Tag Archives: peace

Broken Glass

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Why is it that we are always looking for happiness, but we refuse to do any work to get it?  Why do we read “self help” books, but not take the advice of the authors?  Happiness is not hard to obtain, and it simply involves changing the way you think.

Just the other night I had a friend of mine (who also happens to be a Shaman) over for dinner.  In the midst of cooking, a glass fell off the counter and shattered all over the floor.  I cleaned it up, threw it in the trash, and continued cooking.  I bought the glass at the Dollar Tree so I knew they will have more that only cost one dollar.  Why get upset over something that is so easily fixable?  In Buddhism we are taught that our suffering is brought about by attachment.  Nothing lasts forever, and I knew the moment I bought the glass that there was a chance it would break at some point.  Therefore, I didn’t get attached to the glass, but I did enjoy it while I had it.  My reaction could’ve been totally different.  I could’ve been angry that the glass broke, and I could’ve allowed myself to get upset over something so small.  However, my friend and I continued cooking, and I have yet to replace the glass.  The empty space in the cabinet where the glass once sat is somewhat a reminder that impermanence is all around us.  Enjoy the things, and the people, that you have in your life now, while you still have them.  Don’t wait until they’re gone to appreciate them or tell them you love them.  Tell them now, today.  Change the way you react to certain situations and happiness is soon to follow! 🙂

Touchdown!

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The Quarterback runs as fast as he can!  He’s at the 40, he’s at the 30, at the 20…TOUCHDOWN!!!

Johns’ team just won the game and he couldn’t be happier!  Sarah, on the other hand, just had her team beat.  She drops her head in shame and exits the stadium.  John continues his celebration out of the stadium along with the hundreds of other fans that are ecstatic that their team just brought home the win!

Let’s look at John and Sarah for a moment.  He is happy, she is not.  Why?  Did the football game make one happy and one sad?  No.  The football game did nothing to affect their happiness, but their reaction to the outcome did.  Had Sarah been a fan of the team that won then she too would be happy.  It’s all in how you respond to the end result.  Say, for example, you get caught by a red light.  You huff and puff, and possibly curse, but then you watch in horror as the car that just went before you gets hit at the next intersection.  You realize that could’ve easily been you, and now getting caught by the red light doesn’t seem so bad.  Now let’s step back.  It shouldn’t take a near death experience to teach you that getting caught by a red light really isn’t that bad.  The next time a red light catches you think, “Hmm, there could be an accident up ahead but the few seconds that this light holds me may keep me from being involved.”  Missing a bus, forgetting your keys, etc. are all things that may benefit you in the end; you just may not realize it.  Let’s say your current relationship ends and you are devastated.  However, three years down the road you  meet that special someone that you know is your soulmate and you begin to wonder what you were doing with your ex to begin with!  The loss of one relationship brought about a better, stronger one.  At the time you didn’t see it that way, but it worked out in the end.

I try to approach all things with this mindset.  I recently read a book that taught you to tell yourself that whatever is happening to you is the best possible thing that could happen to you.  The universe has a way of lining things up to work out exactly as they should.  Trust it, and realize that, although you may not see it now, things may work out in the end.

I Love Burning Things!

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I love burning things.  Absolutely love it.  Now, let me explain.

By “things” I’m talking about incense sticks, candles, and sage smudging sticks.  The other night I noticed I was feeling a little down.  I looked around my room and realized it had become a little bit cluttered.  The room felt stagnant and devoid of open, breathable air.  I got up, opened my window, grabbed a box from the basement, packed away a few things, cleaned (vacuumed, dusted, etc) then decided to light a sage stick so that I could smudge my room.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with “smudging” it is the act of using a bundle of sage (sometimes mixed with other things like cedar, sandalwood, lemon grass, etc.) in order to run off any negative energy in the room.  You light it on fire, then blow it out allowing the smoke to fill the room.  I use a leather bound group of feathers to “sweep” the smoke around the room.  The smoke will cling to, and remove, any unwanted energy.  You are literally smoking out the bad vibes.  This may be all in my head, and it may not do a single thing except fill your room with a small amount of smoke, but it works for me.

I’m obsessed with Native American medicine, healing rituals, crystals, chakras, etc. so any chance I get to learn something about any of these things I’m all over it!  Smudging makes me happy, crystal healing/protection, makes me happy, learning about alternative medicine makes me happy.  All these things are things that I enjoy doing and learning about and they bring me some form of happiness.  So why not light a stick of sage and walk around my room, waving the smoke with a feather?  I discovered a year or so ago that I’m an Empath.  I pick up on the energy of others, whether good or bad, and that energy will affect my own.  Yes, for those of you who don’t understand or follow any of this you will probably stop reading my blog at this point.  You probably think I’m nuts, and that’s okay.  You’re entitled to your opinion 😉 I first realized that I’m an empathic person when I had to attend a funeral.  Upon walking in I immediately felt the sadness, my chest became heavy, my lungs tightened, I was very uncomfortable and for the rest of the day I was extremely depressed.  After the funeral I went home and went straight to bed.  I was exhausted.  I didn’t even really know the person who had passed, but the sad and negative energy that I picked up had literally saddened my heart and it truly affected the rest of my day.  The next day I woke up and decided to do something about it.  I smudged my room (and myself), drank some coffee, cleaned, played some upbeat music, and meditated.  I told myself it’s okay to feel for the family and their loss, but there’s nothing I can do about it so I have to allow those feelings to pass.  And they did.  A few years ago the task of attending a funeral could’ve sent me into a deep depression for a few weeks, but the fact that I now know how to handle it means I can be there to comfort others in their time of need without allowing their energy to attack my own.

I’m sure some of you think I’m nuts, but I challenge you next time you’re feeling down to open a window, play some music, pray or meditate, smile, watch a funny movie, get moving/exercise, clean, and allow all the negative energy that’s getting you down to move on.  Don’t let it stay there because the longer you do, the harder it will be to get rid of.  Have a wonderful day!

Cold Bottled Water

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I love watching “random acts of kindness” videos on YouTube, not only because it gives me ideas of things I can do, but because it actually restores my faith in humanity.  It reminds me that not everyone out there is a murderer, thief, rapist, etc.  When we turn on the news all we generally hear is bad stuff.  It’s so depressing, and I’ve learned that it’s not good for my mental well-being to spend my time watching the news.  I do have a news app on my phone that keeps me updated on the really important stuff, but that’s it.  The only time that I ever watch the news is to see the weather, and I have an app on my phone for that as well 😉

I love good news and random acts of kindness, so I try my best to be that person to actually do the acts of kindness.  If I can help one person, or make someones’ day then it’s definitely worth it!  You never know what someone is going through, and they may be fighting a battle that has them dangling by their final thread.  That person may be planning to go home and end their life, but your one small act of kindness may remind them that it’s not all bad.  There are still some people in the world who care.  So if you are feeling down today, or just haven’t heard it in a while, remember that I love you!  I care that you’re in the world, and if you’re reading my blog right now that means that you are somewhat a part of my life.

I challenge you to be that person who makes a difference in someones’ life.  It doesn’t have to be anything big and drastic.  Maybe just pay for someones’ meal at the drive-thru behind you, or give a few bottles of cold water to a construction crew during the summer.  Buy those packs of thank you cards (the ones that have like 20 in a pack) and write them out to the nurses at your local hospital.  Yes, there will be a lot, but the work they do is incredible and they don’t always get thanked for what they do.  I try my best to smile at people, make people laugh, give to someone in need, and send as many positive vibes to others as I can.  Being kind doesn’t cost a single cent, so why not share it?!  In the words of Ellen DeGeneres, “Be kind to one another!”

Late Introduction

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Hello there, and welcome to my blog (even though I’m a little late on this haha)!  I’m so glad you’ve decided to join me on my journey to finding happiness, and becoming physically and mentally healthier!  Let me tell you a little about myself.

I grew up in a small town in middle Tennessee, I have two sisters, and I’m the glorious middle child!  My parents are both teachers and I graduated from high school in 2008.  I’m a gay Buddhist who loves to learn, and I currently work as a 911 Operator/Emergency dispatcher for two counties.  I attended college for a few years at the University of Memphis before moving back home and changing my major from vocal music performance to psychology.  I now attend part time online/night classes at Motlow State.

I’ve always struggled with depression, but it wasn’t until June 16, 2012 (after a very serious bout of depression and substance abuse) that I finally decided I needed professional help.  I checked myself into a rehab facility at Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital for ten days and came out a new person!  Since then I have turned my life around tremendously!  For the first time in a VERY long time I actually enjoy waking up every day, and even wake up early to take in as many minutes as possible during the day.  I cannot tell you how happy I am to be alive and free of all substance that used to bog me down.  I’ve learned to face my problems, learn from them, and help teach others not to make the same mistakes.  I’ve since lost 135lbs, been promoted at work, saved SOOOO much more money, and improved so much compared to the person I was.  Plus I smile…a lot! 🙂

I decided to start a blog not only as a way to journal my thoughts and feelings, but to also help others who may be suffering.  I’ve learned to focus on the good things in life rather than the bad things, but I don’t ignore them completely.  I wake up every day, make my bed, and typically start my day with some yoga, a light breakfast, and some coffee.  I spend this time thinking of things that make me happy, and I also try to center my mind for the day to make sure I get started off on the right foot. My day may consist of many things: working, hiking, camping, swimming, kayaking, walking, dancing, singing, cleaning, etc. but I always do them the best I can, and I make sure I enjoy every minute.  You must be an active participant in your own recovery.  Let me repeat, you MUST BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN YOUR OWN RECOVERY AND MENTAL HEALTH.  You cannot just sit by and expect to get better.  Yes, you may be on medication (as I am; a basic depression pill), but you still have to play a lead role in getting better.  Medication can only do so much, and it’s not a fix.  There are still days when I struggle, but those days just remind me that there is still work that needs to be done.

Now that all that is out of the way, I look forward to having you take this journey with me!  Please, feel free to ask questions, leave comments, and share my blog entries.  I want to help others so if you feel that someone you know could benefit from a post or something I’ve said, I won’t mind a bit for you to share it with them.  We are all brothers and sisters of the same species in this amazing universe that we live in!  I’m here for you! 🙂

Rushing to Slow Down

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Your alarm blares, you jump out of bed, take a quick shower, skip breakfast, grab a quick cup of coffee, rush out the door, rush to work, and then wish that your day would go by as quickly as possible.  Once you clock out you rush home, rush through dinner, rush through your nightly routine, and then go to bed.  Tomorrow you’ll wake up and do it all over again.

Why is it that we are so obsessed with rushing through life? Why can’t we just slow down and enjoy the present moment?  From the minute we wake up to the time we go to bed we are often hurrying to get things done.  There are 24 hours in a day that won’t go by any quicker no matter what you do, so why not learn to enjoy some of it?  In the morning I wake up just 20 minutes earlier than I used to in order to make a decent breakfast (which normally consists of scrambled eggs, toast, fresh fruit, and coffee), do some yoga, make my bed, and just relax for a few minutes as I allow myself to wake up.  I don’t even take my cell phone or laptop into the kitchen because I want to have a mindful breakfast, and not allow my phone to distract me.  I’ve noticed such a difference now that I start my day in a more calming and peaceful manner.  I’m not as prone to anxiety, I’m not as likely to get irritated or upset, I’m generally more productive, and I’m just much happier throughout the day.

It’s such a strange practice to actually force yourself to slow down.  We’re not used to that, and if we change our pace at all during the day, it’s normally to speed up in an attempt to get more done.  However, I’ve learned that when I speed up I typically end up making more mistakes and just tend to get more irritated.  Yet, if I slow down, I don’t make as many mistakes and actually get the same amount of work done (if not more) by the end of the day.

I recently bought a new wrist watch and I’ve now developed a pretty neat practice…when the quiet ‘beep’ goes off I stop what I’m doing and take a few deep breaths.  I also think of something that makes me happy, and I make myself smile.  Sometimes the smile comes without force, and sometimes I actually have to “fake” a smile.  Yet, even when you fake a smile it still helps to lift your mood. Try it, it works!

I want to challenge you this week to slow down.  We are always rushing to the next minute, next hour, next day, or the next week, yet there’s no guarantee that we’ll even be here.  So take a few minutes out of your busy day to just enjoy the present moment.  Remember to breathe, remember to enjoy, and remember to live.

Yoga in the Woods

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There are few things that I enjoy more than being in the woods. Out in nature, the wind on my face, the smell of plants filling my lungs, the feel and sound of limbs and leaves crunching under my feet. It gives me such peace and truly makes me feel one with the universe. I feel such happiness and even writing about it now slows my heart rate and reminds me to take a deep breath. However, I’ve recently discovered something even better than just walking in the woods…yoga in the woods. I’ve never really been a big yoga person, but lately I’ve been doing much more of it.

About two months ago I injured myself pretty badly while working out so I was forced to cease almost all physical activity for almost four weeks. I started physical therapy at that point and the first thing they had me do was stretch. It hurt, a lot, but I knew I had to do it in order to wake up the muscles that I had not been using and begin the healing process. During this course of bodily torture I realized that the stretching exercises (most of which were your basic, and even some complex, yoga moves) actually calmed my nerves, made me less anxious, relieved pain, steadied my breathing, chased away some of the depression I had been feeling, and helped to elevate my over all attitude. For this reason I began making my appointments for the morning time because it always seemed to make the rest of my day go much smoother after I had completed my physical therapy. As my physical therapy continued I started to incorporate my stretches into my morning routine at home. I’m not really sure why, as I don’t know the science behind it, and it may be mostly a mind trick, but it has really made a difference. During this process I had noticed that my depression was slowly creeping back in and I knew I had to do something. I was sitting a home last week, and as I’ve finally gotten to the point that I can walk without too much of a limp, and I can put my full weight on my foot and back, I decided to go for a hike. As I slowly and carefully walked through the woods my mind began to slip back into that comfortable and welcome place of peace and stillness. I stopped, put down my backpack, closed my eyes, and breathed. Deeply. It was incredible. Being back in the place I love after almost two months of being confined to the house and my work, truly brightened my day and calmed my entire body. I started to stretch, not even realizing I was doing it, and before I knew it I was doing yoga. Right there in the woods. I took off my shoes and my bare feet gently meshed with the ground and leaves. My muscles welcomed the stretches and my lungs were grateful for the fresh air.  I think I did this for about 30 minutes, although I had honestly lost track of time probably five minutes in so I’m not really sure. When I finished my hike and made it back to the house my mind was in a state that it had not been in a long time…complete ecstasy. I was somewhat emotional, happy, energetic, peaceful, calm, and there was not a single thing that could’ve ruined my day. 

I’ve only done this twice so far, but I will definitely continue. It just goes to show that happiness can be found in the most basic of places. I didn’t spend a single dollar, I didn’t travel to some foreign country. I was simply there, about a mile from my home, in the woods with my bare feet on the ground. That is where I found happiness. That is where I began to breathe again.