Survival Kit 101

Please watch this video. It will change your life forever. I promise you. You will never look at a bad day the same ever again.

Realize every dark cloud is a smoke screen
meant to blind us from the truth
and the truth is whether we seem them or not
the sun and the moon are still there
and always there is always light.

I can never listen to a Shane Koyczan poem without crying. He extends his arm of words and touches my soul, he stirs me up, he makes me whole. I don’t have much more to add to this. Life is not perfect. We have bad days, we fall down, we fall short, we mess up. We get scared, we feel weak, we disappoint someone, we don’t make it and we hurt. 

I have bad days. Emphasis on the plural. I don’t always wake up feeling awesome. I don’t feel like I give enough, like I live enough. I hurt… and I bleed. And you and me, we bleed the same. I’ve also learned to transform my pain, to grow from it, to create from it. So I try. I try everyday to be better. To give the best of myself. Because that’s what makes me truly happy. 

If you are having a good day, be considerate.
A simple smile could be the first-aid kit
that someone has been looking for.
If you believe with absolute honesty that
you are doing everything you can – do more

I’m a true believer of the power of a simple smile. Someone once changed my life just by smiling at me. I have helped many of my friends just by being there for them, looking them in the eye with a smile and reminding them that everything happens for a reason – that it WILL be okay.

Love and hate are beasts

and the one that grows

is the one you feed.

Every day we wake up with a choice. We set ourselves up within the first few minutes of waking up. Do I want to feel grateful today? Do I want to be cranky? Close, reserved? Open, giving? A Yes Man or a I Don’t Know Guy. Every single day of our lives we wake up…and we make that choice of who we want to be.

Everyone knows pain.

We are not meant to carry it forever

If you decided one day to wake up and feel sad, burdened, small, frightened, fragile, hopeless, poor or defeated. It’s just today. It’s okay. None of that is really true. None of that is really you.

PS – If you’d like to hear more poems like this from Spoken Word poets, please check my Awesome Poetry page.

Are you Empathetic?

Dr. Brené Brown is a researcher-storyteller and kind of a rock star for me. I previously posted her TED Talk on Vulnerability where she laid out some deep truths in such an elegant and simplistic manner with a dash of humor in a way that only she could do.

In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brown breaks down vulnerability to reveal what she calls “wholeheartedness”: The capacity to engage in our lives with authenticity, cultivate courage and compassion, and embrace — not in that self-help-book, motivational-seminar way, but really, deeply, profoundly embrace — the imperfections of who we really are. It is sheer brilliance.

In this sweet & short video, the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) teamed up with animator Katy Davis to bring to life an excerpt from Brown’s longer talk on the power of vulnerability and the difference between empathy and sympathy, based on her most recent book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. (also brilliant)

“The truth is, rarely can a response make something better — what makes something better is connection.”

How many of you can agree to this statement?

How many of us are actually connecting when we communicate?

In her book, Brown writes:

Vulnerability isn’t good or bad. It’s not what we call a dark emotion, nor is it always a light, positive experience.
Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living.

[…]

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.

How vulnerable are you willing to be?

Black Dog Days Will Pass

In collaboration with WHO to mark World Mental Health Day, writer and illustrator Matthew Johnstone tells the story of overcoming the “black dog of depression”.

How many of you have seen The Black Dog?
How many of you had kept it as a pet in your own home?
How many of you still take a walk with it everyday?

I do.

I’ve struggled with the black dog my entire life.

As a child, I wasn’t the most “ordinary” girl. The other girls wanted to play with Barbie dolls and go shopping, I wanted to climb trees and go exploring. The things that made me happiest or made me feel accomplished (attempting to climb a tree and actually reaching the top) were of no value to my parents. In fact, they would yell and be disappointed at my lack of lady-like mannerisms. That’s when the puppy appeared.

As a pre-teen, I was overweight. Acne and extra belly fat is a bad combination at any age… But at 10 it’s all too horrific. The puppy grew a little more.

As an adolescent, my everyday routine could be condensed into one word: Struggling.

I was at that age where I was able to assimilate all my thoughts and emotions, I was able to give them words and meanings. I was so tortured now that I think of it. I would bathe myself in hurt everyday. Everything would weigh me down. Not living up to expectations, not being pretty, not being smart enough, not being creative, gutsy, not knowing what I wanted to do, not taking risks. I missed out on a lot of my life because of fear. And then I hated myself for it. Plus, I was dealing with some serious self-denial about my sexuality. Plus, I had developed an eating disorder. To say the least, I was pretty suicidal in college.

That is why it humbles me down to my bones everyday to remember where I came from and to know that I’ve gotten to a beautiful place I like to call “This”. My present. My moment. To remember my limiting beliefs, my lack of self confidence, of self esteem, of emotion. You can read my “Confession” in my previous post Pain, My Mentor to know what I’m talking about. I’ve had to overcome a series of painful events in order to break free. But I’ve learned that’s how life works, isn’t it? The harder we fall, the higher we fly. 

Today, however, one of my long standing monsters is “Discipline”. Self-control has never been my forte. That’s why I can never stick to a schedule or a diet or a routine. That’s why I’ve been scrambling to find the time to meditate for weeks, that’s why I’ve been begging myself to sit down and write during the night because… I have no order. I have no discipline. I know what my problem is and what I need to do in order to improve on it… but some days I fall short. Very short. Luckily, I’ve learned the art of forgiving oneself so it keeps me afloat and I know that each day is a day for me to try again.

I’m nowhere near perfect, but I’m a person that gets up and tries everyday to be better and that is good enough for me.

I know a lot of people are out there right now struggling. It hurts me to know that some are battling with no light at the end of the tunnel. I wish I could tell me that dark days don’t last forever, that the sun always shines. I wish I could tell them that they’re innocent and they’ve done no wrong, that it’s ok to just be down at times. I wish I could shine some light into their lives.

Please share this if you or someone you know is suffering from depression. Help shine the light and know for a fact that sadness doesn’t last. Before you know it…

Clarity

‘Cause you are the piece of me I wish I didn’t need
Chasing relentlessly, still fight and I don’t know why

If our love is tragedy, why are you my remedy?
If our love’s insanity, why are you my clarity?

I love to self-dedicate songs. So when I heard this song, I thought it was the perfect melody. It had just the right amount of good music & meaningful lyrics. It spoke of a message that made everything crystal clear to me. I dedicated this song to a piece of me I wish I didn’t need… My Ego.

We could sit here and talk all day about Ego. We both know it loves the attention. What is the Ego to you? Ego has been described to mean many things.

“Ego” is a Latin and Greek (ἑγώ) word meaning “I”, often used in English to mean the “self”, “identity” or other related concepts, Ego has also often been quoted by writers and philosophers as the “false self”. Freud considers the Ego to be a kind of Super-Human. So, you see, the Ego can be many things. More importantly, the Ego is what you make it to be. The Ego has no power on its own, only what you give it, what you feed it. It lives and dies because of you.

During one of my meditations a few years ago I feel like I went on a long journey with my Ego (my Ego likes to be spoken of with a capital E).

It took me to deep places of my subconscious and showed me memories of my past that I had blocked out. It was showing me the source of why I had become the person that I was…an angry, rebellious, pessimistic teenager. It was showing me those memories so I could take away the power of them. So I could forgive the ones I loved, myself and move on. It became my guide that day.

Some people will tell you that to achieve a higher level of consciousness or to become more spiritually attuned that you have to “kill the ego”. I don’t believe in that concept. I think a person is far more wiser when he learns to accept and coexist with his Ego. Because, at the end of the day it is a part of oneself. Our Ego is necessary. It can protect us, comfort us, educate us and enlighten us if we were to believe in its good nature. Remember that your thoughts alter the Universe. If you have negative thoughts about something, you are planting a seed of negativity in that thing. If you think your Ego is “evil” and out to get you. Guess what? That’s what it’ll do.

My Ego has taken over me a lot during my lifetime and not in a good way. When I am vulnerable or unhappy my Ego steps in for me. In order to protect me from getting hurt any further, it becomes a shield. It says and does all the things that I personally am not brave enough to do. My Ego has the ability to say “No”. My Ego was my pride. After I let go of my pride, after I stopped feeding it and seeking it, the Ego remained. It had a different purpose now, it was there to remind me of other people’s pride. It was there to warn me about people who like to take advantage of humble people. People with ulterior motives, with fake promises, with hidden personalities. I still had to learn the lesson the hard way because I had an unwavering heart that wanted to believe in the best of people. I believed that if you give someone a chance to do right, they will. I must admit it’s idealism, and even though that’s true, I will never stop trying and believe (while my Ego growls in the background).

The truth is, my Ego is my friend. I have been through so much with it. We have fought, I have tried to cut it out of my life, I have tried to lock it up, to silence it, to bargain with it, to fight with it again, to really get physical with it, to hurt it, to heal it only to hurt it again and back to fighting it and finally accepting it. My Ego may not fully accept me. I still haven’t lived up to its expectations as yet, but I accept it. Because I accept Me. I am not perfect. I am just me. And I love every itty, bitty, little piece of me. Including my big, fat Ego. (there I go hurting it again.)

Talk to your Ego. Get some clarity. Open your eyes. Discover a new side of you. Would it be too bold to suggest even loving your Ego? By loving it i mean treating it with love. The same way you treat yourself, all your body parts, your quirks, your “flaws” and all the things that make you who you are. Don’t let your ego BLIND you, let it GUIDE you.