Freak Alley

On a recent solo road trip I took to visit a friend in Salt Lake City, I stopped in Boise as an interval to break up the long drive. I had never been to Boise, I honestly wasn’t quite sure what to expect except for maybe a lot of potato references. There was actually no mention of potatoes my whole time there. Instead, I met a handful of joyful and friendly residents of Boise, some of who showed me the beautiful culture of the city. One friend brought me down a road called “Freak Alley” which is a whole alleyway dedicated to graffiti art drawn by local residents. As we strolled down the alleyway, I got absolute chills (it helped that a group of three young men were in a circle in the middle of the alleyway serenading us with jazz tunes–one on drums, one on guitar and one on the trumpet.)

I went back the next afternoon to snap shots of all the art that moved me. I had been feeling pretty lonely during a lot of my solo road trip and this art work I came across touched me in a way that I needed it to the most at that time. I realized that this is the beauty of art–these artists, who knows where they are right now, but they were with me that night and day that I viewed their work. Kindred spirits, all of them. Check out their amazing work below:

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Dealing with Hurt

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“The pain that comes today, is here, then goes away” –from the song “More than Life” by the musical artist Whitley

I have been on the dating scene for the past two years and it has been a roller coaster of emotions: exhilarating, fun, exciting, gut-wrenching, neurotic, hurtful and confusing. A mixed bag of good, bad, and mediocre. After having been in a tumultuous six-year relationship, I gave myself about a year of the single life and then, while dressed up as Freddy Krueger at a bar one balmy Friday the 13th, someone hit on me. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to try my hand at dating again. I had wanted to give myself a lot of time to heal from my last relationship, but on that balmy evening when the young man came up to me to flirt, it was the first time since my break up that I felt the “butterflies-in-the-stomach” feeling again.

Nothing came out of that situation, other than one date and the realization that I was still a vulnerable open wound, the first layer of my emotional skin just barely having scabbed up. I gave myself credit for trying and pushed the thought of dating onto the back burner again, focusing now on a new project: planning a four-week trip to Southeast Asia. It was senseless to start anything new when I would be leaving for half the summer, I figured. If something came up I would be open to it, but my main focus was to travel.

My travels were invigorating and I met a lot of new friends along the way, this was the experience of a lifetime traveling through Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia for four weeks. When I arrived back in Oregon in early August, reality hit me like a ton of bricks and it was time to hunker down and find a job. Dating was low on my priority list over the next two months. Halfway through the job hunt, I met a handsome Brit and the two of us engaged in a weekend fling. He flew back to London the following morning, leaving me feeling used, but I realized that it takes two to tango, so I had to take some of the blame.

After finally landing a great job and working a few months at it, I found myself going out to more and more social events. I figured that traveling the world was here and gone, and having landed a steady job, the time seemed to be right to start dating again. At all the social events I was attending, I figured I would easily find a partner. Months went by and I never felt a spark with anyone, or if I did I would later find out the potential suitor was engaged or in a serious relationship.

The next logical step? Online dating. As Augusten Burroughs once stated, “Don’t try a new venue–like online dating–thinking you’ll meet “better” people; try a new venue because you’ll meet more people. It’s like with diamonds. It can take more than two hundred tons of ore to yield one high-quality diamond. Nobody is obsessing over all this ore; they are focused on that diamond.” There is a definite stigma to online dating, but in this modern era, it feels only natural to meet potential partners this way.

In the last year and a half, I have met a handful of people via online dating. One of them became pretty serious, an on-and-off again year-long affair until it hit me that it was only serious to one of us in this two-party fiasco, he was still seeing others from the online dating world. The rejection from that one hurt bad, really bad (lost 12 pounds within one season bad). So I took another break, three months of the single life, and felt well enough to open an account with another dating site.

I fell into the exact same trap as before: I met someone, fell for him and got the biggest rejection of my life: the kind that makes you feel like you’ve been punched hard in the gut. The kind that brings you to your knees. The kind of rejection that makes you feel as if you have fallen down a well and gives you the feeling that there is no hope for light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, as I write this my gut is still twisting and turning with hurt and anger.

But then, the rejection can also be beautiful…because I know that it is temporary and it’s a lesson. There is always a lesson from the hurt, every time. There is also a passion that comes from the hurt: a passion of falling in love with myself again. Every single time I have gotten hurt, I get through it because life goes on. Look at all this life around me: the kid at the beach who is putting a chunk of sand in his mom’s purse and getting yelled at by her, the two puppies that ran over to me as I was sun tanning on my beach towel, licking my hands and climbing all over me, my friends and family reaching out more to me and letting me know that I am loved.

The anger from hurt and rejection can be difficult to deal with, but every time it brings me back to myself. It reminds me that I still have a lot of work to do. Judging by the kind of men to whom I have been attracted to lately, it seems that there is a lot of stuff from my past which I still need to deal with. I get angry towards them, but if I really loved myself I wouldn’t be attracting these kinds of men into my life in the first place. In dealing with the anger, the following Acceptance and Forgiveness Meditation has helped me a lot. It’s from the book by Judee Gee, Intuition: Awakening Your Inner Guide.

Acceptance and Forgiveness Meditation

(Recommended time: 20 to 30 minutes)

–Breathe, center, and bring yourself into your heart. Be present with yourself, and available for this exercise of healing.

–Imagine someone with whom you have had a problem and, because of this problem, you suffer in your heart. Call the person and imagine he or she comes into your sphere and sits down, facing you. Stay in your heart and express to this person the things you need to say…”What I need to say to you, that I couldn’t/wouldn’t is…” and unload your heart of all the unsaid things.

–Imagine the other, open and available to listen to you, simply listening, accepting what you say. Feel your heart opening, letting go…Allow the emotion, the feeling, to flow. When you feel ready, say to the other, “I accept you as you are,” or “Please accept me as I am” or “I accept myself as I am.”

–Be in the atmosphere of acceptance and be aware of how it feels to accept in your heart. If you wish to explore forgiveness, imagine yourself in front of the other and say “I forgive you,” or “I forgive myself,” or ask for forgiveness: “Please forgive me.” Feel the atmosphere of forgiveness and allow this quality of energy to open your heart, to clean your heart, and heal the wounds of the past, freeing you to breathe and to feel the deepness of your heart, open, available to live and to love.

Repeat this meditation for as many people as needed, as often as you like. This meditation can also be done as a letter-writing exercise.

Transformation Does Occur

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A volunteer acquaintance and I quietly strolled up and down the streets scanning the sidewalk for cigarette butts to clean up and I went into a quiet introspection. It was hard to believe that the road trip my friend and I had embarked on to Portland, OR was ten years ago to the day. Ten years ago, I was a shy, nineteen-year-old gas station clerk that had been living in Minnesota since I was five-years-old. Back then, I smoked cigarettes as if they were going out of style. I had started at sixteen-years-old on clove cigarettes, then moved my way to Marlboro Reds, then to Marlboro Mediums, tried tasting Camel Turkish brands for a bit, then finally settled on Marlboro Lights. I smoked about a pack of Marlboro Lights per day up until I was twenty-four-years old, panicking if I was down to only five cigarettes in a pack. That old familiar panic happened so often that when I think of it now, I still get anxiety in my upper belly and sternum area.

Now here I was, ten years later volunteering with a project called “SOLVE”, cleaning up cigarette butts off the sidewalks in the Old town-Chinatown portion of Portland. The organizer of the volunteer group started the organization because he got the idea to recycle cigarette butts by using the material of the filter to make cigarette receptacles. He said he came up with the idea while disc golfing with a friend who was a smoker and he kept noticing that his friend would just toss the cigarette butt in the grass or pavement. His friend’s bad habit gave him the inspiring idea to do something with the wasted butts.

I had been chatting with a fellow volunteer named Eileen all morning. We were both new to volunteering with the organization and we instantly connected when we both shared to each other that we weren’t originally from Oregon. She was in her 70s, had white-grayish short hair and wrinkles that beautifully defined her tan face. She had just told me her whole history of stumbling upon Oregon herself, how when she was in her 20s she packed up her car and moved out to San Francisco from Ohio, not knowing a single soul. Soon after, she met her husband in the Haight and Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. They decided on a change a few years later, moving to Southern Oregon with their one and only child, living there for seven years and then up to Portland.

“So let’s hear your ‘falling in love with Portland’ story,” she smiled to me.

“So basically, I was 19 and wanted to do a random road trip adventure with my best friend. For weeks we had been planning on New Orleans, but then in about a three-day period, about three different people told me stories about Portland. A couple of days after that, I saw the movie Drugstore Cowboy, which takes place in Portland. I called my friend and told her that my heart was directing us to change the destination to Portland. My friend didn’t care, just as long as we were leaving Minnesota for a week. As soon as we entered Oregon, I received one of the most profound feelings of deja vu that I had ever had in my life and I looked over to my friend ‘Devona, I am pretty sure I have lived here before.’ There was just something so familiar about the state to me and anytime that I had the sensation of deja vu in the past I had the feeling that it was the universe’s way of telling me I was on the right path. Soon after that, we entered the Columbia River Gorge and I had chills up and down my body, flabbergasted by the beauty. We were both slightly bothered by the fact that no one had ever told us that the Columbia River Gorge exists in our country.”

“Yes, that’s a common occurrence, it’s one of America’s best kept secrets, although…not so much anymore,” my new volunteer buddy stated, with her head turned to the side making sure she didn’t miss any cigarette butts beside her.

I didn’t go on to tell her the even longer story of my history of addiction to cigarettes and pills in the past, how driving into a new state that felt like home inspired me to make major changes in the coming years. Feeling that from that point on that, Oregon would always be there waiting if I ever chose to make a new start for myself. I didn’t tell her about how just five years later, the same friend that I took that road trip with collapsed in front of me with an erupted brain aneurysm. After visiting her for weeks in a dark and dingy old hospital in St. Paul, I reevaluated the health choices I had been making since a teenager. With no family history of aneurysms and no other explanation for a 25-year old with a burst brain aneurysm, my friend’s neurologist urged her to quit smoking, attributing that as more than likely being the cause. She never touched a cigarette again and I joined her in quitting a short few months later.

The couple of hours of volunteering cleaning up cigarette butts, while sounding daunting and maybe a tad monotonous, was truly inspiring. I got to hear two people’s amazing stories, talk with passersby who were curious what we were doing (the funniest ones were the smokers themselves), got thanked multiple times and even got one “fuck you” from a bum that looked like he just walked out of one of the Mad Max movies. It made for a very interesting day and made me realize how much I love this community I live in. My nineteen-year-old self never would have imagined my twenty-nine-year-old self being a non-smoker, moving halfway across the country not knowing a single soul, and talking to random strangers without being nervous. It’s making me so excited to think of the other future transformations that will occur.

We never have to remain stuck, I can promise you that. There are things that happen that are out of our control, but with our freewill, we can choose in each moment how to react to situations. I feel so ever-blessed that my nineteen-year-old self followed her heart and took a road trip to a seemingly random destination. I am also so ever-blessed that the friend that I took that road trip with, my soul sister, inspired me to quit smoking five years later. There are so many changes yet to come, always ways to better the self as long as we’re here. We are all a beautiful work-in-progress.

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It’s Now or Never

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A friend in recent months told me “I’m not where I want to be in life.” Which is definitely something every human being can relate to. We all have dreams and desires, some going back all the way to when we were a child wanting to be “this” or “that” when we grew up. The only problem with dreams and desires, is that a lot of people want it right now and they don’t want to wait. Patience is for others to do, not for the ones who wants to be at a specific place right now. We are NEVER going to be where we want to be in life though if we aren’t happy with where we are right now in the moment. This is all we have, all we will ever have, this moment of now. The “not being where I want to be” attitude will get us nowhere, because that is a surefire sign that we will NEVER feel that we are where we should be.

I definitely stress and worry about not reaching goals and desires, but meditation has really awoken me to being happy with exactly where I am. For an example, one recent morning I was looking at my bank account and worrying about making ends meet. My rent is becoming much more expensive than I envisioned when I decided to move into a small studio apartment by myself and I have many upcoming travels that people are relying on me to be there for and that I am super excited for. I really started to get into this animalistic, poverty-thinking mode and then I took a deep breath and asked myself “but how am I doing right NOW?” Because really, I could get struck by a vehicle that forgets to stop at a red light tomorrow and then not even be able to go on the travels that I had planned in the coming months. I mean honestly, the more important thing is how am I doing right NOW?

Thinking in terms of being blessed where you are in the moment is a profound experience. It ends up bringing you even more blessings. That morning, I had decided to turn around my anxious thoughts about money and transformed them into being grateful in that “now” moment and it created even more positivity in my day. I went to work that morning and within a few short hours I was provided with an unexpected free lunch from business associates. Another couple hours go by and my manager asked me if I could work more hours in the coming months due to a co-worker leaving. Some could call it a coincidence, but truly I believe it’s the magic of what happens when you count your blessings. What you are thinking on the inside truly will manifest into the outer world, I state this because I have truly seen it happen….multiple times.

I feel absolutely rich this morning, sitting at my little studio kitchenette indulging in cup loads of home-made coffee, a breakfast made with fresh fruit from my fridge and food that’s filled in my cupboards. I have clothing on to keep me warm, fresh water beside me to keep me hydrated. I honestly feel like a queen right NOW in this moment of writing this and to be able to type away on this laptop, with internet connection. I have so much right now, so blessed with all of this right now. I am not concerned at the moment of what’s in my bank account or not being where I want to be in life.

Be happy with what you have right now, be happy with who you are right now, if you can’t do that now….don’t keep wishing for it to happen in the future that is non-existent. The only existence is right NOW.

Meditation Musings

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My friend and I reached the top of the hilly incline to a viewpoint that overlooked the Pacific Ocean.  The vastness of the ocean view and the sound of the waves was something to meditate on.  I set my maroon colored water bottle on the ground beside me and sat down on a big boulder, asking my friend if she’d mind if I meditated for a few minutes.  She gave me the go ahead, “of course not, that’s a great idea!”  I closed my eyes and became aware of touch points–my bottom on the boulder, my feet planted firmly on the ground, and my right hand cupped in my left hand with the back of my hands on my lap.  When I felt 100% grounded, I started focusing on my breath, the cold air gently moving up through my nostrils and the warm air moving out.  After a few minutes, I opened my eyes again.

 

“Sooooo, how do you meditate exactly?”  My friend questioned.  I hadn’t realized that my friend of fifteen years didn’t actually know what I was doing on the boulder.  “Do you just try to think of nothing?” She asked.  I felt a surge of excitement in my belly and started telling her about all that I had been learning about meditation since I moved to Oregon six months prior.  Moving to a new state without a job secured and not knowing a single soul was a pretty traumatic shock to my system, but had I not pushed myself to do it, I don’t think I would have landed on the path that brought me to a practice that has brought me the most healing in my life: the practice of meditation.

 

After stopping a tobacco addiction, an addiction to pills, and ending a long-term relationship with an alcoholic over the course of time between my sixteenth and twenty-sixth years on this planet, coming to Oregon alone was like a re-birth into a new life.  I forced myself to join community groups and among them, found a meditation group that met every Tuesday.  I had been reading a lot of self-help books about meditation and listening to a guided meditation CD that my mom gifted me with before I made my trek from the Midwest to the West Coast.  At the Tuesday night meditation group, I learned so much more about meditation and am forever grateful for the veteran teacher that created the group.

 

I explained to my friend about what I do during my meditation, that I constantly pay attention to my in-and out-breath (I do the Vipassana technique, one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation.)  That thinking about nothing isn’t the purpose of my meditation, the purpose is to become aware.  Stories, ideas, to-do lists, what someone said to me earlier that day that hurt me, someone that I need to contact later, and many other things will come up in my meditation.  The point though is to not get stuck or attached to any of those things, to just be aware of them and continually coming back to breath, to presence.  Eventually, with a daily practice, you truly become aware of the nature of the mind and how easy it is to come back into the moment of NOW with the breath.

 

The practice of meditation has helped and healed me so much, layers upon layers of my self have been coming off.  Just when I think that I have come to the deepest aspects of my soul, of consciousness, new ideas and concepts come to me.  Out of all the travels that I have done, meditation has been the most intense journey out of all of them.  It hasn’t been easy picking up this practice, but I can definitely tell you that it has been worth it.  I want to help people bring this healing modality into their lives, so anytime a friend asks me about….it’s guaranteed I will turn into a motor mouth and this blog is another avenue in how I want to help people with this.  If this post has helped even just one person in getting interested in meditation….then I have done my job.  :)

 

 

Never Underestimate the Healing Powers of……

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Life can throw curve balls at us, some days are tougher than others. We are all in need of healing as long as we are living in these bodies, in this world. I thought it would be fun to make a list of what has helped me in healing myself from the struggles life can seem to make. I would love if you added activities/actions that have helped you to heal your mind, body and soul in the “comments” section below. Hope you enjoy! :)

Never Underestimate the Healing Powers of…..

–Curling up under a blanket and getting lost in a book.
–Waking up in the morning and drinking a full glass of water.
–Getting a back massage from a friend.
–Finding a new park or neighborhood that you have never been to and going for a walk in it.
–Writing three full pages of whatever is on your mind and not stopping until you get to the third page.
–Savoring a warm cup of hot chocolate/tea/coffee, drinking each sip mindfully.
–Sitting for twenty minutes, doing nothing but focusing strictly on each in-breath and each out-breath.
–Volunteering in your community.
–Playing music with others.
–Cooking a meal that you have never cooked before.
–Running/jogging for twenty minutes without stopping.
–Writing down what you dreamt of the night before.
–Drawing a picture.
–Painting a picture.
–Photography.
–Writing a story.
–Catching up with a friend that lives near you over a bowl of steaming Vietnamese pho.
–Hugging others fully, with two arms and for longer than three seconds.
–Caring for a furry friend.
–Having life conversation with an elderly person.
–Having life conversation with a child.
–Watching a good movie.
–Traveling to a city that you have never been to before, alone.
–Listening to music.
–Being here, NOW, over and over remembering to come back to right here, right NOW.
–Playing a childhood recess game with your adult friends.
–Getting a new haircut.
–Going for a hike in nature.
–Biking.
–Skating (roller skating, roller blading, skateboarding.)
–Working in a garden.
–Sampling new beers or wines.
–Blogging.
–Exploring a new city with friends.
–Walking alongside large bodies of water.
–Writing down three things you are grateful on a daily basis.
–Learning a new skill.
–Having a phone date with a friend far away.
–Kissing a good kisser.
–Going on spontaneous road trips/drives/car rides with music blasting out of the car speakers.

Our Eternal Spark

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Something mystical is happening (has been happening) to me in the last two years, a huge awakening in my consciousness. It comes and goes, just as everything does, but it reminds me of the one thing that always remains: the eternal spark within us. We always are. We have always been. It’s an illusion to think otherwise. We have changed many forms, but we are always the same: that spark within us always has been.

I truly realize why I am here, in this incarnation. I am here to remind people of love. Every person I come into contact with, to remind them of joy, of love, of happiness. I came from light, into this dimension, into this world called “Earth” to remind people that they do not need to suffer. Being in human form has felt more uncomfortable than not for me, but as long as I have my body I am here to spread the message.

There have been so many times that I have just wanted to give up, times where I have given up. When I was 17 I overdosed on pain pills and muscle relaxers, hoping it would bring me back to the light where I came from. Instead I awoke in my twin-sized bed two days later feeling like I got hit by a truck and had an incredible thirst.

There were drugs that I felt brought me back to the feeling of being in the light. Speed was the major drug of choice, at one point not being able to leave my house until I was under the influence of it. I felt that I couldn’t function or relate to people without it. After that got halted (went to treatment, started using for a while again and then got sick of the feeling of being owned by something and quit cold turkey—the same way that worked best with quitting smoking cigarettes as well) I moved on to the next addiction: a man to love and to love me back. Well, I had to find out the hard way that if you don’t love yourself, you will never find that romantic love that everyone seems to be looking for.

So here I am: facing myself. In the last two years I have had an intense awakening like none other. Truly realizing what awakening means….integrating into your higher self.

Jimi Hendrix, Jack Kerouac, John Lennon, Amelia Earhart, Martin Luther King Jr. All those greats that we look up to, they are the same as us, they are a fractal of the Universe just as we are, but they refused to stay stuck. They are inspirations because they lived their hearts out, they shared a piece of their soul, for us to remember: we too hold that power that they had. Once you open your mind to the realization that when you make a leap towards your dream, you can never go back to the person you were before making that leap.

And if you mess up, who cares? And if they mock you, who cares? In the end what really matters is that you live out what you are supposed to live out and until you come to that point of being you are going to keep on finding yourself in a time loop…facing suffering by your own hand over and over. Look at all the suffering you have put up with thus far in life and I’m sure there have been times where you just wanted to scream, where you wanted to grab a hold a tuft of your hair and put your fists up to the sky questioning why there is so much suffering in the world.

Do you see though? You are the one that causes your own suffering, by silencing your voice and obeying what others have been telling you since you first entered this realm of existence. But others don’t hold the power: you do. And you will start to notice the people that are living out their dreams, they will be aligned with your vibration and you guys will both be trying to help others that haven’t reached this point yet.

This is what has been happening for me and I want to continue to share my journey because I know that we are in a time of age where this awakening is happening for many others. It is a scary path at first, facing yourself. I have found that facing my dark parts have helped me to shine light for others. We are in the dimension of darkness and light, the challenge is to shine through the darkness and not get sucked into it.

Aside

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I never want fame, nor fortune. I just want people to know something and spread messages in a cosmic tidal wave. I want people to know that they have the power. It never was anyone else’s fault.

I don’t want a successful career, I don’t want to own a house, I don’t want 2.5 kids and a white picket fence, I just want to be a light for a little while, until I dim out.

This is all I am, this is what I do.

This dimension has been really tough and dense, but I am in it right now, so here goes….

It’s time to stop busying myself, and time to share.

Everything in my life, the “good” and the “bad” has come together full circle, into this wheel of life. I am realizing it all had to happen, for me to come to this moment of now…where I am sharing parts of my soul that I feared ever sharing before, in hopes that it will help someone, even just one person out there who might be feeling alone.

I have been addicted to cigarettes, addicted to pills, addicted to lovers, addicted to technology, addicted to caffeine, and after putting a halt to each addiction, I come back to that same empty hole. The hole is felt in those spaces in between. The spaces where you feel all alone, where you feel bored or hopeless. The spaces pass though and if you face those spaces and “holes” within, you move up and above to a buoyant space where it all makes sense.

I am coming into my power and nothing can stop me now.

Walls Crumbling Down…