Striving for Wholeness Rather Than Greatness

Be Yourself

It is interesting to me how we think of ourselves versus the actual way we are, or how other people perceive us. I often think of the most influential people that I have met, and how the world around them upholds them in a certain light, yet their family rolls their eyes at their antics. The persona they uphold is powerful, yet their personal life is quite possibly lacking something; perhaps attention to detail. I know comedians often repeat their jokes in different settings, which can get incredibly old and taxing on a significant other who hears the same thing over and over. I’ve met pastors who hold their congregation to high standards while their children were out in the world causing havoc. I think I’ve seen these types of gaps in people’s lives enough to pay attention to myself and how I’m putting something out in the world that I’m not exactly paying attention to in my immediate affairs. The images we hide behind create incredible illusions. How many people do we meet that are genuine and transparent? I find those kinds of people to be humble and fascinating; more so than those who can talk a good talk.

I had a conversation with someone yesterday about how money changes some people, and how it doesn’t affect the way other people behave in the world. I brought up the fact that I want to be one of those people who treats everyone the same, whether they are famous, infamous, or living on the streets. I recall so many times when I’ve entered into places where I felt extremely uncomfortable, and someone of significance approached me and graciously made me feel welcome. I’ve also been in several settings where I was snubbed for not wearing the right attire or appearing the role. Just the other night while walking around downtown in my sweats, my daughter and I took a stroll inside a new art gallery. They were having an open house. Not one person treated us like we were welcome there. If I had been wearing something different, I’m certain I would have gotten at least a handshake or a nod. But nope. We were treated like outsiders and ignored. I am the same exact person whether I’m wearing a gown, or a pair of jeans. It’s so funny how people treat me differently according to what I’m wearing.

We put so much emphasis on our looks and how we appear to the world, but since I’ve worked on myself from the inside out, I easily see through people’s personas. I can tell when someone is guarded, or when they are hiding behind a thick mask of illusion. I can see people who do not even know that they are hiding behind masks, and those that think they have it all going on, yet their lack of self-worth is casually leaking through. I think back to myself when I was in their shoes and wonder how many people saw right through me. I used to be a great actress. Now I’m embarrassed when I find myself in a situation where I’m trying to impress someone, or when I throw out an impressive image to hide my insecurities. More than anything, I just want to remember that I am no better than the person standing next to me. I have worked hard on myself, but I also vividly recall what it was like to be uncomfortable in my own skin, and how it feels to suffer. I try to offer my most genuine self to new people now, although it’s tricky to be genuine 100% of the time. Many people have a way of expecting impressive stories or pulling out that mask of mine that I’ve tried to leave behind. The world is filled with people who want to impress the world.

Before I go into a new place where I might feel uncomfortable, I do a simple little meditation to ground myself. I pretend that I am a tree and I imagine my roots going deep into the earth and then wrapping themselves around the earth’s core. I do this so that I feel like I’m rooted deeply in who I am, rather than being easily swayed by the people in the room. If I feel grounded, I’m less likely to feel insecure or to need to hide behind some weird mask. I think many people struggle with social anxiety, which is why many of us drank to begin with, and why many people do drink in social settings. I want to be one of those people that can walk into any room and feel magnificent in my own skin. I’m working on it… (one day at a time). I don’t beat myself up (however) when I do find myself feeling insecure or when I go back to my old ways and hide behind images. I am compassionate with myself, knowing that I’m still learning and growing. I understand that I have a long way to go. It is not a negative thing to feel insecure. It simply shines a light on what I need to work on in myself. When I sense other people feeling insecure, I offer that graciousness that has so often been offered to me in the past. There is nothing like someone who treats another human being like they are more than welcome, no matter who they are or how they appear. I know how good I’ve felt when someone “greater than me” has treated me like their equal. It can really give a person wings.

I would rather have nothing of significance, or to be no one of significance, but to have been known as someone who was genuine, and also someone who made others feel welcome. I feel like it has taken most of my life to get to know myself, and I want to honor that self of mine, rather than try to be someone I’m not, or to appear better than I am. Humility is not something to shy away from. It is a cloak of integrity, and the shelter that keeps us in alignment with who we truly are. I used to want to be like every other person. Now I realize that I am the only person who can be me, and I am so incredibly excited about sharing my uniqueness to the surrounding world. Being who you are is the greatest gift you can give to the world. It is also satisfying and noncompetitive. It’s simple and free. I think my greatest life lesson has been that when I had nothing, I was still me. I was still alive and there. There was nothing lacking. I try to carry that with me wherever I go now, and it has completely set me free.

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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…”)

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

Another Way to Look at Birds and Bees (Just BEEEEEE)

birds and bees

My mother had an experience where she was learning about being present.  When we are just learning about being present, the last thing we are doing is being present because we’re trying to “figure out” how to be present, which goes against the whole concept.  On one of her walks along a levee, she finally asked aloud, “What does it mean to just BE?”  She was serious when she asked this question.  Her answer came immediately in the physical form of a large bumble bee that entered right into her space.  Buzz buzz buzz.  My mom got the cosmic joke and pretty much went into hysterics.  What a sense of humor God has!  Coincidence?  I think not.  She asked for “be” and she got “bee.”  It was a sweet (pun intended) lesson to her about being able to laugh and enjoy the moment.

When I was learning about being present, I was trying to figure it out too.  For someone like me who lives inside their head observing and analyzing everything and everyone, being present was a difficult endeavor – nearly impossible for me.  I can honestly say it took me about three years of practice.  That’s a really long time, but one of the things that helped me was the birds.  I was sitting on my front porch bench thinking about being present (oxymoron) and suddenly a bird chirped very loudly.  It woke me up out of my thoughts and there I was, suddenly present to the moment.  Chirp chirp chirp.  The bird was out of sight, but I was aware.  For once I was aware of the surrounding world right now.  I got a revelation that perhaps the bird’s chirp was divinely designed to wake humans up to the moment.  Each time I heard a chirp thereafter it was a reminder for me to get out of my head (which is pretty much like telling a two year old to stop picking their nose – they just can’t help it).

It’s been about seven years and my world is entirely calm now.  Being present is no longer difficult for me because it saved my life.  It is a place of healing.  It is a place where I am the organic, genuine me.  When I am present, I am not planning ahead about which mask I’m going to wear, or what I’m going to say ahead of time.  There is power in being present because it’s where all of me is in one place.  I am not split up in my head between the margins of yesterday and tomorrow.  I’m not on the battleground of my mind.  I’m just here.  When my words come out now, sometimes they are quite intuitive.  I shock myself with the insight that flows when I am present.  When I am present, I can write from a genuine place.  I’m not trying too hard when I am present.

Being present also means letting things go right away.  It means that if I make a mistake, I can stand in awareness of that mistake, and then be present in the next moment where that mistake does not exist.  It’s immediate forgiveness and being in a constant state of healing.  If I am having an emotional moment (no matter what the emotion is), I can acknowledge the emotion and allow to be there with me.  When I am present, I feel the emotion in its entirety.  I don’t judge it or resist it.  I just give it space, and quickly, it moves through me.  There is no lingering when I am present.  Compassion flourishes in the state of being present.  When you are present, there is no resistance, judgment, worry, stress, apprehension or pretention.  You are in a constant state of acceptance of what is, no matter what is.  If the what is brings up raw emotion, you are present with that emotion.  The emotion will pass and there you will find yourself again blossoming in your magnificent awareness of both yourself and the immediate world.

I used to get a little weepy thinking about not holding onto people, places and things that made me happy, but as I’ve been letting go more in my life, each moment that I am completely present (no matter what I’m doing) is enough to fill any void of loss about whatever it is that I’m letting go.  When I am completely present, nothing I’m doing is draining, or that awful either, because being present means not dreading it.  It means just being. 

Being present does not mean that you cannot use your imagination.  We need creativity in our lives in order to invite experiences and things into fruition.  I make space during certain times of day (early morning and late at night) to visualize and make an intention for what I desire in my life.  Many people use dawn and dusk for prayer or mediation.  Prayer to me is being present and it is more of a state of being rather than a thing that we do.   Meditation is something I can do pretty much anywhere.  Being present is also a constant state of mediation.

I used to get wound up about what was up and coming, and what I had to plan for a month ahead of time.  I would get twisted about Christmas – in February.  I thought everything had to be done right this second, but I guess after sitting in a treatment facility for six months and not attending to much of anything outside that facility, I realized that things either work themselves out, or they don’t much matter.  Not as much as we think they do anyway.  If something comes up now, I deal with it when it comes up.  I don’t thrash and spin over the things I have no control over and I don’t get anxious about the future.  Worry never helped me or made things any easier.  On the contrary.  Worry is a life-suck, so I’ve learned to just deal with things as they arise, rather than giving power to them ahead of time.  I know we have to plan things in life.  Of course.  But when I am present during the planning, the planning is much simpler and less of a burden.

Being present is the easier, softer way (if that’s something you’re looking for in your life).  It’s the answer to just about everything.  Many times my daughter will bring up things she’s worried about and I’ll say to her, “Is that happening RIGHT NOW?”  No it never is, and she gets it.  She immediately calms down and usually discovers a smile in the midst of the temporary anxiety.  The only thing that is happening right now is usually nothing.  That’s the truth.  Big things happen in our head more than they do in real life.  Of course, I’ve learned to be so present that even my job and home reflects a very peaceful environment.  That wasn’t always the case.  Like I said, it took several years of practice, but the result is that the world around me reflects my state of being.  The world around me is pretty much calm.  If yours is not, then keep practicing being present in the midst of the chaos.  If you can’t seem to find yourself centered, call aloud for assistance.  Ask for help.  Tell the birds and the bees to remind you about their sweet way of bee-ing! 

This book helped me: http://www.amazon.com/Power-Now-Guide-Spiritual-Enlightenment-ebook/dp/B002361MLA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412776299&sr=1-1&keywords=the+power+of+now

Here is my story: http://www.amazon.com/The-Devils-Altar-Dynamic-Recovery/dp/1492957798/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412776367&sr=8-1&keywords=the+devil%27s+altar

The Hawk, The Beating of Your Own Drum, and the View During Your Life Journey

hawk

For a couple of years I noticed more hawks flying above me and coming into my experience than ever before.  When I finally decided to look up the totem meaning of a hawk, it was because a hawk was perched on a wooden fence during one of my morning runs down to the Berkeley marina.  This was after noticing several hawks prior to the close encounter.  I ran to the marina most mornings through a nature path, and rarely did I see another person on the path that early in the morning, but there were always animals.  To my delight, the hawk was on that fence, not even frightened by my presence or my curiosity.  I was literally about five feet away and it completely accepted me.  I took a photo and kept running.  When I got back to that spot, the sun was fully in view over the eastern hills and the hawk was still there; keen, focused, and standing at attention amidst the sun’s gorgeous rays.  It was magical.  I felt really lucky that day.  This is when I decided to look up the totem of the hawk.  I’ve always been drawn to Native American culture and the way the people live in harmony with nature.

According to the totem, a hawk represents intuition, clarity, guidance, a message from the spirit world, and rising above details.  When I encountered that particular hawk I was making some huge decisions in my life.  For me to go through with what I wanted to do (which was to move across the Bay to Marin without a job in sight, a car, money or any reason other than a yearning to be near Mount Tamalpais and near the ocean – and also because I didn’t feel at peace with raising my daughter in Berkeley), it was going to take a great deal of faith and a quantum leap through my doubts and fears.  Seeing that hawk was inspiring to me, especially after knowing its totem meaning.  I trusted in the experience with the hawk and kept moving into the direction of my desire to move across the Bay.  Every morning I ran to the marina and gazed beyond the water at the breathtaking mountain, affirming that I would be there soon.

Within five months I had a job opportunity in Marin, a boyfriend with a car who worked in Marin and no reason to remain in Berkeley.  School was starting soon and it was time to go.  It has been over a year.  We’re tucked away at the base of Mt. Tamalpais about twenty minutes from the ocean.  My job is thriving and I’ve made several friends here.  I have my own car (I’ve had two now actually) and a really cool cat named Mogley that we rescued in Oakland in January 2014.  My relationship did not last, but we have remained very good friends.  I feel like I am at home.  I have never truly felt like I was at home until now.

The last time I saw a hawk it was in December of 2013.  I had just gotten unexpected and devastating news which sent my mind into a spiral.  I was overwhelmed with grief and heartache for my children’s father who has struggled with addiction just like myself.  When I got his phone call, my old addict-self wanted to run to the liquor store to numb everything I was feeling.  I didn’t do it, however.  After the phone call, I was driving back to work from a copy center.  As I turned a corner, a hawk dove from the sky right down in front of my car, and then flew back up.  Tears were streaming down my face at the time, but I immediately busted into laughter with so much gratitude.  I was going to be ok.  Everything was going to be ok.  There was no doubt.  That hawk was a sure sign that I was being guided – and then… that was it.  I have not seen one single hawk since that day, which is odd because I was seeing at least one hawk per day for about two years.  Once, I almost passed a hawk on a PG&E pole without noticing it, and it screeched at me.  (I swear to god it was screeching at me in order to get my attention).

It kind of bothered me that I wasn’t seeing hawks anymore.  (I mean, wtf)?  I kind of felt abandoned, so I finally questioned it aloud.  “What’s going on, man?  I’m not seeing hawks anymore.  This isn’t cool.  I need the hawk.”  Sock in my gut.  Awareness.  Clarity.  Knowing from within.  YOU are the hawk.  The hawk is always with you.  You have become one with the hawk.

Ok, I know this may sound crazy, but you probably don’t get how intertwined with the hawk I was during this time, and when you get a knowing from within, there is no doubting the message.  When I got that message about being one with the hawk, I almost fell over.  It was so incredibly clear, and there was a deep truth that I felt throughout my being.  After all I went through to walk through my fears, to face my doubts, to ignore those who may have thought I was a little bit nutty trying to move to an affluent county with my income (or lack thereof), I realize that I need to keep following the path of my inner knowing.  I need to trust in that place of myself that sees beyond what my five senses tell me is true.  I’ve got to continue “feeling” my way through my life, rather than placing so much weight on the way society identifies with how things work, or buying into an idea that the odds have authority over my life.

You don’t know how many times I’ve heard really nice, logical people tell me that if I want to get where I’m trying to go, I need to have a college degree.  Well, tell that to Mark Twain, Andrew Jackson, Christopher Columbus, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller Sr., Rachael Ray, Simon Cowell, Thomas (freaking) Edison and Walt Disney (to name a few successful people who never finished college).  The only reason I have never gone to college is because I have never felt drawn to college.  I simply don’t, so I keep moving along, reading the signs, practicing being present, trusting in my inner guidance system.  I have held a career for over 21 years without a college degree, but more than anything, I’ve taken the world head on and gained experience and wisdom that I would have never gotten by sitting inside of a classroom.  I’m not drawn to classrooms – that’s just me.  I’m not opposed to them.  I appreciate people who study hard and work toward their goals, no matter if they do it in a classroom, through the military, or simply through life experience like myself.  It doesn’t matter how you gain your knowledge.  What truly matters is if you are following your heart’s desire for your life.

I’ve been beating to my own drum since I was a kid.  My drumbeat was awkward at times, and for a very long time, it was off.  I’ve drifted and failed and found myself incredibly confused – enough that I needed to ask for help, but I kept moving forward.  I rarely got stuck in one place for very long.  In the grand scheme of my life, my addiction years were very brief.  I don’t look back.  I do not worry about what’s ahead.  Now that I know the beat of my own drum, and now that I am accepting the beat of my own drum – the drum works for me.  I am in harmony with my drum, just like I became one with the hawk.  My life is now working for me, after years of feeling lost and confused about everything.  After years of life NOT working for me.

I got a message from a friend last night asking what I thought about a decision he was making.  I don’t know why he is asking for my acceptance of his decisions.  I want him to stand on his own two feet and to know what he needs and wants in his life.  I want this for everyone, because it’s important that we accept ourselves and that we know where we are headed in our lives.  Trusting yourself and loving yourself should be your top priority.  Looking for acceptance from another human being is not going to help you find acceptance for yourself, nor is it going to get you very far.  It feels good to be accepted (I know), but it is not necessary.  My point of view of someone else’s life is completely jaded by a limited perspective.  If I would have allowed people to give me advice last year when I was following my good old fashioned gut, I doubt I would have gotten much outside encouragement because the odds were against me.  People want to give you good advice, but a lot of times, the advice is based in opinion and from a very limited perspective.  Don’t allow people to stifle your experience of your own life.  Learn to trust your inner guidance system.  Learn to see beyond what your five limited senses are saying.  This is what living is about.

This last year I have had more adventure in my life than I’ve ever had in several years combined.  I’ve made more friends in a shorter period of time than ever.  I’ve had more fun, been more motivated, I’ve had more opportunities, and I find myself so excited about waking up in the morning to start my day that sometimes I can’t even sleep.  THAT’s LIVING!  That’s being ALIVE.  That’s where I wanted to be four years ago when I decided it was time to get sober.  I knew I wanted to LIVE – not just survive.  I was tired of merely surviving.  Life is too short to simply get by.  You’ve got to take chances and jump the hurdles when they appear, and wonder about things.  Wonderment – now that’s exciting.  I wondered about that hawk, and look how far that hawk got me.  It wasn’t just a coincidence.  The hawk became part of who I am, but it is only because I was interested in knowing something deeper than the mere physicality of the hawk.  The hawk represented something for my life.  You can call me delusional, but if it wasn’t for my wonderment of the hawk, I do not think I would be where I am right now.  I wouldn’t have gotten this far.

Forget about what other people say and what other people do.  Beat to your own drum without hesitation.  Discover your own harmony.  Be who you are without fear.  It is so fantastically liberating.  There is so much magic in life – It is simply up to you to be aware of it.  If you have a dream, follow it.  You may not ever get to the top of the mountain you are climbing, but the view along the way is soooooo worth the journey!

Why I’m Suddenly Obsessing About the Number Zero

Possibilities

Zero is the greatest number of all.  You want to know why?  Are you curious?  Well, it’s a lot like the word, “surrender.”  If the number zero had a word counterpart (and it probably does, but I can’t find it online this morning), I would suggest that the word be “empty.”  When there is emptiness, there is endless possibility.  This is why zero is magnificent.  Zero is another way of saying “all things are possible.”  When you are void of all your ways, the only thing you have left is just about everything.  You don’t believe me?  Well, I’m no mathematician (by any means – I frigging hated math in school), but I did happen to hear one on the radio the other day who stated that in geometry, when there is nothing (zero-point), the possibilities are endless.  This is why I decided to start figuring out ways to empty myself each day so that I could open up the possibilities of my life.

Surrendering is about letting go – completely.  Giving up the fight.  It’s knowing that you have absolutely no control, but being willing and courageous enough to admit it.  It’s ground-zero.  It’s emptying yourself of everything because you need to discover a new way to be.  We’ve all been there at one point or during certain moments of our lives, but for many of us, everyday is about remaining in a humble place of surrender so that we don’t get ahead of ourselves again.

I’m a big fan of the word “surrender” because it’s what keeps me sober, but I’m always open to deeper insight, which is why I am so incredibly excited about knowing and understanding how when you have “nothing” that everything is possible.  I like the idea of being a blank canvass and clearing my mind so that I’m not disturbing the peace of my experiences.  The idea of having a blank mind means that I’m not blocking things from occurring in my life because I’m not tossing any doubts or negativity toward possibility.  It’s like constantly having beginners luck when you are open to all things being possible.  Let me explain how – I was invited to a Giant’s game the other day.  I like the Giants and everything.  I’m from the Bay Area, so of course I root for Bay Area teams whenever I do watch sports, which is rare, but I wanted my children to have the opportunity to go to a ballgame, so we went.  My friend bought the special events tickets, which only occur twice during the season.  I knew nothing (there’s that word again) about this.  I had no idea that people weren’t allowed to go on the green except during these special events.  Apparently going on the green is like a really big deal.  I wasn’t that impressed about it because it takes a lot to impress me, but it was really cool, especially because my friend was super excited about being on the green.  Anyway, we started doing the special event Yoga and there standing on a stage right before us was Michael Franti doing the music for our yoga session.  The Yoga session was incredible and it was occurring just as the sun was setting behind the stadium, so it was pretty surreal, but I was just taking it all in, incredibly grateful that we didn’t take off after grabbing our Giants yoga mats.  We stayed for the whole thing and the experience was beautiful and so much fun for all of us.  If I had expectations about what was to come that afternoon, I don’t think my experience of it all would have been so pure, unidentified and incredible.  I’m pretty certain that I would have jaded it with my expectations and notions.

Beginner’s luck is not knowing the odds, and not blocking the possibilities with fears or ideas by dwelling on the odds.  If you know the odds, you tend to focus on them which create an experience of odds.  If you don’t know anything about the odds, well – you’re open to the possibilities.  So there you go.  Surrendering is a really big clue about how to live in a way that opens your life up to all things possible.  If you empty your mind of odds and negativity, you are creating a wind tunnel for everything good to come through.  Clear the slate today.  Be present.  Experience life with beginner’s luck.  Stand in the ground-zero of your life and open yourself up to everything possible! Let’s see how far we can go. (I’m not even aiming for the stars anymore because that would be limiting myself from what’s beyond them!)

Changing Your Perspective Expands Your Life Experience

Flat Earth

A jet plane was moving quickly above me while I was driving to work yesterday, but the first thing I noticed was the thin white, expansive contrail.  It was an exceptionally clear morning and my brain was in an imaginative mood, so I sat at a stoplight pretending that I was looking up at a shooting star in broad daylight.  I thought about what it would be like if I were not of a society that knew about the comings and goings of planes, and I saw this thing up in the sky for the very first time without any knowledge of what it truly was.  There I sat pretending to be a tribeswoman peaking out of the trees of my very comfortable forest.  What would I chalk the plane up to being?  Would it be a shooting star in broad daylight?  A sign from the gods?  Perhaps I would consider it a miracle.  Would the plane be some sort of sign from the heavens, or an omen?  I was thinking about how we observe our surroundings, interpreting the world from separate perspectives.  If I knew nothing about a plane because I lived my life in seclusion from mainstream society, the plane would not register in my brain as a plane.  No, I would make sense of it probably by calling it a shooting star in broad daylight, or an incoming asteroid.  This is what I decided the plane would have been to me in my state of (for lack of a better word) ignorance.

I would probably be the one that left the tribe and explored the situation, although the subconscious fear of the tribe would discourage me from doing so.  “What if it is a devil?”  They might ask.  Or, “it could change you,” would be the greatest fear of all.  If one person changes in the tribe, it effects the entire tribe.  People don’t embrace change, so they discourage it or create weird scenarios around it.  I don’t care much about people’s fears, opinions and beliefs about the world.  I’d still go out and figure out what the plane was all about.  I wouldn’t be able to sleep very well or concentrate on anything else until I found out about that thing in the sky.

There is a lot of fear placed in exploring our lives.  When I first moved away from my hometown, I was 28 years old and I had two very young children.  Their father and I had been split up for over a year by that time.  An opportunity came up for me to move north and I did, and it was not easy, but I did it with an intention to find out about myself and to learn about the world without other people telling me what was right and what was wrong.  When I was struggling the most (probably because I was deeply rooted in guilt), I met someone along the way who held my hand and believed in me.  He opened a path for me that I would have never followed on my own out of fear, guilt, and dread of crossing the boundaries that people had placed before me all my life.  My conditioning nearly convinced me that life operated by handing out rewards and punishments – everything worked a certain way and I should not “explore” outside of the regulations of my religion.  I had already crossed enough of those lines in my life to know that I wasn’t constantly being punished like I thought I would be, and also, when I followed my curiosity, I was usually pleasantly rewarded with opportunities that wouldn’t have been available if I wouldn’t have explored.  Old thought patterns would arise – the hammer would soon come down, or I’m going to end up eating crow, or even worse – this might take me straight to Hell. Fear ruled my experiences, but I continued moving forward (I suppose that was what the alcohol was for at the time – to numb out my thoughts, which were tediously doused in worry).  Yes I drank heavily through all this exploration of mine, and the hammer did drop on me, but still I was offered opportunities to continue discovering my own path.  Never once did I go back to my tribe (hometown) and grovel because they were right and I was wrong.  I did go back for a few months when I needed solace and direction, but before long I was back on my own path – this time with much more acceptance.  I understood that the world was not out to get me.  In fact, it was much more loving and guiding than I had ever expected, so I carried on.

My perspective was one way when I left home, but eleven years later, it has opened up to a whole new understanding of life.  The fear is not ruling me any longer.  There is much more joy – in fact, even when I am having a rough time, I still feel a lot of joy.  I understand myself and who I am in the world.  I no longer feel “less than” or unworthy.  I laugh a lot more than I cry.  That’s a huge transformation right there.  I am no longer confused in any way, shape or form.  I enjoy my life more.  I am more accepting of others.  I watch what I think about rather than allow my thoughts to make decisions and determinations about my life.  I live in the moment rather than dwelling in the past or worrying about the future.  I am not afraid of change.  I embrace change, even when it means breaking up with someone I love very much, because I know what I need and what I don’t need.  I am not afraid to go for what I want.  I know what doesn’t suit me and I have no problem letting things go that no longer suit me.  I am not afraid to explore, even when people tell me not to explore.  I am no longer living my life in consideration of Heaven and Hell.  Heaven and Hell is right here right now.  I choose my path by choosing to walk in the way of love or the way of fear.  I’ve done both.  Love is much more accommodating, and exciting.  Fear is all-consuming and incredibly restrictive.

I was listening to the Catholic station the other day on my way to work.  There was a woman on who was talking about “the new age” thinking and how detrimental and damaging it is to the church.  I’m so glad I got to hear this on the radio.  Don’t even ask me why I had the Catholic station on.  I just did.  I like hearing how people think their way is right.  It’s incredibly interesting to me that people are so consumed with right and wrong.  Anyway, people were calling in to this woman and asking questions about crystals and things like the law of attraction.  She was very down on crystals and changing your thinking in order to attract what you want in your life.  She said this opens the door for (I guess) unruly spirits and such.  Hmmm.  Ironically EVERYTHING material on this physical realm of existence, including the microphone she was using, was originally someone’s thought before it came into fruition. Thinking is inventing. Thinking is creating, and isn’t the whole premise of the Catholic faith based in the concept of creation? Creation = creativity, which is what teachings of The Law of Attraction reflects. We are made in the likeness of God, which pretty much means that we ourselves, are creators… is this not what we are told while we are sitting in the pews? But if the congregation discovers the truth about their essence, well then the Vatican would lose their power over them, you see. And no one would be giving them money, which is how they remain in power, so they keep dousing out the fear through people like this woman on the radio show. If you give people the keys to their own empowerment, the the church would cease to exist; therefore, the teachings of The Law of Attraction and understanding the healing properties of the earth’s elements are absolutely detrimental to the institution of the church.

I listened very intently and there were times when this woman admitted to not knowing enough about something to give much advice.  That was a big clue that most of what she said was speculation.  What bothered me the most was that people actually bought into what she was saying, rather than going out and exploring these things for themselves.  If you want to know whether something is “wrong” for you, or “right” for you, wouldn’t you want the opportunity to discover this for yourself?  It never harmed me to learn by exploration.  In fact, what I learned most of the time was that people’s opinions about things were usually wrong, and backward.  If they have never entered a Buddhist temple, or read the Tao, or studied Judaism, or taken the time to understand the Muslim teachings, or the Tarot, then how can they even pass judgment on these things?  It doesn’t make much sense.

When you close yourself off from exploring you curiosity, you’re closing yourself off from a lot of things that life has to offer.  Many times we are taught not to explore, yet it is natural to want to explore.  I am of the understanding now that all things are created from one Source.  If all things are created from one single source of energy, then there is no reason to segregate myself from anything I am curious about.  Even if I go down the so-called “wrong path,” I am always given an opportunity for learning and discovering on my own that it may have not been the best direction for me.  This is a loving universe we live in.  If you think it isn’t, then your experience of it will be negative.  You create your experience by how you perceive things.

There is much to explore in life, so don’t cut yourself off out of fear.  Don’t limit yourself by what other people think.  If you are in recovery, do the next right thing and don’t pick up a drink or a drug, but don’t stop exploring the world and what it has to offer.  Be curious.  Learn about yourself.  Be open.  Learn to step out of fear onto the path of love.  Change your perspective and everything will change for you.  After all, the world isn’t flat like it once was perceived, and neither should your life experience be flat.  Be a knower rather than merely a believer.  Ask, seek, knock – receive, find and let the doors be opened to the vast experience of your own beautiful life.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/455639