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Ernesto and the Holidays

A thirty something latino man with dark wavy hair and a trimmed mustache sits alone at a table with a small, spiral note pad. He meticulously goes through some notes and scribbles down fresh revelations as they come to him.

He’s dressed in a nice pair of jeans, a crisp, blue button-down shirt and wears practical, dark, laced up shoes. He grabs his phone from his back pocket and dials. When someone on the other line answers, he speaks: 

Hello? Yes, mmm…yyy… nn…nnname is Eeeeeer…nnnnnest…to. I’m cccc… calling abbbb…bout ttthhh… tttthhh..the  aaaa… aaa… ppp… part… mmm… ent.

 He’s boisterous and I try to avoid glancing over because I know other people in the dining area are staring at him. Ernesto sits directly across from me, so it’s difficult not to listen in on his conversation as the volume of his voice increases when the person on the other end of the line is having a hard time understanding him.

I’mmm… ccc… cccalling aaa..about… th..th… the aaa…appp…part.. mmm…ment.”

Challenges

Anyone who has lived in Los Angeles knows how difficult it is to find an apartment in and around the city. It’s a monumental task for most of us; not only to find an apartment, but to find something affordable is challenging.

Los Angeles homelessness is surging with nearly 60,000 people in LA county alone. A whopping 47% of unsheltered homelessness individuals are found in the state of California, the highest in the country.*

  * courtesy of Los Angeles Almanac.

Tears well up in my eyes. I don’t know why I’m so emotional; maybe it’s because before me is someone struggling and there isn’t much I can do. So I do the only thing I can think of that may be of some help; I pray for him.  

I’m perplexed as to why I was so moved, but sometimes strangers can wake us up to the wider scope of our lives; showing us things about ourselves that are in need of attention or encouraging us in another area; venturing forth into new territory.

Giving

I reflect upon this, the state of our country and the world. In a time of great division where many are suffering, this is when in our rawness and vulnerability we need each other the most. One way we can create unity is through giving.

Studies have shown when one gives, one receives even more in return.

 Here are some benefits to giving:

 

  • A feeling of happiness and release of depression.

  • Helps in alleviating stress.

  • Improves sense of self and self-worth.

  • Improves one’s energy.

  • Gives one a sense of purpose.

During the holiday season, it can be a challenging time for many, so I did something different.

This year, instead of giving gifts, I’ve asked friends if they’d be willing for us to contribute to a charity or non-profit we both feel passionate about and they loved the idea. 

Charities/Non-Profits

These two websites below offer a list of charities and non-profits to choose from throughout the United States.

https://www.charities.org

https://greatnonprofits.org/categories/view/homeless-and-housing

 

Here are a few non-profits and charities I’ve donated to and who are doing wonderful work around the world.

Save the Children

http://www.savethechildren.org

  • Save the Children helps children around the world with health, education and protection.

Oxfam

https://www.oxfamamerica.org

  • Oxfam has a wide range of services, including ending poverty, gender inequality, local disaster response, and climate change.

Care

https://www.care.org

  • Care helps in the elimination of poverty and advocates social justice.

There are many charities and non-profits within the US and around the world. If you find one that resonates with what you’re passionate about, see if you can offer help and brighten someone’s holiday.

Volunteering

Another option is to volunteer at a local shelter, mission, or soup kitchen. Most people who work in these facilities welcome any help or acts of kindness. Not only are you extending a hand to someone in need, but it can also help one feel more aligned and inclusive within their community.

Connecting

If you’re feeling isolated or alone, reach out to a friend or family member and spend quality time with them.

More and more people are yearning for quality experiences versus material items during the holidays.

Spending time with a dear friend can uplift one’s spirit and also help gain perspective on areas that may seem overwhelming. It can also provide comfort and hope.

Peace and Good Will to All

May we fill our hearts with kindness, love, and compassion during this holiday season, and as this decade draws to a close, let us come together in peace.

 

Peace and blessings, 

Stacy

 

P.S. Thank you to my family, friends, and clients. You have all added to my life in wondrous ways and I am grateful!

 

 

Maria and Apollo

“Do you mind if I sit here?” Asks the women in a bright purple shirt with shoulder blond hair and brown doe eyes.

I’m seated at the Whole Foods dining area reading my book, enjoying my coffee and small salad while taking in an invigorating, sunny spring day.

Earlier she was in front of me at the grocery check-out line. Her legs appear to bother her and after paying the cashier, she shuffles off to the side when she glances toward me: “Go ahead.” she calls out while fumbling with her purse. The women seems to struggle not only physically but also mentally; distracted and distraught at the same time.

“Yes, of course.” I gesture for her to take a seat as I move my purse to give her some space.

The woman sits on the corner of the weathered picnic table and heaves a sigh of relief. A nearby raven crows and a gentle breeze caresses my skin as the two of us eat in silence.

She stares out into the parking lot when she blurts out:

“I just put down my dog.” She says as her voice cracks.

She goes on: “Man, it’s been really hard.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.” I reply, knowing how difficult it is to lose a family member. 

“It’s only been a week, but for some reason these past few days have been the hardest.” She says staring off in the distance.

“I completely understand. I’ve been there.” I offer.

Apollo

She went on to share with me about her four legged family member named Apollo: a handsome golden retriever who was thirteen years of age and was gallant, loving and brave to the very end.

“I still feel him around me. I mean, I go on the same walks that we use to go on together and I know this may seem strange, but I feel his presence around me.” She said. I nod in agreement. “Perhaps he is.” I replied.

I go on: “We are all made up of energy and Einstein took this concept even further with the discovery that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only change from one form to another.” I say.

“So perhaps Apollo is not gone per se, but has merely changed his form.” She considers this and grins. “Yes, I believe this.”

“Are you in the health profession? I ask because you have a really beautiful energy about you.” She says.

“I’m a Reiki Master and a writer.” I reply.

“Oh that makes perfect sense. You have such a peaceful, calming way about you.” she says.

Maria

Maria is her name and she works in the healthcare industry assisting the elderly. She’s also a singer and songwriter; singing on demos, as a backup singer for various artists and performing at local coffeehouses.

She bursts into laughter when she tells me more stories about her stoic Apollo; how she would sing to him and he would serenade back to her in his baritone howls. She shares how Apollo helped her to enjoy each moment, and how he reminded her to be more present each day and to appreciate everything; the shade of a grand tree, the soft grass under her feet, the warmth of the sun on her skin and his companionship.

We talked for nearly an hour where Maria reveals that doesn’t have any family nearby and that Apollo was her family. She thanks me for taking the time to speak with her.

“You know Stacy, I really appreciate you. You’ve helped me a great deal and I feel so much better.” She says.

“It’s been lovely chatting with you, Maria. If you ever want to get a cup of coffee or chat, feel free to give me a ring.” I said.

I hand her my card and a broad grin envelopes her face. “Thank you, Stacy. I’ll do that.” She says. I squeeze her hand when she rises and is on her way with a lightness in her being that was previously absent.

Vulnerability and Connection

We all need support and this need can show up in various ways; whether it’s sharing a painful experience or certain life challenges troubling us.

It’s easy to get caught up in our “other worlds” such as the ones on social media and even in our daily lives; however, even if these aspects are a part of our current reality, what is truly real is our vulnerability.

Our vulnerability is authentic, it’s what connects us as human beings. It takes great courage to show our real self; warts and all, whether it’s in our grieving, our struggles or our shadow side that we may abhor and want to push it away.

Yet, in facing our fears and being vulnerable, we free ourselves from the burden of the belief we are alone in our struggle.

Diving deeper

Once we reveal our vulnerability, we can find comfort in others who support and lift us up, who can empathise and offer us compassion, kindness and encouragement.

I think about Maria and Apollo and I’m touched by how brave she was in sharing her grief and struggles with a complete stranger. In Maria’s sharing, we were both transformed and better for it. In our connection and vulnerability not only does it bring relief, but it also brings us together and empowers us.

Both Maria and Apollo’s names are also significant: Maria is the latin form of Mary, the blessed Mother in Christianity. Some of the qualities associated with her are faith, perseverance, compassion and unconditional love.

Apollo was the sun god of ancient Greece; a powerful deity who was also the god of music, light, medicine and healing. I find it interesting that Maria and the spirit of Apollo came to me just before the Easter holiday. They were both gentle reminders to me of the power within us all.

During this holiday weekend, let us remember and come together in our humanity. Let us have the courage to reach out to others even if it’s a simple “hello” or to pay a compliment to a stranger.

May kindness and empathy lead the way to a deeper connection for a better understanding of each other and our oneness. The world is calling for it, it’s in need of us to be vulnerable, authentic and real.

With a deeper connection to ourselves and each other an inner peace fills us; creating a luminosity within and as a result, we transform. Thus a rebirth begins as we rise and awaken to the divine within us all.

 

Peace and richest blessings,

Stacy