The Point of Being One in the Midst of Seven Billion Others on a Very Small Planet

Universe in your hands

I had a serious moment of clarity last weekend.  Not one with white lights and angels singing or anything.  It was simple, and it about knocked me out of my boots, which were wet from the rain and needed to be removed anyway.  The thought has only crossed my mind once before while I was watching that movie, ‘Adaptation’ a couple of years ago.  It was this powerful scene where Nicolas Cage and Nicolas Cage were talking.  He played the role of twins.  While one of the twins was dying (the less egotistical one), his brother reminded him about this girl whom he loved in high school who didn’t love him in return, and he was questioning his brother as to why he would love someone who pretty much made fun of him behind his back.  His brother was very clear about the whole thing and explained that it was “his love.”  The love belonged to him, and it didn’t matter if she didn’t love him back because it was his own experience.  That love was his, you see.

I was incredibly moved by that scene.  I mean, it really tore me up inside because it is such a beautiful thing to realize that love is not something you need returned.  It is simply something you experience and give, and stand in awe of, because it’s so much greater than you, and it is eternal.  To expect something in return for your love is cutting off the flow of the love.  It takes away from the full experience.

But this post today is not really about love.  It’s about life and how you can easily cut off the experience of it if you expect something outside of the moment to return a favor.  I do this a lot, and it hit me that this experience of life is exactly what it’s all about.  I can go on for years desiring all kinds of things that I don’t have right now, and expecting, rather than just standing in awe of this whole incredible experience, but it’s more than simply being present.  It’s understanding that the whole point of being here is simply to enjoy it. There’s nothing more to it, which makes it so worthwhile.

Let me explain it this way.  I have always felt a fire under my ass each morning when I wake up, to accomplish something, or to be somebody in the world, which is a horrible standard to live by and I’ll tell you why.  Because if I’m not accomplishing something, or being somebody, then I feel like my life is worth nothing.  That’s incredibly depressing.  To be one of seven billion people on a planet that is smaller than a molecule in the whole grand scheme of the universe, is depressing enough, so I’ve asked myself for most of my life what the point is, and I’ve gone out of my way to figure out what the point is.  I’ve even gone so far and been so arrogant as to think that I’ve got a purpose for being here.  And sure – I guess if you want to break it down to having a purpose, then we all can say that we have been given certain gifts or talents to enhance the whole experience, but still, in the grand scheme of the universe, who really cares?  Who cares if I’m a Queen or if I am a beggar for the small amount of time that I am here?  In the grand scheme of the universe, neither of those things matter at all.  It is only in man’s egotistical mind that those things matter, so again – what is the point? That’s where my moment of clarity hit me.  The point is to simply take it all in while I am here.

I am this person who is having this whole life experience that no one else on this planet is having, and so are you.  You are having a whole life experience that NO ONE ELSE on this planet out of seven billion people, is having.  Wow.  Just think about that for a moment.  Now what are you going to do with that?  The best thing you can do is take it all in.  Really.  Take.  It.  All.  In.  Not just the good stuff, but also the heartache, the pain, the sorrow, the confusion, the anger, the traffic and the brown desk that sits there and taunts you and reminds you that you are stuck in a meaningless job.  FEEL that, and know that you right here, right now are the only one having this exact experience.  And then revel in that knowing, because that my friend, is the point.

The point is to feel it all.  To take it all in while you’re here.  To be like, WOW, this is me having this whole experience that no one else in the entire universe is having.  That’s HUGE.  It’s incredibly beautiful, and I don’t know about you, but for the first time ever – it’s enough for me.  It’s plenty.  I’m like – FINALLY!  That’s what it’s all about, and I’m done pining for things I don’t have because, dude, this right here is flippen fantastic.  Me in this body, that I am always wanting to change, and me with this skin that is growing older, and me with these people that I’ve been given (called my children), are no one else’s experience but mine, and that makes me feel incredibly unique and special and worth something.  I’m not just one of seven billion people on a planet that is smaller than a molecule in the whole scheme of the universe.  I’m the sum total of all my experiences while I’m here, and I’m going to take it all in while I’m here, because that’s enough.  It’s plenty.  It’s all I ever needed to know, really.  Now I can finally stop questioning everything, and begin living this beautiful life that belongs to me. Because it’s all mine and there is so much to take in. Wow.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_s_?ie=UTF8&k=books+by+j.+l.+forbes

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Self-Love and Self-Acceptance is Not Just About Rockin’ the Curves

All about the bass

As catchy as this tune is, it still reinforces that women should feel good about their bodies because men like them a certain way.  “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night…” REALLY?!  As a full grown woman in this twisted-ass society, I am so SICK of feeling like I have to impress men with my body, or even worse – get their acceptance of MY BODY.  I’ve done the math and figured out that the men who are attracted to me for my body – no matter if it’s when I’m thin as a rail, thick and curvy from being bloated from drinking, a little chubby from depression eating, or fit and athletic looking – those men are scumbags.  I’ve had all the body types with the exception of being obese (because I’ve been a consciously healthy eater throughout my life), and I’m going to be brave and admit right now that in all of my ever-changing wardrobes from size 0 to size 12, I’ve always been concerned about how I appeared to men.  Throughout my womanhood I’ve been hit on by married men, arrogant asshole men, men hanging out of their low-riding cars flashing their grills making cat calls, old men, much-too-young men, and “sophisticated” men.  For YEARS this made me feel good about myself.  BARF!  Here is what I want to say to those men – I NO LONGER NEED YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF ME TO FEEL BEAUTIFUL.  FUCK OFF ALREADY!

I used to look in the mirror and detest my freckles.  I spent hundreds of dollars and too many years trying to hide my natural, lovely freckles.  When I got to rehab for alcoholism (because I completely self-destructed while trying to live up to other people’s standards) – for SIX MONTHS I was not allowed to wear make-up. So guess what?  I had to either accept my freckles or spend the entire time obsessing about them.  I chose to accept them, and the funny thing was, no one cared about my damn freckles.  The only thing I ever heard about my freckles from my peers was how darned cute they were.  I began looking in the mirror and seeing what other people saw – a confident woman who had more on her mind than appearing perfect. In that six month period where I was not the center of attention for once, I learned to love my face without the make-up.  I noticed the kindness behind my amber eyes and the way they smiled when I smiled.  I noticed my dimples and the radiance of my ivory skin – all the things I’d never noticed about myself before because I was too busy trying to cover up my freckles.

When I accepted my freckles I stopped caring what other people thought about them.  The obsession was gone.  I could finally walk around without make-up not thinking anything about the spots on my face. What freedom! How liberating! It took thirty-five flippen years for me to get to that place, but the last thing I’m going to ever say to my daughter about this is, “Men love freckles, so you should embrace them.”  Oh HELL NO.  It doesn’t matter what men think of my freckles.  I LOVE my freckles.  That’s all that matters.

Same goes for the ole’ body.  I’ve had body image problems all my life just like the rest of the women in society.  I still do, but I am working on overcoming them and I take care of my body because I not only want to look good – I also want to feel good for as long as possible.  Several years ago I went and had breast implants because I felt like my shoulders were too broad for my size B-cup boobs.  I was very insecure about my breasts, especially because I noticed that most men were into larger breasts.  I tell people I had this surgery done for myself, but the truth is, I wanted to feel better about myself through the likes of men, and I also wanted to appear more confident than I felt inside.  Instead of accepting my body the way it was, I transformed it.  I don’t exactly have regrets, but often I notice the way men look at them and sexualize me rather than notice other things about me, like how I articulate myself.  I have gotten to a place in my life where I do not think much about my breasts at all.  More important to me is how present I am in any given situation.  I think about the state of my soul more than I care about the way my breasts appear.  I care about laughing and about noticing the beauty in the world.  I care about what comes up for me emotionally through the mirrors of other people.  The inner body is much more real to me than the one that is going to eventually grow old and wither.  When I go out in the world now, I am not thinking about attracting men.  I am much more interested in the magic of being alive.  I am fulfilled as a human being – as a confident woman.  I no longer need the acceptance of a man to help me feel good, or better about myself.  In fact, there hasn’t been a man yet who’s come along and offered me more confidence and love than I have for myself today.

I’ve had plenty of boyfriends who’ve told me I was beautiful when I didn’t think I was beautiful, and their compliments never penetrated my being the way I feel about myself now. Some of those men did not hesitate to tear me apart when our relationship was not working out in the end. If I had valued myself through their lustful eyes, I would have also devalued myself when they were knocking me down. I knew better. I knew I was worth more than a man’s shifty opinion of me.

How did I get to the point of genuine self-acceptance? I stopped fucking lying to myself about everything.  I looked past my facade. I stopped acting happy when I was angry.  I stopped “being nice” when I was feeling annoyed.  I began knowing myself through the wave of my emotions.  I listened to my negative thinking and got interested in my behaviors.  I stopped conforming to the outside world and became a watcher of my inner world.  I stopped distracting myself from my pain and began sitting with the pain.  It fucken hurt and I continued sitting with it.  I cried a lot.  I stopped being fake and just started getting real with myself.  I stopped telling myself that I was all of these positive things that were not true, including the one where I said I felt good about myself.  I was a liar.  I was a manipulator.  I was scared as shit about everything and everyone. I hated myself. I hated myself. I hated myself. I rejected myself although I spent years perfecting an image that looked like I was incredibly confident about who I was. All lies. I was terrified.

Stop worrying about shedding weight and begin focusing on shedding all the bullshit you tell yourself. You are not a victim. If you haven’t FELT yourself through your emotions, then you don’t know yourself, and if you don’t know yourself, you cannot accept yourself.  Stop hiding from your pain.  When people brought up raw emotion for me, I thought they were my enemies until I realized that the raw emotion was mine. If pain was coming up for me through other people’s words, then those people were merely guides pointing me back to myself so that I could see myself for what I was.  I stopped running from the raw emotion and began getting curious about it.  It came up for me a lot – for several years – and sometimes it still comes up, but I don’t reject it or resist it anymore.  I welcome it.  I welcome it because it’s coming up so that it can clear out, so that I can be the whole person that I truly am.  I faced myself.  I faced my demons.  I stopped being afraid of the inner universe and began exploring it.  THAT’s how I’ve come to love myself.  That’s how I’ve learned acceptance for ME. 

When people poke and prod at me now, and bring up things I used to be insecure about – I can actually laugh with them instead of getting defensive.  YES I know I’m controlling.  HA HA HA!  Yes these boobs are fake! Ha! I know that about myself and I am working on the character defects, but you cannot hurt me by pointing them out.  I’m aware of these things about myself and I accept myself for all of my character defects.  After all, they are not who I am. I’m growing every day and walking more and more in the awareness of my soul, rather than in the fragments of my mind.  So again, I don’t give a shit about what men think about me or my body.  I don’t even think of men much anymore (not that I’ve gone rebelliously lesbian – I’ve just got a lot more going on now than needing a man in my life).  I’ve never gotten my confidence through them.  Through facing myself in all my emotional facets – through being aware of my thought patterns and behaviors – I’ve become not only confident about myself, I’ve also discovered my wholeness and completeness.

“Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top,” may sound good in theory, but I seriously doubt it rings true to many women out there because many of us are lying to ourselves about how we truly feel inside.  And if you don’t feel good on the inside, you cannot feel genuinely good about what you’re rocking on the outside.  Do you even know how you appear to others when you look perfect on the outside, yet you lack inner confidence? You look like an insecure, self-centered narcissist who spends way too much time in the mirror. People see right through that shit and it is incredibly unattractive.

Self-awareness is the path to self-acceptance.  It takes a lot of work and a lot of courage to enter into yourself, but if you want to walk out of your house each morning not just saying you’re confident, but actually BEING confident, take the inner journey.  Be the brave and self-assured woman that you claim you are.  Put your money where your mouth is.  Take a full inventory of yourself and after you realize who you really are beneath the façade, you will discover that you are lacking NOTHING.  You are EVERYTHING my dear, but it’s up to you to truly FEEL this about yourself instead of just portraying it to the world.  When you truly accept yourself, and truly love who you are, you will see through people’s bullshit like never before, and all those men that you long to attract now will seem like monkeys to you at that point.  You will realize how absurd it is to get acceptance from people who do not even truly accept themselves. You’ll understand how much more you deserve and you will value yourself enough to stay single until the right person comes along and enhances what you already have.  You don’t need a man to validate you.  You need to stop listening to these ridiculous songs about rocking your curves for the boys, and get beneath the skin of yourself.  Transform yourself from the inside out and your beautiful soul will eventually shine through.

P.S. For men reading this who feel yourself offended, you need to do an inventory of yourself too. Women have been defining themselves through the eyes of men for way too long, and if you haven’t noticed this planet is unbalanced as hell. Stop sexulizing everything. Utilize your life for something worth living for, which is certainly not just sex. Make something of yourself. God gave you a whole body and mind, yet all you think about is your penis and what turns you on. We are over it already. While you’ve been jacking-off to porn, this world has gone to shit. There are greater things to accomplish in this lifetime. Wake the fuck up.

http://www.amazon.com/J.L.-Forbes/e/B00HS980ZI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1414348436&sr=1-1

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!)

Accepting the Yin and Yang of Ourselves and Channeling Emotion Through Art

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I’ve been watching the series ‘Dexter’ on Netflix.  Though the plot in this show demented, I’m a huge fan of the writing and the profound insight of the narration.  When I watch any sort of television, or sit through movies, I’m interested in the art of the writing, the talent of the actors and the message being relayed.  Rarely do I sit and watch TV for entertainment purposes only.  I’m drawn to dark expressions of art, including (but not limited to) sorcery, psychological thrillers and intelligently written horror (which is rare to find, I know).  If a well-written movie ends in a sinister manner, I want to stand up and clap at the end.  There is nothing like a sharp blow to the senses to get me feeling something intense from within.  I like it when something outside of myself creates a little friction inside of my own body.  It wakes up, gets me thinking and makes me feel alive.  There is no shame in this.  Those entertainers are merely funneling their anger into art.  If people don’t like it, they don’t have to watch, listen, or expose themselves to the artists fury.  There is no harm in the expression of anger when it is being channeled creatively.  We all have a dark side; just some of us are afraid to express it, while others express it destructively.  There is a happy-medium, and it’s called art.

For the longest time, I have been afraid to express my own anger, so it often comes out in a destructive manner.  In treatment, they taught us to sit with our rage, but all I could think about while I was sitting there, was running to a batting cage and slamming some balls across a field.  I also thought it would have been a good idea if they invested in some punching bags.  Anger is difficult for anyone to sit through.  When I am steaming with anger, sometimes I go on a long run to diffuse the energy, but this is not always possible depending on where I am when I’m fuming.  Finally, I’m accepting the fact that I’m often frustrated, annoyed and irritated.  Anger rears it’s ugly head through the likes of my sarcasm, and in random bursts of rage. It hasn’t done me any good to hide this fact about myself.  It comes out one way or another, and I go from being Zen, to being a complete asshole.  This is not cool at all, especially when others are on the receiving end.  I’m not bi-polar, I swear.  I simply haven’t learned how to express my anger in a constructive manner.  It isn’t proper to be angry, you see, so I’ve been conditioned to suppress these dark emotions. 

This is all about to change.

I’m in acceptance of my anger.  It’s fine.  I’m not judging it anymore.  It doesn’t matter where it derived from.  It could even be carried out from a previous lifetime for all I know.  The bottom line is that it’s a part of me that I’ve heedlessly rejected because of shame, but that shame no longer serves me, and the anger doesn’t disappear when I ignore it.  So what am I going to do about it?   I’m already doing it.  I’m writing a dark series of books.  They are twisted, demented, entertaining, extreme and shocking.  I don’t even feel like I’m writing them as they seep through my fingers onto my keyboard… and the release… it’s incredible! I am giving myself permission to explore this “dark passenger” of myself. I’m slowly releasing the rage before it evolves into destruction, like small trembles in the earth that release seismic pressure, which provide relief from a major earthquake.
We tend to judge people who have a dark expression, but the truth is, they are simply aware of their demons, and rather than rejecting them, or letting them get out of control, they have learned a constructive way to channel them. 

Art is the most sacred expression of emotion.  It’s the bridge between the soul and the human being.  The gift of being an artist, is being able to express my dark side without bringing any harm into the world.  And the amazing part about channeling my anger into a series of books… is that it’s fun! If people walk around believing that they are strictly filled with rainbows and unicorns, or that they don’t have a dark side (we are all made up of yin and yang, remember), then they are in denial of themselves.  Suppressed anger will come out eventually, whether behind closed doors or in the daylight for the world to see.  The sad part about the suppression, is that it usually causes harm to others.  I know this from experience.

The weekend is approaching, and I will be busy doing other things besides blogging, so although this isn’t my usual positive message for the day, I hope my readers take the morsel of truth they find here and savor it.  To lighten the mood, here is a little poem I wrote regarding this topic:

THE ARTIST’S WAY

In the hollows of emotion

Lies a significant mountain

Where an Artist must endure

The Dancer discovers her balance

And a Philosopher realizes rest

Is allied with Wisdom

A Dreamer will awaken

In the perils of fear

A Writer’s fervor ignites

As he allots revenge to nature

Painters muse in both love’s spell

And tragedy’s bluster

In regards to pain and bliss

There is no difference

In the Poet’s sentiment

Each carries marvel

Every emotional depth and pike

Embodies great insight

Revealing itself

Through brilliant Human artistry

 

 

 

 

Don’t Worry. About a Thing…

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Just recently I was able to introduce my eleven year old daughter to Bob Marley.  This was a proud day for me to share with her;  playing music with her that has brought me great joy since I was a kid.  While we discussed his music and his message of hope, she recognized the song, “Don’t Worry Be Happy.”  Of course she did!  Who doesn’t find themselves smiling, singing, movin’ and groovin’ to this simple tune every now and then?  It simply resonates with our souls.  Generations have grown up to these simple and sacred words.  This song was destined to be written.  It was already in the stars awaiting formation when good ole’ Mr. Marley came along and took the grand opportunity to embrace the universe with his music.

It applies to everything doesn’t it?  Yesterday I was talking to a friend in jail who is awaiting his destiny via the judge.  He’s been sitting there for months while the court takes their sweet time to give him a “yay” or “nay” on rehabilitation versus a pretty wretched prison sentence.  I know he’s antsy and nervous about the whole thing, but he is safe right now, off the streets and sober.  Although it’s not the ideal setting to be behind bars, there are three meals a day, a place to sleep, and showers.  Many people don’t even have the luxury of a warm place to sleep.  Even more people are starving everyday.  I don’t mean to downplay my friends anguish, but when I was in rehab for my alcoholism, embraced by the walls of an institution, I thanked God everyday that I was still alive, and that I could still feel joy even if it was through the likes of a small thing like being able to sleep through a night with covers to keep me warm.  I was humbled in that place of refuge, and brought face to face with the fact that life isn’t about what you have, who you know, or your social status.  When these precious things are ruthlessly removed from our lives, we quickly discover that we are still here.  We don’t fade out, or disappear when our world comes crashing down.  On the contrary… we are quite THERE and vibrantly alive in our rawness and humiliation, and we are closer to God or our Higher Power, than we have ever been.

Some of us have wandered around in life with everything, still vacant inside from a lack of a higher power.  We asked God to show up, and when this occurs, it’s usually not in the form of a burning bush.  No, we usually discover God in a place of humility, often followed by significant pain and sorrow.  When we are stripped of the things that we made out to be so important, we have nothing left except for ourselves.  It is then that we become fully aware of our completeness in this place of ultimate surrender.  Some of us keep our arrogance even after the fact, but this is merely an image too, and once this is finally shed, we discover our wholeness underneath all the masks we uphold to obscure our beautiful vulnerability.

What does any of this have to do with Bob Marley?  It’s his powerful message that speaks to our souls.  “Don’t worry.  About a thing.  Cause’ every little thing is going to be alright…”  Whether you are just becoming sober for the very first time, or recovering from an awful relapse, no matter what you encounter in your life; when you come to a place of total surrender, you are immediately safe.  Humility is the universe’s way of getting our attention and reminding us that we are naturally taken care of.  We don’t have to be in charge nor should we sweat anything, because everything we need is already set in motion.  All the goodness we desire, is simply awaiting our acceptance, but we need to get out of our own way in order for the good to arrive.  This is such a beautiful place to be, no matter where it occurs, because it is a place of total acceptance of all that is.  When we are in this place, there is no need to worry about a thing.  I think this is what Mr. Marley was divinely conveying to us through lyrics about three little birds. You see, they are free, and in harmony, because they trust all that was given to them without interfering with the natural flow of things. In the eyes of God, are we not more important than the birds? Exactly.

“Don’t worry.  About a thing…. Cause’ every little thing is gonna be alright!” What an empowering place to be!

Fears of Quitting – Will I Have Fun in Recovery?

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This is one of the most common questions I’m asked when I speak to clients in the treatment center. The short answer is, “Yes. If I wasn’t having fun in my sobriety, I would not be sober today. What would be the point?” Enjoying life without drugs or alcohol boggles the addicts mind, but if you’re at the brink of becoming sober, I seriously doubt that your addiction has been a barrel of laughs lately. We don’t decide to get sober because life is so much fun in our addiction. It’s exactly the opposite.

The first few months of recovery, for many of us, are the most difficult, but mostly because your body is still recovering itself, and you are deficient of a natural chemical called, Dopamine. This is the “feel good” fluid that is produced naturally, but has been abused by your drug of choice. When you take your drugs or drink your alcohol, you are inducing the Dopamine effect, and you feel very high. When the high depreciates, your Dopamine levels drop. It takes time to recover physically from abusing your Dopamine release. Once the Dopamine replenishes, you will feel less foggy, and a more chipper. For alcoholics, this takes about a month. For opiate users, it can take three to six months. It is different for everyone, but once you stop using, be patient with your body and accept the consequences of your actions. It will get better, and you will feel “normal” before you know it. Exercising accelerates the process. For me, running helped immensely.

When your body has re-acclimated and the chemicals have rebalanced, you may feel a natural high. AA calls this the “pink cloud” effect. I have my own opinion on this. They say the pink cloud doesn’t last. It’s been two and a half years for me, and I’m still feeling pretty amazing. Don’t buy into a belief that the good feelings don’t last. If you have been high, drunk and hung over for several years, waking up feeling balanced everyday, is a frigging party, if you ask me. I’m human, and I have mood swings, but my lowest days sober are still better than any unpredictable feelings I had while abusing alcohol.

And what about FUN in daily activities? Yes… yes… I’m getting to that. We spend years using to enhance our experiences, but how many of those experiences have we forgotten? How many of them are foggy to remember? How many of them were black outs? My years of drinking are patchy, so when I think back to “having fun,” it’s just me believing that I must have had fun. I don’t remember much of anything, except for the times I embarrassed myself.

In sobriety, most of us learn to be very present in our lives. Being present is kind of a high in itself, like a toddler exploring the world. Do you remember when you were a child, and everything was cool, exciting and simple? You were an explorer of your universe. You used your imagination and created things. You weren’t using drugs or drinking then, but life was pretty easy going. This is the exciting part of getting sober… it’s a lot like becoming a child again. You get to experience life through new eyes, and with a whole new perception. You get to discover who you are, what you enjoy, and finally there is space in your life to do things you never made time for doing while you were using. Your addiction took up most of your time, so here you are now with tons of space to do whatever it is you neglected. Pick up a guitar, go on a bike ride, check out some caves, drive to the mountains, run several miles, join a gym, read classic novels, go back to school, get a degree, jump out of a plane (with a parachute of course), check out the planets through a telescope, play tennis, swim in a lake… THERE ARE NO LIMITS! You are finally in control of your life, and you get to create it however you’d like.

If you don’t feel like doing any of this stuff yet, maybe it’s time to get to know yourself again. Take life slow and dedicate yourself to a new relationship with YOU. Be kind, compassionate and patient with yourself. Buy yourself fresh flowers, or cook yourself a delicious meal. Begin treating yourself like you love YOU. Find out what you like and don’t like. Discover what makes you laugh, and take it really easy. In sobriety, there is so much space to take your time and explore the world; inside and outside. And the best part is, you will remember it!

We all experience life uniquely, so do not judge yourself for feelings of depression, or insecurities that come up the first year or two. Simply accept everything as it comes, and trust that you will discover enjoyment and fulfillment unlike anything you had in your addiction.