The Chrysalis of Awareness

painting a cloud

What is the “truth,” really?

There are as many “truths” as there are perspectives, and each person has her or his own perspective, so there you go.

No one, single, universal reality exists. Your reality is ultimately different from mine, though there may be many similarities. This “radical” idea, presented to me by a brilliant man teaching an Honors Rhetoric class, blew my little mind in undergraduate studies in the late 1980s. I have spent the years since trying to pull the pieces of my mind back together.

This blog, much like me in the last few years, has been all over the place.

From the earliest posts, which are an ode to the Regency Era and Jane Austen to later posts more serious and socially minded to a confessional, this platform has chronicled my progress of growing up in public.

It is OK to change.

Change is a constant. The next moment will be different from the present. That is a given. But growth—ay, there’s the rub. Growth results when I respond to the present moment with enthusiasm, excitement, energy. Hope. When I respond to circumstances with a sense of possibility, rather than a feeling of dread, I allow the “present” to travel smoothly into the “future” with very few bumps during the journey.  dandelion

However, my often racing thoughts and volatile emotions can easily interfere with my forward movement, forcing me to a standstill or, even worse, to roll backward down the hill.

Two cats snuggle against me as I write this. My three cat friends are not so much bothered by wandering (and wondering) thoughts as I am. Instead, they breathe their presence completely into what they are doing or experiencing at each point in time, staying focused on “right now.” Soft and warm, content and satisfied, they are good teachers.

Just like the radical idea once presented to me that truth is fractured into as many facets as there are human minds, the cats show me that it is not only OK but indeed desirable to be fully present with all I am doing, in every moment.

This is to be alive.

Anything less is a sort of half life, lived on the fringes and prone to fear, doubt, and other such predators.

So how will I stay present today—present right now?

  • Focus intently on my five senses. What do I see? What pleasant scents tickle me? What do I taste? Which instrument is taking the solo in my beloved jazz or classical music? Am I really noticing the sumptuousness of a faux fur blanket?

 

  • Remove the word “should” from my vocabulary. “Should” conjures up impressions of fear, of serious duty void of joy, and, depending upon my mind set, even a sense of fate settling firmly upon my shoulders and pressing down with insistent cries and whines, removing from me my right—my very ability—to choose. Instead, I will ask for guidance and listen intently to what my inner compass tells me to do next, then do that next right thing.  walking on RR track

 

  • I will not judge—merely observe and experience. As Shakespeare said: “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Why the need to lay my opinion on everything? No—depression or joy, activity or stillness, company or solitude—I will be a student of this life, of this moment, rather than struggling to direct everything. When I surrender to what actually is, then I get out of the way of my own awareness.

 

And that is good. Helpful. Getting out of the way of my own awareness is growth. Removing limited and limiting parameters on the universe, of which I am familiar with only a tiny fragment, opens me up to what actually is. No fantasies. No fairy tales. Instead, only the present as it unfolds.

 

Like this?

Then check out more of my writing.

Today

Grow

Growing up is a difficult business.

But it is one we all engage in. It is the price we pay for being alive.

And today, I am OK with that.

I am fine with people moving in and out of my life, with seeming friendships that burn out, empty and sour. I can accept that my way is not the only way, is not even the best way. with stick figure

I am comfortable (mostly) with solitude.

All is as it should be.

There is no “happily ever after,” but NOW is pretty good.

 

 

Like this?

Then check out more of my writing.

Telling the Truth

happy-cat

Who am I to advise you not to qualify your life?

I closed my last post with that thought.

The only thing I can say on my behalf is that I am someone who knows that trying has availed me nothing. For me, I must either do something wholeheartedly or forget about it. I have proven this.

After a year of hard-fought sobriety, on 21 June 2014, I took two Valiums that were not prescribed to me. Two days later, just for good measure, I swallowed one more. Not even enough to have a good time! But enough to cause me to reset my sobriety date to 25 June 2014.

I did this because honesty is all I have left. I did this because I took the pills with the same mindset I used to have while drinking — I wanted the effect those pills would produce because I wanted to feel something other than the depression and anxiety that was clouding my life.

When I took those pills a few days ago, I did not realize that there is a difference between emotions and feelings.

My turbulent emotions (or moods, if you prefer) flit here and there, constantly changing. They are fickle, inconstant, and deceptive. But I can actually choose how I want to feel.

How I feel now, moment to moment, is up to me, based upon what I focus on and to what I give attention. I can choose to fuel peace and serenity, or I can choose to fuel the opposite — discord, misery, despair. I can feed the white dog, or the black hound.

I learned this in practical application as young as age 10. Desperately unhappy but having to face another day at school, surrounded by cliques of mocking classmates with whom I had never (and did not try to) fit in. So I decided to try smiling. Just that — smile. Pretend that I was happy. It was a matter of survival. And to my surprise, I began to feel better. I began to actually feel inside like my smiling face looked on the outside.

So acting “as if” can produce the actual feeling I am emulating, despite whatever emotion is running rampant. Interesting…

I smiled, just now. And so I move forward, building my second first year of sobriety.

And for me, I know I will build not by trying, but by doing.

 

Like this?

Then check out more of my writing.

 

 

A Book of Days (of sorts)

Diary Pages

Well, hello there!

Life has kept rolling since I last wrote. Sunrises, changing seasons, Crepe Myrtle trees bursting into bloom.

Biggest News Flash: I have one year sober!

Actually today, I have one year, one month, and two days sober. And how has life changed because of that? I have not had to come to, face down on the floor, in 397 days. The cats are happier. Work has been steady.

In fact, since leaving dear Elephant Journal at the beginning of May, I have been thoroughly busy writing and working with friends to strengthen their business.

Other perks of sobriety:

  • Paying off debts and old fees
  • Ability to take care of day-to-day business
  • Daily bathing

Ah, yes. Sobriety is good. Plenty of pros about it.

There are, however, those pesky cons that come calling, as well. Namely, I am now more aware of myself. And wherever I go, there I am, to my surprise.      And while it may, in turn, surprise you to hear this, I am not always the best company. Indeed. wandering_beach

The mind reels.

But while I have accomplished much in the past year, there still are plenty of items left on my “to do” list:

  • Write to my friends in Bristol, England
  • Remove all traces of splattered red nail lacquer from my bathroom walls and floor
  • Revise and polish my current novel manuscript
  • Shop said manuscript around the literary universe
  • Go on tour to support above-mentioned novel (after it has been published)
  • Start belly dancing again
  • Initiate a daily routine of good oral hygiene for the cats

 

birds flying

Ah yes. No rest, it seems, for the wicked. Or the sober. Or the wickedly sober. But one minute at a time, I move forward in this brave new world of sobriety, bounded only by my imagination and willingness to live in the now.

And in this early morning moment, being quiet and richly present seems to be the next right thing to do. And so I am doing it.

Forget regrets. Leave “should” behind. Determine not to try, but either to do or not to do. Stop qualifying life.

Wishing you well, too. Live deliberately.

Until next time, then.

 

Like this?

Then check out more of my writing.

Moving past when I was BAD…

My latest—and yes, this time, my last—piece on elephant journal.

It is my wish that you can take something valuable away from it.

Bitter, Angry and Drinking: Heart-felt ways to grow when Sober is not Enough.

 

5-broken glass

 

Like this?

Then check out more of my writing.

A Journey of No Interest, it Seems.

The following piece may turn out to be my final one for elephant journal.

From my first piece in January 2014, “Life—Only Sober,” which has received more than 8,000 views, to this latest piece, “A Journey of Sorts: On the Road to the Light,” published last night, my views have steadily gone down. “A Journey of Sorts” has barely been looked at by anyone—not even 50 views.

So this is it, in its entirety. Perhaps it is flawed. Most likely it is. But I keep writing, because in the end, if I can say something that matters to one person (yes, and I count as a person), then I have accomplished much.

One voice can make a difference.

And so, without further adieu, here is “A Journey of Sorts: On the Road to the Light.”

_________________________________________________________

Via Pamela Mooman on Apr 8, 2014

girl explore journey free

We are all on a journey.

If you are reading this, then you and I have at least two things in common: We are above ground, and we are breathing. And so our journeys continue, though perhaps not along the same route.

We all have light inside. When we are at our best, it shines and warms the spirit of all, even those not in our immediate circle of life. One person living well does make a difference.

But even though each of us is a being of light, this illumination is broken into infinite shards, shining differently through everyone, in as many ways as there are people. And this diversity is beautiful, really. Each of us has an individual approach to this journey that is our life here and now.

A Sanskrit proverb tells us: “Look to this day, for it is life, the very life of life. In its brief course lie all the realities andAnsel Adams, The Road, create, resolutions, new year, path, journeyverities of existence…”

Some people grab this idea and run with it. They keep running with it, gazing with wonder around them, and this is inspiring. It is no mistake that we call this type of shining life en-light-ened.

Others are born with challenges to overcome—or not. These difficulties include physical and mental disabilities, from deafness and blindness to Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality. They also include the tendency toward addiction. These people may eventually lead enlightened lives, if they work hard to clear out the rubbish that has been piled atop their intrinsically glowing spirits.

And some choose to be miserable. They choose worry, they live in dread of—and yet are fueled by—the next tragedy or trauma. For those in this sad condition, their inner light grows dim and their pits of despair get deeper day by day, week after week, on to the end of their days.

But the good news is that we can change.

We can allow our experiences to teach us, to serve as the vitamins that nourish us so that we grow tall and strong and bright. When we let our lives feed us, rather than drain us, we can do amazing things. We can climb mountains, invent new quantum theories about the very nature of the universe, carve out a new society through leading a noble movement.

Change, however, does not mean we stop being everything we are. Qualities and traits, some positive, others destructive, compose the totality that is us. But we can choose not to act on certain drives, not to act out particular previous behaviors.

For example, once an addict, always an addict.

I am told that, even after decades of sobriety, the urge to use does not go away, not entirely. In moments of stress, at 2:00 in the morning when sleep eludes, while unpacking from a move and that favorite brandy snifter is unwrapped and staring back, empty, begging to be filled…

release, dance, girl, bird, flight, movement

Sobriety is a full-time job. Triggers pop up everywhere.

But I do not have to act on them. Nor do you.

Rather, I can busy myself with focusing on my own light, not worrying about how you shine yours, because I will never be able to do it just the way you do. And that is good.

If we all shined our lights the same way, in the same direction, at the same strength, the end result would be one illuminated area, blasted halogen bulb-bright, so bright that the details might actually be lost. All else would be dark and unexplored.

But lights shone at diverse strengths in all directions allow us to truly see our surroundings, to continue the journey with a quiet knowing, to gain a more complete understanding of where we are, right now.

This keen, loving awareness of the very moment is the essence of enlightenment. And with enlightenment comes all things, because in this state, we realize all things already are in us.

Helpful and destructive, ugly and pleasing—all exist within each one. Learning the totality of who we are is the journey toward enlightenment, a journey, in the end, toward ourselves.