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Jesica Hanley Vega

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Cocktail Chatter: The Introverts Edition

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Thanks to this “Glory of Amlwch” bush, I shifted from anxiety to peace in a matter of seconds.

If you’re like me, when you look out on a sea of strangers – shaking hands, making cocktail chatter, and exchanging cards – you break into a cold sweat. Almost four years ago, I fled the stresses and social intensity of life in Los Angeles for a simpler existence on the shores of Puget Sound.

It suits me in the Pacific Northwest, and living so closely to the natural world has instilled a confidence and sense of self that eluded me for many years. Living here, I’ve also rediscovered the desire to inspire others that once led me to be a filmmaker. But isolation has also distanced me from my peers, and the desire to close that gap inspired my pilgrimage to The Hive.

Closing that gap was both easier and more challenging than I’d expected. It may not be necessary to say, but I am extremely introverted. I feel comfortable with animals, plants, intimate exchanges and meaningful conversation, but don’t fare as well with the kind of small talk necessary at a conference or crowded party. So there I was, in this environment of openness and excitement, knowing I was among the very people I wanted to talk to…and yet often feeling incapable of establishing the connections I sought. But here’s what I realized…

You ARE your contribution. When I remembered how much I care about the world and my commitment to connecting people to themselves and their planet, my interactions were intimate and meaningful, despite the flurry of small talk all around us.

Most people want to be recognized for who they really are and, while there were people with whom I didn’t connect, more often than not – through my commitment – I was able to find a common humanity with people even if we lacked common experience, background or age.

Check in with something that grounds youI’ve been photographing the natural world since I arrived in Washington and nothing soothes my nervous system like being up close and personal with living things. At my most anxious moments, if I could find a blooming thing with which to check in, I was fine. Ultimately, my social courage over the weekend was a testament to the wonders of getting grounded For me the source is flowers, but no matter your method, it’s worth embracing: not just in crowds, but in any stressful circumstance.

In closing, if you also find yourself in a cold sweat when you look out on a sea of strange faces, and prefer almost anything to shaking hands and making cocktail chatter, remember two things: you are a contribution and what is eternal, real and true can be the magic elixir when it comes to introducing yourself. Because, even if you’re an introvert, the next hand you shake may be the one that transforms your world.

Why Spiritual Activism

IMG_7283It sells nothing. It has no agenda but to give voice to those values which otherwise go unexpressed in the public discourse: values like peace, justice and sustainability.

Unfortunately, as the term “sustainability” has become synonymous with a specific business driven agenda, it’s easy to forget what it’s really about: the capacity of human beings to sustain our presence on this planet.

At a time when resources seemed infinite, sustainability was not an issue in our world. It’s only recently that we’ve seen the vast consequences of the West’s shift towards corporate capitalism, industrialization and technology.

But if things changed so quickly once, they can change again.

There are certainly nefarious individuals among us who would have you believe that greed, violence and injustice are the cornerstones and final words regarding human interaction. In believing that dark vision of human nature, you do their work for them. They would not have you believe in things like peace, cooperation or even an equitable democracy. Instead they wish you only to think the worst of each other and yourselves.

Religious forces ask you to believe in your unworthiness. Capitalist forces ask you to believe in your poverty. Media forces ask you to believe in your helplessness and ugliness. Pharmaceutical forces ask you to believe in your illness. So called educational forces ask you to believe in your children’s disabilities, and political forces ask you to believe in the most pernicious things of all: your separation from other human beings and the world around you. These are the values to which we are exposed everyday. These are the values of every advertising and political campaign, and they play on the assumption that you are inadequate.

As a Spiritual Activist, I only ask that you dare believe in your best, in the power of your voice, in the power of harmony to seek itself and the power of human beings to come together peacefully to create solutions for a better world.

Don’t bother  sharing this message with the ignorant, the angry or the willfully indifferent. I don’t speak for them, I speak for you: the caring but overwhelmed, the loving but discouraged, the peaceful but afraid.

I speak in order that you find your own voice, your own courage and your own sense of purpose. I speak to let you know that you are not alone and to remind you that when you give in to cynicism and pessimism, you give in to those forces which seek to make you powerless by turning your own mind against you.

As Margaret Mead once famously said: never doubt that a small group of committed individuals has the power to change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.

A Garden Of One’s Own

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This quote from Ram Dass expresses how the body, mind and spirit must all be nurtured in order to create optimal circumstancesnot only for ourselves, but for those around us.

My understanding of the way a child grows is that you create the garden, you don’t grow the flower. You can merely fertilize the earth and keep it soft and moist, and then the flower grows as best it can. It’s an interesting one, because people get guilty that they’re not doing enough about their children, and they tend to get caught in this sort of predicament.

You don’t change your wife or your child. You just keep working on yourself until you are such a clean mirror reflection, such a supportive rock of love for all those beings that everybody is free to give up their stuff when they want to give it up – your wife, her anxiety; your child, that habit. You keep creating a space in which people can grow when they’re ready to grow. – RAM DASS

Experiencing “Retreats With Heart” on Friday, April 17

Stephanie, me and Margo
Stephanie, me and Margo

When Stephanie Fisher first asked if I’d be interested in leading a retreat with her, I couldn’t have been more excited. Ever since I worked at The Omega Holistic Studies Institute in upstate New York, leading workshops and retreats had been a dream of mine. Then, when she introduced me to Margo Wade Walsh and her beautiful home in Gig Harbor, the dream got even better.

In addition to weekend workshop/retreats, this month we will be launching the first of a four-part series called Enlighten Up. Each of these daylong events will examine two principles of living a peaceful, joyous life and explore various practices to get you there: including journal writing, art, movement, mindfulness and affirmation. And, as always, a delicious and healthy lunch will be served.

If this sounds good, on Friday April 17 at 7:15 p.m., you’ll have the opportunity to experience some of it for yourself during my FREE one-hour introduction to Retreats With Heart at Good Karma Center For Joy in Tacoma.

It’s one thing to read about what we do or see one of our fliers. It’s another thing to spend some time with us in person and get a feel for what it’s really like to work on opening your heart to a greater experience of joy, peace and connection.

Retreats With Heart was founded to serve women and men who seek to be more connected with themselves and others. Whatever your background or faith, we know that the pressures of daily life take their toll on everyone. We also know how valuable it is to slow down, take a look at how you’re living and, where necessary, make new choices that are more in alignment with what you really want.

With decades of experience between us, Stephanie, Margo and I are devoted to sharing our love and wisdom with the world and doing our part to making it one where all people can lead lives of the greatest power, joy and contribution. If this sounds like something you’d like to experience, come check us out.

  • When: Friday, April 17 at 7:15 p.m.
  • Where: Good Karma Center For Joy, 711 Saint Helens, Tacoma
  • RSVP or Questions: Jesicadavis@retreatswithheart.com

Your Soul Is Calling

IMG_6668My 2014 SOUL CALL was such a success that I will be hosting two FREE introductory calls to the 2015 SOUL CALL on Friday, April 10 at 7:00 p.m. & Wednesday, April 15 at 1:00 p.m.

What is a SOUL CALL?

Essentially, it’s a weekly conference call limited to 4 people in which you can explore and share your deepest desires and challenges in a safe and nurturing environment.

  • It’s like talking to your best friends, knowing you could trust them with your life.
  • It’s like having a therapist, spiritual guide and loving aunt all wrapped in one.
  • It’s like being in a workshop, a support group and a class every week where the subject is YOUR LIFE and…
  • It’s an opportunity to discuss the things that are most important to you and closest to your heart without having to leave your home or office.

Most likely, it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

RSVP now for a FREE introductory call and see, hear and feel for yourself whether a SOUL CALL is your next step on the journey of personal expansion and spiritual growth.

  • Introductory call #1: Friday, April 10 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Introductory call #2: Wednesday, April 15 at 1:00 p.m.

To RSVP or receive further information, contact me at: info@jesicadavis.com

Ringing In A New Year With Joy and Offerings

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As much as an embarrassing pain in the ass that it’s often been to have given up a predictable career path in favor of following spirit…I have to say, it’s been worth it.

In 2015, it will be ten years since I began my transition from a career in entertainment towards a life devoted to spirit and service. There have been many bumps in the road, many challenges, failures and sacrifices. And yet, look at that smile on my face!

Whatever your belief system, when you lead a life connected to something bigger than yourself, you avail yourself of a joy and a freedom that is impossible any other way.

In addition to being available for one-on-one consultations and coaching, this year I will be placing a greater emphasis on leading retreats, workshops and classes. This is a dream come true and I look forward to providing something that meets your needs as you cultivate a life of greater power, joy and freedom.

Here are just a few upcoming offerings:

  • Come Home To Your Heart, Feb 20-22  Join me and partners Stephanie Fisher and Margo Wade Walsh for this weekend immersion in heart and soul. Together we will cultivate Connection, Peace and Joy while enjoying delicious food, gorgeous views of the Puget Sound and lots of laughter.
  • Dream Circle, Thursdays – In this weekly call, we share dream time visions and explore the significance they have for our waking lives. Through dream work, you will discover spirit and meaning where you’ve never encountered it before.
  • Mentorship Circle, Tuesdays – Mentorship circles provide the opportunity to explore what matters most in a safe and loving environment where challenges are met and triumphs celebrated. This is a perfect choice if you feel alone on your journey and seek a trusted community of like-,minded souls.
  • The Path, 3rd Sundays – Whether you are just starting out on your journey or have years of practice under your belt, The Path provides a monthly opportunity to connect with  a community of loving and wise souls. At The Path, we are all the teachers and all the students.
  • For questions and more info, just contact me at info@jesicadavis.com, I look forward to hearing from you.

You CAN Make A Difference

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No being is too small. No effort is too insignificant.

Recently I realized that, though I once believed I couldn’t make a difference, that time had passed.

It was a remarkable milestone for someone who grew up with a litany of reasons why I couldn’t make the impact I longed to make.

The process of giving up those reasons was a long one but I encourage anyone who recognizes such barriers in their life to make the effort to let them go.

Here is a list of the reasons I had for being powerless:

  • I am too spiritual and don’t fit in.
  • I am too sensitive and introverted.
  • Nobody listens to me.
  • I don’t have enough money.
  • The world is a bad place and will never change.
  • My opponents are too powerful.
  • Other people are too selfish and don’t care.
  • Not everyone agrees with me and I don’t have the facts.
  • I lack credibility because I’m not successful enough.
  • I have to put my family first.

Do any of these sound familiar or remind you of your own?

If so, write about them, talk about them, ceremonially purge yourself of them. Do whatever you can to let go of the limitations that stop you. And when one limitation arises to take the place of another, do it again. The reasons are not infinite and, one day, with patience and persistence they will be gone.

5 Lessons From Speaking Up

There's much growth to be found by digging in the shadows
Some things grow in sun. Some grow in dark.

Last week’s Facebook post about rape (reprinted here) garnered a lot of comments, most of them favorable and many from women familiar with experiences of abuse and intimidation.

But it inspired some push-back as well. As I should have remembered, not everyone supports survivors of abuse coming forth with their stories and, in fact, some are immediately suspicious when a woman says something that may “take a good man down.”

Just thinking about these comments still makes my heart pound and my adrenaline rush. I do NOT like expressing anger in public and I do NOT like debate – and yet certain criticisms tempted me to both and left me feeling  torn between wanting to destroy my opponents and wanting to change their minds. Getting so worked up, I also feared losing control over my worst impulses and revealing a side of myself that I didn’t want people to see.

And yet, as I step further into leadership and self-expression, I will inevitably confront further criticism and disagreement,  some of which – like last week’s – will come from people I know. And I may feel angry.

So I had to do some hard thinking this week and learn myself a few lessons about bearing the brunt of other people’s disagreement:

  • Being questioned or criticized, and feeling angry about it, doesn’t make me wrong, stupid or powerless.
  • On occasion, it’s appropriate to block someone from Facebook. It doesn’t mean I can’t tolerate other opinions or am a bad person. It simply reflects a commitment to the kinds of conversations I value.
  • I can feel angry and still remember my higher intentions. While it’s easy  for me to get triggered into a debate and want to win it, my higher purpose is never to be right. My higher purpose is to create a space in which others are safe to express their highest selves, share their truths and discover authentic power.
  • I can separate myself from the cause of my anger, i.e. the person who criticized me. Ultimately, what someone says is more about them than anything else. Whether they’re trying to shut me down, disprove what I’m saying or just being a jerk, I don’t have to take it personally. I can just let it (and them) go.
  • I’d rather make a difference in the lives of people I care about than waste my  limited energy trying to change the minds of people who don’t like what I have to say.

The fear of criticism causes many people to step back from their own best selves. Don’t let it stop you. Much of my work is dedicated to supporting others in doing what is risky to their sense of security and stability but which nevertheless offers them the most vitality and power.

There is life in speaking out, whether it’s against injustice or for something you believe. But if it was easy, everybody would do it. Your voice is needed and your voice is important. Be brave. Speak up and don’t let the F’ers get you down.

Thinking about Columbus Day – a few days after the fact

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Rocking the Latina Vibe!

As part of my recent work with The Pachamama Alliance, I volunteered to write an editorial reconsidering ColumbusDay for some local papers in Tacoma. It was a fun assignment and I enjoyed it, but didn’t think much more about it until this evening when I discovered my Op-Ed in The Tacoma Weekly.

Here is the complete text – co-written with the kind folks at Pachamama. And I am happy to say – even before the publication of this piece, the city of Seattle designated Indigenous People’s Day on the day traditionally reserved for Columbus.

Reconsidering Columbus Day

With Columbus Day approaching, it’s interesting to consider what we learned, and more importantly, what we didn’t learn in school about the holiday and the man. We can all probably still recite the names of the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, but what were we taught about the brutal legacy of Columbus’ venture and those that followed?

According to the late historian Howard Zinn, Columbus’ discovery initiated a time of mass killings and commenced an era marked by colonization, the tragic dispossession of native homelands – including those of my Taino ancestors – and a seemingly unending drive toward the accumulation of money and power. While much of our modern lifestyle is possible due to resources acquired this way – and much knowledge has been gained through interaction with other cultures – it’s time to consider the harm that has also been done.

Beyond the historical destruction of our natural world and the devastation of indigenous peoples, we would benefit by looking at the insidious impact these trajectories continue to have on contemporary lives as well. While the excessive development that ensued in the New World celebrated the notion that “more is better,” that belief has kept us all moving at unhealthy speeds to achieve an idea of success characterized by money, power and little else. With both human health and the health of the planet in jeopardy, it may serve us to question what values we celebrate in our modern culture and consider whether there are different values we should cultivate instead at this point in human history – values such as sustainability, social justice and spiritual fulfillment. Something else we didn’t learn much about in school was the mutually enhancing relationship indigenous cultures have had with the Earth for millennia – and this may be a lesson we ignore at our peril.

Last month more than 300,000 people gathered in New York for the largest climate march in history. It was a plea to return to a more reverent relationship with the Earth. With Columbus Day approaching, it’s time for a reality check on what we’ve learned, a correction of what we haven’t and the cultivation of a relationship between ourselves and the Earth that’s more in harmony with indigenous wisdom.

 

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