I love getting late birthday presents in the mail. Wait, I love getting mail period. For one thing, I think the art of letter writing is becoming extinct, so it’s always pretty special to get something written in one of a kind hand-writing, written just for you. Dear Mary… Anyway, late birthday presents are like those blooper scenes they show during the credits of a movie you liked. Just when you thought it was over–bam! My brother Nick and his wife Estee sent me two new shirts and a skirt and a necklace with a hand-written card, the best! And my sister brought me shopping at Nordstrom. Her and Keegan have kind of adopted me as their 28-year-old child. Keegan even sent me to my room yesterday. I also unpacked my suitcase at their house two weeks ago, the first time I’ve really not lived out of my suitcase since February. All my siblings are like extra parents, each pitching in to help in their own ways and I am really thankful for that. It’s easy for me to forget that my situation could be a lot worse. They have all encouraged me to visit them, and that is a real gift. Anyway, I love shopping and I love new clothes, but it has turned into such a silly thing for me to love, mostly because I never wear normal clothes anymore. I never really go anywhere and I hardly see people besides Monty and my family. My uniform has evolved into leggings and t-shirts–every guys fantasy.
Last week and all weekend was a sick week. Like a sick day, but you know, times 7. I once wrote that I was the mayor of Migraine City, but I am upgrading myself this week to Governor because my head is super angry about something and apparently wants the world to know. Here’s your shot head, let it all out! Every day I keep telling myself I will get dressed in my new clothes and I will go somewhere and I’ll do my hair and makeup and look like someone who has her shit together. But, that has yet to happen. “Tomorrow” I tell myself. Then the song from Annie starts playing in my mind and I bet my bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun, and I will go out in it! Since I’m in Cali, there is always sun, but when you have a migraine, it feels like if you were to go outside under that bright sun you’d start melting like the witch from the Wizard of Oz. Anyway, the migraine cycle continues, but why am I talking about migraine cycles? I’m even boring myself.
When I’m in the throes of a sick week, I can start to get down. And also start to go stir crazy. So there are a few things I do and a few things I don’t do. Maybe most importantly, I do not watch TV during the day. There is just something undeniably sad about daytime television, and sunlight coming in through the blinds..maybe reflecting off the TV screen? Yuck. The only time I don’t find a sunlights’ reflection on a TV screen depressing is on the weekends when we’re watching football. Exceptions to every rule.
First, I keep a book on hand and I read. I swear it’s like I’ve discovered the joy of reading only last year..at age 27. Pretty ridiculous since I discovered the joy of writing at around age 9. I feel like I’m catching up on all the years that I began books and never finished them. I always associated reading a book with homework, something I had to do. It never felt like I had a choice in the matter. As soon as book reports became part of my schooling in 6th grade, it became my goal to see how little of the book I could read and how high a grade on the report I could get. Unfortunately, I work really well under pressure–so the night before it was due I’d skim through the book, find the important parts, and write a flowery report. I almost always received A’s on them. I was actually proud of myself for being able to complete the work this way! What an idiot. Anyway, now that I have really experienced what getting lost in a book is like, I feel like I have years of catching up to do. So that’s partly what I’m doing. Especially because it’s not sad at all to read while sunlight is coming through the window. In fact it’s the most fun to go outside and read. Monty and I had been going to the park daily, but I crashed mid-week and we haven’t been back yet. Anyway, right now I’m reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed. A true story about a woman who lost her way and decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail by herself, with no experience. Truthfully, it’s a little difficult to read because she is in a lot of physical and emotional pain so far, and I like reading to carry me away from real life, so in that light it’s not been as fun to read as Gone Girl but I’m just about 1/3 in, so I’ll see how the next 50 pages go.
The second thing I do is create something. It can be anything from a four line poem to a line drawing. The goal is not to create a masterpiece work of art. The goal is to let your soul do some talking. Sometimes what you make will be crappy and sometimes you’ll surprise yourself. But the thing is, now no matter how sick or worthless I felt today or the fact that I never got dressed in real clothes, at least when someone asks me what I did today I can say “I wrote a poem,” or “I drew a picture of a stupid cat.” So now today was not a complete waste. Here are some simple rhyming poems.
*I am tired
But do not sleep
I am sad
But do not weep
I close my eyes
And count to 10
If I still feel it
I’ll do it again
Until the clouds part
And the dark clears
I’ll think of my loves
And not of my fears.
*In the corners of my mind
In the absence of a dime
I think about home
In a house that isn’t mine.
*At night I roam
through consciousness alone
Would I have chosen this
If I would have known!
*At least at the end of day
Where I never got dressed
I can say I wrote a poem
And that’s something I guess.
Normally I hate rhyming poems, and I don’t necessarily love these. But, they’re what came out. So I let them. Because that’s what my soul had to say today, and it doesn’t really matter whether it’s good or bad. It’s the fear of making something good or bad that is dangerous. Once I let that fear go, I kind of free myself. The worst that can happen is you write a shitty poem or you draw a shitty picture. Certainly there are worse things! Either way, you’ve got something to look back on or laugh at or talk about, and you weren’t completely at the mercy of illness.
I drew the above drawing a few days ago. It turned out to be one of my favorites…drawn on a sick day where I never got dressed. It started with a very simple shape; a leaf. Then I repeated the pattern and this is what turned up. I had no idea what I was sitting down to draw that day, but it’s another example of letting your soul speak. Or stillness speak. I just know that when I designate time to letting things come through me, I am usually surprised. I end up creating something I never could have thought of myself. It’s strange, the way sometimes your dreams can be insanely more creative or smarter than you are in real life. I guess it’s the subconscious at work. This one is titled “I Don’t Normally Look Like This” and is for sale for $10.
Anyway, that’s been the last 7 days. Fingers crossed that tomorrow is migraine free and filled with more energy and I get to wear some happy clothes and run errands like humans do. If not, well then…it’s back to the drawing board.
Health, Happiness, One Thing a Day.
I think my favorite present to both give and receive is a book. And not an e-book, not a kindle or a tablet thingamajiggy. A real, tangible book with pages to flip through and words that you underline and notes in the margin that you come back to later. There is something necessarily palpable about a book for me. Maybe I just really like turning pages, but I don’t think I’ll ever make the switch to electronic literature. I know it costs us trees, but I kind of feel like a tree would be happy to be a book. If only trees could talk. OK, anyway, I received a book from my mom for my birthday, and I’ve been lost in it for the last 4 days. I kept telling myself I needed to write, but my urge to read was stronger. I had to finish it before I could do anything else. I think it may be one of the most important books I’ve read as of yet.
“The Untethered Soul” is written by Michael Singer and I’d never heard of it or him until I began reading. The book is 181 pages but is densely written and covers everything from consciousness to identity to happiness to God to death to Christianity to the Tao. I really don’t know how he combined all of these topics so succinctly and covered them with such perfect simplicity, but he did, and it all made perfect sense. Every word. Sometimes I’d read a paragraph over and over, not because I didn’t understand, but because it felt so good to read the words. It was like light would suddenly pour in the room, and with each page (each TANGIBLE page) I felt more clarity, maybe even more happiness. At least more awareness of it. There is such a wide variety of topics he covers and methods associated with them, but he ties them all together seamlessly to teach one huge and vital lesson; to know yourself, and to find bliss. It will be difficult to summarize the whole thing up on just one page..this may need to be a two parter. So I’ll just cover a few topics that really captured me.To begin with, you can’t fix the world. You can’t fix other people, and you shouldn’t try. But you can become the purist and most open version of your Self, and that is your gift to the world. You will be the most successful and biggest help to humanity by knowing yourself truly, and waking up–becoming conscious. So long as you are unconscious, reacting to external factors, hiding behind fears and anxieties, letting that voice in your head dictate important matters, you cannot be of help to the world. You are stuck in your mind, and so you can’t go any further or higher up than that. Not until you wake up.
Like Tolle, Singer writes pretty extensively about how to answer the question “Who am I?” …a question I constantly ponder but feel my answer always comes up short. I am Mary Gelpi. Well no, that’s a label given to me by my parents. Take it away and I’m still here. Who am I? Who is the Self? It was more poignant and enlightening to hear him explain who we are not. Some we’ve been over before. Ready? You are not your thoughts. You are not your emotions. You are not the things that happened to you. You are not a gender role. You’re not even your personality. And here’s the big one: You are not that voice in your head. In fact the journey to discovering your self (which is who you are) involves the attempt to eliminate that voice. In other words: telling it to SHUT. UP. And in the meantime if you can’t get it to, DON’T LISTEN TO IT. For the love of GOD don’t listen to it. Think how many times that voice in your head has been wrong…a lot. But we continue to reach out to it for advice and guidance as though it were an intelligent shrink. It’s not, it’s noise. Just so we’re clear, I’m not talking about voices plural in your head. That’s another disorder altogether and we don’t have time for it. I’m talking about the voice in your head that is constantly chattering. If you stop reading this right now and look around the room, just wait a few seconds and listen. It will begin talking. About anything. Stupid things. Funny things. Memories. To -Do lists. It’s noise. It’s a lot of noise that isn’t really propelling you in any direction on your mission. This attempt was among the original purposes of things like meditation and yoga. It wasn’t to pray or to exercise–it was to find inner stillness, the center. The center is where “You” reside. Behind the chatter, judgments, and noise is your soul or spirit, or whatever you’re comfortable calling it. It’s quiet there. It’s the part that doesn’t die. It’s the center of your consciousness, or what Zukav called The Seat of the Soul. (Also, another awesome book) So this is how the book begins; with the search for the self and a map of where to go to find it. Once you’re able to pull back the curtains on all the things that don’t define you, you begin to feel and hear the real you. Your higher self. Perhaps he puts it most accurately with this definition: the simple awareness of being aware. Or..You are not the thinking mid; you are aware of the thinking mind.
“When you contemplate the nature of Self, you are meditating. That is why meditation is the highest state. It is the return to the root of your being, the simple awareness of being aware. Once you become conscious of the consciousness itself, you attain a totally different state. You are now aware of who you are. You have become an awakened being. It’s really just the most natural thing in the world. Here I am. Here I always was. It’s like you have been on the couch watching TV, but you were so totally immersed in the show that you forgot where you were. Someone shook you, and now you’re back to the awareness that you’re sitting on the couch watching TV. Nothing else changed. You simply stopped projecting your sense of self onto that particular object of consciousness. You woke up. That is spirituality. That is the nature of Self. That is who you are.”
There was one chapter that I re-read a few times, because it really challenged my notion of happiness. It asked this question, which I find myself constantly asking: Is happiness a choice? I have always believed that we are susceptible to our circumstances, therefore happiness isn’t really a choice because we aren’t in control. We can’t help it when bad things happen. But Singer absolutely disagreed with that, and I’m pretty sure he beat me. Just because we aren’t in total control doesn’t mean our happiness isn’t in our hands. If our happiness isn’t up to us, who is it up to? Other people? Circumstance? Conditions? No wonder we’re not happy! You can’t rely on anything or anyone else to cause your experience of happiness. It is entirely up to you. If you make the commitment to be happy, it is to be unconditionally happy. But, that means acceptance of the present. That means erasing your version of what you think your life needs to look like in order for you to be happy. That’s something a lot of people don’t want to give up.
I know what you’re thinking: What if my family dies in a plane crash? What if a bird shits on my head on the way to work? I can’t help that! Of course there will be challenging events in your life, you already know that or may have already experienced them. It doesn’t mean you don’t grieve appropriately and process the hard times. But it also doesn’t mean that you stop, that you can’t be happy again and continue to live a beautiful life. (Just ask my mom, she was widowed twice, but has once again found happiness.) That’s part of the commitment. You have to accept what happens in the present, deal with it accordingly, and release. Keep going. There’s no hanging on to the past allowed. It will never change by you clinging. There’s no cringing about tomorrow allowed either. You’ll deal with tomorrow when tomorrow comes. And think about it. Does you reacting and getting upset and yelling change the fact that a bird shit on your head? No, it doesn’t. Clearly our reactions are not only silly, they’re unintelligent. They serve no purpose. They’re just noise.
Your definitions of desirable and undesirable, good and bad, all come about because you have defined how things need to be in order for you to be okay. We all know we’re doing this, but nobody questions it. We think we’re supposed to figure out how life should be, and then make it that way. Only someone who looks deeper, and questions why we need the events of life to be a particular way, will question this assumption. How did we come up with the notion that life is not okay just the way it is, or that it won’t be okay the way it will be? Who said that the way life naturally unfolds is not all right?
This is still a challenging notion for me to process, but I know it’s right. This is not to say that making unconditional happiness your mission is easy–it isn’t. It’s probably the hardest work you’ll do. But I’ve decided to take this mission on. I certainly have the time, don’t I? Maybe we all do. But we fill it up with a lot of stuff. A lot of Kardashians and O’Reilly Factor and arguments and anger and work and chaos and noise. I think it’s time to slow down. Time to go IN, not out, and find that little nook where our soul is, and try to please it. What more important work could there be? Chopra says that this is a recreational universe and that we were meant to have fun here. We weren’t meant to suffer! So I think it’s time to play. Today is August 22nd. It’s my dad’s death day. Death birthday? I wonder if they celebrate the day you die in Heaven the way we celebrate birthdays here. Anyway, my dad was one of the happiest people I knew, and that’s what everyone else had to say about him–How positive and kind he was. This book reminded me of him and his constant disposition of joy, happiness, and love. I’m going to start my work toward consciousness and inner peace with him in mind and this book as a guide, or at least a solid starting place. I highly recommend The Untethered Soul if you’ve been searching for a deeper purpose or listening for a higher calling and need a little help getting started. This is a really good road map to begin with.
My favorite line from the book: It is actually possible to never have another problem for the rest of your life.
Health, Happiness, and Real, Tangible Books.
*My favorite underlined phrases from the book. :)
What it means to live spiritually is to not participate in this struggle. It means that the events that happen in the moment belong to the moment. They don’t belong to you.
The only way to inner freedom is through the one that watches the self.
It’s bad enough that your happiness is conditional upon your own behavior. When you start making it conditional upon other people’s behavior, you’re in serious trouble.
It is not life’s events that are causing problems or stress. It is your resistance to life’s events that are causing problems or stress.
If you want to understand stress, begin by realizing that you carry around with you your own set of preconceived notions of how things should be.
Imagine if you used relationships to get to know other people, rather than to satisfy what is blocked inside of you.
When a person is dealing with their own fears, anxieties, and desires, how much energy is left for dealing with what’s actually happening?
The truth is, everything will be okay as soon as you are okay with everything. And that’s the only time everything will be okay.
Remember your first perfume? Mine was Malibu Musk, age 10. It came in a can the color of wildberry pop tarts and looked like it could emit either aerosol liquid or cheese. The smell was exactly as it was named; tropical and musky. Something that would probably make me nauseous if I smelled now. But when I was 10, I doused myself in the stuff. I loved it.
But, this isn’t a post about perfume. It’s about perfume commercials.
It’s happened more than once. I’m watching some intellectually stimulating show like The Housewives of Orange County or 16 and Pregnant when it starts; the television advertisement for the latest perfume I’ve got to try. Or smell. I get that ad execs must have to really rack their brains for these commercials, because they are trying to effectively sell a product based purely off your preference and sense of smell; a sense that as of yet, we haven’t figured out how to transcend through television. So I guess in some attempt to compensate for the void in technology, they decided to just confuse the shit out of everyone. The commercial will typically involve prancing A list actors, trench coats, flashes of light, weird indie music, and sex. Lots and lots of sex. OK so it’s not confusing. Sex sells. I get it. But every time one of these commercials comes on, it doesn’t leave me thinking of sex. Instead I kind of feel an intense urge to giggle. And not like a sexy laugh either–That nervous, Michael Scott giggle, and something tells me that is not the reaction they were going for. It’s not even just the production, it’s the names of the perfumes themselves. Angel. Guilty. Covet. The whole shebang. It’s kind of how I feel about the underwear I buy from Victorias Secret–Where one day I’m folding laundry and I realize I have underpants that say “University of Pink” on the butt. (True story) I get what they were going for, I just don’t think they got it right. What would Donald Draper say if he saw these? Who would he hit?! Here is the most recent one I saw that had me super weirded out. Exhibit A:
OK so the takeaways here:
Mediocre actors make even more mediocre singers.
Eva Mendez lives in the future where subways look like aerodynamic toaster boats.
Something about circles?
This Angel Perfume stuff apparently gives you an orgasm when you smell it. WIN!
Remember when Sarah Jessica Parker released her own scent? It was called Covet. And the commercial was really bad.
Did she really think she could get away with stealing that big ass bottle of perfume? That thing is GINORMOUS.
Those eyes at the end?–Those are what you call Crazy Eyes. (See also, Ramona from NY Housewives)
That last scene reminded me to lock the doors.
Here’s one for Gucci’s “Guilty”
Someone is definitely guilty here..of LIGHTING MY CAR WHEELS ON FIRE.
I think we just found Ghost Riders wife.
Did you see that? She broke like, 15 common street laws.
This is Prada’s commercial for “Candy”. I actually appreciate this one. I’ll just go ahead and tell you the takeaway for it now:
Big. Pink. Panties. Watch:
Here’s Nicole Kidman’s famous commercial for Channel #5, though it looks more like a movie trailer for Moulin Rouge. The budget for this little production was $42 million and funded exclusively by Channel. That’s right. FORTY TWO MILL.
The Takeaway: It would have been cooler if they just lit $42 million dollars on fire :)
I just threw this one in the mix because..dude..FORTY TWO MIL!
The 80’s know what’s up. THIS is a how a perfume commercial is done. I heard that Charlie is actually a pretty stinky perfume.
This woman’s life looks awesome. I kind of want to be her.
Kinda Young Kinda Now, Charrrlieee.
OK last one. This is pretty scandalous, especially for the 90’s. It’s for Calvin Klein’s Obsession. And um, is that you Justin Bieber?
Health, Happiness, and I just watched perfume commercials for the last two hours and now I’m really contemplating the meaning of my life.
1. The “You Spend Too Much Time With Your Friends and Not Enough Time With Me” Fight. It’s not that I hate your friends, I just think they’re stupid and don’t really want them around.
2. The “You’re Terrible With Money” Fight. Did we really need these $20,000 life-size Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots?
3. The “I’m Allowed to Talk Shit About My Family but YOU BETTER NOT” Fight. Excuse me, nobody calls my sister a slut but me.
4. The “You Drink Too Much/Smoke Too Much/Work Too Much/Play Video Games Too Much/Sleep Too Much” Fight. You do all the wrong stuff, too too much.
5. The “ANYTHING Regarding Facebook” Fight.
Who’s that slut who wrote on your wall?
Why haven’t you changed your relationship status?
Why aren’t I in your profile picture?
Why are you still friends with that person?
Why won’t your dad accept my friend request?
Who is Brittny and why did she poke you 2 years ago? Defriend her. NOW.
6. The “You’re Always Tired When It’s Time for Sex But Wide Awake When the Kardashians Come On” Fight. Come on, you know you love Scott.
7. The “You Give Terrible Presents” Fight. Awesome. Another candle. Thanks babe.
8. The Failure to Agree on a Show You Both Like So You End Up Watching Stuff Neither of You Really Likes Fight. Oh look, No Reservations is on again.
9. The “I Shouldn’t Have to Ask You To” Fight. Because you should be able to read my mind by now.
10. The “You Have Terrible Phone Etiquette” Fight. There’s this thing. Called a phone. Try it out…
11. The “If You Like It You Better Put a Ring On It” Fight. Because nothing sets the mood for an engagement like the threat of a breakup. Or physical harm.
12. The “I Was Lying When I Told You I Didn’t Want Anything for My Birthday and You Should Have Known That” Fight. You could have at least gotten me a card. God.
13. The “You’re Nicer to the Dog Than You Are To Me” Fight. Well he’s a better listener!
14. The “I Went Through All Your Shit and Found Something That Makes Me Not Trust You Anymore” Fight. You never told me you ran track in high school.
15. The “If I Didn’t Pick Up After You, Our Apartment Would End Up on Hoarders” Fight. Why do you put your clothes next to the laundry hamper?
Health, Happiness, Coupledom
Pro: Home cooked meals. Duh.
Con: They still expect you to do the dishes.
Pro: They have a waaay better cable package than you.
Con: All they do is watch Bill O’Reilly.
Pro: Free Internet!
Con: It’s dial-up.
Pro: They take your advice and get wireless internet.
Con: You’re the new live-in I.T. person.
Pro: Free Netflix!
Con: It’s always a documentary about the latest thing to give you cancer. This month? Bottled water.
Pro: The dog gets a lot more exercise here.
Con: He has tripled his caloric intake as the new garbage disposal.
Pro: You get to use land lines again.
Con: Courtesy Callers.
Pro: You don’t have to pay rent.
Con: You have to tell people you live with your parents.
Con: Can’t record anything, the queue is full with past episodes of The O’Reilly Factor.
Pro: You start watching a lot more Oprah.
Con: You start watching a lot more 19 Kids and Counting.
Pro: You find out your parents enjoy some of the same shows you do.
Con: There’s something uncomfortable about watching Tosh.0 with your parents.
Pro: They provide a great example of what marriage should be like.
Con: I’m the only one in the house not getting laid.
**This is dedicated to my parents. My saviors. I might be under a bridge somewhere without them. And to my stepdad, who has watched waay more Say Yes To The Dress than any man ever should.