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Jesica Hanley Vega

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purpose

What’s Going On? v.2016

20160202_095644
Owens Beach, WA. February 2, 2016

Though it seemed as if 2015 was ending on a high note, in reality, the year ended in a heaving crescendo of disappointment and upset. In a very short time I went from feeling on top of the world to feeling as if nothing made sense. In my best moments, I called it humbling; in my worst, I described myself as crushed, bitch slapped and ground to dust.

I never cried so much.

But just as deepest winter is finally giving way to that point when the first signs of spring tentatively emerge (in the Gaelic pagan traditions, it’s known as Imbolc) I may now be glimpsing a new season in my own life: a season of simplicity, gratitude and a heightened awareness of what really matters in my life.

For the moment at least, I’ve swept all grand plans to the side: an unfinished book project lies safely in its folder, all retreats are off the calendar, and all speaking engagements suspended. The mantra of “writing, teaching, speaking” which powerfully called me forward in 2015 has been replaced by “I want a job.”

I want a paycheck, I want to show up and make a difference in people’s lives, and I want to go home and enjoy my family. I want to belong, I want to be valued and, most importantly, I want to be compensated.

I still want to read cards. I still want to provide sacred space. I still want to teach and I still want to listen. But I’ve surrendered to the fact that the struggle to support my family exclusively through those pursuits put too much strain on the gifts that made them possible in the first place.

The monthly concern about paying bills, meeting unexpected expenses and simply taking good care of my children finally took its toll. And though I may seem to possess a boundless capacity to handle stress, uncertainty and a shortage of cash, those very qualities likely had me struggle far longer than I might have otherwise. Because that’s how it is with gifts sometimes; they bite us in the ass.

So I’ve circled some wagons and given thanks that I have my health and my life, two beautiful children and a husband who loves me. I’ve given thanks for my education, my resources and my ability to communicate. And I’ve given thanks that I still experience great joy reading cards, being there when people seek connection to their own spirits and providing sacred space when they need to hear their hearts. And I’ve given thanks for the new opportunities coming my way, whatever they are, and the new adventures life has in store.

Amen.

What Reveals The Fire Within You?

fire transforms
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Howard Thurman

For years, I’ve been curious about what inspires people to take on change and make it stick. Overall, I’ve concluded that they are either inspired by something bigger than themselves or have experienced a major life transition that caused them to reassess everything.

Unless one of these two things is at work, it’s unlikely to have the vision or tenacity required to get outside the box and create something genuinely new in life.

While at The Hive last month, I was struck by how many stories I heard in which the loss of a parent or loved one inspired a new commitment to activism or social entrepreneurship. Through my private practice and work with Retreats With Heart, I’ve also seen divorce, illness and children leaving the nest also inspire people to take on new, more meaningful chapters of their lives.

If we look closely enough and get present to our experiences, we can always find the inner fires of purpose burning. But too often we’re distracted by the routines of daily life to take the time. Life transitions force us to take those closer looks, to ask the questions and seek the answers we’ve avoided. They strip us of attachments to thought and action and leave us raw, vulnerable and face to face with what really matters to us.

And yet, we don’t have to wait for tragedy to strike or years to pass. Life is not only short, but our planet is in crisis and needs your fire: to burn away what is dried out as well as to fuel new ways of living in our world. Whether you’re in the middle of a transition or already feeling the blaze within, my purpose is to support you in profoundly connecting to yourself and your work, so that your life becomes an expression of what matters most.

Registration is now open for my October 3 event at Retreats With Heart. Entitled Aligning With Your Inspiration, this one day workshop will get you connected to the desires that really matter to you, and give you the tools to fulfill them right now.

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.

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.

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