Think of Yourself as a Manuscript (Review, revise, resubmit…)

Manuscript

Yesterday I took a short walk in town and observed the people around me.  Some were focused.  Others were in a hurry.  Many were lining up at the sport’s bar excited about football.  There is a small redwood tree park I walk through to get home and two men were jamming on their electric guitars on one of the pathway benches.  They had some real harmony going on and I wanted to stay and hang out, but that would have been kind of weird.  They were just practicing, not performing.  The cases to their instruments were closed – not open for spare change.  Obviously they were playing because they loved playing.

This weekend I kind of just took it easy, which is rare for me.  I’m always on the go, but one thing I did do was write, which is something I used to procrastinate doing.  When I used to sit down and write, it took a lot of effort.  It was like trying to tame a wild boar inside of me that was more interested in distractions than the discipline of writing.  The irony was, if I wasn’t writing, I felt like I was wasting my life away.  I think most writers can relate here – we just have this innate need to write.  If we don’t do it, we feel awful about it.  So for most of my life, I have written poetry or short stories to calm down that inner stirring to write, but when I got sober, I knew where I wanted to place my life’s focus.

I’ve never had any doubt that writing was what I am supposed to be doing.  The hardest part about writing is following through and finishing the manuscript, so I challenged myself to complete my projects.  It was not easy.  There was no one there to root me on, or any indication that what I was writing would be worth reading.  If I liked what I was writing, it was a good indication to me that other people would enjoy reading it, but there is a huge process to achieving the goals I have for myself.  Editing my own work is a never-ending task.  Every time I re-read my completed manuscripts, I find errors.  Writers not only have to complete their manuscripts – we have to re-write them.  Then we have to go through them with a fine-tooth comb.  After that, there’s the cover art, marketing, social media networking, soliciting for representation, self-promotion, etc.  It’s a huge commitment.  I mean, I don’t honestly know what drives me except that I told myself a long time ago that I was going to do this.  I got behind the wheel of this ship and focused on the horizon up ahead.  Any challenge that comes between me and that horizon is worth taking-on.  I’ve made that commitment to myself, you see.

Sometimes I’m hard on myself because I want something other than what I have right now.  I’ve been struggling with this a lot.  I mean, I blog about living in the moment and being happy and accepting of what I have right now.  For the most part, I am happy for what I have right now, but there is also this drive toward that horizon.  Last night I was at a meeting listening to someone’s story, which was pretty mild in comparison to mine.  She drove drunk with four children all the time and never got a DUI.  She was never arrested or evicted or publicly humiliated.  While she was speaking I was staring at the floorboards of the room, listening and looking at all the little grooves in the wood.  Something occurred to me that all I am in life is one of those little grooves among endless other little grooves.  Even if my story is a powerful one, it may never get heard the way I desire it to be heard.  My manuscripts are the same thing.  Little grooves in the wood among many. What even drives me I ask myself?  Some people make it big while others do not.  It’s a crap shoot really.  The truth is, when you’re driven to a grand horizon, you’ve got to accept the fact that you may never make it there.  That’s really important to grasp.  You’ve got to do what you love doing for the love of it, just like those guys with the electric guitars in the park.

I had to surrender last night to my drive.  Instead of beating myself up for my desire to have something more than what I have now (which, again, is like taming a wild boar), I decided that I would surrender to the fact that I have no control over my drive.  It’s always been there.  Even when I was darkly failing myself, the drive was there deep down inside.  It’s one of those things I cannot deny about myself, or pretend that it doesn’t exist.  I would love to say that I’m completely here and now, and satisfied because of my here and now.  I have goals for my life, and that’s always been the case.  I have a fire under my feet.  It’s ok.  I’m going to accept this about myself now and just hang out with it.  Whether it’s good or bad, isn’t the question.  The question is – am I willing to accept this about myself?  I can allow the drive to lead me and taunt me and holler at me, or I can just stop and feel out this inner pulling of mine.  I’ve never really done that before.  All along I’ve been identifying with it and allowing it to lead the way for me.  I’ve never really denied it, but I also haven’t been completely honest about it either.

Surrendering is a constant thing we must do.  Self-awareness is part of recovery.  If I go along my life succumbing to this drive, I may find myself tortured if my goals are not accomplished.  For the longest time, I thought this drive was normal, but last night I realized that I haven’t even acknowledged it or faced it, or separated myself from it and become the watcher of it.  But this inner boar – it’s been part of my identity for quite some time.  I just realized that the drive is not “who I am” – it’s simply another facet of my personality, which I haven’t taken the time to observe yet.  I observed other people yesterday without even noticing how driven I was to complete a manuscript I was writing. What is this drive of mine even about?

Why is this important?  Because if I’m being driven and not aware that I am being driven, then I am just as lost as most people in the world.  I’m always talking and writing about self-awareness, but self-awareness is a never-ending journey.  It’s like the manuscripts I’m constantly editing.  I’m basically like a walking-talking manuscript.  There may never be a masterpiece here, but I’m always chipping away at things that no longer serve me, and noticing what run-on sentences are in my train of thoughts.  I’m constantly in a state of surrender realizing things about myself that I hadn’t previously considered.  This drive of mine – I hadn’t considered.  So what it is it about?  Why do I identify with it so deeply?  Why does it have so much power over me? Surrender, acceptance, surrender, acceptance… surrender.

We all have things we overlook about ourselves.  We all identify with elements of our personality that are not truly “who we are.”  What I mean by this is that who we are is greater than the mere personality of ourselves.  We are infinite beings; limitless souls.  The personality is a road block, so it’s good to observe it once in a while and to chip away at it – surrender to the parts of yourself that aren’t serving you any longer.  What part of your personality have you not considered?  It’s a good question to ask, because it brings you back to that place of humility.  It centers you.  It keeps you present.  As much as I want to be present, I’m constantly on the go to get somewhere.  I don’t have to beat myself up about it.  I simply have to know this about myself.  I have to know what’s getting in the way of the greater part of me that exists in a place without desire or longing.  It’s that desire and longing that keeps us in a state of suffering, you see.  And the state of suffering is easily eradicated with a simple declaration of surrender.  It’s a constant thing we have to do.  It’s a discipline.  Like my writing, self-awareness does not promise that I will ever achieve anything.  It’s merely a thing I do because it serves the purpose of keeping me sober and steady.

So we must constantly ask ourselves, what is it about my personality that I haven’t yet considered?  What is blocking me from who I truly am?  And we must chip away at these facets of our personality by surrendering and accepting.  The goal isn’t to become enlightened.  The goal is always to continue discovering ourselves.  It is a never-ending journey, but the journey is always now, and now is always the goal.  There is nothing in the horizon.  The horizon doesn’t exist, and it is also not something separate from us.  It is not up ahead.  The horizon is you.  The horizon is me.  If you don’t understand, just keep chipping away at the personality.  Continue surrendering; continue accepting.

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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

More Than You Can Handle? Time to Reflect on What You’ve Been Asking For in Your Life

Overwhelmed

“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”  Well, that’s just vague.  Human beings are incredibly resilient creatures.  We can handle just about anything, so the saying should be, “God knows you can handle more than you know you can handle.”  That sounds about right.  There are times in my life where I’m carrying a load bigger than me.  I’m an ant hauling around a crumb as big as a beetle.  That’s what it feels like, especially today.  The circumstances being presented to me are much greater than my capacity to figure out how I can manage the quickly incoming changes.  BIG life changes.  Nothing I was expecting either, and it certainly feels like more than I can handle, but after knowing how the great HP works in my life, and in understanding that I directly create my experiences, I have to open myself up to the possibility that I am being lead toward the desires of my heart.

When I’ve been zeroing in on what I want for my life, and begging God for help, and something suddenly gets dropped on my plate that looks more like a pair of boots than a delicious meal, well then it’s up to me to shift my thinking around it.  Why would a pair of boots be offered, rather than the abundance of food I’ve been asking for?  It doesn’t even add up.  AH-HA!  Well, that’s because someone upstairs is trying to show me that it’s my own thinking (perspective) holding me back from the experience I’ve been wanting.  In order to help me to change my perspective, I’ve been given something that doesn’t make any sense so that I become curious.  Curiosity leads to exploration, and exploration leads to discovery.  At the end of this little journey, the boots should make perfect sense.

We’ve all had this experience, and we all resist these experiences.  We want what we want handed to us on a silver platter.  Am I right?  “I asked for prime rib, Dude, and you’re delivering a pair of boots.  Are you out of your freaking mind?  I can’t eat boots!”  Yes, the universe is out of its mind because the universe has no mind.  It is a place where all things are given to us in great abundance. We are the ones who need to get out of our minds in order to receive clarity of the abundance that has been placed before us – which may appear as a pair of boots, but when we put the boots on (rather than rejecting them) something incredible happens.  We realize that the boots are there to help us along the journey.

Why all the obscurity along our path and the pressure in the process of receiving?  Because without it, there would be very little spiritual progress.  Often we want great big changes in our lives.  We ask for our dreams to come true, but when the skin meets the gravel in the physical realm, we suddenly forget our spiritual path and subscribe to the pain and pressure surrounding the experience, rather than waking up and noticing the bigger picture.  These are little tests of faith offered to us in order for us to seek clarity.  With the conditioning of our society, and the way we think, its like there are cobwebs blocking the view of our lives.  We need to clean the cobwebs so that we can see.  When we ask for certain things, the universe immediately responds, but what happens is that we haven’t changed our thinking around how we receive what we are asking for, so instead of delivering what we want on a silver platter, we get something that will assist us in a change of perspective.

For example – We often think that in order to get anywhere in life, we must work really hard.  With this way of thinking instilled in us, how are we able to receive a gift of financial abundance if we don’t believe it is available without hard work?  We create our own blocks by how we are conditioned.  If we want financial abundance, it is available to us, but the hard work must be done internally.  We must dust away the cobwebs (or the programming of our mind) in order to receive the financial abundance that we so desire.  If a pair of boots gets dropped down to us, rather than a pile of money, well then get curious about the boots.  Know that they are par for the course.  Put the boots on your feet and ask for some intergalactic clarity.  Forward march.  Trust the experience and keep your eye on the prize.  If the boots are heavy, get curious about that too.  If they are dirty, ask yourself why?  Don’t reject the boots, or toss them aside, or assume that God doesn’t hear you, or give up on your desire.  We are always being guided toward the desires of our hearts.  It’s a matter of us becoming aware of the journey.

I’ve gotten a pair of boots in front of me today.  I’m putting them on without second guessing them. They are heavy.  They are a little too tight.  I’m a flip-flop wearing kind of gal.  I asked for something completely different.  This doesn’t make any sense at all, and I am feeling quite overwhelmed because I feel the weight and lack of resources for the present circumstance.  That’s what my eyes see and it’s exactly what my programmed, cobwebbed mind tells me is true, but I’m not buying into that old beat up tape playing in my head.  I’m trusting that these boots are made for walking and that what I’ve been asking for is right up ahead.  It’s merely a matter of me trusting that I’m being guided along my journey and knowing that I have everything I need to get where I’m going.  It’s a matter of me changing my perspective, and opening my heart to receiving all that is before me.  I will not buy into my fears, get stuck inside my limited perspective, or cave in and freak out.  As my treatment counsellors used to tell me – “Oh, you’re uncomfortable?  Ok, so BE uncomfortable.  It’s not going to kill you.  In fact, it’s the best thing for you right now.”  Yes, these boots are uncomfortable, and weird, and somewhat foreign in the scheme of my life, but instead of rejecting them, I’m completely surrendering to the fact that I have NO idea how things are going to pan out – yet I do know that they are certainly going to pan out. That’s a pretty exciting adventure right there. I’m up for it. Arms open wide.

With flying colors – J. L. Forbes

If It Were My Last Day on Earth

Last day on Earth

A lot of times when I wake up in the morning I ask myself what I would do today if it were my last day on Earth.  I would most likely run as fast as I could for as long as I could, and sing every song that came through my earphones aloud.  I would dance on the sidewalk and in the street.  I would learn something about every person I met.  I would hug just about all of them.  I would give my possessions away to those who needed them and empty my wallet to anyone who asked me for money. I would call everyone of my family members and tell them how much they meant to me and let them know how they influenced my life (my beautiful and dynamic life).  I would genuinely thank a lot of people, and gently bow in the way of Namaste (I honor the divinity within you…).  I would pass out the books I’ve written.  I would take my two children for a long drive and tell them just about everything I know about being alive and about people.  I would tell them to follow their hearts, to take chances, to not be afraid to fail, to question everyone and everything, to listen to their gut, to use their voice, and to search within themselves for all the answers.  “God is not outside of you,” I would remind them, and I would say, “When you’re feeling disconnected, or confused, or angry, or weird, stop everything you are doing and be of service to someone else.  This is the answer to just about every problem.  Be of service.  It takes you right out of your head into alignment with your heart and soul.”  We would go to the beach, and no matter the weather, I would swim in the ocean one more time.  If I had a boat, I would sail.  If there were a parachute, I would jump out of a plane.  If there was someone I loved that I hadn’t yet told, I would tell them that day before I left the earth, and I wouldn’t care if they loved me back.  I would just want them to know.  I would spend money on food I loved, and eat like a queen for the day.  I would write one last letter (or a few of them) and mail them to people I haven’t talked to in a while.  I would get on my knees in the state of surrender that has kept me sober, and I would tell God how incredibly grateful I am for this human experience.  I would mention my health, my challenges, the modern conveniences that I took for granted, and the people I encountered that showed me who I was. I would cry the tears that I’ve been holding back, because a good cry clears away the gunk in the ole vessel of my soul.  I would definitely hug a tree because I just love trees.  I love the relationship we have with the plants and animals, so I would thank everything for being a part of my existence, especially the sun.  If it were raining, I would stand under it until I was soaked.  I would play and record the one song I’ve ever written, on a grand piano in the middle of a mall or in an art gallery. I would pick or buy myself a bunch of sunflowers, roses or tulips, depending on the season.  I would inhale the aroma of everything I could smell, and touch my keyboard as if it were a treasure, because typing is the one thing I’ve probably taken for granted that has moved me forward in my day-to-day life.  I would stare into an orchid just one more time to get a glimpse of the goddess fairy face.  I would definitely climb a mountain, even if it were at night, and I would let the stars be my guide.  I would not be afraid of being eaten by a wild animal or of getting lost.  I would build a campfire and howl at the moon.  I would laugh with everything in me.  I would laugh until I was laying on the ground in awe of the cosmos, remembering that they are a reflection of me.  I am all the elements that are within the stars and I would be grateful for my awareness of this truth, because it has kept me in a place of knowing that I am everything that I ever need.  I would touch the dirt on the ground, take my shoes off and walk around.  I would love with passion and speak with a knowing (rather than rambling), and I would find a way to fly that day, even if it was to ask a stranger pilot to take me for one last spin above the earth.  I wouldn’t be afraid of anything or anyone, or what people thought of me.  I would want to leave the earth knowing that each person I encountered that day knew how special, whole, and incredibly unique they were.  I would never stop smiling that day, knowing that a smile can light up the surrounding world.  I would eat dark chocolate and ice cream without a thought of getting fat, and I would stare into the mirror and tell myself that I was beautiful – not because of how I appear to the world, or because of my remaining youth, but because when I look in the mirror – I finally see my spirit.  I would climb a tree as far as I could go, and I would read a passage out of my favorite book while I was up there.  I would spin with my arms out, and skip, and do one last somersault and cartwheel.  I would hold someone’s hand and tell them that they mattered to me. I wouldn’t be anything other than myself. I would be proud of whom I have become and completely aware of the trials I have overcome.

And if it were my last day on Earth I wouldn’t look at my phone a thousand times, check my email or watch Netflix or YouTube.  I wouldn’t ever look at the time. I wouldn’t waste a moment on my last day here.  I wouldn’t waste one breath or say one word I didn’t mean.  I wouldn’t spend my energy on anger, gossip, envy, negativity or revenge. I would not worry about a damn thing.  I wouldn’t hesitate either. I certainly wouldn’t go to work or wear a suit (unless it were a bathing suit), but I WOULD write one more inspiring poem, or blog or paragraph, and I would do it because it made me feel alive to write.

If it were my last day on Earth, my entire life that day would be an expression of gratitude.  That’s how I would spend my last day on Earth.  How about you?

The Hawk, The Beating of Your Own Drum, and the View During Your Life Journey

hawk

For a couple of years I noticed more hawks flying above me and coming into my experience than ever before.  When I finally decided to look up the totem meaning of a hawk, it was because a hawk was perched on a wooden fence during one of my morning runs down to the Berkeley marina.  This was after noticing several hawks prior to the close encounter.  I ran to the marina most mornings through a nature path, and rarely did I see another person on the path that early in the morning, but there were always animals.  To my delight, the hawk was on that fence, not even frightened by my presence or my curiosity.  I was literally about five feet away and it completely accepted me.  I took a photo and kept running.  When I got back to that spot, the sun was fully in view over the eastern hills and the hawk was still there; keen, focused, and standing at attention amidst the sun’s gorgeous rays.  It was magical.  I felt really lucky that day.  This is when I decided to look up the totem of the hawk.  I’ve always been drawn to Native American culture and the way the people live in harmony with nature.

According to the totem, a hawk represents intuition, clarity, guidance, a message from the spirit world, and rising above details.  When I encountered that particular hawk I was making some huge decisions in my life.  For me to go through with what I wanted to do (which was to move across the Bay to Marin without a job in sight, a car, money or any reason other than a yearning to be near Mount Tamalpais and near the ocean – and also because I didn’t feel at peace with raising my daughter in Berkeley), it was going to take a great deal of faith and a quantum leap through my doubts and fears.  Seeing that hawk was inspiring to me, especially after knowing its totem meaning.  I trusted in the experience with the hawk and kept moving into the direction of my desire to move across the Bay.  Every morning I ran to the marina and gazed beyond the water at the breathtaking mountain, affirming that I would be there soon.

Within five months I had a job opportunity in Marin, a boyfriend with a car who worked in Marin and no reason to remain in Berkeley.  School was starting soon and it was time to go.  It has been over a year.  We’re tucked away at the base of Mt. Tamalpais about twenty minutes from the ocean.  My job is thriving and I’ve made several friends here.  I have my own car (I’ve had two now actually) and a really cool cat named Mogley that we rescued in Oakland in January 2014.  My relationship did not last, but we have remained very good friends.  I feel like I am at home.  I have never truly felt like I was at home until now.

The last time I saw a hawk it was in December of 2013.  I had just gotten unexpected and devastating news which sent my mind into a spiral.  I was overwhelmed with grief and heartache for my children’s father who has struggled with addiction just like myself.  When I got his phone call, my old addict-self wanted to run to the liquor store to numb everything I was feeling.  I didn’t do it, however.  After the phone call, I was driving back to work from a copy center.  As I turned a corner, a hawk dove from the sky right down in front of my car, and then flew back up.  Tears were streaming down my face at the time, but I immediately busted into laughter with so much gratitude.  I was going to be ok.  Everything was going to be ok.  There was no doubt.  That hawk was a sure sign that I was being guided – and then… that was it.  I have not seen one single hawk since that day, which is odd because I was seeing at least one hawk per day for about two years.  Once, I almost passed a hawk on a PG&E pole without noticing it, and it screeched at me.  (I swear to god it was screeching at me in order to get my attention).

It kind of bothered me that I wasn’t seeing hawks anymore.  (I mean, wtf)?  I kind of felt abandoned, so I finally questioned it aloud.  “What’s going on, man?  I’m not seeing hawks anymore.  This isn’t cool.  I need the hawk.”  Sock in my gut.  Awareness.  Clarity.  Knowing from within.  YOU are the hawk.  The hawk is always with you.  You have become one with the hawk.

Ok, I know this may sound crazy, but you probably don’t get how intertwined with the hawk I was during this time, and when you get a knowing from within, there is no doubting the message.  When I got that message about being one with the hawk, I almost fell over.  It was so incredibly clear, and there was a deep truth that I felt throughout my being.  After all I went through to walk through my fears, to face my doubts, to ignore those who may have thought I was a little bit nutty trying to move to an affluent county with my income (or lack thereof), I realize that I need to keep following the path of my inner knowing.  I need to trust in that place of myself that sees beyond what my five senses tell me is true.  I’ve got to continue “feeling” my way through my life, rather than placing so much weight on the way society identifies with how things work, or buying into an idea that the odds have authority over my life.

You don’t know how many times I’ve heard really nice, logical people tell me that if I want to get where I’m trying to go, I need to have a college degree.  Well, tell that to Mark Twain, Andrew Jackson, Christopher Columbus, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller Sr., Rachael Ray, Simon Cowell, Thomas (freaking) Edison and Walt Disney (to name a few successful people who never finished college).  The only reason I have never gone to college is because I have never felt drawn to college.  I simply don’t, so I keep moving along, reading the signs, practicing being present, trusting in my inner guidance system.  I have held a career for over 21 years without a college degree, but more than anything, I’ve taken the world head on and gained experience and wisdom that I would have never gotten by sitting inside of a classroom.  I’m not drawn to classrooms – that’s just me.  I’m not opposed to them.  I appreciate people who study hard and work toward their goals, no matter if they do it in a classroom, through the military, or simply through life experience like myself.  It doesn’t matter how you gain your knowledge.  What truly matters is if you are following your heart’s desire for your life.

I’ve been beating to my own drum since I was a kid.  My drumbeat was awkward at times, and for a very long time, it was off.  I’ve drifted and failed and found myself incredibly confused – enough that I needed to ask for help, but I kept moving forward.  I rarely got stuck in one place for very long.  In the grand scheme of my life, my addiction years were very brief.  I don’t look back.  I do not worry about what’s ahead.  Now that I know the beat of my own drum, and now that I am accepting the beat of my own drum – the drum works for me.  I am in harmony with my drum, just like I became one with the hawk.  My life is now working for me, after years of feeling lost and confused about everything.  After years of life NOT working for me.

I got a message from a friend last night asking what I thought about a decision he was making.  I don’t know why he is asking for my acceptance of his decisions.  I want him to stand on his own two feet and to know what he needs and wants in his life.  I want this for everyone, because it’s important that we accept ourselves and that we know where we are headed in our lives.  Trusting yourself and loving yourself should be your top priority.  Looking for acceptance from another human being is not going to help you find acceptance for yourself, nor is it going to get you very far.  It feels good to be accepted (I know), but it is not necessary.  My point of view of someone else’s life is completely jaded by a limited perspective.  If I would have allowed people to give me advice last year when I was following my good old fashioned gut, I doubt I would have gotten much outside encouragement because the odds were against me.  People want to give you good advice, but a lot of times, the advice is based in opinion and from a very limited perspective.  Don’t allow people to stifle your experience of your own life.  Learn to trust your inner guidance system.  Learn to see beyond what your five limited senses are saying.  This is what living is about.

This last year I have had more adventure in my life than I’ve ever had in several years combined.  I’ve made more friends in a shorter period of time than ever.  I’ve had more fun, been more motivated, I’ve had more opportunities, and I find myself so excited about waking up in the morning to start my day that sometimes I can’t even sleep.  THAT’s LIVING!  That’s being ALIVE.  That’s where I wanted to be four years ago when I decided it was time to get sober.  I knew I wanted to LIVE – not just survive.  I was tired of merely surviving.  Life is too short to simply get by.  You’ve got to take chances and jump the hurdles when they appear, and wonder about things.  Wonderment – now that’s exciting.  I wondered about that hawk, and look how far that hawk got me.  It wasn’t just a coincidence.  The hawk became part of who I am, but it is only because I was interested in knowing something deeper than the mere physicality of the hawk.  The hawk represented something for my life.  You can call me delusional, but if it wasn’t for my wonderment of the hawk, I do not think I would be where I am right now.  I wouldn’t have gotten this far.

Forget about what other people say and what other people do.  Beat to your own drum without hesitation.  Discover your own harmony.  Be who you are without fear.  It is so fantastically liberating.  There is so much magic in life – It is simply up to you to be aware of it.  If you have a dream, follow it.  You may not ever get to the top of the mountain you are climbing, but the view along the way is soooooo worth the journey!

Why I’m Suddenly Obsessing About the Number Zero

Possibilities

Zero is the greatest number of all.  You want to know why?  Are you curious?  Well, it’s a lot like the word, “surrender.”  If the number zero had a word counterpart (and it probably does, but I can’t find it online this morning), I would suggest that the word be “empty.”  When there is emptiness, there is endless possibility.  This is why zero is magnificent.  Zero is another way of saying “all things are possible.”  When you are void of all your ways, the only thing you have left is just about everything.  You don’t believe me?  Well, I’m no mathematician (by any means – I frigging hated math in school), but I did happen to hear one on the radio the other day who stated that in geometry, when there is nothing (zero-point), the possibilities are endless.  This is why I decided to start figuring out ways to empty myself each day so that I could open up the possibilities of my life.

Surrendering is about letting go – completely.  Giving up the fight.  It’s knowing that you have absolutely no control, but being willing and courageous enough to admit it.  It’s ground-zero.  It’s emptying yourself of everything because you need to discover a new way to be.  We’ve all been there at one point or during certain moments of our lives, but for many of us, everyday is about remaining in a humble place of surrender so that we don’t get ahead of ourselves again.

I’m a big fan of the word “surrender” because it’s what keeps me sober, but I’m always open to deeper insight, which is why I am so incredibly excited about knowing and understanding how when you have “nothing” that everything is possible.  I like the idea of being a blank canvass and clearing my mind so that I’m not disturbing the peace of my experiences.  The idea of having a blank mind means that I’m not blocking things from occurring in my life because I’m not tossing any doubts or negativity toward possibility.  It’s like constantly having beginners luck when you are open to all things being possible.  Let me explain how – I was invited to a Giant’s game the other day.  I like the Giants and everything.  I’m from the Bay Area, so of course I root for Bay Area teams whenever I do watch sports, which is rare, but I wanted my children to have the opportunity to go to a ballgame, so we went.  My friend bought the special events tickets, which only occur twice during the season.  I knew nothing (there’s that word again) about this.  I had no idea that people weren’t allowed to go on the green except during these special events.  Apparently going on the green is like a really big deal.  I wasn’t that impressed about it because it takes a lot to impress me, but it was really cool, especially because my friend was super excited about being on the green.  Anyway, we started doing the special event Yoga and there standing on a stage right before us was Michael Franti doing the music for our yoga session.  The Yoga session was incredible and it was occurring just as the sun was setting behind the stadium, so it was pretty surreal, but I was just taking it all in, incredibly grateful that we didn’t take off after grabbing our Giants yoga mats.  We stayed for the whole thing and the experience was beautiful and so much fun for all of us.  If I had expectations about what was to come that afternoon, I don’t think my experience of it all would have been so pure, unidentified and incredible.  I’m pretty certain that I would have jaded it with my expectations and notions.

Beginner’s luck is not knowing the odds, and not blocking the possibilities with fears or ideas by dwelling on the odds.  If you know the odds, you tend to focus on them which create an experience of odds.  If you don’t know anything about the odds, well – you’re open to the possibilities.  So there you go.  Surrendering is a really big clue about how to live in a way that opens your life up to all things possible.  If you empty your mind of odds and negativity, you are creating a wind tunnel for everything good to come through.  Clear the slate today.  Be present.  Experience life with beginner’s luck.  Stand in the ground-zero of your life and open yourself up to everything possible! Let’s see how far we can go. (I’m not even aiming for the stars anymore because that would be limiting myself from what’s beyond them!)