Tuesday, March 22, 2016

True Love, Best Friends, Life Lessons

I want to tell you about my best friend, Shannon. And when I say she is my "best friend", I don't mean she is my best friend of the moment. I mean she is my oldest and dearest friend in the whole wide world. I mean she is my "true love". Yes, that is right, I called her my true love. I think we can have many true loves. Our children, our family (if we happen to be close to them), romantic partners and best friends. If ever there was a true love, she is mine.

I posted an Instagram post recently and thanked different people who are inspirations and taught me life lessons by their examples. I thanked Shannon for teaching me loyalty. I looked back later and thought, "Geez that is so lame. She taught me SO much more than that." So that day I started thinking about the Instagram post I was going to create in honor of her....only the composition in my head got much too long for Instagram and I decided to turn it into a blog post.

Shannon is BEAUTIFUL....stunningly so. People stop in their tracks to look at her. The thing is about beautiful people, sometimes that's all the world sees. They look no further than the surface. Women were often jealous of her and men would fall all over themselves to be near her. Both sexes make assumptions about who she is as a person to suit themselves. Women were catty and mean and would try to see flaws just to make themselves better, and men would project onto her what they wanted her to be. Or worse yet, they would try to mold her into their ideal.

Shannon is so much more than just a pretty face. She is a beautiful soul.

Our very first encounter, Shannon probably doesn't even remember. I was in the 6th grade and was living across the street from West Junior High School where Shannon was in the 7th grade because her birthday was before the school year started...only a month before mine. I attended church school and would walk to school every morning. One day I chose to borrow my sister's high heeled shoes to wear to school and some kids were making fun of me. Shannon defended me and said she liked them and they should stop being mean. That is her nature. She is a champion for the down-trodden and the underdog. She will not tolerate seeing people mistreat her fellow human and I love that about her.

When Shannon and I first officially met, we didn't hit it off right away. It was later we bonded when we were 17 at a party that the Elvis Brothers were at in our home town of Columbia, Missouri. We were both standing nervously by the door and she commented about how insecure she was feeling about what she chose to wear. I told her she had nothing to worry about, that she looked gorgeous. Our friendship blossomed and I ended up supplanting her friend, Joyce, who hated me because she was very threatened by me. She could see how well we got along and she was rightly concerned about being displaced.

Thirty years have passed since that party. We have been through a myriad of things together, It hasn't always been easy and blissful. We have had our fights and periods of not talking. During all of it, I have grown and learned so much because of her....because of our friendship. She has been a shining light and that one friend that loves me, supports me and understands me no matter how much I might fuck up. She is there for me and that means everything.

Now you might think that means we live in the same city or at least near enough to "be there" for each other but we haven't lived in the same state as each other since we were 23. Our friendship has survived because of hundreds of written letters, hours upon hours on the phone and the occasional flight out to see each other. I don't believe for a minute that you need someone to be in the physical vicinity in order to maintain a close relationship with them. If they mean something to you, you will make the effort to keep the communication alive. And really...there it is....the key to any truly good relationship...communication.

People look at a beautiful person and automatically assume they are stupid. Why do we do that? Is it to make ourselves somehow feel superior? We are dismissive and assume they are shallow and full of ego. Beautiful people can experience all the same insecurities we all face but the only difference is, they don't generally get a lot of empathy or understanding that this is the case.

Shannon has always been a lover of literature, beautiful art and beautiful things. She is very intelligent. She made me feel positively dumb at times because she had such a voracious appetite for books and art from early on. I was in such a dark place back then, I was just trying to claw my way out to see some light. She was a shiny bright light for me to follow to find my way out.

Shannon is soft, feminine, and openhearted. No matter how many times her heart breaks, she still manages to keep her heart open so that she can love again. I have always been so guarded, cautious, hard, with a heart frozen in layers. Not many have been able to make it past the layers of ice and the bouncers that sit at the door to my heart. I admire her ability to allow, surrender and be vulnerable. She sparkles. She is adventurous and is a big risk taker. Both are qualities I lack. Her adventurous nature has helped to push me out of my comfort zone at times. She appreciates the little things in life. I mean she really values little gestures. Little loving gestures mean the world to her.

Shannon is dramatic, colorful and passionate. Her enthusiasm makes me laugh and she makes my whole life more colorful and better. There is nothing boring about this woman. She is spontaneous. I am so not but wish I were more so. She lives in the now. She isn't consumed with what happened last year. She doesn't fret about planning out life for the future because she is too busy living right now to concern herself. I think that is a beautiful quality. Previously, I have spent far too much of my life living in both the past and the future.

Shannon is fearless in her pursuit of her dreams and she is supportive of the dreams of others. She chased her dreams and stuck her neck out to give it her best shot. She has faced rejection and obstacles but she never gives up. Maybe her dreams evolve, grow and change, but she never stops taking steps to make her dreams come true. And if you have a dream, she is there to support you, tell you how talented you are and how you should follow your dreams too.I didn't get a lot of support for my dreams or what I was interested in growing up, so her faith and support has been invaluable to me. I have been so proud of her working her way up to taking on big responsibilities that I would never been brave enough to do. She is a make-up artist and opened her own business called Blush and Lashes. And then she opened her own modeling agency, Hello Gorgeous Models, at the encouragement of one of the models she worked with when she was working as a make-up artist. She works so hard and it can be really challenging on many levels for her, but she never gives up.

She takes being a parent very seriously and her children mean the world to her. To those she chooses to have close to her, she is very loyal to and would defend like a mama lion defends her cubs. I feel sorry for the person who dares to make her cross or unfairly treats someone she loves. She is full of fire and fierce. She isn't afraid of confrontation if the situation calls for it.

Remember when I said how important communication is to keeping a relationship alive? Yeah, she is great at that. She communicates well. She shares what she is feeling easily and is always ready to listen as well. Talking with her is gratifying because it is a mutual exchange. Some people you talk to it feels like you are talking to a wall. I almost said it is like talking to yourself but I actually answer myself so that doesn't work. lol Talking to a wall sucks and I have never felt that with Shannon. She empathizes, gets angry with me for those who have hurt me or offers loving advice when I need it. When I am happy and have something I want to share, she is the one I want to share it with because I know she will share in my joy as if it were her own experience and joy.

Through our difficult times Shannon has taught me forgiveness. She has been the first to end the silence and ask for reconciliation. Remember, her heart is open so it has helped her be forgiving also.

Shannon is social...in-person social. She is light-hearted, laughs often and loves to play. I tend to be quite introverted and she often drags me out of my proverbial shell. When we are together, we can be silly and laugh and play. Some of my favorite and most playful memories were made with her. Some of the craziest predicaments I have been in were with her. And when we talk about the stories we created together, we still laugh and laugh.

Shannon is my true love, my soul sister, my very best friend. We both have other true loves that are blood ties, but the true love between friends is one of choice which makes it a precious flower worthy of being tenderly cared for because it enhances our life and makes it better with them in it.

I love you, Shannon!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spiritual Invalidation

I started composing this one in my head days ago. I had to think it about it for awhile to allow myself time to cool down because I was pretty annoyed at that point.

Let's talk about those "well meaning" and maybe "not so well meaning" spiritual people who feel the need to invalidate our experiences with spiritual ideas, phrases and concepts. Maybe we have all done this at times without being aware of it, but I think it is time to shine a lamp on it and make us conscious of spiritual invalidation.

 1. If it is meant to be, it will happen.

So you are my friend I have come to you to voice frustration about my journey. Or maybe I am just giving you some of the details of my journey and you come back with, "If it is meant to be, it will happen." To that I say FUCK YOU. There is nothing comforting or helpful about that statement to me. If you are in the camp who believe in free will, then you should also understand that there are multiple outcomes based on our choices, so to tell me "if it is meant to be, it will happen," is really just a giant slap in the face. It invalidates the experience of the person who is sharing something with you.

Here is a novel idea. Instead of blanket generic spiritual statements, try being a fucking friend and just use active listening words. Or maybe just try to be the empath you ALL claim to be and try to feel what I am feeling. Just say something like, "I can imagine it must be difficult for you" or "Wow, you set up an interesting story to play out for this human incarnation."

2. Time doesn't exist.

I, myself, have talked with others about how time doesn't really exist but when I am telling you that I am struggling with the waiting for things to play out and unfold in my story, it is NOT helpful when you say, "Oh well time doesn't really exist. There is no time." To that I say, FUCK YOU.

In this dimension and in this physical existence, we have chosen to experience time. We have chosen to have a linear experience. WE CREATED TIME WITH OUR BELIEF, so FUCK OFF with your "time doesn't exist" bullshit. Last time I checked you still used a clock for your spiritual business appointments, your yoga classes or just meeting your friends for coffee. You still pay attention to where the sun is at in the sky and the seasons. We get to a certain season and we say, "It is that time of year." You don't get to Christmas and say "oh well time doesn't really exist so fuck celebrating Christmas on a specific date." You still celebrate your birthday as though you too are playing the time game. How old are you again? Is that not time related?

When I am struggling and I am confiding in you, just be a fucking friend and say, "I am so sorry you are feeling this way. And yeah, it must suck to not know when it will all play out." I don't need you to fix me. I just need you to listen and be supportive.

3. We are all one.

I am groaning just typing that phrase. Yes, we are all one and I have talked about it before. Just like every virus, bacteria, parasite, etc. operates as one being within the human body, but if you isolate them and look at them under a microscope, they can seem separate. That cold I got last year isn't what we identify as me, but it was part of the whole for a while. We CHOSE to experience being separate from source. We are all part of the same being blah, blah blah. But when I am sharing a joyous moment and talking about how great it feels to have connected with specific soul family members and you come back with "We are all one. We are all soul family." To that I say, FUCK YOU. Yes we are all connected but what we FEEL for various people differs and you can tell me that, "we can feel that for anyone" and I tell you, "that has NOT been MY experience." By saying that we are all one after I shared happy feelings about my connections, you are essentially trying to diminish and invalidate the importance of that connection and feeling. If we feel the exact same thing for every soul, why is it we have specific groups we work with over and over again?

When I share my joy with you, instead of shitting on what I just told you, try saying something like, "Oh I am so happy for you. Yes, that must be so nice," or "That is wonderful!"

4. Everything is planned. It is fate.

This is very similar to "if it is meant to be, it will happen" statement. There are those who choose to believe that we have no free will and that we plan out every single tiny detail of the stories we live out while we are here. It is similar to those people who spout, "It's God's will." It is yet another way not to take personal responsibility. You just say, "Welp, it's outa my hands. I have no control. It has all already been lived, played out and determined." If that were really the case, why are you here? Why did you bother coming to have this experience? If I went out to a pond and knew I couldn't swim and kept going further in and drown, would you say that that was "planned" and it was "fate"? Or is it possible that I had the power to not make the stupid CHOICE to go in the water in the first place when I knew I couldn't swim? These human lives are NOT all pre-determined and pre-destined. There is likely some planning of things you would like to happen but there is a lot of space for free will allowing us to fuck up and LEARN. Saying, "It was just meant to be," is another way of us trying to make ourselves feel better about the shit we are standing in. It is making lemonade out of being given lemons. And it is perfectly okay to roll with it and make the best of whatever situation that comes your way, but when you use that concept and fate statements to invalidate another person's experience, it is not okay.
5. Stay positive...keep those vibrations up.

I have touched upon this one before, but because it is SO prevalent within the spiritual community, I will speak of it again. If I have REAL feelings to express be they angry, sad, whatever that are deemed "lower vibrational" and you come back with "stay positive" or "you gotta keep your vibrations high," to that I say FUCK YOU! I didn't come to one of the most dense planets and dimensions not to feel some of the darker emotions. I did not step into a human body only to try to be exactly like we always are on the other side. I came here to FEEL every fucking emotion that comes my way, so when you say, "Stay positive," it is just another way you are spiritually invalidating my experience. If you want to stay positive 24/7 and not allow yourself to feel what you feel in the moment, great. But don't tell me I need to do as you do. It is the new age version of trying to "save your soul" from damnation. I feel what I feel in the moment. I express what I have to say and I release it. I don't hold on. I find my center again and I am good.

Instead of telling me to stay positive when I tell you my heart is bleeding or tell you that I am so angry, just say something like, "Man, that really does suck," or "I'm so sorry, I wish I could make the pain go away for you."

You don't have to try to fix me. Just be a friend, listen and offer support. If you can't do that, I love myself enough to say to you please KINDLY FUCK OFF. Thank you.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Self-Worth. Random Strangers, When People Walk Away

I admit that I have been utterly uninspired to write much of anything lately. I haven't felt much like talking to people. I haven't felt like socializing within the normal spiritual communities I have been known to socialize in. Instead I have simply allowed the current of the river to take me where it will. I have been floating.

I have been most active on Instagram lately. The only reason why I opened an Instagram account was because Deryck Whibley from Sum 41 told me to. Well not me specifically, but he opened an account and asked fans to follow him there. At first I hated Instagram and trying to familiarize myself with a new type of social network. From my Windows phone, Instagram felt very limiting. Thank god I read about 6Tag because it does Instagram better than Instagram does...at least for Windows phones users. I still don't have all the capabilities that Android and IOS users have access to.

I didn't do much with my account at first. I played a little bit and posted pictures. Slowly but surely I started to use it more and more and in the continued use, the way I used it changed and evolved. I have all these quotes I have seen and saved to my phone. I also have a plethora of beautiful art I have seen and saved along the way. I have taken pleasure, lately, in pairing beautiful images with some of the wonderful quotes. I enjoy it and I feel I am good at it. When I click on my account, it looks like this beautiful quilt of artwork and photos from my various hikes. It is beautiful and it fills my heart and feeds my soul. If it pleases someone else too and they resonate, that is the icing on the cake. I sometimes go back and read my quotes and think, "Oh my god that quote is so good!" and feel happy I have shared it with others.

I had been sorely neglecting my Facebook companion-to-this-blog page. It bored me and I considered deleting it entirely but decided to start posting some of the art and quotes there as well. It has been more difficult to develop an audience on Facebook than it has on Instagram. I used to make fun of hashtags but they are a useful tool for people finding what interests them and I just don't think people on Facebook use hashtags in the same way as much. Regardless, I have decided to start posting some of the same material I am posting on Instagram on my Facebook page to hopefully give it new life.

During my time of following and interacting with specific high profile people on IG, I have had the opportunity to interact with a number of random people. I will reply to people if I feel moved to. I recently replied to someone about making and sharing art and I suddenly realized something about myself. I am really good at offering sincere support and the best advice I can in that moment. I also thought about my responses to people and I can genuinely say that in those moments where I am taking the time to give you encouragement, support and advice, I do it because I genuinely care about you, random stranger. Call me crazy, but I give a fuck and I care. In those moments I care and my only intention is to help and make you feel like someone sees you and cares. Maybe it will be the only interaction we ever have in this life, but for that brief interaction with you, I sincerely gave some of my heart to you and hoped you would feel better as a result. You matter to me.

And from that warm fuzzy we will tread into a darker place. lol Let's talk about those people who have been in your life and, for whatever reason, decide to walk away. To that I shrug and say "oh well". Regardless of what a caring and loving heart I have, I have also developed thick skin. The thing is, I am Marmite. And by that I mean that you either love me or hate me. My flavor is strong and not everyone can handle it. I am not for those with a delicate palate. I am for those who like strong coffee, dark beers and bleu cheese. I am used to people getting pissed and walking away. It used to make me cry when I was a child but as a 47-year-old adult, I just kind of shrug and say "oh well". I will miss you if you choose to remove yourself from my life, but I won't lose any sleep about it. My self-worth isn't wrapped up in what anyone else thinks of me. I happen to like me a lot. I like my own company. It has taken me 47 years to get to this place, but I love me and someone not liking me isn't going to shake my world and make me love myself less. I wish them well and say goodbye with love.

But should they want to come back...well, I forgive easily and would welcome them back. It is just my nature.