Moving Beyond a Shadow

In search of creating real connections with meaning

People gather to watch Lunar eclipse over Hamburg

Connection. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I want to write something on here that will connect with someone. But, I’m finding I have nothing to say … or at least nothing that I feel will connect with someone.

Human connection is funny. I have friends and family. I connect with them, but not so much on things that matter. Or things that I’m feeling. They don’t even know this blog exists or, as far as I know, they don’t. I come here to connect on those things that matter.

We need human connection. Especially about things that matter and how we feel. That’s when we need it the most.

I’m an introvert. I’m used to being alone. I’m not used to feeling lonely. Lately, I’ve been feeling lonely. Is it my personality? Depression? Just simple lack of employment? I don’t know. I think if I could identify it, I could deal with it better.

I keep returning to the idea that I’m an empath. I’ve been told this many times. It comes up in different assessments. Or maybe it just appeals to me to be an empath. It makes me feel special in some way.

If I am an empath, though, maybe what I’m feeling is not even my own. Maybe as I connect more and more to all that is through yoga, pilates, meditation, I’m realizing how disconnected we are as a society. When I write that it makes me cry. That means I’m either really fucking lonely or I’m picking up on some not so awesome vibes in the universe.

I want us to feel connected. To know that we’re there for each other. That when one of us is in trouble or unemployed or sick that we’re there for each other. That we’re not all just out there alone in the world.

I look out my window and I see power lines. That’s what we are right now. Power lines. We’re all connected. Energy exchanges. But it means nothing. Maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m just depressed. I have been down.

Then again, maybe I see potential in the world. I see potential in myself as I sit on my sofa typing this in my state of unemployment. Maybe I see all the connections, know the energy is exchanging but it’s just that. An exchange. Neutral. Not positive. Not negative. Just an exchange.

How do we make those exchanges more powerful? More meaningful? Instead of a text about what you had for lunch or the traffic you’re in, what about something good in the world? Or something moving?

There are good things in the world. Good stories. Positive initiatives.

Even the little things. The mourning dove that sits on the power line right outside my place. She’s always there. I don’t know why I think it’s a she, but I do. She’s always there. Sometimes she has friends. Sometimes she’s alone, staring into my french doors. That exchange is positive for me. The bird may not get much out of it, but it’s good for me. It’s positive.

I want to move people and I feel powerless to move people. I write this blog. I hope it’s something to move someone. At least connect to someone in a real way. Not just an exchange, but how do I know? And if this isn’t the place and format for me to connect, what is?

For some reason, I connect my state with the state of the world. It sounds dumb and self-important. But, I believe it to be true on some small level.

I want us all to connect and to embrace that connectedness for what it is. What it can be. I wish I knew if this blog was contributing to that, but I don’t. For now, it’s all I know to do. All I can afford to do.

I’m sorry. I intended for this blog to be uplifting and positive. Unfortunately, the majority of the content has been written since I was laid off from my job. Kind of a low point for me. I want to remain positive and to provide more positivity here. It’s slipping from me at the moment. It’s another reason I decided to not post as often.

I will try to end on a positive note. One thing that I do feel connects us is nature and the universe and things we don’t really control in any way but surround us at all times.

Friday, we had the longest lunar eclipse in a century. It was beautiful visually and spiritually, if you ask me. These things that are bigger than us — nature, the universe, the stars and moon — they have the power to connect us. When the total eclipse happened last year, the world stopped. When the lunar eclipse happened Friday, we all stopped again. In awe of something as simple as a shadow.

That’s all it is really. A shadow. If a shadow can connect us as a species so peacefully and so dramatically and with such joy and wonder, what could happen if we put our best foot forward? If we made an effort to connect on a meaningful level instead of watching something passively. Now that’s a beautiful thought.

Peace, y’all.

https://www.nytimes.com/video/players/offsite/index.html?videoId=100000006029254

 

The Cosmic Machine

Integrating positive influences to make the world a better place

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Influences are funny. You know immediately when something has an impact on you, but you forget about it over time. You forget about the impact and maybe even forget about the thing that had the impact.

Yesterday I heard the song Imagine by John Lennon. I don’t remember the first time I heard the song. I don’t recall how old I was or where I heard it. All I know is that when I hear it, I still tear up. That song touches something so central to my being I am overwhelmed by it.

The simplicity of it is beautiful. The message, of course, is beautiful. I don’t really believe in perfection, but that song is pretty damn close if you ask me.

That song and The Lorax by Dr. Seuss pretty much sum up everything I am or everything I try to be. They are what this blog is all about when I get down to it.

If you read that book, listen to that song and maybe throw in the Golden Rule, you have my philosophy on life. My outlook on the world and how we should be. Maybe a Bob Marley quote or two could be added into the mix.

Yoga and meditation have recently come into my philosophy, and now Pilates as well. It’s really more just a mind, body, spirit connection. Physical well-being leads to mental well-being and eventually spiritual well-being. For me, I add on one more layer. The energy within us affects the energy around us.

OK, for my complete philosophy I have to include Einstein’s theory that energy can’t be created or destroyed, it simply changes form. Everything, in my opinion, is made of energy. That mind/body/spirit connection influences our energy. The world around us, the planet we live on, is also made of energy and connected to everything. Our energy influences the planet and vice versa.

So, in my mind, a pop song, a children’s book, and a scientific theory walk into a bar and a new world order is born. I think I’ve said this on here before I’m good at seeing the big picture. True or not, I think I am and that’s really all that matters, right?

Seeing the big picture means seeing all the moving parts and how they connect. To fix a problem in the big picture, you have to find where in the machinery the gear is stuck. Sure we have large-scale problems in this world, but don’t they all start from the individual mind? How the mind perceives something? How it reacts to it? That’s the stuck gear in the cosmic machine.

When that tiny, single gear is stuck way down in the machine it seizes up the rest of the operation. Perhaps it’s not completely stuck. Perhaps it just has buildup and turns slowly. Or it’s rusty and needs some lubrication. Still, it affects how the rest of the machine operates.

I’m just trying to get the gears at the beginning of the process to work properly and then we can start to fix the other things. Or maybe they will fix themselves.

We start by getting ourselves in proper working order. I’m not saying we have to perfect human specimens and we can never fuck up. If you don’t fuck up, you don’t learn, so being human is part of the process. Once you start understanding yourself and how you think and react, though, you can make changes that improve your well-being and eventually those around you.

You’re still going to fuck up. I mean, let’s be serious for a minute. That’s OK. It’s the effort that matters really.

People think you have to move mountains to make the world a better place. That is not my intention at all with this blog. I don’t move mountains. I write a blog. In the grand scheme of things, that’s pretty insignificant, considering there are hundreds of millions of blogs in the world and tens of millions of posts made every day.

I’m just a single plankton in the sea. In the end, though, it is the small things that matter. Giant, bold moves matter, of course, but how often do those happen? How many of us would feel comfortable doing that? Not many.

That’s OK. It doesn’t mean we can’t play a part. Helping someone move a piece of equipment in the gym when they’re struggling to move it helps. Saying thank you and hello to a cashier helps. Telling someone you appreciate them or they look nice today helps.

It may not seem like much. It may not seem like enough, but it is. If each of us did one truly kind thing, without expectations, each day or made one small positive change, that’s billions of good vibes out in the world within the same 24-hour period. How good would that feel? Pretty fucking good, I think.

I’m shy, though. Terribly shy. I always have been and have had to overcome it to function in this world. Lately, because of the type of work I do, I’ve fallen back into my shell.

I’m focusing on yoga, pilates and that sort of thing to feel more confident in myself. So I can be in a group of people and not wish I could disappear. I love people, but I’m shy as hell. The mind/body/spirit connection helps me with that.

One, it helps me make a bold, strong statement if I need to — one that may change things for the better. But, really, it also helps me be friendlier, especially to strangers. To bring me out a little more. I had learned to come out of my shell for work years ago, but I don’t really have to do that anymore. I can be a quiet little mouse, and I have been.

What I’ve noticed is that I shy away from more now than I used to. I refrain from saying hello or smiling at strangers. There was a point in my life when I didn’t shy away. I smiled and said hello to everyone. Not a boisterous hello or anything like that, but a smile and whisper. I spoke to everyone.

Just speaking to someone can have an impact. Those little things make a difference. At least I believe they do. Even when someone looks at me sideways for speaking to them, I don’t want care. That’s the way I used to be. I felt better for being friendlier and hopefully, somewhere deep down, it made them feel better, too.

I want to get back into that habit again. The world responds differently when you do. It may be a small difference, but if you pay attention, you’ll notice it.

This blog even is a bit of me working on being out there more. Trying to have a small impact somewhere, somehow. I’m not a great writer. It doesn’t matter. My ability to write is not the point of this blog. The point is trying to make a difference. To influence change if I can.

I heard that song and I remembered the influence it had on me in my youth. It still has an impact on me. I read The Lorax sometime last year, I recall, and I cried like a baby. A grown woman crying at a children’s book. Eh, I’m a sensitive type.

But that’s where I’m trying to go with all of this. Improving ourselves so we can make just a small change in our day, in someone else’s day. Get back in touch with those influences that make us realize our connection to one another. To what’s important in the world.

I’m trying to build that world John Lennon imagined. That place where the Truffula trees still live. Where the cosmic machine is operating at full capacity. I think it all starts from within. That we can make a difference one person at a time. It’s as simple and as beautiful as Lennon’s lyrics. Maybe I’m crazy or maybe Lennon was right. Maybe he’s not the only dreamer after all.

Peace, y’all.

Alien Signals from the Deathbed

Embracing your own insanity as a form of self-love

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So, I’m a liar. I said I was going to take a break from this blog. Here I am writing another post two days later. I’m pretty certain I’m going insane. I guess that’s OK. I have to embrace it, I suppose. I can’t stop it, obviously.

I was just writing in my journal this morning how I’m not compelled to do certain things. I want to do them, but I don’t feel compelled to them. Like, write a novel or paint or anything artistic like that. Painters are compelled to paint. Musicians are compelled to compose. What am I compelled to do?

So, I asked myself, on my deathbed, will I regret not doing these things? I didn’t feel that I would. They’re nice to have but not necessary. Tomorrow, if you asked the same question, I would probably answer in a completely different fashion.

I digress … or at least I’m getting ahead of myself. I don’t know if anyone reads this thing. I get comments from time to time. I guess someone reads it or at least takes the time to comment whether they read it or not.

I’m not even talking about anything on here anymore. I realize that. It’s just my random thoughts sputtering out into the universe. For some reason, I feel compelled to do this. Suddenly. To share shit. I don’t share shit. It’s not my thing.

Well, apparently, now it is. This blog has basically become my personal journal. Someone commented once they liked reading about my journey. Yeah, it’s a journey, alright. Straight into Crazytown.

I am über private. Uber private. I wouldn’t let people stand in the same room where my journals were hidden. Yeah, they were hidden. Yes, I live alone. I was afraid someone would see them. Read them. Like someone gives a shit. It was a concern though.

Now, I’m putting all my thoughts out here. For no reason. I don’t really think anyone reads this. Not even sure if it matters to me that anyone reads it. So why put it on the Internet? Why not just write it in a journal?

I don’t know. There is no logic to insanity. I can’t tell you why. I think I’m just putting signals out like a beacon. Like NASA — or somebody — does. Hoping to find some other life form out there that can read the signal. That understands and may respond one day. Maybe we’ll connect. Maybe everything will make sense. Until then, just a constant pulsing of weird messages out into the universe. Floating through space and time.

I don’t put all my crazy on here. Be thankful for that. You just get a small taste of it. Some crazy, though, you keep to yourself. It’s just too much for the world to handle.

Anyway, feeling compelled. That’s what prompted this blog. I wrote in my journal this morning trying to find my purpose. How many times have I talked about that on here? Who knows? Too many. You know how the movies always show the folks in mental institutions repeating things over and over? There you go. Proof of the insanity.

So, I’m thinking about my purpose. What would I regret on my deathbed? I would regret not experiencing more in life. Not seeing more of the world. Not traveling more. Not learning about other cultures and the people on this planet. Not dancing and enjoying their music. That’s what I would regret.

Then, as things do on this blog, on my journey, in Crazytown, they circled back around. A few posts back I talked about how one human life wasn’t more important than another human life. I was talking about protecting immigrants here in the US.

See, I don’t see us as different. Well, we’re different but not separate. We’re all one species sharing one planet. It’s this whole interconnectedness shit that I talk about all the time. I don’t want us to be separate. I want us to understand one another. To get each other.

I love to travel. I’m introverted as fuck, so that makes it weird and awkward, but I love to travel. I don’t talk much. I observe. I like to observe and feel the place if that makes sense. Get the essence of the culture, the people. One on one, I will talk. I enjoy that actually. But, not everyone wants to talk to an awkward woman. Go figure, right.

Then I thought about that trip to New York I took back in February. I wrote about it here. I kept wanting to talk about the place. The vibe. The feeling. There’s so much diversity in that city. That’s what gives it the vibe it has. It’s a fucking awesome vibe, too.

I did the same sort of thing talking about Paris. I brief snippet, but still.

Back to the interconnectedness stuff.  Sorry. My crazy is working at warp speed today. My thoughts are scattered.

Travel. One species, one planet. I want people to travel. At least learn about the world. About other cultures. To understand how they honor their dead. The food they eat and why. Hear their music and learn why it sounds the way it does. To feel it. Dance to it.

That’s what I want to do. Experience those things. I want others to do that. To feel that interconnectedness. We really aren’t that different. There are differences. I’m not to going to gloss over that. Some we can’t ignore. But some we can. I would guess there are more things in common than not if you look at overarching themes.

And each place has its own energy. A unique mix of cultures and stories. That’s beautiful. I want us to see the beauty in our differences first. That helps tackle the challenges of our differences from a more grounded, empathetic position.

Is that a purpose? Can I make that a purpose somehow? A career? I don’t know. They say dream big. Uniting the world is pretty damn big, right? How do I do that? I don’t know. I jotted down a few ideas. I’ll keep them for myself. I keep spouting out big plans and goals on here and then not following through. That’s because I haven’t nailed it down yet.

I’m just sending out signals. Pulsing and pulsing. Maybe they’ll strike a chord with someone. I’m searching, I suppose. For meaning. For purpose. For more connectedness.

Then there’s that witch thing I mentioned. Where does that fit in? Healing. Well, I guess this is a form of healing, right? Music heals. Food can heal. Love and understanding heal.

What does this all have to do with mindfulness, yoga and meditation? Who the fuck knows? I guess embracing your own insanity is a form of self-love, right? So let yourself be insane for a while. Talk out of your ass from time to time. Maybe that’s where you find the meaning of life. Maybe the insane know the truth and they’re justing waiting for us to catch up.

Peace, y’all.

Between Politics and Piety

Finding balance between the inner and outer worlds

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Who am I? Why am I here? Yep, it’s that kind of day. Not in a mopey sense. A real philosophical deep dive into myself.

So I’m studying Pilates, planning to get yoga certification someday in the near future. I started down this path for an entirely different reason, though. Not to be fit, although that is a plus, too. I’ve said it before, the political environment sort of drove me in this direction. I felt like we needed to get to a good place within ourselves so we could fix what is happening outside of ourselves.

I’m not expecting us to see eye to eye on everything. I’m only hoping we can speak to each other without wanting to claw each other’s eyes out. To listen to one another. I mean, my bar is pretty low here. I’m not looking for miracles, but it’s starting to feel that way.

I’m a big believer in separation of church and state. Combining the two has never worked out long-term in the past. However, on a personal voter level, it’s unrealistic to believe our personal beliefs don’t play into how we vote. They do. Myself included.

But you may ask, “What’s this have to do with a blog about meditation and yoga and that kind of stuff?” Well, yoga and meditation get us better in touch with ourselves and who we are truly at our core. As an individual. Our own personal set of beliefs.

Right now, I believe too many people identify with particular beliefs because that’s what their church tells them to believe or the community they live in tells them they should think. We are starting to rank the value of life based on labels.

Self-care — I’ll call it that for short here — also puts us in a mindset to be real in our discussions. Honesty without the anger. Empathetic to some degree … even if we don’t totally agree with someone else.

The first step to getting in touch with ourselves and who we are is learning to care for ourselves. From there, we can get to some higher discussions. Solve some problems. Hell, at least talk without a fist fight breaking out. Low bar, remember?

I realize that’s a stretch for many people. It’s how my brain works. I feel that we’re disconnected from everything … primarily because we are so connected technologically. Our bodies aren’t connected to our minds. Our minds aren’t connected to our spirit. Hardly anything is connected to our environment. We’re disconnected from one another because of the constant separation of us based race, religion, place of birth, political beliefs.

We’re not relating to each other as humans but as members of specific groups. We’re not even listening to one another. We’re definitely not relating to our planet because we rarely interact with it anymore.

I’ve been told I’m good at seeing the big picture. And I may not be good at many things, but I firmly believe I am good at seeing patterns. I am good at connecting the dots and seeing where something is headed. I honestly believe we — America specifically, but the world in general — we are not headed in a good direction.

This total disconnection and separation is the big picture. We live in a constant state of bubble life and anything outside of our bubble is bad. This has created a political system that has lost its humanity. Without humanity, a political system will not last very long because it is ignoring the biggest reason it even exists. Humans.

So why am I thinking about all this on a lovely Saturday afternoon? Because that’s how a freakazoid like me spends her free time.

Plus, I had an experience this week. It’s the same sort of experience at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 that got me started on this blog in the first place.

I had no agenda whatsoever. I saw a human situation that touched my heart, and I reacted it to it. I shared a story on Facebook regarding a couple raising money to reunite immigrant children with their parents.  The only comment I made with the post was this: “I’m unemployed, but I’m going to contribute what I can to this.”

Just as it happened in the past (and with the exact same person at that), I was berated about the homeless veterans and children who are citizens starving to death. I had a knee-jerk reaction and responded with, “The programs that supported those groups were defunded by the Republican party.” And then I proceeded to explain that these children weren’t homeless, but that our government tore them from their families.

It would have continued except I blocked the guy. At that point, the second or third time around with this guy on different topics, I was done with him. So I did exactly what others are doing. And I was upset with myself for doing it.

I can sit and argue with the best of them. But unless the arguing is going somewhere, finding some sort of common ground or something, then it’s pointless and going nowhere. It’s arguing for argument’s sake.

The truth is yes, we should be concerned about the veteran’s and native-born children starving. My point, that I never clearly made, is that one human life is not more valuaable than another human life. These are humans, and I was simply reacting to a human cause because it was brought to my attention.

That is my point. And we need a political system that understands that all human life is valuable. One group is not more deserving than another, and we need to find a way to serve all of them. Our system has always eventually moved toward protecting human rights. Until now.

Now we’re moving toward protecting rights for certain humans over others. We can call it by any other name, but that’s what it is. That is the wrong direction. We’ve seen what happens when a country goes in this direction. We fought against it in WWII. We played a role in developing the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights to avoid this sort of thing. And now that is how we’re governing.

Does Pilates, yoga, meditation and mindfulness play a role in how we can and should govern our society? Yeah, in my fucked up brain, it makes perfect sense. We’re not identifying with ourselves as individuals, we’re identifying as groups or labels. Smaller and smaller factions that fight more and more amongst ourselves.

So I’m stuck somewhere between politics and piety.

Self-care, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, those are spiritual endeavors to me. It connects us to our bodies. Our bodies store our mind and spirit. They all interact and are connected. One cannot be fully healthy without the other parts being healthy and functioning. It is the center of where all changes start — within each of us. I cannot change you, but I can change myself.

There is something in each of us that directs us to be better. If enough of us focus on being better. On caring for ourselves, for our neighbors, our community, strangers on the street, then the world becomes better.

But I have to question myself: Is this enough? Is a blog about yoga, pilates, meditation and mindfulness enough?

I don’t know if it’s enough. All I know is that it’s a start. A place to begin. I believe it is the best way to start bringing humanity and human kindness back to the table. To incorporate humanity in the political discussion. To start looking at the greater good.

A blog that hardly anyone reads is not a lot, but it’s what I have to give. Becoming an instructor and helping others find what I’m finding is a start. That’s all I can do. Start. Take baby steps. Move in the direction I want to see the world move. Be the change, as they say.

Sure, I wish it was more. Maybe someday it will be more. Who knows, but it is what I can give now. I’m starting where I am.

I still want separation of church and state — separation of politics and piety. But, if our personal beliefs are going to play a role in our politics (and they are), then I want us coming from a place of empathy and humanity. And this is my small offering to help that happen. Maybe someday I’ll figure out a bigger way to get there, but for now, this my short-term goal. It’s my building block to re-uniting us as humans again. We’ll see where it goes.

Peace, y’all.

Finding Equilibrium

Another meditation short story

Today, I tried binaural beats for my meditation. It has been recommended to me a few times. I’m not certain if I’m finding the right thing or not, though. It always sounds a little like space sounds to me.

Regardless, it’s supposed to put you a trancelike mindset. That’s good for meditation. In that sense, it worked very well. So I would give it a try if you want a little help dropping into your meditation.

Isochronic tones is another suggestion I will try later this evening or tomorrow. I’ve given it a quick listen. Repeated beats.  Both make me think of space, though. I can’t tell you why.

As a result, I have another short story for you based on a meditation. Of course, this meditation visual/story was based in outer space. Enjoy!

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Finding Equilibrium

The nightmare jerked Nori awake. Her heart pounded in her chest hard and fast.

Jesus, what is happening? She ran her hand through her hair and rubbed her forehead to calm her nerves. I’ve got three more months to go.

The past few days Nori had experienced nightmares. Each one rousing her from much-needed sleep. A sense of dread had crept into her mind, but she didn’t know why.

Her mission was going well. Three months into the project, the technology to help repair the ozone was in place. The results were looking good. Her reports back home had sparked enthusiasm on all sides.

Still, she found herself growing tenser each day. After recovering from the dream, she made her way to the kitchen to make herself a cup of coffee. Part way to her destination, she stopped and decided instead to mediate.

I think I need this today. Hold on the caffeine for a minute

She typically didn’t meditate on a mission. Life in a space was its own sort of meditation. The constant, low humming was trancelike and a view of the entire universe spread out before her. on a daily basis. A better meditation room could never be designed. It was peaceful except for the occasional knocking and self-adjusting of equipment.

Regardless, her nerves were shot. The lack of sleep, the bad dreams — she opted to give herself a few minutes before starting her day.

She returned to her sleep chamber and attached herself so she wouldn’t float around the cabin. She took her usual seated position and closed her eyes. The ever-present white noise easing her into quietness.

As she sat, cross-legged, she chanted to her self. Her muscles relaxed. Her mind settled. A few deep breaths and she had begun to feel a little better.

Then the image from her dream appeared behind her eyes. She was staring at the earth, as she does so much of the time. Sunlight illuminated the planet’s surface. Some areas covered with a layer of clouds.

From the eastern coast of North America, a small area of darkness began to spread across the land. She thought to report it, but it moved too quickly. Her heart raced as the blackness spread across the continent.

She wasn’t sure if it was a disease. A device that had wiped out everything in sight. It looked like cancer spreading across the hemisphere.

“Shit,” she said aloud to herself.

Her eyes snapped open. The meditation was a mistake. She shook it off and began her morning routine.

After preparing herself a coffee, she sat at the monitor to take in the day’s news. She hesitated before reading. Part of her worried that the news was the issue. Each day she felt a little worse about what she read. The earth looked peaceful from her view, but the news told a different story.

I need to know what’s going on in the world. With that thought, she proceeded to read.

Nothing out of the ordinary. It was the same news with the same dramas. Still, the dread seemed to grow.

She rose to begin her morning exercise before gathering the data from the instruments and preparing her reports. As she moved about the cabin, her chest tightened.

Nori paused and took a few deep breaths. Her lungs squeezed even tighter. In fact, they began to stop functioning or that’s how it felt to her.

Am I having a heart attack?

Her breath was restricted. Her heart pounded just as it had when she woke up. Her arteries filled with blood to the point of bursting. She could feel every beat of her heart throbbing in her arms and her neck. She couldn’t swallow. She couldn’t speak. She felt dizzy and nauseated.

She tried to reach the communication panel, but her body wouldn’t allow her. Her muscles were too tense.

I’m trapped in this space can, and I can’t get out.

For the first time in her life, she wanted to be anywhere but space. Anger and fear coiled around her until she was immobilized.

This is it.

Unable to do anything, she simply curled into a ball waiting for her own death, alone in the cosmos. Her body tensed to the point that it hurt. She was certain that the pain emanated from her heart. The throbbing continued throughout her body. Her head ached.

She drifted around the cabin occasionally bouncing off something, sending her off in a different direction. After several minutes had passed, her breathing eased. Her lungs relaxed and the breath began to flow naturally. Her muscles released their grip and she slowly unfolded her limbs.

Exhausted, Nori released her entire body and floated quietly for a few minutes. Her eyes remained closed as she attempted to find her equilibrium again.

“Fuck,” was the only thing she could mutter once her throat relaxed enough to speak.
Regaining her composer, she needed to send a report back home about her panic attack.

I don’t understand. I’ve never had a panic attack. Something isn’t right.

She recorded the incident in her journal before calling it in.

I don’t know what they are going to do with this. Worried about her future, she hesitated about reporting it officially.

Maybe it’s just the one time.

She looked back down at her journal and noticed the end of her last entry. Flipping back through the last few days, a common theme revealed itself. Her thoughts had grown increasingly concerned.

She read about her nightmares. The earth was always ending while she was out in space never able to return home. Or, if she returned home somehow, it wasn’t the same earth she left behind — war-torn, demolished. Everyone pitted against one another in their own survival.

It’s not the one time. Disheartened by her own journal, she called in her report.

“This is Nori Jordan of the Mission Ra. I believe I have just experienced a panic attack. All is good now. Thank you.”

Eventually, she knew another voice would come online. They would likely pull in a psychiatrist to speak with her to make sure she could finish out the program.

She took the moment to relax and recover from the event. The planet in full view in front of her.

“God, that’s beautiful,” she whispered to herself. The fragility of its existence only truly known by astronauts, scientists and philosophers.

This was the mediation she had needed earlier. She watched storms swirl out over the oceans and imagined the billions of people milling about their lives on the earth’s surface — like ants in an anthill. All serving their purpose. Repairing themselves and the world around them. The earth healing itself rather than the new technology she was monitoring doing the job.

If I die up here, it will be OK, she thought to herself. I’m up here among the stars. With a view on all humanity. Seeing the possibilities. That’s not a bad way to go, is it?

A static-filled greeting came through the communication system. “Good morning, Nori. This is Dr. Eli. How are you feeling this morning?”

“Good morning, Dr. Eli. I’m feeling much better now. Thanks.”

Habit Ain’t a Dirty Word

Forming habits to give yourself more freedom and happiness

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Habit. Is that a dirty word to anyone else? I always associated two things with the word habit: doing something bad and lack of freedom. I saw nothing positive in habits.

That’s the former me, though. I like habits now, but the idea of habits (good or bad) sounded terrible until this past year. Words even associated with habit felt icky: practice, routine. Bleh, boring, right? I guess that’s the way you look at them until you see the benefit of them.

The funny thing is that the good ones are easier to form than breaking the bad ones. At least that’s the case for me. I’m thinking about habits because I’m considering trying the break the big one.

I bite my nails. I have bitten my nails my entire life. It’s a bad habit. A disgusting one, too, but there have been few times in my life that I haven’t bitten them. I’m not sure that I’m there yet, to be honest. But I’m considering trying to break it.

When I thought about my nail-biting habit and wanting to stop it, I started thinking about habits in general. My nail biting has always been a bad habit. I have always struggled to stop that. I think because it’s how my brain deals with anxiety and stress. Lord knows there is a lot of anxiety and stress in this world.

What other bad habits do I have? Social media. Which is funny. Before 2016, I didn’t have that habit. Five years ago, I refused to look at my phone on the weekends or at night. Gradually that faded. Starting around 2016, it became a habit. Maybe even an addiction. I’m trying to break that habit a little more too.

I don’t want to be fully disconnected but I don’t have to be that connected. I thought I was going to miss out on the news. Turns out somehow you pick that up by osmosis almost. There is so much information floating around, I don’t have to seek it out it. It finds me and sinks into my brain regardless. It’s weird. I’ve noticed that since I started weaning myself off of social media.

I’m still on there. I still look. But, at least for now, I don’t do it for the first hour of my day. That’s something. We gotta start somewhere.

Breaking bad ones is a hard job for me. It’s easier, I find, when we replace them with something good. But for many years — most of my life actually — I had no good ones. None. I’d try to eat healthy from time to time, but I wasn’t consistent. I’d try to do something creative or just something new, but I wasn’t consistent. So, it’s no surprise, most of those things didn’t stick.

Like I said, I always looked at habit, even the good ones, in a negative light. To me, a good habit — exercising, eating right, general self-care things — was too restrictive. It took time away from other things. It limited my freedom. I wanted to live instead of working out.

Lately, though, I’ve asked myself what are you doing with that freedom? Am I traveling more? Am I happier because of it? Am I enjoying things that I love?

No, I just had more time to sit on my ass. And that’s what I did. Sat on my ass. Plus, I felt worse about myself because I wasn’t eating right and I gained weight.

I started some time back incorporating yoga and exercise into my life daily. I also planned out my meals more and chose healthier foods to eat. I worked at these things until they became second nature. I don’t even really think about them … unless I’m creating a schedule. When I do that, those are the first things that I slot into the day. Those things must happen now. Trust me, that was never the case before.

I was recently thinking about the “best time of my life.” The time I was happiest and felt the best about myself. It was in my late 20s. Not because I was in my 20s, but how I lived my life. It was second nature to me then to have habits. To schedule. To plan things out.

I hate the idea of planning. It destroys all spontaneity. That’s the way I’ve always viewed it — even in my 20s. What I have gradually been learning though is that habits and planning help me. I’m happier. More productive. And believe it or not, freer and more focused on the things I love.

During my happiest days, I was a magazine writer/editor. Constant deadlines, how could that possibly be good? Those deadlines focused my efforts. I also felt like I was overall working for myself. Other than the pay, benefits and a little direction here and there, I was working for myself. I was assigned stories at the beginning of an issue and then I was let loose to get the work done. I had to be disciplined.

I didn’t think it was disciplined then. I was just doing my job the only way I knew how. I remember to this day. I would have four weeks. Each day was planned out. The first week was for interviews and research. I booked the interviews conducted interviews, did online research, and so on. The second week was transcribing tapes and beginning the stories. The third week was finishing up the stories (a draft anyway) and doing any follow up research I needed to do. I finished the stories and sent them to be reviewed. Made the last edits and sent them to design. Then it was production week. I had one or two down days during production week, but I often was getting started on the next issue.

But I had habits in place. A plan. A schedule. A pattern. A routine. All of those dirty words. I was happy. Not only was I happy, but during that time I would spend my lunch breaks writing a novel. A novel I never finished, but I worked on something that meant something to me. And I was able to go home and enjoy my evenings without any stress or worry.

My happiest time was my most habitual time. I just didn’t realize it was habits that caused the happiness. I’m starting to realize that again.

I’m doing more in the first three hours of my day — all for myself, too — than I have been doing in entire weeks in previous years. I’m trying to get in the habit of writing every day. Thus this blog. I’m exercising, eating right, meditating. I’m learning piano and reading every day. I’m looking for jobs every day. I’m studying to get my pilates certificate (or starting that process anyway). And I still have most of my evenings free.

I had to change my mind about habits. They don’t take away your freedom, they actually help you focus on it. That’s why successful writers have a schedule every day. That’s why they live the life we all want … or some of us anyway.

We have to stop looking at habits as a dirty word. I’m the worst at it, so I get it. But habits, planning, scheduling help you make time for what matters most to you. More importantly, it puts the focus back on you and how you spend your time.

Now, you may ask, how does this help make the world a better place? That is the purpose of this blog. Well, if you think about it, everything can be a habit. Just like everything is a choice. We choose to be happy or not. We choose to change or not. We choose to get pissed off while driving in traffic, or we don’t.

Once we choose, though, then habit is what sets it in stone. Without habit, it’s another item on the checklist. Habit makes it a life choice, not a to-do item. And that slight change in perspective can change everything.

We don’t add getting up and going to work to our daily checklist. We just do it. So why not make the things we need or want — like exercise, or eating right, or learning piano — a habit, too.

If we make it a habit to focus on ourselves. To take care of ourselves and be the best person that we can be. It’s less of a struggle. It becomes second nature. You don’t even think about it anymore. It’s just there. It’s like breathing.

If we all develop the habit of being good to ourselves, then we start to look outside ourselves and focus on spreading that love to others. That becomes a habit. A habit of bringing joy to the world. If the whole world then starts to develop the same habits, well, there you go. You just made the world a better place simply by forming good habits for yourself. Ponder on that for a little while.

Peace, y’all.

A New Life & A New World

Support the cause of building a better world one person at a time

Today, I made a decision to change my life. This blog. The yoga and meditation I have been doing. Everything over the past year is leading me in a new direction. I’ve been saying this for a while. Today, I’m pulling the trigger.

This week I decided to add pilates to my self-care regimen. In fact, I have signed up for teacher certification, which I will begin next week and work on through November. After that, I will likely seek yoga certification as well. At a later time, I plan to expand on this. Perhaps offering meetup classes or travel retreats.

In the meantime, however, mama needs to pay the bills. I will begin offering advice through life coaching, health coaching or any other personal coaching that you may need. You can visit my Donate page to learn more. Or, if you would simply like to donate to the cause of creating a better world one person at a time, donations are welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Also, in case you are not aware, I am a marketing and communications professional. Instead of throwing away my entire career, I have decided to offer freelance marketing and communications services and consultations. I am particularly interested in working with the arts (music/musicians/bands, visual artists, dancers, writers, etc.), but I am open to working with all walks of life. If you know anyone needing marketing or communication services, please direct them to my alter ego page.

Here’s to a new life and a new world. Peace, y’all.

A Slow Unveiling

Uncovering the layers of your personality to find the light within

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Who am I? No, I mean, who am I really? Do you ever ask yourself these questions?

I look at myself and break myself apart all of the time. Uncover all my little — and sometimes not so little — idiosyncrasies. I’ve always been that way. With everything. I popped the arms, legs and heads off Barbies to see how they were put together. Took radios apart to see what was inside.

I do the same thing with personalities. Myself included. Myself most of all, actually. For me, it is a form of self-love and self-care. To know yourself. All of it. The dark, the light and that ever expansive twilight.

In fact, sometimes you can’t get to the real light without going through the dark. I’ve sort of been going through that this past year with this blog. Or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself it is. Going through the dark to find the light. I’m not claiming insanity just yet.

That’s why this blog is funny to me in some ways. It is so serious. If you met me in person, I’m fairly ridiculous. I crack jokes. They are always a little askew. Dry. Quirky. Fairly sarcastic. I sound a little more like Charles Bukowski in person. Cursing and all.

This blog, though … why so serious? That’s one of my idiosyncrasies. I joke when I talk. It’s how I relate to people. I’m serious when I write. I write to dig down. At least when I write like this … not so much in emails. It’s too bad for you guys. I’m actually pretty funny if I say so myself.

Another idiosyncrasy, I have to go through all of this thinking — the stuff you just read — to figure out what it is I want to say. I wish my mind worked in a straight line, but God help us all, it doesn’t.

I joke to relate to people. I’m one person when you speak to me and another when you read my writing. It’s true. It’s not that I’m being fake. I have to find ways to relate to people. Not that I dislike people. No, I love people. But I’m kind of intense and extremely shy.

It’s all me, just different facets. I learned to bring the relatable facets to the surface when I’m talking, and the non-relatable parts talk to the Universe in my journal. Now, you get to see some of the unrelatable parts here, too. Hopefully, though, someone out there can relate.

In a previous post, I wrote about finding the beauty and the light again. Helping others to do the same. And that, my friends, is what this post is really about. It’s a slow unveiling.

I talked about the phrase “light and love” in that post. How folks who use that phrase are ahead of me in the spiritual journey. It’s true.

There is a vulnerability in saying, “Light and Love” to someone. I share my light with you. I give my love to you. It’s usually said to strangers. It’s unconditional in that sense.

To say it and to really mean it, unconditionally, you shed your armor. You strip down all of those layers of protection. If you say it, you know there’s a good chance someone is going to look at you kind of funny. They may appreciate it, but it may change their perception of you. They may take you a little less seriously.

See, that’s one of my idiosyncrasies, too. I want to be taken seriously … at least intellectually. And softness isn’t considered a part of the intellectual world in many ways.

In fact, very little in this world embraces softness. As I dug down through my layers to get to the point of my post, I discovered something else. I call myself a fighter. I stand up for myself. You have to defend yourself in the corporate world. It’s a dog eat dog kind of place.

So, I lost my softness somewhere between childhood and now.

I put up shields because people hurt me — even if some of it is my own doing. Because people will take advantage of me. Because I am naive and gullible. Has anyone else ever been told that?

When you’re a shy, little thing. One who likes imaginary worlds. Who daydreams about forests filled with fairies and fireflies. Well, this world doesn’t take too kindly to that type of person.

So we build layers. The funny me. The smart me. The serious me. The tough me. The me who doesn’t need anyone or anything.

That last me, the one who doesn’t need anyone, is kind of lie. But that’s what layers do if you build up enough of them. They disconnect us. Or they can. Disconnect us from ourselves and from each other. The real you doesn’t see the light of day. It’s buried behind the wall.

We are all born into this world loving and embracing everything around us. It’s as we grow up and get hurt, get rejected, see our softness as weakness, a vulnerability, that we build up these layers. That chokes off the words, “I give you my love. I share my light with you.”

So this has been a year of unveiling for me. Of stripping off those layers. Letting go of the embarrassment of who I am. Letting go of the shame for things I have done. Some of them anyway. Some of them, I’m still working on.

It’s a slow unveiling. An uncovering of the softness. Inside there is still a soft light of love and kindness. The way I was brought into this world. The way I lived until I learned not to live that way.

I have to admit that it’s hard for me. It’s embarrassing. To show that side of me. To talk about how I care about human beings and nature. How I cry when I think about the oneness of humanity and the universe as a whole. When I think about how we could be. To say that I love you, whoever you are, just because you exist. Because we exist together and we need to love one another.

It was hard for me to realize that I will give myself away to help someone else. That sometimes I value others more than I value myself. It’s unhealthy, but I’m working on that part. It’s part of my unveiling, but it’s me. That’s who I am at the core. This soft, squishy thing. But I’m trying to embrace it again. The healthy parts. For me and for the world. As ridiculous as that may sound, it’s true.

We all still have that within us. The softness. We just have to strip off the layers. Yoga, meditation, gratitude journals, self-love, self-care. Those things can help you get there.

I invite you to take a look at yourself. Start to peel off your layers. Ask yourself, “Who am I?” And when you answer, say to yourself, “No, I mean, who am I really?”

If you want to love yourself, know yourself. Accept yourself for who you are. But find that softness in the center. The love you were born with. Uncover it. Don’t be afraid of what others will think. Or how you’ll be perceived. Don’t fear being hurt. Just join me in the unveiling. It may be hard, but the world could use a little light and love about now.

Peace, y’all.

Finding the Light

Change your thinking and enjoy what’s in front of you

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Last night I promised myself that I was going to find the beauty again. That’s my way of saying I’m going to look on the brighter side of things. Change my life for the better.

The news of Mr. Bourdain’s suicide hit me unusually hard. I was a fan but I wasn’t someone who followed him closely. Didn’t see every show. Or read every book. But I enjoyed his enthusiasm for life and adventure. I think we all did. I think that’s why the news has affected so many people … not just me.

I decided last night it was time to change. I’ve been changing, but I kept falling into the same patterns. A trap of some kind. I was using the wrong words. Focusing on the wrong things.

British therapist Marisa Peer talks about this. The words and pictures we use. If you talk about your drive is killing you … it’s torture. Well, then your drive is going to kill you. It’s going to be torture.

This blog started from another blog I was writing. The other blog was a political one. The way I was seeing the world — the words I was using, the pictures I was seeing — weren’t what I wanted the world to be. But by using those words and saying them, seeing those pictures, that was the world around me.

I was using the words hate and ugly a lot. That was the picture I was feeding my brain. Then I moved to this blog, but I keep talking about struggles and sinking. It happens. But, like everything, we have a choice. I talk about it on here all the time. We have a choice. What words am I using? What pictures am I seeing?

Yes, there is hate in this world. But there is also love. And there is light. And there is beauty. So much more beauty than ugliness. So much more.

There is beauty in the sun that slips between the slats of your blinds and filters across your bedroom wall. There is beauty in the wind that blows your hair across your face. There is beauty in the wispy tufts of the Mimosa tree blossom. There is beauty in a long morning stretch. Or the taste of your breakfast smoothie. There is beauty in typing these words. The feel of the keys against my fingers.

I had sat down to write a gratitude entry in my journal last night. That’s when I told myself I was going to find the beauty again. I had planned on doing creative visualization afterward. To “create” my future. Instead, I dropped the visualization. Visualization is looking toward the future. And when you look toward the future, you miss what is around you in the moment you are living.

My exact words were: “I was going to write about how I wanted my future to look, but I think I will stay in this place tonight. Here, where I am now. Breathing and living and experiencing this beautiful world just as it is at this moment.”

We spend so much of our lives and our time wishing for something else. Wishing for something more. And there is nothing wrong with that, per se. It’s good to set goals and such. But when that’s all we focus on, we miss out on what is in front of us. The here and now. And that can be a pretty awesome place, too, if we just let it.

One of my goals with this blog is to get people to a better place internally so that it will radiate from them. Affect everyone around them externally. I believe that is true. I still believe we make change one person at a time. I believe there is beauty all around us if we only see it.

Light and love. There are those folks who use this phrase all the time. A lot of us think it’s sweet, maybe a little flaky, but we don’t take them terribly seriously. This blog isn’t for the light and love folks. Why? Because they are already there. They already use the right words and see the good pictures. They are welcome to read it, of course, but they are already far ahead of me.

This blog is for those people, like me, who think a little too much. Whose brain won’t let them be as innocent as a child. Oh, I have my moments when I think like a child and I hope to have more, but I’m one of those thinking people, too. Today, I’m changing that, though. I hope I can help others change as well.

I’m not saying we all hold hands and sing songs around a campfire … although it doesn’t sound that bad really. I just want people to see the beauty with me. To see the beauty around them. Acknowledge the good in the world. The light. The love.

I realize that I”m writing this on a computer. And you are probably reading it on a phone or a tablet. But once we finish, put the phone down. The tablet down. Look around you. Experience this world. Wherever you are. There is something beautiful happening or standing right where you are.

I was meditating this morning. I use an app called Calm. I listened to a track called Suspended Droplets. While I meditated the idea for this blog came to me. It came to me because I decided last night and this morning to try to find the light again.

I made my own mantra this morning. That mantra is, “I am love. I give love. I receive love.”

My whole meditation changed. Every note and sound of that song filled my cells. I could feel and see the sun coming through my window although my eyes were closed. There was an energy that reverberated through me. I felt the energy of the world. The love that is all around us in every cell of my body. It felt like the Universe was hugging me.

And the birds outside sang a little louder. My mind was calmer. My life felt whole and complete — despite my current situation.

I’m not looking to move the world to a point where we all say, “Light and Love.” Although, it is a nice greeting when you think about it. I just want to move us to a better place. A place away from where Mr. Bourdain found himself. Where Kate Spade found herself. Where so many find themselves. That is all I’m hoping to achieve.

Peace, and find the light, y’all.

The Darkness Behind My Eyes

Allowing your darkness to open your eyes to the now

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Today, the darkness behind my eyes was too much. I struggled with my meditation. The darkness felt like a void. A dark cave I couldn’t escape.

I know there are some out there who want my posts to be sunshine and rainbows all the time. Or to be more profound. This isn’t going to be the blog post for you. Or it will at least require you to read to the end.

Today’s meditation was about wanting clarity on where I should go in life. You’ve heard me talk about this here quite a bit. I start down a path. Feel certain. Then I don’t.

The last few days there has been no path. I’m standing somewhere that looks like nowhere circling around looking for a trail, a street, a sidewalk, a road. Anything that resembles a direction I can follow. But nothing is there.

Today, there was only that black canvas draped around me. My closed eyes seeking for something I couldn’t find. Lost.

Now that I’m writing it, that I’ve stepped away from that moment, I see that I can take that black canvas and project whatever I want on it. Picture the world just as I want it. But during my meditation, it felt suffocating. Too dark to handle.

My eyes flitted back and forth behind my lids. I tried mantras. Focused on my breathing, but none of those little tricks worked today.

I played the same thoughts over in my head. Things that have been said. That I hold onto this feeling, this feeling of being lost and not knowing where to go because it makes me feel special.

But I don’t feel special. Not remotely. Today, especially in that dark cave behind my eyes, I felt pointless. The opposite of special. There was nowhere for me to go. Nothing to do. I had no purpose. No calling. No reason for existing.

Is that depression? Maybe. Dark night of the soul? I don’t know. Do those things exist? An existential crisis is the logical explanation. But special it is not.

It was overwhelming. My mind raced. My breathing shallow. All I could feel and see was the blackness. The emptiness. Spinning ’round, looking for a path that wasn’t there.

The strange thing is that I did a yoga practice this morning that I felt good about. It wasn’t challenging in the strength sense. The challenge was more about slowing down. The pace was even slower than a normal yoga routine. It really focused on the aspects of your life and practice that have become mechanical. Being aware of the mind-body-breath union.

I was in a good mindset going into my meditation. Then the darkness arrived. So, here is a little trick I have found. I’ve only done this a few times. Perhaps it works for me because I have the ability to stare out a window for hours and literally not have a thought in my head.

If your meditation becomes too much. Too dark. The thoughts gain momentum rather than becoming clouds that drift by. Open your eyes.

For me, this works. Become present. Continue the meditation, but open the eyes. Instead of focusing on a mantra or the breathing inside the dark room, focus on the world in front of you. I sit by windows or french doors to meditate. I like to feel the sunlight. Or at least sense it if I’m not sitting directly in front of it.

Sometimes I focus better in the light than in the dark. It’s a simple adjustment. Focus your eyes on something and be knowledgeable of it and your place in the world.

I wasn’t in a dark room of despair. I was in my living room seeing the magnolia tree in my front yard. The shades of dark green mixed with a few golden leaves that will fall soon. The wind gently swaying the limbs back and forth. Seeing how the sun reflects off the glossy side of the leaves.

That is where I am. That is where I’m supposed to be.

I think the yoga practice actually opened something up to me. That is why the darkness was simply too dark for me today. In slowing myself down. Living and experiencing the movements and the breath rather than just performing them, I realized that I rush myself. That I think I’m being present but I’m going through the motions.

The darkness behind my eyes was simply me trying to rush toward a future I don’t know. Instead of embracing the not knowing, it overwhelmed me. Opening my eyes allowed me to refocus on the now. Where I needed to be. To see that majestic magnolia tree in my front yard. To experience the world in front of me at this moment in time.

Answers will come when they are ready. Make a decision to open your eyes and live in the now. See what is in front of you. Feel what is present now. Act on what you know now. The future will change. You will change. That darkness will always be there and it will always overwhelm you if you don’t recognize the present.

Peace, y’all.