love is a given

What do you deserve?

Who is going to give it to you?

I grew up with those questions asked along materialistic lines. Lately, I’ve been asking myself those questions as they pertain to relationships.

Personally, I’ve experienced a lot of trauma in the form of relationships. The people who claim to care the most about me have, historically, been the most dangerous people in my life. At a certain point, something so traumatic happened to me that I chose to push the reset button on my life.

Since then, I have made dramatic changes and blossomed into a much happier version of myself. I have a lot to appreciate.

Many, many moons ago, I began asking myself what I deserved, because I felt so resentful. Resentment is often the result of not getting what feels one deserves. And, I was pretty justified in feeling resentment, but I didn’t want that feeling to define my existence.

Feeling a way that makes sense, given what you’ve been through, and choosing to not prioritize feeling that way, anymore, is a paradigm shift. And, paradigm shifts often feel painful and/or destabilizing. Because they are.

So many of us just become what we were programmed to be by the choices of others. If I look at what I was programmed to be, I see two, distinct potentials. I was programmed to be stereotypically successful in a capitalistic society. Meaning, I should be a highly paid professional right now. I had the grades and aptitude for it. But, I knew that wouldn’t make me happy. I was much more interested in justice and humanity than I was in power and control.

The other thing I was programmed to be is… broken. I was programmed to always put others first, no matter how much they abused me. I was programmed to feel ashamed of myself. I was programmed to follow the rules, even when they hurt me and others. I was programmed to accept much less while giving much more.

I was programmed for defeat.

So, how was I going to be successful and defeated? I wasn’t, unless I underwent a serious bout of narcissism. You have to develop a personality disorder to become successful materially while being broken emotionally.

Instead, I chose to live as human a life as possible. I didn’t know what I was doing, because I wasn’t raised around or by people who prioritized their humanity. But, I just kept moving in the direction that felt true for me.

I did a pretty decent job considering I didn’t know how to have healthy relationships. And, at the foundation of all human dignity is healthy relationship. Relationship with others, relationship with self, relationship with the natural world.

When I pushed the reset button on my life, I began to focus upon relationships. As a result, I gained a lot of clarity around how dysfunctional most of the people in my life were, how dysfunctional I was. Clearing up that dysfunction has been the primary focus of the past decade of my life.

I’m doing a pretty decent job considering there are so many dysfunctional people to choose from.

Since I’m highly analytical, I’ve been reading about and watching non-dysfunctional people. I’ve been studying how non-dysfunctional people make decisions and choose relationships. I’ve been understanding dysfunction in a new way. I’ve been accepting that it’s truly challenging to be non-dysfunctional in a dysfunctional society.

But, it’s definitely possible.

The more I grappled with dysfunction, the more I grappled with trauma. The more I grappled with trauma, the more I grappled with empathy. The more I grappled with empathy, the more I grappled with compassion. The more I grappled with compassion, the more I grappled with fear. The more I grappled with fear, the more I grappled with my understanding of love.

I realized that we, as a modern society, understand very little about love.

I have moved from focusing upon dysfunction and healing to focusing upon embodying love. What does that look like? When we say we love someone, what do we really mean?

I have found that the love of someone living from a traumatized mentality means very little, indeed. But the love of someone who embodies Self-love means just as little. That’s the paradox of love.

Love isn’t the thing. Love is the EVERYthing.

I think once we understand that, we start to realize that using love as an excuse to hold on when we need to let go is a lie. That’s not love. Love just is. Love has no parameters or expectations, it simply exists.

Because of that, love does not end.

Now, when I ask myself what I deserve, I think about love. “Is this the most loving version of this relationship?” If not, what do I want to do?

“Is this the most loving version of this moment?” If not, what do I want to do?

I have accepted that love doesn’t need to be given. It simply exists. So, when I ask myself what I deserve… it’s love. And, when I ask myself who is going to give it to me… it’s me. And, it’s life. And, no one needs to give it to me because it’s a given. What I’ve come to realize is that when I think I’m grappling with love, I’m really just grappling with the barriers to love.

And, sometimes, those barriers look like people. And, I choose not to grapple with people I love, anymore. If we cannot love without conflict or barriers, let us love outside of conflict and barriers.

I’ve accepted that that sometimes feels like a lack of love to the other person. But, truth is not reliant upon feelings. That’s part of the beauty of everything true.

(it is not) enough

Are you centered?

Are you grounded?

Do you know how to live a centered, grounded life?

Do you know how to become centered, grounded at will?

It is not enough to know things. Data. Scientific knowledge. These are nothing but tools. And, tools in the hands of a madman are weapons.

You were born with tools that are still relevant, regardless of what is going on in the world. You don’t need to rely upon the tools of (hu)mankind, because you have the tools of humanity.

The tools of humanity are:

radical love

curiosity

breath

movement

creativity

None of these tools can be turned against the possessor without the possessor’s permission. What we call the mind is truly curiosity. When thinking ceases being curious and remains constant in a particular direction outside of curiosity, the mind is now the mindless.

We use our creativity outside of curiosity combined with breath and radical love, and we create needless chaos.

Chaos often looks like rules. Rules that should be followed no matter what. Rules that have paradoxes built into them.

Many will tell you life, itself, is chaos. But, what evidence do we have of that? The acts of humankind are often chaotic, but humankind has moved outside of life. Humankind has sought, for many years, to control and manipulate life rather than be an example of life. That is chaos at its finest.

The idolatry of the human mind, of human thought, is the misuse of humanity’s tools and will always lead to more harm than benefit. We are not the epitome of life; therefore, our thinking is not the epitome of thought.

We idolize ourselves to our own peril.

Let us put down the tools of (hu)mankind. Those tools are:

righteousness

fear

comparison

polarity

condemnation

These are the tools (weapons) of an imperfect being striving for unattainable perfection. Radical love can assimilate any of those tools (weapons).

Because radical love is an inherently assimilating force and our human nature is radical love, we are always striving toward assimilation… even when we are allowing our humanity to be weaponized.

Assimilation is not the opposite of individualism. Assimilation as a result of radical love does not mean we all became the same. It simply means we all become one. And, since we are all one, anyway, radical love does not alter our status.

Radical love simply enhances what is already here.

Have you ever been in love with someone and they looked so very beautiful and attractive to you? But, when you were no longer in love with that person, you looked at them and wondered what you ever saw in them.

That is the power of radical love. It helps us to see the beauty all around us and enhances our powers of attraction. But, the attraction is only for everyone’s benefit. That is what healing is all about.

Radical love is the simplest antidote to idolatry.

Will you try it?

photo courtesy of Will O at unsplash

your mission, should you choose to accept it

Right now is an important time in our collective experience. This planet needs to be guided by those who are rooted in and growing in Love. There is a peace and an awareness that comes on the energy of Love, because Love is the only real truth. Love defies reason, has no explanation. Love simply is.

If you know this, if you live in this awareness, it is time to level up. It’s easy to level up in Love. Love does all the work.

Remember that you are simply a conduit in this world. You are the temple within which Love is stored and the point of storage is so that something is contained until the one storing it comes back to bring it back out, again.

Love stored is almost pointless. Love exists to spread like an invasive species. Love exists to cover and enmesh everything it touches. Love is like the most pervasive and contagious virus in existence.

But, it doesn’t make you sick. Quite the opposite. It heals everything it touches. Love is the healing vibration. Love is the awakening energy. Love is the clarifying touch. Love is truth.

Your job, as a contagious sort, full to the brim with this Love energy, is to spread Love far and wide. To fling it to the farthest reaches of the planet, of the universe, of the multiverse.

That’s your single job as a human being.

Here is a game to play, to help you realize the power of Love.

Sit quietly, holding someone else’s hands. Form a circle if there are enough of you. Everyone does the following:

Close your eyes and envision a white light coming from your heart and your mind. This white light represents Love.

Imagine that light spreading. It’s spreading within your body. Now, it’s leaking outside your body. Now, it’s surrounding your body.

Now, the light is spreading out into the space around your body. Think for a moment of everyone you’ve ever known, ever seen, even the folks you don’t remember.

See those people in your mind’s eye. See the web connecting you to them. Send the light into that web, into everyone connected to that web.

Send a message with the light: You are loved. Raise your vibration. It is time to raise your vibration and spread Love.

Hold that thinking for as long as possible or desired as a group. When you’re ready to stop, just open your eyes and go about your life.

trust is truth turned inward

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?

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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.

It happens.

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.

people ain’t ****

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.

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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?

parenting teens without breaking down

Once upon a time, I gave birth to four humans within five years, one at a time. It was a ton of fun and I completely immersed myself  in my mothering role. I loved that no day was ever the same, as I am easily bored in this life. Parenting four, young children day-in and day-out rarely bored me and I spent the time doing a lot of healing from my own childhood.

I remember standing in my kitchen when the youngest of the four was around age one and thinking to myself I cannot wait until they are teenagers! I will have four teens at the same time! I can’t wait to see what they try to get away with and what they think they know! To say that parenting was my jam would be a gross understatement.

But, then, I actually had teenagers. Continue reading

a little love

A woman set up a website and Facebook page to try to get Jon Bon Jovi to attend her Las Vegas wedding (since he’d be in town that day, anyway) and this is what happened.

This story is soooo ::squee!:: I just LOVE it!

Here’s to hoping your day is just as awesome!

progress

My #30DayLoveChallenge is going pretty well, I think. I have been catching myself when I automatically go into “I don’t wanna!” mode and purposely switched into a more pleasant mindset. When I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, rather than take a few minutes to complain about the world and list all the reasons I wanted to stay right where I was, I smiled and thought about all the reasons I love lying in my bed.

These are small shifts, but they set the tone for our days.

I made a big pot of soup yesterday and although my toddler barely ate any today, I didn’t worry about it. Yes, I have to throw food away, but at least we have food and she ate her fill.

Most of my unloving thoughts are complaints, so I’ve been working on whining less and finding the little things to be happy about.

Love is more than what we do; it’s always how we think.

I hope you are participating, too, and it’s going well for you! ❤