Tonight is a Sevdaliza kind of night. Her music defies expectation.
Tonight is a Sevdaliza kind of night. Her music defies expectation.
You can’t trust what you don’t know.
Most of us don’t know ourselves. We know what other people have told us about ourselves. We know what our families wanted from us. We know what society tells us to do. We know what our friends think about us.
But, most of us don’t know ourselves. And, you can’t trust what you don’t know.
Now, knowledge can be deceptive, so you shouldn’t believe everything you think you know. But, knowing yourself should be a pretty high life priority. You might lie to yourself about you. You probably do.
Here’s a popular lie many of us tell ourselves: I’m not a good person.
Can I tell you a secret?
You don’t have to be a good person. Being a good person is overrated. I was a good person for most of my life and folks just abused me because they were messed up and saw my goodness as something to possess. They thought close proximity to MY goodness would make THEM better somehow. It would make them acceptable. They used my goodness as a reason to tell themselves it was okay that they weren’t doing things they should have been doing.
But, if they had known how amazing they were INHERENTLY, none of that would have happened.
Being a good person is a good way to get screwed over by other people.
Lots of people realize this and they tell you that’s why you shouldn’t become a good person. But, that’s not what I’m going for here. I simply adore being a good person. It’s a lot of fun.
Just because some (lots?) of us are messed up, doesn’t mean I have to hate being a good person. I’m just stating that being a good person is not automatic insulation against the crap of other people. Crap comes. But, what do you do with it?
That’s where being a good person comes in handy. Because I’m a good person, I tend to compost it. Manure is great for gardening and I’m growing a lot of food.
Thankfully, I’ve stockpiled a lifetime of crap, so you can keep yours to yourself. But, if you’re not a good person, THAT’S OKAY.
Just do good stuff.
If you tend to do messed up stuff, doing good stuff will make you feel inordinately good about yourself and then you might stop doing crappy stuff. (This is where a good therapist can help. Changing poor habits into decent habits takes a lot of support and since you tended to do messy stuff, you might not have a lot of supportive people around you.)
But, if you’re just a normal person, doing good stuff will make you feel good and you’ll enjoy the feeling, so you’ll keep doing it. You might need to overcome laziness and the emotional bloat that comes with being too self-congratulatory, but, in the end, you’ll keep doing good stuff and you’ll find that you like yourself more.
That’s when you know you’ve tapped into the secret of all good people: Doing good feels good.
Most good people are selfish. We supremely enjoy the chemical sensations we derive from doing good and being happy. So, we strive to create lives that look and feel good and happy. Anyone can do this. It’s not a big deal. Some of us have been socialized (programmed) to be this way and some of us got this way despite how we were socialized.
It just feels good. Most people keep doing what feels good.
In my case, I derive a lot of good feeling from being logical. It makes more logical sense to be a good person than otherwise. I like feeling good, I like the people around me to feel good. Win-win. I prefer win-win situations over every other kind. Who wouldn’t?
Well, we live in a society (I’m talking about America, in particular) that says win-lose situations are not only better, but they’re really the only kind. It’s like a tradition. We get off on win-lose dynamics and we go into situations hoping we win and the other party loses.
That’s, like, our entire thing as a nation.
And, it’s self-defeating. If, by chance, we are usually winning, the other party is usually losing… which is only going to bite us in the butt in the end. Most people don’t like losing. Including us. And, if they feel they are losing too often, they start to feel badly about themselves, which causes them to stop thinking rationally. Or maybe they become hyper-rational. Anything to win!
This is how we get ALL social ills, by the way.
Hurt people hurt people. It’s a human law. A more forgettable human law among messier folks is that hurt people also help people.
You can’t know ahead of time what folks are going to do with their hurt. So, the best, most reasonable idea is to provide as little hurt as possible.
Everyone’s not a witch. Everyone can’t just snap their fingers and turn bad into good. That level of magic is easy to get to, but not everyone feels capable of getting there. Many of us simply hurl around what’s been given to us, and when we’ve been given hurt, we throw hurt around.
And, doing so just makes us feel badly about ourselves.
And, that leads to mistrusting ourselves.
Because, bad people can’t be trusted, can they? And, if you cannot trust yourself, all your relationships with other people are circumspect.
Many people think they have problems with other people, but they really have problems with themselves.
All our relationships are founded in our relationships with ourselves. If my relationship with myself is full of deception, antipathy, and fear, then all my other relationships will reflect that.
Now, I’m not promising you wonderfully amazing relationships once you clean up your relationship with yourself. People are messy. Relationships are largely unpredictable (unless you’re dealing with someone with some pretty intense personality problems). What I am promising you is this:
When your relationship with yourself is good and loving and kind, messy relationships kinda fall by the wayside. They’re not as prevalent in your life. Messy people tend to stay away from you. When the folks who like you are going through messy things, they try to keep the mess off you. (If you value the relationships, don’t let them. Let them feel what it’s like to know someone is there for them no-matter-what.)
The thing about having a good relationship with yourself is that everything feels easier. It’s not as hard to resist the desire to save other people. It’s simpler to be honest with everyone and recognize that sometimes the most honest thing to do is to shut your trap.
Everything in life just feels better when you trust yourself.
So many of us grapple with self-doubt and self-recrimination. We haven’t earned our own trust.
Today, go out and do something that shocks even you. Do something that truly leaves you open for intense scrutiny and possible condemnation, but that you know in your heart that you need to do in order to be true to yourself. Go out and do something that proves to yourself that you are your own best friend.
At the end of the day, you are the one yammering along inside your head.
You are the one keeping yourself awake with all that mercenary thinking.
You are the one feeling that intense anxiety every second of your life.
You are the one lying to yourself and telling yourself things will get better in spite of all evidence to the contrary.
You are the one refusing to walk in faith.
What is faith? Simply believing in something larger than yourself. And, folks have a difficult time doing that when they don’t even believe in themselves, yet.
Be authentic. And, when you’re not being authentic, be honest about that. Know why. Remind yourself of your inherent worth and value and goodness.
Because here’s another secret:
We’re all good. Some of us just have an easier time remembering it every day.
Yeah, I actually believe that.
Even the person who has done the most horrible things to others is actually a good person. They just got hurt. And, rather than healing they chose to keep hurting.
We’re all good. We’re not perfect, just good.
And, folks… that’s good enough. When we trust ourselves and know ourselves, we’re fine with being good.
JP always cracks me up.
Consider this today’s laughing yoga session.
i want and want and want.
and the third syllable, the one that should mitigate my wanting, my desire… the third syllable whose job it is to transform my lustful nature into one of patience,
it fails me, again.
i don’t lust after the things society tells us we all lust after.
i lust after
i don’t want the man, just his seed.
what a ridiculous term, as the true seed lies within me.
the man has, at best, a fertilizer.
a root stimulant.
he can share it with me, like the answer to a math problem.
not a particularly challenging one,
just one in which i forgot a simple formula.
he rescues me with the answer. i’m to remember the formula myself.
isn’t that the way it is?
i never lust after a man. i enjoy math and prefer the solitude in it.
i don’t want anyone giving me the answers.
i am not a cheat.
my want, my desire, my lust goes unsatisfied.
dissatisfied, more like. dissatisfied with the way everything has turned out, turns out.
om mane padme hum
it never quite obliterates the desire, that third syllable.
it never quiets my womanhood.
maybe it only works on men.
maybe it only works if you enjoy the answers more than you enjoy the formulas,
if you enjoy having more than you enjoy creating.
it never quiets my humanity.
the parts of me, the alls of me, the need for space cluttered with
soil as black as the shiniest skin.
i don’t need diamonds. society lies.
the only shine i require comes from the
skin with Kemetan ancestry and
eyes of one who delights in living.
babies are the gift we receive when we open ourselves to the mystery of life.
let me bask in the glow of a newborn,
let me become the succulent of the genus homo.
let me transform and transfer this desire into tangible means by way of
land + me + babies =
Let’s start off with the poignant reminder that people are imperfect beings capable of committing heinous acts against one another.
Some of those heinous acts have been committed against me. Maybe some against you, too. And, that was NOT OKAY.
They had no right to do that. But they did it, anyway. So, now, I’m left holding a stinking pile of poop, probably covered in it, and no way to get clean. Really, really clean. As clean as I was before it happened.
FACT: I’m not perfect, either, and I’ve hurt folks, too.
I’m not about to discuss karma. You can berate yourself on your own time. I’m going to discuss acknowledgment.
I have had most of the people who claimed to love me hurt me in unforgivable ways. Maybe you have, too. I have the right to be angry with them for the rest of my life.
But, is that fair to me?
Let’s pretend for a second that I’m a saint. I’m suffering. I’m being martyred, maybe. And, because I’m being martyred, I have the right to be royally ticked off. I mean, you’re killing me and I did nothing truly wrong. I probably just told you something about yourself you didn’t want to hear. Maybe many, many times I told you the truth about yourself and rather than listening and doing better, you decided to shut me up. Permanently. Because you’re just that messed up, you’re just that far removed from the truth.
Is my righteous anger going to save my life?
Now, sometimes anger DOES save lives. But, right now, I’m already on the pyre. You’re about to set fire to me. Anger is going to do nothing to remove my body from this abysmal situation. Once again, you have decided that hurting me is a better choice than accepting me.
My anger will do nothing to change that.
So, should I be happy, then? If you wondered that in this moment, I’d like to point out that you’re more intelligent than that. That’s an immature question. It’s an emotion-based question rather than a logical one. I want you to get out of your feelings for a moment and get into your heart.
Oh. Did you think your heart is where your feelings reside? No, sorry, friend. Your heart is the most logical place in your consciousness. Your mind is where your feelings reside, because feelings are simply thoughts. Thoughts and beliefs and stuff we’ve decided to hold onto regardless of how reasonable or unreasonable they are.
So, jump into your heart space for a second. What’s there?
Some of us can’t do this right now and that’s okay. Come back later.
Those of us who can move forward, who can take the time to gaze (with our mind’s eye or whatever technique works for us) into our heart space, let’s do that. Take as much time as you need.
So, what did you see?
Was it anger?
Was it fear?
Could you see anything, at all?
I’ve been gazing at my own heart space for a while, so I have forgotten what it feels like the first time you do this. These days, I see a blooming flower, all red and luscious. And, HUGE. When I first began, the flower wasn’t this big and didn’t take up so much room in my chest. Now, she’s ridiculously big. I can watch her open up whenever I want.
This is the truth of who we are.
We aren’t the messed up things folks did to us.
We aren’t the messed up feelings we carry around inside us.
We aren’t our anger.
Honestly, we are loving beings. The MOST loving beings! We are so full of love and compassion that it sometimes scares us because we haven’t quite learned to trust ourselves, yet.
That’s okay. We can work on that together. Learning to trust myself was the biggest Life Lesson of all, because all my life I had thought that I didn’t (or couldn’t) trust OTHER people. What I learned was that I don’t need to trust other people if I trust myself.
But, how do you do that?
It seems that mainstream Christians forget that Yeshua wasn’t a Christian. He was of the Hebrew faith. (Pretty sure he never referred to himself as a “Jew”.)
Because Yeshua’s Sabbath began on Friday evening and lasted through Saturday, it’s safe to say that Yeshua was not hanging on a cross until Sunday. If the stories we are told about being up there until the Sabbath are to be believed.
Now, there’s a lot of difference between Jesus and Yeshua, so mainstream Christians are free to do what they want. They haven’t taken vows of poverty, like one would expect from a Yeshua follower, but we have to remember… they don’t actually follow Yeshua.
Modern Christianity is, at best, the following of Paul, a reformed mass murderer.
Easter has been coopted from pre-Abrahamic religions. As has Christmas. I find it funny that Easter/Christmas Christians go to church on the most “pagan” holy-days. But then, the entire religion was coopted from ancient African belief systems, so I guess coopting old European belief systems, too, isn’t that big a deal.
Yeshua would likely be appalled to see what’s been done in his name through the ages. But, I’d just remind him that it hasn’t really been in his name. It’s been done in Jesus’s name.
I wonder if that would make a difference to him.
All my life, I thought I was living my own story. But…
What happens when I realize I’m actually living God’s story?
A few realizations come out of this Great Realization. First of all, I finally accept that none of this is mine to hold.
This weight I’ve been carrying around? It’s not even mine! I can give it to whom it truly belongs. Now, I’m free. This isn’t even my story.
This guilt, this envy, this misunderstanding? I can put it all down. It’s not even mine, because… this isn’t even my story.
This story I call myself living belongs to no one but The Most High. I’m simply the vessel, the temple, the one sitting in the throne.
People often misunderstand what thrones are. They think thrones are the seat of power, but thrones ARE the power. This comes from a long history of worship of The Feminine Divine, actually.
She was the throne, and who ever sat in Her was in power because Her power now coursed through them. This is how the concept of kings came about. The men wanted to possess the power that had previously only belonged to women.
We see the remnants of this in the Hebrew faith and we see a reclaiming of this in Yeshua’s life. So much attention is given to His presumably male disciples, but he was taken care of (monetarily, spiritually, physically, etc.) by the women. It was the women who made His ministry possible and He acknowledged them and blessed them continuously.
When I think of my life, how do I fit into that story?
One reason I do not claim to be Christian is because I don’t claim the limitations of Christianity. I follow The Way, not Christianity. The Way is the story of God; Christianity is the story of men. (Problematic men, if we’re honest. )
My story could be the story of men, too. But, when I awaken from a dream and God tells me to “rise”, I know there is more to my story than that of men. My story is of The Creator, not the creation.
So, what men have done must not be my story.
The love, passion, and freedom I embody when I realize this life is not my story is incredible. I encourage you to try it yourself. Acknowledge that this isn’t your story and see what happens.
Acknowledge that you aren’t writing this story. Acknowledge that you aren’t in control of your life. Acknowledge that you aren’t the origin of your life.
And get to know Who is.
This is The Way. The only way.
Religion. It’s a full sentence, and I mean that in a couple ways.
I am descended from deeply spiritual people who were forced into a bad version of Christianity. I don’t think most people with certain Indigenous or African roots realize how deeply spiritual their ancestors were.
Sometimes, when I pray, my ancestors push into me and I start dancing and chanting and it never wants to end. Never.
I know my ancestors spent hours upon hours in reverent dancing and chanting… real worship. When it pushes into me, I can see them dancing. Dancing with the trees, dancing with one another.
The women. Do you know how much endurance they had?
If you’ve studied American slavery, you must have some idea. What other peoples, than African peoples, could have endured that level of torture and still built families and cultures?
None. This is a fact, not a desire to glorify those who were vilified by European Americans.
Africans weren’t the first attempt at American slavery. My Indigenous Cherokee ancestors were used beforehand. They died, they ran off, they rescued their people. This was their home and the trees were thick and on their side. And, they could not keep up with that level of monstrosity. They could not endure.
Bringing Africans here and using them was strategic. They knew the plants, they were physically larger and stronger, they were masters of so many skills. Entire civilizations of the type admired by Europeans had been built by them. European knowledge had come from them. Africa just worked better as the foundation for a new country.
Who else has that level of strength, power, and endurance?
Sometimes, I imagine what America would look like if those of us who descend from African ancestors threw off the yoke of Abrahamic religion.
I see a lot of dancing.
This world praises us for dancing and singing in the name of capitalism. Imagine if we did it only in the name of Source.
I dance and chant and hear the drumming.
I’ve heard true drumming in California, but mainly in my bedroom. The ancestral drumming that entrances you and keeps you moving. The drumming that shapes your body’s movements, so that the energy released by the drum finds companionship in your legs, hips, arms, and legs. They are in harmony.
This kind of drumming and dancing helps you understand a basic truth about life: though the energy manifests in different methods, it is the same energy.
With my ancestors, males come through as well as females. I know what it means to say we are all one.
And, yet, the variety in our representation… this is beautiful and extremely significant.
Just as Source is multifaceted, so are we. Of course. Because we are merely (and significantly) representations of Source.
3 persons in 1.
1000s of names.
All represent the same energy. And people get so caught up in their beliefs, the face they’ve given Source, that they miss that they are surrounded by all the other faces of Source.
Yeshua said to love your neighbor as yourself because your neighbor is yourself. To think you can separate the colors the prism creates just because you have a preference for certain colors is not only ignorant, but dangerous.
I often wonder how many religious people know how dangerous and inherently violent they are, simply because of the beliefs they embody.
Your beliefs can turn you into a sword. And because your belief system is so messed up, you’ll convince yourself it’s good to be a sword.
This is the inherent danger of religion.
But when the dance takes over…
Have you ever known someone who has been in therapy for many years and still seems stuck on the same pain?
I have found that the desire to hold onto pain is often much greater than the desire to relinquish it. This is often due to fear. Who am I without this thought? How will I keep myself safe if I don’t behave this way? This is often due to confusion. I want to change, but I really don’t understand what you mean when you say I don’t have to live this way. This is often due to a true inability to move beyond what happened. I have to remain vigilant or it will happen, again. When you talk to me like that, I feel it all over, again.
The number one roadblock to healing is the way we have set up society.
When people have to worry about where their next meal is coming from or how they can keep a roof over their heads, it’s challenging to really dig into the work of healing. Luckily, I get little reminders of that sometimes. I will be happily trucking along and I slam up against communal rage and pain. I’ll forget to keep myself in my protective bubble and I’ll start taking on the dominant feelings around me. Lately, those feelings have been rage and depression and deep, deep grief.
When the world cries, I cry with her.
The other day, I was lost to despair and I felt annoyed by it. I used to be happy. What had happened to me?
Connection had happened to me. I am connected to all of us and so many of us are in pain. Who am I to remove myself? We are all one, whether we realize it or not.
One day, as I sat asking myself what was truly happening within me, I realized that this grief and depression that felt so heavy and real was not even mine. In my moment of deep questioning and close observation, I was able to shake free of the glum feelings that had overtaken me. I remembered who I really was.
Sometimes, I find myself pondering how I would be different if I had never known grief. Would I be able to do this work? Can someone who has never suffered assist someone else as they feel around in the darkness of their mind? Someone who has never experienced tragedy cannot know what to do to move beyond it and stay there. This is probably why so many people who have experienced deep sorrow and trauma become therapists and healers.
The trouble comes when someone who has not also known bliss is trying to guide someone out of their personal darkness. If you have not genuinely experienced the light, if you have not found it from a variety of littered paths, how do you know you’re actually helping the other person?
In 2011, I renewed my vow to be of service to humanity, because I knew that it’s easier for people to take your hand when they know you are with them. This is a tricky tendency among the wounded: they rarely trust those who have healed. They can’t relate. Even if they say they want a guru, they will find the one with the most troublesome past to overlook, the most nebulous life to look into.
We fall in love with who we are in others. No matter how that looks.
I am no stranger to the abyss and I am thankful for the occasional reminders of just how deep and dark it is, lest I begin to romanticize healing.
But once you know the way out, you only go there to help others find their way out. We each become Harriet Tubman on the Underground Railroad to our personal freedoms, returning many times to help all those who also realize they are ensnared.
May it always be so.