Monday, November 13, 2017

Kindness is not weakness

You know how they say, "You can't please everyone?"  Well, I have been known to be a people pleaser.  Trying so hard to make sure that no one was unhappy.  Trying to make sure that no one was offended.  Trying to make sure no ones feelings were hurt...and on and on.  Usually I find it fairly easy to be kind to people.  I never in my wildest dreams imagined that anyone would ever consider this a weakness.

Yet... there seems to be this assertion that being kind is for fluffy love and light types.  Supposedly,  kindness is a trait of the weak willed and gullible.  I put it to you, that the exact opposite is true.  It takes a tremendous amount of strength to maintain a positive outlook and to treat others, no matter what, respectfully and compassionately.

Now, I am not talking about allowing someone to walk all over you or to 'turn the other cheek' when faced with a hateful or even harmful person.  I am talking about realizing that when you come across a person who is not so friendly, that perhaps, they are going through something emotionally difficult.  With all your might, take the high road and assume the best in people.  Most people aren't on a mission to be difficult or hurtful.  Its been said before but I find it to be true: Hurtful people are hurting people.

Realize that no matter what anyone does or says to you, it usually has nothing to do with you.  Good or bad. Everyone is living in their own little 'bubble' where they view the world through lenses made up of their own experiences and to a great extent, attitude.   This is important, because it means that we all have the power to create much of our experience of living.

Why not be brave and create a kind world?  Why not be the reason that someone's journey through life was made a little easier?  Change things up a bit and instead of criticizing the negative, comment on the positive.  We need more warriors of kindness.  People who can endure the 'eye rolling' of the anxiety pedaling pessimists who seem to have overtaken everything.  We need people who express and encourage hope and unity rather than running around like chicken little yelling about a falling sky.

For goodness sake, don't be a troll on the internet and whatever you do, don't feed them. Ignore posts that are hateful and have no other purpose but to cause fear and paranoia and stir up trouble.  This isn't just for other people, its for you too!  It's not just about respecting others its about self respect.  It's not just about being kind to others it's about self love.

Pessimists would have us believe that it's every man for himself.  I reject that concept.  I refuse to accept the idea that showing appreciation and sharing good stories and being compassionate are somehow bad.  Besides all that, we aren't as terrible as 'they' say. (who the heck are 'they' anyway and why do we give them so much power?)

Awhile back I used to post memes about every tragic occurrence that happened in the world. At one point something terrible had happened across the world and I had not heard the news of the event yet. Someone on Instagram made a point of voicing that it was awful how there wasn't s huge response to that event... as if no one cared.

This bothered me.

I cared. I just didn't know about it!
It got me thinking though, how many things happen in other places that I don't know about because they don't get the same media attention here as something closer to home? My response was to quit posting the "pray for..." memes and to keep things positive and "business as usual." I didn't want anyone to feel I left them out.

Now... in no way did I stop praying.... I just didn't make a public issue out if it anymore.

Plus, it can be very hard to concentrate so intensely on the bad stuff for the sake of not leaving anyone out. It can make you think there's nothing good going on anywhere!
This is not true. No matter what the news media would have us believe, most of us are good people just living our lives. There are SO MANY good things going on... just look and see for yourself! I promise you won't be disappointed!

Instead of sharing another awful story that seeks to divide us...
Share stories that are positive, inspirational and uplifting.

Don't share the tragedy and the "who did the bad stuff this time." Your friends already know this. They have such things thrust in front of their faces just the same as you.

What they are NOT seeing is:

the people who are helping

the people who risked their lives for others

the great scientific advancements that are being made for all of us

the creativity of our artists who bring color and joy into our world with their unique talents

the child down the street who donated their lemonade stand money to a charity

the caregivers who bring comfort to the sick and elderly

the teachers who educate our children...
...the list is truly endless!
❤Be good to each other ❤
Kindness really is a superpower
Turn off he news and hug someone!

I was not raised in any particular religion. I was blessed to have parents who allowed me to explore spirituality on my own terms. I do recall as a child, and maybe its because I was raised as an only child, I talked to the divine a lot, (and I still do actually). I suppose "praying" is the correct term but really it felt like more than that. I would talk about my day, about my worries, and other piddly things like about how badly I wanted those High Top L.A. Gears (here I am aging myself! haha)

At some point I started to wonder why "God" is a man. Surely, I surmised, if there is a god that is a man there is one that is a woman. So then I started praying to a Mother God and a Father God. Not too long after I learned about Goddesses and Gods of pantheons from all over the world. I then began praying to individual deities depending on what my prayers were about. This phase lasted many, many years until a few years ago, when I started looking at divinity as an all encompassing spirit that is beyond any kind of anthropomorphism.

In any case, I have felt Divinity move around and through me throughout all those phases of belief. I have learned that little intuitive nudges and hints are actually answers and guidance. I know that if I ask a question, I will be lead to an answer. It may come in a dream or a book may fall open to just the right place providing the information I need. The radio may get stuck on a particular station just when a conversation or set of song lyrics play and in a serendipitous way, answer my questions.

As mysterious as this universal essence of all may be, there are some things I have come to understand. Divinity is always available and connected to us. Even if and especially when we, ourselves, don't feel it. Divinity will never communicate in a threatening or dangerous way, nor insist that you act in one. Divinity will not ask you to harm another or yourself. Divinity will not ever ask for proof of your allegiance such as through fundamental dogma. Fundamentalism in any form, is a dreadful lie. At the heart of fundamentalism is the a human ache to achieve favor from the Divine. The ache we may feel for such a thing is not necessary. The Divine favors us all in equal measure.

If you read through my blog you will notice that my formal name for divinity is the "Sacred Divine." I once had a dear friend question my use of these words. As she put it, "Is there a form of the Divine that is NOT sacred?" The short answer to this is simply, "No." The greater description for me at least is that "Sacred Divine" is not merely a name for a force or a 'being' it is a description of that point when we recognize the simple truth that divinity is not 'out there somewhere' nor is it realizing that the divine is within us, it is in fact knowing that the divine IS us. There is literally no way we can be parted. Being in that moment is pure bliss, a cosmic ecstasy that is all consuming.

So then, this is how I experience the divine. How do you do it? What has your experience been? What is your Divine Connection story?

1/2 cup White vinegar
20 drops Essential Oil of your Choice!
Cloth of some sort. This can be old dish rags cut into 5x5 squares or I personally like buying the reusable dish cloths/paper towels for this.

I lovingly refer to these as 'pickled cloths' because like cucumbers become pickles when soaked in vinegar, cloths become dryer sheets when soaked in vinegar...(OK I know....I'm easily

I use a little airtight container to store my dryer sheets in. It was inexpensive and looks pretty too. I will pour half a cup of white vinegar into this container and add 20 drops of my chosen essential oils. Then put the cloths into the liquid. I have about 20 5x5 cloths in this mixture and they soak it all up, which makes each individual cloth only slightly damp.

You can use any essential oil you like. Below are some recommendations for you:

Patchouli for Love and Protection
Ginger to Attract Wealth and Inspire Courage
Clary Sage to Promote Blissful Feelings and Calm.
Lemon for Health, Healing and Purification

As discussed in the last post, what makes these types of things witchy are your intent and the ingredients you use. So do this with a happy vibe in your heart. Enjoy!

1/4 Cup Grated Soap (I love using Kirks Coco Castile Soap for this!)
1/4 Cup Borax
1/4 Cup Washing Soda (NOT baking soda, you can find this in the laundry isle)
4 Cups of Boiling Water
30 Drops Essential Oils of your choice.

Mix the dry ingredients together and put into a mixing bowl. Pour the boiling water over the mixture and whisk for several minutes until its fairly smooth. This stuff tends to remain a little lumpy but that's OK!)

After you've mixed it (probably till your arm hurts!) add 30 drops of essential oils. What makes this WITCHY instead of just another DIY laundry detergent is twofold:

1. The INTENT you put into making this. Some say you can raise the energy of a mixture by turning the spoon clockwise (or in this case the whisk!) It is difficult to create a magickal thing (whatever it is) to raise up health, prosperity and happiness if you are fuming mad or seriously sad over something. Put on some music before hand or watch a funny movie. Do something that creates a feeling of joy and pour that into your creation.

2. The attributes of the oils you add. Essential oils are not just a great natural way to add fragrance to your laundry, they also have natural anti bacterial properties. I recommend the following oils to help imbue your laundry with a positive and happy home vibration! (use them alone or mix your favorites together. Don't like these ones? Find more here! Need help mixing something up to attain a specific vibe? EMAIL me and I'll create a recipe just for you! No charge!

Lavender for Peace and Calm (great for a house with newborns or young children!)
Grapefruit for Energizing the environment and uplifting our spirits
Cinnamon for Passion (great addition if making this as a gift for a new family starting a home together!)
Rose for Love and Harmony (Who couldn't use that?)

Whisk this together some more and then add to a gallon container (a milk jug works just fine for this!) Fill to the top with water, store out of direct sunlight and shake before each use!

!!!Word of caution! DON'T add baking soda to this. It will make a sealed container expand or burst depending on the amounts used. DO Feel free to add a separate scoop of baking soda to your laundry to boost cleaning power though!

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There was a time, not so long ago, (yet long enough) when I was in one of the biggest Ace of Spades moments of my life.  Deeply troubled, deeply tormented, hurting and heart broken and so very afraid that things would change drastically or even worse, what if they did not change at all? 

Just home from a brief interlude with near death, I was sixteen years old, sitting in the middle of my bed listening to "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas.  Over and over again I played this song as if it was somehow the very thing that would keep me from drowning in the past few months.  Those months were a sadness of such depth that it still shakes me to the core at its memory.  The culmination of those months seemed to me to be the end of everything good. 

Over and Over I played that song.  As if it was also somehow keeping me from moving forward.  The thought of letting go of what had happened, of even letting myself get off of my bed terrified me.  Nothing was going to be the same after all of 'that.'  How could it? I could not imagine for the life of me that if things changed they could get better.  All I knew for sure was that at the moment, on my bed, crying and frozen in place I was in the calm of the storm and nothing could touch me. 

Yet at some point an inner strength of some sort drew me ever so slowly off of my bed.  Obviously I took that step though I can't recall what it was at this moment.  SO much of that time is a blur.  Such is the way of great change.  You find yourself, like the butterfly wrapped up tightly in a cocoon of the finest intentions.  Wound together by silken threads of melancholy and hopelessness, yet you are at peace. 

You are so much at peace that you no longer notice that you have begun to melt.  You are transforming into a version of yourself that is strong enough to rise and fight for your own happiness and place in this ever expanding universe.  You melt and you change.  You change because staying the same is no longer an option.  You need wings now, or you will perish and you can't.  The universe needs you as you need it.  There is still too much left to do, and you are the only one who can do what you do in this world. 

The thing with sprouting wings at last, is you seldom realize you have them until you are 'forced off a cliff' and have no choice but to flap your wings and fly.  It is in that very moment you remember that you wanted to live.  Flapping your wings is a choice and if you were still bogged down by fear, you would have chosen to fall.

The trouble with "Ace of Spades" moments, as I call them, is that they have a tendency to linger somewhere in you if you are not careful.  This happens when you don't release every aspect of those moments.  To do this, you need to be brutally honest with yourself.  You need to fiercely love and forgive yourself.  You need to purge every lie you ever told yourself about anything. 

The sheer pain of these kinds of events often create a wall that hides these things deep inside you until something triggers them to break free.  Until that time you often find yourself reliving similar experiences, until you are 'forced off a cliff' and must choose to fly or fall.  What do you need to release?  What will truly set you free? 

For me, I realized there are many things I forgot to acknowledge and release about that time when I was sixteen:

I forgot that my hurting also hurt others.

I forgot that my hurting caused me to act in ways that were hurtful and confusing to others.

I forgot that I had the right to love unconditionally without having it used against me.

I forgot that I was a child and should not have been placed in the position I had been placed.

I forgot that it was OK and necessary to be angry. 

I forgot that my value was not in how a man looked at me.

I forgot to forgive myself for forgetting all the above and staying stuck in that horrible moment.

I forgot that it is OK to be afraid.

I forgot to keep moving in spite of fear. 

I forgot to love myself fully and completely and without apology.

Many people know full well that cards like the Ace of Spades or the Death card are about change, transformation, release and not really about 'physical' death.  I put it to you that when you find yourself in a moment where death seems the only option, what you are really feeling is an intense need for a change of some sort, but NOT physical death.  'Death' of a situation, 'death' of a relationship, 'death' of only little aspects of situations are what is needed. Not the death of you. At no time will the ending of your own life ever be the thing that fixes everything.

Fight, cry, scream, ask for help but please don't choose to fall.  Stay and fly.  

Yes this post is gloomy.  It is dark.  It is cliche in places.  You know what else though?  It exists.  If I had chosen to 'fall' all those years ago I would have missed so many other moments.  I would have missed falling in love.  I would have missed having children.  I would have missed concerts and books and gallons of coffee happily consumed with friends and family. I would have missed singing and laughing.  I would have missed feeling passionate.  I would have missed creating and sharing and expressing myself.  I would have missed it all and nothing is worth that.

I very briefly titled this, "Well meaning people who break your heart."  but felt it didn't convey the primary message of this post.  It does however convey the underlying message.  Read on...

There I sat, in my most recent counseling appointment, where it happened to come up that I and my thirteen year old son are vegetarian.  Mind you, I go to this person because of my depression...not for nutritional advice.  Anyway....

He began to go over every question that vegetarians and vegans get asked:  "Where do you get your protein?"  "You know you need B-12, right?"  and then was told that it was fine for me being Vegetarian, but that it was going to be detrimental to my sons brain development. Seriously that is a new one on me! 

Here is the part where I mention that I am fantastic at standing up for other people, but myself....not so much.  However this situation was not only about me, it was about my son too.  My bright, brilliant boy who decided to become vegetarian about 6 months after I did, which means he has been meat free for 3 years and going strong!  In our household that means we are half herbivore, (my son and I) and half omnivore, (my husband and daughter)  Our meals are always made in such a way that all of us get enough of what we want to eat.  No one is coerced to eat meat, and no one is coerced NOT to eat it. 

In the beginning of my sons decision to go vegetarian, I kept asking him at meal times if he wanted whatever meat I happened to be preparing for the meat eaters in our house.  He kept saying no.  I made sure to tell him that he didn't have to be vegetarian if he didn't want to be.  I made sure he knew if he ever wanted to start eating meat again, it was his choice and his father and I would support him.  Still, three years on and he's still choosing to be meat free. 

Let me tell you just how remarkable this young man is.  Like my son, I too became vegetarian around his age.  (I've been vegetarian off and on throughout my life)  The difference there, is that I did it in happy, hippy, liberal California where I was NOT the only one like me.  There were other kids trying out vegetarianism.  We didn't have teachers telling us, in front of the whole class, that we weren't getting our nutrients.  (by the way if you are a teacher and you single out one of your students in front of the whole class in this shouldn't be teaching.) We didn't live in a place where it's not uncommon to see bumper stickers that actively make fun of vegetarianism with such snappy quotes as "Vegetarian is an old Indian word for bad hunter."  or "The west wasn't won on salad." 

My son is vegetarian in Oklahoma, in a place where it's actively made fun of. (No offense Oklahoma but this is the truth.)  My son doesn't care about that,  He is stronger at his age than I am now.  I still worry about having these uncomfortable conversations.  So when my counselor had finished his diatribe of anti vegetarian nonsense, I did something that is rare for me to do...I stood up for myself.  I stood up for my son! 

My counselor and I had an exchange of ideas whereby I explained the how and the why of being vegetarian and he explained how, I was completely wrong by saying, "The vast majority of nutritionists would disagree with you." 

I became filled with a rage that is common in the women in the O'Neal side of the family from which I come.  We have a tendency to be called crazy anytime we stand up for ourselves.  I have to say this is a trait I have had a hard time allowing to flourish, probably one of the reasons why I suffer from depression.  Today however, I channeled a bit of that energy with the following statement:

"You know, as for what "nutritionists" have to say, which ones are you referring to?  I have been overweight my whole life.  I have been vegetarian off and on throughout my life.  I, also, for many years followed the Atkins Diet, which is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb way of eating.  Most people who follow that plan eat a ton of meat for the fact that it contains high amounts of fat and protein.  While I was doing that, I read all kinds of articles and studies from Nutritionists and Doctors alike, who supported the Atkins plan.  All of them had their various degrees and certifications by their names. 

On the other side of the coin, when I followed a vegetarian lifestyle, I also read studies and articles from Nutritionists and Doctors who supported plant based eating.  They ALSO had their various degrees and certifications.  Who am I to consider as more legitimate then?  The ones who *I* agree with or the ones who YOU agree with?  They all have a string of letters by their names and credentials supposedly proving their expertise.  Who is correct? "

He finished up by saying that we wouldn't touch on the subject much more for the time being.  Really?!  Maybe I should be "crazy" more often.

With the last few months leaving me feeling very unwell emotionally I left this appointment feeling rather victorious!  I said what I wanted to say, when I needed to say it.  Unlike many other similar situations in my life I didn't shut down and bottle up my thoughts because it had been made clear that they were deemed to be useless this time,

I ... SPOKE ... UP! 

Flash forward a few hours when I went to see some people who I thought had been supportive all this time about our vegetarianism.  These people also know the struggles I've been having these past few months, as well as in the very same week, dealing with my husband being seriously ill in the hospital.  I had a lot on my plate that week and my mustering up the courage to defend myself, felt like winning some kind of award!  Really I felt awesome for finally speaking my mind.   So when I tried...mind you .... TRIED to tell them all about my triumphant way of standing up for my beliefs I abruptly had the rug ripped out from under me.  One of these people said, " Well I agree with your counselor on this, your son needs extra nutrients."  Mind you this is a person who also thinks drinking soy milk will cause a man to grow breasts.   (THAT IS NOT TRUE EITHER! BTW)

In conclusion, I really wish to convey that I do not actively try to convert anyone to my way of doing anything.  I do however expect the same respect in consideration. Enough with the protein questions already!  Humans are remarkable creatures who can thrive on all kinds of nutrition philosophies. 

Being meat free is not harmful to any human no matter the age.

I have a very dear friend who raises meat.  We get along just fine.  Without even asking, her and her husband always go out of their way to make sure my son has vegetarian options when he and my daughter stay at their house to play with their kids.  This is they way humans should work together in my view.  I treasure their friendship very much. 

Please also read my blog post, Education not judgement.

For anyone who is interested in vegetarianism and veganism I recommend the following:

Cowspiracy - Now streaming on netflix!

Potato Strong - Hearty, tasty, healthy, quick plant-based low fat no oil diet !

We Don't Eat Animals - by Ruby Roth   - Books and Art and Activism for a New Generation.

Dr. John McDougall - Plant based nutrition from a medical doctor.

The Kind Life - with Alicia Silverstone

P.S. If you are a meat eating parent of a vegetarian kid....don't sneak meat into their food. It's not necessary AT ALL, and it only teaches them they can't trust you.