Losing Everything 6-11-19

You will lose everything. Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memories. Your looks will go. Loved ones will die. Your body will fall apart. Everything that seems permanent is impermanent and will be smashed. Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything that it can strip away. Waking up means facing this reality with open eyes and no longer turning away.

But right now, we stand on sacred and holy ground, for that which will be lost has not yet been lost, and realizing this is the key to unspeakable joy. Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you. This may sound trivial, obvious, like nothing, but really it is the key to everything, the why and how and wherefore of existence. Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone around you so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heartbreaking gratitude. Loss has already transfigured your life into an altar. Jeff Foster

Relapse 4-11-19

March 4th for the past 17 years has been my sobriety anniversary. Every year I celebrate another year of sobriety. This year I didn’t have that opportunity.

Many of you look up to me for being strong. I often hear I’m an inspiration. I’m extremely embarrassed but today I have to be honest with myself and all of you.

Up until last July I have faced my challenges. Often times white knuckling life and often times on my knees praying for god to grant me the strength to get through another day. Last July I had my breaking point. I gave up on myself, god and life in general. I don’t feel the need to share the personal details of what happened but I will say for me it was the last straw. I picked up a bottle. In the beginning my drinking was occasional but by December my drinking had become my only way of coping with the many challenges that life continues to throw my way. What can I say? I relapsed.

Last fall, I somehow managed to get myself in therapy as well as seeing a psychiatrist. It’s no secret. I am battling chronic PTSD. I also succumbed to agreeing to anti depressants. Still I kept drinking. I wasn’t going out or anything like that. In fact, I have to find the humor in the fact that I spent my evenings like a hermit isolated in my room, watching Hallmark, CNN and even Dr Pimple Popper while drinking a glass, or shall I say, a bottle of wine. I am so embarrassed.

Through the grace of God I recognized my downfall. I picked myself up and got my ass to AA. I was not only honest with myself, but honest with the people I love. I didn’t sugar coat it. I owned it. I have owned it ever since.

Today I’m 30 days sober. It sucks to start all over again after 16 1/2 years but I’m sharing because like anyone in sobriety I’m only human. I’m also sharing because I want everyone including myself to recognize relapse happens. The important thing is to recognize it, own it and start doing the work. I am attending AA four nights per week, celebrate recovery one night per week, I see a therapist and a psychiatrist. I also have a life coach.

I owe myself an apology for letting myself down but more importantly I owe the people I love an apology for letting them down too.

Sobriety is hard work. Especially when life throws you a curve ball. Or in my case one curveball after the next. However sobriety is possible if you want it. I want it! I’ll do anything to stay this way including being honest. I’m not always perfect. But who is? One thing about me that those who know me is if I did it, I’ll admit it. Relapse….I did it and I admit it. I recognize it and I’m doing something about it. Thirty days may not seem like a lot after 16 1/2 years but I did it once and I’ll do it again. Thirty days is only the beginning.

With that said I hope that my honesty helps someone struggling today.

Chiquitita 1-7-19

Growing up my dad was a huge fan of the group ABBA. I grew up listening to all of their songs. I’m 53 years old and I still love ABBA. One of my dads favorite songs was Chiquitita. He used to play that song over and over and could sing every lyric. I think of my dad every time I hear that song.

When he passed away, my mother and I cleaned out his pickup. He had several bottles of Stetson cologne and many pictures of me. He even had copies of the ads I created while I was a Marketing Consultant. I remember asking my mom why my dad had so many pictures of me and why did he have so many of my ads. She said “because your dad always thought you were so beautiful and he was so proud of you”. I still get teary eyed thinking about that day when my mother and I cleaned out my dads pickup. In his pickup was also an ABBA cd. My dad had their greatest hits. It was no surprise that he would have that in his pickup. He was ABBAs biggest fan.

My dad and I were very close. In fact, he was not only my dad, but he was my best friend too. He was the rock in my life that was always there for me in the good times and the bad times. When life threw me a curveball, I knew I could always count on my dad to be by my side offering and encouraging the strength I needed to keep moving forward. There was never a challenge too big that I couldn’t overcome. I always knew I had my sidekick who would be by my side every step of the way. I’ll be honest, I’ve been lost without my dad since he passed away. My dad took a piece of not only my heart, but my entire being when he left. I’ve been floundering ever since. I’ve made some horrible choices, I’ve been depressed and any challenge has been just too big for me to handle without my dad by my side. I have found it hard to adjust to life without my side kick. Sadly, I still have a picture of me and my dad on my night stand. I wake up to it every morning.

This past November, depression, anxiety and PTSD finally took its toll. I’ve carried a heavy load for a really long time. Not to mention, I’ve had one trial after another. I’ve tried so hard to keep my head above water but not having my dad by my side to conquer everything has proved to be difficult. I’ve prayed, I’ve sought the help from life coaches, I’ve seen spiritual healers…you name it. I’ve tried it. I finally accepted the advice of my doctors and began taking anti-depressants. I’ll admit, my doctors have encouraged me to take them for the past seven years but I’ve refused. I really believed I would come out of this depression and everything would be ok. I was wrong. Every now and then it doesn’t hurt to get a little help. Even when that help includes an anti depressant and in my case, counseling too. I am not allowing myself to feel like a failure because I had to get a little help. I remind myself this is short term until I get my emotional self back on track. The result is I am feeling better every day. I’m even laughing again. However, I’ll be honest that void of my dad is still missing. I still miss him.

Since my dad passed away I’ve only dreamed of him once. That is, until a couple of weeks ago. I woke up sweating. I had been dreaming about my dad. In my dream, he was so disappointed in me. He was disappointed in a number of things. That disappointment was heart wrenching. When I woke up I knew I had to get my shit together. I had to pick myself up and start living life again.

Yesterday, I was having a hard day. I’ve been dealing with an issue that has weighed heavy on my life as well as emotional health. I’ve been angry at myself for not having the courage to walk away from that situation that has clearly become toxic in my life. I went on my walk and just felt beaten and defeated. I prayed the entire three and a half miles. I found myself praying for clarity, wisdom and strength. I found myself feeling hopeless and gutless. I found myself wishing my dad was here to be by my side offering the courage I need to walk away. Better yet, I found myself wishing my dad was here to just deal with the issue for me. That afternoon I got in my car. I started it and when I did, Chiquitita was on the radio. I immediately thought of my dad. I remembered how much he loved this song. As I listened to the lyrics, it became clear my dad was speaking to me through this song. The lyrics really touched my heart and led me to believe it was my dad reminding me that he was still with me. He was also reminding me of who I am as well as the strength I have to finally let go of the issue and begin to move forward. I couldn’t help but cry my eyes out while driving in my car.

I don’t feel the need to share my challenge tonight. I will share on a later post when I can share I finally got through it. However, I feel the need to share this song as well as the lyrics tonight for anyone going through a tough time. Like the song, I’d like to remind you like the song reminded me, that while you may feel there’s no hope for tomorrow, the sun is still in the sky shining above you. It’s shining above me too. If we sing a new song and try once more, together we will be dancing once again. I can get through anything and believe me when I say, so can you.

Here are the lyrics:

“Chiquitita, tell me what’s wrong
You’re enchained by your own sorrow
In your eyes there is no hope for tomorrow
How I hate to see you like this
There is no way you can deny it
I can see that you’re oh so sad, so quiet

Chiquitita, tell me the truth
I’m a shoulder you can cry on
Your best friend, I’m the one you must rely on
You were always sure of yourself
Now I see you’ve broken a feather
I hope we can patch it up together

Chiquitita, you and I know
How the heartaches come and they go and the scars they’re leaving
You’ll be dancing once again and the pain will end
You will have no time for grieving
Chiquitita, you and I cry
But the sun is still in the sky and shining above you
Let me hear you sing once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita
Try once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita

So the walls came tumbling down
And your love’s a blown out candle
All is gone and it seems too hard to handle
Chiquitita, tell me the truth
There is no way you can deny it
I see that you’re oh so sad, so quiet

Chiquitita, you and I know
How the heartaches come and they go and the scars they’re leaving
You’ll be dancing once again and the pain will end
You will have no time for grieving
Chiquitita, you and I cry
But the sun is still in the sky and shining above you
Let me hear you sing once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita
Try once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita
Try once more like you did before
Sing a new song, Chiquitita

Duck Butts 7-6-18

Duck Butts

BY MADISYN TAYLOR

Next time you see a duck butt, you might be inspired to examine your own ability to both float on the surface and to dive beneath it.

If you are lucky enough to live in a part of the world that is also a home to ducks, you will no doubt be familiar with the image of their cute feathery bottoms sticking up in the air as their heads disappear under the surface of the water. Perhaps you’ve even taken a moment to wonder what they see in their underwater world, and if they will resurface with a fish or a water bug in their beaks. As we observe them, we see that ducks are denizens of three worlds–the world of air, the world of water, and the world of earth. As such, they have adapted themselves to be able to swim, fly, and walk, and they seek and find nourishment in more than one place. They are symbols of versatility and can inspire us to explore our own ability to adapt and find nourishment in a variety of places.

Ducks are able to float, swim, and dive into the water, fishing for food. They can walk on the ground, eating vegetation and bugs, and they fly in the air to travel long distances relatively quickly. Equipped with feet that are equally good at paddling and walking, as well as wings to fly, ducks seem comfortable in just about any natural environment. Next time you see a duck bottom, you might be inspired to examine your own ability to both float on the surface and to dive beneath it. In many traditions, water symbolizes the emotions–to duck our heads into our emotions means we are able to surrender our minds to our hearts, to go into the watery realm of feeling and see what there is to see, often coming to the surface with nourishment and treasure.

At the same time, we share the duck’s ability to get solid ground under our feet by connecting to the earth on which we live simply by walking on it. And finally, when we reside in our spirits, we fly above the mental, emotional, and material realms, free of all the ties that bind us to this earth, traveling faster and farther than we ever thought possible.

The Iwa 5-27-18

There’s a Hawaiian bird called the Iwa. (Pronounced “Eva”) This bird is a very meaningful bird in the Polynesian culture. The Iwa is at times referred to as the “Storm Bird”. The Iwa is 43 inches long. It soars and glides gracefully with a wing span of seven feet. They often travel great distances but rarely soar further than 50 miles from land. This bird has the resilience to withstand storms, even flying for hours and days in its search for food. They are able to travel great distances. They fly offshore even though their feathers are not waterproof. They swoop down in the ocean and snatch their prey using their hook like beaks.

Polynesian fisherman look to these birds while fishing. If the Iwa is flying above them, they know they are in a good fishing area. They also look for the Iwa to find their way back home when they are out at sea.

Often times, like the Iwa, we find ourselves soaring through our own storm. Some of us have the resilience to keep flying and never give up. Others simply throw in the towel and give up. I’m not one of those people. I never give up, even on the days I want to.

There’s a passage in Matthew 6-26. It says:

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they.”

The Iwa doesn’t have waterproof feathers, yet they don’t worry. God always provides. They soar and will fly for days looking for food. If the Iwa doesn’t worry why should we? If God provides for the Iwa, he will certainly provide for you and me.

If you are facing any challenge today, remember the Iwa. Keep flying and never give up.

Today I will soar through all of my trials like the Iwa believing that no matter what, god will always provide.

Maui….My Paradise 5-26-18

I just returned from spending eight days in Maui. I spent the week with my best friend who happens to be my cousin. We had a wonderful time. It’s always fun to hang out with my cousin. We laugh, we eat, we sing….we do everything we did when we were kids. It’s so much fun.

Going to Maui was a blessing. I am so grateful for the opportunity. After all, Maui is not only my favorite place, it’s also my healing place. Something about that “Maui Vibe” always seems to offer a sense of peace and grounding for me. This trip was no different.

Since 2012, I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a total of 15 weeks in Maui. What can I say, I’m truly blessed. My cousin and I spent much time exploring the island as well as enjoying some much needed bonding time on the beach. We even did reiki. We went to Napili Beach. Big Beach, Lahaina, Paia, The beach at Five Palms (my favorite beach and Hana. It was awesome. My last day I took one last walk on the beach and was blessed to see six turtles. Three of them sunbathing. Turtles supposedly represent long life and good luck. I saw six that morning.

Maui is my go to place when I find myself depressed, stressed out or even overwhelmed with this thing called life. I like to meditate on the peace of being on the beach or the sunsets Maui has to offer. My dream would be to live in Maui part time. If I could do that, I would certainly be one happy camper.

This trip to Maui marked a new beginning for me. A new start. I’ve been in a slump for the past seven years. First my dad passed away causing my life to spiral out of control. Add cancer, an abusive boyfriend, financial challenges, family issues to the mix and you have one big pot of crappy goulash. I used the time to focus on letting go, finding forgiveness, healing myself so I could finally toss that goulash that’s existed in my life and move forward.

There’s a Hawaiian bird called the Iwa. This bird is a very meaningful bird in the Polynesian culture. The Iwa is at times referred to as the “Storm Bird”. The Iwa is 43. inches long. It soars and glides gracefully with a wing span of seven feet. They often travel great distances but rarely soar further than 50 miles from land. This bird has the resilience to withstand storms in its search for food and travel great distances. They swoop down in the ocean and snatch their prey using their hook like beaks.

Polynesian fisherman look to these birds while fishing. If the Iwa is flying above them, they know they are in a fishing area. They also look for the Iwa to find their way back home when they are out at sea.

While I was battling cancer, I used to say to myself, “when I overcome this battle, I’m getting a tattoo”. Well I did just that while I was in Maui. If you have ever been to any of the Hawaiian islands you know that many Polynesians have tribal tattoos. What you may not know is the tattoos they wear proudly have meaningful significance to each person wearing them. I went to a local tattoo artist named Sampson. He’s located on Kehei Road in a small shop called Pacific Rootz. We discussed a tattoo that would hold a special meaning in my life. I opted for a small yet significant tattoo of the Iwa. Like the Iwa I have faced many “storms” these past seven years. I’ve soared great miles to find my way “back home”. The Iwa is a reminder for me that whatever life throws at me, I am resilient and will eventually find my way back. I’m at a point in my life where I’m ready to let go of my past and find my way “home” to where the good lord wants me to be. It’s my guess in a much happier space, soaring through life and living life to the fullest.

We all face hardships and trials. Some of us more than others. If you’re like me, at times I feel like God has abandoned me however I’m reminded in Mathew 6-26 that if God provides for the birds he will certainly provide for me. I hope so anyway.

Mathew 6-26 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they.”

I was standing on the sand the last day of my trip enjoying the waves that would come in and cover my feet then would slowly roll back and go back to the ocean. It occurred to me as I stood on the beach that life is like the waves of the ocean. Just like the waves, trials and challenges come in and cover our feet causing us to feel like we are drowning. However, like the waves, our trials slowly but surely head back to where they came from and once again we find ourselves standing on solid ground. Maybe a little “sandy” from all the debris those “waves” left behind but we are standing nonetheless.

The trials I’ve faced these past seven years have been hard. They have caused me so much pain and suffering. I have the scars to prove it. Like the waves, I am beginning to see my feet again. I’m hopeful and I’m happy again. I’m looking forward to enjoying life until the next wave comes in. Until then, like the Iwa, I’ll soar gracefully through this thing called life and keep moving forward towards finding my place and the “home” and the solid ground or land where I need to be.

I’ll leave you today with one of my favorite Outfield tunes. “My Paradise”