Taking the Scenic Route

At a recent get-together, I was talking to a person I’ve known for several years. We were chatting about careers and what we wanted to do when we grew up. My friend is going to nursing school and considering a focus in functional medicine, but he is open to whatever comes along. I told him that I was apparently taking the scenic route to adulthood, because I still didn’t know what I wanted to do.

I had noticed through social media that my friend was beginning the process of transitioning from a she to a he. Or perhaps I should say, he is in the process of becoming who he really is. I’ve know a few transgendered people in my life, but I’ve always known them as who they identified as, not as who they were before, so I was very interested to talk to him about how he felt at the beginning of the process.

My friend is a talented musician as well. He talked about taking things one day at a time and being present in every moment of the process. He even mentioned perhaps recording the same song over and over as his voice changes, to find out how all this will affect his singing. How cool is that?

As we talked, I couldn’t help but notice how happy he was. I can’t imagine how hard it must be when your outsides don’t match who you are on the inside, but it seems that once the decision is made to become who you truly are, the relief and joy you feel can’t be contained.

As I traveled along the Interstate at 80 mph, I thought about how brave my friend is. It takes a lot of courage to become who you truly are and it occurred to me that, although the majority of us are cisgendered, we still aren’t being who we are on the inside. In fact, I think that is the very reason our society is so unhappy.

We play the game. For all intents and purposes, we appear have it all: the family, the house, the important job, the retirement fund. Everything looks great on the outside, yet a lot of us are drowning our sadness in alcohol or taking antidepressants to try to suppress the uneasy feeling of not being true to who we really are. We’re going through the motions of a successful life, but secretly, what we’d really like to do is write the novel we’ve had in our head for years or make beautiful furniture that people will cherish for generations or chuck it all and travel the world to experience the kindness of the people our government and its followers tell us to fear.

When I was a kid, my family traveled a little bit, but we always went straight from here to there. Dad wouldn’t stop for anything except a pee break in some dingy, smelly gas station bathroom or a quick pitstop at the McDonald’s drive-thru. We never stopped to enjoy a meal or wander off the well beaten highway to see the world’s largest ball of twine. I always said that when I grew up, I’d slow down and see the sights. Instead, I find myself roaring past all those historic markers, still vowing to take the scenic route one day.

I’ve been on the Interstate of life, trying to get from here to there as quickly as possible. “Here” being wherever I was at the moment, which was never where I wanted to be and “there” being a place that never ended up being what I thought it would be. The funny thing is that there is no “there.” Once I get “there,” there’s yet another “there” that I want to get to.

And like my friend, my outside life doesn’t match who I truly am on the inside. I’ve pretended to be an office worker, while not so secretly loathing being trapped in a gray cubicle for eight hours a day. I’ve pretended to be a scientist, while outwardly hating every boring, repetitive minute of it. Right now, I’m pretending to be a gardener, which most would say is a good match for me, but it’s not what I truly want to be doing. It doesn’t match who I am on the inside.

My heart and soul wants to be creative, but I’ve kept that desire locked up tight, because I convinced myself long ago that I wasn’t any good at art or writing or music. I was and still am afraid that people will laugh at me if I tried to be creative and that I will never succeed, especially now, because I’m old and it’s too late. But what else is there to do? I’ve got another 30 or 40 years of life to live. I’ve wasted my life so far trying to get to a there I really didn’t even want.

Life is the only “here to there” there is. It’s a one way road from birth to death. We can either race by at 80 mph, missing all the good and bad along the way, trying to get to a there that isn’t really there. Or we can take all the scenic routes and stop to see the World’s Largest Ball of Twine and take a photo of a mountain valley in the perfect golden light and taste the best meal we’ve ever had at that small mom and pop restaurant in some small town in the middle of nowhere.

This is the only time we’ll take this particular journey, so we might as well slow down, be brave enough to be who we truly are, and feel the joy of taking our own scenic routes. What does your scenic route look like?



Nobody Cares About Your Dreams

Lil Steffy
Always fashionable me

Nobody is going to care about your dream as much as you do. Ever. ~ Rachel Hollis

A couple of months ago, we were starting to think about moving. I suggested that we write everything we wanted in a new home on the chalkboard. We left it in the kitchen, because it was the one place we would all be at some point during the day, so we could read it and keep our focus on it. Within just a few weeks, we had manifested ninety percent of that list in the new home we are now living in. I know manifestation works.

So, why has it been so hard for me to write what I want to manifest in my own life on that board?

A big part of it – as usual – stems from childhood. Teasing was a big part of our family life. It is virtually the only way my Dad communicated with me. He mocked me. He ridiculed me. He picked on the things he knew were most important to me, then he would make fun of me for getting upset and say in a condescending voice, “Oh. I was only jokin’, honey.” He wasn’t joking. He was never jokin’.

It wasn’t just me that he teased. He picked on my mother the most. It was cruel to pick on someone that was mentally ill and vulnerable, but my mother remained supportive and loving with us kids and never joined in on the “fun.” The rest of us, however, did join in. I think we did it because we were grateful at the time that it wasn’t our turn.

The tradition continued into adulthood, even with the new generation. Just like Dad, we teased and mocked, not realizing the pain we were causing. Luckily, we all have our mother’s gentle heart and we finally realized the pain we were causing. I think I still say some hurtful things, but I try to recognize when I do so that I won’t do it again.

I had dreams when I was a kid. I wanted to be a fashion photographer or a set designer. A writer sometimes. An artist of some sort. Every time I spoke of my dreams, though, my dad would let me know how hard it was to get into that field and that I wasn’t the creative one, so I should just get a job. Any job. He had so little faith in me, that I tucked away any dreams I had deep down inside and pretended that it wasn’t there.

But it is there and it’s dying to come out. However, the fear of letting it out is so great that I can hardly acknowledge it even to myself, hence, the difficulty in writing my own manifestation desires on the chalk board. What if my Dad was right? I’m not the creative one. It’s too hard. Only those with real talent will make it. I should just be happy with what I’ve got and not ask for more.

I did write my list recently, even though as I did it, it felt like someone had one fist in my gut and the other hand around my throat. The chalk board is sitting in the corner of my room, where I can see it, but it’s not visible to anyone walking by. However, Ruby came in my room as I was sitting at my computer. I noticed that she was reading my list. I felt like I was going to start crying. I was braced for the teasing, the ridicule, and the mocking. All she said was, “Hell yeah.”

I don’t know why I’ve always thought that I needed someone to approve of my dreams. If anyone should support your dreams, it should be your parent, so what happens when they don’t. Perhaps he didn’t want me to be disappointed like he was. If my dad had dreams, he never spoke of them and definitely never went after them. He lived his whole life by default. He took the blows as they came and never expected more.

And he taught me well. I’ve lived my life for many decades in much the same way my dad did – horribly disappointed and unhappy. I never asked for what I wanted. I never expected much and that’s exactly what I got. However, that little girl who dared to dream never gave up. She’s fought hard to be heard and I’m finally beginning to acknowledge her. She’s stuck by me and never let me forget that it’s okay to have dreams.

I thought about showing you my list, but I could barely show it to myself, so for the time being, I’ll keep it to myself. Besides, you don’t really care what’s on my list. You have your own list or at least I hope you do. The only one who has to care about my dreams is me.

Journal Leads Woman To Epiphany

According to Merriam Webster, an epiphany is:

1) a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something

2) an intuitive grasp of reality through something usually simple and striking

3) an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure

The funny thing about epiphanies is that, while they may be eye-opening to you, they may be more like a “duh” or a “who the hell cares” moment for everyone else. With that said, I had what I feel is a big epiphany this morning. Some people asked what my epiphany was. It’s a little convoluted, so I figured I’d unpack it here.

I was journaling this morning, as I do almost every day, because as Flannery O’Connor said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

I’ve been vacillating about whether to quit my job or not. I’ve tried to quit twice already, but it didn’t take, so I thought perhaps it wasn’t the right time. I don’t have anything else lined up yet and the thought of being with a paycheck is pretty daunting. My boss is trying to work with me in order to keep me and it would be nice to stay until something else comes along. However, the reasons I want to quit in the first place are still there and now she’s thrown a new possible deal breaker into the mix.

My boss hired a new manager. He’s a very aggressive guy and it seems he’s ready to clean house and install his own people. I was hired for much the same position, but I’m not aggressive. That’s not my way, but I feel a bit of a power play happening on his part and I feel I need to be on the defensive. I don’t see this going well for me. No matter how hard I try to convince myself I can make this work, it seems the Universe has other ideas.

My life has been on a financially insecure trajectory since I got fired from the lab. I find jobs with small businesses thinking I’m going to be happier and that they will allow me to help grow a business, thus giving me more financial security eventually. Every time, however, I end up frustrated and angry, feeling like I’m trapped with no hope of escape or improvement, just as I did in all my corporate jobs. I’m obviously doing something wrong.

I’ve realized that I cannot keep doing the same thing over and over anymore. I will not. I know it is socially and financially irresponsible to quit a job without having another one waiting, but in order to change my current trajectory, I need to do things different and take a big chance. I need to do something radical to throw me off my old, well-worn trajectory, into the chaos. Deepak Chopra said, “Every great change is preceded by chaos.” In order to create change, I have to let go of the my fear of scarcity and chaos and put my trust in the Universe.

Trust isn’t easy for me. When I think of trusting that the Universe has my back, I think of my parents. About six months before my mother died, my dad lost his job. At this point, Dad was a broken man and Mom’s sanity train had finally derailed. Mom believed that they were chosen by God to spread His word and they believed that “God would provide.” However, God didn’t provide. They maxed out credit cards to travel around looking for people to save. They lost their condo and put all their stuff in my garage. “God would provide” turned into my children will provide because they owe us. (You can read the rest of the story here)

Perhaps God did provide in some way, but they were expecting it in the form of money and the money didn’t come. It reminds me of the story of the man who was on the roof of his house because there was a big flood. He cried to God to save him. Soon a boat showed up to offer him help, but he waved them off saying “I’ve asked God to save me. God will help me.” The water got higher and once again, a boat came by and offered to take him to safety, but again he waved them off, saying “God will help me.” He waved off several other boats until the water finally overtook him and he died. When he met God, he asked, “God, why didn’t you save me?” God said, “Well, I sent several boats to rescue you, but you kept sending them away.”

We often get stuck believing that there’s only one way. My belief is that I need a job, someone to put a value on they think I’m worth, someone to provide for me because I can’t do it myself. However, money doesn’t have to just come from a job. I learned this recently when I had a dresser full of checks from various places. A couple of fifty dollar checks. A couple two hundred dollar checks. Various other checks. Together they came up to over six hundred dollars and it didn’t come from a “job.” All it takes is to see things differently for the energetic pipelines to open up.

I finally feel like I know what my purpose is. I want to use my passions in design and art to remind people of our shared humanity. I want to remind people that together, we have the power to change the trajectory of this country. I want to remind people that they have the power to change their own lives, if they wish.

I believe that Trump and the rest of those in power are providing us with the impetus to be that nudge we need to change the trajectory of our world. I know that there are more people who love and care for each other and our world than those in power who seek to keep us heading down this path to destruction. I want to be part of the revolution that changes the course of humanity.

Just like I can’t keep doing the same things over and over expecting my life to get better, the human race cannot keep doing what we’re doing now and hope for anything to change for the better. My epiphany was that the trajectory of my life parallels the trajectory of our world.

I have to be the change I wish to see in the world.

I must take this radical leap in my life in order to change my life, because I can’t ask the world to change, if I won’t take the chance and do it myself first.

I’m willing to trust that the Universe doesn’t want to see us humans destroy ourselves. I’m willing to trust that the Universe will do everything in its power to help us, if we just ask. The power of the Universe is limitless and we have access to that power as part of the Universe ourselves. We’re not separate from the Universe any more than we are separate from each other. That’s a lot of power that we all have access to. Anything is possible, including putting an end to fossil fuel use, providing for all people, treating all beings with respect and love and even world peace. It’s even possible to make money without having a job.


No One Needs To See Your Underwear


[Photo courtesy of the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary]

A few days ago, I tried to make the big leap. I tried to quit my job. I actually tried twice. The first time, she really didn’t hear me and made a plan to try to accommodate me, so I thought I’d give it a try. Then she did some things that made me sick to my stomach and I decided that I had no other choice than to quit. Firmly. For good.

I sent an email to get it out there clearly and succinctly. I knew I’d have to talk to her, but with my intention made clear, I thought I’d be able to stand firm in my conviction. However, there was crying (not me), guilt, and begging and I caved. She thought she had won. She started planning my future, but I told her I wasn’t interested in the long term. I want to pursue my passions. Then she put me on the schedule doing the things I told her I couldn’t do. Foiled again!

As I tried to figure out how she had once again gotten her way and I hadn’t, I became reacquainted with the idea of the shadow self and luckily I hadn’t given away my book called The Shadow Effect by Deepak Chopra, Debbie Ford, and Marianne Williamson. (Yay for being a book hoarder!)

The concept of the shadow is that we have parts of ourselves, that for one reason or another, we don’t like or approve of. These are usually traits that our parents and teachers deemed unacceptable, so we decided to shove them down deep. So deep, in fact, that we often don’t even know they’re there.

For me, the shadow has resulted in me creating the same situation over and over again and not being able to figure out why I keep ending up miserable and depressed. It mostly happens in my jobs, which affects my life so greatly that I can’t move forward.

In the book, Debbie Ford said that everyone we meet is a mirror. They mirror back to us who we are and those people who drive us crazy, who make us angry and frustrated, are the mirror of our shadow self. My first thought was “Well, shit.” I don’t want to be like the person causing me the most frustration and grief, but I decided to take a look at it and see if that’s true.

My job isn’t super bad. It’s my boss who is the source of my pain and agony these days, so I wrote down all the things that irritated me most about her.

  1. She’s mean and judgmental when talking about her clients.
  2. She can’t focus long enough to complete a thought.
  3. She is inappropriate. (She changed pants in front of me. Stripped down to her underwear. Made me very uncomfortable.)
  4. She can be intimidating.
  5. She doesn’t hear you when you tell her what your needs are or ignores them and does what works for her.
  6. She creates chaos and seems to thrive on it.

I try so hard to do what I’m supposed to do, to please people, to be helpful, to rein in other people’s chaos so that there’s some sort of order to things. Surely I’m not anything like that, right?

I don’t think it’s that I’m like her, but that there are parts of me that can be that way, those part I learned early on that were unacceptable or unpleasing – the shadow. Those shadow parts make us choose to go the complete opposite way most times, to leave it at far behind as we can.

So, I unpacked each one of these points and here’s what I came up with:

  1. I remember my dad always saying that the women in my family were mean: my grandmother (she kinda was), both my great-grandmothers, my mother. I’ve tried my best not to be mean to the point of being mute. Instead, I became a people pleaser, so that I don’t appear demanding or mean.
  2. I don’t focus on anything very long either. I call myself a Jill-of-all-trades. I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but I’ve never found my “thing”. I start learning about something, but soon get bored with it or I get distracted by something else that catches my fancy. I’ve never become a master of anything, which in my mind makes me flaky and it’s kept me from having a “real” career. I feel like a loser because I can’t stick with anything. I keep trying though, which only leads to more frustration.
  3. I don’t think I’m inappropriate, at least I try hard not to be. I think this one comes from the fact that both of my parents always walked around in their underwear and it always made me feel icky. Especially when my dad walked around in his tighty whiteys.
  4. While I admire people who say what they mean, I don’t handle intimidating people very well. Intimidating people are scary to me. They demand things from you. They demand that you act as they want you to. They make me feel small and scared. My mom could be that way and my grandmother was definitely that way. I know I can be intimidating with my own intensity about things. I like to talk about deep, esoteric subjects. Small talk and chitchat bore me to tears. I’m sure that’s intimidating to people, which is why I tend to be quiet and isolate myself. I don’t like to intimidate people.
  5. My parents were very wrapped up in their own drama and trauma. They couldn’t hear what we kids needed. Even when I was living at home at twenty-five, drinking every day, and basically messing up at life, they didn’t try to get me any help. They went to an Al-Anon meeting one time and decided that I was nothing like that. That was the extent of their “help”. I cried out for help and they didn’t hear me. They never heard me.
  6. The biggest thing that bothers me about my boss is that she is a tornado of chaos. She likes it, I think, and seems to thrive on it. I grew up with a mentally ill mother and to me chaos meant mental illness. An inability to control your thoughts. Chaos, to me, was scary. We never knew what each day would bring and we were often left to fend for ourselves without any help from our dad. I compensated by trying to control everything, being the responsible one, so that I would feel safe.

Now what? What do I do with all this insight into my shadow? The problems arise when you try to hide them. They tend to come out with a roar (remember what happened to Tiger Woods and Bill Cosby and Mel Gibson and and and?) or in very damaging ways, like addictions and depression. The key is accepting your shadow side as an integral part of who you are. We need both sides of ourselves – the parts we like and the parts we don’t  like – to be whole.

So, to become more whole, I’m going to work on accepting the parts of me that I’ve deemed unacceptable.

  1. I’ve recently met a lot of Texas women and the thing I love most about them is that they are straightforward and say what they mean. They are strong women and the women in my family were all strong women. I’m going to embrace that “mean” Texas woman inside of me, because she’s not mean. She’s just strong and asks for what she wants and needs.
  2. I’m going to embrace the fact that I’m a dabbler, not a focuser. I like to learn and I love knowledge. Just because there’s not a job that calls for love of learning and knowledge as a requisite doesn’t mean I can’t make money off of what I know. It just won’t come from one source.
  3. I’ll speak up next time my boss drops trou and tell her it makes me uncomfortable.
  4. I’ll keep on being my deep thinking self, but I’ll allow myself to not be so intense all the time. Maybe I’ll even start having a little fun.
  5. My body tells me what I feel most of the time. I’ll start listening to it and changing those situations that make me feel icky.
  6. As far as chaos goes, I read this article by Leo Babauta where he talks about all the ways in which chaos is actually a good thing. I’ll work on embracing uncertainty and trusting that the Universe will lead me where I want to go. I live with chaos in my brain every day. I look all calm on the outside, but inside, I’m a ball of chaos. However, it’s what leads me to explore new thoughts and ideas. It’s what led me to this point in my life where I’m finally unraveling the tangle of lies I’ve made up to keep myself safe.

So, I guess it’s okay that I couldn’t take the leap. It wasn’t time for me to quit my job. The Universe wasn’t done using my boss to teach me what I need to know. But hey! I love learning, right? Soon, I’ll be on to something new.

What’s Your Patronus?

patronus 2

(Image via patronusmeaning.tumblr.com)

I was watching Top Chef the other night and their challenge was to take their family’s heritage and prepare a dish that represents their culture and where their family came from. Chef’s are a very diverse group of people. The Cheftestants this season come from Pakistan and Vietnam. There are also chefs with Italian, Creole, African American, and Eastern European backgrounds.

And then there was Tyler from California. He was at a disadvantage in this challenge, because, by his own admission, he was just a white guy from California who didn’t have a culture. Instead of cooking a dish that represented his West Coast heritage, he tried to cook a dish that his Swedish grandma had made, although he didn’t know anything about Swedish cuisine. Tyler lost the challenge and was eliminated.

I’ve always felt the same way Tyler felt. My family, both sides as far as I can tell, have been here for two or three hundred years. I’ve always called myself Heinz 57, because my DNA comes from a variety of different ethnicities, but we’ve been here so long that we have no “cultural” identity other than American and our culture is nothing but a series of cultural appropriations.

Look at our food, for instance. Pizza. Tacos. Chinese takeout. Gumbo. The food we eat on the 4th of July is hamburgers and hot dogs might be American, but potato salad is German. French fries come from Belgium. The Scottish are responsible for fried chicken. Virtually everything we have is appropriated due to the very nature of our melting pot status. Our only “culture” is garishness, loudness, and over-consumption of everything. America! F*&^k yeah!

Cultural appropriation, especially when it comes to Native Americans, has gotten a lot of buzz lately.  The use of Native caricature in sports mascots has seen some very heated debates. Girls wearing “Indian” headdresses pop up in our news or Instagram feeds with each big music festivals and they are quickly called out as inappropriate. Even No Doubt got a lot of grief for the costumes they wore for a recent video that has since been pulled due to its insensitivity to Native culture. And every Halloween, Native people make videos and memes to remind everyone that they are not a Halloween costume.

I’m not sure people do it to make fun or demean Native people. In fact, the argument always seems to be “We’re not making fun. We’re honoring Native people.” However, ask most any Native person and they will tell you that wearing a chief’s headdress made out of duck feathers, doing the “tomahawk chop,” and making war whoop noises like the “savages” in old Westerns is not honoring anyone.

A hot term on the internet these days is “spirit animal”. There are quizzes you can take to find out what your spirit animal is. Spirit animal isn’t even exclusive to animals. It can be a celebrity, a sports hero, or coffee. While on the surface it appears to be all in good fun, to a large group of people who our country has been trying to destroy for over 500 years, (It’s still happening. Anyone remember Standing Rock?) it’s just another way that the colonizers are chipping away at their identity and stealing what’s left of their culture.

There are 562 federally recognized tribes in the US. Not all tribes believe the same way, but they each have a unique and special relationship with the Earth and with animals in particular. Animals play a large part in their creation stories. They taught the first people which plants were to be eaten or not eaten and which plants to use to heal their bodies. Clans were often named after the animal which best represented their role within the larger tribe. Even today, when an animal is killed for food, its spirit is thanked for sacrificing its life so that the people can live. Animals aren’t just a commodity or a hunting trophy; they are honored relatives.

I know that most people truly mean no harm when asking about my “spirit animal”. I even play along most of the time, but do we have to use the phrase spirit animal? I know it’s much easier than saying, “What animal do you most relate to?” or “If you were an animal, what would you be?” but it’s not that hard and it wouldn’t hurt anyone.

It may seem like a little thing to us, but all these “little” things add up. Believe it or not, Native people still exist and it hurts them when we marginalize them, wonder why they don’t just “get over” Wounded Knee or the Trail of Tears or any of the other government policies meant to “Kill the Indian, and save the man,” and destroy the land that they love and are taught to protect. The least we can do to show respect to the Indigenous people of this country is to quit buying t-shirts that say “My Spirit Animal Is Whiskey” or claiming that Nikki Minaj’s butt is your spirit animal.

In the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling used the word “Patronus” instead of spirit animal although they’re pretty much the same thing. It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as easily, but it also doesn’t make a Native child feel like who he is is wrong.

What’s your Patronus? Mine is an elephant.

Killing The Past in Five Simple Steps

Little me


I’ve always hated blog posts that say “10 Ways To Get What You Want Fast” or “4 Things That Prove You Are Doing It Wrong”. You can find a list on any magazine cover and according to editors, lists sell the most copies. They also work well for blog posts. People just seem to like the list. I don’t, but I thought it would work best in this particular post, so here’s my list.

1. Recognize that you are the keeper of the key

I’m not sure why – perhaps it’s because I read so much – but the Universe seems to communicate with me through quotes. To me, quotes are like photographs. One image or small cluster of words can convey huge, heart-stirring messages and once that message is heard, others come flooding in to back it up.

Here’s the quote that sparked my latest download of epiphanies:

The first key to warriorship and the first principle of Shambhala vision is not being afraid of who you are. Ultimately, that is the definition of bravery: not being afraid of yourself. . . . When we are afraid of ourselves and afraid of the seeming threat the world presents, then we become extremely selfish. We want to build our own little nests, our own cocoons, so that we can live by ourselves in a secure way.

from Shambhala – The Sacred Path of the Warrior

The key phrase for me is “not being afraid of yourself.” That little girl you see in the photo is who I really am. We are all that little kid who came into this world to experience what it’s like to be human. Unfortunately, many well-meaning adults – from parents to teachers to church leaders – show us that who we are is not good enough or too much by forcing us to conform to how they think we should be. We come to think that who we are is wrong and slowly, we tuck bits and pieces of ourselves away and try to become who they want us to be.

For me, it’s like being locked up in a cage with layers and layers of blankets thrown over the top to keep me safe. As a child, I caged myself up bigly. (Is that adverb in the dictionary yet?) I was taught that if you don’t try new things, you won’t feel the pain of failure. If you don’t try to meet new people, then you won’t run the risk of being rejected. If you keep your creative side under wraps, no one will laugh at you. While those beliefs kept me safe, they also kept me from growing. I’ve realized now that there was never anything wrong with who I was. I was just afraid to be me.

what about this theory. the fear of not being enough. and the fear of being ‘too much.’ are exactly the same fear. the fear of being you. – Nayyirah Waheed

I was so heavily covered up that when I first started seeing a therapist and she would ask me a question about what I thought or what I wanted, I went completely blank. I was so terrified to voice what I wanted that I just shook my head and said, “I don’t know.” I’m certainly glad she was patient enough to help me slowly pull the blankets off my cage.

2.  Decide that you no longer wish to believe your beliefs.

I’ve been feeling progressively better since I left behind the place that I associate with being trapped in my cage. I’ve even felt so excited about the endless possibilities opening up for me that, at times, I’ve felt like jumping for joy and dancing around the house, but I don’t. Instead, I keep myself locked down. Lockdown shows up physically for me. I clench my fists, my shoulders round to protect my heart, my lips press tightly together and form a from, and I clench my jaw so hard I feel like my teeth might crumble under the pressure. As you can imagine, that’s not a good feeling.

Abraham Hicks says that a belief is just a thought you keep thinking, so I’ve decided not to believe my beliefs anymore. I’ve found that the only way I can make changes in my life is to make a firm decision. That might be the hardest part of these five steps. We give lip service to making a decision by saying, “I’ve decided to ___.” Then we run off and promptly forget what we promised to do. The ones that stick are felt deep within. Most would refer to it as willpower. People often say they don’t have willpower, but they do. You just have to want it bad enough.

Marisa Peer,  a British hypnotherapist I found on YouTube, says that your mind will believe anything you tell it. (She even shows you how it works. Check her out.) I’ve told my brain that I no longer wish to dwell in a place that hasn’t existed in four decades and my brain is obliging. Thank you, brain.

3. Find imagery that works for you and meditate on it.

I was recently watching a trailer for the new Star Wars movie The Last Jedi. I haven’t watched any of the new movies, but the still for the trailer had an older Mark Hamill on it. I always thought he was cute, so I thought I’d watch it. In it, I heard one of the characters say,

“Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you were meant to be.”

There it was. My little crush on 70’s Mark Hamill led me to watch a trailer that I wouldn’t have otherwise watched, which then led me to that quote. (Oh, Universe. You’re so sly.) Letting go of the past is the key. All of the people that hurt me are gone now, which means that I’m the one continuing to hurt me now by treating myself the same way they treated me. I have to stop believing what they taught me in order for me to become who I was meant to be. I have to let the past die.

How do I do that? Meditation and imagery work well for me, so I sat with it. In my meditation, I envisioned myself hunched over from the weight of carrying large sacks full of my past hurts. I’ve been dragging them along the ground behind me for years for added resistance. (No wonder my shoulders literally hurt.) I cut those sacks out of my hands, because when you grip something for so long, your hands don’t want to let go. I put each of those heavy sacks on a cloud and I watched as they slowly floated away. I know that the same cloud doesn’t pass twice, so those sacks are gone forever.

Your imagery or method for letting go may be different than mine, but you’re welcome to use my clouds if you’d like. I have millions of them.

4. Letting go is a practice, not a one and done.

My life didn’t immediately become wonderful after that meditation. It’s a practice. For instance, the other night, I was making mashed potatoes and I heard my Dad’s mocking voice say, “These mashed potatoes are lumpy. My mother used to make mashed potatoes with just a masher and she never had any lumps.” Every single time I make mashed potatoes, I hear him say that (and I make mashed potatoes quite often). I decided to put that little jab on a cloud and let it float away like the other stuff. I’m sure more will come up, but I’m not worried, because now I know what to do with them.

After letting my past float off into the ether, I find it very hard to even bring up those things that used to cause me so much pain. It’s not that they’re not there, but I don’t follow those thoughts down the rabbit hole anymore. It’s like my brain has blocked the view of my past, so the only place I can look is forward.

5. Listen to your heart and do what it tells you.

When I was little, I was taught that being creative wasn’t available to me, so I hid that part of me away. However, now that I’m no longer believing those beliefs, I’m free to follow my heart. After being silenced for so long, however, it will take a little time to get used to hearing what my heart has to say. The heart speaks in a whisper, so you have to listen carefully. My brain appears to be cooperating though, so I’m sure that my heart’s voice will continue to become more clear as the days go by.

I left my hopes and dreams behind with that little girl on the tricycle, but I’m starting to find them again. I’ve started playing the piano again. Luckily body memory is allowing to pick up where I left off. I’m reading just for the fun of it instead of simply for information. The other night, I joined the main circle at a party instead of staying on the periphery as I usually do. And I’ve downloaded some courses on photography, drawing, and fiction writing. For the first time in a very long time, I’m actually excited about my future.

Letting go of the past or killing it (whatever works for you) is easier said than done, I know, but once you realize that those childhood hopes and desires are who you truly are,  you’ll want to let go of whatever is holding you back from being your happiest, most fulfilled self. I believe you’ll find that it’s well worth the effort.

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We didn’t come here to be just like everyone else. We came here to be our unique selves and to help the world grow simply because for the experience of it. Society tells us to conform, yet it rewards most those that live life in their own unique way. You can choose to live inside the confines of society. It’s safe there and that’s okay. However, if you want to live your life to the fullest, the only way to do that is to be brave and be you.

As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Let Me Tell You Why I’m Pissed

It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.

Ansel Adams

“Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top.”
Edward Abbey

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”
Edward Abbey

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”
Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

“Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.”
Edward Abbey

I’m heartbroken today. Every day it gets worse and worse. Another day, another attack on the American people by own our government. This is nothing new, of course. Kings, Queens, Emperors, Rajas, Supreme Leaders, Dictators, Authoritarian, Totalitarian, Democracy. They were all founded on the premise that it was safer to live together in groups and that certain people should be put in charge to make decisions for the whole. The government would protect the people from outside forces, take care of our needs, and provide us with services to make us more comfortable. Who knew that so often we would have to protect ourselves from the very leaders we put in charge to protect us.

Too often throughout history, those in power start thinking that the people are there to benefit them. Look at Kim Jung-Un, al-Assad, Xi Jinping, and al-Bashir to name just a handful. They divide the people, most often by religion or race, and turn them against each other. When we are fighting each other, we are less likely to band together against the ruler.

The US is now under an oligarchy. Merriam Webster defines an oligarchy as a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes. When the Supreme Court ruled on Buckley v Valeo in 1976 that corporate political spending is protected under the First Amendment right of free speech and Citizens United v Federal Election Commission upheld that corporations have First Amendment rights, it opened the door to corruption like we’ve never seen before in this country.

Donald Trump is the epitome of corruption, but he’s merely a scapegoat for the GOP and their corporate donors. They are going to let him be the bad guy and push him to gut all the social and environmental policies that have protected the poor and our natural heritage for decades, then when Mueller takes him down, the damage will already be done and they’ll throw up their hands and say there’s nothing they can do about it.

Why are the Republicans so hell-bent on destroying this country? In my opinion, it is pure greed. They are paid by the very corporations they’re deregulating everything for, thereby guaranteeing their own prosperity. The people we put in power to protect us are the very people that are hurting us the most. Maybe we don’t have a dictator – although Trump sure acts like he is Supreme Leader of the United States – but we have something just as bad. I don’t know what to call it, perhaps corporate fascism, but Fascism seems to be the current state of affairs in America. Here’s what Merriam Webster says about Fascism:

a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

Is that what Trump meant when he said he was going to make America Great Again? As long as he says “Merry Christmas” and that he supports the NRA, he is guaranteed a following, while the rest of us get mad, sign petitions, and sit here with our jaws on the floor in disbelief. How could this have happened? Is there anything we can do about it.

I’ve signed my fair share of petitions, but I know the one thing that will bring them down if we’ll stop believing we’re powerless. It’s simple. Most of us have access to at least a little of it and we have the power to decide what we’ll do with it. What is it? It’s our damn money, that’s what. What is the purpose of corporations? To convince you that you can’t live without what they have and to make more and more money. They want your money. Stop giving it to them! Why do they want Bears Ears? To take what it has, make their money, then discard it when they’ve used it up. Just like they’ll do to us.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about chaos lately. As an anxious person, I expend a lot of energy trying to control what I perceive to be chaos, but I also know that chaos is necessary. If everything is controlled and orderly, it gets old and boring. We stir the pot just to keep things interesting. My therapist gave me a quote from the movie Enemy:
Chaos is order yet undeciphered

Our country is in chaos right now. What we know is being destroyed as we speak and there’s nothing we can do to fix it right now, but I have to see the bigger picture. I have to look to the future, the Seventh Generation. These corporations don’t care about us. Our government doesn’t care about us. We have to care about us. We have to start taking care of each other. Now.

It’s time for us to see the writing on the wall; we need each other. We need to start thinking in terms of what I can do for my community. What can I contribute to the group? We have everything we need to take care of ourselves as a collective. We have nurses and doctors. We have people that know how to grow food. We have people who can fix things, people who like to build things, people who know chemistry, people who own guns, people who own big chunks of land. We don’t need these corporations and we don’t need a corrupt government.

So what can you do? What do you enjoy? Are you a teacher? Do you know how to sew? Do you know how to make plant medicines? Do you make furniture or do you enjoy pottery? Do you know how to blow glass? Do you know how a well works? Are you a strong bike rider? We’ll need you to deliver things. Is there something that interests you? Go learn that, whatever it is. Start doing it now. Whatever you love to do, we will need it. We will need you.