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, ya’ll.

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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, ya’ll.

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, ya’ll.

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, ya’ll.

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, ya’ll.

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, ya’ll.