The Fortune of Generations

When I first began compiling these stories on napkins and random pieces of paper during my summers growing up in India, I had no idea what I was creating. All I knew was they needed to be captured and remembered for the future. What I didn't realize was that these stories were in the process of changing my life. 

Have you ever had a loved one pass away? Have you ever wanted to know their story or someone else's, dead or alive? 

If you have, it's not too late to know and if you think you would like to share your life's story, it is not too late either. I truly, truly believe there is a wisdom in the lives of those who have passed before us. There are all these humbling experiences and stories, things that have already been figured out, that I believe are not being shared with the present and future generations enough. 

With the luxuries of modern society, there isn't anything we really can't have these days. However, with this, comes a great deal of heart ache as we are all searching for some sort of purpose in our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. 

What I believe is that this purpose, comes from 1) deep within ourselves and 2) most importantly, each other. Despite their hardships, there was a wisdom to the way they lived together, in tribe, in community. This is the story I am setting out to write, told through the narrative of my parents and the generations who came before them. 

Check out the latest excerpt of The Book of Generations (aka the book that has yet to be properly given a name): A Heart of Gold, a brief story of my grandmother's life. 

I hope you check it out. I am just getting started.

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What Breaks Your Heart?

A reading from Awakin.org that I couldn't not repost:

What Breaks Your Heart? by Maria Shriver

What breaks your heart? What does your soul long for? And, how is that connected to how you are living your life now?

I love this question because it’s made me think about my passion and purpose in a whole new way. I wanted to share it with you today because I believe this is a question that applies to all of us. And, I also believe that the answer lies deep within each and every one of us.

I deeply believe that each of us is here to move humanity forward. I deeply believe that each and every one of us longs to be of service to others, and also to live our lives in a way that matters.

“What breaks your heart?” is about the best question I’ve ever heard to help you get closer to your soul’s longing and closer to your life’s passion and purpose. But, I think before you can even answer that question, you must first acknowledge that your heart is broken, or has been broken.

I think we often think heartbreak is the result of lost love. Of course, it can be, but heartbreak also happens when what you value isn’t valued by society, by your community, or by others.

For example, what broke my mother’s heart was the way that society treated those with intellectual disabilities, and so she created the Special Olympics. One of the things that broke my father’s heart was poverty — financial poverty and spiritual poverty — and so he created the War on Poverty. My daughter’s heart breaks when animals are abused and left by the side of the road, and so she wrote a book about it, "Maverick and Me." My other daughter’s heart breaks when she witnesses how indifferent and insensitive people are to those struggling with mental health, and so she writes articles that promote understanding of these issues. And so it goes…

There are several things that break my heart today. It’s broken by the fact that we still don’t have a cure for Alzheimer’s. It’s broken by the injustice so many work so hard, yet still live paycheck to paycheck. It’s broken by the state of our criminal justice system. It's broken listening to women speak out against the abuse they endured for far too long.

But, what really breaks my heart right now is how divided we are. How mean we are to one another. How critical we are of one another. How judgmental we are of each other and how angry we are at each other. Also, how lonely we all seem to be.

Yet, what moves me is the deep belief that we are all longing for the same things. We are all longing to be accepted, to be seen and understood, and to be invited into the space that unites us.

This space, I believe, is a big open field filled with dreamers and explorers. It’s filled with teachers and doctors, with mothers and fathers, and with the young and the old.

What breaks my heart is also what simultaneously fills and fuels my heart. It is a deep belief that we are more alike than we are different. It is the belief that we long to be more united than separate. It is the belief that we ache and break and want to put the pieces back together again, and that we want to do it together.

I’m not saying the anger that many of us feel today is not justified. But, let’s parlay our anger into action and allow it to fuel our purpose. I envision all of us with broken hearts coming together to heal and get to work, mending the crack in our divide. 

This is what breaks my heart, but what breaks yours? I’d love to know. 

 

What do you want to be remembered for?

Back in April, before I left India, a friend shared an interview about a man named John Malloy. There are few words in my vocabulary that I can think to describe the essence of who John Malloy is. We spent only a day together, but I was profoundly impacted by our day together. I spent the day with him in Santa Clara where he hosted three circles, two of which occur regularly each Tuesday when the school year begins.

I was fortunate to be there at the beginning of the school year. Our first circle, a young men’s circle was the first of the day and within the first circle, I could feel the fullness of the silence in the room. I can only imagine what the circle will feel like at the end of the school year.

In the last circle, a parent support group, I found myself with about 8 other individuals, many of which John has known for years, maybe even decades. Through the three hours, John asked a couple of questions and the one which struck a chord the most was What do you want to be remembered for?

It isn’t a question I’ve never thought about. Earlier this year my friend told my about a eulogy exercise she once did during a retreat. In this exercise you write about the three things you would like someone to say about you at your funeral.

I got me thinking so I sat down with my journal and began writing things down.

It’s a little morbid, but it puts the different parts of your life into perspective. I thought about the things my parents would say, my sisters, and some close friends. I thought about the generic stuff and the stuff that only people close to me knew. My parents know me more than anyone in the world, but I couldn’t really think about they would say exactly.

It was hard getting through the exercise without full out sobbing, especially when you imagine each and every person you love standing up there to talk about you.

I think the point of writing this is because I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the work that I want to accomplish in my life. I’ve thought a lot about how I want to touch lives, just as millions of others have thought about. I’ve felt the emptiness of the things that are sometimes perceived as equating to happiness and felt the fullness of tiny things that are often overlooked.

The heaviness and confusion of life can sometimes take a toll. It can also lead us to a darker place. I’ve been there once before and in retrospect I understand why I got there. I stopped being grateful and I don’t mean the grateful where we say thank you for the things we receive. I mean the amount of gratitude we hold for everything and everyone in our lives, big or small.

Sometimes there are days like today where I forget to be grateful and feel overburdened by my to do list. Just this morning, I felt the words “I don’t have time” entering my mind and immediately caught myself. The toxicity of those words have the power of turning simple tasks for the benefit of oneself or for a loved one into an excuse.

As we dive into the thick of our busy lives, “I don’t have time” begins to pour relationships and the things that are best for us. Looking at our eulogy exercise, making the time for those things or people may be the only things that really matter. 

 

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The Little Pill & Listening to Our Bodies

We often hear that contraception, especially birth control, frees us and gives us control of our bodies again. What if we are actually constraining ourselves? I think we have yet to become active participants rather than bystanders in regards to what we are putting into our bodies. Birth control, which we may see as a right and “freeing" also does a lot more to our bodies than what we are aware of.

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