Tag Archives: Poverty

Trash: Making Beauty out of What We’ve Thrown Away

recycled orchestraWhat’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word trash?

Dirt. Germs. Land fill, maybe? Trash is what we call the things we no longer have a use for – the things we throw away and discard never to be thought of again. Even when it’s used in a derogatory sense for people it refers to them as the things we don’t want to think about, the things we wish would disappear. Trash is beneath us.

What about “recycle” though? That sounds better, right? It turns out that it’s not just plastic bottles and newspapers that can be re-used or re-created into something else. Things we throw away are being taken by very creative individuals to create new works of art. Favio Chavez is using the trash sent to a slum in Cateura, Paraguay to build instruments for his teenage students.  They make cellos out of rusted oil bins and violins out of old tin. Ordinarily a violin is worth more than a house in that slum. The families who live there raid the land fill for trash to recycle and re-sell and they’ve begun to make instruments for their children. The children then perform in the Recycled Orchestra.

They’ve managed a way to redefine something that inhabits the way they live. They’ve taken something “dirty” – the things we throw away – and made them into works of art that demand to be heard. You can find out more about their project and how you can support (and see the full movie) here.

In a different part of South America – on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil – artist Vik Muniz is trying to change the lives of a community of catadores, garbage collectors. They are an unemployed, marginalized part of society, collecting garbage in the largest landfill in the world for recyclable materials to sell and make their living. Vik creates portraits of them with the garbage they collect every day. His original intention was to create the portraits, sell them and use the money to help the catadores find an elevated station in life, but the art inevitably became a collaboration. Vik would take a picture of each of the catadores and then project it onto the floor of a nearby warehouse and every day the catadores would help him fill the picture with the recyclables they had found that day in the landfill. For three years they filmed the process and created a documentary called “Waste Land.” The workers say that the movie has lifted a stigma around their profession and the country of Brazil uses it to encourage recycling nationwide.

These stories take place in two different places, told by two different people with very similar themes. These projects force us to take another look at areas of humanity where we tend to turn a blind eye. They show us that the things we dismiss can be beautiful, the things we throw away can be works of art. So the next time you’re throwing anything away, take a deeper look.

Paul Tudor Jones on a Higher Purpose Towards A More Collective Goodwill

paul_highAs one of the highest earning hedge fund managers of his generation and the founder of the highly successful Robin Hood Foundation, Paul Tudor Jones is no stranger to success but it is his faith and passion for enhancing the conscious mind that have made him a true maverick. In fact, he attributes much of his success as a businessman and a philanthropist to his spirituality.

As a person of deep faith and spirituality, Jones feels strongly about the connection between the health and wellbeing of the mind and the health of a person as a whole. As a philanthropist, he has a passion for giving back. Paul Tudor Jones and his wife Sonia have been able to combine these two passions by introducing the contemplative sciences more fully to the religious studies department at the University of Virginia.

The model that Paul Tudor Jones has provided at UVA is a great example of the ways in which giving back to the community can and should focus on more than just one aspect of the human experience. As an alumnus of the University of Virginia, Paul Tudor Jones first set out to introduce yoga to the UVA community and ended up creating something much larger.

“We found this enormous thirst, this unquenched thirst for anything that can help people better themselves,” say Jones in his interview with Deepak Chopra. “Not just physically through something like yoga or tai chi but also mentally through meditation and a variety of other mind-body techniques that help people become better individuals mentally, spiritually, emotionally and then tap into the larger collective good.”

Paul Tudor Jones believes that being able to look beyond everyday life to a higher purpose, will lead not only to personal growth but will result in a more peaceful and just society overall. When individuals are given the time for self-reflection, they have the ability to connect more positively with their fellow man and the world around them. He embodies this in his charitable work, like that done by the Robin Hood Foundation. The idea behind the Robin Hood Foundation was to create a successful charitable organization that was enhanced by interaction with the free market. Using sound investment techniques, Paul Tudor Jones has made the Robin Hood Foundation a leader in the fight against poverty in New York City.

The Robin Hood Foundation is an example from Paul Tudor Jones’s own life of how self-reflection and an understanding of the conscious mind can lead to “more collective goodwill” in today’s society.

What is your higher purpose?

You can watch the entire interview with Paul Tudor Jones here.

Wordplay Wednesday: Untitled; Africa

924_RED_precutBy Victoria Michelle

Africa is a young man bathing
in blood drenched dirt
crying out for salvation
to a god willing to sacrifice
his own son.

If the divine is willing to kill his own seed,
how can Africa,
the stranger,
find sanctuary
outside of the four corners of death?

I met a man sleeping on
the side of the road
baking in the Ghanaian sun
dreams of tomorrow’s resurrection.

He knows the lies
laid down and proselytized
at the intersection of rights
to live,
to be free,
to be human.

“Oh, let me save you,”
they say.

Oh the way they deflect their own death
in the name of a life they’re not willing to die for.

Rest assured,
they will meet the sun
at the dawning of tomorrow.

Oh the way they blaspheme their bodies
breathing in good intentions
inconvertible to good deeds.

How much longer will
they fill
their lungs
with fiction?

When will they feel themselves drowning,
in their own blood,
in need of saving,
craving self-sacrifice?

Africa is a young man bathing
in blood drenched dirt
made victim by masochists.

What will they make of the moment
Africa rises from the ground,
and no longer needs cleaning?

***

Somewhere between a fond love for the double helix, a youth spent making music in various forms, and becoming an anthropologist, you have Victoria Michelle. Frequently noted as a “wordsmith”, Victoria is currently a graduate student in Anthropology at UC Berkeley who has been making her way through the Bay Area open mic scene since April 2012. Her style employs philosophy to a flow in hopes of building a bridge between academic and public discourse. But at the end of the day, her primary goal is to excavate emotion from the depths to provoke the possibility of genuine feeling and thinking. She is currently working on her first chapbook of poetry titled “She” as a reflection her journey as a young woman coming-of-age in her own skin. For more information of her written work, you can check out her blog: vmmichelle.com

Do you have a favorite or original poem you would like showcased on Wordplay Wednesday? We’d love to share it! Email the poem to editor@intent.com, and we will feature it in the series. Click here to view past Wordplay Wednesdays.

11-Year-Old Nada Al-Ahdal Narrowly Escaped Child Marriage – Here’s What She Has to Say

Nada Al-Ahdal is an 11-year-old Yemeni girl who recently risked everything to run away from home and seek refuge with her uncle after learning about her parents’ intentions to marry her off to a much older man. Nada knew that her teenage aunt, trapped in an arranged marriage and abused by her husband, had committed suicide to escape her fate. Nada did not want to be forced down the same path.

“I would have had no life, no education. Don’t they have any compassion?” Nada says in a video posted on YouTube. “I’m better off dead. I’d rather die.”

Thank goodness Nada has an older relative there to take her in and stand up for her, but many girls her age are not as lucky. The World Health Organization reports that 39,000 girls around the world are forced into child marriage every day. “Child marriage” is defined as marriage before 18 years of age, but many are even younger when they are forced into matrimony. The many dangers girls face in early marriages include premature pregnancy, maternal mortality (girls under 15 are five times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth than older women), infant mortality, poverty, illiteracy, abuse, and more.

The best defense against practices like this, which endanger women and make our global community weaker, is education. We must raise our voices and empower women to change their communities.

Here are several resources working against child marriage and in support of women and children everywhere:

Unlikely Heroes: The California Teen Responsible for Feeding Thousands of Hungry Families

waste-no-food-sridhar-537x399At twelve years old, most of us were trudging through the awkwardness of adolescence, developing friend groups, and struggling to master pre-algebra. But at that age, Kiran Sridhar, a teenager from California’s Silicon Valley, had larger concerns on his mind.

According to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, nearly 4 million people in California are “food insecure,” which means they cannot afford to buy enough food to sustain themselves. Southern California is disproportionately ailed by hunger in comparison with the rest of the state, but the Bay Area also contains some of the largest numbers of food insecurity. This may seem counter intuitive, especially considering the ever-growing prosperity of Silicon Valley, in particular, with its booming tech economy. But the reality that Sridhar learned as a middle schooler was that many in his own community were suffering, even in the midst of such prevalent wealth.

Shocked and inspired by this revelation, Sridhar got to work. He founded the non-profit organization, Waste No Food, to connect restaurants and farms to food banks that would distribute their excess and leftover food. According to the organization’s website, a whopping one third of California’s food goes to waste. With so many in the state hungry, such waste is simply unacceptable, and Waste No Food works to get that food to those who desperately need it.

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 12.19.35 PM

If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant or cafe, then you know how much food gets thrown out at the end of each day. Oftentimes food service workers just feel limited by the effort to transport leftover food, or else the fear of liability. But through the program, all the work is done for them with the click of a button. Farms, restaurants, cafeterias, and grocery stores can sign up on the website to donate their excess food, and Waste No Food then connects them to aid organizations (already vetted for authenticity) who are responsible for all food transportation and handling. It’s a win-win all around!

Now a 10th grader in high school, Sridhar hopes to expand the program to other parts of the Bay Area, and we have no doubt the enterprising teenager will succeed in his aims. As he told CBS San Francisco:

When you’re hungry, that is your primary focus, figuring out what your next meal is going to be. But when you have your needs for food met, than you can actually be a positive contributor to the community and to the economy.

It’s inspiring to see not only what such a young person is capable of accomplishing, but also more generally the length a concerned citizen is willing to go to support his community. Over 50 million Americans live in households that quality as “food insecure,” the highest percentages occurring in Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas. These are our communities, our neighbors, and our families. Let Kiran Sridhar and the Waste No Food program inspire you to make a difference.

Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

Photo credit: Inhabitat.com

Graphic credit: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research

Is Kidnapping Ever Justified?

My friend forwarded me the security advisory, which began, “There have been three kidnap incidents in Ikoyi in the last five days.” I read this while sipping my morning coffee, a knot hardening in my chest.

My husband and I moved to Nigeria with our three young children in 2011. We live in Ikoyi.

Wax market
Lagos market

I skimmed through the rest of the message, gnawing on my thumbnail. It provided practical tips on staying safe, such as varying your routine, avoiding fuel stops on isolated roadways, and bringing braiders to your home instead of leaving your child at a salon for hours.

The email ended with a warning: “If you live in an area with high kidnap rates, there is always a possibility that you could already be a target, or that you or your family members are being developed as targets.”

Our sweet children could be targets? I slumped over on the sofa and decided to lie there until I died.

My husband, John, called me from work an hour later. Death was taking longer than planned, so I answered the phone. “Did you hear about the kidnappings?” he asked. “I must have gotten that email from a dozen people.”

“Those poor families,” I said. “Do you think we’re safe here?”

“Our risk is low. These are almost always inside jobs and I trust the people who work for us.”

“Isn’t that what everyone says?” I asked.

I stared at the photo of our kids on the end table as John explained that most countries have had periods in their history when kidnapping is common. “It happens in Russia and Colombia. It happens in any place where there’s income inequality and lack of opportunity. In Brazil in the ‘80’s, plastic surgeons perfected an ear replacement technique because victim’s ears were sent along with the ransom note.”

If John was trying to comfort me with facial mutilation stories, it had the opposite effect.

roll_6_32

When it was time to pick up the children from school, I roused myself from the sofa. After bolting the front door, I climbed into the back of the SUV and buckled my seat belt. Our driver, Sunday, locked the car doors. We circled inside the electrified walls of the compound, waiting for the blue-uniformed security guards to open the gate.

The children were sitting in their classrooms, all body parts accounted for. I hugged them and felt the knot in my chest loosen.

At home, the kids snacked on watermelon slices. They began doing their homework at the dining table while I had my cooking lesson.

Taiwo comes over once a week to teach me how to prepare my husband’s favorite dishes. She has spent twenty years working as a chef and instructor to ex-pat and wealthy Nigerian families. Over the last few months, we have become friendly. We chat about our children, about her church, and about the meaning of Yoruba names. She is proud that her oldest daughter is the first in their family to attend university.

melon 'soup' with goat
Melon soup with goat

I began washing bitter leaf in a bleach bath in the sink. Taiwo struck a match and lit the stove. She squeezed palm oil into a pot. As it sizzled, she sliced a plantain.

She told me how easy it had been to find transportation to my house and thanked Jesus. It is rainy season here and she arrived just before the skies opened up.

I mentioned the recent kidnappings as I stirred the greens through the water. “Isn’t it terrible?” I said, submerging a leaf.

Taiwo told me a story about a mother and daughter she knew from Church who were kidnapped in Benin City. She said the women were held for two weeks before being released. “These were good, God-fearing boys,” she said of the kidnappers. “They graduated from university but couldn’t find jobs. Their families needed them to pay school fees for their junior siblings.”

I pulled the stopper from the sink and watched the water gurgle down the drain.

“When educated Nigerians can’t get jobs,” she said, scraping the pot with a spoon, “it’s fair for them to turn to kidnapping. The wealthy have more than they need.”

The children’s laughter echoed into the kitchen. I stared at Taiwo, my mouth hanging open.

I mumbled something about misdirected governmental spending but Taiwo interrupted, offering rapid instructions on preparing stew.

In the evening, I sat in the dark living room, left with more questions than answers. I wondered if others felt like Taiwo did. Would the people we know in this country sympathize if our children were kidnapped? Or would they think it was a fair price to pay for the opportunities we have had?

Days have passed but my thoughts remained on Taiwo. How could a morally upright woman come to the conclusion that kidnapping is a justified commercial enterprise? I can’t relate but I have never been pessimistic about my children’s future. I don’t know how it feels to live without the expectation that my kids will prosper.

Denied an Abortion – What Now? A Study on the Effects of Unwanted Motherhood

Screen Shot 2013-06-14 at 3.05.08 PMIt may have been one spontaneous night with an ex, never to be replicated; or perhaps a traumatic moment of violence and sexual abuse. She could be unemployed, ill, very young, or already a bit creaky in the joints. Maybe she has other kids at home and a partner in active duty, in prison, in the hospital, or deceased. And in the midst of working, paying bills, job hunting, taking care of children, doing homework, or whatever her daily responsibilities include, the tender belly and light periods get pushed to the back of her mind – until it’s too late.

Whatever their reasons, these are the women who discover their pregnancies late in the game, determine their best course of action is abortion, and upon medical inspection are turned away from the procedures they desperately want or need. How do these women, the ones forced into motherhood, fare and what are the effects of their denied abortions?

This question provides the foundation for an ongoing study, called “The Turnaway Study” run by Diana Greene Foster, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco. Researching abortion clinics around the country, Foster’s study aims to determine the differing effects, if any, between women who seek late-term abortions and get them versus women who seek late-term abortions but are denied them, most often due to timing. (Individual states’ and clinic’s limits vary, but tend to fall sometime in the second trimester.) Such effects might range from the psychological and emotional, to socioeconomic factors, to long-term physical health. In essence, is there any statistical evidence to prove that women are any better or worse off for keeping a baby, even if they wholeheartedly wanted to terminate the pregnancy?

This study lands in public discourse at a time when pro-life advocates preach the many dangers to women’s mental and physical health resulting from abortion. It isn’t a hard line of reasoning to follow, especially given the hormones that are already being released in early pregnancy. But, as noted in a thorough article published in the New York Times, the psychological and health effects of carrying a pregnancy to term – and then, of course, raising a child – can be just as overwhelming, if not more so.

Based on Foster’s study, women in the turnaway group suffered greater health effects, including increased hypertension rates and chronic pelvic pain, as well as socioeconomic effects that left them below the poverty line three times more often than the women who received abortions. Both groups, however, Lang points out, began with similar life circumstances.

Only 6.6 percent of near-limit patients in the study and 5.6 percent of turnaways finished college (nearly 30 percent of adult American women have a bachelor’s degree). One in 10 were on welfare, and approximately 80 percent reported not having enough money to meet basic living needs. A majority, in both groups, already had at least one child.

These are interesting statistics on several counts. First of all, women seeking abortions later in their terms share a baseline social disadvantage that includes less education, lower income, and, now, pregnancy on top of their other responsibilities. In being forced into motherhood by denial of an abortion, these women experience all the physical strains of pregnancy and childbirth, as well as the often-overwhelming financial burden of another mouth to feed. No one sets out to someday get an abortion, but when it comes down to it, some women feel this is their best option – and the results of Foster’s study might give us cause to concur.

Both Foster and Lang are mindful of the politically-charged nature of this research, though. Foster does not consider herself a pro-choice pioneer, but rather a concerned ob-gyn, interested in determining what is best for women’s health.

The purpose of Foster’s study is not to set policy by suggesting new or uniform gestational limits. She notes, however, that there are ways to reduce the number of women seeking abortion at an advanced gestational age by improving access to reproductive health care. But Foster sees herself as a scientist, not an advocate. She did not set out, she says, to disprove that abortion is harmful. “If abortion hurts women,” she says, “I definitely want to know.”

Truth be told, there is no pro-abortion movement. Nobody “supports” abortion, of course, because ultimately we would hope to live in a world in which people who want to have children do, and those who don’t, don’t. The point is rather that women know what is best for them and their families, and childbearing may not factor into that at the moment.

It’s a delicate topic, though, and one that certainly warrants further discussion. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

What The Buddha Might Say To Bill Gates

Bill Gates by Tristan Nitot“The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.” – Buddha

Bill Gates is a rare breed. He defies what most billionaires appear to be: trapped in the hoarding of money with a large dose of poverty mind. While most people are obsessed with getting money, Gates wants to give it away.

By the time he was 32, Gates was a billionaire. In May this year he was declared the richest man in the world with a net worth of over $72 billion. He stopped working at Microsoft five years ago in order to focus on using that money to make the world a better place. He and his wife founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with investor Warren Buffet. The primary aims of the foundation are to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty. To begin, Gates is committed to ending polio by 2018, with tuberculosis and malaria to follow.

Although, obviously, few of us have money to spare like Gates or Buffet, and it is easy to applaud them while feeling useless ourselves, it doesn’t mean we can’t give or help another in need, using whatever means we have.

“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things that renew humanity.” – Buddha

We were in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, in northern India, attending the Dalai Lama’s teachings. It was crowded, cold, and very uncomfortable sitting close together on mats on a concrete floor. Deb was longing to go back to our hotel room so she could meditate quietly on her own when the Dalai Lama started talking about the dangers of solitary peace. He spoke of how tempting it can be to want to be on our own, but how easily this can disengage us from the reality around us. That it is vital to be in communication, engaged in giving, sharing and caring for each other.

Wise spiritual teachers from all traditions have taught how the path of service is the most important of all, as it means we are less self-obsessed; through caring for others we can step out of indulgence and into big-heartedness, releasing any sense of separateness.

“Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” - Buddha

The generosity Gates is sharing is not the stuff many rich people are made of. It can be very difficult to give when you have so much, as it incites tremendous fear of loss. We only have to look at the upper 1% of this country to see how greed and selfishness rule the day, as they hide their money in offshore accounts, avoid paying fair taxes, and have little time for the poor or needy.

When we feel uncomfortable with generosity we get stuck in our limitations and fear. When we appreciate the joy of kindness our life is transformed. We can both give and receive. Such ego-less moments are exquisite!

We may think we have little to offer but whether it is a few pennies or a whole bankroll, a cup of tea or a banquet is irrelevant—it is the act of giving itself that is important. Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” In other words, although life changes are inevitable we can initiate personal change so that we rise to the challenge and become a bigger and better person as a result. As Mahatma Gandhi also said, “Almost anything we do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that we do it.”

“Be generous. Give to those you love; give to those who love you, give to the fortunate, give to the unfortunate — yes, give especially to those you don’t want to give. You will receive abundance for your giving. The more you give, the more you will have!” – W. Clement Stone

As one of our teachers, Sri Swami Satchidananda taught: “Who is the most selfish person? It is the one who is most selfless! Why? Because by being selfless, you will always retain your happiness. A selfish person can never be really happy. So to be happier, be more selfless!”

I slept and dreamt that life was joy

I awoke and saw that life was service

I acted and behold, service was joy. 

Rabindranath Tagore

* * *

Join our Be The Change Meditate e-Conference that will uplift and inspire you. 30 eclectic meditation teachers, including Marianne Williamson, Congressman Tim Ryan, author of Mindful Nation, Sharon Salzberg, Robert Thurman, Gangaji, Joan Borysenko, Seane Corn, neuroscientist Richie Davidson who proves how meditation affects the brain, Roshi Joan Halifax, Tara Stiles, and us, Ed and Deb Shapiro, authors of the conference companion book, BE THE CHANGE: How Meditation Can Transform You and The World. Expect your life to never be the same again!

For more information: www.edanddebshapiro.com

Deepak Chopra: A Message to the Future Leaders of the World (Part 1)

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 4.04.31 PMBy Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP

From my commencement speech at Hartwick College

Today as you celebrate this major milestone in your life and commence a new stage of your life journey, I ask you to reflect on the gift of life itself. And life, in essence, is nothing but awareness. Furthermore human life, considered the pinnacle of biological evolution, is not just awareness, but self-awareness. Amongst creatures on this planet, we human beings are not only aware; we have the capacity to be aware that we are aware, to be conscious of our consciousness. In that self-awareness lies our potential and power to direct our own future evolution and the future evolution of civilization.

Biological evolution has been summed up in the phrase of “survival of the fittest,” but with overpopulation and over-consumption of resources, the future belongs to “survival of the wisest”. It is imperative for the future of humanity that wisdom becomes the new criterion for sustainable life on this planet. And wisdom is that knowledge that nurtures life in all its dimensions not only for us but also for the generations that follow us.

Today’s age is frequently referred to as the Information Age. The hallmarks of this age are the gifts of science and technology that have created the miracles of molecular medicine, real-time imaging of cellular function, instant accessibility of global knowledge, and social networks. Yet despite this emerging global brain, paradoxically we are beset with the same scourges of war and terrorism, radical poverty in 50% of the world’s population, irreversible climate change, along with deepening social and economic injustice! Furthermore, humanity suffers from massive malnutrition in which half the world suffers from hunger and the other half from obesity leading to inflammatory disorders, increasing the risk of chronic illnesses including many types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases while the hungry die from compromised immune function and infectious diseases. The information revolution has not led to the wisdom needed to solve our world crisis in health and well-being.

If ever humanity had the power of mass self-extinction on planet earth, it is today. And if it happens it will be because we allowed our emotional and spiritual evolution to be outpaced by the evolution of our science and technology. Nuclear proliferation, biological warfare, eco destruction, the extinction of species and the poisoning of our atmosphere, our rivers and waters and the very food that sustains our life and all life loom before us as imminent threats. But just as in other critical phases of transformation, while there is disaster looming on one hand, there is on the other hand the potential to create a radical reorganization into something much greater than was conceived of before.

Today, I ask you my young friends, you who are the future hope of humanity, you who are the future leaders of the world; today, I ask you what Mahatma Gandhi once asked, “Can you be the change you want to see in the world?”

In fact, there can be no social or world transformation unless there is your own inner transformation. Today, I ask you to face a fundamental truth. Today, I ask you to consider that there is no ‘you’ that is separate from the world. The gift of life, your own self-consciousness is your key to inner transformation and wisdom, and that in turn is how you will transform the world. Today, I ask you to acknowledge that you are the world and that your transformation of consciousness will be the future of the word. This self-transformation is the wisdom for our planet’s survival.

As I enter the autumn of my life and you the springtime of yours, I want to leave you with seven skills in self-awareness that I have learned and that I hope will serve you well no matter what profession you choose, or where your life and destiny take you.

 Stay tuned for Part 2 in which I outline the seven skills of self-awareness!

 

www.deepakchopra.com

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A Blessed Life: Practicing Gratitude in the Face of Robbery

I Dedicate You My Heart !If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep at night, you are richer than 75% of the world.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the one million who will not survive this week due to illness.

If you have money in the bank, any money at all, money in your wallet, spare change in a dish some place in your life, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy. 92% of people don’t even have that.

(All three quotes above are from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer and his presentation on Gratitude.)

One time a couple of years ago, I left money in the console of my car. I deal mostly in cash. I had skipped going to the bank and left a wad of ones and fives in my console to the tune of hundreds of dollars. Not smart, I know. At the time, I was pregnant, and I was also raising my eight year old boy. This meant, when I exited the car each afternoon, I had many elements to manage — book bags, yoga bags, grocery bags, etc.

One night I absentmindedly left my doors unlocked. When my son and I got in the car the next morning to hustle to school, I realized my car had been broken into, the console had been raided and my wad of cash was gone. I was very bummed. I was irritated with the perpetrator and myself for leaving the money there in the first place. I grouched and grumbled and was so animated, that my son began to cry. He was concerned, anxious, and scared. Recognizing this, I started to pull it together. That’s when it hit me: the thief had not only taken my hard earned yoga money, he/she had also stolen all my spare change. I had no idea how much that even totaled. It was certainly not something I even noticed. So the thought occurred to me: Maybe the thief needed the money more than I did. I mean, maybe not too of course. But maybe, given that they stole every last penny, maybe they did.

Right then, I turned it around. I released my anger and my frustration. I wished the thief best of luck and love. And I started to comfort my son, while also simultaneously pledging not to leave money in the console again. And of course, to this day, my son double checks to make sure I have locked the doors each evening.

According to Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, treasuring our divinity means being in a constant state of appreciation. Dyer professes that it is in this state that we train ourselves to look for things to be joyful about, happy about and grateful for. When I am steeped in gratitude, life seems so much simpler. I am not overwhelmed with things I wish were different. I am not viewing the world from a lens of lack. I am not drowning in self-pity or sorrow. I am abundantly aware of the blessings in my life. I am full of… I am just full. It’s such a delightful way of being. I offer you this humbly. Gratitude. It’s a practice worth engaging. It’s the practice of looking for the beauty around you at all times. It’s so fulfilling and enriching. Give it a try.

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photo by: Joe Fakih Gomez