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Gratitude in times of challenge

22 Nov

As we are approaching Thanksgiving i am rattled by mixed feelings. On one hand, there is so much i am grateful for. On the other, there is a sense of grief and devastation prompted by the biggest fire i have ever been close to.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we have not been able to freely enjoy what many of us take for granted: the air. For one and a half weeks the air was loaded with toxins and heavy particulate matter from the Paradise fire. We were advised to stay indoors and wear face masks when going outside. And in comparison we were the lucky ones. Those in Paradise lost their homes, their pets, or even their lives.

These past 10 days have been difficult. They were confrontational in a internal way.

In my coaching practice clients were talking about feeling depressed. It’s easy to be depressed when the sky is gray and smoggy, the air thick, and we cage ourselves in to protect our health. And all the while the fire continued to rage and burn everything in its path: woods, buildings, animals and people who are trapped. The situation was out of control and that made it so deeply unsettling. How can we be energetic and project positively into the future when there is no sense of safety, of refuge?

In the SoulCollage workshop this past weekend we made cards that reflect our inner devastation. How can it be possible that a tragedy of such magnitude would happen in California? If we here in beautiful, technologically advanced and wealthy California cannot be safe and protected, who is? Other cards expressed our longing for water, and with it the longing to be soothed and safe.

This year my gratitude list is long, but it is accompanied by a list of grievances. It is hard to live with uncertainty. It is hard to viscerally feel destruction while breathing, to know that the particles in the air that are hazardous for our health, burned something that was precious to somebody else. And it’s hard to look toward the future—a future that will likely bring more fires, more hurricanes, more horrors.

The underlying question, for me, is ‘How can we restore balance to this planet that is so out of balance?’ Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. Successful planetary change must include all of us—necessitating an ubiquitous acknowledgement of global warming, and the commitment of all of us individually and as nations to make inconvenient changes.

If it was easy, we would have solved the problem decades ago. We have not. And while it’s easy to despair and be stifled by overwhelm in the face of such an unlikely collective effort, i am reminded of the notion that change starts within. To me, the new question is ‘How can i create harmony within while doing my part in creating harmony in my environment?’ And how can i calm myself when confronted with a sense of doom?’

Here is what i can do for myself:

1) Get enough sleep. Without it, i wrack my health and my capacity for strength and resilience.
2) Celebrate what i have. Focus on gratitude.
3) Strive to find the positive in a challenge.
4) Meditate daily. 20 min consistently is enough to make a difference for me.
5) Choose simple nurturing activities such as exercise, a walk, or connecting with a friend or loved one, or listening to uplifting music.

Gratitude is a fundamental pillar to happiness. In my list it is only preceded by the necessity of getting enough sleep. And, for most of us challenges to our inclination for gratitude are real, not just when the biggest fire in California’s know history rages. It is a year-round endeavor to keep our mind calm and our spirit turned upward.

This Thanksgiving we all are grateful that the fire is over. That the hurricane and tornado season is over. In California we are grateful that the rain just started, however late in the season. We are grateful for clean air to breathe.

And, as we are celebrating Thanksgiving i can’t help but turn to spirit and acknowledge our amazing ability to survive. As we recover from the shock and heal the trauma we can turn toward thriving again. This time, let’s consider the greater balance of nature and find ways to keep the earth’s balance intact. The earth provides everything we have.

I am grateful for this beautiful planet, and i am grateful to you for reading this.

Happy Thanksgiving!

© Eva Ruland, November 2018

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When the apocalypse seems near

13 Nov

outside it looks as if we’re close to the apocalypse.

my mind wanders and wonders:  how long it will take until humans have destroyed what created them and what keeps them alive: this planet that supports life as we know it.

in a random conversation with a stranger i met while walking with my N95 face mask, this cynical stranger said that the fires make more room for new development. this ignites the fire inside of me that wants to lash out and cry:

“when will we humans finally understand that life is not about making more money and having more things. it is about celebrating what we have, treating it with respect, and sharing generously. it is about learning to realize that we are all bound together. if one of us hurts, we will all feel it sooner or later. the hurt will come back to haunt us, either in our dreams or in the form of outright hostility and war. when will we as a nation understand that the future will only be joyful if we start to connect with the basic conditions that create joy today?”

—– frankly, the air quality—or lack thereof—in the last days has depressed me. it is the manifest symbol of so much that we need to overcome, leave behind. it seems an impossible task. ——

for me, the terrifying hurricanes and the huge wildfires of the last years are not only great tragedies but are also painful signs of planetary imbalance. how do we restore balance?

i am reminded of the tenant of eastern philosophy that teaches that what we want to see we first have to create inside ourselves. the question then morphs into “how can i create more harmony in a time when i am upset?”

here is what i can do today and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow: i can do my best to keep myself centered. to not lose perspective on what really matters. to celebrate what i have. to speak my truth and stand up for what i believe to be true.

on a practical level, for me, this means to keep practicing these things:

1) meditate — this focuses the mind.
2) choose to stay positive. (ask: what is the learning opportunity in this?)
3) celebrate what i have. focus on gratitude.
4) choose simple nurturing activities such as exercise, or a walk, or a connecting with a friend or loved one, or listening to uplifting music.
5) get enough sleep.
6) stay grounded and get one thing done at a time.

following this prescription creates more resilience and greater strength. it allows me to stay present with what is while staying centered and true to my values. it helps me move ahead in large or small ways and to do my part in co-creating the future.

about me: My name is Eva Ruland and i want to be a part in changing the world. I do this by guiding women on a path to more clarity, more self esteem, and to more self empowerment. Read more at evaruland.com

The photo is by Luke Flynt. Thank you for sharing it at unsplash.com!

© Eva Ruland, November 2018

Summer of Strength and Hope

21 Jun

Today, i start with gratitude. I am grateful for my life, my relative safety, the love and the possibility that surround me, and i am grateful for everyone who touches my life or allows me to touch theirs. Today, i am also grateful for all those who rose up to protest the separation of immigrant families, and those who donated to help reunite children and parents. No child emerges from a separation from their family unharmed. As someone who suffered a separation at age 2, i know first hand how traumatizing such an experience is and that it changes who we are. It makes us less trusting, more defensive, and creates beliefs of not belonging, of not being wanted, of not being safe. These beliefs are harmful to the individual and they are harmful to society. It’s a long and difficult journey to undo them.

Summer solstice, the time when the sun is at its highest and brightest in the sky, is a time of celebration and of enjoying our success. Today, i celebrate the power of this collective uprising. It gives me hope where fear of a moral breakdown of the magnitude Germany experienced in the 1930s had surfaced. We have a long way to go to undo the harm that the current administration has caused socially and environmentally, and yet, today i feel hopeful.

Hope is one of the core ingredients needed for conscious change. Hope is an element in making something possible. You have to have an appealing vision before you, and you have to harbor the hope that you can manifest your vision. Those who are not able to tap into possibility are lost in deep depression. Many are. As a culture and as individuals we are extremely vulnerable to hopelessness. Many of us go through the experience of feeling stuck in a dark hole with no apparent way out.

So, on this summer solstice, i want to invite you to allow hope in. To celebrate what you have, and let your awareness shine on it as bright as the sunlight. Perhaps, just perhaps, you can even allow yourself to celebrate the discomfort with the things you want but don’t have, personally or culturally, as a force to bring you toward them. These discomforts might be the grit that propels you to the long wished-for new level in your life. If possible, i want to invite you to embrace hope.

If you can connect with hope and can feel the possibility of a shift, consider contacting me to explore ways i may help you. This might be your time to explore coaching, for an individualized gentle path to transformation. Or, if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and more drawn to group work, consider joining me for the Silver Queen trilogy (starting on July 14) and/or SoulAlchemy starting in September.

Please continue to let your voice, values and truth be heard. We are the ones we have been waiting for. Wishing you a joyful summer!

Much love,
Eva

© Eva Ruland, June 2018

Resist—and don’t allow history to repeat itself

30 Jan

Lately i have been preoccupied with the new political situation in this country. All my alarm bells are on. So much of what is happening here is reminiscent of what happened in Germany decades before i was born. I grew up with parents who were, up to the end of their lives, shocked and terrified by what had happened to their country and their people—don’t forget, the Jews were Germans too before Hitler decided to attack and scapegoat them. Not many had seen it coming or taken the signs seriously.

It took Germany as a nation about 70 years to recover from the unspeakable. This unspeakable happened because the first signs were not taken seriously. Most people could not imagine atrocities of the order Hitler conceived of and powered through with his rule of terror. By the time the German people realized that this was not a temporary show of power but the new horrid reality, there was no room for an influential opposition anymore. Youth had been infiltrated with ideas of heroism that were taken straight from mythical material and put into a context to serve the Nazi agenda.

Today, we know more than people did in 1933. I hope that in this country we collectively do not allow a similar tyranny to happen. The time to make sure of this is NOW.

I don’t think we have a choice. We have to rise and resist, and it has to happen now, before the trap closes and leaves us without room to act. Without freedom. Threatens our lives and those of the people we love and respect, and all life on the planet. Puts this country on the map as a place that is responsible for atrocities that seem to belong to the era of the old testament or the inquisition. Sacrifices our planet to greed.

I have gathered some material from different sources for you if you are interested to learn more about how to resist. Please pick an activity that suits your personality and join in saying NO.

To read about strategies to resist visit http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/stop-trump-10-point-strategy/

Join, donate, support, participate

Set up automatic monthly donations to organizations that resist, such as Greenpeace, NRDC, or Planned Parenthood. Get their newsletters. Support the ACLU and their Constitutional Defense Fund. Most of us can give at least $10 a month, a small amount for you that can make a big difference if we all chip in.

Here is a list to help you become active, compiled by  Mark Morford, with some additions.

Indivisible Guide: “A practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda.” Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.

The Action Network: The Left’s not-so-secret weapon. Essential organizing tools for progressives. “More than 650 women’s marches in more than 50 countries were organized using the site’s tools, according to the network’s own data.”

The 65: Essential list of actionable issues for the 65 million who didn’t vote Orange, and the millions of others who will, very soon, really regret doing so.

Swing Left: Aiming at the House. Because the 2018 mid-terms are coming fast

5calls.org: Five calls a day to make your voice heard. Specific names, numbers, scripts you can use right now. —— Calling seemed to be a good idea but alternative facts now rule at the White House. On February 7, 2017, when the comment period of the Environmental Impact Study for the Dakota Access Pipeline was abruptly closed 2 weeks early the President claimed that he had not received one single call about the Dakota Access Pipeline.

EarthJustice.org: Because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Daily Action: This one couldn’t be simpler: “Text the word DAILY to the number 228466 (A-C-T-I-O-N). You’ll be prompted to enter your ZIP code and that’s it—you’re signed up. You will subsequently receive one text message every workday about an issue that we have determined to be urgent based on where you live. You tap on the phone number in your message, listen to a short recording about that day’s issue, and from there you’ll be automatically routed to your Senator, member of Congress, or other relevant elected official.” Boom.

One.org

Resistance Manual: Open-source Wiki covering the most pressing issues, updated regularly.

Run For Something: Consider running for a local office.

SecureDrop: Directory of anonymous online drop points set up by various news orgs for safe sharing of insider information. This is where you go when you have the tapes, the docs, the leaks that will bring down the rancid fascist demons. You listening, members of EPA, USDA, HDD, NASA, Trump’s staff, et al?

ProPublica: Journalism in the public interest. Re-dedicated to fighting Trump’s idiotic “alterative facts,” and beyond. (Facebook)

Rogue Twitter accounts: On Tuesday there were 14, now as of this writing there are more than 50, in the first week alone. This is how bad it is. NASA, HHS, EPA, FDA, national parks, you name it – they’re all tweeting the scariest thing of all in the Age of Trump: Facts.

And these are scientists. With PhDs. Creating a sudden swarm of anonymous (“rogue”) Twitter accounts representing their agencies, in response to Trump’s threats and overt muzzling of fact, funding and scientific research.

Are they all legit? Who’s running them? Can they be trusted? No way to know, yet. But so far, they’re all kinds of amazing, and seem to be one hell of a potent counter-attack. After all, no one said the rebellion wouldn’t be a little messy… and hugely ironic, given Trump’s fetish for tweeting hateful bulls–t. Follow them all.

Signal (app) – Private, secure, untraceable text messaging. Ideal for muzzled/threatened federal workers, scientists, aides, muckrakers, journalists and, of course, Russian hookers who might have video of themselves peeing on/in front of the president in a Moscow hotel. Reporters are standing by.

Women’s March: 10 Actions in 100 Days

Don’t you know? The rally was just the beginning. It’s now a global movement. Join it.

News & Guts: Dan Rather, the legendary veteran reporter who posted one of the better, more frightening viral commentaries on FB few days ago, has launched a media production company. He is 85 years old and an excellent example of resilience. Absolutely worth following. Also on Facebook.

Charity Navigator: Guide to intelligent giving.

Photo: this photo was taken at the Women’s March on January 21, 2017 in Oakland.

© Eva Ruland, January 2017

Boo—How scary is the world we live in?

30 Oct

Earlier this month i attended a wonderful course focused on training 3rd eye perception. It was fabulous to have an entire weekend dedicated to energy work and honing my skills. Yet, as we left, one of the co-leaders made a remark that stopped me in my ethereal elevation. She said that the world has changed a lot and is not a safe place anymore. Immediately i thought of early humans who were hunted by large animals. I thought of the times of witch hunts and the inquisition. I thought of diseases such as the plague that wiped out entire cities. I thought of the many wars people have been waging throughout the ages. Were those times when the world was a safer place? I wouldn’t think so.

Still, I can appreciate the sense of overwhelm and helplessness caused by environmental degradation, heightened by power games and money interests that threaten to destroy our environment even more. I can appreciate that the landscape of political deception with its distortions of truth generates frustration. I can also appreciate the sense of overwhelm caused by the constant demands on most of us and how small the ledge of security is that we have to rely on. What happens if we cannot work anymore and our savings are gone? I can appreciate the sense of overwhelm and fear that is generated subtly and indirectly by the poverty and violence surrounding us, visible when we venture to use public transportation at odd hours or drive by the improvised camps under the freeway in Oakland—when we are confronted with those who have fallen through the cracks of this society.

But what is the solution here? Is it to avoid looking? Is it to wall ourselves in and not leave the cocoon for as long as we can help it? Is it to live in isolation with your computer and phone as your sole platforms of social interaction and leave the outer physical world to the bullies? To me, that is a scary world as well. Disengaging from the physical and withdrawing to live on Facebook cannot be the solution.

Don’t get me wrong, i love Facebook. It helps me connect with many people and it disperses news at a speed that is impressive. Yet, when looking at all the nicely curated posts of happy moments and wonderful achievements year in and year out, where does it leave you if you haven’t experienced similar happy moments and amazing accomplishments? It leaves you feeling less than. It makes you feel worthless and undesirable. It amplifies your isolation.

Yes, i too feel the frustration and overwhelm and fear engendered by modern life in the US and i sympathize with everyone who is burdened by it. But i also see the shiny virtual world as a trap when it is juxtaposed to the rough and dirty world of physical interactions and presented as safe. It’s not necessarily safe. It can lead to depression and even to suicide. Withdrawal into private seclusion is understandable but it is not a solution. Instead of letting our heads hang, i suggest that we claim what is ours: this world, this life. The world is as scary as we make it, or allow others to make it. Let’s claim it.

What can you do to claim your life more fully?

© Eva Ruland, October 2016