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/

Perfect Stranger of Yourself

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

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

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

So, what happened?

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

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

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

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

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

The results?

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

Anything is possible.

Are you ready to take hold of your possibilities?

 

Prescribing My Own Personality

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

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

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

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

This is Who You Are – Trans-Siberian Orchestra


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Become totally empty,

Quiet the restlessness of the mind.

Only then will you witness everything

Unfolding from emptiness.

See all things flourish and dance

In endless variation.

And once again merge back into perfect emptiness—

Their true repose.

Their true nature.

Emerging, flourishing, dissolving back again.

This is the eternal process of return.

To know this process brings enlightenment.

To miss this process brings disaster.

 

Be still.

Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity,

Eternity embraces the all-possible,

The all-possible leans to a vision of oneness,

A vision of oneness brings about universal love,

Universal love supports the great truth of Nature.

The great truth of Nature is Tao.

Whoever knows this truth lives forever.

The body may perish, deeds may be forgotten,

But he who has Tao has all eternity.

Verse 16- Tao Te Ching

 

Flow Like Water, Sing Like Wind

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

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

-Tao Te Ching- Verse Eight

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste!

Transformed and Trailblazing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defeating Darkness Before Death

 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What I’ve Found

I have found a path in life.

I have found God in every leaf in nature.

I have found pain and suffering.

I have found bliss and happiness.

I have found beauty in the ugliest places.

I have found my purpose.

I have found profound love.

I have found mysteries and adventures.

I have found answers and meaning.

Some of these things were easily found and some were not.

But as I collect my experiences, both good and bad, I remind myself that they are mine to keep.

No one can reach out a hand and snatch them away.

No one can speak deceitful or hurtful words, as they are like wispy smoke in dry air–light, transparent, meaningless.

They will drift off and vanish.

I have found a lesson in all of my experiences and kept every single one as to grow, shine and persevere.

And in those lessons, I have found transformation.

The caterpillar has to descend into its own darkness to emerge as a brilliant butterfly with wings that can carry them beyond any realm they’ve ever seen or been before.

In my transformation, I have found peace.

May you find peace and pleasure on your journey all the way through.