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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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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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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Shelly taught me Self Acceptance….

Shelly taught me Self Acceptance.

When I was about 26, I worked in Fashion, I guess you would say a very superficial world (although today, there are many brands that are eco-friendly, conscious and responsible), back then, that wasn’t so much the case or at least not to my knowledge. This was a world that I thought I would love for it’s creativity yet to my dismay, turned out to be much less creative than I had ever imagined.  In College, you’re told to be open and inventive, the skies the limit.  I left my university totally unprepared for the challenges that lay before me and after 5 years of working my way up, I finally made it into a design office.  I thought this was what I wanted, but 8 months later, I quickly realized that there wasn’t much creativity in design when you are working for someone else and pursuing their ideas.  Nonetheless, while I worked in fashion, I met many personalities, some who fit right in and some who clearly were trying to fit into a hole that was a different shape.

Here I met Shelly. Shelly was in her early 30’s and she was a bigger gal who struggled to fit in with the average size 6 fashion scene of that time.  She was kind with beautiful wavy red hair and porcelain skin that flushed easily.  She always second guessed herself, and with every defeated word she let out, she convinced those around her that she had nothing significant to offer and so for the most part, everyone believed that.  I could see this was happening and I felt sad for her.

One day, Shelly and I had lunch as we did on occasion. She was about to have gastric bypass surgery because her weight made her very insecure and she felt that fitness routines were unsuccessful.  I tried to discourage her from having such a dangerous surgery as much as I could then one day she said, ‘Do you know what it’s like to not ever feel comfortable in your own skin?”  I did know what it was like, I had felt that way, not every day, but sometimes, in certain scenarios, around certain people. I just had no idea how to put it into words until I heard her say it.  At 26, I wasn’t wise enough to really understand what I felt was a lack of self-acceptance and I know now, that this is what Shelly felt.  Many of us learn to see flaws before we see strengths. When you train yourself to do this for so long, undoing it is a bit of fete.

Adversity: It’s not whether you will face it, it’s how you will face it when you do.

How can you avoid negative or bad circumstances? How can you avoid pain? You can’t.  It’s impossible to not face a negative or painful circumstance at some point in your life. Broken hearts aren’t assigned to the naughty people and in a competitive world, everyone has felt let down, hurt, sad, ashamed, less down or not good enough, etc.  The most important and healthy thing you will learn in life is that how you relate to situations will either make or break your day and for that matter, your life.  This is what separates us from each other and the reason why some become inspiring and some become defeated.  It’s not whether you will face it, it’s how you will face it when you do.

Shelly felt defeated at that point in time and I have felt defeated more times than I can count as I am sure you have.  Her response was to become skinny by having surgery so that she could fit in because she did not have the wisdom to understand that she didn’t have to fit into that unwelcoming fashion world. There was no doubt in my mind that if Shelly just made peace with herself, that she would have found another fantastic group of people that she meshed with harmoniously.  She didn’t understand that the story she attached to herself was probably someone else’s story and that she could easily change hers and that once she fought through the scary parts, it would actually feel good to stop pretending you are someone you’re not.

When someone asked the Dalai Llama how he got rid of his guilt, he said “I didn’t, I just learned not to let it weigh me down”.

Similar to guilt, pain, anger, resentment that is not dealt with, has a way of keeping us from moving forward.  In Buddhism, it is said that one is stuck in Samsara, i.e., the process of repeating the same mistakes, suffering and never learning the lesson. We keep hitting the wall instead of changing direction.  The worst part is that many of us are ignorant to this.

Understand your anger, sit with your pain, reckon with your guilt, learn from it and perhaps be a source of hope for someone else.  That would be the biggest gift you could give someone.  In no way would I ever say forget the hard parts, the sad moments, the challenging times because we need those just as much as the successes.

“to someone who has never fallen in love, you cannot prove that such a phenomena exists” and yet, we all know it does

I can only tell you that it gets easier with lots of reading and practice and then one day, you are just different and the weight on your shoulders isn’t as heavy.  You want to help other people get more peaceful because their pain becomes so transparent to you. You begin to identify the things that you can affect and you move on those and the ones you can’t affect, you try your best to not let them steal your spirit.  Things just don’t bother you as much and people sometimes mistake that for aloofness, not caring or ignoring. It’s actually the opposite. The more spiritual and peaceful I become, the more I care about everyone and everything but I also learn to not attach to expectations, not because I am going to be disappointed, but because I don’t want to limit the possibilities. I also learn to love but not control and to understand that sometimes I may not agree with what someone else’s doing, but I trust that it is their path and their lessons to learn.  Life doesn’t get easier, but you as a person get stronger.

So, Buddhism acknowledges that the world is full of delusions but it is also full of beauty.  My good friend is an avid reader and loves theology and he explained it in a great way one day to me. He said, “God is in everything”. He is in this computer, he is in this garden of vegetables, he is in this fountain that hasn’t been cleaned but still sounds so beautiful, he is in the bee that stings you but that also fertilizes the flowers, he’s in the bird that sings, this yoga lesson, this hard workout you push through, this refreshing beer, etc ..etc.  When you train yourself to see the world like this and that everything is actually a blessing, it makes the adversity much easier to bear. They don’t disappear, just easier to bear.

I don’t avoid or deny negative situations, I’ve just changed how I relate to them. It’s amazing what happens when you stop fighting all these things…not at first, but slowly, your mind clears, the anger, the hurt, the resentment, the guilt, it all starts to fade to the back as you learn to relate to it and you get more peaceful. xo

 

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“Not Today Demons, Not Today”.

Today, similar to the last two weeks, it was really hard waking up because once I am awake, I must face my thoughts, my fears, my challenges and my anxiety of the unknown.  Yet, every night before I fall asleep, I contemplate a list of things in my head that I know I should be doing to improve my mindfulness.  I have this mental list because I’ve been here before and I’ve managed to get myself out but my demons have a way of tricking me into thinking that hopelessness is the easy way and that fighting is just too much work.

I have successfully climbed over to the other side of hopeless and it feels really good.  Conveniently, my demons manage to hide those good feelings from me but my mind tells me today can be better and I believe it. I tell myself, today, you will begin doing those things again because that is what you need to do to keep yourself on the path of peace, the path of happy, the path of content.

Many days,  like you, I lose this battle and I give in to the demons that want to keep me miserable, sad, hopeless.  But today, I was triumphant.  Today I fought through it and under my breath while taking my downward dog, I whispered to myself, “Not today demons, not today”.

 

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Little dreamers everywhere, it’s ok to change your stories!

Most of our life we spend our days fighting things we cannot control and this is what causes frustration in our lives.

We will develop unwavering attachments to  ideas or dreams and stick to them even when all signs tell us, it’s not for us.

Spiritually, it is said that we align ourselves with this story so much so, that this is what we identify as success and as a result, not achieving this goal becomes a big blow to our self worth.

As a child, we are exposed to many influences and this may sway us from finding our true passions.

The thought process may go something like this….

Long ago and buried in our unconscious is a student of life who mistakenly identified this idea to his/her success.  Day in and out, he/she aligned their lives with supporting ideas to push and keep this dream afloat and when it started to sink, they become depressed, disappointed and their self worth took a tremendous blow and it began to affect every other aspect of their lives.  It was too heartbreaking to give up that dream because he/she felt like the world around them would call them a failure but most importantly they were letting down that little dreamer inside and that is what hurt the most.

How many of us have attached ourselves to the wrong dreams early on for whatever reasons.  We went through all the rituals sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing yet still never feeling intrinsic happiness.  What are we doing wrong?

The truth is, little dreamer in you just wants to be happy and happy comes in all shapes and sizes.  The expectations we have set upon ourselves are sometimes unrealistic and many times based on someone else’s idea of success.  My gut tells me that we are surrounded with little dreamers who are in need of changing their stories.

So to all you little dreamers, it’s time to edit your story and tweak the pages or perhaps it’s time to change the story altogether! And guess what, all of that is ok and actually encouraged. It’s not too late!

xo

 

Images above are of the lovely Lauren Prince, friend and jewelry model for me from time to time.

 

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My favorite people are the ones who have learned how to smile through the pain.

My favorite people are the ones who have learned how to smile through the pain.  But don’t let this discourage you if this isn’t you because you are supposed to see people like this as an inspiration.  It is meant to create a solidarity between you and the person next to you because although your pain is different, it isn’t unique, for somewhere in this world, there is someone feeling exactly how you feel.  And, how amazing would it be to be the one to show them that despite all of this pain, there is light, there is hope, there is a smile.  A genuine smile that means what it says. We can get through this, one present moment at a time.

We are all connected and it is through our interconnection that we are able to learn and practice being better human begins.

….practice away xo

 

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Even when she enters hell, she will lighten up hell with the sound of laughter.

Vanilla Clouds - Capacity

Your tiny heart does have the capacity to grow if you surround it with light and depth.

In Buddhist philosophy, it is said that a person who is able to provide a community or group of friends with unconditional friendship, love and understanding, is skilled in the Base of Capacity.  How wonderful to be gifted with Capacity.  We all struggle with life’s up’s and down’s and this isn’t something you achieve overnight.  It is a practice, an understanding, a life mission to choose to be peaceful in times when it’s easier to join the chaos.

For you my friend, I wish Capacity. xo

 

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Are your irrational thoughts holding you back?

Are your irrational thoughts wreaking havoc on your life?

I was watching a show last night and one of the featured people talked about how he began to use drugs because he was unable to cope with his high stressed job.  One day while he was working, he had a panic attack in front of his peers.  He went to see a doctor, who explained that his body could not tolerate the drugs he was taking and the panic attack was his warning.Vanillaclouds-shells

After seeing many doctors and therapists, he said the best advice came from a Buddhist teacher who asked him an important question: Is all this panic and stress going to improve or change the situation you’re stressing about?  He said when he thought about it, something clicked.

How much of our time is wasted on stressing and worrying about things that we cannot change?vanillaclouds-shells2

In addition, to help discourage the panic attacks, the Buddhist teacher  suggested meditation.  If you are not familiar with meditation, it is the act of basically doing nothing. Many people confuse it with the act of controlling a situation but it is actually the opposite.  You release all thoughts from your mind.  You in essence give your mind a break from all the chaos that you take in.  It allows your mind a chance to refresh.  You breathe and you watch your breathe and this encourages relaxation.vanillaclouds-shells3

As a result, the man explained that understanding that his behavior was irrational and adding the practice of meditation,  has made him a more patient person, a kinder person and a better husband and father.  Please keep in mind, there is no need to become a Buddhist to adapt this practice.vanillaclouds-Shells5

I haven’t read a fashion magazine in a long time since I increased my spirituality.   Mostly because I grew frustrated with the failed promises that having the newest lip gloss would change my life or make me cooler. I’ve spent so much money trying to improve my outsides by superficial means, when the answer has always been to challenge these irrational thoughts.

Why does it terrify me to speak in front of crowds? Why don’t I ever feel good enough? Why is no accomplishment enough? , etc..

While a new haircut, a new dress or a new home can really bring us joy, if it’s just a band aid to cover up a bigger issue, you will be always be chasing the next high and that’s how these fashion magazines cash in.vanillaclouds-shells4

Understanding why we do certain things can be very powerful because we can then look it straight in the eye, acknowledge it and either accept it or work on it.  Having a healthy mind is so powerful because like the man I mentioned earlier, it can make you more peaceful, more kind and just a better person overall.  Most of us go through life allowing circumstances to predict our course.  Why not grab a hold of your life and make it have purpose!!  I certainly don’t see the downfall.  xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

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