Tag Archive | enlightenment

Loving those who are still sleeping

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“Once you awaken you will have no interest in judging those who sleep.” 

Yes! Sometimes it may be tempting to speak of love and compassion then negatively judge those who do not act as lovingly as we ourselves do or think we do. We may learn something new, become financially better off, obtain an advanced school degree, become enlightened in some way, get an amazing job promotion, lose weight, live a healthier lifestyle….then come back to judge those who are still less educated, less well off, less wise in certain ways. 

But I believe true wisdom is letting others be. Let them be how they are, embrace them in the state they are currently in while wishing the best for them. We do not have to be arrogant or condescending in our ways. It’s great when we accomplish something amazing and deepen our wisdom and compassion but it doesn’t mean we have to become smug about it. Even if we try to help them wake up, we can do this in non condescending ways remembering that we were not always so wise or educated and that there will always be those more wise, educated, skilled, or intelligent than we are. 

The longer I live, the more I realize the importance and deep wisdom of humility. 

This is a lovely quote that sums it up so perfectly. 

Much love & light to you!

❤ 😀

Xoxo Kim 

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Glimpses of my authentic self

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“Don’t be afraid to be weak
Don’t be too proud to be strong
Just look into your heart, my friend
That will be the return to yourself.” ~ Enigma

For years, I struggled with depression almost every single day, recurrent severe episodes on top of less but often still severe, long-term depression.  I was suicidal or wanting to die, in different degrees, nearly every day, sometimes just brief thoughts all the way to dangerous contemplation. My depression is not environmental or circumstantial, although it can be triggered or worsened by environmental factors, it’s more of a biochemical depression. The initial onset may have been triggered by things in my environment and certain insecurities but once it manifested, it is here to stay, even when my environment is pleasant and I’m not struggling with any specific problem.  I’m not depressed everyday anymore.
Now it comes and goes. It’s in my genes and unpleasant situations I have experienced brought it out as the whole disorder.
This condition confused me for many years. I couldn’t understand why I was so depressed. Sometimes it felt like I had every problem in the world which was causing my despair. Other occasions, it seemed like everything was going amazingly well and I was still devastatingly depressed. 
I often made excuses for why I was so depressed. I took every little problem I had or ever had and said that’s what was depressing me. Sometimes I exaggerated the problems, making them out to be worse, more dramatic, or more frequent than they were, to make sense of my depression.
I said it’s because I had no friends, because my family argued, because I experienced a verbally/emotionally abusive environment previously, because I’m worthless, because my friends were arguing, because I got a low grade in class or on an exam, because I haven’t accomplished much, because it’s all too late, ….while these things were sometimes true or seemed to be, they weren’t always what triggered or caused my depression and they weren’t always as frequent as I made them out to be.
Sometime they were the culprits, but often they were just the scapegoats I used, sometimes consciously, some occasions, unconsciously, to make sense of something that made no sense to me.
They can trigger or contribute to my depression but that’s because it’s in my genes already, I’m already prone to it. And even when things are going great in other ways, I can become depressed. Those problems would likely make anyone unhappy about them but not everyone would fall into a deep, full blown suicidal/psychotic depression in the face of them.

Also, depression can make problems seem exaggerated, worse than they really are. Sometimes when I’m depressed, even just mildly depressed, I care so much about little problems or things I would never care about when I’m not depressed.

It can be completely chemical, coming on for no known reason, it can be triggered by an unpleasant environmental factor, or it can be psychological, triggered by certain thoughts I have, painful memories I dislike, an insecurity I may be struggling with, a negative self-image, a hopeless feeling about certain situations…this kind, I can sometimes reverse before it gets out of hand if I catch it quickly enough, I can change my thoughts or perceptions or attitudes before it sucks me in too deeply to where I can’t pull myself back out,  when I realize my own negative thinking is the main contribution. This is a technique I learned through the years.

If you’re not susceptible to depression, you can most likely struggle with a negative thought, situation, insecurity, environmental issue….and not sink into a deep, dark place where you want to die, lose all sense of hope, joy, pleasure, energy for weeks or months. For someone with depression even while not currently depressed, these things can trigger that.

After struggling so long, I was never sure where the despair and pain ended and where I began. It became my identity. It was threaded throughout my every day, throughout me, throughout my entire existence. I couldn’t separate it and me. We were one and the same. When I looked into a mirror, into my own eyes, it wasn’t any kind of me I saw, it was the dark entity lurking about deep within me, all around me, crushing my body til I couldn’t stand up straight and my speech was often slow and slurred. People pointed this out occasionally. It was more alive than I was. It choked me and suffocated me.

I saw things I would have liked or loved if it wasn’t for the pain, the emptiness, the loneliness, and nothingness. I could detect things that would have won my heart if I were “a regular girl.” I saw things I wanted to want.

I knew which things would bring me joy if I wasn’t so worn out and wrung. And sometimes those things would bring me joy but it was tainted joy. I felt pleasure but not to the fullest.

For many, many years, nearly every day, I had no clue what I was. I saw myself as a monster, as the pain itself, as “different” than all the other girls I saw, knew, encountered. I literally never thought of or referred to myself as a person or as someone. To me, I was no one.

I remember writing in a journal when I was a young woman about this one moment I actually pretended to be someone. I pretended to have value. I looked into a mirror and told myself I’m someone, knowing it wasn’t true. And I wrote about how pathetic that was. And that it was a lie.

I had no dreams, no goals, no plans other than to die. My main interest was my own death and planning it. Everything revolved around that. It was often the only thing I was passionate  about, the only thing with some sense of purpose or meaning to me. Everything was wrong with me, I was deeply flawed, irreparably broken, shattered to pieces. A million little pieces.
Pieces that could never be put back together.

When my depression would lift very briefly, or I wouldn’t be suicidal for a short while, I felt like I wasn’t completely me. Even though I would be so happy, it felt strange, uncomfortable. Sometimes I almost welcomed the suicidal pain back into my heart. I was me again. Home again. I felt relief. It was agonizing, pure anguish, but it’s mostly all I ever knew. It was a kind of comfortable there.

Even now when I think back to my years as a girl and young woman, most of my memories are clouded with pain. Even remembering when everything was going right, even happy occasions. Sometimes now it brings me pain to reminisce. When most people think back to each stage of life, they can probably think of many things they were interested in during each one of those stages, the thrilling obsessions they had back then, the happy memories they created, even the trivial little problems that were the end of the world then but now are laughable.

My memories are mostly of vicious darkness. Despair. Pain. Suicide contemplation. Year after year. Day after day. My struggle with depression and certain experiences contributed to some insecurities I have now that come and go. One of those is struggling with feelings of worthlessness, sometimes even when I’m not depressed. This can lead me to a Depressive episode then leading to deeper feelings of worthlessness. It’s a vicious cyclic process. 

I have a few happy memories. Even some memories in the midst of my depression are happy. I had a very happy childhood until the depression hit making me sluggish and uninspired then worsened to a vicious darkness, a deep kind of despair. I loved high school and had lots of friends in school and some I saw outside of school. I loved college and met a couple great friends there. I loved all my classes, the professors, and people I met through the years there, the campus, the experience.

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(me when I was fourteen years old, one of my truly happy, non-depressed days, at Wildwood NJ, on vacation with my family)

But I still often struggled so hard with suffocating loneliness and deep emotional anguish.

The depression was me. I was the depression. I was nothing but pain itself. The pure agony that suffocated me everyday but still allowed me to live so I would continue to suffer. 

Except, not really. I was me.

The me I am now and the me I have always been, the me I always will be.

Nothing can take that away.

I have a few profound memories that to this day are poignant life lessons.

One of those memories is of one day in college I was sitting alone in the student activity center/cafeteria planning my own death. 

I had a notebook out. An educational book about U.S. Politics in my hands, not for any class but because even back then I read about politics and government and law and philosophy for pure pleasure. So I bought the textbook for thrills. And reading did bring me some sense of pleasure occasionally, even with the pain and despair of depression. I had an opened pack of Reese cups on the table that I bought at 7/11 because just like now, back then Reese cups were my favorite and I had a bottle of Coca Cola on the table half full. Although back then it was half empty. Just like now, Coca Cola was my favorite then as well and has been since I was a little girl. I have a picture somewhere of me as a three year old girl guzzling up a glass bottle full of my sweet Coca Cola. 

I had my plan all devised and was about to execute it very shortly. I was going to walk out of the University building and up the street and end my life. Then I looked down at the book I was holding. The political book that wasn’t for class but for pure pleasure. An unbiased book about how the political parties in the U.S. came to be, their similarities and their differences, their evolution through the years. I looked at the Reese cups and the soda and my notebook with the pink frilly cover that I picked out for some class because it was pretty. And I was struck with the reality of my uniqueness. My very own personality. My individuality. 

I had interests that not everyone has. Interests that had nothing to do with pain. I was drawn to certain colors and designs not everyone else loves. I became filled with some small sense of compassion for me. I, very briefly, saw myself as someone. An innocent girl I was about to kill, for what, I don’t know. Would I kill some other girl for whatever reason I ached to kill myself for? That answer is always, never.

I was overcome in the clarity of what I was about to do to myself. I thought it would be nothing because I was nothing.

Through the pain I saw glimpses of me. The real me. This experience was very brief and I soon went back to wanting to kill myself but I was and still am able to use the memory of this mini awakening as a reminder now and again that no matter what, no matter what pain or problems occur, I am me. The pain is not me, I am not the pain. Problems are not me and are not even extensions of myself. If I look hard enough I will catch glimpses of myself in everything I do even when pain is consuming me. All of these things I saw that day were evidence that someone exists beneath the layers and layers of pain. Someone. Someone who is more than just pain. 
Someone. Me.

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(me fourteen years old, another happy day, in the Fall. I was laughing with my sister in the backseat, she was four years old and took all her clothes off!)

I have a strong ongoing sense of self. My identity is crystal clear to me. And I take pleasure in my own company whether I’m alone or surrounded by people.

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(me eleven years old, at Wildwood New Jersey, very happy, on vacation with family)

Not all people with depression have dark, gloomy personalities. It’s a mood disorder, nothing to do with personality. Not all depressed people are always negative and too serious and want to live in the dark, alone. Not all depressed people loathe everyone and the world.  I’m just the opposite. I’m very easily amused, playful, curious, I laugh a lot even when I’m depressed, I listen to music and love everyone even when I’m deeply depressed. Sometimes I feel that the depression violates my personality. My cheerful, pleasant personality. Even when I’m deeply depressed, if I pay close attention, I can catch glimpses of the true me underneath, the natural personality of mine. Even now if I skim through journals I used to frequently write in when I was deeply depressed and on the brink of killing myself, every single day, I see my true self through the pain laden words.
Even back then in the midst of suicidal pain and psychosis, I expressed gratitude for things I loved, I can see my sense of amusement, the laughter, the inspiration I felt in me even back then in my seemingly endless struggle, the things that interested me, issues I was passionate about.
It wasn’t always as deep and not ingrained like it is now but it was there. 

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(me, ten years old)

Never forget who you are. 

Even when it feels like your whole self is being consumed, swallowed up in pain of any kind, stress, being busy, taking care of others, working, depression, anxiety, grief, other people’s definition or ideas of you, or whatever it may be, remember you are still you, a unique individual person with a combination of interests, pleasures, thoughts, desires, ideas, experiences, points of views, and ways about you that no one else on Earth, no one who has ever lived or will ever live, has. You can define yourself. Pain itself doesn’t define you but the strength and courage and Truth you know in the face of it can. What other people say or think doesn’t define you.

“Her work, I really think her work
is finding what her real work is
and doing it,
Her work, her own work,
her being human,
her being in the world.” ~ Ursula K. Le Guin

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(me – that’s pure, raw, joy showing on my face!!) 😀

“You need to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly posses all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality.” ~ Florida Scott-Maxwell

My reality is that I am not a victim. Not a victim of any sort. I have and have always had choices. I have the ability to change for the better, to try new things, to love and live and learn. I am alive.

And I know the woman I am.

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 I love Coca Cola and drink it way too much.
Still have that love for sweet treats.
Oldies music is still my love.
I still read educational texts for sheer joy.
I have these same big blue eyes that see beauty, compassion, and love everywhere they look.

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(me, two years old)

I have long brown hair
I have a desire to help and make things better.
I still laugh until it hurts every single day.
Root beer flavor and ginger ale soda are things I dislike.
Watching TV is not my cup of tea.
I don’t really like butterscotch flavor.
I still have a strange obsession with letters.
My dreams are still something I recall very easily.
I love stationary stuff, pens, notebooks, markers….
Love songs and country music still have my heart.
My heart is a grateful, loving one.
I love people and animals.
I still have chicken legs

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(me now, lol)

I have felt an intense craving. A hunger, a desire for Self. For myself. To look within, to explore, to Know. To know my Truth and to Nurture it, cradle it, to piece together all of the broken little pieces of me and make me whole. I have been starved. famished. Starved for Self. for self-love, self-knowledge. I paid too much attention to the pain, to problems, to everything outside of myself. I neglected the inner-me. I let me starve.

I am not without scars and flaws and cracks and breaks. But I am more beautiful for them, more Whole.

As the Hassidic saying goes, “There is nothing more whole than my broken heart.”

I encourage you to make a list of the things that make you, you. The things you like and dislike, things you love and loathe, things that make you laugh, cry, smile, inspire you, lessons you learned, profound memories your brain created through the years, your strengths and weaknesses. They can be new things about you or the same old things or a mixture of both.  Look for the evidence surrounding you and within you that you are someone separate than your pain and problems. You are worthy of your own love & compassion. Nourish the self you see, feel, know underneath. Listen to those glimpses of self calling to you. Nurture them, pay attention to them. 
Strengthen them. Take part of each of your days, no matter how brief, to focus on you. Do something for yourself. Walk, run, meditate, write, draw, paint, create an art journal, read something just for fun, something that inspires and speaks to you, the authentic you, listen to music, just lay in your bed and reflect….do something for you. And you only. You can live generally selflessly, helping everyone else but sometimes it’s good to do stuff for you to be in tune with yourself even more, to connect with you.

“Direct your eye right inward, and you’ll find a thousand regions in your mind yet undiscovered. Travel them and be expert in home-cosmography.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

No matter how many painful memories you have, you can create new, beautiful, joyous, happy memories, even in the midst of pain, insecurities, stress, anxiety, grief. There’s always something to be happy about and thankful for. I learned that lesson in my quest for healing and I hope you learn it too if you are struggling. Our experiences with anguish and pain and despair and broken hearts can teach us if we allow them to. Teach us greater compassion for ourselves and others. They can strengthen us, help us know ourselves deeper than ever, deepen our empathy and wisdom, help us evolve in ways we would not have without the pain.

“It’s when we’re given choice that we sit with the gods and design ourselves.” ~ Dorothy Gilman

Xoxo Kim

“They can change their minds but they can’t change me. I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream. Oh, I know I could share it if you want me to.      If you’re going my way, I’ll go with you.” ~ Jim Croce

” The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi

On being humble

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“When we embody love, we are the most powerful being in the universe.” ~ Emmanuel

I wasn’t always as developed as I am now. While I have always been empathetic, compassionate, loving, and understanding of others, not all of those qualities of mine were always as deep or as vast as they are today. I used to be more judgmental than I am now, sometimes criticizing people or things without thinking it completely through if it’s really necessary, sometimes overlooking the fact that I also do things that can, maybe even “should” be, judged critically.

“The praise that comes from love does not make us vain, but more humble.”
 ~James Matthew Barrie

I think for most of us, we evolve the longer we live, the more we experience even if we don’t realize we’re evolving. And when we do realize we are becoming wiser, more educated, more aware,  it’s possible to let it run away with us, let ourselves become a little bit too stuck up or arrogant, too proud, let our heads get too big.

Sometimes I feel so enlightened in some respects. I see things so much more clearly than I did before. I see how wrong I was in some ways about some things. And there have been occasions when I caught myself becoming too full of myself, arrogant, judgmental when I would have an encounter with someone who I perceived as not to be as “enlightened” or aware as I am.
Someone who still holds opinions that are not very evolved or opinions I disagree with or someone who handles those opinions in ways I don’t appreciate or wouldn’t do myself.

Like when I would meet someone who did not realize things or know things that I now know or realize.  And I would criticize the person for it, totally neglecting to realize that at one point I did not realize this or something else, either and that right now at this very moment there are things I don’t know or understand, that I am so less developed than I will be in years to come, with age and much more experience. I’m not the most enlightened being on Earth and likely never will be.  And that’s ok.

It reminds me of when I would take certain Logic and critical thinking classes in college. In the beginning of one class, our professor told us that in a few weeks we would already know so much more than the average person about reasoning, arguing, debating. He said we would begin to see all the flaws in people’s reasoning in everyday life. People around us, people on TV, commercials, everywhere. He said him, as a Logician with extremely advanced reasoning skills and nearly flawless logic, couldn’t turn off his ability to instantly detect flaws in reasoning even when he would be out with friends having a simple or trivial conversation, watching TV whether it was comedy movies or political or religious debates, reading, everywhere. His knowledge of Logic, fallacies, arguments…is so superior he can’t help but just see how everyone else’s logic is just so flawed. He often had to resist the urge to correct everyone everywhere. 

I had a few philosophy professors who told us, although probably mostly in jest, that we may soon regret taking the class because all of  a sudden everyone around us becomes so “stupid,” unenlightened, or unreasonable that it’s nauseating. Lol 

They said we may become arrogant, inpatient, intolerant of everyone who has never taken a logic or critical thinking class. And it was true. I did start to detect flaws in people’s reasoning everywhere I would go, even in simple, everyday conversations. I noticed how fallacious so many arguments really are. Sometimes it was so frustrating to know so much more than the average person about certain things.

And years later when I began to actively practice and meditate upon universal compassion and general tolerance more than ever before and realized it’s the best way for me to be, I started to sometimes catch myself judging others who weren’t that way.

Sometimes I would give myself a pat on the back for being “just so much more evolved” than most people I know or come in contact with.

When someone would get worked up during an argument, sling an explicit insult at an opponent, argue in flawed ways like I used to do, I would be critical of those people, praising myself for being “beyond that.”

Now I quickly correct myself if ever I catch myself doing that. I’m usually patient in the face of other people’s impatience, gentle with other people’s aggression, non judgmental of someone else’s judgments, tolerant of other people’s intolerance and accepting of someone else’s lack of acceptance. I understand that not everyone will be understanding and I have more compassion than I used to, for those who lack compassion. 

Constructive criticism is often a good thing but it can be delivered in a humble way. Assertiveness is necessary in some cases, firmness and unwavering confidence and strength in the face of some injustice.

Love & compassion & acceptance that I write or speak of, in no way means backing down and not speaking up. It doesn’t mean letting people get away with things they should not get away with. It simply means knowing bad things happen, injustice exists in the world, people have differing and horrible opinions and do horrible things but we don’t have to sink to the level of getting even, wishing horrific things on people as punishments, slinging insults and hurting others to seek retribution.

It’s possible to be firm, assertive, grounded, loud, opinionated but loving. 

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It’s important to stand up for whatever our Truth is, to advocate for what we believe in, speak out against injustice, abuse, cruelty in any form, to defend those who need us, speak up for those who need supporters…but we can do this while promoting love instead of bashing those who disagree. “Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.”

It’s not always easy but I believe it’s worth the struggle.

I’m very into Buddhism which teaches universal love and compassion. I’m not a Buddhist but I read about it everyday and practice many of their principles. There are more things I don’t know and understand about Buddhism than things I do know and understand. But I learn more and more each day.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to incorporate many of their virtues into your own life.
And it’s compatible with religions including Christianity, Judaism, and others. Some people disagree or don’t realize. But Buddhists don’t necessarily believe in any specific god and their principles can go along with the principles of various religions.

You can think of Buddhism as a philosophy or as a religion.

Monastic Buddhists are seriously dedicated, hardcore Buddhists who follow everything in the Lamrim, every principle in excruciating detail and lay Buddhists are looser in their views or lifestyles. They take Buddhism seriously but don’t necessarily follow every principle of Buddhism.

One of the things I love completely about genuine Buddhism and true Buddhists or pro Buddhists is that they teach and promote certain principles and ways of life but they do not enforce them or judge those who do not adopt those views, attitudes, and ways. They teach, guide, advocate for but fully accept that others will not and they embrace those people anyway. This way they remain peaceful within and allow others to be what they will.

I think sometimes when some of us become enlightened on something or think we have and realize we were wrong or utterly ignorant or clueless previously, it can instill embarrassment into us, embarrassment that we did not know or realize this all along, it’s now so obvious, how wasn’t it always this blatant? And the humiliation is so strong we want to avoid it, repress, deny it and run fast away instead of facing it. So what do we do in this case? What makes it easier to avoid confronting ourselves on how wrong or clueless we were before? What’s often easier than admitting I was wrong? Judging, criticizing others who are in the place I used to be in, those who know less about something I now know more about, those with an opinion I once shared but now converted to a “better” one. It’s easier than confessing that I was wrong before and now realize or have become enlightened or changed. It’s easier to verbally attack the me I see in someone else than the real me, my own flesh and blood.

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I believe it’s important to stay humble no matter how much more I think I know. Or how right I think I am.

There will always be those who know more than me and those who know less. Those who are more primitive and those more evolved, people who are cruel and seem stupid and those whose intelligence is way out of the average person’s league, people with extreme compassion and deep understanding of others and ones who couldn’t care less to try to understand, open minded and narrow minded, educated and uneducated, enlightened and still in the dark….and to me, they all deserve compassion, empathy, and to be embraced in universal love even if they don’t display that same love or care to be embraced in it. I can still wish them the best and let them go their own way while going my way. That is true, pure, selfless love. At some point I have been and will be again, many of those things I mentioned above. 

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~Hug the hurt
Kiss the broken
Befriend the lost
Love the lonely~ 

I believe in Universal Love, higher love, all encompassing love and compassion, being One with all that is. 
Not everyone will agree and that’s ok.

The Beauty that Stalks the Darkness

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“Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.” 

I saw this quote today, attributed to Buddha. What a gem! It’s so true! This is a habit that can be developed. It may not always come so easily but it can be developed and ingrained deep into our brains. Every experience, pleasant, unpleasant, neural, trivial seeming, fun and light, can teach us something! There’s a little spark hidden somewhere in each of our experiences, that can be ignited to enlighten us, teach us a lesson, strength, wisdom, greater empathy and understanding for others, and inspire us.

There is potential for some kind of growth in every occasion.

Maybe you’ll learn who you want to be or don’t want to be, how strong you really are, ways to teach or help others….maybe you’ll learn something you can’t really put into words, just a feeling of deep knowing, true enlightenment. The lessons and wisdom and things we learn and come to know won’t be the same for all of us. Only you can really know what your experiences are capable of teaching you and how receptive or in tune you can be to the messages. Some people can help guide you along the way but it’s ultimately up to you to pay close attention.

It’s helpful, while experiencing an unpleasant or difficult situation of any sort, or even a pleasant, positive one, to stop in the midst of it and think “What is this teaching me? What skills or wisdom or knowledge am I being equipped with by experiencing this?” It may not come to you right away, maybe not even until the situation is long over. But it’s great to ask yourself those questions. It will get your brain in gear and directed at finding answers.

Sometimes your only lesson may just be developing deeper compassion to help others later in a similar situation or inspiring others by sharing what you have come to know. And that’s beautiful! 

Your situation can even just be reading a book or a poem or mindfully listening to a song. It can be wildly entertaining and fun but underneath there’s always some beautiful lesson to be learned.

I think this is what it means to “live life to the fullest.” You know that old cliche, right?! 

When I think of that I often think of people skydiving, partying it up, traveling the world, bungee jumping and shit but “living life to the fullest” is another thing that’s different for each person. To some people that stuff is boring and “living life to the fullest” is sitting on a sofa every night watching funny TV shows. And that’s great too as long as you’re getting the most out of your own life and not interfering with others.

To me, living to the fullest, is being in tune with the life all around me, living in the moment, seeing what it’s teaching me, savoring the splendor I am blessed to experience. 

It’s truly being alive and active “listening” to life, not just mindlessly floating through each day.  

Everyday I keep myself in tune to the wisdom all around and within me, I try to learn as much as I can and I meditate upon it and write about it and share with anyone who wants to know about it! I find wisdom and beauty in books, poetry, songs, blogs, essays, and everywhere. 

Xoxo Kim

P.s. I found love today in my backyard with my dogs:

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;-D

Beauty, Acceptance, Diversity, Awakening

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❤ I was blind but now I see. ❤

“Always be a little kinder than necessary. ” ~ J. M. Barrie
I am really loving how compassionate, accepting, tolerant, open-minded and loving I have become. I have always been someone who is open-minded and accepting of others, their views, and diversity. I have always been loving and not at all likely to reject a person as a friend because of a difference in perspective, attitude, or view, or because of mistakes or decisions that person made that I disagree with. Even when strongly disagreeing with one another. 

But there are occasions I have been or felt unkind, unfriendly, arrogant, bitter, or timid, or unhappy, meek, or just negative, uncomfortable,  or hostile over differences in opinion on certain topics or how the opinion was presented.  I was never cruel or outright horrible to people over disagreements and I wouldn’t reject a friend or potential friend but on too many occasions I liked that “us and them” or “us vs them” feeling. Now, I can’t even imagine why.   Now, I always want us to all be in this together, working together, no matter what differences we encounter, for a better world, a better life for us all. 

There have been occasions for almost as long as I can remember where I felt that I was lacking in personality because I have this ability to understand both sides of a debate or argument so thoroughly even if I strongly agree with one and not the other.  I can still see how someone else can feel that way. Even when I would argue or debate taking one side, I can still feel for the other. It’s like that with almost every political and philosophical topic I can think of and in personal arguments that I witness, hear of, read, or engage in.

Now I see this as a gift.  As a unique personality trait.  I have been told that I have the priceless gift, the uncanny ability to understand so deeply, and just “know” things about people, to deeply see the heart of the matter, to feel for all sides and angles, to empathize with my opponents and with people and other sentient beings, in general.

And now I’m even more this way. This natural gift is stronger.  And with conscious intention and work, I can develop it even more.

There will always be disagreements.

Some people will be wrong.

Maybe some things will never be resolved but we can choose kindness, love, compassion, and understanding as opposed to cruelty, rejection, unkindness…

Usually, when I would be bitter, it wasn’t even over a disagreement itself but the way people would present their opinion, their attitude, or way of speaking/writing. When someone would have an “in your face,” defensive, rebellious, or negative attitude, I was more ready to be hostile where when someone would be civil, gentle, accepting, I was more ready to be kind and friendly even when strongly disagreeing. 

But someone else’s unkindness or cruelty does not necessarily justify my unkindness or cruelty. No need to perpetuate that.  I prefer to perpetuate love and lavish love and kindness on others.   Sometimes the cruelest and most unkind people may need it the most.

 I have come to realize more and more that it’s ok to have strongly opposing views, it’s still possible to get along well with those who strongly oppose my views, love, compassion, acceptance is more important.  Opposing a view does not mean opposing a person. I can overlook disagreements or even see the beauty in them.

Sometimes I have felt guilty when I would have a certain opinion on a topic and then meet someone I really liked who would have an opposite view.  I felt like I was doing that person wrong.  Like I was offending…hurting..

But other occasions I was at the other end. Feeling arrogant, pompous, full of myself, telling myself I was holding the better view, the “right” view and I was the one offended, the “victim,” the reasonable one.

Now…

I have been seeing beauty in things much more than I used to and in things I never thought I would see beauty in. People who have the courage to speak up and advocate for themselves and their views whether or not I agree with their views, certain kinds of selfishness(the word “selfish” tends to have negative connotations but isn’t always a bad thing), things shattering so better things can fall into place, realizing I was wrong all along and admitting it and evolving into something better.  At one point I was so mortified when an opinion of mine would change or I would realize I was initially wrong, either incorrect or morally wrong. 

I did not want to admit that I held an inaccurate or “wrong” view.   But changing an opinion based on truly realizing that the old opinion in some way is wrong either morally or factually/logically, admitting it, and moving forward is a sign of great strength, growth, and is worthy of admiration.   According to Roman Stoic Philosopher, Gaius Musonius Rufus, we should study Philosophy and it should affect us personally and profoundly and when a philosopher lectures, his words should make those in his audience shudder. They should experience feelings of contrition or rue.  Instead of applauding the philosopher, the audience should be reduced to silence. (source, Epictetus, “Discourses,” III.xxiii.29.)

In awe and embarrassment for not knowing and now coming to know. It’s not a bad thing.

I find myself more and more “liking” comments on places like Facebook even when I disagree with them because I can still see a kind of beauty in them or because I am grateful for being introduced to a new perspective or point of view or because I find it fascinating or it gets me thinking. I don’t have to agree to like or accept it.  Or to like and accept the person who holds that view.

Charlotte Davis Kasl, Ph.D., in her book “Finding Joy,” writes 

“We have a great deal of division in this world that dictates who you are allowed to love at a personal, intimate level. Black-white, Protestant-Catholic, Muslim-Hindu, Jewish -Palestinian are a few of the many divisions people are taught not to cross.
Fortunately, people ‘s deeper level of spirituality allows them to fall in love and in doing so break down these barriers.”
And this :
“Because love and joy are so totally intertwined, bringing joy to the planet means supporting all love between all people on the planet. Part of the consciousness of joy is realizing we are all more alike than different. The desire to belong,be respected, live free of fear, work with dignity and purpose, and find joy are common to all people.   Of course we all have different customs, histories, and traditions, but when we reach deep enough, we will find the commonalities and in doing so find joy.
Every time we cross a barrier, we build a bridge. And as we build bridges on the outside, we heal the division within us. As a result, we all have more territory to walk on, and more people to love, and more peace on the planet. “
 (p. 130-1)

Isn’t this beautiful?! 

And it’s true. It’s not to say we should ignore differences, just accept or cherish them.   Love anyway.   We can acknowledge diversity but accept it, love it, promote it..

liberal-conservative, pro-life-pro-choice, Democrat -Republican, rich -poor, atheist-theist….love anyway. We can debate, argue, disagree and love still.   Love deeper. 

Still respect.
Show some level of understanding.

It’s true, some people are wrong, either morally, factually, logically…but we can still love.  Platonic or romantic love.  Still accept.  Still cherish. Still embrace.

It won’t always be easy. But it’s possible.
I won’t project my standards or morals onto others assuming that because they act differently than I would have in a certain situation, that they must be less loving, caring, compassionate…than I am.

They can be just as loving and caring as I am. We all have convictions and reasons for making certain choices, coming to certain conclusions, having certain views.  No person is better than another. I believe people in general are basically good, with good intentions, some more good than others.

Also, we don’t have to like everyone or want to be around everyone or be friends with everyone we meet.   That’s unrealistic and not necessary.  But when we do meet someone we really like or love, a potential friend or lover, or we must be around certain people, we don’t have to not like them or abandon or reject them based on distasteful differences.   If I love/like you, and then find out you strongly oppose my views or you did something horrible, made mistakes or that you feel I have made horrible mistakes…you will still hold my heart.

There are things about me people don’t or won’t like also.   And who am I to negatively/hostilely judge?   Some people have lousy attitudes, discriminatory views and are just detrimental to be around and it’s ok to avoid them but we don’t have to avoid or lash out at every person who we disagree with.

I have been seeing opinions I once would have been absolutely appalled by, maybe even ready to lash out, and sink to insults or a vitriolic attitude or tone and even now start to feel a sense of distress but it often quickly melts to compassion, mellows out to understanding that that person who holds that view is not me and has a reason, has experiences, ways of thinking for holding those views just as I do for having other views.  That’s a person first.  A person who is no less than I am.

I can understand to a certain extent even if I cannot possibly know how someone else feels. I never claim to exactly know, just deeply understand as much as I possibly can for someone who is not that person and has not experienced what that person has.

Some opinions seem to really suck and are offensive but I can break through.  I am so enlightened now in ways I haven’t been previously, in some ways that can’t even be explained, only felt.

And there’s room for growth and always will be. No matter how enlightened and “whole” I am or become, there will always, always be room and opportunities for further evolution of the self as long as I’m living. And I now see the beauty in that fact. There was a day when I wanted to be whole and fully enlightened and know all there is to know, experience all there is to experience, and be perfect and felt incomplete and seriously unhappy about it but now I see beauty in incompleteness, in the unknown, in all that is to come.

Where some people see mistakes or flaws, where I once saw mistakes, flaws, wrongs…I see creativity, deftness, beauty, strength, opportunities for growth, for progress.

Yes, I am humbled.  And I bask in this humility.

Much love to you.

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” ~

Benjamin Franklin

Xoxo Kim

Until It Is Carved in Stone

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(second photo not mine)

Hello darlings, I’m here to knock your socks off this lovely morning.   It’s just after 12:00am. Yup! ;-D

Have you ever read a play called “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder?  I have and it’s amazing. It’s beyond amazing. It was produced and published in 1938. It won the Pulitzer Prize.
It takes place in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s.

I first read it when I was twenty – six years old. And whoa am I so beyond pleased that I did. Thank You to Sarah Ban Breathnach for mentioning this play in her book “Simple Abundance”!!!! Sarah Ban Breathnach is another one who has one of the biggest impacts on me with her beautiful writing.

The play is about a young woman, Emily, who dies during childbirth. She’s twenty -six years old.  It starts out when she’s a young girl and it’s all about her and her family and friends and all the people in their small village of Grover’s Corners.  It’s so small everyone knows each other.

The girl dies at age twenty – six years and she “wakes up” in the afterlife where she meets again, all those who she has known during their living years.  The girl, Emily, is freaked out, grieving, and just devastated that she lost her life and can never again have it back.   She was always a happy girl with a wonderful life while she was alive, but just like most of us tend to do, she usually took most things for granted. Never stopping to just be and allow gratitude, wonder, and awe to surge through her at all the simple joys like the white fence surrounding her house, coffee, flowers, the way people look at each other, the simple ticking of clocks and folded laundry…

Other than people dying throughout the play, the play is extremely uneventful and has received criticism for that fact but the very essence of being uneventful is the whole point of the play. It is the heart, the gut of it, if you will.

Mr. Wilder intended to show people through his wonderful play, how beautiful, wondrous, amazing, lovely… life IS even when it’s so simple, monotonous, agonizing,  and lacking in big events.
While this may seem like a play depicting an idealized view of American life, it actually is not.   The message is that life is good while being painful, it’s heartbreaking but breathtakingly beautiful.  

One character in the play, Simon Stimson, is a pivot of this message. He struggles with alcoholism and is known as the town drunk but he serves as a message to people . He is a tortured soul who constantly cries out for help but people refuse to help. They are steeped in denial and overlook his desperate pleads for help.  He eventually dies by suicide. The message here is that society, friends, family, people….we ignore, deny, repress, overlook so much of life. Even when one of our own is desperately pleading, screaming out for a helping hand.

   In the version I have, there is a beautiful forward by Donald Margulies.  

Donald Margulies states, “You are holding in your hands a great American play. Possibly the great American play.”
He goes on to say if you have read this play many years ago, perhaps in school as a requirement for some class, you will greatly benefit by reading it again.  But now, read it more mindfully, soak up the incredible message this play conveys.  Draw on your own life, your own experiences to really receive the deep wisdom of this play.

Donald Margulies admits that he is envious of any person about to begin reading this play who has never read it previously. He loves this play passionately but reading it again isn’t the same as reading it for the first occasion, he says.   But he is a teacher/professor and gets to watch others experience again and again which he loves.  

The title of this play “Our Town,” itself, is a pivotal message. The town in the play, “Grover’s Corners” is a representation of human life everywhere.   It can be extended to all of American life and beyond, all around our world.  We are all human and we all share basic human traits no matter our culture, country, society, nationality, religion, skin color, sexual orientation, political views, experiences, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, opinions…

“Our Town”, as Margulies states, is a “microcosm of the human family…”. It is all towns.  Everywhere.  This play captures the universal experience of simply being alive.

Act III of this play is breathtaking. Mr. Margulies states that he was shattered by it and that is how I feel as well.  Shattered then put back together once again but not without a few scars, a few breaks, a deep enthralling sense of enlightenment and compunction.

You know someone is a good teacher when that person can slap you with a truth so profound it brings you to a sense of ruin, leaves you with a sense of pudency, remorse for old ways, living and never knowing.   But it’s good to have someone or something break you down to the bone, pierce you to the core, punch you in the gut , knocking the wind out of you,   shatter you just to build you back up with a new sense of life, a new philosophy, a newfound strength, rebirth. 

Let it rip your heart out, shatter it to pieces, almost beyond recognition then let it glue it back together and move you forward with some scars to remind you to be mindful of the wonders of being alive.   The wonders we ignore, overlook, and slap in the face day by day.

Now I will leave you with some poignant quotes or lines out of this play.

In the play when the stage manager is interviewing one of the main characters, Mr. Webb, about their town, Mr. Webb says this:

Very ordinary town, if you ask me.  Little better behaved than most. Probably a lot duller. But our young people here seem to like it well enough. Ninety percent of ’em graduating from high school settle down right here to live-even when they’ve been away to college.”

Mr Webb: “…No ma’am, there isn’t much culture; but maybe this is the place to tell you that we’ve got a lot of pleasures of a kind here: We like the sun comin’ up over the mountain in the morning, and we all notice a good deal about the birds. We pay a lot of attention to them.    And we watch the change of the seasons; yes, everybody knows about them. But those other things – you’re right ma’am, – there ain’t much….”

When Emily died and found herself in the afterlife she insisted on looking back at her previous life.  The other dead people strongly advised against it as it would be too agonizing and despairing to see a life we once lived and can never , ever return to , but sweet, innocent Emily just had to see for herself.   They urged her to choose an “unimportant” day as opposed to one she viewed as very important.  One dead woman told her to choose the “least important” day of her life as it would be “important enough.”  And it would still be incredibly painful.

Emily chose her 12th birthday.

Here are some things she said as she looked back, as if watching a movie.

Emily: “Oh, that’s the town I knew as a little girl. And look, there’s the old white fence that used to be around our house. Oh, I’d forgotten that! Oh, I love it so!…”

Emily:(softly, more in wonder than in grief.)  “I can’t bear it. They’re so young and beautiful. Why did they ever have to get old?  Mama, I’m here. I’m grown up. I love you all, everything. – I can’t look at everything hard enough.”

Emily: “Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me.  Mama, fourteen years have gone by. I’m dead. You’re a grandmother, Mama. I married George Gibbs, Mama. Wally’s dead too.  Mama, his appendix burst on a camping trip to North Conway.  We felt terrible about it – don’t you remember?  But, just for a moment now we’re all together. Mama, just for one moment we’re happy.  Let’s look at one another. “

When asked if she was happy looking back, Emily responded, “No…I should have listened to you.  That’s all human beings are!   Just blind people!”

Here is what Simon, the suicide victim says after death to Emily:
Yes, now you know.  Now you know!  That’s what it was to be alive.  To move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those…of those about you.   To spend and waste time as though you had a million years.   To be always at the mercy of one self – centered passion, or another.  Now you know- that’s the happy existence you wanted to go back to.   Ignorance and blindness. 

Emily:
Good-bye , Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners….Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking….and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths….and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth,you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you.  Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every,every minute?
Stage Manager: No. (pause) The saints and poets, maybe they do some.”

Think back to days in your life, maybe a birthday, a holiday, a special event, a graduation, a wedding….what was important to you then?  The perfect napkin patterns?   The perfect gift?  Being a perfect entertainer? Spending a certain amount of money?  Looking good?  Getting gifts?

What was really, truly important?  Napkin patterns and “perfect” gifts?  Or looking into each other’s eyes.  Really looking. Hugs.  Warm embraces.   Really tasting that hot tea or coffee. Looking up at the sky and feeling awe surge through you.  Genuine friendships. Tucking your kids into bed.   Really listening as we speak to each other.  Stopping to see the flowers, to feel the sunlight, to hear the cars on the expressway, the birds chirping, to feel the warm blankets at night.  Cuddling with your fur friends.   To smell the honeysuckle and the roses and the warm cookies baking, to feel the rain on our skin , the soil beneath us.

Think of any “ordinary” day. What about clocks ticking?  What about the refrigerator buzzing?   What about the cars parked on your street? What about the concrete beneath your feet? What about the feel of air on your skin? What about the walls in your house? The ones you look at every single day. Do you ever stop to notice them?   Or are they so mundane you don’t give them a second thought?   What about when you’re making your coffee or tea? The sugar and cream going into it?  Look at that. Really.   Just look.   When you brush your teeth, get a shower, wash your hands, inhabit your body and your life.  What if you died but were allowed, for a few minutes to look back on this life, wouldn’t you miss all this?  Miss it ALL with a passion so potent it can knock the stars and the sun into oblivion?

It’s not just the big things, the holidays, the birthdays, the weddings, babies, and graduations.  It’s not just the pretty things, the sky, flowers, sun, butterflies and birds.   It’s everything.   All of life. The cars screeching in the streets, getting out of bed. Walking, driving to work, standing in lines, paying bills, stress. Wouldn’t you miss all that?  
What if your life changes dramatically?   What if someone dies on you?   What if you are stricken with a long term illness or chronic pain disorder?   What if a close family member or friend, a pet becomes terminally ill?   What if you become paralyzed tomorrow or something else drastic happens and your life doesn’t look like this anymore?  Oh, how you would long for the mundane, your old monotonous ways, your old stress and concerns.

It’s too late for them, but not for us. We are still alive.   Still so blessed with this gift. THIS life.

And now with this awareness.

We can wake up and do all the things alive people can do. You can die at any second whether or not you realize or believe it.  

Isn’t Thornton brilliant?  Isn’t he still touching people long after his own death with this wonderful play? His beautiful, profound message?

You can die right now.

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So what are you waiting for? Stop reading this and go make eye contact.  Go smile at a stranger.   Go embrace someone.  Go look up at the sky.   Hold hands.  Sit in a warm, cozy cafe with a friend and truly listen.  Go listen to people. Listen to what they say. Listen to what they don’t say. Take advantage of your senses, of being alive, Share a banana split with your mom, sister, or best friend, hold a door for someone and really want to, buy someone coffee or tea, And if you plan on getting married, forget about the napkins if they don’t turn out right, if you plan on celebrating the holidays, forget the “perfect ” material gift.  The true gift is your presence and your love and care.
I am a blessed girl. Truly.

Now.

Xoxo Kim.

P.s. And oh, yes, go read “Our Town” please. Ty

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day, I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.” ~ Mary Jean Irion 

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“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day.” ~ Alexander Woollcott

“Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.” – Rosalind Russell

“So the sidewalk is crowded, the city goes by
And I rush through another day
And a world full of strangers turn their eyes to me
But I just look the other way

They roll by just like water
And I guess we never learn
Go through life parched and empty
Standing knee deep in a river and dying of thirst” ~ Joe Cocker (and other singers)

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” Oh the wild joys of living! The leaping from rock to rock … the cool silver shock of the plunge in a pool’s living waters.” ~ Robert Browning