Stop the Soul Ripping

Using structure and direction to give yourself inner peace

So, I want to apologize for my breakdown in my last post. I don’t know what happened. I honestly don’t. I was good and happy and then I wasn’t.

Well, I have an idea of what happened. Do you ever see someone’s life and they are happy and pursuing their dreams and you ask yourself why can’t I figure my life out? That’s what happened in my last post.

Although I’m happy when I see others with their lives figured out, I kind of fall apart because I don’t have my life figured out.

The chasm I talked about in my previous post — between who I am and who I want to be — is created by my personality type. I am not 100 percent certain, but I believe I fall into the INFJ category. That means I use logic and intuition in equal parts — analytical and creative at the same time. That means I use both sides of my brain, usually at the same time.

In some ways that sounds wonderfully balanced. Some ways it is wonderfully balanced. In other ways, it’s a tug of war. When it comes to life decisions about following your heart or your head, it’s not so pretty. The logical side tries to analyze and justify everything, even less traditional, less logical options. Rationalizing matters of the heart doesn’t always work very well, unfortunately.

When both sides of the brain are pulling your heart in different directions, sometimes the whole self just splits down the middle. That’s what I just experienced. My need to do something more creative pulled against my need to be responsible and pay my bills to the point that I split.

So I gave myself a break for a day. A break from thinking about my situation and where I’m going to go. I went to bed early. A good, long sleep can help quite a bit. It always seems to help me.

I woke up this morning in a better place. I’ve devised a plan for myself. I’m not going to talk about it here. I’m kind of superstitious and I worry that I’ll jinx something if I state it out loud. This plan, however, does allow both sides of my brain to feel happy.

I know some folks in this world (in my life) won’t necessarily like this approach. They want to see me make a full jump into one area or another. But this is not their life. I have to do things my way. I have to feel comfortable. I’m moving in a different and better direction for myself, but it’s my process. I have to do it my way … even if it’s slower and it takes me longer to get there.

I also don’t expect it will be my final destination, but it is the next step. That’s what I’ve been struggling with. I’ve been making my next step my final destination in my head. Thus, the extreme tug of war with both sides of my brain.

I will say that my plan includes a creative option and a practical option that I will pursue simultaneously without overwhelming myself. I’ve been doing that anyway, but I’m formalizing it now.  In fact, I’m going to write it down and set up a schedule to make it happen. I’m going to put time on my calendar each day to remind myself of these goals and to set mini-goals for each day. That’s the J part of the INFJ personality. I need structure and I’m trying to also improve my self-discipline.

I will have to put a few other things I’ve been working on to the side for a short while or at least limit my activity with them. That’s why I’m writing this post. I’m not closing down my blog, but I am going to spend less time on it while I focus on these other activities.

I still believe in the purpose of this blog. And in some ways, I am working toward that same goal in my new plan, but I have to focus. I’m spread too thin right now. I’m forcing myself to have more direction. Eventually, I will at least try or possibly incorporate all the things I want to do with my life. I just can’t do them all at one time.

I have to stop ripping my soul apart and move in a direction. And I have to do it in a way that gives me some peace while I move through the process. That’s my plan, so until I post again … peace, y’all.

Tornado Phases

A shout out to anyone dealing with life changes

For a while, I had recurring dreams about tornadoes. Usually, there were herds of tornadoes coming toward me. Is there a group term for tornadoes? I like herd. It felt like a stampede in the dreams.

These went on for about 6 months or a year. Not every night, but consistent. In one dream, an unearthly sized tornado picked up my childhood home. My entire family was inside, including me. At first, there was a lot of rocking back and forth, and then suddenly, everything was still and quiet.

We were all sort of floating within the space of the house. It had a feeling of weightlessness. Similar to being in space, I assume. It was strangely peaceful although I was thinking we were probably all going to die. It was silent. No one spoke. We just looked at one another as if in some way to say goodbye. Strange feeling. I still recall it although it’s been a few years ago since I had the dreams.

At the end of the dream, my dad disappeared from inside the house. I don’t know what happened or where he went, but I looked around he was gone. The rest of us were still there in the house in the eye of the storm.

That’s all I remember about that particular tornado dream. It stuck with me, though. I suppose because a year or two later (I can’t recall exactly when I had these dreams), my dad passed away.

I probably wouldn’t have thought there was any tie to my dad’s passing and the dream had I not had another set of recurring dreams just before cat passed away, which happened just a few months before my dad’s passing. The year leading up to my cat’s death, I had recurring dreams that he kept getting under the house (a house, not always mine) and getting lost. He always found a litter of kittens in every dream, but one. The last dream, he didn’t run away or get lost. He spoke to me in that dream. He was unfriendly in that dream, like he didn’t feel well or was upset with me. At the end, he told me I cared only about him until Charlie came along.

I didn’t know who Charlie was even in the dream. Charlie didn’t exist in my life in that dream. Charlie was someone I was going to meet later. In fact, I was going to the back of this extremely ‘70s beach house to meet Charlie. I woke up as I walked into the room where Charlie was supposed to be … somewhere in the future room.

My cat passed away soon after that. So, recurring dreams are not usually good signs for me. I’m not saying I predict the death of loved ones, it’s just maybe some trigger in my brain knew that day was coming someday.

I digress talking about my dreams, though. The point of bringing up the tornado dream with my dad was that feeling when the house was lifted into the tornado and we were just floating. Anticipating the future, not knowing what’s going to happen. How bad it’s going to be or if we’re all just really lucky? Except for my dad, who disappeared.

That feeling is the feeling I’m having with my life right now. It’s not a bad feeling, but uncertain. Trying to remain calm in the uncertainty.

The beauty of being laid off from my job is that it has given me the opportunity to reflect on life more than I do when I’m working. I know I want to make changes in my life. I am working toward those, but I’m not sure if any of them are right. It’s not bad or good, just uncertain.

The other uncertainty is how much change can I make at once? Can I go all out and change my entire life? Or do I find a bit more stability in a job that fits my experience and training and then make small changes. I have tried that a few times in the past with not a lot of success. That’s why I feel pressure, within myself, to make bigger changes while I have the opportunity.

Income is such a pain in the ass, isn’t it? If it wasn’t for needing to pay the bills, all of these decisions would be so much easier. I have no fear of trying something new or going down a different path. I fear not being able to make ends meet. That wouldn’t be a fear if I could find part-time work. It’s not happening, though.

Is it failure if you can’t make all the changes you want to make at one time? Does it matter if it’s failure? Failure isn’t a bad thing.

I’ve never failed. At anything. Ever. I mean, I’m a terrible public speaker. Anything I set out to do, I did. And, if I say so myself, I did it pretty well most of the time. I’ve always received good reviews. Positive feedback.

Until this last job. I received good reviews. Raises. After my third boss in three years, though, I was told I couldn’t write. That was my job. It’s been my job my entire career. Then I was laid off with several other people, but the rub of it was still there.

it shattered my entire being. Normally, in the past, I would have taken that in stride and kept going. But, I had already been looking for a change in my life. I wasn’t happy with my work. I knew I needed to change. I don’t know. I tripped.

It’s funny when I think about it. Never really failing. Never getting laid off. It’s not from staying in the safe zone. I’ve changed careers. I’ve changed jobs (fairly frequently the last few years). I changed majors six times in college. I’ve tried so many new things. Gone to countries where I didn’t speak the language and still had a good time.

But I never failed. Then I did. Now I know I want to make changes, but I can’t quite figure out what the changes should be. How far out there should I go? Do I take a small step and try to be a creative writer and get a part-time job? Do I go all out and change everything? Go back to school or learn a new skill? But then how do I pay the bills?

The eye of the tornado. It’s not the same feeling as the spiral of the spiritual journey. Well, it is, I suppose but at 180 miles an hour instead of a slow pace.

Dealing with your first failure while trying to change your life is a bit of a challenge? You have to overcome the insecurities that being laid off gives you while convincing yourself you can do anything you want. Plus, it doesn’t hurt when you don’t know what exactly it is you want. I go from being a life coach/health coach/nutritionist to therapist, to musician, novelist, poet, herbalist, pilates/yoga instructor and more. The other day I tried to determine if there was anything close to being a professional student? I haven’t identified such a career yet.

Each day passes without income and I can’t determine how to move forward. I realize I need to just devise a plan and stick with it. As soon as I do, though, I’m not sure if it is the right way to go and I change gears. Eventually, I will run out of time, unemployment benefits.

At the same time, I see all the opportunities available to me. I can go in any direction I want. That gives me joy. That peace I felt in the dream. The calm in the center of the tornado.

Given, I spent the first three months of my unemployment incessantly looking for new jobs instead of moving in a new direction. Well, besides the pilates certification. I wasted some time, but that’s what you do when you’re laid off. Looking for a job is your full-time job, or so they tell you.

How do you take risks? Big risks? I take small ones. Calculated ones. Big risks scare me. Is it even that big of a risk to go down a different path? Not really. Not if you can find income. Maybe I do Uber or Lyft for a while. Make a little money try to do something else.

I don’t know. I would love to hear if others have thoughts on this? If anyone else has gone through this and what did they do? Did you change or stay on your regular path?

What is the point of this post? To learn from others. It’s for me. It’s selfish in that sense. And to let others know it’s OK to question your life. To question if you’re heading in the right direction or if you should jump on a different path. And, since I know some many folks who have recently been laid off, you’re not alone. We all deal with these same questions and being laid off does suck in some ways and is very good in other ways.

I read a book a while back called Guitarlo by Arlo Hennings. It is an entire book of going through these tornado phases. He always followed his heart, though, and the doors always opened. It’s rather inspiring story if you ask me.

My problem is finding what’s in my heart. I can’t seem to nail that down. Again, if others have suggestions on how to identify what’s in your heart, finding who you really are and why you are here, I’d love to hear about it. Or do you just do what you love and not care about purpose so much? That has always been a stumbling block for me.

And if you don’t comment here, that’s fine. But if you know someone going through this process. Whether they are laid off or not, but especially if they are laid off, reach out to them. Let them know what you think they are good at, what their good qualities are. That’s what I’ve been seeking without an answer. That’s the difficult part for me. I know it’s supposed to all come from within, but hearing something from without helps. It just does. It confirms something you already knew or it opens up a line of thinking you had never considered before.

If you do that, it may help them to make that decision. To make the big leap … or take the small leap. Either way, it’s good. It’s helpful. Either way, their house gets placed gently back down on the ground when the tornado passes.

Peace, y’all.

Saying Uncle

Learning that self-care doesn’t make you superhuman

Did you ever play the game Uncle when you were a kid? The game where you interlace fingers with another kid and then proceed to try to break each other’s hands. You bend the fingers and squeeze them, twist them as much as you can until someone screams, “Uncle!”

It’s a torturous game really, but it’s so much fun when you win. Sometimes I’m a little competitive. I like to win.

Life, sometimes, is a little like that game. It wraps around you, squeezes you, twists you until it almost physically hurts. For me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one out there, saying uncle isn’t an option.

That, I believe, is a fallacy of yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Or perhaps I misinterpret it through my skewed lens on life. I’m a bit of perfectionist in one sense. I am actually just learning this about myself.

I’m a perfectionist in that I don’t believe I can show weakness. That I have to be strong at all times. That I can get through anything on my own. Without help.

That’s how I view the philosophy of yoga and meditation. It helps you overcome these weaknesses. You don’t get upset. You can face any challenge. You can breathe your way through anything.

But that doesn’t allow us to be human. I am fully human when I allow myself to be.

When I played Uncle as a kid, though, I refused to say it. I refused to give in. To claim defeat. I would squirm and twist and somehow slip my hand out of the grip. Technically, I think the other person won in that case, but I wasn’t going to own it. Allow it in any way. If I didn’t say it, they didn’t win.

Some of that is competitiveness. Some of that is stubbornness. I have a little of both in my blood. But some of it, I’m starting to realize in the middle of my life, may come from trauma. I mentioned a while back that I had been told I was traumatized in childhood. This trauma subconsciously impacts everything I do.

My dad had a temper. I couldn’t make too many “mistakes.” By mistakes, I mean, I couldn’t drop things or spill things or accidentally break things. I couldn’t be too loud. I couldn’t be annoying. If I did, I was yelled at. Not a little yell either. If I argued with my dad, he called me stupid. Once he hit me in the eye.

We all go through stuff, I won’t go into my life story. I loved my dad, but he wasn’t perfect. Of course, neither was I. That way of life, though, formed how I view the world and how I behave. I’m a fighter because I had to stand up for myself. I had to believe in myself when my father didn’t. I actually think he did believe in me, but his flaws didn’t always allow that to come through.

Being the baby and 5 years younger than my brother, who was closest in age, I didn’t get a lot of attention. People were busy. I spent my summer’s alone. No form of communication. We didn’t have a phone and I lived in the middle of nowhere. Both parents worked.

So I was home alone from about the age of 9 on in the afternoons and all day during the summers. My school bus driver bought me a birthday cake once. It had green and yellow flowers on base of white icing. No one had ever bought me a cake. I used to sit by him and talk instead of talking to other kids a lot.

I never understood why he bought me that cake until now. I think he bought it for me because I always got off the bus alone and there wasn’t anyone at home. Even my principal drove me home from school when I was sick. My parents didn’t come pick me up.

So I was alone a lot. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. I entertained myself. I fed myself. I took care of myself. I did chores. I learned to be independent and strong. I could do everything on my own. That’s is a good thing. That is positive. And I enjoyed my alone time, so from that perspective, it worked out.

But it also taught me I couldn’t depend on anyone. I had no one around to depend on. It taught me I had to take care of everything myself at all costs. My survival depended on it. My dad’s anger taught me I couldn’t mess up. Be too emotional. Be a kid so to speak.

I am a soft, squishy thing on the inside. Sensitive. Emotional. Kind of a bad combination with the parenting style I grew up with.

So that skews my view of yoga and meditation. Yoga and meditation are a way to help me control those emotions that flare up in me. Helps me work through anything life throws at me. Helps me be perfect on my own.

But I’m not perfect. I’m not superhuman. I think yoga and meditation help me, but they also trick my mind. I forget I’m human sometimes. When I finally lose it, I lose in an explosion of emotion.

Refusing to say uncle. The first time I realized I did this was when my dad was dying of cancer in 2016. My employer let me work from home while I helped take care of my dad. I went home to stay with my parents for a few months.

My dad declined pretty quickly. It started in June and he passed away in September. I was there for the last couple of months. It was tough seeing him in that shape.

He was always outgoing. Talkative. Walked 10 miles a day. A natural salesperson. Made connections easily. Generally a healthy guy, too. No medications or anything.

While he was sick, he couldn’t leave his bed. He couldn’t walk. He had cancer in his bones, mostly around the hips and legs, but it spread throughout. It hurt. He lost weight. By the end, you could see where all the bones connected in his skull. His eyes and cheeks sunken. He was sad. Didn’t talk much. Not at all like himself.

Mostly he was scared. That’s what hurt me the most. He was so scared. My dad hated thunderstorms. He literally acted like a child when one came through. He would curl up and cry.

His dad had left him alone on a hill in the middle of a thunderstorm. He screamed for him to come get him. Cried and cried, he said. He told me that story once. I always remember it.

So seeing him scared made me think of that story. How he seemed like a little kid. I don’t have children but I do have a mothering instinct. So I didn’t want him to be scared. I did everything I could.

My mom couldn’t quite handle the situation. They’d been married for 50-plus years. I can understand why it was hard. My sister as her own challenges, but I’m learning that my entire family does. Myself included. My brother just can’t deal with death.

So that left me. I needed to be the strong one. The dependable one. The one to administer his morphine every 2 hours. My mom helped. I don’t want to say I did everything. But toward, the end, the harder and harder it got, the stronger and stronger I had to be.

One day, I had not really slept for a week. I had not left the house in days. I didn’t go outside because I didn’t want to leave him alone in case he needed anything. I had to watch him too. Sometimes he would try to get out of bed. It’s a form of restlessness that the dying experience.

That day, I decided I was going to go to my home and sleep in my bed for one night and come back the next day. That was the weekend before he died. I didn’t get to sleep at home, but I did leave for a while.

A cousin of mine came to see my dad as I was leaving. He hugged my mother and talked to her for a few minutes and then hugged me as I was walking toward my car. I hadn’t seen him in years. When he hugged me he asked how I was doing.

No one had asked me that. I collapsed. My legs went limp. He had to hold me up. I sobbed like I have never sobbed before. It just came out. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t even know it was in there.

I immediately reeled it back in. Straightened myself up. Wiped my tears, but they wouldn’t stop flowing. He looked at me and said, “It’s alright. It’s OK to cry.”

That’s when I realized that no matter how hard I tried to be superhuman, I wasn’t. No matter how much I thought I could handle. How strong I needed to be. That soft squishy thing that lives inside me needed someone to ask how I was doing.

I stopped crying. I told him it was just difficult seeing my dad that way. Then I left. Perfectly strong as always. But on the inside, I was crumbling.

I’m going through something similar now. This change in my life. Being let go from my job for the first time in my life. Having bills to pay but wanting to change my life at the same time. Struggling to figure things out.

Yet again, I’m trying to face it head-on. I can handle this. I’m changing my life as I said yesterday. But the truth is, I’m scared to death. I have doubts, I’m afraid I’m screwing up. That I’m making all the wrong decisions. I know I want a change, but is this the right time? Am I going about it the right way? Am I going to lose everything?

I’m scared. I’m confused. I don’t know if there is such a thing as the “Dark Night of the Soul.” You read about in certain lines of thought. If there is, I’m going through it. Have been for a year and a half. If not, then I’m just in the middle of a crisis. Doesn’t matter what it’s called I suppose.

I’m single. My friends have their own challenges. My family doesn’t quite understand it. I have no one to talk to about it. I’m not alone, but I feel alone in this.

And that’s part of the fallacy. Yoga and meditation, as great as they are, tell you that you must go through this journey alone. From my perspective, that means, I can’t ask questions. Ask for support. Ask for guidance. The answer is in me.

Well, maybe the answer is in me, but I’m struggling to find it. I’m lost. Blindfolded in the dark just feeling my way around. Trying to find my way out. There are good moments and good things about the process. But there are some really bad ones too. I’m finally admitting it.

I’m finally admitting that I’m scared. That I kind of feel like my world is falling apart. And it’s OK. I’m human. I don’t have to be perfect.

So I’m adding my own rule to the self-care philosophy. Know when to say when. Know it’s OK to reach out to others. They can’t provide the answers for you, but they can support you. Make you feel less alone.

It’s OK to say uncle. So, I’m saying, “Uncle.” I ask that anyone who is reading this blog, if you don’t mind, pray for me if you pray. If you don’t pray, please send good vibes my way. I could use some support getting through this. It will be appreciated more than you will ever know. Because my perfectionistic ass has trouble showing weakness. But not gratitude. I am forever grateful for any kind thoughts someone sends my way.

And if there is anyone out there struggling with anything in life and you feel like you have to be strong. That you can’t be flawed and imperfect. That’s not the way you handle these situations with grace. Grace is knowing your limits. Knowing you’re human and allowing yourself to be human without waiting until you act out.

It’s OK to cry. And it’s OK to say, “Uncle.”

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.

A Change of Heart

Trying to keep the light on hope

OK, I know I bade farewell yesterday … at least for a little while. Today, however, I read the news that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide. Although always sad to hear this kind of news, there are certain individuals you just never expect would commit suicide. For me, Anthony Bourdain is one of those people.

ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN

Of course, I didn’t know him. But based on his life and his shows, I can’t wrap my brain around it. Someone who loves life, food, and adventure that much … it just feels wrong.

I could speculate, but I will refrain. All I will say is this: If this was done purposefully, he was obviously suffering. If it was accidental, in my opinion, he was also suffering.

I’m sure he exercised … maybe even did yoga and meditation. But I don’t want to continue seeing news about suicide — celebrity or not. In addition to Bourdain, Kate Spade and a relative of one my closest friends all committed suicide this past week.  That’s far too many suicides.

I mentioned in a previous post that I have a switch. Sometimes I drop to the lowest level of human existence emotionally. That switch — and thank God for that switch — always flips life back on for me. I am thankful for that switch. So thankful.

I don’t know where that switch is. How it gets flipped. I’m guessing it is something I do or think … even if it is subconscious. I opened this site back up for that reason. Whatever it is. Whatever turns that switch back on, I hope comes out here. Somewhere in these posts. Somewhere in my rambling words, I’m hoping there is a nugget that can help someone find that switch within them.

I hope you have found the peace you were seeking, Mr. Bourdrain.

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.

Expanding the Spiral

Going within to grow without

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That circular path. I keep coming ‘round to some of the same thought patterns. Expanding outward on the spiritual journey. Going within to grow without.

Why did I start this blog? To make the world a better place. I believe the only way to do that is by each individual making the choice to participate in that effort. That each of us, one by one, must make the choice to improve ourselves and the world around us.

Yoga and meditation, other forms of self-care, the deep ones, that’s how we get there. We try to be the best person we can be. These things help us go within. Work on ourselves. Be better people. From there, we become more loving, compassionate, empathetic. We see ourselves in others. We see the beauty in the world. And create more beauty in the world.

I believe we have an opportunity to expand upon what has been built and create a better world for ourselves. Expand upon religion as we know it. Reconnect with nature. Live more harmoniously.

This is how we will move forward as a species, as a planet. Expanding our perspective on the faiths of the world. Moving away from the divisions and finding greater love and peace within the commonalities. Seeing a connection between everything.

Today’s religions began during a different time in a much different world. They were developed as a way to civilize society. To provide guidance for living in and around other human beings as we moved away from nomadic lives to centralized living. They gave us something to aspire to … or to avoid (i.e, heaven and hell).

But we live in a much different world today. There aren’t a few large cities scattered across one or two continents. There are billions of people on this planet now. Living together. Connected to one another — whether they like it or not.

As our world changes, so must our means of living together harmoniously. I’m not saying demolish religion, necessarily. Expand upon it. Perhaps consider a universal religion. One based on the individual growth and responsibility. One based on finding compassion for others. Based on commonalities, not differences.

The Golden Rule. I wrote about it recently in a previous post. Most major religions have a similar take on the Golden Rule somewhere within their texts. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It’s so simple. Could a solution to many of today’s woes be that simple? Yes, I believe it can.

You may be wondering if I believe in a higher being. Yes, I do. I choose to believe that, but yes, I absolutely believe in a higher being.

However, I believe we are already part of that higher being. It is part of us. Each of us. We live and breath it every day. It connects all of us. It is not something we must die to rejoin. It is here and now. It is everything we know and see.

Unfortunately, the religions of the world now are serving to divide us. The religions have not evolved with the times. We are growing more and more divided because of the differences between this religion and that one.

Can you imagine for a moment if we changed perspectives? If we looked at the commonalities between religions? They all strive to get to a higher place. They all strive to become better people. Create a better world. Caring for one another. Treating one another as we want to be treated.

If we lived that every day, what would our lives be like? Wouldn’t that be more pleasant than the world as it is now? Wouldn’t we be more united than divided?

Is it so difficult to find the commonalities? To see one another as humans trying to aspire to be better humans? It’s not difficult at all.

We can reach a higher level than we have ever reached on earth before. We can live in greater harmony. Love one another more. Save the planet that supports us.

Heaven on earth? Utopia? Perhaps. More peaceful and loving? Absolutely.

But it all begins with me and you. Each individual making a choice to focus on the good parts of today’s religions. Focus on those things we all search for. And forget about the differences.

It requires us to be compassionate and empathetic. It requires us to be our best so that we contribute the best to everything around us. Then, let it spread like wildfire.

Of course there are other reasons behind the world’s problems. Fear. Greed. To name a couple. All of these things, these human frailties, can be improved through self-improvement. By going within. By choosing to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.

I have always compared our existence with Einstein’s theory: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”

If you have studied biology or geography, astronomy, physics. Everything in this world is constantly changing. People, trees, the air we breathe, the water we drink — everything is a chemical reaction or physical reaction that requires and generates energy. That energy creates changes or the energy itself changes. Our bodies grow, trees grow, things die, decay and regenerate from seed. It’s all energy. And that energy all interacts and reacts with the other energy around it.

That energy. That energy is the higher being. That energy that connects everything. That is God. Spirit. The Universe. Whatever you want to call it. It is us. It is every cell. Every subatomic particle. It is every human made up of those cells. Every community. Every country. Every planet. The stars. The moon. The galaxy and beyond.

Einstein saw it, I believe. The universe. Infinity. We cannot fully understand anything in this world because the world and everything in it are always changing. We can go so far but without stopping it, we cannot fully understand it. It is one step ahead of us. It always will be.

The mystery. He spoke of mystery. Things unsolved. He either saw it or chose to believe that there is something beyond that connects us all and that we will not understand it all. Of course, that is only my opinion.

Science and religion are connected for me. They are the yin and yang of our existence. Fact and faith. Science looks within ourselves, our cells, our galaxy, our earth to find the facts. We look within to find the faith, the mystery. Somewhere those two things cross paths. Where exactly, I do not know. But energy is the center of it.

We are made of energy. Energy creates us, and changes form when we die. And if we are all energy and we have the power to change the energy we send out through mindfulness and awareness, then we have the ability to change our world. To create the world we want.

Think about the energy you put out in the world. When you walk in a room and you’re gloomy or angry, it affects those around you. It’s a bad vibe. Bad energy. You can feel it. I can feel it. It changes the room. It changes the people.

That energy that connects us is the reason why we feel it. If we were totally separate, your mood would have no impact on my mood. My bad behavior would have no impact on you or the environment around me. But we all know that it does.

Happiness spreads from one person to another. Laughter spreads. Your spirit improves when you do something you enjoy. Those around you feel it.

Everything is connected. The spiral expands.

Step back and look at a bigger perspective. If there is an entire country of people arguing amongst themselves. Focusing on their differences rather than their commonalities. How does that impact that country? How does that impact countries around it?

When one human being looks at another human being and hates him or her for the color of their skin. Or for the fact that they are one gender or another. That they prefer to have sex with one gender or another. They believe in one God or another. How does that hate impact that other person? How does the other person’s reaction impact those around them and their family? The community that supports them?

Cancer works the same way. Bad cells multiply and spread. Affecting nearby cells and organs around them. It spreads. It devours.

Now flip the switch. What happens when you connect with others, show compassion? You change. Those who receive your compassion show gratitude. You smile. They smile. You are united in a common good. The world seems a little better. That’s because it is.

Everything is connected. The spiral expands.

Each human is like a cell in the greater being we call Earth. Earth is a cell in our galaxy. Our galaxy impacts a greater universe. That’s my philosophy.

Our connection with the planet, with nature, works the same way. If we mistreat it, it withers and dies. Or it fights back with storms and drought. Without nature, we don’t exist. We don’t breath. We don’t eat. We don’t have water. Mistreating the planet is mistreating ourselves.

By taking care of the planet, we take care of ourselves. Our air is cleaner. Our lungs are cleaner. Are food is healthier. We are healthier.

Everything is connected. The spiral expands.

Our journey, whether we want to believe it or not, is circling around. We are finding old patterns, old obstacles, old ways of thinking coming back up over and over again. We are stumbling. We are stopping. We are not expanding. It’s becoming a challenge that we are not overcoming. And the energy of the planet is changing.

We have the opportunity to grow. To be bigger. Grander. Happier. More peaceful. More harmonious. Beyond anything we have yet experienced.

But our ways of aspiring to greatness must evolve. Religions must expand. Our way of thinking and viewing each other and the world around us must focus on our connections now. There are too many of us. We live too close together. We are too connected to be disconnected.

Focus on the commonalities. We all want happiness. A comfortable peaceful home in a comfortable peaceful neighborhood. We want to enjoy food. Have good times. Have clean air to breathe. Food to eat. Water to drink. We want kindness and joy. Compassion when it is needed. Support. And most of all love.

We must connect to ourselves. Then connect to those around us. Connect to the world around us.

I’m not saying we won’t be human. We won’t stumble. We won’t suffer the human condition. Of course, we will. That is part of the experience. But isn’t part of the experience also to grow? To learn? To aspire to better the world and the lives of those around us?

It’s a simple solution. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Do yoga. Meditate. Go within. Find that peace for yourself. Find the love for yourself. Let it spread beyond. Connect to those around you. Find the commonalities. Find the connection. Spread good energy. Bring good vibes. Let the spiral expand.

Peace, y’all.

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.

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.