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.

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.

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?!

Turning Chaos Into Harmony


In Jr. High I took a Home Economic class with a very intense teacher.  She was half my size and intimidated the hell out of me.  We made our own dresses which we were supposed to model in front of the school and I ended up sewing the upper arm hole shut so that I couldn’t attach the sleeve, or even slide my hand through.  The teacher fixed it for me by tearing out the thread with a little tool that I cannot recall the name of today.  When we baked muffins, I used two cups of baking powder instead of two tablespoons of baking soda.  This was all occurring while I was impressing my creative writing teacher, along with making lead roles in the skits and plays we performed in drama.  Home Economics and Biology were not my cup of tea, but obviously I excelled in the creative arts.  During this time of my life I became very depressed and withdrawn because I felt lost.  

When I wore my homemade dress in front of my schoolmates, I was happy that all the holes and seams were in the correct places, but the dress itself was a little Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz-ish, minus the pleats, and it was a much more novice version.  I chucked that dress in the garbage after wearing it once.  I didn’t want the reminder of my failure as a seamstress.  In retrospect it was a good experience because it taught me something about myself.  I wasn’t interested in sewing or baking.  To this day, I do not enjoy either of those things, unless I’m eating the cookie dough during the baking process.  In that class, I got a D, which is one notch above failing.  I’m certain my teacher would have given me an F, except that she didn’t want to have to deal with me again the following year. 

The thing that I don’t enjoy about baking and sewing is that it creates a big mess, and I have a difficult time looking past the mess in order to create a masterpiece out of the chaos.  This week as I was moving, I took things really slowly, only moving a carload per day, as not to overwhelm myself.  I do not own a lot of “things” because I don’t like the burden of having them.  If I decide to move to Greece on a whim to write a book in a window overlooking the Mediterranean sea for a year, I don’t want to have to deal with a bunch of “stuff.”  I just want to get on a plane and go.  My daughter, on the other hand, doesn’t get rid of anything.  When I opened the door to her bedroom one afternoon last week, a rush of panic took over my sanity.  That evening I ended up eating a ton of chocolate candy for dinner, and then headed to two AA meetings.  It was just too much for me to take in.

Lucky for me I have a former boyfriend who knows how to place things in boxes without having an emotional breakdown.  The next day I came back to a very clean and organized bedroom.  Everything was taken off the walls and neatly rolled up into boxes.  Toys and books were neatly compiled and I was off the hook.  (Sigh of relief inserted here).  All I had to do was move those boxes into my car and sweep the floor up afterward.  I was a little disturbed at how easily my ex cleaned up the disastrous room.  He did it in one evening.  I’m certain that it would have taken me at least two or three days, and I would have been cramming M&M’s down my throat in the meantime, or chewing through packs and packs and gum just to withhold an impending panic attack. 

The really ironic thing is that the packing for me was way more intensely difficult than the move itself, or the breakup.  I understand that there are greater things awaiting me when I let go of burdensome relationships and hefty rent payments, but it is terrifying for me to clean out a dirty refrigerator.  On another level, I am extremely comfortable organizing my random thoughts into words on a computer screen, and I enjoy the process of putting on a performance in front of an audience, although both of these things are tedious and time consuming endeavors.  I am not a chef, or a very good housekeeper.  If my kids need something sewn, I would rather toss the item of clothing into the garbage can and go shopping for a replacement.  I am actually envious of people like my ex, who know how to focus on one thing at a time rather than overwhelm themselves in the details.  I’m quite the opposite.  I focus on the bigger picture, but get very overwhelmed with the small details during the process of getting there.

So how do I go about my life without feeling incomplete?  I can beat myself up all day long for not being a detail oriented person, or I can accept this about myself and focus on my assets, which is making things happen.  I’m an artist.  I envision end results.  I put things out in the universe and watch them come into fruition.  I don’t get hung up on people, places and things.  I’m good at helping others understand their soul journey.  I definitely understand my own.  I can interpret dreams. As a mom, I’m very accepting of my children.  I am more of a guide than a dictator.  I laugh more than I yell.  Although I’m not the best housekeeper, I certainly know how to make a place feel like a home. Wow, these are all positive things that I can say about myself.  Why do I stand back and beat myself up for what I consider “flaws?”  There has to be people like me in the world, and there has to be those who know how to turn some thread and material into a lovely costume.  Together, our contrasts and differences create a beautiful tapestry throughout the planet.  This is why it is so important to stop comparing yourself to others.  You have a purpose here.  You are a light to others through your dynamic gifts and talents.  Focus on those things and learn to connect with others who compliment you by doing what you are not exactly good at. 

I think it’s incredibly amazing that the world is made up with so many different people who all make up the wholeness of the planet.  We have doctors and teachers, musicians and speakers.  We have givers and helpers, lovers and wise leaders.  No one holds all of these gifts in one package.  We all came here to offer something to the world in order to create a harmonious planet.  Sadly this is not how it exactly works out, but it isn’t up to me to worry about what other people are doing, and what they aren’t doing.  It is up to me to stop beating myself up for not being a good baker, and to focus on my writing instead.  If I have a difficult time packing because it overwhelms me, I should feel confident enough to ask for help from someone who doesn’t find it overwhelming.  If I can’t bake a cake for a party, I should offer another service, like making the invitations.  We are all in this together, and rather than envy the soccer mom who is a dynamic organizer, I should do what I know how to do, which is coaching the team. 

I wrote this today because I’ve been annoyed that I couldn’t clean that room without melting down, when I should be pleased with myself for being brave enough to make an enormous change in my life to benefit my children and my own well-being.  Life is not easy, but it is more difficult when you focus on the negative, instead of seeing the big picture, or realizing your own worth.  I’m not a detail oriented person by nature, but I can write a manuscript no problem.  We all have something that we excel in.  This is where we should place our focus.  This is what we should offer to the world.  Simply do your part.  Then and only then, will we discover harmony in the midst of universal chaos. Like they told us in drama class, “There are no small roles…”

I Walked Through My Anxiety and There I Met Abundance (A Follow Up on What Lies Beneath Anxiety)

Abundance 2

 For the last few months, I have been faced with a decision to either identify with the anxiety coming up for me during a very heart wrenching breakup, along with not having a place to live when my lease is up at the end of August, or to allow this anxiety to be part of my experience without wrapping myself into it.  The fear has haunted me, but my awareness of it has kept it at bay.  During this time I chose to live my life in peace and harmony regardless of the shitty situation occurring, and honestly I have been quite happy.  There have been some days when I’ve felt defeated, but I looked at those moments as gracious opportunities to surrender to what I have no control over.  For five months I have been in a place where I could have been completely broken and miserable, but I made a conscious decision to walk the talk.  I entered the wilderness of myself and began a dialogue with my anxiety.  “Let’s do this, my troubled friend.  Let’s dance together for the time being, and then I’m going to have to let you go, because you’re taking up way too much of my precious life.  I am so ready to move on from you, but you can hang out for as long as you need to.”

Because the relationship with my former boyfriend is so strained and we live together, I have put my well-being (as well as my daughters) ahead of my desire to stay in the home we live in now throughout the summer.  This meant that I was even more under the gun to find a place to live without any money saved.  This cottage house is taking up most of my paycheck.  I realized that I didn’t want to live in tight-budget mode any longer, but instead of straining myself by getting another job, knowing that it would not be in the best interest for my daughter’s and my own well-being, I put it out in the universe that I either needed a bunch of money dumped on me immediately, or I needed to reduce the amount of money that I was spending each month, but more than anything, we needed a nice roof over our heads in this exact area we live in now because my kid needs to continue going to the same schools.  It wouldn’t be fair to uproot her after so much time and energy has been placed into her getting straight A’s and making new friends.  She has been through enough and I trust that when I ask for what I need, that the universe keeps her in mind as well.  I put a lot of pressure on God in this request to take care of us.  I made very specific requests, and then I went on about my life knowing that I would be provided for – ignoring all the fear and doubt that told me that I was going to need to pack up and move back to my hometown because I was failing.

I attend a Sunday night meeting and have the coffee commitment.  I’m there every week and last week, one of the women whom I’ve made acquaintances with stopped me after the meeting and asked if anything was wrong.  Prior to the meeting I had just been in another argument with the ex and I was feeling very defeated.  I told her about my living situation and mentioned that I need to find a place for my daughter and I to live as soon as possible, but it needs to be cheap because I need to pay off debt and save some money.  Part of my own recovery is to get myself out of debt.  The debt weighs on me heavily and I need to be free from it.  She listened and then we went about our business.  She was very caring and I needed this kind of support at that moment, so I was overcome with gratitude and it was relieving to be able to vent a little bit.  Throughout the week, I have been sending out emails for rentals without placing too much of my energy into it, but trusting that when I move forward, the universe is also working for me. 

Thursday I get a call from the woman at the meeting.  She’s so excited because her boyfriend has just given me a lead.  He is a pool cleaner and has been cleaning this elderly woman’s pool for over 20 years.  She has an apartment above her garage and the tenant has just moved out.  She needs someone there to take care of pulling out the garbage cans each week and to check on her once in a while because she lives alone.  She needed me to call her right away because on Saturday (today) she is leaving for six weeks to go to physical therapy in another town.  The house will be empty and she needs someone to water the flowers every other day.  Of course, it all sounded too good to be true, but I made the phone call.  When I spoke with the woman, something clicked.  It simply felt right, and I went over there to meet her on Friday.  Her family was there.  Her son, her daughter-in-law, two friends – it was a full house and everyone was so welcoming.

“Come on in, let my daughter-in-law show you the apartment and then I’m going to give you the garage door opener and let’s see if this is a good fit.”  I checked out the apartment.  It’s a large and accommodating studio with a deck overlooking a massive backyard and the solar heated pool (which we get to use) near hills with trails and in the best neighborhood of the town we live in.  Everything we need is in the apartment.  It’s furnished, and I don’t have much furniture, so this is a major plus.  There is a kitchenette, a stove, a refrigerator, a walk-in closet, a large bathroom and shower, a washer and dryer and a separate entrance.  I get to park in the garage, unlike now where my poor car gets hit with oak tree branches.  It’s quiet and would make the ideal summer home.  I decide that this is a treasure and I’m not going to pass up the offering.  When I go down to chat with the elderly owner, who is so incredibly kind and genuine, she tells me that the rent is less than what she originally quoted over the phone, which includes all utilities and cable.  The last thing that I am worried about is that I have a cat.  “Oh, yes, the cat is welcome,” she graciously says.  “There is a cat door and an acre of fenced backyard.  He will love to roam around here.  It’s a peaceful place to live and I need someone here for the six weeks that I’m gone, but you are more than welcome to live here however long you want.”  Needless to say, we hit it off.  I was given the wifi-code, the garage door opener and lots of smiles. Her family was kind and gracious.  She didn’t ask for a credit check, an application fee, references or any sort of deposit.  The rent is less than a third of what I pay now!  She went only on her intuition and apparently I made the cut.

Need I say more?  I mean, this is nothing short of some kind of cosmic miracle, right?  The most amazing thing is that I’m not even the least bit shocked.  This is what I asked for.  This is what I trusted would occur, and as I went about my life doing the next right thing, everything was manifesting in the background.  For the next several months, I will get to pay off debt, save money, buy some furniture, and take my two children on vacation.  My daughter and I are safe.  We found a temporary home that meets all of our needs and we don’t have to be in a rush to move again.  It’s all sitting pretty right before our eyes… AND THERE’S A POOL, which I didn’t even ask for, but like I said, my daughter’s needs get met when I am looking out for my well-being.  All of this happened so quickly, and the timing was immaculate. If I had been one beat off, none of this would have occurred.  It’s all just so sweet and loving.  I mean, how loving is the universe?  It’s so loving – it simply waits for us to be open to receiving.  We spend so much time with our head down to the ground, digging our heels in and trying to get somewhere, that we miss out on the magic of life that awaits our awareness of it.  I had no doubt.  I walked through my fear.  I faced my ancient anxiety and there I met abundance!



What 39 Years and a Bit of Recovery Has Taught Me About Life


In the book ‘Mutant Message Down Under,’ by Marlo Morgan (one of my favorite stories about an American woman who went on a Walkabout with an Aboriginal tribe), the natives never celebrated their birthdays.  Instead, they celebrated their wisdom, and it was up to each individual to tell the tribe when they had received great wisdom.  I wish this were the case in our culture today, but then again, I might be much older than thirty-nine.  After my life experiences, I might be REALLY up there in dog years!  I’ve lived a couple of lifetimes in this one single lifetime.  It often feels like I am a very old soul.

Today is my physical birthday, and I am elated that I get to spend the last year in my thirties completely sober and enjoying my life.  The last few years have been dynamic and the gratitude continues radiating from within.  But it isn’t so much the age that matters – it’s what I’ve learned.  It’s how I’ve grown and whom I’ve become.  More than anything, I want my life to be a reflection of love, joy and serenity, and though I’m not 100% there, the love has grown very strong within myself – for myself.  Learning to love and accept myself has been the most important lesson I’ve learned, because it eventually gets extended outward.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about life, which have transformed me:

The journey is the destination.

Once I focus on my journey rather than trying to get somewhere, or hoping to achieve something, the fullness of life envelopes me and I am filled with joy.  Each step I take is a moment of excitement.  I no longer focus on the end result because right now is all I have, and right now has everything I need. 

Love has no bounds. 

Most of us say we understand this, but we still judge those who do not demonstrate love in the manner that we do.  The element of love is boundless and limitless.  It does not judge, nor does it care if a person is of another origin or religion, the same sex, or if there is an age gap.  Love is not bound by marriage, or broken by condemnation.  Love goes beyond the measures of the human mind.  It is eternal and can only be understood through the heart.

– Compassion is the thread that unites humanity as one. 

I cannot say this enough.  First practice compassion for yourself, and then extend it out into the world.  This is my greatest lesson of all.  COMPASSION is the key to being set free.  We must stop focusing on trying to get people to change by telling them that they are wrong, and learn to understand the message of Christ and all of the other wise leaders who have come to change the world.  The message is COMPASSION.  That is it.  Simple and profound.

– It is not for me to judge.

Period.  I have such a long way to go.  I have no right to judge another human being, nor do I want that kind of responsibility.

– People judge.  It’s what people do.  So the hell what?  I will not waste my life worrying about what others think.

I live in an affluent county.  I drive an ugly old Saab and barely make ends meet each month, but I came here to thrive and I’m doing what I love most, which is writing.  I don’t own any clothes with fancy labels.  My only Prada bag is a knockoff and I am the only renter on this block.  I have had two failed marriages and I used to be a drunk. I am so incredibly grateful that I can walk out of my house and go on a hike, or drive to the beach in twenty minutes, or smell the redwoods from a block away, that I could care less about what other people think about my crappy car.  Everywhere we go, we will be judged, but this no longer bothers me.  I am so MYSELF and I am exactly where I want to be. I know that I am moving forward – I don’t have to prove this to the world.

– My intuition never leads me wrong

Once I began following my own inner compass, instead of listening to the noise of other people, my life fell exactly into place.  I cannot express enough that we all need to tap into our intuition.  It is the key to living out the existence that we came here to live, and to live life fully, and with purpose.

– There will always be someone prettier, smarter, more cultured and more successful than me.

This is why I no longer compete.  I simply do what I came here to do without worrying about being better, or looking better than someone else.  Competition has taken up so much of my life, way too much energy, and the disappointment of not being the best is so crushing, that I have thankfully given up on all of that, and have graciously learned to simply be myself.  This has deemed to be quite enough.

– All human beings are of equal value.

Enough said.  No one is better than another.  We are all equal.  We are all unique.  We are all enough for our creator.  What society deems as elite, is a terrific illusion.

– What better way to honor my creator, than simply being myself?

We live our lives trying to impress the people around us, but the only thing that matters is that we honor ourselves by simply being who we are.  If you’re an artist – paint.  If you’re a sailor – sail.  If you’re a photographer – take tons of pictures.  Stop trying to keep up with the insanity of our society and do what feels right inside of you.  This is how we honor our creator.

– Once we stop looking for someone to come and save us, we are set free.

I grew up with the belief that life was about suffering, and that the only way I could be set free was to wait around for a savior.  When I transformed my life through recovery, I realized that I was responsible for my own salvation.  Once I understood this and really got it, I began eating healthier, exercising more, being much more responsible for my actions, and honoring myself and all of life.  I am the temple of God.  God is not outside of me.  This is one of the greatest and most humbling understandings I have come to know.  “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one cometh to the father except through me.”  This is a powerful statement of being – not a religious statement of action.  “The Kingdom of Heaven is within.”  By my own understanding, I have come to know that I cannot be present with “God” without entering into the sacred stillness of my own body.

Life goes by fast, make it worthwhile.

I try to live everyday with an understanding that it could be my last.  This way, I am always taking in the beauty surrounding me, the love offered to me and doing my very best.  I am not perfect.  I sometimes fail.  I get up, dust off and move forward without looking back.  Life is too short to be stuck in the past.

Fear is my only enemy.

Life is about acknowledge my fears, facing them and walking through them.  This is the soul’s great journey.

Everyone I encounter is a potential teacher.

It is not the actual person that usually teaches me anything.  It is the emotion that arises when I am in another person’s presence.  We are all reflections of one another.  Whatever emotions arise, is where I place my focus instead of blaming the other person for my personal feelings.  People come into our experience to help us face ourselves.  This is also the journey of the soul.

Each person I meet has gone through something that I have never experienced.

We should walk through life knowing that everyone we encounter knows something about life that we don’t know.  This is one great way to remain humble.

Humility is the shelter that keeps us aligned with who we are.

Once we walk out from this covering, we discover ourselves in our destructive self-will.  Remaining humble is imperative to living a life of greatness.

We are all one.

Each person is a facet of the Creator, but we are all of one consciousness.  This has been proven in quantum physics.  When you harm another person, you are directly harming yourself.  

Being nice is overrated – practice kindness.

Kindness has a ripple effect for the good of all.  Be kind instead of trying to be nice.  It goes a lot further and it is a genuine way to be.

Walk the talk.

Bottom line.

I am not my mind.

This realization set me free.  I am a soul, with a purpose.  My mind is the enemy which wants to destroy me.  To be aware of my thoughts is to be the watcher of my mind.  To be aware of my behaviors is to be set free from them.  This is ultimate self-awareness.  Self-awareness will change the world.

I am not lacking anything.  I am not broken.  I am whole.  I am complete.  There is nothing missing.

Spiritually speaking, we are everything.  Everything we need is within us.  It is our minds that tell us otherwise.

The purpose of my life, is to live my life with purpose.

I spent a great majority of my life trying to figure out what the purpose and meaning was to my life, and of life in general.  Now that I understand that my life is of great value (rather than buying into a belief that I am only one measly person among seven billion), I practice just being myself.  This has had amazing results, but most of all, I am eternally happy. 

“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandi












Let’s Talk About Self-Worth… (Because You’re WORTH It!)


Mantra for today:  My bad behaviors do not make me a bad person.  I am innately good.  What people think of me, does not determine my value.  I am valuable.  What others feel about me does not make me who I am.  I am a diamond in the rough.  I am not perfect.  I know this about myself, but I am growing each day and no one can take away the joy that I discover along my own path.  My past can no longer haunt me because it does not exist.  It is a phantom.  I am allowed to make good choices from here on out, and I will, but if I mess up, I will quickly acknowledge it, dust myself off, and move forward.  Last but not least… my Higher Power only recognizes my soul, which is pure loving energy.  My Higher Power does not judge the human being part of me that is imperfect; therefore, I am no longer judging myself because it is extremely harmful to me.  I deserve love and I shall learn to love myself through the eyes of my Higher Power.

Ten years ago I got a DUI with my baby girl in the car, and was whisked away to jail while she was delivered into foster care. I thought I would die of shame.  If I hated myself before the occurrence (which I did), I thought I deserved to rot in hell afterward.  The guilt, fear and low self-esteem that followed my tragic DUI was enough to make anyone want to head for a bridge, and the bridges were plenty in the Bay Area here. But I didn’t jump (duh).  I made a decision to get through it after my stepdad compassionately told me (behind a thick piece of government glass) that “this too shall pass,” and also because my grandparents still loved me regardless of the incident.  If they loved me, then I must have been worth something, so I weathered the storm and it began with me taking some time to sit alone with myself.  My chastising mind was hateful toward me.  It told me that I was stupid, and that I was nothing more than a drunk.  It told me that I didn’t deserve to be a mom, and that I was a failure of catastrophic proportions.  It told me that I would never overcome this obstacle, and that the world was disgusted by me.  It told me that I was scarred for life, and that no one would ever see me as anything but a fuck up.  I was a fuck up.  Period.

But… NO!  I wasn’t.  I knew this about myself.  There was something more to me; something deeper, something better than my behavior, and this was my opportunity to discover what it was that I always denied in myself.  I somehow saw the light, and knew that my DUI was a direct intervention from my Higher Power; not the end of me.  I was lucky that no one was killed that day, but even if they had been, I would still have to either face my wreckage or fail the remainder of my life by sinking into the depths of self-hatred.  I chose to face the wreckage. 

It began by me walking into my bathroom several times a day and looking at myself directly in the eyes.  The eyes are the window to the soul (they say), therefore, I was going to have a little conversation with the quintessential “me.”  I was going to reunite with myself with positive affirmations until I believed them.  I knew my thoughts were full of shit.  I was on a mission to change the way I thought about myself, and then perhaps my behaviors would follow.

“I LOVE…,” I tried to tell myself in the mirror, but the words were stifled by my own disbelief, so I walked away overcome by uncontrollable tears. 

The next day… deep breath… “I LOVE… Y….”  Tears welling.  I can’t face myself today, but maybe tomorrow.

The following day…. deeper breath… “I LOVE Y..OU!”  My body is overcome with both sadness and joy.  I can finally say it.  I look in the mirror again… “I LOVE YOU.  I LOVE YOU.”  I smile, and then I take a break because this moment is incredibly overwhelming.

Lets fast forward to ten years later here, where I’ve been sober for three years and life is pretty damn amazing… I wake up at 5:30 excited to begin my day. I go straight to the mirror without hesitation.  I look into my beautiful amber eyes and I can’t stop smiling.  I don’t even notice the puffiness of my eyes, the caked mascara, or my messed up hair.  I see past all this now because it isn’t who I am.  Who I am is so much greater than my reflection.  “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, JENNIFER!  You are beautiful.  You are great.  Now get out there and have yourself a terrific day!”

If I were to base my self-worth on my behaviors, I would be buried under a mountain of garbage with no light in sight and no air to breathe.  Why would I do this to myself?  Whenever someone tells me that they are “bad,” they are making a very relevant statement that they see no good in themselves.  Some of us believe that we are forever ruined. This is such a lie we tell ourselves.  You weren’t born with a dark soul. We all are essentially good.  This doesn’t disappear when we make bad choices.  It simply gets forgotten and eventually disregarded if we continue down the dark path, but at any given time in your life, you can return to the goodness that is innately you.  You don’t have to continue self-sabotaging or being destructive.  It’s a matter of looking in the mirror and recognizing something greater in yourself than what you’ve been reflecting in your life.  No one is genuinely “bad.” And you know what else doesn’t make you who you are? Your job, your weight, your height, your sexual preference, your political view, your looks, your smarts or disabilities, how much money you have, what sports you play, who your partner is or isn’t, your lack of hair, or your defects of character…etc. These things may be what people judge you by, but they are absolutely not who you are.

Once you begin the path of recovery (self-love), the people in your life who despise you right now, will either fall off the map because they won’t matter to you, or they will forgive you.  Either way they go, does not reflect who you are.  You are the only one who can love yourself the way you deserve to be loved.  If you can’t love yourself, don’t expect it from others. 

One last thing… For the longest time, I hated my own voice.  I loved singing, but whenever I heard myself sing, I was gravely disappointed with the sound coming out.  I cringed every time I heard my voice, but one day (many years later when I finally liked myself) on a bus (I don’t recall where or when), I began humming.  I hummed a little louder when I realized that I was humming, and then I listened carefully to the sound of my own voice.  Suddenly I realized that I have always had this voice, from the time I was born until now.  It dawned on me that this voice was the only voice that was going to be with me for the remainder of my life, and that I would die with this voice.  It was not an ugly voice.  It did not annoy me any longer.  It was actually a soothing voice, because it was familiar (like home). It was a sacred voice.  It came from inside of me, and I was ME.  So how could this voice of mine disgust me?  It was beautiful, and I accepted it.  I accepted my voice and it made me realize that I was beginning to love myself.  And you know what?  This love I have for myself is greater than any kind of love that would come from another human being.  I don’t only love myself… I freaking adore myself.  I think I’m the SHIT.  Not in an egotistical manner, but in the way that a mother looks at her child’s face and sees perfection.  That’s how I love myself today.

You are just as amazing as I am, but I can only lead you to the water here.  The rest is up to you.

What Are We Waiting For? The Time to Live is NOW.


Inspiration doesn’t always come from a flashing light in my brain, or by an epiphany I’m having about the universe.  More often than not, inspiration comes in the shower when I’m wiping soap off of my face, or during times in the car when there is nothing to talk about.  It comes when I am sitting at my desk at work and uploading a file.  It comes when I’m doing dishes or mowing the lawn.  I used to go climb mountains to find inspiration, and prior to that, I would go to church, but I’m beginning to realize that there is no place more powerful than the next.  If I’m not fully engaged in the way it feels to touch my keyboard and type in the pleasant darkness of a twilight morning while my roommate snores in the next room, what makes me think that writing a book in Greece is going to be any more significant?  There is no Greece, or mountain top, or island in the sand.  There is only me, a tablet screen, an old wooden desk and a cat that won’t stop digging his claws into my legs to get my attention.  There is snoring, meowing and a strange nose coming from the old pipes in this home I rent.  If I’m not inspired by these things, I certainly do not deserve to commence a life beyond this very one I am living now.     

Many of us desire something more than what we have already graciously been given, which is a terrific set up for our suffering.  Two billion people on the planet right now are looking toward the sky, waiting for a savior to come and remove them from their suffering.  Others are waiting for something, but they don’t exactly know what it is, and then there are people like me who spend most of their lives running around California in search of sustainable spirituality, and then when we can’t find it, we look for it at the bottom of a bottle.  We worry about death and what comes after this life, rather than breathe in the heaven that is right now. 

Haven’t you ever touched your cup of coffee and felt the magnificence of the ceramic in the palm of your hand?  Have you ever walked barefoot on a hardwood floor and felt the connection of the earth throughout your entire being?  Have you ever looked in the mirror, or into the brilliant old face of a sea turtle, and seen God?  I have.  I’m learning to see God in all living things, and to touch God in the cup I’m holding.  I’m learning to feel God in the brisk wind, to taste God in the life giving food I eat, and to drink God in the bottled water I buy at Target.  I’m learning to breathe God in each second I’m alive, and to hear God even in the voice of an angry person.  I’ve stopped praying to a far away God, and have begun realizing that the answer to my prayers is not coming tomorrow because tomorrow does not exist.  Everything I ever wanted in my life is available instantly.  I’ve never been apart from it; I was just too blind to see the illumination of life right in front of me.

We want answers.  We want happiness.  We want to be saved, yet we disregard this moment and the next, as if taking out the garbage is insignificant.  It is not.  It is so full of opportunity to explore our five senses, but instead of finding grace in touching, seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, we are thinking about what could happen tomorrow.  It is the demise of the planet; this need to know what’s beyond this very moment, which is so incredibly sacred, yet we are devastatingly blind.  Joy is ever-present.  Each second of life, joy is inviting you to awaken to it, and then it graciously awaits your awareness.  Joy cannot be experienced without your presence, don’t you understand… because God came here to experience joy in the very template of you.  God came here in the template of all living things, so that every aspect of God could be explored in every possible way.  There is no separateness between God and man.  Even the air is full of everything you seek.  It is this very moment that exists, and nothing more, so what the hell are we waiting for?  Explore the magnificent world around you today, and there you will discover that there is absolutely nothing missing, and everything you’ve ever desired is immediately available. Wake up!


Taking Back Responsibility


We can spend years in therapy talking out what went “wrong” in our lives, and we can debate for centuries to come, about the horrific effects of slavery, or mull over the mistakes of the past, but this never solves anything.  I spent a great amount of time getting to the bottom of things, which has its short-term benefits to identifying some of my behaviors, but the overall change I want to make in my life, will never derive from revelation about my past.  I can dig and dig and dig into my past, but this wastes the time I could be building a strong foundation right now.  The past is the past, and I am who I am; the question I ask myself now is… who do I want to be?  Where do I see myself twenty years from now?  Am I going to get there if I figure out the details of my past lives, or spend hours of my time doing regression therapy?  Instead of seeking answers to questions we have about our past, we should be looking for solutions.  I can’t change what someone else did to me, but I can certainly treat others the way I want to be treated.  I can’t erase childhood traumas, but I can absolutely become a stronger person because of them.  I can reach out to other people who suffer in their addictions and show them the way toward freedom, rather than feeding into their victimization.  I don’t think there is a person on the planet who doesn’t suffer at one time or another.  This is what makes us human.  Suffering correlates with spiritual growth, so on some level, it’s incredibly valuable.  It the place where we learn to surrender.

The strongest people I know, have suffered a great deal in their childhood.  Children who struggle with adversities, tend to achieve the greatest of accomplishments.  Those who have disabilities, spread their wings and fly with incredible insight.  Human beings are resilient and brilliant.  We are not limited by our shortcomings.  No, we are empowered by them.  Look at women today, who have spent centuries in suppression.  We don’t dwell in the past; we thrive atop the treacherous mountain that we’ve climbed.  Women are spearheading flourishing industries, and breaking through the stereotypes that have plagued us and kept us indoors for generations.  We aren’t concerned about the past because we are too busy laying the foundation for our future.

The past can define us or it can set us free.  I am so grateful that I was raised with strict religious values, which has set a course for me to question the doctrine and discover a limitless and loving God.  I don’t know who I would be today if I was not challenged by my parents, molded by the church and broken by my addiction.  When it finally occurred to me that I am not a victim, and when I began reading between the lines of my anguish, and seeing opportunities rather than dwelling in the adversities, I rose up on my own two feet and met myself in all my wholeness and vastness.  I am not incomplete, or fractured or broken.  Neither are you.  You’ve simply got to read between the lines and see the challenges as chances to break through the limitations set before you.  Life is so full of opportunities to break through barriers, but we are often blind to this because the barriers seem bigger than we are.  This is such a lie we buy into.

What are my challenges today?  What am I afraid to face?  What fears override my thinking?  These are all opportunities to break free from my limitations.  These are the obstacles set before me so that I have the chance to walk through them and soar high.  We are all gifted with adversity which endorses our growth.  There are no excuses, and no one here is a victim.  We need to stop telling ourselves this, and take responsibility for what happens from here on out.  If we want to live a good life, we need to rise above the challenges and the traumas we experience.  We need to see them as endorsements of our growth, rather than the end of who we are.  Suffering is valuable.  It’s a human condition that reminds us to remain humble and to overcome.  This is the balance we need between the body and the spirit.  It connects us to ourselves.  What a beautiful gift!  So, stop mulling over what hurt you, and begin using it as the tool that sets you free.


Setting Clear Boundaries


How many of us are the type that would offer the shirt off our back if the opportunity presented itself?  At times, I’ve dropped everything for an acquaintance knowing that it probably wouldn’t be reciprocated.  It’s important to me that I’m in a place where I can help other people, but sometimes this goes too far, and it’s easy to lose balance.  What about when people from the past who have hurt us, reach out and want to “start over” in a relationship?  Although I’m open minded and optimistic most of the time, I find my deeply hidden inner skeptic to be pretty right-on when I feel the tug from within to walk away from someone who has not been healthy for me in the past.  Sure, people change, but after what I’ve been through to overcome my own demons, I’m realizing that people don’t change that easily.  If they haven’t been working an honest program, or going through some serious psychotherapy, or taken a sabbatical to India for at least a year (and a half), I seriously doubt they are much different than the last time you met up with them.  To actually transform is a huge deal, and you don’t see this occur very often.  Working the steps of recovery is one of the most efficient ways to transcend old behaviors.  The only other way I’ve seen people change is when they take a physical journey away from the town they grew up in, shed their old skins during scorching dessert walks, overcame their fears in the hollows of forest darkness, climbed to the top of impossible mountains, walked through fire and brimstone, sought after a higher purpose for their life, and discovered themselves along the way.  People don’t change by sitting in front of the TV watching Dr. Phil, going to church on Sundays and reading self-help books.  I swear to God.

I truly believed that because I transformed my life, my relationships were going to get better, but very much on the contrary.  If anything, they became more desolate and somewhat frustrating.  As I’m learning to be less guarded, I’ve also got to know where to draw the lines.  Old relationships that were co-dependent don’t work since I’ve been in recovery, and as I’m becoming more aware of myself and my behaviors, I’m seeing other people’s behaviors in 3D IMAX.  It is no picnic.  Sometimes I want to scream, or run away for good, but my job is to keep myself centered, and to clean up my side of the street in all relationships.  I’m no angel, and people are used to me being a certain way.  I’m sure it’s difficult to accept me in my new skin, which is probably pretty boring and unimpressive.  I’m so over impressing people that it could come off as me being indifferent.  It doesn’t really matter to me because for the first time in my life, I’m feeling good el’ naturale, but I can’t say that I don’t long for really healthy relationships.  So far, my two best relationships are with minors.  My two children are probably the healthiest human beings I know.  They are the only ones who actually “get” me.  They’ve been through the fire right along with me, and they’ve witness the behavior transformation first hand.  When other people think of me as still “messed up,” my two kids are championing me and patting me on the back while bearing proud smiles.  Sometimes they even brag about me to their friends.

It goes without saying that we’ve got to avoid unhealthy relationships, but what about ones that are already set in motion?  What about family?  What if you long to be close to someone who is unavailable emotionally?  This is difficult, but since I’ve accepted the fact that most people don’t transform, I’m learning to accept others “as is.”  Compassion is a beautiful thing, and not judging people is imperative.  I believe everyone I encounter is in my life for a reason; to teach me something, but I am also very careful not to get sucked into any drama.  Like anything else, it’s a balance.  I still have so much to learn, and most of the time, I’m learning it through each one of my relationships.  If I am living a healthy lifestyle, and keeping myself aligned and in-tune, no one has the power to throw me off track.  If I start feeling off-track, it probably isn’t because of another person.  It’s because I stepped off-track myself.  Sometimes people enter our lives to throw us for a loop (spiritually speaking), and this is always a learning experience.  I don’t see anyone as a threat, or purposely malicious.  Self-awareness has taught me to be aware of others, therefore, I don’t have to worry about ulterior motives from others.  If I am aware, I can avoid the traps and simply love the human being for who they are.

This takes a lot of time.  I am nearing three years sober, and for the first couple of years, I avoided a lot of people.  Now I’m stronger, and learning to be more open.  I know what path I’m on, and clear on my personal journey.  When people come alongside me on my path, I welcome them.  I no longer keep the guard up or fear what I’m getting into.  It’s best to remain open and make decisions while in motion.  When I’m clear, people see this and they don’t seem to try to get me to waiver.  I’m no longer trying to change everyone, so this makes my life a lot easier.  The only person I have control over is me, so while having relationships now, I’m learning to allow other people to simply be.

Drop the judgment, load yourself up with compassion, stay present and be aware of any emotion responses you are having; this is key to having a good relationship with yourself.  Once you maintain this, you can extend it out to others.  Know what your feeling while dealing with other people at all times.  Be aware if you are still people pleasing, seeking approval, doing something out of guilt, or falling victim to someone’s power struggle.  If you discover yourself doing any of these things, I suggest staying away from that person until you’ve gotten stronger in yourself.  Sometimes people that bring this out in us, are not the unhealthy ones.  They are simple a mirror reflecting what we need to work on in ourselves.  Once you overcome the need for approval, pleasing others, feeling guilty or being a victim, you will see that the people who brought these things out in you, as wonderful teachers.

In all relationships, the boundaries we set are for our own balance and well-being.  It’s for us to learn how to stand on our own two feet without the need to control, or to be subjected to being controlled.  It’s an important element of recovery, but always know that your emotions are the compass to knowing which boundaries need to be set.  Always be aware of your emotional responses around other people.  This in itself takes a lot of time and practice, but once you master this, you will always know exactly where you stand, and you will be clear on what you need at any given time.  Trust yourself, and give yourself the freedom to explore.  Make mistakes and learn along the way.  Most people are doing their best, and this is important to keep in mind as you navigate in your relationships.