Tag Archives: Diversity

One Woman’s Quest to Bring More Color to Yoga

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Although yoga is rooted in Indian tradition, it has become rather whitewashed in the United States. The typical image of a yoga practitioner in the U.S. or in the Western world is a privileged Caucasian person. However, yoga is a tradition which predates technology and does not require any special equipment in order to be performed properly. So there is no reason for it to be seen as a privilege exclusively reserved for the, well, privileged. Continue reading

America the Beautiful is Still America in Multiple Languages

By now you’ve probably heard about the controversial Coca-Cola ad that aired during the Super Bowl. The spot featured “America the Beautiful” sung in various languages and displayed images of various American families, including a gay couple (yes, that’s apparently still scandalous).

You’ve also probably seen the lists of tweets from people rebelling against it and threatening to boycott Coke products (Good luck with that – they are everywhere). The outrage over the commercial sparked the hashtag #SpeakAmerican. Are we really surprised? That sort of backlash is to be expected whenever a company or campaign tries to embrace the “otherness” that America was founded on.

What is inspiring though is the amount of people that have stood up in support of the ad, toasting it for it’s depiction of America’s core values of diversity and togetherness. One noble newswoman added her two cents that sum up the situation very nicely:

Her line about the Statue of Liberty not saying “give me your English-speaking-only-Christian-believing-heterosexual-masses” is especially applaudable. What’s even more ironic is that the song’s lyricist Katherine Lee Bates lived with her female partner in Boston for 25 years.

When controversies like these occur, one has to wonder if some of us received a different course on American history. Were some of us not told that America was a country founded by foreigners? The Puritans came from England to escape religious persecution and thus our forefathers created a Constitution that intended to give a religious safe haven and a fair chance to anyone that came to America’s shores. That’s not to say that America has been perfect at embracing diversity. In fact we’ve been far from it – you only have to look at the Civil Rights Movement or the current fight for marriage equality to see that. But does the sound of America the Beautiful being sung in the languages of America’s people – all kinds of them – really still enrage us? Why does that feel so unnatural to some of us?

Tolerance will never develop overnight, and we may never see a day of universal acceptance of religion, race and sexual orientation. Yet we can ask to move forward. The advertising gurus at Coke seem to appreciate that, and so do people like this news anchor and all those that supported this ad.

An Open Love Letter to All the Judgmental, Racist, Sexist, Homophobes Out There

UntitledBy Chris Grosso

Hate, negativity, close-mindedness—none of this is new. Being heavily tattooed with big holes in my earlobes, a skateboarder and a fan of punk/hardcore music since my teenage years has left me all too familiar with judgmental people, especially growing up in a small town before these things started to become somewhat socially acceptable.

Disapproving looks, comments under the breath, or, in some cases, blatantly to my face, have been commonplace throughout my life, and it’s something that has led me time and again to seriously contemplate why people are the way they are. Particularly, why do people feel the need, or, that they have the right to cast judgments and write someone off based solely on outer appearances or personal lifestyle choices?

There’s really no simple answer. Each person is a unique individual with a unique set of circumstances that has led them to become the person they are today. One thing I’ve learned about myself, however, and my own judgments (because yes, I too am human and have no shortage of them), is that it’s rooted in fear.

For me, I’ve learned that being a counterculturist from a very early age, or, raging against the machine (though truth be told, I often wasn’t quite sure exactly what machine I was raging against) has often left me judgmental towards those in the mainstream media—from spiritual teachers to musicians, actors and so forth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly grateful for my punk/hardcore roots as they dismantled a lot of the naivety in my otherwise culturally conditioned mind, but I am definitely seeing some of the after effects playing out years later in my adult life (though adult or not, I still listen to plenty of punk/hardcore).

The fear of seeing myself as a “conformist” for nothing more than liking a popular band, or reading one of Oprah’s official book selections, or maybe, just maybe even admitting that someone like Justin Timberlake actually has some talent stems from fear. I mean really, why else do I feel the need to completely write these people off simply because they don’t look, talk or act like me? Isn’t that on a comparable level to what the close-minded individuals I’m writing about in this article are doing? Sure, they may be coming from a more hateful place, but at the end of the day, a close-minded judgment is a close-minded judgment.

I’m not here to make excuses for anyone, because hateful rhetoric of any kind turns my stomach. Every time I see the Westboro Church protestors and their “God Hates Fag” signs I feel my entire body begin to tense up, however, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t also make me feel a deep sadness and compassion for them.

I’ve been to some very dark places in my life. I lived for many years as a hardcore addict, and there were countless nights I would lay in a dark room wishing for death to take me. I was filled with fear, self-hatred and disdain for God, or whatever “it” was out there that created this whole insane goddamn world (how I felt then, not now). I lost so many years of my life to those experiences that now, years later having come out of the other side of them, I can’t help but contemplate what it’s like for others as they go to bed each night, or in this particular case, hate-filled people.

I put myself in their shoes and imagine what it must be like to lay their head down each night, filled with so much anger, hatred and fear. I’m sure the majority of it for these people is on a subconscious level, but still, it’s there. So whether they realize it or not, it’s making their lives what I could only imagine to be a complete living hell.

When I sincerely put myself in their shoes, it becomes virtually impossible for me to muster any judgments to cast back on them, no matter how much I disagree because honestly, all I’m left with is the desire to hug every single one of them. To really hold them in my arms and let them know that it’s going to be okay. To let them know they are loved and that whatever pain they are holding inside can be healed. To look them in the eyes with the compassionate understanding and again, tell them it’s going to be okay— that we’ve all suffered, and in varying degrees we all still hurt and suffer. I want them to know it’s all part of the human experience, and that since they are a fellow brother or sister in this journey, that I honor and love what they are beneath the thoughts and beliefs that are temporarily lodged in their minds.

Maybe some of you believe I’m naïve for thinking like this, and who knows, maybe I am, but this is what’s in my heart. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my travels, it’s that when I lay myself aside and allow my heart to do the driving, it never, ever, steers me in the wrong direction. I just don’t want to add to any more hatred to this world, and in this very moment, that’s the ultimate truth of what’s in my heart.

* * *

-1Chris Grosso is an independent culturist, freelance writer, spiritual aspirant, recovering addict, and musician. He serves as spiritual director of the interfaith center The Sanctuary at Shepardfields and is a correspondent for the Where Is My Guru radio show. He created the popular hub for all things alternative, independent, and spiritual with TheIndieSpiritualist.com and continues the exploration with his debut book titled Indie Spiritualist (Beyond Words/Atria Books, February 2014). A self-taught musician, Chris has been writing, recording, and touring since the mid-1990s. 
 
Connect with Chris online at The Indie Spiritualist, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

Do You Like Dividing the World Up Into Categories?

08-07-10 I See The Same Old Warning SignsI love taxonomies, categories, ways of dividing people into groups. If you’re the same way, take these quizzes to find out what categories describe you:

1. Are you an under-buyer or an over-buyer? I’m an under-buyer.

2. Are you an abstainer or a moderator? I’m an abstainer, 100%.

3. Are you an alchemist or a leopard? I’m an alchemist.

4. Are you a radiator or a drain? I try to be a radiator.

5. Are you a finisher or an opener? I’m a finisher.

6. Are you a satisficer or a maximizer (yes, these are real words). I’m a satisficer.

7. Are you more drawn to simplicity or to abundance? I’m more drawn to simplicity.

8. Are you a Tigger or an Eeyore? I’m a bit of both, but writing about happiness has definitely brought out my Tigger qualities. (I write a lot about the conflict between these two categories in Happier at Home.)

9. Are you a marathoner or a sprinter? (categories formerly known as “tortoises and hares,” but I changed the terms). I’m a marathoner.

Putting myself into categories is fun, and I think it also gives me insight into my own nature. When I see myself more clearly, I can more easily see ways that I might do things differently, to make myself happier.

Categories can be unhelpful, however, when they become too all-defining, or when they become an excuse. “Oh, I can’t be expected to resist eating the cookies in the cupboard, I’m an abstainer.”

Do you find it helpful to consider these kinds of categories? Or too constraining?

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Lessons From Trayvon: Raising Mixed Race Boys in the Face of Racism, Fear, and Inequality

Mariana_19 years old
Me at age 19

By Mariana Oldenburg

I have been reflecting on the Trayvon Martin case a lot. The fact that Zimmerman got away with murder angers and worries me because I am the mother of two ethnically diverse male children living on this planet.

Injustice, inequality, sexism, and racism are not just USA problems; they are global problems. I myself was harassed by the police in Europe when I was a traveling teenager. I was racially profiled because of my brown skin and wild curly hair. One of the police officers asked for my passport and after confirming that I was a 19-year-old tourist with a proper visa, he said “It’s just that we have a lot of undocumented Brazilian prostitutes arriving here.” And that was supposed to make me feel better? Thanks for the Brazilian part, but I did take offense to the disrespectful noun.

Just walking down the streets in Italy, men would yell “hey, Marroquina” (woman from Morocco). My Italian girlfriend explained to me that many of these women were immigrant sex workers and the men were wondering if I was available. At the airport in Spain, security officers picked me out of the line and scanned my creeper shoes because they thought I might be sneaking drugs in the soles of my shoes. All of these accusations were purely based on my ethnicity, gender, and appearance. As a female teenager I felt angry, impotent, and vulnerable, and even though I wanted kick them in the face with those very shoes, I knew I had to handle myself with dignity and keep it together, so that I could get on the plane back to the USA where I had been living since I was 15 years old. (And might I add that I am grateful to live in this diverse country.)

I may not be an African-American male, but I am Afro-Latina woman and I have experienced racism in Panama, Europe, and in the USA, repeatedly. I know how it feels to be denied good job opportunities based on where I come from, my age, what I look like, and because I am a woman. I have experienced racism walking down the streets in progressive San Francisco for holding hands with my husband. He was called a white pig and I was called the N word. Scott and I have had racist encounters with both white and black men because we are an interracial couple and those people felt we should not be together. If we changed our behavior to accommodate others’ ideas of who we should love, our children would not exist.

I have experienced racism from white people because they don’t know exactly what I am and that makes them uncomfortable. Then when they find out I am from Central America, and they hear me speak, they tell me “Wow, you speak English really well!” What did they expect? Why should I not have excellent command of the English language? This often happens to me. It happened to me just three months ago at a client’s office here in New Orleans. Back when I worked in corporate America in the Bay Area, I was the token minority woman who was fortunate to be able to reach senior level positions. At my last corporate job, HR even pointed out that they were happy to hire me because they believe in equal opportunity – yet in an office building of 250 + employees, only two of us were Latina.

I have experienced racism from black people who don’t like me because I am Latina or because my skin is not dark enough. I have experienced racism from Latinos who don’t like my skin because it’s not light enough. I have heard a couple of my white friends use the N word in the context of fear and anger. I have heard some of my Latino friends speak quite negatively about black people. I’ve heard some of my black friends speak with deep anger towards white people. I have had my black female neighbor call me a racist because I speak Spanish and I am married to a white male even though my father is a black Jamaican. (Hence my Afro roots that I am very proud of.) I myself have had to unlearn a lot of the colonialist brain washing that was impressed upon us in our Panamanian culture. In Panama, people of color were not allowed to go to a university until general Omar Torrijos changed that law in the early 70s.

Who is right? Who is wrong? What should I believe? Who should I be? The whole thing is very confusing, and back when I was younger, all these complexities of race and culture were extremely hard to navigate and comprehend. I continue to listen and learn, and I continue to be friends with all of my friends. I continue to learn about their history, their thoughts, their feelings, their beliefs, their cultures, their religions, and their truths, and I often engage in heated debates with them because dialogue is exactly what we need, even if we agree to disagree.

The part that troubles me the most about the Martin/Zimmerman case is that the failing justice system can be fashioned and manipulated to the point that it becomes a strategic game of knowledge and power, and of course, the power of money. I feel that every single human life is equally important and worthy of respect and happiness and should have a chance to reach their full potential – even if they annoy the hell out of me.

In cases like this it’s important to not get too distracted by the ongoing argument of racism. I suggest that we focus on a solution to the flawed justice system because the system is not working. Let’s talk about these events with our children at the dinner table, lets discuss it within our communities, our spiritual circles, and peers, and most of all, let’s get involved by telling our political leaders what we want, until we see meaningful change. Folks like Zimmerman exist because they choose to live in fear, and they teach their children the same things their parents taught them, that is, to live in fear and to hate. Let’s stop demonizing the youth. Let’s stop tainting their spirit with heavy dogma, mental slavery, guilt, the burden of the pain from the past, and colonialist ideas that simply do not support them as the loving and creative human beings that we were born to be. Let’s teach our children how to think and not what to think.

Why should I live in fear? Why should my friends question whether they should bring children into this world? That’s not a privilege; that is their right. Should I stop holding hands with my husband? Should I tell my son Diego that he should live in fear and that he should not wear his hoodie while walking down the street because some paranoid delusional fool might shoot him? Should he too eventually carry a gun and forget about our family values of love and nonviolence? How do I carry on as a parent?

I say we talk with our children honestly about the elephant in the room. I say we make a conscious effort to get to know each other a little better so that we may understand or at least tolerate each other. As a triple minority living in the United States and as a parent, I refuse to be distracted, deterred, or defeated by racism, and much less by the intimidation of hatred and fear. It’s evident that when it comes to racism, we have a long way to go, but in regards to the Trayvon/Zimmerman case, we musts demand that the government does away with the Stand Your Ground law.

I stand the ground of not giving up hope for a better world for our children.

Love is Love: 4 Steps to Overcome Judgment

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 11.47.44 AMA soul is a soul is a soul. Love is love. You are not right, and neither am I. You aren’t wrong either. You are who you are, and I am who I am.

There is no such concept as absolute, right or wrong when it comes to who we choose to love or what color we were born as. We live in a dynamic time and have been gifted with being present to some big social inequality changes…Obama being elected President, DOMA having been nullified, women gaining more and more control over their own bodies. With each progression, there is a fire inside me that ignites. It is one that burns down one more barrier telling me I can’t be who I am. Even though I am not African-American and I am married to a man and if I were to accidentally get pregnant today I would not abort, it symbolizes one step further toward society allowing people to be themselves, to be who they were born to be, to be who their DNA dictates. We can change our character, our hair, our body…but we can’t change who we are at a soul level.

After the fire simmers down a little, melancholia sets in and takes me to a place of sadness that there even needs to be a fight about any of it. I cried today in tears of happiness for my same-sex couple friends, but also in pain for what they have to fight against. What is happening that we need to fight for love? Why can’t we as a developed society support our own families just as much as we support families that look different on the outside than ours but are the same inside? Why can’t we use our life to love our communities, the charities we dedicate to, people in need…instead of bash what we don’t agree with?

It is absolutely a choice whether we live in an angry state or a tolerant state about how other people live their lives. Anger will not change the world. Judgment will get us nowhere, except to grow old, tired and shut down. Holding onto bias-fueled resentment is hurting the person resenting more than anything. Imagine being free of that feeling. Imagine the space that could be created in life if that wasn’t there. The joy. What if you weren’t afraid anymore to let that junk go? What if you decided today was the day to pull back the curtain of insecurity and fear and step through to a life of love and freedom for you and everyone who crosses your path? In theory, it’s that easy.

I was not raised around discrimination of any kind, and it makes my stomach churn to know it is happening. That said, I have been through stages of my life where I judged, where I was stuck in small-mindedness and where I was hard on myself. Judgment is judgment, so here are my humble ideas to help as it really is all one in the same:

1. Look up. Look up to the sky, to the full moon or to the stars if you live somewhere you can see them clearly. Look up and be reminded of how this life is so much bigger than all of us. Look up and be reminded that the stars you are seeing have the same matter in them as lives in each of us. Be reminded of the very real fact that we are all infinitely connected, regardless of what the ego would like to think.

2. Hunt your trigger. We all get triggered by something in life, many things usually. Maybe for you, it is two women walking hand in lovely hand…or a bi-racial couple walks by smooching…or someone of a different race happens to make you mad but you find yourself getting more angry than you might at a person of your own race. Stop. Breathe. Instead of numbing out in your angry pain and going unconscious to it, notice the feeling. Track it, trace it, don’t let that lead get away. That trigger comes from somewhere in your past. The only way to heal is to find out the root and the connection to your life now. This trigger can be overcome if you want to be free of it bad enough.

3. Take your own power back. Usually discrimination comes from family. “I grew up this way,” is not an excuse. While it may be true that you did, it absolutely does not excuse it now. Say you grew up poor…most likely you didn’t want to perpetuate that economic state as you grew into adulthood. Most likely you don’t blame your adulthood financial troubles now on your economic state as a 10 year old. So why would you perpetuate this? Instead of picking and choosing what we blame our childhood on, let’s step into the light childhood can lend to this life, and see it for what it is. Let’s take it back to the now.

4. Be kind to yourself. I have been around enough to know that the people who are hardest on others, are hardest on themselves too. Love for the world starts with a deep, passionate love affair with ourselves. Get the help needed to heal old wounds. Not bandage them, but heal them for good. Life it too short to live in the past. See beauty now. No regrets at the end of this gorgeous life.

 

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

-HHDL

What Gives an Object “Life”?

nautilus-shellIn The Phenomenon of Life, vol. 1: The Nature of Order, Christopher Alexander asks, “Can we find any recurrent geometrical structural features whose presence in things correlates with their degree of life?”

He identifies fifteen features that appear again and again in things which have “life”–whether that thing is a sketch by an Impressionist, a wooden door, a Norwegian storehouse, a Japanese tea bowl, the Golden Gate Bridge. Or natural things, like a giraffe’s coat, palm fronds, a spider’s web, Himalayan foothills, muscle fiber.

The 15 features are:

  1. Levels of scale
  2. Strong centers
  3. Boundaries
  4. Alternating repetition
  5. Positive space
  6. Good shape
  7. Local symmetries
  8. Deep interlock and ambiguity
  9. Contrast
  10. Gradients
  11. Roughness
  12. Echoes
  13. The void
  14. Simplicity and inner calm
  15. Non-separateness.

It’s not always easy to understand, but just looking at all the illustrations is a wonderful exercise. I’m a word person, not a visual person, and this book really did a lot to help me understand how to look at objects.

I love schemes like this, that seek to identify the different elements of very complex wholes. I love taxonomy–and dividing people into different categories–and lists of all sorts.

For instance, just as I love Alexander’s approach, I love this scheme by John Ruskin in The Stones of Venice, about the nature of the Gothic:

“I believe, then, that the characteristic or moral elements of Gothic are the following, placed in the order of their importance:

  1. Savageness
  2. Changefulness
  3. Naturalism.
  4. Grotesqueness.
  5. Rigidity.
  6. Redundance.”

I don’t really know what Ruskin is talking about. But just this set of ideas, put together, makes my mind race.

How about you? Does Alexander’s scheme ring true for you? Do you have similar lists that you love?

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I had a great time seeing my friend Adam Gilbert.  If you’ve ever wanted to make your life healthier–by eating better or exercising better–check out his program on My Body Tutor–“no more excuses.”

Are you interested in launching a group for people doing happiness projects together? These groups have sprung up all over the world, and one of my favorite things on my book tour was to meet some of the groups. Intrigued? Email me, and I’ll send you the “starter kit.” Read more here.

Reach Further: Your Life is Only As Big As the Communities You Serve

In a recent TED Talk, Dan Pallotta boldly stated, “No one ever went bankrupt giving to charity.” I love that line. The words remind us that we can give a little cash and still have enough to fill our own needs. That’s true of our energy, too. We can give a little time and still have enough to do the things we need to do.

So often we get caught up in the complexities of our lives and forget that we co-exist in a big world filled with people who need our help.  My vlog today is a loving challenge to parents. The hope is to inspire families to work together to serve the greater community, to spend time helping folks who can offer them absolutely nothing in return. Today’s message focuses specifically on parents because I blog about mindful mothering on Bringing Up Buddhas; but really this message is for everyone. CEOs and introverts, democrats and yogis, students and circus performers. We all have something to give.

So I’m officially dubbing this season the Summer of Service. A perfect time to let our babies use their superpowers to give freely, love wildly, and live fully.

Click to read the Huff Post article.

Click to read the story of my mentee and me.

You’re Great and You’re Awesome Just As You Are (Part 2)

Click here to read part 1 of Trent’s story!

Born with blonde hair in a brunette-only town, Trent decides finally to show everyone his true hair color and true self. The townspeople attack him for his “otherness,” and Trent runs and hides in a nearby forest until sunset. Approached by an old man who listens to the tale of his woe, Trent receives the most powerful advice of his life.

* * *

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 10.28.10 AMThe wise man was brilliant and very aware.

He took in a breath, then started to share:

“We are truly born great, just as we are!

Our lives are important. You’re amazing, my young star.

But with others, they think, it’s for them to say

Who is fine, who is good, who is right, who’s okay.”

“For greatness is not in brown hair or blond.

Greatness is not in how our words sound.

Greatness is not on our outside – our skin.

Greatness, true greatness, always happens within.”

 

“We just can’t know how great you can become

By looking at hair color. That’s crazy, that’s dumb.

Down deep we’re amazing and awesome and bold.

Down deep is our value, our treasure, our gold.”

 

“No one has eyes to see what you see.

No one can tell you who or what you should be.

That’s your job. Yes it is. It’s all up to you.

It’s your work and your life. You’ve got to be true.”

 

“Life isn’t easy, it’s tough and it’s trying.

It gives you hard tests to make sure you’re applying

What you know of TrueYou, what gifts you receive,

How great you can be and what you believe.”

 

“You were born awesome – awesome indeed.

But to live each day awesome you must become freed

From the judgments of others, from perspectives so narrow

To let your light soar like a brilliant gold arrow.”

“The world needs TrueYou – the “you” as you are.

Blond or brunette, gay, straight or bizarre.

You are you, and amazing! The “you” born just right.

You were born to shine brightly, to share your great light.”

 

But you can’t shine in life, when you let yourself hide.

And you can’t change the world, if you’re ashamed inside.

You didn’t choose how you’re born, where you’re from.

But you can surely choose the “you” you become.

 

Young Trent felt alive and committed to greatness.

He thanked the wise man but feared for the lateness.

His family’d be worried, scared and unbound,

That young Trent was not home, not safe and not sound.

 

He hurried right home in the dark of the night.

But this time for him, a walk without fright.

More aware, more informed and so much more wise.

He got to his door at a quarter to five.

 

Once home and together, the lost son lamented

With details and stories. The sobbing relented.

Trent shared a sound lesson of power and strength.

They stood right by him; they’d go to great lengths

To handle what happens, to just rise above.

To help Trent show up to a life he can love.

 

The next day with power and confidence glowing,

Trent moved through the town without any fear showing.

He let loose his blond hair and wore it with pride.

He stood up to names and to insults so snide.

 

His courage to be true had others inspired,

The insults soon stopped, mean comments subsided.

Trent showed that hair color makes no difference at all

Be true to yourself and you’ll never feel small.

We didn’t choose how we’re born, where we’re from.

But we can surely choose the “who” we become.

 

And soon many others with all hair colors flowing,

Appeared in the town, the numbers were growing.

People in fear with hair once dyed brown,

Were actually there hiding, still living in town.

 

Pretending is bad, it loads on the strife.

Hiding restricts us, it limits our life.

We are each given gifts to discover and use,

And we shortchange the world if we don’t know or refuse

To be open and honest and accept the real “me”.

Trent learned that it takes this to really be free.

 

In just that one moment, things started to change.

People are people, not weirdos or strange,

Just people, all different, all great, all divine,

Allowed to be true, to be honest, and fine.

 

And changed they all were from perspectives so narrow.

They cheered and applauded and hailed Trent like pharaoh.

But Trent just continued to live life each day,

Honest and great, in his unique way.

 

From that day on, in towns far and near

That kept people out because of some fear.

Now invited them in – all are welcome you know.

We all belong. Yes we do! It is right. It is so.

 

Come out from your hiding. Join life. Be alive!

When you hide you stay small and afraid – you can’t thrive.

You’re an original, not a copy or fake.

You’re the real deal, just perfect; you are no mistake.

 

So find your right place, as soon as you can.

Be an accountant, a salesman, a singer or stunt man.

It’s all up to you, the directions you choose.

It’s all up to you, don’t wait, don’t you snooze.

Each day that goes by, you never get back.

Each moment, each day, each minute, each track

Is gone. Yes it is, but the next one is here.

Use it wisely. Don’t waste it! Let your best self appear.

 

You were born awesome, no matter what you’ve been taught.

You were born amazing, born cool – you got what you got.

It’s your gift. It’s yours. It’s all just for you.

It’s divine in its nature; be true to your “who.”

 

Be yourself, be your best. Live life your own way.

Be proud, find your place, make the most of each day.

You’re great and your awesome, just as you are.

Be your true self, be a bright shining star.

Related Articles:

3 Ways to See the Gift in Each Moment

Why You Should Start Each Day With “Aloha!”

5 Ways to Wake Up Happy Each Day

 

You’re Great and You’re Awesome Just As You Are (Part 1)

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 10.09.20 AMIn a town far away on top of a hill,

Lived people so narrow, judgmental, and shrill.

They decided on high that all hair should be brown.

They decided for everyone who lived in their town.

 

“To live here,” they cried, “brown hair is a must.

Brown hair is just right, all others are bust.

If other than brown is just who you are,

Then you must leave. Depart! Go very far!

For we won’t have people who don’t look like us.

Brown is what’s right. Our rules. It is thus!”

 

In one of the families, young Trent was born third.

In a family so big and so famous was heard,

A cry of great grief like someone had died,

The aunts and uncles and parents all cried.

Young Trent, their treasure, though brown hair expected,

Was born blond, a towhead, a child rejected.

 

Though cute and adorable, smart with eyes wide,

His parents knew that his hair had to hide.

If the neighbors and townspeople had any doubt,

That Trent was not brown-haired, the family was out.

 

From the day he could crawl, Trent’s hair was dyed brown.

This gave them permission to live in this town.

His parents feared someday that blond hair would show,

Because hair on a kid never ceases to grow.

 

Each Saturday night as the bath waters ran,

A small dab of brown came out of the can,

To cover those roots of the hair that kept growing,

Like a lawn after rain that needed some mowing.

 

And so it was thus, each day spent in “hair-hiding,”

In plain sight, with a hat, and some dye so complying.

And all seemed as okay, no foul and no harm,

Until one day, that day, there came cause for alarm.

That day, at the mirror, young Trent stood there staring,

At brown hair AND blond hair – so great, and so glaring.

He’d been told his whole life about hair not so brown,

These people were gross, not fit for their town.

He realized that day he was different than most.

He was blond, not brown-haired. He’s handsome, not gross.

 

He called to his parents to share his great joy

He was different – unique – not an average boy.

He loved this about him. It gave him great pride.

He was different indeed. He had nothing to hide.

 

We are each born great, we’re remarkable art.

We are perfect, unique, not a kind of half-start.

We can’t change who we are. That’s a great thing.

We are who we are; it’s our hard-wiring.

 

His parents warned, they cautioned and cried.

“Being different isn’t easy, so please Trent just hide.

Let’s dye your hair brown so you fit and blend in.

Let’s get the brown back so life’s safe as it’s been.”

 

But Trent just said, “No!” on that major day.

“Born different, born right,” is just what he’d say.

“Born blond, not brown-haired, is how I exist.

Being true to myself is what I insist.”

 

“For someone much greater thought I should be,

A towhead, a blond, not a fake brown-haired me.

Who are these others, with comments to make?

I am who I am. God made no mistake.”

 

The hair dying stopped on that fateful day.

Pretending was done on the 18th of May.

Proud to be done with the hair-dying story,

Trent wanted his real life, a life of grand glory.

A life that was honest and open and clear,

A life to be lived without hiding or fear.

 

Trent marched to school with hair like the sun.

The gold in it shone, like threads that been spun,

But support did not happen, not a moment or second.

It didn’t work out as he thought or had reckoned.

They taunted and teased, chased, hit and called nay!

It changed all his friends in only one day.

 

Chased into the woods, with mean words attacking.

Trent stayed hiding there ‘til daylight went packing.

He hid in the dark and was sobbing with fear,

That someone who hated his hair could be near.

 

“How could this all matter?” He wondered. He cried.

“How could being different make others despise?

I have no control of the color of my hair,

Born with it dark or born with it fair.

Like our gender, or height, preference or skin tone

We get what we get, it’s really our own.

For down deep I’m still me, the same me I have been.

Down deep, I’m still Trent, their classmate and friend.”

 

“How can I live in a me that’s not real?

Who can pretend and not really feel?

Who cares if my hair is dark or it’s light.

I say for me, what’s wrong and what’s right.”

 

And in that tough moment, a moment of fear,

Young Trent saw a stranger, approaching, quite near.

A man with a beard, long, thick and so white;

A smile so warm, so kind and so bright.

“What brings you to woods, so dark and so deep?

The old man continued, “And can cause you to weep?”

 

Trent shared his sad story in every detail.

The old man just listened and grew very pale.

He waited ‘til young Trent was all about finished,

Did not interrupt, critique, or diminish

The sadness, the pain, the hurt so disarming

That someone so young could find life so alarming.

Once Trent had recounted his unhappy story,

The old man responded with strength and with glory.

His words were bold, his lessons were wise.

Trent listened intently for ways to devise,

A way to be happy when others all yack.

To be strong and courageous when others attack.

 

Stay tuned for the rest of Trent’s story!

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