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a birthday wish

Dear friends,

AumatmaI am turning 45 in two days, on Wednesday, March 16,
and here is my birthday wish.

The wise and beautiful Aumatma Shah who co-founded the Karma Clinic in Berkeley, now runs her naturopathic practice out of Oakland, and helps couples have healthy babies without drugs or injections. She is currently raising $10,000 through the new Kiva Zip platform in order to collect data to publish research in medical journals on how natural medicine can support fertility.

Kiva Zip is “a pilot program recently launched by Kiva
to drive innovations in person-to-person lending.
It provides 0% interest loans up to $5,000
for small businesses and entrepreneurs who are
financially excluded and underserved.  These loans are “crowd-funded” by individual lenders.”

Aumatma already raised $5,300 with 30 days to go,
and I would like to help her move a lot closer to (and maybe reach) her $10,000 goal by my birthday.  I just contributed $50 to her campaign, and I am looking for…mmm…say, 45 friends willing to join my Kiva Zip tribe of zero-interest lenders to make a small loan ($25 or more) toward Aumatma’s crowd-lending campaign.  Yes, crowd-lending means you will get your money back (without interests in this case), and then you can lend it again to another inspiring entrepreneur!

Would you like to play,
and be part of the new economy,
and a grassroots banking system?

If so, here are a couple of different ways you could contribute:

The quickest and simplest way:
Go to Aumatma’s Kiva Zip page and make a small loan,
then let me know via email what you contributed,
so I can later let you know what difference we made together!


If you are feeling adventurous, creative, and extra generous, you could auction an hour of your time via email or facebook page to offer your friends something you love to do, and then contribute whatever you receive from the highest bidder to Aumatma’s campaign.

If you do play,
please tell me what you end up doing,
so I can celebrate your contribution on my birthday!

And take a moment to watch Aumatma in action
in the beautiful video on her site’s front page.

With love,

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honor a restorative justice innovator

Let's Honor a RestorativE justice (3)How could we foster racial healing in the United States? How can restorative justice tools and processes help us repair historical harm?

These are some of the questions my friend Sarah Cruse and I will be exploring at the 2015 National Restorative Justice Conference in Florida from May 31st to June 3rd, with 500 others attending from all around the country.

We are going to the conference to listen and learn, and to discover inspiring leaders and initiatives which we would like to introduce to those in our social networks interested in social healing and community building. Some of the trailblazers speaking at the conference include Dominic Barter who developed Restorative Circles, an increasingly popular community-based practice for conflict resolution which initially emerged in gang-controlled shantytown favelas in Brazil. They also include Sujatha Baliga who is holding restorative justice circles with police officers in the Bay Area; and Fania Davis from Oakland who has called for a Truth and Reconciliation Process to address violence against African Americans.  And many others.

We secured support from friends to cover our plane tickets and hotel room; and Sarah did a crowd funding campaign to cover her conference fees.

Now that our personal costs are covered, we are launching a crowd funding campaign to raise $1000 which we will offer — as a gift — to one of the inspiring restorative justice leaders we will meet at the conference.

If, like us, your heart aches about what happens in places like Ferguson, Baltimore, and so many other parts of the country; if you despair about the 1001 ways that racial conflicts and injustices continue to destroy the lives and dreams of so many, please help us back a restorative justice initiative that is modeling how to heal rather than perpetuate harm. We don’t know who this $1,000 gift will benefit yet, but we will let you know before the end of our 14 day fundraiser.  And we invite you to accompany us on this learning journey, and entrust us with the capacity to make this gift.

If you contribute to this Indiegogo campaign on any level, you will be invited to join a facebook group which Sarah and I set up to dialogue with other friends attending the conference, as well as our circle of crowd funders.  You will also be invited to join a conference call which we will be hosting during the second half of June to share what we learned, what inspired us, and who we funded.

As always with crowd funding, every little bit helps. So, if all you can give is $10, we would be honored and grateful to flow it forward to someone doing great work. If you can give $25, $50 or $100, that would make us sing. And if you can give more, we will be whirling with joy, and we promise to put all funds to inspiring use, by supporting someone who is working for greater dignity, fairness, and healthier interconnectedness.

What we want more than anything else is the precious gift of your attention directed toward those who are developing creative solutions.

If you feel drawn to do so,
please back this initiative,

Tesa and Sarah

Would you like to receive more invitations to participate in inspiring crowd funding adventures?  Join Tesa’s tribe of crowd funders.

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terri goes to tibet

Madeleine Bault (1911 - 2009)

Madeleine Bault (1911 – 2009)

My great-grand mother was only 36 when she died… a few days after giving birth to my grand-mother, Madeleine, who was her first child. She died of puerperal fever, an infection which could sometimes affect women in the days following a delivery. Back then, in France, it was still fairly common, and fatal. Heart broken by the loss of the woman he loved, my great-grand father never remarried. He raised his daughter alone, and died 40 years later, a widower. My grand-mother ended up spending her 98 years on earth wishing her birth had not cost her mother’s life, a wish which her grief-stricken father also expressed to her more than once. Being motherless had a big impact on her life, including the way she raised her children. It’s hard to mother others when you have not been mothered yourself. My mother ended up inheriting the wound of ‘motherlessness’ and unfortunately carried it to her grave as well. I wrote this short poem recently about them both.

motherless daughters
never stop grieving the well
where they could not drink.

It perhaps does not always have to be so. We can learn to nourish ourselves, and find mentors and friends who help us develop the qualities and strengths our parents could not embody and model for us. But still, something my mother whispered to me late one night a few days before she died of cancer stayed with me as a deep truth: “On perd beaucoup lorsque l’on perd sa mère” (We lose a lot when we lose our mother).

Terri Nash

Terri Nash

Why am I sharing this story with you? Because one of my favorite teachers, Terri Nash is going to Tibet for 6-weeks as part of the Lotus Health Initiative. She will be training Tibetan women who want to learn midwifery skills to prevent the tragically high maternal death rates in Gargon (Eastern Tibet). I am supporting her crowd funding campaign because I am a big fan of Terri.  She supported me to ‘midwife’ my mother’s passing five years ago. And I wish to live in a world where mothers do not die needlessly. This is also my way of honoring the memory of my great-grand mother, Marie-Louise Faure, who died in Marseilles in March of 1911 because she did not receive the kind of delivery and post-partum care that trained midwives offer. Today, only one in 3,600 live births results in death in Europe and the United States. But in many other parts of the world, giving birth remains one of the most dangerous things a woman can do (e.g. one death per 270 live births in Indonesia). According to some studies, in remote parts of Eastern Tibet today, the odds are 1 in 33.

Would some of you like to join me in supporting Terri to contribute her gifts and her 30-years of experience as a midwife to Tibetan women?  She needs $15,000 to cover the expenses involved in training four midwives over the course of several weeks (half of these funds will cover the cost of using translators).

Tibetan Midwife

Tibetan Midwife

“Imagine giving birth alone at a high altitude in the cold, holding your newborn child in your arms and breaking apart your umbilical cord with a rock or rusty knife. This continues to be the reality of women in eastern Tibet today.”   Here is where you can learn more about Terri’s upcoming trip to Tibet, and what she needs.  And if you feel so moved, please join the 81 of us who have collectively contributed $7679 to date.


If you’d like to get updates about my philanthropic adventures, and receive invitations to join inspiring campaigns, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter.  

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borneo-gogo campaign

When my friend Jane Brunette emailed me from Bali last February to ask if I would help her organize an Indiegogo Campaign to support an indigenous tribe in Eastern Borneo bring hundreds of villagers together to hold a 64-day long conflict resolution ceremony intended to protect their home rainforest from bulldozers, I followed my heart compass and said yes!  Jane and I knew each other well. Our paths first crossed in Bali in the summer of 2011, and from the start, our friendship revolved around our shared love of poetry, meditation, travels… and trees.  When our friend Clare Dakin started an organization called Tree Sisters and put out a call for 1000 founding funders to make a monthly contribution, Jane and I both stepped forward. She and I occasionally talked about starting our own tree initiative in Bali, something small, local and hands-on, a fundraiser perhaps, but nothing spoke to us loud enough to move us into action, until Jane attended a Writers’ conference in Ubud last January.

She published a beautiful post on her Flamingseed blog about her encounter with well-known environmental activist Ruwindrijarto Ambrosius at that conference, and explained how it prompted her to get on a plane to Borneo with him to meet with leaders of the Dayak Benuaq tribe in Muara Tae. There she witnessed the devastation that has happened to the rainforest at the hands of palm oil companies’ bulldozers, but she also received a huge dose of inspiration from her new Dayak friends.  She gave an inspiring 8 minute talk about the origins and purpose of the Indiegogo campaign she decided to launch after returning from Borneo:

Jane turned to me for support with the campaign, because I love crowd funding, but I did not have much experience with organizing one, and neither did she.   We decided we would learn as we go.  And this is how Jane’s friendship with Ruwi and Asuy, and my friendship with her, sparked us all into action, and we later inspired friends in four different continents to come along for the ride.  26 days into our Indiegogo Campaign campaign, we have raised $10,714 from 155 people who have given gifts ranging from $1 to $1000.  More than 50 of them have joined our ambassador team.  We are especially excited that several women who have come forward are from indigenous backgrounds, part of the Dayak tribe in Western Borneo and the Tolaya tribe in Sulawesi.  When she heard about the campaign, Mina Susana Setra wrote Jane a very moving letter about what it was like for her to lose her rainforest (in Western Borneo) as a child.

The campaign for us turned out to be primarily about following our hearts and energy rather than a strategy. We’ve been meeting regularly over skype and phone these last few weeks to tune in with each other and the rest of our team. We enter a space of receptive listening and not knowing together, and notice what questions, issues, emotions or insights show up, individually or collectively… and how that feels in our hearts and bodies. As we connect with what is happening in Muara Tae, we give the energies and feelings that arise space to unwind… rather than rushing into strategic conversations about ‘what to do.’ We seek to talk, write and engage one another from a place of spaciousness and connectedness AND we also do our best to welcome all our experiences and emotions (however challenging or uncomfortable)… to give them the space and time they need to reveal their messages and transform us. Our guiding inquiry for this initiative on behalf of the tribe and trees of the Muara Tae has been “what would love do?”


Lessons Learned Lessons learned

Here are a few things I have been learning from my crowd funding adventures with Jane in Bali, Ruwi in Java, and our growing team of campaign ambassadors around the world.

#1 – It’s not how much money people give to the campaign that makes our day. It’s knowing they made a bit of time to learn about what moves our hearts, and cared enough to offer support in some way that is meaningful and authentic for them… which does not necessarily require money.

#2 – There are many things in the world requiring our respective care and attention, and we can’t all pay close attention to everything. This is why, when someone turns out to feel equally passionate as we do about preserving rain forests and protecting indigenous tribes from paying the price of our comfortable lifestyles… and he or she steps forward to campaign by our side, or actively reflect on the part they play in deforestation… we get over the moon excited.

#3 – My favorite part of witnessing people’s generosity is what they say or write about what inspired them to give. One friend gave $10 and wrote: “what an investment this is…a real investment for my children and grandchildren..let it grow..let it grow.” Another friend wrote: “Thanks so much for sharing about your Indiegogo Campaign. I’m now a modest supporter. You may not remember but in 1980, I went to East Kalimantan to try stop the transnational timber companies from destroying the rainforest and displacing indigenous people. That’s what led me to spend a year and a half traveling around the world to see if it was possible to feed everyone on the planet without destroying it in the process.”  Someone we did not know before the campaign made a gift of $1,000 and wrote this note:

Healing spirits of the rainforest have opened my heart and my eyes to so many beautiful things. They have helped me to reconnect with my passed away brother, forgive betrayal and see far beyond physical existence. The gratitude for all the gifts that I have received and now treasure in my heart cannot be described in words.  I wish all the people involved in this campaign to have a great ceremony. My deepest regards to the tribe, shamans, spirits, supporters and god for the gift of life that we share.

#4 – Receiving gifts from total strangers is a heart-opening experience that keeps affirming my faith in what’s possible. Some of those $1 or $5 gifts from strangers in Canada or Czech Republik make my day every time one comes in.

# 5 – Team and Tuning in are key. Remembering that makes the whole difference between getting over-stretched, stressed, and overwhelmed… or learning to trust that the most transformative thing each of us can do is to follow our life force compass rather than disembodied ‘shoulds’ + support one another to build our capacity to meet what unfolds, on both inner and outer levels.

#6 – Crowd funding is not just democratizing investing and philanthropy by creating collaborative platforms to support each other’s initiatives. On a deeper level, it’s inviting and enabling us to align our attention and resources with our hearts and visions.

#7 – Staying in the moment.  It’s challenging not to get obsessed about the money count.  The mind gets easily impressed by the 30-day timeline of a campaign, and wants to control the outcome.  In a 2011 interview with one of my mentors, Dan Emmons, he said: “As soon as you set up a system or a project in order to ‘make something happen,’ that project will start to require certain steps and actions to fulfill the intended outcome. That necessarily takes you away from staying in present moment awareness, connected to life force, and available to notice, feel and spontaneously act upon what is wanting to happen moment-to-moment. You have moved out of receptive mode where actions organically follow energetic impulses, and you have moved into willful mode when strategic actions require a forceful and depleting output of energy.”  It takes attentiveness to remain open and receptive to what might want to unfold, beside or instead of what we initially envisioned to accomplish.

#8 – Developing meaningful measures for success.  I wish platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo were not so single focused on money as the primary currency and metric of success because we have so many gifts(and types of currencies) to contribute to each other; and in my opinion, our capacity to pay attention to what makes each of us come alive is the most valuable of them all.  When we designed the ‘perks’ sections of our campaign, we did not want to offer ‘things’ like t-shirts or other material incentives.  We wanted to invite people to give from the heart, and we chose to offer rewards like friendship, connection, community, meaningful engagement, lively conversations, the sheer joy of giving etc.  People who visit our Indiegogo page are given opportunities to contribute in numerous ways whether or not they also want to give money.   We made sure there were no barriers to entry.  People could contribute as little as $1 to support our initiative.  Here is what the $1 dollar offered:

Befriend the tribe.  Friendship is priceless, but this small token of caring is a meaningful way to let the Dayak Benuaq tribe in Muara Tae know you support their work as guardians of the rainforest. You’ll receive their deep gratitude, and anyone who helps fund this campaign will be invited to our online celebration gathering in May!

My own measure of success for this campaign is not just whether or not we make our target number (though I’d be thrilled if we did). It’s also whether or not we stayed aligned with our values and our energy, whether we heeded life’s feedback or tried to override it, whether we stayed attuned to our respective piece of the larger puzzle or tried to take on more than that, losing our sanity and balance in the process. Success is in whether people who joined this campaign felt enlivened rather than drained by it, whether some of them were inspired to reflect on their own lifestyles, and felt moved to do even one thing they had not considered before. Success is in whether we generated more connectedness to ourselves, each other, the earth. There is so much to track beyond the amount of dollars raised in this campaign, starting with the relationships that we developed with people in other parts of the world, what we have learned by engaging with each other, and the shifts that have taken place within us. Success is also in whether we stayed open to the twists and turns that life presented instead of resisting them, whether we noticed the impact of what has been growing and blossoming as a result of what we are doing, and how we are doing it.

Update (May 7, 2014).   As it turned out, we met our $15,000 goal on the last day of our campaign!  Below is the announcement I sent when we crossed that threshold:

“It’s the middle of the night right now in Indonesia and Jane will not wake up for a few more hours so this is Tesa in California writing to announce that WE DID IT! We fulfilled Jane and Ruwi’s hope that enough people could come forward to answer their invitation to support a 64-day ceremony intended to heal conflicts in the rainforest of Muara Tae, and strengthen everyone’s relationship to life.  When I say “we did it!” I am talking about the 212 of us who have contributed to this campaign + all our ambassadors and friends in four continents who shared videos, interviews, and updates.

The last few hours have been filled with generous gifts coming in from many different parts of the world… some small, one very big, all equally precious to us. Jane started this campaign asking the question: “What would love do?” And the answer is that love can weave hundreds of caring threads across oceans and continents and create a web of support for a ceremony that is inviting all involved (including us) to reconnect with our deeper values and purpose in protecting life on this planet. Love has also created new connections between many of us, as well as opportunities to become more aware of our impact on each other. And this Indiegogo Campaign is just the beginning of what this growing web of connectedness can make possible. 

The numbers are still climbing ($15,519 as I write this), with 12 more hours to go. Any additional money that comes in now before the official end of the campaign will support the Dayaks of Muara Tae in the challenging task of protecting the rainforest, especially now that the military is siding with palm oil companies and bulldozers on the ground.

I want to acknowledge Jane and Ruwi for following their heart’s call and having the courage to initiate this campaign and take on the huge labor of love involved in holding the space for what emerged, and touching so many hearts. I also want to honor our Indonesian activists-friends on the ground for the hard work they have been doing for years. And again a huge thank you to all of you for showing up with love, money, attention, encouragement, and the willingness to share what is happening with others. If you joined this campaign in the last few hours, you can catch up with what has happened so far by reading the old updates on the Indiegogo Campaign page, and visiting Jane’s Flamingseed blog, and our Guardians of the Forests page on Facebook. You are also all invited to join our Muara Tae ambassadors’ Facebook group. ” 

When the campaign ended at midnight on May 7th, we had received 225 contributions totaling $15,840.


Would you like to get updates about my philanthropic adventures, and receive invitations to join inspiring campaigns?  Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter.

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one dollar and mrs. green’s world

This is a story about community-based philanthropy, and what happens when lots of little streams come together to make a larger river.  I’ll tell this story in two parts. The first was written on February 27th, 2014, two days before the end of my friend Gina’s Kickstarter campaign, when I sent this email below to thirty friends in three continents:

Greetings, dear friends around the world,

A warm hello from the little desert town of Borrego Springs in Southern California.

TWO DAYS AGO, between breakfast and a 10 am meeting with one of my favorite astrologers, I found myself moved to write this facebook update:

“Calling all big-hearted friends, pocket change philanthropists, and grassrootsy social investors! If you have ONE extra dollar in your car, wallet, pocket, or bank account, would you consider using it to back my friend Gina Murphy’s Kickstarter campaign in the next three days? Here is why I’m feeling inspired to ask this morning:

After attending an Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream symposium in 2008, Gina, who is a former corporate executive, experienced a big wake up call and started Mrs Green’s World Radio Network to promote environmental literacy and awareness. Since then, this fiery 63 year old dynamo has been been producing weekly podcasts about all kinds of topics from the impact of fracking to food politics. As of this morning, she’s $292 away from meeting her $25,000 Kickstarter goal to fund her next series of podcasts, with still four days to go. I am pretty confident she’s going to reach her goal today or tomorrow, BUT I am also hoping she could also receive the $5,000 bonus donation that was promised to her by a private foundation if her campaign gets backed by a total of 500 people. And that would be a bit of a stretch, because she would need another 146 generous souls (besides the 354 fans who already contributed) to come forward by Friday.  One dollar is really all they would need to give (more is obviously welcome!), and I’m guessing there are at least 146 people amongst my friends and their friends with a bit of change to spare to support what she’s up to, so I am just putting this out there to see what happens! Let me know if you decide to play!”


A whole bunch of friends messaged me to let me know they had just contributed all kinds of amounts (like $1, $2, $5, $10, and one of them, $100). The Kickstarter reached its $25,000 goal a couple of hours later. My friend Joanna who interviewed me for her Future Primitives radio show last July sent me an email that made my day. It said:

“I want to tell you how much Joy it gave me to click the button on kickstarter for Mrs Green’s campaign. I waited for the number to be $24,931 and then I put in my donations and gasped at the thrill of seeing the numbers change to $25,001 making it the drop of water that made the waterfall possible. I love been a delicious drop of elixir in this growing awareness that we are together, linked in love and compassion for self and other self. Giving and receiving, breathing in, breathing out…
In gratitude,


More messages came into my inbox. The Kickstarter reached $26,600, and the numbers of backers increased to 440 (from 350 on TUESDAY), just 60 backers away from 500 donors, and the $5,000 bonus grant, with 68 hours to go.

AND NOW, the campaign has been backed by 476 backers, which means that there are only 24 more backers needed for Gina’s radio show to get to 500 supporters, and that $5000 bonus grant. There are still 45 hours to go, so it’s looking pretty good! I’m feeling moved to send this email to you and 30 other of my friends around the world to ask if you happen to have one dollar in your possession that’s aching to make a difference, and be part of supporting Mrs Green’s Radio podcast to get that $5,000 bonus grant!

IF YOU WANT TO PLAY, please go to my facebook page, and click on the link on the one before last post. Or you can skip facebook and contribute directly to Gina’s Kickstarter Campaign! No pressure at all. This is only if you feel enlivened by the possibility of being one of the little streams that joins in this bigger river.

Just to be transparent, I have personally contributed $25 to this Kickstarter campaign.

And I want to add that the visionaries and change makers I support with my time and resources are those who are following their inner compass, and grounding their outer work in body meditation or tuning in / somatic practices that keep them aligned with life force and what makes them come alive. Gina Murphy is part of a women’s tuning in circle I have been hosting every week since last November. 

With a hug,


And now, here is part two of the story. What happened after I sent this letter above? Facebook messages from different friends came in saying one version or another of “I am in!” One of them came from my friend Jane in Bali. Another came from my friend Jildaz in France. Then one of my favorite messages came from my friend Cansu in Turkey, via email. It said: “I am #499 of the backers for our friend’s project. I just pledged $25 from Istanbul :) I hope she gets 500. One more to go ;)”

At that point, I was sitting in my hotel room in Borrego Springs with my partner, Soren, impatiently refreshing the browser ever few minutes, and waiting for the 500th backer to show up… any second! But nothing happened for over an hour. It was getting close to midnight. I contemplated the possibility of calling someone I knew and begging them to contribute a dollar to that campaign so I could go to sleep. But that felt like cheating! So, I waited. Eventually, I refreshed the browser, and lo and behold, we had reached 500. A few minutes later, I got this email from my friend Allison in Larkspur, California. It said: “I am honored to be the 500th contributor.” Then a few minutes later, she sent another email titled 503. It said: “Looks like there were a number of us contributing at the same moment. I clicked on when it was at 499 and was so surprised and happy that it had progressed like that! So I thought I was #500… I was just so happy to participate.”

The cherry on the cake came the next day, when I got a facebook message from my friend Eve in Santa Barbara. All it said was: #526!

The campaign ended on Saturday March 1st, with 527 backers, and nearly $30,000. And here is the last thing I want to say about all that. I hesitated for a long time before I posted that first facebook message to invite people to play. It will sound silly with the hindsight, but I was afraid to put a call out and face the possibility that no one might respond. And then I reflected on all the times in my life that I did not bring something forward because of some fear or another. So I decided to go ahead and take the risk. And I’m so happy I did.

Are you interested in out-of-the-box philanthropic adventures? Sign up for updates and I’ll send you more inspiring stories + invitations to play a couple of times a month. 

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gifts and gratitude

by Leah Pearlman

by Leah Pearlman from Dharma Comics

With Christmas eve
right around the corner,
I’m more than ever aware
that the most precious gifts
I have received this year
can’t be bought anywhere

So I’d like to share
what some of these were,
and give 1001 thanks
to you, my friends,

for generous invitations
to visit you in Ashland and Oakland,
Arizona and Malaysia,
Cape Ann and Cairo,
Hadley, Lyon, and New York,
Seattle, Santa Cruz, and Soquel,
Paris and Tunis

for wonderful home-made meals,
long walks in forests, deserts, and rice fields,
birthday wishes on my Facebook wall,
favorite links and little notes

for car rides to friends, weddings and funerals,
road trips around Bali and New England,
Sinai, and Vashon island,
late night pick ups and early drop offs
at countless train stations and airports

for meditative evenings and poetry gatherings,
Joseph and Aravinda’s memorable wedding,
and friendly reminders to play and sing

for your acknowledgments and encouragements
of my out-of-the-box experiments
in the United States, Egypt, France, Bali
… and the present moment

for wise words and wild ideas,
great questions and suggestions,
honest feedback and loving insights,
and opening each others’ hearts

for all the times we gathered
and enjoyed each other

for humor and laughter,
and countless triggers and reminders
to tune in and look deeper

for those of you
who offered an ear, hand, or shoulder,
when my ship filled with water
amidst stormy weather
and I was scared to go under

for gleeful guitar and oud lessons,
life changing shadow work sessions,
book suggestions, new connections,
Skype conversations and meditations

for your willingness to share
keys, kids, and cats,
wisdom and winter sweaters,
precious books and favorite recipes,
air miles, and shruti boxes

for your generosity
and unexpected gifts of money,
to support my journey

for life,
its five-star sunrises and 2012 surprises
like Soren, Navarre, Nitro, Nina, and Hakima,
Ahmed, Isa, Rahul, and Mustapha
and all the generous strangers
who made unexpected offers:
that soulful singer in Oakland airport,
who gifted me his new CD,
or the organic farmer who invited me
to spend the summer
on his solar farm in Hawaii

and I am also deeply grateful

for n + 1 opportunities to make a difference
with my own heart and experience,
so that I too could share my gifts with you,
and let life’s creativity flow through.

~ Tesa

Over and over

By Leah Pearlman from Dharma Comics


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Save the tigers with a glass of lemonade

Last Sunday, a friend and I were on our way to Lake Lagunitas to meditate in our favorite redwood grove, and decided to stop for a few minutes in a coffee shop in the little town of Fairfax.  As we walked back to the car, I noticed an A4 piece of paper taped to a lamp post.  It was written in a child’s handwriting and the headline read: “Save the tigers with a glass of lemonade.”  Each of the letters was drawn in a different color.  The rest of the sign said: “We are raising money to save the most endangered tiger species: the South China tiger. Come to 95 Dominga Avenue to help these tigers by buying a glass of lemonade. The lemonade ranges from a cost of 50 cents to any amount you would like to donate to help.  Thank you.”

I turned to my friend who knows Fairfax well, and asked him where Dominga Avenue was.  “Nearby” he answered.  “Oh, let’s go, then,” I said.  “I’d love to support these young change-makers, and buy a glass of lemonade.  Could we?”  Three minutes later, we arrived at 95 Dominga Ave and discovered two young girls chatting with each other at a folding table set up on the sidewalk.  They could not have been older than 10 year old.  As we walked toward them, they gave each other a worried look, and before we even had a chance to ask anything, they apologetically explained that they had run out of lemonade.  “Oh, that’s fabulous,” I said.  “How much did you raise then?” “10 dollars!” one of them answered proudly with a beaming smile.  And the other added, “but we are now out of lemonade.”  “That’s ok,” I said.  “I did not really come for the lemonade. I just wanted to meet you and tell you that I am inspired by what you are doing.  What moved you to do this?”  They had heard about the fate of the tigers in school and wanted to do something about it.  “This is great, I commented.  I’d like to give you another $10 to help the tigers.” They both opened big round eyes, and thanked us a dozen times, finding it hard to believe that they could receive as much money in the form of a spontaneous gift, as they had earned during the previous few hours. My friend and I walked away feeling really giddy from this sweet encounter.  I wish the South China tigers knew that two young girls on the other side of the world care about them enough to spend their Sunday selling lemonades on their behalf.

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thumbnail Filiz’ gift zoom
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a birthday wish

Dear friends, I am turning 45 in two days, on Wednesday, March 16, and here is...
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honor a restorative justice innovator

How could we foster racial healing in the United States? How can restorative justice...
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terri goes to tibet

My great-grand mother was only 36 when she died… a few days after giving birth to...
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borneo-gogo campaign

When my friend Jane Brunette emailed me from Bali last February to ask if I would help...
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one dollar and mrs. green’s world

This is a story about community-based philanthropy, and what happens when lots of little...
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gifts and gratitude

With Christmas eve right around the corner, I’m more than ever aware that the most...
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Save the tigers with a glass of lemonade

Last Sunday, a friend and I were on our way to Lake Lagunitas to meditate in our favorite...
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thumbnail Filiz’ gift article post