Not knowing what comes next
has its benefits
something greater than me
has my back
This mystery is not a tragedy
merely a vestige to remain
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.
Acceptance and Awareness
Better perception of reality
Doing what you dig
Freedom from fear
Growth (mental, emotional, spiritual)
Just being yourself
Kindness toward yourself and others
Laughing comes easier
Open to life
Restful instead of restless
Surrendering to what you have no control over
Unity with yourself and others
World opens up for you
X marks the spot for new beginnings
You (underneath all those layers)
Zeal for life
In high school, I recall wanting to lose a bunch of weight quickly, but a doctor told me I would have to eat right and exercise for the best results. I was angry with the doctor because I wanted a pill to do all the work for me. Eventually, ephedra was hot on the market, and there I had my quick fix. I lost the 40 extra pounds I’d been carrying most of my life, and while I took the pills, I remained quite thin. The worst part about it was that I could eat like a pig and not gain a pound, so I developed terrible eating habits while using ephedra. Eventually the FDA took the pills off the market because there were a few reported deaths due to heart attacks. I was more than willing to put my life on the line to take those pills and remain a size four, but I would either have to accept my natural size ten, or figure out a way to keep the weight off organically. There is nothing on the shelves that will melt the pounds away and keep them off. Eating right and exercise is the only sustaining answer, so I had to change my mindset.
This last year, after three years of recovery, I have slowly lost weight that I gained while drinking. It has taken me six months to lose ten pounds. That sound dreadful, I know, but at least the habit of eating right and a daily exercise routine is something I have been able to maintain, not to mention that my self-esteem has increased, because doing the hard work has made me feel good about myself. If I can’t look in the mirror and accept myself for what I am right now, then there is a lot more work to do simply than a diet. More than anything, I want to be healthy, feel good and live a long life. If it takes me three more years to lose another ten or fifteen pounds, I’ve got the patience now. I know it will stay off because I’m not using a quick fix, and I fundamentally feel good about myself for once.
This morning I read an article about a vaccine for heroin addiction – a pharmaceutical that will block the cravings. This is another one of America’s short term answers to a fundamental problem in the culture. This drug could literally increase the usage of heroin. I mean, my old addict thinking is like, “Cool. Now I can try heroin because if I get addicted, I can go to the doctor to stop the cravings…” (Yeah, that’s how sick I am on an addict level). There are no sustaing quick fixes in life. As pioneers, we Americans are also incredibly backwards. We work ourselves to the bone to maintain a standard of living, and then drug ourselves into zombies in order to maintain that standard of living. None of it is fulfilling, and there is way too much pressure in our society. We’ve got to turn this around on a fundamental level.
When I was twenty-seven, I already had been married for six years, birthed two children, and maintained a stressful career for nine years. I got the children ready in the morning, did all the laundry, kept my house in tip top shape, cooked dinner most of the time, and cleaned up afterward. I was doing what I thought was “normal,” but I was miserable. I got through it with ephedra and alcohol. We all know how that ended. My husband was fighting his own demons at the time, trying to contort his natural way of being, into a standard American husband model. We both failed greatly. I don’t know how most people do it without going insane, especially if they are doing it sober. All of that keeping up with the Jones’ nonsense, felt like I was twisting my soul inside out and then flushing it down the toilet. To make things worse, some people made this lifestyle look incredibly easy, and the pressure from outside people, was terrifically constricting. I didn’t know anything about what I wanted in life, yet I was molding myself into something completely opposite of who I truly was. I’m an explorer, not a homebody. I’m creative, not regiment, like my career required of me. I’m also not keen on committed relationships. I cried a lot back then.
It takes a lot of courage to discover yourself, and all your defaults of character on a fundamental level, but some of us don’t have a choice. For some reason (perhaps a deal I made with the gods before I was born), I couldn’t ever drink myself to death, so the only solution for me was to figure out how to live my life sober without being completely miserable. Nearly four years later, here I am sober and happy. My lifestyle is nowhere near what it was in my twenties. It certainly doesn’t live up to the American standards, but I am fulfilled. I took the time to find out who I was. I explored myself and the world around me enough to know that I’ve got dreams, and hopes and yearnings. To ignore those, is futile for me. I have nightmares of people telling me, “You have a calling to be a pianist in a church…” blah blah blah. (You might as well stick a needle in my arm and call it a day). God, the last thing I need is people deciding what’s best for me, yet that’s what I did until my late twenties. Thank the gods for my rebellious nature. It eventually did me a world of good.
I truly believe that there are people who have naturally addictive personalities, just like there are those who are naturally hyper. I call that “excess energy.” It simply needs to be channeled. Put an addict to work on something they love, and you will see passion. That extra energy simply needs to be focused. Most people who have an addictive personality, are incredibly ingenuitive. You can’t put a bird in a cage and expect it to forget about flying. I hate seeing birds in cages. It’s awful. It reminds me of a creative mind being forced to learn algebra. (Kill me now…)
There is no quick fix to a fundamental problem. We need to teach our children how to channel their creative energy into what they’re passionate about. If they are drawn to horses, we shouldn’t direct them toward tap dancing just because that’s our dream. If another family has all their children in sports and your child doesn’t like sports, don’t force them to be in sports. It’s a dangerous thing we’re doing by keeping up with the Jones.’ If you hate working nine-to-five, find a way to make a living more creatively. The good thing about America is that we have a lot of choices. We shouldn’t settle, and we should never stop exploring. It is not human nature to be stagnant.
I feel like there are many people who are fundamentally unhappy, and rather than taking the time to explore ourselves, we quick fix it. Many people don’t have a drug or alcohol problem, but they eat to fill a void. This is so common. Other people are chronic relationship chasers. Listen, we all have an inner void. It’s there for a reason. Explore the void, rather than trying to fill it. It takes less time to enter into that void than it does to fill the void. You can never fill the void because it isn’t a void at all. It’s your inner-self needing your full attention, and it gets louder and louder until you acquaint yourself with it. We need to learn to sit quietly with ourselves, and to be uncomfortable once in a while without trying to numb the discomfort. We all have traumas and pains and sorrows. They are there to assist us in our spiritual development, but if we ignore them or numb them, then we end up even more miserable for a longer period of time.
Self-love is the answer to this backwards thinking society, but not on a topical level. We need to go deep. It doesn’t take as long as we fear, and the journey is incredible. The bottom line is that if you’re unhappy, you can turn it around, but you need to do the work. Admitting it is the first step. If you can do that, then you’re already brave. You also need to be courageous and willing. And if you can’t muster the courage up, think about the end of your life and reflect on what it’s going to feel like if you didn’t make an effort. If you spend your life trying to impress other people, how is that going to add up in the end? It’s not worth it. We are responsible for what we do, who we hang out with, how we feel and where we are headed. There is no one or nothing that can pump you full of self-esteem. It takes work, and time, but it’s worth it because the journey is truly fulfilling. Along the way you realize what you’ve been missing all along, which is incredibly profound. I won’t give it away, but it begins with Y and ends with U!
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.
And we do not know what we are looking for,
Until we come again to our beginning…
Robert Lax from Circus of the Sun
There is something significant about feeling lost once in a while. For me, it’s a reminder that I have no control over anything, which is good because when I try to be in control, I’m bound to make a terrific mess. This new year, there was a lot on my mind, and a discomfort that I can only describe as slow inner torture, overcame me to the point that I had to sit unnervingly with it. There the terror emerged, flopped around inside my gut, agitated me to the point of tears, and then gave me insight that wouldn’t have come if I would have carelessly numbed it out with a drink. While I sat with the discomfort, I thought the suffering would never cease, and this was the point at which my fear took over and told me that it was necessary to drink, because there was no other way out of my misery. Thank the gods for that vivid tape I play in my mind of my old self, who used to heed to that mocking fear. She ended up in even worse misery than where she began in the first place. There is no way out of misery except to embrace it. In the words of the beloved poet and sage, Rumi, “The cure to pain is the pain.” Yes, it is true.
Today, doctors will give you something to numb the anxiety, which may seem like a perfect answer in the middle of an emotional crisis, but as a person in recovery I have to ask myself if this is the way to go. From a spiritual perspective, life is not always comfortable, especially when inner growth is occurring. The problem doesn’t lie in the discomfort itself, but in the resistance of it. We are a fast food thinking society, conditioned to eclipse our pains and moods with pills, rather than learning a very natural process called healing. What a concept – to heal, rather than to anesthetize our inner conflict. But during the conflict, it is almost impossible to conceive that this is simply a spiritual rebirth, which is terribly confusing and constricting. It takes a great amount of faith and courage to accept the agony, but it is necessary if we are truly in recovery. During these times you just have to know that your soul wants to play its role here, and if it’s not able to emerge, it’s going to make things very uncomfortable. I have to constantly ask myself if I am in my natural state of “being,” or if I’m being bounced around by outside conditions. I am very sensitive, so I must be careful with moving too quickly in the world, or becoming stagnant. Either one of these things will send me into an emotional spiral. I am certain most of you in recovery can relate to me here. We need to keep aware of ourselves, so that we don’t lose ourselves during times of spiritual development.
I got through the agony because I surrendered to it, but it wasn’t easy, and I also know that it won’t be the last time I go through this sort of spiritual discomfort. It’s a good practice to journal during moments like these, so that we can refer to something when we experience it again. We tend to forget that life has its ups and downs and spirals. It is ever-changing and so are we. Becoming spiritually aware and emotionally mature is a bitter process, but it doesn’t last forever. The last thing we should do is numb it out. We should always ask for help when we need it, which I did. I had to lean on friends this last month, more so than I have to in a long time. Today I’m feeling anew after weeks (or probably months) of discomfort. It was worth it to not take a drink. I’m so glad I didn’t, but man, the old alcoholic self really wanted one. What have I learned from this process? That I really need to let go of all the things I want, and trust that there is a guidance system in place for my life while I am here. My soul wants to emerge and shine and play its role here. I do not have a clue as to what that role is. I really don’t, but I know that when I let go of trying to figure things out, clarity comes rushing in, whether it’s through dreams, or from the mouths of my friends. I get to experience the magic of simply surrendering and saying, “Damn, I have no control, and I’m letting go now. I’m giving the universe the reigns of my life because I know from past experience that I will be nurtured, guided and protected during this process. The discomfort is temporary.”
Do what you have to do to nurture yourself when life is difficult. It’s important that you stop everything and just ask yourself what you need, rather than extending yourself even more. I finally did this, and after one day, I feel myself centered again. By simply taking time to honor my own being, I received clarity and balance. I should have done this sooner. The other thing is when you feel lost in the world, or misplaced, don’t try to figure things out. Just surrender. When I did this, some interesting people came into my experience whom I wouldn’t have expected. Two of them told me the same exact thing on the same day. “You need to be your own best friend.” They said this when I told them that I feel like I’m lacking any mentors or support, or guidance in my life. “Be your own best friend.” What a concept. The third person who came into my experience was a comedian and motivational speaker, Michael Pritchard. He spoke at our office meeting yesterday. I rarely go to these meetings, but it’s the beginning of a new year, and I heard he was good. He spoke of happiness and how to collaborate with people, rather than to compete with them. He works with children and inspires them to live from their hearts. While I sat there listening to him, I realized that he’s doing exactly what I want to do. I had been wondering what I wanted to do. Now I know. It’s very clear. He works in my county, so the first thing I did was email his foundation and find out how I can volunteer. There are always signs pointing us in the right direction. You simply have to be aware, open, and willing. Sometimes you’ve got to get out there and talk to people, and ask for help along the way. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, it’s imperative.
So in a very short amount of time I went from floundering, to feeling centered. That’s a huge shift. It was a very transformational new year for me, although it wasn’t anything that I would have planned for myself. It would have been easy to cave and give up. That’s for sure, but I kept thinking about people in life who have it worse, and those who never give up.
Never give up. Continue moving forward. Find a reason to get out of bed, even it is simply to feed your cat. Sometimes you have to push yourself a little bit, or a lot, and most of the time, you need to be your own best friend, your own support, your own motivation, and your own nurturer. If you do this for yourself, the world will follow suite.
My New Year resolution is simply to let go, and also to try new things, meet new people and volunteer somewhere. Sometimes you have to give what you don’t feel you have in order to receive what you need. Life is cyclical. Once you give, you open yourself up to receiving. Usually all we are ever looking for when we feel lost, is ourselves. So if you feel lost, or out of control, don’t go numbing it out with a drink, or distracting yourself through another human being. Simply let go and know that the universe surrounding will return you to center, if only you listen and watch for the arrows pointing you toward the right direction. In time you will see that the arrow is pointing right at you. With love for the New Year – J. L. Forbes
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.
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.
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
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?