Allow Me to Apologize

Raw.  That’s how I’m feelings these days.  I’m approaching the three-year anniversary of my mother’s death and it still seems surreal.  I was thinking about what I know about her and the one thing sticking out in my mind is I don’t know what her favorite color was.  It’s not black even though she almost exclusively wore black, white, and gray.  I’m telling you this because I’m about to use this as a confession.

Yesterday, after walking my dog, I came home to the pest control company doing their quarterly service.  I was enraged because they hadn’t given me any warning.  I walked into the backyard and proceeded to unleash my anger on the young man.  

After the young man left, I found out some of my claims about the company’s negligence wasn’t true.  Of course, then guilt set in because this young man shouldn’t have had to endure my wrath.  I set the guilt aside as I tapped into the sadness, I was feeling leading up to the anniversary.  (Just a warning: people may want to stay clear of me around Oct 1).  I was able to acknowledge the body memory of the loss and how it was coloring many of my daily interactions.

I called the company.  I wanted to offer my apology to the technician who had been in my path while I was on the loose.  It was clear I was calling a call center.  I politely (I was conscious of my body and my words) and wanted to speak to the local office.  I was informed it wouldn’t be possible.  I explained how I needed to speak with the local representative and was told this is why they have a “customer care” center, ironic don’t you think?  

Since I couldn’t apologize to the person, I went to the studio and created my daily collage around apology and forgiveness.  I look at it as an offering to the other for my bad behavior.  I’m clear it had nothing to do with him, and I wanted to mend the bridge I had so eloquently burned down.  

It’s like a message in a bottle.  I hope somehow and in some way the individual receives my apology.  Grief is real.  It can be invasive into our body, mind, and spirit.  It turns us into beings we may not recognize.  It’s not an excuse for my behavior.  It is a way for me to understand how better to take care of myself on the anniversary of my mother’s death, so I don’t get caught in this bind down the road.

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Roll Out the Red Carpet

Doesn’t the idea of being welcomed with open arms seem appealing?  The idea of inclusivity and acceptance rings loudly in our ears.  It’s something we strive for and when we connect with others in this manner we’re elated.  Our physical, emotional, and spiritual health is elevated. 

Unfortunately, in this day and age, there are too many obstacles.  Individuals being excluded, left out in the margins because they don’t believe, pray, eat, or live where others think we should.  Too often, we’re feeling guarded, skeptical, and afraid.  It doesn’t help when politicians invoke bans on those who believe differently, reinforcing conscious, subconscious, or unconscious biases.

I’m thinking about this because I spend my life in the world of narrative.  The stories we tell are the stories we live by.  The stories we create influence our behaviors and sometimes the behaviors of others.  I think back to an episode of Will and Grace.  The two are having an argument and Grace says to Will, “Are you being Hector the Projector?”  We all have a lens through which we see the world.  When we use only our lens, our viewpoint, sometimes we miss the reality and it causes harm.

What wounds or stories are we projecting onto others?  If it weren’t an issue for me, and I believe myself to be a conscious individual, then I wouldn’t be talking about it.  Being challenged may get my dander up, but in most cases, I will take the information and process it.  I use my time with my dog Zoe who I call “My Buddha on a Leash” to reflect and question why I hold certain beliefs and how they impede walking through this world with open arms.  

Give it a try and see where you’re being held back from walking with open arms!

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We’re coming into the season where the words comfort, cozy, and warmth are at the tip of our tongues.  The colors change, the light gets shorter, and we enter a place where we’re more inclined (depending on where you live) to spend more time indoors.  

The funny thing is I’m not a fan of the season’s changing.  I’m definitely a spring/summer baby, after all I was born in July.  Warmth comes to me in various ways.  It’s clear I enjoy spending time outdoors when it’s warm.  But what about my inner landscape?  How do I create and maintain the feeling of warm and cozy in my soul and in my spirit.

My immediate response is service. When I can be of service to others, I feel an inner warmth radiating beyond my physical being.  When I get to share my abundance with people, causes, and institutions I’m hoping to create a legacy of goodwill.  

When do you feel relaxed, nurtured, and/or comfortable?  What provides you an inner sense of warmth and comfort.  How do you allow that warmth to emanate beyond your physical being?  These are important because in a cold world (not meaning temperature, but how we often treat one another), the hug, a smile, a bag of groceries can feel like we’re all sitting around the campfire, and who doesn’t like that?

Be the source of warmth.  Accept the warmth offered from others.  Imagine how warm the world can be (not the catastrophic global warming scenario) if we all are a source of warmth.

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Hitchin’ A Ride

It’s amazing how when things are going great there are lots of people around us.  When things take a downward turn, the distance begins, loneliness sets in, and we see an increase in anxiety and depression.  It’s ironic, because if we need others the most, it’s when we’re struggling.

When we’re weary it’s helpful to have someone(s) who can carry the load for us.  I think of the plaque I’ve seen in many stores with footsteps.  It’s a person walking in the desert and all we see are footsteps.  The person is speaking to Jesus saying why aren’t you (Jesus) there to carry me when I’m struggling.  The response is, “Whose footprints do you think those are?”  

What do we need from others in good and bad times?  We need encouragement, support, knowledge, wisdom, and compassion.  We need those things fortifying our spirit.  We seek unconditional love because it’s the safest place on this physical earth.  I think a lot about this after some of the hardships I’ve experienced over the past few years.  

Last week a friend who I haven’t seen in eighteen years came for a visit.  She has recently suffered a catastrophic emotional event.  Even though we haven’t seen each other, we sat on the couch, she told her story (she testified) and we provided a space for her to unburden herself of grief, doubt, and shame.

Later in the week I took her to a location where I had my own dark night of the soul.  We went and I walked her through my trauma.  We both sat in bewilderment, cried together, and she (even with all she is going through) offered me a safe place to land.  I can’t think of anything more poetic, nurturing, and affirming.  

Seek out those who will be a place of refuge.  Find those whose souls offer you an oasis in the desert of despair.  I remember Oprah saying, “Everyone will ride with you in the limo, but it’s a true friend who will ride the bus with you.”  Find those people.  Celebrate those people.  Be one of those people.

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Group Think

One of my favorite books is “Together” by our Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy.  Dr. Murthy discusses how isolation and loneliness is a public health issue.  Just look at what happened during the massive lockdowns during the pandemic.  The number of people suffering from anxiety and depression skyrocketed.  We’re social animals and need continuous human contact.  

My next question is, “What are you willing to give up to belong?”  I’m not talking about giving up chocolate, or trashy novels.  I’m talking about giving up a part of you, your soul.  Perhaps you shift your beliefs or engage in activities you wouldn’t have previously because of what we call “mob mentality”.  

Peer pressure is continuously being studied.  You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to compromise their integrity, alter their reality, just to go with the crowd.  Look at some of the literature and you’ll first be amazed, then you’ll be horrified.

How far are you willing to bend your beliefs without breaking them?  At times, we can rationalize our shift by showing how we’re still anchored in our original belief.  A closer look will show how we change what we believe because we always need some sort of foundation beneath us, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Why have we been conditioned to belief being of one mind is beneficial?  What if we shifted our thinking.  Stick to your guns and yes you may be out on a limb alone.  I believe when we do that we’ll attract those who are truly part of our community.  We’ll send out a beacon of encouragement and inclusion.  Try it and let me know.  Who knows, I may join you on the limb!

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Stranger Things

What is reality?  How aware are we of our reality?  How do we know when our reality is altered, other than taking a mind-altering substance?  In real life we come across events and experiences leaving us questioning, did it really happen?  If it did happen, why is it impacting me in a weird way.  

I often have moments when I stop and say, “This is surreal.”  The third anniversary of my mother’s death is approaching and we’re already in the midst of the anniversary of the time she spent in the hospital.  It’s just shy of three years, and I still walk around in the land of the surreal.

As time goes on, the news has become surreal.  It’s sensationalized, but the facts and the experience are surreal.  It often leaves me feeling like I’m floating.  Feeling ungrounded and questioning way too many things. I’m sure those who win the lottery are having a surreal experience.  Did you know that many who have won the lottery have either blown the money, or leading lives of quiet desperation.  I know, we’d all like to give it a try.

This all leads me to the question about possibility?  Is the state of possibility surreal?  How does it show itself to you and what do you experience when it presents itself?  This one I’m still pondering.  If you have any ideas, let me know!

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How Many?

Ever go to a carnival or see a scene in a movie where someone is spinning multiple plates in the air.  We’re all mesmerized at the talent and optics.  We leave the spectacle and begin to wonder why can’t we do that?  Believe it or not, we all try and do the exact same thing, but with our attention, our actions, and even sometimes with money.

How thin can you spread yourself till you’re absolutely depleted.  Feeling depleted is the equivalent of those spinning plates crashing all around you.  We can only keep up the illusion of multi-tasking for so long.  Multi-tasking is an illusion.  We’re really engaged in serial attention believing we’re doing multiple things at the same time, an impossibility.  Everyone used to joke about walking and chewing gum at the same time.  That is not multi-tasking.

The other thing we experiment with and often fail at is being everything to everyone.  We have such a need to belong we’re willing to sacrifice our time and talent trying to be accepted by those we often don’t even like. Truth is, focus your time and attention on those you respect, admire, and understand will take you further. 

If we’re only one person, why do we try and be multiple people at the same time?  What does it say to us and others that we’re a jack of all trades in life, but master of none? 

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Out of Place

We think we’re so observant.  I remember taking a class in graduate school on Cognitive States of Learning.  One of the things we discussed was eyewitness testimony.  Did you know eye-witness testimony is only accurate about thirty percent of the time?  If you’re someone being accused of something, it’s not very comforting odds.  Surprisingly people take eyewitness testimony as gospel until they’re challenged, and the doubt begins to creep in.

We’re good at picking out what’s obvious.  I used to have a dog (Bella).  Her face was split down the middle color wise.  Half was white and the other half was brown.  I always wanted her to run down the street and ask people do describe her, just for fun.

Do we ever consider the subtleties and nuances of life?  How long would we have to look at something to pick up the minute variations of anything and everything.  I used to have a long drive to work.  A Buddhist priest friend of mind recommended I look for something new every day.  It was a great practice.  It kept me paying attention to the road and made the drive go faster.  

The more we are present, the more alert, responsive, and alive we’ll be.

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Weighs Heavy on Us All

Is energy finite?  Is everything finite?  This is important because if our personal energy is finite, we either need to know how to conserve it or replenish it.  The reason we develop reserves is in case of emergency.  Those times when we’re asked to jump in the fire, help out, and contribute beyond our normal daily interactions.

If we don’t have reserves, when our responsibilities rear their heads, we tend to feel overwhelmed.  We keep energy in reserve so when hardship for us or others hits, we can serve from all of us, body, mind, and spirit. 

Keeping a reserve allow us to know in our hearts we’re prepared for any and all requests for assistance within the parameters we’ve set in our lives.  Our reserves are so when we need to cross the finish line, we’re able to tap into the reserve tank allowing us to accomplish most of what we put our minds to.

What types of regiments nourish you emotionally and spiritually?  Do you connect with when you’re feeling depleted?  Are you aware of when your tank is full?  If so, are you able to divert some of that awareness to your reserves?  

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How do we get pigeonholed into thinking we are only one thing, think one way, and have one belief?  We are made to believe inner diversity is threatening to society or at least to the communities we belong to, especially when their groups on the margins.  I’ll give you an example.  Politically I’m an independent with leanings toward the left, but also fiscally conservative.  On Twitter, I follow the Log Cabin Republicans (gay conservatives).  I must admit for a long time, and still to this day I often find myself questioning how both positions live in one body.  As time goes by , surprisingly, I like some of their posts I am still in the middle as an independent, with a greater degree of flexibility.

We are conditioned to feel once we pick a lane, we’re limited to the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of the lane.  Often, we’re not even provided a viable off ramp from the highway we’ve been traveling and feeling boxed in makes us a little crazy.

In addition, we get into complex interactions with those around us, friends, family, and community members.  They imply belonging is dependent on ascribing to a set of beliefs.  Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly think white supremacists and the insurrectionists have qualities of inner evil.  I’m thinking of smaller diversities within us and the lives we want to live.  

Can we be our most authentic selves if we don’t accept our multiplicity?  Aren’t we the most ourselves when we allow all of us to rise and shine?  What would a fully rounded life look like to you?

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