Empaths and Energy

It has been several years since I first read about empaths and what it means to be one, but it was like a huge, bright light got turned on for me, and it helped me understand why I move through life the way that I do.  I won’t reinvent the wheel here, because you can do a google search right now and find a million articles telling you what being an empath means and how to know if you are one.

For me, one of my traits is that I am very sensitive to the energy around me.  I’ve always been this way, but I didn’t always realize it.  I have always absorbed the energy from other people, but didn’t know I was doing it.  So at times, I would internalize someone else’s feelings and take them on as my own.  This worked to my detriment as a child growing up in a house with a lot of fighting.  I was absorbing that negative energy and internalizing it as my own burden to carry without realizing what was going on.  Looking back, it was exhausting and was at least the partial cause of my depression as a teen.

In recent years as I realized just how powerfully other people’s energy affected me, I would still feel drained and negative after having an interaction where someone was giving off a very strong, negative energy.  I’ve done a lot of work to learn how to separate someone else’s energy from my own. Recently a teacher of mine channeled for me and found that I am able to differentiate my energy from someone else’s about 70% of the time.  So, about 70% of the time, when I interact with people, I can tell what energy they are emitting and I am absorbing from them.  And recognizing this has been very important for me, because the more I can separate my energy from someone else’s, the less I am going to unknowingly take their energy on for myself.  I use this a lot in my day-to-day life.  For instance, I use people’s energy to make decisions about whether or not I want to spend time with them. I have very strong intuition and I have been learning to trust it, and the more that I do, the stronger my intuitive sense becomes.  If someone has a really good energy about them, I don’t need to know a whole lot else about them before I find myself wanting to hang out with them.  I pay attention to the energy I receive from potential baby sitters, friends, healers etc.  A person’s energy tells me a lot about them. And I take it more seriously than the words that someone tells me, because people can lie, but energy doesn’t.

Last year, I had an experience where I was hanging out with a friend just after one of their parents died.  I enjoyed my time with them and felt good while we were hanging out.  But when I went home, I felt drained for no apparent reason.  Based on what was going on with me, I felt like I should have had more energy.  And I was excited about an upcoming concert that night too.  Then I realized what was going on.  I had taken on some of my friend’s energy during our interactions.  I took on some of the heaviness of the situation, and some of the sadness.  I actually had to take a nap before the concert. It was a really cool experience for me to be able to recognize that what I was feeling was not a direct reflection of something going on in my own life.  I think that sometimes, part of my purpose here in this lifetime is to take on some of the heavier energy around me and transmute it to positive.  I think that’s part of what I was doing in this case without even realizing it.  I took on some of the heaviness so that my friend would not bear all of that weight alone.  But what I am also realizing is that it is not my responsibility to take on energy that does not belong to me.  And that in fact, as Abraham Hicks says often, I cannot become poor enough so that others are not poor, I cannot become sad enough to keep others from being sad, and I cannot be negative enough to keep others from being negative.  It’s just not the way the Universe works.  In becoming happy and prosperous, I am not taking away from anyone else.  There is always enough to go around.  We live in an abundant Universe, not one that is lacking.  It is much more useful and important that I remain in my vibration of positivity and attracting prosperity, so that I can be an example that others can follow to help them find ways to raise their own vibration.  We don’t do anyone any good by lowering our vibration thinking that if we bring ourselves down into a state of sadness, lack, negativity, that we will somehow help those around us feel better, or at least not feel so bad.  I have spent my life working this way.  Feeling bad to be happy when I was surrounded by sadness.  Feeling bad to be healthy when I have been surrounded by those with illness.  But the important thing that I have been learning and figuring out and working to internalize is that this method never works.  Plus, I end up feeling terrible.  I listened to a great audio clip on YouTube today of Abraham Hicks, and it ends with this quote that is my take-away on this subject and that is “I’m going to be who I know I can be, so that I can show you who I know YOU can be.”  You can listen to it HERE.  It is often said that misery loves company.  When we are down, we get comfort when others join us in that vibration.  But, when was the last time that someone joining you in misery really helped you dig yourself out of the hole that you had found yourself in?  I know that I have been uplifted by others who are uplifting.

For those of you in a health care profession, or experiencing illness second-hand via a loved one, I want you to know this:  at no point in my healing journey have I needed anyone to lower themselves to my level of despair in thinking that it would make me feel better.  I did not want anyone to “fix” my problems for me or take away my illness.  I simply wanted support and love from those around me.  I had to go through all that I went through to get to the level of high vibrational functioning that I now get to experience.  My experiences not only make me a better nurse, but they make me a better human.  My experiences give me much more compassion than I could have developed any other way.  Like I have written many times here, losing my health completely has made me appreciate my health and body more than I would have otherwise.  I live my life in a state of gratitude for all that I have because I almost died, not in spite of it!  Therefore, losing my health is one of the best things that has ever happened for me, second only to the birth of my son.  Let me repeat that:  LOSING MY HEALTH IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED FOR ME!  Granted, I did not feel this way as I was going through it.  But I can tell you from where I am currently, if I could go back in time and change things, I would NOT do it.  I would experience everything I have gone through again knowing that it would lead me to my current level of gratitude for this precious life that I have been given.

Everything is made of energy.  We have limited senses to perceive the energy around us, but it runs through everything around us, and through all of us.  That cannot be denied.  Are you aware of the energy you are putting into the world?  Is it positive?  Does it uplift those around you?  Are you an empath, like me, who has a difficult time differentiating your energy from those around you?  Does knowing that you’re an empath make you feel better too that you have some clarity about why you move through the world like you do, and why you feel SO MUCH all the time?  I know it helped me a lot to realize my gifts as an empath.  Sometimes, those gifts have felt like a curse, because I can feel the hurt around me as if it’s my own.  The first step for me was connecting the dots, the next steps have been creating energetic boundaries for myself.  If I can do it, so can you.

I have more difficulty differentiating the more at large energy field of the world from my own than I do the energy of other people.  It’s much more common that I take global energy on as my own before realizing it. It becomes most apparent once a friend who is also highly sensitive mentions the way they have been feeling and the energy that they have been picking up on.  Then we all share a collective sigh of relief to have some understanding that the energy affecting us is outside of us and our lives.  My brain likes to connect what I am feeling to something happening in my own life, yet it doesn’t always realize that the energy I am sensing isn’t always originating with me.

As our collective consciousness continues to shift and more people begin to awaken, it is imperative that we do the inner work that each of us needs to do so that we can keep our vibration high, even when we can feel the energy of the collective dip down.  Those of us functioning at a higher vibration will be the best help to others if we stay where we are, so that they can rise up to meet us, versus lowering our energetic vibration to meet theirs.  This is the work that I am currently doing within myself.  I am working to do things that make my energy vibrate higher, so that I can live my best life and in turn, affect others positively.

If you have read my other posts, you know that I got into nursing after I, myself, became gravely ill.  Even as I was struggling with my own health issues, I was in nursing school, learning how to help others.  I feel like my journey with nursing has come full circle.  In nursing school, I was able to witness some of the people who were present during my heart surgery, perform an open heart surgery.  A few of them even remembered me.  I was able to thank them for saving my life and told them that I was using my experience to go into nursing so that I could help others.  In nursing school, I met with a few of the nurses who had been there after my surgery and had come to check on me as I recovered in the hospital, and I thanked them.  As a new nurse, I eventually ran into the nurse who had taken care of me on 3 West, the step-down ICU, and I realized that her name wasn’t “Angel” as I had remembered from the scary night that she took care of me prior to my heart surgery, and was able to thank her for being there with me and getting me the help that I needed.  I’ve had the honor of taking care of some of the sickest patients in the hospital who were wrought with pain and fear, and I overcame my fear of death, as I helped alleviate their fears.  In taking care of new Mothers, I have been able to heal my wounds related to not having the natural birth that I had hoped for, because I see now that the healthy Mom and baby ARE truly all that matter.  And I have been a part of the process of c-sections to show me why I did not get to hold my son right away, which has been healing.  I have helped Moms struggling with breastfeeding which helped heal the parts of me who placed so much responsibility on my shoulders to feed my baby the best milk I had available, even when it wasn’t going so well.  Working as a Nurse has given me such a wide variety of people and energies to work with, which I believe has led to me being so good at recognizing my own energy vs others’ energy, a skill that is highly valuable to me for so many reasons.

Early in my nursing career, I often felt pulled down into the despair that my patients were feeling.  Over time, I have learned to separate my energy from those I care for in a way that makes it much more healthy for me and for them.  But even still, working in the hospital as a Registered Nurse lends itself to a level of stress that only other Nurses can relate to.  Adding to that stress the fact that I am so sensitive to the energies that surround me, the hospital is not a good working environment for me.  Luckily, I have been through enough in my life to recognize when something is affecting my health negatively, and so I am moving on.  This is not the first time that I have witnessed a direct correlation with the stress that I experience and the health problems that it creates.  So, I am choosing to not wait until the health problems become debilitating before I change my course.  I am proactively choosing to put my health first, above EVERYTHING else, including my job.  I will continue to help people in other ways, and if you want to know a bit more, you can check out my “About Me” page above (I will be writing more about it here shortly).  My purpose in this life is to heal myself, body, mind, and spirit, so that I may help others navigate through their own healing journeys.

Life really is always working FOR us.  Everything that happens for us in this life is meant to grow us so that we can become the people we came into this life to be.  How have you benefited from your challenges, and in turn, how have your challenges benefited the world around you?  Have you discovered a way to use your empathy to help yourself and others?  Are you able to see the blessings in your extremely empathic nature?

It’s never too late to start the day over.  It’s never too late to choose to put yourself, your happiness, and your health FIRST.  Life is too short to live it any other way!

Listen to Michael Franti and Spearhead’s song “Never Too Late” HERE

Thanks so much for reading.  I’d love to hear from you!  If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it.

 

5 Years, 1,825 Days of Being a Nurse

Today, 3/11/18 marks 5 years since I started my work in the hospital as a Registered Nurse. A low-mid estimate puts the number of patients that I have taken care of during that time to over 4,000! I feel honored that I have been part of so many people’s story. And I hope that I have positively touched their lives in some way. Their stories are now interwoven with mine, and all the time they give me the priceless first-hand experience that we are all connected. That all of our challenges despite how seemingly different, all turn us into humans with similar baggage and triggers to overcome in this life.

No matter the person looking back at me from the hospital bed or crib, I have seen the beauty of their souls. We are not our experiences or our stories. We are not what we have been through. But at the same time, our experiences work to shape us into the people we came here to be. So rather than getting lost in our personal stories of tragedies and triumphs, we are meant to use those times to move us to help make the world around us a better place. When I decided to go into nursing, I was a patient in the hospital recovering from a heart surgery. I asked the nurses taking care of me what their experience had been in nursing school and if they were happy with their decision to become a nurse.  I asked them about their work schedule and about how they manage with having kids while being a nurse.  I chose to use my experience to become a Nurse in hopes that I could alleviate some of the fears that I knew my patients would be feeling in the hospital. I am so grateful that even in the midst of going through my own health crisis, that I was given the strength and perseverance to get through school and these last 5 years as a Nurse.
I know that my main purpose in this life is to help people on their healing journeys in whatever way I can.  For 5 years, it has solely been as a nurse in the hospital.  I started out in reverse, taking care of adults, some of which died during my shifts, and then moved on to my current position where I sometimes care for brand new babies just entering the world.  I am grateful that I have been an intimate part of the full circle of life.  The birth to the death, each are sacred as they are the entering of the soul into the body, and then the exiting of the soul from the body.  But the soul never dies.  It is born, it grows and transforms, and then moves onto its next journey.  After all, everything is made up of energy, the divine life-force energy that moves through everything, and energy is never destroyed.
When I hit my 3 year mark, I wrote this on my Facebook page, which is a beautiful way to share my experience: “I’ve witnessed the strength of the human spirit and body. I’ve been a witness to pain with perseverance, death as a natural part of life, people holding onto hope, and people staying positive regardless of circumstance. I’ve supported families as their loved one took their last breath, and also as their baby took their first. It has been amazing. It has been stressful. And it has helped put everything that happens in my own life into perspective.”
What are some ways that you have used your own, personal challenges in life to do good for other people, or for the world around you?  How has your life been positively influenced by a nurse in your own story?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

I Am You

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Happy New Year everyone! 2018!  Wow, just like that, another year has come and gone! For me, 2017 held a lot of change:  endings, beginnings, including the start of this blog. As 2017 wrapped up, I felt a heaviness in me.  Maybe due in part to the changing seasons and lessening of outside time and sunshine in December, but also likely due to the purging of old patterns, belief systems, and emotions of 2017.  Do you ever feel like you move about not always fully feeling your emotions when things happen?  I know I do.  I kind of push on through, and at the end of the year, I felt that catching up with me.  I think it’s a defense mechanism that I have developed over the course of my life.  Keep going and maybe then I won’t be swallowed whole by my emotions.  Maybe then, I will be protected from spiraling down into depression that I have had a lot of experience with in my life.  But, I have come to see that I handle things differently now.  Even when sad things happen or life doesn’t go as planned, I have a way of seeing the divine-ness of everything.  And I have learned to allow myself to feel more in the moment.  I have also learned to pause during difficult conversations, so that I allow myself a moment to feel and to put those feelings into words before speaking them. In so many ways, 2017 was a year of tremendous growth for me.  I am looking forward to seeing how the new seeds of growth that I planted throughout 2017 blossom into being in 2018.  I can feel that 2018 is going to be an amazing year of manifestation.

“I am you

You are me

No more leaders

We must lead if we want to see God in the enemy”

Matisyahu’s song “Mist Rising”

If you know me, or follow this blog at all, you know that I listen to Matisyahu all. the. time.  Sometimes, even after I’ve heard a song a million times, certain lyrics will jump out at me as little messages from the Universe.  The above lyrics really stood out to me one morning as I was driving to pick my friend up to go for a hike.  I had a moment after hearing them where I thought, yes, we’ve got to stop looking to other people to make the changes that we want to see in this world.  We’ve got to stop looking to our appointed leaders for the answers.  If we want to live the truth that we are all really one, and not separate from each other like we are made to feel, then we have to start leading by example in our own lives.  We are all made of the same, divine energy.  We are just the Divine, Universe, God, consciousness (or whatever else you like to call it) having an experience in human form.  That’s it.  We are here to grow and evolve in consciousness.  We are here to face obstacles and transcend them, so that we wake up.  We are here to find our soul’s purpose and then use it to make the world a better place.  We have to lead if we want to be able to see divine/Universe/God in our enemies.

We are not separate.  We think we are.  We walk around feeling alone.  We pit ourselves against others, people in other groups, in other countries, of other religions, but the reality is that we are all one in the same.  We all have our specific journey that we are supposed to be on in the time and place where we find ourselves.  We are brain-washed to think that we are not enough as we are, so that we’ll buy the new latest and greatest gadgets.  We’re made to feel small and inconsequential so that we keep our heads down and work hard to keep a few rich and in power.  But friends, we are so much more than we have been led to believe, and we can have so much more in our lives than we even believe is possible.  We are all on different paths to the same destination, our awakening, our rising of consciousness.  The us vs. them mentality is merely a distraction.  It’s one way to keep us all feeling alone.  It prevents us from really connecting with each other in a deep way, because we’re always afraid that our problems are worse than the next person, or our insecurities are bigger than everyone else’s, or that our dark sides are darker than everyone else’s.  But that’s simply not true.  Like I have said before, in the times when I have opened up and gotten vulnerable with others, and have really listened to others share their stories, I have found that while on different journeys, we all fundamentally end up with the same baggage and the same feelings about ourselves.  Keeping this idea that I am better than (fill in the blank) or that I have my shit figured out more than (fill in the blank) is just a judgment that my human mind, my ego, is placing on the situation.  It is no more true than the stories I have carried about myself.  And it keeps me feeling separate.  Likewise, when I place others on a pedestal and see them as better than me, I also keep myself feeling separate from others.  But, it’s when you can see everyone as equal in this game of the divine having a human experience, that you really feel like you can connect with everyone on some level.  Even if my beliefs are hugely different from yours, I am sure that we can connect in some way.  Maybe you’re also a Mom, or a Nurse, or maybe you grew up feeling like you had to prove yourself to feel worthy, to get the love you so desperately wanted.  Maybe you can relate to my stories of chronic illness that I have lived through.  Or maybe you connect with me because you too have struggled with severe depression.  Whatever it is, it’s there and it connects us, and it makes you see part of yourself that you like, or that you hate, in me.  The people around us are always reflecting back to us the things that we need to learn about ourselves so that we can grow and evolve to become the best versions of ourselves.

I think that this can be a difficult subject to grasp.  I will use an example from my own life on both sides of the coin.  I am attracted to creative people.  I love it when people produce something with their creative talent and then release it into the world for others to see, irregardless of how it might be viewed or judged by others.  I am creative, but I usually recognize it in others more than in myself.  But it really has to do more with what I perceive about an artist who puts their work in the public eye vs. me who has usually just made things for friends and family, or for my home.  I love being around people who are adventurous.  Creativity and an adventurous spirit are qualities that I carry.  When I see these qualities reflected back to me in others, I enjoy it.  I see our commonalities and I love them in me and the other person.  This also has a flip side, because the things that really anger us or upset us about other people are also merely reflections of things that can also be found in us.  We all hold a balance of light and dark.  None of us are completely light nor completely dark in nature.  It’s interesting to me that sometimes in relationships, when we see things that we like about ourselves in another person, we really like them and want to spend more time with them.  But when we catch a glimpse of something in the other person that we have not yet learned to like or accept about ourselves, we tend to push them away and not want to spend time with them.  Have you experienced this in your relationships?

I have talked about this before in previous posts that at square one of stepping into our power here as humans is learning to love ourselves.  For myself, I have found that I am usually MUCH more compassionate with other people regarding qualities that we would label as bad or dark, because generally, I have been more empathetic to others than to myself.  If someone graces me with their truth in all of its wholeness, light and dark included, I find that I can connect the dots to see how they came to be all that they are, and I am always grateful for the way that they openly share themselves.  None of us can ever truly understand what another person has gone through, no matter how well it is explained to us.  And really, it’s not our job to understand, just as it is not someone else’s job to understand us.  But we can still be understanding, and we can show others kindness and compassion for their journey.  And we can love them, in all of their messy human-ness, baggage, triggers, and all.  In doing so, in loving others for all that they are, not for their potential to change or only for the things that we like about them, we can come to love all parts of ourselves.  Because really, if another is worthy of my unconditional love, then I am worthy of my own unconditional love.  Do you see how the two go hand in hand?  That kind of love. That kind of acceptance and unconditional love is what we all want for ourselves. Right?  But how can you receive it if you do not feel worthy of it from yourself?  How can you give it if you still think that you’re better than, or worse than other people?

In one of Eckhart Tolle’s books, he says that the purpose of relationships is not to make us happy, but to wake us up.  I think that’s brilliant.  The us vs. them mentality keeps our attention on things outside of ourselves, rather than on the things that really matter like unconditional self-love.  If society is always telling me that I’m not enough so that I’ll buy more things, or give my power away to other people (by making them responsible for my happiness for example), then I won’t be focused on building my best life.  I won’t be realizing my limitless potential in this life.   Instead, I’ll live small, and be more apt to follow than to lead.  But like I have said, we are meant to transcend the obstacles that are placed on our path.  Like the lotus flower, we are meant to rise out of the mud and bloom, not get stuck in it comparing our mud to the mud surrounding the other flowers.  It’s not about our challenges, it’s about how we handle them.  It’s how we carry ourselves and respond when the shit hits the fan that really counts.  Realizing this has come from a lot of reflection and work on myself.  I did not always accept my reality gracefully.  The more that I can see how every experience and meaningful relationship shapes and grows me, the more confident I have become in the fact that the Universe is always supporting and guiding me in ways that are for my highest good, even when it appears that “bad” things are happening.  I know that I have always made it through my challenges so far and that they have made me a better person and have given me my current perspective on life. So when things happen, I assume that it’s all for the best for everyone involved.

In my own life, I have had the experience where the person that I was dating wanted to start seeing someone else.  (I have also ended relationships for this reason)  It happens for various reasons.  We’re human.  Situations change.  People change.  In the past, I have taken their decision personally.  I felt deeply hurt by it and became angry and resentful.  I felt like a victim.  I can imagine that many of you can relate to that reaction.  Since becoming more conscious, I have had the completely opposite experience as well.  The person told me that they wanted to see someone else.  I admit that there was still a level of sadness in saying goodbye, but I saw the whole situation in a completely new light.  I understood that this person who I loved felt compelled to follow his heart, and I respected that.  On one hand, I would not want someone to continue to hang out with me when they really want to date someone else, and also, who am I to keep anyone from following their heart?  I personally try to not live with regrets, so I appreciate when others live from that same space.  And so, rather than having a heated discussion that involved my hurt feelings and blaming this person for them, I simply let him go.  Honestly, I did not feel hurt and angry about his decision, because I trusted that it was best for both of us in the end.  I told him that I had really loved our time together and that I had so much fun on my adventures with him and that I hoped that he and this other person would share a lot of joy together.  I told him that I was really grateful that I had met him.  And it was beautiful.  So beautiful in fact that I write about it here.  Now, I will not take all of the credit here, because we had developed the ability to have open conversations with each other, and that took two.  Our sweet connection took two.  But do you see how one person can make such a difference?  Do you see how my response painted the kind of ending that we shared?  Had I come at him angrily, it may have completely dissolved our connection and prevented us from remaining friends.  But I chose to accept the reality with gratitude for what this person’s presence had meant to my life rather than to leave on a bad note simply because I was not the one deciding to end things.  We each have that kind of power!  It was not his job to stay and make me happy.  It was his job to follow his heart on his journey as he saw fit.  It was my job to accept reality without taking any of it personally.  It was my job to take care of myself.  I did not leave the situation thinking that there was something wrong with me, or that I had done something wrong.  And I did not leave angry.  I left with a lot of peace about it all, and a lot of love in my heart for this person.  I sincerely wanted nothing but love and happiness for both of us.  When you realize that we all have our own journeys to live our joy and to find our purpose, you also realize that the only journey that we each need to focus on is our own.

It is really none of my business what someone else wants to do in their free time, or who they want to spend their time with.  All I can do is stay as present as possible when I am spending time with the people in my life, so that I can fully experience and enjoy their presence in my life while they’re in it.  Life is short.  Nothing is guaranteed.  I have found that when I am able to stay present in the moments in my relationships, and I treat my relationships with gratitude and take to heart the fact that we are all only here for a short time, I have little to no regrets when the relationship ends or the person dies.  When I say that I stay present, I mean that I do not let my mind wander all over the place to the past and future.  I am not thinking about my to-do list.  I shut my brain off and I just am.  It gives me the space to be free in the moment.  To feel the sun on my face.  To feel the cold water hit my skin.  To look at a person and see a beautiful soul smiling and laughing.  To me, being present means allowing myself to enjoy a moment, activated by my five senses, without bombarding it with a bunch of thoughts.  And if I do think, I think things like, this is amazing, I am so glad to be here, this is so fun, and I am so grateful to have this time with them.

Try it. Set your mind aside.  Stop the whir of thoughts telling you what you “should” be doing.  Be present with the people in your life while you can.  Turn off your phone and focus on where you are in the moment.  And then move from there and work to put yourself in other people’s shoes more often.  Attempt to see the world from their vantage point for a change.  Stop judging yourself and others so harshly.  Can you see that we all have light and dark inside of us?  Can you see the beauty in it?  Can you see the beauty in the dark depression that I experienced in my life?  I can.  Knowing that level of pain is what allows me to really enjoy all that I now have in my life.  I’m not sure that a really happy, joyous heart gets that way without experiencing some form of depression or shadows in life.  The pleasure of life is much more profound when you can still remember how much life can hurt.

Our differences are meant to be.  Our journeys are supposed to be unique.  We are each supposed to be unique.  We’re supposed to have differing opinions.  But, we’re not meant to walk alone on our journeys feeling separate from the other humans around us.  We aren’t meant to fight each other and attempt to hold each other down.  We are not meant to be hardened by our pasts.  Regardless of how hurt I have been by things that have happened in my past, I still feel as though the connections that I create with people who cross my path are the important part of my journey.  I crave deep connections with people.  Part of the process to get to that level of connection is realizing that I am you, you are me.  The world I am living in is full of people who are out living their passion, connecting with other people, getting inspired by each other, and lifting each other up to live our best lives.  We are meant to lift each other up.  We perceive the world through a veil of our own thoughts.  If you want to see the incredible world that I see, make that choice, and join me.  Our lives are only as good as our thoughts allow them to be.  Change your thoughts, change your life!

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it!  And please feel free to comment down below.  I would love to hear from you!

Much love.

Listen to Matisyahu’s “Mist Rising” HERE

 

My Meat Suit

My weight has been a topic of apparent concern for some lately, so I feel compelled to address it. It’s funny to me that it seems that someone is always unhappy with our bodies. Right?! I was unhappy with it when I was overweight and unhealthy because of the years when I was on steroids, and other people are unhappy with it because I guess I look thinner than they think I’m supposed to. Even in high school when I looked AMAZING, I only noticed my body’s flaws and didn’t really appreciate it. When I was overweight, mentally I felt like the same person I had always been, but I definitely noticed different treatment. People looked at me differently, or rather, I felt like I walked through life totally unseen. Usually I am my own worst critic, but I am in a really great place with my body these days. I am grateful for the hiking that it can do. I am grateful that it allows me to work my 12-hour shifts. I am grateful that’s it’s generally healthy. And dammit, I fucking love the way I look naked!! Finally, after all of these years, I’m in love with my body! But honestly, it took losing the body I had been used to and the health I had been used to and then getting them back for me to get to this place. My body isn’t perfect and I am sure it looked better back in high school and college, pre-baby. But so what? It doesn’t matter! I have the body that I have now. And I am so happy with it now!

So you can probably understand why other people’s opinions of my body don’t mean anything to me. But they do leave me with a general curiosity about why it is that people ever care about another person’s weight. I personally don’t find that I ever even think about someone else’s weight let alone talk to them about it. And I think there’s generally a misconception that while maybe it’s not OK to ask someone about their weight if they appear overweight, it is somehow perfectly ok to insinuate that someone is underweight. For instance I don’t think most people would feel comfortable going up to someone and saying “I’ve noticed you’ve gained some weight recently, is everything ok?” or “you’re SO fat.” But somehow it feels perfectly acceptable for people to say something like “you look like you’ve lost weight, are you ok?” or “you’re SO skinny.” As someone who has lived on both sides of that body fence, let me tell you that NEITHER telling someone that they’re fat or telling someone that they’re skinny is acceptable. Ever. So please stop doing it. Unless the body belongs to you, you’re in someone else’s business and not your own if you’re speaking to them about their weight.

We’re inundated with millions of perfectly photoshopped bodies from every source making us feel like our normal bodies thin, thick, with loose skin, wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks aren’t beautiful just as they are. It’s driving the market for Botox injections, boob jobs, tummy tucks, among whatever else is currently being sold to us as the next best fix for our imperfect selves. We’re being taught that looks are everything, but looks fade as nothing lasts forever, and then what are we left with? If we think our looks are who we are, how will we feel when we age and lose them? Jake Ducey pointed this out at the workshop of his I went to titled “Genius Within”: we are constantly being made to feel worthless and powerless so that we buy things that we don’t need to keep a few rich. Think about it. We’re surrounded by a culture that says we’re not enough just as we are, so maybe we should make an extra effort to love ourselves just as we are, and to give others space to be themselves just as they are. Maybe in that way, we can counterbalance some of the bullshit that society is telling us about ourselves and our bodies.

I’m sure that aside from genetics, some of my lifestyle choices have led to the type of body that I have. For nearly 10 years, I hiked and backpacked for work. So instead of sitting in an office, I got outside and moved my body, usually carrying heavy gear while I did it. When I have days off now, I love to hike. At my current job, I’m on my feet a LOT. I walked 3.5 miles at work yesterday. I don’t eat fast food. I avoid fried foods. I generally don’t eat much meat and have lately cut it out all together. I have been dealing with systemic yeast since my years on antibiotics, so lately I’ve been cutting processed sugars and carbs. I don’t drink coffee (because I don’t like it). I only occasionally drink pop or beer. I’m not a saint. I don’t eat healthy 100% of the time. Sometimes I eat a bunch of garbage. But my habits, my body, have everything to do with me and absolutely nothing to do with you. I rented this particular meat suit for this life, you didn’t. So the only one who has to live with it is me. I get to decide how to use it. I get to decide how I treat it. I get to decide what I put into it. I get to decide how much to move it. I don’t really want to sit around comparing my meat suit to yours because to me, there are so many more interesting things to contemplate in this life.

Bottom line is that our only competition is with ourselves. We don’t have to be better than anyone else. We only have to learn to love ourselves and our bodies. If we’re not happy with our meat suit, there are some things we can do like diet and exercise to help change them. But comparing our meat suits gets us nowhere of any importance, because what we’ll always find is that my meat suit is different from your meat suit is different from their meat suit. So what? What does that even mean in the grand scheme of things? We are not our bodies anyway. We’re just renting them for this short short period of time. Learn to love the body you have so that other people’s bodies don’t even phase you. Consider that people gain and lose weight for reasons beyond fast food and eating disorders. We are not here to fit into some “one-size-fits-all” box. We are all unique just as we’re supposed to be. I am done living my life to make other people happy. I am not here to make you comfortable. I am here to make myself happy, to make myself comfortable. I refuse to fit my beliefs into a box and I refuse to fit my body into a box. We are not here to conform, so that we can all be the same, act the same, and look the same! (My god that would be so boring!!). We are here to be our unique and beautiful selves and to serve this world in a way that only we can. Can you see how beautiful your body is just the way it is? Can you see how damaging it is to compare yourself in any capacity to others?  In the end, the only opinion about us that matters is our own.

Personally, I especially enjoy being around people who don’t sacrifice their uniqueness for conformity’s sake. To me, the people who are living their lives true to themselves are the interesting ones, the truly beautiful ones, regardless of the size, shape, and outward appearance of their meat suits.

Listen to Michael Franti’s “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like)” HERE

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it!

(I first heard our bodies being referred to as “meat suits” by Jake Ducey at his workshop, “Genius Within.” I then heard the term used like this again in the documentary “The Secret.” So, I did not coin the term “meat suit”, but I absolutely love it!)

What is Your Illness Doing for You?

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So, I have been hanging out at home all week, sick.  Today I jokingly referred to it as black lung disease, and my son called it the black plague.  I got him laughing when I sang with my raspy voice to an Imagine Dragon’s tune before school, “don’t get too close, its red inside, it’s where the black plague lies, it’s where the black plague lies…”  We thought I was pretty funny.  I don’t know what it is exactly, but I feel like crap.  My throat hurts.  I wake up with loads of congestion in my chest that I end up hacking up all day long.  I sound a bit like Darth Vader.  I wake up and use cough drops in the middle of the night, because my throat hurts so bad.

During the weekend, the black plague was just a feeling of overall malaise and the subtle warning of impending illness.  I upped my essential oils, I upped my homeopathic remedy, I started taking about 4-5,000 mg of vitamin C per day, and I was drinking green smoothies by the quart.  But in the end, after making it through the weekend, the plague hit me like a ton of bricks.

I was thinking today and had a HUGE Aha!  moment!  For as long as I can remember now, I have associated illness with a sort of free pass to focus on taking care of myself.  I see it also as a reminder from my body that I need to slow down and listen to it and take care of it in the ways that it is telling me to.  This past weekend, I was so excited!  I was lucky to attend Jake Ducey’s (check him out on YouTube and Facebook) workshop titled, “Genius Within.”  When I had seen that Jake was going to have a workshop in San Diego, it sounded perfect. It was one of those times where every line that I read to explain what the workshop was about spoke to me.  I was especially excited to shed light on more of my self-limiting patterns and beliefs, because I am really feeling the need to just let go of all of my old shit, once and for all.  The price was right, the location was close enough to drive there in a day, I really like Jake’s message and positivity, and above all of that, my intuition was very strongly urging me to go.  And then, as the weekend got closer, Matisyahu released his Fall tour dates, and one of them landed in San Diego on the Friday that I would be in San Diego!  So, I was going into the weekend thrilled, but I also had some major Mom-guilt creep in.  For starters, I had only seen Matisyahu with my son, and I knew that he really liked that fact.  Also, because the workshop was all day on Sunday, there was no way that I was going to be able to make it back in time to get my son at the normal time on Sunday night, so I had to make arrangements with his Dad to keep him that night.  I think that Moms reading this will maybe get where I was coming from the most, because I think that in general, it is the Moms who are usually more comfortable putting everyone else before themselves.  I am no different.  So I began to have some major Mom-guilt, to the point that I didn’t even tell my son about seeing Matisyahu until after the fact.  It was a 21 and over show, so he wouldn’t have even been able to go if he was with me for the weekend. Yet, I still felt bad about it.

I knew before last weekend, before today, that I am my own worst critic.  I have always been so hard on myself.  And while I have done a lot of the work to move past that way of being, it obviously still sneaks up on me sometimes.  I ended up having a fantastic weekend!  I got to explore a new beach my first day in town, which was really beautiful.  I find that the ocean is so grounding for me.  I stayed with an old friend/coworker who I hadn’t seen in 13 YEARS! Yikes!  It was so great to spend time with her and reconnect.  Her 5 year-old and 2 year-old daughters treated me like their long-lost Aunt who they adored, which was a lot of fun!  I went out on my own in downtown San Diego (which is GINORMOUS by the way!) to dance for hours to Orphan, Zion I, and Matisyahu!  And I basked in Jake’s positivity for two whole days and connected with some wonderful people who also attended.  I also unraveled some more of my long-held beliefs, and was given some new ways to look at things, as well as new ways to create the life that I want for myself.  I was baby-ing myself the whole time with a cold that was brewing just under the surface.  Today, I realized that in always being so hard on myself when putting myself first, especially since the birth of my son, I generally only give myself a completely guilt-free pass to take it easy in all ways when I am sick.  That was my Aha! moment today.  My thoughts brought on this illness.  My body was wanting me to slow down and take care of me, and my thoughts put it into the Universe that the only way I would do that would be if I was sick.  And boom!  I have been sick all week.  I went to the grocery store for a short trip early in the week and got enough stuff to get us by for the week, but otherwise, I have done nothing but rest and take care of myself while my son has been in school.  I’ve napped.  I’ve taken extra vitamins.  And I’m still chugging the smoothies, because my body is seriously craving greens SO much right now!

I watched “The Secret” last night, which really further reinforced the things about the Law of Attraction that Jake shared with us at the workshop.  The fact that our thoughts create our reality.  So consider what my thoughts just did in my life.  I was feeling guilty for self-care, but that went away once I was sick.  When I am sick, I give myself permission to put myself first, and I don’t feel guilty about it.  But why do I feel that I must be suffering with a black plague before I can feel OK with putting myself first?  Can you relate?  I can look back on my past and see a similar pattern.  In college is when I first started to think of illness this way.  I would see it as my body’s way of telling me to slow down and be extra caring towards myself.  I would notice that about once a month, I would feel a bit under the weather, and would shift into self-care mode during that time.  Later, when I lost my health, it kind of gave me a pass to allow some of the cards that I was constantly keeping in the air to drop.  I felt completely responsible for the care of my son, the care of the two dogs, and the overall upkeep of the household.  I did the majority of the household chores, and I did the majority of the grocery shopping.  I was exhausted and stressed.  At the time, I was in nursing school, and not working outside of the home, so I felt immense pressure to basically do everything else.  I’ve always been independent and I preferred to feel like I was pulling my own weight.  I kept it up until my illness struck.  And then, over time, I stopped being so stressed about the things I was not able to get done around the house.  And as I have written before, I was forced to take care of myself because of my illness.  I had been so used to just going and going all of the time that I rarely focused on what I needed.  That stretches back for as far as I can see.  I think a lot of us get wrapped up in the go-go-go mentality of this fast-paced society that we’re living in that we rarely stop to just BE.  But for me, those moments where I just stop and soak in my life in the moment are the ones that I treasure the most.

So, the Universe in all of its preciseness of divine timing, told me that 30 was going to be the year where I would finally start to focus on myself and my own well-being for a change.  It gave me a very clear picture, that I lived through, of what life was like without good health.  I was shown that without my health, I essentially had nothing, because I couldn’t even function without it to enjoy my son, to take care of him at times, to walk, to do the chores that needed to be done, or to do things that brought me joy.  When you lose your health, you realize very quickly that everything else in life is secondary.  You can have every other thing going for you, but if you don’t have your health, it’s very difficult to appreciate the other things in your life.  Since January 2016, I have found that having a daily gratitude practice has led to a lot more joy in my life and a lot more things to be grateful for.  I would say that writing out the things that I am grateful for every night before I go to bed has been one of the simplest yet profoundly life-changing things that I have done for myself.  Try it.  I promise that only good will come from it.  And it is especially important to take note of the good things in your life when you’re struggling with illness or some other challenge.

I love when beliefs that have been held in my subconscious mind become conscious!  Once it becomes a conscious thought, I am able to examine it, look at how it’s been affecting my life, and release it if it no longer serves me.  In this case, the belief that I have to be sick in order to feel OK about fully taking care of myself is definitely NOT serving me well.  Can you see that?  It would be much more pleasant to stay healthy and take care of myself, than to spend a week knocked on my ass to force me to do it.

In the movie, “The Secret,” they talk about the fact that illness has no place in a body that is at ease.  I know that I have mentioned in other posts on this blog that I feel like my illness (or dis-ease) stemmed from my utter disregard for myself.  I stopped holding myself as a priority in my own life, I stopped listening to my intuition regarding situations in my life that were no longer serving me.  My body became a breeding ground for dis-ease.  I sometimes have friends who will tell me about friends or family members of theirs who are struggling with ongoing, chronic health problems, and they will ask if they can pass my contact info to the person.  I have always been happy to use my experience to help other people.  I know that the pain has had a purpose in my own life, but I enjoy using my pain to serve as a purpose in others’ lives as well.  It makes my struggles doubly worth it.  So at this point, when I talk to these people who are often also struggling with Lyme Disease, I ask them to really look at their life to see what is going on.  I ask them to look to see if there is something in their life that is causing them stress.  I would ask them to look for the lessons in their illness.  Have they been neglecting themselves?  Are there situations in their life that are toxic for them?  Have they been ignoring their intuition about things in their life?

Now, I would add for those reading this post, is there a way that your illness is serving you?  Is there a comfort in being ill?  Do people take care of you when you are ill?  Do you have less responsibilities when you are ill?  Do you receive more love from people when you are ill?  An even better question would be, do you receive more love from yourself when you are ill?  And I don’t ask these questions to make you feel bad or worse than you already do, but instead I ask you them to break your attention away from the illness you have and direct it to the thoughts that you hold about your illness.  I would say that I definitely give myself more love, more freely, when I am sick.  This week has been a perfect example.  But why can’t I do that for myself all of the time?  Why can’t I always feed myself well and give myself important vitamins?  And make sure that I get enough sleep?  The answer is that I CAN.  Now that I see what I have been doing, I can choose to change it.  And believe me, I don’t need another illness to come along like this one before I make that change!  Just as I have written before, sometimes, we have to get to a point where we’ve suffered enough before we are willing to make the changes that we need to make for a better life for ourselves.

I have a lot more to my health journey than I have written on this blog so far.  I will write about it as I feel guided to do so.  But at one point towards the end of my time on antibiotics, a woman was placed on my path who served as a sort of counselor for me.  I remember that during our first phone call, she asked me about my life.  After I had told her about my life which invariably included a lot of information about my health struggles, she said to me, “boy, you’re really holding onto your illness aren’t you?”  I remember being kind of stunned, and a little bit pissed off at her response to what I had just told her.  I said something like “well, yeah, I take handfuls of medications and supplements several times a day and pay out-of-pocket for a specialist that I have to go see at least every 12 weeks.  My illness is part of my life.”  Well, in that moment, I didn’t really “get” what she was saying to me.  It took me some time to understand.  But eventually, I did come to understand.  You see, when I got ill, I began to identify myself as sick.  The people around me began to identify me as sick too.  Once I had the diagnosis of Lyme Disease among others, the Lyme became part of my identity.  I identified myself as someone with Lyme Disease.  But you see, I am no more Lyme Disease than you are cancer, or MS, or Lupus, or depression.  I am NOT my illness, just as you are NOT yours.  I was able to flip that switch in my mind after several weeks of being off of my antibiotics, so that I could do a few rounds of medications for the yeast that was becoming more of an issue in my body.  I had been so used to having a flare whenever I came off the medications, but this time was different. (I believe a big factor for me was that I had been on a homeopathic remedy for about 7 months by this time.)  I wasn’t having a flare, and so it gave me space to ask myself some questions.  Like, what makes me sick?  Am I sick because I have had lab work come back positive for several different infections?  Or am I sick based on how I feel?  I decided that because I was managing to work full-time while taking care of my son on my days off, and I was feeling good, that I was not sick.  I had intended to go back on my antibiotics, but I decided that I was going to let how I felt be my barometer for how I was doing rather than some labs.  It was at that time that I stopped telling people that I had Lyme Disease in the present tense.  I started to talk about it only in past tense, if I even brought it up at all.  I began to think of myself as healthy, and I started just being grateful for how I felt in the moment.  I stopped identifying with my illness.  I stopped identifying myself as a sick person.  And my life changed for the better.

This isn’t to say that I don’t have lingering symptoms.  No one has ever told me that I am cured and in fact, this week, my PCP went over labs with me from September and she concluded that I am still “not well.”  Strangely, that felt more warm and cozy and familiar to me than if she had said I was cured.  I easily took on that illness cloak again.  I even told a few people what she had said.  But since then, I have decided that me not being well is no longer part of my belief system (nod to Jake Ducey).  I am not going to allow numbers on paper or cells in my body to determine my health.  I am going to judge my health based on how I feel.  When my body asks for something, I am going to aim to give it what it needs on a consistent basis.  I have been asked if I worry that I will get Lyme again.  (Yes, you can get MORE Lyme, or re-infected with Lyme following treatment!!)  But I am not worried.  I choose to no longer live my life from a place of fear.  I believe that I have gleaned the lessons that I was meant to learn from my illness, so I do not believe that I will have a repeat of Lyme.  I believe that I will continue to be as healthy as my thoughts, which I am always working to improve.  Our thoughts really do create our reality.  What kind of reality have you been creating for yourself?  What feels comfortable to you even though it causes you strife?

Jake reminded us all this weekend that every 7 years, every cell in our body gets replaced.  So every 7 years, we essentially become new people made up of brand new cells!  I’m almost at the 8 year anniversary (November 27th) of passing out at home and losing my health.  None of the cells that were present in my body on that day in 2009 even exist anymore!  How cool is that??!  For me, it was a great reminder, because I have come to see and experience the power of my mind.  Our minds have the power to keep us feeling ill long after every cell in our body has been replaced by a new, healthy cell.  And our minds have the power to free us from our dis-ease.

I invite you to consider that sometimes using our mind to free us from dis-ease isn’t necessarily about getting cured from that which ails us.  Sometimes, it’s about shifting the way that we think about the illness that makes all the difference.  I see my illness as a blessing because of the level of gratitude that I now live with every day.  I could not have gotten that any other way.  So I would not wish it away or go back in time and change things so that I wouldn’t lose my health.  Life is not happening to us, it’s happening for us.  We are not victims, we are students. It is OK to grieve for the loss of your health.  It is OK to feel angry and sad.  It is OK to feel like it is unfair, and to throw shit.  Just try not to live there forever.  Your illness is not a torture device, but rather a teacher.  In the thick of my illness, I would have told you that you were crazy if you told me that in 8 years, I would be writing about how grateful I am that I lost my health.  But here I am.  And I am no different from you.  Our illness may have the same name, or a different name, but that’s meaningless in the grand scheme of things.  We all have the ability to choose peace in every situation, peace with what is.  Because, I have found that it’s usually the way that I am thinking about something that causes me the most suffering.

When I look at a situation and say OK, this is how it is, I can decide how I want to show up.  I am in control of my thoughts, feelings, and actions.  That’s it.  I encourage you to think, feel, and do things that make you feel good as often as possible.  Work to shift yourself into a place of ease, so that dis-ease no longer lays claim to your body.  You are not your body.  You are not your illness.  You are much more expansive than either of those.

Listen to Michael Franti’s “Hey Hey Hey” HERE

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The Plague of Fear

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We have a problem.  We have a big, gigantic problem in this country right now (well, we have more than one, but I’m writing a blog post, not a novel).  Fear.  Fear comes in a lot of different forms.  Some of it is founded, because of things that have happened in our past, like the shooting in Vegas.  But some of our fears are not founded.  Some of our fears may have been passed down to us from our immediate families, or ancestors.  Some fears are created in our minds and have no logical foundation.  But because many of us still believe what our minds tell us, we believe every fearful thought that our minds create.

Lately, when I have talked about going hiking alone, people have asked me things like “aren’t you scared to be out there alone?” and “do you carry a gun?”   Honestly, the thought has never crossed my mind once. And I’m not even sure what I would be protecting myself from on the trail. Animals? Black bears? Mountain lions? Black bears are generally not aggressive. And if a mountain lion decides to attack me, I’ll never even see it coming.  I’ve never understood why anyone thinks that we’ll all be safer if we’re walking around carrying guns to protect ourselves.  If people weren’t carrying guns around, what exactly would we need to protect ourselves from??!  In my experience, while I have encountered wildlife such as grizzly bears, black bears, and mountain lions when I have been hiking for work and leisure, I have never been as scared of any wild animal in the way that I am afraid of a human who carries a gun.  The people who I have met out hiking on the trails have been some of the kindest souls, and I have never feared any of them.  What I do fear in those wild settings is another person who decides to carry a gun because he or she is afraid.  Generally, the trails are filled with good people out to enjoy nature and/or escape all the people in the cities walking around carrying guns. So, where does all of this fear come from? Guns aren’t going to fix anything. At all. Ever.  So, unless you hunt as a means to get food for you and your family, or you’re in the back country of Alaska where the ratio of grizzly bears to humans is high, I see no place for guns in nature.  As a woman, I am MUCH more afraid to walk around a city at night by myself than I ever am when I am out hiking.  And part of that is related to guns and the rising amount of gun violence in this country.

I know that people who favor being able to have guns see the issue as a rights issue first and foremost, but I think it needs to be talked about instead as a safety issue.  While I do not like the idea of our government limiting our rights, I have a bigger problem with my fellow citizens who continue to open fire on large crowds of people using semiautomatic rifles.  It is one thing to have a gun for hunting, but it is quite another to have semiautomatic rifle meant for the mass killing of other humans.

I realize that the way we treat mental health in this country is also partly to blame, but even with that being said, the extent of damage done with a non-assault rifle would pale in comparison to damage done with assault rifles.  If a shooter had less ammunition readily loaded, the chances of them being able to mow down a crowd of people in a matter of minutes without being noticed and stopped would decrease significantly.  I know it without having to read research papers and without studying the statistics behind it.  You know it.  I think we all know it, but here we are still arguing about gun rights while innocent people are being murdered.

Gun violence is not new, and even the first shootings that took place in schools have somehow sunk farther into history than I care to admit to myself.  But as time goes on, it just feels like these attacks are showing up more and more in places where people gather to celebrate, connect, relax, or experience joy.  And that’s scary.  It’s scary because it’s unpredictable and can literally happen anywhere at any time.  While we’re at the movies, concerts, school, and church.

I believe that we are being given the opportunity to see just how broken our current society is.  At what point, do we collectively face ourselves as a nation and decide that enough is enough?  When do we start coming together so that everyone can have equal rights, experiences, and opportunities?  When do we collectively start putting ourselves in other people’s shoes so much so that we cannot bear the thought of hurting another human being?  When do we stop looking at other people as if they are the problem and realize that it is our own fear and hurt and doubts that prevent us from fully embracing ourselves and therefore fully embracing others?

Friends, it starts with each of us.  And not necessarily in the sense that you might believe.  Of course I think that pushing for and taking action to have new legislation rolled out that would block the sales of assault rifles in this country would make a positive impact on our society.  But I do not believe that it’s the only thing that we need to consider.  I think we need to really look at and face the demons that we each carry.  Right now.  Today.  What is it that creates your fear?  Why do you believe that owning a gun will keep you safe?  What makes you hate yourself so much that you can hate another person enough to shun them, hurt them, or even kill them?   What is it about the (fill in the blank) race, (fill in the blank) gender, (fill in the blank) sexual orientation that makes you think that you are separate from them?  That you are better?  That you are better to the point of wanting to deny them the same freedom that everyone else has?  To the point of wanting to cause them harm in some way?

In my own life, I can see that the times where I felt like I was being destroyed, when I felt like I hit rock bottom, were the times when I was given the opportunity to start over.  I was given the opportunity to build myself and my life back up the way I wanted it to be.  I can tell you that it was not an easy road.  I did not gain my current perspective, level of gratitude, or positivity easily.  The really good things in life don’t come easy, you have to do the work.  We all have to start doing the work.  I think that sometimes, you have to be brought to such an immense level of pain and suffering that eventually it breaks you so that you begin searching for another way.  That’s the beauty in many of our struggles. The point where we stop and look at the hurt in our daily lives and see that it’s just not working for us anymore.    THAT’S where we start working for real change.

All of this may seem unrelated to my original topic of gun violence, but just bear with me here.  We each live from a place of our own experiences.  We were destined to come into this life with the human personality and body that we have.  We are all made perfect for the journey that our souls wanted us to have in this life.  But we’ve developed a way of looking at ourselves that does not serve us.  I know that I spent many years seeing a lot of my “negative” qualities and “flaws” and focused more on them than I did on all of my “positive” qualities.  As humans, we sometimes beat ourselves up so much that we overlook how amazing we truly are.  And as I have said in other posts, when we judge ourselves so harshly, we also are more apt to judge others harshly.  When deep down, even on a subconscious level, we hate ourselves, we are more prone to hate others.  Let that soak in for a minute.  Self-hate and loathing are not easy things to admit to ourselves.  Sometimes we bury those feelings so deeply that we do not even see them, but they’re doing damage in our lives subconsciously.  We work to distance ourselves from our emotions and qualities that we deem as “bad” or “negative”.  We have gotten so good at distancing ourselves, in fact, that we’re all walking around feeling broken, but don’t even fully understand why.  When we’re constantly seeing parts of ourselves as “bad” or unacceptable, we’re going to focus on those aspects in other people as well.  So to feel more genuine love for other people, we really have to cultivate our own self-love first.  I believe that self-love is the key to real solutions of change and the lack thereof is the underlying cause of the turmoil that we are facing right now.

I have lived both ways now.  For many years, without even realizing it, I did not love myself.  I fought against parts of myself that I did not like, or that other people did not like about me.  And at the time, I could not see how that was negatively impacting my life.  I did not feel happy.  I sought to fill the void in me with relationships.  I aimed to please people.  I came to believe that as long as the other people around me were OK, then I would be OK, so I sought to make people happy.  I avoided confrontation.  I avoided rocking the boat.  I cruised along like this for a long time.  Until my life fell apart.  And my life felt like it was falling apart for years.  It wasn’t a quick process, but eventually, I worked with people who helped me pick apart my beliefs.  I started to see how my beliefs about myself were negatively impacting my life.  And it became almost like a game to me, to find the underlying beliefs or thoughts, to examine them, and then to decide whether or not to keep them based on how they made me feel.  As I shed more layers and uncovered more of my actual truth, I began to experience self-love in a way that I had never before.  And I can tell you that this self-love has created a positive ripple effect through all areas of my life.  One of the biggest shifts comes from the fact that I have much less judgement about other people than I used to.  It’s really not about getting rid of the parts of ourselves that we don’t like, but rather realizing that it takes all of the little parts to make the whole of us.  We all have light and dark in us, but it’s not about rejecting the dark.  It’s about realizing that we ALL share light and dark and it’s OK.  If something about us is really upsetting to us to the point where we don’t feel like we can live with it, then we have to remember that we have the power to change.  Just because we have always hated a certain group of people does not mean that we must continue on that path if it’s hurting our heart.  Just because we have always believed something does not mean that we have to believe it forever.  Give yourself permission to change and grow.  Give yourself permission to live with a more open mind.

Sometimes our judgments of people are sneaky.  Do you routinely judge those with differing opinions to yours?  Do you judge when people have different values or a different lifestyle to you?  Do you believe that your beliefs are true while other people’s aren’t?  I have looked at my own judgments of people.  Even now, they come out at times, but I notice them.  I see that I am judging.  I see that my ego is just working to make me feel better than others.  My ego works to keep me separate from others, so it looks for our differences.  But my heart, my soul, is always looking for the similarities.  As I connect with the love that I am, I connect with the love that other people are.  When my mind and ego get out of the way, I see things to love in others more than I see things to hate.  I have begun to naturally see the light in others, the good.  I think that sometimes I am actually glimpsing people’s souls.  The souls of humans are absolutely beautiful.

When you break down the beliefs in your own life, you begin to see that we are all the same.  We are all souls here having a human experience, regardless of what that experience looks like.  We have come to feel very separate from each other, but it’s simply not true.  I am no better than you, and you are no better than me.  We are unique, but we share our humanness as our ultimate commonality in this life.  Try embracing that for a change.  Treat every person you meet as you wish to be treated regardless of differing beliefs or values you might each have.  It doesn’t matter.  How we treat ourselves and other people is what really matters.  The rest is a bunch of stuff our minds create.  If our collective goal became to treat each other with respect and compassion, there would not be room for violence and hate that we are experiencing in this country.  Accept those around you with grace and compassion and see how your life shifts.  When we each do that on a regular basis, we create peace in our own lives.  When we create peace in our own lives, we create peace in the world.  As Michael Franti sang, “we can bomb the world to pieces, but we can’t bomb it into peace” and “violence brings one thing, more and more of the same.”  Fighting is not the answer.  Guns are not the answer.  Hate is not the answer.  As cliche as it may sound, love is the only answer.  Love yourself completely so that you may love others.  It’s the only way to end our suffering.  It’s the only fundamental way to stop all of the gun violence.

Have we reached our breaking point yet?  Have we suffered enough?

Sending you all much love and peace.

Listen to Michael Franti’s “Bomb the World” HERE

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Forgive Others

What does it mean to forgive someone?  I’ve been grappling with this question for years.  Various memes, articles, and quotes tell me that forgiveness does not mean that you are excusing the person’s behavior, but that when you forgive, you are freeing yourself.  There have been times when I believed that I had completely forgiven a person, but then something comes up, and buried feelings float back up to the surface, and I am reminded of more work that I need to do.

This morning, a friend posted a video of a Holocaust survivor named Eva.  During the Holocaust, Eva was a young girl living in Romania.  She and her entire family, including her twin sister, were taken to the concentration camp of Auschwitz.  Within 30 minutes of getting off of the cattle car that transported them there, Eva was separated from her Dad and Mom and never saw either of them again.  When the SS Officers realized that Eva and her sister were twins, the two young girls were sent off to special barracks were the doctors were performing experiments on twins in an attempt to figure out a way for the Aryan race to proliferate faster.  As you can imagine, it’s a very sad story, but also a very inspiring one.  You can watch the video HERE.

The reason that I am writing about this video is because in the end, years after the Holocaust had ended and Eva was an adult, Eva took it upon herself to go to Germany to meet with one of the doctors from Auschwitz and later, ultimately forgave him for his part in the torture and killing.  She later forgave Dr. Mengele, the doctor directly responsible for the torturous experiments that were done on Eva and her sister.  To me, this was extremely powerful.  Here is a woman who lost everyone but her sister at Auschwitz, and she’s finding it in her heart to forgive the people responsible??!!  While I acknowledge that all struggles are relative and that we don’t have to go through the Holocaust to have deep wounds from a painful past, to me, if Eva can forgive these SS doctors, who am I not to forgive people in my life?  Later, Eva was denounced by many other Holocaust survivors, because of her act of forgiveness to these doctors, but she stood by her decision.  Eva saw that forgiveness had led to her own healing, and to her, that was more important than staying in line with everyone else.  So I went for a walk on this gorgeous day.  And as I walked, still amazed by Eva’s ability and willingness to forgive those SS doctors, I started thinking about forgiveness and my own relationship with it in my life.

In the years when I was struggling with illness, I felt trapped in a body that I no longer recognized and simultaneously,  I also felt trapped in a marriage that had become toxic for me.   My belief is that we all choose the big, key players in our lives.  As souls before we incarnate into this life, we choose our parents, siblings choose each other, and I believe we also choose those who we share major relationships with in our lives.  And likewise, our children choose us, their parents.  In every case, our souls make agreements with each other to help each other learn various lessons in this life with the ultimate goal of our incarnation being to awaken.  (If you want to read more about this, check out  the book, “Your Soul’s Plan:  Discovering the Real Meaning of the Life You Planned Before You Were Born” by Robert Schwartz that I posted on my book list.)  Each of our souls reincarnate to this Earth School many times over, thousands of times, in order to learn the lessons that we are meant to learn that will eventually wake us up. And many times, we travel with a soul group that we have known in past lives.  So it is highly likely that my ex-husband and I have been closely connected in many past lives.  We choose the souls in our lives knowing the details of what the relationship with them will look like.  To put it in the simplest terms, I think that his soul lovingly agreed with mine to enter into my life this time around in a relationship that would tear me down, so that I could eventually build myself back up from the ground to be the person that I came here to be, and to do the things that I am meant to do.  And for that, I am very grateful.  It’s like the story of myself was broken down, and when I got back to re-writing it, I relocated some of the positive aspects of myself, but released a lot of the negative parts.  I believe had that not happened, I would have likely been carrying some of those negative parts of my story around with me for a lifetime.  I see now that I was ready to finally question and work through the self-limiting beliefs and the story that I had held about myself for so long.

My human mind has worked hard to come to terms with the way things happened, and I am still working to forgive, so that I can be free.  I see myself as a willing participant in a marriage that I chose for myself.  That being said, I learned some lessons the hard way.  I questioned everything I did, said, and felt, and I allowed myself to completely lose my sense of self.  And the situation, with us living so far from any family members, was very isolating.

I have forgiven lots of people in my life, and have also been forgiven lots of times.  And I know the relief that comes with forgiveness.  The act of letting go of what happened moves you beyond suffering, so that you can go on and live your life.  I am very aware of the feeling of stuck energy in my body when I’m holding onto the feelings of resentment.  I know that to end my mental suffering, I must FULLY forgive people.  So what is the process of releasing that?  How do I move past the abstract thought of forgiveness and actually forgive?  A big part of it for me is remembering that we are all humans doing our best in the life that we have been given.  I do not claim that I was a perfect spouse.  I had baggage with triggers that were getting activated regularly, and I was not mindful of them during that time.  I realize now that a lot of the time, we all walk around with our baggage getting triggered, and we think that it’s all happening because of one person, or one situation, when in fact, we are likely dealing with feelings, emotions, and beliefs that we picked up during childhood, or even from our ancestors.  A marriage is bringing two people with all of that baggage together, and if neither person is even aware of their baggage, it can be a disaster.  When I look at my ex as a whole, I can see the story of his life and all that he has been through, and I can see how he came to be, and I feel compassion towards him.  I know that we were both doing our best in the marriage even if our best was less than either of us believed we needed at the time.  I also recognize that if it wasn’t for him, I would not have my amazing son.  I highly recommend doing this practice in your own life.  That’s a big part of the work I’ve done to get me to a place of true self-love.  I look at the whole picture of myself, from my birth to the present, and I am reminded of all that I have experienced in this life, and how far I’ve come.  Think of a person that you’re having a difficult time forgiving (even yourself), and do a quick overview of their (your) life in your mind’s eye.  (this requires that you know the person pretty well, otherwise you can just trust that everyone you meet has been through a lot to get them to the person that they are now).  Can you see how the pieces might fit together?  Can you view them with compassion as a fellow human being doing their best in this life?  Can you step back and stop taking things personally, so that you can see that no one’s actions or words have anything to do with you, but everything to do with them?  I know sometimes the things we have to forgive are absolutely horrific, so in that case, can you forgive solely out of kindness to yourself, for your own healing?  To free yourself?

We all have similar baggage and triggers, but we can react to those triggers in very different ways, which is why relationships can be so complicated.  It takes a certain level of mindfulness to navigate through the triggers and subsequent reactions that come out during a relationship.  It also takes mutual forgiveness to get through those times, and come back together.  I am extremely grateful that I have experienced first-hand how drastically mindfulness can positively impact a relationship.  When two people can be triggered and react, yet come back together and talk about what happened, and are able to see that their individual reactions had nothing to do with the other person, it is a beautiful, beautiful thing.  And it allows for self-awareness, individual growth, and compassion to blossom in such an amazing way within the relationship.

As I was out walking today, I actually asked my guides out loud for help and support so that I can finally forgive.  I told them that I was having a really hard time with it, but that I am ready.  So as I switched gears and headed to another spot, I was just enjoying my surroundings and the weather, not really thinking of anything in particular when I came upon this little sign that someone hung on the bridge that read “Forgive others.”  And I just started laughing.  There really are NO coincidences in life!  I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried!  As my friend, Erin, likes to say, nicely done, Universe!  Nicely done!

 

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While my health problems did have physical causes, I believe that the disease I experienced stemmed from the fact that I had stopped listening to my intuition. Eventually, when you live in a state of mental and emotional stress for so long, the toxicity will manifest in your physical body.  If you don’t listen to your intuition, your gut, your heart, and take care of yourself first and remove yourself from negative situations, the Universe will step in and make you physically ill to get you out of them. That’s how the Universe works:  we get small warnings, then bigger warnings, and then it eventually knocks us on our asses!  So, it is important that we learn to pay attention to the small warnings, or better yet, learn to follow our intuition more closely and trust it.  When we follow our intuition and live in the flow, we will find that we no longer need to experience the big tests, like a complete loss of our health, and that our lives become easier and more fluid.

I had to almost die, so that I would finally start giving myself the love, attention, and care that I always deserved from myself.  But you don’t have to wait until you get to that point.  We have all heard that chronic stress is bad for our health.  Well, after getting sick, I would physically feel the effects of stress on my body.  I noticed that stress caused flares of the pericarditis.  So, naturally, I started limiting the stress in my life.  I began to stop sweating the small stuff, because none of it was worth my health.  Knowing that my body couldn’t handle the stress of my marriage AND the stress of being a new nurse, I finally worked up the courage to get myself out of the marriage.  Once I started following my intuition again, I immediately became healthier without changing any other part of my health regimen.  And over time, with regular use, my intuition has only gotten stronger and stronger.

We must all work to forgive the people in our lives who have hurt us, because we are the ones who suffer, not them.  We must recognize that holding onto negativity or resentment creates stress in our own bodies which will eventually bring about pain and disease.  And we must forgive regardless of if we ever get an apology or not, because it’s really about us and our own healing at this point, not them.  Remembering that I have made mistakes and have hurt people in this life helps me respond to others from a place of empathy and compassion when they hurt me.  Regardless of what we think about some people in our lives, they, like us,  are on this Earth for a reason, and they are in our lives for a reason.  And they are experiencing their own set of struggles in this life.  Again, the message comes back to self-love.  Love yourself enough so that you are able to move on and forgive others.  More self-love = more love for others = what the world needs right now.

Sending you all so much love!

Michael Franti “Let It Go”

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