Bali Bound

“I am so terrified.” Those were the words that kept going through my head when I got the inspiration to spend six weeks in Bali, and, like, actually try to make it happen. I know there are plenty of other more valid reasons to feel “terrified”, and to a well-traveled person it might not seem like that big of a deal, but as someone who has always dreamed about traveling, but managed to let Fear keep it far out of reach from me, it is a huge deal.

At some point soon I’ll probably post some of my writing from that fear processing. But I have so much to say now, so much going through my head that I need to get out.

So, here is my experience so far…

From when I left my doorstep to arriving at my homestay, it was well over 24 hours of travel. On the car ride from the airport, I was informed that the people staying before me in the room I booked decided to extend their stay one more night. So for the first night I was set up in a nicer room in a different homestay, owned by the same people.

I was beyond delirious and disoriented when I arrived. I wore sandals, and kept the straps loose (a little too loose) so I could slip off and on easily while going through TSA at the airport. I was planning to tighten them when I got to my destination. By the time I arrived my feet were so swollen from altitude/air pressure, lack of circulation, and shitty sodium saturated airplane food, that the sandals were tight on me. I couldn’t wait to put my feet up, but what I wanted more than anything was to brush my teeth.

Before I could even gather myself to do that I just ended up walking around in circles in my room, starting to do one thing, then thinking of another, then realizing how disoriented I really was. When I’d actually stop for a minute I felt like I was still moving, the way you do when you get off of a boat and feel like you’re still rocking back and forth. Only it was two planes and a couple of car rides that I was still feeling the motion from.

Aside from the teeth, I knew I needed food and sleep. So finally, with great relief I brushed my damn teeth. I really did not want to have to use my brain anymore. There was not much of it available for use at that point anyway. But I managed to drag myself, with all my might, around the corner to the first restaurant that caught my eye, hoping that I wouldn’t start stumbling around, like a drunky, from the motion I was still feeling.

I order a chicken satay with peanut sauce and it came out with rice that was steamed in a banana leaf and steamed vegetables. It was delicious. And seeing that the beer cost less than $1.50, I couldn’t resist.  Even though I was so disoriented already, and I am sensitive and to the effects of alcohol, I wanted that damn beer! Part of the appeal of coming here was that it is a haven for people like me who love healthy living. Lots of healers, yoga, vegan food, juices and elixers. But the funny thing is, as soon as I got here I felt like smoking and drinking. I’ve never been much of a smoker, but every so often,  maybe 1-3 times a year, I might smoke a cigarette. I lost even those rare urges several years ago. Now, here on the Island Of The Gods, I could really go for a cigarette.

Anyway. I ate my dinner and dragged myself back around the corner to my room where I showered, took a melatonin, and went to sleep at about 8:30pm.

I woke up at about 5:00am and could tell that, because I am so sensitive, it is going to take me a few days to really start to feel like a human again. I was so relieved to have internet access, and that Facebook existed, so I could feel some sense of connection to my normal existence. I stayed in bed for a while before starting the day off with a hot bath in my beautiful open air bathroom. And I could feel in my entire body how badly I needed coffee.

As I was drying off, I walked from my bathroom and could see out my window, a mug, hot water, and coffee fixings waiting for me on my little table on the balcony outside my room. My reaction was somewhere between a little kid on Christmas morning, and the Road Runner, who takes off so fast that you can only see a cloud of dust and a ghostly silhouette of the character.road-runnerMy morning coffee and journaling is a very sacred (necessary) part of my day and I was happy to start getting into some sort of self-care routine. I had been jotting some things down in my journal, when I glanced up at what I wrote a few minutes earlier before I had any coffee. I couldn’t stop laughing:

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What I meant to write was “I think coffee will help me feel normal!” And my brain lapse proves that.

As I sat with my journal, waking up to the warm, thick air, they brought me breakfast. A bowl of yellow watermelon and papaya, and green banana pancakes with coconut shavings.

When I was little I used to throw up when I’d eat banana. As I got older I think I became able to process it more, but I always associated the taste with vomit, so I’ve not been much of a banana person. But on my recent birthday, and upon planning this trip, I vowed that this would be my year of saying “YES”. And I’m so fucking glad because what went through my head when I was eating those pancakes was “this is everything a pancake is supposed to taste like!” I’m not even sure what I meant by that, because obviously they are not going to taste like what I’m used to, but basically I kind of wanted to cry they were so good.

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As I was eating breakfast, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. No big deal.

As I was eating breakfast, I noticed something mooving out of the corner of my eye. No big deal.

When the coffee started kicking in and I was able to start thinking a little more clearly, and I could start to start processing. I just wanted to write- to get some of what was in me out of me, but I started thinking “I’m in Bali! I should get out and go- start taking it all in! Then I got real with myself…

It’s ok to go slow. It’s ok to take my time, I have plenty of it. I am going to be here for six weeks. I am not going to “should” on myself while I’m here! If I feel like staying in all day and writing, if I feel like going out and not writing, if I feel like smoking or drinking, if I feel like meditating for six hours- I am going to say “YES.” I came here (among other reasons) to experience myself in new ways. The “shoulds” are not Me. The “shoulds” are what get in the way of Me. They are just judgmental thoughts, the influence of being around people throughout my life (mostly in the past) who have encouraged me to stay afraid, even implanting Fears in me. Coming here at all was basically me saying a hearty “fuck you” to my Fears.

When the plane wheels first touched the ground, and as I took in the scenery on the way to my homestay, what struck me more than anything was not so much that I was here, in Bali… it was that I did this. I spent so many years making excuses instead of making plans, and now I am here, inside of the experience that I created.

I am in Bali. This is a dream come true. And I’m still getting my head (and heart) around that. This morning, as I sipped my first cup of Balinese (instant) coffee, the words in my head were “I am so happy.”

Ghost.

Investments made

In bonds and trust

Broken like banks

Crumbled like dust

Betrayed in ways I never thought

Taking a loss

At the greatest cost

Well played games and unwalked talk

Lip service just to get what you got

Dividends of self-interest

A friendship rendered a conquest

Valuable words used as tools

To carefully cover my eyes with wool

Untruths unearthed

A besmirched sense of worth

Taken to the cleaners and told it was church

I believed what you told

I bought what you sold

What I got was a jackpot

Of solid fool’s gold

In silence so much has been said

You’ve shown me how you made your bed

And lied when you said ‘friends til the end’

Now bonds have been severed

Trust has been broken

All because of what remains unspoken

~JRM

 

~Maktub~

Truth IS

Yesterday, when I was talking with a friend about the self-work I’ve been doing, she (lovingly) told me that I’m way too hard on myself. She’s said that before, and I hadn’t quite put my finger on why it stung me so badly to hear that. I didn’t feel like I was being hard on myself in the context of what we were talking about. So why did it sting so badly?

Usually, when friends kindly call me on my shit like that, I appreciate it. And if you are really solid in Who You Are then it doesn’t matter if someone has a mixed up perception of you.

I figured out why it stung, it was because it touched a wound. And that wound was from spending so much of my life misunderstood by others, but being blamed, criticized, and abused for their perception of me.

I’ve heard all kinds of interpretations of my self-work over the years, I’ve been told a few times that I’m too hard on myself, that I’m insecure, that I need to not think about these things so much- I’ve been told these things as generalizations of who and how I am, not as assessments for particular situations. I’m human, and, yes, at times I am hard on myself, I do have insecurities, I can overthink. And I tell my stories, I expose my wounds, and I share, in real time, my journey to healing these wounds that we all have. I think because of that sometimes people see my wounds more than my healing process, and how these processes make me better, stronger, wiser, healthier… happier.

This self-work is just like getting a tattoo. When you get a tattoo you willingly have someone drag a needle across your skin, and scrape the same places, over and over. It’s painful. But in the end you have a beautiful work of art to show for it. And this art will be a part of you for the rest of your life. Something about that formula creates quite a rush. It can be addicting.

The same is true of this self-work. Sometimes you have to keep scratching the surface of your skin to get through to deeper layers. It can be painful, but in the end you have something beautiful to show for it. Only this time, YOU are the work of art. And the work that you’ve done to get there will be a part of you for the rest of your life. The formula can create quite a rush, and it can be addicting. I’m addicted to it.

The big difference is that a tattoo is something you are adding to you, and self-work is about removing layers, the illusions of self, to get closer to the truth.

And that’s just it. I believe that God, or The Universe, is simply Truth. The words could be used interchangeably. When you live in truth, integrity, and authenticity, you are tapping into, and aligned with, the flow of the Universe. But as the divine Miss Gloria Steinem said, “The truth will set you free. But first it’ll piss you off.”

In doing this work, in trying to become the best version of yourself that you can possibly be in the moment, in getting closer to the truth, before you are set free, you might (probably) find yourself in some form of pain for a bit. And that’s ok. As long as you keep going- so you can transcend past that pain, and live in truth.

I’m a firm believer in “you gotta feel it to heal it.” Allowing yourself to really feel everything, even if it’s not pleasant, is actually a way of being loving with yourself. When you fully inhabit what you are feeling, instead of pushing it away, you are no longer at war with yourself.

That means that if you need to cry, cry. I actually really enjoy crying. So many people see crying as a bad thing. I do not at all. Crying is a catharsis. It’s a way to drain the wound. You also release toxins and hormones through tears. Which means it is literally good for you to cry.

So let yourself cry. Let yourself flail around in the experience of your emotions. But be gentle. Just like when you get a tattoo, you must take good care if want to properly heal and be the beautiful work of art that you endured all that pain for.

We are works of art. Divine beings carved from the Universe. But we hide our truths to protect our wounds. And sometimes we have to tend to the wounds, and endure pain, to access that truth. It is not a bad thing. It is a beautiful thing. It is not being hard on yourself. It is being loving with yourself. And living in that pure Truth is better than any drug- recreational or medicinal.

My friend did me a favor. She showed me another piece of myself, which only helps me do this work that I love so tremendously.

So I will continue to do my work, to keep investigating until I hit gold, and to keep exposing my wounds, and showing you my truth. For I am a truth seeker.

~Maktub~FB_IMG_1463967625813.jpg

“STUFFED”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it many times again- personal growth is my number one passion and my number one job. I love this work and I know that my purpose, and my job, is to do the work, and tell my stories about it.

My current assignment is dissecting and dismantling my long ingrained pattern of procrastination, and forming a new, healthier pattern. But the more I work on it, the more I see how ingrained this pattern really is.

These issues that we all have, it’s easier to see where they have a big presence and create larger impediments, but if we really look closely, get the microscope and tweezers out, we can see how they actually show up all over the place in our lives, sometimes in very small and subtle ways. And this makes the work a lot more challenging.

It’s not like we can just zap it in one area of our lives and boom, we’re fixed. If we really want to change ourselves for the better it takes continual, at times intense, work- noticing all of the little ways in which these patterns show up in our lives- doing the dishes, making the phone calls and appointments, having the difficult conversations, confronting people who hurt us, doing the good deed, taking big leaps of faith and courage… writing the blog post.

Sometimes procrastination shows up for me in putting off positive things too- having the glass of wine, eating the piece of chocolate… sometimes even going to the bathroom– I’ll wait. Til commercial. Til there’s a break in conversation. Til after I eat. Til I’m finished with this or that task… Sometimes that makes sense and is important, but a lot of the time, for me, it’s just a way of putting another thing off.

I truly believe that how we do one thing is how we do everything. Procrastination is just a form of pushing things away. And if I am pushing away all of the little things in life, then I am probably pushing away the big things in life too- money, success, great love, dreams, adventures, growth. I put those things out of my own reach, because I’ve made sure that everything happens later.

Ironically,  paying the bill now, actually brings me closer to my money- even if it is being paid out. When I put off paying bills I am pushing my money, and what I do with it, away from me. Doing the dishes right now, brings me closer to freedom. If I wait to do the dishes later they pile up, they create a block in the space I have available, literally, yes, the physical space, but also in the space I have available to do other things with my time- because the dishes and the bills have to be paid. So somewhere in my time frame I will have to stop and do that. I limit my free time and space. Doing it now, gets it out of the way. Writing the blog post now, gets what I have to say out my head and onto the page. It allows for the catharsis to happen now, instead of later. Because if I put off catharsis, what I have to release may end up shifting shape and get internalized in other ways. Writing the blog post now allows for an opportunity to connect with people in this moment, instead of thinking of it as a future event that may or may not ever happen.

I’ve been gaining a lot of insight with this current work, but the insight is just the fun part. The AHA moments are like little shots of euphoria. But they mean nothing without the, often grueling, work to back it up.

I love this work more than anything, but it sure as hell ain’t easy.

I’m doing my best, but my best, right now, in this subject, isn’t as great as I would like it to be. My success rate for catching myself in the old patterns, and making the choice and taking the action to do things differently, is probably around 60%. Yeah, not great. But I’m growing, and stretching,  and that’s what learning is all about. You don’t arrive in a classroom already having the knowledge you came to learn, already knowing how to do the things you are being taught. It takes time and practice.

And it is not easy. It is not comfortable. When we stretch in new ways, there’s usually a period of feeling sore. When we really roll up our sleeves and get to work, it brings all our “stuff” to the surface, all the stuff that normally we try to snuff out with whatever our vice of the moment is- TV, video games, social media. Sex, drugs, Rock’n’ roll. Work, exercise, cleaning. None of those things are inherently bad, per se, but they are often used as a form of escape, and can become unhealthy habits when they get out of balance and become obsessive. And none of those things makes any of the “stuff” go away. So the sooner we can bring it to the surface, allow ourselves to writhe in and through the discomfort, the more quickly it can run its course and teach our lessons.

And I believe the core of all self-improvement is mindfulness. Getting present helps to unravel all of the twisted and tangled habits and patterns we become entrenched in. It help us to become aware of the choices we make, and choose differently if that’s what’s best. It helps us to respond instead of react. It helps us to live with intention and create a more fulfilling way of life for ourselves.

Mindfulness is just one of the many tools to help us do this work. I’ve been doing this work long enough that I have this tool box, filled with all kinds of shiny, golden, gem encrusted tools (and some gnarly looking ones as well), and I want to share them, to help people build more beautiful, fulfilling lives for themselves.

So while I’m over here doing this work, I am offering to share these tools with you, because part of this work that I love so much, is helping others to their work. So when you’re ready, Grasshopper, I’ll be here.

~Maktub~

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On Purpose

It is so easy to live passively. Even if we set goals. Even if we achieve goals. So many moments are just lived in reaction to what happens to us. But if you just move one letter, reacting becomes creating. And I believe true happiness comes from living a life of creation versus reaction.

I spent a long time and a lot of hard work learning how to live with intention, to live on purpose… to live with purpose. And my purpose is simply to do my work and tell my stories about it, with the ultimate intention of helping others. That is why I am here. My soul has whispered this to me too many times for me to believe anything else.

Every moment I possibly can is chosen– which requires vigilant presence. I’ve lived passively. I’ve lived in reaction. Now I live a life of creation.

I’m not perfect. I don’t claim to be. I fuck up. I forget. I lose sight and get off track. But that is the great gift I have received over the past couple years of holding my words in. I have learned to accept my imperfections, in a very deep and loving way. Instead of holding onto them so tightly, and beating myself over the head with them, I watch them come and go. And I let them. Then I work a little harder, and love a little wiser.

And, I always come back- to this knowing, to this purpose, to this life of and on purpose. And I am so much happier for it. All of it.

 

~Maktub~BEING AN ARTIST

Starting Over

I often joke, when referencing my past, saying things like “that was several lifetimes ago.” Or, “I’ve lived a few lives since then.” And I believe there is truth to that. I believe in reincarnation, because I have reincarnated so many times already.

I have lived so many versions of myself. There have been so many “starting overs.”

And yet again, I find myself starting over. Here, on this page.

I stopped blogging a while back, for many reasons, most of which I can’t quite put my finger on. And so I’m trying doing it again.

Starting over.

Not knowing where I am going or what will come of this. Maybe it will be yet another lone blog post infused with the hope that it will spark momentum. Or maybe it will be a whole new journey for me. I have no agenda this time. Except vulnerability.

I am re-learning how to be vulnerable again (in this context), so that I may practice being vulnerable with you. Because I miss that. I miss exposing myself in this way, showing you parts of myself that allow you to see YOU in it all. I miss connecting with people in deep ways over what I have to say and what you feel from it.

“Lack of inspiration” is one of the many excuses I give myself for not blogging. But inspiration is infinite, and if I really want it, I can find ways to tap into it. I think lack of courage is a more fitting excuse- closer to the truth.

But the theme of my life these days is “moving towards fear.” Because when I revisit Who I’ve Been, I can see that the happiest times in my life, the most powerful and fulfilling times in my life, have been when I have been actively doing things that scare me.

It is a constant practice. And when I found myself stuck, complacent, lost, confused, and anxiety ridden, the root of it all was fear. Not the existence of fear, but letting fear control me- paralyze me.

I doubt it’s any coincidence that next week I will celebrate 36 journeys around the sun. A new year. A new cycle. A new age.

Starting over.

I have to say, this past year has been a challenging journey. It’s felt a little more like a detour, which has led me back to where I diverted from.

Starting over.

And where I am starting from, and where I have ended up- is always Me. I Am the journey. I Am the destination. I Am Who I Am, and I always come back to that.

And so I step into the light once again, and allow myself to be seen. I’m reminded that even though it’s scary, it’s also so very beautiful.

And so it is.

 

~Maktub~

Onward

*Originally published 1/1/2016

Perspective. It is a new year and a new day.

For the past month or so, I let myself get so caught up with how detached I’d been feeling recently, from myself and many of the things that matter most to me- from what gives me a sense of purpose. I got stuck comparing the current “pause” I found myself in, with the vast movement I have made throughout this past year.

But luckily I got some time and space to hear myself think again- to see myself, my life, and my path a little more clearly. And to pull myself out of the victim mentality of “how did my life happen to me like this?”

Life does not happen to you. No matter how passive you may be. Even passivity creates some sort of result. And usually it’s not the result you want to see/feel/experience. So why not be proactive?

Here’s the thing. I think a lot of people avoid what’s in their highest good simply because it’s hard, or challenging. Believe me, I’ve been there. But seriously? What a bogus excuse. Really? It’s hard, so you’re just gonna give up? Or not even try? Daunting as it may be, when you really strive for all that your heart and soul desires, the challenge is an important part of the journey. If it came easy it wouldn’t feel as sweet. Once you go through the challenges you understand why you needed to in order to get to get to where you want to go.

Look at the Wizard of Oz for example. The Cowardly Lion went in search of courage, but in the end it was the challenging journey that brought him many opportunities to demonstrate the courage that already existed within him. And the Tin Man with his heart, the Scarecrow with his brain, Dorothy learning what Home really means.

You don’t become strong by merely picking up a barbell. You have to lift it over and over again. And put it down for a while. Then keep lifting. And keep giving your body a chance to rest in between.

In meditation you don’t just sit on a cushion and achieve inner peace. You don’t just close your eyes and instantly experience presence- and just stay there. It is a practice. Of pulling yourself back into the present moment, over and over and over again.

In order to reach our highest ground, we must demonstrate, in each moment, our ability to climb, even the steepest, most challenging, and sometimes treacherous mountains.

In order to learn, we must pay attention. In order to grow, we must nurture. In order to shine, we must become vulnerable- open ourselves up.

You pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down here? Our lives and our dreams require action. Loving, kind, patient, dedicated… and compassionate action!

Here’s what my goal is: To continue to work on making myself, my life, and my world more healthy and beautiful every day, to inspire others to do the same, to encourage each person (especially women) to heal themselves, so that they may bring all of their brightest light into the world, and to help guide those towards themselves, when needed (and requested).

I do my work. I share my words. That, simply, is what I am here to do.

Sometimes it is daunting and confusing and challenging and discouraging. But I never give up. I put one foot in front of the other. I keep lifting. I keep breathing. I keep demonstrating courage when I need it the most. I keep listening to my heart when I need guidance. I keep using my mind as wisely as I can. I keep reminding myself that I will never find what I’m truly looking for outside of myself, that all I ever need is already within me. I keep sharing my experiences.

And sometimes I rest.

~Maktub~