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

Cover for In Lieu of a Dragon Tale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heart and Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Important to Know Your Limitations

Limitations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think Positive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Your Direction Purely Consumption?

Consumption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

birds and bees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Most Difficult Thing to Ever See is Yourself

Hypocrite

“Clean up your side of the street.” – AA

“You hypocrite!  First take the plank out of your own eye so that you can see clearly, and then you can help remove the spec in your brother’s eye” – Jesus

It’s funny how clearly I can see other people’s problems while avoiding my own.  This is universal.  In the grand landscape of life, the most difficult thing to see is yourself.  I know now when I am judging another person, that I am most likely avoiding something in myself that needs immediate attention.  I could waste hours stewing over another persons “lack thereof” or I can quickly turn the tables on myself and look at where I need to do some major inside renovations.  When I start cleaning up my side of the street instead of trying to give that other person a broom and a scolding, I realize that my side of the street is pretty filthy.  I can sweep all day long and never quite finish.  It also relieves me from the burden of carrying around and pointing out that other person’s “issues.”

Self-righteousness comes in forms of “I would never do that,” or “that’s not how I would ever do that,” or “if that was me I would… (fill in the blank).”  We have a tendency to look down on other people’s choices, often forgetting where we came from.  It’s nearly gut-wrenching hysterical that I (the former self-destructive alcoholic) can be so judgmental of anyone else, but I catch myself being self-righteous more than I want to admit.  It’s so ignorant of me, but at least (most of the time) I am aware of it.  I know when I’m experiencing myself get angry, annoyed, frustrated or controlling over another person’s way of being, that I need to grab a broom and dustpan immediately.  As painful as it may be, it’s a really good time to do some internal plank pulling.  It’s embarrassing how big my plank truly is – but a good reminder of humility.

People don’t change when you point out their shit anyway.  It just offends them and usually hurts them.  Most people are not in recovery, so they aren’t working on themselves or trying to change their behaviors in order to remain sober.  Most people (I’ve noticed) don’t want to know the truth, but it is difficult when you begin working on yourself to see other people’s behaviors so clearly.  It’s frustrating to watch a person make mistakes that you’ve made in the past, but important to recall what it was like to be so blind and limited in your hindsight.  It’s like Holden in the book ‘The Catcher and the Rye’ – he just wants to catch the children and save them from corruption.  When we are working on ourselves, we have this inner need to want to change others, but this is not our job.  We need to continue working on ourselves and reminding ourselves that we still need a lot of work.  Everyone is on their own path and unless they ask for your guidance, it’s important to give them the space, compassion and your acceptance while they are on their journey.

When I begin cleaning up my side of the street (removing the plank from my eye), the focus is quickly taken from the other person – to  me.  It’s kind of a relief actually.  I honestly don’t have the time or energy to worry about others.  I have enough on my plate as it is, and also it causes me to get out of alignment with my center when I am focused on another person’s issues.  When I am out of alignment it seems like everything goes wrong for me.  Remaining centered is important to me because it brings me to my wholeness.  Although I have things to work on, I can work on myself while remaining balanced.  If I am worried about other people and what they are doing, I immediately feel my balance waiver.

Being blind to our own self is the human condition.  Jesus could have very well used an analogy of having a plank in your heart, or your foot, but he spoke of the eye because as human beings, we are very blind – especially to ourselves.  It is easy to see another person’s problems, but to see our own is like seeing the world behind us when we are walking forward.  It takes a lot of effort and self-discipline to see ourselves, but when we do stop to notice ourselves – all that self-righteousness falls to the ground.  Handling that ole plank is a good place to be.  It’s a great place to remain.  It keeps me from feeling frustrated with other people.  It helps me remain balanced.  It teaches me to lighten up and to relax.  It is never another person that is frustrating me.  It is ALWAYS me who is experiencing frustration because I forget to see myself.  I forget all the time.  I constantly need a reminder, which is why I wrote this today.  It’s more for myself than for anyone else!

P.S. To my loyal readers, I wrote a children’s adventure novel about the human condition, and so far, the adults love it just as much as the kids.  It just underwent a major facelift, both inside and out.  Here is the link for downloading, or you can get it in paperback:  http://www.amazon.com/MAJESTIC-WONDERBREAD-Earthbound-Seeking-Treasure-ebook/dp/B00DGZPXPI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1411997419&sr=8-2&keywords=majestic+wonderbread

Do You Believe in Magic?

Magic

About four years ago I went into a thirty-day treatment program near my hometown, which did me absolutely no good for keeping me sober, but what it did provide was an opportunity for laughter and play – something I hadn’t experienced in several years.  I went in there terribly depressed, you see, and left the day a rainbow appeared across the land in the west.  Perhaps it was my sign to go west (which I have) but at the time, I thought of it as the universe’s way of saying that I’m being guided (and I am).  The day I left, the counsellors gave me an opportunity to stand up and share something with the large group of recovering addicts.  I was not afraid to stand up and share with them what I had gotten out of the program.  I was well accepted in there, which was a strange thing because many of them were federal prisoners and others were from parts of town that I would have avoided when I was younger.   I am white as white can be with red hair and freckles.  I was the minority in this setting.  It was a rough group, but I managed to make short-term friends and to have fun while I was in there.  The one thing about being in recovery is that it levels us out.  As a whole, we are quite accepting of others.

Because there was a rainbow spread across the sky, which everyone admired that morning, I decided to use it in my speech as an opening and also in my conclusion.  My memory of the speech is vague, but I do know I told the group that all I wanted in life was to become the best possible version of me.  I said that it was important to me to live my life to its fullest, and to see how far I could go.  This is what recovery has always been to me.  Recovery isn’t just learning how to live sober.  It’s learning how to LIVE.  To BE.  To GIVE.  To RECEIVE.  It’s becoming completely OPEN.  And TRUSTING – not only the universe, but TRUSTING MYSELF.  It’s WALKING THE TALK.  It’s being WHO I TRULY AM, which is not a sloppy drunk, or a lazy dreamer who takes no action.  When I left my group of peers that day, I received a lengthy applause.  I made an impact, and it was time to mean what I’d spoken, so the journey began, but little did I know that I would drink heavily again and end up in another treatment center that taught me HOW to do everything I decided that I was going to do that day.

The magic wasn’t the demonstration of the rainbow that morning, but the way I felt when I saw its glory – how humbled I was in that moment of knowing that I was being guided.  It appeared at the exact right time – when I needed humility most.  The magic wasn’t the people who applauded when I spoke in the thirty-day program, but the ones I met in the six month treatment facility who rolled their eyes and brought me down to reality, teaching me that I was no better off than anyone else in the groups we attended.  The magic was the anger that arose when my counsellor spoke truth to my haughty ego, and the rage I felt when I didn’t get my way.  The magic was the constant scoop of humble pie, and the understanding that I was human.  The magic was me in the making, not the outside of myself that seemed like it was the real deal.  I was the real deal.  Inside of me was the whole universe, but I had yet to learn to navigate from within, rather than surviving without.

We often go through life trying to achieve what we think we lack, may it be love, money, truth or stability.  We try to rid ourselves of the things that we don’t like, forgetting that the source of EVERYTHING is one single mass of energy.  Nothing is created outside of this single source of energy, including the stuff we don’t like.  We forget that we are that very source of life, of love, of abundance, so we go out searching, misguided by the idea that we are here to obtain things, rather than to simply experience life as everything. We are everything, you see.  When we label the world by our preference of people, places and things, we discover ourselves lacking and longing, but when we walk in the world knowing that all things are created equal from that one source of energy, we understand that we lack nothing.  There is nothing to lack because all that is, is from one single source.  Once we stop discriminating and preferring, we become open to receiving the abundance that always is and always was.  When we stop resisting our experiences (because we tend to prefer happiness over grief), we understand that it is all one and the same.  We trust that all we experience is part of a greater whole, so we accept the anger as well as the laughter.  This is what recovery is becoming for me.  It’s not trying to reach my goals, but learning about myself during the journey.  It’s not becoming a best-selling author.  It’s simply loving my life as I’m writing.  I no longer prefer to be a millionaire over being a struggling artist.  I’ve only struggled when I’ve believed I was lacking something.  This, right here, right now – is lacking nothing.  It is full of emotion, of experience, of gratitude.  This right here is being present, rather than pining for something that seems out of reach.  This is what recovery has been for me.

The magic is never the illusion of a rainbow (which is only there because our eyes reflect light and images).  It is the wonder that is felt when we notice the rainbow’s presence.  It is never the person that offers us love.  It is simply the love that the person brings forth into our experience.  The magic of being human is feeling human.  It’s being so aware of who you are, that nothing outside of you can bring you anymore happiness than you already are. This is what recovery has been for me.  It’s simply been me, finally knowing ME.  And I’m not anywhere near a point of arrival in my recovery.  Everyday gives me opportunities to find out who I am, what my limits are and where I need to improve.  Every day is a great adventure into my own being, a practice of giving and receiving, and a playground of self-discovery.  I always thought when I became sober, that I would finally be happy because I would travel the world, but what I am learning, is that the world is right here, right now.  That’s the goods right there!  That’s the greatest understanding that recovery has offered me.  Acceptance of where you are right now and what you have right in front of you, is knowing abundance.  It is lacking nothing.  It is bringing forth everything you need at the exact right time.  It is where the magic resides!

Why I Am I Even Here?

I am nothing

You wanted to know me

so I showed up

in the form of you

but you constantly reject yourself

You yearned to be an expression of love

so you chose the human vessel

and you were graciously offered gifts and talents

which you have gravely neglected

You desired to grow in spirit

so you were born with challenges to overcome

and here you are cursing me

for your life being too difficult

You longed for deeper wisdom

the earth provides this to you, in all its mystery

yet you spend your time being distracted by useless things

rather than exploring everything this gracious world has to offer you

You required depth for understanding

this is the reason for your broad spectrum of emotions

yet you drown out your deepest feelings

and hate the appointed ones who draw out emotional experiences for you

You asked to experience joy beyond measure

but joy is hidden beyond fear

Instead of walk through your fear

you have made a quaint little home there

You required to know the truth

so we set up a galactic scavenger hunt

to keep you on the path throughout your life

but you have completely disregarded this path of your soul

and you have focused on the physical

instead of the abstract

you are an artist

yet you’ve chosen to be a beggar

You believe the universe is outside of you

that everything you desire is out of reach

yet you fail to see

that you are the universe

so I cannot help you

until you look in the mirror

and finally see me

this is all up to you

Leading you to water here,
The Big HP

– J. L. Forbes