Live And Learn


 

 

The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.

~Attributed to multiple sources

If you are very lucky, as I have been, you will meet someone who changes your life just by the experience of knowing them. There are some whose paths you may cross, as I have experienced, that create a pivotal point in your life. You may then choose to become, as I have done, a force to be reckoned with in your own life based on the wisdom gained from opening your mind to the life of someone uniquely special to you.

This is a time in my life like none other that has come before. I have been gifted with a friendship of unequalled value to me that has changed the way I see everything. Everything. In a very short time, I have accepted the truth of the frailty of life. The fleetingness of the time I have here is highlighted in technicolor. The importance of every relationship I have carries a greater weight than ever before, and the heaviness of those I matter little to is simply a burden to be laid aside on the road to honest living.

I have learned many things this past year. Each lesson is a painful treasure to me and I refuse to hoard any of them, thereby lessening their value. Each one thus far is a game-changer for me, but we are all different so do with them as you will.

I know that I have to live in such a way as to breathe freely and be myself. I have to be able to laugh as frequently and as loudly as I wish. I will not stop myself from stepping outside and opening my arms wide and letting all the joy shine out of me. I’ll dance and sing when I want to no matter how badly I suck at it. I will cry over things that hurt my heart, although I’ve learned it’s self-serving to do so at the expense of another’s need to be strong.

I’ve learned I can honor another’s strength better at times by respecting it, saving my personal need to grieve for when it does no disservice to their courage.

I have learned that my heart feels safe when I can trust that someone will be honest with me. When someone respects me enough to tell me when I’ve hurt them, and by god what they expect me to do about it. I trust the heart that will body slam my ego to the floor and let me know that they love me, but my bullshit is just not working. I trust those who don’t walk when things get ugly because their commitment is stronger than the monsters life can sometimes bring to my door.

I’ve learned to do things that I’m afraid of because each action makes me stronger. I’ve learned to say I love you, I forgive you and I’m grateful for all the parts of you that you bring to the table. I’ve learned to embrace new things, to learn new things and by doing so I become something new and beautiful myself.

This is my ever-evolving story. I swear to you I learn something new every day, and it’s magnificent to me no matter how trivial the wisdom gleaned from the knowledge. I’ll admit that sometimes I get tired of the learning and want to whine  just a little for the rainbows and butterflies world I tried to see around me before I felt the gut impact of what a raw and real life feels like.

It’s liberating.

I’ve learned that any form of abuse is powerless against my knowledge of myself. That as long as I hold myself with grace under such fire, I am total teflon. It thrills me to feel the utter lack of impact another’s opinion has on me when I know my own heart. No one can talk down to me, belittle me or insult me when I just don’t accept it, and may it be returned to them times three.

No one can make me feel small when my heart is larger than their tiny minds. No one can put me down when I refuse to stay there. No one can take from me what I gained by being afraid and acting anyway. Even pointing out my mistakes with gleeful viciousness means nothing when I know how to rock every one of them into making me a better person than just a moment ago.

People are precious. Some are downright gifts from the universe itself, you just have to be clear-sighted and open-hearted to know when they stand before you. I am. I know. I value those who guard my heart when I’m too foolish to do so. Sometimes I still wander into rainbow and butterfly land where all is pretty, but not for long.

Give me the foundation of truth to build a life worth living no matter how long or short the time given. The very first lesson I truly learned from such a friend was that I would rather live a short time living a life with my heart lifted than a long time with a spirit broken.

But I speak only for myself.

 

 

 

 

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Broken Open


Protect yourself, toughen up, live in the real world, don’t be so sensitive. I’ve told myself this so many times. Be the same, blend in, don’t rock the boat, you expect too much, life isn’t a love story, or an adventure, or full of magic or miracles. I’ve heard this from others and replayed it plenty over the years. So I did that thing you never want to do and I listened to all of it, and I did a great job of making myself what I finally became: numb.

The good thing is, when my heart finally hardened enough, nothing hurt me anymore. “I don’t care” was my mantra to myself in a never-ending loop. When faced with negligence, judgment, hostility, hate-spewing, whining, subtle slams of criticism, or being severely under valued~I felt no pain. Moving right along with my “I don’t care” mantra, I breezed through mediocrity and monotony with expressionless grace. I quit writing, because I had to feel to do so, and I had nothing I wanted to say anymore.

Enter the truth. I noticed that I couldn’t feel the good things either. My joy in anything at all was missing. I saw nothing in full color, and felt nothing that truly touched me. I forgot how to love, and how to let myself be loved, with very few exceptions, and it frightened me.

I sat down one day after finding an old MAPP assessment I received, years ago, when I was unsure of what direction I should take, the results of which I disregarded as I tried to turn myself into Super Woman. After page three, I realized to my dismay that I was crying. Silent tears just falling as I read about the young woman I almost remembered being. I also realized with no doubt at all in my mind that I LIKED that girl. I missed her. I wanted to be her, and I should have been.

So here I am. Trying to open this bear trap of a heart with a crowbar. Reading, writing poetry, listening to music that makes me dance, practicing yoga, and meditation. I am working on softening my heart every moment of every day that I can. It’s not easy when the life that I let shut me down is still happening every day. But I am getting somewhere. I’m thinking for myself, and asking questions of myself too long ignored. I’m re-calibrating my soul in a way. I’m leaving my assessment out for frequent reading as a map to the new world, a way of finding joy, adventure, and miracles again.

I want to keep trying, crying, and loving until I’m broken open~and when it happens, my world may not be the same as I thought it should be, but what I am, and what I have will be real. The love I feel, and have, will be worth it. Both for the giver and receiver.

I want to be the open-hearted girl, the lion-hearted girl, the “too much” girl. I want to be that girl who cares too much, cries too much, gives too much, writes too much, and laughs too long and too loud. Come home girl, I miss you.

I Know What Love Is…


This morning, as I was doing the Open Heart Meditation, I had my hands open receptively and was breathing in…out…in…out…and I felt a furry nose land in one hand and a crazy licking dog in the other…and I thought with a smile~ahhh, there’s love right there…my two goldens giving love to momma.

The amazing back story to this is that a few months ago, when I first started meditating, it SO pissed me off to hear a bothersome sound or be “interrupted” by my dogs. I mean, I’m trying to MEDITATE right? HOW ANNOYING!!  lol.

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Like many “going to church” Sundays when parents are yelling for kids to move along, or get ready, or get in the car, or whatever. Who we really are at the moment gets in the way of who we are trying to be. The interesting part of that is~we don’t have to try so hard. All we have to do is relax and let go.

I’ve had a VERY trying couple of days. There were a few times I was looking the old me right in the eyeballs, telling myself mentally to STAND DOWN. There is value, reason, facts and righteousness in that part of me, but no peace. No true north. No lay my head down and feel good about my behavior at night.

When I first started this journey, I PRETENDED to not be angry. Ha!! Ever tried that? It is stroke inducing, I can vouch for that. I looked very successful at what I was trying to do, but on the inside…I was a volcano waiting to erupt at any moment, or maybe an old building ready to implode on itself.

Now is better. Even on my bad days. Even when I see it coming on the horizon, I know it’s not worth it. It doesn’t keep me from feeling the strain, but my decision is made ahead of time, and my reactions~those I can live with as I go along the road I’m travelling now. No pretending. Just me and the real deal.

I know what love is. It’s not pretending and saying I love you while actions say get the hell out of my way. It’s feeling a furry nose in one hand, and a licking dog in the other, and smiling to yourself because “Ahhhh, here’s what love is, right here”. It’s actually BEING the spouse, partner, companion, friend. Actually pulling your weight, and giving support, and being the love someone needs instead of letting them carry your ass too many times. Let’s be who we say we are~no more pretending for the public.

I know what love is. It’s not the words, it’s the living of them.

From Arrogance to Love


I have never really paid much attention to the story of the mythical Narcissus until today. To me, it sounded like a short corny story about a conceited guy. Boring. Until I read a small chapter of The Exquisite Risk by Mark Nepo today, it didn’t strike me how most of us suffer from his same affliction.

Not that we gaze endlessly at our reflections, enthralled by the love of our own beauty~no, it’s more painful, and damaging than that. Especially, but not exclusively, women gaze endlessly and hopelessly at our reflections~judging ourselves less, or fat, or old, or ugly. We are obsessed with how smart we are not, how untalented, and uninteresting we are in comparison to the entire rest of the world. We are full of our superiority in our inferiority. Our troubles are greater, more challenging, dare I say insurmountable?

We are so certain that the entire world is about us and our inability to shine like others. That the skills and gifts and blessings we downplay and degrade are even ours to own. What a load of crap.

In learning to break down my beliefs about myself, somewhere along the line I quit being ate up with myself. I quit judging myself so harshly, quit down-playing gifts and talents that I flat-out know for sure don’t come from me at all! I quit acting and believing as if I am the cause and effect of every dang thing around me.

It has been quite hilarious being me in recent months. I laugh a lot, mostly inside, but sometimes it just busts out. Somebody told me I was beautiful the other day, and instead of immediately being embarrassed and awkward, I just smiled and said “thanks!”~I mean, seriously, I don’t have a thing to do with that, that’s all on my parents and the Creator being creative I guess. Sometimes, when I’m done writing and send my poetry or songs or whatever off into email land, I’ll come back and re-read them and just slap my hands together, laugh and shout out to the Universe “DAMN, you are GOOD!”. I know it’s not coming from me, just through me. Just like beauty, or love, or forgiveness. Through me.

That’s what I want to come through me. Love instead of ego, forgiveness instead of judgement, creativity instead of excuses, gratitude for the more than enough instead of whining about the lack. I want to be excited about the days I’m given, not feel like each one is some kind of punishment.

When did we learn to make life a tragedy starring us? Why not share the stage with the Universe and give the proper credits when due? Why be obsessed with our “less than” or our “lack” that only exists in this ego we are eaten up with.

It’s arrogant, self-absorbed, and ungrateful to live our lives stuck to the mirror of self-judgement. We must get over ourselves. I am certainly trying. And believe it or not, it is a huge relief when you accept it’s not at all about you. It’s about all of us, together, expressing life, as one~in all our different ways.

Let’s put the mirror down, and go live this life.

 

 

Pandora’s Box


Lately, I have moments when I scare myself.

Like that feeling you get when you give something a little push, and it starts a chain reaction that shifts everything in sight, or you open the closet door and everything falls out on you. Yeah, it causes a chaotic mess, but what’s left is clean and open.

When Pandora opened her box, she released all the evils into the world, and realizing what she had done~she slammed that lid down as fast as she could, but it was too late~there was no more containing the bad.

The worst part of the story to me, is the part no one ever tells. When she slammed the lid back on the jar (yes, it was really a jar, not a box) it was too late to keep the evils from the world, but still trapped in the bottom of the jar~the only thing left inside~was the Spirit of Hope.

Seriously, now, that is a bad BAD situation. That is where Pandora and I part company. When I opened my jar, and all the negative, evil, wicked, mean, bad and nasty stuff flew out I was RELIEVED. My whole jar was made of Hope, and I carry it with me everywhere.

The scary part is this~I know things now that I didn’t before. I know what I want. I know who and what I am. I know what I’m supposed to do. The OTHER regular old do the duty and quit your whining and be a Stepford Human  me is like “OMG DON’T YOU EVEN MAKE ONE MOVE. DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT”. Me and myself are kind of eyeballing each other right now. You know~nobody move, nobody gets hurt. =)

So I compromise with me. I take a step at a time. I enroll in school, and send in my writing, and meditate. I tell myself the truth every day~I am becoming who I am meant to be. It’s the journey that’s important and exciting. The journey that is the adventure.  There will always be a new destination, because it’s all in the journey. I am JUST now figuring that out.

It is this new knowledge that keeps me sane, and holding on tightly to my jar of Hope. I tell myself that I can take being where I am and doing what I do because it is refining me for what’s next~it is setting me up for flat-out tears of joy gratitude when it’s time to step out. I do understand that who I am goes with me everywhere, so I have to work it out and grow. If I don’t, I’m just carrying the ugly with me in the jar.

Nope. No thank you. I’m collecting only good dreams and schemes for my jar of Hope. No uglies. Done with that.

So here’s to Pandora, and letting out the ugly, and holding onto Hope.

 

Shadow Heart


This is a shadow day. A day of dark reflection reminding me that nothing remains the same, so  I must evolve into my light, or sink back into my shadow. There is no middle ground. I accept that every day may be a gift, but not all will be easy. I will always wish, in those moments when life is at its brightest and so am I, that I can hold onto the magic. During days like today, I know it really is up to me to either stay in the shadows, or bring myself into the light again, but I have to remind myself. It isn’t so easily rendered on a day like today.

I know that I determine my attitude, yet today I struggle with misery. There is a strong part of me that wants to force things to be, instead of let them unfold. I have to trust that my perfect opportunities are being brought to me, and will arrive at just the right time. I don’t want to carelessly damage the plans for me that are greater than any I can conceive of for myself. I trust  the Creator of all things, just as I trust in my next breath, my next heartbeat,  and my body  working to heal itself. The seasons change without effort, the sun rises, flowers bloom and the earth rotates without any help from me, who am I not to trust in the flawless creation of my life?

So I am telling myself tonight that the shadow I am today is merely a sign of the brilliant light I’m standing in, because without the light I long to flood the world with, I would never see the shadow.

Shadows are proof of Light. Proof of Life, and Hope, and Love.

And so it is.

Heart of Stone


This last year or so has been an epic quest for me to find my heart. My adventure started in a dull and dimly lit place, where no one could hurt my feelings or ego, because I didn’t care enough to be hurt. No one could ever stomp on my dreams, because I packed them away, and rendered them unimportant . It was a safe, colorless, monotonous place of emotional paralysis. For a lot of years, I preferred it that way.

On the flip side of that, when I wasn’t busy not caring about life, I was borderline rage/confrontational. I wasn’t going to take any crap off of anyone.

I’m not sure exactly when I realized that I couldn’t feel anything wonderful either. I couldn’t turn off the painful stuff if I wanted to feel the good, and I couldn’t feel any quality of emotion when I was shut down to protect myself.

What a dilemma, and how exhausting it was. I finally became fed up with being unhappy about my little diatribes, and my attitudes, so I began to give myself instruction toward peaceful living.

Please understand that when I first stepped out of my dimly lit and lifeless room of monotony, I had no clue how to move toward peace. I only knew I had to find it. Somewhere out in the great unknown.

I began by acting peaceful. This first step was awesome for the rest of the world, but for me, not so much. There were many times I was certain that I would implode from the pressure of my self-control holding in my anger, or explode from my failure to do so. I read, studied, read, studied, meditated, yoga, read.

I became my own patchwork guru of survival and thrival (I know, I did just make up a word). I didn’t want to LOOK peaceful, or ACT peaceful. I realized at some point I needed to BE  peace, and it was buried beneath all this ridiculous garbage of life I carry with me every day. I mean, it IS my garbage, so why would I just dump it?

I found a yoga teacher, who became a sister/friend to me. I was able to say to another human being how hard and locked up I felt inside, that I felt I needed to bust my heart open. The constriction of it was no longer acceptable to me. I wanted to be the me I vaguely remembered who was unafraid of joy, or risk, or honesty of emotion. The fearless girl. Mendy was amazing. I really don’t know how she came to be my gift at that time, because I didn’t have anyone I felt safe enough to be honest with about what I dreamed or wanted. I felt and heard her genuine acceptance and belief in me and what I would achieve, and it has given me confidence to continue on.

I have learned to decide, when I become angry, whether to address the cause at the time~or accept it’s not worth my attention and let it go. I’ve learned to expect to be treated differently, that I get to decide who I am and what I do. Absolutely no one else has that power or authority over me. I’ve learned people are the most important thing, and that I am one of them. I’ve learned to be kind to me, to listen to my intuition, to hug my inner brat for wanting to lop off heads and just let it go. Let it go.

I am learning that my excitement doesn’t need to be contained or watered down so people are comfortable with it. Isn’t that what led me to my locked up sad place? Yes it is. I can be brave and try things other people won’t. I can be fearless and give up things that no longer serve me. I can dream as big as I want and know that what the Universe has for me is even bigger than what I can imagine for myself. I don’t have to stay where I am and be who I’ve been. I can keep changing every day until I run out of days, and I’m excited to see what version of me I’ll become next.

I am softening my heart, doing the work to open up to life so I may actually live it. I will open my heart, unafraid, so I have the ability and the desire to love my family and friends, and be involved in a community of like-minded individuals because we’re really all a part of each other anyway.

I will be strong enough within me, to accept you as you, and not the potential clone of  me that I want to turn you into. I won’t change myself, I’ll just uncover me by dumping my garbage where it belongs, and admiring you for doing the same when you’re ready.

Let’s crack it wide open, let the Light in.