Everyone is up in arms about the latest African American to become a victim of police brutality - George Floyd. Violent protests are commencing in many of America’s major cities. Unfortunately, the toll of these protests might not be felt at the white house or by the police who were involved; instead, the toll will be taken on innocent members of the community who are losing their livelihoods, neighborhood stores where they buy necessities and some are even losing their life. The toll will also be felt among innocent officers who do not use the tactics depicted in Minneapolis. The toll will be felt across America as tensions among races escalate and while tensions between police and civilians continue to create an us versus them mentality. There is no winner in this environment.
It seems like this is about race, but it really isn’t. Racism is a symptom of a much greater and deeper rooted evil in our society. The hard truth is we don’t respect ourselves, we don’t respect each other, we don’t respect the animals and we don’t respect the planet. You cannot respect life and create violence at the same time. A society that respects all forms of life has no violence.
The problem is that we think there is a difference between a human and an animal, between a white man and a black man, between a man and a woman. And yes, on the surface, there are some key differences that we allow to become our focus. What we should be focusing on, where respect for all life lies is in our sameness. We all have a spirit inside of us and that spirit does not age. Ask anyone who is in their elder years and they will tell you that while their body feels old, their spirit still feels like a little kid. It’s a weird phenomenon, but it points to an eternal truth. We each came to this planet, but before we could “arrive” we had to be given an earthly body. I liken the differences of our bodies to the differences one might find driving down a street looking at homes. There are blue ones and green ones and red ones and white ones and yellow ones and even purple ones. Some of the houses are short and slender while others are compact and tall. Some are dirty and others are pristine. Some have protrusions while others have a smooth surface. While all of the houses on this street are different on the outside, they are all the same on the inside in that they provide shelter for people and some animals. The outside doesn’t really have anything to do with the inside.
We are the same. We all have an earthly body or as I like to call it a “carcass” because that is what it is - it’s a temporary home for the spirit that inhabits this body while on planet earth. It is nothing more. And just like the homes, there are brown bodies, black bodies, beige bodies, red bodies and white bodies. And each body has a spirit living inside of it while it is on this planet. It is the same with the animals too. All bodies are temporary homes for life on earth. The outside doesn’t mean anything - we just want it to and thus we begin to create divides that aren’t really there at all.
The only answer to prejudice in any form is to acknowledge that we really are all the same and thereby start respecting each other. No, you aren’t going to love everyone and there are going to be people who get on your nerves or who you just don’t like for one reason or another, but you can still respect the being inside them. The one you might know and spend time with long after this earthly body turns to dust. You don’t have to like someone to respect them.
This lack of respect keeps cycling through our planet, generation after generation. Slavery in all of its forms, genocide, the Holocaust, civil wars, gang violence, political upheaval, racism, religious wars, deadly road rage, mass shootings, etc… all of these horrific events boil down to a lack of respect for others you deem different from yourself. The awful truth is - it is a lie. There is no difference. We are all the same. To rip it out at the root we must bring respect back into society. If we don’t… we will bully, torture and murder until the earth blows up. What kind of world do you want? It really is up to you.
My brain is a noisy place. The constant chatter can make it easy for me to feel confused about something as simple as what I want to eat. How am I supposed to make major decisions when I can easily become confused about eating? This is something I have been contemplating lately. I just feel lost. Very lost. So lost that I don’t even know if I am capable of being found. Life hasn’t turned out the way I wanted it to and I am finding it harder and harder to navigate. I feel like I wouldn’t know what I wanted even if it was staring me in the face! All the voices of the world keep telling me I am capable and I am strong and I can become anything I want to be - Well, what if I cannot choose? What if every choice I have made has been a wrong turn? What then? How do I stop manifesting what I don’t want? How do I find out what I do want? It’s like I’ve gone down so many wrong paths that I can’t even make myself choose anymore because I know it will be wrong!
This isn’t new to me. I have done the same thing with dating. I just stopped. I gave up on the fairy tale because every man I chose was very, very bad to me. I’m not talking douchebaggery here, I’m talking ill intentions of the worst variety and I chose them every time! Do I still want to get married - yes. Do I still want a family - yes. But I don’t trust myself and I’m sure not going to go looking for trouble until I can prove to myself that I can start liking guys who at least aren’t going to intentionally do things to destroy me.
Still - I have a problem choosing. I need to choose better. But how?
I think it has something to do with that still small voice deep inside me. Some people call it the God voice, others call it the voice of the higher self or one’s intuition. Whatever it is to you - it exists. But can it be heard over all the noise?
I’ve been trying to listen for it more intently and what I have discovered is that this still small voice is always there and always speaking. I just don’t always hear what it has to say or I shrug it off or I bat it out of my thoughts. That still small voice is so small it is easily missed. Often times it is nothing more than a thought that doesn’t make sense. And I also have noticed that the thought often comes with a barely noticeable string to my heart or soul. It is hard to explain - like I hear or see the thought and feel the thought in my heart region. The problem is it is often a fleeting millisecond of an experience.
One day I had gone outside to put tags on my car. As I walked back up to the front porch I saw and felt the word “mail”. It came out of nowhere and seemed out of place. I started to shrug it off and go inside as it was freezing out, but I turned around and made the trek down to the mail box. After all, I was trying to listen to that still small voice. It turns out, all of my tax documents had arrived in the mail that day. Point - still small voice.
Another recent incident involves my phone. I was worried. I had noticed that it was taking a lot longer for my device to charge and that it wasn’t holding its charge very long. Financially speaking, I did not need to need a new phone right now. I was going to research it - the phone, the battery and what not, but I just heard and felt the word “cord”. Again, I didn’t think it meant anything, but since I am trying to pay attention to that still small voice I decided to find some other USB cords I had around the house. Interestingly enough, the old cords worked. The phone started charging fast again and held the charge like it used to when it was new. It was indeed the cord - point still small voice.
These seem like simple moments, but my question to myself right now is how can I harness that same knowledge for the bigger things in life? I mean if my life is not how I want it - how can I harness that knowledge to make it what I want? I keep feeling like there is so much more inside me. That I have completely missed my path in life, lost my potential and am literally sitting in the middle of a field yelling how did I get here! What I should be yelling is how do I get out of here and how do I tap into my potential.
This post isn’t for any of you - it’s for me. I just felt led to sit down at the computer and write about that still small voice. I didn’t feel like I could. I haven’t been logging my experiences like I wanted to - but maybe I didn’t need to - Maybe I just need to start listening for and following that still small voice and see where it leads. I guess that’s gonna be my spiritual cultivation for 2020. Acknowledging and honoring that still small voice. What about you? What is your spiritual cultivation for 2020? Care to share?
I am sitting on the floor in my room with my MacBook in my lap with a hot cup of water beside me. It is Tuesday, December 31st of 2019. My festivities for the night include writing out some new year resolutions to guide me in 2020 and to veg out in front of the television for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow, January 1 of 2020, I will be attending a First Day Hike - something state parks around the country do ever New Year’s Day. This hike includes some presentations on birds of prey as well as a chance to get a picture with an owl! Since the owl is one of my power animals - I am stoked! I am starting off the New Year on a trail with some friends and an owl! Sounds about right for me. What about you? How are you starting off 2020?
I found my resolutions from last year and looked them over. I, apparently, wanted to be more service minded and find another good service position. I do recall starting off last year with an AA chair commitment that ended up lasting two months. I also recall having a meeting with someone at my church to try to find some service opportunities within the church. Aside from assisting in service every once in a while - that meeting fell flat along with any attempts at being of service to anyone except myself. Funny thing is I have recently come to know a few people who have the best presence or energy ever. The kind of people that just lift you up whether you want to be lifted up or not! I was just speaking with my Higher Power about how I’d love to be one of those people, but I have no idea how to get there! I’m thinking last year’s resolution is coming back in a slightly different form for 2020.
Another thing I lost sight of was my debt. I did have it all paid off at one time. Then things went sideways. In all actuality, I lost myself in the day to day. I forgot about my plan and I forgot about what I ultimately wanted. Execution has always been an issue for me, but these days it is killing me. Two and a half years ago, when I moved home - I did so with the intention of getting a job that could propel me forward while I paid off my debt, saved up money and would then jump back out into this crazy world - preferably somewhere on the west coast. What had happened was…. Propeller Job combusted and I got laid off and so I found another job (not a propeller job, but was decent money) and then that combusted and I found myself laid off again. While working the second job I was bored out of my mind and I found myself spending money like it was growing on a tree in my back yard. To be fair to myself, I have to admit that half of my debt was from medical bills for two separate, but costly medical issues but still - I spent a lot of cash. My main takeaway is that I let circumstances dictate my reality and interrupt my plan. In other words, instead of swerving, I got on a totally different interstate and I drove in the wrong direction! My second lay off in a row comes at a time when I have a lot of debt, which means the salary has to be that much higher for me to relocate. And relocate I probably could have - if I didn’t have this debt! Out of all of the jobs I have applied to - only a couple of opportunities have come up in or near my current city. All of the rest of the opportunities have come from the west coast, which is where I intended on going mind you! I should have never let the circumstances change my plan! I had three ops in California and seven in the PNW. Oh it stings! I’d love to live there - the cooler weather, the hiking, the beauty right outside your door. Ugh. I don’t know what happened… I kinda gave up I think. I don’t have friends here so I am very lonely and that loneliness is translating to depression. I have my family and I love having my family, but I need more than that to be happy.
One thing I did do that was on my list was plan a trip - an actual vacation. It’s been a long time since I could have any sort of vacation since I keep having to start over - over and over and over again. This last lay off was my 4th. I had wanted to go on a yoga retreat, an excursion and see my favorite band if they were in the US this year. I kind of combined it all into one short vacation to Los Angeles. I went to Camp Mars and saw my dudes, well, one of them and I made new friends and I got to see some old friends from LA. I went to the beach, did a beach cliff hike and enjoyed a yummy dinner. It was sweet and nostalgic. I used to drive the 101 from Encino to Agoura Hills every day. There’s just something about LA. Maybe it is who I was when I was there. I felt empowered, I had great friends, a great spiritual home (Mosaic) and adventures in the mountains or on the sea every weekend. Maybe it’s not that LA is magical.. Maybe I was magical while I was there. Maybe that is what I need to get back into my life - the magic of being alive! If I am going to be staying put for a while - which it looks like I am - maybe I need to do whatever it takes to find my people and create some magic in this town. I mean I did like living here at one point.. .Maybe I can like it again.
Okay so that was my wrap up for 2019. Now looking forward into 2020 and what do I want to see? Well, I know Mars is out of the question this year so maybe a yoga retreat? I also want to go see the Redwoods and maybe Lake Tahoe. I’ve spoken with a friend who lives in central California about a possible girls trip. Once I have a new job, I will reach back out to her and see if we can plan something. As for the yoga retreat - I know of one I want to go on - I will just have to see what the job brings in terms of leave benefits and what all I get during my unending first year. On a personal level, I do want to be better about being intentional with my interactions. I want so badly to be one of those people who has that unmistakable and contagious energy. That, I will have to leave up to Jesus - I can’t even fathom how to get there from where I am right now.
So in more clear terms my resolutions/goals for 2020 are below:
“Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it happen” - Arianna Huffington
My higher power has been giving me two main phrases over and over and over again.
I had a real life exercise with this whole letting it be what it becomes when I attended Camp Mars in Malibu this past month. I really didn’t realize what I was getting myself into and while some of it was painful for me, I ended up having the time of my life.
To start things off, I had to let go of my plane leaving the gate late. I knew I had a tight connection in Denver and did not want to miss my flight or have a repeat of Christmas three years ago which had me running the length of the Denver airport with luggage in tow to make my connection. I also had to relinquish control over the fact that I have unstable blood sugar and really needed to get a meal before boarding my next plane. I had to just trust that everything was going to work out and it did. While I did make my connection, I was not afforded time to eat or even grab a snack. I was able to get a couple of glasses of orange juice to stabilize myself until I landed in Burbank. Once in Burbank, I made a bee line for the eateries and found one that matched my dietary restrictions. I soon realized that I had completely forgotten about my luggage and promptly walked over to find no luggage spinning on the tracks. I immediately looked around trying not to freak out and as I did so my eyes landed on what looked like my suitcase behind a set of closed doors. I went over and discovered that my luggage had been brought inside the Southwest office for safe keeping! YAY!
I got an Uber and he was the nicest driver who actually lives down the street from where I used to work in LA! We talked about all kinds of places and the growth going on in that part of the city. Fast Forward to landing at Camp Mars. I had been so worried about how I would get along with others. Would it be high school all over again where I didn’t fit in? Would I have people to hang out with? Would I have someone to eat meals with? I just didn’t know what to expect and my anxiety was at an all time high. Again, I kept hearing “ let it be what it becomes”. And so I did my best to do so. I immediately met another newbie who was staying in my same building. We hung out together the first night. That night I met my two roommates for the weekend. Both were well seasoned in all things Camp Mars because they had attended all of them. Both ladies were really sweet, around my age and we had tons in common. I immediately felt at home. It sounds crazy, but I was also worried about getting showers at night and being able to get a decent amount of sleep due to any sort of stress triggering a yet to be named digestive disorder. Everything worked out fine for the entire weekend, sleep and showers included!
Day two is where the rubber met the road in terms of letting it be what it becomes… I guess because last year’s camp had so many activities, I was a little disappointed to learn that a lot of those activities had not returned this year. I wasn’t sure how I would fill my time between meals. I would soon learn that a lot of that time would be taken up waiting in lines to do the few activities we did have and to get first dibs on the concert lawn for shows. I really didn’t like all of the waiting, but it was something my roommate said that helped me to look at it in a different way. She said this year is more low key and she kind of liked it in a way because it gave everyone time to get to know each other. I thought about this and by day 3 I was looking forward to the next line I would be sitting in (yes we got smart) and found that I really enjoyed starting up new conversations with whoever happened to be in line around me at the time. Sometimes it was familiar faces and sometimes it was brand new faces with new stories and new perspectives. By the end of the trip, I was happy that we didn’t have all of the activities that normally take place. I feel that if we had - I wouldn’t have gotten to know as many people.
The hard part was letting if be what it became throughout each day. I wanted to take control so bad and know what was happening next and this particular camp was done more on a “be here at this time for something with Jared” level. I am a Taurus. I like detailed itineraries and I like to know in advance what I need to do, have and be for whatever is happening. I had to fight that part of myself a lot at camp. And I even had to fight that part of myself on the rest of my trip. Plans kind of kept shifting with friends I had planned to see and I had to stay flexible and let the trip be whatever it became. And what it became was absolutely amazing. I said goodbye to all of my new friends at Camp Mars and ended up having a late lunch by the ocean in Malibu with an old friend. After lunch we went hiking on the coast. We have never been ones to stay on the trail and so we found ourselves carefully trudging down a sandy sea cliff to enjoy the views of the vast Pacific Ocean. We even got to see some dolphins and seals. I thought I was going to have to Uber all the way back to Burbank for dinner, but my friend ended up taking me since she was heading in that direction anyway. Later that night, I saw another old friend from LA and had an amazing dinner while catching up on life.
I was told before I left on my trip that I would get what I came for. One day in I thought that was absurd, because I had come for a hug and a drum circle with may favorite drummer - neither of which happened due to personal illness. It was when I was leaving that realized I had gotten what I came for - I learned first hand how to become the person I am on the trails. I’ve been chewing on this notion for over a year now - I hadn’t been able to grasp how to take who I am on the trails and translate it to everyday life. I now have a real life example to lead and guide me along my journey. I did indeed get what I came for - I learned how to lessen the death grip I have on life and ease the anxiety of most of my moments - I learned how to let it be what it becomes. And I am using this lesson right now to guide me through a season of change in terms of my career and possibly place of residence. Just like at camp, I want all of the answers right now, but as I have learned I just have to do my part and let it be what it becomes.
Self Love. Oh just those two words bring up volumes. Self Love is something that has been just out of reach for most of my life. It seems like every time I start to like and appreciate myself something happens to show how stupid I was to ever think that I had any worth or value at all. I guess self love is one of those things that goes along with that line about being like the fish - surrounded by the crashing waves, yet completely unbothered by it. To have self love, self worth and self acceptance - you just can’t let what other people think or your own preconceived notions of what other people think about you, take root in your soul. You have to be surrounded by the noise, but tuned into your own frequency.
Over the past couple of months I have finally begun to grasp some self love and like many ever important moments, it occurred in the midst of the most mundane. I was trying on some new dresses I had purchased online. When I put one of them on and looked in the mirror I just felt a warm glow surround me and I realized that this is who I am! This is me. I don’t like high heels or wearing cocktail dresses or 10 pounds of makeup. I don’t "do" my hair either. I’m an adventure gal. While I love dresses, I go more for the casual flair. I prefer comfort and utility to high style. I’d rather go on a hike or go crafting rather than the proverbial high end dinner date. I like to have experiences; not appearances. Another thought soon followed - why am I trying to fit into someone else’s world, when I should be looking for someone who wants to fit into mine? I always seem to go after friends and men who just want something different for their life. And I wonder why no one ever wants to do the things I want to do! I’ve decided that I just need to start doing what makes me happy and hopefully somewhere along the way I’ll find some friends who like those things and who knows maybe even a man too.
The hard part is being okay with doing things on your own for a while. Sometimes life doesn’t leave you any choices. You either sit back and watch life pass you by or you forge out on your own to have the experiences your soul craves. It can be hard having an experience you wish you could share, but that’s where gratitude comes into play. Gratitude says “you get to see this, do this and experience this - enjoy it! No Matter What!”
And this is where I am with Self Love - I know who I am and I am happy about it. I am also going to start doing some of the things I have wanted to do, but haven’t because I didn’t want to do them alone. Some of them small like renting kayaks at a local city park and paddling around the lake. Some of them are a little bigger like exploring a nearby state park. Some of them are really big and somewhat scary like traveling - I personally want to go explore up the northeast coast, the Great Lakes, Lake Tahoe and the Red Woods. I plan on tackling the small and medium sized ones this year and make plans to tackle one or two of the big ones next year.
I guess the best thing about starting to love and accept yourself is the sense of freedom and gratitude that begins to emanate from your soul. The things that used to bother you don’t and you don’t feel so lost anymore - at least I don’t. My situation isn’t great, being friendless in your current city of two yers isn’t fun, but if this is where I had to go to grasp self love - then it was worth it.
I had been feeling rundown for over a week. I was just exhausted. Everyday tasks seemed daunting… I felt overwhelmed by life and that overwhelming feeling had taken on a new form… oppression. I felt oppressed. I enjoyed nothing, had energy for nothing and only wanted my comfy mattress and warm covers. I wanted an escape, but I didn’t know what to escape to… I started praying… asking for help because I didn’t want to feel the way I felt anymore and I didn’t know how to fix myself. Then it hit me: spiritual problems manifest as physical problems. Then I heard “I TRUST”. I TRUST, I TRUST, I TRUST… It almost had a beat to it. Over and over and over in my mind I heard I TRUST. I allowed this to become a mantra for the rest of my day. I TRUST became a backdrop in my mind.
As I went through my day at work with the mantra on automatic repeat, I realized I had been putting a lot of pressure on myself as of late. I had gained weight and couldn’t fit into most of my pants so I wanted to loose the weight as quickly as possible. I was also contemplating going back to school and felt that I was in a now or never moment to change the trajectory of my life. I was desperately searching for my next right step in so many areas of my life and I didn’t have any true clarity… or did I? I realized over the course of the that day that I had been living out of my own power, instead of God’s power. This is why I felt so powerless. I was running on my own steam and my steam cannot sustain me. Something had to change. Again the mantra “I TRUST”. As I continued through my afternoon something interesting began to happen within my mind. Those unrelenting and scary discussions I was having within began to hit a brick wall: I have to loose these 15 pounds so I can wear my clothes and go on a date or two….. I TRUST; I have to keep up with my Disciple classwork… I TRUST; I have to get these ten things done this week so I can keep moving myself forward already…. I TRUST; I have to find a new job and pick a master’s program and figure what in the hell I am going to do with my life now or I’ll…. I TRUST.
By the end of the day those thoughts and many others couldn’t even really get started in my head - the mantra would automatically kick in and kick those unhealthy and unhelpful thoughts out. I also noticed that my energy level had picked up and I was beginning to feel like myself again. The next morning I awoke feeling a million times better. It seems as though, at least for this time, a spiritual problem had, indeed, manifested into a physical problem. I wasn’t physically sick, I had been spiritually sick and my creator led me to the source of the problem. I need to trust. I need to trust God, I need to trust myself and I need to trust others and the universe to have my back. I did not have a physical ailment, I had a spiritual ailment - a trust issue. I also have to learn to stop living out of my own power and start living out of God’s power. I am still learning what this means, but for now I have the mantra “I TRUST” knocking out unhealthy thought patterns so I can breathe and enjoy life again.