Let’s Crack This Thing Open

Learning to shift perspectives (a daily writing prompt)

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Broken. It has such a negative connotation, doesn’t it? To be broken. Shattered to the core. A dried up brain rattling around in the dustbowl of your head. It doesn’t function anymore.

We’ve all been there at some point, haven’t we? If you haven’t, well, sweetie, it’s coming. It happens to all us at some time. But being broken isn’t a bad thing, per se. Or at least, I don’t think so.

Let’s think about it for a minute. How did you get there? How did you become broken? You only break when you give your all to something. Your everything. You put every ounce of you into whatever it is, and it didn’t work out.

Then crack. Broken. Lying on the floor in a million little pieces. Sobbing like a baby.

Yeah, there are lots of ways to give your all. To get to that point where you don’t exist except for the shards of you strewn about after the explosion. On the light side, you gave your heart, body, and soul to some person who didn’t love you. You put your life into this amazing career just to get booted at the top of your game.

Then there’s the dark side. Maybe you were hellbent on destruction. Popping pills, shooting up, snorting your life up your nose. Still, you were giving it your all. You weren’t giving up on your goal … even if you realized your goal wasn’t really what you wanted.

Broken doesn’t happen without effort. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you are putting your all into something, it is your will. It is your passion.

In the end, it was a lesson you needed to learn. We all got ‘em. We’re all here to learn something. To share something. Somewhere in the midst of your brokenness is the answer to all of those questions — your purpose, your lessons, your life, and goals and why the hell am I doing this to myself?

One thing that I know, if you are broken, then you are still here. You didn’t give up. You didn’t fade away. There’s still a little light shining through those cracks. Thank you, Mr. Cohen.

When you’re all the way down, face planted on the carpet … well, as the saying goes, there’s nowhere to go but up. You can’t get any lower.

Broken exists for a reason. It’s a catalyst to change our lives. To make a choice.

Choice. I keep coming back to that word over and over again, don’t I? Everything is a choice. Being broken, in part, is a choice. We allow it to happen. Once we’re there, we either wallow in it or get out of it.

But more than anything, being broken is an opportunity. Every choice is an opportunity. A new direction. A new perspective. A new purpose.

Yesterday, for me, that moment I had with God was an opportunity. I can make a choice to stay where I am. To be confused and lost. Angry. Or I can make some decisions. Change my life. Move forward.

That’s why I recommend yoga and meditation so much. Stuff like that happens. Big philosophical stuff. Sometimes you break.

Tap, tap. Do you hear that? I’m cracking this shell open. I’m leaving this broken house behind.

Peace, y’all.

Re-focusing the Unfocused

I want to let you know that I understand I have gotten off track a little on this blog. I’ve stepped more onto the philosophical side of things rather than yoga, meditation, and other self-care topics.

Although I do believe getting to know yourself, clearing out obstacles is part of yoga and meditation and, therefore, part of self-care, it may not be why everyone is here. I will start to steer back toward those traditional topics. It’s just been part of my process. A part I thought may help others.

I am open to your thoughts and comments, however. Thank you!

Making Peace with God

Finding peace within through a connection to faith and self

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I’m going to preface this post by saying this will not be my most well-written post. It may be the most meaningful for my journal thus far, but it won’t be eloquent. It will ramble and be awkward. I apologize for that up front.

I hit a turning point this morning. I know it. I felt it. I believe it can help others if I talk about it. But, I struggle the most getting those important points across clearly and concisely.

Also, this touches on the topic of religion a little. That’s an iffy subject at best and even a contentious one for me. My personal belief is that, in the grand scheme of things, religion is a guide to help us be better people and create a better world.

Luckily, most world religions have some element of the Golden Rule. That’s pretty much my religion. Treat others how you want to be treated. A simple way to live. A simple way to make the world better. And I’m in good company. The Parliament of World Religion’s made this the basis of the Declaration Toward a Global Ethic in 1993.

Unfortunately, up to this point, religion has mostly served to divide us rather than unite us. We look at the differences rather than the commonalities. It’s not the goal, but ultimately it is the reality so far.

So with that in mind, I’m a little weary of talking about my topic today: Finding your faith if you have lost it. I think it’s important, though, so I’m going to do it.

Yoga and meditation can bring you closer to your faith — whatever it is — and closer to yourself. That’s where we all need to be to make ourselves and the world better.

As for losing faith, that’s where I have been stuck lately. Without faith.

Yoga, mindfulness, all of those things teach you that you create your reality. Your world and your life depend on you and the choices you make.

As far as I’m concerned that is true. Sometimes, though, a religious faith confuses the situation. It becomes a crutch or a scapegoat. For me, it was the latter.

When I was young I didn’t think I could fail. You know how youth is. Even if I failed or thought that I might, I would just keep trying until I didn’t fail.

Tenacious is what some call me. Persistent. Determined. A pain in the ass.

But, I had faith in myself.

When we get older, at least for me, I lost some of that faith. You start to deal with the realities of life, and things don’t work out like you plan. I think that’s when you start to look for something bigger than yourself. Or I did.

God, although I don’t usually use that term, was the answer. God helps you find what you’re looking for, to rip off a line from U2.

That was a big change for me. I had always depended on me and nothing else. Pure faith in me. I never blamed God when something didn’t work out like I planned. There was no blame, honestly. Just a misstep. I dusted myself off and kept going.

Then I started meditation and felt even stronger. I could walk away from a job and be fine. And I did. I believed in myself, but at that time, I also believed God had my back. God was an extension of me, and vice versa.

See, meditation brought me closer to my own beliefs, my faith. That God or Universe, as I usually call it, was there to support me. Hear me. Help me.

God heard me. I had journaled about things I wanted, and God/Universe gave them to me. No hesitation. No questions asked. I was feeling pretty powerful and connected to all that is. Manifesting and shit.

Turned out that what I asked for wasn’t exactly what I wanted … or what I thought it would be. That’s when my faith faltered. That’s when God became my scapegoat.

Why would God/Universe provide me with something I didn’t want? Well, he didn’t. I just didn’t want what I had asked for. My perspective was askew. Blaming and not accepting. I was looking for answers outside of myself. Your answers are never there.

What I wanted isn’t God’s choice. It’s my choice. The core of my belief is that we create our own lives. Everything we need is inside of us. God isn’t a puppet master. God/ Universe/Spirit is a provider.

Then why didn’t I want what I received? Why was I unhappy? It was a misstep. That’s all it was. I gave it a shot, and it turned out not to be right.

But my youth was gone. I didn’t dust myself off. I didn’t pivot like I used to.

I should have said to myself, “Oh, I thought I wanted this, but hey turns out I don’t.” But I didn’t. I blamed God to some degree. Or at least I think I did.

I lost faith. But, God gave me what I wanted. I shouldn’t have lost faith. I did nonetheless.

I just made the wrong choice … or rather a choice that didn’t fit. It happens. It’s not right or wrong. It’s life. My life. The one I chose.

That same scenario played out a few more times over a course of a few years. Each time, I lost more faith. Became more disconnected from God and what I’m realizing now, more disconnected from myself.

See, I didn’t lose faith in God. I lost faith in me. In my eyes, I made the wrong choice. I wasn’t happy in the situations I thought I wanted.

Honestly, there is no blame in the situation. Not as far as what I received is concerned. Not on me. Not on God. They were just lessons.

I tried something and it didn’t work. Like a science experiment. But I didn’t empty out my test tubes and start over. I laid blame. Put down the test tubes and called it quits. God, the science teacher, didn’t give me the right materials.

I made a choice. I didn’t choose to be happy. I didn’t choose to change my life. I lost faith in myself to make the right choices and in God to provide the right materials.

I talked about choices in a previous post. As I mentioned in that post, it is my choice how I react to situations. The choice I made resulted in me continuing on the same destructive path. Or at least non-productive path. I chose to lay blame instead of learning, so I kept moving in the same direction.

That’s not God’s fault. It’s simply a perception I needed to change.

I let my faith that God was there to support me be a crutch — “I’ll be happy no matter what.” Well, no, that’s not how life works.

When things didn’t work out, God was my scapegoat. My excuse for not having the life I wanted because I continued to make choices that weren’t from my heart. I made practical choices, material choices, not “true self” choices. I chose to keep making the same mistakes, making the same decisions, expecting different results. Choosing not to be happy. God kept providing, and I kept blaming God for not being happy.

I didn’t follow Eckhart Tolle’s advice. I didn’t accept my situations. Didn’t change them. Didn’t walk away from them. Instead, I wallowed in them. Over and over again. Losing more faith in God, which, in reality, was losing faith in myself.

As I was writing this, it hit me. I even said it earlier. Everything we need is inside of us. Losing faith in God is losing faith in yourself. That’s because God is part of all of us. We create our world. If we think it, God feels it. It’s in us. God makes it happen. How we respond and the results we get are our choice. And what is provided after that, is also our choice.

I’m not sure why it took me months and months of yoga and meditation to get to that. Well, I do actually. I had wiped out my faith in everything.

When I prayed to God to help my cat. To not let him have cancer and yet he died of cancer. When I saw my dad wither away that same year from cancer. Not able to get out a bed — a man who walked 10 miles a day just so he could talk to people. When Trump was elected and the chaos ensued. When I lost my job. It built up. My faith was gone. My faith in myself to make the right choices. My faith in God to support me. All faith had gone.

When I lost that faith — in myself and God — I couldn’t move. I was stuck.

I realize life is cyclical. I know we all die eventually. I knew I wasn’t in the right job anymore. But, I didn’t accept the reality of life. I didn’t change my situation. And I didn’t walk away either. I just stood there. Lost and dumbfounded. Angry at myself and God.

I didn’t want to deal with it or accept, so I laid blame. On God. And eventually on myself.

Some things in life are just life. People and pets die. It’s not a message from God or the Universe. You didn’t do anything wrong. You can’t change it. It just happens because we all die.

Accept it. Grieve it, but accept it.

Other things in life are just choices that didn’t work out. Part of that is choosing not to be happy. Part of it is not choosing to change. Some situations just aren’t right for a variety of reasons. It’s OK.

Change them or walk away.

There really are only three choices. And it’s our choice to make. God, Universe, whatever you want to call it, just provides. The rest is up to us.

Faith in God, though, gives us strength. It gives us hope. It gave me everything I wanted when I was knee deep in it. I was able to change. That’s what we need to move forward. To make better choices. To have the strength to face the tough times. To dust ourselves off and move on.

When we don’t have faith in ourselves, our ability to make choices and respond accordingly, that’s when we lose faith in God. They’re interconnected.

What we ask for, God provides. God is everything and everything is God — without trying to sound hokey. Including ourselves. Our life is our choice. God is there to support us, but not to live our lives. He provides. What we do with it is up to us.

So when we choose to be unhappy in our job, choose to stay in a bad situation, choose creature comforts over our heart’s desires, we get the results you would expect from that. We have to have faith that we can change. That we can be happy with or without some of those creature comforts. That a better life is available to us if we just choose it.

Going back to the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. You have to do the same for yourself. You have to treat yourself how you would treat others. Forgive yourself if you make a choice and it doesn’t work out. Move on and try something else. Forgive yourself if you’ve been living a place of unhappiness. Just change it. Wish the best for yourself. Hope for it. You would do it for others.

Forgive God because, well, he didn’t do anything but provide you what you asked for or reflected what was in your heart. God isn’t a puppet master or a scapegoat. The rest of the problems are usually just life happening. In a cycle, like they always do. Don’t blame God for not being happy.

Find your faith in yourself. In God — and not in the dogmatic sense but as a provider. Have faith in the ability to change. In the ability to be happy. In the ability to make a difference.

It will change you for the better. It will change your world. And the rest of the world will be better for it.

Peace, y’all.

The Sound of Birds

The importance of mindfulness for making choices that better serve us

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It’s funny how people can see things so differently. Choice may be the most powerful tool we have as a species. It can change our behaviors, our thoughts and, as far as that goes, our environment.

But we have to be in the right frame of mind to make our best choices. The pace of this world right now … we’re probably not making the best choices. We’re not thinking things through. We’re not mindful.

I can tell you that I don’t always make the best choices. I make them out of anger or frustration. Sometimes out of fear or uncertainty. In a rush because I need to get to something else. That is not the best place to be when making a decision.

That is why yoga and meditation are so important to me. It slows me down. It connects me to who I am. Let’s me control my emotions a bit better. And that’s where I make my best decisions.

Choice from the right state of mind.

I read a quote from Kurt Cobain’s journals yesterday. It said, “Birds scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth, but sadly we don’t speak bird.”

I admire Kurt Cobain in many ways. Very talented, and was super smart from what I can tell. And, he had a sense of humor … or at least that’s always how I read it. That quote, for example, made me laugh. I have a morbid sense of humor myself, so I fully appreciate that sort of comment.

Knowing how he died, though, and the songs that he sang, there may be some true sadness in that quote. Probably more than I read into it, to be honest.

It’s hard to be that smart, I suppose. To see the world for what it is — with all of its flaws and frailties. To hear the horrors in the sound of birds.

To be honest, I see the world that way, too, sometimes. Probably not as informed and intelligently as he did, but I’ve seen that vision of the world a time or two. The difference, I suppose, is that I choose not to live there in that vision. Not all of the time, at least.

I’m grounded there, for better or worse, but I can see something promising out on the horizon. I choose to see how we can be despite the flaws and frailties. Or, better yet, using those flaws and frailties to improve ourselves … so we can be better. The world can be better.

The birds are not a sound of warning for me. In reality, I’m sure that was a joke on his part, but even humor is based in reality. We know what his reality was. There was a grain of truth in that comment. That makes me sad for him. But even as a fan at the top of his success, I was always sad for him.

Gratitude To Go

Today, I am grateful that I can make choices about my life and how I see the world. I’m grateful that, in the end, no matter how I get there, my choices tend to end up on the side of light.

What are you grateful for today?

Today, I woke to the sounds of a bird festival outside my window. It would have made Hitchcock uncomfortable. So many birds, so many different songs. For me, though, they weren’t sounds of horror or sounds of warning. They were sounds of who we are in our natural state. Songs of what we can be.

I heard songs of life. Of existing in the moment. Songs of love, mating, and nourishment. Songs of protection and brotherhood. No two birds were singing the same song. They all had a different sound, for a different purpose, for different species.

Yet that cacophony of birdsongs put me in a peaceful frame of mind. They were sounds of joy and blissful existence. Harmonious and unified.

We choose how we see the world. I choose to see it through the eyes of love and possibilities. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness help me keep that vision. Although it is the same world as Kurt Kobain’s, with the same birds singing the same songs, I’d much rather live in my version of the world.

Peace, y’all.

The Black Sands of My Past

Rediscovering parts of yourself through meditation and yoga

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Unlearning what you’ve learned. Forgetting who thought you were. That is what yoga and meditation have been about for me lately. Each time I unwind from an eagle pose or detoxifying twist, I’m wringing something out that no longer belongs.

Letting go, though, isn’t easy. When it’s something inside of you, that has been there for years, it’s difficult to let go. Even those things that you know aren’t good for you.

It’s funny, but those things — the not so good things — are the ones sometimes we cling to the most. We refuse to let go even if they limit our happiness. We don’t let them go because it means we have to change or become vulnerable in some way. Sometimes it’s just easier to hold on … but it usually isn’t better.

As we grow up, we start to develop an idea of who we are. Our place in the world. Sometimes, though, we don’t always develop a clear sense of ourselves. The image gets twisted somehow or part of it is left behind.

Now, I’ve always been a responsible, practical, dependable adult. Those are perfectly good qualities, but I have molded my life into those characteristics. Made choices based on those characteristics. Part of me has suffered because of that.

Today, I did a yoga practice about “emptying the breath, emptying our old stories and wringing out old waste in body, thoughts, and actions.” It did exactly that. I really focused on thoughts I have about myself and realized I needed to let some things go.

The way I define myself limits my perspective on life … and how I live my life. I always make practical choices. Responsible choices. I’m not free like I want to be — like the child I was at 5. I’m wrapped up tight.

During my meditation afterward, I began to let some things go that came up during yoga. I also embraced some parts of me that had become nearly extinct. I asked myself what I wanted to be as if I were an adult talking to a child.

So, here comes the wild part. In my meditative state, with all limitations eliminated and anything is possible, what is it that I want to be?

Well, of course, I want to be a witch. To be honest, at the very core of me, I have always wanted to be a witch.

Yes, I realize how that sounds. I’ll just say it for you. Crazy as batshit. That’s exactly the reason I have to say it. Here’s why.

For my entire life, in the back of my mind, I have always had this fantasy of being a witch. Always and forever. But, I have never once voiced that out loud. Never. Not even as a kid. Is there a deeper story there? Probably so. Still, when I realized that I had never uttered the words, it upset me.

Growing up, I had so many witchcraft books (only good, natural magic, mind you). I studied magic. I tried practicing it. I kind of thought I had some powers sometimes. I bought weird clothes. I was excited every time a new Pyramid Collection catalog came to my house. I even collected them. Poured over them for days.

Why those came to my house, I do not know. No one else in my family was into that stuff, and this is before the internets arrived.

The truth is that I wanted to be natural, free. I wanted to work with nature and develop potions to help people. I wanted to heal trees and save injured squirrels. I wanted to be magical. I wanted to be a witch.

Truth is, in a limitless world, I still do.

When I realized that I never said that to anyone, though, I cried. As an adult, OK, maybe I understand not blurting that out. But as a 5-year-old or even a 10-year-old, yeah, I should have been able to do that. I should have screamed it at the top of my lungs. But I never did. Not once.

Such an insignificant piece of information, but even that I kept locked away.

It was silly. Ridiculous. I was embarrassed to say it. Honestly, I still am, and I shouldn’t be. I have denied part of myself, part of my personality, my entire life because of who I told myself I am. Practical. Responsible. This image I have of myself — that I present to the world.

Unlearning what you’ve learned.

Truth be told, there is nothing wrong with that thought — with wanting to be a witch, not even at my age. But, I feel conflicted about saying it. I feel ashamed … or I did when I first started writing this. I should never feel ashamed of being who I am or having the thoughts that I have. But I am.

It breaks my heart, honestly, that the wild child, nature lover part of me was never fully ingrained into my being. It’s probably the best part of me, to be honest. But it has been a part of me without being a part of me. It lives in my journal and never sees the light of day.

That was my entire being when I was a kid. She’s tucked away and forgotten.

So, that’s what I’m letting go now. That’s what yoga and meditation helped me do today … or at least helped me recognize and begin to do. I’m releasing the negative feelings I have about my ideas, my dreams, my personality. I’m releasing the embarrassment around things that don’t fit the picture of who I think I am and who I’m supposed to be.

I’m releasing the shame of being me. My weird, witch-dreaming self.

On the other hand, I want to bring that little wild child of me out of the dark some. I’m not sure how I’m going to do that just yet, but she has a lifetime to catch up on. I’m going to start making a list of things I love, no matter how crazy they may sound, and find ways to incorporate them back into my life. And I’m not going to be ashamed of it anymore.

I’m going to unlearn what I’ve learned and remember who I am. I hope you can do the same.

Peace, y’all.

Meditation Moment

This is a new idea I’m going to test out here from time to time. I’m going to add a Meditation Moment or some Gratitude To Go from my own practice. I’m hoping it will simply serve as a springboard for your own meditations or a little gratitude pick-me-up if you’re feeling down. It’s nothing more than that.

Today, I asked myself to meditate on things that I wanted to let go and ways to reconnect with who I am. Here’s what my mind’s eye shared with me:

I face the sun set, the sky deep orange and gold. My green velvet dress reflects the richness of the field around me. A vibrant world wraps me in warmth and comfort.

I slip my right hand gently into my chest and retrieve a handful of black sand. These things that have darkened my heart, I raise to my lips and blow them to the wind. I watch their strange path — like starlings in flight. Drifting, beautiful and graceful, until they gradually disappear on the horizon.

The sun warms my face. My spirit is lighter. Now I am the magic I was meant to be.

The Feeling of Gratitude (Or Thanks for the Gray Days)

Why gratitude journaling is so important for self-care and inner peace

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Stumbling blocks. We all have them. Even the most enlightened among us, if they are still on this planet, stumble from time to time. That’s why spiritual journeys are circular.

When you come across a boulder in your path, how do you get around it? That’s where self-care, self-love, meditation, yoga … everything I talk about here comes into play.

You can build your strength with yoga and climb over it. You can meditate and find a path around it. Or you can practice gratitude and walk through the middle of it as if it were only a ghost of itself. A mirage in your path back to who you are.

Practicing gratitude can change everything. It’s the third leg on the stool of  happiness — yoga, meditation, gratitude. It provides strength and stability to everything else.

For me, gratitude journaling works best. I’m sure you can simply meditate on things you’re grateful for or set 5 minutes aside each day to have a little “thank ye” conversation with yourself.

Journaling, though, makes it stick a little better. At least it does for me.

I mentioned in my previous post that I wasn’t quite at the level in my meditation practice I was a few years back. I wasn’t sure why until I realized I wasn’t keeping a gratitude journal. That was the missing ingredient.

It may seem kind of pointless. Or just another task to do. Another item on your calendar. Look at it this way. If you didn’t perform the task of taking out the garbage, what would your life be like? Think of practicing gratitude as taking the garbage out of your spirit. Because, honestly, that’s what it does.

Practicing gratitude feeds everything else in your life — your feelings and emotions, the choices you make, everything. It makes you more empathetic, more loving, more understanding. More you.

I have no concrete proof to give you. I have experience with it, but no real proof. I say give it a try for a month, see if you start to notice any difference in your life.

For me, I start to see small signs first. As I am writing this, for example, two red birds, cardinals, landed on my patio just outside the french doors. One male, one female. I love birds. I could watch birds for hours on end. I haven’t seen a bird on my patio in weeks or at least not as often as I used to.

Sure, it could be a coincidence. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it’s just that you start to notice the things you love a little more than the things that distract you and upset you. Doesn’t really matter if it’s the magic of the universe connecting with me or just a change in my perception. The happiness that it brings is what matters. That’s what gratitude journaling can do for you.

In fact, it helps me feel closer to nature. I grew up in the mountains. Nature’s kind of my thing. Or one of my things. Being grateful for the things in my life, the world around me, it makes even those boulders in my path not so daunting.

But I know gratitude journaling doesn’t always feel natural in the beginning. It seems a little forced, a little contrived. Maybe it even is a little in the beginning. Stick with it a while. Go back and read your entries from time to time. You’ll see how you grow the more you do it. The more natural it becomes.

I read a few of my old ones before writing this post. In fact, that is the reason I decided to write the post. When I read my old journal, when I was at my “highest,” I felt the difference in myself. The way I felt then vs. the way I feel now. My heart lightened up. A smile slid across my face.

Yeah, you may read an entry of your own, and it may sound a little silly. A little naive. Truth is, though, if you read it carefully, you’ll hear your inner child speaking. It’s a kid state of mind in some ways. That’s not a bad place to be if you ask me.

I thought instead of simply telling you to practice gratitude or to keep a gratitude journal, I would share a little of something from mine (or the one I’m about to start again). This will be my first entry in my new gratitude practice. Sometimes it’s just easier to see something in practice.

You’ll notice that my entry will focus on some of the “not so positive” things in my day. I do that purposefully — mindfully if you will. It’s easy to be grateful when it’s a sunny, beautiful day, you’re hanging on the arm of a handsome guy, and you’re working at a job that you love and makes you millions of dollars. What’s not to be grateful about in that situation?

When you’re unemployed. Worried about how long you can pay your bills. Sitting on your sofa looking out at a gloomy day. Being grateful isn’t as easy then. That’s when you need to do it most, though. That’s when it will have the most impact. Trust me.

If you can be grateful during the low times and start to feel better about yourself and life, imagine how you’ll feel when you are having those good days. It’s like happiness dividends from the bliss bank.

So here’s my first gratitude entry. Oh, by the way, I write my gratitude journals like letters to the universe. It feels like I’m having a conversation with a friend, and that works best for me.


Universe,

You know the weather can get me down sometimes, but not today. It’s close to evening, and the sky is a deep gray. It’s soothing and calming. Soft and velvety. Still and peaceful. Steady in its grayness.

A few lighter clouds drift by like fleeting thoughts. I see lightning flash from time to time. A glow within the darkness. I think it may rain soon.

You know, Universe, I’m so grateful for the rain. It washes everything clean. It feeds the trees that I love so and makes the world lush and green. I love the sound it makes as I’m dozing off to sleep. It blocks the noise of the busy street outside.

I feel peaceful and safe, although a storm is brewing. Like I’m in a warm, dry cocoon. I thank you so much for that.

You know I listen to rain when I meditate. When I need to wash myself of negativity. Funny, it does the same thing in real life, too. All the dirt and grime, the things that don’t belong in the world, they wash down the street into a drain at the bottom of the hill. It makes the world shiny and new.

I don’t thank you enough for the gray days, Universe. In fact, I usually complain. I apologize for that. I’m only human. Without them, though, the things I love wouldn’t exist. The plants, the trees, the birds, the creeks, rivers, and moss on stones, mushrooms on a decaying stump. It creates the landscape where I live and feeds the landscape in my mind.

Gray days, Universe, let me look inside. Curl up and get to know myself better. Read a book. Enjoy a poem. Tinker on my piano. In some ways, they are more about loving yourself than the sunny days. They are personal and introverted. Not in your face like those sunny days. But don’t get me wrong, I love sunny days, too.

Ah, I hear thunder rolling in the distance. The sound of thunder soothes me. The flashes of lightning are coming faster. I do actually love thunderstorms, Universe. The gentle ones, like tonight, make me realize how close to nature we really are. Nature still controls our lives. We’re more removed from it now, but the relationship is still the same.

Our homes were once our caves. We still come in out of the rain. We still burn wood on the coldest of nights. And camp beneath the starlight. We’re still connected, Universe, we just have to work a little harder now to notice it. That’s why I am writing this journal.

Thank you, Universe, for this beautiful world. For Mother Nature and all her power and all her glory. I thank you for a world that supports me and sustains me. That reminds me of the cycles of life. That I’m not alone. That there is a whole world of people and animals and trees and plants circling through the same cycles as I am. That I am part of nature and nature is part of me.

I thank you, Universe, especially today. I have worried about finding a job and how long I can pay my bills. I trust you will be there for me when I need it most, Universe. You always provide. Like today, with this gray day, that I didn’t realize I needed. A day where I can focus on the good things in life. The things I love. The things that matter. Thank you for that. Thank you for the gray days.


Now that may not do anything for you, but I can tell you it makes a world of difference for me. The beauty of gratitude journaling — or however you practice gratitude — is that you are an adult seeing the world from that childlike perspective. Yet, you’ve grown enough to understand all of the emotions you are having and you’ve learned to control them a little better in your old age. You know that bad things happen and they often happen to help you grow.

You get to see the wonder of the world while wrapped up in the stability of adulthood and mindfulness. There’s not a much better view of the universe than that … and there’s not a boulder in sight.

Peace, y’all.

Finding Our Way Home

Using meditation and mindfulness as a path to a loving world

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Why do we stop being children? Of course, there’s the journey and lessons to be learned. I get it. That’s what life’s all about. There is a reason, though, that spiritual journeys are often represented as a spiral.

Some things we just need to come back to. There are parts of us as children that we lose as we grow up. The world jades us a bit. Hardens our edges.

Hopefully, we find ourselves coming back around from time to time to reconnect to some of the better parts of ourselves. Those parts that are present when we’re young and innocent. When the world is wondrous and new.

Love, for example. Kids get it. Sometimes they get it better than we do as adults. They don’t overcomplicate it, that’s for sure. It just happens for them. It’s their nature.

I read this article on the Daily Good. It’s older, but stuff like this I hope stays on the Internet forever.

A group of professionals asked a group of 4- to 8-year-olds, “What is love?” There are some funny ones and some pretty advanced thoughts amongst this group of kids. The final entry, though, touched me. It came from a 4-year-old whose elderly neighbor had just lost his wife. I’ll simply copy the last part:

Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”

I’m not sure the child even knew that was an act of love, an act of kindness but boy, could we use a little more of that in this world. We all could revisit that part of ourselves. To love like children again.

I realize I sound like a broken record. I keep saying the same things over and over again. My goal, I guess, is that if I say it enough times, someone will listen.

That little boy’s actions, that’s who we are. That’s who we all are at our very cores. At our very best. I refuse to believe otherwise.

I also believe that one of the ways to reconnect with that part of ourselves is through mindfulness and meditation. It helps us weed all of those things that sprout up as we tackle challenges and obstacles in our lives. It clears the way for growth in our inner garden of love.

I’ve mentioned overcoming some roadblocks in my meditation in recent posts. Meditation comes in waves or levels … or if you read my previous post, layers in a layer cake. I’ve moved up a few layers, but I haven’t reached the top of the cake just yet.

As you move up, your world changes. I don’t think I’ve ever reached the top, but I’ve been higher than I am now. I’m trying to get there again. I’m trying to get back home.

That’s what it feels like. It feels like you are coming home to yourself. To who you truly are, how you are supposed to feel and who you are supposed to be.

I was closest when I quit my job a few years back. I wasn’t afraid of what was going to happen. I was happy… joyous even. I had faith in myself, and I had faith in the universe … God, Spirit, whatever you want to call it. The weight of burdens wasn’t with me anymore. The weight of worry and concern wasn’t with me. The weight of my future, my career, all the things we worry about from day to day was lifted.

When all of that weight is gone, you don’t look at the world the same. You don’t get angry when someone cuts you off or it passes through quickly if you do. You don’t rant all the way home. You see people for who they are and love them for it. You love their faults as well as their good points. Because we’re all human and you learn to appreciate and accept that more. You notice the taste and coolness of watermelon a little more on a hot summer day. You find comfort in the train that passes by your home every night at 3 a.m. rather than get annoyed by it. You find peace, and that peace helps to rekindle that love we feel as a child. The love that is so effortless. It’s like breathing.

It’s a different world when you reach a higher level with your meditation. You start to feel love literally radiating from your core while you meditate, and it stays with you through the day. You start to feel like you are home. That’s where you live. That’s where you are supposed to be. You knock down all the gates and uproot all of the hedges. You remove every barrier you’ve surrounded yourself with to protect you from the world.

Our home, though, shouldn’t have those barriers. We build them up. We have bad experiences or learn bad habits or thought processes and the gates go up. I want to get back home. I want to live unguarded. Free to love everyone and everything. That’s how I was as a child. I want that part of me back.

I want all of us to get back to that place. I want all of us to find our home.

Sometimes there are things in life that force us to come back around to ourselves. There are little reminders from the universe. Yesterday, I came across something online that brought me back to why I’m here. Why I started this blog.

This video is why I am here.

This video is why I keep repeating myself over and over. Do yoga. Meditate. Get back to yourself.

I repeat these things for two reasons. One, my knee-jerk reaction is to be angry at this man. To yell at him. To call him names. How dare he make these assumptions about people. How dare he speak to people this way.

Yoga and meditation, though, have calmed me enough to not do that. I’m not saying you don’t fight for what you believe, but you fight differently. It’s more Gandhi-style. Or John Lennon-style. Yoga and meditation have given me enough inner peace to breathe through my knee-jerk reaction.

Reason No. 2: After I let it all sink in, I feel sorry for this man. Not for the way he treated these people. I believe Karma will get him back for that. I do believe in Karma. But, in reality, that’s a terrible way to live. That’s a heavy burden on the heart and your soul to walk around feeling like that about someone else and many others simply because they came from another country and speak another language.

And you can see those walls go up around what once was probably a lovely little boy. “My tax dollars. My country.” Wall after wall. Blocking him off from what I believe is at the center of all of us. Love.

I’m not talking politics here. Or rights. Or anything of that sort. I’m talking about human nature. That’s not how we are born. That’s not who we are. Not here in America and not anywhere else in the world either. Those lessons and obstacles. Things we never quite came to peace with or cleared out of our souls. That’s what you saw on that video. That’s what’s weighing on that man. The material world. The political world. That’s where his anger comes from. Where the hate comes from. It’s nurtured, not nature.

He couldn’t see the human standing in front of him. He saw an obstacle. A challenge. The walls were in the way. He’s so far removed from himself, he couldn’t see the impact he was having. Worse yet, he probably didn’t care.

“My country. My tax dollars.”

If you’re a person of faith, didn’t God create each one of us? Didn’t he create the planet that supports us? Are we all in this together from the spiritual perspective? Is this how God wants us to treat each other?

If you are more esoteric in your beliefs, aren’t we all made of the same stardust? Even if you’re atheist, don’t we have to accept one another as cohabitants of the same planet?

Whatever your belief, that is not how we treat each other. And my belief, my humble opinion, that is not who we are as a species.

We’ve lost our way. We need to find our way back home. Back to that 4-year-old who says nothing, but his actions speak volumes.

Meditation and mindfulness is a pathway back home. Through the forest, through the gates, through the barriers we build. It’s possible to be free of that weight and those burdens. We can find our way back to love.

And I’m afraid you will hear that again and again until someone listens.

Peace, y’all.

Honeysuckle and Blackberries

Waiting and patience are part of the process (I think)

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Waiting and patience are hard lessons for me to learn. Generally speaking, I’m laid back and kind of lazy, so that may seem odd. But I get answers. I get things done and move onto the next thing or something I want to do. That’s how I function in a day-to-day kind of way. Life goals … well, that may be a slightly different story.

This post was going to be about how yoga and meditation help you learn waiting and patience. How they teach you to enjoy what’s in front of you and not focus on the past or what is to come. They do, and I’ll get to that, too.

However, I’m also one of those crazy people who believe in signs from the universe. Probably over my own logic and perhaps to my own detriment. I have made life decisions on strange, otherwise insignificant coincidences that I make into something bigger.

Today, as I went for a run, I came up with the idea for this post. The idea: Waiting is part of the process. You must learn patience.

I’ve been trying to force answers from people and situations recently, and obviously, the answers are not ready to reveal themselves to me. I’ve been trying to force my purpose in life to reveal itself, and you can’t force that. That is a fact. Trust me, I’ve tried many, many times.

I got home and started to write my post, and I saw a musical release from a new group that has intrigued me. Now, they had already released a couple of songs, so I wasn’t too surprised to see this one. However, it was the name of the release that struck me, because it so closely related to what I was thinking about the whole time I was running.

The name of the release? Forever Waiting, by Arthur Buck. Suddenly, everything I thought I had figured out on my run, kind of fell apart when I saw this “message from the universe.” That’s how my brain works, unfortunately. Literally, my Instagram feed, my Twitter feed, and my Facebook feed had the same announcement at the top of the list. All promoting this song called Forever Waiting after I just enlightened myself with the idea of waiting is something I need to learn.

Forever Waiting isn’t a good thing in this song. It’s not the waiting you have to learn kind of thing. So, I’m going to write my post as I originally intended. Take it for what it’s worth. The universe may be telling me that I am 100 percent wrong. I can’t honestly tell you. As I always say, I never claim to be an expert. I think I’ve come to some new level in my development and the universe says, “That is the complete opposite of what you should be doing.” I can’t tell you what’s right or wrong here, but maybe something useful will come out of this for you. And maybe something will reveal itself to me as I write it.

So, waiting. As I said, I’ve been trying to force things and they just weren’t ready to hatch. Part of the depression and struggle that I’ve mentioned repeatedly on here are for those very reasons. My need to have answers. My lack of patience. My need to know the next step.

In yoga, many times the teacher will tell you to do something without trying to anticipate the next move. They don’t tell you the next move. Sometimes that frustrates me, but that’s part of my lesson, you see, or so I thought until the universe spoke.

As I was running, I passed some wild blackberry bushes. It’s that time of year for them to bear fruit. The berries were all over the sidewalk. I love blackberries. And then I could smell the scent honeysuckle blossoms that were yards ahead of me.

That’s when I thought, “That’s all you can do. Enjoy the honeysuckle and blackberries that are in front of you. You can’t force answers. You can’t demand progress. Enjoy what it is present in the moment. The answers will come when they are supposed to come. You need to learn to wait and you need to learn patience.”

Sounded profound enough to write a post about it. I wasn’t doing yoga or meditation at the time, but I believe yoga and meditation got me there.

Honeysuckle and blackberries, by the way, also remind me of patience and waitingin essense. There is something bittersweet and delicious about them. Like blackberries, waiting and patience are a combination of tart and sweet. We don’t want to wait, but the best fruit, with the touch of sweetness, comes when it has had plenty of time to ripen.

And honeysuckle … you can smell it from miles away. I swear you can. One whiff of that sweet, warm aroma and it stops me in my tracks. I will slow down and seek it out just to get that tiniest drop of nectar from the bottom of the flower. For all the aroma you would think there would be so much more nectar, but you savor it just the same.

The point I’m trying to make is that you can’t force things. You can’t control them. Things will unfold as they are supposed to unfold. The honeysuckle will always have that tiniest drop of nectar, and the blackberry will always have a touch a tartness. You have to wait and learn patience. Eliminate your expectations and enjoy life as it is at the moment.

Yoga and mindfulness have taught me that. It is not an easy lesson for me. In fact, I am still learning it and probably always will. I’m not sure I’ll ever perfect it, but I am always learning.

What about the sign from the universe? Forever Waiting? I don’t know. Maybe I’m completely wrong. Perhaps learning to wait for the world to unfold in front of you and developing patience is completely the wrong thing to do. Or perhaps the universe is just beginning the next phase of the lesson for me and the answer to why that song appeared three times (and now more) in a row on each of my social media feeds will reveal itself to me at another time. For now, I’m going to enjoy the honeysuckle and blackberries and consider whether some things are never meant to have an answer … or if I just need to continue waiting patiently.

Bathing in Forgiveness

Allowing meditation to wash away your pain and help you heal

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Letting go is one of the hardest things any of us ever do. Some of us pretend that we don’t care. That we’re better off. Although that may be true in the grand scheme of things, if there is anything to let go, there is some sadness or hurt around it. We don’t hold onto things if we don’t care about them.

Meditation, like prayer, can help with letting go. For me, sometimes, it is the only way I can do it.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes my mojo just gets gunked up. A sludge slows down my juju. It drags me down. Hurt feelings, regrets, bad decisions, unfortunate situations, dashed hopes, unrealized expectations build up in my system. They take the shine off my sparkly, little soul.

When that happens, it affects everything. My mood goes sour. My heart sours. My brain gets groggy. My body becomes exhausted from dredging through the waste products of life.

I don’t even realize it most of the time. One day I find that I’m dragging. Barely making it through life. Too much stuff is weighing me down.

Then I wake up in a funk like I did today. A deep, nasty funk.

Lesson 1: If you are struggling or in a funk, look inside and see if you need to forgive someone or something.

Now, I had sort of already forgiven my former employer for letting me go. I hadn’t let go of my feelings about being laid off. I hadn’t stopped beating myself up for some of the things I did or said in the past years that likely had no role in the situation or maybe they did, but at this point, it doesn’t matter.

Also, there were a couple of people I had been dealing with on a personal project. Things fell apart. A miscommunication of some sort. I don’t know what the miscommunication was about or how things escalated to the point they did. I stopped contact with them, though.

I was hurt and confused. Angry, too. Then I remembered one was getting ready to celebrate a special event, and the other was in process of launching a new project of his own.

I was upset with myself for overthinking and being angry and lethargic. I was upset that I was thinking negative things about someone as they prepared for a special day and while another was in the middle of something potentially wonderful for him. All because of poor communications and misunderstandings. Dashed hopes and unrealized expectations.

Gunk layers just building up and building up. That’s when I realized I needed a little forgiveness session in the church of the mind.

Forgiveness, though. That’s a tough one, ain’t it? We like to think we’re not at fault. That it’s the circumstance or the other guy. Forgiveness, though, makes you look at yourself as well as the other guy and the situation.

Admitting you are part of the downfall ain’t easy, especially if you feel that you are in the right. Sometimes there isn’t a right or wrong, though. Even if there is, it doesn’t really matter after it all falls apart.

All you can do then is forgive. Forgiveness goes both ways, too. You have to forgive yourself and others. That can take some soul searching. I’m not ashamed to say that meditation is the only way I can accomplish it.

Lesson 2: You can’t change the past, but forgiveness can help you move forward.

This morning, I realized the grime coating my soul needed to go. I was going to shut down if I didn’t do something. My only solution was meditation.

Now, when I meditate looking for forgiveness — for myself or others — I listen to music or recordings that feature rain. You’d think I would want sunshine and rainbows to lift my spirits, but no. When I’m looking for forgiveness or letting go of negative feelings, I need to listen to rain.

Rain during my meditation let’s me first feel the sadness of the situation. My mind’s eye sees the tarnished version of my soul standing in the drizzle. As I seek to understand and to find in my heart the ability to let go of those feelings and let go of the situation, the rain begins to wash that tarnish off my spirit.

By the end of my meditation, I have bathed my soul in forgiveness. It’s a visual that helps me process the feeling of letting go. It washes away the hurt and disappointment.

Lesson 3: Meditation helps release negative feelings that you can’t let go.

A little sadness remains, of course, but I’m washed clean of the negativity. The sadness will fade. And then I can think to myself that I wish all the happiness and prosperity in the world to them. I truly do.

They may never know that I wish them happiness, and they may never read this post. Still, I have put the vibe into the universe, and the universe forgives me a little, as well. That gives me peace.

That’s when the healing begins and when your soul starts to shine again.

When the Current Changes

Experiencing negative emotions during yoga and meditation

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Here’s a little surprise for you. Yoga and meditation do not always invoke positive feelings. Of course, your goal is to get to those positive feelings, but sometimes you have to remove some negative ones. The only way to deal with negative feelings is to face them.

Yoga and meditation sometimes like to honor you with these little unexpected gifts of self-awareness. The last few days have been positive overall, but today was drastically different. I became so upset during meditation that I had to stop.

I have to be honest here. I’ve never been diagnosed with depression, but I’m fairly certain I suffer from it — at least from time to time. I stopped therapy due to my job loss, but as soon as I find a new source of income, I intend to get back to it.

Today’s practice and meditation released something in me. An hour later, I’m still having trouble digesting it. I have read that these negative feelings that arise during yoga and meditation are from past experiences. They’re trapped emotions that may not necessarily be related to your current life at all.

Lesson 1: Don’t be surprised if you experience negative emotions during yoga or meditation. That is part of the process — to acknowledge these parts of you and face them.

I’m not sure what it is. I am certain that something was released or opened during my practice. Because I’m still feeling some discomfort around it, I’m not sure if I have let it go completely.

I was going to save you from another one of my meditation mini-movies, but after thinking about it more, I feel like this one may be more important than the others. Why? Because if you are dealing with depression or at least depressed thoughts, you’ll see you are not alone. Also, although I stopped my meditation today, I am feeling a little better about it. In other words, although the current changed in my life flow, I’m learning to ride the wave rather than fight against it.

Also, this is a little bit cathartic for me. I’ll be honest. You see, I have these thoughts, and I keep them bottled up or written down in my journal. I don’t express them to anyone else. Perhaps it’s time I did.

So with that, here is my meditation (much shorter than previous ones):

It begins in an open room. No furniture — just four walls, a floor, and a ceiling. A natural light beams down into the room. In the center, a cloud of mist, golden and luminous, dances a few feet above the floor.

After a few minutes, a black, smoke-like mist seeps into the center from the top down. The golden cloud twists tightly like a tornado as if it is trying to wring out or choke the black smoke. The two entwine so tightly they become a single shade of gray.

Eventually, they unravel and begin to wrestle with one another — twisting and tugging back and forth. The black mist grows stronger and overtakes the gold mist, enveloping it until there is only a small sliver of visible along the bottom. The struggle continues althoug the golden mist is hidden. Finally, the struggle stops. There is no more movement.

The black mist lowers to the ground and gently releases the golden mist. It seeps into the ground and disappears. The black mist settles to the floor and disappears as well.

The black mist won. It wasn’t the positive energy, yet I felt relieved. My soul was at peace … at rest. No more fighting or struggling.

In my physical body, eyes still closed in meditation, my heart ached. Literally ached. It felt constricted. Tears were already rolling down my cheeks. I had the thought, “I want my heart to stop aching … I want my heart to … stop.”

I couldn’t continue after that. I tear up writing about it. But, more importantly, I’m facing it. I’m sharing it as part of my facing it. This is not easy for me. It’s not what I do. I’m very private. I know it may not seem like it here, but I am.

This whole blog has been a practice in opening up for me. Allowing myself to be me. Flawed. Imperfect. Sometimes depressed. Me.

I also believe that part of the purpose of yoga and meditation is to help us with our dark sides. We all have them. We have to experience them or they will choke us in some way or another. We’ll have a heart attack or we’ll give up on life or we’ll take it out on others. However they manifest, emotions will find a way to the surface. It is better to deal with them even if you end up in tears in the middle of your living room floor on a beautiful day.

Lesson 2: We all have a dark side. We must embrace it or at least accept it through mindfulness practices. Otherwise, it can harm us.

I’ve talked about finding my purpose in the past. I’m beginning to think that dealing with depression or other mental/emotional challenges may be a part of that. At the very least, it is something I need to deal with in order to move forward.

I do, however, believe that yoga and meditation are helping face these things, as well as cope with them. I found this article on dealing with negative emotions during your practice and thought it was comforting and helpful. I hope you do as well.

Peace, y’all.