Tag Archive | lessons

Serendipitous Strength

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(that’s fake blood on my face for a haunted house attraction for Halloween)

I love funny and silly surveys for blogs and Facebook, like a list of weird, stupid, funny questions…would you rather be ridiculously rich financially but butt ugly physically or amazingly gorgeous, beautiful beyond belief physically but dirt poor financially? Would you rather eat hair or lick a toilet seat? Would you rather be in a dark, creepy room alone or in a well lit room with Michael Jackson? lol They’re funny questions. I would choose to be poor and beautiful. And I would lick the toilet seat over eating hair any day. Loose hair is disgusting. Aack! And I like Michael Jackson but not creepy dark rooms alone so I would choose the lit up room with him. ;-D

But anyway….i came across this question 

Would you rather be buried alive or stabbed to death? 

Horrible thought, right?! 

But I find it enlightening. It provoked me even more to think about the strength deep within me that I accidentally found and accidentally developed.

I would choose to be buried alive. 

Not so long ago, I couldn’t even imagine saying that. I just couldn’t imagine.

 First of all, if I am buried alive, maybe I can find a way out or someone can find me before it’s too late. Being stabbed is so violent! 
There are rare(at least I hope being buried alive is rare!!!) cases where someone has been buried alive and somehow escaped or was found before it was too late. 

I used to have an extreme fear of being closed in with or without others there with me. Closed in anywhere. Even a large room or building. I would avoid closed in places like the plague. Then my fear got somewhat better when I was eighteen years old in college. In this one building I wasn’t aware that we were allowed to use the stairs. It turns out, we actually were but I never knew til a long while later. Everyday I had to go in that building I had to desperately hope there were others waiting to go on the elevator when I was because I couldn’t bring myself to go on alone. I used to go early and just linger around the hall waiting for someone who was going on. (creepy, right?! :-O lol) I never said that I was waiting. Just when I saw someone going on, I would too. If the person got off before the floor I was going to, I would get off too then walk up the steps to the floor I was going. 

 Then I met a girl. One who had the same class and we got talking to each other and I found that she had the same problem! 
One day I got to the elevator and she was waiting too! And she told me she’s seriously afraid of small places and won’t get on without someone else! What are the chances?! I was embarrassed at first and wouldn’t really tell people but I opened up about it when I met her.

We conquered our fear together. 😀

I always thought of this fear as a weakness and never met anyone else that I knew of who has it this bad, my dad is like this but his never seemed as bad. Everyone I knew could get on with no problem, it seemed.

And when I met her, I was sooo happy! Lol Also, we were both very shy until getting to know someone better but we both had no problem with public speaking because it’s just something we had to do for class. We both loved meeting people we never met but were often too shy to initiate socialization first. But somehow we found each other! I haven’t seen or talked to her in many, many years. But the impact is everlasting. ❤

After that, I got more used to going in small places, elevators with people and I was mostly only panicked when I was closed in alone. Before that, I would avoid elevators at all costs and shake at the very thought of them or seeing them in movies. I often had nightmares of being closed in or trapped somewhere alone.
I couldn’t even stand walking by elevators or being in the same building with one. This was always the only thing that scared me about hospitals. I would shake walking through narrow staircases even with people. I felt like my body was turning to jelly. 

One day when I was a teenager I had to get on an elevator alone. I was in the US Constitution Center at some event and the only way to leave the building was to get on an elevator. They said I had no choice. There was no one else around and the security guard said I had to get on the elevator so I did. I went into a serious panic and I pressed my fingernails into the skin over my hip bone and just kept scratching until it bled and the doors opened. I was so scared, that was just what I did, unconsciously.

I never worked on this fear specifically but during my personal development journey, my quest to find healing, working on myself to help heal my depression and cope with tmjd “cluster headaches” without realizing it, I was conquering my fear of being closed in. With my personal development plan I teach myself and train my brain to know I can handle and conquer anything. To know I will always be free no matter what position I’m in in this life. To know life is a gift no matter what. To see positivity and opportunity in any situation no matter how dreadful.  I trained my brain with meditation and quotes and music and songs and writing to stay calm and composed for the most part, in any situation no matter what, no matter how painful physically or emotionally. I still struggle with this a bit sometimes, especially with severe physical pain. I’m much better at handling deep emotional pain than very severe physical pain. A certain level of physical pain that I experience occasionally can still seem too much to bear. 

It’s at a frightening level and it’s not common that people ever feel it to this extent. Not even prescription pain pills can touch it. 
But I work on myself constantly and even when I’m freaking out aggressively over a tmjd cluster headache, I still keep telling myself I will survive. 
I was trying to heal my depression and cope with it and cope with those head attacks.

And much to my amazement this was helping me all along with my fear! My phobia(i wasn’t actually diagnosed with a phobia but it may have met the criteria, I don’t know for sure) wasn’t destroying my life usually, because I was just able to mostly avoid small places but there were some occasions I couldn’t and had to be closed in somewhere.

Some people have a phobia where they can’t avoid the thing they fear or even if they can they can’t help but dwell on it constantly and it runs their lives. That was never me but there are occasions I embarrassed myself in public, especially as a kid, when I had to go on elevators or narrow staircases. And occasions I was extremely fearful knowing I had to go in a large building where there’s elevators. Somewhat recently I went on a job interview. I did not get the job but I had to go on an elevator by myself, they wouldn’t let me on the stairs going up, I asked, I was told no. I wanted to run out but I had the interview scheduled and I knew it wouldn’t be good to have them waiting and I never show up, years ago I would have been out the door so fast with the interview the last thing on my mind. So I reluctantly got on the elevator, alone, and while my heart started to speed a bit because of being closed in and for a few seconds I was overwhelmed in immense fear, like panic, I handled it so well. No panic. No breakdown. Just staying calm. It was so surprising. And just as much of an accomplishment as getting a job! Maybe more?
It wasn’t a happenstance. I worked to get to this point. (though unknowingly lol) I am so strong now. In so many ways.

 Then leaving the building I had a choice to take the stairs or the elevator. Just a couple years ago I would have taken the stairs without a second thought. Even last year. But on the interview I made the CHIOCE to take the elevator alone to get more practice and was even more calm than the first occasion going up! What a great accomplishment for me! 
It may not seem that big to some people but for someone like me, it is a tremendous thing.

Also I don’t like closing doors to small rooms even in my own house but in the bathroom there are parakeets flying around and we have to close the door. I was getting a shower one day and had to close the door. The handle is broke and I got locked in! I went into a bit of a panic. Not a full blown panic, but an intense fear, I guess you can say.  Not how people with panic attacks do. Not that bad. But I was pulling the door and banging on it hoping someone would hear. No one did. But I calmed down and reminded myself. Life is beautiful no matter what. I have the sunlight streaming in the window, I have my senses, the parakeets, meditation, Buddhism and Stoicism ….the window is too small for me to fit through so that wasn’t an option. And it’s on the second floor, it wouldn’t be safe to jump. I don’t want broken bones or whatever. But just some years ago I would have jumped if I could, risking injuries. I was there for like 20 minutes before I finally got the door open.

A couple nights ago I went to the Philadelphia Eastern State Penitentiary with my sister and my dad for the Haunted attraction. It’s a real abandoned prison that is in a state of semi-ruin, almost 200 years old. It’s said by ghost investigators to be truly haunted all year. Lol  It’s open all year but the rest of the year is just a prison exhibit to learn of its history, which is very interesting.

For the Halloween attraction every October, we get to walk through the dark prison inside and out in the courtyards when it’s at night, in groups. It has lights flashing, people screaming, monsters walking around, “prisoners” trying to attack us through their cells, monsters, all kinds of creepy, scary stuff. There’s lock down, the infirmary, night watch, an abandoned bus in a junkyard and other attractions we walk through. Things randomly and unexpectedly jump out at us, sometimes screaming and with weapons! There’s 3D things and people jumping through walls at us. They come right up to us with weapons holding them over our heads or up to our faces. Lol Isn’t it insane that people actually take pleasure in this? But something about a certain kind of fear is quite thrilling for people. Like amusement park rides and sky diving. And scary movies & books.
Also, I think our brains are not aware of the difference of what is real and what is not. Seeing, hearing horror in movies and things, the human brain cannot distinguish the difference. We know it’s not real but some part of our brain does not know and it has a negative/fearful effect on is, even later. That’s why too much fake horror isn’t good for us. I used to have a psychiatrist who told me that and I noticed it too when I read too many horror books close together. It has an unpleasant effect. He advised me to avoid fake horror all together. It’s not good for anyone and especially those prone to anxiety or depressive conditions.

It’s fun. And scary. I’m not afraid of monsters and ghosts and stuff but it’s kind of startling to have people looking all dead with blood all over them, screaming and with weapons jumping out in the dark at me with just an eerie glow around the prison.

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(inside the prison – imagine walking up this long hallway knowing at any moment something or someone can and probably will jump out at you. Lol creepy!)

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(it was the perfect night for a haunted house – or prison – because there was a full Moon or almost full Moon and I kept seeing it when we walked in and out of the prison into the courtyards)

They’re not allowed to touch us and we are not allowed to touch them. But this year they had something different where the bravest of the brave can wear a bright pink glow necklace they give us and this gives the monsters (the actors working in the prison) permission to touch us, grab us, snatch us, hold us back, separate us so we lose our groups, toss us into secret passageways, and do other terrible stuff. I haven’t been there in a couple years until a couple nights ago. So this was new to me.

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I love haunted houses and stuff but my one fear has always been being separated and ending up in a small, dark place alone. This still scares me. I fear dark places as well but not as much as small or closed in places. 

But I decided to be brave that night and wear the necklace. I was abducted, strangled, held back, got my hair pulled, forced by two monster dentists to sit in a dentists chair so they can pull out all my teeth…they put the loud thing all the way to my mouth then I escaped! 

I was almost forced into a small cell and into a weird tunnel but I ran screaming. And the monsters laughed at me. Lol

Most people did not take the necklaces and some who did decided to take them off and toss them so the monsters could no longer touch them. Even my dad took his off and hid it.

Chicken shits. Lol ;-D

I was one of the brave few who kept mine on throughout the entire prison, not once taking it off. Yay me! Lol Although at one point the thought occurred to me but I sucked it up and kept going. 

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(me with my medal of honor lol)

It took balls. Especially when most people were not wearing them so there was not many choices for the monsters and so the few of us who were wearing them were the ones who kept getting all the attention. At one point I was the only one wearing a necklace where I was and two monsters came up and said since I was the only one wearing one right there,  I was the “chosen one.” I was snatched while everyone around me ran away, even my dad and sister (thanks everyone! Lol) and had my hand held under some device that came down and was supposed to pierce my hand but when it touched me it was just rubber. Lol The thought of it was scary but I knew they couldn’t really injure me. But it’s sometimes difficult to shake the “what if…” paranoid thoughts in these situations. “What if a crazed person got in and switched the fake torture device to a real one??” “What if there’s a mistake and I accidentally get crushed or trapped somewhere??” but those are just fleeting thoughts and not really serious. 

I knew I could have been dragged and possibly tossed into a secret, small, dark place alone. But I took the chance. I would have NEVER ever been able to make that choice, probably even a year ago.

The thing that really inspired me to take and wear the necklace is in the beginning a monster said “you came here for fear so get all the fear you can get…” encouraging us to take the glow necklace. This also inspires me in general, to take advantage of every opportunity in life to live to the fullest, whatever “the fullest” is to me at that moment. To soak up all I can, all the thrills, the beauty, and feeling there is to feel. 

Being alive is an opportunity to take in everything we can, to feel. To live. To experience. To grow. To love. To make mistakes. To learn. To feel pain and beauty, sorrow and joy. Misery and happiness. To take full advantage of our senses. 

I been to this prison for the Halloween attraction a couple occasions years ago. The first day I went for the haunted attraction I was hugging, holding hands with, and clinging to people I did not know. Lol It was my first year in college, I was eighteen years old, and I went as a group with other college students, all girls and one boy. The boy wanted us to go first because he said he was the only boy. But we told him no, since he’s the boy he had to be in the front.
Lol we were holding onto each other like our lives depended on it.

It’s one of my favorite memories. And after the event was over and we were walking up the dark street outside the prison, a drunk person jumped out at us and we all screamed. He wasn’t trying to scare us and just looked at us like we were all nuts. 

Now, being buried alive would be way, way more terrifying than going on an elevator for less than a minute! And being locked in a room.
And way more horrifying than a fun tour through a haunted prison for Halloween.

 But I know now that I would survive emotionally as long as I survived physically. I would go into a deep meditation and have my Buddhist and stoic principles and my life philosophy and inner Truth, my authentic Self  to help guide me til I become physically free. I would still be frightened and panicked at some points. And maybe feel as if I can’t go on but I know I can. I have my life philosophy that I work on every single day without fail.  I can survive anything as long as I stay alive. As long as I’m free in my mind, I am free. Truly free. You can be free too if you’re not already, with lots of hard work and practice. We don’t have to allow anything or anyone to restrain us.

If you work to heal one aspect of yourself you can be strengthening yourself in deep ways you don’t even realize in other aspects as well.

I want this for everyone. Whatever pain, physical or emotional, whatever fear or problems, I want us all to find a way to conquer it. A way to cope. There was a point where I never ever thought I could ever heal my suicidal depression but I did. I never knew I can get better. It’s like a completely different world I live in every day now. One of love and light. I do still have days, hours, weeks, and months of despair, deep suicidal depression. I have days where I’m genuinely happy the whole day almost, but have random depressive thoughts and suicidal urges coming at me uncontrollably for what reason I don’t know. Sometimes triggered by something, occasionally not provoked by anything I’m consciously aware of.

But for the most part I am so happy and free. I am not cured. I will never be cured. I’m sure of it. But that thought no longer generally restrains me. I am open to being cured but I won’t count on it anymore. But I got better. I never ever thought my fear of being closed in could be vanquished but it is. It’s also not completely cured. My heart still races in small or narrow places, sometimes I still think there’s no way I can be closed in alone and survive with my sanity intact, I still avoid closed in spaces for the most part, but I conquered it and can handle it now. ME! I can’t even believe it!
And the tmjd cluster headaches I have which feel like cluster headaches, also known as “suicide headaches” and are not really headaches but head attacks. Like the worst toothache and earache imaginable but worse mixed with a severe burning sensation in the face, head, eye, temple. A literal hell that lasts for hours. Like a hot poker being driven through my eye socket and being held there for hours. Like my eyeball being gauged out of its socket through the back of my head. For hours. I never thought I can ever handle this. But I do. I survive each one. Not always without screaming uncontrollably for hours until I lose my voice. But I survive. There are people who have died by suicide not because of depression or any mental illness but because the physical pain seemed too much to bear. When I’m having those “headaches” sometimes I do think about ending my life even when I’m not depressed or miserable at all, because the physical pain seems unbearable like it has to end right then. That’s not the way to go. I can survive. This is the most difficult pain to cope with usually, luckily it’s not always frequent. Pain is but not to this level.

So if you are ever in a situation you are 100% convinced without a doubt you can’t or won’t survive, remember, it feels that way, it’s not true. I never knew I can ever survive the depression and tmjd cluster headaches but somehow I do. I survive each one. My conviction was deep, that I couldn’t survive but I do survive and now my conviction is even deeper that I can and will survive whatever comes my way.

And you can too, whatever it is. It can get better.  <333 ❤ Much love, hope, & strength 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.

Celebrate & Love the Authentic YOU <3

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“Ask a flower in the field: ‘Do you feel useful? After all, you do nothing but produce the same flowers over and over?’ And the flower will answer: ‘I am beautiful, and beauty is my reason for living.’ Ask the river: ‘Do you feel useful, given that all you do is to keep flowing in the same direction?’ And the river will answer: ‘I’m not trying to be useful, I’m trying to be a river.’

Don’t try to be useful. Try to be yourself: that is enough, and that makes all the difference.

Walk neither faster nor slower than your own soul. Because it is your soul that will teach you the usefulness of each step you take. Sometimes taking part in a great battle But sometimes you can do that simply by smiling, for no reason, at someone you happen to pass in the street. Without intending to, you might have saved the life of a complete stranger, who also thought he was useless and might have been ready to kill himself, until a smile gave him new hope and confidence.”

Except of “Manuscript found in Accra”

Isn’t it beautiful?!

I woke up one morning, maybe two days ago, to a Positively Positive post in my e-mail box that I just find to be lovely. 

Why “I Am Beautiful” Is A Problematic Statement For My 3-Year-Old

http://www.positivelypositive.com/2014/06/12/why-i-am-beautiful-is-a-problematic-statement-for-my-3-year-old/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+positivelypositive%2Fpositive+(Positively+Positive)

I had much difficulty sleeping for a couple nights because of my chronic pain disorder. I wasn’t viewing this painful experience in a positive or negative way, I was just taking it as it is. Just excruciatingly painful. It was making me sickly, fatigued, exhausted, yet, I couldn’t sleep well. I woke up after an extremely restless two and a half hours of sleep feeling drained, uninspired, dull, ragged, and wrung. At least I wasn’t hopeless or depressed though so that’s good.

😀

But when I read this post, I was inspired. It’s about how we don’t have to accept other people’s (or society as a whole) definition of us or labels we are branded with. Even positive labels such as “beautiful” or “perfect” “amazing.” You can just be YOU and that’s good enough. 

Even positive labels and words we believe describe us well, can be detrimental if we feel we must live up to them so that people will continue to like us or so that we don’t have an identity crisis if that (positive) label begins to no longer apply to us.

We shouldn’t have to feel that we must live up to someone else’s definition of us. Or even our own definition of us if that definition is no longer or never was appropriate or for the best. We don’t have to accept or adhere to certain labels or descriptions people slap onto us, good or bad.

In this Positively Positive post, this mother’s three year old little girl rejects being called “beautiful” by her mother. Not necessarily because she doesn’t believe she, herself, is beautiful, but because she doesn’t care about being anything but herself. So many words, with positive and negative connotations alike, can apply to all of us. But we are still just us.  She reminds her mom that she’s not “beautiful,” she’s Summer, Summer which is the child’s name.

And that’s good enough.

And always will be good enough.

We don’t have to live up to any label that doesn’t serve us well. Not even labels we gave ourselves, ones which were at one point, good for us.

In high school and middle school, for a couple years I was considered “smart.” I got all A’s and B’s and never needed much help with my school work to maintain slightly above average grades. Other kids knew me for being “smart” and I took on the label for myself. I felt much pressure to maintain a “smart” image and receive the same grades or better on each report card. Sometimes I really did need help, especially with math. It was difficult for me but I feared that if I asked for help, I wouldn’t be the “smart” girl any longer. Then one day I got my report card and received a “C” in Algebra in 10th grade.

I only valued myself for being “smart.” My sense of identify and self worth shattered. I thought so low of myself and wondered what others would think of me once I told them. I was no longer the “smart” girl. Then what was I? Who was I? I was still me. The same me I always was, am now, and always will be. I just never realized it then.

Sometimes even now I have certain words I love to label myself with. “Happy” “Cheerful” “Positive” “Optimistic” “Someone who is so happy to be alive.”

And the list goes on. And while generally these labels very much apply to me, they don’t always. I’m not always happy or cheerful or positive. And when I am not experiencing those feelings or traits, am I still me? Of course I am!

I may experience a mini identity crisis when I feel as if I’m not living up to the me I try to create myself to be, the me most people know me as. But I’m still that me. Traits, emotions, thoughts, qualities, labels, feelings…fluctuate and change but deep inside we are still us.

Deep inside, there is some immutable essence that will always be me. Always be you. Even when your thoughts, feelings, and qualities change for better and for worse.

You’re beautiful because you’re you. Not because you’re thin. Or curvy, have long hair or short hair, not because of your intelligence or your ability to solve problems, not because you’re some definition of perfect or always happy or always helpful or always inspired or inspiring…your beauty is everything you are, all rolled into one, good and bad, together, flaws, perfections, mutable traits and all.

You can label yourself but let those labels change when they no longer serve you and know that’s ok.

Give your name its own definition. One that fits you well. One that you create for yourself.

It’s beautiful what a three year old little girl and her mom can teach & remind us, even a three year old little girl and her mama we never laid eyes on in person.

Xoxo Kim

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When I Becomes We <3

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

I wrote a couple of posts here previously about Dr. Daniel Gottlieb, a Philadelphia psychologist. He is one of my greatest inspirations. He suffered devastating tragedies in his life and was able to rise above and help others. He experienced divorce, grief and loss, and suffered a tragic, near fatal  accident when he was thirty years old that rendered him permanently paralyzed, with a broken neck, afflicted with quadriplegia, which is paralysis, at the torso and all the limbs.   

He suffered with suicidal depression after that but found deep healing. He is able to use his life lessons to help people with various struggles, severe struggles and just every day life, “ordinary” struggles most of us face now and again. He has a young grandson with Autism who teaches Dr. Gottlieb so much about life.. He even wrote a couple books about the wisdom his young grandson teaches him.

I read his writings quite frequently and have a couple of his books. And tomorrow Dr. Gottlieb is having a book signing event at Barnes & Nobles in Center City, Philadelphia for his newest book!!! I’m so happy and thrilled!!! I’m going!!!

It will be so amazing to finally meet him in person after reading so much by him, sharing his inspiration frequently, and being deeply inspired by his life.

One thing Dr. Gottlieb teaches us is how we can connect with each other through our basic humanness, disability, illness or not, we are all human, all with basic needs and desires, a deep longing to connect. His lesson is not unlike Dr. Leo Buscaglia’s message about how deep inside we are the same, human and we can connect in many ways even when barriers prevent more advanced communication. 

Dr. Dan doesn’t even care much to be referred to as “Doctor.” On his business cards he writes “human.”

Another of his lessons is that no matter what happens to us and how much we grieve over what we lost, we can still find happiness in the midst of pain and grief. Sometimes he wishes desperately that he can walk again and dance and he grieves deeply over his lost abilities but he can still be happy just as he is.

It’s ok to grieve and feel a deep sense of loss and longing and those experiences do not have to taint our general happiness and wellbeing. They dont have to be mutually exclusive.

He is so very humble.   He doesn’t make his life or pain out to be better or worse than anyone else’s. He knows we all have struggles, some worse than others but no one’s pain should be invalidated.

Another lesson he teaches us is positivity. He cannot move much and therefore his urinary bladder does not work as it did before his paralysis.   He needs a catheter since he cannot empty his bladder as people without physical disability can. The urine goes to the catheter and that gets emptied. He doesn’t have to use a toilet. He likes to remind “non disabled” people and anyone who can use a toilet that while they’re getting in and out of bed all night to empty their bladders the “normal” way, he is sleeping peacefully in bed. Lol He says this in a funny and playful way! Humor is also a great lesson he teaches us.

I love his sense of humor!

He teaches us that there’s little bits of Heaven here on Earth, all around us. We don’t have to die or go on vacation to experience Heaven. We often long for a vacation and look in awe and gratitude upon the sunset and land when we are not at home. But wherever we are, we look upon that same sunset, the same sky, the same Earth. Beauty is all around us. Right here. Right now.  

He teaches us that everyone’s needs are “special.” We all have some kind of needs. We all are dependent in some ways upon other people and things.

He teaches us about the good hope and the bad hope. Hopefulness is good. But putting off current happiness and peace of mind hoping for “better” isn’t good. For a couple of years Dr. Gottlieb desperately hoped he would walk again even though it’s impossible.   He put his life and happiness on hold hoping for “better” but he eventually found healing and hopelessness. The good kind of hopelessness that is acceptance, letting go, and liberation. 

You can read about some of this here:

http://www.temple.edu/medicine/dan_gottlieb_visit.htm

He teaches us to just sit with and be with our emotions. Not to repress or deny them. Just be. And so much more he teaches us.

His new book is “The Wisdom We’re Born With (Restoring Our Faith in Ourselves).”. It’s about the importance of living in the present moment, connecting with our own emotions, calming the unquiet mind, breaking bad habits, and the importance of love.

http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/event/82835

Here is a beautiful poem by Dr. Daniel Gottlieb about how we are all connected, we are all One with each other. It’s called “When I Becomes We.”
Click the link to read:

http://www.drdangottlieb.com/2014/02/14/poetry-when-i-becomes-we/#

Here are a few lines:

“…when “those” people become “my” people

when the person in the street with a Styrofoam cup becomes my brother or sister

when every hungry child becomes my child

then I will cry more and laugh more and love more…”

Beautiful, isn’t it?!

I’m so inspired.   And I hope you have found some inspiration here too.

&

And keep smiling. There’s beauty all around you, everywhere, everyday.

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Xoxo Kim 😀

Fifteen Happiness Killing Habits

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Here are some little habits that I believe get in the way of happiness & joy and cause unnecessary stress. I have done all of these and I think many or most people probably do a few of these every now and again. I think we should not make these things into serious habits and if they already are a bad habit for us, we can “unlearn” them. With practice, we can learn to avoid these happiness killers and cultivate positive habits instead.

1.) Overly comparing yourself with others
This is something so many of us do constantly.   I used to do this so much. We look at people around us, people on Facebook & blogs, coworkers, celebrities, peers, family members….and see how much “better” we think they have it. Everyone lives at their own pace and even some people who seem to “have it all”  are often unhappy and people with very little material objects & things can be very happy & fulfilled. If you catch yourself comparing yourself negatively to others, it may benefit you to stop and remind yourself of a few things that are going right for you and make that a habit until eventually the negative comparisons will mostly stop. Let us be inspired, motivated by, and in awe of other people’s successes and not jealous or depressed over them.  It’s better to focus on being better than your previous self, not better than someone else.  Dwelling on feeling low about your own life or self won’t help you. Change what you can if you really want to; it’s worth it! And accept what you can’t change!   Let you & your life be your own kind of beautiful! 

2.) Dwelling on or obsessing over what other people think 

It’s ok & healthy to care to a certain degree what others think of us but it should not be so important that it stresses us out or takes over our lives, making us deny or repress our true selves.  Everyone has good things & bad things, people who like them and people who don’t. It’s good to just focus on being our true selves no matter what.  What YOU think of you matters most! 🙂

3.) Putting happiness on hold until the “perfect” moment or until something big happens.

Often, we feel that we can’t or won’t be happy or we can’t celebrate life until….we have a better job, more money, lose five pounds, have kids, get married, graduate, get a work promotion, go on vacation, the weekend, next year…..and it’s ok to want and work for all of that but we should never let it take away right NOW.  Ordinary occurrences, days, & moments are just as important and are a true gift. Let’s not lose them for something “bigger & better.”
Wear your favorite earrings, your favorite clothes, buy yourself flowers, NOW!
 Celebrate NOW. Celebrate you.  Celebrate life itself.   Be happy NOW!.   ;-D

4.) holding onto grudges 

Almost everyone has been or will be hurt in some way by someone else. It may be a small way or in a significant, tragic, life-changing way. I don’t believe that forgiveness is always necessary but whether or not we completely forgive, we should not let what someone did to us, destroy us. We can let go or find ways to cope with the hostile feelings we have for people who hurt us and not dwell on the person or incident.   Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean believing what the person did is ok, it means we choose to no longer let it have a hold on us.
You don’t have to love or accept the person, just let go for yourself. And accept yourself!

5.) getting wrapped up in trivial arguments/not letting things slide 

Some things really have to be confronted but many things can be let go before anything even begins…maybe a rude comment made by someone, a stranger pushing you out of the way on a crowded bus, someone accusing you of being wrong about something trivial when you know you’re right, someone trying to start a frivolous argument with you….these things can often be brushed off and are often not even worthy of your attention.  Definitely stand up for yourself, express yourself, have a backbone but there’s no need to blow things out of proportion. Some things can be ignored so we can move forward and get on with our lives. 
It may appear to be a “weakness” on your part or like the other person got over on you but I believe just the opposite. When you can maintain your composure and keep calm in and out that is a true strength and no one got over on you! When you get all worked up and furious then someone got over on you. Even if you punch the person in the face or yell insults, you let your anger get the better of you.

6.) doing things for people just for “credit” or appearance or for something in return 

Being “fake” and acting kind & friendly to people just for a certain reputation or to get stuff out of it is likely to leave someone feeling unfulfilled. If you really just don’t care about being kind to people, helping others, maybe you can find something else you love instead of putting on a show. Doing something you don’t like, pretending to be someone you aren’t can make you feel hollow inside.   Emptiness is an unpleasant emotion. And as the saying goes, it’s better to be hated for what you are than loved for what you are not. It’s so true, imo.
I think we should help others because we genuinely want to even if no one knows and even if we don’t get tangible rewards out of it. Helping people is beautiful!   And helping animals too!

7.) being too concerned with money

It’s ok to want & work for money but it’s not the best thing in life, in my opinion anyway. There are more fulfilling things, like rewarding jobs helping people or ones that are fun and interesting, even if they are low paying jobs. We don’t have to be stacked to be happy! ;-D. We can do volunteer work or paid word that is truly rewarding. This is just my opinion. I think some people feel like they need money to be happy when if they look within themselves they’ll see it’s not so true. But if someone really is interested in money more than anything and has no problem with that and is fulfilled anyway, that’s ok! Whatever floats your boat! 
:-D. As long as you’re truly fulfilled!

8.) Dwelling on lack  & loss instead of abundance & gratitude 

We all lack something & will eventually lose something.   And we can dwell on that if we want to. But we also have so much to be grateful for and can dwell on that instead! 

“You can cling to your loss or learn to dance again.”
This can be difficult but it is possible with practice & a positive frame of mind. 

This quote helped me tremendously when my grief over the loss of my dog was overwhelming me, many months later. I think it may be a biblical/spiritual quote. I’m not religious or anything but I still find beauty and inspiration in some religious/spuritual stuff. I still have difficulty coping with the loss of my dog in April 2013. But it helps me to focus on what I do have.

You can work for more while still Acknowledging and appreciating what you currently have.

9.) being stuck in the past or obsessing over the future

Remembering & planning is good. But we are alive now and should not let our past imprison us either by regretting it frequently or mourning it and we don’t have to fear the unknown of the future or put happiness on hold for it.

10.) resisting the flow of life/reality

We should definitely work to make things better. But life will always be happy & sad, positive & negative, pleasant & unpleasant & joyful & painful. That can’t be changed. Not all bad can be eradicated. Some things just have to be accepted for peace of mind. We should in no way ignore or deny negativity or pain, just accept it and embrace it when it can’t be changed.

11.) taking life too seriously.

Some things just have to be laughed at, joked about, and let go. Everything doesn’t have to be a big thing to get angry over, stress over, break down over & held on to. Don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff! 😉

12.) perpetuating gossip/drama:
Even if you yourself aren’t into gossip & drama, as long as you live and interact with people, at one point or another you will probably encounter someone who spreads gossip about you or tries to bring drama to you one way or another. I see so frequently on Facebook, usually girl’s, posting statuses like “She’s talking shit about me again..blah blah blahhh…” & “Shut your mouth instead of blabbing stuff about my life….” & “People are talking so much about me and I’m tired of the drama….” & “I want to punch her in the face or bitch slap her….”.
Some of these girls probably really are innocent “victims” of someone gossiping and being dramatic and want nothing to do with it and are just venting  but when I see statuses like that I often think that many of these girls secretly like being the “victim” of it or engaging in it and they want everyone on their list to see that they have something going on in their lives. They often don’t post names but just allude to someone. If you really don’t like gossip & drama, I believe that it’s best not to even post statuses like that at all and either ignore the gossipers & drama queens or confront them in a calm civil manner & just focus on being a great person yourself. Even if you don’t post names, you’re still engaging in & perpetuating it. I don’t mind seeing these statuses at all, they have nothing to do with me and I can always block or “x” the person’s posts out if I want. People can post whatever they want on their account but my point is that negative girly gossip & drama can stress us out & in my opinion isn’t at all attractive or interesting. Those have to be some of the most boring statuses I have ever read. But some people really take pleasure in them. Whatever floats your boat! :-D. I’m not innocent of those posts, I have posted a couple some years ago on rare occasions and it brought me nothing good.

13.) Harboring excessive or delusional guilt: Sometimes we may feel guilty when our lives are going well and tragedy has struck somewhere else. But repressing our own gratitude will not help in any way. It’s ok to be happy even when others aren’t. We can have empathy & compassion for them and reach out to them while still embracing our own lives.  
We don’t have to be “in their faces” with how great it’s all going for us but we don’t have to feel guilty and repress our own happiness either. We can find a healthy balance when being around people who are suffering when we are not.
And if you unintentionally hurt someone and are truly sorry, forgive yourself even if that person doesn’t.   We all make some kind of mistakes.   And if you hurt someone intentionally, still, you deserve your own forgiveness. You can learn, realize you were wrong, and move forward with true intentions to not hurt people on purpose again. 
You cannot take responsibility for the entire world or everyone you know. Go easy on yourself.   You can’t do everything, cure everyone, or help everyone.   Just be the best you that you can be without trying for some objective sense of Perfection.   

14.) Obsessing over/attempting perfection :

No one can be perfect in everyone’s eyes and even if we could, we shouldn’t try, in my opinion. We should just consciously be our authentic selves. Perfection is actually subjective for the most part. What’s perfect to me may not be to you.   Why be my definition of perfect?   Or Society’s? Or your friends’, family’s, or lover’s? Making some compromises to be compatible with others is sometimes a very good thing but denying your whole true self or most of yourself for someone else is detrimental to you. You are just as important as anyone else.

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.
Harvey Fierstein 

15.) Treating yourself horribly/thinking/talking negatively in reference to yourself:  

Many people mistreat themselves terribly in ways they would never dream of treating others. They verbally abuse themselves frequently with words like “Stupid,” “fat,” “loser,” “no good,” and the list goes on…..

Would you call your best friend “fat” or your mom? Do you constantly call your friends “stupid” not just in a playful way but seriously to offend?   Probably not. And you shouldn’t do that to yourself!   You are no less than anyone else! Instead when you catch yourself calling yourself insults or thinking negatively about yourself whether it’s true or not, think of how you can work on yourself to change for the better.  If you really think you’re stupid see what you can do to not feel that way. And when you think of Negative words about yourself, then think of three or more positive qualities you possess. And if there’s ones you would like to have but feel that you don’t yet have them, think of ways you can work on yourself to develop or strengthen them. But don’t abuse yourself. 
I have worked hard to change certain ways and things I think about me. Years ago I constantly referred to myself as a “loser,” “piece of shit,” “worthless,” “taking up more space then I deserve in this world,” and I would frequently say and think things like “I would rather be dead!” or “If that ever happens I will die!” 
Now I do not say or think those things. Not even in jest. It’s not funny and even as a joke it may unconsciously bring me down.

Habits can be intentionally and unintentionally learned and ingrained.   And they can be un-learned with practice and conscious application.   It is definitely worth the work!

“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.”
John Lennon 

If you have any you would like to share, you can post in the comments section! I would love to know! 😀

Thank You!!!!!!

Much love & happiness to you!

Xoxo Kim

Pain & my gratitude list for today

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“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

I am struggling hard with a somewhat severe flare up of my facial pain disorder. It’s not as bad as it tends to get sometimes but it’s bad. I had difficulty sleeping last night because the Throbbing pain kept me awake. My jaw locked shut and I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to even fit my soda bottle into it.  The chronic pain disorder that I have (TMJD) sometimes causes sufferers to experience the locking of their jaw either locked shut or open.  

It’s literally physically locked and can’t be forced open/closed until it decides to on its own. There’s no known cure or definite effective treatment. Most of the best treatments seem to be home remedies such as heating pads and cold packs, facial massages, stretches, avoiding certain things like gum chewing and hard food, avoiding stress because that tends to aggravate it…

My pain disorder is the most physically painful experience of my life. I’m not constantly in severe agony like some people but I am in pain more often than not and it flares up every now and again to severe agony that is debilitating and seemingly unbearable.  

I struggled with this since I was a little girl but I had no idea what it is or that all the symptoms I experience are connected. I thought it was a sinus/ear condition complication since I used to have recurrent ear and sinus infections and my pain disorder affects those parts of the body. I was always afraid to tell my mom about my weird, confusing symptoms.

My left arm goes dead/weak, I experience sudden and temporary deafness, searing pain like a very severe tooth/ear/sinus ache all over my face, jaw, ears, around my eyes, temples, and now my neck, shoulders, head, and down my left arm. It used to only be on the left side of my body, now it’s on my right side as well.

My condition got worse and worse through the years until a couple years ago it became unbearable to me. I would scream out loud for hours through the night into the early morning until my throat was raw and sore and my mouth tasted like blood.   Sometimes I couldn’t even scream or cry, all I could do was squeeze the bars on my bed with one hand and hold my throbbing face in the other and writhe in agony.  

Physical pain frightens me when it reaches a certain point. I begin to panic. I have always been this way and I don’t know why. So when it flares up really bad, I am scared out of my mind. Every year I develop another symptom. When a doctor told me what this condition is I struggle with, it was one of the worst moments of my life. It felt like my life was shattered to pieces. That was around when my depressive disorder was really starting to get better in general. I was happy and hopeful.

Then my mysterious physical disorder flared up. It physically paralyzed me. I stayed wide awake for four days straight. With not a second of sleep. I screamed night after night til I lost my voice. I contemplated suicide.  Not because of depression, for once. I wasn’t depressed.

I thought I would die because of not sleeping day after day.

I thought about buying or stealing drugs to help me stop the pain. Someone gave me prescription pain pills illegally.   I was desperate. I took them. I took one. It wouldn’t work. I took a few more at once. They only took the edge off but I began feeling like myself again and was able to sleep.

When I thought it was a sinus/ear condition I believed that can always clear up but when the doctor told me it’s a chronic and currently incurable pain disorder that really has no professional treatment, I was absolutely devastated. It took everything I had not to crumble right there in her office.

Doctors often don’t like prescribing pain pills for pain disorders because they think people just want drugs and the chronic pain conditions can’t always be seen objectively with tests and sometimes pain pills don’t even work anyway. And I wouldn’t want to live on pain pills in general or take them frequently.

I had no idea what to do or how I would go on living. She gave me suggestions for how to ease the pain and prevent severe flare ups, like facial massages.  I never knew I can touch my face because I thought that would make it worse. Just the mere thought of touching my face horrified me. Many nights before the diagnosis, I would lay in bed and imagine a human hand stroking and massaging my face wishing desperately that someone could do that for me but never knowing it can really be done without exacerbating the pain.

I would imagine the hand in different skin colors and sometimes imagine it invisible.   When the doctor told me it’s not only ok but necessary for me to massage my face I was doubtful and terrified.   That night I kept thinking about it, trying to get the courage up. I would put my hands to my face then lose the courage to touch it. Then one moment I touched my face. Then I pressed on it and massaged it and I couldn’t believe it actually mitigated the pain. It wouldn’t take it away but made it almost bearable.  

The more I massaged it each day, the less my pain would become. Now that’s one of my greatest techniques. 

The thing that helped me cope with my physical pain disorder is my depressive disorder.   Because of years living with a depressive illness and learning ways to cope with it, I was already used to making myself better with personal development techniques and positive/optimistic thinking.  So this prepared me for the worsening and diagnosis of this physical ailment. I knew I am strong enough to handle this.

One of the many great things about struggling with a severe depressive illness for years and working hard to get better is, it can strengthen us beyond belief and prepare us for anything, if we allow it to. I always thought of my depression as a “curse” for the most part, for many years, but it’s actually one of my greatest blessings, as horrific and agonizing as it is.

It made me so much of what I am today.  

Suffering with severe pain of any kind can be excruciatingly lonely. When I’m suffering with a severe flare up of TMJD pain, I see everyone around me going on like usual not even realizing how incredibly blessed they are. So blessed. To be able to go on like nothing ever happened, having fun or not, laughing, eating, planning, talking, sleeping…

Not in severe anguish or despair. It’s like that with depression too.

But depression and physical pain can also open us to realize the simple but profound blessings all around. When I’m in too much pain, either physical or emotional, to do much of anything, I often see things in a way I overlooked before the pain flared up.

I see the moistness on cold soda bottles, the vibrancy of the colors in Nature, the texture of food…and I would do just about anything to go back. Back to where I was before.   When the pain wasn’t so bad.

The good thing is that we can strengthen or develop the habit of seeing the simple greatness surrounding us so even when we aren’t in agony, we can bask in the simple treasures of life. I often do this more now, even when I’m not in pain.  

That’s the good thing about pain. It can teach us so much. But not everyone will experience pain to that degree and depth and I hope they never will.   I want to teach “ordinary” people without pain disorders to be constantly and consciously grateful for not being in pain, for all the simple things, the beauty of life.

Many people will say they’re thankful for everything when the concept arises but I believe we should think about it more often than just occasionally. 

I don’t want tragedy to have to hit to make people awaken to the beauty and gratitude and abundance we are blessed with.

I will admit, sometimes I feel sorry for myself when I’m in too much pain. Especially at night when I’m in my bed or pacing back and forth in my bedroom while all the world around me is asleep and I’m in my own hell suffering beyond belief.   And I believe that’s ok. Ok to feel sorry for myself on seldom occasions.  But I don’t make a habit of it. Instead I make a habit of being strong and thankful and optimistic and positive whether or not I’m in pain.

My heart goes out to all who are suffering or struggling with pain of any kind, physical or emotional, whether it’s chronic or temporary.   When I’m having a severe  flare up, I hurt for myself but all I can mostly think about is the ones who have it worse and my heart breaks for them. There are people living in constant agony and not just occasional flare ups. And some people’s situations makes it harder to handle or live with. Since I myself have pain disorders I thoroughly understand what it’s like. Even if I never experienced chronic pain or severe agony I would be compassionate and understanding for people who do have it but the fact that I have it makes me understand more what it must be like for people always suffering.

Whenever I have a severe flare up, I try to make it a point to list a few things I’m thankful for. I have a choice to either sink into despair and focus on the pain all around or focus on beauty and hope. Today I choose Hope & Beauty.

Here’s my list:

1.) I’m thankful for the books and plays I’m blessed to have come across.

2.) I’m grateful for the songs I’m blessed to know.

3.) I’m thankful for personal development/self-help techniques

4.) for posting here

5.) for the people I have met on and off line

6.) for my body that functions very well

7.) for everything I have learned

8.) for the cold weather

9.) the beauty outside my window

10.) for blogs

11.) for animals

12.) for life

Pain is real. So is hope.

Much love, blessings, & strength to you all.

Xoxo Kim

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