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Charleston, SC, United States
"Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself." -ACIM

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Let's get Funky

Yep. That's right, even my awesome ass goes through a funk from time to time. Seems like I'm not alone these days talking to a lot of the people I've met. Kind of like a communal down time where a lot of people appear to be in a place where you'd expect a Russian novel to be set. Just a bit gloomy, a bit dark, and seemingly unending. However, I have found that most of the people I interact with give me more hope than despair. Most of them tend to be of the mindset that they somewhat enjoy the funk for what it is knowing that they will come out the other side stronger and more aware of themselves. Faith. I see faith. That alone, even if it is in others, is enough for me.

I've just finished reading a wonderful book titled: A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. In it she has a lot of great information, some of it not for me (at this time at least) and some of it just plain revolutionary. That book as well as Channeling Grace by Caroline Myss (which I listened to on a recent road trip) both pointed out some things to me that I needed to look at that will help me with my own personal funk.

Williamson says, "The spiritual path then, is simply the journey of living our lives. Everyone is on a spiritual path; most people just don't know it... The ego uses everything to lead us further into anxiety. The Holy Spirit uses everything to lead us into inner peace."

Ah yes... there's the word anxiety. That low level ever creeping feeling that comes up when you are about to or in the middle of challenging something. Some of you may know I've come up against a lot of this in my job lately. To the point where I was challenging not only my coworkers by my bosses as well. I was being honest and I was challenging authority, or more correctly, my fear of authority. Now, in many ways I went about this "wrongly", however, my intent was there and my anxiety sure as hell was once I realized that I had pushed it as far as disciplinary matters came. Each night during a week long drama at the workplace I came home and asked to see everything differently asked for my own forgiveness and asked for blessings upon all of us.

All of us? Yes. You too dear reader. Myss helped me realize that all my prayers and consequently all my focus was on me. Me, my, mine _____. My ego liked to shift a lot of those thought process to me too. What am I doing wrong? What is my problem? What sins are mine? Hold on... this is getting disjointed....
My focus both good and bad has been on myself for a long time now. What about others? I am not alone in this place and I certainly have the capacity to love more than myself right? If my job here is to love others as I love myself then I certainly need to start here but that doesn't mean that I have to wait for some preordained time in the future to start working on my capacity and ability to love others. Why not pray and extend love for others instead of focusing all my energy on myself? To be honest it's quite a relief. I feel anxiety melting and being replaced with peace which tells me that something is being done right here.

However, that alone is not the full answer. Forgiveness of course has to be involved on both the self and on others. Self examination has to be done and errors given over for correction. It's fucking tough! There are times when I just want to take a day off and hide. Silly sounding I know, because it's really hard to get all this toothpaste back in the tube once you start squeezing out all your inner BS and you know now that there is nowhere to hide from it. 'Wherever you go, there you are.'

"This process can be so painful that we are tempted to go backwards. It takes courage - this is often called the path of the spiritual warrior - to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives." -Williamson.

This quote I read over and over after my recent trip. There are others out there who would choose the 'dull pain of unconsciousness' forever rather than stopping and looking around on the inside. One positive I took away from being around a lot of those people was, there is love inside each of them and these days I'm able to see it a lot more clearly than ever before.

My teacher recently challenged me to "Let go of the plan."
Now that'll stir up some anxiety! What? No plan? But what about my 401K, my trip to the grocery store? My 5 o'clock tea? Ugh... but... I need to be in control.
This makes me laugh because it's a lesson that I know but yet still fall victim to all the time. Let go of my "control" and let go of the plan and just let life happen. Remember, "The spiritual path then, is simply the journey of living our lives." I go on. I live my life and I try to be as observant of what's going on around me as I do what's going on inside. I try to look at it and then see what needs to be done. I'm also now trying to do... nothing. Get the fuck out of the way and just let shit be what it is and needs to be!

I have no fucking clue where I'll be in five years. Don't want to know. Don't want to plan for it either. However, this development of trust is all on me. I have to give over and trust in order to let go of "the plan." Which, the thought of that also makes me laugh since I have, by many people's standards, no plan whatsoever in life. I must though because good googly I love the false sense of control that I've developed in this lifetime. One day at a time and chipping away. I can hope for a giant leap one day but for this day I can only do what I can do. In full faith, honesty and with sound effort, today is what I'm working with. Today I have no plan for tomorrow. Let's see where it goes.

We all find ourselves funky from time to time. We all find that we're not happy 100% of the time. Its okay. We all know where to look and what to do. We just have to get out of our own ways and do it. Let go of what you're holding on to, forgive, love. Rinse, repeat, and we'll all come out cleaner for it.

Until next time dear reader... I love you.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Change your ideas or The irony of belief

I used to think 'Give me a man with 1,000 ideas and no beliefs and I'll show you a genius.'
The reason I thought that was the line of thought that you can change an idea but a belief is something that you carry with you forever. You learn your beliefs at a young age and for the most part they stick with you.
Belief: Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction.
Idea: A concept or mental impression.

The first is "firmly held" meaning we're not likely to want to or have the motivation to change them. The second is "a concept" and seems to me at least a lot more fluid and able to change. Ideas are easy to change. I've got an idea how this post is going to go, but if I find that I want to change it and go in a different direction then that's pretty easy to do.

One of the things I've come up against in the past few weeks and months is, how many of these beliefs do I really have? What do I really believe about myself and how much of that is so far from the truth about who I really am? How much of what I see in the world around me do I really believe is real? Me and my beliefs are like a lady walking through a market with half a ton of bananas on her head and asking where she can find bananas and wondering why shes so tired.

Can I change a belief? Sure. Beliefs can change. You just have to take their power away from them and shift them to ideas first. An idea, to me, presumes that you don't know the whole story and are willing to accept other pieces of the puzzle before calling the picture what it is.
What I'm coming to is: Fuck your beliefs! I've gone so long in life with so many negative beliefs that I'm ready to vomit (almost literally) them all over the floor. I'm fucking done with it. Fuck passiveness, fuck ideas of failure, fuck defensiveness, double fuck some dishonesty, and to hell with AstroTurf as a legitimate surface to play sports on! Okay, I never held the belief that AstroTurf was a good idea... just wanted to get that out just in case.

If you've been on here lately you've seen some of my paintings. I've been painting over old ideas with new pictures. They weren't bad ideas, they weren't (that) poorly executed either. Those ideas just didn't serve my purpose anymore. So, I changed them. My external is reflecting what's going on inside and that's not a bad thing right now. With that in mind, here's one more for you with some explanation as well:

So this was a painting that I did because it was all symbolic and shit of my struggle from the dark to the light and reaching up for help. Meh. It was okay. But at the time it was how I was feeling. Grasping for answers and a way out of a funk that I was in. At no time did I picture myself as the golden hand from the top reaching down to help. I was always the hand reaching from the darkness.
Now, overall I didn't like the execution of this and the hands looked a bit funny to me. It was also outside of my kitchen so I passed it about 100 times a day and it was a subtle little reminder that I'm constantly reaching for help and it's always just out of reach. Time to change my mind...
 I like that fire to sky look. And I wanted something that when I passed it would remind me to question me. Who am I and what am I doing today?
Well... I'm a fucking Aries! That's what I am! Raaaaaaar! Even my name means: Strong; Manly, and Virile!
"Andrew originates in Greek language and means "virile, manly". In the New Testament, Andrew was an apostle and the first disciple of Jesus."
Ok, so this is what it came out like. Ta-Da!
Sorry for the glare... no wait. Fuck your problem with the glare! Aries coming through assholes! Hahaha. Just kidding.
I added the Ram's head from a stencil I made (red of course) and some stars at the top. I did all the stars in white except the Aries constellation which is in gold. (Top right if you're looking for it).

So this is just some of me changing some ideas and I have no problem with that. What I do still have issues with is finding more of these beliefs and getting them the hell out of the way and changed over as well. It's okay to have beliefs. Truly believe in yourself dear reader. Believe in Love, Forgiveness, Your fellow man as your brother, God... Believe away! Just make sure your beliefs are serving you as much as you may be serving them.
"Question but keep Faith"... I should put that on a bumper sticker.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Another paint over

So this was Cookie Monster. He was in my bathroom for the past year and always made me smile. However, he just wasn't colorful enough for me anymore, so I decided to get some paints out and give him a total makeover...

With the blending techniques that I learned from the last one, I just covered him up (you can still see a bit of his outline at the bottom here) and started with my sky and horizon.

Then, I added some stacked rocks, some shading on them, and some "shadows" down in the water. 

Made some more water and then added the outline of my vines. 

I didn't like some of the rock's shading, so I cleaned them up and tried adding a "fallen vine" on one of the rocks. Here you can see the start of the thousands of dots I needed to do for the flowers on the vines too. 

Final product after adding more yellow, pink, and white dots. And painting over the vine on the rocks because I just didn't like the way it was going. 
And... I'm done. Hope y'all like it and I'll be back in a few days to post an update on me I'm sure.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Stop that!

You ever picture someone punching you in the face? Mentally picture it. What did you get? Fear? Anticipation of pain? Anger? Punishment? Really, what would come to your mind if you knew you were about to get punched in the face?

Ya know what's come to my mind this week dear reader? Shit just like that. Except... and this is completely honest... I would welcome it this week. Oh please just punch me in the face so I can have something to point to and say, 'That's whats wrong! I've been punched in the face!' At times this week I've even wanted it so that I could then lash out at something. 'You there! Face puncher! Prepare to die!'

But no... none of that is happening. In fact dear reader I for once come to this blog with no idea what the conclusion will be. Right now I'm standing on the edge of a downward spiral looking over the edge and yelling 'Fuck you! I'm not going down there!'

Hold on! Hold on! None of this is making any sense... okay, let me try and explain. This past week I've just been angry. I've been busy minded, angry, and negative! And I just keep catching myself and saying, 'No! Stop that! Ask for help and ask to see this differently. This is not who I am and these are not the mindsets that I want.'

Whew! Right?

Wrong! They just keep coming back! I can feel great for a few post forgiveness moments, a few seconds of relief and then... boom! Back they come. Just an angry little (ego) dwarf living in there this week. He's running around smashing into everything and calling it everyone else's fault. Screw those people or damn that guy... blah blah blah. Just an angry little negative ball of shit this week.

So why? No seriously, that's my question! Last week was great, positive, up beat, loving the sunshine and birds singing... Nothing set me off, no incident of disaster, no major changes to my external world... nothing. Just woke up one morning and decided fuck this place, I want to be angry.

Well let me tell you it suuuuuucks! I've been over it for days now, but for some reason can't seem to shake it. Just keeps coming back.

It comes down to: is this a question of 'Be where you are' or 'Change your mind, change your life'?

I've tried changing my mind and the little fucker keeps changing right back. I've tried chasing it down the hall way to see where it goes and it never goes anywhere except made up narratives about the world punching me in the face. (Thank goodness I was able to bookend that otherwise this post would have made no sense whatsoever.)

Fuck it! The point here is I've got no point. I'm just at a shitty little place in my life and today I felt like sharing that. I'll get over it. I'll take it to God and he'll help me because I've asked for it. I'll give over the burdens and I'll get back to working on the larger questions of life. Maybe in my quest to 'Get back to the basics' I've gone back to a base emotion. Maybe that's it and this is where I get to decide I don't like this and don't want to come back. Maybe...
Either way, this is a tough one for me and I just wanted to share it with anyone who would listen, and today dear reader... that's you.

Edit: Some two hours later I read this:
"The unhealthiest thing you can do with anger is to deny you have it. The miraculous perspective is not to pretend you're not angry, but rather to say, 'I'm angry but I'm willing not to be. Dear God, please show me what it is I'm not seeing." Marianne Williamson.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Bob Ross-n' like a champ

Ok, so some of you may know, some of you may have even seen... I got into painting this last year part out of necessity and part out of the fun of creating shit. So this weekend I decided to do another one and thought I'd share my "process" with you.
Hope you enjoy it!

So last year I tried to get messy and just paint something random. I kind of fail at that and the result was...
Hated it!

So this weekend, I painted over the whole thing in black to mask all that color and then started a new painting over the old. With some help from YouTube and some layering tutorials I did this:

So I wanted some background color, hence this base of some red and purple/blue.

However, I'm doing a night scene for my bedroom, so I want that cloudy nighttime look

Here I added some landscaped hills at the bottom and the start of a moon.

Added the details of the moon...

Then added a tree and a bit more detail on the landscape.

Now in the actual finished product the colors show through a bit more than they do here, and the whole thing is a bit brighter; but... you get the point. 
Hope you enjoyed painting with me!!! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Have a little faith in time?

Time isn't real, let's get that out of the way first...

Okay. Now that we've accepted that premise, we can move on. Anyway, one year ago today my world got flipped over and all the nasty little bits that were hiding under the stoic rock that was me were exposed to the light and had to start scrambling for safety. Unfortunately for them, there was nowhere to go and some real cleaning out had to be done.

I'd love to sit here and tell you that I'm enlightened and all has become clear after a year of work, but that's obviously not the case since I'm sitting here typing a blog. What is real is this:
- It was a tough year.
- I did a ton of self examination.
- I did too much self examination and not enough self-shifting change.
- I did a lot of forgiveness on myself, others, and the world around me.
- I still have so much forgiveness to do.
- It was a good year.
- Looking back on it like a "spiritual and growth stock ticker"; my stock has risen a ton!
- I feel great about my life right now.
- I feel like there is a lot of work to do in my life right now.

What's Now? Now my life is like watching a coin flip though the air. I can see heads, tails, heads, tails, good, bad, good, bad, change, stagnation, change, stagnation, openness and defensiveness. As I watch my life sail through the air, I'm trying to focus on the heads (good) things that are happening and calling a heads into my life all the time. However, when a tails (bad) aspect comes up, I try not to judge it as "bad" but forgive and move on. What I've come to realize is that every shift is just another flip of the coin. Ever choice is a coin flip and I have to have faith that God will let me land on heads if I just let Him, and that when a tails comes up, it's just another lesson to learn from and move on.

"Work the lessons. Not just those in the ACIM Workbook, but all the lessons that come to you. The people, events, and experiences that show up in your world are not random. They are orchestrated by a Higher Power that loves you in ways you do not understand. At every moment God is extending a hand to you to lift you out of quicksand and onto higher ground. Stop fighting life and let it love you. Miracles are seeking you. Now you must let them find you." -Alan Cohen

Yep. That. Thank you Mr. Cohen.
I've given up so much control over what happens in my life these days that it really just seems like the day does what it wants and I'm just here to move along in it. I still keep a schedule and show up to my job on time, but as far as how that goes... hell I have no idea. Like I've said in previous posts, I'm done playing by the rules of what "should/can" or "should/can not" happen and just starting being. I'm just now starting to figure the difference between what I want and what God wants. I'm just now starting to figure out how close those things are to one another and what is required of me to let go of my ego's desires. I'm just now figuring out how great things are going for me once I get the hell out of my own way. It may have taken all the "bad" things that happened to get to this point. I even had to repeat last year's lesson again, but... I believe in me. God believes in me. My teacher and my friends believe in me. And I believe that one year from now, that stock ticker is going to be so so much higher.

I believe that everything is going to be just fine and just the way it should be.
That's a sentence that I could not have written one year ago today.

Progress, if you want to call it that, comes slow, fast, or all at once. But as long as you're progressing dear reader; celebrate it!

"Faith is the bird
that feels the light
and sings when the dawn is still dark."

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Don't Grieve Your Grievances -and- Life Comes Easy

What? Hang on... I'll explain that.

Welcome to 'What's Now' where once again I come to you as a student finding shit out about myself, trying to learn from it, and then somewhat reporting that here to you dear reader.

This week my theme has been grievances. Holding grudges, holding on to past insults, past slights, past "mistakes", and past pains. It's amazing how when you sit around looking at the past how much you have to forgive.
- Oh man, that one night when so and so said _____ and then I did ____.
- I used to get into so many confrontations with _____ over ______.
- I thought ______ about _____ the whole time and never realized it.
- _______ always brought up _____ in me and I resented it.
- I'm constantly thinking about _____ and it occupies so much of my mind space.

The above is not some spiritual Mad Lib but rather thought process that are home to my grievances. It's literally insane! This week I've opened up to not just letting these thought come in and pass through my mind but rather holding onto them for just long enough to say, 'No. I don't want this. I want to forgive this thought or this mindset and then truly and permanently let it go.' I don't want to find myself still being upset over past thoughts ten years, weeks, days or even minutes from now. I want now! I want to take things as they are now. Myself included. So much of the forgiveness process is self-forgiveness since it is only I that am upset here. I can release grievances and forgive others, but I also have to forgive myself for how I feel about any given situation or grievance as well.

"When you accept 100% of the responsibility for the choices you have made, you gain 100% of the power to make new and better choices." -Alan Cohen.

Sometimes poking around in your mind for how you really feel about something can be a bit scary. Sometimes I find myself going, 'Jeez man. That's dark... or that's kind of messed up.' But, that's how my ego is playing the game. 'Look. Look. This is you! You're really a bad person and you should feel guilty about this! Look how you've treated others and yourself. Look at how you keep making these same mistakes. This is who you are. You're not ever going to be able to shake this! You're 35 years old and this is where you are...again.'

Not so fast! There is a way out of this: Forgiveness.
"Forgive and Forget" maybe the phrase, but I prefer to look at it as "Forgive and Move on." Move. Move forward and move on to the next thing that you need to forgive. I have the power to make different choices. I can do that. So... what's the hold up?

Life Comes Easy.

The hold up is fear. The hold up is living by a set of laws and rules that I've created and don't even realize half the time that I'm adhering to. Forgiveness is great. It's chipping away at the past and guiding me into the present. The future is not mine to be concerned with. Now. Now is my concern. However, in order for me to shake the laws of the past, I must make different choices now in order to carry those over to the future.

Ever hear someone tell you that life is a struggle? Of course you have. We all have. You have to go to work, pay your bills... death and taxes... grind it out... blah blah blah. Where the fuck did those rules come from? Did I sign up for this? When was the contract written that says I have to struggle to get what I want? I know I've clearly been living by those rules. I've been playing my role and my parts in whatever situations I've found myself in order to play by these perceived rules. Oh hell, I've run all over the world playing by these rules! I'm a rule follower and a good student, and a good citizen, a good man, a hard worker, I'm all these things that I'm 'supposed' to be.

So quick question... am I happy?

(Let that hang a bit... really ask the question....)

Hmmmm.... Nope!

Okay then! So, fuck your rules and let's make some different choices in life. How about instead of acting a certain way in a certain situation, you just act the way you always do all the time? How about instead of looking outside yourself for happiness, you look inside? How about letting other people know what you're really thinking and feeling instead of constantly fearing judgment and rejection? How about just opening up and letting abundance come to you rather than trying to grind it out of life? How about you just be happy, be balanced, be at peace, be you as God intended?

Well well... we're on the path to tearing up some of life's "rules" and on to a much more natural state.
- I am happy.
- I am loved.
- I am at peace.
- I am open.
- I am honest.
- I am forgiving.
- I am connected to my source and my creator at all times.

We're starting here. Right here. Really simple, back to the basics. I'm tearing up old contracts that I never signed up for. I'm not re-writing rules because there are no rules. I'm erasing past grievances and past roles. Now is all that matters. Who I was, who they were, what I said or thought, what they said or thought... all the way back as far as I can remember... forgiven, moved on from. That's the goal here!

I do right here at the end have to share a bit of a story with you dear reader. A lot of this came when I was squatting on the floor in my apartment. Yeah you read that right, squatting. Sitting in a chair is not a natural human resting position. Squatting with both feet flat on the floor is. It may "look funny" to you because we've been trained our whole lives that sitting in a chair is proper and "natural." It is not. I was thinking about that when it just carried over to everything else. Squatting there on the floor, thinking about life I thought, 'How much other shit in my life do I believe is the right thing to do when in fact it's complete bullshit? How many other things have I been trained to believe that are utter nonsense? What else do I think is the right and 'natural' thing to do when in fact it is not?"

Life is hard? Fuck that. Life comes easy.
Other people do things to me and hold me back? Hell no. I do all that to myself.
Your mistakes are unforgivable? Nope. Everything is forgivable.
You have to play by the rules? Fuck your rules.
You've created your world and your role in it. You have to stick to that! Hell no I don't! I can choose something else.
Other people are going to judge you for this. Well, okay. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. Either way... at least this is what I really want.

Happy, open, honest, forgiving, loved, connected, and full of abundance. I'll start there and let the rest take care of itself.