Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New post

I feel a little numb and confused as I read through some of my old posts. The focus on my life has changed since I created this blog and posted with regularity. I no longer practice as a mental health counselor in any capacity. My interest in the subject has waned. I still notice and parse other people's behavior, and my own, but my thoughts do not linger to solve the puzzles those behaviors present.

Within a year or so of starting this blog, I decided it was time to move forward in my life, for I felt stuck. I framed this to myself in scholastic terms: While I felt an impulse to explore the possibility of pursuing a doctorate or a JD, which would represent the more traditional path of learning, I chose instead to "get a Ph.D. in life." 

That's a little keen, I'll admit. But it served a purpose: I felt I needed to venture forth into the world as a full participant. I had learned much in graduate school, but my life had also changed drastically, and I felt a deep need to focus my attention on the corporeal — not to turn away from, or to shun or critique, the intensive work I had done in a more cerebral, or psychological, realm, but rather to complete it. 

After all, we live out our lives in the flesh and blood, breathing the air around us, our feet on the ground beneath us — tactile. Earthly matters, or matters of the flesh, if you will, are easy and tempting to shun for those of us who prefer the life interior. But what I learned is that I could never hope to maintain my interior without taking care of matters on the outside. A simple example is my exercise regime, if I can call it that. Never have I felt as grounded in my own skin, and as clear-minded, and as able to access and utilize the various aspects of my persona, as I do now that I exercise regularly. 

There are other examples I could share that center on my work and relationships. The common thread among them is simple: by putting what I have learned and cultivated within myself into practice, I have attained to greater degrees of health, satisfaction, and balance.

Lately, I have sensed it is time for the onset of yet another era, the theme of which is "taking it to the next level." If I continue to use the school metaphor (which I am), then it feels akin to having recently finished my freshman year and standing on the brink of beginning my studies as a sophomore. I am still new to this journey, but not as green; now, there is a foundation to build upon — one I am expected to build upon, in fact. 

Indeed, the challenge is steeper now, but it is time to meet it. It is time to continue this journey of growth and enlightenment.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Link-->"Stop Waiting for Life to Change: How to Feel at Peace Now"

I just read an article at Tiny Buddha that I found to be both helpful and straightforward. It is so easy to forget that peace, happiness, and fulfillment come from within.

I hope you enjoy and derive benefit from the article. (Click here to go there now.)


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I Couldn't Sleep, and Then...

I couldn't sleep, and then out of nowhere, completely devoid of context, like a hot knife through butter, a simple statement emerged from my mouth:

"Forgive yourself."

All the angry, restless, relentlessly obsessive thoughts crashed to a halt.

"Forgive yourself," the voice repeated.

"Forgive yourself."

I fell asleep.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Revisiting NGAF

Be forewarned: if you dislike strong language (cursing), don't read this post.

It's a bad habit of mine to amplify and obsess on self-centered negative feelings such as guilt. Often, I take these feelings and blow them way out of proportion until I'm a miserable and less-than-stellar version of myself. Given that it's an emotional sore spot -- or Achilles' Heel, if you will -- I keep an eye on it.

Despite these efforts, I had been feeling in a bit of a rut recently, such that my self-directed negativity had grown in strength, automation, and persistence. That, and it was compelling; I indulged it with my attention. Not fun.

Fortunately, experience has taught me that there are a bevy of resources available to help one out of such a rut. One must often make multiple attempts with different resources before one finds the right fit -- a process I usually describe as "throwing macaroni at the wall and seeing what sticks." In my case, the macaroni that stuck recently was revisiting the Honey Badger Philosophy, i.e., How to Not Give a Fuck.

Let's break it down.

The objects of obsessive guilt (and resulting self-loathing) are usually rooted in the past, i.e., on things one has done. Given that, it's important to ask and answer a fundamental and grounding question of oneself:

Q: Is it possible to travel back in time and re-do that moment?
A: No.

Okay, then. That is a fact. That is the truth.

Here's where it gets tricky.

I would argue that it's "good" to feel guilty if you've, say, hurt someone. Guilt draws upon empathy and consideration of other people -- both of which are "good" things in and of themselves. After all, guilt is a feedback system that tells us, "I messed up when I did that. I'm going to do it differently next time. I'm going to apologize and try to make amends."

Notice, however, that nowhere in that bit of dialogue are the statements, "The fact that I did that thing means that I am completely worthless. I deserve nothing but scorn and disdain for the rest of my days. I hate myself."

Unfortunately, many of us "go" into that self-loathing inner dialogue when an emotional sore spot, such as guilt, is triggered.

{Enter NGAF Philosophy}

Not Giving a Fuck isn't license to suddenly stop feeling guilty -- no way. What it is (in this case), rather, is a reminder to "stay in" Guilty Gully and refrain from indulging the next step into Self Loathing Landing.


Not Giving a Fuck reminds me that I am mostly a good person. NGAF reminds me that I am a flawed human being, and bound to make mistakes; and that when I do make mistakes, even big ones, I am allowed to continue to love and respect myself even as I feel righteously guilty and seek to make amends with the ones I've hurt.

NGAF can be applied to so many situations. I recommend taking it out for a spin.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

An Unexpected Moment of Peace

Part of the after-dinner routine is to take our doggie, Willow, out for a bathroom break and a bit of exercise. There's a park behind our development with an open, grassy field, which makes for a perfect site for off-leash fun. There weren't any soccer or softball practices tonight, and so Willow and I went to that empty field so she could run unfettered -- and run she did.

Willow was tired after several sprints after a good throwing stick, chasing it up and down the field; and so we came to a pause next to the stick after she found it. Willow lay down in the cool grass and commenced an easy, contented gnawing on the stick. I stood there for a moment looking at her and, after noticing a brief but intense flicker of distracted, hurried anxiety from within -- an automatic "we have to get going!" response -- I decided to sit right down in the grass next to her.

In an instant, and all of a sudden, my world changed.

I noticed -- no, I saw -- the trees that ring the field. I saw their branches waving gently in the breeze. I saw the clear, muted blue of the evening sky above us. I felt the soft, cool grass underneath, and noticed how comfortable I felt sitting there on it. I felt it in my hands, and gently tugged on a handful of it -- not so hard as to pull it out, but rather to feel its strength and vitality. I breathed. I blinked.

I noticed I was more or less facing one particular tree across the field. I took in its green deciduous leaves. I traced the space between it and myself. A metaphor occurred to me. An affirmation arose. The tree could be a destination. It is my intention to remain awake and alive for each step of my walk across the field to that tree. Once there, I will acknowledge my journey and my arrival. I will then choose another destination and proceed; or, absent that immediate transition, I will sit at the foot of my new station and wait for a destination to occur to me.

I laughed easily and quietly.

Willow lay there, absorbed in her gnawing conquest of the throwing stick. I gave her a few pats on the back, and gently combed out some loose fur with my hands. I watched it flutter away in the breeze.

For those moments, I was there. I was real, and the world was real.

We stood up. I gathered the stick, and clipped her leash back onto her collar. We started our walk back home across the field. I found another stick. Willow convinced me to throw it to her a few times. I stashed the sticks in a place where we could easily find them again. For next time. We came home.

Goodnight, and thank you for reading.