Striving for Wholeness Rather Than Greatness

Be Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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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!!!

 

Embracing the Things We Don’t Like Instead of Rejecting Them Will Liberate Humanity

Garbage

We don’t shun the darkness each evening when the earth rotates and the sun shines on the opposite side of the world.  Darkness serves a purpose and it is part of our daily experience.  We have no choice but to accept this experience.  I don’t think there is anyone travelling back and forth from Fiji each evening trying to keep up with the daylight.  That would be ludicrous.  Death is a part of life.  Darkness shadows light.  Weeds grow among the most tranquil of gardens.  Disease and health exists together on one planet.  If there is a positive charge, the laws of physics tells us that there is also a negative charge balancing everything out.  On this dense physical plain of existence, we cannot separate Yin and Yang, so why do we constantly label everything as “good and bad” and then try to reject the “bad?”  It sounds a lot like chasing the sun to Fiji everyday.  It’s insane.

We think the world has problems because of the choices that people make (freewill), but the problem is so much simpler than this. Freewill is a gift to each and every human being, so to limit people on what they can and cannot do based on our own freewill of an idea, opinion or belief we harbor, creates much more discord than it does any sort of good.  It creates bias, judgment and separation from compassion, or Source (God).  If God is all there is all and there was, and all there will ever be, then where does “evil” even derive from?  Evil is merely man’s illusion of separateness from his/her creator.  It is nothing more than an idea that we are distant from our source.  The more we delve deeper into an idea that we are separate from our creator, the more “evil” we create, but this dark part of our existence is merely part of a bigger whole.  There is truly no separation or “evil vs. good.”  This is just what we experience on a physical level because we have a very limited perception here.  We cannot see the whole. We are constantly trying to make things better by ridding the world of the bad, but this has never worked.  Negative and positive exist together to create a balance.  You cannot separate the whole, or rid the world of one without the other.   

Contrast is needed in order to experience wholeness.  This human experience is a way for the soul to travel “apart” from its source in order to find its way back to its source.  It’s merely a game of hide-n-seek.  It’s our Source’s way of self-discovery – a cosmic scavenger hunt if you will.  The insanity of humanity is that it believes it is fragmented, so we tend to focus on changing the things we don’t like instead of embracing the wholeness of life, which includes both negative and positive as equal polarities.  In my own human experience, when I am embrace my so-called character defects instead of resisting them, they magically morph into my greatest assets.  This is the key to re-discovering our wholeness – first on an individual level, and then on a planetary level.  Realizing our wholeness and operating from a place of compassion will restore harmony.  Resistance is our source of dis-ease and “evil.”  Acceptance and compassion is the key to restoration (recovery), and to heal humanity in its “fallen” state.

For more information, read this incredible book:  http://www.amazon.com/God-I-Am-Tragic-Magic/dp/0646052551/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410186738&sr=1-1&keywords=god+i+am+from+tragic+to+magic

Recognizing Stressful Sitations as a Process for Inner Awareness

woman meditating on rock

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

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

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

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

The Wayshower’s Way

Beacon Light

To shine the truth on others

Truth must shine from me

They’ll listen if the truth

Is what they what they truly seek

 

When the door of truth knocks hard

Deep within their soul

They shall seek out truth in those

Who walk in kindness whole

 

The road to Truth is narrow

And buried deep in script

Very few will find the path

On words they will be tripped

 

Be a beacon light

Not a foghorn loud

Be the stillness standing firm

Rejected are the proud

 

Speak not with condemnation

Emanate with love

See yourself in others

Over them you are not above

 

The thing we come to do on Earth

Is to learn the “I AM” way

Choose fear or choose your freedom

Be confused or learn to play!

 

J. L. Forbes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most People Are a Slave to Something – Are You a Slave to Something?

Slave

When I was growing up in church and playing the piano for our youth group (over fifteen years ago now – MAN I’m getting old), one of my favorite song’s chorus was “Break through the chains, in my life. Tear down the strongholds and the walls.  Deliver me from all bondage and strife.  That I may hear when you call.  I give you my all.”  We sang this over and over, feeling the power in the affirmation to break free from those chains.  At the time I thought of marijuana as my chain because I smoked a lot of it and loved it, and lived a double life because of it.  I probably thought of sex too, as a chain, although I was monogamous with the one boyfriend that became my husband.  I loved him dearly, but felt guilty about the intimacy we shared because we were taught in church that if we were not married, that sex was wrong.  I had no idea at the time that I was a slave to more than just marijuana and sex.  I was a slave to fear, to religion, to other people’s ideas and beliefs.  Bottom line – I was a slave.  I had no sovereignty like I have now.  I didn’t know who I was, which direction I was going, what my purpose for being here was, or my relationship with the surrounding world.  I was completely lost.  ‘Amazing Grace’ was one of my favorite songs at the time too, but when I sang the words (“I once was lost, but now I’m found”) – I was lying.  I was not found.  I was still completely lost.  You see, I was going outside of my own inner light to attach myself to a belief system.  I had no idea that I was part of something greater.

If you are a slave to something, you are probably quite aware of it.  But if you aren’t aware of your dependence on something, how do you find out if you are a slave?  It is really simple… Without it, there will be a grave state of fear in place of that “something.”   If you are afraid to let something go in your life… BINGO! (a.k.a. indication of slavery).

Case and point – I am a fairly spiritual person (really?), and when I first left the rehabilitation center after six months of rigorous treatment, I was challenged by my peers about it.  I was at a place in my recovery then that I was able to look at myself and see myself without debating the people confronting me, or being defensive about my “ways.”  I looked at how I was navigating in the world and realized that I may have been using spirituality as a crutch in order to feel better about reality.  So I willfully let my spiritual side go.  It terrified me to let it go, but I was willing to test the waters without my mask of “spirituality.”  I trusted the process because we were taught to shed our masks in order become whole and firmly rooted.  I walked around Berkeley and went to my two jobs without any thought toward God or the power in my life, or the magic surrounding me.  I simply took on the rawness and mundaneness of the physical world.  It was intense for me, but it taught me something about myself.  You see, I was AFRAID to let that part of myself go.  I was scared to “not be spiritual.”  This was a good indication that I was a slave to my “way of being.” 

For several months I walked in the rawness of reality and it was then that I found my balance.  It was there that I became rooted in who I was (which is exactly where we want to be).  I was not living a personification of joy.  I was not deflecting every situation into a “spiritual lesson.”  Some things in life are just shitty and it’s ok to admit this and to be aware of it.  I was tested and tried in myself.  I felt pulled from the inside out.  I was forced to walk through my fear of boredom and to look at things as they were without insight or philosophy.  It was a time when my repressed emotions came to swallow me whole.  I allowed them to overcome me, and I discovered that I was NOT at peace.  I was not at peace like I believed I was.  This was abundantly clear through my current of my emotions.  So I continued shedding that mask of being a “spiritual person” and simply walked in the world as a human being, which was full of dynamic contrast and incredibly beautiful.  You know what happened?  I woke up.

When I got to a place where I was no longer afraid, is when I knew that I had something solid in my life.  I understood then that I didn’t need the crutch of spirituality.  You see, I became whole in myself.  I understood that I was responsible for my life.  I understood that I was responsible for what thoughts I bought into, and which ones I could toss aside but more than anything, I learned how to feel my way through life.  I saw things for what they were without the rose colored glasses, and felt every emotion that arose from within me, and it was invigorating.  I walked through my fear of letting go – THAT was powerful.  What was on the other side of my fear?  ME.  Just simply me along with my constant river of emotions.  And it is up to me to reach inside myself to discover that inner light.  I had it all along.  I didn’t need to cloak myself in spirituality.  I simply learned to center myself from the inside out, which a spiritually balanced way of being. The human experience accompanies our soul journey. There really is no separation.  When I talk of spiritual things now, and share my insights, it is because I am truly experienced in my walk of faith.  I am solid.  I share with a genuine knowing instead of sharing a belief. 

If you have something in your life that scares the shit out of you to relinquish, then it is a clear indication that you are a slave to that something.  Do yourself a favor and let it go.  Walk away from it.  Put it down.  Recondition yourself to live without it.  Step out in faith.  Be courageous.  Be sovereign.  Be set free from that bondage.  If it is a belief – challenge and test the belief until it becomes a knowing. And in the words of one of my favorite church songs, “Break through the chains in my life.  Tear down the strongholds and the walls…”  Hallelujah – AMEN!