The other day, I was exposed to Covid and feared I would have to quarantine the very weekend my boyfriend was supposed to come home for a few days. I wrote a post about it earlier in the week, right before I went and got tested. In that post, my focus was on learning to sit with uncertainty. All at once, a four day weekend I had been looking forward to for over a month threatened to disappear in an instant. Not only had I been exposed to Covid, but there was a tornado near where Nate was away at training. Nate was sent home early, with the caveat that he may also have to go back early, spoiling our plans.
That night as I talked with Nate on the phone, I could hear the unrest and discomfort in his voice at all these sudden changes. Neither one of us knew what would happen in a few days time. I tried to remain hopeful while also making peace with the worst case scenario. No matter what the outcome was, I was prepared to stay positive. For the first time in a long time, I had complete faith that the universe would deliver me exactly where I needed to be, even if that wasn’t where I had wanted to go.
When I received my email with a negative test result yesterday evening, I felt overjoyed. At nearly the exact same time, I also got word from Nate that he would still be allowed to keep our plans. Not only that, but now we would have an extra day together. It felt as though the surface tension of uncertainty had finally broken. All was well. I was relieved, grateful, and even felt proud. I was proud of myself for being able to surrender to the unexpected. It felt as though my trust in the universe had resulted in a reward. When all these issues first arose, I told Nate that we had either been blessed or cursed. Only time would tell which. Turns out that we were blessed.
I feel so reassured and even emboldened by the events of the last few days. I had been able to surrender to the universe, to the unknown, and I had been rewarded for my faith. Normally it is quite hard for me to lean into unexpected situations. But this experience has taught me an invaluable lesson: that it is okay to trust. I have everything that I need. I have always had everything that I need. I will always have everything that I need. The universe has and continues to take such excellent care of me. I am so grateful.
I taste the thick sweetness
of summer air
A shimmer of satisfaction
ripples through me
Enveloped in a world
so miraculous and perfect
humbled by the chance
to simply be
my soul sings sweetly along
with the heartbeat of existence
So much beauty to behold
the many layers of this life
an endless spiraling
inwards and outwards
far past infinity
Unfurling like a flower
to the sunlight
my innermost essence
opens to encompass
the vast vibrations
of this earth
Five superpowers called senses
ten fingers, ten toes
a body that heals and grows
a brain that questions and creates
at one with all there is
but also somehow separate
How sublime it is to surrender
to the deep knowing in our bones
that stardust inside of us
that says, "all is well"
that tells us, "have faith,
and you will find all you seek"
One high school memory that still haunts me to this day is from my junior year photography class. We were going on a field trip to the Andy Warhol museum. I never like Andy Warhol’s art. I still maintain that he’s not a good artist, he just became famous for being a weirdo that people were interested in. I kept professing these kind of sentiments and complaining that this was where we were going. Eventually my teacher cut me off. Irritated, he said, “Bite your tongue.” I felt so ashamed and honestly wished I would never have to speak again in that class. I wanted to disappear.
The reason this memory sticks with me is because it seems to mirror similar situations throughout my life. There have been many times when I’ve ended up embarrassing myself or making my own life more difficult because I seem to be unable to bite my tongue. It is usually when I am feeling angry or irritated about something. It is very hard for me to just let things go for some reason. I feel compelled to voice my displeasure. Loudly and whenever I get the chance.
For example, today I have to stay late a work for what seems like the thousandth time because of a particular CPS worker that likes to take advantage of my friend and coworker’s good nature. We will stay after hours to do emergency interviews. Sometimes a child is in immediate danger and it’s necessary that we talk to them as soon as possible so we can make sure they have somewhere safe to go. However, this CPS worker just uses the word “emergency” to manipulate and control us so that things work better for her schedule and deadlines.
The interviewer I work with is a very nice, easy-going man. To him it’s never a big deal and he takes pride in the fact that he never refuses to do an interview. He always says that I don’t have to stay and he can do it all himself, but it just wouldn’t feel right for me to let him do that. So here I am, stuck doing two interviews at 4:30-6 or 7 today when our office closes at 4. And surprise, surprise it couldn’t be further from an emergency. The children are completely safe.
My problem isn’t even that I have to stay late without pay (we are a very small non-profit that only gets paid for 40 hours each week no matter what), it’s that this horrible woman continues to take advantage of us for her own convenience. In my nearly two years with this organization, no other CPS worker has asked us to stay late. Not only that, but this specific worker does it practically every single time we get a call from her. It just makes me feel so furious that someone even has the nerve to do this continuously to such nice people like my coworkers.
On matters of injustice or unfairness, I have an especially difficult time biting my tongue. It’s one of the reasons I still struggle to do so when I hear idiotic comments about veganism. I get a familiar rumbling, hot sensation in my chest that causes viscous language to spew out of my mouth like a volcano. It never makes anything better though. The anger continues to build. Not only that but when I speak out I also start to pile on feelings of shame and self-hatred. I’m embarrassed by my uncontrollable outbursts, and by the way others look at me when they see me so angry.
I’ve always clung to the idea of operant conditioning and to the idea that staying quiet and complacent is the same as condoning a behavior. At least those are the reasons I give myself to rationalize my violent reactions to these types of situations. I feel it is my duty to do something, to protect myself and others from injustice or abuse. I feel very passionately about it. But I don’t want to feel this way when the result is that I become spiteful and vindictive. The outcome is never restoring justice, it simply ruins my day and possibly the image that others have of me as a person.
When days like today happen, I have been trying very hard to use them as an opportunity for personal growth. These are the moments that I’ll need to utilize in order to begin to create new, more healthy, productive, socially acceptable pathways in my brain. It’s never easy. I still get caught up in brooding over all the reasons that I shouldn’t be put in this situation, finding fault, blaming others, and coming up with ways to make these things stop happening, or at the very least to get revenge. I feel a great resistance bubbling up inside when I try to transition away from these thoughts to more positive ones. Something inside of me is always dragging its feet, insisting that if I allow myself to be okay with this, it will happen even more, and the injustice will continue to expand and grow larger. Part of me still tends to believe that’s true, but even so, I’m missing the point. Does it even matter if these things happen to me more if they no longer produce such toxic emotions?
I am trying to stay curious. Rather than getting wrapped up in the spiral of self-justifications, I ask myself, “Why is this so hard for me? What is it that keeps me from letting this go? Wouldn’t I rather be happy than right?” That’s really what it comes down to, that last question. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that being happy is better than being the smartest person in the room or being right or even having control. When I start feeling like I am helpless and powerless in a situation that is out of my control, I just need to remind myself that I am always in control. Maybe not when it comes to what happens to me, but I get to decide how I react to those things. That is what is truly important.
As I continue on with this unbearably long day, I am going to choose to focus on all of the things I have to be grateful for instead of the few small irritations that I have to put up with occasionally. I love my job. I love the people I work with. I love (most) of the people in the other organizations we work with. I can get away with coming in 15 minutes late everyday. I can leave early another day since I’ll be staying over tonight. I got to work from home for nearly a year. My job is usually easy and not stressful. Yesterday I got to spend the whole day at the office chatting with my lovely work friends. We even got lunch delivered to us from Panera thanks to one of the board members. I am so grateful for having the opportunity to be a part of this place, even if that means learning how to bite my tongue sometimes. This is a valuable skill, one I genuinely want to learn. So I should also be grateful for these opportunities to practice it.
Last night I was able to manifest an enlightening moment of expansive loving kindness. Just the moment before that, I felt like I was on the precipice of a panic attack. I felt held together by just static and stitching. I was afraid I was going to pieces. But I managed to blossom instead. I decided to stop fixating on trying desperately to hold myself together. Instead I chose to reminisce, to remember what it feels like to feel in love with this life. To find a seat of gratitude within my soul. To shift my vantage point.
I so rarely remember that I am capable of doing this. It seems so impossible, yet so easy. I forget to even stop and consider trying. So often we feel like merely the passengers on this journey, or like we are lost at sea, at the mercy of the ocean waves far from the shoreline. We are fighting so hard to keep our head above the water, that it doesn’t even occur to us that we can choose to breathe below the surface.
Life is very similar to dreaming in a lot of ways. Maybe that’s why I am always looking for messages and lessons from my sleeping mind. Last night felt like a dream in which you realize you are dreaming. Suddenly you remember that you are in control. In waking life we may not be able to completely alter the world around us, but we can completely alter our inner world whenever we want. We are the artists of the landscapes inside of ourselves.
If this is true, why is it so hard to believe it some days? I know very well there are times when fluffy thoughts like these cannot reach me. I mentioned in my post yesterday that this loving awareness, this simple bliss, these are my natural state. These feelings are the true expression of my soul. All I have to do is allow them to flow from me, to let my heart remain open. How quickly I’ve forgotten all the profound wisdom I read in The Untethered Soul.
So often I stifle and block my own love, my own happiness, my own peace. I block off that flowing spout of energy from my heart space. I begin working with brick and mortar from the moment I awake. I am an expert at denying myself. When my thoughts begin racing with everything that is “wrong” what it’s really doing is tallying up all the reasons that I’m not allowed to feel okay, to be happy. I’ve been telling myself “no” for so long that I started to forget I had the power to say yes. I am the one who has written these arbitrary rules on love and happiness.
I don’t have to wait for everything to be perfect before I let myself be happy. In fact, I have the power to decide that everything is already perfect right now. Today is an excellent, magnificent day to be happy. Nothing can take that happiness away from me, except me. It’s always easy to be in love, to be blissful, because this is how we are meant to be. The suffering and exhaustion that accompany depression, anxiety, anger, fear, hatred, are created from the immense effort of acting and feeling so contrary to our soul’s essence. It’s always harder to be something you’re not.
I think somewhere along the line this ever-present mindset of scarcity and limited resources, led us to believe that we have to ration our love, our joy. But that well has no bottom. We never have to fear we will run out of these things, because they are us, we are one and the same. I’ve learned to let the thinking mind limit my potential. I give myself “rational” reasons not to be happy. I tell myself I don’t deserve to feel good because of (x) or after doing (y). I’ve been feeling like I have to choose between denying myself or denying reality. But that isn’t true. I can be flawed and imperfect and still happy. Love and happiness have never hurt a situation.
No matter what I am faced with in this life, no matter what mistakes I’ve made or continue to make, I still deserve to be happy. It’s not silly or selfish or wrong. Because by sharing this energy with the world, I am doing what I have always been meant to do. What we are all meant to do. What everyone has been telling us to do since we were children. Just be yourself. That timeless, limitless, ever-present, powerful self that lies at the seat of every soul, the manifestation of love, of joy, of light, of hope. All we have to do is remember. Remember who you are.
In some ways anxiety disorders are about trust, or rather a lack of it. When you lack trust, you try to compensate for it with control. You try to micromanage every detail of your life so that you always know exactly what is going to happen and when. Inevitably though, things don’t ever work out as planned. Any small inconvenience becomes a huge source of anxiety. You find yourself unable to adapt and work with instead of against the flow of life.
Even though I’ve recognized this in myself, it still hasn’t exactly solved the problem. Knowing I need to learn to trust is one thing. Actually learning to trust is another. Trusting is like a muscle that needs constant exercise. It takes a long time to pry your fingers from that fear and desire for control that you’ve been clinging to.
It can feel insane to simply trust. I look at all of the horrible things that happen in this world everyday and it only makes sense to be afraid, to want to control my life as much as I possibly can. But the truth is, no matter how afraid we are, how vigilant we are, how much we try to control things, life is going to unfold as it pleases. In the end, our choice isn’t exactly whether or not to trust, it’s whether or not we want to live our lives in fear.
Even if I don’t feel ready to trust the universe, I can at least decide to trust myself. After all, I’ve made it this far. I’ve overcome so many obstacles. I’ve risen from my own ashes time and time again. I’ve taken that pain and that suffering and struggling and allowed it to help shape the person that I am today. And even though I say I’ve suffered, that’s relative. I’ve never gone hungry. I’ve never had to endure the cold or the elements. I’ve never been terribly ill. I’ve never even suffered the untimely loss of a loved one.
I have been extremely fortunate in this life. I want to work harder to focus on all the good things that the universe has put in my path, because they far outweigh the bad. Even when I’ve been confronted with something I didn’t think I could handle, I always managed to grow and learn from it.
Sweet surrender, isn’t that the phrase? I think that trust and surrender go hand in hand. We have all got to learn to surrender to the unpredictable flow of the universe. We must give over the illusion of control and trust that no matter what happens, we will be okay. Give yourself the trust that you deserve for helping you make it this far. Thank yourself for always being there. Thank the universe for always providing you with what you need, even if it wasn’t what you wanted.
It has been a truly bizarre year. I’m sure we could all agree to that. It seems like everyone is anxious for things to “get back to normal.” To be honest, I don’t have much hope that that will ever happen. When this pandemic first started, I didn’t really think much of it. I was just pleased to have an excuse to stay home. Now I’ve begun to think this is just the first phase in a long downward spiral for our species and our planet. This has been a long time coming.
I used to get flustered and frantic about my opinions on the state of the world. I felt I desperately needed to spread a message, to inspire change, to educate people so that we could all start to work towards a healthier, sustainable society. After years of exasperation and futile efforts, I have finally lost hope. Humanity will not change, therefore we will not survive much longer. Humanity has no interest in changing, we have no time left for the change that is needed, and to be honest, at this point, I don’t think we are capable of changing. It is a shame, but I have resigned myself to our fate. I have accepted the demise that is to come. Not 200 years in the future, not to the generation after me, but to me, to my generation, to everyone I know.
Cowspiracy was the tipping point for me. After watching that documentary and absorbing all of the scientific facts about our crumbling environment and the projections of how much time we have left before utter catastrophe if we continue at this rate (which we will), I realized that I will not be living out the extent of my natural lifespan. I have no idea how I will eventually die, but I feel pretty confident in ruling out old age. Perhaps it will be starvation, civil unrest, natural disasters, having no clean water, or even from a pandemic. It could be this very one, or the inevitably worse ones to come. To be honest, I’m surprised this is all due to a Corona virus and not one of the many strains of anti-biotic resistant bacteria we are breeding in our animal agriculture industry every day.
If I had even a shred of hope left that we would somehow overcome the self-imposed threats facing us, the public response to this pandemic has obliterated it. My fellow humans are incapable of even making the most miniscule, temporary changes to their daily lives, let alone the massive, permanent changes we need to make to survive as a species. Even though the pandemic rages on and is even getting worse in some areas, people have seemingly decided to just go back to normal. As if it’s been a year, so fuck it, it must be over.
If humans are incapable of simply wearing a mask when they are in the grocery store for 30 minutes, there is no way they’ll be capable of eliminating meat and dairy from their diets entirely. Perhaps if we had already implemented a strategy to move society that way and we also had a couple hundred years to get there, but we aren’t doing anything and we don’t have anywhere close to that amount of time. Scientists predict we only have a few decades and the US government is still subsidizing the industries that are killing us.
Not only has the majority of the population not accepted one of if not THE root cause of our impending demise (animal agriculture), but we can’t even all agree that we are even facing a real problem! Climate change is still up for fucking debate in America. And I don’t even expect those of you reading this to understand or agree with me on any of this. I’m mostly just having a good ol’ scream into the void. It’s the only thing I can really do at this point, sadly.
I won’t waste my time listing all of the statistics, facts, and figures about how animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, desertification, and species extinction. How it wastes massive amounts of food, water, and land. How everyone shouts “save the rainforest!” while ignoring the fact that the reason it’s being cut down is to make room for livestock. All of this information is readily available for anyone willing to look into it. Cowspiracy’s website has most of it laid out with citations. Although, in my experience, facts have never been enough to make anyone change. What I will point out, is that this pandemic is also just a symptom of the ways eating animals will eventually be our undoing.
Whenever a pandemic emerges, it is almost always related to some animal. And not just any animal. An animal that humans have been using as food. We end up keeping this “food” in filthy cramped spaces, crowded in with other animals and covered in piss and shit. Then we eat those same animals. It’s no wonder we are constantly facing disease. Bird flu, swine flu, mad cow disease. Starting to see a pattern yet? If we didn’t eat animals, none of these things would be a problem. To be honest, it’s almost karmic justice for these innocent beings. I wouldn’t even mind if humans were wiping themselves out due to our own greed and stupidity. But unfortunately we are taking down the whole planet with us and that breaks my heart.
Recently I have really been grieving my separation from my own inner compass, my intuition. It feels like I can never calm my mind down enough to hear it. And even when I meditate, all I find is a deep silent sea within me. I have been feeling desperate for guidance. I have been lost for so long now. I am finally ready to trust my intuition. To surrender to whatever is has to tell me.
This meditation was exactly what I needed. The 30 minutes seemed to dissolve in no time at all. I was so immersed in the beautiful imagery that I was invited to create in my mind. I never wanted to leave that sacred garden temple. I felt so safe and at peace with myself. I felt protected. I was able to delve deep within my own heart, to a gorgeous structure. Within it, I found a very old tree growing through the center of the room. Above there was a opening in the ceiling allowing light in. I laid myself down on top of the trees crooked truck and wrapped my arms around it. I pressed my cheek into it’s rough bark, closing my eyes. It was so peaceful, so rejuvenating.
Then a version of myself appeared in spectral form from the light above. She took my head in her hands with so much love. Kissed my forehead, before pressing hers against it. There was so much joy. So much trust. So much understanding. I asked her questions and she silently gave me the answers that a part of me had known all along.
As I reluctantly left, I felt renewed. I felt myself carrying along a tether to this place, so that I could easily find my way back again. And I will surely go back. To continue to strengthen this connection to my high self. To find refuge and rest within. I am so grateful that I found this video guide yesterday. I am sharing it with you in the hopes that you may also discover something beautiful with it.
Well it finally happened. I may have been exposed to Covid yesterday. I’ll probably have to go get tested. I may even have to miss Christmas with my family. I’m trying my best not to spiral into indignation and depression. I can feel my body tensing with the desperate desire to somehow undo what has already been done. Waking up with a mild headache this morning certainly isn’t helping. But this is an excellent opportunity for me to practice surrender. To practice breathing into the moment, into the reality that lies before me, a reality that I cannot change or avoid.
It is much more painful to recoil from unpleasant news when it’s presented to you, than to accept it. When a tree falls in the river, the river does not harden and smash against it. The river keeps flowing. It must graciously alter it’s course, flowing around the obstruction in its path. Today I will practice being like the river. I will keep flowing. The important thing is making sure my family is safe. It is a blessing that I live alone, so that if I have been exposed I can prevent infecting anyone else.
I have plenty of food and water. I have my sweet fur children here with me. I have endless ways to entertain myself. I even have a lovely bottle of Grey Goose now that I was gifted yesterday. I have so many things that I can be grateful for, even if I have to miss family Christmas this year. Even if I get really sick. I will surrender to what is. I will keep flowing around the fallen tree in my path.
If I must remain on my own this year, I will plan a wonderful self-love Christmas for myself and my babies instead. Thanks to technology I can even have a Zoom Christmas with my family for a little part of the day. Everything is going to be okay. I am strong. I am resilient. I will do whatever needs to be done. I will stay grateful. I will keep flowing.
One of the interesting things I’ve noticed since I began meditating is the importance of the length of time set aside for it. I began with a timer set for 15 minutes. I kept my meditations limited to that amount of time for years. Every now and then I would do 20 minutes. Never longer. When I’m running short on time, I’ll just sit for 5 minutes. However, this short of a meditation feels more like going through the motions to check off a box than actually being meditative.
It’s fascinating how terrifying the idea of sitting in silence with yourself can be. There are many days when I would be anxious at the prospect of beginning a simple 15 minute session. It doesn’t seem like a long time, but knowing I’d be alone with myself with no distractions was daunting. I knew the time could fly by or seem like an eternity. Most times I would feel myself relaxing into the meditation just as the time was up. Reluctantly letting my eyes open to continue on with my day.
Over a year ago, I finally worked up the courage to set a goal of daily 30 minute meditations for myself. 15 minutes just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I knew I needed to push myself to sit for longer if I really wanted to see a difference in my mental state. At first it was ridiculously difficult to commit to this length of time. It seemed so long. I felt afraid I wouldn’t be able to justify “wasting” this amount of time everyday “doing nothing.” Yet it quickly became one of my favorite parts of the day.
I’ve learned quite a bit from this decision to extend my meditation sessions. One of the most important things I particularly noticed from being too busy to sit for more than 5 minutes a day this past week is how important it is to set aside a significant amount of time. After such a long time sitting in meditation for 30 minutes every day, 5 minutes felt like a joke. It didn’t feel like I came anywhere close to a meditative state. My mind was racing the entire time. Wondering how close I was to being finished. Planning out my to-do list for the day. Running over earlier conversations in my head. At most I only achieved a few brief moments of actual concentration and mindfulness.
I want to be clear, though, I am not discrediting starting out with a short amount of time like this as an introduction to meditation. In the beginning even 5 minutes can feel scary and challenging. It’s a good way to begin integrating a meditation practice into your daily routine. And it will still make a difference. However, if you’ve been meditating for awhile already, I highly recommend trying to lengthen your sessions.
It may seem difficult at first, but I guarantee it’s worth it. When you have a long period of time to meditate, there is a different atmosphere. It seems less possible to just run out the clock by allowing your mind to run wild for a few minutes. Half-heartedly trying to reign it back in. Instead you are forced to face your fear, your anxiety, yourself.
At first my mind tries all it’s normal tricks. Attempting to escape or convince me to give up, worrying about how much time is left, dreading that time, trying to latch onto distractions, resisting. However, while this stage may consume the entire meditation when only given 5 minutes, it will eventually subside if given the more time. Eventually the mind has to accept the reality that there is nowhere to go. Eventually it accepts that the only thing to do is to surrender.
And what a beautiful feeling it is when you finally soften into that total surrender. There is nothing better. This is where the true meditation begins. Often my body will even begin to buzz and feel blurred around the edges. Just breathing feels so good. Feeling what it’s truly like to just exist. Realizing that it’s okay to surrender. Realizing there is in fact peace afterwards. Accepting that it’s okay to merely be.
Now, I still have a long way to go with my meditations. There are still plenty of days where I’ll doze off or still manage to get lost in thought the entire time. But it’s always worth it for those few moments of bliss I’ve found. Often when I notice myself finding that peace, I’ll remind myself: This is always here. This is inside of me. I can come back here, to this inner peace, whenever I need to. It is always with me. It is me.
Many times now instead of feeling anxious to begin my meditation, I’ll feel anxious as my body begins to sense my time is almost up. The last few moments are often spent fighting with my desire to cling to that internal bliss. I hope to one day soon begin giving myself even more time every day for meditation. I can only imagine what new insights, what new depths, are still waiting to be discovered within. I sincerely hope you’ll decide to give yourself the chance to discover your own. Give yourself the gift of time. Time to surrender. Time to just be. I promise you it’s not a waste. It may even find it’s the most important time you have during the day. You may find that it is the best gift you can give yourself. A true act of self-love. You deserve it.
Anxiety tends to chase it’s own tail. Winding you up more and more in a seemingly endless cycle. You notice yourself feeling anxious, then you get anxious about being anxious, and even more anxious because you notice the sickening cycle starting all over again. You feel out of control. You feel helpless. I least that’s the way it always goes for me.
What I’ve started to learn however, is that it’s okay to feel that way. I don’t need to run from those feelings or desperately look for a way to change them. Every moment of our lives don’t have to be full of joy and wonder. We are able to find those things in every moment, but we don’t have to. I think somehow subconsciously I began fearing that I’m wasting long spans of my life with these persistent moments of anxiety, fear, and depression. And maybe I am, but worrying about that on top of everything else certainly isn’t going to help.
Lately when I notice myself getting anxious, I try to remind myself to keep breathing. I tell myself: I am feeling anxious right now, and that is perfectly okay. I try to just notice what it feels like to be anxious rather than trying to push that awareness away. In the end I am the one labeling anxiety as bad and calm as good. But these are all just different expressions of being alive. And it’s always good to be alive. I am grateful for even the anxious moments. Because they are moments that I am experiencing in this world.
I don’t have to be afraid of my anxiety. It is just another part of who I am. I want to make peace with it. Make space for it. Make friends with it. I am trying to have faith that everything will be alright despite feeling anxious. I don’t want to run anymore. I will do my best to stand my ground and confront these difficult feelings head on.
I’m someone who is always looking for the path of least resistance. Avoiding confrontation at all costs. Sometimes I forget that it’s okay to do something even if it’s hard. Because I am strong. I am capable of doing hard things. It feels good to overcome obstacles, to face challenges. And ultimately, it’s even okay to fail. So I am going to trust myself, trust this universe, trust that everything is okay. Because even when I’m feeling afraid, somewhere deep down, some part of me knows I can do anything. I just have to trust. I just have to keep breathing, keep going, and be brave.