Field Trip: Cheryl Strayed Lecture

It has been an amazing season for book releases and author tours! We have been fortunate enough to meet Elizabeth Gilbert and we jumped at the opportunity to meet Cheryl Strayed.

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Cheryl Strayed is certainly one of our favorites. We both loved Wild and her podcast that she co-hosts with Steve Almond, Dear Sugar.

Wild holds a particularly special place in my heart. I was reading the book on the very night that my dad was shot and killed and it became an important part of the beginning of my journey into healing.

Cheryl was appearing in Pasadena on a school night! This means Ed & I are usually in bed by 8:00, but we fought traffic after work, drank some caffeine and headed over to the venue. We received copies of her new book of quotes Brave Enough and excitedly sat down to hear her speak.

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Cheryl was incredible. She has such an amazing way with words, without being pretentious. She is authentically relatable and honest.

Cheryl started off by asking the audience if anyone had a tattoo of one of her quotes and there was someone there who in fact, did. She discussed the new book of quotes and the purpose behind publishing it. She clarified that she did not do this because she feels like she has a vast amount of wisdom that must be shared, but because each of these quotes had a story behind it for her and she was starting to realize that her quotes had stories for other people. She had been getting many emails and pictures of people’s tattoos, stories and memories of what her quotes had meant to them and was realizing that they had taken on different meanings to different people.

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Cheryl lectured for a very short time and devoted the rest of the time to questions and answers. She answered a very wide range of questions varying from grief, advice, writing, movie making, overall-wearing and my personal favorite, sharing her favorite word (a tie between love and fuck).

After the lecture, we were able to get our books signed and meet Cheryl. She was so incredibly gracious and listened to me pour my heart out over how important Wild was in my grief process.

ang and cheryl ang and cheryl

She signed Ed’s favorite quote in the book and spent a minute or two talking with us and thanking us for coming.

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We certainly did not regret staying out late on a school night. It was a wonderful experience to meet Cheryl and hear her discuss so eloquently, a wide range of topics.

Hiiii, it’s Ed,

When Angelina mentioned that Cheryl Strayed’s book tour was headed to Pasadena I knew I had to go.  I’d been on a Cheryl obsession ever since last year; eating up all the information I could find on her.  I loved that her spiritual journey was unconventional and it resulted in finding the love of her life.

If Cheryl went on a journey through the Pacific Coast Trail – then I had to go on a journey through the Pacific Coast Trail.

Over the summer I was up near Oregon in search of the PCT

Over the summer I was up near Oregon in search of the PCT

 

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When I opened Cheryl’s new book, I found the perfect quote that describes “god” for me:

I love that she personalized it!!

I love that she personalized it!!

I understand Cheryl’s point of view when it comes to the ultimate creator of the universe. She was raised in an abusive home where she witnessed the physical abuse of her father. Afterward her mother passed away from a terrible bout of cancer.  I was raised in a home where every desire of one’s heart could be answered through prayer – instead of hard work.

When I look at the human experience as a whole, sometimes I ask the Lord, “couldn’t you have made it easier for us here?” God is a creator of wonderful experiences but at the same time, it can be a ruthless bitch!

Ed

AIDS Walk LA

This past weekend, we participated in AIDS Walk LA, in West Hollywood.

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Although the weather was scorching for an October day in Southern California (high 90s!), it was still important for us to walk the 6.2 miles with our fellow brothers and sisters who are still spreading awareness and raising funds that go towards prevention, education and treatment.

weho AIDS WALK AIDS Walk angelhot like mexico

Field Trip: Lecture on Compassion

Field Trip is a new monthly blog post Angelina and I have created as we venture out from our normal Christian roots to a more diverse understanding of the Divine.  We have many trips planned for the future which include visits to other faiths, beliefs and cultures. As we move forward into the unknown, we plan on sharing the information and experiences here with all of our sisters.

Ang & Ed

A few weeks ago, we went to a lecture on compassion, given by Lama Jigme Gyatso at Viva La Vegan.

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Much of the lecture was geared towards extending compassion to our diets and adapting a plant-based, animal free diet. I have been a vegan for over two years now and a vegetarian for over eight years. I feel that I have done a decent job in making the connection between human compassion, empathy and suffering of that with my animal friends.

However,  I can personally still work on the compassion I extend out into the universe

Shortly before this school year started, I had a great conversation at my book club, about how it is that we lead….I thought about that question for almost a week afterwards, how do I lead? I have been blessed to be in a leadership position in my career, and even more privileged to be in the position where I am leading the future generation through working with high schoolers, but how is  it that I am leading them?

When I really gave it some thought, I realized that what attracted me to my career was the opportunity to help others. However, through the course of my career, I have sometimes lost this and lead through the need to be productive, efficient, responsible and useful. Often times, my focus was more on the quantity of my work and not quality. And while I most definitely still want to put out a productive amount of work, letting that alone be my motivation would leave me drained and unhappy, and potentially not giving the best of myself to my students (one of my greatest fears).

I set the intention this school year, to lead through compassion and love. I have been intending to still be efficient in my work, but let compassion, kindness and love always be the motivation behind my intentions. I have tried to reframe situations that I may not exactly like, to be done with love and be completely present with what I am doing, and the reason I am doing it.

Attempting to live compassionately has helped me find more joy in more work and hopefully, that transcends into what is best for my students.

In love & sisterhood,

~Ang

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I was really excited when Angelina and I decided that our first field trip would be a lecture from Lama Jigme .  His message on compassion and suffering had a similar theme which I’ve often heard in Catholic circles but never fully quite understood.  In the Catholic tradition, suffering is viewed as necessary to expiate sin and immorality; it is also viewed as a means to win souls for God.  If a person offers their daily cross to the Lord, many souls are released from purgatory.

Lama Jigme’s message on the other hand explored true compassion.  He viewed suffering as part of the human experience. For example, if I were to lose a close relative in a car accident, I would unite my pain with the rest of the world and suffer along with those who are experiencing the same tragedy.  In this way I’m not excluding myself from my brothers and sisters but instead I’m becoming part of the one body.

I started to practice his message the very next day.  My regular morning routine is to wake up at 4:30 and hit the shower; right before I get in, as I wait for the water to heat up, I sit on the toilet seat with my head buried in my hands thinking – “how am I ever going to make it past the first hour of work?!”  At that moment, I decided to unite my pain with the rest of the human family as they readied for work.  I felt a bit of the sting start to wear off as my thoughts surrendered the lonely feeling; I was no longer alone in my pain but united with my fellow brothers and sisters who hate getting out of bed as much as I do.

It’s not a life altering example by any means, but it gave me a jumping off point for the future.

Thank you Lama Jigme for helping me see that I am not separate from the human family.

Love,
Ed