Dealt a Bad Hand of Cards? The Good News Is… We All Were

Hand of Cards

A friend of mine was telling me about a woman who died of heartache after her son committed suicide.  He placed part of the blame on her in the note he wrote before killing himself.  Sadly he was in such a poor state of mind, that he probably didn’t realize his words would destroy his mother.  Even if he did do it intentionally at the time, it was not an act of good reasoning.  He wrote something and reacted to life during the moment it was eating him alive.  I don’t know anything about him, but I know from experience that life can feel like it’s swallowing you whole at times, especially if you are suffering in addiction or with mental illness.  I don’t know if this young man was, but he certainly felt like a victim.  His mother, in turn, succumbed to his victimization.

I recall a time in my life when I felt like I was dealt a hand of shitty cards, and was pissed that I was stuck with them.  Instead of playing them, I threw them down and ran away from the table (a.k.a. life – myself).  I had no idea at the time, how strong, sharp, courageous, or creative I was.  I also had no clue about something very significant, that I understand now.  I was not only the player holding this hand of cards, but I was also the dealer.  Everyone sitting around that card table of life, was me in another form.  Everyone at the table is playing a role and most of us are bluffing without even knowing it.

When we’re born, we immediately wake up in this plane of reality surrounded in circumstances.  Some of us are lucky to be born in a loving home under a nice roof in a country that’s basically free, while others are not so lucky.  Either way, it’s how you think about things that determine your experience.  There are self-destructive addicts that come from a loving home in a free country, and there are brilliant people who are changing the world for the better, who have derived from poverty and abuse.  It’s not the circumstances that mold the outcome of your life.  It’s how you think and how you respond to your experiences that create your life.  If something terrible happened to me today, and I was thrown in prison, I could either go in there as a victim and mold myself into the negativity, or I could make the best out of the situation and remain a positive influence on the other women.

We always have a choice in life.  It’s not just a hand of cards that we are dealt.  It’s knowing that the hand is an opportunity to be strategic and willing to play the game.  Any of us can fold at any given time. Most of us carry on and hope for the best, but what if you knew something that other people don’t know about the game?  What if you realize that you are the one dealing the cards, and you understand that this whole experience is all a bluff?  What if you wake up one day with the same shitty hand of cards and you pay more attention to your anger about the cards, than dwelling on the cards themselves?  What if you look at the cards you are dealt, along with the smirks on the faces of the other players, and you suddenly know your agony?  What happens then? You wake up. You realize the game is a farce.  It’s a set up.  It’s set up to piss you off, to make you feel like a victim, to break you down, and to finally turn you inward.  It’s here to make you figure out something beyond the game.  There are hints along the way, but we get so caught up in the game that we completely lose ourselves.  We forget what we are constantly dealing with, which has nothing to do with other players, or the cards (the circumstances).  These are all merely reflections of something greater.  When you get this, you can either continue playing the game with a smile on your face, knowing it’s all a bluff, or you can stand up at the table (life), take a bow for your performance in the game, and move on with the understanding that you can now create whatever it is you want from here on out.  You aren’t stuck at that table.  You have a choice to move along to new experiences, but first you must recognize yourself in every aspect of each experience you are having, and in each person you meet.  Then an only then will you understand that you have never been a victim of a bad hand of cards.  You were simply the dealer disguising yourself as a frustrated player, in order to wake up and realize that you are truly the dealer.

I know a lot of people that succumb to an idea that life is filled with adversity in order to remind us that there is a god, and that we can count on him.  That’s part of it.  It’s always good to know that there is a bigger picture, but it’s better to know that you have a responsibility while you are here.  If you throw your hands to God and decide to suffer because you think it’s “His will,” then you aren’t fully getting it.  The idea is to overcome your suffering by understanding that this whole gig is a set up to discover your freedom.  The suffering is like a bad hand of cards.  When you notice your suffering, rather than the bad hand of cards, then you are getting somewhere.  That somewhere is the place that you came here to discover.  It feels like home, because it is.

There is nothing outside of yourself that is more brilliant or better off than what you’ve brought to the table.  No one else’s hand of cards are better than yours.  It only appears that way so that your frustration emanates something very clear.  When you realize what you’ve brought to the table, you understand that the cards were merely a tool along your journey of self-discovery, and you’ll get up and thank all those players in your life who were bluffing to show you the way to yourself.  Most people remain caught up in the game.  Let them be.  Now that you know, you are set free.

The Answer to Your Problems is “Be of Service”

Be Of Service

When things feel out of control and when life feels like more of a labyrinth than a walk in the park, it can really throw us off.  I had this experience in December and it got the best of me until I stood alone in nature and pretty much threw my hands up to the universe.  “I have absolutely no control, and you know what?  I don’t want control, so once again, I surrender.  Let me be a vessel…”  These were pretty much my words.  I have this convo with God a lot in life (I’ve noticed).  I’m always getting ahead of myself.  My wants and needs become crucial, while the simple things in life get tossed aside and overlooked.  I want everything NOW.  Or at least in my timing, which means that I am way behind in where I thought I should be by now.  Yet when I stop all my whining and nonsense, I realize that all of that chaos is in my mind.  Nothing is falling apart right this second.  Everything is going fairly smoothly.  I feel a little bit raw, and where I want to be is rubbing up against where I am, but to know where I want to go is essential.  It is the vision that will get me there, not the drudging to get there.  I don’t have to drudge.  I simply have to know where I’m headed and surrender to the moment.  I need to trust that I’m being guided along the way, and perhaps the universe moves a lot more casually than I desire, but that’s none of my business.  I’m simply a vessel, remember?

I had a dream last night that all of these people were cramming into one house, and I wasted all my time trying to figure out where I was going to sleep, while trying to keep all my belongings in one place, but it was impossible to control the chaos.  People were arriving and more stuff was being crammed into this one house.  There were animals in cages that were hanging outside of their cages because there was no more room.  It was crazy.  Toward the end of the dream, I didn’t know where any of my stuff was, but it was no longer important to me.  People needed guidance and they kept asking me for direction.  I stopped all my worry and just started helping the people.  When I started being of service, all the chaos happening was no big deal.  I felt centered.  When I got a moment, I decided to do some exploring, and I ended up in the back yard where there was a pride of lions.  There were so many lions – male, female and tons of cubs.  I took a photo of the pride and posted on Facebook, “These lions are right in my own back yard.”  I woke up and realized the power in that statement.

Lions represent courage, strength and power.  I have been dreaming about lions a lot.  In my dream there were male and female, which is yin and yang.  All of these people and animals were inside one house.  Everything in that house represents aspects of myself coming together.  This last month was so confusing to me, and chaotic, but once I surrendered and just centered myself in the moment, everything I needed (strength, courage, power) was in my own back yard.  (Perhaps the pride was a pun for my own pride that has often held me hostage).  There is never anything outside of myself that I need.  It’s all in one place in the here and now.  If we are confused, overwhelmed, scared and feeling powerless, the best thing we can do is surrender to it and be of service to others.  I have been asking the universe what I need to do to be of service, and the answer is right here right now.  My own job is service oriented.  I can be of service to my children and my roommate.  I don’t have to go to a homeless shelter to be of service, although that would be fine too.  If we can practice being of service right where we are right now, it will remove us from our confusion, immediately.

Sometimes we have to go through monotonous days so that we know what we don’t want, in order to visualize what we do want.  Often we feel overwhelmed so that we can re-evaluate our course.  When confusion throws us off, it is a good time to let go and do something for someone else.  Being of service is the quickest way to becoming grounded.  Give what you think you don’t have.  Be what you think you lack.  Know that the answer is always in your own back yard.  You are not separate from what you need, ever.  It may not be clear in the moment, but if you can just remind yourself to be of service to someone else, you will not only forget about the chaos, but you will become centered enough to receive the clarity you need.  It may feel like you are going nowhere, which can be frustrating, but nowhere is exactly where answers to your deepest questions await your awareness.  In recovery, it’s not about reaching the top of the mountain.  It’s simply about being aware of the moment.  We can very well climb that mountain, but when we get there, we will discover it was all a mirage.  There are more mountains to climb.  The journey is never-ending, so the universe laughs when we get ahead of ourselves.  There is nothing to achieve.  It’s all about now.  Who are you helping?  Who are you being?  How often are you letting go and simply being open to receiving?  What is your vision?  Do you even have a vision?  If you don’t, then get one.  With a vision, you will be guided.  Without vision, you will be easily misguided.  We simply need to focus on where we want to be, and then open ourselves up to moving toward that place, knowing that how we get there is none of our business.  That’s where I am today.  I know what I want.  I know what I don’t want, but while I’m feeling raw between the two, I’m going to put my head down and help others, even if it’s simply helping my daughter get ready in the morning because she’s running late.  That’s where it’s at.  I know it sounds mediocre, but to get anywhere, we have to embrace each moment as if it’s the path toward our vision, because it truly is.

From A-Z Why Recovery is Easier than Addiction

Ultimate Freedom

Acceptance and Awareness

Better perception of reality

Clarity

Doing what you dig

Experiencing emotions

Freedom from fear

Growth (mental, emotional, spiritual)

Having choices

Intelligent decisions

Just being yourself

Kindness toward yourself and others

Laughing comes easier

Mindfulness

No hangovers

Open to life

Playfulness

Quiet mind

Restful instead of restless

Surrendering to what you have no control over

Terrific sleep

Unity with yourself and others

Valuing yourself

World opens up for you

X marks the spot for new beginnings

You (underneath all those layers)

Zeal for life

“Do Not Conform to the World, But Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind…” (This is a constant)

Thinking

We underestimate ourselves, and settle for way less than optimum. From a very young age we are conditioned to think that life is mostly against us, while being ignorantly taught “survival of the fittest,” although this statement was never coined by the late Charles Darwin, who not only studied the theory that life struggles to remain alive, but later confirmed that this was not so. He determined the reason why life continues living, is definitely not because it fights. It’s because it adapts to its environment and goes with the flow. Harmony allows life to thrive on this planet – not competition. It is not the strongest creatures on this planet who thrive here. Those that collaborate with their environment, are the ones who flourish.

Our most idolized scientists of late (including Stephen Hawking who is still profoundly alive), study their own theories so thoroughly, that they prove themselves wrong, and end up opening another one of Pandora’s boxes in nature. It seems that there is no solid, fundamental particle that gives us the true make-up of life, although science has been trying to pin the source of life down for centuries. Even the Higgs Boson field (discovered in July 2012 – a.k.a. “God Particle”) is incredibly subjective and “unstable.” What is being discovered, is that consciousness and human intention plays a significant role in how subatomic particles (like quarks) navigate. It is within a human being’s innate power, to observe and create their own experience by what they focus on during the experience. Over and over, science has proven that human consciousness plays a direct role in how an experiment unfolds. Results of several experiments are subjective, according to whom the observer is during the experiment, and according to what they believe while they are performing the experiment.

We have be un-empowered in this society, believing that we must compete in order to thrive in the world. We must work hard, and struggle if we are going to succeed. (Does “divide and conquer” ring any bells? What a great way to control society, so that individuals don’t realize their true nature). It is a competitive culture we live in, but we all end up in the same boat – “From ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” There are many people who have had it all, just to discover that money and power doesn’t equal joy. If you compete your way through life, there is no end to the competition. There will always be someone richer, better, prettier, etc. If this is your goal, then it is completely unobtainable, and if your goal is to live the “American Dream,” then you are selling yourself incredibly short. That material way of thinking is terribly unfulfilling. Our nature is to create, to evolve, and to thrive. In order to thrive, we must be open to life. If you have a strict opinion or belief about anything, then you are shutting yourself off from the incredible journey of being. Life is subjective, according to the observer. Life moves and unfolds according to how you think. If you are open to great things, then great things will occur for you. If you are shut down and opinionated, then life will be very small, and you will probably discover yourself agitated when things don’t go your way.

People are so busy pointing fingers at what is wrong in this world, fixated on the problems of society, and praying for God to deliver the planet from corruption, that they are too blind to see that their own human power, when focused and directed with total consciousness, has the power akin to the light of the sun. One human being has the power to illuminate the entire world. Some people are so arrogant to think that they have solely been blessed by God with special gifts and powers, but the truth is, we all have consciousness, which means we all have the innate power to change the course of humanity.

Rather than competing to be right, contending to be the best, or fixating on the problems of society, we should focus our energy on healing disease, and breaking down the walls of institutionalized thinking. You cannot place a box around life and expect it to flourish. God does not reside inside of a church, and the answers (which are always subjective) are not discovered within the walls of a classroom. You cannot pinpoint the truth, because it is always flowing and moving and changing according to the observer. God is not one thing, or several. God is, which means that you can’t grab God and label God and identify God’s source. It will never happen.

Your own consciousness defines and determines your experience of life. You can either package your life up into an ideal, or allow it to flow, evolve and thrive. You can focus your energy on a standard way of living, or open yourself up to a spectacular way of being. There are no limits to what can occur when you are open. You completely limit yourself when you are convinced about anything. Life is incredibly subjective. We have the power to move mountains, so why are so we fixated on mediocrity? Soon we will understand how ignorant we have been all along, now that science is realizing that consciousness is the very fabric of our existence.

How you think, and what you believe, determines the result of your life experience. If you want greater things, then it is up to you to be open to those greater things. It is not going to appear out of the sky in the blink of an eye from someone outside of yourself. You are determining your life experience right now. The more love you give, the more you will receive. The more support you give, the more you will receive. The more compassion you give, the more you will receive. I had a big wake-up call the other day when two people told me that I was responsible for my own success. My success is subjective to how I think about myself, not how society thinks about me. If I think it is subject to how society thinks of me, then I am completely stifling myself from my full potential. If we have the power to move subatomic particles on a fundamental level, then imagine our power on a universal scale.

We underestimate ourselves because this is what we have been conditioned to do in our society. The people in the world who are of greatest influence, are those that do not subject themselves to one way of thinking, but open themselves up to possibilities beyond measure. This can be you, but it is clearly up to you to get out of the box and flourish. How boring we have become in America. We are creatures of habit, and parrots of our predecessors, rather than realizing our own dynamic potential. Why so much addiction and mental illness? Because we are completely going against nature, and it is driving us mad. There is so much more to life, but we have cultivated a society of limitations, laws, with an institutionalized way of thinking. What for? I don’t exactly know, but I certainly don’t want any part of it. I am not afraid to walk against the crowd if it means that I get to discover something beyond that which I’ve been taught. I don’t want to be told – I long to discover. I want the magic, not the material.

There is magic to behold. It is up to each person to realize their full potential. If you are tired of your life, then change your thinking around it. Do something different. Be open to a subjective existence rather than being stuck in the familiarity of your conditioning. All those beautiful stories in the Bible are illustrations of the human potential, yet we’ve ignorantly condensed them into a religious belief system. Even the interpretation of such texts is incredibly subjective. Don’t you see? It is through your vision that the world expands. It is your belief that determines your reality. The only limitations are our own.

If technology is synthetic of nature (and I propose it is), then as you can see, there are no limitations to what will evolve out of technology. Likewise nature is non-absolute. It is subject to interpretation and open to our imaginations. There is so much more to this existence merely than having a career, reproducing, retiring and dying. Don’t you agree? So if you’re bored like I was, in this institutionalized society, then might I suggest that you go a little bit deeper? Learn about who you truly are on a conscious level, and do experiments with intention. Practice giving yourself what you are looking for outside of yourself. Go the distance in your lifetime. If you are straight, gay, transsexual, Muslim, Christian, disabled, female, male, an addict in recovery, or simply feeling lost because you don’t know who you are, then you are clearly a human being with a brilliant mind who has the ability to move mountains, simply by directing your mind to greater awareness. Your differences are more about how you think, than they are about how you label yourself.

“Be not conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2)  This is a empowering scripture. We can transform anything by simply changing our thinking, and we should continually be changing our thinking if we want to be constantly renewed.

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

Miracle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embracing Your Quirks Along with Your Qualities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!)