Privilege

I am privileged. I accept and admit that. Being a white, middle class, educated woman has granted me access to people, places, situations and things that others do not have access to. I have never been asked to leave somewhere or been denied a job because of how I looked. I have never known what it feels like to be hungry and not have access to food. I have always had a place to rest my head at night. I can walk into nearly every establishment and be treated as if I belong there (even if I don’t). I often take these things for granted and forget that not everyone has these same comforts and privileges.

Living in Hawaii is a bit different than what I’m used to. I am not in the majority here. I have, on occasion, felt people’s anger and hatred towards me because of my color. I have been in places and situations where I am accepted only because I am there with my husband (who is Hawaiian). I have seen, first hand what complete assholes white tourists can be and I am embarrassed sometimes, many times actually, to be white.

But just like people of color cannot change their color, I cannot change my whiteness. Despite the fact that I have always gravitated towards people who are different than me, have always had interest in learning about other cultures and have a deep love and respect for those cultures, I am still white. At least on the outside, where, to many, many people, it counts the most. And that is sad because the inside is really where it’s all at. You can look one way on the outside and be someone completely different on the inside. I have to be reminded sometimes (usually by my children) that I’m white. Which is funny. Except not really.

Many of us “whites” have lost our own cultures through the process of assimilation into the American culture. My father’s family came from Poland and France but neither the languages nor any of the traditions that my great grandparents brought with them are remembered or practiced by any member of my family. I know people whose ancestors came from the Middle East or Latin America who see themselves as white now because they can pass as white. And they want that privilege of being white. They want the country club and the big house and the access and the stuff and they don’t care what they have to give up to have it. Some even vote for politicians who create laws that oppress the people with the same racial and cultural backgrounds that they themselves have. And they don’t even realize that they are contributing to the oppression of their own people by giving up who they are to have what they have. My ancestors did this too and I am privileged because of it… but at the cost of losing where I came from and, as a result losing who I am

So yes, many times I am embarrassed to be white: When I read about the atrocities committed here in Hawaii by people who look like me I am embarrassed. When I witness first hand the damage caused to the environment here because of the selfishness and greed of people who look like me, I am embarrassed. When I see white tourists appropriating the Hawaiian culture for their photo ops or enjoyment, I am embarrassed. When I am either ignored or greeted with hostility by people of color when I attempt to speak to them I am embarrassed. I’m embarrassed by that last one but I get it. I get why some people dislike me. People who look like me have been oppressing other peoples for hundreds, if not thousands of years. People who look like me have caused the near extinction of virtually every indigenous people on the face of the Earth. People who look like me have raped this land, poisoned its people and continue to do so because of pure greed. People who look like me continue to benefit at the expense of others and many do horrific things to insure that they continue to benefit and exert their power over others.

There is good reason for me to feel embarrassed for my whiteness; I continue to experience privilege from being white and I most likely will for the rest of my life. I did nothing to earn these privileges and I can’t give them back but I can acknowledge that they exist, I can give back to my brothers and sisters of color with my time, my talents and my resources. I can be an ally to people of color in how I think, how I speak, how I vote and what I do. And I can encourage other people who look like me to do the same. So I encourage you now (whether you look like me or not) to acknowledge the privileges that you benefit from and think about what you can do to be an ally to those who don’t benefit in those same ways.

Sending you much aloha,

Shelly

PS. I know this blog seems random…  one post on Hawaii, then some on energy and one on privilege… I just share what I’m experiencing and if that makes me random, so be it. I hope you’re enjoying my randomness, and if you learn something along the way, that makes me happy. Namaste.

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As I set off on my journey towards self awareness and inner peace, I can’t help thinking that this world is seriously in trouble. All this conflict is getting in the way of my peace: the current political craziness, the environment, racism, homelessness, it goes on and on. How do you have inner peace when you witness so much chaos?

Our western culture is built upon what we can observe with our senses. Even science is built upon this, which is so ironic considering that there are things that we can’t directly observe that we know exist. For example, we know that dogs can hear sounds that we cannot hear. We don’t say the dog is crazy for hearing these sounds. We just accept the fact that they can hear things we can’t. Our culture is so focused on the self  and our sensory experiences and what we can consume that everything else has no value. That, to me, is completely horrifying. And it daily creeps in on my ability to maintain inner peace.

I was reading a bit about quantum physics the other day. Now I am probably the farthest thing from a scientist that ever lived but even I can see the implications that quantum physics has about how things work in the world. According to quantum physics, everything is made up of energy. This energy vibrates at different frequencies, thereby giving us the illusion of separation. We are basically all blobs of energy floating around in more energy, surrounded by blobs of energy. We are all connected by what is called the unified field (basically just more energy).

What this means to me is that what some people call New Age, is really Old School, Original Gangster (O.G.) thinking. Thoughts have energy. Words have power. We can connect to a higher source. We are one. The idea of interconnectedness is old. And sacred. And was somehow lost to the people who greedily began to conquer the world some hundreds of years ago (aka white people. Yes I said it). What happened?

My husband is Native Hawaiian. He has many friends who are from various indigenous heritages and I have been blessed to sit around the table with them and listen to them talk story. From my tiny (but growing) understanding, indigenous people all have a belief in the interconnectedness of the people with the land, with each other and with what some might call the spirit world. From what I gather, this interconnectedness is pretty much universal among indigenous people and has held on despite the fact that western people (aka white people… again) have been doing their best to wipe Native peoples and their beliefs off the face of the Earth for several hundred years now. Native people see themselves as caretakers of the land. It is a sacred law. Take a look at what’s going on at Standing Rock. I can barely stand to read the news; it has made me sob uncontrollably many times. The Water Protectors are living out their sacred responsibility. They are doing this for everyone. When all the water is poisoned, what are we going to drink?

This sacred responsibility of the Native Peoples extends to humans as well; in caring for each other. One friend told us that in her tribe The Great Law is that if there isn’t enough food for everyone to eat, then no one eats. I felt my eyes filling with tears when she told me that because, really, this is how the world should be. Why isn’t it? I’ll tell you… the world is like this because people don’t share. We consume and collect and hoard and then throw away things that we’re bored with or have rotted or turned to dust while others are forced to rummage through our trash, hoping for a few bottles to exchange for a packet of bologna or a McDonalds happy meal.

So how to have inner peace when there is so much outer chaos? To me I have to believe in the goodness and love that is within all these blobs of energy that surround me. I have to believe in the goodness and love that is in myself. Then I have to extend my goodness and my love and my positive energy outward; knowing, trusting and believing that this energy, this love has power and that it can change the world. I focus on this love knowing that what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said is truth: Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Let us all unite our light and our love and drive out the darkness that has somehow overtaken us. Let us live surrounded by, and filled with, and extending love.

Aloha

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Forgiveness

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On the path to  self love and inner peace there are many road blocks. The biggest one for many people is forgiveness. There is a mistaken belief that forgiving someone means that what they did was ok. But forgiveness is more about yourself than it is about the other person. It means that, regardless of what someone did to you (or what you did that you need to forgive yourself for), YOU are ok. You are who you have always been; who you always will be. It is connecting with your soul and realizing that, despite whatever horrors you may have endured, you are whole and you are at peace.

I am finding myself fascinated with many things about the Hawaiian culture. While I am only beginning my studies, I am already enamored with the wisdom and simplicity of the spiritual teachings. It is like finding pieces to a puzzle that you’ve been trying to put together your entire life. Let’s take forgiveness as an example…

In Hawaiian, the term hala is used to describe an act of wrong doing committed by or against another. Moke Kupihea, in his book The Cry of the Huna says,

A hala was an act that bound the wrongdoer to the person against whom the wrong was committed. It was said that, on the one hand, wrongdoers are bound by the fault they have committed and, on the other hand, those who have been wronged hold the cord that binds the wrongdoer. One, it was said, is the debtor, the other, the person or persons indebted to. The hala, then, is the debt that lies between them. It was the belief of the people of old that if those who hold the invisible cord do not desire to relax it but continue to bear the wrong in mind, or in its active state of wrongfulness, then they are said to “hold fast the fault,” ho’o hala hala.

He then goes on to describe how a wrong can spread generationally and “can travel into future generations of a family, a people or even a nation if such is the vastness of the fault.” This can only make people dissatisfied and prone to violence. It is as if they are strangling on the cord of the hala.

It is impossible to be at peace and to hold a grudge at the same time. No matter how vast are the wrongs committed against you, to hold onto them means to continue to suffer. To feel that you need to wait until someone apologizes or offers reparations is to basically put your own wellbeing on hold. If you’re hoping for reparations, you can still have that after forgiveness has occurred. In fact, it is more likely that the person who wronged you will offer up reparations if you come to them from a place of forgiveness and peace than of accusation and blame. No need to wait. The time for forgiveness is today because, let’s face it… shit happens. Bad, unthinkable, horrific shit sometimes, sadly happens. To everyone. But it doesn’t need to cause endless suffering.

I know you’re probably saying to yourself right now, “She doesn’t know me. She doesn’t know how crazy hateful my childhood was. She doesn’t know about how my step dad sexually abused me for years… ” Or maybe your saying, “Ya, but you don’t know the horrible things I’ve done in my life. I’ve done and said unspeakable things.” You’re right. I don’t know what happened in your past. But I know what happened in mine and believe me, it was pretty fucked up. So fucked up in fact that I had to go to hypnotherapy because I had repressed the worst of the fuckedupness (yes I just made that word up). So if I can learn how to forgive that crazy ass shit, then you can too. Because to not forgive it, is to have your life permanently tainted by it forever.

Now I’m in no way saying that forgiveness is easy. It is hard as hell. But it is possible. For me, it helps to be in a calm, meditative state. I am a big fan of using essential oils to help uplift my emotions so I apply that shit all over (I’m not even kidding right now). Be sure to use the highest quality oils (I use Young Living) or else you’re not doing yourself any favors. Next I envision the person who wronged me standing in front of me. I imagine telling that person what he or she did that hurt me and how it affected me. I then say to that person, “I forgive you. I release you. And I set you free. You are free and I am free.” I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I have to do this repeatedly. Whenever I feel anger or thoughts about whatever negative thing happened bubbling up, I just repeat this process.

You, today, right now, have the opportunity to free yourself from whatever perceived wrongs (no matter how horrific) happened in your past. I guarantee you that you can do it and that you are going to feel so much lighter for having let go of that horrendous burden. Forgiveness needs to take place in the present so that healing can occur in the future. What are you waiting for?

Aloha nui loa

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Dogs always forgive themselves.

Release

A few years ago I read a book called “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay. This book actually changed my life. Louise was able to heal herself from cancer through forgiveness, positive affirmations and changing her own thought processes. It is her belief that every illness, every pain we endure is caused by our own negative thinking. I have come to believe and embrace this.

One thing I noticed after reading this book is that often my own thoughts had included the words, “I’m not good enough.” This thought had become so ingrained in my thinking that I wasn’t even aware that it was constantly in my head. It took concentrated focus and meditation for me to even realize that it was there. Our thought patterns can become so habitual that we feel powerless to change them. But we can change them. We just have to decide that we are going to change and to keep going no matter how difficult it may be.

Being aware of my own negative thinking was the first step in changing my own beliefs about myself and about the world. My life has subsequently changed dramatically since then. One of Louise Hay’s affirmations that I started using (and still continue to use) is, “I am willing to release the need to feel unworthy. I am worthy of all the best things in life and I now lovingly choose to accept them.” I then go on to add all the things that I want in my life… “I am worthy of love and I accept it now. I am worthy of freedom and I accept it now. I am worthy of prosperity and I accept it now…”

I encourage you to try this. Say it out loud. Write it down. Look at yourself in the mirror and say it. If you’re willing to give essential oils a try while writing affirmations, I recommend a blend called Release by Young Living. Much of our negative energy is stored on our liver. Try applying Release over your liver area (front and back just under your right breast area) in a circular motion. As the feelings bubble up, work on releasing them; just imagine them blowing away in the wind. If there are people (including yourself) that you need to forgive, be sure to practice that as well. I will be talking more about forgiveness this month as well.

The first step towards really loving yourself is to release your need to feel unworthy (if things in your life aren’t going the way you would like, you probably have feelings of being unworthy whether you realize it or not). Apply and diffuse Release and practice this affirmation and I can almost guarantee you that you will realize whatever it is that is causing you to feel unworthy. Hint: it’s always something you made up about yourself and it’s always a lie.

For more information about Young Living or to become a wholesale member click here.

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