Tag Archive | teaching

Wherever you go, go with all your heart <3

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

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

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

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

 😀

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be grateful for the purpose that things serve.

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll never be a neuroscientist. 

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

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

I will be love everywhere I go. 

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

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

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

Much love to you. ❤

Xoxo Kim ❤

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

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Offering the Victory – Universal Love <3

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

Hello loves! ❤

I hope you’re having a beautiful day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soon we begin to exude love and compassion and positivity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And let us give thanks for all our blessings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Links on Metta(universal love):

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

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

Lovingkindness meditation: 

Desktop:

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

Mobile:

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

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

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

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Xoxo Kim ❤ ❤

Serendipitous Strength

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

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

But anyway….i came across this question 

Would you rather be buried alive or stabbed to death? 

Horrible thought, right?! 

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

I would choose to be buried alive. 

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

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

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

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

We conquered our fear together. 😀

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicken shits. Lol ;-D

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

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(me with my medal of honor lol)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xoxo Kim 

How To Find Your Power

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“I could sneer, I could glare say that
Life is so unfair and the one who Made it, made it ’cause her breasts
Were really big” ~ Jill Sobule

I have never been starstruck or celebrity crazed. I’m not into TV, the personal lives of celebrities just because they are famous, their drama or the drama people bring to them. I find it appalling that people chase them around with cameras, seriously invading their personal space, nearly getting them into accidents, stalking them, stalking and taking pictures of their kids!!!, verbally bash them out of jealousy, and all the other nonsense. The fact that they’re famous and knew this would likely occur does not make it ok or make the barbarians any less responsible for their dangerous and annoying actions. Not all famous people necessarily want to be famous. Some want to do whatever the job is and just have to accept the popularity that comes along with it. Some probably want to be actors, singers, and other things that will potentially make them famous, but not the fame itself, still wanting to live a life not being known and heckled by everyone who looks at them out in public. Fame is just a byproduct of certain jobs. Some like it. Some don’t.  But whether or not they chose or want the fame doesn’t justify other people’s reckless and negative actions towards them when it’s interfering directly with their lives.
I don’t believe celebrities are generally any more or any less intelligent or wise than those in the general population. 
They just have the ability to reach many more people and affect people at greater magnitudes because of it, usually.
When they have wisdom and a message and a cause and a story, they can reach millions upon millions of people.

But we who aren’t famous can still impact a number of lives somehow. And just reaching one, touching one heart for the better is amazing.
I don’t care that they’re rich. That’s the life they chose. They work for it. I can probably be rich too if I were determined, dedicated, skilled, and motivated enough to do what it takes and also desired a job that happens to have a mind-blowing paycheck come along with it. But I’m not. And I don’t care. The kind of job I want won’t make me financially rich and it doesn’t matter to me. It’s the satisfaction and value to others that the job will bring that I’m desiring.

Many people argue that celebrities don’t deserve the money just for acting or whatever. While that may be true, the point is, it’s the job they chose and most of us can choose the job we want as long as we have the appropriate skills and ability and motivation. Not all of us want to be actors or are driven or talented enough to be even if we wanted. Maybe our calling just doesn’t happen to bring with it such money. If you’re fortunate enough to strongly, passionately desire something,whatever it may be, have the skills it takes to obtain and maintain it and become financially rich, all the power to you!

And if you have all that but don’t get financially rich for it, still all the power to you! What really matters is if you’re fulfilled and living how you want!
I don’t see that it’s necessarily unfair in a way, that they get so much money, more than I have and more than other jobs.  Because we can all choose to seek well-paying jobs if we have the skills. We won’t always get the job quickly, it may take a while, just like some celebrities struggle for a while before a big break and sometimes even after. And if we don’t have the skills, it’s not unfair. Some people are talented and geniuses at some things and not others. Some people have natural talents while some don’t. Some people have disabilities, illnesses, obstacles that others don’t. It’s just the way the world works. Many people have so much more than me. More money, more skills, more knowledge, more wisdom, more friends, more experience ….and many have less. That goes for most of us. It is what it is. 
I think some people with certain jobs deserve just as much money as celebrities, and appreciation they don’t always receive, police officers, doctors, and others who save lives and risk their own.
I don’t think it’s the celebrities’ fault though that they don’t get paid like that and they do.

We can make a choice to take what we have and do the best we can while letting others also do that even if they seem to have better circumstances. 
We can “bloom where we’re planted” while  encouraging one another, celebrate each other, cheer each other on, celebrity or not. We’re all in this together. We can allow the success, happiness, accomplishments, and fortunes of other people to inspire us, motivate us, and guide us instead of letting it depress us or make us bitter or jealous.
It’s true some people have it easier but no matter what obstacles stand in our way, we can prevail somehow. And even the most successful and happy, joyful people can encounter problems, pain, and stress.

Famous and rich people are not gods, not invincible, not necessarily people to look up to merely because they are celebrities, not people to hold to greater standards than other people and criticize harder when they fall, in my opinion, not people to hold grudges against or not takes seriously merely because of their celebrity status.
I know some people disagree and think they’re morally obligated to be responsible and send positive messages to others. It would be great if they do but I don’t think they’re really obligated. It’s great if we all set positive examples for each other. But it’s usually not our obligation. 
 But some are worthy of being looked up to as positive examples just like some non celebs.
Rich and famous people are susceptible to pain, death, tragedy, illness, breakups, bankruptcy, bullying, abuse, breakdowns, loss, eating disorders, substance abuse, grief, mental health conditions, stress, discrimination, being detested, suicide, accidents, overdoses, being stalked, attacked, killed, assaulted….just like the rest of us.

And rich and famous people can also share deep wisdom and inspire us, and bring light & love to our world. Just like people who aren’t famous or financially rich.

“I don’t wanna get bitter like you
Like you, with the darts in your eyes
Like you, with disdain for mankind
I was charmed, now I wonder” ~ Jill Sobule

I just found now, a celebrity who has quickly won my heart. Yup, I’m in love. 
Her name is Selena Gomez. 

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And the fact that she’s a famous person isn’t what inspires me. But if she were not famous I probably would not have the opportunity I now have been blessed with, to know her beauty.
I was doing self discovery/authentic self/art journaling activities, cutting out things in random old magazines when I came across something about Selena Gomez. I heard/read her name on various occasions but never really knew anything about her, never cared to, really. Just that she’s famous. I was never sure what she’s famous for, what she looks like, or anything else.
I do love reading celebrity personal interviews sometimes, no matter who they are, because I get a feel for the person’s true personality and we all know how much I love people. I’m just not more interested in celebrities than other people because of their status. 
I love looking at pretty girls in magazines and getting hair, makeup, clothing style….ideas and see lots of gorgeous faces and beautiful bodies all throughout the magazines but I don’t always read about celebrities, just look and cut stuff out for arts and crafts activities.
I saw this page in a magazine with incredibly inspiring phrases and I was thrilled! I was about to cut them out and glue them into my journal when I saw one that says “Support Your Girls.” I assumed it was about boobs and a great bra and looking pretty. And I thought wow can’t go wrong with that one! Until I read the phrase underneath which reads “I love my girl friends more than I’ve loved any of my boyfriends….
I realized it’s Selena Gomez who said that. And what she has to say is beyond amazing.
She loves her best girls and other girls she knows of, even ones she never met personally. Her friends love and support her and  stand by her always, including when the men she has been romantically involved with did not. She loves women who empower other women. Taylor Swift is one of those girls she loves who empowers other girls. And this other girl Demi. 
I love Taylor Swift also. She’s all for love and seems like a total sap like mee!!
Selena Gomez wants girls and women to stop comparing negatively, stop the competitions with fashion, best friends, and lovers and betrayal and just love one another, empower each other, support each other unconditionally.
 “My wish is that girls would love girls more.” 
Selena even loves girls who don’t love her back! Talk about amazing! She wants the best even for women who don’t return the love.
 “I’m going to support her whether she likes me or not because I think she’s doing great things.” She says this of a girl, Lorde, she never met but truly adores. This girl, Lorde, doesn’t like Selena, according to Selena, at least when this interview was going on, March 2014, I think.

Some day I will see her and we’ll be cool.

So sweet! I have loved girls and wanted to be friends with certain girls who did not feel the same about me. I would be thinking “we would be perfect BFF’s, soul sisters, she just doesn’t know it yet!”
Lol!
Have you ever met a girl and think you two would just be amazing friends but she doesn’t seem to think so? It can be painful but we can still love and empower one another even if we’re not or don’t want to be friends with each other. We don’t have to wish to see each other crumble or see each other fail even if we don’t like each other. Girls who don’t like me back still have my love.
There are also girls I would not want to be friends with but still send my love and well wishes.
I never felt that romantic love is necessarily more important than platonic love. It’s different but not more important to me. I don’t believe romantic relationships are more worthy of special recognition than platonic friendships no matter what the gender of the people are. I love all love.


I agree that it’s best for women to build each other up, not tear each other down. 

“Wise women don’t compete with each other; they empower one another.” 

Selena also teaches a lesson on saying no. She says “You can’t be afraid of what people are going to say, because you’re never going to make everyone happy.
She encourages girls to speak up when they don’t like something. She says saying it out loud is the first step to taking away fear. Say what you want. Express it when you don’t like something. She says that it took her a long while to learn this. Her friend Demi taught her this great lesson. Now she is teaching others. She explains that it’s effective to be direct, not aggressive. 
I had to learn this too. In cases with people taking advantage of my desire and willingness to help, I had to learn to say clearly and directly, NO. Not because I don’t want to help or be kind, not as a punishment or to seek revenge. 
To show people they can’t keep getting what they want by taking advantage. 
When people take advantage of our generosity and kindness to the point it takes a toll on us, we have to think of ourselves as well. Our own health and well-being is just as important as everyone else’s. If something doesn’t feel right to you, say no. And if you wear yourself out just constantly doing for others, eventually you may be too exhausted to help anyone well.

Selena provides a lesson on finding your inspiration. She looks to others for inspiration sometimes. Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Demi. She finds inspiration in their music, songs, in the different moves they make. What inspires you? Who inspires you? Look around and look within and and allow your heart to open to the inspiration all around. Then create. Do. Be.

She also encourages to “Pick your power song.” She loves her song “Who Says,” which she declares is her anthem for girls. She says that when she performs it, she stops singing and allows the girls to sing it to her so they can hear themselves say “Who says I’m not perfect? Who says I’m not beautiful? Who says I’m not worth it?” She wants girls to feel that. This is so empowering. The fact that she let’s girls sing it themselves, become active and actually engage instead of just listen is truly amazing. What a wise young woman this girl is.
I feel my heart well up with love.

 

She encourages us to “never change for a guy” and talks about how some men may be intimidated by strong women but it’s important to remain ourselves. This goes for anyone though not just a man/lover/boyfriend/potential love interest/husband. I encourage us not to change for anyone but ourselves. Don’t change who you are for parents who want you to live out their dreams, jealous girls who want to see you fall, friends who won’t accept you as you are, society…don’t change for anyone except yourself if it serves you well to change because YOU want the change.

One of the most beautiful lessons she teaches here is “Give Your Whole Self.
Selena says “I don’t feel like I can do enough for my fans. I work a lot, I work hard, and I get tired. But when you walk on stage and see these people who wait hours outside just to see you, it’s the greatest thing in the world.“. She states that she feels that her fans do so much for her and she doesn’t feel she can do enough for them. Her lesson is to give your whole self to people, all your love, your passion, your beauty. This can apply to any aspect of your life. Your work, hobbies your love, people you know, whatever you do, where ever you go, go with all your heart. Give it your all. Put your whole self into it. This is a beautiful way to live and love to the fullest. You don’t have to be perfect, you can be passionate and loving in all that you do. We don’t need perfection. Being passionate and loving is perfect enough.

And I think loving and truly appreciating and being grateful for her fans is enough. She embodies love so perfectly.

Selena Gomez is a wise and beautiful girl. Inside and out and our world is blessed to have her. Not for her music or work(that too) but for the powerful love she projects out into the world and the deep beauty of her life’s message. What a bright light. I would be honored to have a friend like her.

“So I’ll smile with the rest
I’ll wish everyone the best
And know the one who made it,
Made it cuz she was actually pretty good” ~ Jill Sobule

Xoxo Kim 😀

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(this photo isn’t mine)

On being humble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Beauty that Stalks the Darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xoxo Kim

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

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;-D

Celebrate & Love the Authentic YOU <3

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

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

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

Except of “Manuscript found in Accra”

Isn’t it beautiful?!

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

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

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

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

😀

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

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

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

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

And that’s good enough.

And always will be good enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xoxo Kim

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