it’s no shock he won

My first thought when the twin towers fell was, Oh, fuck. My last name’s Abdulla. Actually, it was more like intense dread imploding my gut. I knew in that moment life would never be the same. My last name, which had always felt like a curse, was more loaded than ever.

It didn’t help when, a few years later, my name mysteriously appeared on a no-fly list. I was issued a redress number, which I now must quote every time I fly to the United States, to prove I’m not a terrorist. Apparently it was a case of ‘mistaken identity’.

Right.

Prior to the no-fly incident, when I’d explain to friends my ongoing hassles at the border, most would brush it off. Oh, they do that to everyone. Well, no – they don’t do that to everyone. I found myself shutting down in such conversations, as I had for years. It was difficult to articulate the subtle (and not-so-subtle) discrimination I experienced. People thought I was overly sensitive, imagining it, or – my personal favourite – “too angry”. I told myself those very same things.

An Indian Game (Juggling the Books) - Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun

An Indian Game (Juggling the Books) – Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun

I wasn’t the least bit shocked Trump won…and truthfully, I’m not as upset as others. And not just because I live in Canada. Trump is the glaring, heinous expression of what we have collectively suppressed and brushed off for too long. Maybe now people will truly wake up and realize there’s a problem here. One that affects everyone and has become so gargantuanly big it can no longer be swept under the rug; in fact, it has become “the leader of the free world”.

This shit has gotten real, and it’s about time.

I don’t believe Trump could’ve won unless a huge amount of people (including some identified as spiritual, liberal, democrat, etc.) didn’t hold his patriarchal, racist, and misogynistic views somewhere in their psyche.

I include myself in this group. For years now, I’ve been facing my own inner patriarch, and what I’ve uncovered hasn’t been pretty. It is a long process. The inner bully is loud-mouthed, yet stealth and sly, and hides in pockets. Patriarchy, racism, and misogyny run deep in humanity, and reflect eons of false conditioning. They’re not going to go away without a fight. And when someone like Trump wins, there can be a sense or failing, futility, of wanting to escape it all.

Which is, of course, exactly what the patriarchy wants you to feel.

Most of us avoid facing the grief that underlies our programmed fear. It’s much easier to eat or drink or point fingers or hate. But look at the world we create when we shun our own pain. Who were we before we starting hating ourselves and others? Are we ready to travel the layers within to reach that place?

Are we willing to let go of whatever privileged status we have? Do we secretly cling to it like a security blanket? Have we become so accustomed to privilege that we don’t even recognize it as such? Are we ready to move past experiences of discrimination and forgive, at a time when discrimination has reared its most ugly head?

Here in Canada, we suffered through our own version of Trump for over nine years. Things appeared to turn around when Justin Trudeau was elected Prime Minister in 2015, but not everyone was happy about it. Only time will tell of significant change.

For Americans, now is not the time to immigrate to Canada or move to a foreign country. There is work to be done right where you are. It is a huge challenge, which contains the seed of a huge blessing. Now you know what you’re dealing with: the collective shadow stands right in front of you.

I’ve heard some beautiful sentiments expressed these last few days; those resolving to be more kind, more caring, more compassionate. I myself have felt very raw and open in my interactions lately. We need each other more than ever. No one is exempt.

This is a catalyst for humans to discover their true power. We can choose to connect with others in creating a new paradigm…or we can sink into fear and apathy. That’s the beauty of free will, and it ultimately has nothing to do with who is ‘leading’ the country.

To live in love consciousness, the volcano must explode. Will we be part of the wreckage or the cleanup?

 

my fiction put me in debt

My first guest blog post, as featured on A Holistic Journey.

A Holistic Journey

Last week my father told me that his local Safeway had closed down, soon to be replaced with a Whole Foods. Normally this news would’ve tickled me – I’m a Whole Foods addict – but I was inexplicably sad. He now scans the weekly store flyers and shops the best deals.

Why did this conversation leave me feeling so tender, so emotional? I realized it was the first time I thought, I want to be like that. Like my father. Careful, methodical. Good with money.

The money story has always been big for me. As a small child I constantly compared myself to others – me often holding the short end of the stick. Everyone else got the best toys, the best food (hot dogs and sugary cereals), the best clothes. I got a dad who seemed to say ‘no’ to everything.

It made me angry. It made me…

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the power of the women’s circle

Today is the final day of a 3-day sacred women’s circle I’m part of. I didn’t even know about the event until just a few days ago. It popped up on my Facebook wall (on the Full Moon, hmmm) and, despite my recent resolve to not spend money on retreats and workshops for the next little while, I knew immediately that I had to go. Not only would I be connecting with women in my own city, we would be learning the steps to facilitate our own women’s circles – gatherings where women come together to connect with each other deeply and authentically.

josephine wall, 'spirit of flight'

josephine wall, ‘spirit of flight’

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of leading women’s circles, so I trusted the divine timing at play and signed myself up before the doubting inner voice could talk me out of it.

After two days, what I know is this:

Few things are more powerful than women coming together in sacred circle to heal (individually and collectively).

Women can really go there when held in a trusting environment. Our emotional depth and our capacity to self-express makes my head spin (in a good way)!

It feels amazing to sit with a group of conscious women and feel truly seen and heard. Feeling that total acceptance is like coming Home. When judgment does come up, it is usually acknowledged (internally or externally), and dealt with.

-When women create sacred space with intention, magic happens. I mean real, palpable magic. The energy is electric. The power we can tap into when we are united is astounding.

I live two different lives: the one I present to the outside world, and the one in circle. In sacred space with my soul sisters (yes, even those I’ve only met two days ago!), I can relax and be truly Me, with no pretense. I can say things I would never ‘normally’ say out loud. Women can allow this for each other. It is possible. And when it happens, it is fucking amazing.

-Our society is set up such that women are often in judgment and competition with each other. It’s ingrained in most of us, and it takes constant conscious awareness to override this programming. Not an easy task when our triggers get activated and the pain runs so deep – not only in our present life experience, but in our ancestors/genes (DNA).

It is what it is for now, and it’s much more manageable when we have support and can see the bigger picture.

Women are waking up. And a lot of us really want men to be along for the ride, by our side, the Divine Masculine to our Divine Feminine. Both men and women can rise to a level of greatness that Planet Earth has not yet seen. The road to get there is not for the faint of heart…but it’s OH-SO-WORTH waiting for!)

***

I didn’t know the importance of authentic connection with women, or how much I needed it, till I experienced it for the first time a few years ago. A whole new world opened up.

This is where the Divine Feminine happens – when women gather together with the intention to awaken her. She is found in the real, raw, uncomfortable, deep, soulful, exhilarating, hilarious gatherings of women in our communities, in our backyards. The effects of those gatherings ripple out and transform all.

I’m driven to do this work…it’s exhausting and out of my comfort zone, it’s messy, and it brings up a lot of unpleasant stuff. I certainly can’t say it’s fun. But I feel alive when I’m doing it. I feel I’m tapping into something so Real in the midst of a grand illusion. This stuff matters. And I want more of it in my life.

And so it is.

not stuck, just gathering information

As some of my blogging friends know, for a while now I’ve been employed in a job that I am not, er, totally passionate about.  While I appreciate the many perks it offers, I sense there is something much greater to align with.  I know a lot of people out there can relate.

Around this time last year, I gave my notice at my current job.  I was just fed up, and prepared to take a leap into the unknown.  Instead, at somewhat the last minute, I decided to take an unpaid leave of absence, and frolic around Italy for a few weeks.

But now I find myself slipping back to where I was a year ago (albeit forever changed by my travels).  Though I am focusing on appreciating the great things about my job, there is the ever-looming desire for something more.  Something that doesn’t feel like ‘work’, something intangible, but that is just effortlessly me…someplace where I don’t have to remind myself all day, every day, why I am grateful to be there.  Something that just is.

A few weeks ago I signed up for one of those extensive Career Assessment tests, just to get some inspiration and ideas.  The results proved interesting, but not surprising.  My ideal work profile was identified as Social/Artistic, the #1 recommended occupation being Photographer.  The second suggestion was the much-less-sexy-sounding Technical Writer (which doesn’t sound too Social/Artistic, but whatever).

This hasn’t made me want to run out and quit my day job, but the results affirm that there are more creative options for me to explore.  To that end, I’ve enrolled in a couple of Writing courses, to get the juices flowing.

On the career front, I’ve been inundating myself with Abraham-Hicks videos lately, and learning to not define myself as ‘stuck’, or focus on those aspects of my job I have found draining or unpleasant.  That feeling of stagnation can become very familiar (as many office workers know), and become my dominant perception of my situation.

So I’m wanting to move away from that.  Instead, I’m going to take the advice I’ve been giving myself for years.  Just do what you love to do.  (Or even what you like to do, if you don’t know what that is.)  Do whatever you can, wherever you can, however often you can, to get yourself into that place where you’re…well, doing what you love to do.  For the sake of just doing it.

Seems easy enough, doesn’t it?  Yet somehow I’ve resisted fully going there.  I’ve called myself ‘undisciplined’. I’ve promised myself I’ll do it later (meanwhile frittering time away on Facebook).  Or I’ve associated doing what I love with immediately making it a career or source of income, and becoming discouraged/overwhelmed right off the bat.  Or – I’ve liked the idea of doing it better than actually doing it, because what if I suck at it?  (I think they call that self-sabotage.)

In the past I have felt the pressure of time, or (more often) comparison with others, influencing me to make a shift – which only backfired, especially since I had no concrete idea of what to shift to.

But I’ve ceased calling myself ‘scattered’ or ‘unfocused’.  Now I’m trusting that it’s okay to be one of those people who actually likes and loves to do a lot of different things.  And my process is going to be unique; there is no standard timeline for anything.

Abraham’s teachings help me find my own balance between appreciation – I mean, really appreciating what is – and aligning with that expanded part of me that craves movement, growth, freedom, and abundance. I’m taking all the time I need to find this balance.  Because key to this process is authenticity with where I’m truly at.

Doing those things I really love to do, but have resisted for whatever reason, will require a willingness to occasionally step out of my comfort zone.  To get my feet wet.  In my two Writing classes, I will be required not only to share my work with others, but to give and receive feedback.  This will be interesting.  Though blogging has opened me up in many ways, writing has largely been a solo activity.  To share that part of myself with relative strangers (though I’m sure they won’t be in ten weeks!) is a little daunting.

But I’m up for it.  All this is part of vulnerability and growth.  This opening will create channels for more creative streams to flow.  Maybe I’ll even start doing those tarot readings my friends have been pestering me about!

After all, 2014 is all about doing things a little different.  No more holding back.

six weeks off spirituality

About a week after I returned from my travels in Europe, a friend asked me whether I did any yoga in Italy. I shook my head and gave him a little smile. My response: “I didn’t want to be spiritual on this trip.”

It’s kind of humorous really: what does that even mean? Is spirituality a quality we can just turn on and off? Clearly, in this interaction with my friend, I was defining it in terms of my actions (or lack thereof). No, I didn’t do any yoga. I didn’t even think about it. I didn’t meditate or listen to Abraham-Hicks or do any of those other things I consider ‘spiritual activities’ at home. I drank wine and coffee and ate all the unhealthy things I avoid in my day-to-day life, and I partied until the wee hours with my favourite Italians of the trip, G and V, whom I met on the full harvest moon in Naples. (I just had to mention them here.)

In short, I didn’t restrict myself the way I usually do.

an awesome photo taken by Vaughan Lewis, a fellow traveller i met in Bologna.

an awesome photo taken by Vaughan Lewis, a fellow traveller i met in Bologna.

I’m reminded of one of the most challenging moments of my journey. I was in my tiny hotel room in Florence. Being so far away from my life back home, feeling so free to do whatever I wanted, feeling so overwhelmed by the adventure so far, and feeling so much wonder and gratitude and yes, frustration at times…everything seemed to come to a head. After a particularly unsetting experience that served as a personal wake-up call of sorts, that night I felt incredibly alone, powerless, and in fear.

I realized that for years – my whole life – I’ve been playing various roles, and most of them aren’t ‘me’. I hear the voices of religion, culture, family, friends, books, spiritual teachers…but where is mine in this cacophony? Would I even recognize it if I heard it? I’ve flown around much of the time, literally and figuratively, without a real grounding or knowing of who ‘I’ am…let alone being strong and confident in that knowing.

Not hearing my own voice has prevented me from having a really open and authentic relationship with God (Source, Universe, Love…I call it by many names). God has been ‘someone’ I’ve had to convince, impress, seek favour and approval and permission from. And that night, I felt the intense anger – and pain – surrounding that. I felt the heavy toll that pretending and judging (myself) has taken on me. I have not been living freely and authentically.

I see now that what subsequently took place was probably the most honest and real conversation with God that I’ve ever had. I thought I disliked Florence, but maybe the city’s deep beauty and religiosity and emotion and history stirred something completely unexpected within me that was just waiting for release.

another great shot by Vaughan.

another great shot by Vaughan.

I’m getting that my notions of spirituality have been limited, and limiting, for me. I’ve been applying the rules, doctrines, and opinions of others to how I perceive myself, and judging myself for falling short of those standards.

And now I ask: Why have I kept ‘spirituality’ and ‘pleasure’ in such distinct, mutually exclusive categories? Even though in theory I’ve believed they can be intertwined, I’ve never fully allowed it in my own life. There’s always been some sense of guilt or wrongness there. That is, until this trip, when I allowed myself to just be ‘Aleya’ the person and not the spirit. Enjoying doing everything she wanted to do, not obsessing about her higher self or past lives or karma or what-if’s or ‘what would they think’, etc.

To take a break from those intentionally spiritual acts I’ve been so accustomed to (either through practice or in telling myself I ‘should’ do more of them) was, somewhat ironically, what my spirit had been calling for. To bring me back to balance, to help me examine what truly works for me. It was a reset.

Will I get back into yoga and resume all those other activities that took a hiatus in Italy? Yes. But I think everything will feel lighter and more fun. Spirituality won’t be so serious. I’m intrigued that my life may take a direction where spirituality and pleasure are more meshed, in a way that is most meaningful and perfect for me.

***

I am giving myself permission to create my own relationship with God. One where we’re more equal partners. Perhaps even friends. Maybe that night in Florence was the game changer.

I hope to hang on to this feeling as long as possible. I like to think that on a deep, unshakeable level, it can never escape me.

end of stories

I’m finding that there’s nothing quite like blogging to make me more aware of, and accountable for, my thoughts and behaviors.  Writing something on the Internet, particularly when it concerns my so-called ‘flaws’, functions as my own personal self-magnifying glass.

After a recent post touching on judgment, I found myself more closely examining my inner judge.  I began to really pay attention to the various people I encountered on my daily walks.   And I noticed that, if left unchecked, my mind could fabricate a story about each and every one of them.

My mood + my memories + my projections + my fears + their appearance instantaneously combined to formulate a complex (and often unconscious) narrative about who ‘they’ were, and how I would or would not relate to them.

Judgment and story often go hand-in-hand, and stem from the ego – from fear and separation.  The ego constantly seeks to maintain control over a fragile and tenuous ‘reality’ it has created for itself through memories, beliefs, wounds, opinions, and external messages (to name a few).

Our personal narratives form our identity, and define our sense of ‘place’ – or not – in this world. The ego is terrified of letting these stories go.  Without them, what is left?  Who are we?  What do we hold on to?  The ego is constantly on the lookout for whatever does not conform to its worldview, and seeks to protect itself from any perceived threat. (Enter the story.)

The heart, conversely, comes from a position of implicit trust (love).    Not blind trust in everyone and everything we encounter – discernment is essential – but a quiet knowing that we are safe on a much deeper level than any fictional imaginings can provide.  Where my ego views a possible enemy, my heart sees a potential friend or ally.

I know that underneath all my stories, there is a deep longing for human connection.  A genuine desire to release all the opinions, thoughts, and judgments I carry around.  I know this because my heart immediately perks up, expands, warms, opens, and brightens when I receive an unexpected smile from a stranger.  In that instant, story doesn’t matter.

lotus

It’s amazing, really, how simple yet profound a smile can be.  It neutralizes.  Erases poisonous thoughts and judgments just like that [snap].  It’s magic.

***

On my morning walks I often look around and think, Each one of us woke up today, ready to do it all over again. None of us is done yet.  We’re all still supposed to be here. 

I want to nurture this vision of you as a kindred journeyer in the experience of life, navigating the mystery in their own unique and appropriate way.  A divine being, masquerading as a human for a little while.

When I let go of my fixed notions of what ‘reality’ is, and how things ‘should’ be within it, I can approach you with an unclouded heart.  I can drop my armor, meeting you with receptivity and openness. In my friend Sadee’s words, with boundaries instead of barricades.

When I release my own stories, perhaps I won’t need to project any onto you. We can each choose to be whomever we want.  And we both walk a little freer.