Tag Archives: past

Featured Intent: Healed from the Past

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Over and over we’ve found ourselves in the same place. Maybe that place is one of positivity and abundance. We’re surrounded by wise and kind people who lift us up and support us. Perhaps it’s the opposite. We continue to find ourselves in the same mess. We’re repeating patterns that have existed longer than we can remember and the hard part is imagining a life where they aren’t a part of us.

Are some of us just lucky? And does it mean there is no hope if we’re one of the unfortunate folks who pulled the short straw of struggle?

We believe that with focus, intent and genuine desire, a pattern is something that can be overcome if it is destructive. We believe that sometimes, before you can move forward, you have to deal with the past accurately and honestly. This can mean seeking or offering forgiveness. This can mean shining a light on dark corners we had long accepted as forgotten. This can mean voicing feelings and truth we didn’t even know existed.

But we’re ready for a different future so today our intent is to be healed from the past.
You too? Here are 3 things to help: Continue reading

My Past Doesn’t Define Me – It Strengthens Me

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By Ryan Skinner

Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” As a recovering addict given a second chance at life, I have been given the opportunity to pay forward my reversal of fortune to help others struggling with the disease of addiction. Every day I ask God how I can be of service to others using the talents He’s given me, and I have learned that the true measure of success is found in how many people you bless. It may sound ironic to be grateful to have gone through something so horrific, but I thank God now that I can help people experiencing the same nightmare. Continue reading

The Honor of Remembering

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On calendars in the United States, today is a day dedicated to remembering, Memorial Day. We remember those service men and women who sacrificed everything for the sake of others and that is an important practice because it feels easier to forget difficult things. It makes sense to forget everything aside from the happy endings and the good news but there is something very important to remembering the journey as a whole.

Acknowledging the journey allows us to be gracious. It reminds us not to take our steps forward for granted and that time is limited. How we choose to spend it, whether it be in vain pursuit or for the betterment of ourselves will ultimately affect everyone. Remembering is important because it allows us to be informed as we start a new page today. Continue reading

The Past Is Always Present, So Make It Work For You

Letting Go - Creative Commons by gnuckxMany self-help teachers will urge you to live in the moment:  “The past is over and done with. The present is a present.”  Of course, it is great to fully experience the present and not dilute it with invasive thoughts of the past or even future worries – the way animals live moment to moment; however, humans are far more complex. And when someone tells you not to think about something or do something, that’s all you think about. Ask any unsuccessful dieter!

Let your past work for you

Memories are powerful teachers, lessons of the past making you wiser. Also, they can be comforting like a favorite old story to be retold or an old movie to be seen again. Ultimately, when you reflect on the past, you might finally unlock a pattern which has undermined your true potential and change what no longer works.  A great byproduct is that you can recall the former self you have lost touch with throughout the years to be what you aspire to be.

7 Steps to understand where you’ve been to get where you want to go

* Find a place to withdraw from all the nervous energy and demands around you and create the time to breathe and reflect.

* Take stock of your hidden dreams. Recall the people from the past who inspired and fueled you to be the best that you can be. Process what they said and hear their voices again. What did they say that you were good at doing? Find it.

* If you feel stressed and anxious, take a closer look at the roots of your daily unhappiness. What old words of criticism from parents, educators or friends still upset you? Do you use these same words in your own negative self-talk: “Fat,” “Stupid,”  “Ugly,” “Never amount to anything?” It’s time to silence your inner critic and speak to yourself with compassion and respect.

* Identify the life pattern which is holding you back. Introspect on your past emotional programming – things you feel you ought to do. What will you do differently today to accomplish for yourself? Make sure you know why you want to achieve your new goals.

* Forgive yourself today for past failures. Create a ritual of forgiveness which is meaningful to you like reciting a prayer, or flushing away a piece of paper with your failure written on it. When you forgive yourself, you will be emotionally available to forgive others. What tends to bother people most is not that someone hurt them, but that they allowed themselves to be hurt.

* Do you idealize the past to escape your present – the good old days, or the one that got away? Try tuning into your daily reality and investing it with the same energetic imagination.

* Get into a state of flow and become one with whatever you are doing – where past and present merge into a single unit of time. For example, a golf swing or a dance you have practiced many times where you go from past rehearsal to present accomplishment automatically and effortlessly.

Note: Those of you who have suffered past trauma should consult a psychiatrist about revisiting the past – as some memories need a medical guide or should remain undisturbed.
 

Originally posted in 2011 

Throwback Thursday: 8 Major US Cities As Seen by Your Great-Grandparents

Here are some of the most iconic American cities, now bustling centers of commerce, entertainment, fashion, and media. They were important in these regards back in the day, too, but by the looks of these photos you’d never know it!

All of these images come from about the late 19th century, which you can tell by the horse-drawn carriages and old-fashioned clothing styles. We live in the 21st century, surrounded by all kinds of cultures and styles and immersed in contemporary issues and concerns. It’s important, though, to remember where we came from, and that we are part of a long line of individuals who have lived in, experienced, and help built this country we call home.

And what’s more, these photographs are just so darn precious. Take a look!

Boston – Newspaper Row, Washington StreetOld-Photos-of-Big-Cities-30

Philadelphia – Broad Street

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San Francisco – Bay Bridge

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New York – Grand Central Station and Hotel Manhattan

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Chicago – Wabash Avenue

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Detroit – Woodward Avenue

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Los Angeles – South Broadway

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Washington D.C. – Ninth Street

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And one bonus from New York… (Wall Street!)

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Images sourced: Fludit and Los Angeles Past

When to Let Go: Are You Collecting or Hoarding?

By Avishag Kaufman

The TV is on. The screen, all 60″ of it, is littered with junk–stacks of old newspapers, piles of phone books, lawn bags full of trash, broken furniture, cardboard boxes. The camera pans out and you realize…”This is somebody’s front yard!” The realization turns into shock and disbelief as the camera takes you INTO the building. Dirty dishes are piled high in a rusty sink (neither of which have been washed in who knows how long). Clothes, boxes, empty (or half empty) fast food takeout containers thrown everywhere in a room so crowded with junk that there’s barely room to put a foot in, let alone move around in. And worst of all – cats…tens of them. Some seem merely famished, other look obviously diseased or maimed, and some are even dead (or dried up)! The camera zooms in on the old lady of the house. She’s confused – what is everyone fussing about?! Why are they taking her things out of the house?!

1363793082shutterstock_108936575The title of the program flashes on: “Hoarders.” It’s now a pop culture phenomenon that we watch as a guilty pleasure in the comfort of our homes. We cast our judgement as we watch these people lose everything they hold dear in front of us. But are they really so different from us??

I start wondering: when does a person stop being a “collector” and become a “hoarder”? Where is this effusive point? Where is this invisible line?

I know someone who collected phonebooks for decades – not just from her area, but from around the world.  She could reason about why she kept them, too—I mean, you never know when you’ll need them, right? Does this sound familiar? Another person I know collects friends.  Once she meets someone, she keeps in touch forever, it seems.

The hoarder on TV felt secure in her clutter, perhaps the way a baby feels safe in a swaddle during those first days of adjusting to the outside wide world. Is it fear of the immensity of the outside world that makes her create a tighter confinement, a smaller parameter?  Clear boundaries? I don’t know.

Messy-GarageI don’t have phonebooks piled up in my closet. I do have other things I find hard(er) to say goodbye to. We all do. Do you have clothes from over a decade ago that you’ve been planning to get rid of and never did? How about books you’ve read that were just “ok”–nothing you’d describe as a classic worth preserving? (Guilty). How about artwork your 27 year old child has made from pre-K to High School?(Guilty…again) Plastic containers in your pantry? Gift baskets from 20 Christmases ago? Ribbons? Is your pantry stocked well enough to last you through World War Three? Do you keep food in the fridge long after the expiration date? Your freezer?

What is it, then, that makes us hold on to what we hold on to? Take those old clothes that are out of fashion or that you haven’t been able to squeeze into for years – is this nostalgia for a “better” time in your life? Clinging to your younger, skinnier, fitter self? If so, what light does that shed on your value system? Do you value your looks more than your other, less physical/material achievements like intellectual spiritual growth? Are you having a hard time with the concept of “aging gracefully”?  Are you holding on for fear of lack, the way people who grew up poor have a hard time spending money even when they are financially more secure? Or are you like those who remember being hungry and consequently have a hard time leaving food on their plates, or worse – throwing it away? Are you having difficulty just giving things away, for free, thinking that you could actually make some money if you were to sell them?
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Why am I dwelling on this issue? Because this difficulty in “letting go” of physical possessions is indicative of how we conduct ourselves and is bound to manifest in other areas of our lives–behavior, relationships, career choices, and so forth. If you think this is an exaggeration, take a closer look in the mirror and ask yourself: Can you give something (an object, money, your attention) without expecting a return? Do you give charity easily, even without the coveted tax deduction, or any recognition? Can you easily let go of the past, of old grudges, or do you hold on to old grievances, because they give you a sense of “identity”?

Maybe you think that this doesn’t apply to you. Maybe you feel you are quite the opposite because you have to, almost compulsively, get rid of the old: you buy new clothes to stay in fashion, you continually upgrade your phone, your computer, your car…maybe you even have the urge to move to a larger, fancier home. If this is the case, maybe it’s true that you do not hold onto objects like hoarders might. Maybe you’re holding onto something else less tangible–a thought-form, a belief about yourself, a self-image that compels you to do just that. What do you think?

It is fascinating to realize how accurately our external, material world mirrors our subconscious mind, our thought patterns, our “programming”, our ideas and beliefs about ourselves. My friend may be collecting friends because of fear that if she does not initiate the contact and maintain it, she’ll become irrelevant and left alone. Others, on the other hand,  who obsess about the hottest brand names, or the newest electronic device and struggle to “one-up” their friends, or at least “stay in the race,” may do so in order to feel respected or “valued.”

But this is important.

Start small. Next time you walk into your closet, or your pantry, just ask yourself: am I a collector, or a hoarder? Am I exercising free will in my life, evaluating what serves me and getting rid of what (and who) no longer does, or do I constantly avoid making choices, letting things (or people) get into my space, accumulate there, and never challenge their presence?

I don’t know about you, but I am not waiting for spring-cleaning. I’ve already started.

Happy Cleansing!

 

What Will You Do When Your Life Flashes Before Your Eyes?

the pathI had an interesting experience yesterday. One of those life-flashes-before-your-eyes kind of moments.

I won’t go into the particulars of the incident, but what is important is that I saw how, in a few short seconds, my life could have been gone and, after a breath or two, the realization that I was still here.

This sat a little heavier with me than it might most people because I’ve experienced being on the other side of loss, where I was the surviving half of a pair. I’ve written about this before, as it was the slow-but-sure catalyst for a complete collapsing and rebuilding of my inner and outer life, perspective, and purpose.

For a long time after I had reentered society and “healed,” I noticed that I was hyper-sensitive to the small things in life. Giving someone a hug, saying goodbye or hello, a bird flying by, listening to a heartbeat – these all struck me as so precious and fleeting. I marveled at how no one else seemed to recognize the value in these small moments, while also realizing I could not live with this kind of intensity. I could not keep treating each moment as if it could be the last.

Or could I?

If I did value each moment as if it could be the last, it ramped up my experiences to the level of sacred. It slowed down the pace of life to one slow-motion moment. Life simultaneously filled and broke my heart every day from the sheer happiness at being alive and the knowledge that this too will end someday.

Over time this intense attitude faded some, as you can imagine. I got comfortable with my new normal life. I was able to enjoy it without valuing it as priceless. I told myself it just wasn’t sustainable to live with that kind of intensity.

I now realize it wasn’t sustainable because I wasn’t yet strong enough to sustain it.

It takes a lot of strength to take on life fully, with all its rawness, beauty, fullness, and heartbreak. It takes a strength and commitment that no one can give us because it has to come from the inside out. Perhaps this is why we tend to get inspired or feel fearless momentarily, and then slowly fade back into a more comfortable zone of living where people are nice, loving, and live their lives with an ease and trust that everything’s going to be alright. We’re all going to live to a hundred, tragedy doesn’t touch us, and let’s put off that dream until tomorrow.

I found certain kinds of yoga lit the flame deep inside me to live my fullest life, to face my fears, and to live each day as if I was going to die tomorrow.

That’s a question that works wonders for me, and I often call on it when I feel especially afraid or especially self-conscious about putting myself out there.

I ask myself, If you died tomorrow, would you wish you had done this?

The answer is usually yes. Because in the light of death, vulnerability doesn’t seem so scary. In the light of death, vulnerability is all there is. It allows us to turn ourselves inside out, not so much for all the world to see, but more for us to see. For us to feel. For us to let out all our inner, protected, sensitive layers and let them feel the freedom of being unprotected and fully alive.

In the light of life, vulnerability is dangerous. It exposes us and that means people might be able to poke a hole in our armor with their harsh words, opinions, or indifference.

It also means people could get inside us. God forbid someone come up close and touch our beating heart, see our deepest fears, or learn that we are only human like them.

I’ve often thought when our lives flash before our eyes it would happen quickly, in our last moments of life. Isn’t that how it’s always portrayed in the movies or in stories?

My experience of my life flashing before my eyes was quite slow. It happened over the course of hours, as I witnessed every step I took in my daily life that I might not have been able to take. Everything I might normally take for granted I saw as alive, priceless, fascinating, and almost unreal.

Even so, I saw old patterns acting themselves out. Fear, defenses, walls. It was as if, since I was still alive, I still felt I had to protect my “self” somehow.

This is the glory of being human.

I find it unfortunate that it often takes loss or trauma to remind us of the intrinsic value of life, of a breath, of a heartbeat. The urgency and brevity of life often does not fully register in us until we are faced with our own mortality or that of someone close to us.

It’s not just every new day that is a gift, an opportunity, and an invitation to live fully.

It is every moment.

Every moment we can choose to embrace or pass by. And it is not just an invitation. It is our obligation. As humans, as parents, as partners, as friends, as children, as human beings it is our obligation to step into our lives fully, so that when our life flashes before our eyes, we will not have to wonder, What would I have done if I knew I was going to die today?

We will have already done it. We will have already done it, spoke it, wrote it, shared it, lived it.

In the words of Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

The Pregnancy Scare – How I Found My Voice to Demand Respect

There is nothing quite like a trip to the laundry room at 2 AM. Especially if you are tripping barefoot through dewy grass, under guava trees, past a tire swing. Especially if you are burning between the legs and carrying reeking sheets in a massive, infuriating bundle. You will never forget this one, sister.

For two months I thought I was pregnant. “Thought” is too subtle. I dreamt in horrifying wakefulness, every passing minute a sharp reminder. I’m too young. I have no idea how to be a mom. Have a child with that brute? Dear God, no. The days tore through me as I wandered around, disembodied. My belly, my legs, my beating heart – they became possessed, first in my mind and later in the heavy discomfort that literally weighed me down. It was a long, bloodless summer.

I have never been raped. But they say one in four women in the U.S. will be sexually assaulted at some point in her life. This fear has called on me. First when my beloved clutched my neck and showed me just how strong those muscles were. I forced his arm away and held my tongue until…a more appropriate moment. “I’m sorry,” he later said, sheepishly. “I thought you wanted that.” I was left to comfort and assure him all was well. Next time I want to be surprise-strangled in the midst of tender love, I’ll make my desires known loud and clear. Asshole.

Excuses come to mind…. I’m not a prude. It was an honest mistake. He felt really, really bad. And then I marvel at my eagerness to explain his behavior away. It must, after all, be my fault. Part of me still believes this. What wretched girlfriend would so mindlessly mislead her man and cause him the pain of embarrassment? My neck aside, curse the woman who would ever wound a man’s pride. And, to be honest, I’ve kept my mouth shut through worse.

Fear came knocking next on the indigo latch door of a hut in rural New Zealand where was I staying during a 3-month solo backpacking trip. The pillow from which I awoke daily to falling guava pits now accommodated two heads. Months had passed in the span of days, and I reluctantly welcomed an unlikely companion into my fairy house. I had vacillated between disgust and intrigue. His eager, forward advances, flowers on my door, accentuated brushes past one another in the kitchen. The whole seduction at once nauseated and thrilled me.

In truth, I saw it coming. The festive air of night, the dancing, the liquor, my own brilliant and sensual self-awareness. When I finally closed the door of my little hut, I knew it wouldn’t stay shut for long. He came to me like a fugitive, calling gently at first, then stealing in eagerly.

Events spiraled in a wild, painful frenzy. I lost my footing on some astral ledge and slipped through the next minutes in terrifying confusion, trying to keep up. He didn’t notice. He did exactly what he had come to the fairy hut to do. For a sliver of time I existed only as an enveloping cosmic hole. A vessel into which the frantic lover might dump all his longing, his rage, his memories, his guilt, his sensitivity, his insecurity and his hunger. And it was my responsibility to let him do so.

I lay still for a moment, used up. In the past I might have turned to my side and fallen numbly asleep. But rage slowly devoured me. I sat up and faced him, as I had never done a sweetheart before. Words fell like poison from my dry mouth: How dare you? You miserable, pathetic excuse of a man. How dare you abuse me in this way. His shame sickened me. The panic in his eyes, the clammy palms, the hasty retreat.

The crisp night was a welcome relief from my hut, once so lovely and solitary and girlish. My arms laden with sheets, at least I was free. Back to sweet solitude. Back to the night and me. Who knew what the morning would bring? But for the next few dark hours I was free in my fiery, impassioned rage. Free and fierce and licking my own wounds.

In the end, I wasn’t pregnant. But there also wasn’t any blood for the rest of the summer. And my body didn’t feel like my own for nearly a year after the fact.  At least it would never be his again. We agreed to forget the night. As though I could forget, as though I would want to forget. How, after all, could I then raise my future daughters to know the power they hold within their bodies, and the great and terrible responsibility it is to be a woman?

That night will always exist in my archives. And the fear I have tasted, the rage and shame, too. Sixteen and twenty are fond memories, but I would shrink from visiting those eras again. That girl has mountains and friends and new ideas to comfort her now. She knows that her mind and her beauty and her soul are nothing short of holy, and should be treated as such.

By sharing our memories with the intent to inspire and not to frighten, the girls of our past selves and of the future heal and reclaim their power. After all, there is so much to look forward to. The air is still sweet and fresh after dark, and I still welcome the hope of new love. Somewhere beyond the moss and vines, true freedom awaits. And it will find a fierce, warm, and intoxicating home in my arms.

Nostalgia The Very Good Way And The Pathological Way.

I learned that Nostalgia comes from Latin which means house or home. I forget the exact meaning which it really means. It is the meaning of looking for a Home for me. I wanted to always look for the home of the past. You always remember the happiest moments of the best times. You never remember the bad times too much. Except for me who tends to dwell on the negative so very much. I am so very focused on that crap it is ridiculous. That is all part of letting go here too. To realize the past was never ever as good as it was remembered. It was crappy at that point in time in time too. It had it’s very bad moments too. Their is the right way though. To just kick back and just be in conversation this was really good stuff. Reminsence and just be move on. The other way to hold on to it all is pathological. It is time to move on. To live life to the fullest.

Past Mistakes

We’ve all made mistakes in our past. Big ones, little ones, medium ones. And no matter the SIZE of these past mistakes, we’re able to dredge them up and recall them with the greatest of ease.

Listen to: "Past Mistakes"

http://cowboyshaman.podomatic.com

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