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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 >> responsibility


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.


The Occupy San Francisco encampment was receiving so many food donations last week, they had to turn generous people away. Across the nation companies, organizations and individuals have shown their support for the Occupy movement by contributing supplies to the camps of people who now occupy public zones in reportedly more than 1,000 U.S. cities. These citizens are not merely erecting tents and staying the night, however: there is incredible organization going into the demonstrations. Many encampments have their own first aid tents, communications areas, and, of course, food tables. All the effort going into creating these temporary mini-cities reveals how popular the movement has become in the month it’s been active.

How did Occupy Wall Street begin?

The Canadian anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters first proposed the idea of occupying the New York financial district in late summer of this year, circulating a poster showing a dancer atop the Wall Street bull and posing the question, What is Our One Demand? Since the protests began September 17, many demands have emerged, including ending corporate personhood, raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, shrinking the income gap between rich and poor, and reforming campaign finance laws. With its strident and raucous anti-capitalism stance, we could have expected Adbusters to launch a fringe movement that would fail to capture the hearts of a majority of citizens; however, widespread anger at the state of the economy and exploitation by corporate power have caused the movement to move towards the mainstream. Time magazine, for example, recently reported that 54% of Americans approve of Occupy.

Where does Cafe Gratitude fit into all of this excitement? Well, if you haven’t heard, our LA location just trucked a big batch of Grateful Bowls over to Occupy Los Angeles to feed the people camping outside City Hall (see the video below!). Ryland Engelhart, general manager at Gratitude LA, explained that he sees the Occupy movement as a call for unification from people across the country. Americans are feeling separated from each other and from our institutions, he says, and this may be a chance to bring us all together to improve our society. Luckily, the tent village in the City of Angels was still in need of food, so Ryland was not turned away and protesters got to enjoy delicious organic vegan meals!

We can connect food to the Occupy movement in more ways than simply feeding the demonstrators, however. A great article in Mother Jones has just been published, illustrating how the financial industry is not the only economic behemoth that has been consolidating power and causing angst for the majority of Americans. The food industry, the article claims, is even more consolidated and monopolistic than the financial sector. For example, just four companies produced 75 percent of cereal and snacks, 60 percent of cookies, and half of all ice cream in the U.S. in 2002. And since then, not much has changed, although the food movement is gaining steam, and will ramp up its power this October 24, the first-ever National Food Day.

Here’s hoping that the people on the streets keeping eating well, and that we can all start understanding that we’re going to need a movement as powerful as Occupy Wall Street to reform our current food system!


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. 


One of the practices at Cafe Gratitude is to celebrate our mistakes.  This did not come easily for me at first.  In home economics class in 7th grade, and I accidentally spilled flour on the floor.  I remember feeling so ashamed.  I wanted to hide it from the teacher, so I ground it into the carpet with my foot.  She caught me doing this, and the glare I got in return was enough to keep me feeling ashamed about my mistakes for the rest of my life.  That is, until I came to Cafe Gratitude.  

Employees of Cafe Gratitude are trained to say "I made a mistake!"  This proclamation is met with cheers and applause.  "Yea!!!!!"  The next part is that we tell the manager (if they haven't already heard the cheering).  Then we have a conversation about what we learned from this and how we can prevent making that same mistake again.  But the key part and important first step is simple: acknowledge the mistake.  Claim it.  Own it.  This was tough for me.  Even though I knew better, the junior high student part of me still expected to get a glare and some kind of punishment.  

The first mistake I recall making at Cafe Gratitude was a simple one: I dropped (and broke) a glass.  I was out on the patio (in San Rafael) alone and could have possibly gotten by with keeping my mistake a secret.  It was an important step in my "recovery" (from hiding mistakes) process to say out loud "I made a mistake!" and tell a manager what happened.  That kind soul simply asked me what I could do differently next time.  It was easy for me to think clearly about this, since I was not clouded by shame.  I was clear and able to focus on a creative solution.  I felt so much freedom in this.

Amanda N.C.

Lately, I am so present to how important it is for me to be in integrity and be a good role model for those coming up behind me. On this incredible spiritual path that I get to walk, I see how critical the integrity of the people who walked before me is.

I see them walking in such a good and powerful way.  I so appreciate all of the work they have done to be where they are.  I see how patient and loving they are with me when I take a tumble on my way.  They don't try to change me or fix me no matter what kind of fit I might be throwing.  They just stand strong, looking at me with love.  I receive so much inspiration and encouragement from that.  It gives me the opportunity to pull it in and remember my own strength and light.  And I get that me doing that inspires them in return. 

I didn't always have that.  It can be a challenging world to grow up in these days.  I came through some really painful times.  And I give thanks for the all of it.  I have the courage, we allhave the courage to look at those places where we struggle and where we have or have not received inspiration from others and really love on ourselves and have compassion with ourselves.  We all have the courage to take on really being in integrity with whatever path we're walking, with whatever practices and ways of being we are taking on.  That way we can look around us, with so much love and understanding in our hearts and eyes and inspire hope in the hearts of the young ones today and all of those around us.


Sometimes being with the upset of others is easy for me.  When my best friend, or my lover come to me, complaining, afraid and resistant, sometimes a soft smile will grace my face.  Of course, I’m not happy that they are upset, but I am able to stand and watch their stormy emotions, be present for their experience of fear and separation, and smile at the beautifully human experience that they get to have, and that they will watch me have some day.  I choose loving them unconditionally, and so I choose to be present for their upsets too.

With other people – coworkers, acquaintances, and friends’ partners - it can be more challenging to hold the seat of unconditional love. I think part of the challenge here comes from my ego trying to insist that, “I didn’t choose these people!”  Speaking from experience, I can say that it is much harder for me to be present for someone’s upset when I feel like I didn't choose them and want them to go away.

Today, I am practicing choosing people that are a stretch for me to love.  It allows me to accept my coworkers upset when I can see that I choose them to do my life’s work with.  I can be more patient with a friend’s partner when I see that I choose them, as a human being who is trying to live  in integrity and learn about love.  As for those acquaintances that I just want to go away?  Maybe I can choose them, choose being their friend, and in doing so choose the parts of me that are afraid to be left out.


Hi Everyone,

Here's my inspiring story for the night...  You may have heard that Jefferey Smith (author of "Seeds of Deception" and "Genetic Roulette" and Monsanto's worst enemy) was in town over the weekend for a symposium and training session on Friday and Saturday, respectively.  I had heard beforehand, and planned to attend the Friday night symposium. 
So, Thursday afternoon I was at the cafe for our shift leader meeting, when the honorable Mr. Smith came in and sat down for lunch with another gentleman.  Before I left, I decided to buy their lunch after I had gone over to thank and acknowledge him for all of his work. As they were leaving, he came over and gave me a hug, thanked me, and told me this was their first Cafe Gratitude experience and that they were VERY impressed with everything. 
Before the symposium started last night, I stopped by his table to say "hi" again, and he told me he had made plans to order lunch to-go for the training session participants!  I thanked him and then got juiced during all the talks that evening. When I came to work this evening, Laura told me that the anti-GMO group had been in and ordered over $400 worth of food! How cool is THAT!?!?!?

Check out Jeffery Smith's message about Genetically Modified Organisms, and find out what you can do to help!




Every person has a story to share.  Mine is about forgiveness.
Ever since I grew up, I had been living in a shadow and a family taboo - nobody knows why grandpa chose to end his life and everyone has his/her stories.  My mother and her siblings had blamed each other for causing the tragedy to happen for years, and nobody has an answer.
I had a very intimate relationship with grandpa.  He's the only one who tucked me in bed, told me bedtime stories, took me to school with his bike, and protected me when I got in trouble with my parents.  In the eyes of a 7 year old, he was my hero and my best friend.  One day after I came back from school, I was told that he had committed suicide, and will never wake up again.  At that age, I already understood death.  My heart was broken and for the next 20 years, I had ask myself the same question: Why did he choose to end his life?  Who is responsible for this?
Over the years, I investigated and ask my mom and some of her siblings questions, hoping to figure out who is the one to blame.  They offered different stories and pointed fingers at each other.  This became one of the reasons among many that I had a challenging relationship with my mom.  I was also resentful toward my uncles (oldest and second), and I felt sympathetic to my youngest uncle and aunt, making up that they are just like me: victims in this tragedy.
It was not until I was sitting with more than a hundred people, taking the second day of Landmark Forum that an insight revealed itself to me.  I was listening to the Landmark Forum leader talking about "Parents".  He had all people in the crowd who were in their twenties stand up from their seats. "THEY WERE OUR PARENTS", he said.  I looked at them, puzzled, disbelieved and surprised for how young they are.  Then I got it!  All these years that I thought I was the victim who lost her most beloved grandpa,  I forgot the simple fact that at the same moment, my mom had lost her only father, at the age of 30!  This insight didn't stop there; it expanded.  I suddenly was able to put together all the puzzle pieces and was shocked by my discovery:  My biological grandma had died from breast cancer when my mom was 10.  This means that my mom had lost both of her parents when she was just a few years older than me (I was 27 when I took the Forum).  Tears kept pouring out as I recognized that my uncles and my mother, whom I blamed for years, have all lost their parents, at such a young age.  All of my blaming  vanished, and was replaced with forgiveness and love.  All these years I've been searching for the answer and I've found that I've been looking in the wrong direction all this time.  Instead of forgiving and accepting, I was blaming, and suffering from it.
After the Sunday forum finished, I went home and had the best conversation with my mom for four hours.  I apologized to her sincerely and shared everything I discovered.  I shared how I understand all of them in how my mom and her siblings had lost their parents at the same time. We held each other and I cried with her for the rest of the night.  She was very quiet yet emotional after my sharing.  After that conversation, I never heard my mom blaming her brothers for my grandpa's death again.  I know she has also forgiven. 
Every time when someone asks me, "Do you recommend Landmark Forum?", I shared this story.  Every time I share, I get re-inspired, present to how powerful letting go and how forgiving can be so magical.  I found inner peace and have built a much closer relationship with my mom since then. 
I thank my grandpa for teaching me this important lesson.  He is truly the greatest doctor in the world.  He heals me with his spirit and guidance.
This is my story.


Fast moving stream

Today I invite you to take responsibility.  Taking responsibility is one of the most powerful acts that one can do.  If all of us took responsibility for not only our own emotions, filters, actions, speech and listening but for how we come across and interact with the planet, then the planet would be in such bigger more careful hands.  By taking responsibility we own up to our impact on every aspect of the universe, take note of our steps and our causation of the world.  In taking responsibility we own up to our power and speak from the first person:  "I am responsible for global warming", "I am responsible for inspiring my family," and "I am responsible for the war in Iraq".

I can rightfully say that I have an impact in all of these areas.  If I own up to the enormous impact that I can have on these areas, then I can see that power that I have in how things are going.  Consider that you are like a fish in a river with a rushing current bouncing across rocks and bending downstream.  You might not be actively swimming, but the current is carrying you.  There is no sitting still in this world.  Life is always moving.  If you can see and take responsibility for having been carried by the stream, then we can recommit to where you want this river to be moving!

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