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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.