Thursday, March 31, 2011

This too shall pass

My childhood cat, Quinne, was put to sleep yesterday evening. It is a big loss for me and I'm very sad. He truly was the most awesome, loving cat in the world. I was thinking earlier about how it feels like a part of my teen and young adult years are gone, as he was with us for over 16 years...and I got to thinking about loss in general. I realized suddenly that first you witness the loss of your childhood, then you see the loss of your younger years, the loss of your middle years, culminating in the loss of your earthly life. One after the other, the experience of loss is one that cannot be avoided. 

However, perhaps the way I am viewing it is part of the issue of why it can seem so painful at times. Maybe it should not be considered loss so much as constant change, or the arising and passing away of all things. It has been said that the only thing guaranteed is change. Things come and go and perhaps our lack of acceptance of this, our need to keep things as they are, frozen in one moment or the other, forever fixed in the state we wish them to be, is the source of discomfort that can sometimes arise in people (or for some, is ever present). How many people are there that you know who talk about the good old days that are gone, or time that they lost? How many people are there that you know who lament about getting older?

Likewise, people can spend their whole lives waiting for the time when they will get everything in order and will then finally be settled and content. This, too, is a source of discomfort because that moment will never come. Every "thing" will never be permanently in order even if you do manage to achieve your goals because it will all eventually change or dissolve. Nothing is stagnant. How many people are there that you know who say, "I'll be happy when I...." or "I just have to get/do this and then I can really start to enjoy my life." In one way or another, it seems that many people are fixated on what was lost or on something that can never be gained - a finality of the present moment that doesn't shift, change, or bring loss of what was once had. It is hard to accept life as it comes and goes, just as it is.

I am reminded of the story/parable This Too Shall Pass, where a king realizes that no matter what happens in his life, no matter what he gains or loses, despite the riches and the wars, it is ALL only temporary, and so he learns to sit back and smile while witnessing every part of his life. I think that the goal is to realize that everything is transient so that we can see what the real goal is, which is to look inward for our peace and enjoy and accept the present fully as it is, because this too, like my dear Quinne, will certainly pass.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Non-dairy deliciousness? I think so

If you are like me and love a sweet treat but don't want to deal with digesting all of the dairy and processed sugar in regular ice cream (as yummy as it is), Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss is totally a must try. Get this - it is organic, non-dairy, gluten free, soy free, vegan, and low glycemic - very cool. You can also understand all of the ingredients and there are not too many of them - a sure sign that it's healthier than other food products with words like "malgerdenitobrominextros" on the back. (Yes, I made that word up, but my point is that we have to try to stay away from scary substances like that.) Here is the kicker... Are you ready? It is actually delicious. Boasting flavors like Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge, Vanilla Island, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and, my favorite (partly because the name is so cool), Mint Galactica, it's hands down the best non-dairy ice cream I've tried. Seriously, yum. (They should pay me to help them advertise.)

You can find Luna & Larry's Coconut Bliss at a store near you by searching their website's Store Locator. However, keep in mind that it may also be found at stores not listed on the website. (My grocery store is selling the sweet stuff, but they are not on their list.) Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Makes you think about what's important

What is in my heart and coming out of my speakers right now is "Underneath" by Alanis Morissette.

Quinny, one of the coolest cats ever

One of Quinne's favorite pastimes is lounging with my father as he reads the morning paper.

Quinny sitting with me on my lap, another favorite pastime.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Saying goodbye to Quinne

This past weekend was probably the last time that I will get to spend with my childhood cat Quinne. He has several tumors in his face and ears that are spreading quickly. Within the last month he has lost a lot of weight. You can see the evidence of the tumors from his swelled face, his wounded mouth hangs open, his jaw is displaced, and his eye is swollen shut. He can't walk straight, stumbles every couple of steps, and is now unable to clean himself properly. Friday morning, he tried to jump onto the computer printer (a jump he's taken hundreds of times) and fell behind it, getting wedged between the furniture and the wall. Thankfully, my father was nearby and got him out. It's hard for me to even think about these things, but this is reality. He's dying. Yet, the minute you come near him, he still purrs deeply, and when you walk in the front door, he wobbles over to greet you.

He's a little over 16 now, so he has lived a long life, and a very nice one. He was allowed outside whenever he wished and was spoiled with illegal lounging on my father's newspaper on the dining room table. (Who can resist a purring cat who relentlessly wants to sit on YOUR section of the paper instead of the shabby one set aside to appease him?) Quinny always let me lay my head on his belly whenever I cried (more than once over the years) and he would comfort me by purring and pushing his head against mine as his tail flicked around, telling me he loved me. He was a protector of our other cat, Sammy (the sweetest wimpy feline you ever met, who passed away prematurely years ago) when raccoons threatened to attack on the back deck of our old house. And he always talked to us (his family) and wanted to be near us. Above all, Quinne always loved everyone. He never judged or preferred, just loved.

What I saw happening this weekend was painful to watch. I found myself following him around the house, trying to make sure he didn't fall and lifting him up to get to wherever he wanted to go and then placing him down again. I hovered over him while he ate, pushing his wet food into a pile over and over again so that he could get it into his mouth more easily. I got warm wet tissues to wipe his face with, and then pet him until he seemed content and resting. When I didn't know where he was, I went roaming around the house looking for him. I was grateful to be visiting my parents so that I was able to have this valuable time with him.  

My family had conversations about when would be the right time to put him to sleep. I've never had the experience of having to decide something like this before. One of us thought that we should have done it already because, "What if he falls when we are not around and hurts himself? What if he's in pain and we don't know it?" Some of us thought that since he is purring, still greeting us, still wants to take little walks outside, and is still eating, that we should let him continue to enjoy himself until the enjoyment stops - but would we be able to tell when that time came? One of us just couldn't bear to think about it at all. Of course, we all agreed that passing away in his sleep would be the best way. Ultimately, it was decided that although he seems uncomfortable, he still appears to be enjoying life. He walks around outside, eats, wants to be with us, and purrs. So, we will put him to rest as soon as he seems to be suffering. Better to let him rest than to allow him to suffer. What an extraordinarily difficult decision; If only cats could talk.

Quinny slept under my bed Friday night, and in the middle of the night kept circling it until I placed him by my feet where he could sleep with me.  I am amazed by the grace I witnessed this weekend. He was peaceful and seemed full of acceptance in the face of dissolution. He continues to love, and continues to just be, regardless of the situation. That's a life lived to the fullest. It is a life lived in the present moment. A life lived with acceptance and enjoyment of the little things. We can learn so much from our pets, if we are willing to. When I said goodbye to him, I stroked his fur and gave him a last kiss with gratitude on top of his head. He will be returning to where he came from. He will be missed.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The power of the squat

I am so lucky that my friend is training me at the gym for free. I bought her a membership to Planet Fitness ($10 a month!), and we work out together. Being the buff, expert gym-goer that she is, I certainly need her guidance, and she happens to be a big fan of the squat. I'm serious. The last time we worked out, that's all she wanted to do. Let's squat and do a shoulder press with weights, squat and lift the weights out in front of you, squat and jump. Squat and jump?! Yes, squat and jump. Man, those things hurt! I did the best that I could.

Later on, after the gym, she sent me the article "Squats: How to Tone Your Butt and Legs With the Squat," which is all about the benefits of squat exercises. Did you know that they work all of the following muscle areas: hamstring, thigh, calf, abdominal, back, AND butt? Apparently doing squats works out more muscles at once than most other exercises, and so you subsequently burn more calories and tone more muscles all in one shot. Alright then, bring on the squat!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Deals so awesome, you might get carried away (like me)

I found out about Groupon (a site that sells awesome deals to local restaurants, events, activities, classes, etc. at a large discount) a little over a year ago, bought my first deal (a half-off deal for pottery painting), and was immediately hooked. Since that time, I have found several other companies that offer deals, have purchased and used a bunch of them, and have also accumulated what is now twelve deals that I have yet to use. The deals are so amazing, and since I'm someone who likes to get out and do things, it's just too hard to not purchase them! With half-priced billiards, sushi, Yankees tickets, mani-pedis, voice lessons, and tons of other amazing experiences flying my way, I can't resist!

If you haven't already, check out the sites I've listed below and subscribe to their daily emails to get great deals (some will only be for the New York City area, but several cater to other cities, too).

Living Social
Lifebooker Loot
Spa Sally's $25 Tuesdays

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Is it time to revamp your home?

If you do a search on the internet using terms like "feng shui clean home," "disorganized home relaxation," and "clutter stress," you will begin to see a pattern. Having a disorganized, unclean, or clutter-filled home blocks the energy flow within and around you, increases stress, and has an overall negative impact on your life.

Think about the last time you were in a space that made you feel so good, just by being in it. Go on, take a minute, close your eyes, and really remember what it looked and felt like...

Generally, it probably had a few, if not all, of the following traits: clean, open, filled with light, matching color scheme (even if it was a palette of neutrals), working fixtures/furniture, odorless/pleasing scent, and organized. It also probably felt welcoming, comfortable, and calming and/or invigorating.  It's a type of space that prompts you to say, "I love your place!" It's somewhere that you want to stay.

If you think back to a space that didn't make you feel so great (or if you are currently living in one), it probably had or has a few of these characteristics: filthy, cramped, odorous, not enough lighting, mismatched color scheme or obnoxious mix of colors, damaged fixtures/furniture, and/or disorganized. It probably felt unwelcoming, uncomfortable, or awkward, or perhaps you just had a sense of dis-ease without a desire to stay a while. Who wants to live or spend time in a place like that? You certainly don't deserve to.

There are several steps you can take to start to change your home. When I moved into my apartment five years ago, I took many small actions over the course of time that inevitably created the home I have adored for a long time now. I remember standing in the doorway of my living room one night after I had made a lot of changes over a few months and thinking, "Oh my gosh, I LOVE my apartment!" Coming home and walking in my front door always brings a sigh of relief, and when I look around, I feel joy and contentment. If you don't already, you can have this too. 

Step 1: Keep your home clean! (If you already do this, skip to the next step.) Just do it. Take a full day this weekend, throw on some sweats, turn up the music, and deeply clean your home. Put all the clothes away, organize the kitchen, mop the floor, make your bed, do the laundry, etc. Don't worry about doing anything else in your home on this day (you don't want to get distracted and then be too tired to finish the job) - just get your place clean, and find a place for everything. Then, from that point forward, keep up with it. 

Step 2: Start the process of eliminating clutter. There are all sorts of articles and books that can help you do this, but the main thing is to START. Get yourself into the mindset that you are ready to clear out your life to create more space for joy, peace, and other amazing things. Then take each object and ask yourself, "Do I use this? Do I absolutely love and adore this? Do I need this?" Give away to salvation army anything that does not get strong responses to these questions. Remind yourself: If it doesn't bring you joy, do you really want it around? Do a certain amount of clutter elimination on a regular basis (as it can be overwhelming) until you have gotten through every single one of your belongings. Trust me, the feeling of clearing out old, unproductive, unloved material items will literally bring about a physical feeling within you that shouts of glorious renewal. (This process is especially powerful if undertaken after or during a big life change.) Definitely consult with the many articles online about how to let go of material belongings and de-clutter your home!

Step 3: Get organized. Once you have eliminated the clutter in your home, you can start to think about what you have left to work with and what you want to do with it. You may realize that putting your jeans in that drawer doesn't work as well as putting them on a shelf in your closet. Or, you may realize after many sweaty hours of pushing your living room furniture into countless arrangements (like me) that the one you love is of course the one you designed three hours ago. But so what? Experiment! Experiment! Experiment! Move things around. Read about Feng Shui. Invite friends over to make suggestions on how you can rearrange your furniture and/or organize your belongings. Have fun with it! See what FEELS good.

Step 4: Think about design and decorating. Once you have done the best with what you have and organized your belongings and rearranged your furniture to a suitable design, begin to think about your style. What colors make you happy? What emotion do you want to evoke in different areas of your home - calm, energetic, creative? What types of artwork and decor make you smile? In other words, what are you drawn to? Are there pieces of furniture that you could use that you don't have, or that might work better in your home than what you are currently using? For some people, these may not be easy questions to answer. Or, like me, you may like so many things that you have a hard time making a decision. I found that looking in catalogs (like those from IKEA) was very helpful in directing my sense of style and helping me to conjure up my idea of an ideal home. Once you get an idea of what you like, you can slowly begin bringing elements of that style into your home. 

Note: Do not be afraid if you do not have a lot of money. I had pretty much no money when I moved into my apartment (true story). I just kept my eyes peeled, went into bargain stores and kept my ears open, and whenever I saw something affordable that I could handle buying, or whenever I was offered something, I snatched it up. Bargain shopping takes effort - yes - but it is not impossible. A television stand that also holds big stereo surround-sound speakers and a sound system for $29.99 from a local bargain shop that doesn't look cheap? Yup! A hand-me-down black coffee table from a friend for free but with a long, arduous walk in the blazing sun in the middle of summer with frequent breaks and cursing in order to get it to my place? You know it! A gorgeous modern re-design of an antique chair pulled out of the refuse area of an architectural design firm and brought on the subway home after work? That's right! Finding highly-rated pieces of inexpensive furniture for purchase on reputable websites, but needing to spend hours putting them together in your home only to find out you have put them together the wrong way and need to start all over again? Part of the joy! ...I think you get my point.

The process of creating a beautiful home that you love may take some time, but it is worth the effort! Again, enlist the support of the internet and friends for design ideas. Some ideas that can alter a space without spending much money include: wall decals, large art prints, curtains, wall tapestries, shelving, and decorative pillows, to name a few. Keep in mind that you do NOT want to add clutter. Design is about working with what you have (unless, of course, you can afford to start from scratch) and adding only that which will enhance the enjoyment of your home. As you bring in new things that you love, try to become more willing to replace or get rid of that which you don't. For example, bringing in a new bedspread can do wonders for the feel of a bedroom.

Step 5: Paint! Although painting is a part of design and decor (Step 4), I felt it should have a category of its own because it can be extremely influential on the entire mood of your home. Take your time with choosing paint. Color is powerful and has the ability to influence your emotional feelings, as well as the physical feeling of a space. Think about the images of homes or spaces that you liked in the magazines that you looked through and pick out some of your favorite colors. Consider whether or not they work with the color palette that your possessions already possess (such as your couches, carpet, furniture, etc.) Think about the paint choice from room to room. Are you going to paint every room and every wall? (For example, I only painted two opposing walls in my living room.) Do the colors flow? Does each color fit with the purpose of the room? (For example, bright orange can be a very invigorating color, so you may want to carefully consider if you want such a color in your bedroom.) Think about whether or not you want a space to look bigger or smaller. Cool colors recede and can therefore make a space look larger, whereas warm colors jump out at you and make a space look smaller. 

As you can see, there is much to consider when it comes to painting the interior of your home and I highly recommend doing some further research on the subject. However, one thing is certain, paint is one of the fastest, cheapest, most potent ways to change the entire vibe of your home. (Make sure you use non-toxic paint! Your health is too important not to.)

Step 6: Continue taking these steps. Of course, you won't be repainting very frequently, but it is important to continue keeping your home clean, consistently look out for newly accumulated clutter, and to bring fresh life into your home when you feel the need to re-work the design in order to get it up-to-date with your ever-changing, amazing self!

Again, I know these steps may seem like a lot of work, but remember that you can do them slowly over time (except Step 1!) Investing time and energy into creating and maintaining an enjoyable, welcoming, calm, comfortable space to call home is essential. Trust me, with everything we have going on in our lives, we need a safe oasis to return to that makes us happy and where we can rest and recharge. You deserve that!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Delicious breakfast treat

The Chocolate Dipped Coconut Luna Bar that I had for breakfast this morning was so delicious (and relatively healthy). If you haven't tried it yet, definitely check it out. It's like a healthier version of an Almond Joy Candy Bar and therefore much more satisfying. Yum. I think it may even have replaced my previous favorite Luna Bar flavor, which was Chocolate Peppermint Stick. Oh who am I kidding? They are both amazing. Now I just wish I had a decaf hazlenut coffee, but lemon green tea is better for me anyway.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Where the hell is Matt?

This is a very powerful video. Although its purpose was a marketing tool for Stride Gum - which I really don't find to be too pertinent of a purpose to the world, or moving in any way - it is still a totally glorious thing to watch. Seriously. And, actually, I take what I said about Stride Gum back; At least they are finding a beautiful, inspiring way to market their product, as opposed to having some idealized, unrealistic-looking model chewing their gum on screen or something. (Good for you, Stride Gum!)

Anyway, as I was saying, this guy Matt travels the world and invites some of the local people in each area he visits to come out and dance with him. The choice of music is perfect and I don't think the video would have had quite the same effect without it. To me, it seems to send a message of unity, hope, and world beauty. I think this is especially powerful and emotionally potent because of all of the separation, violence, war, famine, and other negative things that are going on in the world today. So, please enjoy the video "Where the hell is Matt?"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Can my heart break if it is only made of atoms?

Years ago, maybe nine years as an estimate, I created a mixed-media painting (oil, acrylic, and pen and ink). It was probably the best painting I've ever made. It showed organic shapes elegantly exploding from the epicenter of the painting in brilliant jewel tones of deep rouge, emerald, and golden yellow. The tones were gradually blended throughout each shape from darker tones on the inside and slightly lighter shades towards the edge. Within each shape where circle, scale-like, ink lines, drawn many times, almost lining the inside edges of parts of the shapes. 

I really loved that piece of art because I felt like it totally depicted what I eventually knew to be true, and the title is a clear indicator that somewhere, deep inside, a part of me knew what the rest of me didn't. The title of the piece became, "Can My Heart Break if it is Only Made of Atoms?" The truth is, no, my heart wouldn't be able to break if it was only made of atoms. Of course it is not only made of particles of energy, invisible to the eye. That's not what any of this world only is at all. At a time in my life when things felt quite difficult and I was lost, I knew deep down that there was more. I just hadn't found it yet. That's what that painting represented to me - the "more," the "deeper meaning," "God," "our inner light."

I don't know where that painting is now. I gave it to someone a long time ago, and I didn't even get a picture of it first - silly me! Realistically, it is probably in a dump somewhere, and that's okay. I now realize that the material part of it is not what is important...I could even probably recreate it, to a certain extent, if I really wanted to. What is important, however, as a dear friend of mine made me realize, is the meaning behind that painting, why I miss it, and what I've learned from it, then, while creating it, and now, while looking back.

I miss painting

Self-Portrait (Circa 2001)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Yoga, how I love thee ♥

Yoga is totally amazing. I have become a devoted fan. From what I understand, yoga was developed in India many years ago in order to prepare people for meditation and aid them in achieving deeper meditation. That sounds totally perfect and about right to me.

The first few times I did yoga, I was more focused on how to do the positions properly and spent the time in class struggling to learn and train my body in the practice. However, now that I am more versed in yoga and my body is more accustomed to it, my experience with it has changed. The whole process now feels much more in the moment and organic, with benefits that are increasing as I continue to practice. During my practice I am present, with my body, breathing in and out, feeling the stretching and strengthening of my body moment to moment. I can feel the release, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally as well, with each breath as I move. By the end of the practice my body is wholly tired, but a peaceful, strong tired. As I lay there, it feels like my mind is functioning at a deeper level effortlessly. Meditation feels like the proper next action. Calmness overcomes me.

If you are more concerned, or equally concerned, with whether or not yoga will be a sufficient workout, rest assured that it is. Of course, it depends on the type of yoga class you take and the teacher that you get, but generally yoga is a great workout. Many methods of exercise offer cardio/aerobic or strength training/weight lifting benefits. What is often missing in people's workout routines is serious flexibility training. Yoga offers flexibility and general strength training, muscle toning, improved balance, core strength development, as well as emotional and mental benefits (stress release and development of a focused mind) - all in one session. Also, if you get the right teacher, you will sweat your butt off! So, as I said, yoga is totally amazing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Free music that's not illegal

Some of my friends, one in particular, told me more than once that the library is an awesome place to rent movies and CDs for free. The movies are for temporary enjoyment, of course - a rental for free - but the CDs are also free downloads. I finally decided to check this out for myself. So far, I have downloaded nine CDs to my music library and now have something like $93 worth of mp3s for nothing. I love the idea of public information. There's no way I would have downloaded all of these amazing songs if I had to pay $1 each because I am not really familiar with all of them. Now I get to broaden my musical knowledge base thanks to this amazing library system. I can't wait to check out the lesser-known songs of Charlotte Church, Lee Ann Womack, Enya, Lucinda Williams, Rod Stewart (Yup! Rod Stewart!), Alison Krauss, Regina Spektor, Tori Amos...and more.

Music is so important. It can help us grieve, heal, get in touch with our feelings, celebrate life, learn, discover, etc. Thank you, Queens Library.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Let us pray for Japan. The world needs as much love as it can get right now. ♥

Kids are hilarious

Check out the video "Emerson - Mommy's Nose is Scary!"

"Super Nanny" is super

Now, I don't have kids, but I do teach them, and I have to say that there are two sources I have encountered that seem to have good ideas about discipline, strategies, and how to create productive, peaceful environments with and for children. These two resources are the television show "Super Nanny" and the book Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman. Time and time again, Jo Frost (the star nanny of "Super Nanny") gives strategic tactics, demonstrates successfully how to transform a chaotic household, and consistently maintains patience and calm regardless of the situation. I love that she does not believe in spanking and encourages parents to spend quality time with their children, engage them, get them excited about things, encourage their growth, and create loving bonds with them. Overall, I think she rocks and even I (a woman with no children) have learned so much from her!

In Have a New Kid by Friday, Dr. Kevin Leman outlines a set of strategies to use when running a household with children, all which have similar results and goals to those of Jo Frost. The show "Super Nanny" tends to lend itself towards households with younger children, whereas Leman's book seems to discuss overall strategies that can be used at any age. Also, being that Have a New Kid by Friday is a book, you get a sort of instruction manual that covers a wealth of information in one place and tells you, step by step, what actions to take. It also includes a bunch of common questions with answers for you to refer to whenever necessary. I kept my copy after reading it so that I could refer to it as needed.  However, the show gives tons of fun tips, information on child-rearing such as potty training, etc., and shows how a family uses strategies to transform.  You can watch them in action, actually see how the children react, and basically see the strategies modeled for you.

If you are looking for ways to improve your interaction with children, I highly recommend checking out both resources!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Donate to Japan

If you are considering donating to Japan, Direct Relief International and AmeriCares seem to be great organizations. If you are unsure of what organization to donate to, the website Charity Navigator has great statistical information and ratings on a list of charities that are currently aiding Japan. This can help you make the best choice of who to donate to so that the maximum amount of your donation goes directly to those in need.

How could you not feel happy after hearing this?

What's playing on my screen and out of my speakers is "You're So Beautiful" by the Pat McGuire Band.


I think I may be getting sick again. I spent nine days recovering from something, had a breather of about four days, and am now battling something again. I'm taking Zicam Chewables, dissolving Oscillococcinum on my tongue, ate spicy food for dinner, decided not to push myself so canceled exercising, am drinking tons of fluids, and am determined to get A LOT of sleep tonight. I have a few theories as to why I may be getting sick:

1. My immune system was still weak from being sick a week ago.

2. Yesterday morning on the train to work, a man was standing right in front of me as I was seated and kept coughing right down on me, without covering his mouth. I tried to sort of bend over and hide my face, but there really was nowhere to hide.

3. I tutor two young boys every Wednesday (last night). They sit on either side of me and talk very close to my face the whole two hours, touching my water bottle, grabbing my arm, and just generally being kids around me. They are in such close proximity to me for over two hours in one sitting that if they have ANY germs on them or don't wash their hands, I'm sure they find their way to me somehow and make me a goner.

4. I work in a grade 6-12 school. Enough said with that one.
5. I have been getting seven hours or (usually) less of sleep per night.

6. I have been snacking before bed.

7. I believe I am getting sick, which is probably actually making me sick. (The mind is a powerful thing!)

Of course it could be a few of these combined as well. Whatever the cause, let's just hope that when I wake up tomorrow - it's gone!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Reach towards the light

Right now, what's playing on my screen and out of my speakers is "Let Go" by Lindsay McCaul.

It'll all be perfect then

The last six years of my life have consisted of an amount of growth I was not sure I was capable of until after it occurred. I realized that happiness comes from within, not without. With that conceptual understanding, these past years have been about slowly really comprehending fully what that means, and aligning my being and life with that reality. The reality that happiness is being one with God, the light that is the true us. Everything else can be used as an opportunity to either move closer to God, or further away and perhaps the hope that we will use it to move closer to God is what it is all here for.

With this life-altering realization, I was never the same. I also understood that my whole reality was askew. I was on the constant search for something that would make me finally feel the happiness I had always craved. I'll be happy when I lose twenty pounds. I'll be happy when I fall in love with the one of my dreams. I'll be happy when I get away from my family. I'll be happy when I move to New York City. I'll be happy when I'm famous. I'll be happy when? It was a question I was always trying to answer, but could never find the answer to.

So, after the most significant spiritual experience of my life, I thought that I had broken the spell. I knew that there was no "I'll be happy when." Happiness was now, I knew. It's interesting though... A discovery can feel so urgently potent and uniquely wise. It can feel like you have found the answer. The funny thing is that there is often more.

Granted, some earthly human souls seem to have a moment of enlightenment, and then understand what can't be made to understand. However, most of us seem to have a slower journey, and I am one of those souls. I thought that I knew what mattered. I couldn't express it, but the fact was that I realized somewhere deep inside of me (that didn't have a place) that no "thing" mattered. It felt like the deepest form of love was all that there truly was in the world. It was this deep love for everything. Everyone. The volcanoes, earthquakes, angry people on the train, screaming teenagers, bills. All of it. Everything just seemed to be and any other reactions disappeared. Everything made me smile because somehow I felt that only love was real, though I couldn't explain it, and don't come close to doing it now.

Although that experience did not propel me into that state permanently, that moment of clarity and understanding did place me on a spiritual journey that I am so grateful for. The moment of recognition is still within me, and lesson after lesson, I feel that I am moving further and further towards light and permanent inner peace.

Time to move to the next level

Right now, what's playing in my mind and out of my speakers is "53 Steps" by Rachel Platten.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sometimes I feel like I'm in a matrix

Reading Eckart Tolle's book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, has rocketed me back into my spiritual existence. I realize that it's helpful for me to consistently engage myself in some sort of tool for spiritual development in order to keep me on the right path. I was engrossed in the pages all afternoon today and kept thinking that I had read the best thing again and again, earmarking what ended up being almost twenty pages!

Sometimes I feel like I'm walking around in a matrix. During these times I understand that I am a spiritual being, connected with all and one with all, and everything else I see and think about in this material world is clearly not reality (ie: a matrix). But then, there are those times where I am totally identified with that world (I suppose that would be the ego) and I lose my real "self".

While reading this book today, I realized that this no longer need confuse me. I am slowly trying to pull myself from unconsciousness, further and further towards full consciousness, and the process is totally okay and to be expected, so long as I keep moving forward. In fact, the realization that I move back and forth between these two states would seem to indicate an understanding of when I am identifying with the ego or when I am, alternately, identifying with spirit. With this fundamental realization, I can try to identify with spirit even more and leave the ego behind.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Some music is worth staying up late for

Right now, what's playing in my mind and out of my speakers is "Against the Wind" by Bob Seger...

...and "Have a Little Faith" by John Hiatt.

It's two hours past my bedtime

Is it weird to say that sometimes lately I feel like I’m grieving for the world? I have to remember that despair can give way to spiritual discovery. Everything happens for a reason, right? Certain things seem so unnecessary to me for learning...but maybe that’s because I moved out of my deepest personal despair. When I was in that place, I lamented over myself AND the world. Perhaps despair is a precursor to surrender to God. I pray for Japan. I pray for the Middle East. I pray for them, for us, for all.