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Saturday, December 31, 2011

There Are No Magic Shoes: Happy New Year

As we all ring in the New Year in our own ways, I feel that it is important to remember the significance of beginnings and endings. There is something pretty miraculous that happens every year around the world on December 30th. The ability to feel as though you're starting over with a clean slate can inspire people to take in their environment with eyes that see possibility. The reality, however, is that it is just one day ending to allow another to begin. January 1st may be the first day of 2012 but it is also just another Sunday like so many that have come before it. What makes this one day so much more special and notable than any of the others? Your answer It is your perception of this day that makes it what it is.....a new beginning, a fresh start. A day for resolutions and promises and change. Without your deliberate effort tomorrow is just another Sunday. It is important to note that the day itself possesses no magical powers. It does not have the ability to make your dreams come true, to help you lose weight, or to give you the strength to employ more patience and forgiveness. January 1st does not care who you kiss at midnight, what you wear, or whose company you keep. This is because January 1st is simply one more Sunday in a year littered with them.

Sprinkled with that special New Year's dust we all feel a little bit more powerful, a little bit more optimistic, and a little bit more excited about these wonderful lives we have been gifted with to do with as we please. What is sad is that the dust wears off the further we venture into the year. Twelve Sundays from now, most will have shrunken their optimistic enthusiasm for the future. Resolutions will be broken and we will begin to seek the comfort of the walls of our habits which have shielded us from our innermost desires. Sunday becomes just another day of the week and we become exactly what we began as, people who want more but don't seek it.

Now before you go and get all depressed take this into consideration, if January 1st is just another day and if the only thing that makes it so special is you then why can't everyday be seen as a new beginning? Why can't each day be greeted with as much gusto and viewed with as much optimism and excitement? If you are the magic that makes New Year's Eve so amazing then why can't that same magic be employed 365 days a year? Perspective is what makes your life what it is. Every morning is a clean slate, a fresh start, and an opportunity to see your life for it's many possibilities. So here is my challenge to you as you celebrate the beginning of a New Year; have fun, be safe, and never forget that you are the only catalyst necessary to living the life you dream of. You are the wizard, there are no magic shoes and there are no magic days. Every tool you need to find success and happiness has been woven into the fabric of your being. All you have to do is believe in the existence of the profound and endless possibilities that lay before you and then make a conscious effort to reach your arms out and welcome them into everyday. So happy New Year, happy January through December, and Happy lives to you all.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

You Are A Soldier: Failure and Success

Some people spend their entire lives inside of a shell of fear. There are many things they desire but don't seek simply because the idea of failure looms so heavily that the reward of success seems impossible. While this may be safe and predictable it sure doesn't help anybody acheive their goals. Reaching for things may end with burnt fingertips but not reaching for them always ends with nothing. Even when you don't win whatever prize you are after you must remember that it is our wounds that teach us how to be better fighters, how to build stronger armour, how to swim faster and jump higher. Those failures aren't actually failures at all. Failures are what we use to sharpen our blade so that when that same foe presents itself again we are more prepared.  After all, how can we ever know what we are capable of if we never go for it?

If you look into the mirror everyday and see the same person staring back at you then you are not taking enough risks. We are all soldiers on the battlefield of life. Each lesson learned, each new piece of information retained, every victory, every failure is another badge added to the very fabric of us. No great thing was ever accomplished accidentally. You must learn to be proactive and seek with as much fervency as you yearn with. When you look at yourself in the mirror stand proud of the badges you've earned...every single one of them. With everyday and every chance you take you are building an even better version of yourself. You must make the choice as a soldier on life's battlefield, to never stop pursuing your best because if you don't then your best will never find you. And if you fall short of your goals, use the experience to build a taller ladder.  You are the answer to your own questions. You are the secret to your own success.  Let life in, it is not a spectator sport.  Nobody ever scored a touchdown from the bleachers.  Now go take some chances. Don't be just a a lieutenant, be a five star general.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Break Ups: Being the Dumped

   Whenever a relationship ends people become consumed with what I call Columbo syndrome.  They want to understand the whys and hows.  Instead of choosing to accept their new reality, they get sucked in by the need to understand the other person's choices, thinking that maybe there is still some way of rectifying the situation.  People wonder, "Why did they break up with me when things were going so well?"  Well there's the short answer and the long answer and in a completely unexpected turn of events (this is sarcasm by the way) I will offer you both. The short answer, of course, is that obviously things weren't going as well as you thought. I mean this isn't a Danielle Steele novel people don't generally end relationships that they are happy in. As the song says breaking up is hard to do, for most people (sociopaths are excluded from this generalization) and that is because there is usually one person who wants to leave and another who doesn't. I've been on both sides of this scenario and I can tell you in my experience that it's no bed of roses for either party.

    One of the wrong turns I feel that most people make is that they dedicate so much energy to rationalizing another person's decisions. Well here's your wake up call: You can't know why someone else does the crap they do, so knock it off! I mean really how many falsities have you yourself told someone else? As an example let's toss out a few examples and maybe the memories of your own sugar coating will start flooding back. "I am late for work because _______." "I wanted to be there but ________." "I really love your haircut (not!) where did you get it done?" The truth is that our desire to be kind or to appear (fill in with a grand adjective that desribes what you aspire to viewed as) puts us in a place of dishonesty on a daily basis. The caviat is that the people around us are no different. We get to have our secrets and they get to have theirs. It's a lot easier to say "my feelings for you have changed and I just want to be friends" than it is to say "you irritate the piss out of me and if I continue living with you I may just drive myself off of a cliff."

    So to answer the question, or to circumvent the question entirely, I will say I don't know why they broke up with you but I'm sure they have their reasons. One thing is certain if they intended to tell you those reasons then they already would have. Chances are they weren't completely honest about their reasons because they didn't want to hurt your feelings which means that they care how you feel. That's a good thing! Now don't go getting some unhealthy idea that this former mate cares about your feelings so they must still want to be with you. Expressing a consideration for someone else is not code for "you're the love of my life." If you push too much the real reasons behind your split will come out and you are probably better off for not knowing them. Just accept the fact that the relationship is over and that you don't need to know why. If the other person wanted to work on things and repair the relationship then they would have given you the opportunity to do so.  Instead they ended things so what's the point in dwelling?

Will I ever Be Happy? Life: A Ninja Around The Bend

     Nope...never! You will always be miserable and lonely and bitter. That's what life is all about you know, suffering. Suffering is all there is. Not!  Of course you can be happy. Sometimes the trick to finding answers is to realize that you are asking the wrong questions. How about this one: What can I do to make myself happy? Now that's one worth pondering. If you take life in like it's an enemy force of ninjas with the soul purpose of "getting" you then chances are you are going to feel shitty a lot of the time. It's hard to look ahead and smile when you're constantly waiting for calamity to rear it's head. Worry is the enemy of happiness. Waiting for the bottom to fall out is so time consuming and energy draining.

    Some people find it easier to look for the bad in things. They like to dress it up in fancy ball gowns and make it look nice by calling it stuff like "being prepared" or "weighing the consequences." But the joke's on them. There are always bad things to be found so congratulations on your successful endeavor. It doesn't take a super genius to see that there are bad things everywhere. Things to be sad and angry about are plentiful, and there isn't a shortage coming. What people fail to recognize is that the bad things are gonna be there whether you're "prepared" or not. Your constant, self destructive paranoia of the bad things doesn't protect you against them it just consumes your time and thoughts.

    Sure taking the blissful road and focusing on the good stuff out there has consequences. You might be riding your bike in the sunshine through a meadow of good thoughts, looking ahead at the awesome grandure of your possibilities and hit a pot hole. You may be flung off of your bike and break your arm as your body slams into a huge boulder that you hadn't noticed before ( because you were looking forward and not to the side or behind you searching for potential doom.) What rocks though is that when the bad thing (read pothole that knocks you on your ass) comes as a surprise you are more likely to handle it well. Your mind is brimming with positivity so it is harder to sink you in a pit of depression and uselessness. Positivity keeps you afloat, it makes you a problem solver. Instead of sitting on the ground crying about your injury and asking yourself, "Why does this always happen to me?" You stand yourself up, get back on the bike and pedal your ass to a hospital, one handed so you can get a cast on that wound and move on with your day. If you are so busy boo hooing your way through life and expecting the worst then when the worst shows up you'll probably just drown in it. But I hear that a good attitude makes for a really useful life raft....just saying.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Life Is An Ocean: Float or Splash?

    A human life is a timeline which, even in it's most basic form, cannot be defined with any certainty.  Any person cannot know where the ripples of their existence begin or end.  The choices we make directly correlate to the size of those ripples so, removing any spirituality from the equation, a person has the ability to create ripples that linger on for many, many years after their passing.  People in history, like Martin Luther King Jr. for instance, created such enormous ripples, waves really, that they may have very well earned themselves immortality.  An abusive parent may die but the ripples of their choices and actions may live on in their children for substantial amounts of time and may even be passed down generations.

    If you consider life in this way, as though it is an ocean, you can begin to miagine the ripple as you dip your toe in and the increase in size as you flail about in the midst of some unexpected calamity.  On the other end of the spectrum, ripples created as a measure of compassion may be what it takes to push a plank of wood towards a stranger who would have otherwise drown.
    For some, there are no ripples made.  They float comfortably along on sailboats, moved only by brisk and uncontrollable winds.  They never learn how to swim life's ocean.  Their bodies never feel the cold surprise of the water that surrounds them.  There are others whomake small ripples.  The kind which reach out tiny, metphorical arms to grab at things that exist just barely beyond their reach.
    And then there are the splashers, the ones whose movements can be felt from miles away.  Every splash made with the knowledge that at any moment a shark may pull them under or they may swallow too much water.  The splashers have courage.  They choose to participate in their lives, even if at times it is to their own detriment.  Splashers may not always wind up in the history books but generally live lives full of excitement, passion, and ambition.  They always know their capabilities because they do not harbor questions, they seek out answers. 
    So as you drift along on the ocean of life, ask yourself...have you ever welcomed the icy fingers of the water?  What size are the ripples you're making?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wrinkles and Love Addicts: Your Internal Pharmacy

       The things we say and do in life become grand gestures of our innermost goodness or representations of the ugliness we harbor and lock away.  Regardless which side of this you spend most of your time dwelling on the important thing to realize is that, though every moment of our lives is valuable, moments themselves are fleeting.  What lingers on with us is not the moment but the emotion we felt from that moment.  Feelings, you see, are what compose us, not moments.  So do we have a choice in our emotion?  Do we get to choose which emotions we hang onto?  This is a tricky question as it seems as though emotion is more like an act of God, uncontrollable and unpredictable.  The good news is that emotion is also a habit.  Just like everything else.  Our emotions are slaves to our thoughts and, in turn, we are slaves to our emotions.  So, it would appear that we have circled back into choice of thought patterns. 
       All any emotion is is a combination of chemicals released into your nervous system by the hypothalamus gland.  Not only does this gland's chemicals control emotion, but also hunger, thirst, balance, etc.  In extreme cases, that gland releases too much or too little of a certain chemical and medication is the only way to rectify the imbalance.  But for most people a simple choice in thought can reprogram the hypothalamus to release different combinations of chemicals.  The hypothalamus is like our own, internal drug dealer.  We think and it creates a batch of "stuff" suited to our thoughts.  Then it sends that batch out into our bloodstream where it hunts for cells to infect.  If you've ever known a drug addict then you know that after awhile they need more and more and more of the drug to get the desired affect.  Our cells are similar, they become addicts to chemicals and crave more of certain ones.  We are all addicted to different emotions, our cells screaming at us from the inside out for the chemicals we have gotten them addicted to based on our thoughts.  This is one of the reasons that so many scientists say that stress causes aging.  Stress is an overload of chemicals and those chemicals are bombarding your cells.  This bombardment eventually damages the cells ability to take in important proteins and amino acids which in turn begins to affect health.  With these unhealthy cells dwelling around inside of you, your skin loses elasticity at rapid rates and before you know it you look haggard.  One more example of why healthy thought patterns are so important.
      It's like that pendulum swing of love.  While you're in it, you're glowing, you feel energized, healthier even.  But then, when it's over, you can feel physically ill, tired, and miserable.  Ever wonder why that is?  It is because the person feeling love is merely getting an excess of a happy chemical from their hypothalamus gland.  So when "love" dies, people are almost like addicts having withdrawals from the chemical which they had become so accustomed to feeling in their bloodstream.  
     The good news is that emotions aren't bad, they just are.  They are present in every function of the body from digestion to sleep cycles.  Once those chemicals are released into our bloodstream they dock onto cells and can even change the cells nucleus to a degree.  In order to maintain health, in order to live at our fullest potential we must first recognize the way we are affecting our reality.  Thought, perception creates emotion and emotion creates us.  What are you cooking up in your internal pharmacy?  Who will you be today?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Power of Thought: Boners and Bad Days

We've all heard the many cliched is what you make it, believe and you'll receive or my personal favorite by Buhddha, "We are what we think," but do we really see them as true? People have been studying the brain ever since they realized that we have a brain and still amidst all of the technological advances and amazing discoveries we haven't come close to understanding the way our brains work fully. The power of thought has been pondered and argued about for generations. Books like "The Secret," make claims that we attract both negative and positive elements into our lives by merely thinking of them. Just the idea that something as fundamental as thought could affect our lives so dramatically is almost impossible to imagine. Almost but not entirely. Science is at work all of the time to develop a mastery of the world, the universe, and the unknown. The studies we hear about are generally those dealing with illness, disease and the environment but there are countless other experiments occuring all over the world that rarely make headlines.

One experiment of particular interest here was done by a japanese water scientist named Masaru Emoto. Using a high powered microscope and really fancy photography equipment he tried to prove the power of thought by using the most manipulatable of the elements, water. In one set of experiments he exposed water to different kinds of music and in another he taped written phrases to cups of water and left them out overnight. The results were astounding. After countless experiments he was able to prove that the direction of positive or negative thought and intention actually changed the appearance of the water molecules.
The phrase taped to this water was "You make me sick."

The phrase taped to this water was ""Love and Gratitude" 

Taking into consideration that our planet is composed mostly of water and so are our bodies, if thoughts can do that to water what do we do to ourselves and our world with our negative thoughts?
In another experiment done in 1993 in Washington D.C. four thousand randomly chosen participants over a period of two months were able to decrease the occurence of violent crimes in D.C. by 24%simply through meditation. It sounds astonishing and unbelievable but google it. It is real. They even brought in statistical analysts to determine the probability of a random decrease in crime in that particular interval during the study. The chances of that they found to be two in one billion. Pretty amazing what thoughts can do, isn't it?

If scientific experiments don't convince you then let's go at this another way. The thoughts we have on a daily basis do affect us physically and mentally. One blatant piece of proof is a boner. Men can get a boner without having any physical interaction. Most of the time it is their thoughts that create a hard on. It seems odd to jump from science to hard ons but this is an undeniable truth.  Thoughts can make things happen.  Thought isn't just a part of us......we are thought, it makes us who we are. Our thoughts are all encompassing, we are creatures of thought and our lives are the products of the choices we make based on our thoughts. If one negative thought directed at water can change a water molecule's shape so dramatically in one night without so much as a touch, then why is it so hard to believe that we can create our world based on what we think?

The world is a wave of possibility, if we can think of it then it can be real. It is our thoughts that restrain us. Internal chains are what keep us because external influences are only as real as the thoughts that give them the power to be. It is our beliefs that seperate what is from what isn't. What we believe in is paramount to what kind of lives we live. Belief, faith is just a choice in thought pattern. If we can make something as extraordinary and amazing as God a reality in our minds, if we can change water at it's most basic form with thought, if collective positivity can alter the course of crime in a densely populated metropolis, then what else can our thoughts accomplish?  Imagine the possibilities!  If thoughts are infinitely powerful then couldn't it also be said that we ourselves are equally as powerful?  If our thoughts are choosing our environment, if we are carelessly creating our world by not making the choice to acknowledge our part in it's construction, then why not try to take a more proactive stance?  Try to master your thoughts, to focus the positive ones and abandon the negative ones, if only to prove this theory wrong.  This puts the responsibility of your joys and sorrows back into your hands where it should be. What is real and what isn't? That is the ultimate question. But if you accept your world as it is and don't seek more then the more you desire but don't reach for will never find you. Energy exists all around us and within us, floating around like a swirl of endless fireflies until a thought manifests it as an action or a word or a smile. What will your thoughts manifest today?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mastering Anger: A Shotgun in A Room of Chandeliers

Anger is like fire in a paper mill, it can consume you so quickly that you don't even realize what is happening until you are a pile of ash. People battle anger daily and a lot of times they lose. Even though in the moment it feels like a boiling cauldron whose overflow cannot be denied there are ways to master your anger. Some say you should count to ten, some say to hit a pillow but these methods don't seem to be as effective as some might hope. I like the analogy of the angel and the devil on either shoulder. We all have one of each and we all decide which one to listen to. It is a constant struggle because what is good in us sometimes sounds like a whisper compared to the incessant screaming of our more negative sides. When anger wins out over patience we can hear that voice in our head saying, "what am I doing?" That voice is what I call your true self. It is who you are at the core and who you fight to protect everyday from what is damaging and negative in the world.

Anger is one of the ninjas we employ to battle for us when our better half feels unable to meet the challenge. Most of us try patience first. We try to reason and communicate. That is our true self trying be a problem solver. When it doesn't work we call in the artillery. Our anger is a coping mechanism and it can be very effective at conveying our ideas. People listen when you are angry and screaming, just not for the right reasons. Picture a room with a really high ceiling, full of hanging chandeliers. Above one of the chandeliers there is a light switch on the ceiling. This light switch when turned on fills the room with the most beautiful feeling of peace. We want to turn on the switch because we want to feel the peace it will bring but the ceiling is too high. We try to use a ladder but the switch is still just beyond our reach. We begin to try other methods but every time we are close to touching it, the chandeliers are too thick and our fingers can't fit through the spaces between them. So we run out of options, or so it seems and we go and get a gun. That gun is our anger. We begin to shoot the chandeliers until none remain. All we want is to flip that switch and fill the room with peace and we are willing to do anything to make sure it happens. Once we have destroyed everything in our way we climb up and try to find the switch but then we realize that we have destroyed all of the lights and the room is dark. Now we can't see the switch and we are stuck in a dark room covered with broken glass. In the aftermath of an angry outburst we find ourselves even farther away from our goal of peace and walking around in the dark, cutting our feet on the broken glass of our hateful words. That is what anger does, it destroys. Anger has one goal and it is blind to all else but that one goal. Anger wants only to be heard. It doesn't care about the feelings of others. It doesn't care about property or image or even someone else's safety.

If you think of your anger as a seperate entity it will help you fight against it. After all, at the close of a rampage you feel just as bad as whoever was at the recieving end of you rage. This is because the things that were said and done weren't said and done by you but by your anger. You, too, are at fault of course for affording it the power to act.  You have seen what anger can do and even knowing this you still let it hold the gun and pull the trigger so you feel guilt and remorse. You see, once you allow it to be in control you become an observer, chained in a corner and helpless. You have quit and given your hands and your mouth away to be used in ugly ways. It is true once you have given anger the power to act it is hard to stop it. But what you must remember is that anger needs your consent. When you feel your anger beginning to rear it's head think of it as a possession. You are being taken over. You are giving the controls away to a thing who does not have your best interest in mind. You must say to yourself, "I am in charge of me." You have to fight to keep your hands on the steering wheel, don't relinquish your power. You have to make the choice to be the driver. If you allow anger to drive, you are the one who suffers the injuries of an imminent collision. You are the one left to clean up the mess. You have to learn to admit that you are losing control. You need to learn to visualize your hands slipping from the wheel and you need to learn to maintain your grip. If for you that means walking away or asking for time to think then that is what you do. In any case you must make a choice to never allow anger to use your mouth or your hands. Take back your power. Clutch that steering wheel as tightly as you can and never let it go.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks: Synapses and Decision Making

Have you ever had a moment where you are frantically searching for something, your keys for instance, and then eventually find it in an obvious place that you had already looked in? You wonder on these occasions how it is possible that you didn't see it the first time you looked. The reason is that the first time you looked, your keys simply weren't there. Sometimes when we are looking at something we aren't actually seeing it, we are remembering it. Your brain is really busy and because of this, fails sometimes to process new information. Physics is the study of matter and energy and their relationship with each other. Some physicists believe that most of what we think we see is really just our brain sending us a memory of what we've seen before. What this means is that to truly view something as new we must pause and focus on seeing it. This is why we couldn't see our lost keys. When we were looking for them our brain sent us a memory of the spot we were looking in and in that memory our keys weren't there. It's like sitting at a stop sign and when you looked for traffic, you saw none. But then when you pull out into the street suddenly there's a car there that you hadn't noticed before. You weren't actually seeing the intersection, your brain was assuming.

We become accustomed to living so quickly, to moving at such a fast pace that we don't actually consume what is in front of us. Science by way of physics has proven this. When you ask yourself the question, "How did I miss that when it was right in front of me," you are acknowledging the idea that the connections made by your nervous system have become habitual. For instance, why do we feel physical pain? It is because when we cut our skin or touch something hot our nerve endings are built to send the message to our brain that we are hurt. When you go to the dentist and they numb your mouth, what they are doing is impairing the ability of those nerve endings to send that message which means that the brain isn't able to tell us that we are hurt. When the medication wears off and your nerve endings "wake up" what we feel is the aftermath, the wound but not the initial injury. We can't feel the initial injury because our nerve endings were sleeping when it occured and are therefore completely unaware of it. We spend the first years of lives building more synapses or connections in our brains than any other time in our lives. A three year old actually has twice as many connections as an adult. From age ten to twenty, trillions of extra connections are eliminated. The connections that have been used consistently have become stronger and stay; those that have not been used often enough do not. If two children fall down in exactly the same way at the same time one may cry hysterically while the other just stands up and dusts off their knees. It's not because one child is hurt more than the other, it is because their environment has helped them form synapses that tell their nerve endings to tell their brain that they are more hurt. The point I'm making is that the way we react to life is based on the connections our brain has been building since birth. All of the cells in our brain have the potential to form a connection but only the connections which are used remain. It is survival of the fittest.

The phrase "practice makes perfect" takes on a whole new meaning. Since our nervous system dictates our reactions to stimuli based on the connections or synapses that are there then how do we change something in ourselves? Are we powerless against these habits? As adults we are forming connections too, just less frequently. Learning a new skill forms a connection, learning a language. Habitual decision making reinforces connections and branching out and trying new things forms new connections. What you must do is to realize that your brain is never in a static, permanent state. It changes everyday based on the choices you do or do not make. You are creating pathways everyday which determine how you are projected onto the world. Make conscious decisions don't live based on presumed circumstances, don't let habitual connections determine how you consume your environment. Open your eyes, make a choice to really see what you're looking at. Retrain your brain and open the gate to your endless possibility.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Congratulations.....You Are An Author!

Our history is weaved with stories. Stories which are true and even those which are not can offer many benefits including wisdom, entertainment, and education. Stories of strong leaders give us a desire to pursue inner fortitude, stories of injustice inspire us to rise in the face of adversity, and stories of everyday heroes show us that sacrifice is indeed the greatest gift of all. We look upon these stories through eyes of wonder, almost enchanted by the lives led by others. We watch movies and are captivated by the threads that hold the characters' lives together. We hear of triumphs and disasters on the news and we are truly moved by them. That is our heart. We feel these stories because their characters are human like us. We sympathize with them through their struggles and victories. There are people in history who have changed the faces of government, industry, and compassion and we are the living proof of their successes and failures. Human beings are enthralled by stories because we know how important they can be.

What we sometimes forget though, as we're taken in by all of the stories around us(our family's individual stories, the stories of celebrities, the stories of our neighbors) is that we are also authors. Each morning we wake up with a pen in our hand. We are all writers. The pages we write may never be read but they are written all the same, added to daily. What if those pages were tangible and you could hold them in your hand and read them? What if you could could read your own story cover to cover without bias? Would you praise the main character's decisions? What if your story were a movie? What kind of a movie would it be? Were you watching it would you be laughing, crying or cursing at the television? This is food for thought because if there are parts of the story you aren't fond of you are the only one who can change them. You are the author. You decide were the twists will be.

When you wake up in the morning, remember the pen in your hand. Choose carefully what you write with it because there is no eraser. Remove your habits and hurts and write yourself as a character with possibility and optimism. Craft a story that will warm hearts, comfort pain, and inspire. Make your story a story that others will tell to impart wisdom or entertainment or education. There are many more blank pages to fill. Fill them with something amazing!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Fortress

A fortress grows around our hearts
Inside it's walls our hurting starts
The parts of us we keep within
Keep the bricks from caving in
With longing then we forward move
With bitterness and things to prove
So on we walk for miles and miles
And navigate through tears and smiles
Calling out for truth and love
For what we have is not enough
Begging from inside our shells
To fill a space that can't be filled
For what is true and what is real
Is one can't touch what we conceal
For we have built this fortress strong
To shelter us from any wrong
And if we want for something more
We know we must open the door
Once we open soon we see
What's been hidden, now set free
And brick by brick our fortess falls
With nothing there to hold it's walls
Our hearts exposed can feel the air
The sun, the rain and all that's there
The beautiful machine they are
No force can truly break a heart
With patience time heals every wound
But opening doors, that's up to you

Empathy and Selfishness

Almost every problem people have in their relationships can be traced back to feelings of being unloved, underappreciated, or misunderstood. This is because people, for the most part, only pretend to be in relationships. A relationship, you see, should come with an assumed and insurmountable degree of empathy. Selfish is, instead, the third and invisible member of most relationships. We don't realize it because we push those thoughts away in the interest of portraying the image of ourselves we wish for other people to see. We may not care to admit our selfishness, our actions may in fact speak to a more gracious and giving nature, but thought, though easily hidden, cannot be denied. Selfish thoughts live inside all of us and are most often kept at bay, sacrificed for a more "acceptable" and considerate way of living.

It is the distance between what we say and what we actually feel that determines the emotional state of our relationships. I am not saying that we should all be selfish and fight for every miniscule idea that presents itself. It is the lack of honesty and empathy that makes our selfish nature ugly, not the selfish nature itself. It is nothing to be ashamed of, we were built this way. It is the way we were made. Most of us see a situation, a person, an act and first think of our feelings and how it affects us and then second we introduce everyone else into our thinking. Whether you choose to admit it or not that is the truth. We rarely act on these inclinations, taking the high road, choosing others best interests instead but that doesn't make our thought processes any less real.

Selfish is the birthplace of bitter, angry, and depressed. Negative emotions are what happen when we finally reach a breaking point. This usually happens when our outward giving nature doesn't reap us the rewards we seek and any suppressed, self serving thoughts come to the surface. We don't want to hurt anyone and we certainly don't want to tarnish the way we are viewed. Our apologies after the storm are sincere. But we will continue having to make them if we don't recognize the simple truth. We are selfish just like everyone else. Every single person on the planet harbors selfish thoughts. When they make us feel unloved or unappreciated or misunderstood, they are simply acting out the same internal battle we all are fighting.

Empathy is the key to ending that battle. Understanding that we are all trying. We can understand our own thought processes easily because we know what they are born from. We know where they begin because we have walked with them for our entire lives. When we apologize and our sincerity is shunned we long for understanding that other people can't always give. What we need to do is to stop relying on our relationships to give us the lift we desire. We need to accept the fact that the flaws in others that hurt us are flaws we all share. It isn't a personal attack when we are hurt by those we love. It is a simple, outward expression of the internal battle we all fight to remain good in spite of our respective selfish natures. Our love for others is constantly put on trial in the midst of the many mistakes we make, but even when doubt surrounds us we know our own hearts and the truth of the love we feel. Before you put someone else's love on trial, remember that they are just like you, flawed and fighting.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Emotional Habit

There are many positive ways to change your life but in order to guarantee that the change is permanent you have to take an honest and sometimes brutal inventory of your negative emotional habits and the choice patterns that have led you to were you are. And second you must make a conscious decision to create healthier reactions in yourself. Remove judgement (of yourself and others), quell the need for outside approval, and take back ownership of your life. Once you've done this, the people around you will no longer stake a claim in your stress, your happiness, or your decision making. Their woes and triumphs will be theirs and yours will be yours. This does not mean that you should stop caring about others. It simply means to stop being consumed by what you can not control. The first step to ownership of your life is accepting that it is yours and only yours. That is freedom. That is where you find content.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to Fail

Do not be the one who loves with all you have inside
Do not be a worthy friend, never truth confide
Live forever in a shell and always looking out
Upon the things that others need but you choose to live without
Always lie and always steal, never show remorse
Be certain to burn every bridge and close every door
Make sure your words are weapons, be certain they cut deep
Never give forgiveness, never secrets keep
Look upon the world and judge, take all that you can get
Never think you have enough and never be content
Always wear two faces, be petty, cruel and trite
Never smile, do not be kind, make everything a fight
Be afraid and live in fear of everything you see
Do these things if suffering alone is what you seek

Believing in Fairies: The Possibility of Possibility

Perfection does not exist and most people are willing to accept this yet still don't find it wildly unreasonable to aspire to perfection and then punish themselves for not attaining it. I am not exempt from this reality. I, too, have found myself meandering down paths riddled with failed attempts at perfection. Knowing all the while that I was seeking that mythical pot of gold. Knowing that it can't be found. What worries me is when I see the damage this quest can cause. The way our failures can chip away at our ambition and our ability to see the world for it's possibilities. The way we allow weariness and feelings of futility to rob us of the desire to aspire to anything perceived as being outside that magical, invisible realm of possible. Impossible endeavors, after all, can only end in empty hands denied their much desired reward. But is that really true? Or is that just what our failures impose upon us to prevent us from taking on too much damage.

I challenge this idea as the combination of the words impossible and endeavor seem to me to be an oxymoron. Impossibility is the crutch of a broken man who does not wish to push boundaries but instead wishes to build boundaries and live surrounded by their walls. A comfortable, predictable life no doubt. But a life that exists only to watch time pass which, in my eyes is no better than being sentenced to life in possibility for parole, no possibility for possibility.

To be alive is to see that all things are possible. To really live is to always aspire to more and to always believe that face value isn't very valuable at all. To never stop seeing through eyes of wonder, to never accept a loss as an end. Life should be better than muddling through. Life should be magic. And yes, I do believe in magic. I believe in everything that most people don't. When my daughter asks me questions like, "Are fairies real?" my answer is always the same, anything can be real if you believe it is. This is not just me trying to appease a young girl's fantasies. This is what I actually believe. Who am I to doubt the existence of fairies? Who am I to decide what is and is not possible? Possible is a relative concept and I don't feel that anyone has a full grasp of what is or isn't possible. What people rely on is belief. Limitations are real to those who believe in them. Power is only as real as the people who believe in it and yield control to it as a result of this belief. Most aspects of our emotions are based on our belief system. Whether or not we believe we are accepted, loved, and appreciated is a deciding factor in how we live our lives. Believing in something's reality is so powerful and most don't acknowledge it's importance enough. The question isn't, however, what do you believe? The question is why? Why is it so easy to believe in some things and not others?

Life is not meant to be this complicated ordeal that leaves people feeling powerless. Life, instead, is an endless, illuminated expanse of possibilities. And what exists in each of us is an amazing ability to imagine those possibilities and view them with hopeful curiousity. Imagination, you see, is the magic we all have inside of us. It is our own personal proof that the impossible can be real. For if we can imagine something, if it is in us to give our thoughts to it, to feel something about it then it is no less real than what we have seen with our own eyes. What we see we can touch and prove, but what we believe in doesn't need proof and is what touches us.

Open Arms

Through all the turmoil of all my days
I forward go to a better place
For though I've lost some of these fights
I've never failed in my whole life
For every step not placed with care
Every moment of despair
Every second spent in dark
Every tear bled by my heart
All of it has led me here
To be this person without fear
It's taken time to understand
The wondrous ways fate moves it hand
The way it knows to knock us down,
To leave us longing to be found
For when it feels like we are done,
As though the battle can't be won
There floats a bit of hoping in
So we may feel the urge to win
And stand ourselves up in the storm
And fight for air, and peace, and warmth
For as we are we are enough
We're built to learn and give and love
And even on the coldest nights
When sadness robs light from our sight
We can recall our grand design
And find the will to push and try
To fumble foolish with our hearts
And welcome life with open arms...

The Risk in Dreaming and The Success in Effort

Ambition. Ambition, I believe, is the single most important possession one can grasp. Defined, it is an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment. Ambition is what seperates success from complacency. Now, in the interest of clarification, success in my opinion is not necessarily the obtaining of all of one's dreams. It is not wealth or even happiness. I am a person who sees the success in effort. Effort is a beautiful thing, one that seems to be lost in today's society and without it we lose our ability to acheive our aspirations. It may sound painfully obvious but think about it. How much effort does it take to continue doing the same things day in and out, over and over again? It may be tedious, granted. It may be boring, but being bored doesn't expend a very impeding degree of effort. As was said by Ortega y Gasset, "Effort is only effort when it begins to hurt."

We have been placed in a room full of questions without answers. And though we possess an interest in knowing the answers to those questions we do not possess the ambition to seek them. They say that youth is wasted on the young but, in turn, couldn't it be said that wisdom is wasted on the old? It seems that a lot of times once we are blindingly aware of our own potential, of all of the things we "could have" done, we assume that the opportunity is gone and that we must now settle for a sub standard existence in the company of all of those regrets. I passionately disagree. To seek what you dream of all you need is passion, ambition, and.....effort. Your age is irrelevant. I can't promise that it will all work out but I can promise that it will feel great to rekindle the fire of hope. Everytime you fail you are learning one more way how not to do something which is useful information to and of itself. Which is why I believe there to be so much success in effort. I believe we are capable of so much more than we give ourselves the chance to see. Not to say that we should all be presidents or cure cancer or aspire to some sort of unrealistic perfection. Even the smallest dreams are worth pursuing. Our dreams can sit in us either as a badge of fond pride or as a dagger of futility and regret. The most amazing part of a human being is his ability and desire to seek. Sometimes it seems that the part of us that dreams is smothered by our habits and the desire we possess to assimilate. What begins in us as an undeniable, bellowing, eardrum shattering scream is eventually drown out by our equally loud and powerful fear of failure.

And that's really what it all comes to...fear. If we can predict our lives based on repetition, then we can protect ourselves from hurt. In other words if we do what we have always done, then most likely we will continue to get the same result. By removing the risk of the unknown we, quite successfully, keep ourselves safe. The reality is though that when you remove the risk of the unknown what you are keeping yourself from is not always pain and hurt and failure. The good stuff goes, too. So never stop believing in the power you possess to accomplish your goals and desires. Dream with reckless abandon. You can pursue carefully and thoughtfully but do not ever completely remove the risk. Risk is the birthplace of the unexpected and the soil where we plant our dreams. Without it they have nowhere to sprout roots and grow.

Life is a Building With Many Doors

The only time the world is dark is when it is viewed through closed eyelids. When it is taken in blindly. Because when you close your eyes you run into things that you may have otherwise navigated around. But because you chose not to look, you couldn't see what was there. You couldn't see what was right in front of you, threatening your safety and well-being. And these blind moments are what construct us and cause our wounds. This is where we place all of our personal power. Our wounds dictate almost every choice we make. We run into something with our eyes closed, never actually seeing it coming or going, and all we take from it was that it hurt. We don't wish to understand it or to mold it. We do not wish to observe it or to learn from it. We wish only to avoid it in the future because that hurt was too unbearable to experience again.

Life, you see, is a building full of many doors. Those doors open up to reveal countless rooms full of memories and people and places and emotions. Some which we have touched and held and some which we have only longed for. But once we have opened a door and know what is on the other side of it we allow our emotions to dictate to us whether to cast away caution and race inside or to lock the door permanantly and forever. What is interesting to note is that most of our locked rooms have never been fully explored. Most often times because we tried to enter them with our eyes closed and, as previously mentioned, ran into something that created a wound. Which of course forced us to turn right back around and turn the key in the lock. In life you will feel deeply the moments when you approach a familiar, locked door. The problem with locked doors, of course, is that we are the owner of their keys. We make a choice to lock them and thus may unlock them with just as much ease by simply using the metaphorical keys we conceal in our pockets, just in case. For no decision is truly permanent when it comes to these rooms of our lives. We may revisit them at our own discretion by the will of own minds, our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. Some doors should stay locked and some should be opened, but how does one know which kind of door is before them? In these moments it's almost as though you can feel your hand on the knob. And right as you begin to turn it, you will remember your wound. You will remember how much it hurt and maybe still hurts to enter that room. You may even find your curiousity trying to negotiate with you. What if it will be different somehow? What if you don't remember it correctly? What if you walk away and miss out on something of dire importance? Why were you led to this door again were you not meant to open it? What ifs and whys could drown out the sun. They could collapse the mountains and flood the oceans. What ifs and whys are more powerful than most other thoughts. They are the thoughts that haunt us. And sometimes you will open that door but most likely, after a moment or two of hesitation you will remove your hand from the knob and you will walk away, carrying your what ifs and whys like a fetus awaiting birth with fervor and resentment.

Suffice it to say that most of us lock the wrong doors and in turn leave the wrong ones open. But what is comfortable and predictable is not always what is right. As an example, a person who has always endured abusive relationships may have closed the door to happiness when they walked into that room expecting what they had always had. They entered the room with their eyes closed and when they entered they ran into something unfamiliar and it caused a wound. It wasn't bad or good, just different. Sometimes what causes a wound is simply the inability to compare it to what you already know. The main failure we as people endure is the expectations we attach to our experiences. We are blind, eyes closed, to the idea that we cannot know what will happen. We cannot prepare for it. We can only experience it. It is because of our expectations that we lock so many doors. The reality is though that each new experience must be welcomed with an open mind. Expectations are the effort of a lazy man who does not wish to process his world as it is but, instead, wishes to create an end at the beginning and stifle the ability for the end to create itself. In short he does not see the possibilities only the restraints. I challenge you to revisit some of your locked doors but to open your eyes when you enter them. Do not drag expectations inside. Give breath to your what ifs and becauses to your whys. And never forget that you are the navigator and the captain. Only you can remove those keys from your pocket. Only you can unlock those doors and see what lies beyond them.