A New Mother’s Day

It took becoming a mom to teach me about unconditional love. Somewhere along the line, I became convinced no one could possibly love me. Even as a mom, I felt so undeserving of my family for so long. I would constantly push myself to insane extremes to be the best mom because the truth was I didn’t feel like I was good enough to be a mom. To be anything. This constant belief I was a failure, terrible person, etc etc plagued me. My 20s and early 30s were a constant battle of running to and from this belief. I had to prove to myself I deserved this, yet never succeeded. Happiness was in the next milestone.

Thoughts will dictate your reality. They become self fulfilling prophecies. I’ve ruined my life so many times in 2 decades. Yet that’s not true, because I’m here.

What kept me here was them. My kids. Because I knew deep down if I could love them as much as I do, then I cannot possibly be as awful as I think I am. It was learning to treat myself like I treat my kids that taught me to love myself. I don’t go around berating them for every mistake or lording decades of unforgiven crap. I ask them more often than not what can they learn or how can they make better choices. They’re not perfect and so neither can I be. If I screw up, if they screw up, it’s learning.

The most incredible freedom and peace come when you just stop hating yourself and calling it everything else. I wasn’t a perfectionist, I was a masochist. I wasn’t anything but self loathing. And deep down, I was terrified I was teaching them.

I could hate myself for everything, or I could see how much the kids have learned in our journey. They see love in action. That love is not perfect or happy all the time. Love is a never ending series of choices. It’s learning to be human together. Love is there no matter what.

The coolest feeling on this Mother’s Day is feeling the kids love for me, feeling so much love around me, and feeling love within me. I can’t honestly say I’ve felt this way before. There is a peace that I cannot describe. I don’t see my failures, I see growth, I see love and I feel joy. I know I set an example for them, and now I feel like I am a good example of loving yourself – maybe even to the point you finally just don’t give a shit what anyone has to say or think about you.

Being a mom is a journey to yourself. That might sound odd, but we all learn from our relationships and the most profound relationship anyone can experience is raising a child. There is a love that is so transformative, it changes everything. Suddenly the flaws, problems, mistakes, etc take on a whole new depth and real ness. Before, you were just screwing up your own life, now you could screw up someone else’s. I think so many of us try to be perfect, only to realize we’re losing our minds – worse yet – our souls. We forget who we are in light of all the things we want for them. We don’t want them to hurt like us or make our mistakes. Then, you start to see the reality of yourself. You see how much love you have, and hopefully for most you start giving yourself that love. Because you know you’re teaching them. And you want to teach them how to love themselves. And words aren’t good enough. I watch them grow as much as I see me grow. I teach them all the music that has changed my life, I show themAll the things that heal me. We all know letting things go is one of the biggest challenges in life, and no more poignant reminder exists than knowing you’ll have to let them go one day, as they become adults. And knowing I can’t make them happy, I can only teach by example, has let me let go of so much and just experience the beautiful journey of being mom. Everyone does their best everyday. And love and compassion are what makes us all our best. It took becoming a mom to teach me that, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.Being a mom is a journey to yourself. That might sound odd, but we all learn from our relationships and the most profound relationship anyone can experience is raising a child. There is a love that is so transformative, it changes everything. Suddenly the flaws, problems, mistakes, etc take on a whole new depth and real ness. Before, you were just screwing up your own life, now you could screw up someone else’s. I think so many of us try to be perfect, only to realize we’re losing our minds – worse yet – our souls. We forget who we are in light of all the things we want for them. We don’t want them to hurt like us or make our mistakes. Then, you start to see the reality of yourself. You see how much love you have, and hopefully for most you start giving yourself that love. Because you know you’re teaching them. And you want to teach them how to love themselves. And words aren’t good enough. I watch them grow as much as I see me grow. I teach them all the music that has changed my life, I show themAll the things that heal me. We all know letting things go is one of the biggest challenges in life, and no more poignant reminder exists than knowing you’ll have to let them go one day, as they become adults. And knowing I can’t make them happy, I can only teach by example, has let me let go of so much and just experience the beautiful journey of being mom. Everyone does their best everyday. And love and compassion are what makes us all our best. It took becoming a mom to teach me that, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.I am so incredibly blessed to have the best teachers in the world showing me the wisdom of life and love. My children. Being their mother is tough! Being patient is tough! Feeling overwhelmed and outnumbered is tough! Loving them no matter their behavior, choices, etc is easy. And the same is now true for me. So thank you to them, thank you to the people who are walking this journey with me. Thank you to Evan, who has been there for me in the darkest of times. Thank you to all the moms who came before me. Thank you to my mom.

Strong women raise strong families. Women teach and nurture their families and lead by their example of love. I’m so blessed to be surrounded by so many strong women, and if you don’t think that’s you, look around at all the lives you affect and remind yourself it is. And if you’re a dude, switch the genders 😊😉❤️

Music Monday – Nothing More

I live a weird life. I’ve realized over the past few months that I tend to fixate in things. On a weekly or more basis there’s one major focus and a few minor minor focuses. One week it could be cleaning, yoga, meditation, whatever. It makes the importance of not clinging to things – not even past minutes seem so much more important.

That is of course, unless it’s music. Music of every kind is so essential to everything. Not only that, but I tend to fixate on bands or songs. This sucks if you’re around me and prefer doing things like not listening to an album 12 times on repeat or for a month straight. Maybe, in fact, you would prefer to talk about things other than Maynard James Keenan, or Alan Watts, or….

The band that I fucking found that fucking combines Alan Fucking Watts with METAL!!!!!!!!!

Aaaah omg are you kidding me!!!! Shut up!!!! (Fangirling intensifies)

Anyway, yes: my life of fixation has its challenges and I’ve apparently ruined TOOL for my live-in Baby Daddy, but I’m super cute and I have awesome taste in music. (Fart sniffing commences)

Anyway, Nothing More is incredible. I have listened to all their albums on repeat for probably over a month now. Now, breaks were taken. (A Perfect Circle did release Eat the Elephant on 4/20)

The best ways of finding music are by coincidence. Nothing feels better than stumbling on heaven in a YouTube rabbit hole, or album radios on Spotify, or in this case: my obsession with Alan Watts prompting (read: also causing this man to slip to mild comas) Evan to direct me to a Pierre Robert interview (WMMR radio station in Philly) with Nothing More where they talk about them incorporating Watts’ lectures into their music.

It took me approximately 5 seconds to get these guys up on Spotify. I listened to The Stories We Tell Ourselves first. Wow. I feel like for all the babbling I am doing in this post, I can’t give justification to how much this album skullfucked me with joy. There. That’s the best I got. (If the band somehow reads this and wants this as a direct quote, I freely give permission)

If you don’t like Alan Watts (then you don’t like me!) or you just don’t know what I’m talking about, you’ve already stopped reading. Watts interspersed with these lyrics though? The lyrics and his speeches resonate so beautifully together it’s like a trip into reality. It’s a place where everything is beyond our words, because there’s no time to use these words.

Music has that effect on so many of us. It keeps us present, even if our past or future surges. Your mind can go so many places but the music has you anchored here. It has the power to heal you, or help you tap into a place you couldn’t go to otherwise.

This music is a philosophical ballet. There is so much emotion, wisdom, beauty, pain, and resonance. Everything on this album is inspired and provoking. The music is so incredible and the way they have Watts’ speeches lead you into the songs, the titles bring concepts of non-duality into focus.

I haven’t been able to stop listening for long. They’ve been helping me just stop kicking my own ass so much. Just living a little longer in the space between my thoughts. Remembering that I’m part of everything. Forgetting to tell myself stories more often.

There’s a raw beauty in their music. The philosophy in their lyrics is simple and relatable, which is what makes Watts such an incredible inspiration. His speeches and music go together in such a special way. For me, this is like a crack and peanut butter sandwich.

Metal is my first love, and although I’m a slutty music lover, she’s always been my first. Watts is, as I call him, my dead husband – which should disturb me that I’m so weird, but I’m just saying, he is the man.

Check these guys out. Their albums are amazing. And if the band ever reads this, thank you, from the bottom of my soul for this. You seriously have made a curly haired freak in PA a happy girl ❤️

These are from their second self-titled album

These are from The Stories We Tell Ourselves

The bass is sick:

https://youtu.be/T3E6AKDbI2Y

Music Monday – Widetrack III

Probably 2 years ago now, Ron Tippin – the lead singer of Widetrack, reached out to me on Twitter and asked me to check them out. I fell in love immediately. The music had such a profound emotional impact on me. It was an incredibly cool synchronicity – the lyrics helped me heal exactly what had been bothering me at that moment. I bought both albums right away and became a huge fan of this independent band from Michigan. I’ve been looking forward to hearing Widetrack III since, and it is being released on May 18th!

The cool thing is, I got to hear it before the release, and I wanted to gush about it a bit.

Ron’s voice has taken on an entirely new level of emotion in this album. You can feel how much growth he has undergone to create this album. As you listen to the lyrics of each song, I think anyone can relate to the journey in this album. Whether it’s a relationship, addiction (in some cases those two are the same, right?), or something else – this album hits you deep in the heart. Ron’s voice is the gate to this emotion, bringing you inward with his painful peace, as the instrumentation goad you further. I’m listening now and finding it difficult to type because I keep wanting to close my eyes and feel it.

Right now, the second track “Zero Hour” is playing. “What is enough to break yourself of this?” is part of the chorus. I’m loathe to give too much away or imprint my own experience on this, but holy shit – isn’t that the question we ask ourselves when we really get with ourselves? That’s it, isn’t it? Our zero hour? We come to this point of realizing something has to give, and that giving is usually our own bullshit.

The album builds from song to song. The questions and answers in each song make you feel deeply your own questions and answers. Widetrack has drawn you in with this album, by being a beautiful, musical mirror. Even if you listen casually, not analytically like I tend to do, you will be taken away. Each song builds to a crescendo. It’s as if the band decided to jump in a car and hit the gas until there was no car left. The album will not let go – I wanted to hear the next song immediately. Each song feeds into each other emotionally and musically with Ron’s voice just pulling you around like a puppet as he shows you the stage of his own insanity.

I cannot pick a favorite song, because each seems to have its own chord within my heart being plucked. I’m not even trying to be pretty or metaphorical on this, I’m just that into it. After I finished the album the first time, I could see my own path, my own confusion, and my own bullshit clearly. I have said to Ron a few times, “Dude, it’s like you took a walk around my broken heart and jotted notes.” I used to think my painful journeys were so unique and dear to me, but I’ve realized that we all carry invisible scars and I am unique like everyone else. When you connect with music like this, there is a realization that you are not alone. This album is WHY I love music as much as I do. It is my therapy, it is my muse, it is my everything. It’s transcendental. That is the best word I can use to describe this album.

These lyrics tell the tale of transcendence, growth, beauty, pain, and the journey through it. The album itself is a journey. I hear a man tortured in his own heart, creating pain in the world around him, to come to a realization he is the source of it all. In all of this, I see the woman who has done the same to herself. An album made me feel not alone, and in that, there is so much peace and healing, to the point of feeling carried away by song.

While the band may or may not have drawn from their own lives to create this, it is relatable from song to song, note to note. I am always heavy on vocals, so forgive me if I tend to focus too much on songs and lyrics, because the guitars and drums truly push you into another place. The synergy of each song and the album as a whole is incredible.

I hope you check these guys out. They’re talented, to say the least, but they are a very different kind of band. Ron’s son, Zach, is the bassist. He is 14 years old and his presence in the band has changed them profoundly. There is a new rawness and depth to everything. How cool is it to play music with your son? It’s like hearing a dream come true. I find all of their music so easily relatable, and the band is so approachable and interactive. I think connecting with Widetrack’s music is like connecting with best friends you did not know you have. You can check them out on their WebsiteFacebookYouTubeTwitter, and Spotify. If you sign up for their newsletter, you can check out some songs for free, too.

 

What dreams may come

I had a dream last night that I was dating Meatloaf (the singer, not Sunday dinner) and I decided it wasn’t working out, so I broke it off. He was stalking me through Whole Foods, so I called a security guard to assist me and my

Organic purchases to safety to the hotel I was living in. Meatloaf proceeded to follow me in a white camaro singing and screaming at me through his window. I raced to my hotel room with my Whole Foods purchases and he flew up to my window in a helicopter with a megaphone begging me to take him back. Somehow, he had Spider-Man abilities and shot a web to my window and climbed down the building saying he’d never forget me.

Apparently, he would do anything for love, but I won’t do that….

The moral of the story?

Don’t eat veggie soup at 10:00. Wtf?!?!?!

🤣🤪😯

This marks the third bizarre celebrity dream. I have also had a relationship with Corey Feldman where we fought on a golf cart in a baseball field and I exposed a fake reality show dating game and Ben Mendelssohn aka Danny from bloodline. In that dream, I didn’t know his name and kept calling him Danny and apologizing for not knowing his name as we flew around in his airplane car.

Say no to drugs, children. (And veggie soup?)

Frantic is the New Calm

Everything is chaotic and frantic. Busy-ness is held in esteem and stillness is viewed as laziness. For over a year, I have not worked because I am on disability and every day, I give myself a mental barrage of why I suck for how little I am doing. I am not accustomed to life like this. I am accustomed to jam-packed schedules. Frankly, I feel best when I am racing around like a lunatic because I feel “productive”.

Yet, I’m not productive. I’m running around like a lunatic. Sure, I’m accomplishing things, but I’m not producing. Sure, I’m doing things, but I’m not living. To live is to experience. How much do any of us actually experience on a given day? How often do we look around and experience our lives versus doing our lives?

I tend to think in terms of my obituary. Will any of the stuff I frenetically do even remotely go into the paragraph that sums my life? My job most likely won’t even be mentioned. What accomplishments will I even have? Happily, I think on how all these problems that I think are so huge and need so much fixing will also die with me, so I stop stressing about them. My life will be represented by a date – date. What fills the dash?Realistically, the people I am surrounded by will go into my obituary. I will be a “loving mother, beloved daughter, and loving wife (maybe)” But will have actually lived those words? Will you?

How often do we even experience the people around us? Do we experience life and love with them? Do any of us actually understand the meaning of love? We all say it a lot, but do we live it?

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Aren’t life and love synonyms? Our grammar has limited our understanding of both because they have both been filed as nouns, not verbs. Both life and love are experience and action. Yet, how do our actions contribute to either? As we jam pack our schedules, do we create space and time for life or love?

For most of us, we believe love is the opposite of hate. I disagree. Apathy is the opposite of love. Apathy is how most of us exist. How do you feel when you hear birds singing? How do you feel when your children are talking to you when you are trying to check Facebook? How do you feel when you are eating dinner quickly to get to the next thing? Apathy pervades our consciousness more than any other emotion.

It is not intentional; it is worse: it is a byproduct of our refusal to experience life. In our incessant need to get to the future, we lose the here and now. Everything is a building block to some eventual reality where happiness will be. Everything is a means of escaping whatever reality we do not like. Apathy is a relief from misery, which is the more common reality for most of us. Misery is so commonplace now, it feels like happiness. Is it really happy to not hear birds singing? Is it really happy to not have conversations with people where you hear what they say and respond? Is it really happy to be doing as many things as possible at once?

A computer runs multiple processes, and we have created ourselves into the best damn computers in the world. We are more robotic than human. We go from one prompt or command to the other, with no experience of either. It is a fear of idleness that pushes us to constant extremes. We have to have something to show for our lives. We have to do something. We have to be something.

What if the purpose of life is to learn how to live? What if the purpose of life is to learn how to love? If we honestly look at our lives to this point, do either hold true? Are we beloved and loving nouns, or are we dynamic verbs of experience with ourselves and those we say we love?

Until a year or so ago, I operated under the belief I would die and go to heaven and THEN it would all make sense and be better. Then, I came to wonder if earth is heaven. The Buddha sat under a mangrove tree and achieved enlightenment/nirvana, which was right here on earth. Jesus did not say we had to die to get to heaven, he said we had to become like children to know heaven. The Hindi view of life is that we are all gods playing life. No one is pointing up in these explanations. Each is pointing in.

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Each is pointing us to love and innocence, yet even our kids are overwhelmed schedule-wise. They are smaller versions of adults now and not in a good way. Yet, when you watch a child play, you can see the wisdom of aeons. There is no tomorrow or yesterday as they drive a car and smash it into whatever imaginary villain they’ve created. Their imagination is unfettered, and so too, are they. The only fetters that exist for our children are the ones we “wise” adults place on them. All that we have in this life came from imagination. Every tangible object in our existence came from someone’s mind and imagination. The very screens most of us are addicted to lived in Steve Jobs’ mind.

When was the last time we sat and imagined? When was the last time we were productive in the sense of producing/creating? When was the last time we indulged a dream as more than “childish crap”, ignoring the fact that the very man many kill, fight, argue, and hate in His name told us to do the childish “crap”? It’s kind of funny, isn’t it?

We all think of ourselves as wise because we are grown-ups, because we have more years than kids, yet what do we have to show for those years? Anything I created outside of this blog was to make someone else richer or make someone else’s dreams come true. It certainly didn’t make a lick of mine come true.  But my dream of being a writer was silly and unrealistic. We ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, and smile somewhat condescendingly because we all know the truth is we’re going to ruin these kids dreams just like we ruined our own.

It’s not our fault, look how busy life is. How can any of us have time to dream? We have to live! We have bills to pay! We have to make money to survive! We have to work 40+ hours a week to (most of us) exist in an asston of debt, rarely have fun, and rinse and repeat daily. We may go to church and hope for a better reality after we die, or attempt to live as Christians or Buddhists or whatever now, while we miss loving and living. We follow the rules, not understanding they were given to us as guides to help us find life and love at the exact moment of now. Not a minute from now, or years from now, or after our death, it is wherever you are reading this as you read it.

The painful truth we all know deep in the back of our minds, as we race around avoiding it is that it IS our faults. We each created the life we live, because consciously or unconsciously, we create our lives. It is through living our dreams that we can consciously create happiness, but most of us ignore that and blame everything else for our own created misery and imbalance.

It is difficult to realize how imbalanced we are because it is rare for us to be balanced. If we knew what it felt to be balanced, we would not want to feel any other way. The Pythagorean definition of music is “A Perfect Union of Contrary Things”. The creativity and flow of music are balanced by the harmonic precision of each note, adhering to a time and beat, that was created by years of discipline and practice (or autotune). We have two sides of our brains: Logic centered left, and creative centered right. In order to be balanced, both must be utilized, but most of us exist solely in left analysis with all right creativity dismissed as childish crap.

Is there anything more beautiful than a good song at the right moment? Is there anything more beautiful than the spontaneity of a laugh? How often do we allow that experience to permeate our being? The opposite of action would be inaction, and the opposite of busy would be idle. When do we bring these opposites in our reality? Why do we view these opposites with scorn and dismay? Vacations must be earned. Downtime must be earned. We teach this to our children now, and then we wonder why mental illness and diagnoses on the autistic spectrum are rising at alarming rates. How many kids do we know with ADHD? We have to medicate our kids to get them to conform to this sick reality we have all created for ourselves. Can any of us sit still for 8 hours straight? Most of us can’t even do one task at a time anymore, and we are lauded for our multitasking abilities.

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How can we experience anything when we are so busy doing everything? How can we experience balance when being imbalanced is required to survive?

It is time for all of us to make serious changes, and it involves doing less and being more. As Lao Tzu said,

“You should meditate 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy. In that case, meditate 1 hour.”

It is time for the opposite of frantic to come back into our lives, and it is time to live and love life the way we were intended to, as grown-up children. Fully capable of experiencing and appreciating the gift we have in every moment.

 

Teaching Fish to Swim

Our thoughts, our emotions, and the people in our lives have literally no impact on happiness. We think they do. We say they do. This is an illusion. If we make our happiness contingent on something, we will never be happy. “If I think less I will be happy” – no. We are already happy. And once we see this, feel this, and acknowledge this, thoughts will
be less of a bother. We all go backwards. We think if we do X, then y(happiness) will come. It’s not how it works. Happiness is always x, and y will be whatever y is.

We place conditions on happiness and quite Literally drive ourselves insane. Our thoughts will never cease through our efforts. If we exert effort to cease thought, we’ve successfully created more thoughts. There is no such thing as thinking thoughts away. It’s like beating water to make the waves calm. If we attempt to fight flee or watch thoughts
always be there. It is what it is. We can allow them to pass like clouds in a sky. Or we can engage with them which is what many do. People and busy-ness can serve to distract from emotions and thoughts, but there is no greater distraction then thinking we need anything to be happy.

Mindfulness is not “no thought” it’s awareness. Awareness is open and non analytical. We see a tree and it is a tree. We don’t need to judge the trees goodness badness or aesthetics. It’s just a tree. This is how it can be with life. We don’t need to judge a person’s qualities or labels. We can just be aware. Nothing can distract from Awareness. Awareness is all of us. It’s all part of experience. Experience is the only purpose of Life.

Judging experience is a distraction. People, TV, radio are not bad nor is distraction meant to be a bad word. It means we can lose our focus on awareness by mis-identifying ourselves as other, as emotion, as thought. We forget we are responsible for ourselves and suddenly another person’s emotion becomes a burden. This is Not So. Another person’s happiness, anger, sadness is theirs and theirs alone. It has nothing to do with us. We cannot make another happy no more than we can breathe for them.

The great paradox for most: Don’t change. Don’t fix. Don’t do.

Allow. Allow. Allow.

The observer changes nothing; just observes. By observation alone, change occurs. All that anyone could desire or want to fix will happen organically without force without effort if it is allowed.

The trap of spirituality is the desire to change, the desire to grow, the desire to know. We all set on a path with a need to stop some form
of suffering without seeing we have always been on this path and that very suffering was necessary for us to grow. Change will come if it’s just allowed. A snake doesn’t force himself
out of his skin. He sheds when it is time to shed just like Ram Dass has said.

The Buddha spoke of not even seeking the fruit of karma. Desiring nothing. Karma is not a celestial scorekeeper of rights and wrong. It’s not a bitch. It’s not a payback. Karma is action. The fruit of karma is the result of action. If practicing yoga is karma, my lovely butt is a fruit, but I don’t practice for a butt. I practice to practice. I read to read. Whatever changes occur or knowledge I absorb I do. It will apply when needed. I don’t change, I don’t plan change. My diet is changing because it’s changing. I’ve cut almost all meat out. It wasn’t planned or structured. Just happened.

That’s how change happens truly. We just think we do it. None of our thoughts do anything. None of us do anything. We’re all guided along our path. We just think it is the other way around.

I think that’s what is so difficult to grasp. Nothing changes of our volition or will or
effort. All you do is become aware of that which has always been so all along. Like a fish learning what water is. The fish has always been in water, spending his life seeking water. The fish can only become aware of water, the water did not change. The fish did not change. The fish now sees the water supports it and is the very means he swims. Awareness and experience.

That’s us.

First World Problems

With this Nor’easter supposedly coming through, I’m really excited to get gardening. I love the site of fresh green shoots of hyacinths bedazzled with old snow. All this talk of freezing rain and heavy snow has me thinking of getting my hands muddy.

There is a dark cloud looming over these picturesque visions. I am completely out of eggs and almost out of milk. This is a Pennsylvanian’s worst nightmare. A French toast-less blizzard.

For me, I’m generally irritated because I WILL go buy milk and eggs before a storm because my coffee don’t get drank without milk, and snow doesn’t fall without baking cookies. These are priorities!

I’m a really bizarre baker – in that I only bake in inclement weather. Is it your birthday? Enjoy this delicious store bought cake. Is it a polite and classy gesture required event? Entemann’s raspberry crumb danish twist thing may not say much, but it tastes of what I’d imagine the nectar of the gods to be. Is hurricane Sandy destroying the East Coast? Well you better believe Zucchini Bread, Pumpkin Zucchini Bread, Banana bread and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are coming out of my kitchen! This storm has a 100% chance of sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies if I can survive the dairy aisle gauntlet unscathed.

It’s inevitable. I cannot explain the compulsion, nor do I mind stuffing my face with chocolate chip cookies while I get snowed in. It’s genius, if you ask me. It’s terrible, if you ask my pants. (That’s a lie, my pajamas love me no matter how many cookies I eat)

Now, I did make a box batch of brownies for my dad’s birthday on Friday and I attempted to get classy and make ganache. I screwed up by not allowing enough time to chill the ganache, and by attempting to be classy on a sunny day. (I only make completely homemade brownies during blizzards, duh) I was also in the middle of making corned beef with cabbage and potatoes as well as sauerkraut in another pot. I wanted my dad to have a Reuben or corned beef and cabbage for his birthday.

As the brownies weren’t coming out right, I was simultaneously convinced my corned beef was tough and my brownies were burnt. I was so irritated with myself, and felt like a completely useless asshat. BUT, then I reminded myself it is actually the thought that counts and maybe I should chill along with the ganache. (Literally my new favorite word)

Once I chilled out (unlike my ganache), I went to my parents and my dad told me my corned beef was awesome. The next day, I ate a brownie and it was the best ganache I have ever had. I literally concocted two abysmal failures in my brain. Neither actually happened or existed. Aww, look how metaphorical cooking can be!

I stopped the drama by making myself laugh at myself. My mom and I tried to bake a cake for my dad forever ago. It was this hamburger cake. It was the most depressing impersonation of a hamburger. I’m talking worse than McDonald’s. It tasted like sugar died. I was ranting to my mom about my illusory failed meals saying my dad choked down our hamburger cake he can choke down my corned beef. It was enough of a chuckle to make me stop the stories.

As the first day of spring approaches, with the traditional raging nor’easter, I’ll hear the chirping birds of wind, see the green tufts of snow, feel the warm kiss of freezing rain, and I will be celebrating new beginnings. New beginnings always start at the end. Now that winter is ending, I’ll hopefully not lose power and bake those cookies. Hell, I’ve gotten better at baking thanks to Pennsylvania’s bizarre weather and my compulsively storm infused sweet tooth. I’ve also gotten better at laughing through the storms – literal or metaphorical.

I had always thought my problems were menial in the face of others, but then I realized my first world problems would have been third world problems to Siddhartha Gautama, a former prince turned Buddha. A man who was waited on hand and foot taught of suffering, because suffering is a gift we all give each other regardless of demographic or storm baking proclivities

So….I just cannot believe I have to go to the store tomorrow. But I appreciate that I can. #blessed

Rest In Peace Tripp-a-Doo

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I wrote this on my Facebook, and I’m putting it everywhere. There’s so many people who loved and followed this family, and I think it’s a collective pain, though pales in comparison to what Stacey and Bill and so many parents have and are experiencing. I have followed the story of Tripp, Stacey, and Bill for years. They have been such a source if inspiration and love for me to see. I remember donating to these same charities as I was in recovery before. I’m so sad to hear of Tripp’s passing, and I don’t want to send only prayers when I can help in any small way.

I just figure anything to shed some light on dark days is worth it. I’m going to hug my kids a little tighter today.

Tripp Halstead/Team Boom Donations

Sunshine On A Ranney Day

Ride To Give

Also my local food bank: Pennridge FISH

 

Lies Are Rarely Intentional

Words are so powerful and paradoxically completely worthless. We give all of the power to the words but fail to see if we give them power, we can take them away. In truth, almost every word we share with ourselves and each other is a lie. I’d like to play a game, shall we?

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About 2 years ago, I climbed a mountain for the first time. There are two important facts you should know: I am terrified, and I mean out of my mind terrified, of heights. I was also wearing heeled boots. I was not expecting to climb a mountain. My boyfriend at the time and his friends decided to climb a mountain, and I tagged along. In my boots with the heels, not fur. I was out of my mind terrified. Visions of sprained/broken ankles danced through my head. I could feel my lungs tightening as a panic attack started creeping on me – both because I was short of breath (I’m a heavy smoker) and because I was going up high (I have literally had a panic attack going up a slip and slide at a carnival. Ask me about the time I climbed the Brigantine Lighthouse!) I focused on my feet with Tetris-like precision. Every rock formation and my foot were precious combinations I was not going to screw up. When I got to the top of the mountain, the scene was breathtaking. The sky was a combination of pink, and blue, and orange. I’ve never seen or felt anything like it. I had never hiked before, either. My enjoyment was only marred by my fear of going back down the mountain and breaking my ankle. I forced myself to sit on the rocks and quietly take in the scene. My purpose in climbing the mountain, if I’m honest, was trying to impress my boyfriend. I remember him looking back at me as we climbed, and saying, “She can do it, she’s a fucking bad ass.” I remember the smile on his face and for the first time in a long time, a rush of feeling like someone believed in me. I think his words had helped me climb higher than my fear. Looking back now, I climbed higher than my fear.

Sounds great, right? I write well, I think.

Let’s try this:

I climbed a mountain in heeled boots. I thought I was going to break my ankle, and I could not believe how stupid and irresponsible I was. The entire time I climbed, all I could see was 2 dudes carrying me down a mountain with a broken ankle. Visions of all the other times I’ve sprained my ankle by the sheer act of walking were flashing through my head. Strangely, all I could see was Samuel L. Jackson as Mr. Glass with my face on his body. My boyfriend was being a dickhead that day. He had been giving me attitude all day, and even after we climbed, he bought all of his friends a banana but me. I don’t know why that bothered me, its’ a 33 cent banana, but it really kind of hurt me. He had told me before I met his friends not to “be weird” so that told me to just “be quiet”. He finally acknowledged that a) I existed and b) I was climbing not too shabbily for a woman wearing heeled boots. When I got up to the top of the mountain, my brain went silent because it was so beautiful. I was still scared to climb down especially because I knew the sun was setting, and darkness with heeled boots felt more like suicide in fancy footwear. As I went down the mountain, I felt confused. I couldn’t understand why my boyfriend was the way he was, why I put up with how he was, and so on. Fortunately, I was so terrified of breaking my ankles, I forced myself to focus on my footing, and in doing that, I experienced quiet mind for the first time.

Or this:

I am equally an idiot and a jackass who climbed a mountain in heeled boots. Looking back, it was one of the craziest and coolest things I ever did. It started a love for hiking that I never had, and it was too beautiful to describe.

We put so much weight into the noise of words and emotion, but the reality & truth is this:

All of these stories are lies of omission because I cannot give you the full story. My memories and words are being placed to align (intentionally or unintentionally) with the emotion. This is how we all communicate. None of my words adequately convey how beautiful it was up there. None of my words even adequately convey how I felt. If I close my eyes, I can see it and feel it as clearly as if I was there.

If we live purely in the realm of our thoughts and words, we omit reality. I don’t think anything can be more harmful than missing our reality. It does not mean coming up with better words to describe a situation. It means being fully present to experience it. Your focus (awareness/consciousness) dictates your reality. When we experience the world, we do not need words for it. Anything that is put into words is inherently a lie of omission.

Try this for yourself. If you think back on something you did that was hard/challenging/sucked, depending on how you speak to yourself or others about it, will determine your emotions on it. From paragraph to paragraph, the same experience changes with the emotion we express. If you focus on any positive in a memory, the memory will have a pleasant association, just like a word. Look at how different my ex-boyfriend and I seem? Yet both are equally true, only what I shared and how I shared it changed.

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Definitions, connotations, and context will always change depending on who is hearing it. Context and connotation mean something different to every person, regardless of what Websters tells us. People who are “literally dying” are a great example. We don’t even use words according to their definitions anymore.

download (2)My favorite definition of a metaphor is “a beautiful lie” (hmm…feels like I used that somewhere) Literally every word you use is a metaphor for your existence. You are using metaphors with every syllable. The key to being happiness is not to confuse metaphors with the point.

In either way, a metaphor and words are grammatical and literary devices. We confuse our reality with grammatical and literary devices, making ourselves hapless victims of an unseen author instead of being our own authors.

Actions and experience are all we have in this life. By choosing our words and memories, we can turn any experience into a lesson or an opportunity for growth. By seeing how powerless words and memories are, we can see nothing in this life is actually bad. That is an illusion of our thoughts.

It doesn’t matter how I describe it because climbing a mountain in heels made me see I can climb mountains on my couch with a laptop. I can climb anything anywhere, but in the future, I will be more mindful of my footwear. I hope this game shows you a deeper understanding of the game of life and the games we play with ourselves. Don’t confuse reality with metaphors, and just climb.

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To Be or Not to Be: I Am Not Depression

Our brains like to talk. Thinking is talking to yourself. If you’ve never looked at it that way, congratulations and welcome to realizing you are crazy like the rest of us. Every thought you make is really a judgement. “I like that boulder”, “That smells funny”, “Where are my keys?” These experiences happen without you thinking, you just like to talk about it to yourself. If you said your thoughts out loud all of the time, people would think you are crazy. Since you are “not crazy”, and keep them to yourself, you simply converse with yourself judging away at every little thing: most especially yourself. Judgement is one of the most toxic things for our minds, whether or not you are mentally “ill”.

Diagnoses are descriptions, not definitions. Diagnoses are statistical in nature, people are not. Does a diagnosis affect your life? Absolutely! Any diagnosis is likely going to call for a modification – diabetes causes modifications in diet, exercise and medication. Depression calls for the same. It does not mean, however, that anyone is less than or greater than another due to a presence or lack of diagnosis. Nor does it necessarily impact your entire life. Those are judgements we all make that affect ourselves and those around us greatly.

There is a world of difference between “I have depression” and “I am depressed”. Do you not believe two words can have such a profound impact? “You are a shithead” versus “You are frustrating me” How is your emotional response? How are your thoughts?

When “I am depressed” becomes an internal monologue, you are powerless and in the grasp of depression. It will guide thoughts and actions towards depression. The brain will always support thoughts. If you wake up saying, “I am going to have a bad day, ” you will inevitably find no end of reasons to have a bad day. This is the same as thinking “I am depressed”. In identifying with a diagnosis, the brain will support the diagnosis and find more depression.

When “I have depression” becomes an inner monologue, there is a space between you and depression. Depression is a transient state. It is not forever, although the brain in this state will lead you to believe it is. In all reality, when depression occurs, it is difficult to even realize depression is occurring. Thoughts are often ruminating and circling all of the reasons for misery and all of the reasons you are the cause of your misery. How does reinforcing having depression and being depression change this?

It is easier to see the negative thought patterns as opposed to being the negative thought patterns. It becomes easier to question yourself. “Is it really true that my children would be better off without me? Who would cook them spaghetti?” Questioning thoughts is easier when you understand your thoughts are not reality. It is also easier to communicate your symptoms without judgement. “Today I struggled to get out of bed because of depression” as opposed to “Today I was a lazy sack of shit who did not get out of bed.”

Each of our minds is exquisitely unique different mechanisms. It is not often we get into convos about what our thoughts are really like, and I would propose if we did, there would be far more similarities than differences: regardless of diagnosis. I do not think for a second a woman without depression does not mentally lambast herself for everything she does at least briefly. I do not think for a second anyone does not have thoughts that make them confused and uncomfortable. Yet, a diagnosis of depression will make my brain more suspect than someone who lacks one. Suddenly, all of me is ill/crazy (even the language: mentally ill!) The suffering comes from the thoughts, not the person, regardless of diagnosis.

I have made changes in diet, exercise, seeing a psychiatrist, taking medication, etc. Journaling, meditating, and practicing yoga are all lifesavers. I don’t do any of those things because I am depressed, I do them because I enjoy them or they support me.  They also alleviate symptoms of depression. All of the things that make my life harder during bouts of depression are symptoms: not me. When my thoughts tell me everyone would be better off without me, I can identify a symptom of depression, as opposed to me being depressed. Why? Because I question my thoughts. I know my thoughts are not me, and I do not allow them to run me around by the nose. This is true regardless of diagnosis.

I find the easiest way to deal with having depression is not taking it so seriously. (Get the pitchforks!) If I am depressed, it’s my focus. Why in the hell do I want that to focus on? Even if I focus on “beating” depression, uh… that’s a part of my brain, so I am essentially “beating” myself? I don’t feel like going to war with me, I have enough problems.

When depression becomes a description as opposed to a definition, there is a lot more space to see the light in the all-consuming tunnel when it comes. I’ve stopped fearing depression. Depression used to rob the sun from my skies and the wind from my sails. Happiness could be robbed at the thought of “Oh crap, I’m going to crash!” because what goes up must come down.

Happiness is my ever-present state. Depression is a cloud in the sky of me. There are lots of clouds in the sky of me, some are ugly and shitty and some are quite lovely. Not a single one of them define me. I am boundless and limitless. When I see depression as a cloud in my sky, I can make fun of it. I can make fun of myself. I don’t take any of this seriously because none of it is me. Who cares? I no longer “fight” for stability, as I am under no obligation to be who I was five minutes ago let alone five years ago. Change is good, healthy, normal and aside from death and taxes: the only thing you can expect in this life. This is great when it comes to having a bout of depression. It will go away. If you engage with the thoughts and identify yourself as them, that’s you now. You perpetually judging you which makes you crazy like everyone else either way.

It’s very difficult to engage in ruminating and self-destructive thought patterns when you generally disregard everything your brain has to say. It is, after all, a chattering monkey that we all have. If you give power to depression, it will have power over you. It is the same power as a craving for pasta. Have you ever had a food craving that seemed to take over your being? The more you engage with pasta-based thoughts, the more you want it. That power comes in your thoughts and words and how you communicate with or about yourself.  Am I comparing depression to spaghetti? I suppose.Why be serious?

Depression is a transient state, even when it does not feel like it. I have had bouts that have lasted for months. It is always worse if I allow it to consume me by thinking it is me.  You can substitute depression with literally any other word and it still remains true. The judgements and thoughts are the only thing that will change. It makes it easier when I inevitably am judged for having depression because I am not depression. It makes it easier to not judge myself. I just have depression. Our thoughts and judgement create more misery than anything else, so with or without depression: watch those and you will find the most transformation. Depression sucks, and I would not wish it on anyone, but it’s something I have. Along, apparently, with a hankering for pasta.

And here’s some tips!

Thanks for reading, I would love to hear thoughts and comments, although I would read them and not hear them, but hey. If you want to grab spaghetti, let me know 😉 Share away if you found it helpful, and all of the other good blog-ly things. 

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