AHHH! THE HOLIDAYS ARE HERE!
Holidays for me are the equivalent of being in a super-scare-your-balls-off haunted house. If you're also in a bit of a panic this month, feel free to chill out with a stiff drink and rest easy dreaming of these sunny vistas and beautiful destinations.
a model representing a scene with three-dimensional figures, either in miniature or as a large-scale museum exhibit.
a scenic painting, viewed through a peephole, in which changes in color and direction of illumination simulate changes in the weather, time of day, etc.. (source: google)
We find ourselves longing for this little finite space that can be controlled. This diorama, this little box, a glimpse into our world or someone else's. In this place we are kings/queens. In this place we seek divination. We can go wherever we want to go, do whatever we want to do, and be whoever we want to be. In a world that is constantly in flux we stare into the abyss of this life that contains us, longing for the simplicity of childhood daydreams and seasons in the sun. But are we three-dimensional or just flagellating our vices for the masses? Are we a carving etched on history or a living, breathing real boy/girl living inside a scene that replays itself in a myriad of ways into dusk? Today we are searching for answers to whether we live inside this fragile frame or outside in a wild sea of ignorance.
In matters of meritocracy, sometimes we haven't the faintest idea what is going on. We humbly oblige some more moderate version of ourselves to demonstrate how to behave in modern society, yet our current society is full of upheaval and a future that has yet to be determined. We call them the accolades, these momentary glimpses of privilege and centrifugal forces that we often take for granted. Some call it divination or intervention. We walk blindly or swim into their seas, letting the current and the windswept sand direct us where we're meant to go and where we belonged all along.
THE RISING TIDE
Life can be painful and confusing but at the end of the day every experience shapes and molds us. The end goal (we hope) is that we evolve into better, kinder, wiser versions of ourselves. The older I get, the more I try to refine myself as a person and become a better version of myself. But that better version isn't without growing pains or failures. There are many times I have made lapses of judgement, poor choices, and thrown caution to the wind. I will continue making mistakes and I know that, but I will do my best not to make as many.
When I had my daughter, something within me changed. I am no longer the person I once was-- in a way I became the person I used to be, only I took a detour. In some ways it has made me more loving and patient, but in other ways it has made me more discerning about who or what I want in my life for the next cycle. I am no longer shackled to the things that held me captive before, and although there are different limitations now, I feel more responsive to the world and more confident about my place in it.
Last year I crumbled to dust and was almost swept away by the events of life, but somehow I found courage and strength to rise from the ashes. I am no longer the same but something different. But it also means no longer tolerating that which does not create happiness. When any relationship, big or small, brings you more pain than joy it is time to let go. If I have learned nothing else these last 31 years, it is that I now know when to walk away and when to stay.
I am focusing on raising our daughter and giving her an awesome start at life as much as I am able. I have started meditating have been on a silent self-improvement campaign, living mindfully, and streamlining my life. I am surrounding myself with people that are not so focused on material things, or status, or constantly dwelling in negativity or drama. Although I have always been one to take accountability or eat crow where it is due, I am furthering those initiatives by being more self-aware and preventative. I am more determined to build and maintain those relationships where it feels mutual and being the best mom, daughter, girlfriend, friend, and acquaintance I can be. I am educating myself on so many subjects right now, kickstarting a business, writing books, volunteering, and throwing myself into my new job with all of its meaningful work. I am casting out disingenuous friendships and dishonest relations and striving toward being around people who have integrity and make me want to be and do more. Selfish and selfless but nevertheless growing. But I want to be a better version of myself for my family and for myself.
Throughout this process, I often return to these TEN Meditations Fit For a Phoenix:
1. ACCEPT (AND RESPECT) WHAT WE CANNOT CHANGE
I read this article and it really resonated with me. I think much of the time we feel like we are in control but it is such an illusory idea that we have control over anything in our lives. Even our decisions, however minor, generally have a process. It can be frustrating to recognize this powerlessness within us. However, there is great courage in allowing everyone the space and respect to be their own person. There is great sacrifice in loving yourself and accepting that your power lies not in what you can control but how you navigate the sea of change.
2. NEVER REMAIN NEUTRAL (BUT TAKE THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE OFTEN)
The great Elie Wiesel once said: "We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere." I think it is important to have integrity and stand up for yourself (or others) when there is injustice. Remaining neutral may be peaceful but it order to help influence change in our society or improve the quality of life for others it is of paramount importance that we find our voices and be willing to intelligently and compassionately support those who need our support. If we can take the path of least resistance, that is ideal, but in all things we should be mindful of the fact that collectively we have the opportunity to make big or small changes within our circles or communities if we are willing to try. We ourselves can be responsible for our actions or inaction— change starts with us.
3. FORGIVE WHAT WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND
We all make mistakes and misunderstandings are a direct result of not being the same person. I know I am often guilty of only seeing my perspective until I remind myself that other people process things differently and no one is wrong in that respect. Perception is reality. So I am very conscious of trying to think through the motivations of others and attempt to understand where they are coming from and why they do the things they do. I may not forget the transgressions but this has allowed me to forgive them, for the human error exists in us all. Just because I don't understand something or share the same values doesn't mean that the other person’s process is any less valuable or real. This fantastic guided meditation by Deepak Chopra is so helpful in combatting the negative and disparate feelings resulting from this confusion. That being said, we cannot fault ourselves too harshly for not forgiving or forgetting others’ transgressions against us. You can “forgive” in your own mind to be at peace but it doesn’t mean the other person gets a free pass, either. If you have difficulty forgiving another, it is okay to talk to them about it. If they still fail to see that they might have hurt you (or refuse to hear your perspective out as your personal “truth,”) or will not take accountability for their part, you can “forgive” them in spirit and move on with life in peace.
4. TAKE COMFORT IN THE PASSING OF TIME
When my childhood pets died suddenly, I thought I would never heal. I probably cried every day for at least a year. They were with me through so much of my life and the world felt very empty and lonely without them there. The grieving process for any end can be long or short, fast or slow, and has its own way of operating. Grief doesn't have a timeline or a guidebook. Whether a physical death or a figurative one, we are reminded of our mortality, of the clock ticking, and of the feelings associated with uncertainty. We must take comfort in the fact that we are able to have time now to manifest change within ourselves and within our lives. Rather than taking a fatalistic approach to life, we should make every minute count with those we hold dear and consciously not take them for granted. We can take comfort in the fact that slow or fast, we can choose to create wonderful experiences during the passage of time that will be timeless.
5. BE PRESENT
Along with being more self-aware, being present in our lives is of great importance. I know at times I am guilty of looking at my phone a bit too much or distracting myself from feeling or experiencing on more profound levels just to escape momentarily, but in an age where connection is fleeting we need to be more present and in touch with not only ourselves but the world around us. There are so many details we probably miss every day if we would just look up and interact with our environment and the ironies of life.
6. REFLECT ON IMPROVEMENT
Start a bullet journal. List goals, accomplishments, and create detailed plans for improvement. Really evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on the person you want to be without the limitations of societal or personal obstacles and outline the steps to achieve your dreams, even if you don't know what you want 100%. And expect failures. Sometimes you will say something you wish you hadn’t (and later chide yourself for going backward into an old habit) or sometimes you will do things and realize in the moment that it is not serving you to do things. It’s okay. Part of the improvement process is making mistakes—it is how you move forward afterward and your actions that count.
7. BE MORE VULNERABLE
Don't let bad experiences hold you back from love or happiness. I know for me personally I accumulated bad experiences in a mental suitcase and traveled around from place to place saying,"Oh no-- I've seen this before." It wasn't until I met my current boyfriend that I realized that after years of thinking I had all these issues and hangups that made me unlovable that I actually DIDN'T have those things-- I just made poor choices in who I made myself vulnerable to and often we were incompatible in that respect. So I went into this relationship with no roadmap-- I went in sans suitcase and I found that by being MORE vulnerable, letting my guard down, and not letting my past mistakes discolor the very bright and sunny portrait that I was-- I was loved and accepted for who I am intrinsically, regardless of my faults. And now I don't feel the anxiety, fears, or insecurities that came with all of the others because I am being the best self I can be (not what someone else expected me to be) and being completely transparent. And whether it lasts forever or not, there was a great gift in being vulnerable to one another and healing those aspects of ourselves that others might have taken for granted.
8. TAKE A LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN
Like many of you, I have fears: fears of failure, fears of financial ruin, etc. Real, legitimate, crazy making fears about not being good enough. Fears especially about parenthood and making my family proud. When we constantly compare ourselves to others and their successes, we are focusing meaningful energy on something useless and depressing. Sometimes we have to take calculated risks and take chances that we normally would talk ourselves out of. By putting the focus back on ourselves and taking INSPIRATION from the things that enrich our souls rather than being green with envy over what we feel we have yet to accomplish, we can map positive strategies to maximize our success. Be consistent. Be intentional. Rather than worry about potential failure, reorient your mindset to what success looks like and attempt to make your dreams come true. You won't know if you can succeed if you never try it.
9. CREATION IS CATHARTIC
There seems to be a strong correlation between wellbeing and creation for those geared toward more artistic endeavors. It is a mutually symbiotic relationship. I feel more alive, more vibrant, and more confident when creating things than in any other aspect of my life. It is my lifeblood, how I recuperate, and is generally what keeps me in good spirits the majority of days. Having that outlet is important. Without it I used to have a tendency to retreat within myself, become depressed or anxious, and generally feel under-confident about who I was or what my capabilities were. When faced with a creative block, I have to really work hard at other areas of my life to generate the enthusiasm needed to sustain the same level of expansive optimism that I normally take for granted. The catharsis lies in the ability to channel more articulate ways of doing things, as the more you do a particular task the better you can accomplish it in the future. By creating, you maintain some semblance of control. Like other creators and artists, you can find unique ways that work for you to get the creative energy flowing.
10. RISE ABOVE
Always try to be your best self (or strive for that— but don’t beat yourself up if you makes mistakes, too, because they are inevitable lessons. ) Always treat people as you would like to be treated (but likewise don’t let someone walk over you if they are mistreating or disrespecting you; there is a time to be silent but there is also a time to stand up for yourself. You’ll learn the difference.) Respect those in different situations from your own and if you can aid them in a better situation or mindset— do so. Don't rush to judgement— spend a lot of time sorting through the facts before making a decision about someone’s character. Remember that when you face adversity it builds your character and that you can only change/help yourself— not others. If you aren't changing then you are stagnating. Rise above your limitations. Rise from the ashes and become your higher self.
What are some things you do regularly to improve your life?
The theme this week around here has been a poignant one. We ask ourselves two questions:
1) How far do we persevere to lose ourselves for love?
and 2) When do we know when to give up?
There are no simple answers. Situations are complicated-- relationships are complicated. We live in a digital age where friendship is often a shell, a guise, surrounded by fragile bridges. We strike those matches, say that we have had enough, and let those fires of Babylon burn.
In order to rise above we must fall below. It takes great adversity to often build the best character and sometimes takes burning bridges to find other routes to our destination. The journey of life is a series of layers-- we are constructed of stars and finer things. But beneath our sordid frame lies a fire that burns ever brightly, ready to engulf that which needs transcending. I am the Phoenix. Watch me burn and live again.
Have you ever burned a bridge? Did you strike the match and never look back?
President Obama spoke tonight for the last time as President. Regardless of your political leanings, I know many of you feel the difference in the air. The world feels unsettled and listless but full of sparks of energy and hope. The future is full of confusion and exhilaration. We wake up every morning saying a silent mantra of "I'm OK" but are we really? We're sitting on a thin line between war and peace and we're worried about when and where the other shoe may drop.
Yet on some levels we are at war within ourselves. We sit on the precipice of change yet we stare into the brightness of our screens and drink our caloric maximum to dull the sensation of having no control. We have faith or lack it but there is this air of difference that permeates everyone and everything. We distance ourselves to stay intact and fear being vulnerable to the dangers and pleasures that life brings.
I'm OK. You're OK. Everything is alright. Everything is finite.
What does yesterday, today, and tomorrow look like for you?
It's a new year and things feel vastly unstructured and unsettled. The weather is unpredictable and so is the political climate. Yet there is hope in the light as well as in the shadows. The energy and vitality of singular moments and of tangible dissonance seem to echo as much from our past as of our future. We are in the golden days of opportunity and in a new age of collective synergism. We are in a time of alternate universes where seemingly real things appear surreal. Now is the time to be everything that you are and to walk into the light sans blindfold. Welcome to the Parallel.