Mental health, Spirituality

Keeping love alive

Does anybody have a “love hangover” today, the day after Valentine’s Day? I must admit to feeling some aftershocks from being shown so much love yesterday. From the moment I opened my eyes until the moments before I closed them, love was surrounding me and encompassing me in its warmth and glory. Yesterday was a magical day for giving and receiving love from my friends, family and even my customers at the store. Of course my fiance stepped up his game too by making me feel special, very appreciated and of course loved yesterday as we celebrated Valentine’s Day together. All in all I had awesome day!

I know I have written this before in previous blog posts but I must emphasize it again here. My mission in life is to always spread love and kindness to all I encounter along this journey called life. Especially those who need it the most, the downtrodden, forgotten amongst our society. Those who are homeless are a good example of this. I observe those folks getting treated and judged so poorly on a daily basis, it breaks my heart.

I have a confession to make here. About two years ago, my fiance and I found ourselves without a secure living situation. We were homeless for about three months while we lived in our car. We showered at our local YMCA, ate at food pantries and sometimes slept overnight on the beach. It wasn’t easy and the only positive part of it is that at least we were together. I can’t imagine having to bear that time alone on the streets by myself. Some days were better than others. Some days I was so terribly sad and depressed not knowing where we were going to end up and how we were going to rise out of the terrible spot we felt stuck in. Our cell service was cut off too so we became experts at finding and utilizing free WiFi in order to stay in touch with our loved ones.

I have seen life from different angles and perspectives. My experiences have shaped me into the woman I am today. I take nothing for granted and try to be as grateful for everything I have today as I possibly can be on a daily basis. Anything can happen at anytime that can shift one’s world, turning everything upside down. Believe me dear readers, I am living proof of it!

I like to tell others when describing my life that I have lived a few different lives during my lifetime so far these 41 years. My family owned a car dealership while I was growing up and we enjoyed an upper middle class lifestyle. Then while I was married, my ex-husband was a hardworking blue collar type of guy who usually worked more than one job which afforded me the ability to be a stay at home mother for ten years while my boys were little. Then I went through my divorce and found myself working three jobs to try and survive. As I began having nervous breakdowns that required me to be hospitalized so many times I found myself homeless for the 1st time. I couldn’t afford my rental house because I had lost all of my jobs one by one so I was offered a friend’s couch to sleep on. That experience was extremely humbling, complicated and difficult.

It took me years to rebuild my life after going through so much loss. I have a keen awareness of how much grief and loss can affect a person’s outlook in life. I was basically just trying to survive everyday, I was definitely not thriving. It has taken years of intensive treatment, therapy, healing and rivers of tears to get me to where I am today.

There is not one day that goes by that I don’t pause, allow myself some quiet time to sit and reflect on my past. I whisper Thank you God for keeping me going forward, pushing me even a millimeter more when I wanted to give up. For allowing some wonderful people to come into my life and inspire me to want to do better. For guiding me through the darkness until I could see just a small speck of light. For keeping my faith, hope and belief alive enough so I never quit. There were a few times I did consider ending it all. I thought those who loved me would be better off without the burden of worrying about me, the pain of the disappointment I felt I had become.

Yes dear readers, I have expierienced some very dark days. I have also had the pleasure of feeling some truly amazing moments too. I am grateful for all of it. Without the dark one cannot appreciate the light. Hold on tight to those you love and tell them how you feel. Don’t judge others for there but the grace of God go any of us. Be kind always and act as if God himself is always watching you (because he is) In the end life is short. Love is all that matters. Spread it generously to all everyday and keep love ALIVE๐Ÿ’–

Mental health, Spirituality

Attempting to define patience

I usually feel this way every year at this time. I must admit this year, the feelings are all a little extra. Early January’s weather is partly to blame for this unease. So many truly amazing events are closely on the horizon to take place for me. My heart is beating a little faster and many thoughts are racing quickly through my mind. All of this definitely affects my creative juices as well and I feel I’ve been neglecting my writing. This is the perfect time to try and process it all…. so here it goes.

Early next month I will finally get to see and hug my oldest son! This is a major event over two and a half years in the making. So many intense emotions weigh on my heart. Mostly excitement but also a bit of anxiety which is an emotion I must constantly address daily. I have been so preoccupied with my new position at work that I have had to keep everything going on inside me at bay by doing some extra meditation and light therapy sessions. I have this reoccurring daydream of me running down that long airport gate hallway towards my boy and him picking me up in a tight embrace while tears of joy run down my cheeks. This vision keeps me moving forward yet does little in maintaining my patience for that day to arrive!

I looked up the meaning of patience. The word is defined as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset“. Over these last two and a half years, I can admit to mastering the acceptance part. The not allowing anger or frustration part has proven more challenging. Anger is not something I have ever felt comfortable expressing and I still struggle with how to release it in a healthy way. I usually stuff it down deep and it will eventually come out indirectly at inopportune times. Mostly hurting only me but sometimes those closest to me, as is natural for everybody. I have always taken this emotion out on myself and blame myself for my role in creating the anger in the first place.

In the circumstances dealing with my boys absence from my life, I view it very differently. I know in my heart I have done everything I could to maintain our relationship. The blame falls squarely on my ex-husband’s shoulders and at some point in life he will reap what he has sown. Intellectually I understand that I have no control over him or what he does. My heart still breaks because I still haven’t been able to speak to my youngest son. All I have control over is how I respond to all of this. I must employ patience and also hope in order to survive this heart ache.

Good things do definitely come to those that can wait. Like Nietzsche said, โ€œThat which does not kill us, makes us stronger.โ€ My life is a living testimonial to this truth. All I have endured has most definitely made me a much stronger person. This too shall pass and the rewards on the flip side will be magnificent I am sure.

I also have another major project in the works that should by the end of this month come to fruition. The hard work, energy expelled and time I have given to this endeavor is about to pay off quite handsomely. My fiance and I are on the brink of some major life changes in a super positive way financially if all goes according to plan. All the sacrifices and struggles these past three years will have been worth it when we get to finally taste success.

In the meantime, these next three weeks are crucially important. I must maintain my patience, hope and faith. My first step in achieving this is to focus on my gratitude by waking up each day and saying thank you to God. At the end of each day I allow myself some quiet time to again say thank you God. My understanding of spirituality has grown tremendously during these past seven years and I will never forget what got me to this point. My belief and faith in a higher power that governs us all. The lessons that God put in front of me to learn from are priceless. By walking this path, guided by hope, I have almost reached the other side and I finally see that light at the end of this dark tunnel.

Events and circumstances such as mine have the potential to harden a person, making them bitter. As for me it has produced only a stronger resolve in my faith and gratitude. I lead by kindness and love because I know what hate does. I refuse to let anything that happens to me change who I am in my core. I am a healer, a lover and a friend to all. Learning to have patience has been and will continue to be a wonderful gift from our creator. Namaste my dear readers โœŒ

Spirituality

All about energy

Many of my posts on this blog are about my interpretations of spirituality and energy. I recently wrote a poem entitled, “Energy flows” describing exactly how this phenomenon works. I’m always amazed by how karma occurs and plays out in real life. Recently I have been feeling on top of the world in most areas of my life but yesterday life threw me a curve ball and I’ve been scratching my head about what it means. I bet my dear readers can relate.

I overheard a conversation that I don’t believe I was intended to hear. It caught me off guard because it was very cruel and about me. I’d like to believe this person didn’t know I was there and was talking freely behind my back. The problem is I heard it all, now I know this person’s true feelings about me and I feel awful. I’m unsure what caused this person to say such hateful things about me and in order to avoid a confrontation, I now have to change my routine to stay away from this person. I’m so uncomfortable and upset over this. I know that when somebody reveals their true colors I should believe them but I’m very perplexed over it. It doesn’t make sense and all I have been doing is replaying the hatefulness over and over again in my mind. I know that it changes nothing and keeps me feeling badly.

Hate and cruelty towards people sometimes has its roots in jealousy which is what I suspect in this instance. Women can be so overly competitive with each other and so petty. I have been through too much over these last several years to act in a fake and phony way. Wearing masks was something I did in the past to cope. I can no longer employ that tactic in life because it doesn’t work for me any longer. I believe in myself now and I honor that by always being genuine. Yet this situation is pulling me into a gray area. I live by some standards now in life that I feel very strongly about. In regards to this situation I refuse to treat this person as they have treated me. Hence why I am so uncomfortable today.

Instead I am choosing to be quiet about it, pray and reflect. I don’t wish anybody any harm and I live by my ability to show kindness, ALWAYS. I’m admitting here that however I feel about my previous statement, I am struggling with how to correctly handle this in order to move forward. I want to get to a place of forgiveness but unfortunately, I’m not there yet. Not even a little bit.

One of my favorite books on life is by Don Miguel Ruiz entitled, “The Four Agreements”. In it Mr. Ruiz outlines the four principles to live by in order to have peace within oneself:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

By adhering to these principles, I know I shouldn’t be taking any of what was said about me personally. In this case it is truly challenging because it IS about me. Intellectually, I also understand that this person is probably projecting their own feelings upon me. It is something I used to deal with regularly from my own mother. She was so uncomfortable in her own skin that she would project those unsettling feelings about herself onto myself, my siblings and our father. When I was younger, I would soak it all up and internalize those feelings about myself in a destructive way. I would beat myself up, doubt myself, employing self hatred etc. It was ugly and left me feeling worthless and empty.

The quote that next springs to my mind is by Maya Angelou.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” “The question is not how to survive, but how to thrive with passion, compassion, humor and style.” “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

She really hit the nail on the head with those words! I’m also reminded of this quote by Ms. Angelou,
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude“.

In regards to my situation I know my only choice is to forgive and change my own attitude about dealing with this person.

Upon reflecting about all of this I must admit I’m beginning to feel a bit better. That’s what writing provides me. It allows me a positive way to process and heal emotionally. I’m so grateful for this outlet and I thank you my dear readers for coming along with me on this journey.

Tell me, how do you handle stress caused by other’s opinions about you? Please comment below or send me an email privately at mariaswan1209@yahoo.com

Here is my poem…..

Peace, love and light to you allโœŒ๐Ÿ’–

P.S.

I highly recommend reading “The Four Agreements.” I received it as a gift about fifteen years ago and I reread it often to remind myself of its message. It gave me such a great perspective on life’s struggles in relationships and I gained so much insight.

Spirituality

Here to heal

Last evening I had an ephiany and I woke up determined to write this post about it. I came to the conclusion years ago of what my purpose is in this life. It’s extremely important, vital really to understand your purpose in this world. In the midst of my struggles, woes and wanting to give up I searched my soul asking God for an answer. It was then that I realized I am here to heal others. Last evening I turned to my fiance and said simply HTH baby, HTH.

For may years I felt being an empath,caring so much for others to the point where I hurt, was a curse. I wasn’t ready to receive my purpose and view it as a gift. I resisted and dug my heels into not accepting this fact. All that did was bring me further pain and suffering. It was then that I realized I had an important choice to make. I could keep kicking myself down into a deeper hole of despair or I could accept and embrace my role. Since making the conscious choice to do the latter, I have never felt more liberated. Set free from my old and useless patterns of thinking, I reimerged into a much more grateful woman. I know and understand God’s plan for me and that is to be a conduit of love so that others may find peace within their own struggles. I am now able to see that I posses certain keen insights and skills that others along my journey here seek out. Strangers tell me their life stories in the grocery store. Afterwards, almost every single person admits to not knowing why they have shared their feelings with a total stranger. I reassure their insecurity by admitting to being an empath. I always thank them for being vulnerable and sharing with me. Something I once tried so hard to avoid has turned into a beautiful experience for both of us.

Most who know me will say I’m an extremely outgoing person who loves to talk. My coworkers joke and tell me I could talk to the wall and be happy! Thankfully for me it’s part of my job to engage with customers and it’s the part of my job I value the most. Despite my propensity for chattiness, I am also a great listener. Many of my friends have told me so over the years that I am so easy to talk to. I’m grateful to be that shoulder to lean on, the confidant and a person someone else can trust.

I take my role very seriously and I understand how special it is. It’s not always easy to just listen and not give advice. That is NOT my purpose. When somebody seeks me out it is because they need to get something off their chest without looking for answers. I can’t fix their problem but I can be someone who shows compassion and understanding. I see too little of this in our world today which is why I feel humbled and honored to fulfill that need for someone. I like to say I am like a vault with others inner thoughts. I take it all in yet it never comes back out. Retaining other people’s trust is very important to me because it’s so crucial for them.

Since my revelation, I make it a daily goal to show kindness. Being able to make someone smile is hugely rewarding for me. It’s a priceless gift that can change somebody’s day for the better. We never know where others are coming from or what has gone on in their lives. I believe we must view each person we encounter as our own brother or sister because that is what God intended. I genuinely care for others in a non judgemental way until that person gives me a reason not to. If more people could adopt this habit what a more empathetic world this would be!! It starts with loving yourself and understanding that we are all connected. We all hurt the same.

I composed the following poem “Baby steps”to describe the time in my life when I doubted myself, viewed my gift as a curse and my decision to turn that all around. It is a choice my dear readers. I hope this post provokes that idea in you today. Give a bit more, show more love and embrace your true gifts. PeaceโœŒ

Mental health, Spirituality

One voice can start a revolution

There are many periods of my life in which I felt alone, utterly alone. The impact trauma and abuse has on an individual creates the prefect environment for isolation to take over. There are many reasons for one to withdraw and for me it was mostly fear. I was afraid for those around me to know what was happening and then judge me. Always feeling that I was to blame for my situation. My thinking has been skewed in regards to this most of my life. One of my core beliefs has always been that I’m not good enough and everything is my fault. It’s a terrible burden to carry yet I willingly did so for thirty-five years.

I grew up without a lot of guidance from either if my parents. I never got the heart to heart chats about life, how to be successful, encouragement of my dreams or how to navigate rejection. My mother and my father were both unfortunately ill equipped emotionally to be parents and therefore I have had to figure a lot out as an adult. They provided for us financially, my siblings and I never wanted for anything. When it came to “the meat” of parenting however, the tough stuff, we were left to our own devices. I spent so much of my upbringing in fear, creating a facade so nobody would suspect the pain I was in. I don’t think I even acknowledged it myself until my first mental breakdown seven years ago.

Since that experience, I have had many epiphanies about my life. I have learned to forgive, not forget what has happened to me because without it I wouldn’t be who I am today. Growing up neglected emotionally, being emotionally and psychologically abused, taking on adult responsibility at a young age made me the kind and understanding woman I am today. It’s easy for me to spot those that need a little extra TLC. It’s truly gratifying for me to listen to someone, relate to them and make them feel better about themselves. One of my ambitions in life is to be there for others compassionately because I know what it feels like to be alone and misunderstood.

I just read an article on how hate crimes have dramatically risen this past year. Too many in our society feel isolated and misunderstood. These feelings produce anger, which is a secondary emotion. The root cause of hate is fear. The vast unknown outcomes in life, the projections onto others about what we don’t like within ourselves combine to produce overwhelming fear of the other. That fear then turns into hate. Our world is crying out for tolerance towards so much we fear as a society. There are so many movements and support groups that we look for to have our voices heard. I feel technology is the newest producer of isolation. Too many of us can live in a safe bubble that separates us from what we don’t like and understand. That division is having an overwhelmingly negative impact on how we see each other. Judging others from the outside instead of what’s on the inside which is our common human connection. Humanity is under attack and hate is rising.

The recent mid term election cycle had me focusing on what keeps us so divided in this country. I thought about the rise of hate, the need for understanding and what could bring us to a more peaceful place in our communities. The ability to be vulnerable and share our emotions with one another is a good place to start the healing. Placing judgement aside and truly listening to each other. Only then can we come together in love and begin to comprehend our neighbor on a more human level. Abolishing the hate and darkness allowing for more acceptance and light.

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