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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

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Choices at the Crossroads

Every now and then we all feel as if we're standing in the middle of our road in life and facing a decision on which way to go. We've all been there. Standing at a crossroads in life and completely confused on which way to go. Choices need to be made and for a lot of us this is where fear comes into our lives and starts to upset us. But that's not always the case.

Sometimes when these choices present themselves we stop, sit down, and just relax. Sometimes, for the logically inclined among you, this is where you start your mental pros and cons list. For the emotionally inclined, you start to try and get a sense of what 'feels' right to you. For the undeveloped or untrained minds among us, this is where panic and fear comes in and you start to worry seeing only the unknown down each path. However, none of us can "know" what lies ahead. So each of us in our own way needs to find a way to stop, listen, and relax.

So how do you make the choice? How do you decide which path is right for you? How do you know which way to go? The short and simple answer is, you don't. And here in lies the beauty of the choice. You can't fast forward you life ten days, ten weeks, ten years and see how this choice plays out for you. You only have this moment; this Holy Instant in which you can stop, listen and... allow the choice to be made for you.

I've made 'bad' choices in life. I've found myself in dark places where my life seemed to be full of pain, fear, and regrets. In those times I questioned so many things: How did I get here? Why did I choose to take this path? Why in the hell can I not find peace? Why am I "trapped" in this dark place? When will this ever end? But if we all think back to those times in our lives we'll see that in the end there was an end to the pain and fears that dominated our mental processes. Maybe you're in one of those states, down one of those paths right now... so, how do you get out? How do you make another choice? The answer sometimes is more simple than you can imagine: You stop, ask for help, and allow a different choice to be made for you. You create another crossroads in your life and then allow yourself to take that path back to peace. The path back to God. You allow rather than choosing.

"In this insanely complicated world, Heaven appears to take the form of choice, rather than merely being what it is. Of all the choices you have tried to make this is the simplest, most definitive and prototype of all the rest, the one which settles all decisions. If you could decide the rest, this one remains unsolved. But when you solve this one, the others are resolved with it, for all decisions but conceal this one by taking different forms. Here is the final and the only choice in which is truth accepted or denied." -ACIM W-138

Thinking back to the 'bad' choices and 'bad' times in our lives... did they last forever? Is eternity riddled with pain, fear, and upset? No. At worst, we learned lessons about ourselves in those times. We grew as individuals and as brothers. We found parts of ourselves that may have upset us, may have delighted us, may have taught us more about who we really are. If you're like me, you may have found a choice that led you inward and back to your natural, peaceful state that is centered in forgiveness, love, and in an acceptance of what is offered to you from your Creator. 
(Wow, I understand that may sound really lofty there, and I'm not claiming Buddha status here... I'm still a work in progress but that is where this path is headed: Love and Acceptance of Truth.)

I've recently (once again) been reminded of one of my major obstacles to allowing these choices to be made. Patience. I have in the past been one to rush towards decisions believing that those who think fast, talk fast, and act fast are to be revered for their ability to make good decisions in such a quick manner without worry or fear. What I've learned is that, for the majority, that is not true. Those quick actions only mask the fear that is behind them. Any "failure" in those actions can then be just as quickly blamed on outside forces working against you rather than examined and accepted as personal and ego based. But what about doing things differently? How does that work? Maybe instead of acting, we can try listening, being patient, and then allowing those choices to be made for us.

But... but... but... then how am I to be in control of my own life? Where is the personal choice? What good is it to sit around and wait on things in my present condition and not 'pull myself up by my bootstraps' and get on with life? Stop. Ask for help. Listen. Accept the answer. 
When you've "been in control" and made your own ego based decisions is when you started down the paths that led to your upsets. (you. me. anybody.) So maybe when you find yourself at a crossroads you try something different. Maybe this time you just stop, sit down in the middle of the road, and just wait patiently. What's the rush? 

Like I said, I've found myself at crossroads before and thought that two separate paths leading to two separate lives awaited me. But when I stopped and just allowed choices to be made is when a third path opened up and I was ushered onto it. Patience is required here. Acceptance is required here. 

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." -Psalm 27:14

Oh man, I think I took on Emerson in a previous post and now I'm going to take on the Bible here. (Get a load of this guy!) We're not waiting on the Lord! He is already here! It is God that is waiting on us. While we dream of choices and paths in life and goals and achievements and upsets and fear and pain; God waits on us. If we forgive ourselves, let go, and allow, then we will feel the presence of God and see that our choices are already made for us. We only need do... nothing. 

Now dear reader, I understand that this post may be a bit all over the place at times. However, the message or point of is all is just this: The crossroads isn't real. There is but one choice and one path and that is the one back to our Creator. For me patience on this path is key. I need only see that there is no need to rush to certain "choices" because all I really need to do is take a seat in the middle of my road and instead of walking down it, allow the path to move underneath me. I will, you will, we all will one day stop our ego based mindsets and allow the choice to be made for us. So, stop. Have a seat today and relax.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Breaking up is not that hard to do...

It's not you... it's me. Really this time. Well, let's be honest... some of it is you.

At this time of year most people are really excited for the Super Bowl. America's biggest spectacle in sports where we all stand at attention, declare our undivided loyalty to the United States of America in flag waving, saluting, standing, singing unison before watching millionaires play a game that kids play for free.

Are you sensing a bit of saltiness from me today dear reader? Well the NFL has brought that out and now I'm walking away from it.  I've already quit my fantasy football league and I think I may have watched about one half of football in the playoffs. I may or may not watch the Super Bowl this coming Sunday depending on whether I have paint drying or not that night that needs my attention.

Seriously though, I used to love me some pro football. I still really enjoy college football but the NFL has just gotten tired for me. I don't like a lot of the players anymore and the ones I do like only get mentioned once a year when they give out the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

Soaps operas... not just for women anymore!
NFL news these days is all about what guy got arrested or accused of what crime and which coach is about to be fired for whatever reason. Honestly, following the NFL now is like watching a soap opera of overpaid young men being scrutinized for every move they make. And, if one of them does do something really bad, well he gets a fine or a few games on the bench and then, if he's a good player, he's right back out there on national television. These guys get away with shit that would have most of us fired for even thinking about.
Then there's the "pop-culture-ness" that has made it's way into the sport. Hey follow this guy on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat... see him read the morning paper, walk his dog, ride in his million dollar car, eat a sandwich, breathe in or out... Did you see who he's dating now? What club he went to in Miami? Who cares? Oh and don't forget to tune in Thursday for 3 full days pregame talk about a 3 hour game! If there isn't any real news, we'll just talk about what they wore to and from the game or who is trash talking who this week and saying a bunch of crap that doesn't matter.

Wait, this could cause brain damage?
Now, the issue of concussions has come up a lot these days too. I don't care about that. The NFL is risk v. reward. These guys can not claim they don't know that head injuries may result from the types of collisions that occur on every play in the NFL. You're paid to take that kind of risk. Burn your candle brightly young man and then walk away. Please, I don't like to hear from guys in their 30s and 40s saying "I didn't know this could happen." Um, yes you did. I don't like television companies pandering to those that are concerned about it by saying things like, 'The NFL should really look at changing the rules and protecting these players.' Yeah, if I wanted to see two-hand touch, I'd watch soccer. I want to see tackle football. Also, you (the TV network) make money from this. You have no interest in seeing your profits go down, so stop telling me you want to see the game changed.

Does this seem to be taking a long time?
Those of you that know me know that Baseball is my favorite sport. But, but, but, baseball is long and boring! Not so fast! The average MLB game is 2 hours 57 minutes and 33 seconds. The average NFL game in 2015? 3 hours 9 minutes and 26 seconds. And, between stoppage, huddles, replays, and timeouts, you get about 11 minutes of real game action football during that time. I can no longer laugh at those who watch golf on TV. The NFL takes about as long and has about as much action in it. So on Sunday, by all means, find a couch, turn on the football and grab a nap. Zzz...

Are we Nazi Germany?
Ok... don't freak out on me just yet. However, at just about every NFL game and certainly at every big game or playoff game, there is a HUGE ceremony before kick off for all of us to 'honor America and...' do a number of activities to show how loyal we are. I remember one Monday night game in December that I had on while eating dinner that I literally stopped and had to question where the fuck I was. There was a huge flag stretched from sideline to sideline; endzone to endzone and each branch of the military was shown and represented while the whole stadium not only sang the National Anthem, but God Bless America as well! We need two fucking songs now!? There were fireworks, salutes, more flags, birds... all kinds of shit for 15 minutes of American masturbatory excellence.

Don't question this!!! Why would you be against eagles flying overhead and fireworks and singing and flags!? Seriously, try going up to a group of ten people on the street and ask them if they see the comparisons between us now and the Nazis... Bet most of them will think you're crazy. What? No! Blind patriotism? No, we're just here for the entertainment. (Pay no attention the man behind the curtain).

As we look into the crowd we see that the Boys and Girls Club of America has come out to enjoy the game today. Good for those youngsters!

I just may have better things to do...
What? Me? On a Sunday in the Fall? Why of course I'm watching football! Well not anymore.
For those of you that may say, 'Well if you don't like it then just quit watching it,' I say to you: You're right, I'm done with watching the NFL. I just don't enjoy the NFL as a whole and all the water cooler talk about the players and games that I just don't care about anymore. I started to notice this year that for at least a few of my co-workers and I that the NFL was about 2/3 of what we talked about... and that includes work talk!!! Screw that! I'm done talking about people and teams that I don't care about anymore. I can't even fake interest in it. Meh! Just not my thing.

Never again?
No. I'm not saying: NFL bad, Me no watch ever! I may find myself with a free Sunday afternoon, night, Monday night, Thursday night... its on all the freakin' time that I may want some mindless distraction to be provided by the NFL. But I'm done following it and looking for it and listening to all the talk about it. If I feel like it I'll send some positive thoughts towards the Atlanta Falcons (God knows they'll probably need it) but I'm not going to consider myself a "fan" of the team anymore.

That's it, I'm done. Rant, drop the keyboard, and walk away!

Tune in later in the week when I promise to get my act together and get a real blog posted for you dear reader. Until then...

Friday, January 15, 2016

Just Be You

I remember as a child I liked to pretend that I was a waiter. Weird I know, most kids wanted to be firefighters or cops; I wanted to pretend that I was a waiter at a fancy restaurant. My grandparents and mom would sit at the dinner or breakfast table and I'd take their 'orders' and get their drinks while my grandmother finished up cooking. Spoiler, we we're always out of stuff at my restaurant and only had the daily 'special' of whatever my Memaw was cooking. However, people had their choice of whether they'd like their peas on or on the side of their mashed potatoes. I'd write it all down and then demand that the kitchen fill those orders to the letter as I filled tea glasses and waters.

Kids do that. They pretend to be something bigger than they are and for kids it's something creative and fun, a way to feel important. But what happens when you grow up? What are you pretending to be then? What story do you create and tell yourself, 'this is who I am.'? Are you stoic? Compassionate? Generous? Tough? Manly? This is just who I am... or people like me... or that's just how people act, are just statement of fantasy. They aren't real.

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hold on dear reader, I'm about to flex some hubris and disagree with fucking Emerson here. His quote should have been, 'To be yourself is the greatest accomplishment.' Because, the world isn't doing a damn thing to you. It's just you.

Think of a social situation you've been in, hell think back to High School if that helps. That petri dish of hormones and cultural discovery that was High School. How many times did you find yourself doing something that you knew wasn't right or acting a certain way to impress others? Or, doing the exact opposite just to prove you weren't? What if you could have stopped and just taken time to figure out what you wanted to do or who you wanted to really be... what would that have been like?

(Side note: If you are so inclined, look up an old High School teacher that made an impact on you and write them a note to say thank you. I just did and it was awesome. Those people are heroes. Thank you Mr. Freeman!)

Guess what? You can do that now. In this moment you can stop trying to be something, stop trying to fight something and just surrender to what you want to be. Just be your natural self all the time.

I've found myself in so many situations in my life where I've put on a face or played a role to "appear" to be something that I'm not. Truly living my life as something that I wasn't. Why? Why do that? For me at least it was a sense that people would reject me if they knew what I was. I would reject me if I admitted what I was really feeling. God would reject me and I would be judged as unworthy or unlovable. I would be unforgivable. I would be alone. I felt a need to suffer to prove to myself that I was just a man fighting to stay "sane" in an insane world. I had to suffer because what else was my world made of? It wasn't love that's for sure right? I had to be walled off to protect myself right? Suffer and fight. That was the world that I created to tell myself how unworthy I was. I had to pretend to be that person. I had to convince myself that I was unworthy.

But what if that isn't true? How awesome would it be if you just went out into the world and acted truly natural all the time? Your natural state of being; being a loving, open and honest person. Part of my growth in understanding over the past year or so has been just that. This is who I am! This starts with understanding exactly what that is. I had to spend some time learning what that means. Who am I? is a deep fucking question. The elimination of fear and guilt is a tough process. And it is just that; a process. There isn't a day that goes by now that I'm not faced with some form of fear or guilt that needs to be looked at. A lot of that is based in the past. Oh man, I can't believe I used to... I can't believe I... I said... I believed... but what if... ???

Two things that keep me on this path are love and presence. The love of God, love of myself, love of others and the development of the ability to recognize the moment. There is also a drive towards acceptance of those things. Accepting love and accepting that I have the ability to let go of the past and in the present moment make a different choice, or better stated, allow a different choice to be made for me. The ability to get out of my own way and just allow.

I used to have a saying, 'This is who I am. Take it or leave it.' But back then I didn't know who I was and that was just a way of saying to people, 'don't look at who I really am because I'm afraid to open up to you and I'd prefer it if you didn't challenge me on this.' Today however that statement would have a totally different meaning and context. I'm on a path of self discovery and self awareness. I am only seeking truth, real love, and the peace that comes with that. If you'd like to take my hand and walk with me I think we could really grow with one another. If not, that's ok. I'm still going to walk this path. I'm still going to be authentic and honest and I'm still going to express the love that is constantly growing in me. I'm still going to ask for help from my creator and from you. I'm just going to be me in each and every situation and in each and every moment. I'm not going to pretend to be anything else. I can't. That path leads to fear, guilt, pain, and separation from myself, you, and God.

I'll stop this post on one final note that has been a real help to me.
It's ok to shift and change. You can make that choice today. You can go out and look at the world the way you want it to be; the way it was intended to be. You can be you, the real you and you can do that now. You can stop putting up with toxic relationships, fearful mindsets, and painful realities. It's ok. It's ok. It's ok.
You have the ability to be you. You have the ability to love and be loved. Peace of mind comes with changing the mind. Change your mind and change your world. Just be you.

Until next time dear reader... I'm just going to be me.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Well isn't that Special

I heard a joke recently that, "Hipsters are the result of every child being told that they were special."

While this made me chuckle for a moment, something about it triggered some feelings of not only judgment (yeah, hipsters suck those neck-bearded too cool for school overgrown children) it also quickly brought up a nice little lesson for me. If those kids turned into summertime scarf wearers by being told they were "special" then what have I turned into by believing in my own version of specialness?

After some reading I came to the connection that what we hold as special in ourselves is what we turn into our sins. Or put another way, if I see myself as a liar I see myself as a particular kind of liar; a person who lies in certain circumstances in order to hide a part of myself from the world, my relationships, myself, and from God. My lies are my own special brand of lies and my own special sins and my own special self-created hell.

Now dear reader I'm going to ask for your "special" attention here because we're going to connect a few dots that may get a bit cloudy in between points. Remember when I wrote about abandonment and said that all of those feelings I was really just projecting back to God? If you do, good, because that's going to come up here as well. How about forgiveness? Remember that. Really awesome process that needs to be undertaken on so many aspects of our lives and applies here as well. So, with that in mind...

When I turn my "sins" into MY special sins, the things that make me a special kind of jerk is when I start to hide them. When I go into forgiveness on those "special sins" is when I get to the heart of my inward journey. Remember, we are not jerks, liars, and sinners. That is all an illusion that we've created in our own minds. Those are the things that we've created to make ourselves special and create our own little hell right in our own minds that nobody else could understand right? How could they? That shit is dark and makes me unlovable. And if I tell them about it, if they learn my secrets... oh man then what? We're all the same; we all have the same struggles and we all need to start by forgiving ourselves.

"Forgiveness is the end of specialness. Only illusions can be forgiven, and then they disappear. Forgiveness is release from all illusions, and that is why it is impossible but partly to forgive. No-one who clings to one illusion can see himself as sinless, for he holds one error to himself as lovely still. And so he calls it "unforgivable" and makes it sin. How then can he give his forgiveness wholly, when he would not receive it for himself? For it is sure that he would receive it wholly, the instant that he gave it so. And thus his secret guilt would disappear, forgiven by himself." - ACIM T24 D1.

That sin that we try to hide is what we call special in ourselves. But who are we hiding it from? On the surface we like to say from other people because we fear judgement. Deeper we would say ourselves because we feel guilt. And deeper still we would say we hide it from God because we feel both guilt and fear of punishment or being un-forgiven. And how can we begin to forgive others if we haven't first forgiven ourselves? We can't. It's that simple. We can't even truly ask for forgiveness from others because it is ourselves that we need to release from our own self created illusions.

"The special ones are all asleep, surrounded by a world of loveliness they do not see. Freedom and peace and joy stand there, beside the bier (coffin stand; don't worry, I had to look up that SAT word myself) on which they sleep, and call them to come forth and waken from their dream of death. Yet they hear nothing. They are lost in dreams of specialness." -ACIM T24 D7.

Forgiveness would free us all from this death sleep that keeps us from peace, joy, and happiness. Digging up that which we hate about ourselves and forgiving it is at the heart of all of our problems and encompasses our dream of specialness that we would try and hide from others, ourselves, and God. If you take your fears, your guilt and your specialness and project that back at God then you also need to forgive Him as well. Whoa! Hold on. Forgive God? What's He ever done to me?
It's not what He has or hasn't done, it's what you've convinced yourself that's been done to you and projected that onto God. Bad breaks in life? God. Cat died? God. Got fired? God. Flu? God.

"God asks your mercy on His Son (you and others), and on Himself. Deny them not. They ask of you but that your will be done. They seek your love that you may love yourself. Love not your specialness instead of them." -ACIM T24 D8.

That's it. Love not those things that you would convince yourself that you are other than sinless and loving. We are all love, peace, and true happiness. We just have to get all this other shit out of the way.

I just realized that I've typed a lot of yous, wes, and ours. Maybe there was a point to that, but just know dear reader all of this applies to me right now. I'm talking to myself here. I'm not trying to preach to you or convince you of any of this. I'm trying to take this and apply it to myself first. This past week I faced some things in my life that needed to be forgiven by me. I realized that there were things that I was holding onto that needed to be forgiven and needed to go. I am not special. My "sins" are not special. I am like you. You are like me. We are like God. It is only these "special" things that we hold onto and convince ourselves that we are separate.

I've said it before: I'm done hiding. I can no longer tolerate hiding from others, myself, and from God. There is no piano hanging over my head that will come crashing down should I reveal myself. There is no abyss that I will fall into. I want to learn and grow into who I truly am. I want to learn and grow with you all. I want to learn and grow with God.

What's now? Now is now. Now is all we have. So let's not spend it hiding and trying to convince ourselves that we're special.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Resolutely Patient

Well... it's 2016 and time to make resolutions. Or not. I've never been one to say well in the new year I'm going to do this or I'm going to do that. I've always thought that there is no better time to change your mind about something than now. Why start just because you hang up a new calendar on the wall? Why wait to change your mind about something? As my teacher says, "Peace of mind comes from changing your mind."

However, since this is my first post of 2016, I thought I'd share one shift that has occurred for me over the past few weeks. Patience. Why wait? Because sometimes it's best to be patient.

In the world we all find ourselves surrounded by there is a huge push for faster, bigger, more, and now! Give me more speed, more data, more stuff, instant upgrade, ship it to my house next day, don't make me wait in line, give me a pill that will make me feel better now. A lot of people get trapped in the cycle of consumerism and materialism and they want things to happen in an instant without recognizing the moment. In each and every moment is when things happen so if you want immediacy, then all you really need to do is get present. If you want peace of mind, then you just have to change your mind in that moment.

One thing I was reminded of last week was the concept of: The ego speaks first. Meaning in most of our being wrapped up in the Now! mindset we forget to stop, ask for help, and listen. We forget to be patient and let God speak and guide us to the right decisions and then actions. Sometimes this will feel wrong at first. But I just wanted to be honest! Well, maybe you needed to wait, maybe that person you were being honest with wasn't ready to hear that and maybe you weren't ready to explain why you felt or thought that way. Maybe you haven't done your work or your forgiveness on that yet. There is that patience that needs to be developed in order to give yourself time to do your own work and then allow, trust and have some faith that... everything is as it should be. For me, I have to work on allowing myself to be present first, then be patient, then allow the right course of action to take place. Seem slow to you? That's ok. There is no rush.

Do you ever feel anxiety about some future event? Well tomorrow, in a week, next month, I've got ____ coming up? Then you aren't being present for starters and second you're not willing to change your mind about that event now. Hence the anxiety. If you want now, if you want immediacy, then take it and change your mind now. Do you feel disconnected? Then get present. The only way to be connected to your world, yourself and your creator is to be in the now. And, I'm not here to spout of some 'go sit in a cave and meditate' philosophy to you, I'm just talking about taking a moment for yourself to get present. I've said it before dear reader, if you really sit with yourself and ask, "What problems do I have right now?" you'll find that the answer is... none.

For me this has come in a development of patience. I'm on a journey, a path, and on that path there is no time. (Take a moment to let your mind explode here). There is no time because there is no real end, there wasn't a beginning, and there is only this instant. For me there are three real examples of this: my development of my relationship with God, my development of my personal relationships, and my development of my own personal growth.

God -
This is one where a lot of us want to shake our fist at the sky and demand immediacy. Help me now! Do this for me now! Make me feel better now! And God is on His own schedule; a natural schedule that the rest of us just fail to understand most of the time. This relationship is one that can be the easiest to develop patience in when, at least for me, you develop trust. Ask and ye shall receive does not mean ye shall receive now. I used to think that God either ignored me most of the time or that my requests were not worth His time or that I might even be punished for even asking about certain things. I mean there's the whole universe and I'm asking for green lights on the way to work. (Not really, but you get the point). However, if 2015 taught me anything it was that God is indeed listening and He is indeed answering; it's just up to me to be patient and wait on those answers to develop and manifest in my life. It's up to me to take the time to listen and change my mind on what it is that I'm really wanting in a real sense. This development could take up volumes to explain or just this simple concept: God is my creator, I am as He created me, and we are all a part of His Love. It just takes a lot of patience on my part to let that sink in.

Others -
When you meet someone new or you enter a new group of people, a new environment or you move there are a lot of personal relationships that need to be developed. When it comes to intimate relationships there is a lot of patience needed. (See blog posts from well below this one to ask the question, what the fuck does this guy know about intimate relationships?) Ha! But seriously, you come up against a push to learn all you can about someone and reveal everything about yourself all at once. You want to skip or rush through the work and then just have the fun! All play and no work makes Jack an asshole. Here is where currently I'm working on patience the most. There is no rush. If the person or people around you are really meant to be around you, then they'll be there. "We're just taking it slow" is something people say a lot but don't really have a clue what it means. I'm learning moment to moment what that really means. I'm learning that the ego speaks first and that if I want my personal relationships to be holy relationships then I need to be patient and wait on God's voice to whisper the correct thoughts and course of action to me. I need to be patient and listen not only to those around me but for what God is really saying to me as well. We're all on a natural progression, allow it to progress patiently and get your ego out of the way while you listen to others and to God.

Self -
Oh man! Here is where patience is a must. There is no one that judges you more than yourself. Why can't you be more generous? More loving? More open? Less angry? Less guilty? More forgiving? Why are you such as dickhead, as one person in my life so affectionately calls me. If I'm doing my work; why aren't you doing more work?, then I know I'm doing the right things. If I'm being present, then I know I'm doing the right thing. If I'm listening and empathizing then I'm doing the right thing. If what I'm doing is coming from a place of love then everything is as it should be. I just need to be more patient with myself. The ego speaks first and judges me. The ego tells me I'm not good enough and it tells me that I'm wrong in order to keep me in a self created hell. (that just got dark). But seriously, patience is needed here to almost wait out that self deprecating egoic mindset and find and listen to your higher self. My self development requires the most patience. A lot of us want to wake up tomorrow and be the Buddha. Enlightenment now! But there is a lot of forgiveness to be done on ourselves first, a lot of love to be given to ourselves first, a lot of trust in ourselves has to be developed first. Just be patient and allow, accept, and love.

So this is not where I thought this post was going to go. Happens that way a lot of the time with these but... such is What's Now. Also, I just realized that God -> Others -> Self was a poster in my childhood Sunday School class and that I've completely redefined what that means to me. I've redefined a lot of what God means to me. I've redefined myself. I'm coming to peace of mind by changing my mind. I'm doing that all the time, moment to moment and that's ok. As long as I'm being patient and allowing rather than trying to force things to happen (or allowing the ego to try and force it) then everything will be as it should.

2015 was a year where my life got turned upside down and spilled out onto the floor. There were pieces of it everywhere and it was a mess. Today looking back I am grateful for each and every lesson I learned, for my teacher who helped rebuild me, for my own will to shift and learn, for each person who was a part of my life then and now, and for God who never left me. Patience paid off and today as I sit here, I can truly say that I have faith that 2016 will not just be some new year but a continuation of development that will bring love not only into my life but to those around me as well.

Until next time dear reader, just be patient and I'll see you soon. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Why it's Christmas Day Sir!

2015. Wow. What a year. I could write for days about all that's happened this year and all that I've learned. But for today dear reader we'll just look at December 25th or as most of us call it... Friday. Hahaha. Ok, I'll say it, Christmas.

As part of my challenging everything I "know" this year one thing I challenged myself to do was to look at Christmas differently. In years past I've been known as a "Christmas guy" to just about everyone. In the past I'd start thinking about Christmas as soon as possible, planning as soon as Thanksgiving was over, and decorating as soon as it wouldn't be seen as absurd. This year however things had to be changed. I had to "break up with Christmas" as it was recently described in one of the podcasts I listen to. (The Nature of All Things podcast; if you enjoy this blog, there are certainly topics on there you'll find appealing.)

Part of "breaking up with Christmas" for me meant challenging traditional Christmas stuff. So this year not a tree was lit, not a stocking was hung, no Christmas movies, no Christmas Who-pudding, not even roast beast! (Dr. Seuss I am not). I only bought one gift and that was for some friends of mine who have just been awesome this year and I wanted to just give something to say thanks more than Merry Christmas. If you walked into my apartment today it would look just like any other day. Not a sign of Christmas. I didn't go see any lights, I didn't cook any special meals, I didn't sing a single carol. Now, this wasn't in any attempt to poo poo Christmas or be a Scrooge, it was just stripping away all the traditional 'stuff' that I usually apply to December 25th.

So... What happened? What did I do? Well I didn't spring out of bed with a rush to rip open packages that's for sure. I did wake up early and drive myself out to the beach for some quiet time. (pre-coffee even) I've done this before, but today was totally different. It was so foggy out at the beach that you couldn't see for more than 40-50 feet and there was nobody out there. So, when I sat down to watch the surf and just be by myself, it was like sitting in a bubble. It was like I was in my own little world. At first I was sure a pirate ship was going to show up out of the fog and take me off on some grand adventure, then I realized they'd probably still be asleep. Sigh. After I settled in, I had a good hour of time to put Christ back in Christmas. That's what I wanted to do despite how cheesy that phrase may sound to some of you. I wanted to get quiet and get present not get busy and get presents.

The sign of Christmas is a star a light in the darkness. See it not outside of yourself, but as shining in the Heaven within, and accept it as the sign the time of Christ has come...
This Christmas, give the Holy Spirit everything that would hurt you. Let yourself be healed completely, that you may join with Him in healing. And let us celebrate our release together, by releasing everyone with us. Leave nothing behind for release is total...
For in the time of Christ, communication with him is restored, and He joins us in the celebration of His Son's Creation. God offers thanks to the holy host who would receive Him, and let Him enter, and abide where He would be. And by your welcome, does He welcome you into Himself.
(ACIM ch. 15)

I had read these words a few months ago and then again last night and this morning as well. It's what I went out to the beach this morning to meditate on. At Christmas, the time of Christ, communication with God is restored. That's not to say that this can't happen anytime, but, for me, I chose to make that my focus today. There was a lot of saying, "Here I am. I am here, now, with you; welcome!" In my little fog bubble there was no hiding, there was no holding back, there was only release and communication.

By the time I got back home, I was starving so I did make myself a nice breakfast and then took a nap. When I woke up however I found I was still hungry for some of my new Christmas so I went for a nice long walk and did some more communicating. And, that is pretty much how this day passed. Lots of being present. Just communicating and listening. Ok, and that long nap. This communication was the only gift I received today, and will last longer than any other I've ever received. What's better than a bike under your tree? Not having a tree and opening up rather than opening boxes. Again, I am not crapping on Christmas here. There are good things in traditional Christmas and everything is what you make of it, but for me today, that wasn't what I was looking for.

Why? Why "challenge" Christmas? Because Christmas was a big thing for me in the past. So were a lot of other things that have been challenged and looked at. Challenging Christmas today for me was a day that represents a life; my life. There is a lot of stripping away of tradition and roles and a lot of replacing that with honesty and presence. There was a lot of questioning what is important. There's guilt, fear and obligation being replaced by forgiveness and love. There is a lot of work to be done still, but the excitement and joy of actually looking forward to that work gives me hope and faith that 2016 is going to be a good one.

The week ahead gives us all a chance to look back and look forward as we approach the New Year. I'll probably pass on that this year just like I passed on the traditional Christmas. I think I'll just try to stay present, not plan, and just let life come to me. Everything will be as it should be...

As a bow on top of this Christmas post, let me wish you all a smile that warms your heart. If it's like mine today, it may last long enough to make your cheeks hurt. But you'll enjoy it none the less.

With Love, Merry Christmas Dear Reader!

Monday, December 21, 2015

An OBT Obituary

Oscar Bartholomew Templeton
Summer 2013 - December 21, 2015

Oscar Bartholomew Templeton or OBT as he was know to those closest to him, of West Ashley in Charleston, SC entered into eternal rest in the early hours of Monday morning. He was in his tank with his favorite plant and beside the two story temple that was his namesake. 

His funeral services will take place in the bathroom on Monday night and will be a private ceremony attended only by his caretaker in life. OBT had asked that any gifts in kind or remembrances be made in his name to the Charleston Animal Society. He is survived by his rocks, plants, small Buddha statue, and of course his temple and home.

Rescued one sunny day from a pet store shelf, OBT began his life in a meager plastic cup. He soon moved however to a plush tank with heat, a light, and filtered water where he lived a long life the best way he knew how. While he did enjoy swimming the most, he was also very fond of long naps near his temple. 

An Asian Beta fish, OBT's beautiful color and bright red fins were only eclipsed by his warming nature. Always willing to listen and never one to judge, OBT was a constant companion and a friend to all those who were lucky enough to know him. While he could have been described as ornery at feeding time, he was overall a gentle soul and one that will not soon be forgotten.