Creating Healthy Boundaries

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“When confrontation arises, we face it without aggression. When someone opposes us, we do not give in to anger. We view no one as a competitor because we do not seek our own way.

We know our strengths and we know our weaknesses. We use them each for benefit. We are not trying to fix ourselves or others so we move naturally and easily along our path.” –Tao Te Ching (translation of verse 68)*

Sometimes, you just gotta walk away. Take a deep breath, and take some steps back. Are you dealing with someone that you still want in your life but your relationship isn’t quite meshing? Have you been trying to convince them of a point of view, an attitude, a new way of being, a belief? There are times when no matter how many words you say, conversations (or arguments) you have, a person will not change their view. And that’s okay! Instead of getting stuck with spinning tires, lay off the gas, and turn the motor off! Breathe. I’ve been learning and practicing this essential trick for the past few months with my family.

Here’s a secret to letting go: realize it’s not the person that you are walking away from- it’s their behavior. I struggled with that concept for a long time until Dave led me to a personal epiphany. So many times people are quick to judge. Quick to doom a situation. Quick to give up and think that they have to get rid of the person that they are in conflict with. Yep, that’s where I was! In my mind, I was never going to have my family back, because they will never change, and the only solution to heal the pain then was to detach completely. And that felt pretty crappy. I still yearned to talk to my family and remain in close connection.

I had to give up what was in my way since they weren’t willing to give up what’s in their way.

It didn’t take me long to drop all my “nevers”. Why worry about some invisible future that may or may not happen? I held onto my mindset of being in the now. Right now. No other moment. Not in the past or the future. Eckhart Tolle sums it up quite well- “What a liberation to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am. ‘Who am I, then?’ The one who sees that.”

Sometimes it’s crazy hard to let go, and just be in the present moment. Therefore, it’s even more difficult to create those healthy boundaries! Typically, you remain trapped on the hamster wheel, spinning faster, and faster, (coming up with more and more arguments as to why “you’re right”) and eventually, your legs run out of stamina and you’re flung off and splattered against a wall- defeated.

If you’re truly dealing with someone you authentically care about, show them! The greatest gift you could give them is a boundary! With a boundary, you can still communicate. In my case, the boundary was not physically seeing my parents because they refuse to acknowledge Dave. That hurts both of us. Yet, I created the possibility of still being as close, and loving as I can to them. I call my mom often, and we chat for hours! We haven’t exchanged gifts in about 3 years…last year was the first! I could speak with my dad more easily, too. What it boils down to, is that I can just be myself.

After all, when you’re just yourself, your completely honest self who’s not trying to resist, not trying to change, or feed into drama or create it, who could hurt you?

Beauty reigns in simplicity. It all starts with a conversation. Talk to the person you care about that you feel you have to create a boundary with. Stand firm in your belief. If the other person becomes angry, or sad, remember to not take it personally. They have a right to their feelings, too! It’s also healthy to let them express everything they need to. There will come a point in the conversation when those options are exhausted. There will be an energy shift where you feel a mutual understanding being reached. This is a good place to end the conversation peacefully. Express your care, and love for that person, and hopefully they will return it back. After this, all following conversations should be easy.

How can these boundaries be overcome if one person isn’t willing to budge, yet continues to be civil and close, but distantly?

I’ve come to believe, with Dave’s insight, that if the person in opposition truly cares, and feels that they want to reestablish a connection, or mend some aspects of the relationship- they will. They will be the one to come to you to mend some broken fences. (I have yet to experience that, fully.) But! I am happy to say that that has happened with an Aunt of mine. Dave and I are becoming closer with her, and the feeling is amazing!

Pro Tip: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT ever blame the person that you’re upset with. When you blame someone, you make them wrong. In situations like these, no one is right or wrong. Keep that in mind when attempting to work it out.

Hold a space in your mind, in your heart. Your boundaries won’t last forever, but in the meantime, they will be healthy!


 

*Image result for a path and a practice by william martinQuote taken from one of my favorite, most influential books- A Path and a Practice by William Martin.

 

 

 

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Perfect Stranger of Yourself

Can you imagine looking at your current self as a complete stranger? Can you imagine completely dissolving the haunting, disillusioning power that your mind has on you? And, can you imagine tasting freedom, not for only one second, but for one lifetime- the flavor lingering on your tongue for as long as you desired?

These were things I could never imagine just a few years ago. I was stuck, trapped, a slave to endless shortcomings that were driving me insane- but insanity never tasted so good…back then. Insanity quickly melted into seething sadness and endless anxiety. Day after day wondering why I was doing what I was doing, wondering why I was with the people I was with, wondering why those close to me were creating the deepest pain, and wondering…was life worth it?

Breaking apart the mind to separate despair from delight is no easy feat. You can spend your whole life bending, pushing, pulling, only to find your fingers slip, your body fall. It took me years to break my mind apart, and I can admit that the sadness still finds its way in amongst the bliss I encounter pretty much daily at this point.

So, what happened?

I gave up the fight and fought at the same time. I relinquished the despair that had its grip on my mind. I gave up those that were no longer serving me. I was hurting people I loved. I was becoming distant to those that wanted to be close. As difficult as it seemed at the time, I just made the decision to let it all go.

So, how did I let it all go? (Like that’s ever easy!)

I stopped giving my brain the power to rule over me. It was all an illusion. I took responsibility for the hurt and harm I willingly and sometimes unknowingly gave to others. Then, I shook the past from my back and decided that it no longer could survive in the present. It would only suffocate the present, and therefore the future. The past can never complete you. It certainly can never come back, and it can undoubtedly never help you be free.

Whether it’s an act that you find as some immense transgression, words that you spilled that stained another, or simply, a loss of a loved one who had your heart, it’s all destined to be overcome. Don’t be weighed down by those events. As they are in the past. There’s a peculiar lightness in the now. Right now. You are free, right now. You’re not suffering. You only tell yourself you are. There is more to life. Pay attention. Now.

Even in the present- the recent past, I’ve had to let go of my mind’s trappings as they were inhibiting me from accomplishing goals. Not only that, they were affecting my overall attitude toward life, my mood, my boyfriend, and his mood. My loss of motivation, sadness, anxiety toward the future are tools my mind uses because of the past. I remember events from then and link them to the present, because the past is all the mind knows and knows what to draw from. We’re constantly making comparisons. But again, it’s the PAST. It’s gone. We have nothing but now.

The results?

For me personally, I look down and see my skin, I feel it. I know it’s the same skin I’ve had for 24 1/2 years. And my face, yep, those same features. They were always there. At one time I wanted to both crawl out of my skin and was ashamed to look in the mirror because of the things I did. I felt ugly. Horrendously, hideously ugly at who I became. But now, I feel like I’ve been reborn. Completely. That old me is the stranger to myself. This renaissance has given me new light. I feel more alive, lighter, filled with endless possibilities. I know I feel different, but I sense that others see me differently, too. I now can show up differently for my family and friends that only knew the old me. This might be a shock to them; they might want to deny everything and attempt to hang on to their perceptions of me as I was when I was closer to them. But all that matters in the end is that I am me. No reservations. I have nothing to hide. Nothing to be ashamed of. I have and can take responsibility for all that I’ve done. Integrity means the world to me now. I’m not just doing myself a favor. This is for everyone. My boyfriend. My parents. Family. Friends. The world.

Anything is possible.

Are you ready to take hold of your possibilities?

 

Help Through Hypnotherapy

Slowly subdued and slid down a tranquil trail, I ventured on a journey into my subconscious- that rather mysterious, sleepily overlooked vein of memories and impulses that continuously thrives off of past emotions and experiences. We all know it’s there, but how often do we really want to creep into it, let a crack of light in to expose it, to step through a doorway into ourselves? Most would rather slam the door shut,  hammer heavy nails into thick wood across the threshold. Why go where cozy present life, thoughts, feelings and emotions would be…threatened? Humans typically detest the idea of drastic change, yet somewhere we secretly seek it. We seek it in the deepest REM sleep when our eyelids rattle, and when we are motionless in meditation chanting an endless Om. Waking hours with our brains buzzing a million times per second, halt the seeking of the subconscious and change. Even so, there’s still a way to get there- anytime.

I sunk into an oversized chair which was draped with a coarse fibered, colorful blanket. Closed my eyes. Listened. Delicately, safely becoming hypnotized. Yes, hypnotism was the golden archway to my subconscious smack in the middle of a hot and hazy spring day. Physically, I was enclosed in four walls of love, with soft music floating through the background, a gentle bubbling fountain in the back corner of the room, soft lights surrounding me, illuminating my skin. And her. A beautiful blonde-haired, bright blue-eyed woman who guided me- guided me from guarded reality into subconscious lucidity.

I was on a bench, near a placid pond with green fish. I sat for a bit, listened, received guidance and reassurance then chose a path to walk down. There, I was met with questions- questions I’ve heard before, but never completely answered. Here, in this disconnected yet completely connected state of mind, answers were revealed immediately. They just…came to me as if the universe reached a starry hand down and popped them inside my head. I answered with a low, calm voice that didn’t sound like my own. I was pleased with this and found it tremendously helpful. Throughout the session, more questions were asked, and with some, I almost felt the conscious mind try to stick a foot in the door, but I wouldn’t allow that. Instead, I kept my deep breaths steady and held my peaceful position. I was yearning to finally find a way to break through a wall of mine that I’ve been behind for so terribly long. These questions were the key. My answers, the unlocking of the truth. About halfway through, I hit an epiphany point where my answer to an emotionally difficult question was answered so easily, I wanted to be afraid, throw up the barricade, but…I couldn’t be afraid. Really, it just felt, too easy! Yet, at the same time, it felt perfect. I knew at that moment what I had to do and how. The blockage in my mind was released. It was now up to me to physically, and consciously play it all out. I felt ready.

I returned to the bench, sat, and saw my grandmother. She spoke to me and said that she loved me and was happy with what I was doing with my life. A feeling of deeper serenity washed over me. Then, as she walked away, I prepared myself for the next step in the releasing process. I saw a fire pit where I was to throw my concerns, blockages, resentments, fears. Walking over, I placed them into a bag and with great intention tossed them into the fire. A tremendous plume of black smoke billowed from the pit, higher and higher up it went until it faded to light gray, then finally blended into the great blue. It took a while for it all to go, and once it did, I felt another release, a break in that wall.

That was only my first half of this magical ride. In the beginning I was unaware I would travel down another path, but in the middle, I consented to trying it. What I tried was called a “past life regression”. It’s where you go back to see who you were in another life, when your soul inhabited another’s. This concept was one that I wasn’t initially keen on; my mind couldn’t grasp that you, or the essence of you, your soul, could actually live inside someone else in a different time and place. If that were the case, then that would mean your soul never fully passed on, but would remained trapped in a sense, here on Earth. I believe that you go beyond Earth, beyond a physical body and into a different realm. I’m not sure what that realm is, but I’m sure it’s somewhere safe and happy. Anyway, I’m still, after the experience I had, skeptical about the concept. I’m still happy that I tried it, nonetheless. Here’s what happened:

After choosing a path, I walked through a giant, black, wrought-iron gate and became someone else. I was elderly, probably in my eighties, round with pudgy little fingers that liked to bake. The sweet scent of fresh bread wafted through the tiny country kitchen. A basket of yarn rested on the end of a plush, fabric couch in a vibrant, tranquil sunroom. An unfinished blanket lay across the couch. I wore a floor-length blue, floral print dress that swayed around my ankles when I walked. Apparently, I didn’t have any family or close friends left. In my younger days, I loved to be in the garden, planting vivid yellow flowers along a small road where passerby’s shared copious complements. I died naturally, laying in a bed with a younger lady looking down on me, smiling. She had blue eyes, waist length straight brown hair and a shining smile. (My future self, perhaps?) Then, I left. Walked back through the gate and returned to the pond. There was another path, another past life I could have examined, yet, I felt content and complete with just seeing one for that moment. Mostly likely, I would have been overwhelmed.

The voice, which sounded distant was flowing back to me, and beckoning me to come back into the present time. She counted from five, and with every count, feeling flooded back into my senseless, heavy limbs. At one, I willed my weighted eyelids to arise. Up, up, and they were open. I felt as if I was in a different dimension and returned to Earth. After about 15 minutes, I regained full consciousness and was able to converse normally again, recounting my experience inside myself. I shared exuberantly with my guide and my boyfriend. He had had a hypnotherapy session before and found it extremely beneficial, so it was nice that he could relate to my perception shifting experience.

Now, I want to take what I have gathered, and how I feel and use it in real life. I want to be the change I wish to see and after having gone on a ride into my subconscious, that once frightening place with hidden shadows that turned into a light, I strongly feel that I can carry that out. I feel ready.

Anxious, yes. But ready, yes.

New Chapters & Transformations: By D. Cooper

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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

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?

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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