What Begins with WHY and Ends with YOU?

Quick fix

In high school, I recall wanting to lose a bunch of weight quickly, but a doctor told me I would have to eat right and exercise for the best results.  I was angry with the doctor because I wanted a pill to do all the work for me.  Eventually, ephedra was hot on the market, and there I had my quick fix.  I lost the 40 extra pounds I’d been carrying most of my life, and while I took the pills, I remained quite thin.  The worst part about it was that I could eat like a pig and not gain a pound, so I developed terrible eating habits while using ephedra.  Eventually the FDA took the pills off the market because there were a few reported deaths due to heart attacks.  I was more than willing to put my life on the line to take those pills and remain a size four, but I would either have to accept my natural size ten, or figure out a way to keep the weight off organically.  There is nothing on the shelves that will melt the pounds away and keep them off.  Eating right and exercise is the only sustaining answer, so I had to change my mindset.

This last year, after three years of recovery, I have slowly lost weight that I gained while drinking.  It has taken me six months to lose ten pounds.  That sound dreadful, I know, but at least the habit of eating right and a daily exercise routine is something I have been able to maintain, not to mention that my self-esteem has increased, because doing the hard work has made me feel good about myself.  If I can’t look in the mirror and accept myself for what I am right now, then there is a lot more work to do simply than a diet.  More than anything, I want to be healthy, feel good and live a long life.  If it takes me three more years to lose another ten or fifteen pounds, I’ve got the patience now.  I know it will stay off because I’m not using a quick fix, and I fundamentally feel good about myself for once.

This morning I read an article about a vaccine for heroin addiction – a pharmaceutical that will block the cravings.  This is another one of America’s short term answers to a fundamental problem in the culture.  This drug could literally increase the usage of heroin.  I mean, my old addict thinking is like, “Cool.  Now I can try heroin because if I get addicted, I can go to the doctor to stop the cravings…”   (Yeah, that’s how sick I am on an addict level).  There are no sustaing quick fixes in life.  As pioneers, we Americans are also incredibly backwards.  We work ourselves to the bone to maintain a standard of living, and then drug ourselves into zombies in order to maintain that standard of living.  None of it is fulfilling, and there is way too much pressure in our society.  We’ve got to turn this around on a fundamental level.

When I was twenty-seven, I already had been married for six years, birthed two children, and maintained a stressful career for nine years.  I got the children ready in the morning, did all the laundry, kept my house in tip top shape, cooked dinner most of the time, and cleaned up afterward.  I was doing what I thought was “normal,” but I was miserable.  I got through it with ephedra and alcohol.  We all know how that ended.  My husband was fighting his own demons at the time, trying to contort his natural way of being, into a standard American husband model.  We both failed greatly.  I don’t know how most people do it without going insane, especially if they are doing it sober.  All of that keeping up with the Jones’ nonsense, felt like I was twisting my soul inside out and then flushing it down the toilet.  To make things worse, some people made this lifestyle look incredibly easy, and the pressure from outside people, was terrifically constricting.  I didn’t know anything about what I wanted in life, yet I was molding myself into something completely opposite of who I truly was.  I’m an explorer, not a homebody.  I’m creative, not regiment, like my career required of me.  I’m also not keen on committed relationships.  I cried a lot back then.

It takes a lot of courage to discover yourself, and all your defaults of character on a fundamental level, but some of us don’t have a choice.  For some reason (perhaps a deal I made with the gods before I was born), I couldn’t ever drink myself to death, so the only solution for me was to figure out how to live my life sober without being completely miserable.  Nearly four years later, here I am sober and happy.  My lifestyle is nowhere near what it was in my twenties.  It certainly doesn’t live up to the American standards, but I am fulfilled.  I took the time to find out who I was.  I explored myself and the world around me enough to know that I’ve got dreams, and hopes and yearnings.  To ignore those, is futile for me.  I have nightmares of people telling me, “You have a calling to be a pianist in a church…” blah blah blah.  (You might as well stick a needle in my arm and call it a day).  God, the last thing I need is people deciding what’s best for me, yet that’s what I did until my late twenties.  Thank the gods for my rebellious nature.  It eventually did me a world of good.

I truly believe that there are people who have naturally addictive personalities, just like there are those who are naturally hyper.  I call that “excess energy.”  It simply needs to be channeled.  Put an addict to work on something they love, and you will see passion.  That extra energy simply needs to be focused.  Most people who have an addictive personality, are incredibly ingenuitive.  You can’t put a bird in a cage and expect it to forget about flying.  I hate seeing birds in cages.  It’s awful.  It reminds me of a creative mind being forced to learn algebra.  (Kill me now…)

There is no quick fix to a fundamental problem.  We need to teach our children how to channel their creative energy into what they’re passionate about.  If they are drawn to horses, we shouldn’t direct them toward tap dancing just because that’s our dream.  If another family has all their children in sports and your child doesn’t like sports, don’t force them to be in sports.  It’s a dangerous thing we’re doing by keeping up with the Jones.’  If you hate working nine-to-five, find a way to make a living more creatively.  The good thing about America is that we have a lot of choices.  We shouldn’t settle, and we should never stop exploring.  It is not human nature to be stagnant.

I feel like there are many people who are fundamentally unhappy, and rather than taking the time to explore ourselves, we quick fix it.  Many people don’t have a drug or alcohol problem, but they eat to fill a void.  This is so common.  Other people are chronic relationship chasers.  Listen, we all have an inner void.  It’s there for a reason.  Explore the void, rather than trying to fill it.  It takes less time to enter into that void than it does to fill the void.  You can never fill the void because it isn’t a void at all.  It’s your inner-self needing your full attention, and it gets louder and louder until you acquaint yourself with it.  We need to learn to sit quietly with ourselves, and to be uncomfortable once in a while without trying to numb the discomfort.  We all have traumas and pains and sorrows.  They are there to assist us in our spiritual development, but if we ignore them or numb them, then we end up even more miserable for a longer period of time.

Self-love is the answer to this backwards thinking society, but not on a topical level.  We need to go deep.  It doesn’t take as long as we fear, and the journey is incredible.  The bottom line is that if you’re unhappy, you can turn it around, but you need to do the work.  Admitting it is the first step.  If you can do that, then you’re already brave.  You also need to be courageous and willing.  And if you can’t muster the courage up, think about the end of your life and reflect on what it’s going to feel like if you didn’t make an effort.  If you spend your life trying to impress other people, how is that going to add up in the end?  It’s not worth it.  We are responsible for what we do, who we hang out with, how we feel and where we are headed.  There is no one or nothing that can pump you full of self-esteem.  It takes work, and time, but it’s worth it because the journey is truly fulfilling.  Along the way you realize what you’ve been missing all along, which is incredibly profound.  I won’t give it away, but it begins with Y and ends with U!

Living in Blind Faith is the Best High You’ll Ever Have

Miracle

You never know what is just around the corner, or down the street, or who is standing right beside you in a grocery store. That person may be your next best friend, or a mentor that you’ve been waiting for all along. You never know what beauty will transpire after a week of heavy sorrow. Keep tuning in, turning on, and heed to the calling of your soul. Don’t give up before the miracle happens, my friend, but the miracle is not some promise of greater things to come. The miracle is that you have a choice to open yourself up to the moment. This moment could happen to be the one that changes the course of your life, or it could be the one that you didn’t seize because it didn’t appear any different than the last moment. The miracle is always YOU; the brilliant observer of the world. The feeler, hearer, the toucher, the doer, the being that is having a human experience. You have the keys in your very hand to live a life of grace, or an existence of friction. You can live open and willing, or you can completely shut down. You have options to either hold on to the past, or to release that old heavy anchor and be set free in this moment, which is a gift of greater things to come, but you have to choose that. You have to say, “I know that there are greater things to come. I trust that there are greater things to come, so I’m going to keep moving forward and be open to greater things to come.”

A year and a half ago, I had a huge life decision to make for myself and my children. There was absolutely no laid out path for me, yet my soul was kicking and screaming to move across the Bay where I felt like I was supposed to be. I had no money, no car, and no job there. In the words of most people, “Keep dreaming, lady. That’s impossible” was running through my head, but for the first time in my life, I decided not to listen. Instead, I heeded to the calling of my soul. On weekends, I asked my boyfriend to drive me across the Bay so that I could feel if it was right for me to be there. It not only felt right, but we ran into a coworker of his who looked into my eyes and said, “Follow your spirit.” Another weekend we were there, a Realtor happened to mention that she was originally from the East Bay (where I was), and she had no business moving to the North Bay, but she moved her family here simply because it felt right. She told me it was the best move she ever made. BAM. I didn’t have to think twice after running into those women. I began doing what I had to do in order to make it happen.

Within months I acquired a job, found a place to live and moved my faith-filled ass across the Bay. Things have been ok. I’m pretty happy here, but I’ve also been floundering about what to do next. I write books that pretty much flow from my fingers, put them out there, and not much happens. I have no urges to do anything but write, so I continue writing, and waiting, and trusting that something is going to come of it, but I’ll be honest – it’s been a very lonely path. It’s desolate and scary, and often I feel like all I’ve done for myself and my children is create an even more difficult existence for all of us. We don’t have things like other people have. We don’t go on expensive vacations and we certainly don’t have the means to buy a home here, which is about a million dollars or more.  Things go through my head all the time, like – You’re a failure. You have no talent. You should have gone to college because you’re always going to struggle. Your children are going to struggle right along with you and you made a bad decision to try to move into an affluent area. You’ll never be like those people because you don’t have what they have. They have spouses with solid jobs, and greater educations. They know big people. You know nobody. They have trust funds and you have debt. You’ll always be stuck, so don’t delude yourself to think that there is something greater to come. Blah blah blah.

Sometimes I buy into that garbage, and decide that I can live with this kind of failure because at least I’m living in a beautiful area and my daughter is getting a great education, and there are plenty of opportunities for my son. My children are completely safe when they walk around town, and people here are friendly. For that, I am grateful. But my soul is not one to settle. She is a little tigress who knows better. She doesn’t cave in and shut down and listen to the nonsense in my head. She says, “Keep going. Continue writing. Ask for help. Tune in to the signs around you. Turn on to the possibilities.” Sometimes she drags me along by a thread and makes me get out of bed when I want to hide away under the covers. “Go on a walk,” she tells me. I listen because she’s always right.

“Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle happens.” But the miracle is not some grandiose thing that comes out of nothing, though it often will. The miracle is the knowing in your heart – the calling of your soul. It’s when you only have a clue and you take a leap because you trust. That’s all YOU. That’s the miracle. The fact that you have an inner guidance system leading you to the right people at the right time, that tells you to keep moving forward. For me it simply says, “Continue writing.” I have nothing to go on but that little voice inside of me that always says, “Continue writing. Don’t stop. Just keep doing it.” I get frustrated often, and I feel like a fool. But a fool can also be brilliant, because she has nothing to go on, yet great things show up for her. She is that open, you see.

The other day I went on another one of my gut urges – you know – the old tigress soul was telling me to do something different, so I did. I didn’t expect much out of it, but I got a phone call. Probably the greatest phone call of my life, although the Oprah show did call me once, but it wasn’t to talk about my books (because I didn’t have any then). It was of a tragic nature. I met Oprah, and sat with her, and informed the world that I was a drunk. That was fun. (Not really). But this phone call last night happened to turn things around for me. It was the one that I’ve been waiting for all along, yet I had no idea that it would ever happen. My own imagination couldn’t have come up with such an ideal offering. Without getting into details, I finally have what I’ve been asking for all along: Direction, a Mentor, support for my books, and an opportunity to get them out there. BAM! One email and the door is wide open for me. Not only did I get direction, a mentor, support for my books, and an opportunity to get them out there, but it all came in one package, through one person who knows everyone. One compassionate soul who wants to help, for no other reason than he heeds to the calling of his soul. The greatest thing is, he is in recovery, and I had no idea about that when I sent that email.  

You never know what is just around the corner, or what this very moment has to offer, but you don’t ever give up. You keep moving forward. You continue doing what you’re doing and trusting that there are greater things to come. You speak aloud what you require to get you through hard times. You ask for help. You do not cave into your fears. You don’t allow doubt to steer you wrong. You listen to your spirit, because she knows something that you don’t know. She knows you’re a miracle right now and she wants to show you something beyond the right now.

Living a faith-filled life is better than any high I’ve ever had in the past.  It’s filled with wonder, grace, surprise, adrenaline, and simple beauty.  It’s scary, and often confusing if you’re not letting go along the way.  It’s magical and fulfilling.  I don’t have what a lot of people have, yet somehow I have more, because I trust that there are greater things to come.  I am not stuck.  I am limitless, and free, and open.  I didn’t quit five minutes before the miracle happened, and guess what?  There is absolutely no stopping me now… BAM!

http://www.amazon.com/J.L.-Forbes/e/B00HS980ZI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1420729757&sr=8-1

Encouragement for Transformation in the New Year

Trans

And we do not know what we are looking for,

Until we come again to our beginning… 

Robert Lax from Circus of the Sun

There is something significant about feeling lost once in a while. For me, it’s a reminder that I have no control over anything, which is good because when I try to be in control, I’m bound to make a terrific mess. This new year, there was a lot on my mind, and a discomfort that I can only describe as slow inner torture, overcame me to the point that I had to sit unnervingly with it. There the terror emerged, flopped around inside my gut, agitated me to the point of tears, and then gave me insight that wouldn’t have come if I would have carelessly numbed it out with a drink. While I sat with the discomfort, I thought the suffering would never cease, and this was the point at which my fear took over and told me that it was necessary to drink, because there was no other way out of my misery. Thank the gods for that vivid tape I play in my mind of my old self, who used to heed to that mocking fear. She ended up in even worse misery than where she began in the first place. There is no way out of misery except to embrace it. In the words of the beloved poet and sage, Rumi, “The cure to pain is the pain.” Yes, it is true.

Today, doctors will give you something to numb the anxiety, which may seem like a perfect answer in the middle of an emotional crisis, but as a person in recovery I have to ask myself if this is the way to go. From a spiritual perspective, life is not always comfortable, especially when inner growth is occurring. The problem doesn’t lie in the discomfort itself, but in the resistance of it. We are a fast food thinking society, conditioned to eclipse our pains and moods with pills, rather than learning a very natural process called healing. What a concept – to heal, rather than to anesthetize our inner conflict. But during the conflict, it is almost impossible to conceive that this is simply a spiritual rebirth, which is terribly confusing and constricting. It takes a great amount of faith and courage to accept the agony, but it is necessary if we are truly in recovery. During these times you just have to know that your soul wants to play its role here, and if it’s not able to emerge, it’s going to make things very uncomfortable. I have to constantly ask myself if I am in my natural state of “being,” or if I’m being bounced around by outside conditions. I am very sensitive, so I must be careful with moving too quickly in the world, or becoming stagnant. Either one of these things will send me into an emotional spiral. I am certain most of you in recovery can relate to me here. We need to keep aware of ourselves, so that we don’t lose ourselves during times of spiritual development.

I got through the agony because I surrendered to it, but it wasn’t easy, and I also know that it won’t be the last time I go through this sort of spiritual discomfort. It’s a good practice to journal during moments like these, so that we can refer to something when we experience it again. We tend to forget that life has its ups and downs and spirals. It is ever-changing and so are we. Becoming spiritually aware and emotionally mature is a bitter process, but it doesn’t last forever. The last thing we should do is numb it out. We should always ask for help when we need it, which I did. I had to lean on friends this last month, more so than I have to in a long time. Today I’m feeling anew after weeks (or probably months) of discomfort. It was worth it to not take a drink. I’m so glad I didn’t, but man, the old alcoholic self really wanted one. What have I learned from this process? That I really need to let go of all the things I want, and trust that there is a guidance system in place for my life while I am here. My soul wants to emerge and shine and play its role here. I do not have a clue as to what that role is. I really don’t, but I know that when I let go of trying to figure things out, clarity comes rushing in, whether it’s through dreams, or from the mouths of my friends. I get to experience the magic of simply surrendering and saying, “Damn, I have no control, and I’m letting go now. I’m giving the universe the reigns of my life because I know from past experience that I will be nurtured, guided and protected during this process. The discomfort is temporary.”

Do what you have to do to nurture yourself when life is difficult. It’s important that you stop everything and just ask yourself what you need, rather than extending yourself even more. I finally did this, and after one day, I feel myself centered again. By simply taking time to honor my own being, I received clarity and balance. I should have done this sooner. The other thing is when you feel lost in the world, or misplaced, don’t try to figure things out. Just surrender. When I did this, some interesting people came into my experience whom I wouldn’t have expected. Two of them told me the same exact thing on the same day. “You need to be your own best friend.” They said this when I told them that I feel like I’m lacking any mentors or support, or guidance in my life. “Be your own best friend.” What a concept. The third person who came into my experience was a comedian and motivational speaker, Michael Pritchard. He spoke at our office meeting yesterday. I rarely go to these meetings, but it’s the beginning of a new year, and I heard he was good. He spoke of happiness and how to collaborate with people, rather than to compete with them. He works with children and inspires them to live from their hearts. While I sat there listening to him, I realized that he’s doing exactly what I want to do. I had been wondering what I wanted to do. Now I know. It’s very clear. He works in my county, so the first thing I did was email his foundation and find out how I can volunteer. There are always signs pointing us in the right direction. You simply have to be aware, open, and willing. Sometimes you’ve got to get out there and talk to people, and ask for help along the way. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, it’s imperative.

So in a very short amount of time I went from floundering, to feeling centered. That’s a huge shift. It was a very transformational new year for me, although it wasn’t anything that I would have planned for myself. It would have been easy to cave and give up. That’s for sure, but I kept thinking about people in life who have it worse, and those who never give up.

Never give up. Continue moving forward. Find a reason to get out of bed, even it is simply to feed your cat. Sometimes you have to push yourself a little bit, or a lot, and most of the time, you need to be your own best friend, your own support, your own motivation, and your own nurturer. If you do this for yourself, the world will follow suite.

My New Year resolution is simply to let go, and also to try new things, meet new people and volunteer somewhere. Sometimes you have to give what you don’t feel you have in order to receive what you need. Life is cyclical. Once you give, you open yourself up to receiving. Usually all we are ever looking for when we feel lost, is ourselves. So if you feel lost, or out of control, don’t go numbing it out with a drink, or distracting yourself through another human being. Simply let go and know that the universe surrounding will return you to center, if only you listen and watch for the arrows pointing you toward the right direction. In time you will see that the arrow is pointing right at you. With love for the New Year – J. L. Forbes

http://www.amazon.com/J.-L.-Forbes/e/B00HS980ZI

Embracing Your Quirks Along with Your Qualities

We all have sides to ourselves that we don’t like.  I don’t want to know or admit that I can be moody, or argumentative.  I want to believe that I am incredibly balanced, super zen, and supremely centered.  The truth is, I can be those things, but I also deal with bouts of anxiety followed by terrible panic attacks.  I grow restless sometimes.  I get irritable.  I still have moments where anger comes up for me, and there is a dark side of myself that doesn’t rear its head often, but it’s undoubtedly there.  I’m human, you know?  And we all are, so rather than trying to rid ourselves of the parts of ourselves that we don’t exactly like, or trying to pretend that we are all that, we should be willing to accept our quirks and learn how to look at them without judgment.

Without judgment?  Yes, without judgment.  There are so many parts of myself that I wish I could change, and I’m constantly working on myself, but I still mess up in life and say the wrong things to people, or get trapped in gossip sessions.  I am not consistently serene.   Every day has its challenges – and people, places and things often pull me in ways and bring out dark parts of myself that I didn’t even know still existed.  I surprise myself at how balanced I can be in certain settings, and also how unglued I can become in other situations, but there is no need for alarm.  If we begin accepting the stuff we don’t like about ourselves, we learn to laugh, rather than scorn ourselves for those things.  Laughter can alleviate the negativity, and it will transform a heavy situation into something more palatable.  Life is life.  It’s difficult.  On top of all of life’s unpredictable nuances, we have moods and stresses that push and prod us, often without our permission.  It’s ok that we are quirky and moody and sometimes unfiltered.  I think the best thing we can do is be self-aware and when we feel like we’ve made a mistake, or when we overstep our boundaries, we simply need to take a step back, re-evaluate and take responsibility.

I think the most difficult situations are when we screw up and we take responsibility, yet another person is affected and does not accept our apology.  When someone else judges us for our quirks, or for our mistakes, it makes it difficult not to judge ourselves, but we still need to learn to let go of what other people are harboring about us.  Most of us are doing our best, and sometimes we are caught off-guard in life.  If this affects someone else and you’ve said your apologies to no avail, then the only thing you can do is let go and move on, and allow that person to have their experience, or to cut you off if that’s what they choose to do.  Beating yourself up never does anyone any good.  Life is way too short to spin out about things you cannot change.  Take responsibility, learn from your mistakes, trust that you are unconditionally loved and always being guided.  Let go.  It’s ok.  Life goes on and you’re allowed to make mistakes here.  Earth is a playground of learning experiences.

I read this cute thing online the other day that some people call taking one step forward and two steps back, a “setback,” while some of us call that a “cha-cha.”  I really liked that.  It’s true.  As a recovering alcoholic, I have overcome challenges that I thought I would never overcome in this lifetime, but once in a while that old addict returns out of nowhere and wreaks havoc within me.  I cannot help this.  It’s just part of who I am as a person in recovery.  I am certain that I will deal with this for the remainder of my life, and when it comes up, I have to sit with it and talk about it and stare it in the face, but I can no longer judge it, because it is part of my own humanness.  The one thing I know is that I have beat it before.  I have moved through the cravings and the restlessness and the negative thoughts with flying colors, so when these things arise, I know there is light on the other side.  I don’t hate myself because of my challenges.  I learn to cha-cha with them without resistance.  It’s a fun little dance, you see?  It’s good when these things come up for me because it’s a reminder that I have come a long way, but I still have a long way to go.  I certainly do not want to go backward, but I am in no way, shape or form at a point of arrival.  We just keep moving forward and picking ourselves up when we fall, and laughing at ourselves for being so human.  Life is not asking you to be perfect.  It’s simply asking for your participation.

Don’t dwell on the negative stuff about yourself.  Just let it be there and observe it, and know that it’s something you can work on, but don’t ever buy into an idea that you’re less-than or not worthy.  Have compassion for yourself and move forward, regardless of how other people judge you.  We all here doing this thing called life, which is not in the least bit easy.  The challenges are set before us for our personal growth.  It doesn’t matter what other people think.  What matters is that you continue moving forward and taking responsibility and trying.  Don’t ever give up on yourself.  Surround yourself with people who care about you, and let go of those that don’t.  You will never please everyone, and not everyone is going to accept you.  The most important thing is that you accept yourself in all of your variations.  Keep the cha-cha in mind, and embrace all that you are.  If you can laugh at yourself, no one else will have power over you.

Thanking the People in Your Life Who Have “Done You Wrong”

Cover for In Lieu of a Dragon Tale

Abuse comes in all forms, from emotional to physical, and the abuse is passed down from one person to the next.  It is extremely unlikely that an abuser has been nurtured in a balanced and healthy environment.  Most people who are mentally and emotionally abusive are unaware of their control issues, nor do they have any sort of self-esteem because of what has been inflicted upon them and taken away from them, usually in childhood.  We know this when we deal with abusive people in our lives, but how often do we find compassion for them?  It is so much easier to take the stance of a victim and to blame that person for most or some of our “issues.”  I am writing this today because I was walking with a friend yesterday who was terribly neglected by her adopted mother, and even after the mother has passed away, my friend is still harboring a lot of anger from her childhood.

I asked my friend this question:  “Although your mom was abusive, neglectful and caused you pain, what positive influence did she have on your life?  I mean, when people push us to the point of misery, and cause us to want to rebel, often we go to the extremes to prove them wrong in some way, shape, or form.  Their behavior toward us has a direct influence on some of our biggest life decisions.  How did your abusive mother push you in your life, which proved positive?”

My friend considered this for a moment and then relayed to me that she would have never left home as early as she had, and taken several opportunities to travel the world if it weren’t for her mom driving her to the point of practically running out the front door.  My friend has been all over the planet because she refused to remain home in that abusive relationship with her mother.  She has literally seen most everything there is to see out there, in all of her childhood fury.  She went out and found her place in the world because she had no place with her own mom.  How empowering that relationship truly was for my friend.

In my own life, I have recognized other people’s “bad or weird” behaviors as an opportunity to look at my own self and see how I can change (clean up my side of the street) in order to navigate in a balanced way with those people.  Other people enter our lives to show us something about ourselves.  We think that life is incredibly random, but if nature shows us anything, it proves that it is clearly balanced, and it is constantly rebalancing, healing, growing, providing, etc.  When we are physically hurt, our body immediately sends signals to our brain to rush in extra blood so that it can begin the healing process.  It is no different in our emotional, spiritual and mental experiences of life.  The universe always provides people, places and things to offer healing, balance and growth.  If we recognize these people, places and things when they arrive, we will discover that life is not random.  It is incredibly connected and unbiased.

Everyone experiences pain, and everyone is provided opportunities for healing, balance and growth.  It is up to the individual to recognize their role in the ecosystem of their relationships.  If someone is causing you pain, another something or someone will be provided for healing.  Life is certainly not random.  If we are to become conscious of ourselves, we must also recognize what role other people play in our spiritual, emotional and mental development.  Everyone plays a role in our lives, including those who are completely clueless to themselves and how they behave.

If I have learned anything this year, it is that no matter how awful other people’s behaviors are, there is something I can change about myself in order to find serenity in that relationship.  I can find a balance within myself through their reflection of whatever pisses me off or annoys me.  Rather than trying to control them (because I can’t), I take control of my responses, and there I discover that I am way more in control than I previously thought.  When we begin searching for balance within ourselves, we discover how incredibly powerful we are as human beings, and how life is constantly offering us opportunities to heal, balance and grow.  When I heal, rebalance and grow because of those other people’s influences in my life, it is easy to take a step back from my ego and silently thank them for the significant role they played, without them even knowing it.  There is so much to this life experience that we miss if we are not aware of our soul journey while we are in this human form.

I spend most of my free time writing, and this is how I rebalance, and figure stuff out about myself.  I don’t know what else I am supposed to be doing with my life other than raising my two children and writing, so that’s what I’m doing.  I have recently published a book called ‘In Lieu of a Dragon Tale – A Modern Day Fable for the Young at Heart.’  It is about a girl and her unexpected relationship with a dragon.  The dragon represents wisdom and the girl is having a difficult time navigating through her life with this giant beast in a society that does not accept dragons.  The story wrote itself and surprised me in each unfolding chapter.  The ending was especially unexpected.  I’ve loaded it on Kindle for 0.99 and it is also available in paperback.

If you have suffered in your addiction, or if you are trying to make sense out of the chaos,  this story is extremely relatable, as the girl eventually descends into the darkest of places in order to separate herself from the dragon, until she has a powerful moment of clarity.  I am very excited about this book and am asking for some reviews on Amazon.  Here is the link if you are interested:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=in+lieu+of+a+dragon+tale%2C+j.+l.+forbes

Which Portion of Myself am I Supposed to Listen to Anyway? (The Conundrum of Humanity)

Heart and Mind

A couple of years ago I freaked my (at the time) fifteen year old son out by telling him something like, “Everyone’s minds are sick and twisted.  We all have messed up minds.”  His response was “Oh that’s just great,” as if to say that he didn’t have a chance in life – Like an “I should give up now,” sort of conclusion, but I wasn’t finished explaining myself.

“Son,” I continued, “what I mean is that our minds are like a labyrinth and if you stop and listen to it, you will see that it carries on and on and, sometimes takes you to terrible places.  Your thoughts are nuts if you really stop and listen to them, but YOU are not your thoughts.”

This is about the time my children’s eyes begin glazing over and I have to sum up the wisdom I’m about to embark upon them so that they don’t fade off not knowing what I’m trying to teach them.  (Oh, btw, I have a twelve year old daughter too).

“YOU are an incredible being, who goes way beyond your mind.  You have a brain, and a heart, which also thinks, has a magnetic field surrounding it…” (oops, losing him)… “and scientists are now discovering that the heart is also a brain, but it is so intelligent of a brain, that it does not operate by logic.  It is the brain of intuition that knows all, sees all, and holds compassion rather than judgment…”  Ok, so I’ve lost my son by now, but have I lost my adult audience here?

Now, my children tune me out a lot, but the proof of my own sense of who I am (the heart person, not the brain person), is strongly reflected through their trust in me, and them knowing that I’m solid in myself.  When it all boils down to it, my two children know that I am the real deal.  There is an underline “no-nonsense” rule with me (after several years of recovery).  I no longer buy into the bullshit of my mind, and sometimes when I’m going there, they observe me moving through it quickly.  This isn’t to say that I’m some super-human saint, because I’m absolutely not.  It’s simply that when it comes down to it, I am able to tap into that greater place of myself that knows all, sees all and holds compassion rather than judgment.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and lie.  I certainly DO judge people.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t.  But the difference now, is that I know when I’m doing it, and I can finally take a step back and re-navigate from that greater place.  It’s an ongoing process.  I’m constantly reminding myself to stop judging, to trust in something greater than what my mind is telling me is true (i.e. there is no way I can achieve success without following certain rules of society…), to trust in the balance and abundance of the universe, and to follow my gut rather than buying into my confining fears.  This magic of life is all understood by my heart, which is where we all began in the first place.  The first thing that we are in this human form (besides the cells and membranes and such) is a beating heart.  Our brains do not develop until long after our hearts develop.  I remind myself of this when my clever little brain goes off into the maze of maddening reason, which is essential for problem solving in a pinch, but overall, I yearn to experience the fullness of my life, rather than spending time in the prison of my mind where I can make a conundrum out of the beauty of a flower.

I think a lot, but lately I’ve been learning to drop down into that greater place of myself which feels. When I am in the presence of another human being, I am listening more to my own emotions arising now than I am the words they are saying to me.  I am curious to know what they are reflecting within me.  I’m drawn to people who get under my skin, and also to those that bring out the best in me.  What is that about?  Why do some people pull out my negativity, while others bring out my unconditional love?  It’s so interesting to me (but here I go thinking again)…

The bottom line is that we have a constant choice to navigate our lives through our ingenious minds, or through our precious heart center.  There is a HUGE difference in how life unfolds when you begin operating from your heart center.  These two are incredibly opposing forces within you.  The mind is consumed with lust (for things, people, desires…), while the heart is filled with love.  The mind rejects, while the heart accepts.  The mind holds on, while the heart let’s go.  The mind sees limitation, while the heart is boundless in nature.

You cannot tell me that we are constantly being pushed and pulled from the outside by a devil with a pitchfork, and a god who lives way out in the cosmos somewhere.  All of this angel/devil stuff is innate within us.  It’s the mind vs. the heart.  It’s the challenge within ourselves that we all have to face – and at some point, embrace. We all come here with these two opposing forces within us and hopefully we leave this place from the same beautiful facet of ourselves where we began – the heart. The mind will take you on a psychotic journey, but the heart will keep you present, and that’s the whole point of this blog today.

If you want to be present, drop down into your heart center.  That’s where you truly exist and who you truly are.  That limitless, intuitive, all-knowing, accepting, unconditional loving, source of energy.  This is who we all are deep down inside.  There are no exceptions, so stop thinking you are better than dude standing next to you in line, and pay attention to your source of navigation.  Be aware of YOU, rather than getting lost in that maze of yours up there. And the amazing thing is, the instant you catch yourself in the prison of your mind, you can immediately drop down into that limitless place of yourself. No religious guilt involved, you see. Let go. Be free. Stand in the wholeness and vastness of who you truly are by navigating from your precious heart. YOU hold the key to your own experience of your life. Now isn’t that refreshing?

It’s Important to Know Your Limitations

Limitations

When you navigate through life with direction and have a sense of self, sometimes you hit a wall.  The wall is unexpected and it can be maddening, but only if you try to break through the wall instead of just standing there in awareness of it, and then accepting that it’s there.  The wall can be anything, but mostly it’s a place where you are reminded that you are not invincible.  After a long run with tons of momentum, the wall presents itself, making it abundantly clear that you need to slow down and change things up a bit.  If you don’t do it, the universe will do it for you, and from experience, I’ve learned that the universe’s way of getting my attention is not usually subtle.  The wall is kind of subtle, so if you’re aware of it when it arises, then you can overcome it without too much of a struggle.

It’s good to know your limitations.  It’s not good to walk around the planet thinking you know everything.  Nobody knows everything.  I don’t care who you are.  Self-awareness isn’t about life always being simple and trouble-free.  It’s truly about knowing the circumstances and how you are feeling and being in acceptance of everything right here right now without trying to outsmart any discomfort that you feel.

Last night I was in a Restorative Meditation class, and the instructor kept bringing us back to our bodies, asking us to feel anything that may not be comfortable.  She kept returning us back to our bodies, although my mind was off in the distance.  Each time she brought us back to our bodies, I felt something I hadn’t noticed before.  We did a stretch that brought pain to the palms of my hands.  It was incredibly uncomfortable, but during that time, I wasn’t thinking about anything else except for the discomfort.  When I directed my attention to my uncomfortable hands, and then accepted that they were uncomfortable, I felt myself relax into the discomfort.  The weirdest thing was that I actually became grateful for that pain because it made me feel alive in that moment, and none of my thoughts had any momentum over that pain.  The pain was a gift because it brought me into focus.  I wasn’t trying to avoid the pain, or turn off the pain.  I simply accepted it and decided that I was not yet strong in that portion of my hands.  I didn’t judge myself for it.  How often do I lay upside down and hold my feet up in straps?  Never.  So, how could I build that muscle if I didn’t allow the pain and discomfort to overcome me while I was stretching that untrained muscle?

What muscle am I stretching right now in my real life?  I’m not certain.  I know one thing is for sure – I’m not comfortable at all.  I’m feeling things in my body, mind and emotions that feel a lot like a wall.  I feel a bit blank because I don’t have answers for myself right now.  I’m at a loss.  The good news is, I know this is nothing more than an opportunity to quiet down and be aware.  I don’t have to have answers, and I’m certainly not going to avoid the way I’m feeling – the rawness, the numbness, the blankness.  It’s not going to kill me.  I know nothing right now, thank god.  I just know there is a wall, and I am standing before it and it’s incredibly annoying.  I don’t have it all figured out.  I’m vulnerable.  I’m human.  I’m fallible.  That’s actually incredibly refreshing.  If I knew everything, life would be dreadfully boring.

We all have limitations.  It’s ok to admit this about ourselves.  There was a time in my life when I pretended to know what I was doing.  That got me nothing but a lot of unwanted wake-up calls.  When you get to a place where you are ok with feeling vulnerable, and perfectly fine with not knowing what the hell is going on, then you’re actually getting somewhere.  I may not feel like I’m getting anywhere right now, and that’s ok.  This is a good place to ask for help, or to accept advice, or to be open to receiving some clarity.  It’s not a time to beat myself up, or to shut down.  Somehow I’ll befriend this wall and the wall will become uncomfortable with my acceptance, so it will shift, and I will gracefully walk past it.  Until then, I’m in a place of not knowing anything, and for once in my life, that’s perfectly alright by me.

Being Positive Doesn’t Mean Painting Yourself Pink When You’re Feeling Olive Green

Think Positive

For some reason I found myself surrounded by a lot of negative thinking people when I was first out on my own as a sober person.  I kept running into skeptics and cynics, and it was difficult for me to understand how people could live with the attitude that life was pretty shitty.  I was the Yang of that Yin.  No matter where I went, however, I couldn’t get away from people who made me feel like I was in La La Land.  I was in Berkeley too, which I thought was more of a hippy-happy place, but no – people were pissed off and convinced that if you think positive, you’re being delusional.

I took this as a challenge and began looking at how I viewed things.  In treatment I learned to notice my emotions arising when other people were in my presence.  I learned to stop and feel my emotions rather than reacting from them.  I had been out of treatment for about four months by this time, and hadn’t even considered my emotions in situations yet.  I was walking around in a bubble of positivity, constantly being grateful for everything from top ramen to minimum wage paychecks, and trying to find the silver lining in everything.  The thing was, I felt really good most of the time, but I was also ignoring when I didn’t feel good.  So I began getting real with myself and I stopped painting things pink when they were actually olive green.

Yes I was grateful for both of my two jobs, but there were several things about work that I was unhappy about.  I began noticing those things.  I began feeling how annoyed I was half of the time, and also there were people I came into contact with who made me feel inferior.  I began feeling that insecurity out in myself.  When I was bored, I admitted to myself that I was bored.  When I wanted to throw chicken at an entitled customer’s ugly face, I felt the anger come up and allowed it to hang out with me.  No I didn’t react in my emotions, but I stopped lying about them.  After about a month I realized how negative I felt inside regardless of my positive attitude.  Sometimes life was just shitty, and I was finally willing to take that in and allow it to consume me once in a while.  But I will tell you what – that wasn’t going to work for me forever.  I had to find a way to balance the Yin and Yang out.  I wasn’t going to live on the opposite side of the spectrum now that I was getting honest with myself.  So I got quiet and began reading books on the subject.  What I discovered was that our whole entire experience of life is projected by how we think.  Our experience of life is induced by our emotions, and our emotions derive from what we think about.  Ah-ha!  The bottom line was that I needed to change my thinking in order to enhance my emotions so that the experience of positivity could be genuine.

This took me about a year, but I made the decision to do an experiment.  I was about to move into a new place where I rented a bedroom inside of an older house with a woman who I knew nothing about.  At first I was terrified of it being a wrong decision because I was leaving my recovery peers in order to learn to balance on my own two feet.  I had outgrown the need for “support” which wasn’t feeling like support anymore.  The only thing I went on was my gut, and my gut was telling me to make the move, although my brain was incredibly insecure about the whole thing.  Instead of buy into what my brain was telling me (that the carpet was not clean enough for me, that it was too small of a space, that I would lose touch with my peeps, etc…) I decided to change my thinking.  I had about nine months before my daughter would be moving back in with me.  I had nine months on my own.  This would be a perfect time to complete the manuscript that I was writing and spend some quality time getting to know my sober self in relation to the real world.  I had a simple life and I could either buy into my fears, or I could tap into the place of myself that I had been ignoring for years.  I could really dive into my writing and move forward with an attitude that life keeps getting better.  I decided that I would write that damn book and trust that when I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing in life, it just keeps getting better.  It did.

Instead of living on the surface of myself and of life, I began feeling everything.  I didn’t deny when I was afraid, which was often, but I also didn’t buy into the fear either.  I somehow developed the courage to walk through it, and life began feeling legitimately magical.  Great things began happening.  I was more motivated.  I felt more joy.  Positive people entered into my experience.  Within those nine months my life accelerated beyond anything I would have ever imagined.  Two years later, I am living a completely different lifestyle – the one I was dreaming about while living in that bedroom with the dirty carpet.

It really boils down to two things – fear and freedom.  You either buy into your fears about life, or you trust the deeper part of yourself that longs to be free from that overbearing fear.  If you buy into the fear, you’re going to be riding on unpredictable waves your whole life.  If you dive past the fear, you’re going to find freedom.

No, things are not perfect and yes, I do have bad days, but I continue forward marching with the attitude that life keeps getting better, and it does.  I am not lying to myself when I say this.  I am certain of it.  I know it to be true because my little experiment worked.  Instead of pretending that I don’t feel “negative” emotions, I acknowledge them and allow them to be with me, but then I change my thinking around situations by saying things like, “It’s going to be ok.  I’m always being guided.  I’m exactly where I need to be right now.  I’m loved beyond measure.  I’m going to move through this with ease.  Some days are better than others, and that’s ok.  Emotions are temporary.  They are not eternal.  Whatever I need is given to me at the exact right time, and right now I may need this challenge in order to grow.”  The inner dialogue has changed, and so has my life.  It’s getting better and better all the time.  My relationships with my family is so much healthier.  I have several friends now instead of acquaintances.  My job completely accommodates my needs and wants in life.  Both of my children live with me because they actually want to be around me.  That in itself is nothing short of a miracle.

It’s not about being positive and ignoring the negative, or searching for a silver lining in the grand scheme of life.  It’s about going deeper.  It’s about getting real with yourself.  If you are unhappy – admit that shit.  Feel that negativity so that it can move through your body.  Be aware of it, but then change your thinking around it so that things will transform for the better.  Accept things for what they are, positive or negative, but learn to smile with life.  It’s always changing – it’s constantly on the move.  The question is, can you move with it in ease, or are you going to resist it by ignoring what’s really going on with you?  Once you began acknowledging what’s really going on with you, the negative emotions begin clearing much quicker.  They simply want your attention.  They draw you in so that you remember yourself – so that you can rebalance and re-center yourself, instead of getting lost out there in the chaos of the world.

Is Your Direction Purely Consumption?

Consumption

We are a generation of insatiable consumers.  Everywhere we go there are advertisements working overtime on our human desires in order to get us to buy something we probably don’t need.  Commercials take up a third of our show’s airtime, and companies who have money to spend (like Apple and Pepsi) advertise their products right inside the shows we watch.  We are not only consumers of products, we are consumers of entertainment.  This is probably the worst form of consumption because it comes across so sparkly and harmless (most of the time).  The problem is, when we are constantly needing to be entertained, we lose ourselves in things outside of ourselves.  This is exactly what addiction is, and it comes in the form of many faces.  Some addictions drag you through the mud and rip your life apart, but many addictions are subtly and slowly removing you from yourself.  So what’s the problem you ask?  I don’t know – perhaps I think too much about the day I die and having regrets about things I didn’t do while I was alive (because I was too busy trying to fill up the empty spaces by consuming, instead of enjoying the precious moments of my life).

Lucky me – I know a lot of people who simply enjoy their lives, who are not the mainstream type of consumers.  This is refreshing.  I’ve been on both sides of the equation, and I still love my shows – they make them so funny now that it’s difficult not to watch them.  Not that watching shows are bad, but it’s how much time many of us spend zoning out in front of the television, or with anything that takes us away from ourselves.  I enjoy good writing, and I watch shows and films with good writing because it is inspiring to me – not just entertaining. I read books that inspire my craft. I enjoy beautiful artwork because it lifts my spirits. Not that I am immune to zoning out in front of the TV. I do that too.

Consumption is not a direction in life, however.  It’s a filler.  If you have direction and you know where you are headed, I would say that a little TV is probably ok, but like anything in life, there has to be a balance.  If you’re finding yourself unhappy when you don’t have people, places and things keeping you distracted from yourself, then it may be time to take a step back and re-evaluate your life.  What do you want out of your life?  Where do you want to go?  Where do you see yourself five years from now?  What are you missing out on because you have lost touch with yourself?  If you continue doing what you are doing, where are you headed?  If what you are consuming isn’t inspiring or assisting you toward your dreams or goals, then it probably isn’t worth your time.

I know what restlessness feels like and how disturbing it can be when you are left alone with yourself with nothing to do but spin your wheels.  It’s a terrible feeling – I KNOW, but it’s often a good place to be because without anything to relieve your restlessness, you can discover a lot about yourself.  What is your ingenious brain telling you to do while your feeling restless?  What does it desire?  What is it begging for?  What does it crave?  When I am feeling restless, I find out (really fast) what distractions are calling out to me, and it can be a brutal space to hang out in, but once I get past the squawking parrot in my head (the consumer), everything becomes incredibly settled and calm.  I realize all of that squawking was nonsense.  I don’t DIE, or end up disappearing when I don’t feed into the restlessness.  In fact, I become much more aware of myself, and of the deepest part of myself that longs for space to simply feel alive, rather than feeling numbed out all the time.  Even feeling emotional raw these days has such an advantage over feeling nothing, because at least I know I’m ALIVE.

I used to be bored all of the time.  I can tell you after three and a half years of sobriety and in knowing which direction I am headed in my life, I have not experienced boredom in most of those three-point-five years.  I can’t even imagine being bored anymore – even if I am just sitting on a couch staring at a wall.  I am not bored because I know who I am, where I am going, how amazing silence can be, and I am truly happy.  Life is not always a cake walk, but I am truly happy, even during off-days.  This is because I stopped filling the void and finally allowed to void to be.  I write about this a lot, but the void was simply my Self, desiring me to come home.  Once I entered into the void, I found out that I was everything I ever needed.  I recommend this course of action.  It is much better than living a life trying to keep that void filled.  You can never fill that void because (again) it isn’t a void at all.

Though many people are quite satisfied in their lives by simply living a day to day routine and enjoying the moments as they come, some of us have dreams and ultimate desires for ourselves.  If you’re one of those people, then take action toward your goals.  Make a bucket list and go for it.  Ask yourself if what you are doing throughout the course of the day is creating steps toward your goals, or taking you away from your goals.  I used to get caught in this trap of thinking that it was going to take me WAY too long to get where I wanted to go, and also, I was not up for the work that was required of me.  I suppose recovery has taught me something valuable.  Once you step toward a goal, and place your energy toward that goal, the momentum toward that goal picks up exponentially, and the spiritual, emotional and mental growth during the process is what will give you strength to continue on.  Once you get on the path, and you’re serious about the path toward your goals, the whole universe will conspire for you to reach those goals (haven’t you read ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho?  Well, you should if you haven’t).  It’s certainly not as daunting as you’re probably making it in your head.  Even after several years of writing books and not finding a Literary Agent or a major publisher to represent me (one of my goals), I am still going strong.  If it takes me another decade to get where I want to go, I’m not giving up.  I’m going to continue writing.  I will only grow better as a writer and learn more about myself, and life, in the meantime.  The path toward getting there has been that incredibly fulfilling to me.  And if I never reached my goals, I would not consider myself a failure, because at least I tried.  A failure is someone who gives up on themselves before they even try.

I have been blogging a lot for the last year, but some things have shifted in my life that require me to place my focus on completing the manuscripts I’ve started.  I write mostly in the morning because it’s the quietest time of day.  I decided to blog about once a week, and to fill the remainder of the mornings, writing my manuscripts.  For those of you who read my blogs everyday, don’t think I have given up. On the contrary. I have written a lot on this blog and I feel incredibly satisfied with LushNoLonger. I will continue blogging, just not as often.
In the meantime, I have a promotion going on from now through the end of October (2014).  If you download a copy of ‘Majestic Wonderbread – Earthbound and Seeking Hidden Treasure,’ http://www.amazon.com/MAJESTIC-WONDERBREAD-Earthbound-Seeking-Treasure-ebook/dp/B00DGZPXPI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1413208837&sr=8-2&keywords=majestic+wonderbread

Then like my FB page https://www.facebook.com/MajesticWonderbread

and write an Amazon review about the book – email me with you full name and address (Articulatingmagic@gmail.com), I will send you an autographed copy of the book.  It’s a win-win.  It is a really good book and it’s the first of a series.  I believe in this book, so I’m promoting it – it’s part of my own path toward one of my life goals.

If you need more inspiration to follow your own goals, here is a link to ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho (I highly recommend this book):  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_13?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the%20alchemist&sprefix=the+alchemist%2Caps%2C466

Another Way to Look at Birds and Bees (Just BEEEEEE)

birds and bees

My mother had an experience where she was learning about being present.  When we are just learning about being present, the last thing we are doing is being present because we’re trying to “figure out” how to be present, which goes against the whole concept.  On one of her walks along a levee, she finally asked aloud, “What does it mean to just BE?”  She was serious when she asked this question.  Her answer came immediately in the physical form of a large bumble bee that entered right into her space.  Buzz buzz buzz.  My mom got the cosmic joke and pretty much went into hysterics.  What a sense of humor God has!  Coincidence?  I think not.  She asked for “be” and she got “bee.”  It was a sweet (pun intended) lesson to her about being able to laugh and enjoy the moment.

When I was learning about being present, I was trying to figure it out too.  For someone like me who lives inside their head observing and analyzing everything and everyone, being present was a difficult endeavor – nearly impossible for me.  I can honestly say it took me about three years of practice.  That’s a really long time, but one of the things that helped me was the birds.  I was sitting on my front porch bench thinking about being present (oxymoron) and suddenly a bird chirped very loudly.  It woke me up out of my thoughts and there I was, suddenly present to the moment.  Chirp chirp chirp.  The bird was out of sight, but I was aware.  For once I was aware of the surrounding world right now.  I got a revelation that perhaps the bird’s chirp was divinely designed to wake humans up to the moment.  Each time I heard a chirp thereafter it was a reminder for me to get out of my head (which is pretty much like telling a two year old to stop picking their nose – they just can’t help it).

It’s been about seven years and my world is entirely calm now.  Being present is no longer difficult for me because it saved my life.  It is a place of healing.  It is a place where I am the organic, genuine me.  When I am present, I am not planning ahead about which mask I’m going to wear, or what I’m going to say ahead of time.  There is power in being present because it’s where all of me is in one place.  I am not split up in my head between the margins of yesterday and tomorrow.  I’m not on the battleground of my mind.  I’m just here.  When my words come out now, sometimes they are quite intuitive.  I shock myself with the insight that flows when I am present.  When I am present, I can write from a genuine place.  I’m not trying too hard when I am present.

Being present also means letting things go right away.  It means that if I make a mistake, I can stand in awareness of that mistake, and then be present in the next moment where that mistake does not exist.  It’s immediate forgiveness and being in a constant state of healing.  If I am having an emotional moment (no matter what the emotion is), I can acknowledge the emotion and allow to be there with me.  When I am present, I feel the emotion in its entirety.  I don’t judge it or resist it.  I just give it space, and quickly, it moves through me.  There is no lingering when I am present.  Compassion flourishes in the state of being present.  When you are present, there is no resistance, judgment, worry, stress, apprehension or pretention.  You are in a constant state of acceptance of what is, no matter what is.  If the what is brings up raw emotion, you are present with that emotion.  The emotion will pass and there you will find yourself again blossoming in your magnificent awareness of both yourself and the immediate world.

I used to get a little weepy thinking about not holding onto people, places and things that made me happy, but as I’ve been letting go more in my life, each moment that I am completely present (no matter what I’m doing) is enough to fill any void of loss about whatever it is that I’m letting go.  When I am completely present, nothing I’m doing is draining, or that awful either, because being present means not dreading it.  It means just being. 

Being present does not mean that you cannot use your imagination.  We need creativity in our lives in order to invite experiences and things into fruition.  I make space during certain times of day (early morning and late at night) to visualize and make an intention for what I desire in my life.  Many people use dawn and dusk for prayer or mediation.  Prayer to me is being present and it is more of a state of being rather than a thing that we do.   Meditation is something I can do pretty much anywhere.  Being present is also a constant state of mediation.

I used to get wound up about what was up and coming, and what I had to plan for a month ahead of time.  I would get twisted about Christmas – in February.  I thought everything had to be done right this second, but I guess after sitting in a treatment facility for six months and not attending to much of anything outside that facility, I realized that things either work themselves out, or they don’t much matter.  Not as much as we think they do anyway.  If something comes up now, I deal with it when it comes up.  I don’t thrash and spin over the things I have no control over and I don’t get anxious about the future.  Worry never helped me or made things any easier.  On the contrary.  Worry is a life-suck, so I’ve learned to just deal with things as they arise, rather than giving power to them ahead of time.  I know we have to plan things in life.  Of course.  But when I am present during the planning, the planning is much simpler and less of a burden.

Being present is the easier, softer way (if that’s something you’re looking for in your life).  It’s the answer to just about everything.  Many times my daughter will bring up things she’s worried about and I’ll say to her, “Is that happening RIGHT NOW?”  No it never is, and she gets it.  She immediately calms down and usually discovers a smile in the midst of the temporary anxiety.  The only thing that is happening right now is usually nothing.  That’s the truth.  Big things happen in our head more than they do in real life.  Of course, I’ve learned to be so present that even my job and home reflects a very peaceful environment.  That wasn’t always the case.  Like I said, it took several years of practice, but the result is that the world around me reflects my state of being.  The world around me is pretty much calm.  If yours is not, then keep practicing being present in the midst of the chaos.  If you can’t seem to find yourself centered, call aloud for assistance.  Ask for help.  Tell the birds and the bees to remind you about their sweet way of bee-ing! 

This book helped me: http://www.amazon.com/Power-Now-Guide-Spiritual-Enlightenment-ebook/dp/B002361MLA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1412776299&sr=1-1&keywords=the+power+of+now

Here is my story: http://www.amazon.com/The-Devils-Altar-Dynamic-Recovery/dp/1492957798/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412776367&sr=8-1&keywords=the+devil%27s+altar