Teach Me Somethin, Tolle! Today: The Stories We Tell Ourselves

“The primary cause of your unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.

Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral, which always is at it is. There is the situation or the fact, and here are my thoughts about it. Instead of making up stories, stay with the facts. For example, “I am ruined” is a story. It limits you and presents you from taking effective action. “I have fifty cents left in my bank account” is a fact. Facing facts is always empowering. Be aware that what you think, to a large extent, creates the emotions that you feel. See the link between your thinking and your emotions. Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.” (pg 5)

This is a small passage but it’s pretty rife with depth and possibility that I feel I could discuss it for hours over coffee and a crumpet, whatever a crumpet is. But it’s an interesting premise. Given that this is a blog mostly about life through the lens of being sick, I have to relate these things to my own experience. Sometimes I think, this is such an eye-roll. A bore. I want to tell others stories and look at these things through their lens, but I not only don’t have that access, I don’t have that right. I only know truly what it’s like to be in this world as me, Mary, and so I use what I read and try to apply it to my own life experience. Surprisingly, it helps. It’s funny how reading passages like this, you can think of other people and be spot on by saying “Yep, Dianna totally does that.” But the more conscious approach is to look at it and become aware of the ways in which you’ve “missed the boat” this same way at times, or catch yourself doing exactly what he’s (Tolle) talking about.

The part about making up stories is perfect, because it is surprising how often and how quickly our minds resort to this tactic, I guess as a mechanism of just not looking in or at ourselves in any meaningful way, (because that is both difficult and sometimes painful) but always pointing the finger outwards. It evades personal accountability. But telling stories has long been something we all do, and I can think of so many times I’ve done it, then facepalmed myself in the forehead later thinking, What was I thinking? I literally just made up some scenario in my head, and believed it, and was absolutely completely wrong. Someone doesn’t call back in a timely manner. You don’t like their response to something. Your jeans are missing and you’re convinced maybe they accidentally took them and GOD DIANA WOULD SO DO SOMETHING LIKE ACCIDENTALLY TAKE MY JEA…..oh here they are… in my closet…”

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It’s crazy how fast down the rabbit hole we go, convinced that Diana didn’t call us because she just doesn’t care about our friendship anymore, and you know what, maybe she NEVER did?! Maybe I should send her a mean text! “Oh, her grandma is in the hospital and she’s been away from her phone…”Oh, oh Diana, I’m so sorry to hear that. What can I do?” How stupid our egos can be! And what good story-tellers! They are always looking to be wronged, which is why they can start a fight about anything, literally anything. Frozen Yogurt? OH I’LL TELL YOU ABOUT FROZEN YOGURT! Um OK Diana, calm down. DON’T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!!! *turns into the hulk, flies away*

It doesn’t mean we aren’t sometimes wronged. Or we don’t sometimes deserve to feel hurt. All of that will happen. It’s more about response to painful stimuli that human behavior just seems to get wrong. We are clearly, still learning.

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Hey, this water is pink!
OK, so we’re really good at blaming. And great at creating scenarios in our head that aren’t actually true except in our own self-made ego reality. (Which isn’t actual reality) And we’re really bad at self-reflection. I say “we” because I’ve seen this actually happen in action. To me, to others. It’s crazy! Never seen it? Open your eyes and wait for the Holidays to come around or wait in line at Walgreens or get stuck in traffic, you’ll find plenty of it. Passive aggressiveness. Blaming. Gossip. Anger. Insensitivity. All the yucky stuff that makes things which are supposed to be fun, not so fun. And we’re all guilty. It’s easy to want to point a finger at one person, but if you’re offended or participate, even in tiny ways, you’re part of the dance too, my friend. And I have done plenty of dancing.

The other part of this passage that I think is so important is the difference between facts and stories. Saying “I’m totally screwed” is a story, like he said. But so often we get ourselves so upset, so anxious, so depressed about things that are going to unfold one way or another, and in that present moment, you’ll address them. But if you’re too far away from this present moment, always stressing about the future, you will never enjoy life in its natural form–which is always happening in the now. It doesn’t mean you just mosey around until “the future arrives.” If you’re truly present in the moment we call Now, you’ll be ready for whatever happens, which you have absolutely no way of knowing how it will unfold. He also says this:

“To be in alignment with what is means to be in a relationship of inner nonresistance with what happens. It means not to label it mentally good or bad, but to let it be. Does this mean you can no longer take action to bring about change in you life? On the contrary. When the basis for your actions is inner alignment with the present moment, your actions become empowered by the intelligence of life itself.”

Duuuude, deep stuff. It’s easy to be sick and tell myself stories like “This isn’t fair.” “I can’t catch a break.” “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.” But all according to what? According to my version of what I thought my life should look like–none of it based in the reality that my life is. When I am in true stillness, and I’ll reiterate this time and time again– if there is something crucial missing from my generation, and the baby boomers will tell you we don’t know what hard work is and we’re ultra sensitive and have all kinds of nice things to say–what my generation is truly missing is stillness.

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It is very hard to self-reflect in a noisy, demanding office, a loud home, when you’re constantly with people, when you refuse to be alone, or as soon as you have solitude or quiet, you turn to your mobile device as some kind of virtual company. So few look at time alone as an advantage to reflect. Or do whatever you want. Pray. Meditate. Read. Just try to be still. Try not to get on social media and see if you can be comfortable, alone with only you. People think “being busy” means being important, but it really doesn’t. Try doing nothing. See how long you can do it without outside stimulation. Then tell me you wish you were sick and didn’t have to go to work. Hah. I always loved that line.

I don’t think you have to be absolutely quiet or alone in order to obtain what Tolle is talking about. If you are awake in these crucial moments–at work, with your kids, at the dinner table, then you’re effectively reaching consciousness. Take time to acknowledge what you have and the good in your life. It’s all there; it’s up to us to open our eyes and see it.

Health, Happiness, Reflection :) (:

*Awesome, awesome artwork by Sonia Pulido

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Teacher Tolle Tuesday

johnholcomb-1I’ve been meaning to create a segment for a very long time where I take passages from Eckhart Tolle’s books and put them here for the world, all thirteen readers of you, to see. ;)

There are certain passages from all of his books that I have underlined, highlighted, circled, starred, tabbed…you get it. And they all come from separate times I’ve read the book. The passage I’m about to transcribe here comes from a book of his called Oneness With All Life. I fear even writing that because it’s an easy way to turn someone off to it–there’s so much “new agey” crap about solving the mystery of life and “finding happiness” that the more details I give I’m afraid the more you’ll be resistant to reading it. I can understand that, there’s a lot of people claiming to have LISTS and PROGRAMS and FIVE EASY STEPS promising you happiness that it’s almost depressing. Happiness is not some trophy you come upon and clench when you’ve truly done it. Don’t we know that by now? How can we not be blindingly aware that no, money doesn’t buy you happiness. Duh. Look at your rich friends or family…do they seem insanely happy? No. Of course they don’t. They’re just often unhappy living with SUPER awesome amenities. But they do get to fly first class and I always tell myself if I’m ever rich, THAT’S where my extravagant purchases will go to…traveling first class. I’ll remember with a shudder the horrors of the main cabin. See? Already spoiled. Complaining about the incredible GIFT OF FLIGHT.

I remember in an airport once, I saw a book called the Happiness Project….which was all about following these set of rules, because as many do, this woman had found herself married, two kids, a job and loving husband, and yet not really happy. So she began the voyage. And developed some program to follow to be happy. And guess what? She seemed to find happiness! And maybe she really did. But reading it I couldn’t help but think that it just felt a little obvious and maybe a little gimmicky. I believed she was truly trying to find happiness, I just couldn’t buy that these were the ways to “get there.”  There aren’t rules to being happy, people love knowing what to do, it helps them feel in control, and that alone assists with “happiness”. Which is why when things come up unexpected, we just lose our minds because WE DIDN’T PLAN FOR THIS DEBORAH! There’s a lot of people who will promise you can be happy, and live an entirely great life, if you just tweak a few things. And sometimes they’re right. But that self-help section is bursting at the seams with many more who don’t seem to know, and we’re gobbling it up for a reason: because we all want to know. TELL ME!!! I’ll do anything to escape my misery!!! Wait what? No I won’t do that.

The truth is, according to the modern mystics,  in order to achieve our own inner level of peace, we have to look deeply at ourselves, not others. We have to change ourselves, we have to see ourselves, become conscious of our life and our way of seeing things, our patterns we’ve been taught–to react and stress and yell, when really none of that is necessary. If it rains when it’s supposed to be sunny, it’s going to happen whether you lose your mind and freak out or say, oh well, what should we do now? And if there’s one thing I’ve witnessed time and again, it’s that when someone is freaking out because things didn’t go “right”, and other people are not freaking out and casually just moving along because um, hi, we don’t control the sun, THAT. PISSES. THEM. OFF. Interesting, isn’t it. That’s the ego, clinging for life, and now not just angry that its raining but that OTHER people aren’t angry it’s raining. It’s ridiculous. But it’s the way it bees, and it doesn’t have to bees that way. I just know that we should be incredibly leery of promises that your life and your happiness can be changed and attained all in five easy steps! I’m no Einstein, (REALLY!) but I know when it comes to happiness, more importantly, when it comes to true inner peace and joy, there are no shortcuts. Life is really hard, and you can’t evade the pain. But you don’t have to create extra pain for yourself. The “extra arrow” as my friend Daniel always talked about. The story we tell ourselves about the facts. You’re going to experience pain, but you’ve got to do your work to figure it out, find the hidden seed of grace, and find how to grow bigger from it bot let it swallow it you whole.  But a lot of our pain is self-created, and I do it to myself all the time. Convince myself of some madness or offense, only to find out later I was TOTALLY wrong and an idiot for believing what I did. That’s how we can help ourselves. Ignore ourselves. Haha. Ignore our thoughts, pay attention to our inner self–two very different things.  There’s no “List of “10 things to follow and you’re all set!” So burn that book, if it exists, and I”m sure it does.

Tolle and a few other mystics are very upfront about truth and about how to go absorbing what they’re putting out there. But they are of such a different breed–they’re not writing about how to “get happy.” Which is what people want. 5 steps to get happy! They’re writing about how to be conscious. How to save yourself from causing undue harm or pain to yourself or others. And when you’re conscious in the world, you’re honest, with yourself and others–you’re honest when you’ve messed up, when you’re lucky, in pain, grateful, loved, sorry, and when you love. When you’re conscious and honest, you can’t lie to yourself about what the true source of pain is. You may not be able to know what it is, but you can definitely know what is isn’t.

SO, every morning, I read from Tolle’s repertoire of wisdom—books I have read over and over and over and I will continue to do so. Because all of them elicit further consciousness every time you read them. I feel similarly about Michael Singer, Marianne Williamson, and especially Gary Zukav’s Seat of the Soul. I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting. But I have long days. I don’t leave the house a lot. I have to learn how to harness the normally spent mental and psychological energy that would go outward into the world, into tasks and work and conventional effort, at home, in silence a lot, in solitude a lot, with no plans, no control. The biggy. This is not easy and can be a great source of pain, more than the illness itself. So, on Tuesdays, we’re gonna take Tolle’s words that really stick, with a cup of tea. And I’ll just write them here. Maybe they’ll stick with you too. But please don’t give up on this post because I’m rambling. I’m gonna stop. Here’s Teacher Tuesday’s Lesson One, and it’s one of the more profound and lasting passages I’ve read. SO here it goes. Also I just jumped right in to the center of his stuff so we’ll have some preliminary terms to go over. We’ll do that next Tuesday. I’m still learning. See you then.

People believe themselves to be dependent on what happens for their happiness, that is to say, dependent on form. They don’t realize that what happens is the most unstable thing in the universe. It changes constantly. They look upon the present moment as either marred by something that has happened and shouldn’t or as deficient because of something that has not happened but should. And so they miss the deeper perfection that is inherent in life itself, a perfection that is always already here, that lies beyond what is happening or not happening, beyond form. 

Accept the present moment and find the perfection that is deeper than any form and untouched by time. 

The most important, the primordial relationship in your life is your relationship with the Now, or rather with whatever form the Now takes–what is or what happens. If your relationship with the Now is dysfunctional, that dysfunction will be reflected in every relationship and every situation you encounter. The ego could be defined simply this way: a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment. It is at this moment that you can decide what kind of relationship you want to have with the present moment. Friend or enemy?

The present moment is inseparable from life, so you are really deciding what kind of relationship you want to have with life. Once you have decided you want the present moment to be your friend, it is up to you to make the first move: Become friendly toward it, welcome it no matter in what disguise it comes and soon you will see results. Life becomes friendly toward you; people become helpful, circumstances cooperative. One decision changes your entire reality. But that one decision you have to make again and again and again–until it becomes natural to live in such a way. 

Health, Happiness, Tolle Teachin

**Awesome artwork by Sarah Elise Abramson

Time and Space Jam.

Look at me, up at 6 am again. I’ll stop pointing this out soon as I realize this is how most of the world does it and it’s not a very special anecdote. It’s just that after two years of intense night life where my room light is on and the world is dark, I’m only used to seeing sunsets at the tail end of a bender, not at the beginning of a day. Truly I like them both, but there’s something a little less lonely about being awake during the day time, fitting into the pulse of conventional circadian rhythms. I’m awake because my burning legs woke me up. When my eyes opened there remained the haze of a dream where I understood time not linearly but in every direction; not just forward and backward but up and down, and naturally my brain almost exploded. As I looked through my junk drawer of pills, I tried to recall it perfectly, which of course I could not do. I could only remember it in some internal way, not with my mind but with something else. Some other part of our bodies that makes sense out of things. Of course trying to remember a dream where time isn’t linear in a cosmos where time is understood linearly is a contradiction. I can only vaguely remember that I glimpsed its possibility. But there’s something comforting about even the memory, because if it was possible in a dream, how could it not be possible? All of time is conceptual, so I’m feeling assured by the unfamiliar but certain memory of it. It reminded me of something I read in Tolle’s The Power of Now: “The inner equivalent of time is presence, awareness of the eternal Now.” That phrase The eternal now is exactly how I perceived time in the dream. It makes sense that the eternal now would flow in every direction.

I know that as the day proceeds, my mom will be right and the dream will fade like cotton candy. But in my room where it’s still dark from early morning, I feel it, and something about it makes me glimpse more possibility. I wish I could revisit it. As if it were an actual place I toured. But Inception is just a movie and Leonardo DiCaprio is just a man. What? Anyway before the crumbling of conventional time dream, I was watching otters swim in a very wide, muddy river. And we all know what THAT means. I’ll have to have a dream sesh with my mom later. Totes.

Beyond time/space dreams, I’ve been listening to a lot of Lorde lately. Like a lot. Like all Lorde all the time. I shared my obsession with the Pure Heroine album with a friend and now he binge listens to a lot of Lorde too. And sometimes we call each other and try to have some normal conversation like we haven’t been listening to Lorde for hours and watching videos of her and reading about her on Wikipedia. “Hey what’s up?” “Nothing whats up?” “Nothing.” “You’re listening to Lorde again aren’t you?” “Only for the last 6 hours, you?” Only all night last night, but anyway.” It’s addicting. It’s really hard to believe she’s seventeen and that when she produced this album she had just only turned 16. My friend says he feels pervy sometimes because she’s so young. But her voice sounds so incredibly loaded with experience; like she’s been through some shit that extends far beyond high school. Maybe this is what sets apart true artists, or what we call prodigies. They’ve got this ability to tap into time and experience in a different way. They can access the past, the vastness, the depth of all our existence. It seems to have little to do with time or age. Maybe they’re mining into that slow breathing, collective consciousness underneath all humanity. I imagine it’s how Mozart was composing sophisticated music by age 5 and Beethoven was orchestrating his most famous work after he went deaf. They were tapping into something deep and alive that isn’t usually accessible by most. Maybe it’s not so much that they were proactively seeking this “dimension” or energy, but rather that they were allowing it to move through them. Anyone who’s found themselves practicing their passion in a pure form can attest to feeling a powerful energy moving through and guiding their hand. Maybe that’s what Flannery O’Connor meant when she said “I write to discover what I know.” The best part of it all is that their finished products give the rest of us vision into that intangible force, which is maybe the best part, the real appeal of art in the first place. It’s a connection among separateness.

It bothers me that I do this, but I’ll probably continue to listen to this album until the sound of it makes me sick, because that’s what I do. Listen over and over and over until I can hardly stomach it. Because that’s my approach to finding music I like and it’s stupid but I don’t feel I can help it. Go me. Anyway since I’ve broached time and space and all that, I’ll share a passage from The Power of Now that I have underlined and that gives me some peace when I read it. It reminds me of the dream among other things, and mostly I just like it a lot. Here goes.

Go out on a clear night and look up at the sky. The thousands of stars you can see with the naked eye are no more than an infini-tesimal fraction of what is there. Over 100 billion galaxies can already be detected with the most powerful telescopes, each galaxy an “island universe” with billions of stars. Yet what is even more awe-inspiring is the infinity of space itself, the depth and stillness that allows all of that magnificence to be. ..What appears to us as space in our universe perceived through the mind and the senses is the Unmanifested itself, externalized. ..The greatest miracle is this: that stillness and vastness that enables the universe to be, is not just out there in space–it is also within you. When you are utterly and totally present, you encounter it as the still inner space of no-mind. Within you, it is vast in-depth, not in extension. Spacial extension is ultimately a misperception of infinite depth–an attribute of the one transcendental reality.

What you perceive externally as space and time are ultimately illusory, but they contain a core of truth. There are the two essential attribute of God, infinity and eternity, perceived as if they had an external existence outside you. ..You are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold. That is how important you are.

Letting that one marinate.

Health, Happiness, Space.

 

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The “M5” Globular Star Cluster of 100,00 stars, about 25,000 light years away

 

 

I Wanna Get Better

This strange thing keeps happening. This clear salty liquid keeps filling up in my eyes and overflowing down my face. I’ll feel a little overwhelmed and then a sense of loss, like I’m mourning someone. The liquid is an endless spring. I imagine I’ll run out, but I don’t. I have to drink more just to supplement all that salt I’m losing! It’s pretty annoying. I’d like it to stop.

The truth is I become a fragile emotional feather when I’m sick without relief. Gradually, after day and night and day of unrelenting sickness, it just gets to you. It starts to feel like dying more than living. I know that’s a heavy statement, and I use the verb feel very specifically. I am very much alive. Although it does beg the question. At what point do we say someone is “dying?” When their suffering outweighs their relief? That’s another question another day. I am for whatever reason, very alive, although I feel very dead. But dead people don’t cry so I think I can rule that out.

The real reason it’s been so hard recently is that being sick is absolutely and utterly exhausting. It’s overwhelming. And you know what I fantasize about? Being one of the people in my life right now that gets to offer help and suggest improvements and do random kind things. I dream of just being an average person in the functioning world. If you are that person, in anyones life, treasure it. It’s truly a privilege to be able to give to others. I might not have understood that had I never gotten sick. I want to give instead of take take take all the time. I’m tired of relying on help from others and constantly showing gratitude or kissing ass because I’m often helpless, unreliable, or burdensome. I’m tired of being high maintenance. I’m tired of all the pills I take, that work about half the time. Sometimes my stomach turns at the thought of them. I’m tired of being a bad friend in terms of what I am able to offer. I’m tired of what I am made to consider my “social life.” I’m tired of calling in sick to doctor appointments. Of seeing one or two hours of sunlight on bad days. I’m tired of my nightmares and high anxiety dreams every night. You’d think such a weighed down life would find respite in the dreamworld, but nope!! I’m tired of being 29 and relying on my parents as much as I do. Tired of feeling like I have things to offer the world but am too sick and small to carry them out. I couldn’t even hold a part-time job right now. And I’d actually love to. I’m tired of the answer being that there is no answer–there is no cure. I’m tired of being tired. And I know that those I rely on get tired of it too. The effects of all this go beyond me.

I don’t believe in whining and complaining and lamenting about life. Going on that way doesn’t really move us forward. But at the same time, there is pain here, underneath the pain, and if I don’t let it out I fear it will grow and take over my already sick insides. So I have to release it. I thought maybe if I write about it, these episodes of fluid filling up my eyes and clouding my vision and streaming down my face will cease. In other words, I want to stop crying at dog food commercials.

I am someone who loves solitude, thrives off of it even. But lately it feels more like loneliness, which is the third cousin twice removed from solitude. It’s a bad feeling. The difference between the two is that one is chosen and the other feels like the forced, only option. It’s hard to swallow when you’re constantly canceling on plans. And what you’re doing instead of being with friends, is being sick and alone at home. That’s not a fun thing to go through all the time. It wears on you.

I also laugh and cry at myself because I still want to see new places and try new things, meet new people and kiss cute boys. It’s like my heart doesn’t know I’m sick. It never gives up on the idea of new adventures. And then I wonder who would want to date me that has read this blog? I sort of leave my bleeding heart in the words here, and it’s a lot. It probably looks heavy. It can be, like anyones life. I feel vulnerable sometimes knowing that people have read such personal things about me without actually knowing me at all, but it’s part of the project. I told myself I’d always be honest, including when it got ugly. And I feel like it’d be dishonorable to discontinue that just for the sake of vanity. Still though, I worry and wonder if I’m cutting myself off from potential personal relationships by laying it all out there for the world to chew up. I worry where my life will go and how in Gods name I will move forward from here when some days I can’t leave the bed. But our boy Tolle is right: all we have is the present moment. All anyone can do is here and now. And if the present moment has me weak and in bed, (like it does right now) I can’t judge it or myself. This is where I am. I am doing what I’m capable of. Some days are going to look like this:

Not tired of this yet.
Not tired of this part.

I see where I’ve gone wrong. I’ve been judging the circumstances of my life which are beyond my control. I’ve been equating my broken body with who I am and my past as the teller of what my whole life will look like. Neither are true. But my circular thoughts would say otherwise, and sometimes we have to observe ourselves beyond our thoughts and feelings–as they are often flat-out wrong. At the same time, this life is just painful and hard sometimes, and I guess it’s OK to type that out loud. Just like I will type out loud when things change and life is better. Everything is temporary.

I also know that goals never hurt anybody. And I plan to make some more specific ones and at least feel  like I am playing a part in my health and happiness. There are small things that I can do and/or avoid that can help. Well, that’s what my mom says, and she is usually right. She’s also planning to give up TV for Lent which sounds great to me. I have a few projects in mind in lieu of the crap we would’ve been watching. Creativity never hurt either. In fact, it’s often where we find relief we didn’t even know we needed.

Also, listen to this song. It’s called I Wanna Get Better by Bleachers and I know the title is almost annoyingly appropriate but it’s a really fun and happy jam. And you can’t have enough of those.

Health and Happiness and Sickness and Sadness :)

Wisdom In the Day Lilies

I’ve been pretty taken by these Day Lilly flowers blooming outside. I like that their entire purpose (for me) is just to be something delightful to look at. To be simple and beautiful reminders. It took years and years of me hearing the term “Day Lily” being thrown around as merely words assigned to a flower to one day, just last week, finally putting it together that they are named this way because they bloom for merely a day. (Duh.) They are such vibrant and roaring things. They’re like little poems themselves that don’t require writing. Flowers often strike me as delicate but these specifically do not. They’re almost unruly. They are stunning colors and you’ll find yourself lost looking in their center, unaware of time. Tolle refers to flowers as “Windows into the formless” and that makes sense when looking at these lilies. They’re incredible creatures, and they only last a day.

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If you’ve never read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, he begins the book with a description about the first flower ever to bloom on our planet, and why that is important to our existence and collective consciousness now. It’s quite a beautiful passage. So here it is:

Earth, 114 million years ago, one morning just after sunrise: The first flower ever to appear on the planet opens up to receive the rays of the sun. Prior to this momentous event that heralds an evolutionary transformation in the life of plants, the planet had already been covered in vegetation for millions of years. The first flower probably did not survive for long, and flowers must have remained an isolated phenomena, since conditions were most likely not yet favorable for a widespread flowering to occur. One day, however, a critical threshold was reached, and suddenly there would have been an explosion of color and scent all over the planet– if a perceiving consciousness had been there to witness it.

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I really love this description and the image of such a large, simultaneous blooming. But the deeper point he goes on to make is that flowers were most likely the first things human beings came to value “that had no real utilitarian purpose for them–that is to say, were not linked in some way to survival.” He attributes our fascination with flowers to their ethereal quality, calling them “temporary manifestations of the underlying One Consciousness.”  Since a flower is a glimpse into the formless, and ego is described as “identification with form” (materialism, i.e. I am what I have) we can say that the simple act of looking at flowers is an opportunity for us to see with our soul and not our eyes. To drop our egos for a moment. Physically the flowers are beautiful, and underneath they represent the joy of formless beauty. You don’t have to “own” a flower to enjoy it. It’s interesting too to witness how the entire atmosphere of a room can change once you put a vase of real flowers in the center. Or even one flower in a small vase. Somehow, it makes a difference. It changes things.

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To think about beauty and purpose in terms of time, it occurs to me that only humans would consider a day not long enough for something to exist. If we were told we could be beautiful and happy and perfect, but we could only last a day, would we take on the endeavor? It seems like we’d demand more time–enter some boardroom negotiation with the creator. And yet, some of us exist on earth for only a little while. There are so many lives cut short, and as survivors we see it as indecent. It feels, to us, like they were never given a chance. They were never able to really live. But maybe, like the day lilies, one day of life is more than enough time for us to serve our purpose. It’s hard to grasp conceptually. Time is something my mind busies itself with at night–until I think of the concept of eternity for too long and the thought becomes too intense and my brain explodes. It’s pretty frustrating, you can imagine. Gary Zukav once described life in terms of time as “the eternal moment” and sometimes that makes perfect sense to me and sometimes it’s not enough. It’s almost too simple. But that’s how I imagine a lot of the secrets of the universe to reveal themselves. Complex, large ideas executed very simply. Maybe the better word for it is elegant. 

Maybe I’ve made some far-reaching metaphors here. The truth is, flowers are pretty things to look at mostly, and possibly I’m ruining their beauty by cluttering them up with philosophy. But it’s an interesting investigation to discover why we as humans, often so entrenched on utilitarian things, furthering our purpose, working harder and faster and longer, can every once in a while stop our busy lives and look into flowers and feel a sense of ease and simplicity. We may smile looking at them without even knowing it. It’s interesting that in our modern society, flowers have come to serve the purpose of a wide spectrum of emotions. They’re a way to say “I Love You” and “I’m Sorry.” We use them to celebrate life and death. It’s no mystery why people say “Stop and smell the roses.” Flowers are small and silent, their scent often subtle–requiring you to drop everything and stick your nose right into the bloom to really take it in. I think once I just thought they were pretty things to look at and that was all. But I’m finding more and more that simple and beautiful things, selfless providers, (flowers, dogs, sunsets) are much more in tune to our purpose here and the work we do. If ego is the blueprint for dysfunction like Tolle says, perhaps flowers are the blueprint to consciousness. If even just for a day.

Health, Happiness, Day Lilies

*I took these photos on my iphone and they haven’t been enhanced. For realsy!

If I Was a Horse, They’d Shoot Me

Maybe that title is a little extreme, but sometimes when I’m counting out my pills in the morning and filling up my coffee mug for the third time, I wonder about my existence. Not in the depressing suicidal way, but more in terms of how such a weak physical specimen as myself has made it this far, it being survival of the fittest and all. I’m far from fit, but I guess I am surviving. But when I see people on facebook climbing mountains and shit I think crap, I can’t even stand the thought of standing in line without needing to faint. What am I doing here?! Then I get off facebook because I’m really starting to believe it is the demise of human beings. I think I’ll post that thought on facebook.

After visiting with the doc in Miami and changing around a few doses of things, we agreed upon my next round of treatment; which is two anti-biotics for the next two years. Woo! Yeah! Apparently, all my liminess isn’t gone, and the 6 month run on those overly priced horse pills didn’t do the trick. SO. Round two. To be honest, I’m fine with this decision. I mean, my pill bag has just enough room for two more bottles, so I’m cool with it spatially. I could look at it and be like waahhh two years of more pills. Or I could look at it as; In two years from now I presume I’ll be alive anyway, so would I like to be full or free of lyme disease? It’s my patriotic duty to choose freedom. And anti-biotics. So here’s to more pills! We’re waiting on the blood work still to finalize decisions but it’s looking like I’m in it for the long haul. Which is fine because, you know, I have the time.

So I’ve been reading A New Earth and it’s really awesome even though I’ve read it before. I think it’s one of those books you could continue to read your whole life and never fall short of gaining incredible meaning. The only other book that has done that for me is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I love that book.

Aaah Childhood.

So anyway there’s this part in A New Earth where Tolle is talking about human evolution. It reminded me of my first day of my college anthropology class. The teacher brought up evolution and began to talk about the timeline for the semester and then started to give his personal viewpoint on evolution so the class would have a clear direction. Then he asked if there were any questions and a student raised his hand and asked “But if evolution exists, then why have humans stopped evolving?” The teacher smiled big and shouted “Great Question and THANK YOU for asking!” (This was his enthusiastic response to any question a student decided to ask during class.) Then he put his hands together under his chin and answered with “That’s the good news. We haven’t!” He went on to explain that evolution are adapted changes made over a long period of time, and that if we compared modern humans with our counterparts 10,000 years ago, there would be numerous differences. I at least know that in terms of communication even in the last ten years there have been an incredible amount of changes that will forever change the ways humans interact with one another. I’d love to show a caveman Facebook.

Wait why don’t I just actually poke her?

Anyway, back to the book. Soo Tolle is talking about humans and how we’ve evolved and that one of the biggest fundamental differences between human beings and the rest of the animal world is that we are conscious of our consciousness. This kind of awareness is what drives the fundamental questions like “Who Am I?” and “What Is My Purpose Here?” Although these are the kinds of questions that can be terrifying or seemingly impossible to answer, they are what make us uniquely human and for that they should be celebrated! And pursued, too. What he also says is that “The next step in human evolution (enlightenment) is not inevitable, but for the first time in the history of our planet, it can be a conscious choice.” Cool dude!

Along those same lines, I watched a lecture that Deepak Chopra gave a few days ago, and much of what he spoke about correlated with this very concept. (Synchronicity, Yeah!) He talked about the mind, the body, and the soul, but he began by expounding on the intelligence of our human bodies independent of our human minds. For example, our bodies are made up of 100 trillion cells, which is more than all the stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. Each cell is performing roughly 100,000 activities every second and every cell instantly knows what the other cells are doing and correlates its activities respectively. This is how we are capable of thinking, talking, digesting food, playing piano, killing germs and removing toxins all at the same time. “This is the inner intelligence inside of you that mirrors the wisdom of the Universe,” he says. It was cool to hear him speak about this because so many times I’ve laid in bed with my hand on my heart, listening and feeling my heartbeat and thinking “Who’s making it beat?” I guess the answer wasn’t a who, but a what. Or a who-what.

Then he broke down human intelligence into four levels. He said that the highest form of human intelligence is State of Being. He describes this as the ability to observe yourself without judging yourself. The Second highest form is Feeling- our ability to feel compassion, joy, empathy. The 3rd highest form is Reflective Thinking- Who Am I? What Do I want? What will my contribution be? What inspires me? And the 4th highest form is Doing- the ability to create happiness. He also provided a pretty simple but profound definition of the soul- the space between your thoughts. Think about it.

Anyway seeing as how sometimes I’m a worthless physical specimen that doesn’t “do” a whole lot, I liked how doing was last on the list. :) But it was his last thought that was most reassuring to me, since it had been a very sick week and I was feeling a lot like a horse needing to be shot. “The next state of evolution is consciousness. It will be survival of the wisest, not the fittest.”

Health, Happiness, Horses.

How To Forgive.

The topic of forgiveness has been making its way into many conversations I’ve been having among friends and family lately. It’s also shown up in my books and things I’ve been watching, and I don’t take signs lightly. I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness and also about resentment. These are incredibly strong feelings to hold on to. Whether you know it or not, your willingness to forgive has more to do with you than anyone who has wronged you. The concept is simple; forgive those who have wronged you and free yourself, or stay angry and chain yourself to the past. I can tell you from personal experience that the latter makes life incredibly heavy and mostly uphill. The premise of this idea of forgiveness is one you don’t hear often but as I’ve been confronting this new definition, makes an incredible amount of sense to me albeit at odds with our typical definition in the realm of apologies. Ready? It is this: It is not our job to judge other human beings. Maybe you feel one or both of your parents did a less than adequate job raising you. Maybe you were wronged by a romantic partner or betrayed by a friend. Don’t you think it’s interesting that the wrongdoing could have happened something like 10 years ago, and yet you still feel the pain, hurt or anger as though the wound were made yesterday? This is the ego hanging on for dear life. The ego wants to see the person who wronged you suffer. They want to see them ‘pay’ for their crime. But as many people will tell you, or what you may have experienced yourself, is vengeance is often so exhausting that when you see your perpetrator pay for his crime, you often don’t feel any better. That is because your higher self doesn’t like to see fellow human beings suffer. Your ego does.

What I’ve gathered from recent material, is that forgiveness granted to others is a gift you give yourself. It does not exonerate what the other person did. It does not excuse them from their wrongdoing and it is not a symbol of weakness on your part. It is quite the opposite. If someone has wronged you, they will have to face those demons, the consequences of their actions, on their own. And you have to trust that they will eventually have to confront their behavior. It’s how energy and karma work. But whether you forgive them or not does not determine whether they will have to come face to face with their wrongdoing. It is impossible that they won’t. This is good news for us. This means we don’t have to hold on to what was done to us, we don’t have to take on the task of seeing perpetrators pay, and we don’t even have to wait for them to apologize in order to forgive them. The universe and karma will take care of these things for us. It is only our job to work towards consciousness and becoming a whole human being. And you can become neither of these things if your clawing away at a crime done unto you whether it be yesterday or 10 years ago. The resentment will infect all parts of your life, because it is such a negatively charged emotion, besides draining your positive energy and keeping you halfway in the past. It is impossible to become conscious and live fully in the present if you have one foot in your childhood wagging your finger at your dad. Here is the most relieving and powerful definition of resentment that I heard recently; “Having resentment for someone is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.” Nelson Mandela said that. And I think it’s safe to say that guy has good reason to hang onto resentment, and yet he let it all go. So can we.

So, of course, this is all easier said than done. How do we let go of the past? For one thing, look at the anger or hurt that you are hanging onto. Where is it coming from? First you need to ‘bring it to light’ as they say. Chances are you’re holding onto pain and haven’t even fully acknowledged it. But it’s there. Maybe you are drinking it away, smoking it away, sexing it away, manipulating it away, or betting it away. But once you stop, (try stillness, that is when many answers arise) you will feel those inner parts that are hurting. The next thing to remember is that by letting go of the pain, forgiving what was done to you, you are not excusing wrongdoing. You are freeing yourself. You are feeling the hurt of what was done, maybe even one last time, and then releasing it. You’re saying that you aren’t going to live with the pain, anger, hurt, sadness, exhaustion or judgement anymore. (Keep in mind, the person who needs forgiving may even be yourself.) I know that the word surrender seems to have a weak stigma attached to it, but it is the opposite. Surrender is the brave acceptance of what is and also of what was. Whether you accept the things that have happened in your life or not, the truth remains the same. Your anger at the past won’t change it, so it is time to let it go.

I’ve thought heavily the last few days of what sort of pain I’ve been carrying around with me. After a year and four months, I feel like I have forgiven whoever or whatever I was mad at that I am sick. In fact, I turned that emotion around into gratitude. Of course, I wouldn’t have chosen this. But since when do I know what’s best for me in the context of eternity? I don’t. But intelligent divinity does, and I’ve finally begun to trust that. Last night I tapped into a moment that my deceased step-dad and I shared on New Years Eve one night. He had been in a terrible mood for three days. He would stomp around the house angrily, slam cabinet doors, sigh heavily at small things. Finally he blew up. It was over this: a dryer sheet. There was a dryer sheet on the floor of our laundry room, and it put him over the edge. He reacted, threw his hands in the air, yelled something about respect and consideration and grew red and heated in the face. It was an obvious overreaction and clear to my mom and I that he was dealing with the hurt of something else. How could a dryer sheet make someone so mad? Those things smell awesome! My mom stayed very calm and told him his behavior wasn’t acceptable, and the two of us left for a few hours and allowed him to get his head straight. When we returned, the two of them spoke in our office for a few hours, and I got ready to celebrate the New Year. When I walked into the kitchen, Roger called me into the office where he and my mom were sitting. He was weeping. He told me “I can’t be who your dad was. And I’m sorry.” I remember holding his hand and saying “I don’t need you to be my dad. I just need you to be you.” We looked at each other and for the first time in a long while, I felt that we really saw each other. Each for exactly who the other one was, not who we wished them to be. It was a freeing moment. I learned then the power of forgiveness, and have since (over 8 years ago) tried to constantly look past the external reactions of people, and into what is real. People don’t act in poor ways for no reason. They just don’t.

I’ll leave you with one last quote about forgiveness. It was said by Iyanla Vanzant, a spiritual teacher and author. (Life Class anyone?) Here it is:

Until you heal the wounds of your past, you will continue to bleed. You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex, but eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life. You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories, and make peace with them.”

Pretty powerful no? Since I am trying to break the pattern of holding onto pain, or holding onto judgement for others behavior, I find that having a replacement reaction makes it easier. (Sort of like supplementing a cigarette with a cup of tea.) Whenever I feel that judgment stir in me, I take out my gratitude journal, and find something about the person or situation which I find…crappy…to be grateful for. Maybe someone wronging you taught you how to have self worth, how to tell the truth, how to listen, how to set boundaries. There are any number of things. I just know that the people in your life that have caused you pain were not just sent here to mess with you. The universe is not a random kid playing games. Like Nepo says, It is our job to make sense out of pain; there is a lesson in everything. It’s not easy. It’s hard as shit. But the reward of compassion is far greater than the result of resentment. The time has come to free myself this way. I hope you’ll do the same.

Health, Happiness, Freedom.


Leggo My Ego

I hardly know where to begin in writing this post. It has been a tough weekend for me personally. I won’t get into the personal details, but I realize that out of conflict, pain, exhaustion and hurt, can come wisdom, understanding, and peace. The key is to be present to every moment and own the energy that you’re putting out into the world. This weekend has been an examination of my own ego, and there has been great pain in discovering it and the damage it has caused me (and others). But acknowledging this “darkness” is the first step on the way to real consciousness. This is what the spiritual masters talk about when they talk about enlightenment. If this sounds like mumbo jumbo psycho-babel crap, that’s fair. This is not something people talk openly a lot about. You don’t see the Kardashians gushing about their egos and unconsciousness and balance. Justin Beiber isn’t popular because he talks about a spiritual awakening! And yet, I bet even the Kardashians and Justin Bieber would have interest in what I found over the weekend, because most people will give you the same answer when you ask them what they’re looking for; and that is inner peace.

What I found over the weekend, was my ego. Dun. Dun. DUN. I have been reading spiritual books and teachings for a few years now. My mom has been an especially wise mentor for me because she has also devoted herself to the teachings of Carl Jung, Eckhart Tolle, Gary Zukav, Maya Angelou, Ken Willber, Wayne Dyer, and Caroline Myss among others. Whether she knows it or not, I’d enacted myself long ago as her protege, simply because she offered such a wealth of knowledge that always seemed to make sense and get to the root of issues quickly. To be honest, I wanted to know if I was handling a situation poorly. I wasn’t looking to be supported 100% by her or told that I’m right and whoever I’m up against is wrong. I simply want the truth, and she always seemed to have a way of finding it. So I have treasured her as a teacher. Since becoming too ill to work last year, I’ve begun reading texts on my own and attempted simply, to figure life out. Ya know, just for shits. I am so often left bewildered. Especially after painful circumstances. I am always asking What is the meaning of this? And that’s not a bad thing. Half of finding the answer is asking the question. There are many mysteries of life that I don’t think we’re meant to know all at once. But one step at a time, one breath at a time, I am beginning to unravel the truth of my self. The first step in unraveling this truth, is identifying and defining the ego. My ego. This is what I found this weekend. It’s about to get real up in here!

There are many definitions of ego in the realm that I am referring to it. But for starters, I think simplicity is best. Tolle’s definition of ego is simple: identification with form. (I am what I have.)  It’s a new concept to grasp and we typically don’t learn about ego this way. I always thought ego was a good thing. I associated it with pride, with who I was. But that is the first fallacy in regards to the ego. You are not you’re ego. And even further, You are not your thoughts. You are not your emotions. You are not your mind. So, the question. If I’m not those things, what in the hell am I? Is there anything left? And yes! There is! That’s the good news. Underneath the ego, the noise of your mind, the negativity of your thoughts, the pain of your emotions (inward and outward) you are a conscious being, a lightness (some would call it the soul), that when you’ve let the ego go, will shine through and bring you joy. It is where compassion, peace, and love reside. It’s the part of you that doesn’t die. The only way to let go of the ego is through consciousness; being awake. Just like the only way out of darkness is light. Have you ever felt like you can’t control your thoughts or emotions? Have you ever blamed other people for making you feel bad? I’m ashamed to admit I have. But the good news is, you don’t have to be victim to your or anyone else’s unconsciousness. You have a choice in the matter. You are not your thoughts, you are not your feelings, and you are not what’s happened to you. You can stop telling yourself a sad story.

This weekend I did something that, come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever done before. I turned my phone off…voluntarily. There are a few reasons why, but mostly, because I was stuck in the “noise” of a situation that was going nowhere. I could feel myself getting lost in it, with the truth nowhere in sight. So I disengaged. At first I was going to turn it off for just a few hours to give myself some separation and clarity. But a few hours went by, and I had started to feel better, so I gave myself the whole night. I woke up the next morning and decided a few more hours couldn’t hurt. I sat outside in the sun with Monty and began reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Time got away from me. I was underlining whole passages and pages. Before I knew it, it was nighttime and I was 3/4 done with the book. I left my phone off for another 24 hours. It was great.

Do you ever hear a story about someone being a shithead and think to yourself “Oh shit, I’ve done that.”? Well, that’s basically how I felt for the first 100 pages of this book. It wasn’t easy realizing the things I did, but it was certainly necessary if I’m going to get better mentally and physically. Simply put, I found some major truth. I found the precise reality to a cloudy truth I had always thought anyway; that no one is responsible for my happiness or my sadness except me. My first inclination in reading that was of course, to fight it. What about people who have wronged me? What about the hurtful things people have done? Blah blah blah noise noise noise. That is the ego talking. It does this a lot. The truth is, a totally conscious person can’t be hurt. That’s not to say they can’t feel pain. If there are unfortunate circumstances like someone dying, a divorce, a miscarriage, there is going to be sadness felt there. But a conscious being also accepts what is happening in the moment, and can acknowledge that it will pass. They can’t be hurt by other peoples egos, because other peoples egos can’t survive in their presence. Not for long anyway. “Darkness can’t survive in the presence of light.” An unconscious person resists the present and this makes a difference. Consciousness is all about here and now. Past and future don’t exist. Regret about yesterday is from the ego. Anxiety about tomorrow is from the ego. Pain, depression and anxiety etc. are not natural states. Even though most people you know experience them. And that’s because most people you know are unconscious.

One of the biggest and hardest concepts to grasp is that time is manmade. We created it for practical purposes, but it has somehow become a very different institution. We carry the pain of yesterday around with us or the sad stories of our past or what we had or didn’t have growing up. Or on the opposite end, we dread tomorrow, or, we fantasize about tomorrow, imagining that’s when we’ll be happy. What all of these things have in common is that they deny the present moment. And the present moment is the only real thing there is. Can you prove tomorrow? Can you get yesterday back? No. (I’m assuming you don’t have access to the delorean) So naturally, we have to let go of our concept of time if we’re to understand this. If you’re constantly using the present as just a means of getting to the future or somewhere else, you’re missing the moment. You’re not present. I do this constantly. I hear it in others too. I can’t wait for Friday. Or I can’t wait until I have my own place. Or I can’t wait until I have money. Or now that I have money I can’t wait until I have more. See the never-endingness of it all? If you are to become awake in this moment, we’re talking this very second, you see that you have everything you could ever need, right in front of you. And if there is something we consider ‘wrong’ about this moment, we will cope with it. “You can always cope with the now. But you can never cope with the future,” he says. Or to put it another way, “There is never a time when your life is not ‘this moment.’ Is this not a fact?” Yeah but this moment sucks! That’s what I felt myself say. And that was me resisting the moment. The conscious me would accept where I am and be reassured that what I’m going through is exactly what I need to be going through to learn what I need in order to carry out my calling. Sometimes it’s about something bigger than you being at work, and that is certainly something the ego doesn’t like to hear.

My favorite passage in regards to letting go of past and future and existing solely in the here and now is a reference to animals and nature. (If you’re looking for a model of presence, dogs are a great example. They are ego-free) If you were to go into the wild and ask an eagle or lion what time it is, they would tell you “It’s right now” –because there is nothing else. Nature doesn’t operate yesterday or tomorrow. When it’s raining it gets wet. When the sun shines it soaks it up. When it’s night it sleeps. Something I have really struggled with is indecisiveness. Sometimes it takes me days or weeks to make even small decisions. Then after I’ve arrived at a decision, I think about what I didn’t choose. I wonder about other outcomes. This is, basically, insane. And I know it. So reading that passage about time and nature really resonated with me. “Stress is caused by being here and wanting to be there,” Tolle says. Sing it sister! Or..brother. His most simple advice; wherever you are, be there totally. Or as Ron Swanson puts it…

And you know who’s a great model of that? Monty. If we’re playing fetch, his world is the game of fetch. If I’m sick and in bed, he’s sleeping peacefully. He’s not demanding we play or asking why we’re not doing other things. If it’s dinner time he’s eating contentedly. Not asking why he has to eat the same shit all the time! He completely immerses himself in the now. Everything is enough. And that’s where my life work is beginning. Right. Now.

Health, Happiness, Consciousness.

Who I Used to Be.

I dreamt last night I was back to my old tricks in gymnastics. For those who don’t know, I used to be a badass gymnast. I say that with pride because there are so very few things I really excel at, so I don’t feel cocky in admitting the one thing that I was truly gifted with as a kid. It came easy to me. I loved it. I didn’t care that practice was four hours a day every day during competitive season. I was so incredibly driven then, and I was nine  years old. Looking back on it now, it’s like that was some other version of me from a parallel universe. Here I am in bed, wondering if I’ll have the energy to shower today. I can’t believe I used to do acrobatics on a four inch beam. And it was my favorite event, the balance beam. It required such devout focus, but I loved how everything would fade away to a colorless blur in the background while performing on it. All that existed was four inches of felt and a nine year olds concentration. It was almost holy being up there. And it was so unassuming to look at. It was literally just a beam; four feet off the ground, waiting around for anyone who felt worthy to mount it; one slip and it was all over. I’d always considered it the most difficult out of all four events, but immediately it was my favorite. I felt most myself up there. Most alive.

See? Don't I look alive?

I was at the top of my game (both in gymnastics and in school) when I came down with the flu one ordinary spring day. I skipped practice, which I never did. Days with the flu turned into weeks, and I wasn’t getting any better. I was getting worse. Suddenly I began having headaches everyday, like clockwork. My muscles started aching for no reason. Sometimes my skin hurt to touch. In line at the grocery store, I felt too tired, too weak to stay standing, so I’d sit, on the dirty grocery store floor, my head in my hands. My homework began taking me an unwarranted amount of time to complete. At that time in third grade, we were being taught how to tell time. I remember looking at the clocks on the worksheet and the numbers not seeming in order. The questions about what time it was looked like they were written backwards. I’d reread them and reread them, slower and slower. I used to be incredibly quick. Always the first one done with in-class assignments. I grasped concepts easily and fast. Now words were scrambled, and so in order to answer a question, I first had to rearrange the words in proper order because my brain for some reason, liked to put all the words in a jar, shake it up, and spit them out in whatever sequence they fell in. This took completing things three times as long. Not to mention my pounding head didn’t like to read things when it hurt. None of it made a lot of sense. Even looking back on it is a blur. But we went to a few different doctors who couldn’t find the answers. My mom said she was cringing in silence because I was showing all the symptoms that she had when first becoming ill in the 80’s. She didn’t say anything for a while, but after months of being sick and getting progressively worse, she knew it was what she feared.

I was basically home-schooled by my mom for the remainder of third grade. I spent a lot of time in bed. It was a strange time. But after four or five months of the “flu,” I slowly began to get better. I wanted so badly to get back to my routine. I wanted to be a kid again. But what I really wanted was to get back to gymnastics. Finally after a very very long hiatus, I slowly eased back into it. My teammates and coaches all welcomed me back and I was thrilled to be doing what I loved again. But, of course, things had changed. I still had all the skills in me that I’d acquired since age 5, but my body wasn’t as resilient as it used to be. I’d be unnecessarily sore for days. I tired out easily in the middle of practice. Out of nowhere, the back of my heels started delivering sharp pain when I walked. I thought it’d go away but didn’t. At the orthopedic doctor, I was diagnosed with calcaneal bursitis. Some big word for my ten year old mind that meant walking was going to be a bitch now. One day at practice, while jumping from the low bar to the high bar, my right hand slipped and I swung around, slamming my head into the metal beam which held up the bars. I knocked myself out for a few seconds and woke up on the floor with a few teammates and my favorite coach Steve crouched over me yelling my name and “What happened?! What happened?!” as though he were angry or something. Of course, he was just worried. The E.R. later diagnosed me with a concussion and told me to take it easy for a few days. I had an enormous goose egg on my head and a scab on my nose. I brought that goose egg to show-and-tell the next week. My friends were impressed.

One by one, the signs revealed themselves that I wouldn’t be able to continue gymnastics. I felt like John Elway when he cried during his retirement speech and uttered “I can’t do it physically anymore, and that’s hard for me to say.” It sucked, because I was good at gymnastics, and not much else. I ended up “retiring” at the ripe old age of 11 and it was a terrible decision to have to make. I tried other sports and hobbies that weren’t as physically demanding, but I mostly sucked at them, and none compared to what gymnastics offered me.

It’s funny to think where I’d be had I not gotten sick and stuck with gymnastics. I showed a lot of potential. My coach Steve even pulled me aside one day and said if I stayed on track, I had a shot at Olympic tryouts for Salt Lake. It was probably something like a 1 in a million shot, but still, just him believing in me meant everything. Who knows where I’d be. But once again, the illness was making decisions in my life that I wouldn’t have made on my own. Similar to last year when I retired from my work at the gallery. I wouldn’t have made that choice on my own either. But sometimes I wonder if I was given this illness because the great designer of my life knew I wouldn’t make those choices on my own. I would only choose them out of necessity. And these choices, will bring me to exactly where I’m supposed to be. We have a tendency to think only we know whats best for us. And that was the root of my anger back at age 11 and more recently last year when I felt I wasn’t being dealt a fair hand. Periodically, usually in stillness, I feel the wisdom of something else at work in my life. When I start to trust that wisdom, my life isn’t so much something I own as it is an energy, a cause; a vehicle that I simply need to ride in (and enjoy) the paths shown to me, not get angry at the ones that didn’t materialize. Tolle puts it this way:

To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.

So there you have it. No more whining about who I was, what I had. I need to stay present to who I am now. What I have now. And right now, I have some embarrassingly ridiculous gymnastic photos for your viewing pleasure…Feel free to point and laugh.

Health, Happiness, and Awesome 90’s Photos.