Glorious Living

We are a product of our environment, we cannot change.  

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Our circumstances have been set in motion from the beginning.

We are failures.

We are stuck.

We are worthless.

These sentences are belief systems. They are only real by the conviction that our own minds have set for them. But they are figments of our imaginative minds that lack true imagination, yet ache for invention.

To change our made up voice that thinks these negatives, we must only look inside our own truths that exist underneath, that are drowning, that are aching to be seen.

Try hearing the self that speaks to you quietly, under the loud voice that screams these false beliefs and see how quickly your life becomes alive.

True courage comes from hearing the whisper of your own voice emerge through the sea of the negative rattle.

Today become alive.

See what happens.

It is glorious.

 

 

When Did You Lose Yours?

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We are fortunate to have Marianne R. Klein’s artwork included in this essay.  About the artist- A holocaust survivor, Marianne was born in Budapest, Hungary. Her art collection is a series of acrylic on canvas impressionistic and figurative works that depicts a symphony of colors.  She also enjoys experimenting with different mediums and techniques. Her screenplays are currently under consideration. When Marianne is not painting, she is busy writing.  Her recently published book entitled “All the Pretty Shoes” is now available on Amazon.com and can be viewed at www.alltheprettyshoes.com. Marianne’s artwork will be exhibited on February 4th-15th 2017 in Santa Monica, California at the Bergamot Station, Building G – Room G#8  starting @ 5:00 p.m to 9:00 p.m.

 

When did you Lose yours?

Was it the first time you heard the whisper of death creep into your wake?

Did you lose yours upon seeing illness?

Or was it upon feeling betrayal?

Did you lose yours the first time you lost love or the moment you noticed shame?

Mine was lost at the age of 2 and then again when I turned 22.

I’m sure you can remember the exact day you lost your innocence.unnamed

The exact moment you no longer saw the world with the same black and white colors. Like a baby adjusting to the light, as the tinge of grey began creeping into your vision, when you suddenly saw that veil lift as a crystal clear unblemished truth began to change you. Not at first. But soon. And the truth invaded your body with realism and cynicism and confusion. Not right away. But eventually.

Some lose their innocence when they are children. I lost mine at the age of 2, I was too young to understand how it impacted me. Then I lost it again at  age 11 and began to understand how the impact was informing my decisions and my fears. Then when I turned 22 I lost it completely. Gone forever like a shadow muttering my name before I even had one. That impact made me remember how my innocence was something I wished I could hold onto. I began to resent my innocence and looked at it with distrust. I used to close my eyes and pretend I was preserving my innocence longer, wondering what it might feel like if it stayed in tact. If I had lost my innocence older, would it have  mummified inside, making the ability to see truth that much more burdensome? Would truth have been more difficult to recognize? Or would it have been easier to adjust to? 

Learning truth after innocence fades feels like squinting at first, like the light is so large and so colossal our brains are unable to interpret the full scope of the information pounding down the pavement.  I wish I could look at truth with a sort of unadulterated awe. Instead it has become quite loud and colossal and very disruptive. I have a hard time accepting truth. It is not a construct I like very much. Yet it is necessary. It is affirming yet alarming. Discerning yet indifferent.

We are very crafty. We can look at the large mountain of truth and still find a way to completely avoid it’s rearing head. For years we can pretend reliable information is false. We can build strategies that allow truth to lie under the bed just a little while longer. We can even become brilliant at alternate reality storytelling, because the hurt, the betrayal, the realness of it all is just too much to bear. It is just too much.

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As we get older new stories, new revelations, new shocks can seep into our system. And one day we finally look into the mirror, like deeply look, and really stare and suddenly our own truth looks foreign to us as well. We do not know our own truth anymore, so we begin wearing other people’s eternal verities. We adopt new garments of information that become our own and fixate our bodies into these threads of perceivable isms until we forget who we are completely. We can’t even feel our bodies anymore. I have done this quite brilliantly. Ignoring body parts, suppressing pain became a habit I had not even recognized I was doing until it became too difficult to rely on any longer.

We can do pretend for many reasons, but mainly because truths, which become to difficult to swallow have the ability to prevent us from feeling everything and gives us permission to go on autopilot. The danger in this mechanism is that it can allow illness take over, because the blocks in our bodies become huge gaping  holes for the feelings of dis-ease to settle into. Discomfort, disbelief, and our own disconnection with power can become unrecognizable and alien. Our voice is lost at sea, our consciousness asleep, our bodies rejecting truth becomes the exercise we cannot stop without intervention.

But imagine if we stopped that train from heading down the reckless path before the illness set in. How do we stop it?

By asking questions of ourselves. By noticing the patterns, how losing that innocence has affected our daily living routines.  By feeling ourselves suppress our convictions and emotions hiding behind the decay. By noticing our bodies and how our bodies are reacting to the loss. By seeing, not just looking. By feeling, not just touching. By listening, not just hearing. By literally smelling the damn roses for once. For just once.

Before we become too despondent maybe we can reawaken that glimmer of hope that still simmers on a low flame. Before it leaves us slowly extinguishing into a prolonged termination.

Before we layer. Layer with outside labels and immerse ourselves with exterior stereotypes. Before we create ideas that become more external ideas so as not to have to face the person who lives under the truth. The person who hides behind the realism that relies on falsehood as a mechanism to find truth. It is quite startling, really, that we have the audacity to  search for truth using pretend. As if the pretend wills the truth away.

Truly, we don’t want her to leave,  the hope. If we are honest with ourselves, we want her to stay, to re-infuse our souls and re-install our vibrancy. We want her to bathe our cynicism  and doubt into submission. But in order to do that, we must have  enough trust in ourselves, in our voice, in our power to will that into being.

If we are honest with ourselves, do we not want to get to that place where truth lives and thrives? Where the veil is no longer casting that shadow only to find us awake? Not the awake where we tease ourselves into a living that looks pretend, but the sort of living that is rooted in the deepest layers of soul. Because our soul, the instrument that keeps us awake and opens our heart, refuses to live in falsehood and has been catching us from the beginning.  It has been activated and operates on unwavering authenticity- and paradoxically on loss of innocence.

And while there are still moments we catch ourselves still aching and longing for that time of falsehood when innocence still lay intact, we are better for all of our innocence finally leaving on the whisper she flew in on. Yes, truth is more complicated, yet it is also more defining and the birthplace of creation. The creation of our new  more powerful, more beautiful, more compelling, persuasive intact new self we have finally allowed ourselves to meet.

 

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

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!

 

 

 

 

Get Lost

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This was me before I got lost. Notice how clueless I look.

The only way to expel fear is to recognize you are not alone.

A few years ago I spent a day in France. I was excited to tour this beautiful romantic city, even if for just a few hours. My friend, Rochel and I landed super early and planned more than we could fit in, but because we are super human- we managed to see pretty much everything important in just 8 short hours.

In between hitting the Eiffel Tower, sipping an espresso in a cafe (of course one must get to France and experience that) downing a baguette, and hitting up the Jewish quarter in the 3rd and 4th arrondissement we ended up splitting up for what was supposed to be a short period of time. Within several minutes, every building and street began to look exactly the same to me, and I got lost.

This has happened to me before. I tend to pay attention to detail, which causes my imagination to wander, which eventually causes me to lose direction. Like the time I was 14 and had wandered off in Fresno while I was on a student getaway weekend and ended up walking the streets of Northern California until five in the morning.  Why they never set up a search party for me, still pisses me off. I guess the teacher in charge figured he’d have one less annoying mean-ager to make a warm soggy tuna sandwich for on the bus ride home.

It happens.

Okay it only happens to me.

But the time I got lost in France was different then getting lost in Fresno.  I was in a different country and unable to understand the language. AND MY PHONE DIED. (not that I had a phone in Fresno either, it was shabbat and also they didn’t have phones back then.)

Here’s what happens when you literally get lost.

You Panic. (check)

You Fear being Kidnapped. (check)

You wonder what it will be like to be trapped forever and what new name people will start calling you.  (Oh is that only me?)

Then You pray.

It was in that moment in prayer, while I wandered the streets of France, knowing my flight was to take off in 2 hours, and that I might miss it, and that my friend was probably panicking, that I realized no matter how alone I felt in that moment, I was actually not alone at all.  I had a guide and all I needed to do was ask him- “God, what direction should I head towards?”

So I was all, “Hey God, I could use a compass, right about now.” So God sent me into this adorable cafe where they spoke enough broken english and understood enough sign language to allow me to charge my phone and BAM- I was back on track.  I stayed with it and found my solution, but solutions don’t come in panic mode. Solutions don’t happen during fearsome episodes. Solutions only come once we surrender. I had to surrender if I was going to catch my flight, find my friend, and not end up as a sex slave. Hello “Taken” thank you for ruining trips to Europe for me forever.

Fear happens when we are not looking, but is conquered when we finally see.

That day it became clear to me that no matter where I go, I am not alone.  I have a Higher Power calling the shots. And I realized that Facebook is great for finding French Jews named Eli who got my friend, Rochel and I to the plane on time. Thank God for him, cause I clearly couldn’t find my way to a train if I was staring right at it.

Now you see why I need a tour guide wherever I go. I wonder if God has an app for that.

 

 

 

The Work In Progress

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She entered the room
My ego- without me
I tried catching up
too smooth -that bourgeoisie
She kept talking so loud
I couldn’t contain her
She stormed through the crowds
Like the big entertainer
As if she was the only one born
The me I saw thought she was adored
But the me I know understands much more
Me- I thought she was a twit
Everyone whispered
Who is that- she is it
But I knew deep down
She stood for so few
Thought she knew better
Then most of us do
She swung from side to side
As falsehood replies
Talking to the real me
That ego of mine
What a fake what a phony
How everyone buys what she’s selling-
Bologna
So I’m quieting her down
That fake shitty louse
And leading from the real
Tuning out that powerhouse
That ego of mine who thinks she can lead
She has no idea what I’m capable of
She can’t understand my beliefs
She got so excited when I gave her attention
Flaunting herself in her one party convention
She whispers inside my vulnerable mind
She captures my thoughts and hijacks my time
She rushes in swiftly and handles my head
Like a slithering snake with no compass- mislead
I don’t seem to know her or like her anymore
Myself has been watching her tricks schemes allure
I’m watching her closely and realizing how far
She is from the me I now know is ajar
From the whimpering sniveling mastermind that hijacks my thoughts and borrows my time
From the taunting twerk of her banter lines
To her idle waste of my precious mind
I’m releasing this brat from the place she contains
And forcing her to be imprisoned bridled and tamed
No worshipping or honoring will this ego be served
Nope this bitch has to go
I’m kickin her ass to the curb