We are the warriors for the light


   We are the warriors for the light. Our eyes see through the darkness and we catch the movement in the shadows. We see the faint shimmer coming off the figures huddling in the corners retreating, swallowing themselves whole. We see the light pushing through the cracks, oozing through the fissures. We feel the pulsation of the light like the beat of our own heart and it calls to us with every breath. Some of us question why we have to wake up every morning and suit up in our armor of ferocity and scream our battle cries. Some of us stopped questioning lifetimes ago. Some of us are fresh and new- young recruits ready to run out onto the battlefield not yet scarred from lifetimes of fighting. Some of us are old war dogs so tired and our arms silver with thousands of years of scars.

We are the warriors for the light. We feel the screams of children shaking our souls and we hold lifetimes of faint memories of children that we have birthed and loved and lost and found again deep in our hearts. We soldier up and fight for those little ones, for we hold all of the children who have ever been and will ever be inside of us and we promise to keep them safe. We feel the screams of our brothers and sisters tearing at us when they lose a little one and we pick them up and make them part of us too. We beg the light to make us as big as the universe so we can wrap our arms around them and stroke their hair, so they can remember that the darkness will never win no matter how strong it may seem.

We are the warriors for the light. Our bodies become tired and our souls become weary and sometimes we make ourselves forget. We look away when we see the light oozing through the cracks. We drink and dance and run and fuck and make and do and buy and try to forget who we really are….because who we really are can make us so tired. But no matter how hard we press our hands against our ears and how tightly we close our eyes, we know. We know that we were made to see the light in the places that seem to be made of blackness, to let ourselves be cracked open again and again to cut through the darkness. We know that we are here to be a mirror that flashes commandments of love into the abyss.

We are the warriors for the light. We look at the darkness all around us and we think about what causes our own darkness. We remember that when we sat in the dark it’s because we felt scared. We know that it’s easy to forget that there is any light in the world because darkness takes away our sight. We understand that like the fish that live the deepest underground caves that over time lose their ability to see, some of us do as well. We know that light is not about seeing, it is about being. Even in the darkest moments we close our eyes and reach out to our brothers and sisters to feel the warmth of the light as we hold out our hands to bring them back into the sun.

We are warriors for the light. We know that we can never rest. We understand that the darkness is strong- and that it is so easy to slide into fear. We know that if we give in for even a moment, the fear and anger will pull us under. In those moments when it is so tempting to close our eyes and let the velvety darkness wrap us up and smother us, so tempting to believe the honeyed words that it whispers into our ears “hate,difference,intolerance,disgust,power..” we crack ourselves open even wider and let the brilliance blind us,envelop us, grow larger, brighter, hotter than the sun. We join our light with others like us and shine it into places that has never seen anything but the dark.

We are the warriors for the light. We are made of faith. We are made of love. We are the universe. We are all of us…and we will never stop fighting.

What Can I Do To Help?


Dear Ones-

As the refugee crisis in Europe worsens, so does the refugee crisis in Lebanon and surrounding countries. Thousands of people are streaming out of Syria on a daily basis with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They are faced with impossible choice of trying to find sanctuary in Europe, or finding refuge in the horribly overcrowded camps in Lebanon. There is just no good answer. The camp conditions in all places are getting worse…children are dying of disease and exposure to the elements. Aid to the camps in Lebanon is drying up or completely absent. Europe cant keep up in any way shape or form with the hundreds of thousands of displaced victims of war. In both places it is worse than anyone could ever imagine. This truly is by far THE WORST HUMANITARIAN CRISIS any of us have ever seen. I know everyone feels helpless, but the fact of the matter is that most of the help people are getting is because of us. The governments of the world have failed them. Its truly up to us. Every penny counts more than ever. So what can you do?

1) Educate- tell anyone and everyone what is really happening. Show them pictures. Post on social media. Empower people to act.
2) Get involved: Write your congressman. Leave messages on the white house website, start a petition to send to your state senator…show them that these people have THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE on their side.
3) Donate. We are having a bake sale and organizing other fund raisers to send funds to a camp in Lebanon for my and Nisreen Nasser’s outreach effort and to raise money to send volunteers to Europe to help.
4) Start a movement: You can organize and fundraise as well! Decide what moves you and do it. If its not this cause, and it’s something close to home that’s great! All acts of compassion are beneficial to all others on the planet.
5) KNOW THAT YOU ARE A VEHICLE FOR CHANGE! Your voice, Your love, Your will is what the world needs. It is time for a shift. Start a love revolution and show the capitalist construct that we live in that MONEY does not change the world- LOVE does.


My Case for Humanity


       Those around me know I have been really struggling as of late trying to make sense of what is the most devastating humanitarian crisis we have witnessed in our lifetimes. The suffering of the refugee population that is only growing exponentially day by day is overwhelming in its scope. I think what has been the hardest for me to understand is what seems to be a general apathy in regards to human suffering… especially suffering of this magnitude. I am sure everyone is experiencing crisis fatigue, as we are bombarded with such vast amounts of sadness and pain on a daily basis through social media and other information outlets we have all gone into preservation mode in order to not completely breakdown (which I am obviously navigating right now). Last night I read a particularly devastating article about the  refugee crisis in Lesbos and  was compelled to read the comments below. The vitriol and lack of compassion was astounding and profoundly disturbing. It was so disturbing that I found myself writing a response to a comment that interestingly enough was one of the most benign negative comments on the page. Most of the comments railing against the refugees were just so hate filled, I couldn’t even try to respond as I knew my response would fall on deaf ears. Instead I chose to respond to an older gentleman named Richard who lives in mIddle America and simply asked: “Why should I be responsible for anything that occurs because of a war in Syria?” This was not an evil, unkind question. It was a real, simple, question coming from someone whom Im sure must be a good human being who’s doing his best to live a good life. Just a man wanting to be a good father and or husband and or neighbor. A person who has love and kindness in his heart, but is overwhelmed by complexities and the pain of the world we live in today.  This is my response to him and others who  commented. What I ask is simple. I ask that we use what was given to us at birth and that truly is coded into us. This is my case for empathy. This is my case for humanity.

“To those of you who exhibit compassion and love for your fellow human beings- thank you. We must continue to live our lives with compassion and clarity to create any meaningful change in this world and to combat the vitriol and hate born from people who live in fear and ignorance. I have made the choice to live my life in service to my community and the world at large. That is a very personal choice that no one has to make in order to be a compassionate, caring, person on this planet. You can live your life from a place of empathy and have a profound impact on those around you that will have a ripple effect that has a global impact.
What I have been blessed to learn when working with all walks of life, socio economic demographics, religions, sexual preferences etc….is that we all have a very common need at our core- the need for love and acceptance. We all have or had parents and crave their acceptance and love. We all want to be happy. We want our children to be safe. We all want to know we are part of something larger than ourselves. How can someone be faulted for wanting any of these things? Hate and intolerance is certainly born from fear of the unknown…”Will there be enough for my family? Will I lose my job? Will things change? ” Ironically the emotions that seem to be based in self preservation are actually having the opposite effect. It is derisiveness that drives wedges into humanity that makes it impossible to have a dialogue and make actionable changes in our political systems, climate regulation and humanitarian outreach. Empathy is something that comes hardwired into us at birth. It exists for a reason.  All of the skills we have at birth are mechanisms for survival- the things we learn later such as hate and intolerance are taught to us. They are NOT mechanisms for survival…how can we continue as a species on this planet when we can not even agree on the fact that we are human beings and therefore all of us entitled to certain rights as such? If you are feeling that I am being over the top about empathy being a key to human survival, don’t take my word for it, take the hundreds of reputable academic studies that state as much http://www.wired.co.uk/…/the-empathy-revolution-anita….
I implore you for the fate of all of our children and dare I say eventually mankind, to rise above your fear and make the compassionate choice. I leave you with this quote from Nobel Peace prize winner Jimmy Carter and a quote from his Holiness the Dalai Lama :
“War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.
The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us the capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes – and we must.” -Jimmy Carter
“Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Warning: loving me might get you messy

960x540So when I was younger I noticed pretty quickly that there seemed to be two types of girls. One type was the girl who could wear white clothes and go through the entire day without getting dirty (still completely in awe of that). Their hair always seemed to be glossy and bouncy and they magically never had stubble on their legs. Somehow they managed to have clear complexions and no dirt under their fingernails. Their purses never had clutter and everything seemed to tidy.The other kind of girl could NEVER wear white because it would be dirty before they left the house. Their legs may or may not have been shaved, but regardless there was alway stubble and probably a little bit of razor burn. Their faces were shiny and their purses and backpack may have had remnants of a burst pen that leaked all over everything.  No matter how hard they tried something was falling -off apart or torn.

Girl A……Exhibit A

and Girl B ….  images-3

I was always girl B. My sister was girl A.  My sister’s life was tidy (until later- nothing can stay tidy forever), and my life was messy as fuck.

When I was younger I used to feel awful about being girl B. I would try my best to be girl A, but it just wasn’t happening. Since Girl A was the one that seemed to have everything under control and was the girl everyone loved and made life seem easy, I started to convince myself that Girl A was correct and Girl B was just, well….wrong. Even the media noticed these two types of girls and told me that even if you were Girl B, you had to change. Happiness was just a makeover away!!!!!


  I convinced myself that  the only way to be happy was to keep everything clean and under control and become Girl A.  Messy was just.not.a choice. So I set about to clean up my life. Things would be put in their place. Bags would be organized. Clothes would be carefully curated. Skin would be blemish free. Pretty soon I realized that I could never be Girl A no matter how hard I tried. So I decided to embrace that my legs would always feel a bit stubbly even right after shaving. I stopped caring that  I was never going to have porcelain skin. I stopped trying to even make white an option (I mean really who cares about white anyway when there is glorious, glorious black?). So whew! Thank god I figured that out early on. But not so fast…..  just because I realized that the outside didn’t have to be neat, didn’t mean that I realized that the inside didn’t have to be tidy as well.

We live in a world that encourages us to always be in control, to say the right thing at the right moment. The self help gurus tell us to ferret out the flaws and flies in the ointment and ERADICATE them with a series of self affirmations and awareness exercises. We are told what the proper reaction is in response to specific problems. We are asked to tie up loose ends and make clear thoughtful choices. We are told to keep our internal house immaculate. Believe me I bought this all hook, line and sinker (and yes, am guilty of spouting some of it myself). So the great battle to do, think and say the mess free thing began to rage inside of me.

   I have a huge personality. I am passionate about life. I love to eat, laugh, drink, love with reckless abandon. I love to burn bright like the sun and sing at the top of my lungs. Im unapologetic about that. But if the emotion is anger, fear, sadness, doubt, I find myself being apologetic and ashamed if I dont tie up lose ends, say the right things and take pause to make the correct choice. But Is it possible to live your life with your whole heart without being messy? Is it neat and orderly when my passion for life sometimes causes me to fly so close to the sun that the wax starts to melt off my wings? What happens when we do the “right thing” all the time? What happens when we play by the rules of self help and self care all the time and are “messless”? Not too long ago I found out what happens. We implode.

    A while back I went through something pretty challenging. I made sure that I followed all of the mess free protocol. I handled it with grace and dignity. I tied up loose ends. I cried as much as I thought I should. I “processed” my feelings in a productive way that allowed me to make thoughtful, clear cut choices. Not one time did I scream, sob, say the wrong thing or lash out in anger. “Ha! Look. THIS is how you handle things. Just because I live passionately on one end of the spectrum doesn’t mean I have to on the other end of the spectrum. Now things are ok. Right?”  Wrong. What I didnt know was that I needed to get messy. Along with the mess free protocol, I needed to scream, wail, beat my fists on the ground and lash out like a wounded animal. When I denied myself that, I held onto the messy part. I didn’t discharge it. I didnt allow it to burst its way outside of my most primal spaces , take its face as Kali who would burn away the darkest part of it. So the darkest, messiest part of it sat inside me and festered. It festered and grew from a shadow into a specter. It curled into a twisted mass and perched on my shoulder. No matter how much I used the mess free protocol- it didn’t go away. But because it was messy, I refused to acknowledge that it was there.

 A few months later seemingly without reason, my mess free protocol stopped being as effective as it usually was. I started to cry (and crying is not something I do very often…as stated in this post. Jesus, THAT is no longer true …sigh) and become angry for seemingly no reason. So to combat this I applied the protocol even more.  I kept on trying to tidy up the loose ends and make the correct choice. Soon it started feeling like I was digging a hole in dry sand. No matter how fast I tried to dig so things didn’t collapse in on themselves , the more things started to collapse. Then one day the other shoe dropped. I had the mother load of messy meltdowns. I drank too much, I said the wrong things. I lashed out. I cried…and I cried…and I cried. Mother Kali came screaming in. She burned houses down. She took no prisoners. She wailed and gnashed her teeth. She spattered pain, regret and fear on the person standing closest to me. She pushed me into the darkest parts of my pain with both hands. She made me sit in the middle of the messiness and rained blood onto my head. When I came out of it, the darkest part of it was burned away and my wound had been cauterized. The wound was still there. But it had stopped bleeding. When I looked around to  make a damage asessment, I saw with horror that I had spattered my mess all over someone. So I apologized. I felt awful. I was ashamed. Then it occurred to me that I had to do what I just did. I had to be messy. I had to burn houses down. I had to scream and gnash my teeth. When I only applied the mess free protocol, I was only delaying what had to happen. I was letting the mess fester and grow. Because I didnt allow myself to be messy when I initially needed to, instead of a little bit of backsplash, the person closest to me in all of this got completely drenched in fear and sadness. They got sucker punched in the gut.

  This was hard for me to understand. How is it EVER okay to let your mess splash onto anyone else? How could that ever be the correct thing to do? How was messiness the only thing that started the healing process? WHY DIDNT THE MESS FREE PROTOCOL WORK GOD DAMNIT!!!!!???? So here’s what I came up with. Sometimes life is messy. The heart is messy. Sadness can be messy but so can happiness (Really, you think it was Icarus’ sadness that made him fly to close to the sun and melt the wax on his wings?). Sometimes life can be tidy. It can be ordered, catalogued and  have clean crisp edges. When life is tidy and the mess less protocol works it’s wonderful! But sometimes you just cant avoid getting messy. No matter how hard you try you will probably get the person closest to you messy too. They will have to wipe some of your fear and sadness off their shirt sometimes just like you will have to wipe their fear and sadness off yourself sometimes as well. Perhaps we need to really understand  and accept that if you don’t sit in the mess you may never be able to resolve it and you will never be able to do the “healthy thing” that allows you to move on. If you dont cauterize the wound, you are only putting a bandage on the problem. So maybe we accept this. Maybe we let it happen. Maybe we give the people closest to us a poncho and tell them that things may get a little messy, but it wont last for very long. Maybe we tell them we have our poncho too, so that if they need to get their mess on us a little bit we will be ok. Maybe  afterwards we clean up together. I hear that a bottle of wine and lots of laughter are GREAT at getting out stains.