The Answer to Your Problems is “Be of Service”

Be Of Service

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

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

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

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

From A-Z Why Recovery is Easier than Addiction

Ultimate Freedom

Acceptance and Awareness

Better perception of reality

Clarity

Doing what you dig

Experiencing emotions

Freedom from fear

Growth (mental, emotional, spiritual)

Having choices

Intelligent decisions

Just being yourself

Kindness toward yourself and others

Laughing comes easier

Mindfulness

No hangovers

Open to life

Playfulness

Quiet mind

Restful instead of restless

Surrendering to what you have no control over

Terrific sleep

Unity with yourself and others

Valuing yourself

World opens up for you

X marks the spot for new beginnings

You (underneath all those layers)

Zeal for life

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

Thinking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Encouragement for Transformation in the New Year

Trans

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

http://www.amazon.com/J.-L.-Forbes/e/B00HS980ZI

Embracing Your Quirks Along with Your Qualities

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

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

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

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

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

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

Universe in your hands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If You Want to Catch a Firefly, Why Are You Chasing Buffalo?

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Most of us desire something other than what we set our sights on, yet even when we know exactly what we want, we tend to get side-tracked along the way.  Human nature is clumsy and we are easily distracted.  If you really want something, look past that something and notice what feeling you’re chasing, because it’s never a physical thing that we desire.  It’s almost always the feeling of being happy.

For the longest time I thought I wanted continuous sobriety, but when being sober didn’t deliver immediate feelings of bliss, I relapsed.  It wasn’t the actual sobriety I was aiming for – it was feeling good without a drink.  Addicts chase a constant high, which is pretty insane, yet what we truly desire is a sustainable good feeling.  People in general desire happiness; addicts just go after it with a vengeance.  When we discover that drugs and alcohol don’t deliver continuous happinesswe try to quit.  Then when we still aren’t happy, we replace our drug of choice with something else outside of ourselves.  This is why so many people get involved in relationships right away, or why they distract themselves with work.  I know a lot of reformed addicts who are now workaholics.  They distract themselves from feeling lonely, bored and lost, instead of working through the misery and eventually discovering a reason to live.

If you can identify what it is you truly want, you can easily identify the things that are distracting you from getting there.  At some point in my life, I realized that it wasn’t fame, wealth or a certain guy that I truly desired.  It was simply to wake up in the morning and feel like I was ok.  It was to be content with where I was, who I was, what I had and how I felt.  This was all I really desired.  Since I can remember, I have never been content.  I was the antsy type who always wanted “more.”  Contentment for me was like having an endless box of dark chocolate followed by a note from the universe stating that I could have anything else in the world I wanted including a shiny new car of my choice, and a fabulous new wardrobe.  It seemed that far fetched, so instead of focusing on finding contentment, I focused on a lot of other things that made up for the lack thereof.

We all do this to some degree.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an addict or simply a human being.  We chase “things” while suppressing our disappointing feelings.  Some of us chase religion looking for God so that “he” can remove us from our suffering.  We’ve got this all backward.  Once we start feeling God in the midst of our problems, we realize that what we are wanting is never somewhere else, or something outside of ourselves.  “God” does not truly remove us from our shortcomings, nor does our higher power take us “away” from our problems.  What occurs is that “we” somehow find harmony in a moment of rage, or in the act of balancing our check book, or while folding or laundry, or when our computer crashes and we discover ourselves smiling rather than cussing at the damn thing.  This inner harmony that we discover does not come from an outside source.  It makes its appearance when we wipe the layers of bullshit from our eyes.  Harmony is always accessible; we just refuse to recognize that what is occurring right now is not any better or worse than what is going to occur five seconds from now.  This life is filled with highs and lows because we label everything between the spectrums of “good and bad… fun and boring.”  Once we stop doing this, we become awake to the fact that a blustering storm is just as brilliant as a warm summer breeze.  Our excitement for life doesn’t come from the arrival of spring; it appears when we notice the magnificence of the goose bumps on our skin from the chill of winter. 

We avoid simplicity because it seems boring, but this is just a lie we tell ourselves so that we can keep filling ourselves up with temporary fixes like sugar, porn and entertainment.  Remove these things from your life, and you are left with whatever feelings that come up for you.  Some of us are often bored, but this is just the ego’s way of trying to obtain a fix in a body that ultimately desires harmony (joy).  If you want to find sustainable happiness, turn off the TV, close the magazine, leave work when the job is done and take some time to be alone with yourself without any distractions.  Experience the awful loneliness.  Sit quietly with your discomforts and allow yourself to be bored.  It’s the only way you’re going to get to the bottom of yourself where the sustainable joy actually resides.  Rather than praying for God to remove your shortcomings and for your higher power to take away your suffering, sit in meditation and feel the pain just as it is.  Listen to the voice inside you that beats you up for not being perfect.  Get acquainted with everything that comes up for you, without judging it.  If you constantly try to bat these things away, you’ll never experience the fullness of yourself beyond all these nuances.   

In other words, if you want something sustainable, stop chasing the temporary shit.  What you desire is not a hot girlfriend, or a rich husband.  It’s much more significant than these things.  It’s what we all want and it’s accessible to each of us if we would only stop and appreciate things as they are, rather than trying to change them. If you desire sunlight, you’ve got to notice it behind the storm clouds instead of waiting around for summer, or distracting yourself from the winter as it is. The sun is always there. It’s just not always obvious. I want to get to a place where I’m not looking forward to going to Disneyland because I’m having just as much fun cutting these carrots. Ya know what I’m sayin? 

 

 

Discovering My Balance in the Midst of Chaos

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During a “getting caught up” phone call with a good friend last night, I was giving her the scoop on all the craziness currently surrounding me.  I am definitely going through something, but I’m not feeling out of control.  I laughed when she said it sounds like I’m really handling everything well.  “Perhaps,” I replied, “But I feel like I’m on the awkward side of clumsy through all of this.”  She described a perfect image of one of those wobbly dolls bearing a weight in its center.  The doll moves around, but never losses its balance.  Yeah, that’s about right. 

Image  This is me right now, and I know we’ve all been here.  It’s not exactly my world that is caving in, but I’m standing in the middle of something that feels like a mild hurricane.  Things are getting thrown at me from several directions, and people are challenging me without even knowing they are doing it.  It’s part of their role in my life right now.  I’m being provoked because I’ve been desiring to become more independent and I’m desperately trying to listen to my own inner voice, which often gets eclipsed by the needs and wants of others.  How many times in my life have I disconnected from my own self in order to please another person, or to win over their approval?  How many times have I compromised my own values so that I feel safe, instead of stand strong and trust that I will be provided for when I follow the right path?  Too many times to count, and I’m not doing it anymore.  I may be wobbly in thought, but I’m not being pulled by someone else’s idea of what is right for me.  And then there’s the question nagging inside of me… Am I being to stubborn, or too selfish?  This is when the wobbling begins.  I often doubt myself because I haven’t had a lot of practice listening and following my own inner voice.  The outside voices are louder and some of the choices I’m offered to make, appear more cushy and safe than me trying to stand on my own two feet for once. 

But then I recall my past, when I did make those cushy and safe choices in my life.  Where did I end up?  Oh, that’s right… DRUNK.  The further I get away from myself, the closer I am to picking up a drink to drown out the calling of my soul.  I have this really assertive soul, you see, that does not rest.  It beckons me like a beacon light… I’m telling you.  It’s like it came here to accomplish specific things and when I stray away from my path, I’m insanely unhappy.  I realize I may be different from a lot of people, and perhaps no one can relate to me here, but this is what I deal with in my life.  I’m clear about my path, and sometimes I’ve got to stand up for myself when other people are telling me which direction to take, because they are not living inside my body.  They don’t know what I need.  Only I know this.  “To thyself be true.”  Someone wise said this.  I’m pretty certain he was a fellow writer… 

I’m still coming off as rebellious and perhaps a little immature, but it’s my inner child screaming to break free this time around.  I never let that little one have her way while I was growing up.  I shut her down and oppressed her.  To quiet her, I poured drinks inside my body and took drugs.  Now she is free, and I’m unaccustomed to allowing her to lead the way.  I’m giving her a voice now, but she’s undeveloped and sometimes stomps her foot and throws little tantrums while my adult-self is lost in the shadows of her zeal for life. As a whole,  I am still breaking free from the restraints of my childhood, and I’m not perfect at this endeavor.  But for once in my life, I am not afraid.  I do not fear walking along the right path.  I may offend some, ignore others, and bark up the wrong trees at times, but I think of this as my soul learning how to navigate through the noise of other people.  From the outside it may appear that I’m a little off-balance, but from within (from this perspective), I’m becoming aware of my place here.  This is nothing short of a miracle. 

I’m discovering that by taking a chance and allowing my voice to be heard for once, I’m offering myself unto the judgment of others.  I also hear my own inner judge, but I’m not letting her rule this time around.  There is a little word I heard about in treatment, called compassion.  I’m giving myself compassion right now.  I’m not perfect.  I’m still on the awkward side of clumsy, but I’m ok with this.  I have been in much more compromising positions in my life than this… in front of the whole world (literally), and I suppose this is why I don’t have a problem with judgment any longer.  People judge.  This is the nature of humanity.

As I walk into the chaos surrounding me today, I’m just going to wobble my way through, and trust that inner weight of my soul has the courage to keep me centered.  I’m not allowing the world to sway me from this awkward balance of mine.  Pretty soon, I will be more like a sturdy oak tree with arms extending out into the world so that I can help others like me.  But for now, I will be the little wobbly doll, and I am absolutely ok with it, because at least I am not drinking.  This is why I consider my chaotic life an absolute victory.