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.

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…

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.

From A-Z Why Recovery is Easier than Addiction

Ultimate Freedom

Acceptance and Awareness

Better perception of reality

Clarity

Doing what you dig

Experiencing emotions

Freedom from fear

Growth (mental, emotional, spiritual)

Having choices

Intelligent decisions

Just being yourself

Kindness toward yourself and others

Laughing comes easier

Mindfulness

No hangovers

Open to life

Playfulness

Quiet mind

Restful instead of restless

Surrendering to what you have no control over

Terrific sleep

Unity with yourself and others

Valuing yourself

World opens up for you

X marks the spot for new beginnings

You (underneath all those layers)

Zeal for life

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

Think of Yourself as a Manuscript (Review, revise, resubmit…)

Manuscript

Yesterday I took a short walk in town and observed the people around me.  Some were focused.  Others were in a hurry.  Many were lining up at the sport’s bar excited about football.  There is a small redwood tree park I walk through to get home and two men were jamming on their electric guitars on one of the pathway benches.  They had some real harmony going on and I wanted to stay and hang out, but that would have been kind of weird.  They were just practicing, not performing.  The cases to their instruments were closed – not open for spare change.  Obviously they were playing because they loved playing.

This weekend I kind of just took it easy, which is rare for me.  I’m always on the go, but one thing I did do was write, which is something I used to procrastinate doing.  When I used to sit down and write, it took a lot of effort.  It was like trying to tame a wild boar inside of me that was more interested in distractions than the discipline of writing.  The irony was, if I wasn’t writing, I felt like I was wasting my life away.  I think most writers can relate here – we just have this innate need to write.  If we don’t do it, we feel awful about it.  So for most of my life, I have written poetry or short stories to calm down that inner stirring to write, but when I got sober, I knew where I wanted to place my life’s focus.

I’ve never had any doubt that writing was what I am supposed to be doing.  The hardest part about writing is following through and finishing the manuscript, so I challenged myself to complete my projects.  It was not easy.  There was no one there to root me on, or any indication that what I was writing would be worth reading.  If I liked what I was writing, it was a good indication to me that other people would enjoy reading it, but there is a huge process to achieving the goals I have for myself.  Editing my own work is a never-ending task.  Every time I re-read my completed manuscripts, I find errors.  Writers not only have to complete their manuscripts – we have to re-write them.  Then we have to go through them with a fine-tooth comb.  After that, there’s the cover art, marketing, social media networking, soliciting for representation, self-promotion, etc.  It’s a huge commitment.  I mean, I don’t honestly know what drives me except that I told myself a long time ago that I was going to do this.  I got behind the wheel of this ship and focused on the horizon up ahead.  Any challenge that comes between me and that horizon is worth taking-on.  I’ve made that commitment to myself, you see.

Sometimes I’m hard on myself because I want something other than what I have right now.  I’ve been struggling with this a lot.  I mean, I blog about living in the moment and being happy and accepting of what I have right now.  For the most part, I am happy for what I have right now, but there is also this drive toward that horizon.  Last night I was at a meeting listening to someone’s story, which was pretty mild in comparison to mine.  She drove drunk with four children all the time and never got a DUI.  She was never arrested or evicted or publicly humiliated.  While she was speaking I was staring at the floorboards of the room, listening and looking at all the little grooves in the wood.  Something occurred to me that all I am in life is one of those little grooves among endless other little grooves.  Even if my story is a powerful one, it may never get heard the way I desire it to be heard.  My manuscripts are the same thing.  Little grooves in the wood among many. What even drives me I ask myself?  Some people make it big while others do not.  It’s a crap shoot really.  The truth is, when you’re driven to a grand horizon, you’ve got to accept the fact that you may never make it there.  That’s really important to grasp.  You’ve got to do what you love doing for the love of it, just like those guys with the electric guitars in the park.

I had to surrender last night to my drive.  Instead of beating myself up for my desire to have something more than what I have now (which, again, is like taming a wild boar), I decided that I would surrender to the fact that I have no control over my drive.  It’s always been there.  Even when I was darkly failing myself, the drive was there deep down inside.  It’s one of those things I cannot deny about myself, or pretend that it doesn’t exist.  I would love to say that I’m completely here and now, and satisfied because of my here and now.  I have goals for my life, and that’s always been the case.  I have a fire under my feet.  It’s ok.  I’m going to accept this about myself now and just hang out with it.  Whether it’s good or bad, isn’t the question.  The question is – am I willing to accept this about myself?  I can allow the drive to lead me and taunt me and holler at me, or I can just stop and feel out this inner pulling of mine.  I’ve never really done that before.  All along I’ve been identifying with it and allowing it to lead the way for me.  I’ve never really denied it, but I also haven’t been completely honest about it either.

Surrendering is a constant thing we must do.  Self-awareness is part of recovery.  If I go along my life succumbing to this drive, I may find myself tortured if my goals are not accomplished.  For the longest time, I thought this drive was normal, but last night I realized that I haven’t even acknowledged it or faced it, or separated myself from it and become the watcher of it.  But this inner boar – it’s been part of my identity for quite some time.  I just realized that the drive is not “who I am” – it’s simply another facet of my personality, which I haven’t taken the time to observe yet.  I observed other people yesterday without even noticing how driven I was to complete a manuscript I was writing. What is this drive of mine even about?

Why is this important?  Because if I’m being driven and not aware that I am being driven, then I am just as lost as most people in the world.  I’m always talking and writing about self-awareness, but self-awareness is a never-ending journey.  It’s like the manuscripts I’m constantly editing.  I’m basically like a walking-talking manuscript.  There may never be a masterpiece here, but I’m always chipping away at things that no longer serve me, and noticing what run-on sentences are in my train of thoughts.  I’m constantly in a state of surrender realizing things about myself that I hadn’t previously considered.  This drive of mine – I hadn’t considered.  So what it is it about?  Why do I identify with it so deeply?  Why does it have so much power over me? Surrender, acceptance, surrender, acceptance… surrender.

We all have things we overlook about ourselves.  We all identify with elements of our personality that are not truly “who we are.”  What I mean by this is that who we are is greater than the mere personality of ourselves.  We are infinite beings; limitless souls.  The personality is a road block, so it’s good to observe it once in a while and to chip away at it – surrender to the parts of yourself that aren’t serving you any longer.  What part of your personality have you not considered?  It’s a good question to ask, because it brings you back to that place of humility.  It centers you.  It keeps you present.  As much as I want to be present, I’m constantly on the go to get somewhere.  I don’t have to beat myself up about it.  I simply have to know this about myself.  I have to know what’s getting in the way of the greater part of me that exists in a place without desire or longing.  It’s that desire and longing that keeps us in a state of suffering, you see.  And the state of suffering is easily eradicated with a simple declaration of surrender.  It’s a constant thing we have to do.  It’s a discipline.  Like my writing, self-awareness does not promise that I will ever achieve anything.  It’s merely a thing I do because it serves the purpose of keeping me sober and steady.

So we must constantly ask ourselves, what is it about my personality that I haven’t yet considered?  What is blocking me from who I truly am?  And we must chip away at these facets of our personality by surrendering and accepting.  The goal isn’t to become enlightened.  The goal is always to continue discovering ourselves.  It is a never-ending journey, but the journey is always now, and now is always the goal.  There is nothing in the horizon.  The horizon doesn’t exist, and it is also not something separate from us.  It is not up ahead.  The horizon is you.  The horizon is me.  If you don’t understand, just keep chipping away at the personality.  Continue surrendering; continue accepting.

Is Your Direction Purely Consumption?

Consumption

We are a generation of insatiable consumers.  Everywhere we go there are advertisements working overtime on our human desires in order to get us to buy something we probably don’t need.  Commercials take up a third of our show’s airtime, and companies who have money to spend (like Apple and Pepsi) advertise their products right inside the shows we watch.  We are not only consumers of products, we are consumers of entertainment.  This is probably the worst form of consumption because it comes across so sparkly and harmless (most of the time).  The problem is, when we are constantly needing to be entertained, we lose ourselves in things outside of ourselves.  This is exactly what addiction is, and it comes in the form of many faces.  Some addictions drag you through the mud and rip your life apart, but many addictions are subtly and slowly removing you from yourself.  So what’s the problem you ask?  I don’t know – perhaps I think too much about the day I die and having regrets about things I didn’t do while I was alive (because I was too busy trying to fill up the empty spaces by consuming, instead of enjoying the precious moments of my life).

Lucky me – I know a lot of people who simply enjoy their lives, who are not the mainstream type of consumers.  This is refreshing.  I’ve been on both sides of the equation, and I still love my shows – they make them so funny now that it’s difficult not to watch them.  Not that watching shows are bad, but it’s how much time many of us spend zoning out in front of the television, or with anything that takes us away from ourselves.  I enjoy good writing, and I watch shows and films with good writing because it is inspiring to me – not just entertaining. I read books that inspire my craft. I enjoy beautiful artwork because it lifts my spirits. Not that I am immune to zoning out in front of the TV. I do that too.

Consumption is not a direction in life, however.  It’s a filler.  If you have direction and you know where you are headed, I would say that a little TV is probably ok, but like anything in life, there has to be a balance.  If you’re finding yourself unhappy when you don’t have people, places and things keeping you distracted from yourself, then it may be time to take a step back and re-evaluate your life.  What do you want out of your life?  Where do you want to go?  Where do you see yourself five years from now?  What are you missing out on because you have lost touch with yourself?  If you continue doing what you are doing, where are you headed?  If what you are consuming isn’t inspiring or assisting you toward your dreams or goals, then it probably isn’t worth your time.

I know what restlessness feels like and how disturbing it can be when you are left alone with yourself with nothing to do but spin your wheels.  It’s a terrible feeling – I KNOW, but it’s often a good place to be because without anything to relieve your restlessness, you can discover a lot about yourself.  What is your ingenious brain telling you to do while your feeling restless?  What does it desire?  What is it begging for?  What does it crave?  When I am feeling restless, I find out (really fast) what distractions are calling out to me, and it can be a brutal space to hang out in, but once I get past the squawking parrot in my head (the consumer), everything becomes incredibly settled and calm.  I realize all of that squawking was nonsense.  I don’t DIE, or end up disappearing when I don’t feed into the restlessness.  In fact, I become much more aware of myself, and of the deepest part of myself that longs for space to simply feel alive, rather than feeling numbed out all the time.  Even feeling emotional raw these days has such an advantage over feeling nothing, because at least I know I’m ALIVE.

I used to be bored all of the time.  I can tell you after three and a half years of sobriety and in knowing which direction I am headed in my life, I have not experienced boredom in most of those three-point-five years.  I can’t even imagine being bored anymore – even if I am just sitting on a couch staring at a wall.  I am not bored because I know who I am, where I am going, how amazing silence can be, and I am truly happy.  Life is not always a cake walk, but I am truly happy, even during off-days.  This is because I stopped filling the void and finally allowed to void to be.  I write about this a lot, but the void was simply my Self, desiring me to come home.  Once I entered into the void, I found out that I was everything I ever needed.  I recommend this course of action.  It is much better than living a life trying to keep that void filled.  You can never fill that void because (again) it isn’t a void at all.

Though many people are quite satisfied in their lives by simply living a day to day routine and enjoying the moments as they come, some of us have dreams and ultimate desires for ourselves.  If you’re one of those people, then take action toward your goals.  Make a bucket list and go for it.  Ask yourself if what you are doing throughout the course of the day is creating steps toward your goals, or taking you away from your goals.  I used to get caught in this trap of thinking that it was going to take me WAY too long to get where I wanted to go, and also, I was not up for the work that was required of me.  I suppose recovery has taught me something valuable.  Once you step toward a goal, and place your energy toward that goal, the momentum toward that goal picks up exponentially, and the spiritual, emotional and mental growth during the process is what will give you strength to continue on.  Once you get on the path, and you’re serious about the path toward your goals, the whole universe will conspire for you to reach those goals (haven’t you read ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho?  Well, you should if you haven’t).  It’s certainly not as daunting as you’re probably making it in your head.  Even after several years of writing books and not finding a Literary Agent or a major publisher to represent me (one of my goals), I am still going strong.  If it takes me another decade to get where I want to go, I’m not giving up.  I’m going to continue writing.  I will only grow better as a writer and learn more about myself, and life, in the meantime.  The path toward getting there has been that incredibly fulfilling to me.  And if I never reached my goals, I would not consider myself a failure, because at least I tried.  A failure is someone who gives up on themselves before they even try.

I have been blogging a lot for the last year, but some things have shifted in my life that require me to place my focus on completing the manuscripts I’ve started.  I write mostly in the morning because it’s the quietest time of day.  I decided to blog about once a week, and to fill the remainder of the mornings, writing my manuscripts.  For those of you who read my blogs everyday, don’t think I have given up. On the contrary. I have written a lot on this blog and I feel incredibly satisfied with LushNoLonger. I will continue blogging, just not as often.
In the meantime, I have a promotion going on from now through the end of October (2014).  If you download a copy of ‘Majestic Wonderbread – Earthbound and Seeking Hidden Treasure,’ http://www.amazon.com/MAJESTIC-WONDERBREAD-Earthbound-Seeking-Treasure-ebook/dp/B00DGZPXPI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413208837&sr=8-2&keywords=majestic+wonderbread

Then like my FB page https://www.facebook.com/MajesticWonderbread

and write an Amazon review about the book – email me with you full name and address (Articulatingmagic@gmail.com), I will send you an autographed copy of the book.  It’s a win-win.  It is a really good book and it’s the first of a series.  I believe in this book, so I’m promoting it – it’s part of my own path toward one of my life goals.

If you need more inspiration to follow your own goals, here is a link to ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho (I highly recommend this book):  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_13?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the%20alchemist&sprefix=the+alchemist%2Caps%2C466