We aren’t real enough with others about who we are.
We don’t laugh enough.
We hold on too tight.
We complicate things.
We make too many fear-based decisions.
We constantly defend ourselves, even when we shouldn’t.
Our lives could be so much easier if we would just quiet down our own minds.
Reading: The Untethered Soul.
Artwork by Richard Kirk.
I had so much, but felt so little. I think it was a deeper desire for more meaning and joy, for I had become numb, deadened and desensitized to my life. I wasn’t depressed, I was discontent. It wasn’t that my life was bad. I would have some nerve complaining about anything, considering those with real misfortunes. My life was just too predictable in an annoying way and I had way too many people leaning on me for support. To top it all, I was reliving the same problems over and over and over again, applying solutions that didn’t work.
I felt tired, disillusioned and quite unfulfilled. Everything was on replay. The things I collected, now collected dust and took up too much space – books, clothing, furniture – the clutter of “cherished” memories – did nothing but confuse me.
At the very same time, my parents, in their 70’s, living in a pretty remote part of Florida, were in need of some help. Their health was degrading. Actually, their lives were falling apart. The house in need of growing repair. It was May when I got the call. Mom developed stage four lung cancer and dad, tormented by anxiety and fear, slipped deeper and deeper into dementia. He was frustrated, angry and confused as well. They didn’t want anyone’s help, they didn’t want to see that they could no longer take care of themselves.
Every single day brought on a mini disaster as they continued to try to do the things they use to be able to do. Fires in the oven, crucial medication missed, terrible falls in the middle of the night and countless visits to the emergency room. I dreaded every flight I took to see them.
I witnessed first hand what people do when they hold on too tight, when they cling to the past, when they shut down, when they isolate themselves. They were terrified to the point of paranoia. They became delusional and just couldn’t and wouldn’t accept the inevitable – that everything eventually breaks down, fades away. Everything in life is impermanent. We die a little each moment, with each breath we exhale. This is a part of the process of life. It is also why we must hold life preciously in our hearts, while we have the time we do.
Time does not stand still for anyone and while I was extremely sad, I am grateful that I was able to comprehend the lesson and the wisdom in my parent’s painful decline. Clinging to what once was and wishing things were different does us no good and only has us suffocating and suffering more.
It was with this that I made the non-negotiable decision with myself, that I wanted more joyful moments in my life while my vision is not blurred with cataracts, my hands can still lift a pot to cook and my legs can carry me for long walks along the shore
We must be grateful for every second we have now and every gift of a moment we have from this second forward. We must learn, adapt and find new ways to stay relevant and useful. Purposeful while doing the best with what we have.
At the same time that I was keeping my head above the water with my parents in crisis and my freelance work, my husband, my darling, told me that he never took the lithium he very so needed to keep his bipolar illness at bay.
In and out of hospitals for much of our marriage, it was one roller coaster ride after the next.
The meds seemed to help keep him balanced, or so I thought. It was the last draw and he lied to me and that hurt very much. He began self-medicating with drugs and then alcohol and then God knows what. Anything to soothe his mania I guess. He was trying to help alleviate the heightened anxiety. All of this crazy behavior around me was pushing me further and further into disassociating from all of my emotions.
I did not want to accept the reality of all of this pain. He too, may have been on a path – while I was choosing to discard of anything that no longer served me well. He may have been seeking the same, using different tools, a different approach. Somewhere along the way there was a huge disconnect. That’s the trouble with chemical imbalances and mental illness, you never know what’s real or what’s just a troubled mind gone off on a really wild tangent.
So, the only question to answer: What do I do now?
Forgiveness first, self-care second. I’ve been exploring the wisdom of Buddhism, the secrets of the Kabbalah and enjoying the calm and mind-clearing benefits of meditation and yoga. I am doing more of what I enjoy doing. Swimming in the ocean, bicycling, Soul Cycle, exploring new places, reading, long walks, dancing and time with my daughters and friends.
So far, I have come to understand and respect, that by becoming more curious about myself and how I think and in turn expanding my awareness by building my propensity to be mindful, to forgive and to give with loving kindness. I feel healthier and more energized. By asking What am I to do now? What is the right thing to do next? I am guided by my heart and values that I hold dear.
With the current state of world affairs, I have been questioning just how sane we really are. Frankly, I am frightened of what’s to come and the media loves it that way.
My biggest concern is to have a strong enough mind that I don’t become brainwashed by all the bad news. I have always wondered how people followed someone like Hitler, let alone Trump. This truly concerns me. Reading books about the holocaust like Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor Frankl and watching movies like Schindler’s List and Life is Beautiful, I still ask myself, how do these atrocities happen? I have become so concerned that if the world completely fell apart, I want to make sure that I have a strong enough mind and spiritual base that I do not follow the herd.
This herd mentality is something I know I desperately need to avoid. I need to seek a more meaningful understanding of life, so that I can strengthen my mind and continue to think clearly. So that I can better understand the truth and the purpose of living and giving with intense gratitude each day. I know that clinging to fear of falling prey to stronger (albeit: unhealthy) minds. My mind should never be controlled by outside forces, including fear.
“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”
But How do You Develop Your Values?
A Beginner’s List of Values
- Authenticity – to be genuinely yourself at all times. If you value your authenticity and you are in a position where you feel like you have to be someone you are not, you may become very frustrated and upset, because you are living against your core value of being 100% completely you. The same goes for if you are feeling unaccepted for who you are and what you stand for. If your friends or aquaintances disapprove of you, then you may be inclined to feel disappointed. To live an unapologetically authentic life while surrounding yourself around people who appreciate your uniqueness is extremely fulfilling. Find them.
- Being the best
- Care – if showing genuine care and consideration in your relationships is something you believe to be very important than you will be hard pressed to find compatibility with someone who doesn’t demonstrate a warm, affectionate, tender and kind reciprocation back towards you.
- Challenge – when one of your core values is to be continually challenged by a life of learning, growing and expanding your consciousness, it is difficult to associate with people who are content with staying the same.
- Financial independence
- Making a difference
- Resilience – to get back in the saddle, to bounce back from a bad moment, to keep on going. If resilience is what you value, you may become very short-tempered with people who give up quickly or enjoy a good pity party.
- Thoughtfulness – the act of being thoughtful means to pay attention to the details, to think things through before doing them, to plan with more discernment. If thoughtfulness is an important value to you then you may be very frustrated going to places and experiencing things that are rushed, unmannerly or discourteous.
- Truth – If you value the truth, you expect people to be honest with you and you earn and build their trust by being 100% real with them. When and if someone lies to you, you will suffer, because you value honesty in a relationship, whether it be a professional or personal one.
I agree with Teal Swan, the reality is that for the most part people are not emotionally safe to be in relationship with. That includes me right now. For the moment, I should wear a warning sign for although I may be smiling on the outside, on the inside, I am a grieving ball of swirling pain and confusion. WARNING: Imminent Danger. Wounded. Hold Space. Step Back. Let Be.
I wonder how many other people are walking around like this today.
Right now, I have placed myself in stealth healing mode. I am recalibrating, retreating and reflecting and yes, I want limited contact with the outside world.
We all have our painful struggles. I just really want to learn, grow and take responsibility for my part. To grow stronger while strengthening my very own locus of control. This will enable me to go forward in life choosing people, places and things that are better for me. Better decisions come from a stronger mind. Forgive and let go.
The Deep Dive
On Suffering. To Be a Warrior Against What Is.
I am a huge believer in disrupting and innovating to repair what doesn’t work in society, especially when it comes to the use of technology. As for matters of the heart, there is a different type of disruption that must start with acceptance and approval of whatever situation you are in right now. That’s right. Find the good in the bad. The opportunity in the obstacle.
Spending all of our mental energy bargaining with the universe for what should be, how it could be, when the fact is, sometimes you have to give up the resistance to what is.
This is the problem I have with trying to pray away the pain. Praying is beautiful, but it doesn’t change what is. True change begins when we accept what is and when we are ready, we take action in a new direction.
Note to self: you can’t and don’t control everything. When we suffer, we spend all of our energy fighting what has happened. Wondering how we could have prevented it from happening. The healing begins when you realize you cannot change the outcome of what has already happened. You don’t have to like what is occuring right now, but when you can find the reasons why it might actually be good for you you begin to accept and realize that the remedy has begun. From Teal Swan.
Better Things To Ponder
A better life begins with better thoughts. If you can open up to realize that your thoughts may actually be crappy ones, then you can begin to think more clearly. Yeah that’s right, from crappy to clear.
From “101 things more worth thinking about than whatever is consuming you right now. “From Essays That Will Change the Way You Think book by Brianna Wiest.
So, if you don’t like where you are in life, stopping complaining and start creating.
The way it will feel to have the life you want. The place you’ll live, the clothes you will wear, what you will buy at the supermarket, how much money you will save, what work you’ll most be proud to have done. What you’ll do with your weekends, what color your sheets will be, what you’ll take photos of.
A Magical Medicine Bag
Over the past few weeks, in an attempt to heal myself, I thought about the idea of a Medicine Bag. I have made one myself, that I have been carrying around and using each morning to reflect on the parts of me that need healing.
A Medicine Bag was a special, sacred container for various objects, or amulets, of supernatural power used, or provided by, a MedicineMan or Shaman, to carry ‘medicine‘, or symbols, of animal spirits good luck, protection and strength in battle. The Medicine Bag contains both symbolic and ritual items.
Now, if I had a magical medicine bag, it might contain . . .
- A pair of glasses to see the world and all of humanity with radical loving kindness.
- Soft, beautiful, expanding wings to strap on your shoulders. Magically, they allow you to soar above this world for a new perspective, to glide and to guide.
- Detoxing tea to help remove the sticky, stuck pain cells of the body. The bitter cells that hold anger and resentment. Those cells that may grow up to become cancer, should they not be softened and removed, eliminated from the body. Drink a small cup a day to keep the crazy rage and illness away.
- A softening salve for the heart. When applied, a hardened heart becomes mysteriously able to renew itself. This curative balm begins to mend the heart, putting back all the pieces so it may pump and flow again, while helping the love juice of life flow to every healthy cell in the body.
- A wondrous cape of self confidence that makes one feel resilient, competent, relevant and real. Ready to take on the world with love and enthusiasm. When worn, you know you cannot and will not fail.
- The compass to help you find your true north.
- A pill to help you process past issues. Not a numbing pill, but an enlightening pill.
- The death clock, a countdown tool to remind you that your days are numbered here on this earth with a daily alarm to help you remember to live each day to it’s fullest, doing all the good you can do. Touching everyone that comes your way with heartfelt love and acceptance.
- A super powerful magnet to attract the people into your life who will play and work and love and live with you on this journey. Your like-minded citizens of the world. Your tribe.
- A prescription of forgiveness serum to help heal past relationships, to let go of old pain and to open your mind and heart to the healing of this mystical moment.
- Golden keys to unlock yourself out of imprisoning stories, stories that make you smaller and hurtful.
- Some type of delicious crystalized candy to expand your mind with the metacognition for awakened awareness of what is truly important.
Metacognition – awareness and understanding of one’s own thought process.
Our suffering arises from fear-based stories that are often outside our awareness. These include stories of our deficiency or importance, of being a victim, of being unseen or unloved, of facing failure or rejection. This is true collectively too. We have shared stories of bad “others” that fuel wars, shared stories of the value of continued growth in consumption and production that destroy our earth, shared stories of our human right to enslave and violate other animals. We have the capacity to bring the stories that separate and imprison us into the light of awareness, and with great compassion, loosen their grip. These two talks look at the ways fear-based stories create suffering, and how awakening from them reveals the freedom of our true, and universal, belonging. A meditation from Tara Brach.
Prepared & Active
“Let Fate find us prepared and active. Here is the great soul – the one who surrenders to Fate. The opposite is the weak and desperate one, who struggles with and has a poor regard for the order of the world and seeks to correct the faults of the gods, rather than their own.” Seneca, Moral Letters 107.12
Whatever happens today, let it find us prepared and active: ready for problems, ready for difficulties, ready for people to behave in disappointing or confusing ways, ready to accept and make it work for us. Let’s not wish we could turn back time or remake the universe according to our preference. Not when it would be far better and far easier to remake ourselves. – The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday
Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what’s next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little.
The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark. – Agnes de Mille.
I have always felt very uncomfortable the moment I began to feel even slightly comfortable. Some of my dearest friends have called me out on this. They say I have “commitment issues”. Maybe. Who knows. I just like the momentum of daring, trying, risking – smartly. Exposing myself and my mind to something new.
Today’s post is a passage taken from week seven “Recovering a Sense of Connection” from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
The passage below resonated with me. Why? Because I fool myself daily because while I think I am taking risks, I am not taking big enough risks. The type that will catapult me to the next level of living adventurously. Here we go. Let me know if this rings true with you as well.
We’ve all heard that the unexamined life is not worth living but consider too that the unlived life is not worth examining. The success of a creative recovery hinges on our ability to move out of the head and into action. This brings us squarely to risk. Most of us are practiced at talking ourselves out of risk. We are skilled speculators on the probable pain of self-exposure.
“I’ll look like an idiot,” we say, conjuring images of our first acting class, our first hobbled short story, our terrible drawings. Part of the game here is lining up the masters and measuring our baby steps against their perfected craft. We don’t compare our student films to George Luca’s student films. Instead, we compare them to Star Wars.
We deny that in order to do something well we must first be willing to do it badly. Instead, we opt for setting our limits at the point where we feel stifled, smothered, despairing, bored. But yes, we do feel safe. And safety is a very expensive illusion.
In order to risk, we must jettison our accepted limits. We must break through “I can’t because. . .” Because I am too old; too broke; too shy; too proud? Self-defended? Timorous?
Usually when we say we can’t do something, what we mean is that we won’t do something unless we can guarantee that we’ll do it perfectly.
So why did I start this blog in the first place? I started because I knew I had to grow. I knew I had to grow emotionally, spiritually, professionally and physically. I knew that if I didn’t grow and change and adapt, I would be stuck.
I don’t want to be stuck and I don’t want to stay the same. It’s not serving me well.
At each level of your life, the world demands a different you. A better you. The more (healthy) risks you take in life, the more life asks of you. Life asks for an improved version of you. What does that look like? It looks like YOU with more skills, more love, more patience and more self-awareness. Not just a new wardrobe.
Growing and moving in this positive direction requires that you adopt a proactive mindset. Stephen Covey’s Proactive vs. Reactive language choices. From “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“.
There is something remarkable about growing better each day and discovering parts of yourself you never knew existed. This won’t happen if you aren’t willing to try new things, meet new people and put yourself out there.
Learn and read and watch inspiring people. Visit inspiring places. This starts with a wish list. I urge you to write down ten things you wish you were doing right now. Trips you wanted to take, classes you wanted to attend, movies you wanted to see, books, etc. It all starts with a desire.
Learn and read and watch inspiring people. Trust me, if you listen attentively enough, everyone is inspiring in some way, shape or form. Some may inspire you to change your attitude because you don’t like the way they behave. Yup. Even some of the most negative people in your life are teaching you something.
Turning Things Inside Out
Sometimes it is a good idea to take a look at your negative emotions and try to turn them inside out. Ask yourself what’s good about constantly being worried and afraid? Maybe it’s saving you from taking too big of a risk, like living beyond your means right now? The fear is real. Don’t negate that. But remember to find out why.
Ask yourself what’s good about feeling like you may become irrelevant? Maybe that’s you telling you to start learning new skills.
Ask yourself why you are so mad and frustrated that you still haven’t lost those sticky, pudgy 15 pounds? Maybe that’s you really telling you to become more disciplined with your life. To be more proactive rather than reactive about your life.
Growing With Your Pain
I am learning so much from Pema Chodron (she is a very wise Buddhist nun). I carry this little book with me wherever I go. It fits in my purse and I read her wise advice throughout the day.
A Fugitive From My Feelings
Oh this whole emotional growth, this is a big one. A difficult, frustrating and challenging part of my growth. Something that gives me the feeling that I might just start having those frightening panic attacks again. Nooooooooooooo!!!!
Instinctively I KNOW that the doors to my life are going to bust wide open when I begin to start facing my feelings. I mean actually feeling them for the first time. You see, for most of my life, I was a fugitive from my feelings.
For those of you who are looking for alternative ways to feel fully alive and present in your life, yes 100% radically accepting life as it comes while putting your best vibes forward, I strongly, highly . . . no I URGE you to listen to Tara Brach’s podcast. Listen to any of them, but one of my recent favorites “Sure Heart’s Release”
I would love to know “What Are You Unwilling to Feel?” – comment below.
Until tomorrow . . . .
Trying to figure out why certain things happen in life is like attempting to piece together a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle while having only a few pieces of the puzzle in your possession.
You cannot fully understand the present situation using the logic of your finite mind. Just know that a bigger picture exists, even though it is not possible for you to see it at this time.
Trust, for all that is happening is an act of love; ultimately you will discover the blessing. Have patience! You will look back on this period of your life and be thankful for all this is occurring now. The Matrix card from The Magadalene Oracle
Respecting the “timeliness” of an action.
Welcome to “Indian Time.”’
It’s not easy to explain what Indian Time is. It’s more complicated than assuming everything will be late (though, that’s often a safe bet). I’ve heard Indian Time described as “the time it takes for moss to grow on a stone,” or as one elder put it “the time it takes to do things in a good way.”
It’s an enigmatic idea based on a uniquely cultural relationship with time. Simply put, things happen when they happen. There are not 24 hours in a day. Time is unlimited, impossible to cut up into chunks.
If something is to happen at 11 am, it might happen at 11:01 am or 12:26 or 1:11 pm. It will happen when it will happen. The universe has its own heartbeat, and who are we to speed it up or slow it down? To some, it’s an excuse to be late. To others, it’s a way to avoid ulcers.
“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.”
Every single moment gives us an opportunity, a choice. Close the gap of what you are capable of doing and what your actually doing. Be the best you, right now. How do we live consistently as the best version of ourselves? Read: The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly
Repeating this mantra softly to myself has helped me sail through the hours of overwhelming tasks in a day. It has stopped me from rushing and I hate rushing. Rushing just sucks. It makes life feel hasty. I want to savor life. Even the boring parts.
This idiom also applies to anything you do. It has helped me improve my days.
When properly learning something new
Any new skill that you are trying to learn should first be practiced slowly.
Performing any action too fast will have you sacrificing technique which will in turn slow your development. It will also limit the greatness you could have achieved.
A Life That Matters
(A Non Religious Funeral Reading)
Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived.
At the end, whether you were beautiful or brilliant, male or female, even your skin colour won’t matter.
So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched,empowered or encouraged others.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.
Adding More Life to Our Years
How do you add more life to your years? How do we know if we are living to the max, giving the most we can give? Do we just go by feeling? Do we continue to list and review our accomplishments? Add more to our resume? Create a bucket list of things we want to do sometime in the future?
What can we do right now to add more life to the moment in front of us?
We might listen to our heart more. Perhaps address the “psychic” pain of every day life and make adjustments to our day. Change what we don’t like about our living.
Perhaps we stop saying yes out of habit or obligation and start to consider what we really want to contribute during our lifetime. Volunteer maybe? Start a blog perhaps? Train for the marathon? Save up for the excursion?
Or better yet, maybe we wake the hell up. We stop sleep walking through life. No more numbing the brain with another glass of wine after dinner or taking the same route to work each morning. Perhaps we establish a healthy morning ritual to renew our sense of aliveness.
Could it be we create a new purpose. Develop a mantra to make people smile. Yeah, maybe that’s a purpose in life.
- Tackle the world’s bigger problems. Become an agent for change.
- Learn something new, every day. There are so many free ways to learn.
- Do something selfless, make things easier for someone else.
- Or maybe only respond to things that make us say Hell Yes! and say no to the rest.