challenges, Change, Daily Life, family, Growth, Love, Relationships, Self

Feeling Guilt and Moving Forward

“The problem with surviving was that you ended up with the ghosts of everyone you’d ever left behind riding on your shoulders.”

Paolo Bacigalupi, The Drowned Cities

Guilt…..guilt of all kinds does not feel good.  That feeling inside of us when something is wrong.  I think you have to be basically a good human to feel guilt.  We have to have the self awareness that our actions or even simply our thoughts, might have caused harm; to other humans, to our planet, to the animals, even to ourselves. So I guess guilt can be a useful tool on the road to growth and self knowledge.  It helps us see what feels right and what does not sit well.

This is what is coming up for me, Survivors Guilt.  Yes I used capitals, yes it feels big. This guilt was not brought on me by anyone but myself. And it comes out of love. I tried to talk about it in class the other night and I could not move the words out of my body,  Maybe I can write them out.

Here is the deal. my sister had a stroke last fall.  She is not really recovering well.  She is in pain every day.  Her left side is compromised and she does not have much use of her left arm and hand. Yes, she goes to therapy, yes there has been improvement, but the truth for today is that life is hard for her.  And I feel horrible.  And I don’t know how to step out of that place. She is my best friend, cradle to grave, she is my girl.

So I try to give her what she needs.  It seems what she needs most is space.  I can’t really get close to her.  I try,  I call, I ask to stop by, I invite her places.  Mostly she shuts me down.  She is in pain and all of those things make it worse.  So we text, maybe talk on the phone.  Yesterday for instance, it is a beautiful day here.  I am headed out for a walk at the lake. I text her to see if I can stop by and visit.  She says no, hard day, going back to bed.

Okay, I go ahead with my day, but there is a sadness and heaviness in my heart.  Because I am out there in this beautiful day with people, and sunshine and laughter.  I am engaging in life, I feel good.  And my sister, my best friend, is laying in bed in pain. How the fuck am I supposed to feel good?  I know it serves no purpose to feel guilty about my good day.  I know she does not want that.  But when I love someone it is hard to be joyful and happy when they are in such a difficult place.  Even though I know it is her path, not mine, I cannot separate my feelings and my humanness.  I have to figure out a way to move forward in my life, but it feels like I am leaving her behind.  And it is breaking me.

I have felt this before, when I was married.  Eight years into my marriage my husband was in a car accident.  He had head injuries.  He was never the same.  Physically he pretty much recovered but mentally there was a disconnect.  There I was, 26 years old, healthy, looking to the future and my husband was changed, damaged, and the man I had married was gone. What do you do?  Well I stayed in the marriage another 12 years until his alcoholism killed our marriage.  But honestly, the accident killed our marriage.  He felt less than the man he had been.   Finally, for myself and my son, I knew I had to survive. It was not safe or healthy for us to live in an alcoholic household. But I knew I was leaving behind someone who who had his chance for a full life stunted.  And I felt horrible guilt.  Guilt that I wanted  everything that life had to offer.  And to have that I would have to sever our relationship.  So I did. There is still, 20 years later, a wistful sadness around that.

Another time I felt this to a lesser degree was when my Mom had a terminal cancer diagnosis.  I remember a short period of thinking this should be me and not her.  But that passed pretty quickly.  I think even in my distress and craziness I realized that thought had no basis or substance.  It was a reaction to everything and my way of trying to take on her pain. To save her.  I could not save her, no one could.  I recognize those thoughts as an emotional reaction to a extreme situation.  And everything after her diagnosis happened so fast the guilt did not have any time to cling to me.

Okay so in writing this I can see my survivor guilt comes up when I truly love the person. I have friends that are fighting cancer or have other big challenges in their lives.  I feel compassion and caring.  I send love and positive thoughts their way. I don’t feel guilty. I don’t feel it should be me and not them.  I have a healthy boundary around it. But let it be my close loves and  I feel bad that I get to be whole, happy and healthy when they are suffering.  I don’t know how to fix this.  This situation with my sister is a long term process.  I want to move through it with grace and ease.  I want to help her, but also be okay with having joy in my day.  I want to understand that no one (least of all her) want or need me to suffer also. And I do know this mentally, but emotionally I am struggling .

I know her path is her own.  I know i cannot walk that for her.  I know sacrificing my joys serve no one.  So I move forward in my day and in my life.  I see my friends, I connect with family.  I talk with God. I meditate, I walk. I laugh.  I find joy, humor and love out there.  But somewhere inside of me is this little place that knows while I am out celebrating life my best girl is home, in pain and struggling.  And I feel guilty, guilty she does not have the same chance to enjoy her life like I do.

I am working through this, writing it out helps. So if you stayed with me  this long, thank you.  Life is here to teach us, we are here to grow and create.  This is a lesson on my path. Once I learn it, truly learn it, I can release it.  As with everything, baby steps.

Namaste

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Daily Life, friendship, Growth, Honesty, Love, Self, self love

It’s Okay if You Don’t Like Me… I Like Me

Is the quickest way to peace of mind to love yourself?  For some reason this week this statement has been running through my mind “It’s okay if you don’t like me, I like me” I don’t even know why but all of a sudden I am kind of falling in love with myself.  And it feels good.  It feels peaceful, no struggle, no trying to fix myself.  No trying to change for someone or appease someone.  No thinking they are right about me and I am wrong. I am simply relaxing into who I am.

katieI think most people like me, but not everyone.  At one point I would have been wondering why.Did I do something, was I offensive, do they disapprove of my lifestyle?  How can I fix this?  Can I make them like me. Well no I cannot. And is that okay?  Yes.  You can not like me, you can not want to be my friend. I like me and I will be my friend.

The more I am loving myself the better I am to the world.  The better to my friends, my family and the community I live in.  It is like stopping a struggle, the struggle to prove myself.  I get it that I am not everyone’s cup of tea.  And that is okay, there are many flavors out there.  And what I know is, I cannot please everyone. I have to start with myself.

There are certain people I have great respect and love for.  These people, I do care what they think.  I do listen to their opinions and it is important to me that they like me, that they approve of me. But that is a handful of people, and honestly at the end of day if they cannot love me for who I am, I still cannot pull myself in pieces trying to be who they need.  They are just going to have to need me to be as I am, and love me anyway. Everyone else, take me, or don’t.

Okay I am not perfect.  I see things in myself I want to change.   I can jump to conclusions.  I am defensive, I can be self absorbed.  I will let my emotions rule my head.  Sometimes I talk too much and forget to listen.  Other times I don’t talk at all and shut down. I will overshare and then undershare.  I will take way too much crap and then be mad at others and myself.  So I guess I am human.

But I am also amazing.  And I don’t even need to list all those things, it is enough that I know them.   Also,  I am a work in progress.  And I am learning more every day and trying to apply it.  It is all about baby steps.  One after another.  I can look back and see progress.  I am way less concerned with how the world sees me and more connected to my own vision. I am not afraid of you anymore.  I am not afraid of your opinion.  I don’t not have to change for you. I am free, or least on my way.

“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

– Louise L. Hay

Someone I loved gave me a box of darkness…. I have spoken of that before. My mother, one of my great teachers.  She did not like herself, let alone, love herself. I watched her push the world away one by one.  I heard her say  so many times things like “Well, I don’t like me.”  And I thought, I love you, can’t you see that?  Can’t you see how amazing the world could be for you, if you would stop this, and starting loving yourself.  She never did, until the very end, she pushed us all away. And I do not want that for myself.  I do not want to repeat how my mom lived.  I do not want to not love myself. I saw what it could do, it was not beautiful, or loving, or peaceful.

The more I accept and love myself the better I am to myself.  I recognize that it makes a difference in the foods I eat, I sleep I get.  I seek out people and circumstances that feed my soul with joy.  I make sure I relax and not be demanding on myself.  I speak well to myself about myself. When I am in a state of self love, I can go out there and change the world.  I can go out there spread love.  I can be joy.  I can be compassionate.

And the struggle to be something we are not can end.  When I know I do not have to change for you to like me, I also know you do not have to change a thing for me.  You are perfect, you are amazing.  You are a beautiful, unique and irreplaceable. You get to celebrate that.  We can each shine our light, our perfect light out into the world saying “Here I am, there is no one else like me and for that I am grateful”.

Namaste

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Daily Life, family, Growth, Inspiration, Love, Relationships, Self

Becoming My Own Example

So I think I am becoming my own example.  Today my grandmother is pressing on my mind.  I am thinking of her passing and the influence she had on me.  My grandmother (Maxine) was really really alive every day.  She lived until 94, every day celebrating being alive. And she has been such an inspiration to me.  She lived all alone the last 20 years, but was never lonely.  She had an active social life, church life and family life.  She never quit, ever. She told me, don’t stop. Be thirsty, be honest but caring. Grandma had her nose in everything, she was curious and loved to laugh.  She did not let life get her down, she kept going.

And then I thought of my mom who passed 3 years ago, and all the inspiration she gave me.  She was bold, fierce.  She took crap from no one. Honestly my mom had other issues and ended up allowing her demons to push away many friends and family that loved her.  But the parts that inspired me, she would fight for what she loved. She never let anyone tell her what to do. She was artistic, flamboyant and in your face.  She loved strongly.  She was amazing.

My dad’s mom, Grandma Stell  passed away more than 20 years ago.  She had a laughter to her life.  She always wanted to have fun.  She was southern to the core and sweet tea was always in the house.  She would take 3 different artificial Christmas trees, make them into one and called it  “pretty”. Married multiple times, again a woman who never gave up.   She loved hard, she loved me, she loved my dad. Oh my gosh, she would defend her family,

So all of these women who have loved and raised me are passed now.  And I am a mix of all of them.  All of their examples, all of their lessons have found their way into me.  Everyone of them was strong and stood on her own in her own way.  I realize that I do not have to be Mom, or Little Grandma, or Grandma Stell, I get to be Sandy.  And that takes nothing from them.  They did not live in another’s shadow but shone their own light.  I shine my own light, I beat my own drum.  I take the best from all, and become my own example.  I become my own inspiration.

All of these women lived and died a simple life.  None of them became famous, none of them left a mark beyond their own family, friends and lives.  No one wrote a book,  they were not politicians or great humanitarians.  100 years from we will hard pressed to find a memory, but I remember. And I am here now, and that matters.  This is how life goes on.  We lives our lives best we can.  I take all that I have been blessed with build my life.  I leave my mark on the world, be it simple or not.

So more and more I become my own example.  I live my life no one else’s.  I honor all of those women before who lived their own lives.  I see how different they were and each life was beautiful.  They made their choices, they became who they really were, no apologies. And I can do that too. I become myself, no one else. And I make no apologies.  I can see other examples, I can see the fierceness, the laughter, the lovingness, and the strength.  And instead of saying that is how I want to live, who I want to be, I can just be those qualities.  It takes nothing from those who have gone before, there is enough for everyone.  So instead of saying, this is who I want to be, I become it and say ” This is Who I Am.”

And so it is……

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challenges, Daily Life, daily practice, Gratitude, kindness, life

Kindness Matters………

Kindness, that is what is on my mind these days….

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
Plato

I have an event in my life right now that has made me more fragile than usual.  My grandmother passed away this week.  I can go into that more at a different time, right now I have been thinking about kindness and how everyone needs this.  I go out into my day and I am wounded.  I am sad,  I am feeling a loss, an important one. And 98% of the people I meet have no idea.  The people in line with me at the stores don’t know, the person I pass on my walk has no idea.  Many people in my church today had no reason to know.  At my work this only a handful of people knew.  Of course my friends know and are helping me.  They reach out, they are gentle with me, they are loving to me.  They understand I am little fragile right now.

But what about the others, the majority of people I interact with everyday. Well, what a blessing, most of them are kind. They smile and the smile reaches their eyes.  They greet me happily.  They wish me well.  They are nice to me. And they do not know I am broken inside. What I am thinking is that most of them are too.

Plato did say it “we are all fighting a battle”.  The women in line at the grocers, maybe she choose food instead of fuel.  The person walking past me, does their car run? Do they have one? That person that greeted me, are they well, is someone they love sick?  They child that is smiling, do they live in a loving home?

I could go on forever, you know what I am saying.  It is hard out there. Life is not just an easy slide to heaven.  There is work do be done here.  There are lessons to be learned here.  We have to break our own boundaries and our own barriers.  We have to love and lose and love again. We have to have sickness and then heal. We have to stand at the edge of disaster and feel the power in ourselves that comes from recovery.  All of us, everyone, has pain, frustration, loss, sadness and longing. All of us, everyone, needs to know we are loved.

And how can we show that to the world?  We can be kind. Yes, it is easy to be kind when you know there is a problem.  I am telling you right  now, there is always a problem. We just don’t know it. It doesn’t mean it is not real.  It doesn’t mean the problem does not deserve love or respect.  If we are not told or are not a witness,  does not the pain still exist?  Yes, we know it does.

So we can be kind.  We can assume that everyone we meet needs love, needs a smile, needs gentleness. Be kind, if nothing else, just be kind. Have a moment to say you exist, I acknowledge you.  I know you are fighting a battle somewhere, somehow, and I am fighting my own right along side you.  We don’t have to talk about it.  We don’t have to share or know everything.  We can just start by being here, available and human.  We can recognize that each person has a whole life and parts of it are hard.  And we can show kindness.

So right now i am little fragile, but mostly I am really grateful. And every time someone is kind that gratitude grows.  And it makes me want to be kind.  I want to smile at you. I want to share a kind word. I want you to know you are not alone. Whatever you are fighting, whatever your burden, we are in this together.  So the next time you have a chance, be kind.  It may be the best thing that happens to that person that day.  We never know where our gifts end up, but we do know that kindness ripples outward and spreads peace and love.

May kindness visit every day, many times……

kindness jewel

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attachment, Daily Life, Growth, Love, Relationships

Can I Really Dis- Attach?

Attachment has been coming up a lot for me this week.  Attachment to things, situations, relationships, all kinds of things.  It seems like each time I check out Facebook there is some kind of quote on attachment.  Attachment reminders are all around me these days.

I keep wanting things to stay the same, it is like safety net in some ways.  For instance, I had a possession that I have been holding on to for awhile.  Even though I didn’t really treasure it, I always thought well, if I ever need it……    But this last week it was taken out of my hands.  I let someone else make a decision around it.  I gave that person instructions about letting go of it and she disregarded that and made her own choice.  Before I knew it, it was gone. At first I was taken aback, but then I thought a different way.  The clinging to it, the attachment was gone.  Not by my hand, but maybe that is the way it had to happen.  Because I felt a little freer. Like I could not quite make that choice, so the Universe made it for me.

I have a relationship in my life I am attached to. And I can see some shifting around that.  I might have to let it go. I don’t really want to, it brings me joy and pleasure.  But some things have happened around the relationship which may bring it an end. Is that Life’s way of saying “let go”?  I am not sure yet, but I at least have to look at it.

A feeling of aversion or attachment toward something is your clue that there’s work to be done…….Ram Dass

I have to listen to those signs.  What is coming into my awareness?   When I am sleeping (even though awake) it is easy for me to pass by the clues that I don’t really want to see.   If I see, hear or feel something, but disregard it, that does not mean it is not real. It means that I choose not to acknowledge it because it challenged my attachment.  The more I am attached to something the less awake I am to change and growth.

Because I am awakening it is harder for me to ignore the signs along the path.  And more and more I know everything means something.  All kinds of signals come my way.  I heard what you said, I saw the sign,  I felt the wrongness in my stomach. I knew it felt bad, I could feel the loss of personal power and choice.  Because I am attached to the idea, the belief, the person, the possession. the safety, the status quo, the past, my story I disregard the signals.

I am attached to so much, and does it serve me?  Only to a point.  When attachment impedes my growth it is not serving me.  When attachment holds space in my life keeping out newness it does not serve me.  When attachment keeps me feeling safe, that is an illusion. When I am attached to an outcome that is a set up for frustration and disappointment.

attachment So can I let go and let life happen?  I want to.  I did this week, a baby step.  I let go of a possession that I had been clinging to .  And I did it gracefully.  After a small feeling of shock and feeling an empty spot, i let go.  I even said thank you to the Universe for helping me dis attach. The relationship?  I am not sure yet, but at least I am willing to look with fresh eyes.  To not cling blindly and without thought.  I may make a choice which seems the same on the outside but has been made from a different mindset.

Sometimes I confuse attachments with love. It is easy to do.  Both have similar feelings for me. But they go down very different paths, and that is the trick, staying on the path of love.  Not straying off into attachment. Because attachments have expectation around the outcome, and often those are not met. For instance, I love my son. Simply love him. But I do have some attachments around that. Way less that I used too, but I am attached to the idea he loves me back.  I am attached to the idea he will stay in my life. I love him clearly, without judgement, without needing to change him, without wanting to control him.  The attachments I have are around how I want our relationship to play out. And I have to keep that separate in my mind.  When I become frustrated or hurt, this is not about the love, this is about the attachment.  And the attachment keeps me a little needy and a little powerless.  So if nothing else, I can recognize that and take the lesson.

I know this, attachments seem comforting in the beginning.  Whether it is a thought, a belief, a person, a situation, a possession.  But at some point when the agreement is not given freely attachments can become my burdens.  They stop me from living from a place of choice and freedom.  So I work on that.  I recognize when I am attached and look at how important that is to me.  Can I let it go?  Can I be free of that?  Can I have a different thought? Can I take a different path?  When I can do that I am free to enjoy what life has placed before me.  I don’t look to see where this is going, I don’t push the river.  I can be in the moment, I can dis attach and enjoy my life. I let go of worry on the future, I release the bindings of the past.  So this week that is what I am working on.  Dis-attachment and simply staying in the moment.  Letting Life take me down the road.  Because I can never be empty.  The Universe will always fill the spaces I open when I release.  I am open to the joy and love coming my way and I am making room for it.

Namaste

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Change, Choice, Growth, lov, Love, Relationships, self love

It is Not About Them, It Never Was

This week I have been on vacation.  I have had a lot of time to myself to relax my mind and do some self reflection.  A few days ago I was sitting out by some water doing a guided meditation on self love. It took me down some paths I did not see coming.  As I was letting the words stay in the background I was thinking about a couple of circumstances in my life now.  Both of these things have given me much stress and angst. On the surface they are appear different, but I looked for a common thread.

I realized I have looking for validation in both places.  Looking outward, saying prove how much you want me, prove I am valuable to you.  Won’t you sacrifice this or that for me?  Aren’t  I worth it?  Oh my gosh, this is not about them and what they have been doing, this is about me. Okay then, that doesn’t feel as good.  Where did this start?

Was it my ex husband?  We were married for 20 years.  During that time his drinking took him over.  My story has been that he choose alcohol over me.  But that is just my story, what I have told myself, and then the world.  I don’t know that to be true.  I don’t know what it is like to be an alcoholic. I don’t know that even he had a choice. And if he did, the choice is his to live with. It is time to let my story go and have a new thought about it.  I don’t know how that looks yet, but I know something shifted.  Maybe I choose happiness, sanity, a better life over living with an alcoholic.

I kept on with the meditation letting the voice fall into the background as I dug deeper.  Could this go back farther?  You know, my mom was not easy.  I could write story after story about her.  At my moms core she did not feel loved.  I know my mom loved me as best she could, but there were lots of lessons around that. So if I can just look at that I can see she had a lot of “prove your love” in her.  Love wasn’t given freely, it had to be earned.  You had to be “worth” it.  I saw that in how she moved through the world.  I saw that in her relationships.  I saw that in how she taught me about being in love.  She never loved herself, she felt unlovable and these were my first lessons.

And I took those lessons out in the world.  I had a dad who balanced much of my mom.  I knew I was loved, my family loved me.  I was not ignored or abused.  One thing my mom always said is ” I want my children to have a dad that loves them, I never had that”.  That was important to her, that we felt loved. Still I was little girl learning about life and love from my moms example.  And I think I might be finally sorting out these lessons.

Keeping on with my meditation I had a moment of ‘I will remove this person from my life’.  And at the same time the podcast said ” you can’t reject any part of you, you have to love everything”.  At that moment I saw that removing a person only left room for the same thing to happen over again.  It didn’t really fix anything.  Because it is not about them, it never was.  Both of these circumstances that are playing out have happened multiple times before.  It really is  a here we go again feeling. Okay, who is creating this?  Me, I am. Everything around me has been by choice, my invitation. I can consciously accept that and start to make a change.

Because it seems at the core of all of this is me saying if you love me, if you value me, prove it.  I want you to sacrifice for me.  I choose men who would have to give up something to be with me.  This last one, he would have to move 500 miles, giving up living by his family, his children, in a community he has grown up in. He would have to give up his job, basically everything to be with me.  If he is not willing to that , well then what, he didn’t love me enough?  I wasn’t worth it?  And this is just the last one, this is a pattern.  Because shutting him out,  deleting him, I will just replace him with something similar.  Someone who has to make some kind of sacrifice to prove they love me.  Love should not be this hard.

It is not just relationships.  I see this played out in other ways throughout my life.  It comes up in employment a lot.  I  end up frustrated and feeling devalued.  It will take years, but it happens.  Then I make a change, and end up years later in a similar situation.  Sometimes with long time friends, I see them move on to different friends, lifestyles and I feel rejected.  I am better with that now, but it has played out in the past.  It seems when I have time and an emotional investment in something or someone I have set it up so that at some point I need them to choose me. Prove they love me.  It seems I am needy that way,  I have to let that go.

So this was never about them,  it is always about me.  About my growth, my lessons, my being willing to look at things differently and have a different story.  I am not unworthy of love, I am not unlovable, I am not my mother. I don’t have to keep repeating those lessons.  She never learned differently, she never really trusted love.   I don’t have to draw circumstances into my life where I feel like being loved is a win. I can let go of the need to prove myself through others that I am lovable.  I can let this go.  Maybe not overnight, these lessons are almost hard wired in, but I control my thoughts and I can have a different thought.  I can say I am ready to be loved just as I am.  I don’t have to earn your love and you do not have to prove you love me. We can let be easy, we can let it flow. I can start here, in my 3rd act, ready to be open and learn a new truth about myself.

Because it is not about them, it never was.

Namaste

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Choice, Daily Life, daily practice, Growth, Honesty, Love, Relationships

Loving Myself is a Daily Practice

Yesterday I was having lunch with a friend and she was talking about how she is overworked at her job.  She has been working 6 days a week for months now and is feeling the strain in her body.  Here is the deal, although there must be some kind of pay off it is not financial and she is not trying to advance in her job. So why then?  Only she can answer that, but it got me to thinking…..

“self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.”
― Elizabeth Cady Stanton

My response to her it that I will not do for my job.  Maybe a different job at a different time, but not this one. I am clear on my boundaries with my job and I am comfortable with how clean my side of the street is.  But that is just my employment and there is a whole bunch more to my life.  And I do get sucked in.  And why is that?  I guess it changes according to the situation.  In a crisis I step up, no question about that, especially when it is my family. I will set aside my life to help them. If my son called I would set this aside, jump in my truck and go. That is a given.  But I will reclaim my life as soon as possible.

Right now my grandmother is in a convalescent home.  She is improving and right now they say she is going home this week.  I know she would like me to be there every day visiting her.  Not going to happen. She has visitors every day, it does not have to be me.  I love my grandmother so much, but my life is important too.  And I get to take care of myself also.  I think it took me being in my fifties before I could say that comfortably.

Before that I was all about self sacrifice.  I stayed in a marriage too long thinking It was better for him and my son (wrong by the way). I would become over involved in my employment only to see at the end of the day I didn’t own the businesses and everyone can be replaced.  I hung on to friendships past their expiration date thinking I could save something that was over. Even over involvement in volunteering or community becomes draining, stealing the joy from the original intention.  Men, on my gosh, I gave up my life, making theirs the focal point of our relationships. The list goes on…..  If I just loved more, worked harder,  gave everything, well then I would be important, I would be loved, appreciated,  no one would leave me.  It didn’t really work out that way. And now I have learned some lessons from that.

the buddha

At the end of the day no one can bring me happiness beyond myself.  Loving and caring for myself must be first on my list.  To move through life with a full heart, means I have to fill it.  And this is not easy.  It is almost a reflex to say “yes”.  It is how I was raised. My impulse is to set myself aside and take care of you. But is that what is best for me, and in the end you, perhaps not. So I need to be mindful of when and why I say yes.  I need to listen to my body and my heart when it starts saying no. I need to be okay with putting myself first.  And that means unlearning behavior that is years ingrained. Loving myself needs to be a daily practice.

Yes, if you love me, that can make me feel good.  But if you love me and I don’t love myself, I won’t believe you. I won’t trust that love. Because how could you love what I believe to be unlovable?  When I do not value myself what value can you put on me?  If I am so willing to set aside my wants, desires, dreams, time and energy why would you respect them? I want to engage with those people who have a healthy self respect for themselves and their lives.  I want them to love themselves so I can love them back.  Please don’t sacrifice yourself for me, I cannot carry the weight of both of our lives.

This is not about those times when I need help or you need help.  Those are teaching moments in our lives.  Those are moments that give us connection and a sense of belonging outside of ourselves. Those are times when we can almost touch love. It becomes tangible. But to do that without resentment or expecting a return we have to come from a place of love.  And love starts within.  It all comes back to loving yourself.  To loving yourself so much you have love to give others.  You have filled your time and spent your energy so well, you have it to share.

So it is not selfish to say “I love myself first”. It is not wrong to be wise with your time and your energy.  It is okay to say no when something is draining you, taking more than you have to give.  You can put yourself first. This is your day, this is your life. You get to choose how you spend, where you spend and who you spend it with.  Life moves fast and time is precious. Be sure to have time well spent.  And spend that time loving yourself.

Namaste

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forgiveness, Growth, Inspiration, Love, Relationships

Second Chances

Second chances, we get them sometimes.  A chance to make amends, to forgive or be forgiven. I had one of those come up for me recently.  When my mom died hurt feelings were left behind with 2 people who I have known and loved my entire life. Circumstances around honoring my mothers wishes fell to me.  And because of that I had to make choices that did not include them.  And I always felt they were mad at me, that they held me responsible.  And I really hated that, but I didn’t know how to make it right.

Now 3 years have passed, and I get a Christmas card from them. First one ever.  It was in response to my sisters illness, just saying thank you for watching out for her.  A nice card.  It opened the door a little bit for me.  I thought I should call and thank them, but I was afraid.  Afraid all the pain of my mother dying would be fresh again,afraid all the decisions would have to justified.  Afraid the card was not really an opening, but just a politeness. So I sat the card aside, but never let it go in my mind.

Lately something has been changing inside me.  I want to clean up my side of the street. I want to heal wounds I have carried and created.  I want to be open and honest and real. More and more I am telling people I love them.  Not just my family, I have always said that to them, not even old friends, they know that.  But those people who are important to me. Who I love and maybe I have never said that to them.

I think somewhere in my mind saying “I love you” carried some responsibility, some sense of commitment….scary stuff to me.  That is kind of shifting for me.  Now loving you, means I love you.  I care about you, I care that you are happy and healthy.  That your life has value to me. That I am joyful to be with you.  I does not mean I owe you, or I am responsible for you. i do not have to make you happy.  I do not have to heal you.  I can simply Love you. For me, this is freeing, it opens the door to all kinds of Love.

Back to the card….. Yesterday I called them.  I was a little hoping I would get the answering machine.  But no, she answered. After the first couple of sentences the awkwardness was gone.  I simply said “Thank you for sending the card, it meant a lot to me”. And then we just started talking, about family, about life. We brushed on my mother but did not dwell there.  Maybe someday I can explain, maybe I don’t need to.  Maybe it is done and forgiven without words.  This is what I know, before we hung upsecond chance she said ” I love you, please stay in touch”.  And I felt forgiven, I felt so much guilt disappear. I felt healing in my soul.

But here is the deal, I was lucky.  They are still here for me to have had that conversation with.  I am ever aware it could be different.  If something would have happened I would have never known I was forgiven.  I know forgiveness starts inside.  I know the real forgiveness is me forgiving myself.  And on many levels I have done that.  I was in an impossible circumstance and I did my very best.  I forgive myself for any missteps I made during that time.  But a piece of me needed to know they were okay with me, that they understood and still loved me.  And I got that chance, I had that moment.

So don’t wait, don’t wonder.  Timing is important.  In the thick of things it is hard to get a true perspective, from either side.  But don’t drag it out.  I waited three years, anything could have happened during that time.  I would have carried those thoughts (that were not even true) for the rest of my life.  I would have always wondered.

I must look at my self also.  Where do I need to forgive?  What am I holding on to?  If someone needs a second chance with me, am I ready?  Have I healed?  Can I be gracious and be open to the idea we can have a better ending?  I want to be that person, I am working towards that.  Maybe just taking the first step is half the battle.

I have to let go of ego, or the I am justified feeling. I need to take down the fences I keep up because I think they keep me safe from rejection.   Looking inside myself I don’t want to carry those feelings.  Those feelings stand in the way of my good, those feelings keep me trapped.  Perhaps those feelings at some point protected me from what I perceived as vulnerability or further hurt. There comes a time when those walls do more to keep me in than others out.

I know now to grow I must be vulnerable, I must willing to be open and honest.  I think most of my growth has come through pain. Joy is wonderful. Happiness, peace, these are places my soul can rest in.  But pain, growth, soul searching, vulnerability, these places make me strong and whole. I must experience it all to be complete.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain. Kahlil Gibran.

So be willing to open the shell, to grow and see a different ending.  Be willing to forgive and be forgiven.  Forgiveness is not about condoning bad behavior or letting anyone use you, or lessen the person you are.  Forgiveness (for me) is about letting go of the picture I thought should have happened and accepting what really did.  It is about moving past that moment, taking the lesson and growing into a new idea or belief. It is about seeing the relationship in its wholeness, not just one piece of it. It is about letting go, moving on, and being free.  Free from anger, free from bitterness, free from pain.

If you have a chance, if your moment comes, take it. Whether it is about forgiving or being forgiven, it is one coin.  There is wholeness when both sides come together.  You cannot have one without the other.  Even if what ends up happening is you forgive yourself, that is enough.  That is more than enough. Still, there is a certain beauty when two souls come together in healing.

May your life be filled with second chances.

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Daily Life, Inspiration, Love, Relationships, time

We Think We Have Time

We think we have time. We live like we have forever, and in some ways we do.  We have time until we do not.  And there are no ways of knowing when that will change. But change it will, somewhere, sometime, somehow. Maybe it is becoming older and seeing people pass from my life and knowing our time was done.  Maybe it is seeing those I love in distress or close to death and getting another chance with them.  Here is what I know, time is precious, days are precious, I cannot afford to waste them.

Since I cannot predict when my last words, or sharing will be with someone every time becomes important.  I have a grandmother, my last living direct female before me, who is 94.  She is amazing.  She lives alone and still goes to church, senior center, out to lunch, she is very active.  And her mind, probably better than mine. But she is 94 and the body wears down.  I had a chance to see her last weekend and I grabbed it.  I spent about an hour sitting next to her, listening to he2014-06-21 02.06.56r stories, seeing her smile and laugh.  I didn’t really know how important that time was, later that day she went into the hospital.  There was some stuff going on she had not shared with us.  She is okay now, and coming home today.  But what if it had been different? And how would I have felt if I had not taken the time to be loving and kind to Grandma?

I know this is an extreme example.  Most people I see are not 94 and headed to the hospital. Almost always I will see them again.  But you know that feeling, that moment when you hear that someone has passed?  For me, one of my first reactions is remembering the last time I saw them. I want those memories to be loving, I want those memories to make me smile.  I want those memories to bring me peace. And that, my friends, is up to me.

Which means I have to approach life with a loving heart.  All those people who seen me for the last time, I want them to have a warm memory of me.  I want them to smile or know we parted with good in our hearts for each other.  Because the truth there are friends and family in my life right now I have had my final time with. And I cannot change any of that.  I can search my mind and my heart to see if I have left wounds anywhere. There are probably a few, I have tried not to burn bridges, but I have also set a couple on fire. Mostly that was self preservation and to make sure I could not cross that bridge again.  If I have any opportunities to make amends I should grab them. I do not always get second chances.

“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”
George Harrison

So the past is the past and I have today.  I can connect  with people kindly and lovingly.  When I am feeling I love someone, I can tell them.  I can let people know they are important to me.  I can leave people feeling like they were glad I was there. At the very least I can be gracious.  I can make sure not to throw away time.  I can make today count.

We think we have time, and we do, and we don’t .  Time is a trickster, it fools us into complacency.  A feeling that we have tomorrow, and next week and next month.  And mostly we do, until we don’t.  And that is the tricky part.  You just never know. I cannot live in such a heightened state of time awareness that it stresses me out and I miss the joys of today.  Living each day as if it were my last?  To truly do that feels impossible, how would I even know what that will feel like?  I cannot, as far as I know I have tomorrow.

I want to live in a way that honors every day.  With awareness that my acts of today build my tomorrows.  To know way I treat people, the love I show, the respect and attention I give others will hold me through the losses.  So this is not about dying, it is about living.  Living with the true knowledge that every encounters matters, that everything I do makes an impact.  It is not for me to know where the ripples of my life will reach. I just have to send out good ripples. To live honestly, kindly and lovingly.  To know that whether it is me or another looking back at our final encounter we can smile and be at peace.

Go out into the world today and love it.  Be kind to those you know, be gracious.  Show attention and recognition.  If I see you today I am aware that moment in time is precious for us. Each opportunity to connect and love is a gift.  Let us not waste that.  Let us not waste time, what on earth could be more precious?  At the end of the day, let us know we had we spent our time wisely, lovingly and with awareness.

Namaste

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Change, Growth, Love, Relationships

Love With a Capital L

Can I accept all the love the Universe offers me no matter the form it comes in? How available am I to be loved in ways that are a little different from what I want? Do I simply relax and say yes?  I think so.

I spent the last 48 hours surrounded by love.  I have had 2 days of sharing time with people that love me and who I love back.  All of these visits, meetings, sharing, were unrelated. I just kind of fell onto a pathway of love.  There was a visit, then a lunch, then a conversation, then a visit, then a phone call, another visit and I have an event tonight with a dear friend.  All people who are so valuable to me and who love me all in different ways. An interesting note, not one of those loved ones are blood family.  But they are my family, they are my tribe. They are the people I have chosen to love.

So many different kinds of love.  We go through life building relationships, all kinds.  Family, friend, work, romantic, church, community.  As we move ahead these all change over time.  And that is what I mean, can I accept love, however it comes?

Right now I am struggling to change within a relationship that has changed.  I want it to be the same, but it is not. And I don’t know where to put these feelings.  This change comes from life circumstances that neither of us had any control over. But she has changed, and I have to love her in a different way now.  Our relationship has to find new footing, the old path does not fit.   I think I have to be gentle and kind and breathe through it. I have to be honest and share my feelings and be willing to hear hers.  I have to stay in a place of non judgement and no expectations.  I have to let the Universe do its work through me and through her.  Because she is my sister we will always be connected.  That is, for us, a given. Her path is hard right now.  There are also lessons for me in this. A willingness to let go of what was, and love what is.  Does it always come down to “Love what Is”?  Maybe, standing in the past, holding on to the days that have passed is a lonely way to live.

Hafiz

I love this quote by Hafiz. If we could just love each other, as we are, as we stand here. Can we accept that people are going to grow, are going to change, are going to not want the same relationships that we do, and love them anyway?   Can we not put conditions around how we love, who we love, why we love?  Can we just love?  There is a belief that there is nothing you can do to earn God’s love and nothing you can do to lose it.  Can we love like that?  Can I love like that?

Because this is not about my sister, that was simply my strongest example.  This is about everyone in my tribe.  This is about my son, and loving him even when…. This is about my friends and knowing they have their own lives, be willing to take the amount of love and time they have to share, and not judging that. Or comparing, or keeping a list. This is about men who I have loved when the relationships went south. Can I stay in a place of love even then? Can a different kind of relationship develop?  Can I accept that as our path this time around?  Can I keep seeing love when basic beliefs are different from mine, and yet I love the person? Can I have a loving physical relationship and be good with the limitations around that?  Can I love old friends from afar, knowing our time together ran its course?  Can I have all of these loves and more, and not say “you owe me”. Can I take what is offered and celebrate that?

The answer to that is yes, most of the time. Not always, sometimes I feel sad, or lonely.  I might feel rejected, I might be having a pity party.  But really, that is only sometimes, and doesn’t really last.  It lasts long enough for me to remember who I am and who you are.  We are love, We are of the Universe, we are here to create, to learn and grow.  And our greatest teacher is Love.  We crave it, we name it, we judge it, we cling to it, we cry when we perceive it lost. We lose our minds, our perspective and our sense of self.  All in the name of love.

But let us look at LOVE, love with a capital L. Love comes from Source, Love is energy, Love lets us believe in ourselves.  We see ourselves more gently when we look at ourselves through another’s loving eyes. Love lifts us, Love makes us strong. Love makes us compassionate, Love sets us free.

So when I can stay in the place of Love with a capital L. I can have 48 hours of bliss.  I can welcome all kinds of love coming my way.  And the more I welcome, the more that appears.  Rumi returns with “What I seek is seeking me”. I court Love, I invite Love in.  All Love, all Love is welcome.  I am going to move forward into my day seeking Love, not judging, no conditions, no requirements. Because Love only wants my greater good, only lifts me higher.  Open mind, open heart and ready to claim all the Love the Universe can send my way.  I invite you to join me in welcoming Love with a capital L.

Namaste

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