Blog Archives

“You can’t get full staring at someone else’s plate”

My friend used this quote earlier in the week. I am guilty of this all the time. It’s so easy to look at what is happening in everyone else’s life and wonder why things don’t work that way for you. It’s hard to maintain the focus we need on ourselves without finding a way to compare it with others. By our nature we are comparative, social beings. We want to know what others are doing. We want to know why. And we want to know if it would benefit us just as well or if it will bring us down. And it’s hard not to let those things get into our heads and manifest in a way where fear, jealousy, and confusion emerge.

We have a tendency to throw ourselves off track. We forget our main focus and get confused by all of the little details. But no one else is going where we are going. No one else’s path will be the same. We can do exactly the same things as the person beside us, but still end up with completely different results. We are all suited for different things that work at different ways and in different times. We have to remember that though it’s impossible not to look at what others are doing, we have to keep our main focus on ourselves. We can look to others for guidance and advice, but we can’t look at their situation and spend all of our time wishing things we the exact same for us or believe that doing exactly as they do will make things right for us. We are similar, yet unique. And we have to maintain that balance and go forth in the direction that works the best for where we are at that time. Besides, when we consume someone else’s plate in addition to ours, the ultimate results are rarely  what we’d like them to be!

 

Happy Holidays all, I hope your weekends are wonderful! Stay safe!

Up to the Mountain – When it seems the world is against your dreams

and this is a different version, but one that I love:

There is a song called “Up to the Mountain” by Patty Griffin. She wrote it thinking of what it would have been like for Martin Luther King, Jr. to have seen what he saw – to have his dream. He had gone Up to the Mountain, and seen how wonderful everything could be. But the world had other plans. He faced opposition everywhere he turned. He had to fight and fight and fight from the moment his dream began. Nothing came easy. He got worn down, but he never gave up on seeing his dream come to pass.

We all have dreams. We all have those moments of clarity, where we are up on that mountain top looking out over and where we can see our dream come to pass. It’s like the world falls into place. We know at that moment in that time we have something worth offering. Something in us tells us that we have the capacity to achieve it. But what happens afterwards is often times not that easy. We’ve seen where we want to go, but it seems that no one else is interested in us going there.

We receive opposition from all sides. It’s confusing. It’s heartbreaking even at times. It wears us down. One of my favorite things that I’ve heard people say when it comes to religion is that “even Jesus wasn’t allowed to perform miracles in his hometown.” People in our lives know us in the way that they know us. The adults around us know us as the children we were. Our friends know us as the people we were when we met. Our family knows us as we were when we were little. And those things are very hard to break. People’s ideas of who we are tend to be quite strong. And in general, we aren’t interested in those around us changing. It’s hard to handle when the people around us become “unpredictable.” We have certain patterns that we all work in. We have roles for everyone in our lives. And we usually like for those roles to stay the same, whether they are good for us or not.

The thing is, if we are going to achieve our dreams, we are going to have to fight. And sometimes we are going to have to change our situation. We have to leave people behind who don’t understand and who aren’t supportive. Not necessarily in a way where there is no contact, though sometimes that’s the case. But in a way that allows us to feel free to go forth in our journey to accomplish the things we need to accomplish to live a life of happiness that is fulfilling. People will come in and out of our lives. Few will stay for the long haul. And even fewer will allow us to change and grow.

When that opposition comes against us, we have to be willing to fight. We have to go back up to the mountain, and remember that there is something out there worth fighting for. That our lives and our dreams are worth fighting for. We are worth fighting for. Our happiness matters. Our desires matter. And we are the only ones who can accomplish them. So keep fighting. Keep working. Keep climbing back up, no matter who tries to knock you down. You have it within you. So keep taking chances and grow!

My Book

In the midst of the fire

(Trigger Warning: This post references suicide and depression. If you need help please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.)

robin-williams1

My favorite priest once gave us an analogy. He said to us that someone once told him that people who are depressed with suicidal tendencies feel like they are standing in a burning building with flames all around and the flames are growing bigger and bigger, closer and closer. They can’t run through the fire, the flames will engulf them. They stand on the edge, waiting for the moment the flames die down, but sometimes the flames move so close that they cannot escape them any longer and the only way out is to jump. The jump isn’t designed to hurt anyone else or even themselves. The jump is designed to escape the fire that is all consuming. People jump from burning buildings. We instinctively search for an escape from the pain that we know has the potential to destroy our lives. Sometimes the pain is physical. Sometimes it’s mental. Sometimes it’s both.

I think what’s important here is that we must seek help. We must do something to remove the flames, to put out the fire. Mental health is so important, but so gravely overlooked. It is underfunded, under researched, and services are nowhere near what they should be, but they do exist. Help is out there. And it’s important to remember – you know those moments when we are sick with a virus or an ailment where we are in so much pain we can’t move, we can’t take care of ourselves, we can’t get things in order on our own – that’s what it’s like when a mental health issue takes over. It’s not that people don’t want to fight it, it’s just that it seems impossible to do on our own. We have to create support. We have to care about one another. We have to remove the “why can’t you just get over it, we all have problems” mentality and move towards caring about one another and ourselves again. Treat people well. Be good people. Help one another. That’s what we are here to do.

It saddens me tremendously to lose someone who provided so much joy, love, and depth to so many through his work.But thankfully, those things live on. And hopefully we can strive to give those things to those around us – share in the joys and the sorrows, spread love and hope. We all have something to offer. Let’s offer it all with love.

Know Your Worth and Live It

“I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me.” – Terence

One of the most important things we can do for ourselves, I believe it to be the single-most important thing we can do is: Know your worth and live it.

Seek out truth. Don’t believe something simply because someone says it is so. Be proactive in your quest for knowledge and growth. There will be conflicting opinions on everything, including from people you trust. Remember the importance of being an individual who has the capacity to take in what you’ve heard and discern truth from fiction.

And one of the greatest truths to remember and live by is that you are worthy. Feel free to not take me at my word and to instead look into it, explore it. Research it. We have to search into who we are and why we think and feel the way we do. What makes me believe I am not worthy? What makes me choose to believe myself undeserving of the happinesses* I seek, instead of believing that I am deserving of these things? We judge ourselves so quickly. Why are we not allowed to be a humans who are human? People who make mistakes, but are not ruined. People who fall down, but are capable of rising to the occasion, also. Not perfect, but always worthy.

Our feelings of self-worth impact just about every decision we make, even the mundane. If we look at the truth and understand that we are inherently worthy and being human doesn’t remove that, then we can rise more often and help bring others up with us along the way.

If we have self-worth we can see our dreams and believe in them.

If we have self-worth we can see our future and know we are capable of achieving it.

If we have self-worth we are able to know that we will falter, we will fall, but we can and will get back up and still be capable and someone of worth.

If we have self-worth we are able to redirect a path that didn’t work out as expected. We can change direction, but not give up or settle.

If we have self-worth we can see ourselves as who we want to be. We can see the best of what we have to offer and work towards becoming that person a little more every day.

We mostly overlook worth. We fail to realize just how important it is to each of us as individuals and to all of us in our humanity. We must take the time to stop and observe our actions and who we are. How are we contributing to our own well-being? Do we let our lack of worth lead us using fear? Or do we look to the truth and let the knowledge that we are worthy lead us to the life we want to lead? Always search for truth. Let it set you free to be who you want to be.

*Yes, I know happinesses isn’t a word, but Jack uses it that way and we do seek multiple types of happiness so it makes sense to me.

(You can start your research here if you’d like (my book)  – Barbara Walters once said, “If you care about the work that you have done, then you need to tell people about it.”)

“525,600 minutes, how do you measure the life of a woman or a man… how about love?” – Rent

All day long I see people, including myself, with something to complain about. We have a problem. We need someone to blame. Life, everyone’s life, is full of imperfections. It is full of unforeseen bumps, walls, bruises, breaks, tragedies, etc. And it’s full of readily known, easily seen bumps, walls, bruises, and breaks, and in some cases tragedies, as well. None of these, however, are easy for us to deal with. Not on a deeper level. They are things that require time. Sure some are easier for us to process, but to deny that they affect us, to deny that there are residual scars, is simply as stated, denial. It is ultimately unhelpful for all of us.

One of the things that I’ve seen numerous times recently is this statement, “I wish we could return to the morals on which this country was founded.” The statement seems well enough at first glance. But ultimately it is pining for something that never existed in order to blame everyone else for the problems in existence today and tag them as different. It is different, we are different, and that’s why things are the way they are. In reality, we are not all that different. In fact it is how much we have stayed the same in many cases that causes the issues that we have. See, our country was founded on the premise of religious freedom…if you were a protestant. It was founded on morals that included drowning, hanging, and burning females who might be perceived to be a witch. It was founded on denying any human rights, respect or decency to anyone who wasn’t white – as was obvious with slavery and the treatment of native Americans . And to denying a majority of rights, respect, and decency to those who were white, but happened to be poor or a female. You were allowed to murder someone for stealing from you with almost no civil process. It was common practice to allow abuse and mistreatment of women, children, and anyone who wasn’t a powerful (not in the physical sense here) white male. It was founded on the idea that anyone who strayed in any way from the ideas set forth by the males around them could be considered a heretic. It was a time when they believed and practiced the idea that God felt them to be the only worthy members and it was okay to kill, steal, and manipulate their way into power. And the law of the land was much more in line with “an eye for an eye” than a democratic justice system.

Maybe we should go back to the times before this. Perhaps the Renaissance, that was a good time right? Sure our country wasn’t founded then, though it was “found” by a tyrant. Back when we (a human we, here) were crusading around, killing people who thought any differently than us. Taking their land, their money. “Screaming convert or die.” Burning people, hanging people, raping women and children. No? What about the Dark Ages? Should we go back there? What time in history is it that we should return to so that we can find these uplifting morals that I’ve heard so much about?

In truth, those morals are present at all points in time. There are people, probably the majority, who want to do good. Who want to be good. What do we measure a life in once it’s gone? In love? In hate? In blame? What do we measure it in while we are still living? With what do we measure our own lives? If it is not love, then, this is what we have to blame for the way that things are going. If we aren’t learning to love, ourselves, others, and teaching ourselves and others to be better people every day, helping one another rise up, then today will remain just as it was, yesterday, and last week, and even back in the good ole days when this country was founded. It is those who adapt who survive. It isn’t the strongest, or even the smartest, it is those best able to adapt. And it starts with a drop. Just one. One person to start measuring the year, the day, the minute in love, and this ignites the spark.

–It’s been a long time, and this was a bit long – my apologies.

When the heat is on

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I took Jack walking today, and we ended up out during an extremely hot point in the day. Originally there were lots of clouds around, but when we arrived they had all disappeared. We walked a little bit, and took even more breaks. He had a wonderful time, and I watched all the runners and cyclists as they rode around.

From all I could see the heat was pretty stifling. I remember when I was younger how much more energy it took to play games in the afternoon instead of in the evening. It didn’t stop us from playing, but I would dare to say that most of us held our stamina longer and made better decisions when we weren’t trying to win games in the oppressive heat. And this is true of many situations.

Sometimes we have to push through the heat. Sometimes there are no other options. But there are more times when if we would just wait it out and let the heat die down, even just a degree or two, it makes all the difference. Having the patience to not try to fight the fire is hard. We don’t know how long it’s going to last or what it might burn up in the process. When we are standing back and just watching from the sidelines, that urge to do more tends to kick in. We feel like we just have to do something. We have to fight through it, and make things happen right now. We have to stop it. We have to fix it. We can’t just sit there.

But patience is a virtue. (at least that’s what they say). And in reality, in a large number of cases if we decide to take on the heat, to run into the fire, we end up only feeding the fire. It billows up. The problems grow. Now everyone is at risk, when before we were in a position to do something once the heat died down. We have to be willing to wait it out. To have patience. To remain calm. To remain in control. We have to make sure that we only fight when necessary and that we are equipped to do so. Whether you’re shouting or quiet, whether you are explaining it away or searching fervently for the answer, if you are standing in a fire you are no match for the fire. Without the right gear, without a spare supply of oxygen, without other people helping you to work to put out the fire, you’re simply standing in the fire. And that heat, those flames will quickly consume you. You won’t know which was is up, much less out. No one will understand what you are saying. But if you stand outside, you wait it out and let the heat pass, suddenly the path has been cleared for you. So don’t buy into the fury. Don’t listen to the hate. Don’t participate in storms that will only get you clobbered. Stand your ground. Know your goal. And wait for the path to clear.

Day 31 – Reflecting on the challenges

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I began this month trying to figure out what I could use this blog for. I decided since it was mental health awareness month to use it to write things that are related to mental health…but in particular posts that were encouraging to people so that the posts could help boost our mental health together. I hadn’t written in a long time, and I was trying to find a way back into writing. And trying to stretch my own capacity for creativity and writing.

And today when I was thinking about the challenge that I had put forth for myself, to spend a portion of each day doing something that was focused at helping others and helping myself by growing, I realized that I had accomplished more than I thought I would this month. This month was full of trials and tribulations that I hadn’t expected at all in my personal life. And this blog really has served to help me sort out those issues and helped me find people who have similar problems in their lives.

What I also thought about today is how important it is to reflect upon our challenges in life. I’m not sure that I’ve really reflected on things in this manner before. Normally if I look back on a challenge it isn’t usually with the notion that I’ve passed the challenge. I have a tendency to dwell upon the challenge as something that I wish hadn’t happened, and don’t look at the fact that I have made it through, and I am continuing to make it through. I am usually just frustrated by the challenge itself in general. In my head I know that we all have challenges and that we can and should learn from them, but when we look at our own instead of at other people’s it’s a lot harder to tell where the challenge begins and ends, and whether or not we’ve actually overcome or accomplished anything. But in reality we have all overcome and accomplished things because of and in spite of our challenges. And I think taking the time to look at them in that manner is necessary to our well-being. We have to be able to look at ourselves and see the good things, see the accomplishments (even if at first we feel they are minimal at best), see that we are survivors, so that we can remind ourselves that we are achievers.

When we know who we are, we can know where we can go. And I firmly believe that we can go anywhere we want to go. In fact, we will go wherever we want to go, because that’s the way things work.

(just a note, I’m not stopping the blog, just reflecting on this month)

Day 30 – Growing to our highest height

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While outside playing with Jack yesterday I took a picture of an oak tree. We have lots of water oaks along the coastline in Mississippi and some of them have grown to huge sizes. They’ve survived for centuries, storm after storm, year after year. And I started to think about how that happens.

People mention building your roots a lot. In order for a tree to grow it has to anchor itself in first. But I think sometimes what we overlook is just how root systems work in trees. They grow down to form an anchor, and then they spread themselves out. They branch out in all directions creating the right amount of support for the tree itself to branch out in any direction it needs to. As we grow in life, we can’t just grow in one direction. We are multifaceted and complex. We have multiple talents, multiple needs, multiple areas we are capable of sharing in, of growing in. We have to make sure that we are tending to all the different areas in our life in order to grow as high as we can grow.

When a tree gets injured on one side, those branches can start to whither and die. The whole tree can end up weakened, because it’s no longer in balance. So the tree starts to regrow that branch whenever possible. New life will emerge from those areas that we’ve left untended, even when they were areas that were hurt. Whether it’s because we ignore those areas simply because we have so many things we need to focus on, or if the areas are damaged from things that have happened in the past, the chance for regrowth exists. And not only does it exist, it is necessary for us to find our balance again. For us to thrive again. We have to make ourselves as strong as possible in order to weather the storms in life, and to do that we have to pay attention to all of our branches.

Sometimes when we let things constantly eat away at one part of our life, it finds its way into the other areas as well. Inevitably we end up unhappy, unfulfilled, and unsatisfied. We get lost. We don’t know what’s wrong because so many areas are now at risk, and finding the source of the problem is hard. It’s easy for poison to find its way in when we can’t find the wound to close it. So it’s extremely important to begin paying attention, looking at ourselves and really realizing what needs to be done to help us feel whole again. They are not voids that can be filled by others. They are things that exist within us.

We have the chance to do great things and be great people in even the smallest of ways every day. We have the chance to grow ourselves with every sunrise and strengthen our roots with every sunset. Every branch we extend outward has the chance to touch someone. To help create fresh air and breathe new life, without do anything other than functioning at its best. By weathering the storms we have the chance to help someone else do the same. We just have to grow ourselves in all the different directions we can. We have to allow ourselves to be human, to be people. To have faults and weaknesses, but not let them overcome us, because we all have many ways to grow.

Day 29 – Having the courage to try

Last night I watched “We Bought a Zoo.” And in it he says, “all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage…” And that made me think about all the people I knew who had something to say about the movie. So many people said it was just what they needed. They were thinking about major changes in their lives and they needed something to happen. It’s funny how so many of us feel that way. That we need something to happen. There needs to be a change. We aren’t where we want to be, and we aren’t sure we are getting to where we want to be either. In life it’s quite easy to lose track of where we wanted to go.

Circumstance can be to blame much of the time, but it’s circumstance that we have created for the most part. We want to believe something can still happen. And when we see it happen for other people, we believe it again ourselves. But we need constant reminders. Most of us see something, get inspired, but never take the steps to follow through. We tend to look over just how much it takes to take a chance. To just go for it. To go for all that we wanted. A lot of times we opt not to because we don’t want to fail. Because if we fail at the things we really want, then what does that mean? What’s left from there? And it goes a lot deeper.

Unfortunately for us, taking the easy way has a tendency to become the hard way. Because easy has a tendency to couple itself right up with unfulfilled. And maybe it’s easy at first to live that way, because we still hope and there’s still time. But time moves much more quickly, and what we find when we look back is chances not taken. And the mundane of the everyday and unfulfilled gets wearing. We have reasons we do what we do. We have reasons for the things we don’t do as well. I’ve studied psychology for a long time. I’ve counseled people. I’ve consulted. I’ve spent the better half of my life helping people, even in a non-professional level. People have always come to me for help. I never understood why when I was younger. Even now, I’m not always sure. But it always seems to work out.

In life we have to have an understanding. We have to have a reason to believe in ourselves. We have to have the skills to look inside and understand ourselves. Because society has a tendency to tell us things that are untrue. The people closest to us, even our closest friends and family don’t always have our best interest in mind. That means it’s up to us to care enough about ourselves to learn how to get to where we need to be.

Today my book was “officially” released. In paper back and in e-book format. In certain book stores who were willing to take a chance. And at this point in time when I’m surrounded by chaos, and lots of bad news, I’m not sure what to do with that. I was told I needed to tell people it was out, so I guess I am right now. But I don’t know if this is how I’m supposed to do it. It’s hard, because I knew how important it was that I don’t waste anyone’s time. The reason I wrote the book that I wrote, and not a “quick fix” book as was suggested to me, is because the message that’s in the book is important. Transformation takes time. Changing your life takes time. But it starts with one day. It starts with knowledge. It starts with taking the moment to say, I’m going to try. I’m going to jump in. I’m going to have insane courage. And the book tells you why you should have that courage. It tells you why you are worthy of the things you need. It tells you how to breathe again when it’s dark and frustrating. It tells you why you should make it through. It tells you how to start changing your life, piece by piece. And why your life can and should become the amazing life you wanted, no matter what has happened in the past. It tells you how to forgive, how to let go, how to move forward. All the things that are too long to write in a blog. And it tells it well.

So what I’m  saying is I hope everyone has the courage to try. Try to become the person you want to be. If the book can help, take a look. If you know someone who needs a life change or just wants an entertaining read, or needs a graduation gift, tell them to look. It’s worth the time. It’s worth the information. And it’s worth taking the chance to try. The read is easy. The information is good. Nothing I’ve ever done has taken more courage. And it’s terrifying. So even though you don’t have to, if you want to share the message. If someone needs help, lead them to it. We all have somewhere we need to go. We just need a little guidance sometimes in getting there.

And if you bought a zoo already, or have a story to share, let me know 🙂 We all have multiple things to contribute. We all have things to make life worthwhile. So why not share them? Why not have the courage to try!?

Amazon:

Between Fear and Love

Barnes and Nobles:

Between Fear and Love

Day 27 – When we don’t have any more to give

Today may be a little short. I have had a few family members diagnosed with cancer, and lots of turbulance happening all over the place this weekend. The month in general has been just a major rush of highs and lows from all different angles that I’m still trying to sort out. I’m not sure what else I have to give. I’m somewhat thankful for the writing on here, because it’s nice to have a place to focus my thoughts, but I’m seriously overwhelmed today so, here’s what I have to say.

Throughout the day we’ve been sitting around a lot thinking and talking about old memories. That’s the thing that sickness can do. Particularly when the prognosis is just up in the air. It’s brings to light the fragility of life. And there’s been a lot of that around here lately. With my family and friends and in the news in general. I find myself staring a lot, with no particular focus. Which can happen anyway. I’ve always been a drifter in my mind. I was never great at paying attention in class. But in this case it’s frustrating, because I want to focus. I want to figure things out. There are things I need to get done in my life. Things I need to get in order and determining what needs to happen matters. Determining what I need to do is important. And as each day passes the importance grows.

We all have those things that we feel pressing us. Those things that we know we want to do. And we know that there is a time frame on them. We know that the moments we have to do the things we want will pass us by if we don’t act upon them. But we also have to take the time to figure out what needs to be done when. And take the time to not let things consume us to a point where we are ignoring the other things that are important. And that includes appreciating the time we have to spend with the people who are important to us. The time to just let it go for a few moments and know that it’s okay to just be. We have to allow ourselves to be human. To have more than one pressing need. To have a multitude of things that matter. And a complex web that we have to weave. It has to be strong. It has to hold our weight. It has to have a number of stops and crossroads. It has to have alternative paths to get to where we need for safety, which may be a different place at different times itself. We have to be people. Fallible people. And we have to let others be the same. A lot of the time that’s where the good memories arise from. That’s what we learn from. We are just people. And there is greatness in that. Even when we are overwhelmed and our minds drift. When we can’t get it all right. We are still doing something good. We are still trying, even if it ends up wrong. Great things can come about, even if we don’t think we have any more to give.

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