thought, I listened. In the moments prior to my arrival, Matthew and Terces had created an environment of trust.

Many people around me were openly sharing their versions of their own money nightmares: some people couldn’t stop worrying about saving enough money or paying their bills on time while others couldn’t stop spending and were deeply indebted to friends, family, and banks. Finally it was my turn and the atmosphere of integrity couldn't stop the words from coming out of my mouth: “What I’m most embarrassed by is that I am still supported by my parents and I’m terrified of the notion that I will have to support myself one day”. Silence met my ears and it was over. I felt a sense of relief. My fears were on par with everyone else’s, even if the ideas that led to them were different: Now I know I’m not the only one with major fears around money.

The major perspective that is shared in this workshop is that money is inherently neutral: it is our own personal blocks that create our relationship troubles with it. We worked with partners to look at money from multiple perspectives and unveil what our subconscious ideas around money really look like. One example of this was thinking of our relationship to money as a friendship or romantic relationship and then answering questions like “Do you expect me to make you happy?” and “Is our relationship security to you?” The implications of our responses were profound. Most of us had terrible relationships. We worked to come to see how our perspectives could be different, Matthew and Terces were empowering us to take responsibility for our relationships.

Around lunch time we got an invitation to do a homework assignment: “During lunch we would like you to give something away- whether it is money- like a higher tip than usual to your waitress- or an item. We’d like you to give it to someone who is not in the workshop, to someone who has no idea why they are receiving from you then come back and report your findings to us after lunch”. I left having no idea what I was going to give- or how. I had no cash on me but I left it open.

I went to lunch with some of the participants at Gracias Madre- Cafe Gratitude’s sister vegan Mexican restaurant. I was sitting, happy to be out and exited to connect with some of the other participants on a more casual level. As I sat down at the family style dining table, there was a beautiful woman across from me wearing a lovely rose quartz and silver ring. I could tell it was a beloved belonging so I complimented her on it. I was looking for a connection to her and I had no idea how deep it was going to get. She looked at me and she said “you like this ring?” and I replied “yes its beautiful” she then preceded to take it off her finger and hand it to me, “its yours now”. Yes, she wasn't following the protocol of the assignment, she knew clearly that I was in the workshop with her, but she said she felt particularly attached to the ring and had been inspired to give it up, make it into an offering.

I felt honored and had some trouble receiving it. I had only wanted to connect with her and being gifted was a challenge to me.  I called my own self worth into question. I was encouraged to accept and receive the gift. The ring is still on my finger now as I write this, its a beautiful reminder that life goes on, with or without our most prized possessions and that sometimes life really does deliver unexpected gifts.

On my way back to the workshop I realized I had nearly forgotten to give my gift. I reached into my bag and found my BART (bay area rapid transit) ticket. It had enough on there to get someone somewhere. I wanted to give to someone who clearly wasn’t in need- I wanted to prank someone with my gift: sometimes giving without reason is joyous and hilarious. I ran up to a girl my age putting gas in her tank and handed her the public transport card. “I want you to have this” I said. Surprisingly, without any skepticism, she said “thank you” and accepted it. I could learn a thing or two from her.

When we arrived back Matthew and Terces encouraged people to share their stories. I learned so much from hearing the people around me speak about their experiences. There were a few hilarious stories.  I heard one participant in the workshop who had given his money to someone on the street and said to him “spend it well”.  Apparently the person didn’t take kindly to the statement and replied “excuse me sir but do I tell you what to do with your money?”. It was a sweet anecdote that I felt pointed to a much larger relationship that the man had with money: needing to feel in control of where it went. We all laughed and took in the lessons everyone had to share.

We moved on to more exercises and talked about reconstructing our perception of debt. One woman shared her fear around debt from investments in music equipment. Terces shared “try to consider that you have been blessed with the gifts of what you were asking for and now the world is asking you to step into your gifts by creating wealth from the instruments you have received”. This was a revolutionary way of looking at the concept to me: Having debt comes from a place of having been abundant enough in the first place to have received what you were asking for AND you can choose to see it as a calling to create more abundance. How empowering.

We closed out the day with a final homework assignment: “Notice how abundant you already are and come back tomorrow to share your findings with us”. My mind was already calculating millions of anwsers: clean water, social services, friendship, health... We walked around the room sharing information and hugs and finally the day ended and  I was offered a ride back to my home.

I would love to share with you about my second day and beyond, but if I do this blog post might turn into a novel. This workshop has been a blessing and has left me feeling more capable and abundant than ever before. What is even more amazing is that this is just one of several workshops offered throughout the year  by Matthew and Terces at a Pay it Forward rate. People who are interested in supporting the benefits of workshops like these are encouraged to donate a limitless amount while people who are experiencing a financial challenge are encouraged to pay what they can: even if that doesn’t come in the form of cash. I am so grateful for all of the gifts I have received this weekend and I am paying my abundant feeling forward by trying on this new view of life and passing it on to others: A view of being provided for.

Click here to see a list of upcoming workshops.

 


Happy Tuesday,

Such sweet Springtime weather. I am cleaning out our yurt today and I feel SO GOOD! There is something about dusting off winter that is so wonderful. The cobwebs, both inner and outer, the rearranging of what works for our life at this time... Today we had more salad than cooked food, which is always a sign of Spring! 

In what ways do you clean out the winter for the newness of Spring? 


Guest

March 15, 2001 was a life-changing day for me. It was the day we said goodbye to my mother for the last time. It's hard to believe it's been ten years since she died... so much has happened since. (Click this link to read my blog about her.)

One of the things that happened since her passing is that I had the great privilege of becoming a Challenge Day Program Leader, working with teens all across the country and Canada. During that time, I was also introduced to the work of Debbie Ford and was personally so moved by it, I trained to become a life coach through the Ford Institute. Being a coach and developing my own form of working with my clients has been an incredible gift to me. I have the privilege of supporting my clients in achieving their dreams and goals while clearing the path of obstacles that stand in their way. I never cease to be brought to tears at the beauty of their journeys.

So... this month, in honor and celebration of my mother as one of the most generative, creative people I ever knew and in celebration of the blessings of St. Patrick's Day and Spring Equinox, I am offering a really great deal on coaching: a package discount of 5 hours of coaching for $140 (only $28/session- a 72% discount!)! You can also buy a single session for $35 (but I recommend the 5-session package; we'll get a lot more work done that way).
5-Package Special
Single Session

They're going fast - there are only 5 spots left for the $140 package coaching. You can even buy more than one package if you want to benefit from having more than 5 sessions! Isn't that fun?! (Also, I'm donating 5% of all proceeds to the Save the Children Japanese Relief Fund.)

I look forward to hearing from anyone who is interested in coaching, too! To learn more, visit my website www.erinrosscoaching.com.


So, mom, wherever you are, I am thinking of you and wishing you could see what I see when I watch my clients have amazing breakthroughs. I wish you could hear their voices when they have an idea or an insight that lights them up. Maybe you do... maybe you're right there holding exquisite space for all of us, even more grandly than you did when you were here. Thank you for showing me the meaning of living with open arms... I love you.









Gratitude !

We love the expansive feeling we get from cultivating an attitude of Gratitude.

What are YOU Grateful for today ?

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