Suffering & Letting Go

When I am suffering, and acting like someone who suffers does, I like to remind myself that suffering hurts, and when I am in pain, it’s like talking to a 3-year-old who didn’t get the toy they wanted. When I put it into perspective like this, it almost seems easy to navigate and the way I would talk to a 3-year-old needs to be the way I would talk to myself. With kindness, understanding, and a reminder that there will always be more “toys” and some stay and some go. A lesson of letting go is universal and timeless. No matter what age we are at.

If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace. – Ajahn Chah

Photo credit: http://www.thebridgemaker.com

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Poem: Cosmic Millionaires

What I get from this poem by Deelia is that trying to get others to understand your own journey and what you have been through is not fully possible and not the point. You know what you have been through, and you understand it as best as you can. To have someone understand even a glimpse of your journey is special and makes you feel like a cosmic millionaire. Hum. What do you think of this poem? What do you get from it? Thanks for the poem Deelia. It is thought-provoking.

SOUL FIELDS

Those who
have
dug
deep,
may never
be able to
explain
where
they´ve
been.

And
there is
no need to,
their own
souls
know,
and that´s
enough.

And not
everything
needs to
be understood,
there are
space giving
people
as such.

Everybody
is doing
their
thing
to the
best of
their
current
ability.

To be
understood
by a
glimpse
is then a gift
like being
a cosmic
millionaire.

Basically
that´s what
we all are.

– Deelia ©

Image: wallpaperswide.com / John Woo

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The Pursuit of Happiness

The pursuit of happiness is what everyone wants. Part of happiness is feeling that you have some control over your life and your destiny. The need to control is very real. Yet as the post below from The Anonymous Stoic explains, some things in life we do not have control over, and the only thing we do have control over is the way we respond to it. This is true, but what I have found is you can never truly anticipate what life is going to toss and you and when. In retrospect, we can often say I could have or should have responded to something different, but in the heat of the moment, it can be a different story.

Happiness and freedom come from a clear understanding of one thing: Some things in life are within our control and some things are not. It is only after you have faced this fundamental rule and learned what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer harmony are possible. Opinions, values, beliefs, desires, and dislikes, are rightly our concerns because they directly concern us. We always have a choice about the content and character of our inner lives.

via The Pursuit of Happiness — The Anonymous Stoic

The Reality of today’s Modern Women Tribe

d66c3753b72767d2915ad5f9bd56dffbIt seems that everywhere I turn women are talking about their tribe, and there are photos of women sitting in a circle in beautiful dresses, with flowers in their hair, and they all look like they have created the perfect harmony with each other. They all see each other’s light and bring out the best in each other. This is an image that has been burned into my mind over and over again. It makes my heart jump for joy with a solid yes! YES, this is exactly what the world needs. Women sitting in a circle, hearing/seeing each other, collaborating and working to raise the feminine power in this world and do it with grace and beauty. All while dancing barefoot under the stars, howling at the moon and running off into the fields with flowers in our hair and sunkissed skin.

I am completely sold on this idea. I have fallen for it hook, line and sinker. It has become one of my most cherished goals over this past decade, and what drives me to connect with other women and to be open-hearted and truly be there for my new found sisters.

The reality that I have experienced, I will compare it to someone learning how to run a marathon or a long race, when you have never run before. Learning to run long distances takes time and determination. Everyone that runs a race can see themselves crossing the finish line and feeling the pride and sense of accomplishment once they do. Those watching on the sidelines cheer them on as they cross the finish line and some are so inspired by watching someone run a marathon, that they decide to start running themselves.

When I see a group of women laughing and truly connecting, and truly being there for each other, it fuels me to want to create the same thing for myself. Women really do need other women in their life, and only a group of female friends can give you the feminine support that we all need. Women get women. We understand how our brains work, and the way we feel the world can be so intense that we often find ourselves at a lost trying to explain to our male friends/partners how we feel. I have learned a long time ago not to turn my man into a female friend. He can try to relate as much as he can, but no one will truly get you like another woman. Especially one that is diving into her soul and truly wants to create a different reality than the one our mothers had.

The reality of creating a solid female tribe in today’s world is it comes with a lot of work, just like training for a marathon. When you allow other women to see your shadow side, and really get into your heart, and vice versa, you get to experience deep wounding that takes place that requires healing. Supporting another woman while she is deeply triggered is one of the most healing and challenging aspects of getting close in a female tribe. Especially if she is triggered by you, or you are triggered by her. It takes a woman who can listen deeply, and feel another woman’s pain deeply and recognize that is real for her. This is extremely harder then it sounds, much harder in practice than in theory. It is important that the woman who is suffering deeply, go to the woman she is experiencing suffering with. Work with her directly. The old paradigm way is to not be direct with the person you are experiencing pain with and report the pain to others instead. Whether the woman realizes it or not, this makes the situation worse more often than not. It can also be seen as triangulation. Teal Swan has a really useful video on Triangulation that really helped me see what it is, and how to stop it. Triangulation is also a form of gossip (I see gossip as social junk food) which I also see as dark energy as the person who is hearing it will have a filter over their eyes about the person they hear the gossip about.

Learning to stop triangulation or gossip has to stop with the person who is hearing it. If someone is triangulating another person, it usually with the intent to hurt the other person. A person who wants to resolve the conflict can talk to others about it, but it’s the intention of why they are doing which makes a major difference here. Are they really looking for another perspective before they approach this person, or are they trying to get you to side with them? This can make or break a relationship and it can make or break a tribe of women.

Once trust is broken, the tribe falls apart. Trust is the backbone of a solid tribe.

Women have a deep lack of trust with each other when they decide to triangulate. And it’s not their fault, as its coming from a place of fear and they are fearful of their own triggers and want to run away from them. But it’s important to lean into the fear, learn from it and resolve what is happening on a subconscious level or it will keep repeating itself over and over again.

I feel we are currently living in a world that is selling this idea of the perfect tribe of women because it’s a wonderful idea and stems from our ancestors. However, the reality from what I have experienced is a different story. There is a lot of hurt and pain and struggle to learn to trust. Just like learning how to run a mile when you have never run before, it’s uncomfortable and takes determination to be able to complete 26 miles someday. It could be a long process.

On some level, I hope that it is possible to have a woman tribe. And I have some amazing friends from doing this work and I trust them because of the way they handle conflict. I can trust that if they are triggered by me, they will come to me. They trust me to listen and to honor how they feel and they do the same with me.

It seems that the only way to have a woman tribe that is solid is if every member of the tribe as a chance to resolve conflict with each individual woman in the group. The tribe is only as strong as the individual members of the group. Everyone has to want it, and everyone has to work for it. I dislike conflict and will self sacrifice myself at times to prevent it, but that in itself is conflict.  To have conflict, you need to spend enough time with each woman to feel safe to bring conflict up. This takes time, energy, and this is not something everyone wants to give or has.

It’s not easy. Not at all. And this is why when other women see photos of my woman tribe, I have been questioned before with “Are you guys for real?” Now that I have completely completed a full experience of being in a modern day woman tribe, I can honestly say yes it was real and no it was not. It was a dream we were trying to create, but it recently fell apart.

Now when I look at inviting women into my inner circle, the first thing I will look for is how they resolved conflict with people in their life. Are they gossiping out their previous friends? Are they putting down their previous lovers constantly? Are they quick to cut people out of their life? These are red flags, and I will graciously love her from a distance and give my attention elsewhere.

I do believe in women and I need and want them in my life. But I wonder if it is possible for a woman tribe to exist in these modern days? I am starting to feel that selling this idea to women, and selling it to ourselves is not something worth seeking out or *forcing* anymore. It takes a lot of time and energy to get close to even a few friends as an adult. So a tribe doesn’t *currently* seem as realistic to me anymore, but I feel that once I learn how to navigate the wild world of the modern woman tribe, and connect with other women who get it, it may be possible. I will hold space for it in my heart.

 

#Me Too Movement and Boundaries

Boundaries.

The first time I really heard this word when defined to personal space was about 6 years ago from my trusted counselor. Boundaries were not something I talked about much until then, and now it’s a word that passes by my lips several times a week. I am fascinated by personal boundaries and how they are all so unique. Boundaries can expand and contract often and depending on who we are with they change drastically. This is what makes it confusing to know what your boundaries are, and what others believe in. As it can be a process to discover what your boundaries are, and that takes self-awareness and experience.

When it comes to sexual assault/rape/sexual misconduct it takes boundaries to another level where sharing body fluids, and DNA can literally change someone’s life, destroy their life, and or create a new life.

For the most part, I feel like most of us are intelligent, empathic people who realize the consequences of having sex with someone. But there are plenty of us that feel the consequences are not important and have little respect for their own bodies, and therefore have no respect for others.

It ultimately comes down to self-respect. You cannot give respect to anyone else if you don’t respect yourself. Pushing yourself onto someone else might become the new normal for some people, and perhaps the thrill is so intoxicating and their lack of respect for their own wellbeing is so low that it becomes something to seek out.

People often convince themselves that anything they are doing is needed or wanted and will do anything to make themselves look good. This is where rape culture and victim blaming comes into play.

Right now there is a lot of #MeToo stories, and people coming up talking about things that have recently happened to them or happened decades ago. It feels really good to see people speaking from their truth and standing up for their own boundaries. If we don’t say something, the boundaries will keep being crossed and it would appear that its okay to do so.

It can be challenging to verbally express your boundaries to people, but it absolutely needs to become commonplace. It’s so easy when it comes to taking off your shoes in someone’s house, it’s really easy for the host to ask the guests to take off their shoes before coming in. So when it comes to setting boundaries about personal space, it *should* be just as easy, but usually, it’s not.

The #MeToo movement is a symptom of nonverbal communication that is not working. It’s also a symptom of boundaries pushers who are used to dominating others on a regular basis. They will seek out those that appear unable to stand up for themselves, which could be someone intoxicated, someone overly emotional, someone by themselves late at night, or an obvious power difference in social status.

The only way to change this is for the powerless people to gain power by speaking out against their perpetrators. I feel that powerless people are just as dangerous as powerful people. However, asking someone to speak up against their perpetrators is a big jump into boundary setting. Its like asking someone to run a marathon who has can hardly run a mile. So it starts with setting boundaries and keeping to them on smaller levels. It needs to become a practice, and part of daily life so if something epic happens such as sexual assault, the victim has the confidence to stand up for themselves.

The little ways I have been working on setting boundaries with people are stating what is important to me. Some things that are important to be are that my inner circle of friends know its absolutely not okay to have a romantic relationship with one of my ex-boyfriends and I honor them in the same way. That is a boundary I will not cross as I see extremely negative consequences with my relationship with my friend. It’s not worth the risk to find out. Another boundary of mine is that I can’t allow people into my inner circle that do not have the ability to listen deeply and put their phone away while we are talking. I feel this is an obvious one, but it’s not always. I run a business, and I need to check my phone often, but not while I am in a conversation with someone. My time is valuable, and so is yours. We are all busy, so let’s make the most out of personal time together. If not, I would rather spend time with people that value me and what I have to say.

The point is that we all have needs/wants and we deserve to ask for those. Its good to value yourself, and state what is important to you. I have found you will attract people that have the similar boundaries as you and its a recipe for a wonderful relationship.

When it comes to your body and sex, I have found that talking about boundaries with your body are not common. There is a lot of unspoken assumptions that lead to unwanted advances and consequences.

When someone is in a dangerous situation such as sexual assault they usually respond to it in one of four ways: Fighting, Freezing, Flighting or Fawning (according to a book I read years ago called “Complex PTSD” by Pete Walker”). It seems that if a victim fights back or tries to leave (flighting) out of the situation that is a normal response to most. But if the victim freezes (dissociation and unable to move) or fawns (which is basically trying to admire the predator so they can prevent more harm) that the victim *must* have wanted it.

The best thing to do is to prevent your boundaries from being crossed in the first place, but if that is unsuccessful you need to state they were crossed or the perpetrator will continue to do it again to you, or to someone else.

I applaud everyone who is standing up for themselves. I appreciate that the world is shifting. We are intelligent. We know how to talk and think and process information. Yet emotional intelligence seems to be a new concept and it is just as important as book smarts.

I am glad I have invested in years of counseling. About 13 years. It prepares me for life and gives me the tools to know how to handle most situations. For anyone that is new to counseling, I strongly suggest you start doing it. Think of it as a brain scrub or personal training for your mind. It works! It can be a process to find your perfect counselor, but even the counselors I have gone to once have given me valuable information.

My dream is to live in a world where we stop adding new stories to the #metoo movement and start aggressive verbal boundary setting and stop passive-aggressive communication. I have a feeling we are on our way. I am a hopeful human, I see a lot of progress and this post is another drop in the bucket of hopefully adding to the progress.

 

 

 

 

 

Selecting My Photography Teacher Wisely

Over the years, I have completed 65 college credits. Most of the credits go towards my general’s degree and some that are not accredited that went towards skills and certifications that I wanted to get. I am paying for college as I go, and this definitely slows down the process. I am extremely glad I have done this as my debt for school is rather low which adds to my overall wellbeing.

Every class I have taken has helped me. There is not one course that was just a piece of paper. In fact, when people say that education is just a piece of paper, I feel they have not realized how it *does* change your subconsciousness whether you are aware of it or not. It also changes the way you write, read, think, and helps you become a better learner. It also helps to keep you up on technology as most classes today are a hybrid of an in-person/online, and of course it keeps your brain and mind working a bit better.

I have learned that there are certain teachers that don’t work for me and I will only take from them if there is no other option. I have suffered through a few classes that made the learning experience dreadful. I could have, and should have found a different teacher instead of forcing myself to put up with it. But that takes experience and self-awareness and a little extra work to find a new class.

I will get to this point of this post now. This past week I signed up for a photography class. I am very excited to take this course and tried to sign up for it last semester but every class that was available was already filled up. Clearly, this class is very popular! So this term, I signed up early to make sure I got in.

This is the first semester I have taken only one class and I am taking a class that I consider fun. This semester should be really enjoyable, with minimal stress and it gives me a chance to explore the exciting world of photography without feeling rushed to get my homework done for other classes.

After much anticipation, I head to my first photography class where I was quickly disappointed in the teacher. He made his grand entrance as we were standing in the hallway 5 minutes after the class should have started. He could have and should have communicated with us that the classroom had changed. He had every opportunity to let us know what was going on. All of us stood outside of the classroom in confusion wondering what was going on.

He did not apologize for being late and quickly blames the classroom change on technology doing the bidding. Sigh. This is already starting off bad.

He then takes his time to unpack all of his gear, as we watch him waiting for him to lead the class. He starts an unneeded powerpoint and starts going over his photography career with a low monotone voice which was hard to hear even in a small room. The power point shows some of the highlights of his 30-year career, and this went on for 30 minutes with him making rambling comments how the college contacted him to teach 12 years ago but it did not pay enough for him at that time. But now he reluctantly decided to take the teaching job as in his own words “No one will hire him for photography work because he is not in the *in crowd* anymore”.

Awe I see! You don’t want to be here. You think you are above teaching. Yet no one will hire you for photography work because you are not *cool* enough? Wow. I am speechless.

I could feel my energy starting to disappear. I also noticed many of the students were on their cell phones, and I was oddly tempted to check my Instagram/facebook as well – which I rarely do in class. I was so drained and bored as we were not talking about anything stimulating.

Another 30 minutes goes by and we are still on page 3 of the powerpoint, and we are slowly going over the syllabus for the class as he keeps getting distracted, along with him making jokes that when we save money on downloading the book for class instead of buying the book, we can send the money we save directly to him instead. Cash preferred of course.

Not funny.

Not professional.

It felt like he was making hint after hint how he is not making enough to teach this class, and would rather not be doing it.

I decided to leave the class after we were given a 5-minute break. I drove home and immediately dropped the course. This came with feelings of frustration and defeat. My spirit had been crushed. How can someone make a stimulating subject like photography feel like the most dreadful thing on the planet? Why would a teacher take new photography students and derail them from enjoying taking photos? It became clear to me that this teacher was jaded, and I have learned that unless you absolutely have no choice to change teachers, I will run quickly away from jaded teachers. Their energy is contagious.

I was fortunate enough to find another photography class that would work with my schedule. Score! From the moment he started talking I was drawn in. He was exactly what I was expecting a photography teacher to be like. Full of energy, passion, and excited to teach new students the passion that he loves. We also learned a lot about cameras and camera settings on day 1 and he did not waste time talking about himself for an hour. I was so lite up after class that I had a hard time sleeping that night! This is what I wanted. This is what I wanted to pay for. I am thrilled and my spirit is ignited again!

I am sure most people think a photography class should be a fun course to take. But it all depends on the teacher. And I am grateful I knew this and took the steps to change the teacher I had.

It makes me wonder, how often we suffer from the choices we have made when we have options?

I honestly feel bad for the students taking this other teachers course. But what I have learned from being a student for a while, is you pay the teachers salary by staying in the class. You are voting to keep them as a teacher, and for a teacher that is jaded, it might be better if they stopped teaching for their own wellbeing and the students. Just an idea. I know we all need money, but I would rather take a class from someone that is doing it for the money and for the passion. I am paying for the information and the *motivation* to implement the new skills into my life. 

Our first photography assignment helped us figure out our cameras while in manual mode. All photos must be taken in the manual setting for this class which of course is what I need to learn to become a better photographer.  We had to take of still subjects, moving subjects, change the distance at which we took the photos while setting the Aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance to fit the scene. I took some rather unexciting photos of a pole outside (I am doing my best not to take photos of flowers) and a bit more exciting photos of the flag nearby. Although nothing too impressive yet, I feel accomplished as I am learning so much already. Excited to see where this goes in the next 16 weeks.

Another thing that really stood out to me about this teacher is that he does not use photoshop and if he spends more then a minute editing the photo he deletes it. He wants organic photos. I love this idea! What a wonderful concept in a world where people are editing their photos so much it really changes the quality of the photo. Sometimes people edit their photos so much it looks like a cartoon. It’s nice to know I don’t have to learn photoshop to be a great photographer. Although, I would enjoy learning photoshop and see its value. To each their own.

flag
This flag is beautiful and so were the clouds behind it. This is still a bit blurry and did not capture the colors I wanted. But hey it was my time shooting a moving object with more precision.

 

pole
Eat your heart out! I took about 30 photos of this pole. Here is my *favorite* hah!

 

 

My Block with Public Journaling

I started my blog with the hopes that I would become inspired by the attention of writing, and write more then I was before. But what has happened is I am writing more in private, and feeling block with the online journal. I feel that when I write knowing no one is reading, my flow is easy and my thoughts come out organically. I also do not judge myself for spelling errors or typos which makes the process easier.

Why have an online journal then?  Why write my thoughts out for all to see? I question this, especially as we live in the time of the narcissist when people do things mostly to be *seen* doing whatever they are doing. Do not get me wrong, I absolutely love technology, and am hooked up with the most popular social media hubs such as facebook, twitter, Instagram, Marco Polo, SnapChat and more. But I do question if I am doing things for attention, or because I want to do it anyway?

I can tell you, I love to write. I do it anyway. It has been my lifeforce, my anchoring tool, my ultimate confidant, and the only way I know how to give life to what is in my head and give it meaning and purpose.

My entire life I was worried about having people read my journals, so worried in fact, that I wrote a serious warning in one of my journals giving the reader permission to read one entry, but no more. If the reader decided to read more there would be hell to pay. I believe I was 8 when I wrote this warning in my super private journal. It makes me giggle at myself. How would I actually impose a punishment for someone reading my journals? How would I actually know if they did? I am curious what the punishment would be to an 8-year-old girl? What was hell in my mind? I will never know.

What I realized over my life, is that no one actually read my journals to my knowledge.  I found myself shocked and then disappointed by this initially. Then I found myself leaving my journals out in the open in the hopes that someone would be interested. I have no proof either way, but it appears I have been my own audience.

This was an interesting observation because I realized what I was writing in my journals was not for myself as I was actually writing for other people. I was editing my experience, just in case, someone read my thoughts. Once I realized that I did not have an audience, my journals actually became real and I wrote down my authentic thoughts and experiences, and this is when I really felt the power of writing.

Starting an online journal, or a place where I write my thoughts, I naturally have blocks given my experience with private writing for so long. It makes me curious when the magic of writing could expand or never begin; and ponder what makes a good writer, versus a great one. It seems that writers that write for the extrinsic value and attention of an audience are rarely great, and the writers that write from the heart as if they were dancing alone in the mirror, can be life-changing. Perhaps this is all nonsense I am making up in my head. But it appears that if you could completely unblock yourself and just be authentically you, then the creativity would naturally flow from the heart. But this idea still alludes me still, but I feel it is possible. It has to be a combination of doing it for the intrinsic purpose and the extrinsic purpose. I cannot see how you could separate them if you know you will have an audience.

My head is full of contradictory thoughts, and black and white observations of my self and others. I observe and slightly judge my own experience of choosing to create a blog, and be out in the open. But I admire those that are already doing it and I love that people are out there allowing other into their headspace, and bringing minds and hearts together.

One of my goals in this life is to connect more with people.  I have always had a strong desire to know what other people are thinking my entire life. I am constantly wondering, what is really going on in their mind?  I really want to know. One of the ways I have discovered is through personal journalism written from the heart.

When my mother and father passed away, I was hoping there were journals left behind or anything that would allow me access to their minds. I always wanted to understand my parents more, as they seemed like a mystery to me. But all I found were a few chicken scratches of thoughts and information that they left behind. I was devastated. I still am. I wish I could interview my mother and father and ask them who they were, and what they were thinking.  I am genuinely curious why they choose the life they choose, and not another.

Overall, I am fascinated by all the stories around me. Everyone has a story and its usually rather interesting to learn about others. I have yet to be bored by someone’s story. I think we are all rather interesting, creative and expansive. All of us are.

When I tell people I love to journal and write the response I usually get is that is awesome, followed by a response of admitting that is not something they do, but would like to have the motivation to do. So it appears since I have the motivation to do this, and it comes naturally to me, I get to really dive into this blog experience and see where it goes.

One more thing. Having an audience so far is a lot of fun and now I find it energizing. So here I am today, two years after starting this blog, and now I am finally ready to get over myself and just start blogging.

What is the saying, the only thing that is blocking you from your own path is you? Yeah that fits me well. So I am getting out of my own way, and moving forward. Clearly, I started this blog for a reason. Excited to see what that is.