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.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken objects using gold or silver epoxy. The Japanese believe that when something has suffered damage and has history, it becomes more beautiful.
I’ll never forget the first time one of my twin daughters had her heart broken. She was all of 16 and completely devastated. I remember her face as she curled up in my bed, in physical pain, her head in the pillow and eyes swollen with tears, hand on her heart, she said, “Now I know WHY they call this a broken heart,” “It actually feels BROKEN in my body.” Shattered like glass.
After someone breaks up with us, we can feel very, very lonely. Abandoned, rejected, thrown away. What are we do to with this deep seated pain?
I am studying Pema Chodron’s Heart Advice For When Things Fall Apart.
Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in. It’s restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company. When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down.
An inspiring tale of self-discovery, I have read The Alchemist.
Next on my reading list. . . .
The Middle Way & The Manual for The Warrior of The Light
We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.
Rule #1 Stop doing things that don’t produce results.
My smiling days. It felt like my energy was pure & protected from the pains of the world.
I want to get that great big beautiful smile back. I want to FEEL the way I did when I didn’t know much.
How to Re-energize My Life & Produce Some Damn Good Vibes
Most people – “the good vibes only” people in particular – tend to shy away from and may even passive-aggresively shame people who come to the party of life angry. No drama here. No conflict. No, no, no. . .they will have none of it. Confrontation just freaks them out.
I’ve come to know anger on a very intimate level. We’re like BFF’s and believe me you, more recently in my life, my anger has served me well. It has acted like a guiding light, helping free myself from the pain, guilt and shame I’ve been lugging around for years.
One of my first really angry memories involved being bitten bloody on the arm by my raging cousin Ralph. Oh what a misfit he was. A terror. It hurt like hell. A big imprint of his huge buck teeth piercing the broken skin on my upper arm. It was a typical Sunday dinner at nanny’s house. Steaming plates of pasta and a big loud Italian family, all talking on top of one another, no one listening, ignoring the children, the women complaining and the men, oh the bravado and machismo. A scene out of . . .
I was so enraged that I ran up to the dining room table and decided to let all of the adults at the table about what happened. I yelled at the top of my lungs, “YOUR SON JUST TOOK A BITE OUT OF MY ARM, HE IS AN ANIMAL.” And in less than a split second everyone at the table began to laugh out loud at me. The table was rolling with laughter. I was astonished.
Ignoring anger, any type of anger, whether it is yours or someone else’s, is not a strategy, period.
Pretending your not angry, “working out” your rage at the gym, downward dogging that dreaded pain and/or massaging your mind with positive affirmations will only create a deeper harbor for anger to anchor itself in your subconscious, and those are some deep and dark waters my friend.
I have been accused of being angry most of my life. I have damaged friendships, relationships and have gotten shunned by almost every member of my family for being angry. We are all good now, but it took a lot of deep digging to find out why I was a rage-full mad woman.
I have come to learn that anger needs some proper investigation on a regular basis because it is a sure sign that something in your life is out of alignment with what you value and an indication that you are in need of some loving care.
It’s a red flag that your needs are not being met. And damn we have to meet those needs. Anger actually is a powerful emotion that protects us from feeling hurt and hopeless. Maybe even powerless. Feeling powerless is about as low as you can go.
Anger can be a very necessary emotion which will let you know without a doubt when you are feeling threatened and vulnerable. When we approach anger with curiosity, when we ask ourselves “why the hell is this making me so angry?” when we take a peak at what is behind the anger curtain, the root of the problem, we find that we may be feeling hurt, betrayed, disappointed and disillusioned.
It is to this place we must go, to the pain behind anger, with open arms, where we feel ourselves turned inside out, where we feel raw, bloody and wounded- that is what is underneath the anger. If you really want to become less angry, this is the bleeding wound that must be healed. And you can’t rely on others to rub in the ointment and wrap the bandages. Oh no, this is an inside job.
So if you struggle with a low tolerance for frustration or someone tells you that you need anger management therapy, try a bit of self-care. Investigate that anger. Get up close and personal with the pain.
We might explore this possibility by asking ourselves about where our anger really comes from. What is the other side of anger? Fear. We can’t free ourselves until we work through both our anger and our fear. And what is the cause of fear? Ultimately, it is the fear of nonexistence, death, the fear of losing ourselves and being forgotten. But a fear of death translates into a fear of living, because impermanence is itself a fundamental condition of our lives. In this fear lie the seeds of anger.
So now, how do I deal with angry people? I realize that hurt people hurt. I approach them with curiosity. What is behind that big, bad bark?
For myself, now when I get angry, I know how to soothe myself (a very good thing to learn how to do by the way). I take to the waters and I meditate.
Now I know. . .
Could it be that our modern life is not good for our mental health?
There is an alarming global epidemic of anxiety and depression on the rise. According to the World Health Organization, close to 800,000 people are committing suicide every year (incredibly, this is one person every 40 seconds) and many more are attempting suicide. Sure, life can be pretty damn difficult, but suicide? Wow. I hope you agree that this is some kind of world-wide cry for help, something must be done and this is an incredibly frightening sign that there is a real need for an awakening, a shift in our cosmic consciousness.
Mysterium tremendum et fascinans
Venezuelan/American, filmmaker Jason Silva, described by The Atlantic as a Timothy Leary of the viral video age begs the question, in an age of tremendous technological innovation and scientific advancements and with so many people moving away from traditional religious affiliations, how do we connect ourselves to a bigger meaning? How do we commune with something more real than the doldrums of every day reality? Something grand and awe-inspiring that fills our soul.
You see, as a child, I thought it was “church”, a place to at least attempt a holy communion with something bigger than myself. Now, as I am older, it is nature, meditation, dance and cherished moments with people I love. For some it is grandmother’s medicine, magic mushrooms and perhaps a heroic dose of LSD.
Perhaps all of those poor souls fed up with their human condition, need more numinous moments in their lives. Maybe they need more shots of awe.
To Render a Holy Moment with Me
I, personally, haven’t had that many moments of psilocybin-induced cosmic communion – glimpses of ecstatic illumination – but I do find myself feeling more & more connected after meditation and doing things like yoga. Jason Silva on the other hand takes the question one step further as ask just how might we turn our passing illuminations into abiding light, rendering ourselves holy. Whoa.
In his video “Beyond Anxiety & Depression” Jason believes that perhaps we, as a society, need a replacement to what religion once provided us. We need a cognitive reframing or possibly a psychic transformation. Oh to commune with the cosmos in order to impregnate our lives with meaning & signification.
To serve and savor the world.
I am fascinated with the idea of finding ways in which we can achieve those moments of awe-inspiring, mind-blowing moments of altered conscious states without drugs. A healthier way to reach new heights of clarity. Call them Eureka moments, a-ha moments, epiphanies, whatever — where everything seems to come together. When inspiration strikes and changes everything. The belief-
“If you can look at reality differently — shed your preconceptions and filters — you can change your life, you can invent something, you can make new observations, you can do things you were afraid or unable to do before. You have better access to the full spectrum of what exists.” Read more about Holotropic Breathwork here.
A More Painful Catalyst of Awakening
There are plenty of ways to wake up from the dreadful daze of an unfulfilled reality. Heartbreak can really shake you into a new more painful state of consciousness. On my quest to mend my broken heart, I’ve been reading a lot about love. All the different types of love and more specifically unconditional love.
Unconditional Love: How to Give It and How to Know When It’s Real
I may read back on this years from now and find I have a different point of view, but for the time being, I think this whole idea of unconditional love is nearly impossible for mortal beings. Even the grandest of caring mothers.
The truth is you can only love people as much as they are willing to be loved.
I really dig the way Teal Swan explains why unconditional love is so damn difficult. Her challenge, to try to give love for a day to something, anyone, a child, a pet, a plant for just one day is incredibly hard. A worthwhile listen right here . . .
I am re-reading When Things Fall Apart from Pema Chodron’s because I want to make sure it all sinks in deep. I need this wisdom.
The wonderful illustrations in this post from the talented Chiara B.
Distraction is the main problem for us all – what the Buddha called the monkey mind. We need to tame this little monkey mind. Tenzin Palmo
As entertaining as it can be, please don’t feed the monkey mind.
I strongly believe it is everyone’s responsibility to create a firm daily devotion to committing oneself to life long learning and the continual development of waking up with honest self-awareness.
“Our emotional selves are children. And they never grow up. We just learn how to parent our emotional selves better.”
Yes my parents gave me good guidance, but they couldn’t possibly have told me everything. Here are a few lessons I am learning along the way . . .
- This moment, right here, right now is the only one you have. Feel it, see it, taste it, hear it and take it all in. Be here now. The book by Ram Dass
- Hold sacred an unconditional, nonjudgmental relationship with reality as it is right now.
- omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis All things change, and we change with them. Adapt every day.
- Trust your basic wisdom.
- Everything takes time. It’s okay to live life on your time. You don’t have to run with the herd.
- Watch how you talk to yourself. Realize when you are too self-critical. Stop the pattern. Break the loop.
- Do not worry about how others look at you, what they are thinking or whether you fit in. Being “normal” will get you nowhere.
- When all else fails, be kind.
- Again, try to be gentle and soft with yourself and with others.
- Stop pressuring yourself. Rushing anything simply ruins it. Slooooooowwwww down.
- There is rarely ever anything to be nervous about. Face what you think makes you weary. Get curious about that.
- Remember you are a miracle. Nothing short of a miracle.
- Time is precious. There is none to waste.
- You have what it takes to try anything you want. There are many options, choices and directions you can go. Experiment with your life.
- You are dying with every single breath. Appreciate every single moment. Even the most annoying ones.
- At any given moment, everything is always as it should be. Acceptance brings serenity.
- You can not control everything.
- You must control the way you respond to others.
- Get to know what triggers your strongest emotions. There’s the work that needs to be done.
- At any given moment, you will know the right thing to do.
- Be thoughtful about everything, even if others are not.
- You don’t have to be larger than life, famous or popular. You simply have to play your part in this wonderful life to the best of your ability, every day.
- Do something ridiculously fun every single day.
- Whatever action you take, whatever word you say, make sure it decreases pain in the world.
- People may disappoint you if they aren’t working on themselves. Forgive yourself for being impatient with them. For they no not what they do.
- Anger and resentment are poison and will manifest into physical ailments. Let go everyday. If you feel yourself getting overly heated and enraged, step away for awhile. Retreat, think, respond.
- Your emotions are important for they tell you what to do. Yes, some of them are signals, but they are here to guide you, not take over your day and life.
- Some emotions are false, yes they are you, trying to protect you, but don’t fall prey to every single one, over reacting to situations is usually related to an over sensitivity to past trauma. The problem arises when you start to react in a bigger way than justified. Read: How to Stop Overreacting.
- Stop making up doom and gloom stories about what might happen in the future. Not everything is going to be a disaster.
- When in doubt about what to do, do something good. Good for you, good for others.
- Open up your heart, be real, be vulnerable. Life is not meant to be lived in the safe zone.
- The painful moments are the lessons. Move through your problems by facing them for they will tell you a lot about yourself. What haunts you must be addressed. Release your tendency to run away, to seek pleasure before pain.
- Have an unconditional, loving relationship with the world. There is no escape, no exit. There are lessons to be learned every day. Everyone you encounter is your teacher. Pay attention. Pema Chodron.
I would love to know what lessons you learned on your own. Share below in the comments.
Shedding Some Light on Just How Damn Annoying Life Can Be
Working with The Monsters in Our Mind & NOT Becoming a Fugitive To Our Fears
On a more pleasant note. . .
When we Don’t Grow Emotionally
For Example . . .
Leaping Before You Look
Becoming More Discerning
What’s this About The Importance of Self-Value?
And More about Self-Love
Decreasing the Pain in the World
People have a habit of inventing fictions they will believe wholeheartedly in order to ignore the truth they cannot accept.
- where we are
- what we have to work with
- who is within our company (including our crappy-ass selves)