Lighthearted Musings

20170224_142215It was 73 degrees out today…closing in on the end of February…a definite first for me in PA! I took the opportunity to go for a long walk with my Dave. We walked along a path carved out next to power lines that run for miles in two directions. Despite a lot of mud in some spots, it was the perfect hike. Once away from the road, just the sound of wind in the tall grass mixed with a few birds, and occasional trickling water sailed through the air.

It’s in moments like these I tend to feel completely at peace. Sometimes, it’s nice to just be. In the moment. Completely. Letting all worries melt away…letting go of the disheartening notions of the earth heating up more, and glaciers melting way up north. Letting go thoughts of those so-called leaders running the country…letting go of smaller worries…letting go of everything! It feels incredible to just appreciate the simple things…really see, and feel them for all of their simple beauties…

Leaving our trail of footprints in the mud as we held hands and walked. Picking up tiny pieces of white quartz in small streams crossing our path. Running my fingers through the cold water, grazing the soft, fine silt that rested in the bottom. Seeing mountains miles away from the top of the ridge, one mile from the road. Smelling sweet ferns, still shriveled, yet prevailing alongside the path. Molding reddish clay into a sphere, letting it dry on my hands. 20170224_141859Discovering princess pines popping up in the midst of purpled tea berry leaves, surrounded by moss. Feeling the sun’s warmth spread on my back through my t-shirt. Taking deep breaths of fresh air while observing the blue sky, winds pushing puffy clouds along.

Discovering an old spring house during our descent…wandering over through marshy grass…finding all the places where water was appearing, then disappearing again into the earth. Drinking from a pool of bubbling spring water a little further up, letting that 20170224_144728piece of nature, that moment become part of me. Stepping on deteriorated fallen trees, feeling the wood compress under my sneakers. Observing the peeled “eyes” in some trees where a foreign fungus had taken over. Looking up to find dozens of birch polypore’s poking out from a long deceased, branchless tree.  Seeing rocky, dried up trenches where water once flowed and connected to larger streams. Appreciating the bright green, plushy moss that crawled along the forest floor as we carefully made our way back to the car.

20170224_145122Take in the beauty that surrounds you every single day. If you don’t think there is any, take a look. Take a closer look. You will find it. It’s in every step you take…within every knotty tree you see…upon every smooth stone you turn over in your hands. The presence of God is woven into every atom, and particle that makes up nature.

Feel revived and fully alive.

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Creating Healthy Boundaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

 

 

 

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!

The Art of Floating: Part III

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

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

The Art of Floating: Part II

One of my stream of consciousness thoughts while I was naked and afloat…

I am floating…wow, is this what it feels like to the astronauts in space…those in the space station? Wow. Pitch black…nothingness, I am in space and in nothingness. No stars, no sun, I’m on the dark side of the moon. I can feel the earth and gravity pull away from me. I’m in space, just me, alone…there might not be any galaxies, they might be all around me, they are inside of me. I am space. In a vacuum with no time or energy. Not even orbiting, just existing in perfect stillness. I’m not sure how to come back down and that’s okay with me. I wish to stay here; I wish to remain in this blissful exile where every human, creature, object and place are far, far away, beyond any realm ever believed to exist. The sun is blacked out– extinguished and still, I breathe and feel warm. I think there’s blood flooding my veins…my lungs are expanding. I try not to think. I don’t. There’s nothing again. This space is where I’m meant to be, I’m meant to live to feel to think to know what I haven’t known before. I’m not sure what I’m truly supposed to know…but it’s here, in this emptiness that I can know it. I can know anything. I feel safe, a perfect distance away and a perfect place to let go. I have let go. My weightlessness reminds me of this. My muscles have let go of the urge to keep resisting. How far I will travel, I’m not sure. Maybe I will remain in this one place, right above earth for eternity. The silence has taken over.

Zen, Patience and Practice

I’ve just begun a new journey. As I’m looking to create a business for myself and not get confined to the corporate world, I’m reading some wonderful books to aid in my mindset for getting my life on track. The first one I read, since graduation, was titled, “How to Find the Work you Love”. I enjoyed that one a lot…small, easy to understand and loaded with inspirational quotes (sometimes, too many quotes, but still, they fit). It created a guideline of how to go about honing in on your on talents and finding out who you really are. Therein were focusing questions that challenged your view of your life and work in the modern age. Now, I’m reading the follow up book to that one…much, much larger, about 600 pages called, “Zen and the Art of Making a Living.” It’s similar, along the lines of being a guide, including the quotes, etc. But the main difference, is that it’s way more in-depth when it comes to digging down to the roots of society, nature, love, passion and the psyche of the individual.

Today, I just finished a section focusing on zen with art and poetry. Breathtaking and factual. Okay, to some it could be highly opinionated, but to me, a totally open-minded being, it’s wonderful. That section and the ones before spoke mainly of the great divide between humans and nature; humans and art. People tend to put themselves above nature and extract art from their daily lives because, to them, it isn’t practical. Yet, if you breathe, you are living, and if you’re living you are in nature. You aren’t just a part of it, you ARE nature. The subtleties of every breath a small animal in hiding makes, to the thunderous roar of lightning in the heat of summer…all are part of us. If we are to find out our true selves, we are first to accept that we were born of the Earth in which we share infinite characteristics. It takes time to go within, be silent, and hear the calling of what is always there, just beyond a door, wall or a window.

With art, it’s shared by those who painstakingly create it, not to show that they are some higher being to be revered and looked upon as a god, rather it’s shared by those who are aflame with passion and desire. They wish to inspire and create and show that they have no limitations. Creating isn’t about making money or cultivating a following of those who love your work, it’s about being pure in your intentions to simply share your heart.

I’m a poet, a writer, an artist. I’m learning Taoism and Buddhism and I can show the world what I’m capable of through my words and intentions. I wish to overcome a system of worn down people who can barely stand on their own two feet let alone think for themselves. Intent blended with a zen mindset will bring me to an enlightenment that will take me beyond what I could never imagine.