Forgiveness is an Act of Self Love

I think it’s safe to say that we that there is a “self-love” trend happening in which people are seeking wholeness for themselves by themselves. There is most certainly a positive connotation behind this as many of us are looking to making a change from the martyr mentality and hopeless devotion that we might have found ourselves programmed for in the past. I can relate. For decades, I slipped into false romances in which I was giving way more than what I was receiving and calling it love. Suppressing my true feelings and thoughts became the default as I quietly imploded into a depressed messed. Likely conditioned by my father’s unexplained absence and the dealings of my mother’s trauma, pouring my all into the efforts to be enough for others became a part of my identity. Needless to say, that didn’t last but there were noticeable moments in which that elevation started to turn southeast.

I, like so many of us now, began to awaken and see a better way to live. I, thankfully, had the help of pretty amazing friends, family, and my now husband; not to mention the endless motivational social media quotes and hashtags. However, as I became aware of things on a deeper level, I found myself judging people that did not. In criticizing their ignorance and immaturity, I was inadvertently displaying my own. My ego got in the way of me living the liberated life I really wanted. I separated myself and those who understand true love and compassion know separation is a major contradiction to that. We cannot fully love ourselves if we fail to love others for we are all the same and have been in the same shoes at some point in some way. When we forget this, we take steps backwards. The only way to continue to grow is to heal by way of forgiveness.

Truth be told, the hardest time I’ve had and still have are with my family. It’s difficult to forget where they fell short when I needed them the most and how much it hurt. In the short-term, it’s easier to be self-righteous in my resentment but the best thing I can do is realize where they are and love them there. Yes, even when they are not apologetic. Taking the steps to forgive are some of the hardest but probably the most loving thing you can do for yourself. Forgiveness bumps the ego out of the way. Long-term, forgiveness creates a space for us to learn the hard lessons in the sorrow of it all while developing compassion for others and therefore ourselves. This means that we can develop discernment and know when and how to act in a way that is best for us without carrying deadly hatred and fear in our being.

We cannot not properly conduct self love with hearts full hatred as it will inevitably backfire and manifest in everything we produce. Instead, we can acknowledge our pain and accept our perpetrators for where they are, even if we need to leave them there.

Namaste.

Unpacking Pain

Watered-down, Westernized spirituality has many of us thinking that growth means that we never get sad or angry but if we do, a simple meditation or yoga session will work that right out. Out of compassion for myself and others, I call bullshit. Truth is, much of the wisdom we gain on the road towards ascendance comes from allowing ourselves to dig deep into our hurt spaces and fully feel whatever is bubbling up from them. Even the wounds that have scabbed over or scarred can carry some form of underlying trauma we may or may not have acknowledged or even noticed. I can almost guarantee that for most of us, though, it’s there.

So many of us have become masters of getting by, an effective method for immediate survival. My mom, my sole provider and full-time working woman who couldn’t run to my aid whenever I was ill or hurt, taught me early on that when situations become inconvenient we “tough it out”. However, masking those bruised feelings (or bodies) will not prove sustainable forever.  At some point, we have to heal our shit and it may take a longer than we expect. In the words of Mary DeMuth, “Healing is layers. Healing is time. Healing is excruciating. Once you think it’s done, it’s not.”

“Healing is layers. Healing is time. Healing is excruciating. Once you think it’s done, it’s not” ~Mary DeMuth

As aware of as I am of the necessity of truly dealing with my problems, I am still often surprised at how deep some of my wounds really go or how good I’ve gotten at being functionally dysfunctional all this time; so much so, I didn’t know I had a particular problem until someone else brought it to my attention. Other times, these revelations occurred to me after finding myself worn out in repeated patterns of unwanted circumstances that forced me to look at what I was doing to cause them (also known as “learning the hard way”).

The thing about carrying wounds in today’s world, is that they are easier to mask. Not only do we have access to the vices of our parents’ era (drugs, sex and alcohol), we also have personal technological devices that help and even encourage us to airbrush the scars away after we are done proverbially cutting ourselves. But, imagine the liberation of dropping the weight of it all. Picture yourself embracing your overall beauty without filters. Only then can we actually get in touch with our inner spirits and ascend to true healing.

Namaste.

Intention Over Expectation

The common programming that takes place almost the moment we are cognizant is what we should expect out of people and situations. Helpful in many ways and often influenced by the trends of our culture and subcultures, these ideas take on a particular form that so happens to shape how we perceive the entire universe or at least our life’s journey.

While our optimism is still intact, our expectations tend to be pretty pleasant. We expect our parents to provide for us. We expect our partners to be faithful. We expect things to fall into place. We expect Earth to forever continue floating in space. Then, life continues to unfold, we fall victim to inevitable circumstances and our expectations begin to shift.

Suddenly, we begin to expect our parents’ disapproval and unfaithful lovers. We expect to fall short on achievement. Somewhere along the winding road, we might even expect the Earth, in all its vastness, to come imploding in on itself – in perfect alignment with the chaos we have to come to know as our existence. So, in spite of all the unfortunate happenstances that actually do occur, what separates the survivors from the thrivers? Intention.

Intention is about visualizing where to aim and never loosing sight of the goal, even if the target is missed. If every successful business person quit whenever things didn’t go as expected, there would be no successful businesses. If you ceased applying effort towards your goals in life every time something went wrong, although alive, it would be safe to say you would not have actually done much living.

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Expectations are usually the glue that keep up stuck in unnecessarily painful situations. We expect everyone to agree with our opinion so we become enraged when they do not. We expect happiness will somehow find us when we buy something new or switch jobs. Or, we just just know our spouses will forever be true to us no matter what. This is not to say that we should not implement healthy boundaries and standards but the truth is that nothing is certain.

The older I get, the more the things I’ve always known to be true are debunked, the more I run into new opposing views and obstacles.  What I have found is that regardless of my predictions and assumptions, life does not always match up. I learned the hard way that slow and steady does not always win the race and sometimes the apple falls very far from the tree – common and often true conceptions. And although sometimes initially jarring, instead of allowing these realizations to cause upset, I embrace them as new truths to inform the “how” of my intentions.

Hard times come and go just as much as the good times. It’s what you do with each moment that makes the difference. When we hold on to what we “expect”, we will find ourselves disappointed more times than not as life was never meant to be entirely predictable. Where’s the fun in that after all? The ebbs and flows of life are what make us who we are. We can learn a lot about ourselves based on how we handle each present moment as it comes without the stronghold of expectation but rather with the tides of intention. You just might surprise yourself and end up steering your experience down the seas of the unexpected of so much more than you could have ever imagined.

Namaste.

Aries Full Moon & Autumn Equinox 2018

The September full moon cycle begins today moving out of Pisces in part (97-98%) into Aries in full (99-100%). Goals and plans set into motion with the prior new moon in Virgo are reaching the next steps now with ideas finally coming together or a heightened sense of urgency around any slow progressions. As full moon energy tends to illuminate what we have yet to address in our lives emotionally, we will be reaping the work we have put in, or lack thereof, for our betterment thus far. In conjunction with the Autumn Equinox, darker aspects of the inner Self that continue to go unfaced will cause uneasiness for us as long as not accepted and integrated into our being with balance. “Equinox” means equal night, referring to the equal parts of day and night that occur on the first day of the fall season.

Pisces lunar energy is fantastic and employs our imaginative and intuitive nature. The need to seek spiritual enhancement is increased, especially for those born with the moon in Pisces. Although this energy will linger, internal gears will soon be shifted into a more youthful nature. Aries energy carries a sense of foolish innocence that benefits our adventurous spirits when embarking on something new. Anxiousness around the mystery of new beginnings and next phases can grant us the enthusiasm that drives us forward. However, if we have failed to heal the pain from the past, that anxiety can quickly turn on us accompanied by maniacal thoughts of “what if?”.

The key now is trust. Caution is useful as long as we are not erring on the side of paranoia. Discern who are true friends and supporters in your corner and allow them to assist you in your goal-reaching. Intuition and discernment, like other skills, will become refined when used regularly, starting with self-trust. Logic is important but much like The Fool of tarot, optimism is critical. Pursue what excites you and soak in the journey! In the words of Gary Vaynerchuck, “Passion is an unmatech fuel.”

Using the Virgo New Moon Vibes for Wellness

It is likely you have already been experiencing effects of the onsetting new moon in Virgo this month. The zodiacal Virgo is typically represented by the image of a female virgin sometimes wearing or handling plant life. As one of the three earth signs, Virgo energy encourages us to embrace nature and to get in touch with our nurturing side. Virgo is ruled by the planet Mercury which is associated with how we communicate and relate to others. When harnessed successfully, Virgo energy also helps us become more mindful of how we take care of our mental and physical bodies.

Since new moons are an opportunity to make changes in our lives, it would serve us well to start building new habits to establish the life that each of us desires. Here are a few ways we can use utilize the new moon in Virgo energy for creating a healthy lifestyle:

1. BEGIN A FAST

As the Virgo zodiac corresponds with gut health and the digestive system, this would be a great time to begin a cleanse. Fasting has been scientifically proven to improve physical stamina and mental clarity. Spiritual leaders over history embarked on long meditative journies in which they limited their substance intake to strictly water, or even nothing at all. Of course, these are extreme. However, there are other cleansing diet options that are also beneficial to overall health; it’s all about what works best for you!

I have recently begun a fast myself in which I primarily consume fruits and vegetables in smoothie form. The intake of natural foods is in proper alignment with the current energy as Virgo corresponds with the earth element. I allow myself one solid meal a day along with one cup of tea or coffee and a light snack (usually a handful of almonds or celery with hummus). Just after one week, I have experienced a number of changes including more energy throughout my day, deeper meditation, and even some weight loss.

2. DE-CLUTTER

The virgin represents purity and simplicity. It is likely that all that may have accumulated with summer fun crossing over with “back-to-school” vibes, there could be some disorder and/or a sense of anxiety. This new moon may be urging you to clear out the things you no longer need in order to create space for the things you could use. Give away that 10-year-old blouse in the back of your closet that you never wear, scrapbook those photos using most of the space in your camera phone, file those receipts that you’ll need for tax session.

My husband and I purchased several pieces of art over the last few years that have been sitting around unframed until recently. I finally decided to put my foot down and find a place for them. Now that they are up, my home feels tidier and, virtually, more complete which brings me peace as I am a firm believer that my home space is a reflection of me.

3. PAY IT FORWARD

If you have considered participating in community service, now is a good time to roll up your sleeves! Get into that mindset of selflessness. This contribution can be something as huge as building a home in for those victimized by a natural disaster and feeding the homeless, or as small as treating your co-worker to lunch or giving your spouse a foot rub at the end of a long day. Like the virgin, give the best parts of yourself without expecting anything in return. Whether or not you believe in karma, you may notice it pay off for you in one way or another, be it someone returning the favor or simply a boost in how you feel about yourself. Helping others does well for your mental health!

Have you noticed some changes in your thoughts and feelings with this new moon energy? What are some ways you are using it to better yourself? Share in the comments below! Namaste.

 

Reacquainted with Wanderlust

My mother heavily ingrained the love for travel in me. She dragged me across the states for vacations and events. It helped that I had family all of the country growing up which allowed me to become familiar with different ways of life and various things to explore and participate in. In fact, I found that it felt quite unnatural to not have places to go or something to do for extended periods of time after I moved to Missouri and set on the path of adulthood. I did get to travel on a rare occasion but certain circumstances made the experiences less than what it could have been. However, my most recent trip sparked something inside of me I almost forgot was there.

Roughly a month ago, I was attending a family reunion for my mother’s father’s side. The trip began with a flight to Los Angeles, my hometown, where my husband and I stayed overnight at my grandparents’ home. The following morning, I and 6 other family members took a road trip to Las Vegas, where the official family reunion was held. On the way, I got to see the sunrise over the desert mountains. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for mountains which I appreciate more now that I am no longer around them on a daily basis. There’s something about them that almost creates a spiritual experience for me when I see them. It felt near heavenly being out on the open road surrounded by nature and good company.

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In spite of the normal familial drama and the angst that happens when you travel with a group of people between the ages of 11 to 88, I really enjoyed the best of what the trip had to offer.

My folks used to have a timeshare in Las Vegas years ago so I’ve been there many times growing up. However, my immediate family is most certainly composed of creatures of habit so we were likely to do the same things every time we went. To be honest, I’m not terribly different on my own, however, this time I decided to add a twist to my beloved activities. I visited the rides atop the Stratosphere Hotel & Casino but I followed it with a really strong beverage from Fat Tuesday and placed a bet on a sports team with my husband for the first time. I walked around the Paris Hotel but rode the Eiffel Tower in the heat of the day when I could see the day parties and hear the music blasting. My husband and I love Asian cuisine and found ourselves thrilled when we had some of the best Asian fusion food at Yong Kang Street Dumpling & Noodle House afterward. I was reminded of how much I love to go and do and help others do the same!

In result, I have decided to share more of my travel and outing experiences, both local and beyond. Readers also now have access to some great travel and attraction deals on my Out & About travel site. I welcome all to share their booking experiences in the comment section and, who knows, maybe I will see you out and about!

Let Your “Lawrences” Go

If you are an avid watcher of the HBO show “Insecure” like I am, you have probably heard about the “Bring Back Lawrence” Petition. As it turns out, fans really took to the character Lawrence, ex-boyfriend of the main character Issa Dee, played by actor Jay Ellis. He is a staple in the first two seasons but after hearing he would not be in the third, some of the audience decided to take action. And honestly, after very little thought, for me, it made perfect sense that Lawrence would not be present at this point in the story.

If you have not seen the show, beware of upcoming spoilers. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

The second season of Insecure was riddled with chaos as Issa and Lawrence attempted to  recover from a dysfunctional relationship that eventually lead to Issa’s infidelity in season one. After many mistakes on both parts, they eventually ended up facing each other and having the “grown-up” talk they should have had in the first place. The apologies were well-given and heartfelt, so much so that fans expressed their desperation for the couple to reconcile. However, while it seemed as though all that needed to be said was said and all was forgiven, they parted ways and Issa went on to begin a new chapter in her life.

It seems obvious to me that when friendship is no longer an option, this is the very best way for mature adults to move on, but apparently many others did not seem to have the same sentiment. This got me to thinking, “Is this why there are so many screwed up relationships these days?” My husband and I had a long and heated debated about holding on to things sparked by our disagreement on whether Lawrence should stay and it’s amazing how much deeper of an topic this turned out to be. I discuss it in more in the video below from my YouTube channel.

I can think of so many circumstances in which issues could have been resolved if only the people involved had the courage or the know-how to let go. To be fair, this sort of behavior is often encouraged in today’s techno-world in which it’s pretty easy to stalk profiles and and read into videos and text messages. Hell, “It’s Complicated” is a common enough theme among relationships for Facebook to even recognize it as an actual status option. But keep in mind, it is an option.

But what if we learned to truly move on and cut people off? This does not have to be negative although often times it is difficult. But, would it not be worth it to be free? Why continue to chance staying stuck on the same chapter when you can simply turn the page? Or in this case, enter a new “season”. You never know, you may just make room for for an unexpected return at a better time.