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

If You Want Truth – Question Everyone and EVERYTHING, Including the Very Ground You Walk Upon

Think for yourself

The best teachers are the ones who allow you to discover the truth for yourself.  The best gurus lead you to water and stand back while you get to choose if you are going to take the satisfactory drink or not, without influencing you one way or the other.  The best pastors are the ones who lead with compassion rather than trying to mold a congregation into a single-minded group of followers.  Now that I am an adult separate from the influences of other people, and standing on my own two feet without a chain linking me to someone else’s beliefs and ideas, I am able to walk in the way of my own understanding.  There was a lot of fear surrounding my addiction, so I went to treatment to learn how to remain sober.  Once I got myself sober, I continued walking through my fears because this was the only way I was going to be liberated in my life.  Of course to stay sober, you have to follow certain guidelines and get support and be honest.  There is a program of recovery suggested to follow, and I surrendered to it all because I was at a place where I needed help.

In treatment I was mercilessly stripped down to the bare nothings in who I thought I was, and all of my beliefs, ideas, opinions, childhood conditionings, and my speculations about life were demolished.  Even my spirituality was questioned to the point of me letting it go for a time.  And for me, this was brutal.  Because I was so willing to remain sober, I let the spiritual aspect of my life go and spent several months in complete rawness of myself and world around me, without any thought toward God or ideas about how the universe works.  For those of you who follow my blog, you know this must have been a time of desolation for me.  To some degree it was, but I trusted that it was part of me remaining sober.  If I had to spend the rest of my life in one-dimensional reality to remain sober, I was willing.  At the time, I was surrounded by peers who kept me in the raw world, and this was good for me.  This built me a very strong foundation in my recovery because I wasn’t lost in a realm other than the one that was occurring right before my eyes.  

As time went on, I felt much more confident about who I was and in my recovery.  After questioning everything about myself, I began to understand exactly who I was. I was noticing for myself, that there was no room for exploration in the one-dimensional kind of thinking.  I began to question how people thought about things, and how their reality reflected that kind of thought process.  For example, in my group of people there was one particular person who was afraid to spend money because they believed it was irresponsible at their age to do anything but save money.  This person worked two grueling jobs and never did anything except for save money and work.  In the years that I spent observing this person, nothing changed for them, and honestly, they seemed quite unhappy.  In other situations, people had ideas about how being successful meant working hard, so they spent their life working themselves to exhaustion, and they were never happy.  There was a person who had a very negative view on life, and life kept throwing them lemons.  Then there were a few people who didn’t think they could afford a place to live in the city we were in, so they limited themselves to looking in the seedy areas outside of the city, believing that this is all they had as an option.  I’ve been pretty “poor” my whole life and I’ve never lived in a seedy area because I’ve always trusted that I could find something nice in my price range.  I always have, so after a time of observing how people’s ideas and thoughts reflected their reality, I decided it was time to go out on my own limb.

Fear came up for me a lot, but I decided to be aware of it instead of buying into it.  I made a clear path of what I wanted for my life and began following that path.  Everything that did not enhance or harmonize with the vision I had for myself, got tossed aside in my thoughts and in my reality.  If someone in my world was pulling me in another direction, I let them go.  If a job came up that took me away from that path, I didn’t take the job.  When there were choices to make and I was confused, I sat quietly with myself and allowed things to pan out for themselves with my eye focused on the reality I wanted to create for myself.  This has been my path for about two years now, and not only am I still sober, but I am incredibly happy and fulfilled.  I’m closer to my dreams than I ever have been, and I continuously get confirmations from the universe (i.e. coincidences) that tell me I’m being supported along the way.

As a young girl, I thought about things deeper than a lot of people I knew.  Because of this, I didn’t fit in, so I molded myself around other people’s thoughts and ideas about life so that I could be “part of.”  This obviously did not work for me.  Instead of trust my own inner compass, I disregarded myself and became someone who was acceptable to others.  I think we all do this to some degree.  Recovery has brought me back to myself – back to that child who is a deep thinker.  I do not reject her anymore.  I simply found a place to live near like-minded people.  At a young age, I did not know I was an artist.  In fact, I didn’t consider myself an artist until a few years ago.  Now I know why I think differently than a lot of people.  Artists have an abstract view of life.  I’m following my own understanding of life now, and things are unfolding for me like never before.  I question everything and don’t limit myself to believing life is one way.  There are endless possibilities, but it all begins and ends with the way we think, the way we observe and how we perceive our surroundings.   

I don’t believe the way I think is “right.”  I simply feel that we can think anyway we want, and that our reality will unfold for us in that mindset.  If you want greater things in life, then you must think bigger.  If you buy into fear, then you will never know freedom.  Your reality is a reflection of your way of thinking, so allow yourself to explore and discover what the world has to offer.  Be a dreamer and follow that path.  This is a universe of abundance, of love, of grace and of harmony.  If you think it otherwise, you will discover otherwise.  If you think you don’t deserve certain things, then you are closing yourself off from receiving.  It is a playful reality we live in, which is why I have decided to play and to explore, rather than buy into one mindset.  Recovery doesn’t have to be a strict path we follow.  If we follow certain principles, like being honest, we can learn to dance freely in our sobriety.  We are not limited in our lives simply because we cannot drink or use drugs. Recovery is a gift of life – it brings us back to ourselves – to the one we left behind when we were uncomfortable in our own skin.  It is a liberating state of being.  Don’t just buy into what people tell you – question it.  Question the ground you walk upon.   Question your fears, your ideas, your beliefs.  Question religion and keep questioning.  This will lead you to amazing discoveries, and I promise you life will never be boring again.  I think that was what got to me the most when I thought about sobriety.  I thought it would be boring.  Well, it isn’t.  Especially when you are living life as an explorer, rather than a limited thinker.  Have fun today (and tomorrow and for eternity)!  Think beyond your ideas about life, and life will gladly allow you to walk in it’s vastness.

When People Die, We Ask WHY, Instead of Opening a Conscious Eye

Life and Death
Tragedy blusters our entire being. It halts us in our tracks and shoots an expansive ache throughout our body. When the world hears of a tragic death, we all feel it as a whole. We feel it as a body of people. For a few moments in time, the masses share a common pain, but rather than meditate on this sorrow, or acknowledging the sudden mass awareness, we begin to chatter.

I’ve read all sorts of posts about the “suicide” of our beloved Robin Williams. Some of them are generous and loving. Others offer information about depression as education to those who do not understand the darkness of a mental illness, and I’ve read a lot of judgmental posts too. “Suicide is never the right thing to do.” “Suicide is wrong, PERIOD.” “Suicide is the devil getting his way…” Another post I read said that the only thing that Robin Williams needed was Jesus. REALLY? Because I had Jesus my whole life, since I was four. I knew Jesus, prayed to Jesus and loved Jesus. Knowing Jesus never stopped me from drinking myself into oblivion, and loving Jesus didn’t stop me from wanting to kill myself several times when I’d lost all hope in my addiction. In fact, I’d woken up so many times after drinking myself to death, furious that I was still alive. I had Jesus. What I didn’t have was self-love or self-respect. 

A lot of fear and condemnation surrounds the act of suicide, but here’s something to think about – there is not one scripture in the Bible that mentions suicide, nor does Jesus ever bring the topic up. “Thou shall not kill” was one of the commandments, but if I recall correctly, Jesus pretty much blasted through those laws and told his disciples that most important of all the commandments is to “love your neighbor as yourself and to love God with all your heart, your mind and your soul.” Let me stop right here (for those of you who are not exactly Christ followers). Again we circle back to self-love.

Suicide is a demonstration of the act of free-will, which we have all graciously been given. Nobody knows for certain where a soul goes after death. Let’s just get this straight. We have beliefs. We do not KNOW anything. If people are ignorant enough to debate heaven and hell, obviously they have no idea that people like Robin Williams (and me) were already in hell. He was desperate to find a way out of hell and that’s why he decided to take his own life. He was (like me) probably tired of being a burden to his family. He was literally a genie wanting out of the bottle. As a whole, we are focused on his act, instead of understanding the bigger picture here.

A few years ago one of my recovery peers lost her best friend to a sudden heart attack. She spoke to someone wise who told her, “There is always a bigger picture playing out.” This angered my friend because at the time, my friend was focused on the tragedy, but as time has gone on, so many beautiful things have occurred as a result of that death. My friend has bonded with his son more than she would have if he were still alive. My friend has always wanted a child of her own, and hasn’t had the opportunity. Because of her friend’s death, and his son needing extra care, she is getting the chance to know what it’s like to love a child unconditionally. There are several other good things that have risen from the ashes of that tragic death. Death may be the end of one person, but with awareness, it can be the birth of many possibilities.

Likewise, there is a bigger picture playing out with the suicide of Robin Williams. Suicide is “never the answer.” So many people say this, but how do they KNOW this for certain?Obviously for him it was. More often than not we only think of ourselves, and when people die, they are dead. The ones who suffer are the ones who are left behind, and none of us like pain, so we say these things because we don’t ever want to feel the kind of pain that suicide leaves behind. I have news for anyone who says this – THAT PERSON WHO COMMITTED SUICIDE, WAS IN THE WORST KIND OF PAIN.  MORE THAN YOU CAN COMPREHEND. What you feel after someone takes their own life is NOTHING compared to the pain and torture that person was in.

After someone dies, GRIEVE. That’s what death brings us no matter how the death is caused. Grief is part of the human experience. Life and death is part of the human experience. “This could have been prevented.” When things could have been prevented, we tend to focus on that, and then we get lost in the tape of our mind playing the “what-if” song. Well, it wasn’t prevented, so now what? Feel the grief. That’s really all we can do in situations like this, but when it is all said and done, we should be open to receiving whatever comes after that death. Death leaves so much room for open-mindedness. It is a lesson about life. It is a time for reflection. There is so much beyond grief that is very beautiful and fulfilling. There is a generous amount of joy that comes up for us when people we admire pass away. I feel it now when I think of Robin Williams, who has been one of my favorite actors since I can remember.

Love. Love comes up when we think of Robin Williams. Adoration, laughter, chills, joy, saddness. All of these things come up for me when I reflect on his life. He was in pain – in so much pain – yet he brought so many people JOY. How is this even possible? As a unevolved human species, we label everything and point fingers and we tend to look at one aspect of situations, rather than have a human experience when things occur. I would ask you today to really begin to FEEL what comes up for you if you are feeling anything at all over this celebrity death. Feel all of it as it arises in your body. Notice all the emotions and be present with them. Let your thoughts, your judgments and your ideas about suicide go. Just be present with yourself and experience all the emotions that enter into your experience. Reflect on what you’re feeling and take time to meditate on the emotions. Now stay with it as it rolls through you. THIS is the bigger picture. This is what we should be doing no matter what occurs in life. It’s called self-awareness, and when we have it, we receive a lot of clarity. When we have it, we are getting to know ourselves a lot better. When we are aware of ourselves, we are learning to love ourselves, and if we learn to love ourselves, we will stop self-destructing.  Self-love naturally extends out into the world.  You cannot love your neighbor as yourself, if you do not love yourself.

We are not taught to experience life this way (from the inside out), which is why so many of us drown out our emotions, or distract ourselves from how we feel to the point of tragedy. When someone dies, we tend to talk rather than feel. Since I’ve began feeling, my life has begun to blossom. It doesn’t matter what I’m feeling – from embarrassment to happiness, each emotion is a like a flower expanding in my body, brilliantly. Feelings do not last eternally. They are ever-changing. I’m learning that life is an internal journey and that the world outside of me gives me opportunities to feel myself from the inside out. Bad things happen in life. They just do. But when we learn to feel, rather than to try to figure out why, we will evolve.

In the East they teach that we all come here in this human form as an actor with several roles to play while we are alive. We are all here reflecting different things to one another. What one person is to me, is someone else to another person. Robin Williams mastered so many roles in his lifetime, except the one where he played himself.  The question is, what did he reflect for you when you watched him do his thing?  What’s coming up for you now?

People are going to come and go throughout our lives, and sometimes when they go it will come as a shock. Experience the shock. Go through the grief. Experience yourself through the roles of others. You are the only one that you are going to be with for the remainder of your life. You only have YOU. So why not spend your life getting acquainted with you? Why not FEEL your way through life, rather than talk about what’s occurring outside of you? I’m doing it now, and it took me from being an unconscious observer, to being a conscious participant while I’m here. I overcame depression because I learned how to live my life from the inside out. I learned how to feel and how to love what I’m feeling rather than drowning it out. I learned that my emotions are more relevant than the situations occurring. People bring stuff up for us emotionally. Rather than point fingers at them, we should honor our emotion and thank them for pointing us back to ourselves.  If you are judging, you are closing yourself off from feeling and that, my friend, is a tragedy.

Thank you, Robin Williams for being a reflection of joy, of love, of adoration, of brilliance. Because of you I’ve gotten to FEEL a lot this week, which reminds me that I’m very much ALIVE. I’m not here to judge your life experience. I’m merely here to experience mine.

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.

Wildflower

wildflower
In the vast field of life
I’ve chosen to be a wildflower
Not a blade of grass
nor an unwanted dandelion
I’ll not be confined in a yard
prided over by man
fertilized, groomed and watered
then heedlessly mowed down
by the same keeper
I bloom freely and upright
Beautiful and bright
I sway in the gentleness of the wind
and keep my face toward the sun

by J. L. Forbes

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.

Awareness + Openness + Acceptance x Unabashed Faith = Abundance

Financial Abudance
Many of us go out and search the world for answers to big questions. I’ve been to many churches, several temples, inside a thousand books, and out in nature seeking some sort of “truth.” Truth is exactly like a firefly in daylight. You may get a glimpse (every now and again) of the notion of truth, but truth is not something you can capture eternally. Truth is perpetually on the move. It’s taunting and playful and wants to be followed. To walk toward the spark of truth is to walk an invisible path of insurmountable light. At some point I realized that truth is an experience, rather than an actual point of knowing.

There are many religions and beliefs, but I no longer subscribe to man’s ideas about life. If you were to ask an ant how he views the world, you would immediately discover (as a human being) that the ant’s perception is incredibly limited. He knows nothing about something greater occurring outside of his colony. When breadcrumbs fall, he gathers them and takes them home. I doubt very seriously the ant ever worries about running out of food. The ant trusts that there is an abundance of food, and even if he doesn’t know what abundance is, the ant still never worries about starvation or death, or anything for that matter because the ant is simply “being.”

In the grand scheme of the universe, human beings are even smaller than an ant. Yes, we have something greater than an insect – we have the ability to conceptualize, philosophize and create, but our perception of life is still very limited, no doubt. We also carry around a lot of fear which limits the way we navigate in our lives. Instead of stepping out into the wide open world and experiencing all that is offered to us, we often play it safe. I’m learning more and more to get up on stage in front of people I do not know, just to sing a song, or to read one of my poems. Before I get up there my mind tells me all kinds of awful things and brings back horrible memories of me messing up in front of a crowd, but then I pretend that this is my last day on Earth (because “now” is all we have) and I get up there and I do my best, and it feels so liberating. Instead of feeding off of the crowd, I began experiencing my own self up there, who goes from completely shy and awkward, to excited and carefree. I stopped limiting myself to what my fears tell me, and I’ve learned to stop comparing myself to others. Self-acceptance has been my biggest challenge over the last three+ years of sobriety. And as I have begun accepting myself, I have become much more accepting of others. In fact, I’m much more interested in other people’s differences – because they obviously have something to teach me about life that I don’t already know.

It is difficult for me to tell people what religion I subscribe to. I grew up Christian, walked a few miles as an Agnostic, dabbled in Buddhism and have discovered myself (without even knowing it) following the path of a Shaman and eventually coming to a very Hindu understanding of life. Regardless of all of my “religious” costume changes, the one thing I have never left behind was my faith in something greater occurring than what I see. Even as a momentary Agnostic, I was still chasing the firefly. Come to find out, “Agnostic” simply means that a person doesn’t claim to know anything ultimately. Being Agnostic is being aware that there is no ultimate answer. So it comes back around to awareness, which is basically a place in which all things are possible. This is a very liberating place to be. This is the dwelling place of abundance. If all things are possible, then nothing is impossible. How cool is that?

The Buddhist understanding of life was interesting to me until I discovered that Buddhists don’t put much weight on desire. In fact, The Buddha pretty much tells us that desire creates suffering. To some extent, this is true, but because I am extremely curious, I don’t just buy into something without exploring it thoroughly. If it were not for human desire, the world would lack creativity. Creativity creates worlds, therefore I believe what The Buddha was saying was that we should learn to make peace with what is – to be in acceptance of all things that we encounter, rather than desiring a different result. Desire can take away from the present moment, which is all there truly is. Like everything in life, we must learn a balance between what is now, and creating the life that is ahead. When a desire suddenly comes to me (as it so often does), I trust now that it’s the universe nudging me forward toward that desire. My decisions right now, are often influenced by that desire. Whatever that desire of mine is, has already been granted you see. It’s merely awaiting my awareness, openness and acceptance. When I follow this unabashed faith of mine – what always follows is abundance. And what I have learned is not to expect things the way my limited mind projects what it thinks it wants. I have learned to be open, and to receive life however it presents itself to me, because, again, my perception is very small. Most of the time, what life offers me (when I am aware, open and accepting) is something much greater than I ever expected.

Right this very second is abundant. Look around you. Find gratitude in the bold taste of coffee, or in the morning sunlight. Be aware of the clothes on your body and the people who offer you a genuine smile. Tune into laughter, feel the skin on the hand that shakes your hand, look deep into the eyes of your lover. Life is now. It’s not ten minutes from now. It’s not when Jesus comes back. It’s not when Obama leaves office. It’s not when your bills are all paid. It’s the purring cat, the chirping birds, the cars driving by. We live in a universe of abundance. You are never apart from that abundance unless you are looking somewhere outside of right now. Somewhere in this illusion of time, we will learn to enjoy the firefly in all it’s movement, rather than wasting this moment trying to capture it.

http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3AJ.%20L.%20Forbes

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