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.

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

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

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

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

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

Choose Thoughts Above the Statistics

Thoughts Become Things
Two times this weekend I dreamed that the world was in a state of ultimate desolation. In both dreams the stock market plummeted and people were scrambling to make ends meet. In one dream, it was the same situation, but there was also a drought and people were dying of thirst and from poverty. They were also giving up. In both dreams, I was given the choice to either suffer, or to rise above the belief that I was supposed to suffer. There was a whole community of people who were prospering, and they did not buy into a concept that they were poor or thirsty. In one of the dreams, I had to take a train to exit the land of the suffering, but in both dreams, I felt the pull of the people who suffered and they wanted me to suffer alongside of them. They had no vision for themselves of anything other than what was occurring in the economy. They believed they were what the economy was, and nothing more. Because the economy suffered, they too suffered, but I was fortunate enough to see that people were also prospering. These people knew what was going on in the economy, but they chose to move their thoughts into a higher place, and what they created was the exact opposite of the way things seemed to be. It was difficult for me to get out of my own negative thoughts, but it was simply a choice, and I made the choice to prosper. In the dream with the train, I made the decision to leave the people who thought that they were victims of the economy and of circumstance. The train ride was dizzying and I was quite afraid, but I moved through all of the horror and found myself on the other side where life was abundant and where there was no longer any fear.

Over the last year, I have made the decision to move into thoughts that take me above and beyond what life seems to have in store because of rules, or ideas, or “how things are.” I choose to live in the highest good of my life, rather than buy into a belief that I have to do certain things or “work hard” to have what my heart desires. Instead of buying into an old concept, I have chosen to trust that I am loved beyond measure and that everything I need and want is merely a positive thought (or two) away. In the beginning, I did this only as a test, but when it deemed itself to be true, I could no longer go back to my old ways of thinking and believing. It has become second nature to me, so whenever I want anything now, I simply speak it and allow the path to be opened for me. Often it happens so quickly that I feel like I’m walking upon a cloud. The key is that I need to trust that I deserve to have good things. I deserve good people in my life. I deserve love. I deserve money. I deserve a nice place to live. I deserve the best of everything because I am a child of God and there is nothing that I cannot reach. The only thing that blocks us from receiving, is our own negative thoughts and beliefs.

So many times in my life people have told me that I can’t have certain things because I never went to college or because the statistics are too low for me. Let me shatter your belief in statistics. I am a natural redhead. Natural redheads make up 1 – 2% of the entire population. I am a raging alcoholic who has found recovery. Successful recovery only happens in 3 – 4% of addicts. They say that only 4% of authors make it big. For me, that is a very large percentage and I choose to be one of the 4%. It is a choice, you see. I do not buy into a concept that I am a statistic of failure. When they told me in treatment that only two of us would recover – in that very moment, I chose to be one of the two. Not once did I ever buy into a belief that I would fail, and neither should you.

I don’t care what the news tells us in happening in the world, or how the economy appears to be failing. The more we think that it is, the worse things will become. For those who believe that an apocalypse is coming, you’re bringing one on. For those of you that choose to love, to walk in the light of life rather than in the darkness, you will find that life will open up for you in ways that will blow people out of the water. I have friends tell me that they can’t believe how my life unfolds for me – the statistics are against me, you see. The way “things are” (the rules of life) say that I can’t have the opportunities that are generously given to me. Bullshit. You can have anything you want – you simply need to trust that you deserve the best. I’m still working on some of my own doubts, but when they dissipate, I will be on the next flight around the world! I’m going to see it all. In this lifetime. I’m not afraid to say it and to write it down. It’s going to happen, and sooner than I think.

No matter how bad things appear to be, you must trust that you can rise above them. The physical realm is merely an obstacle course. Get used to jumping over hurdles, and walking through walls. See yourself as a soul who is beyond that which is visible and walk in the light of knowing that you are a child of God. I’m telling you it works. I tested it out for myself for proof. I’m still learning, but the last thing I am doing is buying into a concept that what I see is what I get. I deserve the best, and so do you. Stop telling yourself otherwise. You are not a statistic. You are a soul on a spectacular journey. Take it or leave it, but why would you ever leave it when you can take it all?!

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

Have You Ever Seen a Molting Chicken? We Can Learn a Thing or Two From the Animals

Molting Chicken

The other day at a farmer’s market I saw the most hideous looking duck.  It’s feathers were all bunched up and puffed out around its head and neck.  At first glance, I thought “neglect,” but then looking around at the other well-groomed birds, I realized that the poor old duck was probably just molting.  It’s not a pretty sight, but when those feathers do come in, that bird is going to shine and light up the whole farm. 

When I was younger, I had a few reptiles (snakes and lizards) that shed about once every other month or so.  Their new skin was so vibrant under the old dull skin.  Their eyes were clearer and they became more active right after those heavy layers came off.  As I grow throughout my life, I think of myself as shedding old skins and moving out of the layers of myself that no longer serve me.  I’m outgrowing old behaviors and patterns of thinking.  I’m shedding my ego and walking more and more in the lightness of intuition.  During weeks of restlessness and confusion, I have finally figured out that I’m simply going through that process of spiritual or emotional molting.

You know, we’ve been graciously gifted with nature that teaches us exactly how to be.  Animals literally live in the moment completely trusting their environment and their own instincts.  Animals don’t fear incoming danger before danger lurks.  They are so acutely aware of the moment, that they sense danger as soon as it arrives.  If danger is not there, they do not experience fear.  Fear for animals isn’t an ongoing thing.  If there is nothing to fear, they seem to be pretty content.

Animals also know how to love, and from some videos I’ve seen lately, they certainly understand acceptance.  There is a video (link at bottom) of a kitten and a young barn owl who meet each other in an open field.  I’m talking claws, sharp teeth, a carnivorous beak and talons that could quickly snap a kittens neck in half, but these two creatures find interest in one another and decide to make the most of the situation.  Instead of rip each other apart, they decide to play with one another.  At some point during the video, you realize that they’ve actually become friends, and they totally dig each other.  They harmonize together.  They learn to dance within each others limitations and accept each others differences.  

I get so tired of seeing people on Facebook pointing out what is wrong in the world.  Lets expose everyone’s faults and wrongdoings so that we can prove that we are better than they are.  No, you know what?  If we want to change this world, we should completely stop pointing out other people’s wrongs and begin accepting the differences in other people.  Then we should retract our claws, close our mouths and learn to dance within our own limitations.  We should learn to be interested in how other people fly when we only know how to climb.  We should learn something from one another.  No matter how loud and obnoxious one person is, we should stop judging and start being aware of our own behaviors.  Not one person on this planet has all the answers, and every single person you encounter knows something about life that you have never experienced.  Learn something from each person you encounter, even if it’s simply an emotion that arises within yourself when they are in your presence.  This world is so backward and we are really, really lost.  I’m not surprised that our world is so full of addicts.  I wanted to drown everything out because the negativity was too great to take on, but once I changed my own behaviors, the world began to be a much kinder place.  Like attracts like.  That barn owl and kitten found one another and thought about nothing but play.  There was absolutely no threat between the two of them.  This is how we should learn to be.

In the beginning of the video it looks as if the kitten is trying to attack the owl, and perhaps he was, but the owl didn’t succumb.  The wise owl took the opportunity (knowing she could easily fly away if needed) to befriend the kitten.  Once this was established, the kitten made nice and learned how to enjoy the owl’s company.  This is living in harmony.  This is what we learn to do when we stop resisting the world, and our experiences in our own uncomfortable skin.  If you’re feeling restless this week, let the restlessness move through you.  Be aware of it, but don’t resist it.  Ask yourself what old skin you could be shedding that no longer serves you – because you are growing right now.  You are constantly growing and it can be extremely uncomfortable.  Situations may arise that feel like the world is coming against you.  This is your opportunity to let go of the need to be in charge and succumb to your environment.  

Image

HOW TO LIVE IN HARMONY:  Experience life as it arrives and don’t jump to conclusions.  Be present with whatever is occurring, no matter how disturbing it may be.  I’ve got a lot of shit coming up for me right now, but I’m trusting in the experience.  I am surrendering because most of this stuff is much bigger than me.  I just need to tuck in the talons and learn to fly through it all.  I trust that the world will make nice and offer me exactly what I need even when it appears to be my enemy.  We are of nature, and I say this a lot, but it’s a strong message.  Nature lives in harmony.  It may sometimes look unkind, or ugly, but there is always something greater occurring.  We need to trust in that something greater, rather than getting caught up in snag of the moment.  Shed old feathers and skin.  Let them go without resistance.  If you’re uncomfortable, so what?  Be uncomfortable.  It’s ok.  Life is always offering learning experiences.  It’s up to you if you’re going to be an enemy, or a friend.  I choose the latter. 

Here is a link to that precious video: http://blog.petflow.com/a-cat-pounced-on-an-owl-i-was-ready-for-an-ugly-ending-what-happened-next-is-incredible/#V1VbZrCs2V7wxsTi.01

An Update on What Lies Beneath (Anxiety)

Image

A few weeks ago I blogged about the anxiety I experience and how there must be something beyond it, like a depth of myself that I haven’t yet discovered beneath all the fear.  So these last few weeks I’ve been deliberately moving through the fear, and its been pretty darn interesting.  My anxiety has peaked at times and then subsided; like massive waves of paranoia plummeting down into total stillness.  I’ve been observing it rather than getting caught up in it.  I’m just the person floating along on this shifty raft, allowing the tides to be as they are without disturbing them or freaking out because of heights of my anxiety. 

When I go to bed I give my body permission to release the fear it needs to move through, knowing that it can’t destroy me or anything like that.  We all have traumas that we suppress and many times they come up as nightmares.  My dreams have been vivid and daunting.  I woke up screaming one night and crying uncontrollably another.  I’ve experienced pain in my kidneys which is indicative of a fear blockage.  If you don’t know what it feels to have pain in your kidneys, it’s like having intense lower back pain.  It sometimes throbs, or shoots pain like an electric shock.  Some days I have a difficult time standing up and last week I couldn’t even run, but I didn’t get angry about not being able to run.  It’s just part of the deal right now.  I’m moving through the fear and it does not want to leave my body.  It’s being difficult, like it is scared to leave me because it’s been with me for such a long time.  Having compassion for myself is imperative right now, which means allowing this fear to take its time while I speak to it and give it permission to move on.

Things are coming up for me…. old patterns of thinking, insecurities and visions of losing everything.  My heart races at times and my head spins.  Cold sweats, stress, tears and moments of feeling out of control.  It’s moving through me, but I’m not buying into it.  This is what needs to occur so that I can delve deeper into who I am; what lies beneath this wall of fear I’ve been hiding behind?  It’s exactly like detoxing and clearing out the old energy to bring in the new. 

Image

I always say that what we need comes at the exact right time.  Yesterday my mom and dad gave me a gift for Mother’s Day.  It was a complete bath and body package with salts and lavender, which is great for detoxing and relaxing.  I took a nice long bath last night and imagined the fear releasing into the water.  I imagined it going down into the drain as I dried myself off.  My dreams were a little more harmonic last night, but there was still some residues of fear.  I’m moving through it and not rushing it, but the most important thing is that I’m aware of it. 

I’ve moved through some ugly stuff before – last year at this time it was doubt.  When I moved past all my doubt without buying into it, the world opened up for me and I was able to receive the abundance of a wonderful new job, a dynamic relationship, a lovely little cottage home in a beautiful town followed by a lot of other blessings.  If I would have listened to my doubt I’d still be living in a town that I didn’t feel comfortable in, working ten hours a day in a stuffy corporate office, and probably living in a studio with my twelve year old.  When I move through this anxiety, I expect the universe has something incredible up its cosmic sleeve, and I’m open to receiving whatever it is. 

We’ve got to know where we are headed in life so that the journey is clear.  If I was lost right now, I would be a train wreck through all of this.  I know where I’m headed and I trust that I’m being guided along the way.  This is all pretty cool, and it excites me to know that I’m getting rid of old energy that no longer serves me.  It means that I am growing and getting closer to the person that I came here to be. As I continue to move through the anxiety, I will keep you posted, and thank you to all my readers. I’ve got people from Australia, the UK, Hong Kong and Canada. Blessings to you all!

QUICK… Slap a Label On Yourself Son, Before They Deem You’ve Disappeared!

Image

What if went to a meeting today, raised my hand and said, “Hi, my name is Jennifer and I simply AM?”  What would the people in the room think?  Would there be an awkward silence followed by a few snickers and then some sweat beads mounting on the heads of those who follow the rules of the program without falter? Some people do go in there and state their names without the alcoholic label at the end, and it’s obvious to us that they are newcomers.  Some newbys are uncomfortable with that label, and that’s just fine with me.  I didn’t particularly like it in the beginning either, but then I just succumbed to the program because it works.  However, it’s not who I am, and I think most of us in the rooms know that it’s not who we truly are… or perhaps we don’t.  I mean, have you really thought about this?  Do you walk around kind of shaming yourself (or gloating) for being an addict, an alcoholic, a junkie, a drunk?  I sometimes wonder why we need to keep reminding ourselves of the past.  Why not state that we are “recovering” instead?  Or “I am recovering from…”  This is not only removes the labeling of ourselves, but it affirms that we are in movement.  It declares that we aren’t stuck in time, and we aren’t just that one dreaded thing that separates us from the rest of society.

But we don’t question the program because it’s worked for so many people.  In fact, we don’t question a lot of things.  Once we get on our feet and find our own balance in our recovery, we should really start taking a look at what works for us and what doesn’t.  I’m tired of calling myself “an alcoholic.”  At work I’m a “Transaction Coordinator.”  At home I am a “mom.”  In my own mind I am a runner and a writer, but what if all these things were suddenly removed from me?  What would I be then?  What if I lost the ability to form a sentence from some terrible accident where my children were taken from me?  What if I could no longer work or run because my body was paralyzed?  What would my new labels be then?  I would be looked upon as a paralyzed woman who “used to be…” so many different labels.  But what if I saw myself as whole, and what if I realized that my challenges were set in motion so that I could realize who I truly was without all the labels? 

How do you label yourself?  How do others label you?

It’s a question worth asking because without labels, a lot of us don’t know who we are.  How many people retire from their lifelong careers and discover themselves completely lost?  They spent their lives believing that their career was who they were.  It’s what we do and it isn’t right.  I mean, it’s another form of separating ourselves from others, which is one of the themes I’ve been writing about this week.  We should take it from a master and follow the statement of “I AM,” without a label to follow.  Jesus wasn’t just stating that “HE WAS.”  He was always pointing us back to ourselves, but people who claim themselves to be “sinners” (another label mind you) seek outside of themselves for the truth.  I AM was a statement of being.  It was a gift of knowing… the way, the truth and the life.  (For those of you who know your scripture). If I AM… then the way, the truth and the life is within my own being.  And if no one can go to the father (God) except through “ME,” then I must have to enter into my own being in order to meet my maker. Talk about lost in translation! The road to truth is narrow because it is an internal experience. This is so important to understand, because the other way around is what most people follow and most people (if you’ve noticed) are really lost, though they will disagree with this statement because no one likes feeling lost when they believe they have found the truth.  They would rather be in a state of denial than to look at themselves honestly.  But we all do this.  I constantly have to remind myself to look in the mirror.  I’m blind to myself too, which is why I ask a lot of questions and why I appreciate being challenged by the people in my life who point things out to me, although it kind of sucks in the beginning.  If I hadn’t been challenged by my counsellors and peers in treatment, I would still be suffering today.

It’s important to ask questions even in a program that has worked for a lot of people.  It also hasn’t worked for a lot of people.  That’s why it is imperative to really understand who you truly are, with a knowing that goes beyond a belief.  If everything was suddenly removed from you, you need to know that you could remain sober because you no longer are that alcoholic label, or that addict label.  You are in movement.  You are in recovery.  You are not a stagnant being.  You are always in motion, so I challenge you to stop labeling yourself and to walk in the wholeness and completeness of yourself.  And I’m going to stop announcing that I am an alcoholic in those rooms.  Tonight, I’m Jennifer and I AM in recovery.

 

 

 

 

Observing My Fear Rather Than Identifying With It

Image

As a very young adult, I recall the realization I had about my relationship with fear.  I didn’t actually have a relationship with it; I was bullied by it – trapped in its carnivorous teeth while my own identity was voided by its dark presence in my daily, nervous walk of life.  I breathed fear in and swallowed it like a shot of poison.  I walked fear, talked fear and navigated my life in fear.  I had so many questions about God and the universe, yet I feared stepping out of the bounds of my religion.  When I did step out of bounds, I condemned myself for not being complacent like most people I knew.  Why was I always dissatisfied?  Why couldn’t I just play along in the structured game of life?  I observed my family and friends so content in their daily routine while I writhed in my relentless boredom.  I feared both being bored for the remainder of my life, and following my curiosity.  Like many people, I was trapped.

Had I known back then that my fear was merely a phantom of my own thoughts (which also weren’t real), I may have told the church to fuck off while I gallivanted away on the back of a motorcycle smoking a fat joint with the first guy that came along.  Because I was scared to step out of lines, I actually did this in a very subtle way, but there was no motorcycle (unfortunately).  I could have followed my intuition and peacefully found the answers to my questions, rather than being rebellious and destructive in my attempts to find out the truth, but I was motivated by fear. Instead of doing what I wanted to do in confidence, I slithered around in secret, which caused even more shame along with the fear of getting caught.  All of this piled up on me eventually and I did get caught for being a raging alcoholic, but even when I got myself sober for the first time, fear was my constant companion choking me into believing that life was a series of consequences, so I continued running from the consequences rather than facing the monster in my nightmare of a life.

Breathe.  I now know that my fear is this phantom that tries to take me down so that I don’t follow my path, but this phantom is something I can walk through.  Beyond the phantom fear are the thoughts escorting my fear into my experiences.  I must be aware of these thoughts, which breathe life into the fear.  I’m not my thoughts; nor is my fear for real.  On hikes along the cliffy coast, I sometimes fear falling before I even get to the coast.  If I allow my thoughts to overcome me, I fear plummeting to my death by driving off one of those cliffs, prior to even getting into my car.  I’m not even on the road yet, and my palms are sweating.  This is NOT being present.  This is the antithesis of living in the moment.  Each time I place my fear aside and get into my car, drive, and then hike along the cliffs, I laugh at myself for that ridiculous vision.  Standing at the brink of California with the wind blowing through my hair while the sun is setting and the surf is thundering beneath me is so breathtaking that I can hardly stand there without bursting into flames of gratitude.  If I had bought into my fear, instead of commencing about my day, I would probably be sitting on my couch cooped up in the house watching Netflix rather than taking in life on such an abundant level.  I can say this about so many things in my life.  If I wouldn’t have stepped through my fear of trusting my intuition last year when my fearful mind was telling me that I was crazy for not taking a corporate job, I would certainly not be sitting where I am today with a totally cool part-time job, making twice as much money with tons of time to write, and enjoying my life like never before.  For once in my life, I followed my gut rather than bought into my fear – and WOW! Life without fear is living a dream come true.

I’m still practicing walking through my fear each day which begins with being aware of what I’m thinking about.  I can easily get sucked into thinking about all the things that could go wrong in my life, or I can be present and realize that NOTHING is going wrong right now, so what is there to fear?  And the more I give into my fears, the less I enjoy my life, which unfolds in an incredible way. I understand now that my well-being is always in consideration of the universe.  If I trust in the natural flow of my life, I realize today that no matter what occurs, it is in direct correlation with my spiritual, emotional and mental growth, so I shouldn’t fear it at all.  Fearing things like money not coming in, stops the flow of money coming in.  I should be visualizing money flowing toward me, rather than buying into a fear that I’m short this month.  Each time I stop my destructive thoughts, I’m creating an opening for life to flow toward me, rather than moving against me.

I’ve heard that fear is an arrow pointing me in the right direction.  This doesn’t mean that if I get a creepy feeling about a man, that I should run toward him.  This means that I listen to my intuition.  If my fears are caused by my negative thoughts, then I should be aware of my thoughts and realize that my body does not have to follow their lead.  I’m not my thoughts and my fears are not real.  The inner me, the intuitive me, is what I listen to now.  I’m not perfect at this, but I’m becoming so much more aware of what’s going on in my head and then pulling myself into the moment.  I could be petting my loving cat while thinking about a bill that’s due in a week which I don’t have money for right this second, but when I stop myself from feeding into that thought, I realize how soft the fur is on my kitty, and I enjoy his presence with me right now.  The money will be there because I get paid next week.  What the hell am I worried about?  This cat is purring, the sun is rising, and the coffee brewing smells incredible.  It’s such a waste of my life to think about anything other than what’s going on right this moment, which is never a monster eating my face!

Listen, our thoughts are insane.  I don’t care if you are a monk with your legs crossed on the top of the Himalayas – even you’re thoughts are nuts, my friend, but you’re learning to stop identifying with them.  That’s the key.  That’s what this post is about today.  Your thoughts and fears will always try to sweep you away from following your dreams.  They tell you that you should be thinking them, because otherwise it would be irresponsible (or fantastical) of you to think of something better, or being present when there are bigger fish to fry outside of this moment, but this is a lie.  Being an observer of your thoughts and fears, is becoming the master of yourself where you will discover that your life is unfolding so magnificently before you.  There is nothing to fear because no matter what you experience – when you are present, it cannot truly devour you.  You are not your thoughts.  Your fears are not real.  Now, take that on a motorcycle toward the cliffs of California (or through the mountains of Colorado, or the desert of Nevada… or into the serene land of sobriety) and enjoy your journey while flashing the your middle finger at the fear in the side view mirror… Fuck you, phantom fear!

 

 

 

 

Being “AS IF” When I’m Feeling So-So

Image

Have you ever met someone who always seems to be in a perpetual state of well being?  Or perhaps you knew a friend’s mother who never reflected a bad mood.  What about those rare people who have endless energy while giving to those in need.  They are the true saints of this world; the ones who care more about the needs of others, than they do about the nuances of their emotions.  Others, like myself, tend to wear their emotions like a daily change of clothes.  Why can’t I be like that mother that always had a smile on her face, warmth in her heart, and a chuckle followed by a genuine hug when her child makes a mistake?  I tend to mask my inner stress with sarcasm, rather than being present and thinking of the needs of my loved ones.  Progress

Recently, I recalled a saying we have in recovery which places us in an awareness state of our actions, rather than unconsciously being driven by our emotions, worries or fears.  “Act as if…(fill in the blank)”  Act as if… I’m the kindest person in the world.  Act as if… I’m perpetually filled with joy.  Act as if… I were in a really good mood today.  Act as if… I were not annoyed right now, or as if I were light hearted, or non-controlling.  The thing about this is… it really works.  If you wake up in the morning with an intention to treat others with pure, unadulterated kindness, you will discover yourself much more aware of your behaviors and actions prior to them seeping out.  You will take heed in what you say to others, and stop yourself before you express negativity. 

This goes a long way, and for those of us who are seeking self-awareness, this is like placing yourself under the heat first thing in the morning.  It takes the power away from others, or from circumstance, and reminds me that I am responsible for how I behave.  It reminds me to thoughtfully respond, instead of to blindly react.  It places me back into conscious awareness of myself; and the world with all the people, offer me plenty of opportunity to practice compassion and gentleness, as opposed to retorting.

We have to be reminded of ourselves.  We tend to project our inner anger, stress or fears onto the world, but if we make an agreement with ourselves to be more compassionate, even though we don’t exactly feel compassionate, we are teaching ourselves how to become a genuinely compassionate person.  This isn’t about faking your way through life.  It’s simply about setting a daily intention to practice being a better human being.  In time, I believe, this practice becomes an art form of who we are.  After all, our true nature is kindness, goodness, love and well-being.  It’s a good way to shed the ole’ ego and to become genuine.  It also feels better to offer kindness and laughter rather than sighs and sarcasm. 

I am not writing this just to the reader.  I am here reminding myself of what I need to do today, and how I need to be.  I want to walk along the path of grace, and I long to have power in my life, where I am moving mountains.  Often that mountain is my own ego.  What better way to begin the day than telling my ego to go twiddle its invisible thumbs, while my gentle spirit leads the way?  <Great big smile here.>  If I’m going to talk the talk; I’d better walk the walk…

(Speaking of Ego, I wrote a book all about it and it’s free on Kindle this week.  This is my addiction to recovery memoir.) http://www.amazon.com/DEVILS-ALTAR-Dynamic-Journey-Recovery-ebook/dp/B00FO72854/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397310809&sr=8-1&keywords=the+devil%27s+altar

Learning to Trust Myself

Image

Like many people who have grown up within the walls of religion, I was taught that I should be listening to the voice of God, which was so obscure, while the noise of my mind was loud and clear.  I was taught that Satan was always at my heels trying to get me to do everything wrong.  The thing that was never taught to me, was how my own body has it’s own voice, and my intuition is my inner-compass.  I feel like intuition is rejected in the church (at least the one I grew up in) and that we are taught that God is something outside of ourselves.  If I would have learned to trust my intuition early on in my childhood, rather than going outside of myself for answers, I’m certain that I wouldn’t have been so confused about my life, nor would I have condemned myself for making mistakes along the way.  If you teach a child that bad decisions derive from the devil, how does this translate when the child is learning to navigate in this world as a teenager, or an adult?  Guilt and condemnation shrouded me during the years when I should have been exploring myself and my environment without the fear of going to hell keeping me at bay.  It obviously didn’t work for me.

As a recovering adult, I spent my first year sober… scared of myself.  I think this is common.  When you spend most of your adult life self-destructing, and then you take the drug of choice away, it’s like removing a binky from a child.  There is a lot of fear involved with this, and the free time felt a bit like being blown in the wind without anything to anchor me down.  This is when support meant everything (it still does), and honesty became my constant companion (it still is).  Self-awareness is imperative because if I’m not privy to my own thoughts, how am I supposed to make good decisions?  My greatest desire during this time, was that I learned to trust myself.  If I could merely trust myself, then I was no longer left to fate, or balancing between the voice of God and the demise of the devil.  I discovered for myself in my addiction, that my own body is made up of both fear and freedom.  On a daily basis I have to choose between the two paths.  This understanding of the way things work is much more palatable to me then feeling like a helpless ragdoll sitting between good and evil in the whole scheme of my life.

Finally (nearly three years later) I’m in a place where I can actually hear myself clearly.  It took a lot of effort on my part to discover the difference from my own intuition, and the conditioning of my childhood.  I was my own greatest judge, and learned early on that curiosity was a bad thing.  Exploring myself and trusting in my own curiosity has proven to be a walk on the path of freedom, rather than scooting along in the demise of my own fear.  I ask myself a few questions before I make decisions now… “Will this harm me?  Will this ultimately harm another person?  What are my intentions here?”  If I’m clear on these three things, then I’m free to continue.  This way of maneuvering through my life has been an incredible path of self-discovery and one filled with joy.  I’m even aware if other people are there to bump me off course, teach me something along the way, or if they are along on my journey to learn something from me.  There is nothing more liberating than knowing where I’m standing after so many years of feeling completely lost.

It is easy to become discouraged when difficult things arise or when I’m presented with decisions that may change the course of my life, but the dynamic thing about this is that once I answer the three questions above, I’m free to move about my life in whichever direction I choose, without condemnations hovering over me.  Sometimes the choices presented are not about right or wrong; they are simply different experiences along the same path.  I know this now, so making decisions is no longer so daunting.  Whatever way I choose to go, I’m always supported and guided in some way, shape or form.  There is much less “wrong” and “right” than I ever imagined.  Life is simply a place of learning.  I feel like a child now, exploring the world around me.

We all go through life with fears, expectations, notions and influences.  I think of these things as skins that must be shed in order for us to be liberated in this lifetime.  I’m not afraid to walk through my fears, let go of my expectations, blow the lid off my notions, or disregard the influences of others if they no longer serve a purpose in my life.  If I can move past all this, then I have just discovered myself; the only person who is with me from my first breath until my last breath.  It’s pretty important that I get to know who I am during the course of my life, and that I’m able to trust myself while I’m here. 

We are all capable of letting go and trusting the inner voice of ourselves.  It never leads us wrong, and it sees beyond the five senses of the body.  It has a path it wants to take, and a purpose for being here.  I know this now, and I’m so incredibly grateful that recovery has given me more than I ever imagined.  It has brought me back to myself.

 

The Benefits of Sitting Quietly with Ourselves and… Our Anger

Image

Details make up our conversations, and emotions fuel our responses, but how many of us take the time to actually step outside of the words we speak to feel, or to explore ourselves through the currents of our anger, or the vastness of our happiness?  How many of us have a relationship with ourselves, or love ourselves deeply enough to create space in this busy world to find out what it is we need and what drives us?  A bit of anger came up for me recently and I (of course) reacted (badly).  I was driven by a monster inside of me that wanted to claw its way through the likes of another, but when it did enough damage, it backed down and I was left sitting alone with myself.  Where does this derive from, I have to ask myself. 

Instead of judge the beast who ruled me that day, I sat beside her, figuratively placed an arm around her and allowed her to be part of my experience.  I am not perfect, and although I know a lot about spirituality, I’m not always a “spiritual” person.  I’m human, and I have human behaviors, human responses and human feelings.  This is important for me to accept about myself, otherwise my inner judge will overrule me, and I will not have the space to explore the beast.  It’s been a few weeks and the beast is sitting quietly, but she is still right beside me, simply waiting to be provoked.  She’s pretty full of herself, and her claws are sharp.  I wouldn’t mess with her if I was an outside party, but I’m the only one who has the power to control her, so instead of allowing her to lash out, I’m embracing her and gently reminding her that I’m aware of her presence.  She’s been with me for a very long time and I’m going to finally take the time to face her.

It seems that everyone in my life right now is pointing me to my beast (the anger).  Well, not everyone.  I have two children and a few co-workers who haven’t provoked the beast at all.  It’s like I’m surrounded by both ultimate acceptance and harsh judgments.  I suppose this is an organic reflection of what’s going on within me.  I’m dealing with accepting myself, and judging myself here.  I could reprimand the beast and question her… “What are you still doing here?  I thought I dealt with you?  You don’t belong with me.  You are screwing up my peace… etc,” or I can enter this darkness within myself and realize that it is yearning for exploration.  The ones revealing this beast to me (the provokers) are my greatest advocates (on a soul level).  On a physical level, they don’t even know how important their role is in my life, or perhaps they do… what do I know?

What I do know is that I don’t reject this part of me.  Instead of block her out, pretend she isn’t here, distract myself, or lash out at the people reflecting her to me, I’m asking her questions.  I’m discovering her place in my life.  I’m allowing her presence to overcome me once in a while without reacting.  I’m feeling the hurt that comes up as I allow her to overcome me.  You see, she has more depth than I realize.  She is full of fear and in order to protect herself, she masks herself with fangs and claws.  Beyond this, however, she is merely a vapor of fear that I have never taken the time to face.

This is so deep… tell me about it.  But what I’ve realized in my sobriety, is that having a relationship with myself is so incredibly dynamic and liberating.  If I’m walking around the planet in a state of confusion, or without awareness of myself, then I am setting myself up to self-destruct in the midst of my anger, because this is what I’m accustomed to doing.  We all play a role in each other’s spiritual development, but how many of us sit with ourselves and take the time to acknowledge what everything means on a soul level?  How many of us give ourselves compassion when we are feeling afraid?  Or do we harshly judge ourselves for being completely human?  If you are judging, then you are stifling a beautiful and natural process called healing. 

I’m holding hands with my beast because she is part of me, and I don’t want to reject her anymore.  She obviously has a voice (a pretty loud and sarcastic one at that), and she desires my full attention.  Instead of distract myself from her, I’m regarding her.  It doesn’t matter to me how long she hangs out.  She is a guest in my home right now, and we’re finally getting to know one another.  She is actually pretty harmless when I give her the space to breathe instead of the ignorance of reaction.  She makes me feel extremely uncomfortable at times; agitated and raw.  She irritates me, and makes me feel weary, but if I don’t finally give her my full attention, she is going to have her way with me for the remainder of my life, like a neglected child who raises havoc when least expected. 

I’m angry.  There, I said it.  But this is not who I am.  I run deeper.  The anger is merely a fragment, like a prism of light reflecting something that needs to be recognized in order to be set free.  If it’s fear that I’m harboring, then it’s time I walk through it, and when I’ve finally overcome this fear, I will gladly thank the people in my life who have given me the organic mirror to face this longtime passenger on my journey.