The Lightworker

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Over the course of my many film projects, I have been fortunate to meet some interesting people along the way who are doing really innovative things with their lives. Nikki Wall is one of those extremely interesting people. We sat down and spoke to her to find out what has inspired her path, how she’s gone from Horror Film Producer to Social Activist/Humanitarian and her message on how our social obligation to coexist with a sense of worthiness and purpose  should become central to sustaining our future.

 

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Humanitarians Nikki Wall & John Apt

Nikki Wall is a filmmaker turned omni-faith minister and humanitarian.  Alongside her beloved, John Apt, she works tirelessly towards long term sustainable solutions as well as getting her hands dirty and helping wherever she can to bring a little more love and light into others’ lives. She has been an award winning activist since she was 13 years old, working in many areas of positive change making. She is the author of The Universal Inspiration Project, co-founder of Vow of Service and has dedicated her whole life in service to the greater good.  She has surrendered everything and lives on faith doing all work, including spiritual counseling, on a donation basis.  

Links:

www.VowOfService.com

www.Facebook.com/vowofservice

www.Facebook.com/nikkistarseedapt

Thelma & Louise: Thelma and Louise is a blog about kicking fear in the face. So let’s do this!  Tell us a little bit about yourself and who you are please!

Nikki: I am an omni-denominational minister that is focused on greater sustainable solutions while taking action every day to improve the lives of all humans.  At the moment, we’ve focused a lot of our efforts on the under-served homeless populations throughout California and now that we’ve established a support system down there and built momentum for others to do what we were doing, we have relocated up to Portland, Oregon to assist with their growing homeless population.  I have been an activist since I was 13 years old and have worked with animal rights groups, environmental protection and preservation organizations, gay rights and protection organizations and more… doing everything from boots on the ground work, protesting, activism, lobbying and all aspects of positive social change.  I am proud to say that I am an award winning humanitarian that has positively affected the lives of tens of thousands of people, if not more from the momentums I’ve created.

Thelma & Louise:  Explain what an omni-denominational minister is.

Nikki:  In other words, I believe that we are spiritual beings having a spiritual experience.  We all come from the same source and I have studied and walked many spiritual and religious paths.  I honor wherever someone is at regardless of what they believe and feel that all the masters and sages before us have shared the same threads of wisdom and guidance of how to live a good life and serve others when you really boil down what they have taught. I am here to serve as a spiritual leader who unites and heals all illusions of separateness, including those labeled as religious.  I respect and honor those who hold the values true of whatever religious path they are on and while doing so, I invite and encourage them to come together with everyone else to realize that we are all human and all have the same needs and desires.  What we do in our temples or churches, how we pray and who we pray to, what books we read or even if we don’t believe in God at all, we all have responsibility down here in these physical bodies and the world needs our unified intent and action now more than ever before.

Thelma & Louise: So would it be appropriate to say you are a “lightworker”? Maybe a minister of humanism vs religious-ism?

Nikki: Absolutely.  And in a lot of ways I resonate with pieces of avatarism which is a little more centered around taking responsibility for the entirety of our experience.

Thelma & Louise: Avatarism, can you explain ?

 

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This is what I thought she meant by “Avatarism”- I quickly learned blue makeup was not what she was referring to….

Nikki: My basic understanding of it, is that it is the idea that we are souls in a body interacting with others and that we manifest our experience, including people and circumstances, based on our own vibration and frequencies.  That we can actually have creative control in our own experience and the experience of others who are less consciously creating.  If we are aware of this, we have a responsibility to always first and foremost care for ourselves and our vibration and get ourself right with the universe and then consciously co-create with others, whether they are aware of it or not, for the greatest healing possible now and moving forward to create a joyful human experience for everyone.

Thelma & Louise: Got it. Avatarism= transformationalism (but without the blue leotard)

Nikki: Yes ☺starting inside and working your way out to transform everything, including yourself, into something more serving of humanity as a whole.  All inclusive so that each being has their own ability to live a life of fulfillment.

Thelma & Louise: You have vowed to only live on the donations you receive for the work that you do. That is a very risky undertaking, How does that work? Do you live minimally? Does it ever become difficult to get your own needs met with this lifestyle? Can you tell us more about that?

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Nikki: I went into this heavily influenced by the Burning Man community and the desire to bring the Gift Economy to the mainstream. I had lived various periods of my life as a teenager on the streets in perceived lack, poverty, challenge and vulnerability and had experienced times in my life as an adult where I was so financially abundant that I had total and utter financial freedom.  I knew that it would be something that was ‘risky’ in terms of what the patriarchal system had created and programmed us into.  I also had faith that if I was in alignment with the Divine, I would be supported by the Divine, so I took the leap of faith and went all in, giving up EVERYTHING and putting myself out there publicly in any way I could be of service to another.

Fast forward to today, and yes, I have maintained my integrity of living minimally to set an example and lighten my load.  My beloved and I own very little and the majority of it is spiritual, esoteric and philosophical books, and other than that we have a suitcase of clothes and our backpacks.

We don’t use credit cards, as we just didn’t feel in alignment with that in regards to what we were trying to live, embody and teach, so everything has to be manifested if it’s meant to be. Right now we have been gifted a room in someone’s home that truly believes in what we are doing and wishes to support us in a way that is in alignment with us all.

Although there have been times of challenge, I’ve really grown past the point of seeing them as a negative experience.    Mostly, our experience has been seemingly miraculous and through the course of this adventure, we have experienced being asked to come do ceremony or simply be present in someone’s home to bring ceremony or help them align their lives in a more spiritual way, offer our healing and so forth and this has kept a pretty consistent roof over our heads with occasional times we would not have that and take the time to go camp in nature or get a private hotel or air-bnb to just be in our own energy and catch up on blogs, etc.

Through our Social Media, a lot of people have been following the story.  I’ve found that a lot of people that follow us feel like helping us along the way or inviting us to them, they are already a part of the story and so many have chosen to contribute to keep us going.  I know in my heart, and have received as feedback, that a lot of people just feel grateful to witness our adventures, our love and commitment to a dream and so contributing in some way or another makes them feel like they are sharing in that dream as well.  That feeling in them is what brings them to a place of inviting us, donating to us and gifting us things that has lead to us living a minimal life in the perception of many but an abundant life to our hearts and souls.  

Thelma & Louise: You meet a lot of people and have made it your life’s work to contribute to helping other’s succeed. In your work, what is the one thing that you believe stops people from living out loud?

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Nikki: I truly believe that it is actually our fear of how GREAT we are and just how much we’ve been capable of all along that we fear. In that realization we are forced to face how small we’ve made ourselves and how disempowered we have allowed ourselves to be.  It’s hard to face difficult truths like that about ourselves but, on the other side of those fears are our authentic greatness and fullest expression of the divinity within.

Thelma & Louise: In your pre-interview you shared that you had spent years producing horror films. That’s a major turn from the work you are doing now. Talk about heading into fear only to kick it on its face! Can you tell us a bit about that journey and what you learned about fear and how it plays into our lives negatively?

Nikki:  I had a rather dark childhood that culminated into quite a bit of depression and anxiety as a young adult, even a period of agoraphobia, as a young adult. I ended up married to a childhood sweetheart that faced a lot of similar but not identical challenges and the two of us were coming out of the punk and gothic scenes. I believe in a lot of ways it was therapeutic for both of us, however, it didn’t resonate with me when I really started focusing on inner healing.  I suddenly wanted to be lighter and freer and started seeking more within myself and realizing that I didn’t want to be focused on blood and guts and that if I had the power to influence others, why not do it in a more positive way?

I actually was involved with groups that were helping create more opportunities for women in film, behind the scenes and in greater roles in entertainment to create a more equal and balanced voice in that industry, but, eventually I needed more and the farther I dove into finding my most authentic expression, I understood that film and television would probably be a part of that but I had an even larger mission here and so I shifted.

It resulted in the end of that marriage, although we are still friends and co-parents and I still love him as a brother and friend, and I met my current beloved while I was stepping out of that community and into the spiritual and conscious communities, learning and expressing as a more healed and authentic version of myself.  The stories and koans of horror are very real, for the most part, I just felt that it was also exploiting women in ways that I didn’t feel reflected my new path.

Thelma & Louise: What is one tip you can give our readers on how you have approached courage?

Nikki: Being courageous doesn’t mean you don’t have fear.  I have countless fears a day!  I simply keep going and abolish them and anything that comes up that I have to face, I just remember that no warrior, change maker, or hero has ever existed without some measure of resistance.   Courage to me simply means stepping beyond the veil of fear to keep going regardless of what it seems is holding you back or trying to keep you from your goals when you know they are in fact the highest expression of your Truth.

Thelma & Louise: What is your greatest fear that you have conquered?

 

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One of Nikki’s diary entries

Nikki: My greatest fear was dying before I was able to make a noticeable difference in the world.   So, in this  instance, fear literally became my fuel towards living with a positive direction, catalyzing me into greater service instead of allowing it to stunt me on my path.

Thelma & Louise: Finally, What is one of your favorite sayings?

Nikki: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

– Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.martin_luther_king_jr

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Fears Have Limiting Powers

I love getting quotes from wise humans. I love it more when I know these wise humans personally. Noah benShea is an author, poet and an incredible friend who often sends me tidbits of wisdom that really gives me the chills. Here’s one of them: Hope you enjoy this much as I do!

To read more of Noah’s beautiful pros, check out his book called Jacob The Baker!

 

 

 

“OUR FEARS ONLY HAVE THE POWER WE GIVE THEM

Fears follow doubt; faith follows hope.

Doubt your fears; have faith in hope.

In each of us is a place where we are better than our fears.”

– Noah benShea

My Voting Temperament

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I almost did not vote. I don’t like either candidate. They do not reflect my values or my ethical creed. My decision had to lie in a puddle of green muck where I would be forced to choose between the Wicked Witch of the West and the Grinch. Essentially I was forced to decide which lesser evil I was willing to live with. I hated how many people lost friendships over the candidate they rallied around. I refused to tell anyone who I was voting for, for fear of losing friendships.

For a long time I really felt Hillary was the person who was the “lesser evil.” She is calculating and brilliant. She memorizes facts. She is diplomatic. She has had experience speaking to world leaders and an impressive resume. I figured she was someone who could do the job with grace and dignity.

Clinton didn’t reflect all of my world views. I was concerned about her inability to keep our country’s secrets by allowing 650,000 emails vulnerable to possible enemies. She came across careless with manipulated self interests.

So I figured Donald would have to be the lesser evil. I switched sides. I would vote for Donald.

Then I watched Donald during the debates. He was a larger than life moron. He used bullying as his tactic and never said anything specific. His dialogue was laced with insults and unspecific rhetoric with no real plan. He said more about his agenda without saying anything. He said mostly nothing and yet said so much. CRAP. He said a lot of crap.

So I switched to Hillary again.

I figured I am a woman, she is a woman. I can read, she can read. She might reflect my values more.  She is intelligent. Heck Beyonce is voting for her.

But then I started listening to her relationship with countries that do not share our best interests and the way she allegedly manipulated the Clinton Foundation. Allegations began swarming around her Pay to Play tactics. Did she take money from foreign countries who are hoping America falls? Has she allowed these entities to manipulate and hurt the very system she was charged to protect?

So I switched to Donald again.

I watched SNL. I watched Fox News. I watched CNN. I read articles. I laughed at memes.

Donald, Hillary. Then Hillary. Then Donald. Hillary. Donald. Hilla- I flipped and flopped until my confusion left me feeling so confused my head was spinning. I didn’t want to vote. I became cynical. I decided there was no one person I could get excited about. Either way I felt we were doomed. I was not going to vote, that was my final decision.

But then I woke up this morning, November 8th. I remembered my grandparents fighting for this country. My grandmother who was an officer in the navy. My dad’s voice telling me the right to vote is a Jewish right that we should never take for granted.   We have not always had that privilege. My sister asked if I voted. My brother wanted to make sure I voted. Then I realized my son would be voting for the first time and that’s when I panicked.

I showed up to the polls. I stared at the candidate names. I wavered longer then the rest of the folks who walked into cast their ballots. I pushed a button on one of the names. I felt a sense of shame for not learning more about the candidates that don’t get on TV.

I participated. I showed  up. I have no idea which candidate will win. And I am pretty sure the one I chose is not worthy of my vote. I live in the United States. I am a citizen of this beautiful country, and I am privileged to have the opportunity to cast a vote. I wonder if I have any voice in this country that will one day change the next election to have running mates that will one day hopefully reflect healthier values with integrity and authentic principles we all so deserve.

Whoever wins I know this- SNL is going to kill it for the next four years.

God Bless America.

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Naked Perfect

So I did something REALLY LA stupid. I signed up for Equinox for a three day trial. If you live in Kansas, this means nothing to you. It just sounds like I signed up for a new app or a place that sells foreign objects. So if you are living in Kansas and reading this, (why are you reading this?) then I will explain what this outter space sounding planet is.

Equinox is the gym of all gyms in the coveted land of celebrity vanity here in Los Angeles. It is literally the gym athletes flock to in their perfectly coiffed blown out hair extensions wearing nothing but LU LU Lemons ( you know who you are). It is the place all Gods and Goddesses work out, tone and oh ya, relax in. Personally I only did it for the soft towels and the Eucalyptus Steam room. Ya, I said it. And of course for the free parking, I mean who can resist that combo? They offered me a “great deal” at $205 a month to use their soft towels everyday, but I Amazon Primed a $5 bottle of eucalyptus oil instead and said thanks but I’ll only be here for 3 days- no Equinox membership for me. No one was very happy with me except for Arturo the parking attendant who seemed to be the only friendly face I experienced the entire time I was there- Oh well there was “Francis” the personal trainer who wore all black except for his tortoise shell aviators. That friendly convo almost cost me $9,000 in personal training sessions- but I was wise, I dashed to the yoga room before he had a chance to give me the Pilates room tour- F that. I know I am sounding cynical, but to be honest, I am sort of sick of the Semi friendly agenda driven faces I see daily in LA- and I guess I just want someone to invite me to their gym because I’m nice and not “in need of a total body makeover” “Shut up blonde girl who kept staring at me while I hit the treadmill and thought I might need her “Friendly hints” on getting that “perfect physique.” Have you seen my gene pool? It literally has heart disease no matter how well I eat written all over it!

So am I happy I went? Yes- because I learned a huge lesson on the ability to age gracefully while not caving to the depravities of vanity this city clearly holds so dear. AND I REALLY REALLY LIKED those cold minty towels. (no i did not steal one.)  (I thought about it though, OHHHH I thought about it.)

I’m at the gym changing in the locker room  when in comes two 20-year-olds chatting and encouraging each other on their minuscule diet plan that consisted of caffeinated coffee, green tea, a bunch of vitamins I’ve never heard before, CLA, IRS, BM’s (probably breath mints) and of course a ton of bubbly water (to keep their hunger pangs away). On the outside they appeared to be “the perfect LA female specimens”. Perfect as in untouched from human life experience, lacking any scars,  disfiguration or trauma from the escapades of worldliness. They were the perfect combo to off set an ” I’m not good enough nor will never be like them” rant most women in the locker room clearly had running in their unspoken bubbles hanging above their heads like a terrible comic. In this case I was clearly the big orange Garfield standing between the Victoria Secret Angels.

They spent a good twenty minutes comparing their perfect non-abs quipping about how they plan on having “these flat bellies forever-” bc i guess they are “just that freakin DNA blessed” or delusional possessed. In between my eye rolling, eavesdropping, note taking and letting my flab hang out on purpose so they would know what to expect should a baby ever invade their “perfect concave tummies” (cue LMFAO’s-“Girl look at my body, I work out” soundtrack) I spotted another woman blowdrying her hair.

There in all her glory peered a woman a few years ahead of me. She was desperately trying to hold onto her youth with a fresh face of botox – but her warm eyes and familiar nod had me realizing we were on the “same team.” This female specimen had the body of a warrior female who flaunted with grace and dignity her share of battles- her naked left breast had been clearly maimed from what I assumed was cancer and radiation treatment. And I could tell she was listening very intently – hanging onto every word of the other girl team’s convo. When the youngins were finished- after I tucked my own cellulite into my underpants- the woman with the scar turned to me and said “what did those girls say- I tried to listen but I didn’t hear everything – sounded like they really knew something-” Hoping I would be the messenger to reveal the secret of youth- I spouted-  “Really?- after their first baby, Mammogram, and uterus exam will any of it really matter?“

The irony of reality hitting our adult selves could be cut with a scalpel. No amount of time, age or plastic can change the one thing we all inevitably become victims to- nope, its called adult-ing (notice I don’t use the term aging- that my friends is a BS term 20 year olds made up to convince us that our human scars of life are odious embarrassments vs the Medallion of Honor and Grace that they ARE.

You know what those two girls said? They said nothing, they said absolutely nothing. They said that they know little of the pains of childbirth, stress and clawing our way to the feminine tower. They said little of how much work it takes to make our female bodies contain life, then rid of it, then react to the changes because of it, then morph, grow and transform in spite of it. They said very little of the tears we shed when we are trying to conceive, the tears we lose after our growing bellies expel all the muscle and leave you with stretch marks. They said very little about the power of our breasts feeding life only to turn on our own lives. They said so little, that I wondered how on God’s Green Earth women knee deep into adulthood with all of the brilliance, understanding, knowledge and redemption they have acquired could possibly even for one moment listen and hope to hold on to even a sentence- yet an entire conversation of such naive words. While Adult-ing is not always fun, it does take bravery, whit and a hell of a sense of humor. I’ll take that over concave non-existent ab talk ANY DAY.

After that the woman with the half boob and I put on our sexy lingerie that reveals and half covers our feminine scars, we high fived each other and headed outta there with only one goal in mind- to eat a cookie while dancing on a rooftop. I bet that other girl team never thinks to do THAT. (Cue Lady Marmalade Soundtrack here)

 

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Your Critics Don’t Count

 

To say that I love Brené Brown, is comparative to me saying I love Chocolate, I love tequila, I love thai massages and I love getting all three of those joys ALL AT ONCE. I literally get a hard on for this woman every time I read her books (yes buy ALL of them and then read each of them 5 times like I did) or watch her talks.

Last year I came out with a very daring and creative music video I was commissioned to make to help raise awareness for the state of Israel. It was everything I wanted to say and put me in front of the camera vs behind it, which is not my favorite place to be. It was daring and vulnerable and caused those creative sweats and nightly “Oh my Gawd, what am I doing??” moments. And then I posted it, and hello Secret Deodorant, there was NOT enough of that shit to make my pits feel normal after it went up on the big wide blazing internet.

Every single- and I mean EVERY single frame of every single film I make is mulled over, thought through and has a reason. I spend hours in post after I create a project, and a lot of the times, especially when I am making music videos, each and every frame has a particular story to tell. I think everything through very cautiously and very deeply. So I was sort of surprised to hear from an old friend with her “constructive criticism” exclaiming her distaste for the project.

Let’s just say the word “Gross” was tossed around, and this friend thought I needed to hear about it. The truth is, I knew that deep down she was coming from a sincerely loving place, but it made me think a thing or two about how we as artists react to destructive- I mean “constructive” commentary we open ourselves up to.

I love to be pushed by my producers and by my colleagues who know what I am capable of and who are willing to give me guidance. I take notes dubiously and am the first to admit when I am off the mark. But in this particular case, the film had already been debuted, I had yet to receive really positive comments and I hadn’t the faintest idea what impact this film had created. The only feedback I had up until that point, was this person’s bold reaction, which caused my fear to run RAMPANT. It felt like My Fear was running up and down Walmart like a 4 year old and waving his arms at me with a banner that said “YOU SUCK YOU SUCK YOU SUCK!” Truth was, I was scared to make this film and in that moment I heard these comments, that little ole’ ball of fear was there standing there pointing at me, laughing hard and saying, “See, I knew this would happen- never create anything EVER, lets just hang out together in your bedroom and suck on bon bons and never play in the world again you hack.”

Yep, my fear was in full swing and really loving every minute of this exchange.  Fear was really getting my goat and it was having a party at my expense. It was LOVING how awful I felt and how it was enjoying EVERY SINGLE self doubt. This whole thing felt dirty. BUT  then I heard this talk by Brene Brown and all became right with the world and little ole’ fear was put in its place.

I love this talk that Brené gives, because she really gets what an artist goes through when we create something. And the best line in this talk that not only changed my life but also kicked my fear to the curb was :

“IF YOU’RE NOT IN THE ARENA ALSO GETTING YOUR ASS KICKED, I’M NOT INTERESTED IN GETTING YOUR FEEDBACK.”

Told ya she’s the bomb!

In that moment my fear looked like the Witch’s big green puddle on the floor and all I could hear now was him saying “I’m shrinking, I’m shrinking….I’m shrinking…” Take that you Mother- F’n FEAR. My cape had been reclaimed!  It was at that moment I realized that it didn’t matter what feedback I was getting, the film was already out, there was nothing to be done but celebrate my accomplishment of having an idea, creating it, and then birthing it forward. Sure that would have been enough, BUT then the universe called and made it even better, because that is what happens when you give acceptance to your creative life, it pays you back ten fold.  A few months had gone by after I had deeply accepted my accomplishment without any reaction but my own, when the Executive Director of the non profit that commissioned me to make the film told me the film was so widely well received and it ended up raising close to $80,000 towards the  purchase of one new ambulance for Israel. SO really, you can say this one little music video potentially saved thousands of lives. Suddenly “Gross” started to feel “GOOD”.

As Brené says- if you’re in the “Cheap seats not putting yourself on the line”, than please please don’t think your words matter to me, because they never will. To all creatives out there who are getting naked and putting themselves out there, please never stop daring, never stop risking all of your notions, never listen to your critics, stay in the arena, and keep on CREATING! (I am saying this to myself so I don’t pass out everyday from all the crap I’ve exposed myself with on the big bad blazing web.)

I’ve broken down her talk to a few quotes that I think you should memorize or at least write in lipstick on your bathroom mirror:

“Not caring what people think is its own kind of hustle”

“Reserve seats for the critics you lock out of your arena… take the critics to lunch, and to simply say when I’m trying to innovate, say I see you, I hear you, but I gotta show up and do this anyway…. I’m not interested in your feedback.”

“If you’re going to spend your life showing up…. you need a clarity of values….if courage is your value you have to do this…..you gotta have one person who’s willing to pick you up and dust you off when you fail….if you’re not failing than you’re not really showing up.”

“How important can you be….I’m looking for a stranger in the mall, that’s who I’m trying to win over.”

“The critics are there whether you show up or not.”

“The people who have the most courage and who are willing to show up are willing to look at their critics and say I hear you, but I’m not buying it.”

“One of these seat needs to be reserved for you. When we look up and we are putting an idea, art, design etc, who is the biggest critic? Yourself! Definitely ME- so give herself a seat please.”

“Design is a function of connection.”

Now Get Real Or Go Home!

 

 

 

 

Count On

 

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As the second night of Passover comes to a close, the Jewish people have an odd tradition of counting the day every day from that night forward for 49 days. The idea behind counting everyday, I mean literally saying out loud, “Today is the first day, today is the second day, today is the third day…” (You get the idea) is that as everyday passes, after we’ve mastered the state of freedom that the holiday of Passover has to offer, we then count every day as a way to take note in mastering our own personal achievement in behaving as free people with accountability, morality, transformation of self, and the ability to achieve a state of character refinement. We literally count everyday like it is our first day, like it is the only day that matters. And we do this for 49 days, which marks the actual day the Jewish people received the precious Torah from God on Mount Sinai- the day heaven kissed earth, the day our bodies became containers of a higher purpose, rather than a shell destined for listless materialistic attempts to coax our aching minds.

During these 49 days, we acknowledge our triumph over our ego, over our selves, over our selfishness, over any negative behavior we might face, and we are claiming as we count each day, we are determined to overcome our personal enslavement with dignity.

But lets be real. Is this what really happens? Because if we are honest, I think most of us wake up in the morning and, let’s face it, no matter how much we count the day, the same bitter challenges we faced from the day before will probably be there the day after again to enslave us as is the ritual we have so valiantly manifested, minus a few variables. And they are probably still there the next morning after that (like Groundhog Day). I’m not trying to be negative, I’m just trying to be realistic. In reality our circumstances may vary but they are not going to massively shift into a cataclysmic reversal just because a holiday came and went and now we are counting Monday.

Are we to really believe, because we are counting the days of our lives, our soap opera life has suddenly ended? Just because we celebrated the holiday of Freedom for 8 days and began counting everyday like OCD C3PO’s does not mean we are suddenly free from being – well ourselves. So what’s the game we are playing here? Is there any real relevance to counting everyday for 49 days, or is it some twisted game we use to pretend life is grand when really it is a battlefield?

Time is a funny thing, because no matter how hard you try to beat it at its own game, there it is staring at us in the face and sometimes it feels as though we are counting backwards versus upwards. What are we working towards? As soon as we get to that “coveted destination” aren’t we in old age, which eventually leads to our expiration? It seems odd to spend a good portion of our year counting upwards as a reminder of this morbid eventuality.

First we must understand how time works to understand how this incredible count off works. According to the Jewish tradition, time is like a sphere. Like a perfect circle, it has no end. When we celebrate a holiday, it is as if we are tapping into the energy collected in that force field echoed from our past. On Passover, we celebrate how we broke away from slavery. This experience is as real today as it was over 3,000 years ago. The human story is still the same, the pain we suffered, the triumph we accumulated is as tangible today as it was then. The human narrative of reliving our own personal slavery continues to be applicable. Some of us are enslaved by victimhood, others by addiction, some by feeling worthless, others by shame and/or guilt, some by the imprisonment of blaming ourselves,  blaming others, blaming the media, the candidates, Mcdonald’s Whopper that has an un-Godly amount of juicy lard . We all find ways to  subjugate our psyche.

Today marks Yom Hashoah, the day we remember the millions who perished during World War Two. Time is cycling, and today we feel the same feeling of sorrow and loss. Never forget means, no matter how many years have passed, we still have the memory of hurt etched into our minds. Holding on to pain is not something many of us can relinquish, nor should it be. We spend lifetimes trying to react differently as a result of pain, but that is why we carry it, to learn how to hold it without letting it crush us.

Remembering how our humanity has evolved takes tremendous work as we ask ourselves to go back to dark moments we faced, and relive those  tragedies again in the hopes that we never have to- again.

I don’t think there’s any accident to the fact that Yom Hashoah falls out during the weeks we are counting.

When we count something precious like a handful of diamonds, we count them over and over again. We make sure every single stone is accounted for before we create a parcel. If one stone is left unaccounted for, it is a massive financial loss, so we are careful with our counting. When we choose not to count a collection of material possessions it usually means we don’t have the same affinity towards it, it doesn’t hold the same amount of importance, the same amount of weight.  So what are we counting that holds such great importance?

We are counting our desire for confidence, our need for self compassion, our will to overcome. It is the confidence in ourselves, in our ability to defeat obstacles that become the precious parcel we protect through counting.

Everyday that we look into the mirror and we say “Today is the third day, Today is the fourth day, the fifth day, etc” we are essentially saying, we are further away from reacting to pain, and closer to the comeback . We are counting upwards.  We are collecting our parcel of goodness, of hope, of optimism, of courage and we are counting it over and over again. We count up towards a new enlightenment, a new being is emerging with every day we count as we climb that ladder away from the bottom, away from the darkness, away from the negative behaviors that have gripped us like a choke hold. We still have the hurt, we cannot forget it, but we emerge. Like a flower, we bloom out of the seeds of the destructive forces that wounded our tired delicate petals. And we grow more vibrant more fragrant, more redolent of our grief that now glows with gallantry.  We are carrying our hurt selves and then morphing- exploding into a greatness. During these 7 weeks it is as if we are counting our way up towards a shuttle launch, to the galaxy of the unknown and to the road less traveled. Only instead of counting backwards, 10, 9, 8, 7….we are counting upwards, 1, 2, 3, 4.  We count upwards to prove we have the ability to move higher and higher in our personal evolution despite the wreckage we drag, maybe in spite of the demolished crushed spirits that encumber our emerging identity.

On Yom Hashoah, as we count the day, let us count ON the day as well. Let us count on the moment we remember our 6 million, let us count on their fine spirits to carry us through those chagrined days where counting is a struggle, where remembering our character has a choice to morph in spite of the arena, where the tomorrow is not a journey into the desperate, but a voyage into the courageous unknown as we advance upwards, enlightened by the knowledge once we’ve hit the bottom, the only stride left for us to forge towards is up, up and away.

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Ditch The Tarzan Persona

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There is a social stigma that comes with allowing ourselves to ask for help once we are grown up. When we were kids, we asked for help all the time. Help me tie my shoe, I can’t find my backpack, can you explain this math problem? But somewhere in between paying for rent, landing a job, having a kid and buying a car we forget we can ask for help if we need it. We somehow believe we are less than if we don’t know what the hell we are doing. And this needs to change if we are going to be great at doing adult.

We are adults, and yet we think that somehow being an adult means we know exactly what we are doing all of the time and have the solution to every problem we encounter. The truth is, we are new to adulthood – we are experiencing a new adult day everyday. Why would we know what to do today, if we’ve never been to today before?

Sure we learn on the way and we discover what works and what doesn’t work, and at some point I guess the “there are no excuses because you’re an adult” line should figuratively work- BUT it doesn’t. What if we stumble and feel lost? Shouldn’t there be room for improving our lives with someone else? Again, I am going to blame Disney for creating this messed up way of looking at life. They put a strong tan boy in the jungle without parents who became a freaken animal loving survival genius, and we assume we can do the same? Thank you Disney for screwing us up once again. I mean, must we always imagine we live like Tarzan, alone in the jungle? We are not Tarzan!

What if we can’t figure out how to make a living? What if we get lost in our marriage and can’t figure out how to husband or wife? What if we suck at dating? What if our parenting skills stink and we realize our kids are out of control because we are stumbling in the dark?  Again- WE ARE NOT TARZAN!

What if we just asked someone who might be getting it right, or who might know a bit more or who might be a compassionate ear that will listen and somehow make us feel less alone with some added perspective we could really use to improve? What if?

In my opinion the number one reason adults don’t ask for help falls into one word- SHAME.

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I mean, does he look like he’s having fun?

Somehow in the adult syndrome, we morph into fear that has us believing to ask for help means we must admit we are failures, so we avoid it at ALL costs. We are ashamed of our inadequacies and we believe that allowing someone else into our world, will only have them pointing out our shameful incompetency more. This makes spilling feel impossible.

Here’s a little secret I’m going to let every adult in on. I know this secret, because A) I’m a woman, and I know everything and B) I actually speak to so many people on an everyday basis, that while I have not built charts or spent my time as a professional researcher, I am going to take a leap and self proclaim myself an expert because – again, I’m a woman –

Here’s the secret-

EVERY ADULT FEELS INADEQUATE at one point in time or another.

 

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Everyone except for him- I mean look at that putz- relax he’s a cartoon

Asking someone to help us through a tough time is not failing. The only failure is in staying put in our own head that does not allow us to take that leap we might need to step out of our own shit.

My dad used to say, “If you stand in your own shit, you’re gonna get smelly.”

The only way to step out of our own selves is to allow someone else’s perspective in. The clue in asking for help is in the search. For one cannot ask anyone for help. When I am in a shit storm, I don’t turn to the first person who walks into Starbucks to unload. I have what I call my “Team”. They are usually a phone call or text away. (ya you know who you are).

They are the ones that know my imperfections and actually love me because of them. They are just as imperfect as I am, which is probably why I feel so safe with them. (This does not apply to paid experts I have used in the past-  they are perfect- which is why I have to pay them to listen to my crap.)  But the friends and family I call when I need a lift  are improvising adulthood just as I am and they know that if at anytime they stumble, I am there to catch them as well with absolutely no judgment. Finding my team has taken a few years, and I need a team, because I have a lot of different issues I work through. I don’t use the entire team for every issue. Obviously- I mean does Google bring their HR problems to their production team? NO. They have divisions that handle each unique set of topics.

The truth is, we don’t live on an island and we cannot navigate life alone. I mean we can, but it is usually not very effective. When we reach out for help, when we let someone know we need a shoulder to cry on, we can use their advice or perspective, and we can allow our journey to be shared with someone else making our experiences in life far richer and less isolating. When you are on a dark road with only one light, it helps if there is a second person carrying another lamp to widen the view.

Shame is the weapon we use to protect our shallow selves. It does not insulate us from harm, it ignites it. Shame does not defend us from growth, it prevents it. It is the fortress that keeps us from living a full life.

Thelma & Louise exercise for the day: Ask someone you trust for help. Leave the fortress and take a leap. Ditch the Tarzan persona and get a spray tan instead.

Now Get Real Or Go Home!