Last week I heard the downtown bike shop I adore is closing. Rent shot way up and the owner just can’t make it work.
For a moment, I felt the pinch of upset, disappointed to live in a society that doesn’t adequately support locally owned, independent business. Doesn’t it matter to us that those are the businesses that direct our tax dollars to improve schools, parks, roads and public safety?
About 30 seconds after hearing the news, I asked myself the question, How is this perfect?, the most powerful question I’m aware of these days. Another way to ask the question, which makes it easier to answer for some people, is What is the gift here?
The answer was clear. I immediately felt peace.
I thought of the shop owner, Ron, an upbeat man who is generous with his time and honest with his approach. He’s not a robot trained by a corporate industry based thousands of miles away; he is a father, an avid cyclist, a member of our community who promotes healthy transportation by bike.
I wondered what he would do next for work and planned to go into the shop to express my condolences and offer support for his next endeavor.
Suddenly I saw a cycle (no pun intended), a pattern unfolding.
I realized that I could empathize with him as a small business owner, deepening a connection with a treasured community member as he was moving through a difficult experience. Then I imagined that I could tell him about my services as a memoirist. Simply having one more kind, vibrant person aware of my memoir offerings made me feel more alive.
I imagined all of Ron’s other adoring customers extending their compassion and support. This initially bad news actually ended up strengthening our community, as we leaned in to support each other.
Everything is contagious; it’s all energy. Goodness feeds goodness.
By simply asking myself the question, How is this perfect?, I invited myself to see the cycle of life and its perfect order, unpredictable, beyond the realms of rationale and control, silver-lined with beauty…
We can all see this when we choose to see through Love’s eyes.
Life’s perfection appeared. As I hiked up the hill, my consciousness was able to see it.
We need each other.
We need each other because we are each other.
Within minutes, my initial disappointment transformed into an expression of deep inner peace, as I accepted that this moment of upset was actually an invitation, an opportunity. Fear is an invitation to feel more Love — inviting humans to surrender to the fact that we need each other.
Your moments of upset can lead you to peace, too.
In our society, we are resistant to ask for help. This only hurts us. I’ve learned this through mothering and also “the hard way” — a massive brain tumor. May those who seek to learn big things without having to go through horrendous, life-threatening pain, embrace the fact that we need each other.
Humble down before extreme pain needs to walk through your front door to teach you. Ask for help; let your relationships bloom through this simple gesture of interbeing. Intimacy isn’t easy but it is one of life’s delicacies, inexplicably worthwhile.
For a system to heal, its parts must connect with each other. Nations, oceans, human beings. For humans, disappointment and upset are invitations to reach out, connect, and grow closer to others.
Essentially, we are not separate from each other or God. We need each other because we are each other.
And guess what? A week after I posted this, I went into Ron's shop and he told me the landlord set the rent raise more reasonably, and he's staying. What a win!
Since summer, I’ve been overwhelmed. Moving through life as a single mother, stabilizing my financial landscape after a treacherous decade leading my family through nine moves, a divorce and brain surgery, all the while feeling brilliant ideas stream through me like a waterfall during a storm…
Intensity, to put it mildly.
Too many things to do. Too much, too much, too much. Overwhelm. I ask, How can I escape this battle happening inside of me…
I wonder where simplicity lives. My body reminds me that days are better when we start off with a hike.
Morning comes. I hike up steep hills, letting my thighs revel in the blood that moves through them, letting my eyes be massaged by the grace of morning light on rolling hills.
I feel relieved, then the storm comes again. I empathize with suicide. It’s not for me in this life, yet I feel like I get it. This human thing is literally insane. And it’s not just the war in Israel and Palestine--
It’s the war inside each one of us, including me and you.
So again, I hike. I watch the fog lay God’s breath along the curves of Mama’s body. I see serenity. I keep climbing. My heart rate stabilizes. I feel calmer.
I see other people walking up the hills and I imagine they are doing the same work. Feeling overwhelmed, wondering where peace really lives.
A flock of small birds lands to rest atop an untrimmed oak tree. They seem to have answers. They rest. They choose peace. Not tomorrow, not overseas, but here in this moment. The only one there is.
Oops. It hits me for the 10,000th time. I forgot that Now is the only moment.
I forgot that the only place I can be is here, and I can only do one thing at a time.
I remember the sticker on my bicycle that I’ve had for 20 years: Begin within.
I remember wise ones saying, “Peace begins within.”
This morning, a friend called from Vermont and shared about how her meditation practice is reminding her that the way she does anything is the way she does everything — that every single choice she makes has a ripple effect into the vastness of everything.
And so as I climb this hill, admiring fog, I remind myself that peace begins with me.
If I don’t want war overseas, I need to calm the war within.
May these words invite you to join me.
P. S. I’m taking a leap! After all, we live in an economy.
“Great writing is valuable and deserves to be rewarded with money,” wrote Substack.
Not everyone enjoys my writing; all art is for some, not for all. Many of you have shared gorgeous words about how my writing serves you. Thank you.
Last week, I turned up the volume in response to the passion streaming through me. Every single day, I get pierced as a “channel for Love” with writing titles and topics that want to be shared as gestures of Love for humanity.
To support myself, I am now inviting readers to become paid subscribers — $8/month, $80/year or, you can join as a Founding Member of this “launch” moment, and pitch in more to help me leap from solid ground.
I’ll continue to share all my writing every month with all subscribers. Being a paid subscriber helps to encourage me and support me, my children and my vision for a Love-based world.
For today, that’s a wrap — in a fog-kissed, gluten free tortilla, of course.
This morning, a friend texted me asking for a hug. “My aunt Beverly just died,” she wrote. Moments later she walked through my door and cried in my arms.
You know that people die. Your body will die. Your dearest loved ones’ bodies will die, too. And since we aren’t our bodies — we are spiritual beings having a human experience — this isn’t “bad” news.
Yet we experience ourselves in and as our bodies, with lungs that breathe and relations rooted in the physical world, and so — it hurts.
Hearts break when someone dies. Waves of grief press up against our chest. Grief takes time to pass through us, carving deeper canyons of empathy into our heart.
When Jerry Garcia died, I was on the island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean. I heard the news and ran up a hill, sobbing about Jerry, singing My Sisters and Brothers. “So let’s walk together little children, we don’t ever have to worry, through this world of trouble, we’ve got to… love one another…”
My heart broke because I loved him; his music helped me feel more Love.
When Prince died, I put on my purple raincoat and danced all night, crying in between squeals of ecstasy about how good it felt to still be alive, dancing.
My heart broke because I loved him; his music helped me feel more Love.
“Life is short” is often said, but really, Life is now.
Only now. And now, and now.
During the pandemic, we got to see how afraid we are of dying. Someone close to us dies and we are in shock, as if we didn’t really understand that … people die.
It is one thing to know this.
It’s a whole different thing to actually lose a loved one.
With children, we openly show Love. They’re so delightful, it’s hard to hold back. Yet with elders, somehow we’ve lost touch with our capacity to extend presence and playfulness, instead tossing them aside to spend their later years lonely and forgotten.
This is NOT OK. 💔
That’s why I write memoirs.
Yesterday I got an email from my first client, an 87-year-old woman in San Diego. She expressed thanks for the deeply moving experience of having her memoir written, and how beautiful it has been for her to share it with others.
This is why I do it. The actual book is wonderful, and yet the the real, immeasurable beauty of the memoirs is the whole experience of creating closer bonds with loved ones at the later stage of someone’s Life. When I started writing memoirs in 2016, I knew it would be really special, but I couldn’t see the awe I’d feel until now.
Don’t wait until your beloved parent or grandparent dies, to honor them by telling their stories. Put in the time now to celebrate, in writing, their precious life. Sit with them while they're alive, ask them gorgeous questions that show them you’re not tossing them aside — you treasure them. Record your conversation and write it down.
Even a simple process and a simple printed document is better than nothing.
Don’t have the time? Hire me to do it. You can reach me at letsleanintolight@gmail (dot-com).
Life is only Now.
Now 2.5 years on the other side of food and sugar addiction, I feel free.
Our outsourcings — the word I prefer for ‘addiction’ — are coping mechanisms for trauma. I cannot count the number of times I hid in my room or my car, alone, eating ice cream. My body will forever carry signs of that abuse I inflicted on her, when I just wasn’t ready for freedom.
Ultimately all outsourcing is our unreadiness to accept the divine within us. Our Oneness with God. Communion with Spirit is the only solution for pain — it is the glow of Love inside us. And it’s always available… isn’t that amazing!?!
Choosing freedom over shame doesn’t make us more lovable; it just makes us feel more free.
Guilt was one of the energetic causes of my massive brain tumor. Since the tumor — who I named Fidela, as she was a friend who came to help me choose freedom — was removed in February 2021, I’ve only gone to “guilt land” with my eating choices a handful of times.
That’s OK. No shame; I’m in the human experience.
What’s here now is pleasure.
As I bite into a fig or a masterfully baked pastry, we commune — essentially, we are in Love. Mindful, savoring, joyously intaking their texture and taste, I feel enlivened here. Guilt and freedom are very different human landscapes.
One day after school, my 9-year-old daughter sat in the passenger seat and asked, “Mama, is it true that the future isn’t real?”
My heart thumped with intensity as she left me feeling speechless for the 10,000th time.
Where does she hear these things? I often wonder.
“You ask the most amazing questions,” I answered, letting my chest become softened by her depth.
I spoke the words my heart offered, trusting it would all somehow make sense to her. “Yes, my sweet girl, it’s true.”
I told her that we think about the future as something real, but it’s actually just an idea that leads us to another moment of now. I wondered if someone had told me these things when I was a child. Or maybe I first encountered these thoughts in college while reading Ram Dass’ Be Here Now.
“All we have is now, my love.” She listened intently as I aimed to speak with brevity rather than waterfalling her with a downpour of passionate Mama philosophy.
Then, perhaps unsurprisingly to my readers, I ventured down the Love Sermon path. It is, after all, my religion.
On I went, waterfalling. “And in this moment of now — the only time there is — we only have one choice.”
She gazed at me with her hazel eyes calmed by our loving exchange and asked, “What do you mean?”
“Love or fear. That’s the only choice. We can choose to extend the Love that we are — because in that moment we remember that Love is who we are — or we can reach out for Love in fear, because we forgot that Love is who we are,” I told her in my typical Love Evangelist way. She was used to it by now and she quickly absorbed what she felt, hearing these words.
In the week that followed, I noticed how our conversation sweetened my life. When I felt annoyed by somebody honking at me when I was clearly following the rules of the road, I didn’t react from upset. Instead, my heart felt compassion for this man, living in the speed and gruel of a hurried society, which might have led him to behave this way.
Was he calling for Love? I made up that he was. It’s all a dream and it’s all made up, this story we now write, called Life. So as he drove by me in haste, I blew him and his wife a kiss. Alright I’ll admit, the air-kiss was topped with a smidge of snark.
I am grateful for the moments when I choose Love. I am also grateful, however unpleasant they usually are, for the moments when I choose to react based in fear. These motivate me to, next time, choose Love instead.
It just feels better.
Love feels better.
And right now.
The only time there is…
I am grateful for my daughter. Children are the original gurus. Thank goodness, we all have a child inside.
This morning, the soft voice of my waking state whispered a message it has shared 10,000 times: “Write to God.”
“With pen and paper, sit in the predawn silence and write to God. Letters of human grappling, letters asking why and when, Love letters that help you see and feel your only Source.”
More often than I’d like to admit, I hear this voice and instead check email or refresh my to-do list while my tea steeps. My left brain takes over since, after all, I told it that it was most important at the very first start of my day. This Voice for God — for Love, for Light — slips softly into the background and its message dims…
…until the dark stillness of predawn is here again.
Today, I listened.
What does your higher self tell you over and over again?
In those first moments of waking, does it ask you to pray?
I just spent a week in La Ventana, a little desert town near Mexico’s tip of Baja California Sur. Matt Cone, my boyfriend’s close friend of 20+ years, lives there to kitesurf in winter when the winds are strong. As he said in his 2016 TEDx talk on Abundance, “Abundance is a state of mind.” Every morning at 5:30, he goes to his meditation hut for a 2-hour — we could say abundant — meditation sit.
he listens more…
I don’t know what Matt hears when he sits and listens, when he chooses to come together with the divine awareness within his being. But I do know that people feel the presence of this devotion when we interact with him. Unlike normal conversations in our society, where conversations are often shallow and superficial, every interaction with Matt has power in it.
When I choose to commune with the divine voice within, I feel more alive and radiant, and the experiences that follow feel far more worthwhile.
Aren’t we all meant to do this one thing?
To begin our days with an act of devotion expressing our desire to remember oneness?
To acknowledge that although we are living in separate bodies — with the stress and sickness of society constantly pressing at our backs to try and keep us down — we are not separate from each other and the divine?
It comes down to this:
It is a choice.
My post-NDE glow has dimmed a bit now that two years have passed. I still feel the Light inside more than ever before, and… I am in the human experience. It is made of ebbs and flows. As I greet my current human bumps — feeling a desire for this and that and wondering when they will appear — a voice inside keeps gently whispering:
What is God?
I keep asking the All: Show me God.
And I listen. Sometimes.
When I do, I hear and see:
God is everywhere.
God does not exist inside any sole religious or spiritual path. God is everywhere because God is Love, and Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It is universal. Christian, Buddhist, Hare Krishna, Taoist… it is all of ours. This has always been a clear feeling inside my heart.
When I turn my attention away from Source, eventually, I am guided back — often through the gift-in-disguise called pain — because nothing else is ever as satisfying. It’s all like flickers and glimpses of the one long gaze my soul most desires: the being we call God, Spirit or Source, the Tao, the All… Light and Love. The energy beyond words.
When the winds of Baja pushed desert sand in my eyes and I couldn’t play frisbee midday, the clear voice within guided me to wind-free mornings.
When I didn’t find myself as amused as others were about the art of kitesurfing, that same voice within reminded me I didn’t need to be.
When my small friend, Frances, had left and I could no longer dance with the Light in her eyes, I was reminded a child resides in every one of us.
When I’d had enough time with men and wanted the energy of women, I laid in bed appreciating the touch of my own skin and breath.
Whatever struggles you face today…
Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum of joy and sorrow…
Remember that every morning, Life invites you to set the tone for the rest of your day. It is an invitation to wake in reverence, and however you choose to meditate or pray, to make it so.
To illuminate your morning session:
Jessica Rios, Founder of Leaning into Light, was born with a divine pen in her pelvis. She is a lifelong letter writer, a thought leader in Love, and she writes memoirs. This blog is devoted to her greatest passion: illuminating the beauty of the human spirit.