New Chapters & Transformations: By D. Cooper

DNA butterfly

A short intro before my guest blogger’s post: I find it uniquely intriguing how at the deepest core, all of us humans are all the same, yet we can experience and live such amazingly vast and varied lives with a million and one different perceptions. In the basic human experience, we all breathe, eat, live and die. We also witness other humans, with shared blood, pass on. Yet again, no two grieving humans have the same perception or express the same emotions. It fascinates me to learn of other peoples’ lives- in a deeper, more meaningful complex manner. I want to know what makes those I know function. I want to know what and who they live for, how they perceive this human experience, what their beliefs and values are and how they analyze and figure out where to go from their ever present moments. After all, we only have now. This moment. Not the next and not the one before it. We have the extraordinary ability to create the future we are living into. I thirst to know what motivates people to make the choices and decisions that they do; to know how and why they create their own distinctive future.

Everyone I meet teaches me a lesson that I was meant to know. Recently, I worked with a shining, motivated soul named Dwanna Cooper from New Mexico. When I edited her book about how to effectively read job ads, I never thought I’d develop an intricate connection with her…learn about her feelings, desires and values. I certainly never expected that she’d want to share a piece of her human experience with me. Now, I couldn’t be more blessed that she has. D. Cooper has an enormous treasure chest of insight that she is more than willing to share with others in order to help them learn, grow and transform! Here is a personal glimpse into this multi-faceted, talented, successful HR Professional’s life: Oh, by the way, she’s also been an expert ice skating instructor for over 15 years!! Pretty cool, right?


transformación personal

When I look back on my life I can most certainly pick out the beginnings and endings of new chapters in my life. There are certain events in my life that often mark new chapters such as new jobs, moving to new places, new friends, and new loves.  There are also unfortunate events that trigger endings such as death of a loved one, loss of love, or friends, or jobs.  But more often than not, I see the good that came from those changes in my life and those new chapters in my life and always grew as a person.

The funny thing about changes or new chapters though is we don’t always recognize them as they are happening.  While hind sight is clear, seeing those transitions while they are occurring is not always obvious.  And, even if we do recognize them, we’re still not prepared for the outcomes.

We all know that as children we will outlive our parents.  However, I don’t think we are ever ready when that day comes. We see the illness or the event that triggers the beginning of the end and then we watch the decline and we still hold out hope against hope that they will still pull through. And, when they don’t we are still not prepared for that ending. I recently went through that ending with my father.

My father was my rock and my biggest supporter.  He was my health guru, my confidant, my guide, my shoulder to cry on or share my frustrations with, and the first person to share my joys with. Most of all, he was my friend. He was just always there for me; there are very few people in my life that I can say that about.  So I think this is why it’s just so hard to accept that he is no longer here. So, even though I know he is gone I still take my steps forward hoping he is still with me in some way.

So, this is my new chapter.  I’m unsure of what will come next but I have in front of me a new job, a move to a new home and a different future—without him.

One of the things I am finding so far is that my friends are becoming my family.  I have always had good friends but I am relying on them more and caring about them more.  I think this is a good thing.  I’m learning how to love more and to extend that love outward. And, I think they are feeling more needed and I think everyone needs to feel that from those that they care about.

Another thing I am finding is that I’m planning my future better. I’m thinking more carefully about my next steps and taking them with my eyes on the future.  After all, I have only myself to rely on as lonely as that is at times. While I have a partner in my life, I have no one to look out for me unconditionally at least not like a parent.  It’s different now and I am ultimately responsible for myself.

And, then I find that I am thinking about retirement.  While it is still about 15 years away, I am taking more cautious steps and holding on to my money more.  I’m also re-assessing the role of “things” in my life and moving out the unnecessary stuff and keeping only what is dear to me. It’s funny how we collect stuff.  Right before my father died we went through his garage to get rid of what he no longer needed or wanted.  The irony is that when he died, he couldn’t even take what was left with him. Stuff is irrelevant but yet we cling to it.

I am also thinking about alternative incomes that I can build so I have options, even when I have a job–something that I enjoy but will make me money in my spare time. It’s always good to have a backup. I think this is also because I have no parents as my backup.  Not that I asked for money or needed it from my parents but they were always my safety net.  Now, I am my own safety net.

All in all, my heart is still broken from losing my dad but I’m taking the next steps, moving on to the next chapter and most likely on to more transformation.  It sometimes saddens me to think that even at my age I’m not too old to be an orphan.  And, I’m not sure if losing both your parents has any upside but if there is I hope to find it.  I’m sure I’ll become stronger and I know my heart will heal eventually.  I’m open to what the next chapter brings.  After all, nothing is for sure except change and if we pay attention, a new chapter that leads to amazing transformation.
transformation_butterfly


Check out D. Cooper’s book about effectively deciphering job ads in order to find that perfect job you want! Easy to read, follow and put into practice!

https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Reading-Job-Ads-Know-ebook/dp/B01CF52HL2?ie=UTF8&keywords=D.%20Cooper&qid=1462494065&ref_=sr_1_2&sr=8-2

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I am Darkness, I am Light

Everything is born out of darkness. The planets, in their infinite intrigue, the sun in all its brilliant splendor, the moon graciously illuminated by the sun, the tiniest plants that emerge through a million granules of dirt. And, us. Humans, created inside another human, curled up, eyes shut tight, surrounded by- darkness. Upon birth, we are welcomed by light. The same light that continues to nourish us until we close our eyes and once more welcome darkness before we transition onward.

I’ve come to believe that if we didn’t experience darkness, fall into it, feel it seep into our core, we wouldn’t transform or progress. We would never see our faults…to ourselves, to others. We’d be condemned to a life of complacency and self-righteousness.

On the flip side, remaining in the darkness for too long can be unhealthy, and downright dangerous. Let me share with you some very personal stories of my darkness. The darkness I became trapped in, and the darkness that helped me break through to blinding white light. These are two poignant times of my life where I can think back to and remember the lessons learned.

The blackest darkness came during a period of time I was dealing with my family with another unconventional relationship with an older man. Back then, I was no where near who I am today, so I didn’t know how to communicate in an effective manner, to take responsibility or to get help. Honestly, I didn’t know who I was or what I was doing. During that period, I became stuck. After lying to my parents about being at college during a spring break when I really wasn’t, my parents were enraged and upset. So was I. They told me that they didn’t want me to come home for the summer, which was only two months from that spring break. Initially, I thought, okay they’re really mad, but they’ll come around and we’ll have a good, long, hard, rational talk. Well, we did have that. They did say that I could come home (with all kinds of stipulations…that I was willing to accept since I was so desperate to come home). I was thrilled. A little upset over said stipulations, but I didn’t care. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be with my parents. It was true turmoil leading up to this point in trying to apologize and negotiate. So, after I began feeling better, my parents and I had another talk, and when we did…they shifted their viewpoint and changed their mind: they no longer wanted me to come home. They were adamant about not letting me. I had no where else that I wanted to go. Places to go- probably. Places I really wanted to go- none, not even to my ex’s. Devastation and pure rage hit. I had one of the biggest breakdowns ever in that apartment on the fourth floor. Screaming, crying, hyperventilating, throwing books…etc. This went on for quite some time, all the while my roommate and her boyfriend at the time were over. Embarrassed, I explained what happened and why I was a wreck. There wasn’t much they could do. Days passed, and I calmed down, but the inner torture and turmoil did not. The situation was so extreme and difficult that my older, distant boyfriend at the time was helpless. At this point in my life I was barely open about my liking older guys. There probably was only a short list of three friends that knew. Of course, I was terrified of judgement back then. Point is- I had trouble reaching out to them. The friends I did couldn’t help me. Depression spiraled, and like any desperate, depressed soul, I contemplated suicide. I wrote a letter (not a letter that I was going to do it), but a letter that I was considering it, because the situation got so bad, to my parents. They were going to be the first to know. My senses came about and I realized after writing out the letter, that I couldn’t possibly go through with it, even though I felt strongly left alone. I tucked the letter away and didn’t talk about it. Soon after I chose to see a counselor, (which didn’t help in the slightest). So, on I remained in my utter darkness. Alone. Afraid. So afraid. Desperate. Sad. Lost. Completely lost.

Long story short- I remained in this until one day, my parents finally changed their mind again and said that I could come home. I did, and that summer was certainly a difficult one for numerous reasons. That darkness was not the good kind. I would like to say I’ve never experienced a darkness  like that after, but sadly there were other episodes.

Now! Here’s a story about how I was able to identify my darkness and get out of it. About a year ago, as I was sitting with Dave at the kitchen table, I was in a facebook messaging argument with my mom. When I was finished, I was so flustered I bawled. Dave immediately was concerned and thought of a solution. That solution: the Landmark Forum. After attending a personal intro, (begrudgingly I might add), I attended what were the most intense three days of my life. Within a windowless room with a peppy woman as a leader, myself and about 100 other dubious souls sat, listened, participated and ultimately transformed. Not everyone did, and in the beginning I didn’t think that I would either. I could go into immense detail about the weekend, but I’ll save that for another post! This long story short was that, during that time I realized that a lot of the darkness that I was encountering was within me! All of it. Every drop. I literally “didn’t know what I didn’t know.” Then, I discovered what was hidden, and felt that I had to take action. That action was calling up my mom on a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon in May, on a park bench in the middle of Philly. It was tough. I recall sitting there, heart ready to bust through and fly across the park, nervously fidgeting, telling Dave that I couldn’t do it over and over and over, until- beep. Riiiing, riiiing. “Hello?”

A lump the size of Texas arose in my throat and I found myself unable to properly speak. “I can’t understand you!” My mother said as I started crying. Finally, the words came gushing out. I explained to her where I was, what I was doing and how it was helping me. Then I went on to apologize for the past. For all those times I lied and hurt her and my dad. In those brief moments, moments that I would carry for a lifetime, I became fully responsible for the old me. The old me who fought and lied and hurt her parents. I let it all out. There was silence for a time after. My mom didn’t know what to say. She eventually admitted that she was really hurt. But then went on to say that things couldn’t be different from the way they were. I didn’t get angry, but tried to tell her that yes, things could be completely different. Our relationship could be mended. I guess she couldn’t see what she couldn’t see. Time was up; I had to get going to make it back in time. After informing my mom of this, I told her I would most likely call again. I think she had tears at this point and said okay.

I said, “I love you.”

Silence.

“I love you.”

My mom hung up without those three words in return.

I lost it again. Hurriedly collecting my things through tears, we went back. I shared my story to the now less dubious 100 some strangers. It was liberating.

Ever since then, I have been a completely different person. The Landmark seminar I’m currently in is continually helping me see my darkness, to be in it, and to help me know and see that there is a way out. But I can’t know that way out unless I’m in the “sewage”. I get that! If you aren’t willing to see where you are stuck and struggling, either because you don’t want to, or because you’ve just adapted to the sewage, darkness, what have you, then you won’t be able to be open to or have a miracle.

Now, every dark spot I am willing to recognize. I know that I’m in it. I recognize and acknowledge what’s going on and right where I’m at. I know that I can get out. Some hard conversations might ensue…conversations with my parents about their harsh attitude about Dave. But those are the ones I need to have in order to show them the darkness, so that maybe we can get out of it together.

I’m not saying that Landmark is the solution for everyone. But I know that everyone can get out of their darkness and become the brightest beacon of light in their own way. Take the time to recognize where it comes from, how you got there, what you’re feeling/how it’s making you feel. Then analyze the possibilities of the situation- the possibilities where you could break out. Really look at all of them. Don’t just settle for the first one that comes to mind. Surprise yourself. If that means having a difficult conversation with someone, do it. Let go of fear. If that means seeing a counselor or doctor, do it. If that means looking into different self-help programs, books, or workshops, do it! In order to make the change you wish to see and live you have to take the first step. And I know that the first step is the hardest! Once you make it though, you can continue walking forward, positively into the direction of your dreams and desires.

It all starts with you and what’s deep inside!

The Miraculous is Waiting

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“Stretching to reach it,

we fall.

Running to catch it,

we get lost.

Pretending to be enlightened,

we become dim and foolish.

Trying to ‘do it right’,

we fail.

Looking for praise,

we receive nothing.

Grabbing hold of it,

we lose it.

 

All of this strutting, striving,

straining, and grasping

is excess baggage.

The very freedom it promises does not appear

until we lay it down.”

-Tao- Verse 24 from the book A Path and A Practice


Dave and I have become enrolled in another Landmark seminar. It’s fantastic. The title alone was alluring enough to sign up right away (even though I did have my own reservations at first due to lengthy time commitments and an hour drive each way). Nonetheless- “Causing the Miraculous”. Ah, doesn’t everyone want the miraculous in their life? Don’t we all want to taste a miracle, have its very essence swirl around our being and continue to plunge into our soul where we become stirred enough to live differently? I certainly believe that’s enticing. Throughout my life, even though I was Christian and believed that God was the only one to grant miracles, there weren’t many in my life that I can count. My mom was severely ill throughout my teens. There was a time I sincerely believed that she was going to die; I had to mentally prepare myself in case this became a reality. It was during those days that I would pray hard…for a, yep, you guessed it, a miracle! Since I was in mainly in the dark with knowing the details of her condition, I didn’t have a lot of hope. As hard as I prayed she got pretty bad…a little bit better…and then worse than ever. I wanted off that roller coaster of sickening, depressive worry. I had no clue what to believe in at that point. I became angry. One friend at the time tried hard to convince me that trusting in God was the only way to not worry. So, after much debate, during the two treacherous weeks my mom was in the hospital nearly dying, I switched over to full on belief. But, I gave it up pretty quickly and flung all notions of prayer and God out the window. I remember saying at one point out loud, “God, or whoever, if this is really her time just take her already! I don’t want this, but I can’t handle the pain of not knowing.”

After all of this, my mom made it out. It was a slow recovery, but she lived. It was then I thought, ‘wow, what a miracle! Maybe now she’ll change her attitude and live a different, happier life.’ I’m not entirely sure that happened, as her gratitude for life didn’t grow as I had expected; she actually continued to be negative for a while. It was disheartening. So, instead of her having this brand new outlook on life, I grasped it tightly. I didn’t want to be miserable and negative. I realized life was too short. As difficult as it was, I squeezed my way out of it a little. Part of me believed it was the power of prayer that brought her back to life, yet that wasn’t my only miracle.

Dave was my next miracle. He was with me while I struggled with my mom’s health issues and long hospital stay. Without expecting anything or asking him, he just naturally became dedicated to helping me through it all. Talking with me and listening to me in person and emailing me profusely. Compassion flooded out of him and into me every time I saw him, which was every day, every other day at least. He just did it. Every word spoken and written to me held immense significance; there wasn’t a time when he didn’t say the perfect thing at the perfect moment. I felt peace and reassurance. Dave also was mentoring me to love my mom in ways I’ve never loved her before; he desired to see our relationship flourish. Those moments were beautiful and I will forever cherish them.

To this day, this man still releases his unconditional love to those who need it. Those who are far away in distance and those that he hasn’t spoken to in years. It totally astounds me how he is able to do this. The complete, selfless compassion that pours from his soul is beautiful and moving. Recently, he did this with someone he knows in Australia, and another friend that he reconnected with after years of not seeing her. I watched him help them in the exact way that he helped me. Honestly, lovingly, kindly, helpfully, selflessly. Miraculously! He’s my miracle.

Last year there was another incident where I witnessed Dave be generously giving. There was a homeless man that lived in an old, rusty van at our storage business. He was a recluse, schizophrenic, yet very much content with his lifestyle. One day, he was in a rage. Dave decided to drive down to the business to see what was up and to possibly chat with the homeless man. Even though the homeless man was upset and angry and yelling…Dave never got mad at him. Instead, he simply listened. He asked him a few questions about the current situation, then eventually asked where those feelings/actions of anger could have stemmed from. Due to the way Dave asked, the homeless man poured out his story of why he didn’t like being around people. Turns out, he was bullied a lot when he was much younger. Now, I wasn’t there when Dave had this conversation, but I during the recount, Dave told me that the homeless man thanked him and felt much better after. Again, true compassion.

I asked Dave how he does this. He actually said that sometimes it’s like flipping a switch. He’ll be in one frame of mind, and suddenly, when a situation would arise, he would switch to full on loving mode where he would be able to give himself fully. He admitted he loves when this happens as he “loves to feel.” Meaning, he loves feeling every emotion there is, especially the mushy ones. 🙂 And I love it, too! It’s an inspiration to me.

According to Landmark’s definition of a miracle, it’s an event in time that knocks your socks off and forces you to reinterpret life as you know it. Dave’s total soul-baring love has made me reinterpret life in the way that I question, “why aren’t more people like this?! Why am I not like this? It’s just…so natural and flowing with him. Deep and meaningful.” Everyone could use this type of deep love. In a tough situation, it takes seconds to get angry, lash out, scream, call names, blame, cry. But it takes minutes, hours, sometimes days or longer to find deeper compassion and actually express it. Whether it’s in the form of forgiveness or help. It takes more effort and time to be loving; there’s no simple chemical reaction firing away in the brain to help you do this as with anger. And that’s sad! Humanity as a whole needs to practice this sacred way of being. It would be wonderful if compassion came before judgement, if love came before automatic hate. Hate is based on fear and fear is based on the past. It’s a trend in everybody.

We need to take the time to be in the now. We need to take the time to break the trend of hate. Realize we are all full of love that’s just waiting to be poured out! In our communications, even during a difficult situation, no matter what that situation may be, think in peace. Be peaceful. Take hold of the situation and react in a kind, loving way without a loss of personal power. We are the only ones in control of ourselves. The more you practice, the more it will become natural. Realize that the moment you’re in will pass as you handle it with grace and ease. You also have to know that miracles won’t come if you expect them, if you try hard to make them happen.

I’m working on it, and yes, I’ll admit it is a bit of a challenge as I’ve been conditioned to just react in outbursts. When something happens, I try to stop myself in the moment and then think, ‘is this really worth getting worked up over?’ Usually the answer is no. Even after a situation has passed, I would think back and ask myself, ‘why did I get so upset? I just wasted a lot of time here.’

Take the time to be grateful for everything in life. Every challenge, every struggle. Everything! In the now there is gratefulness, in gratefulness there is peace. In peace there is happiness. In happiness there are miracles. Miracles are waiting for you! They will appear only if you create the space for them to live, breathe, and thrive.

Have you caused the miraculous to happen in your life lately?

Prescribing My Own Personality

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“It’s the strangers in your life
That you’d never thought you’d meet.
It’s the hand that picked you up
When you’re laying in the street.

It’s the hand that cut you down,
It’s the dream that someone shared
When you thought that all was lost.
It’s the friend that wasn’t there.

You can run from all the memories,
But never get that far
For in the end they’ll find you
For this is who you are.

Change one note,
Change one line,
Nothing’s going to be the same.
Change one loss,
Change one cut,
Everything is rearranged…”

This is Who You Are – Trans-Siberian Orchestra


Is it perhaps Fate that determines who walks into our lives and who walks out? Does the universe conspire to bring us certain people to us at certain times? Or is it all up to us? Or are we the ones who are in control and responsible for the friendships we gather and foster?

My social life has never been a bowl of cherries. I grew up very much introverted (without ever really knowing what that meant at the time), and grew up with much awkwardness around others. Ever since kindergarten, I never could “click” with anyone. I had a few close friends, but as we got older, we parted ways. High school was an atrocity- most people were shallow and caught up in the surface, material world. Again, I had a couple close friends, but over time they just didn’t stick. They came and went like the wind. Once college rolled around, I figured, whelp, if the whole friend/social thing hasn’t worked out by now, it surely must during college! Nope. Turns out, my friend/acquaintance group substantially shrunk through the years, and I still felt awkward in groups and never really wanted to be close with anyone. Yet, some of the few close friends I had at the time weren’t right for me, actually they ended up being the most toxic.

I had to figure it all out. And, I had to feel comfortable in my own skin. Thankfully, I feel I have accomplished both! I’m writing now to explain how, through intense, introverted self-analysis, I’ve come to conclusions that have helped me break out and start thinking about my social life and values of that in a whole new light.

One of the biggest factors for me, personally, was my social interactions growing up at home. I would say that I spent about 90% of my time either alone (since I’m an only child) or around adults. My parents never sent me to a daycare or preschool. They never got me involved in sports or any other extracurricular activities when I was really young. And, I didn’t grow up in an area where there were a lot of kids my age on the street where I lived. I do have to give my mom credit for raising me the way she did, as her dedication was unfaltering. I believe she still to this day carries a sense of pride for being able to teach me a lot before I stepped foot in a school. And for that I am grateful. At the time, I didn’t mind not playing any sports or going to any sort of lesson or what have you…I actually enjoyed being home all the time. My imagination flourished. I taught myself to play the keyboard, I drew, colored, built things, played video games, pretended and created scenarios while playing with stuffed animals…the list goes on. It would have been inconceivable to have to consciously share all that with another being my age! I don’t think there was ever a time I envied my friends for having siblings. Anyway, I quickly latched onto feeling comfortable by myself and mainly having one on one interactions.

As for mainly being around adults, well, when I was little, I remember my parents always hanging out, drinking and playing adult games primarily with my aunt and uncle. There were countless occasions where I’d witness them doing their own thing, while I had to occupy myself for hours. Then, when we went out, there were countless times that I would join my parents at the local legion where they’d sit and drink for (forever!). They plopped me in a chair aside the bar and gave me a soda and a snack and there I waited. A lot of the patrons there got to know me and said hi to me every time we went in, but it wasn’t like I was at the age to just strike up a jolly conversation. I would guess I was between the ages 7 and 10 ish. Point is- minimal contact of kids my age.

Both of these ongoing incidences carried into those unmentionable high school years. When summer after summer I griped to my parents that I didn’t have anyone to hang out with, they responded saying that, “I created that myself.” They claimed this, because I would allegedly turn down friends’ requests to do things. And yes, there were times this was true. I just didn’t want to. I don’t know why. Possibly because I enjoyed and got so used to the comfort of being alone. Now, I can look back and say, yes, my parents were right. I chose not to hang out, and then felt awkward when I did. Partially, that was because I had different interests and thoughts than them. Also, because I just wasn’t used to it! Part of me wishes I could go back and choose differently, but the other part of me realized that those events, feelings needed to happen to aid in the development of things much deeper inside of me.

It was during those times where I was alone that I channeled my writing skills- journaling more and creating more poetry. This was important, as when I got to college, my passion carried, and ultimately led me to choose my major in English where I was excited and comfortable.

Now, that I’m out of college, and am physically separated  from those few close friends I made, it’s been making me think about where I’m at socially. The people that Dave and I do meet are about an hour away, and when we seem to meet someone really cool, they seem to be further away, are going to move, work a ton, or just aren’t a match. Good friends are hard to come by! So, instead of wishing for more friends, I take the experiences of positive connections as they come and learn what I can- then I realize that I am okay right where I’m at! Being an introvert, is perfect for the creative mind. The interactions I do have, since more rare, are more meaningful and inspirational. Ever since living with Dave, the people I’ve met have impacted me in an enormous way! Every one of them is influential in one way or another. I take the lessons I’ve learned and carry them, build on them, to become a better person, who is more at peace. Most of these people, these mentors and beautiful souls I meet are during holistic shows and are older than I. Therefore, their knowledge base of worldly experience is much more vast than my own. It’s nice to catch a glimpse of what my future could be- it’s reassuring to know that I can constantly develop new skills and have a fresh and pure mindset about the world around me. I know I can reach my own enlightenment this way.

Other than that, I’ve been working on calligraphy, writing more, getting back into music, reading and all the other things that I couldn’t do if either I was working all day or around a lot of other people. I’m carving out my own path without the external stimuli that might have the potential to interrupt or block my creativity. I’m diving down and dusting off hidden corners and crevices of my soul I never thought I’d find! It’s in those corners that I’m learning more about myself and heightening my potential while expanding my possibilities!

If you, too are looking to do the same, yet are in a busy environment, try to take free time in the evening, or perhaps in the morning to meditate and have alone time. It’s in those private moments that you can go down deep. Close your eyes. Ask yourself what you are desiring. Ask yourself what’s in the way for that. Then ask yourself how you can take on the challenge of overcoming what’s in the way. Be still. If the answer doesn’t come immediately, have patience. It will come. Always at the right place and right time.


 

Become totally empty,

Quiet the restlessness of the mind.

Only then will you witness everything

Unfolding from emptiness.

See all things flourish and dance

In endless variation.

And once again merge back into perfect emptiness—

Their true repose.

Their true nature.

Emerging, flourishing, dissolving back again.

This is the eternal process of return.

To know this process brings enlightenment.

To miss this process brings disaster.

 

Be still.

Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity,

Eternity embraces the all-possible,

The all-possible leans to a vision of oneness,

A vision of oneness brings about universal love,

Universal love supports the great truth of Nature.

The great truth of Nature is Tao.

Whoever knows this truth lives forever.

The body may perish, deeds may be forgotten,

But he who has Tao has all eternity.

Verse 16- Tao Te Ching

 

Flow Like Water, Sing Like Wind

“The best way to live is to be like water. For water benefits all things and goes against none of them.”

“One who lives in accordance with nature does not go against the way of things. He moves in harmony with the present moment always knowing the truth of just what to do.”

-Tao Te Ching- Verse Eight

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Go with the flow. A statement so simple and clear. One that’s given in abundance, and yet unbelievably difficult to achieve when you get swept up in the hurricane of life. You could be spinning and spinning, and resisting the entire way. In resistance, you won’t find peace. In order to catch up with yourself and your life it’s essential to let go. My recent experience with a stray cat and a scare with rabies is a prime example.

My boyfriend, Dave and I decided to take in a stray cat who we’ve been seeing on and off for a few months. He is not neutered and presumed to have been part of another human family at some point due to his affection. We got minor bites. We then chose to take him to the vet to get him checked and get him a shot for rabies. And so, we did and when at the vet, the woman that took care of “Ghost Kitty” as we’ve been calling him, recommended we go to the ER or urgent care immediately as we got bit prior to the visit. Well, we didn’t think that was appropriate because we were required to keep the cat quarantined for 10-14 days and if he were to pass away, then we’d know he’d have rabies. Two days after this visit, I got unpredictably bitten extremely hard on the leg. Naturally, fear set in and then I debated on getting the rabies vaccine again, but was tortured because I wasn’t sure it was actually necessary and I was concerned for Ghost. For three or four days I travelled this roller coaster of worry- “Am I okay?” “Will I be okay?” “What do we do now?” “Is the cat going to live?” etc. I felt physically weary and mentally worked up for these days and even lost sleep.

To make a long story short, Dave and I did decide to get the vaccine and a day before that, I decided that in order to feel better, even before the shots, I had to let go of the fear that was gripping my mind. Basically, my mind was the only thing that was torturing me. It really was a case of mind over matter. Once I shook the feelings of nervousness, all of my physical stress vanished. Even better, once Dave and I had the first round of shots, we felt totally assured that we were fine, the cat was fine, and life can move on. We chose to move on and live! There was no sense in worrying.

That being said, there’s a smaller example that I’ve been struggling with on and off and that’s with money. I don’t have a steady job right now that is bringing in income. I’m working on a freelance website for editing, but those jobs are hit and miss. I’m working with my boyfriend at his storage business, but we only get one or two days a week there, and I have an ebay store and sell stuff, but that’s also hit and miss. In order to not get “stuck” in the corporate world of, “work your ass off every day just to get by”, I’m not running out and applying for any job that will get me that quick buck. Now, if I were living at home, I’ll admit I’d most likely be doing that…I must consider myself considerably lucky to be living with Dave and having him help me out every step of the way. Anyway, again, I realized I can’t keep freaking out that I haven’t as much money as I’d like. That’s totally in my control and it’s up to me to make that happen if I want it to. Along with no one doing that for me, I know that if I constantly worry, I will get nowhere either. Going with the flow and dealing with what is currently in front of me is all I can do.

Life is in constant motion; you and I are in the flow daily. Within that larger flow, we are in our own personal flow that we constantly create. Today, and every day I wish to flow like water and benefit myself and those that are around me in a blissful and peaceful state. I’ll admit, I’m not an expert at this yet; I lose my patience frequently, I rant when I’m upset over a circumstance that isn’t going in my favor, and I’ll often become negative about a situation/task if I become stressed over it. Yet, I am working to eliminate all of those behaviors. Dave is being a tremendous help to me as are those I choose to have around me. Positive friends with good vibes can get me there all the way!

So, how can YOU go with the flow today? What’s on your mind that’s bothering you? Is there a situation you’re in right now ether in your personal or work life that is just slowly chugging along and you feel like you won’t make it up that hill? If so, just pause, breathe, and realize that all things come to pass. Let the worry drain away and notice that you are in control, and if you feel that you are not in control, you can release the unnecessary tension and drama to better live a life where you can flow like water and sing like the wind that blows free over mountains, oceans, plains and valleys. Find peace with whatever you’re dealing with and think positive! Tell yourself, “Nothing can bring me down!” Deal with what comes as it comes with a peaceful heart and there will be no trouble. Life is a progress— a progress of steps, accomplishments, and failures. All of which are organic. Stress and anxiety are not organic. So, let go and go with the flow!

Namaste!

Transformed and Trailblazing

Welcome 2016! It’s a grand pleasure to meet you! I have graciously bowed my head in reverence, and gratitude toward 2015 and bade him farewell. And I’ve also glanced back upon that monumental year in great remembrance; so much has happened and I have created so many new experiences and relationships! I have completely transformed my entire way of being, my mindset, and my attitude. I’d like to share these exciting revelations with you; they are what I value a lot and I hope that they can be inspirational!

This year was THE year for immense transformation in several facets of my life. Intensity, anxiety, pain, sadness were all what I endured to get to where I am today. I overcame serious personal struggles, family struggles along with some lingering relationship struggles. Now, I no longer fear who I am…I realized that I really DO have the power to have and do anything that I want in my life- ANYTHING! There’s nothing to hold me back- no emotions, no thoughts, no people, no fears. Only I am responsible for my life and I have harnessed that responsibility to make some serious changes! Some of these include feeling empowered in my everyday life to make a difference, feeling more motivated and organized to complete both productive and fun tasks, being fearless when it comes to difficult conversations- not expecting/fearing a predicted outcome (which almost always was bad in my mind!). Going along with that, I have made deep apologies to family members that I have hurt when I was younger—that wasn’t easy for me! I expressed these apologies for my past actions both verbally and in written form. The outcome wasn’t the happy one I hoped for, but for me, I completed something that felt incomplete; I no longer have to carry guilt for those transgressions.

I could NOT have gotten through all of that if it weren’t for my boyfriend Dave or the Landmark course I took in the spring of 2015. I looked back at my blog and realized that I never fully expanded on that weekend, but let me say that it was one of the most powerful, extraordinary, intense, grueling experiences of my entire life. When you are made to work with yourself and really dig down deep into your brain and soul in a compressed amount of time, you find out A LOT that you didn’t know. You discover things you never thought existed and you learn how to work through struggles- past, present and future so that they never are a problem. You learn honesty, integrity, responsibility and communication. I remember feeling quite terrified in the months leading up to the Landmark Forum in Philly in May, but I also remember how quickly the anxiety vanished and how rapidly I was adopting and adapting to the language, mindset and the distinctions that were presented to me steadily throughout the entire weekend. Also, for me personally it was a big challenge to talk with strangers one and one in short periods of time throughout the entire weekend. You’re also strongly encouraged to sit next to new people after every break. It was a positive experience for me as I got the opportunity to work through my social anxiety in order to meet and get to know some really cool people with amazing stories!

So, Landmark was incredible, and so was the seminar series called, “Living Passionately” that followed for a few months. I gained even more there and was actually able to apply new concepts weekly with those around me. Again, mainly family, but it felt supportive and encouraging to go back to a seminar after accomplishing (and even not accomplishing!) something I attempted and share it with the group who were working through the same concepts. They then shared what they were going through and every week felt like this massive build-up of accomplishments; the energy was astounding. Were there tears? Yes, but overall, there were smiles, laughs and boosted confidence. I have carried this confidence with me ever since and boldly clung to it for this new year. I’m hoping to partake in a new seminar in about a month called, “Causing the Miraculous”.

Aside from all in person ‘training’ if you will, I’ve done my own reflecting on something different- my beliefs.

The second biggest transformation next to the family stuff was my religion. In 2015 I renounced the label of “Christian” and adopted what for me was a more practical belief system- Buddhism and Taoism. Again, I realized I am free to choose my own path; I took myself out of what I viewed as a mainstream, organized religion and immersed myself into a new and refreshing path. There’s a lot to learn, but I’m taking it at my own pace, on my own, and am discovering more about myself, my soul, nature, and the God in everything! I no longer have to feel tied to one belief and live my life in a particular way because, “that’s what I’m supposed to do”, or because, “it’s the ONLY way”. In the same way, I wish not to disrespect those who still follow that faith, as that’s their choice and that’s what fulfills their life. For me, I’ve gotten a new perspective. The concepts of church, sermons, tithing, living my life for God don’t fit for me anymore. Instead, I meditate in Mother nature and listen to what she has to offer and take what I can use, I give my time and shed my struggles instead of money and in turn, I live a life with God- a divine presence that thrives in every living and non-living thing alike. I am grateful for all I have, but don’t feel that one God got me through and gave me it all. Instead, I realize that I was responsible for where I am, how I got here, how I succeed, etc. And having some faith helped me through, but I didn’t need to rely on God or Jesus. Never before have I had a freedom so rewarding or refreshing.

And lastly, this year I also had countless firsts with Dave- I did things, traveled places, (ate things!) that I never thought I’d do/go/eat…like, EVER. Those were all amazing and the result was a more open mind and greater appreciation for the small things. The biggest and most exciting experience was getting my passport and traveling to a new country for the first time: Dave and I’s vacation to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic for my birthday. That was absolutely astounding. Being only the second time flying, I was a little nervous, and also nervous about the people in the DR, but in the end, everything and everyone was perfectly fine. My Spanish skills, even though not advanced by any means, got me through for the most part and even when we totally couldn’t understand someone who didn’t speak English, it was okay; we smiled, they smiled and all was good. Being around so many non-English speakers for so long gave me a perspective shift as well; it helped me appreciate other cultures and their lifestyles. It was humbling to have the opportunity to talk to people from different countries and I was amazed at how easy it was to connect. There weren’t any barriers! It’s hard to admit, but I can say it was easier to connect with foreigners in a mutually foreign country versus someone random on the street here in the US! All that aside, the entire vacation was an unforgettable experience! I could probably write 10 blog posts about just that!

There’s so much more I can say about the year! Dave and I spent a large chunk of time collecting our memories of bigger, fun events of the year and writing them all out on large sheets of paper in colored Sharpies! It was fantastic. 2015 was a miraculous year. My life has transformed and I’m certain there’s no going back to the “old me”. As Tarja sings in her song, “Falling Awake”–“…There is no returning to that emptiness, loneliness. The dream that lives inside of me won’t fade away, it’s wide awake!”

In this coming year, I will “fall awake” in new ways. I plan on being more of who I really am and showing it! Most importantly, I will adhere to all I’ve learned and stand for what I believe in…and stand for the most important, influential, deeply loving, caring man in my life- my lover, friend, soulmate and life partner- Dave. Our relationship is special- we both created a solid foundation- I want to see our lives flourish and grow in magnificent and magical ways.

I want to be more organised- make plans and no matter how big or small accomplish them! I wish to learn more and in a different way now that I’ve been out of school for a year; I want to read more– a little bit of everything– fiction, non-fiction, religion, science, language…the list goes on! I want to pursue crafting in a more serious way…create things with calligraphy to sell. I want to spend more time with family that I haven’t, see more friends that I haven’t and spend more time with the ones I can see easier…SO much! Oh yeah, and not to mention I want to blog on a steadier basis and begin to compile thoughts/posts that would be relevant and appropriate for an inspirational book…that’ll be a major accomplishment!

This year will be BIG. The first step in making it BIG for yourself is realizing that you can make whatever you want a reality! Then, the second is committing to that plan. After that, it just gets easier! Third, you can put your plan into action and when you see the results, become inspired to keep going! As you build up positive experiences, you can be motivated for more. Don’t take your tasks too seriously! Laugh along the way, and when a minor glitch occurs, or even a major one, take a step back, reassess and move forward in a new, progressive way. Funny, because there’s even a ton more I can say about that as Dave and I have been using a highly organised planning system with our “Franklin Covey” planners. (That’ll be another post!)

Best of all, the most beneficial thing you can do for yourself in the new year, and every new year that is to follow after that is, in the words of famed author Douglas Adams:

Defeating Darkness Before Death

 

“Did you ever walk up
To the edge of a cliff,
Stare into the abyss
As your mind wonders if

You should take one more step
Further into that night?
Well, your mind says you won’t
But your heart says you might.

Would you fall through the dark
Feel the wind in your hair?
Would you embrace the ground
Ending your life right there?

Or would God reach his hand
In that moment you fly?
Or if he chanced to blink
And then, that moment you die…”

Epiphany, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, from the album Night Castle 


Yes. I have walked up to the edge of a cliff and stared into the abyss as my mind wondered if I should take one more step…these lyrics are part of a longer interconnecting story written by the creator of the TSO and have to do with a young soldier who is in war…that aside, these lyrics speak to me personally, and have. They are speaking to me again, now because the topic of taking one’s life has been sparked by a great synchronicity.

Dave has a friend whom he doesn’t communicate with often, and just a few days ago she reached out to him for healing, speaking to him of a great tragedy. Her grandson, who was only 19, committed suicide a few weeks back and she is now grieving heavily with her surviving grandsons. Her children are gone (a unfortunate case of overdose and another suicide), so the grandsons are all she has. Now, I’ve seen Dave and (I’ll call her “D” for confidentiality) were friends on Facebook, but that’s about it; I never have met her in person nor on Facebook. Anyway, her story was so overwhelmingly heart-wrenching that I felt completely compelled to write to her and express my deepest and most sincere condolences. She was moved by my words and thanked me much. She then went on to explain how she follows Dave and I on Facebook and absolutely adores our relationship along with our many adventures. This is coming from a seventy-three year old woman who never even made eye contact with us yet knows our age difference! The humble generosity of some people is something I am eternally grateful for.

Anyway… D explained the entirety of the situation in detail, but I found it highly disturbing and don’t wish to write it here. The importance of this post doesn’t lie in those facts anyway. What matters to me and moves me the most is the sad fact that in general, so many young people take their lives over situations that could be overcome with some counselling, talking, and above all just listening by others, even a stranger. These young people perhaps may even just need a little extra love in their lives as it may not have been an emotion received as an infant, toddler or child.

In today’s ridiculously fast-paced society where a main chunk of our focus is on work, family, technology, attaining high grades, achieving high stats in sports, etc. there’s not much attention given to socio-emotional development. Now, when you’re a preschooler and during the first few years of elementary school, there’s emphasis given to children to integrate and be social, while learning how to get along with others properly. Yet, to me it seems so…mainstream. It’s as if the same techniques have been used over and over again, the basics so to speak, that the emotion in teaching children about emotion, has been eliminated! We teach them to be social, and we teach them manners, proper ways to interact. But, do we teach them what to do when feeling hurt deep down? In a way, yes. Talk to a parent, guardian, or teacher the answer might be. But then what? How are we to manage and work with these powerful, sometimes frightening emotions? As children grow older, they can have a tendency to become rebellious- wanting to act “tough” or “cool” because their peers are. So, soft emotions are thrown to the back burner where they are to be buried since appearing rough and tough is higher up on the priority list in order to fit in.

If a teen or young adult does end up attending counselling sessions, do they really feel heard? Is there success? I’m not sure. I can’t say as I’ve only went to one counselor in college, and I gained absolutely nothing, as the particular individual who was listening to me gave off strong vibes of, ‘I’m going to pretend to care and ask all the right questions, but really I’m not caring and think you’re messed up and there’s no help be gotten here.’ As disappointed as I was, I know I certainly cannot speak for all counselors out there, and that was only one hour of one day! What I’m getting at though, is that sometimes, for someone deeply troubled, going to sessions like that might not cut it. They can be drawn out to where getting to the heart of the issue can take weeks, and as the sessions pile up, so do the payments. In the end, that person that went to get help may very well end up more confused than when they set foot in the door!

What the issue boils down to is this: not enough children/teens/young adults and yes, even older adults, are being truly heard. They are conditioned by society, peer pressure and unfortunate circumstances such as family trouble to stuff the sad away. You’re to grin and bear it so you can make it out, move on and not be inhibited by the suffering. I cannot speak for the young man who recently took his own life, but based on his situation, I believe that’s something that could have helped him, maybe even saved him- being heard and told that it’s okay to let out emotions like sadness and anger and frustration. The key to overcoming all of those isn’t tossing the blanket over them, it’s really feeling them, in the moment, as they’re happening without reacting in a harmful way. When feeling extraordinarily troubled, call someone, meet up and just let it all out; a true friend and confidant certainly won’t judge. Once the emotion is out, talk. Just talk. Don’t worry about making sense…Dave and I like to use the phrase, “barf on the table” when referencing getting something out. So, yes, get with someone and just barf on the table; the mess can be cleaned up later and you’ll feel much better. That will be a big step in getting back on track to work at the issue that caused the sadness or whatever emotion and then the inevitable barf.

Another issue with letting emotion show is fear. Fear goes along with having that facade as “tough guy”. Meaning, if someone thinks that in order to fit into a certain group they have to be this way or that way, then they’ll be afraid of acting any other way as they might become rejected if they show weakness. Darwin in action on all the wrong levels.

It’s okay to feel sad! The movie, Inside Out portrays this concept wonderfully! Instead of stifling sadness, just let sadness be and she’ll do all right…she might even save the day if given the chance! Yet, if only reacting to anger, then a person will on go further away from others, themselves and the issue at hand; nothing gets solved when hiding from what you’re really feeling.

So what can we do? There’s already suicide prevention week. There’s a hotline to call…there’s counselors…yet these things, no matter how emphasized they are, don’t seem to be enough- the glass is only half full and always is. Why can’t we fill the glass completely with helpfulness so more young lives can be saved?

One small, yet significant thing you can do is simply reach out. Even if it’s a stranger that you see struggling or appearing down. Ask them how they are…but, go deeper, ask them what they are dealing with and not if, but how you can help. Encourage children/teens/young adults to go to a parent. Express to them that what you are feeling and why. Ask them for help.

I didn’t get that opportunity. After my thoughts slowed and the difficult situation passed that made me feel that down, I attempted to bring it up to my parents. My mother felt and showed no sympathy only responding harshly saying that, “if you ever play that suicide card again, you’ll really need help”. No mom, I needed your help when I was suffering. Some of that suffering was caused by your words in the moment- your actions. I wouldn’t have blamed you, but even if I did in the heat of the moment, you could have looked past that and actually asked me what was going on. Even after everything passed…you could have talked with me.

This was an extremely difficult situation for me, but I learned from it and gained insight that could potentially help others. I’m not blaming my mother now, and by no means am I saying that she is a poor mother. Absolutely not. I’m just putting the facts out there, and explaining that she could have gone a different, more helpful route. Again, all anyone needs to do is reach out to a friend, family member, anyone who is seriously down. Stay with them, no matter how okay they say they are. Listen. Tell them that no matter what, they will get through what they are going through, then offer advice to help and follow up on it. Follow up with them frequently and above all, let them know they are loved!

It doesn’t take much to be generous and show genuine love. Too many people are cold and careless- caught up in their own world, too blinded to see beyond themselves to help others. I have taken time to be with friends who were contemplating suicide. And I truly believe, even though they didn’t express it at the time, that I made a difference and had a positive impact on their lives. Dave and I will continue to help D and her surviving grandson, as they both seek guidance in this fragile time. We will be there for them to listen and lend a hand as needed.

Life is beautiful. Life is joy. Life is a privilege that’s meant to be played out to the fullest. Life can be filled to the brim with happiness, laughter, joy and celebration. Life is meant to be honored.

Richard Dawkins eloquently describes the privilege of being alive, and not being afraid of natural death in this spoken section in the final song of Nightwish’s most recent album, Endless Forms Most Beautiful: 

“We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will, in fact, never see the light of day outnumber the sands of the Sahara. Certainly, those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people.

In the teeth in these stupefying odds, it is you and I in our ordinariness that are here. We privileged few who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority never stirred?”

Let us live and be thankful for life and all the goodness, astounding beauty, abundant blessings and joy that it brings. All of the good can outweigh the bad.

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