What a ride the last weeks; months; lifetimes have been.
Upleveling causes turmoil and brings up our shadows. This is the first thing I tell all of my students: It sucks. It’s messy, confusing, and painful to detox. It will feel like you’re lost, moving into the new while the old is still digging its claws into your heart and your mind and is pulling the strings of your emotions, telling you “you’re wrong. don’t do this baby, you’re wrong.”
I’ve been stressed out for the better part of this year, like the rest of us.
I’m doing my best to navigate the chaos with grace, and ease, and sometimes not doing so well at that at all. I have found myself in a mostly joyless state lately.
Everything feels hard, overwhelming, and slightly depressing. Many days, I question what the fuck I’m doing and why despite knowing precisely why, and seeing the results of my hard work.
It’s hard to show up in integrity. It’s difficult to go to the places most are unwilling to go and to speak publicly about it. It’s painful to lose friends, lovers, and clients and keep going.
Fear has risen up and in more moments than I care to admit, taken its hold. Grief has ruled my existence for almost 2 years now, and I feel it lifting and then it comes crashing down again.
My truth is not a popular one right now. In fact, it’s absolutely misunderstood and the beliefs I hold are being persecuted with the intention to eradicate them. To wipe this level of understanding and the willingness to challenge the narrative off the map completely.
It’s essential that, as visionary leaders, we stay open to challenging our beliefs and allowing ourselves to be fluid. Our devotion must be to show up to serve honestly, vulnerably, and in the nuance of integrity in each individual moment.
No matter what.
It is in this way that we most effectively and most efficiently make the big moves in the world we deeply desire to make.
Being human is confusing. It’s so complex, so nuanced, and prioritizing being in service to the Divine (and therefore humanity) means prioritizing self AND others. Because everything is both and, and it’s precisely this paradox that makes it so hard to wrap our minds around. It’s impossible, in fact, to wrap our minds around it. There has to be a deeper understanding; it must go beyond all of our baser nature, because all of these parts of us-
The light, the dark, and the shadow, all of these parts of us are us. And they all need to be explored in order to expand our consciousness and integrate on higher and higher levels. If we ignore them, we don’t evolve in integrity.
Because we are human and therefore extremely complex, it’s essential that we have a diverse team of trusted advisors that provide checks and balances to be called on when something feels off, and we know we’re stepping out of center. I’m so grateful for my team because these last days have been extremely challenging for me and truths that I’ve been gracefully navigating for 4 years now came to the surface to be revealed and explored.
My people called me out on it and brought me back to my center. Back to the place of, I refuse to let fear direct my decisions. Because my beliefs are fluidly and rapidly evolving as my capacity to take in and hold more information is increased, it feels essential that I am honest with people about where I’m at in any given moment, but it is not what I believe that really matters, but rather how I got there, and that I am willing to explore and challenge everything I think I know about the world in any given moment.
I am willing to show up and express the nuances of my truth as they change from moment to moment, and I believe this is what an effective, compassionate leader does. I hide nothing, and I refuse to allow others to stay where they are.
That’s not kind, that’s not loving, that’s not service.
It is precisely this level of integrity and showing up truthfully that I have been able to transcend so many of the laws of man and create the level of freedom I now get to experience. And it’s my mission to continue to climb the ladder to shine even more brightly as a beacon of possibility for all who will have it. I won’t stop, because I can’t.
We are limitless, and I’m proving it more and more every day.
At the end of my life, if I’ve achieved “nothing,” but I can hand in a stack of documents with all of my findings about the human experience, and those findings show variation in the data because I’ve chosen not to take the same path as the majority, then I’ve achieved everything I came here to achieve.
I’ve really been considering whether or not my beliefs are relevant to my work, and I keep coming back to “yes.” Because in order for us to be in integrity, our insides must match our outsides. It requires being empowered to express ourselves fully.
My mission is not to influence the world about what to believe, but to lead them to the fluidity that facilitates living in integrity. Finding the truth in the chaos of each moment. This skill of being fluid is the key to unlocking our divinity, and therefore our potential.
So let me transparent about where I am coming from right now based on the current set of keys I’m holding.
I hated the United States for a long, long time. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and angry. When I began my work outside of corporate employment, my #1 motivation was creating a situation where I could move to another country.
I blamed the system, the values, the capitalist machine. I had been in so much pain for so long and I identified completely with that pain. I believed that the only way I could succeed was if I had a certain level of education (was never gonna happen. I blamed the money but ultimately, that path is not mine), a certain look, a certain status, a certain way of life.
I believed there was no chance at success for me unless I followed the above narrative or became a savage and vicious version of myself who takes advantage of and oppresses everyone else to get to the top. I believed resources are limited. I believed that in order to be in a position of power, it required taking something away from others.
I was so ashamed of the privileges I’d been given and simultaneously ungrateful and feeling like I’d been dealt a shitty hand in life.
I voted Republican in 2004 and 2008. Mostly because I was surrounded by them and still listening to what I was being told by those around me and the mainstream media. I was still threatened by those who were not like me, because I believed that there wasn’t enough to go around (spoiler alert: there is, and scarcity isn’t real).
By 2012 I was a hardcore liberal and when Obama got elected it was a dream come true. I felt that my Ohio vote had counted (and it did!) I celebrated in the streets (of St. Louis, where I was living) like everyone else. I praised the ACA (and I don’t know enough right now to say that the ACA was good or bad, I simply know that at the time it made me feel like I could finally have a chance at not being enslaved by an employer forever).
I prayed for socialism to come in and save me and everyone else.
At the beginning of 2016 I started to travel abroad. This corresponded with the beginning of Trump’s campaigning. The people of the United States thought it was a joke. The people of Argentina were baffled and everywhere I went in Buenos Aires, I was asked to sit and share my perspective.
I said, this is not a joke. This person has captivated the emotional immaturity of our society. It was disappointing, to say the least.
Later that year, I became deeply intimate with a man who grew up in a Communist society and had endured the fallout of that when its leader died (Yugoslavia, Tito), and I began to question everything I thought I knew once again. He broke my brain and I finally saw how indoctrinated I’d been. How dependent I was. How deeply rooted my victimhood was as part of my identity.
It’s been 5 years since I started to question the liberal agenda as I had questioned the conservative so many years prior, and I see plainly now that both wings are part of the same bird, and both are needed for it to fly.
It is only in these last months that I have SOLIDLY come to a place of loving this and fully accepting my place as an American. I am American. This is my home, and I belong here. I feel it in my bones for the first time.
And… it’s a total mind fuck. Because this place is also a mess and it was built on genocide and slavery and ethnic cleansing. I question every day, but do I really belong here? Am I causing harm by being here? I dig deeper, I look to (not mainstream, whitewashed) history, I study philosophy, and psychology, and I pray and study religion and spirituality and all signs point too: Yes. I belong here. We all do, at this point. And I know this for a fact because we are here.
I believe in the United States, and its people. I believe our society can still work and that it’s not too late to reroute.
I believe in democracy. I believe in love, and I believe in compassion. I believe in accountability and I believe we are limitless beings. I believe that I have a responsibility to show others this limitlessness; to be evidence that what we all desire most- freedom– is absolutely, unquestioningly possible for each of us. I believe in the power of prayer, and of asking the questions that allow the Divine to come in and lead the way.
I believe in a person’s right to choose their path.
I believe in personal freedom of belief.
I believe in what this country was founded on.
I do not believe in the leftist agenda of globalism and socialism and I also do not believe in the right’s ideologies that are entangled in white supremacy, fear and greed. I find truths and untruths in both ideologies, and this often leaves me confused and sick to my stomach.
I believe there’s another way. A middle way that has yet to be defined or preached. A way that leads people to their divine birthright and holds space for all of us to be precisely where we are, with room and encouragement for growth.
Now, I am praying that we find a balance between implementing social services and full-on socialism because I understand that it doesn’t work as a sustainable model, and why. I see plainly that it takes freedoms away and creates more dependency, and I know that I can only see this now because of where I’ve been. I also know that it’s not for me to say if anything is wrong, or right for anyone but myself, but it does cause me concern to think that American democracy could be lost forever because of the misunderstanding of the people.
I believe that by prioritizing our individual integrity, we create a society that, as a reflection of that, is integral as well. A society that is united because the maturity of the people creates a model where we easily show up for one another. This society is not perfect, because humans are fallible and we are flawed. We do better as we know better, and the process of evolution and expanding our consciousness is messy.
We do not get there if we tolerate hypocrisy and double standards. There can’t be exceptions to holding our values because the exception serves our needs- this constitutes corruption. We do not get where we want to go if we are silent and not willing to challenge the mainstream narrative. We do not get there if we write others off because their opinions challenge ours and we refuse to look beyond our beliefs to find the truth in other narratives.
We do not get where we want to go if we shut down when things get hard and people refuse to come along; this is leadership 101.
We cannot tolerate censorship on any level. We cannot tolerate canceling others out. We cannot be a part of a persecution of any beliefs, no matter how wrong we think they are. It’s not for us to say, and once that precedent is set, the line doesn’t get drawn.
I’m paying attention to patterns in history and it keeps coming down to this:
It is essential that we do not stop asking questions. That we are not blinded by our hope and our love and our compassion and our desire for change. Because in the blink of an eye, things can and do change in ways that we did not see coming.
We think we’re safe here, but I’m going to tell you what I learned from dating a Bosniak man who came of age during the bloodiest war of our generation and was part of a population of people who were persecuted for their beliefs.
I think about all of the civilizations, all of the empires that fell because its people got complacent. Because its people made excuses for corruption- for integrity breaches! double standards and hypocrisy. Rome. Byzantium. Persia. Yugoslavia.
I also think about all of the harm that’s been perpetuated (and perpetrated) because people went along, blindly with the persecution of beliefs. Nazi Germany. The ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks. And to a somewhat, though still 100% harmful, lesser degree, the harm caused by the choice to not accept fully people who do not believe what you do or look like you and because you think you have some right to ownership over a territory or an idea or an identity (this is the most unevolved, peasant-status, weak way to show up as a human):
Serbs/Croats/Bosnians/Bosniaks; Black Americans; Jews; poor white people; powerful, wild, free women and witches. Anyone and everyone who represents something triggering to the weakest amongst us.
I think often about the persecutions throughout history that have wiped populations off of the map because they held different beliefs and understandings about the world. I think often about colonization and how it happened. It happened because people came into a society and said, “you’re not doing this the way we would have you do it and so we’re going to do everything we can do convince you you’re doing it wrong. We’re going to bait you with hopes and dreams of an easier life, a better life.”
This is why I say, we are not free until we are all free. And I hear this said all the time but I genuinely mean it. There can be no double standards or we’re all fucked.
Either we’re all free to be fully self-expressed, or none of us are. This includes the people you don’t like. Even the racist, bigoted, misogynistic pieces of shit who spread hate in this world. Every time you condemn someone, you do harm.
We all think we’re safe, until we realize we’re not. And my ask is simply that we are paying attention so that we’re not blindsided and later say “hmm. what went wrong?”
Ultimately, I’m not here to tell you what to believe, but rather to continue to encourage you to check in so that you don’t get lost and corrupted by outside entities. If I confuse you, that’s good because it means I’m showing you things you weren’t available for previously.
I hope you’ll do your best to allow it, to go there and figure out what it means for you, and find a way to integrate it into the sum of your whole. These are the checks and balances to keep you evolving in integrity.
Nothing can exist in integrity if the parts of the whole are fighting, and nothing that exists without integrity can be sustained.
Don’t get stuck.