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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

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.