"To accept the challenge of the unknown is the only way to grow. " - Osho Zen Tarot

"To accept the challenge of the unknown is the only way to grow. " - Osho Zen Tarot

After a few months of not practicing meditation, I think I’m finally ready to get back into it. I claimed a corner of the bedroom and transformed it into my new sacred spot. Let’s do this.

After a few months of not practicing meditation, I think I’m finally ready to get back into it. I claimed a corner of the bedroom and transformed it into my new sacred spot. Let’s do this.

Empathy

Sometimes it is a curse. I feel broken-hearted. I feel out of place and scared. I feel like I don’t belong in my own skin. These emotions are not at the forefront of my being - they are secondary, as if they are not my own. And I’m nearly certain that they are not. 

I want so badly to cure the world for my kids. They may not be mine through blood, but they are mine through heart. I want to take away their pain and afford them the opportunity to thrive and grow and feel like they belong somewhere. 

I had a difficult time as a teenager. I was an emotional wreck, an outcast, a free spirit and a tortured soul. Nothing particularly terrible happened to me outwardly - my family was stable, my parents were supportive, my house was a wonderful home, and people generally liked me (I think.) It was my mind that created most of my problems.

But I coped with my emotions by pouring them into poetry and art, which I still have and very rarely read. When I know that my teenage step-kids are going through a difficult time, part of me is suddenly transported into that world again.

I just spent some time immersing myself in my old poetry. My fifteen year old self did an incredible job of documenting her feelings in verse. She wrote about heartbreak and the excitement of new love. She wrote about losing friends and cutting to ease the pain. She wrote about extreme lows and flowery highs and the varying levels of experimentation that naturally happen as a teenager. 

Now I am feeling entirely encumbered by these emotions, and imagining my step-children feeling this way (or even worse) makes me feel like melting into a puddle of helplessness. I wish I could go to them and tell them, “I understand.” I wish I could explain to them that while I may not have gone through the exact same situations, I know and very clearly remember the very many terrible emotions that plague them. 

So to my step-kids, who will probably never read this but I’ll say it anyway, I understand. I really do. More than you know. I wish I could wipe it all away, but believe me when I say that these moments will shape who you will become. It is up to you to decide which direction it will take you.

I found the most amazing painting app the other day, and I’ve been so excited to try it out. After playing with the brushes and settings for HOURS yesterday, I finally sat down to paint something. I’m rusty, and never knew much about painting with watercolors, so I based this one off of a similar painting I found. I’m ecstatic to finally find a tablet app that feels and looks like the real thing!

Auryn Ink - $.99 on the Google Play Store (posting a link shortly) and I’m pretty sure it’s available on iOS too.

I found the most amazing painting app the other day, and I’ve been so excited to try it out. After playing with the brushes and settings for HOURS yesterday, I finally sat down to paint something. I’m rusty, and never knew much about painting with watercolors, so I based this one off of a similar painting I found. I’m ecstatic to finally find a tablet app that feels and looks like the real thing!

Auryn Ink - $.99 on the Google Play Store (posting a link shortly) and I’m pretty sure it’s available on iOS too.

Three daily chores for the spirit

Put these on your to-do list for a month. Add them to your routine. These three incredibly simple chores just might change your life.

1. Do something you really love first thing in the morning

This is a very simple concept. Rather than waking up in the morning and instantly launching into a race to conquer the day, give yourself some time to do something wonderful. Choose something that fills you with joy every time you do it. There is no better way to start your day and you will thank yourself for doing it.

The first thing I do almost every morning is play a video game, usually with my husband. Obviously this isn’t for everyone, but it is one of my favorite things in the world and I am always excited to do it.

2. Find time, even just 5 minutes, to calm your mind and center your body

We all have a spare 5 minutes in our day. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, you have an extra 5 minutes hidden somewhere. Take that time to clear the chatter in your mind. Take stock of what is happening in your body and root yourself to the ground. It doesn’t have to be ritualistic or planned, you can easily do this while walking down the sidewalk or taking a shower. It might take some practice, but once you know how to do it, you will cherish this practice.

I usually allow myself much more than 5 minutes a day to do these things, through meditation, yoga, tai chi, or simple breathing and mindfulness exercises throughout the day. I have found that when I don’t make time for these things, I lose focus and feel disconnected from my body and my emotions.

3. Laugh, laugh, laugh

Let yourself laugh as often as possible. I cannot stress this one enough. Find something hilarious and just laugh at it. Recall it throughout the day and continue to laugh. Get into the habit of laughing. A lot. Laughter allows joy into the heart, and opens it up to even more joy.

This one is easy for me! My husband and I laugh with each other constantly. My cats and dogs are ridiculously funny. My kids are hilarious. If you don’t have a steady stream of laughter in your life, time to assess your situation and your relationships, and make some changes for the better.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
Lao Tzu
Protect yourself to help others

"Protect yourself and your mind from too much negativity. Not turning away from suffering doesn’t mean wallowing in the horror of it all." - Susan Moon, "Ten Practices to Change the World"

Wow, did I need this today. I spent the majority of the day yesterday trying to come up with the words to express a deep sadness that I was feeling for the women of my generation. I wanted to cry for them, and for teenage girls, and for the girls that have yet to be born. There is so much pressure to be better, prettier, thinner, smarter, cooler, funnier. There are women actually choosing to be anorexic and bulimic as a way to lose weight, and there are other women actually supporting them in this choice. There are women gushing over fictional characters that idealize abusive and controlling relationships, and thinking ‘This is the type of man I should look for.’ I was so full of sorrow for these girls. Women have enough to worry about. We are growing up in an age where image and fame are at the forefront of our minds. It results in a strange set of values, where you feel you need to be thinner than a 10 year old to be beautiful. Yesterday, this was almost all I could think about, and it was incredibly difficult to swallow.

I have always had a problem with giving too much of myself away to those that need a shoulder to lean on. As a result, many times over, I have been leaned on so hard that I crumbled. Then I retreated into myself in an effort to heal and mend my own broken pieces. I know now that I was being selfless when I wasn’t entirely ready for it. And I am learning, slowly, that it doesn’t need to be this way. I can acknowledge the suffering in this world, because how can one NOT notice it, but I don’t have to be entrenched in it. I can strive to alleviate it, without causing more suffering to myself. Compassion should be joyful, not painful.

As Joseph Campbell once said “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.”

A year past

As I was driving to work this morning, I had a realization that hit me like a ton of bricks. Tomorrow marks one year since I had surgery to remove my failed pregnancy. Time moves so fast, I almost didn’t even catch it.

I distinctly remember the doctor appointments leading up to the surgery. The fear and confusion that swept through me when I saw an empty gestational sac during my first ultrasound. I clearly remember being stoic and strong. A tiny voice in my head saying “This can’t be happening… this wouldn’t be happening.” I vividly recall the horrible explosive feeling of my appendix, two days later, threatening to burst as I tried to remain calm in the emergency room. My ER doctor was shocked (and even a hint excited) that he had a pregnant patient with appendicitus. “I’ve read about this in the textbooks in med school, but never seen it,” he said with a smile. I remember appreciating the upbeat attitude of my nurse, who consoled me with the fact that my hormone levels were perfect to sustain an early pregnancy. But, several ultrasounds later, two things were certain. My appendix was ready to burst, and there was no fetus to be found. Moments later, I was prepped for surgery and blind as a bat (I wear pretty strong corrective eye glasses), being asked if I want to have a D&C at the same time as my appendectomy. The decision had to be quick and fairly uninformed, but I said yes. If I’m going to miscarry, I want it to be over with so that I can move on and continue trying.

I’ve written extensively about it before, so I don’t need to rehash everything that happened afterward. Looking back on it, and realizing that it has been an entire year since that day, I do not feel sad or scared. I feel immensely proud. I remained strong in that hospital room. I made the right decisions for my body. I overcame the depression that followed. I overcame the fear of trying again. I used the fear and sadness and overwhelming emotions to thrust myself forward into a new level of spiritual and emotional greatness. The past year has been extremely difficult, but I have learned more about myself and my relationships because of it.

I AM a better person today because of everything I went through on July 27th, 2011. I AM stronger, happier, more confident, and more at peace because of it. I WILL BE a better mother because of it.

suddenly, i am

suddenly
washing over me,
cleansing, refreshing. calm
settles in. each step
meandering, breath
trickling, heartbeat
flowing with life.

single droplets, alone
in their journey; yet
cascading, clinging, moving, living
indefinitely united.

suddenly, i am
aware; i am
the river.

What happened?

I posted this on Google+ and feel compelled to share it everywhere. I’m searching for an answer, or just some simple insight into one of the greatest questions I have.

Every so often I ask this question and I have never found the answer. What is happening to people? In my short lifetime, I have seen a major shift from compassion, respect and courtesy for fellow man to utter selfishness and disrespect. I see it in the way people drive, having no respect for the other drivers on the road by ignoring turn signals, red lights, and speed limits. I see it in the way people work, seeking attention and praise no matter who they have to step on to get it. I see it in the way people act in hallways, elevators, on the street, and worst of all, on the internet.

Maybe I’m naive because I grew up in a small town, where everyone was a neighbor and a friend, even if they were a stranger. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a household where we were taught to love everyone and help anyone in need. And maybe that is the real reason for the shift - broken homes and children raised by day cares and television and video games. Or maybe it’s because people are retreating into themselves to avoid the pain and fear of unemployment, crippling debt, mental illness, war. Maybe it’s because our children are growing up on the internet, where anonymity can rule their actions and there is a profound lack of accountability for cyber-bullying and jackassery. Maybe it’s because religion, which used to be the backbone of morality and compassion, has warped into something that people use to justify their actions or improve their status. Everyday I see a war of religion unfold in the comment section of every post on the internet. Has it always been this way, and I’m just now seeing it?

Maybe I’m only recognizing it now because I’m an adult (that’s scary in itself). Has anyone else seen this radical change? Is it just me or the area I live in?