On Paula

I have worked in a hospital for 20 years. 99% of my work has to do with outpatient administration. I am been in the background and very much away from the inpatient floors. Those few floors are where the procedures, recoveries and most critical health issues take place. Yet I nearly always forget I work in a hospital.

On some work calls I hear about the inpatient statistics and infection rates of COVID. Those patients seem distant and far away. They have little to do with me. Yet on other calls where letters are anonymously shared, patients and family members have the most human experiences on those floors. Experiences that are so positively impacting to their lives that they take the time to share. 

While these letters cause me smile and temporarily feel proud for working in my organization, they do not personally touch me.

Enter Paula.

Yesterday my husband & I moved a wooden flower container that was Paula’s from our deck to our small garden area behind the fence to remove the dirt. 

As soon as we dumped the dirt the entire container fell apart. Pieces of wood mixed with the dirt. I was surprised at the great condition those pieces were in. Being a self-proclaimed up cyclist artist, I immediately saw beautiful pieces in which to make art on. First order of business was to make something involving Paula. 

Paula used to have beautiful wildflowers in that same box. I remember her telling me in 2020 how she went to go put some seeds from a packet into the container when the wind carried the seeds right out of the packet! She thought they flew away, but a few months later beautiful flowers appeared. 

Now, like her life – some of the most raw, beautiful things such as the wildflowers are long gone, but the memories and magnificence of what was there remains. 

Paula was the first neighbor I met when my husband and I bought our current house in 2016. It was a second home on the water in Branford. We had no intention of living at it for several years, so I was taken aback (in a good way!) when Paula and a host of other neighbors warmly welcomed us to the neighborhood. 

Somehow every time we were here, I saw Paula. She was always around. Walking, talking to neighbors, out with her happy dog Stella. Paula was in her mid-sixties and lived alone. She was FULL of life. Always smiling, laughing, joking… Happy.  

She often invited me over with my dog Koji to her fenced yard. Sometimes I had limited time at the house to complete work and declined her offers, other times I went there to spend time with her. In a short time, I learned about her life. She had a beautiful home that was lifted from the ground recently (flood risk) and again she was one of the happiest people I ran across regularly. 

She often hosted Happy Hours. She held a welcome party for anyone who moved to our small community. She randomly met people on walks or in town and made connections with them and for them. 

Somehow, I had her cell phone and she texted me often. She would often call to let me know about how nice my renters were, that an ambulance was on the street, that something happened in the neighborhood we might be interested in. 

I felt a part of the neighborhood even though we didn’t live there – thanks to Paula. 

Extra bananas, clothes she was cleaning out, a knickknack that reminded her of me… she was often coming by with items that I may want that she didn’t need. 

She dressed beautifully. Her natural hair color of nearly white looked very chic on her stylish cut. She had keys to our house and often went in to check on things while we were away. She welcomed nearly all our renters to the area. I still have dozens of comments from renters about how wonderful the area, neighbors and particularly “that lady across the street” Paula was. 

She was the only neighbor our children knew the name of. None of them ever lived here but when they visited they were sure to run into her. 

I shared my blogs and stories with her. She often commented and referred to little things I wrote in daily interactions.

Based on an innocuous comment one hot summer day in July 2018, she was the very reason I realized how my PTSD was different from panic attacks. This kicked me into a 3-day frenzy of large flipcharts and sticky notes about the root cause as I explored a past that I was previously afraid to face. 

During that time there was a storm and we lost power. I was alone in my current home here in Branford. While I never went over to her place, Paula invited me over daily to have some salads and enjoy the comforts of her generator. I was very much involved in my little self-exploration and in a strange but cathartic despair. I knew Paula was right there if I needed anything. And that was comforting. 

She came to every party we hosted with a very elaborate store-bought dish to share. She WAS the life of the party. I do remember though in the early months of 2019 during a party she disappeared quite early. The next day I brought her coat that she left behind over. She would tell me she didn’t remember going home. She was drinking so I wrote it off. 

In the late summer of 2019 when we permanently packed up our Cheshire home and made the move to Branford. Paula was very excited. Yet every so often she seemed confused. It was getting to be this way for a while. I can’t say when exactly. But she wasn’t the same. 

She was never the same. In 2020 the decline had taken an obviously noticeable turn. She turned 70 that year and in the height of COVID her brother and sister-in-law hosted a very nice outdoor party. Paula had friends staying with her from all different times in her life. My husband & I heard stories from them about Paula that were not surprising – how friendly and vibrant she was, how amazing of a friend she had been, how she lit up a room. And how the person now on her 70th birthday was only a shadow of Paula. 

Now it’s 2022. Her home is empty. She is a patient that some administrator counts the beans for. She is a number. Paula is someone that providers confer about how to handle during a huddle. Someone that the family members will likely write a nice letter for if her care was good. A random note that someone like myself who does background work to make such a place run will hear about, smile for a moment and carry on. 

But what about that patient’s life? Their loved ones? The people they touched? The remnants of their possessions that used to hold such life and love? – Like the planter that used to adorn her lawn which is now in pieces in my yard? Where and how does that all count? 

Where do those stories and that love go? 

I was a very small part of her life for a very short period of time. Thinking about Paula and these pieces of her planter (that I will absolutely turn into something beautiful) will hopefully help me to stop and think about each patient while I run thousands of beans for them in various “ways til’ Tuesday” so the administration can make data informed decisions. 

These lives count. All lives matter. We aren’t just numbers. We are amazing human experiences that make differences for the next lives that come along. The history of each one of us may not be recorded – but we make history with every last interaction of our lives. Even by accident. Like the wildflowers that appeared when Paula thought they flew away. She planted something beautiful and didn’t even know it. 

Some pieces of the wood I plan to work on first out to dry.

On Non Alcoholic Beverages

20 months and counting. This is just my point of view and may not be suitable for all.

10/9/22

Today is 20 months without alcohol for me.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last 20 months, particularly about drinking. 

I love to drink. Not just alcohol. Beverages. All kinds. Coffee, tea, sparkling water, soda (diet ONLY), Crystal Lite… and now non alcoholic (NA) beer.

I’ve always loved the taste of beer. I think my first experience of beer was when I was around 7 or so. My family and I were coming back from a Sunday afternoon of fishing off the piers of Brooklyn NY.  We didn’t plan to stay out that long and we had nothing to drink. I was soooo thirsty. 

On the way home we stopped for a family favorite- pizza at Spumoni Gardens. My dad stood on the pizza line with my brothers and my mom and I on the drink line. The beer for my father came out first. I had been complaining for hours about being thirsty. The soda was taking entirely too much time. My mom handed me the beer and said “just a sip”. I took the flimsy wax coated cup off the tray and intended to take one gulp, but promptly downed the entire thing. My mom looked at me with horror. 

“You liked that?” she asked?

“Yes, I was thirsty” I replied.

The workers behind the counter handed us the sodas and the pressure of the line moved us out to the general courtyard where we sat with my dad and brothers.

My mom was still shocked when she said “I need to go back online to get the beer, Esterina drank it all”.

The rest of my family stared at me in awe. Everyone asking how I could have liked the taste. 

Geez, I was just thirsty and it quenched my thirst is all. I didn’t understand the big deal.

I had also danced for 10 years. 2-3 times a week for most of the school year I would put on a pink leotard for ballet lessons and the black one for tap and jazz. I was always concious of how that leotard fit. As I got older and started filling out more, I started to think about calories and the things I liked. I always loved soda and when I realized that diet soda tasted almost exactly the same I decided to never have non diet soda again.

I may have had non diet soda once or twice since then (I honestly can’t say), but it’s diet soda for me now. At least for the past 35 years it has been. 

As a young adult I never chose alcohol as a beverage of choice unless it was some fruity elaborate cocktail on a beach somewhere. Even then I’d only have one – completely aware of the sheer number of calories the drink had.

But sometime in my early 30s there was nothing but non diet soda and beer as an option with pizza somewhere after helping some friends move. I was hot, hungry and thirsty. I wouldn’t drink the soda but had the lite beer instead. Less calories.

And oh my gosh was it good! Beer and pizza together was amazing. It was Miller lite that our friends bought. So the next Friday for pizza night I picked up a six pack of Miller lite. Light beer became a part of my life. 

Well, fast forward a few years. I met my now husband who introduced me to enjoying the subtleties of wine. That was a new area for me. Wine isn’t so easy to just have 1 when there is a whole bottle involved. The addiction took hold from there. Light beer went to all kinds and a little wine too way too much. 

Now I’m 20 months from my last drink and am as happy as I’ve ever been. I don’t miss anything about it. But I do have to give a giant plug to NA beer. I love it! I love it like I love diet soda. All of my life since I switched to diet soda I just don’t even like the taste of regular soda. It’s so sweet my teeth hurt. When it’s the only option I’ve often taken a sip to be polite but let the cup sit full. 

When I first got sober, one day after gardening I craved beer. It has long been a go to after a very hot day or long hours of work. I remembered we had NA beer in the fridge. But I opted for the diet soda instead. It was just as refreshing. 

The next day I started telling this same story to one of the Aware Recovery companions that came to my house as part of the year long program I admitted myself to. When I got to the part where I remembered there was NA beer in the fridge she stopped me with some kind of urgency and almost yelled “You didn’t have any did you?!”. 

No I replied- taken aback that she perceived I nearly avoided a relapse. What did I know? Was NA beer a gateway to drinking again? It seemed to be!

A few days later I told another companion who was at the house about this treacherous near miss. This one told me that despite being in recovery, she is a bartender and has NA beer and mocktails all of the time. She treated the episode as no big deal. 

I didn’t comment. I needed to mull this over. Maybe it was one of these things where there is no hard and fast rule. To each their own. 

No one talked about NA drinks in AA. My husband ended up buying a few varieties to try himself and they were always around the house. But it wasn’t until about a year ago this month that I dared try one. 

At my first sip I was convinced I had beer. I had to go to the fridge and read the can. It wasn’t one of these 0.0% things. I did claim it was <0.5%. Again I was scared about this little amount. I looked it up and read there is no way anyone can get drunk from that amount. You need to drink 40 for any kind of buzz. Your body processes this tiny amount so quickly that even if you could injest 480 oz in any short period of time, you still can’t get inerbriared.

Inebriation-proof and tastes this good? It seemed as too good to be true as the Diet Coke I still love. 

I started drinking them and trying different kinds. They are so good. To me as good as the real thing, but no buzz. No risk of slurring or not being able to drive. 

Nothing came up on my very frequent urine tests with Aware, the breathalyzer or at the addiction treatment center I went to for Vivitrol shots. 

It took me weeks to even think about telling the third companion that I was drinking NA beer. She was the youngest of the group and seemed to be the most receptive to such an alternative thought. As soon as I told her she piped up that she still goes to bars with friends and drinks soda or whatever non alcoholic cocktail might be advertised on the menu. She has been doing that for years and never felt tempted.

Not long after another companion was added to my dwindling # of visits (because I was nearing the end of the program) and this one had a whole list of NA cocktails up her sleeve. Additionally she didn’t get the AA word that drinking any of these out of a wine glass was the road to ruin, so my guilt about even entertaining such a thought went out the window. 

Now I am not saying this is ok for everyone- to have NA drinks, beers or mocktails. Or to have them in traditional drinking cups. Perhaps if I didn’t take that pause when that first companion sort of scared me. Perhaps that may have quickly put me somewhere bad. I’ll never know. 

It’s often not possible to know when you made the right choice. Usually you know when you made the wrong one.

But I’m still not saying it’s a great idea or alternative for everyone. It might not be. I am not an expert and the only experience I’ve had is my own short lived one. 

Not long ago I opened the question about yes/no to NA beverages to the local town Facebook recovery group I am in… and if one could get their proverbial head bitten off I would have. Glad I only asked and didn’t tell them I did!! Not one person (not 1) thought it a good idea. 

The two biggest comments were

1- when did we ever drink for the taste?

2- mimicking the real thing will lead back to the real thing.

And I think that might be true for some people. But not all. 

Everyone thinks they are different or immune to whatever the warning is. I took pause here and evaluated. 

I’ve always had good discipline when it came to food/drinks/calories. I do realize that drugs and alcohol are a different story and their addictive qualities make that nearly impossible to control. 

But I am not having the real thing and there is nothing addictive to it. 

I’ve always been ok with knock off food versions. My Diet Coke as an example, but so much more. I switched to skim milk in high school when I had money from a job and a car to buy the milk. We only had whole milk at home. Did it taste as good?? No of course not. But it was better for me and good enough. Now I prefer it. But I don’t even drink milk anymore- only almond milk. Another switch that wasn’t as good at first but my now preference.

Same with sugar substitutes. I never minded snackwells or those fake types of sweets. I prefer making them myself. Yes, like the beer they taste a little different- but not much. These kind of things satisfy me without the guilt and over time I don’t even like the original anymore. The same has been true for me all my life from the milk down to tofu over meat. 

So in answer to the responses to my question in the Facebook recovery page, I did drink for the taste and never has the fake version led me back to the real thing. When I switched I switched for good.

It’s been a full year now since I dipped my toe into NA beverages. So far I don’t feel any closer to a road to ruin.  Do I miss wine? Not really. There are zero good subs for it and in the face of that reality and I am not even interested.

I haven’t really gotten very into mocktails – for the same reasons I never did before on hard cocktails or hard alcohol. The calories don’t seem worth it. 

The growth of NA beer is pretty astounding. It is available everywhere. The only place I haven’t come across it is in the Bahamas. But everywhere else I have been since in the world, it’s readily available.

What makes it even more fun is the lack of too many options. There are 1-3 available choices TOPS. So I get to try the one or three varieties and never feel like I’m missing out on the dozen more I could have tried like I often felt with the real wine or beer I drank too much of.

The truth is I love to drink. I like lots of drinks. I love the taste of beer and I can have that taste without the consequences. It’s a chance I was willing to take and knock on wood it’s been a gift!

Not for a second in the 20 months and counting now did I feel like I was missing out on a things. I feel great and I love my life. I love my life without alcohol.

Yeah

On the Importance of Food, Shelter and Clothing

Most mornings and evenings I walk with my husband and our beloved black lab mix – Koji. In the morning with limited time, we walk down the shore and back and observe the day awaken. In the evenings we take a longer walk. Depending on the time of year we are catching the height of the evening’s festivities, the daily wind down, or the flat out night in our neighborhood (summer to winter span).

This morning it is late September. The air is cool and I wore my lightweight, dark blue rain coat I purchased in Maine a few years during an unexpected rain storm while in Perkins Cove.

I already had my morning coffee. I wasn’t yet hungry. I was not stressing about what may be in my work inbox. My life felt content and I was alive.

So very alive that my senses were more open. 

I felt the crisp autumn air around me. I held my arms out and inhaled deep breaths. A few times in the past week or so I was able to detect the smell of wood burning in a nearby fireplace. 

I heard the dog sniffing. I heard the squirrels shuffling across the grass and their tiny feet crunching the dried fallen leaves. I heard water from the shore in the distance. I heard a lot of bird signals and whistles . Mingled into it all were the sound of crickets and other unidentified woodland creatures. I closed my eyes to help my ears hear all. What a song!

As we approached the shore I noticed the early morning light dancing across the water. The sun hadn’t quite made its way above the horizon. But the light was creating a spectacular palette of color nonetheless. 

I didn’t have my phone and asked my husband for his. I snapped a short video of the rippling water and rising sun. It looked beautiful through the camera, but more beautiful in real life. Nothing captures the moment like living, breathing and appreciating the actual moment.

On the way back home I contemplated nature with teaming life around me. I’ve been wanting to go back to being vegan. I do not need to eat so much. Some people have no healthy or good food options. Others have no food at all. 

This got me thinking… How can you have an appreciation for life when you are hungry? When your body is so primed to keep itself alive it is not thinking about other lives. It is telling you to feed it. 

Sometimes I walk at lunch. Almost always after dinner. I thought about how I don’t always enjoy these walks so much. When I am not dressed right, when I am in rush and worried about getting back to my computer, or when I am thirsty or hungry and fantasizing about what to eat or drink when I get back home is when I enjoy these walks the least. 

I like every other human feel content when I have food, shelter and clothing. Next up Maslow’s pyramid is safety. 

For years I did not feel psychologically ‘safe’ with my husband. For reasons that belong to another blog his perception of how to approach the issues in our lives brought a proverbial fire alarm in me. When I worry about work or the kids or when I don’t feel psychologically safe, the ability to have my senses pick out subtle sounds and visual nuances are dulled. I don’t notice what the dog is doing if I am walking him, and then I’ll subsequently feel annoyed with him. I’m not present to those walks or my life when I don’t have the bottom of the pyramid covered.

As we continued home this morning I contemplated how I felt safe. Safe with my husband who at that very moment of my quite contemplation seemed to sense just that by reaching down to gently place my hand into his. I felt safe with him and in my neighborhood. 

How can anyone feel safe living in the ‘hood’ just a few miles down the road? How can you feel like the world is beautiful when outside your window is nothing more than buildings that block the sun? Where there might be a dangerous concrete jungle? Where the sound of birds and crickets is overtaken by honking horns, someone yelling, loud street signs and overall chaos?  If your walk to school or commute to work is fraught with fear and anxiety about being safe and what may greet you when you get there, how can you be comfortable and take a moment to appreciate life. 

How can anyone thrive without life’s basics? 

A flower cannot grow without a medium, sun and water.

A human cannot flourish without food, shelter, clothing and safety. 

They just can’t.

Anyone who says we live in the land of the free and that anyone can make it is naïve. 

I’d like to think that too, but people who don’t feel safe at home or anywhere in their surroundings during their day-to-day life are not free. They are a prisoner of their own heightened senses that are keeping them alive. When a human is hungry, they cannot think of anything else but how to eat. When we are cold or too hot, our body turns down our other senses off to divert energy into keeping us alive. No shelter or an uncomfortable sleeping arrangement leads to sleep deprivation. No one thrives when their body is too tired to function.

I personally don’t know what to do other than what I already try to do. But I want to do more.

If you feel you have food, shelter, clothing and psychological safety at the moment – perhaps just take a few seconds to stop and think about one thing you can do to lift the consciousness of others so they can be happier and more productive members of society too. 

This morning I appreciated life. I wanted to be better, do better, go vegan. I felt that way because my needs were met and I was able to look past myself and help this beautiful world around me to thrive. I wanted to protect nature. I wanted to bring up other humans to a place where they could see and appreciate what I was able to at the moment. 

Pay it forward. Forward this message. Activate and do something, anything… and give me some ideas back along the way… 

Only we can help each other. Our families, our neighbors, our communities. It starts with me. It starts with you.   

If just one person does one thing to help raise us all as humans from reading this blog; then I consider that a success. 

On Transformation through Thoughts – You have more power than you think!

“She knew the power of her mind and so programmed it for success.”Carrie Green

I saw a Facebook post from my good friend Michele and it inspired me to write a blog. I haven’t felt inspired to write in a while.

There is so much truth to this quote.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the word “woke”. Back in 2008 I don’t remember what I googled, but I fell into a rabbit hole of reading about what the end of the Mayan long calendar meant in 2012.

There were all kind of end of the world predictions. There were also some spiritual explanations that were ever so slightly hokey, but something about those explanations felt right. Have you ever heard or read something that spoke truth to you down to a cellular level, where you knew in your core there was veracity to it?

The spiritual predictions said in 2012 there would be a mass spiritual awakening for many humans. People would start to look at the world in a different way and realize immutable truths that were otherwise hidden in plain site before.

I closed the browser that day and enjoyed the life I built at work and at home, although there was always a little bit of a nagging feeling that something was missing.

4 years later when 2012 arrived I was in a new marriage with a larger family and despite the unbelievable love I had for my new family, there were equally unnecessary struggles with the adaptation of the new situation. So much so I was experiencing anxiety at levels that I’m sure was doing irreversible harm to my body.

And then oddly, a series of trainings, books and podcasts just happened to come my way. They were eye opening and in a few months I had radically shifted the way I saw the world. An absolutely new world opened up to me where I understood how our minds and brains work. How what I was doing and “striving” for was not the key to happiness.

That is what the term “Woke” has meant to me until 2020 today when I heard it used in the way most use it now.

True happiness does not come from things, vacations, relationships or experiences. True happiness comes from the way we choose to see the world. 

It’s that simple.It doesn’t sound possible to a scientifically minded left brain. But when I let go and allowed myself to be turned over to the will of the universe, the answers came to me, just as the Bible and other ancient texts promised.


Knowing was great! But remembering and using the principles were not a habit yet formed. It’s a lot easier said than done. 10 years later and I’m at a place where I remember more than I forget. It’s hard!!
So how do you just change the way you see the world & why does that make a difference in your life?

What do words and “spells” have to do with it? A simple way to put it is that every single thing in our universe has a vibrational frequency. Even thoughts.


Vibrations attract other vibrations.
You can’t see or experience something in a vibration that you are not aligned with. The same way we can’t hear a dog whistle or see ultraviolet rays. Humans do not have any senses that vibrate at those levels.


Also the whole universe works in the same way life in that it is manifested through various mixes of the five elements.


From densest to lightest (also lower to higher in frequency) those elements are:

Earth

Water

Fire

Air

Ether


A seed goes into the dirt and the dirt doesn’t care if it’s a watermelon seed or a carrot seed. Given the right conditions and mix of elements, that seed will grow into what it was intended to be.


The seed has potential and a code (watermelon/carrot/hydrangea). That code is the vibration or the intention- the thing with a lot of power that we cannot see.

The dirt is the womb that holds and brings that seed to fruition.

The other elements play a role too – air (wind), water, and fire (sun). The way they all mix will determine if and how that seed reaches its potential.Animal and human life is created the same way.


And so it’s said is the manifestation of everything else.

It’s not the situation that’s causing your stress, it’s your thoughts, and you can change that right here and now. You can choose to be peaceful right here and now. Peace is a choice, and it has nothing to do with what other people do or think.”Gerald G. Jampolsky, MD

Thoughts are like seeds and our mind is the womb in which they grow. We manifest what we think either intentionally or unintentionally. The mind doesn’t know or care if it’s a watermelon seed or pansy seed, it just nurtures the magic code in it to life.

That is why it is so important to be mindful of your thoughts. That isn’t easy without practice. The practice of meditation is one of the most helpful ways to remember to monitor your thoughts off the ‘mat’ too.

BUT- and this is a biggie, all thoughts have a vibrational frequency and even if you think you are manifesting something you want, if the intention behind it is not something you would want in your own life, you will get just what you asked for.


Huh???


You want money maybe. You put that thought in your mind and wait. But you don’t get it, you get the same life you have been living. “This crap doesn’t work” you say. It won’t if your intentions are not clear or different from the way you live now. The intention (potential like the code or ether in the seed) is what really matters.


What is the intention behind the desire for money? Is it to buy food and just survive? Is it to get drugs to get high? Is it to buy a big house or fancy car and ignore those who have nothing? Or is it to do good in the world? Is it a mix?


You will get what you intend. Like the line in The Lords Prayer “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. When you don’t forgive you will not be forgiven.


When you want something that will be harmful to others, you will in some way be harmed. When you just want to get by, you will get that. If you want to make a difference in the world and do good, opportunities will come your way to do that. Your vibration will attract similar vibrations.

We do not see the world as it is. We see the world as we are. Anais Nin.


It’s not things we can manifest (car, money, house), we manifest our intentions. Whether we think them through or not- “Who’s head do I need to trample to get a raise and buy the new car?” Or “Who should I put down to feel better about myself?”. You will experience that which you wish. You may get the car, but you will not be happy very long because something equally as uncaring in the way it was obtained will happen to you and you ultimately will not enjoy that car.

You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.”Marianne Williamson


The last piece to this is spoken word. Words have more power than thoughts. That is why chanting is so powerful. I’ve written about mantra before and why Sanskrit (which is not a spoken language) is used. It’s so the intention of the mantra stays clear without your own individual bias on what a word means being accidentally inflected into what you are asking for.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word.”

John 1:1

Before the universe, before the Big Bang, there was something immensely powerful all balled up and ready to explode. It had within it the intention of the entire universe- like a seed. When the bang happened and the universe began to spread out, the same law of seed, dirt and conditions were applied to all that were in that pre-explosion dense inject. The Christian bible uses God as the activator, but whatever higher power you believe in (could just be the universe itself), when this power made the decision to come into being and gave the command (spoke the “word”), action followed. Whatever it is you believe in, it really is the word.

“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.” Pearl Strachan Hurd

There is a very scary truth to that line. Being mindful of what you say begins with being mindful of what you think. It’s easier said than done. It takes practice to catch yourself and be sure to keep replacing your thoughts with things you want to see and experience. Things that will do no harm.

Meditation is a great practice. Before you think “My mind can’t meditate, it doesn’t work for me”, consider this:

Just by being quiet you will very quickly hear what is going on in your mind. As things come up, contemplate if it’s a thought you want, a thought that does no harm, or a thought that is positive and uplifting. I promise a moment later you will forget and your mind will take over with either the same old thought or something new. It’s normal and the human condition, it’s not you . Your mind will keep chattering, but try to keep interrupting it. Keep asking yourself if that’s a keeper thought or if it should be plucked out like a weed. 5 minutes of meditation a day is a good start because that practice will help you to notice what repetitive string of thoughts come up the rest of the day that will either serve or not serve you. Keep at it. It takes very little work but the pay off is the life you want. It’s not a miracle, you have to practice it. Only with time will it work.

That is what it means to Wake Up. To be aware of yourself, your thoughts & your intentions, and not asleep at the wheel.

Words: So innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

So be “Woke” and change your life ☺️

Women Take Notice – While Our Heads are in the Sand

Women need to take notice. Men too. Our heads are in the proverbial sand. We are so bombarded with information that it’s difficult to process anything. Meanwhile somewhere in the background in many countries, including our own, human rights and common sense are at risk.

I was feeling depressed about the state of the world this morning while over coffee scrolling through the news. Top stories:

  • The economy is tanking at record levels
  • Roe vs. Wade is about to be annihilated
  • Baby formula has been recalled and it’s nearly impossible to come by
  • The Taliban is forcing women to cover from head to toe in Afghanistan
  • Same sex marriage could be on the line
  • A small U.N. agency was swindled by a corrupt banker

Holy poo-poo…

But equally “up there” in headlines: 

  • What being a witch really means 
  • COVID 19 conspiracy theorists
  • Space travel reservations are skyrocketing 

Wait, what – SPACE reservations? As in outer space?

Who has this kind of money? And why aren’t they worried about the above and solving real issues?

We have some of the scariest world leaders in history – Brazil, Russia, China, I won’t say anything about the Orange person who used to be in office in a powerful country and somehow helped bring the Supreme Court to a place where Roe vs Wade can be legitimately overturned. I have mixed feelings about this one; but I am no where close to agreeing with the direction this is leading.

We seem to be seeing more world leaders that look like ones I learned about in Elementary School while sitting at a small desk in my blue uniform in Brooklyn on a rainy day. Leaders like Stalin, Hilter, Mussolini. People with crazy ideas that went against progress, kindness, and the duty to care for all people, for all creatures and the planet. I felt safe in the United States in the 1980s looking out the window across the street at the retirement home being built. These leaders were from another time. But not anymore.

While our heads are in the sand –

Our food supply chain is contaminated and it’s altering our cells. 

We can’t agree that science is showing climate change is caused by human consumption and not something that would be happening naturally despite the mountains of evidence acquired in the past 50 years.

No one questions how the miracles of the Internet, the world on our watches, our car knowing the speed limit and where we are actually work. There are waves all around us we can’t see, that in some way just has to be going into our skin & lungs, penetrating our vital organs.

And people are spending record dollars on flying to space? As in off the planet? 

As I was writing this my son called to say Happy Mothers Day. I told him what I was writing about and in the blink of an eye he helped me to laugh after I capped all the bad things off with, “and people are wanting to fly to space?!”. 

Of course ma. People want to get the F*c# off the planet. They are going to be flying by waving at us and laughing. And why not try witch craft? Everything else seems unreal, who says witch craft isn’t?”. 

Yes. Not true, but true. In some way wouldn’t we all just like to run away?

But we can’t. Because while our heads are in the sand women’s rights around the world are starting to be pulled back. Haven’t you seen or read the Handmaid’s Tale? No one believed it could happen. While it was happening in the early stages people just went about their lives thinking someone will make sure it will not happen. Surely in this day and age it can’t… right?

Right?

But it is. No doubt Afghan women thought that. In a year or two Italy might be looking at the United States on the issue of abortion and thinking about us as we think about Afghanistan. As impossible as it might be, it’s over there; not in my backyard.

Meanwhile in Ukraine… how does this happen? 

How can we protect the rights we currently have before we do not have any? Women’s rights particularly are at stake. Women… who are more compassionate and need a voice at the table on all issues as well; perhaps now more than ever.

What on earth can I do as just one person who is very concerned and in a ‘free’ country as it is now in the year 2022? 

Before this happens?

On Rainbows

This morning I was doing mantras on my beloved mala beads off the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas on our good friend’s catamaran. 

It suddenly started to drizzle, then rain – quite abruptly and hard. My husband who was doing his own yoga on the other hull and I ran to the back of the boat where we were greeted with a beautiful rainbow.

Wow… It stopped me in my tracks. How beautiful. And how beautiful to see a full rainbow on the horizon. We are so lucky.

I couldn’t help but think of the state of Ukraine and her beautiful human citizens who are not so lucky. These past few days I have instinctively wanted to use personal mantra to will something positive or hopeful to the outcome of this unnecessary war. But I also remembered that mantra is personal and will not work for anyone outside yourself. I briefly wondered just then as I have for the past several mornings why then do we use group mantra to raise consciousness or send faith outward? 

The answer was in front of me. 

The rainbow. I marveled at the colors. The anagram of ROY G BIV that I learned around the kindergarten years. The order holds true no matter where you are. 

About 10 years ago while listening to U2’s song Ultraviolet, I contemplated and then researched the meaning of colors and the length of their spectrums. As I started to get back into art a few years later, I considered the meaning of colors even more. The way they blend, and how a color wheel can seem continuous from red to purple, it’s really not. Purple to red is the only place on the wheel that isn’t quite part of nature. What happens between those two? Is there a real place between them? 

White light contains it all. The earth bends the suns rays and we get the rainbow to the visible eye. But what is beyond that? We know about infrared and ultraviolet, but what is there that we can’t see or detect with the combination of instruments and our 5 senses? 

Universally red is considered basic and instinctive while purple is considered spiritual and highly conscious. Red is larger and takes up more space on the rainbow. Purple is smaller and is only accessed by passing all of the rainbow’s outer colors. 

What lies past purple going inward?

What can’t we see?

I stared at this gem that appears when the elements of fire (sun) and water mix into the element of air seemingly right into the element of earth’s horizon. 

The purple color starts to go within. 

Going within is the key. It’s the path to something deeper, meaningful and what isn’t just a mirage or hologram, but what is real and we can’t see or detect with our eyes. 

We can all go within and quiet the mind of excuses, fears, worries, selfish desires, etc to find the right answer to anything. The answer that is ultimately right for the world, not just the human who is asking. 

Those fears, excuses, desire, etc are the other “colors” you need to pass through in order to find the peace within. 

The place within where field or maybe plane of existence of the personal self does not matter. What matters is what is real and what is for the greater good. 

So perhaps the question I wondered about mantras for personal matters vs mantras for others was right there in the rainbow. It is the bridge between personal self and greater good. I can do mantra to seek my own higher consciousness, which is ultimately for the greater good. Or I can chant with others in community for the greater good. 

It all works if the intention is to leave all the material and selfish behind and pray for peace and harmony for all. 

ALL. 

Regardless of species, race, skin or hair color, or beliefs anyone was taught. 

If you truly truly go within, you too will know that none of anything material or visible matters if what you wish for others is what you want for yourself. 

Just some of my deeper thoughts this morning. 

Namaste

Chinese New Year and the Magic of Your Thoughts

Last year right around this time a trip to the post office may have changed my life.

I was online and noticed a sign for stamps celebrating Chinese New Year. I picked up my phone to look up the date. Friday, February 12, 2021. I wondered why Chinese New Year wasn’t based on the calendar. 

Later, at home, I popped that very question into Google. I learned Chinese New Year was based on the new moon and I read quite a bit about the traditions and celebration.

Still, I wondered – Why this time of year

A few days later during my morning meditation routine I had some interesting thoughts. 

This time last year I set an intention during my morning meditation to quit drinking. I would do some EFT (tapping) and imagine burning up the energies getting in the way of doing so.

For the New Year of 2021 I placed a Shiva statue on my meditation table and switched my daily mala mantra to “Om Namah Shivaya”. I also placed a wooden sign I painted above the door frame of my meditation space with this same mantra.

Each morning felt fresh and new. I optimistically thought “Today is the day I don’t drink”. By mid-day I’d decide to drink, but that would be the last day. It was a futile merry go round and I couldn’t seem to make it stop and find where the exit back into the amusement park was.

I needed a push. I chose Shiva for that push. Stick with me about why… 

In yoga teacher training I learned a little about Hinduism and the 3 main deities of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They are the Creator, Sustainer, and Destroyer. In Ayruveda they can be likened to Spring, Summer and Fall/Winter. 

Shiva destroys the season of summer each year and ushers in Fall, then Winter. At some point Brahma takes over and creation starts over. Spring begins. Simple enough concept. 

This particular morning of 2/8 on my meditation cushion, I looked up at this piece I created in 2019.  It may literally look like “Chinese” to anyone but me – however; it represents my own conglomeration of beliefs/knowledge regarding Taoism, Hinduism, Ayurveda, the seasons, the directions of the earth, time, and the color wheel. 

I thought about Shiva and my question of why Chinese New Years falls during this time of year.

And while looking at my art I saw how I incorporated the 3 primary colors with the 3 Ayurvedic doshas into 4 seasons. 

Was there is a distinct point in which Spring really begins and Winter ends? A time when Shiva’s work ends and Brahma’s begins? How could it not be at this very time of year? 

While the ground is frozen and the leaves are long gone, it’s only 3 or so weeks away from crocuses coming up. Clearly flowers can’t pop up above ground without some underground work below right?

Buds are already on the trees at the Equinox. 

Mother Nature silently begins her work as the days become noticeably longer but it’s still very much winter. 

She must start around now. And why not with a mid-winter New Moon? Seems like good timing to me! Perhaps that is when the bulk of Shiva’s work is “done” for the season. 

Still with my conglomerate story? 

Shiva is a “destroyer” but simultaneously/alternatively known as a change agent or transformer. When Shiva is involved, it is apparent.

In this famous statue, Shiva is shown dancing. He is known as the cosmic dancer. Stomping and keeping the beat of the universe moving. The stomping and dancing represent moving things along, transforming life and matter, keeping it all going and preventing it all from being stuck. 

It’s why I was meditating and attempting to tap into this energy.

Side Note: In Christianity – Do you know who else is known as the Lord of the Dance?

This particular Monday morning of 2/8 I lamented on how another weekend went by and I did not stop drinking. Chinese New Year was that Friday 2/12. A new start, a new beginning. I would stop by that Friday with the Chinese New Year NO MATTER WHAT.  

I went through my morning routine: meditate, tap, mantra; with the strong intention of quitting the drink woven in.  

Be careful what you wish for. And even more importantly how you wish for it. 

That Friday did not arrive, at least not in the way I had planned. I wanted to stop by then and by golly some forces came in like a lion and made darn good certain that by Friday I was not to be drinking.

I drank that Monday. Forces were with me. There were four very irritating things taking place around me; four really tough things that would irritate and worry just about anyone.

Did I face them? No I didn’t. I drank instead. 

So what happened?

I lost my mind. I had a strong and violent PTSD episode. It wasn’t the first time. I had a lovely trip to the Emergency Room until the wee hours of the night because I was simply unable to stop hyperventilating in an elevated panic attack. 

It was on a gurney in the middle of the night on the morning of 2/9/21 at Yale New Haven Hospital, by myself. In the middle of a pandemic with a mask on and the future unknown in every way. 

I KNEW what had happened wouldn’t have happened if I did not drink. I couldn’t drink anymore. There can’t be any more “tomorrows” when I’ll quit. It had to happen now. Not Friday. NOW. I looked up a service I kept seeing on TV during my soap opera where they come into your home to help you with addiction issues. I put in a request for information and I began enrollment the next day.

The next few days and weeks were an absolute mess. I made a mess of my life. I didn’t live in my house again until April. My husband and I didn’t live together again until June. 

It was the worst of times.

It was the best of times. 

I prayed for a Shiva-like intervention. A Shiva like intervention is what I got.

It’s not how I would have imagined I’d get there, but it happened.

I don’t know if anything else would have given me pause to really self-reflect and evaluate where I was in my life, how I’d gotten there, and to really acknowledge and own the mistakes I made along with way.  

I knew the moment I made the absolute decision to quit that no matter what came next, things would be better even if everything fell apart and my future life would be unrecognizable. 

“All of these things make me who I am”

On the one hand my whole life, every decision I made and experiences I lived through led me to where I was (the bottle). On the other hand, in trying to quit and going to therapy and learning about PTSD with the intention to become a better person for the prior 10+ years; I felt I had been training for this moment for a long time. 

I’d learned and understood deeply before then that life goes on and everything happens for a reason. I learned how to meditate and breath through it. I knew where to look for resources, who in my life would be helpful, how to fall asleep in the face of pain and how to channel the influx of both good and bad overwhelming energy into something creative. 

I knew from mistakes past that I had to stop and rest when my body called for it. I knew I had to forgive myself when I really took the veil off about how I had hurt others. While it hurt to know, see and feel this pain, I knew ultimately it was ok because I had faith and know my creator doesn’t make mistakes. I was not supposed to be in any other place in space or time other than where I was.

It wasn’t AS easy as I am writing it out to sound. But it was easier than I thought. I knew no matter what happened that I would be ok, and eventually even better. I had preferences on what I would have liked and put the intentions out there. But I was careful to also put out the intention to accept whatever did happen, especially if it is ultimately for my own good.

Good things happened to a handful of others in my immediate circle as well. Based on some of the realizations and choices I made, others were able to ultimately respond to me in healthier ways and evaluate themselves with a new set of eyes.

If I expanded what I just wrote to those I have met in the past year from various recovery avenues; I have been unbelievably inspired and have been told that I have inspired many others too.

While not quite a picnic, everything that transpired put me and my loved ones in a more enlightened and accepting place. 

There are some folks in my outer circle who might not see it that way, but I trust in the powers that be that if those individuals were willing to look, there is a gem in there for them to uncover as well. Something we were meant to bump into one another for to better ourselves and each other in some form.

The Coelho’s The Alchemist, the boy searches the world for the treasure, only to learn it’s been within the whole time. One of my favorite lines from that book is: 

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” 
 Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Thank you Shiva? 

However, the universe will not give you what you want directly. It will provide for you the intention that you have behind that desire. 

If your intentions are less than desirable, selfish, or towards only your kind/posse/etc, that will come to you just as it was put out. The Lord’s Prayer tells us this in the line: 

“And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. 

You will only get from the universe what you give. 

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” 
 Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

If you strive to become better – and your intentions are pure, you will see how clearly this plays out and notice how you are creating your own life with your own thoughts. 

It’s TRICKY. Pure doesn’t mean “I want to be rich”. Being rich means someone else loses or you have more than others. That isn’t pure and even if it happens, it will not manifest in ways that feel good. 

While tricky, little can go wrong if you are good and have respectable intentions. Also, it is important to be and be clear about what you want, because as you vacillate the universe is equally vacillating in giving it to you. 

I learned a lot this past year. Especially how I can enjoy life more by controlling my thinking which is so much easier when it is never clouded by alcohol. 

My life is different, but you’d hardly notice. Good and bad things can and will always happen. But it has been easier as I learn and remember to accept what is and I’m not pining and wishing for it to be any different. 

While I still may instinctively want things another way – I need to know that I really don’t want it any other way. What happens as my response to it – that is ALL on me. 

Namaste. 

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Who in the World is “Modern” Technology for?

I’m on a tear about technology today. It started this morning at work when I was asked to make two calendars from one my work group has on our SharePoint. Simple enough right? Make a new calendar, put what is needed on the new one and delete that same content off the old. 

But no. It’s not that simple. 

Without going into all kinds of boring details there’s no longer a button to click to create a new calendar (which by the way was hidden & knowing how to find that one was a feat in & of itself). 

Now there are new apps that don’t even have names that a normal human would know what they are. After a time too long to admit, I found a ‘calendar looking’ app. I went to click on it, and was asked to request access. At that point I was provided a link where I could check the status of my request. 

About 10 minutes later I get an email from an IT link about my calendar looking app request. The app was not yet approved; but I received another link to a page with help to find apps. There I learn that there is a link to the “Classics”. The classics are documents, calendars, announcements, group chats… The classics? You mean what real living and breathing employees use? Am I that old? 

I just can’t with this stuff. 

I thought I finally learned how to work my “Smart” TV. I know what the remotes do and how to add & delete apps, subscribe to channels, etc. Things my older family members and siblings have yet to figure out. Maybe my kids have, but I’m not so sure. However, when I went to watch a few purchased Holiday videos a few weeks back I learned that Fandango where I bought them was sold to some other company. I spent about an hour trying to get to my old account and figure out passwords and where to find “purchased content”. I never found it. We just ended up watching what was free. 

What was so wrong with purchasing content that you can hold in your hand and keep in your cabinet? I still don’t know what happened to the movies I paid for. 

My car is a 2017 Prius. It has a touch screen and built-in navigation that never seems to work. Or when I do get the nav to work, I can’t seem to ever turn off the route. Every button, every option, every possible thing… and there is no “End Route” or equivalent. Sometimes the built in Siri works, sometimes not. I don’t even know 80% of what my car is capable of. And this car came out 6 years ago! I don’t even want to think about what a 2022 model can do that I’d never know after having it for 5 years. 

Every time I go into my husband’s car (Telsa) I can’t even find the place to press the “Esterina” button because new updates moved it. 

I look around and I don’t see many people smarter than me using all these features and things with ease. 

When I do figure things out, they don’t seem to work. 

I programmed Alexa to go through a morning routine, but the news app I chose always cut out mid report. At first Alexa finished the routine, but then she stopped. I checked the programming and it was all still the same. I changed the news source and the same thing happened – worked for a few days then the news source stopped mid briefing the routine ended.  

I can’t tell you how many times I went to play a song or album I KNOW I bought but it’s disappeared from my iTunes.

Family Share works terribly. The apps my husband or I purchase and try to share never come over to the other phone. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get his music. What is the family share even for? It says it does these things, but they either don’t work or we can’t figure them out after spending inornate amounts of time trying. 

We had a smart oven for a short bit of time. The buttons were so sensitive that if your sleeve brushed against it while grabbing a pot the whole thing would turn off. One of our cats constantly walked across the stove and turned it on. Luckily there was a lock feature, but the “Smart” part of the oven doesn’t work when the lock is on. I can’t tell you why we bought a smart stove. You need to link Alexa through 3rd party apps to it, and it worked at best half the time.

Same with our “smart” lights. We use GoSund. They continually unlink from the programming. When you just want to turn on the light and say “#?!*&” to the programming, they blink uncontrollably. They are unusable as just an ordinary light at that point. So –  it’s either the dark or pull out the phone and spend 5-10 minutes figuring out what went wrong. 

We have a Wi-Fi enable dryer. I have no idea how to use it with the Wi-Fi or what I’d use it for.

1,001 very cool things have been made by me or others at work in the past 10-12 years. Things that make people’s lives easier. BUT almost all have become undone due to updates, websites that moved, or macros that broke. I spend way too much of my time trying to figure out what someone who left the organization did in the background to fix something someone relied upon that stopped working. 

Even here – on Word Press where I am writing this blog I’m befuddled. It seems like each time I get on things moved or have a new name. I have been using this platform since 2015 and all I know how to do is post a blog. I know Word Press can do so many super things, but when I start to read about them or try to figure them out I run into so many walls I just give up and need to put the computer in another room.

This just isn’t cool. This is all a colossal waste of time. The world is getting too complicated and regular people can’t (and don’t want to) keep with the changes forced upon us. Can we just cool it already? 

Competition creates more and more and faster and faster – for what? Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Similar to the industrial revolution and the assembly line. Simply because we can make a million widgets an hour, doesn’t mean we should. But we did, and then we created a whole new discipline called marketing to encourage people to buy what they didn’t need. Then they needed to work harder and longer to pay for the unnecessary widgets. This is the part of history that most of us were born into and accept blindly without question.

Life didn’t get better because we have homes triple the size with quadruple the number of possessions. We should learn from the past and take a break from making things that make no sense. Technology advances for consumers does not work well yet. The population hasn’t caught up to what is out there, and the programmers have not figured out the bugs. I wish the techies of this world would stop creating and just focus on making what we already have better for a while. 

I know humans thrive on creation and Henry Ford famously said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”. However there are one too many creators, none of them collaborate, and we have one big hot mess going on. Let’s be creative with making the status quo actually work. Henry Ford made the car, not a spaceship. It seems like we need the equivalent to cars in our lives, not spaceships things we have no use for.

Honestly – If I am an upper-middle class citizen with a Masters degree in a first world country that happens to be in a pocket of humans that can figure out technology faster than my 20 something year old adult children and faster than my parent’s generation – I beg to ask the question, who or what on are we advancing consumer technology for?

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On the Secret Life Around Us

Last weekend my husband and I had a smaller, pandemic approved sized gathering for our annual Swedish Smorgasbord. A good friend of mine brought a Christmas cactus as a hosting gift. I left it on my counter that evening, transplanted it to a permanent pot the next day and assigned it a temporary space until the holiday decorations come down and it will be placed in it’s new home.

I went about my life for the next few days and this morning there were two new blooms. 

Yawn huh? 

But no. That little beauty which looks inanimate is working full time at this moment to bloom for this time of year. This plant’s whole existence is to make these flowers around right now. 

I love this Albert Einstein quote.

I love being mindful. When I am, it is simply amazing to realize there is a secret life all around us that we often don’t acknowledge.

The plants. The trees. Animals. Our own pets. 

They are living beings just like we are and are carrying out their life’s purpose.

Do you have a tree up for the holidays? Is it live? It is carrying out it’s purpose. 

I just wanted to take the smallest of moments to appreciate life. All life. Even when we are not paying attention (almost always!), life is carrying on and doing it’s thing. Life doesn’t care who we are. We have almost no control of anything outside of us. These things at least seem to know it better than us. These things are all around us reminding us that we have no control and that life really is a miracle should we chose to see it that way. 

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On Surrender

Hearing the word invokes an image in my mind of a person on the ground with a hand up, holding a white flag with one hand using whatever energy they have left to wave it. It also reminds me of many times as a kid playing board games with my brother Mario where one of us was winning so far ahead of the other that the loser decided to surrender, to not waste any more time playing a “losing hand”.

 

The word always felt like defeat to me, but now I see it differently. I view the word as honesty, truth, and innate beauty. 

 

As I described it above, surrender can also mean not wasting any more time. Surrender can mean being honest about what isn’t working and accepting what really is. Why waste time doing what isn’t working? Why not be honest about the situation and go from there? 

 

I subscribe to Richard Rohr’s daily meditation. Each week is themed. This week’s focus is on Spirituality and Addiction. Today’s meditation is about surrender. In it he writes “Surrender is the strongest, most subversive thing you can do in this world. It takes strength to admit you are weak, bravery to show you are vulnerable…”. 

 

There were two days earlier this March where I “surrendered” and literally felt a physical shift due to a change in my mental thoughts. A shift so powerful that it tangibly exhausted me. 

 

The first was a day while I was living alone in East Haven and coming to grips with a pending divorce and newly achieved sobriety. I picked up a Dialectical Behavior Ttherapy (DBT) workbook that I hadn’t touched but owned for a few years. I decided to do some exercises in this book each day. I was a few days in when I came upon the term “radical acceptance”. I was performing the radical acceptance exercises and was challenged to fully accept my current situation. I looked around and cried. I didn’t want to. I could NOT accept where I was at that moment in time. But I wanted very badly to experience radical acceptance, as there were so many benefits to doing so.

 

I closed the book and contemplated this. It felt like an angel and devil on my opposite shoulders as my mind shifted back and forth about whether or not to accept my situation. At some point about ten minutes into a mix of contemplation and crying, the angel suddenly made perfect sense when she said “But it’s where you are!”. 

 

It occurred to me that whether or not I accepted it, it IS where I am. Why am I not just accepting that this IS my reality at this moment in time? Whether or not I accept it, it doesn’t change a single thing. 

 

I’m going to write that again – Whether I “accept” it or not; it doesn’t change a single thing. 

 

I’m still where I am. So why not surrender to accepting my actual reality? When I realized this; if there was a visual of two parts of me that were in conflict; one literally faded into oblivion while the other filled in what just left. In the next minute or two I began to feel whole; lighter, and open. A physical shift materially took place once I changed my mind and surrendered.

 

In A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson says, “Until your knees finally hit the floor, you’re just playing at life, and on some level you’re scared because you know you’re just playing. The moment of surrender is not when life is over. It’s when it begins.” 

 

The next moment for me was about a week later. It was a dark early evening on a Sunday night when I just had to get out of the apartment where I was staying. I left – with nothing but my wallet and phone and drove off. It was cold and I didn’t know where to go. I suddenly had the desire to just write. I drove over to Walgreens and purchased a notebook. I grabbed a pen from my glovebox and a blanket from my trunk and sat on the town green with the light of my phone. I put the phone on airplane mode and just started to write. And write. And write.

 

I wrote about “poor me”. I wrote about how my kids and husband would tell me these things about myself that “weren’t true”. I stopped. I thought about what I had just written and I thought about radical acceptance. Again, I had an angel and devil on my shoulders in conflict. What they said was not true, I thought, but should I accept it? I remembered surrendering the week before to my reality and thought about surrendering to this. I cried. I didn’t want to, but this time it was easier to imagine just accepting this, to explore it completely, and perhaps write about it. 

 

So I put pen to paper and shifted my thoughts to how this was their reality and wrote. And wrote, and wrote, and wrote… Until it occurred to me that there was truth in what they were saying. Whether or not I liked it didn’t matter. This is what they experienced and it was true despite why or how it came to be. The explanations didn’t matter- it all happened. I radically accepted this. 

 

It happened, and whether or not they want to accept what my reality was or why, I needed to accept my part in it wholly. And I did. In a very distinct moment I didn’t care anymore when, why or how; I understood them and understood it all completely.

 

At the time my son was off from his job on paid leave because of a COVID outbreak at the place he works and was staying with my husband. I decided to write him a letter explaining that I understood him and understood everything he has told me 100% inside and out. I wrote my heart out. I wanted to write a letter to my husband too but my energy had waned, so I decided to just rip out the pages that I wrote and share with him my thoughts and how they had shifted to an understanding of him. I added a few lines to explain why I was sharing and made the decision to drive the letters over and leave them in the mailbox.

 

By this time it was fairly late in the evening. I felt so amazing. Lighter. Freer. I went into Stop & Shop to buy them some cookies I was obsessed with at the time and I drove over to my old neighborhood. I saw the trash and recycling bins out front since it was Sunday night, and for the briefest moment I felt jealous that I didn’t live there and wasn’t part of putting out the trash. But more so I immediately felt radical acceptance that I didn’t live there and I imagined a world where I’d be in a new place with maybe a different trash pick-up day; and alone and even dare I say… happy? 

 

I was able to surrender. I was able to accept my circumstances. And you know what? I was really ok with it! 

 

I put the letters in the mailbox and sent my son and husband a text. I drove home in an almost bliss-like state. I felt light, tired, and hungry. Really hungry! I saw a McDonalds sign and craved a Big Mac! I hadn’t eaten meat in a very long time, but my body was just spent and I just wanted something highly caloric and comforting.

 

Surrendering never tasted or felt so good.

 The first of the 12 Steps of Recovery is to admit we are powerless. I first learned of the 12 steps on a spiritual Podcast around 2014. The speaker convinced me that every single one of us is addicted to something (drugs, drink, tv, shopping, money, obsessive thought patterns, etc) and that the first step is to admit powerlessness. Is that really different from surrender or radical acceptance?  

The moment I let go and opted to understand, somehow it gave others around me permission to do the same. The universe knew what needed to be done. When we admit where we are and our part in it, miracles happen. The happiness behind it just pours out because there is nothing, not a single story, holding it back. It’s acceptance of the present moment. Radical acceptance. It’s surrender.  Surrender changed everything and every important relationship in my life. 

 

Fast forward several months down the line. Daren and I have never been more understanding of one another. We renewed our vows a few weeks ago. We wrote our own to one another. I referenced the song “Moment of Surrender” by U2 and read out loud the portion 

 

The stone was semi-precious
We were barely conscious
Two souls too smart to be
In the realm of certainty
Even on our wedding day

 

10 years before on our wedding day we were like two robots going about in the world doing things that adults do because it’s what adults do. As the years passed I started to spiritually wake up and perhaps took him with me. We are now so aware and conscious of what our biases were; how they played a role in our history and what we do in the present moment. 

 

“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are” Stephen Covey

Don’t we all perceive things based on our own knowledge and circumstances? Couldn’t it perhaps do us good to know what our biases are so when we assess a situation we know our perspective and can imaginatively consider ways others see this same thing? The only way to do this is to surrender to the knowledge that we have biases in the first place. We are attached or addicted to the way we think or want something to be. Accepting it is freeing. Don’t we all want to be free and feel ok with life as it is? 

Later in U2’s song the lyrics state: 

I’ve been in every black hole
At the altar of the dark star
My body’s now a begging bowl
That’s begging to get back, begging to get back
To my heart
And to the rhythm of my soul
And to the rhythm of my unconsciousness
To the rhythm that yearns
To be released from control

 

Our bodies want that freedom. Once you experience surrender it’s hard to come to grips with that fight in you anymore because you know what is on the other side and it’s so much better to just let go and accept life as it is. If you fight this and you are aware of yourself, as Bono sings, you can actually feel your body begging to get back to that open good place where love and the soul accept life on life’s terms. The Marianne Williamson quote above is from A Return to Love. Because surrendering brings you to love.

I will not pretend that I don’t forget this a lot. But I can tell you that once you do, you know freedom and once you do, it’s far easier to do it again and again. I’m not saying this is easy, but I can promise you it is worth it.  

 

I’m going to end this blog with the refrain (below) which reminds me of the Safire Rose Poem “She Let Go”. Only you know when you surrender. The world goes on. The moon shines, and you – you are FREE.

 

At the moment of surrender
I folded to my knees
I did not notice the passers-by
And they did not notice me

 

 

Namaste

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