“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.

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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.

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

Replacing Consumption with Patience

Patience

It is said that people can’t truly change.  I know people who fully buy into this concept.  And it is true to some degree.  People’s personalities don’t change.  My friends from high school still have the same mannerisms as they did in their youth, and when we all get together, it’s basically the same group of people laughing at each other for being so individually predictable.  People do transform, however when they decide to take the Hero’s Journey.  Transformation occurs when someone intentionally sheds their old ways, habits, ideas and belief systems because their life simply isn’t working for them.  It is a difficult endeavor, but once the transformation occurs, there is an obvious shift in the person’s demeanor.  They walk in the wholeness of themselves and appear lighter – less weighed down.  For me, I’ve noticed that I laugh a lot more now, and emotions flow through me much quicker.  I don’t hold onto anger for very long.  My daughter has even told me that it is “weird” to watch me when I get mad because one minute I will express anger and the next I’m talking about how beautiful the sunset is.  She literally observes me flow through difficult emotions in minutes, whereas before, I would wallow in them for hours or days even.

Proof of change is in the pudding.  I am not a naturally patient person.  I mean, addicts are not patient in general (duh).  We want everything NOW, and we want more of that everything as soon as possible.  When I wasn’t getting my way in life, I would rage.  If I had my mind set on something and for whatever reason, that something was taken from me, I would lose it.  The difference now is, I do not get my mind set on anything.  I can thank my treatment counsellors for helping me overcome my impatience.  They made us sit and sit and sit and sit and wait for hours.  They told us “no” when we expected a “yes.”  They switched things up when we got comfortable and if we got impatient with them, they had a bit of fun with that, which angered us.  That anger was purposely provoked.  It was the one emotion that we could not mask, so we had to sit through it because there was no other outlet, unless we wanted to be kicked out. Six months of hearing “no” and sitting through my anger was well-crafted to re-train me to navigate through life without expectation.

I change my mind quite often, which drives some people crazy. (I can dish it, but can’t take it).  I honestly feel that I was created this way in order to assist others in their own growth of not expecting things to be one way.  Since I’ve been back with my daughter, who is a naturally “fixed” person (which means she doesn’t appreciate sudden change), she has learned to roll through life with me.  Sometimes she resists, but more often than not I am witnessing a big shift in her entire way of being.  It is difficult for her to “let go” when she’s got her mind set on something, but she is a good negotiator so we have learned a manageable way to compromise her fixed way of thinking with my flightiness. 

When you learn to slow down and not to expect, and to be present – life flows much more smoothly.  Plans often change in life.  Things come up unexpectedly.  Traffic slows things down.  We do not always get what we want when we want it.  We must learn to roll with the punches, as they say.  Recovery has taught me this.  And if you knew me seven years ago and ran into me now, you would notice a big difference in my demeanor.  I’m lighter.  I don’t think much about outcome.  I don’t plan things down to the minor details.  I do not expect much, if anything at all, which opens up the space for me to be pleasantly surprised more often than not. 

Life happens and it is difficult to control how things occur, and when they occur.  Since I’ve replaced my need to consume my life with temporary pleasures, and replaced that inner void with patience, everything seems to work out just fine, and I am much happier.  Life unties it’s own knots when you let go of outcome.  And when you wait for something patiently (instead of tensing up), often there is a pleasant surprise awaiting.  I used to speed through life, and now I envision myself on a raft just floating along, enjoying the view, taking it all in and being grateful rather than expecting something more, or for it to happen at a certain time. I’m not 100% patient about everything, but overall, I would say that there is an obvious transformation.  

http://www.amazon.com/DEVILS-ALTAR-Addiction-Awakening-ebook/dp/B00FO72854/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403968657&sr=8-1&keywords=the+devil%27s+altar

“This Isn’t a F*cken Friends Episode!…”

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Those infamous words knocked me back into my seat as I sat in a circle with my recovery peers who all stared at me, shocked at the way I was being put in my place by the director of the program.  It was “Focus Group” which meant that we got to sit across from someone we wanted to confront.  This was a way to clear up tensions in a healthy manner, and to also point out behaviors in one another so that we could assist each other in changing the things that led us to drinking or using.  I was rarely focused on by any of my 40+ peers.  I had it all going on as if my shit didn’t stink.  What I didn’t realize was that my behavior of “looking good” and being everyone’s buddy was exactly what was going to kill me in my addiction.  This was pointed out by the counsellors, not my peers, because we were all too blind at the time to notice subtle behaviors, or to even relate perfectionistic traits as a revelation of a sneaky addict.  Yeah, I was one of those.

Humility was part of the process of changing our behaviors, but you cannot really get to a place of humility if you’re not aware of yourself.  So that’s how the director of the program saved my life in a sense.  After that dramatic session with my peers, another director walked into the evening house gathering and pointed at me.  She told the group that they were letting me “die” because they weren’t aware of how I navigated through the program like a little “honey bee.”  At first I was clueless as to what this even meant, but as time went on, I became aware of my own intensions to be everybody’s best friend, and how I buzzed past important things, including my assignments.  I knew how to get things done quickly without putting much effort into them.  Basically, I was living on the surface of my life to avoid difficult emotions.  Life to me was a checklist – “Get this done… CHECK!  Get that done… CHECK!”  I was driven to complete tasks as swiftly as possible and to make sure that everyone liked me in the meantime.

Laughing out loud right now at the thought of spending so much energy trying to please everyone.  Handing all of my assignments in on time was a way for me to get acceptance from my counsellors.  Like they even paid much attention to me when there were 40 of us addicts running around with minor dramas always occurring.  I was so self-centered, I swear to god.  When I left that sacred place, it was scary walking out into the real world where people are pretty much oblivious to their behaviors.  I recall thinking that I wish I could have focus group at work, or with my family.  It really did save my life and I was scared to not have that safety net of a group because I was still wobbly on my own two feet.  Luckily I continued going to groups and moved into a sober-living environment with many of my peers. The group I graduated with has been a very solid handful of people.  Most of us are doing very, very well.  We were really hard on each other too, but now there is nothing but love and support between us.  I know I can call any of my peers at any time and they would drop everything to be there for me.  I have needed some of them this very week, and four of them have immediately been there for me, even if it was merely words of encouragement after listening to my “drama” for the week.

There was a little upheaval this week with my ex and for the first time in a very long time, I felt extremely overwhelmed.  But that only lasted for a day.  I went through it, got sucked into it for a little while, and then stopped pointing my fingers and began looking at my part in the situation.  Once I did this, I stopped myself in my own tracks – almost as if I slammed myself into my own chair with awareness of my negative behaviors.  I felt ashamed, and scattered.  I took myself to three meetings and announced my “behaviors” to the group.  Afterward, I apologized to my former boyfriend.  I haven’t heard one apology from him, but that’s ok.  I’m not in this to even out the score.  My only obligation to my recovery is that I recognize my part in every situation and clear it up as soon as possible. 

I felt better when I got out of the drama and took some responsibility.  Last night, I ran into “him” and he was clearly uncomfortable.  He left the restaurant immediately after realizing he was uncomfortable.  I was not at all uncomfortable.  What I would love to tell him is that all of this turmoil coming up for him is simply a guiding light into himself.  It’s nothing more than emotional growth occurring.  Regardless of the obvious happenstance, and the “drama” surrounding me moving out and our breaking up, there is something much greater happening.  I don’t take much interest (any longer) in surface situations.  People are dramatic.  I’m even dramatic.  The daily dish comes and goes, but the real deal is what’s below the surface.  A year from now when we are both a little stronger from the situation, we will look back and see how much we changed because of our year long encounter.  When we met, the stars were in alignment.  Fireworks ignited.  We went into the relationship open hearted and confident.  Both of us knew that we might get hurt, but we were very ambitious because we were extremely aware of the yin and yang between us.  We knew that in harmony, we could be a dynamite couple.  It was difficult for us to keep that harmony, so there was a lot of conflict instead.  That ambition between us stretched us to the max, however, and this part of our experience (the turmoil) is merely growth occurring quickly.  That’s all it is, and I see it for what it is. 

Forget the scene, or the way things are playing out.  Look beyond them.  Life is not about the drama occurring – it’s truly about what is happening for you (emotions) during the experience.  I took a massive bite of humble pie this week.  It was bitter to the tongue, but sweet to my belly.  I’m in a much better place because I took some serious responsibility.  I’m not writing any of this stuff to pat myself on the back. I have such a long way to go, and there is still some wreckage to attend to. What I do understand in all of this, is that my former boyfriend was simply a player in my life to show me what I really need to work on in myself, and where I need to grow. For him, I was also a player in his life who stirred up a lot of things for him. When I met him, he talked about longing to be more flexible and easy going. When he met me, I spoke of wanting to keep growing as a person. I think we organically provided this for one another. He really opened my eyes to myself and I am growing greatly because of it. For this, I am incredibly grateful for him. He’s been a great teacher.

I can’t change some things that are occurring, or that have occurred, but I do know where I could have done better.  Progress… It’s funny – My former boyfriend used to call me “Phoebes.” This was his name for me. I’m going to miss that a lot, but this isn’t a Friends episode. The season has ended and life moves on. 

 

I Walked Through My Anxiety and There I Met Abundance (A Follow Up on What Lies Beneath Anxiety)

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 For the last few months, I have been faced with a decision to either identify with the anxiety coming up for me during a very heart wrenching breakup, along with not having a place to live when my lease is up at the end of August, or to allow this anxiety to be part of my experience without wrapping myself into it.  The fear has haunted me, but my awareness of it has kept it at bay.  During this time I chose to live my life in peace and harmony regardless of the shitty situation occurring, and honestly I have been quite happy.  There have been some days when I’ve felt defeated, but I looked at those moments as gracious opportunities to surrender to what I have no control over.  For five months I have been in a place where I could have been completely broken and miserable, but I made a conscious decision to walk the talk.  I entered the wilderness of myself and began a dialogue with my anxiety.  “Let’s do this, my troubled friend.  Let’s dance together for the time being, and then I’m going to have to let you go, because you’re taking up way too much of my precious life.  I am so ready to move on from you, but you can hang out for as long as you need to.”

Because the relationship with my former boyfriend is so strained and we live together, I have put my well-being (as well as my daughters) ahead of my desire to stay in the home we live in now throughout the summer.  This meant that I was even more under the gun to find a place to live without any money saved.  This cottage house is taking up most of my paycheck.  I realized that I didn’t want to live in tight-budget mode any longer, but instead of straining myself by getting another job, knowing that it would not be in the best interest for my daughter’s and my own well-being, I put it out in the universe that I either needed a bunch of money dumped on me immediately, or I needed to reduce the amount of money that I was spending each month, but more than anything, we needed a nice roof over our heads in this exact area we live in now because my kid needs to continue going to the same schools.  It wouldn’t be fair to uproot her after so much time and energy has been placed into her getting straight A’s and making new friends.  She has been through enough and I trust that when I ask for what I need, that the universe keeps her in mind as well.  I put a lot of pressure on God in this request to take care of us.  I made very specific requests, and then I went on about my life knowing that I would be provided for – ignoring all the fear and doubt that told me that I was going to need to pack up and move back to my hometown because I was failing.

I attend a Sunday night meeting and have the coffee commitment.  I’m there every week and last week, one of the women whom I’ve made acquaintances with stopped me after the meeting and asked if anything was wrong.  Prior to the meeting I had just been in another argument with the ex and I was feeling very defeated.  I told her about my living situation and mentioned that I need to find a place for my daughter and I to live as soon as possible, but it needs to be cheap because I need to pay off debt and save some money.  Part of my own recovery is to get myself out of debt.  The debt weighs on me heavily and I need to be free from it.  She listened and then we went about our business.  She was very caring and I needed this kind of support at that moment, so I was overcome with gratitude and it was relieving to be able to vent a little bit.  Throughout the week, I have been sending out emails for rentals without placing too much of my energy into it, but trusting that when I move forward, the universe is also working for me. 

Thursday I get a call from the woman at the meeting.  She’s so excited because her boyfriend has just given me a lead.  He is a pool cleaner and has been cleaning this elderly woman’s pool for over 20 years.  She has an apartment above her garage and the tenant has just moved out.  She needs someone there to take care of pulling out the garbage cans each week and to check on her once in a while because she lives alone.  She needed me to call her right away because on Saturday (today) she is leaving for six weeks to go to physical therapy in another town.  The house will be empty and she needs someone to water the flowers every other day.  Of course, it all sounded too good to be true, but I made the phone call.  When I spoke with the woman, something clicked.  It simply felt right, and I went over there to meet her on Friday.  Her family was there.  Her son, her daughter-in-law, two friends – it was a full house and everyone was so welcoming.

“Come on in, let my daughter-in-law show you the apartment and then I’m going to give you the garage door opener and let’s see if this is a good fit.”  I checked out the apartment.  It’s a large and accommodating studio with a deck overlooking a massive backyard and the solar heated pool (which we get to use) near hills with trails and in the best neighborhood of the town we live in.  Everything we need is in the apartment.  It’s furnished, and I don’t have much furniture, so this is a major plus.  There is a kitchenette, a stove, a refrigerator, a walk-in closet, a large bathroom and shower, a washer and dryer and a separate entrance.  I get to park in the garage, unlike now where my poor car gets hit with oak tree branches.  It’s quiet and would make the ideal summer home.  I decide that this is a treasure and I’m not going to pass up the offering.  When I go down to chat with the elderly owner, who is so incredibly kind and genuine, she tells me that the rent is less than what she originally quoted over the phone, which includes all utilities and cable.  The last thing that I am worried about is that I have a cat.  “Oh, yes, the cat is welcome,” she graciously says.  “There is a cat door and an acre of fenced backyard.  He will love to roam around here.  It’s a peaceful place to live and I need someone here for the six weeks that I’m gone, but you are more than welcome to live here however long you want.”  Needless to say, we hit it off.  I was given the wifi-code, the garage door opener and lots of smiles. Her family was kind and gracious.  She didn’t ask for a credit check, an application fee, references or any sort of deposit.  The rent is less than a third of what I pay now!  She went only on her intuition and apparently I made the cut.

Need I say more?  I mean, this is nothing short of some kind of cosmic miracle, right?  The most amazing thing is that I’m not even the least bit shocked.  This is what I asked for.  This is what I trusted would occur, and as I went about my life doing the next right thing, everything was manifesting in the background.  For the next several months, I will get to pay off debt, save money, buy some furniture, and take my two children on vacation.  My daughter and I are safe.  We found a temporary home that meets all of our needs and we don’t have to be in a rush to move again.  It’s all sitting pretty right before our eyes… AND THERE’S A POOL, which I didn’t even ask for, but like I said, my daughter’s needs get met when I am looking out for my well-being.  All of this happened so quickly, and the timing was immaculate. If I had been one beat off, none of this would have occurred.  It’s all just so sweet and loving.  I mean, how loving is the universe?  It’s so loving – it simply waits for us to be open to receiving.  We spend so much time with our head down to the ground, digging our heels in and trying to get somewhere, that we miss out on the magic of life that awaits our awareness of it.  I had no doubt.  I walked through my fear.  I faced my ancient anxiety and there I met abundance!