We Cannot Live With Our Minds Alone

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We can compute, analyze, create, destroy, but where do important emotions like love, peace, compassion arise from? Where does deeper creativity spring forth from? How do we do more than just…survive? At a recent holistic show, Dave chose to give a lecture on “Heart-Based Perception”. Meaning, how we feel the world around us, and are able to have an instinctive and deeper overall knowing of things. He suggested that when we use our thinking, rational brain, we can certainly make decisions, create, and survive, but sometimes that can only get us so far. And sometimes, those decisions we, or even higher-ups make aren’t so great.

Enter: the heart. It’s the largest perceptive organ in our bodies. It carries and projects a measurable magnetic field that radiates outward up to at least three feet away. And when in close proximity of another, both energies collide and merge. If you think about it, everything is energy. Your body, the air around, every plant and animal has their own energies that are pouring out every minute of every day. The entirety of space is humming, vibrating energy. We are immersed in it all the time. Some of these energies are subtle, so we don’t feel them. Yet, when tuned in, you can easily tap into that energy all around. Check out the link at the end to learn a bit more about physical heart energy.

Reiki is one such practice that facilitates healing using the abundant, swirling energy around us. I have been practicing reiki for a couple years now. I achieved level one, which focuses on direct healing with another person. And level two is where you can do long distance healing using that powerful heart energy. Even with level one, I use my heart energy, the other person’s, along with outer God or Spirit energy in order to heal and release either physical or emotional pain.

Considering that your body uses and stores energy, i.e. food, it’s easy to understand that emotions are energy, too. When negative emotions become locked in, anxiety and depression can occur; especially when there’s no healthy outlet for that energy. On a physical level, our backs and shoulder blades will tighten, our spines will stiffen, and so forth. Yet, I truly believe that we can release any type of pain we have by simply using our heart.

What convinced me of this recently was an incident I had shoveling snow. In mid-March, we had the largest snow storm ever. 26” of the white stuff buried us. Dave struggled with the plow after many attempts just to move the truck a few feet! Once he got it going down the driveway, he got stuck. So, I had to help him shovel it out. I wasn’t happy. My back began to hurt after a few lifts. (And I was trying to lift carefully). It wasn’t too bad. It got worse when I helped him again at the bottom of the driveway, and then again multiple times at our storage business. At that point, I was beyond fed up with the snow. As I cleared pathways, I cursed and hurled my shovel angrily over and over again. In the moment I knew it wasn’t a good idea, but I just remained in that state.

Within the next couple of days, the most excruciating lower back pain arose. I literally couldn’t sit, stand, or lay down…every way I moved just…hurt. Badly. I asked Dave to work on me some to loosen the tightness. He had to work on me for a week straight, twice a day before it subsided. Yet it wasn’t the physical massaging that helped it. Dave advised me that it’d only completely release if I acknowledged the pain and why it was there- basically why I put it there. Then, if I used my own energy from the heart to help it along, it would heal faster. I used my own energy, as well as visualizations of water trickling down my back and through the tight knots. I breathed in white light, positive energy, and exhaled the negativity that was locked in. Lo and behold, after putting that concept into practice, the very next day there was a dramatic difference in my pain level. And a few days after that, there was barely any pain at all, and Dave said that the physical muscle tightness decreased tons. So, moral of the story: it was my conscious and unconscious effort that helped release something inside of me that wasn’t purely physical. I found that to be absolutely astounding.

Going back to anxiety and depression…I see so many suffer. I used to suffer, too. I found a way out. It wasn’t in expensive counseling sessions, medication, or anything artificial. I put myself into a program that helped me dive into myself to release what I had stored up. Some of it I didn’t even know was stored up! It’s astounding what you can discover about yourself when you allow your mind to get out of the way; when you listen to your heart. Once you get to the root, you can let go of what you’ve been holding on to. Let go of what doesn’t serve you. Acknowledge it, take responsibility. In regards to the heart, if you’re not truly feeling, or being perceptive in a deeper way, you’re merely surviving.

When any one of us is in survival mode, we’ll do anything to keep old, and sometimes harmful ways in place. We’ll shut ourselves down, shut others out, and get angry, and blame. We get trapped in a fear. But remember, fear is an illusion. Always.

These fears, anxiety and depression keep us from truly connecting to another human. There are barriers that don’t allow you to feel another, feel and listen to another’s heart. Your energy might still blend in, but in a sense it could be reflected back; in fear there’s no room to grow. With yourself. With another being.

Have you ever felt like you were in the right place at the right time? Where you met someone for the first time, and knew that it was meant to be for some reason? Or, maybe it was something simpler than that, perhaps you felt you should drive a different way to work, walk a different path. All of those things happen when your heart leads you.

Your heart is tremendous. Listen to it, connect yourself to something higher. Connect yourself to yourself! Once you begin to unlock your subconscious intuition and turn off the misleading mind, you’ll begin to see new possibilities that hadn’t existed before. Flourishing creativity, being part of the flow of life instead of against it in work and at home, enhanced and clearer communication, overall stress-free living…these are possibilities you could create, and live. I have- it takes work, and like anything worth doing, practice.

Here are some ways to begin practicing:

  • Simple meditation- with a focus on what’s in your way, identify first, let go second, and create third. Visualize rays of light, a wave of energy flowing outward from your heart. See them slowly expand outward with every breath you take. Then, feel Feel your energy reaching further and further. Connect with someone close to you in your mind. Imagine that heart energy enclosing them in a calming green light. (Green for the heart chakra). Write down your experience afterward.
  • Write- just write down your feelings. Write where you’d like to feel more, how you’d like to feel more. Is it connection you’re longing for? Wanting to eliminate anxiety? Write that down! Then write what your life would be like if your heart ruled and led the way. No obstacles.
  • Reiki – level one. There are many classes out there both in person and online!
  • Reading- I’m sure there are tons of books out there, but one that will help you become focused, and let go of metal clutter is “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. Pure brilliance! (Link at bottom).
  • The Landmark Forum! – An astounding three-day course designed to help you find and activate your true potential. Diving into the past to find how and why certain behaviors are dominating your life, becoming complete with them so you can create whatever you want in life are just a couple of things you can get out of this mind-blowing course. I highly recommend it!
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https://www.heartmath.org/articles-of-the-heart/science-of-the-heart/the-energetic-heart-is-unfolding/

https://www.amazon.com/Power-Now-Guide-Spiritual-Enlightenment/dp/1577314808/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493757570&sr=8-1&keywords=the+power+of+now

http://www.landmarkworldwide.com/

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.

 

 

 

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

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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Shifting in Season: Poem

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The darkness comes once again

To greet us when we are already

Searching for something brighter.

Standing upon earth’s yearly sacrifice

Under clouded sky, we weep

For our own personal sacrifices—

Ones that brought us joy

And ones that brought us pain

Throughout the year.

Sometimes we believe we can

Live up to every expectation

Of a loved one, friend, mother or father,

Yet, reality speaks a different truth:

It says to have no expectations

As nature has no expectations

On its growth, its demise, its surprises.

It is in nature’s imperfection that

We can discover ourselves.

We are not perfect and our

Sacrifices should be made to better

Ourselves, one another, those loved ones.

We cannot honor any one living thing

Nor many, if we are living

In constant denial.

We are always at fault with something,

Always searching for that better way

To love, live, breathe, walk.

The tiniest oak does not seek

For the bigger, brighter of leaves.

It is content being small

And living in itself, it waits patiently

To ascend to see above other trees.

And it does.

In this season,

Let us welcome what we’ve

Never welcomed before—

The vision of seeing beyond

The suffering and sadness,

The faith filled with intentions that

One life can be transformed.

In the storms of distractions

That will follow, let us

Hold our ground, create roots;

Darkness is only allowed in

Where we allow it to be.

A Blessed Cleansing

About a month or so ago, I felt deeply moved. I’m not sure by what or who, but inside me stirred a yearning to be cleansed. I’ve done small cleansing ceremonies before, either with gemstones, or sage, but this time, my soul was being pulled towards water. Water is my element. With it I feel complete, part of it and in awe of it as it is both a creator and a destroyer. There’s a small stream across the street from our house and that’s where I decided I wanted to be cleansed. Dave came with me and we performed a beautiful ritual. He brought sage, and a turtle shell that he got from a native american powwow. Before I stepped into the chilly, trickling water, I was smudged…the smoke from the slowly burning sage blown across my body. Then once in the water, I carefully chose my intent of what I wanted to gain out of the little ceremony. Dave and I had been talking about a lot of different things, and some from the past, so one of the things I wanted to be freed from was those attachments. I desired to be free of the emotional attachments to my family who I recently surrendered in trying to create any kind of positive outcome with; I knew the time had come that I could no longer cling to memories, or heart-aching attempts to have them in my life or to get them to understand my life. So, with a scoop of cool, gentle water in that turtle shell, Dave poured it over my head as I declared I wanted to be free. It felt so amazing to symbolically solidify my intentions. After that, I chose a couple other things I wanted to be released from, and again, the water came over me with grace. With every wash, I could feel the “dirtiness” be rinsed away and carried far beyond me. Finally, the last thing I wanted to be cleansed of, was my sexual past. All that I’ve done to myself and to hurt others. With being with Dave and slowly reclaiming my innocence, in that moment, standing in a stream not too far from the street, I wanted to completely reclaim it. I returned to innocence in that time, when Dave and I hugged and cried and then when he poured, once more, the water over my head. I felt it trickle down my entire body, I felt it seep into me and my soul. I wanted that water to reach every dark part of me and eradicate any traces of darkness that were left. And that, I believe it did.

I proceeded to cleanse Dave afterwards, as he had some things he wanted to be freed of also. Overall, it was a beautiful, sacred, and moving time. But, it was also a time of enlightenment and joy…freedom and bliss. We spent time after the cleansing searching for special stones for each other. Appropriately, Dave found for me a pure white one. For him, I found a white one as well. It was a simple gesture that held so much meaning.

I would suggest this type of cleansing for anyone who is going through an emotional struggle. You may think that it wouldn’t have an effect, as you could pour water over your head at any given time…but if you truly believe and set the intention that whatever you want to be washed away is being washed away, then so shall it be. What you believe is real.

I am free and hope you can be too! Happy cleansing!