A few short (less than 5 minutes) thoughts on how I think about giving up and how I turn around and show up here.
Also, a 7 minute Birdsong Earth Meditation I created to bring you joy is here.
There is a special job held by certain individuals in your life: they are the light bulb testers. They may take the form of people you love and they may appear as people you hate. Yes, hate, as in the underbelly of love. Or they may take the form of the person in front of you ordering the last jelly doughnut.
Now you’re craving a jelly doughnut, aren’t you?
This week, dare I say as an emboldened Aries, this month (!), I celebrate my 48th birthday. It was on 4/18 and I turned 48. (8 is my favorite number. And 4 is a multiple of 8 so that’s very cool. Plus it’s my sister’s favorite number.) Thank you to so many of you who wished me a happy birthday through phone, text, social media and snail mail. It’s been magical and fun and full of love.
And, I’ve run into a few light bulb testers.
That’s when, in the midst of my intense joy and gratitude, some individuals and events have brought darkness to my doorstep—and no jelly doughnuts.
So what are your choices when you are moving into a beautiful moment in your life? What if you are in that beautiful moment and someone takes a hammer to your light bulb no matter how many times you’ve dodged his or her swings?
You embrace the shattered light.
“What does that mean, Rebecca? Can you please be more specific?”
Yes, yes I can. Here’s what happened:
The day was full and beautiful. Love surrounded me—even in nature. I saw a heron, a seal and a super cool snail!
Then a light bulb tester came in the form of a conversation later in the day. I made a boundary and declared, “Nope, not today. Any other day, but not today.” But I didn’t duck and I stayed in the conversation despite my intuition (which was a mistake) and I allowed that bulb to get broken. Then I stepped in the glass with bare feet again and again.
And my “old stuff” came up. The pain in my shoulder blade I hadn’t felt for almost a year came back. And do you know what I ended up saying after a few tears? “Thank you. Thank you God and the Universe because I know that this is part of a plan and this had to happen.” I didn’t know why and I didn’t need to understand why. (Though I tried for a moment.) And I let myself get really angry at the light bulb tester. I let that move through me so it wouldn’t ping around like a pinball in an old-fashioned machine. I wanted to kick myself for not trusting my intuition or for making firmer boundaries. But then I came around to compassion for myself and a softening for the hope I had for a light-filled conversation on my birthday.
Getting back to the light and burning brightly took a bit more doing. It was my super special lucky number birthday, so I took action. I prepared a delicious snack, watched a movie, went swimming and played with my son. And every time the memory of the last smash came back, I said, “I see you, but that’s not what’s happening right now. And I replaced the darkness with the faces of the people with whom I spoke that day. I replaced the feelings of lack, guilt and shame that were dumped on my doorstep with the firm decision that I was not going to accept that delivery. And days later, I’ve extended compassion to the light bulb tester, a compassion firmly lined with a boundary.
Whether you believe in God, Source, the Universe or nothingness, there’s a plan. You have a chance to co-create it. I chose my reaction to that plan. I chose to embrace my uncomfortable feelings and move through them until I was able to pull another light bulb out of the box. I got plugged in again.
My grandmother Mama Chelo always told me, “You live in my heart, and you don’t even pay rent.” Be mindful of who gets to come into your heart and when. People do not have a right to be there, it’s a privilege. And sometimes, new people come into your heart and some people take a break from rent-free living. And that’s okay.
You don’t have to accept any unwanted deliveries and own other’s people’s stuff. We each have enough of our own stuff — no additional clutter needed.
Know that when you’re tested, the source of your light is limitless. There are always more light bulbs. Also, without the dark, your light wouldn’t burn as brightly. But protect your light. And when you need to, grab a broom and sweep up what’s been shattered. It’s okay for life to be messy. It’s a beautiful mess. Plug in again. It’s how you heal old wounds. And it’s how the world gets healed over time.
Aim your face and your heart at the sun, it’s the brightest bulb we have. And it’s a renewable source of energy. Just like you are renewable, every single moment.
This is one of the keys to living in the world.
And speaking of living in the world…here is the documentary from my stay one year ago at Drop Out on Orcas, an transformative writer’s residency. I spent 5 days in a beautiful house in the woods without cell or Internet working on the sequel to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship. Spoiler alert: I take you to the place where the culminating scene in the novel occurs and I also create (and act out) scenes in the woods on the spot for the sequel.
I did a whole lot of healing in this magical place. I hope you enjoy it! Please share with friends!
Deep gratitude goes to the poet and visionary founder of Drop Out on Orcas, Jennifer Brennock, for this life-changing experience.
Bottom line: The Kindle version of The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship will be $8 and you can order a signed copy from me for $8 (plus discounted $2 shipping in the U.S.)
**If you’re new to my book, check out this article in The Huffington Post. Or listen to the first few chapters here and here. I also have a recent radio interview here and here. (Skip the first two minutes to get to the conversation.)**
Please share this with someone who may enjoy the book!
Here are the details:
In the video below I:
1. Take you on a walk through the field above on my favorite trail by the Pacific Ocean;
2. Lean against a gorgeous tree and almost fall down, and offer my trademark snort;
3. And talk about our different roles in life and how to create the best environment to do what’s most important to you.
In that video, I promised you a nature video and that can be viewed here and below:
In other very exciting news, I finished the rough cut of my documentary from my stay at Drop Out on Orcas writer’s retreat! If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to write a book alone in the woods without cell or Internet, this film takes you through some very intimate moments of one of the most transformative experiences of my life. It even includes exciting preview scenes from the sequel to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderon. Here’s the trailer:
If you want to be the first to see the rough cut, sign up for my newsletter at RebeccaVillarreal.com which will be coming soon! (I’ll only send out about 4-6 newsletters per year.)
In my video at the top of this post, I mentioned the short time management TED talk. It’s called “How to Gain Control of Your Free Time”. You can view it here:
Also, if you’re looking for a refresh on your approach to planning, I’m really enjoying the Panda Planner, which you can find here. You can start the planner at any point in the year. There’s a discount code you can use PANDAFAM at checkout for 10% off. (I don’t receive anything for sharing this–I just believe in the product!) You can learn more about the making of the planner (after its founder had a traumatic brain injury, he really went back to basics) in his welcome video.
Thank you for cheering me on and supporting me in so many ways. Remember your magic, every day. Cucalacas!
Have a great rest of your day!
Surprise! I did a quick video with some reflections in case you’re having a tough week. It includes one of my favorite recent moments in my life (4 seconds), some herons I saw tonight (!) and thoughts on coping with living in the world. View the video here or below:
Hello Beautiful People!
It’s such a thrill to share the recording from my recent fun and inspiring interview on KCSB 91.9 FM with LP on her Writers Almanac West program. If you didn’t get a chance to listen, and you want a dose of inspiration and a break from the negative news cycle, click here to listen on Soundcloud and here to listen on Podmatic. Both are downloadable! (Note: Jump to the 2 minute mark to skip the intro reading of Paul Simon’s Sound of Silence.)
We talked about all of my favorite things: food, poetry (I read a new poem at the end!), my novel, The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón and the plans for the sequel. We also talk about staying in love, faith and hope for all humanity. If you find yourself curious about the many resources and books I mention during the show, I’ve added links to just about every topic mentioned at the bottom of this post.
In the video, I mention a luxurious time binge-reading the poet Mary Oliver, at my friend’s house. Here’s a poem I wrote about that experience:
On Reading Mary Oliver in Bed
I eat your poems
between bites of fig-filled cakes
or are they cookies?
forgetting to chew
because your words make me hungrier
for solace and weeping
and querying the soul
the chicory and hot milk
burn my throat
but I can’t stop devouring line
fearful my gluttony
will spill on the white down comfortor
of my momentary retreat
how do you take a Sunday morning and make it urgent?
Volumes One and Two
again I want to be haunted by
all the space
on the page
your succinct seventy-seven year old
plunge into Cobb Creek
and your truth-telling of a girl raging
in dark corners
or the soul stolen from the blue Iris
I must go now,
for this pen is distracting
from my voracious consumption
For those of you interested in writing or any other seemingly dreamy, yet filled with reality, kind of pursuit, this interview with the writer Cheryl Strayed was very inspiring to me. She’s so honest about the fact that she doesn’t write every day and also about her struggles with money. I have watched or listened to it at least 7 ½ times.
Links I mentioned in the Writer’s Almanac West radio interview
My website for The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship is rebeccavillarreal.com. We have a page with links from the topics in the book and an area where you can sign up to receive the free Tribe and Family Book Club Guide via email. The book is available via Teaching For Change (they get 5% of net profits), Amazon, Independent Book Stores, iTunes and Barnes and Noble.
The Slow Food movement can be found here.
Those fish-shaped crackers and why they are not great to eat–more info can be found here. What I mentioned about the way wheat is treated with pesticides in the U.S. is covered here. And there’s more from Robyn O’Brien about the 2.6 Billion pounds of Monsanto’s Glysophate (which is linked to Cancer) sprayed on American farmlands.
One of my chosen teachers is the Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. The first book I was every exposed to by him is Living Buddha, Living Christ. I reference a number of his other books in “aisle 4” of this previous blog post.
Here’s the post where I did a round-up of all of my recorded meditations.
I mention my connection to Jennifer Lee’s Right-Brainers in Business and an interview she did with SARK. We talked about creating inner characters to help deal with uncomfortable emotions. Here’s a post I did about Matilda, one of my characters and another about My Noisy Neighbor, Fear.
Well, my friends, that’s a wrap! I hope you’ve enjoyed hanging out with me. I’m sending you love and some delicious food and time in nature for this week! Nourish yourself, you deserve it!
A poem inspired by Mary Oliver
For the 1 minute and 20 second video to accompany this poem, click here.
There are birdfights
compound like doghouse, lunchbox
these are cacophony crows
chasing the hawk onto a solitary branch
their shouting disturbs
the starling chorus arranged
whole and half notes
with a careful (or careless?) treble
so they escape
in an orb of black flutters
to a nearby tree
like old time operators
plugging in the chords
MaBell as she was
didn’t know the birds
still find her ancient ways convenient
they’ve rearranged now
back into their scores
except for the ravens’ caw
this is the medicine
a new order back again
Hello Beautiful Readers!
Please join me and tune in to KCSB 91.9 FM on the radio or online from anywhere in the world!
I’m honored to be on Lynelle Paulick’s show, Writer’s Almanac West. Thank you for supporting me so faithfully by reading, reviewing and sharing The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship. It’s been a spectacular journey so far and Book 2 is going to blow your mind! I’m working on it and we’re going to Morocco, Italy, California and the story twists and turns are more than you can imagine!
Here are the details:
WHAT: Rebecca Villarreal on Writer’s Almanac West Radio Show talking about Selma Books 1 and progress on Book 2; I’ll read a poem never shared publicly and we will be discussing writing, food and one of my favorite topics: how to thrive in the world–you know there will be some magic woven in there too!
DATE: Saturday, February 25
TIME: 10am ET, 9am CT, 8am MT and 7am PT
Click here for a nifty timezone converter to calculate the time of the show anywhere in the world.
WHERE: Online by clicking here or if you’re near Santa Barbara, CA, tune into KCSB 91.9 FM.
If you’re new to my work, check out my website: http://rebeccavillarreal.com
Read The Huffington Post article here.
There’s a fun video interview here.
I’m looking forward to hanging out together this Saturday! Please share with your friends. You’ll walk away feeling loved and inspired to pursue your own dreams.
Now more than ever, we need hope. Buckets of it. It starts with your heart. This is me, knocking on the door of your heart, arms outstretched with your very own overflowing bucket.
One of the first things you’ll see spill out of it, is the video below. I’ve been thinking about what makes us a better version of us. When I do certain things, like connect with nature, write, meditate and play, I feel better. I AM better. Because I’m connected to what nourishes me.
What makes you a better version of you? I’ve been thinking a lot about this. Here are some ideas from me and from friends and readers. You can view the video here.
I promised to share a mix of meditations so here they are:
From my heart to yours
From Wonders Wellness
Kuan Yin Course: I took this course from Lynn Louise Wonders. It basically consists of an e-book which you can download onto your phone or print out. I read one short meditation every day for 108 days as soon as I woke and then just stayed in bed and let it sink in. It was a transformative experience in compassion. People actually noted my increased calm. Just writing this to you makes me realize that I think I may want to do it again. Lynn Louise has made it available on a donation basis. So you can decide what to pay if you’re interested.
From the book The Four Desires, by Rod Stryker
Most of these meditations are around 20-25 minutes.
The Creation Equation from Stryker
One final nugget of hope before I go. The Creation Equation: when your desire outweighs the resistance to your desire, it impacts the outcome. Simple, I know. But when you are trying to make those habits that nourish you, a part of your regular life, it’s great to ask, what’s the resistance here? Sometimes you’ll find out why or even create a name for it. Like I did in this post–mine is Matilda. I made a 4 1/2 minute video for you on my run about The Creation Equation or Formula:
Thanks for joining me in hoping. Our joy is the best way to carry compassion and love forward. You can find your happy even amidst the sad. You can pulse out light in the darkest of night. You are full of all that is beautiful. I can see it. Can you?
My aunt Peggy used to say, “Are you a ghost?” every time one of us stood in front of the big wooden television at my Pop Pop’s house. And then she’d say, “because I can’t see through you.”
And now my nine-year-old says it to me.
It’s got me thinking about all the things we pass down, like Aunt Peggy’s sweet potato recipe.*
For my readers who want the bottom line(s), I include great books throughout this post as well as the following:
I. LIFE PURPOSE
Whether you have children or not, do you think about what you want to pass on to others? Prized family recipes? Modeling kindness? How about living your best life possible? How about demonstrating how to dream and DO?
Recently, one of the people I love most in the world spent his birthday thanking me for all that I’ve been for him. He gave me a gift: it was a belief that in choosing my happiness, I was showing him how to do the same. This is in sharp contrast to the pangs of guilt I felt in the past over creating this happy life. And also, with the way I’ve worked hard at it (in the face of some internal and external demons), I embodied possibility. That’s helping him hold on to some of his dreams.
So in the video below, I’m showing up. I’m sharing a dream I have…related to staying in beautiful Italy! There’s a backstory to how I got there in my post on the book, The Four Desires. Author Rod Stryker provides an overview of the book here and which includes a short meditation at the end.
I’m reading Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead by Tara Mohr which is a game-changer for me. And I also started Steven Cope’s The Great Work of Your Life which breaks down the Bhagavad Gita (a 2,000 year old spiritual text) while illuminating the stories of regular people and famous ones like Harriet Tubman, Mohandas Ghandi, Henry David Thoreau and Jane Goodall. These authors offer different views of the same story: what do you want to do with this life? It doesn’t have to involve things that are so big that you have to risk it all. All three books help illuminate how to suss out the small and big steps to stay connected to what truly lights you up.
Truth-telling moment: It has taken me a month to share this video because I’ve been too scared of my own dream. I’ve hesitated and hemmed and hawed and discussed with friends. I’ve experienced self-doubt. I’ve quite simply been afraid. But I learned in Playing Big that there are two biblical Hebrew words for fear according to Rabbi Alan Lew: Pachad and Yirah. (I love sharing this on the first night of Hanukkah!)
II. TWO KINDS OF FEAR
Here’s an excerpt from an article by Mohr explaining the difference between the two types of fear titled, “What You Need to Know About Fear” explaining the difference:
Pachad is “projected or imagined fear,” the “fear whose objects are imagined.” In contemporary terms, that is what we might think of as overreactive, irrational, lizard-brain fear: the fear of horrible rejection that will destroy us or the fear that we will simply combust if we step out of our comfort zones.
There is a second Hebrew word for fear, yirah. Rabbi Lew describes yirah as “the fear that overcomes us when we suddenly find ourselves in possession of considerably more energy than we are used to, inhabiting a larger space than we are used to inhabiting.” It is also the feeling we feel when we are on sacred ground.
If you’ve felt a calling in your heart, or uncovered an authentic dream for your life, or felt a mysterious sense of inner inspiration around a project or idea, you recognize this description.
We often conflate or confuse the two types of fear and simply call what we are experiencing “fear.” But we can discern them more closely, and in doing so, more effectively manage fear so it doesn’t get in our way.
III. THE SEQUEL
How I’m Geeking Out over the Sequel to The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón
So guess what!?! I’m practicing my Italian with the Duo Lingo app for free. I’ve told everyone I know that we’re planning a trip to Italy. As a result, I’ve studied the fascinating Slow Food movement which began in Rome. You can read about how the movement started and “How Grandma’s Pasta Changed the World” here. Yesterday while buying some gorgeous bread (the sliced one) and these delicious oranges from our local Farm Cart Organics, Jason told me all about Italy’s amazing organic farming techniques. And I started researching agroturismo in Italy (tourism on farms where you learn, work and eat fresh food.) And this morning at 6:10am, I finally figured out why Selma is going to Italy. It’s connected to what I’ve been uncovering about Slow Food Presidium foods like the pearl white corn at Ca’ de Memi.
IV. THE TINY MESS
Oh and from the Farm Cart’s Instagram Account, I also found out about this amazing cookbook called The Tiny Mess. I can’t wait to get mine! These local adventurers have traveled up and down the west coast of the U.S. cooking and visiting with people living in small spaces like campers with tiny kitchens making delicious fresh and gorgeous food. And the photography is breathtaking! There’s only four days left to support their Kickstarter account and get yours. Check out their Intsagram pics and this video — they will strum at your hungry heartstrings!
A big giant THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me through another year of sharing my novel with the world. As I mentioned in the video, if you feel so moved, please help spread the word about The Amazing Adventures of Selma Calderón: A Globetrotting Magical Mystery of Courage, Food & Friendship.
Many of you have already done me the favor of telling two friends how you’ve enjoyed the book. Or maybe you’ll get a chance to read it over the holidays and share it on social media. Here’s a handy short link: http://bit.ly/BuySelma
And check out this cool graphic we used in the Chicago Latino Network’s newsletter:
There are a bunch of 5-star reviews here. The Huffington Post article is here.If you want to share more about the book, here’s the link to my website and includes links to all the different ways folks can buy it. Also, 5% of net proceeds go to Teaching For Change. And if you’re looking for inspiration and with a nice dose of vulnerability, here’s the video interview I did with yogini Carrie Hensley last year.
My novel is also on page 11 of Lindsay Pera’s Mystic Gift Guide in case you’re looking for some cool gifts for some of the magical folks in your life. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to order signed copies for $12 each plus shipping.
V. THE MIRACLE ANGLE
Well, I’ve taken you through life purpose, fear, food, magic and my own dreams of taking Selma and my family to Italy. What’s left on Christmas Eve and the first night of the Festival of Lights? I’d say: A Miracle! The Miracle Angle links back to The Four Desires.
In the article titled, “Let Go and Find Your Miracle Angle,” Stryker shares an overview of this concept which is highlighted in the book:
History is full of remarkable individuals who — although they endured extremely hurtful and potentially debilitating things like the loss of loved ones, war, prejudice, abuse, disease and severe poverty — did not allow circumstance to prevent them from living inspiring and even extraordinary lives. The lives of Anne Frank, Victor Frankel, and Nelson Mandela, for example, remind us that we are each capable of creating productive and even glorious lives despite having to live through dire events.
Everyone who has ever overcome hardship or adversity has done so in large part because he or she has chosen, consciously or unconsciously, to “let go” of their past hardship and pain by embracing, what I call, a Miracle Angle — a way of seeing their circumstances that allowed them to transform their circumstances into a spark for positive change.
How is this possible? How, for example, was Nelson Mandela able to transcend apartheid and three decades of imprisonment when some of us struggle to forgive someone who cut us off in traffic?
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I have shared personal challenges whether from childhood, or facing postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome or my most recent (as Brené Brown calls it) breakdown/breakthrough. What you know is that I believe that with faith (in yourself, in God, in any approach that fits you) + action, you can live an amazing life. What you may not know, is that when one of my loved ones had three consecutive operations, we had people all over praying for us. One group of prayer warriors based in Alabama have always had my back. And I, in turn, have always offered up my prayers for those in need–most of whom I do not know. Well, let me introduce you to Jaxon, who in January will be 3 years old. It was touch and go when Jaxon was born. I do know his grandmother. Just imagine a premature baby with all of the requisite tubes and the fear of the unknown. I’m sharing his picture as a big ray of hope to serve as a visual anchor. When you are swimming in doubt, depression, despair or a simple sadness, think of little Jaxon. We all had faith that he could make it. And I’d dare say his parents and grandparents learned a lot about how to turn those terrible moments into gifts, that’s the Miracle Angle.
Because just like my obstacles have helped me to anticipate and scenario plan–like figuring out the logistics of how to move my family to California, how to project plan at my job and how to chunk out this enormously long blog post, your struggles can be the source of your greatest gifts including the compassion and joy of living in this very moment.
Thank you, my dear amazing open-hearted readers for reading and listening and believing in me!*
I believe in you.
With peace, big-hearted love and Aunt Peggy’s sweet potatoes**,
*This post is dedicated to my Selma readers and to Carrie Hensley and the members of my Sacred Sangha for believing in me every single day.
**Aunt Peggy’s Sweet Potatoes Recipe: Boil, then peel sweet potatoes. Use an electric mixer and add a stick of butter, orange juice, brown sugar and cinnamon, then bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the top is browned. The top of course is covered in globs of butter and brown sugar.
by Rebecca Villarreal
You can listen to this poem here.
I sit giggling over Scotland’s raucous artistry
a Mariachi band
welcomes producer and pound-maker
soon I’ll be in the air again
grateful for the Artha:
yet puzzled by the muzzle
how did a poet of protest
inching down the corporate ladder
become bound by balance in a world
beaten by turbulence?
Afghanistan’s first female rapper
ten men draw blood
forced to flee, returns too late
to save her cousins, six and eleven
choosing escape by fire
over one more day
married to sex-to-generians
Snow mounts on the ghost of the Dakota pipeline
where victory is a creamsicle, sweet and temporary
for the knowing is in Terra Madre
our Mother marvels
at the billionaires scurrying to dig and dig
in the face of sun and wind
through the lobbies on that swampy hill
Our crops unrecognizable
bees buried in South Carolina sands
bottled water in Flint
your Thanksgiving green beans may come with contaminants
how now?, said the oncologist
Or was it Joseph Campbell’s axis mundi?
the immovable spot where we sit small enough to make room for the whole world?
Thoreau ate homemade cookies on Walden Pond
with Civil Disobedience pouring from his pen
the eyes and hearts of Gandhi, Mandela,
Martin Luther King, Jr.
poured over those declarations
written a mile and a half from home
What shall we do now?
Stay silent in the face of spittle flying from the three-ring?
Speak love into the stands.
Spill popcorn, get sticky with the pink of cotton candy.
This is the circus,
only we’re in it.
What’s the act?
Blindfolded and shot from a canon?
Or eyes wide open, these hands hold light
let us know the taste of victory
keep loving thy broken neighbors
choosing between medicine and mashed potatoes
phantom paychecks shrouded in hungry nightmares
that’s what made the rhetoric real
despite the tawdry truth buried in the green hills
buttressed by maples grade A and B
This time let’s skip the swipe
reach for a hand and see what’s underneath
a lost mother
a father broken by the bread not won
the child in every human
hoping for a moment to sit by the pond
one jewel in the web
reflecting all the others
for that will loosen the grip
of flapping lips
off with your shoes and socks
come sit beside me
dip your toes in the water
and find home in the palm of my hand.
Today is Human Rights day as well. Find out more here.
Healthy food and full bellies are a human right. Freedom to BE is a human right. If people are nourished and loved and treated as humans, we can attain peace.