Living Life with Joy

“Once there is a distance between you and your thought process, a new freedom is born. With this freedom, a new perception arises.” Sadhguru

We are the most evolved creatures on the planet. Strong cerebral capabilities. We love, laugh, imagine, remember things, and we have hopes and dreams. We move day to day making choices based on our past experiences. That means our current day living is vital because we are making new memories that will shape our tomorrows. Along with shaping our tomorrows comes our imaginations. Our hopes, goals, dreams, bucket lists. Everything stems from our imagination.

So what happens when all our pasts, presents, and futures combine? It becomes a jumbo bowl of joyless living. We incorporate our traumas of yesterday, our confusion of choices today, and our fears of tomorrow. Thus we suffer a joyless living.

This creates suicidal ideations, depression, anxious living. Our brain becomes our worst enemy.

A little about me…
Going to middle and high school was shit for me. I hated it. However, when I got to college, it was such an experience of awe for me. My brain was on fire in a good way. I was exploring philosophy, figuring out how complicated math equations worked, experimenting with anthropology by sitting in hospital lobbies just watching people. My brain was not at peace. It was, again, on fire! In every manner, I was challenging myself to become more aware, to understand people better, to figure out myself. It was the best time of my life.

That intensity and focus kept me out of having ‘peace of mind’ but instead projected me into a world of growth. When we are not investing anything of our lives into something, we are spending too much time in our own heads, our thoughts take control. And does anyone know what happens when you spend all your time in your own thoughts? Madness. We lose that fire; the flame snuffs out.

We need to find something that we can dedicate ourselves to so intensely, to become so focused on it, that we can escape our minds. But it needs to be productive focus. No zombie focus. We could absolutely become hyper-focused on binging a favorite tv series, or couch-surfing on our favorite video game until all hours of the morning. These are not healthy fires. They aren’t bad fires. Hell, I LOVE animal crossings. And I adore my color-by-number, and OMG…Game of Thrones. YES!!! These are all limited focuses and when we shut them off, what will our brains be on fire for then?

Living life with JOY is finding something to ignore our brains on fire for. Things that demand us to think about a great deal of time, but one which we enjoy thinking on. I’m so blessed to truly love what I do at my job. Providing crisis counseling, teaching skill-building activities, and how to overcome hardships…I love it. Does it set my brain on fire? Absolutely. I have to discern what each client needs, think outside of the box for new ways they might learn to cope with things, figure out what resources they need to succeed.

Unfortunately, not all people feel this way at their jobs. And so you must look at pro social activities that can cause a desire to learn, to think critically, to grow your mind. Maybe you like to cook/bake. Okay, grow that flame. Research the lives of others who enjoy that. Come up with new recipes. Write a cookbook. Or maybe you like caring for animals. Dive into researching why a particular animal behaves a certain way. Why are pit bulls regards with such low regard? Do they have reason to?

Find a cause worth igniting yourself over. What is your biggest pet peeve? Why? Can you make a positive change, if not in the world, maybe in just your community. Or in your child’s school? Or even in your book club. Hell, make it a point to prove why books should not be banned? Or for that matter, why they should be! Ignite your brain.

You’ll find joy when you aren’t at peace of mind in the world. Now, for those who look to God for peace of mind, that’s a whole different type of peace of mind…one that we should always seek. The Peace that Passes All understanding. But for the flesh….ignore that desire for inner quietness. Let it get loud! Let it get on fire for something.

What are your thoughts?

Sleep Better

The only thing you need to be doing in your bed (besides getting more intimate with your significant other) is sleeping! Our bedrooms are cluttered! It is not a multipurpose room.

Here are things NOT to do in your bedroom:

1. Don’t watch television.
2. Don’t watch your phone.
3. Don’t eat.
4. Don’t use your computer. (No work, no games, no color by number, no anything.)
5. Don’t take phone calls. (If you get a phone call, get up and leave your bedroom. This also enables you to give your full attention to the other person.)
6. Don’t listen to audio books.
7. Don’t read.
8. Don’t write

When it’s time to sleep, and you do any of these things, you are confusing your body. It impacts your senses and trains your mind and body to do things, to think, to be active. You get into a habit of staying in your bed, losing motivation to do things.

Many of these things are sooooo important to me, and may be to you as well. So how do we incorporate important activities into our evening? Create a routine before you go to your bedroom. Choose what you want to do each day of the week in the evenings. Perhaps, like me you want to read your bible every night. Or journal nightly. We can still do those things, but incorporate them into a ‘getting ready for bed’ evening routine.

Try it out, maybe for a week or a month. See what works for you and what doesn’t’.

Just my suggestion.

Life Lessons by Carl Jung

1. Look inside yourself first.
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
“When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.”
“The fact is that each person has to do something different, something that is uniquely his own.”
“The word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.”

2. Analyze your dreams.
“The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends.”
“Dreams are the facts from which we must proceed.”
“The dream arises from a part of the mind unknown to us, but none the less important, and is concerned with the desires for the approaching day.”
“Dreams are the guiding words of the soul. Why should I henceforth not love my dreams and not make their riddling images into objects of my daily consideration?”

3. Learn to face reality.
“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.”
“Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health.”

4.Think, do not judge.
“Thinking is difficult, therefore let the herd pronounce judgement.”
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
“It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.”
“If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool.”

5. Be eager to grow older.
“Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.”
“Shrinking away from death is something unhealthy and abnormal which robs the second half of life of its purpose.”

6. Tell your stories.
“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”

I Am A Peacemaker

1. I like to see the good in other people and give the benefit of the doubt.
When I meet people, especially in my career as a counselor, no matter what information I have on that person, I allow them to share with me who they are. Other people are great at telling me all the negatives about someone, but I want to hear from that individual what makes them who they are. When I do this, it allows me to hear from them what they think of themselves. The good and the bad.
2. I treat others the way THEY want to be treated, not the way I want to treated. We don’t all want to be treated the same way, so is it fair of me to put my beliefs and thoughts and feelings onto another in order to determine how to treat them?
3. I protect the vulnerable. We often think of children when we think of the word vulnerable, but all of us are vulnerable in some manner. If someone tells me they are fearful of something, I do my best to protect from making them feel that fear.
4. I listen with an open mind. Having an open mind doesn’t just mean you listen to someone. It means being open to possible change and adapting to differences.
5. I practice forgiveness, offer encouragement, and kindness.
6. I practice tolerance as well as take notice of my effect on other people.
7. I value community and do my best to protect the environment.

How I See Myself

What qualities do I value most about myself?
I am a loyal friend.
I am honest and trustworthy.
I am sincere with my words.
I am a good listener.
I am creative.
I think through things before saying/doing things.
I am a goal-getter.
I have HUGE hopes and dreams.
I am an avid learner.

What makes me feel most alive?
Helping others grow
Helping others overcome their obstacles
Learning, growing
Writing, Reading, Thinking
Being with loved ones

What holds me back from being fully myself?
Lacking intrinsic motivation
Lacking willpower
My dislike for exercising
My fear of sharing my opinions
My fear of failing

What about you?????

Covid Weddings: My Experience

I realize many people have had to cancel, postpone, and downsize their weddings during this time of Covid. I’m so fortunate that we didn’t have to cancel or postpone my daughter’s wedding. We did have to downsize it. What that meant was many of our loved ones were unable to be present. Some may wonder why we didn’t just postpone until life became normal again, everyone could travel, and be present. In my previous post, I spoke on reaching out for the glimmers, the highs during all the lows, reaching out and fighting for the goodness in life while we suffer. THAT is why we didn’t postpone. We absolutely needed some light and goodness in our life. And what better way than with a wedding, a new life journey between two people who love each other!

With Emily and Antonio living three hours away, it was up to me to pull everything together. Totally not an easy or simple thing. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I would sit in Barnes & Nobles and read books on wedding planning. I would search the internet until wee hours in the morning. I would Pinterest until I could Pinterest no more! I even Etsy’ed. LOL I finally realized I couldn’t do this all on my own.

Now, let me backtrack for just a moment. I had been saving for our family vacation for the past three years. Every single extra penny I could find, every Starbucks Refresher not ordered, everything went towards our vacation fund. Our last vacation was cancelled due to it being THE month. You know, that MARCH? The one in which everything was shut down. Yeah, that month. Ugh…so my hope was to go to Seattle December 2021 for two weeks. Well, that wasn’t going to work because, well, all those new strains and, yeah…But God had other plans. And that was good. Because we had the funds to put together this wedding. So, it all worked out.

Back to the wedding experience. I shopped around and asked people on my Facebook groups (yeah, I still Facebook! HAHA) And I came across a lot of recommendations for Teri, who is like the BEST DJ every. And so I contacted French Kiss Productions and I never once regretted it. Teri wore so many hats, not just of a DJ. She was a Mama Bear when I needed it, a mentor, a hard-ass deadline boss; absolutely everything a mother preparing a daughter’s wedding could ask for. She also helped me find other resources because I am not a decorator. I don’t have a lick of style in my bones. Goodness, I would hate to see what this wedding would have looked like if I hadn’t had these wonderful women in my life to help me gather all my wants, needs, visions, and, well, everything!

We had about 60 people attend the wedding. We had a livestream for all those loved ones who couldn’t be here with us. And for the reception, our family prepared all the food ourselves. You’d be jealous at the lineup of yummy food served. Trini food and Croatian Food. I’d list it all, but then I would have to explain what everything was. All I know, it was some damn fine food. On our side of the family, my brother-in-law and sister-in-laws slaves away in the kitchen for two days and two nights straight preparing everything.

You’d be surprised, but the biggest obstacle I experienced through all this was finding two liter sodas. Well, actually, you’ve probably seen the empty shelves in your local grocery store, so, it probably isn’t a surprise. What was a surprise, apparently people who enjoy alcohol do not drink soda that often. At least, not Sprite. Liquor Stores had tons of 2 liters! LOL

Anyway, the whole point of this post is to restate my message from my previous post. DON’T block the glimmers of goodness in your life right now. You need those. It’s hard out there right now. It’s damn scary! You deserve to swaddle yourselves in the glimmers. Look for the highs, those things that make you feel good, feel warm and fuzzy, feel like your floating on air. (REDBULL style-but all natural!)

Here’s some pictures of our glimmers from that magical day! I’d love to see some of your own pictures. Drop me a like, follow, or just share a story or picture. Hell, I’ll take a meme if it makes me smile and feel good!!!

Cheers!

My Story-Just the Bones

I was born to a young mother who was alone, beside herself, and scared. My biological father chose drugs and alcohol over me. My mother did the very best with the circumstances she was given. She married a physically and emotionally abusive man who spent years hurting both of us. He was a military man and we moved around frequently. We lived in Bamberg, Germany for a few years before coming back to the states. I don’t recall much from those years and those things I do recall were not nice memories.

I was fortunate enough to be able to live with my grandparents for a time and they taught instilled into me a passion for reading and writing at the tender age of three. I remember reading from small, fat comic books about Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Scrooge McDuck and his three nephews, and putting words together with flashcards. I recall staring into my grandmother’s gigantic dollhouse and dreaming up the perfect life for myself. Though I couldn’t touch the pieces, I imagined the little dolls moving around, talking, and being the perfect family.

I was five years old when I told a sixteen year old girl, my mother’s friend’s daughter, about the sexual abuse. I was five years old when I showed the therapist with dolls the things that had happened to me. I was five years old when everything changed. My mother took my little brother and moved into a safehouse for women and children. I was too old, in school, and lived with my other grandparents.

My mother, with community resources, moved us to another city, and together, we began our new family. Starting a new school at six years old was very scary. Throughout the coming years I made friends but continued to carry a big secret. One which I never fully processed through. So I learned how to process events in my life by playing Barbie dolls and writing stories. My first story was written when I was eight. It was a combination of Curious George and Shirley Temple.

Following years, moving into teen years, I experienced more trauma. I turned to inappropriate coping mechanisms, but continued writing. When I was in sixth grade, I wrote a story about a brother who’d gotten AIDS and how his sister was handling the news. This won me an award at Western Kentucky University. It was the moment I knew that writing was a talent, a gift, and an appropriate manner to share my feelings and still being safe.

When I was fifteen, I found myself in a very toxic relationship which propelled me down many dark paths. Paths that would follow me for decades. While I found richness, goodness, and happiness in my life, still, the darkness, the secrets, were very much there under the surface. I continued with my writing however I was stuck in a ‘start a story’ mode and for the life of me, I could never see the words, ‘the end’ to anything.

I attempted NaNoWriMo so many times only to fail. By this time, I was married, had children, and was going to college. College was the one thing I felt I could do right. I was able to get my BA in Interdisciplinary Humanities and Psychology and into my MA in Professional Counseling courses. Still I’d never fully processed my past traumas and was very critical and negative towards myself. Working towards my MA made me really learn a lot and it helped me immensely. So much that I finally opened the drawers that were locked deep inside the mind, hidden in the chained, locked, impenetrable doors of the mind.

I suffered a mental breakdown.

I made it through. Stronger. Surrounded by loved ones, I paced myself and learned to love myself. I found out that my writing could be better. I found my stories could be bigger. I found out that I could write, ‘the end’. I had finished my first novel. And then with NaNoWriMo, I finished three more novels. I pitched one of my stories to an editor and they loved it. (It fell through when the editor left for personal reasons, so I had to start back at the beginning.) At the point, I was fueled with love and admiration for myself, for what I’d overcome that I didn’t let it get me down.

My best friend and writing partner passed away. I was lost again. And I left my writing. I put it aside, mourning the death of my friend and partner. I raced into my new career as a professional counselor, put my all into it, helping families learn communication skills, de-escalation skills, emotion regulation and coping skills. I helped bring families together, stronger, and I love doing so. Unfortunately, the life of a counselor, I found I had so much documentation to focus on. So much time spent in front of the computer, and it zapped all motivation to write creatively.

Then Covid hit. You’d think I’d have so much more time to be creative, but instead, I focused on being gentle towards myself, focus on my family, and self-healing. It’s been a year now since Covid became a thing and I am only now finding in me a place to want, a desire to write. My characters are talking again. My stories are calling out to me.

I no longer write to heal myself. I write to help others heal.