WHAT ABOUT ME????

22I am transformed

It is of no surprise to many of you that are reading this that I love giving hugs to complete strangers. For over two years now, I have been standing on the street, in my city and cities around the eastern coast, offering hugs to others, and writing about my experiences. It has been amazing, and I have literally grown an army of like minded individuals local to me who have been offering hugs with me over those two years. I have felt so compelled and inspired by giving hugs to others that I am writing my first published book about my experiences, and even registered The Hugging Army as a nonprofit organization. What a blessing.

Then, a few months ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the presence of Tex Allen, who is the co leader/founder of Hugging America. On the west coast of the country, he and his partner, in crime and in Love, have been offering hugs, smiles, and profound shifts in heart and connection. I have been watching their activities, from Burning Man 2017 to what they have in store for 2018. I have been in awe, and felt inspired even more to keep doing what I am doing.

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Yet, the ever present Ego in me has been actively comparing myself to their beautiful gifts for the last few days. I love their logo. I love their plans to travel. I love that they have one another to support and cheer on as they go forward in this beautiful dream. And, I begin to not only doubt my own way of offering hugs and inspiring others, but begin to judge them for having it “all together”. Like they are treading on my turf, something that I am growing from scratch and is MINE. WHAT ABOUT ME????

As I write this, and read what I am writing, I have a ridiculous smile on my face, because I know I am being ridiculous. Yet, I also know how present, illicit and powerful my Ego can be. How controlling and possessive It can lead me to believe that I Am. It is sneaky, and the more that I am on to It, the more clever it becomes. I have it so cush right now. My life is complete bliss. So, what better time for my Ego to amp up the game and want to get my attention?

The beautiful, magnificent, real Truth of it all is that any offering that any one of us give to this world is amazing. Is magical and spiritual. And, to think that I have to have something, to put my name on, take possession of and call my own, instead of teaming up with beautiful, like minded souls, IS ridiculous. What better way to pass on the Light that lives in me, and show how it lives in all of Us, than by teaming up with those that are already awake? I am astounded at the Truth of that, and humbled by it as well.

The last year of my world has brought many difficult, painful lessons. And, in that time, I could have fallen into deeper sleep in terms of what I am here for and what I want to be inspired by. However, I have used every painful circumstance to become more highly conscious, especially when that is the hardest choice that I could make. And, the beautiful result is, is that I can show my humanness. My flaws. My icky and beautiful stuff. And, that one day very soon, I will be hugging these beautiful humans in 3D. What could be more magical than that? 

16Hugging Meditation

 

 

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Perspective.

 

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I spent a lot of time in nature today. I laid down on large rocks, I walked on trails in the woods, and I breathed deeply in the air of the day. Nature is close by our home and we spend a great deal of time there. Taking the beauty in through all of our senses is a deep, healing experience. And, it helps always to remind me of the freedom that I have to contemplate life and circumstances from a variety of perspectives.

 

I am grateful for knowing that I have a choice. Many persons, including many in my life, do not know or understand that they have a choice in their perspective on the world. Whether they see themselves as a victim, as flawed or defective, as better than or more evolved than others, as only being their life circumstances and nothing else, they cannot see beyond these roles or situations. And, in addition to that, even if they are told that they have a choice to see things differently, they don’t understand that because they don’t believe that it is true.

 

The truth is, life is different depending on the perspective with which you look at it. Today, I lay upon a rock, that was the length and width of my body, and somewhat suspended between other rocks. First, I sat up looking around, and had one view. And, then I lay on my back, and just looked upward, and the view of course was somewhat different. So it is with my life.

 

I have had a boatload of shit that has gone down in my world in the last year. And, I mean, A LOT. Good, bad, sad, frustrating, blessed, and everything in between. And, if I believed in accumulation, of good or bad circumstances, then I would be believing that 2017 was one of the worst years of my life. However, I don’t believe in accumulation of circumstances. I guess because I have stopped believing in past, or future for that matter. I still understand that memories of the past and projections of the future will occur in my life, I don’t take them as seriously as I have before. I now believe that more than anything, the present moment is all that we have. And, I don’t consider that as a point of view; I consider it to be a fact. This, right now in this moment, is all that we ever have.

 

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That reminds me that peace is always in my grasp, if I only just choose it. To look upon a small pine seedling, a pile of leaves crunching under my feet, or clouds that look like cotton streaks in the sky, or the arms of someone whom I have never met hugging me on the street. Those are moments of sweetness, of truth, love and abundance. And I can only fully experience them if I am present, as present as I possibly can be.

 

But, there are times I choose strife, and anxiety, and worry and belief that the past defines me or that the future will save me. And, then I remember that I can always change my perspective, and I remember that this moment is all that needs to grab my attention, and it carries within it every possibility of greatness, beauty, magic and eternity and infinity within it. That is my saving Grace. 

 

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Hugging Heals.

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Life has issued to me some deep challenges in the last few days, in the way of loss. Although I am not a person that typically senses that life accumulates troubles, or that bad things “happen in threes”, I felt a bit overwhelmed and taxed by events recently. And, although how things impact me is always within my own choice and control, I felt spent. I felt like I had enough. 

 

In the span of four days, my beloved Hug Bug 1998 VW Beetle broke down 700 miles from my home; my wife’s sister died unexpectedly; and our cars were broken into and my work computer was stolen from my car. By Thursday, I felt tired, discouraged, and like I wanted to hide away in my home, under a blanket, and forget about everyone and everything. I had enough.

 

However, I am so grateful to have within me the gift of sight, the gift of awareness. I express gratitude for awareness daily, because without it, I see myself as a person in pain with no way to relieve it. With awareness, I can accept that I am in pain as it is, and love myself in spite of that. In addition, I can see another option to relieve the pain, or to accept things as they are. I have learned deeply about surrender, acceptance, and presence. 

 

This weekend, here in Scranton, is The Scranton Fringe Festival. I participated last year, talking about The Hugging Army, and this year was to have two shows again to tell stories, share photographs, and instruct people on mindful hugging. As my first show approached, my level of enthusiasm was diminished, because I was focused on the loss and sadness that I felt. However, once again, awareness assisted me in seeing things another way.

 

You see, when I first began offering free hugs in my community, I saw it as just that: an offering to others. A giving to them what I believed that they needed or desired. After hugging strangers for two years, however, I deeply understood that I was also receiving something in return, with every hug that I received, and even with those that I didn’t. I was gifted ten fold. A part of me wanted to feel selfish for wanting to receive that gift. Yet, being honest about that, and also understanding that the mutuality of the hug itself has deep healing powers, I saw the opportunity in sharing it with others. I get every hug that I offer to people. Plain and simple.

 

And, I offered and received many hugs so far this weekend. And, in those hugs, I cried, I breathed deeply, and was present to what I was giving and what I was receiving, right into my heart center. I felt what hurt so intensely was healing, slowly and methodically, through the exchange of deep love, presence and respect. I understood, yet again, the importance of what hugs do in the world, for myself and for others. 

 

I am not always sure why this became my path. Yet I know more and more each day why I will continue upon it. Why hugs are so important. And why my modeling of that opens me, and others, to a new way of being. 

 

16Hugging Meditation

My Purpose is Peace.

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I receive daily emails from a woman who has been a spiritual seeker and leader for years now. She has followed and studied under don Miguel Ruiz, writer of the Four Agreements. Whatever the subject of the daily reminder, I find it relevant and always timely with what is happening in my world. One of this week’s reminders was no exception. She wrote about having a life’s purpose, and how it is that we know what our purpose is. She invited readers to think about one word that they would choose to best describe their overall purpose in life, and in the world.

 

I thought about it for quite some time. At first, I thought of words that are often in my daily lessons: Forgiveness. Love. Inspiration. Yet, the one that came to me, that makes the most sense, is Peace. Peace is my Purpose.

 

From my perspective, if I do not start from a peaceful center, the rest of what I will encounter and experience makes no difference. I will either be judging it, resenting it, avoiding it, embracing it, depending on where my mood scale is at. If I am in fear, then I will most definitely choose judgment and being a victim more consistently. And, even though I encounter feelings of fear frequently on most days, I know that I always have another choice: I always have the choice to come back to a Peaceful center within myself.

 

Choosing Peace is not always easy. I have been experiencing some interesting, drastic changes in some of my relationships, particularly with members of my family. Changes to the structure more than anything. And, I have at times, felt very dramatic, upset, depressed, tearful and discouraged about them. I even have embraced being the Victim to the “circumstances” around me that are “out of my control”. However, in the last few months, I have consciously and deliberately chosen to get off of the Drama Rollercoaster, and instead, embrace Peace that is always with me.

 

We all have the ability to choose it; we just forget. The more gentle and forgiving that we can be with ourselves, about our not remembering, the more loving that is. I am not perfect, and I no longer strive for perfection (most of the time anyway!). However, if I focus on what makes me feel really good, then I choose differently than when I want chaos or discouragement.
When I begin with a purpose of Peace, everything else falls into place. My day is more fulfilling and joyful; my surroundings are pleasing no matter what is happening; and I am willing to accept the world around me just as it is, without expectation and room for disappointment or judgment. When I begin with Peace, everything is a gift.

 

A gift that I want to consciously keep giving myself, every day.

 

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Notice the Fireflies.

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I recently began as a volunteer with my local hospice organization. Persons that are referred for hospice services are presumed to have six months or less to live. Hospice services assist with their medical needs, social work needs, or provide companionship and emotional support. My interest in becoming involved with hospice is my own interest in death, dying, and assisting those that are close to death in making their transition. I will be a guardian angel for them, sitting vigil in the last few hours and days of breath. It is not a career, as much as it is an inspired calling for me right now. 

 

With the training that I received this week, and meeting the first person that I have been paired with, I feel completely at ease being where I am. And, I find myself being even more acutely aware of the present moment, and the importance of that. You see, the present moment is all that we ever have, even though it feels like our lives are based on past and future the majority of the time. The truth is, the past is merely a memory trace, and the future is just an anticipated outcome, that may or may not come to be.  Yet, that is often how we define ourselves and establish our identity in the world. 

 

For persons that are dying, especially those that are actively dying at a relatively young age, there is no more planning for far into the future; the reality is, that they have fewer breaths remaining than they had planned on or hoped for. So, presence of what is in their now, and appreciating everything that they have in their lives becomes of more critical importance. However, it is a reminder that could serve all of us in a meaningful way. 

 

I read, listen to, and remind myself daily of the importance of present moment awareness, in accepting things as they are, and choosing peace over conflict, judgment, regret or anticipation. It takes daily reminding for me to remember the importance of it, believe me. Yet, I am amazed at the details that I get to immerse myself in when I pause long enough from my agenda ridden life, and pay attention to what is happening right now.  

 

Gift yourself with the celebration of the present moment. Enjoy the symphony of birds in the morning as you awaken. Watch the puffy, changing clouds from your car on your drive to work. Breathe deeply in between the bites of your meal. And, don’t forget to notice the fireflies that glow with such mystery in your backyard. The moments deserve our full attention. 

 

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