It Took Me Coming To Prison

I took a break to finally eat part of my lunch while the group was still going on inside.

It’s curious how long you can go during these visits without eating because you’re more or most hungry for the connection you’ve brought to share and partake in (the idea of this new type of hunger is etched in my cells since fasting solo in the wild for the four days I’ve shared about before and definitely, too, since the visit most recently with His Holiness).

The type of connection I experience here each time is of a brand that stops time. It’s the kind that has made me realize, again and again, what is needed to feel fulfilled in life, no matter what the circumstances and the longing we have of realizing the best of who we are emotionally, creatively and intellectually and being part of helping others realize the same (it’s amazing, but not surprising how my business and brand work with women, this work or even the hospice and refugee work I’ve done all points to the same thing ~ building and developing the self and being more fully seen).

We don’t all deserve to realize the best of who we are today, WE ARE MEANT TO, also and again, no matter the circumstances…

I took my second bite standing outside the hallway that leads onto the yard, looking at each detail more intently than I had at any other visit.

I took in the buildings ~ the dark grey/blue painted A2, A3, A4 numbers, how the gates and barbed wire roll and work, the hues of the guards’ uniforms, the way the bumpy asphalt felt under my feet, how the three, five, then nine, 10, 11, 12 and 13 CO’s stood (in this almost meditative moment, I counted each one), leaned onto the side of the building or drank their coffee and their varying expressions and body language…

This particular place ~ the yard ~ is the place where the guys play basketball, soccer, or volleyball or do burpees, squats or push-ups once a day (as a result of the Compassion Prison Project, the guys told us that basketball games now sometimes happen across race or color lines, the Hispanic guys now play with the African-American guys and vice-versa (this is very big)).

I had seen guys working out in all of the above ways throughout my visits to Kern. But today the yard was eerily quiet due to the lock-down (happens often and this day it was due to a staff shortage).

I was captivated (I’m choosing this word and no other word deliberately) by one sun-stained soccer ball cuddling up to an old net. I consciously allowed myself a long look at that ball, and, maybe not so surprisingly, felt Nolan (I’ve felt him with me most visits, or more specifically, I SEE Nolan in these men)…

In them, I see the young boys still inside…the boys whose houses were not homes — where love, respect and communication were not served at breakfast, lunch or dinner. I see the boys who needed and/or begged for time, to feel safe and supported and to be shown a different way to feel important, heard or powerful.

I also see in them the conscious, emotionally-available and mindful men they are and continue to become…

I see in them all of who they are and I honor the young, the wise, the strong and the vulnerable in them (I also honor the joyful —the life— in them, as these photos of them show).

I would be leaving something out if I didn’t say that it all means a lot, so much that it’s hard to express, to the heart inside this woman who is raising a young man.

It brings up questions, answers, more questions and rather simply, love (in all the ways this can be expressed with affection and guidelines/boundaries and loads of continued conversation) ~ wanting to bring even more of all of it into the life of my guy here at home and more, way more, into the lives of the men at Kern and other prisons.

I stared at the ball for a while longer and my eyes teared up, as they often do during our shares during circle.

Nolan continued to be there, and it reminded me of something I got clear on inside the grief journey after Dino and my Mom passed ~ what if we treated the next person we communed with as the very person we have lost?

In this case, what if in seeing the adult, we also always saw or honored the kid?❤️

Direct shares from two of our guys:
“It’s not about the physical food you bring us, it’s what you guys teach us, you guys are redefining us. You are taking off the protective armor, the pride, the fear and the anger…”

“It took me coming to prison to get to know my mom to be able to forgive her.”❤️

Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life!

Life is good,

 

 

 

Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur 

Video Of My Living Room Now…

Living rooms all around the world are finally being lived in. ⁣

The furniture has been moved, the music on most often, bikes being fixed right there where they may not have been allowed before, each corner of it respectfully loved up, with more candles on and chocolate chip crumbs falling on the floor while dear mister mechanic fixes said bikes, but that part doesn’t matter, did you enjoyyy the cookie? ⁣

⁣❤️

And the light — it’s there, it’s *still* there, you needn’t even invite it in. It simply shows up on cue every day to remind you it lives. That there’s life to be lived…⁣

In these living rooms turned loving rooms (with a little or a lot of “how are we going to do this with the kid(s) home through Summer?” and hey, let me take care of myself when I have to go to the market (because: your bad asthma) and feeling all sorts of ways for so many people, those we know and those we don’t know #tenderheart), we’re getting stronger through it all…we want to be better inside it, through it and on the other side.⁣

May we continue to feel and see the truth of our lives, where we maybe had it wrong, where we can give more, where we can be gentler with ourselves, where we were getting it right (!) — and what and who are most importantly. ⁣

Let us not forget.⁣

⁣🛋 ⁣

You can find the recordings of the last call (#3) by clicking here and here, (the first link is the video live stream and the second is the call recording that we did at the same time).

❤️

Make happiness (or peace or gentleness) your business — even now, during quarantine.

Life is good,

 

 

 

Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur

 

Dalai Lama’s Right Hand Man (and What to Practice While Brushing)

About a month after getting back from India, the majority of us who visited privately with His Holiness started a training on compassion (this morning was the second meeting).

The course was created by Tibetan Buddhist Scholar and His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s principal translator of 30 years, Geshe Thupten Jinpa (we were also honored to learn from Jinpa while at the monastery).

The current training begins inside mindfulness, some reminders to us inside our ongoing practices and some new (the course is lovely and deep).

One of the reminders via some reading given to us was this: the more our minds are anchored in the present moment (learning/practicing mindfulness and meditation, for example), the longer our telomeres are.

🧬
And the longer they are, “the longer the organism’s life span is” (organism = our cells and ultimately us).

This photo was after another nap on the monastic camp that Harmonica, Inc. and my dear friend Katy Saeger created on the first Tibetan Settlement in India after His Holiness’ exile (incredible to sleep under the stars and witness the sunrises here).

One example of the daily homework given to us in the course: as you brush your teeth, notice what you’re thinking about (where does your mind wander?) and pay more attention, perhaps, to all the senses available to *as* you brush…a simple practice like this brings you back to the present.

I’m continually grateful for lightnessand for being able to continually brush up on these practices…

Happy Tuesday!
😄📿⛺️

#happybrushing

Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life!

Life is good,

 

 

 

Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur 

Weekend PSA for Mamas

Weekend PSA for mamas feeling their kid’s transition from kid to teen or to more full teen/young adult…

They’re now, not only making plans without us, they’re making plans we don’t even know about until last minute.

They’re starting to test out all their unique powers (making their own plans is one) and exercise independence and that feeling of freedom we ALL love.

They’re starting/continuing their (own) lives — the way it’s supposed to be and exactly what we wanted to do at their age.

I hear from many friends how hard this time of letting go is and know the feeling myself.

It’s a transition for our kids (both exciting and tough for them, if we’re honest), but it’s most definitely a transition and a new season for us, too (more tough than exciting for us, depending on where we fall on the spectrum that day).

But what I’ve experienced is that I feel the change or loss way less (if at all anymore) when he’s sharing himself with me, stories, thoughts, etc —> so the question is/was, how to get him, not just to talk more, but to share about this life of his (it IS his) —

And not because I am being what would have been called nosy in our own teen years (though, yes, I want to keep him safe), but because I want to keep AND create a new relationship with him, one I’ll want to evolve and dance with until the last day I breathe on this earth and then beyond here, too.

Oh yes, beyond the here, too!

We don’t have to lose our closeness with them — if anything, as parents we can, both organically/naturally and also consciously or strategically create space for something new.

(They want to feel space)

So how do we give it to them and, in the process, create something awesome?

In my world, it’s come from me asking less questions and giving him more answers about myself and about my own life.

How my day is going, what I’m excited or worried about, what’s going right, what I feel is not going so right that I’m working on, essentially, how I would talk to a trusted friend (age-appropriate here and there, but mainly human-to-human appropriate). Over and over again.

I stumbled upon it in a sense. I love to feel connected to the people I love and knew that in these other relationships this came through me sharing more of myself, so that’s what I did even more with him this latest season…

🌳🍊

I’ve done a version of it since he was little, but have upped the ante again since starting high school.

Lo and behold, the more I share about myself and the less I ask about him, the more he shares and shares and shares and shares…

And then, naturally, the more I started to ask him about this or that and receive answers (receive and feel connection, I can feel it fills him deeply, too). He was and is excited to share ~ to be seen, heard and witnessed.

Who doesn’t love that?

Because at the end of the day, it’s not just what we want, it’s what they want to…we all want and need connection, quality attention placed on our stories and feelings, inside SPACE that feels that way {spacious} and without judgement (key)— as in any relationship, romantic, platonic or professional, we sometimes need to get creative (code for — start sharing more of ourselves).

Enjoy your weekend with your people!

[Skiing together a few weeks ago…he said the sun was in his eyes,🌞💛🧑🏻🗣👩🏻].

Make happiness your business by creating your authentic brand…enjoy your business, enjoy your life!

Life is good,

 

 

 

Michelle Ghilotti
Success Designer, Brand Activator & Social Entrepreneur