My Choice

Here it is.  I found it.  I am reading a book by Pema Chodron, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times.  She starts off Chapter 4 saying, "It's up to us.  We can spend our lives cultivating our resentments and cravings or we can explore the path of the warrior-nurturing open-mindedness and courage".  Some person decided to write in pencil, "no, it's not, it's up to the Creator of us-God!"  And therein lies my problem.

We are not exempt from the responsibility of our lives, whether we are "saved" or not.  I truly believe, with all my heart, we are co-creators with the Divine.  I did not come up with this, but it resonates deeply within me.  I did not start to wake up, start to live consciously until I realized and decided I am responsible for every single choice and decision I make.  Bailing out and leaving it up to Jesus or God to save me without putting in the work is ridiculous.  And yet, much of our world here in America at least, believes in that.

This is not to say I do not believe in miracles or unexpected turnarounds or changes in behavior.  Because I do.  But by and large, most of those choices come from a decision in the heart.  Not a one-time decision, but an ongoing decision.  Instead of asking Jesus to save us, we can and should save ourselves in a sense.  Now, I'm far from an expert in understanding how this works.  But I do know I have always been at odds with people telling me how to live my life on the one hand, and then telling me I will stand before God alone.  Doesn't work both ways.  If I am standing alone before God at the end of my life, then I will make sure to own my choices. 

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LOVE

I found something last night in one of my notebooks I had written on 11/16/2016, when I asked myself if I could create an acronym for love.  This is what came to me:

L - Listen

O- Observe

V- Value

E- Empathize

Listen - "to wait attentively for a sound".  Listen is a verb, an active word.  Too often we are listening only to come up with our reply, or we butt in and do not give people a chance to speak.  Another word for listen is hear - "to listen to; give or pay attention to" One of the things my mom taught me was to pay attention to not just what people are saying and doing, but why they are saying and doing what they are.

Observe - "to regard with attention, especially so as to see or learn something".  This word is also a verb, a word of action.  It ties in to the above, pay attention what is underlying why people are doing or saying certain things, not only what they are doing or saying. 

Value - "to regard or esteem highly".  Another verb.  When you value a person, you listen and observe to learn and understand the why of what they are doing, not just the what, even when you may not agree.  

Empathize - "to experience empathy", which is "the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another".  That is a big one and requires us to come out of ourselves and into the experience of another.  Or, the other, as is sometimes used.

In my own life, love has most often called upon me to step out of what is comfortable.  To not make the easy choice, but the difficult one.  To suspend what I would most like to do for the sake of another.  Not out of my need to be valued for what I can do for someone else but because I value them as a person and think about what they might be going through.  Working to join them in whatever it is they are going through and to be with them in that.  Whether or not I agree is irrelevant,  and I don't get to decide whether or not what they are feeling or going through is valid.  

We can all listen more, observe more, value more and empathize more.  Coming out of yourself for the sake of another is not weak, instead it shows an incredible amount of strength.  

Reverence

We have lost it.  Our reverence for life.  In our obsession with avoiding death, that is the very thing our culture and our world perpetuates over and over and over again.  Weapons of mass destruction.  Tanks and guns and bombs and death and more death over and over and everywhere.

Our televisions are filled with it, our video games rife with it.  You can get in more trouble for stealing money than you can for killing someone. People say that might is right and the only way to enforce peace is through strength.  I believe there are different kinds of strength.

The peace that passes all understanding cannot be secured with guns or bought with another barrel of oil.  And the reverence for life that needs to be restored will require a great amount of strength, a great amount of courage that does not come from any source of external power, because external power will never suffice.  No matter how much you have, death is never eluded.  And thus the cycle repeats over and over and over again.  As they say, what you resist persists.

It hurts my heart to see the level of damage we as human beings inflict on each other on a daily basis.  And we will never stop until we grasp the fact that we are all the same.  We share the same DNA, we share the same stardust.  That is true power, true strength, grasping the fact that we are all the same.  When the trickle becomes a stream, the stream becomes a river, and the breeze of change becomes a full-blown wind.  

People say it doesn't matter, nothing will change, human nature is all the same.  Maybe we have been until now.  And maybe we will be for more generations to come.  But I'm not so sure.  I feel the winds of change blowing in my soul, and I know others feel it too.  When we all come together and realize nothing has to separate us, we can do things we thought impossible. 

I don't know exactly why I'm writing this.  But I do know writing gives me an outlet, a place to express my thoughts, an avenue to do something, anything.  Truth and authenticity are words thrown around a lot in the land of false idols and fake friends.  I for one will strive to keep those values at the core of who I am, and encourage others to do the same.  The world needs more people who have come alive and live their life in the authentic pursuit of truth, their truth.  That is authentic power and that can and most often does change the world. 

 

Words

My mom loved words.  You would often find her reading the dictionary, giving people little notes.  

My dad loves words too.  He's a writer, a thinker and has four self-published books to his name.  Not bad.

The Bible says, paraphrased of course, in Proverbs 18;21 that the "tongue has the power of life or death".  I believe that to be true.  They can hurt, or they can harm.  Once spoken, they can be forgiven, though hard-pressed to be forgotten.

Many people throw words around carelessly, lobbing them like emotional grenades.  Words are powerful.  And they hurt.  Words burn in our psyches for a long time, sometimes even outlasting the people who said them.

Why are we always quoting what this person said or that person said if words have no power?  My word is my bond.  I gave you my word.  You gave me your word.  You went back on your word.

Especially in this time, be careful with your words.  We tell children all the time to "use your words".  I think we as adults need to also follow that admonishment but in addition, use them to heal and not harm.

I have discovered I too have a deep love of words.  I intend to do my best to use my words to heal the world, not harm it.  That is part of my life's work.

I decided to say thank you today to someone publicly on Facebook.  It felt good for me to do it, and it felt good for them to receive it.  And I daresay it brought us that much closer.  

So use your words.  And realize the power that lies in them.  Will you heal, or will you harm?

 

Samhain

I am not entirely sure what this blog will end up being about.  I just know I haven't written in 3 weeks and I am itching to do so now.  This happens to me when I am taking on something new.  I use the majority of my energy learning new things, so sometimes the other things in my life (writing) suffer.   Once I've got it sorted out, then I get back to a more normal routine.  In this case, it happens to be a new job, working at Voicebox in SE Portland.  If you have no idea what Voicebox is, take a peek at our site.  A "private-suite" karaoke lounge, the only one of its' kind in our fair city.  I make reservations over the phone for people to come in and sing their hearts out in the privacy of their own rooms.  We also have a full bar, and tasty food options.  Pretty cool.  For the first time in maybe my whole entire life, I am working at jobs I enjoy.  

For a long, long time, I didn't realize you could create a life you love.  I didn't realize I had the choice to make my life exactly as I wanted it.  I took what was offered, having little in the way of knowledge about who I was and what my heart desired.  It's taken some time.  Years, honestly, for me to figure this out.  I still don't have it totally figured out, but I've got a lot of it figured out.  At least some of the parts of what I want to spend my life doing.  

Tomorrow, for the first time in over a year, I will be working an 8-hour day.  That in itself is something for me to celebrate.  I technically work three jobs, part-time.  Lyft, Uber and now Voicebox.  I tend to count Lyft and Uber as the same job though.  So in truth it is only two.  And then there's the writing.  That is not something I have figured out how to monetize.  Once I get my Voicebox training and schedule down, and my driving schedule down, I will shift my focus to what my writing career is going to look like.  I don't know if I can ever go back to a 40-hour work week.  I love this freedom too much.

We all have dreams.  Some of us figure out we can live our dreams, and some are buried deep, and some rise to the surface by an unexpected turn this way or that.  Whatever the case, the last year has been incredible for me.  And I intend my life to keep going in this trajectory, upwards.  Maybe not in the ways you think.  Not in terms of promotions, or a fancier car, or a bigger place.  But in the ways that count to me.  Finishing my books.  Working on my original music.  Refinishing furniture.  Taking more photographs.  Traveling to even more places.  

I learned recently, from Felicity Hayes-McCoy, that for pagan Celts, November 1st was the beginning of their year, Samhain.  Felicity is the writer of "House on an Irish Hillside", a book I picked up at a bookstore in Dingle while I was in Ireland.  I was lucky enough to get a signed copy!  Samhain is still the Irish word for November, and the pagan Celts started their new year in winter, rather than spring, as "their world-view celebrated dark times, recognising that life itself comes from darkness and a dormant seed." Our Halloween "is an echo of the ancient Celtic belief that on Oíche Shaman (Samhain or Halloween Night as we know it) the spirits of the dead returned to the homes they'd once lived in. People believed that - provided the living recognised and respected their ancestors' presence - the dead would protect them. So each year the dead were welcomed with food, fires, music and dancing. That way they they wouldn't get offended. And get nasty."  

Samhain is a time of transition, and this time of year I always seem to be in that transition period. This year, I started a new job, and I will be on the move again.  I've spent the better part of this year living in NE Portland, renting a room from a long-time friend of my family.  Now, I will be relocating to Sellwood, in the SE part of Portland, and renting a room from good friends of mine.  


It's been an interesting journey over the last year.  I have revisited a lot of the places where old wounds needed to be healed.  Kind of like a do-over for me.  It's like all of the circles are closing, healing over.  NE is where my parents lived, where I spent my teenage and young adult years.  I'm not going to go into all the stories, but this and many other locations held painful memories for me, and now they have been replaced with good memories. I went back to Montana to see my Dad.  I went back to work for a company that let me go some years ago.  I guess perhaps Sellwood is my last "do-over".  I am very excited about this new chapter in my life.  And, many of the most important things and people in my life are in that area of town.   So here's to the transition times, to Samhain, to death and rebirth and the life that comes from a darkness and the dormant seeds within us all.  Perhaps next year I will celebrate Samhain in Ireland.