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 – 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.

 

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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Related:

TMI is never TMI (unless your word count is too high)

So, one of my favorite bloggers – JokersWild – here on this pressing word site told me to answer some questions. Seeing as I am a cup of joe in on a lazy Sunday morning, let’s see how many giggles I can give myself. (If you laugh too, that’s great, but really, I’m here for me :P) Here are his responses 

And now, here are mine:

What are you currently wearing?

  • So, I fell asleep in my clothes last night. You can call me lazy, slightly intoxicated, or overly exhausted mom. All apply. I’m currently wearing a thick cable knit black sweater with black leggings. I also am rocking a mild afro, because my curls can’t be tamed by any product known to man…All of my ensemble is now wrinkly and slept in, but damn is it cozy
  • Upon further reflection, I didn’t have to admit I fell asleep in my clothes…but the cat is out of the bag. 

Have you ever been in love? 🤔

  • I have been in love more times than I can count. Yet, if I might get a little on the deep side: in the past, I have erroneously viewed love as something tangible…transaction like even. “I love you” should merit “I love you too” But…isn’t that idiotic of all of us? Regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs, we all inately seem to hold a notion that we are beings made in the image of god, stardust, energy, love, whatever. My point is: If I am love, then I am always “in” love, or more accurately “Of” love. Like a wave is of or in the ocean, the words are relatively irrelevant.
  • This paragraph is a result of years of introspection, research, and “what the actual fucker-y” as related to my “love” life, which sucks more than a Dyson. It sucked because I did not understand love – for myself or another. So, my love became dependent and needy, in the sense I looked to another for happiness. I confused being “in love” with being “happy” which is another gross mistake. So, I am currently of love, in love with me and anyone who comes into my path. If some of those loves tend to walk beside me, I am grateful for the companionship. I look forward to connecting with someone who gets it, because I am very very tired of being a possessed noun.
  • See all those words? That’s a REALLY eloquent way of saying: I am as single as a one dolla bill hahahahahahaahahahahaha

Ever had a terrible break up?

  • Oh man, have I.  My marriage ended in a fist fight, so there’s that. Yet, amazingly, my ex husband is (as he’s always been) my best friend because the past is an illusion we cling to to avoid the present and happiness. 
  • After my husband, I became “in love” with a dude who I became obsessed with and kind of became a stalker and totally made an ass of myself, hence the realization of the above. 
  • So grateful for all my bad/good relationships, how else would I have figured out I gotta love me first 😀 My ex’s have all been wonderful gurus to help me find the best damn guru on this blue and green orb – ME!

How old are you?

  • I am 35 going on 80

How tall are you?

  • I am 5’5″ which means I am tall enough to trip over my pants, but petite clothes are too short, and the top shelves of cabinets are a mysterious land to which I will never lay my eyes on…

How much do you weigh?

  • I’m going to guess somewhere in the 230’s presently. Thanks to 20+ years of eating disorders, I avoid scales because if I measure myself in numbers, I’ll go crazy(ier)… I have gained so much weight in the last year with stress/emotional eating, that I woke up and realized I had to get my ass back to yoga and stop eating everything or I will put myself right back in old self-destructive cycles. 
  • I could be all sad about the weight gain, but now I have a butt. I never had a butt before, more like a vague suggestion of a butt, or perhaps the bottom of my back got into a fight and decided it was time to go their separate ways… Now, I have a butt. It’s there, I can feel it, and I admire it a lot.
  • This was supposed to be TMI, so I’m going there. Seriously, I look at my butt in the mirror all the time, I say hello…I got a thing for butts – my old blog was “MahButtItches” and my self fulfilling prophecy 2 years ago was “The Butt will Grow” I should have been more specific that “the rest of me will not” 

Do you have any piercings?

  • Yep – I have 6 on one ear and 5 on the other. I also have a nose ring. Until it eroded my gums, I had a tongue ring as well. I am currently itching to pierce my tongue again as well as snake bites, but I doubt I’ll do it. Because I want more tattoos. Also, I can’t shake the notion I’m kind of old for impulse piercings…impulse tattoos on the other hand….

What’s your favourite drink?

  • When I’m being “healthy”, water with lemon or oranges or cucumber or strawberries or whatever. Produce water.
  • In the realm of alcohol, I am an avid IPA nut (which according to research, makes me a psychopath, so watch yourself), I love mojitos too, and margaritas…I tend to avoid liquor now because I end up drunk, naked, and occasionally howling at the moon on a roof…or puking in a car, or puking anywhere…LOOOTS of puking. Actually, I just stay away from Vodka…it’s just bad news bears. 
  • So…hot.

What’s you favourite song?

What’s your zodiac sign?

  • Libra

How long does it take you to shower?

  • If I’m running late, as usual – 5-10 minutes
  • If I have time, I can be in there 45 minutes…well, probably more bath that way, I love baths. I dump all sorts of good smelly shit in there (shit being of the colloquial sense, I do not bathe in feces) and I soak my troubles away

What’s your favourite show?

  • I finished Sons of Anarchy not that long ago, and I am still in love with Jax Teller… #whyIAmSingle – I am in fictional relationships with fictional characters OR vocalists of assorted bands…Just call me Mrs. Maynard James Keenan, if you will…

What’s your favourite band?

  • You know…this has made me realize how useless the word favourite is…”too many to count” would really suggest I do not have a favorite, in that there are so many I love equally? I don’t know, just seems a useless word. Or at least, for me. I guess I do not have a favorite, but here’s an insane amount of bands:
  • TOOL, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer, Stone Sour, Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold, Mudvayne, Portishead/Beth Gibbons, Coheed & Cambria, Notorious B.I.G, WuTang Clan, Eminem, Katy Perry, Machinehead, Trivium, Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, King 810, holy fuck I sound nuts hahahahahahahahaha
  • Independent Artists (making this separate because I really want to emphasize artists changing the paradigm of music…although Puscifer is the same, but I’m babbling): Widetrack L.A.W (Love All Ways)Leo Moracchioli – Frog Leap Studios
  • how about this: I love everything music except country. Hard, hard pass on country. I just can’t even.

Where do you go when you’re sad?

  • I go to my therapist, her name is music. I play songs that echo my emotions so I can feel, accept, and release. Then, like my mind, I change the track and move on. 
  • Sometimes, if things are really tough, I go to my other therapist, my car. I play music and I drive for hours to nowhere. As the scenes change before my eyes, I can let the scenes change inside as well. 
  • Shanteel Yoga Sanctuary where my breath and movement can cultivate my true nature: calm in the storm. 
  • My Journal or blog to give voice to whatever needs a voice.

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

  • Ha, how presumptive, you think I get ready in the morning…
  • Seeing as I tend to wander the earth in my pajams (unless I sleep in my clothes), there is never really “getting ready”. You could call this lazy, I would call it perpetually prepared. 
  • That’s a lie, I call it lazy too. AND might I add, comfortable 😉

Have you ever been in a physical fight?

  • Yes..I used to be pretty violent. My walls lost a lot. 

What turns you on?

  • People who can introduce new perspectives, HUMOR (that should be first, oh well, we’re not deleting here), people who aren’t afraid or ashamed of their scars/bullshit/crazy/whatever, authenticity
  • Neck kisses/bites
  • RESPECT
  • Did I say funny? Funny people. Funny people are the best. I wish I was funny 😛

What turns you off?

  • Idiots, Stupidity, Ignorance, SMALL TALK (EW), disrespect… actually take everything I said above and make it opposite. there you go.

Qualities you look for in a partner?

  • Hmm…seeing as necrophilia is wholly frowned upon, I will go with a pulse and respiration. 

Loud or soft music?

  • Loud baby, if it’s too loud, you’re too old…unless it gets too loud, in which case, I’d prefer soft. It really just depends on how I am using the music. If I’m driving? Sunny day? Windows down and blast that good shit.

Favourite quote?

  • “No one is more dangerously insane then one who is sane all of the time” ~Alan Watts (AKA my dead philosopher husband…#WhyIAmSingle)

Favourite actor?

  • If you followed my blog MahButtItches, you will know this answer very clearly would be Jeff Goldblum. 
  • Also: Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jonny Depp, Mike Myers, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Omg, whatever, all of them…

Do you have any fears?

  • My only fear is not having lived before I die. Seeing as I am dying every moment I’m living, I suppose I am deathly afraid of spiders, and weird creepy crawly things, and small rodents and whatnot. I just don’t need to be surprised by something in my mouth or bed or whatever that I wasn’t expecting.
  • That sounds SO dirty. No delete. Also accurate. I don’t think I’d appreciate waking up with a random penis in my mouth either. Buy me dinner first, sheesh.

What’s the last thing that made you cry?

  • I just finished reading The Book of Joy, and reading the Tibetan children describing leaving their families behind to journey to India…I’m going to start crying now. There was this one little boy talking about saying goodbye to his Mother…these kids are 5…his father brought him to India and said he would be right back and he never saw him again.  Can you imagine? 
  • I also weirdly teared up during Thor: Ragnarok last night when Thor was talking to Sir Anthony Hopkins as Odin and he was saying how Thor is stronger than him…
  • If you think that’s weird, I sobbed, and I mean SOBBED when King Kong died..
  • I’m vewwwy speshul

Last time you said you loved someone?

  • 5 minutes ago when I said goodbye to my friend
  • Then I kissed my wee man and told him I love him too. 
  • Aww fuck it, whoever you are reading this: I love you too

Last book you read?

  • The Book of Joy – Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams

The book you’re currently reading?

  • Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris
  • The Yamas & Niyamas – Deborah Adele
  • The Bhagavad Gita – (actually just bought Ram Dass’ version because I wanted to see his thoughts on this…previously I’ve been reading a passage at a time and letting it marinate, but his is called Paths to God Living the Bhagavad Gita)
  • The Dhammapada (kind of same as Bhagavad Gita, I’m reading a passage every so often and letting it marinate
  • A Course in Miracles

Last show you watched?

  • I guess Sons of Anarchy, oh and Last Week Tonight – it’s like the only show I actually watch with regularity until Westworld FINALLY comes back and of course Game of Thrones

Last place you were?

  • I was at this super awesome adorable wonderful cafe – Down To Earth Cafe – all local/organic food, amazing coffee, it’s just so cool. I have a Sunday Breakfast/Brunch date there with my soul sistah who is going to be joining me on this writing journey as an author on this here blog, so woot! That’s what we were nomming and talking over today.

Last sport you played?

  • Does yoga count as a sport? If not, I have no frigging clue. Probably mini golf. Is that a sport? 

Who’s the last person you talked to?
My wee man – which I mean, my youngest son, not some sort of dirty double entendre or anything. 

The last song I sang?

  • I was just belting out “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes, but covered by Leo Moracchioli. Prior to that was I’m Too Sexy…

Favorite chat up line?

  • WTF is a chat up line? I talk to people on Facebook Messenger and text a lot. I have snapchat, I use it randomly.

Do you have a crush?

  • Uhh…. I would love to have an Orange Crush right about now. 

The relationship between you and the person you last texted?

  • My soul Sistah!

Favourite food?

  • See again with the favorite thing. All the foods. Except the foods I don’t like.
  • Italian especially
  • Although I can’t forget Sushi
  • Omg and Indian – ALL THE KORMAS
  • I’m hungry now

Place you want to visit?

  • It would probably be easier to say where I do not want to visit and that would be an uncleaned port-a-potty. Ugh.

What’s the last time you kissed someone?

  • I kiss my children on the daily, yo
  • I think this was meant to be more scintillating, and in that case, I don’t know, probably a couple weeks ago? Maybe? 

Last time you were insulted?

  • Uhh…probably same timeline as above. We are all shittalkers, yo. Some of us are more honest/verbal….

Favorite sweets?

  • All of the sweets – except cake. I’m not much of a cake person, I don’t know why. Unless it’s rum cake, because that is delicious.

What instruments do you play?

  • I am an avid skin flutist
  • I’m just kidding

Favourite piece of jewellery?

  • I wear a mala pretty frequently, when I don’t forget to put it on. 

Last time you hung out with anyone?

  • This morning, cause i’m super popular and cool and whatnot
  • Who should answer these questions?
    Your Mom.

Women’s Day (Part 3 – Tips)

Do you need some tips to get started? 

  • Do it.
  • If you are not sure how to do it, ask someone who does it
  • Make time to do it, and do not negotiate with yourself
  • If you negotiate with yourself, you will lose
  • Do not be attached to an outcome.
  • Success is not measured in money
  • Success is measured in your smile
  • The act of doing it makes it – if you want to write, write. Viola, you are a writer
  • Your self-talk is your gateway to success
  • If you tell yourself a failure, hopeless, etc. you WILL ALWAYS PROVE YOURSELF RIGHT
  • You will always prove yourself right
  • You will always prove yourself right
  • Everything you think and say become self-fulfilling prophecies
  • “If I only had the time” will merit you always wishing you had the time
  • “If I had more money” will merit you always wishing you had the money
  • The Universe can answer questions; no one can answer a statement
  • People can answer questions; no one can answer a statement
  • Nothing is more powerful than a question
  • People who answer their own questions are geniuses
  • Genius is the ability to create what does not exist in this world
  • Anything you create is an expression of your genius
  • Nothing beyond doing is required to be a genius

Part 1

Part 2

Women’s Day (Part 2 – It’s Okay to Be Selfish)

You have to be selfish to be creative

I’ll tell you: you are you. There is no one on this planet like you. There is no one who sees the world through your eyes. There is no one who has your perspective, your history, and your abilities. Sure, there are people who are better than you at things, there are people who are worse than you. Who cares? We all are completely unique independent beings. It does not matter what anyone else says or does. If you create competition, you will always lose. If you view everything as a force against you, you will always lose.

If you place yourself first and lose the word selfish, you will find your voice – however that is. Our voices and our expressions are a gift that no one can take from us but ourselves.

What does selfish even mean?

self·ish
adjective
  1. (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

I think it is time for a reality check: We. Are. All. Selfish.

Do you go to work out of some sort of grandiose intention to better your coworker’s lives? No, you go to work for personal profit. If you are fortunate, it’s your pleasure too. Did you have kids out of some benevolent intention of populating the world with minaturized versions of yourself that invetiably drive you batshit crazy with WTF and OMG I love them? No, you did it because you wanted to be a parent. Do you help people for no reason other than to help? No, you don’t. At the end of the day, we all help people because helping makes us feel good.

You – your self – is the vehicle through which the universe comes into the world and the world comes into you. There is no capacity to live without being selfish. It’s not a bad thing to want to do good things for yourself. It’s not a bad thing to want to do better for yourself. It IS a bad thing to deny yourself for the sake of everyone else. EVERYONE loses when this happens. What if you can create something that will benefit you AND everyone else? You don’t know until you open the taps to your own expression and creativity – whatever that is to you.

Your obituary, children, loved ones, etc. will not remember your impeccable house or whatever roadblocks you have set. Do you want to lie in your deathbed telling everyone how glad you were that you worked your whole life and were a dedicated employee making someone else’s dreams come true? Do you want to take your final breath knowing you lived someone else’s life?

The only way for a priority to happen is for it to become a priority. If you are feeling pulled to write, paint, sing: the only way it happens is if you make it happen. If you put it off for laundry, deadlines, others, etc. it will never happen. No one will make it happen for you. No one will make you a priority if you will not make yourself. Most importantly: no one will believe in you, if you won’t believe in you.

There is a negative connotation with selfishness, and that’s okay. There are negative aspects of being selfish. If you truly do not have a crap to give about someone else, there’s nothing positive to be said of this. But the people reading and resonating with this are people who genuinely love people so much, they forget to love themselves first. This is why I am telling you it is okay to be selfish. It is okay to do the one thing you are feeling guilty about doing, or you don’t have time for, etc. It is okay to be selfish. You will teach your children more by your “selfishness” then your “selflessness”.

Do you want your daughters and sons to not express their dreams? Do you want them imprisoned in their minds with “what if”, “could have” or “should have”? Then it is certainly not selfish to take time to yourself to be the person you want to be. It is not selfish to show them that you take time for yourself, to teach them to take time for themselves.

If you keep yourself locked inside of your mind, as the churning tides of thoughts become a cacophony, you will drive yourself crazy. Not in a good way, either. Anxiety, depression, busy minds: these are all manifestations of us not bringing the inside out. Inside of you is the limitless possibility of expression. To me, a thought is an unexpressed intention. What is the purpose of a thought if nothing comes of it? Everything in this world is a physical manifestation of a thought. This laptop I am typing to you on, WordPress itself, all existed first as a thought. How many thoughts have you had that do nothing with? It all builds, it all becomes noisier, and it all becomes a vicious self-defeating cycle if you keep repressing yourself. Anxiety and depression come with artists because the artists’ biggest struggle is allowing themselves to be what they are.

Creativity does not just mean paintings and art, though. Look at Deepak Chopra, or Oprah, or whoever. These are people who pursued their latent gifts and passions – medically, TV personality, chef, whatever. Each of us has gifts like this. The difference is some run with them, and some run away from them

Part 1 – Women’s Day (A Day Late)

Part 3 – Tips

Women’s Day (A Day Late)

As per usual, I’m running late on life. I find it adds to my unique charm. I wander the earth in PJs and post relevant content when it’s no longer relevant. 

Yesterday, when it was actually International Women’s Day, I wondered: “What exactly are we celebrating here?” I could go on a rant about rights (I won’t), or toss my hat in the #MeToo movement, or anything, but instead, I just want to focus on where I think most women need to focus:

Our Creativity

I feel as though the Universe has been nagging me to write on this. I have had more than a handful of women ask me how to start blogging, how to write, how to be creative, etc. If this is you, wonder no more…

When I hear the word equality, I get irritated. What, exactly, is equal for women at this moment? If I were to flash back to any point in my adult life prior to January 2017, my life was anything but equal. I had the privilege of working 40+ hours a week, caring for my children, cleaning my house, and cooking.  Those responsibilities rested solely on me. When did I have time to express myself or be creative? I suppose I got creative with cooking, which I do love and enjoy. As a woman who has dreamed of being a writer since 8th grade, where does one acquire the energy to dream when they lack the energy to even “live up to my responsibilities”? When, exactly, was I to have time to do anything I wanted when everything I needed to do ate all of my time. When I “selfishly” would flop on the couch in exhaustion, or maybe attempt to scratch out a few words in my journal, I’d mentally berate myself for the house still being a mess, or whatever.

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None of that was actually me, though. That was me attempting to live what I believed I was expected to live. As we put on all of these hats, we tend to forget to take these hats off. My writer hat was overshadowed by the Mom, Wife, Career Woman, etc. hat. I fully subscribed to the notion that I had to be more human than human to make it. Equality is supposed to mean equal, yet I think the push for equality has pushed women over the edge. I don’t see how any of us make mental, emotional, or spiritual ends meet when the material world dominates every fiber of our being.

I am not even focusing on working moms here – if you are a Stay at Home Mom, you are now expected to “make up” for the fact that you don’t work (you lazy slob you…raising your children! get a job!) (KIDDING) As a Working Mom, you are expected to overcompensate for your guilt at not raising your children, while still meeting the standards of a Stay at Home Mom, because who does it if you don’t? As a woman who is not a mom, you are expected to justify why you are lazy and don’t have children, or why you aren’t “more successful” with the free time you have.

Women are expected to do more to catch up with men. We are supposed to be the same, but do more to be the same. We don’t get to clock out at the end of the day and flop. We have responsibilities that could run us 24/7, if we allowed. Don’t think I am blaming men here, either. I blame the gender-neutral collective of society. We all – male and female – are really getting screwed. We all seem to bust our asses to not have time to live. Those of us who pursue dreams, creative endeavours, etc. are scoffed until we make bank. Suddenly, we’re inspired geniuses. download (17)

We’re also not supposed to get paid for creativity until we prove we’re decent. All of us here on WordPress likely have a dream we will be discovered/published/turn this into a paid gig and we keep putting out words and content with intentions of getting attention and hoping that attention will one-day garner dollars. These endeavours are easily back-burnered for things that “really pay” or “actually have a purpose”. When you combine this reality with all of the responsibilities we juggle, how does one make creativity a priority? How does one stop from being discouraged before starting?

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I think step one is realizing that none of us is the same. We are all equal in the sense that we all get this life to do with as we wish. We are equal in the sense that we are human. Society and life, however, do not give us all the same deck of cards to play from, and I think it is a disservice to every person on this planet to keep forcing the notion that we do. Some of us have way more adversity to overcome than others. All of us have a myriad of strengths and weaknesses that deal with our gender, psychology, physiology, and on and on.

Women are different than men, and I think it’s time we start embracing and hell, emphasizing what makes each of us uniquely same creatures. I am tired of trying to be a man to be successful! I did. I was the breadwinner in our house. It emasculated my (now ex) husband (Get your pitchforks, he does suck for feeling the way he was trained to feel by society, he should have empowered me and sucked it up, right? Eye roll.) It caused no end of fighting because I felt as though I was never supported or assisted. I did not feel like I had a partner because he came home and did not seem to help me.

Or did he? I couldn’t tell you anymore, it was years ago. It doesn’t matter: I see the same feelings repeated by so many women. Now that I am on disability, I STILL won’t even express myself creatively because I feel guilty for not cleaning more. I feel guilty going to yoga because I should be folding laundry. Do you think for a second my ex has communicated this to me? Hell no! I have communicated this to me. I have set these expectations for myself and I am the only person limiting myself from expressing myself. This is true for everyone who is feeling like they cannot make themselves a priority. The only one doing this is you.

I am writing this as a prompt to you, any you, who is reading this. There are no pre-requisites to expressing yourself. Your ability and talent can only be attained if you begin leveraging it. If you set conditions on yourself – not until the house is clean, not until x, not until y, you have effectively told yourself you will never be able to express yourself. Why? Because everything you say is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Equality is something you hold for yourself. If you feel you must work harder to achieve anything, then that is your reality.  Your beliefs will shape your reality, and if you believe you are inadequate, you will always prove yourself right. Equality is only expressed by you. If you look for equality external to you, you will always be lacking. Why? Because you are your own judge and jury.

Creativity is an element of the divine feminine, which is innate to all of us. We all have the capacity to create, we all have the capacity to express. This comes from a connection to whatever you have a connection to. Women have the physical capability to give birth, which is also an ability to give birth to ideas, projects, etc. We also nurture. We want to care for everyone, but we often forget to care for ourselves first. Selfish is so often thrown against us, that we prevent ourselves from being everything we want to be. Who are you to do what you want when so many people are counting on you?

Part 2 – Let’s get rid of selfish, shall we?

Part 3 – Tips

 

The Struggle is Real(ly a choice)

Why do we all struggle? Why do we all suffer? Why is everything so hard?

 If you have spent any time reading any sorts of new age, spiritual, Buddhist, even some Christian philosophies too, we collectively have a notion that suffering or struggling is something that is to be overcome – like our egos. In either the ego or suffering, we feel we must “do” something to “get” something.

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We can use many different words aside from overcoming – accepted, given over to God, surmounted, etc. It doesn’t really matter, because rarely is the word “played” or even “enjoyed” applied, yet those are the best two words to both understand and find liberation in.

The ego (I realize I’ve written about this several times now in my ever inconsistent blog) can mean a myriad of definitions depending on the perception of the eyes grazing my meanderings. To me, the ego is the very idea of me. The person who types these words is not my idea of me. My idea of me is very conflicted and ever-changing. My idea of me is a person with very unstable moods, easily distracted, easily overwhelmed, rife with anxiety and depression, and generally a fuck up in every sense of the word. The flow of the words presently, however, come from a calmness that I can only experience when I stop thinking about myself.

In that paragraph, I have nothing positive to say about my notion of myself. However, that notion of myself also includes a very funny, very sarcastic, incredibly intelligent, insightful, excellent chef, and sexy ass bitch. Like cooking, I can sprinkle any of these ingredients in however I’d like. But, deep in my self, I feel and I have always felt none of this was truly me. I feel as though sometimes my notions of me and wardrobes go hand in hand. “I feel like being the girl who wanders the earth in pajamas me today”

Liberation comes from seeing that none of these is you. You are an incredible actor playing yourself in the world. We are so accomplished and effortless at playing ourselves, we’ve made it serious business and hard work. This is how we are so perpetually conflicted. Many of us believe a struggle is necessary. Without hard work, sweat, suffering, etc., we cannot achieve greatness. I doubt my abilities to write because I do it easily, so I literally think anything I write sucks because it flew out of me in a few minutes.

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Most of us feel like we have to fight for love, suffer for love. Remember Self-Esteem by The Offspring? “The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care…” Yet, Buddha and Jesus taught us we do not have to suffer. We simultaneously believe we must struggle and suffer, should not struggle and suffer, and cannot achieve anything without struggling and suffering. As with parenting, most of us kick our asses coming and going. No matter what we do, we think it’s wrong, and we suffer.

I heard this chillstep mix (opens in new tab, if you want to listen). This quote, “It’s not pushing the wheelbarrow that is the hard part. It’s thinking about it.” I have tried to ignore thinking about things, but if I think about not thinking, I create new thoughts. At first, I thought about how hard yoga was as I practiced. I would focus on how much my leg hurt, or how difficult it was breathing, and so on. Yet, if I remain solely focused on my breathing, I do not feel pleasure or pain. I feel sensation and awareness with nothing else. How is this possible?

In yoga, if I breathe, I allow a calm focused center to emerge. My body and mind react continuously, but I become aware of what I struggle to be aware of at other times. I call it the eye of the storm. It is the space within you that you feel looks out in the world, yet doesn’t quite feel like anything else. It’s this part of you that is paradoxically your favourite sweatpants that do not quite fit. The reality is, however, that center is always you, it’s always choosing the wardrobe/ego, you just are the pants telling yourself you are not the pants, or maybe you are? This is us thinking to ourselves. We make a statement, question, statement, and almost never actually make a decision. Decisions seem to come from a place that is not a parrot talking to its reflection.

So much confusion and seeming contradiction stem from attempting to put what you are in words. This is because none of us exist in words. None of us exist in the thinking mind. We think we do, but just because we think it doesn’t mean it’s real. I can think I’m a pirate, but if I dress like one, I might get escorted out of work one day. Our thinking minds cannot comprehend our ability to know and be, because knowing and being are realms outside of words and thinking can only happen in words.

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Pain is only pain because we label it as such in our thoughts.  Sometimes, this is imperative. If someone were to stab you in the hand and you decided to take a zen approach to being stabbed, you may continue to be stabbed and ultimately die. The purpose of our ego is to keep us alive. It is a scanning device ensuring the idea of you is still in existence and protecting the idea of you. The reality of you is that you can hear your own ego, therefore you are not the ego. If you were your thoughts, how could you hear yourself think? This is the confusion many face as they embark on spirituality: the ego is NOT BAD! If someone is stabbing you in the hand, you should not accept that, you should feel the pain and you should definitely do something about it. Pissing and moaning about a sore ass due to chair pose, on the other hand…..Either way, they are sensations and stimuli, and either way, you can choose your response accordingly.

Good and bad are illusions of the ego. They are labels we apply to sensations and stimuli. A sore muscle can be bad because it is uncomfortable or good because you know you exercise. The sore muscle hasn’t changed, just the labels we applied in our mind.  It’s incredible how differently we all see the world. We have no way to prove each of us sees the same blue when we look at the sky. How can you describe a color? That’s where I was missing the fun part. Our egos, right now, controls most of our perception of the world. Perception is our view of the world. It’s like sunglasses for the brain.

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Our egos make us feel disconnected, yet it is through the ego we experience the world. How can we transcend the ego? As we become more aware of the mind, we can see the power that perception has. When we perceive that we are struggling, or in pain, or something is negative, we want to change it immediately. Yet, if you find the way to change the perception of the situation alone, the situation itself will no longer bother you. This is where choice comes in to play.  As the selector of your ego, of your wardrobe, of your thoughts, of everything you allow in your existence: you can either chose to struggle or you can choose not to.

How can any of this be enjoyed or played? I said that is where liberation lies. If your perception dictates your suffering, this means your perception can be attuned to finding the fun, the positive, the joy in every situation. If you are not your ego, then everything you do and view through your ego is a play – in the theatrical sense. You can stop taking yourself so seriously when you see that it is perfectly normal that you are a conflicted confused mess of ego while simultaneously being the eye of the storm of your own creation.

We all strive for more complicated answers: “It can’t be that easy, I haven’t done x,y,z, that’s why it’s all still so confusing” etc. Yet, the truth remains unchanged regardless of the words we put in front of it. The words are what makes it confusing, positive, or negative. Coming back to the sore muscle, you are only aware of that part of your body because it is sore. In any situation that is causing you a negative reaction, it is because you are aware of the negative. You can simultaneously be aware of the positive and become neutral again. This same correlation can then be applied to our ego. If we realize that our thinking is what is causing the notion of the struggle itself, we can see that we do not need to struggle anymore.

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21 Days Makes a Habit

A metaphor for my life is an adorable little squirrel gathering nuts into a precise pile just to have something scatter all those nuts. Inevitably, the squirrel restarts gathering nuts and attempting to figure out what to do with the nuts, and I’ve said nuts a lot now…

In January 2017, psychosis allowed me to see what it is like to actually go nuts. For the last year, I’ve been so fucked up, I forgot I was a squirrel. Or maybe, I am a human who should stop thinking of herself as a squirrel. (note to self)

Not a day goes by that I am not haunted by questions or memories. How exactly does one go back to their day job when they see something and question if anyone else actually sees it too? That’s me, or maybe that was me. I don’t know. Weirdly enough, “I don’t know” is the gift of psychosis. I don’t know what happened to me, I don’t know if it will happen again, I don’t know why I heard demons on the radio, and I don’t know what is wrong with me.  As a type A control freak, those are a lot of identified variables to keep me up at night. For most of the last year, that’s what I focused on. It was eating me alive – mentally, emotionally, and physically. I was paralyzed by fear, sadness, shame, and pain.

quote-no-one-is-more-dangerously-insane-than-one-who-is-sane-all-the-time-he-is-like-a-steel-alan-watts-47-80-69Deep down, I know I have the answers. I fought through this by not fighting. For once in my life, I accepted everything. After my mind and everything that seemed real shattered in a month-long grip of psychosis, I accepted it all. When my car got totalled by yet another shitty dude in a long list of shitty dudes, I accepted it. When I decided I needed to move back in with my ex-husband because I was incapable of caring for myself, let alone my three kids, I accepted it. Most recently, when I was let go from the job I had for over 10 years due to not being able to come back to work, I accepted it. When I couldn’t write, practice yoga, or meditate, I accepted it. I was terrified I was going to become some sort of lazy slob, but deep down I felt that I was supposed to be still, be quiet, and be patient. Every day, I fought a really weird war of laziness. To do something or not to do something, that is the argument. I was going from Type A Control Freak to learning what it means to go with the flow.

It was not until I started focusing on what I did – actually did every day, as opposed to what I did NOT do every day. I realized if I wanted to start rebuilding, I had to start at the beginning. I thought creating this blog would help, but every time I tried to write it was like starting a car with a dead battery. I had no inspiration because I don’t even know who I am anymore, let alone what I want, and so forth.

“I” wasn’t there. Or, I guess the truth is, “I” was there, the real me wasn’t. I – my ego – is completely concerned with success, results, accolades, etc. The real me is concerned with smiling, breathing, and being grateful. The real me sees beauty in every moment, “I” want results.

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Yoga taught me to see my ego results in little ways – instead of seeking instant gratification or pushing myself beyond my limits. Yoga shows incremental growth and impermanence. Every day, something is new and every day, it changes. One day, I might balance really well. The next day, I might fall, but I did a plank really well. It doesn’t matter because really, I’m overjoyed to simply be on my mat. A few months ago, I would wander around my house aimlessly and depressed, and I’m on my mat. So, literally, everything I do on the mat is growth. If I were to practice yoga from my ego, I’d quit right away, because I “suck”, I can’t do this and I can’t do that, and I am fat. Yoga doesn’t let me do that, though. Now my ego can shut up – cause look who’s writing now too?

All of this was not possible until I joined Shanteel Yoga Sanctuary. I joined on January 26th. 1 year prior, I was standing in a mental hospital trying to kill myself convinced I had ruined everything in my life. I went to my first class on the 29th. I was shaking and having a mild panic attack on the way. Worst case scenarios, farting, mooning a studio full of yoga experts, and so forth charged through my head in a 10-minute drive. When I checked out the studio, I had chills and all I could hear in my brain was “home”. I reminded myself of that as I drove, and I jumped in and did my class. I didn’t fart or moon anyone, and at the end, I was a sweaty happy mess. Since that class, I’ve gone pretty much daily. Some days, I do multiple classes.

After the first class, I lost the fear of being in a class. I was surrounded by amazing people in a community. Every class is focused in spirituality. I’ve been chanting to Ganesha (remover of obstacles!) with beautiful people on Sundays in Meditation. I can get into hour long convos after class about Moon signs and astrology. It’s not to say the past year had me doing nothing because I was studying a lot. My obsession with Jung deepened as did my love of Buddha as did a newfound fascination with all things astrology. My circle of people I could talk about this to, though, was non-existent. I think the hardest part of the last year was how lonely I felt. Finding Shanteel eradicated that for me. My biggest fear became that I would do what I usually do: really get into something and give up on it, or have something happen and lose it. I know I’m always my own worst enemy. I found myself afraid I would once again rob myself of the things that bring me joy.

Thanks to the Buddha, I re-trained my brain. Today is all I need to be in. Did I practice yoga today? What am I carrying off the mat with me today? If I didn’t physically unroll my mat today, what lesson am I practicing? Am I breathing? Am I present? Am I moving my body?

All of this is possible by finding a home and a community.  I said today, I did not find a yoga studio. I found a home and a family. I had thought to practice at home was the answer, but I see now that the community and the teachers are what keep you coming to the mat.

Yesterday, it dawned on me that I have been practicing yoga consistently for 21 days. 21 days creates a habit. 21 days creates a routine. For the first time since my psychosis, I created a habit and routine. I created my foundation. I started crying last night at the realization, especially when my brain echoed, “Imagine what you can do in the next 21 days…”

21 days in the face of 365 days of pain. 21 days and I’m just getting started. I can’t wait to write this journey with you all.

What can you do in 21 days? My next post will have tips 🙂 Comments, likes, shares are always appreciated and thank you for reading!!!

 

 

Tree Hugging Hippies Are Cool

Innocent people were gunned down at school, so naturally arguing, blaming, and the media cycle makes a ton of noise but accomplishes nothing.

Fighting and arguing on Facebook and with any human being accomplishes nothing but more divisiveness. “United we stand, divided we fall”

Are guns the issue? I find myself more concerned about why so many are so unhappy, so miserable, so full of hatred, that they would take a weapon and take the lives of innocent people.

On the flip side, I have to remember in many countries, hostile armies/people/etc gun others down for their religion, skin color, etc. There are innocent people fleeing their home seeking safety from the violence and wars killing their loved ones. Children are dying everyday at the hands of hatred and fear.

It’s a truth many shrink away from. It is easy to blame the guns, but the truth is if there is no gun, there’s a bomb, or something else. If you want tighter gun laws – get off Facebook and fight your legislators. But really, our system is broken. Millions upon millions of dollars have been dumped in the pockets of the people we the people have put in power.

We have put these people in power. We forget that we are the ones with the power, even though the system is flawed and broken. We’re not as small and powerless as we like to think, because we are all experiencing this life as humans together. There is pain everywhere in the world. There is joy everywhere in this world as well. What do we cultivate and focus on? Your thoughts and focus create your reality.

I see pain and sadness. I see so many people desperately lonely. Social media has given us an illusion of connection. As we sit with our faces in our phones, we overlook people in general and the ones we love, disconnected from reality and divided from each other.

When animals and people are in isolation too long, they can go insane. Become aggressive and attack. When you say mental illness, do you truly believe inhibited serotonin, dopamine, etc. are causing human beings to take an assault rifle and gun down kids? Do you think even an illness as serious as schizophrenia could cause this?

The highest risk factor for most DSM V diagnoses is suicide. Not homicide.

These people are mentally deranged, but I think we need to stop diagnosing people via media. As awful as this is, we need to consider ourselves fortunate that we don’t live where this is a daily norm. We need to start looking at one another and smiling. Say hello, how are you. Acknowledge human beings as human beings. Hold a door. Say thank you. Be grateful.

Right now, all I see is fear and anger being spread. Fear and anger make picking up a gun and killing easy. Love and unity are our natural inclinations and we are losing touch with that reality. Compassion – not empathy – for ourselves and each other.

I probably sound like a tree hugging hippie but I can vote and write letters to legislators. Beyond that, my circle of influence is small. And in that, I am trying to spread hope and joy. Hope and joy do not incite violence. Maybe if we all felt less alone and isolated, the world would not feel scary and divided.

I’d rather allow my thoughts and focus create a reality where a smile can make a difference in someone’s day. Because that is a truth that is undeniable.

Mr. Rogers taught us to look for the helpers. It’s time for all of us to be the helpers.