Just Be Who You Are (No Matter Who THEY Are)

Be You

The worst thing for any artist (I’m certain) is when you complete something that you’ve poured your heart and soul into, and you look at it with the sudden realization that it’s crap.  I don’t think there is an artist around who doesn’t have a little voice in their head telling them that they suck, and once in a while taunting them to give up altogether.  It’s even worse if the artist has no other outlet.  Last week when I was considering no longer writing, the only thing that came to mind was to buy a surf board and call it a day.

It’s so weird and awkward to be faced with insecurities out of nowhere when you’ve moved along feeling quite secure.  You followed your gut, and everything felt so intense and right, so you went with it for months at a time, but you were kind of in your own world during that duration, and then you get out into the real world around people who seem to have something that you don’t have, and immediately you’re like, “I’m clueless.  I’ve been delusional this whole time, or naive, or perhaps just foolish.”  You stand there and feel like your legs have been kicked from beneath your torso, and if you’re anything like me, you don’t know what to do with your hands.  I’m always looking around for napkins to shred in these situations.  So you go home and you take it all in, and you’re like, “What am I supposed to do now that I know I’m lacking everything.”  It sweeps over you for a few days, while confusion is poking at you to go down a different path.  I should be more literary and less visionary.  I should be more like her, or after the same things as him…  At middle age, you feel like you’re in high school again and you’re wondering which bridge is closest to home (Richmond or Golden Gate) so you can jump off, but you laugh at yourself for being so dramatic, just like in high school.  I’m just going to buy a surf board, you think.  And call it a day.  I have absolutely no place in this world.  Then you just stand there for a while not buying into the confusion.  By just observing it you realize that it’s really beneficial to see your insecurities, because those pockets of weakness inside yourself need some serious attention.  So you decide to be compassionate toward yourself and to not make any sudden decisions or changes.  There’s something brewing within.  You know it.  And because of this moment of terror, and facing the terror (rather than pretending it didn’t happen), you grow.  You grow stronger, wiser, a little more in tune with yourself.  You become a little more rooted in who you are, because you didn’t sway in the moment of confusion.  You just stood there and allowed it to sweep over you, like an oak tree standing tall and strong in a winter wind.  Some old branches got blown off, and you feel a little bit bare, but you’re still standing there.  Those old branches and leaves aren’t who you are.  They’re simply images that deflect the whole of you.  They often hide you, even from yourself, but when they get swept away unexpectedly, you get a good look at yourself, which is so beneficial, because you’re bigger and stronger than those parts of yourself that wither and die (the images).  You’re something of greater value, and though you can’t put your finger on what that is, (because it’s impossible to identify something so empty of identification) you know it’s significant and that you should spend more energy on that part of you, which is always growing and becoming stronger.  It’s beyond the illusions you put out to the world to help you fit in.  I think it’s good to know that you don’t always fit in, because it reminds you to root yourself into the ground, rather than showing off your leaves.

Artists are faced with doubt more than the average person because many of them are placing themselves out for scrutiny.  Opinions of other people about your work is so subjective, so it’s important to have a vision for where you’re headed and to not get lost in the maze of other people’s standards.  This applies in life as well.  I may work a menial job, which will be judge by certain individuals who have secured themselves a fabulous career, but I also know that it’s incredibly temporary.  I work the job to pay the bills.  My vision for my life goes way beyond the office.  So I can’t get caught up in the disapproval of other people.  Comparing our artwork to artists in a different genre, is foolish.  I mean, I get scoffed at once in a while by literary snobs who don’t think what I write is “real” writing, but half of them haven’t written a fraction of what I’ve written (I’ve prudently observed).  At least I’m putting my work out there, rather than just standing around and talking about my ideas for the book that I haven’t written yet, or making excuses for why I haven’t written anything.  I’m getting better each time I complete a manuscript.  Anyone who’s completed writing a book, knows the struggles, dedication, and hard work it takes to actually finish the job.  Those who have done it usually respect anyone who at least finishes writing a book, no matter the subject.  It’s admirable in any case, especially because you’re basically standing there naked for the world to see you (if they are that interested)… and that takes guts.  I think standing there with your guts hanging out says more about you than your artwork.  Your artwork is the leaves.   Your courage is the tree.

To actually stand there and have the courage to admit that you may suck, yet not giving up in the face of defeat, is like rooting yourself into the ground, shedding old leaves and spreading your branches out toward the sun a little bit farther.  When you are faced with these uncomfortable adversities, you’re challenged enough to keep becoming who you are deep down inside, rather than shallowly striving to be like everyone else.  Good for you.  You only spend moments with other people.  You spend a lifetime with yourself, so don’t let the world sway you.  When you feel shaken, root yourself in deeper, stand taller and let go of those leaves that no longer suit you.  Ask yourself if you’re missing something that you may want to work on from here on out.  Trust in the process of feeling confused and insecure once in a while.  That confusion and insecurity is giving you a good opportunity to look at yourself, and to recall your vision, and to see if you’re on track.  I think it’s good to remind ourselves that everyone feels insecure once in a while, but those who are great, strive not for greatness, but to merely be themselves.

Limbo is Only Good at a Party, Not So Much in Everyday Life

Limbo

The one game I am terrible at is Limbo.  Sadly, I’m not limber enough to limbo, but I’m talking of the physical game here, not the mental/emotional one.  I was the champion at the mental one, except it never got me anywhere (um… because the mental/emotional game of limbo keeps you stationary), so there was no true championship.  Reality limbo is like a stagnant river.  Everything just gets swirled into that one place of non-action until it eventually stops the flow, and begins stinking to high heaven.

On my morning run this week, I noticed a new sign sitting up on a chair at this shabby/chic store that I love.  It says, “WAKE UP AND BE AWESOME!”

Wake up and be awesome

I saw this after making the decision that I wasn’t going to waiver any longer when it came to making decisions.  I have spent the last several months wavering back and forth about so many things.  It has become incredibly exasperating.  I’m the kind of person who wants concise answers about things.  Just give me the damn bottom line.  Tell me what to, where to go, who to talk to (how not to pick up a drink).  Give me solid lines, man.  But something has changed for me since I’ve been in recovery.  I’m more about feeling my way through life, rather than thinking my through it, or making decisions based on logic.  And this is a huge shift for me because I’m an “all or none” type of individual, and when you’re feeling your way through things, lines can get kind of blurry.  I think this has been my problem lately.  Logic tells me one thing, and my gut tells me another.  So I’m in limbo, but when I made a decision earlier in the week to follow my gut, and then I saw this sign, it was like the bulb in my head ignited.  It’s not about what I do, really.  It’s about how I feel while I’m doing it.  If I make a decision to “feel awesome” per say (and I have made this decision, btw), then I’m focusing my energy inward, which will project (create) an outward physical reality that is pretty f-ing awesome.

It’s true.   We get caught up in physical reality because it’s solid, but we forget that there is a whole universe occurring right inside of us, which actually projects that physical reality.  If you’re not paying attention to yourself, life seems pretty random, but if you are self-aware, everything that unfolds before you is thoughtfully developed by your well-trained thoughts.  I have literally “thought” people out of my path by not thinking about them at all.  By basically telling the universe that I don’t want to have the experience I’m having with them, I’ve rid negative people out of my life.  I do it all the time.  I just don’t give attention to those people, or I give them direct attention to move it on out, and they go away.  I know I can do this with everything.  If I need more money, I focus on money coming in, rather than dreading what I don’t have right now.  If I want more friends, I open myself up to that experience, instead of basking in my loneliness.  We all have the power to create our experiences by focusing on what we do want in life.  The bottom line (ah… here it is), is that we essentially want to feel good.  In order to feel good, you have to have a positive attitude, no matter what’s occurring.  So what does this have to do with limbo?  Everything.

It’s all about waking up and saying, “I am going to feel awesome today.”  I’m going to put my all into whatever it is I’m doing.  If I made a decision to remain at my job, then I’m going to get focused and work hard.  If I made a decision to be in this relationship, then I’m going to give it my all.  If I made a decision to get out of this relationship, then I’m not looking back.  If I decide to lose twenty pounds this year, then I’m NOT going to screw around with sugar and carbs.  If I do binge out on Twinkies, then I’m going to feel guilty.  My goal is to feel awesome, so screw that Twinkie (do people even eat those things anymore?).

I know this is easier said than done, but if you’re focused on how you feel, rather than spending a great amount of time focused on physical reality results, then the results will reflect your awesomeness.  It truly will.  I know for a fact that I feel amazingly awesome after I finish writing a blog, or while I’m plucking away at another chapter in a book, so why would I study for a real estate exam in order to sell houses because that’s a more “logical” course of action?  For years I’ve gone back and forth with this.  The other day I was like, “You know what?  I don’t feel as awesome when I’m spending my energy on my real estate career, like I do when I’m writing a book.”  The only thing I truly care about is writing books.  Do they make a lot of money?  Not yet.  But I haven’t even given it a real shot because I’ve been in limbo this entire time.  I realize now that I haven’t focused my energy on my writing like I could.  Even if it takes me a decade to make a living writing, it is that worth it to me, because I feel so incredible while I’m writing.  Nothing else gives me that feeling of awesomeness.  You know what I’m saying?

So where am I placing my energy from here on out?  On this thing that makes me feel awesome.  I know (because of extensive experimenting and experience) that once I go for it, my physical reality will unfold to match my alignment with who I truly am.  This is a law of nature.  I may not end up a millionaire, or a homeowner, or a Tesla driver (not right away anyway), but I will definitely be a happier person, and I think I made the point that the way we feel, is so much more powerful than our physical reality (which will eventually reflect the way we feel).

If you’re in limbo about something (or several things), then take a moment and think about which direction makes you feel awesome.  If one way is a gamble, yet you feel exhilarated thinking about taking that chance, and the other way is you settling for less because it’s a much more comfortable decision, then go for the awesomeness.  You don’t have to give up everything on the comfortable side to follow the path of awesomeness.  You simply have to make a decision to place more of your energy toward feeling awesome.  At some point, that comfortable place will become uncomfortable and it will naturally fall away.  It all about where you place your focus, and your focus should always be within (or you will surely do without). (Right about now, my son would roll his eyes and shout, “Mom, stop saying AWESOME…”)

Don’t Shoot the Messenger (They May be Yoda in Disguise)

Message in a bottle

I’m getting to really understand how everyone around me plays a dynamic role in my life.  I have this almost thirteen year old daughter who is challenging me with her constant negativity toward nearly everything I say.  “Just do not say anything at all if it’s going to be negative,” I tell her.  “Just don’t talk.  I don’t want to hear negativity.”  Instead of fighting with her, I simply let her know that I’m not getting sucked into that way of thinking.  She gets it too, which is good, yet without her knowing – I do listen to her.  Later when I am alone, I think about where she is coming from, and it gets to me.  From her point of view, she cannot see the big picture of things like I can.  I have a vision for where we are headed, and she gets caught up in the bumps along the way.  I don’t like being reminded of the bumps because it distracts me from my vision, but then I recall what my treatment counselors used to tell us when we were being confronted by our peers in group.  “Look for a morsel of truth in what people say about you.”  Even if ninety percent of what a person says about me is garbage, there is probably ten percent of truth in their words.  “Listen to that,” the insistent counselors would say.  It’s beneficial because most of us have a blind spot (or many) when it comes to ourselves.

We tend to disregard when people confront us, but I’ve learned to tune in to everything that people are saying, even when they are being completely negative.  There is usually a fraction of truth in there somewhere, especially when I’m feeling challenged or resistant.  These days when people challenge me, I open my ears and heart and seek something that I may be overlooking.  I have grown tired of being delusional.  It’s good to know all sides of a coin and to embrace the value as a whole.  There is value in my daughter’s negativity.  She’s got a very clear message for me, and for once in my life, I’m listening.

Thinking positive is terrific, and it will get you incredibly far in life.  I know this from experience, but sometimes we spin circles about which direction to go, and we need a bit of resistance from the world and the people around us in order to get us focused.  I’ve spent several months trying to “figure things out” for my life and I’m looking around noticing a lot of dead ends.  Still, I try opening doors that will lead me down unfulfilling paths, just to realize that I’m opening doors that will lead me down unfulfilling paths.  I pray an awful lot, requesting direction and clarity.  As much as I want Yoda to appear in the forest when I’m hiking, to give me profound answers about my life (George Lucas lives in the next town over from me, so this isn’t far fetched), often my clarity comes in unexpected places, like from an argument with one of my children, or from me just standing there with absolutely nothing to offer of value to this world except for one single thing, and then I’m like, “Oh, I’ve got to move forward with that one single thing.  Duh.”  But I don’t disregard critics, or haters, or negativity from my children.  I tend to look at the world with rose colored glasses, and I know this about myself, so I very much value the people in my life who ground me with their sinister attitudes.  I appreciate them now, although when they first come at me, I have to admit that I’m quite resistant.  It gets under my skin and angers me a little, but again, all of that is valuable because it points me toward something that I’m probably missing.  If people are negative toward me and it doesn’t get to me, then it’s an indication that I’m centered and in a good space.

Everyone plays a valuable role in my life.  I don’t care who they are.  I try not to disregard people’s opinions anymore when they are directing them toward me.  They most likely (and offhandedly) have something of value to offer along my journey.  People outside of me fill in the blind spots.  If I want clarity, I need to see everything from all points of view, regardless if it’s uncomfortable (especially if it’s uncomfortable).  Those offhanded comments are often the arrows pointing me in the right direction.  If it were not for my daughter’s negativity this weekend, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the focus that I woke up with yesterday, and I know I’m being vague here, but the details don’t really matter.  She snapped me into focus and I suddenly realized that I need to cut out all the garbage, stop being wishy-washy and just go for the one thing I have to offer in this world.  The other stuff I was considering is just filler.  I’ve got to cut the crap and hone in on one thing and one thing only.

I want to make it very clear that I didn’t buy into the negativity that my daughter relayed.  I simply searched for the truth in myself through her discouragement.  I felt something strong about what she was saying, but if I were to get sucked into her negativity, I would have just given up altogether.  Instead, I opened myself up to her expression, grabbed that morsel of truth I needed for some real insight, and cut away the bullshit.  Mine and hers.  Damn, it is clear to me now what I should be focusing on, and I’m grateful to that uncomfortable feeling she offered me, because it set me straight.

I always remind myself that the truth hurts.  If someone says something that hurts, it doesn’t mean that they are 100% right, but it does point me back to myself, where I can go inward and discover the part of me that is not centered enough.  It jolts me back to myself where I can do some serious reflecting.

People say and do offhanded things all the time, and we tend to disregard them.  Sometimes I even find myself being the one doing the pointing of fingers toward others, and I’m like, “What has gotten into me?”  But then I realize that there is an urge inside of me to speak that offhanded comment, and I understand that I’m simply playing a role in that other person’s life.  I don’t like being the critic, but sometimes it just comes out of me.  If that person I’m criticizing would only grab onto the morsel of truth I have to offer them, they would gain some real insight.  It’s none of my business what people think of me, because I trust an overall big picture that is unfolding for others and for myself.

I don’t disregard people in my life experience any longer.  They are there as guideposts.  I am in their experience as a guidepost in return.  We need to tune in a lot more, and recall what we’ve been asking for in our lives, especially when people throw us off.  If what they say pushes us into proving them wrong, then be grateful for them.  In that regard, they have been of great service.  Without them challenging us, we may not have tried at all. Tune in to the truth, rather than tossing the whole of what people say.  Typically, when we are requesting guidance and clarity, it is not going to come in the form of Yoda.  It’s going to come out of the smart mouth of a thirteen year old who probably doesn’t realize she is your greatest teacher along your path.  

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.

To Fail is to Understand That You’re Still Vibrantly Alive

Wings

What happens when you stop playing it safe?  What occurs when you place everything out on the line and push yourself to the edge of your life?  Not in a careless, manic way, but in a well-rounded way that tells the universe, “I’m taking the plunge because I want the full experience while I’m here.  Please catch me, and I know you will.”  What happens when you get to a point where you want to spread your wings, but reason and logic tell you no way, so you take a step back and comfortably close the door to the open air, sit back in your chair (tightly buckled in), and wait it out?  Pretty soon you’re descending back onto the ground, realizing your chance to fly is over.  “I’ll go about this a safer way,” you tell yourself.  “I don’t want to fail.”  No one wants to fail, or to make the “wrong” decision, but when you take the plunge expecting the best to happen, you’ll discover that your wings are expansive.  If you refuse to take the plunge, then failure is eminent.

A failure is what occurs when you do things half-assed.  Failures are occurring all around you all the time.  Failure is prominent in our society.  This is the play-it-safe zone.  Hardly anyone is out there taking chances or putting their life on the line for the sake of feeling something more than mediocrity.  No one likes feeling vulnerable.  No one likes instability.  It’s scary, so we avoid it.  And the systems are set up here so that if we’re not milling away at a day-to-day routine, things become unstable immediately, and we become vulnerable very quickly.  The problem is, if you play it safe like that, sooner or later the shell is going to crack itself open.  It may take longer, but it also may explode in your face.  The point is, you have no control over the shell cracking, because if you’re meant to do something, or to actually feel something while you’re here, then the guard will find its way down, and your sudden vulnerability will hurt even more because your resistance to your life has kept you completely numb.

Feeling safe is cute and all.  Putting a guard up each morning before you head out the door so you can maintain a safe lifestyle, is adorable.  Honestly, after what I sat through during six months of rehab – how I FELT something intense more often than not – I’d so much rather have someone in my face splitting my guts open and leaving me to pick them up once in a while, than sitting in a car every single day listening to Enya.  (Yes I still love her, but give me some Evanescence. Wake me up inside!)  Every now and again I’d rather have a heated argument with someone I love (to knock bullshit out of the equation) than to pretend everything is perfectly cool all the time.  I don’t mind feeling something.  I guess that’s what it boils down to. Actually feeling something (deeper than admiration, pride or frustration).

When you fail, it hurts, but afterward, you realize it’s not the end of you.  Knowing that you’re still alive and kicking after a failure, is the place where life begins.  It’s where visions get realized.  It’s where you discover that you’re not going to give up (no matter what) because life is more than a ticket punch (in and out).  Life is an opportunity to learn to fly.  We human beings don’t have wings for a reason.  We’re supposed to get out there and discover them for ourselves.  They are not handed to us.  They aren’t even obvious.  Each person has a pair, but most people never have the balls to find them because they are scared of what will happen if they take a leap of faith.

Recovery has given me both balls and wings, but it’s only because I failed so extremely hard in my life.  It’s only because I managed to eat shit so blatantly, and then chose to clean myself up afterward.  What I discovered along the way was that when I was broken down into pieces and emptied of everything I spent my life fueling up on, I was whole.  That was complete news to me.  You see, because we’re always out there trying to prove something, even if it’s that we have the choice to be an alcoholic, or that we are the best parent in the world, or that we can manage five-thousand things in a day, perfectly well.  We’re always trying to prove something, and if we’re not trying to prove something, then we’ve probably settled, or caved in.  That’s the real failure.

Playing it safe is not adorable.  It’s not cute.  And trying to prove something is a dead end endeavor. It’s pathetic. I’m pathetic. That’s what I’m saying.  I put it “out there” to some degree.  I throw myself out on a limb once in a while.  My life is out in the open for the world to see if they’re that interested in me, but like most people, I play it safe too. So what am I going to do about it? I am going to challenge myself to stop playing it safe.  Every day I’m going to do one thing new to push my limits.  If something scares me, I’m going to observe it and then I’m going to dare myself to walk through the fear.  If I am avoiding someone, I’m going to face them.  If I want something really bad, but I’m afraid to ask, I’m going to ask. Whatever man. I mean we all want meaning while we are here.  We want to matter, but that’s all an illusion of our ego.  If you want life to matter, then find your wings and fly.  Life isn’t about popularity or being the best.  You will never ever be the best at anything.  Someone else is better.  I promise you that.  You will never remain on the top, or in the limelight.  That’s impossible, and it’s not real.  What’s real is actually feeling something, and it begins with feeling raw as shit.  It begins with being vulnerable and so extremely scared that you’re shaking in your boots.  I’ve been there, and now I’m like, holding my own wings that I discovered.  I’m carrying them around in a laptop case while I walk around sipping my almond milk mocha, talking about dumb-ass TV shows on planet mediocrity.  It’s embarrassing.  I’m embarrassed.

You can’t do this thing half-assed.  You can, but I’m sorry – that’s an epic failure.  I beg you to challenge yourself today, to do something a little more extreme than usual.  Make a difference in someone’s life.  Confront someone that you’ve been avoiding.  Be fucking real. BE VULNERABLE.  It’s not going to kill you.  In fact, you’ll feel more alive than you’ve felt in a long time.  It doesn’t matter what people think.  It’s how you feel inside (as long as you are not harming yourself or another person – don’t be stupid).  It’s having self-esteem and knowing that you are going the distance in your life.  It’s discovering your wings and practicing jumping from that cliff that you’ve been avoiding.

Do you really want to die knowing that you carried your wings in your back pocket the whole time, or do you want to die with wings that look like they’ve been to the moon and back?  Do I really need to answer this question for you?  Sit back and fail, or step out and fly.  You’re choice.

Being Positive Doesn’t Mean Painting Yourself Pink When You’re Feeling Olive Green

Think Positive

For some reason I found myself surrounded by a lot of negative thinking people when I was first out on my own as a sober person.  I kept running into skeptics and cynics, and it was difficult for me to understand how people could live with the attitude that life was pretty shitty.  I was the Yang of that Yin.  No matter where I went, however, I couldn’t get away from people who made me feel like I was in La La Land.  I was in Berkeley too, which I thought was more of a hippy-happy place, but no – people were pissed off and convinced that if you think positive, you’re being delusional.

I took this as a challenge and began looking at how I viewed things.  In treatment I learned to notice my emotions arising when other people were in my presence.  I learned to stop and feel my emotions rather than reacting from them.  I had been out of treatment for about four months by this time, and hadn’t even considered my emotions in situations yet.  I was walking around in a bubble of positivity, constantly being grateful for everything from top ramen to minimum wage paychecks, and trying to find the silver lining in everything.  The thing was, I felt really good most of the time, but I was also ignoring when I didn’t feel good.  So I began getting real with myself and I stopped painting things pink when they were actually olive green.

Yes I was grateful for both of my two jobs, but there were several things about work that I was unhappy about.  I began noticing those things.  I began feeling how annoyed I was half of the time, and also there were people I came into contact with who made me feel inferior.  I began feeling that insecurity out in myself.  When I was bored, I admitted to myself that I was bored.  When I wanted to throw chicken at an entitled customer’s ugly face, I felt the anger come up and allowed it to hang out with me.  No I didn’t react in my emotions, but I stopped lying about them.  After about a month I realized how negative I felt inside regardless of my positive attitude.  Sometimes life was just shitty, and I was finally willing to take that in and allow it to consume me once in a while.  But I will tell you what – that wasn’t going to work for me forever.  I had to find a way to balance the Yin and Yang out.  I wasn’t going to live on the opposite side of the spectrum now that I was getting honest with myself.  So I got quiet and began reading books on the subject.  What I discovered was that our whole entire experience of life is projected by how we think.  Our experience of life is induced by our emotions, and our emotions derive from what we think about.  Ah-ha!  The bottom line was that I needed to change my thinking in order to enhance my emotions so that the experience of positivity could be genuine.

This took me about a year, but I made the decision to do an experiment.  I was about to move into a new place where I rented a bedroom inside of an older house with a woman who I knew nothing about.  At first I was terrified of it being a wrong decision because I was leaving my recovery peers in order to learn to balance on my own two feet.  I had outgrown the need for “support” which wasn’t feeling like support anymore.  The only thing I went on was my gut, and my gut was telling me to make the move, although my brain was incredibly insecure about the whole thing.  Instead of buy into what my brain was telling me (that the carpet was not clean enough for me, that it was too small of a space, that I would lose touch with my peeps, etc…) I decided to change my thinking.  I had about nine months before my daughter would be moving back in with me.  I had nine months on my own.  This would be a perfect time to complete the manuscript that I was writing and spend some quality time getting to know my sober self in relation to the real world.  I had a simple life and I could either buy into my fears, or I could tap into the place of myself that I had been ignoring for years.  I could really dive into my writing and move forward with an attitude that life keeps getting better.  I decided that I would write that damn book and trust that when I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing in life, it just keeps getting better.  It did.

Instead of living on the surface of myself and of life, I began feeling everything.  I didn’t deny when I was afraid, which was often, but I also didn’t buy into the fear either.  I somehow developed the courage to walk through it, and life began feeling legitimately magical.  Great things began happening.  I was more motivated.  I felt more joy.  Positive people entered into my experience.  Within those nine months my life accelerated beyond anything I would have ever imagined.  Two years later, I am living a completely different lifestyle – the one I was dreaming about while living in that bedroom with the dirty carpet.

It really boils down to two things – fear and freedom.  You either buy into your fears about life, or you trust the deeper part of yourself that longs to be free from that overbearing fear.  If you buy into the fear, you’re going to be riding on unpredictable waves your whole life.  If you dive past the fear, you’re going to find freedom.

No, things are not perfect and yes, I do have bad days, but I continue forward marching with the attitude that life keeps getting better, and it does.  I am not lying to myself when I say this.  I am certain of it.  I know it to be true because my little experiment worked.  Instead of pretending that I don’t feel “negative” emotions, I acknowledge them and allow them to be with me, but then I change my thinking around situations by saying things like, “It’s going to be ok.  I’m always being guided.  I’m exactly where I need to be right now.  I’m loved beyond measure.  I’m going to move through this with ease.  Some days are better than others, and that’s ok.  Emotions are temporary.  They are not eternal.  Whatever I need is given to me at the exact right time, and right now I may need this challenge in order to grow.”  The inner dialogue has changed, and so has my life.  It’s getting better and better all the time.  My relationships with my family is so much healthier.  I have several friends now instead of acquaintances.  My job completely accommodates my needs and wants in life.  Both of my children live with me because they actually want to be around me.  That in itself is nothing short of a miracle.

It’s not about being positive and ignoring the negative, or searching for a silver lining in the grand scheme of life.  It’s about going deeper.  It’s about getting real with yourself.  If you are unhappy – admit that shit.  Feel that negativity so that it can move through your body.  Be aware of it, but then change your thinking around it so that things will transform for the better.  Accept things for what they are, positive or negative, but learn to smile with life.  It’s always changing – it’s constantly on the move.  The question is, can you move with it in ease, or are you going to resist it by ignoring what’s really going on with you?  Once you began acknowledging what’s really going on with you, the negative emotions begin clearing much quicker.  They simply want your attention.  They draw you in so that you remember yourself – so that you can rebalance and re-center yourself, instead of getting lost out there in the chaos of the world.

Self-Love and Self-Acceptance is Not Just About Rockin’ the Curves

All about the bass

As catchy as this tune is, it still reinforces that women should feel good about their bodies because men like them a certain way.  “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night…” REALLY?!  As a full grown woman in this twisted-ass society, I am so SICK of feeling like I have to impress men with my body, or even worse – get their acceptance of MY BODY.  I’ve done the math and figured out that the men who are attracted to me for my body – no matter if it’s when I’m thin as a rail, thick and curvy from being bloated from drinking, a little chubby from depression eating, or fit and athletic looking – those men are scumbags.  I’ve had all the body types with the exception of being obese (because I’ve been a consciously healthy eater throughout my life), and I’m going to be brave and admit right now that in all of my ever-changing wardrobes from size 0 to size 12, I’ve always been concerned about how I appeared to men.  Throughout my womanhood I’ve been hit on by married men, arrogant asshole men, men hanging out of their low-riding cars flashing their grills making cat calls, old men, much-too-young men, and “sophisticated” men.  For YEARS this made me feel good about myself.  BARF!  Here is what I want to say to those men – I NO LONGER NEED YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF ME TO FEEL BEAUTIFUL.  FUCK OFF ALREADY!

I used to look in the mirror and detest my freckles.  I spent hundreds of dollars and too many years trying to hide my natural, lovely freckles.  When I got to rehab for alcoholism (because I completely self-destructed while trying to live up to other people’s standards) – for SIX MONTHS I was not allowed to wear make-up. So guess what?  I had to either accept my freckles or spend the entire time obsessing about them.  I chose to accept them, and the funny thing was, no one cared about my damn freckles.  The only thing I ever heard about my freckles from my peers was how darned cute they were.  I began looking in the mirror and seeing what other people saw – a confident woman who had more on her mind than appearing perfect. In that six month period where I was not the center of attention for once, I learned to love my face without the make-up.  I noticed the kindness behind my amber eyes and the way they smiled when I smiled.  I noticed my dimples and the radiance of my ivory skin – all the things I’d never noticed about myself before because I was too busy trying to cover up my freckles.

When I accepted my freckles I stopped caring what other people thought about them.  The obsession was gone.  I could finally walk around without make-up not thinking anything about the spots on my face. What freedom! How liberating! It took thirty-five flippen years for me to get to that place, but the last thing I’m going to ever say to my daughter about this is, “Men love freckles, so you should embrace them.”  Oh HELL NO.  It doesn’t matter what men think of my freckles.  I LOVE my freckles.  That’s all that matters.

Same goes for the ole’ body.  I’ve had body image problems all my life just like the rest of the women in society.  I still do, but I am working on overcoming them and I take care of my body because I not only want to look good – I also want to feel good for as long as possible.  Several years ago I went and had breast implants because I felt like my shoulders were too broad for my size B-cup boobs.  I was very insecure about my breasts, especially because I noticed that most men were into larger breasts.  I tell people I had this surgery done for myself, but the truth is, I wanted to feel better about myself through the likes of men, and I also wanted to appear more confident than I felt inside.  Instead of accepting my body the way it was, I transformed it.  I don’t exactly have regrets, but often I notice the way men look at them and sexualize me rather than notice other things about me, like how I articulate myself.  I have gotten to a place in my life where I do not think much about my breasts at all.  More important to me is how present I am in any given situation.  I think about the state of my soul more than I care about the way my breasts appear.  I care about laughing and about noticing the beauty in the world.  I care about what comes up for me emotionally through the mirrors of other people.  The inner body is much more real to me than the one that is going to eventually grow old and wither.  When I go out in the world now, I am not thinking about attracting men.  I am much more interested in the magic of being alive.  I am fulfilled as a human being – as a confident woman.  I no longer need the acceptance of a man to help me feel good, or better about myself.  In fact, there hasn’t been a man yet who’s come along and offered me more confidence and love than I have for myself today.

I’ve had plenty of boyfriends who’ve told me I was beautiful when I didn’t think I was beautiful, and their compliments never penetrated my being the way I feel about myself now. Some of those men did not hesitate to tear me apart when our relationship was not working out in the end. If I had valued myself through their lustful eyes, I would have also devalued myself when they were knocking me down. I knew better. I knew I was worth more than a man’s shifty opinion of me.

How did I get to the point of genuine self-acceptance? I stopped fucking lying to myself about everything.  I looked past my facade. I stopped acting happy when I was angry.  I stopped “being nice” when I was feeling annoyed.  I began knowing myself through the wave of my emotions.  I listened to my negative thinking and got interested in my behaviors.  I stopped conforming to the outside world and became a watcher of my inner world.  I stopped distracting myself from my pain and began sitting with the pain.  It fucken hurt and I continued sitting with it.  I cried a lot.  I stopped being fake and just started getting real with myself.  I stopped telling myself that I was all of these positive things that were not true, including the one where I said I felt good about myself.  I was a liar.  I was a manipulator.  I was scared as shit about everything and everyone. I hated myself. I hated myself. I hated myself. I rejected myself although I spent years perfecting an image that looked like I was incredibly confident about who I was. All lies. I was terrified.

Stop worrying about shedding weight and begin focusing on shedding all the bullshit you tell yourself. You are not a victim. If you haven’t FELT yourself through your emotions, then you don’t know yourself, and if you don’t know yourself, you cannot accept yourself.  Stop hiding from your pain.  When people brought up raw emotion for me, I thought they were my enemies until I realized that the raw emotion was mine. If pain was coming up for me through other people’s words, then those people were merely guides pointing me back to myself so that I could see myself for what I was.  I stopped running from the raw emotion and began getting curious about it.  It came up for me a lot – for several years – and sometimes it still comes up, but I don’t reject it or resist it anymore.  I welcome it.  I welcome it because it’s coming up so that it can clear out, so that I can be the whole person that I truly am.  I faced myself.  I faced my demons.  I stopped being afraid of the inner universe and began exploring it.  THAT’s how I’ve come to love myself.  That’s how I’ve learned acceptance for ME. 

When people poke and prod at me now, and bring up things I used to be insecure about – I can actually laugh with them instead of getting defensive.  YES I know I’m controlling.  HA HA HA!  Yes these boobs are fake! Ha! I know that about myself and I am working on the character defects, but you cannot hurt me by pointing them out.  I’m aware of these things about myself and I accept myself for all of my character defects.  After all, they are not who I am. I’m growing every day and walking more and more in the awareness of my soul, rather than in the fragments of my mind.  So again, I don’t give a shit about what men think about me or my body.  I don’t even think of men much anymore (not that I’ve gone rebelliously lesbian – I’ve just got a lot more going on now than needing a man in my life).  I’ve never gotten my confidence through them.  Through facing myself in all my emotional facets – through being aware of my thought patterns and behaviors – I’ve become not only confident about myself, I’ve also discovered my wholeness and completeness.

“Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top,” may sound good in theory, but I seriously doubt it rings true to many women out there because many of us are lying to ourselves about how we truly feel inside.  And if you don’t feel good on the inside, you cannot feel genuinely good about what you’re rocking on the outside.  Do you even know how you appear to others when you look perfect on the outside, yet you lack inner confidence? You look like an insecure, self-centered narcissist who spends way too much time in the mirror. People see right through that shit and it is incredibly unattractive.

Self-awareness is the path to self-acceptance.  It takes a lot of work and a lot of courage to enter into yourself, but if you want to walk out of your house each morning not just saying you’re confident, but actually BEING confident, take the inner journey.  Be the brave and self-assured woman that you claim you are.  Put your money where your mouth is.  Take a full inventory of yourself and after you realize who you really are beneath the façade, you will discover that you are lacking NOTHING.  You are EVERYTHING my dear, but it’s up to you to truly FEEL this about yourself instead of just portraying it to the world.  When you truly accept yourself, and truly love who you are, you will see through people’s bullshit like never before, and all those men that you long to attract now will seem like monkeys to you at that point.  You will realize how absurd it is to get acceptance from people who do not even truly accept themselves. You’ll understand how much more you deserve and you will value yourself enough to stay single until the right person comes along and enhances what you already have.  You don’t need a man to validate you.  You need to stop listening to these ridiculous songs about rocking your curves for the boys, and get beneath the skin of yourself.  Transform yourself from the inside out and your beautiful soul will eventually shine through.

P.S. For men reading this who feel yourself offended, you need to do an inventory of yourself too. Women have been defining themselves through the eyes of men for way too long, and if you haven’t noticed this planet is unbalanced as hell. Stop sexulizing everything. Utilize your life for something worth living for, which is certainly not just sex. Make something of yourself. God gave you a whole body and mind, yet all you think about is your penis and what turns you on. We are over it already. While you’ve been jacking-off to porn, this world has gone to shit. There are greater things to accomplish in this lifetime. Wake the fuck up.

http://www.amazon.com/J.L.-Forbes/e/B00HS980ZI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1414348436&sr=1-1