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Spirituality

What if Every Choice is the Right One?

Happy Friday! I believe I’ve told you before that I’m an introspective person.  I think a lot about who I am, who I want to be and what I want out of life.  While many may think that’s noble–and I’m one of those people, I have found that this is just another example of the pros and cons of life. What I have found in my existential quest to introspect is that I tend to think so much that it impedes my ability to act.  I don’t actually DO much because I’m so busy thinking about what I’m going to do, how I’m going to do and when would be the best time to do it–among other things.  That’s no way to live!  So I’ve become intentional about making choices so that I’m not finding myself stuck. It was really scary initially because there was this fear of making the “wrong” choice (I can also be a bit of a perfectionist).  But as I found myself deep within the throes of a crisis while trying to avoid making the “wrong” decision, I heard a big small voice tell me to calm down and simply choose and consider the question, What if every choice was the right one?  Ahhhhh . . .

The Ego . . . Friend or Foe?

compassion-857727_1920One morning my daughter woke up in a panic.  She said she was terrified. She’d had a bad dream and apparently this dream rocked her to her core. Even though she knew it was a dream, and even though she knew the most likely cause of the dream—she’d watched a scary episode of a TV show UniKitty, she was still afraid.  She didn’t want to walk around the house until the sun arose or until I walked around with her. First, I had to make sure that I turned on the lights before we entered a room.  I didn’t get upset with her though.  I happily obliged her.  I understood her fear.  I could remember being a child and being afraid of the toilet flushing.  I would have this overwhelming need to rush to my bed and hide under the covers before the toilet completed its cycle.  And while I knew it wasn’t a logical fear, it was one I held for many years.

But beyond that, I understood because in that moment I felt as if I was able to witness the ego in the flesh.  Many psychoanalysts and psychologists from Freud to present have defined and redefined what the ego is. The ego is essentially our identity that is constructed of the thoughts and beliefs we hold about ourselves.  In the spiritual sector, and other sectors for that matter, the ego can get a bad rep.  Check your ego and humble yourself.  Don’t be so egotistical.  Don’t let your ego rule you.  These are just some examples of the warnings we receive regarding our egos.  We’re sold an image of the ego as a savage dictator and brat, hell bent on feeding its own desires well past satiation.  And sometimes that can be true. Sometimes the ego can operate like a toddler.  It can want what it wants without any regard for the consequences.  It can be bratty.  It can be ruthless in its pursuit to feel better.

But what if it’s more than that?  What if the ego isn’t actually a dictator?  What if the ego is actually just like my daughter this morning? Simply scared and asking for attention? What if our ego is actually asking us to shed some light in the darkness to illuminate those shadow parts of ourselves?  We tend to look at ourselves through cloudy lenses. We grade ourselves with high marks when we do those things which are pleasing to us or when we feel good.  When we don’t feel as good, or we feel we’ve misstepped, we tend to fail ourselves.  Perhaps our ego is our loving friend who is guiding us to look beyond the surface of what we see and to see ourselves fully as we are, without judgment.  But since we humans can be more than a bit stubborn, we don’t always take heed at its first nudging so it has to work harder to get our attention. It has to get louder. It has to start kicking and screaming.  Those are the moments where we are at what we deem to be our worst.  Those are the moments we look as if we are out of control. We’re fearful, angry, short-tempered, arrogant, and maybe even more than a bit selfish.  Those are the moments that in spite of knowing the fear is illogical, we refuse to walk around our familiar home until our mom walks with us and turns on all the lights.  But instead of it being about us getting out of control, perhaps we can consider that it’s more than that and that’s just the moment when we have the opportunity to gain control and begin to take the steps to accept ourselves. It’s the moment we get to turn on the lights to see things and ourselves as they truly are and not as they simply exist in our minds, which gives us a chance to accept ourselves and grow.  That’s a pretty radical thought, isn’t it?

Ego, just a three-letter word and yet so interesting. If we did not have an ego, we would be lost. Feeding it too much we would also be lost.

Lida van Bers

 

You Can’t Always Have What You Want . . . Or Can You?

Happy Friday!  I’ve been having a fantastic week, as I hope you have as well.  I feel like there’s been one moment after one moment after another where I’ve experienced some wonderfully happy moments. I’ve laughed. I’ve shed some happy tears. I’ve had people be incredibly nice to me.  What’s more, I’ve actually been able to receive people being nice to me! That’s huge for me! I’ve lived much of my life on the defense, erroneously believing that the world was out to get me, that I would have to scrape my knuckles against the ground to get what I want. And that’s because deep down, there was this pervasive fear that I could not actually have what I want. I’d of course heard people say things like What you want also wants you or You’re the only thing standing between where you are and where you want to be. But hearing them say such things only incensed me and convinced me even further that they didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. It wasn’t until I had an epiphany of my own that the reason I didn’t believe them had nothing to do with any truth in my belief, but more because I was sabotaging my way to making my beliefs true.  Wow!

 

Happiness Really Does Come in a Jar!

Merry New Year!  I hope the year is off to a great start for you.  I hope your holiday season was filled with love, warmth, comfort and all the things that make your heart swell. As for me, I spent my holiday sick. And I mean sick.  I was literally sick for 7 whole days *cue Toni Braxton*. Then I woke up feeling miraculously well and like my old self on New Year’s Day. So I’d say my 2018 is off to a great start.

Upon thinking about things, I’ve found that 2017 wasn’t so bad either.  Sure there were some world wide upheavals and tragedies. No, I didn’t get everything I wanted and there were disappoints. But in the grand scheme of things, 2017 was pretty darn good. How can I say that? Well, a jar told me so.  My jar. My happiness jar to be exact.

I can’t remember now where I saw this, but I saw someone talk about keeping a big jar for yourself. They recommended that you decorate the jar how you like and call it your happiness jar. Each day, you write a note about the things, people, places, or whatever that made you happy in that day. I keep a gratitude journal so I figured this was along the same lines so I figured, why not? and decided to give it a try.  I found the perfect jar and I decorated it just the way I liked.  And then the note taking began.  I didn’t start until May, but I figured that still gave me plenty of time to begin to take notes for the year. And I was right.

Last night I actually went through all the notes and I’m so glad I did.  I had 8 months worth of happiness stored in my beautifully decorated jar and it allowed me to see and take in so much.  My happiness notes allowed me to see that it really doesn’t take a lot for me to be happy. I’m quite happy with the seemingly “simple” or mundane things in life.  There were several things that made me quite happy (repeatedly).  Here are the highlights of my happiness from 2017:

My Fizzle. There were many notes about how happy I was to play with her, watch movies with her, snuggle with her, walk the dog with her, or just chill and be with her.

Food.  Like seriously. I was happy as a clam about food in 2017. Especially chocolate (if you know me this is no shocker). I was surprisingly happy about grocery shopping AND cooking. Now if you know me you know cooking is a shocker. I cooked more in 2017 than I think I ever have and I actually enjoyed it.

Following in my Daddy’s footsteps, mani/pedis seemed to make me quite happy. I talked about those a lot and was really happy about it.

Paying bills. Now this one took me by surprise. But as the year went on, I began to gain an appreciation for simply being able to pay my bills. I was able to shift my perspective from Man this is due! or Damn now I have to pay that! to simply Thank you for the use of this and Thank you that I can now pay for its use.

Working out. I have never really put much thought into whether I enjoyed working out. I just did it because I enjoyed the health benefits. But 2017 helped me to gain an appreciation and love for working out simply for its enjoyment. To quote Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods, Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands.

Yoga made me very happy.  I was made especially happy by hip openers. It is said that our hips hold a lot of our emotions. I’m guessing the hip openers helped me to release a lot. Either that or I’m preparing for some stuff. I’ll allow myself to be the only dirty birdy with that thought.

Meditation. I began my meditation practice again last year and it made a profound difference in my life.  I became more peaceful and calm. I also strengthened my relationship with myself and my intuition.

Giving to others. I’ve always been a giver. Reading my happiness notes helped me to realize how much joy it brings me to be able to pour into others.

Walking. I walked a lot in 2017 and I enjoyed every bit of it.  It made me happy to get out in the fresh air and walk.

Cleaning and decluttering my house. In May I had what I can only describe as an out of body moment and I began purging and cleaning my house.  It turned out it wasn’t a passing fancy. I actually enjoyed the process and I have kept it going ever since.

Reconnecting with my family. 2017 brought me closer to my family–particularly my dad’s side of the family.  It felt really good to gather with them and laugh and fellowship and have fun.

Showers. Apparently 2017 provided me with some of the best showers I’ve ever had because they made me quite happy. I talked about the wonderful showers I had taken quite often.

My Ulta reward points. Thanks to all the shopping I do at Ulta, I had tons of reward points which made it possible for me to get so many of the wonderful things I love at Ulta at discounted prices.  That truly made me happy.

Getting out and about.  I was more social in 2017 than I’ve been in a long while. I made new friends whom I love and had a ball with, spent time with old friends and had a blast. I even got out by myself and had fun.

I also recognized that I learned a lot in 2017 and I didn’t learn through pain. While not every moment of 2017 was wonderful, I can’t say that it was a painful year.

I learned the art of detachment. I recognized how to hold my desires without attaching to the outcome.

I learned how to believe in myself and love myself and actually like myself.

I learned how to appreciate and forgive myself and how to stop criticizing myself.

I learned how to see myself as beautiful, and dare I say, even sexy.

I learned that it’s just as important to receive as it is to give. More than that, I learned how to graciously receive–to allow others to pour into me because I am worthy of it. And I must admit that it felt great to let others pour into me.

I learned to trust myself, thereby extending that trust to the Universe.

I learned how to listen to my body and rest when it called for it without feeling guilty.

I learned thatI don’t need to constantly “do” to be productive.

I learned how to truly stand in my own power. I said No and Enough so much in 2017 and it felt amazing!

I learned that no matter how sh*tty a day is, there’s usually at the very least one thing to make me happy or smile in that day.

I learned that no matter how “tight” or “sticky” the situation felt at the time, some kind of way was made me to get me through–whether it was through my own means or through the help of others it always appeared.

I highly recommend you get yourself a happiness jar. I found it so much more helpful than I imagined. It was so nice to spend the day going through each note and being reminded of the wonderful moments, people, places and things that made me happy.  I think one of the most profound things keeping this jar has done is allowing me to realize that life is so much more than the few memories we attach to and allow to tell our story.  Were there disappointments in 2017? Of course. But keeping this jar shifted my mind and heart to a space where I didn’t attach to the disappointments and hurt, allowing them to color the rest of my life.  My happiness jar forced me to start to look for reasons to be happy instead of looking at my lack, or finding reasons to be disappointed. Through keeping this jar I learned that life is so full. We just have to be open to seeing it. With keeping this jar I learned that the point isn’t whether the jar is half empty or half full. The point is more about what’s filling the jar.

The Same Ole’ Song

Happy Friday!  I’m severely under the weather today and I actually haven’t had a voice for much of the week.  As such, I haven’t been able to record any new videos.  However, I did come across a video that I recorded earlier this year that I never got a chance to post and I feel like it’s really fitting since it’s the last few days of the year and we’re going to start assessing 2017 and declaring what we want for 2018.  Look at Gawd! Won’t He do it! The Fizzle actually inspired this. I watched her do the same thing and become frustrated because she felt that she wasn’t. I was all set to get upset with her and then it hit me. How often have I done the very same thing over and over again. I’ve put my song of life on repeat and thought that since I changed a lyric or two that I really did something different. But I hadn’t.  And while I won’t put you on the spot, I’m sure I’m not alone in that.  At first it made me sad. But as I looked at it further, I recognized that it is good news for us. That means the change we seek is closer than we think because it is within us.  Hooray!  Happy changing my friends.

Who Told You Love is in Limited Supply? And Other Such Fallacies

Happy Friday!  I’ve had quite an interesting relationship with Love throughout my life. I’m convinced that when I signed up for this life I did so deciding that Love would be my focus, as Run DMC once belted, “it’s tricky.”  I’m happy to say that I’ve had a come-to-Jesus moment with Love and I’m happy to say that I’ve released quite a few fallacies I once held regarding Love.  It’s interesting to see how much more simple things have become for me.  What about you?  What fallacies about Love have you been holding onto?  Are you finally ready to let them go.

 

Forgiving and Learning

Happy Friday!  I have spent a great deal of my life hating myself and to be honest it hasn’t felt good at all.  But here’s what’s crazy about that.  For as horrible as it felt to hate myself, I continued to indulge in the hatred.  Part of the reason I hated myself is because I was judging and criticizing myself for all of my past mistakes. I was looking at myself through this lens of hindsight vision, expecting me to have behaved in the past the way I would currently  now that I am armed with all the information I have today.  It was incredibly unfair and abusive to do and while it has taken me some time, I have finally learned to release those wounds and forgive myself.  To be even more honest, it’s been one of the most glorious and freeing things I could have ever done.  I hope you have not been as unkind to yourself as I have been to me. But if you have, I hope you can forgive and free yourself and begin to love all the parts of you there are to love because you’re so doggone loveable.

 

Acceptance is the Way

I actually had no intentions of writing about this ever.  But for some reason, this issue kept showing up in conversations with others who were struggling with something similar and I felt the nudging to share.  I’ve said before that I’m a firm believer that we are not meant to hold our lessons in. We bring healing when we give our voices to share with one another.  We bring healing to others and ourselves.  I believe this unpleasant moment in my life brought forth some healing for me.  It wasn’t actually painful either. However, it was surely an Aha moment.

I have been divorced for 9 years.  I’ve said before how in spite of the trials of that relationship, my ex-husband has served as one of my greatest teachers because I’ve learned a lot about myself.  He didn’t fail to teach me yet again.  During the summer, we had a significant blow up that resulted in me having to call my cousin who happens to be a Seargeant for CPD and also me making the decision that it is best that he and I no longer speak.  It’s not something I’ve ever wanted. I actually hoped that by this point we’d have transitioned into co-parenting bliss. You know, we get along so well cause we’re actually friends.  Unfortunately, that is not the case and I doubt it ever will be.  Good thing for me is that I’d have been devastated if this had happened years ago. But as they say, when the student is ready, the teacher (and the lesson and test) appears.  And so did the test appear, hand delivered by the teacher, my ex-husband, and I was ready so I was not devastated.  I instead accepted it as it is.

While I won’t go into specifics, I will say that his behavior was unacceptable. From my point of view, it was a simple miscommunication.  However, judging from my ex’s behavior, it was about more than the particular miscommunication.  I probably will never know the full reason(s) behind it, nor do I need to.  Suffice it to say that he became aggressive–unnecessarily and unacceptably so.  He did so in front of our daughter and his other children.  It’s important to note that my point of this blog isn’t actually about him or his behavior. This is actually about me and what I took away from that.  I could easily point my finger at him and say he is horrible and call him names. But he’s not.  He’s just a mere man, going through life just as I am. His path is full of lessons for him just as mine is filled with my own lessons.  We have served our purposes in one another’s life and created a beautiful soul in the process. We have gotten all that we needed from one another and our time has come to an end.

Let me say that I’m one of those people who has no problem being friends with exes. I have actually never understood why one wouldn’t want to remain friends with an ex–bar there is no abuse or severe mistreatment.  I’ve always been of the belief that if you were a huge part of my life, I can’t understand why you can’t remain in a different capacity.  Suffice it to say that I don’t let go nearly as often as I should.  But that logic stayed with me through my divorce. As far as I was concerned, I had no major beef with my ex husband other than the fact that he was my husband. Once he ceased to be my husband, I was cool.  But that was selfish on my part because I didn’t give space for him to feel whatever he feels. Now he has never actually said it in words, but I fully believe the man hates me. And you know what? That’s ok.  Problem is, I wasn’t giving him the space for that. In my mind, we are parents and we are tied together for life (and we actually are). Since we are, we may as well be friends. But he doesn’t want to be my friend. I’m not even sure he actually wants to co-parent with me. And again, that’s ok.

Over the years, I have done what I thought I could to mend the bridge between us. I would offer olive branches. I would ask for talks to get to the bottom of things and clear the air.  He would have a list of grievances and even though I didn’t agree, I would agree with him to make peace. My logic was that he needed the win and if I gave it to him we would be that much closer to getting along.  Well, I was wrong. The moment I found myself standing in his doorway 9 years after our divorce having to walk away from his aggression is the moment I finally accepted that it just is not meant to be.  That’s when it hit me.  Aha! It took me 9 years to finally let our relationship go–even though I knew before the wedding, during the wedding and after the wedding that we were not a good fit.  And now it has taken me 9 years to fully accept that we are not and will not be friends or cordial co-parents.  And that’s ok.  Let me say  now that it will not take me another 9 years to get any other memo from this dead relationship. Lesson is learned.

Honestly, I could have saved myself the trouble if I’d accepted this years ago. Now please let me be clear. I am in no way assuming responsibility for his behavior on that night in July.  I’m taking responsibility for my role in not accepting things as they were prior to that night.  And to be honest, it has always been about me and not him.  I struggled greatly with choosing to end our marriage–even though I knew it was the best thing for us.  We just did not fit.  There was a big part of me who felt like a failure.  I failed at holding my marriage together.  Actually, I felt like a failure before that because I chose to marry a man whom I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold down a marriage with for long.  So as far as I was concerned, the least I could do was successfully co-parent with him.  It was bad enough our daughter wouldn’t be from a two-parent household. I owed it to her to show her parents who were mature enough to get along and work together.  I was especially charged about this because when I was growing up I saw my parents argue frequently over two things: money and me.  They disagreed often about the best course for me and I vowed I would never have that problem.  We’ve all heard about saying never, right?  In my mind, the least I could do is get the co-parenting right.  It was not acceptable to fail at both marriage and co-parenting. I wasn’t making space for the fact that doing what was best for everyone involved–including (and especially) myself isn’t actually a fail.

The other thing I struggled with is accepting that my ex does not like me. To be honest, I always felt like he didn’t like me–even during our marriage.  But that’s something that I hoped would change after our divorce and it hasn’t.  I actually think it has intensified.  There are people in life with whom you disagree regarding values and views on life, but you find you still like them.  There are those with whom you disagree and you don’t necessarily like them, but you do find them tolerable.  And then there are those with whom disagree and what’s more, you just cannot stand them. Their views and who they are just gets on your nerves and you do not like them. I believe I fall in that final category with my ex.  Who I am and my way of being bothers him.  The fact that I bother him so much has bothered me.  Can you say co-dependency? I was like a 6 year-old who just kept offering toys to get him to be my friend.  And it never worked.  And I never understood, nor would accept that it wouldn’t work.   My ex and I are fundamentally different and that’s ok. But I had to learn how to  allow it to be ok that we will not get along because of that.  But here’s what I finally get.  Because we are so fundamentally different, my ex sees me through a lens that is veiled by his own perceptions.  He sees a completely inaccurate intent from me when I do things.  No matter how many times I explain my logic and point of view, he sees what he sees and there is no changing his mind. That bothered me a lot.  It finally got to a point where I had to ask myself why it bothers me so much.  The truth is that it bothered me because on some level I still cared what he thought of me–not necessarily as a person, but as co-parents.  I told him when we divorced that I would never intentionally stand in the way of his relationship with our daughter and I meant that.  I have done my best over the course of our daughter’s life to uphold that bargain. I take that seriously. Our daughter is entitled and deserves to have a relationship with her father, no matter what is going on between us. So it bothered me to know that he sees me as intentionally doing things to undermine or disrespect that.  I had to come to accept that he is just one of those people who will never see me as I am.  And that’s ok.  He doesn’t get me. He never did.  But what’s more important is that I understand that how he sees me is not the truth of who I am.  It may be his truth.  But again, his truth is veiled by his experiences and his being and in no way does it dictate the truth to who I am.  And I can’t say enough that this is ok.

The other thing that I realized is that I just had to let go of control.  I’m a pretty laid back person and don’t think of myself as a control freak. However, in some ways, my inability to accept things was a form of me trying to control the outcome.  I’m not sure how long I was willing to go on this crazy ride with my ex, but I know I have gone for far too long and I was willing to do it to make sure that I got the picture that I wanted.  The picture consisted of peace and harmony. After all, wasn’t that in the best interest of our child? I was unwilling to accept that the peace and harmony would come from me letting things go. It has been several months now since that night and I haven’t spoken to my ex since. Frankly, it has been quite peaceful ever since. I can’t speak for him, but I’m willing to bet the same has been true for him.  I certainly hope it is.  And who knows? Maybe now that I’ve stopped fighting against things, some day in the distant future we’ll evolve into the picture I held for so long.  Or maybe not.  Either way, it’s ok.

If there is anyone out there going through turmoil in your divorce or post-divorce relationship, I encourage you to accept things as they are. Release whatever picture you have in your head of how things should or could be.   And for the love of all that is sacred, please don’t take anything personal!  You are reacting from your stuff just as your ex is reacting from their own stuff.  No one is actually right or wrong.  Instead, you are both doing the best you can–at least I hope you are.  I’m not saying you have to like it because you don’t.  But I do believe accepting things will bring you so much closer to peace.  I know it has for me.

Not For Play

Happy Friday!  I hope all is well in your world.  Normally, I like to keep it light and bubbly, but today’s topic doesn’t really allow for that.  I’m talking about depression.  It’s a very real thing and one that we too often sweep under the rug.  Either we have it and we don’t think anyone will help us so we wear a mask and act like all is ok until we crumble under its weight; or we see those suffering from it and deem them weak, or attention-seeking and tell them they need to “get over it.”  That’s now how this works.  That’s not how any of this works.  It’s one thing to not understand. It’s an entirely different thing to not care.  Just some food for thought.

 

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