New Beginnings start with ? Not .

I try to stay away from explaining things in terms of the ego must be overcome or it must die. This sets anyone up for confusion inherently.

I question the ego:

Who are you? Don’t use your name – someone gave you that. Don’t use your job, people, stuff – all externals. Who are you that sits behind your eyes?

All of the things you would use to attempt to describe yourself you learned from someone else or someone else told you and you believed. These are not you though. That is your ego.

What are you?

Your ego is the vehicle you move throughout life in. To see this, you must become aware that you are not the I you say you are. You’re not these externals, yet you use your externals to move throughout life. When you become aware of your ego, you can then see that this is a vehicle. You use a vehicle to get to the mall, but not to take a shit.

Alone, you cannot overcome the ego. In the simplest terms, your ego is the thinking mind. Your conscious attention. Who thinks your thoughts? You cannot answer this, yet you are familiar with the fact that thoughts come and go as the please. Through meditation, you can see the observer and observed. And you see you don’t have to think your thoughts. Much like you don’t have to be your ego.

When you see through the veil of ego, you cannot answer “who am I?”

It’s the death of the separateness in I. And Then you find, “I am”

At the end of the day, ego wants you to believe you’re separate. Non ego shows were all one.

“No one’s gonna take my soul away…I’m living like Jim Morrison..” Gods and Monsters, Lana Del Rey

Once Upon a Dream

I had a dream

Where two became one

Before I made Work

Of what once was fun

Where miles of walls

Stagnation, guilt, doubt

Blinked away like my tears

For I stripped my armor

Of my limiting fears, let go

I’ll be vulnerable

To you like a doe

I’ll give you all

I have and do not

I see you infinitely

In dreams and without

My eyes tell the story

In the beating of hearts

Where two live as one

Though my mouth could not

I see the day

Where I hear your heart

Pressed against my lips

Where I’m never without

I’ve never believed

Dreams don’t come true

I don’t believe in a world

Without you

So look in my eyes

And tell me again

That’s the end of infinity

And call me your friend

Copyright DAF, 2017

Sharing welcomed – credit must be given to original author

Your Best Lover

Be your own best friend, your own company, and your first true love.

Buy yourself flowers, don’t wait for him or her.

Treat yourself like the god or goddess you are, and no one can take your smile- because you know it’s there for you.

Listen to your heartbeat and remember it’s yours. Keep the key to your happiness in your own pocket. Don’t give it to any hand that is not yours.

Give the love you are, because we are verbs: not nouns.

Changing my Christmas

I’ve looked at Christmas as being forced to spend money I do not have on a bunch of shit no one needs. This year, I have been particularly vocal about this materialist society killing everyone’s understanding of joy, happiness, peace, fulfilment, etc. No material good gives happiness. Happiness comes from within. To me, happiness and love are synonyms, and no thing shows or gives love or happiness. Happiness, love, and Christmas are actions, not words and not gifts.

Am I angry about Christmas? No. I just had the simple realization that I spent 1 or more months of my life spending money, preparing, and doing shit for one day. Christmas became a burden. It was a neverending series of compounding expectations, which ultimately created a stressed out and exhausted me. I said to a friend: “No single day can live up to that amount of effort. The ROI (return on investment) is fucked. This is why we’re all so goddamn miserable. We spend months of our lives delaying being happy for a day.

The inevitable feeling I always had to tuck away on Christmas night was “All that for this?”

There are a lot of people questioning why we have a holiday that makes us feel obligated to go into debt for our loved ones, etc. I’ve felt this way for so long, but I assumed it was me being weird. Everyone else seems happy. Clearly, my overwhelmed, exhausted, etc. state was my fault.

I have always looked at Christmas has a metaphor of our best selves. We’re all happier, more loving, kinder. Why, then, do I need to work so hard to achieve that? Why do I save it for a day? I can throw tons of synonyms to describe happiness or being happy. Or, I can give the truth: it’s your choice. Happy is a feeling which is a reaction. Every feeling you have is a reaction, and what you do with that reaction dictates your response. Your response is your choice. All feelings are transient and temporary.

Part of my problem with Christmas is the expectations I would set for myself and my family. I wanted to create amazing memories and moments as well as find the perfect gifts for everyone. I created so much anxiety and insanity for myself in this desperate need to have the best, be the best, etc. I’d have images of these perfect festive scenes that never came to fruition. Most of the time I’d be so damn exhausted, I’d feel like I was barely there anyway. Last year, I focused on taking better care of myself at Christmas time. I cut things off the to-do list, focused on meditation, yoga, and journaling to help me stay calm.

Happiness is cultivated in your mind. For years, I pretended to be happy as I ran around like a Christmas-y chicken with my head cut off. In reality, I cultivated guilt, expectations, and disappointment. It was me trying to make up for being a “shitty mom”. I don’t know why I believe so deeply I’m a shitty Mom, except to say, I look at the expectations of society and I don’t match. Now, I’m thrilled I do not match. I finally understand parenting and happiness are not one size fits all. In striving to achieve Facebook-worthy statuses, pictures, etc. I was robbing myself of genuine happiness and authenticity. I’ve found greater happiness in the smallest situations than in all the convoluted schemes I’ve contrived.

My kids don’t understand money, etc. Why would they? That’s when I saw the stupidity of my expectations: my kids have no concept of all the shit I’m doing because Santa does the work. They have no concept of money because kids do not understand the stupidity adults live in. All the expectations I would place were with all the time, energy, and money I’ve put out, and the kids have no way of understanding or appreciating that.

Christmas is a consumer-driven holiday. There’s nothing about Jesus in the money I’m spending, etc. Jesus is in the hugs I give my children, and the I love you’s and the giggles while we make a mess baking cookies. None of this is dictated by a date on the calendar – originally the solstice, which was taken by Christianity for Christmas, to drive pagans to Christianity. Now, it’s been taken from Christians by Corporations & Credit Card companies to drive everyone to debt. I was wondering how I can get away from this consumer crap. I don’t want my life dictated by shit. It could be the nicest whatever, ever, but at the end of the day, it’s stuff.

Yet, my kids want presents. I can’t say, “Well your mother has realized society is idiotic and we’re abstaining this year.” This is my problem, not theirs. So, I changed my attitude. Everything in this life is a tool or a weapon, depending on your choice. A lot of people mistake what Buddha taught regarding attachment. It’s not to have nothing, want nothing, etc.

It is to cling to nothing: no moment, no thing, etc. In the fleetingness of Christmas, my greatest disappointment was it was just one day. One hour, really. I’d spend days upon days wrapping presents, and within an hour all that time was scattered on the floor for me to clean. If the kids hated a present, I’d be upset.

I don’t think Buddha would advise me to change anything but me.

Instead of buying gifts, I thought in terms of investments. I am investing in my children’s happiness. Sometimes, you make a good investment, sometimes bad. This lets me detach from the expectation of outcomes – happy, sad, indifferent. It’s an investment, and we shall see how it goes. I did my purchases with the word “Tool” in mind.

Attachment is allowing something to control you, versus you being in control. If you are constantly chasing stuff, money, tail, this controls you.

Reaction/Response. A reaction is a base instinct. A response is controlled. It’s a higher level of being. The way words get interspersed leads to a lot of confusion in this regard. The things I purchased were with helping the kids connect with passions, hobbies, and ways of cultivating happiness for themselves. What they do with these gifts is their choice, and if it goes to waste, I’ll consider it a lousy investment. I won’t get upset, etc. because I know I did my best, and I know they choose happiness for themselves. I’ve been talking to the kids about gratitude almost constantly. Pointing out everything we all take for granted – hot water, our home, food, etc. I feel like we all so easily get caught up in the “buy me, buy me” we forget how lucky we are. I forget I’m fortunate to even be pissing and moaning about buying presents or baking cookies.

Many believed I was “anti-Christmas” this year, and I’m not. I’m anti-killing myself for a bunch of crap no one needs. I’m anti-anything that doesn’t cultivate happiness.  The way I was doing Christmas did everything but cultivate happiness. It dumped a ton of happy feelings in one day, a fleeting, transient thing. In changing my perspective, outlook, and actions, I’m showing the kids with the example to take care of themselves, and create happiness and love – every day, not just December 25th. Nothing I did over the past month was really about Christmas. It was just about being a family and loving each other. Christmas is a day. I won’t kill myself for a day anymore.

Some changes I made:

  1. No More Wrapping. Too much time and effort with NO payoff. I’m killing trees and myself for, what? A pretty picture?
    • Solution – I bought a ton of adorable cloth Santa Sacks. I put presents inside and place sack under tree. Done.
  2. I’m making investments, not buying gifts
    • Obviously, the kids got a few toys. More than that, though, the bulk of my money went towards developing hobbies: a snake for my youngest, because he’s wanted a pet, and I thought responsibility/caring for an animal would be good for him. My daughter wants to be an artist – she got an art kit and art desk, and my oldest is getting a telescope because my motherly instinct is telling me exploring the cosmos is right up his alley.
    • Not just kids, though. I focused everything I bought as an investment in someone else cultivating happiness or a better life. Re-discovering hobbies/joy they had as a kid, etc. It challenged me to be creative, attentive, and do more than just mindlessly buy crap.
    • I’m creating opportunities to teach gratitude – for the people in our lives and the tools we have to create happiness
  3. I listened to myself
    • When I was tired, etc. I just listened to my body. There is literally nothing about Christmas that is more important than my health and wellbeing.
    • I blew off friends/commitments if my energy was low
    • I did not do more than I was capable of doing
  4. I am staying present
    • The magic of Christmas and in my mind, the magic of life is in the smallest moments. I overlooked them in my hyperfocus on the “big day”. Singing and dancing to “Must be Santa” with my baby, ignoring an overflowing sink of dishes to play dolls with my daughter, etc. Christmas is tomorrow. Right now, I’m ignoring my overwhelming children and taking a time out to blab on here, because I’ve been too busy/tired to write. 😉 balance!
  5. I’m not perfect
    • I am not perfect
  6. I’m the only standard I’m holding myself up to
    • Did I do my best? Perfect. 😉
  7. I made Christmas, love, and happiness synonyms.
  8. I am grateful

This is not just about Christmas, these are attitudes and thought processes I’ve been cultivating. I’m not spending 364 of my life looking forward to 1. I said this month, I’m not spending 30 days or whatever prepping for a day. I spend 365 days a year cultivating love and happiness – in myself first, and through sound investments 😉

The Nightmare Before Christmas

One of the musings I wanted to do with this blog is my bizarre takes on music and movies/entertainment. I do not believe any fiction is pure fiction; everything is a metaphor. The beauty of fiction is you can interpret the metaphor however you’d like. Our beautiful lies – one meaning – is the definition of a metaphor. Is that not what fiction is? Today, especially since we are a week from Christmas, I thought I’d write on one of my favorite movies and some of the metaphors I’ve found for myself.

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Nightmare Before Christmas. Why? I’m an overgrown child, I love Tim Burton and Jack Skellington. I have probably watched this movie 300 times now. As a matter of fact, as I’m (barely) preparing for Christmas, it’s the only Christmas movie I’ve watched.

download (9)

Look at it as Jack trying to understand his role in life. Here he is the Halloween King, but he feels unfulfilled. He feels as though he does the same damn thing every day. Then, he finds this new, happy world. He feels a new feeling he has never felt before, and he feels “Just like his old boney self again” (I want everyone to know, full disclosure, any quotation will be from direct memory because I am that much of a dork) As he tries to understand Christmas more, he studies it, he “knows the stories, and he knows the rhymes…he knows the Christmas carols all by heart…his skull is so full it’s tearing him apart..!”

I don’t care that he’s a clay puppet, I have never resonated with a character more in my life. Jack and Sally have always felt like me talking to myself. Ultimately, Jack tries to be what he is not – Sandy Claws – and blows shit up. That’s been my life. Even studying as much as I have – I have read spiritual books, blogs, etc. yet nothing made sense. “What is this?” indeed. I have listened to probably every Alan Watts seminar, and from there I have ventured into philosophy as a whole. Reading psychology books to understand the alphabet soup of my diagnoses help me see, I suppose, I’m not alone, but I still felt as though I did not belong. I look around and I see a Halloween-town world, and me wishing I could just…get…it.

I’ve had so many moments where my world is metaphorically in flames, and I’m sitting there with my head in my hands wondering what I’ve done. Again. How in the hell is it so hard to be happy? You watch Jack trying to explain Christmas to the Halloweentown people, and they make Christmas into their Halloween version. They’re all happy just following his lead, but he knows he’s not even happy.

Jack Skellington helped me understand the great Tao.

How did Jack become happy? He stopped trying to be Santa Claus, he stopped studying Christmas, he stopped trying to Christmas, and he realized, he IS the Pumpkin King. He realized he wasn’t happy because he was too busy focusing on being miserable, saying he did not have this, did not have that, and seeing his life as a neverending chore. The harder he fought to understand “that special kind of feeling in Christmas-town” the less he understood. This is exactly how Taoism is explained. This is actually how almost any religion is explained. You cannot actually intellectually understand things like faith, belief, or God. I mean, honestly, how do you even understand Santa Claus?

“Just because I cannot see it doesn’t mean I can’t believe it!”

We use Santa as a metaphor to explain kindness, generosity, and really – magic. (Then we basically tell our children we lied, and let them lose faith in magic, but that’s another post…) These are words, though. Symbols. Representations. In truth, words are metaphors of knowledge and information. Much of our lives exist outside the realm of tangible concepts. I can show you 1+1 = 2 and I can explain it in words. Kindness and love, however, are best put in metaphors, stories, and even best: example. I can wrap my arms around you in a hug, and that’s all you need.

Jack realized after he ruined Christmas (experiential learning – not studying), he’s not Santa Claus, he had to be himself. He gained a new appreciation for who he was, and a new perspective on his life. The metaphor of the great Tao is water, as God, Tao, etc. none of these can be put in words. Jack realized he can’t study Christmas, he just has to be that feeling. Isn’t that what everything teaches you? You can’t study happiness, you have to choose happiness. You can study methods of happiness or practices that support happiness, much like you can smash a bat and turn it into a hat. You can create all the accoutrements of Christmas, but it will not be Christmas unless you are it.

images (18)

After all the studying I’ve done, re-watching my favorite movie as a kid made me figure it out. Irony! Yet that is how it all works. You cannot think your way out of a problem, we just think we can. The more you think, the harder it is, to be perfectly honest. This is why meditation, contemplation, and other practices are important. What is most important, however, is being true to yourself. Don’t act like Buddha, or act like Santa Claus. It’s far more important to find what sets you on fire and do that. If it’s overanalyzing children’s movies to understand the Tao, hey man, whatever works.

Inspiration alights in a child’s wondrous eyes.

Then, you have the iconic image of Jack and Sally falling in love on the hill in front of the moon. Once Jack gets his head out of his ass and sees the woman who loves him right in front of his eyes, that he has been surrounded by everything all along, life is pretty cool, right? Nothing actually changed, did it? Jack changed his attitude, everyone else stayed the same.

25488983_1892049067776455_714701144_n

The first two tattoos I got were Jack and Sally on my wrists.  I got my first tattoos about a month after I started writing as a Memento-esque tribute to myself. They were a mile marker of me realizing my bullshit, writing about my bullshit, and in many ways, killing off my own Oogie Boogie (my bugs! my bugs!) if you will. I chose the placements specifically because, on my left wrist, I used to cut myself. When I was feeling particularly crappy, I liked to stare at my scars and ruminate. Time has marched on, and those scars are all but invisible to anyone but me and my memory. Now, I have Jack’s smiling face and “Smile Now” looking at me on my wrist. On my right wrist, I have Sally looking sad, saying “Cry Later”.  That’s my harmony. There’s no time for ruminating on my old scars, but it’s okay to be sad. It was the first metaphor I created from my favorite movie.

This is why metaphors are important, to me. Every time I revisit a story I love, I find new inspiration. When I was a little girl, I fell in love with the story. As I’ve grown older, I use stories to help me become my own story. The greatest mistake anyone can make, in my mind, is handing the pen of your life to someone else. That includes spiritually too, for words are a copy of reality – a metaphor. They transfer knowledge, they are not the knowledge. Inspiration and interpretation are your gifts alone, as only you possess your mind. Mine, apparently, finds the Tao in Halloween town.

a15081257e0a54c72c08e1d28abaa189

…and I just can’t wait until next Halloween, cause I’ve got some new ideas that will really make them scream!

Thank you for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts – any other metaphors? Any movies that have really inspired you throughout your whole life? I appreciate your likes, comments, and shares so much! This was an absolute blast to put together, although I was questioning my sanity pretty good. hahahaha 🙂