I am not a fan of conflict or verbal altercations, discord or confrontation. I’d rather run the other way than face those things. And for most of my life, I did. I slipped silently out of situations I deemed contentious and relationships where conflicts arose.

The only problem with that method of operating in life is it’s terrible. It’s terrible, because you don’t move through and resolve momentary problems or genuine miscommunications and grow the relationship. And while I have always contended that I would rather be alone and happy than with others and miserable, I never truly gave myself the chance to fully express myself and work toward a deeper level of understanding, compromise, and commitment…until now, that is.

Our classroom is wherever we are in life, and our teachers are everyone we interact with, if we allow it. So what better opportunity could there be to address issues of conflict and miscommunication than in a band? None, I tell ya. None.

A band is fertile ground for bringing up every issue anyone’s ever had in their lives, and as one who has shied away from speaking up, of course I would find myself repeatedly in scenarios that required I do just that, once and for all.

Were my bandmates not also some of my closest longtime friends, The Inspire Project would have been toast at least three times by now. And were we just a band, it might not have been that hard to walk away.

But the thing is we are not just a band. We are a vehicle for impacting the world positively, which sounds pretty damn lofty, I know, but hear me out on this.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we write uplifting, inspiring, and empowering songs. But we also do the work of showing up authentically and growing, so that when you come to a gig of ours, you walk away not only knowing us, but having been part of something that you will hopefully take home with you…a fresh perspective, the courage to live another day, or the spark of trying something new in your life.

And that brings me to the logical progression to…percussion instruments.

Oh yes, my friends, I’m talking about the tambourine, again. And a few other percussive doodads as well.

Sometimes we do things unconsciously, that upon further consideration, are very telling.

It was less than a week after the last time the band was going to disband, and I found myself in a drum store, which is, of course, the logical place for the keyboard player to be nosing around. Not.

I was drawn to it, like some enticing piece of forbidden fruit. I had been borrowing Lorraine’s grownup tambourine at gigs, since my own previous purchase of one was smaller and not nearly as loud and authoritative. No, it was a new day and I yearned inexplicably for percussive doodads to play.

Before I knew it, there was a small pile at the register that consisted of the aforementioned grownup tambourine (in a lovely cobalt blue), a pair of tiny maracas with a beautiful sound quality to them (in orange…or maybe it’s more of a spiced pumpkin), and sleigh bells (also in blue), which I swear I am going to use, even if I have to record an entire Christmas album to do it.

But wait, there’s more!

On the way out of the store, there was a melodica in the window. Darn you, John Batiste, how could I resist?!!

I walked out of the store as excited as a child on Christmas morning. (Insert sleigh bells sound here because I can now!) And I still had no idea why or that there might be anything significant about it.

That’s when Tanya pointed out, “So you went from quitting the band to buying four more instruments to play in it?”

Sure, hit me over the head with a maraca, Tanya. Yup, I guess some part of me decided it was time to go “all in.” And if you’re gonna go all in, you might as well do it with instruments on which you have no inherent skillset, like me and percussion.

But why am I drawn to things that could not be farther from my own image of myself? And why percussion, for God’s sake?

Not surprisingly, I’ve given this some thought. And I’ve come up with some possible answers.

Percussion, from my vantage point, requires you to be “all in” with your entire body. It requires a lack of inhibition that both scares the crap out of me and thrills me at the same time. You can hide behind a keyboard, but you can’t hide with a tambourine or maracas.

Some part of me is ready to be seen and heard, by the world and myself in a different way. Some part of me is ready to step forward, to be honest in spite of the discomfort, to lead in spite of being afraid, to try something new on the off chance it could be fun.

We haven’t ironed out how the keyboard is going to work with my occasional need to shake something, but I have every confidence we will. And I will undoubtedly be saying a prayer that I have enough coordination to find 2 and 4 while singing at the same time. It’ll be very entertaining!

Whatever it is you’ve been longing to do, I hope you do it. And whatever issues you have that have been standing in the way of your happiest and best life, it’s worth confronting them and forging a new life.

I don’t take for granted the gift of Lorraine and Tanya’s friendship, love, and understanding. Nor do I take for granted that I get to go to work with my favorite artists all the time now.

I hope you’ll come out and hear us soon.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

You never know when you bare your soul in print, whether that is a terrible or a terrific idea, especially In this age of virtual permanence, where we click the word “publish,” and send that little piece of our souls out into the ether.

Five years ago today, I did that with this blog, and it changed my life. I could not have imagined the ways in which it would or the adventures life would take me on as a result of a single moment’s verbal bravery.

And because of that, I urge you, wherever you are in your own life, to say what needs saying – the honest stuff, the vulnerable stuff, the hard stuff, and particularly, the funny stuff.

So in that spirit, and because this remains one of my favorite blogs, reprinted here on my website for the first time ever, I give you…

The Kenny Loggins Blog                                                   September 29, 2012

I recently paid a psychic sixty dollars to tell me in a phone session that (wait for it)…I’m a writer! While that should come as no big surprise to, say, you, or the people who read The Huffington Post, or anyone who came to my book signing, why quibble about it? The guy was good. And I must have needed the validation because we writers are fraught with self-doubt.

My freshman year in college, my English Comp. professor called me into her office for a meeting. I was a music major and I wanted to perform on large stages for huge audiences. (I’m a Leo – self-explanatory.) My professor valiantly tried to persuade me that I should switch majors to writing, but I wanted no part of it. It didn’t even dawn on me that while I was busy crafting pop songs in the practice rooms at Northwestern, instead of actually, say, practicing, I was already writing. When you’re 18, no one can tell you anything. So here I sit, years later, certain of very little in life other than the fact that, regardless of what form it takes, evidently, I’m a writer.

Here’s the thing about that, though – I had no idea that my life would become the fodder from which I would cull entertaining tales. And I definitely could not have foreseen that those tales would almost always stem from my most embarrassing exploits, complete with the requisite blow by blow of what was running through my mind the entire time.

I’m not talking about spinach in your teeth embarrassing, either. No, I mean the stuff which, in solitary moments, might and possibly has made me feel incredibly foolish or even made me cry – and on many occasions, both. That kind of sharing requires a particular brand of insanity…or genius, as the case may be, though the psychic on the phone said nothing to me about being a genius.

And that brings us to Kenny Loggins…almost.

If you’re new to this blog, well, first, thanks for stopping by and please tell your friends. And second, you should know that the blog began as a means of gaining a following for my book: In Search of George Stephanopoulos – a True Story of Life, Love, and the Pursuit of a Short Greek Guy.

The genesis for the book was a series of bad blind dates I was going on that coincided with (the then single) George Stephanopoulos being on every “most eligible bachelor” list.

On paper, I had more in common with George Stephanopoulos than any of the men I was dating…which begged the question, if only in my mind, why not George? (I promise this will all tie in later to Kenny Loggins, so keep reading.)

And thus began the tale of how a struggling songwriter living in Nashville, Tennessee set out to meet the former White House aide turned anchor of Good Morning America, while still managing to simultaneously pursue a music career.

If there is a theme to take away from the book, I hope it is that boldly following your heart and your dreams will reward you in unimaginable ways…and also that the six degrees of Kevin Bacon game is no joke. I put it to the test and it worked. (Not with Kevin Bacon, obviously, but with George Stephanopoulos.)

And now we’re finally up to the part about Kenny Loggins…

It all started a few months ago, when, after having moved back to New York to look after my father, I was missing Nashville and the unique songwriting community that exists there and only there.

I’m not exactly sure where online it was brought to my attention, but I read that two of my favorite Nashville singer/songwriters, Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr, had formed a new band – with Kenny Loggins. And as a way of introducing the new band to an audience they might appeal to, they would be opening for Kenny’s solo shows. Splendid. I looked up the tour dates and sure enough, they were heading to New York in July. Now I just needed to decide if I was able and willing to shell out the price of admission to a Kenny Loggins concert. (I type this now from my really nice couch that my own #1 song got me, but as for oodles of disposable income for things like concert tickets, not so much, I’m afraid.)

So I did the next logical thing, which was refer to my CD collection. Did I even own any Kenny Loggins music? Of course, I did. How could any self-respecting songwriter not own something of his? So I gave the greatest hits CD a listen. Jesus, he’s good looking, I thought, glancing at the cover of the Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow CD.

I listened. I had forgotten how much I loved these songs. I had forgotten that there was a time when songs as meaningful as “Conviction of the Heart” and “The Real Thing” could top the pop charts. I began to remember why I wanted to be a songwriter in the first place. Screw it, I bought the concert ticket.

On the designated evening, I got in my trusty Subaru and headed for Peekskill. The opening act was just what I’d hoped it would be – that marriage of great songwriting craft and emotional oomph. (Is “oomph” even a real word?)

Anyway, I said hi to my Nashville acquaintances in the lobby during intermission and then went back to my seat for the Kenny Loggins solo portion of the show. I looked around at the audience, which was mostly older than me. But what they may have lacked in youth, they did not lack in enthusiasm.

Grown men, some in jackets and ties were hootin’ and hollerin’ like they were seventeen, while their wives, some of whom were gray-haired and some of whom had the good sense to color, left them behind at their seats to rush to the foot of the stage and get closer to Kenny. I kid you not. It was a beautiful, if not slightly bizarre, spectacle to behold.

For my part, I didn’t rush any stages with the other women, though I did love the concert and if I’m to be completely honest, the “Jesus, he’s good looking” refrain did run through my head a couple more times.

When the show ended, I drove home, thinking about what a great night’s music it was. And I thought about the new band, Blue Sky Riders, and what the prospects were for their success and the ramifications on the music industry if they could manage to pull it off.

Like I mentioned earlier, I write pieces in The Huffington Post, and though I started out as strictly a political blogger, I branched out to other things – like music and pop culture. So one afternoon, about a week after I saw Blue Sky Riders, I wrote a piece about them and submitted it. I didn’t give it a second thought. (Click here to read it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ilene-angel/blue-sky-riders-music_b_1717511.html)

When they published it, I did what I always do, posted it on Facebook, Twitter, and sent it to anyone who might be mentioned in it or an interested party. So I posted it on the band’s Facebook page and then on Kenny Loggins’ Facebook page. There, done.

A short time later, I saw that the band reposted it on their page, but Kenny not only “liked” it and reposted it on his page, but also said, “Thanks, Ilene,” complete with an accompanying smiley face after my name. (Insert audible, gushing sigh here.)

Now here was my assumption: I figured it was actually Kenny Loggins himself doing this. It very well may not have been…or it might have been. I’ll likely never know for certain, but at the time, I had every belief that I had somehow miraculously and sort of unconsciously made my way onto Kenny Loggins’ radar.

With my sudden good fortune of now possibly, maybe, conceivably, perhaps being on Kenny Loggins’ radar, I took the opportunity to consult my good friend Google, because frankly, I knew nothing about the man other than what his song lyrics imparted to me, which was plenty, actually – that he had kids, had been through divorce, is a reflective, articulate, and sensitive dreamer, and both believes in and longs for the kind of love and passion that truly lasts forever. See, I pay attention when I listen to songs. And for those qualities alone, who wouldn’t find him appealing? But it turns out there was an added bonus – he was single.

Oh no. Hadn’t I been down this road before? The melody was a familiar one. Yes, this time there actually were far more things I had in common in earnest with Kenny Loggins than with George Stephanopoulos, and I was starting out (I think) already being on his radar. So that alone was different. But the notion of trying to meet, let alone possibly date an actual rock star was more preposterous than anything I had heretofore ever conceived of or concocted in my little imaginative head. Nope. Absolutely not.

So off I went, back to work writing songs, playing them out, riffing about guns and politics in HuffPo, and doing my darndest to eliminate any lingering thoughts of the slightest possibility that I might one day meet Kenny Loggins.

It was a noble, if not futile effort, because the new band was beginning to headline shows in the fall, and coming right to New York City for five nights, Kenny Loggins and all. Short of actually knocking on my door, the proximity was irresistible.

I corralled a willing friend to join me. She didn’t know the band, but trusted my judgment and enthusiasm. Besides, she was under the odd and misguided impression that my life was always interesting, so how much fun would this be! At the last minute, her boyfriend, whom I had never met before that night, decided to join us. (*I’m going to truly beg their forgiveness right now, though I will always protect their anonymity.)

I wrote to the two band members I knew a week ahead of time and told them I was coming and brining a friend. No response. Oh well, whatever. Then, the day before the concert we were attending, I got a private message on Facebook. It was a lovely note thanking me for talking them up, coming to see them and bringing a friend. It closed with “Looking forward to seeing you,” and it was signed “Kenny, Georgia, and Gary” in that order.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I write a note or sign a card from more than one person, I always put my name first if I’m the one actually writing it. So after confirming that that is indeed the norm, I made another assumption – that Kenny wrote the note because his name was signed first.

Well, that about put me over the moon, because, to recap for a minute, I was now not only on Kenny Loggins’ radar, but he was “looking forward to seeing me.” And very unlike events with George Stephanopoulos, this came rapidly, with ease, and the only real effort being me writing one article and a note.

The big night arrives. I have given up carbs completely by now, been doing Pilates, running miles on the treadmill every day, fully aware that a rock star can have pretty much any woman he wants, especially one that can garner the “Jesus, he’s good looking” response when he’s sixty-four. My hair has been done. My makeup took me an hour. I’m in heels I’m praying not to topple over in. I’m ready.

I meet my friend and the boyfriend. We have a drink in the bar next door to the club, chatting amicably. I’m careful to just sip the glass of wine, given the heels I’m wearing that I can barely stand in sober and the fact that I’ve been taking prescription migraine medication for three days running.

We walk into the venue and they seat us – at a table that is, I’m not exaggerating, flush against the stage where, in a short while, Kenny Loggins will be standing. My friend is one hundred percent convinced that we were given the best table in the house because I knew the band. No amount of me trying will convince her otherwise. I must be very important. The heck with it, I’ll play along.

We continue chatting before the show. I order a salad. The table next to us orders pizza. I want to kill them, but I stick with my lettuce. The lights go down. The announcer announces, and the band takes the stage. We’re so close I can read their playlist upside down. We’re so close I could touch Kenny’s boots. Really nice boots, by the way.

And that’s when it happens. The boyfriend, who’s sitting in the middle between me and my friend, becomes That Guy. You know the one I’m talking about. There’s one at every concert, and if you’re a performer, at every gig you’ve ever played. He’s the guy that carries on a conversation with the band throughout the entire show. And he’s loud. Doesn’t matter if he’s drunk or sober. He’s yelling out requests, singing along, being part of the show. He’s Kenny’s new best friend.

I think I was unconsciously sliding my chair further and further away. I wanted to crawl underneath the table. And I really don’t mean to hurt any feelings here, but for the love of God, how was I gonna get a date with Kenny Loggins sitting next to this guy?!

Here’s the other thing, hard as it is to imagine reading this, I am shy. Painfully shy. Put me on a stage or with a pen in my hand and I’m outgoing, uninhibited even. But stick me in any kind of social setting with a large room full of people I don’t know and I am not inclined to speak unless spoken to. I’ve tried over a lifetime to change that, with only a small modicum of success. One on one, great. Room full of people, not so much. And yes, this will come into play in a minute.

So the show ends and Kenny and Gary disappear through the kitchen to I don’t know where. Georgia is far enough behind them for me to catch her and say hi. She hugs me and I don’t know why I think to say this, but I ask her, “Who wrote the note?” And that’s when she says, “I did.”

Well, never mind that Kenny has completely vacated the room. Now this calls into question whether he ever knew who I was to being with, ever read the note, or the Huffington piece, ever posted the smiley face on his wall. I could spend all day thinking about what an idiot I’d been, but the truth is, my assumptions were the ones I think anyone would have made under the circumstances, and I couldn’t fathom in my naiveté that Kenny Loggins had a gatekeeper or that I would actually know her.

So we left the room. And you would think the story ends there, but oh no, my friends. It’s just beginning.

There’s a merchandise table outside the doors of the club. I think they sold two items – a t-shirt and an EP with two live versions of songs on it. But if you bought the EP, you got to go backstage to get it signed by them.

And that’s when That Guy became my new favorite person, because before I knew it, he went walking, CD in hand, back into the club, through the kitchen, and straight to the green room, with us trailing right behind.

So next thing I know, I’m in a crowded room full of people I don’t know, including the band members, my friend, and her boyfriend. My optimum situation. There is no time for any kind of internal pep talk. So I find myself back speaking with the only person in the band I know, Georgia. And the more we talk, the more similar we both realize we are. But she’s got a room full of people to meet and greet, so we part ways.

Gary is off against the wall, surrounded by people he’s holding court with, so there’s not much opportunity to say hi, though he played so prominent a role as a songwriter to me in Nashville, that our interaction became two chapters in my book and they are, sorry to say for George, my favorite chapters in the book to this day.

So that left Kenny. And the boyfriend was already way ahead of me, talking to him. I don’t know what he was saying. I don’t know what my friend said either, really. I don’t remember, or didn’t hear, or blocked it out because I was going to have to say something by way of introducing myself to Kenny Loggins, and I had only moments earlier discovered that there was the very real possibility that he would have no idea who I was whatsoever.

I extended my hand and introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Ilene Angel. I wrote a Huffington piece about you guys a few months ago.”

“Oh, I was wondering who that was.”

“It was me,” I think I said.

Then he talked about how challenging it was to keep coming up with new ideas for the posts. (The band has their own column in HuffPo, and they rotate who writes them each week.)

“How do you come up with ideas?” he asks me.

And I say – NOTHING!!!

He continues, telling me he edits himself a lot, or maybe he said, “too much.” I don’t know, because the ability to form thoughts or anything resembling a coherent sentence has completely left me.

I have the best opportunity of my life to talk about WRITING – with Kenny Loggins – who is asking ME how I come up with new ideas and stop editing myself long enough to get published, and I’ve got NOTHING??? Seriously??!!!!!!

I would like to tell you that, at just that moment, a flash of brilliance fought its way through. I was witty, charming even, found my voice, saved the day. But I’m not delusional. It didn’t happen.

What did happen was this picture with him, and to be honest, I’m drawing a total blank on how it manifested, who snapped it – my friend or the boyfriend, and if I even said, “Goodbye,” or, “Nice to meet you,” or, “Thank you,” which would have been the least I could say, but as it turned out, the least I could say was NOTHING!!!!

Now I could spend the rest of my life chastising myself for blowing that particular opportunity, but the truth is it provided me with a teachable moment, which, I’m not gonna lie, sucked royally and hurt badly – not because Kenny Loggins didn’t like me, but because he didn’t even get the chance to meet me. He didn’t catch a glimpse of the person you’ve seen here so far in this blog.

Tomorrow I’ll be playing a gig in a room full of people I don’t know. I will talk to the audience, maybe joke with them, play and sing my songs and meet and greet them afterward. It will be fine, because that’s my job and I’m pretty good at it after all these years.

How I will reconcile that experience with the one from a few nights ago, I don’t know yet. But here’s what I do know – that if Kenny Loggins were to read this, I’d want him to know, in response to the conversation he was trying to have with me, that there are never a shortage of ideas. It’s always about the questions you ask yourself. Hell, I could give him his next twenty column topics without blinking an eye because I’m the inquisitive type, so here are some questions I’d be curious to know the answers to on the off chance you’re reading this, Kenny:

What has being in this new band taught you about yourself that you didn’t know before?
If it ended tomorrow, what new insights would you take away?
If you were writing a book about this new band experience, what would it be titled and why?
Tell me something I couldn’t read about you in Wikipedia, something that impacted you profoundly.
Tell me the funniest thing that’s happened to you guys on the road so far.
Do you have a nickname, and if so, what is it and how did it originate?
Where do you see yourself and the band five years from now?

I really could give you twenty. I just had to stop myself!

And as for too much self-editing, we all do it. We all fret over what we’re putting out there, wonder if it will resonate with people, and worry that maybe we could have said it better somehow.

But at some point, we have to know that we are enough, that our best efforts will impact exactly the people they are supposed to in exactly the right way, and that when we show up fully as ourselves, we empower others to do the same and we are all forever changed for the better because of it.

That’s what I’d tell Kenny Loggins, if I could. That’s what I learned from my time spent as a mute that night. And who knows? Maybe I’ll even get a second chance one day for a first conversation.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this.
– Ilene

Postscript                                                     September 29, 2017

For those of you visiting this blog or website for the first time, you will be glad to know this story had a happy ending inasmuch as Kenny did, in fact, read the blog and reach out.

And five years later, I remain grateful – for second chances at first conversations, for finding my voice, and for those, famous or not, who have blessed my life by being part of it.

My friend, Alisa, sent me a box of archangel cards a couple of weeks ago.

Now, whether you are rolling your eyes at the preposterousness of this, or are a true believer in being guided by any means possible, you’ve got to admit that the statistical likelihood of choosing the same one card, over and over again, from any deck, of any kind of card, every single time, means I should probably jump on a plane to Vegas right now and strike while I’m on some kind of a streak.

I know, I know – you’re wondering what my archangel had to say to me that was so damn important. I won’t keep you waiting…

“You know what to do.”

What a copout. If I knew, would I be futzing with a deck of cards?

But Uriel, the archangel giving me these pearls of questionable passive-aggressive wisdom, also said there on the card, “Trust your inner knowledge and act upon it without delay.”

And therein lies the reason this card keeps coming up.

Trusting? Trusting that inner knowing? Trusting that inner knowing and acting on it? Trusting that inner knowing and acting on it without delay? – not been my strong suit, historically speaking.

And now someone or something or some part of myself is trying to get me to take this final plunge that would catapult my life forward in a way that I’ve been asking for, for quite some time.

We are taught a lot of things – how to look both ways before crossing, and how to use a fork and knife, for instance, but we are not taught, at least not most people I know, to trust our inner knowing implicitly.

In fact, we are taught quite the opposite. We are taught to use our heads and not our hearts in making decisions. We are taught to logic and reason and think, but not to tune in, feel, and discern.

So my first reaction to “you know what to do” was a defiant, “like hell I do.”

But then I simmered down and I contemplated what it would feel like if I did, in fact, know.

What would it be like to be so in tune with yourself and with your source that you simply allowed yourself to stay open, get a sense, trust that sense, and act on where it leads you?

Wouldn’t that be the ultimate ease? And what if that’s really the way we came here wired to operate?

So my guess is I’m going to keep getting the message “you know what to do” until I admit that I do. And until I trust it and act on it, which I have been doing a lot lately.

We can’t outrun the bigger part of ourselves that is begging us to wake up. We can’t ask God, or Source, or the Universe for an answer and then turn a deaf ear to the whisper that would tell us it.

It takes courage to trust when it feels so completely unfamiliar. But it is the only way, whether in intuition or human relationship that we grow fully into our most fulfilled selves.

The truth is we all know what to do – in our quiet moments, when the mind gives way to the soul’s knowing. I think it’s time to trust it and act on it.

I’m betting that if I do, I’ll be picking a different card.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing a few moments with me. Please tell your friends.

This year our attention is more on hurricanes than on 9/11’s past, and maybe that’s a byproduct of a world that kept on spinning, even as time seemed to stand still momentarily.

I always find myself wondering each year, if the reading of the names of those lost that awful day is telecast nationwide, or if that’s just a New York thing, because it happened here.

The emotion in the voices of the family members reading names still feels as raw to me as when the pain was new, though a generation of children has since grown to adulthood.

And I wonder what unites us as Americans, anymore, except devastation, and even then, “thoughts and prayers” seem to be all we can muster these days for our fellow man.

I know the worst of humanity is what gets broadcast. “If it bleeds, it leads” has long been the mantra of television news. But I’m thinking that doesn’t serve us. It weakens us to a state of helplessness, when, in fact, we are anything but helpless.

So I wonder what it will take – for us to go out of our way, for us to remember our own fragility and have it bind instead of separate us.

I don’t know the answer. I think, like many, I’ve been worn down – by the pettiness and the politics and the empty promises of a better future that somehow seem impossible from where we stand now.

But then there are the ones offering shelter to the displaced, and clothing to those who lost everything in the storms, and all of us who cannot forget, and more importantly, will not forget that 16 years ago, in the midst of our grief, we somehow came together. The north and the south, the city and the country, the rich and the poor, all skin colors, and religions, and orientations of everyone. And for those terrible beautiful moments, we rose to who we were at our best.

I hold out hope that in these contentious times, there is within us, the seed of our best days yet to come, the possibility that we will once again know that we are all brothers and sisters on this earth, that our lives are not arbitrary, and that it matters how we treat one another.

May the memory of those who lost their lives on 9/11 stand as an eternal reminder that we are one. And may we become the peace we so long for so that it honors their sacrifice.

If you were to ask me at any given moment, where I am in my life, I would say I’m in the midst of some major transformation.

I couldn’t give you a date that it started, but I can tell you that I reached a point where there was no skirting it.

Now, you might say to me, “Ilene, isn’t everyone always in the midst of major transformation? Isn’t that what life is?” And I would tell you, as nicely as I could, “No.”

And that brings me to the before and after pictures that I posted on social media of me four years ago versus now.

I can’t speak to other people’s journeys, but I can say that a major aspect of mine has been about self-claiming, which means taking a good, long, hard look at yourself, an honest accounting, if you will, and going back to fetch those parts of you that you cast aside, threw away, didn’t like…you get the idea.

It’s putting the pieces of the authentic you back together, lovingly, caringly, and honoring and embracing them. It’s learning to love the you at your core, the long forgotten you, the one you were afraid to let the world see…and starting to own that person, embrace that person, live as that person, and even love that person.

Self-love is not self-ish or boastful. It is not narcissistic or unkind. To the contrary. It is finally making peace with who we really are.

How on earth can we “love our neighbor as ourselves” when we don’t know how to love ourselves?

So I am changing, bit by bit, day by day, because when I look at the insanity of the world around me, I know that the future depends on each one of us daring to bring our best to the table. And that starts with loving ourselves.

Do you really think that hate-filled agitators love themselves? (Including the president). They don’t. They don’t have an ounce of true compassion for themselves, so how can they for anyone else?

So I’m talking about this stuff, as uncomfortable as it sometimes makes me feel, because we cannot give a world in need that which we deny ourselves. So if we want this world to be a loving and kinder place, we need to practice that love and kindness toward ourselves and then the world around us.

So yes, my pictures look very different, not just because I changed my hair, but because I decided to show up in my life and in the world as if I had something meaningful to contribute that only I can.

This world needs each of us to go fetch the discarded pieces of our broken hearts and love again. Ourselves. Each other. The planet.

It’s time for each of us to recognize the greatness that we were born to make manifest in every interaction and relationship in our lives.

It’s time to realize that we are the answer to each other’s prayers – unknowingly at times, unwittingly at times, but the answer nonetheless.

So yeah, I’m in the midst of some major transformation…and I’d love it if you’d join me.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Peace & blessings,
Ilene

I woke up this morning and words flooded out, as if I was taking dictation. I am always asking the universe to reveal to me what I need to know. And I never think it’s going to come in the form of me being the cosmic secretary and taking dictation, but sometimes, it is. So I didn’t question. I just took notes.

Immediately after finishing, I felt like I had to post it everywhere. And that made me queasy. I felt timid and shy and I knew those feelings well.

But funny thing about that – I don’t have room for it anymore. There’s too much work to be done in the world and my timidity doesn’t serve anyone, particularly me.

So I said to myself, “Screw it,” and posted it everywhere on social media.

We don’t know how our words and deeds impact others, but I believe we have the power to lift up or tear down, and I’d rather lift up.

So if you are reading this, this one’s for you, today – and me. And I hope you breathe in these words and know that they came from that bigger place in which we are all connected.

If you are here, you are loved.

If you are here, you are worthy.

If you are here, you matter.

It’s as simple as that.

 

Every person who crosses your path today was sent to you by God. That is your ministry or calling. That is your purpose. And I can promise you that no matter where you are right now or what the situation, it can turn around, it can get better, it can be healed.

 

We can look at the world and see ourselves as insignificant, but that will never be the truth. The truth is we are powerful, each one of us, and that scares us. There is a part of us, deep inside, that knows we are meant for greatness, however we define it. We can let the voice of fear keep us from our destiny or we can step up.

 

We cannot keep the beasts at bay by cowering. We cannot find our measure of happiness by hiding, nor can we by pretending that anyone else’s interpretation of us is true.

 

We may have a set of principles and ideals that we’d be willing to die for, but I am asking you, “What are you willing to live for?”

 

What would be worth it to you to come out of your cocoon and live?

I get it, the world is a scary place these days, and it seems to be getting worse. But even if that is true, you woke up this morning with the gift of this moment and this day. Will you be an instrument of peace today? Will you tell anyone in your life that you love them? Will you forgive yourself or anyone else today? Will you construct a kinder world with your words and deeds? Will you help someone out? Will you look for things to be grateful for? Will you plant the seed of goodness that will flourish beyond your existence here?

 

If you are here, you are loved.

If you are here, you are worthy.

If you are here, you matter.

It’s as simple as that.

 

Peace and blessings to you, and heartfelt appreciation for you stopping by today and reading this.

Ilene