Friday, August 31, 2012

You Are Never Forgotten

I feel much impressed to write this post though it proves intensely personal.  In writing thus I might have titled it a plethora of things but found this the most important point of the story.  It is a story of a small but exceedingly powerful miracle in my life.

Some time ago my father allowed me to read his journal.  It is filled with powerful testimonies of God and spiritual experiences.  But there was one passage that particularly stood out to me.  I was at the time feeling rather insignificant and forgotten and there was something irking me that I couldn't quite define.  I read almost sullenly at first but came eventually to a passage that caught my attention.  Almost as an aside, he wrote that his four year old daughter Michelle (me) had woken up crying and he had put her back to sleep.  In the very next breath he went on to relate for the first time in his journal a health issue he had as a child which involved having terrible seizures.  It seemed as he was reflecting on things without any rhyme or reason to his train of thoughts but the juxtaposition hit me like a ton of bricks.  He could not have known at the time that over twenty years later I would become ill and endure over 1, 000 horrifying seizures myself. 

I felt an incredible peace wrap around me as if to give me the conviction that long before the traumatic events of my life led to this condition God knew it would happen, that it was part of His plan for me and that all would turn out well.  I felt that though my father didn't know it himself he had served as an instrument many years before for God to bring me comfort and to teach me He had never forsaken me.  For the first time since the seizures began I felt that God had planned for me to have this illness and that there were defined purposes to my unspeakable anguish, though I still do not understand fully what all those purposes might be.   I had known that all trials have their spiritual reasons and that God was at the helm but I suppose in that particular respect had, due to my weariness, felt myself abandoned.  My friends, we are never forgotten.  In the pain of our trials we are never truly left alone. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Make Yourself Unforgettable

No one wants to be that person described as "out of sight, out of mind."  I have spent some time contemplating what those people who I have dubbed unforgettable in my own life have had in common.  I was rather surprised to find the answer.  Those who were most memorable were those who kindly taught me something about life, whether directly or otherwise.

For example, I had a yoga teacher whose class I attended with some level of frequency.  I was in dire straits at the time in attempting to wade through amnesia, trauma, illness and a profound amount of personal stress.  He initiated our conversations and I told him I suffered from trauma.  He taught me how to use yoga to lessen psychological pain.  Our friendship eventually ended on an extremely unharmonious chord but years after the fact I still employ what he taught me on a daily basis and as frustrated as I might have been with some of his behavior, I can never deny the fact that my life is richer and happier because he was in it. 

I might relate dozens of such experiences but the underlying point remains that when we live our lives so that others are blessed by knowing us, we make ourselves unforgettable.  Relationships, friendships, and even familial relations come to difficult ends sometimes.  We cannot know the future.  But we can live each day of our lives in kindness, seeking to better the lives of those around us and by so doing etch our names and deeds into their hearts so profoundly that neither argument nor time can erase it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Did We Exist Before Birth?

Although Mormonism teaches that we existed before our entrance into this life and lived in the presence of God, no one ever really taught me that fact.  It was something I always intrinsically knew and when my parents taught me the established doctrine at a remarkably young age I remember thinking "Well of course.  Why are we restating the obvious?"  I had already been well acquainted with that fact.

How do I know this?  Some things just follow you and I have always felt, even to an agonizing degree, that this life is a hollow emptiness in comparison with a life we knew before.  I spent many hours weeping into my pillow from my childhood on for longing of a home that I knew and could almost remember.  I knew that something was missing from life and that something could not be restored while my body drew mortal breath. 

My friends, this life is wholly insignificant except as a learning tool and proving ground.  All those things we hold as so precious as pertaining to things of this world melts into oblivion when compared to even a hint of our rightful homes.  I have never been much of one to wear jewelry or dress in a manner consistent with my rather high financial status because I so tremendously feel an aversion to worshipping the dead and empty treasures of this slumbering world.  We are used to glories beyond human comprehension.  Let us reach upward toward our past.   

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jane Austen and Other Disobedient People

I have long harbored a passion for the nineteenth century authors.  There is something very powerful and beautiful about a group of people who for the most part have something rather profoundly in common.  Many of them lay aside what might have been easily acceptable by society and followed their own hearts.  Austen was a writer when women were generally treated as harlots for entering such an activity.  Dickens is another of my favorites and starkly discussed with soul splitting beauty the faults of his society, reaching toward others to correct them and embrace a greater depth of common humanity.  The same century gives us Harriet Beecher Stowe who dared preach in literary rivers of blood and in great measure inspired the Civil War.  Emerson fathered the transcendentalists and inspired a purer, cleaner way of life.

That is my kind of disobedience.  I am sitting here in a public library gazing at the stacks of borderline pornographic covers of trashy romances and mind numbing "fluffy" reads.  Is this really how we want to spend our time, our focus, and eventually our lives?  Thoreau went to live in the woods to discover what was real about life and to teach what is necessary for survival.  The whole of his work teaches us to focus on those things that matter most.  What are we on this earth to do if not to progress and learn the greatest truths we can? 

The nineteenth century was filled with minds who looked beyond the obvious.  Austen, the ultimate romantic writer, looked past the momentary frivolousness of lust and described passionate, undying, selfless love.  How do we spend our time?  Do we look beyond what is immediately before us?  Do we search a little further?  Do we put away our momentary inclinations in pursuit of higher laws and ways of life?  Join with me and our beloved friends of the past in proving wildly and rightly disobedient. 

When Mountains Speak

When I was eleven my parents moved to the foothills of a mountain and I spent much of my adolescence running, hiding, playing and exploring along a rocky, dry wash and climbing hand over hand cliffs and rock formations.  I recently had the opportunity to do so again as an adult.  I started out and after a short exercise my feet remembered the steps quite well.  I visited my old favorite haunt which consisted of a bed made of rock and a massive stone overshadowing it, looking like it is about to fall and crush the person underneath.  It is secluded and shady, and afforded me many hours of repose and study.

From this convenient resting place I have often climbed hand over hand the steep mountain face, braving moving stones under my feet and jumping cactus at my hands until I reach a high massive rock that overlooks the entire Tucson valley.  It's a breathtaking view and I have often brought my journal and deeper thoughts to that ridge.  Luckily it is easier on the way down. 

I could fill volumes, I fancy, with the lessons I have learned and pondered there.  One of the most lasting and profound is coming to the understanding that all things have life in them.  The earth itself has a soul, beautiful and eternal, just as we have.  Passion exists everywhere, even in the least likely corners and crannies of life.  We can find it if we take the time and submit to the quietude.  There is a great power in nature that can teach us profound truths if we will look for them.  I have found a great many, because when the mountains speak, I listen.

Monday, August 20, 2012

FYI: You're Sexier Than You Think

One of the most informative series of experiences I had in logging out was in discovering things about my own physique.  This may sound strange but bear with me.  After my mind became used to the slower pace of life I opened up my email inbox and found a sexy advertisement staring at me featuring the back of a scantily clad woman from the waist to the knee.  My mind, working at a slower pace than usual, began breaking down the image before me.  The first thing I felt was that because I was not dressed the same way and flaunting myself I must be terribly unattractive.  It caused a deep though fleeting sense of shame for dressing as modestly as I do.  I caught myself and shook off the impression but was astonished to find that this is probably what happens to women when they view these things, whether they realize it or not.

I should add that I am not one to think myself wholly disgusting.  I have peace in my manner of dress though it be not the most fashionable or perfectly in vogue this season.  I dress well, modestly, and decently and was not consciously aware of any kind of perceived worthlessness in myself because of it.  The second experience was at the gym.  My mind being sharper and my senses more acute by this time I began practicing yoga in front of a mirror.  Upon pulling up the legs of my pants I found to my shock a great deal more muscle tone than I thought I had.  In spite of years of salsa and weight lifting I hadn't realized that my physique had gained much from it.  My mind was always engaged more in facebook statuses and the like and I realized that I had spent much of my life not seeing simple things that had always been before me.   

I think we might safely apply these concepts to everyone.  When we are constantly surrounded by images of supermodels, many of them wholly fake or airbrushed, we subconsciously think we are somehow less.  We do not stop to recognize that we are gorgeous just the way we are.  Appreciate yourself.  You are the best person at being yourself and you never have to compete with anyone else.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

If You Can't Beat 'Em...

Some days ago I was engaged in trying to manage my very rowdy kids and keep the house clean.  They were being thoroughly unhelpful, resisting all pleas to common decency and I was up to my limit.  Patience had abandoned me, my nerves were in shreds and I had had quite enough.  I sank into the couch which afforded a view out my very large great room windows onto the back porch.  When I looked up I saw my children playing in their kiddie pool and splashing dirty water all over said windows.  What to do?  I did of course the only natural thing possible.

I grabbed my camera and sat outside taking pictures of my little monkeys destroying my clean windows and rough housing in the pool.  Before I knew it I was laughing and admiring my children's beauty and happiness.  I appreciated their glee in splashing each other unmercifully and found their combined antics heartwarming.  Being altogether too tired to rush inside for their beach towels I let them air dry in the Arizona sun when they had wearied of the pool.

Sometimes it isn't the unfair life that is the problem.  Sometimes it is our perspectives and priorities.  Sometimes we just need to let go and allow life to happen.  Sometimes the answer is letting life teach us rather than our trying to control it.  Sometimes what our souls really need is hysterical laughter and dirty windows. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

And Blessings Shall Rain Down Upon You

I love to watch the sky grow dark just before a desert storm.  There are few things in this world as beautiful and welcome as rain on scorched earth.  Arizona bakes under the merciless and sometimes fatal summer sun for months before it begins to see the yearly promise of flooding monsoons.  It seems as though God created this miserable kind of climate in order to teach his children to pray and look heavenward in expectation.

And soon the wind picks up and howls through tree branches, whipping around saguaros and creating dust devils out of dry sand.  The smell of mercy wafts toward you and finally the precipitation begins to fall.  I have often watched as blessings literally shower down from heaven, drop by drop.  It seems like the entire world relaxes and all your faith during the parched summer months has not been in vain. 

My friends, there is a God in heaven.  He does answer prayers.  Even when we feel like our pleas go unanswered and trials beat down upon us like an Arizona sun the day of peace and retribution will eventually come.  Never lose faith in miracles and remember that when you feel the most burned, dry, brittle, and exhausted the rainclouds of mercy are right around the corner.

Inside the Mind of an Abusive Person

Having worked with people who have proven guilty of utmost cruelty and helped them turn their lives around for the better, I have had a very unique kind of view inside the mind of people who abuse others.  The mind of an abusive person is indeed a frightening place.  It is as frightening as the pain they inflict. 

One of the people with whom I worked quite closely was bipolar and took no medication.  He also harbored wrenching addictions that affected his behavior toward himself and others.  Another I have known quite well harbored a strange delight in harming others so as to make himself feel better.  What would it be like if you could climb inside their thinking?  Truthfully, they act out what they are thinking.  The bipolar person felt always that his life was riding a moving platform that kept shifting under his feet.  This made him honestly feel that life was constantly against him and that he had to harm and destroy in order to keep the boat from tipping over as it were.  When he began to break through his addictions his abusive behavior worsened because his typical venue of releasing the stress of life disappeared and he felt the need to control, destroy and distort someone in order for him to feel a sense of power in his state of powerlessness.  The other I believe has acted out of a supressed anger.  He felt himself low and unloved and felt that he could give himself a way to feel powerful and happier by destroying the people around him. 

Honestly, I cannot help but feel some pity for them.  That doesn't excuse their actions and it shouldn't allow their actions to continue.  Often the best thing that one can do for an abusive person is to deny them the opportunity.  They will have to straighten up if they want a peaceful life.  And really, that is what most of them want.  They want peace, but have no idea how to find it.  Protect the victim.  Get them away from their aggressor and reassure them that they do not need to look back.  But take a minute and also mercifully pray for the abuser, for he or she lives in a constant state of hell.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Never Give Up

A shipwrecked mariner finding the only tangible life upon which his hand ever laid destroyed and himself struggling on a tempestuous sea fights and swims guided by God given starlight toward an unchartered continent.  He knows not where his destination lies nor how far he must thrash against the implacable force of Davy Jones but though thirst becomes his daily lot and the muscle fibers ache and burn from superhuman exertion he clings to the mercy of He who created the earth and all the peace and difficulties therein.  Driftwood occasionally meets his wearied limbs and he finds mild hope of repose in brief and well earned snatches but every time the wood eventually crumbles and the fathoms claim him again.

Years pass and though the water is deeper it becomes more mild and though shoreline still remains beyond sight or sign his body has become powerful and more capable of overcoming the physical strain and his faith proves more profound than the ocean beneath his muscle clad frame.

Late in the ebony of a starless night he raises his head from his salty prison and glimpses finally the distant miracle of a lighthouse.  The sand disturbs his astonished feet and he stumbles forward, uncertain how to maintain a vertical position and in a dreamlike trance he finds the erstwhile agonizing waves pushing him toward safety and a relaxation he had quite forgotten.  Dizziness overcomes his senses and with his last stream of consciousness he steps upon dry land.

Bright aurora stirs him with her gentle soothing warmth and recalls him not only from slumber but the walking death of his former life.  His vision clears at last to reveal a multitude crowding his form, which in awe of his physique, passionate inner strength, unshakable faith and unimpeachable wisdom, kneel at his feet and name him their king.

Chickens Don't Make Good Friends

I have often observed the hen pecking in life.  A person is injured or down and suddenly they find themselves surrounded by a whole flock of nit picking, nay saying, mindless foul creatures, finding fault with the person's actions and creating hypothetical situations in which he or she would still be a failure.  I have certainly endured much of this kind of verbal abuse in my lifetime in various ways and have at long last found a way to root my way out of the hen pecking crowd.

The only way we can disentangle ourselves from a flock of nay sayers is simply to stand taller even when in the midst of them.  This often requires us to take a great deal of quiet time to ourselves in order to sort out the truth about ourselves from the irrational behavior of others.  It also requires that we know our own business well and be relatively self reliant.  A nay sayer can't make much of a case if we know our own stance and can stand our ground, yes?  And when we are too exhausted, down, upset, or the like to be on our games, the next best option, and it is a powerful one, is to stand tall (literally) and walk like we own the place.  That immediately places nay sayers into a strange psychological state.  They cannot see our hearts; they only see someone who acts the part of a demigod among men and they will automatically treat said demigod accordingly.

I have been in situations where those who might have been inclined to think ill of me have not only turned to so called adoring fans but have allowed me to teach them that we ought to treat all people as children of God.  If we want to fight evil in the world and convert it into goodness, that might be a crucial area in which to start.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Creativity: A Spiritual Matter

You and I are children of eternity.  We are vessels of power and light.  And we are made of the same intelligence that formed this universe and possibly others just like it.  I cannot believe that any person can prove altogether "uncreative."  I have heard people I love dearly consider themselves as uncreative.  I hardly think so.  One of them was a mother.  For goodness sake, she created two humans!  Have you ever cleaned a room or organized a closet?  Well then, did you not create order in the place of chaos?  What are you wearing?  Did you not craft an outfit based on what you saw in stores et cetera? 

I do not often post my poetry on this blog but I do write it at various times according to my inclination.  I have written poetry since I was eight and I find myself sometimes, and usually when penning a particularly good piece, finding myself only an observer of something that seems to come from a higher source.  Often it seems that I could walk out of the room and the pen would keep scribbling on its own.  Were you to ask me who wrote it I would have to confusedly say that I did because I was the only one in the room at the time and happened to be holding the pen.  But the words often come of themselves and I sometimes reread my work only to wonder how the poem came to be, for it surely did not arise from my own personal genius. 

There is a Higher Light that works through us sometimes.  This Higher Power works through you, perhaps not in poetry but perhaps in more important ways.  Are you able to create comfort for a weeping child?  And is that not a greater talent than rhyming words and pounding out rhythm?  Are you able to create a moment of happiness in the life of a lonely widow?  Can you not create a moment of peace and joy for yourself?  I hope that we all realize the creativity within us and use it to brighten and uplift each other, that we might grow in love and appreciation toward all.

Fall in Love...With Yourself!

In a world where relationships tend to crumble at an alarming rate, I have been led to think frequently what this society would be like if we first fell in love with ourselves and focused on ourselves before we indulged the desire or need to find a partner.  It would require we alter our thinking regarding relationships altogether for the most part so that instead of finding the person to help and aid you through life you would be standing on your own feet and finding the person with whom you would wish to share joy and create a life of beauty greater than either you or they could create alone.

So let's take that perspective and run with it.  Suddenly a great many hinderances to happiness would disappear.  We would not prove the weepy, clingy, needy people we sometimes might be and we would also enjoy the lack of a demanding, jealous cling on.  If both people value themselves and by choice make a pair then they both ought to be confident in their mutual associations. 

It simply stands to reason that if we love ourselves we will not wish to tarnish our honor with such vile things as cheating, contention, selfishness or greed.  We would have happiness within ourselves instead of demanding someone else make us so.  We would recognize that life's trials are not things to be feared but embraced in a spirit of gratitude.  We would find glory in facing them and coming out conquerer.  No man would be able to inflict emotional pain in us because we would be fortified by our own self love and respect.  So come, my friends.  Let's all fall in love...with ourselves!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lose Your Senses

I have long studied various ways and means to relax the body and the mind.  Having severe post traumatic stress this has been quite necessary for my ability to function and even my survival.  While there are countless manners of relaxing I think one of the most powerful that everyone can do and no one need move too far from their typical way of life is to slow down and utilize only one sense at a time. 

Consider the peace of turning off the lights in a room and turning on some relaxing music.  Close your eyes, breathe deeply and slowly and let the music flow through your mind.  Let it open the tension locked inside your head.  Or perhaps sitting down to a meal?  Take slow bites, chew your food, and enjoy the taste fully.  Enjoy the feeling of the food or drink in your mouth.  Enjoy the act of swallowing and the satisfaction of a contented stomach.  Accept with pleasure the knowledge that this food is giving strength and energy to your body.

When we do this, we increase our abilities to overcome trouble, think through difficult problems and the like.  We become empowered over the chaos and quick moving events of the day.  When we give ourselves permission to slow down we find that never needed to spend our days running in the first place.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Michelle is Back - With New Insights

It has been a profound and beautiful time away from the greater internet world.  I left to learn in a different way, to silence my thoughts, come closer to nature, and gain deeper perspectives on life.  Goodness sake, have I ever found new perspectives!  Within 24 hours my journal was brimming with new concepts and understanding of many things I had taken for granted before. 

As a brief example of this, I found my senses actually sharpened themselves almost immediately.  My vision was clearer, my hearing much more acute and my appreciation of life so much greater.  I felt as though I was waking up and viewing a greater world than I had remembered existed.  I looked across the horizon driving to work and seemed to see for the first time the majestic Arizona mountains.  At a red light I fell to pondering the life of a construction worker I saw at the side of the road.  There were lessons in the breeze, in the sunlight and these new understandings pertained to every aspect of our lives whether social, political, spiritual or any other you might imagine. 

So I have decided to do my dear readers a favor.  I have written already over 30 posts, finished and wholly complete.  But for the sake of my readers, I will post every other day and also continue, as I have, to refrain from posting on Sundays.  I do not wish to do you, my gentle reader, a disservice by creating too fast paced a temptation to bring you back online.  So take a day and throw your smart phone out the window.  Take a bike ride, go hiking, listen to the birds, read a book, or do something else that intrigues you and that requires you to log out.