Sunday, December 24, 2017

12/25/17—Living Through The Eyes of God

I have nothing cheery or inspirational to add for this Christmastime post, so I'm sharing a fitting one from last January. 

So let me tell you about the book I'm (slowly) writing. I won't share the title quite yet, but it's a sort of how-to be all spiritual and personal growth-y and shit. If you have missed the previous 1200 posts I've made on this page, let's just say that I'm into that kind of stuff. 

It's funny, because in my early research as to competing books and e-courses and whatnot, I've come across a lot of stuff that focused the pursuit of spirituality on burning incense and doing ceremonies. Don't get me wrong, I love those things and think they have their place in spirituality. But they are not spirituality.

To define what I think spirituality is, I use a comparison to religion. I see religion as what you learn about God* from scripture and what religious leaders tell you about him. And I see spirituality as what you learn about God from forging a personal relationship with him. 

That takes more than a smudge stick and moon phase. It takes all kinds of uncomfortable things like forgiveness. Letting go. Trust. Personal responsibility. Compassion. In many ways, the path of spirituality mirrors a path of personal growth. Your knowledge and understanding of God/Allah/Buddha/Universe/Source will always be limited until you understand, exhibit and embrace the things they represent. And you have to experience and embody those things in yourself—at least once—in order to truly understand. You can't just imagine your way through it. You have to become a different, albeit still imperfect, person.

Until you love fully, without condition, and open your heart to the "worst" and "least" of humanity, then God's love is just a concept you *think* you know. You don't know the surrender and trust—the courage—it takes to open your heart in such a way. You don't understand how far one's grace must reach or deep one's grace can go. And you know nothing of the peace and blessings that come from releasing all fears and loving at that level...from a place of oneness with all things. Until you learn to live life through God's eyes, his voice will be reaching you through a filter of fear, ego and separation. You will still know him. But if you want to know him better, you have to be better.

Of course, we'll never fully reach the end of any of our spiritual lessons. Or if there's one that we're particularly good at, like maybe compassion, we won't be as amazing at all of them. And I believe that no matter how far you go in your quest to become a living, breathing compassion machine, there's always going to be something that challenges the size of your heart. That said, in the pursuit of these lessons you'll get glimpses of reality through the eyes and heart of God. And you will begin to know him in ways no scripture can teach.

So far I've written much of the introduction to the book, including my full story of how I went from being an atheist to someone who won't shut up about this stuff...haha.  And I'm about 90% through the first chapter on self-awareness, something I consider the absolute bedrock of everyone's spiritual path. How can you truly forgive another if you can't honestly access the part of you that needs forgiveness and understands personal responsibility? How can you have integrity if you can't see your actions (and their repercussions) from a place of objectivity and honesty?

I struggle from time to time wondering if a book like this is needed, and if I'm the person to write it. But then I look and see there really isn't much written on the topics I'm addressing....not under one cover at least. And I see what things like ego issues and a lack of self-awareness can do in the hands of the wrong people. I look around me and observe myself and others fearing and holding on instead of trusting and letting go. And I get emails and comments from people who I have helped through my writing somewhere along the way. So maybe a book like this is needed and maybe I am the one to write it. 

It's hard for me to believe I'm needed or that I'm the answer to anything important. I will probably write a whole series of blogs about that when I have the courage and will to go there...haha. But I'm beginning to believe it's true. And, frankly, this is my plan for my later 50s through the end of my life, so if I don't make it happen, I'm kind of screwed. Fortunately, I have at least one well-connected angel-on-earth who is willing and eager to help me bring it to fruition.

There has never been a better time to move toward God—or if you don't believe in any version of God, toward the concept of love—than now. If I can help people get through their stuck places or misunderstandings (forgiveness, for example, is widely misunderstood, imo) then I'm using this wonderful passion for writing and spirituality to its highest good. I hope you'll all join me on that journey.

*I struggled over this word for a long time. So I'll say this. My belief and perspective is that everything that most everyone considers to be their higher power is the same energy or entity seen through many different eyes and by many different names. The one that resonates more closely with me is "the Universe". The word that resonates more closely with human beings in general is "God". Feel free to substitute your word for "God" as you read along.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

12/18/17—Looking Below And To The Left Of Jupiter

Classic Post...

Last night there was a meteor shower. And all the shooting stars reminded me of a powerful lesson.

I went outside around 1am, my StarWalk application in tow, and checked to make sure I knew where to look in the sky. StarWalk had the meteors shooting just to the left of Jupiter and a bit lower in the sky. This was a good thing and bad thing. The good thing is that my view is relatively clear in that region of the sky. The bad thing is that, while only a half moon, the moon was very bright last night and positioned beneath Jupiter when I was out there. Ideally, you want a darker sky. 

Anyway, I got myself all comfy and glanced casually out where I was supposed to look. I didn't want the shooting stars to think I was desperate or needy or anything. There were supposed to be as many as 50 per hour, so I thought it was going to be like shooting fish in a barrel. But after about 15 minutes, I saw nothing. 

So then I decided to stare squarely at a point in the eastern sky, unblinking, as long as I could. Still nothing. By now, about a half hour has passed. I tend to see stuff in the corner of my eye, so I think I might have seen something, but there was nothing conclusive. So then I figured that maybe the moon was just too bright and they were too close to where the moon was in my field of vision to be seen. So I laid back and looked at all the stars directly overhead. It was a beautiful sight. 

Within seconds of laying my head back, however, I saw the most spectacular shooting star make a long, lingering arch across the sky. No doubt about it. I saw one! But before I was done making my wish, I saw another! Then another!

Seems that all that time, I had been looking in the wrong part of the sky. I had limited myself to what I knew—or thought I knew—about the Geminids meteor shower and I invested fully in that knowledge. But that knowledge turned out to be fruitless. I didn't see a shooting star until I put aside what I knew and looked at the sky from another perspective. 

We see this all the time, don't we? We even do it ourselves. We're so sure of something—so invested in our perspective being right—that we see it as the only way. But looking at things from another perspective doesn't have to mean you're wrong. It just means you're broadening your view of something. And as long as you hold on tightly to what you "know", you may be cheating yourself out of something quite special. 

Just to apply it to a situation, there's a lot of talk about racism and police violence going on these days. Among the things people "know" are a) the details of every police interaction that resulted in the death of a black man that has happened recently, as if they had witnessed it themselves, b) how black men should respond appropriately when confronted by the police, c) whether or not racism exists, and d) whether or not white privilege exists. 

Some of the things I see when I look at these debates is that there is definitely a dialogue that needs to happen and voices that need to be heard on this topic. For a large part of my life, I have felt the tension...the elephant in the room that we don't really talk about. Everyone has been quiet so as not to stir up crap and upset whatever balance has existed since the late 60s and early 70s when discussion of race were topmost in peoples' minds. For the most part, we all got back to a comfortable place, but clearly, it wasn't that comfortable. Or balanced. Or we wouldn't be back to where we were in the early 70s. Or in the early 90s with Rodney King. What I see is that we have these discussions, we don't agree, we don't make much progress, then we all get quiet again. And both sides go back to the way they were before, neither side seeing their role in the continued tension. 

What I also see is a bunch of white people in various stages of "not understanding" why all this is happening. We say things like "when the police approach you, just say yes sir and no sir and be polite." Or we say, "there is no racism in this country. There is no white privilege." Or we insist there's not a trace of racism within us or anyone we care about. When we say these things, it's like we're looking directly below and to the left of Jupiter in an attempt to see the shooting stars. Because we're only seeing things from the perspective we know and the perspective we know is that of a white person. 

And that is why we never solve things. That is why every 20 years or so streets break out in riots and the country talks about racism and white privilege. Admittedly, I see way more people "getting it" these days. But it works both ways. For every white person looking below and to the left of Jupiter, there's a black person in this debate doing the exact same thing. Then there a whole bunch of people in the middle showing some understanding for what it's like to be a policeman and some for what it's like to be a black person in this country. 

IMO, we've come a long way in my lifetime in regard to this, but still have far to go. But that's my view as a white woman. I can't possibly speak for black people. No matter how hard I try to understand the perspective of a black person, I will always be lacking, because I've never had to live it. And, again, the reverse is also true. 

I didn't write all this to start a debate, though it might. I wrote it to illustrate how we tend to keep to a particular part of the sky when it comes to race relations, politics, squabbles with friends...pretty much everything in life. We invest in a perspective and ride it for a lifetime. Then we wonder why certain things never change. How can they if we're not willing to broaden our view?

The truest thing I know about life is that none of us holds the truth about anything. We hold just one piece of the truth, a piece viewed from our unique viewpoint. But staring at and knowing and being certain about your part of the cosmos doesn't mean you understand the cosmos. The next time you're sure of something, remember that the magic comes not from being certain, but from opening yourself up to a part of the sky you never thought to look at. That's where the streaks of new enlightenment can be found, arching their way across the sky. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

12/11/17—Talking to the Birds

This week I have two (three?) stories to tell. 

The first is that, while sitting on the front porch with Kizzie Friday, I saw a small flock of four birds. Their flight seemed erratic. They were circling the area over and over, as if frantically searching for something they'd lost. Even in their circles, they were zagging and zigging. And as I listened for why I was being shown these birds, it occurred to me that I've been feeling like them for a while.

I feel like I've lost my way and have been frantically searching for ways to my spirituality, my health, my path. And I feel like I've been going in circles for years and not moving forward. 

Of course, that's not true. I've moved forward in many ways. But it's almost like I've got part of me anchored to the ground. Or like I'm stuck in some endless Groundhog Day cycle like those birds. 

The second story is that on Saturday we received the first snow of the season. Now, I love cold and I love snow, so I sat outside getting snowed on for over an hour. (I sit under the eaves, so I'm mostly protected.) 

I'm sure I must have seen this before, but I don't remember when. But the snowflakes were so perfectly snowflaky! They weren't big and wet. They weren't little balls. They didn't fall and instantly melt. Instead, each flake was perfectly distingushable, all the way down to the intricate designs. That is an actual photo above. And not only that, but my aging fuzzy eyes could see them clear as a bell on my lap. 

It was magical.

I also noticed when I was out there that, as long as I'm not moving around, I feel perfectly healthy. I'm still having problems with breathlessness, despite being able to breathe clearly and deeply at rest. It's just when I move. And there are better days and worse days. So I just take a lot of breaks. Tonight, unloading the dishwasher wore me out, so I rested for a minute and then went back to rinse dishes and load them. It's like that. It makes life really hard. I'm going to see a specialist soon. 

Anyway, it has been years since I felt healthy. I mean, in my mind I only focus on the worry and exhaustion and what to do about it. But while I was sitting out there realizing I feel perfectly healthy if I'm not moving, I decided to just really enjoy that moment of feeling healthy. "Right now, I feel healthy." I have no idea why it never occurred to me before. Probably because I am so fixated on how bad I feel most of the time. I don't give gratitude or attention to those moments of feeling "right", even though it's only circumstantial. My internal script is that I feel bad all the time. And, to the extent that internal scripts create our realities, I switched things up today. 

While I was out there, and this might be the third story, I saw that flock of four birds again, doing their frantic flight. I only saw them for a moment, but this time it struck me how the flock, though moving erratically, stayed in perfect formation. And it just all seemed to be a metaphor for life. Their ability to stay in formation despite what looked like a chaotic flight path is similar to how we move with the universe. We have that same kind of communication thing that allows us to account for small, random changes in the way of life and continue forward, effortlessly zigging with the zigs and zagging with the zags. 

And it also made me think of my own "flock", whether that's me and my three dogs flying like that or me and my friends. We all seem to encounter similar zigs and zags that we're connected by. And that's how we move through life together, in small groups, bound by our shared energies and moving in tandem with that. Until we don't, I guess. Then we create a new flock. Which is something I addressed in my last post, which I somehow didn't make live last week. 

So with these insights and the peace that came, frankly, at the end of an emotional week for me, it occurs to me that maybe the birds on Friday weren't bringing me a message as much as opening a door for me to find my way back where I belong. And, after sitting outside for a long time today and not seeing them, maybe they finally found their way back to where they belong, too.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

12/4/17—Looking Forward To The Holidays

From the Illuminated Tarot.
Ooops! I thought I scheduled this to automatically post last week, but I didn't. So you get a bonus. One today, one tomorrow...

I've always been kind of meh about the holiday season. I try to get into it, but never really get my jingle on. 

I probably won't even put up a tree this year, nor will I go to the problem of wrapping the dog's presents. I also usually wrap the gifts I give myself and put them under the tree, but this year I got two awesome things and I'm unable to wait for them. It seems my holiday efforts are waning. 

But what's nice this year is that, over the next week or two, I will see the people who matter to me, and we will exchange warm tidings and I will have gratitude for that time. 

It hasn't always been that way for me. Some years I'm too frazzled to appreciate those exchanges. Some years it has been about material things. Some years I was hoping for warm exchanges from the wrong people. Some years I was too depressed. Some years I wasn't feeling gracious. Something has always gotten in the way of me truly getting into the warmth of the season. Maybe it was me getting in the way. 

But over the past year or two I have made new decisions about who and what I'll value in my life moving forward. It's not the people and things I once valued. And because of that, this year and this season have brought me more gratitude for the sentient beings in my a heart opening of sorts. I feel safe around all the sentient beings in my life.

And, of course, I'm saying sentient beings because the dogs are included in there with my friends. I have always had an open heart around them and gratitude for them, but there's a subtle shift that I can detect. I'm awed by their love more than usual. And instead of wanting to lay tight up against me, they want to lay on top of me lately. The dogs, that is. Not my friends. 

So, anyway, I didn't know what to write about until I chose the card above, and it illustrates my point. Family and celebration are no longer what I always thought it would be. It's not made up of people who share my genes as much as it is made up of people who share my heart and my way of being in this world. If they happen to have my genes, then ok. But I want the people in my life to be capable of sharing back just as genuinely. 

So maybe that's the third awesome gift I got myself for Christmas and opened early. It is a gift to know who and what matters in your life, even if it doesn't fit a mold you were born into or one society deems acceptable. I have always been drawn to dogs and introspective, deep folks. But I have wanted other things, not because I was drawn to them, but because I think I should. It's a gift to finally be free of all my should.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

11/27/17—Ending The Silence

It was just over a year ago that I wrote about my experience with sexual assault, harassment and inappropriate behavior coming from men.

Back then, it was after that Access Hollywood tape where Trump bragged about grabbing women by their sexual organs. To the shock of many, that was all brushed aside and a sexual assaulter became president of our country. It felt like nothing would ever change for women. 

When I wrote about my own experiences, I said I was lucky as far as women go, and I am. Having worked for myself for over 20 years, I don't have to put up with harassment in the workplace. I don't ride public transportation where the ass grabbers and upskirters hang out. I'm just not in the sitations where it is most likely to happen. So why, I ask, have I been bawling like a baby the last couple of weeks as story after story unfolded about prominent abusers and harrassers—and everyone FINALLY believed the victims!?

This past week or two, I feel like I was channeling the collective of women, as finally we were being heard and believed. I could feel the vindication of every piggish move ever made. I did an informal survey to see how many women had had a man place his hands over their breasts as if to grab a joke, like Al Franken did. Every woman I asked said it had happened to them. I also asked how many women had NOT been inappropriately touched by a man in the past, and only one woman could say she's never been touched. For the first time in my life, I thought we might be able to change and heal. It never occurred to me this day would come.

My mom was part of that generation of women who changed the career prospects of women today. When I was born, mothers did not work outside the home. My mother fought with my dad for the right to start a career. And when she got there, I'd hear snippts about the chauvenists she worked with and the piggish ways they would treat her. It was all part of working in a man's world. And women were not just expexted to be at least as competent, but they also had to do it while navigating a gauntlet of grabby hands, lewd comments and subversion. Did they put up with it without making clear how they felt? Yes. But did they have any choice if they wanted to earn a living? No, they did not.

It got better over time, and it eventually settled into an acceptable degree of harrassment—more than any woman deserves, but less than men wanted to do, seeing as how they were constrained by law. And, of course, it varied depending on the man. Not all men are pigs.

I've mentioned before that when my doctor called me a hypochondriac, I became afraid to bring problems to my doctor, even though I got a new one. And it stood between me and my health. Well, that's what women have learned to do. Men wanted to call us complainers or incapable of working in a man's world, so we learned not to complain. It's an ugly manipulation that men have been using on women since the beginning of time...and also that white men have been using on blacks. So marginalized communities have to work twice as hard and put up with way more BS to even be considered equal. It is, I'm sorry to say, the way white men have controlled and dominated throughout time. Intimidation. Manipulation. Marginalization. 

Again, it got better over time. Not all men are like that. But there is a core that is very much in power right now that has always feared the rise of women and black men because it means they have to be good enough for once. It means they have to hold themselves to the same impeccable standards they have held us to. And they haven't had a lot of practice doing that. They've been skating by, creating successes, maneuvering failures and basically not progressing because progress would mean losing their footing. Their leadership over eras has done—and continues to do—society a disservice. They have always led from fear.

So when, in the midst of this entitled white man's world, a victory comes out for the oppressed, it's an amazing thing. Since this past summer, monuments made by racists to intimidate blacks have come toppling down. And men have begun to see the systematic degradation they've perpetrated upon women for years—stuff we just bore as the price of moving forward and tried to keep from holding us back. I would say that stuff no longer bothered me. Like a person with Stockholm Syndrome, you just accept it as "the way". But it has impacted me and every marginalized human alive. It is done, after all, to keep us marginalized. And it has worked.

There is a card in the tarot called The Tower. You get it when the foundation you are currently standing on is no longer stable enough to support you moving forward. It's interesting to see how unstable the conservative white males are who have risen to power by building on a foundation of marginalization and intimidation. The foundation they are standing upon is crumbling. They have no legislative or social successes. They are the most reviled leadership our nation has ever known. And a dizzying number of them are being either investigated for crimes or revealed as hypocrites and abusers. 

As women, and as people wanting to evolve with the times, what started as our massive disappointment last November is nonetheless turning into a win of sorts. I have noticed men in social threads saying, "my god, I had no idea women were being put through this." Or "I had no idea those monuments were erected to intimidate blacks." Whether they are being honest with themselves or not about that is in question. But there is a new awareness. 

And when I mentioned that I had been crying tears of vindication and PTSD lately, women would say "crying never solved anything." I disagree. In fact, "crying never solved anything" is more of that attitude of "suck it up, Felicia, and just keep moving" that men and doctors and employers have been using on us forever. We don't get to complain. We don't get to be vindicated and affirmed. We don't get to release and heal. And I call BS on all of that. We shouldn't have to deny our feelings and to stop being women to succeed in this world. Men are allowed their tempers...their emotions. We deserve to have ours. 

In the 60s, we called the privilege of having men harrass us and undermine in the home and workplace "women's liberation." We were finally able to dream like a man dreams...just so long as we didn't dream too big. Like becoming president. Because then they will lie, cheat, collude and steal to shut you down. 

That's not liberation. Liberation is being held to the same standards as men. It's being free of harrassment. It's being allowed to dream the same as white men have. 

And it's so ironic that our vindication would come from a group of men who aren't even self-aware or honest enough with themselves to acknowledge what they've been doing all these centuries...millennia. All their efforts to hold on to their power and oppression seemed to pay off when the poster boy of bullying, oppression and sexual assault was elected president. But be careful what you ask for, I guess. They got what they wanted and it is leading straight to their undoing...straight to their eventual extinction. Maybe all those years of women sucking it up in silence have finally paid off.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

11/20/17—Fearing to Dream

Last week, Sunday came and went without a new post from me. It was the first time in seven years. I didn't even notice until the next day. 

That says a couple of things. One is that it has been harder and harder for me to write every week because I have only been subsisting for a couple of years. I haven't really been living. And also because I haven't felt like writing, but have been forcing myself to do it anyway, so as not to break the discipline. So there's an issue there.

I'm not going to write one of my epic posts today. But I will say that someone said something to me that I have really been contemplating lately, and that is relevant to this post. He said that there was a time when his own health was bad and he changed his diet, etc. and got better "to the point," he said, "that I found myself able to dream again."

It hit me right between the eyes. I haven't found myself able to dream for a very long time. I still haven't found the proper treatment for my asthma yet. So when they change my dosage or something, I feel better for a few months. Then a slow, gradual drop off happens without me noticing, until I'm miserable. Then I think it's allergies or a phase for a month or two. Then I finally realize I haven't felt well in a really long time. Then I go to the doctor. Like I'm doing this week. 

Rationally, I'm free to dream at any given moment. It's not like a person can't make that choice at any time. But I don't feel safe making it until I can move forward physically...until that part is finally taken care of. It's hard to dream and move toward a dream when just breathing is hard. I do need to be more proactive about things like adjusting medication and speaking up. But part of me can't move past feeling defeated right now. 

I'd have a lot of great ideas for someone else about this, I'm sure. But right now, I'm struggling. And I've been struggling a long time. I mean parts of my life are great. Work is going well. I have some supportive friends. And it's my favorite time of the year...cold enough for my babies to want to snuggle with me all the time. So it's not like I'm miserable. I'm just in neutral and having a hard time getting into gear. 

So that's what I have to say this week. Are you dreaming right now? Or are you afraid, too? 

I hope not to skip another week without you at least having something to read, but I might. Who knows? I don't want to force myself to the point I start hating it, you know? But I'm pretty sure that when I start feeling well enough to start dreaming again, you'll be the first to know. Then you'l probably wonder how to shut me back up again. :D

Sunday, November 5, 2017

11/6/17—Choosing Love

An updated classic post:

When I was a little girl, I had a secret fantasy. While other girls dreamed of princes and weddings and happily ever after, I dreamed about being so rich that I could have a room with nothing but stacks of fine china and walls to throw it against. 

So many things made me angry. We moved every two years. I was bullied for being overweight. I had a big family, but often felt alone. I had a lot of responsibilities at a young age. My mother and I would lock horns a lot. I often felt misunderstood at home and in school. In high school, my mother became terminally ill. Personal accomplishments were expected, so they weren't celebrated. And I never felt I had a voice in any part of my life. I learned not to complain about anything. 

So there was nowhere for all that frustration and anger to go. There were times as a child it would overwhelm me and I would have "breakdowns" that nobody ever knew about. I had plenty of alone time as a child to come unglued with nobody noticing. It scared me, but telling anyone would be fruitless. I was already known for being dramatic and, like I said, we really weren't allowed to complain about anything. My mother was either working and couldn't deal with it, being an Air Force "first lady" and couldn't deal with it or dying of cancer and couldn't deal with it. It was never a good time to have a problem. 

When I became an adult, a lot of things changed. First, I had a lot more control over my life and how many times I moved and how much my life would be disrupted. I got called names a lot less. I had a measure of professional success and felt noticed and appreciated. And, by the time I was 25, both of my parents were dead, so I created my own support network that would give me the affirmation or whatever it was that I needed. But more importantly, I found something bigger than myself to believe in and have faith in. 

At one point I realized that a lot of my anger came from things I had zero control over. And that anger was fueled by the fear of all the things that would be out of my control due to all the stuff I had no control over. And that made me feel very vulnerable. And, feeling alone as I did back then, I couldn't afford to be vulnerable. 

I reckon everyone reading this recognizes that last paragraph in some form or another. 

As we move along our spiritual path, we learn that life will always throw us stuff we have no control over. We learn that there is no situation where we don't have a choice, even though our options may not be ones we can abide. And we learn to cultivate a practice of letting go and having faith. We learn how to transcend much of our anger and fear. Which doesn't mean it's ever fully gone. I always make monks an exception—people who don't have to live in reality and can devote 24/7 to their faith and trust. But for most of us, fear and anger are things that are going to suck us in from time to time. 

I'm mentioning this because there is so much fear and anger these days. Ban Muslims! Don't take my guns! You're threatening my rights! You're threatening my way of living! What we really mean is "we're used to things the way they are—even though we'll concede it's not really working this way—and we are afraid of how things might change!" But we'll never say that because we're too busy holding on and being angry to see it. We're too afraid of change to even consider compromise. We feel vulnerable and don't feel like we can afford to be vulnerable. 

In a previous blog, I wrote about how I believe our behaviors come from one of two places—love or fear. There is value in both. But I find my life is lot happier if I make the lion's share of my moves from a place of love. And love includes trusting in the universe. Embracing change. Letting go and letting God. And trusting that our prayers are being answered, even if it doesn't look that way. There's a difference between "letting go and letting God" and just laying down and letting the world walk all over you. But fearful people don't know that, no matter how much they say they have faith, because they're not actually letting go. They're not actually trusting. Instead, they're holding on to fear. 

Lately I've been feeling a lot of anger myself. And, yes, fear over the direction our country is going. I am fine tuned to the news and I feel like I've been pulled down into that vortex that so many in this country haven chosen as their life since birth. And I know this is about fear, because I'm angry. That's my clue. And I know I feel out of control, because I feel like I'm standing by, powerless, as my wonderful country becomes overcome by fear, hate and a complete lack of compassion. I feel like there's nothing I can do to stop it. Because people who have lived their lives in fear, cannot be reasoned with, and they bring such darkness and alarm to any hint of anything that could be a solution, that we just keep careening into the abyss. Because that's where everyone wants to be.

This year, the World Happiness Report, which measures happiness using things like economy, life expectancy, freedoms, etc., had a special chapter on how much our nation's happiness has declined over the past couple of years, despite its growing wealth. It recommends, "The United States can and should raise happiness by addressing America's multi-faceted social crisis—rising inequality, corruption, isolation, and distrust—rather than focusing on even mainly on economic growth, especially since the concrete proposals along these lines would exacerbate rather than ameliorate the deepening social crisis." I think we can all agree that won't be happening with our current leadership.

While this sounds dire, we were ranked #14 out of 150+ nations on this particular report. Other reports are not so generous. We are in the bottom 10 on the Happy Planet Index. The Harris Poll has 31% and 33% of Americans claiming happiness over the past two years. And a well-being poll puts us right toward the middle, which isn't bad when you consider we're practically tied with Canada. So it really depends on who you ask, how you measure and even where you live in the country.

In some ways, we have little to be afraid about. The last war that took place on our soil was 150 years ago and we fought it with ourselves. We've never been invaded by anyone. We've always been the invader. Historically, we've known no famine. Our economy is on the uptick. There's very little foreign terrorism or violence in our country—almost all of it is Americans killing Americans. At various times in history we were warned about what the Italians and Polish and Germans and Asians and Mexicans would do to our country if we let them in, and nothing ever happened. And yet so many in this country are terrified. In fact, we act like such assholes because of it that it's a wonder Canada and Mexico haven't joined forces to smack us down. 

But, to me at least, it feels like we're moving in those directions. It feels like our fear is manifesting things to be afraid of. Certainly the red-state fear manifested a president who plays Russian roulette with North Korea and who is a threat to many Constitutional freedoms. And I fear that my own fear is manifesting more fear. If you believe that what we believe we eventually achieve, our future doesn't look good.

I know what I need to do to get myself back on track. I need to disconnect from the sources of fear and move back towards sources of love. And if you're frustrated and pissed off, maybe you could do the same. It begins by asking yourself simple questions, like am I making this decision out of fear or love? Am I entering into this conversation out of fear or love? (hint: most debates come from fear) Am I doing what I'm doing out of fear or love? 

I have this knee jerk reaction in me that says "if I stop watching these fear-inducing things happen, then that's the same as giving up and letting them happen." But the truth is, my watching isn't doing anything to make things better. It just adds to the negativity, which breeds more negativitity. We're not going to heal this cancer by perpetuating it. And I'm not going to miss anything germinal by not watching. Someone will keep me apprised.

The more we move toward love...toward God or Jesus or the universe...the more blessed we become. I know this from personal experience. Living from a place of fear isn't freedom. It's not constructive to yourself or those around you. And it's really just barely living. 

This isn't about people who have different opinions than me. It sounds like it to the defensive and fearful, but it's not. We all have opinions and preferences. And we could all make up stories about where ours come from. I could say my obsession with sweets is about love. I love sweets. But if I'm honest with myself and look deeper, there's a lot of fear in my "love" of chocolate, because I usually crave it when I'm angry, stressed, bored or unhappy. So that's all I'll say. Ask yourself whether what you're doing, saying and thinking is coming from love or fear, and put your knee-jerk "I'm right and everyone else is wrong" attitude to the side long enough to let the truth shine through. 

We only get this one chance to live. Let's do what we need to do to live it from a place of love. There is no law that can be made, no president that can be elected, no circumstance that you could come across that could MAKE you live in fear and anger. It's an internal thing that only you have power over. You can choose love or not. You see it all over the globe in places where war, famine and poverty reign and there are still people choosing love. It is your mightiest power. It's your security in times of uncertainty, if you let it be. Know you have the power and choose love.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

10/30/17—Feeling Invisible

Once, when I was a teenager tripped out on mushrooms, I was convinced I was invisible.

I was in college. It was the first time I had ever tried mushrooms. I was in a car in a parking lot in front of an ATM machine. This was back in the early '80s when ATMs first came out and they had all sorts of bugs. I hated using them. To this day I don't have an ATM card. 

Anyway, my friends wanted to go into a bar and I was feeling like I couldn't be around people. So I sat in the car alone, in a parking lot in front of an ATM machine, and none of the people coming and going saw me sitting there, staring down the ATM. Except one guy. One guy saw me. I concluded he was probably invisible, too.

Ahhhh, youth. I'm pretty sure taking drugs like that would kill me today...haha. 

But it's interesting, because invisibility has been a bit of a theme in my life. Some of it is imposed invisibility. The irony of being overweight is that some people tend not to look at you. Strangers, I mean. There's a whole portion of society that prefers to just...not see. There is a lot of prejudice. So you can be quite large and walk down the street and be invisible. 

That's really true of all of us. People generally don't acknowledge others anymore. They avoid making eye contact. I'm an eye-contact maker when just casually walking down the street. I have been a tall, fit babe walking down the street and a tall, fat old lady walking down the street, and the babe is nowhere near as invisible. Men make eye contact and smile, women notice you. Same person. Different bodies. Different responses. 

Not that I'm complaining. I sometimes wonder if I keep the weight on because being invisible is more comfortable for me. Truth is, invisibility is both a blessing and a curse. Sometimes it conjures times of emotional/social abandonment and being lost in the shuffle of my family and our nomadic lifestyle. Sometimes it conjures feelings of freedom and safety in my own little world. I have always been quite fond of my own little world.

I wouldn't be surprised if my neighbors thought I was invisible. They never see me. I sneak in and out of the shadows of my hermit life. In fact, what got me thinking of it was that I sit on my porch most nights, a large woman with a large, handsome, fluffy dog—right there in front of a colorful house, set amidst a sea of ecru and white houses—and nobody ever sees me! Cyclists ride by, cars drive by, people walk by—people walking dogs that Kizzie barks at walk by—and nobody sees me! I mean, a few know to look for me there because they know me. But people are generally off in their own safe worlds. Not even the little boy I talked about a couple of weeks ago has ever noticed me.

And I'll also say I'm invisible to the government right now. Nothing is going my way under Trump. My self-employed healthcare went through the roof recently. I earn too much for subsidies. I'm part of the middle class he swore to help. No surprise, but Trump lied and he made matters worse than they ever would have been had he not started undermining the ACA by removing subsidies that keep all of the marketplace low.

I know better than to expect people to see me. Society is just that way. It's nothing personal about me. But I've been feeling especially invisible lately. And I see others disappearing before my very eyes in the current climate. Individuals no longer seem to matter much, and it troubles me. So I'm going to make more of a point to catch people's eye and flash them a smile moving forward. Like I said, sometimes I like being invisible and sometimes I don't. That's me. But those who don't like it might be feeling hopeless and lost these days and I want them to know they are seen. 

The government can change laws, sideline certain populations and put others at risk. Technology and cell phones can drive people into more insulated worlds. But nothing can take away our humanity and sense of community unless we let it.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

10/23/17—Seeing Passion Again

I had a very emotional day or two come to me this week. It came out of the blue. I thought I'd tell you about it.

The day after I moved into my house back in 1999, a little puppygirl moved in. I named her Passion. At the time, I'd carried around a key fob with "passion" on it for years to remind me to always follow my passion. And one of my passions was dogs. 

Regular readers know me as a big lover of the canine set. I currently have three dogs. But for five years, it was just me and Passion...Pashie. Pashie grew to be 100lbs of alpha female aggression and stubbornness. She wasn't human aggressive at all. But she did not like female dogs. Nor did she like male dogs who questioned her authority. And in the 10 years I knew her, despite trying all sorts of alpha rolling and other things you read about online, she never quite conceded to me either. Passion and I both share the strong, stubborn woman gene. We were, at once, each other's most loyal compatriot and biggest pain in the ass.

It quickly became clear to me that Passion wasn't like other dogs. Most dogs have dog souls. Passion, I felt, had a human soul. I don't say that lightly. I wouldn't say it about any other dog I've had, save maybe one when I was growing up. I'm quite convinced Passion was someone from my soul group who loved me so much that s/he volunteered to come here and live the short, boring, dependent, and captive life of a dog in order to teach me what love is, and how to love.

And by love, I don't mean care for. I mean love. Unconditionally. And not just love unconditionally, but love in a way that, even if you don't get love in return, you give it without the expectation of reciprocity. And the kind of love that, even when they make you mad, you can't really go there. Because you are always aware that you will land right back at love again. So what's the point? Love—and the surrender to it—was a power and a blessing Passion and I held over each other.

I consider that a great privilege. Because while some people learn that kind of love, some do not quite get there in this lifetime. Not in a romantic relationship. Not in a friend relationship. Or even in a parent-child relationship. And some don't even know what love is. They think of it as sex. Affirmation. Attention. Money...any number of things. And because they don't know what it is, they don't know how to fully give it or feel it either. They don't know how to surrender. And love is one of—if not THE—greatest things for a soul to learn. I myself, never learned it from a man. Or a parent. Or anyone else. I think my mother came the closest to knowing it and feeling it, but anything I learned about it from her pales in comparison to what I ended up learning from a dog. 

Wrapping up the story of Passion so I can tell you what happened, when Passion was five I could see she was bored. And since Passion and I were both stubborn, and also because both of us just take ourselves too damned seriously, I proposed getting another dog. That dog was Kizzie, the boy I watch sunsets with. I let Passion co-parent him. And she ruled with an iron fist. I'm adding in many links, because the story of Passion and what I learned from her has so many good nuggets I couldn't possibly say them all here. Anyway, she was rather oppressive to be around for both me and Kizzie, and I think she has visited many times to make it up to Kizzie, at least. 

Pashie as a puppygirl, still growing into her ears.
As you can see from the picture above, Passion was a beautiful dog. And she had this quirky thing where one ear stood straight up and the other flopped down. Another thing you might be able to see in that top pic is the regal, soulful way she could look at you. So one of "our things" was that I might catch sight of her and, with hands on top of my head simulating ears, I would signal one ear up and one ear down. And then I would smile or laugh, because my god, she was just so precious.

So earlier this week I'm at a stop light and, in the back of the jeep in front of me, I see a German Shepard mix with one ear up and one ear down. Without thinking, my hands were on top of my head, and I was laughing. Until I realized it had been 8 or 9 years since I had done that. Then I cried. At which point the dog looked at me head-on and looked EXACTLY like that photo above...that soulful look. And in the black and brown of the dog in the back of the jeep somehow...somehow I saw my red-headed Passion. For a second, she was there. And I lost it. 

All that day and most of the next I felt her with me. And each time I thought of her, I started weeping. At one point, I "asked her" why she was here. Kizzie is old and I was afraid maybe she was coming for him. But what I heard back was, "I come and see you all the time, but you never see me. I wanted you to see me." I'm crying again, just thinking about it. 

You know, I had mentioned that Pashie's strong personality was oppressive. And as guilty as I feel saying it, there was some release when she died. Of course I was heartbroken, but I also felt the lifting of the oppression. As a kid we got a new dog immediately after the old dog died. So within a few weeks, Kizzie and I chose the funny, sweet, loving and incredibly loyal Magick Moonbeam. 

Kizzie and Magick, sharing guard duty in the back yard.
I don't feel like I neglected mourning Passion. She died right before a weeklong vacation and Kizzie and I healed a great deal during that time. Passion had once had a really deeply spiritual encounter with a deer...I should tell that story sometime ...and we went to the site of that and held a little ceremony for her. And after her ashes came back, he and I released them where she wanted them the river she loved to swim in. 

But I don't know. This German Shepard thing made me realize for the first time in a long time how much I missed her. And, at first I thought maybe all the crying was some sort of delayed grief. But maybe it was just to remind me that the mourning never goes away. The missing never goes away. My mother has been gone 33 years—way longer than I ever knew her—and I can still ache from missing her. 

But maybe there is yet another reason this made me cry. What Passion "said" really strikes me...she can see me, but I can't see her. Pictures are one thing, but seeing that kind of "incarnation" is stunning. When she was alive, I used to tease her by saying, "You pretend not to love me, but you really do." Chow dogs are known to be aloof. Passion meted out her demostrative love like a miserly old lady pulling a quarter out of a coin purse. It was part of the oppression...lots of stern looks and a blase attitude toward snuggles and kisses and other shows of affection. 

But this week she came back, not just to see me, but also so I could see her back. And maybe that's why this has been so emotional for me. Passion really did love me after all. She loved me every bit as deeply as I loved her. And she finally learned how to show it.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

10/16/17—Redefining Goals

Lately, while watching the sunset with Kizzie, I've been seeing a man and a little boy walking through the neighborhood. My guess is they are father and son.

The little boy might be around four years old. And he's very curious. They move slowly because he needs to inspect the bark on a tree. Or pick up an acorn. Or look at a plant. Or run his finger through the crack in the sidewalk. Or follow a passing squirrel to see where he's going. By my count, he stops an average of four times for each property. It's a long block, so it must take at least an hour to walk around.

And while that's all sweet and everything, what really catches my interest is the father. Because he is SO patient. And not only that, but he points stuff out for his son to stop and inspect. It's really nice to see a father spending that kind of quality time with his son, especially in a region where most people are workaholics and hire aupairs to deal with their progeny.

The dad's patience got me thinking. I could never be that dad. My god. If you're going for a walk, then go for a walk! This kid stops way more than my dogs do to sniff and whatnot, and sometimes I'm too impatient even for their sniffing.

To me, the goal of a walk is for you to get to the end efficiently. It wasn't always that way. When I was in better shape, the goal might have been sustained aerobic activity. Enjoyment. Or to see scenery on a hike. But now, I guess, it's just to get it done. Which makes me a little sad, but that's for a different blog post. This post is about patience. And goals. And it's also a little about "thank god Tierney never had children because she is definitely not suited for the reality of being a parent."

There are times I can muster patience. But I don't really need to practice it very often. Most goals in my life are met before patience comes into play. Or maybe that means I'm sufficiently patient enough to enable my goals. Looking at that man and his boy, however, I saw there were levels of patience way beyond what would be realistic for me. And don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking that. I admire his patience. I'm just saying I clearly am lacking because it would drive me batty. I could do one walk like that maybe, but they're out there a couple of times a week!

Still, I can see what a special time it is for both of them. My dad had no patience for his children, which is probably where I get my lack of patience for them from. And as a result, I grew up feeling like I wasn't worthy of that effort. That little boy will never forget how his dad took time for him, tried to see the world through his eyes, and was truly interested in whatever interested him. It's a very healthy and wonderful thing, assuming he's not similarly indulged at home. Then it could turn the kid into a monster. But from my front stoop, as I sit there with one around my boy, singing to him and whispering sweet nothings even though he's a dog, it's a beautiful thing to see.

This has also got me thinking about where I might be chasing the wrong goals. For me, on a walk with a child, my goal would be to get to the end. But look at all I'd be missing. Like my time on the stoop with Kizzie, this is probably the best time of that dad's day. (And, in my defense, plenty of people don't have the patience to watch a sunset, so I do have some patience in me.) It's like how my dieting goals are screwed goal is to sufficiently deprive, rather than strategically nourish, for example. Or with exercise...the goal is clearly to torment myself with inaction, instead of strengthening my asthma addled lungs or some other more compelling reason. Up until recently the goal with my book writing was to power through, as if it is a chore. Instead, now I'm more inspired to serve the needs of people who want to form a one-on-one connection with spirit. It's a more fulfilling goal.

So it's a question worth considering, especially in places you're stuck or unable to move forward. Maybe instead of beating yourself up for not meeting a goal, maybe you're pursuing the wrong goal in the first place. That man's goal is not to take a walk with his son. It's to make special moments with his son so he doesn't miss out on anything. Both goals get you to the same finishing line, but one is more motivating and fulfilling. How might you apply this to your life?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

10/7/17—Enjoying the View

Here's a classic post...

I was giving a reading the other day and said something so wise I surprised even myself! :D I may not be the first to say it, but its worthy of repeating and reconsidering even if you've heard it before. Plus, I've been living it and considering it for a few days and it's a great thought to carry around... 

At this very moment, your dream has come true and your future dreams are coming true. Today was a day you dreamed of. 

Think about it. THIS was a moment you dreamed into fruition. And even though it may feel like a "flawed moment"...or not as perfect as the dream you is nonetheless the moment of manifestation for you. A moment to cherish and celebrate. 

Consider that everything that happened today and will happen tomorrow is in response to a prayer you put out. We're always making dreams of the future...always working toward a future dream that continually expands ever further into the future as we meet goals, take unexpected turns and live our daily lives. And because of this, it seems like today is just never good enough. But today is the answer to a dream you had not that long ago. Rejoice in the answer to a dream rather than poo poo it as not as good as the revised vision you have now. You couldn't even have that vision if you didn't once dream the dream you're living today. 

A year ago I dreamed I'd be more mentally clear and more physically capable. And I am. And yet it's not good enough. I want even more now. And a curse of being human is that we don't know how to exist without a dream of something more. So we're never satisfied with what we have. The thirst for more serves a purpose in moving us forward. But with all these mountains we climb, we really should take the time to enjoy the view. Living a life of purpose that doesn't account for appreciating the beauty of the process is missing the point, imo. 

Part of the challenge of taking personal responsibility for having dreamed this and every day of our lives—whether consciously or unconsciously—is realizing that the things we dreamed of, in the reality we actually live in, have upsides and downsides. For example, I dreamed of having dogs. So when I carry three sacks of poo with me for a mile on a walk, that's a day I dreamed of. Because that's part of the reality of dogs. 

Say that, years back, you dreamed of the day you'd be married to the spouse you have now. Or say you dreamed of getting the job you have now. And now you're unhappy with that situation, whatever it is. Dreams, when translated into reality, have upsides and downsides. So this is a day you dreamed of. 

And so imagine that today you're dreaming of being free of that job or marriage. Then, in reality, things are probably going to get worse before they get better, because most of us need to be pretty miserable to take on changes like that. Therefore, the miserable times are all days you dreamed would happen. And now imagine that you're free of that situation, at last. But you're feeling lonely on Friday night or are unemployed or maybe having trouble settling in to your new job. Those are all days you dreamed of, too. And if you want to change that, it's likely it will all get worse before it gets better, so those are the days you're dreaming of now when you dream of changing the situation. 

And the same goes for all the happy and neutral days we all have, too. I just didn't mention them, because it's easier to imagine the good days being days you dreamed of. We'll readily take credit for having brought those into fruition using our powerful dreaming abilities...haha. 

So consider taking your head out of all that you want to accomplish before next month, next year or the end of your life and spend some time appreciating the powerful fact that you created today. It is an answer to a prayer. You are that good. So good, in fact, that all the dreams you have for tomorrow are unfolding effortlessly as we speak, just as today unfolded from yesterday's dreams. 

By the time we fulfill our intentions and reach the places we dreamed of yesterday, it's too late to enjoy the process. And, besides, we already have a new dream in mind that we're focused on instead. The only time to really appreciate and enjoy the striving is not when we've reached our destination, because we never really do. It's day by day as we're experiencing it. 

Today is the day you once dreamed of. You are magic. You are literally living the dream. Celebrate the beauty of this moment.

Sunday, October 1, 2017


Lately I feel like I'm winning.

I've had two perfect, one-on-one, mommy-and-me dates with my dogs recently. I've been having good parkma. Work is doing ok. I've been doing some writing on my book. I lit the pictured fire with one match tonight.* The weather has finally realized it's fall. And I don't feel like killing myself lately. Perhaps my bar is set a little low, but I'll take it.

Anyway, some of this is due to circumstance, but I've also been using my One Better Decision method of getting out of ruts. Basically, it's this. We have all these bad or unproductive habits and we make unconscious decisions about them every day. So if we consciously replace one of those decisions with one different or better decision each day, it will shake us out of our rut. We just need to zig where we tend to habitually zag.

As an example, I wanted to work more on my book. For months, the only thing I've done about my book is feel guilty about not doing anything. So each day, I did something small, rather than do nothing at all. One day I attended a writing teleseminar. Another day I jotted down some notes when I had a thought, instead of telling myself I'd remember. I've written a few nights, instead of not writing. One day I came across two articles I could use to help shape some thoughts and bookmarked them. Tonight as I was watching the fire, I watched it through the eyes of me after I've met my goal...I visualized my dream. See, it doesn't have to be a big thing or a time-consuming thing. Just do something you're not doing now. Making progress at a snail's pace is better than making no progress at all. And progress begets more and better progress. It never fails me. I feel better after doing it for a week or two every time. The only flaw with it is that I tend to stop doing it once I'm feeling good and productive again.

But there are also cycles we go through. I am emerging from a long dormant cycle. And lately I've also been noticing progress that happened while I was in my pupa. So I'm bolstered by that. And I've had some positive vibes about the future. I've also had some very nice, satisfying days lately. Even if I'm just being lazy, I'm savoring more. I wish I'd been born someone who feels happy and hopeful and confident all the time. If that person even exists. But I don't get that often enough in my life...or haven't even really felt that way for years. At least not for any notable length of time.

But even with that, I'm feeling hopeful. Because my depression and other issues make me a virtual font of things to write about that help others who may be having my issue du jour. I have spent a lot of time feeling "broken" or put upon by my emotional happenings, both chemical/hormonal and self-made. And I've never really noticed or acknowledged that part of me as my special divine gift. 

For Van Gogh and Sylvia Plath and many others, it was the fuel behind their legendary expressions of art. Edvard Munch, the artist of The Scream, said, "My fear of life is necessary to me, as is my illness. Without anxiety and illness, I am a ship without a rudder ... my sufferings are part of my self and my art. They are indistinguishable from me, and their destruction would destroy my art."

Could it be possible that the very thing I've let debilitate and limit me throughout my life, is also my divine gift? Could its equivalent in you also be yours? For me, it's beginning to look that way. Little did I realize that I may have been winning all along.

*Just for funsies, open up the picture and see if you can see a woman's face in the smoke, just at the top edge of the bowl, immediately to the left of the flame. It is very faint, but very detailed in the faintness. I have captured a girl in the smoke in the same place twice before and tonight I asked if the girl was there when I took this pic. This looks more like a woman, but whatever. Also, over to the right, a little above the edge, there's very clear dog's head or horse head in an oddly manifested flame. It's in the flame and not the smoke.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

9/25/17—Letting Go Of Holding Myself Back

Starting when I was 16, my mom began dying from cancer. I lost her when I was 21. Then a few years later, my father was murdered by my stepmother—the woman he met after my mother died—for the insurance money. When I was 25, I was the only person I knew whose parents were both dead. And I wore that story for a very long time.

I also wore the story of an abusive boyfriend I was with for a couple of years. And the two exhausting years lost to anemia because a nurse forgot to tell me to take an iron pill. And the many more exhausting years lost to asthma because a doctor insisted on diagnosing me as merely fat.

For many years I wore these stories and more—partly because they proved my resiliency, partly because I learned so much from them that I could share with others and partly, frankly, because they allowed me to feel sorry for myself and remain stuck.

When I was in my 20s, my stories were big for someone so young. Now that I'm in my 50s, I realize everyone has a tragic story to tell. Sure, not all are as dramatic as having a black widow for a stepmother, but everyone has something that is just as traumatic for them. Some have even worse. Maybe they lost a child. Or lost a limb. Or maybe they had to battle cancer.

I love watching TV shows where people compete, whether it's something inane like Big Brother or something cool like American Ninja Warrior. Because of higher priority DVR conflicts, I only get to watch one or two episodes of Dancing With The Stars each year. But I saw the first episode recently. Debbie Gibson was on and talking about living with Lyme Disease and how she doesn't know from one day to the next how she will feel. But she presses on. She said that everyone has something, so she can't sit around feeling sorry for herself. Like Tierney Sadler does.

At least that's what I heard.

Then there was Victoria Arlen who, at 11, became paralyzed and was in a vegetative state for four years, aware of what was going on around her, but locked in a body that couldn't respond. She was paralyzed for 10 years, during which time she became a Paralympic athlete and an ESPN sportscaster. In her life, she has had to relearn EVERYTHING...talking, eating and even just making simple moves. Then she relearned how to walk. She can't feel her legs, but she can move them. And, a year after relearning to walk, she's on fricking Dancing With The Stars!

Which reminds me of Mandy Harvey. This woman was in college, studying voice, when she suddenly went deaf. Well, she is singing again and she is amazing. Really. If you haven't heard this, you must. And it's not like all the songs she writes and performs are about going deaf or overcoming tragedy. It's almost like a side note, because her voice and her messages are so beautiful. But there was one song with the lyric, "I have no one to blame, because the only one standing in my way is me. Did you hear that, Tierney Sadler?" Of course, I'm quoting those lyrics from memory so I could be a little off.

These shows always make me cry. I've even written about it before. And I'm beginning to think maybe I'm crying because I am letting my stories hold me back. And while these people have the courage to use their stories as a springboard for something greater, I'm letting mine excuse me from not doing the hard work they have done. I've become comfortable, complicit, and complacent in my stagnation and mediocrity. And I hate that about me. It's not what I want for myself.

Although I sometimes doubt it or fear it isn't true, I believe there is much more I'm meant to aspire to and achieve in my life. And hey, where I am right now is a blessing. Don't get me wrong. But I feel my calling is intended to be something beyond where I am right now. In fact, I was musing over that very thought tonight while gazing at a crescent moon in a clear sky when a firefly literally got all up in my face, flashed his butt at me once, then flew off. A firefly! In September! They are gone by or around July in these parts each year.

So I googled the spiritual significance of a firefly—because that's what you do when the last living firefly on earth makes a point of getting your attention—and the meaning I found likened it to The Hermit card in tarot. The seer, the sage...the spiritual teacher. The Illuminator. Which just happens to be the "greater calling" I was thinking about when the firefly showed up. (And The Hermit also happens to be either my birth or destiny card in the tarot. I can't remember which.)

More than that, I see bats most nights at dusk. But tonight they were especially prevalent, circling constantly over my head and home for the 15-20 minutes I sat outside watching it get dark. Symbolically speaking, bats guide us through darkness and ready us for something new and healing in our lives. My thoughts had been swirling around that, too, as the bats were swirling over my head. So I took this all as a sign, because duh.

I have held myself back for quite some time because it's safe. And I get by like this. I get to work for myself in my own home. Sometimes I just barely subsist, but I'm nonetheless subsisting. I have three constant sources of love and approval and adoration no further than 10 feet away from me at any given time. I have the world's most adorable home. I have like-minded friends. I have a peaceful and quiet life. There is nothing tragic here. Nothing to escape from. But I know there is more I doing. And I've known this for some time. And once you become fully conscious of something like that, it becomes harder to ignore...harder to indulge and deny.

I'm always going to have my stories. I couldn't leave them behind if I wanted to. But I don't have to have a co-dependent relationship with them. I don't have to use them as an excuse for the unhealthy, stagnating choices in my life. And I don't need the voices of doubt and fear that hide out in the folds of my stagnation steering my ship, either. 

I may not feel ready to start right this minute. I won't make lofty claims or timelines. But I know this—once I'm aware of anything at a new level like this, change is inevitable. 

Which led me to one more thought as I gazed up at that crescent moon. The universe has always brought the right things into my life. Some of them delighted me, some challenged me, some broke my will for a while, some broke my heart. But they were all necessary to bring me to where I am. And despite my fears and doubts, the universe will bring me what's necessary to get me where I'm bound. I just need to face forward, do what I can to help, and otherwise get the hell out of its way.