Friday, November 30, 2012

Just a Minute...Not now...Later....

If I counted how many times I said these phrases, I would be aghast.
"Mom, can I show you something?"
"Just a minute..."
"Mom, come look at what I made!!"
"Not now..."
"Mom can you read me a book?"

I paused, and heard myself the other day and actually looked up from my lap top and saw the sparkle in my sons eyes.
"It's the coolest thing EVER!" he said with unparalled four year old glee. He jumped on my bed with his pants on backwards. I was sitting up writing. The whole bed bounced.
Something shifted inside me. My normal reaction was to say "Not now Sweetie, five minutes..." and twenty minutes later he would be asking me again. My kids are the most important thing in the world to me along with my marriage and our health. Gandhi said "True joy is when you actions are in alignment with your purpose."
What if my actions were in alignment with my purpose?

Besides that, if someone was going to show you the coolest thing ever...would you get a hustle on and run to see it? Have a little enthusiasm?
So I did. A bubble of excitement emerged from my inner whatever and I let my face glow.
"The coolest thing ever???!!!" I asked, totally entranced. Our eyes locked with delicious anticipation.
"YES!" he screamed.
"Yes!" I hooted back.
I set my lap top aside, jumped up and followed him as he ran down the stairs. He babbled descriptions of how cool, fun and awesome it was along the way and my heart ached knowing that soon his voice wouldn't be so cute and small.
When we got downstairs, the front living room couch had been transformed into a series of tunnels and a couch fort. He held out his arms to display his masterful creation, puffed his bare chest out (my kids are somewhat opposed to clothes) and shouted "TaaaDaaa!"
"Oh WOW! That IS the coolest thing ever!!! Wow! look at those tunnels and hiding places!"
"It's a CASTLE!" he corrected me, as he jumped and displayed it from another directed, arms out stretched, legs spread, his whole body practically dancing in place.
"WOW! This is SO COOL! Can you show me how you get in it?"
And he did. He demonstrated very thoroughly, all the nooks and crannies, crawling into the holes and popping up on the other side like a mongoose. He got my full attention and I felt full with love. I realized that I can tell him I love him everyday but showing him by giving him my attention is what he, and I, really want. As I watched him, and got down on all fours to play, I wondered what would it be like if everyday, if instead of saying "Just a Minute, Not Now, or Later..." I could actually give my kids the attention I want to and hear them say "TaaaDaaa!"
Furthermore, what if I was so excited about something I did that everyday, I outstretched my arms and said "TAADAAA!"

What would life be like?
It would be thrilling. It would be exciting even in the dullest of moments. It would be inspiring. While I was paying bills I could be enchanted by magic. While I did the dishes, Bronson dance moves could cause me to wiggle. While writing, my sons could dazzle me with a pillow diving demo.
Then I got that life is inspiring, dazzling and wiggle worthy. Life is magical. All it takes is to look up and say YES.

Zen Honeycutt
P.S. The photo shown is not the actual castle my four year old built on his own, this was another day with his brothers. But his was just as cool, just different.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Channeling of Outrage

I want to scream it from the mountain tops. I want to grab my neighbors and shake them. I want to take my friends by the hand, haul them to my coach, sit them down and tell them to not move until they watch "Genetic Roulette" or "The World According toMonsanto" Or Robyn O'Brien's Ted talk and force them to learn what I have learned about the shocking status of our food. But I can't. Well, I could but I would be branded a looney and avoided at all costs. People wouldn't even want to look at me, never mind listen to a suggestion on how to spend 84 minutes of their time.

So I stew in frustration and boil with belligerence. I even get mad at everyone. God Dang 'em ALL! I think. Someone looks at me with resentful disbelief, gets red in the face when I try to convince them to watch the movie, and the little angry voice in my head sputters. "Fine. don't learn. Eat junk and die." Seriously. Maybe if you are that stubborn and want to be that stupid you deserve not to have your genes passed on. Yeah, that's right, rats who ate GMOs were sterile by the third generation. If you don't wanna know now, well, you'll find out later. May take a few generations, but you will. In the mean time, don't come crying to me when you have cancer.

I know.Terrible. But I am just outraged. I am outraged that there are toxins in 70% of our food, that explode the stomachs of bugs when they eat the corn, that doctors say are slowly erroding our stomachs, causing leaky gut, inflammation and possibly stomach ulcers, cancer autism and alzheimer. Tests have shown animals that eat GMOs get tumors and become infertile/sterile! And babies are drinking these foods in their formula! Why have infant mortality rates doubled and tripled in just six years from 1996-2002 in California since GMO soy was put in formula? Are they linked? Kids are eating these foods in schools! Hospitals are serving this food to patients on the brink of death! Outrageous!
I am also outraged by the avoidance of people and organizations that aren't motivated to find out about what is in their food. I am outraged by the hold convenience has on our society. Everyone wants, easy, cheap, fast and tasty, no matter what the cost. People don't want to know because it's hard! I could just scream and punch convenience in the face. But this I really can't do, because it's a concept.

What I can do, is do something about it. When I first found out that genetically modified foods are the reason for all my kids allergies and the stress and strife around food and health, I swore to do one thing a day. Now after sharing with thousands, handing out flyers, sharing the movie and speaking with school principals and doctors about it, I find I am compelled to do far more than one thing. It has become my driving passion to be a part of freeing Americans from the toxins in our food. I know not everyone will take this on, but I am. I can start with my community.

So before Thanksgiving break I asked my preschool director if I could help the school go GMO free and organic. She had watched Genetic Roulette. We knew that what kids eat during preschool years directly correlates with whether or not they get cancer as adults. She gave me her budget and agreed. I hoped I wasn't being naive. I went to Sprouts and Trader Joe's and bought several options of organic snack crackers and priced out organic apples, oranges, bananas and pears. I made a spread sheet pairing one snack cracker and one fruit, figured out how many of each was needed. After moving some selections around and created a plan that was UNDER Budget. There it was. Organic, GMO Free and easy to do.

THIS could make a difference. A lot bigger difference than screaming my head of and getting mad. So I emailed out to over 100 Moms and offered it to thousands on Facebook. The response was great and I got that offering solutions rather than problems is always way more effective.

My anger disappeared and what is left is total gratitude for the partnership with Mrs. Lukes, the committed preschool director who was willing to watch "Genetic Roulette" in the first place. Her willingness inspired me to hep many more schools.I am grateful for her daughter, a Mom and nurse who inspires her to eat more organic. I am grateful for Moms everywhere, doing whatever they can to take care of their kids. I also get that I have been dealing with my kids life threatening allergies for nine years and finally just found out about all this. Maybe I could grant some space to people for whom food doesn't seem to be a problem, and enjoy them, where ever they are in their path. It may not always be easy, I may need to belt out a holler now and then, or maybe just cry. But each day that I take an action to share, serve others and savor the preciousness of life, I have fulfillment that brings peace no matter what.
Thank you very much to everyone who has read my posts, shared with your friends, chosen organic, and faced the inconvenience of food with a new found courage and commitment to health. I love your willingness and I am inspired by what we can do together!

Zen Honeycutt

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Instant Teen

Ten years ago, the day after my sister's wedding, in the circle of a family hug I announced I was pregnant for the first time. It was the first baby of the family. My mother raised her head to the heavens and hooted with glee and my siblings looked at me in shock. Later that day my older brother looked at me with eyebrows going every which way and disbelief in his eyes. "Really Zen? I can't believe it. Are you ready to be a parent?"
"Well, I have nine months to get ready." I said, rubbing my belly.
His eyebrows straightened out and then rose up, considering what I said.
"But you are going to have to be a PARENT." he said, aghast at the idea.
"Yeah...well..." feeling fear in my heart, "But they don't come out a teenager," I was thinking of how much trouble he and I were as teenagers..." they don't even talk for two years. I guess we can figure it out along the way."
"Yeah, that's true," he said with mild relief. He still looked skeptical, albeit glad for me. I was very present to how siblings can be happy having completely different lives.

I also got that his comment was not about me or any doubts in me, but more about where he was in his life. He just wasn't there. I was.
Whether I was ready or not, I wanted it enough to get ready. I still had fears though, and still do.
The teenage part is what is most terrifying...wiping butts, sleepless nights, those loomed as taxing and hard, but having your child out in the big bad world, where you don't know what they are doing... tempted with drugs, sex and rock n roll..oh noooooo. My heart clenched in a fist of fear when I imagined the teen years.

Obviously I have three boys now, 9, 7 and 4 and everyone has survived thus far. One day they announced they wanted to go to China. I want to go to China too, I thought...right now isn't going to work....but maybe we could bring China to us. My family had hosted students from Turkey, Japan and Korea when I was young and the idea of a teen from another culture suddenly was more exciting than it was scary. My kids could learn about China ( they are 1/4 Chinese, my mother is Chinese) and I could have a temporary daughter. So I Facebooked message a woman I met at a networking event a few years ago who was a coordinator for host families and exchange students.
A month and a half later...poof!
Instant Teen. We stood at the base of the escalator at the airport, with "Welcome to the USA Yanie Poon" signs excitedly sorting out the people before our eyes. When we saw her, we knew it was her. A petite, short haired 17 year old that looked 14. Fresh faced after a 20 hour travel ordeal around the world from Hong Kong, she ran to us with arms open and I hugged her with my own disbelief. How amazing is this courageous human being?

It has been three months and she is fully a part of our family now. Bronson brought home a craft with six paper people holding hands, our family including Yanie. She was meant to stay with us for just two months, we were the "welcome family". But we have so many adventures we want to do with her and she is such a welcome addition to our family that we are going to keep her for the school year. We don't get paid for it, and she does come with her own spending money, so we just pay for food, which is not much. We always have leftovers anyway. She is a senior at the local high school and is making friends and doing well. She plays piano like a dream and is up to any hiking or camping we do with the Cub Scouts. She watches the kids for an hour or so if I have to run an errand and is a good example for Ben in doing homework. She helps readily with the dishes, wakes herself up, does her homework without being asked and asks how she can help with dinner. I have a sneaking suspicion that this experience is not at all like it would be if I had had my own teenage daughter. She is grateful to be here. Perhaps because she is not our daughter of flesh and blood, but a brave soul who flew to live with complete strangers for 10 months, we also see her and treat her as a responsible young women. We see her as a young adult, treat her as one and she acts like one. We told her from the beginning, rules are: We will treat you as an adult, just follow a few rules. No drinking, drugs or dating. Groups of friends only. Always be in communication if you will be late or want to go somewhere and help out around the house. She does all that. And if she does forget now and then, it's not a big drama, we just talk about it.

The result is that being a mother of an instant teen daughter has been rewarding and fun. Going shopping and out to dinner with her, talking about life, marriage, school and friendships has been some of the most sacred moments of being a women that I have had. Having a daughter to laugh with about the boys stinky socks they leave scattered about, is therapeutic and lightens my heart. She makes everything exciting and new too.."Yanie's first Thanksgiving! First Christmas in USA, first pumpkin carving! First football game!" Being able to share in her journey, learn from her culture and enjoy a daughter has also been precious. On a Chinese holiday, Mid Autumn Harvest Moon, she took out several Chinese lanterns and candles she brought with her, and the kids delighted in carrying pink, yellow and red lanterns to hang outside of our house and honor the full moon. They pranced for an hour in the front driveway with the glow sticks she gave them and my husband wrapped his arm around me and asked "Is this what you imagined?"
"Better." I said. Having a teen daughter from Hong Kong is like the cherry on top of a sundae. Life is great, but she just makes it grand.

Zen Honeycutt

Thursday, November 22, 2012

An Invitation to the People Who Want to Succeed from the United States

Every kid does it once. Usually it is only once though. Somewhere between 7-10 years old. They are having a rough day. The brothers are annoying, something has broken or been lost because someone touched it that wasn't supposed to. BETRAYAL has wounded the core trust. Their world has crumbled. Voices rise into screeches and threats of bodily harm and then the parents punish everyone. EVERYONE, including the innocent. And the parents don't even want to listen. NOT FAIR. They close the door and ignore the seething rage of the child stewing up thoughts of divorcing from their family.
"I'm LEAVING this family!" the betrayed announces. Packing a few essential items in a back pack, the child may make it to the door, even out the door, but in most cases, he stalls, albeit spitting fire, just long enough to be intercepted by a parent with a few nosy questions.
"Oh, ok sweetie, well we sure will miss you...will you be warm enough to sleep outside in that?"
What? Sleep outside?

or "Honey, you will always be a part of this family...and I know you don't like that right now, but will you back in time for dinner?"

or "Where are you going to go?

Then the child's face turns from rage to bewilderment. Where am I going? What will I eat? Where will I sleep and will I be warm enough?

Pretty soon, giving them all the silent treatment and disappearing to the tree house, back porch or even one's own room seems to be enough payback for now....
because when you get right down to it, even though the child would never in a million years admit it, he/she is actually pretty okay with a warm bed, dinner appearing every night at a table lit with electricty and a place called home. Even if the family stinks.
And a few hours later, one of the brothers does something gross that actually makes the child laugh uncontrollably, even though they didn't want to...and Mom made a really good dessert. Dad even said something cool and the bed sure did feel a lot better, for sure, than the sidewalk. During the night, the love for his/her family fills those empty spaces and there are moments of safety, security, belonging and caring again.The child chooses what he has.

To the few thousand people who want to succeed from the United States, on this day of Thanks, I ask you to look around. This family of United States citizens built everything that we have...roads, electricity, homes, schools, hospitals, libraries and churches. The government provided the structure in that. Even if private companies did the work, the government provided the safety of a society run by rules that had the workers be able to show up and the materials be able to be delivered without people's legs being blown off by landmines on purpose. Our government is what made us who we are.

And the government is not some separate identity that lurks like an evil vulture waiting to snatch up your taxes like a punishment and betray your loyalty. It really isn't. The government is made up of people. People that are fathers to teens working their way through college, grandfathers who just want to have system that supports their teen grand daughter through rehab and aunts to a nephew with autism who wouldn't be able to feed himself if it weren't for the physical therapy the government provides. The people sitting in the in the government offices, making the best decisions they know how to, really do feel that they are doing the best for the country. You may not agree, you may not like it, but they are trying.

Parents don't always know best either, or do the best, sometimes they screw up royally. They make choices based on their perspective, and their perspective is different from a child's. Parents that try are good parents. A government that tries, messes up and tries again, for over 235 years now, is a pretty good government.
Don't get me wrong, I am the sister agreeing right along side with you that the health care system, bank system, election system,educational system and food system are all seriously and life threateningly flawed right now. I am probably just as or maybe even more pissed off than you. But leaving doesn't allow for the possibility of creating something new together. Together like all of us, not just your friends who agree with you. ALL OF US.

So my invitation to you is to choose. Choose to create with ALL OF US. Choose to be the change you wish to see. What you are angry at the government is for a betrayal, for ignoring some of us and not listening. If you leave, you do the same thing. It is going to take someone greater to stand for all of us. And if you are willing to stand up this much you might as well keep standing for the rest of us. So I invite you to do two things...if you really are insistent about leaving...go spend a year in the Peace places where there is war and children dying in the streets everyday and there is no electricity by night, in places where there is disease from the water and death from lack of food. Learn from others, learn what works to resolve these issues at a very basic level, be a part of the solution in other countries with far fewer resources and come back and be a part of the government here to restructure. Become the government.
We need people who care as much as you do to stand for all of us.

Or stay. Stay home and cause the change now.
Like a 4 year old child of a friend of mine, who didn't like that there was rushing and fighting while getting ready for the day, who asked one morning "Who wants to play a game? The game is called "Everybody Dances in the Morning!" and I get to pick the music and I get to say when we dance." They all agreed to play.
So everybody dances randomly in the morning in that house. They leave smiling and thankful that they are a family.
What kind of new game could we make up, all together, as a nation, that will bring us together...dancing in life?

Because you being a part of THIS FAMILY matters. US being together matters, and dancing in life together is fun.

Thank you.

Zen Honeycutt

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to Live Life Like Christmas Morning

I got a text from my mother in law. "Please have the boys write out a list of five things they want for Christmas." I could hear them scampering about downstairs. School was out and they had forgotten to tell their brains they could sleep in. Like roosters, they were up boasting and beating up pillows with bravado, forming a castle to anhilialte all castles. When that was done, the squabbling started.

"Boys!" I beckoned as I walked down the stairs."Nana wants you to write out the five things you want for Christmas!"
All ears perked up. They froze and then dashed to find paper and any available writing utensil. A highliter, broken, naked crayon, they didn't care.
"Get some paper and write it out neatly." I directed needlessly, for they were well on their way.
Like a masterful magician, my eldest son wiped out a two foot chart with thirty toys listed, complete with pictures cut out from magazines, secured on with several layers of tape as if to protect it from a hurricane. How the heck did he produce that so fast I wondered...but my train of thought was broken by his clear and concise explanation he was launching into of each item.
I interrupted him...
"That's great sweetie, but Nana only wants five. You cannot give her that list."
"Oh, okay." he said, a bit disappointed...then he perked up. "I will pick my TOP five." And he did.
Then he helped Bronson pick five things and began to write his list for him....with items from HIS two foot list, so he could get more vicariously and I had to intervene and redirect Bronson to what HE wanted.Ben acquiesced and helped by writing down yet another version of Toy Story 3 toy that Bronson quite surprisingly does not have yet.
They wrote carefully, and with utter focus. They wrote happily and quickly, yet with the utmost care to spell everything correctly. They sounded out each word and didn't lift their eyes from their task until they were completely satisfied that their list was a masterpiece.
I stood in wonder.
See, flash back to a few month ago, when it was high summer and I feared their brains might be beginning to rot from lack of academic use...would they remember how to write coherent sentences after a three month break?
So one morning I sat them down and said "This morning you are going to write a story." I put pencil and paper before them and their bodies deflated before me with utter despair.
"WHAT? Noooooooooooo. Uhhhhhhh unnnnnnn....noooooooo."
"What? What are we going to write about? I don't wanna. I can't think of anything...but my hand hurts...I'm hungry...."
The complaints tested my patience like an elephant on a tightrope.
It was such an ordeal to get them to write a paragraph. They whined and whimpered for twenty minutes. Then after they were done, they sulked for another twenty, as if I had punished them and our trust was broken forever.

It occurred to me that the difference between this morning's request to write out a Christmas list and my previous request to write a story about anything they wanted...required the same exact action. One just occurred to them as much more exciting. The result would be of benefit to them, it would be thrilling and appealed to them because of the great promise of a fantastic result. The other, albeit the same exact actions, occurred to them as just writing to write, just doing to do.

I realized that, in life we react to how a situation OCCURS to us, how we see it, not how it is. If we want to live a life of excitement, focus, enjoyment and mastery, all we need to do is simply shift how that situation occurs to us. Creating an action as an opportunity, and seeing an end goal which excites us, even if we don't have control over the final result, is what has us live life fully.

So where ever I am in life, even when the future seems to be getting bleak, my children inspire me to make it a fantastic envision an end goal where I am delighted, connected to people I love and jumping up and down ecstatically. Because I get to say how I see the world, and when I am present to the inspiration my children are, I choose a view that has me buzz with anticipation like Christmas morning.

Zen Honeycutt

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Power of We

It was just not working. I felt defeated, worn out, stressed out and put out. I was resentful and regretful. I wanted out. Out of being a den Mom to 10 rambunctious boys.
We all have areas of our life that don't work.
I have a couple of them. I have many that do work, I love my husband, kids, home, life etc....
but there are a few areas that just seem to repeatedly suck and I will admit that. Because I have learned that only when I am able to admit it, does something begin to change. If I hide it like a neat little package with poo inside, then no one can see it, including me, and it gets ignored. No one, including me, cleans it up.

So I admitted it. I had a meeting with the parents of my den and laid it out there. If it kept going like this I was probably going to quit or or dismiss some boys, not like a threat, but just because it was so unmanageable.I let them know I am totally just wasn't working this way, it couldn't go on. And I knew they would wonder...well what the heck are YOU doing that has them being so unruly. In fact, one couple pretty much implied that. And I didn't take it personally. I could totally get that, from their perspective, 3-4 adults, 10 kids...Come on! How could it be that bad?

Um, it could. And yes I have something to do with it. Yes I am willing to change it up. But I need partnership. I need us to take it on. I need this not to be a YOU or ME problem, but a WE solution. 100% leader, 100% parent and 100% cub scout.

So we created that. I made a Code of Conduct Contract. I wrote out all the unacceptable behavior and had the parents read it to their kids and sign the code of conduct. We created partnership between the parents, kids and leader. I asked the parents for their input and took it. One had her son, an almost Eagle Scout come and do uniform inspection and be on Time Out watch (which was not needed). She got a Wolf Totem to hold as a talking stick and created a sticker chart. The parents stepped up and helped out during the meetings too, we divided up the kids and conquered the disrespectful behavior. Normally I would do everything myself....but as that wasn't was time to take it from Me to We and man...what a miraculous difference!

The boys were alert, attentive, respectful, raising their hands, engaged and awesome. It was dreamy. They felt proud of themselves and so did we.

I am looking at how I can apply this to my life...going from the single focus of me to the Power of the area of messes around the house ( chore charts from Cub Scouts sure do help!) and genetically modified foods impacting our health. How am I trying to do it all myself and what is not working about that? What can I put in that would have powerful partnership show up? I am going to have to give up doing it all myself, thinking up of all the good ideas, being the leader for everything and having it go my way ( which is the right way of course). It's not about me, it's about WE.

I felt that giving up relief yesterday when I offered ideas at a planning meeting to label GMOS. They wanted to do other things or call it something different. I reminded myself that this is not about MY idea, it is about OUR nation having food that is labeled truthfully, real and healthy. I felt wonder and freedom when I opened up my vision of the future to their perspective, their contribution and our common goal.
I gave up my fear and controlling reaction... like a black crow flapping and hovering, I let it settle and be still...and saw the power in the people around me instead.

It's time to be authentic in life, time to share what is not working...time to pour our hearts out and be totally vulnerable. Because in that authenticity, we find our humanity, we bond with others, we love ourselves and can be with ourselves and others exactly as we are. There is so much power in authenticity. There is so much power in listening. There is so much power in inviting people to be a contribution to our common purpose. Let people in. The Power of We is wonderful.

I cannot wait to see what we create in working together for our common purpose to label GMOS. It may not look like anything I imagined, but after my experience with my den meeting, I have faith that it will be better than anything we all imagined.

Zen Honeycutt

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Take Your Lid Off!!!

It is election night and I am sitting in the back of the room of the Prop 37 party with my very patient and agreeable family. They are munching on organic snacks and I am thinking about whether or not I should say something when the leader asks if anyone wants to share. The leader, Paula is a vibrant red head with energy that lights up the room. She first shares that she has only been a part of the movement for a few months and I am shocked. She acts like she has been around for years. She is confident, related to everyone in the room, and owning the event like a true champion for human beings. She is a champion. She is a leader and it occurs to me that my role in the whole movement has been minimal at best. I realize that I have been playing small. Yes, I have been doing more than the average person, passing out flyers and sharing with leaders in my community, but I have not been the leader I could be. Paula is inspiring. I could totally be more of a leader. I could take the lid off my leadership.

So I do. I ask myself if I could do anything what would I do?
I would want to gather people nationally...nationally but locally at the same time and raise awareness in a huge way. I would want to do that in a way that works for Moms and families so they don't have to travel. I would want to do it on a day that is memorable and preferably at an event that already has the media present. Because some of the media is backed by major chemical companies, they often ignore the GMO Free USA movement and do not send press to protests or cover them on TV. We would need to infiltrate a media covered event.
Oh! I came up with and awesome idea that the local group of supporters agrees will make a difference. When a national leader said, "What you guys are doing In CA is incredible."I emailed back, "The Dalia Lama said, "Western women will change the world."That's us." I feel it in my bones. I am one of us.
I won't share the idea yet, because it's still brewing, and our coalition of GMO Free supporters will focus on the best idea to cause education and change.. but any local and nationwide event will require me to be a leader for many many more than I would normally even consider. It's frightening and freeing at the same time.

Most would not consider taking on being a part of a nationwide movement freeing. I would argue it is. See, who you have to be, to be a leader, is freeing. All your concerns about looking good or bad, you need to set those aside. That's freeing. All those fears about messing it up, you need to set those aside. That's freeing. All the resistance of responsibility that has you hesitate, you set those aside and take actions anyway. The connection, love and generosity that you find in the world from empowering others, that is FREEING!

I am clear that whether I lead this particular event isn't the point. I am not attached to my idea. (Although it rocks:) The victory for me is that I have set aside my concerns and I am willing and up for leadership at any level. I have taken the lid off my leadership and anything is possible. I don't remember ever feeling so free and so sure of who I am in my life.

So here's an invitation to look at, where do you have a lid on your life? On what you are capable of? On love? On Leadership?
If you are a parent, how does that impact your children? Your style of parenting? Your partnership with your spouse?

What would happen if you took that lid off? What could you consider?
What kind of parent/lover/friend/spouse/co worker would you be if you have no limits?
Coming from an empowering context, anything might show up and we might create new actions to take that light up and inspire the world.
Here's to a bright future we create together!!!

Zen Honeycutt

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Health Come First" and How it Doesn't

My Mother used to bring a bowl of chicken broth to me when I was sick and gently chide me to put away my book, drink my soup and sleep. "Health comes first." she would say...homework, reading, etc...would have to wait. Now, when she hears the rush in my voice and weariness creeping in, she reminds me, from 3000 miles away, to take care of my health and I do. Most of the time.

For Halloween, I was sewing large round polka dots onto a white sweat suit to be the zebra-turned-circus-horse Character Chris Rock played in Madagascar 3 "Afro Circus, Polka Dot Circus, polka dot, polka dot, polka dot, Afro Circus!!!" and I could barely thread the needle. My eyesight is going. I am almost forty, I thought, and my body is going through those changes, that's just the way it is.

Realizing I have also been unusually tired and because health comes first, I went to my Iridologist, who looks into your eyes, take a photo which is analyzed by a very high tech computer system and she points out all the mineral deletions, physical symptoms and causes for pain, sickness or issues in your body.

She could see that I had muscular pain on my scapula ( amazing! It had been hurting for months and I didn't tell her!) which was causing pain up my neck and muscles tightening across my face and restricting the blood flow to my eye. My right pupil was significantly smaller than my left pupil and could be the source of my eyesight blurriness. Completely correctable and not a function of just getting old.
This is preventing me from just accepting deteriorating eyesight, getting glasses and living with the blood flow being restricted to my eye and brain. Who knows what problems that could cause over time? Blindness? Brain deterioration? I went to a holistic doctor who focuses on cranial work, who said that the pain stemmed from my liver, which was over taxed from filtering toxins. She did some kind of massage to my head and liver and I left feeling completely better. I will also go to an eye doctor and maybe get glasses, but I will not ignore the cause and continue to monitor my neck pain as more than just bad posture, but as the a sign my brain is not being fed the blood it needs.

She saw that my stomach was acidic, causing a likely hood of more allergies, adrenals were overworked which causes very low energy levels, fatigue and irritability...and that really effects my parenting and confidence.

She then saw that white foggy lines around my pupil showed deep concern for osteoporosis, a serious lack of calcium and weakening of the bones. It's the reason why my grandmother hunched over constantly. But she was in her nineties...why was I getting this in my thirties? I eat very healthy food, lots of greens which supply more calcium than milk! I was shocked but so grateful to be able to know this and take a high quality calcium supplement for the next six months (which she does not sell or make money from) and then I will go in for a bone scan. This is preventing me from permanent spinal curvature, lifelong pain and being aware to not get wonky and do risky things that cold have me easily break a fragile hip. Hip surgery is tens of thousands of dollars and months in recuperation.
An injury like that would greatly impact the function of my family.
And a western medical doctor would never see these things in a regular checkup.

Why do I share all this? Because none of this is paid for by our Healthcare system, and that's just ludicris. I also believe that many of our health issues, including mine are related to GMOs in our food. According to "Genetic Roulette" movie,GMOs are sprayed with and injected with glyphosate, which is chelator, meaning it hugs the nutrients in the plant and strips them away to kill the weed. 70-85% of the food I was eating up until a few months ago, had this chelating chemical in it. I believe that a huge number of people who are mineral depleted now are experiencing this because of the glyphosate in our food which is hugging onto and depleting our bodies of the important nutrients we need. We then get sicker and experience liver overload, muscle aches, pains, fatigue, rashes, inflammation which can result in weight gain, auto immune diseases and more.

Alternative health care, and paying more for organic food is preventative and saves me and the insurance companies and the government tens of thousands of dollars in the future. It allows me to function as a responsible member of society and contribute, rather than site on the couch and take in disability. Alternative healthcare has us truly put health first, and out future first. And eliminating GMO's sustains our health.

WHY then, isn't the government promoting preventative healthcare and organic food?
Because it doesn't occur to them that health really does come first. Money does. Their jobs do. They have it all mixed up. They should listen to their Mommas.

Zen Honeycutt

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Best Day Ever!

My kids say it at the end of almost every day. And each time they say it with a fervor and authenticity that is undeniable.
"Today was the BEST day EVERRRRRRR!"
They recount several things that made it a prize at school, his brother shared a Jamba Juice, and on top of that we played Foosball and he won! The BEST Day EVERRRR obviously!

Kids make it so by saying so. Sometimes they say so ahead of time. As I am wetting their hair down before they go to school, like a Momma Tiger licks her cubs, they say seriously, "Mom, today is going to be the best day ever. It's Thursday and we get to wear our slippers to school."

Being inspired by our children has us see the world in a new way. What if we declared that Today is going to be the BEST DAY EVER?

Yesterday my friend did that. And told me. She did this not to tell me just to share it with me, like to have a friend hear her, but because she and I both know, because of our unique friendship, that she is then accountable for seeing and causing her day to be that way. I loved her courage and I joined in and declared the same.

And it was, The BEST DAY EVERRRR!

First of all, I woke up and wrote. Not my blog like I usually do, but an idea that had percolated over night about creating a Moms March across the country to label GMO's. I sent it to the 43 organizers in Southern California that bonded together on Prop 37. Even though I hardly knew some, a few I had connected with instantaneously over the cause and passing out flyers, we are sisters and brothers in unity.
The response was fantastically positive. Moms said Yes and gave ideas, connections to people that could help and my heart began to race. When I have an idea like this, something comes over me. It's like a wave of white light. I speculate about it and something in my body buzzes...This is it. You must do this. This is HUGE. The little voice, the one that is not my friend gets washed away by the wave. Every once in a while, when my energy is down, it will shout from a distant shore "Are you crazy? You can't do that! At least not RIGHT anyway! You are going to mess it up!"
But then someone from my community, who is now listening to me as who I said I was, emails me or calls and reminds me what I have already created (just by sharing it). The waves keep coming and I am swimming with the tide, carried by my community, towards the shore where I land on firm ground and walk into my future I created.

Yesterday, shortly after the email was sent out, Pamm Larry the Italian Grandma who organized the entire Prop 37 ballot measure, the woman I had just posted the day before as my hero, emailed ME and said if I wanted to call her to talk about this idea that she would get back to me. I DID! I called her immediately, while I was shopping in Mother's. I gave my four year old a bag of organic gummies to occupy him and I heard her answer the phone. "Pamm Larry?" "Yes." "OH MY GOD! I am so thrilled to be speaking with you!"
I was part shouting part laughing with glee and almost crying. My voice didn't know what to do. I was talk to my real life hero. I realized that she probably didn't have a lot of time for my blubbering so I composed myself and we talked about my idea.
"I love your idea," she said "And we will support you. Just get us a good plan, what you need, how you are going to do this, and we meet next week and support you."
I found myself saying "Thank you thank you! Fantastic! I love you!"
She laughed and said "I love you too." and we said goodbye and hung up.

"Whoooooohoooooo!" I shouted, jumping up and down in the aisle. "YES!!!! I just talked to Pamm Larry!!!" Shoppers turned to stare at me.
I beamed like a banshee. I called my husband to tell him and I heard his gears turning "Here we go! Zen is taking off on a big project!" but this time, even though this is bigger than any of my projects, festivals and fundraisers I have organized before, he didn't sound skeptical and concerned about the overload of work. He was impressed with the partnership I was forming. This project will be done well...because of the level of partners I am creating.

Yesterday was the best day ever because I created a whole new future for myself. We actually do this everyday, whether we declare it the best day or not. Everyday, children, teens, adults we create a new future for ourselves. Whether we complete a task or project and then create a new future for ourselves by having a wide open space for whatever is next, or we take on something new..going to the gym for the first time in years, calling a friend we haven't spoken to in months, planting a garden, writing a new chapter, each action creates something possible in the future. Everyday we are taking actions that create a new future for ourselves.

Sometimes that future could look a lot like more of the same. Sometimes it looks so different and big and, if we let it, becomes so scary that we recall it and shove it on the back burner. And other times, we let it wash over us like a wave, pulling us to a new land where everything is new and we are an adventurer in our own life.

I wish you the BEST DAY EVER and many adventures ahead.

With Love,
Zen Honeycutt

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

GMO Jedi's

The devastation I experienced last night when I was told that Prop 37, to label genetically modified food (GMO's), was lost, choked the tears right out of me. I stood in Mother's Market parking lot and bawled right in front of my family. The fact that greed and lies could win shook me to the core of my being.
My four year old son touched my wet cheeks and our exchange student Yanie, clouded over with concern. A peppy Mom came up and tried to cheerfully argue the sadness out of me, reminding me that only 17% of the vote was in.
But the percentage of blinded naysayers progressed accordingly and we lost.

The physical sensation of loss is body numbing.
My brain checked out too and I threw all caution to the wind when I saw the PTA President at school. The poor overworked woman got the brunt of my upset as I spewed upset terse words about being denied my first amendment right to free speech when I was denied my request to be able to speak at the PTA meeting about GMO's. I was an uncorked, un-showered and uninhibited and I embarrassed myself. My anger had me shaking when I got home. Before I was fighting the good fight. Now they just gone and done pissed me off! Was this who I was going to be? Some angry bitch?

I eventually breathed, ate and drank some water and realized that I am not committed to being angry about this, so I made amends to the PTA President, and we are creating the possibility of me doing a Topic Talk about genetically modified foods at the school with my son Ben. I am touched by her generosity and commitment to the school. We are creating that he can present his Happy Healthy Students Report and parents can find out how to support their kids' behavior, focus and performance in school.
I am not done. I will never be done supporting my sons', communities', nation's and worlds' health and empowerment in life.
And I see that sadness and anger will not support me in that endeavor. It's not bad or wrong, it is just not effective. It doesn't work.

When I told my 9 yr old, who has been right there with me at Honk n Waves and passing out flyers, that Prop 37 lost for sure this morning, he saw the disappointment on my face and he said, "Mom even Star Wars took 6 episodes to win." And they had YODA!
He was not sad, he was ready for the next episode! Adventure!

I am so inspired by children. Kathleens Hallal's awesome sons made this poster. This is the Art of Inspired stand for something, to express yourself, support THEM to express themselves, to connect with your kids in what matters to all of you...and to listen when they really are just a whole lot smarter than you. :)

Children play games all the time. They make up rules and they always set themselves up to win. If someone else tells them they lost, they get on with it. They end that game and then make up a new game. They declare themselves winner just because they say so.
So I declare I am a winner at being a GMO Jedi! I fought a good fight!I jumped in about Episode 4 I am guessing, as this fight has been going on for 14 years already and thousands of tireless, extraordinary GMO Jedi's came before me. Hats off to you. Today I rest my laser, but not the force. Today I am still a Jedi.

Love to you all who read my constant posts about Prop 37.
Love to you all who remained my Facebook friend.
Love to you all who read this blog in the twenty two other countries around the world.
Love to all of you who shared, passed out flyers, sweated in the sun by day and made calls across the USA by night.
Here's to you. Jedi's in life, in your games.
May the Force be with You.

Zen Honeycutt


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

For Those of You Who "Don't Vote"

I was in China, 19, discovering nooks of old towns by day and drinking beer on the streets with Germans at night. The elections were distant in my mind. Looking at my choices for President, I was so disenchanted with my options that I didn't see a reason to vote. I knew several people who would vote opposite of me so they were going to cancel out my vote anyway. Then there was this electoral thing, where the votes were locked up by predetermined party members. Supposedly, if I understood this convoluted system, one could be elected President with enough electoral votes even if they lost in the popular vote. So my vote doesn't really count anyway. What was the point? I wanted to just disappear into the exotic world around me and forget about voting.

You may feel like like just disappearing into your world today...pretending you don't really matter...and not vote today. I get it. Really, so what?
You may not even feel like you don't matter, you just don't want to. I get that too. It's a bother.
Or you may just be pissed about what your party did last time and have divorced yourself from them. Not gonna vote until there is a third party? Understood.
You don't have to vote.
In fact in China, the young people I met didn't think they should have to vote. They had no problem with no electing their officials. Just like a doctor goes to school for medicine and takes care of health or a lawyer goes to school for law and handles law, the political party should take care of electing the officials. Not their problem. They young people, developing their minds and careers, need to focus on other things.
They can do that, you can do that.

There are two kinds of conversations about life that can be had, disempowering and empowering one. When you think about it's all a know a point of view that the little voice in your head says, without you even thinking about it, the automatic reaction that occurs to us as real. It's not real, like written in stone, you have a choice about how you see the world and how it occurs for you.

You can look at it in a dis-empowering context...doesn't matter, don't like my options, too troublesome, not interested... all disempowering all not inspiring and do not expand you or challenge you. They do not call forth new actions which have you living life with aliveness. That conversation has you contract, stay small, play safe and check out.

Or you can have an empowering conversation about the election.
Empowering is a conversation that wakes up something in you, that stirs the immovable, that scares the "checked out" to check in just long enough to participate in life in a way that actually has you proud of yourself. It maybe hard, but you did it, you stood up and were counted. You can nod to yourself, even if no one else notices, that you did something to make a difference, even in in the smallest way... that is empowering.

You are alive, you are American and this is an opportunity. An opportunity to exercise a right given to us by ancestors who died for it. I know you have heard that before...the question is who are you if you are not willing to even vote for something? What do you stand for? You get to say what that is. You get to say who you are.

Today is an opportunity to be that vote that does, in fact count, and in extreme cases my be that one that convinces the House of Representatives or Congress to vote in favor of the candidate you see has at least one redeemable quality, in a tie situation,and to vote him into office. Your one vote counts.

Even if you don't really believe in one over the other, your vote counts. Even if you are tired and don't want to, your vote counts.

This year, more than ever, as a Californian, if you are,YOUR VOTE COUNTS. Prop 37, to Label Genetically Modified Foods, is on the ballot. This is HUGE. In 19 other states, the same step was attempted but they were bills (passed by the house of reps, not the people), and Monsanto, the chemical company that makes the pesticides that they are spraying millions of tons on, and injecting INTO, our food to genetically design the food to explode the stomach of the bug that eats it...that company SUED the states who tried to pass a bill to have their food labeled. They claimed it infringed on their right somehow. So they governors, scared of multi million dollar lawsuits and the impact on their already nearly bankrupt budgets, backed down.

Well, this time, they cannot sue each individual person, and we are the eighth largest economy in the world and we will not back down. WE THE PEOPLE, every single one of us COUNTS this time, not just for us, but for the 50 other states who cannot vote for this ballot measure. Your vote counts for millions of Americans. And for billions of people around the world who have already said, in 61 countries that they ban or demand to have GMO's labeled. Your count supports what they have created to protect their people. They are rooting for us. This time, instead of lollygagging in Asia, I am moved to tears by a man from Japan who is spending his own time and money to call California voters, people like me, because my vote matters to him. He wants Americans to stand up to have GMO food labeled so it is not a threat to his country.
We can help free the world from the controlling greed of a multi billion dollar company making chemicals that hurt mankind and the earth.

When I was 19, in the last minute, I decided to get a mail in ballot and spend 36 dollars to mail my vote from the US embassy in China. My budget at the time was ten dollars a day, so it took something for me to do that. In the end I knew I would be more proud of myself for voting than not. And even though I voted for a third party that I knew wouldn't be elected, I made up that my vote mattered. Because that was empowering to me. I slept better, I made better choices, I stood up straighter and I stood for something.

Today, if you have never voted before, even if you don't vote for President and you live in California, get out and vote and be the voice for millions of Americans who cannot vote to have the right to know what is in their food. Because Presidents will come and go, but our food determines who we are, whether or not we, or our children will be able to procreate and someday enjoy hold children as we have. Our food determines, how we feel, how we perform at work and in sports, our food determines how we grow and live everyday, and for how long we get to enjoy what we have and do and who we are.

Be the one to stand for something that gives us knowledge, power and freedom. Be the one who leaves a country to your children where the people spoke up and made a difference...
Be the one who stood for health, for a stop to infertility, breast cancer (rose 60% in the past 5 years) stomach cancers, allergies (up 265%), symptoms of autism, rashes and undiagnosed diseases...all exploding in numbers from inflammation, which is what GMO's have been shown to cause.

Today, if your instinct is to be on the safe side and not vote, consider, as a Californian especially, the safe side is to vote, and vote Yes on 37 and make sure everyone else does too.

Zen Honeycutt

Monday, November 5, 2012

Playing Games in Life

As my boys get older, how they want to play changes. A Mom friend asked me, "Does your son (oldest 9yr old) still PLAY?"
I asked, "Like imaginary play?"
"Ya, with toys." she said. My brain hiccuped, you mean someday he won't do that? Oh man,of course....they grow up...what a bummer, I thought.
"Yes, sometimes...he is starting to want to play video games more, when usually that is my 7 yr old. That one is a gamer. But they both play together still...hide and seek,legos...I love it. I think it's so good for them, to play."

"Oh, well , my friend's son is about 9 and he doesn't want to play anymore. He just wants to read or play video games on his Dsi, by himself, so when he comes over, I don't know what to do with him."

We talked about "that stage" in life when boys suddenly see toys as babyish and retreat into a world of their own, where play is restricted and being cool or aloof is the way to be. It's heartbreaking to a Mom and sad to family members, it's like something dissipates...the sense of play, picking them up, twirling them around, getting down on the floor with them...floats out the back door like a wisp of a ghost...but doesn't have to be that way.

"I think it's important to keep playing with your kid," I add, "to show them that playing together, no matter how old you are, is important."

I flash back to when I was a kid. My parents would invite their best friends over and after dinner we would all play a board game. It didn't matter that I was 7 and they were 58. We all played together, joked, laughed and someone won fair and square. Sometimes my father, brother, and Fred would disappear to the Rec Hall, where they played a few rounds of pool. Sometimes I would break the unspoken code and sneak in in and join them, watching them strategize, discuss politics and hit the balls across the felt into the deep green pockets. They didn't drink alcohol either, they just joked and talked and had fun completely sober. Looking back, I admire that, what an example of enjoying life that is and being present and clear. The game created the excitement, it was the glue that held together the real reason for playing, which was just to be together.

Soon after that I began to hunt down a foosball table. The pickings on Craigslist were thin and far away. I almost forgot about it. I bought a bunch of board games at a rummage sale for 25 cents each and they played Life constantly for a few days. Then A neighbor invited us over and the boys went nuts on their foosball table..shrieking, cackling, high fiving. It was awesome.
So I checked Craigslist again, (I love the principal of not paying retail), and found a game table, with five games, foosball, ping pong, pool, bowling and hockey for 65 dollars. I was thrilled to drive to Trabuco, pay the kind man and squeeze it into our mini van.

Since then the challenges to play are daily and delightful. Their loud hootin' and hollerin' is a sign of living life fully to me. The competition gets your blood going and the camaraderie builds confidence in our family unit. Last night we played with our exchange student and even though I lost I was clear we have all won.

Games expand the present moment, create something that was not there in the previous moment. One second you are sitting, wondering whether or not to wash the dishes, or if you are a kid, why your brother chews like that....and the next minute you are facing off your opponent, heart rate pumping, body buzzing, screaming like a girl who just lost her balloon or a boy who just won the rodeo. Why is that? It's because of the way the world occurs to us. One minute the world occurs as mundane, the next, it occurs as a challenge...and we rise to challenge. We don't have to ever stop playing. We have a choice. Choosing to be challenged creates connections in the world, gets us off the proverbial couch and jumping into life.

So when LIFE occurs to us as mundane or hard or too much, even overwhelming...all there is to do is to shift how it occurs to us, and play a GAME in life.
Just like a game, where we make up that the ball is better off not here, but over there, we can make up that our bodies are better not here, but running a marathon, or selling 2x more product, or our kids can make up that their body is better of winning a gold medal or being able to earn a badge or championship. And when your marathon gets cancelled, as in NYC after hurricane Sandy, many of the runner chose to play a new game, called supporting the survivors and volunteering downtown. That is a game worth playing!
They are all games, made up for us to expand that present moment, to further deepen enjoying what is before us, be it a friend, a soccer ball or a job that provides income for adventures, home and food. Make it a game and no matter what it is, we will all soon be shrieking with delight.

Zen Honeycutt

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Score: Boys 2, Mom 0

I told myself I would blog everyday this month....and give up that I don't have something inspiring to say all the time. This blog is called "Zen and the Art of Inspired Parenting" and frankly sometimes that title is exactly what stops me from writing. Sometimes parenting does not occur to me as inspiring. Sometimes I am not behaving as an inspired parent. Sometimes I want to quit. Usually I don't write on those days and that just has me feel stifled and stuck. That's not inspiring at all.

The past few days, feeling sick, like a mac truck has run over my body, and the muscles on my bones have just turned to putty...not much has been inspiring. I have been surviving. To top it off as soon as I get mostly better I have a den meeting of ten boys plus two siblings that swarm my home with boundless energy. I signed up for this, to be the den leader, and I knew sort-of what I was getting into. Most people wouldn't think of it as something they would ever want to do, and I didn't either. Scouts was supposed to be my husband's guy time with the boys at 6 pm on a Tuesday night. Then we moved and the pack we go to wants the meeting at 3 right after school. We happen to live directly across the street. They didn't have a leader. I am a leader (of adults in personal training and development) so I figured Why Not? I also have it the easiest way to teach your son to be a leader is to be a leader. So I chose to lead...but underneath was this "I am not supposed to be doing this, my husband is," and there has been resistance.

The den of Wolves I lead must be sensing that, sniffing out the hesitation in my leadership, because the last two meetings, although a riot for them, are occurring like a disaster to me...I am barely surviving them. There are moments, in between a seven year old boy looking me straight in the eye and mocking me, running away from the den and refusing to return and me getting a sore throat from talking over their interruptions and violent jokes, when I just want to scream "I quit!" and walk out of my own house.

Even though we are getting the requirements done and most of the boys behave, I have an expectation that EVERYONE should be behaving and we should ALL, including me, be having fun. And I am not.I feel like a gigantic failure of a den leader.I make myself wrong because I think I should know how to do this. I think I know how to be a leader. I think I know what is best and the boys just aren't listening to me. I think I know how it is going to continue to go.....and I dread the feeling of frustration I can see I will feel at the next meeting. I feel like a failure of a person and a Mom. I want to cry in my husband's arms in a ball and quit life.

But I won't, at least not forever. Not because I am afraid of what anyone thinks or feels, but because I know that this is my journey and my breakthrough to have. I know that there is something I can put in that will make a difference and it is up to me. It sucks now, but I know from my training at Landmark that I can transform anything. I just need to be willing. Clearly I am experiencing loosing the game the way I am playing and it's time to switch up the play before switching players.

Perhaps what there is to do is to, take the leadership advice from my husband and ask these boys that are interrupting and behaving disrespectfully, what they want out of scouts. Perhaps I need to ask them if they are willing to do what it takes to have what they want. Today I did a lot of telling them what to do. Perhaps...I could listen.

Today my triumph is simply writing even when I didn't wanna and looking to ask and wonder even though I think I know.

Zen Honeycutt

Friday, November 2, 2012

New York: "F You" City

The streets of New York City stretched on and on, lit up with endless possibility and gritty reality all at once. Bums spit and lurched towards us, people with heads down from the cold rushed past, mumbling profanities ( F YOU Mother F-er! to no one in particular) and smells of urine, coffee and manhole steam would attack our senses. And yet we strolled, arms linked and sang so loud our voices cracked "If you can make it there, you can make it anyyyyyywhere! It's up to YOU New York New Yoooooork!"
We were New Yorkers, my fiance and I, and we could do whatever the F*#$ we wanted to. So we did. Our voices echoed down the street at 2 am, we danced several times a week, tearing up the swing scene and we laughed with our posse of friends in coffee shops like we owned the place.
Living in New York in the early 1990's before 911, before Hurricane Sandy, before terrorism and nature humbled it's inhabitants... we lived in the most unstoppable place to be. We OWNED IT. You could do anything in New York City. You could be anyone. You were amiss to misjudge people as well... that scruffy looking guys stirring his coffee across from you could be a millionaire entrepreneur and the classy looking girl who just breezed past in Chanel might be a hooker. You never knew.

In New York, there were surprises around every corner, a movie being filmed and Sean Penn looking surly or a Korean bum lady who licks you on your cheek, leaving a slime of saliva and heebie geebies that last a week. Because of these constant surprises, New Yorkers are on constant instinctual survival mode. We (I will always be a New Yorker) develop a tough skin for shock and a radar for crazies. We gain a pace in our step that is unparalleled. We learn how to trust our primal instincts and can side step a bum and duck when an air conditioner is thrown at our head...and keep on walking. We get things DONE. We cut to the chase. We have little tolerance for laziness and we herald the hard working. We also develop a thrilling sense of creativity and we unfurl our inhibitions. When anything could happen, we become what's happening.

Some people go to New York and see the crazies and the hate. Todd and I saw the excitement. We saw what was possible. We connected in our love for New York.
Todd proposed to me within four months of when we met on our Alphabet city street on the lower east side. Like the city, we were fast. We knew. What we knew was that in being good match, we also expanded each other's worlds. Like the city itself, we sometimes scared each other with our ambitions, our reach and scope of what we considered possible. We were two independent adventurous souls, both whom at the age of 8, traveled away from our families for two weeks and loved it. We met and joined together in the city that never sleeps, dreaming of our life together. We were also clear that our independent selves loved the "F You" nature of the city, and therefore each other. We could say "F You" to whatever was expected of us, whatever we didn't like, whatever people thought of us. We got engaged quickly, lived in a tiny apartment with a slanted black floor in a great neighborhood in the East Village and we did things our way.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, just as after 911, as I see pictures of our downtown sidewalks flooded with water and mud, I wonder how it will change the city of bravado, determination, luxury and poverty. I wonder if the people, stricken in shock from the impact of mother nature's force, will look up from the sidewalk and into each other's eyes. I imagine that it will seep into their souls that they/we are not invincible, not only from terrorism, but from mother nature, something they cannot control. They will be humbled. They will have a new respect for the uncertainty of life and perhaps be a little less sure that they know exactly what they are doing is right and best. Why this is good, is because when you have your head down and are rushing to your destination, when you are an "F You", even in the most adventurous way, there is no opening for connecting, there is a callousness of the value of human beings and the preciousness of time. Not knowing has you stop and wonder, has you look to the side and be curious about another, has you speculate about what is possible again.

I wonder if New Yorkers will reach out and see, instead of the muck and dirty water on their streets and across the Jersey shore, will see what is possible. I wonder if they/we will become a little less "F You" and a little more "How can I help you?" and see not the distraction from their own mission, but power in that openess. I wonder if someone, somewhere at 2 am on one of those endless sidewalks, will belt out "It's up to YOU, New York, New Yorrrrk!" and have the streets ring with joy and ownership again.

Zen Honeycutt