Tag Archives: community

sunshine tree

Love is greater than terror.

sunshine tree

Love’s light can shine through anything. Growth is always possible.

“Terrorists are jerks.”

That’s the subject line of an email a very dear friend sent me last weekend. She went on to let me know that some terrorists had opened fire at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and that a very dear friend of hers was there when the gunfire began and was currently MIA.

The next night I found out that her friend, Ravi, did not survive the attacks. He’s dead now, just like more than sixty other people who were mercilessly gunned down for no good reason.

I’ve been focusing a lot lately on surrender, on letting go, on accepting a lack of control. And that’s great, it’s lovely, it’s wise and good and all of that.

But sometimes it seems like a load of crap. It’s hard to feel helpless in the face of inhumanity.

My first reaction when I learned of the attacks, and especially of Ravi’s death, was to lash out spiritually. I felt aggrieved and angry. How can god/the universe/whatever I believe in let this kind of stuff happen?

But then I remembered I already know the answer to that question. God/the universe/whatever has no choice BUT to let this kind of stuff happen, because energy is responsive and humans have free will.

So my next reaction was to lash out at the terrorists. How could anyone voluntarily commit such horrific acts of violence?

And then I remembered I already know the answer to that question too. Hurt people hurt people. If the attackers felt fully whole, if they were deeply connected to their inner okayness, if they truly loved themselves, they could not also be terrorists.

Terror, a stronger word for fear, is the utter absence of love. Where love flourishes, terror cannot.

It’s true I can’t control what happened at Westgate. Upsetting as it is, acts of violence, hatred, and terror occur all the time, and most of them I can’t stop. Nor can I prevent the pain and grief that follow.

But that doesn’t mean I’m helpless, because I can still choose love.

Every time I pick love over fear, I am shining light into terror’s darkness.  Love—that is what god/the universe/whatever is absolutely full of, and that is what we’re here to share.

Every single human on the planet has love to give. Some of us are taught to spread fear instead, and that’s why it’s so important that the rest of us show up for what’s good.

Change happens one person at a time, one heart at a time, one action, one vote, one choice at a time. By supporting my friends in mourning, by smiling at strangers, by asking for help and declining despair, I am choosing love.

My heart goes out to those who are grieving the loss of Ravi. I never got to meet him, but I know he was a person who chose love. I am so sorry that fear caused his death, and I am grateful for his light. May we all have the courage to shine.

Off the Charts Empowered

Each of the business cards I collected represents an authentic connection I made with another empowered human. "Networking" never felt so natural!

Each of the business cards I collected represents an authentic connection I made with another empowered human. “Networking” never felt so natural!

“All I have to do is show up.”

That’s what I told myself in advance of Nathalie Lussier’s Off the Charts Live, a weekend conference I’d paid money to attend yet wanted to skip.

I thought I had no business being there, mainly because, well, I don’t have a business. At least, that’s what it felt like. (Now I understand that not only do I already have a business, I might even have two! )

So, even though I’d committed my time and money, I experienced huge resistance in the days leading up to the event.

“I don’t really feel like going to the business conference this weekend as I don’t feel I belong but whatever,” I journaled earlier in the week.  “I will show up. That’s all I have to do, I really have to keep remembering that. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in worry and overwhelm.”

And so I showed up. I was tired, and I was just barely on time, and I sat far in the back of the theater, up against a wall. Instead of smiling at anyone or attempting to make conversation with the other women in the room, I focused on my phone, typing out my frustrations.

Off the Charts resistance

I was experiencing off the charts resistance.

And then I did something brave.

Nathalie, who, by the way, is a super successful, sincere, excellently kind and helpful human, opened the weekend by inviting participants to introduce themselves. As I listened to woman after woman describe her business and her ambitions, I started to feel smaller and smaller. My worst fears were coming true–I was out of my league, over my head, an imposter, a poser, a wannabe baby.

My head was filling fast with self-hateful lies, but thankfully my stomach, which always tells the truth, was tingling for me to talk. I’ve learned to listen to that tingle, so even though I was frustrated and scared, I raised my hand and stood up with a microphone.

“I’m Christina Bryza, and I don’t have a business, or, I guess, I AM my business, ” I told the audience of intimidating strangers. “I’m a writer, and my first book, Are You My Boyfriend?, is being published in February, and I want to be prepared for that to be big, and so I need to build a brand and website for that, but I also care a lot about helping others heal, and I teach yoga, and I’m not sure how everything goes together and I don’t really know what I’m doing.”

[Note: I’m paraphrasing the above dialogue, as I wasn’t recording myself when I said it.]

I sat down, flustered and defiantly embarrassed. Nathalie nodded and said, “You’re in the right place.”

And, oh my goodness wow, I so totally was.

I learned and experienced SO MUCH at Off the Charts Live. Plenty of it was nuts-and-bolts  practical and on-the-ground applicable: how to develop strategy, construct a business model, build my list, increase site traffic, make sales, and launch a product or service.

Plenty more dealt with emotional intelligence: how to get out of my own way, balance my brain, cultivate empathy, manage my time, form meaningful strategic partnerships, and connect with a dynamically supportive community.

But the truly transformative aspects of the weekend were not things I could take notes on. (Although I did fill up the custom Moleskine I was given.)

Because validation, and clarity, and inspiration, and confidence…those things are intangible—and they are also invaluable.

And while I presume I would have received some of those benefits even if I’d stayed a silent observer, I know that speaking up early on allowed for some amazing interactions. If I hadn’t pushed past my (dis)comfort zone and made myself known, I’m pretty sure I would have spent the first break tapping away at my smartphone.

Instead, a woman came right up to me and identified with what I’d said, and I was instantly invigorated. She’s a writer too, and we spent the rest of the break enthusiastically chatting.

Our connection was the first of many easy, authentic friendships I formed in the course of the weekend, each with exciting implications and possibilities. When I exchanged business cards with these women, it didn’t feel like “networking,” it felt like necessary action to be sure we stayed in touch.

And I’ll make sure we do, because I need their guidance and support, and I want to help them too. As Nathalie said during one of her presentations, “we’re here to educate. We’re here to bring everyone off the charts.”

I’m so grateful to Nathalie Lussier and all the awesome people who participated in her event. I’ve never felt more able to shine my light and show up big, and I owe a lot of my energy to what I’ve derived to be the weekend’s magic formula:

Generous Wisdom + Genuine Connections = Off the Charts Empowerment!

Better together

Together

It’s important for me to feel okay alone, to trust that I am always loved and cared for, whether or not I’m connecting with another person at any given moment.

But oh, man, it is nice to have company.

Life is so much less lonely when I make the effort to build relationships. Reaching out is not always easy, but it is always worth trying. We all need to feel supported and affirmed, and it feels delightful to actively cultivate connection. For example(s):

At a holiday party last month I hit it off with a coworker of the host, and we decided we were friends. A week ago we had coffee and encouraged each other.

Then last Friday a Facebook update prompted me to message a college pal I haven’t seen in years, and consequently we met over the weekend for brunch and inspiration.

In both cases, instant rapport allowed for easy and open comfort, and I left feeling understood and uplifted.

Sharing time with others who are similarly invested in self-care, living well, and honoring creativity feels invigorating, and it is refreshing to trade stories and ideas with honesty, respect, and humor. Fulfilling relationships are tremendously important!

And if these sound like simple observations…they are.

What seems to be harder is choosing to make space for quality connecting. I frequently find myself at odds with a busy schedule or an I’m-on-my-own attitude, so it takes awareness and action to avoid isolation.

Thankfully, awareness and action are impressively effective, and because of them, I’m getting a lot of what I ask for these days–pleasant company, fresh perspectives, provocative conversations. Connection and support. Understanding and affirmation. And gobs and gobs of gratitude.

More love, less fear

love greater than fear

It’s the first day of 2013, and I have had an extraordinarily fulfilling twenty-four hours. I can without hesitation say this is the best January 1 I’ve ever personally experienced.

The reason? Love.

I don’t mean love in the romantic sense–I didn’t kiss anyone at midnight and that was fine by me. I mean love in the universal energetic sense: Every action I have taken since the clock struck twelve has been motivated by caring and consideration, and the people I’ve shared time with have offered warmth and authenticity. The combination has created a deeply satisfying state of connectedness and well-being.

After a morning of self-care and cooking (hope you all ate your black-eyed peas!), I spent the afternoon at a birthday party that ended with a group meditation and gratitude circle. I appreciated the willingness of guests to go along with such a suggestion, and it was interesting to observe the contrast between the lively chatter that had dominated the day and the quiet of sitting with our breaths that followed.

And when the ringtone gong signaled the end of our silence, each guest had the opportunity to voice intentions for the year ahead. One by one, when the moment felt right, we told the group what we were grateful for, what we wanted to hold on to, and what we wanted to let go.

I said I was grateful for community, and that I wanted to let go of my willfulness–my desire to control situations and anticipate outcomes. I said I wanted to hold on to my boldness and to have the courage to share my true self with the world.

I like what I said, and I certainly meant it, but someone else’s words are sticking with me most: One of my friends simply stated that he wanted to let go of fear and to bring in more love.

More love, less fear. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

In the “Religious Views” section of my Facebook profile, I assert “Love > Fear.” I’ve found it to be a succinct and reliable spiritual philosophy, and it was inspiring to hear that truth stated as intention today.

Fear is never going to make me feel better, while love always will. That’s one of many reasons I choose love as often as possible. I’m grateful to say I successfully did so today, and I’m glad I’ll get the chance to try again tomorrow.