You don’t have to have a mental illness to kill yourself, you only need to be hopeless.

I know a ton of people who at one point in their life have been a hair away from wanting to end it all. Life is hard and as we evolve, we aren’t necessarily preparing ourselves with worthy armor.  We spend too much time trying to please our ego driven goals which most of the time leads us to disappointment.

This became evident to me when I read one of Eckart Tolle’s books years ago.  He says, ” We attach ourselves to a story, i.e., I’m on this earth to entertain people at all costs, if that doesn’t exist, I have no identity, no worth“.  This is an ego driven story. Sometimes, the story is very detrimental to our life and health. Spiritual work teaches us that our stories can be very damaging to our health but our ego addiction is very strong and this creates a big conflict within us.  We know it’s wrong, but we get weak, we need the attention, we need the fix, and we do it again, we regret it.. thus creating a cycle of self loathing.  We disappoint ourselves, we disappoint people we love. We get to a point where we just don’t think we are capable of figuring this out.  We are hopeless.

You don’t have to have a mental illness to kill yourself, you only need to be hopeless. The real question here is, how do we get out of hopelessness or better yet, how do we prevent ourselves from getting there to begin with? I have hit many lows in my life and I can only share what has helped me regain focus.  Hopefully some or all of these will remind you of what you should be focusing on and what may lead you to despair.

  • Stop chasing false Gods
  • Understand what your ego is driving and who the real essence of you is
  • Stay away from toxic situations and people
  • Stop looking outward for approval and validation
  • Be strong with your convictions
  • Fight for yourself
  • Learn to see the best parts of you and work on the not so great parts
  • Get spiritual, get intuitive, understand  who you are and what your demons are
  • Get Disciplined
  • Change your environment
  • Change your friends
  • Stop trying to control everything
  • Let things go
  • Let people love you
  • love those people back
  • be your own kind of beautiful
  • Everyone isn’t going to love you and be ok with that
  • Cherish those who do love you
  • Be kind
  • Be ok with moments of nothing
  • Be ok with moments of loneliness… those are the best times to reflect
  • Cry…cry a lot.
  • Forgive and also ask for forgiveness
  • Be compassionate
  • Let people in
  • Help someone and allow that to fill you with worth
  • Consider what you are contributing to your family and the legacy of the world. Fight harder.
  • and lastly, don’t give up.  I promise you that there are a million people out there who have been where you were and have come out of it and are so happy they stuck it out.

p.s. I am extremely saddened by the suicide of Anthony Bourdain.  There will always be conflicting feelings about suicides. In Buddhism, we are taught to have compassion for those who suffer so much that they see no other alternative but we also understand that when we are consumed with our own value and worth good or bad, that this is ego driven.  Most would characterize that as selfish.  Either way, it is extremely disheartening as so many people admired him and looked up to his achievements.  I sincerely hope his spirit is at peace but that people seek to understand and not relate to see this as an option.

 

 

 

 

 

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When you know better, you do better – Oprah Winfrey

#Life Lessons

I struggled to accept this for a while but I’ve reconciled that the fact that you don’t see my light and my value is really your issue.  Yes it affects me in the short term, but the continued lack of insight on your end will surely bring you to your own demise.  This doesn’t bring me any joy but I release my attachment as I understand this lesson will come to you on it’s own time. The best that I can do for me, is to take the lesson and be better and When you know better, you do better. – Oprah Winfrey

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But what if we were confident in who we were….

#Life Lessons

If we were confident in who we were, we wouldn’t feel threatened by another person’s accomplishments.  So the answer lies within, doesn’t it?  Don’t resent or hate on those around you who have reached some type of success.  Don’t assume it was handed to them.  Just maybe, they worked really hard to get there. Instead, see it as an inspiration.  Allow it to light a fire below you. Go create your own success inside then out. xo

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Why do you think people are so disposable?

I remember the moment I realized that I had been disposing of people so easily. 

A friend of mine invited me to meet her and her new love interest on the terrace of a fancy rooftop in NYC many years ago.  She and I had spent many days and nights discussing the dates we had been on and the kind of dates we wanted to be on.  My friend had been on a date with this specific man a few times and had developed an affinity for him.  She was excited for me to meet him. I may have chatted with him for about 5 minutes and then I turned to her and whispered, you could definitely do better.  I loved this friend very much and her facial reaction nearly crushed me.  She was so disappointed in my superficial observation paired with a disappointment in my failure to find the charm in her date. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I was also heartbroken because I felt like I let her down.

Where did I learn to base someone’s worth merely on a 5 min chat and their appearance? Where did I learn that it was ok to be so insensitive to anyone, no less to someone that I really cared about and respected? Why was this person so disposable after only 5 minutes of chatting?  Was it time to find a new way of thinking?

What you give is what you get.

It seems that I spent a lot of time in my 20’s and early 30’s disposing of men and equally being disposed by men as well. But, what could I expect.  After all, we manifest the kind of experiences we have in our lives by the kind of actions we send out.  To put it simply, if I have the mentality that no one is good enough for me, why would i attract open minded people who see the best in me.  It just wouldn’t happen and if it did happen, it wouldn’t last because a person with a healthy sense of self worth becomes really good at recognizing when someone doesn’t appreciate them. They won’t stick around because they understand it’s not going to help them grow.

Girl, you need to work on yourself!

As I have gotten older, I’ve learned the importance of flexibility, compassion and acceptance whether it be a potential mate or a friend.  It took me a while to build the kind of characteristics that I could respect in myself and unlearn the bad habits and conditioning I had picked up along the way.  I dated a lot of superficial mirror images of myself that left me feeling very empty and disappointed.   It’s not fun to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “girl, you need some work“.  It can be dang scary but working on yourself is the key to improving the relationships around you.

When I finally felt proud of myself, I noticed that I started to attract a different kind of person into my life. I became more confident and gained the courage to say yes and no at the appropriate times.  Sounds like an easy thing to do but for those who don’t have a strong sense of why they are, saying yes seems like the logical way to get people’s approval, to be liked.  However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth because nothing is more powerful than someone who stands on their own not needing the approval of others.

Things I want to remember.

There are always reasons behind our actions.  There is a logical reason why I was so critical, mostly because I was extremely critical of myself.  I never felt good enough in any way and so, how could I see those qualities in others. Not possible.   With a little soul searching we all may begin to uncover the root of our tendencies.

As flawed creatures, the best that we can do is be better when we know we can.  I don’t want to be the kind of person who dismisses someone because they don’t fit a certain mold. I know now that the most interesting people I have met were those that broke molds. I would have missed out on so much if I hadn’t crossed paths with them. So, in closing, let’s promise to remind ourselves that people aren’t disposable, we aren’t disposable.  Let’s practice believing that daily. xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Give more of what you want!

Most of us who have sought spiritual guidance in some way, have heard this saying… ” Give more of what you want”, but what does it really mean?

The other day, a friend of mine was distraught.  she had been having a hard time with someone she worked with and it had been a daily culmination to what would naturally become an explosion of emotions that day.  Now on a normal day, most of us handle explosions quite well, but on a day when we have learned that someone dear to us has been diagnosed with a terminal cancer and then the carefully crafted coffee we made to soothe us was left on the counter and as we are tardily running down the stairs because we went back to get the coffee, we roll our ankle which makes it harder for us to do what we need to do in a day. Well, you get the picture. (insert crazy face 🙁 )

My cup runeth over….

My friend was having that kind of a week, she had reached her threshold.  Imagine a cup under a dripping faucet that hadn’t been emptied and eventually reaches it’s limit and overflows.  I think we forget that we aren’t invincible and we can tell ourselves over and over that we can handle what’s thrown at us, but unless we are refueling and resting, however you do it, we will reach our threshold as well. Our lack of refueling shows itself in many ways, skin conditions, gastritis, hair loss, ulcers, migraines, debilitating panic and anxiety and of course, cancers, etc.  And if it affects our insides, what do you think it does for our relationships around us?  We become intolerant, angry, guarded, close minded, scared, stagnant, anti social, depressed, etc.

The wonderful medicinal properties of love.

My friend had gotten caught up in what we call the drama of it all.  She, being a spiritual person herself prayed to God often for strength but did not tap into her own ability and wisdom to understand that we choose how we want to engage in situations.  So, while her colleague may approach her in a hostile way, it is how we respond that either empowers us or makes us a victim.

What is it in you that is choosing to see the horrible side of this person?

When i was in NY, I attended the Kadampa Center in Chelsea quite often to listen to lectures.  One lesson that resonated with me was when a woman who was in a similar situation as my friend, asked the monk, ” How should I deal with someone I work with who is what I consider a terrible person”?  His response was what is it in you that is choosing to see the horrible side of this person?  What are you bringing to the situation that may give rise or diffuse your encounter with this person?  When I heard his response, I was completely dumbfounded.  What a challenge it is for us to actually send love and maneuver with heart when what we are receiving is the opposite.  I had no idea that we ourselves had that much control over how someone affected us?  I remember thinking how strong you must be to be able to do this. That little lesson helped me so much after that point.

Love is the most valuable fuel in the world.

From time to time, I need to remind myself and on this day, my friend needed that reminder as well. I explained to her that she had the power to use the love that God has put in her heart. It is the biggest and most valuable fuel anyone could ever use against you and the consequence is always positive for you and the other person.  You may not see it right away, but continued acts of kindness will eventually make you a happier, kinder and a more peaceful person.

So, if you want a certain reaction from someone, you need to introduce it to the relationship. You can’t give up when it’s not reciprocated because everyone is on their own path and will learn on their own time but you can certainly plant that seed.  The best part is, by responding in a positive way and not engaging, we avoid the self loathing and guilt that we may experience when we let our tempers get the best of us.  It’s a win-win for everyone.  So, if you want to be treated with kindness, give kindness freely. If you want tolerance, be more patient with others. If you want to encourage someone to listen, listen carefully to what others have to say.  If you want more respect, learn to give respect, etc. xo

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When you know you know and timing is everything….

“She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind.”

Have you read this quote from the book Beloved by Toni Morrison? I’ve never read the book, but I have been drawn to the quotes from this book for as long as I can remember.  I confess, that I don’t know enough about the author or her books, to really give a genuine opinion but I do know that the little that I’ve read certainly touches me in a satisfying place.  This book “Beloved” is one of her greatest masterpieces and the book was made into a movie in 1998 starring Oprah Winfrey.

I mentioned this quote because in terms of the top 10 poetic and romantic responses to the question ” why do you love her?“, I find this response simply beautiful.  But what does it really mean and how does one know?

Timing is everything.

I hated when people told me that…I always felt it was so unromantic.

I remember watching the show Sex in the City in the 90’s and Carrie (the main character played by Sarah Jessica Parker) chased her paramour, Mr. Big (played by Chris Noth) the entire time the show was in syndication. Finally, Carrie was certain that her Mr. Big was the one..and there is a scene where she asks him something like this ” You get to a point in life when you want to stand still with someone, don’t you want to stand still with me? “  Hearing that, made my heart stop because very few ultimatums work out well and I had a feeling, she would be left broken hearted and hear is where that phrase timing is everything, comes into play.  You may have done your internal work and be ready for the next serious phase in your romantic life but there is no guarantee that the person you fall for is at the same place in life.   Everyone grows at their own pace.  I don’t exactly remember Mr. Big’s response,…but I can tell you that it wasn’t what she wanted to hear, as he was not ready to make this decision.

So, how do you know?

You hear it in movies and if you are lucky enough, (sarcasm) you have had someone tell you, When you know you know, and as a person who hates cliches, this response always frustrated me.

Fundamentally, I feel that things must occur in each of our lives to make us ready to receive someone else whole heartedly.  I know you don’t want to hear this, but a lot of internal work has to be done and self awareness definitely needs to be present.  In such a big world, I certainly don’t think that there is just one person out there for us but knowing yourself and what you need to be happy certainly helps you find someone you can build a life with. It will also help you recognize similar characteristics in someone else, so that you aren’t investing your time with someone who will eventually show you signs of non commitment.

That said, here are my 2 cents.

When you look forward to your life, sharing it with someone who shares common goals, interests and beliefs, certainly helps ease your comfort with each other and creates the foundation for you to want to get to know each other.  But after that, I think for most of us, it happens unexpectedly… Suddenly you are with someone, and it’s enjoyable. You’re not finding reasons to bicker and you’re also not struggling for power.  Your goal genuinely becomes to make each other happy because that makes you happy.  You certainly have disagreements, but you apologize even when you don’t know exactly what you’re apologizing for because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter.  You just don’t want to be upset with one another.  You understand that no one is perfect because you have come to your own realization that you, yourself are filled with tons of misconceptions and bad conditioning that occurred prior to meeting them that has absolutely nothing to do with him/her.  So, instead, their imperfections become human and you develop compassion for them.  You develop patience because you yourself knows that you are a working progress and thus, so is he/she.

And finally, your fear of being without this person, becomes stronger than your fear of commitment.  You help each other grow your best parts and through osmosis you develop an understanding of those areas that need improvement.  You develop a deep trust built on vulnerability and you truly inspire each other in the best ways.  It’s not easy, but you are committed to making it work and there is nothing healthier, prosperous or more fulfilling than a good relationship with the one you love. xo

 

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I Cried this Morning at Yoga.

For many of us, yoga was something hippies do. It was a strange practice we knew nothing about but as ignorance always does, we created this story in our head without understanding what it was.  We decided it was weird. We didn’t bother to learn about it.

The day I found out my father was sick, all my years of practicing Buddhist philosophy and yoga certainly helped prepare me.  I had an understanding that life is about impermanence and that we are all a development of our choices.  That we are on our own paths, that we can inspire but not motivate.  That we can and should always lead by example, make decisions with the heart but also not be foolish.

What it didn’t prepare me for is the sadness I would feel for those who didn’t see life that way….who never gained the wisdom to understand that the very thing they used to escape, is what kept them trapped and suffering. In Buddhism, is it called Samsara, the circle of life.  We in a sense trap ourselves by continuing to make the same mistakes that keep us miserable.

My dad, similar to many folks of his generation, used alcohol to escape discomfort, confrontation and emotion.  He protected his heart fiercely from pain and of course beauty.  For you can never have one without the other.  Our parents are supposed to be the wise ones. They are supposed to be the ones who teach us how to overcome, self worth, to believe in your ability to contribute to the world and how to manage life’s very hard obstacles…. but what happens when you keep growing and they don’t?

One morning I woke up and felt absolutely awful.  The air was thick, my head was pounding and it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.  I had two choices…I could lay in bed all day and allow the sadness to swallow me.  I could give in to the pull to drench my spirit and as a result, drench my husbands spirit and anyone around me.  Or I could get up, take a hot shower and make an effort.  I could go to yoga and try my best to release.  I could sincerely try to receive the spirit of yoga which is really about letting go. Letting go of what you cannot change, but also believing in the power of compassion.

And so, that morning for the first time, I really used yoga to my advantage. I closed my eyes when it was safe and allowed the tears to fall down my cheeks.  I know what you’re thinking, how sad, but I can tell you, that it felt the exact opposite way.  With every movement and every exhale,  I let go of the need to save my father. For weeks, it felt like I was a dam holding a ton of water and suddenly, I was able to just lift the dam and the dam was me.   All that pressure, the elephant that had been sitting on my chest for a few weeks, got up and walk away.  The air thinned a bit and I felt a slight sense of relief. Enough relief for me to know that I had made some progress.

After that day, I immersed myself in prayer, meditation and spiritual practice for weeks.  During his last 2 weeks, I spent every morning with my father…present, crying when I needed to and accepting that this is part of life.  When he left us, I prayed that he had made peace with his shortcomings for most of us have some guilt we carry that serves us no purpose.

Yoga gives us permission to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings. It gives us an opportunity to pause, and give our minds a break from chaos.  Yoga made me cry that morning and has since made me cry a few more times and every time it has happened, a huge amount of pressure is lifted from my shoulders and I walk just a little bit lighter that day.

Wishing you peace to your heart. xo

 

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In 2018, when it get’s hard, let’s push through.

Just like the emotions of falling in love, the sense of spiritual transformation can feel quite new and scary each time you experience it.  Falling in love and spiritual transformation can happen as many times as we seek them, as long as we are open to it.

However, what I find most fascinating is that when we embark on a new path, we tend to forget how hard it is to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and to accept the blessings we seek. We panic and think we can’t do this, this isn’t for us, we tend to throw the towel in too soon. Sometimes, it’s easier to stay miserable then to try for something.

Love and Transformation

I feel sick. Physically sick but not from any food that didn’t agree with me.  It’s a sick that I can’t take tums for.  I’m paranoid from the moment  I wake up to the moment I fall asleep; just waiting for someone to pull the rug up from under me and this temporary feeling that I actually deserve something wonderful will be ripped from me.  I constantly second guess myself and what it is that I am seeking.   I’m confused, lonely and the most random things can spiral me out of control or bring me to tears.  I have moments of weakness and make bad choices. 

The Buddhist Nun Pema Chodron would say that our hardest struggles are the signs that you are transforming because living in stagnation takes no effort. Sound familiar? Welcome to the feeling of falling in love or personal transformation. It’s certainly not easy but it’s definitely personally rewarding.

Fake it until you make it.

Who hasn’t heard this saying. It’s similar to the line, “Dress for the position you want, not the position your in”.   The understanding is that if we surround ourselves with the same wisdom we have, there is no inspiration to grow, we get comfortable.  But if we seek wisdom via any medium; people, books, therapy, podcasts, etc, we expose ourselves to growth.

In the literal sense, the word fake means inauthentic but in this context, I would say that it means pushing through the uncomfortable parts and not giving up at the first sign of fear or challenge.  It means that you practice it before you believe it.  You read about it before you understand it.  You trust. You sleep on it.  You try not to panic. You allow yourself to be open.  All of this is ok and necessary because it means you are one step closer to whatever it is you seek.

Sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to allow something wonderful to happen.  We must learn to relinquish control, to lose ego and to not be so stuck to stories embedded in us long ago.  The roots of these stories are old and it’s time to plant new seeds.  I love this quote from the movie, Eat Pray Love, “To lose balance sometimes for love is part of living a balanced life.”  You must be ok with moments of unease and discomfort.  Trust that they will pass.

So, in light of the New Year coming upon us, I ask that you be open to transformation, whether it be love, adventure, or a spiritual path that will help you and encourage a healthier mind, body and soul.   I strongly encourage you to push through. Practice, practice, practice and push through.  Surround yourself with those who have excelled at this, you will need all the support you can get! XO

 

Photos are from a photography yoga session with Lauren Prince, local friend and yogi on St. Simons Island, Ga.

 

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The power to affect your Faith lies within you.

What exactly does it mean to have faith?

A quick look up on the internet will tell you ” it is a strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof ” 

My biggest challenge with this definition is that it takes the power away from me or you from being able to influence our future.  That just doesn’t sit well with me.  Can we influence our fate?  I would most certainly like to believe that we can.

While enjoying a delicious latte this morning, I read a wonderful Buddhist article on this exact topic that put into words what I had been thinking but could not quite articulate until now.

When our faith comes from wisdom, insight and understanding, it sets us on a path with fruitful results . 

I guess I am not a believer in blind faith.  I truly believe that in order to have any influence on our future,  we must have a history of putting into certain practices, that which would align us with a certain goal or desire that we see for ourselves in the future.  In other words, we have to do the work, be prepared and then pursue our goals.  Quoting the definition of faith from my text this morning  pretty much solidified that for me;” Faith is the confidence we receive when we put into practice a teaching that helps us overcome difficulties and obtain some transformation.  How wonderful to know that we can affect our faith.

Preparing for a presentation is what we should do, attaching ourselves to the outcome is not. So, the goal would be, to prepare for the presentation and have faith that we did our best and be at peace with that.  

This may be a difficult concept to absorb because coming short on something you have prepared for will understandably disappoint you but don’t let it derail you.  When we are steadfastly focused on one goal, we tend to miss the opportunities around it.   Sometimes, we focus on goals that someone else has set for us. Sometimes we haven’t really given much thought to what it is that will make us happy.  Being open to the possibilities brings us closer to founding out what will truly make us happy.

We relinquish any attachment to the outcome because if we know we tried our best, we must learn that that is enough.  

Ideally, if I can combine both of these definitions, I would say that having faith is being empowered that with proper and diligent practice, we have the ability to reflect change in our future and trust that God will guide us along the way.

Now this is something I can work with! xo

Based on one of the Five Powers, Faith. Inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh.

 

 

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Mama told me, even the brightest stars fall from the sky. 

Mama told me, even the brightest stars fall from the sky. 

She would tell me this every now and again and I didn’t really grasp it until I got older.

We have these fleeting moments of success or what we think is success and we quickly forget the struggle. We gloat, we walk with our heads so high and our nose tilted up, that we forget what hard work looked like and smelled like.

We fill our minds with superficial ideas of success not grasping that the road to this kind of success is a never ending climb on an infinite staircase.  We surround ourselves with like minded people who don’t care about you but only about what you can do for them but we don’t grasp this concept. We think we have moved up…but have we?

Eventually, we start to fall for various reasons.  We can’t keep up with the pace, no matter what we do, we are never satisfied, never happy.  That superficial high has left us feeling empty, hollow and hopeless with nothing substantial or intrinsic to feel worthy about.  We thought we were working towards something that would make us proud, but somehow it doesn’t and that in itself is a huge let down.

We have lost our essence in an effort to fit in and then we realize that everyone around us is on their own path trying to grasp this same concept.  So this whole time, we have been trying to fit into an environment that is just as delusional as we are.

Share the sky among the beautiful stars.

Stay humble and stay close to the pulse of humanity because it is the only way you can be truly affected by the beauty and kindness of the world. It is the only way you can have an effect on the world and make a positive difference in the lives of others.

The wonderful blessing about adding value to the lives of others, is that it consequently increases your self worth.  With a healthy self worth, your ability to handles life’s challenges increases tremendously.  Appreciate your earned success physically but more importantly, build substance within you, and honor and strive for personal growth.

xo

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