~THE GRATITUDE HAPPINESS PARADOX~

ATTENTION FB

My EPIPHANY at 4:30am on a Monday morning?

Gratitude does not equal happiness. Being thankful and being happy, are not always dependent on the existence of one creating the other. True happiness is a state of being. It comes from the freedom and peace created when we are happy with who we are. We can be unhappy with where we are AT in life at the time, yet still have the ability to carry happiness within our soul. For a happy soul, a free soul, a peaceful soul, is accepting of the unhappiness it encounters along the way. Acceptance is an awareness of “it is what it is” and “it is what it will become.” Acceptance is not bound to right or wrong, good or bad, fair or unfair, nor is it bound to should have, could have, or would have. Happiness comes from knowing the light of your own being, the freedom to trust in your own path, to be grateful for both the blessings and the hardships that come with living life. It is peace with YOUR journey, it is following YOUR  heart, it is trusting YOUR intuition.

Creating a state of happiness is about allowing yourself to make mistakes, admitting to yourself that you were wrong, facing your faults and making your amends. Being truly happy is about being grateful, being thankful, being humble, being mindful. it’s about an awareness of the magical moments, of the beautiful people, of the life lessons, of the awakening that comes by accepting and by facing and by surviving, all of the unhappy times our journey will require along the way. Happiness is an awareness of the joy of living, of the joy of loving, of the joy of showing gratitude for all of those blessings that guided us, that inspired us, that strengthened our resolve to continue trusting in OUR process, trusting in OUR journey, trusting in OUR knowledge, that OUR state of being happy has always been, will always be, open to us as we travel along our way.

If there is a general measurement of a happy person, a basic definition, what would it be? How does a happy person show you this happiness on the outside, and how do you know if what you are labeling as happy, couldn’t possibly be labeled as something else? If you ask a person if they are happy and they say yes they are, do you take their word for it? Do you allow their reassurance of happiness to overshadow all of those doubts that led you to asking the question in the first place? Do you find yourself repeating happyish sounding phrases like “I’ve had plenty my life to be upset about but I have found that being thankful changes the way I look at it,” or hear these happyish sounding phrases coming from someone else?

Or what about the people who are always sounding off their personal pep talks, their “I am working on myself and doing what is finally best for me! I am working on healthy relationships and making myself open to finding happiness again!” They are the ones who are always ready, always posting the RAH RAH GO ME I AM BRAVE LOOK AND SEE personal cheering statements on facebook. They publicly remind themselves that it is “worth waiting for,” that they will no longer “settle” for anything BUT the RIGHT thing, or the RIGHT man, or the RIGHT job, or the RIGHT relationship, or the RIGHT time, or the RIGHT day. Everything happyish thing they say is about WAITING for that something, that someone, that someway, that is “SURELY gonna come along” and appreciate them for who they are…and desire ALL of who they are…and ANYTHING less would be to “abbreviate myself and deny myself” and (say it with me now…or at least “like” my status or give me some validation with a comment or “share”) “I AM WORTH THE WAIT!” And the usual weekly shout out to a therapist or motivational guru comes next.

Does this kind of facebook profile sound familiar to you? Are you a member of one of these above mentioned validation focused personal pep rally’s? Or is there a self serving validation pep rally already in place thanks to you?

And you know what? Very few people can see through this these validation pep rallies and sense the desperation, sense the craving, sense the addiction, behind them, sense the overwhelming need for the world to give these people the kind of  validation and approval they seek, the kind of validation and approval which they have never been capable of (and most likely will never be capable of) giving to themselves.

These kinds of people fit that general definition of being happy, they have a happy qualifications resume, filled with accomplishments like a nice little house, and a nice little car, and a nice little I HELP PEOPLE VALIDATE THEMSELVES SO THEY CAN HELP VALIDATE ME profession, and a nice little organic healthy food cooking or animal advocacy kind of fight for a cause “passion” or hobby, and a long history of nice little past dysfunctional relationships that you are only made aware of due to the number of times they remind you I AM A BADASS SURVIVOR WHO IS NO LONGER GONNA SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS THAN WHAT I DESERVE which usually are accompanied by links to relationship and sex advice sites that support what they want to believe about themselves, or picture quotes about what true love looks like, or how enlightened they have become to now know what true love looks like thanks to the courageous and fearless waiting game they are now choosing to play.

They are READY and WILLING to wait as long as it takes, for the RIGHT person and the RIGHT relationship to come along, which they hope will validate the newly discovered YES I AM WORTHY daily rally cry they chant to themselves, and have written on post it notes all over their house and office space. And If the National Campaign for A BE GRATEFUL BE HAPPY AMERICA actually existed, and began posting their nationwide search for a spokesperson, with a featured writing spot in the inspirational we need donations monthly newsletter they send out, this type of person would be the perfect fit. And trust me when I say, that these kinds of people would be the very first to submit their Happy Qualifications and Why I am Grateful to Finally be Happy With Where I am AT in life journey essay, to the selection committee who would they would be CRAVING validating from.

And you know what?

These people are living a lie that gratitude for things equals happiness, yet they are the ones who are far from being happy with WHO they are. Instead, they are holding on to the validation that they are grateful to finally be happy with where they are AT, and they are consumed with creating the storyline, the audience, the self help self serving motivational speaker persona, of someone who appears to fit that general definition of “happiness” that everyone around them seems to agree with. It is a lie. They are lying to you…they are lying to themselves…and this self deception is going on around you, far more often than you may think.

I was inspired to write about this after reading a quote posted on a woman’s facebook page a week ago. This woman’s wall is packed with countless “sexiness I am badass look at me living my amazing life surrounded by all of my amazing things and all of my amazing friends and LOOK AT HOW GRATEFULLY HAPPY I AM FOR ALL OF THE WAYS I CAN VALIDATE MY SELF WORTHINESS AND LOOK AT THE GROWING LIST OF HAPPINESS QUALIFICATIONS I AM BUILDING FOR THE GRATITUDE = HAPPINESS STORYLINE I AM CONSUMED WITH CREATING FOR MYSELF AND “LOOK!” AT ALL OF THE PEOPLE I HAVE IN MY PERSONAL PEP RALLY CLUB WHICH VALIDATES THAT I AM GRATEFUL TO FINALLY BE HAPPY WITH WHERE I AM AT” photos and posts. I find it painful to imagine being in this woman’s “space,” having such an insatiable craving for the attention of others, which is needed to validate her own self worth. Among these photos and posts on her wall, there is a photo quotation shared from one of the many personal pep rally motivational websites or blog sites she subscribes to, and it goes like this:

“The most dangerous woman in the world, is the one who requires no validation from others.”

This quote is then followed by at least 10 or more “likes” from friends, and “HELL YA’s” and “YOU GO GIRL” comments, which she then quickly acknowledges and thanks all of her supporters for their praise. And I find myself feeling compassion for this woman, this woman who has been broken by the damage of loving another at the expense of loving herself. The woman who has no awareness of the hypocrisy in using social media as a constant source of “worthiness” validation from others. A woman who is desperate, lonely, craving, consumed, by her lifelong fear of never being good enough, never being ready enough, never being willing enough, never being brave enough, sexy enough, never being worthy enough in the eyes of others, as she is only capable to accept the kind of validation that comes from how she appears to them, the kind of validation that she is not capable of accepting for herself.

Over the past year and half, I have had to redefine my own sense of worthiness and my own state of happiness, and one thing I have come to realize throughout this painfully oftentimes humiliating and terrifying process, is that when my happiness had to depend on WHO I was, and could no longer be tied to where I was AT, my personal practice of gratitude completely changed. I found myself experiencing the most profound sense of what it means to be grateful. And the things that I found myself being the most grateful for, were the kinds of things that I would have never thought of only a year or two before.

My Happiness Qualifications resume would look to many, as the resume of someone who has none of the things that fit the general definition of what is means to be happy. Someone who must be VERY unhappy living a life void of the personal worthiness validations that come with all of those little things that everyone else seems to be told they should be grateful and happy about. Someone for whom they feel pity, for whom they feel sorry, for whom they feel a profound sense of gratitude to be nothing like, and a profound sense of happiness because of it. I have compassion for those who see their own sense of gratitude and happiness as superior to my own, and I allow them the freedom to believe as they do and to live their lives this way.

And then I say…

I have nothing. I have lost everything. I am to many, considered a “loser.” I have no real job, no father for my son, no relationship with no home of my own, no personal savings, no health insurance, no clear set 6 month, 1 year, or 5 year career life stability plan. In fact, for the first time in my life, I am bound only to a responsibility to myself, to my 3yr old son, to my kitty cat Yedders, and to both of my dogs Nikki and Dallas. Being bound to any responsibility or anything or anyone else, is now my choice. And because of this, who and what I choose to be bound to, choose to have a sense of responsibility to, has changed. By having nothing, I have gained everything, which to me…is the freedom to choose in which direction I want to live out the rest of my life.

At the age of 37, I am starting over from scratch. This new beginning has allowed me the precious gift to reinvent myself, to pursue my passion, to chase all of the lifelong dreams I had thought were dreams I had to let go. I have chosen not to not apply for a REAL job, have made the decision to not listen to criticism, who seem to believe that securing ANY job, is what would be best for me. I have been told I am a burden, I have had those I thought were close friends of mine, turn their backs on me and walk out of my life. But the room this allowed for others, has been the most precious gift of all. My way of seeing and seeking relationships has changed in ways one may not expect, and patterns of maintaining unhealthy connections, simply no longer exist. I find my sense of gratitude to be tenfold what it was only a short time ago. How I used defined my own personal worthiness and success, was created by the validation of others. How I define my own personal worthiness and success today, is created only by the validation of myself.

I am not waiting for the RIGHT anything to come along. I am not tied to the destination of my path. All that matters to me, is that my journey is my own, and my direction is right fior me. Am I happy to be living at home, the single mother of a 3yr old son, with no job, no money, no health insurance, no real “life” outside of my own? Nope. It is an often times humiliating and soul crushing place in life to be AT. Am I happy to be who I am? To have this chance of a lifetime to start over again? Yes. My state of happiness overwhelms me. My gratitude for the beautifully magical surreal life that I live, for the passionately curious way that I create, and for the people who still believe in me, these are what I am most thankful for.

I do not need the validation of anyone to live a live I love.

I am fearless. I am brave. I am powerful. I am infinite. I am love. I am passion. I am beauty.

I will share my story someday.

I will speak my truth.

I am blessed to be who I am.

~nj~

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A SUBTLE KIND OF LOVE ~a story~

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A SUBTLE KIND OF LOVE
~a story~

He loved her in a distant kind of way, the same way the sun heats the Earth. If she were to disappear completely, he knew through pure logic that it would have no great, disastrous effect on him. He would not cease to be; he would not stop breathing; his heart would not stop beating; the world would not stop spinning. The sun would keep shining, radiating heat, if the Earth were not there. On a certain, purely physical level, her absence would have absolutely zero effect on his person.And yet…He loved her in an abstract kind of way, the way a bee loves honey.

He wasn’t sure why he wanted to love her, but he wanted to love her just the same. Maybe somebody told him once that he should be in love with somebody, so he felt a need to pick somebody and it just so happened to be her. Maybe. Being in love was nice, sure, but he didn’t need to be.And yet…He loved her in a removed kind of way, the way a butterfly’s wings can start a tsunami halfway around the world. He knew that it had an effect on her, but he wasn’t sure how great. On a certain level he was aware that if he were to stop, if he were to disappear, it would have a drastic effect. For him it would be one less flap of his wings, in a manner of speaking, if such a thing were possible without him falling from the sky.And yet…He loved her in a subtle kind of way.

It wasn’t the kind of love you see in movies, with swelling music and giant gestures and running through the streets to catch a departing train. It wasn’t the kind of love that Byron or Shakespeare wrote about, with flowery language and hyperbole and iambic pentameter. It was still and deep, like water that you might mistake for shallow if you just watched the surface.

It was entirely his, not dependent on her own feelings for him, and it would still be there whether she, or him, or everyone else on the world disappeared.

It was a subtle kind of love, but it was true.

And she loved him just the same.

Unknown Author

~A MOTHER’S STORY~

HJ

My sweet little boy is soooo sick today, and we have been passing the time hanging out and finding interesting ways to pass the time.. He and I have a very unique and powerful bond. we are connected in ways that seem different than the ways in which many mother child bonds are often described by others. In no way am I saying we are MORE connected, just bonded and connected differently. Since reuniting with him three months ago, after a 6 month seperation,  I have allowed him to set the pace of reconnecting, allowed him to choose what kind of comfort and affection he wants from me, and when I am welcome to offer it to him.

My son thinks like me, he is out of the box like me, he is intuitive and sensitive like me, and he will not do anything…and I mean anything…unless doing so makes sense to him. He has to have the “reason” the “why” or “why not” needs to click, and while getting him to this point of “Ohhhh! Now it makes sense” can be challenging (or impossible…when you’re up against the logic of a 3yr old), once this light goes on, once he realizes why (oh…and you can’t bullshit him into thinking something is a good idea when he has a logical argument as to why it is not) doing something differently is better than doing it the way he has been doing it, that’s it. That’s all that it takes. He tells me when he is tired, goes to bed without a fuss, eats when he’s hungry, and goes about his day conducting himself in a manner that makes sense to him.

He is not a defiant child, he is not oppositional in the usual way children his age often are, he doesn’t do something or not do something because the opposite is expected of him, and unlike most children, my son does not mimic. See Mommy pick up toys? So. See Mommy eat with a spoon? So. See Mommy play with a doll? So. Because to him, and I swear this is what’s going on inside of his head, why in the world would “I pick up toys when they are just fine where they are? Why in the world would I eat with a spoon when eating with my fingers is sooo much more efficient? Why in the world would I give a FAKE bottle to a FAKE little person and think that it is fun? Why in the world can I NOT color on the white walls, when coloring on the white dry erase board is ok? Why in the world am I NOT allowed to have unlimited access to ALL water fountains, ponds, and sprinklers, when I have unlimited access to some? Why in the world can’t I go and examine the bumpers, and wheels, and headlights of every vehicle parked in the driveway around the block, ANY TIME I WANT, when I can examine your car mom, and Grandmas car, and Aunt Jodee car pretty much any time I want? And I’m like…Ummm…because you just can’t…because I said no?

But before I even go any further with that bound to fail argument, I pause for a moment….and I look at this amazingly beautiful brilliant little boy, this child who manages to present these logical arguments that I have to actually think about to refute, this little boy who saved me, who changed me, who woke me up and made me the woman I am today, the woman I am striving to become, the little boy who inspires me, who awes me, who challenges me, whose mind will always be thought of by most as “different” or “odd,” but who is quite possibly, the most independently quirky brilliant child I have ever known. My son will not hug me, or anyone for that matter, just because he is supposed to. He doesn’t give kisses because he is asked, or sit on a lap because he is called. He does these things all as a result of his own free will, and who he chooses to give a kiss, or a hug, or sit next to, is perhaps the most magical thing of all. He senses the world in a way unlike any child I have ever known.

He sees things, and smells things, and touches things, and hears things, and tastes things, many times he does all of these things to one object, one leaf, one piece of food, one toy, before he gives his approval thumbs up or disapproval thumbs down, the moment of decision, is always very definitive and final to him.

I knew the moment I discovered I was pregnant, that my child was a boy, and that his name was Henry. He was named after my beloved Gentleman Cat, William Henry Harrison, who turned 20 the year that my son was born. I remember thinking how I could not imagine not “knowing” him all these 9 months, how mothers were able to actually be surprised by the sex of their child at birth, and how in moments of pregnancy freak out and doubt, when I would find myself pondering “what if this child is a girl?!?!?!?” I seriously thought that if I heard the words “CONGRATS IT’S A GIRL” coming out of my doctors mouth, if this were to be the case, that it would be proof that I was going to be THE “worst most out of touch where the hell are those motherly instincts I am not cut out to raise a child my kid was doomed” kind of mother, and there were moments of utter terror as I would play out this worst case scenario in my head.

I never had regular timed contractions during my labor, they just came and went when they pleased. I never went into natural labor, Henry was fine with keeping the status quo 2 weeks after his scheduled due date, and after 36 hours of trying to bring this “I’m in no hurry why are you” child into this world, on the VERY last chance before being hauled off to the surgeon, I remember this surreal moment when, completely exhausted and beyond delirious I said:

“Henry James…we gotta work together here, and figure out a way to get you out. You see I have managed to come through this whole HOLY SHIT I AM PREGNANT AT 34…SURPRISE! adventure without one stretch mark, with a healthy amount of gained weight, and if your stubbornness is the reason for that scar, if I have to take care of you, 2 dogs, 2 cats, in an apartment with stairs, NO family, and the worlds most USELESS AND CREEPY mother in law in the entire world, we will not be off to the best start and I REALLY need you to COME OUT!” And at the 4 hour push limit mark, on the third and very last allowed vacuum suction cup maneuver, out came this little man and I puked and pretty much passed out.

And the first words that I remember anyone saying to me were these: “OMG Natalie…he looks exactly like you.” From this moment on I would spend the next 2 years listening to people try and come up with traits he shared with his father, and watching him grow and thinking to myself, “It’s a good thing there’s no question as to my activities around the time this little man came to be. because there is not one thing in my child that reminds me of anyone else but me.”

He has never slept a night in the same bed with me, always insisting on his own space.He refused to conform to the “schedule” everyone told me I was supposed to create for him, and after 4 months of RANDOM charts and notes of feeding times and nap times, I finally said to myself “This little boy marches to the beat of a different drummer…his own drummer…and as his mother, I must honor that.”  So begin the journey of me and my little boy.

He has never not seen holding hands with me, or anyone else, as remotely necessary, until he wanted to learn how to walk up and down stairs. He has never been scolded for pulling the cat’s tail, or chasing the dog. In fact, not once in his entire life, have I or anyone else, had to show him or teach him, how to treat animals, or discipline him for being out of line or teasing them while interacting with them outside of the house.

He naturally had the gift of self soothing from the moment he was born, and slept in a zippered full body swaddle called “swoombie” until he had worn through every make, model, and size, complemented by a binky in his mouth, and he never seemed to find reason to cause a fuss or make a sound, until it was time to eat or be placed in his crib to go to sleep.

He would spend hours and hours in his swing, watching the little bunnies and lambs turn round and round above his head, and managed to wear out the motors in 3 swings before becoming to heavy for them to swing him anymore. My son never had an interest in the kind of children’s shows other parents of kids his age were raving about…no Sesame Street, no Teletubbies, he found nothing interesting in the short song and dance displays these shows would give to him. Instead, Henry preferred the full length Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks Movies, with The Lion King. Finding Nemo, The Lorax, being among the ones he would want to watch over and over and over again. As soon as he began to walk, he would anticipate the scary, or sad, or emotionally charged parts of these movies, and would get up from wherever he was sitting, run into the hallway, place his hands over his ears, peek around the corner and watch the specific scene from a distance, and show genuine concern for the characters experiencing hardship, sadness, grief, or danger. Just last week he came out of his bedroom, tears running down his cheeks, and when I quickly went to see what had happened to him, I found him crying during the part in Disney’s “Tarzan” where Tarzan and the Gorillas are being captured and taken away on a ship.

My son can spend all day reveling in the feeling of crushing dried leaves between his index finger and his thumb. When we go to the library he spends all of his time studying the DVS cases, or sitting in the middle of the Adult Geography and Nature section with book upon book filled with colorful maps, images of sharks, drawings of dinosaurs, sketches of fire trucks and police cars, and has no interest whatsoever in the seemingly fascinating Children’s Book section TO EVERY CHILD BUT MINE. On Sundays he takes all of the colorful coupon ads out of the newspaper, and sits for hours cross-legged in a very studious and captivated manner, “reading” them like most adults do while they wake up with their early morning coffee. He will eat the same thing for a week, and absolutely under no circumstances whatsoever, eat that same thing a few days later when he finds the texture or smell or flavor not to his liking, and trust me when I say…You will not get him to eat it again. Only time it makes sense for him to eat with a spoon, is when he likes the flavor of Ice Cream in the bowl, and the option of eating it with his hands has been ruled out. You cannot delay this child’s bedtime. Should you try, you will get to witness the complete and total loss of ability to emotionally and physically regulate himself, which has earned him the nickname of “drunken sailor” on more than one occasion.

I was never a woman who thought much about, or felt a need to become a mother, and would have been fine without having this unexpected not supposed to be possible blessing come into my life. I also would have continued living a life without passion, without purpose, without any answers as to why my life consisted of unhealthy patterns, relationships with people who disrespected my worth, a series of  failed to meet expectations that made me lose faith in myself, in my future, and year after year I watched myself slipping into a lonely existence of isolation, of being diagnosed with this mental illness or that one by professionals who managed to numb my brain to the point that I lost the gift of knowing what it is like to genuinely “feel.” My son changed all that. I was in no place to be a mother at the time, and I knew that. I remember one thought repeating itself over and over in my mind as I faced the most momentous decision of my life, something I shared with his father, words that would end up proving their truth beyond anything I could have expected.

Who a woman (or a man) is when he or she begins this journey of becoming a mother or father, was never as important to me as who that woman or man could and would become once that decision was made that a child of their creation, would be born to them, and into this world. I knew that for me to choose motherhood would require me to take a very close look at myself, at my life, at my choices, at what I had to offer a child, and why this most sacred responsibility would be one that I would be worthy of and capable of to take on. My child could change the world, create ideas which would serve to better the lives of all humanity. My child’s mere existence, could set in motion Universally cosmic shifts that could reverberate for generations to come. My child could also destroy the world, create ideas which would serve to create suffering and pain in the lives of humanity. My child’s mere existence, could set in motion Universally cosmic shifts that could reverberate for generations to come.

How could I even begin to understand what bringing life into this world, life created with the chance of my good genes or my bad genes, or genes I am not even aware of, truly means? And with all of these unknowns, and all of the (in my humble opinion) beyond selfish and morally wrong reasons many women (or men) choose to have children these days, there is only one way that I can live with myself, live with a sense of honor as the mother of my child, and that was for me to finally begin the process of finding out what kind of person I truly was. Because to me, the measure of a person can be defined by the kind of parent they choose to become, the person who know what this life they have created means, and who will face who they were, what they have done, and choose to be brave.

They will become the kind of parent they know they must be, for they understand that every child deserves a parent who dared to be brave, who dared to become fearless, who dared to fight all of these gut wrenching and honorable battles one by one, because of having a child does not change you, does not make you rethink everything you thought was true, does not make you wake the fuck up and face things that you have been running away from for years, if having a child does not create within you the desire to become who you know you can and need to be, I am not sure anything will. Which to me…would mean that I am ok with fucking up my life and not changing my life and if MY life is all I have to fuck up and not change, well then I guess that is how it will be.

My son saved me from myself. He is the source of my creativity, my passion, my belief that I deserve, as he deserves, a life lived with truth, with humility, with gratitude, with tolerance, with compassion, with love, and if that kind of life cannot be lived by me, lived to show my child and teach my child what it means to make life matter, perhaps is the true measurement of my worth as a human being.

I am flawed. I make mistakes. I am far, far, from being perfect at anything, let alone being a mother. But when Henry’s life became eternally intertwined with mine, when his actions and thoughts and choices would all somehow have a connection to how he was raised and what he has learned from me, all that really matters, all that I can really hope to live up to, is being a mother, living a life, that my son can be and will be proud of. I choose to live this way for me…I choose to live this way for him, and for this beautifully brilliant marches to the beat of his own drummer fascinatingly odd little boy…I am blessed.

~The Authentic Self is The Soul Made Visible~

authenticselfI have always had the ability to sense and read energy…energy of objects, of locations, of situations, of animals, and most of all of people. Only recently have I come to fully understand what being this way means, and over the past few years, I have come to believe for myself, MY truth, a few things with absolute certainty in regards to this gift (or curse depending on several variables…lol). One being that I sense evil, sense darkness, sense true intention, sense when someone’s actions or outward demeanor and behavior, their words, their voice, their praise, their criticism, their style, are out of sync with their intent, what is behind the mask they wear for the world to see, and how dark their soul appears if that mask were to slip.

I also sense goodness, sense light, sense pure intention, sense when someone’s actions or outward demeanor, and behavior, their words, their voice, their praise, their criticism, their style, are in sync with their intent, what is behind the mask of self doubt, or arrogance, or pride, they wear for the world to see, and how beautiful their soul appears if they allow themselves to be open, vulnerable, and trusting enough for their mask to slip and for the light of their true being to shine through. Many people find the light within them as hard to face as they do the darkness, refusing to see the power of goodness, denying the power of evil, both of which are within them, as they are in every human soul. Many times people will not face who they really are, will not sit with the beauty and the ugliness, will not look upon themselves with compassion, with acceptance, with truth, will not see past the resume of success and failure, which they have created for themselves as a way to justify to themselves and to the world, their worthiness, their value, their importance.

Many times people will not face who who others really are, will not dare uncover the beauty and the ugliness that lies beneath the surface, will not look upon others with compassion, with acceptance, with truth, with understanding, will not see past the resume of success and failure, which a person creates as a way to justify to themselves and to the world, their worthiness, their value, their importance. Sometimes people choose to only see what they don’t like, don’t agree with, don’t want to deal with, and as a result, miss the beauty and goodness that shines in the people they see as different from them. They miss out on what these people may teach them if they are willing to learn, and miss the chance to learn more about themselves through this learning process.

And even more dangerous, and far more common, people refuse to see, refuse to admit, refuse to believe, that evil is hiding beneath even the most convincingly charming of demeanor’s.. Many times people turn away from facing the reality of who they really are, and in doing so, turn away from facing the reality of who others really are. They choose to only see the parts in themselves that they want the world to see in them, and turn to the blind eye of blaming others, of making their misfortunes everyone else’s fault but their own, as they do not want to see the parts in themselves, that they don’t want the world to see in them. They surround themselves with those who never challenge, those who they see as inline with their own moral code, their own beliefs, or they surround themselves with those who challenge just enough, those who are just outside of their own moral code, their own beliefs, which then allows for the seeds of self justification, of self righteousness, of self superiority, to be planted within their hearts and minds, with roots extending far beyond the awareness they choose to accept. From these seeds sprout self validation, self approval, how they define what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is bad, what is moral, what is just, what is sin, what is beautiful, what is ugly, what is worthwhile, what is waste,what is how it should be, what is how it ought to be, not only for themselves, but for others. They surround themselves with those who create within them a sense of being wanted, a sense of being needed, a sense of being what they cannot be to themselves, a sense of being something to someone, of someone being something to them, and they do this many times by ignoring their own internal voice that whispers, “Beware. Something is off.” So caught up in the ego boost these kinds of people provide for them, something people with action intent evil often do to manipulate people to get what they want, and many times what they crave to be in the eyes of others, is what they cannot be, what they are too afraid to be, to themselves.

Many times people find themselves defined by the roles they play, the roles they allow others to play, without ever knowing what role they would play if the only audience they had to view their performance, was an audience of one, an audience of only themselves. No one to applaud them with approval, no one to boo them with disgust, no one but themselves to offer up a review of their performance. They would be without the false flattery of others, without the judgement for the sake of harm. They would also be without the sincere praise of others, without the judgement for the sake of improvement. How would this change them? How would they judge their own performance? How would they see themselves without relying on everyone around them to do it for them? How many of us could step onto the stage of self reflection, give our performance, play our role, and then humbly, with gratitude, with compassion, with understanding, with love, face this audience of one, and take a bow? Admit it wasn’t perfect, but that we did our best, we carried out each act with the pure intentions of our heart and followed the guidance of our soul. How many of us would applaud ourselves? How many of us would devote our lives to making each performance one that WE could take pride in? How many of us would devote our lives to making each role we played in relation to others, as amazing, as inspiring, as memorable, as the role we play to ourselves? If we were not tied to the outcome, not tied to the gratification and applause of others, would we even see what we had to offer as worth the time?

And how many of us would say to ourselves, why should go to all of that effort? Why should I devote so much of my time and life source? Why should base my life’s performance, on the synchronicity of intent and action? Why should I give the most powerful and memorable performance of my life, the most genuine performance of my life, when the only person sitting in the audience, the only person who will praise me, the only person who will applaud me, the only person who will see me, the only person who will admire me, is me? How will I know I am amazing? How will I know I am wonderful? How will I know I deserve respect? How will “I” know who I really am, how will I know what role “I” really play, how will “I” know who and what “I” am destined to be, if there is no one sitting in the audience to tell me?

And it is my belief, my own personal truth, my own sense of direction, with my compass based on feeling, on intention, on energy, on intuition, the one who walks off stage in the silence of an empty theater, and instead joins the chorus in the roar of a packed house, is perhaps the most cowardly of us all. When we are brave enough to face our deepest darkness, courageous enough to face our deepest fears, open enough to face whatever it is we will find when we take a closer look at who we are, who we were, who we want to be, and who we will be, that is when we become truly free. And with this freedom, comes the freedom to love, the freedom to live, the freedom to laugh, the freedom to cry, the freedom to create, the freedom to find within ourselves, what we had once believed would only be found in the eyes of others. With this freedom comes the gift of seeing others for who THEY are, for through the acceptance of seeing who we really are, our eyes are opened in ways we never would have believed.

Our goodness, our beauty, our power, our purpose, our passion, our darkness, our ugliness, our weakness, our pride, our self destruction, becomes something we own, something that cannot be created, something that cannot be destroyed, something that was always within us, something that will always be within us, something that exists solely because of who we are, who we were, who we want to be, and who we will be…without any validation of its authenticity based upon if others believe it to be good, bad, valuable, worthless, or not. There is nothing more tragic than a life lived for the sake of being all you can be to others, while being less than what you can be to yourself. A life lived without the pure light of your being being realized by YOU, is a life lived without the pure light of your being being realized by anyone else. A life lived without the destructive darkness of your being being realized by YOU, is a life lived without this destructive darkness being realized in anyone else.

When you live an authentic life, you come to sense others who do the same. You come to sense the clarity and the unique vibe their energy creates. You come to feel drawn to be near them, you find their presence in your life something you value. You do not feel the static of their negative energy field, being in competition with the positive static of your own. Instead, you come to see this as your whisper, your inner voice, telling you “Beware. Something is off.” Only this time, you listen. You realize there are people who live their lives with their intention and action in sync, and while they are just as flawed and damaged, as afraid and ashamed as you are, they are beautiful, they are lovely, they are the kind of people who create the magical serendipity of life, the kind of people who change the world just through their existence. You realize there are people who live their lives with their intention and action out of sync, and while they appear as charming, as attractive, as enviable, as intelligent, as successful, as you would hope to be, they are the kind of people who destroy the goodness, steal the innocence, the kind of people who destroy the world just through their existence.

There are the travelers who see life as a game, where there is a winner who reaps the rewards of victory, and a loser who suffers their deserved defeat. There are the travelers who understand life is about the destination, who choose to walk over you, to steal from you, who expect you to carry them when they demand it without ever intending to show the same favor to you. They walk the path alone when they have walked through everyone else, and they smile as they eagerly seek for the next innocent traveler to happen along their way. These are the travelers with a set destination, an expected date of arrival, a map with the route all laid out as to where their path will eventually end up. They will do anything and everything to reach their destination, and will stop at nothing, and I mean nothing, to remove any obstacle they find in their way. They travel this world with the ability to see you for what YOU are to them, to exploit your mistakes, remind you of your failures, remind you of your insecurities, base your worth to them on the quality of your actions…they see your heart, your soul, your light, your dark, and they use you and discard you just the same.

There are also the travelers who understand life is about the journey, about who you choose to walk beside you, to lead you, to follow you, and when you must face the uncertainty of walking your path alone. These are the travelers with no set destination, no date of arrival, no expectation of where their path may lead or eventually end up. They travel this world with the ability to see you for who YOU are, to see beyond your mistakes, see beyond your failures, see beyond your insecurities, see beyond your actions…they see your heart, your soul, your light, your dark, and they love and accept you just the same.

I am so thankful for the many life lessons both kinds of travelers teach me, have taught me, will teach me. By being brave enough to be yourself, by being cowardly enough to not even know who you are, you have made me feel brave enough to be myself, to use my power of intention for goodness, to be fearless in my refusal to accept defeat, and to learn how to beat you at your own game, something I call, The Art of War. Your Good energy has healed me, has inspired me, and has at times, pained me with his depth and the pure essence of its clarity. Your Evil energy has wounded me, has discouraged me, and has at times, pained me with its depth and the pure essence of its evil. Your darkness has made me a fearless warrior, and you fear me because you know I can, and I will, should I choose to, destroy you.

Please know that I do not claim to know you better than you know yourself, or know what is best for you and what is not, or who is right for you and who is not, all I know is what I feel, and what I feel is energy. And while I cannot see it, I cannot touch it, I cannot describe with any sense of certainty how it is experienced by me, by others, or how it is experienced by you, it does exist, it always has, it always will, and those with this gift to understand it, share it with you for you to do do with it what you will. For us, it is the only way to live our own authentic life. May you come to see this has a blessing, an imperfect blessing but a powerful one nonetheless, and may you come to see yourself as I see you, as the beautiful awe inspiring fascinatingly lovely person that you are.

~Persistence and The Woodpecker~

WOODPECKER

Sometimes my life feels surreal.

THE UNIVERSE HAS SPOKEN AND SAID…”listen.

” Why persistence wins. Lesson of the Woodpecker.”

Jon Acuff, January 13, 2014

“I’ve often heard stories about how persistent woodpeckers are. They don’t jump around to 15 different trees. Instead, they beat on one tree over and over again. Why? Because persistence tends to pay off.They know that there are bugs in every tree. And if they fly to a lot of different trees, they have a 1 in that entire tree chance of hitting a bug. But, each time they make a hole in the same tree, they increase their odds.Let’s say they could poke 1,000 holes in a tree. If they flew to a new tree and made a hole, they have a 1 in 1,000 shot at finding lunch. If they left and went to a new tree, they’d lose all their progress and start all over with 1 in 1,000. But, if they stay at the same tree, that changes everything.According to studies, woodpeckers can drill 20 times in one second. Let’s say it takes 20 pecks to get a decent hole.That means, if they stay at the same tree for 1 minute, their odds at finding a bug are now 60 in 1,000 or 6 in 100. Let’s say they stay there 10 minutes. The odds are now 60% that they will find food.Don’t think they do this? Here’s a log I found with a series of holes.Don’t jump to a new tree (or opportunity) just because the first hole doesn’t work out at the last tree. Stay focused. Stay engaged. And above all, stay persistent.”- See more at:

READ JON ACUFF’ BLOG HERE: http://acuff.me/2014/01/persistence-wins/#sthash.o7kREga3.dpuf

Smoking IS Bad…But the Reason I Smoke is Much Worse…

smoking2BEFORE YOU JUDGE A SMOKER…”Smoking IS bad…but the reason I smoke is much, much, worse.” I have never experienced any truly noticeable physical addiction withdrawal to cigarettes, a headache (maybe) is the only kind of physical response I can recall having. I have never smoked for an extended period of time, usually a few months, maybe socially for a year, always as a reaction to some stressful life event or during periods of heightened creativity where my mind goes a million miles an hour.
Stepping away from life for a moment with my American Spirit Blue, is like a break from reality, a chance for my brain to take a breath and slow down, a chance for my energy to realign itself in a calming and intuitive way… basically, 10 min alone in the cold darkness of the night, just me and my Blue, has definitely prevented more than one life overload meltdown, and inspired some of my most creatively brilliant ideas. I will always have a pack of Blues with me, which may last a whole year depending on what the Universe has in store for me, and the amount of emotional mind space available to me at the time.
Telling people smoking kills them, or if they don’t stop their lungs will look like this, or their voice will sound like that, is never going to get the number of smokers to decrease or lesson anyone’s chances from starting in the first place. Why people choose to medicate themselves with cigarettes, or any unhealthy substance for that matter, is what needs to be the focus to encourage them to stop. Judging smokers, giving them disapproving looks as you pass by, telling them they will die or that smoking makes them ugly, pr contributing their inability to quit simply as a lack of moral fortitude or willpower, is BEYOND counterproductive, and smokers as a result, become dehumanized and shunned. All this does is reinforces many of the feelings responsible for them choosing to smoke in the first place. Yep. YOU MAY HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO A SMOKERS HABIT. SURPRISE! Have some compassion, some understanding, try to step outside your own bias and realize that just like you, like all of us, smokers are fighting their own battles.
Am I preaching everyone should be OK with smoking? Nope. Am I justifying reasons for smoking? Nope. All I’m trying to say, is that if you want those you care about to stop smoking, or want to prevent those you care about from ever starting, scare tactics and shaming will never, ever work. Not Smoking is a lifestyle change, it requires changing things around you that create stress and worry, it requires finding other ways to have that 10 min break from reality, and its far more complex and challenging than just saying “no thanks” or “I QUIT!” A life of chaos creates a need to cope, and what woks for one person may not work for another.
So next time you find yourself snubbing the smoker, next time you find yourself blaming the smoker for the high cost of insurance, next time you find yourself questioning the smokers moral character or issuing judgement on their worthiness to receive welfare (if they can afford smokes they can pay rent), pause for a moment and think about this…isn’t the person who eats a dozen donuts or a daily McDonalds super-sized meal, who drinks a Big Gulp a day, or a hot fudge sunday midnight nightly snack, who because of their own unhealthy response to cope, is quickly on the road to becoming 30lbs overweight or is now what we call “morbidly obese” engaging in the same behavior, only with a more socially acceptable vice?
Addiction is basically an adaptive coping skill gone wrong, food addiction, gambling, heroin, sex addiction, exercise addiction, all look nearly the same when a scan is done of the addicts brain. And trying to understand why anyone would choose such a deadly way to deal or escape from the reality of life, and why its not as simple as choosing to quit, or saying no, although different for every person, is in my humble opinion, what we should be talking about. Am I making excuses for addicts? Nope. Do I think addicts deserve pity? Nope. Am I diminishing the role of personal choice when it comes to addiction? Not one bit.
Hate the sin, have compassion and understanding for the sinner. Isn’t that what Jesus would do? Allow people the freedom to enter the gates of hell based on their own choices, their own sins, their own vices, and before you judge yourself as the better human being, remember that walk you need to
walking, wearing another persons shoes.

10 of the Greatest Essays on Writing Ever Written

Flavorwire

If there’s one topic that writers can be counted on to tackle at least once in their working lives, it’s writing itself. A good thing too, especially for all those aspiring writers out there looking for a little bit of guidance. For some winter inspiration and honing of your craft, here you’ll find ten great essays on writing, from the classic to the contemporary, from the specific to the all-encompassing. Note: there are many, many, many great essays on writing. Bias has been extended here to personal favorites and those available to read online. Also of note but not included: full books on the subject like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Stephen King’s On Writing, and Ron Carlson’s Ron Carlson Writes a Story, or, in a somewhat different sense, David Shields’ Reality Hunger, for those looking for a longer commitment. Read on, and add your own…

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5 Steps to Develop Your Sparkle – Seeing Abilities

The Go Between: Psychics, Mediums and Integrity by Melissa Leath

Do you see sparkles? Or, do you want to see sparkles?

Here are some exercises to help you develop these abilities.

1. Meditate. Meditation gives your spirit, mind and physical self a chance to connect. There is no right way or wrong way to perform meditation. It is only important that you are able to relax and focus your mind. When your mind starts to wander, notice it, and then re-focus. As you practice meditation on a regular basis, you will notice the existence of your own spiritual energy. It is the connection to your spiritual self that opens to intuitive abilities. By strengthening the connection to your spiritual self, you will increase of your intuitive and psychic abilities.

2. Present Moment Solitude. Steer away from distractions that keep your mind occupied. Know when you are aware of your surroundings and cherish those moments. This helps develop inner…

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Defining an Empath, or WHY DO I FEEL YOUR FEELS

Tru's Diary

Hello, creatures.

You may have noticed in my bio-thing (if you read it) that I mention something called an empath. You might be asking, “Tru, what the fudge are you even talking about here?” Well, here we go. This is my super speedy explanation of empaths, organized just for you.

Empathy vs. Empaths: All people feel empathy. It’s a natural, biological thing that allows us to relate to beings all around us. When someone is hurt, we say, “Oh, man, I’m so sorry!” and try to comfort them because we know how much their situation would suck or because we care about the person. Empaths have an extreme, amplified sense of empathy to the point of literally experiencing the emotions of others around them. For example, if someone is feeling depressed, a nearby empath will begin to also feel that way. They take on the emotions of others as though…

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