HARVEST FOR THE HUMAN SPIRIT

RECAP: BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

RECAP: BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 | Eli Zaturanski Photography

A new concept has been introduced into my life by an organization called BALLE (Business Alliance of Local Living Economies).

It is the concept of HARVEST.

What is a harvest? A harvest is the process or period of gathering crops. 

But it’s not only farmers who gather, as a community of global citizens, we all gather. We gather memories, moments, experiences, life lessons, skills, insights, breakthroughs, wisdom, until we bring it all together in one great harvest to share. 

BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 | Eli Zaturanski Photography

All around me, I see friends, family, and community harvesting the fruits of their labor. From transcribing their journey's into books, creating works of art, going on once-in-a-lifetime adventures, showcasing feature films, there is an abundance and a ripening, a time to celebrate here and now.

For me, it’s been a year of harvesting breakthroughs. PLURAL.

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I pulled this Osho Tarot Card at the beginning of the year, “Breakthrough” and I feel it’s come true. I sensed it would be a challenging year and rather than my natural tendency to attempt to be in control and fight, I named 2018 my “Year of Surrender” to remind myself to do just that.

OSHO CARD READING:

“To transform breakdowns into breakthroughs is the whole function of a master. It is the greatest adventure in life to go through a breakdown consciously.

It is the greatest risk because there is no guarantee that the breakdown will become a breakthrough.

Zen, or meditation, is the method which will help you to go through the chaos, through the dark night of the soul, balanced, disciplined, alert.

The dawn is not far away, but before you can reach the dawn, the dark night has to be passed through. And as the dawn comes closer, the night will become darker.”

~ Osho Walking in Zen, Sitting in Zen, Chapter 1

This year has offerred challenges as well as incredible opportunities including working with BALLE (Business Alliance of Local Living Economies), which has been one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on this year. Not so much because of the work itself (though that was impressive too!) but the privilege of witnessing and contributing in a small way to something incredibly powerful.

BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 | Eli Zaturanski Photography

Every year, BALLE hosts an annual gathering where they bring together 250 visionary leaders from across North America to envision and take action towards our country's most pressing and complex challenges.

The BALLE Shift Capital Summit is where people come together to take action.

With the theme of Shift Capital, topics included:

  • Democratizing finance and investing

  • Resourcing women and entrepreneurs of color

  • Investing in rural ecosystem building

  • Prioritizing indigenous communities

  • Accelerating cooperative ownership of business and land

  • Incentivizing independent business and alternative economic development

  • Regenerating soil and nature

Our fearless, graceful Summit Leader, Leslie Lindo |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

Our fearless, graceful Summit Leader, Leslie Lindo | Eli Zaturanski Photography

In short, BALLE and the community it fosters is HOLDING IT DOWN. Through their tireless work, as one community member calls it, they have become “Hosts of the Human Spirit”.

Having been mostly out of the country for the last two years (conveniently right when Trump was elected) I answered the call to travel and work abroad. Being gone has been one of the best things I’ve ever done, for endless reasons but especially because it provided me new perspective.

I had become like many young Americans, very disillusioned with America’s politics and institutions. Not even being as politically aware as I could be, it’s easy to see the cracks in the system. Leaving a country I perceived as highly self-oriented and ethnocentric felt like a breath of fresh air. Space from my country, space from everything I knew, space from myself.

Solutions Exchange! Small groups supporting one another on social challenges on the ground.

Solutions Exchange! Small groups supporting one another on social challenges on the ground.

And now coming back, I’ve braced myself for more anger and frustration and yet, this Summit gave me hope. There were courageous conversations on “Restorative Justice” and “Decolonizing Wealth”. There were “Solutions Exchange” sessions and action-planning for movement makers from across the nation where people were actively co-creating, collaborating and working towards a brighter future together.

“The New Majority” panel |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

“The New Majority” panel | Eli Zaturanski Photography

It was one of the first times in a long time where I was moved to tears with pride for being American. Seeing these men and women who’s families, like mine, have immigrated from all walks of life to the “promised land” to pursue “the American Dream”.

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And for better or worse, they are here now, grateful for the LIGHT and also no longer blind to the SHADOW of this country. The colonization, the violence, the injustice, but I didn’t hear a cry of a victim, I saw people empowered and doing something about it in an intentional and inspiring way...I can’t fully explain it. 

THEY WERE WOKE. REAL & WOKE.

Vision Session: The Shift We Need | |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

Vision Session: The Shift We Need | | Eli Zaturanski Photography

I left feeling catalyzed, mobilized, and renewed, so inspired by the work people are doing on the ground floor. There have been many moments traveling abroad when I felt embarrassed to be American but these people’s stories give me hope. And I remember how very blessed I am to live in a country (re)founded on freedom.

I wish I could share it more deeply (there’s a video coming out soon!) but a few questions and insights that spurred:

“What are the conditions for emergence?”

"What can we do today to restore balance in our communities tomorrow?”

“We’ve got enough for everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed.”

“How do we pay not just a living wage but a thriving one?”

“We can’t just scale our way from caterpillar to butterfly, we need to undergo a transformation.”

"What are our intentional practices to get us there?”

“How do we make people sacred again?”

And as one new soul friend so aptly put it, “the revolution needs a place and we are the space.” 

With all this goodness being gathered I now wonder, how might we acknowledge, celebrate, and honor our harvests this year? How might we restore balance individually so we can continue to flourish and thrive collectively? What’s next?

Many questions as you can see.

But for now, I’m so grateful. Grateful to be a part of the BALLE team in putting this Summit together. Grateful for the GRACE as I get back in the community building saddle again. Grateful for all those in the world tirelessly dedicating themselves to liberation, transformation, equity, and peace.

THANK YOU for harvesting hope for the Human Spirit.

ASHAY (and so it is)

With love and light,

Kelsey Lotus Wong

BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 Community |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 Community | Eli Zaturanski Photography

WHO AM I?

I’ve been tripping about identity. 

All day, everyday, asking: Who Am I?

Constantly confused because I’m always changing. 

Constantly confusing others because I never stay the same.


Some people say, “You’re a walking contradiction” “You’re all over place”.

But I don’t mind, I say, “Life is a contradiction and I AM all over the place.”


I can’t chose one form. It’s against my nature to be rigid, fixed, set in stone.


Until this morning! I was struck by the realization that God, Spirit, Source, the Universe in its infinitely abundant  creativity has no forms and all forms at once. 


So instead of getting stuck on the form. Be committed to the formless and your forms are unlimited. 


If today I chant to Guru Ram Das, tomorrow the Lotus Sutra, and the next day Ramana Maharishi, what does it matter?


It rises and falls, begins and ends from the same place. There is more than one path to nirvana. More than one way to practice love.

Today I dance, tomorrow I sing, the next I sit in stillness. 

I come into this project, that project. This client, that client.

But it becomes crystal clear when I see that my only client is God.

This role. That role. 

My only role is to be in service. Present in every moment. 

This house. That house.

My only home is the heart.


This country. That country.

I come from one source, the source of existence. Home.


No more worrying, Am I this? Am I that?  

Only I AM. I AM THAT I AM.

It’s as simple and complicated as that.

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I AM AS I AM

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I AM AS I AM.

Six years ago, I was gifted the name “Lotus” 🌸by a past love . He was my reason for going to Burning Man 🔥 and in that magical desert I found Lotus for myself. 

Lotus is a Heroine, an Adventuress, a symbol of rebirth and transformation I had never seen before. Living into her name and spirit helped me expand, deepen and open a wild world of magic, wonder, and possibility I hadn’t seen before 🌈🔮📿. I felt the unlimited love flowing through her veins. She set my soul on fire. We joined forces. We became one.🌛🦋🌜

But in becoming her, I began to deny me. I didn’t like the name “Kelsey”, I didn’t appreciate who I was, where I came from, nothing was good enough, I wanted and expected more. I feared being ordinary and became greedy thinking I had to be better. Traveling across the world searching for more.

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Today, through working with my coach, I revealed the truth. I saw the delusion I’ve been living in. The mind’s projection, a duality and unacceptance of self. My coach said, “I understand you want to grow but I don’t understand what was so wrong with who you were?”

And while everything in my path has been meaningful, beautiful, and I have no regrets. I see that in my urgent quest for reinvention and rebirth, I lost who I am.

So rather than striving for perfection I am choosing acceptance and realness. To accept myself for who I am as I am in this moment now. Who am I? I am that I am. I am free flowing universal love. What I wear, where I live, what I do, that will all change but love, love is eternal. Love is totality. Love has no bounds. Love is the present moment. Love is being happy, healthy, and fully alive. Love is all embracing, all encompassing, all loving no matter what.

So today, I ask the Divine for forgiveness for denying the perfection of its creation. I forgive myself for expecting more and loving less. And I accept my ordinary extraordinary ness as it is. I am as I am. And I’m happy with that. 😊🙃

May you be at peace and ENJOY🐛YOUR 🦋SELF exactly as you are. Perfectly imperfect, it’s all okay.

With light, love, and liberation,

Kelsey 🌸 Wong

Photography skills: Jamen Percy

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HEAVY RAIN & ROSE WATER: ADVENTURES & SELF-CARE IN TAIPEI

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Today it rained in Taipei. Hard.

I got swept up in the rain, soaked after getting lost on the train and having a fight with my partner.

It has been a long week and an intense month living in Taipei for the first time. We came here on nearly blind faith, offering ourselves to the Universe. Six months ago we had hatched an idea with another client friend who wanted to introduce us to their friends and potential partners in Taiwan.

After three and a half months of attending a yoga, meditation, and spirituality in Oaxaca, Mexico our hearts and calendars were so open we decided, why not?

Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico | Photography: Sabina Mac

Mazunte, Oaxaca, Mexico | Photography: Sabina Mac

Arriving in Taipei, the culture shock was real. Going from living in a tiny coastal town in Oaxaca where the farthest we traveled was 1km to and from the yoga school to living in a bustling city in Taipei was startling. We had spent three and half months getting grounded, increasing our awareness and sensitivities and then BOOM! Another country, another language, another culture, and way of doing things.

Welcome to Taiwan.

You could say we were naïve and a little unprepared. We had no idea what was in store.

Songshan District, Taipei, Taiwan 

Songshan District, Taipei, Taiwan 

And yet for all the challenges of city life and the identity confusion for me of being Chinese yet still a foreigner, Taiwan has been amazing. I love the people who for the most part have been so kind, generous and willing to help. The city is incredibly clean and well-designed. The train stations are spotless. I love the food, lots of traditional dumplings, scallion pancakes, and steaming hot pot. The island is full of lush green mountains and tea gardens just outside the city center. And more than anything there’s this air of peacefulness and this love for family and a good, simple life I appreciate so much. 

Wisteria Tea House, Taipei, Taiwan 

Wisteria Tea House, Taipei, Taiwan 

Taiwan has never been on my radar and I knew very little about the country before I came but the explosion of creativity and richness of culture here is astounding. The cultural history dates back to the prehistoric Stone Age when many aboriginal tribes lived here. During war times in China, much of the art and culture was destroyed. However, what was preserved still exists in Taiwan and to add to the mix, Taiwan has a true melting pot with Taiwanese, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, American, Portuguese, and Spanish influences.

Jiufen, Taipei, Taiwan 🇹🇼 

Jiufen, Taipei, Taiwan 🇹🇼 

But even with all this cultural wealth, the metropolitan area of New Taipei City is not immune to the struggles of city life. The air quality isn’t great with lots of noisy cars and pollution. Like most modern-day cities, many people you see are glued to their screens. This is the power of technology; it holds within it both the seeds of creation/innovation and destruction. When we lock our attention on it, our minds fall under a collective hypnosis. We lose ourselves.

Taipei, Taiwan 

Taipei, Taiwan 

That includes me. It’s been a mental, emotional, physical rollercoaster. Trying to work fulltime again and navigate my way in a busy new city. I thought I’d moved beyond “living for the weekend” but wow, I’m thankful it’s Saturday and I have a night to myself. A night to go IN.

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I’ve drawn a bath for myself, a salt bath of rose water. I’ve lit candles and diffused some essential oils. I’m drinking creamy honey in my rose tea. Listening to the soul-caressing sacred songs of Peia's album "Four Great Winds" and the heart-moving mighty ballads of the new album "High As Hope" by Florence + The Machine.

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There’s something so feminine about being in the water. A beautiful bathtub that makes even a busy city feel like home. Back to the mother, back to the womb. It’s so comforting, I feel so held. Slowly but surely I begin to relax, the suit of armor that I unconsciously wear to protect myself comes off. I peel back the layers and reveal my still beating heart. I breathe in deeply, filling my lungs with the scent of rose.

In this moment I wash away the rains from the day, the month, the year and I let myself be my own inner mother. Held closely and intimately by my self.

Wherever you are, I wish you some nourishing “you time” soon. It’s a wild world out there. Take care of yourself.

With love and gratitude,

Lotus

Da’an Park, Taipei, Taiwan 

Da’an Park, Taipei, Taiwan 

RETURNING FROM STILLNESS | 17 DIAS EN SILENCIO

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"The self is like a pearl. To find it you must dive deep down into silence, deeper and ever-deeper until it is reached." ~ Ramana Maharshi

Returning from 17 days at Hridaya Yoga Silent Meditation retreat and 31 days offline and in a state of so much grace. Somehow I thought grace was this rare, once-in-a-lifetime thing but now I can see that grace is everywhere, grace exists in everything. It's just a matter of one’s inner attention. A combination of conscious awareness and complete contentment with the present moment exactly as it is. Because it is.

While I don't have the words to fully express this experience and 17 days is only a blink of an eye, I did reveal one vital truth I'd love to share. Upon hearing it, I repeated it over and over until it rang like a singing bowl vibrating into every particle of my being.

It's simple: my essential nature is Love.

Love is the starting point, the ending point and the bridge inbetween. Love is the totality. Love cannot be understood by the mind. It starts as duality, object and subject but in depth it becomes one. From personal love to universal love to love being what we are.

Beyond our individual stories, egotistical tendencies, and limited personalities we are THIS VASTNESS. Because there is no word to describe the ineffable, we give it names like Love, Life, Truth, Grace, Spirit, God, the Universe.

Call it what you wish. Just this willingness to see beyond everyday reality allows you to see life in a renewed, unlimited way. It is this inner attitude that begins to open the gateways to eternity. And even when the mind wanders and the ego takes the wheel, still there's this constant remembrance, a return to stillness, to oneSelf, to the heart.

If you're seeking nourishment and peace. If your mind and body are exhausted and your soul is longing to go deeper. I highly recommend sitting in silence, maybe just an hour, a meal, or try a whole day, take time away from externalizing your experience and go inside, just be with yourself. If you're seeking guidance and support, the Hridaya Yoga 3 or 10 day silent meditation retreats in Oaxaca, Mexico happen once a month and are a true gift to self!

http://hridaya-yoga.com/

Muchas Gracias HRIDAYA community and spiritual guides Ramana Maharshi and Sahjananda for your generosity of love and support these last 3 months and especially 17 days.

May the fruits of our collective awakening be for the benefit of all sentient beings!

In peace,
Lotus

STEPPING INTO STILLNESS | 17 DIAS EN SILENCIO

“Be quiet in your mind, quiet in your senses, and also quiet in your body. Then, when all these are quiet, don’t do anything. In that state, truth will reveal itself to you.” — Kabir

Tomorrow, I begin 17 days of silence as a part of a silent meditation retreat at Hridaya Yoga in Oaxaca, Mexico.

While I mostly feel open, willing and ready to step into stillness, I also feel scared.

It’s amazing to paint yourself up to be this strong, capable, trail-blazing woman who of all things, is scared of silence and sitting still.

In the yogic tradition, realized beings transcended themselves and surrendered to something much greater. They sat in silence and meditated in caves for days, months, even years, reaching states of Samadhi (ecstasy, absorption in the essence of reality) and Nirvana (ultimate bliss) that most of us could never imagine.

While I won’t be sitting in a cave, I will be journeying inside into my innermost chambers, where I hope to come into deep resonance and intimacy with self (and Self). It is there that I also hope to engage in a process of discernment.

You see, while I know I have the gift of “a voice”, I also recognize I’ve accumulated many perspectives over the years, countless stories, media, messages, and loads of social and cultural conditioning. And while I accept and embrace all of this as a part of my karma, I also understand that the mind, even a beautiful mind, can be a prison.

Yogic sage and mystic, Ramana Maharashi says, “Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.”

I dedicate this time in silence and this lifetime as a whole in service of That.

100 blessings to you and see you on the other side.

xx,
Lotus

#heroinesjourney #yearofsurrender