Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Did some one say "Suicide?"

I am continually surprised when I hear of a wildly successful, seemingly-happy-and-put-together person overdosing or committing suicide. The news is alarming, sad and really puts things into perspective.

Money, fame, and "having it all" does not necessarily mean that someone has peace, joy, love and fulfillment. And though some may appear to be smiling and laughing, this does not necessarily mean it's real, authentic or lasting.

It's so important we spend the time to see what's inside, not just judge a book by its cover. The people we interact with may be struggling with something we have no idea about. This is why it's so vital we extend kindness and compassion wherever we go. 

So often, brilliant, intelligent, empathic and sensitive people are suffering behind closed doors. Even "successful" people that seem to have everything you could possibly ever want could be missing out on life's great (priceless but free) treasures. And at times, the pressure of keeping up with their reputation, responsibilities and role in life can be downright overwhelming.  This is something we may neglect to recognize; we see the results of their hard work and dedication but rarely do we realize the time, energy and sacrifices that go into creating and manifesting their success...and maintaining it.

Hearing the news of a popular wellness professional passing in March, concluded to be suicide, really was an eye-opener for me. A reminder that we are all in this together, we are all one, we are all connected, and we all have ups and downs. No matter what our title, how large our bank accounts, or how popular or famous we are. Suffering does not judge and it is not biased. It can come in many forms, and it can knock on anyone and everyone's door. It's the flow of life... up, down, pain, bliss, up, down, pain, bliss... Like waves in the ocean, they each come and go. 

When we begin to attach to pain and suffering, and the thoughts in our mind, we can create an imbalance and disrupt the flow. This is where many get stuck and ultimately end up in despair. Our "problems" seem insurmountable and appear to far outweigh the calm, peace and quiet moments where we can enjoy life. Anxiety, depression, sadness, chronic pain, insomnia, illness and apathy can all take over and bring us to our knees. Some of the strongest people suffer from these ailments, and often times no one even notices because we are so caught up in appearances: the covers of the book. 

Ask yourself, do you spend the time reading the inside pages? Do you take the time to try to understand what life may be like for someone else? Or do you make snapshot judgments? 

It's easy to judge and condemn someone for being short or snippy with you. But the real question is, why are they irritable? Perhaps they are going through something difficult right now. Maybe they feel overwhelmed and alone. I am sure you can relate; we've all been there at one point or another.  We must remember that nothing is ever personal and whatever people say or do is a direct reflection of their own inner state of being. It's like a barometer. We can read what is going on for them by how they are acting towards us. The barometer indicates whether they are acting out of love, or acting out, seeking out love. 

Suicide may be an often-overlooked or swept-under-the-rug topic. It's also highly controversial. It makes some people uncomfortable. Others are in denial about it. Sometimes, we feel guilty when we think about someone committing suicide. Sometimes, we get angry. Some people are suicidal and understand this very delicate, confusing topic all too well and personally. No matter what though... it's real. And according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on average, there are 121 suicides a day.  

Think about that number.  Think about all the people you know, and imagine that 121 of them died today. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States (according to AFSP), affecting over 44,000 Americans each year. 

Sadly, the AFSP estimates "the numbers to be higher. Stigma surrounding suicide leads to underreporting, and data collection methods critical to suicide prevention need to be improved." 

Imagine that. Stigma around suffering. Stigma surrounding something so real, so ever-present and something that affects millions of people. According to Scientific American, 1 in 6 Americans Takes a Psychiatric Drug. Antidepressants were most common, followed by anxiety relievers and antipsychotics. We are learning to numb our symptoms, rather than address the underlying issues. We numb our pain, and because of certain stereotypes or judgments, we carry on mostly silent. Mostly alone. How unnecessary is that?

So, for every 6 people you see today, imagine that at least one of them is suffering and trying to compensate and function by taking a prescription drug. Maybe that someone is you. 

Remember, we are all on this ride together. We share this adventure called life. And what one person does affects the next... so on and so forth.

So, what can we do? For starters, we can practice healthy habits and make healthy lifestyle choices. The healthier and happier we are, the better we can help others.  Mindfulness, meditation, exercise, clean eating, sleeping and resting are all obviously-beneficial practices. 

We can be consciously aware that we are all united and connected, and treat others with kindness, love and respect. What we give out comes back to us. Extend love, receive love, and the ripple effect reaches many more. Be open minded and curb judgments wherever possible. You are not the other person, so you cannot really say with certainty what is right, wrong, true or false about them, or for them and their lives. Remember, that your judgment and negativity is a direct reflection of what is going on inside of you. Spend some time reflecting on how you can clean house. 

If you are seriously struggling, there are people out there willing to help. We are never doomed or alone, even when we feel like we are. It takes courage to seek out help, guidance or support. But the benefits far out weigh the risks. 

We cannot continue as a society to quiet, dismiss or condemn our hurting people. We cannot continue to numb our pain, to silence our inner guidance and the voice within us that says something is not right. The discord we feel is an indication that we are not living authentically and in alignment with our true Essence which is love and light. We are resisting, not accepting, hiding, censoring, changing, pushing, conforming in an effort to fit in or out of fear, conditioning and self-limiting beliefs... at the expense of our own joy. At the expense of our own lives.

We did not incarnate to become zombies walking around high on drugs, low on life. We came to be brilliant co-creators, high on life. This madness dims our sparkle, steals our zest for life and really creates a tremendous amount of pain, suffering and disease in our precious people. 

We deserve joy, peace, love and fulfillment. It's our birthright. It's natural to us, and for us. But it's an inside job. And unfortunately, most of us are not trained in real life-skills such as healthy emotional habits, management and spirituality. This doesn't make it impossible, it's available to everyone. It just makes it new to some. And with anything new, there may be some discomfort or growing pains. Just like it took time to become hurt, it may take some time to heal. But, as long as you are still breathing, there is still hope. 

Extend a hand today... to someone else, for yourself. But walk around with eyes wide open, seeing the aforementioned numbers as a wake up call that we must come together.  Every single person that wakes up to Love benefits the whole of mankind, Mother Earth and her creatures. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A candid Father's Day reflection...

My relationship with men is just about as expansive and well-rounded as you can get... 

I have loved them, hated them, respected them, minimized them, wanted to be them, shunned them, liked them, and been incredibly intrigued by them. They have been my best friends, enemies, I have trusted them and I have majorly distrusted them. They have been victim of my shit, and I have been at the hand of their abuse. They have hurt me, they have loved me, and I have done both to them. I've had many more male friends and relationships than I ever have had with women. And I have had more ups and downs and all-arounds (rollercoaster rides) with men than with women. By far. 

As a child, I adored my father with every fiber of my being. And I was the center of his world. But there was some conflict there. I was loved so dearly, given anything and everything I ever wanted, but the love felt very conditional in ways. I believed I was to be a certain way, or else I was not treated with love. I was reprimanded. Being just a child, I didn't understand fear, or worldly things or lofty concepts yet, and I was not yet jaded. But as a result of this disconnection to true love and light, the disconnect I could feel between others and their divine self, I began to set up a false belief system I carried everywhere I went that I was not good enough, that I was only loved when conditions were met, that I was able to be pushed aside or victimized for being myself.  That being me was fundamentally flawed. And this continued and escalated into my teen years where my relationship with my father began to take a turn for the worse. We were at odds. I was depressed.  I was rebellious. There was (real) love lacking and fear/ego had gone haywire. (Of course underneath it all, we loved each other but we did not know how to deal with the reflection the other person held up for us.)

So, I turned to other men for attention and love. From teens to twenties, I dated more men than I can count and liked a wide variety of them. Most "relationships" didn't last very long. Just weeks, really. And I was on to the next one. I was unfaithful, moving on to someone else almost instantly. Often times, before the current fling even knew I had moved on (mentally and emotionally and physically). 

Then, suddenly, there reached a period of time where I became wildly monogamous. And this pattern continued into my thirties. I would find one man, devote my all, and never pass another glance at any other men. A year and a half there, a 6 year relationship into marriage here, another two year relationship there.... and lastly, a two and a half year relationship that brings us to the present. 

Not much has changed. 

This love/hate, push/pull thing has been going on for as long as I can remember. And at the end of it all, I always find myself questioning why I am where I am. Why doesn't love last? I end up broken hearted, disappointed, seeking, sulking, hurting, angry and questioning so many things about myself, others and life. 

It comes as no surprise, I bet, that I spent 90 days at the onset of my last relationship asking questions, finding answers and really devoting the time to some serious digging. The result was a book I wrote about Love. The (Real) Love Experiment: Explore Love, Relationships & The Self was born. It helped me in ways I didn't know possible and it has helped many others. But still, after the book was finished, my life took a turn I wasn't expecting. And I was slammed with all the ups and downs that I had endured my life-long, and in many ways harder than before. I do have other books brewing, but this time of self-reflection and living the words in my first book have brought me here in this moment. This journey is one that I began fully committed to, and remain today. 

Despite my falls, despite my failures and setbacks, despite the pain and anguish I felt on many days, I continue on. And the greatest lesson I continually take from this profound, albeit sometimes exhausting, journey is this...

Our relationships are a reflection of our inner state. 

As I repeated many times over in the book, relationships are our greatest mirrors and teachers. They show us where we are at, what we need to learn, what we need to let go or of heal, and which direction to go next. Relationships are no coincidence. The people in our lives are there for a reason. As Gabbie Bernstein puts it so perfectly, "the world is your classroom and other people are your assignments." 

We must  truly honor the people in our lives. They show up when and where we need them, if nothing more than to show us our point of attraction (our own energy). But often times, they come with many more gifts than that... even when the gifts come as challenges, obstacles, discord, disagreement, pain and such. 

My weeble-wobble relationship with men is indicative of the flux going on internally. It highlights my own self-worth issues, lack of confidence, feelings of instability, seeking external validation, feeling unappreciated or fundamentally not good enough, wrong or unlovable. 

While relationships highlight all of our "shit," our only answer is love, presence and self-fulfillment.  

I learned that we must give ourselves what we seek from others.  No man could love me enough or put me on a pedestal high enough (but thanks for trying!) to keep me feeling lovable, good enough or fulfilled. [and on the flip side of the same coin, I had to learn that my value is not determined by anyone else's opinions or actions] That was my job. And I wasn't very successful at it because of the old, non-serving stories and self-limiting beliefs I was carrying around (and still do to a degree). 

If I am seeking out love and acceptance from some one else, validation or to feel important, that means I am not doing the housework and homework. I must find self-love, acceptance and feel good enough on my own. 

How do we do that? We can begin by forgiving ourselves and others. By realizing that we always do the best we can with the resources we have and sometimes we just don't know any better. If we did, we would do better. Forgive.  Accept. And be gentle with yourself. We are perfect, divine creatures. We are innocent at our core. And as Marianne Williamson says, "Everything we do is either an act of love or a cry for help (for love)." 

Even our imperfections are a perfect match for our life purpose and path. All puzzle pieces that create the whole. We are whole already. We do not need anything outside of ourself to be whole or lovable. No one can plug up our holes; only we can fill our own voids by realizing our true essence. By living authentically, honestly and humbly. By being grateful. Gratitude opens the door to so much positive experience and abundance. We are rich; our lives are full of love. We are love. It's our true essence. 

Begin to heal the pain from the past by building a state of awareness and presence today. Even if you begin with just one minute a day, being present and aware (amplified by a meditation practice) brings you to the here and Now where everything - including you - is perfect and at peace. You are not your past. It does not define you. And the things from your past do not exist today. You may be carrying them with you and keeping them alive, but it is all an illusion. It's ok to begin to let go... to heal the wounds... to find your true being, your inner child staring at you, waiting for you to return to yourself. Patient, loving, kind and compassionate. He/she is always there. Ready to take this adventure with you.

Don't judge or punish others for their role in your life; thank them for bringing things to light for you. For showing you what you want, don't want, need, desire, have to heal, change or grow into. Thank them for sharing this intense journey with you, and no matter how it ended, if it ended, know that there were so many gifts left with you both, if you are ready and choose to see it as such. 

Byron Katie says, "All the advice you ever gave your partner is for you to hear." And what does this mean? There's a reason that things bother you, bug you, drive you mad, hurt you, scare you or upset you. And none of it has anything to do with the other person. It's all about you. Your shadow self, the part you deny, and the pain you carry with you from the past to the present. We do not see people as they are, we see them as we are. Always.  

I'm not quite sure why men have played the role they have in my life, from a soul-standpoint. But I know it's for a reason. Or many reasons. And I know it has already birthed many miracles in my life and pushed me to become who I am today, which is closer to who I am meant to be and why I came here in the first place. The ups and downs have only been a very clear reflection of my own inner state. I am ready to begin to truly love and honor men, and most importantly, myself. And I am ready to begin this next chapter, to continue the journey to peace, love, joy and fulfillment. And sharing it with the World Wide Web (the divine web of interconnected beings, that is). 

And so today... I would like to honor all of the men in my life, whether past, present or future. Thank you for the role you have played in making me who I am today. For the lessons you have taught me and continue to teach me. Forgive me for the pain I may have ignited within you. Thank you for the love you have given me, for the love I have felt in my own heart. Thank you for showing up as my earthly assignments. Thank you for sharing this magnificent, giant classroom with me. There is no greater honor. 

In the words of Namaste...

My soul honors your soul. 
I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides.
I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me.
In sharing these things, we are united. We are the same. 
We are one.

Happy Father's Day 2017.