Seeking Validation From Others

Seeking Approval

Lately I’ve been following my own advice about giving more of myself than I think I have.  You know, the old getting-out-of-my-own-skin routine.  Life has been coming at me like a curve ball apocalypse and for some reason I don’t have the energy to freak out about it.  I know what I have control over, and what I don’t.  Doing the “next right thing” is the only thing I know how to do.  There is almost too much for me to worry about, so why even go there?  I know everything will work out, because so far, things have fallen into place very well.  If it was going to fall apart at all, I think I would see the cracks by now.  From my experience, the universe doesn’t give half of what you need and then abort mission while you flounder along.  If things aren’t supposed to work out when life comes at you hard, then usually there will be a big sock in the gut that tells you not to proceed.  I haven’t gotten that sock in the gut.  In fact, the green lights are blazing as I step into uncharted territory.  I trust myself and I have an overall vision.  Having that vision is paving the way for me like an unfolding bridge before my feet.

I recall a time when I used to look for validation from others, and now, 3.75 years into my recovery, the closer I get to my genuine self, I’m not concerned about needing approval from other people.  For example, it isn’t easy being vegan around carnivores who have strong opinions about eating meat, but being vegan for me is honoring my feelings about animals.  For years, I blocked out the sadness I felt regarding factory farming, and I got to a point where the feelings were too strong for me to ignore.  It was about a year into my recovery when I decided to go with my gut on shifting my diet.  Like everything else in my recovery, I took things really slowly.  I didn’t overwhelm myself with the changes.  I adapted to the earthy food in a way that didn’t shock my body or make me crave a hamburger to the point of going on a fast food bender.  I did it compassionately, like a ceremony of change.  It’s been a couple of years now and I realize that I’m not so focused on food the way I was before.  Food is no longer the center of my universe, and thank the gods, because we only need food for survival.  I got tired of worshiping food and looking forward to meals.  There is so much more to life.  Also, when I’m at a party where there isn’t a lot of food for me to choose from, I’m more focused on my diet than I am about avoiding alcohol, so becoming vegan has had the unexpected effect of shifting my focus away from alcohol.  I also feel much lighter, and I am closer to who I truly am.

I get off-handed judgments a lot for being vegan, but I’m ultimately the one who has to live with myself.  If I were to give in and eat a piece of meat, as often suggested by others, I wouldn’t feel good about it at all.  It may taste amazing, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling horrible about the abused animals.  Some people may call this being too sensitive, but honoring my innermost feelings takes a great amount of strength.  It would be much easier to simply eat the meat when it is offered. I’m very connected to life, and when people say, “Just don’t think about it,” regarding the slaughterhouses, I think to myself, they’re avoiding their true nature and I don’t want to do that anymore.  Recovery for me has been tapping into the well of myself, rather than living on the surface of my emotions.  I go deep because it keeps me in alignment with who I truly am, and in turn, this keeps me sober.  Perhaps from now on when I get glares about my food choices, I will say, “Being vegan keeps me sober.”

In regards to life throwing curve balls, there is always the suggestion that I go backwards and let go of my vision and just give up.  I have a lot on my plate.  I’m responsible for a lot of things, including two young people.  So I think of what it would look like if I stepped out of my vision and went back to my hometown and took another job that just paid the bills and got a place to live near my family.  It’s not that simple though.  There are so many elements to consider.  None of those elements flow together the way things are flowing now.  If they were, I would take a step back in a heartbeat, but I feel very strongly that I am where I’m supposed to be.  I’ve met amazing people along the way.  I feel connected to where I am.  From an outsider’s point of view, I don’t know what it looks like, but from where I stand, everything feels right.  I’m not forcing anything to happen.  I’m simply following an inner pull that has much more commonsense than it may seem.  I don’t think like most people.  I feel.  I feel my way along (because that’s what keeps me sober).

If you go through life seeking validation from others, you never truly get the full effect of living your life in such a way that it feels the universe is embracing you.  Getting guidance from people is one thing, but drawing answers about what you should do and where you should go, needs to come from within.  Yesterday my daughter was struggling with a decision about a friend.  The friend is always causing trouble, but she ultimately has a good heart.  She’s simply misguided.  We love the friend.  She has not influenced my daughter in a negative way.  In fact, on the contrary, but my daughter has been given advice from several people to not be friends with her because of her negative behavior.  My advice was to embrace the friend, to bring her over more often, and to make her a part of our family.  Give her guidance where it is needed.  When I said this, my daughter was so overwhelmed with relief.  She didn’t feel right at all about what other people were telling her.  I said, “You’ve got to listen to your own gut.  You can’t expect other people to tell you what’s right and what’s wrong.  You’ve bonded with this person, and you know that she is ultimately a good person.  She just needs to be taught certain things.”  My daughter is wise beyond her years and told me that her friend claims that she can’t help it that she is often “rude.”  My daughter told her, “YOU aren’t rude.  You ACT rude.  That’s not WHO you are.”  I was impressed.  I mean, that’s exactly right.  If her friend buys into that label about herself, perhaps one day she will literally be a rude individual, but we’re not allowing her to buy into that label.  We’re trying to show her that her behaviors don’t define her.  If she begins affecting us in a negative way we’ll put up our boundaries, but for now it seems that she simply needs a little bit of extra love and a lot of acceptance.

Labels don’t define us.  Religious preferences don’t define us.  Political views don’t define us.  My veganism doesn’t define me.  Getting validation from other people doesn’t breathe life into my existence.  I’ve found a way to stand on my own two feet and to draw from the deep well within myself.  I’ve had a lot of curve balls thrown at me lately, and some of them hurt, but they don’t define how I ultimately feel.  Nothing will sway my stance because I know who I am and where I am going.  I will be tested and tried and pushed and pulled, and I will continue standing on my own two feet and drawing from the deep well within myself.  I have to live with me for the rest of my life.  I’m the only person who has to live with me for the remainder of my life (twenty-four hours per day, seven days a week).  So if I’m seeking validation from sources outside of myself, or drawing from someone else’s well, I will never ever experience the eternal joy that continues flowing even while I’m facing unexpected adversity.  I will only have moments of happiness, which never kept me sober.

What Path of Treatment is Best for You?

Path toward Mt. Tam

Each time I go to an AA meeting with a speaker who says they got sober in AA, and they have several years sober because of AA, and they are living it up (thanks to AA) – I stir in my seat.  AA works for a lot of people.  That rigorous honesty thing and sponsorship is the answer for many.  It also doesn’t work for many because some of us are too clever for our own good.  I remember often wanting a drink after some of those meetings.  It takes a willingness beyond the desire to drink in order to do the work and to surround yourself with people who can support you along the way.  It takes discipline, and that’s a word I couldn’t relate to back then.

When I first started going to AA, I had no idea how self-centered I was, and I was one of those who worked my own program.  I thought I was being honest with my sponsor, but in retrospect I see that I had my own agenda.  Some people realize early on in their drinking (before several multi-car train wrecks) that they need help, and they are smart enough to get their ass straightened out before it gets rock bottom embarrassing.  Not me.  I wanted to see how far I could wrestle with my affliction of alcoholism before it took me to places that I wouldn’t dare confess to a priest (although I’m not Catholic, but they supposedly hear a lot of terrible things in those little booths).  I had to scrape my ass on the rocky bottom of the hole that I dug myself into (not once, but several times over).  It was a seven year rock bottom for me.  AA was the piece of cake that I ate during those seven years, which kept me briefly sober.  In other words, I needed something more intense than a meeting once or twice a day.  My self-destruction and self-loathing was beyond those thin walls that displayed posters of steps and helpful sayings.  I know I’m not the only one here.

I had no idea that there were several treatment centers in the Bay Area (where I live) that were county funded.  If I had known it during those seven years of my toilet bowl spiral, I would have most likely got the help I needed a lot sooner, but I may have not been so desperate for help then, to choose the most intense treatment center of the bunch (besides Delancey Street in San Francisco, which is two years of militant rehabilitation).  I may have gone for easy-street and chosen a program that let me do whatever I wanted, which was mostly sit around and watch tv, eat garbage and drink coffee.  I know a lot of people who go into treatment for a sabbatical from life.  That doesn’t work.  I went to a sixth month program that ripped my head out of my ass and slammed it into the mirror until I saw my bad behaviors around my drinking so clearly that I pretty much left there licking my wounds.  I was chastised and humbled and awakened.  Reality slammed me in that program like madness into the Hatter.  I woke up to myself and saw what I was, which was a piece of shit.  But six months of that, plus ten months of sober-living and aftercare, brought me to complete wholeness in myself.  I know a lot of people who go to 30-60 day treatment programs and come out of it feeling refreshed and alive, just to discover that they can’t cope in the real world.  You’re safe in those programs, you see, and then suddenly you’re exposed to reality again.  When I graduated from New Bridge Foundation (in Berkeley), I not only coped in the real world, but I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted in the real world, and I knew how to go after it, sober.  That’s the place I wanted to be, so that’s why I chose a behavior modification program as opposed to a cushy institution with TVs and endless pots of coffee.  I was willing.  When I first got into New Bridge, everything was weird and regiment.  The clients wore slacks and button down shirts.  There were a thousand rules to follow, and a hundred plastic red chairs.  The counselors kept saying, “hold onto your red chair.”  It was confusing at first, and everything got under my skin.  I was angry often, and bored, and annoyed, but I kept sitting in those red chairs, and standing in their infamous mirror, and eventually, I “got it.”

Here I am nearly four years later, and I know beyond the shadow of doubt if I were stuck on a deserted island out in the middle of nowhere, by myself, with a shit ton of fermenting fruit surrounding me, and there were no AA meetings to speak of, I would not get drunk.  That’s the place I wanted to be in my sobriety.  More than anything, I just wanted to trust myself, so I guess the question you have to ask yourself when choosing a route of sobriety is, where do you want to see yourself at the end?  What kind of sobriety do you want?  Do you want to live your life to the fullest, or do you want to struggle for the remainder of your life with your affliction?  Do you want to know how to live a fulfilling existence sober, or do you want to just get by?  Because it really is your choice.  I don’t go to many AA meetings.  I go hiking.  I go to the beach often.  I write as much as I breathe.  I meditate and listen to positive speakers on YouTube.  I spend a lot of time with my family.  I surround myself with people who are filled with integrity and who love me dearly.  I laugh often.  I go to meetings sometimes to recall what it was like.  I do a constant inventory of my life, and when I’m wrong, I admit it as soon as possible.  I know a lot of people go to meetings to give back to Newcomers, and I think that’s amazing.  I try to give back to the world everyday I’m in it.  I do my best with what I have.  I put up a lot of boundaries with people, even if it means pissing them off, because it keeps me centered and sober.  I stay spiritually connected and surrender to things I have no control over, everyday.  That’s what treatment did for me, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way, even though it sucked much of the time.  I’m eternally grateful for that place.  I still have friends from New Bridge, and most of my graduating group is still sober and very strong as a whole.  That’s pretty incredible right there.

If you are trying to figure out how to stay sober, you’ve got to be willing to do the work.  It isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do everything at once.  You get to do it one moment at a time, and there will be a lot of support around you during the process.  Whether you choose AA, NA, or a rigorous program like I did, do it willingly and with discipline.  Do it to the point that you get to a place where you completely trust yourself.  Because until you completely trust yourself, you are a slave to your drug of choice.  So ask yourself exactly what it is you want, and then go the distance.  There are so many resources and programs that are county and state funded.  If you are worried about leaving work behind, and leaving your family during treatment, think of how not-present you are for your job and family now.  Ninety days or six months of treatment is a drop in the bucket.  When I got out, I found a job immediately and my family was happier than ever to see me.  They rooted me on throughout the entire process, and they supported me going in there because they were tired of my shit.  I have a friend who’s job was waiting for him a year later.  The universe will fall into place for you when you get the help you need.  It truly will, so do whatever it takes, and do it as intensely as you went after your high.  That’s the way to go, and if you have any questions about my journey, please feel free to write them in the comments below, or email me at ArticulatingMagic@gmail.com.

Getting Past the Physical and Emotional, Into the Eternal

Path of Light

Over the course of a couple of years, I keep running into parallel situations where I am confronted with circumstances beyond my capability for immediate resolve.  The circumstances are stressful beyond measure.  Two times, I could barely get out of bed because of the weight I harbored, but I reached out to my friends or family each time, who helped me find the strength to trust in the outcome.  What am I asking for in my life?  I have to reflect on this, knowing these situations are created by an inner desire for something.  I am of the understanding that I am the creator of my own life experiences.  The answer is that I want to move past some of my old ways of thinking, especially about money.  For years, I have “never had enough,” and in each of these situations, I’ve been stretched and pulled and contorted into a place where I’ve finally had to let go and trust that there would be enough, and there always has been more than enough in each of these situations, although in the moment, I would have never guessed that I would be even better than ever, if I merely looked past what was right in front of me, and how I felt at the time.  The one thing I did not do was go down a dark path of thinking.  I acknowledged my fears, but did not get caught in their trap, and I know now, that this is key in overcoming the most difficult situations.

I find myself almost laughing today because here I sit with another circumstance that has me mentally contorted.  My roommate is basically bailing on her responsibility for the remainder of our lease.  We have seven more months on our lease and rent where I live is not cheap, which is why I got a roommate in the first place.  I can’t exactly get another roommate because of the way our apartment is set up.  It would have to be with a close friend or family member because of the space.  My roommate was like family, so it worked out okay, but I cannot replace her, nor do I really want to at this point.  My children and I need our own space, and none of my family lives near here, so it’s not like I can offer anyone close to me a place to live.  I’m on my own now.  Suddenly.  Just got an income increase two weeks ago, and a week later, my roommate tells me she can’t pay the rent.  Kind of ironic, and yes it’s a blessing about the income increase, but how incredibly scary and frustrating.  I was going to buy a laptop with that extra money so that I could work from home. Now I’m spending that extra money (and some) to pay the rent.  So much for the laptop… (but, wait)…

Yesterday I was riding with the Realtor I work with as his Transaction Coordinator.  We were going to look at a historic house that is going on the market with the two other Realtors I work with, as their Transaction Coordinator.  During the drive, he asked how I was holding up with the “roommate situation.”  I told him that I was bummed because I needed to buy a laptop with the extra money, so that I could work from home.  He knew that I was looking at laptops just a week prior. The device that I was using was a tablet, and it was quirky with some of the online systems we use, so it was taking me several hours to do what would normally take a half hour on a PC.  We were on the way to his house to grab some signs.  He just bought a device like mine, but newer, so he mentioned that he had a laptop just sitting around collecting dust.  He grabbed it when he got to his house, bag and all, and plopped it on my lap.  “Here you go.  All you need to do is erase all my crap.  It’s a good laptop.”  I opened the HP and was surprised to see that it was in great condition.  I’m using it now and it’s faster than my device, plus much more convenient.  It is everything I need to work from home, and it has all the bells and whistles that my device doesn’t have.  Sure, I would love to have a brand new system, but I didn’t have to pay a dime and I got something handed to me faster than I could have done research on what to purchase.  This is how life unfolds for me.  What I need is provided.  When I ask, I receive.  When I let go, things fall right into place.

I don’t exactly know how I’m going to manage the next few months without feeling overwhelmed, but from experience, I know that it will all work out.  My roommate situation wasn’t exactly convenient like I had hoped anyway.  There were several issues, and I wasn’t happy the way things were, so having her move out is a very positive thing, emotionally.  Usually when you remove negativity from your life experience, it makes way for more positive things to come into fruition.  I’ve noticed that when I am emotionally tired, or stressed or frustrated, it is difficult to write, but when I am at peace, the writing flows.  Other things flow better too, like money, and good relationships with like-minded people.

One of my very close friends got really angry in empathy for me when I explained what was going on with my roommate.  I was too drained to take on any anger at the time, nor did I want to sink into my frustration like that.  It just takes too much energy, but it also reminded me that I’m no longer caught up in the physical appearance of things like I used to be.  I am aware that something greater is unfolding for me and my children.  It isn’t apparent yet, and it is scary as hell, but I truly have no control.  This is all beyond my capability for immediate resolve.  After my friend had his fit of anger (which was really entertaining, btw) he told me something he had told me once before a couple of years ago while I was going through something similar.  “The universe won’t let you fall,” he gently said.  This was after I mentioned that if I couldn’t make it, I would be okay.  It isn’t the end of the world if I have to start from square one again, but he assured me that the universe won’t let me fall because I’m doing everything I can to take care of business and keep a roof over our heads.  I knew he was right, so I relaxed into the couch (thank god it’s mine) feeling very grateful for his affirmation.

We all want life to be a certain way and to unfold at a certain time.  From tons and tons of experience with sudden changes, my life rarely goes according to how I want it to go, or in my timing, but I have also grown incredibly strong and wise during my journey.  I don’t have control over most things, but I certainly have control over myself.  I have control over how I think, what my vision is, who I hang around with and how I respond to circumstances.  I have control over what is important to me and identifying those things that are not a priority.  My journey has been more about me than it has been about the outside world.  In the meantime, I’ve grown closer to my children, my friends, and my family, and I have a very good working relationship with the several Realtors I assist.  I am so incredibly fortunate to live in the area I live, collaborating with down-to-earth people, and that I have a positive outlook, rather than a negative one.

There is still a lot of work to be done, and I can improve in many areas of my life, but I know that when I focus on that which is beyond the physical and the emotional, the knots in my life work themselves out.  If I need help, I ask.  If I need a friend to talk to, I reach out.  If I need support, I go to a meeting.  If I’m overwhelmed to the point of feeling paralyzed, I turn it over to the great HP and focus on being of service to another human being.  There is an eternal place with an abundance of grace.  This is where I go when the skin meets the pavement in my life.  This is the space where I am set free from the burdens of everyday uncontrollable circumstances.

Words Get in the Way (Coming From a Writer)

Debate

Wherever we turn, there is an ongoing debate.  The latest I’ve been reading and hearing about is the debate between parents who vaccinate their children, and those who choose not to vaccinate their children.  I’m just wondering what all the fuss is about, deriving from the parents of children who are vaccinated.  If your children are vaccinated, then why are you so concerned about the damn measles?  Your kid is not going to contract the disease at all.  Then there is the irony that these same parents who are furious about the non-immunized children are (more often than not) allowing their children to eat food that is chalk full of chemicals and sugar, which is a much greater killer than the measles.  What we eat, is a direct result of our health, and look how many of us are obese, sick, over medicated and dying of heart disease and cancer each year.  WAY more than will ever be killed by the flu or measles.  We actually have control over what we put in our mouths, yet our health is out of control because of what we put in our mouths.  Perhaps we should give the government control of what we eat also.  You know, to save us from ourselves because we are so naturally self-destructive, and we can’t help ourselves from stopping at Burger King twice a week because it’s so convenient and cheap.  Maybe the government should crack down on fast food restaurants to stop the epidemic of terrible health.  How far is our lack of personal responsibilty and self-awareness going to push us away from having a free-will until we don’t have a choice of what toilet paper we use?

I suppose all these debates occurring are simply fillers between natural disasters and impending wars.  There has to be something to gnaw on – something to argue about.  A rift is needed to keep the country in constant segregation.  We’re divided as a country – as a whole planet really.  Politics thrives on debate.  Religion empowers itself through its regurgitation of misinterpreted scripture.  The truth is nowhere to be found in people’s opinions or their watered down interpretations of words written thousands of years ago.  The reality is, we are parrots and puppets being duped into debating these issues, which are never resolved (because people who want their freedom will always fight for a choice in the matter).  The final resolution is to give up our own power to someone in authority, because we can’t figure out how to be responsible for our own individual issues.  We’re too busy worrying about everyone else while we’re smoking, drinking and driving through fast-food restaurants.  Save yourself from measles by getting your immunizations, and then go overdose on drugs.  That’s how incredibly stupid our rational truly is. Seriously.

I try not to debate.  I mean, I get scripture thrown at me once in a while because I speak my mind, which goes against a lot of what I learned in church growing up.  I appreciate that people want to keep “God’s Word” alive and everything. I know they mean well, and they probably think I’m very mislead, but if they really get to the bottom of what I’m saying, they would understand that I have taken everything I’ve read and learned in church and whittled it down to the raw material that I can use in my everyday life.  I don’t care what Paul wrote, or what John spoke.  Just show me what’s real, and teach me how to live in a way so that I am no longer suffering.  Teach me to love, and to be compassionate.  Teach me to be present for my life, and to be kind to others.  Teach me how to be genuine. Show me the way by being an example, not by memorizing the Bible and throwing it in my face. Bottom line that shit for me. Be it. That’s how I do it.

I got caught up in scripture for years, and I was spun out during all of those years.  Self-destructive to the point of nearly killing myself.  I’m not blaming the Bible for my behavior, but I am saying that there is a wisdom to living this life that has nothing to do with a story about a man who died on a cross, or figuring out which political party to join.  Wisdom is not in the words that Martin Luther King spoke, or in the churches, or in an AA meeting.  Wisdom is a knowing; it’s a way of life.  It’s how people compassionately respond to life, not how they negligently react to circumstances, or to mainstream news.  Wisdom is an action word, not a pontification.  And I’m stupid to even be talking about wisdom, because it’s impossible to discover it in someone’s words.  You have to live it.  You have to be it.  And the same goes for “truth,” which is also greatly debated.  Truth isn’t breaking down someone’s dirty laundry and airing it on television.  Behind someone’s terrible behavior, is their conditioning by another person, or a group of people, or a society.  So the truth can never be truly exposed, or offered in complete wholeness.  It’s very subjective, and we debate subjectivity, which is stupid.

The bottom line, is get to the bottom line.  Stop pointing fingers at other people and stand solidly in your own shoes.  Fine if you don’t agree with someone’s choice, but no one should ever have to wage war over having a choice. Choice was freely given to each one of us. Yes the world is in a chaotic state, but the only way you can make a change is by practicing everything you wish the world to be.  Turn that shit around on yourself.  Once you do, you won’t care what other people are doing, or how they’re responding to life because you’ll realize that the real work to be done, never ends with you.  You keep finding something wrong with other people, just to discover that you have more work to do on yourself.  When you get to a place where you aren’t judging, and you discover complete compassion for even the worst of human beings, then you’ve gotten somewhere, but instead of pontificating truth and wisdom, you’ll be more concerned about how you can be of service to them.  You will have transformed.  You will have been set free from debating subjective matters, and from the maddening thoughts that keep you in a state of constant suffering. I’m not there yet. I doubt I ever will be, so I have no time to worry about the way other people live their lives.

I know most people don’t care about what I’m saying here, but I do.  It’s a reminder to myself to shut up and just be (and go stuff my face with a damn carrot once in a while instead of debating).  If we want to solve our greatest issues, we’ve got to live the resolve, instead of debating them. What we debate isn’t ever the issue anyway. We need to eradicate ignorance before we worry about the measles.

When Life Is a Big Fat Question Mark

What Next

Not knowing what comes next

has its benefits

something greater than me

has my back

This mystery is not a tragedy

merely a vestige to remain

on track

Impending Doom, or an Opportunity to Spread Your Wings… Your Choice

Positive Thinking

“Everything is going to fall right into place.  It’s going to be okay.  Everything always works out for you.  Life just keeps getting better.”  These are the statements I make when life suddenly throws a curveball, or when I’m making big decisions that feel right, but look scary.  I’ve developed this positive self-talk over the last couple of years after going through a period where I tested the waters with positive thinking, which proved to be effective in accelerating the trajectory of my life.  At the time, I was bombarded by negativity (my own, as well as other peoples).  This old pattern of thinking told me that if I didn’t drudge in my own filth from my past mistakes, then I was terribly delusional.  The irony was, if I had sat around and drudged through my shit, I couldn’t have opened myself up to the incoming opportunities, or trusted my gut (which was a foghorn at the time).  I would have been listening to my head; a nagging, biting Chihuahua at my heels.  My gut was like, “GO FOR IT!  Take a chance.  Trust that everything will be okay and it will.  Try complete positive thinking out for once and see how everything will fall into place for you…”  It championed me.  Who the hell would you listen to in that situation?  (The Chihuahua… Really?!)

I haven’t made the best decisions along the way.  I’m still living and learning.  In retrospect, I would have trusted myself a little bit more, and stretched myself much further.  What I’ve learned the most throughout this experience of positive thinking and moving forward, is that you can’t play it safe.  If you’re going to go for it, you’ve got to freefall once in a while.  That’s the scary part, but it’s also liberating because you realize that when you spread your wings, you’re inviting the universe to breathe the wind beneath you. You don’t believe me? Try it and tell me otherwise.  When you let go, you’ll be carried.  This is simply a law of nature.  If you are doing everything to the best of your ability, and you have a vision, while letting go of outcome, and you keep focus on that vision, I guarantee everything that occurs thereafter (no matter how unpredictable), is a step toward that vision.  Things that seem like setbacks are usually opportunities to shed old ideas, worn out beliefs, tired ways of thinking, or they are there to ground you even deeper.  Sometimes we have to drudge through old shit, but usually it’s not all at once.  There is so much grace and abundance when you surrender and then spread your wings.  When things come up that seem like a punishment, it’s usually an opportunity to change your thinking around it.  (i.e. This is coming up for me today because I am able to handle it now. No matter what, I am lovingly being guided and protected.   I will overcome this because I always do. Things will work out and everything will be okay…).  Whatever you need to say to yourself in order to deliver empowerment to your subconscious will pave the path for a magical unfolding of events.  It will seem magical, but that’s simply the power of positive thinking.

There is a catch, however.  You can’t be an idiot or an ungrounded, irresponsible asshole when you make the decision to let go of the past and move forward.  There are always people to think about.  You can’t be self-centered and squirrely.  You must be rooted in who you are, and confident in your stride.  If you’re harming yourself or another human being along the way, you’ve got to stop and take responsibility.  You have to regroup and really look at your intensions.  Living in blind faith is not a dog-eat-dog philosophy.  It’s a humbling experience and you should consistently reground yourself.  If you are affecting other people negatively – then something’s definitely off.  The universe is a loving place for all (it truly is – it’s simply a matter of trusting in that abundance of love.  If you think it’s an unfair world, then that will be your experience).  If you’re moving too fast, or pushing too hard to get where you’re going, then stop and surrender again.  Keep surrendering along the way.  We (recovering addicts) have a tendency to shove our way through life to get what we want.  Once in a while, you’ve got to take a backseat to what’s occurring and hang in there, silent. Sometimes you hit a wall, or you feel like you’re failing.  This is just another opportunity to grow, stretch yourself and try a new way of thinking.  Laugh aloud and don’t take life too seriously, but dear gawd, think of others before yourself.  If you have children, their well-being comes first. If you have a spouse, communicate with them along the way. If you have a job depending on you, be responsible. And if you don’t know all of this yet, then you probably need a lot more grounding before you should be trying to fly.  Ground yourself.  I can’t repeat this enough.  Keep centering yourself and rooting yourself in who you are, and in your recovery, and in your practice of positive thinking.  Get a little air beneath your wings and take a small leap before you go jumping off of cliffs.  For example, if you have a vision for your life (like say you want to change careers to save the world from bad nutrition, but your household is depending on your income from your position at the bank as a teller), take small actions to get to the point of saving the world from bad nutrition.  Don’t go out and quit your job today and start preaching on the streets about real food as opposed to GMO’s.  You have to have a plan, or some kind of idea how to shift from one career to the next.  If you don’t have a family depending on you, then being brave like that may be okay, but always consider who you’re going to affect.  That’s all I’m saying.  We don’t need to rush to get anywhere.  Like I said, when you have a vision for your life, and you do the next right thing, everything will fall into place at the exact right time.  Let go along the way, but don’t be foolish.  There is no hurry.  When you have to make a quick decision, weigh everything out.  Feel yourself out.  Bounce ideas off of people who are actually wise, not idiots who follow the crowd.  (Sorry, but there are a lot of those).  Use commonsense, along with your heart.

Along the way, notice your fear, hone in on your doubt, but don’t succumb to either of those things.  The fear is a mockery.  The doubt is self-deprecating.  They are phantoms who come along to try and hold you back, but once you identify them, they have no power over you.  Oh, and they will come.  They always do.  The more aware you are, the less they will taunt you, and pretty soon you will be grateful for their significance.  They are the arrows pointing you in the right direction, which is forward marching through that shit.

Everything is going to be okay.  Things will work out because they always do.  If I need to take a step back, I will.  If I have to face something difficult, I can handle it now.  I’m not going to sink into the stress.  I’m going to trust that what is occurring is for the best.  Eyes open wide.  Heart filled with love.  Trust.  Trust.  Trust.  Be present.  Stay focused.  Know that this universe is guiding me, protecting me and full of abundance.  I don’t know the end result, but that’s okay because this is simply an experience.  None of the difficult stuff is the end of me.  It’s the journey that matters, not the destination…

Dealt a Bad Hand of Cards? The Good News Is… We All Were

Hand of Cards

A friend of mine was telling me about a woman who died of heartache after her son committed suicide.  He placed part of the blame on her in the note he wrote before killing himself.  Sadly he was in such a poor state of mind, that he probably didn’t realize his words would destroy his mother.  Even if he did do it intentionally at the time, it was not an act of good reasoning.  He wrote something and reacted to life during the moment it was eating him alive.  I don’t know anything about him, but I know from experience that life can feel like it’s swallowing you whole at times, especially if you are suffering in addiction or with mental illness.  I don’t know if this young man was, but he certainly felt like a victim.  His mother, in turn, succumbed to his victimization.

I recall a time in my life when I felt like I was dealt a hand of shitty cards, and was pissed that I was stuck with them.  Instead of playing them, I threw them down and ran away from the table (a.k.a. life – myself).  I had no idea at the time, how strong, sharp, courageous, or creative I was.  I also had no clue about something very significant, that I understand now.  I was not only the player holding this hand of cards, but I was also the dealer.  Everyone sitting around that card table of life, was me in another form.  Everyone at the table is playing a role and most of us are bluffing without even knowing it.

When we’re born, we immediately wake up in this plane of reality surrounded in circumstances.  Some of us are lucky to be born in a loving home under a nice roof in a country that’s basically free, while others are not so lucky.  Either way, it’s how you think about things that determine your experience.  There are self-destructive addicts that come from a loving home in a free country, and there are brilliant people who are changing the world for the better, who have derived from poverty and abuse.  It’s not the circumstances that mold the outcome of your life.  It’s how you think and how you respond to your experiences that create your life.  If something terrible happened to me today, and I was thrown in prison, I could either go in there as a victim and mold myself into the negativity, or I could make the best out of the situation and remain a positive influence on the other women.

We always have a choice in life.  It’s not just a hand of cards that we are dealt.  It’s knowing that the hand is an opportunity to be strategic and willing to play the game.  Any of us can fold at any given time. Most of us carry on and hope for the best, but what if you knew something that other people don’t know about the game?  What if you realize that you are the one dealing the cards, and you understand that this whole experience is all a bluff?  What if you wake up one day with the same shitty hand of cards and you pay more attention to your anger about the cards, than dwelling on the cards themselves?  What if you look at the cards you are dealt, along with the smirks on the faces of the other players, and you suddenly know your agony?  What happens then? You wake up. You realize the game is a farce.  It’s a set up.  It’s set up to piss you off, to make you feel like a victim, to break you down, and to finally turn you inward.  It’s here to make you figure out something beyond the game.  There are hints along the way, but we get so caught up in the game that we completely lose ourselves.  We forget what we are constantly dealing with, which has nothing to do with other players, or the cards (the circumstances).  These are all merely reflections of something greater.  When you get this, you can either continue playing the game with a smile on your face, knowing it’s all a bluff, or you can stand up at the table (life), take a bow for your performance in the game, and move on with the understanding that you can now create whatever it is you want from here on out.  You aren’t stuck at that table.  You have a choice to move along to new experiences, but first you must recognize yourself in every aspect of each experience you are having, and in each person you meet.  Then an only then will you understand that you have never been a victim of a bad hand of cards.  You were simply the dealer disguising yourself as a frustrated player, in order to wake up and realize that you are truly the dealer.

I know a lot of people that succumb to an idea that life is filled with adversity in order to remind us that there is a god, and that we can count on him.  That’s part of it.  It’s always good to know that there is a bigger picture, but it’s better to know that you have a responsibility while you are here.  If you throw your hands to God and decide to suffer because you think it’s “His will,” then you aren’t fully getting it.  The idea is to overcome your suffering by understanding that this whole gig is a set up to discover your freedom.  The suffering is like a bad hand of cards.  When you notice your suffering, rather than the bad hand of cards, then you are getting somewhere.  That somewhere is the place that you came here to discover.  It feels like home, because it is.

There is nothing outside of yourself that is more brilliant or better off than what you’ve brought to the table.  No one else’s hand of cards are better than yours.  It only appears that way so that your frustration emanates something very clear.  When you realize what you’ve brought to the table, you understand that the cards were merely a tool along your journey of self-discovery, and you’ll get up and thank all those players in your life who were bluffing to show you the way to yourself.  Most people remain caught up in the game.  Let them be.  Now that you know, you are set free.