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.

Feeling Overwhelmed? GOOD!

Lion

When life is challenging and I when feel overwhelmed, it tends to shadow my inner spark.  I was looking around yesterday and it felt as if a veil of boredom and dread overcame me.  What has changed?  I asked myself, and then it hit me that my daughter has began school again and the traffic to work and back has been heavier than usual (not to mention the ongoing road construction to and from the office).  The old stale routine of American life is hitting me hard.  I recall my dad driving me to school each morning and how I would fade into my own inner darkness about the imposed and dreadful routine of our lives.  I’m an artist.  There is nothing more frightening to me than a stale and predictable daily routine.  I don’t enjoy that our lives are institutionalized.  I’m so fortunate to have a job where I have a lot of freedom, but the drive there always reminds me that I am still surviving by having a job.  I mean, my soul wants to soar, but in order to pay the bills, I’ve got to do the 9 – 3 thing (thank god it’s only part-time).  To top it off we are getting ready to move again (third time in a year) and my body is clinching up in complete resistance to the thought of having to get settled in, yet, another place.  This one is permanent though, so I can at least relax a little in that knowing.  And the idea of feeling settled and secure is delightful, but getting there feels like I’m scratching my nails along a chalkboard. 

I woke up feeling tense, not present about the loveliness of everything beautiful surrounding me, but heavy with that same old dread.  Deep inside, the joy is there knowing that everything is going to be fine.  I know this.  I feel it, but old thought patterns and fears like to brew.  What is it that I need right now?  I ask myself.  Just some good old fashioned grace, and for things to fall into place with ease is all.  Then I was graciously reminded of my own inner strength and how when I am challenged like this, that this is my chance to tap into that inner lion.  It’s not time to fold or to become depressed.  It’s time to stand up strong and to use all of my strength and courage to move through this heaviness.  We forget how incredibly strong we are.  We miss the whole point of life’s challenges.  I have everything in me to overcome my worries, my fears, my stress.  I am grateful (although hesitant) that I am given the mundane physical realm as a roadmap to tap into the depths of myself.  I have resources beyond what the eyes can see.  Time to bust those out.  Time to roar!  (You have nothing on me, Miss Perry).

Regardless of how I am feeling, I can still practice kindness, give myself to others, be a light and trust that I’m being guided.  I will remain sober (although Xanax is frequenting my thoughts lately).  I am stronger than I realize.  I am an overcomer.  I am headed in the right direction with my life, so I definitely should trust each experience I’m having as a guiding post toward my greatest desires.  We can’t climb mountains without feeling dulled at times, and raw during the climb.  Everything I’m feeling is contributing to my beautiful journey, even if the view is obscured right now.   This mundane path is not eternal.  That’s for certain.  And if it goes on too long, I’ve got wings to fly.  I will utilize those babies if I can’t stand the treading any longer.

I used to try to find a way out of the discomfort, but I’ve learned to flow with it instead.  It’s all here serving a purpose for my greater good.  My well-being is always considered, but there are times when the universe gives us great opportunities to utilize our strength and our courage.  It tests us to see if what we say we want, is what we truly want in life.  It doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  We are loved beyond measure.  We are constantly being guided and protected and reminded that everything is connected.  I don’t need to run anymore.  I simply need to stand strong and trust my experience as a gateway toward my dreams coming true.  I am strong.  I am courageous.  I am aware.  I’m climbing a terrific mountain here.  Perspective, perspective, perspective.  Oh, and… ROAR!!!

 

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?

How About a Little Encouragement… Just for Today!

Encouragment

No matter what you are going through right now, trust that it is an opportunity for growth.  Regard it as a challenge on the vast field of life and know that when you overcome it, there will be victory.  We are not helpless.  We are incredibly brilliant people.  Each and every one of us.  Some of us simply have not tuned into their own inner light.  Many are lost because they do not know their potential, and so many people in the world are chasing temporary pleasures instead of diving into themselves and seeking out the hidden treasure, which is sustainable joy.  Perhaps if you already know how incredibly brilliant you are, you can spend today offering love to others.  Give encouragement where it is due and let your friends and family know how much they mean to you.  Write a letter, send a card, be of service.  We should all be doing more of this, especially when we are feeling down ourselves.  I recall one Valentine’s Day when I didn’t have a valentine.  My mom told me to “be a valentine” to others that day – and it really worked for me.  It lifted my spirits, and it brought me a lot of joy, but more than anything, it was a clue that I already had what I believed I was lacking.  Back then in my early twenties, I had no idea that I was the one I was searching for all along.  My soul doesn’t “need” a mate.  It is whole and filled with love.  When I do meet someone who I want to share my life with, they will merely enhance who I AM.

You are stronger than you know.  This is for certain.  Human beings are incredible creatures.  We are dynamic with powerful minds, eternal souls, and filled with emotions as great as the sea.  When we are in discord with these three parts of ourselves, we feel lost, but when we follow the path that we were destined to walk while we are alive, we discover harmony within.  If you are feeling lost, it isn’t because you’ve strayed in life; it is simply because you’ve strayed from your Self.  I read someone’s post the other day on Facebook that said something about not following the path of God, and how this is “wrong.”  After spending twenty years following God and failing miserably, and trying to stay within the fine margins of “right and wrong,” I understand now that God is not some separate entity from myself.  The only way I can stray from God is if I’ve left myself behind in the wake of my running from who I AM.

Many times in life, we get into relationships that are painful, and we continue trying to make things work with that other person because we “love them.”  I’ve done this a few times in my life.  The truth is, that person is most likely a temporary mirror into yourself to see where you are still looking outside of yourself for wholeness.  When you discover your own wholeness, you will not settle for a painful relationship.  You will wait for the person who comes along and accepts you for exactly who you are without pressuring you into being something more, and who loves you unconditionally.  Continue loving yourself until you get to this place of wholeness.  Too many people settle because they do not understand their worth.

You are beautiful just the way you are, but if you feel otherwise, learn how to take care of yourself and nurture yourself so that you will feel beautiful.  Eat foods that are nutritious.  Take a stroll once a day.  Exercise.  Treat yourself like you would treat someone you actually love.  If you aren’t doing the best for your body, mind and soul, of course you are going to feel bad about yourself.  It is great to love your body, but if it isn’t healthy, then learn to nurture it.  We are responsible for our health, not God – so take responsibility.  Many times people live an unhealthy lifestyle and then expect God (through prayer) to turn that all around.  Isn’t it exciting to know that you have control over your life?  I know when I realized that I was responsible for me, that I became very conscious about my life.  And this makes life very exciting and fulfilling.  Don’t be lazy.  Be set free and walk in your body as if it belongs to YOU.  It DOES!  You CAN have a healthy body by nurturing yourself and by taking responsibility for what you eat and how you live.  This is not out of your control.

You can break free from anything – addiction, bad relationships, and cycles that no longer serve you.  YOU have the power to change your life.  You are limitless.  You are a visionary.  BE everything – you lack NOTHING.  Know this and own it, then go out and share your secret with the world!

 

Cast Your Nets to The Right Side… (Say WHAT)?!

Cast Your Nets

It has been assessed that we are between 50 – 65% water.  Isn’t this interesting considering we appear to be quite full of mass (especially in America – ahem)?  It has also been determined that while a storm creates chaos in the ocean, nothing down below the surface is unsettled.  The fish and mammals are 2000 leagues under the sea having a tea party with Ariel the mermaid and none of them are shaken by the ocean’s fanatic waves.  Have you felt overcome by the callous storms of life, yet experienced yourself genuinely calm?  Or are you one of those types who sways uncontrollably on the surface of life and heeds to the motions of storm?  I used to be the latter – a buoy flopping around the tides of my life, but there came a time when I decided to move deeper into myself.

It amazes me that nature teaches us how to be.  We get so wrapped up in what’s occurring outside of our bodies that we often forget that we have the ability to center ourselves within.  We leave ourselves behind and take on the form of outside situations.  If drama stirs up, some of us sway with it and get snagged in the nets – like unsuspecting fish.  Several years ago when I was learning how to live in “the power of now” I discovered this truth about the water beneath the surface being still no matter what.  I decided then that I would learn to tap into my own inner stillness, but how do you do this?  What is the key to steadying yourself in the deeper part of the waters?

The answer to this was written as a story in the Bible.  This story is taught over and over, but sadly it is taken literally.  The disciples were fishing on the sea of Galilee all night long and caught nothing.  In the wee hours of the morning a figure comes to tell them to cast their nets “to the right side of the boat.”  They obey the voice and to their delight, their nets are completely filled with fish.  What does this have to do with the inner stillness, you may ask.  Well, it goes right along with that other story where the same disciples were freaking out in the boat because of a storm while Jesus was sleeping peacefully.  With one motion of his hand and a voice of affirmation, the waters are immediately calmed. 

When there is a situation occurring that seems out of control, we usually tap into our calculating side and try to figure out a way to solve the problem.  Many people are completely locked into this logical side of themselves.  Most jobs are left-brained conditioned.  Public schools condition the left hemispheres of our brain in order to create a working class society.  If you are stronger on the left side of your brain, you are probably not a creative type.  You are rational, analytical and objective about life.  You probably disregard intuition or the idea of a non-physical dimension of reality.  In other words – what you see is what you get… so deal with it.  Anything else (you might say) is delusional.  You like “reality” and you accept reality without faith.  You like facts, you go along with statistics, and you probably buy into the idea that things are a certain way, so it is no use thinking outside of the box.  The left side of our brain is fear based.  The left side of the brain is the dwelling place of the ego (a.k.a. the devil).

Many of us get trapped inside the box.  We are creatures who succumb to our five senses (touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing…), but what about that “feeling” side?  What about the 65% ourselves that is water (a.k.a. emotion)?  What do you think it means to “cast your nets on the right side?”  Do you think this is really about obedience, or fish.. or do you think there is something to the words “the right side?” 

The right hemisphere of the brain is the least conditioned part of ourselves in this left-brained thinking society, yet it has the potential to see beneath the surface of life.  It is the intuitive part of our being.  It is creative.  It sees the whole, rather than the parts.  It is open to interpretation, rather than convinced.  It is subjective and it thinks “outside the box.”  It is ruled by freedom, rather than fear.  It is the dwelling place of the spirit (a.k.a. God).

When I was learning to tap into the stillness of myself, I shifted from my left-brained thinking self, and moved into the right hemisphere of my being.  I began trusting in something I could not see, and feeling my way through life instead of taking things at their face value.  What I discovered is abundance (fish).  Prior to the abundance, there was desolation in my life.  I was empty.  I grew weary and I had nearly given up, until I understood that I had been living on the surface of my life rather than tapping into the deeper part of my being, where life flows, rather than flings me around on it’s unpredictable waves.  We can all do this.  It is up to you.  Everything is a choice.  No matter what goes on in your experience, you have a choice to fish from the left side of yourself where their are limitations, or to move into the abundance of yourself where life is limitless.  To break it down simply, we can take one scripture from the Bible.  In the eloquent words of Christ, “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.”

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_17?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the%20power%20of%20now%20by%20eckhart%20tolle&sprefix=the+power+of+now%5C%2Caps%2C493

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.

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.

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