Stop Acting in Self-Defense

swan

Kahlil Gibran said, “Often times I have hated in self-defense; if I were stronger I would not have used such a weapon.”

I read this quote in Peace on the Inside. The author, Karen Jandorf, offered this as practice:

“The manifestation of hate typically has force, energy and power. But if you think about it, hate generally derives from a sense of powerlessness.

“Perhaps the world would be a more loving place if, when a sense of powerlessness arises, we made ourselves the object of our compassion rather than making others the object of our hate.”

Wow–this really gets to the heart of so many of my reactions to people and situations involving people. In my 12-step world I know this phenomenon of the mind as “when I am disturbed,” it’s always about me–100% of the time.

“I have hated in self-defense.” 

We can bring hatred down several notches so it becomes proving my point, justifying why I’m right and stating my case. It’s still self-defense, isn’t it?

Most negative emotions are about self-defense and are usually about me not getting what I think I need, want or deserve.

“Made ourselves the object of our compassion rather than making others the object of our hate.”

I can stop trying to prove myself. There is no need if I treat myself as I generally treat others and hope that others treat me. Instead of proving myself, I can work on loving myself, nurturing myself and paying attention to my own needs instead of waiting for someone else to tend to them.

There is no need to prove myself if I believe in me, if I believe I am a beautiful being and if I know in my heart than my GUS is completely thrilled with me.

Compassion toward one’s self–which requires a good amount of inner “me” time–is missing in today’s instant-on culture. Mostly we’re busy doing instead of being. The state of “doingness” without a balance of beingness is a set-up for potential hateful situations.

And . . .

If I am good with me–loving, accepting, tolerant, forgiving–then powerlessness has no place in my life. I’m in a much better position to allow life to flow and to ride with the flow instead of struggling against it.

One thing, in case anyone is keeping score, I am aware that I’m powerless over most everything in my life, including alcohol and drugs. That’s a different storyline from this one–maybe next week’s blog post?

Perhaps. In the meantime, please enjoy your week and do take some time to just be.

Photo courtesy of scotsann

Easter Monday Reflections

IMG_9163

Let me say from the git-go that I’ve never considered myself a religious person, except perhaps in college during a deeply philosophical conversation and far too much liquor. If I ever acted religious, it was for show.

Not being religious gave me a heady, intellectual persona, or so I thought (Alcohol was probably talking again.). With recovery, not only did the alcohol go away, so did the idea that I had to find a religious type.

Instead, I took up with spirituality. People in recovery told me I could live with a higher power–a God of my understanding–and I was good with that.

A few weeks ago I wrote about my Fat Tuesday impulsive decision to write daily essays during Lent based on prompts from Rev. Phil Ressler’s book, 40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond: A 40 Day Devotion Series for the Season of Lent. I set the intention of getting more God in my life.

You see, I was kind of coasting during the early part of this year. Feeling kind of blah for no real reason. You know the story–everything is fine but nothing is really good. I needed a shake-up and now that I’m on the backside of 40 days of publishing 350-500 words each day, I’m feeling pretty darn good.

I wish I could fully express what writing those 40 essays did for me. (To read the series, go to my Facebook Notes page.) It feels like a pretty cool accomplishment and I’m grateful for the reader interaction.

The best part about the practice of letting go of 40 different things–and writing about it–was my heart opened as it hasn’t in a long, long time.

My open heart led me to say yes when my sweetie asked if I wanted to go to a church service on Saturday night. A friend and colleague of hers asked if we would be her guest at the Saturday evening Easter service at Elevate Life Church here in Frisco, Tx.

This is my Year of Yes, so I had to go. My mind was open but I was not prepared for the swell of emotions that washed over me during the evening. From the time we stepped out of the car in the cathedral’s parking lot to the time we stepped out of the ladies room following the service, we felt a genuine welcome and warmth from the multitude of volunteers.

The production of the Easter story was moving and masterful. My eyes leaked torrents of tears from start to finish.

I was surprisingly absorbed by the musical uplift and by Pastor Keith Craft’s message about seeing the proof and feeling the promise of the Resurrection. He said a resurrection plays out for each of us as we feel renewed or restored to our Christ-like selves (not his words, but the words that work for me).

I was carried away from the experience on a blanket of love. I felt (and feel) unstoppable–that word is Pastor Craft’s. I know the power of Christ is deep within me, that Jesus is a part of me. I guess that makes me religious after all.

Who knows what happens next. I don’t much care. I gave up a lot of things during Lent but gained so much more. On this Easter Monday, I am an Easter-sated gal ready to take on the world!

Photo courtesy of lauramusikanski

A Fat Tuesday Impulsive Decision

40-Things-for-Lent-Post

Fat Tuesday, the day when folks let the good times roll before some sort of abstinence begins on Ash Wednesday and (hopefully) sustains itself through Easter, was kind of weird.

I’m not a regular churchgoer so I seldom tie anything of real significance to Lent. This year, however, I felt the need to shore up my relationship with God a bit. Why not give God a good 40-day commitment?

I jumped online and found a great book called 40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond, by Reverend Phil Ressler.

Each day, Rev. Ressler writes about giving something up, like negativity, apathy or complaining. He ties in scripture and suggested actions.

I decided to write daily essays based on Rev. Ressler’s topics. They’ve been fun to explore and write and most importantly, my God-shoring is going well! Here’s a portion of one of the essays:

Giving Up Impatience

Sometimes I wish a magician would snap her fingers in front of me and make all the challenges to my character (aka, character defects) disappear. Sigh . . .
I suppose I’ll always pine for the easier, softer way. GUS (God-Universe-Spirit) chuckles every time I pine because there IS an easier, softer way—just not the one I imagine.
It’s called surrender.
Years ago, when I still lived in Missouri, I had a vanity license plate on my car (pictured above). SURNDR. The first time my brother saw the plate, he stood staring at it for the longest time. Grinning, he finally turned to me and said, “I know what it means.”
What? I asked, happy that he figured it out.
“So You Are In Drive,” he said, proud of himself. (You’d have to know my brother to appreciate his sense of humor.)
Isn’t it ironic that surrender for me, a woman in long-term recovery from addiction, and for all the other recovering people I know, is the opposite of “so you are in drive?”
Being perpetually “in drive,” leads to impatience. Just for today, maybe I should consider being in idle.
So how exactly do we let go of impatience on this fourth day of Lent?
Phil Ressler writes in his 40 Things to Give Up for Lent and Beyond-the book this writing series studies-that “patience is about love.”
He suggests giving up impatience with God, with yourself and with others. I think being patient with myself is probably the most difficult of the three.
I’ve whined in 12-step meetings over the years that I want what I want when I want it. Each time I say the words, every head in the room nods back at me.
We are an instant fix, instant problem-solved, instant get-from-here-to-there kind of people.
What about enjoying the journey? It’s impossible to focus on being when you’re rushing, pushing and pressing forward.
Breathe. Just breathe.

You can find more essays like this on my Facebook page under Facebook Notes. Please enjoy and share!

5 More Jackson Kiddard Quotes

heartlovequote

A little more than four years ago, the name Jackson Kiddard started popping up on social media and in my RSS feed. He was a man of mystery, indeed, not much can be found about Mr. Kiddard via a Google search.

Mastin Kipp, of The Daily Love, continually posted JK quotes, so many that some wondered if Mastin was Jackson Kiddard. Now we know that JK was a French entrepreneur who became a philosopher and yogi before he died in India in 1901.

I’m still fascinated by Mr. Kiddard and apparently a lot of other people are too. Since I published my first post of five JK quotes in late 2011, the post gets an average of nine or 10 views every day.

Now it’s the week of love–capped by Valentine’s Day on Sunday. While I’m not a fan of commercializing love, I am a huge fan of love.

So in honor of love–and Jackson Kiddard–here are five thoughts from the entrepreneur/philosopher/yogi about love, love of others and love of self.

Treat yourself and others well this week and do your best to lead with love. All my love to you!

From B Here Today and Jackson Kiddard:

Love is a meeting of two souls, fully accepting the dark and the light within each other bound by the courage to grow through struggle into bliss.

Let go of the things you fear to lose. Die to your attachments. Free yourself from everything you think you are and embrace the truth that you are abundant, eternal, fearless and worth being loved.

Don’t settle because you are afraid you won’t find something better. Don’t compromise because you don’t want to be alone. Give the perfect life, lover, job, time and space to grow into your life. Your days of constant chasing with little reward are over. Everything you’ve ever wanted and more are coming to you. You just have to let it in with love, receptivity and non-judgment. Letting it in is how you become it.

Today I affirm that there is nothing in me but love. The love comes from total acceptance of myself and the understanding that I am a perfectly imperfect human being.

Complaining continues to create the vibration of what you don’t want. Today, take your focus off of what is wrong and focus on what is right and how you desire things to be. Put all your love, energy, mental power and decision making towards what you want and do not entertain thoughts that are to the contrary. You are MORE responsible for the way you feel than your environment, circumstances or relationships. Step towards Love today, step towards the solution.

Photo courtesy of Tammcd

Trees of Peace From Germany & Gethsemane

olive-trees-garden-gethsemane-jerusalem

I have two incredible stories to share with you on this 1st day of February, in this leap year.

The first–published in the New York Times a few days ago, tells the story of a German forest ranger named Peter Wohllben who wrote a bestselling book called The Hidden Life of Trees:What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World.

Wohllben believes–and has scientific proof–that trees are social beings that can sense danger, talk to each other and even nurse ailing neighbor trees all while participating in a fungal network he calls the “wood-wide web.”

The ranger’s book is #1 in Germany (the English translation is scheduled for later this year) and he’s made the rounds of talk shows. Critics love it; the Times  story writes that one “praised the humble narrative style and the book’s ability to awaken in readers an intense, childlike curiosity about the workings of the world.”

I love the idea of strolling through a canopy of trees in the forest and feeling embraced by a sense of peace, considering that the trees are transmitting peace on purpose. Talk about a deeper mindful practice!

The second story is even more unbelievable–unless you’re a believer, that is. It involves the 900-year-old olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem.

You read that number right. A study released three years ago by Italy’s National Research Council reveals that these trees are the oldest on earth AND have the same DNA fingerprinting of trees that witnessed Jesus’ final hours on earth.

For centuries, these trees have held the eternal peace of Jesus, cradled in the gnarled intertwining branches, making it the perfect spot for a peace pilgrimage today.

In fact, Unity minister and host of Spirit Expressing Rev. Ed Townley, and Jimmy Twyman are leading the pilgrimage for peace this very morning, at 10 EST–on the Israel/Syria border.

For my money, news from the Iowa Caucus rides in the back of the bus today.

If you’re a person who values mindfulness and changing the world with a positive collective consciousness, these two stories ought to make you feel a little tingly. This first day of February is a happy, celebratory day because all the ugliness out there–from Donald Trump and the merry band of political jesters, to gun violence across the streets of America and throughout the world and even the deadly heroin epidemic gripping every state in the nation–goes on hold for the briefest moment as peace overrides them all.

Please hear me–the horrific gun violence and the opioid crisis are massive issues that need big-time attention and big brains to fix. I’m not sure there is a fix for the political clown show.

For 10 minutes today, let’s focus on peace. Let’s be so mindful that we can feel it coursing through our DNA just as it does those olive trees. Let’s breathe peace out to our neighbors as the trees in Germany do.

The other stuff matters, yes it does. But peace matters more because without peace, the other stuff will eventually cease to matter.

Photo courtesy of