Stories - the way you tell them makes a difference. Do you tell stories of failure? Or success? Of losing? Or winning?Read More
The English word "equinox" derives from the from Old French equinoxe or Latin aequinoctium (aequi- ‘equal’ + nox, noct-‘night’). There are two equinoxes each year, and they denote those days in which day and night are of equal length. Together with the solstices, they mark the seasons of the year. The Autumnal equinox, which we are celebrating today in the northern hemisphere, marks the transition from summer to fall. Because of the balancing of so many cosmic energies—dark and light, moon and sun, etc.—the equinoxes are auspicious times for creating harmony and balance in ourselves. Try to sense where you are out of balance, and make the necessary adjustments, whether you are needing to hunker down and work harder, or whether you are needing more rest and relaxation, etc. Ask yourself what you are craving right now—this is usually a window into where we are out of balance.
Try to align your efforts with the earth's energies. If you are in the lower hemisphere, you can invite balance in ways that plant the seeds for prosperity. You might start by making a "bucket list" of the things you would like to harvest at the next equinox. If you are in the upper hemisphere, you invite balance by "harvesting" all of the things you are grateful for. You can begin with a gratitude list!
One simple and fun exercise that I created for today is the following:
- Get a nice piece of paper and draw a circle with two lines dividing it into four equal pieces (like a pizza or pie divided by 4).
- Inside each quadrant, write the four things you are most grateful for in your life.
- Assign a season (summer, fall, winter and spring) to each quadrant.
- Color the quadrants with your favorite colors of each season (glue pictures if you prefer).
- Place your circle somewhere visible so that others can see what you are grateful for and enjoy the positive energy and balance that comes with it! You will experience great surprises in those areas ... I guarantee it!
When we think of "prosperity," or what it means "to prosper," we typically focus on external circumstances: material possessions, financial resources, physical health, a good job, etc. But in actual fact, the etymology of the verb "to prosper" (from the Latin word "hope") connotes a state of living in accordance with one's hope. It is the opposite of "despair," a condition we might define as loss of hope, without which life seems empty and meaningless, regardless of our material circumstances.
Prosperity then should not be viewed as an end in itself, as something to strive for and be done with, as a synonym for "wealth" or "success." Prosperity is not the equivalent of material abundance but rather the conditio sine qua non (condition without which not) of human flourishing, of human evolution. It is our capacity for hope—the ability to imagine a life better than the one we are living, a world better than the one we inhabit—and to situate that life, that world, in the future and not the past—that propels our forward movement. The desire to succeed, materially and financially (and in other tangible ways!), or at the very least, to improve our circumstances in accordance with our values, is part and parcel of what it means to be human. The question arises, how do we keep this desire alive within us? How do we achieve "prosperity"?
We begin with gratitude. Wherever we find ourselves on our human journey, whatever setbacks and disappointments we have experienced, we can be grateful for the lessons we have learned. We can point to one or two people (if not a great deal more!) who have been helpful to us along the way. At the very least, we can be grateful for the sun and the stars and all of the elements (air, water, earth, fire ...) making our human experience possible. We can marvel at the fact that we exist, however trying our circumstances at the moment. Luckily, most of us do not have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find something to be grateful for. Once we latch on to that first thing, our minds will gravitate to the next thing, and the next, and before long, we have a whole list right down to the meal we just enjoyed and the bed we slept in last night.
The next step to experiencing prosperity is to shift our minds toward our dreams! Our passions! The ability to imagine a future different than the past is a uniquely human trait, responsible for all the great historical advances of our species. As good as things are, it is human nature to imagine how they might be better. We are always navigating the space between our lives as they are and our lives as we would like them to be. We think about what we can do to improve our life prospects, our relationships, our health and well-being, our spiritual condition. We imagine little changes we might make to our homes and offices and big changes we would like to see in our communities and in the world at large, and we take consistent action toward those goals.
As long as our goals are attainable (goals should stretch us, and even frighten us a little, but they should not feel impossible), they become part of the "continuum of movement of prosperity." The gap between our former and future self never closes as long as we are alive—before we achieve one goal, we are already thinking about the next thing we want to do or accomplish. Along the way, we face many difficulties and setbacks, but we are buoyed along by the expectation that things will improve. To prosper, therefore, is to experience the future as better than the present.
The future orientation is only important because "prosperity" often entails being hopeful for something better, however, we have to realize that it is also a consistent/continuous movement that we can only describe as perpetual. We have always been prosperous (particularly in some areas) and we will continue to prosper as long as we are "in the flow." We fail to prosper when we give up, sabotage or succumb to fatalism or despair. To give up—as many today are doing—is to deny our essential nature, which is to evolve, to fulfill our "life purpose" or "mission," if you will. For humans, life without purpose is unbearable, fueling the widespread desire to "escape." While the marketplace has been happy to deliver the means of escape on a massive scale, through entertainment, drugs (legal and otherwise), voyeurism, etc., it has fueled an existential crisis of equal proportions.
It is important, therefore, when we contemplate prosperity, to do so from a place of trust rather than from a place of longing. On a summer evening, when we are craving ice cream, we begin to experience some of the sweetness and joy of the ice cream on the way to the ice cream parlor. We are not beset with fear and anxiety. In the unlikely case that the ice cream parlor had stopped serving ice cream, we know we could drive somewhere else or wait another day. But when it comes to our dreams, we don't allow ourselves to anticipate their realization in quite the same way. Our limiting beliefs kick in and stop us. We tell ourselves, "Who am I?" Yet, it is the anticipation of success that animates our life and gives us the courage we need to stay the course. If we said to ourselves, "The store is probably closed, there is not likely to be any ice cream, the ice cream will probably be bitter," we would never get into the car!
Thankfully, through the marvel of the imagination, we can gain a foretaste of the experiences we desire. We can begin to feel what it might be like to be rich, to be in love, to be successful, to achieve peace in the world, and these feelings are what constitute "prosperity." Cultivating these feeling states—either through active imagination, or simply living our lives "as if" we were already rich, or married, or in a leadership role at work—is the third step to achieving prosperity. This can become a fun experiment! How would we approach life and behave in our daily routines if we had already achieved our dreams? How would we conduct ourselves and see/be seen by others and how would this affect our overall well-being? The more we can experience our desired feelings, in the present, the more readily our desires will manifest. This phenomenon is often explained according to "the law of attraction." The law of attraction is not—as it is sometimes purported—as simple as "believe and receive." There is often a lot of hard work and even sacrifice that happens in between. Life is full of dry seasons and poor harvests, and we would not choose to incarnate in a world that lacked such challenges. How else would we grow? But we do begin to experience a profound sense that we are not striving in vain. We come to realize that the Universe has our back.
It is important to note that the outlook I am advocating is not the naive optimism of the child, or the archetypal fool. I am not diminishing the structural injustices feeding the growing sense of despair among many who feel "left out." Not every dream will be achieved in a lifetime, but this does not mean we should stop dreaming! In my experience, the first limit, or obstacle, that people encounter when they are pursuing a passion is not structural, but rather, a limiting belief. Many people experience good fortune, but because they are trapped in a poverty consciousness, they are not able to hold on to their money. Or they worry their new status will alienate them from their family of origin, so they subconsciously create hardship or struggle for themselves. I believe it is all of our task to fight against structural poverty, racism, and other injustices. This is a large part of my work at the Star of Life. But we are better equipped for the big struggles when we have overcome our inner roadblocks.
Acceptance is a part of life, including acceptance of the things we cannot change. People are born with physical or mental limitations, suffer accidents, become victims of natural disasters. Our human condition is a vulnerable one. However, I do not believe in using our experience of hardship or our perception that life is "unfair" as an excuse not to prosper. Prosperity is available to all who seek it, with a sincere heart and open mind. And no matter how disadvantaged we are, no matter what our limitations, all of us can point to successes in at least one area of our life! It is important to acknowledge these successes as we can deploy the same talents and strategies to make progress in other areas! When we realize all of the ways in which we are already "prosperous," our expectations of life change: we anticipate good things and in turn we experience them.
I observe and believe that you need two opposing motivations to move you forward in life: one negative enough to make you fight or flee and another positive enough to make you fly and flow!
The law of aerodynamics identifies four forces necessary for flight to happen: LIFT, WEIGHT, THRUST, and DRAG.
Lift is the upward force, counteracting the effects of weight, which is the downward force. It must be greater or equal to the weight if the craft is to fly. But flight is not possible without weight!
Thrust is the forward force, which must be greater or equal to the effects of drag, which holds the aircraft back. As the aircraft is propelled forward by the engine's thrust, drag provides resistance in the opposite direction.
I find this notion of the four forces - upward, downward, forward, backward - very helpful! It allows me to appreciate those people and situations that provide WEIGHT and DRAG in my life, because I need them to move forward!
I received a rejection today! And because I walk my talk, I decided to step into my own advice and tell myself that divine forces are giving me an opportunity to be strong and to thrive using the gift of the present moment! So I began to meditate on this question: What is the gift of this moment?
I immediately connected to my six-month-old baby, who is constantly in the present, even when he is not getting what he wants. He cries for a while, with all his might, but as his attention turns to the beauty occurring in same moment of NO, he chooses to focus on what is here now and now that he can enjoy. Before I know it he is giggling and moving forward with whatever happens. He is not “hanging on” to the drama or the trauma of the NO.
This is remarkable, because he is a baby and therefore not emotionally developed. And yet, his innocence, his desire to be loved, and his ability to be redirected to happiness gets him the ultimate gift: a huge YES from the divine!
The YES here is the unconditional love of the mother, who will not abandon him. And the YES for me today is the gift of learning to be like a baby and enjoy the beauty of NOW!
I can't stop hoping for a better world because it would mean that I gave-up! I can't give-up because there are so many more loving actions than hateful ones! I must keep my focus on those who, like myself, will continue to pour light and love wherever they go, even at the cost of being called naive or utopian. Aiming for a state of collective love that respects different opinions and embraces diversity is perhaps the next needed revolution!
Enjoy my Facebook Live interview with Lidia Ferreira from Grupo Mulher Brasileira. We talk about anxiety, depression, ADHD, and more. Enjoy my Facebook Live interview with Lidia Ferreira from Grupo Mulher Brasileira (in Portuguese). We talk about anxiety, depression, ADHD, and more. Photo credit: www.amenclinics.com.
The Brazilian Women's' Group (BWG) is a volunteer-run organization that was started in 1995 by a group of Brazilian immigrant women of various backgrounds and occupations. The women hoped to "make a difference” in the wider Brazilian community, encouraging its members, particularly women, to stand up for their rights in the United States. We promote our goals through community organizing and by empowering community members to speak for themselves regardless of immigration status. The BWG has a specific focus on women, and from its beginning, it has sought to develop female leaders for the Brazilian community. Our overall goal is to empower Brazilian women and strengthen the Brazilian Community.
Some of life's most painful moments are those in which we find ourselves "betwixt and between." One chapter in our lives has ended – be it a job, a relationship, or a living situation – but the next chapter remains unclear. It's easy in these moments – and let's be honest, sometimes moments stretch into months and years – to feel lost and alone. MIT's Otto Scharmer describes our current planetary situation in similar terms. One way of life, characterized by an economic paradigm of infinite growth, is ending and dying, while the new has not yet been born. Humanity finds itself at an impasse, in the throes of a collective “dark night.”
Sometimes it is fear of the passage "betwixt and between" that keeps us trapped in situations that no longer serve us. Our mind and body show up for situations, even after our spirit has moved on. This is because our spirit cannot bear to live a lie! Author and diarist Anaïs Nin describes these moments as such: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
One thing I have learned over the years is that whenever we find ourselves “evicted” from a situation, it is because we are being invited to something better. But often, there's a delay. The something better does not immediately present itself and we find ourselves "betwixt and between." We must learn to honor the space between no longer and not yet. Transitions cannot be rushed. This is the lesson of the chrysalis. We shed the cocoon when we are ready to fly, not a moment before.
Let us courageously let go of what no longer serves us, and step into the Wild Unknown.
The moment you stop having EMPATHY for others, you begin to isolate from the world! We are not meant to live in a "social bubble" caring only for a few close ones. We are meant to shine our light and help others shine theirs to live in a bright world together!
Spring is here and it is time to plant seeds! Literally and figuratively! Take time to think about what you want to plant and how prepared you are to take care of it, then rest assured that harvest will be plenty! Do your part and trust God to do the rest!
“Resgatando Talentos” means to rescue or discover talents. This project was offered in collaboration with Cristina Capobianco. The mission of the project was to showcase a number of amazingly talented people to the public and help them regain self-confidence while encouraging the same public to be supportive and to build networks.
“Resgatando Talentos” means to rescue or discover talents. This project was organized is in collaboration with Cristina Capobianco; its mission was to showcase a group of amazingly talented people to the public and help them regain self-confidence while encouraging the same public to be supportive and to build networks.
The project gave rise to the “Discovering Talents” TV show, which aired two Wednesdays per month on CCTV between 2003 and 2008. The idea for the arose following the success of "Resgatando Talentos," and was conceived as a way to expose those talents to a broader audience and to give them the opportunity to develop their amazing work and career in the USA. The program was made possible by the fantastic cable network In Cambridge. It was produced and promoted by Danuza Aquino and Cristina Capobianco in collaboration with Carl-Fredrik Westin, Sonia Chimentao and Marcio Roberto. Many guests on the show were able to move on to successful careers in Boston or other areas of the United States and Brazil.
Rebecca Cohen is a graduate of the college of criminal justice at Northeastern University in Boston. She believes that the key to inspiring hope and positive change in the lives of youth lies in providing life-enriching opportunities on a daily basis. She is committed to helping each child develop tools necessary to build a more positive future.
Rebecca is working as a manager for a pilot project to reach out to kids at risk, already exposed to harsh poverty, violence and drugs in the city of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. She is sharing her knowledge and experience with the kids and their families, raising hopes and empowering those families to improve their chances for a prosperous and just life.
This is an educational and experiential project focused on violence prevention and life skills training, including development of culture, arts and other resources already available to the community as a way to foster possibilities for them to engage in a career or activity that takes them away from drugs and violence.
“Conde Mateus” - the name of this project is in honor of my father who dedicates much of his time to help others in need and I am now following his footsteps and bringing more volunteers and collaborators to continue to feed and clothe more than 5000 families in urgent need. As it is with any other social justice or health promoting initiatives, we count on donations from people like you and I who are fortunate to have enough to eat everyday. Any donation is valuable and helps tremendously! Money is a very useful donation, but you can also offer your prayers; support; love; volunteer time to help organize or even participate in the distribution in Brazil.