Tag Archive | learning

Summer Breeze <3

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(today is April 13th, not 14th but WordPress insists on making it a day later when it’s late and I post something and it takes a lot of work on my phone to change it so I’m not today)

“I am here to serve. I am here to inspire. I am here to love. I am here to live my truth.” ~ Deepak Chopra
 
“Sweet days of summer
the jasmine’s in bloom
July is dressed up
and playing her tune
And I come home
from a hard day’s work
and you’re waiting there
not a care in the world” ~ Seals & Croft 

I woke up with this song on my mind today, I love the feel of it. Today is very warm, almost feeling like Summer! How pleasant! A soft, gentle feeling, Summer’s song is in the air.

What a light and lovely song with a simple message. Just lay back, appreciate and be mindful of the beauty all around, and let go of all our concerns for a while. Soak up the gentle air and sweet scents of the warm weather. It’s a soothing message, a sweet caress to the soul. 

Spring hours started back up at work so I’m going to be working a lot more. I work at a store and we sell candy & ice cream & water ice. We stay open all Winter but have much less hours. Each shift, only one of us works so it can get very hectic in Spring & Summer. We make ice cream sundaes, milkshakes, lemon splashes, pizza pretzels, banana splits…. 

Sometimes there’s like twenty people at the window. It’s window service so they don’t come inside. Then we have lots of cleaning and stocking to do, which is one of the more stressful things because it can take a while after we close and only one of us is working.  And on top of that people try to come after we already are closed and keep wanting stuff. The other girls have no problem turning people away but I feel so sorry saying no we’re closed. I want them to have what they want but it doesn’t stop at just one or two late night stragglers, more people see them being served then they come and expect things as well. Some nights I stayed open over a half hour after closing. But it has to end somewhere so last year I mustered up the strength to start saying no. Sometimes I still give in but mostly I am good with saying no.

I feel sorry for them and I can see the disappointment but we have a closing hour and also my dad and sister come to pick me up after work and expect me to be done when I’m supposed to and often had to wait very long which my dad can’t stand. 

Sometimes we have to draw the line and say no even when it hurts. 

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It definitely gets to be distressing at some points but I absolutely LOVE this job. I worked here for nearly a decade and always plan on having another, more “real” or “professional” job like in an office, or hospital, or as a legal assistant…but I always said I would still love to work as a server in a store/restaurant for one or two days a week because nothing can take the place of the feeling of serving people, encountering many different kinds of people, most of them happy to be here, seeing the joy in their eyes when I place the sundaes on the counter, hearing their various stories. I love the happy families who come with little kids. 

Having a cashier/server job brings a kind of joy that no other job can. Other jobs can certainly be just as joyful but this is a certain kind that has to do with seeing so many different kinds of people in a happy setting. It’s very rewarding. Not always happy, not everyone is friendly, some are definitely rude and some are kind of creepy, trying to hook up with me by saying weird sexual things (sometimes I have to call/go to the bar across the street and get some big strong men to come over and help me out, lol ;-D) . But even they deserve compassion and those situations teach me about remaining positive and compassionate in unpleasant situations. 

I never viewed this as a life draining or “dead-end” job like some people feel about sever/cashier jobs. It’s true it’s not for everyone and it’s not the most important job someone can have but it’s important to each customer in the moment that person is there. It’s important to be attentive to the person’s desires. I learned so much in my years here. I learned about multitasking, being attentive to the needs of others, patience, keeping calm and staying pleasant even in the face of difficult people and working under pressure, remaining calm in crisis situations like something breaking (cash register, freezers…) when theres lines of people into the streets, and so much more. What great life lessons! And those lessons can be applied to life in general. 

It kind of feels like I’m writing a cover letter or resume here. Lol ;-D

I always wanted a job helping others. I had a specific idea of what “helping” means. What I had in mind is a counseling or psychiatric technician job, talking to people, helping them in a clinic or hospital setting. I still would love to have that sort of job! But I’m more open-minded now and I realize that all jobs are helping someone in different ways. Even something as simple as filing papers all day, alone, is helping. We need people who file papers in offices and other places. But I always wanted a job working closely with people and I still do.

But no matter what job we have, no matter how seemingly trivial, there are opportunities throughout each day to help someone, even in the most simplest encounters. Just a friendly smile or uplifting tone of voice, expressing true concern for their needs…

And even if we have no job, each moment there’s an opportunity to help someone, somewhere.

I am reminded of this quote:

“Your job is not to judge. Your job is not to figure out if someone deserves something. Your job is to lift the fallen, to restore the broken, and to heal the hurting.” ~
Joel Osteen

I don’t like telling people what their job is or whatever and it’s not my place to but I love the beautiful sentiment of this quote. This is exactly how I want to live. But I don’t want to tell people they “should” live this way. It’s up to us to choose for our own selves. Encouraging people is good, telling them how to live is not. 

And on another note…

I have much Spring cleaning to do for my room! I’m the biggest slob! I have books, clothes, even empty soda cans tossed all over in like every corner of the room, on my dresser, my chair, everywhere. Lol My sister says my room is disgusting like a seventeen year old boy’s room. Lol it’s true I do tend to leave food, like pizza, on my dresser now and then. And am very disorganized. 

So that’s my goal for now, it’s not going to be fun! Lol But necessary.

I bought pretty candles at CVS not only on sale but I had a coupon to get even more money off and for two candles it only cost like three dollars! It would have been like twenty something for two. Of course they are tropical scented! My favorite! So after I get my disgusting bedroom in order, I will set them out on my dresser to look and smell pretty! I plan on getting the coral scented one soon! 

My other goal is to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier and go out to take pictures all over the city! I take lots and lots of pics each day but often it’s when I’m already going out somewhere. I want to make it a point to go for walks and take pics. I love walking and walk everywhere I can. And I take pictures almost as much as I breathe. 

Ok, not really but I think it gets the point across. Pictures are my passion. And I’m learning so much about composition and taking beautiful pictures with an iPhone. I think I’m the only one left on Earth with a blackberry phone and the only one on Earth without an iPhone so I don’t really see any blackberry photo tips. So I read stuff about Iphones a lot and some can apply to my phone.
Many of us are under the impression that we need a big expensive camera and equipment to take gorgeous pictures! And I do hope to get a camera like that one day!

But smartphones can take amazing pics! It’s all about creativity, learning skills, concepts, and determination more than the kind of camera. Someone can take an amazing smartphone pic while someone else can take a very shitty or uninteresting picture with a big extravagant camera. It’s more about skills than the device.

Not only am I a slob, I’m a bum who sleeps too much, too late into the afternoon. It’s very unattractive but I’m planning to fix that. And getting up early to go out and take pics is my motivation! 

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So I love how this song somehow made its way into my head today even though I can’t even remember when I last heard it! And it reminded me of all these thoughts and lessons! So inspiring. 

I hope you’re having a lovely day and cherishing the weather, whatever it may be, wherever you are! Remember there’s something beautiful in every season! 

I’m at work now and when I’m not serving people I’m trying to write this. I can’t really take the time to edit it much so if it’s full of spelling, grammar, punctuation mistakes, that’s why! Lol 

I’m wishing you much love, joy, and happiness today and always!  

Check out “Summer Breeze” here!:

Mobile:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KdWobrZUyMA

Desktop:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&persist_app=1&v=KdWobrZUyMA

Xoxo Kim

Wherever you go, go with all your heart <3

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“She’s got a light around her
And ev’rywhere she goes
A million dreams of love surround her ev’rywhere” ~ Billy Joel

On Saturday I attended a three hour workshop at the Buddhist center I go to and we made Buddhist malas! I’m going to write about those in another post. The workshop inspired me in so many ways. 

Mala beads are beads on a string (similar to Catholic rosaries and ones found in other religions). They are used for recitation of positive mantras to calm or quiet the mind and just to get us in the habit of positive thinking/feeling and stillness. 

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“Let the beauty we love be what we do.” ~ Rumi ❤

 😀

One of the things that struck me and is the inspiration for this post is the instructor’s passion, wonder, and love for the topic of her teachings.

I met her before, her name is Eve, she’s a Buddhist. A lay Buddhist teacher/student. She’s very loving and friendly and funny too, and a musician! 

Her love for her work or the way she conveys her love, to me, seems very rare. It’s like at every second she’s conscious of it.  It reminds me of a professor I had in college, Dr. Ward. All of my professors/instructors, that I remember in college, showed interest, many even passion and love, for the work they were teaching and studying. That’s very likely why they were teaching and studying it. They have some sort of interest in or passion for it. Love and passion for work isn’t rare; there are many people who are absolutely in love with what they do. And unfortunately there are too many people who feel that their work is life draining and like it’s just a dead end job. 

But Dr. Ward, a neuroscientist and my professor for some class about the brain, expressed her passion and love in a different way than I have ever seen before. It actually wasn’t even “expression” necessarily, what I remember is her BEING. Light. Her whole state of existence in the class was love for her subject.

 It’s difficult to explain in words. And what I remember is a quiet but fierce kind of love for her work and the topic of Neuroscience. I would see her warmly smiling to herself often as she was writing on the chalkboard and just her movements displayed a kind of awe of her work and the topic. 
Sometimes she would even shake her head and chuckle in wonder even over the bland-est of details and tasks.
A topic she was teaching over and over, studying year after year after year. It never got old. 

I sensed that she loved/loves not just what she was teaching and studying but the very process of teaching and studying it, every word she wrote on the chalkboard, she wrote carefully, as if mindfully loving the process itself, not merely writing to get to the end, out of an obligation to teach us, or to get out of class as soon as possible. Not even like she was so into what she was doing, like some people can get writing quickly and passionately, she would write and teach as if she was mindfully taking in every moment and loving it.  
 She was cherishing everything involved.   It is beyond just passion. It’s like complete adoration. 

Almost the way a mother feels for her child. Have you ever seen a mom gently stroke her child’s hair or cheek and warmly smile? It’s a passionate, fierce kind of love but also very gentle. And everyone witnessing can feel that love just oozing into the breath of the world around. Or have you ever seen a photo of people, family, a parent/child, lovers, best friends, people and their pets and the photo captures love so well, it just IS love?  The people/animals in the photos just ARE love…

In Dr. Ward’s class, I often felt that the topic of Neuroscience itself was almost something tangible to be gently and lovingly stroked by someone who completely adores and loves it.
It was like she brought it alive. Like her love for it manifested it into tangible existence. She seemed to regard it with reverence. 

Neuroscience is definitely interesting in some aspects but it’s not my absolute favorite topic. 
It can be kind of dry. I can hardly remember the details of nerves, synapses, brain parts and stuff.
It’s awe-inspiring for sure, the way the body works. I love to think and read about it. Some aspects are fascinating.
But I won’t be reading about it very frequently. 
This subject is just not at the very top of my list of favorites, the way Philosophy as a whole topic is. Philosophy is my passion. My love.  Not necessarily as a career/job goal but as a hobby to read and write about.  And neuroscience involves philosophy.
Everything does. Philosophy is everywhere.
Omnipresent.

Also, the doctor and her colleagues did tests on animals, mostly rats, and sometimes they had to kill them, which they claimed was “humane” in the killing method they chose. And she said they weren’t suffering as a result of the brain experiments they did on them, they made sure they were as “comfortable” as possible.
Experimenting on and killing innocent rats, It’s not my cup of tea.
But I liked the class and her.

One of the only things that stands out to me about that class all these years later is the professor’s love for her work. Not just her love, like I said, most of the professors seemed to love their subjects, it was the way I noticed her love it. The way she would embody love. Just the way she loves. (This isn’t to say other people do not love their work and subject the same way and just as much, it’s just that some people’s existence just emits love & light either in general or for a specific thing, in a more noticeable way to some people. I was more receptive of hers for her work, maybe someone else would be more receptive of someone else’s. And there’s other aspects of life to be loving with than work, I meet many loving people in various aspects! )

That and the fact that she had/has a human brain collection in her basement and brought one in, along with a spinal cord, for us to hold. She’s a brain researcher, studying brains and the nervous system. I wrote about her and her brain collection here before. When they were through with the brains, she would keep them for her own amusement. Lol

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The brain I held in my hands was beautiful in every way. In the way it looked, felt, in the way it worked when it was alive, in the way it still had purpose even after the woman’s death who once lived with that brain. And the spinal cord was beautiful as well, the color, the texture, the feel, the purpose it served to the living person and the purpose it served after the death of the person. I am extremely blessed that I got to hold them in my hands. Some students refused to touch them.  It wasn’t required as part of the class, it was just for our own pleasure. 

Dr. Ward’s love for her work seemed to me to go beyond mere interest, beyond passion, even. Like I said, just utter adoration and awe. It wasn’t the words she spoke but the way she moved, her tones, her gestures, and expressions. Her state of being. Her light. 

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The teacher we had Saturday displayed that very same kind of love during our workshop and it took me back to those days in Dr. Ward’s class all those years ago. The teacher, Eve’s, love is so uplifting and powerful just to be in the presence of. It reminds me to be love in everything I do. 

In Dr. Ward’s class I learned a lot of facts. Some incredibly interesting that I still remember, with wonder and pleasure today, some not so interesting, most which completely escape my mind today. 

But the most valuable thing I learned in that class isn’t something academic or intellectual. It’s not about neuroscience. I got like a C or C – in that class and had to do extra credit work just to get basically the lowest passing grade, which is C-. What I was awakened to in that class is wisdom, not intelligence. 

The most valuable lesson I learned in the class is to love in everything I do, and not just love and express love but be that love. Be in the state of love. Be mindful of the love coursing through my veins even if there seems to be nothing and no one before me to bestow it upon. Just bask in my own loving presence. 

I want to be that kind of love not just for my work but in everything I do in this life. 

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“Be love. Be so much love that when others are with you they are love too.”

Be mindful of the journey and not in a hurry to get to the destination. And not just be loving in our work but loving in everything we do even if we would prefer to be doing something else. Even if it’s a task that doesn’t hold our interest. Be mindful of the fact that whatever it is, it’s likely leading to something necessary or good. A boring long drive is getting you to where you have to go. A boring class or stressful day at work is getting you paid or credits you need.
A seemingly pointless hassle may be teaching you a lesson you will later come to realize. Maybe patience or strength or love…
Experiencing even unpleasant things is an indication that we are alive. Cherish it. 

And be loving and mindful of the love with people we are around, whether we know and like them or not. Be loving with pets, friends, family, strangers, all sentient beings, all living things. Love to love, not merely to be loved. Be loving even through pain, grief, despair, anger. Be loving through happiness and joy. 

Be grateful for the purpose that things serve.

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“Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.” ~
Markus Zusak

Even if we feel that we can’t or won’t BE love everywhere, then it’s good to BE love in certain aspects of life, if you won’t be loving at work, be at home. If you won’t be loving at home then be at work or with your favorite fun activity or in general.  Be love in your relation to your own self.  We all have love in us but it’s not always at our surface, readily available. Sometimes other things are more prominent at that moment, like anger, boredom, exhaustion, agitation, grief, depression, anxiety, fear, the desire to be right, tiredness, numbness, wishing for something else, jealousy, ignorance, just a lack of passion, a feeling of monotony…

But we can learn to tap into that love more often, summon those loving feelings when we realize we are currently not consciously experiencing it. 

Be love in the most simplest and mundane tasks. Washing our clothes, brushing our teeth, shower….and we will become even deeper love. We will train our brains to be even more loving and happier doing things we would prefer not to have to do. And just doing everyday tasks that are usually no big thrill. 

Dr. Ward’s love for her work and Neuroscience inspired me and still inspires me.  Not to love Neuroscience. This isn’t one of those amazing stories where a teacher inspires a student to fall in love with a subject she never had one ounce of interest in then she grows up and becomes a teacher herself for that very subject. 

I’ll never be a neuroscientist. 

This is my story of how a teacher’s (whether the person is a school teacher, college professor or instructor, or a religious teacher…) love can inspire love in general. And not just a teacher but anyone. You, me, a child or a very old person, a homeless person, a rich person, your neighbor, friend, or sister…anyone.  

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“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” ~Confucius

I will be love everywhere I go. 

Doesn’t this lesson seem even more valuable than any school degree? I think so! It took me a while to learn to apply and practice this life lesson. Sometimes we experience something but do not process it or realize it for many years later. I noticed back then her awe-provoking love for her work and I was inspired but I did not always try to emulate it consciously in most of the things I do.  I’m very thankful for the Buddhist teacher’s reminder on Saturday. She reminded me not in what she said but in all that she IS.

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

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Sometimes the best reminders and examples are not verbal ones. We are influencing and inspiring and teaching each other in the ways that we live, move, talk, and just in the way we are.

Much love to you. ❤

Xoxo Kim ❤

p.s. I have/have had other professors/teachers/people who inspire me just as much in similar/various ways and they will be in some of my future posts! 😀 ❤

The Vinegar Tasters

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Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie,
A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply:
Cottleston, Cottleston, Cottleston Pie.”

Within the last month I have experienced quite a few profound losses. I lost a human friend as well as two of my pets to death all in a month. All very shockingly and very unexpectedly. 

It’s seriously like the worst emotional pain imaginable. The deepest kind of sadness. 

 Then I lost my job, unexpectedly, because the owner is selling the business(i knew it was happening but not so soon). I don’t have much work experience other than years at a store and some work in college I did as a peer educator so it’s not easy finding another job. Not because I wouldn’t be good at it but the employers are wary of taking on employees without experience for whatever the job is. I don’t have much experience for exactly what I want to do but I am very confident I will do a great job and I’m also quite confident someone out there somewhere will give me a chance one of these days! 😀

Then I lost my Temple University system account (e-mail and things) because someone hacked it or tried and it showed suspicious activity so the University suspended my account and since I cannot yet pay back the student loan, they can refuse to talk to me when I call Monday and not restore my account. I use my account for everything even though I’m no longer a current student there. 

Then the media card in my phone broke (it keeps working then not working because my phone itself is too full of files and stuff which I need wifi to transfer it all to a computer, which I will do when I get wifi) and I lost all my pictures and all my songs and everything else on the media card. I think it’s all still there, just can’t be accessed yet. This is very trivial next to the deaths of my friend, Diane, and my pets, Dylan &Lizz , but it is very distressing, especially on top of the other losses.

A few days ago while getting a shower and experiencing raw grief over the losses of my friends(human and animal), it doesn’t go away but the severity and rawness fluctuates – acceptance to seemingly unbearable, back and forth, I began thinking more about the seasons of life and how pain and loss are inevitable. Whether it’s a very tragic, devastating, senseless, unexpected loss or a natural but still devastating loss to old age or a loss of a job or place to live or something, these are all stages and phases and seasons of living and we can learn to accept them. Acceptance doesn’t mean not experiencing pain or not trying to make things better. It doesn’t mean not speaking up against something we disagree with, not taking action. It just means acknowledging that painful things are part of being alive, whether they are fair, unfair, unjust, happen to most people or are rare…., and working along with these painful circumstances and seasons of life. Not denying them, not wishing them away, they won’t go away. Just soaking up every horrible emotion and also the beauty that comes along with it. Using it to our advantage, to strengthen us and our empathy for others, to deepen our wisdom. And knowing we can be happy and filled with joy along with the grief and any other pain. 

Grief and missing someone and happiness in life can reach a point where they are not mutually exclusive. We can feel both, grief/sense of loss & happiness/joy. It’s the same with physical pain and happiness and even with having a depressive disorder. We can have struggles with these and other things but ultimately be happy. 

The more I ponder this, the more I see the beauty in it and accept it. 

“More is a man of an angel’s wit and singular learning; I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness, and affability? And as time requireth a man of marvellous mirth and pastimes; and sometimes of as sad gravity: a man for a seasons.” ~ Robert Whittinton

I’m reading a book called “The Tao of Pooh” written by a man who finds deep and ancient wisdom threaded throughout the Winnie the Pooh series, Benjamin Hoff. I had this book for a while but never read it yet and coincidentally, I picked it up to read at 4:00 in the morning, not completely sure what it’s about, and I realize it’s about just what I was thinking about during and after the shower that day, accepting and working along with, and even cherishing, all of life, painful and happy, good and bad, joyful and sorrowful. How comforting! How beautiful and inspiring.

In the book, the author tells a little story of “the vinegar tasters.” A painting of three men, said to be Confucius, the Buddha, and Lao-tse, the author of the oldest existing book of Taoism.
These three masters are standing around a vat of vinegar. Each man has dipped his finger into the vinegar and tasted it. Each man’s reaction to the taste is different and each of their faces displays a different expression. 

Confucius has a sour look on his face. The Buddha has a bitter expression. And Lao-tse is smiling.

This painting is not to be taken literally but allegorically. Each man is a representation of “The Three Teachings” of China and the vinegar they are tasting represents the Essence of Life.

So the painting is an allegory for our reactions to life. Confucius, in the painting, views life as sour. He believes that the present is not properly aligned with the past and that the government of man on Earth is out of harmony with the Way of Heaven, the government of the Universe. He has a thing for long ago and reveres the Ancestors and ancient rituals and ceremonies in which the emperor, or Son of Heaven, acts as an intermediary for limitless Heaven & limitless Earth.   

The use of precisely measured court music, prescribed steps, actions, and phrases all add up to an incredibly complex system of rituals, under Confucianism. Each ritual is used on a certain occasion for a specific purpose. A quote to convey the gist of this concept is “If the mat was not straight, the Master would not sit.” This shows the extent and rigidity, and a kind of perfectionism, of the ideas and rituals of the school of thought of Confucianism.

As for Buddha, the second man in the painting, life on Earth is bitter. It’s filled with attachments, illusions, and desires that lead to suffering. To him, in the painting, the world is seen as inherently full of traps, a generator of illusions – a revolving wheel of pain for all sentient beings. According to this Buddha in the painting, we must overcome “the world of dust” to obtain inner peace and reach Nirvana (complete liberation, zero suffering), which translates literally to “no wind.”  We must eliminate all the unpleasantness in life, all our struggles, to be truly happy. 

The author explains how the optimistic attitude of the Chinese altered Buddhism, making it more positive, after it extended to China(it originated in India). But the devout Buddhist often viewed the “bitter wind of everyday existence” as an interruption to the process of reaching Nirvana.

To the last man in the painting, Lao-tse, the one pleasantly smiling, there is Heaven on Earth. The harmony that naturally exists between Heaven & Earth and has always existed can be found by anyone at all in almost any circumstances, during any occasion, as long as the strict rules of Confucianism, which leave no room for diversity and imperfection, are not followed. 

According to Lao-tse, in his Tao Te Ching, , the “Tao Virtue Book,” Earth is essentially a “reflection of Heaven.” It’s run by the same laws which are not the laws of humans. These heavenly laws are said to affect the spinning of distant planets as well as the activity of the birds in the forest and the fish in the sea. 

 Lao-Tse in the painting story, believes that the more we interfere with the natural balance produced and governed by the universal laws, the more difficult it is to reach harmony. The more we interfere with the natural seasons of life, the more forcing, the more trouble. 

The author, Benjamin Hoff, states 

“Whether heavy or light, wet or dry, fast or slow, everything had its own nature already within it, which could not be violated without causing difficulties. When abstract and arbitrary rules were imposed from the outside, struggle was inevitable. Only then did life become sour.”

(pp. 4) 

Lao-tse sees life, in all its pain and beauty, as an opportunity to learn valuable lessons. Life is our teacher, our chance to awaken to deep wisdom. Unlike the Buddha in the painting who advocate for turning away from “the world of dust,” Lao-tse advises us to “join the dust of the world.” He speaks of Tao, the Way, the “law” or essence governing everything in Heaven & on Earth. 

Tao cannot be explained in words. It must be lived, experienced. It’s acceptance of life as it is. It is basically and simply working with our life circumstances, pleasant or unpleasant, appreciating all of life, life itself, letting our experiences teach us, working with every single thing that happens in everyday life, going with the flow.

As I have mentioned, it’s not about not working to fix problems that can be fixed for the better. It’s not about never experiencing pain. It’s about acceptance of life, both beauty and pain, and not denying our emotions or circumstances. Acknowledging what is and just flowing with it. 

Lao-tse believes this naturally brings us happiness.  

We can experience great happiness even in the midst of imperfection, struggles, pain…but when we work in harmony with these circumstances, “Taoist understanding changes what others perceive as negative into something positive.” (pp. 6) 

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Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” ~ John Ruskin

According to Taoism, bitterness and sourness are results of being unappreciative and interfering with the essence of life. Life itself is sweet if we understand it for what it is. This is the message of The Vinegar Tasters.

This painting or story is not really about religion or debates or disagreements;it’s a metaphor for life that can be incorporated into any of our lives irrespective of religion or absence of religion. 

I find this concept to be deeply inspiring and very helpful to remembering during difficult and painful situations such as depression, grief, loss, stress….anything.

You can find different versions of the painting in Google images. I found none worth sharing here. In most of the images I looked at, all three men look miserable. Lol

I’m wishing you lots of love & happiness! ❤

Xoxo Kim ❤

Starry, Starry Night

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“Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frame-less heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget.” ~ Don McLean ❤

Recently there was this one night the sky seemed to be filled with more stars than usual. I have a camera that reaches the stars(my phone camera almost never can capture them) but my camera is lost and kind of broken(my dad broke it by cracking it against a table or something and it fell apart, sort of). I always hoped for a camera that can beautifully capture the night sky then last year I got one, not the best, probably, but an ok one.  It’s in my house somewhere but I have no clue where. And it’s a small house! Lol I don’t yet have a way to get my pics online off the camera because the camera needs wifi or to put the pictures on a computer first. And my computer isn’t set up because it needs wifi to be set up. 
So I carelessly tossed it aside. 
I should be getting wifi soon, now I regret it.

I was in awe over the beauty of the starlit night! I kept trying to take pics with my phone and it kept only capturing one star, the brightest one.
Then in one picture, it got two stars. 
 I was thankful. Sometimes it can’t even capture one.  But I wanted the whole sky full of stars to show up. 
It was amazing! They were literally twinkling!
I kept imagining what that would look like in a picture and how I would love to have and share a picture like that!  

I kept thinking “if only I was more careful with my camera!!” 
And 
“I really hope when I get a good camera or find mine, the sky looks like this again! “

It was a worse feeling than not having a camera at all because it was like a feeling of “being so close…” I have it and could have captured the stars but it’s lost because I was careless.

Like when playing a crane machine and it completely misses the desired object and it’s like “oh well.” but when it picks up the thing you want and then drops it before it makes it to the slot it’s like “omg! So close!! If only it would have held on a second later…!!” lol

 I couldn’t shake the feeling. “If only….” and “I hope…” But it was the kind of restraining hope that holds me back, not an exhilarating kind. 

And it’s not every night there’s that many stars! And big bright ones! All twinkling!  
I really felt so strongly that I was missing out.

I went back out into the backyard to look up at the starry starry night and it took my breath away and I was reminded that that’s really all that matters. Experiencing the beauty, not capturing it. 

I wasn’t missing anything.

While it’s amazing to get beautiful pictures of our experiences and the beauty all around us, sometimes the desire, activity, or opportunity to capture it can hold us back.

When we forget our phones, lose our cameras, our battery drains….and we can’t get a pic we can feel that we’re missing out, we can feel a sense of loss, a sense of a missed opportunity. 
And sometimes we can get so wrapped up trying to get the “perfect picture” that we neglect to savor the moment itself. 

Girls, (and maybe some men?) haven’t you ever had a day where your makeup looked so perfect or your hair, better than usual and it kind of felt like a waste because you weren’t going anywhere or your plans did not work out? And in some way you almost wished you did not look so good? Because there’s like nowhere to go, no one to see it. Lol I know I’m not the only one! 

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(this isn’t my picture, I don’t know the original source but it’s funny!)

That’s kind of like this experience. Like, damn, the sky looks so good! And I can’t capture it! 

;-p

I heard on the radio a couple years ago that there’s a study that shows that many people feel that it’s more important to capture and get “proof” of the fun occasions and beauty they experience than actually experiencing it. According to the radio program, most teenagers who took the survey said they would prefer not to experience something amazing if they can’t get a pic than experience it and not get pictures! I don’t know how accurate this survey/s is/are since I just heard it briefly some years ago and did not hear all the info. But I know this phenomenon is definitely true for some people. 

I have met people who felt this way and I have felt a touch of this myself on some occasions. Not that I would prefer not to experience something great if I can’t get a pic but feeling so disappointed and anxious if I couldn’t get one to the point I sometimes let the disappointment and anxiety ruin the moment.

Looking up at that starry, starry sky I was reminded that living is much more important than capturing or “proving.”  Both are great but we can’t always have both. And why let disappointment ruin the actual moment?

I almost never let “picture taking” take away my focus or experience of what is happening. That is a common problem now in society, at least the one I live among. People are obsessed with capturing and showing the fun they’re having and beauty they’re witnessing and instead of living the moment, they pull out their phones/cameras and play with them, posing instead of being natural, looking into a phone or camera instead of each other. I believe I manage a healthy balance of capturing the moment but also living it. But my problem is when I can’t capture it in at least one pic, I have felt so very disappointed. 

And it’s the same with the makeup, who cares if you’re not going anywhere or seeing anyone? Just bask in your own beauty, put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty. 

(and meet me tonight in Atlantic City ;-D lol)

It’s worth it! We don’t need a special occasion or to show anything. Wear that clingy dress, the diamond earrings, use the expensive utensils and sparkling crystal wine glasses, buy yourself flowers….each moment we’re alive is a special occasion. 

I’m thankful the sky showed me. Lol 

Also, I choose to look at the bright side! At least I got the biggest, brightest star! Lol And it looked like it was a falling star after a while!  It was like curving or something. Fantastic! 

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So pretty!

This is definitely not an airplane (my sister insists that it is but I kept my eyes on it since it was a small speck hanging over the rooftops) or the moon. It somewhat resembles one but it’s a star, I’m sure of it.
I know what an airplane and what a star looks like(although one night I did mistake a traffic light for the moon so I guess you can’t be too sure of my judgment….but this I’m sure of!)

The moon was on the other side. And it stayed in one place all night, not moving, just sparkling, until it decided to curve like this. I kept running out to check on it all night. And took like one hundred pics.  All shitty ones but I still like them.

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(this picture has two stars! I had to lighten the picture a lot to make them more visible. Very hard to see but they’re there!)

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I couldn’t imagine why I saved this picture and was about to delete it then I realized why! If you look closely you can see the shadow Of me standing on the tips off my toes desperately holding my phone up to the sky as high as I possibly can hoping to just get a few stars to show up! And also hoping the neighbors in the back wouldn’t think I’m some kind of creeper taking pictures through their windows. I promise it’s only the stars I was spying on. ;-D

It is a funny picture, kind of pathetic. Being this desperate but oh well….lol

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Don McLean – Starry, Starry Night

Mobile:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oxHnRfhDmrk

Desktop:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&persist_app=1&v=oxHnRfhDmrk

I hope you’re having a great day and a beautiful starry starry night!! ❤

😀

Xoxo Kim

Offering the Victory – Universal Love <3

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“May I take defeat upon myself 
And offer them the victory”

Hello loves! ❤

I hope you’re having a beautiful day!

On Valentine’s Day this year I attended a Love retreat at a Buddhist Center here in Philadelphia. It was a series of four classes on Love, each class was 45 minutes long, a lecture and meditation on Love, compassion, and kindness. Universal Love was the topic; universal love is all encompassing love. Completely unconditional love. Love for our friends, family, pets, strangers,insects, rodents, flowers, all sentient beings,  enemies, assholes, difficult people…Love for everyone. Love can be an affective feeling, a warm, positive feeling for someone but it’s also just a selfless, genuine wish for someone else to be happy With or without us, even if that someone is a person we view as a difficult person who we don’t have a warm affection for or a positive opinion of. That’s universal love, a wish for everyone to be happy no matter what. We can still want people to be happy and well (in a way that is not at the expense of others in a negative way) even if we don’t like them. It’s not always easy. It can be extremely difficult. It may take much work, thought, reflection, practice, and meditation to get to that point that we generally want even people we don’t like or ones we’re angry at, even difficult people who want nothing more than to see us fall, to be happy. But it can be done. Sometimes those thoughts and feelings may come very easily to us but sometimes we really have to try hard.

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Eventually it can become our general way of life. There may be setbacks, relapses, occasions now and then we want nothing more than to tell someone off, yell at someone, seek revenge, give someone a disgusted look to get a subtle point across without being too dramatic, or just hope bad things in our heads…but generally, with practice, we can cultivate an attitude of Universal Love. 

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The Love we were lectured on and meditated upon is completely, pure, raw, selfless Love. Ultimate, unconditional Love. With absolutely no expectations of anything in return.

Even when someone else is being selfish, unkind, uncaring, rude, vicious…we can genuinely wish that person the best whether out loud or just in our heads, speak with a calm tone, be kind. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it seems near impossible but with practice, it can be our Way.

And even if we choose to terminate a relationship with someone, it can be in a positive/productive way. We can lovingly let go, end on positive terms even if that person is not being loving or positive. On our part, it can be loving. 

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Some of the life lessons we learned during the retreat are:

1.) Offering the Victory and accepting defeat upon ourself (“ourself” as opposed to “ourselves” means people in general, like universally, as opposed to a specific group of multiple people such as a specific family or room full of people…- I just learned this! Lol :-O) even when we know we’re right and others are wrong, to be completely selfless and let go of self cherishing – self cherishing in this case means putting ourself, our own needs and desires(even seemingly reasonable needs and desires) above others.  Sometimes we know for a fact that someone else is wrong and being selfish, rude, unkind and we may have the urge to lash out, argue, be defensive, be rude back, give someone a dirty look or just think negatively in our heads…but it’s possible to get into the habit of offering those people the victory, show them love, let them be “right,” maybe even say sorry just to keep the peace and love around us. Not out of fear of confrontation or what they’ll think of or do to us if we don’t give in, or low self esteem or being weak or fake, but out of love, a genuine desire to make the world a better, more loving place. It takes a certain kind of strength to do this but it’s very worth it. It’s more important to be loving than to be right. 

It’s so tempting to meet someone’s negativity and rudeness with our own negativity and being rude back. It’s often temporarily satisfying to put people in their place or curse them in our heads or out loud but it accomplishes nothing in the long run. It just puts negative energy out into a world where there’s already enough. 

It’s important to keep in mind that just because you do, say, think selfish things does not make you a bad or even necessarily a selfish person. And it’s something that can be changed if you want to change it. If not, that’s ok too. The teachers of universal compassion and love and selflessness, Buddhists, and monks are not being negatively judgmental just as I am not being judgmental. Universal Love is about acceptance, even acceptance of people who are not being loving and people with drastically different views than our own, opposing views, polar opposite views. Some views and religions are incompatible with one another but the people who hold those views do not have to be incompatible with each other.  

We can not agree with people, not like what they think or do but still love them and show compassion and kindness.  

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I’m putting this into practice more and more each day. I’m not perfect at it. Sometimes it’s so hard. Every single day I am faced with a situation, as are most of us probably, whether very trivial or more serious, where I can choose to put my own needs above someone else’s or accuse someone of being wrong. Sometimes the person really is wrong, sometimes it’s me who is really wrong, but no matter which of us is, I make it my ultimate goal to lovingly accept the defeat upon myself and offer the victory, each day.  

On many occasions, it’s hard and some occasions I suck at it and act selfishly, some moments I give into selfishness knowing I’m acting selfishly, other occasions I’m not aware right away that I’m being selfish, but on others it’s much easier. And the more I practice, the easier it becomes. I’m still not perfect at it, I may never be. But my ultimate intention is pure. 

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For many people it’s difficult accepting defeat or admitting they’re wrong even when they are, so imagine how difficult it is accepting defeat, apologizing, letting others be “right” when you know you are right or they are definitely wrong, especially when they’re being rude and negative.  But it makes the world a better place. Imagine if we all, or even just many of us choose to accept defeat upon ourself and let them be right whether or not they really are! The world would be so loving! Totally worth it! And our actions and love will likely inspire others to become more loving. 

But it’s important to not let it wear you out, always letting yourself be defeated and others be right. You have to get your mind in the right state, train it to happily, lovingly accept defeat upon yourself and offer them the victory. Many people complain that they put others first constantly and it takes a toll on them, that they don’t get credit for the positive things they do, that they get walked all over, taken advantage of, give too much, are too kind and want to stop being so kind to those who “don’t deserve it….”

But that’s because they aren’t properly training their mind to do all this with no expectations in return, in a completely selfless way. They are being loving and kind but still expecting something of others or the world, that they aren’t getting, in return. They expect others to be sweet and friendly and helpful just because they are that way. But the world doesn’t work that way. And when their own loving compassion isn’t met with the compassion of others, they feel cheated, worn out, broken, like it’s unfair. But universal love, accepting defeat and offering the victory is about being loving, compassionate, and kind irrespective of whether we receive that in return. Love to love, not to be loved. It’s fantastic to be loved. But being loved isn’t the goal, the goal is to love. Whether the love is returned or not. To love is more important than to be loved. The solution isn’t to stop loving or caring for those who “don’t deserve it” but to build up our minds so we are not buffeted by the unpleasant circumstances we are in sometimes or the negativity of others. 

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To accomplish this, we have to meditate, reflect, practice and get to the point where we can give, give, give, get nothing out of it, be kind and not receive kindness in return, but still not feel worn out and wronged. Instead we feel even more energized and exhilarated. And even if we don’t receive the love and kindness of others, our own love we unleash onto the world and in our own minds is enough.

Again, we love to love, not to be loved. For this to become our Way and not just happen occasionally, it takes a certain kind of meditation. It must be done properly to be effective and not mess up our minds. I’m going to share the information for the book on training the mind in this here post, later towards the end. I’m nowhere near qualified to teach people to train their minds and that’s not what I’m doing here. Not only am I not a teacher, I myself do not yet have my mind trained much. So I’m in no position to teach others. I’m in the process of training my mind, which unless I attain full enlightenment, will be an ongoing process. But even short of reaching full enlightenment, it is extremely beneficial to just reach some stages. I’m just giving suggestions and sharing my own stories and struggles and experiences. 

Sometimes I am so tempted to “self cherish” and want what I want above what someone else wants. Even “reasonable” selfishness is good to avoid.
 
Here is a real life example when I was so so so tempted to self cherish and be selfish and put my desires or needs above someone else’s. But I chose to offer the victory instead. 

Recently I was at home one night, on a wonderful cold, frigid, Winter night in Philadelphia, drinking hot tea, in my pink winter pj’s, warm on the sofa with a snowstorm going outside, all warm and cozy and sweet. I was sickly and in pain in my right kidney – something that happens quite frequently. I’m prone to kidney stones and what I think are (mild) infections.  But I was very content. My sister decided she wanted to go out for ice cream. I really did not want to but my sister wanted me to go. I was tempted to say no. To say I’m in my pj’s, in pain, I’m not going out. But I kept in mind the teachings of the Buddhist classes I been attending and my desire to more frequently put others first. I was never a horribly selfish girl, even before the classes and my interest in Buddhism, I often selflessly put others first, changing my plans, willingly putting myself out to the point I have been called a “fool” and “pushover” and other insults on multiple occasions by multiple people,  but who isn’t selfish every now and then? Especially when others are wrong or rude or selfish? We often react similarly to that person, reacting with less than kindness or putting our desires first even if we are usually very kind and selfless. So I said ok I’ll go. 

And at first I really wasn’t happy about it, I was reluctant. But determined to “fake it til I make it.” Keep practicing doing what I don’t want to do as long as it’s making others happy.
Not to be “a fake” but to practice acting more selfless to feel more selfless. To BE more selfless. Even if you aren’t happy putting yourself out to help someone else, as long as you aren’t helping just to get something in return, like a positive reputation or favor in return, you are still being selfless if it’s purely to help others be happy and help make the world a better place. There’s nothing wrong with feeling a bit disappointed once in a while. The fact that you put your own needs last even when it’s reluctant indicates that you are being selfless. Even though you are disappointed for you, you are still happy for others.

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 I want to help people be happy. Even if it means not getting what I want in other ways. Just helping others be happy so often helps me be happy even when I’m not getting my own way and am disappointed about it. But sometimes it’s harder to be happy when I’m not getting my own way. But I’m trying to be better.  

I had to go to CVS to get a picture enlarged to give my friends of us in New York City together. We went for a fun trip a couple years ago and I bought the large photo. They did not want to spend the money. So they got pocket size ones. I got the larger one but lost it the next day. The other day I found the pocket size one I had and decided to get it enlarged as a gift for each of my friends. So I decided after getting ice cream with my little sister, we would go to CVS. And my sister said no! She said no! She wanted to just get ice cream and come home! I felt a pang of anger surge through me. I was so tempted to say “fucking seriously?! I’m agreeing to go out in a snow storm sick and in pain, getting all dressed for you and you can’t stop at CVS with me for two minutes just to scan a picture?!” I opened my mouth to speak then held my tongue. 

That’s not the kind of woman I want to be. I want to help others even when they are not being very agreeable, even when they’re being selfish and unreasonable. If I would have said what I wanted to, that wouldn’t be terribly selfish. It’s actually quite reasonable. I was doing her a favor and it would have took less than 5 minutes to stop at CVS. But she did not want to do me the favor, stopping there with me. Even though it was reasonable selfishness it was still selfishness, self cherishing. Putting what I wanted (going to cvs) over what my sister wanted (just coming home). And I still don’t believe I would have been wrong to respond saying I really want to go to cvs. 

And I wouldn’t negatively judge others who would say that. But I want to become completely selfless (like the Buddha) and always put others first but still being peaceful in my mind. I want to be this way because I want people to be happy, even those acting unkindly and selfishly, even ones who don’t return the favor. And I want the world to be better. 
Even though this is, generally, my ultimate goal and truest desire, on certain occasions, it’s hard to live up to, difficult to not get caught up in the negativity or emotions of that specific occasion. It takes practice. 

After I held my tongue I was still pissed. But I saw it as practice to become better and better. And I took advantage of this wonderful opportunity to practice. I thought about the Buddha’s teachings and the monk’s lessons in our classes and my meditations and the woman I aspire to be. And my anger eventually melted away. Even though I was still resentful for a while, at least the environment was still more peaceful and my sister was happy and everyone was happy. If I would have spoken up, expressed my displeasure, it may have relieved my own anger or annoyance a bit but she would have become infuriated or devastated (she’s very sensitive).

So holding my tongue was good even though I did not get what I wanted. And in the end, all the things I want won’t bring me as much peace and happiness as a peaceful, compassionate, selfless mind that puts others (family, friends, strangers, difficult people, even assholes….) first. My meditation and teachings help me so I can put everyone else first but not feel lowered, degraded, worn out. It’s a journey, a process, it will not always come easily. I will always have selfish intentions now and then but I will become a more selfless being with practice. Like I said, I have never been extremely selfish. But like many or most of us, I want what I want occasionally and I think it’s more important than what someone else wants sometimes and I try justify it by showing how it really is more important….but I intend to becomes less and less that way. I offered my sister the victory. I accepted defeat upon myself. 

I’m not bragging. I’m using my own real example because I believe when people are open and honest and share their own stories, they are easier to take seriously. If I’m going to preach or give suggestions, it’s good to use a real experience of my own, right?  And a genuine example, if I have one, is often better than an imaginary one I can make up in my head. 

You can practice Love and selflessness every single day in very simple but significant ways. For example, when you’re walking in back of slowpokes, instead of thinking unpleasant thoughts like “I wish these people would just move already!, How selfish walking so slow when they know people are in back of them!,  Assholes!” 

I’m not innocent of these thoughts occasionally. I thought all of them at some points. 
And actually during one of the breaks the very day of the retreat I found myself almost late for one of the classes in back of very slow people thinking “Move! Move! Move! I’m about to be late!” and not in a pleasant way. Lol And I caught myself and realized the irony of it.

We can instead think “I wish these people well, I hope they’re happy or become happy, I wish them health, joy, friendship, love…” it puts positive energy into the world and if nothing else, it gets you in a positive, loving habit and then you begin to act more lovingly also,  unconsciously and consciously. 

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The Buddhist monk teaching our class most weeks, and the retreat, gave an example of someone going to Starbucks and asking for a latte and thinking how slow the worker is being and thinking “just hurry up with my coffee!” but instead we can think “Yeah! Pump it up! I hope he’s having fun pumping my coffee!” lol! Everyone burst out laughing! It’s funny but it’s true! Let’s hope the workers are having fun or are peaceful and happy or at the very least, not suffering.

And when our pet chews the sofa or our shoes, think how much we love him/her instead of being destructively furious. It can be so hard but with practice, it’s possible.  

For many of us, no matter how loving and positive we are even to strangers, we probably almost never even think to hope the person making our coffee is feeling happy pumping the coffee, or the person who cuts us off in traffic is well, or the pizza delivery man is healthy, or the person who writes us an incredibly rude comment online feels loved today and always….those are incredibly small (but significant) things we completely do not think to do no matter how loving we generally are. But they help significantly. Us and everyone around us.

Soon we begin to exude love and compassion and positivity.

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Outside the Buddhist Center, after the classes, I saw a man crossing the street, walking a dog, and he was almost ran over by another man in a car. I don’t know which one was in the wrong, I wasn’t paying attention, but they both did not handle it well. The one man beeped the horn much longer than necessary. The one man yelled “watch where you’re going asshole!” and the other yelled “suck it you fucking asshole!” and the other responded “not on your life, asshole!”. And they both gave each other vicious looks and the one walking with the dog flipped the one in the car off. I couldn’t stop laughing because first of all, again with the irony, outside a Buddhist Center where they preach nothing but Love and on the day of a Universal love retreat! And because how they both just kept yelling “asshole!”

Lol I probably shouldn’t be so amused but I am! 
  
2.) Mindfully focusing on all the kindness and love we have been shown since we came into the world, the love and kindness shown by family, friends, teachers, animals, strangers…

We are alive today and much of where we are is because of the love and kindness of others either directly targeted at us or indirectly. Since we came into the world we have been shown kindness and love. Even in the simplest, smallest ways but are still significant.

The doctors and others who took care of you and your birth mother before you were born,  took care of you and your unborn children, your family who kept you alive and safe, your friends you had in and out of school growing up, who taught you things, your teachers, professors, instructors, the law enforcement officers who keep our communities safer, the people who grow/make our food, doctors and nurses, cashiers in stores, government workers, janitors who keep our buildings clean, fast food workers who serve us, strangers who showed us random acts of kindness throughout the years…

During the meditation, I was surprised at the emotions that welled up in me when we were meditating on this concept. While I felt warmth, love, gratitude, joy, happiness, inspiration, awe, I also experienced guilt, contrition, awkwardness, sadness, embarrassment, grief  about all I have been overlooking all these years, completely disregarding. As grateful and reflective as I often am, I still overlook, ignore, close my eyes to so much.  But this retreat awakened me even more.

 At some points during the meditation, it was difficult to focus, too painful, too awkward, too uncomfortable ,at some points, I felt so small,  but I once read that the best teachers bring us to ruin, instead of having his/her students clapping and cheering, s/he has them in silent awe, mouths gaping open in disbelief, astonishment, heads held low in embarrassment, remorse, guilt at all they have been ignorant of. These aren’t the words that I read but the same concept. I’m paraphrasing, capturing the sentiment. And it’s what I felt during the classes. 

I invite you to try this activity. Just sit or lay in a quiet place or listen to some gentle, wordless, music and reflect on and feel gratitude for all those who have shown you kindness and love, even the ones you never met, the people who grow/make the food to be sold in 
stores, your family and all the things they have done for you through the years, your friends, acquaintances, pets, neighbors, strangers you remember who showed you love in some way, the doctor who was your biological mom’s when she was pregnant with you, the persons who safely delivered or assisted in delivering you when you were born, your ancestors who all led to you, singers, celebrities who inspire you, all of the people in this life who help you or have helped you in any way no matter how seemingly simple or small.

We are also encouraged to think of and give thanks for those we haven’t yet met but will meet in the future. Future best friends, coworkers, family members, future children, strangers we’ll meet at a Busstop, walking up the street, a new neighbor who may move in near you and become like family to you, the employees in restaurants and cafes we will go to, future lover/s, there are infinite opportunities waiting to unfold for us to meet various kinds of beautiful people.  And experience many more beautiful things. This brought and still brings me so much hope. To think of all those people and all those experiences and opportunities that are still to come to me, tomorrow, next year, in twenty years and more….

Think of and give thanks for all these people and animal friends and experiences who bless and will bless your life.

And let us give thanks for all our blessings.

Also let’s remember to accept defeat upon ourself and offer the victory to them. Even when we know without a doubt that we are right and they are wrong. Love is more important than being right.

You may think “why should *I* be the one to give in?” We have control over our own selves, not others. It’s up to them to decide what to be and up to each one of us to decide for ourself. 
I hope you choose to be all that you can be in each moment. You probably won’t always live up to that goal but on many occasions you will and that’s fantastic. 

We will have setbacks and succumb to selfish ways again and again. We will expect things that others will not do for us, we will cherish ourself and ignore the needs and desires of others, we will be ungrateful, angry, and negative sometimes because we are not fully enlightened. And that’s ok. We can just be as loving as we can and when we fall, gently remind ourself that love is the Way. 

When we keep putting others first over and over and being kind to people being rude, we will very likely still feel annoyed or angry even if we don’t act on it. That’s ok. Eventually we will be better and better at putting others always first while still feeling happy and pleasant about it. 

3.) And remember to view each unpleasant encounter with someone as an opportunity to practice becoming more loving, more patient. It’s a habit that must be maintained to keep it going. It’s an ongoing journey. Practice, practice, practice. Challenging encounters are a good thing.

“No one ever learns to be a great driver by just driving upon a straight road.”

4.) “It is like a diamond, like the sun, and like a medicinal tree.”

That is to say that when we train our minds by following the instructions of Geshe Chekhawa’s text on being more compassionate, loving, kind, meditative, offering the victory, accepting defeat, any little thing we do is good. Even if it’s just a sliver of what he teaches. When a diamond is cut into little pieces, every fragment, even the most microscopic piece, is extremely valuable. Geshe Chekhawa’s text is best when practiced as a whole, but like a broken diamond, even the smallest part is extremely valuable. Priceless are his teachings, even when only part is followed. Sunlight completely dispels all darkness but even just a few beams of golden sun provide some light. If we practice his full text, we completely dispel all of our darkness of ignorance but just engaging in some parts of the practice is incredible. Even just one moment you choose kindness as opposed to lashing out, it is like a beam of sun. Beautiful. 
And just as every part of a medicinal tree (roots, trunk, branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit) provides medicine, so every part of the instructions on training the mind provide insight, relief, invaluable information to us.
Every word of his is infinite wisdom. 

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And you don’t have to be a Buddhist or plan on becoming one to incorporate some Buddhist views such as these, into your world. Even if you have another religion, universal love is compatible with it. 

I purchased a book at the retreat called “Universal Compassion” by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who is the teacher of the monk who teaches our class. I love his books and have many. This is the book I mentioned above on training the mind to be completely selfless but still completely happy and peaceful in general. It is a beautiful and practical book that helps us train our brains to be all that we can be. 
 Geshe Chekhawa’s teachings are mentioned there. It’s based on his wisdom. 

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These are just some of the things I learned during the retreat and practice, meditate upon  in class every week and at home during my meditations and everywhere I go. I’m so thankful I attended and have awakened to so much wisdom and experienced amazing things during meditation and lectures. It’s amazing to be surrounded by people who have similar goals and interests as me. I hope I can remember and share bits of wisdom I learn each week/day and share it along with my own experiences and struggles, to help others.  

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Links on Metta(universal love):

http://www.buddhanet.net/metta_in.htm

http://www.wildmind.org/metta/introduction/what-is-metta

Lovingkindness meditation: 

Desktop:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cpV7ERsM&app=desktop

Mobile:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cpV7ERsM&app=m&persist_app=1

This page, below, has free mp3’s for songs and meditations/guided meditations about love & compassion.
 
http://www.buddhanet.net/audio-library.htm

May you be well.
May you be happy. 
May you be peaceful.
May you be loved.

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Xoxo Kim ❤ ❤

On Pain, Hope, & Life Lessons <3 {Healing Hands}

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“Although extraordinary valor was displayed by the entire corps of Spartans and Thespians, yet bravest of all was declared the Spartan Dienekes. It is said that on the eve of battle, he was told by a native of Trachis that the Persian archers were so numerous that, their arrows would block out the sun. Dienekes, however, undaunted by this prospect, remarked with a laugh, ‘Good. Then we will fight in the shade.'”

This morning I woke up not in pain. It was a strange, strange thing to wake up to. This is because I’m almost always in mild physical pain. Sometimes moderate, sometimes severe, occasionally unbearably severe. But usually just mild. It’s like background noise, the clothes against my skin, the back of a chair against my body. It’s just there, I don’t even usually realize until something brings my attention to it for some reason. It’s almost never a problem to me that I’m almost always in pain. I just accept it. It just is. It doesn’t interfere with anything or prevent joy or happiness.

Although, sometimes it disturbs me that some people must always or frequently be in pain even if it’s only mild.
It hurts me to think of it, occasionally.
And occasionally I am fearful of the fact that my body can always hurt.
Sometimes I am filled with a sense of dread.

But mostly, it’s not a problem, not an issue at all. My pain is often so mild and so frequent, so mundane that I used to suspect if it somehow does go away, I may not even notice. The mild to moderate pain is so deep into my body, so ingrained it feels as if it will never go away, like it can’t ever go away. Like it’s not a possibility. It’s so deep into me. In my face, jaw, and head. It’s as much a part of me as my other physical attributes, like the color of my skin, my hair, my dna…or at least I thought so.

I used to feel this way about my depression when I was depressed constantly everyday almost, for many years. But the difference is, the depression was a problem, a serious problem. It was destroying me. It wasn’t mild.
And for me, mild depression is worse than mild physical pain.

My mild physical pain doesn’t destroy me.

One difference to me about severe physical pain and depression is when my severe physical pain ends, I am consciously aware for a short while that I’m no longer in agony but I always go back to my usual ways of generally forgetting that I’m no longer in severe pain.

I always promise myself I won’t. I promise myself that when the horror of physical agony ends I will every waking second of everyday realize and be consciously aware that I’m not in physical agony, suffering. I break that promise. Again and again.
Sometimes I do consciously, intentionally acknowledge that I’m not in severe pain even when I haven’t been in severe pain for a while and I give thanks. This can happen out of the blue or I can intentionally summon those thoughts and feelings. My pain teaches me to be more aware of not being in pain than I would have if I never experienced it, but it’s not on my mind every second.
You know when you are very sick or have a sore throat or anything and it ends and you are consciously aware for a while then you go back to being used to it being gone?

With depression, for me, it’s not like that. I am consciously aware, literally almost every second, often even in my slumbering dreams, that I’m not suicidal and depressed when I’m not. I don’t always talk about it but my deep awareness is always there.
After years and years and more and more years of suicidal depression day in and day out with only short breaks, now that I am generally happy, I can’t take a single second of not being depressed and suicidal for granted. Not a second.

I am consciously aware of my desire and will to live. Almost always. This awareness began in 2008 but deepened and became more frequent in 2010 and as the years went on, it became even greater.

That’s why I write about it here so frequently and in a positive way. Because it’s always on my mind. And it inspires me. And I want to help everyone else I can with or without depression.

If you have ever been depressed for a few years or months or just an episode or environmental depression maybe you understand or not. But maybe people who have been depressed and suicidal for so many years, it’s hard to count, and almost constantly or for each stage of life, a life long condition, will understand at a deeper level exactly what I’m saying.

I don’t usually meet people like this that I know of.

But even if you never experienced depression of any sort, you can get some sort of idea, I hope.

I try to use my pain, both physical and emotional, to my advantage. It deepens my empathy for others and nurtures my creativity. It encourages me to always, consciously notice the beauty around me. All the simple beauty and joys. I have felt physical pain that is just as bad as my severe depression. Less frequent but the magnitude just as severe.

Also, to me, physical pain and sickness have a way of seeming more urgent than other problems, even severe problems. It has a way of temporarily pushing everything else aside, screaming for attention. It’s louder than other pain, though not necessarily worse or more painful. It needs tending to right then and there while everything else can take the back burner for a moment. It screams louder.

Both kinds of pain inspire me.

Both shatter me and make me whole.

My physical pain is usually a dull ache but it can exacerbate into a more intense throbbing ache or burning, stabbing, shooting pain. It can be constant and come in bolts of sharp pain or burning. Over and over.

When I just think of eating, I automatically, like a reflex, think of a dull ache or sometimes an unbearable throb or stabbing. I cannot chew without pain, like I said, not usually a problem as long as I’m careful but sometimes it’s a serious one. It’s not my choice to think of pain when I think of food. Again, it just is. I see food or even just think of food that looks good to me and automatically my head conjures up thoughts of pain because my jaw dysfunction results in not being able to chew without it. When I imagine eating, I imagine hurting. To me, eating is hurting. Sometimes eating is even suffering. But I don’t even always realize it because it’s so automatic and natural to me. Like if you imagine food then the taste or texture of the food or pleasure of eating. I think of all that and pain, usually mild.

I read a story written by a lady with a severe case like mine, but even worse than mine. She said when she goes to a restaurant and looks at a menu to choose her food, she doesn’t think “What do I want to eat today but how much do I want to suffer today?”

I know that exact feeling. Sometimes no matter how mouth-watering food looks, it’s just not worth it. And the pain doesn’t always come on right away. Sometimes I eat something I know I shouldn’t or chew gum, and I’ll be paying for it later. It’s better when the pain flares up worse right away because it’s more of an incentive to avoid it the next occasion I feel like giving in. Sometimes when some of us know we won’t have to pay now but later, we give into temptation because later seems less of a reality than the more near future. Like maxing out three credit cards in like less than a month. (I’m guilty)

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Today I woke up and automatically knew something was different. And I knew right away what it was. I wasn’t in pain. Not even mild pain.

But it wasn’t just that.

It wasn’t just the absence of pain but more like the actual presence of “no pain.” As if “no pain” isn’t merely lack but an entity itself. It was a presence. A physical presence. “No pain” wasn’t just lack of, it wasn’t just no pain. It was something. A healing “blanket.” Like a thickness of something. My jaw, my face, my head. It finally stopped throbbing. It finally stopped aching. The stabbing, the burning, it all stopped.

But something came in its place. Something I can’t explain or understand. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m not used to not being in pain, it felt like this or if it was something else but it wasn’t a mere absence or lack.

It was a feeling of like healing and comfort all in my jaw, face, and head. A soothing essence, a physical presence of hope. That’s what it felt like. I don’t know what else to say about it because I can’t find the words. It wasn’t just an emotional, mental, or psychological feeling. It was physical and only in the places where it usually hurts. It’s kind of bizarre.

I wanted to not get out of bed. I wanted to stay and bask and bathe and soak in that unusual, strange, warm, inviting feeling I never experienced before then. I wanted to greedily devour it. I feared, for a second, that it was only a dream and that I would awaken and soon the beautiful feeling would be snatched by the rapacious hands of reality.

But it wasn’t a dream.

When I wasn’t yet diagnosed with the disorder I used to lay in my bed many nights in agony. In so much pain both physical and the emotional pain and loneliness it brought
to me.
When it was unbearable and almost unbearable and I was often afraid to touch my face, I would imagine a hand touching my face, a soothing touch, rubbing my face, taking my pain away. Gently stroking my cheek. I imagined this hand in various skin colors. Sometimes it was an old hand with wrinkles, sometimes young and smooth skin. Sometimes it was a man’s hand, usually a woman’s. I even used to sometimes envision the fingernails, the prints. I felt the softness of compassionate touch. All different hands on different nights, delicately upon my face.

But it was always a healing hand. It couldn’t take away my physical pain but it helped me ease my loneliness and fear.

I would imagine a healing vibration just flowing through me. I imagined love flowing through my face and head. Flowing through every cell of my body.

The feeling I imagined back then is not unlike the real feeling I experienced this morning. It was almost like an invisible hand touching me, healing me.

I recently experienced a very bad flare up that lasted over a week then regressed back to the mild pain. I wonder if I dreamed of those imaginary healing hands last night, those hands that soothed my fear and eased my loneliness, and I woke up temporarily healed.

Did my cells hear my dream? Were my nerves and my muscles and my bones soothed by the memory of my vivid healing imagery late into the night all those years ago? Was my pain quieted by a healing sleeping fantasy? I will never know.

I was reminded that things CAN get better even when it seems they can’t.

This experience in the morning in its symbolic realness, instilled a deeper sense of hope into me. I thought that pain was literally impossible to heal, to get to go completely away. Not always necessarily in a negative way, not always despair. I thought it was just something I had to always live with constantly being there. It wasn’t all bad.

But this situation helped me realize that even when something feels impossible or like it can never get better, it can! Even severe depression, suicidal urges and thoughts and other unpleasant situations that feel hopeless and literally impossible to make better, they can get better. Even if a situation or chronic pain can’t get better or won’t for whatever reason, we can learn to live with it and be happy anyway.

Be happy anyway.

Find joy anyway. Find beauty anywhere.

In all its colors and forms and feelings.

I was reminded of this life lesson today.

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I hope you will tune into reminders and little messages of hope all around you. Sometimes they come easily, out of the blue, and sometimes we have to force ourselves to see.

But they are there. Little gems of hope all around. We can find hope in the early morning Sun, the Moon in the midst of all that celestial darkness, hope in the thousands of twinkling stars up above, hope in the gentle Spring that blooms to life after a long cold barren Winter, hope in the dead of Winter, glistening in the snow and frost, hope in the beauty of Fall, the crisp wind and leaves that adorn the ground and streets, hope in the soft rhythm of Summer’s sweet song, the warmth of the beams of golden sun that caress the living flowers and trees, hope in the pulsation of your heart and the rhythm of your breath. Hope in the life that breathes in you.

“I told her once I wasn’t good at anything. She told me survival is a talent.”
Susanna Kaysen, “Girl, Interrupted”

Xoxo Kim

On Pain {Norman Vincent Peale}

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“You can be greater than anything that can happen to you.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

Last night I posted something about my experience with unbearable physical pain. 
It is super long and much longer than I would have liked it to be but I wanted to share much of my experience with the agony to get the point across and express my pain.
I want to thank the people who read/liked it. Thank You so much! I appreciate it deeply. I know most people don’t care to read extra extra long posts and most of my posts will not be that long. 😀 Only when I have a real lot to say all at once. Lol

Here is another post on pain. You don’t have to read my previous post to make sense of this one. 

It’s interesting how an extremely painful experience can humble us, deepen our empathy, allow us to be more in touch with and aware of the pain and joy of the world but it can also go the other way. It can lead some to become arrogant in certain ways with a hardened heart, less empathetic, less patient with those who seem to not have experienced as much pain. It can trigger some people to sometimes regard other people’s problems as trivial or not as worthy of compassion compared to their own extreme pain. I don’t think that reaction is wrong or that all people who think that way are completely heartless or that we should all have the same empathetic reaction, necessarily. It’s just my observation.

I can completely understand how someone’s pain or sickness is so bad the person just wants to scoff at someone whining over something so frivolous it seems ridiculous next to what that person is experiencing. I’m not innocent of this myself on some occasions.

We all react in our own way, ways that are best or appropriate or come easily for us based on our experiences and ways of coping, we’re all different and handle things differently and I don’t try to force people to be a certain way or usually judge negatively for how someone else reacts when it’s not how I would react myself.  

Some people and some things people say are cold, heartless, callous, and outright cruel to others. And I don’t support or promote it but I understand not everyone will understand and care.  And I still embrace them in my universal love. 

My reaction to very painful experiences is almost always deeper empathy or becoming more in tune or aware or being reminded that there are so many others suffering like I am and worse and less who need all the love, compassion, and empathy they can receive. 

I don’t believe that physical pain is necessarily not as bad or is worse than emotional pain. They can both be severe, moderate, or mild, depending upon the kind of pain, the person, the coping mechanisms someone has and other circumstances. 

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I was reading words that inspired Norman Vincent Peale. He inspires me and I want to know what inspired him. 

I am not religious or spiritual in a way that has to do with the supernatural. I am an atheist. I don’t believe in the afterlife. But I find inspiration everywhere, even in religious writings and things that people who believe in some god or gods say. 

Norman Vincent Peale was a very religious Christian man and well known minister and he is known for his work, “The Power of Positive Thinking.”

I came across his words on pain & suffering.

“Pain and suffering have wracked humanity throughout history. Evidence of arthritis has been discovered in the earliest skeletons of the past. 
My friend Lloyd Ogilvie, distinguished pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, California, once said that he had learned several important lessons from personally experiencing pain and suffering. He found he grew the most spiritually during those ordeals.” ~Norman Vincent Peale

“No one welcomes pain. But, rightly faced, it can bring about great good. And we can triumph over it.”

He writes of Doug Williams, quarterback for the Washington Redskins, and how the man endured hours of dental surgery the day before the 1988 Superbowl football game. Then during the game, he injured his knee. But he still led the team to victory, breaking one record after another.

That is truly amazing!

Dr. Peale states that when we are struck by pain, we often ask the wrong questions, such as ‘why me?’ But more positive and productive questions are ‘What can I learn from this? What can I do about it? What can I accomplish in spite of it?’
There is deep wisdom in this and it’s so very motivational and helpful.

I have never asked “Why me?” I don’t want it to be anyone and it’s not “me” for any specific reason. I just got this disorder. It’s nothing personal against me, not a punishment I deserve. It’s just something going wrong in my body. Why not me? Why anyone? Because it’s the way our world works.

Some people get terrifying and agonizing sicknesses and disorders, both physical and mental, while others are blessed to never know that pain. But we are not victims unless we choose to be or unless we’re dead. To me, the only victims are dead. That’s not to say living people aren’t in despair and agony and are not suffering and do not deserve compassion. It’s to say no matter how dark it gets, no matter how deep the despair is, we can always choose to get up and pro-act as best as we can.

Here are some quotes Dr. Norman Peale loved by other people:

“In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these.” ~ Paul Harvey 

Yes! If you survived before, which you have since you’re here, surely you will survive again and again and again….when your pain comes in waves or clusters or patterns or just flares, just ride each wave like you’re on top of the world. As the Beach Boys say, catch a wave and you’re sittin’ on top of the world! Oh how easy it is to say and think this when things aren’t so bad but even in pain, sickness, fatigue, depression….it can be done. On a Facebook page for cluster headache support, education, and awareness, I saw this….

“On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for surviving bad days so far is 100% and that’s pretty good.”

“It takes more distress and poison to kill someone who has peace of mind and loves life.” ~ Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.

Yup! Physical pain and illness are not depression or a negative attitude. They can contribute to and trigger that but they are not it. They can be separated.  It’s important to keep in mind that we CAN be happy and joyful even in pain. There is still beauty. We may sometimes have to look harder but it’s there. Even with emotional pain, we can train our brains to seek out beauty and some sense of joy even when it’s hard.

“Diseases can be our spiritual flat tires – disruptions in our lives that seem to be disasters at the time but end by redirecting our lives in a meaningful way.” ~ Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.

Again, pain of any kind can teach us, strengthen us, deepen us, and guide us.

“One cannot get through life without pain….What we can do is choose how to use the pain life presents to us.” ~ Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.

This says it all! 😀 Let’s take all of our pain and struggles and use it all to our advantage. 

I found a few things that help me cope with the pain and the psychological consequences of having an extremely painful disorder. One of them is art journaling, writing, painting, gluing, arts & crafts…another is reading positive quotes and other things and sharing them. This also helps with my depressive disorder. Sometimes just seeing a positive quote uplifts me even when I’m not feeling it completely. 
We don’t always have to be or feel positive but it’s good in general to maintain a positive attitude, in my opinion. 
And sharing quotes and happy photos to help others helps me also. I don’t share positive things to pretend everything is good, I share them because it really helps me often and it can inspire anyone who may see it. Also I try to find songs about physical pain to help me cope, there’s one called “Headache” by Frank Black and one called “Touch Me I’m Sick” by Mudhoney. And one called “Novocaine” by Green Day which may be about emotional pain but it can also apply to physical pain.

“Take away the sensation inside
Bitter sweet migraine in my head
Its like a throbbing tooth ache of the mind
I can’t take this feeling anymore
Drain the pressure from the swelling,
The sensations overwhelming”

Don’t I know it!

 And one by Alice Cooper called “Pain” about all kinds of pain. Alice is singing as if he is Pain itself singing. 
“You know me, I’m pain.” 
“It’s a compliment to me to hear you scream me through the night, all night, tonight.” 
“I’m pain
I’m your pain
Unspeakable pain
I’m your private pain”

He also has one called, “The Sharpest Pain” not really about physical pain but still, deep, agonizing pain.

Lol what a gloomy subject to be writing about but pain is part of being alive. Sometimes, even sharp, aching, throbbing, burning, wretched, overwhelming pain.

Much love, hope, strength, comfort, joy, and healing to you who are reading this no matter what your situation is.

Xoxo Kim 😀