Encouragement for Transformation in the New Year

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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

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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.

Is Your Direction Purely Consumption?

Consumption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Restlessness – How to Settle the Inner Storm

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Restlessness is a sure sign to me that I am not in my body.  Even after three years and a couple of months in recovery, once in while I still become restless.  It is rare, but it does come up for me.  Yesterday even after meditation, a steadily busy day at work and an hour walk with a friend, I was still splitting at the seams.  A drive home in more traffic than usual, an unexpected encounter, an apartment that was too hot to cook a good meal for myself in – all more reasons to come even more undone.  I had hours before it was time to go to sleep and nothing I focused on could keep my attention for long.  I had to figure something out because this will last a few more days if I don’t get myself back to center.

I understand why I am feeling restless, which is good to know.  I just moved.  The break-up is final.  My daughter is gone for a couple of weeks.  Most of the time when I’m feeling restless, it’s a cue to take really good care of myself.  Back in the old days, the restlessness would vamp me up and I would turn into a self-destructive, unpredictable wild person.  Luckily the opposite of that is true for me today and I am able to see that I need some self-care.  I’ve been going to a lot of meetings and they help a little, but when it gets to a point where I am thinking about getting a tattoo (which probably could ease me back into my body, actually), I know that I’m in a bad space.  Tattoos are ok.  I have one.  I just don’t want anymore, especially one that isn’t planned out very well.  I can just imagine Jon Hamm’s face on my forearm holding a ‘Mad Men’ banner, or something even more outrageous.  I really needed to place my attention elsewhere, so first things first – I ate a healthy meal.  Nutrition and exercise are so important in recovery, but sometimes it isn’t enough, so what else can you do during times of restlessness an/or boredom?

Self-care during restlessness is the opposite of self-destruction, so that’s what I did last night.  There is a quaint little massage therapy place close to where I live.  They were slow last night, so I made myself an appointment and offered myself a little pampering.  It absolutely helped.  Afterward, I was in a different space and I slept very well.  Upon waking up today, I feel more centered.  The place I go is not expensive, which is great, but in the beginning of my recovery I may not have been able to afford any type of massage.  I know how that can be.  During these times, I would take myself to an artsy movie, or walk to a farmer’s market and engage with the people.  Sometimes they offers massages for a dollar per minute at farmer’s markets.  Massage is a great solution, especially if you can find someone who gets in tune with your body and feels what you need.

If you can’t get a massage, I encourage you to take care of yourself no matter what.  Bake yourself your favorite dessert.  Make yourself a delicious meal.  Watch your favorite comedy – laugh out loud.  Whatever you can do, or whatever you can afford to pamper yourself – do it.  Talk to people who are also in recovery.  This is a good time to do service as well, but don’t forget that you need some self-care too.  Even buying a new item of clothing, or getting a haircut and color will change things up enough to loosen that discomfort in you.  It’s important that you don’t spend money you don’t have, because that would be self-destructive.  Spend what you can afford, and if you can’t afford anything, perhaps you can take a swim, or spend an evening with friends.  Go somewhere new.  Take a long walk and listen to soothing music.  Pick yourself some wild flowers and put them in a vase.  Take a bubble bath with lavender to sooth your restlessness.  Love yourself and honor yourself back into your body.  This has really helped me in the past, and it certainly alleviated the discomfort last night when I had a massage.

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Restlessness is part of life.  Any big changes, or even the slowness of life can trigger this experience.  For addicts, however, this is a trigger to use or drink.  Remember that recovery is doing the opposite of what we know, so instead of splitting into several parts of yourself and destroying everything in your path, reign it in and pull yourself together by taking really good care of yourself in these moments.  If you are too busy to do anything for yourself (which is probably an excuse), just remember that this too shall pass.  The restlessness is not eternal.  It will flee at some point, but do not resist it.  Find harmony within it.  Allow to be with you and get curious about why it’s there.  Learn something about yourself while you are experiencing the discomfort, and be present with it.  Tell yourself it’s going to be ok, and then be good to yourself.  Take one moment at a time and don’t judge yourself for being human.  Peace be with you today.  Remain sober (no matter what) and this too shall pass.

Being Patient with Yourself

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More often than not, I get ahead of myself.  I plan, over think
things and analyze my life more than I’d like to admit.  Lately I’ve been feeling extremely uncomfortable and restless.  This occurs about once every four months or so (I’ve skillfully observed), but it certainly doesn’t last more than a week when I’m willing to shine a light on it and not buy into the discomfort as an eternal state of being. If I allow it to be with me, and even invite it into my experience, it will gently pass, and usually there is some emotional and spiritual growth involved. 

Because things are going pretty well for me, and I feel good most of the time, I find myself thrown off by these uncomfortable moments in my sobriety.  My relationship seems futile.  My nerves are exposed.  My thoughts are a wasteland of incomplete… I can’t even think of the word I’m looking for right now.  It’s just frigging uncomfortable, and I’m feeling a little bit like a failure this week.  I wonder when I’m going to be like a complete human being after so many years of self-sabotaging?  Things go great for months at a time, and then something will arise out of nowhere, reminding me that I’m not emotionally capable of a lot of things that “normal” human beings are naturally equipped with, like say… nurturing.  I get reminded of this all the time through the mirror of my relationship. 

I don’t usually feel “less than,” but just yesterday while sitting in an office meeting with several successful co-workers (appearing polished and successful myself), my inner voice screamed, “You fraud.  You are nothing like these people.  You are still at the bottom of the totem pole.  FRAUD.  FRAUD.  FRAUD.”  I slipped out of the meeting immediately after it was finished, so as not to further present myself like I have it together.  I’m good at bullshitting, but I’ve somewhat relinquished this mask.  I only use it when absolutely necessary, and yesterday it was more necessary for me to get back to work. 

You know, I’m doing my best with what I have.  Sometimes it’s completely overwhelming for me, but I still move forward in my recovery.  I continue to face the mirror when it presents itself, although there is still the inner tug of resistance.  I’m making progress, although quite slowly at times.  My boyfriend keeps reminding me that Rome wasn’t built in a day.  I know this, but it’s frustrating to wake up some mornings knowing that I have a long way to go, when just yesterday I felt like I was at the top of a mountain.  It’s these ebb and flows in my life that create inner havoc, reminding me that I must slow down and be patient with myself. It’s perfectly ok to feel incomplete some days.  It doesn’t mean I am.  It’s simply a feeling, that I certainly do not have to buy into. 

It is important for me to write this today, because I often have an extremely positive attitude.  My writing is on point most of the time, and I’m excited about my life more often than not… Yet then there are these dreadful moments, which are so important to acknowledge.  I know others can relate, and I just want to remind myself today (and whomever else needs the reminder), that in recovery, we are doing our best.  We must not compare ourselves with people who haven’t been down our crooked street.  It will rip you apart if you do.  Please remember to have patience with yourself during moments of restlessness, boredom, or discomfort, because they will surely pass.  Let others know what you are experiencing, so that they have the opportunity to offer their patience as well.  Be open to these experiences and allow them to move through you without buying into the belief that they are eternal.  I’m going to spend the remainder of my day sitting with my discomfort, rather than lashing out at the world and my loved ones because of it.  This too shall pass…</p>