Fraud

I am a fraud

I am a fraud. On the exterior I am all love and light and namaste but on the inside there is darkness. There is self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness. There are thoughts of “I’m not good enough” ringing through my mind like church bells to mark the passing of time. The books I read talk about the power of changing your thoughts; words and thoughts hold mana, spiritual energy, that can affect your entire world. I know this is true; I’ve seen the power that changing my belief system has had on my own life, but there is still that tiny bit of darkness that grabs me by the throat at times and won’t let go.

In the book, Love Is Letting Go of Fear, Third Edition by Gerald Jampolsky, Lesson 3 in his Lessons for Personal Transformation says, ” I am never upset for the reason I think.”  The lesson is this: We think that our feelings are caused by what’s going on around us, but in fact what we see and experience is determined by the thoughts and beliefs in our mind. I think about this every time I get upset.

I’ll give you an example. Today I was upset because my business is not growing at the pace which I had anticipated. I’ve been working harder than ever and have had one of the lowest months in awhile. When I mentioned to my husband that I was feeling sad about this, I felt that he blamed me. I became even more upset and started to cry. I knew I needed some time to think so I took my dog for a walk with tears streaming down my face.

As we walked along I thought about why I was really upset. My whole life I have struggled with feeling unsupported, unworthy and alone. I suffered abuse as a child which was ignored and allowed to continue; I was in an emotionally abusive marriage where I was often left feeling unworthy, unsupported and alone; After my divorce I was a single mom and pretty much had to do everything myself. So this situation today reminded me of all that. I felt alone and unsupported. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and I was getting crushed beneath it. But I recognize that those situations from my past are not only different from today’s situation, but they are over. This helped me to disassociate from my current feelings of disappointment and lack of support. I decided to see things differently (Lesson 12 in the book).

So, rather than feeling unsupported I am thinking of how I can offer support to others (Lesson 1: All I give is given to myself). Rather than feeling alone I am thinking about how I can encourage team bonding. Rather than blaming myself for things I can’t control (the past, other people, etc.) I am dreaming up ways to reach out and teach and help and inspire others to have a life filled with abundance, wellness and joy. I am writing down all the things I am grateful for and all the goals I’m looking forward to achieving. I am letting go of a past that no longer serves me and living in a present where I am loved, supported and worthy. I am consciously choosing the light and letting go of the darkness.

Maybe I’m not a fraud after all. Maybe I’m just human.

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.

Redemption

My husband Mike likes to talk to cab drivers and Uber drivers and airport shuttle drivers… if your driving us, he wants to talk with you. His father was a driver here on Oahu, as well as a gifted story-teller, and I think Mike realizes the depth of both information and history that these amazing people hold. I actually like that he likes to talk to our drivers. It makes the trip much more interesting and you never know what you might learn.

Last week we were in Florida  attending a conference for our Young Living business. We decided to stay in the convention center where the conference was going on and we decided not to rent a car since we would be busy much of every day. When you stay at a conference center without a car you are pretty much held hostage. They charge you crazy prices for mediocre (at best) food and drink and you’re forced, out of boredom, to walk around the man-made environment that is designed to look like nature so you feel better about paying $7 for a bottle of water. It is, in a way, oppressive.

One day we decided to take an Uber to a Puerto Rican restaurant that was recommended to us by one of the valets (we prefer recommendations from local people as the concierges tend to be trained to give tourist-specific advice). We hopped in the back of the car and within minutes the conversation with the driver began. On this particular day the conversation began as it usually does: the drive was going to take a bit longer than we’d thought; the weather was unseasonably hot; no, he’d never eaten at this particular restaurant. I noticed the man’s Caribbean accent and I knew it was a matter of time before…

“Where are you from originally?” Asked Mike.

“Jamaica,” replied our driver (I’ll call him Willy). Then the conversation took a turn that I hadn’t anticipated. The two of them began discussing the similarities among island people; how they are very family oriented; the problems living in a place crowded with tourists, the loss of culture and dignity of the native people. During a pause in the conversation I told Willy that I had been to Jamaica before. I asked him what city in Jamaica he was from and he replied, “Oh it’s a very small place, you probably have never heard of it. St Anne.”

“I’ve been there!” I said. “That’s where Bob Marley was born. I went to visit his childhood home when I was in Jamaica.” I didn’t tell him how I had drank some “tea” from an old Rastafarian man who was selling it outside of Bob Marley’s birthplace (bad choice but it made the bus ride down the mountain more enjoyable). And so, the subject naturally turned to Bob Marley. Willy told us that he had met Bob Marley once right before he died. We talked about his music and Mike said that his favorite Bob Marley song was Redemption Song. Willy agreed that it is the best song that Bob Marley ever wrote. They talked a bit about the significance of the lyrics and how powerful they are…

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
‘Cause none of them can stop the time

To me, this is deep. This made me understand my husband and our driver in a new way. For these two men from different islands share a similar history. Both of their peoples have been  oppressed and marginalized for over a century and continue to be treated as less. In my opinion the worst thing about oppression is not that others are mistreated (although that’s terrible, don’t get me wrong). To me the worst thing about oppression is that, because of this mistreatment, the oppressed are convinced that they are less; the mental slavery that comes from oppression is crippling. It makes the oppressed believe that they are unworthy. And that is simply not true.

And whether or not you have experienced oppression, the truth is that you are affected by it. We all suffer from the effects of oppression whether we realize it or not. To allow some to suffer while others go about their day as if all is well in the world affects us at the soul level. To believe that this is how the world should be and that there’s nothing we can do about it is crippling to ourselves and those around us. To put your faith in a system that is unjust is the mental slavery that Bob Marley talks about in this song. And, to some degree we all suffer from it. But there is good news in Bob Marley’s song. The good news is that the redemption can be found within ourselves. We have the power to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery.

We are, none of us, better or worse than anyone else. To believe in our own superiority or worthlessness is an illusion and only facilitates suffering. But the good news is that Bob Marley was right; we can free our minds from these illusions. We can change our thoughts and help others to change their thoughts to reflect the light that is in each and every one of us. We all have within us that same spark of life that was given to us by the creator when we first came into this world.We can start today by treating ourselves and those around us with aloha; with love and kindness, remembering that, whether you are a doctor, teacher, waitress, cab driver, or anything else, you share that same light with those around you. We can free our minds from the status quo and in turn we can free the world.

Won’t you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs

You Tube video of Redemption Song