The lines that we draw.

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I have been thinking a lot lately about boundaries, rules, and ways in which we decide what is right and wrong for us. In our society, there are rules, laws, and structures that are in place that guide the way that we drive; make money; raise our children; and take care of our property. In our workplace, the policies and procedures that exist let us know what is okay, in the eyes of our employer, and what is not. If we go to church or follow some religious affiliation or practice, there are definite expectations of what is allowed, and what is forbidden.

However, we all have lines that we draw also in our internal world. They exist for us around food, drugs, alcohol, weight, and appearance. They dictate within ourselves whether we want to have that cheesecake, or do those extra 100 sit ups. Our internal lines let us know when we are in sync with where we most want to be and when we are falling out of step with what we expect from ourselves.

And, my thoughts around these lines that we draw within ourselves is that they can create real conflict for us. For example, when I stopped drinking alcohol for two years, living a sober life seemed like the right choice for me. The line in my mind was that alcohol, and other drugs, were not for me, because they created chaos in my life and I didn’t need them. When I made a conscious decision one year ago to have a drink, and many times since then, I often wondered where my new line would be. Would I restrict my drinking to only once a week? Only one glass at any given time? Would I limit it to wine, or would I allow myself liquor also? Does that mean that marijuana was okay now?

The conflict was not in establishing a new line; as human beings, we all are able to change our minds and we all have the capacity for change. However, the need for me to create that line gives me permission to judge myself when I fall short. So, if I have that second glass of wine, I am a bad person that can’t handle her liquor. That is what my first instinct is to tell myself, anyway. And, if I am willing to judge myself about the lines that I have drawn for myself, you can be darned sure that I am giving myself permission to judge others as well.

The truth is, there are rules, regulations and structures in place for a reason in our society, to keep us and those that we love and live in community with safe and sound. However, when it comes to the lines that we draw within ourselves, they are often an opportunity to judge and berate ourselves for just being human, just being in the presence of living our lives. And, when we draw those lines, we most likely not only keep ourselves inside of them, we keep other people OUT as well. We distinguish ourselves from those around us as if we are on this journey all on our own. Or, as if our needs, fears, and insecurities are unique only to us.

So, the best that I can do on any given day, is to make choices in the moment, that feel most loving and in sync within myself, and that enable me to continue to connect with my world and those around me. I want to continue to build a life that is free of regret, guilt, and shame, simply for being the flawed, unique, and beautiful human being that I am.

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Fear Factor.

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Several years ago, there used to be a show on called Fear Factor. Every week, the host would have several contestants on, that would face up to some of their greatest fears around bugs, creatures, and creepy things. They would lay in beds of snakes, eat and drink gross combinations, and expose themselves to some of their worst nightmares. All of the fears that they had on the inside were brought to life in their outside world, and they had to make a choice on how to handle it.

It got me thinking about fear and where it really exists. We grow up thinking, believing, because we are taught in this way, that what we need to be afraid of exists outside of ourselves: the dark; strangers; war; disease. But what I have really come to understand is that any fears that we have exist inside ourselves. Those are the fears that truly destroy us, not what we think we need to be afraid of in our outside world.

Fears that I harbor inside myself, even though I am facing them more consistently, are fears of being alone; of being forgotten; of not being loved or having love in my life. Fear that I will never be or have enough to be taken care of. Fear of death. Fear of truly being myself in the world.

When it comes to relationships that we create in our lives, they are mostly based in fear, not in love. Now, you may dispute this statement, and claim that the relationships that you participate in are about love more than fear. You may be right. Yet I know in my lifetime, I have often had a larger portion of my relationship be based on fears I had within myself, then truly loving myself. The same ones that still ring true for me today, about being alone, dying, not being loved, and not being enough.

I understand now, although often a challenge to bring to fruition, that I need to do two things, as often as possible. First, I need to love myself, first and foremost, as fully and openly as possible. For if I don’t have love for myself, there is no way that I can love, respect, or honor anyone else in my life, friend or stranger.

The other thing that I need to do is to keep remembering that fear exists inside of me. And, although it does not have to rule me, or dictate my actions in the world, I can be aware of it, and face it head on at every turn. There are days when I feel up to that, and days when I don’t. But, the more that I stand in love of who I am, the more often that I celebrate who I see when I look in the mirror, then the softer those fearful voices in my head become.

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The Miracle of Healing.

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Today, I spent much of the day with family and friends of a man that was a beloved father, grandfather, coworker and friend. There were tears and stories and even some smiles and laughter. I got to be in the company of people that I have not seen in some years, and that there has been some intentional space between them and myself. And, yet, we all seemed to come together in a common bond today.

I felt connected, even though our lives have all gone in different directions and many things have changed. Yet, the man that they were there to acknowledge, was also known to me, and loved by me, for many years. And, that connected us. And, whatever else had occurred over the last few years, seemed less significant and no longer relevant as it once was.

It reminded me that even the deepest wounds heal over time. Even when we get hurt so badly that we need stitches, once enough time has passed, the hurt gets better, little by little, and even if it leaves behind a scar, it might not hurt anymore. And, you might not even notice that anything had happened there. You can move freely once again.

I think that emotional wounds, wounds of the heart, are like that also. When people break up, when loved ones die, all of these wounds are deep and painful at first, and seem like the pain will never go away. Then, little by little, it feels better. We might get pissed off that we got hurt in the first place, or give ourselves a hard time for taking a risk and falling, but soon enough, the wounds begin to heal and we realize that it might not be as bad as it once seemed.

I am so grateful for my life right now, and the love that I have in it. I am in awe of what I get to experience in the moments when I am present to them. And, today was also a reminder that miracles do happen, every day, and that old wounds do heal. And, love always lingers where it once lived.

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Leave Nothing Undone.

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For a few weeks now, I have had death on my mind. Mainly because a person in Hannah’s life has been really sick, and passed away last week. It is her first close experiencing with someone that she loves passing away. It is a deep learning time for her, in knowing how grief looks for her, and what she needs to do to heal and go on.

It is a close reminder for me of how much I love this life. I enjoy my family, my friends, and being in my work and my community. I really do find something, usually many things, to be grateful for in every day. And, I know that there are many things that I would still like to do in this life before I leave it.

I believe that we need to leave nothing undone. So, if you want cheesecake, have it. If you love someone, tell them. When we put off doing what it is we truly want to do, but feel too afraid or self conscious to do it, we may not have the same, unique chance to do it again. So, don’t wait.

I think about how hard death is on the living, on those persons who feel left behind by the loved one who has died. How those loved ones wonder maybe how they will go on, what is left for them, what they will do without the person they loved here with them. I wonder myself when I think about those around me that I love, and if they weren’t here with me physically anymore. It is a distinct reminder of how I want to live my life.

Sure, it feels scary sometimes, many times, to face up to my inner fears and be vulnerable. Or to be myself full on in this world. Yet, if I really live true to what I believe, all that I really have is this moment, RIGHT NOW. That is all any one of us has at any given time. And, if that is true, I want to live it to the fullest, enjoy all the nectar that this sweet moment has to offer. And, I want to continue to live a life free of regret and what if’s. So, that is my plan, and I hope yours as well.

Leave NOTHING undone. EVER.

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A Drop in the Ocean.

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Since fairly early in my life, I have had a desire to save the world. I have believed in the most heartfelt way, that I wanted to offer something of myself to others in a way that would be beneficial to them. I have also believed in a world that could, and would, change for the better through my efforts.

Over the years, I have done various jobs and work in the world in order to help facilitate that change, and to save the world, and the people in it, from themselves. I have worked with at risk children in foster care. I have been support to elderly persons who were ill. I have been an advocate for women who were in abusive relationships. And, most recently, I have been assisting in putting a personal face to the names of people with mental health issues, and the treatment that they seek. And, all of those jobs have been daunting ones. There are a lot of people out there who need help and support. A LOT.

There are days when I feel really ineffective, and frustrated with getting people what they need, or frustrated that they don’t want the assistance. I feel like what I have to offer seems like so much, yet what it brings to that person, or the system, is merely a drop in the ocean. It doesn’t make a bit of difference in the whole, big scheme of things.

Then, I remember a couple of key beliefs for me that help. The first one is, that in order to have the world around me change, I only need change myself. For me, that means to be present and in the moment, as often as possible. For me, that means choosing love and peace, rather than fear and disconnect, in every relationship in my life, including those with whom I work.

It also means that I remember what being a drop in the ocean really means. I can look at it as a way to feel really small, and even insignificant, in a world that feels so massive and unreachable. Or, I can remember that we are all that drop in the ocean. We are all unique and universal at the same time. So, that drop in the ocean, IS the ocean.

I don’t know what is going to happen in this world on a big scale. But I do know that I am changing it, by who I am and what I do, in every moment.

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