New Chapters & Transformations: By D. Cooper

DNA butterfly

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

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


transformación personal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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I am Darkness, I am Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I said, “I love you.”

Silence.

“I love you.”

My mom hung up without those three words in return.

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

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

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

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

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

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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Feeling Far Away

I went out yesterday on a hike with Dave and I brought my meditation journal with me, thinking that I would have just found a calm place to sit by the river, meditate then write like I usually do. Rather, I became observant to my surroundings and then to my own feelings that I’ve been tossing around in my head lately. I was moved by my writing experience and thought I should share it. Here’s what I wrote/felt:

I’m in love with nature. Dave and I came to the “tubs” area today to meditate and hike. There’s many different to explore that wind along the river and limb up rocky, steep hills. The trails are made of soft fallen pine needles and leaves, long browned from seasons passed. Large tree roots create stairways and make for a tricky ascent or descent when travelling. Along most paths- mountain laurels adorn the hillsides. Small white flowers with a pinkish hue create a brightened landscape amongst all the greenery. The area is called “the tubs” because there are seven natural carved out areas of rock that resemble large tubs. These cut outs were created from the continuous water flow cascading down from the mountainside. Probably taking hundreds of years to erode, the rounded out caverns with smooth edges and deep pools are now a permanent part of the Earth. Just another awe-striking form in these endless forms most beautiful.

Currently, Dave and I are at the peak of a steep hill. We climbed the rocky path to find a quiet place. From here we can see another lush mountain in the distance. Closer, there are oak trees which are being vivaciously devoured by ruthless gypsy moth caterpillars. There’s a terrible invasion this year- when you look at most of the mountains, there are massive brown spots that spread out for miles. Soon, the creepy critters will turn to moths, but that won’t make next year any better. With literally thousands of them spawning, there’s sure to be another outbreak. Sitting here now, it sounds like rain water hitting the leaves. As fast as the hungry creatures eat, they are making it come out the other end.

Aside from crawling critters, there’s blueberry bushes in front of me, and a bed of green/brown moss below. There’s occasional passerby’s and some distant traffic sounds, but other than that, it’s quiet. I feel it’s an escape- even from our normal life, which isn’t too busy, but we always seem to be going somewhere- doing something- always watching the clock. Today we’re doing that a bit as we have a small agenda. I’d rather sit and explore nature all day. It’s comforting. I think of my aunt Linda, and wonder if she’s feeling any peace yet from the loss of uncle Klaus. I wonder if she’s ever felt this peace. If there was ever a memory that she could fall back on in her time of grieving. It’s still strange to think that uncle Klaus is truly gone. Harder still is the ever-present change that has gripped me and the family. But, from my perspective, life drastically changed the day I moved out- almost one year ago.

From that day I knew that family relationships wouldn’t be the same, there would be no more happy get-togethers, no more travelling, or vacations. Not that I ever went on any grand vacation with my family, but still, the hopes of one are gone. Holidays have been tough, as they weren’t and won’t be the same again. Now, with a death and more looming illness with my aunt, I fear more change is yet to come. Perhaps it will all make me stronger- I feel I’ve already gained some strength. Perhaps the changes are positive- making way for new events, people and traditions. Maybe I have a fear they won’t last either, so I’m still hanging on to the memories of the past, when my family was closer, and times were more care-free.

Dave is good for me and he always will be. I am dedicated to him as he is for me. He’s helping me with the current family issues. There’s more to work on, but hopefully we’ll get through and it will be peaceful.

I am mindful. These are the moments I will cherish. I am free. I am happy.

Heaven is all around.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Along with my journal, I brought my guidance cards with me. They are cards that were created by a woman that I met at a recent holistic show. Her name is Denise Crawn, and her main occupation is travelling to Scotland for pilgrimages on an island called Iona. She recently created a book called “Walking Awake”, which is filled with beautiful pictures she took of faces that appeared in trees, flowers, etc. Each picture is accompanied by an inspirational quote that is very fitting. Alongside her book, she created cards with similar pictures, each one with a word on them like fear, happiness, sadness, etc….in a way, like tarot cards, but different in that they’re more for simple guidance rather than predicting/reading. So, I decided to pick three of them holding the intention in my mind of all the changes that have been going on in my life. I choose playful, surrender and grace. Super interesting because I thought they fit my current situation perfectly. I reflected that playful is what I feel I am, surrender is what I need to do, and grace is what I need in order to surrender, which would then bring me back to complete playfulness. Surrendering isn’t a negative in this aspect. Rather a positive where there’s thoughts and memories inside of me that I feel that I need to let fall free- memories of how things were with my family, of traditions, of holidays. Everything. Part of me asks why I should surrender? I’m young. My family is still alive. All of these things are totally possible and still should occur. Unfortunately, no matter how much I transform and push to have my parents shift, there’s just no getting through. Yet, I’m still hanging on to everything I had with them. It all still feels so close. So alive. For all my life my family was the closest to me. More than friends. More than anyone. Then suddenly they were gone when I chose to leave. Anyone would guess it’d be easy or just a matter of time before they let go of their anger and we would be back together. Of course they would, because most people would certainly do that. They wouldn’t hang on to the hatred, the pain of the past.

Now, I’m guessing that surrendering the memories and letting go will be the healthiest for me. There’s nothing easy about that. It’s not something I ever thought that I would have to choose. But, I fear that if I don’t I’ll become a slave to something that will never be. That would be my downfall. Instead of surrendering thoughts, I would want to surrender my life. There’s no point in living when you feel that life is playing you and there’s no way out.

I know I have to hang on. There’s a stand that I have to make. For myself, for Dave and for them. Fear is what I have because if I do make a stand, I may feel ecstatic about myself because it’s something I’ve never done before, but if I put all of this effort into making a stand in order for something to change, and nothing does, I will feel that it was a complete waste of time.

There’s no way to win. Either way, I’ll be torn. I’ll never have Dave and my parents because they are unwilling to change. If I would have my parents, I would have to have Dave separate, and that’s not fair. None of this is fair. They talk about their heart being shattered, well mine has been torn by them, but they can’t admit to it and take responsibility for the hurt they’ve caused me. I have a sneaking suspicion that my mom feels that somewhere she went wrong with me and that’s why she is the way she has been for so long. But, there’s nothing that she really did wrong, per say. There’s just some things that never worked for me and affected me negatively. Things that I didn’t realize until now. Now that I’m older, I have looked back on a lot of things and saw times where my parents weren’t there for me. They fought. They drank. Controlled me in a way. There’s a bunch. Yes, they raised me well and all of that, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t hurt. I don’t think that any parent and child relationship goes without both being damaged in some way by the other. Of course this isn’t done on purpose, but it definitely happens- just part of the cycle. Dave talked about how there were times that he knew he hurt one of his daughters when they were younger, and he felt terrible and apologized early on. He knew there was no way to go on with the relationship with that blockage in the way. I think that’s absolutely beautiful and takes a lot on the parent’s part. Not a parent myself, I don’t know from experience, but I can definitely imagine.

I know I can’t demand or expect an apology from my parents.I guess all I can do is do what I need to do; make that stand and hope for the best. Life is meant to be lived, not survived. I’m currently attending a Landmark seminar where the intention is to live passionately and play the game of life with purpose, grace and ease. I’ll save more details for another post, but for now I’ll just say that it’s helping in a way, but not, because there are just things like Landmark that can’t solve the kind of situation I’m in. I already told my parents about it, since there is a huge emphasis on sharing…so I shared and all my mom replied was, “you can go to all the seminars you want, but they’ll never help us.”

There’s so much I don’t understand, so much torment. So much I don’t know what to say or do.

There’s so much I’m learning as I struggle.

Killing Death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorrow

“Once You’ve Signed On, You’ve Already Begun”

I heard these words last night, from a practical stranger. He, along with a charming young woman, convinced me I should…this will change my life, they said.

So, I put my name down, and afterwards on the car ride home I asked myself, “what the hell did I just do?”

Nothing bad. I promise. But, significant. Story time.

Once upon a time, Dave told me about this grand forum, run by a company called Landmark. It’s a worldwide organization who’s goal it is to help people through intensive, transformative learning. What I went to last night was just an intro, which was just a small spoonful of what the 3 day weekend forum is like. There, I met a large group of people who said to me that they went through the forum and their lives were changed completely. Of course I’m skeptical…actually, I was skeptical the moment Dave asked me to go to the intro. Yet, I felt that I had nothing to lose. So, what else do they do? Let me explain. All the members are highly trained to work with you to get you to have breakthroughs to the unknowns in your life; they help you see the things inside of you that you’ve never seen before. Through deep questions and motivation and a unique, what I call, “funneling” method, you take a handful of issues in your life, narrow them down and knock them out by creating a brand new possibility for yourself and your future. With this being said, I’d like to share what my intro experience was like.

Since there was no one else that was new at the meeting, I was the one and only lucky chick to go off with that aforementioned charming girl, Amanda, to a separate room where we could talk. It’s interesting because she was the first one I met when heading into the hotel to the meeting. My first thought was, “wow, she looks super nice, I like her!” Her personality was genuine and calming; she really took the time to get to know me as a person, almost as a friend, not just another potential “client” who has a bunch of problems, thinking “let’s get this over with”. She kept eye contact with me the entire time, which didn’t feel intimidating, thankfully. To me, it was a genuine, look into your soul kind of eye contact. Her deep brown eyes that glinted in the lights definitely shone with compassion. Okay, so yes, I pretty much had an instant crush on this woman. (She’s engaged to be married, so I couldn’t get too excited.) Anyway…. back to the talking. So after getting to know each other a little, we went right into a little booklet which had 6 sections in it. In section one, you filled out what did and did not work out in your life. Two, choose the most important one that wasn’t working for you. Three, say what you have, what you do and what you are being when you are in your bad situation. In four, you state what’s missing; you think of who you don’t get to be when you feel suppressed. Section five is about writing a new possibility for yourself. And lastly, you take your declaration, and write it again on the back.

I chose the current situation with my mom. And what I am missing is that I don’t feel like that I can be myself around her, (or my dad), because of them being prejudice against Dave and not giving two craps about what my life is like. The major point is that I feel guilty. They create that feeling within me…that everything is completely my fault and it always will be. Guiltlessness is what I am missing. So in the end, I stated that the new possibility I can create for myself is a life where I am myself! Completely, unbarred and unashamed. I’m not guilty and I’m loving, compassionate and caring for them unconditionally. Personally, I feel that I’ve nailed most of those. The only one that I’m struggling with now is with feeling guilty. Just the other day when my mom was telling me how unbearably down she was, I couldn’t help but to feel that I was truly the cause of her suffering. I know, deep down, that I’m not the cause of her pain, it’s within her, and she needs to be able to let it go.

2 1/2 hours was definitely not enough time to talk about all this with Amanda. We had two halves of a session, and in the second half, she spent more time explaining to me what Landmark was all about and how I can register. To be honest, I wasn’t ready to register. At all. I was planning on leaving there and then thinking about it/talking it over with Dave and then make a decision based on that. But, Amanda slid it in there very smoothly…as she was talking, she gave me the paperwork, and told me there was a little card that I could fill out that would be for registration. I said, okay…and she said just go ahead and start to fill that out…now, at this point, I wasn’t expecting to finish, and I wasn’t expecting that to be for real…yet, it was. So, I’m filling it out and she gave me the seminar dates…there was a session in May and one in June in Philly. Initially, I chose the one in June. Soon after, I mentioned how I wouldn’t be able to afford such a thing but that Dave mentioned in the past this would be a gift for me. So, she went out, got Dave, and I told him the exciting/terrifying news! He shed tears and shared many hugs with me in a brief time. After he signed the papers and agreed to pay for me, we headed out.

Once in the car, I couldn’t believe I actually did it. Dave told me story after story of how this course impacted different peoples’ lives…deeply. Intensely. His daughter, Nicole went through it, and she said she came out a different person. And she was as skeptical as myself initially. Dave said that when he took it, he got verbally violent with some of the session leaders because of the way they were coaching him. They broke through his resistance though, as they are trained to do, and in the end he learned a powerful lesson. All of this leaves me wondering what’s going to happen to me? Am I going to have the same Earth-shaking experience as these others? Is this going to be something where I see something within myself so deeply that I’ll be able to clear up the sky-high walls that’s between my family and I? If so, how in the world are they going to do it? More importantly, how in God’s creation are my parents and family going to take this…will they be open minded enough to take whatever happens to me and what I say into consideration so that we can mend??

Whew. Heavy. I’m still not ready for this. Dave has cried three times today just thinking about what it can do…he admitted that he’s actually scared for what it can do to our relationship. I’m sure it’s nothing bad, but he admitted that he wondered what it would be like if the both of us drastically changed.

Time will tell what is to come. In the meantime, I’m proud to say I’m on this better path…not only for myself, but for my family and for Dave. I’m hoping that there could be some peaceful communication all around with everyone before May.

Here’s to embarking on another big journey and continuing transformation.

To Be a Warrior

Another dream plagued me last night. Lately, I’ve been having disturbing dreams that involve my mom. For so many years now I’ve been living, loving and suffering with her. She has been the fulcrum of the balance of my life’s struggles and happiness. Since moving out, it hasn’t gotten any easier. She’s both angry and upset. I know this. And I care. What she thinks, is that I don’t care and never have…that I just threw everything that she’s given me (mentally, intellectually) away…that I just moved on. That’s definitely not the case. What I know is that I do care, and I have cared. She’s been too blinded by her own inner conflict to see. All the blame is on me all the time. I’m the one that is at fault. Therefore, I’m the one that’s not going to make it and I’m going to regret my decisions because there is only “one right way” according to her. So much blame…so much anger…and sadness. She wants me to be near, but can’t be near enough to herself to pull me close. Instead, she holds on to the darkness inside and in result, pushes the light, (myself and others), away. I wish to be near her, too. I want it to be easy. I’d rather my mother not think of me coming and going and the hard sadness that ensues, but see me for who I am and love and embrace me, no matter what…have me come visit, and have everything be okay. It also would be nice if she could open herself up to letting me or anyone help her. Fat chance.

In my dream, I was home, and the house was dim (as in real life at times…just natural lighting) and it was just my mom and I that were home. I was at the fridge looking for something to eat…I lingered there for quite a while, and then chose to go upstairs to see my mom. When I pushed her door open, she was in the half-light of the TV, in bed, and all around were picture frames covered in bed sheets. I became terrified in that instant and asked, “Are…those…pictures of…me?” She slowly turned her head and shifted her body from under the blankets and replied, “yes”.

Thankfully, it was easy to shake this one upon awakening. Yet, it’s still saddening…it hurts to think that she may be doing that…the covering of the pictures could be a metaphor for her avoiding me and just pushing the issue away as to not be hurt or upset by it. …That’s not going to solve anything. What will is the head on confrontation of the issue…and, in the past, yes, we have talked about what I am doing and we both have expressed how we have felt, but every single time the conversation transforms into an argument, yelling. There’s no solace in that.

My mother needs to not avoid me, or hide behind her anger…there’s something deep inside that is affecting her from the past…I wish I could say what that event was that would be making her that way for so long, but I can’t. So, now, I’ve come to the point where it’s up to me to be my own warrior.

In my Zen book, there was a nice lengthy section on heroes and heroism. The main concept was that heroes and warriors were those who took up their own sword and shield and went to battle or on a quest despite the impending obstacles. Warriors have to be aggressive…but not in the conventional way of forcing violence on someone else out of anger, rather being aggressive means really pursuing what you want and going after it no matter what; it means pushing the boundaries to get through to the other side. In other words, your actions that may appear to be an act of rebellion and aggression, are actually actions moving toward peace.

That’s the path that I am on now. I have taken the call to adventure and I’m now travelling through forests of obstacles to get to the grail that I search for: my own happiness. For the most part, it’s going well. I feel accomplished, strong. I want to show the world what I am capable of…I want to show my family what I’m doing. If only they could know all the inner work that I’ve been doing. And have done. Then, maybe they’d understand who I really am. No matter how strong the warrior, you have to feel love. It’s essential. You have to give and take love in order to survive your quest. And, most of the time you will realize that what you are ultimately fighting for is that love. It’s not to be given up. I hold my love close to my heart; it’s woven within my soul, every fiber is imprinted with passion and compassion. I am the warrior of myself. I will continue to fight, stand tall, be aggressive. I have supporters who are on my side, and with them, I will fight, survive, live and thrive.