The rest is still unwritten

You know, this personal growth thing is a roller coaster ride. No sooner do I think I’m getting close to the top, hearing the click click click of the belt as it pulls up my coaster, then I dip right back down to what feels like the bottom. Or, I’m riding that fast ride up but don’t realize it’s a loop-de-loop (is that what it’s called?), and I’m right back at the same level I started. It’s enough to make a girl feel like she’s making no progress.

In the few years I’ve had this blog, I’ve broken up with a boyfriend, which led me on a path of enlightenment, only to be sidetracked when I met my twin soul, with whom I had a non-relationship that put me off my path of personal growth for two years. He came back into my life like an unexpected maelstrom last autumn only to depart just as quickly and with as much confusion this past month. I would like to say that these unfulfilling, negative romantic relationships I’ve had have put me off of them for good. It might be nice to have an easy ride down the lazy river and live a quiet life of no romance, desire for self-improvement, growth or change. It might be peaceful. But, I would take Magic Mountain rides over Disney rides any day.

Even though it’s so frustrating to be near the bottom again, I think it’s worth the hard work to get back to the top and be able to see the view and feel the cool air on my face again. And, what does that work entail for me? I was just gonna describe them as a paragraph, but then I realized it’s a laundry list of things. So, here goes:

Meditation – I used to do it daily and worked my way up to a good half hour, at least. Now, I can barely meditate for a few minutes. Time to get back to my daily, morning routine of meditating. It’s a great way to start my day as it helps me start off with good energy and an openness. And, I personally think of meditation as that time during which I listen to God/dess/Universe. There’s much wisdom to be gleaned there.

Journaling – I, again, used to do this daily especially while I was with and just after I broke up with the Ex. My journaling, much like my blogging, is a lot of personal rambling that helps me organize my thoughts. It helps me get out my frustrations and insecurities without burdening others with them. But, I also try to be a cheerleader for myself and write down my hopes and dreams and desires. It’s definitely interesting to read back on those pages to see how much I haven’t changed but how far I’ve come.

Practicing Compassion – I can be super-critical (especially of myself). It’s a terrible thing I inherited from my father. But, I have a choice as to how I view life and those around me. And, I have the ability, as we all do, to put myself in someone else’s shoes (it’s called imagination). That grumpy, old lady who was snarky to me today…? maybe she’s in some physical pain or her kids haven’t called her in months so she’s lonely. Maybe her best friend just died. So, my reaction to her doesn’t have to be equal snark. It can be gentleness. Of course, this goes hand-in-hand with remembering not to take things personally. How someone behaves towards you usually has nothing to do with you.

Experiencing Nature – whether it be a hike through the woods or a walk on the beach or even just sitting next to a city planter full of green stuff, touching base with Mother Nature is always soothing to the soul. Looking up at the sky at night and seeing the millions of stars above reminds me that the Universe is vast, and the mistakes I make in life will hardly impact anything. Watering my lemon tree, whose life depends upon my care, reminds me that I am responsible for the well-being of other living things on this planet, so my actions do matter. Feeling the wind upon my face lifts my spirit and reminds me of those things unseen that surround us and are a part of us all.

Creating Art – as a photographer, this should be fairly easy. But, it’s not the only art-form I want to “experience.” I enjoy painting and drawing (even though I’m not very good at either) and scrapbooking (yes.. it’s art!).  For me, this is really about creating. After all, life is about creation, isn’t it? My art can be on paper or canvas, on the computer, or even a delicious dish I’ve cooked up. The very act of creating is soul affirming.

Practicing Gratitude – this doesn’t have to be formal, like a gratitude journal or a list or anything. Even if I take a few seconds out of my day to just appreciate a flower and send a quick, little thanks to the Universe for showing me Its beauty, I find that practicing gratitude gives me joy. There’s no room for complaining when you’re truly grateful for…whatever.

Practicing Forgiveness – yeah… that sounds weird. But, I find people just carry so much anger within them. I do, too. I’m not talking about being angry at anyone or anything specifically. Just read comments on any article. Even if it’s inspiring, there’s always at least one person who’s just pissed for who-knows-what-reason. I know I get “justifiably” angry at whatever social injustice I come across. That anger is a weight on my heart. It’s negativity that I don’t need to carry. So, yes.. it would be great if we were all on the same page in this world so that there would no longer be bigots and their like in this world. But, I have to remind myself that we are all on our separate journeys, each at our own pace. And, we’ll eventually arrive at the same place, given time. So, yes, I have to practice forgiveness, a lot. Release the anger and send out love.

That’s it. Just those few things. Some of them are even fun. Some of them are a lot harder than they seem. But, I want off the easy, lazy river ride and back on the roller coaster. My coaster car might keep coming down — there’s fun in that, too — but at least I know I’ll keep climbing up. Ok…so maybe a roller coaster isn’t quite the best metaphor here.  heh heh

Definitely, though, I think the song I chose for this post is fitting because, even with all the ups and downs, my life is still before me. It is still unwritten.

I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined
I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can’t live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

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We Are Family

I was going through my Kiva account because the $25.00 I’d “loaned” out had been repaid, so I wanted to loan it out again. I hadn’t gotten around to doing it before, so this time I went to my account settings to make sure my personal profile and stuff were set to my preferences. Under “My Lender Profile,” there was a text box starting with “I loan because…”

Well, this got me to thinking. Why am I loaning? Is it simply because this Kiva account was given to me as a gift from my brother-in-law (he knows me well) and the money had to be “spent?” Is it because it makes me feel good to help someone halfway around the world whose circumstance is not as lucky as mine? Could it be totally superficial – because my own opinion of myself is that I’m a generous, giving person? Why do I loan?

Then, I thought … if not me, who?
I don’t really have the means to give out money contributions, and if I really need the cash, I can close the account and have Kiva put it back into my Paypal account. But.. these people in these countries who need just a few U.S. dollars to survive and sustain their families… whose job is it to help them, to take care of them as they take care of others?

My mom … she worries about everyone. She is the most generous person I know, sometimes to her detriment. She works very hard for the money she has, and she is quite well off. In fact, she could probably work a lot less and still be quite comfortable. But, she is also very generous with her money, donating thousands to charity and freely spending on her family (thank you, Mom, for the new car!). When we talk about her retiring from her medical practice, her thoughts are of her office manager who can’t “afford to retire.”
“But mom,” I insist, “that is not your problem. She is your age and should have saved by now. You’ve helped her put her kids through school. You need to think about yourself now.”

In her desire to take care of her employee, her generosity in taking responsibility for another’s well-being, she has also helped countless others. Her generosity helped put her office manager’s daughter through nursing school. That nurse takes care of so many others on a daily basis. Her office manager, like my mom, also does a lot of volunteer work, helping who knows how many others who need just a bit of aid to have a better life. There is not only a domino effect to my mother’s generosity, there is an exponential effect. I won’t spell it out…you get it.

This is a compelling reason for me to help in whatever way I can, whether through monetary means or donation of my time for good causes and community. But, it’s not the biggest reason.

As I sat there trying to figure out what to write into that text box, I realized that the reason I do this and volunteer my time and give a dollar to the homeless kid at the corner and any other way I give positive, loving energy to another is because deep in my heart I believe, I know, that the person(s) I am helping is someone who is connected to me.  That person is, as the Christians say, my brother or sister (in Christ). We are all family. We are all the same. However you want to say it, we are connected through Spirit, and yes… there is an exponential effect. The one person I help can help many, and it explodes from there. All of humanity is helped. What can be a better reason than that?

And, as the song goes:
“…high hopes we have for the future
And our goal’s in sight
..no we don’t get depressed
Here’s what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong
This is our family Jewel”

Things Left Undone

I was just reading my last post on “commitment” and, being as it’s the beginning of the new year, the traditional time of the year to make new commitments, I have to take pause – review, rethink.

It’s been over a year since I posted last. I’d written “if we want something bad enough, we make it happen, right? Even if our goals aren’t accomplished the first time around, we keep trying, push past the failure, until we get what we want, or something that is better.” And, I still believe that to be true. But, sometimes, life throws us a curveball, and we have to adapt our swing, change our goals or, at least, the timeline.

“When your life is over and you’re reaching the end,
River of Jordan is around the bend,
Will you be counting all the trophies you won?
Or will you look back on the things left undone?

I was determined, last year, to put my photography business on the road to success. The plan was to implement all my marketing ideas and really start booking shoots and making money in the business. What actually happened the latter half of the year was the complete opposite. First, I lost my largest “client.” The organization decided that they were perfectly happy having me photograph their events for free and, now that we had come to the point where I should be properly compensated for my efforts (even after the many thousands of dollars they’d saved with me as their photographer for the past two years), they happily let me go to “hire” another photographer. I took that event as a positive thing as I had become quite unhappy with our relationship.

….

I started this post last night when I’d written everything above. I was going to go on about how so many things happened to make me re-think my commitment to having a successful photography business, including losing the client, the death of my grandmother (for whose funeral arrangements I was responsible), going to the Philippines (for grandma’s funeral) and getting caught in Super Typhoon Haiyen (Yolanda), and leaving my home in San Diego for extended periods of time in order to help my mother with her businesses (I would drop everything, except anything for my son, to help my mother). How can I possibly continue as a photographer when it seems life is pointing me elsewhere?

I couldn’t quite complete the post because I was so torn as to where it was going. I mean… I make commitments all the time and, when they’re made to others, I will always follow through. But, the promises I make to myself, whether they be in business or personal life, somehow get put on the back burner.

I looked around my home and saw the many, many projects left undone — paintings partially completed and barely begun, books half read (like a mountain of them), even food in the fridge I’d meant to turn into some yummy dish but ended up throwing out because I’d never gotten around to cooking, and it spoiled.

I was in this frame of mind when I’d titled this blog post and found this video with the words that described how I felt last night — the fear of letting another year go with so much left undone.

“Do you regret, Love, all the things left undone?
Do you regret?

Then, this morning, I watched this Ted talk:

It is given by Diana Nyad, a woman who this past year, at the age of 64, completed an epic journey, swimming from Cuba to the U.S.; a journey she began in her 20s.

In the midst of my “rethinking and reviewing” and just going back and forth in my head as to my photography business and all the other half-completed, unfulfilled promises and commitments to myself, I watch this video and some of her words just jump out and touch me:

“Isn’t life about the journey and not the destination?”

Yet, Ms. Nyad does also say, “Of course I want to make it across. It is the goal.” We all want to keep our commitments. We all want to reach our goals. And, as much as I’ve always believed in her first statement and have always considered my journey the reason for my life, I also want that feeling of satisfaction, of completion. I want to end my life (when the time comes) to know that I’ve done and created. 

So, I start today, the third day of January, with more hope that I have enough time to complete my many paintings, to read my many books and to be successful (in my definition of “success”) as a photographer. It took Ms. Nyad forty years to reach her goal. I am only just 45 now myself. There is so much more time, and I’m walking my path on my epic journey at my own pace. I have the time to fail a hundred times over before I can succeed. And, more importantly, I can be forgiving and compassionate with myself, to allow myself that time.

I think, though, that more than Ms. Nyad’s words of commitment, promise and hope to “never, ever give up” are her very wise words that:

“Every day of our lives is epic.”

The Commitment

A couple days ago, I had what I thought would be my last phone call with my life coaching group. I had told them a month ago that our Wednesday afternoon time slot was not working for me so I would have to leave the group if we couldn’t change it to another time. Well… after much discussion (some of it quite emotional), we didn’t change the time. And, I’m not leaving the group.

You see … after a month of trying to figure something out, with some of the ladies expressing that they’d be very sad not only for me but for themselves were I to leave the group, two of them spoke up with a bit of anger and annoyance towards me. They felt frustration; that my excuses for not being able to re-arrange my schedule to accomodate a standing, weekly engagement was just that — excuses.  They felt they were getting an ultimatum from me but no commitment. And, though I felt a twinge of hurt, I wasn’t offended at all nor did I take it personally. Because… they were right.

In the months we’ve been having our conference call sessions, the last 10 minutes of this call taught me the most about myself and my life.  Heck, maybe it taught me about life in general.

I realized that were I to make a definite commitment to being in the group, that were I to make it a priority in my life to participate in those calls, all those conflicts I said I had would begin to fall away. I realized that the Universe would shape around me, my desires, my goals so that I can my commitment.

After all, if we want something bad enough, we make it happen, right? Even if our goals aren’t accomplished the first time around, we keep trying, push past the failure, until we get what we want, or something that is better.

“We go from pimps to prophets, liars to logic
Zoo to drug abusers, survivors of the projects
My mind sets to clarity, predicting me well
A sign past the tragedy, commitment to self”

A conscious breakthrough I had in that group “meeting” is that I’ve been hesitant to make any kinds of commitments in my life these past few years. I can make excuses like (yes, this is the one that popped up in my head immediately) I’m unconsciously waiting for a great change to occur what with the 2012 shift coming and all… but, really? how’s change supposed to occur if we don’t consciously make the effort for it?

“I will live my life full of conscious
I’ll be the god amongst monsters
I’ll exercise more often
I’ll walk my talk and keep talking”

And, day after day, while I sit here at my computer desk trolling through Facebook and dating sites while watching t.v. and just baffled by the fact that I get nothing done and my house is a mess and why can’t I find time for myself and my kid…. gah! and, duh! I had made no absolute commitments – to helping my son with his college apps, to losing the 10 lbs. I gained this summer, to getting my home in working order, to really, really making a go of my business (which is gonna be my only livelihood in less than a year). I think about those things, but I didn’t, in my heart, commit to making those things happen.

And, why? Well… my inner shrink tells me I have a fear of failure (I was diagnosed with it in college). And, there it is again — fear. Now that I know what it is, now that I’m aware of it, I can change — my outlook, my actions, my verbiage even. I can create, or re-create, the reality around me.

“In the midst of the risk we became better people
Life is a movie, I’m a change the sequel
We owe it to ourselves, evolve out of Hell
Even for my folks behind bars in the cell
Stay well, it’s still a challenge
Reflect upon greatness, embrace it to your balance
Ultimate awareness comes from when you seek the truth
See, life is a journey, plans and patience
Know that you’re worthy, transformation
Manifestation of creation as we know it
Red’ll rip redundant abomination of culprits
The life they giving you is all subliminal
Now we must commit and take back our principles
Turn hate to satisfaction, anger into action
Greed into giving and passive into passion”

The lyrics above say it perfectly. I’m changing my story, my sequel. Do it with me … come on… change your reality, change our reality. Make the commitment. I have.

The Commitment – by Sabac Red

It’s Always Better When We’re Together

It’s been sort of a dramatic two days, full of emotion of my part – first, with the elections last night then, this afternoon, on a phone call regarding a friend’s love life. What have I gotten out of the ups and downs of my last two days? Simply this …

Every thing should be easy!

No… really… I mean it. I wonder, at times, why there is so much strife in the world. I understand that, as humans, we value that for which we fight and have to take a stand and pour our hearts into. But, really, must we have to fight for everything? And, by that, I mean — aren’t there things that should just be no-brainers? Things that should just come easily, with no dissension, no animosity or hard-feelings; things that just are or become because they’re right.

Prop 37 in California, for instance, is something that you’d think would have passed easily. You would think that people would want to know what’s in their food and would want to be informed and have the ability to choose. I don’t care if you put GMOs in my food. But, I want to know — darned it! — so I can choose to eat it or not it. It’s really pretty simple. Why did it have to come down to a fight against the big companies for them to do the right thing?

Then, there’s Love (romantic love, friendship love, whatever love). If two people love each other, and they have the time to be together (and WANT to be together), why can’t they just have a relationship? It can be for this moment, or this day or week, year, the rest of their lives….
Why does so much thought have to go into whether or not we ought to have a relationship with this person or that? Beyond maybe social and moral limitations, why can’t two people who enjoy being together just… BE together?

I think our brains get in the way. We start thinking about the all the possible negatives so we hesitate.

I also think, though, that if we come together to remind each other of the good in everything and everyone, there can be a positive (and quick) change in this world. If we stand together in love and harmony (sounds like a Coke song), the fears and the doubts will dissipate. Without all that fear and with support, understanding and hope for each other, I think life would be easier. Life would be better.

“Our dreams, and they are made out of real things
Like a, shoebox of photographs
With sepia-toned loving
Love is the answer,
At least for most of the questions in my heart
Like why are we here? And where do we go?
And how come it’s so hard?
It’s not always easy and
Sometimes life can be deceiving
I’ll tell you one thing, it’s always better when we’re together”

Better Together – Jack Johnson

You’re the Inspiration

In September, last year, I started seeing a business coach. She helped me tremendously in getting my photography business re-started, and she continues to help me grow it so that it will be profitable this year (for the first time in five years). I was so impressed by what I’ve learned and how I continue to grow in my business that I hired another coach — a life coach.

I think one reason I’ve found the coaching to be invaluable is because of the stories of the other men and women in my two coaching groups. What they share about the way they live and how they do things serve as inspiration to me to become a better person — a better business owner, a better mom, and better ME.

But, as I sit here this morning looking through the posts on my Facebook wall, I realize that I garner that inspiration through many other channels as well. One source is the posts by Belief Energy, a community fanpage. I got curious enough this morning to look up their actual webpage and was/am so impressed by what I read that I felt the need to do a blog post and share it with you.

As I continue to fall upwards in my life journey, I know there will be times when I’ll veer from my path, when the necessities of everyday life cloud the lens and make me lose my focus. There will be times when, planning and worrying about the future, I’ll forget to enjoy and revel in the present moments. It is times like these when it becomes more imperative to surround myself with the positive energies of others, whether through my coaching sessions, through reading others’ blogs, spending time with people who inspire me, or… just taking a moment to BE.

Perhaps you and I can inspire each other…

How?  Well, taking from one of Belief Energy’s posts:  “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world need is people who come alive.” –Howard Thurmann

So, Let’s BE alive together.

I Won’t Give Up on Us

“… even if the skies get rough..”  — Jason Mraz

In the last year or more, the theme of things ending has been re-occurring…  the end of relationships, the end of the world, the of end times…

I know a group of people who are preparing for the apocalypse (or, at least that’s what it seems like they’re doing); making sure they have stockpiles of food, know how to defend themselves when anarchy hits, have everything they need in the event society breaks down. I guess this is an extreme form of emergency preparedness. I find it, though practical, to be a bit sad.

I must be the kind of person who has unconditional HOPE … “to expect with confidence,” as defined by Merriem-Webster. I expect that society will progress to become more civilized, not less. And, I am confident that, despite the many setbacks (and crazy proposals the Republican party currently seems to espouse — yes, I went there.. to the political) our society continually seems to undergo, we will.. as a community, as a nation, as a civilization.. grow.

“I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make…”

I know a man who should be Lightworker. (Well, I guess we are all lightworkers according to Lightworkers.org .)  He believes, like the group mentioned above, that there is Darkness on the horizon; that our society is in a spiritual war, and the dark is winning, at the moment. I agree with him … I agree there has been a spiritual, energy war happening, but I believe that the Light is winning. I can feel it in my bones, in my dreams and in my very Being.

But, I might just be the kind of person who has unconditional FAITH … in God/Goddess, the Universe, whatever you wanna call it, that all is happening as it should and all will be right in this world. Merriem-Webster’s definition is: “something that is believed especially with strong conviction;  belief and trust in and loyalty to God.” It also considers the word “trust” synonymous with “hope,” with the additional qualifer of “dependence on something future.” Yes… I completely depend on the future turning out wonderfully. I insist upon it. I completely believe and trust everything, everyone will become amazing.  I am looking forward to it. And, I will do my part to ensure that it happens by spreading my joy, my light, as much as I can to all around me.

“Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got yeah, we got a lot at stake…”

This same man I just mentioned also happen to be my Twin Soul (aka, twin flame, something a bit more than just a soulmate). Because of many misunderstandings, he and I cannot be friends at this time. It makes me sad, but it is where we both need to be at this time. And, the very concept of having a Twin says that he and I are learning, growing, progressing in the same direction, together (even while we’re physically apart). That, alone, is exciting. But since we have this awkwardness, and strange energy, between us, a few of  my friends have suggested I give up on him, forget him.

But, I know I am absolutely the kind of person who can LOVE unconditionally … no strings, no expectations, no desire for benefit…  just… Love.

“unconditional: not conditional or limited (M-W.com)”  There is no limit to what I feel for this man, as there is no limit for my love for my son, my family and my friends. I will be there for him, for them, when they need me. There is also no limit on how much I will keep my Hope and Trust that our world and humanity will rise to what it is meant to become — the very best. I will not, cannot, stop loving and showing love no matter how dark and scary and depressing things seem, with either my Twin or the world or what have you. Because..  as I have learned.. this is simply who I am.

“And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not
And who I am

I won’t give up on us (no I’m not giving up)
God knows I’m tough, he knows (I am tough, I am loved)
We’ve got a lot to learn (we’re alive, we are loved)
God knows we’re worth it (and we’re worth it)

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up”

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