Awakening the Goddess Within

I am pleased to share my newest poem, Awakening the Goddess Within.  The YouTube link takes you to the video with images and my voice recording. Please check it out and subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more original content.

I’ve hated my poor body for as long as I can think

I stared into this mirror wishing my fat would shrink

Diets upon diets, but they just called me fat

Until I started starving, feeling strong though I was weak

I’d jam my fingers down my aching throat

Retch burns as it burst forth

Sobbing in the toilet

Too sick to see my worth

Retching until bleeding and losing clumps of hair

But still it begged the question:

Is this life worth more than death?

I couldn’t stand to see me naked

Slivered silver stretch marked flesh

All I saw were rolls and numbers, shadowing the love

I tortured this poor body

With cuts, with men, with hate

Smiling when I’m starving

Puking when I ate

They insisted I must lose it

But all I heard was hate

I sacrificed my mind

My smiles

And my time

When they said to lose it, I sacrificed myself

When they said to lose it, there was no thought for health

Slivered silver knife wounds slice

Torturing the pounds and sense of self

For the sweetness of changing scales

Irrelevant extras vs larges

Even though I am no fool

If they want you to feel sexy, I could be a 12

But just two racks over, 18 and purging hell

The hatred coursed inside of me

A black beast upon my soul

I found those who could feed me

The pain I craved to know

If you were fool enough to love me,

I’d be sure to make you change

I love you could never fulfill me

When I hate you is what I crave

It wasn’t until I started seeing

The goddess here inside

Standing naked and resplendent

A Venus in her shell

Aphrodite’s tears are blood red

As so many of us know

They tell you you’re unworthy

They tell you to lose those pounds

They tell you that some makeup

Is the cure to all your frowns

They tell you to win the guy now

They tell you to keep him close

They tell you all the ways to hate you

Because they want you on your toes

You need to consume their fixes

Unworthy little hoes

It wasn’t until I saw the sacred

Silver slivers of a tiger

Who’s been to war in me

The scarred skin of a soldier

When the treaty begged for peace

This body has created life now

My body nurtured four

They just sat in judgement

Some called me a fucking whore

Because I just can’t win here

And I no longer care

I’m not here to please them

And I won’t make my heaven hell

I came play and love here

Because I am the goddess inside

I am naked in the moonlight

Silver slivers of my soul

Transcendence of Selene,

Transforming silver into gold

I am one with love and nurture

I am nature’s warrior soul

I’m in love with crown to root here

I cannot please them worth a damn

They say to hide away here

So I flay my soul more bare

I shine brightest in my darkness

Because I won the war in me here

And I no longer have a care

Enjoying my work? Is it resonating? Check out my other poem, Synchronicity. Please share, and connect with me across Social media via the below links:

Daina (OurBeautifulLies)- WordPress, My personal FB, OBL Blog Page on Facebook, Twitter, InstagramYouTube Channel

A Tale of Synchronicity (Part 1)

If synchronicity is an unfamiliar term, I’ll summarize it like this: seemingly unconnected events that work together to put you in the best (or worst) place possible. Carl Jung said, “Synchronicity is an ever present reality for those who have eyes to see” For me, it has always been: everything happens for a reason. Synchronicity taught me to come away from the illusion of instant gratification and trust everything serves to bring me where I’m supposed to be, even if it makes absolutely no sense at the time. It makes it easier for me to relax and be present in the moment. Synchronicity is often talked about it relation to repeating numbers, probably the most popular one is 11:11

There is no end to possibility when you trust that all is well. I could not say that until I finally stopped doubting myself – I was seeing repeating numbers constantly and literally asking out loud “What the hell could possibly be okay, I’m a mess!!!!” and it wasn’t until I accepted I do not know better than the universe, and if She’s telling me everything’s okay, I should say thank you. Once that click happened, every piece of the puzzle I will attempt to tell fell into place within months. This story is a series of dominoes, with even more connections I am leaving out for the sake of clarity and brevity.

Leah Painting

Did you ever meet someone and have a feeling they are meant to be in your life? I have always held a belief that everyone I meet is for a purpose because I believe everything in life happens for a reason. I learned this when 19 and placed my first daughter with her adoptive parents. I understood the pain was worth it, because if I had not dated her biological father, I would never have met my husband and had my three children. I have always been able to find the bright side of life, so to speak, and I have always found when I sought it, I would find it rather quickly.

That was until I met a man named Jake. I cannot explain why I felt the way I did about him, or why I allowed the relationship to become what it was. He somehow a catalyst to me going on a journey of looking harshly at myself in the mirror, healing my traumas, battling my demons, whatever term you’d like to use. I finally started writing again after giving up on myself, I stopped killing myself with alcohol and eating disorders, allowing myself to be used by men, and on and on. I started, instead, practicing yoga, meditation, journaling, and on and on. The pain of unrequited love is exquisite. It pushes you to darkness you did not know existed. There are so many songs and works of art distilled from the place of a broken heart. Sometimes I would joke my emotional poetry about him alone was worth the price of admission.

I’ve spent two and a half years becoming myself. After my life shattered and I went to the mental hospital again, I tried to rebuild the pieces. I scrapped that and decided to just be who I wanted to be, instead of what everyone had told me I should be. I think that is a journey we all must go on. Maybe not to the extremes I had to go to, but I’m stubborn. I really liked being miserable, clearly. I’ve always been grateful to him for that.

The pain of Jake helped me become who I am, but I struggled with accepting that as closure. I could not get over this dude, it was like MRSA. It would get a little better, then come back with more crap. I spent 2 years pining for a man who literally told me over and over he did not love me. I spent 2 years begging, messaging, stalking?, a dude that blocked me, rejected me, etc. But this taught me how pain and beauty are an inseparable process. Pain teaches you to appreciate the beauty, and beauty heals the pain.

This week, the pain taught me to appreciate the beauty when this journey and chapter came to a close. I had met a woman named Rachel through Jake. I kept in touch with her since  because the second I met her, I knew she was special. Have you ever had that? Where you just know this person is meaningful? We barely saw each other – 2 times since! But, she stayed in my heart and mind thanks to Facebook. She posted an incredible mural earlier this year. My friend Claudine, who owns Shanteel Yoga Studio, mentioned she wanted a mural, so I did not hesitate to recommend Rachel.

This is Rachel’s first mural. If you don’t see why I recommended her immediately and why Claudine hired her immediately, please get your eyes checked. It’s almost impossible to believe she and Leah could outdo this!

A few months later, Rachel and her friend Leah began work on one of the most beautiful and inspiring pieces of art I have ever seen. When I think of synchronicity, I think of stars aligning. It’s a series of events that put you in a place you are meant to be. In this instance, Jake put me in a place to meet two women who created a masterpiece, and changed my life for the better. The three of us – Rachel, Leah, and I – spent the week of the mural creation bonding,  inspiring, and changing each other’s lives. I am not exaggerating when I say, I’d go through this all over again for this project, and to meet these women. The pain I have overcome makes the appreciation of the sweetness, beauty, and magic that much more pleasant.

I keep thinking this is only the beginning. This mural came from a place of healing, opening our hearts, and expressing our souls. The only way this is possible is from synchronicity. I went from doubting myself, doubting my belief in how the world works, to seeing I was being impatient. Everything happens in the time it must. There were so many pieces of this puzzle that had to fall in place. Shanteel opening, Rachel painting, Leah and Rachel meeting, and me recommending them. The synchronicity of these events alone is a magnificent work of art, and my words don’t do it justice. The mural they created, the poetry it is inspiring, the healing, and the loving connections and community this is building is transcendent. A chance meeting while I was on a bad date began a  journey towards immortality. Leah, Rachel and I put our souls in the mural. In art and love, we are eternal.

This story taught me the greatest lessons: patience, trust, but most importantly: to appreciate the ever present reality of synchronicity – this week gave us all eyes to see it.

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Please follow along as I develop this story further. This is one tiny piece of the mural, a silly selfie of me (glasses) and my two new sisters.  We will all be unveiling more pictures across our social media in the coming days. They say a picture says a thousand words, but I say this one has only one word: Joy! Please follow us on this amazing journey by following these links and experiencing beautiful art:

Daina (OurBeautifulLies)- WordPress, My personal FBOBL Blog Page on FacebookTwitterInstagram

Rachel – Instagram

Leah – Instagram, Facebook

If you are nearby, please experience: Shanteel Yoga Sanctuary – Website, Facebook

Marketing Art

The reason why you are struggling in your dream is not because of external forces. It’s because of a simple, logical one word answer: you. You lack marketing. You’re not marketing yourself – to yourself. How you speak and how you interact with the world is your brand, and your number one customer is you. Everyone else will follow your lead.

Coke does not tell you that they can clean a toilet bowl with their product. It’s true, but they don’t advertise that. They make you lick your lips when they talk about how badly you want that Coke and how much better you feel. They do not tell you how much sugar or calories it contains.

Are you following me? If you are advertising this shit to yourself, you will not hire yourself, you will not purchase from yourself, you will not read your poem, blog, article, buy a painting, get a tarot reading. Why would you? Why would they.

Marketing is strategic and logical. It is the left side of the brain and usually the weaker side of the brain in artists especially because they are right brained. Without marketing: internally and externally, you will not find a consumer. Research the law of 7s in marketing. Email lists, social media, everything is crucial, but finding your niche and finding your message is marketing. And you must market your art. You must network. You must be the CEO of your art. It’s balance. It’s analytical and strategic.

But it’s worthless if you don’t do it on yourself first.

Contact me if you’d like to discuss ways to better market your art, if this is of interest.

Feel free to follow me on Facebook, Blog page, I’m @mahbuttitches on Instagram and @ourbeautifullie on twitter. Let’s connect!!

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

On This Day…

I met my husband 17 years ago today. It was Ozzfest in Camden, NJ. I was with my best friend, and we were the furthest thing from sober. We watched a morbidly obese Samoan gentleman annihilate the mosh pit with a shopping cart, I waited around to get Dave Draiman to sign my chest, and the late Dave Williams to sign my ticket stub. It was the best day of my life, and it only got better.

I bumped into a friend, and he introduced me to the dude who would be my hubby 5 years later. As a natural seductress – smooth like chunky peanut butter – I offered the (as I described) hottest dude I’ve ever seen my soft pretzel and pointed repeatedly at my chest babbling about Dave Draiman. This clearly had an impact on him, because I didn’t see him for a year, though I talked about him off and on.

I never in a million years would have thought this random encounter would be a milestone in my meandering river of life, but hot dude at concert is now hot dude who fathered my children and is my best friend and husband.

I wouldn’t see him again until a random coincidence had me invited to his Fourth of July party where I was 8 months pregnant and in the adoption process for the baby. When I saw him again, I tried to get his attention by awkwardly attempting small talk and commenting on how nice his air conditioner felt.

Clearly, my feminine wiles had a dramatic impact on him, because we finally started dating a few weeks after my first child was born. I’m sure many successful relationships start with a woman meandering the adoption process and healing from labor. I’m sure Lifetime has these movies all the time. It probably appeared weird to a lot of people, and clearly my emotions were a train wreck, but I had said on our wedding day: my husband was a gift from God to help me through the darkest days of my life.

I remember those weeks after she was born so vividly. I barely spoke and chain-smoked on my parents’ deck, staring at the sky praying the clouds would give me an answer. When I gave birth, I had the option to see or not see the baby. I spent every minute in the hospital with her. At 19, I had a surprisingly level head with this. I knew I had to let myself fall in love with her to know if I was strong enough to say goodbye. The weeks after she was born and before he randomly popped back in my life, I was staring at those clouds trying to decide if I was strong enough to say goodbye.

He and I started dating September 2. She was born August 12. Just days before, I had called the adoption agency and confirmed my decision to proceed. My reasoning was as painful as it was logical. My daughter deserves more than I could give her at this time. I wanted her to have a mother and father, and I did not want to have her struggle as I tried to care for us, finish my education, and start a career. I knew her father and I were not capable of that relationship, nor could I alone give her a life even comparable to my childhood. Every parent wants the best for their child, and I knew I did not have that.

The pain of this decision and experience taught me the first big lesson of love – one so many overlook – letting go. Of course my love for her is the love of a mom, but love is not always easy or perfect. Sometimes, the most love you can give is to say goodbye. To make the choice for something better for the one you love. It was a lesson I got beat over the head as a reminder of when my husband and I finally let each other go after trying to reconcile and heal so many times.

After I decided to proceed with the adoption, I randomly crossed paths with him, and I started smiling, laughing, and talking again. From the get go, I was open and honest with everything I was going through. I trusted him completely, and he became my best friend immediately. It always felt, to me, like I had known him all my life. I remember telling him how safe and happy I felt in his arms. Like all my troubles couldn’t touch me when I nuzzled on his chest. I always loved how perfectly I fit under his arm. I’m 5’5″ and he’s 6’1″. My ear sits on his heart when we hug.

There’s more to this story than a long soliloquy of a chance metalhead encounter becoming the weirdest love story ever. I mean, flash forward 17 years, and we’re back together after a 3 year separation after years of a toxic marriage.

This story is where I first really started seeing God/the universe/Tao/insert word here in my life. It’s simple, so simple I could have just as easily overlooked it, because the past is just a story we tell ourselves now. I could change the words and have an equally accurate representation of my life but it would be full of negatives and pity me bullshit. It doesn’t matter. The past is only useful if you allow it to elucidate your present and make a choice to see the beauty repeat in your life.

I would have never met my husband if I hadn’t dated my daughter’s father. It was his friend I went to say hi to. I would have never known these people otherwise. I was 19 when she was born. It’s been almost 16 years now of me fucking my life up in new inventive ways, then cleaning my mess up in other equally inventive ways. At the time, it was the most pain I had ever known, and he was the person by my side making me smile. It taught me pain leads to beauty. Suffering teaches happiness. It taught me hope. Looking back now, it was the first time I really had to trust everything happens for a reason and let it be at that.

I get why people can feel punished by life or God. There’s so many reasons to be miserable about suffering. In the moments, pain can seem like there’s all there is to life. It can seem pointless and hopeless. This all taught me to hold on. All these years later, I have the words to put to this lesson: I am not in charge of my life. What I can say is “bad” has always ultimately led to what I can say is “good”. That helps me to stop lingering or trying to escape the bad. It helps me to accept life as it is. To get so worked up in labeling life and experience is like crying about arithmetic in school. Everything in life is a lesson. Everyone is a teacher.

My husband, over the 17 years we have been in each other’s lives, taught me unconditional love. He taught me by making me a mother to our three kids, when I forgave him and he forgave me after we both committed “unforgivable” sins against each other, and by always accepting me exactly as I was – which is quite often unstable at best – as I describe myself. Through my love for him, I learned my purpose – everyone’s purpose – on this green and blue orb. It’s love. Love isn’t always soft pretzels and air conditioning. Love is fighting, forgiving, and being human. Mistakes and accomplishments are equal in the eyes of love.

This is why duality is so harmful for all of our minds. It causes us to label love and forget the nature of love. If love and forgiveness are placed as synonyms, there can be no true bad or true good with love. If your child fucks up, you don’t stop loving them. If anything, you offer more love. There’s nothing that cannot be forgiven with love, and if that’s the case, everything in life simply brings you closer to love. Love for yourself, love for others. Compassion with the knowledge of your own personal stumbles to make you less judgmental of others. The same is true of the whole spectrum of life. Everything is a lesson in love to show us all there’s never any bad, there’s nothing to actually fear, because you will always end up exactly where you were meant to be.

I knew 17 years ago when I looked in that man’s eyes that I wanted him in my life. I could not have expected he would become the love of my life and my partner in crime forever, and I’m glad for it.

The best part of life are the surprise endings you can never see coming. It’s the best love story of them all, because if you really can trust the process of your life: it is a love story written personally to and for you from God (or whoever resonates – love doesn’t get hung up on labels).

And to my partner in crime, thank you for helping me be the woman I am today. Our love for each other and our children taught me love for myself. Our love has saved my life countless times. Our love has superseded and risen above pain and misery that made this story seem like a cakewalk. You are the sun to my moon, and the sexiest man at Ozzfest. I love you.

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I Cannot Worry About The Future if I Am Experiencing My Present

Right now I’m reminding myself frequently: I cannot worry about the future if I am experiencing my present.

That does not mean I don’t have thoughts or worries about the future. It simply means I redirect my focus to the present. In the mental hospital, I was taught a grounding exercise: identify things through the five senses. What do I see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel?

Not surprisingly, there are many types of meditation that teach this presence and mindfulness is taught as a way to connect with now.

I also learned positive affirmations in the mental hospital and from my psychologist. This is very similar to a powerful invocation called the Sankalpa, or your heart’s desire. You meditate quietly for a few moments, then allow something you want to arise from a place that transcends your thinking mind.

In any of these practices: grounding, mantra, Sankalpa, mindfulness, meditation, etc. gratitude is fundamental to reaching these states. Gratitude is a place that transcends the ego, the anxiety, and the depression because it places power outside of your thinking mind. If a few moments are taken to see and appreciate everything – good and bad – by acknowledging everything has happened to bring this moment, the ego becomes quiet, confused, and powerless. Gratitude helps with acceptance too. In my journey, being thankful for being bipolar taught me to stop fighting being bipolar. In any situation, I guide my focus to gratitude. Even the worst situations, I can still be thankful I’m breathing.

Once gratitude helps center, I can “hear myself think” better. This is when positive affirmation or Sankalpa helps. It’s a statement in the present of something you wish to accomplish. My first Sankalpa was “I am peaceful, loving, trusting whenever I am confused or upset” this arose as a need for me to shift because as soon as my moods did what my moods do, or depression made me feel worthless, etc. I question every decision I’ve ever made, doubt myself, and worry about my entire journey.

Pretty quickly, I saw this shift. I couldn’t say how specifically, but I started listening to myself and trusting myself more. I recited the Sankalpa after connecting with gratitude and repeated it three times. I also recited it before meditating and bed.

Right now, my Sankalpa is “I am love”. This has led me to stop getting into my head about the future and experience the present instead. Love is action, not a noun. It’s a dynamic, ever changing energy. Love is not clinging or fear, so worrying about the future is the opposite of love.

If these practices are of interest, hop on YouTube. There are guided meditations to set a Sankalpa, to connect with mindfulness, and gratitude practices. I do general searches and just pick whatever I feel pulled to pick. This helps to connect with intuition too. If the spirituality side of things feels weird, check out positive affirmations and I Am statements, mindfulness exercises for depression or anxiety, and try journaling 3 gratitudes daily. It’s the same, just different words and more or less talk of God.

Do things that resonate with you and you alone. Never force a practice that doesn’t resonate or force yourself to do anything a certain way because someone else does it. All the self help books, guides and all this have good intentions, but each of us walks differently with different feet, shoes, and baggage. Meet yourself where you are at and with what you want, and find the resources that support and work for you. At the end of the day, being in your life and experiencing your life now is what is important. Not the past, not the future.

Me vs. me

The most frustrating aspect of bipolar or mood disorders (including ADHD) is there are essentially at least two diametrically opposed personalities in your life. There’s the person who can handle it and the one who can’t. They’re both you, it’s not multiple personality disorder, but one you is on the ball and trying to improve and the other you is overwhelmed, anxious, and wondering how the hell to get half of what was done before done now.

This has been an ongoing battle in my life. When things are good, I’m on the ball, organized, house clean, and dotting all my lower case j’s. When things are not, I don’t even know where to start. I call it going down holes. It’s frustrating because as far as I can go up is as far as I can go down. Most of this year has been me trying to teach myself baseline. An area where I can manage and cope without too much pressure either way. Things that are easy on good weeks are difficult on not good weeks. I make commitments on good weeks that are impossible on bad. And then I have to dig myself out of the holes my moods can go to.

Buddhism taught me impermanence and to relieve myself of expectations. The largest part of my suffering was in comparing myself to myself and to others. I am not the person I was five minutes ago, let alone last week. This frees me to just do my best every day. It doesn’t matter what I did or didn’t do previously. It’s also okay to be overwhelmed, because I have a lot going on. Carving time to meditate creates space to just be and allow myself to be however I am without fixing me.

I am not my house or my to do list. Some days, I just need to cope with my Newtonian moods watching me go up and inevitably come down. Ram Dass said his stroke is a grace from God, because he finally learned to ask and receive help. He is paralyzed on his left side saying this is grace. I’ve been pondering his beautiful words for a month, and I agree.

Bipolar is my grace from God. If I had not gone into full blown psychosis, I would never have started asking for help. If I hadn’t started seeing my mood swings, irritability, and suffering, I would never have turned to Buddhism for help. I would have followed the path others laid for me, and never become me. I would have never accepted me. I would never have expressed me. I look at the weeks I go down in the hole as me just needing rest. Does it suck to have to dig out and try to get back to baseline? Sure. But I have a baseline now. I know when I’m off, and I know what to do when I’m off.

And I know how to ask for help now. I’m not ashamed for needing help. I am not ashamed that I can’t do it all. I’m not ashamed of myself. None of this would be possible without the grace of bipolar. My creativity, problem solving, personality, empathy, and compassion all come from being “batshit crazy” as I called myself before. There are kind of two or more me’s in here, and at least we’re all playing nicer in the sandbox. Even if I gotta pick up my slack sometimes.

I believe our greatest challenges are our greatest strengths. This becomes apparent when we stop fighting with ourselves and love the good, bad, ugly, and all in between.

Pay Attention

Do you know what your greatest gift, asset, tool, etc. is? Do you know the most powerful part of you? Do you know the one part of you, that if you use it wisely, it will change your life?

It is your focus.

Focus is something most of us struggle with immensely. The climbing rates of ADHD diagnosis in adults and children are testament to our struggles with the power of focus. Most of us pride ourselves on our abilities to multitask, but the reality is multitasking, over-committing, and generally being too busy is one of the biggest reasons we are miserable. (No shit Sherlock). The reason, though, isn’t because we are tired or stressed. It’s because we are maligning our greatest and most powerful gift.

Take a moment and think of people you deem wildly successful, the people you wonder how they did it, or what their secret is. There’s a common denominator: focus. Take a musician: they focused on their gift and passion until it became their reality. They don’t just work in music, they live music. They tour, write, perform, and embody music. How did they get there? “I never gave up, I never stopped believing in myself, I practiced every day…”

Most of us dismiss them as “lucky” or how we can’t possibly do that because “here in the real world…” However, we overlook the simple trick they use that can change everything for us: focus.

Do you fixate on things? Do you ever wonder why sometimes you just want to do the same thing, and other weeks it barely crosses your mind? Do you have interests that you want to incorporate in your life, but you can never seem to find the time?

These fixations are your inner compass, and they are a blessing, a gift, and guidance. Call it God, your higher self, intuition, the Holy Spirit, or channeling divinity. I don’t care. What your fixation or focus is trying to help you with is what you need to do to help yourself to be happy and fulfilled.

When we multitask and overwhelm ourselves, we erode our powerful focus, and like a muscle, lack of use creates weakness and lack of results. Our society loves to erode our focus. How many times do we check Facebook or even just our phones in a day? How many times can you say, “I just did one thing for like an hour.” When you go to work, how many things are you doing at once to be productive. Are you actually productive? How is your energy?

Have you ever watched a kid actually playing? Not video games, I’m talking driving a car on a floor, building a puzzle, or taking Barbie on a date with Ken? The outside world doesn’t exist to these kids. As a matter of fact, the kid doesn’t exist to the kid. There’s no mental observer, “I am making Barbie perfect, but up next I really must see about my muffins in the oven and good God that laundry!” It just doesn’t happen. They’re focused and immersed, which means they, and all their problems (kids have problems too) don’t exist.

What happens then? They’re happier! Have you ever dealt with an overstimulated kid? It’s fucking hell! My kids are constantly overstimulated, then they overstimulate me, and I want to go weep under a blanket for a month, pondering how to simultaneously be a great mom and hermit in a mountain, and if there’s a wawa located in any mountains.

Why wouldn’t we realize if kids can get overstimulated and turn into dickbags, most of the dickbags you encounter in your life (especially yourself!) are also overstimulated, unfocused, and outta their damn mind. We’re all chocolated-up toddlers demanding nap time 24/7!

We lack focus. Without focus, we’re generally ships without a compass lost in a world of circular thinking, rumination, habitual confused behavior, escapism, and in need of that nap.

Or, perhaps, more accurately: our focus is squandered in the wrong place. When you have that rare five minutes of quiet time, what do you focus on? Your blessings, or your problems? If you’re a resident of this planet, I bet problems are the more likely answer, although you’d try to caveat it with, but I’m really happy with my life, it’s just….

Focusing on something is transformative. In that, your focus takes you away from your idea of yourself, or your ego. We all have imaginary worlds we live in, where expectations run the show and expectation and reality are perpetually two ships passing in the night. When expectation and reality don’t align, frustration is a constant. When you focus on something and come away from your chattering monkey brain, suddenly shit makes more sense. Why? Because our brains can’t actually solve problems. Our ego, our idea of ourself, doesn’t do anything but take past data and attempt to answer a question. This just puts us in circles. This is what we all do when we have a problem, and it never actually solves our problems.

If anything, what if we create the outcome we don’t want? If you have a situation, and you’re focusing on the thing you don’t want to happen, how often does the thing you don’t want to happen come to fruition? When it does, do you feel a sick satisfaction that, although you’re miserable, at least you were prepared for it?

What if you made it happen though?

Your focus isn’t just what you’re doing, it’s what you’re creating in your life. Focus on peace, you will find peace. Focus on not wanting to fight about the dirty dishes, how many times did you end up fighting about dirty dishes? Focus on too much, and you end up confused and tired.

If you think about driving: if you focus on not hitting a pedestrian, you’ll find yourself inevitably steering away from the pedestrian you are somehow drifting towards. Where you set your focus is where you go, and focus doesn’t understand not. You’re staring at the pedestrian saying, “I don’t want to hit this 90 year old gentleman carrying his groceries”. Your focus says, “oh you wanna go to that guy? Got it!” Next thing you know, you’re jerking the wheel after startling someone’s grandpa. Google target fixation motorcycles and you can see this concept repeated in thousands of articles.

I think everyone has ADHD to varying degrees. ADHD is not a lack of focus, it is a lack of focusing on what someone else wants you to focus on. This is why school age children have these letters. The little bastards just don’t want to sit in a chair for 8 hours listening to someone talk about shit they’re not interested in. I don’t know any adults who struggle like that 🙄 Hell, this is a longer post: how well are you getting through it? Are you still reading? We all try to write less to keep our readers’ attentions because none of us have any!

ADHD, when framed properly, is a superpower, and we all have access to it. How many artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs have either ADHD or bipolar? How many stories have you heard where some wildly successful person sucked at school? Why is this? Their focus didn’t give a shit about anything but their focus, and they listened to it. An incredible musician can’t be incredible if they don’t play their instrument constantly. That’s great, because that was their focus. An inventor doesn’t give a shit about anything but making an iPhone. That’s great, because that was their focus.

We all have this to varying degrees because no brain is the same. Your focus could be as simple as wanting to drink a cup of tea and write in your journal. You put it off because your busy, and you end up grumpier than usual, because you didn’t do what you wanted to do. That urge did not come from your brain, either. We all know there’s a place in us that we can’t quite put into words, and when we don’t listen to it, it becomes a “man, I wish I had just….”

Focus is key. Our egos love to plan, dictate, tell us or shortcomings and problems. When we listen, we find lots more shortcomings and problems, and we create more of the same. Why? That’s where the power of our focus was squandered. If you do sit and journal with your tea, you may just find the answer to the question that’s been bugging you. If you go to that class you said you didn’t have time for, go to the gym, write the blog, etc: epiphanies can happen. You didn’t think of it, no amount of rumination did it. It wasn’t until you used your focus to not focus on creating problems did you, in fact, see through the problem.

Once I tapped into focusing on what I want versus what I didn’t want, life got better. Don’t get trapped by instant gratification. I didn’t practice yoga once and I am a billionaire with no cares in the world. My problems are exactly the same, I just see them differently. For me, focus and fixation come in approximately 1-2 week bursts. This week, my fixation has been practicing yoga nidra. This is something I had practiced when I started meditating, but didn’t know what it was called. It just made sense to lay down, close my eyes, and chill the fuck out. The week before was yoga. I pick one focus – whatever is pulling me the most – and I let that dictate my week. I’m busy, and I’m a mom. I don’t have tons of time. I keep my practices simple, I don’t let them become a guilt factor or burden. I just let it be my focus. Everything still gets done, but I redirect and focus on the fixation of the week when I start ruminating. Some weeks it’s cleaning my house, or writing, or journaling. I call my week whatever fixation I have, and it is my compass. I cut back on the shit I don’t need to make time for the shit I do. I can’t and won’t do everything I want or should do, so I pick one and I let my day focus on that. If it’s a yoga week, I plan my schedule around getting to yoga. If it’s a writing week, I wake up and write before I get distracted, etc.

What have you been wanting to do? What do you keep putting off? Where is your focus being squandered? If you had more time, what would you be doing? Start focusing on these questions, and I’ll bet things begin shifting. Keep focusing on the things you don’t want, and don’t be surprised when you told yourself so. Your focus will create your reality. Start using it to your benefit. What can you focus on today? Hit me up in the comments, this is my current fixation, and I want to talk more!

Up next, I’ll give you some more personal examples of my focus and fixation, a couple steps I took to get my focus back, and what changes I’ve observed since. Thanks for reading, and share the love if this was enjoyable, relevant, or semi coherent.

Using Your Body to Discipline Your Mind

Yesterday was Summer Solstice. At my yoga studio, Shanteel, we did 108 Sun Salutations to welcome summer. This was my second time – the first was for Spring Equinox. It’s a very challenging practice, taking about 2 hours to complete. It’s also deeply healing and eye opening.

Yoga is not about getting in better shape, although it helps. It’s not even about getting in proper postures, or looking like the Instagram pictures. Yoga teaches using the body to discipline the mind. I think when any of us are doing something repetitive and challenging, our brains love to comment on its difficulty and our inability to do it. If we listen to the chatter, the difficulty grows exponentially. Every ache, muscle, etc becomes screaming resistance.

It becomes a mind over matter situation, and yoga demonstrates this perfectly. As I was thinking how hard this was, I was struggling until I caught myself. I went to child’s pose, rested, and changed my internal monologue to a simple “I can do this”. I whispered it to myself as I was in downward facing dog. Eventually, thoughts ceased and all that remained was the sensation of my body, with my eyes closed, moving through the postures. I became focused solely on alignment and positioning, and allowed myself to just move without commentary. I stopped when needed for water or rest, but I was acutely aware of how many more sun salutations I did, how few rests I took, and how much my practice improved since spring.

I didn’t have to modify by dropping my knee in lunges, I could stay up. I was keeping my elbows hugged in for transition. More importantly, my internal monologue became kind and encouraging as opposed to critical and belittling.

Nowadays, it seems difficult to hear ourselves think. I didn’t notice it until I started meditating. I never noticed how critical and mean I was. On the outside, I was so nice to everyone, but on the inside, I was downright mean. This sets you up for terrible projections. If you are constantly criticizing and hating yourself internally, you’ll project those feelings unconsciously on the people you love. Their words and interactions will be perceived with negative intents where none were present. It’s inevitable.

It’s only by bringing awareness to the mental chatter that you can change it. Yoga helps because as much as you may feel good after a practice, it’s rare you want to contort your body in bizarre ways, sweat in places you didn’t know you could, all while trying to breathe and quiet your mind. My mind loves to tell me how hard it all is, yet not once have I lost a limb or died in practice. I generally get sore and relaxed.

This experience carries into day to day, as you become more aware of your monkey brain and realize that your thoughts are messing with your reality. Sure, my house is messy, but in my thoughts, it’s an insurmountable Mount Everest of dishes and laundry, my kids are bound and determined to drive me insane with messes, and I’ll never ever know what it’s like to be done cleaning. In reality, some music and a few hours of focus gets me where I need to be.

I never would have thought I’d be capable of 108 sun salutations. I remember struggling to even commit to 3 as I practiced on YouTube. I was scared of even joining a yoga studio. I thought I was too fat, too this, too that to join a studio. I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the classes. Yet, there I was, in reality, flowing through 108 sun salutations with my community.

If I had listened to my brain, I wouldn’t have a family at Shanteel. I wouldn’t have found my home, where I go to find myself daily. I wouldn’t have found my strength or beauty. I would have just sat around letting my brain kick my ass, as opposed to kicking my ass on the mat to see how much further I can go beyond my thoughts.

Last night was even more special for me. I promised myself I was going. I negotiated if I had to miss regular classes, I’d go. Because this is the week after my period, which means it’s depression week. Awareness of my cycle has helped me plan around my hormones. I know these weeks are tough for me. My energy is low, my mood is typically low, and life is harder than usual. My house is a mess, because I didn’t have the energy to keep up. My kids are home, and I had to let them do screens more than I’d like so I could rest more than usual.

Normally, depression weeks are harder to practice yoga for all these reasons. I’ve promised myself to try to get to 2-3 classes/week versus my normal 5-7. I’ve promised myself to rest without judgement, and listen to my body without criticism. I had to nap most of the day yesterday, but I got to the 108. All day, I was thinking of reasons I couldn’t or shouldn’t. All day, my brain wouldn’t shut up, and all day, I had to ignore it, because I promised myself I was going.

Depression used to be a call for mania, where I would force myself to hide everything away and pretend everything was great. I’d pile on activities and do anything to distract myself and hide it. Depression was 75% of the time for me. As I pushed, intrusive thoughts would begin screaming at me, I’d become suicidal, and driving would be a challenging experience of internally telling myself why driving into a phone pole or oncoming traffic was a terrible idea. Once I stopped that insanity, and allowed myself to feel depression, I became aware of how debilitating it was. I felt sad for all my body has been through as I fought. Once I accepted depression as a state I go through, episodes become shorter and less debilitating.

After about a year of regular yoga practice, almost 2 years of regular meditation, etc etc. I just did 108 sun salutations while I was having a bout of depression. This practice is about releasing what no longer serves you. What no longer serves me is telling myself I can’t be everything I want to be. What no longer serves me is being a slave to my thoughts and endless brain chatter. I am way, way stronger than I think I am. We all are. The only true limits that exist are the stories we tell ourselves.

Everyday Miracles

I’ve been reading A Course in Miracles for the last week or 2. I’m absolutely loving it. I’m also loving reading again. I think in the last month I read more books than the last year combined. After I finish this, I have an Alan Watts book to read.

I think what I love about A Course in Miracles is how it’s helping me frame a lot of what I’ve intuited or connected on my own between the studies of Eastern philosophy with my Catholic roots. There are many who warn westerners from attempting to adopt eastern cultures because it’s such a dramatic shift from our upbringing. The Dalai Lama even said to use Buddhism to enhance your traditional practice, not replace it.

ACIM is kind of like this. It’s written from the perspective of Jesus talking to us now and explaining all the things we misunderstand. I’m also listening to Bill Donahue on YouTube explaining the Bible in these terms, asserting Jesus had learned his path from studying Buddhism and Hinduism, and his references are to heaven being inside, ala nirvana and meditation being the key. That when He says “I Am the way, the truth, the light” he was not referring to himself, but the concept of God as in I Am that I Am, or as Krishna described in Bhagavad Gita: the eternal Brahman that rests in all of us. The interconnected spirit that unifies us all. Or the great Tao, which is translated as The Way.

ACIM talks about miracles being an everyday occurrence. Jung talks about synchronicity being a confluence of events that places you exactly where you were meant to be. Ever run late and bump into the right person at the right time? Think of someone and they contact you? Think of a song and hear it? Call it what you’d like, but these are always present if you’re observant. Constant reassurance that life is working for, not against you: if your perception is attuned. If you believe everything is terrible, you’ll also prove yourself right.

I could go on forever. Philosophy is my passion. It was about a year or so ago now I stumbled on my dead husband, Alan Watts and my life changed completely. A big part of my psychosis was this ever present fear that I was going to hell because I did not follow Catholicism appropriately. This actually was described by Carl Jung in his observations of his patients, and he postulated many mental illnesses are manifestations of spiritual crises. There’s actually a tick box when you’re admitted to the mental hospital for spiritual crisis! It was checked for me last January.

Oddly enough, or cool enough, I realized just last night that when I was in the hospital, there were a number of patients experiencing the same break as me. All of us were released rather quickly after being able to sleep for a few days and regain our bearings. When I was in the hospital, I had a homeless woman tell me (she didn’t know who I was or anything about me) that my sense of humor and way of expressing myself would help a lot of people. She said it was time to stop Doubting myself and get to work.

Miracles do happen. We often overlook or forget them in the absence of rational explanations. Me connecting with Watts started this journey into philosophy and the journey back to wholeness. It was a random YouTube auto play, and yeah, I definitely think it was a miracle.

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