The Significance of Movement While Living in the Moment

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While writing about not trying to control outcome, I’ve noticed myself in the land of “hope” about a certain outcome in my own life.  The awareness of this is incredible because it gives me something to explore, and even better, it’s an opportunity to surrender.  I’ve both explored and surrendered, and now my entire perspective has changed, which means that my world has just been blown open, and I can now move freely around thoughts that once had me shackled in fear. 

I have a vision for my life, and when I began this journey in sobriety, it was like I expected the universe to hand everything over to me all at once, the way I had it set up in my mind.  You know the old pattern of give it to me now… it was a freakishly delusional expectation I had about my life, but somehow I managed to slow down enough to enjoy the journey.  The older I get, and the more recovery I have under my belt, the more I understand that joy and fulfillment is not somewhere in the future.  If I’m not feeling it now, then I’m at a loss.  I know I write about this a lot, to those of you who read my blogs daily, but it’s an important topic, and it is something that I constantly need to remind myself.

I’m a naturally restless person, but when I use this to my benefit, I’m extremely creative and productive.  We should explore our defects of character to discover their opposing force, which is a surging strength.  Hone in on that and run, rather than remain tied to the defective end of the spectrum.  For instance, I’m self-indulgent, but on the opposite end of that spectrum, I’m extremely disciplined.  It’s a weird phenomenon, but everything in life has a yin and yang.  I channel my restlessness into my writing, and I also run a lot.  Because my writing and running has everything to do with the vision I have for my future, every time I do either, I’m adding a little brick to the path toward the manifestation of my vision.  I’m walking along that path, right now, while I’m creating it, which means I’m being present along my journey while I’m moving forward.

If we are to emanate the universe (which we do btw), we would see that creation is in constant motion, and it is also very present.  Creation does not go backwards.  It expands without much effort.  This is simply the natural process of all things living. This is our guide to how to be; how to evolve, grow, visualize and manifest.  The mountains weren’t created overnight.  They evolved over years of dynamic explosions and catastrophic eruptions.  If we see our life at the top of a vast mountain, well… we better be prepared for a lot of movement and some of it won’t be voluntary. It’s also going to take a lot of time.  This applies to me. 

I put something out there in hopes that another something would occur because of it, knowing that if it doesn’t deliver a result the way I desire, that I’m setting myself up for devastation.  This is what I had to surrender to, and then explore.  What I’m receiving as a new perspective, is that the outcome truly doesn’t matter.  I’m in constant movement toward my vision, and I’m following my intuition along my path.  I’m also really enjoying the journey, and I’m delighted in my life right now, so no matter the outcome, I know that I just placed another little brick along my path.  No brick is bigger than the other, you see, because this would create imbalance.  The vision I have for my life does not rest in this one little brick.  I have several more opportunities awaiting my awareness of them, and this is the exciting part of my journey.  The end result is a fantasy.  There will always be a vision for something greater, even when I accomplish what I’ve set out to do.  The path is never-ending; just like creation is infinite.  The universe doesn’t just stop one day and say, “Ok, we did it… now lets STOP.”  No, it’s eternal movement, and it’s constantly present to that movement. 

This is a great realization for me because I used to be plagued with disappointment when I didn’t achieve my goals the way I set out to achieve them.  If something didn’t go my way, I self destructed, or gave up. I became stagnant, and then no bricks were being laid. Often I went backwards and destroyed the bricks already set in place. I don’t go backwards anymore. I may take a day to rest, or to sweep up a mess that I’ve created; often I dance upon my expanding path in great appreciation, but I’m no longer the destroyer of my life. (Self Destroyer meet your nemeses… Conscious Creator)! Even if it takes me several years to get where I think I’m going, the process of getting there is incredibly exciting, and there are always surprises popping up out of nowhere which give me great pleasure.  Honestly, I think where I am right now, is the very place I visualized for myself; I just didn’t realize it wasn’t all about fireworks and party favors!

 

 

What Are We Waiting For? The Time to Live is NOW.

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Inspiration doesn’t always come from a flashing light in my brain, or by an epiphany I’m having about the universe.  More often than not, inspiration comes in the shower when I’m wiping soap off of my face, or during times in the car when there is nothing to talk about.  It comes when I am sitting at my desk at work and uploading a file.  It comes when I’m doing dishes or mowing the lawn.  I used to go climb mountains to find inspiration, and prior to that, I would go to church, but I’m beginning to realize that there is no place more powerful than the next.  If I’m not fully engaged in the way it feels to touch my keyboard and type in the pleasant darkness of a twilight morning while my roommate snores in the next room, what makes me think that writing a book in Greece is going to be any more significant?  There is no Greece, or mountain top, or island in the sand.  There is only me, a tablet screen, an old wooden desk and a cat that won’t stop digging his claws into my legs to get my attention.  There is snoring, meowing and a strange nose coming from the old pipes in this home I rent.  If I’m not inspired by these things, I certainly do not deserve to commence a life beyond this very one I am living now.     

Many of us desire something more than what we have already graciously been given, which is a terrific set up for our suffering.  Two billion people on the planet right now are looking toward the sky, waiting for a savior to come and remove them from their suffering.  Others are waiting for something, but they don’t exactly know what it is, and then there are people like me who spend most of their lives running around California in search of sustainable spirituality, and then when we can’t find it, we look for it at the bottom of a bottle.  We worry about death and what comes after this life, rather than breathe in the heaven that is right now. 

Haven’t you ever touched your cup of coffee and felt the magnificence of the ceramic in the palm of your hand?  Have you ever walked barefoot on a hardwood floor and felt the connection of the earth throughout your entire being?  Have you ever looked in the mirror, or into the brilliant old face of a sea turtle, and seen God?  I have.  I’m learning to see God in all living things, and to touch God in the cup I’m holding.  I’m learning to feel God in the brisk wind, to taste God in the life giving food I eat, and to drink God in the bottled water I buy at Target.  I’m learning to breathe God in each second I’m alive, and to hear God even in the voice of an angry person.  I’ve stopped praying to a far away God, and have begun realizing that the answer to my prayers is not coming tomorrow because tomorrow does not exist.  Everything I ever wanted in my life is available instantly.  I’ve never been apart from it; I was just too blind to see the illumination of life right in front of me.

We want answers.  We want happiness.  We want to be saved, yet we disregard this moment and the next, as if taking out the garbage is insignificant.  It is not.  It is so full of opportunity to explore our five senses, but instead of finding grace in touching, seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, we are thinking about what could happen tomorrow.  It is the demise of the planet; this need to know what’s beyond this very moment, which is so incredibly sacred, yet we are devastatingly blind.  Joy is ever-present.  Each second of life, joy is inviting you to awaken to it, and then it graciously awaits your awareness.  Joy cannot be experienced without your presence, don’t you understand… because God came here to experience joy in the very template of you.  God came here in the template of all living things, so that every aspect of God could be explored in every possible way.  There is no separateness between God and man.  Even the air is full of everything you seek.  It is this very moment that exists, and nothing more, so what the hell are we waiting for?  Explore the magnificent world around you today, and there you will discover that there is absolutely nothing missing, and everything you’ve ever desired is immediately available. Wake up!

 

The Architect

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Yesterday I was drawn to an open house in the hills not too far from where I live.  I’m not in the market to buy a home right now, but I love getting ideas for the home I’m eventually going to buy.  Walking into beautiful homes entices my imagination, and helps me to dream bigger.  If I can feel myself living there, then I know that it’s available to me.  Also, when I’m drawn to something, I follow the yearn within me.  I was drawn to this home.  I’ve seen it sitting on the market for quite some time and they’re always having open houses on Sundays.  It’s a several million dollar listing, but this does not stop me from dreaming, because the higher power I know, does not think in terms of dollar bills, nor does my higher power have limitations.  I’m open to receiving whatever the universe has to offer me and I’m not afraid to reach for the stars. 

I drove up the hill to this modern style house and was greeted by a woman whom I thought was the Realtor, so I went around with her, explaining that I was not in the market, but I was in the profession (real estate) and had been curious about this place.  There was another woman sitting at a table, and I just thought they were partners in the listing.  What fascinated me about the home, was that it was built and designed around a magnificent rock.  This rock’s base is on the bottom floor of the home, and protrudes through the main floor.  It felt so sacred being there, and with the suggestion from the woman, I placed both of my hands on the rock to get a sensation of oneness with nature; which is how the house was built.  I explained that I was a writer in recovery from alcoholism, and the woman had me sit down on a bench built next to the rock.  She told me to take a look at the fabulous view of the mountains and the valley, from a floor to ceiling window, while explaining that a former writer/tenant had completed a compelling manuscript in the very place where I sat.   I think she said the book is doing well.  I felt the power of that place, and raved about its incredible uniqueness.  I had no idea that I was talking to the architect who designed the home!

Wow.  So there I am simply in awe that this woman I’ve been talking to, has such a bond to this place.  She’s had offers from investors, and refuses to sell it to them because she sees an artist living there.  Everyone who has lived in the home has been an artist, from musicians to painters to writers. ( I agree with her.  A writer would be perfect for that home!)  Anyway, as I began to leave, she told me that she would like to read one of my books.  I just so happened to have my children’s novel, ‘Majestic Wonderbread’ in the car, so I offered it to her and told her to pass it along to any children in her life.  She was delighted, and then she mentioned the cover, which is designed with a painting of the milky way.  “I want you to come back inside.  I have something to show you,” she said.  I obliged.

The architect pulled out a folder, and there inside was the building design from start to finish, of a home built above the one we were in now.  The former tenants of this home loved the house, but it wasn’t for sale at the time, so they decided to build their own on the vacant lot above.  The page she wanted to show me, was not of the land or the homes; but of the sky.  She showed me a picture of the stars, the galaxy, and the constellations above the two homes.

“This is what inspired my designs,” she noted.  “This is the milky way, which you can see from Google when you type in the coordinates of this house.”  She looked at me with excitement.  “This is all right above this home… just like the cover of your book!”  I was moved beyond words, but not because of the coincidence.  I’m used to coincidences.  They occur all of the time when I’m in alignment with my path.  It’s just the universe’s way of letting me know that I’m on track.  What I was in awe about, is how she used the design of the stars to design the two homes.  She was a great artist, and there I was standing in her presence.  I couldn’t believe it.  “This is how the ancient architects designed the pyramids,” I said to her smiling.  “I know,” she replied, gleaming.

What a great honor, to follow the yearning of my soul, and to walk into such a dynamic experience without needing anything, or expecting much.  I just went there because I felt a yearning.  I met the Realtor too, who was sitting at the table.  While she was flipping through the pages of my novel, she opened up to us, and shared with us that she’d lost her son, and was certain that he was always near her.  She felt him.  I don’t know why she mentioned this, but I’m glad she did, because it wasn’t the usual sales pitch, which wouldn’t have done her, or me, any good.  She told us this because she felt she could, and because we were all there just being.  It was an amazing moment.  I’m so glad I went to that house yesterday. 

This doesn’t have a lot to do with recovery you say… Oh, but it does.  It truly does.  It was the surrendering to that yearning voice inside me that knows so much more than my limited mind knows.  My intuition understands that great forces are at work, and gives me little nudges here and there, so that I have the opportunity to be touched in a way that blows my mind.  If I had been drinking this weekend, I wouldn’t have felt anything, and I wouldn’t have had that precious experience.  I wouldn’t have touched the sacred rock, or felt the connectedness of the moment.  I wouldn’t have met those women, or handed someone my book, nor would I have been reminded that I’m loved beyond measure, because that’s what I felt in that home yesterday.  I’m connected, I’m loved, I’m supported and there is great power in my life now.  It’s because I’m sober, that I am open to receiving this power.  I am so eternally grateful that I can heed to the calling of my intuition now, which I used to drown out and ignore.  I’m so grateful for these precious moments in my life.  And what an amazing life it is!  Thank you Universe! And thank you, Creator, for designing my life in such a dynamic way!
Link to the house: http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/27-Indian-Rock-Rd-San-Anselmo-CA-94960/19300946_zpid/

Link to Majestic Wonderbread:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_20?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=majestic%20wonderbread&sprefix=majestic+wonderbread%2Caps%2C311

L-O-V-E: Letting Others Voluntarily Evolve

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I heard this acronym last night at a meeting…  Love is to Let Others Voluntarily Evolve.  What a lovely way of “letting go.”  So many of us want to mold everyone into a way that makes us feel better.  We believe if the people around us change, that we would somehow be happier, or that we would be more content.  If my son plays sports, I will feel like a better parent.  If my daughter makes Cheer, I will feel like I fit in with the other moms.  If my husband is working his way up the ladder, I will be at peace because we would be financially secure.  If my parents would move closer, I would feel safer… etc.  Some of us place a lot of our well-being on what other people are doing, and this is not only controlling, but it is extremely unhealthy.  It removes us from being responsible for our own joy, and gives us excuses to be unhappy, or to procrastinate in our own personal goals. 

Most people are pretty controlling.  It’s a sort of self-preservation that we’ve created in this society, though if we become aware of it, we will notice how truly absurd it is when we try to relinquish control over others through trivial matters. In the end, it’s all smoke and mirrors.  There is no real control over another human being or the outcome of anything.  People are going to do what they want, and be who they are, and we can bully the world, but the world will always disappoint us when we try to control the end result.  

I’m controlling in a subtle way, so I’m really looking at this in myself. Sometimes when I’m with my children, or with friends and family, I imagine myself as a guide along their spiritual path.  I reverse this image and envision them as my guides as well.  In this scenario, no one is trying to control anyone.  We are all simply there to assist the other in their movement, but their movement is arbitrary.  I’m not allowed to manipulate, suggest anything for my own benefit, or direct them into any direction.  I’m only there to offer my support and to give them information… if they ask.  I’m there to listen.  I’m there to laugh with them, or cry with them.  I’m there to hold their hand if they need it, or to hug them if they require my loving arms.  Above all, I’m there to accept them as they are, because nothing will give them wings like knowing they are understood and sanctioned by another human being.  I also don’t expect anything from anyone.  This is essential, because expectation of others is a set up for grave disappointment.  No one outside of myself is responsible for my happiness or my well-being.

Lastly, I remind myself to stop judging.  This is the most important standard I’m learning to utilize.  I do not benefit by judging others, and neither do they.  Judgment is merely a scoop of horseshit delivered to my ego on a delusional silver platter.   No one is anything near being perfect, and we should always remember this about ourselves before pointing our fingers, or whispering catty things about another human being.  I don’t care who they are, how they behave, or what they did.  I have not walked even ten seconds along their path.  There is absolutely no place for self-righteousness, especially when I recall my own mistakes, which are copious.

When we allow others to be themselves, and allow them to navigate along their own journey without meddling, we are liberating ourselves to do the same.  This creates harmony.  Harmony is the key to our joy, and our well-being, and we can only have this if we relinquish the need to control.  I’m certainly not perfect at any of this stuff, but at least I’m finally aware of when I’m trying to control something, which is often.  I’m still learning, and growing and allowing myself to be without judgment of myself.  I’m still a caterpillar building a little cocoon where I can grow some beautiful wings. 

Now, if only the whole world could do this, I would be so much happier…

 

 

 

 

Taking Back Responsibility

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We can spend years in therapy talking out what went “wrong” in our lives, and we can debate for centuries to come, about the horrific effects of slavery, or mull over the mistakes of the past, but this never solves anything.  I spent a great amount of time getting to the bottom of things, which has its short-term benefits to identifying some of my behaviors, but the overall change I want to make in my life, will never derive from revelation about my past.  I can dig and dig and dig into my past, but this wastes the time I could be building a strong foundation right now.  The past is the past, and I am who I am; the question I ask myself now is… who do I want to be?  Where do I see myself twenty years from now?  Am I going to get there if I figure out the details of my past lives, or spend hours of my time doing regression therapy?  Instead of seeking answers to questions we have about our past, we should be looking for solutions.  I can’t change what someone else did to me, but I can certainly treat others the way I want to be treated.  I can’t erase childhood traumas, but I can absolutely become a stronger person because of them.  I can reach out to other people who suffer in their addictions and show them the way toward freedom, rather than feeding into their victimization.  I don’t think there is a person on the planet who doesn’t suffer at one time or another.  This is what makes us human.  Suffering correlates with spiritual growth, so on some level, it’s incredibly valuable.  It the place where we learn to surrender.

The strongest people I know, have suffered a great deal in their childhood.  Children who struggle with adversities, tend to achieve the greatest of accomplishments.  Those who have disabilities, spread their wings and fly with incredible insight.  Human beings are resilient and brilliant.  We are not limited by our shortcomings.  No, we are empowered by them.  Look at women today, who have spent centuries in suppression.  We don’t dwell in the past; we thrive atop the treacherous mountain that we’ve climbed.  Women are spearheading flourishing industries, and breaking through the stereotypes that have plagued us and kept us indoors for generations.  We aren’t concerned about the past because we are too busy laying the foundation for our future.

The past can define us or it can set us free.  I am so grateful that I was raised with strict religious values, which has set a course for me to question the doctrine and discover a limitless and loving God.  I don’t know who I would be today if I was not challenged by my parents, molded by the church and broken by my addiction.  When it finally occurred to me that I am not a victim, and when I began reading between the lines of my anguish, and seeing opportunities rather than dwelling in the adversities, I rose up on my own two feet and met myself in all my wholeness and vastness.  I am not incomplete, or fractured or broken.  Neither are you.  You’ve simply got to read between the lines and see the challenges as chances to break through the limitations set before you.  Life is so full of opportunities to break through barriers, but we are often blind to this because the barriers seem bigger than we are.  This is such a lie we buy into.

What are my challenges today?  What am I afraid to face?  What fears override my thinking?  These are all opportunities to break free from my limitations.  These are the obstacles set before me so that I have the chance to walk through them and soar high.  We are all gifted with adversity which endorses our growth.  There are no excuses, and no one here is a victim.  We need to stop telling ourselves this, and take responsibility for what happens from here on out.  If we want to live a good life, we need to rise above the challenges and the traumas we experience.  We need to see them as endorsements of our growth, rather than the end of who we are.  Suffering is valuable.  It’s a human condition that reminds us to remain humble and to overcome.  This is the balance we need between the body and the spirit.  It connects us to ourselves.  What a beautiful gift!  So, stop mulling over what hurt you, and begin using it as the tool that sets you free.

 

Prohibition and the Expirimentation of a Nation

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Being American means being able to get an education while sitting in your favorite chair with a bowl of popcorn in your lap.  I love Netflix documentaries, and I was home yesterday with a sick kid watching the Ken Burns ‘Prohibition’ three part series.  OF COURSE I was watching this!  What else would a reformed drunk be watching?  I love anything that has to do with addiction or rehab.  It’s important to me that filmmakers get these things right, and depict my former affliction in all it’s misery.  When people on screen get sober without going through terrible withdrawal symptoms, it does not put things into perspective.  The whole reason we remained high or drunk was in fear of that impending agony, but Ken Burns made sure to include information about the ole’ alcoholic DTs in his film.  (Thank you Ken Burns).

With that said, it’s incredibly interesting that America is still so young, and in the phases of experimentation.  The way our country moves and grows as a whole, is exactly how it occurs on an individual basis. America as a whole, operates in self-will.  For every accomplishment America has made, there is always a negative recourse.  We obtained our land by slaughtering the original natives. We did the same thing to establish Christianity.  We impose “the law” which entices corruption, and we build banks and corporations to generate money and power, yet the adverse effect of this, is that the working class is pushed into poverty.  We are an ambitious nation, but this doesn’t mean we’ve got things figured out.  Like any man who runs on his self-will and discovers himself void of true fulfillment, America hasn’t come to its knees yet.  Like a determined addict, America is self-destructive, and still in the phases of denial.

During a time when our country should have been thriving, we found our hardworking men drunk in the streets, and intoxicated on their jobs.  Eventually the Christian wives snapped and did something about it, but we all know that removing liquor from the bars wasn’t the real answer to reform.  People had to figure this out on their own.  Men had to get drunk, destroy their lives, and then wake-up and realize that they didn’t want to live that way any longer. In general, Americans want to be good people, but you can’t force this on anyone, or impose religion and expect to change a nation. This is a personal movement; a spiritual one.  The cycle of “waking up” and rebirth, is something that occurs on a cosmic level, all the way down to the individual.  It doesn’t skip past a nation either.  America, as well as other countries, will one day get their wake-up call, which will make 9-11 look like a Disney side show.  A spiritual awakening is eminent, and corporate America will discover that money and power is merely an illusion.  “Pride cometh before a fall.”  Don’t we know this by now? Rome is a prime example.

I love my country, and the people in it.  It is a beautiful country, and Americans are brilliant and creative people.  We are pioneers in so many things, but we forget the most important thing, which is to remain humble.  There isn’t a humble bone in the government body, and this is a set up for our demise.  Christian’s fight to keep “in God we trust” on the dollar bill, but this is not going to save our country.  We need to individually wake-up and walk in humility, one by one, in order for the country as a whole to be redeemed.  Instead of marching on the streets for prayer in schools, we should be at home walking the talk.  Godlessness is an individual problem, not a national one.  Each of us should be changing the one thing we can, in order to change the world.  I’m a big fan of the saying, “If you want to change the world, draw a circle around yourself and change everything inside of it.”

I just want to put this out here today to remind myself to focus on what I’m doing, rather than point my fingers outward.  I’ve been sober for three years now, and everything has changed for me.  Things fall into place when they probably should fall apart, and it’s because I finally got myself to a humble place.  I just want to remain in this place and trust in a power greater than myself, to provide exactly what I need at the right time.  This doesn’t mean that I can’t be ambitious, or that should I sit around watching Netflix all day.  No, it means that I follow my dreams through the guidance of my intuition, rather than busting through life through the determination of my ego, knowing that my soul has a better view of my life than my five senses do.  At some point each of us figures this out, but it’s rare that it occurs with the masses, all at once. I hope America doesn’t have to go through a harrowing wake-up call like I did when the universe decided I needed some humility.  I hope we can all just take a moment to reflect on where we are navigating from, and wake-up individually, so that this country changes gracefully, rather than destructively.

What if Anxiety is an Asset in Disguise?

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A very common trait of an alcoholic/addict is anxiety disorder.  How many of us began using drugs or alcohol because it relieved us of social anxiety?  How many of us who are sober now, experience anxiety, but live with the discomfort instead of abolishing it with a substance?  Although I no longer have full blown panic attacks, I often find myself very nervous and trapped in my own anxious thoughts.  I recognize this when it happens, but so far, this is as far as I’ve gotten with it.  I refuse to take any anti-depressants or meds for the anxiety.  Instead I try to get as much exercise as possible, and I also take deeper breaths throughout the day.

People love to label every little emotional nuance as a disorder, and the first thing doctors want to do with disorders, is medicate them.  I am quite aware of my anxiety issues, and I realize that I stress out more than I probably should.  But overall, I’ve managed to live a really stable life (minus a relationship that didn’t work out for various reasons), and I don’t beat myself up for not being a perfect human being.

I grew up around nervous people, and it seems like the generations before me were constant worriers.  I’m pretty certain that mothers and grandmothers back then, were raised to think that if you didn’t worry, you weren’t a good parent.  I did not take on this trait, per say, but I’m one of those people who cannot smoke weed without sitting in a corner, rocking back and forth and sucking my thumb.  As an adult, it gave me paranoia to the point of being debilitated.  I don’t even know why I used to smoke that stuff. It just goes to show how much of an addict I truly am.  Apparently anxiety runs on my dad’s side of the family as well, but this information doesn’t really help me.  What does help me is deep breathing, and being aware of my thoughts so that I can manage them.

This weekend I went to my cousin’s wedding in Tahoe and discovered myself pulling a napkin apart under a table.  Most of the night I didn’t know what to do with my hands, and I pretty much sat in the same chair the whole time, except for when I was dancing or playing video games with my children.  I recognized my anxiety, but I didn’t get mad at myself for having it.  I didn’t sit there and judge myself for it.  Instead I just allowed it to be there with me and got curious as to why I was feeling that way.  The good news was, even with all the anxiety, I wasn’t tempted to drink.  The booze was flowing and I found myself a comfortable spot playing cards with my son.  Years ago, I would have gripped onto the wine like it was my knight in shining armor, but I am way past this now.  I can live with the anxiety.  It’s not debilitating, and it certainly isn’t eternal.  That weekend was one of the best I’ve had in a long time.  Most of it was serene and lovely.  My anxiety was sporadic and random.  The fact that I had no desire to drink was incredibly relieving, however.  It’s nice to be able to trust myself now.

I know a lot of people who are anxious in crowds.  It doesn’t just occur with addicts.  Personally, I’m very sensitive to my environment, and a lot of people in one place means there are a lot of different energies moving about.  I feel this stuff.  I lived in Berkeley for over two years and knew that I couldn’t stay because of the way I experienced the energy bouncing around there.  I moved to a quieter town surrounded by nature.  I think of my anxiety as me being extremely sensitive.  I have not learned to balance this sensitivity out yet.  It’s something I’m still exploring in myself, which is why I don’t want to medicate it.  If I can learn to tap into my intuition a lot more, I trust that I will learn how to harmonize these strange bouts of anxiety I have.  It will one day be an asset, but at the moment, I’m still a bit frazzled because of it.  Instead of trying to rid myself of the anxiety, I attribute it to being spiritually imbalanced, and I’m willing to discover a natural balance in myself rather than shove meds down my throat.  There is a reason I am this way, and I refuse to label myself for it.  As an artist, I’ve learned that these “imbalances” invoke a lot of creativity.  Most of the good writers were alcoholics. I think we are simply more sensitive to our environment, and we either learn to dance within our limitations, or we self-destruct.

I suggest getting curious about any anxiety you experience.  Take an interest in yourself, and mediate on it.  Be aware of what comes up for you and when it occurs.  Don’t beat yourself up for anything you feel, or label yourself for emotional imbalances.  Take your time and let them be with you while you watch them.  We live in a society that numbs itself out, but what if your anxiety was a great asset in disguise?  Anxiety has to do with fear, so once you bring light to this fear, there must be something significant underneath.  It could be that this imbalance needs to be honed in on, and directed in a dynamic way.  It’s just like the little kids who get treated for ADD, and they are simply bored with their environment.  We are not living in a natural state of being.  Humanity is institutionalized.  This is unnatural, and it is no surprise that we have so many “disorders.”  I doubt the Native Americans who lived in harmony with nature, had bi-polar disorder, or ADD.

Have compassion for yourself today, and don’t judge yourself for your anxiety.  Look at your lifestyle.  Be aware of your surroundings (is it unnatural?), and take charge of what you eat (is it full of chemicals?).  Breathe deeper, and become interested in yourself.  If you are experiencing a lot of anxiety, this is a good time to go on an internal exploration.  I’ll do the same, and I’ll let you know what I discovered upon my return! Ask for guidance and then go forth and be guided!

Setting Clear Boundaries

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How many of us are the type that would offer the shirt off our back if the opportunity presented itself?  At times, I’ve dropped everything for an acquaintance knowing that it probably wouldn’t be reciprocated.  It’s important to me that I’m in a place where I can help other people, but sometimes this goes too far, and it’s easy to lose balance.  What about when people from the past who have hurt us, reach out and want to “start over” in a relationship?  Although I’m open minded and optimistic most of the time, I find my deeply hidden inner skeptic to be pretty right-on when I feel the tug from within to walk away from someone who has not been healthy for me in the past.  Sure, people change, but after what I’ve been through to overcome my own demons, I’m realizing that people don’t change that easily.  If they haven’t been working an honest program, or going through some serious psychotherapy, or taken a sabbatical to India for at least a year (and a half), I seriously doubt they are much different than the last time you met up with them.  To actually transform is a huge deal, and you don’t see this occur very often.  Working the steps of recovery is one of the most efficient ways to transcend old behaviors.  The only other way I’ve seen people change is when they take a physical journey away from the town they grew up in, shed their old skins during scorching dessert walks, overcame their fears in the hollows of forest darkness, climbed to the top of impossible mountains, walked through fire and brimstone, sought after a higher purpose for their life, and discovered themselves along the way.  People don’t change by sitting in front of the TV watching Dr. Phil, going to church on Sundays and reading self-help books.  I swear to God.

I truly believed that because I transformed my life, my relationships were going to get better, but very much on the contrary.  If anything, they became more desolate and somewhat frustrating.  As I’m learning to be less guarded, I’ve also got to know where to draw the lines.  Old relationships that were co-dependent don’t work since I’ve been in recovery, and as I’m becoming more aware of myself and my behaviors, I’m seeing other people’s behaviors in 3D IMAX.  It is no picnic.  Sometimes I want to scream, or run away for good, but my job is to keep myself centered, and to clean up my side of the street in all relationships.  I’m no angel, and people are used to me being a certain way.  I’m sure it’s difficult to accept me in my new skin, which is probably pretty boring and unimpressive.  I’m so over impressing people that it could come off as me being indifferent.  It doesn’t really matter to me because for the first time in my life, I’m feeling good el’ naturale, but I can’t say that I don’t long for really healthy relationships.  So far, my two best relationships are with minors.  My two children are probably the healthiest human beings I know.  They are the only ones who actually “get” me.  They’ve been through the fire right along with me, and they’ve witness the behavior transformation first hand.  When other people think of me as still “messed up,” my two kids are championing me and patting me on the back while bearing proud smiles.  Sometimes they even brag about me to their friends.

It goes without saying that we’ve got to avoid unhealthy relationships, but what about ones that are already set in motion?  What about family?  What if you long to be close to someone who is unavailable emotionally?  This is difficult, but since I’ve accepted the fact that most people don’t transform, I’m learning to accept others “as is.”  Compassion is a beautiful thing, and not judging people is imperative.  I believe everyone I encounter is in my life for a reason; to teach me something, but I am also very careful not to get sucked into any drama.  Like anything else, it’s a balance.  I still have so much to learn, and most of the time, I’m learning it through each one of my relationships.  If I am living a healthy lifestyle, and keeping myself aligned and in-tune, no one has the power to throw me off track.  If I start feeling off-track, it probably isn’t because of another person.  It’s because I stepped off-track myself.  Sometimes people enter our lives to throw us for a loop (spiritually speaking), and this is always a learning experience.  I don’t see anyone as a threat, or purposely malicious.  Self-awareness has taught me to be aware of others, therefore, I don’t have to worry about ulterior motives from others.  If I am aware, I can avoid the traps and simply love the human being for who they are.

This takes a lot of time.  I am nearing three years sober, and for the first couple of years, I avoided a lot of people.  Now I’m stronger, and learning to be more open.  I know what path I’m on, and clear on my personal journey.  When people come alongside me on my path, I welcome them.  I no longer keep the guard up or fear what I’m getting into.  It’s best to remain open and make decisions while in motion.  When I’m clear, people see this and they don’t seem to try to get me to waiver.  I’m no longer trying to change everyone, so this makes my life a lot easier.  The only person I have control over is me, so while having relationships now, I’m learning to allow other people to simply be.

Drop the judgment, load yourself up with compassion, stay present and be aware of any emotion responses you are having; this is key to having a good relationship with yourself.  Once you maintain this, you can extend it out to others.  Know what your feeling while dealing with other people at all times.  Be aware if you are still people pleasing, seeking approval, doing something out of guilt, or falling victim to someone’s power struggle.  If you discover yourself doing any of these things, I suggest staying away from that person until you’ve gotten stronger in yourself.  Sometimes people that bring this out in us, are not the unhealthy ones.  They are simple a mirror reflecting what we need to work on in ourselves.  Once you overcome the need for approval, pleasing others, feeling guilty or being a victim, you will see that the people who brought these things out in you, as wonderful teachers.

In all relationships, the boundaries we set are for our own balance and well-being.  It’s for us to learn how to stand on our own two feet without the need to control, or to be subjected to being controlled.  It’s an important element of recovery, but always know that your emotions are the compass to knowing which boundaries need to be set.  Always be aware of your emotional responses around other people.  This in itself takes a lot of time and practice, but once you master this, you will always know exactly where you stand, and you will be clear on what you need at any given time.  Trust yourself, and give yourself the freedom to explore.  Make mistakes and learn along the way.  Most people are doing their best, and this is important to keep in mind as you navigate in your relationships.

 

Being “AS IF” When I’m Feeling So-So

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Have you ever met someone who always seems to be in a perpetual state of well being?  Or perhaps you knew a friend’s mother who never reflected a bad mood.  What about those rare people who have endless energy while giving to those in need.  They are the true saints of this world; the ones who care more about the needs of others, than they do about the nuances of their emotions.  Others, like myself, tend to wear their emotions like a daily change of clothes.  Why can’t I be like that mother that always had a smile on her face, warmth in her heart, and a chuckle followed by a genuine hug when her child makes a mistake?  I tend to mask my inner stress with sarcasm, rather than being present and thinking of the needs of my loved ones.  Progress

Recently, I recalled a saying we have in recovery which places us in an awareness state of our actions, rather than unconsciously being driven by our emotions, worries or fears.  “Act as if…(fill in the blank)”  Act as if… I’m the kindest person in the world.  Act as if… I’m perpetually filled with joy.  Act as if… I were in a really good mood today.  Act as if… I were not annoyed right now, or as if I were light hearted, or non-controlling.  The thing about this is… it really works.  If you wake up in the morning with an intention to treat others with pure, unadulterated kindness, you will discover yourself much more aware of your behaviors and actions prior to them seeping out.  You will take heed in what you say to others, and stop yourself before you express negativity. 

This goes a long way, and for those of us who are seeking self-awareness, this is like placing yourself under the heat first thing in the morning.  It takes the power away from others, or from circumstance, and reminds me that I am responsible for how I behave.  It reminds me to thoughtfully respond, instead of to blindly react.  It places me back into conscious awareness of myself; and the world with all the people, offer me plenty of opportunity to practice compassion and gentleness, as opposed to retorting.

We have to be reminded of ourselves.  We tend to project our inner anger, stress or fears onto the world, but if we make an agreement with ourselves to be more compassionate, even though we don’t exactly feel compassionate, we are teaching ourselves how to become a genuinely compassionate person.  This isn’t about faking your way through life.  It’s simply about setting a daily intention to practice being a better human being.  In time, I believe, this practice becomes an art form of who we are.  After all, our true nature is kindness, goodness, love and well-being.  It’s a good way to shed the ole’ ego and to become genuine.  It also feels better to offer kindness and laughter rather than sighs and sarcasm. 

I am not writing this just to the reader.  I am here reminding myself of what I need to do today, and how I need to be.  I want to walk along the path of grace, and I long to have power in my life, where I am moving mountains.  Often that mountain is my own ego.  What better way to begin the day than telling my ego to go twiddle its invisible thumbs, while my gentle spirit leads the way?  <Great big smile here.>  If I’m going to talk the talk; I’d better walk the walk…

(Speaking of Ego, I wrote a book all about it and it’s free on Kindle this week.  This is my addiction to recovery memoir.) http://www.amazon.com/DEVILS-ALTAR-Dynamic-Journey-Recovery-ebook/dp/B00FO72854/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397310809&sr=8-1&keywords=the+devil%27s+altar

Accepting the Yin and Yang of Ourselves and Channeling Emotion Through Art

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I’ve been watching the series ‘Dexter’ on Netflix.  Though the plot in this show demented, I’m a huge fan of the writing and the profound insight of the narration.  When I watch any sort of television, or sit through movies, I’m interested in the art of the writing, the talent of the actors and the message being relayed.  Rarely do I sit and watch TV for entertainment purposes only.  I’m drawn to dark expressions of art, including (but not limited to) sorcery, psychological thrillers and intelligently written horror (which is rare to find, I know).  If a well-written movie ends in a sinister manner, I want to stand up and clap at the end.  There is nothing like a sharp blow to the senses to get me feeling something intense from within.  I like it when something outside of myself creates a little friction inside of my own body.  It wakes up, gets me thinking and makes me feel alive.  There is no shame in this.  Those entertainers are merely funneling their anger into art.  If people don’t like it, they don’t have to watch, listen, or expose themselves to the artists fury.  There is no harm in the expression of anger when it is being channeled creatively.  We all have a dark side; just some of us are afraid to express it, while others express it destructively.  There is a happy-medium, and it’s called art.

For the longest time, I have been afraid to express my own anger, so it often comes out in a destructive manner.  In treatment, they taught us to sit with our rage, but all I could think about while I was sitting there, was running to a batting cage and slamming some balls across a field.  I also thought it would have been a good idea if they invested in some punching bags.  Anger is difficult for anyone to sit through.  When I am steaming with anger, sometimes I go on a long run to diffuse the energy, but this is not always possible depending on where I am when I’m fuming.  Finally, I’m accepting the fact that I’m often frustrated, annoyed and irritated.  Anger rears it’s ugly head through the likes of my sarcasm, and in random bursts of rage. It hasn’t done me any good to hide this fact about myself.  It comes out one way or another, and I go from being Zen, to being a complete asshole.  This is not cool at all, especially when others are on the receiving end.  I’m not bi-polar, I swear.  I simply haven’t learned how to express my anger in a constructive manner.  It isn’t proper to be angry, you see, so I’ve been conditioned to suppress these dark emotions. 

This is all about to change.

I’m in acceptance of my anger.  It’s fine.  I’m not judging it anymore.  It doesn’t matter where it derived from.  It could even be carried out from a previous lifetime for all I know.  The bottom line is that it’s a part of me that I’ve heedlessly rejected because of shame, but that shame no longer serves me, and the anger doesn’t disappear when I ignore it.  So what am I going to do about it?   I’m already doing it.  I’m writing a dark series of books.  They are twisted, demented, entertaining, extreme and shocking.  I don’t even feel like I’m writing them as they seep through my fingers onto my keyboard… and the release… it’s incredible! I am giving myself permission to explore this “dark passenger” of myself. I’m slowly releasing the rage before it evolves into destruction, like small trembles in the earth that release seismic pressure, which provide relief from a major earthquake.
We tend to judge people who have a dark expression, but the truth is, they are simply aware of their demons, and rather than rejecting them, or letting them get out of control, they have learned a constructive way to channel them. 

Art is the most sacred expression of emotion.  It’s the bridge between the soul and the human being.  The gift of being an artist, is being able to express my dark side without bringing any harm into the world.  And the amazing part about channeling my anger into a series of books… is that it’s fun! If people walk around believing that they are strictly filled with rainbows and unicorns, or that they don’t have a dark side (we are all made up of yin and yang, remember), then they are in denial of themselves.  Suppressed anger will come out eventually, whether behind closed doors or in the daylight for the world to see.  The sad part about the suppression, is that it usually causes harm to others.  I know this from experience.

The weekend is approaching, and I will be busy doing other things besides blogging, so although this isn’t my usual positive message for the day, I hope my readers take the morsel of truth they find here and savor it.  To lighten the mood, here is a little poem I wrote regarding this topic:

THE ARTIST’S WAY

In the hollows of emotion

Lies a significant mountain

Where an Artist must endure

The Dancer discovers her balance

And a Philosopher realizes rest

Is allied with Wisdom

A Dreamer will awaken

In the perils of fear

A Writer’s fervor ignites

As he allots revenge to nature

Painters muse in both love’s spell

And tragedy’s bluster

In regards to pain and bliss

There is no difference

In the Poet’s sentiment

Each carries marvel

Every emotional depth and pike

Embodies great insight

Revealing itself

Through brilliant Human artistry