My photo
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.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Don't be a kill joy!

As many of you know here at 'What's Now' I like to take quotes sometimes and disagree with them. This one however popped up twice for me this week "randomly" and both times I was reassured by it that I'm moving in the right direction.

This week my theme seemed to be: Get back to the basics and I'm the only person that I need to or want to impress. Start small and move forward... celebrate your success... don't worry about what anyone else thinks.

I was triggered several times this week by small 'insignificant' things that brought up a lot of anger in me. Each time I lived in those moments was hell. Each time I was not in a present state of mind and each time I either did or said something that was not loving. However, each time those situations got shorter and shorter because I kept catching myself and asking, "Is this who you want to be?" Am I upset because that person said something about me or did something to me? Or am I upset for another reason? 100% of the time the answer was because I was putting something into the situation that caused me to be upset. I was the one choosing to get angry or "offended." I was the one who was comparing how I thought I was to how I thought I should be. How I thought the other person was treating me versus looking at the situation as it really was. I wasn't taking responsibility for my own emotions and reactions.

Where does that leave me then? Well it leaves me nowhere, because I'm here. However it does lead me to forgiveness. Self-forgiveness. Real forgiveness. I got so forgiving the other night that I damn near cried. "It's okay man. That's not who you are now. I forgive you. Yes, that happened, yes you did that or said that. So what? Is that who you are? Is that who you want to be? Guess what? You don't have to do it anymore. You aren't that. That doesn't have to be that way."
Now schizophrenic duel voice aside, some real shit got shifted for me in that. It felt like I was just talking to my past self and telling him that I was okay and he didn't need to feel guilt about it anymore. Past me is forgiven because what he did or didn't do doesn't affect me anymore. "I release you!"

Hey! I came here to read about comparison... you say.
Well I'm getting there... Comparison is the thief of joy because comparing myself to how I am and how I think I ought to be just sucks. I'm not there yet. I am right here. Today I take a step, tomorrow maybe I'll take another or who knows, maybe two. We'll get there when we get there. Comparing myself to my past self sucks too. I may feel better, I may like now more than then, but I can't compare because I can't crawl back into that mindset and I can't judge my past self when I'm too busy forgiving and letting all that judgment go.  Wait? What do you mean you can't compare to your past self? Well... okay, there will be times when I go, oh wow... I used to ______ and then think: 'Man I'm glad that's not part of my life anymore. I'm so much better off.' However, I'm not looking at past me and saying what a shitty place that was because I'm not going to project backwards any judgment or pull into the present any guilt over any of that. Sounds kind of douchey, but really it's not since forgiveness is weaved throughout it all.

Insert segue here

Ever had a happy day? Just clipping along and loving life, not sweating the small stuff like your bank account balance, the laundry that needs doing, or the week of work ahead. Just floating and enjoying it. I love those days. But in those days are where comparison kills joy most of all. You then see a post somewhere about Bill Gates and his billions being used to help
people while he's chilling by a pool somewhere and you think... damn, I may be well but I'm not Bill Gates well. Aaaaaand, there goes the good day. Now you're comparing. Now you're seeing yourself as less than because you've started putting things on ol' Bill and his billions. You think about your wish for billions or heck just $20 more to get a good lunch. You feel less somehow and you've just comparison killed your good day.

Flip that comparison around and in the same happy day you see a homeless many who is dirty and weak looking sitting under a bridge while it rains. Now you say to yourself, 'Well at least I'm not wet under a bridge depressed.' Um... who said that guy was depressed? Did you go talk to him and ask? Or did you just project that onto him? You're day just slid into comparison and then guilt over your "higher position" on the happiness ladder. See? Thieving joy all over the place.

Where this plays into my life right now is that I'm trying to compare myself to not only others but to my own expectations. I was getting down on myself for "not getting it" or "not being able to shift" or "not understanding how to change" or "not knowing what I want." I was thieving myself of the joy of my days. I was stealing my own happiness by not just forgiving and letting it go. I was not concentrating on myself and doing what I want to do and being what I want to be... right now! Not then, not next week, right now. Right now I want to type a blog. Wha-la! A blog is being typed. Randomly and all over the place I'm sure, but we're getting there.

My teacher has a cool analogy that he uses a lot that has been super helpful to me this week as well. If you're a second grader and you're talking to a senior in High School, then you're not going to understand what they're talking about when they discuss their calculus homework. (Side note: I never took calculus and didn't even know how to spell it just now). Anyway, the second grader can't get frustrated about it because that's not where they are! It's going to take a lot of time and a lot of lessons in life (school of life) to get to c-a-l-c-u-l-u-s. Okay, got it.
The point is if I'm siting here in second grade, then that's where I am. Let's enjoy it and move on to recess and art class. I'll get it and take in a few more ABCs and then move on to third grade. If I learn them well enough then who knows, I may be able to skip a grade, or two, or seven! If not, then hey, back to math class and move on. The point is, I can't compare myself to others who have been at this longer or who are opening up faster, forgiving more, forgiving less... because, that'll take all the fun and importance out of MY lessons. I've got to be the best second grader I can be. (sips juice box) I can't compare, one because I don't know enough about who or what I'm comparing myself to and two, it will take all the joy out of my lessons and my journey.

Bottom this line of thought out and you get to this: If you're busy comparing yourself to others, you're not spending that time looking at yourself; you're looking at others and practicing projection. Focus on yourself. You have only you to impress.

Back to the basics. Sitting here in whatever grade I'm in and learning the lessons as they come. I'm not trying to go after it all at once anymore. I'm just taking it as it comes and taking the pressure off. That whole "get it right or else you'll be punished" mindset is fading away. I'm saying, "Nah. I'm good. I am happy, and I'd like to stay that way."

Thanks for hanging with me this week dear reader. I know this wasn't the most eloquent of posts, but I did refrain from saying fuck this week, so... ooops. There was one. Ha! You're welcome!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sometimes being where you are...

...really fucking sucks!

Dear Reader,
I don't know who the hell reads this since I can only name about three of you, but the numbers say that dozens of people out there read my posts. Why? Who the fuck knows. And, after this post, that number may drop a bit. Or a lot. But you know what? I don't give a fuck! In fact, the numbers may swell. People do like watching a burning building and can't resist looking at a car wreck, so maybe you'll enjoy what's to come here on 'What's Now.'
There I said it. It's not that I don't like you guys, it's just that you may not like me a lot; and that's okay. I'm me. You take it or leave it. Accept it or reject it. I'll be fine (eventually) either way.

I say that to get to this. I fucking hate where I am right now and it's high time I make some changes around here. One, more F bombs! There's a voice in my head that says it's base and not really a great choice of writing styles. I'm choosing to tell that voice that I'm done playing by any fucking rules.

First (although this is about the third point), an update. I'm once again finding myself in an unfortunately familiar place. Another version of a long relationship has come to an end. Why? Me. There. That's it. It's me again. Fucking me. The emotionally withdrawn, defensive, stoic, role playing, role assigning, rule creating, rule following, master of his own illusion, asshole that is: Me! (This is not self-pity but calling it what it is. Don't try to sympathize with this version of me either, he's about to die a painful death).

Put yourself here: Your relationship ends... again. Your partner says they've done everything that they could do. A third party (who knows both sides of the story and can be trusted here) says that I'm not the one that got "dumped" because I am the one who ended it by withdrawing and not shifting. So, who's responsible here? Me! That's who.

Daaaaaaamn! (Insert Russian novel length diatribe on self-loathing, guilt, sorrow, and bleakness here). Fuckin'-A-Man; really? How in the hell did I allow this to happen? Again! What in the fuck??? I can type a thousand blog posts on lessons I'm learning, I can do forgiveness on whatever comes up, I can listen, I can pray, I can be patient, but for some fucking reason I can't get out of my own god damned way and be vulnerable, open and available to the people closest to me. I can't just fucking be me! I'd rather dick around and act the part than drop it all and get real. I'd rather watch all my closest relationships end... than get real. Ain't that some fucked up shit there now?!

And, you know where that has left me dear reader? Do you? It's gotten me to right the fuck right here. So wrapped up in self blame that I can't even allow myself to forgive myself for my mistakes. Mistakes! Fuck it. We all make them, we all get the chance to start over, we all get to reset and retry. So there's your optimism. I get to retry and get to restart! (fade).
Shit. I didn't want to be back here though! I certainly didn't intend to "let down" those that I had hoped to grow closer and grow older and take this journey with. But now those doors are closed and I'm left with finding an exit out of this shitty mental and emotional state that I find myself...again! (Have I mentioned that this has happened before? No need to beat myself up over it right? We get the lesson till we learn the lessons).

My lessons for the day could not have come at a better time: "I am determined to see things differently. I can escape from this world by giving up attack thoughts. I do not perceive my own best interests. I do not know what anything is for." -ACIM WB 55.

I do not know what all of this (or anything for that matter) is for. Amen to that. I don't know why I'm in this place in life, I have no idea where it's going, and I have no idea how I'm going to get there. However, I am determined to see things differently, and I am not interested in attacking others in my thoughts or my words. I am willing to see things differently, and I am not perceiving my own bests interests. How could I be? This whole time I thought I was serving my own interests and look where it's gotten me. Once again, by myself and emotionally torn up and in tears.

Dear reader, if you've made it this far, one thanks, and two, so far I have only one solution for us. Go back to the basics. Look within, find out who you are, what you want, and go be that. Go to God and give it all over. Give over the pain, the guilt, the anger. Go back to the basics.

Kurt Cobain once said, "I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I'm not." That's true. It's also true that he must have hated that shit himself since he took a shotgun to his head. I don't know what the fuck that has to do with anything, but the sentiment he was going for is what matters here. I've got to go back, not in any linear sense, but go back to the basics, I've got to figure out who I am, and I've got to start to love that person. Because I'm not about to live where I am right now in life. I'm not about to wallow in my own self loathing. I'm going back to the ground floor and I'm starting over once again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Real Raw in Haiku

This is me right now,
Afraid, conflicted, real scared,
This is my real face.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Have You Tried Turning It Off?

And back on again?

My Internet modem fried on Thursday night. Couldn't get a replacement till Sunday morning. So, I just finished spending almost three days without it. Wow. Wonderful. Really. It was kind of cool not having Google at my fingertips to answer all those random questions that pop into my head throughout the day. P.S. Tangier is in Morocco, but not the Capital City just in case you were wondering. You probably weren't though.

But that modem was pretty much a metaphor for my life right now. It's fired. Just done with it all and needing a fresh start. So, once again, I've turned it all off and am now sitting quietly as I wait on it to reboot. My power light is still on and I'm uploading information, but I'm just sitting here waiting on life to start streaming in again. Now, I have a fresh access point, some new hardware, and while a lot of it is the same, a lot of it is different.

My lesson this morning reminded me of just that:

God goes with me wherever I go.
"[This] will eventually overcome completely the sense of loneliness and abandonment which all the separated ones experience. Depression is an inevitable consequence of separation. So are anxiety, worry, a deep sense of helplessness, misery, suffering, and intense fear. [God is with me wherever I go] has the power to end all this foolishness forever. And foolishness it is, despite the serious and tragic forms it may take. Deep within you is everything that is perfect, ready to radiate through you and out into the world." -WB 41.

Yes. That. No matter the circumstance, whether the modem is running along or being reset once again, here I am and here God is also. It's tough to admit sometimes that I may have too much spam and I may stream one too many cat videos and blow out the modem myself, but at least I've gotten past the point of blaming others or God for my connection problems.

That's right dear reader... it's not you, it's not God; it's me. I've fried out another round of life and once again need to turn it off and back on again. Thankfully I know that I'm just a power cycle away from another opportunity and another chance to create life along with my creator. I'm just me and just rebuilding after another storm and another realization that this life is just about learning, just about growing, and just about figuring it all out... by letting it all go and getting out of the way.

Some things never change? Bullshit. Given enough time, everything changes. Looking back at the last decade of my life I am in serious awe of how much has changed. From who I was, to who I know, to how I think, to how I feel; everything has changed. Looking back over the past year of my life I am in serious awe of how much has changed. Looking back at the last week... I may not be in awe, but seriously impressed by how much can shift and change... that I am. There is the one ever present constant however; God. I may not see Him with my eyes, I may not hear Him with my ears, but I feel Him here and I can see him in the wind, the trees, the table, the chair, and the modem of my life. I can reach out and know that despite the circumstances that I've created for myself in this life, I can find God wherever I go.

"It is quite possible to reach God. In fact it is quite easy, because it is the most natural thing in the world. You might even say it is the only natural thing in the world. The way will open if you believe it possible." -WB 41.

The way will open and life will go on. With or without what you call or thought was a comfort to you, with or without people or things, life will go on and God will be there. Be you! Be open! Don't say no to possibility right now. Nothing is impossible and nothing has to (or will) stay the same. Make your choices, make your mistakes, make your successes, walk your road. However, despite what you may try to tell yourself, never believe that you walk it alone.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Defense does not win championships

In sports, there is a common belief that defense wins championships. Shut down the opposing offense and you win games; win games and you win championships. Being the champion means that you're better than, the best, the champion and the best.

In life, defense is killing me. Killing me? Really? Yes. Defensiveness is killing the real me. Behind all the defense is the real me the me that desires connectivity and love. The me that I want to be. Above all else I want to see this me and I want to be this me.
Imagine a castle. Already the first image that probably popped into your mind you saw walls, towers, gates, maybe a mote. Maybe a mote with some kick ass gators in there. No? No gators? Anyway, you immediately pictured the defensive capabilities of the castle. Why? Because that's what you've learned that castles are. Places to hide and places to defend what's yours, what is most important to you. Castles hold the king, queen, some really hot princess, or maybe some treasure. You keep those in the castle because you want to protect them from attack from the outside world. Those damned Mongol hordes are out there and they want your shit!

However, our true selves are what we are hiding in the castles of our minds. We've been taught and we've learned really well that we have to protect ourselves from the outside world because if we let people in, they'll see who we really are. Think of all the ways that you've hidden yourself from not only others, but the lies you like to tell yourself.
For me, sometimes I like to use humor. Make jokes to cover up what I'm really feeling. I am funny, but sometimes that spills over and is used as a way to cover up real emotions or prevent me from having a real experience because I'm looking to make some kind of joke about it. Sometimes I'm cutting because as I've been taught in the past, the best defense is a good offense. Bring someone else down and then they aren't looking at your shortcomings right? Sometimes I like to be apathetic. 'Meh. I don't care. Who cares? It's not a big deal.' All of those and many many more tactics are used just as defense. They are my walls, towers, and gator filled motes. They are what 'defend' me from the outside world. They are what prevent me from realizing my true self.

"In my defenselessness my safety lies."
The world gives rise but to defensiveness. For threat brings anger, anger makes attack seem reasonable, honestly provoked, and righteous in the name of self-defense. Yet is defensiveness a double threat. For it attests to weakness, and sets up a system of defense that cannot work. Now are the weak still further undermined, for there is treachery without and still a greater treachery within. The mind is now confused, and knows not where to turn to find escape from its imaginings. -ACIM WB 153.

Consider any "fact" that you've known for your whole life. 1+1=2. The sky is blue. There are 24 hours in a day. The Braves are the greatest franchise in baseball history. Wait? What? Never mind. There are lessons that we've "learned" in our lives that are repeated over and over again and  become "fact." They become part of what we no longer consider to be changeable and they become part of our reality. These "facts" no longer are questionable. They just are. Well similar lessons are taught and learned about ourselves. 'Well that's just who I am. That's just how she is. Oh, you know Jim, he's...' whatever.

But what about when those "facts" are challenged? That is when our minds become confused. In the context of defensiveness, my mind becomes confused when its told that defense is no longer needed. Safety lies in the presence of love and those that are around me who would offer me nothing but that. What do you mean? Aren't all these people just trying to Trojan Horse me? I bet once they get in here they'll jump out and start attacking and plundering my castle. Well that's awfully depressing isn't it?

So when does relaxation and balance come when you're constantly defending? Where does safety come from? Safety comes from no defense at all. Safety comes from trust. Safety comes from vulnerability and openness. Safety comes from being who you really are and letting others experience that and your growth in that. Open the gates, let others help you build your castle not for defense but for a haven of growth and love. Let them see the shitty side streets and then help you clean them. Don't hide the ghetto of your mind but ask for help in the gentrification of your slummy mind. Dropping the defense and opening the gates not only allows you to let others in, it allows you to take a walk in the countryside and maybe visit other castles as well. Maybe learn of other places that have the same problems you do. Maybe just maybe you can then work together to grow and improve together.

None of this gets done if everyone is sitting in the own castles locked away in their own towers. Stuck in your own mind means you're only allowed to take your own council. And, where has that gotten us? Where has it gotten me? A year ago I was so shut down and defensive that I let a relationship grind down to an ugly halt. I got an opportunity because of that to work on it and drop some defense and grow. Proudly, I was able to accomplish a lot. However, this past week my defensiveness once again not only stepped out of the shadows, it jumped right out and said 'Hey hey here I am! Don't touch my soft shit cause fuck you! Guards! To the towers! Close the gates! Release the gators! Fuck you people!' Fortunately, I was in a room with people who don't tolerate that and were able to say, 'um, hey, what the hell man?' Fortunately, I'm at a place in my life where I'm able to sit down and forgive myself for that kind of mindset and let it go... again.

It is a journey. My defense is still here. But I'm now at a place where I can choose to put down the sword, back away from it and say, "This is not who I am."
I may have been taught defensive strategies. I may have convinced myself that I need defense. I may have learned that being vulnerable is a bad thing. I may have convinced myself that locking my true self away in the castle of my mind is how to stay safe. But now I'm at a place where I can say no to that. I can put down the sword and leave my gates open. Like any habit or addiction it will take practice, persistence, and patience. It will take forgiveness. It will take love. This is not who I am. It is not the real me. So why protect it?
My strength lies within in my true defenseless self. I can choose something different. I can share my castle. I can open my gates and I can live openly. I can chose to learn different lessons. I can choose that now...

No gators were harmed in the typing of this blog.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

If you love it let it go...

Well I've got one less hat in my closet this morning. For the first time in over 16 years I'll be without my favorite Braves hat. Bought that hat at the start of the 2000 season and wore it almost everyday over my last few years in college and then... it went with me everywhere; and I do mean everywhere. College road trips, Peace Corps services, European vacations, Russian "adventures" and the list goes on.

That hat was with me in some amazing wonderful times and it was with me during some really low times. I've woken up on floors wondering how I didn't lose the thing during the adventures the night before. It was with me when I met some really important people in my life, it was on my head when I left people in my life, it was knocked off my head in one or two confrontations in life, and it was put back on my head by some amazing friends in life. It was on my head when I built things, on my head when I tore things down...

Over the years it saw the sun, snow, rain, wind; it was even blown out of a convertible at one point and the driver forced to turn around for its recovery. It got a bath in more bodies of water than I can count and even took a shower with me one time on a dare. It had gone fishing, hunting, camping, skiing, flying, and driving. That hat has seem more life than most people ever will.

Since I got that hat the Atlanta Braves amassed a record of 1,408 wins and 1,182 losses. Not too bad. The hat went with me to see the retirement of Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones. It went with me to see so many gods of Summer hit a ton of balls over walls and so many amazing pitchers paint corners like masters. Hell it was even on my head when I hit home runs... in softball.

But, after all these adventures the old blue and white... yes that hat was originally blue; had to be laid to rest. The bill was about to fall off, it was a little stiff on top, and frankly, it had developed a bit of a smell after all these years. So, as this rebuilding Braves season begins, I decided it was time to rebuild my hat collection and let this old boy go. Only one fitting way, only one more element to complete its journey... fire.

Good bye my old friend. You were so so well loved.

Monday, March 28, 2016

What do YOU want?

Ever feel like sometimes your life comes down to a balance between what you want and what you can have? Meaning, do you ever feel like you don't have everything you want in life because, well... that's just impossible right? Pizza and dessert? What are crazy!? One or the other here fat boy.

What if it isn't like that though? What if you could have everything you wanted? Just poof and there you have it. Tricky thing is, you'd have to know what you want first. Some people say money, power, and fame! Wooo! Champagne bottles! But at the end of the day those empty bottles lead to empty lives. The fame and fortune aren't as fulfilling as they might appear to be on TV.

I think if we all truly had what we truly wanted, our lives would look very simple and somewhat "boring" to the mainstream of society. I think if we really boiled it down to brass tax (idioms come free of charge this week) we really only want Love. Now, we might get to that by needing forgiveness, understanding, empathy, intimacy, openness and honesty but all of those are paths to... Love.

Remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs? Here...
Back when most of us took Psychology 101 at one point in our lives we saw this table. Start at the bottom, work your way up and boom. If all your needs are met you're well on your way to being a healthy individual in mind, body, and spirit right? The only problem here is that we've learned that most of the things on this chart we can do without and still be quite healthy. In fact a few of them are impediments to that process. Take "achievement" for example. Trying to "achieve" something that falls into the "respect by others" realm of conscience could in fact be very dangerous. Because you skip the question of do you want to do this? Does respect = love? Take a look at any of those things listed above and ask does X = Love. 
Now I can ask you to skip the "physiological" section on the X = Love question (minus sex of course because if you feel no need to reproduce that moves up to "Love/Belonging" and even then it does not hold up to the "math"). But even the title of that whole section "Love/Belonging" is misleading. Friendships don't equal Love, neither do families or sexual intimacy. In fact all three of those can easily be toxic and harmful if not used as places to grow love. They can in fact keep us away from that which we want the most. 

Ever gone to a place with someone to order food and been influenced by their decision? Comes time to order and you've had your eye on that juicy burger but they order something like a salad and it makes you totally rethink your decision. Uh uh uh... club sandwich! Damn it! I didn't want that! But that's how most of us have chosen to live our lives. Other people say: Get a job, be in a family, have a family of your own, have lots of friends, buy a house, get the new i-phone, gain the respect of others, wear this, drive that, eat this way, talk this way, it's what you do. Well... what do you want to do? What do you want?

We all want Love. The love of God. Simple right? But what about all these lessons we're surrounded by day in and day out? Our jobs, our relationships, our own mental practices... what do we want from them? What do you want? is not an easy question to answer most of the time because a lot of the time we just don't know. We know what we're told we should want, we know what we don't want a lot of the time, but how many times can we truly say that we're clear on what it is that we do want? 

Take intimacy for example. (We'll start with a nice easy subject like that. Ha!) I recently had a conversation in which I discovered that I and the person I was talking to had completely different definitions of that word and perceived the act of giving and receiving intimacy completely differently. Does that mean that we will never have an intimate relationship? No. Does that mean that neither of us can ever truly fulfill our version of intimacy with one another? No. It does mean that we have an opportunity to share with one another and express what it is that we want within our relationship, if we want it to be intimate, and if we want it to be loving. This could come down to a chicken or the egg (idioms all day people) type situation. Does a loving relationship lead to an intimate one or does an intimate one lead to a loving one? Can you have one without the other? Does it matter which is first? Are they even different? I think all that matters is that both parties in a relationship say what they want! 

I want Love. I want to give love and think nothing of what if anything comes back to me. Remind yourself of that before you move on to 'what do I want in ____ scenario.' Work, family, relationships, whatever... keep the focus on 'how can I make this a more loving ____?' and you'll have what you want in the end... Love. Sounds easy enough right? It does get tricky to me though on the "form" of certain aspects of my life. What if I just don't know? What if I don't know if I want a relationship that includes cake on Fridays? (pick an arbitrary aspect to ask) Are you okay with never having children? Are you okay with not being the one who chooses your linens? But ask: how can you make cake or linens more loving? 

Until you're clear on what it is that you do want it's always okay to be patient, always okay to be open, always okay to be loving. Take time and figure out what YOU want. Because, at the end of the day you can only live your life for one person and that's you. I'm learning more and more that's it's okay to not know, it's okay to be patient, and if I'm doing things, saying things, and acting truly from a basis of love, then I have nothing to worry about. I'll figure out what I want and when I do I'll honor that. Until then... I can only look for the one thing that I do want... Love. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Where Does Fear Come From?

Where does your fear come from? Why are you afraid? What's the motivation?

We all live with some level of fear. Whether you call it anxiety or stress or nervousness, it's all just fear. I read an article a few months ago that claimed that fear is a natural state for humans on some level because it's what kept us alive back in the cave man days. Back when everything had bigger teeth and bigger appetites than us, fear is what kept us aware and alive. Being afraid of bumps in the night kept us from being a midnight snack and allowed us to stay alive. However, now that we're the dominant species on this planet, there aren't too many situations that we find ourselves in where that level of fear is needed... but it's still there.

These days it seems that we've just found new things to project that fear towards. Maybe public speaking is your lion, maybe walking alone at night is your tiger, maybe heights is your bear... oh my! (too easy there). Seriously though, all of us are afraid of something and maybe we're just struggling to define what that something is.

Think about all the things you're afraid of... rejection, abandonment, not being loved or valued, not being taken seriously, being alone, or how about the big one... death. We're all afraid of death. We all have a belief that we will die and that we can "lose" all of this that we've surrounded ourselves with. But where do these fears come from? And, why? Why? Why? This is a question that I've been struggling with for some time now. Why am I afraid?

I've come to learn that we are all afraid of punishment from God for all the "bad things" that we've done and all of our fears are just manifestations of that one fear. Especially death. Death (health issues, cancer, strokes, heat disease; all of them) is the one thing that our ego has convinced us has to happen. We have to die! That's it; turn off the music, shut off the lights, time to end it. You only have the few years here on Earth and then it's all over. Ashes to ashes, get your ass in the ground.

All of those fears that we carry around with us are just little fears of death. Some of us will cling so hard to life out of nothing more than fear of the "unknown" of death. It's only the belief that life continues on after physical "life" that can eliminate those fears. Only the belief in a strength of God eliminates those fears. We try to convince ourselves that our strength will save us and we insulate ourselves and hide from God in order to try and hide from those fears.

"There is nothing to fear. The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength. The awareness that there is nothing to fear shows that somewhere in your mind, though not necessarily in a place you recognize as yet, you have remembered God and let His strength take the place of your weakness. The instant you are willing to do this there is indeed nothing to fear." -ACIM WB 48.

Remembering God. Ah! That is what I've been reaching for lately dear reader. Remember that God is with me and that there is nothing to fear. Trust. Just getting back to trust and knowing that there is nothing to fear. Even if the Bengal Tiger comes through my apartment door and stalks me down and rips my limbs from my body; I have nothing to fear. I will continue on. Then, where will my fears go? They will go with everything else, my books, my computer, my couch, all will be left behind as I return to God. Death can not be feared for it is not an ending. All of those little things that we make so big in our lives can not be feared because they are not who we really are. We are love and we are here to learn just that.

Go today and know that you are loved. Go today and remember that there is nothing to fear because you are not alone. God is with you.

(Not just for Douche-bags anymore)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Judgement is not for you...

Do you ever see someone and immediately "not like" that person for whatever reason? Maybe you don't like people with visible tattoos, people who wear a lot of camouflage, homeless people, hipsters, obese people, or people pushing a stroller with three kids in there. What causes you to "not like" this person? Judgement. You're judging them.

From what I've learned what we judge other people for is what we really fear that we have the ability to become or what we fool ourselves into thinking we're not; what we fight with ourselves to not be. What this is is just a separation that we've created between ourselves and this person that we judge when in fact these people are just mirrors of ourselves.

"As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself." -ACIM T-8.III.4:2-5

You will find yourself or lose yourself. You will either find that you are truly connected and there is really no difference between you or you will lose your mind by convincing yourself that you are different. We all have to get to a point where we see no difference, where we judge to separation because we no longer see a separation between us. We all have to ask the question, "Would I condemn myself for doing this?" -WB124.

Are we not all in a position to grow into God's love no matter where we are? I believe that no matter where we are that there is where we begin our journey back to God. And, none of us have the extensive knowledge of the universe to be able to say where another person is on their journey. All of us are here learning our lessons, starting from different places, learning at different paces, some of us learn certain lessons easier than others, but we're all learning our lessons. If I see a racist and judge him for his hate, then that reminds me that I have my own anger to forgive and learn from. I don't have the ability to judge him for his anger because I don't know his lessons. If I do judge him, then it shows me what I fear in myself. I fear becoming a racist full of hate because somewhere I harbor that belief about myself. That's what "condemn myself for doing this" means.

We all share the same emotions and the same fears about the darker parts of ourselves and the higher parts of ourselves as well. It's what we choose to see in others and in ourselves that will manifest in our lives.

Think back to when you were a kid and you're parents taught you what was wrong or right in the world. The boy in school who got bad grades, acted out, and had head lice was not to be imitated but judged as "bad", dirty, and, a failure. You were supposed to sit quietly, do your work, and clean behind your ears everyday. Why? because that's what "good boys" do and they grow up to be good people; right? Early on we were taught the difference between what makes "good" people and "bad" people. Winners vs. Losers. Rich vs. Poor. Right vs. Wrong. And some of us were taught to judge and separate from those "bad" people and look on them as "lesser" than ourselves.
That thought system was wrong. We were taught the wrong things. How can we know this? Because they taught separation and they did not bring us connection to others, to God, and to ourselves. They did not make us happy, they made us judgmental, and they allowed us to feel guilty over that judgmental mindset.

"If the outcome of [your curriculum] has made you unhappy, and if you want a different one, a change in the curriculum is obviously necessary." -T-8.I.5:2
That's it. If you want a different view of these people and your world, then you need to change your mind. You need to change your thought processes and you need to change your whole curriculum. We all have to work to change how we project our entire world and forgive our separation from those in it. We have to be able to see them as we see ourselves, forgive ourselves so that we don't have to judge them, and then continue to practice not judging them for those fears that we have yet to conquer in ourselves.

Stop. Ask for help. Remember your connection to God and those around you.

This past week I tried really really hard to keep this in mind. Walking through life and constantly reminding myself that I don't know what any situation is going to bring me and I have no ability to judge it because of that "situational ignorance" was a very enlightening practice.
Have you ever told yourself, 'oh this is going to suck'? How did you know? What if that situation brought you an important lesson? What if instead you said, 'Help me to see this differently' or 'I don't know what anything, including this means.'? Well then you'd be able to stop and be able to just allow a situation to unfold rather than judging it and blocking what is intended to come your way. Not judging allows you to get out of your own way. It allows you to connect rather than separate. It allows you to learn rather than projecting what you "know."

Try it today. Try it this week. Tell yourself that you don't know. Tell yourself that you have no idea what anything means and that you have no way of judging it. Just let it 'play out' so to speak. Seek out those that you have judged and find what it is about those people that you see in yourself. The addict? What are you addicted to? The lazy guy? What to you do to overcompensate for that in your life because of what you fear in yourself?
Ask questions and then don't answer them. Let them be answered for you. Observe but do not judge. You'll find that there are lessons everywhere out there for you and that all of us are learning the same ones, we're all on the same path, we're all connected and there is no real separation between us.

Our judgment separates us. Our ego loves to judge. Our ego separates us and is the voice that tells us that "we know" what others are really like and how they're different and less than us. Listen to a different voice. Change your curriculum. Stop judging and start listening, looking, and get comfortable with connecting to the love that is all around us waiting for our acceptance.

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...