Choose Your Life Everyday

I just spent two hours writing a post that I am not going to share. Its all right and its all wrong. I spent 4 pages writing passionately about a topic and when I read it, it felt like I had walked into a beautifully staged Manhattan apartment for sale. All the pieces are right, but the feeling just isn’t there.

The reason is because I was not speaking from the place of my own experience, from the place of I.

It’s the reason I have not shared anything on this blog in several weeks. Every time I pick up the proverbial pen, I want to go into fix it, beige vanilla do not look at me mode. I want to tell you the solution. How to get you to the letter Z without sharing that I am literally on the letter D and plodding my way through the alphabet.

I do not have all the answers and what I can share is how I am okay with my life right now and how my current perspective is empowering me to enjoy and choose the life that I have.

I am actively choosing my life. In the last 6 weeks I have examined every part of my life. My friendships, relationships, work, and daily activities are all now active choices. Regardless of how long or the manner in which they were previously present in my life, they all exist now with brand new acceptance and space.

I did this in my yoga practice as a physical embodiment of the power to choose. I realized sometimes my drishti or gaze is so rigid, I forget that I always have the power to choose this moment. So while I was in Eagle pose, I closed my eyes and opened them with the chance to begin again. To choose exactly where I would set my vision unattached from where I had previously set it. Sometimes it worked out that my eyes landed on the same spot. Other times I found a completely new place on the wall. Sometimes I completely fell out of the pose and others I felt a renewed sense of foundation and strength.

Each time though, I had the experience of having the power of choice and complete acceptance with each outcome. The coolest thing I noticed was a renewed appreciation for the actual wall. By being so focused on only one spot, I forgot that no matter how I look at or relate to the wall, its power and connection to my practice is always there, and I always have the power to choose connection.

I do not have any goals right now, as an active choice. My entire focus is on developing practices in life that support my ability to be fully present in each moment that I have chosen to be a part of my life. In my relationship at work, that means developing a practice or organization that allows me to communicate and work with my team in a timely way, with precision and awareness. In my relationships it looks like dedicating time each day to spend meaningful time with the people in my life. I know I cant spend time with everyone, and I can take that time each day for meaningful connection with someone.

I choose to be active in many pursuit so my physical health, endurance and mental clarity is important. To support this I regularly practice yoga, perform cardio exercise, lift weights, eat whole foods most of the time and I have completely stopped drinking

Focusing on the process and practice that supports the connections and activities I choose is incredibly freeing. It allows me to be fully present to each interaction without attachment to how it is going to turn out. My happiness right now is not dependent on winning or achieving, its dependent on giving the full measure of life of presence I have to offer each person and each situation.

The most difficult thing for me to process during this transformation is the realization of the damage of who I have been, my dislike of it, and not to dwell in the past. I have made several work commitments that were not followed up on in a timely manner. I have not called people I consider friends for weeks on end. I have not offered and demonstrated love and listening when it was needed. I have been distracted, absent and missed countless opportunities owing in large part to my own self-generated and induced laziness.

The consequence of my own re-calibration is coming face to face with the reality of how each person and circumstances really is in my life today, and acknowledging that I am the source of how it is.

The road I have traveled in my 36 years on this earth seems to have been filled with many hi’s and many low’s. What I am realizing is the road has been flat this whole time. I am the one who looked back and distorted the past view to justify my current condition as being on the way down or on the way up. Whatever felt better, whether I wanted to wear the victim coat or the hero jacket. It was either up or down.

It really just is.

The road ahead of me right now is full of people I love. It is full of moment to moment choices and decisions, some of which may work out and others which may cause unexpected detours or changes of course.

Today I want to share with you that no matter where you are, no matter what is happening in your life, you have the power to choose it. Partner with it. Send it your forgiveness, your understanding, your presence and your awareness. If it is worth enjoying, enjoy it. If it is not the most pleasant, accept it and move on to what you can manifest in your life that will bring joy today.

You are never defined by what has happened to you or what will happen to you. We all have the power to engage life right now, and when we do we create life and all the possibility it holds, which in my experience….

Is infinite.

 

 

 

 

The Binary Consequence of Attachment and the Arising Joy of Now

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In Buddhism, there are eight worldly conditions of life identified that are at the central route of much of our own suffering during our physical lives. They are broken into four pairs of opposites. They are;

Gain and Loss

Praise and Criticism

Fame and Disrepute

Pleasure and Pain

As human beings, no matter how hard we try, we will experience all of the above at some point in our lives, often several times over. The presence of any one in a pair will lead to the manifestation of the other.

I call this the binary consequence of attachment.

The easiest place to look is gain and loss as it is something most of us have experienced and have a memory of from an early age. I remember the first time my mother took away a toy of mine as “punishment” for being bad. I had initially gained the toy and infused it with the ownership of “mine” and the responsibility of happiness. Its removal from my life created a vacuum of happiness, as if my identity were ripped at the seams.

Flash forward to adult life and the mechanics are the same, just different objects. Last week I lost a brand new winter hat. I loved this hat, it made me look good and I spent hard earned money it. It made me feel, attractive, confident, warm and I experienced GAIN. Even though I know that hat is gone, I keep looking for it. No other hat will do because that was THE HAT. How could another hat possibly keep me warm? I am lazy, irresponsible and careless with money. I have LOSS.

Here’s the sneaky part. The moment I started to infuse the hat with meaning for good, I guaranteed an eventual loss. This is the binary consequence of attachment. In and of themselves, experiences in life can bring us endless amounts of joy. The key difference is that joy does not arise from attachment, it arises from present moment awareness, and fully dedicating yourself to the experience that is really happening in your life.

Instagram is a great example for describing the above, and a daily reminder for me on how fast ego and the eight worldly conditions can spring into action.

The entire platform is engineered to create content and then share that content with real time feedback on whether or not your content is liked, viewed and generates connection. So lets say I share something on Instagram and it receives 100 likes. I instantly feel the pleasure of being liked, the fame of being seen, the active praise those little hearts communicate and maybe even the gain of a few friends.

And then the bottom drops out. Two days later I post something and my pride and ego from the previous post have set sufficient expectation that this is going to top the last post. BOOM!!!!

….. and 34 likes. What is happening? Why do people hate me? I am a fraud. People are sick of reading my shit. Why did you even post that? Someone un-followed me? #Imdead No one cares. Blah, Blah, Blah.

And it happens like that, the moment expectation and attachment to outcome is not met. The high of posting something that achieved gain, pleasure and fame instantly creates the fertile soil for loss, pain and disrepute.

As part of my journey over the last several months, I am beginning to find a way out, a way that brings peace and most of all, joy. It is the practice of enjoying, with the most present moment awareness I can create, whatever I am doing or what is, in my life. I am free to interact with anyone I meet without agenda. If I experience loss, I don’t focus on what the loss has taken way, rather how I can enjoy what IS NOW PRESENT in my life. I will share much more about this later.

Today I am sharing the first longer form poem I have written in several years. I wrote it last night sitting at a bar that also serves late night coffee as I am on day 21 of who knows how long of removing alcohol from my life. More about that later as well.

This is not a poem that will or even should receive any critical acclaim. It is presented as another step on the path of discovering my dharma, and sharing it with the world.

I am not mad

Red is not the color I see

I simply choose to be

This is my free

From society

Wanting me

Angry.

I am not sad

Reject your perception of blue

Embrace what is true

Each day is new

In the morning dew

Sunlight’s hue

My coup.

I’m not jealous

Joy is not a prize to be won

We all stand in the sun

Envy Arson.

Accept what is done

Wanting none

Become.

I’m not happy

A soaring balloon that will fall

Inflated protocol

Crackpot cure-all

Dubious drywall

I install

Over all

I’m down with Joy

Spontaneous-no cost attached

Or wits that must be matched

The now is hatched.

Life’s purpose dispatched

Soul Impact

I attract

I accept death

Impermanence as we decay

Bodies wither away

This moment-Stay

Begin again day

After day

Today

About Me-Updated

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One of the most important things I have learned in the last 6 months, is how connected we all are and how what we have in common may act as the pathway to discovering the ultimate connection, that oneness within us all we all share.  Perhaps we are even more connected than you know. In the spirit of that discovery, I have updated the About me section of this blog.

I am 36 years old and enthusiastically identify as Gen X.

I have lost a parent

I am learning to rediscover another

I have two brothers that love me

I can spend more time loving them

 

I grew up in a small town

Went to college in a bigger town

Dropped out of college

Had my heart broken as a teenager

And as an adult

 

I have had almost every hairstyle

Shoulder length

Shaved

Bowl

Cornrows

No dreadlocks

And never shaved only down the middle

There is still time

 

I have been addicted to drugs

I have been addicted to alcohol

I am currently addicted to pizza

Seriously

I have been overweight

 

I loved wearing sweatpants in school as a kid

Then I wore a uniform from 4th grade through 12th grade

And dressed like a bum throughout college

And most of my early 20’s

Then I saw Ryan Gosling in a Hugo Boss suit in Fracture

And decided to compromise

 

I have lied in the past to look good

And avoid looking bad

for fear of punishment

and to manipulate praise

for all the bad reasons

because good ones don’t exist

 

I watch too much TV

I LOVE watching movies

But don’t really like movies made before 1964

Stand By Me is my favorite

 

I was a mathlete in middle school

Don’t ask

The first book I remember feeling moved by was A Celestine Prophecy

I once told my fellow 4th graders at recess that I was pacifist

I explained it meant I wouldn’t hit back……

Should not have explained that

 

I love playing basketball

But not the practice

I loved acting

But not the practice

I love writing

But only when it comes easily

I love anything that comes easily

You know

Anything I don’t have to practice at

Except Yoga

I love practicing yoga

 

I love just about every type of music

my first love was grunge

I used to tell people I liked everything

except country

that was the thing to say

and now I like country

and have fallen asleep to the sound of Metallica

 

I am a hard worker

When I know it will get me ahead

Whatever that means

If I could go back I would remind myself

Not all hours spent working are productive

To be proud of a job well done

Not of a job well perceived

 

I have never been a bully

But I have sat down when I should have stood up

I am sorry for those moments

And I endeavor to never sit

When the moment to stand arrives

 

I love making people laugh

I laugh out loud

Often about 2 seconds after everyone else

It just takes time for the joke to hit me

I love listening to people sing

And although I wish I could

I’m not the best singer

Except in the shower and elevator

There I am a star

 

I love works of art

And I draw stick figures

And label my drawings when not clear what is drawn

Really

My 7th grade art teacher threatened to take me off the honor roll unless I drew something else

She allowed stick figures after I submitted ‘something else’

 

I often think about running for office

Then I see the news

And I don’t

Then I think about what I could change

And I do

Until I tell myself the system is broken

And I don’t

 

I used to believe in God

Then I didn’t

Then I did

Then being agnostic was cool

Or calling it a higher power

Then I didn’t think about it at all

And now I do

And I believe we are all connected

And I believe

You know

 

My favorite color is blue

It’s the color of my eyes

my mom’s favorite color

the color of her eyes

 

I am very skilled at starting things

Less skilled at continuing things

A novice at finishing things

An amateur at engaging in feedback after something is finished

A virgin at being okay with completing something that failed

I give up before I can fail

It’s my paradoxical parachute

Opening it ensures I crash

 

I will hesitate to hit send on this post

Just like when I want to call to my friends

And I have AMAZING friends

It’s not about you

Always about me

 

I do believe that sharing who we are

And holding space for others that do

is the foundation for connection

I don’t share enough

I would like to share more

I commit to sharing more

Starting now

Waking Up

December 8, 2017

My life transformed while I was folding laundry.

I read the above sentence and can’t help but laugh and also remember the skepticism with which I used to view stories like the one I am about to share. On a single day over three months ago, my life shifted completely and put me on the path I walk today. It is a path of humility, constant learning, missteps and hiccups, laughter and clarity. It is a path I call THE DAILY PRACTICE OF LIVING and it all started on August 25th, 2017.

I was standing in the middle of the living room, mindlessly watching Law & Order SVU and folding clothes fresh out of the dryer. I had a long sleeve shirt stretched out arm to arm in both hands with the collar pinned between my chin and chest.

Out of nowhere my heart started to beat out of my chest and my fingers and toes started to tingle. I was intensely aware of the room, my breathe, the sounds and colors in the room, and all of the sensations in my body, heartbeat included. After what felt like minutes but was really only 5-10 seconds, I heard a voice. Not as a sound from a stereo, but in the same manner you might hear words in your head when reading in silence. The voice I heard was new, yet also familiar to me. The message was clear.

Change your life now, or you are going to die very soon

Since that day I have endeavored to put into words some explanation of everything I felt and what happened.

The impact and immediacy of the transformation felt like a light-switch turning on.

The best rationale I have for what happened came from Baron Baptiste. In addition to being an incredibly powerful and empowering human being, he is someone I consider to be one of the great teachers in my life. When I told him what I experienced, he said simply and without hesitation, “It sounds like you were ready to wake up”.

Since that day I have experienced a peaceful serenity and freedom from anger I had not known in my 36 previous years of life. My eating habits, meditation habits, and physical exercise habits all shifted. The tool I have practiced every day since then, in the moments of greatest difficulty and relative ease, is to keep coming back to the present moment and be mindful of exactly where I am. It is a practice every moment of every day.

Sometimes I go long stretches without being present and then I catch myself, and come back. The practice is to stay in the awareness and to try and shorten the length of time between being lost in thought, and present in the moment. There is so much I want to share and today is the first step in that journey.

THE DAILY PRACTICE OF LIVING – Living a Life of Practice, One Breathe at a Time- is what I intuitively know I want to share with the world. As I type now I see, in addition to my own reflections shared, the insights of others (some who I already know and some who I have yet to meet) on the tools and practices they put into action to lead an empowered and fulfilling life.

I look forward to sharing what comes next and openly admit I have no idea what that will be.

What I do know is I want to share it.