Thursday, January 15, 2009

Set Them Free

Again it is with me, out under the stars, early in the morning, waxing contemplative under a bright but waning moon. I’m thoughtful this morning as I am most mornings but today more so. There is something specific on my mind. Something…well, maybe someone would be most appropriate. Have you ever felt a connection with someone that you could not explain? Have you ever had that feeling of recognition at the level of the soul that no words could ever truly describe? I have, and I’m grateful. Such sensations are usually the stuff that really good lessons are made of. But, right now, it’s not lessons I’m thinking about. I’m rather enjoying a moment of quiet contemplation, running through memories in my mind that all at once seem distant and vibrant interchangeably…vibrant because of the depth of emotion, distant because of a desire for proximity that I’m sadly lacking at the moment.

It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that something is on my mind. There are things I want to say and someone I want to say the words to. I would have thought my hesitation was based on fear but I suddenly realize that there is no fear, there is no reason and nothing I have to say brings me any concern at all what-so-ever. I realize how short time can be sometimes. There is never enough and the only thing I regret is not taking the time to say what’s on my mind. I will remedy this very soon because a part of me just won’t rest until I set these words free in one particular direction. So it is sometimes, that words we wish to say linger, trapped inside of our minds and obstacles may exist and keep us from setting our thoughts free. I intend to remove those barriers because nothing is more important sometimes than letting someone you know in on what you’re thinking and feeling.

The tough part is a need to sit with these thoughts a few days. It won’t be easy…a phone call could set the words free, an email or text could do the same…but not these words. These words must be spoken face to face. These words must be expressed in person, preferably in close proximity to ensure the full depth is comprehended. There is nothing that seems more important just now. The urgency rises more and more each day and there is no way I can keep this inside. I’ve no desire to any longer, there are no conditions, there is no reason now except for miles and hours. Soon those will disappear and I can make my thoughts known and have no fear, no conditions to hold me back.

My thought for the day is to consider the things that you want to say to people in your sphere. Are there meaningful words you want to say, thoughts you really want to express? What keeps you from setting them free? Is it fear? There is nothing to fear but fear itself. Consider the reasons, walk through them and don’t let another day go by without letting those you care about know how much you care. Life is too short and the world can be full of amazing experiences when you are open, kind and sharing with your thoughts and emotions. That bond we have with other people gives us strength and adds more to us than we already are in some way. It can be a beautiful thing.

Be peaceful today, be thoughtful today and if you’ve got something to say to someone today…say it with kindness, say it with caring and mean it with the full depth of love within you.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Thoughts Attract Thoughts

Because we have a mind, it's always working; always thinking. Did you know that what you think is what you attract? You're familiar with the phrase "like attracts like" right? It's the same concept with thoughts. Think back and remember a moment when you were really happy. When you were happy you were thinking positive thoughts. Those positive thoughts draw in more positive thoughts and you tell the universe in such moments, I want the positive or I want happiness. Now think about a moment when you were really down. When you were down, you were thinking negative and fearful thoughts. Those negative thoughts draw in more negative thoughts and you tell the universe in such moments, I want negative thoughts or I want sadness. The same is true with other emotions…what ever thoughts you line up with an emotion, that's what you draw to you. So, be careful what thoughts you allow to take hold.

Lets talk about a negative example for a moment. Have you ever forgotten to set your alarm and the next day you woke up late. Your first thoughts are typically rather negative and then you ended up rushing as a result of being late. There is no time, you're rushing, thinking negative thoughts about the darned alarm clock or angry with yourself because you forgot to set it or you just stayed up too late. You can't find the right thing to wear, everything else you want to put on suddenly seems to need to be ironed, no time for coffee, no time for anything, speeding to work, rushing in the door…the whole day can be thrown off if you keep a negative outlook. Like attracts like.

Lets talk about a positive example for a moment. You wake up fully rested after a great night of sleep. Your morning goes well, the traffic is there but you turn your favorite song on the radio instead. You notice the beauty of the sunrise on your way to work, that guy in the truck slowed down so you could merge onto the freeway, at the next on-ramp, you slow down to let someone else on the freeway. At work, there is a lot of stuff that has to get done quickly but in a positive frame, you can think better, quicker and plan to accomplish what needs to be done.

There are hundreds of examples. I have a family member who has always held a negative thought process about life. This family member sees the world through a purely victim mentality, short-changed on every front and the universe responds to that every day with more negativity…why? To give this family member an opportunity to grow beyond the negativity and try to consider other options, thoughts and actions that might help this family member live a better life. But, this family member continually rejects any form of positive thought and time and time again, creates self-fullfilling prophecy in the negative. It's so very hard to watch.

Bad things can happen to us but the next steps are always important. What do you do with the "bad" thing that happens? Do you shut down all chance for positive thought thereafter or do you try to look for the silver lining? Sometimes something bad is actually something good you might not ever have had the chance to learn. If you learned something, how can that be all bad? Sure it could be painful but to settle into a state of a continual pity party can make that bad event a lifetime of negativity. It's truly up to you. One of the most powerful things we possess in life is the ability to change our perspective and choose to look on the bright side.

I've seen some pretty bad things, have experienced some intensely traumatic things in my life but the one thing I cannot do for long is dwell in a state of negativity. I can't do it because I definitively know that thinking negative can make a bad situation horribly worse. If I shift my perspective and try to find the wisdom in a situation or a lesson, life gets much easier to deal with. I've been a single mother for most of my adult life. I can't tell you how many times the bank account was drained and there was food to buy, milk to buy, someone who needed new shoes, new clothes or school books. I never worried for too long because I always believed that some how or someway, we would be okay. In such moments I would get sudden ideas to re-balance my checkbook…and believe it or not, I'd find huge errors in my favor..$300 one time and $500 another. It could be coincidence but were I in a completely negative state, I wouldn't have checked the check book, would have held onto the negativity and probably would have received a bill from the IRS or something. The point is, looking for silver linings, focusing on the bright side and just having a strong belief in yourself and your future can make bad things seem not so bad.

My thoughts for today are along the lines of keeping the negative thoughts in check. When you notice negative thoughts about yourself, about other people or situations, flip the thoughts around and restate them in your mind in the positive. Send every negative thought away by flipping it around to the positive…if you trust this will make a difference in your life, it will. In the mean time, when life gets a little tough, get back in touch with the positive…get outside and notice the flowers, the way the leaves seem etched in gorgeous sunlight, how green the grass looks, how beautiful a cerulean sky is, how peaceful it is to watch birds in flight or how uplifting it can be to watch small children at play. Get back to basics…take a walk…do something healthy…take a drive…do something positive to put yourself in a good and positive frame. It makes all the difference in the world and really helps take the sting out of the rough things in life that can throw us off balance and leave us feeling dark. Don't stay in the negative..don't deny negative thoughts and feelings. They do exist…you just want to flip the thoughts to neutral or positive so that you can attract the positive. I hope you have a positive and happy day.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Reciprocal Narcissism

Have you ever heard of the term? I use it to describe those relationships that are based only on a mutual ego feed. Sometimes such arrangements get mistaken for love but when one stops feeding the other’s ego, you suddenly are no longer in love. In such cases I wonder if the issue is there was no real love to begin with. You loved having your ego fed and when it stopped you suddenly became interested in finding an ego feed elsewhere?

I’ve thought about this one a lot and have had a few of these relationships in the past. I’ve run into a few folks that were merely addicted to love but I wonder…is it really a love addiction or is it really that someone doesn’t know how to love and they’re just narcissistic and in desperate need of a continual ego feed…and because they don’t know what real love is, they mistake the ego feed and the gratitude that sometimes follows as feelings of love.

I’ve seen a number of relationships where love was so conditioned…I love her as long as she does this…I love him until he does that…I think that conditional love is really narcissism at work. But what the hell do I know? Nada! I just think a lot and write about what I think because it’s something I enjoy. But this topic seems to be huge…it could be a novel in fact and I may include it in another book I’m writing. I’ve got four going all at once and only 2 are close to completion…I diverge…let me get back. I think the rate of relationship failure is that we’re all looking for the kind of love that only comes from inside and until we can honestly feel that love from inside, there is no possible way any feelings of love are real for anyone outside. There are a few gradations of love that we can honestly feel for people. We love our co-workers and care about what happens to them. We love our friends. We love our family. We love our spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. But how do we love them? Is it without condition? Is it the kind of love that doesn’t seek to manipulate and control? Is it the kind of love given with no expectation of reciprocation?

In relationships all around me, that are termed “loving relationships,” frankly, all I see is conditional love, narcissism at work and ultimatums and demands that are conveyed in the guise of love. I don’t think I knew what love was until March 14, 1990 at 11:37 p.m. precisely. At that moment, my first child was born and in that instant, I knew I would move Heaven and Earth, die, maim, whatever I had to do for that child and my mind didn’t change weeks after when colic struck and I didn’t sleep, I changed diapers and had to change my clothing 4 times a day after being barfed on. It didn’t change years later when I got calls from the school saying she cut class again. It didn’t change when she didn’t clean up the living room after I asked her to. There was one person that I knew I loved unconditionally. Just when I thought I knew all about love, I was blessed a few more times…11/3/95 at 8:26 am., 7/26/1999 at 1:26 am and then again on 1/24/2003 at 11:57 pm. Suddenly I really knew what unconditional love was…in all this time I’ve been taken advantage of, made into a maid, shrink, judge, jury, bank, Barbie buddy, fixer of toys and even emotional punching bag and more and it didn’t matter because I loved these kids without condition.

I have friends that I love no matter what they say or do and nothing changes…even when they scream at me, are disappointed in me, feeling neglected by me, are acting short and grumpy…the love does not change…it exists and I’d still go to the ends of the Earth and back for them. That’s what real love is. Love isn’t about an ego feed, someone to make you feel less lonely, someone to rescue you when you get into trouble, a shoulder when you need to cry or someone to tell you you’re amazing when you’ve had a really bad day. Love is greater than all of that and its absolutely endless…the more you give it the more you are filled with it. It’s an incredible feeling.

So, in terms of relationships we run into stages…initial attraction, infatuation (which is mostly ego feed make no mistake) and then hopefully as time goes by and you start to glimpse the soul of the object of your affection, the seeds of love take hold and bloom unaffected by anything that happens. Love means you let people be exactly who they are without trying to change them, manipulate them or control them. Love appreciates differences and love sees through conflict. Love doesn’t mean you surrender boundaries.  Love means you stay balanced and keep your boundaries because you love yourself and at the same time you love your partner and will wait for them to figure it out. Sometimes when our partners figures it out…it takes them in a different direction or away from you.  If you love them enough you can let them go with love.  In this case love certainly does not then dictate a bitter end in which you must inflict the pain you feel in your loved one’s absence. If it’s really love and not an addiction or a narcissistic relationship, you’ll love someone enough to let them go and be who they are, you’ll love them enough to forgive them for any pain they caused you and you’ll know you really don’t lose anything in taking such an approach. Love never dies when you find it. It doesn’t make a relationship last forever but the love never dies.

I don’t want to get into what it feels like to lose love like that because we all know its dreadful, awful and painful until you learn to hold the right perspective. But if you love yourself enough, you can heal yourself and strike out and try to find unconditional love again and gain a great measure of understanding in the process.

I’ve been dealing with a number of different scenarios of late trying to help some folks see the light of love in their lives and it’s just that some things about love strike me as so subtle and simple that we miss it. I’m no expert in love and in fact have had a good share in tanking a number of relationships because what I thought was love wasn’t love at all. I don’t regret those relationships. In fact, I’m infinitely grateful for them because they taught me something important.  They taught me about love but just in a different way I suppose.

My thoughts for today are along the lines of looking at the love that is in your life. If you aren’t seeing any…why not? You can’t find love when you’re filled with doubt, self-loathing and fear of being alone. You can only find love when you’re filled with it from the inside. And, when you’re filled with it on the inside, you attract it in many forms right to you and the love flows in some amazing ways if you’re paying attention. When you feel like you don’t have enough love in your life, go look in the mirror and ask why you’re not loving yourself enough right now.  Maybe the love you give is conditional so the love you receive is likewise conditional. Like I said, I don’t have all the answers and struggle quite a bit with love myself…different aspects…like trust but the love part I think I finally get and contrasting the love I know is unconditional to other kinds of love in my life, tells me where I’m falling short or needing work. Just some food for thought. So, go in love!!!!! Be in love with life!!! Love your friends! (If you picked friends that are hurtful…love yourself enough to let hurtful people go and attract to you kinder ones). Love, I sometimes think, is what the entire world is all about…figuring out how it translates into all the facets of our existence. I better stop here or this will be a novel. If ya read this far, bless you! Have a great day.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

I stepped outside this morning before the sun came up. Once I got passed the chill of the morning, the first thing I noticed was that not only was there no fog, the early morning sky held very few clouds. I could see the stars twinkling faintly. What a peaceful and welcome sight that was! It’s the last day of my long weekend. Tomorrow I’ll be back to my normal routine…no more casual drives to Starbuck’s on my way to the beach…no more hour long writing sessions and picture taking before breakfast…it’ll be back to the mundane sensation of working in Corporate America. Don’t get me wrong, I like my job and love the people I work with but the whole concept of rearranging the whole of my life to show up early every day and make just enough to cover the rent, the car payment and daycare is frustrating.

I’ve always been a rebellious conformist. I do what is necessary to conform to societies graces, normal life, but my heart isn’t in it. I love the pay check, don’t get me wrong but its not as fulfilling as some of the other things I’d rather be doing. I guess maybe one aspect of my passion is being worked in that I’ve got a large customer base that I work tirelessly to make happy. Another aspect of my passion is alive every day in that each day I show up, I learn something I didn’t know the day before. I’ve also got a job at the present that allows me a little time during the day to stay up on world events, keep up with the happenings in my co-worker’s lives and to be there with a shoulder or an ear when they run into something a little too challenging. I’ve always had a steady line of people showing up in my office for coffee talk first thing in the morning and that’s also a part of my job I enjoy.

I guess I just really love people. They amaze me and frustrate me interchangeably sometimes but for the most part, I could not learn as much as I do without different people showing up at my door with an interesting issue or challenge they need help with. Life can be like a giant puzzle sometimes. There are so many things to do, to see, to experience and to feel. There are so many lessons, so many opportunities to learn something new and different facets of love to learn about. I guess I’ve had so many “guides” show up on my path at just the right time and with just the right words to help me get my thinking back on track that I really enjoy paying that forward. In fact, I often look for opportunities to pay forward a kindness, words or even a simple smile.

Life can be really amazing even when things don’t seem to be going right. If you stop long enough to try to see things objectively, you’d be amazed at the simple lessons that can be learned and how clear things can get when you’ve not trapped yourself in crazy-making emotions. As human beings we’re often ruled by emotions and such emotions can actually cloud your thinking. But, if you take a moment and sit with emotion for a time and let the waves recede a little bit and maybe quiet you mind, your doubts and fears, the answers seem to come to the surface pretty quickly and if they don’t the right people will show up to help point you in the right direction.

My thoughts for today are along the lines of random acts of kindness, looking for silver linings and finding hope even when a situation seems hopeless. Be a friend to someone today. Make eye-contact with and smile at a stranger today for no other reason than you can. Let the people around you know how much they mean to you directly or indirectly. You might be amazed at how such things can bring a smile to you that seems to come from your very soul. Have a beautiful day!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Shades of Gray

Its about 58 here at the beach today and there is a very thick and dark marine layer with fog that is just now slowly receding. I don't like days today, weather-wise. It saps my spirits seemingly at the core level of my soul. I usually don't give into it too much because I know what it is but its just not fun. I tend to want to just sleep all day...just hibernate until the sun comes back out. The beach is so stark, lonely and kind of sad when all you can see is dancing diamonds on liquid silver rays of light flashing off the tips of the wings of toothy grins and joyful screaming of little children making sand lovers walking arm in arm to the cadence of the waves crashing onto the shore. All you can see are the hard-core endorphin junkies out for a jog, a bike ride or walk. I do like the quietness of such days at the beach but when I’m walking it feels like I’ll never remember what warmth is again.

We’re only going into the second week of winter and already I miss all of the other seasons. On dreary days like today I imagine spring flowers, the smell of freshly cut grass baking in the sun, the scent of jasmine, cerulean skies with cottony white clouds floating gently by. I think of bright electric sunrises and slowly slipping warmly colored sunsets. I like to try to catch the “green flash” as the sun sets with my camera at the ready. No such luck yet but I won’t give up until I get it. Winter is a time of rest and regeneration, gathering around the home fires in thought and feeling I suppose. I can appreciate that with everyone always so on the go. A break from the business of the rest of life is a good thing I realize but I’m like the little kid always. You know the one…the one so busy playing they can’t even imagine coming inside for food or drink or anything. Life slips away from us a little every day and I sometimes feel like I don’t want to miss a thing. I know that’s silly. But maybe it’s just an inherent anxiousness in my nature that can only come up with bits of peace occasionally as I’m shifting between one activity and the next.

My coffee cup is hot in my hand…one sip and I can feel the warmth travel to my core. I smile at how it makes me feel. It is something so simple on a day like today that makes me feel happy inside along with some other pleasant thoughts. I think I’ll leave my little spot near the shore and take a little drive. My car is warm, the music in my CD player, meaningful. I’ll sing to the music and let it fill me up…I’ll feel my car gliding across Pacific Coast Highway and try my best to find something to break up the monotony of gray. That’ll make me feel a little better. I’m off to an inwardly frenetic and outwardly peaceful day today and I’m glad…it’s a new year and I’m at least happy, grateful and eager to find enjoyment somewhere under gray skies. Peace!