FABx Stories Worth Telling

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Good Girl, Rebel, Queen

I hear his footsteps going down, down, down the stairs. The front door opens and closes, and I'm alone. Holy crap. I can't do this, but I can't do that either. It was 2010, and I had just asked my husband for a divorce. I thought I'd feel free once I told him. In reality, I was freaking terrified because I had never been alone. Instead, I had spent my life building my cage and squeezing myself inside of it. I had hushed the whispers that said, "This isn't it. You don't fit. You're made for something more." And when I ignited the affair that burned down my marriage, I thought I'd burnt down the cage with it. I thought my time in the cage is done, but I couldn't have been more wrong. And I tumbled into the next relationship. And once again, the cage appeared, and that cycle repeated over and over because, I'm just gonna be real right now, I was not a fast learner. And with every relationship, that cage was getting smaller and tighter and more impossible to exist within until a pivotal relationship born out of a swipe right on Tinder. We fell instantly in love. I loved him. He loved me. We were each other's one. We declared our love to everybody that we knew. Got Facebook official. And six weeks later, it was me that was being asked to walk down those stairs and out that door. And that was the pain that saw me bawling my eyes out on a table after a chi energy release massage, where all the ghosts of my relationships past had revealed themselves to me in a vision. I realized, "It's me. I'm doing this to myself. I'm trying to play all these roles, and they're not working out for me. And I'm just the good girl. And I'm trying so hard to look good enough, to feel good enough, to be good enough." My healer friend, who essentially is my Yoda, was holding me in her arms, and the pain was so much. It was the lowest point of my life. And I was desperate to get out of that cage. I want to ask you something. Have you ever been presented with something that in the past, you just would've said "Absolutely hell no, no way" to, but right now feels like the perfect solution? Yeah. That's where I was at. So when my Yoda mentioned ayahuasca, I didn't ask too many questions. I just said yes. And what opened up for me in that moment was my rebel side. What if I did something that back in 2014 would be a radical action for a regular person to take? What if I took on that ayahuasca journey? What if I decided that all of that societal conditioning was just a bunch of BS and that trying to live an appropriate life is just the cage that we put ourselves in? Because really, I mean, who really wants to live an appropriate life, right? Like, ugh! And yet, we're all so busy trying to be appropriate. So I really only had the very vaguest of ideas of what I was getting myself into. I had heard that you needed to dress all in white. And as the taxi pulled up to the ceremonial space, I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, I'm gonna be with my people. Finally, I'm gonna feel like I belong. And I walked into that space in all my new whites, and everybody else was just dressed in normal clothes. And I realized in that moment, here I am again, just trying to fit in, just trying to be appropriate. Well, I just had that one outfit, and it was a weekend-long thing. So I really just had to style it out. And that was Rebel Initiation Round One. But the ayahuasca journey? That was pure love. I was a baby held in my mother's arms, and I felt so safe, and I felt so beautiful. And I felt so connected. And I cried for all the parts of myself that had forgotten how to love. And I knew what I had to do. Over the next eight months, I gave up my addiction to people-pleasing. I let go of being the good girl. I stopped laying myself out on the sacrificial altar of somebody else's desires. And I gathered all the fractured parts of myself back together and loved them into feeling worthy. And then, as Yoda's do, my Yoda reappeared to help me unlock the last door to the last cage. She showed me that I needed to stop being a servant to a corporate agenda. That I needed to become the queen and put on my freaking crown. And I needed to leave my old job and my old life behind. Through all of this, I have learned, or I have created, in fact, some personal truths. I am here to be a rebel. I am here to be a queen. I did not come here to live in a cage and be dulled down. I came here to command, and we have all been fed a lie that if we play by the rules, we'll be taken care of. But in my experience, it's when I don't play by the rules that love, passion, vibrancy, and luxury become available to me. Thank you.

The Courage to Break Tradition

2005. I'd never seen my father so happy like that before. His eyes were bright, sparkling. He said, "Finally, I have a son in my life." In Bali, we use the patriarchy system. It means the son is like a king. A son can do everything. Everything. My mom only had daughters. She wasn't able to give my father a son. That's why he married again. He married another woman. A Balinese man can marry another woman at the same time. My mom did everything for my dad. As a wife, she was the best wife. A Balinese woman is Wonder Woman. They can do everything. They can do cooking, washing, working, offerings, take care of the children, take care of the husband. They even have to take care of the husband's family. Even with all of that, my dad still left. I was ten years old. My mom said, "I have to go. I have to go to Timor-Leste." I'm like, "What? Timor-Leste? Where is Timor-Leste? And why?" Timor-Leste is a small country. Before, they were part of Indonesia. Right now, they are an independent country. She left quickly. My mom left. My dad left. I only stayed with my sister and my grandma. I looked at all of that. It was not for me. I had to grow up quickly. I had to take care of my sister. And when I had to go to my sister's school, I had to sign her report records. People around me were like, "Hey, what are you doing here? Where is your mom? Where is your dad?" I was like, hell, a little girl. I was like, "Shut up. None of your business." They're like, "Hey, what are you doing here? Where are your parents?" "They're working." And "None of your business. Shut up." I was so mad. I was so mad because why did this happen to my life? Why me? Why? I looked at all of them. It's not for me. I'm not destined to have a life like that. It wasn't for me because of my comment to not become my parents. I went to university. I had a scholarship because I was the national champion of shortboard. Even though I had a scholarship, I still had to pay for my college—for my books, living costs, and gas. And do you know who paid for that? It was my mom. She paid for me and my sister's college to make sure we got an education. In college, I started learning English. I read English books even though I didn't understand. English books, listening to music, watching YouTube because I wanted to improve my English. I even signed up to Tinder. Oh my God! How can I improve my English? How can I speak English very well? Because I just want to. Okay, I didn't learn anything on Tinder! Because of my comment to become an entrepreneur, I'm a modern woman who will marry with modern man. I started writing it down into my dream book. Oh my God. Excited. Modern man will come to my life soon. He's from a different country, from another country. He's tall—180. I know exactly what I want! Sorry. He has a beard and glasses. Oh my God. He's older than me. (Hi!) Why not? He's ten years older than me. I'm twenty-four. And he's sweet and will treat me like a queen. Oh my God. And then the most important thing is he's not stingy. Hell no. Please. No, he will treat me like a queen, right? Not stingy. And I believe he will come to my life soon. He will find me here in Bali and say, "Julia, will you marry me?" Oh my God. So excited. Woo-hoo! I'm a university graduate. My mom had to come home because of COVID-19. And then, for the first time, I looked in her eyes, and I asked her, "Hey, why did you leave me? Why? Why did you leave me like this?" She just held my hand. She started crying. "Darling," she said, "darling, I always knew there was something about you. I always knew you were different. I always knew you are a leader. I had to go to Timor-Leste. In Timor-Leste, they have US dollars so I could make money for you and your sister. And I had to make sure you got an education and not end up like me. I want you to be a strong woman, a smart woman—not like me. I just accepted everything that my husband did. My husband tried to kill me. My husband threw a knife. My husband hit me, punched me in front of you. I don't want you to end up like me. You deserve to have a great life. That's why I had to go to Timor-Leste for fifteen years." And I was crying. Oh my God, I used to judge my mom. I used to just think, Why did you leave me like this? I used to judge her. And then for me, she made a hard decision to leave me, to leave her family for fifteen years just so me and my sister got an education. And I just realized the best part of me is because of my mom. The independent woman that you see in front of you is because of my mom. This is the best gift that she has given to me. I just wanna say to you guys, Balinese women, we are strong. We are like Wonder Woman. Please. It's not time to be silent anymore. You have to say something. Please say no. If you are not safe, or don't feel safe anymore, or don't feel comfortable, say, "I wanna divorce." Say it like that. This hard decision might break the culture, but can you stay in a jail for a long time? No. Hell no. And because of that, I don't want a Balinese woman to have a life like my mom, because I saw my mom cry every night and then had to leave me and make a hard decision because she just wanna do the best for me—for my future. You have to do something. A hard decision might break the culture. But it's now or never. Today isn't too late. My mom sits here. I invited my mom. I never said I was going to speak in public. No, I just said, "I just wanna invite you for dinner, Mom." Sorry, Mom. Sorry. I don't wanna cry. I don't wanna mess up my makeup. Sorry. She is here right now. Hi Mom, and my sister. Thank you so much for everything. I will do everything to make you happy. I'm a woman, but I'm more strong than ten men. I am, please! I'm your daughter. I'm your honor. I love you so much, Mom. I love you so much, Sister. Don't cry. Don't cry.

The Water Warrior

Lombok, September 20th, 2018. It has been one and a half months since the terrible earthquake of August 5th struck the island claiming 563 lives and made half a million people homeless. I was driving up this hill in northwest Lombok. Our mission was to bring water filters to this village, quite isolated. The road was winding and quite steep. Our car had to get back in first gear a couple of times. What I just saw was incredible. There was no house standing anymore. We saw only rubble. There's bricks, bricks, rubble, metal bars. No house. Like a war zone. Finally, after forty-five minutes and the last bend, the village appeared. As soon as we got out of the car people were very happy to see us. Came and almost hugged us. No COVID time then! It was a very isolated village, so people hadn't seen other people for a long time. The wind was blowing very strongly, and a lot of dust on top of this hill. On the left hand side, I saw a communal kitchen. And then I was asking the people, "What has been your main issue? What happened since the earthquake?" "Well access to water, to clean water." And then the terrible news struck. Two babies had just died from diarrhea. That night back in my hotel room in the city in Mataram, I was still devastated. I couldn't sleep. I found myself crying, actually. And suddenly, it all made sense to me. All these questions I'd been asking myself for so many years. "How can I give back? How can I be of service?" It just all made sense to me suddenly. I did the right thing. Well, this year's transitioning well, this month, transitioning from corporate world to social entrepreneurship, all these doubts, these fears was just a process to go through. I realized that was the right thing to do. I'm not a doctor, but I save lives. Two weeks later, we went back up to that village to check on the kids and the babies, and they were fine. So water is life, and access to clean water is a human right. I'm privileged to be able to bring this beautiful gift to the communities here in Indonesia with my filtration systems. Right now, since the pandemic started, there is another disaster. It's more like an economic disaster. A lot of people have lost jobs. So when the pandemic struck a couple of months ago, I was just wondering, "What can I do to help the communities in need, or what would be the thing to do?" And that filters were the answer once more because with them you just save money. You don't need to buy water, and you also basically don't need to boil it. It's just basically free and, in these difficult times, every penny saved counts. So I decided to launch a fundraiser end of April early May, a couple of months ago, for the water filters. It's been quite successful. I raised about 30,000 plus dollars until now, which represent fifteen hundred units for fifteen hundred families. But yeah, that's all nice, but then comes the most difficult part. It's the execution. So where to bring them? Who really needs them most on this beautiful island? So I believe in the power of collaboration, and together we are stronger. So I reached out, and I've worked since the last four months with about twenty different organizations, which are mainly supplying food or seeds to grow vegetables or some people who provided land plots, and together we bring food or the seeds and the water filters. So people can save money and basically don't have to buy water. I have been to places that I've never imagined would exist on this island to, let's say, houses and dwellings that I thought, "How can that exist?" People were actually a little bit shy to show their places. So it's a lot of places. These are for sure in Bali, in the west of Bali, but also in the city in Denpasar and people, not only Balinese people, but also people from Java, from Sumba, from Timor, which have jobs where they have all lost also income due to COVID like for instance, waste pickers, street food vendors, and drivers. So, these people have all been through this. And now the other day, actually it was one and a half weeks ago, I went to Denpasar to Padangsambian together with Crisis Kitchen, which is one of the organizations I work with. And this lady was there. This old lady was there sitting. And so I sat next to her, and I started to ask her how she was doing. And she was like having a smile and saying, "Oh, thank you for bringing some food and water so we can go through a couple of more weeks." And then what she said struck me, like she said, "You know, I had a stroke four years ago. I don't want to depend on my son the whole time. I have no friends. Thank you for being my friend." And I was like, wow. So then I realized that small acts of kindness can really change people's life. I hope my story inspired you. And I'm just asking you to do a bit more small acts of kindness every day. You never know what it means to people. Thank you.

How a Nuclear Accident Saved My Life

It's March 2014, and I'm standing in the middle of Sanur Bypass. It's Bali's busiest road. And I'm praying that a truck runs me down. I've lost seven members of my family, and the recent deaths of my niece and my sister have devastated me. I've been suicidal for six months, unable to eat or sleep. And I just snapped. But nobody would guess that to look at my life now. I've had a really charmed life. And I think most people just assume that I've breezed through it, sort of leaving a trail of golden bubbles in my wake. Some of you know I'm a jeweler, but the truth is, and I'm taking a risk to say this, I've struggled with the label of mental illness all my life. And I say label for a very important reason, which you will find out. Society has stigmatized and shamed us by saying we're crazy. We're bipolar. You've heard it all. It's still a really scary thing, as you can see, to say this just in front of this small group. At twenty, I was diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder. That spells SAD, and that must be some kind of cruel joke, right? About half of every year, I looked good on the outside, but I was dying on the inside. On a depressive scale of 1 to 10, I was a suicidal 10, but only in the fall and the winter. In the spring and summer, I was carefree, happy-go-lucky, energetic, very creative, very productive. A psychiatrist blamed repressed trauma and genetics because all my family was also depressed. When it came on every fall, it felt like someone was injecting me with a feel-bad drug. And I told the psychiatrist that, but their answer was always medicine, prescribe. They were incentivized to do that. So they dosed me with pharmaceuticals to dull the pain rather than investigate possible causes and perhaps even find a cure. I'm just gonna take a moment and ask how many of you in this room have been affected by somebody's mental illness, yours or anybody you know, depression, anything? That's all but one person. I'm just gonna give you a few statistics. Here's a reality check. Globally depression is epidemic. In January 2020, the WHO claimed that 17 percent of Americans are clinically depressed. And that was before the lockdown. Imagine what it is now. Economic losses are $210 billion annually. That's more than Jeff Bezos is worth. While the medical mafia reaps the profits, which have doubled from 14 billion last year - let this sink in - to 28 billion in the first eight months of 2020. Yet, there's no discussion about the cause. And there's no talk of any cure. Why do they say it's incurable? Sorry. I digressed. Back to my suicide attempt. Obviously, I was not killed. The cars went around me as the Balinese do - very good drivers. Nobody even honked - seriously. I stood there for five minutes, waiting. Didn't happen, thank God. That winter of 2014 was a total blur. I can't even tell you how I survived it, but I am so glad I did. That April, like clockwork, my depression lifted. And I got back on social media and found messages from friends. Some who were in my childhood neighborhood saying how sorry they were that I'd lost my family. And that a large part of their family had died too. And also, almost all the neighbors on the street had had cancer. And I started thinking, "That's weird." It was really rural and beautiful agricultural land in the San Fernando Valley, outside of Los Angeles in the fifties and sixties. What happened? Was there a pesticide dump or something? So I just went on Google, and I typed in San Fernando Valley cancer clusters. And up came dozens of stories that shocked me to my core. Six miles from my family home, there was America's first nuclear plant, which had been kept secret from the public. From 1959 to 1969, it had three partial meltdowns. The first one was the worst. It totaled more radiation than Three Mile Island by 450 times. They didn't have any containment facility. They just opened the doors and let it all out over the population. Sorry. It's really emotional for me. So I just sat there cold and shaking. I now understood the mystery deaths of my parents, my sister, her daughter, my grandparents, and why my only remaining family member had had cancer, including thyroid cancer, when she was twelve, three times. The next day I went down to a holistic doctor, and I got a provoked heavy metal test. We had to use a binding agent called a chelator to pull out the toxins to get an accurate reading. Our bodies are so smart. They encapsulate toxins that we can't eliminate in specialized fat cells. And they store them there to protect our vital organs. My tests showed cesium, strontium, plutonium, many other radioactive nuclides, and glyphosate, on and on, you know the list - mercury, lead. But the mystery thing was my manganese levels were completely off the chart. There's a red column, which indicates really bad levels - danger danger. My manganese levels were in the margin of the paper. They were literally outside of that. The doctor said, "Well, this only comes from mining or welding." I said, "I assure you I've done neither." He said, "Well, there's no other cause so . . . it doesn't come from nuclear accidents." We got online. I said, "There has to be another cause." We scoured the internet. Didn't come up with anything but mining and welding. The five things that happen when you're manganese poisoned are Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, seizure disorder, autoimmune disease, and guess what? Chronic depression. So there was my poisoning that I'd always felt I'd had, and I'd told the psychiatrist, "I feel like I've been poisoned." And I was, but now the mystery was how. For months I didn't give up. I scoured the internet. I asked every doctor, every medical professional. I followed rabbit holes of scientific journals. I couldn't find an answer. And then, in 2016, a fateful trip to Bangkok where I met an American man who was also a victim of conspiracy. His name was Brian Dardzinski, and he owned a little clinic there next to Bumrungrad Hospital. He was a vaccine researcher, and he'd been drummed out of America. But that's another story. He said to me, "I do know one other source of manganese poisoning. Did you live in Arizona or New Mexico?" I said, "No. Why?" He said, "Because rocket testing produces manganese in the fuel particulate that people can breathe." I got chills again. I said, "I lived in the San Fernando Valley where there was Rocketdyne, which was right next to the secret nuclear plant." And he said, "That's it. How long did you live there?" I said, "Twenty years. And I remember as a kid, every night the sky looked like opals." He said, "Those colors represented all the toxins that were floating down on you." He said, "The good news is we can get those toxins out of you. And you'll likely be cured of your depression. But the bad news is it'll take two to five years to do that." So off I went back to Bali with my detox kit, and I own a far-infrared sauna, which is the single most important detox item a person can have. I highly recommend it. I knew that sweating was a way to eliminate toxins. So I added two sessions a day of infrared sauna. And I also added twenty minutes on my rebounder jumping up and down for twenty minutes, which works your lymphatic system and cleanses your tissues that way. So guess what? In seven months, I went back to that clinic. I had a friend who was going through some cancer therapy, and I said, "Brian, I feel great. I think I'm done." And he said, "No, no, come back in fifteen months. You're not done yet. No way." "Please take my test." He wouldn't. So I went to my friend's clinic. They took my test. All clean. Everything, clean, clean, clean. I went back to Brian. He said, "How'd you do that?" I told him how I did it. So he said, "Congratulations. Now you can get yourself off your meds." In one month, I weaned myself off medication I'd been taking for forty years. This month is my five year ‘sanity-versary.’ No meds, no depression, five years. Thank you. So I'd like to inspire all of you into action today to become an advocate for your own health and your own sovereignty. Even if you feel perfectly fine, you can enhance the quality of your life, your energy levels, your stamina. I'm sixty-four now. I feel like I'm twenty-four. I have never felt better in my life. Especially the strength of your immune system. It's super important right now with COVID-19 to strengthen your immune system. And that can happen when you rid yourself of the toxins that you acquire from life and hidden poisons that we can't even see. So my message is twofold. Listen to your intuition and never ever, ever give up looking for the truth. I'm actually grateful for my . . .oh, God, I just got chills all over. I'm actually grateful for my experience with the nuclear accident, which led to my new purpose in life. I'm currently creating awareness with activism and satire - humorous songs, but I'm also building a detox and wellness center in Ubud called Lumina. I want to help other people achieve optimum health. Thank you so much for listening.

Sing Your Song

I will take you on a magical journey into the womb of creation. After this, you might start hanging out with your unicorn, have your spirit team make you breakfast, swim with mermaids, or ride your golden and silver dragon into the sunset. Would you join me? And even if not, you can plug in your ears and listen in. It will do the trick anyway. It was the day of my birthday, and I was in Australia, and my womb said "Adventures." The womb is the part of the lower belly where the ovaries are, where women bleed from, where babies grow, and believe it or not, even you men here have a womb - not physical but energetic. So she said, "Adventures." I was like, "Okay." I knew something powerful, and fun, and mystical was about to happen. A few minutes later, I set on a mission to find a tea tree lake. This lake is said to be an ancient sacred Aboriginal site where women would give birth. Aboriginals are the native Australians. And one of my dear friends, who is also an Aboriginal, she said, "It's women's business there." And my womb was like a puppy's ears when you say a treat. I'm like, "Yeah. Okay!" And like this, I learned to follow her to the most amazing places all around the world, and like this, I followed her to meet the most incredible people on this planet. Some are sitting right here. So there I went. That day a soft drizzle was touching my skin as I 'Lara Croft' my way through the Aussie bush. It was beautiful. The whole space was silent. It was a vacuum silence. I could only hear my steps through the mud and stepping on the branches. Otherwise, deep, deep silence. I followed the path of the ancient trees that I could smell. And then I saw the lake, and I was like, "Yes, yes, yes, yes. It's here." I also was really well aware that this was a sacred site and that I was not there alone. I dropped down on my knees, and I put my hand barely touching the surface of the water. And I asked, "Can I come in?" Do you know what I heard back? "No!" "Hey, like what do you mean, no? I'm so wet. I have leaves in my hair. I have branches in my hair, and I came here for my birthing ritual, and what?" Well, I did my next favorite thing. I got butt naked. I sat down by the bank of the lake by a tree, my root chakra tickled, and I started to take deep breaths. I took a breath into my vagina. If I was in a male body, I would take a breath into my testicles. Then I took a breath into my womb, into my belly, into my heart, into my throat, into my forehead, and my crown and back. And slowly, little by little, my body started to soften. I felt the support of the tree, and then I felt vibration rising up my body, bubbling up. "Ooh, ooh," I sounded, and it was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard in my life. Waves of joy started to flood my body. Bliss and love. And every cell of my body was remembering. I was in these waves, receiving the song of my soul. And as I was enjoying myself, I heard the lake whisper, "Thank you for your offering. Now you can come in." So I did. I'm like, "Okay. Yes." Well, I jumped right in. It was this deep, so it wasn't much of a swimming party, but it definitely was a pleasure party. I dropped down. I covered myself in blood . . . blood too different time . . . with mud, blood only when bleeding, mud when I'm in the lake. And I danced, and then as I was leaving, just gently touching the surface of the water, I felt so much gratitude. I walked out, and I was born again. On the way home, I remembered a story from Africa, from tribes in Africa, where women, when they are three months pregnant, they go and sit by a tree. And it is said that at that moment, the soul enters the body, the baby, and the woman sits by the tree until she receives the song of this baby of the soul. How amazing is that? And then she teaches that song to her husband, and together then they teach that song to the whole village. And when the baby is born, they sing that song to the baby. And whenever there's a celebration, they all together sing that song. And when that human, if ever steers off the path, they take him or her, with her in the middle or him human, and create a circle. And they sing that song for that human to remember again where they came from, where the home is. Yeah. I was not born knowing or remembering my song. And the chances are, if you were born in any of the Western countries to a muggle family or into a muggle family, you were not reminded of your song either. I spent years searching. I have been to over seventy countries all around the world, searching for what? Love, freedom to fill in the holes of insecurities. For some, it might look like being in a job that they don't like or in a relationship, or it might simply feel like an imaginary eggshell that's around you. Right? Little did I know until then that I was searching for the orgasmic sound of my soul. And when I say orgasmic, what do I mean? Most of us were conceived by at least one orgasm. Hopefully, it was two. Yeah, exactly. So this vibration that we were conceived in, the orgasmic sound, is the sound that we can hear. And it carries with us along our life and along our journey. And it is very, very quiet deep within. Today I wonder what is the song that you want to sing?

Togetherness and Why It Matters

Tonight I'm gonna talk about why togetherness matters. And I wanted to do that by telling you three short stories of journeys in my life and experiences that I've had and why I believe that. So the first of those stories begins in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1980 when I attended a survival gathering of the Lakota - the indigenous people of that area - on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. And this survival gathering was all about people from all over the world, environmentalists, activists, Native American leaders coming together to defend the land of the Lakota. The Lakota had experienced 200 years of colonialism. Four hundred and eighty treaties were made by the government, and every single one was broken by the government, not by the Lakota. So here they were in this situation. There was uranium under the ground, and that's what the people wanted. So they were there to fight for their lands. And when I was standing there, I was watching on the stage a young Lakota woman dancing, and there were some Lakota elders playing the sacred drum. This was an incredible sound. And this young Lakota woman was dancing, and her long black hair was trailing in the wind. It was one of the most beautiful things I've seen, and I still remember it very clearly today. But as she was dancing, this very scary thing happened. A B-52 bomber flew low over the top of the stage. There was an air force base nearby. And I think it was a deliberate attempt by these people to say, "We're the boss. We're gonna take your land." But I felt with that sense of togetherness with these people from all over the world, with the same passion, with the same desire to work together, to protect their land, that it was possible. I want to go forward about ten years to 1990. We'd just come through ten years or more of, I guess, the Cold War or America pointing nuclear missiles at Russia. And I was taught growing up that Russians were the enemy. And I could never quite understand that. I'd never met a Russian person. And I was always wondering "Why are they the enemy? What's so bad about these Russians. Why do they want to destroy us? Why do they want to blow us up and destroy our way of life and everything else?" But I realized that I had to go there to find out for myself. So I was able to organize a private invitation to visit the Ukraine, which was part of Russia at that time. And I was invited by a woman by the name of Mira. Mira means peace. And she was head of the People's Diplomacy club in this town. But before I went to Krivoy Rog, I had this crazy idea with my wife Steph, who's sitting down here tonight, to cycle from Europe to Russia and carry an Earth flag, which represents the Earth and oneness - that we only have one planet and together we must protect it. So we cycled through Europe and Eastern Europe, and we got to Russia. And then we took a train to Red Square in Moscow, and we unfurled the Earth flag. All these people looked at us kind of strange. "What are you doing?" "What's all this about?" So we explained that we had some media coverage. And then we went down to Krivoy Rog, and we met the family, the Russians, and we spent ten days with Mira, her family, her friends, and every day we got into these incredible conversations, explaining about our life, how we lived in the West. They told us all about life and Russia, all the difficulties they had, their dreams, their loves - all that was important to them. And we told them what ours were. And on the last day, they put on this lunch for us, and there were Cossacks, and there were World War II veterans. And there were young Russian people - Ukrainians - and teenagers. And we had this incredible experience. And when we went to leave, when we finished that lunch - we were leaving the next day - we embraced with the most incredible love and feeling and devotion and respect - respect for each other. And again, at that moment, I realized that togetherness really matters. And the third story is an experience in Indonesia about eight years ago. And I was traveling with six Australian men up the rivers of Borneo in North Kalimantan. We were traveling on canoes up this river with engines on the back. And we were going up to this village called Setulang up in the original rainforest of Kalimantan. 130 million years old, the oldest rainforest on the planet. So we were going to this village for the first time. We were gonna spend a few days with the Dayak people, with the indigenous tribes of that area. And as we were traveling up this river, and I want you to just kinda come with me on this part of the journey. So we're traveling up on these boats, the sun setting coming down through the trees, two hornbills, which are the sacred birds of the Dayak, flew in front of us, in front of our path, which is a very good omen. And then we came around the bend in the river, as we entered into the village. And there was about fifty of the Dayaks all lined up waiting for us in their traditional costumes. So happy to welcome us. These strangers from a country, Australia, New Zealand, whatever, they'd probably never heard of, but they were there to welcome us. And they were so honored that we'd come to their village. And then, for the next six days, they took us into the forest. We stayed in the forest. They danced. They sang. So much joy, so much connectedness, so much togetherness over those few days. And we got to understand about the way that they live their spiritual connection with the forest. And, of course, we tell them about our lives. And this was an incredible experience. And again, when we went to leave, we were like family. We were family. But we left with some sense of sadness because what future do they have? You know, palm oil. I'm sure you know all about that. It's coming into those areas. But I really felt then, and I certainly believe it now that together we can make a difference. Together we can save those forests. We can help them preserve their culture. So coming to today, I decided to sort of put all this together. And what do we do with togetherness? How can we make it really impactful? So I decided to start a project called The Togetherness Project. And part of the reason why we're here tonight, The Togetherness Project is all about working together with people from different countries, nationalities, cultures, Balinese, Indonesians, Bule, foreigners from many different countries like you all are tonight. And I really believe that if we can put our minds together, our creativity, our passion, our beliefs, we can do wonderful things. I think on this island in particular, during this time, it's such an incredible opportunity to do that, to forge a really powerful sustainable future on this island. And I think of what we've done so far with The Togetherness Project bringing back the traditions through the ikat, through the weaving revival, which you've seen tonight. That's probably one good example, where there's twenty-five women now in the community of Pesalakan, and they're employed, that stopped doing the ikat weaving twenty-five years ago, but have now brought it back and created some income during this time. The honey farm up in Karangasem. The traditional coffee in Munduk. We're supporting organic farmers here - indigenous farmers in Bali. If anybody wants to have their land turned into an organic farm, we're providing that service and supporting the local people as well. We're organizing events. The first one's gonna be next month in October. So I really, really hope that all of you can get involved in some way. I mean, just tonight, you can buy a Bag of Hope if you wish. These sell for 850,000, and all that money goes to support the communities. So I really believe that togetherness does matter and we can all play our part. Thank you.

Deconstructing Identity Labels

As I appear before you, start to notice what impressions begin to form. What does my attire say about me? The sound of my voice, my stature, my skin color? My name is Nadine McNeil. I'm from Jamaica, where I lived until I was sixteen years old. In 1982 I headed off to Ontario, Canada - first time leaving Jamaica - where I would join a private all-girls Catholic school, Holy Name of Mary High School. There were 325 students. Three were black. Tracey, who was born in Canada, who ran track and field, myself, and my Caribbean sister Jackie from Grenada. And we got teased because we had this singsongy voice. Anyway, our fellow students would often ask us, "Did you live in a hut in Jamaica?" or "Did you wear grass skirts?" A couple of years later, I'm living in New York City. Anyone here from New York? Yeah. So it's rush hour. I'm on the D train, and the train is packed, and we're all like this, and we're right up against each other. And I said something to the woman standing next to me, and she goes, "Bitch get off me. Go back to your country where you came on your banana boat." And I went, "Oh shit." Now what was interesting was that woman and I shared a skin color. So, then I began to understand what the term racialism means. Racialism is essentially a softer version of racism, but there are more nuances that are mixed up in it. And so began my story of internalizing, silencing stereotypes, labels, identity. This would continue throughout my life. And even when I worked at the United Nations, an organization whose premise is founded on equality and inclusion, I would meet these statements and these stereotypes and these limiting beliefs. And then, when I would try to share with my colleagues my experience, I'd get about three responses. One would be, "Are you sure you heard correctly?" The other one would be, "Nah, that's not what they meant." The third one would be, "They must have been joking." So I was gaslit up the yin yang. You know, coming from Jamaica - I'm an only child - I was raised by two married parents. And up until that point, moving to Canada and then New York, I identified with my high school where I lived. The values my parents instilled in me were study hard, work hard, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And for God's sakes, don't get pregnant out of wedlock. So, here we are, 2020 living while black, and we're still having these conversations. There's a tendency to be uncomfortable about having the conversations, but how do we defy, dismantle the stereotypes without the conversations? Yes, I am a Black woman. Sometimes I'm angry. Other times I'm sad. My heart breaks that we're still having this conversation one hundred years after the abolition of slavery . . . or more. So my call to action standing here before you is that we start to pause. Think about the labels that we identify ourselves with, the assumptions we make based on what people look like. Nadine McNeil educated in Canada, the United States, and Europe. My CV arrives across your desk. And then I come through the door. "Oh shit. How do I put these two things together?" This is what happens when we fall into the danger of a single story. A Nigerian author, Chimamanda Adichie, talks about this. And she says the danger of the single story is not so much that it's inaccurate. It's the fact that it's incomplete. So we see someone, we make some decisions and assumptions about that person. We treat that person on that basis, and we've lost a whole opportunity to learn so much more. My repeated experience, no matter where I've lived in the world, is that ultimately we all want to be seen, heard, and loved. Thank you very much.

SHE is on FIRE, I Will Let HER Speak

So I would like to share a story with you today about power. And this what you can see - it's not that I'm nervous. It's because my yoni is on fire. But it hasn't been like that always. So I let her now speak. When I was twenty-two, I ended up in Nepal meeting a guru. I was innocently devoted and dedicated to be the pure tool for good, so I could serve and heal, and I would say, to save this world. How dangerous that can be. So the first day I arrived there, I was taken to his room. And first, his assistant said, "You need to be cleared, so you can work with him." And how was that? I was put onto the bed. He had his hands choking my neck, and he fucked me like a rabbit. I didn't know what to do. I didn't have anyone there. And no one actually knew where I was because I was told to not say where this sacred pilgrimage would take place. During that month, as much as I had experienced this hardcore abuse, rape, control, and manipulation, in the same time, I had experienced the beauty of the stupa and the people praying there, living in the Buddhist temple, hearing the sound of the gongs. So it was confusing to me. I went back to Czech. I made it home, but I was destroyed. And there was a moment which was, for me, was the turning point, when I saw another sister was beaten. When another sister was yelled at. When another sister was disempowered. And so I knew in the moment when I was facing death, after not sleeping the whole night as I was cleaning his flat, and I was driving back to my unit, and I fell asleep, and I woke up, and the truck was in front of me. I knew I will either die or I have to get out. It wasn't easy, but I came out. I fell into a deep depression. I really didn't want to be there. I was devastated. And in that time, I received a blessing from my father, picking me up from my room, looking in my eyes and saying, "I don't know what's happening. I don't know what you need to change but change it. And remember, you are my daughter, and we will never give up." So in the new year under the stars, I said, "Okay, I want to know what a life is. I want to live." And I set myself on a really profound journey. Little did I know what was ahead of me. So not like most people coming here to Bali. With a divine orchestration and profound synchronicities, I came here actually to forget about spirituality. Such a cosmic joke. And I came to study traditional Balinese dance. My child's dream was to just dance. And so I did, and I fulfilled my dream. I danced in a concert in Surabaya. National TV was there. I was in the newspapers. I danced in the exhibition, and I was dancing as a Czech woman traditional Balinese dance. And then I was even initiated by the priest in a small village, close to the waterfall, to that sacred dance to be the vessel for the divine to transmit its message to the tribe. So then I said, "Okay." In another new year, I said, "I want to know what spirituality is. Show me." In a week I met my teacher. And a few months later, I went to my first yoga teacher training. I was doing yoga from four o'clock in the morning. I was eating just raw food, and I was surrounded by epic, amazing human beings who didn't punish me, who weren't screaming at me, who weren't abusing me, who were showering me with so much love. And I don't know what the space was in that, you know, divine constellation. But there was one night when in the Anahata Resort, I went down to my room and I just laid down and boom, suddenly I entered the space, the dimension, where I knew myself in all there is. And I knew myself as that profound nothing. And then coming back, I witnessed the formation of this beautiful body. Like, wow, such a miracle. And I took that breath, and here I was again. But different. Something had changed. I didn't have any clue what just happened. I went back up to have dinner, and I was speaking to one of my teachers, Simon, and I was, you know, trying to put it into words, and he was just looking at me. And I just knew in that moment that he can't meet me there. So from that moment, I was on a high-speed road, like really, really high speed, like the speed of light. And I was like, where is that fan? Like when you're in front of the fan, and everything is shredding away. So I was healing. I was healing, and I was healing. And I just had this love pulsing inside of me. And I didn't have any clue, you know, what to do with it. But then I put it into creating the retreats because I just so felt I wanted to give it to others. Like I wanted others to experience that. So I created the conditions. I created a project called Your Life. So retreats with raw food, yoga, and different healing modalities as I had experienced that magic or miracle through me. Later on, I created a company, which was and still is devoted and dedicated to serve high vibrational plants to bring the health and wealth back into our bodies; to bring back that power into our hands so we can raise and remember that grace. And I saw like, you know, I'm on the purpose. I have nailed it. But there was that like, "Hey, but what about your sexuality?" You know what I'm speaking about? Right? So I dived in. I dived fully with the desire and knowing that I can, you know, experience myself through another and with the desire that I can experience the good with another. So not just that I could, you know, orgasm by myself, I could like pleasure myself, but then to really surrender into the hands of another. So, tick! And little I knew that later on, I will meet another guru, and little I knew that that would be the big initiation to really own and claim that divine power, that holy spirit, THE self, or whatever name you want to put on it as me in all its versions. And really receive myself, receive myself fully with all its shadows, with all its light and turn in to that family inside of me, to that holy child, which is quite epic, bringing me all the way here. Same as that orgasmic place, and the presence through which I can deliver this. And so the last thing. I just saw this quote, and I had to write it down, and it says, "Buddhatvam Yosityonisamasritam." I don't know if I have written it right. It means "Enlightenment is in your yoni." Or like enlightenment is in your sexual organ. So it doesn't matter if it is the yoni or the penis. But I want to inspire you to really dig in. To come down. So then you can REALLY rise up. Thank you.

Breaking Free

It's the morning of the big day. A festival to celebrate the anniversary of the new Innovation Lab, the greatest achievement of my career at the global economic powerhouse, the IMF. I've been in the auditorium since 6.00 a.m. setting everything up with my team. We're about to open the doors for the opening ceremony. And when we do, a flood of gray/black suits are gonna come in. I'm so enjoying the contrast that I've created, with the bright pink and yellow and teal balloons throughout this space. My vision has come to fruition, and I can't wait to see how people react. As the suits begin to walk in, my excitement builds. The managing director, one of the most powerful women in the world, takes the microphone. She says, "I want to recognize the person that made this all happen." I stand up a little bit straighter, and I'm ready to step forward. And then she says the name Travis Wagner. Now, just to be clear, that is not my name! As I graciously clap for Travis, my heart sinks. You see, two years ago, I had it made. I had the sexy red sports car with the sunroof and the Bose sound system, a walk-in closet overflowing with sheath dresses and heeled shoes, and other First World essentials, a UN-issued blue badge that whisked me past barricades and security guards and inside the headquarters of the global financial empire in Washington, D.C. A pretty much guaranteed paycheck for the rest of my life. Acquaintances, accessories, and assurances—I had it all. I'd always loved the world of business in the marketplace. My dad taught me the value of working hard, and he clued me in that the point of life was to stay busy. Turns out I was amazing at both of those. I remember one of my first summer jobs. I'm sixteen years old, driving in bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic, but I don't care because I have a job, and I'm in love with the glamor of the nine-to-five routine. I'm listening to the morning radio, the windows down, drinking my French Vanilla Dunkin' Donuts coffee, and I can't wait to arrive in the office. As I walk in, I smell coffee. I hear the clicking of keyboards and the chatter of gossip from the odd cast of characters around me, and this warm feeling of familiarity rushes over me. I'm part of a community. I have a place. I belong. After that, I had a whole string of blue-collar jobs. I just loved the fact that I could walk in, get myself hired, and start getting a paycheck, whether it was at the gas station, fast-food restaurant, the clothing store at the mall. By the time I finished college, I had at least twenty jobs on my résumé. Soon I found myself in the capital of the United States at a fancy new job building my career. I worked hard. I had a title. I had an office. I had a reputation. And yet, despite having more than I'd ever had before, more success, more security, more opportunity, I couldn't help but notice that as time went on, something was missing. I wasn't happy. Somewhere along the way, I'd lost that spark. I remember talking to my dad one day, and he said, "Do you think you'd ever be able to go back to waiting tables?" He knew how much I'd loved working at this trendy Italian restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara at the end of college. And then I thought about it for a minute. And I realized that no. I'd become jaded and entitled. And the higher I climbed, the more my ego was all up in it. I didn't recognize the woman that I'd become. For more than a decade, I had been trading my time, my energy, and most importantly, my passion for someone else's idea of success. While I was playing this game of validation and acceptance and making money like everybody else around me, it was sapping my energy and suffocating my soul. Life was passing me by while I was languishing inside these polished concrete walls of compromise. I was living someone else's dream. So that morning, when I heard Travis's name announced on the microphone, it was both heartbreaking and the permission I needed to walk away. Three months and two tantra events later, I'm standing on the curb at Dulles International Airport, waving goodbye to my brother and sister. I've sold my car, packed my life into a storage unit, and handed over my responsibilities at the Innovation Lab. You see, what not everyone knew about me was that I had a double life. Part of me was Sensible Susan, who loved structure, followed the rules, and knew how to get the job done. The other part of me was this woo-woo wild woman, the insatiably curious seeker who wanted to taste and experience life fully. I'd been dipping my toe in that woo-woo river for many years, but now I had the freedom to jump in fully. And once I unlocked that door, there was no stopping me. Just like those jobs back in high school, college, I was taking it all in. I was traveling around the world, dancing at festivals, signing up for workshops, trying the latest tantra techniques, checking out all the spiritual hotspots. I was alive. You see, Sensible Susan had been delivering on someone else's dream and playing the game pretty well, but it wasn't until I gave myself to that wild woman fully that I started really living my own life. I started discovering what abundance means to me. Who am I? And what do I value when the old identity and everything familiar has been stripped away? What's left? What is worthy of my time and my energy? Earlier this year, I moved to Bali. I traded my high heels for flip-flops, those concrete walls for the jungle canopy, and the crush of bureaucracy for the cushion of heart-centered community. I found freedom. I found connection. I found incredible beauty and celebration and that magic I'd been craving. And most of all, I've been dreaming whole new dreams about what's possible for myself and the planet and starting to build that new paradigm from my own vision, weaving a new world into existence in every moment and living life on my own terms. I'm part of a project team that's about to launch something epic. It's gonna change the world, and I'm supposed to be sitting down talking about strategy. And instead, I'm stirring this huge pot of cacao and making sure that it's just the right blend of sweet and spicy. And just like those balloons at the party back then, I'm putting my own special magic into this place. This is how I wanna show up right now. The difference between then and now is that I don't need validation for my cacao and for my wild woman. She's fully present, fully accepted, fully integrated. And at that moment, I realize that I've broken free. Free from that constraint of societal programming and free from living someone else's life because, let's face it, if I was listening to that programming, I should be married by now. I should have full-grown kids. I should have a car, and a mortgage, and a pile of debt that I'm working my way out of. And guess what? I'm not. I'm not even wearing a bra.
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