Right Now O’Clock.

I bought a watch in the airport on my way to New York. The battery in my old watch stopped ticking not too long ago, but to be honest, it mostly served an ornamental purpose anyway. It’s not like I have a real job and am constantly under a time crunch. But after wearing one for a while, I realized how nice it was to flip my wrist and know the time, instead of wondering around the house to find my phone, which was usually dead, plugging it in, and waiting for the numbers to appear. (There are three clocks in our kitchen at home: The one on the stove. The one on the microwave. And an old clock that hangs on the wall. They tell three different times.) Anyway I found this store in the Atlanta airport where everything was ten dollars. This impressed me. It was the equivalent to The Dollar Store with a less than typical airport markup. So I found this basic orange watch and purchased it for $10, which in my opinion is the deal of the century. But now I’ve been doing all this reading and studying about the concept of time and how letting go of the past and future, even immediate pasts and futures, is an important step towards consciousness, presence. Of course the telling of time serves practical purposes. In my case, it helps me know that I am always ten minutes late for everything. Anyway, I was watching Oprah interview Deepak Chopra and he showed her his watch and you know what it had on the face of it? RIGHT NOW. I was like dude, that’s what I’m talking about! I thought about scribbling that on the face of my new watch with a sharpie. That would of course ruin it aesthetically, but hey, it was only 10 bucks. Bargains rock.

I have been practicing presence. Lucky for me, I am so conditioned in slipping out of the present moment that it has become seamless, so each day gives me plenty of practice. I catch myself becoming sad at feeling sick, disappointed in my productivity, jealous of others resilience, or irritated at not feeling understood. I say three words to get me back to the present: Here and Now. The best way to handle these scenarios is first, not to judge yourself for the feelings you have. Just recognizing when these feelings arise and acknowledging that they exist is the beginning of progress. (If I’m understanding what I’m reading correctly) The second step is to not react to these feelings. And that is the harder part. But as soon as you have created a gap, the tinniest of gaps, between your emotions and a typical reaction, be it yelling, throwing, saying something hurtful, manipulating etc., you’ve done it. You’ve conquered that moment. You’re far from done, because your life consists of a gazillion moments that you can accept with grace, or resist and pay the emotional or physical price; pain, in any number of forms. If you’ve done it once, you can do it again. Now the goal becomes to live in the gaps. As Gary Zukav so beautifully puts it: “Live your life like a feather on the breath of God.” Cool!

I have been thinking a lot about the new state of mind I am consciously trying to move toward. And I’ve been thinking about the illness and its role and whether my state of mind makes a difference. Truthfully, I am not incredibly better physically than I was this time last year. Certainly the first few months of 2011 were the worst. I remember before seeing the specialist in Miami, we had to take data a few weeks before going. One of the assignments was to stand for 10 minutes and then have my blood pressure taken. I remember finding this exceptionally difficult. For the last few minutes I had to lean against the couch because I felt too heavy, too weak to stay standing. We found later this was predominantly due to low blood volume among other things, but the point is, while I have made progress, every day is still somewhat of a battle. There are constant symptoms showing their faces, coming and going, almost as though they have a life of their own. As though they make up their minds to visit me, then leave. Like the last two weeks where I had a migraine every day for nine days. I was doing nothing different but my head seemed to… hate me. Anyway, I just try to deal with each day as it comes. But what has shifted more than anything is my personal assessment of where my life is. I’ve let go of a lot of anger and resentment. I had to go through the emotional work of it, grieve the loss of my old self. But in a strange way, I have come to see the illness as a gift; not a hindrance, not an enemy. It is what I needed in order to evolve. This has not resulted in me getting all better. There is a real possibility I could be sick the rest of my life. But that’s not the point. Although if that turns out to be the case, so be it. I’m learning it’s still entirely possible to live well, love well, and find peace–sick or not. It really isn’t up to me to judge these circumstances. It’s only up to me to persevere with what I have and what I am with grace and wisdom. The part of me that wants to call my set of circumstances unfair, unwise, unlucky, or stupid, is only pushing me further out into the ocean of despair. (Haha, ocean of despair. Yessss) I’ve never met a happy or successful person who was working against themselves, against the pulse of life. Everyone I’ve met who is joyous and successful has taken what they’ve been given, and put it to use, not tried to cast it away.

So that is how April 2012 is different from April 2011. In simpler metaphors, I’m like a crappy car. I have this somewhat dysfunctional body, but that is not so serious of an issue in terms of achieving my purpose. The soul is not heavily effected by external circumstances like these; the personality is. And making that distinction is important. Our bodies are just a vehicle. So, my body is like a car that can only go 10 miles at a time and frequently overheats and needs constant oil changes and runs out of gas quickly. But even 10 miles at a time, a car can still get to where it’s going.

We can’t all be Ferraris!

Health and Happiness, 10 Miles at a Time.

What Girls Say. What Girls Mean.

1. “I don’t care, I just think it’s funny.” I care. A lot. And it’s NOT funny.

2. “You’re like a big brother to me.” You’re nothing like a brother, you’re just someone I’ll never bang. 

3. “I could never pull that outfit off.” You look like a slut. 

4. “We need to hang out more often!” I’ll most likely see you in a year or two. 

5. “I just don’t want to see you get hurt.” You’re dating an asshole.

6. “I’m not even that drunk!” Hammered . 

7. “I need a girls night.” I have sex stories to tell. 

8. “You can come if you want to.” I don’t really want you to come. 

9. “Do you want to leave soon?” I am ready to leave now and don’t really care whether you are ready to or not.

10. “Who’s going to be there?” Your presence alone is not enough to get me to come. 

11. “You’re going to make a woman really happy one day.” I find you zero percent attractive.

12. “Not to be rude but…” I’m about to be really, fucking, rude. 

13. “I just want a nice guy.” I prefer criminals. 

14. “Politically speaking, I’m a moderate.” I don’t follow politics enough to engage in a discussion, but I love Michelle Obama’s arms. 

15. “I’m so tired of the drama.” I looooooove drama!

16. “Nothings wrong, I’m just tired.” Prepare. For. War. 

Health, Happiness, GIRLS!

Leggo My Ego

I hardly know where to begin in writing this post. It has been a tough weekend for me personally. I won’t get into the personal details, but I realize that out of conflict, pain, exhaustion and hurt, can come wisdom, understanding, and peace. The key is to be present to every moment and own the energy that you’re putting out into the world. This weekend has been an examination of my own ego, and there has been great pain in discovering it and the damage it has caused me (and others). But acknowledging this “darkness” is the first step on the way to real consciousness. This is what the spiritual masters talk about when they talk about enlightenment. If this sounds like mumbo jumbo psycho-babel crap, that’s fair. This is not something people talk openly a lot about. You don’t see the Kardashians gushing about their egos and unconsciousness and balance. Justin Beiber isn’t popular because he talks about a spiritual awakening! And yet, I bet even the Kardashians and Justin Bieber would have interest in what I found over the weekend, because most people will give you the same answer when you ask them what they’re looking for; and that is inner peace.

What I found over the weekend, was my ego. Dun. Dun. DUN. I have been reading spiritual books and teachings for a few years now. My mom has been an especially wise mentor for me because she has also devoted herself to the teachings of Carl Jung, Eckhart Tolle, Gary Zukav, Maya Angelou, Ken Willber, Wayne Dyer, and Caroline Myss among others. Whether she knows it or not, I’d enacted myself long ago as her protege, simply because she offered such a wealth of knowledge that always seemed to make sense and get to the root of issues quickly. To be honest, I wanted to know if I was handling a situation poorly. I wasn’t looking to be supported 100% by her or told that I’m right and whoever I’m up against is wrong. I simply want the truth, and she always seemed to have a way of finding it. So I have treasured her as a teacher. Since becoming too ill to work last year, I’ve begun reading texts on my own and attempted simply, to figure life out. Ya know, just for shits. I am so often left bewildered. Especially after painful circumstances. I am always asking What is the meaning of this? And that’s not a bad thing. Half of finding the answer is asking the question. There are many mysteries of life that I don’t think we’re meant to know all at once. But one step at a time, one breath at a time, I am beginning to unravel the truth of my self. The first step in unraveling this truth, is identifying and defining the ego. My ego. This is what I found this weekend. It’s about to get real up in here!

There are many definitions of ego in the realm that I am referring to it. But for starters, I think simplicity is best. Tolle’s definition of ego is simple: identification with form. (I am what I have.)  It’s a new concept to grasp and we typically don’t learn about ego this way. I always thought ego was a good thing. I associated it with pride, with who I was. But that is the first fallacy in regards to the ego. You are not you’re ego. And even further, You are not your thoughts. You are not your emotions. You are not your mind. So, the question. If I’m not those things, what in the hell am I? Is there anything left? And yes! There is! That’s the good news. Underneath the ego, the noise of your mind, the negativity of your thoughts, the pain of your emotions (inward and outward) you are a conscious being, a lightness (some would call it the soul), that when you’ve let the ego go, will shine through and bring you joy. It is where compassion, peace, and love reside. It’s the part of you that doesn’t die. The only way to let go of the ego is through consciousness; being awake. Just like the only way out of darkness is light. Have you ever felt like you can’t control your thoughts or emotions? Have you ever blamed other people for making you feel bad? I’m ashamed to admit I have. But the good news is, you don’t have to be victim to your or anyone else’s unconsciousness. You have a choice in the matter. You are not your thoughts, you are not your feelings, and you are not what’s happened to you. You can stop telling yourself a sad story.

This weekend I did something that, come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever done before. I turned my phone off…voluntarily. There are a few reasons why, but mostly, because I was stuck in the “noise” of a situation that was going nowhere. I could feel myself getting lost in it, with the truth nowhere in sight. So I disengaged. At first I was going to turn it off for just a few hours to give myself some separation and clarity. But a few hours went by, and I had started to feel better, so I gave myself the whole night. I woke up the next morning and decided a few more hours couldn’t hurt. I sat outside in the sun with Monty and began reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Time got away from me. I was underlining whole passages and pages. Before I knew it, it was nighttime and I was 3/4 done with the book. I left my phone off for another 24 hours. It was great.

Do you ever hear a story about someone being a shithead and think to yourself “Oh shit, I’ve done that.”? Well, that’s basically how I felt for the first 100 pages of this book. It wasn’t easy realizing the things I did, but it was certainly necessary if I’m going to get better mentally and physically. Simply put, I found some major truth. I found the precise reality to a cloudy truth I had always thought anyway; that no one is responsible for my happiness or my sadness except me. My first inclination in reading that was of course, to fight it. What about people who have wronged me? What about the hurtful things people have done? Blah blah blah noise noise noise. That is the ego talking. It does this a lot. The truth is, a totally conscious person can’t be hurt. That’s not to say they can’t feel pain. If there are unfortunate circumstances like someone dying, a divorce, a miscarriage, there is going to be sadness felt there. But a conscious being also accepts what is happening in the moment, and can acknowledge that it will pass. They can’t be hurt by other peoples egos, because other peoples egos can’t survive in their presence. Not for long anyway. “Darkness can’t survive in the presence of light.” An unconscious person resists the present and this makes a difference. Consciousness is all about here and now. Past and future don’t exist. Regret about yesterday is from the ego. Anxiety about tomorrow is from the ego. Pain, depression and anxiety etc. are not natural states. Even though most people you know experience them. And that’s because most people you know are unconscious.

One of the biggest and hardest concepts to grasp is that time is manmade. We created it for practical purposes, but it has somehow become a very different institution. We carry the pain of yesterday around with us or the sad stories of our past or what we had or didn’t have growing up. Or on the opposite end, we dread tomorrow, or, we fantasize about tomorrow, imagining that’s when we’ll be happy. What all of these things have in common is that they deny the present moment. And the present moment is the only real thing there is. Can you prove tomorrow? Can you get yesterday back? No. (I’m assuming you don’t have access to the delorean) So naturally, we have to let go of our concept of time if we’re to understand this. If you’re constantly using the present as just a means of getting to the future or somewhere else, you’re missing the moment. You’re not present. I do this constantly. I hear it in others too. I can’t wait for Friday. Or I can’t wait until I have my own place. Or I can’t wait until I have money. Or now that I have money I can’t wait until I have more. See the never-endingness of it all? If you are to become awake in this moment, we’re talking this very second, you see that you have everything you could ever need, right in front of you. And if there is something we consider ‘wrong’ about this moment, we will cope with it. “You can always cope with the now. But you can never cope with the future,” he says. Or to put it another way, “There is never a time when your life is not ‘this moment.’ Is this not a fact?” Yeah but this moment sucks! That’s what I felt myself say. And that was me resisting the moment. The conscious me would accept where I am and be reassured that what I’m going through is exactly what I need to be going through to learn what I need in order to carry out my calling. Sometimes it’s about something bigger than you being at work, and that is certainly something the ego doesn’t like to hear.

My favorite passage in regards to letting go of past and future and existing solely in the here and now is a reference to animals and nature. (If you’re looking for a model of presence, dogs are a great example. They are ego-free) If you were to go into the wild and ask an eagle or lion what time it is, they would tell you “It’s right now” –because there is nothing else. Nature doesn’t operate yesterday or tomorrow. When it’s raining it gets wet. When the sun shines it soaks it up. When it’s night it sleeps. Something I have really struggled with is indecisiveness. Sometimes it takes me days or weeks to make even small decisions. Then after I’ve arrived at a decision, I think about what I didn’t choose. I wonder about other outcomes. This is, basically, insane. And I know it. So reading that passage about time and nature really resonated with me. “Stress is caused by being here and wanting to be there,” Tolle says. Sing it sister! Or..brother. His most simple advice; wherever you are, be there totally. Or as Ron Swanson puts it…

And you know who’s a great model of that? Monty. If we’re playing fetch, his world is the game of fetch. If I’m sick and in bed, he’s sleeping peacefully. He’s not demanding we play or asking why we’re not doing other things. If it’s dinner time he’s eating contentedly. Not asking why he has to eat the same shit all the time! He completely immerses himself in the now. Everything is enough. And that’s where my life work is beginning. Right. Now.

Health, Happiness, Consciousness.

10 Signs He’s Not Into You Anymore.

1. When you look like shit he says “Hey! You look like shit!”

2. When you asked him to compare you to a celebrity, he said “Nancy Pelosi.”

What? She's really smart.

3. He tells everyone “I’m in a relationshit.”

4. When you asked him if he loves you, he farted, and insisted that was a response.

5. You gave him the silent treatment for 6 days. He didn’t notice.

6. Whenever you tell a joke, he makes this face:

Go On.

7. He says you look like your mother. He calls your mother a whore.

8. He gave you gonorrhea. You didn’t say thanks, but he said ‘You’re Welcome.’

9. He assigned you a Nickelback song for your ring tone.

10. Given the choice between a date with you and getting a colonoscopy, he chose the colonoscopy.

DISCLAIMER! *not about Gabe :)

For the Loved Ones of the Sick Ones

List of Characters:

Gabe: Boyfriend, Likes to be doing things, Going places, Shooting things.

Mary: Girlfriend, Likes to lay around, Drink coffee, Talk about death.

Monty: Dog, Drinks out of toilet, Plays hard, Sleeps Hard.

There’s something sick people tend to forget sometimes, and this is that being sick isn’t only a struggle for us, but also tends to be a struggle for the people around us, too. It’s nobodies fault really, it’s just the reality of these circumstances. Spending the last month with Gabe, I saw how the illness effected more than just me, and the trouble it can stir up in our everyday relationships.

Gabe seems to me, limitless. It’s like he never tires. He can go and go and go and then he can go some more. Sometimes I tire just watching him. I envy his energy and resilience. He can only sit around for so long before he starts to go stir crazy, and that’s a huge fundamental difference between us. I don’t feel the need to be going places and doing things, and Gabe, well, does. “Do you want to go drive bumper cars today? Do you want to go to the shooting range? Do you want to go hit golf balls for a while? Do you want to go camping tonight? Do you want to get it on? Do you want to go jet-skiing? Do you want to go to an amusement park?” All of these questions are usually answered with somewhere between a grunt and a moan, sometimes a staunch “No” and sometimes a yawn and a “Maybe” if I’m feeling dangerous. Poor guy. How he ever ended up with a girl who barely moves I’ll never know. It’s easy to see how how he’d become disheartened.

It’s depressing, I know. The fact that an “amusement” park sounds like everything except amusing is depressing. But I’m just so used to the consequence of me saying “yes” to the normal activities that normal people find fun- and that is, a crash–that it has become my conditioned response to say no. I can’t drink anymore. I can’t be on my feet for long like I used to. I can’t stay up late or get up early. Sometimes a trip to the grocery store puts me over the edge and I pay for it. When you’re barely keeping your head above water, the slightest activites can drown you. So I’ve become conditioned to say no to a lot of things, simply because I know what will happen when I say yes, and often it’s more than I can handle. Sometimes I say screw it, I go and do what I want, knowing somewhere deep down that I’ll pay for it later. Every now and then, it’s worth the price I pay. But it’s rare. More times than not, I’m kicking myself for saying yes.

But as tired as I get in saying “No,” I see that it’s just as waring on Gabe in hearing “No.”  I’m so used to thinking “He’ll never understand what its like to be sick all the time” that I never considered that I’ll never understand what it’s like being healthy and dating a sickley. Especially one that shoots down your ideas of fun and takes up ample couch space. The truth is, if you’re going to be with someone who has this illness, you have to be independent and comfortable with leaving your loved one behind and doing the fun things without them. I know it seems incredibly depressing, but what is harder for a sick person, is trying to keep up with a healthy person. It just doesn’t work.

What’s also hard is the desire not to disappoint people. I hate the feeling of letting someone down, canceling on plans, or suggesting activities that only a 90 year old would be enthused about (How about we play scrabble again for the 90th time?) The problem is, no one else will say no for me. No one will suggest we stop and rest every thirty minutes. No one will make sure I’ve taken all my pills. No one will play lifeguard and see that I’m waring down and suggest we cut off the fun and go home. Only I will do these things. Which sort of turns me into the negative nancy of fun and activities for others. It’s exceptionally difficult to suggest to young, energetic, tireless twenty somethings that we wind down the day and lay on the couch and talk about life and existential questions. Doesn’t that sound GREAT?!?! To most people, no, it doesn’t. And that’s where the trouble lies.

This illness has strained many of my relationships- intimate, friendly, and familial. I remember once my brother and I had a shouting match outside an NYC restaurant because Nick wanted to go on a walk to digest his meal, but I was feeling especially fatigued and didn’t want to go. “It’s just a brisk walk! It’s good for you!” And he honestly thought it was, but I knew it wasn’t. I was at my physical limit that day, and a 5 block walk was out of the question. He stormed off on his walk in frustration and I taxied it home with discouragement. But I hadn’t really educated him on just how sensitive this illness was. I was sort of still trying to live like a normal person back then, so when the sickness would come out and demand  I obey it, it left everyone in a state of confusion. We’ve come a long way since then. Now I hear him defending me to others, even suggesting we cab it home when I consider walking. We’ve both learned a thing or two.

One question I ask is: Where do you draw the line? If I keep saying no to everything, won’t I eventually turn into a hermit trapped in a dark house with zero friends and zero fun? Because that sounds especially awesome. Wait no, that sounds terrible. The lesson for me has been finding the middle. Finding the area of compromise which keeps me alive with the pulse of life but doesn’t land me crashed in bed for 3 days. There is a middle ground, and part of my education in the last few months has been finding it. I’m still learning, too. In truth, it’s painful saying no all the time, when what you want to say is yes. But again, I have to be the master of my own domain! My domain happens to tire out after about 30 minutes of doing almost anything..standing too long, sitting too long, walking for too long…it’s ridiuclous, but it’s reality. And it doesn’t mean you have to turn off the fun. You just have to get creative. It’s also sort of a “Pick Your Poison” kind of situation. Do you want to say no and momentarily suffer sadness? Or say yes, and physically suffer for at least the next day?

Gabe and I are never going to be on the same level physically. This is someone who chased down rabbits on foot and wrestled an alligator on our first date (hence his nickname Gator) and worked 12 hour shifts of manual labor on an oil rig. (I’ll get to these stories, soon.) I..um…showered yesterday. So, there’s a little space between us when it comes to physical capablilites. But, we’re learning. I’m learning how to say no but stay positive. He’s learning to do the things he wants without me, and somewhere, in the grey of life, the circle of compromise, in the middle..we meet. All we can do is try.

To all the loved ones of sick ones out there, I know us sickley’s are a pain in the ass. But we do appreciate even the effort to understand. I see now, I need to try and understand, too.

Health, Happiness, and Compromise.