Fertile Compassion: Let the Orphan Feed the Dream

By on November 12, 2010

What a fabulously fertile weekend in San Francisco! As always I fell madly in love with the group that came together at the Hilton, and can’t wait to connect with everyone again.

Initially the trip was centered around the Turn It Around Project and the gathering at the Golden Gate Bridge in celebration of the International Day of Compassion.

And boy did we learn our Compassion lesson of the day!

Sunday was a rainy day and after a small group of us gathered at Crissy Field we decided to re-locate. Heather, our beautiful San Francisco tour guide, phoned a bookstore and they graciously agreed to bring our “Day of Compassion” to their store.

When we got there it was clearly the PERFECT VENUE for our project. Every book on the shelf seemed to be about LOVE, and the WISDOM OF BUDDHA. The manager said we could set up in the front session of the store, and before we even unrolled our banner, a woman stopped by, and read our petition with tears in her eyes.

Minutes later, the manager looked in our direction and called out:

“I’m sorry you can’t have any banners here or give out any literature. If we support your organization we would have to support everyone.”

It was raining, Heather’s four months old baby girl and Marcia’s three year old Mari was with us, so I asked if it would be possible for us to stand under the awning of the store for a half hour or so to fulfill our task for the day.

The manager said he needed to check with his superiors and minutes later the answer was, No.

Up until that point I was feeling a little tired after all day of teaching on Saturday, and admittedly a bit awkward and unsure about the whole idea of dragging people into this rainy adventure when getting together for hot chocolate in some café would’ve been so much more pleasant.

But this rejection, this stark difference between the Reality of Love and the Idea of it, that I was suddenly immersed in, set my Orphan-Visionary-Combo-Rebel soul on fire and by gosh I was going to beg steal or borrow a dry piece of sidewalk for our little group of compassionists.

Galina and I walked out of the store with the banner in our hands, and as I turned my head, I noticed that the Mongolian restaurant next door, had a narrower but sufficient awning to shield us from the rain.

I walked in, showed my banner with the beautiful picture of the broken globe to a group of smiling waiters, and explained that we were working on a peace project linked to 9/11.

The two young men walked off to check with their manager and miracle of miracles: We got permission to stand under their banner. Not only that . Minutes later, the sweet woman manager brought us a bowl of hot soup and cups of water with lemon and a festive straw!

I learned more from that one simple ACT of COMPASSION than from reading a thousand new age books about LOVE.

The Turn It Around Project or any other project we take on, will grow and gain momentum with every small action we take in moving forward in the direction of our Vision. The same way my daughter Adi was born through the faith I was able to live 18 years ago, when so many people said: NO.

It is often the NO that feeds the flame of the dream more effectively then the easy Yes.

My faith and I hope the faith of those of you who will consider this project worthy of your engagement, will be strengthened through each tiny step we resolve to take.

The Sunday events were in fact a perfect reflection of the heart of this project. We can wait for institutions and Managers and Presidents, and Powerful Peace Experts to negotiate a more compassionate human interaction or we can take the risk of receiving what is directly in front of us: A person with a banner that cares about something. And we can ask questions and find out if what that person cares about might be something that may be important to us as well.

And then maybe we can even venture to take responsibility for breaking a rule or two.

One other last lesson: We didn’t look around carefully enough for others who came to join us that day before relocating. I guess part of me doubted that everyone who said they’d be there would actually show up. So please forgive us if you came and missed us.

Such useful lessons to be applied to the next year’s Day of Compassion Gathering in San Francisco: Venue to be Determined.

P.S. If you’d like to engage more actively with this project, we now have a Face Book Page, a Forum on our new website, and a free monthly teleconferences starting in January. Hope you’ll join us. What could the incoming crew of babies support more gladly than a feisty circle of parents intent on birthing a safer earth-home.

18 Responses to “Fertile Compassion: Let the Orphan Feed the Dream”

  1. IVF procedure includes the recovery (needle aspiration) of the mature eggs and hatching eggs in a culture medium, and the collection and preparation of sperm and its addition to the medium. Fertilization usually occurs within 12 to 48 hours. The potential embryo is placed in a culture medium, showing periodically for division into two cells, four cells and eight cell stages.

  2. Alina says:

    It is very true that sometimes we just need to let the Orphan feed the dream. Sometimes it’s very painful to allow it but watching and listening to our Orphan allows us to better assess the road ahead and decide which path will continue to lead us to our truth.

  3. Edyta says:

    Hi Julia,
    What an inspiring story!
    What I loved most about your story is the fact that you didn’t give up, weren’t put off by the rejection and continued with your project. What a great spirit!
    That’s one of the qualities I’m trying to cultivate im my life at present….
    with “love”

  4. Suzanne Lang says:

    So glad that you guys had a blast. You were in my homeland so happy they got a piece of the FH in person and Turn it Around!

  5. Fiona says:

    What a lovely written piece. I also enjoyed reading Heather’s comment about the day.
    The part that stuck out to me the most is when Julia said how “often it is the NO that feeds the flame of the dream more effectively than the YES”. I know that I have certainly fed my flame with more “no” than “yes”. I’m there today as I’m realizing that another cycle has gone by without getting pregnant. The orphans have been feeding the flame for the past few days. But as I paused for a second in the middle of writing this comment, I thought to myself, could I be a little gentler to myself today? Could I treat myself with a little more compassion?
    Well, the jury is still kind of out on that one. Maybe this would be a good time to do a little visualization and find my ultimate mom.

  6. Nico says:

    The power of No sometimes is so much better at getting us to the right place than is the power of Yes. For it is in the fight for what we believe in that we find our passion rises up and we connect to an inner truth.
    It sounds like the day provided many lessons for everyone who attended. Sounds very powerful and I wish I had been there with you all.

  7. Miren says:

    What a nice picture! I wish I had been there, rain and all….

    I am in owe of the hope and positivism that people on this site convey in their writings. I find myself returning to this site when I feel short of resources of my own.

    I have been struggling with two approaches that Julia takes to the process of conception, but also to life in general: 1) bow to what is and 2) keep and nourish the hope and the yearning. I have asked myself how I can maintain both? I finally realized that the hope and the yearning is also part of what is…. (I know that Julia says that in her wonderful book–The Fertile Female–but I have come to the realization on my own, which is what is most important).

    Thank you, Julia.

  8. Ann says:

    I love the title of this post and, as is often the case, the content feels profoundly personally relevant. I have been casting about, not sure how to find a visionary within and feeling unsure about how to nudge some pesky – but powerful – orphans toward visionary strength. Trudging forward with growing uncertainty. And THEN someone very important to me said that I look “defeated” and “malnourished.” (!!!) Ah ha, “It is often the NO that feeds the flame of the dream more effectively than the easy YES.” I’m not sure if the observations were intended as intervention but, yikes, the internal uprising was intense. Oh the stomping, oh the shouting, oh the pouting, but my the ENERGY. You will laugh but, when I was deep in the bowels of dissertation work, my theme song was a Chumbawamba tune which had lyrics something like, “I get knocked down but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.” So this is what I say to defeat: TRY TO KNOCK ME DOWN. In this spirit, I wish you all an occasional dose of NO, because it is very good medicine.

  9. Robin says:

    That is so wonderful to continue on and find another place to be and people who were compassionate. Blessings to you and the International Day of Compassion.

  10. Eva says:

    Dear Julia,

    I really love this story and the insights you gleaned from it. I especially love the post from Loy R. Is he totally in touch with his visionary, or what? I share his vision for the future of 11/9. I also want to note that it’s probably no coincidence that your birthday is a few days after the International Day of Compassion – it’s like a little tremor after a seismic shift in human consciousness. Happy birthday!

    Much love,

  11. Alisha says:

    My heart lifted while reading your post. I was one of the people to show up but missed connections, so i’m very happy to hear what happened that day. Everything happened exactly as it was supposed to, and it gave me a chance to get in touch with some Orphans that were feeling left out all the time. I was able to transform with the visionary and UM. And for me that IS peace (or certainly where it starts).

    I’m currently dealing with a situation where a NO is igniting something inside me and I thank you for your beautiful words on this subject.

    Much Love.

  12. Christine says:

    Thankyou for all your hard work Julia. I believe totally in what you are doing. I have some projects too that I wish to engage in one day, that will hopefully make this earth a better place for all. They are massive ideas but I have the confidence – I believe all things have to start somewhere. Love to you and all your helpers.

  13. gal says:

    Hi Julia,

    Thanks for blogging about that soggy yet wonderful day. I did not know what to expect about this event but I was glad to still be in San Francisco after attending the workshop the day before and get to take part. It was as many have said a lesson in how many small acts of compassion take place. It was an interesting turn to be so welcomed by the Mongolian Barbecue! Julia, my thoughts for this blog have been around the incredible amount of compassion you have for people and this work to share it and continue it for so many years. I have realized in this work that what I have wanted is to feel like I am a “normal” person who could be blessed with a family like so many others are. When my first son came along I thought I had finally made it, I was a real person. I felt so real that I dared to think maybe I could do this again. This other child’s delay has been so difficult since it seems to say I don’t deserve it and it has left me feeling incomplete and even unsure of how our first son got here. If I would have simply had another child I think I would have just wanted to run over to that group of people who were ok – it would have allowed me to cover over the shame and fear I realize I still feel. I notice even when people have overcome infertility they often still cry when telling the story of how difficult it was when they didn’t know if they would ever get there. So I applaud and thank you immensely Julia for writing about your journey and sticking around to be there to help so many on this difficult path. I do not know what will come of my life but I am hopeful that by continuing to do this work and finally finding compassion for myself I will be ok.

    Thank you!

  14. Heather says:


    I was so touched to see this post. Having been involved in the planning for the Day of Compassion in SF, I wanted everything to go perfectly. The weather leading up to event was 80 degrees and sunny. But, as the week progressed, I started to see reports of rain. My orphans began to cry out, “Should we cancel our plans? What if no one is out in the rain to hear our message? What if Julia flew all the way across the country and things don’t work out. What have I done?”

    The morning of the event, I tried to create a plan B, clinging to the idea that perhpas I could save the day. As Julia mentions in her post, it didn’t quite work as we thought, and we ended up outside a local resturant spreading our message of love and compassion.

    Later that evening, I reflected on the day. I was dissapointed that I hadn’t been able to create a huge event with sunshine and thousands of people signing joining our effort. And yet, I was so touched by the small acts of compassion that I witnessed, including the kindness of the wait staff, who let us stand outside their resturant; Julia singing sweetly to my baby girl as she began to fuss; the proud look on Marcia’s face as she shared the story of how she became a mother to her little girl; and a few of us sharing with another Fertile Heart friend how truly beautiful she is. These were small, but truly geniune moments of compassion. And, as Juila states in her post, The Turn It Around Project or any other project we take on, can grow and gain momentum with these very small actions.

    So as my daughter Elisabeth and I plan for next year, we know that we’ve already begun to make small steps towards creating a more compasionate world. We are also more open to noticing the small gestures of compassion that exist in our every day life. And, we are a bit smarter knowing that next year, our event won’t take place outside!

  15. Eva says:

    Thank you Julia for telling it like it is. I appreciate your honesty and down to earth approach in combination with a strong and important vision. Turn it around sounds like a wonderful project. You are welcome to Chicago anytime. Best, Eva

  16. amanda says:

    I sadly missed this part of the trip, but I wished I had gone out there and braved the rain. How wonderful that when one door closes another opens. We just have to have the courage to push forward when it would be so much easier to stop and have a warm hot chocolate!

  17. Caroline says:

    Julia, what a beautiful post.
    I must confess I’m quite jealous, I wish I could have been there!
    I was especially touched by the part about the open-hearted kindness of the folk at the restaurant. I know how lonely and frustrating it can sometimes feel when you want to “change the world”, and it seems like other folks just don’t get it, but you’re right, of course, there are others out there who are ready to hear, or at least willing to listen, and to appreciate your work, and support you in whatever way they can. I see it often with our ethical purchasing group; we’ve grown to be over 150 families :-) and I would say I now get about 80% of all my groceries through the group, all ethically sourced, all either direct from the producer or fairtrade, more or less all organic, and with minimum possible food miles :-) It can be such hard work, but it’s also so very joyful, and full of beautiful people! And yet there are days when I’m still reluctant to talk about it. I still have a lot to learn, and you truly are a wonderful example.
    Thank you, from the heart.

  18. I can’t resist sharing this with you. I logged on to the message board to copy the link to paste into the blog, and was rewarded with this lovely post from November 9th, from Loy R. a wonderful, wonderful man who works with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center. We met Loy and his wife at Ground Zero on 9/11.

    Dear Julia and Colleagues,

    from the time we met at the sidelines of the 9/11 memorial service this year, your group’s splendid idea has remained with me. I am not in the US today, but the inspiring slogan of Turning It Around has remained with me ever since. On the same day we particpated in the service, and attended the rallies for the islamic cultural center, and the opposing ” dont build the mosque at ground zero” rally. The strong polarisation in both rallies, was out of sync with the mood of the families of the victims and certainly out of touch with your message of peace, and peaceful coexistence and compassion to drive us all as human beings first. and it was exemplary and moving when i visited the 9/11 memorial the same day and found a wristband saying “united in Hope”. I wear it ever since. I do hope this First International day of Compasion, the 9th November 2010 will be formally decalred in later years as the official International day of Compassion. I believe the effort was presaged may years before in Europe where the day is commemorated more sadly as “Crystal Nacht” a grim reminder of a more fateful day in germany.

    But looking ahead lets remain hopeful, as the vitims families want us to be, and filled with compassion, as we move all our countries’ ambassadors to decalre this day as one of compassion.

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