As far as I was concerned, I believed in God and that was sufficient…

I received my first Bible from my parents as a gift on my 9th birthday. Despite multiple attempts to read it over the years, I always gave up in Genesis around Chapter 35 when it went into all the births and their descendants…’so and so was born who begot this person, and then the next so and so who begot more people and so and so and then they begot like 10 more people who begot like 20 more so and so’s and so on’ – obviously I’m paraphrasing, but it seriously made my head spin and I couldn’t follow any of it, and the fact that I couldn’t even pronounce any of their names made it worse.

The perfectionist, somewhat know-it-all that I was, I decided reading the Bible wasn’t going to be my thing; convinced if I didn’t get it then (at the ripe old age of 9) I’d never get it, so I gave up.

Besides, as far as I was concerned, I believed in God and that was sufficient; I didn’t feel the need to know all the details about him or the history. They were merely stories from my naive point of view and not at all necessary for my to live my life and still be a child of God.

Boy, was I wrong…and a tad arrogant and full of myself, not to mention completely misguided by my own self-righteous views.

Fast forward to 2001 (or 16 years ago), when I started working at a Christian University where I met my pastor friend; who for the next 16 years, tried relentlessly to expose me to the truth (the Word of God), to which I adamantly refused to see or accept. He even bought me a newer version of the Bible (one that he was sure would be much easier to read than the one I got in 1980).  And I was very appreciative and decided I’d finally try to read it again; and then I got to Genesis Chapter 35.

16 years later, on January 1, 2017, I found myself in my basement searching tirelessly for that Bible. I prayed the whole time, “Please Lord, help me find my Bible!” Shortly after my frantic pleas, I finally found it. It was buried underneath a bunch of useless crap and junk inside an old box; the outside was covered in dust and mildew and the musty pages reeked from years of neglect. And in that moment, I was suddenly filled with a combination of joy, relief, and shame; utterly ashamed of myself that I’d disregarded the Holy Book, as if it was nothing more than a book of nursery rhymes, abandoned to a box and subjected to the nasty miserable elements of my damp, dark, scary, useless mess of a basement.

I’m sharing this because my carelessness and disregard of the Holy Bible, was pretty much the same way I treated myself and the life I lived; careless and reckless, doing the same to myself on the inside and out – building layer after layer of dirty, moldy appearances on the outside and a stinky mildew-covered soul on the inside.

‘No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began’ – 1 Corinthians 2:8

I didn’t know all those years that by keeping my Bible hidden, I’d been hiding myself from knowing the wisdom of God. So, in my frantic and desperate state to try and cleanse myself of all the things about me that I was so sick and tired of, I took my moldy Bible and sat down on the bottom step of my basement, and opened it to the musty, smelly pages of Matthew. (with a cup of coffee in one hand, and a lit cigarette in the other).

About an hour later when I got the end of Matthew, I broke down, poured my heart out to God, pleaded for His forgiveness – to cleanse my soul and restore my spirit and make me new again. He washed away all of my sins in that moment and I knew I’d been forgiven and reborn; fully committed to Him and to live the rest of my days for Him.

Not only was my faith restored and my sins forgiven, but my relentless pursuit of Him, to know Him – all of Him, began in that profound moment.

I used to think being saved required some outlandish ceremony, a formal event with meat and cheese trays and pastors and holy water and a special gown for me to wear, something that takes weeks to prepare for; now I know being baptized in the Holy Spirit doesn’t require any of this – it can happen just the same on a dirty basement step with a moldy musty Bible in your lap and a cup of coffee.

-Excerpt from the book Digging for God, to be released late summer 2017.

I Meditated Today!

I think they should make a sticker for this to put on your t-shirt, like the one you get when you vote, except it would say “I Meditated Today!”  But since I don’t have a sticker to wear around and prove I meditated today, I thought I’d write about it.

I don’t know if it’s because I mentioned that I was going on a Personal Growth Journey but haven’t gone anywhere yet or grown at all, so it’s just the universe’s way of punishing me for not following through with what I said I’d do or if the universe is reminding me of my intentions, pushing me to just do it already – even though I’m too tired and I don’t feel like it right now, but life has been particularly overwhelming for me lately.

These were the stickers I needed before I meditated today (I don’t think they make any of these either by the way)

I Moaned and Groaned Today!

I Bitched and Fussed Today!

I Worried About Shit I Can’t Control Today!

I’m thinking those daily accomplishments probably aren’t worthy of a sticker though, so I decided to do something else instead.  Because what I’ve learned recently, is the more I fight it (life) the more it resists. And I’m not a scientist or physicist or whatever it is that studies resistance, but without Googling it (trying really hard to restrain myself right now), I’m pretty sure something’s been proven about that thing that happens when you try to fight against something that’s stronger than you; the harder you fight, the more it resists, or something like that.  Imagine like a little runt bully kid, full of piss and vinegar, getting into a fight with a really big dinosaur.  The runt bully kid starts throwing punches at the dinosaur while the dinosaur presses his giant dinosaur hand against the runt kid’s forehead, keeping the runt bully kid at bay (so he’s really only punching the air) which makes it easier for the dinosaur to multi task, so he’s eating a cookie with his other giant hand, waiting for the runt bully kid to get tired enough to give up.  (I’m the little runt bully kid and the universe is the dinosaur, in case you were wondering).

Anyway, it really doesn’t make any sense to try and fight dinosaurs, or the universe, so I thought I’d try a different approach to life today.  Instead of all the fussing and worrying about all the shit inside my little piece of the universe, I’d submit to it and try to let go of the things out of my control; maybe in return, the universe would compromise with me and agree to share some of its strength.  So I threw a pillow on the floor, fired up an incense stick, plugged in my earbuds, pressed play and started meditating.

The first few minutes were difficult because it’s hard to calm the mind of a little runt bully kid, but eventually I let go and allowed my mind to drift as I was guided closer to a meditative state.  Once I finally got there it was fabulous, like an out of body experience and I wanted to stay there forever. In fact, I’m kind of hooked now.

I didn’t exactly come out of my meditative state feeling like a dinosaur, but I do feel a lot stronger than I did before I meditated.  And I think that deserves a sticker…

I Am Stronger Today!

Decisions, decisions…

I hate making decisions.  In fact, decisions and I go to together about as well as oil and water – we just don’t mix (except the impulsive ones, I do a really good job making those)!

This is what happened the last time I made an impulsive decision…

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It’s probably obvious from the photo, but that’s me inside a tattoo parlor and the guy at the end of the table, he’s the tattoo artist holding a needle.  And if you look closely, you’ll see that he isn’t even touching my leg with the needle yet, so I’m not sure what’s up with the painful expression on my face, other than I’ve decided that’s my decision making face, the one I make before, during, and after every decision that screams…What should I do? What the heck am I doing?  What did I just do? – it looks the same but means something different depending on which stage I’m at in the decision-making process.  

Decisions are very stressful for me. Mostly because of the “I have to make them” part, and also because I suck at making them on my own and so I usually have to rely on other people to help me. And when they’re not available, I depend on traffic lights to tell me what to do – like if the light turns green by the time I count to three, then I should or shouldn’t do it – (whatever it is).  Sometimes the light doesn’t corporate though and I’ll give it another chance to tell me what to do; “Ok, if it turns green by the time I count to six,” and make adjustments until it tells me what I want to hear, just like I’ll go to a bunch of different people until I hear what I want to hear. But even then I still don’t know what to do because by the time I finally find someone to tell me what I wanted them to, it’s been so long since I started asking that I’ve changed my mind and don’t know what I want anymore.  

Which is why I prefer to make impulsive decisions, they’re a lot easier.  Unless of course it’s a decision that has permanent consequences, like getting a tattoo; especially since I have a lot of other issues besides decision-making to deal with, like anxiety and claustrophobia…anxiety-ridden because I didn’t take time to think about what I wanted for a tattoo (not that I had a lot of time to think about it, I actually only had  40 minutes and the only reason I decided to get a tattoo in the first place was because I had some time to kill), and stricken with that claustrophobic feeling people with claustrophobia get when they feel like they can’t get out of something or get something off – which resulted in a very extreme and dramatic anxiety/claustrophobic attack the minute I got home and realized my tattoo was never coming off…EVER!

To make matters worse, because I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into the design, other than knowing I’m a Capricorn and being 99% sure that Capricorn is an Earth sign, I decided the symbol for earth would be a good choice (plus it’s on my ankle, which is close to the Earth, so that made even more sense to me).  

But when I got home and Google’d Earth images, after I recovered from my anxiety/claustrophobic attack, I didn’t see my tattoo in any of the Google images. So now, not only was I going to have to live for the rest of my life with a tattoo on my ankle, I’d have to live the rest of my life with a tattoo on my ankle that doesn’t even mean anything!

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This is me feeling proud right after I got my tattoo, before I knew it didn’t mean anything, and the fact that it was never coming off hadn’t occurred to me yet either.

The point is, for whatever reason life in general (the whole “I have to live it” part) is too overwhelming for me sometimes, and I live in constant fear of fucking up. And then other times, in a brief moment of courage the naïve voice inside me, the one that’s really stupid and pushes me even though I know I’m about to fuck up really bad says “Everyone messes up, Theresa, heck, some people mess up every day and they get through it just fine.  And then the other voice, the logical one who knows me really well, reminds me who I’m dealing with says “Yeah but, those people probably have better coping skills – you don’t, remember?”

Clearly, I forgot:

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P.S. With the help of my dearest friends, and shit ton of Googling, we finally figured out my tattoo does mean something; it’s actually Tibetan for Earth. The Z is the Earth part and the dagger is a Sa, which in Tibetan is the equivalent to a period or exclamation mark in English, so essentially my tattoo is more or less Earth !…as in, Earth YAY!  Like my ankle’s really excited about Earth, permanently…forever!

Reflections from Yesterday

It was a day unlike any other day, that is, if you don’t count the parts where my emotions got the best of me; that seems to be a daily occurrence lately.

I took my daughter and a friend of hers on our first college visit yesterday, and thank goodness her friend was there to cushion the blow because I’m not sure I could’ve held it together otherwise; I still didn’t do a very good job of ‘holding it’ together per se.  Anyway, having her friend there to share the experience was a welcomed distraction and watered down the significance of the trip in a way.

At the start of our 2 hour drive, I pretended I was just taking them on vacation or to the shopping mall.  (It actually wouldn’t be all that unusual for my daughter and me to drive 2 hours away to shop).

When we left the house I was still in good spirits (again, we were just going to the mall and not visiting my daughter’s future home away from home) and so, when we stopped at the convenience store on our way out of town, I was eager to make the most of the girls’ experience.  After they each grabbed their donuts, I watched them turn to the cooler that housed all the cold Starbucks drinks; neither of them had to say anything because I could read their minds and so I offered cheerfully, “You guys can get Starbucks drinks if you’d like!” Her friend turned to me in shock and said excitedly “Really? My mom never lets me get these! – Sorry friend’s mom, if you’re reading this.  Again, because I was in such high spirits I replied, “Life is too short, you should enjoy every minute of it!”  This statement actually had absolutely nothing to do with letting the girls get Starbucks drinks and everything to do with the fact that I only have one year left before my life and entire existence will cease to be as I’ve known it for the past 17 years and I still have no idea how I’m ever going to cope.

I spent the next 2 hours of trip inside my head, struck by the reminder of just how short life is and how quickly it all passes by.  The more I thought about the future, the grouchier I got.

An hour into the trip I had to stop at a gas station to use the restroom and returned to the car a completely different person, kind of like how Clark Kent disappears inside the phone booth and comes back out as Superman, except this was more like the Jekyll and Hyde version in which I went into the bathroom as June Cleaver and came back out as mommy dearest. When I got back inside the car my daughter (who was totally unaware of the change that had taken place inside the restroom) politely asked in a cheery tone “Can we listen to Nicki Minaj?” Feeling overwhelmed and suddenly despondent, I snapped back with an adamant “NO!” Of course my daughter wasn’t going to take this as my final answer, so she asked again and again, seeking an explanation for refusing what probably seemed to her like a fairly innocuous request, which only aggravated me more and led to the inevitable “Goddammit! If you don’t stop, I’ll turn the car around and go home!” (a proud moment indeed). Seemingly unfazed by the empty threat, (the result of overuse) she met the challenge with a “Fine. Let’s go home.”  Truthfully, that’s exactly what I wanted to do because I knew in exactly one hour I’d be face to face with the reality I’ve been trying to ignore for as long as I can remember – smack dab in the middle of the one thing I’ve dreaded for years and it was in that moment that I was suddenly struck with the realization that this time next year I would be making this same trip with my daughter, except she won’t be coming back with me.

In an effort to cope, I turned the music off altogether for all of us to suffer in silence for the remainder of the trip; if I wasn’t going to enjoy this experience, none of us were! (My go-to coping mechanism by the way, which is to abruptly shut down and stubbornly pout in my misery).  Needless to say, I’m pretty sure at this point the earlier Starbucks offering had lost all its value and the title I’d previously earned as the “cool mom who splurges on cool coffee drinks” and says stuff like “life’s too short, you have to enjoy every minute of it” was more than likely replaced with the title of “psycho mom who sucks all of the fun out of life and takes everyone down with her – if it sucks for me, by George, it’s going to suck for you too!”  Thankfully, the universe was still on my side as we arrived at our destination when it offered me the one last ditch effort that I was desperate for in order to avoid the reality I obviously wasn’t equipped to handle yet.

Due to all the construction, we were met with one closed road after another, making it impossible to get to where we needed to be.  My blood started to boil as we drove around in circles throughout sprawling campus.  I already hated the place.  I developed a silent rage as I grew more and more frustrated with my inability to get where we needed to go in time.  I was mentally preparing for combat against the stupid school while the girls teamed up together to try and make sense of the college map and at the same time, try to pacify me in between the colorful expletives flying uncontrollably out of my mouth. Feeling defeated, it wasn’t long before I broke out in a cold sweat and on the verge of tears knowing we weren’t going to make it on time when I finally threw my hands in the air (figuratively speaking, because I was driving and had to keep my hands on the wheel) and exclaimed “THERE IT IS! GET A GOOD LOOK GIRLS!”

I was sure my own disgust about the place had rubbed off on them and they both felt the same way about the stupid place.   “Oh yeah, great place.  I really want to go here now,” my daughter replied while her friend sat quietly in the back seat and I thought to myself It worked!  In all reality, I’m sure both of them were probably trying to process whether or not I was serious about driving for 2 whole hours only to finally get there and give them no other choice than to settle for a quick “drive by” tour.  Clearly still in denial, I was certain if we turned around and headed home I could delay the inevitable and we could move on with our lives and forget that this day ever happened.

Because I’m always looking for signs, I decided if we were really supposed to be there God would put someone in my path that I could ask for directions; needless to say, a few moments later the universe turned on me – and soon afterwards, the reality I’d been dreading began to set in.

The lecture hall was packed with about 100 people; prospective students and their parents, all seemingly happy and emotionally stable families who probably stopped at Denny’s along the way and bonded over a hearty breakfast of bacon and pancakes while they reminisced over the years they’ve spent together as a family and provided supportive words of encouragement to their college bound sons and daughters, excited to share the experience with them.   Not only that, I’m quite certain they happily obliged their kids’ requests during the car ride and played Nicki Minaj songs, and probably sang along with them.  Not to mention the fact that they all somehow managed to make it there on time and probably didn’t have any problems figuring out how to get here, despite the construction.

What the fuck is wrong with me? – was all I could think as I sat next to my daughter and her friend, feeling like shit about myself.  Not only did I feel incompetent as a human being in general, I felt like I’d failed as a mother.   Not only was I consumed with regret over the trip here, I started to beat myself up about everything I’d ever done and said throughout the past 17 years that was less than loving and kind and patient toward my daughter.  All those times my frustrations got the best of me came rushing without warning to the forefront of my mind – all the moments that I’d give anything to do over again so that I could do them differently.

Five minutes into the presentation I could feel the tears start to well up.  As I looked through my watery eyes at all the other blurry moms and dads seated around me, all of them smiling as they listened intently to the lady at the podium, I wondered again what the fuck is wrong with me?

And then I spent some time to reflect.

It’s been just my daughter and me for the past 17 years and while it hasn’t always been perfect and God knows, I’ve failed as a mother more times than I can count over the years, my daughter and I share something that can’t be taken away – especially from some stupid college.  I may not have been given a set of instructions when she was born, but I was given something even better – unconditional love.  The kind of love that only exists between a mother and her child.  And as I sat beside her in the lecture hall, among all the other moms and dads and college-bound kids, I was quietly reminded that our bond can’t be taken away and my love for her will never change – not even when she goes away to college.

Yesterday was more than an opportunity for me to reflect, it was a gift.  A gift of another year with my daughter before she leaves to start a new chapter in her life.  A whole year to prepare.  It only took me a few minutes after the tears welled up that I acknowledged this gift and then I knew what was wrong with me.  And it was time to make peace with it.

So I took my hands and rubbed the tears from my eyes and decided to embrace the experience rather than fight against it. Following our 2-hour campus tour I decided I actually really like the place and started to get excited as I began to think about all the fun we’d have decorating her dorm room and looked forward to all the times I’ll get to visit on Parent’s Day (I hope they have a lot of those).  And then we walked downtown and ate tacos.

I felt a lot better as I drove us home, finding comfort in knowing I still have another year…and I plan to enjoy every minute of it!

Things I’ve Learned So Far On My Personal Growth Journey:

  1. Personal Growth is a big commitment and involves a lot of work, so it’s kind of like taking on a second job, except you don’t get paid. It’s actually worse than a job, because besides the fact that you don’t make any money growing (I learned you actually have to spend money, but that’s another point entirely) you have to do all the work by yourself and there’s no such thing as a coworker to pick up the slack when you’re tired and don’t have the energy to grow.
  2. Now that I think about it, I’ve actually never been good at growing anything, except for weeds (that’s not a typo by the way, it’s supposed to be plural) and hair, so I’m still trying to figure out what I was thinking.
  3. While I love a good challenge, the whole ‘having hormones’ thing gets in the way of the whole ‘personal growth’ thing, especially when you have more hormones than you know what to do with on any given day. Which makes me wonder if they’ve invented a procedure yet where some of the hormones can be ejected from my body instead of injected…you know, like how cows and chickens are injected with hormones to make them grow, well, I’m thinking I might need the reverse of that.
  4. It isn’t really all that realistic or humanly possible for that matter, to wear a smile on your face and be happy all the fucking time – unless you’re the Dalai Lama, of course, or drunk.
  5. If you still want to try and be happy all the fucking time, even after you realize it’s not possible, because you’re not the Dalai Lama, you might turn into an alcoholic and then you’ll probably have to go on another Personal Growth Journey just to recover from this one, and probably AA too.
  6. In addition to wearing a smile and being happy all the time, you also have to be nice to people, no matter what.
  7. Drinking makes it a lot easier to be nicer.
  8. You can’t just decide one day on a whim that you want to be a yoga teacher. You actually have to go to a school for yoga teacher training.  But, in order to go to yoga teacher training school you actually have to practice yoga.
  9. You can’t learn to do yoga just from reading articles about it and looking at pictures of other people doing yoga. Based on all the articles I’ve read and the pictures I’ve looked at, I decided I’m probably not cut out to do yoga anymore.
  10. It’s a lot harder than I thought it’d be to be a health and wellness coach and the people who run those schools don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who suck at decision making, so you have to be sure you’re ready for health and wellness coaching school because it costs a lot of money and there’s a 5% penalty fee for people who make impulsive decisions and then change their mind.
  11. The people who run health and wellness coaching schools don’t make exceptions about the penalty fee either. Even when you try to convince them you’re making an honest effort with the personal growth thing, but you have hormones and so you struggle with decision-making, they still expect you to have your shit together before you decide to go to health and wellness school.  I’ll probably have to get a ‘real’ second job now just to pay for that mistake.
  12. You can’t drink or smoke if you want to be a health and wellness coach. Besides having your shit together, apparently you have to be healthy too…and do yoga!
  13. I decided I don’t want to be a health and wellness coach anymore.
  14. Reading articles and looking at pictures on the internet of everyone else who seems to have mastered this whole personal growth thing doesn’t do anything but make you feel like crap about yourself.
  15. You shouldn’t interact with people – especially the ones who seem to have mastered the whole personal growth thing and do yoga – because they’ll tell you things like “I’ve just sold all belongings to move to Bali!” and it’ll make you feel even crappier about your personal growth journey and your whole life altogether. But you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself because they’re probably lying.
  16. Personal growth would be a lot easier if I was living in Bali. In fact, a journey by definition alone involves actually going somewhere, so it seems I didn’t plan very well and wish I would’ve thought of that before.
  17. I don’t think I’m ready for a Personal Growth journey yet, mostly because of the whole hormone thing, but also because I don’t have the time or money to go to Bali.
  18. I should probably lower the expectations I have for myself and wait until I can go on an actual journey or at least leave town for a bit.
  19. If I finish writing this now, I’ll still have time to take a shower and make it to work on time, which is progress, and about as much personal growth as I can handle today.

My Personal Growth Journey

Day One ~

One of the hardest parts of writing (or doing anything that doesn’t come naturally for that matter) is getting started.

It’s always been a challenge for me to just sit down and write.  First of all, the words don’t come easily and flow effortlessly and form perfect sentences like they probably do for the gifted writers.  I’ve discovered there’s actually an art to it, kind of like baking a cake, and you have to get the ingredients just right – all the right words in all the right places, and if you screw up one ingredient you have to throw out the whole damn cake – delete delete delete start over.

It’s exhausting and frustrating.

And if I’m being honest, writing has become such a burden because I don’t even enjoy it and I have to work really hard to make anything I write make sense and I can’t keep up with my thoughts and even when I am able to capture the perfect words, it never fails as soon as I open my computer the words scatter about and run away just before they evaporate and then, Poof! they’re gone.  And then the anxiety immediately sets in as I struggle to find the right words and struggle to form sentences and then after I sit and think and struggle long enough, I end up with a just a bunch of nonsense inside my head and I’m confused as ever and don’t know why I even write or who the heck I am anymore.

What’s worse, I don’t even know if I’m a good writer (kind of like people who sing but can’t hold a tune, but they keep singing anyway even though they suck.  I’m pretty sure it’s because something in the universe has called them to sing even though the rest of us think they shouldn’t, but it doesn’t matter to them because singing makes them happy).  Anyway, something compels me to write, and so I continue to write, even though it doesn’t make me happy at all and I might suck at it.

That’s the point though, it doesn’t matter whether I’m a good writer or not or even meant to write, what matters is that I write something, not because I want to be a writer, but because it’s how I express myself and part of my Personal Growth Journey is going to require making myself vulnerable and trying new things and writing about my experiences.  And while writing isn’t necessarily new to me, sharing my personal thoughts and feelings are (well, that’s not entirely new to me either, but I’ve never been on a Personal Growth Journey before so that part is new and so writing about it is kind of new too).

Anyway, writing about the journey is simply part of the journey and not necessarily the destination.

So for now, I’m going to sing even if I suck

And write even if I suck

And bake a cake

And grow

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

 

The things I wrote today:

<insert notebook page>

 

 

Taking that first step

Paralysis by analysis when you think too much about something analyze to death

Personal growth isn’t flipping a switch and expecting your life to suddenly transform overnight, it’s a journey.  I accept this and realize I need to

Fighting Fear with Love

I’ve always had a preoccupation with death.

As a young child at bedtime shortly after my mom would tuck me in and retreat to the family room downstairs to watch television with my dad, I’d become so overwhelmed with my love for them both, that the thought of either of them dying while I slept would send me into a full blown panic attack. I can remember lying in bed, tears streaming down my cheeks, just from the fear of their sudden (but probably highly unlikely) death. But even bigger than the fear that I might not see them the next morning, was the fear that if they died they wouldn’t know how much I loved them. As a result of this fear, it became customary for me to jump out of bed and run to the top of the stairs to shout down to them both “I love you!” and then they’d shout back that they loved me too, and then I’d promptly return to bed and fall asleep.

I learned at a very young age that love is really the only way to combat fear. And while this particular bedtime routine of mine might’ve been a tad neurotic, it was the only thing I could think to do at the time that would overshadow the fear and bring me the sense of peace I needed to go to sleep. I knew that while I had no control over whether my parents lived to see the next morning, I did have control over my own emotions and response to this irrational fear. And the motivation behind it was two-fold: I didn’t want to live with regret of not letting the people I love know that I love them AND I also learned that replacing the feeling of fear with love is really the only way to reach a peaceful state of mind.

You could say love un-paralyzed me from events I knew were outside of my control.
The reason I wanted to share this is because I see fear everywhere lately. It’s throughout the nation and all over the world and in each and every one of us. And with good reason, because every single day it seems we learn of yet another tragic event and our fear, evidenced in our reaction to these horrific and terrifying events, is extremely overwhelming and utterly debilitating and we feel as though nothing is in our control anymore and of course our natural response is anger. Innocent people everywhere are getting kidnapped, beaten, blown up, shot at every day and we’re all afraid and fully aware of the fact that none of us are going to make it out alive. The world is going to hell in a hand basket and people suck and we’re all going to die, it’s just a matter of time.

We’re paralyzed with fear.

Here’s the thing I’ve learned, nothing is in our control except our own reactions, feelings, and attitudes. Whether it’s our reaction to other people or events, and neither one is predictable or controllable by the way, we get to choose to respond to people and/or events from a place of fear or love. It’s one or the other. We’re human and so it’s only natural to respond to violence and tragedy with anger (fear) but at some point, if we hope to gain any sense of peace in life and our place in this world, we have to learn to replace our fear with love. It doesn’t have to be some hippy trippy love fest where we strap sandals around our ankles and walk around hugging everyone and everything and plaster peace signs all of the planet and I’m certainly not suggesting we love the criminals and those who commits acts of violence, but simply suggesting that we maybe try something small, something within our power and reach that reinforces the feeling of love and connectedness that we need in order to feel at least the smidgen of peace we long for; simple gestures like smiling at a stranger or extending your hand to someone in need, being there for others and truly listening, and most of all, letting the people close to you know what they mean to you and how much you love them.

Sadly, there are no guarantees in life and there is very little within our control, but just knowing that the one thing, probably the biggest thing, that I can control in this life is how I choose to live it. In my responses and actions, I get to choose whether they come from a place of fear or love…and that’s where I find my freedom and ultimately gain peace.

Evil will always exist in the world and bad people will continue to try to rob us of our peace, they will succeed only if we choose to be afraid; however, we succeed when we choose to combat that fear with love in whatever ways possible – BIG or small.