Fertilize Your Mind

Quote from a colleague:

“The quest for knowledge can not be abandoned.”

So very true. Expand your mind. Don’t allow yourself to become stagnant, or, worse yet, frozen in time like this camellia in my backyard this morning.

The brain naturally shrinks with age, despite being filled with this “knowing” stacked upon that “knowing,” even without trauma or defects caused by medical situations or diseases.

…with increasing age and there are changes at all levels from molecules to morphology. Incidence of stroke, white matter lesions, and dementia also rise with age, as does level of memory impairment and there are changes in levels of neurotransmitters and hormones. (NCBI)

It’s hard enough to remember what you already know as you get older, but the best thing you can do for yourself is to continue to learn – even if that includes unlearning only to relearn from a different perspective. The only way to slow the shrinkage is to continue to learn.

Read. Think about things in an interactive way. Write. Do things to exercise your brain, whether with puzzles or word games or just deep conversations with yourself in thought. Train (and/or retrain) your mind. Remain active in mindful and conscious ways. You’ll thank yourself for it.

I suppose this is a big deal to me because of physiological psychology and being a scholar in that field, but more than anything it comes from what I watched my mother suffer as she deteriorated from the added and horrific bonus of early onset dementia that turned to Alzheimer’s.

Take care of your mind. Fertilize it. Grow it well. Maintain it. Keep it in bloom. ❤️

Frozen Green Things

In nature frozen green things are beautiful and interesting, yet ice and the color green are associated most often in the human mind with unkind and ugly things like envious, bitter, hurtful and hateful hearts. Sad, yes? I’ll stick to nature, thank you very much. 💚❤️

You’ll never know…

…until you have actually and fully been there.

Until you have actually walked this road in a way that leaves the soles of your shoes worn out and developing holes, and your feet blistered and bleeding twice as much as your heart pumps through you and until you have not only seen but had no choice but to actively participate in the sights and scenes DAILY, because there literally was no one else, for so long that you feel like you’re in a Stephen King novel, no – you will never know what it’s really like.

How it can wear you so thin that it nearly destroys you, the way water seems to work like acid and melts cheap toilet paper.

How it can tear you down to a level that you, as compassionate and kind a person you are or try to be, think, “the next time someone tells me I should smile more, or I should look on the bright side (which is what? That eventually she’ll die and I won’t have to do this anymore?) I’m going to punch them in the face.”

How you start avoiding people because you’re sick of their hypocritical judgments and comparisons, OR the way they pretend to understand when you know good and well they have no clue so you just stop talking about it and pretend it’s easy and everything is fine…

100%. Until you’ve done it, you’ll never understand completely what it’s like. I shared a lot of our journey. Even then it was only a fraction and what I did share was picked apart by completely irrelevant, inexperienced people. But I will keep sharing this until we have real reform and raise the standard of care for caregivers and their loved ones with dementia. (Thank you, Martina.)

When my mom died, it broke me. It wasn’t the grief that broke me, it was the RELIEF that broke me. Because I had no idea what to do with it. And I felt guilty for feeling it in the first place.

Finally being able to breathe and stop and rest after SO LONG of being a full time care giver going between two homes and three people (wait, four – but I never really thought of myself, lol) and dealing with doctors and being sick myself…?

THAT almost killed me.

I’m not exaggerating or trying to be dramatic or draw attention, which is what people always love to say when you share thoughts like this (which reallllly doesn’t help so just shut up because that kind of thing can drive someone over an edge you will never understand when they’re grieving loss after caregiving).

I just finished writing a whole chapter about this. Maybe I’ll share it via my blog… For now, here’s the thing I want you to know and remember:

If you’re in a situation like this or are grieving after a situation like this, know that you’re not alone. Know that there ARE those who see you and feel you because they’re there, too, or they’ve been there before.

I pray not one of you ever has to go through it (or go through it again).

If you are forced to go through it, I pray you get the resources you need (financially and otherwise) sooner than a month before your loved one dies because the only thing that finally saves the day is hospice.

I pray if you do face this situation, you have less people than more coming at you with what you need to do and how you need to act but NEVER actually doing anything to help you do what they think you should do and regularly acting the same way you’re acting despite not being in your shoes and instead having everything they could ever want or need.

And I pray that if you ever find yourself in those shoes, you give yourself grace and you forgive yourself daily, before the day begins, for the fact that you’re never going to be perfect. You’re not going to get it right and keep your cool and manage your emotions well EVERY DAY. You’re just not. Period. So accept it and be gentle with yourself and just keep doing the best that you can. You’ve got this. You really do. You don’t think you do or feel that you do, BUT YOU DO. 🙏💜🙏

And if you’ve never been there at this level and never have to be? I pray you don’t take that privilege for granted. Because you ARE privileged.

💜💙💜

Don’t Grind.

Sunrise thoughts and a thing nature taught me a long time ago. Spirituality and self-discovery go hand in hand, and they work the same way: both are a never ending journey. Wax on, wax off. Learn, unlearn. Learn again. Change habits. Become, unbecome. Become again. Know better, do better. Love yourself, love others. Rinse, repeat.

And this idea so many people have of grinding? It’s insanity. Grinding is NOT what you need to be doing. The definition of grind is to wear away, to destroy. You are killing yourself to do what? Have more stuff that you don’t need? Make other people happy? Working to the point of taking care of yourself is one thing. “Grinding?” Totally different thing.

At some point, you have to decide that you’re going to enjoy what you have while you’re here to enjoy it rather than constantly want more or be dissatisfied in life. In fact? That is exactly why people are dissatisfied in and with their lives. That’s why people are not really and truly happy – “at the core” happy.

It is really because they are doing one (or both) of two things: holding on to what has long been over and carrying anger and bitterness with them in everything they do and doing the things they do for the wrong reasons, or trying to maintain a certain life that isn’t really living. A truly happy life is one that can maintain itself with just a normal amount of effort, because there is balance.

Grind yourself down with a constant focus on one thing – even something you love – and you will no longer be balanced. You will no longer be strong. You will no longer love that thing or that person. You will no longer be you. You will wear away every beautiful, unique thing about yourself and end up exhausted, aching, empty and bitter.

Sunrise.

Please don’t grind. Work hard, but don’t grind. Do more of what makes you happy. Do it from a mindful space and conscious heart. Awaken yourself to ALL that life has to offer. Pro tip: it’s not found in material things. It’s not found in excess. There is no such thing as security – any of us could lose everything in a single breath. No, it’s not something you can hold. It’s something you can feel, and it is found in the space between breaths. You can find it there no matter where you are or what you’re doing or who you’re with – try it, and you’ll see.

No matter what you’re doing, throughout the day today randomly become conscious of the fact that you are breathing. You can still be doing whatever you’re doing – just be aware. In that silent, focused pause between breaths, remember that one day that will be a permanent situation. One day, there will be no breath. One day you will CEASE TO BREATHE, and therefore cease to have that moment. This moment. Any moment. Every moment.

It might come sooner that any of us think, that permanent space between breaths. You never know… Appreciate everything. Even the pain is teaching you. It’s showing you what not to do. It’s showing you what your body needs you do, what your soul needs you to do, what your higher self needs you do.

Do good. Be gentle. Be compassionate. Be kind. Do all those things for yourself and for others. Have a beautiful day. 💜

Lesson From a Nope Rope

I believe this is a hybrid rattlesnake – the product of a timber rattler and a diamondback. I could be wrong.

So, this is raw. I never edited any of this. I have so much b-roll stuff from our hikes and stuff and I pick and choose bits here and there when I produce something. This is some of that footage that I came across when getting my stuff together for the project I’m working on.

I’m glad I came across this. I’d forgotten about it. It reminded of something about myself that I think a lot of people tend to misjudge. Don’t be led astray by my mostly nice, friendly, patient and overly kind demeanor. Don’t think I’m as ignorant as I might look. Don’t think I don’t know things just because I don’t say them out loud. I’m kind – not stupid. I am not afraid of much, not even poisonous snakes in the grass. Thing is, the worst snakes in the grass are people – it’s really the wrong phrase to use to describe a sneaky, lying, abusive human fool. Kind of an insult to snakes, if you ask me…

You see how calm this nope rope is? Maybe it just ate (doesn’t much look like it). Maybe it was a little cool (doubt it because I was sweating like crazy – this was a humid, warm July morning). Actual snakes don’t want to bother you. They really don’t. Maybe this dude just didn’t feel threatened by me. Animals rarely do. Only God knows why that is. But I can tell you this:

I wasn’t afraid of getting close to this guy, even if maybe I should’ve been, but I also was not stupid enough to try to handle it. No – I’m only that stupid when it comes to people. I never used to be the “once bitten, twice shy” type. I used to let them strike me and just forgive and pretend things were fine. I would give a person every reason to believe in me and make sure they knew that I still believed in them and cared about them. I would be willfully ignorant to the point that I was breaking my own heart.

But you know what people do? Even “family?” They don’t see that. They don’t see your heart. They don’t see your actions. They don’t see what you do for them because you love them. They just see what they want and take it from you and go on. Many times they don’t even need be provoked. They’ll strike out of the blue, with no warning at all – unlike this guy, who would have at least warned me. Thing with people is, you have to let them do it more than once. So don’t let them, because if they continually behave in ways that hurt you and refuse to respect you? They’re never going to change. Have no doubt – I have finally learned that lesson.

Today? Once bitten? I’m absolutely going to be twice shy. Still kind, with the same heart beating inside of me, but I’ll never trust you again. Once I’m done, I’m done. And if I ever reach that point with you, you have only yourself and your own behavior to blame. Just ask my father in law. His life wasn’t in vain. He taught all of us this lesson.

So here’s the thing…

Yesterday I texted a couple of people to tell them directly about my lupus diagnosis and I said, “I win! Yay!” One of them texted me back saying nothing but, “it’s not a game or a competition.” I said, “well I didn’t mean it that way – I sarcastically meant I win at life… Kinda like when I say ‘fuck doctors’ ftw (for the win).”

So here’s the thing…

I say off the cuff, smartass things like that because I feel exactly the opposite – that’s what sarcasm is to me. It’s me being “darkly positive.” It’s me feeling like I’m speaking power into my body and soul to deal with myself. They told me that was unhealthy. I thought, “so is being depressed and/or suicidal but because that can’t be seen it’s not real to you…” Which mindset is healthier? People are funny. Especially when they beat you down for things that are EXACTLY like their own mindset or behavior but it’s fine for them, just not for you. 😂

Anyway, the only other thing they said was that I needed to go raw because that was the only way to eliminate chemicals from my diet and I thought, “yeah, that doesn’t work for me, either.” Do you know how much it costs to eat a raw, actually chemical free diet? We do. We did it for about six months when they told me I had celiac disease. It cost us around $200 a week to buy just groceries and eat/cook from home, and I was the only one eating the “healthy” food while the boys continued to mostly eat their normal, less expensive food.

The point of me mentioning this is to remind you all that the government controls every aspect of our lives for profit. Break it down and you’ll see the proof. They know that they can’t make money off of our health conditions if they make easy solutions to them readily available because then we won’t need medicine. Case in point? Dandelions that grow in your yard and the pesticides to kill them versus the story they feed us about how much more beautiful our yards are to be “weed free.” And we fall for it. Because clearly one of the most beneficial plants for our bodies shouldn’t be allowed to grow in our own yards for free. The FDA doesn’t WANT you to be healthy. It wants you to depend on big pharma and the medical business in America (and around the world) so that people that aren’t meager pheasants can put money in their pockets and keep us pheasants dependent on things we can’t provide for ourselves. Why do you think there are so many laws and restrictions on things that would make living a fully self-sustainable life easy to achieve?

That’s not a conspiracy theory. It’s just common sense. 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️ Otherwise, why would diabetes medication and chemo and even some of the meds they want to put me on cost so much that you have to work a second job (like my dad did for years) just to stay alive? That’s why so many people are flocking to alternative lifestyles…

The point is this: I talked about this because I wanted support from my friends to help me deal with the changes ahead, not to be told how to handle it. I’ve got it handled. It’s my body and my life and I’m the only one responsible for making it good. But it’s nice to know that people are there to listen and be a part of your community. That’s why people say, “if you need anything, let me know.” Right? That’s what friends are for. I try to offer support to my friends, no matter what I’m dealing with personally…and lord knows I’ve been dealing with health stuff for a long time. But if you’re someone who I love and care about, I’m ALWAYS there – until you tell me not to be. I’m grateful for the handful of people in my life who are understanding and receptive as well as giving of that…

Lube Up.

I have had disappointments. Struggles. Moments that I’ve lost faith in what I used to believe. Oh yes, more than a few. Like most lives, mine is sprinkled with the moments that passed me by, the opportunities I only saw in the rear-view mirror, hopes lost in the fading light of what I thought would be my day. Yet, here I am. Here we all are, those of us still here.

It has not all been easy. It has never been black and white. It has never been that simple – perhaps that is why I dream of adding color to it all in my creative endeavors. But I am not defined by my disappointments, nor am I confined by them. I am shaped by them, changed by them, but never owned by them. It is in the learning that I am set free: free to try again, or free to do my life differently.

I’m an intelligent and logical person but I’m also an empath. I am what many from childhood and even up til now have considered wasteful. You know, the uselessness of having a head in the clouds or a heart perpetually full of feelings and passion that are all an unproductive, non-conducive waste of time. Those things are true, taken to extremes they can be detrimental…but so can the excess of anger and judgment and many other things.

It is through all of my own experiences – especially the difficulties and painful experiences – that I have learned how to authentically be me and to make my soul characteristics, both the darkness and the light of it, not just my way of living but also my way of EARNING a living – because to be a creator is MY PURPOSE. Others don’t have to understand or relate to that – they don’t even have to respect it…they’re consuming what I’m bringing to the table and not bringing a plate to the potluck.

We ALL have a soul purpose. The world needs ALL of us, with ALL of our different gifts. Don’t put people down or judge them because they don’t live the life you would choose for yourself. Thank them, instead, for what they bring into your life with their differences.

The world needs construction workers and emergency services workers and doctors and nurses and teachers and IT people and factory workers and farmers and truckers and on and on to help it to run smoothly. Of course it does. OF COURSE it does.

But do you know what it also needs that just about every one of those “essential” people consume like vitamins? The light of the artists – the realms of the writers, the musicians, the deep thinkers, the actors, the comedians, the magicians, the drawers of magical worlds and the painters of scapes in sound or in color, or both all at once – to escape to.

The world NEEDS the creators of comfort and escape to help the “essential workers” to cope with the stresses of their lives serving others. It needs the creators to help to invent and build the world, but also to help the world remember it’s inner child – the one that existed before it was told it couldn’t be itself and had match the rules that killed it’s true joy – and hopefully in some small way to help that inner child stay alive.

The world needs the dreamers and those brave enough to share their wildest and craziest ideas and creations to help the world see beauty and creativity, to find inspiration, and maybe, in some ways, to heal.

The world needs ALL OF US, all the time.

What has not worked for me in my life has taught me the depths of who I am. It has also taught me the limits of who I am. What has worked for me may not be for everyone but it has helped me to shine when I want to hide in the dark, and the broken parts of me and my past are not monuments made of stone, nor have they turned ME to stone. They are, even at their worst, portals through which I travel into a better tomorrow…or the hope that I one day will.

The experiences I have had and will have are the tools through which I create, through which I manifest and through which I show others (if not by word then by example) exactly what thriving – not just surviving – is.

Or, that is my hope. That is my goal.

That is my heart, and it just wants to make a difference in the lives of struggling people by sometimes making them feel less alone in their darkness by being dark with it but also by helping them to escape through the magic that sometimes pours out of me.

Our magics and our roles may be different, but it takes us all to make the world a happy and comfortable and interesting place to be. So don’t down the dreamer. Don’t loathe the lover. Don’t hate the hurt – because hurt people hurt people. Don’t damn the already damaged.

Don’t waste your time or energy playing the role of jury or judge because you’re neither. That’s not the job of a single one of us. We’re just here to do whatever we do best, whatever drives us and serves the world for the better, and to love – because love is the center of everything, even logic.

We are energetic, crystalline beings living in physical, 3D bodies. We are souls that are taking residence in a vessel so complex we haven’t even completely figured the vessel out yet. There was a time where there was very few awakened souls here on earth, and now many are becoming awake to these truths.

That is the purpose for all of us. We are here to experience this realm of existence while it lasts and to do our soul’s job in this realm to leave it better than we found it. What’s so hard about that? Apparently a lot – perhaps that is why we also need philosophers and psychologists and theologians and spiritual intellectuals whose jobs are to help us to sort through the two realities of spiritual and human existence.

The synopsis? Different types of people with different goals in life really aren’t meant to rub each other with friction causing constant lifequakes (pun totally intended). They’re meant to grease each other up, like lube, if you will, so that we can move more easily through the time that makes up our human life and actually EXPERIENCE IT.

Start moving with life instead of trying to force it to be a certain way. Creating your life is a process. Lube up already. Otherwise, life’s going to keep being rough and leaving friction burns in your soul. 🤷‍♀️❤️