Turn that Frown from Longitude to Gratitude

Gratitude

I know… pretty annoying title, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed, annoyed and perfectly tired of people who spend their lives thinking positive. (Shame on them for not being “realists.” Life is not all unicorns and butterflies). Pretty easy to say things like, “Have gratitude,” or “Look for the silver lining…” when life is not twisting you up inside, but when you’re feeling homicidal or hostile toward the world, those little sayings are enough to make you actually pull the trigger, or to at least pull the blankets up over your head as you sink lower into the darkness. I get it. I understand pragmatism, realism, pessimism… (Murphy’s Law-ism). I’ve tried all these ways of “being” after my recovery peers made me feel like I was walking around with a rainbow up my ass, and my counselor told me to get my head out of the clouds. I decided to take off the positivity suit and to button up in one of those negative attracting gowns. You know the ones… They don’t allow any light in at all, because that would be a set up for my demise.

Okay enough joking around. This is going to be simple enough. Personally, after trying out constant pragmatism, and then feeling mostly frustration and annoyance, I decided to give positive thinking a real chance (without being delusional and ignoring the bad stuff. You can acknowledge the bad stuff, laugh about it, and not get sucked into it, however), and honestly, life began opening up for me in ways that seemed to move mountains in my life. When I was being cooler about life, life became cooler with me. People were nicer, I was able to laugh more, situations that used to boggle me were not that big of a deal, and better opportunities were knocking at my door, rather than me having to climb barbed wire to get what I wanted. I didn’t accept that life was one way. That to me sounded a lot like ignorance. When you are open to receiving, without judging what approaches, with an attitude of gratitude (yes I said it, so roll your eyes… whatever dude), there’s a real intelligence to this way of being. I know a lot of people say that when you’re positive, you set yourself up for disappointment, but that’s only true if you’re positive and expectant of an outcome. So the hell what if life disappoints you once in a while? That simply means that you have to change your thinking around outcome. Open yourself up to a bigger understanding of things. Perhaps you didn’t get that job because subconsciously you didn’t really want it, or maybe your child is acting out because your overall negative energy is causing an imbalance with the world around you. Cars break down, computers crash, people don’t pay attention when they are driving, but it’s your thinking that either causes you grief, or sets you free.

If I was a therapist, the first thing I would ask people when they came to me with a problem, is what their thinking and self-talk is around the issue. I would start from there, because after several years of experimenting with gratitude and positive thinking, I’m thoroughly convinced that the way I think, determines my life experience.

I’ll end with this. Yesterday was my first day at a new job. I went from part-time self-employment, to full time employment. The money is much better, but my mind told me that I was imprisoning myself, and that I would be overwhelmed and unhappy. The funny thing about that is – I believe that I attracted this job into my life because I was feeling restless at my other job, and bored. I need to feel challenged in my work. Anyway, yesterday I woke up feeling like there was a boulder sitting between my shoulder blades and I felt terrible going into my first day with the attitude that I was not going to be happy, so I did what any good recovering addict would do and I surrendered to how I was feeling. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Scared. Worried… I actually got down on my knees and thanked the universe for the new job and for the opportunity that was being provided. I especially asked for help and guidance, and I also asked to make friends, to be of service, and to allow me to be a light. “Shine through me,” I affirmed. “Let this job be an opportunity for me to grow, for me to attract people into my office so that I can build new relationships, and to help me be a positive and kind voice that they hear.” Saying the prayer moved me from my head down into my heart, and when I walked into my new office, I felt a sense of serenity. The entire day unfolded in a way that I can only describe as uncanny. Several little coincidences occurred, letting me know that I was in the right place. My office is up away from the main thoroughfare, but several people came up and introduced themselves to me. I was able to offer them a genuine smile, along with a handshake, and confidence in myself when I let them know what I can do for them. Some of them came back around to say “hello” again, and they even entrusted me with their files. I have a job where I’m supposed to be building relationships and trust. I am certainly not “imprisoned” in my new position. No one is hovering over me. I have complete independence throughout the entire day. I am so fortunate, and I know that this job is the next step in my life. The right one. It’s a big giant step in the right direction, but had I sunk into my negativity yesterday, I don’t believe that I would have had such a good experience. It truly is my responsibility to not just “think” gratitude, but to “be” gratitude.

How can I be of service? How is this experience going to help me grow (emotionally, spiritually, mentally)? What can I do to make this experience a good one, even though it feels terrifying? These are the questions I ask myself now. It is so important to me to make the most out of my life, and to feel amazing while I’m here, so this is why I choose to think positive, and why when I feel homicidal, I surrender. Instead of yelling, “GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES…” I get down on mine.

Recognizing Stressful Sitations as a Process for Inner Awareness

woman meditating on rock

WOW it’s been a week!  Too much going on, yet no way to slow it down.  I don’t know what planets are aligned where or if Mercury is in retro-freaking-grade, or if Gemini is being eclipsed by whatever, but I feel like a frigging tennis ball.  Friday finally approached, just before a three day holiday I’m having with my family out on our private river island (oasis from this hellish week), and it turns out to be the most stressful day of all.  Unexpected twists and turns – a roller coaster of a day and evening, and none of it was fun, except when I finally sat down in bed last night and saw a really funny FB post.  Laughter certainly eased my anxiety, but then there were the dreams.  More stress, twists and turns and then I found myself purchasing a big bottle of god-knows-what at a liquor store. Drinking dreams.  They’ve come up a lot this week.  The worst ones are so realistic.  I drink and actually feel drunk.  I smell the booze and the next day I cannot recall anything from the night before.  It’s all too realistic for me.  This morning, my nerves are like the tattered strings of an old violin.  I’m spent. 

We all go through off-days and off-weeks.  I haven’t had anything like this come up for me in such a long time that I actually believed I’d transcended chaos.  Ha!  It’s good for me to know that I’m still in the running for Gandhi’s successor (I am so just kidding – trust me I really need sarcasm as a crutch today).  The truth is, I stopped looking at physical situations as “reality” and have come to a place where I understand these situations arise so that I can actually feel what’s going on for me – the inner reality.  I’ve been in fear all week.  I mean, anxiety central right here.  It hasn’t been constant, but there have been several occurrences that have brought up so much fear in me that I could not even pretend to be at peace.  And thank god for that.  I don’t like being delusional about myself.  I want to know what’s really going on with me.  I want my awful ugly side to come up once in a while so that I can get a good look at it and remember that I am human.  Life is not a fairy prance.  It’s raw.  It’s sometimes terrifying, and it comes with unexpected cliff hangers.  I don’t particularly like being on the edge, but it keeps me real.  It helps the suppressed fears to bubble up so that I can shine a light on those fears and release them out of my body.  These twists and turns are like physical exfoliation of my suppressed emotions.  Ugh, it sucks, but man I’m so grateful to be aware of myself, instead of thinking the world is coming up against me.  On the contrary.  It’s time for me to release some of this fear.  It’s time for me to be aware that it’s deep down inside of me.  It’s about time I faced it and had a little rendezvous with my old suppressed acquaintances.  The truth is, nothing BAD really happened this week, although a lot of things could have went “wrong,” and they still could go “wrong,” but now that I’m aware of my fears, I can easily accept any “wrong” that does happen because it isn’t the situation occurring.  It’s truly about facing those fears that come up when those situations bring it on.

I’ve been in jail.  I’ve lost everything.  I’ve faced the entire world on the Oprah show regarding a traumatic DUI involving my child.  People probably wonder why I’m so open about my life and my break ups and all the other shit that comes up for me.  I’m not afraid of other people’s judgment.  That’s LONG gone.  Don’t care what people think about me when I’m being true to who I am.  What I am afraid of, are other things that came up for me this week.  So it’s good that they came up for me through the mirror of physical reality.  I’m quite aware of my fears right now, and I’m not beating myself up for how I feel or my mistakes or for simply being human.  I’m merely taking a good look at myself and asking for guidance as I continue along my path. 

If you’re having a bad week, or a terrible month, or you just can’t seem to break the funk – take a good look at what’s coming up for you.  Take a real good inventory of those arising emotions.  That’s where the focus should be.  The outside stuff will work itself out.  Just keep looking inward.  This is where we need to keep our focus.  You wanna change the world?  Or at least YOUR world?  Well, keep working from the inside out.  Eternal peace often needs to rid itself of suppressed fears, so love yourself enough to allow those fears to dissipate through the mirror of physical reality.  For me, it all started with an earthquake at 3:00 a.m. last week, and here I am almost a week later still having a lot of anxiety.  Good for me.  I’m not anywhere near a place of arrival in my recovery.  It’s a good reminder that I only have right now and right now needs my full awareness and attention!  Never perfection – ALWAYS progress…

New Day – New Beginning

New Beginnings

Nature is the greatest example of “how to be.”  Nothing in nature (besides human beings) worries about what comes next.  We are the only species that has the ability to embody fear indefinitely.  Some of us walk in the darkness of our fear without even knowing it.  But if we look around and see how the plants and animals live in harmony, we will notice that they are in a constant state of trusting their environment in a state of being present.  They thrive from the offerings of the earth and they don’t worry.  They innately know that they will be given all that they need.  This is a great lesson for all of humanity.

I wake up as the sun is rising and it is a beautiful reminder that each day is a brand new beginning.  The crickets and frogs pass their symphony onto to the birds.  The darkness is relinquished as the sun moves her dance to this side of the planet.  A morning dew refreshes the plants, and we wake up again.  A fresh start is offered to each living creature. Tomorrow does not exist.  Yesterday is long gone.  The thing that we are generously given on a constant basis is NOW.  The only thing that takes us out of now, is our labyrinth of thoughts.  We wake up with regrets, worries, plans, ideas and often we rush through our mornings to get somewhere on time.  We lose ourselves throughout our day, and forget to touch, taste, see, smell, listen, laugh… feel.  We forget these gifts of life because we think that life is a car, a job, parenting, wearing the mask of professionalism, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, finding out what’s on the news… etc.  I’ve got news for you.  Real news.  There is a whole universe you are missing out on while you’re engrossed in the surface of life.  The whole universe is you and this very moment.

I used to think life was incredibly boring.  I was so bored that I despised even being here, and there were times when I looked forward to death.  If I wasn’t bored, I was terrified, which is even worse.  How did that all change for me?  Well, first because I yearned for it to change, and second, because one beautiful morning in 2011, I woke up with the sunrise and realized that it was all I had, and it was all I ever needed.  There was nothing other than me and this moment.  That was it.  That was always going to be it.  How refreshing.  How thirst quenching.  How simple and incredibly profound.  So here I am.  Here you are.  Wake up.  It’s a new day.  Embrace the new beginnings rather than embody your fear.  Let go of the need to control outcome and take it all in, because this is all you have.  This is all you ever have.  Thank God for that, because it is so perfectly uncomplicated – this right here, right now moment.  The whole universe (you) is encompassed in today.  Isn’t that something to behold?

We All Share a Longing for the Same Thing

Feeling Good

It’s so easy to pick apart someone else’s life and to see where they may have gone wrong, or to point a finger at something they are doing with which we don’t exactly agree.  After being such an incredible f*ck up for so many years, and then bouncing back into myself and following the path of my dreams, I have become humbled in the way that I observe other people.  I mean, who am I to judge?  Seriously.  But I’m certain because of all of my past shenanigans, that a few people still judge me by my past mistakes.  It may take several more years for me to rise up from the ashes in other people’s eyes.  Thank god I don’t worry about what those people are thinking as I move freely about my life these days.  We all have skeletons.  And the one thing I think about quite often is that no one truly knows what it was like to walk in my shoes.  No one knows how deeply I hated myself and how lost I truly was.  No one knows the struggles I faced and how hard I was on myself during that time.  And certainly no one knows WHY I went through that difficult time.  It was all part of my own path, you see.  And it was part of my children’s path too.  Take a little side-step with me for a moment…

If life is merely an experience, and we are all here on a journey of the soul, then why do we get so locked in on how things are supposed to be in the physical realm?  I was talking to someone this weekend about how most people are very controlling (present party included).  It is easy to see this about yourself when you are in a relationship, or parenting children.  We all want things to be a certain way, but why is this?  What is it about getting our way that makes things better?  For me (I’ll speak for myself here), if I’m getting my way or getting what I want, or having things done the way I like them done, it makes everything feel safe for me.  It gives me a feeling of relief.  And the very bottom line is that I feel much happier when things are done my way.  (Ah-ha!)

We all want to feel happy.  Who doesn’t? (Duh).  But when everyone is running around trying to control the surrounding world so that they feel happy (i.e. content, safe, secure, relief), then someone (a lot of people) are going to get their toes stepped on.  This is how arguments are cultivated.  This is how wars begin.  Everyone wants things to be a certain way.  It’s kind of a funny thing if you really think about it.  And this extends outward too.  When we observe other people doing things in a manner that wouldn’t make us happy, we label it as “weird” or “not right” or “strange.”  Why do we put so much emphasis on what other people are doing?  I had to really look at this in myself, and get to the bottom of that judgment of mine.  I discovered that most of the time when I was judging someone else, it was because I was jealous of their life experience.  It would make me feel so much better about myself if that other person would just remain within the margins of my life experiences.  Perhaps for others, people are pushing the boundaries of your own personal limitations and it makes you feel uncomfortable.  This may not be the case for you, but I would still question where the discomfort derives from.  It’s good to know this about yourself, because it paves a path toward self-awareness, which builds a foundation of letting go and being present.  In the present moment, I don’t have a problem with how other people live their lives.  I don’t focus on what my ex-boyfriends are doing.  I don’t get myself twisted in a knot over how amazing other people’s lives are compared to mine.  In fact, when other people are doing what I wish I was doing, I thank the universe for putting them into my experience so that I can get a clear vision of what I want in life.  It is good to have an image to focus on in order to create a path toward our desires.  Knowing people who are “living it up” is like having a animated vision board.  It’s pretty amazing.

If others are doing things in their lives different from how we do them, and they are not causing any harm to themselves or to others, then we should observe their joy, rather than point at their demonstration of that joy.  Or, you can do whatever you want, but what I’m learning in life, is that we all express ourselves in different manners, and we all demonstrate our path toward happiness in very different ways.  The demonstrations of the path toward happiness is like a shell.  When you look inside of that shell, you will see that most people in life are simply trying to feel happy, and we all demonstrate this in so many different ways.  Some of us (like me) who had a very difficult time sustaining that happiness – we end up imploding on ourselves and self-destructing.  But in order to truly find my joy, I had to go through that stuff.  It was all part of my experience.  Some of us take the full swing on life’s pendulum in order to get a full perspective.  And because my children were part of my life experience, they have been given a much broader perspective too.  Perhaps they needed that kind of experience in order to move quickly through things that may have taken them years.  I have no doubt that my two children are very focused human beings now because of the chaos they have endured.  They are stronger, they are wiser and they have learned a lot about forgiveness at a very early age.  They also know exactly what path they do not want to follow.  It is important to know what we don’t want in order to go for what we do want.  No one can look in from the outside of my life with my children and see the whole of the picture.  There is a lot playing out that you cannot fathom from being a mere spectator.

I think it’s beautiful that there are so many ways to demonstrate our experience of joy and happiness.  To look at it from another perspective, think of how there are so many different kinds of sports.  In each sport, the main objective is to win.  There are other reasons we play sports, of course, but we all do it so that we can experience a victory.  If victory is the main objective, then what does it matter what sport we play?  Wouldn’t it be an ignorant thing to say, “Oh, he plays football instead of golf.  What a jerk!”  But we don’t say that because we understand that people are all drawn to different sports.  Same thing with religion.  The objective of religion is to have a closer relationship with God.  Bottom line.  So why do we judge another person’s demonstration of their path toward God?  It’s ludicrous.  And if you are an artist who likes to paint, I doubt that you are making fun of the photographer, or scoffing at the writers in the world.  There are many paths to our passions and joys.  Who are we to say that someone else’s path is wrong?

Likewise, if people are doing things we don’t exactly understand, we can at least agree that whatever they are doing probably brings them joy, which is the main objective.  And if what they are doing is wreaking havoc on their life at the moment, we should understand that this is probably their own personal path to discover sustainable joy in their life.  They may be killing themselves to get there.  They may struggle and harm other people in the meantime, but rather than judge them – pray for them.  For whatever reason, those people that they are causing harm toward, have attracted that kind of “negative” experience into their life as well.  Everything is connected.  We attract experiences and people into our life in order to grow spiritually, and we may have agreed to encounter these experiences prior to even coming into this human form.  When you observe someone who is serving him or herself with temporary pleasures, you must realize that they too, are ultimately desiring happiness, but perhaps they have yet to tap into that sustainable joy (which we all desire). 

We are all having a human experience while we are here.  We all need assistance along the way.  We all want guidance because it’s difficult to see the forest past the trees.  We all want the same exact thing – happiness.  Give people a break.  Live your life the way you enjoy and compassionately allow others their freedom of expression.  Live and let live, man.  It’s a much more joyful and liberating way to be.

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JLForbes

Learning Not to Judge Others

Karma
When you put yourself out there to practice certain principles, the first thing that occurs is that you get several opportunities to practice these principles. It’s a given. While I was learning to practice compassion for myself a few years ago, I kept making mistakes that I probably wouldn’t have made prior to deciding that I wanted to offer myself compassion. Embarrassment and self-disgust came up for me several times until I understood that I was human and that I should learn to give myself a break rather than beat myself up. Over the years, I have learned to move through my mistakes a lot less clumsily without the self-hatred, but in the arrangement of mine to give myself compassion, I’ve had to deal with people who judge me harshly. People judge. It’s what we naturally do. Some people will follow another person and bite at their heels all the way to justice being served, while others hold grudges for years. Some people gossip until they exhaust their own soul, and others are hateful and awful toward the person that “did them wrong.” Life is not that black and white. There is always a backstory to every situation. I don’t think anyone wakes up in the morning and makes the decision to screw someone over. Most of the time people neglect themselves before neglecting another human being. I think the key here is that when someone does you wrong, or won’t listen to your side of the story, you’ve got to set yourself free by simply accepting that more than anything, that other person is human. Take it as an opportunity to practice love and compassion rather than becoming self-righteous.

It’s really interesting to me now to turn this all around and to give other people the same compassion as I give myself. With my children (whom I practice on the most), offering immediate forgiveness and compassion comes pretty naturally, because they are an extension of me, but what about the people in the real world who seem to be separate from me? How do I manage to offer my compassion to total assholes? There are so many of those riding in the middle of the street on their bikes without looking back while I’m in a CAR trying to get to work… (Satire here – I don’t truly think they are assholes). There are grumpy people, petty people, fussy people, people in a hurry, and people who I don’t have the opportunity to offer compassion toward because we pass each other through life so swiftly. I find myself impatient while I’m driving. I always tell my children, “I am a very spiritual person, but none of that applies in the car.” While on our vacation last week, we experienced two bad accidents coming home and two hours of bumper to bumper traffic through San Francisco. As I sat there tired and ready to relax in the comfort of my home, I decided to not get uptight about the whole thing. It was a good opportunity to practice patience and to just be in the moment. I did complain about a few things, like how bad the roads are in California when there are millions of taxpayers here, but overall, I kept my cool for once. Children observe everything, and if I’m not being cool, calm and collected in the car, that’s what they are going to bring up when I try to act like I’m a saint overall.

Regarding judgment of others – lately I’ve made several connections with so many new people and all of them are so dynamic in their own way. Every person I meet has experienced something in life that I haven’t experienced. I used to go into conversations excited to talk about myself, but now I’m finding myself extremely interested in what other people have to say. I love people. I love experiencing energy when I walk into a room full of people who are all there for the same purpose. I’m noticing the more I am accepting of people, the more they are accepting of me. It is true. The world reflects whatever you put out. I used to think of myself as a lone soldier who people didn’t “get.” Instead of thinking this way, I’m putting myself out there to see what I can learn from others, and everything has turned around for me. It feels like there is a lot of love out there for me. I’m not talking romantic love – I’m speaking about acceptance. Now that I am embracing the world and the people in it, the world and the people in it are embracing me.

No one is perfect and it is so easy to judge. What isn’t easy, is to offer love and compassion to everyone you encounter. This is a challenge. I heard it in a movie this week, “You’ve got to see through all the obvious, down into a person’s heart,” bottom line. People put up walls, and act like jerks, but underneath most human beings is a vulnerable soul. We have all been hurt and done wrong and been abused in some way, shape or form. Many of us are grieving for someone we’ve lost. Each one of us has experienced a bad day. I was treated poorly this week by a cashier, but I looked beyond that and saw that there was some frustration behind it. Obviously that guy was having a rough day. We’ve all had those. Instead of making his day worse by telling his boss, or by complaining directly to him, I offered a broad smile and told him I really appreciated him bringing the box of paper to my car. Why waste my energy getting angry when it takes a lot less time to be kind? I could have dwelled on that all day, but instead, I let it go. Let it go. There’s a concept.

Instead of noticing what a person is lacking, I’ve been practicing a new way of thinking. What is their gift in life and what do they know that I don’t know? Probably A LOT. We attract everything that comes our way, so instead of rejecting people by judging them, I’ve decided to be open to them. It’s all part of the flow that I so often talk about. Don’t stop the flow of your life. People come into our experiences in all shapes, forms, sizes and with different belief systems. What are you going to be for them? I no longer put a guard up. I simply open myself up to whatever experience comes my way with each person I encounter. I don’t have to pretend to like them. I simply have to accept who they are. When you accept people for who they are, they automatically open themselves up to you. It’s incredible. People notice when they are accepted. They are drawn to acceptance. I’ve noticed since I’ve been doing this that people are very drawn to me. And I’m not getting a bunch of riff-raff – I’m getting to experience people with their guards down too. People want to be loved. They want friendship. They want acceptance because the world offers a lot of judgment as it is. Everyone has something to teach us about ourselves and about how to be.

Let it go. Let people make mistakes. Allow them to be angry, to be short with you, to be in whatever state of mind they are in at the moment. It takes much less energy to smile than it does to argue. I’m still learning this (especially in the car), but it is liberating. Life is too short to remain angry. Life is too precious to keep a guard up. Life is too generous to be self-righteous and judgmental. I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten more second chances than I deserved, so I’ve decided to offer that same generousness to others. If you want acceptance, you’ve got to learn to give it first. That’s the golden rule we learned about in Sunday school. It’s karma. It’s not a bitch. It’s kind of beautiful actually.

Good Ole Socrates Knew What He Was Talking About

Know Thyself
Some of us come to this earth out of the womb knowing exactly what we want to be when we grow up. My mom probably has hieroglyphic script scarred into her inner abdomen from my earliest writings. An artist knows her path without much outside influence. And then there are those who are born without direction who may feel like they came here without a purpose. Perhaps a purpose for being here doesn’t even occur to them. I don’t honestly know. I’ve always been a poet, a storyteller, a philosopher of sorts. I knew my purpose early on. I don’t know what it feels like to not have a craft, or if it even matters to those who don’t, but even if you are some artistic prodigy right out of the womb – until you know yourself, your craft may feel a bit unbridled and frivolous.

For those of you who don’t know your purpose in life (and if you even care) – we all have been given one unique thing in life. That one unique thing is yourself. If you spend your whole life trying to figure out who you are through the likes of other people, or by searching outside of yourself for answers, there will always be a sensation of feeling lost. If you feel lost, it is because you have not yet discovered yourself. Trust me, I know. I spent a good majority of my life feeling completely lost although I knew very well that I was a writer. Writing is just a tool that I use to channel my voice, but if I don’t know who I am, then how do I even know what I want to say? More often than not, I wrote from the point of view of other people, and a lot of times I plagiarized (in a sense) because I would read books and try to imitate those author’s writings and voices. My writing did not become organic until I took an interest in myself. When I decided to put down the bottle of booze and began learning to treat myself with respect and love, I discovered that my inner child (my soul) was the one thing I’d been searching for all along. I wasn’t lost simply because I was an alcoholic. I was lost because I detached from my essence when I was twelve. That innocent part of me simply wasn’t “cool” when I was trying to fit in with my peers, so I left her behind and molded myself into what I thought would be acceptable to others. I was a fish out of water trying to breathe in air. It never worked for me, but I spent over twenty years trying to develop lungs in place of the gills. This became incredibly gruesome in my thirties. People began catching on that I was a charade, so through the gift of recovery, I made my way back into my natural environment. Here I am now without a doubt of who I am and what I am doing while I am alive. I got to know myself, you see, which is an ongoing process. Each human being is an entire universe. Explore that universe. Discover your essence. Be a physicist and get to the bottom of yourself where you will discover that you are everything. This is the purpose of your life. This is what we should all be doing.

To “know thyself” is a powerful statement of action. It sounds a bit self-centered, doesn’t it? But truthfully when you come to love yourself in a genuine manner, you learn to practice compassion for your faults. You learn to not take yourself so seriously, and you chuckle instead of condemn yourself for being human. This self-love is a gift to others because once we know who we are, we understand who each human being is and we are able to love our neighbors with the same kind of compassion as we have for ourselves. Jesus knew what he was talking about too, when he gave that one commandment to “Love God with all your mind, your heart and your soul, and love thy neighbor as yourself.” To honor yourself is to honor your Creator, and to love yourself, is to love God. To love yourself is to love others. This statement Jesus made was symbiotic. Love is circular – global actually. The universe was created in love, and everything in the universe is cyclical. On a smaller scale, this love we learn to have for ourselves has a cyclical effect on those around us. It is the ripple effect we so often hear about (one act of kindness extends out unto the world).

What does it mean to “know thyself?” Yes. Continue asking this question and allow it to lead you to the answer. The only thing we all should be doing, is being ourselves. This is the soul purpose of each human being. We come to earth in this body. We leave the body behind when we die. In the meantime, we should know that our body is a temple – the dwelling place of our essence (our soul). The human body should always be searching for its beautiful soul while it is alive. Remember in ‘Finding Nemo’ how Dori forgot who she was, and Marlin was there to remind her. This relationship between Marlin and Dori was a beautiful analogy of the dance between the body and the soul. Keep re-connecting to yourself and discovering who you are. Align with that essence and unify with that inner light. We all have it. That light will lead the way (just like Dori intuitively lead the way for Marlin), and you will never feel lost again. Remember when Dori told Marlin that he just “felt like home?” Yeah, Pixar is pretty deep. Going home has nothing to do with entering heaven upon death. It has everything to do with the soul uniting with the body right now. This is the truth in the words of Socrates, “Know Thyself.” And the message of Christ, “Love Thyself.” More than anything – BE Thyself.

The Seagull’s Song – “Rythm Over the Blue”

Seagulls
This week my children and I spent several days along the coast discovering new beaches and revisiting our favorites along the way. Three days into our trip, one sprawling beach caught our attention, so we made a day there, frolicking in the sand under an overcast, humid sky. We played along the shoreline in shallow, choppy and inconsistent waves. We chose a less populated spot to picnic, and as I sat there watching my children playing in the water, I understood why not very many people were in this particular area. Behind me was a freshwater pool where gulls flocked in multitudes. Every so often (quite often) the birds would squawk in sync and then fly out to the ocean all together. Above my two children they would flap their white wings and navigate along the ocean in troves, and then about a quarter mile out, they circled back to the beach pond and landed into the shallow water. There were a couple hundred seagulls, at least. I thought of moving away from the noisy birds several times, but something about this strange bird phenomenon intrigued me. What were they doing, exactly? They definitely were not hunting for fish. This was clear. I continued watching the gulls and noted that there was a rhythm. It seemed as if they did this random quarter mile flight about every five minutes, but they did not have a timer, so how did they know when it was time to launch?

At some point I made peace with the squawking, flying birds and decided to stay in the area. Perhaps I could figure out what they were doing. When I felt warm enough, I made my way into the ocean and spent an hour body boarding with my children, assisting my daughter in moving with the body of water after she had been dragged through the sand by a wave. It made her quite nervous, but she quickly moved through her fear. This was a good time to get out while she was feeling confident enough to swim around without me alongside of her. I got back on steady ground, laid upon my beach towel and opened a book I’ve been reading about the poet and sage, Robert Lax who moved to the Greek Isles from America in his early forties and ended up staying there for the remainder of his life. Interestingly, the chapter I was on was about rhythm. Every so often, I found myself looking up from my book to check on my children and to watch the gulls do their flight routine above the water. It was a curious event and I doubted that I would ever figure out the point of their travel pattern. My human mind created scenarios of them being in some sort of bird boot camp. I actually wondered if they were training for something, but most likely they were just there reflecting what I was about to learn. Their purpose for this rhythmic flight may have been nothing more than a demonstration of the rhythm of life.

As I read about Robert Lax’s understanding that our bodies require rhythm in order to flow with life (instead of against it), it occurred to me that I’ve been second guessing myself all along, although I’ve pretty much made a personal art of just going with the flow. Once in a while, I’ve gathered that my movement with the flow of my life is frustrating to the people around me who want things to be a certain way, and are quite fixed in their thinking. People get stuck in their ideas of what should happen next, rather than allowing life to unfold as it may. I used to be this way too. It’s common, but I’ve let go of that need to have things be a certain way. There’s been too many times when things didn’t go my way, and at that moment when I believed things were “off,” a synchronistic event occurred that brought it all together in a way that I could have never predicted. Frustration is a result of expectation. I don’t enjoy being frustrated, you see. I suppose my goal all along has been to find a way to live in a constant state of peace. In my attempts to go with my own flow, I’ve been called “moody,” although my “moods” are a result of needing to reflect inward some days, while other days I’m more extroverted. I’m ok with this way of being. I no longer resist myself, nor do I judge myself for not always being outgoing. Some days I am the life of the party and some days I’m alone in a corner just being quiet. I don’t try to be anything any longer. I’m like a reed in a river just bending with the wakes and wind. The inner calm is constant and whatever is occurring on the outside is mirroring my state of being. Everything is connected, and I’m a part of the whole. Human beings are part of nature, so I have learned to pay attention to how nature lives in harmony, so that I can do the same. Over the course of the year, I’ve thought of myself as random and choppy like the waves, because of someone close to me basically telling me that I’m “off.” According to what other people observe, maybe I seem that way, but I know from being in my own body and mind, that most of the time I’m just trying to find my balance. Nothing more and nothing less. Harmony is extremely important to me, so when I feel “off” I tend to go inward where I can interpret what is going on for me. I’m simply going with my own inner ebb and flow, and when I do things with a sense of well-being and love, my decisions end up having a ripple effect for all people involved. Everything always works out in the end. There really is rhyme and reason behind everything I do, although it isn’t easy to explain to those who are comfortable with a more linear existence.

It took me about two hours to understand that the seagulls had a natural timer driving them to and from the ocean. It was very interesting to say the least. I observed that each time the surf was heavy and thundering, capped with a white funnel, the gulls would squawk loudly and then they would simultaneously fly out above the water, and then turn back around. The surf determined their flow, and a high folding of the waves meant that it was time to go out and do their dance. There was rhyme, but I have yet to understand the reason. I suppose it doesn’t really matter why the birds followed this pattern. It just is. That’s all. And because I was reading about rhythm in that very moment in time, it all came to a full circle of understanding within me.

Like many people, I have always been drawn to the seashore. I am not much of a sailor because I do get sick from the motion, but swimming in the ocean and being near the vast body of water just feels like home to me. While I was out body boarding that afternoon, I felt the rhythm of the sea and it was relaxing. Rather than resisting it, I became part of it. I showed my nervous daughter how to flow with it instead of fear it. She caught on quickly and decided that she absolutely loved the ocean. Such as life. We can either resist what is happening for us, or we can be in a constant state of surrender so that we flow freely through the currents, even when they are unpredictable. When we are aware of the surrounding environment, we learn to dance with it, rather than dread the incoming tides. I’ve spent most of my life resisting, and my life was perilous during that time, but I’ve learned the art of surrender and now I wake up excited about another day. The seagulls taught me something about rhythm last week. They reminded me that it’s a very natural thing to move with life, to take cues from the elements and to not need an explanation. They taught me about poetry in motion and reminded me that I can trust my inner ebb and flow. We all have this natural ability to move in sync with life and it doesn’t matter what the observer sees. I have no idea what those birds were doing out there, but they certainly didn’t make any fuss about me. Harmony doesn’t need a reason. It simply is.

For Those of Us Who Are Sensitive to the Energy of Others (How to Keep Your Balance When You Carry the Weight of the World)

Weight of the World
When I was a child, I naturally looked past people’s faults and saw their pain. Not only did I see it, but I felt it deeply. At some point, this gift became overwhelming for me and I could no longer handle all the emotions I carried, so I consciously disconnected from myself and began to live my life on the surface – if not merely to fit in – simply to be set free from the heaviness I carried. Eventually I came back around to myself, but I learned to focus on my own emotions, rather than the emotions of others. I still feel people. Immediately upon meeting people, I know what is going on with them, and when I feel nothing, they are either very clear or incredibly guarded. I feel confusion, anger (this is the worst for me), jealousy, lack of focus, an unsettled spirit (difficult for me to be around), insecurity, neediness, sadness, etc… and I also know immediately when someone is whole in themselves. I feel their entire presence and we usually connect very quickly. I have met a couple of people like this recently and within a short period of time, we have become very close.

One of the people is a twelve year old child. She is experiencing people’s pain and it becomes overwhelming for her at times. It’s difficult because you can’t fix the world, but you want to when you have this gift of empathy. There was no guidance for me at her age, so it is important to me to offer her my guidance now that I have come back around to myself. The thing I’ve learned over these last eleven years of soul searching and truth seeking, is that suffering is a choice. No matter what circumstances we are facing, no matter how difficult things become, suffering is absolutely a choice. How you think determines how you feel, and also, how you think creates your experience, so we must understand that when we are in the presence of someone who suffers, instead of feeling sorry for them, we should give them compassion, but we should also know that taking on their suffering is going to drain us. In the same situations, people experience situations differently according to how they think. I have been very poor financially at times to where I was eating top ramen for months so that I could pay my rent, but I never once thought of myself as poor. I was so grateful to have a job, to have a roof over my head, to be sober and to feel good. The last thing I ever did was compare myself to other people who were affluent. I knew my situation was temporary and I was also more concerned about my well-being than I was about my income. Within a fairly short amount of time I moved up in the world and got a better job, etc. If I would have bought into a notion that I was “poor” and “less than,” I would have never been open to receiving the abundance that I am experiencing now, and it’s only getting better because I still do not go to dark places in my mind when life brings me challenges. The most important thing I do, is not worry about how other people view my situation. I don’t care if Bentley driving Drew over there knows how to drink responsibly, owns several homes, travels the world and has five college degrees – The last thing I’m doing is considering what he thinks of my situation. That would be futile for me.

Because the universe is made up of vibrations and light, everything we experience is a direct result of our own thoughts (which are vibrations). Even before we were born, we were a vibration in the universe. This is quantum physics here – I’m not talking out of my airy-fairy ass. Therefore, it is clear to me that this human experience is but a grain of sand in the ocean of experiences. I am convinced that we live several different lifetimes. When I encounter someone who is suffering, I not only look at them as my brother or sister, but I see them as myself. Because I believe that we are all one, I understand that we all experience every facet of life. This means that we have all been the aborted child, the mother who aborts her child, the homeless man on the street, the drunk, the junky, the murderer, the President, the Pope, the affluent person, the person of poverty. I no longer buy into a concept that I am separate from anyone, but I do understand that I have the ability to create my experience now. This means that everyone else is creating their experience too, and I don’t think it begins at birth. Because we are already vibration and consciousness prior to birth, I trust that we know exactly what we are getting ourselves into when we join the human race. Yes, I feel that I knew my challenges before I even came into this world. Perhaps a child who knows it is going to be aborted, chooses that path in order to move a mother’s consciousness into a higher level, or to give the mother an experience that she wouldn’t have had without the abortion. This is why I no longer judge any situation or anyone who does anything. Since we are all very connected, we all influence each other’s lives. at some point in our experiences, we wake up – we completely wake up, but it can take several lifetimes to get to that place. Because we only have a very limited point of view of the overall picture, I’ve decided to trust that I know nothing. All I know is who I am, and all I can do is get closer to that I AM, while offering love and compassion to others along the way. I cannot fix the world or change anyone. I can change myself, however, and that’s where I place my focus.

Ground yourself in yourself and ask for help when you need it. Be true to who you are without being influenced by the people around you. Keep your balance by focusing inward, rather than out. If you “feel” someone’s deepest emotions – feel the emotion all the way through. Allow the pain to roll through your body so that it is quickly released, but do not hang onto it, or dwell on how you think the person is feeling. They are having their experience of life, while you are having yours. Having compassion means allowing others to have their experience without interfering. You can be a guide to them by simply being whole in yourself. The last thing you should do is take on their experience.

Trust your intuition about people without judgment. If you feel a stir within you that doesn’t feel good, there is no reason to remain in the presence of that person. We get so caught up in attachment. Learn to let go everyday. Life is constant movement. You do not have to stay anywhere or with anyone who does not feel right. It is good to learn to keep moving and to trust yourself along the way. Since I have been more aware of myself, I am much more aware of what is going on with other people. I have learned to remain solid, but I do waiver at times – and this is ok. It is good for me to feel that insecurity because it gives me something to work on. I don’t have to judge myself or condemn myself for not being completely whole in myself all the time. I am always growing, learning and becoming closer to who I am. Life is a journey and nothing more. It’s just an experience. Don’t get too caught up in the drama. Just learn to be present and keep moving forward!

What Exactly is Integrity?

Integrity
In recovery we learn about integrity. They say integrity is what people do when no one is looking. No one is perfect. I mean, come on. Being a mom has given me two little people (well they aren’t exactly little anymore) in my life who call me out on my nonsense. They are like video cameras recording everything I say and do. The good thing about them being like this is that they keep me in check. They see all. It’s pretty incredible. I don’t get away with much, if anything. Most of us are doing our best in life. Others are not. Some people are harmful to the world and others don’t live according to our standards. Integrity may begin with what you do when no one is looking, but it certainly doesn’t end there. It’s more about being rooted.

When I think of the word “integrity,” I get an image of myself as a very solid person – someone who does not waiver. I see myself taking full responsibility for my life, and bringing it all in – a person who stands tall, but doesn’t see themselves as better than anyone else. When I am filled with integrity, I don’t view myself as “right” while thinking others are “wrong.” I just do my best with what I have as I am moving along in the world. If I mess up, I admit it, but I don’t wallow in it, even when others are trying to grind my head into their notions about my life. Integrity to me means that I know who I am and where I am going. I am not too hard on myself, yet I try my hardest to be the best person I can be. I fall short at times, but I keep walking in my strength and helping others along the way. I am kind. I am forgiving. When someone else is struggling, I see myself in them and I offer whatever I have to give because I’ve been there before. I don’t forget where I came from, but I know exactly where I am going.

It doesn’t matter to me much anymore what other people say. Words have become so diluted – as a writer, it makes me kind of sad that we aren’t taught the root of words in school. So what do we have left? We have actions. People babble all the time about what they believe in – about their good deeds – about “the truth” and so forth, yet when the skin meets the pavement, many people falter in their beliefs. They haven’t truly dealt with their fear, you see. When you haven’t walked through your fears, your words paint a nice picture, but they mean absolutely nothing, because your “truth” will come out in the form of really bad behavior when you haven’t put some guts behind what you say you are, no matter how much integrity you try to uphold.

For a really long time I thought I wanted to be a missionary, or some kind of church leader, but I saw the pressure on those that were behind the pulpit, and more often than not, none of those people lived up to the standards of the congregation when it came right down to it. You can go to seminary school all day long and learn the texts and history of religion, but they don’t teach you about facing your fears or facing yourself in the mirror. I never learned how to do that by sitting in a pew. I learned that by going out into the real world and finding out who I was, realizing I was shit, and doing something about it. Not that we are all shit, but when you start facing yourself – instead of idealizing yourself, you realize that you’ve got a lot to work on. Instead of pointing fingers, you begin working vigorously on yourself. That’s integrity. And it doesn’t stop there. You keep doing that. Over and over and over. And when you start seeing yourself pointing your fingers, you haul your hand back down to your side and do another inventory of yourself. It never ends. That’s integrity. When someone does you wrong, you take an inventory of how you feel and at some point thereafter, you automatically forgive them because you see yourself in them. That’s integrity. You keep coming back to yourself through the mirror of other people. You keep marching forward rather than looking back. You are strong in a way that is humble. That’s integrity.

When people are not healthy influences in your life, a person with integrity knows to let go. They know how to move on. They keep marching and continue taking inventory of themselves along the way. They see things for what they are rather than romanticizing life. They are true to themselves, but they always lend a helping hand to others and practice genuine kindness. Integrity is more about being rooted in who you are, rather than talking about what you believe in. It takes work and willingness, and it never ends.

The root of the word “integrity” comes from the Latin adjective “integer” meaning, “whole or complete.” It’s like becoming who you truly are after seeing exactly what you aren’t. Integrity accompanies humility. It requires balance. It means taking action, but that action is internal before it is external. What goes in, must come out. To be a person of integrity you must face the mirror and walk through your fears. The rest is history, and anything else is just talk.

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JLForbes

Are You Aware of the Role That You Play, Or Are You Stinking Up Your Old Costume?

Stage
I’ve been changing it all up lately in the way I view things, including other people’s notions of “right and wrong.” The clarity is coming in strong. I am beginning to see everything in physical reality as a stage, while everything emotional is like the act, and then there are the actual players upon that stage. When everything is said and done and when the curtain rolls closed, everyone takes off their costume and becomes who they truly are – well, not right away. The funny thing is, the players don’t always know that they are actors. They play their role so very well, that they believe they are actually the character on stage. They don’t even see the stage, or the curtain, and they go about their life boasting around in their heavy costume. At some point the seams begin busting and people start seeing right through them, but they don’t want to remove that part of themselves because it has defined them for so long. They have been “right” or “safe” inside that old stinky garment, although the play is over. When people start seeing through the clothes, the actor becomes defensive and scared. They try holding on to the role they have played all these years, but the world won’t allow it any longer. It’s time to get off the stage and step down from being an actor. Their role has been exhausted, and they were brilliant for that time they played that part, but it’s time to move on. It’s time to become a true star, you see.

I’ve watched people in my life who refuse to get out of their costume. Their costumes are full of stench, and people are no longer buying into the act, but they refuse to switch roles to suit the current act. Often I get this overwhelming sense of stagnancy when I am around them, but up until now I couldn’t place my finger on why that was so. I get it now. It’s very clear to me. Then there are those who are in the midst of shedding their costumes, but they are having an extremely difficult time letting it go, so they squirm, and struggle and when I am around them I notice that they are unravelling before me. They are very convinced that someone or some circumstance is causing their discomfort, or their anger, but from my perspective, I only see a person who is resisting change and growth. I want to hug them, but most of the time they see people outside of themselves as the enemy, so I have to stand back and allow them go through their process, no matter how long it takes them. It’s none of my business really. They may figure out a way to keep that darned costume on so that they can continue pointing fingers at the other players because that’s been such a comfort to them all these years. I move on because I know my role in their life has been exhausted – unless they choose to embrace the mirror that I am offering.

Sometimes I see myself as a wanderer who gets a glimpse every now and again into people’s acts. Once in a while I get a role to play, but it doesn’t last very long. Many times I’m just a person in the audience, but even that is an ever-changing role. The one thing I don’t do is get lost as a player any longer. I don’t buy into a belief that I am one thing or another. Each moment offers opportunity to be the star that I am in it’s wholeness, but when I am not able to be the star, I gladly give up the part to whomever shines the brightest in that moment. I have so much to learn, as we all do. We are all stars, often playing small roles. Some of us just haven’t given up those small roles because they are so incredibly comfortable. To take off the costume is a terrific struggle, because at that point, we’ve grown out of them and they are stuck on our personas.

It is good to know what role you are playing in life and not to get caught up in the belief that you are that role. People wonder why God would put us here upon this dense earth to struggle and to suffer. After all, life is very hard, and grief can be excruciating, but what if… just suppose for a moment that God was inside of each living thing, merely playing out a role, forgetting the very essence of him or herself so that God could re-experience the essence over and over and over through different facets. What if God played many roles so that God could struggle and resist, and finally surrender until God came back to him or herself, because that experience (enlightenment) is something you can only feel when you have forgotten who you truly are? Think about it. Meditate upon it. Allow it to consume you. Realize what role you are playing, and then understand what is beneath the layers of costume. Step off the stage once in a while and be the audience. Change is good. Stop resisting. This life is not as serious as we make it. Circumstances are here to offer you a new perspective. That’s all they are, so stop buying into the act. We take ourselves so seriously. PLEASE – It’s all an act. The curtains will open and the show must go on, but once it’s over, you will be reminded of your essence underneath the costume.
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JLForbes