Current Affairs

I’ve thought a lot in the past couple of weeks about what I can say to help with what’s going on lately. Life feels more fragile, a little more tenuous in the face of it all. But the truth is that life is always fragile. History is full of brutal manmade destruction and rife with natural disasters even while it is equally full of soaring beauty and truly wonderful levels human achievement. We are being reminded almost daily that everything we know can be snatched away at a moment, outside of our control. And we can either fear that and go on autopilot, or try to deny it and escape reality, or we can accept it and work to live up to our potentials in whatever stretch of time we have. And if we’re not striving towards the third option, what’s really the point?

So do what you have to in order to practice self-care. Heal yourself to the point where you can turn off the autopilot and stop the escapism for little stretches of time at first and then longer and longer moments. Find a life of meaning in whatever you do, and if something isn’t working, don’t fear changing it. And don’t be afraid to shine your inner light. Also, if you feel like you want to change things, find ways to help where you can. You can’t help everyone, but you can help someone. You can’t control the way the world operates, but you can control how you operate within the existing parameters and work to change those parameters.

Finally, if you really want to change the world, stop letting assholes win. If all the caring, empathetic people in the world would adopt this attitude individually and collectively, things would change so fast. Stop supporting those who don’t value their fellow human beings, whether it be the big fish in the small pond or the sharks in the ocean, small-town sleezy landlord or big time Hollywood producer or career politicians at any level. Stop giving them your money, stop giving them your time and attention unless it’s to rub their faces in their misdoings like a dog and say “no” very loudly and repeatedly until they get the message. If you are going to start demanding the best of yourself, demand the best from those who profit off of you as well. There is so much potential power there.

It is hard not to get caught up in the fear and the drama. But that let’s those assholes win, and that is the one thing I refuse to do.

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Some Thoughts on Life

I’ve been listening to some random lectures and talks online while sewing in recent weeks, and a couple of things I’ve heard have stuck with me, so I wanted to share my thoughts on them.

The first was a positive, truly inspiring lecture, and the line that stuck with me was when the speaker was telling everyone to stop comparing themselves to others, that we each have a purpose to fulfill here in life. And the line was that we are all puzzle pieces making up the world, and the puzzle pieces fit with other pieces to make the whole, and without even one piece, the picture is incomplete. So we’re all vital, we’re all important. And it’s our connections with each other that are truly the most important thing. I thought that was truly lovely.

The comparison game is such a tempting one, isn’t it? And we’re bombarded all the time by advertising and programming that tells us to fall into that trap so they can sell us crap, and the prevalence of social media in our lives makes it oh so easy to constantly compare and then bring ourselves down by our lack. We spiral low, shop to make ourselves feel better, drown our sorrows in more media or unhealthy habits, and let ourselves get trapped. It’s terrible. But I have learned to look at my twinges of jealousy as the sign markers for where I need to grow and direct my life. My friend is traveling off to far lands while I’m trapped with a baby and no money? Plan a day trip or weekend trip with the family and crash with friends. Someone I know released a single or put out a new book? That little pin prick is the drive for me to carve out a little time to create. And continue to make differences where I can. But this metaphor of a puzzle is one that will help quell the twinges all together, I think.

The second was a psychologist speaking about something that touched deeply on my spiritual awakening that occurred several  years ago, and I’m going to be deliberately vague because it’s very personal to me, but mainly what she said cast the entire experience in a very negative light. And I reflected on this a lot, and I’ve decided that I still am glad I went through my experiences because of the profound growth that I’ve had. There was a catalyst, a rebirthing, and then a test, all in one, and there were risks involved, but because I stayed true to myself and listened to my heart, it was a test I passed. It was necessary for my evolution, and this speaker would have cast me as a victim. And I don’t know if she truly sees the world that way, or if she’s just out to make more clients and make a buck.

So here it is, any period of growth is tumultuous. Any true spiritual experience has risks because we live in a materialistic age and have lost a lot of the knowledge of the spiritual so you enter blindly. But I know that everything in life has a positive and a negative side – the same tool can be used to heal or to harm. And it is each of our own responsibility to guard our own paths. To a lesser extent, we can help guard the paths of those we love, but really it has to come from within. We need to decide the things we value in our hearts and souls and then not waver from those values. Because it is when we become untrue to ourselves that others can manipulate us.

Anyway, those are my random thoughts.

It’s that time again…

Every year I try to look back over the year and take stock of how well I’ve lived up to certain goals. And then I try to set myself some new goals for the coming year. I’ve decided to break up that post into two posts because I’ve got quite a bit of sorting out to do for this year.

Many people have felt betrayed by 2016, and a lot of terrible things have happened to a lot of people, both personally and on a large scale. There was much divine masculine energy being brought online, if you follow that particular spirituality, and quite frankly, people haven’t been processing it very well. Hopefully that will settle in as we move into 2017 collectively. For myself personally, early on, I’ve dubbed 2016 my Year of Change, and it has proven to be that for me right up til the end. Change is not easy, change can be both good and bad, change can be scary, but it is also necessary for growth, so I’m hopeful that the coming year will be a fertile one for me.

What personal changes did I go through? I bought a house, I had my son diagnosed as being on the lower end of the autism spectrum a couple days before his 5th birthday and a week before we moved into said house (which I haven’t discussed on this site before and as someone who hates labels, I had a hard time adjusting to), I had a leadership shift at work and many of my good work friends left but I was assured that things would be shifting to the better, I delivered a beautiful baby girl with all the changes that go with that, and I got fired early in December from the job that rather than shifting to the better was made more difficult.

I have experienced such intense joy and such intense pain through all these huge life shifts, but also a lot of numbness that I’ve blamed on pregnancy and postpartum hormonal shifts which could also just have been a coping mechanism. And a lot more stress than I should have allowed myself to experience.

These past couple of weeks have been difficult for me dealing with losing my job. It’s funny that I immediately felt acceptance, even in the moment, and I still do think it was the best possible thing to have happened given the situation (and if you believe in the law of attraction, I asked for it to happen a few days before it did and I was granted my wish). But two weeks ago, I changed my Amazon Smile recipient to an organization other than my former employer and I unsubscribed from the newsletter finally, and I realized that leaving an employer is quite similar to breaking up with a significant other, and then I further realized that my getting fired after being sick a week and a half after Thanksgiving was an exact parallel to my one break up I experienced in my life – I was 18 and so sick with mono and the boy I was dating broke up with me the week after Thanksgiving. I kind of pushed him into it by making him realize that he was incapable of coping with my being sick (one of those relationships where I was more a psychoanalyst than anything and when I couldn’t fulfill that function any further, he was a mess). So I’m still trying to figure out what lessons I missed that first time that are being repeated here. But I also let some bitterness in. Being unemployed and having to be super frugal was not how I imagined our first Christmas in our new house with our new baby. With the help of my family, I was able to stop myself from spiraling into a deep dark hole and actually enjoy myself, which I was glad for. Then this past week, as I reviewed old posts here and under my real name, I kept seeing how much joy I found in my work last spring, despite the craziness, and it made me sad to think that just a handful of people being switched out was enough to make me feel taken advantage of and abused by my employer.

So here I am, my creative barrel scraped pretty dry. I’m healed up physically fairly well now though I still need to bring my stamina and strength back to my pre-pregnancy self as I still tire more readily, but creatively I’m having a difficult time tapping into where I need to go. I’ve been doing some project daydreaming, played the piano and sang several times a week for a couple songs, and my aunt got me an adult coloring book for Christmas which I started one but coloring other people’s designs isn’t really fulfilling. My morning pages are lackluster and whiny, which is what they need to be, but beyond this blog and a couple of longer Facebook posts on my other site, I haven’t been able to write. So the healing that still needs to happen is deeper than I’ve managed to get yet. But I will.

My goals for 2016 were to get the house set up to be as sustainable as possible, and that didn’t happen. We still are unpacking! But we’ve made great progress since I’ve been home. The previous owners actually left a compost bin, and we’re planning out our first veggie and herb garden for this year. A friend of ours has a phenomenal green thumb, so we will be tapping him. So, in brief, everything around the house is taking way longer than I thought it would, but part of the fun is planning long term finally. I feel like I didn’t have enough energy to do as much as I wanted creatively and self-growth wise, but I’m giving myself slack since I was creating a baby instead.

Tomorrow I’ll look ahead to the coming year with hope and optimism. But I think it’s important to be honest about where I’m at presently.

Try Programming Yourself for a Change

We each come into this world pre-programmed a certain way, and like every piece of technology these days, there are settings and preferences that need tweaking and sometimes entire programs need to be deleted. And while our brains aren’t exactly parallel to computers, there are definitely similarities. The question you should be asking yourself is “who is doing the programming in my life?”. Because the truth is we humans are guided and manipulated in both subtle and overt ways on a daily basis – through our friends and family and our enemies, through advertising, through our education, through media consumption of all kinds, through the groups we belong to and give our time to. And the bigger truth is that we don’t have to give other people the reigns. You can program yourself, write your own code and delete the code of others, create yourself anew into the kind of human you want and need to be.

It may sound a little counter-intuitive to my message of creativity to think of yourself as a machine, but it’s a helpful visualization exercise for really taking stock of who you are and the materials you have to work with. One of the things I say a lot is that if you find it difficult to be honest with anyone else, at least be honest with yourself, and this is a very good way of doing so.

So what are my recommended steps for programming yourself?

  1. Acknowledge the fact that you have been programmed. This is very important. Then start to notice the subtle and not-so-subtle tugs at you on both a conscious and unconscious level. You can’t lose the unwanted programming unless you can find where it is.
  2. Decide what your programming switch is going to be for yourself and stick with repeating the message. Don’t try overhauling everything at once, but pick one thing at a time. It can be something simple like removing an unwanted food item from your diet  or choosing to stand up for yourself if you think you’re too meek or setting your inner alarm clock to actually wake you up early enough to write, or tackling bigger issues like looking at yourself in the mirror and loving the body quirks you used to hate (because body image issues are one of the biggest ways we’re manipulated) or taking more control over your own destiny.
  3. Realize that you may feel tugged in two separate directions for a while until your current programming overrides your years (decades?) of previous programming. And realize it’s a constant battle to fight the outside influences. Odd bits of programming may jam their way in, like spyware. So be vigilant about scanning yourself internally every once in a while.

Programming yourself, being your own coder, isn’t about making yourself over into something new. It’s about living up to the potential that exists within and has always been there. It may feel daunting, but it is entirely worthwhile. It is the path to individual freedom.

Your Higher vs. Your Lower Self

I’ve been going through some of my old morning pages (which I started after doing The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and you can watch a video about them here). And I wanted to share a section of one of the entries from last fall. I had just listened to a lecture about the importance of getting in sync with the universe and trying to help build up humanity, and it had left an impression on me.

“It is a lofty goal, to think about one’s desires and then align those desires to the good of society. I want to be the spark for so many people, I want to help them lose fear of the darkness and shine a candle so they can integrate their dual natures into one. I want to love and be loved and draw energy from all of that love to spread outward. I want to burn away the smaller parts of myself, the meanness and pettiness, and help others burn away those areas within them. I want to utilize both my wisdom and intelligence in a way that benefits all, rippling out from me to my inner circle and then to the world.”

On my best days, I am able to do all that. And I feel so in tune with everything that surrounds me and able to tap deep into creative resources to help people or to help myself through writing and art and music. And I can keep going for a long time.

But on my worst days, I find myself overly sensitive and raw, so very raw. And I find myself out of touch, making a big deal in my mind out of things that other people do or don’t do or say or don’t say when customarily I am fine taking people as they come and don’t take their actions personally. But on my worst days, my feelings get hurt really easily and very deeply, and it can leave me shaky for days, because all of a sudden I’m reminded of my preteen self getting tortured and tormented by classmates, unsure of where I stand with anyone, even the people whom I love most. And however much I work on healing that little girl part of me, sometimes the tears come unbidden. This happened to me last week, and it was originally what I was going to do today’s blog about, but reading my morning pages earlier today made me realize that going through these sensitive times gives me a sign that I’m working too hard and also is part of my ongoing effort to integrate my own dual nature. So it’s very much serving a purpose. Even when it makes me sad or uncomfortable or reminds me of past pain.

I prefer to focus on my best days, to reach toward my higher self more often than descending into my lower self, while still acknowledging the existence of that lower self and knowing that I have to allow those feelings to surface occasionally in order to continue to walk my inner paths of both darkness and light comfortably and to then be able to guide others on their own paths. It’s how I tap into creativity, it’s how I navigate through life. But it certainly is not the easiest way to go.

If you are open to sharing, what are some of your innermost higher-self desires? What would you want to accomplish as an individual toward the betterment of humanity? How would your personality align itself best into the universe? And do you walk that path now or do you have a lot of work to do still to get there?

Reflect on the Past, Be Fully in the Present, Move toward the Future

I have taken a bit of a hiatus here, thanks to my typical internal retreat that seems to happen naturally this time of year coupled with a lack of energy from what turned out to be an iron deficiency. But a new year, and my energy is returning, and I’m feeling ready. For what, I’m not quite sure, but that’s okay.

Each New Year, while safely ensconced at my Writer/Artist retreat on Lake Ontario, I like to look back on my personal and creative growth from the previous year and set one major intention for my growth into the New Year. You can read the past years’ entries on this blog here, here, and here.

So how did I do in 2015? My personal growth goal was to learn to create balance within myself and to then help others find their balance. I think I’ve been able to achieve that as much as I could on the current path I tread. My chosen field is time-intensive and has crazy deadlines, but the craziness comes in waves so that I’m able to recuperate and spend quality quiet time with my family in the lulls. I’m more stable and steadily working on the inner work that needs doing rather than the leaps and bounds that were happening in previous years, and while it sometimes feel like I’m inching forward rather than soaring, that’s where I need to be right now, I think. I still don’t feel like I ever have enough time to accomplish everything that I want to accomplish in this life, but I’m much more accepting of that than I was in the past. What I’ve found to be true, though, is that the balance isn’t a constant. To walk a fine line means frequently feeling the pull from each side. It isn’t fixing something and then having an easy time of it. Creatively, my goal was to release my first novel and at least one major painting. I did release a painting, though I don’t know if I would consider it “major”, and while I made progress on my novel, I didn’t even make it halfway through. I did manage to finish writing the graphic novel draft I had been working on for years, which is something. And I went from a part-time position to a full-time+ position in a creative industry that I am really enjoying, which enables me to provide for my family. I’ve done some good freelance projects, and I’ve laid the groundwork for future freelance work for a decent fee. It is fulfilling at a different level than the work I do here, but fulfilling nonetheless. So I’m not disappointed in myself. I’m trying to go with the flow more, is all.

That all being said, what are my goals for 2016? Well, we’re buying our first house soon, so I am looking forward to trying to make a more sustainable life for us. It is ridiculous how excited I am at the notion of composting and growing my own vegetable garden this summer. We are going to look into grants for solar panels. And we’ll be slowly building a true home. One of my goals is to use the house to further nurture people, either by literally feeding them love through dinner parties and creative meetups or running small classes out of the house occasionally to share my skill set and increase the confidence of others. I don’t know how far I’ll get in that this year, but I want to lay the groundwork at least.  I also want to see what kind of an impact we can have in our new local community, so there will be some research that needs to be done once we move to our new village. I guess, in brief then, my goal for this year is to nurture others while continuing to nurture myself so that I can do that work for others. My other big personal goal is to integrate my title of this blogpost into my life. I know many people focus on the attempt to detach entirely from the past and the future to be in the present, but I want to try integrating all three (while still attempting to let go of the attachment to time in general) and see what good I can accomplish through that. It should be an interesting mental and spiritual exercise.

Creatively, I will continue to work at my novel, I will continue to make art, and I will continue to make music, but I am not going to pressure myself with deadlines this year. There are too many other things that need my attention. I am really looking forward to having my piano back home once we move though. It will be so soothing to be able to play multiple times a week instead of just once every 2-4 weeks like I’ve been doing. It makes a difference.

It is strange to me that in the midst of the tumultuous world, in the violence and hatred that continues to grow, I’ve managed to find some calm, safe waters for myself. And it’s not that I’m hiding myself away from what is going on, that I’m not experiencing grief and concern, but that I’m navigating through all of that with an ease I’ve never had before.

We’re all responsible for our own selves. That is true freedom, I think. To own our space in this world fully. Hard work to do. But necessary and wonderful in the long run.

May you each find your own calm waters when you need them in the ensuing storms. May 2016 be the year we can all take charge of our own destinies and follow the true purpose of our lives. The world is changing and shifting, and we can make it a change for the better. But it is up to each of us to do the work necessary for that to happen.