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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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.

001-2-1

Killing Death

“You’ve given me the courage, you gave me confidence, to never be afraid of life, afraid of killing death.” -Circle II Circle

A song from one of my favorite and influential bands. This song in particular has meaning for me in a couple ways. One, meaning is related to my boyfriend, that I’ve had in mind for a while regarding my life, and the other meaning just came to me today. Recently, I got sad news that my uncle’s cancer, which he’s been fighting for months now, made its way to his brain and is slowly taking over. 😦 He was given about six months to live from what my aunt and mom told me. This is such a huge shock to the whole family. My uncle is someone who seems to be invincible; with his hard working ethics and family values at hand he appears as if nothing could ever go wrong. He was a carpenter for most of his life, then resigned to smaller jobs. Still, each one required a lot, and through it all, he gave his all. Since he was diagnosed with cancer almost a year ago, he still worked everyday to make ends meet for himself and my aunt.

With this sad news have been said, I’ve been reflecting on life and what it means to really live. Obviously, life is indeed short. You never know when your time is going to be up. It’s so easy to get caught up in life that you forget it could end. I have sworn to live my life to the fullest for quite a while now, mostly though that took place and more action when I left home and was able to be with Dave fully. I felt my life open up in incredible ways and everyday felt like a blessing rather than a curse. Or, just a day that was going to go by without anything meaningful and or exciting happening. I’m alive now. Everyday, I see the beauty of life. I see it in myself, in Dave and in the place where I’m living.

This morning, I woke up to two deer outside the window. It was wonderful to see this kind of life up close. It’s that type of thing that people tend to take for granted. “Psh, deer? Why would I care about them? See ’em every day, so what?” My attitude is swayed to the extreme opposite of that. “Wow, look at these amazing, delicate but strong creatures coming so close to the house! I want to take in their beauty of life and observe them happily. I am thankful for the deer.” There’s more to life when you can appreciate even the natural world you’re living in. In general, since getting into Buddhism more, I’ve been able to look closer at nature and really appreciate, and connect with it. Having that attitude has helped me greatly and has made me happier-  leaves me with a feeling that life is worth living, that even when you think there’s nothing good left, there’s a small (or large) beauty always around if you look close enough.

In my daily actions, I try to understand more who I am, what I do and how I affect others. Especially with Dave. We have been working hard on our relationship; we have been getting to the core of each others’ soul to unveil our true selves so that we might know each other and love each other more deeply and fully. It’s such a beautiful thing. With this type of connection, I can feel the sacredness that lives inside of us, between us. These are feelings I have come to love and appreciate beyond anything I’ve ever appreciated before. I’ve been working to expand on them and feel fully alive in that sense.

In general, I want to do more with my life. There’s a need inside of me to be more active and accomplish more so that I can feel like I’ve made a difference and an impact, both within myself and others. Dave’s life is my greatest inspiration for my life. It has been for so many years now. Ever since I met him, and got to know him- his personality first, and then his work and passions, I felt that he was someone that was truly happy and that people like that are hard to find…I wanted to live life with such vibrancy. Years passed, we separated, but still, there he was in the back of my mind and when we reconnected and got into a relationship, I saw a crack in my life that was stuck in a rut…when I moved out, I realized that I really could, finally, learn to live and experience life the way he does- completely happy while seeing the sacred and magical in everything.

I’m convinced everything happens for a reason. There’s no doubt that trouble befalls us only to teach us or bring us closer to another truth that’s not yet found. I will live. Breathe. Be close with those whose lives are further along. And I will share the wonder and joy that I perceive so that they may have a glimmer of hope in a darkening world.

Sorrow

The Art of Floating: Part III

My second and last stream of consciousness that occurred while in the float tank…

Is this what it feels like to be dead? Peaceful, enclosed in darkness, without any feeling? What if this is what everyone experiences after death…no Heaven with palaces, mansions, angles and streets paved of gold and no Hell with a burning lake of fire and torture. Just…nothingness. Or perhaps reincarnation really does occur. Maybe this is what the mighty, tall tress feel like…unable to move but alive, rooted for 100 years…a blade of grass, in an open field, undisturbed. Rooted, still, except for the breezes that come, the rains that fall and or the snow that lands softly. No sensations of hot or cold or pain or pleasure, yet able to watch many facets of life pass by. Maybe near a street, where all kinds of people are walking and talking or running or playing. Maybe near a house, where families live, breathe, eat, laugh, yell, sleep and thrive. As a tree, branches extended to reach more sunlight, way up high, away from harm. The only concern is a weary traveler coming to rest from a day of flight. I want to feel this peace, this deep profound stillness forever. No more anxiety, pain or depression. If this perfect stillness and balance is what occurs after death, well, I won’t be so afraid to go when my time comes.