Tag Archive | personal development

Empowering

…your thoughts have far less impact on this world than you would like to think. If you’re willing to be objective and watch all your thoughts, you will see that the vast majority of them have no relevance. They have no effect on anything or anybody, except you. They are simply making you feel better or worse about what is going on now, what has gone on in the past, or what might go on in the future. If you spend your time hoping that it doesn’t rain tomorrow, you are wasting your time. Your thoughts don’t change the rain. You will someday come to see that there is no use for that incessant internal chatter, and there is no reason to constantly attempt to figure everything out. Eventually you will see that the real cause of problems is not life itself. It’s the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes problems.

This is out of a book called Untethered Soul. It is a personal development/spiritual/self-help book. Those are my favorite!

I began reading the book a while ago and it doesn’t hold my interest. Usually when a book interests me, I’m already hooked after the first couple pages but this I can’t seem to get into. So I stopped reading it then started it again then just deleted it. But out of nowhere, the book started stalking me! Lol I began seeing it in person in people’s houses then soon began seeing people sharing it on social media and raving about how incredible it is. So I decided to give it another try. I haven’t given it much of a chance. The first few pages did not resonate with me even after reading them again. And I found it kind of boring. It doesn’t ring my bell. Lol

But I decided to give it another go! It may turn out to be the most inspiring book to me!

This excerpt I shared above is a good one out of this book! It does resonate with me and is very wise!

One thing that can help when our head is full of chatter that serves no purpose is taking a few deep breaths and focusing on each inhalation & exhalation and remember to give our time & energy to things that serve us well. Why give power to thoughts that are useless and negative like wishing things are different than they are? Instead we can choose to engage in productive things like breathing exercises to quiet the mind & calm the body. Just a few minutes of conscious breathing even just once is so powerful.

In case anyone is interested, I think the core message of the book is

To thine own self be true.

But also, it seems to be about going beyond the self.

So that’s interesting!

It’s on amazon Kindle and also there’s a physical copy.

If you read this book already, did you like it? I would love to know!

I hope you are having a beautiful day or night wherever in the world you are!

Xoxo Kim❤

Thou shalt not steal

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Recently I heard Christian people on the radio talking about the Ten Commandments in Biblical Scripture. I’m not a Christian woman but find their conversation deeply inspiring. The men were saying the language (I forget which one but for this post it’s not very important anyway. I think it may be Hebrew?) directly translates into English as “Do not steal”  but often we hear\read “thou shalt not steal.” The men said this second phrase “thou shalt not steal” is much more powerful than “do not steal” and before they started explaining I was a bit confused. At first glance, at least to me, a command such as “Do not steal” seems more direct and assertive, even threatening, than “you should not steal.” Telling me not to do something can be an implicit threat or warning “Do not…or else..” where telling me I shouldn’t do something seems a bit more passive or laid back. It doesn’t seem like a command or demand. It’s more like just someone’s little opinion.

I’m not a big fan of telling others or myself what we should or should not do. I think “should” can be too limiting and contribute to feelings of failing or too much pressure. But soon I realized what these Christian men were talking about and it’s very powerful and can apply to us all, not just Christian and other religious people.

“Should” or “should not” is more like an internal thing while someone else’s commands, laws, rules, threats, abuse, opinion…..are external and cannot affect us if we do not let them. “Do not….because I said so” is authoritarian and someone else’s rule slapped onto us. It may or may not be a good rule but it’s external and we can rise above whereas “should” is something moral, internal. Of course someone else’s opinion of “should” is external and “should” is subjective but it’s more of an internal truth.

There are some things, in my opinion, we really should not do, like kill innocent beings, steal, spread vicious gossip, sexually assault….to name a few. That’s my truth and it’s more powerful than someone else telling me not to. It’s illegal for me to kill an innocent human but it runs deeper than the law telling me not to; I truly believe I should not kill an innocent person (or any innocent sentient being) and if I ever did I would have a bigger problem than being in legal trouble. I would have an internal struggle knowing I did something very wrong that resulted in the pain or ending of someone else. It’s not illegal to kill most insects at least where I live, and I don’t negatively judge those who do, but I do not kill them on purpose and when I do accidentally, I have a struggle within. And there are occasions people said things to me meant to have an effect I did not allow it to have. There are occasions I experienced domestic violence and was physically forced to do or not do something that wasn’t my choice but I did not let it destroy me and know it’s not a reflection of who I am and that this life is still beautiful with so many beautiful things and I kept my mind calm even though externally it was chaos. When I am abused the abuser is degrading itself, not me. Murderers, sexual predators, bullies, those engaging in vicious gossip only degrade themselves not those they hurt or try to hurt. We may be hurt, broken, devastated, traumatized, petrified, bleeding, bruised…..but we are not as destroyed as those who tried to destroy us. And we can stand up & rise again.

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(not my photo)

Abuse of any kind, vicious lies being told about us, others trying to control us, societal expectations…..these are all external and can affect us greatly if we allow it. But with work, practice, meditation, self exploration, self love, other positive things….we can rise above and others cannot touch us. Even if they do physically, it will not drag and keep us down or touch our essence. What matters is what we know, our own truth, knowing, attitude.

It’s what’s inside that is more powerful than the outside.

Much love & light to you always! Thank you to everyone who reads my content & those who comment! When I see a comment I always or almost always respond usually with a comment back or a “like” and if I seem to ignore it it’s very likely I did not see it. I appreciate every comment & everyone who reads! I have a whole lot of catching up to do! I got a new job recently and worked nineteen days in a row! But I love it! ❤😍😀

~Hugs~

xoxo Kim 

Sometimes we can all use a reminder <3

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I’m reading a novel called “When Crickets Cry,” and it’s beautiful, I read over half. It’s quite the page turner. 

It’s another one of those books I got just because I like the title/cover. I think I mentioned here before that I do in fact judge books by their covers. 😀 It’s ok though, it’s usually a positive judgment!

;-D

And here, I actually love the content as well!

I’m going to write about it later after I read the entire thing. I have so much highlighted throughout the book that I find beautiful and inspirational and there’s one thing I want to share today.

This is an excerpt or brief conversation out of the book.

It’s not a big spoiler in case you’re intending to read the book; it doesn’t give anything away to ruin the ending (not that I read the end but I’m assuming it’s no big shocker, however the concept does hone in on one of the main themes of the book) or anything. But if you would prefer not to know anything at all until reading it you know to stop reading here. This wisdom applies to all of us whether or not we read this book. 

A retired heart/transplant surgeon is talking to another character, the other character is the narrator of the book so he’s telling this of his conversation with the retired surgeon:

Surgeon:

“‘I knew a farmer once,’ he started, staring out over the fence. ‘Think his name was James. Had an orange tree, a lot like that one. It hadn’t bloomed in several years and wasn’t looking too good. Still had green on it, but not much. One morning I caught him standing next to it, sizing it up and murmuring to himself. In one hand he held a hammer, and in the other he held three twelve-inch spikes. When I asked him what he was doing, he told me to stand back, and then he drove one of the spikes into the trunk, about knee height. That nail split the thin skin on that tree, and the farther in he drove it, the more white ooze seeped out around the head of the nail. He drove a second at waist level and a third about here.’ He raised his hand level with his collarbone.” 

The second character asks:

“‘Why?’ I asked.”

Retired surgeon:

“That’s exactly what I asked him. You know what he said? “

Second character :

“I took the bait. ‘What?'”

Retired surgeon :

“‘He said,’ ‘Sometimes trees forget they were meant to blossom and just need to be reminded.'” 

Second character :

“I look at the three spikes and asked ‘Why not ten spikes?’ He shook his head and eyed the tree. ‘Nope, three is a good enough dose. Don’t want to kill it, just remind it.'”

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I think this is perfect. Sometimes we do need reminders that we are meant to bloom, meant to be fantastic, to be amazing. And it’s good to gently remind others as well as ourselves. 

Have you ever given up on who or what you are for any reason? Maybe you kept trying and not succeeding how you intended. Maybe you were criticized by others in some way, rejected, hurt, broken, exhausted….so you just quit.

Maybe quit something specifically or just quit participating fully, in this life, just walking around feeling stagnant, bland, blah, depressed, maybe succumbing to your bed or walking around like a zombie, not taking advantage of the gift of life we have all been blessed with.

It’s ok, you just need a gentle, sweet, reminder now and again to get back up and embrace you for you.

Since I’m prone to depression, I need reminders, sometimes frequently. Reminders to get back up and blossom into the me I know I am underneath the despair and pain.

I also appreciate the message of gentleness here. 

“Nope, three is a good enough dose. Don’t want to kill it, just remind it.”

We don’t want to be preachy or offensive, giving unsolicited or uncalled for, unwelcome advice, or use a condescending tone. There are appropriate occasions and appropriate ways to provide someone with truly uplifting, comforting, and inspiring reminders. 

It’s almost never good to say “get over it,” “pull yourself out of it,” or “it’s not that bad,” even if we’re intending this in a positive way, when to that person it really feels like the end of the world.  

It’s good to be firm but warm in some cases. 

We can use our intuition or knowledge to detect what stage of the problem someone is in. For example, if someone just experiences a breakup of a relationship or loses a person or pet to death, it’s probably not at all helpful to be saying potentially inspiring, motivational,  or uplifting things like “you’ll move on, find someone better, heal quickly, be happy again, recover….” those things are appropriate in some cases, at some stages but it’s too soon when it just occurs. No one really wants to hear it when two seconds ago, the person’s heart was ripped out and trampled on or when the person is currently in the throes of the deepest, blackest depression. 

At first it’s good just to attempt to provide a sense of comfort, listening, a hug, just being present, helping the person with everyday tasks to make things easier…

Also, sharing quotes, songs, and books on social media just to people in general is a great idea, then people can find it that way and can embrace it or leave it without it being in their faces or condescending. If it resonates with them, they can pursue it more, if not, they can click it off.  

Please, don’t give up, find your little specks of “green” that you still posses like the tree in the little story above. So much wisdom. Then nourish those bits of green in you until they blossom into beautiful vibrant leaves like the dawn of Spring. Keep going, baby, you got this!

😀 

Xoxo Kim ❤

Possibility

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“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”~
Thomas Merton

There may never be a perfect moment for beginning. You don’t have to wait until things are different, better, perfect…don’t wait til you lose five pounds, have more money, are married, have kids, graduate, go on vacation…begin now! There is no better moment than here right NOW!

😀 There are opportunities in everyday to do at least one thing you want. Exercise, apply for that job, reach out to help someone, take that first step…

“The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.”~
John Lennon

Yes! We don’t even need the answer, the destination, the results right this instant! Just that glimpse of possibility is enough to give us that spark of hope!

“Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything’s possible again. You live in the moment, you take it all one day at a time […] You try to walk in the light” ~
Marie Lu

Yup! Live for right now! Forget what held you back yesterday, the arguments, the negativity, the grudges, the attempts that did not work out, the mishaps…today is a new day full of endless possibility! 😀

“All the possibilities of your human destiny are asleep in your soul. You are here to realize and honor these possibilities. When love comes in to your life, unrecognized dimensions of your destiny awaken and blossom and grow. Possibility is the secret heart of time.” ~
John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Look within. Build yourself up. Empower you.

“Just because an apple falls one hundred times out of a hundred does not mean it will fall on the hundred and first.” ~
Derek Landy

Just because it never worked out before now and you found yourself falling over and over and over, doesn’t mean that one winning moment is forever out of your reach. Never give up on what you really want.

😀

I wish you the best in all you choose to do for you and others for the better. Much love to you.

Xoxo Kim

On Empathy

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“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” ~ Henry David Thoreau ❤

I have thin, super thin, psychological boundaries but I have learned to handle it well and I see it as a true gift and pure strength. Thin psychological boundaries means I often have difficulty emotionally separating myself and others. When someone suffers either physically or emotionally or experiences pleasure or joy, I feel almost as if it’s happening to me. It literally hurts me, even physically when someone else hurts. And elates me or fills me with sheer joy when someone else is thrilled or elated.  Even if the person isn’t someone I like much or someone I don’t know or even on TV or a fictional character in a book. 

One day a psychic program on TV was on in my house.  I don’t believe in psychic abilities or that psychics are real but it can still be interesting. 
I was sitting on the sofa while it was on and saw parts of it. 
The psychic lady said a lady’s neck was snapped by a murderer in some room in a house somewhere that the psychic lady was standing in and the psychic lady got all worked up saying she has to get out of there because she was so disturbed over what she “saw” and she said she “saw” marks on this lady’s neck and she was holding her own neck and my neck started throbbing and felt all bruised and my head and face started throbbing on the one side, the side where I usually have the cluster-like headaches, and I was holding it the rest of the day off and on! And I felt the dead lady’s neck injury and the psychic’s emotional distress all day. I know it was “empathy pain,” not really something wrong with my neck. Not an actual headache. I was still happy that day, it doesn’t usually overly interfere with my own life.  And I don’t believe what the psychic lady was saying but I believe she may have believed it. Or believed it to some extent. Or is great at acting.

 I felt so connected to that psychic lady, deeply connected. Both of us did not have a neck injury at all but both of us experienced both physical sensation and emotional distress over someone else’s painful situation. I often get “empathy headaches” when someone has a headache. I usually keep it to myself so as not to or appear to be taking the attention or sympathy off of the true sufferer. 
 
There have been occasions I was so overwhelmed over someone else’s pain or sickness I succumbed to my bed for an hour or more. I can handle emotional pain better than serious physical pain so it’s often the physical pain that overwhelms me more when someone else experiences it. Both kinds of pain can be just as bad and painful, it’s just that severe physical pain is more difficult to me. 

It’s ridiculous and a bit uncalled for to have empathy to this extreme. I can still be empathetic without going to this extreme but it’s not my choice. I don’t have it like some people are said to have to the point they’re almost “psychic” like they feel an overwhelming sense of dread then something terrible happens. Or their chest hurts then someone in the room has a heart attack. It’s just when someone is already suffering that I see of or read/hear about, I feel it too. 

Also, unlike with some people similar to me in this way, such as my sister, I don’t feel overwhelmed in crowded places or have to retreat to a place of being physically alone to “recharge” or recover. I can handle crowded places and various people all around me. In fact, I usually prefer it to being alone. I am an extrovert even though I’m very shy around people I don’t know or don’t know well. And I can be around many people and not have to come home and rest afterwards.  I feel energized and uplifted in a room full of people, even if I don’t interact with them in anyway.  Just being physically near people lifts me.

I used to see my extreme empathy as a blessing as well as a curse but now I just view it as a gift. While it can be exhausting, annoying, ridiculous, painful, feeling as One with others can’t be a “curse.”

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I can usually sense people’s true emotions even when they are lying or pretending. I usually catch micro-expressions (the split second facial expression people reveal right before they show a different one – it’s the true feeling before they pretend to feel something else or try to cover it up. If they are angry, for example, anger will briefly flash across the face before they put on a fake smile) easily and can often sense people’s anxiety, elation, or anticipation. Sometimes when one person in a crowded room is extremely anxious I pick up on it even if I don’t know which one it is. I can often sense the overall mood in a room full of people. Whether most people are happy, thrilled, anxious, in a hurry, gloomy….not just see it on their faces but actually feel/sense the energy. 

I also understand situations really well even if I’m not involved or never have been. I can just clearly imagine things happening and why. I have a deep understanding.

I think authors of fiction books need a very developed empathetic ability. I’m not talking about being caring and compassionate but a deep, thorough understanding of how situations work even if they never been in a similar one. An incredibly deep imagination. They have to get in the heads of various kinds of people, even people who are so very unlike themselves, to bring their characters to life if they want them to be of substance, realistic, well developed, and believable. They have to imagine, deeply, how certain situations play out and conjure up the emotions of those who would be in those situations even if they themselves were never in those situations. They have to put themselves in that place. It’s absolutely amazing the skills fiction writers have! I love it! 

It seems that we often overlook their incredible empathy. We often acknowledge their incredible writing skills and even their amazing intelligence, maybe even the fantastic research they had to do for the book’s theme, but look at that empathy! They can write an entire book as if they are that character or in the character’s head! Mind blowing! I don’t see/hear people praising this enough! It’s the same for actors who have to play characters and not just act, but feel, literally (mentally)  become a whole other person! Incredible! 

Empathy. 

 It runs deeper than just caring and compassion. Someone can still be caring and compassionate but not really *feel* or understand someone else’s situation.

And someone can experience a kind of empathy but not feel concern or compassion. For example: I feel the pain of others even just watching movies that aren’t real. There are scenes in movies where a “bad” character is getting hurt like getting hit over the head or something by someone trying to protect themselves or others and I felt like my own body was being hit even when I wasn’t feeling much compassion for the character, even when I was happy when a character was getting revenge.
I have experienced empathy without compassion and compassion without empathy. They often go together but not always.

There are occasions I was empathetic and understanding enough to know something I wanted to say or write to someone would emotionally hurt or infuriate  that person and I said or wrote it to intentionally inflict pain or anger upon the person out of my own anger. I was empathetic in some way but not very compassionate in those moments. My empathy led me to know to some degree how the person would feel and I wanted the person to feel anger or sadness or pain. This isn’t usually a good thing and I think empathy is better used to help heal, not hurt. We also need compassion. 

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Most people have a basic ability to experience empathy; it’s a natural human trait we have that develops as we are growing up. It’s related to compassion. Certain experiences can deepen some people’s empathy. Some are naturally more in touch with theirs than others. And we can learn to deepen our basic empathy into something more. Paying more attention to people and all sentient beings, tuning into our own emotions, drawing on our own various experiences, meditation, trying to better understand, imagining what it must be like to experience something, focusing on the fact that when we suffer or hurt it’s a similar feeling to what others feel when they suffer and hurt…

Empathy isn’t just feeling someone else’s pain but also experiencing another’s joy, happiness, and pleasure.

I have known people who won the lottery, like 100 or 1000 dollars, and I felt like I just won. When I hear of someone getting a new job, job promotion, getting married or engaged, having or adopting a child, getting ready for vacation, I feel it too. The thrill, the anxiety, the anticipation, the sheer joy, the love. I can’t be feeling it exactly how they are as I have my own body and mind/mental/emotional experiences. But I can strongly and deeply sense it.

There’s a definite and deep connection. 

It’s hard for me to get jealous (although I have experienced jealousy and probably will again) of people when great things happen to them when I can bask in the joy and beauty of their experiences almost as if it’s my own. When one person wins, we all win.

I think about things like this often and was recently thinking about it again when I saw the news at work. 

It was startling to see on the news that in some countries people are dying of infectious diseases in the streets.  When they are sick or injured they are left for dead. 

One man of an African country, the man who inspired me to write this post here, was shown on the news laying outside dying of an infectious disease. He was writhing in pain and sickness and laying in a puddle of his own blood, a result of the disease’s progression. 

There were people standing around watching, sure to keep their distance so as not to contract the disease themselves. And then there was the person filming the horror. 

Some moments my empathy or feeling of connectedness is deeper and some moments I don’t feel as connected to what is before me.

The moment I saw the sick, dying man in excruciating pain and sickness, I felt more connected. I felt it with my whole body. A longing to take all the sick, hurting, dying people in my arms so they can feel my touch before they go or before they heal. So they can know someone cares, even if I contract the disease myself. What I felt was both empathy and compassion, a perfect combination. Empathy can inspire greater compassion. 

Imagine laying sick and in pain while people surround you at a safe distance and watch, you’re still so alone. No one will touch you. No one is coming for you, until after you die, to remove your infected, contagious body. Imagine them all staring at you, fear in their eyes, utter helplessness. For some of them, all they can probably think is that they’re glad it isn’t them. Truly, deeply imagine. 

But I felt an instant connection to a stranger across the world, briefly flashing across a TV screen. Someone of a different language, a different country, a different nationality, different culture, skin color, ethnicity.

I have never been deathly ill or left for dead. I never been to his country but still I know that underneath we’re the same.

Strip away all the outer layers of culture and language and color of skin, distance, financial status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and other experiences and underneath at a most basic, primitive level, we are One.

Our basic humanness exists the same underneath no matter the color of our skin, our level of education, career labels, class status, our location in the world, financial situations, our various experiences…..these things are important in some contexts, they contribute to different experiences and struggles for different people and it’s not always good or wise to overlook them, it’s important to acknowledge their circumstances(skin color, country, ethnicity, status in other contexts…) so we can get a better idea of their struggles and pain that may be different than our own, but in some cases they are completely irrelevant. Like in the case of raw pleasure and pain, sickness and health, living and dying. 

I’m not advocating for general “color blindness” or anything of that sort, like saying we should all literally ignore our differences such as skin color or class status. That isn’t good either because then we overlook the unique experiences and struggles that someone in a different situation than us may have. 

If we mentally block out or ignore the color of someone’s skin, ethnicity, or other factors or characteristics that are different than ours, in the name of compassion or “all getting along” then we automatically mentally block out or ignore the struggles that come along with those factors or characteristics.
People who say things like “I only have one race, the human race” or “forget skin color, we’re all human or all bleed red and that’s all that matters…” or something like that, probably have very good, loving, intentions but promoting that and living that way is NOT helpful. 
Ignorance in this way, is NOT helpful or wise or a good thing. 
This can contribute to lack of empathy and understanding of people’s situations pertaining to their own circumstances different than ours. 
It’s ok, even necessary to acknowledge diversity but accept it. But in some cases differences are irrelevant. 

Any one of us can be in the position that sick and dying man was in, our country and our money and our education or language or ethnicity won’t definitely protect us against diseases or death. For some people, truly understanding and realizing this in their heads, can deepen their empathy and compassion for others. And it’s just as bad when it’s someone else as if it were myself or someone I know. Just because I don’t know him doesn’t mean he’s a less important person than someone I do know. Or less important than me. It doesn’t mean it’s good to just go my own way ignoring his suffering. 

Some people are more at risk than others because of their location or discrimination they encounter and some have access to better health care but none of us are immune to suffering or pain and dying of disease or injury. And none of us are immune to being targets of cruelty or the indifference of others against our suffering or pain or sickness. 

Another thing I saw recently that disturbed and actually offended me(and I’m not easily offended at all) is people getting all happy over some podcast about *real* murder victims. They were talking about how thrilling it is to watch or listen, how they can’t wait for the next ones, how it’s so exciting, how fascinating! Not once did I see any one of these people expressing sympathy/empathy or compassion or sorrow for the victims and their friends/family. These are REAL murder victims, flesh and blood, like us, like people we know, some of them children, some adults, who were brutally murdered in cold blood, some tortured, raped/sexually assaulted, destroyed and discarded like they were nothing, not characters in a book or movie or story, real people. I understand taking interest in these stories but no one here displayed sympathy in even the most subtle way, not even an underlying hint of concern for those involved in the devastation, expressed in their tone. It was all just pure pleasure for their own benefit of sitting around listening to it and having fun while drinking coffee all warm and cozy at home. It made me cringe.  

I don’t believe for a second that these happy people who “can’t wait” for the next podcasts about homicide victims, these people who are “so thrilled” over victims murdered in cold blood, tortured and thrown away like trash on the side of the road, are horrible people or sadists, or that they aren’t generally loving and compassionate and empathetic. They may not be, generally, any less caring or empathetic than I am. I don’t believe they were taking pleasure in the pain itself that the victims endured.  It’s the mystery and thrill they get to experience, secure and embraced in the comfort of their own safe homes in their pj’s with their cups of coffee.

 But they were too “detached” in my opinion, in this, here, case. It’s complete thoughtlessness. They were too wrapped up in their own lives and pleasure they put up too much of a barrier. So much so, they are thrilled over real murder victims. It hurt me to witness and I know if it were their own friends and family members or themselves abducted, murdered, targets of rape and other sexual violence, it wouldn’t be so thrilling. They wouldn’t be so eager to see what’s next. I can just imagine a devastated person close to one of those poor victims reading that people are sitting around getting off of the violent, senseless deaths of the people they knew and love. It’s dangerous to let ourselves become numb to the real tragedy, suffering, and pain of others. Even when those are people we only see through a glass screen on a tv or voices we hear through a phone, radio, or words we read through a computer monitor. Even just distant echoes of pain that come to us through some invisible radio waves in the air. Those are real people. That is real suffering. 

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I think it’s important to always tune in to our empathy and compassion whether or not we have ever experienced something similar to what someone else has. And whether or not we know those people well or at all. We do know they are someone, someone just like us. 
Like us, they have/had a name, a story, a dream or goal, needs, and desires, love, joy, pain, sorrow, and happiness. 

Let us be happy for those who are well and happy and successful and full of joy and have compassion, concern, understanding, and empathy for those sick, injured, and in pain, dying, grieving, struggling in any way. But we don’t have to not allow ourselves to be happy because other people are struggling. It’s ok to be happy for our own blessings. Gratitude guilt is not necessary. It won’t help anyone or anything. Dragging ourselves down or not allowing ourselves joy, thankfulness, or happiness, just because others are not well will not contribute to overall goodness to the world, all it does is put more unhappiness or suffering into the world. 

And also, one day we may not be as fortunate in the ways we are now so there’s no need to feel guilty anyway just because we are well and others aren’t. As I said, none or us are immune to tragedy and pain. Next week my house can burn down, you may experience the break up of a close relationship, someone we know can die, we can be diagnosed with a terminal illness….But no matter what, there’s always something to be thankful for and happy about, even in pain, chaos, destruction, grief, depression, anxiety, homelessness… 

I think we do need some emotional boundaries but not too thick. A healthy kind of detachment is good to prevent burnout, exhaustion, being overwhelmed…. but not when it’s blocking our empathy and attempts at true understanding to some level. Not when we are so detached we forget the real suffering and pain of others. Not when we’re so detached, we feel pleasure associated with someone else’s horror or painful circumstances. 

It’s great to experience gratitude for our own happy circumstances and everything but not good, in my opinion, to get so wrapped up in it we forget about those who aren’t so fortunate now, in the ways we currently are, or tune out the depth or degree of their pain.

Empathy won’t always cure diseases or take away someone’s pain and it likely won’t help us in one country be able to immediately help someone dying in another country. But it can motivate us to reach out in some way, maybe to people physically near us who appear to be struggling or people we know online, or reach out to write to people with more power than us, like politicians or people in charge of something related to the issue at hand, or ones who have good things happening to them and we can share in their joy, letting them know how happy we are for them, how proud or thrilled for their accomplishments or fortunate situations, maybe to write a comforting message to someone in need, maybe just to share a link with info about a health condition or situation that needs awareness, to bring more awareness to it and help educate more people. And maybe someone with more resources can see what we share or post and help in ways that we cannot yet help. 

Instead of merely thinking “I’m glad it’s not me” or “that could have been me…” and just going about our own lives forgetting the pain of someone else, we can still feel gratitude for our own fortunate situations but extend our empathy and compassion and realize it’s just as bad when it happens to someone else. It’s realistic to expect people to be thankful some tragedy or unpleasant circumstance is not happening to them but everyone is someone just as important as ourselves and our own friends and family and they feel suffering and happiness the same way too.  We can shift our focus a bit – instead of just being thankful we, ourselves are ok, we can focus more on compassion for those who are struggling in any way.

~Hug the hurt
Comfort the sick

Kiss the broken
Befriend the lost
Love the lonely~ 

And when something amazing happens to someone, even if we wish it would happen to us, instead of resentment, we can bask in that person’s happiness. 

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Deeper empathy along with compassion can help decrease all kinds of things, bullying, cyber bullying, unjust discrimination, sexual violence, other forms of cruelty(against all sentient beings), apathy, even wars and stuff if enough people around the world including those in various governments would better tune into and develop their own empathy and compassion.

Empathy & compassion are great for practical purposes but they also are just amazing traits to possess. They make us better for them. I’m no better than someone who is less compassionate or with less developed empathy but I believe it’s better to have those abilities than not. I’m not better than a sadist, a murderer, a psycho or sociopath with no empathy, but I believe those people would be better people than they are now, in another way if they develop their empathy and compassion.

Not everything is just for practical purposes or actions. Sometimes it’s intentions or just what we are, our essence that counts for something and is beautiful. 

Empathy & compassion, especially a combination of both, can inspire and motivate us to act, reach out to others in some way whether just a simple act of comforting words or volunteering time or money for a specific cause or even just inspire us to hold our tongues when we feel like lashing out or motivating us to proactively speak out against someone else’s callousness, which can have a positive effect. 

Let us remember when we see someone suffering whether it’s emotional or physical pain that is the root of it, human or not, that it’s a very similar feeling that we would feel if it were us. This can make it more real to us and motivate us to reach out in some way, even in the most simplest way, a warm smile, a gentle touch, a kind word…even if it’s not similar to what we ourselves would feel, it’s still important to be empathetic and compassionate but realizing how similar we are underneath can help deepen our empathy. 

And let us not be overly jealous of those who are experiencing joy, happiness, and success even if we are not. Let their accomplishments and happiness inspire and motivate us, not contribute to us being depressed or jealous. It’s best for all of us when we are happy for and encouraging to one another. Let’s celebrate each other and bask in each other’s happiness and success and fortunes. 

There’s enough happiness to go around. 😀

Here are some links about Metta (universal love/compassion) & Empathy.

This explains what Metta is, the benefits, and the importance of cultivating an attitude or lifestyle which has Metta at its core.

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

Another explanation of Metta.

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

Here, the link below this, is fascinating research on the brain and empathy. Research reveals that when we are happy and things are going well, we are less likely to empathize with those not so happy or well. We are likely to perceive their pain or suffering as less than it really is. When we ourselves are not doing well, we better empathize with others. We are more likely to validate or realize the seriousness of someone else’s pain or low feelings. In fact, we’re more likely to evaluate someone else’s happiness as less than it really is when we ourselves are not happy. I suspected this before learning of this research. I saw evidence of this in certain situations including the happy people in warm, pj’s at home, drinking coffee while being thrilled over real murder mysteries and not expressing empathy, sympathy, or compassion for those involved.

There is good news. We don’t have to make ourselves suffer to empathize with others. Empathy & compassion are not fixed. 
Compassionate and empathetic people can become less compassionate and empathetic (so it’s important to regularly maintain our empathy and compassion) and those who are not very empathetic and compassionate can become more empathetic and compassionate. 
Some suggestions to maintain or develop empathy, compassion, and an attitude of kindness are meditation, routine mindfulness activities, volunteering to help others, meditating/imagining ourselves in pain and knowing others feel that too…

It’s also suggested that vigorous physical exercises can help deepen a person’s empathy. These exercises can feel physically uncomfortable and help us realize more what it’s like for others who are hurting in some way.
Let’s not go overboard and exercise so much it’s unhealthy but a reasonable dose of routine aggressive exercise can be quite healthy, both physically and emotionally. 

It’s important to do all we can to care for ourselves, be happy, be healthy, be grateful, but keep in touch with the suffering or pain of others.  

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201310/the-neuroscience-empathy

Desktop link to a video for a lovingkindness meditation.

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

Mobile version of the same video:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cpV7ERsM&app=m&persist_app=1
 
Even if you are already a very loving and kind person in general, you and the world can still benefit by practicing this meditation or ones like it. Meditation is calm and soothing and even if we are already or are naturally very compassionate and loving, we can still experience setbacks and it’s important to maintain whatever attitude or lifestyle we want to generally live. Like working out, we must keep up with it to keep it going strong. 
Even if we are naturally a certain way, we can strengthen it by making it more intentional and consciously applying it or deepening it.
It takes some practice and maintaining but is well worth it! 

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





My (somewhat recent) Dream {you can be greater than anything that can happen to you}

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As I posted here previously, I have vivid dreams that I frequently remember. Sometimes they’re inspirational.
My dreams aren’t usually bad, negative, or scary. They’re often strange. Bizarre beyond comprehension. And when not bizarre beyond belief, usually just quite ordinary like an extension of a normal day. But I can often gather little parts of them, bizzare or not, that can be analyzed or interpreted. I like my dreams. They seem so real. And I love that I remember them so easily, I even remember dreams I had years ago.
My dreams are so profound and so intense, like I can experience my emotions in my dreams just as strongly as during my waking hours.

I believe that dreams are usually just stuff we have been thinking about consciously or unconsciously whether it’s important or not so much. I think it’s often just our brains releasing everyday stuff in symbols or images as we sleep. Like a kind of replenishment. I think sometimes we have certain dreams for a certain reason that we aren’t consciously aware of. Some deep, seemingly unreachable, part of the Self is attempting to reveal something. I love the mystery of dreams and I think they often try to take unconscious thoughts and put them into the conscious mind.

Sometimes I know things unconsciously that I don’t realize in my waking hours. These messages come to me during my slumber and I’m often blessed enough to carry the message out of the dream and into my wakening.

In another post I mentioned that I have a recurring dream while I sleep sometimes, when I’m depressed and suicidal or having suicidal thoughts. The dream is someone chasing me and trying to kill me and in my dream I want so desperately to live and will do almost anything to survive. I’m passionate about living. My desire to live in this dream is overwhelming and I would do almost anything to save myself. This is a dream I usually only have when I’m depressed and having some degree of suicidal thoughts.

I believe it’s my unconscious mind letting me know I really do want to live, deep inside I want to live, not to listen to and give into the deadly thoughts and urges, that the depression is deceiving me into thinking I should die. The depression is clouding my Truth. My Truth is pure like sparkling white snow glistening on a cold Winter day. But depression comes along like a speeding truck headed straight for me, leaving tracks of mud upon my pure Truth. But no matter how much mud and soil and sludge it leaves upon my Truth, my inner self, my Truth and my authentic Self is still pure and sparkling, still fierce, still strong. No pain can take that. My Truth is that life is always a blessing even when it doesn’t feel so, that there’s always beauty and hope and something to carry on for, something to smile about and be thankful for even when pain or circumstances are overwhelming. No matter how much it hurts. Even when it feels like it will never get better, like all hope is lost. My truth is that I have a purpose and always will. My truth is that I want to live to inspire anyone I can, to share my own story, my happiness and sadness, my joy and pain, my beauty and my uglines, my strength and my weakness,and bring hope and healing to anyone in need.

A few months ago, I have been depressed again and had another dream. I dreamed that someone died. A woman named Angie. She’s not someone I know for real, I don’t know where my mind got her. I don’t think she’s based on a real person that I know of. But I read a fact about dreams that says when we see faces in our dreams they are people we once saw in our reality whether we remember seeing them or not, even if those people were never significant in our lives, even if we saw the face only once, and even if we haven’t seen them in decades. Our brain can’t make up faces.

The faces/people we dream may not, in the dream, be based on who they really are in reality. It’s just the same physical face/appearance, nothing more necessarily. The example I read is that as a child we may have watched a man pumping gas into our dad’s car then years later dream of a serial killer and it’s the man pumping the gas! His face! Lol So while the face is real he wasn’t necessarily really a serial killer, he was just a man pumping gas whose face made it into a dream years later and the brain made him a serial killer. In the dream the serial killer isn’t that man we remember pumping gas at one point. It’s that our brain just took his face to incorporate into a dream.
Now, I have absolutely no clue how true this is. And if it’s true I have no idea how someone found this out. How does someone know our brains can’t make up faces that never existed? Maybe it’s common sense how someone knows but I’m lacking that common sense or maybe some research reveals it somehow. Some kind of neuroscience? It’s fascinating but I don’t know much about it. I did go to college for psychology and took many brain classes, even held an actual human brain in my hands, along with a spinal cord. My professor had/has a human brain collection in her basement. They float around in jars of fluid. Lol please don’t ask because I don’t know!

She’s some kind of brain researcher in a lab and keeps the brains for her own entertainment. I would too! Lmao
This sounds like something out of some kind of science fiction or horror movie but it’s reality. So yeah.
I don’t remember over half the shit I learned back then. But it’s ok at least I’m humble enough to admit it! ;-D
It’s funny because sometimes I dream about this fact about dreams and faces that I’m not sure is really a fact. Lol
As a matter of fact, it’s only in a dream that I remember first learning it!
I don’t remember learning this “fact”/fact while awake. I dreamed about learning this then one day I woke up and thought it was just some weird thing I dreamed out of nowhere. Then I looked it up and saw it’s actually said to be a fact! So I must have learned it and forgot but my unconscious self remembered and had it tucked away until I fell asleep one night.
I haven’t found any reliable sources to support it.
So anyway, if this is true, Angie in my dream who died, must be real since I saw her clearly in my dream. Maybe her name isn’t really Angie.
Maybe in reality she’s not who she was in my dream. And hopefully she never really died.

Maybe I saw her on a bus one day years ago or in a class in college or in a picture on Facebook….who knows?
But in my dream she died. In my dream I did not know her well at all but the news of her death devastated me. This isn’t quite a stretch or unrealistic as in my reality I find the death of someone to be devastating, even the death of people/animals I hardly know or don’t know at all. Of course, it’s not as deep as for people who actually knew the person/animal but I am just filled with sorrow over the losses I hear of. I can see on the news that someone died or I read a Facebook status and am somewhat somber the rest of the day off and on or even the next few days. It’s not always equal for every one that I see. Some things hit harder for whatever reason.
But in my dream I was in a room full of people who all knew the woman who died. I don’t know where I was in the dream but in the dream it made sense. I think it may have been inspired by the building of the mental health clinic I go to for depression. There were big wooden tables and chairs, like lunchroom tables, and a lady in charge….in charge of what I don’t know…., she was going around to different people with a clipboard and paper and pen and when she got to me we sat on the chairs, facing each other. I was grieving and felt a kind of fear and I sensed this woman before me was trying to push the problem under the rug, not wanting to talk about the issue directly or in depth because it was painful and uncomfortable.
She asked me questions I can’t remember. She wrote down my answers. I even remember the paper in the dream, clearly. It was white with black text and black boxes to write the answers in.

Then the last question she asked me I do remember. She said something like: “What is the one quote you want to live by, choose a quote you truly believe in, one that is important, a quote you want to be the foundation for your life?” I thought about it for a few seconds and almost instantly a quote popped into my head. For real I was depressed and in my dream I was depressed and grieving. When I’m depressed I often have certain insecurities thinking I’m not good enough for anything or anyone and in my dream that’s how I felt.
I was afraid to answer. Feeling as if my answer wouldn’t be good enough. Just because it’s my answer, because nothing about me is ever good enough, it seems. I don’t always feel this way, only sometimes, especially when I’m depressed. And in the dream I felt this.
In reality I was feeling a bit hopeless.
It carried over into my dream.
And the quote that came to me in my dream:

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

I told the dream lady(who I must have also seen in my waking hours if that fun fact is in fact true, but I don’t remember her either, in my reality) and she happily wrote it down. She seemed impressed and she said to me “Now, you always remember that, don’t you ever forget it.”
And then I woke up.
I was and still am in awe of the beauty my brain creates when I sleep.
Of course my brain did not make up this quote. If only…lol if only my slumbering brain were THAT brilliant!
This is one of my favorite quotes that helps remind me whenever something bad happens, whenever I’m in pain of any kind, depressed, struggling with insecurities or painful memories of any past event or day, grief, struggling with tmjd “cluster headaches”….that no matter what it is, I can be greater if I let myself. I can be greater than anything that can happen to me. No matter how painful or devastating or tragic or sad. I have the power within to rise above it. And that goes for you as well. We can all be greater than anything that can happen to us. We don’t have to give our power to other people, situations, events, pain, things, or anything. Generally and ultimately, no circumstance, no person, no thing has power over you unless you allow it.
We have the power over ourselves.

In some special cases, people do have the power to control us, situations get the best of us but in the long run, overall, we have the power over ourselves. We can choose to take it back when it seems to be taken away and pro-act.

Sometimes I let my pain, both physical and emotional, repress my Truth. I let it conquer me and my life’s philosophy. I let everything else, everything I know to be true to me, take the back burner and my pain prevail. But then it comes to me in my sleep because it never really left me. It’s still my Truth. It was there all along. And my dreams remind me…

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I encourage you to listen to your dreams and your truth. Not everyone can remember their dreams at all or enough to interpret them or glean any inspirational or useful insights but if you do remember them, it’s possible a part of you deep inside is trying to tell you something. Listen. Listen to your inner Self. Not just your dreams while you sleep but your waking Truth.
You may have values, opinions, philosophies, virtues that you generally firmly believe in or live by or want to honor and live up to eventually if you don’t already. But pain, either physical or emotional, situations, unpleasant experiences can cloud those truths and they become muddled and repressed and the pain becomes your truth instead.
Maybe the pain tells you you can’t go on or that there’s no reason to. Maybe it tells you you’re worthless or that there’s no hope, no point, no purpose, no beauty, nothing but pain. Maybe it tells you that you aren’t good enough, beautiful enough, not equal to everyone else. Maybe it’s just so painful it feels like you have to die to end the pain, whether physical or emotional, or just curl up in solitude and give up on everything.

You can find and develop your Truth and authentic Self through reflecting, thinking, tuning in, meditating, writing, looking for evidence throughout your every day and your whole life to see what you really believe deep within, think about how you handle or have handled various situations and how you felt about the situations and how you handled them(were you sorry you reacted a certain way? Proud of your actions? Was there some sense of dissonance with how you reacted and how you felt? Did the two match up?), think about how you really feel deep inside around certain people, in certain circumstances, reaching out to others, photography if it’s your interest, searching through books, magazines, images and words and seeing what jumps out at you. What captures your heart and resonates with you? It doesn’t matter if you know why something captures you or not or if you never knew something appeals to you til now. Your deeper self knows. I got this idea off of author, Sarah Ban Breathnach, searching through magazines, stores, catalogs without the intention to buy anything, just listen closely and see what calls to you, what clothes, objects, jewelry, vacations, people… call to you? Which ones tug at your deepest parts? Which ones make your pulse speed a bit faster? Which ones make you tingle all over?….glue pictures to paper or a journal and it’s your self discovery journal/journey….keep up with it often to keep in touch with your deep inner Self who may be buried beneath layers of expectations of others or society as a whole or yourself that you think you should be, buried beneath fear, anxiety, pain, and anything else.

Your pain is very real. But pain clouds our judgment making it not sound so we forget our authentic Self and our deeper Truth. Don’t listen to that pain when it deceives you. Definitely listen to your pain, tend to it, embrace it if you can, accept it, let it teach you and strengthen you and deepen your wisdom, but not conquer you and delude you. That’s not you. It’s part of you for sure, maybe even a significant loud part that screams in your eardrums, screams in your face. But screaming and throbbing and being loud doesn’t make it true. The true you is what deserves to be honored even when your Truth isn’t screaming and loud. It’s quiet and gentle and calm and warm and deep, whispering inside but it’s evermore worthy of being honored than that loud, screaming pain that demands you to give up and lose all hope and joy. It’s more powerful than pain and delusions, quiet and gentle as it is.

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Sarah Ban Breathnach is amazing! I love her, and she’s one of my greatest heroes, though I never met her in person. I would love to though! The book I referred to above with the self-discovery activity is “Something More – Excavating Your Authentic Self.” She also mentions self exploration and authentic Self activities in her book “Simple Abundance.

Her books are mostly directed at women but they really can help anyone.

I wish you much love, hope, healing, happiness, and joy. And I hope you will always make the choice to honor your deeper self, your authentic Self, your Truth. Even when other people don’t like the true you, even when it’s hard to honor yourself. Always choose life, always choose you.

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

Princess – a short fictional story I don’t recommend…

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“Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will.” – Jawaharlal Nehru

Unless you want to be scarred for life like I am. Lol j/k but it’s seriously twisted! 

Recently I read a short story on BlackBerry Kindle like 47 pages and it’s another kind of insanity. An insanity you don’t even want to think about.

It sucked me right in and reading it was thoroughly entertaining but then it just got insane. At the end I had one of those “DAFUQ DID I JUST READ?!?!?!” moments. 

I’m going to write about it here, including the end so if you would prefer to read the short story before reading this then you know to click it off.

But like I said, unless you want to be traumatized forever, don’t. Lol

It’s a psychological thriller and in the reviews it is said to be dark and deeply disturbing. And it is!

It’s BEYOND disturbing.

It starts out with a mother helping her teenage daughter get ready for her prom, fixing her hair in front of a mirror in her bedroom, and her date is late showing up. The daughter is concerned that he’s standing her up and going with another person.

Her mother gets furious at this and spins the chair around that her daughter is in and yells in her daughter’s face that she is second to no one and the boy is probably just experiencing car trouble. Then in a split second the mother is back to her sweet self again smiling cheerfully at her daughter telling her that she’s the most beautiful girl in the whole county and everyone always knew it. That to me is a red flag right there that the mom may have some kind of issues going on getting furious in a split second to the point of screaming loudly in her daughter’s face then just as soon puts on a sweet smile and goes back to fixing her hair like nothing.
And the way she seems kind of obsessed with her daughter being “the most beautiful girl according to everyone.” It’s just weird.

The story switches scenes to where the girl’s dad is in a shopping mall. The wife is horrible to her husband and controlling and sent him out to find their daughter’s date or he would have to suffer her wrath.

So here the father is searching for a teenage boy to take to his daughter. I was confused at this point because the daughter seems to know her date, Josh, but it seems as if the dad is looking around for a random boy to take back.

Here, that’s exactly the case. Her father is looking for a random teenage boy to abduct! 

And call him Josh. Even though he’s not Josh.

The dad gets the boy in a parking lot, drugs him with a needle and takes him home, forces him to dress in a tuxedo before going into the house.

The scene switches back to home where the daughter is getting ready for her prom. They live on a secluded farm in the middle of nowhere and don’t know anyone.

The mom answers the phone and is 
relieved to hear that “Josh” just had “car trouble” and is on his way to pick up their little girl for the prom.

Here, the “daughter” is a mannequin! With a wig! Wtf?!  And the mom switches roles. First she’s the mom and the daughter is the mannequin. Then the mom takes on the role of the daughter and the mannequin becomes the mom!

The mom put on the wig and became the daughter and was conversing with the mannequin who is now the mom.

Then the dad came home with the abducted boy who they call Josh. The boy is utterly confused (as am I at this point..)as the dad tells him to wear the tux, answer to Josh, and do whatever his “daughter” (who is really his wife) says. The dad says he’s not explaining anything to just do as he says because he has a gun and will use it if the boy resists.

The “girl” walks down the stairs calling for Josh and she’s wearing a dirty pink dress that is too small. She’s clearly not a teenage girl but a middle aged woman. At first the boy thinks it’s a twisted joke and smiles then quickly realizes it’s a nightmare of reality.

The “prom” takes place in the basement of the house and there’s no other guests. Just the abducted boy and the husband and wife who is pretending to be the daughter. The husband and wife act as if there are other kids there though but they focus mostly only on “Josh.” They have punch and music and decorations and dancing. They pretend there’s a room full of kids and talk on a microphone to the audience.

The boy begins crying because he’s so scared but the woman/girl assumes/acts like he’s just so happy and moved over the whole prom thing.

The husband is relieved at this because if the boy doesn’t cooperate, the husband will suffer his wife’s abuse for him not doing a good job.

Then they go into a small room and the girl/woman shows her date a photo album and in all the photos is a mother and real daughter. The mother in the photos with the real daughter is clearly the woman now pretending to be a teenage girl. The photos are mostly of them at beauty contests.

The little girl who is the real daughter wins the beauty contests every year, she’s holding a trophy in every photo. But soon she comes to look very much like her mom (the lady now pretending to be the daughter) who is considered less than pretty and overweight.

So she starts getting second, third, last, then no winning place. The mom is obsessed with beauty and being/looking perfect. She tries to force this on her daughter. The woman pretending to be the teenager tells her “prom date” about how her mom was obsessed with physical beauty always trying to force her to live up to impossible standards, claiming that the judges of the contests were just jealous or something.

Then she puts the photo album away and forces the abducted boy to engage in sexual activity with her. He doesn’t want to but the dad has a gun and threatens him. 

So here’s a husband forcing a teenage boy to get it on with his wife! Who is pretending to be a teenage girl! Can you say, TWISTED?!

Something in the punch made it so the boy can be aroused enough to get it up even though he doesn’t want to.

Then they go outside and have some thing where they are elected prom queen and king.

Throughout the story the dad keeps reassuring the boy when he asks, that he will be let go and can go home at the end.

It’s a lie. They are planning on killing the boy.

It’s clear throughout the story that the husband is distressed over this whole situation and doesn’t want to participate but feels he has little say in it; his wife is emotionally abusive and forces him to do stuff.

It also becomes clear that this whole “prom” thing happens every year where the dad reluctantly goes and abducts a random boy, brings him home, he’s forced to engage in a “prom” and sexual things with the wife, then they kill him without anyone ever knowing.

Since they live in the middle of nowhere they’re less likely to get found out. No one ever thinks to look for the missing boys there.

I kind of guessed the end but got a couple things wrong. I thought it would turn out that years ago their real daughter was killed on prom night, I thought maybe a car crash going to the prom. And that the mom got so messed up over it she does this shit every year.

That’s kind of what happened but not quite.

At the end the boy wants an explanation since he’s going to be killed anyway.

So the husband tells him. 

Spoiler alert….
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.
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Five years ago on prom night his real teenage daughter was supposed to go to the prom with a popular boy named Josh. His daughter was unpopular and horribly bullied for her physical appearance and body weight. So when a popular boy asked her out it came as a shock but the girl was thrilled. She got all ready on prom night and Josh never showed up. So when she called him, he laughed at her and said all insults about her, said it was all a joke, that he would never go out with her, he was going with someone else.

She was devastated. Her mom showed no compassion and said it was all her daughter’s fault for not being good enough, for not being pretty, for being second to other girls.

So the girl ran outside and her dad went to run after her but his wife demanded him not to and said let their daughter think about what the mother said, that it will do her good or something. The dad reluctantly listened to his wife as he always does. Then later he found that his daughter hanged herself off the rafter things outside. He had to cut her lifeless body off the thing and watch her fall to the ground getting her pink dress all dirty. The pink dress the mom wears now for this freak show.

Then every year after that the mom set this up.

As the dad is telling the boy how his wife destroyed their daughter, he’s crying and says he misses his daughter terribly and how his wife couldn’t even show her some sympathy after her ordeal with the boy on the phone. He doesn’t even know why he goes along with this every year. He suspects it may have something to do with his own feelings of inadequacy that no one would ever want him, that he will always be alone. Years ago he always felt like that and was relieved that the girl who became his wife, wanted him forever. So he always did everything she told him to out of fear of losing her and being forever alone.

At the very end, the boy promises he won’t tell if the dad let’s him go, he says out of respect for his daughter he’ll keep it quiet. The dad is holding a gun to the boy.

Then the husband gets up, goes inside to the wife where she’s still pretending to be the daughter. And he tells her he misses their daughter so much. The wife looks confused since right now in her twisted head she is the daughter.

Then he points the gun at her and blows her away then does away with himself.

The end.

Bizarre ass shit, isn’t it?!

It’s sad and tragic and bizarre. 
The whole thing.

Not an uplifting read.

And some things you just can’t unread.

No matter how desperately you want to.

Lol

My heart breaks for that poor girl who died, feeling as if that was the only way out, like she was worthless and not good enough. My heart breaks for the dad who lost his little girl who he loved. He was wrong for killing the innocent boys he killed all those years and for killing his wife. But his anguish for his tragic loss is clear. It’s only fiction but it’s still sad. And unfortunately, stuff like this really happens(suicide, bullying, abuse…hopefully not the prom thing as well).
 
I believe the wife knew exactly what she was doing. That’s why she had to get a mannequin and keep making it a point to reverse roles, switching wigs and all. She knew to keep switching and to have to get a physical figure in place of a mother/daughter. She knew to relentlessly criticize her husband if he did not do exactly what she wanted. She knew to keep the thing a secret so she wouldn’t be in trouble.

While mental illness and feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, being verbally/emotionally abused are not the person’s fault and no one can just make them go away, when a person struggles with these things, that person has a choice. A choice to seek help, to overcome, get better, pro-act. The man couldn’t help it that his wife was abusive to him and that he had low self-esteem but that is no justification for abducting people, drugging them, and aiding in sexually assaulting them.

It’s not the wife’s fault that she had unhealthy views about body image but it’s no justification for forcing her own standards on her daughter, emotionally torturing her ’til she killed herself. The woman could have worked on herself to shift her views to more positive ones. She was projecting her own insecurity onto her innocent daughter. She could have chosen love over the abuse and bitterness. It’s not her fault she felt the need to have a fake prom every year, maybe she had some kind of mental illness(???) but she could have got professional help or worked on herself with self-help techniques to help this. So it wouldn’t have all ended in tragedy. There may be real people out there somewhere with something like this, people who dress up mannequins and pretend they are real for whatever reason. If that’s just a hobby for fun it’s ok even if people think it’s strange, but if it’s the result of serious emotional problems I think they deserve some compassionate motivation to seek help of some kind and deserve some sort of understanding. This is just a horror story but maybe there’s real people with these sorts of disorders or something. And if there are, it doesn’t mean they’re all dangerous like the people in the story.

And the poor daughter. She was emotionally abused her whole life by her peers and her mother. But suicide isn’t the answer. It’s a tragic, senseless choice. There’s always hope. 
Being bullied, humiliated, abused, depressed and suicidal is not a choice but acting on it by killing herself is. 
She could have worked on herself to realize her worth and know it’s never dependent upon her physical appearance, her body weight, or what her mom or anyone else says or thinks of her.
There’s always hope. Where there’s life, there’s hope. There’s always a way.

None of these people took responsibility for themselves. They let other people, unhealthy views, situations control them into doing tragic and twisted things. I think this is a great reminder to take responsibility. No situation or other person has the power if we don’t let them. We have the power over ourselves. 

I think this story isn’t meant to be thought provoking like this. It’s probably just supposed to be dark, twisted, insane, disturbing, thrilling. And that’s ok! Some people are into that kind of thing. I like some stuff like that too. But I still found some insights in the story that serve as great reminders. I’m happy I read it. Lol

We must know we have choices. Not realizing we have a choice can be almost as bad as really not having one but it’s not quite as bad as really not having a choice. We can learn we have a choice, be reminded, realize, see the light.

I think the only character in this story who really had no choice is the boy who was abducted. He had a gun held to him so basically he had no choice if he wanted to not be killed or threatened. 
But he has a choice how to handle the situation and his attitude, and reaction when it’s over.

People who have a choice but don’t yet realize it or are scared and act/think like victims deserve compassion but also deserve to be firmly reminded that it’s all up to them to change their lives and selves. Depressed people, homeless people, unhappy people, financially struggling people, suicidal people, addicted people, ones in abusive environments, ones letting a situation or other people dominate them, people working dead-end, life draining jobs…they all have choices. Positive, healthy choices. They don’t always know they have choices but they do, even if right now the only choice is something as simple as working on their attitude or taking small steps to get out of the situation. Small but significant steps.
Maybe they don’t always know what decision to make but they can seek guidance along the way.
Not everyone has a choice to change something significantly right this very minute. 
Not everyone is making conscious or intentional choices to get where they are.

But we can all make the decision to plan to change, our attitude or situation or both. Starting now. In small steps. Small steps are still significant.
And then we can work on that. For some it will definitely be more difficult than others.
Some people have more obstacles and disadvantages than others.
But we all have this life and twenty-four hours each day to do something. Something. Anything.
No matter how hard it is, people can change for the better. Even if it takes longer than desired. Even if it takes a lot of work. Even if it’s painful and seemingly impossible. 

We can’t help how we grew up, the people we have been surrounded with, the things they do or say, disabilities or illnesses, job losses or rejections….but we can always make the choice to do something to better ourselves and our situations.
Even if that choice for now is just meditating upon or planning to live up to a positive philosophy of life, quote or affirmation.

Even if that decision is planning in our heads to develop certain positive qualities we don’t yet have or strengthen ones we do have.
Even if that decision is to make a phone call, send an e-mail, walking into a building to ask for help.
 Many people feel that it’s cold and callous to say that certain struggling people have choices, that it’s not true, that it’s not being compassionate but none of this is true. It is being compassionate to help empower people to know they can get better, can take action, responsibility for their own lives.
To help people know that we are all dependent in some ways and can be independent in some ways if we really work for it.
There’s a healthy balance of gentle compassion and firm reminders of taking responsibility.
 
Some people really are cold and not understanding and and do criticize people in a toxic way when they have a choice but act like they don’t. But that’s not what I’m promoting.
We can be firm in reminders but still compassionate and loving and express deep empathy. 
The choice to do nothing is still a choice.
Sometimes we can find ourselves in places we are unsure how we got there.  It’s like we just ended up there with no say of our own.
But often it’s because of choices we have been making all along. Not always but often. Choices to do nothing, to settle, to take no action, to give in, to succumb to limiting beliefs. Choices to let other people and situations drag us down.
I have found myself in situations I was so sure I had no say in, no control over, I was a “victim” of sorts. But I later realized the roles I had in situations and what I can do now to begin getting out of it. If we realize we made choices that contributed to unpleasant situations then we can be empowered knowing that means we have the ability to make new choices that contribute to more positive situations.
If you make choices that contribute to unpleasant things then you can make choices that lead to positive things. 
 And it’s true we don’t always have choices for everything.
But whether or not we had control all along, right now the choice is ours.

Xoxo Kim

Rainbows & Stars

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“When it rains look for rainbows, when it’s dark look for stars.”

So, I stumbled upon this lovely quote today! And it happens to be dark, dreary, and rainy as I write this. Lol My very favorite kind of day!

To me, chilled, dark rainy days are not gloomy and depressing as many seem to feel. I LOVE these kinds of days. They awaken something lovely inside me. I also love sunny, warm, days with clear blue skies and fluffy white clouds! I love it all. All four seasons I am blessed to know all year long.

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I complain about the weather on occasion, I confess. Lol I don’t care much to admit it but I do.  I wish I can say I *never* complain about something as stupid as the weather and I can  say that!  But it would be a lie. Lol And since that truth is kind of relevant to this post, I am here to admit it! ;-D And I’m generally very open and honest about myself. 

There are days it’s hot and I wish it were cold. There’s cold days I wish it were hot or warm(although rarely!). I don’t think there’s ever a rainy day I wish it weren’t raining though! Bring on the rain any day! It’s the same with snow! I love it! I love diversity though so it’s great that all days aren’t rainy or snowy.

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But, this quote is a beautiful and simple reminder to appreciate the things that are going well even in the midst of negativity and pain. Some situations in this life seem overwhelming and unbearable and sometimes it may seem that even if there’s good things, the bad things are currently outweighing the good. But we can’t always change our current situation immediately.

Even if the unpleasant things seem to be more deeper or prominent or frequent than the pleasant things, we can still make a conscious decision to focus more on them when we can’t change the negativity or pain or unpleasantness right away.

This develops and strengthens our habit of appreciating everything we have no matter how big or small or simple. 

This ability is like a muscle. The more we work at it, the stronger it becomes. And even after it’s developed, it must be maintained so it doesn’t diminish. We have to practice, practice, practice even when we don’t feel much like it. Just like if you build your muscles. You can’t do all that work, develop a six pack, then stop and expect it to stay! It has to become your way of life.

It’s the same with positive mental habits. And negative ones too. The more you give in and complain and over-focus on the negativity, the stronger your negative habit becomes and the stronger the hold is it has over you. 

But negative habits can be replaced and overcome!

Of course, we have to tend to and think about unpleasant things and healthy venting is often necessary but we don’t have to dwell on it. 

Even in the throes of tragedy, depression, physical illness, pain of any kind, grief and loss, serious distress, this habit can be cultivated and maintained. It will not cure our problems, take away all of the pain, but it will help us cope and see the sunny side of things or at least see the sunlight seeping through the dark rain clouds even when the situation itself has no sunny side. Metaphors, I love them! Lol 😀

It was also raining a few days ago and I got some photos of the rain! As best as I can with just a phone’s (and a broken phone 😦 ) camera.

I have been feeling my creativity blooming again. I get these “things” every now and again where I’m so incredibly inspired to do something but don’t know what or how. It seems to come more when I meditate more frequently. Or read certain things. Sometimes it just comes out of the blue. I’m currently reading a novel (mystery) about a mysterious painter. I have a feeling it’s inspiring me on some unconscious level! 

I want to create create create! Photos, paintings, poetry, writing….anything!

My wonderful phone (even though these phones break so easily and quickly like inside for seemingly no reason, they are still wonderful phones, blackberry z10) has amazing photo apps which allow me to use bokeh effects, various other effects, and text on pictures, and much more and this sparks my creativity even more. I never thought of myself as creative but I think we are all creative to some extent, in some way, some more than others and some people are more in touch with their creative side. For some it comes so naturally and so easily, it’s ridiculous. (jealous) lol! 😀

But some of us have to struggle hard to find even just a thin sliver of our creativity. (That’s usually me) oh well!   🙂

But I’m so thrilled when I get fun ideas and plans and actually execute them even when they aren’t the most beautiful creations. Creativity is another “muscle” we must keep nourishing to keep it strengthened and maintained.

Even if you don’t feel very creative or have many ideas, you can just put pen or paint to paper or take photos and see what happens! It can become easier and easier and more conscious. And creativity isn’t just for artistic stuff, it can be cresting or finding solutions to problems or anything!

I hope this quote is a sweet reminder for you to look around, look within, look up and always see, feel those rainbows and stars even through the hazy fog and darkness. 

Xoxo Kim 😀

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. When I was 18 years old. 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. 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 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 nerve. 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

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.

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!

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-like headaches but somehow I did. 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